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You can sew can’t you…

I am the go-to sewing expert ’round here. I did do dressmaking in school back in the 70’s and make bags now, but I get asked to sew all sorts of things! My least favourite is taking up curtains. It is not difficult, but I only have a 5 x 3 foot table to work on so I can never spread them out flat. That said, I have taken loads up, but also split one curtain into a pair and put a new linings in.

I do a lot of alterations for my niece as she is very petite and never seems to find clothes that fit her. Recently she has been going to a lot of formal functions and I have had to shorten her evening gowns. Just to make it more interesting she likes to have a sleeve and I have previously had to create some from the hem offcuts. In case it helps any of you I am going to share the latest makeover I did for her, on this dress from Dorothy Perkins. It is a polyester chiffon floral print over a plain polyester knit.

It was too long, and had no sleeves – but it was a bargain! Additionally she wanted me to take it up at the shoulders 1 1/4″. Not the quick fix of pinching the fabric up, folding it over and stitching it down inside for me! No, I unpicked the lining shoulder seam so I could get inside and shorten the chiffon and machine stitch a new outer seam. Then I trimmed the lining seam and hand stitched it closed. I sweated blood getting that done, the chiffon was awful to work with.

Next I took up the hems by three-inches. I wasn’t looking forward to the chiffon layer but happily You Tube came to the rescue yet again with this great tutorial! Suddenly it all seemed less scary.

1. Measure and press up the new hem

2. Stitch 1/8” from the fold

3. Trim the excess fabric away close to the stitching

4. Fold up again to form a narrow hem and stitch 1/8” from the new fold

5. Done!

The knit layer I did with my new Janome Cover Pro 2000CPX. This was the first project I have used it for. I got it in February, read the manual and tried out all it’s stitches; three needle cover stitch, two needle wide (remove the middle one), two needle narrow (remove either the left or the right needle) and the chain stitch with just one needle. While I was researching my machine I came across Johanna Lundström’s website and got some useful tips.

If you have been thinking about getting a Cover Stitch machine, or have recently bought one, check out her book “Master the Coverstitch Machine”. It is the ONLY book on the subject to date! She covers everything you need to know! I bought it and thanks to her I knew to try different thread when mine kept breaking, it didn’t like my big overlocker spool but it was happy with my Coats Moon thread!

Now I had to create some sleeve caps with the offcuts. I cut the fabric in half, one half for each sleeve , and joined the chiffon to the knit with my overlocker to prevent any fraying. The resulting strip was only 3″ deep, so I cut both bits in half again and layered them by attaching the lower one between the layers of the upper one. This made them almost 6″ deep.

Having tried pinning them on to see how they looked I took them back to the overlocker and tapered the ends, then I fiddled around quite a bit pinning them in place so both sides were level. I hand stitched them in place from both sides. I didn’t do any gathering and used the original hems so they were easy to do compared with the shoulder alteration!

So as you can see it all worked out well in the end, though I had not been at all confident when she asked me to do it. Finding that tutorial on taking up the hem was a life changer! It was a challenge, but that is how you learn – by stepping out of your comfort zone – very carefully!

at the ball….


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