How to build a skirt or a dress

This article could help those who have already ventured on the path of pattern-making. Creating a garment from A to Z is three or four times longer than following a commercial pattern: all the steps are longer and tedious: model choice (higher number of possibilities), estimation of the necessary fabric (unless you draw the pattern before, but most of the time I prefer to finalize my model once the fabric bought), pattern drawing (bilding a master pattern and then transforming it into desired shape) and the assembly of the garment (as there is no user manual). The last part is even more important car if done wrong, all the work done before is wasted. It it is essential to recall some general principles:

  • The pieces (with pleats, ruffles, tucks, darts and zippers) are constructed before being assembled together

  • The pieces are interfaced upstream to allow them time to cool down

  • The collar is attached before sewing the sides together

  • Finish the bottom of the sleeves and the sleeves before sewing them to the bust

  • start with the belt and finish with the hem

To take the example of a skirt, here are the steps:

1. Prepare the belt (cut it, interface it and mark the notches)

2. Finish the edges (interlock) of the front and back pieces

3. sew and iron the darts

4. Make the slot if there is one

5. Assemble the two back pieces and place the zipper

6. Sew the front and the back pieces togheter

7.If there is a lining, sew the darts, turn them in the opposite direction to step number 3, assemble the back with the front and finish the edges

8. sew the skirt over the top of the belt and the lining on the bottom

9. flip the whole, fold the waistband and stitch into the seam to keep the skirt and lining together

10. Adjust the edges of the liner at the zipper

11. work the slot and make the hem of the lining

12. sew the hem of the skirt

13. Finish with the belt buttonhole

If you want to make a dress, the steps are as follows:

1. interface the collar

2. sew the darts

3. sew the shoulder seam (and the shoulders of the armhole trim if there are no sleeves)

4. apply collar or neckline facing

5. install the zipper

6. If no sleeves, sew the armholes facing

7. If the dress has sleeves, sew the cuffs and the sleeve and prepare the sleeve cap

8. sew the sides of the dress

9. Insert sleeves

10. If there is a lining, sew the darts, stitch the lining on the facing, assemble the shoulders and sides, finish the edges, assemble the lining to the dress at the neckline and armholes

11. finish with hem of lining and dress

Having a precise idea of ​​the assembly order avoids errors and saves time. Obviously, each step must be well executed and the seams must be ironed between each step.

I hope you liked this post and do not hesitate to leave your questions or remarks in the comments, I will try to answer you as soon as I can.

A dress full of checks

I am going through a period of fabrics under-consumption: my sewing years have left me a lot of remaining fabrics and I am facing typical problems of our time: buy or reuse, store or throw away … I trust my economical instinct and I use my unused fabrics first, before buying new ones, even if these left-over fabrics do not always correspond to my desires from the moment.

So here I am in a phase of post-move lull. I glimpse through my fabrics and find a piece of cotton tartan. If you have been following me for more than 2 years, you may remember my 100% organic cotton pajamas, named “Miss Baker”, which became my favorite clothing for the cold winter nights.

Miss Baker Nuit et Compagnieimg_7201

I undertake to cut a dress of simple shape and easy manufacture in this cotton shirt, cozy and fine. Because I am also in a period of under-manufacture: any sewing project is thought 10 times before taking out the scissors. The lack of time and my 4 years of sewing push me to projects that easily complement my daily wardrobe and results are almost safe.

I did not even make a pattern for this dress, only used my mannequin. I put the fabric at an angle and cut a neckline and sleeves into it. I added 2 squares on the sides to lengthen the skirt and once finished, I created the fold behind to absorb the surplus fabric.

It is not the most refined dress I have ever sewed but I would have pleasure to wear it. Luckily for the photos, I managed to finish it before the Great Cold.

And you, did you change your way of sewing over time?







The rosy dress

This dress comes from a desire to sew silk, a difficult and misleading material butwith undeniable qualities: summer or winter, a silk dress gives a certain alure.

I wanted a dress inspired from Roaring Twenties, fluid and not over-dressed. The only precious detail is the wave-shaped bottom border of lace.

It’s a dress that is definitely too wide for me, I could weigh 100 pounds and I could still wear it. Somewhere in my calculations I added too many inches. But with a sweater and a belt on top of it, I could hide the extra width.

I wanted to show it because even an error could be interesting. I think I was too confident and enthusiastic (I spent a lot of time choosing the silk and the lace) but did not have enough time to make it. Finally do not aim a too ambitious outcome, but move slowly.

I’m glad to be back on the blog. After a few months absence, I finally found the time to take pictures and write. That is generally the kind of post stirring less interest than a pattern-making tutorial, but it’s the only one I had the energy to write.

And you, would you like to read mathematical formulas or rather see pictures?





The long life of a shirt

I’m on my 5th man shirt upcycling, I guess I like the exercise enough. Wrinkle it, ruffle it, turn it upside down, there are so many possibilities when refashioning a shirt.

I took a thick chambray shirt as a basis:

First thing, take away the worned out collar and cut the sleeves like a tank top.

Cut out the cuffs into triangle:

Pin it into the armhole.

Sew a zigzag stitch (leasier to sew than a topstitching)

Fold the remaining sleeve like an envelope

Pin it at the bottom to lengthen the shirt

Sew both sleeves and press

It gives a V-slot on the back

As the front is slightly shorter, I stitch together both shirt plackets

Side view:

And this is me who enjoys the soft light of a summer evening.

Needless to say the enterprise was fun and gainful because I granted myself a new dress with zero additional budget and zero waste in a very short time You can see other recycling ideas here.

Dress for a summer night

This piece of silk in rosy and browny shades was waiting for me in a drawer for over a year. It took a marriage party and a sudden urge to attack difficult materials to get me to sew again.

I had not touched my sewing machine since last September, too busy in my new job. Fortunately, having constraints (such as not finding the right dress) pushed me to action.

I had a terrible time to choose the model as I had too many ideas: dozens of images collected for years on my Pinterest board reflect my love for lace.

I started with a simple line (H shape dress with elastic waist), which already gives less formal look to silk which is so noble. I then cut a rectangle in lace that I positioned diagonally to create long pleats at the shoulders.

The model seemed simple and I started to assembly it with optimism. As usual, the simplicity with silk is only apparent because the finishes require a slow and careful sewing.

Dress was finished a day before and photographed the same day, before leaving under the gray, threatening and so frequent thunderstorms of this month of June.

In my creative fever, I finished a second silk and lace dress, that I will show you soon, hopefully.






Make a custom pattern with “mode pour lol”

As I was saying in my previous post, I have recently discovered “mode pour LOL” videos. I found it very visual and accessible and I wanted to try this method of pattern-making for the bust. I was already happy with my results from Gilewska method, but it has been a while that I has not amused myself with calculations and therefore I was ready to re-new with pattern-drafting.

The method of “mode pour lol” adds ease to the measurements before dividing everything by 2 or 4. The advantage is that at the end, you no longer need an additional step because the pattern is already ready to try. Then there are some shortcuts that facilitate the construction task, eg standard measurements for neck and shoulder dart. In Gilewska method, these measures are based on calculations from measurements and require more time, the advantage being that, in the end, the pattern asks very few adjustments.

The video is easy to follow and the fitting part is very well explained. In terms of calculations, I would say that the difficulty is somewhat equal to the Gilewska method, we finally get there and when we cannot, it is mainly because of inexact measurement (there is also a chapter dedicated to this part). I followed the advice to start with a small scaled drawing and to note all the calculations, in order to avoid errors. I drew my pattern on a woven grid paper, which I highly recommend for basic patterns. In addition you can sew it and pin it and avoid transferring the pattern on another fabric. When trying on, I only changed the slope of the shoulders, the rest was perfect.








You can accesss this method for free (with English subtitles) here.

In the DVD, you will find how to make the basic pattern for skirts and pants, several chapters dedicated to sleeves and how to transform basic patterns in different models. To my view, this DVD (in French only) is more than useful and I can only recommend it.

2016 Couture Shows

I started this post right after watching last season couture shows ending this week. I belive that twice a year, I need to scroll through the exquisite world of houses that excel in the art and crafts. Speaking of art, Viktor and Rolf have seduced the press once again with their Cubist paintings like dresses. Their way appears distinct from the others, I wonder if their creations are made for the press and museums, or for women.

Once again my heart went to Italian houses.

Valentino takes us to the world of luxury and voluptuousness. Velvet embroidered with gold, golden mesh and nymphs transparent white robes are an invitation to seduction. The snake on the head amplifies this illusion.


Not so far away, Alberta Ferretti takes us in the 30s and art deco, with all the codes of the femme fatale: fur, lace and snake (again!).


Giambattista Valli dresses are shorter and less made for the red carpet. I especially like the volume of the sleeves, the colorful embroideries and the sophisticated necklines.


Ulyana Sergeenko continues on her way calmly and grow in the esteem of journalists with each show. This year her collection is a mixture of deconstructed and punk military, Slavic and contemporary codes. I love the boots and the fish bags.


This is my couture selection of this January 2016. Too bad I can’t read the choices of a happy few haute couture clients.

Sewing Inspiration from 2015

My posts became so scarce recently … a full-time job, a family with two children. Hours for sewing or writing seemed inexistent … time was running so fast, weeks and months without taking me forward on the path I believed following … but enough sorrow, we are in holiday season and I will not darken myself with everything I could not do but open up to the future and new projects.

Meanwhile, I’ve put together a small selection of sewing projects achieved by talented seamstresses and bloggers from around the world. The order is completely random.

From Canada, the Petite Josette sews patiently colorful and humorous outfits. For her, it is not productivity that counts but the quality of the result. Her creations seem both fresh and timeless.
1_Petite Josette - III_3769 - Summer Dress - by Brice Ferre Studio
2__6642 - Petite Josette Sewing Projects -er

From Norway, Nina pours her rich creativity on creating clothing. You can download patterns made by herself. I like her preppy style with touches of color:

From Japan, Chie has created her clothing line “Vivat Veritas” in complete autodidact. Everything is handmade and her style blends femininity and innocence.

From Poland, Mustikka sews simple and graphics clothes that go very well with her tomboy style of an apparent austerity.


From California, Jade shares her fashion inspirations and sewing tutorials in a sexy and so west coast street style. I am especially fond of her leather creations.


From Lebanon, Sabrina shares her personal creations and offers sewing classes in her studio. I like her palette that ranges from glamorous 50s to chic sportswear of 2000s.

From Switzerland, Miushka has created her blog after sharing her achievements on Instagram. I discovered her by participating in the contest “the refashioners 2015” that Miushka won with her shirt turned into pants. Her blog tracks the learning process of a beginner full of talent.

Wishing you a New Year full of friendship, love and serenity, and sewing moments as many as you want.

Hand sewing

Without claiming to show you something new or unusual, I find important to treat the subject of hand sewing in a sewing blog.

In all sewing books I had in my hands, there was a chapter on this topic. However, if you are like me and you did not read it (because you had a sewing machine and a serger), this post is to show you how important could this technique be.

Because sometimes it is faster to sew by hand than with a machine (that you need to plug, thread, choose the needle …), and sometimes this is the only available option (for sewing invisible hems or pleats) or the most aesthetic (as hand is easier to control than the machine).

I chose the Reader’s Digest book “The Complete Guide to Sewing” (the 1976 edition) to illustrate the main hand-sewing points.


The backstitch

A strog point which can be used to hand-picking zippers and pockets. Work from right to left. Bring needle and thread to underside, insert needle to all fabric layers a stitch length behind and bring it up just in back of point where thread emerges. For a more secure finish, take a very short backstitch but leave a thread loop then take another small backstitch on top of the first and bring the needle and the thread out through the loop like in the illustration below.


Even backstitch
Is the strongest of the backstitches and looks much like machine stitching. It is used mainly to repare seams and for topstitching (such as jeans’ hems). The stitches are even in length with very little space between them.


Hemming stitches

There are two types of stitches:

Uneven slipstitch is strong and almost invisible. Work from right to left. The needle is slipped between the two layers, by catching only a few yarns from the garmet.

Flat catchstitch which fixes while leaving some room for movement. It is most exposed to friction and therefore more fragile. Work from left to right with the needle facing to the left. With each stitch, the thread crosses over itself.


Blind hemming stitches
Are the same as previous, but the stitches are taken inside, between the hem and the garment. The stitch is under the edge of the fabric as in the following figure.pointdourletinvisible


Slipstitch or invisible stitch

It is used to apply a piece on another (such as patch pockets or jacket linings), or to join two folded edges that would be difficult to reach from the inside (between two pleats). pointglisse

Slant or vertical hemming stitches
The first is the quickest but little durable because so much thread is exposed and subject to abrasion.
The second is more stable and durable and used to set bias or linings.


I chose the points that I use most. Feel free to tell me if you prefer other stitches for hand sewing.
And check the other tutorials at sewitall and simplicity.

A kimono dress

I do not sew silk very often … it frightens me, so slippy and expensive … But I enjoy wearing it. So, I like to buy silk in different colors or prints and let it rest for months into my drawers, until the day I need to make some room and reduce my stock.

I found this printed silk in Saint Pierre Market. Originally, I intended to sew pajamas or a longue dress. 12 months later, I did not like the colours so much and I decided to hide the print under multiple folds.

Without pattern, I cut three rectangles, one for the bust and two for the sleeves, I sew a long scarf as a collar and left the freeboard as a hem.

Shortly after, my kimono dress was ready for fitting. I was completely embedded within three meters of fabric and I had trouble tying my belt because of the very wide sleeves. But once my obi in place, I seemed to come from far away. Very comfortable to wear, this dress is a bit theatrical. I still do not picture occasions for wearing it and I hesitate to put the word “success” or “missed” on it. The silk is really a headache

  IMG_8157IMG_8161 IMG_8162IMG_8164IMG_8171IMG_8172

A ruffled shirt

After a summer break in the mountains, I find little by little the desire to get back to my normal activities. However, the return to the reality of automn remains difficult, hence my very short post.

After transforming a man’s shirt into a backless top, I tried the extreme simplicity with this second transformation: less radical but more versatile.

To begin, I cut a small blouse in the man’s shirt.


I cut the sleeves lengthwise to retrieve the underarm parts.


Here’s everything I kept from the original garment:

I put together the pieces cut from the sleeves and sewn them together



I wrinkled them and I then pinned them on the bodice.



And after a short walk in the neighborhood, I took one picture for the front and one for the back. So, that’s all folks, thank you, goodnight and see you soon. IMG_7999


Summer upcycling

It‘s been a while that my articles were revolving around geometry and were becoming a little too serious.

I was keen on sharing with you lighter and more inspiring posts. Normally, summer sewing projects take less time than their winter equivalents, but in reality it happens that I sew much less in the summer. I am less attracted by home activities such as sewing and more busy organizing the holidays and sorting all my house to get rid of all unnecessary collection of things.

I wanted to catch up with an easy project, a rapid and smart transformation which would reconcile me with the free time blogger life.

When I received two white men shirts, I knew that my task would be easy and interesting.

For the first shirt, the transformation is quite radical.
To begin, I removed the collar and one cuff that were very worn out.


I cut the shirt horizontally under the armhole and I got everything down and two small front pieces.


I started to create folds with the big piece of the bottom. For convenience, I molded the fabric on my dress form to replicate the shape of the bust. The challenge was to create balanced folds and I had to start over several times to arrive at the correct number and width. I stitch the folds from the neck to the waist.




Former collar stand was attached on the folds and closes behind the neck.
The two small pieces were sewn up front together, folded and attached to the non-worn cuff.


The idea was to take advantage and to highlight the placket of the shirt. It is visible on the sides and serves to button the front with the back piece. I had to move only two buttons and the fit was perfect.


The photos are below. The shirt is a bit transparent but pleats make it opaque on strategic spots.









You will see the result of the second transformation in September. Meanwhile, I wish you a great summer, full of inspiring sewing.