Fern sewalong: sewing the seams

Sewing your seams

Welcome back to the Fern sewalong! Let's pick up where we left off.

 

JOINING YOUR SHORTS

Now to get these Fern shorts looking a bit more three dimensional!

Match the left front and left back shorts pieces together, with the right sides of the fabric facing. Notice that a tiny bit of the right side of the shorts is just visible under the pocket. That's okay, it's just because of the way we've sewed the pockets on. That part will get caught in the seam allowance and won't cause any trouble!

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Sew the length of the side seam. Then pin and sew the inside leg seam.

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For the other side of the shorts, sew ONLY the inside leg seam. We're going to set a side zip later. 

Turn the left shorts leg right side out. Match the right sides of the left shorts leg with the right shorts leg, all the way along the curvature of the crotch seam. Pin together and sew as one continuous seam.

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MAKING THE BELT LOOPS

One more small thing before we wrap up for the day! Fold your belt loop piece in half lengthwise, right sides together. Sew up the longest side as close the edge as possible. 

Use a loop turner to turn the loop right side out.

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Press the loop flat with your iron and sew two lines of top stitching, very close to the edges.  

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Snip into four equal pieces, then match each loop with the darts on the top edge of the shorts. Pin and baste in place. 

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TA-DA!

Nicely done! We'll be attaching our waistbands next. If you want to go back and catch up on what you might have missed, see what we did last time when we sewed the pockets.

It would be awesome to see your progress! Share with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #fernsewalong, #sewingfern, #fernshorts and #afternoonpatterns

Fern sewalong: sewing the pockets

Getting started and setting your pockets

Now we get to sewing! If you haven't sewn in a while and would like a quick reminder on how to wind your bobbin and thread up your machine, have a look at our YouTube videos below.

 

SEWING THE DARTS

Sew the darts on the front and back shorts pieces. Start at the top edge and gently taper your stitching to a point for a neat finish. 

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Once you're done, press the darts towards the side seams. 

 

SEWING THE POCKETS

Start with your shorts front piece facing up. Then, place the pocket piece right side down onto the shorts front. 

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Sew in place, then flip to the inside and press. 

Place the hip yoke pocket in front of you, right side facing up. Match the shorts front with the placement line, essentially covering the shaded area that was on the pattern piece. Make sure the pocket pieces line up with each other on the reverse!

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JOINING THE POCKETS

Sew all the way around the pocket pieces to join. You can see here that I have overlocked the edges to finish them. If you have an overlocker, you can do the same, otherwise a zig-zag stitch to stop fraying works just as well!

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You'll notice that the top of the pocket where it meets the waistline is still a bit flappy. This will get resolved later when we set the waistband. But for now, baste the pocket in place. I like to do this with a line of large hand-tacking in a contrasting colour, so it's easy to spot and remove later.

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COOL!

There's little I love more than great, deep pockets. And now you're sorted! Next week, we'll move on to stitching the side seams and making our belt loops.

Remember, you can share your progress with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #fernsewalong #fernshorts #sewingfern and #afternoonpatterns

Running behind? Catch up with what happened last time when we cut out our pieces.

Fern sewalong: let's cut out!

Laying out and cutting out your pattern

Welcome to the next installment of the Fern shorts sewalong. Last time, we recapped our sewing bits and bobs, and cut out our paper pattern pieces. Now to put scissors to fabric! Let's dig in. 

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DEMYSTIFYING THE SELVEDGE

The pattern instructions call for you to match the selvedge edges of your fabric and fold in half, with the right sides facing in. The selvedge edges of your fabric look like tightly woven bands running down the sides. Sometimes, the name of the fabric or designer is printed in the selvedge. Either way, they're pretty easy to spot because they are finished and they don't fray.

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Match the selvedges and fold your piece of fabric in half. The right side (the "correct" side) of the fabric should face inwards. It's usually quite obvious and easy to identify the right side, especially on printed fabrics. But of course there are tricky exceptions. This silk is one of them! In this case, I like to look at the selvedge for clues: the tiny holes in the selvedge are usually raised on the right side of the fabric, and flat on the wrong side. If it still seems vague, don't worry about it – just choose a side and stick with it!

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LAYING OUT YOUR PIECES

Place your paper pattern pieces onto your fabric, following the diagram in your booklet according to the width of your fabric (150 cm/60" or 115 cm/45" wide). Note especially that the waistband piece is cut on a fold.

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As you place and pin your pieces, pay attention to the grainline marking on each piece. On woven fabrics, the grainline is the thread that runs parallel to the selvedge edge. The fabric is the strongest along this line and offers the least amount of stretch. It is important to make sure that the grainline on your pattern pieces run parallel to the grainline to your fabric. Ever had a t-shirt that just twisted weirdly around your body no matter what you did? Yup. Funky grainline matching. 

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CUTTING OUT

Seam allowance of 15 mm (0.6") is accounted for on the Fern shorts pattern. So you can cut along the edge of the paper pattern. 

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Once you've cut your waistband piece, remember to cut another one out of your fusible interfacing.

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TRANSFERRING PATTERN MARKINGS

Using tailor's chalk or a dressmaker's pen, transfer your pattern markings. This includes all dart markings, placement lines and notches. I'm old fashioned and like to do this with chalk.

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SHORT & SWEET

That's all for now, next time we will start stitching our Ferns.

Want to show us how you're getting along? Share with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #fernsewalong #fernshorts #sewingfern and #afternoonpatterns

New here? Have a look at the first Fern sewalong session: Welcome and introduction to the basics

Fern sewalong: welcome!

Welcome and introduction to the basics

For the rest of September, we'll be going through each step involved in making the Fern shorts from start to finish. I'll be posting lots of pictures and more in-depth explanation, so I hope it will inspire you to sew confidently!

 

BASIC EQUIPMENT

Let's go over your sewing stash, to make sure you have everything on hand before we delve in:

  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric scissors
  • Dressmaking pins
  • Tailor's chalk or fabric marker
  • Sewing thread (make sure it matches the fabric you've chosen!)
  • Measuring tape
  • Loop turner
  • A big table for laying out your pattern and cutting (I find a clean floor to be just fine if you're short on a good table)
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FERN SHORTS REQUIREMENTS

Here's what you'll need for the shorts.

Trouser fabric with some body – 1,4 m (1.5 yds) of 1,5 m wide fabric, or 1,8 m (2 yds) of 1,15 m (45") wide fabric

For a soft and casual pair of Fern shorts, go for a textured linen, soft denim or printed cotton lawn. If you're making a pair for winter wear with stockings, the Fern shorts also sew up beautifully in suiting, flannel or even bouclé! Just go to the shop and browse around. When you see and touch the different kinds of fabric, you will know what will feel good on. 

Once you've found a fabric you love, don't forget to prewash it. Most natural fibres shrink in the first wash, so it's always a good idea to give your fabric a spin before it gets snipped! 

For this sewalong, I'll be making the Fern shorts in this bold silk I bought when I was on holiday in Sri Lanka. The gold is shot with black, so you really see the opulence when it catches the light. Shimmery summery shorts (say that 10 times, fast) here we come!

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A 25 cm (10") invisible zip

Invisible zips look different from regular zips that we're used to seeing on jeans or bags. The teeth of the zip are concealed so that the zip can be inserted into the seam of a garment without being seen.

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Invisible zip foot for your sewing machine 

This nifty little foot makes it easy to sew an invisible zip! While it's not strictly necessary, it does make it much easier, so I do recommend investing in this little guy. 

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CHOOSING YOUR SIZE

Afternoon uses an alphabetised sizing chart. I feel that too many people are focused on what size they are, when really what's important is that you love what you're wearing and you're comfortable in it. Bear in mind that many people will fall across one or two sizes, so choose your size based on your largest measurement. For example, if your bum fits a size C but your waist is closer to a size B, rather use size C. You can always nip it in!

 

CUTTING YOUR PAPER PATTERN

Now to print and collate our patterns! The Fern Shorts come with the option to print onto A4 or Letter size paper. When you print, please select "actual size", "scale to 100%" or "turn off scaling". This is a very important step so that your sewing pattern is printed at the correct size.

Once you have printed out your pattern, measure the test square to double check that it's come out right. If you're all clear, you can get to cutting!

Snip along the frames and assemble the pieces row by row, matching A1 to A1, A2 to A2 and so on, keeping in mind that A is the top row, B is the second, etc. Once they're all in order, tape the pieces together, cut your size out and you're ready to start stitching. 

 

NICE!

We've laid some solid ground work for the next stage of our dressmaking adventure. See you back here soon for more!

In the meantime, share your progress with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook with the hashtags #fernsewalong #fernshorts #sewingfern and #afternoonpatterns

 

STILL DON'T HAVE YOUR PATTERN?

It's never too late to join! Pop on over to the online shop here or on Etsy and pick one up. 

Announcing the Fern shorts sewalong!

It's Fern fever over here at Afternoon HQ. Cape Town is just taking its first foray into spring. The chill is receding, the days are getting longer, and the blooms are out. So with the promise of sunshine to come, a pair of shorts seems the perfect order of the day!

For sewing friends in the northern hemisphere, never fear; the Fern shorts sew up beautifully in a toasty wool blend. It makes a lovely autumnal outfit with stockings and boots – as evidenced by our lovely pattern tester Elie from the ever-chilly Shetland (check out her Ferns on her blog). 

So, welcome to the Fern shorts sewalong, I hope you will have a lot of fun sewing with me this September!

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a sewalong, it's really quite simple: I'll be taking you through each step of sewing your Fern shorts from start to finish. I post lots of pictures and provide more in-depth explanation for each part of the process.

Join in! Just follow the steps and sew along with us. It would be great to see how your makes are taking shape, so please do share! Post on your blogs, show us what's going down on Facebook, tweet us, or Instagram those lovely pics! Our hashtags for this event are #afternoonpatterns, #fernsewalong, #fernshorts and #sewingfern

Here's the class schedule:

  1. Welcome and introduction to the basics
  2. Laying out and cutting out your pattern
  3. Getting started and sewing the pockets
  4. Sewing the seams and belt loops
  5. Attaching the waistband and setting your zip
  6. Stitch your cuffs and make the belt
  7. Share your Fern shorts!

Buy your pattern. You can get a Fern shorts sewing pattern in our online shop or over on Etsy. It comes as a PDF download (A4 or Letter) that you can print at home.

Get your fabric. Off to the shops with you! I'll be posting some inspiration pics over on Pinterest to get you inspired.

Also make sure you've got the basics covered. Sewing machine, fabric scissors, dressmaking pins, fabric marker or chalk, sewing thread, measuring tape and tracing paper are all integral to the process. Just read over your Fern booklet beforehand to familiarise yourself with everything you will need. 

If you have any questions, let me know! Pop me a mail, or comment below. See you next week!

Amy sewalong: finishing touches

Wrapping up

We have the solid basis of a skirt – but it just needs a little tidying up! Today we're going to finish the waistband to hide all the raw edges, and neatly take up the hem. Let's get started. 

 

Finishing the waistband

Fold half the waistband in toward the inside of the skirt. Fold the seam allowance in along the zip edges and pinch in place. You can pin at this stage, to keep your fold stable while you work. 

Using a slip stitch, attach the waistband to the zip tapes along the inside edge. To slip stitch, catch the fabric of the waistband with a tiny, tiny stitch, then catch the zip tape repeatedly until secure. Start slip stitching 15mm from the bottom edge of the waistband, moving up toward the top of the zip. 

Now you have a neat and tidy zip edge, but we can still see the raw edge of the waistband all along the inside of the skirt. 

Fold the raw edge of the waistband up, so that it's hidden inside the top of the skirt. Pin in place. 

Using a slip stitch once again, attach the waistband to the skirt. Be careful that your stitches don't show through on the right side of the skirt. I find it useful to stitch into the thicker, gathered areas of fabric around the seam of the waistband – it makes the hand stitching very stable and avoids visible stitches on the right side. 

 

Now for the hem!

Fold your hem up to the desired length and pin in place. I like the mid calf length on the Amy skirt, but you can really do as you wish!

I'm a little traditional and much prefer a hand sewn hem. I think it gives a lovely, neat finish; and there's something meditative about a spot of hand sewing! Slip stitch your hem in place, alternating one stitch in the hem allowance and one (tiny! almost invisible!) stitch in the garment fabric.

Ta-da!

You made it! That wraps up this Amy skirt sewalong. I hope you had fun making your new skirt, learnt something in the process! Share your Amy skirts with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #amysewalong, #amyskirt, #sewingamy and #afternoonpatterns

Amy sewalong: setting your waistband and zip

Setting the waistband and invisible zip

Today we'll be getting to grips with invisible zips! If you missed it, take a peek at how we gathered our skirts before you follow along to attach your waistband and put in your zip.

 

SEWING THE WAISTBAND

Iron your fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the waistband piece. While the iron is out, it's also useful to iron your waistband in half lengthwise, so it folds easily to the inside of your skirt later. 

Match the waistband to the gathered skirt piece, right sides together, all the way along the top edge of the skirt. Pin and stitch in place. 

 

INSERTING THE INVISIBLE ZIP

The invisible zip is best done with an invisible zip foot – shown here next to a regular zip foot (on the right). It has two grooves in the bottom to accommodate the zip teeth, making it easy to sew very close to the teeth for a neat finish.

Place your zip face down onto the left hand side of the back of the skirt. The edge of the zip tape should be line up with the edge of the skirt. Notice that the zip is placed halfway up the waistband piece – the top of the zip lines up with the lengthwise crease we ironed into the waistband. The rest of the waistband piece will be folded to the inside to neatly cover all raw edges.

Insert your invisible zip foot into your machine and move the needle so that it lines up to the far left. The needle can be moved by adjusting the stitch width. On my machine, the position of the needle is also indicated on the stitch width adjuster (0 for middle, 6 for left).

Guide the zip teeth into the left hand groove of the zip foot. The zip teeth tend to roll inward, so open them up a bit with your fingernail. Adjust the position of the needle to make sure you're going to be sewing close to the zip teeth, but not too close! You don't want to catch the plastic teeth in any of your stitches.

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Sew from the top of the zip right down toward the bottom – you won't quite reach all the way, the end bit of the zip starts to get bulky, but go as far as you can. 

Now, place the right side of the remaining zip tape along the right edge of the skirt back.

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It might look a bit twisty at the bottom, but that's okay! Move the needle back to the centre position. Guide the zip teeth into the right hand groove of the zip foot and sew once again from top to bottom.

Test out your zip and make sure you're happy with it! Then, turn your skirt inside-out and match the back seams of the skirt together. Pinch the zip end out of the way, and sew from where your stitch line ends at the bottom of the zip, right down to the hem.

I like to sew this bit with a regular zip foot, because the shape of the foot lets you get nice and close to the zip so that your stitches line up accurately.

 

HIGH FIVE

Well done! This really looks like a skirt now! Try it on, twirl around and celebrate your zip success. Next time, we'll do a bit of hand sewing to finish the inside of the waistband and the hem. 

Remember to share with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #amysewalong, #amyskirt, #sewingamy and #afternoonpatterns

Amy sewalong: gathering your skirt

Gathering your skirt

Welcome back to the Amy sewalong! Let's get stuck in.

 

SETTING UP YOUR MACHINE

We're going to be running a large, straight stitch along the top edge of the skirt, so set your stitch length as long as possible.

 

MAKING THE GATHERS

I find it easiest to gather each panel one at a time – the front of the skirt, and then the two back skirt pieces. This is because sewing over the side seams can cause bulk in the waistband and make it difficult to gather. 

Sew right up to the side seam, but stop just before. Leave a tail of thread, and remember not to backstitch at the beginning or end!

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Gently pull your top thread to gather up the skirt. As the gathers are made, guide them along the thread to distribute them evenly.

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Don't worry too much about making tight gathers right up to the edges of the skirt. We're going to be setting the zip into the back seam, so you will want a bit of flat fabric to work with. So you can safely leave your seam allowance untouched.

 

DEALING WITH THE POCKETS

Fold your pockets in toward the centre front of the skirt, and pin them in place. 

By hand, baste the pockets in place with a contrasting colour thread. You can take this stitching out later, this is just done so that your pockets stay put (without any pesky pins) while you attach the waistband.

 

TA-DA!

Nicely done! We'll be attaching our waistbands next. If you want to go back and catch up on what you might have missed, see what we did last time when we sewed the pockets.

It would be awesome to see your progress! Share with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #amysewalong, #sewingamy, #amyskirt and #afternoonpatterns

Amy sewalong: setting the pockets

Getting started and sewing the pockets

Now to get stitching! If you haven't sewn in a while and need a refresher on how to wind your bobbin and thread up your machine, have a look at our quick YouTube videos below.

 

SEWING THE POCKETS

Start with your front skirt piece facing up. Take your pocket piece and lay it, face down, onto the front skirt, matching the placement lines.

Sew a line of stitching in between the placement lines. Do this for both sides of the front skirt piece, as well as the two back skirt pieces.

Use your reverse lever to backstitch a little at the start and end of your stitches, just to make sure that nothing unravels.

Note that the top of your skirt and pocket are separate. This is totally okay! In fact, it's like this so that the pocket piece doesn't add too much bulk along the waistline later when it comes to gathering the skirt.

Flip your pocket piece out to the side of your skirt front. The right side of the fabric is facing up towards you.

Matching the right sides of the fabric together, lay your back skirt piece down onto the front skirt, lining up the side seams and pocket edges.

 

TACKLING YOUR SIDE SEAMS

Pin your side seams together above and below the pocket piece. 

Start stitching the side seam! As indicated by the dashed line in the above photo, sew from the top, skip out the bit between the placement lines, and then continue your line of stitching right down to the hem edge of the skirt. Make sure you're only sewing together the side seams of the skirt – move that pocket piece right out the way!

 

JOINING THE POCKETS

Pin all the way around the curved edge of the pockets and sew together!

 

COOL!

Well done! Now we have some good-looking pockets for your skirt. Later this week, we'll move on to gathering and attaching the waistband.

Remember, you can share your progress with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #amysewalong #amyskirt #sewingamy and #afternoonpatterns

Running behind? Catch up with what happened last time when we cut out our pieces.

 

Amy sewalong: cutting your pattern pieces

Laying out and cutting out your pattern

Welcome back to the next part of the Amy skirt sewalong. In the previous post, we covered what you need to get started, and how to cut out your paper pattern. Today, we're cutting our pattern pieces out of our fabric. Scissors at the ready, let's get started. 

 

DEMYSTIFYING THE SELVEDGE

To begin, you need to find the selvedge – the selvedge looks like a woven band down the side of your material, and often has small holes (like a pin prick!) in the edges. 

Match the selvedge edges of your fabric and fold it in half, with the right sides facing in. I know it can sometimes be difficult to know which side of the fabric is the "right" side. If your fabric is printed, it's usually easy to tell but some fabrics are notoriously tricky. I'm using melton for my Amy skirt and it looks really similar on both sides. My go-to trick for telling the right from the wrong side is to look at the selvedge: the tiny holes in the selvedge are usually raised on the right side of the fabric, and flat on the wrong side. But, if you're still struggling to tell, don't stress about it – just choose a side and stick with it!

 

LAYING OUT YOUR PIECES

Place your paper pattern pieces onto your fabric, following the diagram in your booklet. It's important to note that the front skirt piece and the waistband are lined up with the folded edge. The front and back skirt pieces are cut from the same pattern piece; the front is cut on the fold, and then the paper pattern piece is reused to cut two back skirt panels.

As you place and pin your pieces, pay attention to the grainline marking on each piece. On woven fabrics, the grainline is the thread that runs parallel to the selvedge edge. The fabric is the strongest along this line and offers the least amount of stretch. It is important to line your pieces up with the grainline to make fitting and sewing easier.

 

CUTTING OUT

Remember, the pattern has 15mm seam allowance on all sides (except the hem which is 30mm), so you can cut along the edge of the paper pattern when you snip into your fabric.

Once you've cut out your waistband, cut another in your fusible interfacing.

 

TRANSFERRING PATTERN MARKINGS

Using tailor's chalk or a dressmaker's pen, mark your pocket and zip placement lines.

 

NICE ONE!

It's a quick one today, next time we will be taking our skirt to the sewing machine!

Want to show us how you're getting along? Share with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #amysewalong #amyskirt #sewingamy and #afternoonpatterns

New here? Have a look at the first Amy sewalong session: Welcome and introduction to the basics