Vernon Fashion Studio’s Blog

Archive for September 2009

I was in Wal Mart the other day and Halloween costumes have replaced Back To School as you walk in the door. Zellers has also put up all the spooky stuff back in their Seasonal section. UGH! Where has the year gone?

Anyway, it appears to be time to think about Halloween costumes. So, starting next Saturday and going for four Saturdays, we will be sewing Halloween costumes at the studio, 11am to 1pm.

Sign up for any or all of these sessions by calling 306-6373 or emailing Children and adults with sewing experience are welcome to participate.

We will have a Ghoulish time!!


For those of you who have read this blog in the past, you know I sent my Mom a bucket hat made out of the material I am making a jacket out of. I wasn’t sure she would like it but I got a call from my parents today and she loves it. She has worn it and gotten nice comments from several ladies in the retirement community they live it.

Mom is now trying to figure out where to keep it so it doesn’t get smooshed. I am so relieved.

Have you made something for someone special in your life lately?

Leaving you in stitches…

 A couple posts back I made a reference to the Hong Kong Seam Finish and gave some down and dirty instructions on how to do it. I thought I would do a tutorial on how to do this finish, with pictures.

First we need to decide if this is the finish to use on your garment. I use it on ‘nice’ garments. By ‘nice’ I mean the ones where I have bought good quality and/or expensive fabric. If the fabric ravels or if it is an unlined garment where the seams might be visible, such as an unlined jacket, this finish is perfect.

Next we need to decide when we will do the seam finishing. Since the Hong Kong finish does not diminish the seam allowance it can be done before you start assembling the garment. Many times it is much easier to finish the seams before construction or at least most of the seams.

Once you have all your pieces cut out, marked and interfaced, if required, decide which seams need finishing then decide if you should use the Hong Kong finish or some other finish. Since the Hong Kong finish adds some bulk becareful to not use it where more bulk is not wanted. For an unlined jacket I would use it for any back seams, side seams, visible front seams, sleeve seams and the outside edge of the facing pieces.

The Hong Kong finish uses bias strips. You can use self fabric, if it is lightweight; lining fabric or a lightweight poly or silk with an interesting design or in a complementary or contrasting color.

For my unlined jacket I am using white Bemberg lining for my bias strips. My fabric is a cotton stretch sateen. The example piece I am using is the back facing piece and it is interfaced.DSCF0406

With right sides together and raw edges even, pin bias strip to the seam allowance.DSCF0407

The bias strips conform to the curves of this piece perfectly. Sew 1/4″ from edge. I backtack both ends so it doesn’t come undone during construction. Press bias strip towards the edge.DSCF0408

Turn piece over and press bias strip back over edge to wrong side.DSCF0409

Front and back view.DSCF0410

Next we need to Stitch-In-The-Ditch on the right side. I use an adjustable zipper foot. The edge of the zipper foot will run along the fold in the bias tape so adjust the foot so the needle is flush with the edge of the foot. The foot I used is actually an invisible zipper foot but either this one or a regular adjustable zipper foot will work.


As you can see I am sewing right next to the white bias strip. Here is the front and back view.DSCF0413

Next, on the wrong side, trim the extra bias strip close to the stitching. Do a final press and you are done.DSCF0415


If you decide to do the finish as you construct, I suggest you construct and finish the sections as much as possible before sewing it all together. Do the finishing as you sew it. I have been known to finish the seam allowances as one and then press to the side you trimmed the excess bias strip off. Remember to alternate seams that will be sewn together, to reduce bulk. That is a quilting technique and useful here.

One last note, no, you can’t use the bias tape that can be bought in the packages. It is not lightweight or nice enough. You can bind seams with bias tape but only under certain conditions. There are many other finishes that might work better.

Happy sewing everyone! Leaving you in stitches…

Most of us, when we think of pleats, first think of a skirt with knife pleats all around or maybe a dirndl or kilt. Individual vertical knife pleats are used on pants and skirts as a design detail on the front. Perhaps you think of the box pleats seen on the back of men’s dress shirts where the back panel joins with the yoke.

But have you ever thought of horizontal pleats on the front of a blouse or dress bodice? Last year on Project Runway Canada, Season 2, Episode 1, Danio showed us a sketch of an evening dress with horizontal pleating he was making for the challenge. Unfortunately we never saw the finished dress and the sketch is not available online. As I remember, it was a triangle shape, very flattering, from neckline to empire waist. Last week on Project Runway, Season 6, Episode 1, Malvyn used horizontal pleating with soft folds on his evening dress. It looked devine!

To me this is a wonderful look with a slimming effect and draws the eye up and away from trouble spots around the waist or hips. As I looked through the current issue of ELLE Canada there was a picture of a blouse, page 140, with horizontal box pleats with a space between them. What a great tailored look.

For a quick explanation of pleat terms:

So what can I do with this inspiration? Well, every woman needs a white blouse in their wardrobe. If you choose the right pattern and buy extra material, you can have a whole white blouse wardrobe with just one blouse and several accessory pieces. In the early 70’s, I had a plain white blouse with buttons hidden under the collar that I could use to attach either a bowtie or a ruffled piece that buttoned down the front. I had three different looks with one blouse. I think it would be great to have that same thing again with a pleated piece and ruffled piece and a lacy piece.

So many ideas and so little time. Leaving you in stitches…

Michael Kors is a wonderful and influencial American designer who is also a judge on Project Runway. He had his Spring 2010 Runway Show this morning and  here is the link to the video of it.

Look for inspiration in details and color and style.

Leaving you in stitches…

I am so excited about PR6 starting today. It is on Slice at noon and at 7pm PT. I watched the Noon airing and if Hubby isn’t home this evening, I will watch it again tonight.

There is some interesting inspiration to be had from this episode and I will talk about it in a future post. Don’t want to ruin anything for those that haven’t seen it yet.

Leaving you in stitches…

Where do you get inspiration when picking your next sewing project? Many times we see a need in our closet for a new skirt or some new tops. Then we go to the fabric store, look at pattern books, pick out a fabric or two and start sewing.

Sometimes we see a friend wearing a garment that she bought last season or at a store we don’t have access to.  Perhaps it is a dress we see on TV and we know it must cost more than our mortgage payment or in some cases, more than a new car.

One of my favorite places to get inspiration is fashion magazines. The three best for inspiration are InStyle, Elle and Elle Canada. There are lots of pictures in ads and articles to keep you inspired for a season.

So what do you do when inspiration strikes? If it is in a magazine, I cut it out. I have covered the bulletin board at the Studio with pages from various magazines to inspire myself and you for the Fall/Winter season. If it is something you see on a friend or on TV then I suggest you keep a sketch book around to draw your inspirations in.

But I can’t draw, you say. You don’t need to be an artist, just make a line drawing and write in the details like the type of fabric, design details, embellishments as best you can. I keep a sketch book around for ideas I see and ideas I that just come to me. And it doesn’t have to be a whole garment. Sometimes I see a collar or sleeve detail I like so I draw it in my book for future reference.

So now that you have all these magazine pages and sketches, what do you do? I pick one then I go to the fabric store and look through the pattern books for a similar design. Pay close attention to the details like sleeves, collars, closures and style lines. Find the pattern that is closest to the inspiration piece. Can you change the pattern or will the pattern be alright the way it is?

I found inspiration on eBay last spring. There was a Michael Kors 2006 Spring/Summer runway dress on sale for $4000 USD. It was a light and airy shirtdress, ankle length, white eyelet dress. It wasn’t lined; the model wore a white leotard underneath the dress. Now I would not wear a leotard like that so I had to line the dress. There was only one suitable shirtdress pattern. The design details weren’t right but close enough so I bought some white eyelet and white lawn for lining. The dress doesn’t have exactly the feel I was hoping for but it is comfortable and easy to wear.

The easiest way to get an outfit like the inspiration piece is to draft your own pattern. Of course you need to take a class on pattern making and have the right tools. The other option is to get patternmaking software that allows you to input the style and size you want and it gives you a pattern. They aren’t cheap.

Is there something beyond the Big 4 pattern companies? Yes there is. Most fabric stores offer Burda, Kwik Sew and New Look. On the internet there are several smaller pattern companies like Hot Patterns, Jalie, SpiderLily and J. Stern. Marfy is probably the top of the line. It is an Italian pattern company for advanced sewists. They don’t give you directions for construction of the garment. You have to figure it out for yourself.

So now you have some ideas for inspiration, what will you be sewing this Fall and Winter?

Leaving you in stitches…