Postcards from Sewing Camp – Part 2

Today was another fun day at Louise Cutting’s Oh2Sew Sewing Intensive Weekend workshop!

Today, we played with paperdolls and fabric squares as we learned to fine-tune some of our techniques for turning facings and the correct places to make pattern adjustments. We “slashed and spread” quarter-sized pattern pieces to figure how to alter patterns to accommodate pear-shapes, longer torsos, shoulders that roll forward a bit that result in a bunched up back collar or to reduce patterns. By using smaller scaled pattern pieces, the pieces are easier to handle to move pieces around. We picked up so many great tips and tricks! Our pens were hurriedly scratching notes as Louise and Sandy lectured and demonstrated all day.

Tip Alert: The LAST place you want to alter a pattern is on the side seams. Because wherever you add tissue paper (to the pattern alteration) is where you’re adding fabric. So, you can’t just add to sides for more width because your human body isn’t flat and you don’t just add or subtract at the sides. More than likely you’re adding or subtracting in the round. Louise Cutting stressed that we shouldn’t look at body measurements on pattern envelopes when choosing a size. Instead, we should focus on finished garment measurements; and we should then compare those to the measurement of the clothes in our closets to decide what size to sew.

Nancy, Liz and Wendy are almost finished with their One-Seam pants! However, Wendy started the day tenuously — her presser foot decided to have an early breakfast of her One-Seam waistband. This did not make Wendy a happy camper.

Nancy finished her One-Seam pants and is being evaluated by Louise for final fits. No problem, Nancy! It's perfect!

Nancy finished her One-Seam pants and is being evaluated by Louise for final fits. No problem, Nancy! It's perfect!

Sew Angry -  Wendy's presser foot had an early breakfast of her One-Seam pants. Don't mess with a woman who owns a surgical seam ripper!

Don't mess with a woman who owns a surgical seam ripper!

Louise Cutting shows how to match your elastic

Match your elastic!

As people started to finish the waistband of the elastic One-Seam pants, Louise showed a trick to making sure that you are connecting the same sides of the elastic together when you sew them together. It’s very easy for the elastic to turn itself over.

Tip Alert: Mark the same sides of your elastic, you won’t get a twisted elastic when you thread it through a long tunnel, such as a waistband. Just match up the X’s to know that you’ve got the right sides up and together. Then you’re sure not to have a twist.

Tips Alert – Interfacing:

  • Rayon, Tencel™ and bamboo will shrink up when washed, but they also grow as they are worn, responding to the heat of the body. For areas of garments made with these fabrics that require interfacing, such as button plackets and facings, use a lightweight knit fusible interfacing cut of the cross-grain, which gives it the maximum amount of stretch. That way the interfacing will stretch with the fabric and not create bubbles or puckers.
  • Try interfacing slightly off-grain to allow the fashion fabric to retain some movement. Interfacing on grain can give your garment a board-like quality.
  • Speaking of interfacing, Louise Cutting suggests to always preshrink. You don’t have to wash your interfacing. Just fill a sink with the hottest tap water and leave the interfacing in the water for an hour. Weight it down with a pan to keep it submerged. Line dry woven interfacing, but knit interfacing must be dried flat.

A perfect curved neckline and darting

A perfect curved neckline and darting

For those of us who are carrying around more pounds than we would like, Louise advised to strive for simulation of fit, rather than strict fit. Using lighter fabrics and sewing garments with more ease and less structure does not add pounds visually. The viewer’s eye will glide over your figure when there is a more ease.

However, this doesn’t mean you can wear a tent and expect that someone will think that you’ve lost 20 pounds! Even if you are not able to close a jacket, if the jacket plackets are lose together…say about an inch or two apart, you will appear more slender than if the plackets were four inches apart. By being closer together, the eye and brain are fooled into thinking “those buttons could close, but the wearer chooses not to close them”, as opposed to if the closures were further apart, the brain tells the eye “there’s no way those two sides will meet; that jacket is too small to be able to close.”

Steaming a pocket corner using silk organza or tissue paper to draw up the fabric in a pocket template.

Steaming a pocket corner using silk organza or tissue paper to draw up the fabric in a pocket template.

We finished the day about halfway through our sample exercises. We have 17 exercises to complete, but they have been useful, hands-on experiences to finessing sewing techniques.

Tip Alert: Using a pocket template, while very handy, can be difficult to hold the corner down to press. By using a piece of silk organza or regular tissue paper big enough to wrap around from underneath with the fabric into the template, the tissue paper gathers up the fabric and holds down the fabric to make it easier to press.

Rule of Thirds…And Fifths [edited and corrected]

Yesterday, I mentioned the Rule of 3’s for determining sleeve length. Here are some guidelines that we learned:


  • Divide the arm into thirds
  • The second third is where a 3/4-sleeve should end
  • The lower third is where a bracelet sleeve should end and where a turned-back cuff should end.


  • Divide the leg into thirds
  • The top third is the where capri pants should end
  • The lower third is where crop pants should end

Jackets and Tunics

  • Divide the waist-to-floor by five
  • The first fifth is where the jacket
  • should end
  • The second fifth is where a tunic can end
  • We think another option for tunic length is the length where you would “cup” the bottom hem with your palms turned up, as if you were holding onto the bottom hem between the fold of your palm. This is similar to the measurement for the hem of men’s coats.
  • A tunic and jacket should not end in the same place, if wearing together.

Tomorrow is going to be our last day. And so much more to learn. We know collars are on the schedule.

Having a great time. Wish you were here with us!

Nancy helps Tina to hold down a patch pocket to steam.

Tina gives Nancy a steam manicure while Nancy holds down silk organizer on the pocket holder

Read our other postcards from camp:
Postcard  #1
Postcard #3

2 thoughts on “Postcards from Sewing Camp – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Postcards from Summer Camp – Part 3 | Sew Chicago

  2. Pingback: Postcards from Sewing Camp – Part 1 | Sew Chicago

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