Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


Finlayson Sew-Along: Sewing the sleeves and side seams

Happy Friday!  I hope your collars and hoods turned out well.  Today we’ll be adding the sleeves to our sweaters and sewing the side seams.  You’ll be able to try your sweater on by the time you’re done this session of sewing!DSC03677

The sleeve pieces include a double notch on one side and a single notch on the other.  Double notches always signify the ‘back’ of a garment and, in this case, they match with the double notches on the sweater back armhole.DSC03679 DSC03681

Pin the first sleeve to the sweater with right sides together and notches matching.  You might want to use quite a few pins to help the sleeve contort to the shape of the armhole.DSC03683

Sew this seam slowly, adjusting the fabric to keep the raw edges lined up as you go.


I sewed the seam with a reinforced stretch stitch and finished the seam with a zig zag stitch.

If you’d like, you can trim the seam allowance to reduce bulk along the sleeve seam.  Press this seam towards the sleeve (as pictured below).DSC03689 DSC03691

And now it’s time to stitch our side seams (one of the most exciting parts of sewing a garment, in my opinion!  Our sweater is finally taking shape!).  Pin the side seams and arms with right sides together.  Take extra special care to match the armhole seam.

I stitched the whole seam using the usual reinforced stretch stitch and finishing the seam with a zig zag stitch.DSC03708

Depending on what stitch you used, you can either press the entire seam open or you can press the seam allowances towards the back.


Since the sleeves and side seams are the same process for Variation One and Variation Two, I’ll include only the relevant pictures to show you the serging on this version:DSC03668 DSC03669

Press the serged sleeve heads towards the sleeve.

I also serged the side seams and pressed them towards the back:

Well, that’s it for today!  A fast and easy one :).  Come back on Monday to finish our sweaters – WOOT WOOT!  I’m so excited to see the sweaters that you are working on.

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Finlayson Sew-Along: Neckline twill tape and the kangaroo pocket

Welcome to the next installment of the Finlayson Sew-along!  We’ll be adding twill tape (or ribbon) to our necklines today for a fancy and professional looking finish.  We’ll also be sewing the kangaroo pocket.  I’m adding this pocket to my grey ponte de roma sweater (Variation Two) but you could add it to either variation depending on your preference.DSC03632

I’m going to go over two techniques for adding ribbon or twill tape to your Finlayson Sweater’s neckline.  The first technique will be slightly different than the one we include in our instructions and the second technique (which I’ve used for the grey Variation Two) will be the same as in the instruction booklet.

This first technique is a bit simpler but also a bit less professional version of applying trim to the neckline.  I stitched the ribbon directly onto the sweater without folding under either ribbon edge.  This will work well if your ribbon isn’t very wide (my 1″ ribbon was quite wide for this technique but, since it is satin, it still managed to bend to the neckline curve fairly well) and if it’s edges aren’t very scratchy.


To apply the ribbon, you will need to thread your machine with a thread colour that matches the ribbon on the top and a bobbin full of thread matching the sweater on the bottom.  Pin your ribbon to the neckline so that the top of the ribbon lines up with the neck seamline and the rest of the ribbon extends into the sweater below.  Allow the ribbon to extend at least 1/2″ past the shoulder seam on either side of the neckline.DSC03635

Simply top stitch the ribbon along the neck seamline, stitching as close to the top ribbon edge as possible:DSC03637 DSC03638

If your ribbon is too long, trim either end of it so you have 1/2″ that is unsewn along the top.  This is kept free to tuck under before you sew along the bottom of the ribbon (leaving no raw edges).DSC03639

Pin the bottom of the ribbon and the tucked ends in place.  Stitch along the bottom of the ribbon, and, if you like, stitch along either ribbon end to keep the tucked ends from slipping out (this isn’t very necessary with narrow ribbons (1/2″ twill tape for example) but is probably helpful with 1″ ribbons like the one I used).DSC03640

And there you have it!  A gorgeously finished neckline!


Now I will show you the very slightly more complicated method that I included in the instruction booklet.DSC03618

The only difference with this method is that it results in a ribbon with a tucked under top edge.  This is potentially softer on the neck and creates a narrower ribbon finish which means the top stitching visible from the right side of the sweater will be closer together and thus a bit more attractive.  To begin this method, pin the ribbon/twill tape to the garment with the right side of the ribbon facing the sweater and the bottom ribbon edge lined up with the neckline seam.  The rest of the ribbon will extend above the sweater towards the collar.DSC03621

Stitch the bottom edge of the ribbon in place using a thread that matches the ribbon on the top of your sewing machine and a bobbin of thread matching your sweater on the bottom.DSC03623

Trim either end of the ribbon so that 1/2″ free ribbon extends beyond the shoulder seam and stitching.  Fold the ribbon downwards to cover the neckline seam allowance and fold under the 1/2″ free ends.DSC03624

Pin the folded ends and rest of the ribbon in place.

Stitch along the bottom and the folded ends of the ribbon.  Voila, you have a beautifully finished neckline!DSC03627 DSC03630

This is what your sweater will look like from the outside.  Of course, if your twill tape or ribbon were thinner than mine (the recommended 1/2″ for example) your top stitching would look much closer together.

Now we’ll move on to the kangaroo pocket!  Finish all edges (as per the instructions) or, if you are wanting to finish only the very necessary edges, you can finish the edges depicted in the photo above.  I finished my edges with a serger but you could also use a zig zag stitch.DSC03644 DSC03647

Now fold over the slanted pocket openings (5/8″).DSC03649 Pin your trim over the raw pocket opening edge.  At first, I placed my trim centered over the raw edge but I ended up shifting it closer to the folded edge before stitching because I wanted my top stitching to be close to the edge on the outside of the pocket.  You would not need to shift your trim this way if you are using 1/2″ twill tape as recommended!DSC03651

Stitch down either edge of the ribbon and trim any ribbon extending past the pocket.DSC03654

Above is how your pocket will look from the outside!DSC03655

Fold under the remaining 5/8″ seam allowances.  You don’t need to fold under the bottom edge of the pocket because it will be aligned with the bottom of the sweater front and finished when we add the hem band at a later point.DSC03657

Pin the kangaroo pocket to the sweater Front matching the pocket sides with the notches along the sweater Front bottom edge.DSC03658 DSC03663

Stitch the pocket to the sweater along the sides and top, keeping the stitching 1/8″ from the folded edge.  If you would like, you are welcome to baste the bottom of the pocket in place so it doesn’t shift about.

And that is all for today!  We’ll be continuing with our sewing on Friday.  See you then!


The Sewtionary Blog Tour: Interview with Tasia and a book giveaway

Sewtionary cover 2

Have you got your hands on a copy of The Sewtionary yet?  It is a a new publication that is quickly becoming a necessary reference book in every modern sewist’s arsenal of sewing tools.  It is written by Tasia, of Sewaholic Patterns, who, as I’m sure you all know, is a fellow Canadian sewist and entrepreneur who I much admire.  When Tasia asked me to be part of her Sewtionary Blog Tour, I was thrilled to join in!


So, in case you don’t already know her, let me introduce you to Tasia! She is the designer and mastermind behind the gorgeous Sewaholic patterns which are, invariably, classic and easy-to-wear designs with careful pattern drafting and clear, well-thought out instructions.  Matt and I had the pleasure of meeting Tasia just a couple weeks ago while she was on a Vancouver Island holiday.  We were inspired to no end by her enthusiasm for sewing and her business!

Sewaholic patterns

The Sewtionary: An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques and Definitions, is exactly the sort of book you might expect from the woman behind such successful patterns – it is beautiful, easy-to-use (the spiral binding allows it to lay flat on the sewing table), well organized, and wonderfully logical.  I’ve interviewed Tasia about her new book so that you can learn a little more about it before acquiring one for yourself (head to the bottom of the post for a giveaway of a printed copy!).


Can you summarize the purpose and content of your book and how you came to write the Sewtionary?

I was approached by F+W Media about the possibility of turning the Sewtionary page on my blog into a book. Of course I was thrilled about the idea when I first received the email! I often read books that have very good tutorials, or useful tips, but then when it’s actually time to sew a garment using the technique, I can’t remember which book had the info. The purpose of the Sewtionary is to be a sewing dictionary, an easy to use alphabetical book that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. As well as demonstrations, I also wanted to include WHY you might want to know this skill, and examples of when it’s used. Instead of trying to have something from each letter, I picked what I felt were the most important 101 techniques and organized them from A to Z.  I wanted to have all real fabric examples in the photos, instead of diagrams, so it would easy to follow along at home. Because it’s a reference book, it features a coil binding so it can lie flat when you work. (Usually I weigh down other books with my phone or a stapler or something to keep it open, and end up bending the spine.) I wanted it to be a very useful book in all aspects, from the content and images to the physical book design.

Sewtionary photos

When writing your Sewtionary, what areas of the process most surprised or challenged you?

I definitely underestimated how much time it would take to sew all of those samples! There are literally thousands of samples in the book, one for every single photo. Plus the garments! For the step-out samples that I had to cut or sew during a demo, I made extras in case I screwed up or in case we need to retake the shot. And there were some samples that didn’t photograph well that I had to remake for a reshoot.  That was surprising, the sheer amount of time it took to sew everything, and a good reminder to always allow extra time for new or unknown projects. The other thing that surprised me was how many people are involved in writing a book! I had an editor, a tech editor, a book designer, photographers, and of course my own writing and sewing, with Caroline’s and Corinne’s help. So many people review and edit the material, it’s an amazing amount of work. It’s given me a new respect for the book publishing industry.

Who do you imagine will find your Sewtionary most invaluable as a sewing room resource and how do you imagine it to be used?

I bet some people will read it cover to cover, just to see what’s inside! That’s what I would do if I had just bought it. I think it will be most useful later on though, when someone needs a tutorial on bound buttonholes, wants to know what a godet is, or needs to look up different seam finishes. That’s when the A-Z format will be really helpful. I’d love to see it used in a classroom setting, especially at the high school level.

Sewtionary spiral bound

What feedback about your book have you found to be most rewarding?

So far, the number one comment is that it’s so beautiful and there are so many pictures! People are loving the format of the book, especially the coil binding.

Picnic dress

I found it very clever and also stylish how you incorporated samples sewn using your sewing patterns throughout the book – do you have plans to display these finished garments on your blog?

Some of them, yes! The border print Cambie Dress is so pretty I might use it for fresh photos on the shop page.

Sewtionary launch party

And, of course, do you have plans to write another book soon?

Not soon, that’s for sure! It took nearly a year from start to finish for the Sewtionary book, including writing, sewing, and editing, so it would be a while before another book would be a possibility. I’d love to wait and see if this book does well before starting the process over again. I’d also want to have a really good idea, something fresh and new, and right now I don’t have anything in my mind as good as the Sewtionary concept. It’s so rewarding to see the book out in the world now, so I could see another book in my future some day!


Tasia and her publisher have kindly offered a printed copy of the Sewtionary as a giveaway on our blog.  Enter the contest by commenting on this post for your chance to win the book (Please comment about the Sewtionary – what skills do you hope to learn from it?)!  And head to the Sewaholic store to buy your own (signed) copy if you don’t want to wait for the winner to be drawn :P.

The give-away will end on Wednesday, Sept. 17th.  The winner will be drawn randomly from the comments on this post.  Good luck!

Here is a schedule of the rest of the book tour – follow the links on the listed dates to read more about the book, enjoy tutorials and projects related to the Sewtionary and have the chance to enter other giveaways!


Finlayson Sew-Along: Preparing and sewing the collar or hood

Welcome back to the Finlayson Sew-Along!  I’ve added a badge to the right side of the blog – so click on it to refer to the schedule if you need to read older posts again.

According to the schedule, it’s a big day for us Finlayons sewists today!  On Friday we sewed our Decorative Facing and shoulder seams; today we will be moving on to perhaps the trickiest part of this sweater – the collar or hood! That being said, it really is only tricky in the context of how easy it is to sew the rest of the sweater, the cross over collar/hood is actually quite simple.DSC03566

First things first, it is important to note that the seam allowance for the neckline is 3/8″ rather than the 5/8″ used for the rest of the sweater.  We decided to use a 5/8″ seam allowance for most of the sweater so that people using a regular sewing machine (rather than a serger) can sew the Finlayson just as they would sew a woven garment.  For the collar, however, it makes more sense to use a smaller seam allowance which produces less bulk.  That way there is less trimming involved once you have sewn your seams.DSC03527Let’s begin with Variation One (if you are sewing Variation 2, scroll down considerably until you see the grey sweater!).  Distinguish between your Upper and Undercollar pieces by placing a pin in one of them or marking it in some other way.  I pinned my Upper Collar.


To assemble the collar pieces, place the two pieces right side together and pin along the long convex curve .  Make sure to match the notch at the center and stretch the rest to fit (as the two collar pieces are shaped slightly differently to encourage the seam to roll under once the collar is finished).  I stitched my pieces together using the reinforced stretch stitch and a 5/8″ seam allowance (since this isn’t a neckline seam).

It is a good idea to grade this seam to reduce bulk.  You can do this by trimming one seam allowance to 1/4″ and the other to approximately 3/8″.DSC03534

If your fabric doesn’t seem to fray or pull and run too much, you can clip triangular notches into your seam allowance so that the curve turns right side out nicely but you might want to avoid doing this if your fabric shreds along raw edges very easily – you don’t want to weaken the seam!DSC03535

Flip the collar right sides out and carefully iron so that the seam sits slightly turned towards the under collar.DSC03537

At this point you have three options – you can choose to leave the collar like this, you can under stitch the seam allowance and under collar together to help the seam stay rolled to the underside, or you can do what I have done in the photo above – top stitch 3/8″ from the finished seam along the entire curve.DSC03538

The last step to prepare the collar before adding it to the sweater is to baste the remaining Upper Collar and Under Collar raw edges together.  You’ll need to ease the layers again gently to make sure that all notches match.DSC03541

Now it’s time to do a bit of origami!  Place your collar in front of you with the Under Collar visible.  Fold the right end inwards as pictured above.

Fold the left end inwards and stack the narrow collar ends together.DSC03544

Lift up your collar and, without changing its positioning, place it on top of the sweater front.DSC03549

Line up the collar notches with the placement markings on the sweater front (I’ve placed pins at these two positions so you can see them clearly).  Stitch, using a reinforced stretch stitch or just a straight stitch, from placement marking to placement marking (remember to use a 3/8″ seam allowance! Your seam will start and finish 3/8″ from either collar edge.DSC03550

Now that the base of the collar is attached, it is necessary to re-position the collar so that it lines up with the sweater neckline.  I do this by grasping the sweater through the loop of the collar (see photo above) and pulling the entire sweater through the collar loop.DSC03553

With some shifting and re-arranging, your sweater will eventually be positioned as photographed above – you can see the armholes in the middle of the photo and the sewn collar front on the right hand side.  All raw neckline and collar edges are lined up together.

Above is a photo of the positioning from a different perspective.  You can see the collar front in the middle of the photo and the pins mark where the collar notches match with the shoulder seams.  Pin the entire collar circle in place.DSC03555

At the collar front we will begin our stitching where we left off along the front of the collar.  Keep in mind, when you begin and end your sewing of the collar loop, that there is quite a bit of Sweater Front fabric that needs to be kept out of the way while sewing (see the photo below).  I like to sew the collar loop with the collar visible and the sweater against the bed of the sewing machine but you are welcome to sew this loop from the sweater side too (if you want to keep a close eye that the sweater doesn’t get pinched in the seam!).DSC03556DSC03558

And here we have it!  The finished collar (before any ironing or top stitching).DSC03559

This is what the collar front looks like from the inside.  You can see that my seam curves quite considerably at the corners – it should look more angular than this but I finished my front collar seam slightly too far from the collar edge.  This little mistake didn’t cause much harm though!  With a bit of ironing and top stitching (as we will do shortly) the rounded corners looked perfectly presentable!DSC03564

Trim the collar seam allowance as much as your fabric requires (depending on how easily it frays and how bulky it is).  You could grade these layers to reduce bulk further if you prefer.  Once trimmed, press the seam allowance towards the sweater.

As an optional way to create a flat and crisp appearance, you can top stitch the seam allowance in place all along the collar seam.  I started my top stitching at a shoulder seam so that the back stitching will stay hidden under the turned collar.  I top stitched 1/8″ from the collar seam.DSC03562

Congratulations, your sweater has a finished collar!

Now let’s move on to Variation Two and sew the hood:

Place the Hood pieces with right sides together and pin along the hood curve.DSC03570

You can do the same pinning to your lining pieces and sew both seams in one go!  Since I am sewing this sweater with my serger, I simply serged these seams.  You could also use the reinforced stretch stitch or a zig zag stitch for this seam.
DSC03572 DSC03574

Iron the seams to one side or open depending on what type of stitch you used to sew them.

I decided to top stitch 1/8″ from my seam to echo the top stitching elsewhere on the sweater.  Top stitching looks so nice and crisp on this ponte de roma!
DSC03579 To join the lining and hood together, place these pieces with right sides together.DSC03580

Pin along the long hood edge and stitch using your chosen method (I serged).
DSC03583 DSC03585

Flip the hood so that right sides are out and line up the rest of the raw edges.  You’ll notice that the hood piece is larger than the lining so make sure to line up the notch at the narrow base of the hood and turn the seam under to the lining side (pictured below).DSC03584 DSC03589

I finished the hood edge by top stitching 3/8″ from the hood edge (the folded fabric – not 3/8″ from the seam, which is folded under).DSC03590

And now it is time to finish the neckline seam.  At this point we will begin stitching using a 3/8″ seam allowance (I explain why at the very beginning of this post).DSC03591

Pin the hood and lining layers together along the entire hood base.  Baste these layers together using a long stitch.  No need to back stitch!DSC03594 DSC03601

As with Variation One, it is now time for a little origami!  For more detailed photos of this folding process, refer to the collar photos earlier in the post.  You will need to place the hood in front of you with the right side visible.  Fold the right end inwards and then fold the left end inwards to stack the narrow collar end on top of the first one.DSC03603

Without changing the hood positioning, place it on top of the sweater Front right side.  Pin the narrow hood ends to the neckline base.  Make sure to line up the notches on the hood with the placement markings on the sweater Front.DSC03606

Stitch along the hood base using a 3/8″ seam allowance – begin and end at the placement markings and notches (3/8″ from either collar edge).DSC03608

Now that the base of the hood is attached, it is necessary to re-position the hood so that it lines up with the sweater neckline.  I do this by grasping the sweater through the loop of the hood (see photo above) and pulling the entire sweater through the hood loop. DSC03611

Now that your sweater is through the hood loop, you’ll be able to shift everything around until all the neckline raw edges of both the hood and sweater are lined up continuously.  Pin everything in place matching the hood notches with the shoulder seams.  Now we are ready to stitch the neckline!  As I mentioned for Variation One, you will want to watch that the sweater fabric at the two front corners is free from your stitching – it is prone to becoming pinched so carefully shift the folds out of the way as you stitch.DSC03613

I stitched my neckline with the serger only – but feel free to use a straight stitch or reinforced straight stitch if you want to be on the careful side (it isn’t much fun to stitch-rip serging if you need to adjust your seam line!).DSC03617

Press your seam allowance towards the sweater.  To continue my theme of top stitching, I top stitched, starting at a shoulder seam, all the way around the neckline.DSC03615

Doesn’t that look nice?  I hope yours does as well!  Join me again on Wednesday when we will apply ribbon or twill tape to our back neckline (exciting!!!) and construct the kangaroo pocket.


Finlayson Sew-Along: Sewing the neckline facing and shoulder seams

Welcome back to the Finlayson Sew-Along!  We get to start sewing today!  I will be adding the optional Decorative Facing to both sweater Variations and then we will sew the shoulder seams.

Begin by stay stitching along the lower facing edge using a 5/8″ seam allowance and a regular length straight stitch.  This stitching will help you create a smooth curve and even seam allowance when you iron under the seam allowance.
Next, clip up to the stitching line at regular intervals along the sharpest area of the curve.  I find using sharp embroidery scissors to be the most accurate way of clipping up to the stitches like this – it is easy to clip into the stitching by accident, so be careful with each snip!.


Press the entire curve under as evenly as possible so that the stitching is hidden on the wrong side of the Decorative Facing.DSC03486

You can see that the clips you made in to the stitching allow the seam allowance to overlap slightly so that the outer edge of the curve can be manipulated into this smaller area. DSC03487

If you would like to apply a garment tag or other sort of decoration, now is the time!  I top stitched a Thread Theory tag and a square of contrast fabric to my Facing for Variation 1:


…and one of the lovely Sewaholic garment tags along with a 3″ piece of velvet ribbon (as a hanger) to my Facing for Variation 2:DSC03489

To attach the Decorative Facing to the sweater Back, pin the facing so that it is even with the neckline’s raw edge so that the wrong sides are together (so that the facing will be on the inside of the sweater).DSC03492

Top stitch around the entire facing – make sure not stretch one fabric layer more than the other!


With the Decorative Facing applied, we’re now ready to sew the shoulder seams.

First, let’s begin by deciding which method of stabilization to use!  Have a look at the post on materials if you haven’t already.  There are some close up pictures of the materials for you to examine.  For Variation 1 I will use Option 1 (from the instruction booklet) and apply rayon hem tape (you could use the ribbon, twill tape, clear elastic, or stay tape with the same results).

Apply the tape to the sweater Back by centering the tape over the seam line and pin the sweater Front and sweater Back with right sides together.  Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of the tape and fabric layers pinned.  But you can see a similar photo when I show you Variation 2 in a little bit!  For Variation 1, I am using a reinforced stretch stitch (otherwise known as a triple stitch) to stitch all seams.  This is the lower stitch in the photo below – it looks like a straight stitch.  While the reinforced stretch stitch isn’t the best option for delicate knits, most medium weight knits can handle it just fine.  For this stitch, the needle moves backwards and forwards to stitch over the same area three times so the stitch is very strong and can be pulled without snapping (important for knit garments!).  It can wear delicate fabrics out though since the needle punches into the same spot so many times, so test it on a scrap first!


I am finishing the seam allowances with a wide zig zag stitch.  If you prefer, you can use a narrow zig zag stitch to sew all your seams (rather than the reinforced stitch) and then a wider zig zag stitch to finish the seam allowance.

Here is how my finished shoulder seam looks:


And from the front of the sweater:DSC03511

Once the shoulder seam has been sewn and the seam allowances have been finished, press the shoulder seam open.


I like to topstitch along either side of my shoulder seams to keep the seam allowances pressed flat.  It looks quite pretty from the right side and helps to reinforce the shoulder seam even further to prevent it from stretching out when the sweater is worn.DSC03517

And now, on to Variation 2!  For this variation, I will use Option 2 (from the instruction booklet) and apply a strip of silk lining.  I’ll be using my serger to sew this sweater.  Here you can see the three layers (Sweater Front, Sweater Back and the silk lining) all pinned together:


Stitch through all three layers.  If you are using a serger, make sure to use the 5/8″ seam allowance – you will be cutting the excess seam allowance off with your serger blade.


If using a serger, press the finished seam allowance towards the back (this covers the fabric or tape you’ve used to reinforce the seam).

I top stitched the seam along the back for this sweater but not along the front (because there is no seam allowance along the front):DSC03524

Our Facings and Shoulder Seams are finished!  Join us next Monday so that we can sew the collar and hood – our sweater will really begin taking shape at that point.  Have a lovely weekend!


Finlayson Sew-Along: Preparing your pattern and fabric


Hello fellow Finlayson sewers!  Welcome to the second Finlayson Sew-Along post!  This afternoon will be assembling our PDF pattern and cutting out our fabric.

Preparing Your PDF Pattern

If you haven’t already, print out your PDF pattern following the directions in the “Read Me First” file…did you read it first?  I hope so!  The file includes a chart, so that, if you accidentally drop all your printed pages and they scatter all over the floor (yes…I’ve done that before) you can still figure out which page goes where.  The pages are numbered at the bottom outside the pattern margin, so that is a useful safety measure as well!

The Read Me First file also tells you to ensure that your pages will not be re-sized to fit the page.  Printing the pattern at full size (so that the test square measures 3″) will result in an accurately sized sweater.  Our PDF files have big enough margins that they print correctly on Letter or A4 paper.  Also, the margins allow a little leeway if your printer twists paper or grabs it at an uneven pace as ours tends to do.  You can see in the photo above the my bottom margin has become very small due to our faulty printer!  All the same, as long as everything inside the rectangular border is there, you are ready to start taping!

I have created a ‘How to Assemble PDF Patterns’ tutorial in the past and you are welcome to refer to this to assemble your Finlayson Sweater if you have never assembled a PDF pattern before.  For those that are familiar with PDFs, I thought I would discuss a few of the most important tips during this sew-along just to refresh you!

First, when taping my pages, I find it quickest to cut all relevant edges (the bottom edge and the right edge which include scissor symbols) at one time.  Secondly, I tape all the rows together so that I end up with a stack of rows as pictured above.  Once that is done, I tape the columns together and I am left with a complete pattern!

Sometimes, if I don’t have much floor space to work on or don’t feel like crawling about the floor, I roughly cut out the pattern pieces before I assemble the columns.  That way, I can just tape together the individual pattern pieces rather than attempting to line up two whole rows worth of pieces 100% accurately.  This method takes up so little space that I have been known to assemble PDFs while sitting in bed with only a hardcover book to use as a ‘table’!

Choosing Your Size

Instruction Booklet 4

There are likely very few fit adjustments you will need to make for the Finlayson Sweater since the body of the sweater is boxy enough that it will fit most body shapes.

The key areas to achieve a good fit are: The shoulders, the chest and the sleeve length.

Here is how you measure each area:

The Shoulders: Measure from shoulder to shoulder, starting and ending where a sleeve seam would sit.  Keep the measuring tape fairly close to the base of the neck.  On certain body types (hunched shoulders) this might mean the measuring tape is slightly curved.  Once you record your shoulder measurement, compare it to the Shoulder Width measurement included in the Garment Measurements chart.

The Chest: Measure the entire circumference of the chest by circling the measuring tape around the widest part of the chest and shoulder blades (make sure you include the shoulder blades – it is easy to let the tape slip below them by accident).  Make sure the tape is level and positioned just below the armpits.  Once this measurement is recorded, you can compare it with the Chest measurement provided in the Body Measurements chart.

The Sleeve Length: Arm length can differ greatly from person to person, even if the rest of the body measurements are similar.  Thus, it’s a really good idea to check the sleeve length corresponds with the person’s arm length every time you are about to sew a top.  To find out how much you need to shorten or lengthen the sleeves when sewing our patterns, you will need to measure your underarm length.  This isn’t a standard measurement used by most pattern companies, but it is my favorite way to measure arm length because it so directly corresponds to the sleeve seam length which is easy to measure.  To measure the underarm length, measure from the arm pit, along a slightly bent elbow, to the base of the thumb.  This is your underarm length and can be compared to the Sleeve (Seam) measurement included in the Garment Measurements chart.

Since I am making my Finlaysons for myself, I cut a size XS with which my body measurements were very similar aside from the arms.  I had to shorten the sleeves considerably to match my stubby arms :P.

It is important to note that the Sleeve (Seam) measurement is the final length of the sleeve, measured along the seam (and including the cuff).  If you like your sleeves to sit lower than the base of the thumb, you may need to lengthen the sleeve and if you like your sleeves to sit closer to the wrist you will likely need to shorten it.  My underarm length measured 18 3/8″ and the Sleeve (Seam) for size XS measures 20 3/8″.  So: 20 3/8″ – 18 3/8″ = 2″.  This is the amount of length I needed to take off of the Sleeve pattern piece.DSC03369

To shorten the sleeve, cut along the “Lengthen or Shorten Here” line on the Sleeve pattern piece.  Overlap the two pieces as pictured above and tape them together.


Now trim off the jagged edges so the sleeve seams are once again gently curved and smooth.  If you were to add length to your sleeve, you would cut along the same line and add extra paper to fill the gap.  I covered lengthening and shortening pattern pieces in detail for our Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along, so you can check that out if you would like more photos and explanation!

Now we’re ready to cut out our fabric!  The layouts we provided in the instruction booklet are quite conservative about how much fabric you will need – especially if you are cutting out an XS or S sweater!  We don’t like to estimate too low because I think it is ALWAYS better to end up with too much fabric than not enough!  To illustrate how much fabric you can save if you are creative with your pattern piece layout, are not using a fabric with a nap or directional print, and are cutting out one of the smaller sizes, I managed to cut out my Finlayson Variation 1 from my double knit using only 1.2 m of 150cm/60″ wide fabric!  It was an adventure, that’s for sure…

First, I laid out the fabric with the selvages folded towards the center to create two ‘Folds’.  With the fabric laid out in this manner, I fit the pattern pieces on like this:


As you can see (in my unclear photo…sorry!), the pieces in the top right corner extend beyond the salvage.  I cut all pieces that fit first and then adjusted the fabric like so:DSC03373

Still, the Cuff piece did not fit on the folded fabric so I cut the remaining pieces and then unfolded the fabric.  I cut the two cuffs on a single layer:DSC03374It was tricky and a bit of an adrenaline rush as I began to worry I didn’t have enough fabric but…in the end it saved me 1.2m of fabric!  WOOT!  Look at how small my scrap pile was:


When I cut out knit fabrics I always cut my notches outwards to form little triangles rather than notching inwards.  This will prevent ‘runs’ occurring in the fabric.

DSC03377The last pattern piece I cut out was the Decorative Facing.  I chose a pretty cotton for this as it doesn’t really need to stretch!

And now on to Variation 2!  I laid this one out without being so stingy with my ponte knit fabric.

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I saved a little bit of fabric (enough to make a knit mini skirt perhaps?  Or a super cozy colour-blocked Scout tee!) by cutting out all pieces except the Kangaroo Pocket first and then refolding the remaining fabric narrowly (rather than in half) to cut out the pocket on the fold. DSC03472

I cut out the Hood Lining and the Decorative Facing out of a light contrast knit.

And now our Finlaysons are all cut out and we are ready to get sewing on Friday! Any questions about choosing your size or cutting out your pattern?  See you in a few days to begin sewing!


I sewed for myself! A Summer Jazz Dress and Kimono


Prepare to feast your eyes on some really pretty photos!  My sister, Matt and I headed to the beach at sunrise (6:10am) to get some shots of Kayleen doing yoga and me posing in my latest outfit.  The location and lighting was absolutely stunning and I enjoyed waking up while sipping coffee and watching my sister contort herself into various energetic shapes.  Matt was really in top form and I had trouble paring down the photos for this post…it would seem a little self-absorbed to bombard you with many more than I’ve included!  Anyways, let’s start off with an awesome picture of my sister:


STUNNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If you’d like to see more shots like this, she posts them regularly on her Instagram account: yogakayvdr.  And now, moving on to some more sedentary photos of myself in my latest sewn-by-me outfit.Blog-3

I recently started chatting with Elizabeth from Snapdragon Studios.  Have you heard of this pattern company?  The company consists of two friends, Kim and Elizabeth, who design easy to wear and very pretty women’s patterns.  They have a website, a very active blog and an Etsy store which currently includes their first three patterns – The Weekend Rambler Skirt, The Market Day Tunic, and The Summer Jazz Dress.  Elizabeth and I both coveted each other’s patterns and so we eagerly traded PDFS (they have both PDF and paper versions) and I got right to work sewing the Summer Jazz Dress…I literally started and finished sewing it the very evening that I received the pattern!

The Summer Jazz Dress can be sewn in both knits and wovens.  There are shirt and knee length options provided as well as instructions on how to lengthen it to create a maxi dress.  I sewed my dress (and co-ordinating kimono) for a wedding I attended a couple weekends ago.  The wedding was at the north tip of Vancouver Island which can often be quite breezy and chilly so I opted for the maxi version (plus, as I’m sure you all know…I LOVE how comfortable maxi dresses are to wear!).  I sewed the dress out of the bamboo jersey that is included in our Comox Trunks Supplies Kits and I sewed the kimono using the very popular Elle DIY Kimono tutorial and used a polyester Georgette.


Construction-wise, there isn’t too much to say about the kimono – I finished the edges with a narrow hem and really should have used french seams but sewed the kimono in the same evening that I sewed the dress (the wedding was rapidly approaching!) and so I started by using french seams on the shoulder seams and quickly reverted to serged seams for the side seams and sleeve seams.Blog-6

While the construction notes are brief, I could wax on and on about how lovely this quick sewing project is to wear!  It floats in the smallest of breezes and actually protects against the chill quite successfully.Blog-9

While kimonos can sometimes be a little cumbersome to wear, this one doesn’t restrict my movement too much because the sleeves are 2/3 length and are not overly wide (though they sometimes get caught on door handles as I walk through the door :P).  I curved the front more than the tutorial recommended and this makes it feel like a short jacket at the front while still providing enough length at the back to be, in my opinion, very sumptous.  I suppose you could say that my kimono is fairly reminiscent of a mullet…Blog-12

The flowers are so beautiful and I love the gray tones that make the bright coral a little more sedate!  The pinky/coral poppies (maybe?) match my favorite lipstick perfectly…completely unintentional :P.Blog-10

And now on to the main purpose of this post!  The Summer Jazz Dress!Blog-23

This design features flattering flutter sleeves and a really nicely curved v-neck which is my favorite shape of neckline.  It also includes a very clever elastic casing that creates a subtle empire waistline and produces the comfiest dress ever – no worries about eating too much at a wedding buffet in this dress!  One thing to note about the heavy gathers at the front of this dress – they pull the hemline down so it is very important to compensate for this by hanging and cutting your hem accordingly.  Of course, I failed to do this because I was in a rush to finish my dress so I may end up trimming the hem to knee length after all to fix how it curves upwards at center back.Blog-14

The only changes I made to the pattern were slimming down the hip and thigh area at the side seam and altering the length of the maxi as an experiment.  My knit is likely pretty heavy compared to the floaty and drapey fabrics used for the Snapdragon samples so I felt it needed to look a little more slim in the waist.  I probably took about 5 or 6 inches out from either side seam in this area!
Blog-18As for the length, I wanted to try hemming it so that the maxi skirt fell to my ankles as a way to display my shoes.  I thought this would be an interesting way to make a maxi dress look a little less overwhelming on my petite frame.  In the end, I think I like the ankle length look on fashion models but probably prefer the floor skimming length on me!  Ah well, it was worth a try!  Even if the floor length is more flattering on me, this shorter length is certainly less likely to be a tripping hazard!Blog-22 Have you tried a Snapdragon pattern yet?  If you haven’t, they are certainly worth a go!  The illustrations are hand-drawn and clear and the instructions are brief yet effective.  The construction techniques are clever and very efficient.  I particularly liked the neckline finish – it is probably the simplest way to sew a v-neck I have come across!  Binding is used as a facing and the folded ends of the binding meet at centre front creating the V shape.  It was nice not to have to worry about visible binding and it resulted in a very clean garment exterior.  I like that the garment can easily be sewn in a woven or knit and that tips are included for each type of fabric.  I also am glad that the maxi version of the dress was not included as a pattern piece as this made the PDF take up far less paper than it could have!

I look forward to seeing more Summer Jazz Dresses showing up around the internet!  Check out the Snapdragon Studios blog to see more as they are currently running a blog tour for this pattern!