Tutorial: non-flipping facings


I’ve developed my own little way of doing facings that works really well for me, so I thought I’d share it. I haven’t seen it instructed anywhere else or included in a pattern, but for me it removes all the pain points of facings – the flapping out, re-wrangling into place after laundering, awkwardness of sewing them in the round to a neckline – and leaves a nice clean, smooth finish that doesn’t budge.


It works well for any sort of simple shallow-ish crew/jewel neckline with a CB zip or without; I don’t think it’d work so well for a deep scoop or V neck. It also works better on lighter weight fabrics because it adds a little bulk to the armsyce seam. I’m demoing on a new Sudley dress I’m making this weekend – here we go…


1. Draft the facing pieces. Basically you’re tracing off the neckline and shoulder area of the front and back bodices. To get the depth, measure down about 2″ from the centre of each neckline. The back piece is cut straight across to the armsyce, and I’ve curved the front one gently up a bit as it reaches the armsyce.


2. Cut out from the fashion fabric and from lightweight interfacing; fuse on the interfacing. Finish the lower raw edges of each piece, by pinking or overlocking.


3. The facings are sewn on individually before the shoulder seams are sewn. Pin and sew the front facing to the front neckline and the back to the back, right sides together, using the pattern’s given seam allowance.


4. Grade, clip/notch and understitch both the front and back as usual.


5. Now we sew the outer shoulder seam and facing shoulder seam as one. Right sides facing, pin front bodice to back bodice shoulder seam, and continue along the facing shoulder seam, taking care to line up the seam intersection in the centre. Sew at the pattern’s given seam allowance.


6. Trim (no need to finish the raw edge, I just like trimming with my pinks) and clip a triangle out at the seam intersection to reduce bulk.


7. Press the seam allowances in opposing directions to help it lie flat. Repeat for other shoulder.


8. Fold facings to the inside and give a good press. Looking good!


9. Finally, smooth out and pin the facings to the bodice and baste in place along the armsyce, inside the seam allowance. Now you simply treat the facing and main bodice as one when you sew in the sleeves.


All done, a nice flat facing that will never flip out of place! I think it looks really smart and pretty inside and out.


For invisible zips again sew the facings to necklines first (the back being in two pieces in this instance rather than on the fold), then insert the zip, then follow the other steps. What’s your favourite neckline finish? Any questions on this technique, just shout.

Emoji Inari


To be honest, all I want to wear at the moment is black sacks, so here’s another one to throw into the mix. But it’s got kitties and cactuses and watermelons on it, so it ain’t all gloom.


It’s my third or fourth Named Inari dress, and the first time I’ve done it in a knit rather than a woven. Naturally that makes it even more comfy! I didn’t alter anything on the sizing, and just finished the neckline with a band instead of a facing. I also topstitched the entire sleeve cuff down so it wouldn’t flip around.


The fabric is jersey knit I had printed with my own design at the Contrado factory back in May. You can read more about it here! This is their 190gsm jersey substrate which is a fairly sturdy polyester-based knit with about 25% stretch, similar to a double-knit and ideal for a pattern where it’s subbing for a woven. It was very easy to work with: I used the overlocker for the shoulder and armsyce seams, and lightning stitch with a walking foot on my normal machine for topstitching, hemming, and the side seams.


Funny, looking at the drag lines on this one that aren’t so apparent in my woven Inaris (and not quite so apparent in real life as in these photos) it’s possible I should do an FBA to this pattern, adding a bust dart or rotating the excess down into the skirt portion. When I hike up the front under the underarms the drag lines smooth out. Perhaps it’s the heavier drape of this fabric making it more obvious here.

I’ve been meaning to dedicate some time to doing some new designs to get printed, as it feels extra special wearing a fabric I designed as well as sewing the garment itself and Contrado have so many interesting and apparel-appropriate substrates to print on.

Starry silky Helmi


This project skipped to the top of my queue, and I’m so happy with how it turned out! It’s the Helmi dress from Named’s latest collection, in some star-printed silk crepe that I bought at Mood Fabrics in New York City last week while there on holiday. I had to make this dress happen pretty soon after I got home because I thought it’d be a fun sew and real autumn wardrobe winner.


After the big win that was the Inari, I was willing to pay £15 for another Named pattern, and I immediately fell in love with Helmi when their AW16 collection launched. I bought it in printed format from Backstitch. It’s got a gorgeous blouse variation with trench flap detailing that I am definitely going to make sometime soon as well.


I cut a size above my measurements (42/UK 14) and the fit is just how I’d like it. The collar, installed with The Andrea Method, slotted together perfectly and I like how it looks both fully buttoned and at half-mast. I even maintained the set-in sleeves for once because they fit so comfortably and I love the elbow-grazing length (rolled up in these pics).


Being me, there is a small list of other deviations from the pattern: a normal button band instead of concealed placket; used the full collar from View A instead of the Mandarin one; extended the button band all the way down the skirt instead of just the bodice; and took 2″ off the skirt length. Fun fact: the pattern’s name Helmi means Pearl in Finnish, so it seemed fitting to use little pearly buttons.


This fabric is sooo delicious. I always like to stock up on silk prints at Mood because they have much better range than I’ve found anywhere in the UK. Sadly the GBP > USD exchange rate is pretty dire right now so I only bought three pieces of fabric on this trip, but I’d been looking for a cool star print for ages so was very happy to bring this home for $16/yd. I can’t see it on Mood’s site to link to I’m afraid.


Guts! Despite being entirely French-seamed inside and made in slippery silk, this was still quite a fast sew; a part-time weekend sort of jobby. It’s deeply pleasing to be developing a sort of muscle-memory precision when it comes to things like collars, curved hems and challenging fabrics. Things that used to give me hell are now meditatively satisfying to work through.


I get the sense that this dress will become a firm favourite. It’s casual enough for work and weekends but the silk means it could work for an evening event too. The looseness makes it really comfy and it looks good both with tights and without so will be a year-round wear. I think I might make one in the lightweight denim I picked up from Purl in NYC next.

Silk Dove


Katie in pale colour shocker! Seriously, all of my 2016 makes have been embarrassingly samey dark shades. My black overlocker spools even ran out, so that was a good kick to embrace the light side. I may also be in seasonal denial, as summer ends and we head into my least favourite time of year, by making a silk sleeveless blouse…


This is the Dove blouse, the new pattern from Megan Nielsen, which she kindly sent me a pre-release of to try out. It’s a very pretty semi-fitted top with a host of yummy design details like French bust darts, chunky topstitched facings for the V-neck and curvy hem, and a slew of sleeve options, from slim elbow-length to fabulous full-on bell.


Being me and unable to leave a good pattern alone, I eschewed all the sleeve options, instead adding little rectangular caps and finishing the rest of the armsyce with bias facing. I’ve come to realise that any woven garment with a set-in sleeve rarely gets reached for in my wardrobe unless the drafting is 100% spot-on, plus I’m always overly warm rather than cold so it isn’t actually all that seaosnally-inappropriate. I’ll do a tutorial for the hack if anyone’s interested.




As usual from Megan’s patterns, the instructions are clear and well-illustrated, and the drafting is just a delight – this was so pleasurable to sew and all came together in a few hours. I cut a Large, which is bigger than my measurements but I like a lot of ease in woven tops. It still fits really nicely around the neck and shoulders, though it dips a bit too long in the back for my preference – I’ll take some length out next time.


I think the fabric makes this top feel rather special. It’s undyed silk noil from The Organic Textile Company; a bargain at £8.95 a metre. This is probably my number-one fabric both to work with and to wear yet I’ve only used it once before. It’s pretty hard to find in any colours or prints but this raw slubby cream is rather beautiful, albeit out of my usual palette comfort zone. (It does take dye well however, so I’m going to buy more to self-colour.) Some up-close inside shots to show the texture and finishing:

Self-bias faced armholes and the faced, topstitched neckline.

The hem facing and centre-front seam.

French-seamed shoulder seam and French bust dart in the background, the ‘legs’ of which are cut out, so raw edges are overlocked after it’s sewn together.


The rather directional design details, not to mention the colour, feel a little ‘out there’ for my usual/current style, but I do love it and expect it will get lots of wear. It looks so good with denim (Safran jeans here) and the relaxed shape and dream fabric make it super comfy. Here’s hoping I don’t spill coffee/wine/spaghetti down it too soon… perhaps the real reason I usually stick to dark colours.

Thanks again to Megan for sending me the Dove pattern to try! You can pick it up for 20% off until Friday using the code HELLODOVE.

Kniti Midi Inari

Inari hack1

Sewing time is short right now and I need guaranteed results, so I’ve been doing quite a few repeat makes of TNT patterns lately. This dress merges the best bits of two of my wardrobe essentials to get another dreamily simple easy-to-wear everyday dress. Guess the two references from my recent makes…?

Inari hack2

Answer: the base pattern is the Named Inari dress, and the fabric choice and mods were inspired by my Style Arc Celine. I wear one or the other of those weekly (and have made a second stripy Inari already) and now this one’s gone straight into rotation too.

Inari dress hack

The pattern ‘hack’ was really easy:
– Freehand convert the round neckline to a V. Tip: cut the V shape in a slightly concave (curving outwards) line rather than straight diagonal: it sits nicer on the upper chest.
– Cut the front as a pair rather on the fold, adding seam allowance, as it’s easier to make a nice V-neck if you sew the shoulder seams, then sew the neckband on, then seam the CF
– Add six inches to the length
– The tie is a separate skinny piece, sewn RS together as a tube then turned RS out, the ends tucked in and sewn closed.

Inari hack3

The fabric’s the same as my Celine, cheapo poly-blend rib knit from MyFabrics, but in navy instead of green. The fabric’s held up really well on my Celine, no bobbling/pilling yet despite many washes. I’m going to buy yet more for future variations on this theme.

Inari hack4

The Inari is designed for either woven or knits, so I didn’t alter the sizing. I think the pattern even includes instructions and a pattern piece to do a neckband for knits instead of the facings. I added about 1.5″ onto the sleeve length and left off the bands.

Inari hack5

One final detail was to leave a small slit at the centre front – easy because of the new CF seam. I was going to level off the hem but decided I quite liked the small extra detail of the stepped hem. I forgot to take a photo without the belt, but it looks pleasingly sack-like and cocoon-y, so it’s really two looks in one. All in all, it’s cycle-friendly, comfy and took like an hour to sew. I need more makes like this in my life right now!

Safran jeans

Deer and Doe Safran 2

Allo! I’ve been on the jeansmaking train again – it’s never too long between denim sessions chez Katie. This time it was external forces guiding me, because Deer and Doe sent over a pre-release of their new Safran jeans and pants sewing pattern to road-test and review. I’ve tried a lot of skinny jeans patterns by this point – Burdas, Style Arcs, Closet Case Files – so how do Safran stack up?

Deer and Doe Safran 4

The main difference is that the Safrans are lower on traditional jeans-style details and instead tread the line towards more classic skinny trousers. Depending on fabric type you could make quite smart minimal cigarette pants in, say, a black sateen, or go ahead with denim and add plenty of topstitching for more of a jeans look. I went down the middle, using a crisp mid-blue denim but without much extra detailing.


The pattern comes with two views – A has belt loops, back pockets, a full length leg and instructions for topstitch detailing; B leaves off those details and has a just-above-ankle length. I used mostly view A with the length of view B, however I left the hems raw and staggered them slightly so the back is a bit longer. It’s a look I’ve seen in RTW that I like a lot – and hey, no hemming – bonus!

Deer and Doe Safran 11

A few things of note while I sewed up the pattern:

Deer and Doe Safran 1

Fabric: You’ll definitely want to heed the fabric recommendations and look for something with 20%+ stretch, because there’s plenty of negative ease factored into the hip measurement. I made a toile in lower stretch denim and while I could just about zip them up, I couldn’t move very far! My final denim is medium weight with about 20% stretch, from Woolcrest Textiles.

Deer and Doe Safran 3

Sizing: I’m a 38/40 in D&D dresses and cut 40 at the waist, 42 at the hip and 38 in the lower leg. The seam allowances are a generous 5/8″ so you have some fitting wiggle room; I always baste jeans up and try them on before before final sewing as each different denim means the fit will vary a little. I could also probably take a look at a few adjustments around the crotch and knees to fix some of those wrinkles. But I really like them proportionally – the rise length is great and there’s a nice curvy waistband that stays put on the low natural waist and doesn’t gape, despite there being no back yoke or darts.

Deer and Doe Safran 9

Pockets: The welted slash pockets are a nice detail that are interesting/challenging to sew and actually functionally easier to use than traditional curved jeans pockets. I’d recommend using a pocket lining fabric either with a similar stretch factor to your main fabric, or cutting your pocket lining pieces on the bias so they have some natural give. Using nonstretch cotton for lining can sometimes lead to weird distortion and drag marks, especially if you’re generous of hip like me.

Deer and Doe Safran 10

Fly: The included fly instructions are different to those I’ve seen before. I tried to follow them on my toile and didn’t like the result much – the zip was only just covered by the overlap – so I deferred back to my favourite Sandra Betzina method. Overall the instructions are clear and detailed but not too hand-holdy, which works for me.

Deer and Doe Safran 5

There’s lots more details and other tester versions of the Safran pattern on the Deer & Doe blog and they’re planning a series of tutorials and tips. From my point of view, if you like the adaptability of the style go to from jeans to pants, it’s a really nice versatile pattern. Just be sure to get streeeetchy fabric!