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Sewing Expert Angela Wolf Answers Your Questions

Threads author, pattern designer, and sewing expert Angela Wolf.

Earlier this year, patternmaker and fashion designer Angela Wolf visited the Threads video studio to film the upcoming DVD, One Pattern, Many Ways Vol.1. During the shoot, we asked readers to submit any general sewing, patternmaking, or fashion design questions for Angela. There were so many great inquiries that we couldn’t pick just a few – so we’re going to answer them all!

All but five of your questions have been answered by Angela Wolf in this Q&A. The remaining unsanswered questions will be addressed in a series of web videos featuring Angela Wolf and Threads Executive Editor Judith Neukam. We will alert our readers when each video becomes available. Don’t miss the announcements: sign up for Threads Magazine weekly newsletters or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

A Q&A with Angela Wolf:

1. user-1111231 writes: Can you provide any tips on how to sew a silk chiffon dress so that only the sleeves are see-through? Would you make a slip dress underneath or underline the chiffon fabric?

Angela replies: Sew together the dress, attach the sleeves, and lastly, attach the lining to the dress section leaving the sleeves in a single layer. You can hide the armscye seam allowances within the lining.

2. 24g writes: How do you make an in slot seam tighter if the garment is too large?

Angela replies: Ripping out a slot seam can be a lot of work, but that would be one option. First determine if the slot seams are structural, often they are decorative. If the side, center back or front, and/or shoulder seams are standard seams, you may be able to make a simple alteration without changing the slot seams. Otherwise, try to make your alteration through the least number of seams possible. Then, first choose which slot seams you plan to alter. Open the slot seam, remove the backing, and stitch the new seam with a basting stitch. Try on the garment to check fit and once the fit is perfect, you can move the excess fabric to the wrong side and trim it away, and then resew the backing. Another option would be to add darts or additional seams to the garment.

3. user-2068325 writes: I have a few good fabric, T-shirt style dresses, that I love and now they are a bit too tight – especially around the bust. Do you have any ideas how I might rescue these? I do have some leftover materials.

Angela replies: Color blocking is such a huge trend, I would go that route by cutting apart the top and adding another fabric to the side seams and underarm. You mentioned you have additional fabric on hand. You could use it to add gussets to the side seams and underarm.

4. user-2462427 writes: I have a Petite Plus jacket pattern, and I am happy with the fit – except the sleeve. Considering it is a tailored style jacket, there is way too much gather in the head of the sleeve to be neatly eased into the armhole. Could you please provide some instruction on reducing a two-piece sleeve.

Angela replies: First, make sure the armhole and sleeve-cap seamline were cut from the same size. If you don’t need the extra space in the biceps, you could intentionally cut the next smaller size sleeve. Alternatively, I’d lower the sleeve cap – an easy way to do this is by pinching out excess pattern tissue at the sleeve cap, redrawing the sleeve cap, getting rid of some of the excess, and ultimately lowering the cap. Check out the video: I touch on this a little there.

5. Userg202013 writes: I have many nice quality pants made of a wonderful poly fabric. I’d like to change the waist from banded to nonbanded. Any suggestions? Is it difficult? Hope you can help. Thanks.

Angela replies: This can work on pants with a regular zipper, but not with a fly-front zipper or with a pull-on elastic waistband. Just replace the waistband with a facing around the waist, and finish it the same way you would any facing that includes a zipper. A 2-inch-wide strip of petersham ribbon make a perfect facing, as it can be pressed into shape.

6. shirleyjean writes: I modified a pants pattern by trimming several inches off of the center front waist (the original pants hung in the front from the waist and looked funny in front) and now it fits perfectly, but the waistband does not fit the pants. I can cut another – I have enough fabric – but how in the world do I create a waistband that will fit? Should I cut it on the bias so it will curve?

Angela replies: You can probably use the same waistband that you have cut out. It should be too wide, since you took in the pant body. Just start by pinning at the center back, and ease in the pant body waist to the waistband. You will end up with excess fabric at the zipper opening. Try on the pants one more time and, if they fit, trim off the excess fabric and finish the waistband.

7. user-2651485 writes: I’m using a lovely eyelet with a dainty scalloped edge for a skirt, but the pattern bottom is curved. Since I want the scalloped edge for the hem, how do I apply it, when the bottom is not straight? Please help. I usually cut a strip of fabric (with the scalloped-edge finish) the length of the skirt hem.

Angela replies: I have several suggestions: If the hem is curved, the side seams aren’t parallel to it. Lay your pattern pieces with the hemline aligned with the scallops to cut the pattern. When you sew the pieces together, the hem will curve. Or, after the skirt is sewn together, you can hand-stitch the scalloped trim to the bottom edge of the fabric

If you have any other solutions to the quetions above, please share them below!


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  1. Hunny | | #1

    Oh, Wow! DVDs with BOTH Judith AND Angela! My all-time faves - can't wait :)

  2. KSSunshine | | #2

    Dear Angela,
    I was wondering if you have a CD of making a Jacket? My granddaughter made a wool jacket and felt like she was never going to sew again, even though she received a purple ribbon on it. I know that if she watched you sew the jacket that is on our PBS station right now, she would have her confidence built up. Since she can't watch it as to being in school, I hoped you might have it on a CD I could buy for her.
    Heck! I am feeling like sewing for myself again, because of your inspiration. I don't know if you remember, but I'm the person that called to tell you how great you are and your teaching method is wonderful!!
    What was so sweet is that you called me back!! How wonderful is that?!!
    Thank you for your time.
    Pauline M. Conley
    Delia, Kansas
    [email protected]

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