Statement Coats

Statement coats are the latest quarantine obsession. Outdoor dining may be here to stay, or at least an option at many restaurants in the future.

So this is a great time to go Casual underneath and fancy on top. It changes your mindset. I love showing off my coats, it thrills me when I get compliments. 🤗 I feel like shouting out “Hello World” as I strut around.

If you want to be fashion-forward, consider sewing a pandemic statement coat. They are actually easier to sew than many blouses or dresses. The fabric usually does all the flirting allowing simple lines to make up the design.

A new in person “Sew a Statement Coat” class has been added to the Sewing and Design School. The class is available for men and women, with a large selection of suggested lined coat patterns.

This class is a great intro to tailoring with contemporary sewing techniques.

There are great fabrics available and I challenge you to be bold, use a fun print for your lining.

$ 230.00
January 30
February 13

Class size is limited to 5 students. Masks are required.

Go to the Calendar page at the Sewing and Design School’s website.

Stitching in a Set-In-Sleeve


noun – A sleeve joined to the body of a garment by a seam starting at the edge of the shoulder and continuing around the armhole.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

In a blouse or shirt, I find 1/2-5/8” of ease works the best. In a jacket or coat, the sleeve head ease is increased to 3/4-1 1/4”.

CONSTRUCTION DIRECTIONS – Baste in by machine gathering stitches.

1. Use the longest stitch your machine has.

2. Sew the basting stitches with the right side of the fabric up. You will be pulling the bobbin basting stitches (wrong side of fabric). This will enable you to adjust the stitches when you place right sides of fabric together when you attach them. AND, the bobbin thread tension is slightly looser making gathering easier.

3. Start your basting stitches at the notch/notches. ✔️Double notches indicate this is the side that attaches to the body back.

4. On a pattern that uses 5/8” seam allowances, start your basting stitch 1/2” from the raw edge. Stitch from notch to notches (left sleeve) and notches to notch (right sleeve). Pivot with the needle into the fabric toward the center of the sleeve, stitch 2 stitches. Pivot with the needle on the fabric to return stitching 3/4” away from raw edge, parallel to the 1/2” basting stitch.

5. Stitching the basting lines 1/8” on each side of the seam stitching line prevents accidental pleating as you sew in the sleeve in.

6. Sewing Tip – pull the basting threads until you have gathers, then release all the gathers. There will be ease left that in most cases the perfect amount of ease allowing you to sew in the sleeves without puckers 🤗.

7. Sew the underarm seam and finish the seam allowances in you preferred method.

8. Sew in the sleeve in a continuous seam all around the armhole. Pin the left sleeve to the left armhole. That may sound obvious but you have a 50% chance of doing it wrong if you are not paying attention. First pin in the sleeve underarm seam to the side seam with the right sides of the fabric together. Next pin in the shoulder seam to the top dot on your sleeve. (I am not going into adjusting the correct hang of the sleeve in this construction directions, that is covered in fitting a muslin). Pin in the remaining sleeve starting with the side you pivoted the basting stitches.

Too Much Ease in your Sleeve head?

If you are using a commercial pattern, an easy solution to reduce your ease is to draw a perpendicular line to the grain line in the sleeve head. Draw a second line parallel to the first line half the excess ease you need to take out. Fold along one line and place on second line. Tape together. It does not matter which line you fold, it comes out the same. True the edges if necessary.

If you need to add ease, draw the same first line. Extend drawing the grain line up to the top of the sleeve head. Cut and spread half the distance of the ease you need. Align the grain lines together. True or blend the edges of the sleeve head.

The Difference between Woven, Stretch Woven and Knit fabrics

A question was sent to me asking the difference between stretch woven fabrics and knit fabrics. There are 3 main types of fabric fabrications. Woven, Knit and Film. The main difference between woven vs knit fabrics is how they are constructed.

Woven fabrics are created using several warps, or longitudinal yarns, this runs the length of the fabric and in sewing we refer to it as the grain line, and wefts, or latitudinal yarns, referred to cross grain. Woven fabrics are formed on a loom. Selvages are formed on each lengthwise sides by the weft yarns wrapping the warp yarns. There is no stretch lengthwise or crosswise and the fabric will give a little on the bias (45 degree angle) and in loosely woven fabrics and twill weaves (like your denim jeans).

Woven fabrics become stretch woven fabrics when spandex is an added yarn., either in the weft or warp or both. Spandex is various elastic textile fibers made chiefly of polyurethane. Spandex is a generic term, it is not a trademark name as a number of the names of other fibers are. Brand names for spandex include Lycra (made by Koch subsidiary Invista, previously part of DuPont), Elaspan (also Invista), Acepora (Taekwang Group), Creora (Hyosung), INVIYA (Indorama Corporation), ROICA and Dorlastan (Asahi Kasei), Linel (Fillattice), and ESPA (Toyobo). There is stretch found in stretch woven fabrics, sometimes found lengthwise, sometimes found crosswise, sometime both, depending on the direction of the spandex in the weave. As spandex formulas improve, stretch recovery has improved.

Knitted fabrics are looped yarns, involving interloping or interlacing a single yarn or thread. In the industry many of the knitted fabrics are formed on a circular knitting machine and the knit is later cut along the grain line and sealed. Often the edge is mistaken for the selvage edge.

Knitted fabrics that have spandex yarns added become 2 way stretch knit fabrics. They stretch width wise and length wise.

Film fabrication is found in plastic sheeting, felt …

Sewing patterns are sized specifically for the fabric fabrications. The wearing ease changes with each type of fabrication due to the amount of stretch.

Pattern Company Fashion Shows at Sew Expo

I want to see the return of the fashion shows Simplicity Pattern Company and the McCalls Pattern Company at Sew Expo in Puyallup, WA.

I always sat in the front row, pen and camera in hand, ready to write down notes to share with my *students. The majority of my students use their patterns. These patterns are not only an inspiration to create a current fashion, but templates with instructions to construct them.

If you feel like I do please let them know. If you are missing them at your local trade show, let them know how important they are. Go to and scroll down to Contact Us. Let them know.

*I averaged teaching 80-112 Clothing Construction students 6 hours a week, 10 1/2 weeks a year for 32 years. For the past 7 years my weekly student load has lessen due to a change in my position, but that is still a lot of students. I have had my hands in every one of the student’s patterns, from altering through construction.

Your Dirty Laundry Cleaning Tips

Now that the kids have returned to school this fall, have you noticed the plethora of laundry commercials? There are SO many additives, detergents, laundry softeners and types of washing machines out there, no wonder I get questions “How do I wash my clothes?”

It still goes back to the 3 basic principles of washing clothes

1 – water. The hotter the water the cleaner the clothes. But some fabrics can’t handle the heat or water.

2 – Detergent. Follow the directions on the container. The companies did the research and they state how much to use to get the best performance out of their product. A word to the wise, less deterrent leaves in dirt which wears out the fibers in your clothing faster. You do the $ math.

3. Agitation. You need to get the water and detergent moving through the fabric to remove the dirt. Nothing soaks clean.

I studied laundry care in my college Textile course and have had experts in the field; interior designers, dry cleaners, and home economists lecture my students and myself how to care for fabrics.


Stain removing additives and fabric softeners in detergents add to the cost of detergents. Do you need all those cleaning additives? Do you have grass stains in your clothes? Buy your stain removers separately.


Bleach is used for disinfecting. A product only needs 5% bleach in their formula to state it disinfects. And do you need to disinfect all your clothes?

Bleach removes the dye from your clothes. It does not whiten whites or brighten colors unless it state it does because whiteners and brightened additives have been added to the bleach formula.

Today’s bleach formula is different than the one your Mom used. It now has a shelf life. A little longer than bread but too short to buy it by the gallon. There is a dated shelf life before the container is even opened! The shelf life shortens as soon as you open the container to about 30 days. So buy smaller bottles.

Bleach only works in COLD WATER. People in the food industry know this, I understand it’s part of the food handlers test.

I need to repeat, bleach is a disinfectant. It will still smell the same when it is too old to be a disinfectant.

Quiz: What do you use bleach for?


Look for additives that say they whiten whites, because they have special whitening additives in them. Sometimes I will soak them in this. Both borax and Borateem are laundry-enhancing products that are added to a wash cycle. Both have whitening qualities and come in powdered form. Borax has been used as a laundry booster since the 19th century whereas Borateem is a specific brand made by the Dial Corporation.( I haven’t seen Borateem on the shelves lately, I think it is one of the best.)

Fabric Softeners

This is really what prompted me to write this. I just saw a commercial stating to add as many a 3 dryer softener sheets to avoid ironing your clothes. I laughed so hard, I cried. First of all, that’s a lot. Dryer sheets will leave an oily stain on your synthetic fabrics (polyester). Don’t worry, it will wash out the next time you wash your clothes but if you use those sheets again the spots will move like cancer.

I was married to a Maytag man. He sold and repaired washers and dryers. The dryer sheets build a film up on your dryer vent screen, blocking the hot air from escaping. This may cause a fire 🔥. You should wash your screen with soap and water, or as he suggested, run it through your dishwasher (he sold those too)!

👍Good to know- those dryer sheets repel mosquitoes and add fragrance to stinky tennis shoes and luggage. I suggest you wash your tennis shoes; remove the insoles to wash by hand and throw the shoes in the washing machine. Keep the luggage smelly fresh by packing zip lock baggies for dirty and wet clothes and remove them from the luggage ASAP.

Liquid fabric softeners don’t leave stains but do leave a coating on your towels that block absorption. Then you may think your towels are not working and you bought the wrong kind 🧐. Tip: do not use on fleece or performance fabrics. They coat the fabrics preventing them from doing what the do best and pill.

Wrinkle prevention – remove your clothes from the dryer as soon as they are dry and the dryer stops. Use your hand to smooth out the wrinkles. This is not as good as an iron but many of our younger generation do not own an iron so they don’t see the difference. 😂

Dry cleaning wools. This comes straight from my dry cleaner

– Hang up your wool garments as soon as you take them off. Wool naturally wicks away the dirt and it falls to the floor.

– Do not use the plastic dry cleaning bags to store your clothes. They give off a toxic gas that breaks down the fibers.

– Many people over clean their woolens but if stained, get them cleaned within 2-3 days. This applies to all stains. Tell the dry clean what stained the garment so they can treat it with the correct stain remover. Sugery based stains actually oxides and lifts the dye from the fabric. You may get the stain out but it still leaves a stain like look because it is a different color or shade.

Antique fabrics need to be handled with care. OxiClean has been reported to safely clean with care by an Interior Designer who buys and sells antique fabrics/home accessories.

Sleeve designs are STRONGER than ever!

Fashion Designers are having a lot of fun with Sleeves. In 2017 I thought the sleeve designs were at their peak and I called it “The Year of the Sleeve.” Women complained to me that the Sleeves were impractical to wear, they couldn’t cook or clean house with Sleeves in the way! I knew I wouldn’t be wearing inappropriate clothing to work in, why are they thinking fashion dictated that? But the rage of the Sleeve continued into “Statement Sleeves” and the sleeve designs started showing up on the legs of pants.

Folks, just take the idea of the sleeve design, temper it down to your own “style.” That’s what I do for most “Powerful” and “Strong” designs for myself.

This is a Johanna Ortiz Design.

Prabal Gurung Spring 2019.

John Galliano Spring 2019.

Alexandre Vaithier Spring 2019 Couture.

Dice Kayek structured silhouette.

Ganni – sew wearable!

Carolina Herrera

Alexandre Vaithier. Beautiful balance of design. And, there is no way I will be doing dishes in this!

Zimmermann Ready-to-Wear Fall 2019. Ideas, ideas, ideas…


Sleeve Tuesday

It started out with the “Year of the Sleeve” in 2017. Sleeve designs had been building momentum in the previous years. Fashion Designers started to push the envelope and the Sleeves continued to expand, move down to the Leg and back up. Statement Sleeves captured the eye in 2018 and they are not looking back in 2019.