Tag Archive | problem

The French Box Top

DSCN0651Having successfully completes the box pleat skirt for the little girls dress that I recently made, I wanted to continue practicing by making more box pleats. With that, I picked this box pleated top as my next project. It only had one box pleat so it would be a fast sew, but I would still be practicing another box pleat. Because I felt comfortable with sewing the box pleat, I decided to finish the seams off with French seams. This top would then give me practice on two sewing techniques that I had already tried, but that I could still use some practice in making.

DSCN0661The pattern for this top was a free one that I found online. I had just enough ladybugs and green cotton scraps left over to make this top with. So I printed out the pattern, taped it together and cut it out. As I cut out the paper pattern, I noticed that the facing and the front pieces of the top did not match up. I knew that if I cut the pattern out based on the pattern pieces, I would have a mess with mismatched facings, and I would get flustered while sewing this together and not get good results. Knowing this, I discarded the facings pieces from the pattern and just used the top pieces to cut a facing instead.

Sewing the top started with the French seams to piece the ladybug fabric and green cotton fabrics together. The French seams came out great! They are clean and finished. Since the green cotton is heavier than the ladybug fabric, I sewed the French seams to the green cotton rather than the other way around.

DSCN0212Next came sewing the box pleat. This time, I sewed the seam down the back of the pleat, flattened the pleat and then stitched across the top of the pleat to secure it. I did not top stitch the box onto the pleat like I did for the skirt. I wanted the pleat to open up if needed on this top.

DSCN0250Next up, I sewed the shoulder seams and then it was time to apply the facings. After reading the pattern guide for how to sew the facings, I decided the pattern guides instructions would not work for me. So I threw the pattern guide away along with the facings pieces from the pattern. I decided to sew the facing to the top as I had learned from making the bodices of the dresses that I had made before. I sewed around the neck and down the back, and then around the arms. Next, I stitched the side seams together. Because the side seams were exposed after the facing ended, I did a French seam for the side seams. But, as I tried to sew the French side seam down, I ran into trouble. The French side seam on top of the French piecing seams was just too thick. I broke 3 needles before I gave up and decided not to stitch down the French side seams. I don’t believe that having the side seams not stitched down will affect the wearing of this top. Next, I hemmed the facing.

DSCN0653Once again because the facing did not extend to the bottom of the top and because I had abandoned the pattern guides instructions, half of the back seams were left exposed. So to finish off the edge, I folded the edge over on each side of the back. This gave me four layers of fabric at the top where the facings are and two layers down below the facings. I did not apply any interfacing to the button placket because of the 4 layers, but as I sewed the buttonholes and buttons to the top, I wished that I had added some interfacing below the facing where the top was only two layers thick, especially on the thinner ladybug fabric. The buttons and buttonholes came out fine even without the interfacing. There was no way my buttonholer would sew over the French seams, so I had to carefully measure and place the buttonholes so that I would not have an issue making them or sewing on the buttons. The last steps were to hem the bottom of the top and topstitch around the arms and neck.

DSCN0655I am pleased with the end results of this top. It was great to practice with the box pleats and French seams, but what I am most proud of is that I was able to identify the pitfalls of the pattern and the construction early on in the project. And that I was able to use my sewing knowledge to circumvent them instead of suffering through them, and to find a better way for me to complete the project. Usually if there is a hard way to do something, that’s my way of doing it, but this time that was not true. I hope I can keep up this forethought momentum as I move on to my next project.

Until next time, sew forth and box top on.

But They Said To

I have fought with interfacing my entire sewing career. It has been a thorn in my side since the first time I used it and it continues to be today. I would love to just leave it out of my projects but I understand its importance in the wear and life of a garment. I have tried many different brands and types of interfacing over the years with a wide range of results. Sometimes it irons on perfectly and sometimes it destroys the project leaving curls and bubbles in the collars and facings.


Most recently I have been using Pellon SF101.  As with other interfacing, I get mixed results. I have read and re-read the instructions until I have them memorized. The question of whether to pre-shrink interfacing or not is one that I have debated about many times, but in the instructions for the SF101, in bold letters, it says yes you must pre-shink this interfacing by “putting it in warm water for a few minutes and then line dry it”. I can do that.  Next it said to “follow instructions for EK130”. Ok, I can do that. The EK130 instructions say, “Press firmly for 10 seconds. Repeat, lifting and slightly overlapping each time.” Fine, I can do that. So, I did and my end results were terrible.

Knowing the challenges I have had previously with interfacing, I tried to figure out where I went wrong over the next several months and projects. First, I thought that maybe I did not soak the interfacing long enough so that it shrank properly. So, I soaked it longer and tried hotter water, even boiling water. At first, this seemed to be the answer. A couple of projects came out without curls or bubbles, but on the next project the bubbles and curls were back. Next I tried a heavy press cloth, first dry, then wet, then soaked with mixed results. Next a thinner press cloth, dry, then wet, then soaked. Once again with mixed results. Now what do I try? I did samples before each project. Most times the samples would be fine, but when the full pieces were ironed on, the results varied.


Today, I stood in front of the ironing board with my pre-shrank interfacing and freshly cut out pieces for my new shirt form my new pattern, Buttrick B5503. I so want the interfacing to just work. I re-read the general instructions for the interfacing and I make note of the pictures that show you should slide the iron on the interfacing. But, the instructions say to lift and overlap. But, what do I have to lose? I can follow the same instructions as I always have and it may or may not work, or I can try something different. So, I place the fabric and interfacing on the ironing board, cover it with a damp thin  press cloth, and iron with a sliding motion this time. The results are perfect. Is this the answer?


I don’t know if this is the answer to the interfacing conundrum, but it worked this time. I need to try it again this way a few more times and see what results I get before I can say that this is the answer to life, the universe and everything. I sure hope that it is.