Making Perfect Points

sewing, tutorials

I was asked to give some tips on how to make the nice sharp points like the ones on the ends of my collars.  This is a little tricky but really just takes practice.  I learned how to make great points by making lots of really bad ones first. I finally got a little bit of wintry sunlight to shine into my studio so I could snap a few photos to go along with the text.

While making this post I decided  that I will follow it up with one of my collar patterns and a tutorial for how to make the detachable collar.  But I need to get my pattern scanned first so enjoy this pointy tutorial and next Monday I will upload the collar pattern. 

Pointy Pointers


  • You should  sew your point with the tiniest stitch you can. This will help prevent the trimmed seam allowance from poking through the stitches  after you have turned your point right side out. Stitch the main body of the collar with a medium stitch length then when you get close to the point stop sewing and adjust the stitch length to something  smaller.
  • If you can trace your stitch lines directly onto the fabric that will help you make sure your stitching is exactly where it needs to be. Make sure to mark your turning point on the fabric so that as you sew you will know exactly where to turn.
  • When you get to the point stop sewing with the needle down directly through the point, lift the presser foot and turn the fabric so that the stitching line of the next side is lined up perfectly in front of the needle. Put the presser foot back down and finish sewing.
  • Some people like to sew to the point then turn half way and place a single stitch across the point, then turn the rest of the way to continue stitching the other side of the point. I only use this method when I’m working with really thick fabric and then it works very well at controlling some of the extra bulk.


The real trick to good points is trimming the seam allowance. Imagine that the fabric you leave outside  the stitch line needs to fit inside that point once it is turned. Trim as close as you can without endangering the seam, I would suggest never going closer than 1/8″.

  • First cut straight across the point and then trim the sides in stages taking a little bit off then a little more until you think it looks right.

how to sew points tutorial

  • You may want to grade your seam allowance to reduce bulk.  This is done by trimming away more on one layer of seam allowance so that the cut edges are not even and won’t lay right on top of each other after the collar is turned right side out.

how to sew perfect points

It’s a little tricky to see in this photo but this point has been graded.


Turning the point can be the most frustrating part and may take all of your patience.

  • Before you begin to turn your collar right side out press the whole thing flat, this will set your stitching.
  • Gently push the inside out with a bone turner being very careful not to push the point of the turner through the fabric leaving a hole.  When you can see the point but it seems like it just wont come out you can switch to a smaller turner like a chopstick to nudge the end out.
  • If the point still won’t come out you can try to gently pick it out with a straight pin.  This is risky because if you pull to hard you may pop the seam allowance out through the stitches so be very careful.

you can  also try takeing a needle threaded with thick thread and make a large knot in the end.  Pass the needle through one layer of the fabric very close to the point and pull the needle out through the opening. Gently tug on the knot as you turn the collar right side out and the point should come out. Cut the thread close to the fabric and shake the knot out.

sewing points tutorial


When you get your point turned out the way you like it press the whole collar flat with the hottest iron your fabric can handle. Pressing makes everything look better!

Your best bet is make a few samples. Just using the point part of your pattern cut out a few sets that you can practice with. Make sure that you are using similar fabric to that of your final project and that you cut the pieces following the grain line indicated on the pattern.

Just go slowly and thoughtfully, you don’t want to ruin your project  by being hasty.

what did you do today?

design, process, sewing

I found some new fabrics to turn into neckerchiefs and collars.

After the neckerchiefs are cut out they need to be tea stained by soaking in coffee.

Three new collars are cut out and ready to be sewn.  I like to make several at once.

The main sewing is done, collar is attached to stand and the opening at the bottom edge needs to be closed.

Time to pick out a vintage button and sew the button hole.

Lots of pretty finished collars.

Anticipating Spring

craft, sewing

I’m really excited about an early spring this year and I’ve been sewing away getting lots of new products ready for the etsy shop and for the craft shows I plan to do this summer.

I’ve been working on recycling men’s work shirts, one of my favorite materials, into turbans, scarves, skirts and so on…

I love these shirt collar scarves.

The snows of winter will soon turn into the rains of spring and what better way to keep your hair dry?  This is something I’ve been wanting to do for some time now and the pattern took awhile to get just right.  I wanted it to be lightweight yet sturdy; modern yet reminiscent of the one my grandma wore.  It comes in a cute little cotton bag too.

I’ll share more of my spring projects soon and will start adding new items to the etsy store at the end of the month during my 2011  re-launch.

***Handmade Christmas***

craft, sewing

I didn’t have a lot of time for handmade gifts this year with the full time job and all. Somehow I managed to make more than I thought I would. Here are a few of my favorite handmade gifts from Christmas this year.

A zombie hobo for a friend with a fondness for hobos and possibly zombies. The pattern is loosely based on one from this wonderful little book.  An Advent calendar quilt made from the tutorial found here; I actually made 2 of these bad boys. A fabric paper doll made from a McCalls pattern. Frog and Toad were  made for me by my lovely daughter with no pattern and all her own!  A Doxie necklace (and several pin versions) made from instructions on Etsy.  And finally a major undertaking cross stitch made from a vintage French chart.

Not bad for an insanely busy season!

Crafts Update #2

craft, design, life, sewing, Uncategorized

I actually managed to find time to make something for myself!  I needed a case for my NOOK and after looking at the sad and overpriced selection at the store I decided I needed to make my own.  After taking a leather workshop at school last year I have been collecting bits of interesting leather and vinyl from the thrift store, ebay and Tandy.

The sewing was tricky and it turned out a little too big but overall it works well and I like it. It’s also easy to find in the bottom of my bag.

Finally Photo Ready

design, life, sewing, Uncategorized

The senior cap stone is finally photographed so now it can be packed up, sold and given away.

Here it is, Your Life Is Still A Dream, inspired by Tideland, made by me.

Photo credits:

Photos by Rachel Schwarz

Models in order: Riana of New View, Taylor of Wings, Paulina of WilhelminaS2

Make-up by Erica Stewart, Hair Styling by Philip Nathaniel Saunders

* Also some of these necklaces I made myself (rabbits feet and doll parts) BUT some of them were made by David Nebert (tiny terrariums and wood leaves) and can be viewed here:

A little bit of progress goes a long way…

design, knitting, sewing

Lately it has felt as though I have been treading water.  Working a lot, but not really getting anywhere.  I will work on a project and then get to a point where I need to stop and wait for supplies or just think about how to proceed.  It becomes really frustrating to work this hard and just have piles of fabric and full sketch books to show for it.  So, I started a few just for fun projects to keep my hands busy and maybe feel a bit of that thrill you get from actually finishing something.

I embroidered this skirt for Scout.

And I knitted this sort of Rodarte inspired scarf thing.  Of course I got carried away and it is HUGE, but it will be fun to wear.

And then this week something strange happened.  In the middle of all the frustration of trying to work while having kids home for yet another snow day, I started to see some progress.

After days of sampling, yarn shopping,  pattern drafting, and muslin making, I started on this crochet/knit jacket.  Once I actually got started it moved forward pretty quickly.  I still need to make all of the pieces for the back and then join all of the little pieces together.  Then it will be lined and finished off with leather trim. All in all I think I will have 2 solid weeks of work into this little tiny thing.  I am really happy with how it is turning out; a little bit ugly and a little bit odd, a little bit vintage and a little bit modern.

Yesterday the best progress of all happened when I received the swatches from Spoonflower of the fabrics I designed.  They look amazing and only needed just a few changes. Very soon I will be able to order the fabric for the shirts, scarves and bags.

The largest moths here are about 8″ across.

Why buy when you can copy…

design, sewing, Uncategorized

If I could afford the Comme des Garcons trench (FW/09) I would buy it.  I would buy one in every color and style.  This coat makes me want to cry.

OK, I’m a bit over dramatic but what the hell.  So of course on my student/designer for hire/can I shorten some pants for you salary, I could never afford a coat that would cost more than what I paid for my car. So I headed out to my favorite thrift in search of clothing that could be turned into something resembling the coveted trench.

I lucked out big time.  First I found a short mens trench that was a great color and weight but also had the most amazing brass buttons.  In the women’s section I found a long red and black wool blanket skirt.

I had to take the jacket body and sleeves in quite a bit because they were both really wide. Then I chopped off about 12″ of the length and removed all the buttons, pockets and plackets.  I reattached about 5″ of the length including the original hem to form a really straight, thigh length coat.

Then I draped the skirt around and under the coat until I had an idea about how to cut it.  I used the waste band of the skirt as a scarf around the collar and the fringe from the front of the skirt to trim the lapel and left front.  I trimmed up the rest of the skirt into a rectangle and then cut a square from the center of the cut edge, basically making a horse shoe shape out of it.  Then I took the horse shoe shape by the inside corners and stretched it out so that it formed a straight line at the top with the corners of the original rectangle hanging down all pointy and uneven.  Get it?  Kind of tricky to explain, but it worked!   I sewed the pockets and buttons back on, reattached the lining and tried it on.

I’m happy with it.  It’s not quite as amazing as the original but it is definitely my style, I think it looks like something I would make and wear — it’s more me than the Comme version.  I am tempted to get into my feelings about copying other designers work, which are mixed.  But I’m just not in the mood, I just want to enjoy my new coat and this snowy day.

(Comme pics from Style dot com)

Muslin update

design, sewing

Muslins are ugly, they just are.  So bland and colorless.  When I make one I can appreciate the beauty in it, well, because I made it.  But it takes a lot of imagination to see the final garment in a beige mass of unbleached cotton.  For example, here is a snap shot of a muslin, a sketch of the same coat and swatches of the fabric that the final coat will be made from.

I think seeing the sketch and fabric makes things a little clearer, no?

With all of that said here are some more snap shots of muslins on the models from our recent critique.

This shirt dress has a row of buttons and button holes on each side so that it can be buttoned right over left or left over right. Sewing in sleeves is a real pain, especially when you know you are going to have to do it many, many times.  That is why some of these shirts only have one sleeve. My sleeves also have a lot of detail in them so I tend to only make one in the muslin.

This hat is actually in final fabric, it’s the first hat of hopefully many.