December 22, 2015

Pride an Prejudice Uniform Trim Project Tutorial

It's the first day of Winter and the week of Christmas. I was going through some photos from last Summer's job at American Players Theatre and though I'd share this fun uniform trim project.  I pitched in on this project after my shows had opened and it was very gratifying to see it come together, and to have a tiny snippet of a part in getting this lovely production to the stage.

The production was Pride and Prejudice and the Costume Designer was Susan Mickey from the University of Texas at Austin.  The Draper for this show was Kathy Brookfield, and the Tailor for the menswear was Sheila Morris. Kathy was in charge of draping the women's costumes, which where absolutely stunning. And Sheila was in charge of the menswear, including the absolutely swoon worthy tailcoat and overcoat for Mr. Darcy.

The principle actor's costumes were built in house by the APT costume shop. A portion of the costumes were "pulled" from the exquisitely archived costume stock at APT. The military uniforms were manufactured by a custom uniform shop according to the actor's measurements. They were then shipped to the costume shop in Spring Green Wisconsin where they were fit on the actors by tailor  Sheila Morris. Each of the coats was then altered according to the standards used by the shop to assure that they will be able to be used by many other actors for years to come.

This uniform was being altered at the center back neckline for a custom fit specifically for this actor in this production.
The coat will be able to be re-altered in the future. 

Then Susan  and her assistant Kelsey Vidic set up  and designed trim for each tailcoat individually using gold braid and shoulder boards that they purchased or pulled for the show.   They set up all the trim by pinning each section of braid on the uniforms while on dress forms and took photos of them. I was then able to reference the photos when pinning and sewing the trim.  Kelsey bagged each of the trim "kits" separately. These bags of trim were carefully marked with the actor's name and stored with the photo in the boxes used to organize all the little pieces and parts assigned to each character.

I found the placement for the trim by basting in some guide lines so the finished points would all line up when the coat was closed.  Note that the center of the body is not the same line as the edge of the coat front. So I had to mark the center of the body and measure the distance of all the trim pieces from that line, not the coat front line. 
I placed the top and bottom pieces individually based on the distance from the bottom of the coat and the shoulder line. I then counted the remaining pieces that needed to fit in between the top and bottom and used one of my favorite tools to find those evenly spaced marks

After all the placement was marked I made the individual trim units by cutting the braid and using Fraycheck on the ends to assure that they didn't unravel, as they proved to be considerably unravely. 

After the trim was dry I could zig zag the pieces together by starting at the ends and zigging across the ditch. The walking foot on my machine came in very handy to keep everything going smoothly and accurately. 

I then pinned the little trim units onto the coat front and again used my walking foot or IDT for Pfaff users to keep the work very precise.

And then the other side: 

All pinned and ready to sew. 

The finished coat front. 
They each got sleeve and collar trim and big whopper popper closures as well. 

I thought you might enjoy the process of how these things come together.
 The trim only portion of all  these uniforms (I believe there were a total of 6) took me the better part of a 40 hour work week to complete. 
In sharing this I hope you are able to see how much thought and care go into a production. 
If you have any questions or comments please share in the comments section below. How have you handled tricky multiples projects?  I love to hear what you like to see more of so let me know. I take pictures of all my projects as I go now so I have a lot more in the vault to share. 

October 5, 2015

Swing Jacket Pattern!

My first garment pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!

This pattern is a very easy to sew swing jacket that has a flattering strong vertical front neckline, bracelet length sleeves, a timeless vintage inspired silhouette, and only requires 2 yards of 55" wide fabric for all sizes. It includes sizes S -3XL. (See photos for sizing information.) 
Great for layering, and can be made in woven or knits in weights from sheer to mid-weight linen to wool melton or polar fleece or sweatshirt fleece depending on the season. This jacket is easy to wear and easy to make with convenient on seam pockets, and the entire jacket is two pattern pieces: The jacket body (including sleeves and pockets) and the neckband. There are optional instructions for finishing either with standard turn and fold topstitching hems or with hemstitching for a vintage look. Enjoy!

Go to my Etsy shop here:    Swing Jacket Pattern

September 4, 2015

Patterning Gathers

Hi guys, I get a lot of questions on my Craftsy Pattern Drafting from Ready to Wear class about how to handle gathers. Up to now I've been able to explain it pretty well in just words, but I got a request for a visual, so I've drawn a few illustrations for it. 

First when the area you are patterning is pinned down, make sure you pin it to the square as shown in the class demonstration. Smooth the garment as much as possible wherever possible and pin that area. 
Note that not all areas will touch the line on your paper because of the gathers. Just let it pull away and keep the garment straight and square as you pin. 

Remove the garment and see the pin holes as in the other pieces you've done already.

Draw in your lines, but where the gathered area is, use the curved ruler I demonstrate in the class to extend the armscye area straight up, and use the L line you've drawn on the paper to find the outer edge of the fold line at the top. (If the garment is folded on the straight of grain, you know that this will be a straight line extending all the way through the front of the garment. 

Then you just proceed as usual by putting in your seam allowances and cutting and sewing instructions. 

I hope this helps!
Please let me know and I will continue to supplement the class discussion in this way. 

January 23, 2015


Holy Moly! I got nominated for a blogging award! This humble little blog I made to share what I can't stuff into all my classes. Thanks so much whoever nominated me! I'm super grateful!

You can VOTE on this and all the other categories here:


January 15, 2015

Tailoring Supplies

I get a ton of questions about the best resources for tailoring supplies, so here are some of my best go to resources for all things tailoring.


These are the shoulder pads I always use in jacket and coat tailoring and they come in 2 sizes, 3/4" and 1" I get the 3/4" for women's styles and the 1" for men's as a general rule, but depending on the project you may want the other. It's a case by case thing. As I point out in my classes, they look a lot fluffier when you get them than you think they need to be but they compress a lot when you put them in. They are sold in pairs. If you think you might like this tailoring thing get several pairs at once and then you just have them around if you want to whip something up or if you're needing to refresh something old, or ad an extra pad to someone that's a little asymmetrical. These are just great to have on hand. You can buy them at SEW TRUE HERE


These are the sleeve heads I always use in jacket and coat tailoring.  As with the shoulder pads, they look a lot fluffier when you get them than you think they need to be but they compress a lot when you put them in. They're sold in pairs, and again, these are also just great to have on hand. You can buy them at SEW TRUE HERE


Here's the sew in canvas I use in my Jacket tailoring classes. It can be found at many online and brick and mortar retailers, as it's the most common old school tailoring supply. I'm just giving you the link for SEW TRUE to keep it all tidy and you can pretty much order most all of these supplies from them or B. Black and Sons.

It also comes in a fusible version which is very useful and I've had terrific luck with it staying fused and it shapes just the same as the sew-in, but you don't have to do all that pad stitching. Here's the link to the SEW TRUE page where you can buy it. 


This thread is tha bomb. It's very stiff so it doesn't tangle easily, it's all cotton so it breaks easily and it's just the best thing for doing a lot of basting. You see this in tailor's shops everywhere. It's the real deal. The old school tailors don't use a lot of pins, they mark with chalk and baste with this, so they always have a needle loaded up with this at all times. I can't say enough how great this is. Get one, they last forever. You can buy it from B. Black and Sons Here


And speaking of chalk, this is all I ever use. It's the most often used among all the tailors I've ever worked with. It has a nice sharp edge and it disappears when you iron it, really disappears. If you ever use it and find that it doesn't disappear on a fabric, you just scrape the line lightly with your fingernail and it does. If I was a little more photo shop oriented I'd draw some radiating beams of sunlight around this box of chalk in the photo. Buy a box and you will have some left over for your grandkids. They make a sharpening gadget as well, but old school tailors just sharpen them with a razor blade. You can get these at B. Black and Son here.
To be continued...