Review of Craftsy Online Class “The Couture Dress”

I had always known of couture  and couture designers but I confess I really didn’t know what it meant. I recently purchased two books off Amazon that got me interested in couture techniques, the first was Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing by Gretchen Hirsch  and the second was Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B. Shaeffer . I will be honest I don’t have time to sit and sew bound button holes or hand baste raw fabric edges but the techniques and the reasons behind couture garment design and construction and really brilliant to know.

I love the Craftsy website and had seen The Couture Dress online class with Susan Khalje but initially I didn’t think it was for me. After reading a number of reviews that highly recommended the course, plus there being a excellent sale on courses I decided to give it a go.

Well I wasn’t disappointed. The course is certainly long and involved following the couture dressmaking process from preparing a muslin, fitting and alteration of the muslin, using the muslin as a pattern for your fashion fabric and garment lining. However, the insight  into form and function, the hows and whys a garment to put together in such a way was priceless. Susan’s classes were peppered with great tips from years of experience and I have already started using some of the couture techniques in non-couture projects.

Some of the things included in the course are:

  • constructing a muslin
  • adjusting fit
  • underlining
  • hand-picked zippers
  • perfect hems
  • working with bias material
  • matching plaids and patterns
  • garment and pattern alteration
  • a range of hand sewing techniques
  • setting sleeves and more

The course also includes a copy of the Vogue Easy Options Miss’s Dress posted out to you in your selected size.

To take a look at a video snippet of what the course entails click here.

So if you have the time or the inclination you wont be disappointed !


How To Create A Super Neat Finish When Attaching Bias Binding

I have been searching for some time for a way to finish off bias binding really neatly. I have always been really disappointed with my efforts when it came to finishing it off as I just cut it a little longer than I needed and tried to somehow fold it neatly and then try and keep it in place to sew it down.

This is one of my previous attempts to finish off bias binding on a neckline, which the OCD sewing freak in me detests…..

Poorly finished off bias binding on a neckline

Uneven bias binding finishing – ends folded over and overlapped…..not happy with it at all 😦

So after numerous google searches and You Tube videos I came across this quilting video and finally I thought I may just have a chance to make this right!!

So on my most recent project, a dress with bias tape around the neckline I decided to adapt this approach to see if I could improve the finish of the bias binding and it worked!!! So here is how I did it.

1. I made the bias tape a good 5-6 inches longer than the length I needed for the neckline and found the centre of the tape and started pinning it around the neckline starting at one of the shoulder seams.

2. When I got to the point on the other side of the neck line where the two ends met I made a mark on each piece  – this is where I will make the seam.

I marked the point at which each end of the bias tape met - this is where I will make the seam

I marked the point at which each end of the bias tape met – this is where I will make the seam

3. Then I unpinned some of the binding from the neck line so I could move it away from the body of the dress to sew my seam. I put right sides together as I would for joining bias tape when making a continuous piece – I made sure the 2 marks I made for the seam overlapped to form a cross and then drew in my 45 degrees sewing line to join the 2 pieces together.


Pin binding together so that marked points overlap in a cross – then draw in a 45 degree sewing line as you would is joining material to make continuous binding length

4. I then sewed along this line, pressed the seam open and trimmed off excess material.


Trimmed seam – looking promising!

5. I then repinned the binding to the neckline to see if it fit….and hooray it did – remember bias binding has quite alot of stretch because it is cut on the fabric bias so when pinning try not to stretch the binding too much or you will end up with excess binding by the time you get to the end! This was how my seam looked once I had sewn it into place.


6. Finally I folded over the remaining half of the binding, pinned in place and topstitched in place and the result was perfect – even better than I hoped! You can barely tell where the join is!


all finished off – wrong side of garment


Binding all attached and neatly finished…..super pleased with this!

This is the project in progress 🙂

Lily dress in progress

Lily dress in progress


So for anyone out there who is frustrated and let down by the finish of their bias binding why not give this a try. If you have any queries, I didn’t take as many pictures as I would of liked as I didn’t realise how well this would work till half way through the process, feel free to leave a comment and I will try to answer any questions.


Step By Step Tutorial: How To Make a Fabric Covered Belt

Two of my recent sewing projects have called for self covered fabric belts, but after searching the local sewing stores and online in Australia I could not find a belt making kit anywhere. Thankfully in the resources section in the back of my copy of Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing  she listed a place in the USA who sold belt kits. So through the joys of the internet I jumped online to purchase some belt kits and some horsehair braid (for another retro project from Gertie’s book!).

Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing – available through Amazon

I purchased from a great USA online store A Fashionable Stitch 2 belt kits, one rectangular and one circular buckle. The kits are great and include adhesive material to attach to fabric to buckle, belting, belt prong, eyelets, washers and a great set of instructions with diagrams.

Belt kit from A Fashionable Stitch

I followed the kits instructions for all the belt making except the way in which the fabric is attached to the belt so here’s how I did it.

Step 1. Press your fabric and if it is a flimsy fabric apply interfacing to the wrong side to make it more stable. Peel off one side of the adhesive pattern and stick it to the wrong side of the material. Cut around the outside of the pattern piece.

Step 2. Carefully cut out the marked portion of the adhesive piece being careful not to cut past the corner lines, I used a small rotary cutter and embroidery scissors for this.

Step 3. Peel the adhesive layer away from the pattern piece and carefully centre the pattern piece over the front portion of the buckle.

Step 4. Carefully stick the fabric to the buckle press down firmly to secure. Once done slip the back of the buckle into the front and crimp centre prong and corners of buckle to secure.

Step 5. If using buckle prong with eyelets attach prong to buckle and close with pliers.

Step 6. Cut the belting adding approximately an extra 6 inches to your waist measurement – shape the end to a point or curve as desired.

Step 7. Measure the width of your belting and cut a piece of fabric on the grain approx 3 inches longer than the length of your belting. My belting was 1 1/2 inches wide so from the folded edge I measured 1 1/2 inches plus 5/8 inch seam allowance. I then sewed along the long edge and trimmed the seam allowance.

Step 8. I then pressed the fabric and seam open so the seam was in the middle of the belt. Then at one end I sewed a point the same dimension as those as the belting material and trimmed the seam allowance so it would sit nicely when turned out to the right side.

Step 9. I turned the fabric so it was facing the right way out and inserted the belting material, pressed it and topstitched the edges of the belt. To ensure the belting didn’t  move within the fabric casing I inserted at pin at the other end of the belt where the fabric excess was.

Step 10. Thread excess fabric end through buckle and cut a small wedge of fabric out where prong will pass through (omit this if not using prong and eyelets).

Step 11. Fold over excess and hand stitch closed to secure fabric to belt buckle.

Step 12. Mark holes for eyelets on belt – measure approx 3 1/2 inches from belt tip and mark 4-5 spots for eyelet placement (an inch apart)and then punch holes with either a hole punch (pictured below) or with an eyelet tool.

Step 13. Place eyelets on right side of belt, then turn over belt, place washers over eyelets and punch closed using an eyelet tool and hammer.

Washer in place on wrong side of belt and eyelet tool

Eyelet tool placement before punching closed with hammer

And voilá there you have it!

The finished product!

So this is my fabric covered dress on my project – well worth the effort I think!

I hope this help anyone that is aiming to make a fabric covered belt. This tutorial is a bit of a fusion of the fantastic tutorials by  A Fashionable Stitch – hand covering a buckle and Coletterie – how to fabric cover a belt  which are both fabulous resources so be sure to check them out.


Bunion Operations = Sewing, Sewing and More Sewing!

Four weeks ago today I had both feet operated on. I was cursed with the hereditary condition of bunions – those horrid bony bumpy bits on the inside of your feet at the big toe.

Bunion – not mine!!

Not only do they look horrible but they are terribly painful and finding shoes to fit becomes a monumental task. I had been importing my shoes from the US as they were a wider fit.

My left foot had been giving me pain for over 10 years but my right foot was on the way to causing me serious grief so I decided to have booth feet fixed at the same time.

My pre-op xray of my left foot

To have both done at the same time was a huge undertaking, especially as I have a 2 and a 5 year old. However with some brilliant help from my husband and some extremely generous friends it went really smoothly.

Left foot during operation

Right foot during operation

The operation is not pleasant  – for anyone wanting to watch an animation of how they repair bunions click here.

For  3 weeks I was bed/couch bound which was both frustrating and kind of nice not to HAVE to do anything. I read books, watched episodes of Mad Men, Rake, and Jack Irish, knitted etc. Fortunately for me I have a sewing machine that you can operate without a foot pedal so for the last week  have been perched at the kitchen table with my feet on a chair and cushions sewing my little heart out. The result has been in a week I made 2 blouses, a skirt, and 2 circle skirts for my daughter as well as doing a dress alteration for a friend of mine. I will post pictures of these projects shortly and I will be doing a sew along photo tutorial of how to make a circle skirt in the next couple of weeks.

Well, I must go and put my feet up and get sewing (again 😉 ).



The Great Fabric Stash Challenge – Are You Ready?

Well I have set myself a challenge……the first rule of which shall be:

Thou shalt not purchase fabric for 12 months. 

Since I started sewing again 12 months ago (I had not sewn since high school which has been quite a while 😉 ) I have managed to amass a ridiculous amount of material in that time.

In the beginning the purchases started as normal ie. find a pattern buy the amount of fabric required and proceed to start project. But somehow, we slip from the straightforward project purchase into the “OMG I LOVE that fabric – I don’t know what would make with that, but gee I just can’t leave without getting some” or even worse ” I can’t believe how cheap that fabric is – I would be crazy to pass that such a bargain”. In this case it inevitably leads to you going to the counter and muttering the words “Just give me whats left on the roll!”.

I have recently been bed/couch bound for the last 3 weeks due to operations on both feet and thus had been contemplating my ever growing stash of fabric and wondering where I could store (hide!) it. There is no more room room for tubs under my bed. There is a stack of storage tubs hidden behind one of the chairs in our lounge room……things were getting dire!

So I have resolved to challenge myself to use as much of my fabric as I can within the next 12 months. So I began the task of sorting out fabric and patterns.

1. First I looked at my patterns and worked out how much fabric was required for each and put them into bundles of 1-2 metres, 2-3 metres etc.

2. Then I measured and tagged each piece of fabric. I marked on my kitchen table with painter tape 0.5 and 1 metre so I could sit and measure each piece.

Then I wrote on the painters tape the size of the piece of fabric and stuck it to the fabric.

Some of my lovely Joel Dewberry fabric!

3. Then I organised the pieces into piles of 1 metre or less, 1-2 metres, 2-3 metres, 3-4 metres and 4-5+ metres and put them into storage tubs.

Just a sample of the stash!!

Finally organised – with an awful lot of fabric crammed into them!

So what now?



1. No fabric purchases as described earlier.

2. Lining material, interfacing or notions (buttons, zippers etc) may be purchased.


I plan to use up some of the larger fabric pieces first –  I already have some Vintage Vogue patterns lined up for them….


So this is just a sneak peak at my stash and plans.

Feel free to join my challenge and email me pics and  details of your stash projects so we can make a dent in the stash!