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The Joy Dress | attaching the straps and facing

Are you ready for some sewing Joy?! The Joy Dress, our latest pattern, will be live at 6pm tonight!

The one place that needs a little attention when making the Joy Dress is the front straps – a little attention to detail here can help to make your garment look really professional and avoid a lumpy step either side of that strap.

It’s the same method used for our Simone Set Camisole but who doesn’t love an extra photo tutorial? 

Ready for some lovely straps? Jolly good! Read on…

  • So at this point in the construction process you will have followed the instructions in your Maker Instruction booklet and your dress body and facing will be made up but still separate.
  • You will have made and turned through your straps.
  • Do make sure you give everything a gentle press before continuing!

ABBREVIATIONS | CB: centre back | CF: centre front | WS: wrong side  | RST: right side together | RS: right side | SA: seam allowance


The dress has a 1cm SA on the neckline and armhole and back edge and 1cm SA on the camisole ‘peak’ to attach the front strap. I’ve drawn in the SA stitchlines with black pen for illustrative purposes. (I’m recycling photos for this tutorial from the Simone Set tutorial so if the seam allowance looks slightly smaller than I’m stating, it’s because in these photos they are 😉 but don’t worry because the construction is exactly the same.)

STRAPS – attach at front |

  • Place the strap to front camisole with RST (right sides together).
  • Align the top of the strap with the top edge of the camisole.
  • Staystitch in SA to hold strap in place.
  • Repeat for the other front strap.
  • Attach the back straps following the in the instruction booklet.


  • Turn body so RIGHT SIDE is facing out and turn the facing so WRONG SIDE is facing out.
  • With RST slide the camisole inside the facing.

  • Align the neckline, armhole and back edges, matching notches and side seams and pin.
  • Make sure that straps are hanging straight down and not caught in the facing edge. The straps will be sitting between the body and the facing.
  • Anchor straps firmly in place by stitching straight across at the ‘peak’ at the notches and through all layers.

On this stitchline, mark the outside edges of the straps with chalk or fabric marker pen, it should be something that won’t leave a permanent mark.

  • Attach the facing to the body at the neckline, armhole and back with a 1cm SA. It’s important that you stitch through the intersect point you marked earlier (at the edge of the strap) to avoid a step on your finished camisole.
  • If necessary, adjust your line of stitching by taking more or less SA. I’ve drawn the original SA in black pen but I’ve adjusted my stitchline to make sure I stitch through the intersect point.
  • Press the stitchline to set the stitches and trim SA at the strap to reduce bulk. Trim the SA at neckline and armhole down to 6mm SA on the curved edges. I prefer to the trim SA, rather than clipping or notching, as it gives a smoother curve. (Also, I rarely grade a SA and only ever bother if it is necessary to reduce bulk for a thicker fabric.)
  • Turn through to RS and check you are happy with the straps!

So why am I being so pedantic about stitching to those intersect points?

Because I want to show you how to make a garment that you can wear and be proud of.  The straps are one area where a little bit of knowledge and extra care will make all the difference to the finished result. Does this mean that it has to be perfect. No. This isn’t couture. The aim is just for you to be happy with it. So let me show you what we are trying to avoid…

  • Stitching too wide and missing the intersect point = “steps” either side of the strap

  • Stitching to the inside of the intersect points = the strap doesn’t turn through to the right side properly and will reduce in the length slightly because it’s caught at the point where you have stitched over it.


To make the facing seam roll to the inside of the camisole the next step is to understitch.

  • Turn camisole to RS and pull the facing out so it is extended away from body.
  • RSU understitch through the facing and SA layers. (You may find it easier to press the SA towards the facing before understitching, but it can be done without).
  • Stitch as far as you can up to the front strap peak area, you will only be able to go so far because of your sewing machine foot.
  • Turn facing to the inside of the camisole.
  • Carefully press along the edge with the seam rolled very slightly to the inside of the camisole so it is not visible on the RS .
  • And finally STITCH IN THE DITCH of the side seam to attach the facing and body together.

PERFECT! Now just tie your straps in a delightful little bow and you’ll be ready for the sunshine!

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The Good Times Skirt | Hong Kong Finish Binding Tutorial

The Good Times Skirt | Hong Kong Finish Binding Tutorial

We have a few different methods of finishing the Centre Front and Centre Back seams for the Good Times Skirt. One of the seam options to use Hong Kong binding. You could also use this method to neaten the bottom of the waistband which gives a very professional look to the inside of your skirt (or any skirt!). This method is often used to finish the inside of jackets and dresses when you want the inside to be as pretty as the outside

Hong Kong binding is a very versatile design detail. You can make it pretty by using a small print…a bit of Liberty print anyone? Make a graphic statement with a contrasting colour or use a tonal fabric for a subtle stripe. You could use up your scraps of loved fabrics, just keep them of similar weight and fibre content for a cohesive look.

BUT WHAT IS IT? | What’s the difference between regular bias binding and Hong Kong Finish binding? With the usual bias binding method, all the edges are enclosed but with Hong Kong Finish the underneath edge of the binding is left raw and unfinished to reduce bulk.

FABRIC CHOICES | Hong Kong binding works best with a stable lightweight fabric, cotton lawn or a similar weight is perfect, but nothing too thick as you don’t want to add bulk to the seam. You can use pre-made bias just press it flat first.

CUTTING | the Good Times Skirt has optional Hong Kong Finish binding pattern pieces included in the ‘print at home’ pattern ready to cut and use to finish the waistband, Centre Front (CF) & Centre Back (CB) seams. If you are using this tutorial to bind a different garment (hello & welcome!) binding strips should be cut 3cm wide x the length needed plus a little extra for good measure. You can of course use ready made bias binding that has been pressed flat.

TOOLS | binding, standard machine presser foot, zipper foot (optional – see the tip below) iron and the usual sewing stuff!

ABBREVIATIONS | WS: wrong side | RST: right side together | RSU: right side up | RS: right side | SA: seam allowance


I prefer to do the binding after closing the seam for accuracy and I’ve found using a zipper foot makes it a smidge easier (and that is is how I’ve written the instructions).

But, the binding can be attached BEFORE you close the centre front or centre back seam. It’s really a personal preference and in fact, it is slightly easier to stitch it first BUT you need to make sure you stitch it the right way for when the seam is reversed. Because the seam is reversed it’s very easy to stitch it the wrong way up – go on, ask me how I know….!!!

If you decide to attach it before you close the seam, be very accurate attaching it and very accurate again when you go back and stitch the CF/CB seams closed with the correct seam allowance. Potentially the extra thickness or width of the binding could mislead you and you could lose or gain a few millimetres per seam. That doesn’t sound a lot but they all add up if you lose a bit here and a bit there, and then your skirt is a bit tight!


Close the seam and press with the SA open. I’ve already bound one side in these photos…

Take one side of the SA and push all other layers out of the way and with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER (RST) align the edge of the binding with the raw edge of the SA.

TIP | At the bottom edge, if you want a neat finish with all the raw edges enclosed, fold over the binding over to the back of the seam. You may not need to bother with this step if the end of your binding/seam will later be hemmed, finished or caught into a facing.

Attach binding with 6mm SA – this will be finished binding width.

TIP | When binding the Centre Front & Centre Back seams you may find this step easier if you use a zipper foot.

Press the binding away from the seam. Note the (optional) neat finish at the bottom edge.

Fold the binding over to the WS of the SA, enclosing the raw edge of the seam. Make sure the binding is snug against the edge of the SA.

Press binding flat, take care not to stretch the seam.

With RSU stitch in the ditch through the binding and the SA only (use the zipper foot again if that works for you). Press again.

The binding will be raw to the underside of the SA and can be trimmed down closer to your stitchline if too wide for your SA.

You can ignore this step if you are just binding a seam but for The Good Times Skirt CF and CB seams, stitch in the ditch a second time, this time through ALL the layers to hold seam allowance flat against skirt. And you’re finished!


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The Strap & Facing Tutorial – the Maria Apron

Oh wow! This photo tutorial has turned into a monster tutorial on how to sew the straps and facing for The Maria Apron!

You will need to have followed the instructions included with the pattern so the side seams are closed and neatened, the pockets attached and the facing is made.

Contrast | I have cut the UNDER STRAPS and the FACING in a contrast fabric so it is easier to see in the photos and that’s a good option to consider if you are making an apron in a heavier denim.

Interfacing | The facings are BLOCK FUSED as described in the pattern. I haven’t put any interfacing in any of the straps for the aprons I’ve made to date, and the pattern doesn’t suggest it, but if you are using a lightweight fabric you can BLOCK FUSE the understraps so they have a little more body and are a little more robust.

Abbreviations |

SA | seam allowance         RS | right side      RSU | right side (of fabric/garment) up      RST | right sides together          CB | centre back

Make the straps | 

You will have cut one pair of TOP STRAPS (has a single notch) and a pair of UNDER STRAPS (has a double notch). The under strap is slightly narrower than the top strap so that the seams roll to the underneath and not show on the front and give a professional finish!For each strap: Place one under strap and one top strap with RST and stitch together along the longest seam with a 6mm SA. (it doesn’t really matter if you stitch the other seam first, but do try to be consistent!)
Press the seam flat and then press SA towards the under strap.

Understitch on the under strap, close to the seam line and through all the seam allowances.With RST close the other seam and press flat.Turn the strap through to RS.

Press the seam so that it rolls towards the under strap. I haven’t topstitched this apron as I’m going to do some hand stitching on it later, but if you wish to topstitch your straps now’s the time!

Attach the facing |

With RST pin the facing to the apron body at the armholes only and stitch the seam closed with a 6mm SA.

Press the SA towards the facing and understitch. Gently press the armhole without stretching.

Place the straps |

This bit can be a smidge confusing, so first of all, we will just roughly pin the straps in the correct place and make sure they are not twisted. After, we will go back and pin them in exactly the right place to sew them.

*a little side note | in the booklet instructions I have illustrated the apron RSU, below I’ve photographed it WSU – it doesn’t really matter which way you do it, it’s just to get those straps placed and laying correctly (it would make sense for you to follow one set of diagrams though!). The key point is to ensure they are not twisted and when they are finally being stitched in place the straps and apron are RST.

Lay your apron body on a flat surface and place the straps as in the photo above. Make sure you use the double notches (marked in pink) to get the correct strap to the correct back.Use one pin to hold each strap in place.

Take the strap on the right and pin to the opposing front position.

Repeat for the 2nd strap. At this point, you can check the straps are not twisted and are crossing over at the back.

Sewing the straps |

The important thing to realise when placing the straps ready for sewing is that you have to think about where the final stitchline will be.

I’ve marked in the SA with chalk as it helps to get the strap in exactly the right place – everything needs to meet at those intersecting SA/STITCHLINE points. Because the straps are on an angle it can be tricky to get your head around making everything line up, but all you have to do is to work to the FINISHED STITCHLINE when placing the straps – if you don’t get that point snuggled right up against the facing that’s when you can get a step or a lump.

Back straps |

 Place the straps to the apron with RST (check your notches are still at the same end).Place the strap right next to the facing – make sure it is at the 6mm stitchline point that you are concentrating your effort on (SEE THE RED ARROW ABOVE!). Pin to hold.

The other end of the strap needs to be placed on the point where the 1.5 cm SA/CB line (marked in white) intersects with the 6mm SA / STITCHLINE on the UNDERSTRAP (the red line). (See the RED ARROW again!)

Tip | Unless you have been super accurate with cutting and sewing so far your notches may not exactly match up – that’s OK. Their main purpose was to get the strap placed the right way around, so if they are a little bit out don’t worry – concentrate on placing the end of your strap to the CB line. (If they are a lot out- go back and check against your pattern as you may have stretched the top edge or taken the wrong SA somewhere.)

Pin or machine baste in the SA to hold.

Wrap the facing around the end of the strap, so the SA and stitching will be to the wrong side of the finished apron.Pin the facing to the body.

Front straps |


Take one of the front straps you had temporarily pinned previously, unpin and take the strap around to the front of the apron, so they will be RST.

Place the front straps and apron body RST, slide the strap underneath the facing and keep the facing out of the way! Nestle the front strap right up to the facing at the 6mm SA/stitchline point and pin or machine baste strap in position.Wrap the facing tightly around the strap. Pin, keeping the SA and stitching on the same side as the facing so it will be to the inside of the finished garment. Repeat for the other front strap.

And pin across the front facing.

Stitch & trim the facings |Use a 6mm SA and stitch across the front facing. Trim at each corner to reduce bulk.

Use a 6mm SA and stitch across the top of the back facings. Close the CB seam with a 1.5cm SA. Trim corners to reduce bulk.

Tip | if you are using a heavier fabric and the corners are really thick, you can gently bash them with a hammer to soften. It’s a good idea to sandwich your garment between a layer or two of spare fabric for a bit of protection first!

Now you just need to turn through to the right side and press.

The facings and understrap should not be visible from the front.

Finish the facing! |

While you’re here I may as well show you a picture of the final facing stage!

Once you have pressed your facing, pin through the SA at the underarm so the body side seam is directly on top of the facing side seam. ‘Stitch in the ditch’ of the seam to stop your facing poking out while it’s being worn. I’ve used a contrasting thread but in a matching colour it will completely sink into the groove of the seam and disappear.

Now you should be ready to hem your apron – we have a handy tutorial here!

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The French Dart | Full Bust Adjustment (FBA)

What is a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA)?

Sewing patterns are generally (and there are exceptions) drafted to accommodate a B cup. All Maven Patterns are drafted with a B cup. Unfair I know, but unfortunately, it’s just not possible for us to produce a pattern that will keep all body shapes happy, as we are all unique and the variations are limitless!

So, great if you are a B cup, but not so much if you are bigger (or smaller). In which case you might need to do a Full Bust Adjustment – FBA (or a Small Bust Adjustment – SBA). An FBA is a pattern alteration that will put a little more room in the bust area to accommodate a fuller bust should you need it, and if we are going to go to the trouble of making our clothes, might as well make them fit as well as we can!

Can’t I just go up a size?

You can, but the pattern will then most likely be too big across your shoulders and your back. What you need is more width and length in your pattern at the right place – to go over and around a fuller cup. The idea of the FBA is to do this without messing about with your armhole and sleeve and keeping a great fit in the shoulder.

How do you know if you need a full bust adjustment?

Your toile may be gaping at the armhole, will have drag lines pointing to the bust, and probably looks a bit ‘strained’ over the bust, your boobage just looks a little squashed in there!

Small Bust Adjustment side note: A SBA is basically the same process, but involves overlapping the pattern to reduce instead of spreading the pattern to increase the bust cup size. If you need a Small Bust Adjustment, there will be too much fabric over the bust area, and your bodice will be too long at the centre front.

*EDITED TO ADD* While the tutorial is illustrated with diagrams for an FBA, I have added an illustration for an SBA at the end of the first section.

Abbreviations |

FBA | full bust adjustment         SBA | small bust adjustment      CF | centre front          BP | bust point/apex

Equipment |

  • Copy of pattern (or the ability to re-print)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Sticky tape
  • Tape measure
  • Paper scissors
  • Pattern paper

Which cup size are you?

Measure yourself while wearing the appropriate underwear. If you are going to wear a padded bra under your dress, go put one on first – it will make a difference to the fit.

Importantly, your cup size for a sewing pattern is not the same as your bra cup size. (I’m a B for a pattern, and wear a D bra)

  • Measure your HIGH bust across your back, under your armpits and above your bust.
  • Then measure your FULL bust, at the fullest part of your bust.
  • Note these measurements and the difference between them.
  • Difference of 1”  (2.5cm) = A cup (SBA)
  • Difference of 2″ (5cm) = B cup
  • Difference of  3” (7.5cm) = C cup (FBA)
  • Difference of 4” (10cm) = D cup  (FBA)
  • Difference of 5” (12.5cm) = DD cup (FBA)

Pick your size |

If you are above a B cup you’ll probably need to do an FBA and should select your size by using your HIGH bust measurement in place of your FULL bust measurement.

This is the most common and popular method, by far, because it will give a better fit in the shoulders and neck area, then you just do a Full Bust Adjustment and alter for a fuller bust. If, on the size chart, you have a size 16 full bust, but a high bust measurement of a size 12, chances are the shoulders of a size 16 pattern will be completely out of proportion for you! You may still need to adjust or blend between sizes for hips and waist.

How much to add?

It’s a bit of chicken and egg situation. There is no one way to do this alteration (or any alteration). It can be a little test and see, and a lot of getting to know your OWN body and how you like a garment to fit on you. Take these measurements as a guide. If you start googling this, you’ll find a lot of different advice and it’s not that any of it will be wrong – just different ways work for different bodies, garments and preferences. You just have to start somewhere to find what works for you! You’ll need to toile and test and tweak your alteration, maybe more than once. A toile is going to be your best friend – the fabric doesn’t lie! Also, consider the look of the garment, a looser fitting garment might not need as much adding as a very fitted garment. Or you might just decide you want more/less ease and adjust your FBA accordingly.

I’ve got 2 options listed below: Either toile and slash open to give an idea, or a bit of Maths. It is very much trial and error the first couple of times until you know what works for you.TOILE: Make a quick toile (just the body, don’t bother with sleeves, collar etc). Try it on and mark your bust point. Cut a cross in the fabric at your Bust Point / Apex, let it spread open and then measure how much extra you need. For an SBA, instead of slashing, pin the excess out of the bust. 

I like this slash and spread and see what you need method. Pay attention to the neck and shoulders of your toile, and see if they fit or if a size smaller/bigger would look better on you.

MATHS OPTION: Take your FULL bust measurement and minus your HIGH bust measurement = TOTAL FBA amount to add. DIVIDE TOTAL by 2 = the actual amount to be added to the pattern (Remember when you are adjusting the pattern you are working with HALF a body front so you’ll need to divide the total amount of extra needed by 2 before adding to your pattern).

Find the Bust Point (also called the APEX) |Find the Bust Point (also called the APEX) | The Bust Point (BP) or Apex is the most prominent point of your boob – usually the nipple. Bust darts point towards the BP but the dart tip is set back so not to create a pointy end. B cup patterns usually have the dart tip set back 1″ (2.5cm) from the BP, but you can adjust this to suit you.

  • Using a copy of your front pattern, mark the seam allowances so you know where the stitch line is. 
  • Draw a line through the centre of the bust dart, and extend it 1” (2.5cm) beyond the dart tip. That is the bust point (BP) of the pattern.

I’m inclined to say don’t worry too much about marking your own BP on the pattern yet because, as you can see from the picture above, the BP is going to move and drop anyway during your alteration. The FBA will make the dart drop around ¼” to ½” (6mm – 12mm) and if it’s too high we can adjust this later. If you are very low busted (the dart needs to be lower more than 1.5” / 3.8cm), you can lower the dart a little now, and then go back and get it perfect later. You’re going to need a toile to check the final position when you’ve completed the FBA. Draw the Lines |

  • LINE 1: Draw a line from the BUST POINT (BP) right down to the hem, parallel with the CENTRE FRONT LINE. Draw a line from the BP to a point about a ⅓ of the way along the armhole.
  • LINE 2: Draw a line through the centre of the dart to the BP.
  • LINE 3: Draw at a right angle from CF to intersect with LINE 1 (not crucial where).

Cut the Lines | 

  • Cut along LINE 1. Start at the hem and cut towards the armhole. Cut UP TO stitch line but NOT through it. Cut from OUTSIDE of the pattern up to the same point on the armhole stitch line, leaving a 3mm hinge of paper.
  • *If you hinge your armhole from the outside edge of the pattern instead of the stitch line, your armhole increases in length and then your sleeve won’t fit.
  •  Cut along LINE 2 through the centre of the bust dart towards the BP, leaving a hinge at BP.
  •  Mark sections A, B, C & D as in the diagram.

Slash & spread |

Place some paper behind your pattern pieces. Draw a CF line on your paper (shown in red). Anchor down section A and D with tape or pins (bear in mind, D will have to move again), lining up the pattern CF with the one you just drew. Draw a couple of lines to show the amount being added (the orange lines), keep them parallel with CF.

Open LINE 1 out the amount you need to add for your FBA, pivoting the pattern from the hinges at the armhole and BP. Keep SECTION C parallel the with CF. Let front section slide upwards and allow the bust dart to open wider to keep pattern flat.

Note how the hem is staggered and CF is now too short. Tape section A, B & C down. 

Cut open line 3, no need to leave a hinge this time. Keep CF in line and slide section D down so the hem is level again and tape.

SBA – Slash & overlap |

If you are doing an SBA you will be overlapping your pattern pieces rather than spreading them to decrease the width and length of the pattern piece.

Place some paper behind your pattern pieces. Draw a CF line on your paper (shown in red). Anchor down section A and D with tape or pins (bear in mind, D will have to move again), lining up the pattern CF with the one you just drew. Draw a line to show the amount being removed (the orange line), keep them parallel with CF.

Slide pattern piece C across to the orange line, pivoting the pattern from the hinges at the armhole and BP. Keep SECTION C parallel the with CF. Let front section slide upwards and allow the bust dart to close and become smaller to keep pattern flat.

Note how the hem is staggered and CF is now too long. Tape section A, B & C down. 

Cut open line 3, no need to leave a hinge this time. Keep CF in line and slide section D UP so the hem is level again and tape.

Redraw bust dart | Follow the original seam allowances and extend them to redraw the dart. Remember, the tip of a bust dart is usually 1” (2.5cm) from the BP, but this can change depending on you – it could be ½” (1.2cm) if you are small-busted and up to 3” (7.5cm) if you have a fuller bust.

A French Dart note |  This french dart has a slight curve on the seam as your body is round and not straight! The bottom seam stretches slightly onto the top seam, to help with the fit.

Toile | Now do a quick toile to check your alteration and the position of the bust dart in relation to your BP/apex. The most likely alteration now is you need to lower the dart or change the length. You can pin the paper pattern together and try it on to check the dart position first but keep in mind paper doesn’t behave the same as fabric and bust darts tend to drop a little more once they are in cloth. Not sure how to alter the dart?… The Lower a Bust Dart Tutorial will help with that!

The ‘Y’ Bust Dart Alteration| 

If you are adding more than 1.5” to half your pattern (3” TOTAL) this will help spread the joy. It helps because the bust dart doesn’t get as large, the disadvantage is that it does add more fullness above the chest, which won’t work for everyone. But the alternative leaves you with a very large bust dart and an extremely severe shape to your armhole, you can see a comparison of the methods at the end of the tutorial. The bonus is you can start to do the above FBA and then change your mind and do this one instead. Again toile to test for your body shape! Draw and Cut the Lines |

The method is exactly the same as before, but we draw one extra line (LINE 4) going from the BP up to hinge at the centre of the shoulder seam.

Cut along LINE 4 leaving a hinge at the shoulder seam, creating a new section called A2.

Draw the (orange) parallel lines in again the amount you need to add to your pattern (I’ve done 2″/5cm) and draw a line at half the amount too.

Place some paper behind your pattern piece. Anchor down section A with tape or pins. Pivot section A2 from the shoulder hinge and spread open half the amount you need to add. Tape A2 to hold. Keep LINE 1 parallel with each other and the CF, slide SECTIONS B & C, pivoting at the hinges, outwards and upwards to add in the full FBA amount, allowing the bust dart to open wider to keep pattern flat. Tape in place. 

Cut LINE 3 and slide SECTION D downward so the hem is level again. 

Tape everything down and redraw the bust dart and shoulder seam and smooth the armhole curve.

Toile to check your alteration and lower the dart or move the dart tip if necessary (How Lower a Bust Dart Tutorial)

Comparing the ‘Y’ Bust alteration|


For this example, I’ve added an extra 2″ (4″ total). You will get a slightly different result with each differing amount added.

On the left is with the ‘Y’ dart and on the right is without. You can see how large the bust dart on the right has become without using the ‘Y’ dart method – potentially that could be one pointy dart. But the real worry is that armhole shape, it’s just too severe to be a happy bunny later. Again take the time to toile and see what works for you, but I’m recommending giving the ‘Y’ dart method a try if you are adding over 1½” (3.8cm).