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How to Measure a Curve on a Sewing Pattern

Learn How to measure the curve of a sewing Pattern with this free sewing tutorial

Now, this might seem a little obvious to everyone, I’ve hesitated even posting and calling it a tutorial. But following conversations with my youngest daughter (15, studying textiles at school) and a friend of mine (long time sew-er), neither of them knew this shortcut – and to be honest I only discovered it when I was working after 4 years of studying fashion! It’s the easiest and most straightforward way I know to measure necklines, measure a sleeve head, armholes (or the armsyce if you want the industry term – I’m popping it in here for the benefit of Sir Google).

So on the off chance that someone, somewhere, needs to quickly measure the curve on a sewing pattern …

HOW TO MEASURE A CURVE

There are various gadgets and measurement tools around to measure curves on sewing patterns – flexible rulers and wheely things, and if they work for you, excellent! The great thing about sewing is there is always more than one way to solve a problem.

But, you see I’m not a great one for gadgets, so for this method, you’ll only need the basic pattern making tools – a tape measure, a pencil and a ruler.

Why would I need to measure a curve on a sewing pattern?

If you need to alter a pattern to fit you, you may find you need to adjust the armhole or neckline and then you are going to need to make sure the collar or sleeve fits again. For that, some pretty accurate measuring will be needed!

Here’s the method, I’m going to pretend you’re measuring an armhole.

How to measure a curve tutorial: Maven Patterns

Step 1:  

Before you measure the curve, you will need to use your ruler and mark the correct seam allowance accurately on your paper pattern in pencil. This represents your stitch line when you stitch your garment together. It’s this line, not the outside edge of your pattern that needs to be the same measurement.

How to measure a curve tutorial: Maven Patterns

You don’t need any Fancy Curve Measurement Tools …

Step 2:

Next grab your tape measure. Here’s the trick. Stand it up on its SIDE and walk it EXACTLY along your pencil line to measure that entire length of armhole – EASY! Make a note of the measurement, I always write them straight on the pattern piece.

  • Now use the same method to measure the curve of your sleeve head. Remember it will be bigger than the armhole as it should have some ease in it.
  • You can see here that I don’t include the side seam allowances when I measure. As a general rule when measuring your pattern the trick is to just be consistent. It’s really easy to get confused and include the seam allowance in the armhole and then not on the sleeve head or sleeve cap. And then it takes a while to work out why the pattern pieces don’t fit together!
  • When I’m measuring a sleeve head to check it fits into the armhole I don’t measure the whole sleeve head in one go.
  • I’ll either measure from the underarm seam to the top of the sleeve head, where it would align with the shoulder seam. And then the other half of the sleeve head.
  • Or if I want to check the position of the notches I’ll draw a line from each notch to intersect the seam line. Then I’ll actually measure in-between each notch so I can check the notches are all in the right place and will match up at the same time as checking the sleeve will fit.

That’s it! It can take a little practice to do it accurately, but who doesn’t love a low (no!) tech solution to a problem?

Happy stitching and curve measuring,

Mrs M x

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Make a Peg Bag with our free sewing pattern!

Learn How to make a marvellous peg bag with our free PDF sewing pattern. It’s super easy, is very handy and makes a lovey gift!

Have you enjoyed our Free Eye Mask Pattern? Oh, you have? Jolly good! Well today I’m sharing my peg bag pattern. You see I like pretty things but they do have to be practical. Things you touch and use everyday should not be ugly or annoying. I really took that William Morris quote to heart.

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

William Morris

And who doesn’t like their washing drying outside while wafting in the gentle breeze of a summers day? So, it’s very handy that I’m sharing this with you in December. Now, I know not everyone can or wants to hang their washing out to dry, no judgement here, so this just may not be the free sewing pattern of your dreams but it is still quite handy for storage of those odd bits and pieces.

The Peg Bags actually turned out to be a really popular thing as a gift. The handle is big enough to hang over your arm and grab a peg with ease and the popper means you can actually hang it off the washing line for full hands-free freedom.

It’s also a great little skill builder and the perfect project if you are new to sewing and just want to get used to sewing on your machine without having to worry about fitting a garment. The pattern makes a lined/reversible bag, but you could make it unlined by cutting a single layer and just binding the raw edges to finish. And to be very Eco-conscious you could use up scraps of fabric by adding seams (don’t forget to add the seam allowance!) to the pattern so you can use up those smaller bits of fabric. And feel free to embellish your peg bag with embroidery or appliqué to make a really lovely personalised gift.

THE PEG BAG - free sewing pattern. Maven Patterns

How to Make a Peg Bag with our Free Sewing Pattern


Tools

  • The Peg Bag PDF pattern – download your free sewing pattern here. It prints on either A4 or US letter paper and there are only 4 pages. You can find the tile layout diagram and test square on page 1 of the pattern. See our Printing Tutorial here.
  • You will need all the usual sewing stuff…a sewing machine, iron, decent scissors, pins, tape measure etc.

Suitable fabrics

MAIN FABRIC Any stable woven fabric will be fine, so have a good rummage through your stash but keep in mind it will need to be sturdy enough to hold its shape reasonably well. I’d suggest Denim, linen, quilting cotton, those kinds of fabric.

LINING/INNER FABRIC you could use the same as your outer fabric or if you have quite a heavy main fabric balance it with a lighter weight contrast fabric. I’m imagining a denim outer with a cotton lawn contrast lining.

Fabric Requirements & Haberdashery

MAIN FABRIC (for outer shell): 1 piece x 50cm deep x 60cm wide (20″ x 24″) 

CONTRAST FABRIC (for lining/inner shell): 1 piece x 50cm deep x 60cm wide (20″ x 24″) 

IRON ON INTERFACING: 1 piece x 28cm deep x 60cm wide (11″ x 24″) 

LARGE PRESS STUD – mine is 2cm (3/4″) but use what you have or you could do a button and buttonhole

MATCHING SEWING THREAD – I’ve used a contrast so it shows in the photos

Abbreviations

RST: right side together / RS: right side / WS: wrong side / WSU: wrong side up / SA: seam allowance

01. Prepare your pattern.

Tape your pattern together and cut your pattern out using the black line. The grey line is the stitch line.

You will need to join the interfacing pattern together.

02. Cut

PATTERN A – Cut 2 in main fabric for the outer shell

PATTERN A – Cut 2 in contrast fabric for the inner shell/lining

PATTERN B – Cut 2 in INTERFACING

TIP: At each notch remember to make a small snip in the seam allowance (SA)

03. Apply the interfacing

CONTRAST FABRIC – place interfacing to wrong side (WS) and iron into place to reinforce handle and top edge

04. Time to sew!

Press as you go! I can’t stress this enough for any sewing project but taking the time to press anything you stitch will give you a much better result.

MAIN FABRIC/outer shell – place with Right Sides Together (RST) and stitch with 1cm seam allowance (SA) around the bucket. Press the seam.

Trim the SA down to 6mm (1/4″) at the curve so it will lay flat when turned to RS.

More to Sew …


05.

CONTRAST FABRIC/inner shell – place with Right Sides Together (RST) and stitch with 1cm SA around the bucket STOPPING at the notches to leave an opening in the base. Press the seam.

Trim the SA down to 6mm (1/4″) at the curve so it will lay flat when turned to RS.

06.

Turn the shells through to RS and press seam.

07. JOIN INNER & OUTER SHELLS TOGETHER

Turn the inner shell inside out so WS is facing you.

Slide the outer shell inside the inner shell so RST, aligning the raw edges, notches and at the seams.

Stitch with a 6mm SA. Press the stitch line.

TIP: If you’ve taken a slightly bigger seam allowance on the curve of the strap or have bulky fabric trim the SA down to a scant 6mm (1/4″) at the curves so it will lay flat.

08.

Turn through to Right Side (RS) by pulling the outer shell out through the hole left at the base of the inner shell.

The straps can be a bit fiddly to turn through but you can use a chopstick or something similar to help poke them to the RS.

09.

If you are making a reversible bag the seam should sit exactly on the side so it neither favours the inner or outer shell. If you are making it as a lined bag roll the inner shell lining slightly to the inside of the bag.

Press the seam.

I’d normally do an understitch to help hold the lining but it’s quite fiddly so I’m happy to skip it on this occasion and just give the seam a good press.

If your fabric doesn’t press well, giving you a nice sharp edge, or doesn’t stay flat, consider edgestitching/topstitching around the opening and handles.

10.

Close the opening in the base of the inner shell with a slipstitch.

free sewing pattern - attach a popper

11. Stitch the press stud securely in place. Or use a button and buttonhole if you prefer.

A quick final press and you’ve finished!

You’re going to make someone very happy with your lovely handmade peg bag!

I really hope you’ve enjoyed making your peg bag. Have you seen our other free sewing pattern – The Eye Mask PDF Pattern? Take a look HERE.

shop Maven sewing Pattern CTA

More to Sew …


free sewing pattern - free peg bag pattern
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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

ATTACH THE FRONT STRAPS

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.

ATTACH THE FACING

  • 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.

| UNDERSTITCH |

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 .
  • You can find our UNDERSTITCHING TUTORIAL HERE
  • 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

A TIP BEFORE YOU START SEWING|

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!

SEW |

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!