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How to Stitch in the Ditch Tutorial

The French Dart Shift pattern has a lovely roll collar that needs to be finished at the neckline so it is neat and secure to the inside of the garment. I could have finished the neckline with a facing, but it would have annoyed me flapping about, so instead it’s held in place by a row of machine stitching called ‘Stitch in the Ditch’.

I’ve always called this technique ‘Sink Stitching’, but in an incredibly unscientific poll on Instagram consisting of at least 4 comments, ‘Stitch in the Ditch’ came out top as the preferred name – so I’ll try to remember to stick with that for this ‘How to Stitch in the Ditch’ Tutorial.

I’ve touched on the ‘Stitch in the Ditch’ technique before in the binding tutorial. It’s a very handy little process that can be used to stitch down waistbands and facings, as well as bindings, and often used in quilting too. It’s perfect when you don’t want any topstitching to show from the front of your garment. I’ve based this tutorial as if you are stitching the collar on the French Dart Shift so you have a folded edge to cover your seam with, but you could just stitch in the ditch at side seams to hold down a waist facing, or in a shoulder seam to hold a neck facing, or just overlock the bottom of a waistband and stitch in the ditch through the waist seam to secure in place. 


DENIM = garment, PRINT = collar ( *could be binding, waistband, facing…you get the idea…)



Press all the seam allowances AWAY from garment. Cover the machine stitching by about 2mm with edge of collar (*waistband, binding, facing…) and tack to hold in place.

DSC_03502. Now you get to stitch in the ditch…

With RIGHT SIDE of garment facing you, line up your machine needle with the groove (the ditch) of the seam and stitch right IN that groove. That’s it, easy peasy! It’s all in the prep, as long as you stitch IN the groove and to the right of your tacking thread the back will be caught and your stitches will be virtually invisible as they will ‘settle’ into the groove of the seam.


3. Stating the obvious here: I’ve stitched in red, but stitch in the same colour as your main fabric even if you are using a contrasting topstitching colour so those stitches do actually sink in to the groove and disappear.

Also it doesn’t look SO great if your needle jumps out of the groove! I did that on purpose, just to show you – honestly, the sacrifices I make 😉


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The Maria Wrap Apron Reversible Tutorial

How to Make a Reversible Maria Apron

I’ve seen some lovely reversible  Maria Wrap Aprons appearing by way of the growing band of happy #mavenmakers. I’m so delighted to see your makes and you’re a very creative bunch!

I’ve had many-a-request for a tutorial of how to make a reversible version. It’s not too complicated, and as with most things there is always more than one way to do it, but this is the method I found the easiest.  Do feel free to share your process…I’m all about an easy make!

Maven Patterns: The Maria Wrap Apron reversible tutorial

The Maria Wrap Apron Reversible Tutorial

Arm yourself with the original instructions – to keep this tutorial shorter you’ll need to refer back to them for the full maker instructions.

Be sure to use the seam allowances as stated in the instructions.

CUTTING OUT: we are making Version A of The Maria Apron in this tutorial.

  • Use the FRONT (pattern piece 1)
  • BACK (pattern piece 2),
  • POCKET (pattern piece 7) 
  • TOP STRAP PATTERN (pattern piece 3)
  • DO NOT cut understraps or facings.

CUT 1 set for body A in fabric choice 1 (I’ve used a striped ticking from Ditto fabrics)

Cut 1 set for body B in fabric choice 2 (ideally equal in weight and density to fabric A, so one fabric doesn’t show through the other when reversed.)

*Please forgive my fabric choice 2…I’m currently working on a ‘use fabric from the stash policy only’ or I end up wasting days looking for the ‘perfect’ cloth. So my reversible apron is less reversible, more lined and without pockets in calico.

FACINGS: do not cut in fabric, ONLY cut 1 set in fusible interfacing (I made mine 2cm narrower than the pattern)

UNDERSTITCHING: in the instructions when it tells you to understitch, DON’T – doesn’t apply to a reversible one.

OVERLOCKING/NEATENING OF SEAMS:  They’ll all be enclosed between the two layers so don’t bother. YAY!

Don’t forget to press as you go, that’s my very TOPPIEST TIP for a professional looking garment.

Test your topstitching tension, it’s going to need to look good on both sides of your garment.


Maven Patterns: The Maria Wrap Apron reversible tutorial

Fuse the interfacing onto the wrong side of one of your fabrics, doesn’t matter which one, but I’d advise doing a little test first to make sure it doesn’t show through on your fabric (it really showed through on my calico).

Follow the instructions and make up bodies A + B of the Aprons, complete with pockets. Don’t overlock or neaten the seams, they’ll all be enclosed so as I said before, there is no point!


Maven Patterns: The Maria Wrap Apron reversible tutorial

Make up the straps (one A + one B for each strap) and turn through. This is where we deviate from the instructions…don’t understitch the straps. Normally you’d want those seams to sit to the underside of your strap (that’s why there is an understrap pattern, it’s slightly smaller so the seams roll to the underneath) but as we are doing a reversible one it needs to look good from both sides, so our seam is now going to sit exactly on the side, neither to the front OR the back. Practise on your straps – you’ve got to do the same on the armhole in a minute. Topstitch your straps, neatly does it, remember it’s going to show on both sides.


Maven Patterns: The Maria Wrap Apron reversible tutorial

Place body A + body B with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER (RST), use a 6mm seam allowance and stitch together at the armholes only. Turn back to the right side, so the seam allowance is enclosed and press.


Follow the instructions and attach the straps to body A. Just check they’re correct before you continue, you’ll thank me if you’ve got it wrong. All good? Great, let’s carry on then…


Maven Patterns: The Maria Wrap Apron reversible tutorial

With RST pin and then stitch A + B together. Cut off the bulk in the corners (as described in the instructions), turn back to the right side and press neckline flat.


Maven Patterns: The Maria Wrap Apron reversible tutorial

With RST again, pin the backs together at the top edges (where the straps are placed) and then continue to pin down the back and all around the hem, make sure you line up the side seams.

Here’s the (not-so) secret to bagging out a fully lined/reversible garment, leave an opening to turn everything through – you are literally going to pull the whole apron through it after stitching to turn it to the right side. If you are just lining a garment (rather than making it reversible) I’d suggest leaving an opening on the side seam as it won’t show at all when you are wearing it. But, as this is reversible and has pockets that sit over the side seam, I’ve gone with leaving an opening on the back seam. It’s a personal choice thing…I could have just as easily left an opening at the hem.

Machine stitch A + B together, use the seam allowances stated in the instructions. Don’t forget to leave the opening on one side – mine is about 12cm long. Press your seam.


Maven Patterns: The Maria Wrap Apron reversible tutorialTrim away the excess seam allowance at the hem and around the curve so it will lie flat when turned through to the right side.

Turn the apron to the right side by pulling it through the opening. Now take your time and press the seam where you have joined A + B together, again you want that seam to sit exactly on the side so it neither favours A or B.


Maven Patterns: The Maria Wrap Apron reversible tutorial

Close the opening with a slip stitch, you shouldn’t be able to see your stitching when you’ve finished. Now you can topstitch around your Apron (all in the instructions). Personally, I left that stage off…

A: because I liked the look of my apron without it and

B: because my machine was in a bad mood, and I hate ropey topstitching so quit while I was ahead.

So that’s it, a fully reversible (or just fully lined) apron!

Off you go then….get stitching!


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The How to Measure a Curve 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! So on the off chance that someone, somewhere, finds this useful…HOW TO MEASURE A CURVE ON A SEWING PATTERN_ MAVEN PATTERNS

There are various gadgets 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 a tape measure, pencil and 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: First 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

Step 2: Next grab your tape measure, and 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 and measure your sleeve head, remembering it will be bigger than the armhole as it should have some ease in it.

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 measuring),

Mrs M x


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The How to Gather Fabric Tutorial



I’ve always avoided sewing garments that had lots of gathering, it seemed like such a lot of work. But with my next pattern release, The Wendy Artisan Smock, I couldn’t really escape it as the whole neckline is gathered and then bound – talk about facing your sewing demons – I’ve now made so many samples, that gathering necklines has actually become quite therapeutic!

So anyway, there is always more than one way to stitch anything, but this is my straightforward method for how to gather fabric using a sewing machine.

Maven Patterns - gathering tutorial

Set your stitch length to the LONGEST possible stitch length for your machine.

You need to stitch 2 rows in the seam allowance, parallel to each other, the first about 3mm from the edge of the fabric. These MUST NOT CROSS each other! Leave long ends to the threads.

Maven Patterns - gathering tutorial

In the case of The Wendy Smock, we’re gathering a neckline that is to be finished with binding, so it’s quite a long run of gathering. I found the best way to manage this was to work in sections (front, back and shoulders), stopping and the restarting at each seam. If your run of gathering is too long, the threads break – trust me, that can be just a little bit annoying.

Pull up the two long threads that are facing you (ignore the ones at the back) and gently slide the fabric along until gathers form, you can work from both ends.

Maven Patterns - gathering tutorial Continue pulling up the threads until your fabric is gathered to the correct measurement, then wrap the excess fabric temporarily around a pin to hold. Continue along the neckline until it’s all gathered.

Maven Patterns - gathering tutorial

Double check your gathering is pulled up to the correct measurements, try your Wendy Smock Top on and see if it sits right on you. More gathers will make a smaller neckline and less will make a wider neckline, remember to make a note of the new measurements if you change them! When you are happy tie the threads securely together to fix them – you could stitch them in place by hand if you prefer, especially if you are not finishing your garment now.
Maven Patterns - gathering tutorial Then all you need to do is make sure all your gathering is spread evenly before you finish your neckline. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to set your machine BACK to normal stitch length, it’s not like I’d forget to do something like that…

Happy sewing!

Mrs M x