Mpressive Threadz Studio Blog

Sharing my love of sewing


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How to Make Shoulder Pads for a Jacket

I no longer buy pre-made shoulder pads.  The last pair I brought years ago consisted of expensive small wads that were not rounded like a shoulder.  When I make a jacket, I make a pair of shoulder pads using the jacket’s front and back pattern pieces.  I buy yards of fusible fleece when it’s on sale and use remnants of interfacing and cotton, so my pads are not expensive.  Customizing pads to accommodate fitting problems is easy.  A client has one shoulder that is higher than the other, so I make the left shoulder pad with 4 layers of fleece and the right shoulder pad with 8 layers of fleece, giving her a balanced appearance.

It takes me about 15 minutes to make a pair of shoulder pads.  Here’s a slideshow demonstration.

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Creative Sewing – Chapter 6

I have a new battery charger. Yippee! 

I am working on the evening gown.  Today I applied the trim to the bodice, attached the bodice lining and the skirt.  I am very pleased with the look.  I will be finished soon since all that remains is installing the zipper and skirt lining and finishing the hem.  This project has been fun and I need to keep the fun going, so I need to start thinking about the next project. 

A quick note about attaching the trim, please take a few minutes to hand baste it in place.  It takes less time than picking out machine stitches.   I baste the trim in place and then do a row of machine basting using a long machine stitch. I remove the hand basting and continue with the garment construction without worrying about the trim shifting.  It may seem like extra work, but it’s worth the results.


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Creative Sewing – Chapter 5

In a perfect world this post would have all the shots of creating the trim and attaching it.  But this is not a perfect world and I try not to sweat the small stuff.  The camera battery died in the midst of me taking pictures as I create the trim for the evening gown.  The battery charger has been missing in action for a couple of months.  My clutter-phobic husband placed it somewhere out of sight and since he’s never been known for having a strong memory, can’t remember where.  Yesterday, I broke down and ordered a replacement charger.  In the meantime I’ll post the pictures I do have. Once I have a fully charged camera battery, I’ll take the rest of the picture and post them.

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Creative Sewing – Chapter 4

Happy New Year!  Wishing everyone a great year of sewing!

I’ve spent the holidays enjoying family and friends and doing very little sewing.  One weekend I intended to sew the entire weekend. HA! That’s a joke.  Saturday afternoon a girlfriend called to say she was leaving work soon and invited a few other female friends over to just hangout.  Forget about sewing; I’m in my car, driving for an hour to spend a relaxing Saturday evening with friends, old and new, eating pizza and wings, drinking PD eggnog, dancing various slides and listening to some serious singing from gospel to rap, and sharing life stories.  Sunday a niece called to say she was at my sister-in-law’s house and they were about to go out to eat.  Did I want to join them?  Forget about sewing; I’m in my car, driving for 30 minutes to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon with them, eating out, sharing life stories, and doing a little shopping.  The following weekend was devoted to our annual dinner before Christmas.  Forget sewing; this meant baking and cooking on Saturday, and a Sunday of dining, drinking, talking and laughing until midnight.  I did not try to sew the reminder of the year and I did not care.  My holidays were relaxing!

Today, I fired up the sewing machine.  I added another shaped godet to the center of the skirt back.  I did not like the look of the one godet, so I added another.  I smile at the results, which means I like the look.  I also experimented with creating a trim for the dress.  After avoiding a disaster with my Brother machine, which is why I am not 100% enamored of electronic machines with drop-in bobbins, I stitched a sample of the trim.  I smile at the results; again I’m liking the look.

I didn’t feel like getting out the better camera, so I took quick pictures using my cell phone.  I will take better shots later, but I think for now you’ll have a general idea of the trim and the godets.

Here are directions for creating the trim:

  • Cut bias strip the length needed (width = twice your seam allowance plus 1”).  Cut another strip same length and width.
  • Fold one bias strip in half.
  • Set machine to shell tuck stitch (or blindstitch or zigzag stitch).  Set tension of machine so that the bobbin  thread is pulling more than the upper thread. 
  • Stitch along folded edge so that needle hits outside the fold when it zigzags.
  • Place right side of stitched trim to right side of other bias strip, lining up cut edges.  Stitch just inside of straight stitch of shell tuck stitch or blindstitch.  When using a zigzag stitch, you’ll stitch where the needle enters the fabric away from the fold.
  • Fold down bias strip for piping, wrong sides together.
  • Trim two inner layers close to stitching.
  • Stitch close to bulge of trimmed layers, encasing the trim edges, forming piping. 

Click on the diagram to see a full-size version of the trim construction.

I really like the look of the trim, which combined ideas from my sewing machine manual and some of my sewing books.  It’s meant to be inserted in a seam just as you would a piping.  I can envision it with contrasting piping.  I definitely want to use this technique again on another garment.  I hope it inspires you.


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Creative Sewing – Chapter 3

Creative sewing also means creative patternmaking.  One of my favorite methods for making a flare skirt is using a paper rectangle to slash and spread on the fabric.  The width of the rectangle for the front skirt piece is 1/2 the width of the front waist plus side seam allowance.  The length of the rectangle is the skirt length plus waist seam allowance and hem allowance.  The fabric is folded in half.  The rectangle is slashed, but not all the way through, into four equal pieces.  I spread the strips at the hem to the width of the fabric.  You are looking at the front skirt piece in the picture with the center front on the fold of the fabric. The back skirt piece is made the same as the front piece except you use 1/2 the width of the back waist plus side and center back seam allowances.  The back skirt piece is cut with the center back at the selvage since there will be a seam at the center back.  The back for this dress will have a flared inset, which is pie shaped piece in the third picture. Needless to say, the “pattern” pieces are for use one time.


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Creative Sewing – Chapter 2

bodice in progress

I selected the fabric for the bodice.  I’m using red brocade.  I used this fabric previously for the homecoming dress for my daughter Y.  It’s really a rich looking fabric.  So far I’ve cut and stitched the bodice pieces and machine basted the bodice to the inner foundation.

I decided to use a black fabric, which I can best describe as a medium-weight peau de soie or a delustered satin, for the skirt.  It has a great drape when handling it.  I am still trying to determine how I will embellish the dress.

In the meantime, I am trying a little creative baking.  I have a buttermilk pie in the oven.  This is the first time I’ve tried this recipe, so I hope my family likes it.  Buttermilk in a pie just sounded intriguing to me.


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Creative Sewing – Chapter 1

inner dress foundation

rigilene boning

I don’t know what the finished dress will look like, but the inside workings look like this.  This is the foundation of the dress, which will be between the dress fabric and the lining.  Right now I think the dress will be strapless.   This foundation is made of interfacing, specifically a medium-weight woven non-fusible interfacing sandwiched between fusible weft interfacing.  I block fused the interfacings first, then cut the bodice pieces from the interfacing.  The seams are lapped seams, stitched using a zigzag stitch, and then trimmed.  However, I left the under layer at the side seams the full width of the seam allowance.  This will allow the dress to be altered to a larger size. The seam allowances at the foundation’s center back, upper edge and waist were cut away and the extensions that are cut from organza will be caught in the seams of the dress during constructions.  I used 1/2″ wide rigilene boning to support the bodice.

Time to decide on fabrics.