Mpressive Threadz Studio Blog

Sharing my love of sewing


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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Leave a comment

Recess is Over, Sewing School in Session. Sewing Lesson: Flat-fell Seam and Patch Pocket (square corners, unlined)


Hello students.  Four prom dresses, one wedding dress for customer, and a graduation dress for daughter are complete.  Sewing school was in recess until all that sewing was done.  The break is over and the sewing lessons are back.  The next few lessons will be part of a series on pockets.  We will do patch pockets (square and rounded corners), an in-seam pocket, and a side front pocket.  The lessons will also include the flat-fell seam, the welt seam, and the double welt seam.

Here’s the lesson for the flat-fell seam and the unlined patch pocket with square corners.  Don’t forget you can post questions in the comments section.

1 Comment

Sewing and Scoliosis


Sometimes medical conditions are not diagnosed by a doctor, but by a dressmaker. I had a young woman come to me at the last minute to make her a prom dress and it was nice to see her after several years.  She has grown into a lovely young woman, tallish, but most of all with a “straight” spine.  She is one of my special young women; I “diagnosed” her scoliosis while making a dress for her years ago.  There are three more young women in this group.  Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt in pre-teen and teen years.

I encountered the first one almost 20 years ago when she was a teen.  I was making a gown for her that had a fitted bodice.  When I pinned the center back seam closed I noticed it was twisted into an “S” shape.  I unpinned and re-pinned the dress and the twisting would not go away.  I had her mother take a look at it and we noticed one of her shoulders was higher than the other.  Her mother took her to the doctor for an exam and it was determined that she had scoliosis.  Her treatment included a brace. 

A few years later when making a dress for another teen, I knew instantly that she had scoliosis when I pinned her center back seam.  I told her mother that she needed to take her daughter to the doctor to have her spine checked.  I saw them both recently and the mother still remembers that fitting after all these years.  She still can’t believe a dress fitting would discover a problem like that.  Her daughter had to have surgery and a brace. 

The other two young ladies just had to be monitored during their growing years.  The best thing is that their conditions were detected early while they were very young teens.

So, if you are ever making a dress for someone and the center back seam twists, a visit to the doctor may be in order.


Sewing Project # 1: Time to cut and sew your six-gore skirt!

Hello!  It’s time! Time for my enthusiastic newbie sewists to cut and sew their six-gore skirts.  You have practiced and completed your sewing samples, so you know how to finish your seams, sew different types of hems, attach a waistband and put in a centered zipper.  You’ve read the tutorial on fabric grainlines and naps, so you how to lay your pieces on the fabric. 

You have all techniques needed to sew the skirt.  Keep your reference notebook close by.  Looking at your samples while making your skirt will help a great deal.

Any questions or feedback can be posted in the comments section.  If you want, you can post a comment to let me know you have finished your skirt. 

Click here for the cutting and sewing instructions.  Remember, have fun!

Leave a comment

Sewing Lesson # 4: Folded Waistband, Easing, Very Narrow Machine Hem

Hello students.  I hope you are having gorgeous weather. 

Here is another sewing sample.  This will complete the techniques you will need in order to make your six-gore skirt.  Woo Hoo!

I should have the pictures for the six-gore skirt project completed in a couple of day.  Then I can post the instructions for that project.  Woo Hoo!

Click here for sewing lesson # 4.  Don’t forget: You can post your questions in the comments section. 

Have a great sewing day!

Leave a comment

Sewing School: Taking Body Measurement and Understanding Fabric Grainlines and Nap

Last week I used Kira to test-drive the instructions for drafting and fitting a six-gore skirt.  This week I refined the lesson after watching Kira.  I think the instructions are now very clear and easy to follow.  Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures and pictures are very important.  I won’t post the drafting lesson this week as planned. 

However, while refining the lesson I realized that there are other important concepts I must give to you in order for you to move forward, such as taking body measurements and understanding grainlines.  Therefore, I have created two tutorials to cover those topics.  You won’t need all the measurements on the Body Measurement form for drafting the skirt, but you will need these measurements in the future, so take them now.

Click here for the tutorial on taking your body measurements.

Click here for the tutorial on grains, grainlines and naps.


Sewing Lesson #3, Various Zipper Feet, and Project #1

Here is sewing lesson #3, installing a centered zipper.  This is a good start when working with zippers.  It takes a little practice, and it may seem like an intense process, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. 

Some of you who are new to sewing may not know which of the various feet that came with your machine is the zipper foot.  I created a tutorial that should help you identify the zipper foot.  Please read your sewing machine manual so that you know how to change the presser foot on your machine.  And so you know how to manually lower the needle.

Let’s get started.


Project #1

Why are we making the samples? It’s not just to practice techniques.  It’s also to be able to complete the first project.  I thought about a good first project for my beginner sewists and decided a six-gore skirt is a good one.  I want my students to have a go-to six-gore skirt pattern that fits well and can be used over and over.  And I want you to pay almost nothing for the pattern. How can it cost almost nothing?  You will draft the pattern using your own measurements.

What is needed for developing this go-to six-gore skirt pattern?  Remember, I want to keep the cost to a minimum. As you develop your sewing skills, you can invest in additional tools like a French curve.  In the meantime, we will use a few things found around the house and improvise.  Here is what you will need:

  • One sheet of 8 ½” x 11” heavy bond paper (to use to square lines)
  • A pencil
  • A tape measure
  • A yard stick or straight rule
  • Muslin fabric (cheap woven cotton, light colored).  Yardage = 3 times the length of your skirt
  • Thread (any color)
  • Your sewing machine
  • Your scissors
  • Some straight pins
  • A piece of ribbon, elastic or string that you can tie around your waist                      

Next week I will post the drafting lesson, so you have a week to get the supplies.