Topstitching Jeans

In preparation for an amazing pattern release later this week, I thought I’d share a quick video I made for how I tackled the topstitching over a bulky seam. 

I use regular thread, and a straight stretch stitch for strength… well, it also looks pretty good too! But going over a bulky seam is a bit of a nightmare if those stitches don’t come out straight, so how do you do it?

You could just a piece of folded fabric, or maybe some thick folded card – they’d both give the same result. But I’m using the button shank plate (which I’ve also seen called a Jean-a-ma-jig) that I got as a special deal from the shop when I bought my machine.. Normally the button shank plate is £8, but I’ve seen Jean-a-ma-jigs for about half that, so it’s worth looking round for a good price!

Ok, so how do you use it?

Sew as normal just to the point where the foot starts to lift at the front, as it tries to climb over the bulky seam.

For my button shank plate, there’s a thick side and a slightly tapered side (on the right in this photo). With the needle down, lift the foot, and gently push the tapered side under the foot at the back. Lower the foot again….

….it should now look like this! Slowly sew – you may need to use the hand wheel, depending on your machine and the thickness of your fabric!
Once the machine has stitched past the bulk, you can remove the button shank plate from the back.

Because that probably sounds way more complicated than it actually is, here’s a quick video of the button shank plate in action. I hold it in place to start with simply because I’m using a triple straight stretch stitch – that goes backwards on every third stitch, and I wanted to make sure my needle didn’t hit the plastic plate!

And there you have it – a little tip to help get topstitching to work over those bulky jeans seams!

Glowing Dragons – finished!

Picking another random item from my UFO pile, these glowing dragon Zen Pants* are my latest finished item! 

I made exactly the same mistake I did with my Chameleon Zen Pants* and ended up with a slightly wavy waistband yet again. I really need to figure out the best length of elastic to use, so I don’t make that mistake again!

But that mistake and the mess of the back pockets aside, these Zen trousers didn’t come out too terribly. They are really comfy, and hopefully the fabric will have a great glow when it’s dark!

I did get a photo of the dragons glowing, although as yet I’ve not been able to get a photo of them glowing while they’re being worn.


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Pattern: Zen Pants* by 5 out of 4 Patterns
Fabric: Cotton Elastane from Sewing Studio

Glowing Dragons UFO

I couldn’t resist this glow in the dark fabric, but what is the best thing to make from it? In the shop, they suggested pyjamas, but I wanted something I could wear outside in the dark. I could make a t-shirt, but I don’t go outside in the dark until the autumn, and by that point it’s too chilly to be outside without a jumper on!

So I settled for another pair of Zen Pants*, as that would be just warm enough to wear outside in autumn…. or at least that’s my aim – we’ll see what happens!

My sewing machine did have a few disagreements with the stitches on the back pockets, so they are a bit of a mess. Hopefully my machine will co-operate when I come to finish them though.


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Pattern: Zen Pants* by 5 out of 4 Patterns
Fabric: Cotton Elastane from Sewing Studio

Zen Chameleons – another finished project!

I had a pile of trouser projects needing hemming, so I picked these Zen Pants* out at random so I had something finished this week. 

I did make a slight error on the waistband – I didn’t cut the elastic short enough, so the waistband is a little wavy in places. I’ve got around that by folding the elastic over, which disguises it a little. 

I might try making the low rise next time though, as this mid rise ended up more where the high rise is meant to hit. That’s mostly down to my lack of height though – where my advantage is that I can usually squeeze trousers onto a smaller piece of fabric, I do need to learn how to make alterations on the rise…. or at least use the lower rise for patterns where there’s multiple options.

These are really comfortable to wear, and the wavy elastic isn’t something I’ve noticed, so that’s not anywhere near the problem I thought it could be.


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Pattern: Zen Pants* by 5 out of 4 Patterns
Fabric: Cotton Lycra from Fashion Fabrics

Twittering Union Street Tee

It’s taken me a while to get back to my  Union Street Tee*, seeing as I knew I’d messed up the neckline. I’ve actually shelved this since May, as the neckline was annoying me! However, I realised that unpicking it would be unrealistic as the binding was already top-stitched once I noticed my mistake. 

Now the weather is starting to cool down, I thought it was time I actually finished the hems so I could get on and wear it. 

You wouldn’t know I’d made a mess of the neckline, would you? I know there’s puckers and catches in the bodice around the neckline, but I can happily ignore those!


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Pattern: Union Street Tee* by Hey June Handmade*
Fabric: Fashion Fabrics

Strawberry – another completed project!

It’s taken me a little while to get back to finish this  Button Up*, but it was worth taking my time on!

I had the idea of adding in piping to the armholes instead of using bias binding, which worked much better. The piping adds just enough interest to the arm, without making the seams too bulky.

Rather than adding in poppers again, I bought some fancy buttons and hand stitched them on. The only thing I did do ‘wrong’ was the orientation of the buttonholes – I stitched mine horizontally, but afterwards realised that shirt buttonholes are usually vertical!

But it is a perfectly wearable and comfortable shirt – I just hope we get a lot more hot weather so I can wear it!


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Pattern: Button-Up Top*  by Winterwear Designs*
Fabric: Abakhan

Floral Button-Up – it’s finished!

One of my quicker makes, this one wasn’t a UFO for long!

Not only did I add in the bias binding for the armhole and side seams, but I decided to be creative with the stitching on the front panels. I picked a contrast goldy brown thread which stands out against the purple without being too ‘in your face’, and chose a couple of decorative stitches to top stitch those seams.

I cheated and used poppers instead of buttons, but with smiley poppers like these (especially those which match the flowers on the shirt), how could I resist?


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Pattern: Button-Up Top * by WinterWear Designs*
Fabric: Fashion Fabrics

Floral Button Up – UFO

It might be meteorological Autumn, but I’m still in a summery mood – I’ve been working on my latest Button-Up Top*. Like with my strawberry button-up, I decided to make this one sleeveless, which shortens the sewing time quite a bit.

I used some bias binding I had lurking in my sewing bag to bind the collar, and I think I might use the same to bind the armhole and side seams as well, just to add a little bit of interest to the inside.


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Pattern: Button-Up Top * by WinterWear Designs*
Fabric: Fashion Fabrics

Real Deal Jeans (non denim)

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve been determined to finish some of my UFOs over the summer, and my Real Deal Jeans are my latest completed project!

Ok, so I admit that the Real Deal Jeans* by WinterWear Designs* are really designed for denim, but I didn’t want to attempt that just yet! This fabric is a lot lighter weight than denim, but should be perfect to wear on late summer evenings and into the autumn.

I think I lined up the back pockets a little incorrectly – they seem a lot further around to the side than they should be…. but they’re still wearable, and that’s what matters!

As you can tell, I didn’t bother pattern matching any of these pieces – with a splotchy pattern to the fabric, I didn’t really feel there was any need. And without the need to do that, I managed to get these jeans made from just one metre of fabric!


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Pattern:  Real Deal Jeans* by WinterWear Designs*
Fabric: Cotton Spandex from Sewing Studio