Monday, March 28, 2016

Three's a Charm Jacket Sewalong - End Result & Your Makes!

Full schedule of posts here.
Congratulations!  You've made a Three's a Charm Jacket!  It wasn't even that hard, was it?  We can't wait to see all your versions, but in the meantime, here's ours!

First off, here's our polka dot version that we've been sewing along to.

Lauren's Linen Mochi Dot Three's a Charm Jacket in size 40.

I did make some adjustments, but we first made the jacket exactly as is.  So what you see above is the size 40, no alterations!

Later, I went in and slimmed down the sleeves, as well as shortening them.  In retrospect, I might have wanted to take the side seams in a bit, but I don't care enough to take out all that topstitching!  ;)

Now let's see some other versions!  Claire made hers as soon as the pattern was released, using a cotton velveteen.  Love that pattern mixing!

Liz made hers in a nice cotton denim, and it was the perfect opportunity to use this adorable daisy trim!

Here's Natalie in a version made of a Japanese dobby cotton.  The fit was beyond perfect on this one!

Now it's your turn!  Send us pictures of your completed Three's a Charm Jacket at  And thank you so much for sewing along with us!  Let us know how you liked it and if there's any other sewalongs you'd like to see.

Until next time!  Happy sewing!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Three's a Charm Jacket Sewalong - Finishing

Full schedule of posts here.
We're almost there!  By the end of this post, you should have a finished Three's a Charm jacket!

We left off on Wednesday with an almost complete jacket, but we didn't hem the sleeves.  Luckily, it's the only thing to hem!  That's the beauty of those facings.

Before you do hem the sleeves, now is a good time to try on your jacket and see how everything is fitting.  If you want to take in the sleeves, do it now!

When you're ready to hem the sleeves, first finish the edge.  Again, we used our serger to do this.  Then fold under the amount you want to hem (1 1/8" is allowed) and stitch.  Try our tip from earlier if your machine doesn't have a seam guide that goes that far.

Since you're stitching in a circle, you don't need to backstitch.  Just overlap a few stitches when you get to the end to secure your threads.  Now give that a good press, and don't forget to bust out your sleeve board if you have one!

If you're like us, you may have one decision left - what kind of closure to use.  Not that you necessarily need to use one at all; the closures are optional.  We decided to use a button.

But which one??
Some people pick their button(s) with their fabric, but personally, I like to audition buttons on a completed or nearly completed garment.  With some help from our sales associates, we picked out a few contenders and laid them out on the jacket.

In the end, I decided on this cute red button for a pop of color.  And I love how the white rim echoed the polka dots.

The jacket's instructions tell you to make your buttonhole before you do the topstitching around the facing, but since we weren't sure what we were going to do, we held off on this.  Now that we have a button, we can make a buttonhole to match.

What kind of closure (if any) are you using?  Let us know in the comments!  And make sure to send us pictures of your completed jacket!  We'll be sharing some finished Three's a Charms on Monday, the last blog in this sewalong.  See you then!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Three's a Charm Jacket Sewalong - Sleeves

Full schedule of posts here.
If you've been following along so far, you should basically have a vest right now.  You've sewn your shoulder and side seams  You've attached your facings.  You've topstitched.  You may even have a buttonhole.  And now, after this post, you'll have sleeves!

I know that set in sleeves can be intimidating.  But I promise you can do it!  If you're nervous or you've never done sleeves before, just read through this post one before diving in.  And as always, feel free to comment below if you have any questions.

Now let's do this!

First, you'll sew the sleeve's dart, which is located at the elbow.  This is a simple straight dart, like the bust darts in the jacket front.  Read our previous sewalong post on darts for a refresher course!

Elbow dart on sleeve
Press this seam down towards the hem of the sleeve.

While the sleeve is still flat, it's a good time to add the gathering stitches on the sleeve cap.  This is a basting stitch along the top curved edge of the sleeve.  Adjust your stitch length to 5mm, which is often the longest possible stitch.

Now sew a row of basting stitches from one marking/notch to the other.  One side will have two notches.  (That's the side that will go toward the back.)  Make sure you leave long thread tails on this line of stitching.

Now we'll sew the long seam from hem to underarm.  Because we wanted to press this seam to one side rather than pressing it open, we decided to stitch the seam first and finish the seam after, serging both seam allowance edges together.

Now we pressed this seam towards the front.  If you're not sure which side is the back and which is the front, look for those notches!  The double notch always refers to the back.  And in this case, the elbow dart is on the back side, so we pressed our seam away from that dart.

As the name implies, a sleeve board can be your best friend here!

A sleeve board is like a mini ironing board that you can put your sleeve around, allowing for easier pressing.
Now it's time to set in that sleeve!  Make sure both sleeves have their dart, their seam, and their gathering stitches.  They should look like this:

Turn your jacket inside out and your sleeve right side out.  Place the sleeve inside the arm hole and first match up the jacket's side seam with the sleeve's underarm seam.

Remember, right sides together!
As you can see above, we nestled the seam allowances to be as flat as possible.  The jacket's side seam is pressed towards the back and the sleeve's underarm seam is pressed towards the front.  If they were both pressed in the same direction, there would be a big bulky bump under your arm!

Next, match up the jacket's shoulder seam with the top of the sleeve, which should have a single notch marked.

With those two main points pinned, it's time to pin the rest of the sleeve.  You'll notice that the sleeve has what seems like extra fabric around the curve.

There are two ways to distribute the sleeve cap's fullness.  The Three's a Charm instructions have you pulling on those basting stitches to make small gathers.  To do this, pull on the bobbin thread using that long tail you left behind.  Distribute the gathering evenly so you don't sew over any bumps.  If this way works for you, great!

Here's another way that we don't see a lot in pattern instructions, but it is a favorite trick of ours.  Rather than (or in addition to) gathering the sleeve cap, cut small notches in the jacket armscye to get a nice clean seam!

Think of it this way:  there's extra fabric on the sleeve and not enough fabric on the jacket armscye.  If you tried to just pin and sew without any kind of fabric manipulation, you'd have a real wonky and bumpy seam.  So you need to either shrink the fabric on the sleeve side or expand the fabric on the jacket side.  Pulling gathering stitches on the sleeve cap takes away that extra fabric.  Alternatively, cutting small notches in the jacket armscye helps lengthen and stretch that bit of fabric.

When cutting these small notches, just make sure you don't cut too far into the seam allowance.

Using our trusty Fiskars Microtip.
You can also use both methods together!

After all this gathering and cutting, make use of those pins to keep everything in place.  Then you're ready to sew!  Remember your 5/8" seam allowance.

You can see the little snips we made into the fabric didn't reach too far into the seam allowance.
Don't worry if after you stitch in the sleeve you notice little bumps you accidentally sewed over.  You don't have to redo the whole seam!  Just use your seam ripper to unpick the seam around the bump, even everything out, and resew that small part.  Make sure you overlap with the previous stitches in the beginning and end of this resewing to secure everything down.

Now try on your jacket and do a happy dance - you just set in sleeves!

We'll get to hemming the sleeves and any other finishing touches on Friday in the next blog.  Until then!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Three's a Charm Jacket Sewalong - Attaching the Facings & Topstitching

Full schedule of posts here.
We left off on Friday with our facings sewn together and our darts completed.  Now it's time to bring these all together and start making something that resembles a jacket!

Sew the Shoulder Seams

We're going to first connect our two jacket front pieces to our jacket back at the shoulder seams.  These are the short straight edges at the top of the curved armholes.

First, decide how you'll be finishing these seams.  You can use pinking shears, a zig zag stitch on your machine, or a serger.  We're using our Bernina sergers.  Since this seam will get pressed open after stitching (rather than pressed to one side), it's a good idea to finish the edges before sewing the seam.

Serge four edges:  both shoulder edges on the back and each shoulder edge on each front piece.

Now match up these edges and sew both shoulder seams.  Remember to keep right sides together!

 Your jacket should be looking something like this right about now:

Don't forget to press open this seam before moving on to the next step!

Attaching the Facing to the Jacket

Now we're going to take the long facing piece we prepared last time and connect it to the jacket body.  Make sure you line up the raw edge of the facing (not the finished side) to the raw edge of the jacket.  Place the jacket right side up, and then put the facing pieces right side down on top.  It should look like this:

The two shoulder seams should align with the seams connecting the back neck facing to the front facing.

Here's how this should look on the bottom edge of the jacket:

You may notice a small notch on the bottom of the front hem facing.  This should match up with the jacket front waist dart.

Matching the front hem facing notch with the jacket front waist dart.
Now you're ready to sew these two big pieces together!  Go from the side seam to the other.  When you get to the first corner (where the front hem facing connects with the front facing), you'll want to pivot.  This means that just before you arrive at the end (5/8" before), place your needle down into the fabric.  Leave the needle down, lift up the presser foot, and rotate your fabric 90 degrees.

Needle down, ready to pivot!
Sew all the way around, pivoting also at the jacket front points.

After we do that, we'll want to trim the seam and clip the corners.  This will make the jacket front nice and flat.  Using our Fiskars microtip scissors, we cut a straight line across the corner seam allowance.  Careful not to cut your stitching though!

Because of the facing and interfacing, this seam could be a bit bulky.  To reduce this, we won't just trim the seams straight across like we've done before.  Instead, we're going to grade the seam.

Grading means cutting the seam allowances at different lengths so that the seam lies flatter.  Generally whichever layer will be closest to the body should be the shortest one.

We love to use duck-billed applique scissors for grading seam allowances.  They have one large curved blade that helps to push away one seam allowance while you cut the other.  See how one edge of the seam allowance is trimmed close to the stitching but the other edge remains uncut?

After trimming, it's time to return to our ironing boards.  Press the graded seam allowance towards the facing, away from the jacket.

Lots of steam will help here!  After you press the seam allowance towards the facing, turn the whole facing inwards and press some more.

If you're having trouble making the curved neckline lay flat, you may want to trim little notches into the curve.  Again, don't trim too far or you'll cut your stitching!

Cutting into the curved neckline seam allowance to help this seam lie flat.

Sewing the Side Seams

Next we're going to sew up our side seams.  Soon you'll be able to try on your jacket for the first time!

Before you do anything, finish the bottom edge of the jacket back the same way you finished the inside free edge of the facing.  For us, this means using our serger again.

Now that you've finished that edge, it's time to sew the side seams.  You'll unfold the front hem facing and pin right sides together.  If you don't unfold the facing, the two side edges won't match up and the jacket back side will be longer than the front.

Sewing the side seam:  jacket front and unfolded front hem facing are on top, jacket back is on the bottom.
Note that this seam is not a straight line.  It's this nice shaping that makes the Three's a Charm Jacket so wonderful!

Notice the opened up front hem facing at the bottom.  The interfaced side should be facing up.
Press up the jacket back hem to match the front hem facing and give everything a good press.

Note:  The pattern instructions say to sew the buttonhole at this point.  However, we weren't sure what button we were using yet, so we held off.  If you already have your button, then by all means, do your buttonhole now!  But don't worry, it won't ruin your jacket to do the buttonhole later.


Now we're going to topstitch the facing down, so that it's not flopping around while you wear your jacket!

As per the pattern's instructions, topstitch 1 1/8" away from the edge.  If your machine doesn't have markings that far away from the needle, try putting a piece of blue painter's tape to help guide you!

Measuring 1 1/8" away from the needle for topstitching.
We started from the center back hem and worked our way around the whole jacket, overlapping a few stitches from where we started to secure.  Don't forget to pivot at the corners like you did earlier!

Here's our completed topstitching!  We used bright pink thread for everything up until this point so our readers could see what we're doing, but we used matching navy thread for this part.  We brightened up the picture a lot so you could see the topstitching.

While we decided to do an inconspicuous topstitch here, you could totally use a fun decorative stitch or apply a cute trim!  How will you finish your facing?  Let us know in the comments!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Three's a Charm Jacket Sewalong - Facings & Darts

Full schedule of posts here.
Time to start sewing!  Today we'll be creating our facing and stitching our darts.  Make sure you've transferred all your markings, because it will make these steps a lot easier.  Refer to the last post of the sewalong for guidance on this!

Stitching Together the Facing

If you look at all the pieces you've cut out, you should have five big pieces (two sleeves, two fronts, and one back) and five smaller pieces.  These smaller ones are your facings.  The first stitching we'll do is attaching these together to make one long facing piece.

Before we get started, it's helpful to understand which facing piece is which.  This image is also a sneak peak of what your facings will look like by the end of this post!

First stitch your back neck facing (the short curved one) to your front facings (the two long and skinny pieces).  You'll be lining up the markings you just made and attaching these facings at the short straight ends.  No stitching is happening yet on the curved sides.  It's also good to note that the back neck facing connects with the front facing at the end that's further from the part that points inward (which is where the buttonhole will go eventually).  Use the pattern diagram and the notches as reference.

Make sure you have your right sides together!  This means that the interfaced side should be facing up towards you.  The Three's a Charm Jacket has a standard 5/8" seam allowance.

We're using our classroom machines, Bernina Activa 210.

Now stitch the front hem facings (remaining rectangular looking pieces) to the bottom of the front facings.  These two pieces come together and create a right angle.

Again, make sure your right sides are together!

Here's what these look like when stitched together with the 5/8" seam allowance.  The stitch line will be aligned with the edge of the front facing.

Front hem facing on top of the front facing, stitched with the 5/8" seam allowance.

Now it's time to trim and press these four seams.  We used our fabric scissors to essentially cut the seam allowance in half.

Then press these seams open with a nice hot and steamy iron!

Left:  Pressing open the Back Neck Facing and Front Facing seam.
Right:  Pressing open the Front Facing and Front Hem Facing seam.

Now you should have all five facing pieces connected!

The last step to completing the facing is to finish the outer edge.  This is the edge that is unnotched.  We decided to use our serger, but you could also use a zig zag stitch on your conventional machine or use pinking shears.

If you're using a serger, you will come up to that right angle where the front hem facing meets the front facing.  You can see below how we pulled the front facing piece to make this as straight a line as possible.

Serging the unnotched edge of the facings.

Here's a look at the pattern's instructions showing you which side to finish, along with our serged edge.

Now you can set aside the facings while we focus on the shaping the body of the jacket.

Sewing the Darts

The Three's a Charm jacket has wonderful shaping, and we have these darts to thank for that!  There are eight darts in total, and they may be a different shape than you're used to.

First, let's shape the front pieces.  The bust darts along the side seams are a classic triangle shape, so those shouldn't be too unfamiliar!

With right sides together and plenty of pinning, start sewing this dart from the side seam and taper off at the point.  We backstitched once to secure this stitching, but a more couture finish would be to leave long thread tails and double knot them at the dart's point.

The waist darts on the jacket front are curved, which can be a bit trickier to sew, but they give beautiful shaping to this garment.

We like to stitch this curved dart in two parts, starting from the widest part at the center and moving out toward the tip.

Pinning at the widest point, which is where we'll start stitching.

Think of it like the regular dart we just sewed at the side seam, but you just do that twice to make one big dart!

Start from the red dot and move out toward the tip.  Repeat for the other side.

Here's a look at half of the dart sewn.

And here's what that dart will look like after being sewn.  See the long thread tails in the center?  That's where we started both times.  No need to backstitch when you start again from the center to sew the other half of the dart.  Just overlap a few stitches to secure.

After sewing all four darts on the jacket front pieces, you'll want to press them.  The bust dart gets pressed down towards the waist rather than the shoulder, and the waist dart should be pressed towards center front, not the side seam.  Use a tailor's ham or a seam roll so as to not stretch the darts out of shape!

A tailor's ham (left) or a seam roll (right) will help keep the shape of these darts while pressing.
Here's a look at the jacket front after pressing the darts.

Now use these same techniques for the darts on the jacket's back piece!  The waist dart on the back is even more shaped than the waist dart on the front.  We started putting the pins in while the back piece was flat.

Back waist dart.
Then we pinched the right sides together and added more pins.

Here's the fully pinned back waist dart.

Like with the front waist dart, start from the widest point at the center and move out towards one dart tip.  Then start again at that center point, overlapping a stitch or two to secure, and follow your markings out towards the other dart point.

Stitch the shoulder darts on the back piece like you did with the bust darts on the front piece.

And once again, it's time to press!  Both the shoulder darts and the waist darts should be pressed towards center back.

With shaped and curved darts, the ham is your friend!
In the next installment of our sewalong, we'll actually be putting all these pieces together!  It will start to look like a jacket, we promise.

Let us know in the comments how your jacket is coming along!