Sewing Tips Newsletter – Issue 10

Sewing Tips Newsletter
by Jenny T.

What a week! This is the first week (in all long time) that my kids did not have swim practice. So, I put all those extra hours into content for you! Wahoo! It’s August… last month of the summer… my beach vacation’s coming up… and I’m in a really good mood. So, I have some great content to share, and some extra special exclusive offers for you. I hope this newsletter finds you well and happily sewing!

In this issue:

1. How To Read and Use a Sewing Pattern

2. Ask Jenny T. Now

3. What’s new in Simple Sewing Projects… and what’s new on a couple of the other sites

4. Exclusive Offer! ** Don’t skip over this! **

5. I need your help and feedback! Please read.

And now… on to this week’s sewing tip!


QUICK TIP: I just wanted to share with you real quick… if you ever want to see a complete list of all the sewing projects on visit:

If you would like to read the back issues of Sewing Tips, visit


Sewing Tip #10: How To Read and Use a Sewing Pattern

If you’ve avoided a sewing project because you have to use a paper sewing pattern… fear no more! I’m going to clear up the confusion and help you to read and actually use any sewing pattern! If you want to watch me sew a skirt using a sewing pattern… visit and search for “skirt”.

1. First, let’s go over how to read the package of a sewing pattern.

Looking at the front cover of the package you will see the level of the pattern: Easy, Intermediate, Expert… This is a great way to know if this is a sewing pattern that will match your abilities or appropriately challenge you without making you want to give up. I personally always choose easy. They’re a lot faster too!

You’ll see the pattern number. It looks something like B23445. You can use this number to find the pattern in the catalogue files at your sewing store.

Sizes: There will also be a notation on what sizes the pattern will make.

And then the photo or drawing of the item to be sewn. You’ll usually see various styles that you can choose to make.

On the top flap, you’ll see a size chart based on your hip and waste measurements. This will tell you what size you will be for this pattern. Don’t assume that you are a size 8 for the sewing pattern just because you buy size 8 in the stores. Sewing patterns’ sizes can be very different from retail sizing. So don’t get caught up in the size… pay attention to the measurement chart.

On the back of the package you’ll see a notions list, fabric recommendation and the yardage chart. With this information, you should be able to get your fabric and any supplies you may need… like zippers, ribbon, etc.

If you’re a beginner, you can take the pattern to the person in the fabric department and ask them where there “fabric knits” are… or their light weight linens… or whatever your pattern needs. Then you can just choose the fabric you like in the section!


2. Now, let’s open the sewing pattern and review what you have to work with.

You’ll see a folded sheet of paper that will include sewing instructions. And you’ll see the paper pattern folded.

The instructions will tell you what pattern pieces you will need for the style you have chosen. You will unlikely use all pattern pieces.

Go ahead and cut out the pattern pieces you need… leave about 1″ of paper around the pieces. You can press your pieces with your iron… just make sure your iron is on a low setting.

The instructions will also show you how to place your pieces onto your fabric. This is very helpful because it gives you the most efficient way to use your fabric. There’s even a key to tell you what side of the pieces should be facing up or down.

Pin your paper pieces to your fabric and then you’re ready to cut the pieces out along the cut line.

Find the style you are making, and follow the sewing instructions for that style (or view).


3. Finally, let’s understand all those symbols on the sewing pattern.

Cut Line => The cut line is the outer solid line on the outer edge of the shape. On at least one side, you may see multiple straight lines running parallel to each other. If you look closely, you’ll see that each line has a size on it. Use the cutting that corresponds to the size you are sewing.

Notches => The notches are the dark solid triangles along the cut line. These help to accurately match seams. So, there will be another piece, that when you piece them together… the notches will line up. When cutting out your shape, cut the notches out.

Grain Line => The grain line is a long line that has arrows at both ends. When you place the pattern piece on your fabric, you want this line to be parallel to the selvage edge of the fabric.

Place On Fold => When you see these words and a straight line, you will place this line on the fold of the fabric. This will create a shape twice the size of the pattern piece. You’ll need to refer to the fabric placement chart to determine how to fold your fabric.

Button Marks => A large open circle shows you where to place your buttons.

Button Holes => A short solid line shows you where to sew a button hole.

Darts => Darts are folded parts of fabric… sewn to create a seam… typically in the waisteline of skirts and pants. Darts are represented by 2 dashed lines forming a V. There is a dot near the point of the V. When you sew darts, you will fold your fabric right sides together aligning the 2 dashed lines. You will stitch along the dashed line and end just over the dot.

Now, you should be able to work with any sewing pattern! So, try an easy one and go for it!

If you want to watch me sew a skirt using a sewing pattern… visit and search for “skirt”.

Discover video and audio of even more sewing tips, how-to’s and resources by visiting You’ll even be able to subscribe to these weekly sewing tips and how-to’s and receive them through your iTunes or podcast player.


Ask Jenny T Now

While you wait for the next sewing tip, be sure to visit and submit your sewing question. Your question maybe answered in my next podcast.

Question from Cheryl: Jenny, I am trying to find instructions for making a top down / bottom up roman shade. do you have the instructions somewhere? I also want to know if you can put the cords on the same side. Thanks. Cheryl

Answer: I JUST made this video. I posted on the home page of Putting the cords on one side is possible… you may want a deeper board so that you can install 2 cord locks… one in front of the other.

Question from Laurie: Hi, I am very interested in your Roman Shade how to, but I don’t see any examples with an arched window. I would like to make a shade for my front door, which has an arched window. Do any of your instructions cover arches? Thank you

Answer: No, the instructions don’t include this. But maybe I can briefly help. When planning an arched roman shade, the hardware for raising and lowering the shade starts below the arch. The rectangular part of the shade is the only functional part.

What I’ve done in the past, is measured the window carefully. From the top center of the arch to the window sill. From the bottom edges of the arch to the window sill. And the width of the window. I sewed my roman shade to the longest length first. Then, using my measurements, I drew the arch onto the shade.

I got bendable board… I’m not sure where you can get this in stores to be honest… you’ll find it with cornice making materials. I bent the board to the drawn shape and stapled the fabric to the board. Then drilled the board into the top of the window frame. You can install screw eyes into the board and just use a cord cleat for raising and lowering. Or you can install another board across the bottom of the arch to hold the roman shade hardware.

Question from Mary: I am making a very small roman shade for a window, 21 1/2 by 21. I have sewed on the tape with rings attached. The shade does not pull up properly with nice equal folds. Do I sew the tape down the center and attach the rings or do I sew each side of the tape and not attach the rings? I have made roman shades but not the soft pull kind. Please help. Thanks so much.

Answer: I’m not sure I completely understand the question. Did you sew through all layers of your roman shade when sewing on the tape? To sew on roman shade ring tape you need to use a zipper foot and sew along both sides of the tape. As long as the tape is sewn to the face fabric it should work fine. You could also just have fussy fabric and you’ll need to train the fabric to pleat.

Question from Minnie: Good morning, what can I do to prevent my curtains to pull up on the side hems? Thanks.

Answer: This is a very common question and problem. This can happen for a number of reasons. The #1 reason this happens is that the selvage edges are still on your fabric and they were not snipped or removed. That tight weave will definetly cause issues. Your stitch tension could be too tight. When sewing 2 different weights of fabric… lining and fabric… one layer always is stitched faster than the other. Causing the seam to not hang smooth and straight. This can be helped by using a walking foot when sewing the side seams.

Question from Valerie: What is the model and manufacturer of the sewing machine that you use in your videos? (the one with the hands-free presser foot lift)

Answer: I use a Husqvarna Viking – Sapphire. I’m not sure about the hands free presser foot lift. There’s a button on the front of the machine I have to push to lift the presser foot. I LOVE my Viking!

Question from Dayle: The vertical edges of my lined heavy-cotton pinch-pleated draperies seem wavy. Drapery weights don’t help. I’m guessing that the fabric must have been stretched in some way but I have no idea how I did it. How do I avoid this in the future and insure straight vertical edges?

Answer: See my answer above to Minnie.

Question from Duane: Hi, I want to sew reinforced edges to shade cloth bought from Home Depot. At the same time I would need to sew several pieces together to form a long 18ft x 10ft section. I do have access to a sewing machine, don’t make me do this by hand. Thanks for any help.

Answer: Ok… for those of you that don’t know, shade cloth is a vinyl type material that is used for making window shades… not soft fabric shades. Here’s what I do, when I need to piece. First, I align the cloth pieces side by side. Then, I use masking tape to secure the pieces. The tape goes on both sides. Just one layer of tape. Then I glue fabric over the front of the shade. I don’t use a machine at all.

If you want to sew instead… I would align the edges side by side and sew a zig-zag stitch down the seam. Keep in mind that you may struggle getting your cloth to fit through the arm of the machine… and you will be creating pin holes in the shade cloth.

Question from Ellen: Jennifer – On 4/22/09 I got a pattern of yours from, for lined drapes in a day. I am wondering how many curtain ring you reccommend for a window width of 183″? (which I know I double for the draperies) Is there a formula of how many inches per curtain ring? Thanx ~ Ellen

Answer: I always use the rule of thumb of 5 rings per fabric width. So for 183″… with 54″ wide fabric… you should use 15 rings.

To figure out how far apart to space them you’ll need to do a little math.

I would start your rings about 1″ in from each side. So, now you’re working with 181″. You’ll have 15 rings and 14 spaces. Divide 181 by 14. Which is 12.93. So, you’ll space your rings about 13″ apart.


Visit and submit your sewing question today.


What’s New This Month In

1. Project of the Month: Totes for any occassion. (*Coming soon*) ($27 value)

2. Window Treatment of the Month: How To Sew A Grommet Curtain. (*For Super Sewer Members Only*) ($27 value)

3. The online class “How To Sew Swags and Drapes – A Live Case Study” is available for you to sign up! Please visit for more info and to sign up. Weeks 1, 2 and 3 are posted. Week 4 is posted this week! ($67 value)

4. Jenny T.’s Sewing Review: Using a ruffler presser foot, a rolled hem foot and a binder foot

5. How To Sew… : How To Read and Use a Sewing Pattern (video) ($7 value)

Gain immediate access to all this exciting content plus to all of the archived sewing projects and how-to’s.

Here’s the link to subscribe to

I hope to see you in the member’s site!


What’s New In

Watch this video episode showing you a fun exercise to learn how to adjust your sewing machine for the perfect sewing tension.



$1 Membership to is back for a very limited time!

From now through August 8th, subscribe to for only $1!!

Visit and enter coupon code: 411A2B

Details: When you sign up, you will enter the coupon code 411A2B to receive your first month for only $1. After 30 days, your membership will renew at the normal subscription rate of $7. This offer is only available to first time subscribers. This offer will expire on August 8th, 2009.

Take advantage of this limited offer because honestly, I don’t know if I can afford to keep doing this. It may be a long time before I can offer membership for only a $1 again. So, if you want to get inside of and see if you’re going to love it as much as the other members do… take me up on this offer while you can!


I need your help and feedback! Please…

Do you have a request of what you’d like to see in A window treatment, a project, a product reviewed, a sewing technique… anything?

Can I do something better?

What do you think of a 30 day sewing challenge?

How about a monthly quilt block?

Does a member’s photo gallery interest you?

I value your opinions and I would appreciate any feedback you can offer! Thank you!!!


Happy Sewing!

Jenny T.

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