Basic Sewing Tools
Basic Sewing Tools

BERNINA Foot of the week lesson by The Tailor's Daughter
BERNINA Presser foot tutorials

Upcoming DIY Sewing and design projects

Many of the tutorials I create for you go through several phases to be perfected before I present them to you.  Like many crafters we all have a stash of projects that we are working on.  These are some of the upcoming tutorials to watch for!

Out with the old and in with the new... Spring is in the air and it's getting warmer outside which means we get to pull out our warm weather project bin!  I am thinking outdoor pation redesign, a high fashion silk dupioni dress, and of course a give-away!

July, 2013
Custom Tailors Designers Vanessa Empire in New York City


Fashion Designer Vanessa Empire Gian DiCaro The Tailor's Daughter Pencil Skirt Nautical
Vanessa Empire &
 Gian Decaro, Gian DeCaro Sartoria
Seattle, WA

"...the best bespoke tailoring
west of the Rockies"


Alan Levine Vanessa Empire Fashion Style leader and creator

Vanessa Empire &
 Alan Levine
A Fashion Staple
Fmr. Director at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, Gladson, and Astor & Black

Do you need a tailor?

The Custom Tailor's & Designers Association summer meetings are always so fun.  Especially I enjoy the insight and experience I have access to when I am in the presence of so many talented and successful mentors.

And... as with any party... what to wear? what to wear?
Since the mood is called casual, (which means suits for most of the CTDA professionals), I decided to go with a nautical theme...
I used my custom pencil skirt pattern, and added the darts.  Then I did the math to make sure I had an even number of stripes, since I wanted to end with the dark blue. 

Next I created a yoke pattern from my existing pencil skirt pattern, and then began adding stripes onto the yoke.  Every stripe was cut on the bias to make sure it would stretch when I sat, yet still be smooth since it doesn't have any side seams. And, it was pretty fast after that...
Vanessa Empire Fashion Design boat skirt  Fashion Designer Vanessa Empire Colorado Bernina The Tailor's Daughter Custom Pencil Skirt
  Fashion Designer Vanessa Empire Colorado Bernina The Tailor's Daughter Custom Pencil Skirt    Fashion Designer Vanessa Empire BERNINA The Tailor's Daughter Pencil Skirt Nautical  Fashion Designer Vanessa Empire BERNINA The Tailor's Daughter Pencil Skirt Nautical

Fashion Designer Vanessa Empire Studio BERNINA The Tailor's Daughter Pencil Skirt Nautical
And voila! 
Custom Nautical Pencil Skirt...


Chiffon and Ribbon Skirt by Vanessa Empire at The Tailor's Daughter

To make this skirt you will need the following:
  • Silk Chiffon (You can use polyester chiffon, but synthetic fibers are not my favorite!) 2 legnths of yardage
  • 2" Grosgrain Ribbon
  • Invisible Zipper
  • BERNINA presser feet #35 (invisible zipper), #4 (zipper), #2 (overlock),  #37 (1/4" foot), #62 (2mm rolled hemmer) and the Ruffler!   (Click here to see a video tutorial about the Ruffler!)
  •  Metrosene Plus All Purpose thread 1) color of chiffon 2) color of ribbon, if you chose to do contrasting like I did!
  • Invisible zipper
When you bring your fabric home you will want to straighten up the edges.  Image 1 shows that you unravel a bit of the fabric after making a tiny cut.  Then pull the raveled thread to reveal a straight line on the fabric.  After my thread is pulled I cut along with line.

After you have cleaned up the first edge, measure the legnth you want your skirt, plus 1/2".  Repeat the process of pulling a thread and cut again.  This will be your front panel.  Repeat this process making sure that both pieces are identical in measurement.

For step 3, cut off the selvages of each side.  This is where our side seams are going to go.
Next, do the math.  Measure your waist, and multiply that by 3. 
For example, my waist is 27"  27x3=81"   So each panel needs to be the length of the skirt (step 1 and 2) by 40.5" ( half of 81) plus 1" on each side for the zipper
- We do this because the ruffler needs roughly 3-1 ratio of ruffle to waist measurement.
French Seams
Next, pin your first side seam... With WRONG sides together!

Then use foot #37 (the 1/4" foot) and sew.
The Tailors Daughter BERNINA fashion design foot #37
After sewing the first seam, press the seam opened, and then to one side.  Trim 1/2 of the seam allowance away

Next, pin and sew that seam again, at the same 1/4" seam allowance.  
This encases the raw edge, and provides a nice seam finish for sheer fabrics.

Next, select the overlock stitch (Stitch #3 on a BERNINA 380), and you will notice that the screen tells you to use foor #2.
Sew the overlock stitch along the top of the skirt, right on the edge.  I position my fabric so that the needle goes off of the fabric on the left swing.  This protects the chiffon from fraying away.

Next, Cut your Grosgrain ribbon to match your waist measurement, plus 2".  (1" each side for invisible zipper seam allowance)
Now we are going to ruffle.   If you already know how to use the Ruffler foot keep reading...
(If your not familiar with the Ruffler foot, click here to see a video tutorial about the Ruffler!)

Next, with your Ruffler Foot attach the chiffon to the inside of the ribbon.  *Make sure the ribbon is UNDER the presser foot, and the chiffon is engaged in the spring as pictured.  I have my ruffler set to every stitch, with a stitch legnth of 2.5mm.
Next, attach invisible zipper.
Finally, you are ready to hem!  Put on foot #64 for the fastest rolled hem! (other than a Serger)

I love this presser foot.  It rolles it under evenly for a fast and measuring free hem or edge finish!

Now, Wear it!

Recycled fashion design on BERNINA with Studio BERNINA and Vanessa Empire
DIY Skirt, recycled clothing, upcycled fashion, fashion redesign

I know we all have items in our closet that we don’t wear for one reason or another.  Well this year I am conquering those closet fillers and making them stand out!  This is the first item… a simple pencil skirt made of cobalt stretch denim. It’s cute, but… a dime a dozen. 

So, in this tutorial we are going to add a fishtail down the back along with a new topstitched zipper!

 To get started we will need the following supplies:

-          Rotary cutter/Mat

-          Iron w/Steam

-          Glass head Pins

-          Scissors

-          Zipper the length of the skirt or longer… (not shorter!)

-          Sewing Machine

Grosgrain Ribbon

Bias Strips (pre-made or cut yourself!)

Now for the magic…

1.       Cut back seam of skirt (if there is not a seam, like mine, measure to find the center back, and cut up center.

2.       Cut 2 strips of cotton that are 2” wide and 2 that are 1” wide. 

 DIY, Recycled Clothing, fashion design  

3.       Press the ends up, and then press in half to all 4 strips.

 pin tuck, DIY Bias strips, Recycled fashion     

 4.       Next, pin the 1” strip to the inside cut edge of the skirt at a ¼” seam allowance, and repeat on other side.  


*Don’t forget to wrap the raw edges around to the right side of the fabric at the ends.  This seals in the raw edge of the skirt and saves it from unravveling and also adds a professional touch!

5.       Now pull the sewn seam toward the cut edge of the skirt, and wrap it around to the front. 


6.       To prepare the pintucks, I like to use a fork!  For my pin tucks I want them to be small so I measure every ½ “.
*Hint- Take the edge of the fork and line it up with the ruler, using the fork to fold the fabric on top of. 

7.       Once the pin tucks are pinned and pressed in place now take them to the sewing machine and stitch them down.  I changed my stitch length to 5mm so that it would sew them in just temporarily.


8.       Now place the pintucks inside the binding that we sewed onto the skirt… For this trick I find that I pin the pin tuck tape inside of the binding, and then remove the pin from the binding.  This way you don’t have too many pins once you go to the machine!


9.       Now for the ribbon!  Measure your chosen ribbon out to be 2 times the length of your skirt plus 1”.  Sew the two cut edges at a ½” seam allowance. 

10.   Place the seam allowance towards the inside of the ribbon and press the ends.  This double layer of ribbon adds strength to the seam that will hold the zipper.  Don’t forget to steam and press your zipper so it doesn’t shrink in the wash and cause unnecessary puckering! 

11.   Now sew the ribbon on top of the pin tucks.  Repeat this process to the other side. (Don’t sew over pins!!!)


12.   Now pin, place and attach the zipper.  Make sure you put the bottom (or stopper) of the zipper at the bottom of the skirt, and the left over hanging off of the top!  (See image 14)

13. zTopstitch the zipper on top of the ribbon.

14.   Cut the top of the zipper off so it is level with the top of the skirt, and hand stitch a new stopper at the top of the skirt.                    

*Make sure to handstitch around each side of the zipper to create a new stopper for the zipper! Otherwise it will just slide right off the top!

And viola! I am so excited about how this skirt came out!  Happy sewing!
- Fashionably, Vanessa