Category Archives: Sewing & Fashion How To’s

Top Fashion Trends and influencers 2017/2018

As the year draws to a close and all of you aspiring designers are looking toward your 2018/19 lines, lets review the top trends reported for this past year.

Oddly enough when it comes to brands we have complete opposites of the spectrum ranking .On the top of the spectrum we  have Gucci with shoppers searching for loud floras, clashing prints,snakes and green and red stripes. Logos popular as always but with the addition of “message” tees focusing feminist and political messages.

Other top designer brands making a mark in sales and searches in 2017 were St Laurent and Balenciaga .  Retro looks seemed to make a mark across the board with these vintage fashion houses as well as other well known retailers( retail blog to follow)  Taking a cue from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s with crop tops, chain mail, spaghetti straps or flares in mustard tones, pussy blow blouses and cord. Disco glitter boots were popular in the Autumn party scene and of course lots of sequins







Fashion Design Divas Sewing it into Your Own Design

custom dress
custom dress

So you may be wondering, why should I learn to sew?  There are so many readily available and cheap clothes today and you love to shop? Well sewing is not just for your grandmother anymore. It gives today’s girl a new twist on an old skill to creatively express herself & give a great degree of satisfaction that it is her effort and passion to show the world her own unique style.  Besides just fashion there is also a whole world of sewing that can be used to create purses, accessories, and a bevy of things for your decorating heart and home.

Being the fashionista that you are, of course you have kept up with the latest trends, your favorite celebs and what they are wearing. Hopefully you even keep a scrapbook of your favorite styles, looks and designers to use as a shopping dream book or even better: to be you inspirations for your own looks. This book can also serve as a “tearsheet” to use as a short cut to be able to draw out your designs with out having to be a great artist.   You may even be like me and get lost for hours looking at fashion shows on You Tube and So now that you have chosen a pattern at the store that is somewhat close to your dream look and brought it all home.. now what?

You may find that the style on the cover of the pattern isn’t  exactly what you wanted. Maybe you want it a little shorter, a little longer, a little looser or a little tighter or a short sleeve vs. a long sleeve. These are all easy fixes!  Somethings the neckline can also be an easy change. You will find that many time, what you see in the media, is fairly easy to replicate with a little creativity and style savvy. Miraculously inside that little envelope are instructions for everything you need. Even how to make some of the adjustments I just mentioned.  I’m not going into minute detail here, suffice it to say that you need to read it completely, go slow  and follow instructions.  If you make a mistake in cutting, there is not a lot you can do to fix it. I will tell you the most important things to watch out for.

  • Check your key measurements against the pattern pieces.
  • If you need to make personal adjustments to match your measurements make all change BEFORE pinning down your pattern.
  • If you make changes to pattern remember that the shoulders, side seams must match in length to sew together . Inseams and out seams must match in length and curve. Sleeve underarms must match in length.
  • Be sure you are on the correct grain and even on that grain with your pattern pieces
  • Transfer all markings to the wrong side of your fabric BEFORE you unpin it. use a tracing wheel and transfer paper
  • Clip in 1/4″ at those little triangles vs. cutting around them. You notches are your road map to construction
  • If you wrong side and right side look very similar, mark the wrong side with chalk or wax to know the difference.

So now you are on your way. So wind your bobbins, plug in the steam Iron and get ready to create!!


Sewing Boot Camp: Beginning to Sew Tips for Fashion Designers

Machines & Tools

It is said that the longest journey starts with the first step. So it is true for those who want to learn to sew or embark on their first sewing classes.

Many places you don’t even need to have your own machine, but once you begin, you will find that you want to work on your projects on your own time and will soon find yourself seeking out a sewing machine that is right for you. Your first sewing machine may come to you as a hand me down or you may purchase a new one.

Electronic machines with a lot of options are available at a very reasonable price( under $200) and it’s not necessary to purchase a premium brand or anything high end if you are just beginning.Either way you will want to have the instruction book if possible, if  you don’t, you  may be able to find it on line.

You will also need a few needles in several sizes (9,11,14,16) and a couple of extra bobbins.  Other materials you will need to begin with are a sewing box. Tackle boxes work well or almost any type of plastic craft box with compartments, a secure closure and  a handle will work.

In your sewing box, you will need to have a pin cushion, straight pins, a tape measure, needles for hand sewing, basic colors of thread, black, white and natural, a fabric scissors or you may even opt to add a rotary cutter, a paper scissors, a small nippers for at your machine, a seam ripper and a tracing wheel, preferably with spikes or at the least, serrated.  Your collection of materials and tools will grow as you learn.

Finding a Teacher

Finding a place to learn is your next quest. Sewing has become a bit of a lost art that is in the midst of a revival as bad economic times is leaving a space to create a renaissance of sorts for all of the skills that our mothers and grandmothers had before we became a throw away society.

Many community colleges offer adult education classes  and there are also small sewing instruction companies popping up all over…. Of course, you may say, why should I pay when U Tube is free? Well of course it’s free but the snippets are short and often broken up.  You will probably find that you can only get so much for free, and then it will take you to a page to sign up for on line classes.

I never learned from an online class so I can’t comment as to how well it could work for you. I can tell you that in the beginning, you will need a patient, experienced instructor to hold your hand, encourage you and teach you not only the in and out’s of your exact machinery, but to also put you on the right path to develop good sewing habits so your projects will look professional, fit, and make you feel good about your creation!

Your Measurements & Pattern Selection

So, you are ready to start sewing something. But what?  There are many simple projects like purses that you get online, but lets talk about commercial patterns.

As you get ready to march to your local fabric store, go armed with your basic measurements.  These critical basic measurements are your bust, your waist and your hips.

To take these measurements, wear a good support bra, bring the tape measure around your back even with your bust and take a relaxed measurement at the fullest point.

Do the same with your waist ( your true waist is about 1″above your belly button, NOT where your jeans rest!) and finally, your hip at it’s fullest point which is between 7-8 ” below your true waist.

Most fabric stores like Joannes, have large catalogs of all kinds of patterns. Simplicity brand is just as it state, although the fit is not always the best, McCall’s  is a little better, Butterick is generally a good fit and was the very first paper pattern available way back in the late 19th century!

Vogue patterns tend to be very expensive and more difficult. Watch for a sale to stock up on your patterns.  Look for a style that will flatter your body shape, is rated as “easy” and is made from a woven vs. a knitted fabric.

Compare the measurements on the envelope to yours to know what size to buy. Just because you buy an 8 in the store, does not mean you need an 8 pattern.

If your measurements don’t match the envelope exactly, go with what is the closest.The patterns are kept in the drawers under the catalogs and you may need a clerk to help you find your choice.

This envelope contains the full size tissues pattern in three sizes, full instructions of how to sew, how much fabric to buy, what notions you will need like inter-facings, buttons or zippers and fabric suggestions.

Fabric Selection

On the back of the envelope you will also find suggested fabrics.  If you don’t know very much about fabrics, hopefully, the staff at the store can point you in the right direction. Most of your woven fabrics will come 45/48″ wide.

Follow the back of the envelope to know how much you need to buy. If there is a sale table, or a remnant table that is often a great way to get discounts on fabric. Fabric is rolled onto bolts with the ends draped over so you can see the pattern.

Look under the draped part to find the price per yard, the content and the care. Look for something machine washable, not too see sheer, medium body weight and of a comfortable fiber like cotton or cotton rich.   Don’t forget your matching thread and zippers or buttons!  To match the thread, unroll a little bit and hold against your fabric to find best match. I recommend dual duty in a 50 or 60 weight. This is a poly core with cotton wrap so it’s strong but holds great color and does not shrink.   You will also need to purchase an interfacing. That is an unseen layer that you will apply to certain area to give them strength and body.

So now you will be ready to learn to sew with baby steps. Watch for my next blog to know how to get started!

Beginning Designers Q & A

Can I learn to sew and design if i have never sewed before?

Yes, we will teach you the very beginner basic. If you already have portable machine you are welcomed to bring it with you and we will instruct you on it’s care and use, or you can use our machines at Mia Fashi Studios.

Do I need a lot of expensive materials and how do I know what to buy ?

There is an initial investment in any hobby, craft or avocation. You will need to buy a few things to start out with but many of them you will accumulate as your progress moves forward. For sewing you will need  something to hold your supplies. Tackle boxes and craft boxes work great. Inside you will have:

  • Pincushion and straight pins
  • Hand sewing needles
  • Black, white and beige threads
  • A nippers to use at the machine
  • Beeswax for hand sewing
  • Tape measure
  • fabric scissors and a paper scissors
  • Tracing wheel
  • a Binder or note book for notes and hand outs

These as well as patterns are all available at your local fabric store and coming soon we will have some “kits” that you can purchase from us to get you started.  As you progress, you will discover other materials that you may need.

Can I learn pattern making with out knowing how to sew?

It is necessary that you have basic sewing skills to be able to sew together for your fit shells from pattern making.  Start with Sewing  if you are a true novice.

Is it easier to just change around a commercial pattern vs. making a pattern from scratch?

It has been our experience that you need to understand basic pattern making and fitting principles before you can understand how to adjust someone else’s pattern.

Yes, lengthening, shortening is simple and sometime just taking  in the side seams are simple however more complicated fit issues like small shoulders, wide hips, hollow backs, sloped shoulders, heavy arms, all  effect more than one point and take a clearer understanding of pattern basics to achieve.

How long does it take to learn how to sew or to make a pattern?

Everyone learns at a different pace and the more you already know the faster you should be able to learn new skills. You should be able to sew a simple top in your first class!

Pattern making takes a little longer as it is more complicated. depending on the method you use you should be able to start constructing your first original simple garment after 6-12 weeks of instruction depending on how much time you work with it away from class.

Do I have to be an artist to be able to draw so I can illustrate my designs?

No you do not have to be an artist. we will help you and give you easy instruction and shortcuts to be able to get your ideas on paper!