Free Girl’s Dress Patterns and Tutorials x 6

Nina Makes Dress Patterns and Tutorials Compilation x 6

These gorgeous dress patterns are all from this Nina Makes blog. But I thought I would put them all together for you in a nice little compilation!  It’s making me very jealous that most of you are going into summer now, we’re heading towards winter and are lighting the wood burner!  But I get to look at these lovely summery dresses and remember the warmth.


1. Betty Bodice Dress

Betty Bodice Dress e

This was my first self designed bodice dress with a PDF pattern.  There are a few different versions, including adding capped sleeves.  This is a long line bodice with a gathered skirt and has a tie closure.  This dress makes a great summer staple or can be layered with stockings for the cooler weather.


2. A-Line Betty Bodice Dress

Betty Bodice Dress A Line   Collar a

This is a cute little edit on the regular Betty Bodice Dress turning it into a simple A-Line dress.  I used a button closure and added a cute little peter pan collar too!


3. Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress

Hermione Hi-Lo Hem Dress Pattern a

The Hermione dress is my most recent make in the dress department and poor Hannah was freezing for these photos!  This one is a stretch knit with bound neckline (using the same fabric) and arm holes, and a double needle finish.  But you can zigzag too if you don’t have a double needle.  No overlocker needed!


4. Stella Summer Dress

Stella Summer Dress a

My take on a pillow case style dress with a contrast hem and an easy bias edge with ties on the shoulders.  The front and back neckline are elasticated so you don’t have to undo the ties to take in on and off.  Nice and easy for those independent little girls!


5. Stella Summer Dress V.2

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 resize

Version 2 of the Stella summer dress has a synched in elasticated waist and simple flat shoulder straps that tuck neatly into the neckline.  This gives a quite different look to this pillowcase style dress while being easy to put on and light and breezy for summer!


6. Gorgeous Girl’s Dress

Gloria Dress Header

Last but not least is this lovely dress I upcycled from a friends failed project.  From a sack like fit on a petite little girl to a gorgeous bodice dress, with a slight gather on the skirt and a dome closure.  Simple is sometimes just the cutest!

I hope you have enjoyed this compilation!  All these patterns and tutorials are available in my Tutorials Page.  I would love to see any dresses (or other items) you create using my patterns and tutorials, please share and tag me on social media!

Holes in the knees 3 – Inserts

Holes in the knees 3 c

Yes I am back on the holes in the knees band wagon!  I have turned them into short leggings, and added cute patches.  But then my MIL gave me this idea and I just had to try it out.  It is easier and quicker than adding patches and you can add/reduce length as much as you like.  Both sound pretty good in my book!

Holes in the knees 3 a

You can even stand around in mid-air wearing these!  Well Hannah can, I got on the trampoline not so long ago…you realise you are not as light and strong as you were as a kid!!!

Holes in the knees 3 (24)

I love the look of the band around her knees!  You can use any stretch (knit) fabric you like.  Mine is slightly heavier than the original leggings (shop bought) and it works fine.  I wouldn’t go too heavy, then you’ll get bulky seams either side of the insert piece.

What You Will Need

  • Leggings (with or without holey knees!)
  • Two small pieces of knit fabric for inserts – mine were 6” (15.2cm) long by 12” (30.5cm).  One for each leg.
  • Pins. Overlocker (Sewing Machine ok too), thread

Step 1 – Measure and Cut Fabric

Holes in the knees 3 (4)

Firstly cut out the holey piece.  I removed a 3” (7.5cm) section to remove the holes and any overly stretched fabric.

Holes in the knees 3 (3)

I had small off cut pieces that were almost the right size to work with, but you can lay your fabric on top of your leggings as a guide.  Make sure the stretch of the insert is going horizontally across the leggings.  Decide how long you want the insert to be.  Hannah’s leggings were 7/8 length and I wanted to make them longer.  I removed 3” to cut out the holes, so I wanted to add those back plus the extra length I wanted.  I decided on 3” (removed piece) + 2.5” (extra length) + 0.5” (seam allowance), my total added up neatly to 6” (15cm).

As in my calculations above your piece will need to be 1/2” (1.2cm) larger to allow for the seam, at the top and bottom. Add more allowance 3/4” (2cm) should be fine if you are using a standard machine.

Holes in the knees 3 (5)

Cut out your pieces leaving the width a little long, so that when folded double and lined up on the leggings it overhangs the seam side a little (see photo above).  You can see I have marked the excess to remove with a pen.  I have left the 1/4” (0.6cm) seam allowance on (or 3/8” (1cm) for standard machines).

Holes in the knees 3 (6)

Pin the edges together, knit fabrics have a tendency to roll up and you wouldn’t want to miss on layer when sewing.

Step 2 – Overlock Side Seam

Holes in the knees 3 (7)

Overlock the side seam so that the cutting blade lines up with your pen mark.

Holes in the knees 3 (8)

This is what you should end up with.

* If you are using a standard machine stitch the seam using a 3/8” (1cm) seam allowance using a small zigzag stitch.  You can then trim off the excess, you don’t need to finish the edges as the knit fabric shouldn’t fray.

Step 3 – Sewing Pieces Together

Holes in the knees 3 (9)

Leave your insert piece inside out and slide over the leggings, which are the right way around.  This way they will be right sides facing each other.  Line up the raw edges, and the seam needs to line up too.  Make sure that you insert is the right way up!  You don’t want the narrower end at the top.

Holes in the knees 3 (10)

I like to pin the seams together first.  I line up the seams and fold the seam allowances one each way.  That way there isn’t a thick lump with them all to one side.

Holes in the knees 3 (11)

Pin on the inside the rest of the way around, making sure it is lining up nicely.  It is ok if one side is slightly longer than the other, just spread the gather evenly.

Holes in the knees 3 (12)

Starting at the seam overlock the two raw edges together.  You can lightly stretch the fabric to make the sides line up, but don’t overdo it or you will end up with a wobbly seam.

Holes in the knees 3 (13)

Now you should have something that looks like this!

Holes in the knees 3 (14)

And once turned around the right way you get to see what it is going to look like.

Holes in the knees 3 (15)

Now just attaching the bottom piece.  Lay them out like above, with the bottom piece inside out.  Pull the upper leg inside the bottom piece.

Holes in the knees 3 (17)

Pin into place and sew just like you did for the first join.

Holes in the knees 3 (18)

Here it is a little clearer to see with the colours this way around!

Holes in the knees 3 (21)

And there you have some nice knee inserts!  These are grey with a neon-orange stripe, I do love a bit of neon!

Just one more way to get some more life out of those leggings with holes in the knees!  I would like to try the inserts on an angle next…I won’t bore you with another tutorial but will share the pictures on Instagram.  Now just to wait for Hannah to go through the knees on another pair!

What is your favourite way to fix those holey knees?

Semi Sleeved Poncho Pattern + Tutorial

Semi Sleeved Poncho c
I have to be honest and say other than dress-ups I have never been a big poncho fan.  They always have that slightly hobo vibe and I don’t mean the chic kind!  That was till I saw a semi sleeved poncho…
Semi Sleeved Poncho (42)
My Oma (Grandma) sent Hannah a semi sleeved poncho in one of her parcels this year.  I looked at it and thought…hmmm a poncho…yay!  Then I had Hannah try it on and I loved it!
Semi Sleeved Poncho b
Poor kid is covered in mosquito bites after our second camping trip this year.  I think we had a wee visitor in the tent on the last night!  This poncho is a little different to the one Oma sent but the idea is the same.  A poncho with two additional seams up the sides to create a semi kind of sleeve.  This front fabric is a satin (I believe) and the back in lightweight knit.  These are both gifts from friends de-stashing so I’m not exactly sure what they are!


What You’ll Need

  • Fabric – At least one needs to be a stretchy knit.  You can have both front and back knit, or font woven and back knit.  As a square the pattern piece measures 53.5cm (21”) high by 66cm (26”) wide so your fabric will need to be at least these dimensions.
  • Knit Bias – I cut strips of the knit fabric I used for the back for this as I didn’t have any stretchy bias.  Instructions below!
  • Double Needle
  • Sewing Machine  (You can use an overlocker in a few places but I didn’t)
  • Thread
  • Pattern – You can download my PDF Pattern for a Girls Size 7.  If you need a different size you can use the pattern as a shape guide and go from there.  The design is very simple so you could easily make your own pattern using a top you already have as a size guide.


Step 1 – Cutting Fabric

Semi Sleeved Poncho (8)
Excuse the join in the table it is school holidays here and I have to work around a stack of colouring in the kids were doing!  You will need to cut a front and a back piece.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (6)
For the back piece fold your fabric and line up the edge of the pattern on the fold.  Your pattern will look a little different as I am using my original hand drawn draft.  Pin or use weight to hold in place and cut around the pattern.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (3)
Now repeat for the front piece with one little alteration.  Place a piece of tape over the ‘front’ neckline right at the fold edge, then cut down the curve of the front neckline to the edge of the tape.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (4)
This allows you to fold it under and out of the way without having to cut and print to seperate pattern pieces!  Saving paper and loads of time!
Semi Sleeved Poncho (10)
The last pieces to cut are the knit strips for the edging.  I use a regular ruler for this which is 4cm wide. 
Semi Sleeved Poncho (12)
You will need roughly about 3 meters (118”).  It is ok to have joins, I will show you how I did those below!


Step 2 – Add Front Neckline

Semi Sleeved Poncho (14)
I seems like an odd way to start but it really is easier this way!  Pin your knit strip onto the right side of the fabric (Update: stretch the knit fabric a little as you go for the front too, this will make it sit flatter at the end).  Leave a little bit of the knit strip overhanging at both sides.  With the right sides facing and the raw edge lining up.  Carry on till the whole front neckline is pinned.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (16)
Sew in place using straight stitch, unless you are using a knit fabric for the front too then use a small zigzag stitch (see the next step).  I used a 1/4” seam allowance but I would recommend a little larger like 3/8”.  Which is what I’ll be doing next time!
Semi Sleeved Poncho (17)
It should look like above.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (18)
And from the right side.


Step 3 – Add Back Neckline

Semi Sleeved Poncho (26)
You pin the back neckline just the same as the front and again stretch the knit strip slightly as you go.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (27)
Sew using a small zigzag stitch so that it retains the stretch.  This will allow the neckline to stretch over the head.


Step 4 – Joining the Knit Strips

Semi Sleeved Poncho (19)
You may need to join the knit strips together to make them long enough to go right round the bottom and sides.  To do this you take the two knit strips and lay them right sides facing one on top of the other with the end lining up.  Sew with a straight stitch using a 1cm (3/8”) seam allowance.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (20)
Then trim off the excess.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (21)
When turned the right way up it will look like above.  You don’t need to join at the usual 45° angle as the knit strip is stretchy unlike regular bias binding.


Step 5 – Add Edge Every Where Else!

Semi Sleeved Poncho (24)
Pin and sew the binding all the way around the sides and bottom of the front and back in the same way as the neckline.  The only places that don’t need edging are the shoulder seams.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (25)
When you get to a join it is best if it is sewn folded open like obove.  It reduces the bulk of the seam, but if yours pulled over during sewing don’t panic it will still work fine!


Step 6 – Sew Shoulder Seams

Semi Sleeved Poncho (28)
Lay your two pieces with the right sides facing each other with the shoulder seam together.  Making sure you line up the seams of the knit strips at each end.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (29)
Fold the seams over outwards on top of the knit strip rather than the fabric.  This is important otherwise folding the knit strip over will not work and you will be able to see the raw edge on the inside.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (31)
Sew using a 1cm (3/8”) seam allowance, and carry on the seam in the same line over the knit strip.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (32)
Trim off any excess.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (33)
Now you could use your overlocker to finish the shoulder seam but I have chosen to zigzag the raw edge to prevent fraying.  The main reason for this is that my overlocker still has black thread in it and I couldn’t be bothered changing it for such a small job.  Another plus side people who don’t have an overlocker will not feel left out!  Note how I didn’t sew the knit strip, it will be folded over so doesn’t need edging.
Repeat for the other shoulder.


Step 7 – Finish Edging

Semi Sleeved Poncho (34)
I started with the neckline.  Fold over the knit strip and pin in place.  I like to do this inside out and pin on the right side.  But do whatever works for you!  The main fabric should remain flat and the knit strip should fold around to encase it.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (35)
Here it is all pinned and still inside out.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (36)
Time to dig out that double needle.  If you don’t have one you can use a wide zigzag but it won’t look quite the same.  Mine is quite wide at 4mm you can use any width you like.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (37)
Starting at a shoulder seam lockstitch (or sew a few stitches and reverse over them).  Then sew the whole way around the neckline, and lockstitch again at the end.  Line up the left hand needle so that it sews on the folded knit strip.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (38)
It should look like this!
Semi Sleeved Poncho (39)
Now you just need to trim off the excess knit strip.  I use very small scissors for this to reduce the risk of cutting the wrond fabric.  BE CAREFULL!  You really don’t want to cut the wrong layer now or cut the stitching either.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (40)
There you have a finished neckline.  It is not sitting perfectly yet but I havent pressed it yet either!
Semi Sleeved Poncho (41)
Time to getting pinning and so the bottom/sides in the same way.  I just about used all my pins only 4 to spare!  Then carry on and sew just like you did the neckline, all the way around in one big go.


Step 8 – Sew Semi Sleeves

Semi Sleeved Poncho (43)
Last but not least is the semi sleeves of this poncho.  Well I suppose it is optional if you wanted a regular poncho!  Lay you poncho right side facing up and make sure the edges line up.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (45)
On your pattern cut the side seam dotted line.  Lay your pattern piece on top lining up the shoulder seam and neckline.  Fold the ‘sleeve’ section out of the way and mark the seam line with a pencil or marker.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (46)
The line is hard to see in the photo but I have pinned along the line, making sure the bottom seams line up.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (47)
Here is the view from the back, make sure you catch both layers with the pins!
Semi Sleeved Poncho (48)
Now you are ready to sew!  Start at the bottom seam making sure they are still lined up, lock stitch and sew following the line right to the end.  Then at the end lockstitch very thoroughly as this point is the most likely to come undone.
Semi Sleeved Poncho (49)
Repeat for the second side seam using the same pattern upside down.
Semi Sleeved Poncho a
It wouldn’t be Hannah without a barrage of silly faces!
You could even colour block this with a centre seam…might be more of these coming!

Holes in the knees 2 – Patches!

Holes in the knees patches
Hannah has been at it again!  Two pairs of leggings this time a black 7/8 length and a navy 3/4 length pair.  I would usually just cut and hem them to turn them into short leggings for under skirts/dresses.  I have a tutorial on that too if that’s what you’re looking for!
Holes in the knees 2 Patches
But then I saw a great post by Rachel from Stitched Together (link to post) in which she had made Mini Briar Tops and Mini Virginia Leggings for three of her daughters.  They are absolutely gorgeous and the leggings have very cute patches on the knees.  They each had a different shape, Oval, Hearts and Cats.  So instead of short leggings I was inspired to patch this pair!

What you’ll need

  • Fabric – Small amount of knit fabric – I wanted it to maintain it’s stretch to prevent further tearing!
  • Thread
  • Regular Sewing Machine (Overlocker Optional)
  • Unpicker (Seam Ripper) is the most important for this one!

Step 1 – Unpick!!!

Holes in the knees 2 (3)
That most loved and hated of tools…is going to get a bit of use here especially on the ovelocked pairs!  Depending on your leggings you can unpick either the side seam or the inseam.  My don’t have side seams so the inseam it is.
Holes in the knees 2 (4)
You don’t need to unpick the whole seam but you do need to go a fair way past the holes so that you can lay the area flat(ish).
Holes in the knees 2 (5)
Here you can see I’ve gone a good way passed the hole.

Step 2 – Patch Hole

Holes in the knees 2 (6)

It’s never a clean tear with kids so I like to tidy up the hole so that there are no lose pieces that can be pulled or tickly later on.
Holes in the knees 2 (7)
I just use small scissors to trim the hole so that all the rolled edges and torn pieces are removed.  Leaving a nice tidy hole.
Holes in the knees 2 (8)
Cut a piece of fabric quite a bit larger than your hole.
Holes in the knees 2 (9)
Place it on top of the hole, so that the hole is in the center.  On the inside of the leggings.
Holes in the knees 2 (10)
Turn over and pin on the right side of the fabric.
Holes in the knees 2 (11)
Sew on the edge of the legging fabric in zigzag stitch all the way around the edge.
Holes in the knees 2 (12)
This won’t be seen at the end but it just tidies it all up nicely and makes it more sturdy and hard wearing.  Also if you just patch straight over the top it creates a pocket on the inside…my kids love the sand pit…I find piles of sand in all sorts of random places!
Holes in the knees 2 (13)
This is how it looks form the inside.
Holes in the knees 2 (14)
The last part of this step is to just trim off the excess!

Step 3 – Cutting Patches

Holes in the knees 2 (20)

For a start I thought I’d keep it simple and go with the old fashioned shape I remember my patches being as a kid.  A kind of oval/rectangle combo.  I used the leggings as a guide and cut a piece of fabric the right length to cover the entire knee area where the fabric was a little thinner.
Holes in the knees 2 (16)
I folded the patch in half…
Holes in the knees 2 (17)
Then in quarters…
Holes in the knees 2 (18)
Then I cut the shape free hand.  If you feel more comfortable drawing it first and then cutting out, do it that way!
Holes in the knees 2 (19)
Once you fold it out it should look similar to above.  But since it’s free hand each pair will be a little different.
Holes in the knees 2 (22)
I then used the original as a template to cut out the second patch.

Step 4 – Attaching Patches

Holes in the knees 2 (24)

Place in position and pin in place.  I found this easier with the leg folded double for the start, till pinned like above.
Holes in the knees 2 (26)
Then folding out to pin the last side.  With it folded out right at the start I found it difficult to get it to lay nice and flat.
Holes in the knees 2 (27)
Now zigzag the patch in place.  Sew close to the edge the whole way around the patch.  You can see it is a little puckered as stretch fabric likes to do, but a quick press with the iron will reduce this a lot.  But as you can see in the photos of Hannah at the start it stretches while wearing so becomes invisible!

Step 5 – Sew Unpicked Seam

Holes in the knees 2 a
Pin the seam together.  As you can see I use A LOT of pins which is a little unlike me…but the edges had a tendency to roll up.  I didn’t want to have one roll under as I overlocked and have to unpick it all again!  If you don’t have/aren’t overlocking zigzag work great for this step too.
Holes in the knees 2 b
Sew the seam over at the hem to prevent it coming undone and so it sits nicely flat.  You can tuck the overlocking tail in this fold and trim the end off afterwards.
Rather cute I think!   A great way to keep a few of her leggings long for the cooler days.

Ruffle Knit Tube Skirt

Ruffle Knit Tube Skirt d_www
You might recognize this fabric from my Pencil Skirt!  Hannah liked it so much and wanted one for herself.  I had a few remnants left over so thought I’d give it whirl.
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Well as cute as it is it is a little too short for a 7 year old!  It’s not really a wear tights underneath kind of skirt either…

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Simple solution add a knit ruffled hem!
I don’t know about you but I think that is much cuter, and a better length for a little girl!  And extra brownie points as it now twirls!
Now for the tutorial, well tutorials really!

What You’ll need

  • Fabric – Knit mine is ruffled but any knit you like is fine!
  • 25mm (1”) Elastic for the waistband
  • Thread, Pins, Measuring tape etc
  • Sewing Machine
  • Overlocker (Optional)

Step 1 – Measure and Cut your fabric

You will need to measure the pieces there is no printed pattern.  You need the waist measurement, Hannah’s is 21”.  You don’t want the skirt too tight but not too lose either.  Take the waist measurement and add 3 inches (this is for a size 7/8) if yours is much bigger add a little more, or if smaller add a little less.  Roughly between 3 and 5 inches as a guide.  Due to my fabric size restrictions I did two pieces with two side seams, you can just to do a single seam if you like.
 Ruffle Knit Tube Skirt 1 (2)_www
I was restricted in the length too but you can make yours any length you like.  A great way to work it out is to measure a skirt that you already have.  Take this measurement and add 3 inches for waist and hem allowance.  Or you can use an online chart to get the average measurements!  As a quick example Hannah’s is, 21” + 3” = 24”.

Step 2 – Overlock Bottom Edges (Optional) * Only for ruffled fabric

Ruffle Knit Tube Skirt 1 (4)_www

Overlock the underneath layer as it is difficult to hem the ruffled fabric.  You can just leave it raw most knit fabrics won’t fray, it’s up to you!

Step 3 – Pin and sew the side seams

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With ruffled fabric you need to be very careful when pinning to make sure it lines up and the ruffles are not caught up the wrong way.
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Repeat for the second side.
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If you overlocked and are not hemming you will need to tuck in the ends of the thread.  This just prevents it coming undone while wearing.
Ruffle Knit Tube Skirt e_www

Step 4 – Adding a Waistband

Cut your elastic 2 inches smaller than your waist measurement, for example Hannah’s is 21” – 2” = 19”.
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Join the elastic using zigzag so that it sits nice and flat.  I have a full tutorial on that here.
Ruffle Knit Tube Skirt 1 (13)_www
Pin the elastic evenly on the inside of the waistband.  I use the seams and pin the elastic in quarters to ensure it is even.  I showed all the steps in the Colour Block Rugby Shorts tutorial in Step 5.
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Sew the elastic in place using an overlocker (or zigzag works great too), just be careful not to cut the elastic with the overlocker!
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It should look a little like this!
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Fold the waistband over and pin in place.
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Sew the waistband in using zigzag stitch, stretching the fabric as you go.  There you have it a perfect waistband without any chance it is going to twist inside the casing or roll up for that matter.  All big plusses in my world!

Step 5 – Hem

If you are hemming go ahead and do that however you like!  You can just fold over and zigzag or use a double needle.  Another cute finish is a lettuce hem which you can do using your regular sewing machine.  Check out Step 9 below for the details!

Step 6 – Adding the ruffle hem

 Ruffle Knit Tube Skirt 1 (30)_www
Cut a strip of knit fabric twice the length of the original fabric.  This allows for the ruffles!  I cut mine 48 inches (Hannah’s waist 21” + 3” allowance equals 24” x 2 equals 48” for this piece.  I made mine 6 inches wide to get the length I wanted.

Step 7 – Gather one long side of the strip

 Ruffle Knit Tube Skirt 1 (31)_www
I use a very easy technique to gather fabric.  Only one line of stitching and minimal pulling.  Set your thread tension as high as it will go (mine is 9) and your stitch length as long as it will go (mine is 4).  Then sew straight down one long edge (top) about 3/8” in from the side.  And there you have ruffles!  DON’T lockstitch and leave the threads at the start and end long.  You can pull on one thread (I find the lower works better for me) to make the gather tighter, or you can wriggle it along to loosen it off.  Again I have a Superhero Cape tutorial with all the photos and instructions!
Ruffle Knit Tube Skirt 1 (32)_www

Step 8 – Sew

 Ruffle Knit Tube Skirt 1 (33)_www
Now if you were doing this from the start you could attach the ruffle hem before sewing the side seam(s), it’s probably a little easier but as all layers stretch it’s not too bad this way!  Sew the side seam either with the overlocker or zigzag.
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Pin the ruffle hem in place under the bottom layer of the skirt.
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Sew the new hem in place with zigzag stitch close to the edge.
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Here is the inside, not super tidy but not too bad for a fix up!
You can stretch out the seam so that the gathering stitch snaps.  That way the skirt will still be stretchy with the zigzag.  You can unpick it if you really like, but I’ll deal with it if any stray threads come lose later!  It won’t cause it to unravel the zigzag is holding it securely.

Step 9 – Lettuce Hem

Ruffle Knit Tube Skirt 1 (39)_www

Fold up the hem by about an inch, and pin in place.
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Set your machine to zigzag and the stitch length to F, for me this is just after 1.  As you can see above I had it set at about 1/2 but that was to wide, so I reduced to F.  Sew on the folded edge so one side of the zigzag goes around the folded edge.  It also helps if you pull the fabric from the front and back while sewing.  This is just to hold it taught don’t pull it through the machine.
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There you have a wiggly lettuce hem!
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Just trim off the excess and you are finished!
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Great simple summer staple and so comfortable and stretchy!

Stella Summer Dress Version 2

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 a

Don’t like tying ties?  I find it a bit of a hassle as they cant tie them themselves if they come undone.  Also not great for school swimming etc.  So I have made a tie-less version!  Since the front and back neckline are elasticated it will go on and off easily.

Stella Summer Dress Version 2 b

You can also choose to an elastic waist…or not for a loser fit.

What you’ll need

  • Fabric – Extra Piece for straps, you will need two at 5cm (2”) wide, the length is adjustable for the best fit.  I used 20cm (8”) for a size 7.
  • Extra elastic for waist (optional)  I used 3mm elastic x 53cm (21”).


Step 1 – See Stella Summer Dress Post

First up you need to check out my original Stella Summer Dress post.  It has all the details you will need to get started.  While cutting your fabric don’t forget to cut the extra two pieces for the straps.  Complete up to Step 5 and head back over here to finish in this style.


Step 2 – Finish Armholes

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Since we don’t need to make the ties we won’t need to use bias binding for the armholes.

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Start by overlocking the armhole, overlock with the right side of the fabric facing up.

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Head over to that trusty iron and press the seam over a little larger than the width of the overlocker seam.

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Pin in place on the right side of the fabric.

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Sew in place with a small seam allowance.  Making sure you are catching the overlocked edge underneath.  And that is the armhole finished! 

Note: By folding over the seam the arm hole is larger than if you finished it with bias binding.  This is good as it leaves the extra needed to fold over the neckline in place of using bias there (like in the original version).  So if you want to bias edge the armhole you will need to bias the neckline too or add extra seam allowance to the neckline.


Step 3 – Create Neckline

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Fold the neckline over by 1cm (3/8”) and press in place.

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Fold over again by 2.5cm (1”) and press in place.

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Sewing on the right side of the fabric use your machine guides to sew just under an inch from the top folded edge.


Step 4 – Prepare Straps

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Press the pieces in half lengthwise with the right sides facing each other.

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Sew with a small seam allowance (approx. 1/8”) turn around the right way and press!  Then you should have two like above!


Step 5 – Attach Straps and Elastic

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Feed you elastic into the neckline, making sure you leave a good tail sticking out.

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Insert this tail into the strap you just made.

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Tuck in about 1cm (3/8”) and sew the elastic in place.  You can see the white stitches on the dark blue polka dot fabric.

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Feed the elastic through a bit further until the end of the strap is inside the neckline by about 1cm (3/8”).

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Sew in place using a straight stitch, sew close to the edge of the neckline on the right side of the fabric.

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You can go over a couple of times for extra strength.

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Repeat with the other side of the same strap.  Attach the elastic and feed it through, sew in place just like the first side.

And again for the second side.  Tip:  use a pin to hold the elastic in place in the neckline to prevent it pulling the end inside.


Step 6 – Adding Elastic Waist (optional)

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If you you want to add an elastic waist you will need to measure the child’s waist or go by an average size, plenty of charts online.  Sew this measurement into a loop, making sure it is not twisted!!  I like to sew the join in zigzag.

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Find the middle of the elastic and mark.  Hold the seam end folded together and the other fold will be the middle.   This post has all the details on finding the middles of the elastic!

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Place in a pin in the seam on both sides at the height you want the waist band.  For my size 7 this was 14cm (5 1/2”).  Next time I would like to try it a little higher up to give more a of a princess style…what do you think?

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Pin the elastic in these two points in the seam.  Use the elastic join on one seam and the pencil mark you made earlier on the other seam.

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With all the gathers it is impossible to measure accurately from the top so measure from the bottom!  Start at a pin  and check the measurement, mine is 33cm (13”).

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Then with the dress laying flat measure the same amount up from the bottom in three places and mark with a pin.  Once all measured stretch the elastic from the side seams and line up the stretched elastic with the pins and pin in place.  This makes sure the gathers are spread evenly.

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Time to sew it on!  Start at the side seam without the elastic join, sew and reverse a few stitches.

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Pull from the next pin (you can see it sticking out from under the front of my thumb), and sew with a straight stitch.  When you get near the pin stop and remove it and pull from the next pin, until you have sewn all the way around.  Lastly reverse a few stitches to lock in place.

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Here is the finished inside view!  A synched in waist the easy way!

Happy Sewing!

Stella Summer Dress

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This really is a Stella summer dress…I know but I love a good pun!  After seeing a multitude of ‘pillowcase’ dresses I thought I better do my own take on these simple yet stunning dresses.  My main gripe would be the lack of sizing information being available in one place, and that it actually makes any sense!

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I thought I would save you all the trouble and scour the internet finding all the details, checking and editing them to my taste of course, then compiling them here for you.  So this time there is a PDF pattern for the armholes, which also has the sizing chart for the dresses!  I have even converted it all in metric (cm) and imperial (inches), so everyone can work in their preferred units!

I will write this tutorial for a Size 2 as an example!

What you will need

  • Fabric – Use chart to work out dimensions for a Size 2 you will need two rectangles of 46cm x 56cm (18” x 22”)
  • Elastic – 1.25cm (1/2”) wide by 18cm (7”)
  • Bias Binding
    • Single Fold 2.5cm (1”) wide (while folded) same width as the fabric so 46cm (18”) for Size 2.  This is optional you can just fold and turn the neckline
    • Double Fold 1cm (3/8”) – 140cm (55”) cut in half
  • Thread, sewing machine, pins, iron.  An overlocker is optional you can use French seams or zigzag instead of overlocking.
  • PDF Pattern you can print and cut out the armhole guides sizes 6 months through to 9 years.  Click this link to download the Stella Summer Dress + Size Charts PDF.


Step 1 – Cut Fabric

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As you can see I have added a contrast hem, you can add one any width you like.  You just need to allow an extra inch for the extra seam.  For example my Size 2 is 56cm (22”) total length.  I added a 5” contrast hem, so I had to take 4” off the main fabric measurement, which worked out at 18” main fabric + 5” contrast hem = 23” total.


Step 2 – Attaching Contrast Hem (Optional skip to Step 3)

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With the right sides of the fabric facing sew the two layers together using a 1cm (3/8”) seam allowance.  Overlock or zigzag the raw edge, then press the seam over with your iron.

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I then topstitched the seam to keep it sitting flat and I like how it looks!  I haven’t shown all the steps, so if you need more help check out my Contrast Hem Skirt which has all the steps!


Step 3 – Sew Sides

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You need to pin with the right sides of the fabric facing each other (inside out).  If you have added a contrast hem then match that carefully!!!  You can adjust the top or bottom edge if they don’t quite line up but the contrast hem seem will be obvious.  Sew with a 1cm 3/8” seam allowance, and overlock or zigzag the edge.

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Repeat for the other side, and press the seams flat.


Step 4 – Hem

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Press the hem over 1cm (3/8”) half an inch is fine too a couple of mm here is not going to make too much difference.

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Then fold over again and press with a 2.5cm (1”) fold.

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Sew in place.  This would be a great time for a decorative stitch or a blind hem too!


Step 5 – Cutting Armholes

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Now you should have a tube with a nice hem at the bottom and a raw edge at the top.

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Print out the PDF (link above) and cut out the size you need.  Place the long straight side on the seam edge and cut around it.  This will make the armhole.


Step 6 – Bias Neckline

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Time to pin the single fold bias to the neckline.  Pin on the right side of the fabric with the edge of the bias just slightly short from the raw edge of the fabric.

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Sew in the crease closest to the edge.

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Press flat with your iron.

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Fold over so that the aqua fabric is just visible and press again.  Not the best photo sorry, I should’ve moved the back layer away from underneath!  But you can see how the aqua polka dot fabric is visible next to the bias edge.

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Topstitch the top edge.  I sewed approximately 1/8” in from the side using the guides on the machine.  You can get a special quilting foot for this I have recently found out, but I don’t have one and I have other things I want more!  But if you have one by all means use it!

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Repeat with the other edge of the bias binding.  I prefer to sew on the right side of the fabric as the machine stitches are tidier on the top.  It may not be noticeable on your machine so d whatever works for you!


Step 7 – Add Elastic

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Feed the elastic part way through the tube created by the bias using a safety pin.  Just so far that the end of the elastic sticks out by half an inch.

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Sew in place between the two seams and trim off the excess.

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Feed the elastic through the rest of the way.  Make sure it is not twisted!  Leave the same half inch of elastic sticking out and pin in place about an inch away from the edge (leave this pin in!).  So that you can sew without removing pin!  Sew the same as the other side.

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Now you will have a nicely gathered front, repeat for the back!


Step 8 – Bias Ties

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Cut your double folded bias to length.  I am using knots not bows so I use the smaller measurement 27cm (10.5”).

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Pin the gathers back from the edges a little, this will make it easier to get a nice seam on the bias.

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Fold the bias in half to find the middle and line this up with the side seam.  Pin the bias on in the same way as for the neckline.   That is on the right side a little in from the edge.  Sew in the crease closest to the raw edge starting from the top of the neckline.  Don’t sew past edge of the top of the neckline as this will be visible once folded back up.

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Fold the bias over and pin in place.  Make sure that the underneath layer is at least as far over as the top, that way you will catch both layers when sewing from the top side.

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Fold over the ends of the bias like above.

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Sew from one folded end all the way to the other, stay nice and close to the edge.  Being careful to catch both layers.  If you are having trouble catching both layers you can zigzag this instead!

And repeat for on the other side!

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And there you have a gorgeous light and breezy summer dress for your little girl!  Looks so cute and comfortable I want to wear one!  Somehow I don’t think the cute factor would carry over to adult sizes!

Contrast Hem Skirt + French Seams

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I have a wee obsession with French Seams at the moment!  I just love the neat finish and how simple it is.  I also like that you can make a very professional looking garment without an overlocker/serger.  Which is great if you are just starting out with sewing and a standard machine is all you have.

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I made the Contrast Hem Skirt as part of my All About Skirts theme back in July this year.  I loved this simple skirt.  It has a nice contrast which I always like and this gives it a great look with only sewing straight lines.  It is the perfect project for a beginner.  So I thought it was time I did a French Seam version!

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What you will need

  • Fabric – One main and one contrast.  You can make this without the contrast too.
  • Elastic 25mm (1”) wide
  • General Supplies – Thread, pins, iron
  • 112cm (44”) of double fold bias binding (optional)

NOTE: Always lock stitch at the start and end of each seam.  Lock stitch if you have the function on your machine, or sew a few stitches and reverse over them to prevent the seam coming undone!


Step 1 – Measuring

This skirt is made by measuring the fabric rather than using a pattern.  If you want to make more than one it would be quicker to draw your pieces on paper and cut them out.  Then you would only have to measure once!

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I used standard size chart that I found online.  There are so many you can just Google it until you have one that is in the measurement units you like working with.  This one I have used in the past.

Lets work out the width first.  For a size 4, the waist was 56cm (22”), for a nice full gathered skirt you need to double this number 56cm (22”) x 2 is 112cm (44”).  We do not need to allow a seam allowance even though we are using French seams as there is plenty of gather a centimetre or inch isn’t going to matter.

Now the length.  You need to decide how long you want the skirt to be.  Then add 12.5cm (5”) to that measurement.  You can make the contrast hem any size you like but as long as both pieces add up to the desired length + 12.5cm (5”) you will be fine!

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I decided to hem the bottom in bias binding, if you like the look of that then you can reduce the add on from 12.5cm (5”) to 9cm (a little over 3.5”).

My skirt is a short one to wear over tights, finished length it is 25cm long.


Step 2 – Cutting

Using your measurements cut out your pieces.  If your fabric is wide enough you can cut it in one piece.  If like me your fabric is too narrow, then you can cut it in two parts.


If you cut in two pieces you will have two side seams, if you cut in one piece you will only need to do one side seam.

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Note:  Do the same for both fabrics.  So if one is too narrow then cut both fabrics in two pieces.


Step 3 – Sew Contrast and Main Fabric together

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Pin the the two pieces together with wrong sides facing each other (right way around – the opposite to how you would normally sew a seam).

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Sew this with a small 1/4” seam allowance.

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Press the seam to one side.  It will usually want to go in one direction just roll with it for now!

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Fold the fabric closest to you (red one) over top of the contrast and line up with the edge of the contrast fabric.  So that you are pressing them both flat at the seam.

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A little easier to see the finished result in this picture.  It should now be right sides of the fabric facing each other.  Next you need to sew down the seam again using a 3/8” seam allowance.  I don’t use pins for this as it has just been pressed in place, feel free to pin it if your fabric isn’t pressing well or you just prefer it!

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This will encase the raw edge in between the two seams.  Press again, with the seam folding towards the bottom (hem) of the skirt.  Gravity will be pulling it this way when it is being worn!

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If you have any threads sticking out of your seam like above,

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pull them gently and most of them will come out.  If not trim them with scissors as close to the seam as possible while gently pulling on the thread.

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You can’t even see where they were!

Repeat this step with the second piece if you cut in two pieces!


Step 4 – Sew Side Seams

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Pin the side seam together starting from the seam in between the two fabrics.  You need that point to line up, it doesn’t matter if the top of bottom edge isn’t perfect.

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You sew this in just the same way as the first seam.  With wrong sides of the fabric facing, sew the seam with a 1/4” seam allowance.

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After pressing it will look like this.  The seams don’t line up perfectly at the bottom but don’t panic this is the inside.  Sew with a 3/8” seam allowance as before.

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Here is the same seam folded out after sewing.  Pretty happy with the way that lined up!

Repeat for the other side if you have one.


Step 5 – Waistband

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Fold over and press the waistband by 1/2”

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Then fold over and press again using your elastic as a guide.  You want it to be a little bigger than the elastic so that there is room for the elastic to fit inside the waistband.  I like to cut my elastic before doing this.  You will need your waist measurement in my example 56cm (22”) and subtract an 2.5cm (1”) from that.  So my elastic is 53.5cm (21”) long.

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I again don’t pin this (I probably should!) but I do pin the centre back to leave an opening to thread the elastic through.

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Change the thread to one matching the main fabric (or contrast if you like!) and sew the seam slightly larger than than the 1” line on your machine.  For mine the 30mm mark lines up perfectly.  Leave the gap between the pins open!

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Using a safety pin feed the elastic through the waist band.

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Pull the elastic out so the skirt is as gathered as possible.  The more elastic you have pulled out the easier it is to sew together.  There are several ways to join elastic together, I have a post on that here!

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As you can see these days I tend to overlap the elastic a little more (1 1/2”) and don’t sew right on the edge.  Either way you like really, my kids have clothes with all the different methods and I haven’t had one come undone yet!

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Stretch out the skirt so that the elastic pops back inside.  I like to get the open area sitting fairly flat so I use pins to keep the gathers away!  I usually sew the tag on before sewing the waistband but this works too.  Just sew the gap closed lining up the end of the first seam with the needle on your machine.

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Step 6 – Hem the Bottom

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I decided to bias bind the hem, if you do this make sure it is a nice soft bias binding.  If you want instructions on attaching bias binding I have a post called Struggling with bias.

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You can always hem as normal.  Fold and press over by 1/2” and again just like the waistband.  Only you don’t need to make it as wide as it won’t need elastic inside it..  I like a quite narrow hem on these skirts so it is not too bulky.

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There you have a skirt that looks good enough to wear inside out…well almost!

What is your favourite way to finish your seams?