Tips for Sewing Cris Wood Sews Patterns

Hi there! I’d like to share with you a few of my tips to help you when making my patterns.  I hope you find them useful and they make your sewing more enjoyable!

fabric choices

The question sewers ask me the most often is about recommended fabric choice. My favorite choices all have one thing in common: a fluid drape.

A "fluid drape" describes a fabric that does not hold it's shape.  

Because my patterns have no tailoring, the fabric does all the work of showing the curves of the body. That is not to say that the styles are clingy, but the shape and construction of both the dress and the jacket require  fabric fluidity for an appealing look.

My favorite fabrics to use for my patterns are silk noil (an excellent choice for beginners as it is very easy to work with), linens, viscose, tencel and gauze. For warmer weather, a lightweight viscose or lightweight 100% linen is an excellent choice, while for cooler temperatures, a wool crepe or tencel twill works well. Fabrics to be avoided are ones that are better suited to tailoring: wool suiting, cotton twill, denim, and canvas.

Of course, there are so many substrates and blends that it is impossible to know with absolute certainty that a certain fabric is perfect for the look you want without seeing it in person or touching it. When you are unable to visit the fabric store, consider requesting a sample of a new-to-you fabric and see how it behaves after washing.

Envelope Dress in Cupro

 Throw Jacket in rayon

Now, onto specifics:


the envelope dress


All of my patterns are custom sized and designed to fit every body. This is achieved by eliminating tailoring, relying completely on drape, and using the wearer’s custom measurements and applying them to the pattern pieces. There is no danger of disproportionality between sizes - my garments will always fit, no matter your size or proportions.

That said, there is something to be aware of. In conventional patterns, a garment will be more fitted if it is made smaller. In the case of the Envelope Dress that thinking that will get the wearer into "bunchiness territory”. This dress is - in it's essence- a rectangle, taking it in on the sides means taking it in at the shoulder too. If the top of the dress is too small, it will bunch up and will be uncomfortable and ill-fitting. 



After cutting out your pieces, the Envelope Dress calls for “finishing” the edges of the fabric.  This can be achieved by either overlocking or using the zig zag stitch.  When using a zig zag stitch in the manner, I find that by lining up the center window of my presser foot with the edge of the fabric, I can achieve a neat appearance without trimming.  The thread will envelop the edge of the fabric, thus preventing excessive fraying.  I simply use my sewing machine’s standard zig zag size. Test a swatch to see how your fabric behaves using this technique.




After cutting the necessary length for your dress, fold the entire piece almost in half with selvages top and bottom, and leave a 1” underlay.   Then, cut on the fold.  When cutting on the fold, gently create some tautness by resting your hand on the fabric above where you are cutting while at the same time resting the blade of the scissors against the fold.  As you cut, slide the scissors parallel to the surface of your table or floor.  Before removing the top piece, mark the bottom piece with an “x”.  This will help you identify the larger piece for the next step.  Set the top/smaller piece aside.  Then you can cut the larger piece in half on the fold with selvages oriented top/bottom. Click here to watch me cut a mini-version!



I have a little trick for pressing the neck opening open after sewing the front seam and before topstitching .  Place the fabric so that the top of the neck opening is placed at (not around) the nose of the ironing board.  First, place the tip of the iron right at the opening point of the neck opening and use the weight of your iron to anchor the fabric while at the same time pinching and gently tugging on that ¾” stitched area.  You will find that the neck opening seam allowance falls open naturally, and you can continue to press - lifting your iron up only slightly so as not to lose that open fold.


the throw jacket


When you need to fold over a hem to the wrong side as you do for the top of the pocket or the hem of the jacket, mark the right side of the fabric with a fabric marker - drawing a line where the fold should be. In the case of the Throw Jacket, draw one line at 1” and then another 1” below the first.  This way, the markings are clear to see when you press to the wrong side.  You can use this same tip at the hem.




When pinning under the seam allowances on the center and side seams of the throw jacket, I use my ironing board to lay the jacket flat.  I find it’s much easier on my back and makes for more accurate folding as well.

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