Recently in Tutorials Category

Easter Basket Tutorial

March 31, 2014


Materials (for one basket):

½ yd. Fabric A Quilting Cotton

½ yd. Fabric B Quilting Cotton

½ yd. Medium weight interfacing

~ ½ yd. of Extra fabric for trim strips and handle

~ 24'' of ½'' diameter plastic tubing (from home improvement store)

All Seams are 1/2 '' unless otherwise noted


Print and cut out the Easter Basket Patterns Easter Basket Pattern 1 and Easter Basket Pattern 2. Cut out your pattern pieces. Fuse interfacing onto the exterior pieces.

With right sides together, pin 2 sides together along the short sides and stitch. Repeat with the other side. Clip the all around the bottom and pin to the bottom piece. Stitch around the bottom and press seams toward the sides. Topstitch to keep the seam allowance in place and trim seam allowance to ¼''. Turn right side out. Repeat for lining.

Place lining inside the exterior with wrong sides facing, pin in place. Cut a trim strip 3'' wide by ~24'' long. Press in ½'' of each long edge towards the center. Pin trim to inside of the basket and stitch in place. Fold the trim over the top of the basket and pin in place just covering the previous stitching line. Stitch in place, leave a 2-3'' gap to insert the tubing. Insert the tubing and cut to size. Stitch the gap closed.


Cut from fabric a handle piece 3'' wide by 20'' long and cut from interfacing 1''wide by 20'' long. Press fabric handle in half longwise and open and press edges toward center seam. Open handle and fuse interfacing to the center of the handle and fold the handle back up and topstitch down both long edges. Fold under raw short ends by ¾'' and pin to the center of the basket side right below the trim on both sides. Stitch in place with two lines of stitching to secure your handle. 


Embroidery Secrets

March 28, 2014


I'm a big fan of embroidery but I haven't always been. I've always enjoyed the relaxing technique, the color choices and the small, quiet, repetitive sounds from needle puncturing fabric but the pattern choices always turned me off. There are only so many mice scampering across 20 yr. old computer screen housing cute witticisms that I can work on before my brain just says "NO, no more!" Even with patterns that I love you can only use them so many times. What if I want to embroidery that flamenco dancer more than nine times? What's a girl to do?

So today I want to share my secrets for creating my own embroidery patterns that you can use easily to break out of the standard pattern rut. These secrets can be adapted for existing embroidery patterns or to make your own. All you need is some muslin/light colored fabric (dark colored or patterned fabric secrets are coming in May), a light box/ sunny window, and a water soluble marker.

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I love to use coloring pages as embroidery patterns because the designs are not overly detailed and look great once worked in embroidery floss. Coloring pages are abundant and easily accessible. You can find any design you want for any project, just type it into the search box of your search engine. Here's an example: if you are looking for a giraffe silhouette just type in giraffe silhouette coloring page into your search engine and select from hundreds or thousands of images.


Print out your coloring page and edit the size on a copy machine, copy center or using photo editing software. Tape your image to your light source. You can use a sunny window or a light box. Lay your fabric over your image (I used muslin). Then using your water soluble marker trace your design. The design should be visible through your fabric. However, if it is a cloudy/rainy day and you simply cannot wait, then use this tutorial to whip up an overhead projector (you already have plenty of boxes around). Once your design is traced you can stitch over your marker and then spray it away when you are done. Simple.IMG_5501.JPG

You needn't be limited to just coloring pages or your old patterns either. I downloaded a picture of a free Sashiko pattern and blew it up 200% to create my 16'' x 20'' design that I plan to hang over my bed. You can use this technique for your children's drawings, handwritten letters or family photos. Just be sure you have plenty of muslin because this is addicting. Don't forget you can easily dye you muslin if you want another color.   


You can find my Family Tree Coloring page here

Explore my other coloring sheet projects

Ruffle Knit Skirt

March 19, 2014

ruffle skirt1.jpg

It's getting warm and my daughter is asking for shorts and skirts. She had a super cute layered ruffle knit skirt last year that I wanted to recreate this year but add some shorts underneath. I am so pleased with the results.

Size 12-18 mo, (24 mo, 3T, 4T and 5T) [Shown in Size 5T]

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All seams are ½ unless otherwise noted. Please note: measure your child for the elastic size and cut a piece of 1'' wide elastic to that size minus 1''. I used 1.5 yds of Heather Ross Briar Rose Jersey Knit.

To complete the shorts I used the same modification of the Barbara Bloomers (a Create Kids Couture Free Pattern Download) but subtracted 2'' off the length.


Cut the pieces according to your desired size using my worksheet ruffle knit skirt.pdf. With right sides together sew all ruffle pieces to their mates along the short sides until you have several tube. Repeat for each tier piece. Run a gathering stitch ¼'' and 3/8'' from the top edge of each ruffle and pull to gather. Match the width of the top ruffle to the width of the middle tier, the width of the middle ruffle and bottom ruffle to the width of the bottom tier. With the right side of the tier facing the wrong side of the ruffle, Pin the top ruffle to the top edge of the middle tier and stitch in place. Pin the middle ruffle to the top edge of the bottom tier and stitch in place. Pin the bottom ruffle to the bottom edge of the bottom tier and stitch in place.

Pin the top edge of the bottom tier to the bottom edge of the middle tier, right sides together and stitch in place. Pin the top of the middle tier to the bottom of the top tier and stitch in place.

Complete your shorts according to the pattern instruction except do not finish the top. Place your shorts (right side out) inside the skirt and pin the top edges together. DO NOT match seams. You want to side seams of the skirt to match the sides of the shorts so you will need to measure and mark the sides on the shorts for matching. Stitch around the top. Attach your elastic to the top of your waist (I used the Fehr Trader's method from this post) and then flip your your elastic waist down and topstitch in place.

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Complete your skirt by finishing your ruffle hems with either no finish, a double turned hem, a rolled hem or simply serge the edge. I hemmed the shorts using my twin needle

This is a truly fun skirt, perfect for play, parties and warm weather fun!ruffle skirt2.jpg

What's that Notion: Sticky Back Fusible Web

February 26, 2014

Sticky Back Fusible Web is one notion you didn't know you couldn't live without. It has many uses and is customizable to use for just about any project you can think of. I love it and am always finding new uses for it. However, my favorite ways to use Sticky Back Fusible Web is for adding slot seam zippers and quick hems. Here's how:

Slot Seam Zippers:sticky back zipper collage2.jpg

Stitch your seam together where the zipper will go. Press the seam allowance open. Mark on the wrong side of the fabric the zipper placement and cut 2 pieces of sticky back fusible web the same length and ½'' wide. With the non-sticky side down, place each piece of web on each side of the seam on the seam allowance and press in place. Peel up the backing and center zipper on seam and between markings. The zipper will stay in place without pins while sewing in place with a zipper foot. Stitch straight down one side, across the bottom right below the zipper stop and back up the other side. I like to open up the seam down the zipper as I am sewing up the second side so when I get close to the top I can open the zipper without raising both my needle and my foot. I can just raise my foot leaving my needle in place and move the slide out of my way as I finish up the second side.  Finish ripping open the seam and you're done. Now you have a perfectly finished slot seam zipper that is sewn and topstitched in one step.

Quick hemming:sticky back hem collage.jpg

Cut 1'' pieces of sticky back fusible and place them sticky side down along the edge of your project on the wrong side. Fold your hem up using the web as a guide and press in place. Topstitch your hem in place. Voila, so easy. No measuring, no pinning and no hem rulers!

Doorway Drapes

February 21, 2014

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My mom loves to tell me about her childhood and summers spent at her grandmother's house in Pennsylvania. She goes on in detail about all the furnishing when something sparks her memory. One day as the weather started to turn cold this past year my mom was commenting on the draft that comes through her media room from the attic alcove. It drives the temperate down several degrees making it an uncomfortable room in the wintertime. While we were discussing this I suggested putting drapes up over the doorway to keep the draft out because I had recently seen something similar on pinterest. I could see the lightbulb turn on in her eyes. Mom told me how her grandmother had curtains in the doorway between her living room and dining room. "Everyone had doorway curtains back then. It was just standard in decorating. It helped keep the house warm" she recalled. We decided then and there doorway drapes were the solution. The finished double wide curtain panel has made all the difference in the media room. It is staying toasty now and makes a great gathering place for family movie night.

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To make your own you will need:

First up, measure your doorway. Measure how wide and tall you want your finished drapes to be. Double that width because most pleat tapes need twice the width. Also add a double turned side hems. I used 2'' for each double turned side hem (1/2'' for the first turn and 1.2'' for the second) but some prefer 4'' (that is ½'' for the first turn then 3.5'' for the second). For the length add a 2'' top hem to your finished length plus your desired bottom hem length. I prefer a deep 4'' hem plus ½ turn under so I added 4.5''. You don't need to double turn the top or make it very deep since the pleat tape will add stability and will cover the raw edge.

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Sew together any panels that you need to gain your width and then fold over 2'' along the top and baste in place. Pin the pleat tape ½'' down from the top edge of your curtain on the wrong side. You will see sewing guide lines on your pleat tape. Sew along the top and bottom of the pleat tape on these lines.  Remove basting stitches. Create the pleats you desire. I went with a triple pleat because I liked the formal look it gave and thought that complemented the tapestry fabric. After I assembled my pleats on the back side I took them over to the iron and steamed the pleats in place and finally gave each a small tacking stitch at the base of each pleat to give it a polish, formal look. An untacked pleat looks more casual.

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Back of curtain, pleats assembled

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Front of pleats before pressing and tacking. A very casual look. 

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Here I am tacking my pleats. You can see the 3 folds under my presser foot. 

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After tacking. Much cleaner and defined pleats

Next, I hemmed the bottom of the panel and finally the sides. I prefer to hem the sides last because it seals off the top and bottom hem and eliminates any pockets that can gather dust, dirt or even bugs. Lastly, I added the curtain hooks by placing each one in the middle of the triple pleat so the hook could support the pleat and hung them on a basic flat rod. Eventually my mom wants to make a tie back for frequent trips to the alcove which is common at Christmas time since she keeps her decorations back in the attic but for now she is content to keep the drafts at bay.

For more info on our Drapery tape check out my December 2013 post when it was Product of the Month.

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Recycle Restyle: Pet Beds From Old Cushions

February 9, 2014

LI2-pet-beds-seuss.jpgWe got rid of a couch recently. It had been a second-hand freebie that took all kinds of abuse. By the time we were through with it, the arms were shredded and the seat supports weren't able to do their job anymore. 

But I have a difficult time throwing things out if I think I can get some use out of them, and the cushions were still in pretty good shape. What to do with a bunch of free-range cushions? Pet beds, of course!

This is a pretty straightforward makeover -- you just need to be able to sew a box. I actually made two versions of this project. One is a little easier than the other, so you can decide how much time and energy you want to invest in your cushion makeover. 


 I went with Dr. Seuss fleece for my first bed. To start, you want to cut a piece of fleece that's several inches wider on each side than your cushion. When working with a stretch fabric like fleece, I like the stretch to run across the cushion as you view it from this angle, but this will also work with non-stretch fabrics.

1-pet-beds.jpgYour fabric cut needs to be long enough that it can wrap all the way around the cushion with about 10 inches of overlap.

2-pet-beds.jpgFinish the edge of each short edge of your fabric. (If your fabric has stretch, I recommend a stretch stitch here.) Then, wrap it around the cushion, right side in, and pin the side seams so they sit snugly against the cushion, being careful to catch all layers into your pinning.

3-pet-beds.jpgCarefully remove the cushion from your pinned fabric, and sew along the lines you pinned. Then, create fitted corners by folding your slipcover so the side seam runs to the point of the corner, centered in the triangle you create in the process, and run a straight stitch perpendicular to the side seam. 

4-pet-beds.jpgTurn it right side out, and wiggle it onto your cushion. I barely got mine set onto the table before I had a cat sprawled on it.

5-pet-beds.jpgThe second pet bed is a little more involved, and requires some actual measuring. 

First, you want to measure the height of your cushion. Mine was a little taller than 4.5 inches. Next, measure the entire outside edge of the cushion -- mine was 86 inches. So, I cut a piece 4.6 inches by 86 inches -- I don't add seam allowance! I cut the exact measurements and then use a quarter-inch seam allowance when assembling, and then I end up with a slipcover that's nice and snug. I cut this piece along the selvedge edge of my fabric, and ended up having to piece it a bit because I only had 2 yards of minky. Once I had my 4.6 by 86 inch piece assembled, I stitched the ends together to form a closed loop.

7-pet-beds.jpgTo cut the top of the slipcover, I placed the cushion directly on my fabric and traced the shape with a marker, then cut it out. (Again, skipping seam allowances.) As you can see, one of my corners has a rounded edge rather than a square one. 

6-pet-beds.jpgTo create the bottom, I cut two pieces that would overlap, each about two-thirds of the length of the top piece I cut. 


8-pet-beds.jpgI finished one of the edges on each of my two bottom pieces. As with the fleece, I used a stretch stitch here. Then, I overlapped them to match the size of the top piece, and cut the matching rounded corner to accomodate for my cushion's asymmetric shape. I also pinned the two bottom pieces together and basted the overlapped sections.

9-pet-beds.jpgOnce my top and bottom were cut and prepared, I made trim by cutting bias strips out of twill and stitching it around cotton piping. I made about 6 yards of it, so I would have enough to edge the bed at both the top and bottom. (I had plenty left over.)

10-pet-beds.jpgI trimmed the seam allowance on piping fabric down to about 1/4 inch, and then stitched it all around the edges of my top and bottom pieces. Then I sewed my side edge loop to both the top and bottom pieces. The only trick here is making sure your top and bottom line up when you're stitching the side piece. I aligned the seam that closed my loop with one of the corner edges and made sure I matched the top and bottom corners I was using and had no problem.

11-pet-beds.jpgOnce I slipped this one onto the cushion, I loved it -- and more importantly, so did my creatures. 

12-pet-beds.jpgAnd these beds are  big enough for two! (At least, two cats or small dogs.)

13-pet-beds.jpgI'm so glad we didn't toss those cushions! Now my kitties have new beds, and I can just pull the slipcovers off and throw them in the wash. 

Snuggly Valentine Project: A Cuddle Bug Built for Two

January 26, 2014


Valentine's Day is approaching, but because this winter has been ridiculously cold, all I can think of are projects to keep me warm. Even so, I have to give credit for this one to my dear friend Phred, who, when I said, "What's a romantic stitching project?" immediately came up with a sleeved blanket for two people. Hilarious and genius! I will totally make these for couples I know. They'll either love the idea or laugh at it, but both are wins in my book.

When I first made a Cuddle Bug several years ago, I wasn't sure how I felt about this craze. I am now a convert. I LOVE being able to use the remote while curled up in my little cocoon without having to send my poor arm away from the comfort a cozy blanket. I can also administer scritches to the cats while keeping totally toasty. What's not to love?  Add my beloved to the equation, and it only gets better.

This project takes a little less than 5 yards of fleece. If you're making it for tall people, you might want to cut it a little longer.



-Cut two pieces 1 2/3 yards each for the Cuddle Bug body. You'll basically be assembling two blankets and then joining them.
-About  15 inches down from the top of each body piece, cut 2 circles 10 inches in diameter. See the diagram above for placement. The sleeve holes are skewed off center because you'll eventually join the pair of blanket pieces together along the edge 7 inches away from each hole. This way, two people can sit side by side and still have plenty on each side to tuck around them.
-Cut two 25-inch long pieces along the grain.
-Cut the 25-inch in half lengthwise, so you have four sleeve pieces which are each 25" by approx. 30"

-Finally, cut two rectangles 8.5 by 11 inches. These will be made into pockets for the front of the Cuddle Bug for stashing remotes, smartphones or even snacks (I'm not going to judge).

Most fleece has a funky distorted selvage edge -- just trim that right off. I tie mine into little bundles for the cats to play with:



-With the right side up, fold down about 1 inch at the top of the pocket. Sew along all edges 3/8 inch from the edge, leaving the folded edge unstitched.


-Flip your fold to tuck in the seam allowance and stitch close to the raw edge to form the top of the pocket. The stitching around the edges of the sides and bottom of the pocket will help you turn the raw edges under without entering the danger zone of pressing fleece -- the stitching sits at the fold line.


- Center the pocket piece between the two arm holes and stitch around the sides and bottom. I set mine about 10 inches down from the arm holes, but if you want your pocket to sit further up the chest rather than in the lap, you can of course move it. I stitched first at 1/8 inch from the folded edge, and then a second time at 1/4 inch from the edge. Then I added a vertical stitch to break the big pocket into two smaller sections.


-Fold each sleeve in half lengthwise, and stitch closed along long edge. 
-Sew the sleeves into the sleeve holes, orienting the seam towards the bottom and easing in as necessary. 
(Since fleece is so easy to work with, I don't even bother with pins or clips on this step - just go for it!)

-Once your sleeves are in place, it's time to join the two sections at the center. I like to stitch mine with one side overhanging the other a little, then I fold it flat and stitch the seam allowance down.



-If desired, finish the edges of the blanket body. I hemmed mine, but you can leave them unfinished, serge them, or fringe them.

I'm short (5'3") and my husband is 5'10" -- so you can see that this length won't fully cover his feet if we're stretched out, though it also won't trip us up when we stand. If you want a longer blanket for more coverage, be sure to factor that into your fabric allowance.

And now it's TV time!


Easy-peasy lounge pants

January 24, 2014


We work hard and when it's time to relax we want to do that hard as well. When we go to work we wear work clothes, when we go someplace nice we wear nice clothes and when we relax we wear relaxing clothes.


I don't mess around with my lounge clothes. I want soft. I want comfy. I also want cute; it makes me feel good. But, and please bear with me, I don't always want yoga pants. Wait, don't stop reading. The only reason I say that is because sometimes, just sometimes, I want a slimmer fit. Some days, I am clumsy and the wider leg of my yoga pants is not condusive to walking, running after kids or even watching a good movie. So I created an alternative version for those days. You decided for yourself or better yet make both so you can have another reason to relax.


I started with my previous yoga pants pattern that we drafted back here but from the just above the knee down I tapered the leg all the way down to the ankle taking off an 1.5'' on the inside and outside of each leg. This is not enough to give the pant a tapered look when wearing, it appears as a straight leg when worn. I cut the pattern pieces out of ITY Jersey Knit Fabric and stitched the two front pieces together at the crotch. All seams are 1/4'' unless otherwise noted. 

Next, cut 4 patch pockets from printed Jersey Knit Fabric using this pattern piece and with right sides together stitch two pieces together leaving the top open for turning. Press. You can finish the top with your serger, bias trim or fold over and top stitch. Repeat for second pocket. Pin pockets to the front of your pants 1'' from the top and 1.5'' from the center seam. Top stitch each pocket in place. 

Finish assembling the pants by sewing the two back pieces together at the crotch seam (right sides together) then stitch the side seams, inseam and assemble the yoga band and stitch it to the top of the pants. (see this previous post for instructions). Finish the bottom legs with a turned hem. 


Now cut four pieces of 1/4'' elastic to 4'' long. With pants right side out, pin one piece of elastic 1'' above bottom hem on the side seam. Using a small zig zag stitch (your machine may have a elastic zig zag stitch, see your manual) start sewing about 1/2'' from the edge of the elastic, back stitching in place. Sew for about 1/4'' then start stretching the elastic. Keep sewing and stretching until you reach the last 1/2'' of elastic then back stitch in place and clip your threads. Repeat for the remaining piece on that leg and the other 2 pieces of elastic on the other leg. This will give you a ruched effect at the bottom of each leg. 

These lounge pants are just the thing for hanging out, running errands, making sure you don't look like you just rolled out of bed to drop off your kids at school though you totally did, pajama pants, and yoga pants. Add your own style with different pocket shapes or add length to your pants and increase the length of the elastic for a greater ruching effect. The pockets are just the right size to fit an MP3 player, cell phone, lip balm or to hide chocolate candies which you can eat unseen during a movie. 

One Size Casserole Carrier

January 9, 2014


I love casseroles. I really really love them. While I do love to cook I am not about 30 ingredients and several hours of tastings and seasonings. I love chopping a few things, throwing them in a dish and tossing that into the oven. 20-40 minutes later I expect my nose to be in ecstasy and shortly there after my belly to be full and happy. Soooo, since I am such a casserolian I realized one day that I need a mode of transportation for my beloved one dish wonders. The glass lids on my corningware are not suitable for car trips so I improvised something that ended up doing the job but was a one-way venture only.   I was lucky enough to be dropping off a casserole to a friend who happened to have a casserole carrier she inherited from her grandmother. I stole it quickly and used it until it disintergrated. In this post I will remake this carrier and show you how to make your own to fit your casserole dishes. I made mine out of only lightweight cotton but feel free to add insultating batting.


1) Grab your biggest casserole dish and place it on a large sheet of paper (I used the butt end of a roll of newspaper print) and trace your dish, rounding any sharp edges. Next, measure the height of your dish, divide it in half and add that all around your traced shape. Add your seam allowance (I prefer 1/2'') all around. Cut out your pattern piece. 

2) On a fold piece of quilting cotton (I used Clothworks), trace your pattern piece and cut it out. You should have 2 pieces, a top and a bottom. Set your bottom piece aside. On your top piece, measure and mark 3.5'' in all around your piece. With a fabric marker connect all these marking until you have a shape similar to your top piece. Cut it out so you have a hole in the middle of your top piece and the remaining top piece is 3.5'' wide. 


3) Cut 2 straps 15'' long by 4'' wide. Fold strap in half lengthwise and press. Open and fold each long side toward the center and press. Fold the strap in half again with raw long edges tucking toward the center fold and press again. Top stitch down the strap on both sides. Repeat for second strap. Fold your top piece in half along the length and mark the center. Pin each strap short end 2-3'' from the center mark on either side of the center mark, matching the raw short ends with the outside edge of the top piece. Baste straps in place. With wrong sides together, pin and stitch the top piece to the bottom piece. 

4) Cut 4 yds of 2'' wide bias trim from a coordinating solid quilting cotton and 1 yd of 4'' wide bias trim. Press both trim pieces into a double fold. Using the 2'' trim apply it to the outside raw edge of the casserole carrier. Apply the 4'' bias trim to the inside hole of the casserole carrier leaving a 2'' gap for the drawstring. Serge or zig zag stitch the remaining 2'' bias trim to use as the drawstring. Thread it through the casing your created with the 4'' bias trim with a bodkin or a safety pin. Knot each end several times until the knot is bigger than the opening. casserole7.jpgPlace your casserole in your carrier and pull the drawstring. It will tighten the whole carrier around your dish to secure it and the lid in place. This carrier can adjust to any shape dish. I've used mine for oblong and round. It is great and very handy. 


Knit Yoga Pants from Pajama Pattern

January 3, 2014


I think it is a universal acknowledgment that yoga pants are awesome. I see them everywhere and I know that they are a favorite of every age. My daughters have always had yoga pants from as early as 3 mo (when I first discovered them). I can attest that I have had a pair since yoga hit the scene big. However, my only complaint is yoga pants seem to exist in black only. Black has it place and its reasoning for yoga pants is sound (its slimming) however it should not make up 90% of yoga pants produced with the other 10% being black with a colorful band. Yoga pants should be in a rainbow of colors. The only solution is to make our own. 


I decided on a combo of a Favorite Things Sleep Well Pajama Pant pattern and the band from our own Nancy Dress Free Pattern Download. I used 2 yds of Stretch Jersey Knit Fabric in Royal Blue. First I cut out my pants pattern pieces 2 sizes smaller than I would normally use. This is because the pattern is designed for a woven fabric so you need extra room for ease and movement. When using a woven pattern for a knit fabric than you need to cut it smaller since you want a knit to be fitted especially yoga pants. This will ensure that the pants move with you when you get into different positions. Next cut the band from the Nancy dress the correct size for your measurements. This pattern is designed for knits so don't go smaller. 


Finally, assemble the pants according to the pattern until you get to the elastic/drawstring waist then stitch on the assembled Nancy band instead. These wonderful pants fit like a dream and the waist band is fitted enough to hold the pants in place while also holding in and smoothing any trouble areas. 

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