If you have tips to share about Folkwear patterns, let others know by clicking on Contact Us and sending an email. We'll post it here so others can benefit from your experience and advice.

Helpful information might include:

  • Hints for more streamlined construction.
  • Tips for adapting patterns for easy-on/easy-off costume changes.
  • Tricks for fitting and alteration.
  • Innovative and artful variations of the same pattern.

We are grateful to everyone who has shared these suggestions for success with Folkwear patterns.

#101 Gaza Dress
Liz from British Columbia, Canada, who has made this pattern in everything from silk to fleece, shares this modified construction sequence that she devised to make it easier to sew the dress on a serger and so the dress can be painted or appliquéd as a whole:

1. Do not stitch shoulder seams or tops of sleeves, as directed in Step One of the pattern.
2. Stitch Front Side Panels to Mid Side Panels, as directed in Step One of the pattern.
3. Stitch Mid Side Panels to Back Side Panels, as directed in Step One of the pattern.
4. Stitch underarm Sleeve seams to notch 4, as directed in Step Three of the pattern.
5. With right sides together, pin and stitch combined Side Panels to Sleeves, matching notch 4 at center of Mid Side Panel to notch 4 on Sleeves, as directed in Step Three of the pattern.
6. Stitch Side Panels and Sleeves to Front, as directed in Step Four of the pattern. Then stitch to only one seam on the Back. At this point, the whole dress can be laid out flat and painted or decorated as desired.
7. Stitch final Back seam.
8. Stitch shoulders and top seams of sleeves from neck edge to wrist.
9. Apply Yokes, as directed in Step Two of original pattern. Liz has also modified the pattern to insert a front zipper, for ease of dressing.

#107 Afghani Nomad Dress
Many of you have voted for an up-sizing of this popular pattern, but because it is composed mostly of rectangles it is easy to up-size it on your own. Open up the attached file for hints and help (pdf).

#118 Tibetan Panel Coat
Kelley Dean-Crowley of Martinez, California says that fabric choice is very important: "I made mine with silks and brocades, and wound up with a very dramatic garment that I hardly wear even though I love it. My next version will be made with more casual fabrics." Also, she suggests arranging the cut-out pattern pieces in assembly order on the floor (e.g. lay the side front next to the front), to make sure that you will sew them together in the right order.

#129 Japanese Hapi and Haori
Note that the hem edge curves slightly downward in the front and hangs nearly 2" longer at center front than center back. Some of the drawings show the front hem to be straight across, but this is not accurate.

#131 Tibetan Chupa & Skirt
If you are making the Skirt, note the following error in the instructions: At the top of the third column on page 4, Skirt Front J is shown in the illustration. The text should read: "Sew raw ends of Ties to right side of Front at stars...."

#133 Belgian Military Chef's Jacket
In Step One: Preliminary Construction, the second thing you do is stitch the Side Back pieces to the assembled Back. Note that the drawing is correct (Side Back pieces are labeled "C"), but the text is wrong (Side Back pieces are labeled "D"). The next thing you do is stitch the Side Front Pieces to the assembled Back/Side Back. Note that the drawing is correct (Side Front pieces are labeled "D"), but the text is wrong (Side Front pieces are labeled "C").

#151 Japanese Hakama and Kataginu
Fran S. from Canada recently completed the hakama, which she says got a nice reception at her dojo, and offers these helpful hints: It should appear that there are five, not six, pleats in the front of the hakama (for the five virtues, which are benevolence, justice, courtesy or propriety, integrity and wisdom), so make sure the overlapping pleats at center front overlap enough so they don't pull apart; she suggests a little more than the 3/4" in the pattern, especially if you use a heavy fabric. Also, make sure the back himo are long enough; she suggests they should be 3/4 the length of the front himo rather than the 1/2 as directed in the pattern. Fran also recommends Supertex for the backboard stiffener. It is a bookbinding board/leather mix used in handbags and luggage that offers "just the right combination of stiffness and flexibility." She says it comes in different weights, but is not washable.

Additional tip for #151 Japanese Hakama & Kataginu:
A customer from Pennsylvania shares the following: "The pattern suggestions for the side stiffening of the Kataginu note that whalebone was traditionally used, and now thin slices of bamboo are used. My family did own a whalebone factory during Victorian times, but the factory closed and the family fortune was lost when corsets went out of fashion. Even though I have access to bamboo, I use sport webbing. I cut a wide webbing to 3/8" (1cm) and sew it to the Kataginu edge, then turn it under twice for a clean finish (and so I don't have to make a casing)."

#203 Edwardian Underthings
If you are making the Drawers: Note that the PLACKET F piece should say "Cut Two for Drawers, Cut One for Petticoat."

#204 Missouri River Boatman's Shirt

In the Cutting Guide, it can be confusing to figure out how to lay out Piece A as a single piece and then tape Piece B cut on a fold. Here's what we suggest:

Trace off a second B piece and tape it to the existing B piece along the Center Back, so there is a full-width Back B to match the full-width Front A. Don't forget to duplicate all the dots and other markings on the traced Back B piece. Then, tape Front A and full-width Back B together at the shoulder lines, as indicated on the pattern pieces, so you can cut out a single combined Front/Back piece.

At this point, the Front/Back is just a big piece of single-layer fabric, without a neck opening. You won't slash the neck opening until you are instructed to in Step One: Shoulders and Neck Gussets.

#205 Gibson Girl Blouse
In re-sizing this new version, some or all of the markings referred to in the instructions (e.g., markings on rectangle J) may or may not appear on the pattern pieces. Because this pattern was originally three sizes (S, M, L) and now is six sizes (S-3XL), the number of different lines on pattern piece J would have been confusing. Piece J is meant to show an example of positioning the lace insertion and the tucks.

Therefore, you will have to create a rectangle large enough to fit Front Yoke D after you complete the lace insertion and tucking. For the larger sizes, you may want to add rows of insertion and tucks at each side. Then place Front Yoke D on finished rectangle and cut out for View B blouse.

#212 Five Frontier Shirts
If you are making the Men's View D shirt, note that on the tissue pattern piece S Shoulder Yoke, it says to "Cut 2 on fold." This is incorrect. You only need to Cut 1 on Fold. Note that both the Cutting Layouts and the Women's tissue pattern piece S are correct.

#215 Empire Dress
Linda of Pine City, Minnesota, says this dress is popular with the Fur Trade reenactment crowd and she has made it several times. She says, "Some of us have a devil of a time putting together the little pieces that go around the armhole. The pattern markings are critical, and you should use tailor's tacks and position them carefully. I also suggest that you clearly mark the wrong side of each of the little pieces if your fabric's right and wrong sides are similar."

#223 A Lady's Chemise
View B, Neckline step: In the middle of the 4th column on page 2, it says "Make two small buttonholes on remaining Casing as marked on pattern piece." Unfortunately, these buttonholes are NOT marked on the Casing pattern piece K.

Therefore, mark your own buttonholes at center front of the Casing piece as shown in the illustration. Mark them horizontally along the midline of the piece and space them about 1/2 to 5/8 inch from each other, to leave room for the ribbon drawstring bow.

#239 Blonde Bombshell
Note from a Folkwear dealer: Stitch in a strip of clear elastic along the bodice side seam at the bust to keep the bodice from gapping open at the sides.

Rebecca, from Winter Springs, Florida, found a different solution to gapping at the sides. She cut smaller size bust pieces, adjusted the gathers, and extended the halter straps to criss-cross in the back and get stitched in at the waist. She says this gives her more confidence when wearing and the dress fits perfectly.

Anita of Santa Clara, California, used a different solution: she "darted out" the side gap. She made a muslin sample of the band and top, and tried it on to see how much "gap" needed to be taken in at the side of the cup. Then she says: "On the top (cup) pattern piece, mark the center of the new dart at the point on the side of your size's top where it stops being a straight line and starts to curve in to the halter tie. Draw a line from that mark to the bottom notch. That is the center line of your dart. Then measure and mark one half of your "gap" amount above the line and below the line at the top of the dart (not at the bottom notch end). For example, if you are taking out 1", measure 1/2" above and below the line at the edge of the pattern piece. Draw a line from each mark to the dart point at the bottom notch end. Fold the pattern piece along the new dart center line and pin the dart along the two angled lines you drew, which now overlap. Use this new pinned pattern piece to cut the piece from fabric, smoothing the outside curve along the edge if needed. As always, it's a good idea to pre-test the altered pattern in muslin before cutting out of fabric.

Alison, from Australia, did some experimenting with different yarns and needle sizes to achieve the correct gauge for the #239 knitted Bolero, since the specified yarn is no longer made and some UK needle sizes have changed. She says, "I can confirm that using 5.5mm needles (current U.S. size 9) for the body of the bolero and size 4.5mm needles (current U.S. size 7) for the sleeve cuffs gave the right gauge and right-sized garment." She used a size 4.5mm hook for the single crochet edging.

#240 Rosie the Riveter
The shirt in this pattern has quite a lot of wearing ease built into it, to provide plenty of moving-around room for the women on the factory assembly lines of the 1940s. You may not need such a roomy garment, so you might want to cut one size smaller than you usually would. Before you cut, pin the front, back, and yoke tissue pieces together along the side and shoulder seams. Fold under the center front along the self-facing line and carefully try on this half-body tissue sample to get an idea of the fit. Even better, make a quick muslin test of the whole pattern to be sure which size will be best for you.

#250 Hollywood Pants
If you are making the Shorts, note the following error: The Waistband T piece does not include the 1-inch (2.5cm) underlap referred to in the instructions. Therefore, be sure to cut piece T longer at the button end and move the button marking 1 inch (2.5cm) toward the end.

#270 Metro Middy Blouse
Check buttonhole spacing for your size, and re-space as desired or needed. Lay out buttons on garment before marking buttonholes to determine the look you desire. Measure from top of one buttonhole to top of next buttonhole and mark accordingly.

For a different look, pair the buttonholes. For example, space two buttonholes just one inch apart, then drop down three inches, then another pair just one inch apart.

After setting in the sleeves:
The instructions say to press the seam toward the sleeve, without trimming the seam allowance. If the fabric you have chosen is a close-weave stable fabric or medium-to-heavy weight fabric, there may be too much bulk in the seam allowance to give a smooth, unpuckered result on the right side after pressing the seam toward the sleeve. Alternatively, you can trim the finished armhole seam allowance close to stitching and serge or overcast the raw edges.



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