Air Raid Suit Sewing: Attaching the Back Bodice Facing

How was everyone’s weekend?  Hopefully you’re all rested up and found some good sewing time!

We’re continuing with the Air Raid Suit sewing using the Air Raid Suit pattern that’s available on my website.  We’re getting to the trickier parts, so hopefully these posts will help you with construction.

The Air Raid Suit has a drop seat.  We don’t think of these a lot today, except for funny “onesies”, or gag costumes.  Well, this had one.  I don’t know why, but it’s there.  Maybe if it was really cold and you were in an air raid shelter and “nature called”, dropping your seat would keep you warmer and more discreet than dropping the whole suit?

Anyways, on with the sewing!


Grab your Lower Back Blouse Facing piece.  Clip close to the large dot.  Please ignore my scribbles on my piece- I was testing the pattern at the same time as I was photographing this tutorial ;)


Now you’re going to press down your seam allowance to about 1/2″.


Topstitch close to that folded edge.


Now, pin the bottom blouse facing to the bottom blouse, right sides together, matching your notches.


Stitch all the way around the sides and bottom edge.  Pay extra attention to that little extension at the top- I stitched OUT from where we clipped our facing piece, matching the extension of the back blouse, turned on  the corner, down the side, turned the corner, and then across the bottom edge, and up the same on the other side. Leave the top edge that was folded down in the first step free, so you can turn it right side out.


Now clip all your corners and trim the seam allowance down to about 1/4″.  Don’t get too close to the stitching or it will fray when washed.


Flip it right side out, and get a nice point to your corners.  Give it a press.


Now you’re going to topstitch all around the outside edge, 1/4″ from the side and bottom.


Flip it over so you’re now looking at the inside.  Now top stitch right on top of that original topstitching of the facing, going through all layers and attaching the back facing to the back bodice at the top.  Make sure you smooth this all out and pin it well before you sew, so you don’t get any funny wrinkling after its stitched.


Give it a final press, and it should look like this from the right side.  Pretty snazzy, huh?

We’ll continue with more sewing next time.  Hope these tutorials have been helping :)


Air Raid Suit Sewing- Bodice Side Seams

In this post we’ll do the bodice side seams on the Air Raid Suit pattern.


First thing to do is join the side seam to the top dot.  Don’t worry, the back is supposed to be longer than the front!

That little sticky-outy bit on the side is going to be our back extension, and the longer length at the bottom back b
odice will be for buttons to attach to for our drop seat.  It this doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry. It will all make sense later.



Next you’re going to do a diagonal clip to the dot on the BACK BODICE seam allowance ONLY.  Don’t clip super close or else it will not be stable, but don’t cut too little or it will be hard to do the extension later.


Now you’re either going to flat fell your seam or serge it (for fakey flat felled seams), leaving the extension free.    These seams face towards the BODICE FRONT.


Stichy, stitchy!


And right side out it should look like this.  If you’re doing a flat felled seam, you should do a little rolled hem at the bottom of the front bodice (the fold of the flat felled seam will want you to continue it anyways).  If you’re doing a serged, fakey method, I just stitched right on top of my serging all the way down and didn’t bother turning it under since the serge finishes the edge. If you’re anticipating heavy wear, you might want to do flat felled seams for real instead of my cheater method.

That’s it!  Do the same to both sides.  Now it feels like we’re moving right along, doesn’t it?



Air Raid Suit Sewing- Making Flat Felled Seams (Or Faking It)

Sorry for the delay in posting!  It’s been busy, busy around here!

In this post we’ll show how to do flat felled seams.  But I’ll also show how to fake it if don’t want to be bothered but still want the look (like me).

- Flat Felled Seams -

This is primarily a technique used in men’s clothing and workwear.  Since this counts as workwear, it utilizes these techniques.  This type of seam finish is generally thought to be sturdier than others.  The most common place you’ll find it today is in nicely made jeans.  In fact, you can go grab your jeans and flip them inside out to see if you have something in person to see to get an idea of what these are… but with more and more jeans getting made less and less expensively, more jeans are “faking it”, like we’ll do in the second part of this post.

We’re doing this the way that they did in the original sewing instructions, even though there’s more than one way to pet a cat (what?  don’t you like my version better? Poor kitties.)  If you want to substitute this for your method, go right ahead.  Just remember, and this is important, that our seam allowance is 1/2″.  Don’t go making bigger seam allowances or your garment will be too small!  If you want more seam allowance you need to add it to your pattern BEFORE you cut it out.

I did these on scraps.  Your pattern pieces don’t look like this ;)

You should also try it on scraps so you can figure it out before you do it on your real garment.


First, stitch 1/2″ from the edge, right sides together.


Next you clip your seam allowance  to about 1/4″ (or less) on one side only 


On the wider of the two seam allowance, fold the edge under about 1/8″, or 3/16″.  Give it a press.  Don’t burn your fingers! This is fiddly work.


Now press that folded edge to that it overlaps your shorter cut edge.  See?  Wait, you can’t see it, because it’s hiding behind it.  And that’s the point!


Now edge stitch close to the fold, but keeping your stitching a uniform distance from the original stitch line.


This is how it should look from the right side.

That’s it!

Practice, because it’s hard to get good looking flat felled seams without being precise on measurements.  Play around until you figure what works best for you.  The main thing is to catch those seam allowances so that they don’t fray, so don’t go too far from the fold or you’ll get little escapees when your garment is washed.

Now, if you’re lazy like me, here’s the cheater method.

- Faux Flat Felled Seams -

This is demonstrated on the shoulder seams of the garment. Fair warning, I did all construction with faux flat felled seams and not real ones.  So from here on out, that’s what you’ll see in my construction shots.


First, join your seams using 1/2″ seam allowance.  I’m joining the front bodice to the back bodice shoulder seams in this photo.

After this I serged my seams together. (if you don’t have a serger, figure out another way to finish the edges).


Press your seam allowance in the direction indicated in the pattern.  Our pattern has us press them toward the back.


Now top stitch an equal distance away from the original stitch line.  I used the width of my presser foot.  You can’t see this too clearly because it overlapped the serging.


From the right side it looks like this.  Pretty identical on the right side to the flat felled seams, but since I’m not going to wear this as much as someone who did war work in the 1940’s, I really don’t need the extra stability of flat felled seams.

I’ll leave it up to you, whichever method you want to use.

That’s it!  Next time we’ll dive into more exciting assembly of the Air Raid Suit!


PSA- Smoot Sailing RTW Are Selling Out Again!

Hi everyone!
I just want to give you a heads up that our PRE-ORDERS of the next batch of the Smooth Sailing pants are already selling out in some sizes.

We only have 4 left in the 34″ waist, 3 in the 36″ waist, 1 in the 38″ waist, and 2 in the 40″ waist.
If you’re in those sizes, you really might want to consider pre-ordering, because we won’t get more for a while. And if you pre-order by Sunday, you get the extra 20% off!

We expect them to arrive late next week/early the week after and they’ll ship after then.


Air Raid Suit Sewing- Back Bodice Pleats

Continuing the sewing tutorials for the Air Raid Suit pattern.

In this post we’re going to make the back pleats.  My grandma  called these “action backs”.  The pleats on the back were designed to give you more movement, which could come in handy if you were doing war work like working in a munitions or airplane plant.


If you haven’t already, mark your fabric with all the markings you might need.  I used a combination of thread marking and chalk for mine.  The yellow chalk lines are where the pleats will be.  I pressed them before this photo was taken so you can get a visual of where the tucks will be.


Now match yellow line to yellow line, with the fabric of the fold going towards center back.  Press.


Pin it for stitching.  I put a cross pin at the top and bottom of the tuck line so I could see where I need to stop my stitching.


Now you’re going to stitch 1/4″ from the fold of the tuck, and then straight across to the edge of the tuck fold.  Back stitch to make sure it’s good and secure.  Do the same at the shoulder tucks and the waist tucks (a total of four tucks will be stitched- two at the shoulder, two at the waist).


Now step back and admire your handiwork!  Congrats, you just made a pleated action back! Way easier than you thought, wasn’t it?

Next up I’ll show you how to do flat felled seams.

Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Easter, if I don’t check in before then!





Air Raid Suit Sewing- Intro & Attaching Pockets

Hi everyone!

Yesterday I released the Phyllis Air Raid Suit or Coverall pattern.  It’s also available as an e-pattern on my site, or on Etsy.



This pattern is VERY challenging because it has a lot of techniques we don’t often use in women’s wear, like flat felled seams and button plackets.  It was made to last through the tough job of WWII defense work, so it was made to last!  But because we’re so unaccustomed to some of these techniques in regular women’s wear, I took step-by-step photos of the harder parts of construction to help walk you through it.  This is the first of these posts.

This first one’s not very tricky, but I thought it might help to have a visual, since this isn’t the standard way of attaching pockets to garments.  The pockets on this suit are made of two layers and bagged out- not one layer with a hem at top like most pockets on garments.

My fabric I used was pretty heavy, so my pockets look a little bulky.  Upon reading further, I found the original called for lining material for the pockets.  Oh well, mine’s just extra heavy duty ;)


First you want to make sure you mark all your markings you might need.  I used tailor’s tacks so they’re visible on both the right and wrong side of the fabric.  For one way to thread mark or tailor tack, check out my previous blog post for the 1910s suit sew-a-long.

I am lazy and don’t usually mark the entire pocket on my fabric.  Instead, I opt for marking the most crucial points and match to those.  That’s why you see five dots on the image above and not a row of thread marking outlining a pocket.

Then do your front darts and tucks.  Press them towards center front.


Ok!  Now grab two pocket pieces (or pocket and pocket lining pieces) and put them right sides together.  Stitch 1/2″, leaving an opening on the side.  Don’t’ leave it right at the corner or your corner will look wonky.  Leave the opening in the middle of the side, like the photo above.


Now trim away the excess and clip your corners so it will lie nice and flat.  Turn it right side out, get your corners nice and crisp, and press it.


Now we’re going to slip stitch that opening closed.  Go in and out of the fold on one side with your hand sewing needle.


Then in and out of the other side of the fold with your hand sewing needle.  Repeat these steps until you’ve sewn the length of the opening.


When you pull it taunt (but not too tight!), your stitches will be nearly invisible from the outside.  It’s kind of like a ladder, with rungs going up the middle that pull the pieces together.  Now give it another press for good measure.


Now stitch 1/4″ from the top edge of the pocket, starting and ending 1/4″ in.  This will all make sense in a minute.


Now mark your pencil holder stitches (I’m blanking on the name right now) in chalk or another type of marking that will come out of your fabric.  Test it on a scrap first.  And maybe you won’t be as messy with it as I was ;)


Now match that pocket to your dots (or lines) on the left front bodice piece.  Pin it in place so it doesn’t wiggle around.


Now we’re going to take up topstitching where we left off and start at the 1/4″ in stitch corner where we stopped before and continue all around the bottom of the pocket and up the other side, stopping at the other 1/4″ in spot our last stitching stopped.  See how nice and clean?  No criss crossed stitches on the top!


Now stitch down those markings for the pencil holder and then brush away (or otherwise remove) your markings.


Now stick a pencil or pen in it and make sure it fits!  It would be WAY easier now to unpick and widen it if you need to than it will be later!

Now do the same for the other side, omitting the pencil stitches for that side.

Ta Da! Pockets!   When you do your pockets on the back slacks they’ll be done the same way, minus the pencil holder stitches, of course.

Hope that’s a helpful little tutorial!