A Guide to Sewing A Verb for Keeping Warm Patterns

Posted by Kristine Vejar on July 24, 2017 1 Comment

I always dreamed of having my own line of sewing patterns. I wanted to sew from patterns I knew inside and out which were simple to sew and easy to wear. And, I wanted these sewing patterns to work as a curriculum to teach others how to sew garments. I met Tasa Gleason, an Oakland-based pattern drafter, and the two of us began to brainstorm about shape, drape, and style.

The Endless Summer Tunic was the first sewing pattern we created. It instantly became our best-selling pattern because it is easy to sew, easy to wear, and can be sewn out of a wide variety of fabrics! We had so much fun creating our first pattern, we decided to keep going and create a few more: Tendril Dress, Prism Dress, Uptown Top, and the Nelle Shirt.

Each pattern has a little something different to offer. The Tendril Dress is cut and sewn on the bias and is a great choice for learning to work with linen. The Prism Dress has sleeves, another building block in the progress of making clothing. The Uptown Top is based upon a vintage piece of clothing from Tasa's closet. It's simple boxy shape is modern. And finally, the Nelle Shirt, are most complex pattern, is a great piece to challenge your skill set. It is a classic tuxedo-style shirt, easily worn with jeans, and a nice pair of boots. My favorite part of the shirt is the small dip in the back collar. Just a small detail to set it apart.

Here are a few basic guidelines when preparing to sew with our patterns.


If you look along the back of the pattern, you can see the range of sizes and the finished measurements of the dress.

In order to determine your size, you will need your bust, waist, and hip measurement.

+ Take a tape measure and measure the largest part of your bust and hip, and the narrowest part of your waist.

+ Be kind to your future self: Write down these measurements, keep them in your bag, as they will be helpful to have at your fingertips when purchasing new sewing patterns and planning for new garments.

Now that you have written down your measurements, the next step is to consider ease. Ease is a word you will see a lot when sewing garments. Ease is the amount of give in your clothing.

Here is an example of how ease works: let’s say you have a t-shirt which fits you tightly. If you take this t-shirt, lay it flat on a table, and measure it, most likely the t-shirt is going to measure smaller than your bust size. This is called negative ease. If the t-shirt is two inches smaller than your bust size, than it has 2” of negative ease. Or, you might have a baggy t-shirt, when laid flat and measured, it is 2” larger than your actual bust measurement, then, your t-shirt has 2” of positive ease.

Each pattern has its own recommended ease based upon style and fit. We think the Endless Summer Tunic fits best when there is about 1-2” of positive ease. To determine your size, take your measurements and add an inch or two, and then, looking at the back of the pattern, choose which size comes matches most closely. If you are in between sizes, it is best to choose the measurement closest to your bust measurement as it is easier to grade the pattern in the hip area than in the bust area.

Tip: If you happen to live in the Bay Area (Verb is located in Oakland), we have sewn every size of our patterns into a collection of samples. You are most welcome to come in and try them on so you can see which styles you like best and can get an idea of what size you would first like to sew. Taking this step is especially encouraged if you are enrolled in one of our garment sewing classes.


Before choosing fabric, first, you will need to consider your approach to sewing our patterns.

Option 1: Sewing a Muslin
Sewing a muslin is a way to test drive a pattern. Experienced sewists first sew a muslin when approaching a new pattern, especially if they have never tried on the dress before. Sewing a muslin is the act of doing a quick sew-through of a pattern, using inexpensive fabric, to see if you like the pattern stylistically, and to see if there are any modifications you would like to make to the pattern before spending more time sewing / using more expensive fabric.

If we stayed true to formal dressmaking, the muslin (aka fit muslin) would be sewn out of muslin fabric. The seams would be hand-sewn and all facings are skipped (making it easy to take out, and re-do if adjustments are necessary). Alterations are made to the muslin and then transferred to the flat (paper) pattern. This is great process to keep in mind if you intend to get really into sewing, would like a methodical approach, and also when you are sewing complicated patterns.


Option 2: Sewing a Wearable Muslin
When I am feeling particularly confident that I will like a pattern once sewn (if for instance, I already own a garment similar to the one I am making), then I make a wearable muslin. This means I go through the entire process of sewing the garment, using a machine to sew the seams, apply all facings and finish the hem, though I use fabric which is less precious than I normally would – in the case that the garment does not turn out exactly as I would like.

Then, once I have sewn the wearable muslin (and have the instant gratification of having a new garment to wear – yay!), I review the garment, and get a sense if there are any modifications I would like to make to the pattern. If so, then, I make these modifications and create another wearable muslin. If everything looks good on the first try, then, I confidently choose new fabric and make another dress.

In the case of all of our sewing patterns (with the exception of nelle), we purposely created them with positive ease and few pattern pieces so that they would be easy to sew and wear, and would not require extensive fitting and sewing techniques. Therefore, making a wearable muslin (as opposed to a muslin) will most likely be very rewarding.

In the case of the Nelle Shirt, we do recommend making a muslin as it is slightly more fitted and complex than our other patterns.


When choosing fabric for my wearable muslin, I make sure it is similar to the fabric called for in the pattern and is similar to fabric I intend to use for my “fancy” garment. For instance, the Endless Summer Tunic calls for a light to medium weight woven fabric such as lawn, voile, batiste, double-gauze, khadi, shirting, silk habotai, wool crepe, or linen. So, if I dream of making an Endless Summer Tunic out of Merchant & Mills linen, I will first use a less expensive linen.

In general, woven fabric made of 100% cotton is the easiest fabric to sew. Examples of this are khadi, double-gauze, shirting, and lawn. Linen is a bit more wiggly (though beautiful!) so may be best to use once you have sewn an Endless Summer Tunic or two.


The yoke facing on the inside of the Endless Summer Tunic and the pockets are two great places to add a contrasting fabric. I always like using fabric in these areas that I like a lot – but that I might not want to make an entire dress out of – since I like to wear more neutral, toned down colors, this is where I may choose to add a pop of color or use a precious piece of Liberty of London Tana Lawn.


To sew our patterns, you will need your run-of-the-mill sewing tools:
Paper scissors
Pattern weights
Sewing shears
Marking pen or chalk
Hand sewing needle

There is one exception, where we do things a little bit different than most sewing pattern companies: we print our sewing patterns on heavy paper rather than tissue paper because it creates a more durable pattern. You can cut out the pattern pieces – though I would recommend tracing your size onto tracing paper. This way, you do not destroy your paper pattern and in the case you would like to make another size, you will be able to. Please note that because we practice and encourage tracing off our patterns onto tracing paper, some of our pattern pieces are stacked within one another, so it is always a good idea to have tracing paper on hand.

To do this step you will need:

Pattern paper for tracing pattern in your size (We have a kit which you can order).
Brightly colored marker*

*Tip: outline your size with a brightly colored marker, so it is easier to see and to trace.


When transferring your pattern to the tracing paper, make sure to include the pattern name, the size you have just traced, the date, any special markings, and the large arrow running along the pattern pieces. 


Once you have chosen your fabric, wash it before beginning to cut and sew. Wash it according to how you plan to wash and dry it once it is sewn. If you tend to wash your clothing on hot and dry it on hot, you will want to do just that with this fabric, as you will want all shrinkage to occur before cutting out your pattern pieces. It can be helpful to take the fabric out of the drier a few minutes early, when it is slightly damp, and smooth out any wrinkles. Then, take an iron and ironing board and press the fabric so it is smooth.


Now that you have cut out your paper pattern pieces, it is time to cut out your fabric pattern pieces.

Inside your pattern booklet, on the inside of the cover, are the Cutting Instructions, showing you a list of how many fabric pattern pieces to cut.

Also, there is a diagram, called the cutting layout, showing you where to place your pattern pieces along the fabric. Make sure to follow this exactly.

When looking at fabric, the edge of the fabric is called the selvage. Often times there is writing along the selvage. Typically patterns indicate when and how to fold the fabric before beginning to cut.

Tip: Always lie the pattern pieces next to the selvage, never over the selvage, as the selvage is a different texture than the fabric, with less give, and will respond strangely in the sewn garment.

If you look very closely at fabric, most likely you can make out little squares. These squares are made from fabric running lengthwise (referred to as the grainline as well as the warp of the fabric), and width-wise (referred to as the weft).

The long arrow found on the pattern pieces indicates the orientation of the pattern piece to the grainline of the fabric.


The grainline runs parallel to the selvage. The arrow on the pattern must run parallel to the grainline and the selvage.

It is very important to have the arrow on the fabric to correspond with the grain of the fabric so the fabric falls nicely once sewn.

Once you have laid your paper pattern pieces on the fabric, there are two ways to cut out your fabric pattern pieces:

OPTION 1: Add fabric weights (or books or cans of soup), take your marking tool, and draw an outline of the paper pattern pieces onto the fabric. Making sure to transfer all special markings to the fabric. Remove the fabric weights and paper pattern pieces, and cut out the fabric pattern pieces.


OPTION 2: Pin the paper pattern pieces onto the fabric and cut around the paper pattern pieces. Keep the paper pattern pieces pinned to the fabric pattern pieces until the sewing pattern calls for them. Add special marks to the fabric pattern pieces at that time by either cutting notches or by using a fabric marking tool.


When cutting diagonally across the grainline, the fabric has more stretch and drape. This is referred to as the bias. The Tendril Dress is cut and sewn on the bias so it fits you exactly as it is named – like a tendril – curling around your body. The Endless Summer Tunic’s round armhole edges are finished with bias tape.

MAKING BIAS TAPE for the Endless Summer Tunic

Once you have cut out your fabric pattern pieces, you will have a rectangular shaped piece of fabric left. Cut your bias tape from this piece of fabric. Here is a great tutorial on making bias tape.

Now you are ready to begin sewing your garment! Yay! Refer to your sewing pattern for full instructions.

Thank you for choosing A Verb for Keeping Warm sewing patterns.

-- Kristine

P.S. Want to see all of the above instructions (and more) via an online class? Great! Watch our sewing video on Creativebug.


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Stitch Exchange: Boro Inspired Stowe Bag

Posted by Kristine Vejar on November 17, 2016 0 Comments

In 2001, I worked for the Textile Museum in Washington D.C. and was exposed to some of the most beautiful textiles in the world. It was a never-ending journey of discovering new textiles, the techniques used to make them, and about the people who made the textiles and the places around the world where they were made. My world grew exponentially.

One day, I came to work and a new exhibition had opened: Japanese Fisherman's Coats of the Awaji Island. Along the gallery walls, twenty-two indigo-dyed coats hung. Along the surface of the coats were intricate patterns of geometric designs hand-stitched with white cotton thread. They were absolutely gorgeous. As with most textiles, there are three concepts working as one: form, function, and beauty. The coats were made of multiple layers of fabric, to keep the fisherman warm and dry. They were held together with the stitching. And the patterns stitched upon the cloth added beauty and elegance to the jacket. These intricately stitched patterns are known as sashiko. I immediately wanted to know more about sashiko and as I began my research I ran into another amazing Japanese textile tradition called boro.

Before getting into Boro, we have to go backwards before we can forwards, and we must look at indigo. At the root of both the sashiko and boro traditions lies indigo dyed cloth. Indigo is a blue dye derived from an indigo-bearing plant. There are hundreds of varieties of plants which create indigo pigment, though there are only a handful of plants which create enough indigo pigment to warrant the labor and time intensive process of extracting the pigment from the plant. Indigo is planted in March, harvested multiple times throughout the Summer, amassing, to begin the composting process through the Fall and Winter, and can finally be used the following Spring to dye through a fermentation process. 

Indigo is believed to have come to Japan sometime in the 5th century from China. At first, indigo was only used by royalty. As advancements in agricultural production occurred and the indigo dyeing process became more streamlined, indigo dyed fabric became available to the masses and was revered. Before farming and manufacturing was mechanized, as it currently is, cloth and clothing was highly revered. It was common to own only a few pieces of clothing and for this clothing to be patched as needed. For those who were very poor, it was common to take indigo-dyed fabric scraps and rags and to use them to patch their clothing. Sometimes the clothing had so many patches, the clothing began to look like patchwork. This raw style became its own genre of textiles called boro which means ragged in Japanese. Today, these textiles in their immediacy are thought of as poetic and are highly sought after.

From the moment we, at Verb, laid eyes upon the Stowe Bag sewing pattern (by Grainline Studio and Fringe Association) - we've been smitten. We always love a good project bag - and this is certainly one of the best around. Hint: It has internal pockets.

The pattern has two sizes, and here we've sewn the small version.

Taking inspiration from the Japanese traditions of sashiko and boro, we created our rendition of the Stowe Bag - and have made a kit for you to create your very own interpretation.

Before you start your kit, you may want to peruse two Pinterest pages I created to get your creative juices flowing: sashiko and boro.  

The Boro Inspired Stowe Bag Kit includes one of our very favorite lines of fabric we carry at Verb: cloth created with organic US cotton - from cotton breeder Sally Fox (from who we also source the wool used in our Horizon yarn line). We adore this fabric because of the cotton it is made from, because it is organic, and because it has a beautiful hand. For the main fabric we chose cloth which the weft is natural brown cotton (yes, it grows in that color on the plant) and the warp is white in the case of the sand kit, and dyed blue in the cases of the blue kits. Then, in order to create the patchwork style for the Boro-esque design, I indigo dyed fabric in our Oakland studio. Each kit includes two pieces of indigo dyed cloth. The kit also includes white sashiko thread and sashiko needles so you can create your own sashiko-inspired patterns.


Tasa, our sewing teacher at Verb, sewed the blue sample shown in these photos. I asked Tasa a few questions about her process, here are her responses:

1. Do you have tips or tricks you would like to share with readers who are interested in making this project?

Tasa: Read through the pattern before starting. Be precise when cutting.

2. I noticed the Stowe Bag is unfinished inside, though yours is finished. How did you finish the inside of your bag?

Tasa: For the side of the bag that is 2 fabrics, I sewed them together using a flat fell seam before I cut out that panel. If you cut out each side of the panel and then sew it together remember to add seam allowance.

I sewed the side seams with a flat fell seam and I applied a leftover scrap of bias to the bottom seam when I sewed it.

For the bias, I cut strips @1.5", sewed them at 3/8", folded them to the inside of the bag, and slip-stitched by hand to finish.

3. How did you decide on the placement of your fabrics?

Tasa: I looked at the pieces I had and thought about how I wanted the finished bag to look. I also wanted some of the lighter color on the inside of the bag because it is MUCH easier to see what is inside your bag if the inside isn't all black!

4. If you were to do it over again, what changes might you make? (I am thinking primarily of alterations in stitch pattern or placement of fabric).

Tasa: I really like how the fabric placement turned out. I like the stitching, it might be the kind of thing where I would add more as time goes by. 

5. When did you add your sashiko stitches?

Tasa: The very last thing I did was the stitching.


Tasa is teaching a Stowe Bag class in December, sign-up here

To purchase a kit, click here

This kit is a limited edition due to the fact that we are almost out of this beautiful fabric and we are unsure if we will be able to create more.

We want to see your version! Please tag your Instagram photos #stowebag and #stowemeetsboro, and mention @avfkw @fringesupplyco @grainlinestudio so we'll all be sure to see!


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Stitch Exchange: Endless Summer Tunic x Sashiko

Posted by Kristine Vejar on October 10, 2016 0 Comments

When designing our line of sewing patterns, we aimed to create patterns which are simple and could become a canvas for your personal creativity.

Sashiko, a style of stitching from Japan, is a great way to personalize your garment. In Japan, sasho means stitch and ko means small. It is easy to create a plethora of designs across your dress using this stitch. Many times, the sashiko style of stitching is used in conjunction with indigo dyed fabric.

In this example, we chose The Endless Summer Tunic and paired it with a fabric which is very close to our heart: Vreseis 100% US grown organic cotton in the blue color.

I typically like a minimal look so I added stitches to the back yoke and down the center front and back of the garment. That said, there are endless possibilities to stitch - in terms of design and placement. Check out my Pinterest board for inspiration.

Tips and tricks:  
+ Sashiko is composed of a simple running stitch.
+ Traditionally, the stitch is longer on the surface. In our example, we played with the length of stitch to create movement.
+ Sashiko thread is made of cotton and is quite thick in comparison to other embroidery floss. For the best results use a sashiko needle. The sashiko needle’s length is long, so it is possible to load many stitches onto the needle. This will create a smooth line.
+ When threading your needle, cut a piece of thread the length of the line you would like to stitch.
+ Make sure after each line of stitching is completed to pull the fabric taut to smooth any puckers.
+ Traditionally, a knot is tied at the beginning and end of the line of stitching to secure. In this case, since we knew we would be stitching over the lines, the knots were not necessary.

If you choose to do a pattern which has more lines and is more geometric in shape, follow these general guidelines:

1. When turning a corner, leave a little space to help control puckering.
2. Stitch the horizontal lines first, followed by the diagonal lines, and then any remaining shapes.

Here is how I created my garment:

I traced off the pattern onto paper as I always do, then I traced the pattern onto the fabric. I cut the pattern out of my fabric.

Then, I sashiko-style stitched my yoke. I sewed the garment.

As a final touch I sashiko-style stitched down the center front and back of my dress.

Currently, we have a kit available which includes the fabric, sashiko thread and needles in case you want to jump in and make one of your very own sashiko style Endless Summer Tunic!

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The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: The Field and Forest Dress

Posted by Kristine Vejar on July 10, 2016 0 Comments

For the month of July, the focus of The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along is The Field and Forest Dress. This is one of my favorite projects in the book! I always enjoy sewing a new dress, and this pattern is particularly easy to make and fun to wear. Plus, it is zero-waste, which means you use every scrap of fabric, so nothing goes to waste!

I love creating patterns which are basic and create a canvas to modify, so you can really make it your own through choice of fabric, dye, length, and other modifications, like adding pockets! The dress would be beautiful made from a variety of fabrics. Everything from a cotton lawn (imagine this in Liberty), to linen, to even light-weight wool blends. Also, it can be shortened, to make a shirt, or lengthened, for a floor length dress. 

The first step in making this project is to sew the dress. Then, comes the dyeing process: scouring, mordanting, dyeing, and washing.

One of my favorite collections we've made in the studio is the one featured in the photo on p.89 - which features a row of Field and Forest Dresses all dyed with materials fairly easy to find across North America; walnut, yarrow, osage, eucalyptus, and oak galls. This project discusses the amounts of these materials you will need to make a variety of shades. I love seeing the range of color which can be made from the local forest. A great companion book to The Modern Natural Dyer, which features many plants foraged from across the United States, is Harvesting Color, by friend and local dyer Rebecca Burgess. 

Have you made the Field and Forest dress? If so, ping me on Instagram and make sure to hashtag your photo with #themodernnaturaldyerworkalong - so we can keep up with your progress!

Thanks for reading!

-- Kristine

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The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: Indigo Reveal

Posted by AVFKW Staff on June 15, 2016 3 Comments

The most-anticipated moment with shibori and indigo dyeing is the moment you remove the object creating your resist (binding, stitching, clamps, etc), and reveal the design underneath! With indigo dyeing this is especially fun, with the strong contrast between your dark blue and white underneath.

On Tuesday, Lis and I dipped our pieces in the indigo vat. The night before, I finished stitching the fishbone pattern onto my completed Tendril Tank (above), and Lis's fabric was stitched and pulled tight. We soaked our pieces in hot water to thoroughly wet them, so that the indigo could easily permeate the fabric. Then we re-calibrated the AVFKW indigo vat and started dyeing!

I dipped my piece a total of 5 times; Lis dipped her fabric 3 times. It was a beautiful day in Oakland, with a bright, warm sun. We alternated dips between our two pieces to allow them to fully oxidize.

After our dipping was completed, we gave each piece a quick rinse, then carefully began cutting our knots and removing each thread. 

Lis's fabric turned out beautiful! Since part of it is solid blue, this means only part of her tank will have her stitch pattern, the rest will be solid blue. And since the Tendril is cut on the bias, her stitching pattern will also be on the bias. 

My Tendril Tank is complete, and I love it! Since I used a cotton fabric that is a little heavier than the linen in the Fishbone Dress project, the gathering of the fabric between the stitching lines created an additional resist. I did my best to allow as much dye as possible into this area, but I love the additional patterning that it created.

I'm looking forward to seeing what YOU create with indigo this month! Please feel free to leave us a comment with a link to photos of your work, or use the hashtag #themodernnaturaldyerworkalong on Instagram.

Indigo tips:

+ Make sure the dye reaches all parts of your fabric - i.e. in between the rows of stitching on your Fishbone Dress. 
+ Make sure to allow the indigo on your fabric to fully oxidize in between dips. It can be helpful to dye multiple pieces, one after another, to space out the dips. Grab a friend to join you!
+ Just like with other dyes, your fabric will be several shades lighter after drying, so be sure to keep that in mind as you dip your fabric.
+ Watch Kristine's Creativebug video on dyeing with indigo to learn more.
+ Embrace the variation and natural beauty of your dyed piece!

-- Sarah

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