Couture Sewing School – Day 3, 4, 5 & 6: Basting, Fitting & Sewing

Day 3 and everyone is heads down and bums up thread tracing their pattern pieces. I’m definitely thinking I’m glad for sewing pants and not a jacket purely because there are far less pieces!

I’m finished up thread tracing by mid morning and get stuck into sewing the double welt openings on the back of my pants, after having done a test on Day 2. They won’t be real pockets – just design details. The welt lips I cut with a large enough seam allowance that they will be caught in the waistband seam to support the weight of them.

By the end of Day 3, I was hand sewing all the pieces together so you can try it on and test the fit of the fabric. Whilst a muslin can save you much heartache in the land of ill-fitting garments, it still can’t always compensate for how your final fabric will change.

Case in point – Sue’s Kay Unger dress. Whilst it is really a simple sheath dress – the sunburst of pleats at the waist mean you’re dealing with a range of different angled grainlines at the neckline. After a second fitting, there were a huuuge number of changes, which you can see in the photos below.

These changes have to be thread traced and also transferred back to the muslin pieces so when the lining is cut, it reflects the changes. You can see the original white basting lines from the muslin below, with the adjustments pinned. Eep!


Belle doesn’t manage to escape without significant alterations either – Susan ‘rebuilt’ her crotch curve after she had basted all of her fashion fabric pieces together. Belle and I are effectively sewing the same pattern (she is working with Burda 6689 whilst I have appropriated all of the design details from this pattern) however we’ve picked vastly different fabrics – mine being a rather drapey wool and hers a silk with a fair bit of body. Apart from the fact that we also have very different body shapes, it’s a great reminder of how much the fabric we work with can effect the outcome!


I don’t escape without a few adjustments either, although mine are really very superficial. A little being removed from the waistband at the side seams and also at the centre back seam (new lines in Dark Blue).



I think Day 4 is my favourite point in this course because it’s when everyone has their garments basted together and ready to try on for a second fitting – you get to see them coming together!

My pants are looking great – I’ve sewn up all of the adjustments and transfered the updated lines to the muslin. The legs hang beautifully – and it’s SO comfortable!

Pants on with everything basted, ready for a second fitting.

By the end of Day four, I’d sewn all the seams in, trimmed the seam allowances back to about 1.5 inches, pulled out many of the silk basting stitches and pressed all of the seam allowances flat. One of the ladies brought this steam iron in and I’m now SO wanting to get one – it’s incredible for pressing!

Other people are having their garments checked for fit and are sewing seams on their machines.

Day 5 – I start thinking about lining, and the zip I’m going to insert along the centre back seam. I cut out the lining and pin it in. The thought being that I would sew on the waistband facing and tuck everything up inside.


However I’d underlined the waistband with calico – and when I attempted to press everything into place – there was just too much bulk. Susan suggested trimming back the underlining to the seam line, then I trimmed and graded everything.

Calico trimmed back to the seamline on both the waistband and waistband facing. Seam allowances trimmed and graded.

At the end of it all, it was better balanced with the waistband facing hanging down, to which I hand sewed down into the ‘ditch’ on the front.

img_6911 img_6910

I then fell stitched the lining in on top.

For the zip, I did my first ever hand picked zip. I’m still an invisible zip girl at heart, but I think this fabric lent itself well to this treatment. I think the handpicked zip is rather an acquired taste!

I made the mistake of never actually checking to see if my waistband matched up along the centreback however, and was left with one side about 4mm high than the other. I cheated by steaming out the difference… hand picking the zip meant full control of the ease.


After hemming my pants, it was midday on Day 6… which meant I actually finished a garment!!!!!

I got a kickstart on my next French Jacket for the class starting on Monday… meanwhile most everyone else was having sleeves on their jacket’s and dresses draped on by Susan.

Margie’s Marfy 3022 was beginning to show the early signs of being a stunner of a jacket:


Helen’s Galaxy Dress is all but done, and she planned to sew in the lining on the flight back to Perth:


She was convinced by everyone that she would need to have a matching belt made up.

Sharon’s striking silvery grey and charcoal Simplicity Blazer was finished all but lining after finishing off a pair of bound button holes. She also brought along her Cotton and Linen book, ending up with a photo op wearing the dress on the front page of the book!



Judith’s was making significant progress on her lace sheath dress too, determining whether or not to underlining the sleeve with the same coloured silk or not.


Oh, and the three versions of Vogue 8333 being sewn up were just jaw droppingly awesome.

I’ll be back next week with the French Jacket course, and hopefully soon I’ll be able to take some photos of my finished pants!



  1. Your pants are looking wonderful. I agree with you about preferring invisible zips most of the time. I often stitch them in by hand to control the ease; hand sewing does make some things easier. Thanks for sharing all the pics of the other projects. I’m looking forward to watching your jacket take form next week.

  2. It’s so great to see your pants come along. I love learning about all the details and the choices that have gone into the construction.

    It’s also really great to have this peek into working with Susan Khalje. Her method for choosing the right size in Big Four pattern finally broke me out of a total impasse and her Craftsy class “The Couture Dress” is the equivalent of a novel so good you’re scared to finish it. In other words, I love being able to see what you and other participants are making in these exceptional workshops :-)

  3. Your pants look amazing, can’t wait to see finished pics. Thanks also for sharing the other happenings in class, I really enjoy all the insights, and really wished I could be there. I do hope Susan comes down this way again and I’m better prepared.

    1. We’ve been doing our best to convince her to come back – so hopefully there will be a next time! I’m hoping I can get some photos of them relatively soon – it’s going to be an interesting challenge haha!

  4. Regarding the “flat bottom” adjustment requirement for trousers. My book by Sandra Betzina suggest making a smaller back pant pattern and just adjust the notches and hem to match. It seems to help, but my other issues (fleshy inner thigh in particular) keep me from being able to tell if this deals with the issue. If you don’t mind, could you tell me what adjustment you did for this issue at your course?

    Thank you.



    1. Hi Karen, it’s not something that can really be conveyed in writing, or even with words I think. The thing with having Susan fit you is that she manipulates the garment whilst it’s on you. I managed to get a good crotch curve working on my own, and just needed help with the legs. For me, this entailed undoing the seams up to about an inch below the crotch, then repinning back together so that the grainline at the front and back remained perpendicular to the floor.

  5. What a gorgeous pair of trousers. I love all the hand sewing – and hand sewing a zip in is the best in terms of manipulation of fabric AND zipper. Your fabric is lovely. I wish wish WISH I could do a couture school with Susan, so love creating vicariously through everyone who posts about their attendance at her workshops. Looking forward to your jackets next week!

    1. Couldn’t agree more – I would never have been able to get away with the extra fabric under my waistband had I sewn that by machine! Thank you – I’m looking forward to it as well!

  6. I enjoy these posts. I would love to see photos of the Vogue 8333 jackets. I think the Galaxy dress is fine as is — no belt needed.

  7. Your pants are looking fab! How fantastic to end up with a perfectly fitted pair of pants, and even better, a base pattern for any future pants. I am sooo looking forward to my classes in Brisbane, although I am now wondering if my choice of V1428 will be too complicated and I should choose a simpler option!

    1. Exactly :) Oh Vogue 1428 is rather special! No I don’t think it will – and you’ll learn so much from it. Susan does send off notes post the class to help with you finishing it as well. I’d love to see your progress – we were putting #couturesewingschool on our instagram pics – you and the brisbanites should too! Especially because I want to see what fabrics you end up working with!! I’m very excited for you! :)

      1. Thanks for the vote of confidence on 1428; I’ll stick to the plan! #…yep, will remember and use that one!

  8. Loving reading your progress and everyone else’s! How amazing to be able to go to these classes, I’d be happy to be there being the tea lady for you, watching and learning!

  9. I adore Susan and her patient, encouraging teaching. Your pants are fabulous and I so appreciate that you are taking the time to post about the class.

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