Sew a Literal Pencil Pouch

This post my contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

 Free pattern and video tutorial

I have a new video tutorial to share with you today! You can learn to sew a pencil-shaped pencil pouch with this beginner friendly tutorial. Watch the video and grab the free pattern just below. Enjoy! :) 

Here is the pattern you'll need. Just right click and save to your computer, then open and print! 

 Pencil Pouch video tutorial and free pattern

As always, if you use this tutorial, I'd love to see! Find me on Instagram and share your creation with me: @NikkiSchreiner

Comment

Sewing updates, life updates

This post my contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

I have SO many ideas on my Evernote list of possible blog posts. So many ideas, so little time. To give you a short life update: my husband deployed, we have started our homeschool year, the extracurriculars have started back up after Summer break and I myself am in charge of the yard work and house fixes and other various things that usually the man of the house takes care of. We're doing well, but sheesh, I'm tired at the end of every day! It also took running out of clean kitchen towels to realize it's Casey who stays on top of the laundry situation better than I do, ha! 

ACS_0111.JPG

A few months ago, I had the foresight to know that teaching sewing this year was off the table and have decided that it's probably off the table until my homeschooling years are over. I will miss teaching and miss seeing my students regularly, but I am also very relieved, now that we're in the thick of things, that I made this decision! Luckily, I still have my blog and YouTube channel as outlets to create sewing tutorials and teach others. 

Despite the busyness, I still squeeze in time for sewing therapy! Right now I'm working on a quilt for Natalie. The one I made her when she was five (!!) is still beautiful, but she has outgrown the young style of it. Still, that quilt will always be special to her, and to me, as it's the only one I ever hand quilted! The pattern is from this book, one of my favorites ever. Here's a photo of it when it was still unfinished: 

 quilt by Nikki Schreiner of Pin, Cut, Sew Studio from the book, Material Obsession

The pattern I'm using for her new one is the Warrior quilt pattern by Suzy Williams and it's free! We chose all the fabrics together. I've had this quilt on my Pinterest board for quite awhile, so I was thrilled she chose it. It seems like today's modern quilting consist of many solid colors and less prints. 

 Warrior Quilt Pattern, free on fabricworm

I've also made a couple of baby quilts, they just need batting and backing. I made them without anyone in mind to gift them to, I just had a free weekend and the itch to quilt. I thought about selling them, but I actually think I know who to gift them to now that they've been made. I absolutely love the boy one! For the girl one, I used this free pattern

 baby quilts by Nikki of Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

I've had adventures in dancewear sewing recently too. More on that in it's own separate post coming soon. Sewing dancewear was my sewing goal for this year and having two ballerinas in the house has made this more of a necessity for financial reasons (dance moms know, those leotards can be soooo expensive as they get older!) While I gather supplies, I started by altering and embellishing three plain solid leotards found in the $5 bin at the dance store, with stretch lace and mesh. They turned out amazing and Natalie is thrilled! 

 Sewing Dancewear by Nikki at Pin, Cut, Sew studio

I almost forgot, I made a dress too! I'm not really sure I'm in love with it, though. I may shorten it an inch or two? I do love that neckline, but I feel like it's a bit dowdy. I kinda wish I'd made a lightweight cardigan with this fabric instead. It's from Hobby Lobby's Fall line and it's a beautiful rayon spandex, so I could get some more and make the cardigan happen. We'll see. 

 McCall's 7591

Lastly, I do have a new YouTube tutorial in the works! I'm hoping to film that on Saturday, so stay tuned for that next week. Here's  a sneak peak! 

 Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

Oh, wait, I almost forgot! Since I'm not teaching sewing now, I turned half the sewing studio into a school space! I can't believe how much we love it. It's so nice to have a space where the dirty dishes are not staring me in the face while we do school, haha! I also really like it because it's a space for me to sit and write or take care of the administrative details of life and homeschool co op, etc ... But anyway, I needed some chairs for our school table. I didn't have a lot to spend and I wanted rolling chairs and chairs with cushions. I found a set of four of these 80's gems on a used site and recovered them with duck cloth from Hobby Lobby. They look completely different and we love them! 

 80's chair makeover 

I took them apart, which was pretty straightforward, recovered the seats with a staple gun, then made a pattern to simply slipcover the backs. It worked great, and the whole thing cost me about $80, definitely cheaper than the cheapest chairs I could have afforded at Ikea! Now the problem is that the kids are lazy and just roll over to get a drink or a pencil instead of using their legs ;)

Comment

How to sew a cover for any size Bible or book

This post my contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

It's been awhile since I've made a YouTube video, so I'm so excited to share a new one with you today! Natalie got a new Bible recently and wanted a cover for it with handles. This ain't your Grandma's bible cover, I promise, it's simple and modern! I based this off of the one I'd made for my own Bible years ago out of some Kazakh embroidery my mom had given me from Mongolia. 

Here's the tutorial! I'd love it if you'd subscribe and share! I feel so honored to have over 2,000 subscribers, YouTube is pretty fun. Below the video, I'll link up to the products I mentioned. Enjoy!

 Bible or book cover video tutorial by Nikki Schreiner 
1 Comment

How to make time for hobbies

This post my contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

 How to make time for hobbies by Nikki Schreiner

One of the things I have been most often asked throughout my entire adult life, is, "How do you have time for all that sewing?" I usually kind of shrug and laugh it off, feeling a little bit like maybe a grown woman with kids who home schools ought to be too busy for hobbies, or worried that people think I neglect my home and family and sit in front of the TV with knitting needles all day (I was literally accused of that once), but I actually do strategically fit my hobbies into my life on purpose and I'm going to share some of the ways I do that here today. 

First, though, let me just say that there is a season for everything and while I do have a busy life as a home school mom, I am home quite a bit and I do not work outside of my home. You may truly be in a season of life that is just too full to squeeze in one more thing, even if it's something you enjoy, so if that's you, please don't read this and find any guilt for not getting the watercolors out with your kids in the evenings or not reading more theology books, okay? No guilt! Second, we all must find a balance between using hobbies as self-care as we can fit them in and idolizing that "me-time" that hobbies can provide. If I'm yelling at my children to leave me alone because I'm immersed in a sewing project, my priorities are out of whack.

So now that we have those caveats out of the way, these are simply ways I have managed to squeeze in things I love to do and that keep me sane throughout various seasons and life changes.

1. Make your hobbies convenient.  

I had a neighbor growing up who kept a sewing machine in her hall closet way up high and would get it out to fix a hem or something. Because my mom had a designated sewing space, I thought this was totally weird, ha! If your sewing machine is up in a closet somewhere and all your tools put away, you'll probably never get it out to sew. Making your hobbies easily accessible will go a long way in how much you get to enjoy them. At our house, I keep a pretty vintage magazine holder next to my favorite chair full of the books I'm currently reading, so they're easy to grab when I have a minute to sit. I have a mug of paint brushes on a shelf over my dining room table and the bin of watercolor supplies nearby so it's easy for us to get out and paint without searching for supplies. My sewing space has migrated as my seasons of childrearing have changed. When the kids were younger, I made space in our various living rooms, so I could sew while also being where the kids were. Right now I have a large space to sew in, but in Hawaii, I only had a hallway desk. When we go out and I take my big camera, I don't even bring it in a case, I just sling it over my shoulder so it's easily accessible to me, knowing that if I had it in a backpack with several choices of lenses, it would feel like a chore to even get it out. 

 how to make time for hobbies

2. Find small pockets of time to work on your hobbies

I sometimes sit down to play the piano while dinner is in the oven, or while waiting on friends to arrive. I read in between dance drop off/pick ups. I know many sewists who complete projects one seam at a time, in ten minute increments. This is another perk to having your hobbies out and accessible to you. Especially if you have small children at home, using those 10 or 20 minutes to enjoy your hobby is a good strategy. 

 Making time for hobbies

3. Take your hobby with you

If you're anything like me, you have more than one thing you love to do and at least one of those things is portable. Hand sewing projects, crochet, knitting, photography, reading, embroidery; these are all things that I've brought along in the past. Use those hours sitting at basketball or dress rehearsals to your advantage!

 How to make time for hobbies

4. Realize that hobbies can come and go

There were many years that I was a scrapbooker. I loved to do it, I loved to go to crop nights with friends and I found a lot of satisfaction in that. There came a time, though, when I just didn't have time to keep up with it and I did not need a hobby that made me feel behind in something! So I put it aside. When we were moving here to Utah from Hawaii, we didn't have our belongings for a few months and my hands were itching to create something, so I brought an Amigurumi crochet book, a hook and some yarn and it gave me something to put my hands to in that season, even though crochet isn't something I make time for ordinarily. Even in sewing, there were seasons I enjoyed quilting more and others when I preferred garment sewing. It's ok to pick up hobbies as you go and put others aside. There can be guilt in knowing how to do something or knowing you're good at something and not putting those skills to use, but that's just silly, isn't it? 

 How to make time for hobbies

5. Find buddies to enjoy your hobbies with you

I love talking books with my mom and show-and-telling sewing projects over FaceTime. I enjoy teaching my friends to sew. I love sharing and commenting on sewing projects through social media. My girls and I have a blast coming up with photo shoot ideas, they are definitely my best photography buddies! There are tons of ways to find people who love the same things you love and that kind of community makes hobbies so much more fun. 

 When dancers play baseball

When dancers play baseball

6. Think twice before offering up your skills to others

Just because you're good at something doesn't mean you should do it for money, or even as a favor, to others. There have been many times I have taken on sewing work that I did not want to do and that I did not need the money for, just because a friend asked and I knew I could do it, so I said yes. Find a way to say no that is gracious and then SAY IT! I usually say something like, "I don't take on custom work, I just don't have time". I should add that there are times I am asked that I actually do want to take on projects, such as costumes for the Narnia play our home school co op put on last year, but I weigh those decisions carefully before volunteering. That's sewing, though. Photography I actually LOVE to do for my friends, but I cannot do it for money, it's just too much pressure and I don't have time to deal with the administrative part of trying to make a go of photography as a business. So I usually say I work for coffee, ha! My point it, as with all things in life, you have to figure out what your boundaries are and stick to them. If you don't, before you know it, the precious time you have to work on your hobby will be eaten up by projects you really didn't want to do in the first place. 

 Mr. Tumnus 

Mr. Tumnus 

7. Last, but not least, stop wasting time

Dare I say it? Put down your phone!! While a few of us may really, truly not have moments to spare for enjoyment throughout the day, I'd be willing to bet the majority of people who say they don't have time to fit in hobbies are wasting large chunks of time on mindless activities that produce nothing. How do I have time for "all that sewing?" I do not watch TV in the middle of the day. It feels rude to say that to people when they ask me that questions, but it's what I really want to tell them! (When I do watch something in the evenings, I use that time for yet another hobby: I do the New York Times crossword every night, like a grandpa, ha!). Furthermore, around Christmastime last year, I decided I really wanted to read more. I have always loved to read and while I had a good excuse why I didn't get many books read in a year when my kids were little, I can't use that excuse now that they're preteens. I decided that if I had a few minutes, where I would almost always pick up my phone and fritter the time away, I'd pick up a book instead. You guys, I have read 32 books so far this year!! What!? Theology, history, biography, so many good books. That is a LOT of hours I was spending mindlessly on social media. Use your time wisely. 

 My living room sewing space in our Colorado house.

My living room sewing space in our Colorado house.

If you have anything to add to these ideas, I would love to hear them! Please share in the comments. 

Cheers! 

 

 

2 Comments

How to Read a Sewing Pattern Part 4: Reading the Instructions

This post my contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

I'm back with part 4 of a series on how to read sewing patterns and today we're going to learn to decipher the instructions! If you haven't read the rest of the series yet, here are some links: 

Part 1: Choosing your pattern and reading the envelope

Part 2: Making sense of sizing

Part 3: Cutting out your pieces

 How to sew with patterns

Did you ever take those quizzes in school, where the first instructions was to read all the instructions and the last instruction was to ignore every instruction after the first one? So you looked like a total idiot if you skipped reading the instructions? Yeah, well, when reading sewing patterns, I'm going to tell you NOT to read all the instructions before you start. If you're a beginner at using patterns, reading all that stuff with all those drawings is just going to overwhelm you. Thus, today's Pro Tip: Just take it one step at a time! 

We talked about the first page of instructions already when we learned to use the cutting diagrams in part 3, but there's some more important information on that sheet. In time, you won't need to refer to this page at all, but for starting out, if you're having a hard time knowing what the instructions mean by certain terms, go back to your "General Instructions" and chances are you'll find your answer. See below the glossary of terms on a pattern I cut out to make today. 

 How to read sewing patterns 

I know, those are very short descriptions, but it's okay because we have the Internet, ha! I promise you'll find plenty of videos or more thorough explanations of any of these terms with a quick google search. 

Also on this page, you'll find your "seam allowance", which is how far from the raw edges you're going to be sewing unless otherwise instructed on certain steps. For garment sewing, seam allowances are almost always 5/8" (in the U.S., at least). If you have trouble knowing where that is on your machine, use your gauge to measure from the needle and stick a piece of washi tape there as a guide. I do this for my sewing students quite a bit to help them stay on their seam allowance! 

 How to use a sewing pattern

You can also see in the above photo, along with the seam allowance, there's a fabric key. In the drawings throughout the instructions, you'll come across these textures to help you see which parts in the drawings are the right or wrong side of the fabric, for example. 

The last bit of good info on this sheet is about pattern markings. You may have noticed when you cut out your pieces, there are notches, circles, squares and/or triangles all over them. These markings are important! You'll find your own favorite methods of marking, but I'll share some of what I do after this next photo. 

 How to sew with patterns

Most of your markings will be notches and these help you line up your pieces correctly when sewing them together. I cut a small snip (not too big, maybe 1/4" so it's well inside my seam allowance). For the circles, squares and triangles, different people have different preferred methods. A collection of marking pens and tailors chalk is a good thing to have on hand. I don't like marking with these things, so I almost always just mark with pins by picking up a couple threads with a pin in just the right spot. This works for me, but experiment with the tools available to you and decide what you like best. Megan Nielsen has written an excellent article on five ways to make your pattern markings. To make these markings, simply stick a pin through the circle on the pattern piece and then mark each fabric layer right on the pin. 

 See that pin in my dart circle? 

See that pin in my dart circle? 

You're officially ready to start sewing! And remember, just take it one step at a time! 

Trying to write a post covering every new thing you'll encounter as you sew various patterns would be impossible, but here are my three pieces of advice as you work through the instructions: 

  1. Trust the process. Some steps may not make sense at first, but they're in there for a reason, so don't skip them. 
  2. Us the Internet! One of the best things about people who sew is that they love to help others learn to sew too and there is so much content online to help you with those steps you don't understand. 
  3. Press as you go. You can always tell when a handmade garment has not been properly pressed! Make friends with your iron, because it is an essential tool in sewing. When the instructions say press, you'd better press! I use Shark irons in my studio  and I love them. And remember, pressing is different that ironing

I hope this series has helped you feel prepared to tackle sewing with patterns! Part 5 will be about fitting garments as you go, so stay tuned for that next week. Cheers! 

1 Comment

Sewing Inspo

This post my contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy. 

My girls are ballet dancers and we are smack in the middle of recital week and since there has been zero time for actual sewing, I'm enjoying some virtual sewing instead! Here are some great ideas and inspiring projects I've spotted around the web recently. I hope you enjoy! 

 Sewing Inspiration Spring 2018

First up, I absolutely love these tote bag panels by Hawthorne Threads. All the choices are right on trend and easy for new or experienced sewists. What a great idea! I love this "Take a Hike" one, but they are all seriously cool. If you're not familiar with panel projects, this means that you purchase a panel and the pieces you need are printed directly onto the fabric. So you cut out the pieces and sew it together, no pattern needed! (See the photo on the left). 

 Tote bag fabric panels

Next, Handmade Charlotte has this ADORABLE Ice Cream Necklace tutorial. My kids and their friends would absolutely love these and so would my sewing students. Sometimes I plan small craft projects for when we have extra time and these are perfect for that. 

 Ice Cream Necklace craft

A Beautiful Mess has instructions for making a duvet cover out of flat sheets. I love this idea because my girls are both tired of their comforters and this is such an easy way to make them new! 

 Make a duvet from flat sheets

Oh my goodness, these Tartan-inspired quilts on C&T Publishing are so beautiful! I've been wanting a new quilt project and love so many of the plaid ones I'm seeing. I may pull some fabrics out to start on one of these (after recital week, of course!)

 Tartan Quilt

Here is a cute and easy knotted hair bow tutorial by makeit-loveit. Even if you don't make some, be sure and check out her cute post with hair styling ideas. 

 Knotted Hair bow tutorial

I don't own a Cricut and wasn't really interested in them until I spotted this adorable kids backpack on SewMuchAdo and was surprised to read that it was a pattern by Simplicity for Cricut. Apparently the two have teamed up and I'm intrigued to look more into this partnership and all that they offer as far as sewing patterns. I sure can imagine the possibilities! 

 Kids backpack: Cricut + Simplicity

I have a soft spot (pun intended) for sock animals and I cannot get over this amazing sock "Narwhal the Unicorn Whale" pattern by Craft Passion. 

 Sock Narwhal

And if you're into sock animals, don't forget I made a video on how to make a sock monkey (it's really not hard at all!) and it's my second most popular video, so check it out! I recently made my husband a monkey out of some Star Wars socks he found. He's pretty awesome. 

Wish me luck for the rest of recital week and hopefully I can squeeze some sewing time in soon! In the meantime, I'll keep admiring and sharing the work of others. 

Cheers and Happy Sewing! 

Comment

How to read a sewing pattern part 3: Cutting out your pieces

This post contains affiliate links, which mean that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy. 

I'm back today with the next steps in reading a sewing pattern! If you haven't read the first two posts, you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Today's topic is getting to the fun stuff: how to cut out your pieces. 

 How to read a sewing pattern part 3: cutting out your pieces, by www.pincutsewstudio.com

If you're looking at that first sheet of pattern instructions, it may look like Greek and you may feel completely overwhelmed. I'm going to try to explain what all of that stuff means, which of it is important and which of it you can just ignore. (Spoiler, most of it you can ignore.) 

For today's example, I'm not going to use the girls' shorts pattern I've used thus far in the series because it's almost two simple for this step! I think they've geared that pattern more toward beginners and children, which is great! But chances are, your first chosen pattern will be more complicated than that and will include more than the two pieces my shorts pattern has. So I'm going to choose a pattern I've made recently, Simplicity 8601.

 Simplicity pattern 8601

The first page of instructions includes some basic terms and your seam allowance, we'll get to that in Part 4. For now, you need to find the pattern pieces of the view you're going to make. For my shirt pattern, I like View C. So you can see in the "Cutting Layouts" section, I've found "C Top" and it tells me I need pattern pieces 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, & 8. I'm going to open up my pattern tissue and find those pieces and cut around them roughly. You do NOT need to cut them out on the lines! Doing so is a waste of time. Your fabric scissors are fine on this tissue and you can just pin the piece to your fabric as-is, cutting on the lines as you cut your fabric. 

 How to read sewing patterns by www.pincutsewstudio.com

Pro Tip: I usually don't even refer to these Cutting Layouts. I simply open the pattern tissues and find the pieces that say "C" or whatever view I'm making. Once you gain confidence, all of this will be intuitive, but for now, if you're a beginner, you will probably find these layouts helpful. 

You'll notice many pieces share pieces between views. The front piece may be the front for all views (like my front piece below). Also, some smaller pieces, like facings, may have a pattern piece for each size. Refer to my last post about choosing your size if you're unsure on that! 

 Reading sewing patterns by www.pincutsewstudio.com

Once you've found all your pieces, you need to lay them out on your fabric. We almost always cut patterns out with the fabric folded selvedge to selvedge. The selvedge edge is that finished edge that doesn't ravel. So you fold the fabric in half lengthwise so those selvedges meet up and you get a nice folded edge. The cut edges may not match up when the selvedge does because the person who cut your fabric may not have cut it straight, but it's really only important that the selvedges match up because this is how you'll be sure and cut your pieces out "on grain", which basically means the fibers running through your fabric will be straight and not slanted, which matters in the way the finished garment hangs on the body. Below is a photo of what selvedge edges look like on a few different fabrics. 

 Selvedge edge examples. Series on reading sewing patterns by www.pincutsewstudio.com

Another thing you'll notice is that fabrics have more stretch going one direction than they do the other. The stretch runs the opposite direction that the selvedge runs (almost always) and you always want the stretch going across your body, not up and down. There are exceptions to this, like swimsuit knits which stretch every which-way and fleece, which has no grain, to name a few, but the rule is still true of most fabrics. 

I hope I'm not bogging you down in details, but I have to add one thing! Just as we talked about how the back of the pattern has yardage requirements for either 45" or 60" widths of fabric, the cutting layouts cover those same bases. Choose the diagram that matches your width of fabric, obviously. 

Let's move on. Pay attention to which pattern pieces need cut on the fold and how many of each piece you need to cut. You can see in that first photo at the beginning of this post that my cutting diagram for view C places the front piece on the fold along with the sleeve front and facing and shows me how best to fit my pieces onto the amount of fabric the back of the envelope said it required. Interestingly, (or confusingly?) my front and sleeve pieces have seams and don't need cut on the fold. I assume they mean to cut that fold open after you cut your pieces, but that's dumb. I'd place them a bit away from the fold and cut them in two pieces. Most tops, however, will have the front cut on the fold! See below, the facing in the photo on the right does say to place on the fold, whereas my front piece on the left says "center front seam" on that straight edge and to cut two. (You're cutting two at once, because your fabric is folded, remember?) 

 How to cut out sewing patterns by www.pincutsewstudio.com

Pro Tip: I always order a bit more than the envelope says, because these diagrams have the pattern pieces squeezed into a pretty tight fit! Fabric often gets cut crooked when you buy it, which takes some inches away, and they also may shrink in the wash (always prewash and dry your fabric!) so I just like to have a buffer. Not to mention, I sometimes make cutting mistakes! 

Finally, pin your pattern pieces on (don't get crazy, just a pin in each corner, on curves, a couple on long edges) and cut out your correct size, that's all there is to it! I like these kind of pins best because they're long and sturdy, but another option is to use pattern weights like these. Also, I often cut patterns with a rotary cutter and mat to save time. (This works best when the pattern tissue has already been cut to size). I have several of this set for my classes. A rotary cutter and ruler is a good investment for anyone who sews! 

Some of your pattern pieces may say to also cut from interfacing. Interfacing is an iron on stabilizer often used in parts like facings, collars, button plackets, etc.... and the back of your pattern envelope tells you how much you need along with your fabric requirements. I like this knit kind best and you can buy yardage of it at your fabric store, although that blot from Amazon is a good deal. Here's an example on my facing piece where you can see below it that it tells you what to cut it from:

 Tips for cutting out patterns by www.pincutsewstudio.com

Here is my finished top made from Simplicity 8601, although I decided to eliminate the sleeves and lower the neckline. I do sure love the tie waist tops this season! You can see all the things I've made recently in my last post if you missed it. It's always fun to see what others are making! 

 Simplicity 8601 by Nikki Schreiner

Here's a list of the installments of this series I have so far!

Part 1: Choosing a pattern

Part 2: Making sense of sizing

Let me know if there are steps I'm missing or questions you have and I will address them in the last post of the series! 

Cheers and Happy Sewing 

2 Comments

How to read a sewing pattern part 1: Choosing your pattern and reading the envelope

This post contains affiliate links, which mean that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy. 

I have had no fewer than three people lament to me that they wish they could read a sewing pattern in the last week! Two of them were mothers of my students, who can thread a machine, but are lost when it comes to helping their children sew, and the third was one of my older students. 

Clearly the world of patterns is confusing to beginner sewists, so I am taking it upon myself to try and clear up the confusion! This is part one of what will be a five or six part series over the next few weeks. 

 How to read a sewing pattern: a beginner friendly series by Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

Today's topic starts at the very beginning. There are so many sewing patterns, how do you even choose? 

Let me state up front that the patterns I'm referring to in this series are the kind you'll find at the fabric stores by companies known in the sewing world as "The Big 4" (also the title of an Agatha Christie book I'm currently reading, incidentally, ha!). McCall's, Butterick, Simplicity/New Look and Vogue. There is an entire industry of "Indie patterns" out there, but these are quite different and much more expensive than you can find at your local craft store, although there are many great things about those patterns too.  

Speaking of expense: 

Pro Tip #1: Do not ever pay full price for Big 4 sewing patterns!! The sticker prices are something crazy like $18 or even $25, and then most places have their everyday sale prices of 40% off. But don't pay that either!! JoAnn and Hobby Lobby continually put these patterns on sale for ONE OR TWO DOLLARS!! And if you live somewhere without those stores, the pattern websites themselves often have $3.99 sales, which I would wait for when I lived in Hawaii. When I made this shorts pattern with my sewing students, I snagged the patterns for $.99 each, meaning I was able to purchase one for each girl to use and take home to keep. (This intel is for people in the U.S., I really don't know the best way to get good deals on patterns in other countries, I'm so sorry!)

If you're brand new to patterns, keep it super simple. For our purposes in this series, I'll be using Simplicity pattern # 8401. I've recently sewn this pattern with my students and know that it only has two pattern pieces to make a pair of cute shorts! There are another two pieces for a pair of doll shorts. If you're wanting to start with clothing, choose something basic and take note of fancy elements, such as zippers, button holes, pleats, godets, etc ... I'm not saying steer clear of those elements, but I may be saying, choose a pattern with one new-to-you concept and not five. If you add one new skill per project, you'll be a pro in no time! 

 How to use a sewing pattern by Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

Pro Tip #2: Just because a pattern says "Sew Easy" or something similar, doesn't necessarily mean it's true! Look at the line drawings on the back of the envelope to give you a better idea of what's involved than the photo on the front of the envelope will, and then decide what you're willing to tackle. 

 How to read sewing patterns by Pin, Cut, Sew studio

So, once you've chosen your pattern, spend some time on the back of that envelope. Other than those helpful line drawings, there is lots of important info back there. The top box should tell you which kinds of fabrics the pattern is suitable for. Don't obsess too much over this, but for sure don't choose a knit (stretchy) if the pattern is made for woven fabrics (non-stretchy). Also, if you're making a flowy skirt, don't choose a stiff quilting cotton unless you want your skirt to stand out like a tent around your body. This part is somewhat intuitive and comes with experience and trial and error. 

 How to use a sewing pattern, by pincutsewstudio.com

The next box is the sizing chart. I cannot overemphasize that pattern sizing is very different from ready-to-wear sizing! If I wear a 6 or 8 at Target, I'll probably sew a 12 in patterns. This topic requires a post by itself, so stay tuned for part 2 of the series, coming in a few days! 

 How to sew with a pattern by pincutsewstudio.com

Next, there is a box that tells you how much yardage to buy based on your size. If your pattern is say, for a lined skirt, the box will tell you how much you need of both your skirt fabric and your lining. If you're making a garment with two fabrics like a top with a lace inset, the pattern will usually refer to the accent fabric as the "contrast". This section also tells you which notions are needed for each view, although sometimes the notions get their own little box. Our shorts pattern says that the girls' shorts need 1" elastic and the doll pair requires 1/4" elastic. It also tells me how much trim we need. You may want to buy a smidge more fabric than required to accommodate for either shrinkage or cutting mistakes. 

 How to read sewing patterns, by pincutsewstudio.com

One more thing about the fabric requirement. You can see my pattern says different amount of fabrics for either 45" or 60". This is referring to the width of your fabric. If you choose a quilting cotton for example, the width will be 45" wide, but most linens and denims and also many knits and other types of fabrics come wider. The end of the bolt of fabric will give you this information, along with the fabric content, the washing instructions and the price. Actually, those wider fabrics tend to say 58", not 60" like we always say they are, but at any rate, they will still work for those 60" fabric requirements. Just thought I'd mention that in case someone is standing in the sewing store with a bolt in their hands wondering why they can't find anything that says 60" wide!

Pro Tip #3: You can find fabric or even sheets at thrift stores to try out your pattern with if you want to do a practice run. We can this "making a muslin". This way you can figure out the fit without worrying about messing up your good fabric. 

I think that sums up the pattern as far as the outside of the envelope! Be sure and come back for part 2, (Part 2 is here!) in which I'll attempt to unscramble pattern sizing for you! 

Comment

3 New Sewing Books to Check Out

This post contains affiliate links, which mean that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy. 

Last week I moved some new sewing books from my Amazon wish list into my cart and then I tossed a third one in there because it was on super sale and that ended up being the one I'm most excited about! 

 Three new sewing books to check out! 

Since that super sale may not last long, I'll tell you first about Superhero Sewing, by Lane Huerta. You guys, this book is SO FUN and super cute and it's on sale on Amazon right now for $8.88!! It's regularly $24.99, so this is a great deal. 

If you have little people in your life, (or heck, big kids like my 13-year-old who just said she wants the rabbit hat out of this book), or if you are looking for fun ideas to sew for or with your kids, this book is so adorable and all the projects are super easy. It looks like many of them are made out of felt, which simplifies things even more. No fraying edges! 

 Excerpt from Superhero Sewing

Some of my favorite dress up items in the book are the pirate set, complete with hats, eye patches and a pirate ship's flag, the magician hat (with bunny and never-ending flag trick!), and the woodland creatures. The rabbit is just to die for. 

 Excerpt from Superhero Sewing
 Excerpt from Superhero Sewing

Another way I can see this book being useful is to use the base patterns to create other costumes. I made multiple Narnia creature costumes for a play our homeschool co-op put on this year and I used the same hat pattern to make all the animals, just changing up the fur and ears. This book includes great patterns that can easily be adapted to make other things. 

The best part is, my youngest students can handle these projects and they would be so excited to make dress up things. I can't wait to show it to them next class! 

Next up, Making Faces in Fabric by Melissa Averinos probably wouldn't have been on my radar as something I'd like to try if I hadn't stumbled on Kristin Shields' example and this photo on Instagram of Thread Sewing School's students' finished faces. These are amazing! I've since started following the author, Melissa Averinos on Instagram and am so inspired by her work.

While sitting outside with my hens today, I was able to skim through the steps and I am truly excited, not only to try this myself, but to teach it to my students. How fun would it be for them to make their own self portraits in fabric!? 

 Making Faces in Fabric by Melissa Averino

Making Faces in Fabric by Melissa Averino

The thing I like best is that she includes thorough, but not overwhelming instructions for drawing faces and where all the parts go and how to make noses that don't look dumb (ha!) so this book is not just for those who consider themselves artistic, it's a way to grow as a fabric artist and get really creative. 

Last but not least, I have long been a fan of the Sewing School series by (not to mention, we absolutely love Baking class and have Cooking Class on our wish list!) so when I found out there was one I didn't have, I ordered it right up. Sewing School Quilts, like the others in the series, is written for kids, not for grown-ups, in words and pictures that make it easy for them to complete projects with minimal help. However, there are tips in the front for quilting with kids in a group setting and I love the idea of hosting a quilting club for my kids to invite their friends! 

Because this is a kids' book, the projects in the book are made by kids with all their glorious imperfections! The book offers ideas for projects that kids can make on their own or in a class or at a sewing party. Super fun. 

 Excerpt from Sewing School Quilts

That's it for now, I can confidently recommend each of these books. I have several more on my radar that are coming out in the next few months, so I'll keep you updated as I add to my collection! 

Comment

How to Make a Unicorn Headband

This post contains affiliate links, which mean that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy. 

 Unicorn Headbands DIY

Unicorns are all the rage right now! I have an 11-year-old daughter who's a tad obsessed. I thought a unicorn headband would be a fun DIY project to post a tutorial for. My 13-year-old got to work a couple days ago and made one together, the Layla whipped one up today. Super fun! 

 Unicorn Headband tutorial by Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

Before you get started, you'll need to grab this free pattern. Just click on this photo to make it big, then right click to save it to your desktop. From there, you should be able to print it (make sure you click "fill page"). 

 Unicorn Headband Pattern

As for fabrics, anything goes! We used small scraps of some sparkly costume fabrics, some fleece and novelty fleece we like to call "Flur", and felt for the flowers. You'll also need a headband. Ours was the wrong color, so we wrapped it in ribbon, but that's optional. This project can easily be sewn by hand (there are only a couple small sewing parts) if you don't use a sewing machine. A glue gun is also a must. 

Start by cutting out one horn and four ear pieces total, two from your ear back fabric and two from your inner ear fabric. You can cut two at a time, but make sure your ear face the opposite direction from each other, if that makes sense (see photo). 

 Unicorn headband tutorial

To make the horn, just fold the piece right sides together and sew from point to bottom edge in a 1/4" seam. Clip the corner to eliminate bulk and turn right side out, using your handy dandy chop stick to gently poke the point out. Stuff the horn. Nest, thread a needle and use a long running stitch to hand gather the opening edge: 

DSC_0107-3.jpg
DSC_0114-2.jpg

Then pull it tight, creating a flat-ish bottom. Knot and trim your thread. 

DSC_0115-3.jpg

To make the ears, place your outer and inner ear pieces right sides together and sew the sides, leaving the bottom open. Clip your corner and turn right side out.

DSC_0108-2.jpg

Now, to shape the ears, for our first version, we sewed a pleat, but ended up shaping them further later on by folding the outer edge in toward the middle. So when Layla made hers, she folded both sides in toward the middle and sewed across the bottom and we liked that better. Just do what you think looks best. 

DSC_0109-2.jpg

At this point, if you want to wrap your headband in ribbon, start by gluing the end of the ribbon to the bottom of the headband and then wrap it diagonally around until you get to the other end. It's fiddly to get started, but just do your best. 

Then we glued the pieces on, first the horn to get it centered (be sure and put the seam facing the back!), then the ears. The glue alone isn't secure enough, so next, thread a needle and sew the pieces, as shown in the photo. 

DSC_0117.jpg

Next, the flowers! These are so much fun to make, my girls have been making them just for fun now for two days. There are plenty of felt flower tutorials out there, but we think these are the easiest kind and perfect for this project. Find a couple circles to trace onto felt. Ours ranged from 2" to 5" in diameter. Cut out your circle and then cut it into a spiral, about 3/8"-1/2" wide. 

DSC_0118.jpg

Then, just start wrapping it around its center, ending with a dot of hot glue. That's it! I takes a little practice, but it's pretty simple. Cut some leaf shapes and arrange your flowers and leaves over your horn and ears before hot gluing them down. 

 DIY Unicorn Headband free pattern and tutorial

I hope you enjoyed this simple tutorial! If you made some unicorn headbands, I'd love to see them! And for the unicorn lover in your family, we recommend this cool book. Layla has really enjoyed it and has read some parts to us during our home school. 

 DIY Unicorn headband free pattern and tutorial
 How to make a unicorn headband
Comment

Sewing Star Wars

I live in a household of Star Wars fanatics. I grew up a Trekkie, but am a Star Wars person by marriage and my kids insist that no other space story could ever be better than Star Wars. My husband reads the books, refers to the "canon" and eye rolls at the movies that mess up the story. 

Over the years, I have gifted him many Star Wars things, and I've even made a few (well, more than just a few, I realized after typing this out!) For example, I bought Star Wars fabric and made him a couple pillow cases. This is the method I use for pillow cases. And, I made some ornaments out of the ships on a certain fabric. Maybe when I dig the Christmas stuff out, I'll write a tutorial on that! I've even made my husband and son Obi Wan and Yoda costumes for Halloween! I used this pattern. I made Layla a Rey costume too and my son a Kylo Ren cloak, but today is one of those days when I just can't wade through photos to find all these old pictures, ha! Sorry. 

But there are so many good ideas out there for sewing Star Wars that I just had to write a post and link you to the best ones! These are all FREE and include tutorials and/or patterns. See below that photo collage for the links!

PicMonkey Image.jpg
  1. Storm Trooper doll on crafting-news.com. Ridiculously cute. 
  2. Bugaboo Studio's DIY Star Wars pillows
  3. Quiet Play's Star Wars quilt is so amazing. She has lots of free paper piecing patterns for Star Wars on Craftsy. I'm currently working on the At-At! So much fun, I can't wait to show you. 
  4. Free patterns for felt Star Wars ornaments on diygeekery. 
  5. Oh my goodness, Wild Olive's Chewbaca and Maz Kanata plushies are too cute. 
  6. R2-D2 apron by so-sew-easy.
  7. Pattern for a fleece Yoda costume on fleecefun.com.

Those are the best free Star Wars sewing patterns I've found on the web so far. Have I missed any?? Feel free to link us in the comments! 

Recently I checked out this book from the library and we all got a huge kick out of it. Especially the Jabba the Hut body pillow, soooooo funny. I actually made that crochet R2 hat for my nephew last year! 

Have you sewn anything Star Wars related? I want to hear about it! 

Cheers :) 

(this post contains affiliate links, which means that I receive a small percentage when you purchase through them. I only recommend products I love!)

 

 

 

Comment

Sew Inspo: Inaugural edition!

SewInspo.png

Welcome to the first edition of Sew Inspo, where I link you to fab sewing inspiration/ideas/tutorials/resources that I've spotted around the web on any given week. (I'd love to tell you I'll be doing a new edition every week, but we'll see ... because, life is so time consuming, ha! 

I won't waste time yakking. Let's get started! 

If you've seen any other cool ideas around the web this week, be sure and let me know! 

Cheers :) 

1 Comment