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

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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! 

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The things we made in May

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. 

The best part of sewing blogs is seeing what people have made, right!? I compiled all the things we made at Pin, Cut, Sew studio in May and boy, it's a lot. 

 Monthly Makes, www.pincutsewstudio.com

I'll start with what my sewing students made over the last month. 

We made colored pencil rolls using the tutorial at Create in the Chaos. These were a hit with my students and they were all able to do the sewing with little help since it's just a lot of straight lines.

 Kids sewing class, www.pincutsewstudio.com

My other class made their own pajama shorts using Simplicity #8401. You can visit my post about teaching kids to sew clothing right here

 Teaching kids to sew at www.pincutsewstudio.com

That same class also wanted to make pineapple plushies on the last day of classes for the school year, so I came up with these cute little guys! They got to practice some embroidery and got creative with the faces. 

 Kids sewing classes at www.pincutsewstudio.com

My other class, for the last day, chose to have a free sewing day, where they could come up with their own ideas and I could help bring them to life! These two siblings came up with some super cool ideas! John made a golden snitch with a zipper case for it and Alex made a pillow to give her parents on their anniversary.

 Kids can sew, www.pincutsewstudio.com

My third student in that class made a doll skirt and shirt and a doll tote bag, but I forgot to get a photo (bad sewing teacher!) I do have a tutorial for that doll tote bag right here, though and tips for sewing doll clothes right here. Stay tuned for a tutorial on making skirts for any size doll! 

I think that's it for my classes for May, so now let me show you some personal makes! I don't always sew this many garments in a month, but there were some holes in my Summer wardrobe so I got busy. I definitely sew more of my Summer Wardrobe than I do my Winter wardrobe. I guess I have no desire to make jeans or sweaters, ha! 

I'll start with the most recent make because it's a new favorite. I made yet another Blackwood Cardigan and it's my best one yet. Actually the next three photos include makes from this pattern, so you could say I'm obssessed. I don't buy a lot of indie sewing patterns, but it's safe to say I've gotten my money's worth from this one! 

 Blackwood Cardigan made by Nikki at www.pincutsewstudio.com

This next one I made awhile back. I didn't have enough fabric to make sleeves, so I made it a vest instead. Both this fabric and the stripe above are from GirlCharlee.com, a great resource for knits of all kinds. I made this gray tank too, from a pattern I drafted from a ready-to-wear tank. Fabric is from Hobby Lobby. 

 Blackwood Cardigan, www.pincutsewstudio.com

I liked that one so much, I pulled out another knit I didn't have a whole lot of (I actually bought it from a thrift store) and made another Blackwood vest. This knit is thicker and it turned out with kind of a utility vest vibe, which I dig! 

 Blackwood cardigan vest by www.pincutsewstudio.com

Next up, this is my favorite top! This organic cotton double knit has been on the clearance table at Joann literally since I moved here a year ago, but it was still super pricey. It finally went down in price another notch and I bought a yard. I used a tried and true pattern, Very Easy Vogue 9109      and I love it so much. 

 Vogue 9109 by Nikki of www.pincutsewstudio.com

My next outift includes two handmade pieces. I wanted a higher waisted crisp denim skirt. I grabbed the perfect denim at a Joann sale and used a Cynthia Rowley pattern, Simplicity 1783. I almost always Cynthia Rowley's designs and this one turned out great! The yellow lace tie top was made with a mustard lace I'd had in my stash for a couple years and I used the new pattern, Simplicity 8601, eliminating the sleeves and lowering the neckline. I like this look and my fashionista daughter said it's her favorite, so I think it's a good one! 

 Simplicity 1783 & 8601 by Nikki of www.pincutsewstudio.com

I really needed some basic tanks, so I snatched one yard of this rayon jersey at Joann and used the free pattern by Hey June called the Durango Tank. I highly recommend, the cut is great and you can't beat free! Be sure and check out her other patterns too. 

 Durango Tank pattern

This is another outfit with two handmade pieces. The skirt is a very basic pattern, New Look 6436, and I love the pockets! The top is McCall's 7603 and while this is not my first attempt at it, but it is the first version I've loved. It just took some time to get the fit right, because it runs large and I don't like the pleat in the back, so I'll now eliminate that altogether in the future. Now that I have it how I want it, I can see a few more versions! Both these fabrics are from Hobby Lobby's Spring Fashion fabric line. 

 New Look 6436 and McCall's 7603 by Nikki of www.pincutsewstudio.com

Lastly, I made a couple pair of rayon shorts using Kwik Sew 4181, which is really an activewear pattern. The shorts are super cute and comfy, but they're a bit too short for me to be comfortable wearing out. But the pattern is great and I'll definitely give it another try and lengthen it! For now, these shorts were awesome for the two days we spent outside building a chicken run for the ladies (by ladies, I mean hens. It occurs to me you wouldn't know that if you don't follow me on Instagram). This pair is a rayon denim from Joann (such dreamy fabric!) and the pair I didn't get a photo of is out of a textured black rayon also from Joann. 

 Shorts from Kiwik Sew 4181 by Nikki of www.pincutsewstudio.com

Whew! I feel accomplished! Please don't start thinking I have this kind of output from the sewing room every month! We finished our homeschool year in April, so that probably explains my productivity in May, ha! Come September, I'll probably have one or two things to share if I'm lucky ;) 

One last thing, I remembered, we did make these cute unicorn headbands in May! Find our easy tutorial here. 

Cheers and happy sewing!! 

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How to read a sewing pattern part 2: Making sense of sizing

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. 

If you haven't read part 1 of this series, be sure to go back and start there!

Just this morning on one of the large sewing Facebook groups I'm a part of, a newer seamstress was venting about her lack of success with using patterns lately because of the ill fit. She just couldn't seem to make sense of the sizing! 

 How to read a sewing pattern by www.pincutsewstudio.com

While we may be quick to blame the pattern industry, the fault really lies partly with the ready-to-wear fashion industry and what we call "vanity sizing". In this article for Time, Eliana Dockterman puts it simply: "As Americans have grown physically larger, brands have shifted their metrics to make shoppers feel skinnier—so much so that a women’s size 12 in 1958 is now a size 6." (That article is truly fascinating if you get a chance to read it!) Here is another great read about this issue as it pertains to sewing.

 Vanity Sizing. Source: https://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMy00OGNmYjhjZWM4MjU1NWQ1/

While sizing labels on clothing at the store have gotten gradually smaller over the course of several decades, the sizing on sewing patterns have stayed relatively the same and this is why the first thing I tell people when helping them sew with a pattern for the first time is not to read too much into the number of the size they are on the chart! We ladies can be quite sensitive about this, no? 

So, let's go back to that handy size chart on the back of the pattern envelope. Once again I'm using my kids shorts pattern for reference. This being a kids pattern with an elastic waistband, we won't have a hard time fitting. For this pattern, making it with six different girls, I simply used their waist and hip measurements. If these measurements put them in two different sizes, I always go with the larger one. Kids are obviously less curvy than adults, so the size chart on children's pattern tend to be pretty reliable. I had one student who had to take in the side seams because her shorts were too big, but this was no problem. If they'd been too small, that would have been much harder! 

Pro Tip: It's easier to take in than to take out! So if you have to choose, going up a size makes more sense than going down a size. Even on complicated patterns, I've been able to add darts, gathers, larger seams or other creative solutions to solve too-big issues. Too-small issues, on the other hand, have fewer options for fixing. 

 How to read a sewing pattern: sizing, by www.pincutsewstudio.com

Now, here's where things get really interesting. Like the new seamstress on the Facebook rant this morning, you may find that that handy sizing chart isn't always super accurate. What if it told you to make a size 14 and it turned out absolutely huge?? This is where the "finished measurements" come in. On my shorts pattern here, you can see that they've included this information in a separate box on the pattern envelope. This must be a new feature they're adding, because this is the first time I've noticed it and what a grand addition it is! This chart will tell you how big around your finished pair of shorts will be! Grab a measuring tape and wrap it around your model, it's that simple. 

 How to read a sewing pattern by pincutsewstudio.com

For patterns that do not include this on the outside, however, you can find these finished measurements on the pattern pieces themselves. Let's take one of my own recently sewn pattern as an example. On the front piece, you will always be able to find a large circle with a plus sign in it. This is your bust point and this is where you'll find that list of finished measurements. So my full bust measurement is 35" and for a woven fabric (non-stretchy, remember?), I want to have about 2" of ease (breathing room). You can see on my pattern piece, I'm going to make a size 10. 

 How to read sewing patterns by pincutsewstudio.com

These finished measurements can also be found at the waist line and at the hip line, always on the "front" pieces. These make it very easy to grade between sizes. So if I were making a dress and my bust point says to make a 10, but I need a 12 in the hips, I simply grade up in the hips. Below is a dress pattern where I have used this method in the past and you can see what I mean by grading. You can see where I was cutting a small through the top and swerved over to a medium by the time I got to the hip point (see those finished garment measurements I was talking about at the hip point?) 

 how to read sewing patterns by pincutsewstudio.com

This may all seem complicated, but I promise it is not! In fact, it's the beautiful part of being able to sew your own clothing! How many of you have fitting issues that make it hard to shop for yourself? Are you tall and can't find dresses that are long enough on you? Are you pear shaped and can't find tops and dresses that don't gape in the upper body while fitting your lower half? Are you fuller in the belly and wish you could find shapes to flatter you? Are you short waisted like me and find that all your tops bunch up in the lower back? Are you long and lean like my daughter? When we sew for Natalie, we cut a girls size 10, but use the length of the size 16! She's 13, for reference. Here is a cute denim jumper she recently made herself: 

 Burda 9356 Sewing pattern

What I'm trying to say is that once you start sewing for yourself and figure out your size and fit adjustments, you will have reason to celebrate because you can make clothes to fit your own unique body and learn to flatter your figure! And, I might add, you'll become a more savvy shopper because you'll know what good fit looks like. You may even find yourself noticing other peoples' fit problems and wanting to tell them there's a better way ;) 

Be sure and come back for Part 3 of the series, when we'll open up that pattern and decipher all those diagrams and terms on the instruction sheets! And if you missed part 1, you can find that right here

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Kids Can Sew Shorts! Tips for sewing clothing with kids

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.

The weather is warming up and we've been making shorts! My afternoon sewing class on Mondays has been itching to make clothes, I could tell. This can be hard in a group setting, but pajama shorts were something I knew we could manage and I'm so glad we did! 

 Tips for teaching kids to sew clothes

Natalie made up a pair just for fun using Simplicity 8401 and it's such a simple pattern, I knew it would be perfect for my students. Plus, it includes a matching doll shorts pattern! 

This pattern takes just one yard of fabric and has only two pattern pieces! I've made pajama shorts with sewing classes before and we used a Jalie pattern that was much more complicated (although very nice). This Simplicity pattern was easy to fit and easy to adjust by taking in the side seams if they were too large. 

Here are a couple things I've learned when sewing clothing with kids: 

1. Size up. I either take measurements beforehand or ask their moms to send me the needed measurements so I'm prepared with the right sizes. It's easier to make smaller than to make bigger, so if someone is in between sizes, I go up!

2. Explain pattern sizing to them. Make sure they know that pattern sizes are different than ready-to-wear sizes. If you have a child who may be sensitive about the number of the size she is sewing, do what you can to make sure she knows that the number doesn't mean much. This can be hard, I know. To avoid the issue altogether, I've sometimes traced patterns and put only their names on them and NOT the size that I traced. Everyone gets their own pattern and no one has to dwell on what size it is. Instill in them that the beauty of sewing is that we can make things to fit our own unique bodies! My 13-year-old, who has a hard time finding dresses off the rack to fit her long and lean frame, sews a size 10 in patterns, but with a size 16 for length! 

 Natalie made her Easter Dress this year! We used New Look pattern #D0917

Natalie made her Easter Dress this year! We used New Look pattern #D0917

3. Give them one step at a time. Sewing garments can seem very abstract to someone not used to it. When sewing with one of my own kids one on one, we do read the instructions and I help them understand step by step, but in a group setting I offer one step to the class at a time and we do our best to stay together. It seems like ages 12 and up are better able to understand pattern instructions than younger ones, in my experience. 

4. Let them choose fun fabrics. I try to provide everything we need for my classes, including fabric, but sometimes I do let them know they are welcome to bring their own if they want, and tell them exactly what to look for and where to find it. Who doesn't love going to pick out their own fabrics?? For those who don't, though, I keep a stocked stash of fun and trendy fabrics. For this shorts project, I added a few trims to my stash too. Although I already have a nice stash of laces, I was low on pom-pom fringe and I knew that's the one they would all likely want (I was right!)

5. Explain useful terms as you go. For example, when cutting, show them the arrow that goes with the grain line and with the selvedge, and why you want the stretch to go across your body, not up and down. Don't bog them down, but help them learn terms that will be useful for next projects, like hemming, edge stitching, basting, casing, seam allowance. That kind of thing. Help them learn the lingo and they'll better be able to attempt using patterns on their own! 

 Sewing clothes with kids

I'm already brain storming more clothing projects because these girls really loved making something they could wear and most said this was their favorite project so far. Layla thinks circle skirts would be fun! I own the books #ootd and Girl's Guide to DIY Fashion and they both have some promising choices. I'll let you know what come up with! 

Cheers and Happy Sewing :)

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Recent (and a few not-as-recent) makes

I have some recently sewn things to share with you! I have quite the queue of sewing projects all the time. Some are for my local classes and many are things my family asks me to make for them (costume time is coming!!!), but I always try to fit selfish sewing projects in between the selfless ones. 

First up, a month or so ago, I made a lightweight cardigan out of a pretty rayon jersey. I do like this pattern and may use it again, but it doesn't beat out my favorite, which I'll get to later. I like the peplum on the back and it's nice to have several cardigans like this on hand as Summer turns to Fall (my first Fall in three years! So excited!!)

 McCall's 6996

McCall's 6996

Next up, I made a dress recently from a 90's pattern I bought at a thrift store. The pattern cover was not cute. But it had a great detail in the back and I knew if I used a flowy fabric and made the skirt less full, it could be great.  Here's the pattern:

Sim6392a.jpg

And here's my dress: 

 Vintage Simplicity 6392

Vintage Simplicity 6392

I didn't get a good photo of the back, sorry. But it's pretty, I love the cut out! And I didn't make the skirt quite as full as the pattern, I just cut the width of my rayon, placing the stripes vertically, then pleated it to fit the bodice. I also elasticized the waistline seam allowance. Someday in the future, I may shorten it, but for now, it's super comfy and I like it. 

Next, none of these pieces are things I've made super recently, but they tend to get a lot of rotation in my wardrobe and I've never shared any of them here, so I think it's time! 

DSC_0258.jpg

The cardigan is one of two Blackwood Cardigans I've made so far and I LOVE them. I have plans for a green one in a rib knit from Girl Charlee. I only buy Indy patterns if I feel like I'll get several makes out of them and this is definitely a favorite! 

The skirt is the Chi-Town skirt, another Indy pattern I've managed to get quite a bit of use out of! I think the denim is part of it's success, though, I happened to pick it up at my Hawaii Fabricmart and it's a good one. Wish I could get more! 

The tank was self-drafted from a ready-to-wear tank that shrunk to oblivion (eye roll). I like the print for Fall! 

As a side note, let's talk about shoes for a minute. I have a bit of scoliosis and discovered after buying my first pair of Chacos a couple years ago (I have some like these and some like these) that shoes make a HUGE difference in how my back and hips feel. I need firm soles, with good arch support. Chacos are my favorite and I plan to order a pair of Chaco boots pretty soon, since I have moved to a state where sandals are seasonal, haha. But I've been checking Savers for nice shoes that can get me into Fall. Good shoes are expensive and if you aren't sure they're going to work for your issues, it's hard to spend that kind of money to just try them out, ya know? Anyway, I found the Sperry Topsiders (similar pair here) in the photo above at my local Savers thrift store and they are GREAT! They were in super good condition, they're real leather, which means my feet neither sweat nor get cold in them and they have the proper arch support. 

If you are super picky about shoes or have back/foot issues, can you recommend some more brands I can try? I haven't needed winter shoes in three years, so help me find some stylish ones! 

 

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that while I'm not paid to recommend products to you, I am earn a small percentage for referring you to items I love when you purchase through these links, which helps keep this operation going.

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Two Ways to Finish Seams

While most of my sewing stuff is still in boxes while we wait for the remodel to be done, I did manage to make a dress yesterday and it felt soooooo good to sew something! It's like therapy, for real. 

 McCall's 2632

McCall's 2632

I used a very simple shift dress pattern that I knew the fit was perfect on (I had made a muslin of it in the past), McCall's 2632. It's out of print now, but here it is on Amazon. Here's the dress unbelted, but I like it a little better with a simple belt, as shown in the other photos. 

Unfortunately, I could not get my serger working! I'm hoping I just made a threading mistake and it didn't get banged up in the move, but I didn't want to spend too much time on it so I finished my inside seams the old-fashioned way. I thought I'd share with you how to do the same! 

If you are making clothing for yourself, or your kiddos, or your dolls and you don't want the seams to get tattered in the wash, here are two ways to finish them so they'll always look nice. 

First, a French Seam. Here's how to do it! 

1. Place your fabrics WRONG sides together and sew in a 1/4" seam. Trim this down to 1/8".

2. Press the tiny seam to one side. This will help you get a crisp edge when you then fold the piece RIGHT sides together, encasing the first raw edge inside. Sew in a 3/8" seam. 

Your seam will then look nice and pretty, with the raw edges tucked away, never to be seen again. This is how I finished my center back seam. 

 French Seam

French Seam

For my side seams, I needed them to be pressed open because of the way the sleeves needed to be hemmed. So I simply sewed my 5/8" seam, then turned the raw edge of each seam allowance under and sewed a tiny hem. So it looks like this: 

 Seam finishing

Seam finishing

You can see I didn't sew them down to the main fabric, I kept that out of the way as I turned the tiny hems under. A good press and it looks so neat on the inside! 

I had enough of this fabric to cut out a simple top too, so I'll be working on that next. And hopefully I'll get my serger working, but there's something satisfying about finishing the insides this way too! 

I know I'll get a lot of wear out of this dress. Today I found a belt of Natalie's lying around and put it on with it. 

Gracie wanted to be in all the photos, she's a camera hog. 

Cheers and Happy Sewing! 

 How to sew finished seams, two ways, without a serger

How to sew finished seams, two ways, without a serger

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Because loungewear should be pretty

I sewed a robe!! It's soooo pretty. I had a robe already. But it was a shade of gray that just looked terrible on me! So I had a pattern and ordered some knits from Girl Charlee just specifically to make a robe! 

I used McCall's 7516 and it went together pretty easily, The front and hood are one pattern piece, so the construction is different than anything I've made before, but worked great. 

I truly believe that women should feel pretty is everything we wear and that includes loungewear and p.j.'s! If you have to wear them, they might as well be cute. I have made some other loungewear patterns, but the one that I'm most happy to recommend is this chick boxer pattern by EvielaLuveDIY on Etsy.  I made three pair in one day and wear them all the time. Check out her shop because she has such beautiful patterns and kits! 

I've really been having to carve out time for personal sewing lately. I have several knits I'd like to sew up before we move in a couple months, but the to-do list is also starting to compound, so I'm trying to carve out and hour here and there to whip through some projects. It's a good thing I'm fast! 

 

 

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How to Sew a Scarf Shirt! A Video Tutorial

I'm so excited to have our next YouTube video tutorial up and running! Learn to make a cool shirt or cover-up out of a scarf. We plan to go to our thrift store for more scarves to play with because these are so fun and easy. 

 Video Tutorial

Video Tutorial

We hope you enjoy! We are having so much fun making these videos and I hope you'll subscribe to our channel and share with your sewing friends. If you make a scarf shirt, please show me, somehow! Maybe tag me on Instagram?? I'd love it :) 

Here's the tutorial! Enjoy

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Weekday Sewing & Why I Love Jalie Patterns!

I've been parenting solo for about three weeks and have about the same left to go. My mother-in-law visited us this past week, which was an awesome break up of the time Casey's gone. It was nice to have some adult company and we even took a break from school and homeschool co op while she was here, which was also nice. My sewing machine was happy to see me back yesterday, though! 

I was being a little short on patience with my kids and knew I was craving time alone in my own head and that it would help to put my ear buds in and sew and nicely ask them to not ask any questions of me unless someone was dying, for at least two hours. It worked, I felt a ton better after that and have this AWESOME shirt to show for it! 

 Jalie hooded tee

Jalie hooded tee

I had the girls snap some pics for me during Kelby's golf lesson today. Sorry to my winter friends who hate me for my palm trees. 

The pattern is the Jalie hooded tunics and tees. As usual with Jalie patterns, I absolutely love this and will get a ton of use out of it! I bought the pdf and taped. I don't mind the taping process, I think it's kinda fun. The fabric is an amazing French terry from Girl Charlee. After making a dress and a skirt from French Terry recently (which I just realized I haven't blogged about!), I had to get my hands on some more French terry and I really loved this print. It's actually darker gray than it looks in these photos, more on the charcoal side.

 Jalie hooded tee

Jalie hooded tee

 Jalie hooded tee

Jalie hooded tee

This is my second completed project that is on my  2017 Make Nine to-sew list! I do like having that list made, because when I'm looking at what to sew next, it's a good reminder that there are things I really need in my wardrobe and patterns I've been wanting to try. 

Let me just rave about Jalie's sizing real quick! You cannot beat the accuracy, my measurements fell right into one size AND it's the size that corresponds to my ready to wear size according to their chart! And this top fits me absolutely perfectly. ALSO, their pattern include the sizing for children up to adult, so I can use the same pattern to make my girls some tops without having to purchase another pattern in their size. Awesome. 

I have plans for another version of this, but long sleeved. Maybe out of this sweatshirt fleece? I also think the tunic length will be cool in colder climates after we move, with leggings!

Can't wait! Before I go, Layla snapped this photo of a cardinal at golf today! So pretty. 

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Archer Shirt and thoughts on Indie Patterns

I don't buy indie sewing patterns very often, not on principle, but mostly because I tend towards getting more for my money and the Big 4 pattern companies are so, so cheap. However, my wardrobe has become quite small, as I gravitate towards items that are lasting, timeless and that I will wear over and over. Something has shifted in my style and my closet and I have less these days, but wear what I have more often. And I love it ALL. I don't keep things I don't love (I let the kids cut them up, ha!) 

Anyway, I committed to the 2017 Make Nine challenge and purposefully chose nine indie patterns that are basics and hopefully that I can sew over and over again. I started with the Grainline Archer. Before I launch into my thoughts on the pattern (I had issues!), here is my end result, which I really do love. 

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I've had this great plaid fabric for over a year, knowing I wanted to make a long sleeved button down, but not really needing one here in Hawaii. Now that we're moving back to the mainland soon, I thought it was a perfect time to make it happen. I also love that I can use this here in place of a cardigan or sweater (because, you know humid states and their air conditioning). 

You can read my entire review of this on pattern review, but let me just tell you that I had some issues. First, the sizing chart is not accurate. My measurements fell right into the size 10, but I ended up taking a full inch out of the shoulders AND a full inch out of both side/sleeve seams! It was huge. Also, the instructions on this pattern are severely lacking. I had to look up the sewalong on the Grainline blog to figure out the placket application, only to find out it's the same application I've always used with other button down patterns, just horribly explained. The instructions have very few pictures and the wording is just confusing. I have made many button down shirts, but if I hadn't, or if I were a beginner, these instructions would have been seriously frustrating. I didn't even use the instructions after that, I just did it how I know to do it and it looks great. But somehow I doubt they got better. I'm not sure why no one is talking about these poorly written instructions. 

So, my question for you is: Do you think we give indie designers more of a pass because they have faces and are real people who might see what we have to say and be hurt? What are you thoughts on this? I feel bad even asking this and posting these semi-negative points, so I think I've answered my own question. 

That said, in the end, now that I have the fit right, I will make more.  I already have another one planned. But first, I have eight other patterns I'm committed to making this year! Here is my Make Nine list:

  1. The Kelly Anorak Jacket. Moving to Utah will mean I really need to beef up my outerwear collection and I really love this pattern! I intend to hunt for the perfect fabric soon. 
  2. Style Arc Rae Tunic. Looking at this again, I think it might get replaced. Haha. Not sure what I was thinking that day.
  3. Style Arc Josie Hoodie. I'm seeing this in a French Terry! 
  4. Wonder Unders. I need some good slips in my life and this pattern is versatile so I think I'll get a lot of mileage out of it. Looking for a good silk and a silk jersey for slips! 
  5. Archer Shirt. Check! 
  6. Morris Blazer
  7. Knotmaste yoga set. Love those pants! 
  8. Jalie Hooded Tunic. I've had great luck with Jalie Patterns. I'd do this in a French Terry.
  9. Sew Over It Heather Dress. This dress will fit my lifestyle nicely, I think. I enjoy her Youtube channel and I'm eager to try one of her patterns. 

You can find many, many other lists like this by searching the #2017MakeNine hashtag on Instagram! It's fun to take on a challenge like this. I don't usually plan my sewing, but now that sewing is also my business in many ways, I'm finding it's neccessary to schedule in my personal projects, which are really what I love sewing the most! 

Cheers and Happy Sewing! 

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A Christmas Day Dress for Me! Butterick 5706

For at least four years in a row, I have worn the same black lace top to Christmas service, so since I had the time this year, I decided to make myself a new dress! I pulled out a pretty black lace that my mom gave me and a pretty lining color that another friend gave me (thank you, Megan!) and got busy making Butterick 5706

 Butterick 5706

Butterick 5706

I spent extra time on the fit and I tried a hand picked zipper for the first time. I am the worst at zipper application! I do better with invisible zippers, but this dress had too much bulk for that and since there were stripes involved in the lace, I hand picked it and it turned out great. My best zipper ever! Here is a good tutorial for the hand picked zipper. 

 Butterick 5706

Butterick 5706

I think I achieved a nice fit and I felt great in at church on Christmas Day! I'm not sure how much I'll be able to wear it because things are so casual here, even at church, but I'm still glad I took the time to make something nice and it's good to have something sophisticated like this in my wardrobe. One of my Instagram friends suggested that this will work great in colder weather with tights and boots and a cardigan when we move from Hawaii, which happens to be in six months, when the Army life will be taking us to the Salt Lake City area! Any tips from Utah dwellers on the area? 

Do you find it worthwhile to take the time to sew nice things that you may not get a lot of chances to wear? 

Props to my photographer Layla and our furry assistant. 

Cheers and Happy Sewing :) 

 

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Hidden Gem, McCall's 7472

I know I'm not the only seamstress out there who feels like it's Christmas every time new patterns are released as the seasons change, right? I remember last year I hardly bought any from the Fall lines, just because I live in Hawaii and didn't see much that would work for my weather, but this year, I bought several when they went on sale! 

A hidden gem in the new McCall's line was 7472, which I would have just glanced right over and probably did several times, until I noticed view B! 

I got so excited about a short sleeved button down with raglan sleeves! I've seen a few around in ready to wear and have been hoping to find a pattern similar. Here is my first version:

I'm really liking this top a lot, I've already worn it a couple of times. It's fitted, but loose, if that's even possible, and the lightweight cotton voile makes it that much more dreamy in my tropical climate.

The only adjustment I made was to sew the side slits closed about another inch. Didn't want to show any stretch marks, I mean skin, ha! I think next time I'll take the sides in a little too and possibly shorten by one inch. But I'm gonna leave this one alone, it's just so cool! It's been hot and muggy here, can you tell by how often I'm mentioning the coolness of this shirt? 

Incidentally, I made this skirt too, it's a favorite, I've gotten lots of wear out of it. 

I've already planned another version of this pattern out of a dark gray rayon with yellow lace pockets! Can't wait. 

Cheers :)

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I entered the Pattern Review Sewing Bee!

Patternreview.com is having their own version of the Great British Sewing Bee again this year (if you haven't heard of the Great British Sewing Bee, run, don't walk, to YouTube and binge watch, you will love it!) I didn't enter last year because I didn't feel like I had time to participate, but this year when the first challenge (shorts or capris with a closure) was announced, I knew I could fit that in. It doesn't hurt that I can always use more shorts living here AND that I wanted the chance to perfect a shorts pattern. 

Here is what I entered into round one:

I used the Chi-Town Chinos pattern by Alina Design Co. I love supporting a fellow military spouse and that is made super easy when she produces such a stellar pattern! For reals, I love this pattern. 

I don't have a lot of fabric options at my local store here, but I went in hopeful that I'd find something. I didn't want to use denim for this pair, but I wasn't liking any of the cotton twill colors. I settled on this linen. In the store, I thought it was black. In the car, I decided it was more of a charcoal. Once I made the shorts, I realized it's brown. But when I went outside to photograph them, it looks almost purple/brown. Ha! It's magical. 

Alina's instructions for the zipper fly are on point! I found this vintage button in my big button bin and it's perfect. 

Pattern Review will announce who gets to move on to the next round on the 13th. Fingers crossed! But, even if I don't make it, I have a great pair of shorts! 

Cheers and happy sewing :)

Sewing Bee 2016 - Round 1
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McCall's 7441

Every now and then I break out of my style mold and try a new shape. This was one of those experiments and I'm not positive I love it. 

From the front I like it. I like the pockets and I used the best, softest, prettiest color of fabric. I wish the front were longer, but it'll do. 

It's the crazy drape I'm not sure I'm behind, though! 

In this photo it's fine. The problem is that the part the makes the drape actually forms a point. And the point isn't anchored to anything so when I stand up, or have been moving around a lot, I find myself reaching inside the back of the sweater and pulling that point back in where it belongs so it's not sticking out and looking weird, lol! 

See, I think in this next photo, it's starting to look more awkward:

The good news is, I think I can alter it to work. It's a very oddly shaped pattern piece, but that sorta makes it easy to fix this by simply making that point smaller. I'm gonna try it and see what happens. 

I was chatting with my friend the other day after salvaging a shirt I was making that old Nikki would have tossed rather than rip the collar out of to start over, and I realized how much living where fabric is not so accessible and not so cheap has really challenged me to make things work and alter them and take my time on them until I love them. 

Which brings me to something I AM loving! I had made a dress over a year ago, but I hadn't perfected my technique of using a top pattern and extending it into a dress. This resulted in a dress that wasn't very comfortable to sit down in, ha! But the fabric was so great, I loved it, and the fit was perfect on the top! So I kept it in my stash thinking I'd cut it up someday. I pulled it out and cut it into a top with a shirt tail hem (my favorite) and it's getting so much wear now, I just love it. 

Successful salvaging of projects gives me hope for the crazy-drape cardigan. Any suggestions would be quite helpful! 

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Weekend Sewing Report: Jalie Raglan Dress

I made a dress over the weekend and I am so excited about how it turned out! I bought these two fabrics, one a woven rayon and one a soft stretch knit at two different places, but when I realized they made such a great match, I wanted to find a dress pattern for wovens with raglan sleeves. Is that so much to ask?? Apparently so, because I could not find what I was looking for. 

It hit me that I had this amazing Jalie pattern (Jalie 3245) that I've made several times and love and I knew that I could hack it into the dress I was wanting. It turned out amazing! 

Because this pattern was made for knits and my fabric is woven, I made some adjustments when cutting to account for the lack of stretch and also to create more of a swing style. My method isn't super sophisticated, but it works. Basically, I pivot the pieces out from the fold so it gradually widens the dress all the way down. That's it. 

I wore this dress yesterday to church and to teach a sewing class and felt pretty darn fab all day! It's so comfortable and I'm very proud of how my neckline turned out, I think it looks pretty great if I may say so myself. This Jalie pattern is actually how I landed on my favorite method of applying knit neckbands a few years ago and it's the only method I ever use now. 

And these pockets! These are part of the pattern and I went ahead and cut them out, thinking I probably wouldn't use them. But I pinned them on and asked Natalie her opinion and we both decided they sort of make the dress! 

It's pretty unusual for me to make or wear anything with sleeves these days, but as we only have about nine months left in Hawaii, and chances are we'll move somewhere with some degree of weather variation next, I'm starting to think ahead to that just a little bit. Although, when I'm stuck in traffic or have to turn around and go home because I can't find a parking spot some place, I start thinking ahead more than just a little bit. Ha! 

The back fits nicely too. We tried to take outside pictures, but the wind (and my hair) was not cooperating. Casey is so patient to take photos for me. Last time I had my nine-year-old do it, the grass behind me was in perfect focus while I was a blur in every photo. 

Aw :) 

I have enough of this beautiful lace left to make some other small things or parts of things. I love the color and am glad I snatched it up even before I had plans for it! 

Cheers :) 

Nikki

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Weekend Sewing Report: McCall's 6954

I have a crazy busy week coming up. I was really stressing over it and asked Casey to talk me back from the ledge and he suggested some sewing time. Ha! He gets me. Gotta make time for personal sewing, it's like therapy. 

I won't beat around the bush. I made a dress and I love it! 

 McCall's 6954 by Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

McCall's 6954 by Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

If you're a quilter or are familiar at all with designer fabrics, or have shopped at JoAnn's at all, you may have noticed that this is a well known Denise Schmidt print. However, it's a rayon. I was at Hawaii Fabricmart and there miraculously appeared an entire wall of gorgeous rayons like this one! I swear it wasn't there before, there's no way I would have missed that for two years running. Anyway, I wasn't aware Denise Schmidt prints came in rayon, there was no info on the selvedge NOR on the end of the bolt. Which means it's quite possible this is a blatant knock-off of her work. Does anyone know if rayons were made in her prints? 

At any rate, I wanted to make a swingy summer dress and I had McCall's 6954 in my stash. I made the small and since there are four seams (front, back and sides), it was easy to adjust for more space in the bust. I have a history of making things too big, so I'm working on that and this size was perfect. 

It has so much movement to it, it's very comfortable and my husband really likes it! And, of course, it's looseness is a plus in my climate. It has been hot! 

These were taken outside my house. Don't hate me for my beautiful view. I promise it's leveraged by epic traffic! 

I plan to take this dress on my coming anniversary trip to the Big Island! I can't wait! 

Cheers :) 

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Weekend Sewing Report: Vogue 9109

I have made a top from this pattern and love it and wear it all the time. What I love most about it is the fit of the neckline and arms, so I knew I wanted to try to modify it into a dress someday. That day was yesterday! 

 Vogue 9109

Vogue 9109

I slashed and spread the pattern pieces at the waist in order to create more of a tent dress shape on the bottom and then added length. Thankfully this worked beautifully, because I don't often take the time for muslins, ha! 

 Vogue 9109

Vogue 9109

When I got to the hemming stage, I wanted to do something a little different and thought the slight high-lo would look cute. I feel like, with a semi-shapeless dress, making it too long just overwhelms me and looks frumpy. So I wanted it short enough not to do that, but also I wanted length enough in the back not to have to be sooo careful when I bend down. I think I covered my bases and it looks great! 

This is a keeper pattern for me, even though it's in several pieces now, haha. 

 Vogue 9109

Vogue 9109

I hope to finish a few more projects this week before my next round of sewing camps starts. Until then, Happy Independence Day, America! 

Cheers and Happy Sewing :)

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Pattern Shout-Out: Jalie Pull-On Pants & Shorts

I would say the true test for any sewing pattern is to see if 14 kids can successfully sew it. All 14 of my June sewing campers went home with pajama shorts that they sewed by themselves and they all fit!

 Sewing camp session 1: Jalie 3243

Sewing camp session 1: Jalie 3243

We used Jalie's Pull-on pants and shorts pattern. I measured each girl on day one of camp and then traced their correct size off of the pdf pattern I purchased. The size chart is so accurate, thankfully, as everyone's shorts fit perfectly! 

 Jalie 3243

Jalie 3243

 Jalie 3243

Jalie 3243

Love that glasses fabric Natalie used! This isn't a pajama pattern, actually, but it works great as one. The pockets are super cute. I'm going to make a pair for myself and then maybe pick up some linen this weekend and make some pants for myself too! I love the Jalie patterns come with all sizes, from kids to adults, it's awesome. 

Here are my week 2 campers! I got to be in the photo this time! 

 Sewing camp session 2: Jaile 3243

Sewing camp session 2: Jaile 3243

I highly recommend this pattern! If all these kids can make it, you can make it too. 

Cheers and happy sewing :)

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Weekend Sewing: Kwik Sew 4169

Even though I spent all week teaching kiddos to sew, somehow I still wanted to sew for fun on my "off time" (ha, off time, as if). My wardrobe is pretty pared down these days. I really only keep things I truly love and wear. Plus, style is pretty casual where I live. I noticed when getting ready for church last week that a few new dresses were needed, but I want dresses that are casual enough to work for the everyday.

Kwik Sew 4169 paired with a perfect-weight knit I got from Fabric.com recently resulted in my perfect dress! I love it! 

 Kwik Sew 4169

Kwik Sew 4169

When you sew for yourself, you can learn to fix all the little fitting quirks that irritate you about ready to wear. For example, I make a swayback adjustment on everything, a short waist adjustment on many things and often take front armhole darts too. I do these simple things so often that they don't even take me any extra time! I think this is one of the best fitting things I've ever made and it's so comfortable! 

 Kwik Sew 4169

Kwik Sew 4169

 Kwik Sew 4169

Kwik Sew 4169

Thanks to my 9 year old for taking my photos for me, she did a good job. 

I also worked on a chambray sleeveless button down shirt this week! I just need to buy buttons for it. It turned out great and I think it will be super versatile! 

But for now, we're on to the next sewing camp!! Can't wait!

Cheers and Happy Sewing! 

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