The 6 Best Vest Patterns to Sew for Fall

I acquired a piece of plaid wool flannel from my thrift store last weekend and got a bee in my bonnet to make a jacket sort of like this one. Let me tell ya, I had a really hard time finding a pattern! I did find a few for men, one Simplicity and one McCall’s, but none for women.

I decided a pattern mash-up was in order. I found plenty of great vest patterns, so I would need to choose which pieces I’d add to one of them to get the look I wanted. I definitely wanted a hood and pockets and I wanted it lined, so I found a pattern that had those elements, to which I could easily add sleeves. I’ll reveal which pattern I purchased later, but I also want to share with you the six fabulous vest patterns I now want to sew up, thanks to my frantic searching for the perfect jacket pattern!

PIn Me!

I’ve found my six favorite Fall vest sewing patterns and put them in one handy place! come see the six vests you should sew for Fall and get fabric suggestions to go with them! || PIn Cut Sew Studio #fallsewing #vestpatterns #outerwear #diyfashion

This post contains 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.

  1. First up, from our trusty Big 4 company, McCall’s 7695

Someone on Instagram who was watching my pattern hunt on stories, alerted me to McCall’s 7695. Ultimately I didn’t go with this one because it didn’t fit my vision for this particular project, but I promptly put in on my list for the next McCall’s sale. I’m seeing similar jackets on boutique sites (like here) also, which helps me see the many ways I could style a vest like this.

But, if sewing outerwear isn’t your thing, you can try this one:

2. Second, Burda Style Puffy Vest Pattern

I just found out today my city is expecting epic snowfall this year (facepalm), and I have frozen my way through my two winters in Utah (Hawaii living really killed my cold tolerance, ha!) I think adding a couple of warm layers might be the ticket and help me stay warm. I’ve never owned a puffy vest, but this might be the year I finally make one! This pattern seems to be basic enough and would do the trick.

Though, if I were going to buy a puffy vest instead, I'd go with this pink one (the yellow is a close second!)

3. Next up, the Envigado Vest by Itch to Stitch

I love this vest and see similar ones styled up in all kinds of ways all over the Internet. I didn’t pick this pattern for this project because I wasn’t sure how I’d figure out the sizing if I’m planning to line my jacket with a thicker fabric. I think is a great utility vest pattern, though and I’m excited to track down some twill and make one up. I have a great Fall flannel I could line the hood with, too.


Here is a similar vest for purchase (I love the burgundy color too!)

4. Burda Style Waistcoat

This pattern is so cute! I almost ditched my whole plan and made this instead, but I think it will be more useful in a solid color. I can see it being a good addition to my wardrobe in a neutral, but probably not in the pink and red plaid I’m using for this project. The peplum and the side buttons are my favorites details.

5. The runner up, Waffle Patterns Hooded Vest

I almost went with this pattern, I truly love it. But using an Indie pattern company for the first time, knowing you’re going to make alterations is always risky and in the end, again, I wasn’t sure of the sizing with the thicker lining I was wanting to use. This pattern is fabulous, though, especially because you can purchase a sleeve add-on to make it into a jacket instead of a vest, which is pretty convenient.

Since we’re vest shopping (ha!) I really like this Carhartt vest in light blue. I don’t know if it fits my life. Maybe if I still had chickens, I wouldn’t feel like a poser wearing Carhartt, hahaha! Is this something I could wear in my city-girl life??

6. The winner: Women’s Hero Vest by make it perfect

I went with this pattern for my jacket! The pattern calls for sherpa lining, so I know it will work with the sweatshirt fleece lining I’m planning to use. The hood is also lined, which I wanted. It has pockets, I like the style and it should be easy to add sleeves. I already cut out my pieces with my sleeve alteration, so I’ll keep you posted on my finished product later. Fingers crossed it works out how I want it!

Hero Vest pattern by make it perfect. Come see why I chose this pattern among 5 others, plus fabric links for sewing Fall vests! || Pin Cut Sew Studio #sewing #fallsewing #vestpattern

Fabric Suggestions:

Like it said, I got my wool flannel at the thrift store, but I didn’t mention that I also found my lining there. I always shop the entire linens section for fabric options! I found a sweatshirt fleece blanket of great quality that I cut up to line my jacket with.

Finding the proper fabrics for projects like outerwear can be confusing, I know. Hobby Lobby’s Fall fashion line has some seriously amazing choices for these styles of vests right now! Yesterday I spotted several sherpa options, including a sherpa-lined buffalo plaid. They also have some great quilted fabrics, including a dusty pink one I think I might use for McCall’s 7695. When I first saw these fabrics arriving at my Hobby Lobby, I had no idea what to do with them, but this vest saga has given me plenty of ideas!

And of course there are also plenty of great options on Amazon!

I’m excited to sew up some outerwear this Fall and Winter! I’ve been pinning all my favorite ideas here, and I’d love for you to follow along and point me in the direction of any other great outerwear ideas you come across! Tips for how to keep my feet warm this winter are also welcome ;)

Cheers!

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Bleach Dyed Denim Costa Tote

Does anyone else have to curb your enthusiasm for tote bag sewing? I love me a good tote bag pattern, but a gal can only use some many bags, right? I keep just a couple of favorite bags around, but when the free Costa Tote pattern showed up in my email from Helen’s Closet, I knew I had to make one soon.

I loved the cool denims that were used for the samples on the pattern, but I was having a hard time finding some and I wasn’t willing to spend much money to buy fancy denim. And that’s what spawned my recent bleach dying denim adventures! Kinda cool how projects roll into each other and new ideas are hatched when seeking creative sewing solutions.

I put two of those denim pieces to use to make a Costa Tote and I think I’m in love.

Costa Tote bag pattern from bleach dyed denim. || Pin Cut Sew Studio

This post contains 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 know this bag is pretty simple, but there are elements that make it just perfect. I absolutely love the deep pockets on both sides and the slanted shape of the pocket top adds interest. It’s also reversible, so those pockets can be inside if you want.

Costa Tote Bag pattern with bleach dyed denim. || PIn Cut Sew Studio

I really like the deeper hems at the top and on the pocket piece, I think the top stitching there looks really nice. You can see that I used straps purchased by the yard from Hobby Lobby for this version. I also shortened the top by 2”, just due to personal preference. This was easy to do, since sewing the top seam is the final step, so you can try it on for size before deciding to shorten it or now.

One more thing to note, it’s a big bag, so it takes more fabric than you might imagine. Keep that in mind when shopping around!

All in all, this bag is PERFECTION. Grab the pattern from Helen’s closet and go make yourself one! I’ve taken it to the pool and the library more than once already and I can definitely see it going on trips with me in the future, plus being put to use for my homeschool co op, where I’ll be teaching drama and creative writing this year. I also think I’ll sew a few for Christmas gifts, I know the ladies in my family would love these. If I were going to purchase some denim to make another, it would definitely be this one!

Do you have a favorite bag pattern? Please share!

I tie-dyed denim with bleach and used it to make a Costa Tote bag! Come see the details :) || Pin Cut Sew Studio
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Before you throw that sewing project in the trash ...

Every now and then, despite my careful muslin making, I sew a project that just flops. Either the fit is all wrong, it’s just the wrong shape on me, or the fabric was the wrong choice for the pattern.

Recently I made a dress that I came really close to throwing in the trash.

This post may 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 came so close to throwing this dress in the trash before I ever finished it! Come read how I salvaged it and what I learned. || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

I’m always excited when Jalie releases new patterns and I bought the Michele Tank and Dress pattern almost right away and made a muslin of the bodice only. I knew this look wouldn’t be flattering on me without some shaping, so I took my time adding a full bust adjustment and even French darts in the front and back bodice.

Once I had it right, I cut out the dress from a rayon fabric I had. I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the lining, though! So I went to the thrift store and found a white rayon skirt full enough to do the job.

I got the dress sewn and it just looked awful on me. I’m short waisted and broad through the ribcage, so this floaty, almost babydoll design did not flatter, despite all my fitting work (though that bodice fit darn perfect, haha). I decided to try adding elastic to the inside waist seam allowance, but you know how braided elastic can stretch out when you try zig zagging it on … womp, womp.

I was bummed, but instead of tossing in the trash like I wanted to, I put it in my fabric drawer thinking I could salvage the skirt portion to sew something else in the future.

Fast forward a couple months and I dug the dress out of my drawer and on a whim, tried it on. You guys, it was sooo NOT as bad as I had thought! LOL! If the waistband could be more fitted, I’d totally wear this dress and the perfectly fitted bodice wouldn’t have to go to waste! I recently learned a new technique for attaching elastic to the seam allowance in a way that will hold it’s form, so I unpicked the zig zag, shortened the elastic by a few inches and resewed it using my serger.

Jalie Michele tanks and dress pattern. || PIn, Cut, Sew Studio

Perfect.

I hemmed the dress and wore it the next day. I learned a few things from this experience:

  1. First, never toss a project when you’re mad at it! Put away and come back to it later. Even if it’s still awful, you can use that fabric for something else!

  2. Don’t trust your initial feelings! In my defeat, I remembered that dress looking horrible, but when I tried it on again, it was not bad at all. Sometimes putting things aside and looking at them with new eyes can make a huge difference.

  3. I only just learned the elastic technique I needed to make this work. This goes to show once again, no matter how long you’ve been sewing, there are always new things to learn.

  4. Trust your gut with patterns. Just because it looks cute on everyone else doesn’t mean it will work for you (I’m lookin’ at you, Ogden Cami). I know what works on me and what doesn’t and I should have sought out a similar pattern with the right lines and the shaping I needed. In the end I made this one work, but that’s definitely not always the case!

I’m glad I didn’t toss this project in the heat of the moment and I hope I can remember these things when I feel like a project is a total failure in the future!

Side note: I’ve only just begun wearing bike shorts under my summer dresses. I know many people have done this their entire lives, but I am new to the bandwagon and I am loving it. I feel less fearful of every slight breeze, ha! They also just stay put under dresses better. I had one pair already, but needed another, so I ordered these and like them, so I thought I’d recommend them to you all and save you the trouble of wading through all the reviews!




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Dancewear Patterns: They DO Exist!

This post may 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, at no additional cost to you. For more info, see my disclosure policy.

It’s no secret around here that I’ve accomplished a huge goal recently of learning to sew activewear, and more specifically dancewear! Both my tween/teen daughters are ballerinas and let me tell you, dance leotards are not cheap! They tend to run at least $60 per leotard and they each need two or three at a time, since they both dance four days a week. To have their black leotards in pretty designs is preferred, of course, but the price goes up with every cute detail, it seems!

The dancewear patterns may seem hard to find at first, but there are more out there than you might think! So I’m here to complie a list today of dancewear patterns. If you’re still new at sewing, don’t let this intimidate you like I did for so many years! You can sew activewear with the most basic sewing equipment, you don’t even need a serger and it’s a great way to build skills. So if you have a dancer in your life, no matter how long you’ve been sewing, this post is for you!

You can sew dancewear! Click over to see my big roundup of sewing patterns for leotards, skirts, leggings and even Irish dancing and character skirts. || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

Before we start, know that this list is of in-print patterns only. Though I’m sure there’re tons of out-of-print dancewear patterns, both our selection of sewing notions and our access to professional techniques for unique genres of sewing has come a long way in the last decade, so I can’t vouch for those oldest patterns as far as the techniques and finishes they may recommend. So, without further ado,

The Big List of Dancewear Sewing Patterns.

Jalie.

This will be no surprise to you at all. Jalie runs the market and you will learn so much using one of their patterns. If you do not have a serger, that’s ok, the instructions include techniques without a serger. Visit their website to see all the dance patterns they have available. I choose the PDF format because I find assembling the pages much easier than tracing the lines! The leotard I most recently made for Natalie is the Jade pattern. I’ve also made the dance skirts more times than I can count! Jalie also includes boys and mens patterns in their dancewear offerings and they are actually the only company I found that does so.

Sewing dancewear. I made my daughter leggings with Simpicity 8424 and a skirt with Jalie’s ballet skirts pattern. I even altered a basic leotard to add lace and interesting straps! Visit my big list of dance sewing patterns. || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

Big 4 Pattern Companies.

Yep, the Big 4 (McCall’s, Simplicity, Butterick and Vogue, plus their other brands) does have a decent selection of dancewear patterns. I have made every single piece of Simplicity 8424 and love the sizing on it because dancers tend to be tiny sometimes. The extra small is perfect for my girls. Other Big 4 dancewear patterns include:

Simplicity 1444. This one pretty much has it all! Would be a good place to start your collection.

Burda 9629. This pattern has everything you’ll need for your littlest dancers.

Simplicity 8561. My girls are allowed to wear active leggings to jazz and modern and we like this pattern for those.

Kwik Sew 3661. I think this neckline is so pretty and the skirt too. Great basic pattern! Kwik Sew can be pricey, but they go on sale occasionally online and at JoAnn.

Indie & Misc.

If you have girls in need of character skirts, here is a pattern for those. Once you know how, you’ll regret never trying them before, they’re pretty simple!

Mountain Ash Designs. This company is new to me, but they appear to have a well-established line of dancewear patterns!

Atira’s Fashions has patterns for various ethnic dance, including belly dancing. If you have a character dancer, you may want to check them out.

Guna Rince makes sewing patterns for Irish Dance.

My Childhood Treasures has a nice selection of dance patterns from younger girls up through the ages.

That’s all I can find, folks! I’m sure that’s not all, though. If you know of others, will you let us all know in the comments? Now that I have the dancewear sewing bug, I’m on the lookout for more unique designs. My girls may end up with more than they really need this year, ha!

Cheers :)










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One Pattern, Two Hacks: Butterick 6686

This post may 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, at no additional cost to you. For more info, see my disclosure policy.

Every now and then a pattern comes along that fits perfectly and can be remade in a myriad of ways! Butterick 6686 has been one of those for me. It’s one of the new Butterick patterns and the thing that appealed to me most about it was the sleeves. No set in sleeves meant I likely wouldn’t have to do a full bust adjustment (party!) and I like how these sleeves give freedom of movement. That said, I did make some significant changes, but first let me show you my two makes!

Pattern hacking with Butterick 6686. Click over to see how I made two very different tops out of two very different fabrics, with one simple pattern. || PIn, Cut, Sew Studio

The first version I made was out of cotton gingham from Hobby Lobby. I got it when they were clearancing out the Spring fashion line, so it was very inexpensive and a great quality. I did make a muslin like always and I’m glad I did because I ended up getting rid of all the gathers in the back. Here’s a line drawing for reference.

LIne drawing of Butterick 6686. Come see how I hacked this basic pattern into two very different tops! || Pin, Cut Sew Studio

Every time there are gathers or pleats in the back of a top or dress, it tends to look very odd on me, especially from the side. I prefer things to skim my back and because I have a swayback, I almost always alter patterns in the back. However, the width at the hemline was perfect, so I didn’t want to alter that at all. I grabbed my tape and got to work taping pleats into my pattern piece. Here’s how it looked when I was done.

Pattern alterations for swayback. Butterick 6686

Additionally, I altered the armhole to not come out as far. It’s hard to explain, but I didn’t like how far down the bottom of the sleeve was and how it came out in a hook shape. I eliminated that and marked where I would stop sewing in order to hem my sleeve. You can see that dot in the photo above.

ALSO, I don’t care for collars that are one piece, I prefer the collar and stand to be separate. So I used the collar and stand pieces of my trusty button down shirt pattern and it just happened to fit this pattern perfectly. These changes may sound time consuming, but they really weren’t and the end result was so worth it. I think if I hadn’t bothered with a muslin and alterations and just plowed ahead with my nice fabric, it would have ended up in the trash. It’s always worth taking my time!

Butterick 6686 by Nikki at Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

For my second version, I had a really pretty, buttery soft rayon I’d gotten on my trip to Colorado. I didn’t have much of it, though, so I needed a pattern that doesn’t use much fabric. Because it doesn’t have sleeves to cut out and because I took out the gathers, this pattern is perfect for just a yard and a quarter of fabric. This time I did something a little different. Rather than the collar, I made a bias binding for the neckline and left the tie ends long. I love how it drapes open at the neckline!

Butterick 6686. Click over to see how I hacked one basic pattern into two very different shirts for summer! || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

This pattern is perfect for hacking. Do you have a go-to pattern that you can hack into other things? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Black Rayon Linen Jacket: New Look 6351

This post may 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.


We’re currently on vacation in Colorado, seeing family since my husband recently returned from deployment. We’ve spent some time in Denver with my family and seeing friends (we both grew up here, met and married here) and today we’re heading down to Pueblo where his family lives. Every day has been so full, but in a good way!

So I’m just popping in to share a jacket with you that I made a few months ago, actually, but that’s gotten more wear than possibly anything else in this season’s handmade wardrobe.

This is the final piece made from my black rayon linen score, following the joggers and the dress.

New Look 6351 out of rayon linen || PIn, Cut, Sew

The pattern is New Look 6351 and I absolutely love the easy shape of it. I have said before, I was wanting to have a few jackets to wear instead of wearing mostly cardigans and this has proven a good strategy. It’s gotten a ton of wear, casual and dressy. It adds class to nicer outfits, where a cardigan just wouldn’t do the same.

I only made a couple changes. I did make a muslin, even though it’s just a jacket and decided to take some vertical wedges out of the back pattern piece from the hem to the middle back so that the bottom of the back fits closer to my body. This was the perfect decision, the back fit is my favorite! I also chose not to interface the collar piece because I wanted a more loose look than a crisp one.

Black linen jacket: New Look 6351 || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

There are some great rayon linen fabrics on Amazon if you’re considering trying this kind of fabric! Like this one, this one and this one ( my favorite!) I think I’ve proven how versatile it is and if I had to choose a favorite fabric, rayon linen might be my choice, especially for summer!

In other news, I finally began a new Instagram account just for sewing! I will get around to changing the links here in the sidebar, etc … in the next week, but for now, please follow me @PinCutSew. You can also just click on the linked photo below. Cheers!

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Brushed Poly Dress: McCall's 7812

This post may 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.

Last Summer I made a dress out of a brushed poly fabric I got at Hobby Lobby. I’m usually somewhat anti polyester, but the print was so beautiful and the fabric SO soft, I gave it a try. That dress is one of my most-worn pieces of the last year! There’s something about brushed poly. It travels great because it doesn’t wrinkle, it holds its shape with wear, the print doesn’t fade even after many, many washes.

So when I visited Denver and went to Colorado fabrics, I chose another brushed poly fabric with McCall’s 7812 in mind. I love how it turned out.

Knit dress, McCall’s 7812

The only changes I made were to shorten the sleeves and to make my own ties out of my fabric, rather than use ribbon. It’s a very easy pattern and perfect for this brushed poly knit fabric.

I rounded up some great brushed poly prints for you, including the cactus print I almost bought instead (it was hard to choose! Here are a several I think are great:

We’ll see how much I like to wear it when it’s super hot outside. The first dress I made with this kind of fabric is very loose, so I stay cool in it, but the jury’s still out on a closer fitting poly dress. I’ll keep you posted.

double brushed poly dress, McCall’s 7812

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White Linen Jacket: New Look 6481

This post may 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 so excited to share this project with you! It’s already gotten quite a lot of wear since I made it, which was what I was hoping for.

I was wanting to wear less cardigans and more tailored jackets. But the casual kind, I guess. I didn’t want anything big or bulky, just lightweight jackets to wear in place of cardigans, for a more put-together look, especially over dresses.

This white linen jacket really fits the bill perfectly!

White linen jacket, New Look Pattern 6481

(Read about that wrap dress here).

Surprisingly, this beautiful white linen came from Target in the form of a clearance tablecloth! I passed by it on an endcap of miscellaneous clearance items with a price tag of $17. It felt really soft and sure enough, the tag said 100% linen. And it was big, about 3 yards long, plus super wide. I didn’t buy it right away, but couldn’t stop thinking about making a linen jacket, so I went back that night and snagged it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get nice linen yardage like that for such a good price.

I got to work looking at patterns and landed on New Look 6481.

New Look 6481

I love New Look Patterns because they’re sort of always on sale. Their regular price is very inexpensive compared to the other main brands, and then Hobby Lobby has them 40% off of that. So when I have a vision and want a pattern right away without having to wait for a sale, I check New Look first.

This jacket has been a great addition to my wardrobe! I was so thrilled to have it, that I made a similar jacket in black (different patter, though), but I don’t have photos of that one yet, so you’ll have to stay tuned!

For now, enjoy this pic of my pretty pup :)

White linen jacket, New Look pattern 6481

So in the spirit of making clothes out of tablecloths, I thought I’d see what else I could find! Of course there are white linen ones all over the place, but how cute would a jacket be in this striped cotton linen blend?? There’s so much yardage too, there’s plenty of fabric for two projects, making the price a steal.

OH MY GOSH, this pineapple tablecloth is fabulous. As anything, really. Tablecloth, jacket, beach cover up, bag. I might have just put this in my cart, ha! Maybe I should stop browsing.

Have you ever sewn a garment from a fabric found in an unconventional way?

Cheers and Happy Sewing!

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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 

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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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A Little Llama Love

Oh my gosh, I was browsing the new Simplicity Fall line last night and just about died over this pattern. 

I mean, COME ON!! 

Llamas are everywhere right now and I am quite happy about the trend. They're just so darn silly looking. 

I had to make a curtain for my hallway closet because the door track broke. I went to Hobby Lobby and was soooo close to picking this duck cloth (I didn't, but just a little part of me wishes I had): 

Llama Drama

Llama Drama

How about the Lloyd and Lola quilt pattern by Elizabeth Hartman?? Unbelievably awesome. This would be so fun to make. 

Lloyd and Lola Quilt Pattern

Lloyd and Lola Quilt Pattern

For a simpler project though, how cute is this little llama key chain?? Free pattern and tutorial! 

Llama key chain tutorial on HobbyCraft

Llama key chain tutorial on HobbyCraft

Oh, and another mini quilt pattern. Hipster Llama. Amazing. 

Hipster Llama Pattern sold by Craftsy

Hipster Llama Pattern sold by Craftsy

Pattern by MaisieMooNZ on Etsy

Pattern by MaisieMooNZ on Etsy

Ok, I'll stop! But seriously, go make some llamas! They're such silly guys :D

Llama sewing pattern roundup on pincutsewstudio.com

Llama sewing pattern roundup on pincutsewstudio.com

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