How to mark buttonholes (the easy way).

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How to mark and sew buttonholes the easy way with just pins! A sewing tutorial by Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

I am lazy when it comes to marking, ha! I mark almost everything with pins and not with actual marking tools. I mark all my darts with pins and I mark buttonholes with pins too and I get perfect results every time, so I thought I’d share my secrets.

How to mark buttonholes

First of all, let me just let you in on the magic of this amazingly useful sewing tool! I put this on my Christmas wish list several years ago and Casey got it for me. It’s seriously so handy. It’s a button hole gauge and with it, you can have perfectly spaced button holes every single time.

So to mark buttonholes, first I try on my garment and find where a button needs to be placed to land right in the fullest part of my bust. I put a pin there and that’s my starting point for all the rest of my buttons (yes, I ignore the pattern piece’s markings of where the button holes should be because it makes the most sense to have a button at that fullest point.) Then I use my gauge. I spread it out so that the button holes are between two and three inches apart and wherever they need to be so that the top button is about half an inch from top edge.

How to mark and sew button holes, the easy way.

I prefer pins with flat heads for all my sewing, but especially for this because I don’t have to remove my pin until my presser foot is down and ready to sew, whereas a round headed pin would get in the way. Basically, I place pins where my bar tacks will go. So I’ve placed my guide on my placket with each prong the correct distance from the edge for the bar tacks to be perfectly centered. You may choose to use a chalk runner and ruler to mark the center instead. I only mark the first bar tack, the other doesn’t matter because your machine will make the size buttonhole needed for the button you place in the buttonhole foot.

Every machine is different, so you’ll have to experiment, but here’s how it works on mine. I put my placket under the machine so that the top pin is centered in the buttonhole foot’s little windo I put my presser foot down and remove the pin. (Most button holes are sewn from bottom to top, so keep that in mind when positioning your fabric.

Sewing button holes || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

To make sure the button hole sews straight, I just make sure the side of my placket is straight along the side of the presser foot or aligned with a mark on the machine (washi tape is good for this if you need a clear line). Then, the machine does its magic!

Now, let me introduce you to another awesome and handy sewing tool, the button hole cutter. You’ll need a mallet also, but one punch in each button hole and you’re done! If you don’t have one of these yet, of course you can use small sharp scissors to cut your button holes open (I have these and love them). I also always use Fray Check on my button holes and buttons so I don’t have any issues with unruly threads later on.

Marking Buttons

Next, to mark my buttons, I don’t use my gauge, I use my new button holes instead. I line up my placket and place pins through my button holes into the next placket. Then I can just “unbutton” them from my button placket and sew my buttons on with my button foot and a zig zag stitch with the length set at zero and the width however far apart the holes are. Yay, no hand sewing!

How to mark buttons and button holes with pins only. || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio
How to sew buttons and buttonholes || Pin, Cut, Sew, Studio

There ya have it, how to mark and sew buttons and buttonholes with pins only and no marking tools! For years, I actually didn’t have a machine that made button holes, so I learned to do it manually on that machine, but when I started teaching sewing to kids, I bought Brother machines similar to these and this is what I still use just for button holes and buttons, it performs beautifully. I’ve since inherited a very nice Pfaff from my mom, but I still use the Brother for buttonholes because I already know how, haha! I should probably get the Pfaff manual out and I give a try, though.

I hope this was helpful! Cheers :)

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Drawstring Pouch Sewing Tutorial

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I have such a fun little tutorial for you today! My girls’ dance recital is coming up and Natalie and her friends like to give “cast gifts” to each other. We came up with the idea to make small drawstring pouches to hold their hair pins and other hair accessories. (If you have a dancer in the house, you know how important these things are and how hard they are to corral!)

We based our little pouches on one I made probably 15 years ago to hold my jewelry when I travel. That one has pockets for necklaces and things inside, but we don’t need pockets for this purpose.

If you’d like to come back to this idea later, I’d be happy for you to pin this next image on Pinterest! And don’t forget you can follow me over there too, I’m always pinning the best of the best sewing inspiration.

How to sew a drawstring pouch, by Nikki Schreiner of PIn, Cut, Sew Studio.

This is a very easy project! We made 11 total and it really didn’t take very long at all.

Supplies:

  • Two coordinating fabrics in at least 1/2 yard cuts OR two coordinating fat quarters. Fat quarters come precut 18”x18” and often come in a set like this super cute one. If you go with 1/2 yard cuts, you can cut three pouches per fabric. If you like the fabrics we used in the photos, we got most of them at Hobby Lobby (like the cute strawberries!)

  • Cording or grosgrain ribbon. I recommend grosgrain over other options of ribbon because it’s strong enough to hold up to lots of use. Here is the cording we used, it’s only $1.99 per spool at Hobby Lobby (although it’s on sale this week for .99!) and it’s the perfect size.

  • Fray Check.

That’s it! Let’s get started.

Instructions:

First things first, you’ll need to create a pattern. I taped two sheets of printer paper together and used a protractor to create a half circle pattern, 13” in diameter. Then, cut out your two circles (one for the outside, one for the inside) by folding your fabric and placing the straight edge of your pattern on the fold.

Drawstring Bag tutorial by Pin, Cut, Sew Studio.

Next, place your circles right sides together and sew around the edge with a 1/4” seam, leaving a couple inches open for turning.

Turn your circle right side out through your opening and press the edges, using a chopstick or turning tool to get the edge perfect by running it along the inside of the circle. Press the opening edges in as if they’d been sewn.

How to make a drawstring bag, a tutorial

Now you’re going to make three rows of top stitching around your circle. The first will be edge stitching, 1/8” from the edge, which will sew shut your opening. The second will be 1” inside from the edge. The third will be 1/2” away from the second, or 1 1/2” from the outer edge. Your casing for the cord is between this second and third line.

Pouch sewing tutorial

You’re done with the sewing part! To cut the holes for your cord or ribbon, find opposite sides of the circle by folding it in half and pressing a line. You’re going to use sharp small scissors to cut slits in the 1/2” casing. You’ll have four slits total, one on each side of your pressed line and on both sides of the circle. Use Fray check to keep those slits sturdy and let it dry for a couple minutes.

Drawstring pouch tutorial

Now for the cords. You’ll need to cut two pieces of cording or ribbon, each one 24” long. This is the trickiest part if you’ve never made this kind of bag where the drawstring pulls from both ends. To thread the first cord through, tie a knot in one end and put a safety pin through the knot. Begin by inserting the safety pin in one slit and thread it all the way around to the other slit on the same side as you started. Remove the safety pin, tie the ends in a knot and trim. For the second cord, do the same thing, but use the slits on the other side of the circle. This will be a little harder since your first cord is already in place and the bag is gathered up, but you can do it!

How to make a drawstring pouch, a sewing tutorial by Nikki at Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

When you’re done, open and close the bag using the strings a few times to even out the strings and that’s it! Natalie’s ballet recital has a Candyland theme, so we chose fabrics with treats on them, super fun. I was browsing Amazon though and I think Art Gallery’s Summer Side line of fabrics is so cute (especially the little sunnies, oh my gosh) and would make great little bags!

Drawstring bag sewing tutorial by Nikki at PIn, Cut, Sew Studio

Of course, you can use these little pouches for lots of things other than hair accessories. Use it for a first aid kit for your purse, maybe? Give them as gifts with little goodies inside? Or use it in your sewing room, so store little things like your Wonder Clips or your quilting safety pins.

What would you use yours for? I’d love to hear about it and if you make one, I’d love to see! Just tag me on Instagram :)

How to sew drawstring pouches, a sewing tutorial by Nikki at Pin, Cut, Sew Studio
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Why I started making a muslin every single time

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.

Before we start, if you don’t know what a “muslin” is in garment sewing, it’s basically a mock up of the pattern in an inexpensive fabric called muslin. I didn’t used to bother with muslins at all. When I got really into garment sewing about 10 years ago, I lived in a place where nice fabric was readily available to me at a good cost. That is no longer the case. The industry has changed quite a bit, I no longer live somewhere conveniently located to good fabric stores other than JoAnn (don’t get me started), and sewing definitely isn’t a cheap hobby these days!

Several months ago, I got really tired of making things that didn’t turn out and having to toss out my nice fabrics and decided to muslin my next project. I had such good results that I have made a muslin of every single garment since then and have only had one wadder due to poor fabric choice (rookie mistake.)

Whether you’re just starting out with garment sewing or are an old pro, I thought I’d give you some tips for making muslins here today.

How to make a muslin for sewing patterns

1.Your muslin doesn’t have to be muslin

You can of course buy muslin fabric by the yard or by the bolt for just this purpose, and if you’re the kind who really needs your practice clothes to be uniform in color, this may be the way to go. However, you can use anything to make a muslin. When your well-meaning neighbor gives you a box of ugly fabric, keep the biggest pieces to use as muslins rather than throwing them out. I’ve taken to buying sheets at the thrift store to use as muslins and it’s been working awesome for me! Be strategic, though. Sheets come in all kinds of fabrics these days. I use the microfiber kind to sub for my drapier fabrics, 100% cotton sheets to use as heavier fabrics and jersey sheets to mock up patterns for knits. Sheets at my thrift store are around $4 each and I can get three or more garments out of one.

2. Cut only the necessary pattern pieces for your muslin

You don’t need to construct the entire garment. You’re making a muslin to check and perfect the fit, so only cut the pieces you need to do so. Omit collars, facings, pockets, and often even sleeves or skirt portions of dresses. No need to insert the zipper either.

3. Use a basting stitch

Use a long stitch length and go ahead and sew your pieces together. I so still back stitch at the beginning and ends of seams so that when I try them on they don’t just come apart. Assume you’ll need to take some of those stitches out as you adjust. A basting stitch will make this much easier.

4. Nip and Tuck

Try on your muslin, pin up any openings or what have you, then see what adjustments needs made. You can get a lot of information about fit by pinching out excess or slicing open spots that pull. Is your top too small in the bust? Do you need a full bust adjustment? Do the edges not quite meet where the zipper will go? Try taking smaller side seams. I the back of the neckline gaping? Take some darts out of it. While I can’t go into a whole fitting series here, you’ll have no trouble finding tutorials for every issue only and below are some fitting books that could be very helpful for you.

5. Transfer your changes

Many people prefer to trace their pattern pieces and make their changes there, but I usually just make my changes on my pattern pieces with good ol’ scotch tape. If you changes were extensive, you may need to cut a new muslin of one or several pieces. I promise it’s worth it! When I posted a wrap dress I made recently, I made the comment that the pattern would not have worked out if I hadn’t taken the time to make a muslin. The front would have gaped wide open and I would have been so sad if I’d had to throw that project away! You can see below how I taped up that front bodice pattern piece and added printer paper to heighten the neckline! I posted Natalie’s Easter dress here, where you can see the taped up pattern piece.

How to make a muslin

Proceed with confidence!

Now that you have your pattern perfected, you can cut into your nice fabric with confidence! Just make sure your print isn’t upside down. A muslin can’t help you there ;)

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