The things we made in May

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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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