Pattern Review: Baby Bonnets

Quite by accident, I had the opportunity to compare 2 very similar baby bonnet patterns this week. I was sewing a romper order from this vintage pattern, and I thought I’d surprise the mama with a bonnet to match, but not exactly the pointy one in this vintage Butterick pattern:


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Sewing to Sell: Is it right for you?

Previously I’ve posted about saving money by sewing….but how about MAKING money by sewing?  Or at least covering the costs of a sewing hobby?  For decades I’ve made extra money by doing alterations, but during the past 3 years I’ve also sold my sewn  items online.

This month I’m celebrating 1,000 online sales through the Etsy website…mostly sewn items, with a few “supplies” and “vintage” thrown in.  Etsy is a fantastic venue for small home-based businesses to sell handcrafted products to a worldwide audience. The cost to set up a shop is tiny, and the exposure is huge. Have you ever wondered if selling your sewing projects online could be a good option for you?


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Painless Pajama Pants (“no fail” method)

PJ pants should be one of the easiest apparel items to sew:

  • few pattern pieces
  • loose easy fit
  • perfection not required as they not usually seen in public

Every winter season, I read online stories of confusion, seam-ripping, and utter frustration with sewing pjs.  This is often caused by pattern instructions that tell you to start by sewing the INSEAMS together, Front to Back, and it’s so easy to confuse the Inseams with the Rises…which can make you question which is the Front and the Back, the Inside and the Outside, and even the Waist from the Hem.

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Pantone and the UFOs*

Haha sounds like the name of a music group….

(*Un-Finished Objects: sewing projects set aside and hanging over your head whispering “Finish me!”)

The Pantone color-forecasting service Spring 2017 color chart has been out for a month, have you seen it?  I was too busy finishing Halloween costumes to even take a peek.  Truth is, as much as I’d love to “Think Spring!”,  I have customer orders due by Thanksgiving (next week?!) and then Christmas is another busy sewing season for online orders.


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Revised Pattern: VFT “Matilda”

Previously I blogged about Alpha-testing of sewing patterns, using the Violette Fields Threads “Matilda” pattern as an example.  I’m genuinely happy to  update that information today. Matilda  has been revised!  The raglan armscye has been trued at the neckline (original pattern at left, revised at right):


…..and has been French-curved at the underarm (again, original on the left, revised on the right):


If you have already purchased this pattern you will receive an email with a link to down load the revision. The revised pattern does not include size 12 months, presumably because a new pattern is being released today with infant sizes.

This is a very cute and versatile design.  I still suggest adjusting the width of fabric in the skirt, but I can now confidently recommend this pattern.


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Sewing Halloween Costumes

Tis the season! Costume season, that is. In the fabric stores, the waiting line at the cutting-table is backed up with moms and their kids, planning Halloween costumes. I love this….there are many great reasons to sew (rather than purchase) a costume. How else are you going to get “one-of-a-kind” like this lil’ winged dragon? (from a dozen years ago….my “baby” is 20 now!):


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Dyeing Fabric and Trims: some tips

Do you ever color-dye your sewing materials?  It’s quite helpful if you cannot find the exact shade that you want at retail, and especially useful if you need trims to match your fabric. But I never see dye products marketed for this purpose….maybe I’m the only person who does this?

“Rit” brand home dye products have been around for a long time….I’ve come across vintage magazine ads from the ’30’s and 40’s at the flea market.  The promotional theme was generally about updating worn apparel, which is a valid  reflection of the times (the Depression and wars):


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Sewing with Whites

Do you like sewing solid white garments? Many people tell me they don’t like to sew with white fabric, usually for one of two reasons:

  1. It’s boring (“How can I walk past all of the gorgeous prints and lovely plaids and brilliant colors that are out there in fabric-land?”)
  2. It’s scary (“Every speck of dirt will show!”)

The boring part I can’t help you with, except to say that someday you may want to make a crisp classic white shirt, or a family-heirloom baptism gown, and suddenly white won’t seem so blah. The scary part?  “White clothes get dirty  faster”.  Logically, white fabric doesn’t get any more dirty than any other fabric, it’s just that stains show. But white clothes can be scrubbed and bleached much more easily than colors .

I used to have “fear of sewing with whites” too, but if you take a peek at my Etsy shop you’ll see I’ve overcome that. Probably half of my sewing is with white fabrics. Here is the secret to sewing with white: it’s all about the prep work.  Once everything is set up correctly, the stitching is a breeze (far easier than sewing black thread on black fabric, now that is an eye-strain!). It’s kind of like cooking stir-fry: most of the effort is in the prep-work.


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Respect the Grainline

Paying close attention to the grain of fabric is something I was taught to do at a young age. When fabric-shopping, my mom would unwrap a large swath of goods and see how the material would hang, on straight-grain and on bias, and maybe scrunch it up to see the effect of it when gathered.   She showed me warp versus weft yarns, the difference between one-way and two-way prints (and border prints), and explained that you could choose to cut velvet with the nap going down for a frosted effect, or the nap going up for the deepest, richest color….but if you cut the front going “up” and back going “down” it would be a disaster.  At home she used the dining room table  to carefully place pattern pieces in the most efficient layout, evaluating the “with nap” and “without nap” guides in the instructions, and measuring the pattern grainline guides to the selvedge of the fabric, making sure every piece was parallel to the grain.

She also taught me that you don’t need to be a “slave” to the pattern instructions: deliberately changing the grain can be used to great effect. My mom loved to play with stripes:


However, just as in the fine arts or cooking, you must understand the rules in order to break them: she didn’t place ANY pattern pieces willy-nilly.  Every step was thoughtful and deliberate.

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Mini Review: “Sew By Pattern Pieces” #15000 Leggings

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday I blogged about a free kids’ knit shorts pattern that is cut on-the-fold (mirrored front/back) with instructions on how to correct the drafting.

Today in a Facebook group there was a discussion about favorite well-drafted patterns, and blogger Tibeca Yao ( mentioned a designer I was unfamiliar with: Lauren Wernli for  Sew by Pattern Pieces.  Intrigued, I took a look at her shop, and  of all coincidences, she has a kids’ knit legging pdf pattern. Based on Ti’s endorsement, I bought it:


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