Why are some indie patterns graded so “jumpy”?

Have you ever used a pattern that “jumps up and down” in the grading between sizes?  Recently I was trying a pattern that had grades jumping between 1/4″, then 1/8″, then 3/8″:


Since I come from an industrial background where this would never happen, it  makes me wonder not only why this is, but how did it happen? Grading is a simple matter of sliding the master pattern up-and-over by a consistent measurement “rule”, so why are there inconsistencies?  After all, garment industry patterns have consistent grading, Big Four paper patterns have consistent grading…..the grade may be smaller within the smaller section of sizes, and larger within the larger sizes, but never jumping up and down. Why does this happen so often in indie pdf patterns? I have a theory…..

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Pattern Review: M4M “Isla”

If I had a dollar for every time over the past 4 years that I’ve been asked to copy the dress from this ultra-popular Pinterest photo….well let’s just say I’d be financially comfortable:


From barn weddings to beach weddings…..this has been the “It” dress for years. Trouble is, I don’t copy other designer’s work…I advise customers to  purchase the original “Chloe” dress from Tea Princess.

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Pattern Dieting? How to make good decisions

Previously I blogged about fabric dieting….the logical next step is pattern dieting, right? I need another pattern like a whole in the head….UNLESS it is truly unique AND something I will absolutely use in the very near future.

But there’s no need for me to write about this, because the lovely Tibeca Yao  of the blog “Sewing by Ti” already read my mind.  So grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and  go here for a logical analysis that will help you stay on track: 5 Steps to Deciding to Buy a Pattern. Print it out and tape to your sewing machine if that helps. We all need a bit of budgeting support at times, and differentiating your “wants” versus your “needs” is the first step.  Thanks Ti!




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Quicker Fix for Coachellas

It’s snowing (a LOT) here in Massachusetts but in warmer areas people are anticipating spring, which means sewing shorts, yay!  Last summer I posted about how to correct the “crotch bunching” in the adorable Coachella shorts, by extending the crotch curves and trueing the inseams. Here is a simplified method (although if you are really interested in all of the analytics, they’re in the original post).

This isn’t technically perfect by any means (“real” grading uses grade-points and grading measurement scales), but it’s quick and easy, and results in better-fitting shorts. I’m going to show the least amount of pattern possible, under Fair Use Doctrine (the laws that make product review possible)….all you need is pattern page #3 . Here we go:

Cut out the front and back crotch shapes, glue them to printer paper. Gather a French curve, straight-edge, and pencil…also 3 colored pencils or highlighters:


Looking at the pattern, you can probably see the three areas of inconsistent proportions...as the sizes increase:

  1. The crotch curve gets more shallow, so that will get corrected with a French curve.
  2. The rise lengths get shorter, so the lengths will be increased for the larger sizes.
  3. The  inseam angle gets more acute, so that will get trued with a French curve.

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“Sewing in-between Sewing”

Sewing in-between Sewing” is a term I picked up yesterday on Instagram from a post by the lovely Alicia, an Australian designer who has a sewing story all her own.  She creates and sells unique children’s-wear to raise funds for cancer research…you can follow her on IG @a_tropical_daze. She has already reached 75% of her $10,000 goal, using up-cycled vintage materials that she sources from “opportunity shops” (we call them thrift shops in New England). Alicia is inspiring for so many reasons (I’ve posted before about how “Bohemian style” is out of my comfort zone!) but for me at this moment, it was her simple idea of “Sewing between Sewing”.

Schedule sewing projects is a huge struggle for me, so her post intrigued me. It showed a sneak-peek photo of the project she was working on, explaining “Needed a quick break from sewing orders to sew something a little bit amazing!


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Updated Free Headband Pattern


Who needs a little scrap-buster? Need to make a quick Valentine’s day gift?  I’ve updated the multi-size tie-bow headband pattern from this post.  The cutting lines are now in colors (but still can be printed in B/W), and the sizing is slightly adjusted to make the smaller sizes easier to tie.

Here is the updated file2107 Blog Headband Pattern

(right click to open in new window, then file or print by clicking this tab in the upper right corner:

print download

Instructions are the same as before so I’ll re-post them here…photos show the original B/W pattern.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Spread the love..share this super simple pattern with your sewing buddies! And if you don’t have time to sew, watch for a headband giveaway coming up on my Instagram.

How to Make the Bunny Headband

  1. Start out by measuring the head circumference:


….and then choose size from this chart, OR just go by age:HeadbandMeasureChartPic

2. Print out the pattern:


3. Cut out the pattern size you want (sorry there is no “layers” function as I don’t have Illustrator…..when I start digitizing larger patterns I’ll have to get it though….).  There are just two pattern pieces: the tie ends (2 parts to tape together at the star) and the back which covers the elastic:


4. Cut out your fabric:

  • 1 Back Elastic Cover
  • 4 Ties (can be 2  each of 2 different fabrics, or all 4 of one fabric):


Headbands are a great scrap-buster: when I looked at this particular scrap I realized the print would work better with the headband placed along the crosswise grain.   Technically it’s better to use the straight-grain which is stronger and has less stretch, however since this is not a garment (requiring correct drape and flow), I decided it was okay to turn the pattern pieces 90-degrees:


I used a coordinating print for the underside. It’s important to use the same grain for both the outer-fabric and under-fabric:


(It’s much easier and faster to cut straight lines using a rotary-cutter alongside a ruler!)

You should have:

  • 1 piece Back Elastic Cover
  • 2 mirrored Outer-fabric Ties
  • 2 mirrored Inside-fabric Ties


5. Sew the tie ends: Pin the ties together, right side of outer fabric touching right side of inside fabric:


Stitch along the edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance (.6 cm), leaving the non-rounded end un-stitched:


Trim the seam allowance  at the ends:


Turn the ties inside out: using a chopstick makes this easier:


Press ties:


(Optional) edge-stitch:


6. Back elastic cover: Fold the back elastic cover in half lengthwise, right sides of fabric together, and pin along the raw edge:


Stitch along the long edge, with 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving the short ends un-stitched:


Turn inside out (easiest to do with a safety-pin):

IMG_9499  IMG_9500

IMG_9501 IMG_9502



7. Add back elastic. Measure elastic piece (here’s the chart again):


Cut elastic and pin a safety-pin onto one end of your elastic:

IMG_9504  IMG_9505

Starting with the safety-pin, pull the elastic through the fabric tube; when the end of the elastic matches up with the end of the fabric tube, stop pulling and stitch the tube end to secure the elastic:


Continue pulling the elastic through to the other side of the tube:


Remove the safety-pin and stitch the second tube end to secure the elastic:


Stretch to adjust gathers:


8. Put it all together!  Place elasticized tube in the center of one non-curved  tie end:


Fold the fabric tie around the elasticized tube:


Stitch across the end, securing the elasticized tube into the tie end:


Pull apart, flip inside out, and your raw edge is hidden!

IMG_9514  IMG_9515

(Optional) you can bar-tack the pleat closed…if you are selling headbands this is when/where you can stitch in your labels:


Repeat for other side:

IMG_9518  IMG_9519

And voila!


9. Time to tie your bow! This is the hardest part for me to explain so if anybody has a better way please let me know….it’s also difficult to do with one hand while the other has the camera….

The upper tie  dives under the lower tie and upwards:


…and then folds down:


The lower tie  folds backwards:


The the upper tie  comes down over the flipped lower tie:


..and gets tucked under and through:


Pull the tie ends and secure your bow!


Here are some cuties I made to send to my daughter in design school….all made of scraps from pajama bottoms I’ve sewn for her:


Here are some itty-bitties….see why I wanted appropriate elastic widths?


Please have fun with this pattern but do not copy or sell the file…of course you are welcome  to sell headbands sewn using this pattern (please give credit to 7PineDesign, thanks!)

Pinterest link:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/23855073006376038/

..BowHeadbandPattern copy




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Fabric Fasting? A Fabric Diet maybe?

Every year around income-tax season, I start to panic: this is when I have to face reality and see exactly how much money I spent on fabric (and patterns, and trims) during the previous year.  I’m blessed to have a brilliant husband who does all of the pre-accountant paperwork for our income taxes (which includes the income from my little Etsy shop), however there’s a downside: he sees each penny I spend. Ouch.

Every evening before April 15th that my sweetie spends “working on our taxes” makes me cringe a bit.  I know rationally that I would feel better if I spent less on materials….you know the poster that says “Nothing tastes as good as being slim feels”?   Well I need one that says “No fabric purchase brings as much pleasure as staying on budget feels”.

The trouble is, I don’t have a fabric budget.   I’ve moved into a phase of life where I sort of know what I’m comfortable spending…the key words here being “sort of”.  Like treating yourself with a fancy coffee, or getting take-out pizza as a relief from a week of cooking, it’s so easy to say “It’s just a couple of yards, not a big deal”.


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Pattern Review: Baby Bonnets

NOTICE: update 1/27/2017: a reader alerted me to the fact that the Purl Bee bonnet pattern discussed below has a notification on the pattern: “This pattern and project are for home use only, not for resale”. I completely missed that when making the bonnet and when reviewing the pattern. In retrospect, I’m glad that I made changes to it, so that I’m not using the original, and therefore CAN use it for resale.

  • Extended the brim
  • Revised sequence of stitching
  • Decreased lining pattern pieces for smoother fit

Additionally, another reader advised me that there is no legal standing for a pattern designer/seller to request that products sewn using purchased patterns not be sold. I’ve done some research and can find no definitive answer on this one.

January 18, 2017

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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