So you want to learn to sew – What you need to begin!

Learning a new craft, any craft doesn’t have to be expensive a lot of your supplies do not have to be brought until you have developed your skill and even then you may choose that you don’t need them. I have compiled a list on the basic supplies (and tips) you will need to begin.

Sewing machine. There’s no need to spend a lot on your first sewing machine. You can buy second hand (advisable to do so from a trusty seller or local enough to get it checked). If your able to borrow one to get started with even better but as occasionally you will choose to upgrade although you normally fall in love and repeatedly go back to your first machine.

Thread. You will need thread to match the fabric you buy, over time if you are keen you will acquire quite a stash of thread don’t be tempted when you first buy thread to buy the sewing sets for 99p they are a waste of money and will show you no mercy when using them on a sewing machine, spend that little extra and get some good quality thread.

Bobbins. I’m a fan of metal bobbins and have one for every color thread as the hassle of changing thread on a bobbin is too much for me there not expensive and you can pick up 20 on ebay for a few pound.

Fabric Scissors. These are my babies, I have such a great love for them that my children know they are out of bounds and cannot be touched, I spent a little extra on these as they need to be sharp and cut well without jaggering (is that even a word) the fabric. Don’t ever be tempted to use these on paper or anything other then fabric as they will go blunt, buy a separate pair for paper cutting etc.

Rotary Cutter & Cutting Mat. This is not a must but if you are doing smaller projects like quilt making or bags etc this will make cutting a lot easier.

Seam Ripper. This is a cheap but invaluable tool, everyone who sews makes mistakes and will spend the time unpicking threads, have a few in your box you will love then for there ease of use.

Pins. well they speak for themselves, they stop the slipping and help you keep everything in place whether you choose to love them or hate them you will need them.

Measuring Tape and Ruler. Measure twice cut once, live by that quote and it will make your journey a lot easier.

Tailors Chalk. Makes cutting for me alot easier, Its easy to use and rubs off when you don’t need it.

Sewing Needle. For anything that may need finishing by hand.

Spare Machine Needles. They break! You do not need to be mid-way through a project and your needle breaks without a spare….its not cool and may end in tears.

Fabric. The addiction, you will buy a lot eventually but before you spend every last penny in your purse at this moment let me tell you something….. STOP! WAIT! and PRACTICE!! When I started to sew I started on £1 per metre fabric and that was with sewing knowledge. I still get nervous when I cut into fabric that I have spent more on, I assume most people do. If you are not as lucky as me and don’t have Birmingham Markets on your door, then look for whats old and make it to something new. Take that old T-shirt and change it into a T-shirt for your child or take an old bed set you no longer use and make a dress. The internet is full of gems on using whats old and up-cycling it into something new, this way there’s no waste and your building confidence.

Now we have all those your ready to begin, but whatever you have decided to make, check there supply list. It may require extra things like interfacing or buttons.

If your stopping by and are an experienced sewer, have you any advice to offer to our newbies or tools you cannot live without? Leave a comment and share your knowledge.

Sewing a Girls Maxi Dress – Stitching the Dress

Now that we have completed the neckline we can add the sleeves, we need to line the sleeves up print to print and then starting from the middle of the sleeve attach it to the shoulder seam then work your way around until the sleeve is attached then take it to the sewing machine and sew the sleeve removing the pins as you go, repeat the same for the other sleeve.

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We now need to stitch the side seems now because im using a jersey knit fabric that only has a 1 way stretch that runs down the dress I will use a zigzag stitch the smallest one on my machine, this allows my fabric to stretch without breaking the stitches, Starting by folding the fabric and matching up the sides so that it looks like a dress begin to sew starting at the armhole, remember that you have a seam allowance and add this in this can be cut away once completed if your fitting is correct. Repeat this process for the other side.

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Now that you have sewn your seams you should have what looks like a dress the only thing left is to hem the arm holes and the bottom of the dress, fold your seam half an inch and then another half an inch, Iron this and pin it into place. Take it to your sewing machine and stitch near the hemmed edge all the way around until you have completed all the seams

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You should now have a completed dress, try it on your model if the fitting is well, cut away any excess fabric and you have completed your dress, I have included a picture of a dress I made earlier in maroon using the same process.

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If you try this dress, let me know how it turns out and share your results.

See you Soon,

Sew & See

Sewing a Girls Maxi Dress – Drafting to fabric & Cutting

Now that you have got your basic pattern we are now gonna turn that into a basic summer maxi dress.

What you will need

  • Fabric (I’m using a jersey knit as it flows nicely)
  • fabric scissors
  • tailors chalk
  • measuring tape
  • ruler

Now let’s get started. Firstly you want to get your fabric and fold it length ways once you have this then you need to fold it width ways to the desired width for the bottom of the dress. I used a width of 40 cm for my nearly 4-year-old which i already had from an off cut of a different project.

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Now that we have laid out our fabric we need to lay our back bodice piece onto the fabric along the fold line, this will give us a starting point for our dress.

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Using your tailors chalk draw around your bodice pattern, then get a ruler and draw a line from the corner of your pattern to the bottom corner of your dress, you should now see that you have a dress drawn out that we can cut it out along the lines.

NOTE: I prefer to do all this on a hard surface as it is a lot easier, but due to my office being moved to another room to make way for the baby boys room, I have to do it on the living room floor.

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Once you have cut your pattern out it should look like this.

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We need to adjust the neck depth on the front piece we do this by separating the 2 patterns and using our front bodice paper patter aligning it with the front dress piece and drawing out the neckline so that we can cut it out. (sorry i forgot to photograph this part.)

With the excess fabric that we removed from our cutting we will use for the sleeves and to finish the neck line. If however this fabric is not enough then use any remaining fabric you have. Take your fabric and check to see if you have enough remaining for the sleeves fold it if needed and lay your sleeve pattern on the fold, now draw around your pattern and cut it out the same way you did with your dress pattern.

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We now should have our dress patterns but we need to make the necklines, there are many methods of doing a neckline but for this one we will do the one I feel is suited best for this type of dress, we will do a post separately on the type of necklines and how to use them another day.

For this neckline using any excess fabric we have fold it and align the neck of the front bodice pattern on the fold, draw a line and cut the excess above this away.

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Now you have cut the top away we need to move the pattern piece so we can work with the fabric, using the measuring tape measure 1 inch down all the way around following the curve that is currently set, draw a line to create a curve and cut this out you should end up with a piece like this

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do the same for the back piece, we should now have 6 pieces to make the dress.

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Stay tuned where our next post will be to make the dress.

Sew & See

Getting Started – Pattern Drafting -Child’s Sleeves

So yesterday I showed you how to draft a pattern of a bodice using a current t-shirt that fits nicely, today I will show you how to draft a sleeve for that t-shirt. Now there are many ways to do this but this is my preferred method that has never failed me for what I need to sew it for and it does change depending on the garment I am making but I will come to that when I am making that garment for now this is how I do it.

Place your bodice pattern onto the end of a piece of paper, line up the shoulder stitch seam with the edge of paper it should look like this.

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Now that we have that lined up we need to draw along the edge of the pattern piece and add a little extra after the curve, this is your seam, it will help make sure you have a good fit and will also allow room for error, it can be trimmed away once your garment is complete.

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You can use your T Shirt to get the length of the sleeve and how wide you want it but i chose to go 3 inchs down using 1 inch for hemming purposes and 5 1/2 inches across remembering that this already has 1 inch seam allowance

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this is what your finished sleeve should look like, this can be cut out and added to the other patterns.

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We are now ready to test them for making a garment.

See you soon,

Sew & See

Getting Started – Pattern Drafting -Childs Bodice

With any of my sewing projects I always start off with a basic pattern, In this post I will show you how I draft a pattern for many of my projects

What you need

  • Some paper, I used regular A4 for this pattern but sometimes you may need a bigger piece of paper so you can use just about anything including freezer paper or newspaper.
  • A Pencil
  • A Ruler
  • A T-shirt, one that fits the child or person you intend to make a garment for.
  • Paper Scissors

Set your paper down on a good work surface and fold your t-shirt in half then place it onto the piece of paper matching the folded edge with the edge of paper. Draw around the shirt, moving the sleeves to the side and following the sleeve seam.

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Once you have drawn around the T-shirt you should have the general outline of a t-shirt pattern, we need to add seam allowance to this. We add seam allowance for stitching, without this the garment will be tight. For beginners purpose we are adding more allowance then needed but for all future posts I wont be adding as much.

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I used a ruler and added 1/2 inch seam to the top shoulder, 1/4 inch to the arm hole and 1 inch to the side seams, if you are comfortable with adding less than do so, I normally add 3/8-1/2 inch seam allowance all around.

Now cut this pattern out twice, you need one for the front too which we will alter slightly

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Now we have 2 pieces we need to make a lower neckline for the front bodice, we are keeping it basic so we need to make sure this will fit over little ones head, For my daughter I need 2 inches more so I measure from the current neckline down the centre 2 inches and create a curve to the arm hole

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Cut the Curve out and you will have your front and back bodice finished, this bodice is a great starting point for any project.

Leave a little love and feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

Sew & See