“Best Worn Barefoot” Smock Apron – The Tutorial

Two more weeks. The time in pregnancy when nothing fits anymore but there isn’t enough time left to make buying anything new worth it. Fortunately, there is at least one thing left that in the house that still fits me – my smock apron, and it’s a good thing too because this beach ball under my shirt is always getting spilled on.

I hesitate in calling this a “maternity apron,” because it is super cute outside of pregnancy too. Really, though,  it is at its “Best Worn Barefoot.”

It has pockets (of course!) to be filled with used tissues, hair clips, dried cereal pieces, and other artifacts of mothering.  I kept them simple on this one, but there are endless pocket possibilities to play with.

My favorite part of this apron is the ties.  Nice fat ones the same width as the bodice, and I was really excited when I figured out the technique used to attach them. (The tutorial has the details.)

Do you have apron envy now?  Good. Make one of your own!

Download the Tutorial
This apron is all square-cut pieces and straight lines, so there is no pattern to download. A rotary cutter and straight edge make cutting it out a breeze.

Sample Page - Download Below

“Best Worn Barefoot” Smock Apron Tutorial (14 pages – 40 MB)

- or -

“Best Worn Barefoot” Smock Apron Tutorial – low resolution (14 pages – 10 MB)
If you are having downloading and printing, the higher resolution file above, try this one instead.  The compressed pictures may be more difficult to see though.

As of now, I am giving away this tutorial for FREE. In return, would you do a few things for me?

  • Please let me know if you have any suggestions for this project or any others! My email is sewfearless [at] gmail [dot] com or @sewfearless on twitter.
  • Could you send me a picture of your finished project? I would love to see how yours turns out, and I may even post your pictures to my blog.
  • I am asking that this pattern not be used for commercial purposes (do not make items for sale). If you would like to ask me more about this, send me an email.

Materials & Sizing
This pattern is designed for a fabric that is at least 44 inches wide. A wider fabric will yield a fuller skirt which could be really cute. In order to maintain a good gathering ratio between the bodice and the skirt (between 1.5:1 and 2:1), I wouldn’t recommend using a width smaller than 44″ width for the skirt.  I used quilting cotton for this version, but you could also use old sheets, or a shirt-weight apparel fabric.

For 44″ wide fabric, you will need one yard for the skirt and straps,  another yard for the bodice, ties, and pockets, and, of course, thread to match. You will also need a couple of buttons (about 1/2″ in diameter) for attaching the back of  straps, or you can sew them down if you don’t want to fuss with buttons.

I am 5’10″ and am wearing size XL in ready-to-wear maternity clothes at this point of my pregnancy. If you are bigger chested, I would recommend widening the bodice.  If you are smaller, it should still fit but cover more in the back.


Have fun!


“A Soft Landing” Airplane Softie – The PATTERN

Well, here it is, folks! There long promised Airplane Softie Pattern! Just in time for “Celebrate the Boy” month, too. This project is a good one for overcoming your fears of curved seams and pins. I love sewing for children, because they don’t care about the little imperfections. They will love it and you will feel awesome for having made it! :)

Click to see more great Celebrate the Boy projects!

Do you have a little boy who is in need of some sewing attention? Bust out your pins and dive on in!

Materials Needed
This pattern is for quilting weight fabric, and the pieces required are quite small. Dig in your scrap bag to see what you can find.  If not, I give the measurements required for a new cut of fabric below.

For this project you will need:

  • An 11 inch cut quilting cotton (at least 42 inches wide). This will be the body of the airplane.
  • A 6 inch cut quilting cotton (at least 42 inches wide). This will be the wings and the wheels of the airplane.
  • A 6 1/2 inch cut of heavy weight interfacing (at least 22″ wide). I like Pellon’s CraftFuse.  It will help give the wings shape and strength.
  • Stuffing - I used stuffing for an old ripped pillow, or just grabbed the cheapest bag I could find at my fabric store.  It happened to be a 12 oz bag of Poly-Fill Polyester Fiberfill.
  • Thread - You can use matching or contrasting thread all-purpose sewing thread.
  • PINS – The more pins the merrier.  (See my ode to pins here.)
  • Hand Sewing Needle – We will use it for sewing on the wings and the wheels.  I know very little about hand sewing, and that doesn’t stop me. If you need more information, Miss Sews It All has started a series on hand sewing. Also, check out this video to learn “the ladder stitch” referred to in the directions.
  • Sewing Machine, and the usual sewing implements (scissors, needles, etc…)

Download the Pattern and Directions

sample page

You will need to download and print three PDF files.

  1. Airplane Softie Pattern – Page 1 (1 page – 2 MB) Be sure to select “no scaling” when printing this pages.
  2. Airplane Softie Pattern – Page 2 (1 page – 1 MB) Be sure to select “no scaling” when printing this pages.
  3. Airplane Softie Directions (14 pages – 39 MB))

As of now, I am giving away this pattern for FREE. In return, would you do a few things for me?

  • Please let me know if you have any suggestions for this project or any others! My email is sewfearless [at] gmail [dot] com or @sewfearless on twitter.
  • Could send me a picture of your finished project? I would love to see how yours turns out, and I may even post your pictures to my blog.
  • I am asking that this pattern not be used for commercial purposes (do not make items for sale). If you would like to ask me more about this, send me an email.

A Word about Wheels

My directions have you attaching the wheels with quadrupled up all-purpose sewing thread.  You could also a fatter embroidery thread if you have it available to you.  It could be really fun to attach them in a way that allows the wheels to turn – either by using snaps, or a button-hole/button combination. I made my airplanes for babies and decided to avoid detachable and small parts. Please use common sense when making toys for young children. :)

Good luck on your sewing adventure!

Needle Book with Scissor Shield – The Pattern!

I love these little 3 1/2″ Embroidery Scissors for hand sewing and detailed cutting.  They are lovely and make me feel sophisticated when using them, and they are darn right handy for quick snips and hand sewing projects.  The problem is I always seem to be misplacing the tiny thing, or little hands try to steal them away when I am not looking.  For a while, I tried to keep them on a ribbon around my neck when sewing, but I kept poking my belly with its sharp nose. As my belly grows, this is becoming more and more an issue.

So, I designed this Needle Book with Scissor Shield. It holds embroidery scissors and hand sewing needles – perfect for those “Take-It-Around-The-House” sort of projects.  I’ll tie it on a ribbon or slip it on a necklace, and I won’t lose track of my scissors and needles in my couch cushions (or in the grass this summer).

Do you or someone you know need one?
I’ve put together a pattern and tutorial for you.

(sample page)

You will need to download and print two PDF files.

  1. Needle Book with Scissor Shield – PATTERN (1 page – 1 MB)
    Be sure to select “no scaling” when printing this page.
  2. Needle Book with Scissor Shield – DIRECTIONS (6 pages – 18 MB))

As of now, I am giving away this pattern for FREE. In return, would you do a few things for me?

  • Please let me know if you have any suggestions for this project or any others! My email is sewfearless [at] gmail [dot] com or @sewfearless on twitter.
  • Could send me a picture of your finished project? I would love to see how yours turns out, and I may even post your pictures to my blog.
  • I am asking that this pattern not be used for commercial purposes (do not make items for sale). If you would like to ask me more about this please, send me an email. 
    Update! You may now make Needle Books for sale! 

Materials needed to make a Needle Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • scrap leather – The cover and pocket of this needle book are made out of scrap leather.  Leather stores sell bags of scrap leather inexpensively.  My sister bought me a bag for about $10 a couple of years ago when I wanted to make some baby shoes.  No leather store nearby? You can repurpose an old leather purse or wallet. Craft stores also carry small pieces of leather, but this would be the priciest source. The pieces don’t have to be very big. The finished needle book is 3″ x 4 1/4″.
  • felt – A single sheet of craft felt is enough for this project.
  • Heavy Duty Stabilizer – You only need two small scrap pieces about the size of an index card each.  I used Pellon Peltex 70.
  • Thread – Standard all-purpose thread will work for this project.
  • Size 16 sewing needles – This is a must when sewing leather on a sewing machine.
  • Thin Elastic - I used a piece of oval elastic, but  a hair rubber-band will work too. You only need a 3″ strip.
  • Scrap Ribbon – You only need 4″ of ribbon or twill tape.
  • 3/4″ Button
  • Hand Sewing Needle – You are going to have to sew that button on.
  • Embellishments – The most fun part of this project is decorating the front cover. Embroidery, buttons, applique, reverse applique.  The possibilities are endless. Have fun with it.  Make it your own.

 

 

  • Glue Stick and Binder Clips – Pinning leaves permanent holes in leather.  So instead of pins, we will use a glue stick and binder clips to hold everything in place while sewing.
  • (Optional) Teflon foot or Masking Tape – A teflon sewing foot is helpful when working with “sticky” materials like leather.  If you do not have a teflon sewing foot, you can apply masking tape to the bottom of a standard sewing foot to prevent sticking.

 

 

 

So, there it is, my first pattern in 2011.  Eleven more to go. :)

 

2011 and Project 12


(Click on the picture for more details on each project.)

Looking over my past year, I cannot believe how much I have grown as a sewist and all the credit goes towards my “Project 12″ goals.  You will never improve yourself if you never challenge yourself.  Success requires risk.  Not all of my projects have become regulars in my wardrobe, but they all taught me new sewing skills. They were worth the time and money spent on them.  I wish I could continue on with my monthly garment sewing goal but 2011 is not looking like a good year for that.  With drastic body measurement changes, it will not be a good time to be fussing with tailoring methods or for building a high quality wardrobe.

Instead, I would like to challenge myself to be more active in the design part of the creative process.  I’ve always been a “follow a sewing pattern” kind of gal and learned a lot from using the work of others, but I think the time has come for me to learn to make patterns of my own. My “Project 12″ Goal for 2011 will to be post one sewing pattern or tutorial every month.  I’ll start with smaller crafting projects and I hope that by the end of the year I will be able to share some garments patterns with you.

As much as I hate to do this, I do need to leave an out for myself. It is likely that I will have to skip a month around the birth of my fourth child.  But who knows? Maybe I will have an amazing nesting urge that I can direct towards making an extra pattern or two to cover my postpartum recovery time.

What about you?  Do you have any goals you would like to accomplish in 2011?

Project 12 – December: Jalie 2804 Maternity Top

Talk about going out with a bang!  I couldn’t be happier with the way my final “Project 12″ project turned out.

After scoping out various maternity patterns, I hit upon Jalie 2804.  It isn’t a maternity pattern, but there is a link to Assorted Notions’ maternity version on the product page.

If found it difficult to splurge that much on a pattern (I’m used to $1 – $4 a pattern), but here were my thoughts.

  • This is a great classic pattern with a lot of options – long, 3/4 length, short, and sleeveless, two lower bodice styles. It even includes a built-in “modesty panel” option!
  • It includes 27 sizes, from 2-year-old girl to large woman.  The pattern itself is printed on a heavy-weight paper and will not shred to pieces with lots of use. I can copy off different sizes and options as needed.
  • It can be converted to maternity, or even a nursing top.
  • Jalie patterns have consistently gotten rave reviews from those who use them. (Thanks for the recommendation Quixotic Pixels!)

After rationalizing the heck out of it, I purchased it through Pattern Review and I had it in my possession within less than a week of placing my order.

Pattern Modifications
I have never used a Jalie pattern before, but based on my current bust measurements I am a size “X”. To leave room for growth in this pregnancy, I bumped that up to size Y.

Once I traced off the correct size on tissue paper, I modified the pattern as follows.

  • I added 1 inch to bottom hem all around.  I have a long-ish torso and carry very low.  At 25 weeks, I’m already struggling to keep my shirts covering my belly.
  • I did the same “full tummy modification” to the lower bodice pieces that Assorted Notions did. I swung out the side 1.5 inches (adding about 3″ in width to the bottom hem). To do this, slash the pattern parallel to the fold line. Pivot out at the seam line until the correct width is added at the hem. Pivoting at the seam line preserves the original seam length and allows it to still attach easily to the upper bodice.

The original pattern is the yellow tissue and the green is the adjustments.


  • After adding to the side seams, I brought down the center front hem 1 1/2″ (plus another 1″ in overall length).  I wish I knew of a more precise way of redrawing the bottom hem curve. I just eye-balled it and it seemed to work out.

  • I also swung out the bottom hem of the back just a half an inch (for a total of 1 inch).  This is not a maternity adjustment, it is a Child Bearing Hips adjustment. :) (Original pattern in light green, adjustments in dark)

I was pretty thrilled with the length of the sleeves and was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to lengthen them at all. Go, Jalie!

Assembly
I found a Cotton-Spandex Jersey blend at Joann’s.  I was happy to move away from the rayon-spandex of my last two projects, plus the print was so fun! I realized as I was cutting it out that this was the first of my 12 projects that wasn’t a solid. The recommended 2 yards was just enough fabric even with my adjustments. I cut the modesty panel out of scrap rayon-spandex.

Be sure to test your stitch settings on scrap fabric before you begin. I tried out Jalie’s recommendations for sewing stretch fabrics without a serger, and I wasn’t terribly happy with the result.  What worked for me was sewing the seams with a stretch stitch and overlocking the edges that were supposed to be zig-zagged with my serger.

My first attempt to attach the neckband was a real failure. The recommendation to stretch the neckband along the neck wasn’t very clear. I stretched it along the entirety of the neck and it left the chest puffy. I had to spend 45 minutes carefully pulling out the stretch stitches.  Not fun. It worked much better to attach the neckband without stretching along the front (straight) edges and stretching to fit along only the back neckline.  I’m glad I took the time to redo this.

Nit-Picky-ness
I found the upper bodice to be every so slightly baggy compared to the rest of the shirt. I could have gotten away with a size “X” chest. The size “Y” sleeves were a good fit and I am definitely not size “X” in my hips, in pregnancy or not.

If (When?) I make another of these tops, I think I will leave off the not-gathered under-layer of the lower bodice. I don’t think it is necessary for the construction, at least not for a maternity shirt. The bottom hem would probably lay smoother without it.

Exciting Things About This Project:

  • Converting a shirt to maternity! I can’t believe it actually worked!
  • Feeling like I’ve really hit my stride with working with knits.  I really love using my glue-stick method for hemming knits.
  • Using a print!
  • Trying out a Jalie pattern. I’m now a convert.  I would love to try more.
  • Successful completion of my 2010 New Years Resolution!