Taking the Leap: Understanding Sewing Patterns – Part 3, Sewing It Up

We’ve already deciphered the pattern envelope and prepared our pattern pieces.  Today, let’s finally get to the actual sewing part.

After all the drama of the first two parts of this series, this final installment is a bit anti-climatic, because we, umm… follow the directions. Not that “just follow the directions” is always easy for a beginner. So, I am here with some tips to guide you along the way.

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Taking the Leap: Understanding Sewing Patterns – Part 2, Cutting out the fabric pieces

Yesterday, I shared with you about the information on a pattern envelope. Today, let’s take a look inside.

Your first reaction when opening the envelope might be “OH MY GOODNESS! WHY ARE THERE SO MANY TISSUES!?!?! I thought you said this would be easy? There are so many. I don’t even know how to fold them up again to put them back in the envelope!”

No worries. Let’s not even look at the patten tissues yet. Let’s pull out the directions first.   [Read more...]

Taking the Leap: Understanding Sewing Patterns – Part 1, Reading A Pattern Envelope

As I mentioned before,  I am doing a pajama sew-along with some twitter sewing buddies. We all come from a variety of sewing experiences and hobbies (quilting, crafting, garment sewing), and we will be working through it slowly to help the newer seamstresses out. I know some of my readers are intimidated by this type of sewing pattern, so I’ll be taking pictures as I make mine and explain the details of how to use sewing patterns as I go along. I think you will be surprised by just how easy they come together. [Read more...]

Taking the Leap… into Handmade Piping

This is a continuation of a series called Taking the Leap”, which I started last year and then promptly forgot about. The goal of this series was to highlight questions on how to get started with various types sewing projects.  I am in no way an expert, but I will answer them to the best of my knowledge and try to point out the many, MANY resources available online for the beginning sewist. So, if you any intimidating sewing topics you want to explore, shoot me an email – sewfearless[at]gmail[dot]com – and I’ll dive in with you.

I’m slowly plugging along with the suitcase pattern. The first draft of the directions is laid out and I am working on digitizing the paper pattern. As I was going over the project photos, I decided the detail that really makes the suitcases is the handmade piping. So, I thought we could work through how to make and use piping you’ll be ready to tackle the suitcase pattern when it is finished.  [Read more...]

Taking the Leap… into Sewing Maternity Patterns

This is the first of a new feature to my site called “Taking the Leap” highlighting questions on how to get started with various sewing projects.  I am in no way an expert, but I will answer them to the best of my knowledge and try to point out the many, MANY resources available online for the beginning sewist. If you have ever thought “I wonder how you could sew…”, shoot me an email (jbonjour [at] gmail [dot] com) and I will try to post it up here for others to benefit from as well.

The inspiration for this post was actually a Facebook conversation sharing ideas for maternity sewing projects and bemoaning the lack of decent maternity patterns.  The content of this conversation needed to be preserved for later reference. So here it is – rearranged, edited, and with even more linky goodness.


not the baby currently in my womb


Maternity Sewing Patterns
I would like to point out among the “Sewing Patterns Easily Available to Me” (i.e. “What is Available at Joann’s,” or to be specific Simplicity and McCall’s/Butterick/Vogue) there are two (TWO!) maternity patterns (four,  if you count this scrub pattern that includes maternity pieces and this maternity apron). Butterick 4201 looks pretty blech to me and 5196 is OK.  Although, I think the front center seam could look pretty goofy.

Fortunately, Megan Neilson has some truely adorable maternity and nursing patterns available for instant download.  I hope to make her wrap top sometime in the next couple months and would love to have her nursing nightgown next spring. Her blog is also a great resource for figuring out your maternity wardrobe.  A search for “maternity diy” brings up some really great projects of hers and her “Maternity Wear Survival Guide” is an all around great resource.

Adjusting Skirts and Pants to Maternity
Most elastic waist skirts will work through all nine months and beyond.  The trick is to make sure you keep your belly covered with a generously long shirt or a belly band. (You can make a DIY belly band, too!)  I have friends who loved Old Navy’s Rollover Jersey skirts and SewMamaSew has a similar style Yoga Skirt Tutorial. This wrap skirt on Make Baby Stuff is intended for both maternity and regular wear.

Luvinthemommyhood has a fabulous Maternity Sewing Roundup, which is where I figured out how to convert my denim skirt.  It turns out that converting regular pants or skirts is really not that scary. Basically you remove the waist band (and possibly cut down the front even more) and add a tube of stretchy fabric.  This can be done to ready to wear clothing or to any sewing pattern. More details on how I made my skirt here.


This baby brought to you by Edy's Double Fudge Brownie


Adjusting Tops to Maternity
I haven’t done anything with this yet, but this is what I have gathered from my research so far. You can just adjust any regular pattern to be maternity by adding more width (and a bit of length) to just the front piece. Jan Andrea has some tips here. This method is well suited for a looser look, but I tend to like my clothes a bit more form-fitting. At least during pregnancy, I do.  Adding elastic thread shirring under the bust or along the side seams would give a snugger fit without skimping on the room to grow.  I would prefer to try the “slash and spread” method to prevent adding too much width to the bust. (Like I did to my custom Comfy Tee project. )

When picking a pattern, empire waistlines would work best. The more fitted in the waist, the harder it will be to make it fit correctly. Patterns designed for knits will give you more room for growth while maintaining a flattering drape.  I look forward to seeing what Karen does with this wrap dress, and Elizabeth with this tutorial.

Thanks Elizabeth, Karen, and Betsy for your excellent “conversation”.  Anyone else want to chime in?