Sewing Inspirations

Sewing your own Ladies Underwear

Sewing your own Ladies Underwear

As promised last time, I'm here to chat to you all about sewing ladies underwear today. Having recently tried out 5 FREE patterns, I can't wait to give you my verdict! Are you ready to get personal? What's more? I'll also mention a few other free options at the end of this post for you to check out, too. 

Let's begin!

Sewing Ladies Underwear

1. 
Stevie Knickers by Paper Theory
This one is free when you subscribe to the Paper Theory newsletter. It comes in UK size 6-20.

The pattern asks for a fabric with a minimum stretch of 20%, so I used the dinosaur origami single jersey from the value jersey collection which has decent 2-way stretch. 

Sewing your own Ladies Undies

As far as pattern descriptions go, this one is absolutely spot on. These are indeed medium rise, with full bum coverage.

In terms of construction, I used the burrito method (see below) for the enclosed gusset, and also sewed the fold over elastic ("FOE") in the round as a last step. I have a strong personal preference of not risking side seams that may not line up properly. 

One additional thing to note here is that the elastic chart is incorrect, as it only counts one length of the leg elastic, rather than two. You might want to take this into account when buying your elastic. Speaking of elastic, note that the rise and the crotch width are as high as the pattern allows, because I used FOE to finish the waist and the leg holes. If you use picot or normal elastic, you will end up with slightly less coverage in these areas. 

I can confirm that they are really comfy, even though the rise and coverage are both a little higher/more than I prefer. I coverstitched the FOE because I happened to have thread cones which happen to match the FOE exactly. However, compared to the leg holes that I zigzagged, these feel the least stretchy.  
 
2. The T-shirt Underwear by Indigo Orchid
This was not from a designer that I had come across before, so I was pretty keen to try it out! You can get the free pattern just by clicking a link. 

I love that this pattern focuses on up-cycling an old t-shirt, but since I have a pretty impressive scrap pile, I decided to use this single jersey (last used to make Freya a flutter sleeved top here). This is a fairly lightweight cotton jersey with a slight 2-way stretch, which is comparable to a t-shirt jersey in my book. 

Make your own ladies undies - knickers

Although this pattern comes in sizes XS to L, there are not size chart or elastic chart. I would therefore not recommend this pattern for a complete beginner, or for your first underwear project. I don't mind a bit of free-styling, however, and had no issue with this. 

I must admit, when this came out, I was a bit shocked by the size of them. They looked massive (even though I made an XS). However, they fit perfectly. The crotch and bum coverage were also full. 

The burrito method was explained pretty well in the instruction post here, with good photos, and I also liked the additional post on using other elastic options. 
I finished the leg holes and the waist with FOE again (mainly because I managed to get lots of lovely scalloped edge FOE in different colours recently), but I used a sewing machine zigzag. Note that strictly speaking, a 3-step zigzag is better and more secure for lingerie making, but I was feeling pretty lazy (have you ever tried unpicking a 3-step zigzag?) so just used a normal zigzag. If I was making bikinis, say, I would definitely use the 3-step option. 

3. Noelle underwear by Madalynne
On the other hand, Madalynne is a well-known lingerie designer, and produces some amazing ready-made kits. In case you don't already know, she also offers the Noelle bralette pattern for free, as well as a few other really nice freebies that are definitely worth checking out. 

I'm totally out of my comfort zone with this one, because I have never worn high waisted underwear in my life. No specific reason, it just never occurred to me to try it. Until now! I chose these over the Maxine High Waist Panties by Evie La Luve (another lingerie pattern heavyweight) because the waist looks a little lower on the Noelle. 

I should warn you, these do not come with instructions. Also, These are the only pattern that I've tried which does not come with an enclosed gusset. Whilst I do tend to have an issue with open gussets (hands up if you need a pocket down there... no, didn't think so), I wanted to try these out because they could be a good pattern for a future bikini or pole shorts (I'm a keen pole fitness addict). 
I made these using the midnight gardens premium jersey which has 4-way stretch, as the pattern requires a minimum 30-40% stretch. 

Ladies knicker sewing patterns

If I was shocked by the last pair, I was flabbergasted by the size of these. What am I supposed to do with these gigantic underwear?! Giggling as I stepped into them, I was even more shocked that they actually fit quite well. I clearly have a bigger bottom that I think I do! 

These come up higher than I expected (I am only 5'3), and the waist could do with taking in slightly, but overall, I think they are pretty wearable. I would certainly consider making these as pole shorts or bikini, with some minor modifications. 

4. Cheeky Revolution by Seen and Sewn
I was pretty excited about these! Again, a new-to-me designer, but a pattern trying to recreate Victoria's Secret undies. I'm in!

This one also doesn't come with a size chart, but I'm an XS in most places so cut that out. I have a personal preference of low rise, slightly less bum coverage, and hemmed leg holes (though I am happy enough with soft FOE), which are exactly the features that this pattern offers. I therefore had pretty high hopes for these. 

I used another premium jersey for these, as it contains 5% spandex as the pattern suggests/the designer used. You will see that I've also made a matching pair for my daughter, using the Nifty Knickers pattern discussed in my last post here.  

Sewing ladies pants with Single Jersey Fabric

Due to the design of these being close to what I look for in ready to wear undies, these are the pair that came out looking the least like "granny underwear" to me. They fit in nicely with the rest of my underwear drawer, even though these would be the first polar bears to feature in that drawer. 

They are the lowest rise of the bunch, with a medium width and relatively short enclosed gusset, and a bit cheekier compared to the others. I liked these. 

That said, I did have some trouble with the construction. First of all, I couldn't find the seam allowance information, so asked the designer directly, who promptly advised that 1/2 inch was included in the pattern pieces. Also, I struggled with lining up the pattern pieces properly. There were quite significant bunny ears and steps at a few joints, which I needed to trim off. But the overall results were pretty good. I appreciated my coverstitch machine for these, but you can do the turned over hemmed leg holes with a regular twin needle set-up on your sewing machine. 

5. Acacia Underwear by Megan Nielsen
Acacia is probably the most well-known and popular free underwear pattern out there, and I made this pair a while ago before the size update and this comparison project. They now come in sizes 0-20, and you can get the pattern with full instructions by signing up to the newsletter. 

These are your everyday underwear, guys. They are relatively low rise, have a fully enclosed gusset and medium bum coverage which includes an attractive curve. 

I mentioned that I made these a while ago (in fact, at the start of my underwear making journey), using the scrap from this project, which was a 4-way stretch premium jersey. I also used picot elastic here, but sadly it was too delicate to survive a few washes. Definitely a lesson learned here - always use robust elastic!

Make your ladies underwear

The other issue I had with this pair was that the elastic dug into my bum slightly, creating an unattractive line through the jeans. This is a pet hate of mine, but I think I could improve things by using longer pieces of elastic for the leg holes or maybe cutting a bigger size. 

How to Sew Ladies Underwear

I have to say, I'm really pleased (if a little surprised) to report that they are all perfectly wearable for me. They all ended up comfortable and functional. But I don't think I will stop here. I have moods where I prefer certain styles, and have scraps of different fabrics to use, so I will tweak some of the patterns above, and try out new ones in the future, too. 

I wanted to mention a few additional freebies for you. I didn't choose them this time for my own reasons, but as I mentioned before, underwear is such a personal garment, and what works for me may be very different to what will work for you. So please do check these out and see what your favourites might be! 

Celeste Panties by Ohhh Lulu - these look so fancy and sexy. I will definitely be making these - just need to source the right stretch lace first!  

Be Bashful Bikini
by At First Blush 

Maxine
by Evie La Luve - as above, waist is too high for me personally

Undies/pants/knickers
by So Zo - sizing is slightly too big for me 

Underwear
by Melly Sews/Blank Slate patterns - crotch looks a little narrow for my preference

Rosy Lady Shorts
by Cloth Habit - this one has a different design/construction, with a central front and back seam. Crotch also looks a bit narrow for my personal preference

Hipster pattern
by Make Bra

That's quite a list, don't you think?

I hope it will help you turn your scraps into your favourite underwear! Famous last words... but I'm not sure I'll buy underwear again! 

Until next time, take care and stay safe!

Alice from Queen of Darts


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Dorota Potorska
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Making Kids Underwear

Making Kids Underwear

I don't know about you, but when I first started sewing (just over 10 years ago), my projects were almost exclusively dresses; sewing and then wearing me-made dresses gave me a lot of satisfaction. The rationale was that nice dresses are generally more expensive to buy, and harder to find (for a petite build) so making them myself helped me "justify" my new hobby (as good value for money - how little did I know?! Haha), not that any justification was ever required anyway! 

As time went on, though, I started to realise that I didn't actually live in dresses everyday, and as lovely as some of these dresses may be, I simply did not have all the fancy occasions to attend which would do my outfit justice. Slowly, my sewing projects shifted towards what I would actually wear, rather than what I wish I could wear. Making clothes that get repeated wear is definitely a smarter choice than making beautiful clothes that sit in a corner of the wardrobe. 

It was this realisation which led me to sewing underwear. What other item in your wardrobe gets guaranteed wear every single day? What's more, this still fulfils my desire to make sewing good value for money, because it is the perfect scrap busting project!

Making Kids Underwear from scraps

I'm going to talk about underwear for kids today, because my almost (though still not interested) ready for potty training daughter needs all the encouragement that she can get to get her started. I've tried out a few (mostly free) patterns along the way, and wanted to share with you what I've made. I'll discuss a few additional patterns as well so you have even more options to choose from.

You can get this pattern for free by subscribing to the MBJM subscriber letter, or by buying a ladies or men's underwear pattern. I made the briefs version, but there is also a boxer version available, which is fantastic for a free pattern! The sizing range is huge, too, running all the way from 6 months to 12 years. 

Sewing Kids Underwear from scraps

I made this cheetah pair using the tiniest of scraps leftover from the leggings project. It lived up to its name, and was indeed a speedy sew, especially if you have an overlocker. 

The overall fit (even though I blended sizes) was not perfect -- the bands are a bit tight, but the bum area is a bit loose. The thing is, underwear is such a personal thing: we all have different body shapes, and not to mention different preferences. Freya has a proper toddler pot belly and pretty impressive thighs, and mummy has never been a big fan of leg bands on underwear. This doesn't stop the pattern from being a great freebie though; in fact, I'm pretty sure I will try this again perhaps after the toddler belly goes away in a few years' time. This must also be a no-brainer pattern for little boys, especially considering the boxer option. 
 
These look more like your shop bought underwear, and probably for that reason, I really liked the look of these. I couldn't get this completely free, but at AUD $0.99 (under 60p), I was happy to invest. 

Making Kids Underwear

I'm so glad I did! I made these in Size 3T, using my scrap from this Peter Rabbit Dress, and some pale blue fold over scalloped elastic. These are straight out of the envelop, so to speak, and fit Freya pretty well! 

The only thing was that the waistline was slightly too high (toddler pot belly, remember?), so I cut the next pair 1 cm lower at the waist (front and back), using the scrap from this dungarees project. I'm sure you are getting the idea now about how scrap busting making underwear can be 🙂
 
Sewing Kids Underwear
I'm really pleased with how these turned out! They are so sweet, and the fit was almost perfect. The only thing that I will do for the next version is to make the waist elastic a little shorter. And yes, there will be many next versions!
I really wanted to try these because 1) they are free, 2) they are a bit different - more "boy shorts" style but are actually designed specifically for girls; and 2) the legs are hemmed, rather than using elastic or bands. I mentioned that I have a preference of elastic over bands on underwear; in fact, if I had the choice, turned over and hemmed legs are what I would go for every time.  

Making Kids Underwear

But doing this on Freya's knickers is a different story. Hemming in the round with a pretty tight turning cycle was challenging; the resulting leg holes are also not as stretchy as the elasticated versions above. I did like the shape, but to be honest they didn't fit great on Freya.  

The sizing is a bit weird here. Some sizes are included in one file, but other sizes are in separate files. This makes things a little tricky if you need to blend sizes. The waist elastic sizing is very very different (they look tiny) to the other patterns, too, so I'd double check and measure your child if you were going to use this pattern. 

Making Kids Underwear from scraps

So out of these 3 patterns, the clear winner for me is the Nifty Knickers Pattern. I'm really pleased to have paid the 60p for my research, as I know that I'll be getting lots of use out of this pattern. And before I move on, I wanted to share a little tip with you -- using stretch thread or wooly nylon in your bobbin or lower thread/looper when finishing the edges (or applying fold over elastic) would make the seams softer against the skin.  

Right, as promised, it's time to share 2 more patterns with you. Even though I haven't tried them yet, they've stood out for one reason or another, and are firmly on my to try list.  
Strictly speaking, this is not an underwear pattern. But it is free, and can be so easily adapted - skip the swimwear lining, add a gusset, and you are done! 
The sizing is great, too, including 2-14 years old. What a generous freebie! 

6. Jalie Julia  << Link 👈
I'm seriously tempted to buy this pattern. OK, it's not free, but you do always get great bang for your buck with Jalie patterns. For CAD$ 12.95 (around £7.50), this pattern gives you a comfy bralette (for lounging or as a sports bra), knickers with high or low waist with a cross-over illusion detail, and a swing camisole. If this is not enough for you, it includes 28 sizes all the way from a 2-year old to 2XL in ladies.
Matching undies anyone? 

This leads me nicely to a little early reveal for the topic of the next blog post that is still in the works - ladies underwear!  There are even more free patterns out there, so I'd better get sewing! 

Thanks for reading! Until next time,
Take care and stay safe,
Alice from Queen of Darts 


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Dorota Potorska
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Sewing Machine Covers

Sewing Machine Covers

You know you are overdue sewing piping when you find 2 lots of "naked" piping cords in your stash when you are about to click "confirm purchase" to buy some "for the first time". And no, let's not talk about the pre-covered ones that are also quietly sitting in my stash... With 10 whole years of sewing experience under my belt (including a wedding dress, no less), it is rather surprising that I have never worked with piping. 

It's time to put an end to that, and what better way to do that than making matching outfits for my beloved sewing machines?

Sewing Machine Covers

How lovely do they look? From left to right, we have my coverstitch, overlocker and sewing machine under these beautiful covers. I love that they are matching, but also all slightly different in terms of the patterns. 
Let's pause for a moment and swoon over that lemurs linen look half panama fabric, from Flamingo Fabrics DECOR COLLECTION, shall we? I wanted something with fairly neutral colours, large-ish scale prints, but also a bit quirky. It also needed to have a bit of body, so something medium to heavy weight was what I was after. This fabric was absolutely perfect! If you were looking for something a bit different, how about this cute rainbow half panama, or this leopard one

The pattern I used was a FREE ONE, generously offered by Closet Core (Closet Case until recently) Patterns. Look, we even both have pegboards and thread spools in the background! 

I love this pattern, because it includes one version for your box standard sewing machine, and one for the overlocker. It includes lines for easy alteration to fit your machine as well. No complaint from me!

Making a Sewing Machine Cover
 
First up is the sewing machine cover. It seems that my Brother FS60 is a bit bigger than the machine in the pattern, so I added between 3/8 and 1 inch of length, height and depth to the pattern. 

The only design change I added was a line towards the back at the top of the middle piece, to make sure that my lemurs are facing the right way up. This also had the purpose of providing a little opening to access the handle. I basted the opening closed, pressed seam allowances open, overlocked the seam allowance (separately) and topstitched with parallel lines both sides of the seam. After taking out the basting, I added a couple of decorative bar tacks each side of the opening. 

You could see the details here. Little things like this makes me happy! 

Sewing Machine Cover Detail

Next, I made the covers for my overlocker and coverstitch. I was lucky because they basically measured the same as each other, and whilst I needed to alter the pattern pieces slightly, I only needed to do that once. 

Sewing Machine Covers

I slashed the middle piece again at the top, to ensure that my lemurs were not hanging upside down at the back. I took extra care when cutting out, which is necessary when working with large prints. I also wanted these two otherwise identical covers to look slightly different in terms of the print. 

And back to the piping - in many ways, the piping was essential for this project -- it is a nice detail, but also serves a useful function of adding more structure to the covers. I'm pleased to report that it was actually really easy to make, and to apply!  I really don't know why it took me 10 years to try piping! I followed the tutorial here, and simply used my zipper foot for both the making and the assembling steps. 

Sewing Machine Cover

And that's it on my matching machine covers. I must admit, over the years, I've often felt quite guilty looking across at my loyal machines which are either sat on my sewing table naked, or under the tatty old plastic cover. Now, glancing at my machines makes me feel warm and cosy inside. 

Before I go, I wanted to share an alternative pattern for a sewing machine cover. It is not free, and is not what I was after this time, but how quaint is this
Let's leave it there for now. Until next time, take care and stay safe!

Alice from
Queen of Darts

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Dorota Potorska
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Matching Joggers for Mum & Daughter

Matching Joggers for Mum & Daughter

Please Note: We don't always have stock of the specific fabrics shown in our blog posts. So, we have changed any links to take you to the category of fabric rather than the specific colours etc. This way you can find matching fabrics if we have them in stock or just choose nice contrasting colours if we don't.

I am delighted to share my latest project with you - matching joggers for me and Freya. I can't think of a single clothing item that is getting more wear during lockdown at this household (ok, maybe underwear, but even bra is sometimes optional these days 😉), so I wanted to turn this amazing leopard print French Terry (with matching plain FT and matching ribbing) into matching joggers for us. 

Matching Joggers
At the moment, Freya loves pointing out where things are the same, so having matching clothes to mummy has been a real hit (by which I mean that she was excited for about one entire minute). I don't think I've received such high praises on my sewing to date, and yes, you remembered right, I did make my wedding dress!
 
Matching Joggers
 
Bonus feature - I managed to eke out an extra contrast pair (aka "plain fabric with leopard accent") for Freya as well, after the first pair went down so well! And I seriously mean "eking out" - I'm basically left with no scrap. I didn't quite have enough leopard for the waistband, so it was a toss up between waistband vs ankle cuffs in leopard. After a long deliberation, I chose the latter, and finished the waistband in the ribbing, which is super comfy anyway. 

Matching Joggers
 
Let's take this opportunity to talk more about the fabric. First of all, it might sound obvious, but the plain, leopard French Terry and the maroon ribbing are a perfect match, better than True Match by L'oreal. Secondly, French Terry is so, so easy to work with! It's got just the right amount of stretch and recovery, but a bit more stability and body than cotton jersey. They are just the right weight and feel for some joggers. If it wasn't named like a handsome French man, I'd be writing it a love letter. 


Toddler joggers

These are the new Mini Modern Joggers by Brindille and Twig, and it was love at first sight. I'm already a fan of Melissa's designs, but this pattern is so on trend! The tapered fit, pockets (front and back), knee patches (swoon), and optional drawstring - what more could you want for your toddler joggers? I wish this comes in adult size! 

Matching Joggers 
I've made both pairs for the next age bracket (as always, as I couldn't bear the thought of Freya outgrowing mummy-made clothes too quickly). This means that for 20-month old Freya, I cut a size 2-3 in length, and graded to 3-4 in width based on her measurements. They are a bit on the long side, but folding the long cuffs in half provides a nice "grow-with-me" option. 
 
Matching Joggers
We have to talk about those knee patches. Not only are they adorable, and provide extra protection and longevity to the joggers, they are perfect for scrap busting. I'm secretly wishing that I had added knee patches for my pair (although I'd have run out of fabric for Freya's second pair). 

For the leopard version with the plain knee patches, I added 6 rows of topstitching (in addition to the rows at the top and bottom) for decorative effect. I used the pressure foot as a guide, and am pretty pleased with how even the stitching came out.

Whilst I omitted the back pockets in the "jazzy" version, I included them to the "plain" pair for dramatic effect. I'm not sure I've ever admired the bum area on a pair of trousers so much! 


Grown-up joggers

Matching Joggers

First things first, who doesn't dream of leopard print jogging bottoms? These were made using Papercut Anima pattern, which I have used before. Although the last pair was made only over a year ago, I had somehow forgotten all about how I made them. The good news is, they are, hands down, the most worn garment that I've ever made (for example, I was wearing the first pair when I made this pair, which was pretty handy for verifying the construction steps). When I was set to having another go, I knew exactly the (small) adjustments that I wanted to incorporate this time: deeper pockets to host bigger phones (which seems to be the norm these days), and correcting the length (see my silly mistake last time).

Also, I'll let you in on a little secret - I'm pretty sure I got confused between the stretch line and grainline when cutting out the ankle cuffs last time (did I mention baby brain?)! This has also been fixed for my new version. 

Matching Joggers

What remains unchanged are all the other amazing elements, including the faux fly, which is what sold this pattern to me over the obvious alternatives like the True Bias Hudson (a close call).  


Alternative pattern options

This isn't a full round-up, but I wanted to throw a couple of things into the mix for you. 
For the toddler pattern, I'd say that the Mini Modern is perfect. For older kids, there is the Modern Jogger available, too. I've just noticed that they go up to an age 14, which will almost certainly fit me. Maybe I can see knee patches in my future, after all 😉 

The only reasons I could imagine that you might want to go a different direction is if you want a different fit, or if you prefer using a lighter weight jersey fabric, in which case I'd suggest checking out the Ellie & Mac Kid's Joggers. This pattern spans from 12 months to 14 years, and includes both a tapered fit and a relaxed fit. They also come with patch options, which are different! I did also buy this pattern when it was $1 from their Wacky Wednesday promotion, and do hope to try them out with jersey soon. 

I mentioned the True Bias Hudson before, and I have the men's version in my stash. In fact, I already have the fabric (a beautiful loopy grey marl, currently out of stock) cut out for a pair of new joggers for my husband! Yep, we all need more joggers during lockdown. In addition to the original ladies pattern, the Hudson also comes in kid's version, which might provide a proper matchy matchy option for the whole family if that's what you are after. The Hudson are very well reviewed patterns, and come with a full sew-along, which would be helpful if you haven't sewn joggers before, regardless of what pattern you are using really.  

Matching Joggers
And that's it for now, guys, 3 pairs of joggers all in one post! Gotta jog 😄
Thanks for reading,

Alice from Queen of Darts


Links: 

French Terry
Plain Fabrics
Ribbing

Dorota Potorska
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Easy hacks for the FREE Kids T-shirt pattern

Easy hacks for the FREE Kids T-shirt pattern

Have you sewn up your own version of the FREE Basic T-shirt pattern for kids yet? A free pattern is awesome enough in itself (especially one with a beautiful neck seam cover detail!), but how could we up this awesomeness even more?

How about some very easy hacks to make it not so basic? Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a basic T-shirt; in fact, it is the perfect canvas to show off your prints. But if you are in the mood to jazz it up a little, this post is for you 😉

 

Easy Hack #1 - Flutter Sleeves

Before I had Freya, I was not really into ruffles. But what do you know? Freya came along with her chubby little arm rolls, and suddenly ruffles and flutter sleeves became irresistible to me. 

Last summer, I made her a self-drafted flutter sleeve romper (mimicking a ready-to-wear summer romper that she looked adorable in), using this lovely single jersey (anyone remember this, by the way?). Summer rolled along again, and of course Freya outgrew that romper. Thankfully I had enough remnant to make a little flutter sleeve T-shirt.

 

 

It’s so easy to create your own! Before I get into the hack, I want to caveat by saying that there are a few different ways of adding flutter sleeves, and what I'm showing you here is my preferred method. In terms of design, these sleeve pieces go all the way round the armscycle, so that you don’t have to worry about finishing the remaining edge, nor hemming the sleeve! The fabric will also be double-sided, so that you won't have to worry about the plain reverse side flipping up on a windy day. Sound ok? Let's begin.  

Instead of the sleeve pattern piece, you would need to draft your own flutter sleeves pattern like the one below. Don't worry, I'll take you through it. 

 

You'll need the following measurements:

 

  • Armcycle (A) - measure around the pattern pieces and deduct the seam allowances - I made a size 2T with 3T width, and A for me is approx 30cm
  • The desired depth of the flutter sleeve at the top shoulder seam (T) - I wanted mine to be 3.5cm deep
  • The desired depth of the flutter sleeve at the bottom (armpit) - (B) - I wanted this to be 1cm. 

 

Use these measurements to draw the following pattern (the picture is not to sale, and just for demonstration purposes only): 

 

 

For the length of the straight edge, you'll see that I used a factor of 1.6. You could use any factor between 1.5 and 2, depending on how tight you want the gathers (eg. if you want the ruffles to be more profound, go for a factor of 2).   

Cut two of these on the fold

Sew up the shoulder seams on the top as per the instructions. You’ll see here that I’ve also sewn the neckband already – I was on auto pilot and did my normal shoulder – neck band – sleeve – side seam thing. Don't mind me - it makes no difference to the construction of our flutter sleeves.

 Fold the pieces width wise, with wrong side together. 

Sew 2 parallel long basting stitches along the curvy edge within the 1cm seam allowance, without backstitching. Here’s a cheeky tip for you – you know when you often end up with just a tiny bit of thread left on your bobbin after a sewing project? This is the time to use them up! You’ll have to eyeball and make a judgement on whether there is enough left on the bobbin, because you don’t want to be running out half way through. Thankfully, I’ve got pretty good at this over the years, and I’m pleased to report that I was rewarded with 4 new “newly available” bobbins and some colourful basting stitches.

I digress. Gather up the curved side by pulling the (colourful) bobbin threads until the gathers look even and that the length matches the armcycle. Pin or clip the gathered side to the right side of the top, ensuring that the ends match up nicely.

Sew with the 1cm seam allowance. Carefully remove basting stitches so the seams stretch properly again. 

Did I mention that the sleeves won't need hemming?  

The flipside of the no hemming is that you'll have to be extra careful in the next step, aligning the bottom of the sleeves properly (as any unevenness can't be hidden in the hem). Pin or clip the bodice sides together (with right sides together), from the sleeves through to the hem. 

I like to baste the top few centimetres, where the bottom of the sleeves join up, with my sewing machine here. This gives me better control, before running my overlocker down the entire seam. 

Here's proof that it is worth the additional step!

Now, follow the rest of the steps in the instructions and finish your neckline and hem. 

Wasn’t that easy?

Ready for another hack?

 

Easy Hack #2 -  gathered peplum

It’s so easy to hack a T-shirt pattern into a peplum top! Let's jump straight in. 

First, alter the front and back bodice pattern pieces of the T-shirt, by chopping off some length at the bottom. I used a couple of Freya’s ready-to-wear peplum tops to gauge how much to chop off. Essentially you'll want to chop somewhere below the waistline, and allow 1cm for the seam allowance, too. It doesn't have to be overly scientific. For reference, I removed 11.5cm from the 2T length for this top, and she is 22 months’ old. 

Next, draw a rectangle piece for the peplum. This will be used to cut the identical front and back peplum pieces. 

  • For the height/width, I wanted my finished peplum to be 10cm tall, so I added 1cm seam allowance at the top, and 2cm hem to get the width of my pattern piece (13cm).
  • For the length, I measured the width of the bottom of the new bodice front and back pieces. They were both 16cm wide including a 1cm seam allowance, and to be cut on the fold, which means that I'm working with a width of roughly 60cm. Now multiple this measurement by 1.25, and you have the length of your long rectangle. 

If you are following my reference, my rectangle was a long strip measuring 75cm long (horizontal) and 13cm tall (vertical).  

If maths aren't your thing, I have a cheeky short-cut for you. You know the strip that you chopped off the bottom of the bodice front and back pieces? Take one of those, add 1cm at the top, and "stretch" this to be 2.5 times long horizontally. Now you have your pattern piece!

Cut 2 of these, one front and one back piece. For me, I wanted to cut the fabric in the most efficient way, (as I am planning on making some leggings for me from what's left) so I ended up cutting 2 back pieces with a centre back seam.

Another little tip for you - if you are using a stripy fabric, have you thought about rotating the fabric 90 degrees to have mismatched strips? 

Right, let's sew! First, follow the instructions (as if you have cut the full T-shirt pieces) all the way until just before the hemming step. 

Join the peplum front and back strips with right sides together, making a long loop. 

Mine looks a bit different as I cut 2 back pieces. 

Gather up the top edge with 2 long, parallel basting stitches within the seam allowance (see more blurb on gathering in Hack #1 above). Do not backstitch or overlap your start and end stitches, but you also want to minimise the gap between when you end and where you started. 

Pull the bobbin threads evenly to gather. Pin or clip this to the bottom of the T-shirt, with right sides together, matching up the side seams.  

Sew this up with the 1cm seam allowance. Remove basting stitches. 

Then hem as per the instructions, and you are all done!


But I won't stop here. How about a few extra bonus ideas? 

Bonus idea #1

Why stop at the peplum? Add more height to your rectangle from Hack #2, and you'll have a little dress on your hands!

Bonus idea #2

How about a little patch pocket? A contrast pocket (plain for print, or vice versa) could add a lovely design element, and you won't even need to worry about pattern matching. The simplest one to draft is just a little rectangle, but you could fold the bottom corners for an extra fancy touch. There are lots of tutorials out there for pockets, and I can't top those. 

Bonus idea #3

How about not even adding the ruffles, and making a crop top for the hotter months?

Bonus idea #4 

Last but definitely not least, how about an origami boat? I don't know about you, but I can't wait to try this!  

That's it from me today. I hope this post has helped getting your creative juices flowing, and shown you what a gift this FREE pattern is! 

Until next time, 

Alice (and Freya) from Queen of Darts

 

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Dorota Potorska
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Peter Rabbit Dress & Pattern

Peter Rabbit Dress & Pattern

Who doesn't like Peter Rabbit?

My 19-month old toddler Freya is certainly a big fan! I am biased, but she is at such a cute age at the moment - starting to really show and voice her preferences, and lucky for Mummy, Freya really loves her new Peter Rabbit dress. 

It's pretty long right now (with the end of the sleeves folded in), but I just can't bear the thought of her outgrowing this one too quickly!

After a careful "audit" of Freya's wardrobe, I noticed that she is in need of a long-sleeve, wear anywhere and anytime sort of dress. I pictured it with a loosely fitted bodice, and a lightly gathered skirt, which can be layered up with a cardigan and tights when the weather gets a bit chilly (oh yes, I am serious about her wearing this one for as long as possible). 

 

Poppy & Jazz Pansy dress was just the pattern, and it fulfilled my vision perfectly. I bought this when it was in baby sizing 0-24m, but its recent expansion of sizing to up to 6-year old was a very welcome move indeed. I can see many more versions of this in the years to come. 

I made size 18-24m (knowing that the sizing works pretty well for Freya), and cut the skirt a little shorter (based on the 18m line). 

The instructions were nice and clear, and straightforward enough for beginners. Part of me wanted to compare it to the instructions of a similar adult dress, like the Colette Moneta (my version here), but that would probably be unfair, and what the Pansy offers is more than fit for purpose. Top tip - if you do want to (and have the time to) pick up some excellent tips for sewing with knits, check out the Moneta sew-along -- you are welcome. 

 

But as a busy mum, I didn't indulge my perfectionism and take my time over each step, and man did it backfire! Whilst I have had success in the past of gathering knit with clear elastic (no basting and unpicking, hooray!), my impatience got better of me this time. What awaited were me so hideously uneven gathers. Ignoring it and moving onto the next step did not help my sanity as much as I hoped, and I ended up chopping off the entire waistline seam, and starting over. I'm sharing this because 1) we often don't share enough about the imperfections behind all the beautiful photos and 2) to remind myself that sewing when you feel rushed will not provide great results, and that sewing is a hobby that I enjoy, not a task to complete. 

Enough philosophy speak, don't you think? Let's look at those lovely gathers (picture above) that I took my time with in the end. 

 

The fabric is absolutely gorgeous. There is no hiding from the fact that I have a bit (okay, a lot) of a fabric obsession, but this was one of the prints that grabbed my attention from the get go. The colours, the design and the scale are all perfect, and this fabric would also make amazing t-shirts and leggings. You can also team it with all sorts of cuffings/ribbings, which makes it super versatile. 

Currently this particular jersey is on pre-order here, and you can also grab two other desigs here and here. It's just too good to miss! Any other cotton jersey would work very well for this little dress, too - just pick your design! 

So there you have it, a pretty little dress that is good all-year round. It is a classic design, easy to make, and comfortable to wear. What's not to like?

Until next time, take care and happy sewing! 

Alice from Queen of Darts

 

 

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Projectors for Sewing - Sewing Patterns projected directly onto your Fabric

Projectors for Sewing - Sewing Patterns projected directly onto your Fabric

Have you heard of the new craze in sewing world? It’s called projectors for sewing, or projector cutting! and it's taking the Sewing Community by storm. 

 

 

Imagine never again having to print, cut and tape your PDF sewing patterns… Imagine pattern outlines just appearing on your fabrics… like… magic! This wizardry is called projecting and it’s within a reach of any sewist.

When I first heard of it I couldn't contain my excitement. So much of the time consuming pattern preparation can be skipped!

I’ve done some research and came across the Facebook group called Projectors for sewing. The group is full of resources, tips, tricks and practical advice on how to set up various projectors. I highly recommend to join the group. I could not do it without their support!

It can be a little tricky to set up for the first time, it doesn't cost the earth though and once you have it set up, it's done forever and you'll never look back... I promise!

What you need:

  1. Projector
  2. Wall/Celling Fixture
  3. Connection to your device – HDMI cable or Chromecast, Wi-Fi if using Chromecast
  4. Spirit Level
  5. Cutting mat with guides (optional but very helpful)
  6. Calibration Grid file download here
  7. PDF pattern in A0 (copy shop) format

 

PROJECTOR

I’m using the Apeman LC350 but there are many other makes and models that work great. They can vary in prices significantly but the very basic one is all you need. The Apeman cost me £69.99 but some of the short throw projectors can cost much more.

Before you buy there are a few things to consider

  • Short throw – measure the distance from wall/celling to your cutting table, floor or other surface where you want to project your patterns and check your chosen model to see what size of picture you can achieve
  • Lumens – how bright the projected picture will be and think of how bright/ambient your room is. If your working space has lot of light you'll need a brighter picture (more lumens) and for darker rooms less lumens is fine. The projector I’m using has 4500 lumens.
  • Resolution – it’s the max size the projector can display. It’s most often described in (P) pixels. The Apeman I’m using supports 1080P resolution – which is the same as my laptop screen resolution.
  • Keystone – does the projector let you adjust the keystone? Keystone is the correction adjustment you can make to offset a screen that is not rectangular due to the angle of the projection.
  • Connectivity – how are you going to connect your projector to the device you have your patterns on? Most projectors have HDMI port but some come with Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Wall/celling Mount – before you decide which one to buy there are a few things to consider.
    • Where the projector will be mounted – on the wall, celling, photography stand?
    • Is it adjustable? Will it let you mount the projector with lens facing down? Can it be adjusted easily to level the projector?
    • How to attach the projector to mount - will the chosen mount fit the mounting holes on the projector?
    • What’s the maximum weight the mount will hold? Check the weight of your chosen projector to see if the mount is suitable.
  • Connection to the device you are going to use to project the patterns like laptop, desktop computer or tablet. Here are some options to consider
    • HDMI cable – most projectors will come with a HDMI cable that you can use to connect the projector to a laptop or desktop computer. You may not be able to connect the HDMI cable to your mobile phone or tablet. Most of the projectors come with the HDMI cables but they are usually very short so if you want to use the cable, chances are you will need an extra, extra-long one.
    • Chromecast cost about £20 – this is a device that turns other devices (like projector) into a wireless one. It connects to the projector via HDMI port but it also needs to be plugged in to the mains so something to consider when assessing where your projector will be placed.
    • Some projectors, usually the more expensive ones, will have built in wi-fi connectivity which means no cables or Chromecast is needed.

The set up and calibration process is not easy but only needed to be done once. There are many variables so a trial and error with a lot of patience and persistence is required.

Let’s get started!

Physical set up

  • Fix the projector to the wall/celling making sure the cables are secured and won’t pull the projector after set up.
  • Make sure the projector is levelled at all angles. That’s a good starting point for further steps but be prepared to adjust and readjust if needed.

  • Make sure the surface you’re projecting onto is also levelled.
  • Set the focus – make sure the image is as sharp as can be.

  • Make sure the projected image is straight on the surface. One of the ways to do this is to check if all 4 corners of the projected image are 90°.

  • Keystone - If the corners are not squared, adjust the keystone dial. Do it only if you are confident that the projector and surface are levelled.

 

Projector Set Up

  • First choose the HDMI as your picture source

  • Check the Aspect Ratio. The Apeman projector I’m using have to be set to Panorama.

  • Other projectors may have different ratio that works best. If you’re not sure what’s best experiment with different setting during the calibration process.

 

Connect the projector

  • Connect the projector to your device. I found it easiest to work with a laptop and to avoid all the messy cables I connected using Chromecast.

  • Connecting Chromecast and casting your screen:

You need to setup the Chromecast via Google Home app. All it needs is to connect to your wi-fi network. The laptop/computer needs to be in the same network.

  • Open Google Chrome browser and in the top right corner click on the 3 dots opening a menu. Click on Cast. You should be able to see your Chromecast device. Before you click on the device choose cast desktop. The window will pop up. Click on the picture of your desktops and then click Share. You should have image of your entire screen projected on your table.

Calibration

  • Download the calibration file – this is the PDF file with a simple grid that helps you to check if the projected image has correct measurements. The lines are 1cm apart. You can download the file here. It’s also available in the Projectors For Sewing group in imperial and metric format.

  • Open your calibration file. The following instructions are for Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can use other PDF readers but the steps may be different.
  • Align your cutting mat with the displayed grid – the aim is to get all the lines of the displayed grid aligned to the lines of the cutting mat and that’s the most difficult part of the set up.

  • Concentrate on the middle of the grid first.
  • Align red vertical and horizontal lines with one of the middle lines on your mat.
  • Check if the next projected line is 1cm from the red line.
  • If the line is more than 1cm it means the projected image is to big. If the lines are less than 1cm apart it means the projected image is too small.

  • Adjust the zoom of your PDF file. If the projected image is too big - decrease the zoom and if the image is to small increase the zoom.

  • The zoom needs to be set very precisely and often to a tenth of a percent. My zoom is set to 32.8% and that’s the only setting where the lines are exactly 1cm apart. Once you find your zoom setting make a note as every time you project you need to use exactly the same percentage of zoom. (presuming the projector hasn't been moved)
  • Once the lines in the middle are aligned have a look at the other lines. Are they aligned with the lines of the cutting mat? If the answer is yes – you are all set! If not – don’t panic and carry on adjusting!
  • If the lines are not aligned there are a few things to check over and adjust if needed. This can take a bit of experimenting to find just the right set up. Remember when adjusting the following variables – adjust one at a time and recheck the grid.
  • Recheck if the projector and surface is levelled
  • Recheck if the corners of projected image are 90°
  • Adjust the focus
  • Check if the computer screen resolution is the same as the resolution of your projector. If different then change the screen resolution or settings on you projector
  • Try other Aspect Ratio settings of your projector.
  • It took me few tries and each time I started from scratch and went over each step again.
    This is no way an extensive guide to calibration and with so many different projectors, computers and set-ups it’s difficult to explore them all. If you still have problems with getting your projected image right head over to Projector for sewing Facebook Group and you will find more detailed information there.

      When you have your projector all set up and celebratory dance done it’s time to give a real pattern a try!

      Before you start there are few things to know:

      • You need to have a pattern in PDF A0 format, sometimes called a photo shop format. Most pattern designers offer it along the A4 sizes.
      • Some PDF patterns have layers that can be switched on/off. It make it easier to be able to display only one size instead of all. Not all pattern designers offer this option. Some designers are now offering projector files with thicker lines and size layering. It’s good to check before buying if you want to project the pattern.

      All of our own PDF patterns have layers and are suitable to use with projectors.

      Being able to switch the layers of and on is also very helpful when you need to blend between sizes.

      Here is what to look for: 

      • To be able to see the pattern more clearly I prefer to revert the colours of the PDF. Here is how to do it in Acrobat Reader:

      Time to cut the fabric!

      Having the pattern projected instead of pinned takes a bit of adjusting. First thing is to make sure that the fabric doesn’t move once correctly placed.

      As you are not able to move the fabrics you will need to have enough space around it to be able to move to cut from different angles.

      Hope you enjoyed reading about my adventure with projectors. If you give it a go don’t forget to share your experience!

      Dorota Potorska
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      My quest for the perfect summer dress

      My quest for the perfect summer dress

      Have you been looking for a special kiddie dress that’ll be perfect for the coming 

      summer months?

      Thankfully I found the perfect pattern in Slpco - Malibu!!! With its twirly skirt and twisted back she felt less like a kid in it while keeping mummy happy that she’s not too grown up just yet!!

      Dorota Potorska
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      Sew your own socks from scraps

      Sew your own socks! Super quick and easy sewing project

      Have you ever tried sewing socks? If you haven't, now is a perfect time!

      With just a few scraps of jersey, sewing machine and free pattern from Ellie and Mac it's a breeze!

      The Sew it Forward socks pattern is free and comes in sizes from kids to adults. The sizes are based on size of the sole. I've made size 9-10 for my 6yrs old daughter but she has rather small feet so always best to measure.

      The pattern is only 4 pages so very quick to assemble.

      I've decided to leave the printed version as a 'master' pattern and copy the size I need onto our Thermoadhesive Tracing Paper  It works amazing on small pieces like the sock pattern pieces.

       

       

       Here is our Thermoadhesive Tracing paper in action:

       

       

      The best fabrics for this project are single jersey with at least 5% lycra.

      You can find our selection here

      The fabric needs to have a good stretch at least 50% - that means that 10cm piece should stretch to 15cm and bounce back easily after stretch.

      I highly recommend using cotton based fabrics to have your socks super comfy and breathable.

      Make sure you prewash your fabric as cotton tends to shrink about 5%.

      I've picked two fabrics from our range Pink Leopard Jersey and Mermaids Scales Jersey

      Here are all the pieces cut out

      Let's get sewing!

      You can make socks using overlocker or standard domestic machine. I made one pair entirely on overlocker and one pair using only sewing machine. I love my overlocker but this time I need to admit I got the better results with sewing machine. The process is the same just a different method. You can find the tips on sewing with machine further down

      I've made the pink leopard socks entirely on overlocker:

      • Align the back bottom and back top pieces right sides together and sew between the notches. It can be a bit tricky to go round the curve without stretching the fabric

      • Open up this piece and place right sides together on the front piece. You may need to stretch the back a little to fit the front.

       

      • Sew around leaving the straight edge open

      • Fold the band in half wrong side together aligning long edges and iron. Open the fold.
      • Fold again right sides together aligning the short edges and sew.
      • Refold in half creating the tube
      • Divide the tube in half marking the opposite edge with pin or small notch:

      • The bands should be a little shorter than the sock opening:

      • Put the band inside the sock align the edges and align the seam and mark on the band with side seam of the sock.

      • It can be tricky to sew around the opening of small sock to take your time and stop often to readjust the band

      Here is a wee trick how to secure the finished overlock thread:

      Separate the 2 straight threads from the loopy ones and pull them out. Make a knot and all done:

       
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      Here is few things to know if you using sewing machine instead of overlocker:

      • Choose the stretch stitch

      • If you don't have a 'special stretch stitch the zigzag stitch is great if you decrease the stitch length and width. It's best to check on scrap first to see which settings will give you the most stretching stitch.

      I've made the Mermaid Scale sock entirely on sewing machine

      The process is the same as above apart from 2 extra steps:

      • Clip the corner where the back top and side seam meet. The further you can cut without cutting the seam the better results:

         

        • Trim the seam allowances - using pinking shears makes it super easy. If you don't have them just trim the edges but you will also need to clip all the curves.

        • After sewing the side seam of the band make a small cut into the seam allowance in the middle and iron the both parts of seam allowance opposite ways. This will help to reduce the bulk of the seam:

        • Refold the band and sew to the sock top

        That's it, all done! Turn around and admire!

        The pattern is very easily adjustable and if you feel your socks are too loose at toes just redo the curved seam a bit further down.

        I found the band to be a little to tight so will make a next pair a bit wider at the top.

        This project has been so much fun and I'm surprised how comfy the socks are. Even my usually fussy 6yrs old approved!

        Dorota Potorska
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        Whimsical woodland dungarees + pattern round-up

        Whimsical woodland dungarees + pattern round-up

        Whimsical Dungarees
        Let’s talk dungarees today. By dungarees, I mean the type that's made with knit fabrics - onesie without sleeves, if you will, and those that are often referred to as rompers  Sorry, grown-ups, we will also be focusing on kids clothes today, following my round-up on the leggings and PJs. Perhaps we can talk grown-up outfits another time, but the truth is, since becoming a mum, much of my sewing efforts have been focused on the baby. The constant growing opens up great opportunities for new outfits, and I cannot deny the joy that I am filled with when I see Freya in mummy made clothes.

         

        As kids clothes go, in my humble opinion, dungarees are possibly the cutest outfits that you can put your kids in, and one of the most well received gifts. As much as I enjoy knocking up a pair of leggings, dungarees have the advantage of being an outfit in one; they also do a wonderful job showing off beautiful prints. They are modern, comfortable, and can be made to suit both warm and cold months. It really is no wonder that they are so popular!

         

        I’ve made quite a few pairs in the last year or so: 3 pairs for Freya (here, here and here) and one more pair as a gift. Did I mention that they make amazing gifts?

         

        As the weather turns cooler, I wanted to make another pair of dungarees to keep Freya warm for the coming months. The Whimsical Woodlands jersey was the perfect backdrop to help us embrace the autumnal days! I paired it up with some quilted jersey from my stash, et voila! A pair of reversible dungarees were born.

         

         

         

        Without further ado, let’s start with the pattern round-up! 

         

        Best reversible pattern

         

        I used the Dandelion dungarees pattern by Poppy and Jazz, which is the kids pattern range from Sew Over It by Lisa Comfort. This truly has been a tried and tested pattern in my household, and just as I started experiencing anxiety that Freya was outgrowing the 24m range limit that came with the pattern, what do you know? Lisa extended the age range to 6 years! I was over the moon. And so was she!

         


         

        The best thing about this pattern is that it is reversible. Having made it quite a few times in the past, I also know that the fit is good on Freya. I did make this pair in size 18-24m, due to the limited stretch and the thickness of the quilted jersey, and there is currently plenty of room to grow (she's just under 14 months right now). I have put in 2 sets of poppers; together with the rolled over hem, they should be good to see us through till warmer times! 


         

        I have made some tweaks over time purely as a matter of personal preference. Let me walk you through those.

         

        Firstly, I tweaked the strap construction. Instead of cutting a separate piece as the strap for each side, I cut them as part of the back piece by extending the shoulders. I also raised the poppers by 1.5 inches, so that the straps stay up better. This basically means that at the front, I added 1.5 inches to the top of each shoulder; at the back, I added the length of the strap piece, before deducting 1.5 inches.  You should remember to allow for seam allowances, too.

         

         


         

        Secondly, I raised the centre back by 1 inch.

         

         

        I like the end result after these adjustments, but in all honesty, I also didn’t have any problem when I sew a pair straight out of the envelope. I wanted to share what I did just in case you were wondering why this pair looks a little different from the official photos.

         

        I’m particularly fond of this pattern for the cooler months. Being reversible, these dungarees are essentially fully lined, and you really can knock yourself out with all the cooler and warmer combinations of fabrics! Although the pattern calls for the outer and lining fabrics to be of similar weight and stretch, I had no issue working with a stretchy single jersey and a stable quilted heavy weight jersey. If you are a beginner though, I think 2 layers of French Terry would be a great place to start.

         

        If you are in the market for a pair of non-reversible dungarees, don’t worry. I’m getting to it. But before I tell you about those options, let me point out that you can quite easily adapt this pattern to only partly line it. See my post here.

         

        Now, some other options. And they are free! Yep, you read that right!

         

        Best slim fit pattern

         

        My recommendation goes to the Romperalls by Peek-a-boo patterns. I have used this pattern in the past to make a gift to a toddling little lady who is quite petite and slim built, and it worked a treat! This pattern would’ve been too tight for Freya right now, though :) 

         

        You are even allowed sell items made from this pattern. How generous is that for a freebie?

         

        Best grow with me option

         

        Not satisfied with just the one free pattern? Fear not, I dug deep and found another! Here is one that is designed for Bernina by the Simple Life Pattern Company, and it comes with tie shoulders and foldover cuffs. The link takes you to some super cute photos and some pattern hacks, and here is a direct link to the free pattern.  I must disclose that although I have printed this one off, I have not yet tried it, and did read somewhere that the sizing might run a little bit small. You might want to do your own research before cutting out.

         

        Want to add a snap crotch?

         

        Let me say that I’ve never missed the snap closure on any of the dungarees that I’ve made. It’s so easy to whip them on and off, frankly, I’m glad to not have to mess about with pliers. However, I fully understand that some do miss them, especially for a younger baby, so I wanted to include a link to a tutorial that might help you. Here it is! You are welcome. 

         

        Right, that’s it. I trust that you are now off to sew some dungarees! How about some seasonal ones as Christmas presents? 


        Thanks for reading. Until next time,

         

        Alice from Queen of Darts 

         

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        Tulip Tutorial and free pattern

        Tulip Tutorial and free pattern

        It's still so wintery outside but I'm longing for some spring sewing. These beautiful tulips are just what I need. Very simple and quick project - instant joy!

        Here is what you need to make your bouquet:

        - Single Jersey or woven cotton - jersey is great as it will make your tulip bud more plump but you can also use cotton.

        - Straw  - I used paper one which is more strudy than plastic and eco-friendly :)

        - Wooden skewer to help turn fabric around (optional)

        - Stuffing

        - Matching thread

        - Hand sewing needle

        - Erasable Pen

        - Pinking Shears (optional)

        - Pattern - get free pattern here


        Here is how to do it:

         For leaf and tulip bud put 2 layers of fabric right side together and with erasable pen draw around your pattern on fabric. 

         Sew on the line leaving the straight edge unsewn. Cut around with pinking shears being careful not to cut the stitch.

        Cut around with pinking shears being careful not to cut the stitch.

        Turn the leaf and tulip bud right side out.

        Turn the raw edges of the leaf inside about 1/4" and topstitch close to the edge. Fold the leaf in a half and with erasable pen draw the line 2" long and 1/2" from the fold of the leaf. That will create a channel for the stem.

        For stem pattern cut out your fabric using pattern first.

         Fold the stem piece in a half lenghtwise right side together. Sew one short and long edge creating a closed tube. Trim the corner close to stitch but be careful not to cut through the stitch.

        Turn the tube right side out using the straw and the wooden skewer - first insert the straw up to the end and then using the skewer push the end inside the straw - super easy! Once you have it right side out push the straw inside. Push the stem inside the channel you made in the leaf.

        6) Stuff the tulip. First fold the raw edges to the inside and run a gathering handstitch around the bottom. Pull the thread to gather and fit the stem inside. Pin the bud to the stem and handstitch to secure.

        Hope you enjoy making the tulips as much as I did!

        Thanks for reading!

        Dorota

        Flamingo Fabrics

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        Dorota Potorska
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        Various types of fabrics and how to buy them online

        Various types of fabrics and how to buy them online

        It is not easy to buy fabrics without being able to touch it, feel the softness, drape and weight. It’s tricky to figure out if the gorgeous print you see on your computer screen is just the thing to make your favourite dress. Here is a quick guide to make it all a bit easier!

        Before you buy fabric it’s essential you read the description – obvious? Well, you will be surprised to know how many people don’t! It can save you a lot of hassle if you find out all the essential info before you buy.

        In this guide, I will explain what information to look for and what it means in terms of using the fabric plus some other very useful stuff. Let’s get started!

         

        Woven or Knit?

        The way the fabric is made is the most important information. There are two main categories:

        WOVEN 

        This types of fabrics are made by interlacing the threads, like a criss-cross. This type of fabrics are most likely non stretchy unless they contain elastic fibres like Lycra.

        There are 3 main types of weave and each has its own unique characteristics:

         

         Plain weave is most common – if you think ‘’cotton’’ you probably think of a plain weave fabric made of cotton fibres.

         

         

         Satin weave – is less known but definitely more luxurious type. It features more complex arrangement of threads which make is softer, more floaty fabric with delicate shine.

         

         Twill weave – if you have never heard of twill before have a look at your jeans – it’s the most common example of the twill weave fabric. You can easily recognise twill weave by diagonal thread pattern on the surface. Twill fabrics are usually more densely woven and a bit heavier hence is most commonly used for trousers, jackets and home décor projects. Here is a twill weave:

         

        Image Source: www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/design/...

        KNIT

        Knit fabrics are made by continuous yarns looped repeatedly to create tiny rows of braids. If you ever tried knitting you will know all about it, if not I’m sure you’ve seen a knitted hat before. The knit fabrics are made in similar way but the yarns are often looped more tightly creating smoother surface.

        The main characteristic of knitted fabric is that it stretches. It’s also softer than woven fabrics hence more suitable for garments like tops, leggings dresses and anything else you can wear.

        There is so many types of knit fabrics it’s really easy to get confused. Here is a few main, most common types:

        Jersey – This name is most commonly associated with knitted fabrics and often used interchangeably or as a part name for various types of knitted fabrics (like French terry jersey, interlock jersey, sweatshirt jersey)

        Most common type is a single jersey made with single row of braids. It’s often quite thin and when cut curls to the wrong side.

        Here is an example:

         

         

        Interlock – is made with double layer of yarn braids which makes is thicker and easier to sew. It looks the same on the right and wrong side.

        Ribbed Knit - commonly called ribbing is easy to recognise as it has distinguishable lines (‘ribs’). It’s very stretchy and perfect for cuffs, necklines and waistbands. It usually stretches in only two ways ( as opposite to 4 ways) so be careful to cut it along the stretch way.

        Very often ribbed knits are narrower than other fabrics – our ribbings are about 80-96cm wide - and also don’t have salvage (raw edge) as they’re tubular knits

        It’s also great as a main fabric for super stretchy vests, underwear and more. Here is how the ribbed knit looks like:

         

        French Terry:

        French terry is a medium weight type of knit with distinguishable loops (loose braids) on the wrong side and smooth right side. It makes this fabrics thicker and warmer than single jersey or interlock but often less stretchy. It’s often mistaken for terrycloth (towelling) but its nothing like it!

        As it’s a bit thicker it’s very easy to sew but still soft and drapey. It’s one of my favourite fabrics as it’s super comfy and perfect for casual garments like tops, tunics, loungewear and hoodies. It’s also very versatile and can be used for cushions, blankets and even bags! Here is it’s loopy side:

         

        Terry cloth – sometimes called terry towelling or simply towelling is just the fabric towels are made of. It’s often woven (I bet the towels in your bathroom don’t stretch) but can also be knitted having a good stretch. Thanks to the loops of threads it absorbs water very well. It’s perfect for projects like bibs, hooded kids towels, head towel wraps and even dog coats. Here is an example:

        Sweatshirt - Usually thick and heavy jersey with brushed, fleece backing. It’s perfect for colder weather. Is doesn’t stretch very much and is more suited to casual loose fitting garments like hoodies, trousers, blankets and more.

        Stretch 

        When shopping for knitted fabrics it’s good to know how much they stretch as it will determined what types of garments can be made of them. It’s usually very much connected to the composition and the weight I’m going to take about below.

        Stretch is usually indicated as a percentage. For example single jersey made with 100% cotton has a stretch of about 20% which means that 10cm of fabric will stretch to 12cm. This is not much so this type of fabrics are best suited to loose fitting garments.

        Single jersey containing elastane can stretch much more around 70-80%, more or less depending on how much elastane is inside.

        The swimwear fabrics can stretch up to 600%

        Weight

        If you can’t check the thickness of the fabric you should pay attention to the information on its weight. It usually appears as gsm or g/m2 and it stands for grams per square metre. For beginners it’s quite difficult to imagine what fabric with 160g/m2 feels like so when you buy any fabric check its weight so with time you can gain more experience is assessing its feel based only on the gsm.

        Generally the lower gsm the thinner the fabric. For example thin single jersey can be about 160-180g/m2 and French terry is about 240-260g/m2. Cotton poplin (dressmaking cotton) is about 110-120g/m2, quilting cotton 130-150g/m2 and heavyweight cotton (canvas or home décor cotton) can be up to 400g/m2.

        Compostion

        The composition tells you what fibres are the fabrics made of. There is so many types of fibres but I’m going to mention just a few. We can divide them into two main categories: natural fibres and man-made fibres.

        Natural fibres like cotton, bamboo, linen, silk, wool have they own unique properites but here is few things they have in common:

        • Very little elasticity – no stretch
        • Kind to skin, hypoallergenic
        • Good water absorbency
        • Shrink in washing
        • Creases easily
        • Bio-degradable
        • Breathable and soft

        Man-made fibres are polyester, nylon or elastane

        Polyester is a most common fibre you definitely come across. Have a look at the label of the clothes your wearing and I’m sure you will notice some polyester content.

        Polyester is quite smooth and nice to touch. It’s also very durable and keeps shape very well and isn’t prone to creasing like natural fibres. It’s also easy to wash and doesn’t shrink like cotton.

        Elastane is a stretchy fibre also known as Spandex in USA or Lycra (that’s a brand name of elastane manufactured by DuPont).

        It’s quite lightweight and retains it’s shape so after a stretch it comes back to its shape.

        It appears in fabrics as an addition to other fibres like cotton or polyester.

        There are couple more fibres worth noticing- rayon and modal (type of rayon) with are semi-synthetic. These are made with cellulose pulp (trees). These are very soft and breathable fibres perfect for summer garments.

        These 3 main characteristic – composition, weight and weave or knit can come in any combination creating a huge array of various fabrics. To make it a bit easier some fabrics of specific characteristics have commonly used names. Here is a few examples:

        Single Jersey - usually lightweight, cotton based fabrics

        Poplin- lightweight, plain woven cotton, polyester or blend

        Denim – heavy weight cotton based fabric of twill weave

        Chiffon – very lightweight polyester based vowen fabric

        Scuba – heavyweight polyester stretch fabric

        Lycra – as well as a brand name it's also  common name for very stretchy knit polyester based fabric with around 15-18% lycra content.

        Velour – stretchy heavyweight polyester based fabric with nap or pile – (fabric hair lol)

        Other useful info:

        Colours - It's really important to know the colours you see on screen may be different to the real colour of the fabric. This is due to different computers or mobiles showing colours in different ways. Some colours are also very difficult to catch on the photo so if the shade is very important, for example to match with other fabric, always ask for a sample.

        Unit of Sale - A lot of customers are used to buying fabrics by the yard or metre but as a sewing world grew and evolved more and more people are needing smaller pieces for their entire sewing projects. For that reason many online shops are now selling in half metre or Fat Quarter increments. Before you buy make sure you find that information. Some sellers put it in description of the fabrics, some in the general INFO section or FAQ ( Frequently Asked Questions).

        **Fat Qarter - it's half a metre of fabric cut in half so for example if the fabric full width is 160cm the fat quarter will measure 50x80cm (21" x 31.5"); 1"=2.5cm; Yard = 0.91m **

        Delivery

        Shopping online gives you a better choice but unlike buying in store it comes with extra cost and extra wait. The cost of postage varies but think of it as paying for a service of having your order delivered to your door. It's good to know what to expect so always check how your fabric will be posted. Is it via courier or Royal Mail? How quickly can you expect your order to be dispatched? When can you expect it to be delivered?

        Returns - Know your rights

        As with every purchase online you have a right to change your mind within 14 days of receiving your purchase. This is called your ''statutory right'' ( you can read more about it here). That applies also to fabrics that were cut to order! It's good to get in touch with the merchant first to inform that you'd like to return the order and confirm the return address. Sending your return tracked or signed for mail is also a good idea as it will give you a peace of mind.

        This is in no way an extensive guide but I hope you find it useful and it makes choosing the fabrics online just a bit easier!

        Thanks for reading!

        Dorota

        Flamingo Fabrics

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        Dorota Potorska
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