Archive for the ‘learning to sew’ category

Knit top sewalongs

September 21, 2013

(Hey, not sure I would have chosen this topic if I’d realised it was going to be my 200th post ! Amazing what starting a blog can turn into 😀 Thanks for all your interest over the years.)

Knit tops are so popular as a quick make, I thought there would be many sewalongs. There are several ‘let’s have fun together’ sewalongs, but not so many with detailed instructions for a specific pattern (at least, not ones that are easy to find !).

The skirt sewalongs in my previous posts included all sorts of pattern-sewalong combinations.
These knit sewalongs all come from the designer of the pattern.

Many of these assume you’re working with a conventional sewing machine rather than a serger/ overlocker. I’ve noted what’s used in some sewalongs, but I haven’t seen all of them so don’t know about the others !
Some are video and some written materials.

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Written instructions with photos
(most of these are free)

Child’s cut-on sleeve top from KitschyCoo


download pattern

scroll to bottom of page to get first post
Uses a serger/ overlocker.
Many ideas for variants – apply them to adult’s patterns too !

Fishsticks’s Designs Charlie Tee

A sew-along for a simple tee with separate sleeves.
The instructions show a children’s version, but of course the same instructions apply to the adult sizes !


Pattern for adult sizing, tissue or download

Intro to the sew-along
For later steps click the link at the bottom of each post.
Sewing machine, includes sewing a twin-needle hem.

Renfrew top from Sewaholic patterns


Top with variants of sleeve length, neckline shape, cowl neck
The Number 1 best pattern for 2012 at Pattern Review.

tissue pattern

Sewalong intro
List of links
Final step
sewing machine

The Sewing Workshop Trio pattern Tee – raglan


tissue pattern (includes woven sleeveless jacket and pants)

Sewalong for tee only, sewing machine (not free, 62 pages)

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Video, on-line, free

Ttutorial from Hot Patterns on making a basic v-neck tee.

Video demos, on-line or on DVD
(not free)

Basic Tee from Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated patterns


Craftsy on-line video class – Sewing with knits
download pattern included
sewing machine

Fleece Hoodie from Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated patterns


Craftsy on-line video class – Sewing with Knits
download pattern included
sewing machine

(See above for basic tee in the same class. Class also has patterns and instructions for knit skirt, pants, dress)

Pamela’s Patterns 104 the Perfect T-shirt DVD


tissue pattern

sewalong in ‘The Perfect T-shirt‘ DVD

Vogue 8793 from Katherine Tilton


tissue pattern – class price includes pattern
complex collar with zipper trim

Craftsy on-line video class – The Ultimate T-shirt – from Marcy and Katherine Tilton
includes fitting, and making variations

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P.S. useful links not related to a specific pattern :

Sewaholic’s big list of tips for sewing knits is itself a collection of useful links
Noodlehead’s self-made pattern for racer-back tank with detailed sewing instructions
Crafts class by Linda Lee on Sewing Fashion Knits.

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Of course there are many other good sources of useful tips on sewing knits. Though you’re expected to pick out for yourself the information you need. My focus here is on thorough guidance from project-based instructions, which give more help than there is in specific pattern instructions. “If you follow these steps one-by-one you’ll make this. . .”

Again I haven’t read or used all these instructions, so no guarantee of quality !
But I hope you find something useful and helpful 😀

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Patterns and links available September 2013

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Sewing skills lists

September 7, 2013

Are you the sort of person who likes to tick your skills off on a list as you learn ? or have some sort of structure to guide your learning ?

I don’t like exotic vacations away from home, but I do like to spend August as a stay-cation – sew-cation.
I usually take some sort of on-line sewing class.
And that makes me think about my sewing skills.

Three groups of items here :
Some .pdf lists of skills which I’ve produced.
These are project based.

Some .pdf lists about sewing education from 4-H.
There are several other 4-H sewing booklets which aren’t free.

And, for people who like to learn by working through a suggested sequence of projects, there are the increasingly difficult projects required in a couple of recent knock-out sewing contests.

My own lists

Beginner skills list.pdf

Intermediate skills – based on the book Dressmaking by Alison Smith
31 projects.A4.pdf
31 projects.USletter.pdf

Taking it further, I haven’t produced my own list of jacket sewing skills, but there are comments on them in my post on Sources of jacket sewing advice. Jackets can be made at a huge range of levels of difficulty. All the way from advanced beginner ones which use the same skills as sewing a simple blouse. Through to advanced couture and tailoring skills such as underlining, pad stitching, roll line taping, sleeve head supports, welt pockets. . .

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4-H lists

Different states use different systems.
Here are some .pdfs that are free and I’ve found worth a look.

Penn State
Sewing skills progress chart
(not sorted by level)

Washington State
Sewing skills checklist
(3 levels)

Sew much fun
(3 general levels, 12 detailed levels)

Oregon State
Sewing advancement guide
(3 general levels, 9 detailed levels – general clothing skills, refers to Sewing skills checklist for sewing details)

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Knock-out sewing contests

How about using extended sewing contests as guides to a project sequence to work through ?

Super Online Sewing Match

This on-line sewing contest used patterns going up to intermediate skills. Contestants had one or two weeks to do their sewing, in their own sewing space.
The entries show how much can be achieved from a simple starting point. The basic patterns may be intermediate, but the workmanship and richness of ideas in the entries were at a very high level.


Round One – a-line skirt
Deborah Moebes’ Design and sew an a-line skirt Craftsy class

Round 2 – child’s dress
Oliver + S Roller Skate dress

Round 3 – bag
Cinch bag download pattern from U-handbag

Round 4 – men’s shirt
Colette Patterns Negroni men’s shirt

Round 5 – final – adult dress
Sewaholic Patterns Cambie fully lined dress with bustier style bodice

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Great British Sewing Bee TV series

The Great British Sewing Bee TV series was a more advanced challenge, as it worked up to making jackets and using special occasion fabrics, plus fitting someone they hadn’t met before.

Sewing quickly in an unfamiliar environment – not something I would do well at all 😀
Though the building they sewed in looked delicious, a historic building bursting with fabrics and haberdashery, a sewer’s paradise.
Contestants could take their own tools, but had to use the sewing machines provided.

In the 2013 series there were 3 challenges each weekend, each with only a few hours allowed.
First day :
1. Make up a commercial pattern supplied.
2. Decorate a ready-made item.
Second day :
3. Choose fabric and pattern for a specific type of garment (contestants were given the brief a few days beforehand). Make up to fit a real person, who modelled it for the judging.
There was also a simple suggested home-dec project for viewers (not at all well explained !).

The episodes used to be available on YouTube, but sadly they’ve been deleted for copyright reasons. . . yet the makers haven’t issued a DVD – pooh !

Jan 2014 – the show has appeared on YouTube again – don’t know how long it will last !

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Round One

1. A-line skirt
2. alter neckline of RTW top
3. made-to-measure day dress
Project – drawstring laundry bag

Comments from sewing organiser
Other information

Round Two
1. men’s trousers
2. add patch pockets to RTW skirt
3. made-to-measure silk blouse/ shirt
Project – tied closure cushion/ pillow cover

Comments from sewing organiser
Other information

Round Three – semi-final
1. child’s sun-dress with shirring, french seams, rouleaux straps
2. change shape and embellish RTW shift dress
3. made-to-measure fitted jacket with lining
Project – simple curtains

Comments from sewing organiser
Other information

Round Four – final
1. men’s shirt
2. embellish ready-made fabric evening purse
3. made-to-measure special occasion wear (all contestants chose to use 2 difficult fabrics !)

Comments from sewing organiser
Other information

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Do you like to develop your sewing skills ?
or do you like to use familiar sewing processes, and put your creativity into choosing what to make and how to embellish it ?
or just burble along for complete relaxation 😀

I hope you had a lovely summer vacation, whatever your vacation style 😀

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Links and patterns available September 2013

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Skirt sew-alongs – videos

August 3, 2013

The second section of my list of sew-alongs for skirts.
Sewalongs for people who like to watch rather than read what to do.
Videos are on-line or on DVD.

The first post in this group was about free on-line written skirt sewalongs with photos.

If you prefer to learn by watching video demos, they’re not free. Sad, but producing these videos and DVDs does take a considerable investment in time and effort, so it’s understandable.
And the videos often include much more complete guidance than the written ones.

Most of these guides aren’t pattern specific, so I’ve just given example pictures.

And as before – I haven’t seen most of these, so no guarantee of quality. . .

(Also at the end, some links to lists of free download skirt patterns.)

Elastic waist skirts for beginners

e-SewingWorkshop on-line


sewalong for dirndl skirt.
Free videos on their site about using a sewing machine.

Beginner Basics on-line class by Deepika at Pattern Review


tissue pattern Simplicity 2258.

You Can Make It DVD
pattern : any basic skirt with elastic waist
sewalong Level 1
YouTube sample excerpts
You need to be able to able to use a sewing machine, but otherwise for complete beginners.

Pencil skirts
usually darts, zip, waistband, may be hem vent, lining.

Most of these make a basic pencil skirt using any pattern, such as McCall’s 3830 classic tissue pattern.


Craftsy Sewing Studio class by Diana Rupp on-line,
includes making a fitting muslin, and adding a lining.
Use any pattern,
or the tissue pattern in her book Sew Everything Workshop.
sew along (includes beginner’s cushion cover)

eSewingWorkshop on-line
Use any pattern,
or follow their instructions for drafting your own pencil skirt with simple style variations. (These instructions draft a skirt to your standing hip measurement without added ease, skin tight. Do draft to at least your sitting hip measurement, so you’re able to move !)

Sewing Guru on-line
Pencil skirt with waistband, CB zip, hemline slit
such as tissue pattern Butterick 5391.
first 4 videos of Collection 2 on skirt pattern, and Collection 6 on sewing the skirt

You Can Make It DVD
Use any pattern for skirt with waistband, darts, zip, hem slit, also pleats.
sewalong Level 2 (scroll down)
YouTube sample excerpts.
YCMI DVDs are cumulative not stand-alone. Level 2 assumes you know the skills taught at Level 1 (elastic waist skirt).


Craftsy class Design and make an a-line skirt, on-line class by Deborah Moebes.

Pamela’s favorite bias skirt DVD
no central seam


tissue pattern

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P. S. Here’s a free video for sewing an a-line skirt with box pleat, zip, waistband. it’s the free Wear Everywhere skirt from So Sew Easy.

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The written sewalongs for skirts (see my previous post) include a much wider range of style elements. Such as gathers, shirring, pockets, various waist treatments including shaped waistbands, faced waists, contour waists, and yokes.

Goodness, there are so many skirt sew-along choices it’s a bit overwhelming.
It would be easy to settle down to several years of guided skirt sewing 😀

There are also huge numbers of free skirt patterns on the web.
Many of them have primitive instructions, but once you have a few sewing skills there’s an enormous choice.
Here are some lists of links :
Burda Style
Modern Sewing Patterns (the styles don’t all have patterns)
So Sew Easy

So, first learn from the sewalongs, then you’ll be able to tackle those patterns. How to choose where to start ?

What is your favourite support for guidance – reading or watching ?
I confess I like both – video for being sure what is involved, written so I haven’t got to remember everything and can take it at my own pace.

What is the right level of difficulty for you ? How many unfamiliar processes does each pattern include ? How many new processes are you happy to take on in one project ?
I’m a slowly-but-surely learner, not one for jumping in to a challenge.

Which style elements are most flattering to your waist-hip area ?
Sadly, with my high hip pads and protruding stomach, only the smoothest pocket-free fit over the hips is a good idea on me. And I need to take care with where the waist sits – only a little below the waist is best.

Can you alter the skirt length, for the most flattery to your length proportions ? your legs ?
I’m short waisted, and high waists just look ridiculous.
Knobbly knees are a family feature. And my ankles are not what they were. So it’s longer skirts for me.

Imagine yourself wearing a style, or try on something similar in a store.
Would you love to wear something like this ?
I continue with my choice of a near-maxi 6-gore skirt. With darts, zip, narrow waistband, lining. Pencil skirt instructions include the sewing processes I need.

Best Wishes for celebrating a beautiful finished skirt 😀

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Patterns and links available August 2013

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Skirt Sewalongs – written

July 20, 2013

Thinking of sewing a skirt as an ‘advanced beginner’ project ?
Or looking for help with constructing your own 6-gore skirt pattern ?

Good sewalongs are a wonderful source of confidence and useful information.
Of course it can be extra fun if you sew along at the time of issue, but they remain a useful source of information later.

There’s a big selection for skirts – so many I doubt I’ve found them all.
I’ve tried to group them according to style elements and difficulty.

These are sewalongs with detailed step by step instructions which supplement the pattern.
I haven’t included sewalongs which are mainly encouraging chat. There are many of those at Pattern Review and Sawyer-Brook.

And this got so long I’ve divided it in parts.
Some people like written tutorials with photos. Those are free.
Some people like video demos. Those are pay-for.
Some people are strongly one way or the other. Personally I like both, video to be sure what to do, written so I haven’t got to remember.

This post lists free on-line written tutorials with photos.
Here’s a post with links to skirt sewalongs with video demos (not free).

I haven’t read through, let alone worked through, all of these. So no guarantee of quality, ease of understanding, completeness. . .

Photos are not all equal. I have a commercial pattern with the garment sewn in heavily patterned fabric that looks the same on front and back sides, with stitching in closely matched thread. Impossible to see anything at all. I don’t think any of these sewalongs fall in that trap.

All include zips unless otherwise mentioned.

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Beginner wrap skirt with waistband and ties

Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt
wrap skirt with waistband and ties, no zip or buttonholes
download pattern and sewalong

Or here’s a ‘draft it yourself’ sew along for a wrap skirt from Sew Mama Sew.
A bit difficult for most complete beginners.

No bought pattern needed, and no zips, but these are not easy techniques for complete beginners.

Tilly and the Buttons skirt gathered to waistband, with front button opening, pockets

Tilly and the Buttons skirt with shirred waist

Draft your own pattern for contoured waistband and skirt gathered by shirring
sewalong from Sew Mama Sew

Pencil, a-line, gored skirts

Similar instructions apply to many other styles which just vary in number of seams and shape of pattern pieces, such as gored, flared, tulip, trumpet shapes.

Basic pencil skirt using any pattern,
such as McCalll’s 3830 classic tissue pattern.
sewalong from Tuppence Ha’penny

Burda Syle Jenny skirt with wide waistband
download pattern
sewalong from A Fashionable Stitch

Colette Patterns Ginger skirt, a-line with shaped waistband
tissue pattern
sewalong from A Fashionable Stitch

Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt, 4-gores and pockets
tissue pattern
sewalong from My Messings

Contour waistband or yoke with fullness below

Simplicity 2226
tissue pattern
links to all the sewalong steps at the top of this post from Noodlehead

Sewaholic Crescent skirt
tissue pattern
for sewalong scroll to 2/3 down this page from Sewaholic

Burda 7342 flared bias skirt with lined yoke
tissue pattern
supplement to instructions, from Fashion Sewing Blog


BurdaStyle Marie skirt
download pattern
scroll to 2/3 down the page for links to the sewalong steps from Stitch in my Side

Butterick 5756
tissue pattern
supplement to instructions, from Fashion Sewing Blog

Simplicity 2117
tissue pattern
supplement to instructions, from Fashion Sewing Blog


Jennifer Stern Ribbon bias skirt with central seam.
The image isn’t clear, so here’s the Collete Ginger skirt in a bias version.
Jennifer Stern’s tissue pattern and tutorial (half way down), with advice about sewing on the bias.

Draft your own pattern for a circle skirt
pattern drafting and sew along from Elegant Musings

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With many thanks to all the people who have done all the work of preparing these sewalongs.

A few comments on how to choose between the possibilities in my second post, on video demos.

Do you like this sort of extra sewing guidance 😀

I hope you’re pleased with what you make.
If not – what did you learn from the process, about sewing and about your preferences 😀

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Patterns and links available July 2013

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