Tag: sewing

Meet Mimi Goodwin, Successful Sewing Entrepreneur

Meet Mimi Goodwin, Successful Sewing Entrepreneur


Download this episode here!

Recently I had an opportunity to chat with Mimi Goodwin of Mimi G Style. She is an inspiration to so many women, listen to her amazing success story!

Intro: I met Mimi at a business Conference a few years ago. Love her unique sense of style! I’ve been following her ever since. Mimi is a huge influencer in the sewing, fashion and lifestyle niche. She is very accomplished with her tutorials, online courses, and her partnership with Simplicity patterns. I had asked her a bit about how she works with Simplicity and we will learn more about that in today’s episode among other topics. Mimi has been through a lot in her life, she’s been on her own since she was 15 years old. She’s got an amazing story to share, from being a victim of abuse, becoming homeless, and struggling as a single mom. Her great sense of style and business savvy has made her the successful entrepreneur she is today.

I am incredibly excited to have her with me on the podcast!

Mimi’s bio: Award winning trending Expert Mimi G. is Editor-in-chief of the outrageously popular Fashion, Lifestyle, and DIY blog, MimiGStyle.com, as well as the Mimi G Style YouTube Channel, which houses tutorials, fashion and beauty tips, health and fitness videos, product reviews and more.

Her axiom, “Buy It, Make It, Mix It, Rock It!”, is the mantra for her fully engaged daily followers, as well as industry professionals. Garnering thousands of “new followers” by the day, Mimi G has quickly become an International fashion icon, influencer, role model, and an “in demand” speaker and panel member at blogging conferences across the country. Mimi G has also developed her own line of products ranging from ready to wear collections to commercial sewing patterns. She was recently featured on Project Runway Junior alongside Tim Gunn on Lifetime TV, has won numerous awards including Best Shopping Inspiration by InStyle Magazine and Best Latina Blogger.

Mimi G is a contributing designer to Simplicity Patterns and has a number of online sewing courses. Her YouTube Channel,  blog, Instagram and FB are followed by thousands of people. Mimi also has her own style conference. Mimi is a wife and mom who loves to sew and create for real life curvy women.

  1. How did you first learn to sew?
  2. What motivated you to start your blog?
  3. What do you think was the most instrumental thing that you did to grow your blog/sewing business?
  4. How did you become a Simplicity Pattern designer?
  5. Tell me about your new adventure with Sew It Academy and the Kids Sewing Classes that you offer.
  6. I noticed that you have also started a ready to wear division. Tell us about how that began and what your future plans are.
  7. What is your favorite sewing pattern(s) you have designed?
  8. What do you do when you are not sewing?

 

Where is the best place for people to connect with you online?

Find Mimi on Twitter

Find Mimi on FB

Find Mimi on Pinterest

Find Mimi on Instagram

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Basic Sewing Terminology, What You Need to Know to Start

Basic Sewing Terminology, What You Need to Know to Start


Download this episode here!

In today’s episode we will talk about some basic sewing terms that you need to know to embark on your first sewing project.

Basic Sewing Terminology

  1. Straight stitch, single needle 2.5 or 3.0

  2. Zig zag stitch: Side to side stitch, different widths small for buttonholes, wide for overcast and uses (elastic, decorative, finishing edges)

  3. Interfacing, what is it for? Cuffs, collars, waistbands, pockets, button placket. Fusible or non fusible. There are uses and different weights, bumpy side is glue. Use warm dry iron to a shear to wrong side of fabric.

  4. Rotary cutters and plastic matt used in quilting for cutting narrow fabric strips and squaring quilt blocks.

  5. Back tacking, reverse stitching. 1-2 stitches at the beginning and end of seams will secure the seam.

  6. Basting, long straight stitch length 4.5-5.0. Used for securing zippers, gathering fabric, easing sleeve caps into place.

  7. Bobbin, winding on each machine should be marked. Be sure it’s smoothly filled to avoid problems.

  8. Tension on machine, how to adjust look at top stitches, compare to bottom stitches. Some machines adjust automatically.

  9. Needle threader on some machines. Best to trim thread, insert front to back on most machines.

  10. Flywheel, move by turning toward you to insert needle into fabric at a specific place.

  11. Always begin sewing with the needle in the fabric. Check the stitches, make adjustments. If it’s loose on the back, tighten the tension. If it’s loose on the top and tight on the back, loosen the tension.

  12. Tailor’s Chalk, marking pens

  13. Types of pins and needles

  14. Bias cut, used for close fitting garments, usually woven fabrics

  15. Selvedges are across from the fold of the fabric, must be removed before sewing.

  16. Grain is the direction of the fabric, noted on the pattern pieces. Pattern pieces must line up with fold of fabric, measure for consistent distance.

  17. One way print, pattern is printed one direction. More yardage is needed to cut one way prints.

  18. Two way prints, print runs either direction.

  19. Nap cut edges of velvet or corduroy. Nap is directional and patterns must be cut one way only.

Sewing Terminology|Style Blues Podcast|chambrayblues.com

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The History of Sewing, How We Got Where We are Today

The History of Sewing, How We Got Where We are Today


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In this episode of the Style Blues Podcast, I talk a bit about the history of sewing, the beginning of the big pattern companies and how we got to where we are today. It wasn’t that long ago that everyone sewed. Over the last 30 years things have changed, here’s what happened.

Show Notes:

The History of Sewing

Let’s learn a bit about the history of sewing, how did we get where we are today?

Abbreviated History of Sewing as per Wikipedia:

 

  • The Industrial Revolution shifted the production of textiles from the household to the mills. In the early decades of the Industrial Revolution, the machinery produced whole cloth. The world’s first sewing machine was patented in 1790 by Thomas Saint. By the early 1840s, other early sewing machines began to appear.
  • By the 1850s, Isaac Singer developed the first sewing machines that could operate quickly and accurately and surpass the productivity of a seamstress or tailor sewing by hand.While much clothing was still produced at home by female members of the family, more and more ready-made clothes for the middle classes were being produced with sewing machines. Textile sweatshops full of poorly paid sewing machine operators grew into entire business districts in large cities like London and New York City. To further support the industry, piece work was done for little money by women living in slums. Needlework was one of the few occupations considered acceptable for women, but it did not pay a living wage. Women doing piece work from home often worked 14-hour days to earn enough to support themselves, sometimes by renting sewing machines that they could not afford to buy.
  • Fine quality Tailors became associated with higher-end clothing during this period. In London, this status grew out of the dandy trend of the early 19th century, when new tailor shops were established around Savile Row. These shops acquired a reputation for sewing high-quality handmade clothing tailored to one’s particular fit needs.
  • Sewing underwent further developments during the 20th century. As sewing machines became more affordable to the working class, demand for sewing patterns grew. Women had become accustomed to seeing the latest fashions in periodicals during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, increasing demand for sewing patterns even more. American tailor and manufacturer Ebenezer Butterick met the demand with paper patterns that could be traced and used by home sewers. The patterns, sold in small packets, became wildly popular. Several pattern companies soon established themselves. Women’s magazines also carried sewing patterns, and continued to do so for much of the 20th century. This practice declined during the later decades of the 20th century, when ready-made clothing became a necessity as women joined the paid workforce in larger numbers, leaving them with less time to sew, if indeed they had an interest.

One of my friends who is a bit older than I am was telling me that when she was in high school everyone made their own clothes. This was probably in the 1960’s. When I was in middle school in the 1970’s, I was the only kid who made her own clothes. Many of us learned to sew from our mothers but many of us have not had the opportunity to learn from anyone. You can learn to sew and I can help you succeed!

Growing up, I️ always wondered how home sewing was so different from commercial sewing. You would think they are the same but they aren’t. Mass produced garments are sewn by the thousand and use piece work technology to put them together. Garments are completely sewn in minutes, not hours. Commercial sewing patterns have been the same since the 1950s when clothing was produced on a much smaller scale, but the home sewing industry largely hasn’t changed since then. Today we have downloadable pdf patterns and many independent designers that are changing the home sewing industry.

Sew Along with Me!

Sew Along Masterclass 2018, going on now on the Chambray Blues Facebook page.

12 projects using easy commercial patterns, one each month

Video Tutorials, FB live sessions, plus question and answer

Closed group, only open for a limited time

Access to professional designer

Help choosing fabrics, notions, cutting, altering and sewing

Join the fun!

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Sweet Mom and Me Apron Pattern Review

Sweet Mom and Me Apron Pattern Review

Every little girl wants matching Mom and me outfits. Some of us wait a long time to get them! This easy apron is a great project for a beginner sewer, make one for you and your child in a single day!

Mom and Me Aprons

I love aprons. I have at least 6 of them that I use all the time for cooking, crafting, or cleaning. Some of them have pockets, some don’t. A few of my aprons are for specific holidays or making Sunday dinner. I don’t have many that are prints, and I was smitten with these lovely fabrics from Cross Cut Sewing Company the minute I saw them.

This pattern is very easy, requires only a yard of each fabric and is reverse-able. I love the contrasting bit of fabric at the hem that gives you a hint of what’s on the other side. The pattern, fabric and trims come as a complete kit and are customize-able for children or adults. It’s easy to make a mother child combo, or you can make two adult size aprons as I did. You can choose your fabrics too, and I loved this combination of floral and chambray. Chambray is my favorite thing you know…..

Sweet Mom and Me Apron Pattern Review|ChambrayBluesblog|chambrayblues.com

The Cross Cut Sewing Company pattern directions were easy to follow. I didn’t change any of the construction, but I did add top stitching 1/4″ from the edge of the apron around the perimeter. Also, I applied Fray-Check to seal the raw edges of the twill tape after cutting. The twill tape is used for the neck band and waist ties. You could also melt the edges with a cigarette lighter to seal them, but this method will slightly discolor the edges where the Fray-Check is completely clear.

I also added a stitch in the ditch seam at the hem where the contrasting fabric band begins. To do this, just top stitch over the seam line, it will appear on both sides. This stitching helps keep the layered fabrics together and keeps things from shifting during washing.

 

The great thing about the pattern is the reverse-able nature of it. The apron is fast to cut out by layering the two fabric pieces before you cut with a rotary cutter. Just be sure the edges and folds match so you don’t end up with one piece that’s larger than the other.

The pattern kit came with D-rings for the neck band which were easy to stitch in place on the twill tape.

Sweet Mom and Me Apron Pattern Review|Chambraybluesblog|chambrayblues.com

Mom was more concerned about eating her breakfast before it got cold and putting her lipstick on before the photos. But, she likes her new apron. I caught her with it on while she was doing dishes this morning! Finally, we have a Mom and Me outfit. I always wanted one as a kid! You are never too old for this sort of thing, Mom is 87 and still going strong!

Thanks to Cross Cut Sewing Company for sponsoring this post!

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Sweet Mom and Me Apron Pattern Review|Chambraybluesblog|chambrayblues.com

 

Try some of these other great ideas:

3 Step Easy T-Shirt Pattern Hack

How to Read a Sewing Pattern Envelope

5 Step Easy Headband

How to Restyle a Boring Denim Jacket

What You Should Know About the Cricut Maker

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Why Self Care Makes for Better Sewing

Why Self Care Makes for Better Sewing

We have all been there: feeling, sore, tired, overwhelmed and unfocused. These things can disrupt your mindset and decrease your sewing productivity. Here’s why you should make self care a priority for better sewing.

 

Why Selfcare makes sewing better|Chambraybluesblog|Chambrayblues.com
Taking care of yourself will make you a better sewer!

I sometimes think that as sewers, we are destined to take care of everyone else but ourselves. We spend long hours hunched over a sewing machine or cutting table, laboring away on the things we make out of love for everyone else. So often we end up with sore backs, wrists, dry cut hands and cut bleeding fingers from our efforts. Forgetting to take care of yourself actually disrupts and slows down your sewing production. Here’s how you can remedy your physical issues that keep you from being more productive in your sewing.

 

Why Selfcare makes sewing better|Chambraybluesblog|Chambrayblues.com

Take Time for Self Care

This post is sponsored by Love and Leche. I was compensated in some way for writing this post. Any opinions given are completely my own. See the disclosures page for more information.

Why Selfcare makes sewing better|Chambraybluesblog|Chambrayblues.com

Top Self Care Issues

  1. Cure dry chapped hands. Here in Wisconsin, our long cold winters attribute to dry skin and cracked hands. With all the cutting and sewing I do, I find that my hands are just a mess. Nothing seems to keep my hands from feeling chapped and sore. Sewing just makes the problem worse. Love and Leche sent me their natural lotion bar to try and it’s been a game changer. This bar is incredibly moisturizing, and it doesn’t leave a greasy residue on your hands. I love that it comes in this adorable bag, and has a mini-lotion tin for my handbag. This eco-friendly gift bag is made by Work + Shelter in New Delhi, India. Your purchase of this product (the gift bag) goes to help impoverished women giving them more control and dignity in their lives. It’s a win, win.
  2. Be sure your sewing table is at the correct height. Working on a table that is too low, or too high for long hours will cause back and shoulder pain. Your hands and wrists should be perpendicular to your machine while sewing to relieve stress in your neck, back and shoulders. If your table is not the correct height you are at risk for injury. Look for a lower table or adjust your machine height by setting it into the table top. A handy man can cut a hole in your table to set your machine down in it without too much trouble.
  3. Take frequent breaks while sewing. This may seam obvious, but it’s easy to get so involved in your project that you spend hours and hours without moving or changing position. You should get up and walk around at least every 20-30 minutes to relieve stress and relax your muscles.
  4. Cut out your project on a waist high surface. Many women who sew have lower back pain from leaning over their cutting surface. You will be amazed how much better you feel by raising your table up when you cut. Try using an inexpensive 8 foot plastic dining table raised up on concrete blocks for cutting. You can even put two tables together for a wider cutting surface. Look for inexpensive plastic risers to add to your own table at Walmart or Ikea for this purpose.
  5. Pace Yourself. It’s easy to over commit to your sewing projects. I have 5 cut projects waiting to be sewn as I write this post. As much as I love to sew, no one can sew 24 hours a day. Set a realistic deadline or goal for your sewing. I have a project scheduled on my calendar for each month. If I get it done before the month is over, I start another one. If not, then I have some time to squeeze it in during the next month. Sewing is ment to be an enjoyable hobby, it’s not enjoyable if you are stressed out trying to finish a project and make mistakes because of it. I limit my sewing to 2-3 hours per day. If I try to work longer hours, I end up making unnecessary mistakes in my work. Pace is important!
  6. Treat yourself to a massage. I am a firm believer in massage. Get one once a week or once a month to stay loose and limber for sewing. Massage releases toxins that build up in your muscles over time. The most effective massages are at least 60 minutes long, it takes that long to truly relax and enjoy the massage. It may cost a few dollars, but you will be more productive in your sewing if you feel good. This is particularly helpful if you sew for a living, or have a big stressful project your are working on such as a bridal gown or large quilt. You won’t regret it, I promise.
  7. Drink plenty of water. Headaches are the first sign of dehydration. Be sure to keep a bottle of water next to you as you work on your projects. It’s easy to forget that you need to keep hydrated as you work. Definitely will help you concentrate longer and get more done.

Why Selfcare makes sewing better|Chambraybluesblog|Chambrayblues.com

 

Thanks to Love and Leche for sponsoring this post! If you would like to try their products, they are offering a free mini-lotion for your first purchase as a special offer to my readers. Enter the code Chambrayblues at checkout. Offer is good until May 15, 2018.

You can also register to win a free lotion gift bag here.

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Why Selfcare makes sewing better|Chambraybluesblog|Chambrayblues.com

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The Tale of the Seamstress

The Tale of the Seamstress

The latest episode of my podcast is now available! We will talk a bit about my childhood seamstress, blogging, sewing and how it all got started.

The Tale of the Seamstress|Chambray blues blog|www.chambrayblues.com

I am not very good about sharing personal stories. I love to read other people’s stories, but for some reason it always seems less important that I share my own story. In this episode of the Style Blues podcast, I talk a bit about how I learned to sew and what inspired me to go to design school. Perhaps listening my blog story will inspire someone else!

Show Notes:

Intro

Blogging history and story behind my lifestyle blog Designers Sweet Spot.

Your 10 Biggest Sewing Mistakes

  1. Not pre-washing your fabric first
  2. Not believing in yourself, it’s not rocket science
  3. Buying the wrong size pattern
  4. Not measuring correctly
  5. Not making pattern adjustments
  6. Not placing the grainline correctly
  7. Using the wrong type of fabric for the pattern.
  8. Using a machine that hasn’t been serviced
  9. Using the wrong needle
  10. Using the wrong thread

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5 Step Easy Headband

5 Step Easy Headband

This headband is easy to make with the Cricut Maker! Just 5 steps to a finished project that will take less than 1/2 hour to make!

5 step easy headband|Chambraybluesblog|chambrayblues.com

 

5 Step Easy Headband

It’s super easy to make a headband with the Cricut Maker! This project is already in the Cricut Design space so it doesn’t take long to download it and put it together. I made this headband from some fabric scraps leftover from my last project. You will need about 1/4 yard of cotton fabric for this project, and 6″ of 1/2″ narrow elastic.

 

What you need to know about the Cricut Maker|Chambray Blues Blog|chambrayblues.com
The Cricut Maker cuts fabric, HTV, paper, just about anything!

Directions:

Download the Simplicity Headband pattern to your Cricut Maker.

Apply your fabric to your pink fabric cutting mat. Cut the pieces with your Cricut machine. It’s really easy! Then you are ready to sew!

Sewing Directions:

5 Step easy headband|chambraybluesblog|chambrayblues.com

  1. Stitch along the long edges of the large rectangle with 1/4″ hem. Turn and stitch again over your first row of stitching.
  2. Gather the ends of the rectangle with a basting stitch, pull up threads.
  3. Make the elastic casing. I changed the construction slightly from the Simplicity directions, just fold the small rectangle into thirds with the elastic inside and zig zag stitch over the top. Easy Peasy!
  4. Attach large rectangle ends to ends of elastic piece with a single needle stitch 3.0.
  5. Fold the small square pieces into thirds, secure over the seam where the elastic is attached to the headband with a few more zig zag stitches.

5 step easy headband|Chambraybluesblog|chambrayblues.com

That’s all there is to it! This project is perfect addition for your self care routine. Hold your hair back when you are washing your face, applying makeup, having a facial, etc. You can also wear it to the grocery store on those bad hair days! My Cricut blogger friends have gotten together to post about some other self care ideas that you can make with a Cricut. Click on the link below to see what else you can make to pamper yourself with your Cricut!

Don’t forget to Pin it!

Need more inspiration? Try these other projects:

What You Should Know About the Cricut Maker

3 Step Easy T-Shirt Pattern Hack

001: Interview with Melissa Viscount of Silhouette School Blog

How to Restyle a Boring Denim Jacket

How to Read a Sewing Pattern Envelope

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How to Restyle a Boring Denim Jacket

How to Restyle a Boring Denim Jacket

We all have clothes in our closet we no longer wear, here are some tips on restyling and updating a boring denim jacket!

Re-Style Your Denim jacket, easy sewing project|Chambrayblues|chambrayblues.com
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Re-Style Your Boring Denim Jacket

I have had this denim jacket in my closet for a few years. Most of the time, I rarely wear it. The jacket is too short in the sleeves and body for me, and too small around the middle. I bought this denim jacket on a whim when I was at a blog conference and I needed a jacket while sitting in a cool room listening to the conference speakers. If I had thought about it longer, I wouldn’t have bought it in the first place because it didn’t really fit. Sometimes you do funny things when you are cold!

I didn’t want to give the jacket away since it is practically new, and I decided the best thing to do would be to restyle it so it suits me better. I added wide lace to the sleeves and hem to make the jacket longer so it fits me. Then I was able to add 2″ to the center front by removing the old button placket and adding wide pleated trim. The jacket now fits better around the midriff where I need it. It doesn’t button closed, but that’s okay since I never buttoned it up anyway. Here’s how I made all the adjustments.

Re-Style an Old Boring Denim Jacket|ChambrayBlues|chambrayblues.com
Change up your old jacket for a new look with bits of vintage lace and trims.

Supplies Needed:

• 3 yards of 4″ wide lace

• 2 yards rosebud trim (sold in the lace section at the fabric store)

• 1 spool 1/2″ wide edge lace

• 1/2 yard vintage lace for yoke (I used an old skirt)

• the legs from 1 pair old pair of denim jeans, cut into 2 1/2″ strips

• matching thread, scissors, sewing machine

Re-Style a Boring Denim Jacket|Chambrayblues|Chambrayblues.com
Use vintage lace to cover the front and back yoke.

Yoke Directions:

1. Lay your jacket on a table and pin seams together along the front and back yoke, neck and sleeve. Trace the front yoke shape onto a piece of craft paper. Add seam allowance and cut out. Repeat for the back yoke (this should be on the fold)

2. Place the pattern pieces on top of your vintage lace. I used the bottom hem of an old skirt that had a beige lining. Line up the bottom of the yoke of the pattern with the hem of the skirt or other finished edge of lace. Trace around the seams, adding 1/2″ seam allowance for the shoulder seam. Be sure pieces line up from the front to back shoulder. Cut out the front pattern piece. Repeat for the back yoke, using your first pattern piece as a guide to match the neck and seam edges. Cut the pattern out of your vintage lace.

I kept the existing skirt lining intact with my lace since I liked the light color behind the lace. You could also just let the denim show through the lace if you don’t have a lining.

Re-Style your Boring Denim Jacket|Chambrayblues|Chambrayblues.com

3. Stitch the front and back shoulders of the lace yoke together. Add 1/2″ narrow lace trim to finish armhole edge using a 2.5 zig-zag stitch setting. Fold under lace trim ends and secure.

4. Place the lace yoke on top of the right side of denim yoke. Pin in place. Zig-zag stitch in place with a narrow stitch (2.5) along neck edge, center front, bottom of yoke and armhole. Repeat for back yoke.

Re-Style a Boring Denim Jacket|Chambrayblues|Chambrayblues.com
Use vintage lace to cover the front and back yoke.

Updating the Center Front

1. Cut off front button placket from both sides of the jacket, leaving collar intact. Reserve extra pieces for another project.

2. Make pleated trim for jacket front. Cut off the legs from an old pair of jeans. Cut 6 strips of denim 2 1/2″ wide.

3. Pleat the denim strips by making 1″ folds in the denim with a salad fork as you sew. It’s a bit awkward at first, but you will soon see how easy it is to make even pleats. I love this method and will definitely use it again soon! Don’t worry about the raw edges, the fraying of the denim is part of this vintage charm!

4. Attach the pleated trim down the jacket front from collar to hem with a single needle stitch 3.0 setting. Overlap the pleated trim and center front edge by 1/2″ , pin in place. Top stitch 1″ away from first line of stitching on the right side. Be sure to catch any loose pockets in the seam, my jacket had pockets that were sewn into the original placket and I needed to anchor them in place to keep them from flopping about.

5. Cut a row of lace flowerettes and apply them down the center front on top of the pleated trim. Zig-zag stitch in place. You can use a different lace trim about 1″ wide instead if your lace is an allover pattern and doesn’t have rows.

6. Cut one row of flowers from the flower trim, zig zag stitch on either side of the trim along the center front, on top of the lace and pleats. I preferred my trim slightly off center, covering half of the lace for a unique effect.

Re-Style a Boring Denim Jacket|Chambrayblues|Chambrayblues.com
4″ gathered lace was added to the cuffs and hem of the jacket.

Updating the Jacket Cuffs and Hem

1. Gather the 4″ lace 1/2″ from top edge.

2. Fit lace to cuff edge, trim. Pin in place. Sew a zig-zag (3.0) stitch along edge on the wrong side of the cuff.

3. Add a flowered trim to cuff. Cut the floral trim to the same width and length as the cuff. Pin in place on right side of jacket. I cut the trim 1″ short to leave the button and button hole on the sleeve intact so it was still use-able.

4. Zig-zag stitch flower trim in place on top and bottom of cuff.

That’s it! This hack only cost me about $15.00. I already had the jacket and the lace skirt, so it was just a matter of purchasing the trims. We have lots of old jeans around the house and you can’t even tell that the pleated trim on the front of the jacket doesn’t match the rest of the jacket. It’s fun to mix up your old clothes and make them feel new again! Be sure to share pics in the Chambray Blues Sewing Group on Facebook if you remix your old jacket, we would love to see it!

Re-Style Your Denim jacket, easy sewing project|Chambrayblues|chambrayblues.com
Don’t forget to Pin it!

 

Like this post? Try some of these other posts:

Sew Along 2018, the Year of the Blues!

How to Read a Sewing Pattern Envelope

How to Shorten Pattern Sleeves

How to Measure for Pattern Alterations

What You Should Know About the Cricut Maker

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How to Read a Sewing Pattern Envelope

How to Read a Sewing Pattern Envelope

Learning how to read a sewing pattern envelope is the first step in sewing a garment. Learn these tips for success!

Learn to read a pattern envelope|Chambraybluesblog|Chambrayblues.com
Learning to read the pattern envelope is important for sewing success.

 

My first experience with sewing involved picking out patterns and proper fabric at our local fabric store when I was 7 years old. The woman who ran the small store was very experienced and she could answer any questions that you might have and steer you on the right path. Today, things are are very different. So many people are learning to sew for the very first time and have no one to ask for help. Even the employees in the fabric store (if you can find one!) don’t always know how to answer your questions.

Learn to read the pattern envelope before you choose your pattern and you will feel much more comfortable with the process. This post will help you know how difficult the pattern is, what fabric and notions to buy, what size pattern you need and give you an idea of what the garment will cost to make.

Reading a Sewing Pattern Envelope

1) Choose your style in the pattern style book. Pull out the desired pattern from the storage drawer in the store and view the back of the envelope. Not sure how to do this? Watch this FB Live video.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2016768785029847&id=1912224668817593&_rdr

How to read a sewing pattern envelope|Chambraybluesblog|Chambrayblues.com
Most sewing patterns have the body measurements listed on the envelope flap.

2) Find the envelope flap. Most patterns have the body measurements listed here for each size. Compare your body measurements to find the size that is closest to your measurements. Ready to wear sizes are not the same as pattern sizes, so don’t buy a pattern based on your ready to wear size. It won’t work!

How to Read a Pattern Envelope|Chambraybluesblog|chambrayblues.com
Back of McCalls 7100 pattern

The Pattern Size Chart

3) Look at the description of the garment on the top of the rectangular chart on the envelope. This description tells you how many pattern pieces are included in this particular style. Easy patterns have fewer pieces, you can sew an entire dress with as little as 4 or 5 pattern pieces. More advanced patterns such as coats have lots of pieces, some coats have as many as 28! Different pattern companies have the sewing level clearly marked in the description as beginner, intermediate, advanced etc. Make note of what notions are required. Do you have the skill to sew them? Items like buttons and zippers require more skill to sew. If you are a beginner sewer, you may want to look for a pattern with draw string or elastic closures instead until you have more experience.

4) Recommended fabrics are included on the envelope for each style. Restrict your fabric purchases to only these fabric choices for that style. This is important for beginning sewers who often get misled when purchasing fabric for the first time. Woven fabrics and knits for example, require very different construction methods so they are not interchangeable. If you want your garment to turn out, you must choose the proper fabric for that style.

How to read a pattern envelope|ChambrayBluesBlog|www.chambrayblues.com
Some pattern envelopes have a knit fabric stretch chart.

5) Knit styles sometimes have stretch measurements on the back of the pattern envelope. Place your fabric on the fold over the black rectangle marking on the top of the envelope. Stretch the fabric across the chart to see if it will work for that style.

5) Choose which style view you want to make from the front of the envelope. You may want to circle view A, B, C on the envelope so it’s easy to remember.

6) Look at the “size” column, calculate how much fabric you will need by reading down the chart. Fabric comes in widths of 45″ (cottons or specialty fabrics generally) or 60″ (knits, wool, lace, rayon, fleece, crepe, satin). You will need to purchase extra fabric if you plan to make alterations. I routinely purchase 1/4-1/2 yard extra fabric for each style to be sure I have enough yardage. When I forget to do this, I usually end up having to run back to the store and sometimes the fabric isn’t there any more, or it won’t be off the same bolt which can be a slightly different color. Be sure to buy enough fabric for your project all at once, you can always make something else from the scraps!

The Yardage Chart

7) Extra fabric will be required for matching one way prints or fabrics that have a nap. Buy at least 1 extra yard per style to match plaids. In the photo above, separate yardages are given for fabrics with nap. Fabrics with nap include corduroy or velvet, use these yardages if you are sewing with those items.

8) Don’t forget to purchase interfacing, and lining if your pattern requires it. These are listed separately, below the other fabric and notion requirements. Also, be sure you have a selection of fresh sharp sewing machine needles at home in case one breaks while you are sewing! (Hint, buy needles that are designed for the type of fabric you choose. Different fabrics such as knits, satin or denim require special sewing machine needles.)

What if I make a mistake buying my Pattern?

What happens if you do your best to read the pattern envelope and make a mistake in your purchase? If you get home and realize you purchased the wrong type of fabric for your pattern, most stores will return it. The fabric must be uncut and unwashed. You must have your receipt, including the cutting slip to get proper credit. Sewing patterns can be returned only if they are unopened. Usually, I keep patterns and fabric if I decide not to use them right away. I prefer to have a stash of things in my closet for reference even if I haven’t sewn them. You will quickly become a collector if you aren’t already!

I like to keep track of what I spend on each garment for my own enjoyment. My custom designs are akin to designer brands, they are good quality and custom made to fit me perfectly. Do not compare your custom sewn clothing to things you would buy at a discount or department store, those garments are poor quality and not custom made.

Every time you make a new project you learn something else. Think of this sewing journey as one that will be on going. The time to start is now!

 

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Check out some of these other tutorials:

Sew Along 2018, the Year of the Blues!

How to Shorten Pattern Sleeves

What You Should Know About the Cricut Maker

How to Measure for Pattern Alterations

 

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How to Shorten Pattern Sleeves

How to Shorten Pattern Sleeves

Shortening your pattern sleeves isn’t that complicated but it does take a little bit of know how. Here’s my best tips on shortening, it’s easier than you think!

How to Shorten Sleeves the Right Way|ChambrayBluesblog|www.chambrayblues.com
McCalls Cuting layout M7061

We have all been there. You work so hard on a sewing project, only to discover too late that the sleeves are too long. Chopping off the end of the sleeve and re-hemming does not work in most circumstances because sleeves are not perfect rectangles. It’s easy to shorten them at the beginning of the sewing process. Even before you cut! Here’s how!

Shorten Pattern Sleeves the Right Way

  1. The first step is to be certain how much the sleeves need to be shortened. The best way to do this is to use the measurement from the center back neck, to the wrist. This is not included on pattern envelopes, it used to be on there but for some reason they don’t have it on there any more. Take your own measurement, or have someone else do it for you.
  2. Next, line up your back pattern and the sleeve pattern pieces. Overlap the seam allowances (so they are not included in the measurement), then measure the pattern from center back, across the shoulder to the sleeve hem. Do not include the hem as you measure.
  3. Compare the two measurements to find the amount needed. For example, if my pattern measurement is 30″ and my center back neck to wrist measurement is 28″ I need to shorten the sleeve length by 2″. ( 30″-28″=2″)
  4. Add wearing ease. Generally speaking you want to have ease of at least 1″. You can add more if you wish, but no less. As your arm bends you need extra fabric to compensate for the movement, so it’s important to have enough wearing ease or your garment will be uncomfortable and too short in the sleeves.

Sound complicated? It’s really not. Here’s a video tutorial:

You can follow my You Tube Chanel for regular updates and more tutorials. Also, be sure to subscribe for the Sew Along and join our Facebook group here. I am doing weekly Facebook live sewing sessions, answering questions and hoping to inspire you to keep sewing!

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Read more about the Sew Along here.

Read more about Measuring for Pattern Alterations here.

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