Although we have unlimited information at our fingertips thanks to the internet, I still believe that a sewing library is crucial to success! This list is comprised of the top 21 books that I believe you must-have for your sewing library. This post contains affiliate …
Tag: beginner sewing
Self drafting a sequin skirt for a special event isn’t as hard as you may think. Here is my step-by-step process for sewing with sequins. This post contains affiliate links. By making a purchase I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. …
Anyone can make a cut and sew sweater, you will be amazed at how easy it is! Look for sweater fabric and make one today!
Make a Cut and Sew Sweater
The holidays are over and I am back at work in my sewing studio. I am excited to share this project with you, it is super easy and one of my favorite makes! This Cut and Sew Sweater is made from sweater fabric that you can purchase at the fabric store. It’s heavier than regular knit fabric and there are many styles and colors to choose from. Sweaters that are made in garment production can be made in one of two ways. With a cut and sew yardage fabric or knitted into sweater shape by machines. We all know how much work knitting by hand is, and very few people own knitting machines. By purchasing sweater fabric by the yard you can make a sweater in a very short period of time.
Cut and Sew sweaters were first introduced to me when I was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC many years ago. At that time, it was nearly impossible to find sweater fabric in the fabric stores and I recall roaming the garment district of NYC looking for the perfect knit to make a sweater. I don’t think I ever found what I was looking for! So much has changed since then! I purchased my cut and sew sweater fabric at Joann Fabrics and Crafts, but you can find it on Amazon (affiliate link) and other places.
The Sweater Fabric
Sweater fabric is usually 60″ wide, and comes in different fiber contents such as acrylic, rayon, cotton and wool. Much of it is only dry cleanable, so be sure to read the care label before you purchase. My navy blue “eyelash” fabric has bits of yellow, blue, red and white and is hand washable. I plan to wash it on the gentle cycle and dry it flat. Sweater knits stretch out easily when hung and don’t recover their stretch well, treat it a bit carefully when washing and drying. I was so excited to make this sweater I forgot to pre-wash my fabric (that never happens!), hopefully it will not shrink much in the wash!
The great thing about these sweater knits is that there are so many unique designs available. Cable knits, ribbed knits, argyle, boucle, and chenille all will give you lots of different design options. I recommend using a simple pattern like this Simplicity Pattern #S8738 for your first attempt. It has an oversized vintage look that I completely adore, and it’s easy to follow the directions.
The Sweater Details
There are only 3 seams in this sweater: the shoulders, the side seams, and neck. I serged the seams and added a piece of 1″ wide fusible interfacing in the shoulder seam as a stay to keep the shoulder from stretching. Threads magazine recently had an article about this technique and it worked perfectly! The only pattern fit adjustments needed was in the turtle neck length. I have a short neck, so I reduced the turtle by half to make a mock neck style. It fits my short neck perfectly and I couldn’t be more pleased.
Sorry for the blurry photos, my camera is on the fritz lately!
I added a little bit of length to the sleeves as well, but I shouldn’t have. The sleeves are plenty long and I end up rolling them up most of the time. It is so refreshing to have sleeves that fit my long arms, almost everything I own is short in this area! I can’t wait to make some more sweaters, this one went together in less than an hour from start to finish!
The sleeve and bottom hem are finished with a simple zig zag stitch. You could use this stitch to sew the entire sweater if you don’t have a serger. The sweater fabric really hides a lot of things and makes this a great beginner project. I use an old Elna serger that I have had for more than 25 years. It works great with just about any fabric and I love how easily it sewed this heavy knit.
For more inspiration try these posts!
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Learning how to read a sewing pattern envelope is the first step in sewing a garment. Learn these tips for 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.
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!
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.
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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