Best of Summer Sewing with Cailamade!

CoupleJones3Today I am sharing my favorite summer pattern in a review on Cailamade! I was so excited to be asked to participate in Caila’s  “Best of Summer” series! It is the first time I’ve been able to join in on the fun in a series and the group of ladies who are featured last week and this week on Caila’s blog are amazingly talented, I am so honored to be a part of it all.

To see more of my favorite dress pattern and how I added my own personal touches to a (SERIOUSLY!!) SIMPLE pattern, click the “Best of Summer” widget below and head over to Cailamade!

As I was sewing, I was thinking about how many people tell me that they would love to learn to sew but don’t think they could ever do something like this. But you CAN! I promise. The best thing about sewing is that you can make a super easy piece look like something from Anthropologie just by adding your own little details here and there.

CoupleJones1So to give you a little more inspiration and encouragement to give sewing a try, I put together a short list of tips for beginning sewers:

  • Choose an easy pattern. The pattern that I used for the dress above is from Simplicity’s New Look 6205. It has simple lines which meant the skill level wasn’t very high at all. I simplified it even more for myself by changing the pleated skirt to a gathered skirt.
  • Don’t be fooled by the design on the pattern packaging. If you look at the packaging of the pattern I used (see HERE) it is vastly different from the look I created. When I look for a pattern, I only look at the lines of the piece. I fell in love with this dress because of the neckline – it looks so vintage to me.
  • Begin with solid fabric. When you are a beginning sewer, choose fabric without a print. A piece can go from simple to complicated very quickly if you are having to worry about matching up a print when seaming fabric pieces together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started sewing pieces together, only to realize that on one side the flowers were pointed up and on the other side the flowers were pointed down. Arg.
  • Begin with cotton, or some other fabric that doesn’t have a lot of stretch and give. It’s way easier to sew a nice solid piece of fabric. I used a linen-look fabric for my dress. Once you get basics mastered, you can move onto more complicated fabric, but stay simple to begin with.
  • Ask questions of those nice, fabric store employees. I bought my Linen Look fabric from Joanns’ and before I had my fabric cut, I asked the employee what the laundry directions were for the fabric. Personally, I don’t buy fabric that can’t be washed in a machine for my kids. It’s not practical. You might be ok with handwash, either way you should know before you buy what the care requirements are for the fabric.
  • Wash your fabric BEFORE you cut and sew! Fabrics are made to look good on the shelves which means they can have starches and other things on them. Also, it’s better to let the fabric do most of it’s shrinking before you put it together as a clothing item. Another reason I washed my linen was that I wanted to Dip Dye the skirt of this dress with Rit Dye Powder (Evening Blue color also from Joanns’) and washing any starches out prior to dying made sure that the dye would go onto the fabric evenly
  • Read the WHOLE pattern before you do anything. There is so much information and it can look overwhelming but read it all before you cut and you will be glad you did! It’s not rocket science reading, just plug on through it and you will have a better plan of how to go about starting the project.
  • Own a Seam Ripper. This little guy will be your best friend! You can rip out a seam without damaging the fabric and start over! The BEST. Any of the ladies participating in “Best of Summer Sewing” will tell you they keep theirs close at hand!
  • Be adventurous. Give yourself time to finish a project. I can’t tell you how many times I go back and forth as I’m sewing a project. After one step, I’ll love it and be so excited and after the next step I’ll think – “ugh, this isn’t going to turn out at all”….just keep going! Give yourself time so that you don’t feel pressure but finish it! It’s totally worth not giving up :)

I hope you feel inspired to try sewing if you’ve never tried it before! The schedule for Caila’s series is below and every day has featured a review of a great pattern that you can try for yourself. Browse through the posts and you will find something you would love to try! These ladies are WONDERFUL resources for all levels of sewers!

BEST OF SUMMER SCHEDULE:
Tuesday, June 4: Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Wednesday, June 5: Designs By Sessa
Thursday, June 6: SewVery
Friday, June 7: Alida Makes
Monday, June 10: Skirt As Top
Tuesday, June 11: CoupleJones
Wednesday, June 12: Elegance and Elephants
Thursday, June 13: Imagine Gnats
Friday, June 14: iCandy
Monday, June 17: BoyOhBoyOhBoy
Tuesday, June 18: Straight Grain
Wednesday, June 19: A Jennuine Life
Thursday, June 20: CailaMade
Friday, June 21: Jojo And Eloise
If you are visiting from Cailamade, Hello!! Welcome! We are so happy to have you stop by :)
If you’d like to follow us, you can do so on Bloglovin’ and we also have a Facebook page.
Have a great day!
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Child’s Skirt Tutorial for Sewing BEGINNERS! :)

                CoupleJones Skirt tutorial

*Update* Welcome visitors from Craftgawker.com! We are so happy to have you and I hope this tutorial is helpful! We’d love for you to follow our blog or check out our Facebook page HERE

I have several friends who are learning to sew right now – and I LOVE it! Sewing is such a fun skill to have, it opens so many possibilities creatively. My mom taught my sister and I and a bunch of my friends to sew when I was in the 5th grade. She ran a little sewing school in our basement as a way to make a little extra money as a stay at home mom. My sister and I still talk about the culottes we strutted proudly in the fashion shows we had at the end of each sewing session. I made a nautical themed vest and culotte matched set once…yeah…and THEN I wore it to Jr High. I was SO cool. If only the other 6th graders would have realized it.

Through the years I’ve been so thankful for the skills I learned back then and I’d love the chance to be able to help someone else learn.

I thought I’d do a quick tutorial on a SIMPLE girl’s skirt. This is a basic skirt, no frills or extras but it’s a great place to start. Once you get this skirt down, you can start mixing it up – this is the same style of skirt that I made when I made my New Year’s Sparkle Skirt. Same skirt, more extras! :)

OK, First, you will need a half a yard of a basic cotton fabric. Don’t go fancy with your first few projects. Stay away from knit. Once you get these skills down and are more confident then you can go for it with whatever fabric you feel up to trying – but for now – let’s stick to the basics.

Because this is a child’s pattern,  you should have enough length with a half a yard to go around the child’s waist completely with enough to have some gather. The smaller the child, the more full the skirt will be.

You will need a yard of elastic – I would recommend at least a half inch wide elastic so that your waistband will be less likely to roll. Also, scissors, straight pins, and thread. I will be using dark thread so you can easily see my seams but you should use thread that matches your fabric.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial2

Start by trimming the selvage edge off the sides of your fabric. This is the edge that has been treated so it won’t fray and usually it will have the brand info on it and sometimes it has little holes in it and is a different texture than the rest of the fabric. So we want to get rid of those suckers.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial3

Next, fold your fabric in half as shown below, with the inside out.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial3

A few things to make sure you know before sewing the first seam. You should use a straight stitch for your first few projects, until you get the hang of it or are directed otherwise by your pattern. AND every time you start or end a seam, you should reverse a stitch or two and then continue on your way. This makes it so the seam won’t unravel. Again, there are exceptions to this rule later on in sewing but for beginners, it’s a good practice.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial3

Always make sure your presser foot is down before you start the machine. CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial4

Sew a straight line on the side of the fabric that is opposite and parallel from the fold. You want to sew at least a half inch away from the edge so that you give yourself a little space to work with.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial5

Next, fold over the top of the fabric circle in a fold wide enough to encompass the width of your elastic with a little wiggle room. Pin in place – make sure you only pin the fold to the first level of fabric and not completely through both layers.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial6

I laid my elastic on top of the fabric so that you can see below that I made my fold wide enough to fit the elastic as well as give myself enough room for my seam. Sew along this line, but do not close the seam completely around the waist. Leave about a 3-4 inch opening so that you can slide the elastic into the waistband.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial7

Now you should measure the waist of the child you are sewing for and cut your elastic to size, adding a half inch extra so that you have room to stitch the two ends together.

This is a trick I use to thread my elastic through – USUALLY I use a safety pin, but I couldn’t find one and had to use a paper clip instead. Not as “official” but whatever works. Use the safety pin to thread your elastic through…make sure you don’t let the other end of the elastic to slip into the waist band. Hold it or pin it to the fabric so that you can sew the edges together when you are done threading the elastic.  Be careful that you don’t allow the elastic to twist as you thread it.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial8

Once you get the elastic through as shown below, pin both edges together so that they lay flat.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial9

Pull the elastic clear of the fabric and stitch a line on each edge of the elastic so the extra doesn’t flap up.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial10

Now close the gap that you left open for the elastic.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial11

You should now  try the skirt on the child…I can’t tell you how many times I try to eyeball things because it’s a pain to try clothes on kids, and whatever I am working on ends up weird. It’s better to actually see it on and see how it hangs so that you know for sure what length you want it to be.

Leave the skirt inside out so that you can just fold up and pin one pin at the length that you want the skirt to be when finished. Don’t try to pin more than that when the child is wearing the skirt. Pins & kids do not go together.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial12

Once you have the length figured out, take the skirt off and pin it the whole way around the hem. It might be helpful to iron your fold at this point so that the fabric lays flat.

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial13

Sew along the hem

CoupleJones Skirt Tutorial14

Your skirt is finished! Way to go! Once you get this style mastered, you can add ruffles or color blocking to the hem or use more adventurous fabric, whatever you want.

CoupleJones Skirt TutorialFinal

Matched with a spunky pair of cowboy boots, this is a pretty cute skirt! :)

CoupleJones Skirt TutorialFinalskirt

I hope this tutorial helps – if you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I will help as I can.  Have fun!

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