Sewing Happiness book review

Sewing Happiness book review

Sewing happiness is a beautiful book that deserves a place in your sewing library.

I was very excited to discover my local library has recently added Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida to their collection. I had seen this book online but it wasn’t in any of the bookshops I visited while in Brisbane and as we don’t have many bookshop options locally, I had given up finding a copy to browse and help me decide if it belonged in my personal (rather extensive) sewing book library.

After excitedly bringing it home, I wasn’t disappointed. The styling and photography is beautiful and thoughtfully presented, and the 19 projects are all simple and easy enough for a sewing beginner to achieve in a single afternoon. Well, mostly – the projects with sashiko stitching it might take take a bit longer. As a simple but beautiful style of simple Japanese embroidery, the hand embroidery might take a bit longer for a beginner but not that much longer.

What makes this book special is the stories Sanae shares through essays at the beginning of each season.

Sanae describes her catastrophic fall from grace from ‘rising star employee’ to being unceremoniously fired. She also shares how extreme stress prompted a serious autoimmune disorder and how her workaholic tendencies almost destroyed her marriage. What follows next, in each essay, is a gradual rediscovery of the therapeutic benefits of slowing down and reconnecting with handmade creativity.     

It’s no coincidence that the subtitle for Sewing Happiness is “A year of simple projects for living well”, and it’s this philosophy that underpins the whole book. Sanae talks about discovering mindfulness through making, which I’m sure most of us who are a part of the maker movement would understand.

None of these projects are technically challenging, which adds to the book’s charm and accessibility. With 19 different projects on offer, from homewares, bags, accessories, gifts for men as well as babies, and even some women’s clothing, there are plenty of options if one or two don’t appeal to you.

These projects will give you confidence if you’ve never sewn before, and even if you have sewn before, these simple projects are fun, versatile and stylishly elegant. They are not your usual simple sewing projects.

Sanae confesses in her foreword that the projects needed to be ‘straightforward and easy’. Her aim was to make them easy enough for her nine-year-old daughter to confidently attempt them. Despite this, there is nothing childish or twee about this book and it’s very much a ‘personal story about unexpected transformations’. I can absolutely recommend this book deserves a place on your bookshelf, preferably in your lounge room, so you can pick it up and be inspired by the gorgeous photography, empowered by Sanae’s essays, and encouraged to incorporate some handsewn creativity into your life.

To see more sewing books I recommend, see my post Best sewing books for beginners.

Overall rating 5/5
Number of projects: 19
Project difficulty levels: Very easy
Types of projects: dressmaking, accessories, gifts and homewares

Best sewing books for beginners in 2018

Best sewing books for beginners in 2018

I remember when I first started sewing and wondering which ones were the best sewing books for beginners like me. I was equally excited, overwhelmed and disappointed by the small selection of good sewing books on offer at my local bookshop. There was never a big selection, and I've found that even bigger bookshops in Brisbane don't seem to carry many more than a couple of different titles. Usually their sewing for beginners books aren't particularly recent, or seem to be a little dated and targeting the blue rinse brigade (in other words, not me!). It was very hard to choose a ‘how to sew book' that would be suitable for my beginner skills.

In fact, when it comes to finding good sewing books, Australia doesn't seem to have too many options. Which is one of the many reasons I'm a big fan of both The Book Depository (yay for fast and free international shipping) and Amazon US (not a fan of the insane US shipping fees though 🙁 ).

Thankfully though, since then I've found some great sewing books that not only will answer any question you've ever had when learning to sew but are completely worth the small purchase price and a space in your sewing library. In fact, some of these sewing books are on my list of essential sewing tools, and I cannot live without them.

Unfortunately, some of these titles are getting hard to find at brick and mortar bookshops, so to help ensure you can get your own copy I've tracked them all down at either The Book Depository, which is where I buy almost all my books (gotta love that super-fast free international shipping, hey? 😉 ), or Amazon US.

1. The Sewing Book by Alison Smith

The Sewing Book is easily one of the top sewing books available today. Written by Alison Smith and published in 2015, it's a hefty and comprehensive book that covers a wide variety of techniques and projects suitable for a beginner all the way up to advanced sewing enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it's getting very difficult to find in Australia now; however, you can still get it from The Book Depository for less than 50 Aussie bucks (and free international shipping!).

If you're looking for one of the best learn to sew books for beginners, then don't go past this gem!

Definitely grab a copy if you can find one locally, or get your copy from The Book Depository now.

2. Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida

I recently borrowed Sewing Happiness from my local library and immediately fell in love with it. I ended up having to order my very own copy after I had borrowed the library's copy for three weeks, then renewed it for another three. It was pretty clear I needed this title in my sewing library. What makes it so good, I hear you ask? Quite simply, it's just a beautiful book — both in its photos, styling and simple and thoughtful projects, as well as the personal essays on sewing and growth that Sanae has included at the beginning of each chapter.

Although this book is technically not Japanese, it definitely takes its simplicity and styling cues from them. I love its big nod to Japanese sewing books, and the fact that it's written in English (and not Japanese) means it's a much more accessible beginner sewing book.

Do yourself a favour and get your own copy of Sewing Happiness now. You won't regret it, I promise!

3. The Colette Sewing Handbook by Sarai Mitnick

This lovely book comes courtesy of Sarai Mitnick from Colette Patterns and focuses on dressmaking techniques, not home decor sewing. The structure of The Colette Sewing Handbook is a little different to other sewing books, which I really like. It takes the sewing beginner on a journey rather than putting all the technical information at the beginning of the book and the patterns and step-by-step instructions towards the end.

Each chapter covers essential techniques then incorporates those techniques into the chapter’s sewing project. All the projects are for women's clothing and includes full-sized patterns at the back, so it's perfect if you're new to dressmaking. The Colette Sewing Handbook covers all essential sewing techniques in an easy to understand way, and the projects are classic and feminine.

I think this is one of the best sewing books with patterns on the market today, and you can buy it here.


4. You Sew, Girl by Nicole Mallalieu

Written by Melbourne-based stitcher and sewing teacher Nicole Mallalieu, this book is a favourite of mine. It’s marketed as the ‘ultimate guide to sewing with confidence and style,’ and I have to agree. Nicole's projects include a few bags, hats and accessories here, as well as instructions for seven pattern-free clothing pieces.

Her instructions are clear and easy to follow, too. There aren’t too many Australians writing sewing books these days. The only other Australian sewing and craft author I can think of is Pip Lincolne, but unfortunately her wonderful Sew La Tea Do is out of print. (If you see it in an op shop or secondhand bookshop, snaffle it up!).

You Sew, Girl is one of the best books on sewing for beginners available in 2018. You can buy it here now.

5. Seams To Me by Anna Maria Horner

Seams To Me was one of the very first sewing books I bought when I was a beginner. It explains everything clearly, and most of the projects are very simple and straightforward. It was published in 2008 so it's starting to get a bit harder to find this title both in-store and online. Seams To Me mostly focuses on homewares and accessories, although there are some basic clothing patterns too. In my experience, getting started on simple bags, cushions and other homewares is a great confidence boost before moving on to clothing patterns where measuring yourself, adjusting fit and using some tricking techniques can get beginners unstuck.

Click here to buy Seams To Me now.

6. Dressmaking Step By Step by Alison Smith

When you’re ready to move on to sewing your own clothes, I can highly recommend Dressmaking Step By Step by Allison Smith. She includes some easy projects suitable for beginners, before moving on to some slightly more advanced projects such as classic jackets with collars. There are lots of photos clearly illustrating each step, and there are plenty of classic projects that won’t go out of style.

Usually the best price of Dressmaking Step By Step can be found by clicking here.

7. Essential Sewing by Tessa Evelegh

I picked up a copy of this book just recently, and it’s inspired me to wear more dresses again. It has a good range of clothing patterns, as well as projects for the home such as curtains, roman blinds and a laundry bag, among others. It includes a pattern from Tilly Walnes (of Tilly And The Buttons fame) and two Simplicity patterns.

This book includes some of the best sewing projects for beginners available in sewing books on the market in 2018. I think it's one of the best beginner sewing books, too.

You might be able to pick up a copy from QBD, if you're in Australia, otherwise your best bet to is to buy it from Amazon.

8. Sew What! Skirts by Francesca Denhartog and Carole Ann Camp

This was my first introduction to pattern drafting, and I discovered just how quick, simple and easy drafting a skirt pattern can be. The projects are fun, and there’s quite a large variety of skirt types covered in this book.

Sew What! Skirts is one of the easiest and best pattern making books for beginners in 2018. It’s an accessible introduction for skirt pattern drafting and sewing, and so there’s not too much technical information.

This is quite an old title but you can still find it by clicking here.

9. Love At First Stitch, by Tilly Walnes

I have to confess, I don’t have this book in my collection, yet, but as it’s written by sewing blogger Tilly Walnes, and it’s won a couple of awards, then I can’t say it will be long before it ends up in my library. Tilly has also just released her latest Tilly and the Buttons book, which covers everything you ever wanted to know about sewing with stretch fabrics (such as knits). It's entitled ‘Tilly and the Buttons: Stretch' and can be found at the Book Depository now.

Buy Love At First Stitch now.

10. The Sewing Machine Classroom by Charlene Phillips

This is another book that isn't in my library (yet!); however, I've included it here because it's a very popular book in the sewing community. It's one of the best sewing machine books for beginners, as it covers everything to do with using your sewing machine, to troubleshooting problems and do basic maintenance as well.

Click here to see the latest price for The Sewing Machine Classroom.

So that's my list of good sewing books for beginners, and I'm sure there's something on my list that will suit you! If you're just starting out, please remember that you don't need to be the best seamstress to enjoy making something for yourself to wear (and enjoy). In fact, learning to sew can be about treading lightly on the environment, too.

Of course, if I've missed your favourite sewing book for beginners, then let me know in the comments below — thanks!

170+ indispensable sewing hashtags to hack your Instagram growth

170+ indispensable sewing hashtags to hack your Instagram growth

So, you have an instagram account, and you’ve been sharing your sewing projects a while now but you’re still not finding new followers. You know you’re meant to use hashtags on each of your posts … but… you’ve got no idea where to find these mythical and abundant sewing hashtags that will unlock the key to crazy community connection.

HI’m here to help you with that!

You probably already know that Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media channels on the interwebs today.You might also know Instagram posts receive some of the highest average engagement rates too. What you might not know is that the sewing community on Instagram is not only massive, but is also one of the kindest, most supportive and incredibly encouraging communities around.

(It’s one of the most inspiring too, but we’ll get to that later 😉 )

To take the sting out of your hashtag research, I’m sharing my personal list of sewing-related hashtags that I draw on every time I post a sewing project on Instagram.

Now, this list is massive and has over 170 hashtags on it, so please, please – please – keep in mind that you cannot use every hashtag on this list on every post. Instagram restricts the number of hashtags you can use on a post to 30. If you include any more than that, your post won’t be found under any of them. (Harsh, I know — but, hey – what can you do? It’s Instagram’s party, so party hard but respect the rules, peeps!)

So … without further ado … here’s my monster list of sewing hashtags! (Why don’t you pin this post for future reference?)

Specific sewing hashtags

#clothingconstruction
#couturesewing
#custommade
#diydressmaker
#dressmaker
#dressmaking
#fashionsewing
#feelingstitchyIG
#freesewingpattern
#garmentconstruction
#garmentsewing
#homesewn
#draft
#ilovesewing
#imademyclothes
#imakemyclothes
#indiesewing
#isew
#isewclothes
#isewmyclothes
#kidscansew
#learntosew
#letsmakefashion
#lovetosew
#madebyme

#madetomeasure
#makeitsewcial
#memade
#memadeeveryday
#mensew
#menwhosew
#prettygirlssew
#retroseamstress
#retrosewing
#seamstress
#seamsresslife
#selfcaresewing
#selfdrafted
#selfishsewing
#sew
#sewaddicted
#sewaholic
#sewallday
#sewallthethings
#sewalong
#sewcialist
#sewcreative
#sewcute
#sewdaily
#sewdontclean

#sewfab
#sewfun
#sewing
#sewingaddict
#sewingbee
#sewingblogger
#sewingclass
#sewingforbaby
#sewingforboys
#sewingforgirls
#sewingformen
#sewinggirl
#sewingindie
#sewinginspiration
#sewingisfun
#sewingissexy
#sewingiswhatido
#sewinglife
#sewinglifestyle
#sewinglove
#sewingmachine
#sewingmama
#sewingpattern
#sewingproject
#sewingprojects

#sewingroom
#sewingstash
#sewingstash2017
#sewingstudio
#sewingtools
#sewingtutorial
#sewingwithknits
#sewingwithstyle
#sewist
#sewit
#sewpretty
#sewretro
#sewsewsew
#shesews
#shirtmaking
#simplesewpatterns
#stitchinglife
#stitchybitch
#tailoring
#tailormade
#teachingsewing
#tinysewists
#tweensewing
#yesisew

Handmade hashtags

#handmade
#handmadefashion
#handmadehome
#handmadeisbest
#handmadelife
#handmadelingerie
#handmadelove
#handmadewardrobe
#ilovehandmade
#makedoandmend

Making hashtags

#createdbyme
#imadethat
#imadethis
#imakeclothes
#make2share
#makerlyfe
#makersgonnamake
#makersmovement
#makersofinstagram
#makerspace
#makesomething
#selfmade
#themakertribe

Hashtags for sewing themes and challenges

#1year1outfit
#2017makenine
#bpsewvember
#dressmaker52
#kidsclothesweek
#madeforkidsmonth
#memademay
#memademay2017
#miymarch17
#mmmay17
#projectrunandplay
#sewingandswapping
#sewphotohop
#sewvember
#shortsontheline
#simplicitysewingchallenge
#thedailyseam
#vintagepledge

DIY hashtags

#diy
#diyclothes
#diydontbuy
#diyfashion
#diystyle
#diywardrobe
#idiy

Creativity hashtags

#craftordie
#createordie
#creativehappylife
#creativemamas

Fabric hashtags

#beautifulfabric
#fabricaddict
#fabricaholic
#fabriclove
#fabriclust
#fabricstash
#fabrictofashion
#fabricville
#ilovefabric

Hashtags for sewing patterns

#iloveindiepatterns
#patternstash
#pdfpatterns
#vintagepatterns

Other useful hashtags

#ethicalfashion
#oneofakind
#ootd
#retrostyle
#vintagestyle

Oh wow! So you not only read that list, but you scrolled below it, too! As a ‘thank-you’ for going beyond that enormous list — and reading all the way to the end — here’s a few of my favourite sewing Instagrammers that I think you’ll love too!

BimbleandPimble — creator of the #bpsewvember hashtag 

BusterSew — proving that men can sew too (and still be manly 😉 ) 

Gertie18 — well-known vintage dressmaking and couture blogger

HomeRowFiberCo — author of sewing and knitting blog Lucky Lucille

MarcyHarriell — known as Oona Balloona, and has a drool-worthy wild style streak

DeadlyMojoSewing — Queensland-based stitcher who does some incredibly detailed, almost sculptural, work

Curlypops — stitcher, textile designer, double-lung transplant recipient and Donate Life advocate

All these accounts are great, and all for different reasons! Every single one shares inspiring projects, peaks behind the scenes, or has been incredibly encouraging and kind to me. See – I told you the sewing community on Instagram is a great place to play!

I hope you’ve found this monster list of sewing hashtags useful (and don’t forget to pin this post so you can keep it for future reference!) Remember, only use a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, and always be kind and supportive to other Instagrammers — you’ll get it back in spades!

You can find me playing on Instagram as MakePlusDo! I hope to see you there!

The 6 best Cyber Monday deals for sewing, art and craft enthusiasts you’ll see this year

The 6 best Cyber Monday deals for sewing, art and craft enthusiasts you’ll see this year

Black Friday has just passed, and Cyber Monday isn’t here yet, and I don’t know about you but I’m already a bit exhausted from wading through all my Black Friday Sales emails. There are some truly amazing deals to be had this weekend, and there are some not-so-amazing deals too.

To save you some serious time and money wading through your Facebook feed and emails, I’ve rounded up a list of the 6 best Cyber Monday sewing, art and craft deals you’ll see this weekend. I had some help compiling this list – so a big thank you to Natalie and Clare, who tipped me off to some deals that I hadn’t seen but definitely worth sharing.

Best deal #1

CreativeBug is offering a 3-month membership for just $1 USD. This deal is INSANELY good. Seriously — exactly how much can you buy for a buck these days? Not much! So don’t wait any longer to take advantage of this sale.  

I’ve been curious about CreativeBug for a long time now, but it wasn’t until this deal was offered that I took the plunge and signed up. I’m so glad I did because they have award-winning classes offered by fantastic teachers such as Lisa Congden, Anna Maria Horner and Natalie Chanin. The classes are generally much shorter than other online learning platforms so are perfect for those of us who only have time to watch a class during nap-time or while drinking a rapidly cooling cup of tea.

Best deal #2

Craftsy is offering all classes for $17.99 USD (excluding for The Great Courses). Craftsy always have sales on classes, but rarely do they discount ALL classes and never at a better price than this!

I’m a huge, long-time fan of Craftsy and over the years have seriously upgraded my sewing, photography and crochet skills. I’ve enrolled in over 70 classes and have learnt something worthwhile in every single class I’ve taken. They keep bringing out new classes every week and cater to all skill levels.

Best deal #3

Mingo and Grace have 50% off all their delightfully feminine sewing patterns, and a further 10% off if you use the code FRIENDS. I’m not familiar with Mingo and Grace, but my friend Natalie suggested this one and it’s such a great deal that it’s definitely worth checking out!

Best deal #4

My favourite independent sewing pattern company Colette Patterns have 30% off all patterns and up to 50% off sale patterns.

Colette Patterns mostly include women’s sewing patterns, and a few men’s patterns too, and do not include patterns for children at all. They are modern with a vintage feel, and come in a huge range of sizes. They are also available in both printed and PDF versions, so you can avoid expensive shipping fees by getting the digital version instead. I’ve loved Colette Patterns for a long time, and Black Friday is the only time of the year I’ve seen them offer a store-wide sale.

Best deal #5

Up to 40% off all CreativeLive classes. CreativeLive is another online learning platform that offer high-quality classes delivered by excellent teachers. They don’t just offer classes for upskilling your creativity, they also offer some terrific business classes specifically for people in handmade and other creative micro-industries. If you’re a handmaiden or artist looking to build a sustainable business based on your creative endeavours, I can thoroughly recommend CreativeLive to help you get there.

Best deal #6

This deal is another of Natalie’s suggestions. Independent designer Dolls and Daydreams are offering 20% off all orders over $25 USD. Dolls and Daydreams specialise in whimsical doll and softie patterns, plus accessories patterns for their dolls and softies. So beautiful and these dolls and softies would make terrific gifts for the littlies in your life!

 

These are the 6 top deals I’ve seen and felt were worth sharing this year. I’m sure there are plenty of other terrific Cyber Monday deals that I’ve missed. Do you know of any? If so, feel free to link to them in the comments below!

 

*Please note: this post contains affiliate links to CreativeBug, Craftsy and CreativeLive (not the other companies I've mentioned) and if you clink on the links to these companies and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission — at no extra cost to you! I'm an independent publisher and being affiliated with these three companies helps cover the costs of running this site.

Review: Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing

Review: Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing

I've long been a fan of Gretchen Hirsch (known as Gertie) and her blog Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing. I love her rockabilly style, kitschy-cute dresses and her treatise on feminism and foundation garments. She really is an entertaining and interesting writer. So in 2012 when I heard she'd released her first book, Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing, I was thrilled. It took me ages to get the courage to buy it though!

I know you're wondering why.

 

Detail of open pages of Gerties New Book For Better Sewing, by Gretchen Hirsch.

Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing, by Gretchen Hirsch, includes lots of diagrams to explain techniques that might be new to inexperienced sewists.

 

Because as much as I love vintage fashion, I knew virtually nothing about the couture techniques used to achieve those gorgeous, structured garments. Vintage sewing and couture sewing have an awful lot in common. They share fine sewing techniques, unusual fabrics, strange terminology and a whole lot of hand-stitching. I let that level of commitment to a garment overwhelm me, but I really shouldn't have.

Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing is a wonderful introduction to the world of fine, vintage-inspired clothing. She covers extensive techniques and tips—from pad stitching to stabilising to laundering—which I found easy to understand and quite inspiring. She also covers some history of fashion designers from the early part of the Twentieth Century, gives an outline to common silhouettes and features found in vintage fashion, and even covers the pros and cons of using true vintage patterns versus reproduction retro patterns. Gertie doesn't stop with just stitching and couture techniques though. She also covers pattern adjustments and patternmaking, and gives advice on how to achieve the perfect fit.

 

Gertie gives a comprehensive take on the pros and cons with working authentic vintage patterns and compares it to working with reproduction retro patterns. It’s a very useful guide and worth taking into consideration next time you’re lusting over that hard-to-find vintage sewing pattern.

 

Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing also comes with 12 garment patterns, plus instructions for a whole swag of variations. I particularly love her 1940s A-Line Military-style skirt and plan to make it soon. Her patterns range from the deceptively simple Bow-Tied Blouse (bound buttonholes, anyone?) to her New Look-inspired suit jacket, which is anything but simple.

Final verdict

This book is not for beginners looking for a quick make. No way! However, this post outlines all the best books I recommend for sewing beginners. But if you're a beginner sewist with a penchant for fine sewing and wanting to expand your repertoire, then it's definitely one worth adding to your sewing book collection.

Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing is published by Stuart, Tabori & Chang available from The Book Depository for about $40 (AUD). 

 

Sewing newbie series: working with paper patterns

Sewing newbie series: working with paper patterns

I cannot tell you how totally out of my depth I felt when I first using paper patterns. There were SO many markings, and directions, and terms that I was clueless about. That first project took me a REALLY long time to complete—like months. Seriously. A lot was going on that year, so I make no apologies!

When I finished that bag, I realised I had learnt an enormous amount and felt confident to tackle some more complex projects (lined dress with princess seams anyone?) I’m guessing you’re still a bit daunted by working with paper patterns so let me hold your hand while I guide you through some of the basics. Before we get started, please read my post on preparation and make sure your fabric is washed and wrinkle-free.

Let’s dive in, hey?

Trace your paper pattern

I always wondered why copying a paper pattern was so important, and to be honest in some cases it’s not. However, when you've got multiple patterns printed and overlapping on one sheet, or multiple sizes you really need to trace your pattern out. Look, I know tracing a pattern is tedious but one day you’ll thank me. Probably when you've made an enormous pair of pants and want to make them in the correct size without having to make another trip to purchase a pattern that you've already bought but need to replace because you cut out the wrong size.

There are so many ways to trace out your pattern, and I've tried a few of them. You can buy Swedish tracing paper, which can be expensive but has a better drape than regular old tracing paper and is helpful when adjusting fit. You could also try sewing tracing paper, which is just like normal tracing paper only in large sheets, but it can also get a bit expensive. I used to use cheap and cheerful sew-in interfacing, and that was great because it stuck to my fabric and didn't shift when cutting out my pieces (hooray for accuracy). However, it could be stretched easily, and therefore inaccurate—boo! At the moment I use super-cheap no-brand baking paper. I just tape lengths together so I get a piece wide enough for each pattern piece. I use a 9B lead pencil to trace with because it’s really soft and dark. It draws beautifully on the baking paper, and is really easy to erase if I fuck it up make a mistake. The paper doesn't stretch and doesn't have any folds in it, so it’s cheap AND accurate—awesome!

Craftsy on my laptop

Above: This little guy makes a great pattern weight and accompanies me on many tracing adventures!

 

Tip: don’t use a permanent marker when tracing out patterns. It bleeds on the paper, bleeds through to the pattern and onto the expensive dining room table. And then you have to whip out the hairspray and quietly attempt to remove the marks while your husband is watching some crappy man-movie and wondering where you are. Yup, learn from my mistakes, people!

 

Untitled design (13)

Above: Ever wonder what those tiny triangles are for? Well they're for matching up your pattern pieces correctly. There are two ways of marking these. The above method takes time, is fiddly but there's no snipping into seam allowances. 

Copy the triangles, and all other pattern markings

There are two schools of thought with those little triangles. Firstly, add them as a little piece that’s in addition to the seam allowance. Secondly, cut a tiny 3mm clip in the seam allowance, but be careful not to clip right to where the stitches go (or beyond). Personally, I love clipping into the seam allowance. I find it more accurate, quicker and easier, which means I spend less time swearing. Adding tiny little triangles onto my seam allowances is just fiddly and pisses me off, so I prefer not to do it. But each to her own, I say. Either option is ok so do what works for you.

Untitled design (14)

Above: I love marking the triangles by snipping 3mm into the seam allowance. It helps me cut out my pattern quickly, is less fiddly and I think it's very accurate too. 

Cut out your newly traced pattern

I know you read my post about essential sewing tools, right? You particularly took note of using fabric shears only on fabric, right? No? That’s ok. Go get yourself a cheap pair of scissors from the supermarket and use them for cutting out your paper pattern pieces. Off you go, I’ll be here when you get back 😉 Whatever you do, please oh pretty, pretty please do not use your good fabric shears on paper, otherwise I will cry.

Lay out your paper pattern pieces on your fabric

Lay your laundered and ironed fabric nice and flat. I use our very large dining room table, but others use the floor. Just make sure the surface you use is clean. Use the pattern’s instructions to determine if you should keep your fabric flat, or folded. If it’s folded then it’s most likely folded right-sides-together but do check this on the instructions.

Make sure all your pieces are on-grain, or placed on the fold if they need to be on a fold. If you have a single pattern piece but need to cut 2 or cut 4, then make sure there’s enough room to fit them all.

There are a few ways of ensuring your paper pattern pieces don’t slide on your fabric when you’re cutting. I used to pin my paper pieces to the fabric, and you can totally do this too. I’m just a bit lazy and find this method tedious. It also introduces some inaccuracy because the fabric has small ‘bubbles’ where the pins are inserted. I now use some heavy metal ornaments as pattern weights to hold the pieces down, and a rotary cutter to cut the pieces out. So quick, easy and more accurate. Just take your time and be very, very careful when using a rotary cutter—those suckers are SHARP!

Cut out your fabric pattern pieces

Again, there are just so many methods of cutting out fabric pieces. As mentioned above, I prefer using my rotary cutter but you might find using fabric shears suits you better. That’s ok, do whatever works for you! Take your time and keep your fabric as flat as you can when cutting. Also, it’s important to keep the paper pieces with the fabric pieces after you cut them out because we have one more step to do before we’re done.

Add all those stupid markings to your fabric pieces

Oh gosh, I really hate this bit. I really, really do. It’s so tedious and boring and some days I’d much rather do housework than add all those fiddly markings, but gosh—it’s so damn important! All those weird markings mean something: dart positions, gathered stitches, seam allowances, button holes, centre back … my list could go on. In fact, I think I will write a post about what the most common markings mean.

There are a few ways you can add those markings to the fabric pieces. You can use tailor’s tacks, which are pretty cool, quick and accurate; you can use pins and chalk/water-soluble pen to mark them; or you can use a tracing wheel and special sewing carbon paper. I like this last method, but each has its place and is useful in different situations. I recommend having all the tools necessary for each method because it’s nice to have options. That way you can mark your darts with tailor’s tacks, mark stitching lines with a tracing wheel and carbon paper and mark the start of gathering stitch lines with a pin and chalk.

nice-sewing-tools-1-of-1

Above: Used with carbon paper especially made for dressmaking and your tracing wheel will be your new best friend. (Ok, I might need to get some *actual* friends!)

And that’s it! You can separate your paper pattern pieces from the fabric pieces now—finally! Working with paper patterns can be the most tedious part of sewing, although I’m finding it more and more meditative these days. I hope you do too!

 

I struggle with adding all those fiddly markings right at the very end. Do you have any steps that you struggle with? Do you have any tips that make those steps less of a struggle, then share them below!   

You might also like to read some of my other posts written to help sewing newbies. They include preparation, essential sewing tools, sewing tools that are nice to have and resources I can't live without. Happy stitching!

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