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Erin from Our Family Four for KCW

PATTERNS: what makes me commit

Why would I pay for a pattern, even an adorable one, if there are so many free patterns and tutorials available online?

This is what I used to think, before I started sewing clothes.  What I know now that I didn’t know then is, those pattern-makers have done so much of the hard work to make it easier on me!  They’ve translated a concept into a reality, and can lead me to that beautiful reality with lots of hand holding: colored photos with little arrows, glossaries of terms, and pattern pieces that will go from being a random jigsaw to a beautiful final piece.  Thanks pattern designers!  You guys rock.

BUT…how do you choose between them?

One incredible thing about being involved in the online sewing community is seeing fresh new patterns popping up regularly from designers that I already know and trust because so many of them are fellow bloggers!  But choosing between the many different designs and deciding where to invest my money and time can be overwhelming.  There are just so many options, how do you choose between them?

Over the past year I have come to recognize the 6 biggest factors that will make me put a pattern right into my cart AND checkout, now.  :)Do you have any patterns that fall into these categories? 

1.) The “Seemingly Endless Possibilities” Pattern

 The first pattern that I ever bought was the Geranium Dress.  I had seen a few of my favorite bloggers making their versions of this dress and I could not deny that it was adorable, but I was trying to resist.  But what tipped me over the edge was when I saw Delia’s 5 Geraniums post.  There was just such a fun range that I couldn’t believe it was all from the same pattern.  I wanted my daughter to have a wardrobe of cute dresses and tunics like that!

I bought the pattern and made 4 Geraniums for my daughter: 2 dresses, 2 tunics, 2 gathered skirts, 2 pleated skirts, a sleeveless, a ruffled sleeve, a cap sleeve and a puff sleeve with Peter Pan collar detail.  I made 2 dresses for baby gifts.  I also have a different option plotted for this year’s spring KCW Geranium.  I can’t get enough.


Popsicle Geranium, Flutter Geranium, Floral Geranium, Peter Pan Geranium

Friends, I was hooked.  The part of me that wanted maximum bang for my buck was just so happy:) A few other “Seemingly  Endless Possibilities” Patterns.  (I dare you to click through and see all that you can do with these patterns!)


Tinny, Natty Janes, Roller Skate Dress 

2.) The “Give You Some Control Over Your Kid’s Unusual Shape” Pattern

If you stand for 10 minutes in a children’s department, you will hear this conversation.  Maybe you are the one saying it.

It’s just so hard to find jeans/shorts/pants that fit.  He has such a little waist and these long legs!  She’s thick around the middle but then the legs of the pants are too wide!

For me it was one day when I was out shopping for my petite 2 year old daughter and couldn’t find a pair of shorts to fit her tiny little booty. The 2 year fell off, the 18-24 months still slipped down, the 12-18 months were baggy and the 9-12 months were too.  The mom guilt was too much for me to handle (it must be my fault that she’s so tiny!) so I left the store with nothing but a lump in my throat.  I came home, purchased and printed the Bubble Pocket Shorts, and sewed them completely while she napped.

When she got up she was no longer my little peanut swimming in too-big shorts, but just my sweet little girl in some sweet shorts.  As she should be.

Shorts 5

  Bubble Pocket Shorts

Bottoms can be tough to fit.  Buying a pattern that helps you take control of the waistband, leg width, and inseam can make such a difference!

 A few other “Give You Some Control” patterns.


Clean Slate Pants, Skinny Jeans, Kid Shorts

3.) The “This is a Staple” Pattern

The Roly Poly Pinafore sold me immediately.  I saw only a few stops on the tour before I was convinced that this was an essential summer staple, yet could easily be layered in the fall and winter, and the 2-dresses-in-1 tapped right into the part of me that is looking for a deal. Sold.

Roly poly pinafore

Summer/Cloud Roly Poly, Retro Reversible Roly Poly

Our kids need easy to wear, easy to mix items in their wardrobes.  If you find a good pattern in a size range that will carry you through a few years with your child, then you’re golden.

 Other “This is a Staple” patterns.


Greenpoint Cardigan, Berkshire Blazer, Fancy Pants Leggings


4.) The “You’ll Learn a Lot” Pattern

One thing that I kept hearing (reading?) about Oliver + S patterns was the phrase “you’ll learn a lot.”  I bought my first Oliver + S dress during their summer sale and sewed it up during fall KCW.  Guess what?  I learned a lot.  No, seriously.  The instructions are very clear and great lengths are taken to make sure that things are just right.  I love all of the dresses that I’ve made for my daughter, but I think that her Family Reunion Dress looks like it should be on a display.  It’s just SO professional looking.  It was not a quick sew, but a fulfilling sew, worth the effort, and I added several tricks to my sewing arsenol.

Minty Family Reunion Dress 4

Minty Dress 

Other “You’ll Learn a Lot” Patterns.


Book Report DressSunday Brunch Jacket, Jump Rope Dress

5.) The “Unisex Love” Pattern

Pattern tours are just such a good idea because seeing so many different takes on a single pattern can give you 150 ideas for pieces that can go directly into your kid’s closet.

But when they give you 150 ideas for both genders?!  That’s a whole new story.  My first experience was with the Recess Raglan.  I’m still experiencing this one.  Such a great pattern, can’t stop sewing it up for both of my children.

Recess Raglan

Red Poppy, Floral, and Boy Blue Raglans, Minty Mod

I did the same with the Bimaa.


Floral & Stripe, Hooded Lightening Bolt, Upcycled Cowl

One pattern for two kids?  Again, you cannot beat the “maximum bang for your buck” factor.

Other “unisex love” patterns.


Bimaa Sweater, Harem Pants, Banyan Tee,


6.) The “Just Get It Already” Pattern

When I first saw the Knight Hoodie pattern I gasped because it was just so amazing.  Then I tried to talk myself out of it. “Erin, your son has tons of hoodies already, there are no inexpensive places nearby to get sweatshirt fleece, you will not make him multiple varieties of this pattern…”  But even I knew that logic wasn’t going to work.  (How is it that this was going in one ear and out the other when it was all in my head?  Hmmm…)

I have a  5 year old boy.  He will think this is awesome.  We live in London for crying out loud.  Every church nearby looks like a castle, and there are actual castles, so the photo possibilities are endless.  And I really want to make this.


Sometimes there is no reasoning with yourself as to why you shouldn’t get a pattern.  You need to just get it already.  Am I right?

Other “Just Get It Already” patterns.

Just buy it

Ballet Sweater, Marina RomperSwing Coat

Tell me, are any of these your main criteria for purchasing a pattern?  What are the things that you just cannot say no to, and must buy and sew immediately?  I’d love to hear!!

Renee from Nearest the Pin on KCW

PATTERNS: how to make it do more

Hi again KCW sewers – and just as the banner says, it’s Renee here from Nearest the pin. How are your plans coming along? If you’re feeling a bit ‘over’ your pattern stash, then today’s post has come at the right time. Sewed them all before? Need some more inspiration? Well today I’m here to give you a bit of inspiration as to what else you can do with your basic patterns and help you look at them with fresh eyes. Of course there is so much more you can use your patterns for than the picture on the cover and if you hang in there until the end of the post, I’ve got some top tips to help ensure success when tweaking your patterns. So, let’s get to it shall we…..


Image credits: 1. Flaskback Skinny Tee pattern – Made by Rae, 2. collared cardigan 3. sweet blouse 4. zip-up fleece top

So, you’ve made many a skinny tee, but how about some of these adaptations? Version 1, the collared cardigan  is lengthened, a collar is added, patch pockets and a facing is added for the button holes. The sweet blouse (version 2) has the addition of a unique ‘bubble’ ruffle and contrasting bias trim and finally to version 3 – have you thought about creating a flashback in fleece? Given that Rae’s pattern is ‘skinny’ you might want to size up for this one. With this version and version 1 – think about how much seam allowance you will need to add to the middle front if you want to make a facing. Of course, Rae’s pattern is not a prerequisite – any basic tee pattern will do the trick!


Image credits: 1. Clean Slate Pants by Blank Slate Patterns, 2. Harem Pants, 3. Jumpsuit, 4. Capri Pants

Any basic pants pattern will do here. To create the Harem pants you will need to cinch in the bottom of the pants leg with elastic by adding a casing or by shirring. Depending on how ‘harem’ you want them, you might decide to widen the leg pattern piece a little too. Version 2 requires the addition of a top – a good chance to combine two patterns. A word of warning on this one…. think about how your little one will get in and out of these….. do you need to add a zip? an opening with a button and loop?? Also be careful to get the overall length of the body right – nothing worse than a jumpsuit wedgie no matter what your age 😉 Perhaps this would be a great time to take Jennifer’s advice and make a muslin. The capri pants will be a cinch after the jumpsuit adaptation! After shortening the pants leg, gather the fabric, add wide wrap-around cuffs and cute buttons at the back.


Image credits: 1. Playtime Dress & Tunic by Oliver and S 2. peach dress 3. navy dress with collar 4. green dress comes from this boutique (no longer in stock), can also be seen here.

Here are some of the less ambitious changes shown in this post – but they still all look very different don’t you think? When changing a dress with sleeves to sleeveless, you will want to bring the armhole (armscye) in a bit from the shoulder to create a nice sleeveless look. The green version has a higher waistline which is not too difficult to achieve by cutting your bodice pattern off higher and lengthening the skirt. The black ruffles around the sleeve inserts are tulle which gives a great effect.


Image credits: 1. Ballet Wrap Cardigan Pattern by Heidi & Finn 2. Red tee with epaulettes (an unblogged project photo courtesy of Nearest the pin blog 3. Wrap dress with ruffles

Just in case this post was too heavy with lovely girly inspiration – here is one for the boys. Why not take the completely perfect ballet wrap cardigan from Heidi and Finn and create a wrap front tee for boys with some military inspiration (I created this tee for my son when he asked for a Ninjago t-shirt – if you don’t know what that is, no matter, we can move right along…). The addition of an A-line skirt to the wrap top creates a gorgeous dress that can be layered for the current season. I do like a bit of minimalist ruffling and I think this version works beautifully. Now onto our final piece of inspiration….


Image credits: 1. Reversible wrap top pattern by Craftiness Is Not Optional for Birch Fabrics 2. wrap dress with ribbon detail

If you have a little girl and you haven’t sewn this pattern, you must add it to your KCW list immediately! Am I being a tad bossy? I’m not apologising, this pattern is great, so simple and did I mention free? and reversible? There, no excuses 🙂 And once you’re done with your cute little wrap top (which, did I mention, is reversible….. and free), how about creating an A-line skirt and adding cute ribbon detail? Perfect!

Want to create a successful pattern adaptation? Here are my top tips for success:

1. Start simple – if you’re new to this, start small. That way you’ll get a feel for what works and what doesn’t and decrease the number of sewing fails.

2. Keep your fabric choice the same or close to the original – patterns are designed with certain fabrics in mind, so be sure to keep that in your mind when selecting your fabrics. A good general rule would be to keep knit patterns knit and keep woven patterns woven. This is not to say that this rule can’t be broken, but tread very carefully if you do…!

3. Think and think some more – when you make changes to the pattern, stop and think about the implication these changes will have. Added a seam? remember to add seam allowance too. Removed a seam? remove the seam allowance too. Made changes to the neckline? Can your child still get the garment over their head? Think about it and maybe make a muslin to be sure.

4. Leave the armscye alone – I’m not a pattern designer and experience has taught me that the sleeve and the armscye are carefully designed to fit beautifully together. Messing with it is not for the faint hearted. By all means alter your sleeve length or take the sleeve out altogether but changing the armscye on your own….that’s one for the experts.

5. Have some fun with it – enjoy the process and let your imagination run. Some projects will work out beautifully and some will be terrible but you will learn from them all and become a better sewer for the experience. Good luck!!

Phew! That was a marathon. If this post has inspired you to take your basic patterns further I’d LOVE to see. If you’re on instagram, post a photo and tag me @nearestthepin (and add the hashtag #kidsclothesweek), or send me an email with a link to your KCW projects page.

Jenn from A Jennuine Life on KCW

PATTERNS: how to make sure it will fit

So, you’ve got your patterns ready to go, fabrics gathered and you’ve measured your kid to see which size to make.  One more step in your process could be: to make a muslin or not?

Muslin or Not


A muslin is a test garment made from inexpensive fabric.  Often it’s made only for the critical pieces of the pattern, like the bodice.  Seams are sewn with basting stitches to allow for quick revisions.  A muslin doesn’t necessarily need to be from plain unbleached cotton.  The term “wearable muslin” means using fabric that isn’t as dear to your heart but will still result in an outfit that can be worn for everyday if the fit is good and the seams are re-sewn with regular stitch length.

A purist might say you should always make a muslin, but I’m a realist — who has time (or frankly, the desire?) to make a muslin for every new project?  I thought I’d share some deciding factors for whether or not to make a muslin:

Is this the first time you’re making the pattern?  Pretty straightforward, right?  If you’ve already made the pattern once (recently) then there’s no need to take a trial run.

Is your fabric precious?  If you’re using something you can pick up at your local fabric store or you’ve got yardage in your stash, then go ahead and cut into it.  If you’re talking about something like Liberty of London, vintage fabric, or you’re refashioning your Mom’s wedding dress then you probably don’t need me to tell you that a muslin might be in order!

Is the pattern fitted or flowing?  Loose-fitting garments are more forgiving for fit, so you can probably skip the muslin for a peasant dress or swing top.  Something like a structured jacket or a button-down shirt you might want to do a quick muslin for at least the major pieces.

Is your child between measurements?  If your child is in between one of the critical measurements, it’s probably worthwhile to make a test version to see if you want to make the smaller or larger size, or if you want to blend the two sizes.  Even if you’re not comfortable modifying patterns, using the width from one size and the length from another isn’t too difficult if you make sure you’re consistent about applying the different dimension.

Are you sewing a pattern from a new-to-you designer?   When you’ve sewn a couple patterns from a given designer, you begin to understand how the resulting garments will fit your child.  They’re most likely using the same pattern block, or base dimensions, to build their pattern so a 3T in one of their patterns will fit relatively similar to the next 3T.  A new designer is probably not using the same block so you might need to check the fit on your child.

Did you draft the pattern yourself or are you heavily modifying another designer’s?  Freshly-drafted patterns probably require a muslin (or two or three) and the same goes for making major adjustments to a purchased pattern.

So, will making a muslin be part of your preparations for this Kid’s Clothes Week… or Not?