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Renee from Nearest the Pin on KCW

the first garment I ever made for my kids: Renee

Hi sewers/sewists/seamstresses/people who read the KCW blog, this week we thought it would be fun to have a look back at some of our earliest sewing projects. I’m going to show you the first two patterns I sewed for my daughter.

My earliest projects are not that old, I’ve only been sewing seriously for about 2 years – but they are pre-blogging. There are no photo shoot shots, just candid real life ones and mostly from my iPhone, so apologies for that. I’ll show you some of these and then talk about a few things I’ve learned between then and now.

Rae’s Big Butt Baby Pants

I didn’t even appreciate back then what a great learning pattern this is. It’s a really simple sew. I’m sure you’re all familiar with this pattern, but just in case, there is a really cute separate panel at the behind to give extra room for the nappy/diaper. It introduces sewing curves which is helpful as these curves are less intimidating than setting sleeves. For a simple pattern they still look pretty professional IMO. And apparently babies can get away with some pretty crazy fabric combinations (see below – not sure what I was thinking)!!


Abby’s Polly Peasant Dress

Also a great beginner pattern – there are only two pattern pieces, the front/back piece and the sleeve. The elasticated neckline slips over the head so there are no zips or buttons to worry about. The other great thing about this pattern is that my little girl could wear this as a dress at 15 months old and now she can still wear it, but as a tunic at 2 and a half!

Polly Peasant 1

So my first garments didn’t turn out too badly – it was when I first started sewing with knit, not too long after this that I really produced some disasters!!

What have I learned from these first sewing adventures?

1. Quilting cotton is not the best choice for clothing. Do you agree? I find it a bit stiff and scratchy – especially the fabrics I chose here which were just bought from a chain fabric store. I know some of the designer quilting cottons are of a much higher quality and nicer to wear, but generally dress fabrics are the way to go.

2. Indie patterns are the best – when you’re starting out, I’ve found that indie pattern designers really go out of their way to create easy to follow patterns with great instructions and diagrams (Obviously this is a generalisation as I haven’t tried them all). In addition to the pattern instructions you can often find further help on the designers blog in the form of further tutorials, sew-alongs and pattern tours.

3. Mistakes are ok – not every project turns out and that’s cool. While it can be really disheartening at the time, we all learn something from these argh moments and become better sewers. The key is not to let these fails erode your confidence – they happen to all of us.

So tell me, what was the first pattern you ever made for your kids? Was it an indie pattern? What is your stance on quilting cottons? Do share!


Renee from Nearest the Pin on KCW

kcw Theme: Mini Me!

Hi Kids Clothes Week enthusiasts! It’s Renee here again from Nearest the Pin. The team have a few fun round up posts planned and todays is the first. Whew! I have to say, the project pool was an amazing place to spend some time. I’m sure you’ll agree that the wealth of talent and productivity was quite amazing. In anticipation of this post, I have been keeping a keen eye out for projects that incorporated the ‘Mini Me’ theme into their KCW sewing. It wasn’t compulsory. It was just for fun. Let’s see how some of our KCW compatriots used the ‘Mini Me’ theme.

Upcycling grown up clothing

Mini Me 1

1. Erin Maupin 2. Oliver’s Fancy 3. Sew Pomona 4. Pienkel

All these ladies have very cleverly re-invented a piece of their own (or hubby’s) clothing into something new and funky for their children. What great inspiration!!

A Mini Version

Mini Me 2

1. Feathers Flights 2. marianabebe 3. Tarynt18 4. Bethany

Mini Me 3

1. Renee W 2. ahiggs 3. meganac 4. sofilantjes

Ahhhh why are little version of grown up clothes so so cute?!? Ha, and I must say, kudos to those who are not afraid of stepping out in public in matching outfits – I love it!!

Using Grown Up Fashion as Inspiration

Mini Me 4

1. erinkeith05 2. elsiemarley

These ladies very cleverly used their favourite grown up fashion inspirations and converted those into fantastic age appropriate outfits. If only I could pull off floral leggings as well as this little cutie!

Big and Little Versions for Kids

Mini Me 5

1. youandmie 2. katybellabug 3. tampete77

I will admit that I didn’t think of this interpretation of the theme prior to Kids Clothes Week – but of course! It’s a perfect way to get more than one use out of your newly purchased patterns and maybe reduce the arguments about who got what new clothes – maybe…

Anyway, what did you think of this season’s Mini Me theme? Did you enjoy a little extra inspiration point that was there if you needed it?  Theme suggestions for next season – let’s hear them….go

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.