Sewing Classes for 2017

I just wanted to give you all an update on current sewing classes and lessons.

I will not be teaching any sewing classes at Hobby Lobby for the foreseeable future. The classroom availability and my own schedule haven’t been very compatible, so for the time being these classes are on hold.

I am teaching classes at my local Joann store in Centerville, UT. I will try and keep my class schedule page updated with the classes I am scheduled to teach. I cannot schedule or take payment for these classes, but they can be arranged at the store or on the Joann Website.

Joann’s has two opportunities that I hope to take advantage of in the future.

  1. Create a Class – this is a custom class offering. It is for a 3 hour class on whatever topic you wish (see my 3 hour project post for a few ideas). I have yet to run a class like this, but I see it as a great opportunity to attend a class if the course catalog doesn’t have what you are looking for.
  2. Meetups at Joann – anytime the classroom is free, I (or you, or anyone) can use the classroom for a meetup. I plan to try and use this offering every month or two to host a free Open Sew. Subscribers to my newsletter will receive priority notification of these free classes, so sign up for my newsletter to get this special advanced notice.

3 Hour Sewing Project Ideas

Last month I told you all that I was planning to start sewing classes in October. I’m excited to announce that my class schedule is posted for October 2016. I’ve also updated the main page for all things related to this new endeavor.

One of the things that I’m most excited about is Open Sew. This is your chance to bring your machine and project and sew with other human beings for a few hours.

Sewing is usually a solitary activity and that is awesome in many ways. I love sewing late into the night with my Netflix or podcasts in the background. But sometimes it’s really fun to sew with a group of people who also like to sew. I always learn something new from my sewing friends.

Open Sew is for all of you who want to meet other sewing friends. It’s also a good place to get some help with a project. Want to learn how to install an invisible zipper? Bring it to Open Sew and I will show you…or any other sewing technique you might need help with.

What if you don’t have a project in mind but you want to come and sew anyway? Here are a few ideas for beginner sewers that you could most likely accomplish in a 3 hour Open Sew session.

  1. A Pillowcase (also a great Christmas Gift – I’m dreaming about a day when I give all my nieces and nephews a new pillowcase for Christmas each year)
  2. A pair of Leggings (great for you, and a great baby shower gift)img_2156
  3. A tee-shirt (my favorite kids pattern is the field trip raglan, my favorite women’s pattern is Megan Nielsen Briar)
  4. A knit pencil skirt (draft your own or use McCall’s 6654)IMG_1449


Come Sew With Me

I hinted last week on Instagram that exciting things would be happening here.

I’ve decided to start teaching sewing lessons, a little dream of mine that’s been brewing for quite a while.

Please check out my new page for a few more details. My ideas are running wild, but the truth is that I have two very demanding little ones at home, so classes will be limited to start.

Classes will start in October and will be held at Hobby Lobby in Layton, UT.

I have a feeling that the children’s classes will be most popular, but I really hope that adults will take the chance to learn to sew also. What class would you be most likely to take?


Tutorial: Using buttonhole elastic

My little man is tall and skinny which means that adjustable waistbands are essential. He’s at an awkward point right now where his 9 month pants are getting too short but the 12 month pants are too big in the waist. Unfortunately, none of his RTW 12 month pants have the buttonhole elastic that is becoming fairly common in children’s clothing.

I looked around and didn’t really see a great tutorial for using buttonhole elastic, so I decided to come up with something on my own. I also realized that tracking down the stuff is pretty challenging in itself. None of my local fabric shops carry it, neither the big chain stores or the smaller independent stores. So I ordered a big roll of it from amazon. They sell it in 1 yard packages on Wawak, but I figured I’d probably want several yards in the end so now I have a lifetime supply! Having it on a roll seems much more economical since I won’t be having so many unusable ends from single yard cuts.


This particular tutorial is designed for a pattern in which the elastic goes around the entire waist. I’m sure it could be adapted for a flat front pattern as well. I used my current favorite little pants pattern from Oliver + S, the after school pants. I have a few other Oliver + S pants that I’m sure I’ll love, but I had this one traced and cut in little man’s size so I cut a few more pairs.

The one thing I noticed about some of the RTW pants that I have is that the elastic tail is secured inside the waistband so you don’t have to worry about it getting lost in the casing. This seemed to be a concern for some in the discussion forums that I looked at when I was looking for a tutorial.

Well, here it is folks. My version of a buttonhole elastic tutorial. Let me know what you think or if you have any ideas to improve the method.

button hole elastic tutorial


Some Ideas for Your First Skirt

I think a skirt is a great project for learning to sew. There aren’t many seams and they go together fairly quickly. It’s important to have some good successes early on when learning to sew. That keeps you motivated to try more advanced techniques as your skills develop.

I’m still hesitant to recommend knits for a first sewing project. Some people seem to have trouble with knits. But knits are so easy to fit, so if you do go for a knit I recommend a ponte knit. Ponte knits are fairly thick and stable. They are the easiest as far as knits go. Ponte knits have become very popular with ready to wear (RTW) these days and most fabric stores are starting to carry a pretty good selection.

I’ve made a few skirts with McCalls 6654. It’s a great pattern and very simple. It has options for a straight skirt and a more flared skirt.

In my opinion a lightweight cotton would be the easiest for a first skirt pattern. The high-low style is really in (still I hope?). Two patterns I found that are fairly simple are McCalls 6567 and Simplicity 1662. The two patterns are practically identical, so just watch your sewing ads and see which one comes up on sale first!

If you’re feeling ready to use a zipper and add a waistband there are a lot of options. I just made a skirt using the Colette Ginger pattern. It’s lovely. You can’t get it at JoAnn or Hancock and it will cost you about $12-16 but I was surprised at how great the fit is. Although it’s an A-line skirt it still has great shaping through the hip area which is what makes it a cut above your basic A-line skirt. And it has some really cute waistband options.
If that’s not your price point, Simplicity has a good pattern in their Learn to Sew series (2314). I haven’t tried it personally, but it looks similar to the Colette Ginger with a little less curve through the hip.
Another option is Simplicity 2286. It has a more gathered flirty youthful style.
Since I’m also teaching girls sewing, I’ve been trying to find girls patterns to fit this class. It’s been really difficult. I think I might just grade down a misses pattern if I need to. If you have any that you like please let me know.

What I’ve Learned about Teaching Sewing…so far

I had my first sewing class several days ago. It was a lot of fun and a little chaotic. There were four girls (ages 11-15) and two moms. We had three sewing machines and were all together in my living room. Luckily I have a good sized living room and I purchased a few small sturdy folding tables and some extension cords.

We made an infinity scarf. I will post the tutorial soon. It was perfect for a beginning project. All straight seams and a little bit of handsewing.

I taught the girls a little bit about their sewing machines. We wound a bobbin, loaded it, and threaded the machine. Then we practiced sewing straight lines on pieces of fabric. I taught them how to secure the seam with a backstitch at each end. This concept seemed more difficult to them than I expected. They were backstitching for an inch or so every time, but I guess it doesn’t hurt anything.

One thing I read about learning to sew is that you should pay more attention to the edge of the fabric than the needle to keep your lines straight. I guess I’ve been doing it for so long that I forgot that’s how it’s done. To help the girls remember which line they need to follow I shared this little tip with them…

b481b-seamallowanceDuring our next class we’re going to start a skirt. My plan is to talk about picking a pattern, measuring for your size, choosing fabric, and preparing the fabric and pattern.


The Seam Ripper – a sewing essential

In my previous post I listed what I consider to be essentials to the beginning sewist.

The next day while I was at work I realized that I had missed a very essential item…a seam ripper.

You can buy a seam ripper for less than $2.00, but my favorite is this one from Clover.

Can you see the difference between the two seam rippers? The Clover seam ripper has a finer head (I don’t know if there is a technical term for that part that goes into the seam) which makes it easier to get between your fabrics. There’s a blade at the bottom of the U shape and the blade on the Clover is nice and sharp. And trust me, the blade does dull over time.

When I started sewing I didn’t really like unpicking seams. Now I’ve come to accept that its just part of the art of sewing. After more than 20 years of sewing I still use it almost every time I sit down to sew.


Learn to Sew – assembling your sewing kit

A few things I think are sewing essentials for every sewing kit and some tips for saving money building your kit.

Sewing essentials

  • Sewing machine
    • There are many affordable sewing machine options. I recommend buying your first machine from a local dealer as they will be able to support your machine and offer you assistance if you have any issues. If you buy an inexpensive machine from a store like Wal-Mart or Costco you will not be able to take it in if you experience any problems. A typical machine tune up costs $90 so you can easily eat up your savings with a tension issue or two.
  • Sewing scissors
    • I recommend you get a pair of scissors dedicated for use with sewing. You can buy a good quality pair of scissors for under $15 (example). Most sewing enthusiasts buy a high quality metal pair of scissors for about $25 (example) but that is not necessary.
    • A small pair of scissors or thread trimmers is nice to have, but also unnecessary.
  • Pins
    • Pins with a ball-head are my favorite. Glass-headed pins work great because they won’t melt if they get close to the iron. A pin with a finer shaft will go through fabric more easily, but finer pins also bend more easily. You can buy a small box of pins for less than $5.
  • Pincushion
    • You will need a place to keep your pins. The box the pins came it will work, but isn’t the most convenient. A fabric or magnetic pincushion will work best. You can even make your own pincushion with a scrap of fabric and some stuffing. Magnetic pincushions are $10-15. This particular pin cushion travels well because it comes with a cover.
  • Hand-sewing needle
    • Many projects require a minimal amount of hand sewing. Thinner needles are harder to thread, but usually slide through fabrics more easily.
  • Tape measure
    • A flexible tape measure is essential for taking body measurements and measuring your fabric. I prefer the non-retractable version.
  • A seam ripper
Shopping for supplies
I do not recommend that you buy a prepackaged kit. All of the stuff in those kits is cheap and not worth the $14.99 you’ll pay for the kit.
If you shop at a chain craft store like JoAnn, Hancock, Hobby Lobby, or Michaels my #1 recommendation is never pay sticker price for anything. These stores always have items on sale and coupons to cover your full price items. In general, I never pay full price for anything that costs more than $5.00 at a chain store.
The JoAnn’s in my area has very generous coupon policies. I use the print coupons, iPhone coupons, and competitor coupons all in the same transaction. Sometimes I will have 4-6 40% off coupons and they don’t even bat an eye. The Hancock in my area will only allow me to use one store coupon and one competitor coupon, so I just keep this in mind while I do my shopping.
Disclaimer: the links on this page are for illustrative purposes only. I have not personally used each item. This post is not an endorsement of any brand or store.