Tuesday, September 30, 2014

my baby is three!

Last Friday Mae turned three!  I don't know where those three years went, but they are gone.  I woke up on her birthday and realized that I am done with the terrible twos, although Mae wasn't really that bad :)  I know a lot of people get sad as their kids get older, but I'm not much of a baby person (hard to believe that I had six of them!) and I truly enjoy seeing my kids grow up and slowly turn into the adults they will be some day.

On Sunday we celebrated with our "family" which actually includes quite a bit more more than just family, but to Mae, they are all family since they have been part of her life since she was born!  The theme for the day was Frozen, which I'm sure comes to no surprise to any parent of a little girl :)  Although in our house, using the word theme might be a bit of a stretch.  I don't throw Pinterest parties ... not even close!  I bought a Frozen balloon, a plastic table cloth and some plates, and my mother-in-law decorated the cake with the characters from Frozen, and we called it good ;)  I figure Mae's not going to remember the decorations anyway.

But what she will remember is her presents!  We don't go overboard with gifts, but she truly loved each and every one.  I'm happy to say that she's played with all of them several times already, and I can see her using them for a long time to come.  I'm pretty sure, at least for the moment, the bubble maker is her favorite!  She wouldn't stop popping the bubbles for long enough to look at me for a picture :)

I made her shirt the night before the party, right after I remembered that I bought the fabric a couple of months ago!  I'll try to get some better pictures to share on the blog later, because last Sunday I was focused on her and not her clothes, so this is all you get for now :)

Friday, September 26, 2014

secret garden knit top

Before I start this post, I just want to note that I received this pattern for free as part of the blog tour.  However, I only do blog tours for patterns that I wanted to sew in the first place, so you can rest assured that everything I say in this review is how I actually feel about the pattern, and it is not biased due to the pattern being free :)

I love the overall look of the Secret Garden Dress pattern, but it's a bit less than practical for the Michigan winter to come :)  So I made just a few modifications while keeping the feel of the original dress.  In other words, I kept the v-back, the bow and the circle skirt because those felt like the essential components of the pattern, but then I added sleeves and shortened the length to make the dress work better for us right now. 

I started with the size two, but since I was planning to make the dress from a knit, I knew I would need to size the dress down about one size.  Unfortunately, the pattern doesn't go any smaller than a size two, so I just winged it, and I think the fit turned out pretty good!  I eliminated the side zipper (not needed with the knit) and added binding to the neckline instead of using a lining.  I also added sleeves from the knit tee pattern I used here, shortened to just below the elbow length.  I'm not sure what you call that length, but it's not quite elbow or 3/4.  I've heard people refer to 5/8 sleeves before, and although it seems like such an odd length, I'm guessing that this is what you would call a 5/8 sleeve :)

I love circle skirts because they are so much fun for twirling, but Mae really doesn't need any dresses right now, so I drafted a high-low hem to turn the dress into a top.  I didn't hem the skirt for these pictures, since my stretch twin needle broke the other day, but I think I will hem it before Mae wears it the next time so the sides hang a little neater.

The last thing I did was finish the back of the dress with a small knit bow just below the v-back.  It's not nearly as impressive as the original flounce included in the Secret Dress pattern, but it fits the scale of the top much better.  Plus it's a bit more practical for tucking into snow pants when it's -20 outside!

Red Stripe - Funkaliscious Fabrics
Bindings & Bow - Cotton/Rayon jersey from fabric.com
Leggings & Shoes - Target

If you want to buy your own Secret Garden Dress pattern, use the code "SGTOUR25" until the end of the day Saturday either in the Etsy shop or on the E+M website.  Or you can purchase through Craftsy which already reflects the discounted price.

Here are a few links for you to check out - the blog tour has so many great versions of the Secret Garden Dress!

September 22
September 23
September 24
September 25
September 26

Make sure to enter the giveaway for patterns from all these great sponsors before you go!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

pattern review - greenstyle everyday yoga pants

I'm sure you've seen plenty of blog posts lately about Perfect Pattern Parcel #5, so I will get right into the pattern review.  If you want to learn more make sure to click on the link above or scroll down to the end of this post to see all of the patterns included in the bundle.

I chose to make the Greenstyle Girl's Everyday Yoga Pants, times two :)  Originally, I was only going to make a pair for Gracie, but I loved them so much, I made an identical pair for Mae!  Gracie is in competitive gymnastics for the first time this year, and as a result, so she no longer walks around the house like a normal person.  She tumbles.  And cartwheels.  And when she does walk, it's on her hands :)  All of which calls for comfy clothes.  And it doesn't get much more comfy than yoga pants!

Gracie normally wears an 8 slim, and I never know what size to make her, so I took a quick look at the sizing chart, which said that Gracie should wear an XL!  That didn't seem quite right, but all it took was one visit to the Greenstyle Patterns Facebook page to determine that the size chart is supposed to say waist measurement, not hip measurement.  So armed with that knowledge, I referenced the chart a second time, and determined that Gracie needs a size Medium, which makes way more sense since that is a size 7-8!  I think the pattern runs more like the smaller size listed, which is great for my skinny girl, but I did have to add 1" to the length.  Since the pattern seemed to run on the smaller end I decided to use the size 4-5 (XS) to make a pair for Mae who normally wears a 2-3.  I used a 3/8" seam allowance rather than the 1/4" called for in the pattern and cut 2" off the length, and the fit is perfect.  And, best of all, Mae loves having pants that match her big sister.  Although Gracie is less than thrilled to match her little sister :)  I guess I can't win everything!

Solid Knit - Ponte from Joann's
Striped Knit - Cotton Lycra from FunkaliciousFabrics

Pattern Parcel #5: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

Pattern Parcel #5: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

Parcel #5: Girls and Tweens includes: 
Lily Knit Blazer by Peek-a-Boo Patterns
Everyday Yoga Pant for Girls by Greenstyle
Asymmetrical Drape Top by EYMM
Playhouse Dress by Fishstick Designs
Mimi Dress and Shirt by Filles a Maman

BONUS PATTERN: Sunki Dress by Figgy’s
Choose a price of $28 or greater for Parcel #5 and you will automatically also be sent the Bonus Pattern! The Bonus Pattern for this Parcel is the Sunki Dress by Figgy's. Fun pockets, a stylish silhouette, plus make it in knit or woven. Double bonus! The pattern includes both size runs, so you get 18 months through a 16 tween sizing. This is awesome sauce!

How Pattern Parcel Works:
Here at Perfect Pattern Parcel, we believe in supporting independent pattern designers. It’s our opinion that indie patterns are just, well, better than big box patterns, and we’re pretty sure our customers think so too. So, we allow customers to show their support in naming their own price for each Parcel.  We also encourage customers to allocate part of their Parcel price to the charity Donorschoose.org in order to help classrooms in need. Pattern Parcel donates all profits after expenses from Parcel sales to the charity as well. Together we've raised over $11,000 for classrooms in need!

If you have a chance, make sure to check out the other blogs participating the the Parcel #5 Inspiration Tour:

Friday, September 19 Pienkel || Cookin' and Craftin'

Saturday, September 20 Sew Busy Lizzy || The Life Of A Compulsive Crafter

Sunday, September 21 Keep Calm and Carrion || Felt With Love Designs

Monday, September 22 Radiant Home Studio || Sewing Sober

Tuesday, September 23 Sew Fishsticks || La Pantigana || Amanda Rose

Wednesday,September 24 Shawnta Sews || Sprouting JubeJube || Knot Sew Normal

Thursday, September 25 Make It Perfect || Mimi's Mom || Climbing the Willow

Friday, September 26 Needle and Ted || Our Family Four

Saturday, September 27 Froo & Boo

Sunday, September 28 Stitches by Laura || Vicky Myers creations

Monday, September 29 Cookin' and Craftin' || The Crazy Tailor

Tuesday, September 30 mama says sew || FABulous Home Sewn || The Inspired Wren

Wednesday, October 1 lady and the gents || That's-Sew-Kari || Sewing Sober

Thursday,October 2 Gracious Threads || Blogs Like A Mother || SewsNBows

Friday, October 3 sew chibi || Lulu & Celeste || Made by Sara

Thursday, September 18, 2014

sew it all series - japanese patterns: jacket

As of today, Mae's capsule wardrobe is done!  I love every single piece and I know that they will all get lots of wear, although not necessarily together.  I'm going to be honest and say that it didn't turn out exactly how I thought it would, but then again, nothing ever does :) 

Mae's cropped jacket is pattern V from this book.  I was quite impressed with the quality of this pattern.  The pattern pieces went together perfectly, and the instructions, although fairly complicated, were well illustrated.  I would not consider this a beginner pattern, but I don't think it was overly complicated either.  It just had a lot of steps and little things like grainline and precision seam allowances made a huge difference for the finished product :)

I stuck with the size 100 for the pattern since it seems to fit Mae with just a bit of room to grow, and I thought this fits true to size.  I didn't make any changes to the pattern this time, but I think I may try a longer winter version with the full length sleeves from pattern W in the book either this year or next.  I'll probably end up lining it for warmth too rather than using facings.

I'm chose to use fine wale corduroy, but I wouldn't recommend that choice to anyone.  The pleats on the front and back pieces are not lined up along the grainline due to the slight curve of the pieces, so the wale of the corduroy looks a little odd along the pleats.  It's not very noticeable (honestly, it's probably only noticeable to me!) but it was a little annoying for the simple reason that I really wanted to sew with the wale perfectly lined up along the pleat, and I knew I shouldn't :)

I usually try not to do too many posed shots with the kids, but I had to share this one.  Today is the first day that when I told Mae to smile she didn't bare her teeth like I was going to be eaten as the main course for her next meal!  She's actually smiling, you know, like a normal person :)

Fabric - Kaufman 21 wale corduroy in ginger
Snaps - Kamsnaps - Metallic Bronze
Dress - blogged here

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

sew it all series - japanese pattern book: pants & tunic

So far, Mae's Japanese inspired wardrobe consists of a skirt, a dress, a pair of leggings and a knit shirt.  In today's post I'm adding a pair of linen pants and a knit tunic. Originally I was going to separate this outfit into two posts, but I feel that these pieces are the most authentically Japanese of everything I have sewn and they belong together to maintain the aesthetic. 

The pants pattern is from this book which only includes sizes 80 and 90.  I've been sewing size 100 so far, but I knew by looking at the pattern pieces that the size 90 would be plenty wide, so I started there. I compared the leg length of the pattern to some pants that fit Mae currently and realized that I was going to have to add quite a bit to the length. And when I say quite a bit, I mean quite a bit! I ended up lengthening the pattern pieces by four inches which still feels like too much for only going up one size. And height wise Mae is actually closer to the size 90, so I can't help but think I did something wrong :) Oh well, at least the pants fit!

Normally I'm not a fan of pleated pants, but they are so much more practical for Mae since she can get them up and down by herself. And apparently they also give her the freedom to turn into Spider Man and scale the walls ... while taking pictures I might add :)

Now for the tunic. I really did not expect to like this top as much as I do! Although these Birch Organic knits seem to be hugely popular in blog land, I don't normally like 100% cotton knits. I generally prefer that my knits have a little lycra in them because they seem to have better recovery. However, this pattern is designed in such a way that I was able to treat the fabric like a woven.  Plus the neckline is interfaced so it holds it's shape without a problem. What I really do like about the fabric is that it is soft and has a lovely drape, which is perfect for this tunic pattern!

The tunic pattern is from this book. I sewed the size 100 which is slightly big so Mae has some growing room, but it's not so big as to be unwearable now. This was a fairly easy pattern to sew, and I like that the finished top (especially the neckline) appears more difficult and time consuming than it really was. The only change I made was to omit the hidden snap closure on the notched neckline. The top doesn't gape (and I didn't have any sew-on snaps on hand anyway!) so I chose not to worry about it.

And just like the other day, when Mae is done taking pictures, she is DONE!!!! She spent the rest of the outing running back and forth in the little corridor created by the trees and the pool fence :)

Top - Birch Organics Interlock Knit Poppies in Sun from fabricworm.com
Pants - Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in Indigo from fabric.com
Shoes - Target

Monday, September 15, 2014

sew it all series - japanese pattern book: knit basics

Today, as part of the Sew it All series, I made two basic knit pieces for Mae, both from this book.  The leggings are pattern #9 sewn in a size 100.  I didn't make any changes to the pattern, and they fit wonderfully.  In fact, Mae is wearing them as I write this :)  I used a ponte knit from Joann's, which I used previously (blogged here) and absolutely love.  It sews beautifully, and now that I've washed the sweatshirt several times, I know that it holds up to every day wear and tear really well too.

I was only going to make the leggings, but then I realized that Mae needs some basic tees too, and the book just happened to have a knit shirt pattern :)  I started with pattern #28 and added the long sleeves from #30.  I did shorten the sleeves a bit and add cuffs just because I felt like it.  I really don't have a better reason, and I don't even think I necessarily prefer cuffs, but I guess I couldn't sew two patterns in a row as is!  I felt the need to make at least one change so this didn't turn into the most boring blog post ever :)

For the more observant reader, you may have noticed that I didn't include this fabric in my original blog post about Mae's Japanese capsule wardrobe.  That's because I made this shirt on a whim and this is one of the few appropriate fabrics I had on hand.  I know it doesn't fit in with the other fabrics, but it's a Japanese print, which is good enough for me!

Top - Organic Kawaii knit
Leggings - Ponte knit from Joann's

Thursday, September 11, 2014

sew it all series - japanese pattern book: dress

For the first item in Mae's capsule wardrobe, I sewed a denim suspender skirt, which you can find here in case you missed it.  Continuing with the theme of sewing a coordinating wardrobe from Japanese sewing books, the next item is a dress.  The pattern is from this book and I blogged about this (almost) exact dress here last year.  The first dress was a constant favorite with both Mae and I, but it was really getting too tight across the shoulders and upper arms, so I decided a new dress was in order.

The dress is a combination of patterns from the book, all in a size 100.  The bodice is Dress A type 1 (page 6), as is the skirt except with the back skirt piece cut on the fold because I didn't want to continue the snap placket all the way down the dress.  The 3/4 sleeves are from Dress B type 3 (page 18).  So far, this pattern book has the best fitting clothes for Mae, so I can see myself using the patterns many more times :)

When I first decided to sew Mae a dress, I chose the fabric before I chose the pattern.  I wasn't feeling particularly inspired, so I went to Joann's and just looked around for a while.  I know I stated in this post that I rarely use quilting cottons, but while I was browsing, I came across this grey and navy print from Jules & Coco.  As soon as I felt it (very soft!) and saw the beautiful drape, I chose to ignore that it was shelved with the quilting cottons.  Mae must have agreed with me because she carried it on her lap until we got to the cutting counter, petting it the entire time!

I really love sewing from Japanese patterns, but for some reason I don't style Mae's clothes remotely like the books.  For example, most of the books feature solid fabrics, or a small/subtle print.  Every once in a while, there is a shirt made from a striped fabric.  But what you rarely see is a print combined with another print.  I tried to choose a print for this dress that I felt was in keeping with the Japanese aesthetic (subtle with minimal colors) but I couldn't help pairing it with metallic polka dot tights and sparkly boots.  I promise I tried!  I even got out the solid tights and the pewter colored shoes, but I just couldn't do it :)  I think Michigan weather is sometimes just bland enough that I need color and pizazz to make it though the day.  Don't get me wrong, Michigan has many beautiful days as well, but today just wasn't one of them!

If you are interested in learning more about the author/designer of this Japanese sewing book, head over to Nutta who is doing a review of the book today.  And while you're there, check out the cute dress and coat sewn by Marisa from thirtynine!

And with that ... we are outta here!

Dress - Jules & Coco Eclipse from Joann's
Snaps - Kamsnaps
Tights - Mini Boden
Boots - H&M

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

sew it all series - japanese pattern book: skirt

Today I'm guest posting over at Nutta as part of the Sew Japanese series.  For this whole week, Shino is focusing on various Japanese pattern designers and their sewing books!  As someone who speaks (and reads) absolutely no Japanese, I'm excited to actually learn about the designers who design these wonderful patterns!  And, if you head over to Nutta, you will also find two lovely tunics sewn by Marte from Do Guincho!

This skirt is pattern R in this book and includes sizes 100, 110, 120 & 130.  I chose to sew the size 100 even those Mae is only about 93 cm tall at the moment.  We have pretty long winters here in Michigan and I need to sew clothes that will last through next April, so everything tends to be a bit big in September :)  I think the patterns fits true to size and Mae should be able to wear it through the entire season.  Although if our weather if anything like last year, Mae will not be in a skirt and tights at all since you can not keep little legs warm in subzero temperatures without many layers, and wearing snowpants under a skirt is not the look I'm going for :)

I made a couple of small changes to the pattern.  First, I changed the side opening from a zipper to a snap placket.  I love the snap placket, and I would like to say that it was a design choice, but the truth is I could not figure out how the pattern designer wanted me to install the zipper and there was no diagram to show me either, so I improvised!

Edited to add: Shino graciously translated the steps for me, so if I choose to sew this skirt again, I will be installing the zipper!  And just in case anyone out there is planning to use this pattern, the instructions for the zipper are on pages 46 & 47 :)

The second thing I changed was to feed the straps through button holes on the skirt and close them with a snap rather than using buttons.  Again, I would love to say that this was intentional, but I just couldn't find two matching buttons that worked with the skirt, so I tried something else, and thankfully it worked!

The last change I made was to add little pleats to the front and back of the skirt.  Yet again, not intentional :)  I was so busy trying to make the snap placket work that I forgot the side seams have a larger seam allowance than the rest of the skirt.  It wasn't until I had the sides all sewn and the snap placket done that I realized the waistband didn't fit.  Rather than take apart the entire skirt I added two small pleats each on the front and the back.  I really prefer the skirt without pleats, but I didn't feel that it changes the design aesthetic enough to justify remaking the entire thing.  I guarantee that Mae doesn't know the difference and wouldn't care even if she did!

Stretch Denim - Joann's
Top - Nell Top blogged here
Tights - Mini Boden
Boots - H&M

Monday, September 8, 2014

sew it all series - japanese sewing book capsule wardrobe

When I started writing this post about capsule wardrobes I could not shake this mental image of very basic, unflattering, all black pregnancy clothes that were sold in sets at JCPenney in the late 90s.  Fortunately maternity clothes have come a long way since then :)  Anyway, for the next two weeks I'm going to focus on building a capsule wardrobe for Mae from patterns found in various Japanese sewing books.  In my mind, a capsule wardrobe consists of neutral (but not just black!) basics that can be easily mixed & matched with each other and with many items sewn in the future.  Most often they are sewn from solid fabrics such as denim or linen, but a simple print can also be used as long as the color is fairly neutral.  Here's a little taste of the navy, grey and gold color scheme that I'm using for Mae's new clothes:

I started by choosing the patterns I wanted to make and then selected fabrics based on those patterns.  I'll share more about each individual project over the next two weeks including reviews of  the sewing books.  But for now, here's a general overview of each project:
  1. Knit Tunic - Birch Organic knit
  2. Basic Pull-on Pants - Robert Kaufman linen blend
  3. Skirt - Indigo stretch denim
  4. Jacket - Robert Kaufman 21 wale corduroy
  5. Dress - Jules & Coco cotton print
  6. Leggings - Cotton/spandex knit
My goal for the next two weeks is to try to create a good foundation to build off of later.  For example, a basic denim skirt is a great neutral and should match most of the tops that I sew for Mae this fall.  And even thought the knit tunic is not necessarily a neutral color, the pattern is fairly subtle in person and should match almost any solid colored bottom that I sew.  The only fabric that I feel is not as neutral or matchy is the cotton print for the dress.  But since the dress does not have to be worn with any of the other items, and might actually be a bit boring in a solid, I chose a print that I liked.  Although I did stay in the same general color family so it can be worn with the leggings or the jacket if I choose to pair them that way later.

I'm excited to share the finished clothes on the blog because I really love them!  Sometimes when I'm done sewing a project all I can do is look at it and wonder what in the world I was thinking, but with all the planning ahead I'm doing this time, I hope to avoid that feeling for a while :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

sew it all series - fabric!!!

Just in case you missed any of the other planning posts in the Sew It All series, you can find them here:

There is no doubt at all that choosing the perfect fabric is my favorite part of planning my sewing project.  After all, who doesn't love an excuse to buy more fabric!  But before I visit the store (either brick & mortar or online) and buy every fabric I like with no regard to what I need, I sit down and look through the patterns I plan to use and determine which fabric will work best for each project.  I try to keep in mind the season that the clothing will be worn, the fabric that the pattern calls for and the intended use for the finished item i.e. children's everyday clothes should not be made from dry clean only fabrics unless you are a glutton for punishment or independently wealthy.  And I don't know about you, but I don't want to end up wearing lightweight linen pants combined with a floral rayon challis top in the middle of a sub-zero Michigan winter, so a little planning is called for :)

Here are a few of my favorite fabrics for various articles of clothing.  Keep in mind that this list is geared more towards kids than adults, but I would use many of these fabrics in projects for myself as well.
  • Linen - I know I said that it's not practical in Michigan winters, but linen comes in many weights, and even the lighter weights can be lined.  I tend to like natural fibers, and linen is currently my favorite for pants, dresses and lightweight tops.
  • Corduroy - Very practical for our Michigan winters, but the lighter weight varieties can even be used in warmer climates.  I prefer 100% cotton corduroy and tend to like the 21 wale best for skirts, dresses and pants.  I also like uncut cord, which has a suede-like feel, for outerwear.
  • Cotton/Spandex Knits - My personal favorite for leggings and fitted tops.  Look for a version with at least 50% cross grain stretch (and preferably vertical stretch as well) with good recovery for the best results.
  • Ponte Double Knit - A firmer knit with less stretch but more structure.  I love ponte knits for comfortable tops with a structured look (such as a fitted peplum) and for colored skinny jeans.
  • Stretch Denim - I love denim for almost any type of garment, but when I am sewing for a small child, I like the denim to have some stretch.  Generally I look for cotton (or sometimes cotton/polyester) denim that contains 1-3% spandex which has enough stretch to make fitted pants comfortable.  Interesting fact - Lycra is a brand name of spandex the same as Kleenex is a brand name of tissues :)
  • Rayon Challis - Lovely fabric for flowing tops, dresses and skirts.  It irons beautifully too.  It's probably not well suited to Michigan in winter, but I tend to use lots of layers so we make it work.
  • Cotton Voile - Makes the most beautiful lightweight summer tops.  I don't think I'll be using it much for the next few months :)
  • Cotton Velour - My favorite fabric for sweatshirts and sweatpants in Michigan.  It's cozy and comfortable, which I'm sure is why Old Navy sells so many pairs of velour yoga pants each and every year!
  • Upcycled fabric - I'm not as picky about the content of the fabric when it's upcycled.  I'm just drawn to the idea of reusing instead of buying new. Besides, you can often get some garments made from truly lovely fabrics that you might not be able to find at your local fabric store.
There are a few fabrics you won't see on my list that are very widely used in home sewing.  The most notable fabric missing is probably quilting cotton.  I know that it is easy to work with and comes in the widest variety of prints of pretty much any fabric in existence, but I don't use it very often.  I'm not a fan of the lack of natural drape associated with many quilting cottons, and the styles of clothing that I make (and wear) most often aren't well suited to the fabric at all.  For many years I used almost exclusively quilting cotton , but lately I find myself migrating towards knit and higher end wovens.  Since I sew clothes that are worn on a daily basis, mostly by a 2 year old who has no respect for clothing, I like to use high quality fabrics that can hold up to the daily grind.

Since I tend to spend a bit more money for my fabric than I used to, I'm learning to buy exactly what I need with a purpose for every piece.  For example, I will buy a few yards of stretch denim instead of one and then I will use it to make a pair of pants, a skirt and a jacket.  I use the fabric much more efficiently when I make multiple items from one piece, and I end up with significantly less scraps when I am finished.  Which is a really good thing because I am not a scrap buster kind of girl!  And then there is the added benefit of knowing that everything I make should mix and match fairly easily leaving me with less of those "I love it, but it goes with nothing and will never get worn" kind of projects :)

If you choose to follow along with my sewing projects over the next few months, you will see several fabric repeats and a definite theme to the colors and prints.  I know each project may not be really exciting on it's own, but I'm hoping to show how simple it is to create a complete wardrobe.  I would love to see more people sew for themselves and their kids, and I'm hoping that this series will inspire someone to at least give it a try!

If you really do want to follow this series, I encourage you to follow me on Bloglovin' or Facebook so you don't miss any posts :)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

sew it all series - choosing patterns

Just in case you missed any of the other planning posts in the Sew It All series, you can find them here:

Today, I am going to focus on patterns.  In my experience, for the average home sewer, this means first figuring out which patterns (either printed or pdf) you already own and matching them to your needs.  It seems that anyone who has been sewing for a while has amassed quite a collection of patterns, and often those patterns will work with little or no modifications.  I am not one to buy a ton of new patterns (unless they are Japanese Sewing books which I love!) when I can easily make a few changes to patterns I already own, or even draft my own pattern if my modest collection comes up short.  I realize that not everyone has the desire to modify or draft patterns, and if that is the case, so you may want to take a look at this post to find a pattern - if you can't find a pattern from the links in that list, then it probably doesn't exist!

If you are new to sewing and just starting to collect patterns - and collect is the right word since they tend to accumulate quite quickly :) - here is a (surprisingly short) list of what I would consider to be basic patterns:
  • Pants - Bonus points if there are directions for shorts also
  • Basic Knit Top - Should include both long and short sleeves
  • (Girl) Basic Bodice Dress - Try to find one that includes sleeves and possibly a few variations
  • (Boy) Button up shirt - One of the best boy sewing projects
  • Hoodie/Cardigan/Sweatshirt - Not entirely necessary but very satisfying to sew
  • (Girl) Gathered Skirt - A great beginner project that doesn't really require a pattern; there are lots of free tutorials for this one
If you are looking for some inspiration, here are a few of my favorite patterns that I have featured on the blog in the past. Click on the pictures if you would like to read the original posts :)  And the pattern links are in the captions under the pictures.

http://www.climbingthewillow.com/2014/06/pdf-pattern-designers-mostly.html http://www.climbingthewillow.com/2014/06/pdf-pattern-designers-mostly.html
Hosh Pants - Great unisex basic pull-on pants pattern by LouBee Clothing

http://www.climbingthewillow.com/2013/05/vintage-geranium-dress.html http://www.climbingthewillow.com/2013/09/pattern-review-friday-lotus-actually.html
Geranium Dress - Lovely & versatile dress pattern by Made by Rae (shown with modifications)

http://www.climbingthewillow.com/2013/05/pattern-review-friday-japanese-pattern.html http://www.climbingthewillow.com/2013/11/pattern-review-japanese-pattern-book.html
Japanese Sewing Books - I love the variety of patterns available in these books.  I currently own 12 of them and plan on sewing from them quite a bit through this series

http://www.climbingthewillow.com/2014/04/lotta-dress-pattern-tour-on-compagniem.html http://www.climbingthewillow.com/2014/08/pattern-review-compagniem-mara-blouse.html
CompagnieM. Patterns - High quality, timeless & classic patterns

http://www.climbingthewillow.com/2014/03/my-little-disney-girl.html http://www.climbingthewillow.com/2013/10/kcw-day-7-izzy-dress.html
My own Izzy Top - After all, I wouldn't have bothered to draft the pattern and sew several variations if it wasn't a favorite :)

I can't possibly list all the patterns I like in this post, but you can see more of my pattern reviews here.  There are also quite a few patterns that I've sewn but haven't blogged about yet.  I will add reviews for some of them over the next few months including: