7 Unique Skirt Patterns

For those who are new to sewing, there’s no better pattern to try than a handmade skirt.  DIY skirts can often be made in less than a few steps, and it’s super easy to obtain all the measurements you need in no time.  Flattering for several body shapes and sizes, skirts make a great fashion staple for year-round comfort and style.

Patterns like the Dollar Store Petal Skirt are great for beginners and thrifty crafters.  Made with items you can easily find at a dollar store (or items you might even have in your craft stash already), this skirt is great for kids and adults of all ages and requires very little measuring and assembly.

The Easy Breezy Skirt is also a great one for those with little to no sewing experience.  Worked up in a simple pattern and pieced together using a sewing machine, this skirt is the perfect project for beginning crafters who are looking for something unique and fun to make that easily transitions from work to play.

And speaking of play, who doesn’t love this awesome Recycled Umbrella Skirt?  Unlike anything you’ll probably see in stores, this cool skirt is the perfect way to put that broken umbrella to use.  This pattern also lends itself well to mixing and matching fabrics, textures, and styles.

As an added bonus, we’re throwing in a special giveaway that you’re sure to love.  Scroll on down to find out how you can win an awesome book filled with simple skirt patterns to flatter every body type.

 

7 Unique Skirt Patterns

  1. Easy Breezy Skirt
  2. Classic Origami Skort
  3. Dollar Store Petal Skirt
  4. Crocheted Skirt
  5. The Peggy Skirt
  6. Florida Beach Skirt
  7. Recycled Umbrella Skirt

 

BONUS!  Can’t get enough skirt patterns?  Check out our new giveaway, Stylish Skirts: 23 Easy-to-Sew Skirts to Flatter Every Figure.  Filled with simple sewing patterns for making skirts to flatter every body type, this book is great for sewists who are looking for creative ways to dress their body type.  You have until August 22th to enter, and you can enter to win once a day…so the more you return, the greater your chances of winning this awesome giveaway!  Head on over to the giveaway page now and register to win today!  Good luck!

Summer Lovin’: How to Sew a Bag for the Beach

12 Beautiful Tote Purse Patterns eBook

Going to the beach is right up there with barbeques, outdoor concerts, and fireworks when it comes to the quintessential summer activities. If you are a total beach babe, you know that having the perfect beach bag can make or break your day at the beach. A bag that is too hefty or too small can mean a lot of inconvenience. That is why we have collected these tutorials that will show you exactly how to sew a bag that is perfect for some fun in the sun. Summer Lovin’: How to Sew a Bag for the Beach has everything you need to create a beach bag you will love and adore for many, many summers to come.

My favorite beach bag is a tote bag I purchased long ago. It is old enough to get sandy, sturdy enough to stand upright on my towel, and big enough to carry all of my essentials. I have a hard time finding the right size bag. If a bag is too big, I end up filling it with things I insist I might need at the beach. This means I’m lugging a heavy bag with a few too many books, some snorkeling equipment I won’t be using, and sometimes even my phone charger. All of these patterns show you how to sew a bag that is the perfect size for your essentials. So, sew one of these up, pack up your beach towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, favorite guilty pleasure reading material, and any other essentials, and get ready to get your tan on.

How to Sew a Bag for the Beach

1. Swimming Bag Tutorial Bottom-right
2. Hooded Towel Backpack Bottom-center
3. Canvas Beach Bag Top-left
4. Insulated Bag Tutorial
5. Beach Bag and Towel in One
6. Summer Fling Bag Tutorial Top-right
7. Super Shark Satchel
8. Shower Curtain Beach Bag
9. Hooded Beach Towel Backpack Bottom-left
10. Fab Flamingo DIY Tote Bag Top-center

If you adore these bags and want to learn how to sew a bag for any occasion, check out 27 Patterns to Sew Purses + 6 New Coin Purses and our Sewing Bags: Tutorial’s You’ll Love & 15 Free Purse Sewing Patterns eBook.

Are you an active beach-goer or a sleep in the sun beach-goer?

Sew Much Fun: Scenes From SNAP!

While I consider myself to be a pretty adventurous person, I must say that I’m always scared to try a new craft. I get so intimidated – What if I don’t catch on? What if I can’t make anything that looks good? Well, during my time at the SNAP! Conference in Salt Lake City, I conquered a major fear and learned something new – I can sew!

Sewing was a huge aspect of SNAP! Companies like BabyLock and Simplicity were on hand to show off new products and bloggers lined up to take classes in the sewing room. A variety of sewing and quilting classes were taught by top bloggers like Dana from Dana Made It and Amy from Diary of a Quilter.

I attended the Silk Screened Knit Patchwork Scarf class without any expectations. However, when I walked in and saw the sewing machines, I started to sweat. Luckily, I made some new friends in my class (shout out to Jonie from Just Between Friends, Karly from Paisley Roots and Crystal from That’s What She Crafted) and with the help of my amazing instructor, Ashley from Lil Blue Boo, I completed a scarf that I actually want to wear! I even took a picture with her that was Elizabeth and liZ from Simple Simon & Co. posted on Instagram.

 

I also had a chance to sew a Tissue Holder at the BabyLock booth. That’s right people, I used a sewing machine twice (after not sewing since Home Economics class in 8th grade). Tori, one of the BabyLock representatives, walked me through the process and made it so easy! Now I have a pretty pink tissue holder to match my handmade pink scarf!

babylock1

 

I guess now I can call myself a sewer … or at least a sewing enthusiast. But I do know one thing – I couldn’t have done it without my new friends from SNAP!

BONUS! SNAP! Blogger Sewing Patterns We Love:

  1. Necktie Wine Tote from A Jennuine Life
  2. Easy Ragged Baby Blanket from Simple Simon & Co.
  3. Easy Embellished Shirt or Tank from A Girl and a Glue Gun
  4. DIY Chevron Pencil Skirt from Sugar Bee Crafts

 

 

Don’t forget – We’re giving away a SNAP! Conference Swag Bag!

One lucky winner will received everything from stencils to Duck Tape (we even threw in a pair of stylish earrings). This contest ends Sunday at 11:59 p.m., so enter now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quilting for Life: How to Sew a Quilt

AllFreeSewingWhen people hear the word “quilting,” most automatically assume that it’s an all-encompassing term for the art of sewing together patchwork blankets and nothing more. We over at AllFreeSewing know that isn’t the case and that quilting is so much more than blankets. “Quilting” is the art of sewing together layers of fabric to create a thicker and padded material, and blankets happen to be the most common quilting project. You can make many varieties of home decor and accessories with quilting fabric!

Blankets are the most popular and common, of course, and with good reason. They’re basically one large rectangle that you an create as big or as small as you want, and blankets are always handy in a house, no matter the season. With some sturdier fabric, you can also create a picnic blanket! You can also create smaller quilted pieces, like table runners, place mats, tablecloths, oven mitts, pot holders, and coasters. If you’re also looking to create some great quilted accessories, try your hand at some sturdy quilted bags; they provide the durability of fabric but with added strength.

 

Quilts

The classic quilted project – an actual quilt. Whether you’re looking to make a smaller baby quilt or a larger one to fit over an adult bed, you can find all the inspiration you need with these classic quilting squares and patterns.

Starflower BlockButterfly Garden Quilt 

Adorable Pinwheel Quilt

Starflower Block Tutorial

Spin on the Pinwheel Block

 

Home Decor

Does your kitchen need a makeover? Sew up some great DIY home decor pieces with these easy quilting projects. Choose between table runners, over mitts, and pot holders for a fab new look!

2 Hour Stack and Slash Table Runner
2 Hour Stack and Slash Table Runner

Tea Time Mug Rug

Scrap Happy Table Runner

Reversible Quickie Coaster

Scrapbuster Fall Pillow

 

Quilted Bags and Purses

A fabric bag is very durable, and it’s very easy to make. In order to be sturdy enough to carry, say, groceries home from the store or market, the fabric needs to be thick and strong. You can even make smaller cosmetic bags to contain all your makeup when traveling.

Chevron Purse

Fat Quarter Bag

Chevron Purse

Quintessential Quilted Bag

Quilted Clutch Purse

Quilted Cell Phone Pouch

 

 

 

A Quilter's Ark
BONUS – Can’t get enough quilt block patterns? AllFreeSewing and Martingale are teaming up to give away A Quilter’s Ark! Full of animal quilt block patterns, A Quilter’s Ark is the perfect pattern book for the animal lover in your life. With over fifty animals to choose from, the quilt possibilities are endless! Enter daily from 4/14 – 4/28 to win!

 

 

 

What’s your favorite quilting project?

 

Color Blocking and Upcycled Clothing Ideas

9 Ways to Transform Old T-Shirts

Color blocking is slated to come back in full force over the next few months. As the sun comes out and our world gets just a bit brighter, our clothes should be doing the same. Color blocking is an amazing way to wear bright, stunning colors while still looking chic. Plus, many color blocking pieces are extremely flattering and slimming. Mostly black pieces can really help you look trim and adding color blocking to those pieces means you do not have to sacrifice flair. Whether you are looking for a color block dress pattern or searching for a DIY t-shirt reconstruction, one of these 9 Color Blocking and Upcycled Clothing Ideas will surely become a staple in your already fantastic wardrobe.

I personally love color blocking on clothes. It never really goes out of a style and always looks timeless and vintage. One of my favorite dresses in my closet is a mod color blocked dress that features big splashes of blue. Plus, color block pieces are so simple that you can pretty much pair them with anything. If you like big jewelry, you can go totally 80s with chunky, costume jewelry. If you are more of a subtle girl, you can wear a simple pearl necklace with a color blocked piece to look like a sassy Audrey Hepburn.

I have compiled these particular projects together because they combine my love of color blocking and bright colors with my love of t-shirt reconstruction. Many of these mod and fab pieces are created by upcycling t-shirts and other clothing. I just love to be able to give new life to an old piece. It saves you money and gives you a sassy new wardrobe in the process.

15 Minute Tuxedo SkirtColor Block Dress and Skirt Projects

Refashioned 1960s Mod Dress
Color Block T-Shirt Dress
Tank Top Make Over Dress
15 Minute Tuxedo Skirt (Pictured left)
How to Make a Skirt Longer
Party-Ready Jersey Dress Tutorial

 

Thrifty Refashioned Infinity ScarfOther Color Block Upcycled Projects

Thrifty Refashioned Infinity Scarf (Pictured right)
Draped Color Block Tee
Color Block DIY Pants

 

 

What other 60s trend do you wish would come back in full force?

Memory Craft 9900 Giveaway from FaveQuilts and Janome

The editors at FaveQuilts cannot contain our excitement over our latest big giveaway sponsored by one of the longest-running and most successful craft product companies around, Janome. This is for more than just quilters; needle crafters of any kind in need of a sewing machine that’s as versatile as they are will be missing out if they don’t enter our giveaway for a Memory Craft 9900.

Until June 2nd, FaveQuilts will be running this exciting new giveaway on our site. This means one lucky winner will have their chance to start sewing with a brand new Memory Craft 9900 machine worth $4,999 gifted by the gracious staff at Janome.

When it comes to innovation in sewing machines, there’s no one who can design one like Janome, and the excitement in the crafting community already can attest to that! Not only does this machine have incredible helpful processes, as well as improved speeds and an increased memory for more embroidery, but also improved attachments and holders to make even the simplest needle threading take no time at all. If you’re excited to hear more about this latest product, be sure to  read the full review on FaveQuilts.

Janome Memory Craft 9900

Ready to enter? Here’s how:
1.    Like the FaveQuilts Facebook page.
2.   Like the Janome Facebook page.
3.   Fill out the entry form on FaveQuilts.com.
4.    Make sure you enter by June 2nd.

National Sewing Month: My Favorite Sewing Projects

 

Dear Readers,

It’s National Sewing Month! To celebrate, AllFreeSewing.com is hosting a special blog series throughout the entire month. Check back daily for posts featuring our favorite projects, new sewing videos and tutorials, guest blogs from talented designers and more. We’re also giving away a HUGE sewing prize at the end of the month. You won’t believe how EASY it is to WIN!

Leave a comment on any of the blog posts that have the headline “National Sewing Month”. Your comment will count as an entry into the giveaway. You are free to comment as often as once per blog post (for a total of 30 chances to win!). At the end of the month, we’ll pool all of the comments together and pick one lucky winner to win the mystery grand prize. And trust us; you want to win this one!

Whether you’re already a sewing enthusiast or new to the craft, our hope is that this September will encourage you to create wonderful sewn projects.

Happy National Sewing Month!

Here’s today’s post:

We’ve all got that long list of sewing projects we’d like to make. Somehow my list keeps getting longer and longer. Every time I sew something and cross if off the list, I end up adding about 5 more projects to the list. That’s what happens when you subscribe to AllFreeSewing’s newsletter–too many good ideas and not enough time! Here’s what I’m crazy about at the moment:

Gathered Throw Pillow

I’m obsessed with throw pillows right now. I like that you can make a bunch of different ones and it doesn’t matter if they all match or not. Plus, they’re so quick to make! This Gathered Throw Pillow has a beautiful texture with a neutral color, which would look great for someone who has a lot of color going on in their living room already!

Burlap Purse with Shabby Rose

 

This bag is the perfect example of that “shabby chic” style that is so popular right now. And it looks like it would be easy enough for a beginner to tackle. Plus, I’m a sucker for fabric flower embellishments!

Anthropologie Sweater Headband

 

I wanted to make this last winter but I never got around to it. Fortunately (or unfortunately…) it’ll be cold again soon, so I can make it this year! Again with the flower embellishments.

Tank Dress

 

Pretty much every dress I’ve ever made has been a variation of this one–a pre-made shirt attached to an elastic waistband skirt. I speak from experience when I say that this is a great beginner project. It’s still on my list of things to make because I want to make another one!

Popsicle Ruffle Top

I don’t have any kids, but if I did I’d make this shirt pronto. I can’t even choose a favorite part–I love the ruffles, the colors, and the fact that it was made from recycled t-shirts. Oh, and I also love that it was inspired by popsicles!

So those are my favorite patterns and sewing project ideas on AllFreeSewing.com. What are your favorites? What’s currently on your list of things to sew?

 

Coffee and a Cardigan: The growing market of sewing cafes

Sewers know where to go for help. Sewing classes and clubs are common fair for most of us; blogs and sewing websites are another easily accessible tool. As we all know, AllFreeSewing.com offers tons and tons of sewing ideas and resources. Now with the opening of Sweat Shop about a year ago, the residents of Paris have an additional resource: a sewing cafe.

Sweat Shop Cafe Paris

Photo Credit: Munia Sbouri

For the sewers of Paris, sewing with a friend or getting a project done when your home machine is on the fritz can be done for an hourly fee.

The brainchild of designer Sissi Holleis and Martena Duss, Sweat Shop functions like a fashion cybercafe, where sewing machines can be rented by the hour. Eric Wilson of the New York Times reports, “They are also selling kits, which cost 30 to 100 euros (about $42 to $140) and include all the materials needed to create a design, like an easy printed top by the Antwerp label Pelican Avenue.”

Although by-the-hour sewing spaces are available in places like Texas, California, and London, very few places offer a genuine, cafe-like setting.  Following in the footsteps of Linkle in Berlin, Sweat Shop not only holds special events and classes, but also serves coffee and snacks.

Lizzie Davis of The Guardian tells us that the goal of these two ladies was to help re-connect the amateur sewer to his or her craft. In a city with a global fashion reputation, ordinary Parisians are very disconnected from the do-it-yourself fashion world. Holleis and Duss are trying to minimize this gap.

What an interesting and relaxing way to get together with people that love to do the same thing. If you’ve ever wished for a place to get together with some friends, drink some tea, and work on a project, this place is the answer. Too bad there aren’t more of these cafes all over the world. I know I would jump at the chance to go every time my machine is acting up or I want to avoid making a mess in my tiny apartment.

Let’s face it, the economy’s been rough on a lot of us and more people are taking to making their own clothes and household items. One day soon there may be a sewing cafe popping up in your neighborhood.

So I have to ask: would you go?

How to: Sew a Patternless Dress

If you’re a seasoned seamstress, you probably use patterns all the time. You probably have a collection of vintage Simplicity patterns that have been cut, pinned, and stashed for decades. The majority of beginner sewers, however, can’t tell which end is up when looking at a pattern (literally–I once looked at a pattern and could not tell whether it was upside down or not). Once I discovered the world of sewing tutorials (as opposed to tangible patterns), I was hooked!

When I was asked to be a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding and told that I could wear any dress I wanted, as long as it was black, I knew I had to make a sewing project out of it. I combined two sewing tutorials I found online: Megan Nielsen’s Elastic Waistband Dress and Dana Willard’s Can-Can skirt.

Here’s what I did:

  1. First I took a huge piece of chiffon (left over from my Hair Pom project!) and cut it into long strips, 2 inches wide. (Note: I didn’t read the directions in full until I was, well, all done. So learn from my mistakes: BUY NON-FRAY CHIFFON!!!)



  2. Turn your sewing machine to it’s largest stitch and increase the upper thread tension. You don’t need to put it at its highest tension setting because chiffon is a very thin fabric, so it will ruffle easily. Sew a line down the center of each strip (refer to my ruffling tutorial for more info on making ruffles). When you get to the end of a strip, feel free to attach a second strip by feeding it right into the machine.



  3. Once you’ve got a bunch of ruffles done, it’s time to attach them to your skirt piece. I bought two yards of black fabric and cut it in half lengthwise (so that the “waist” measurement was 2 yards and the length was appropriate–I wanted it to start at my natural waist and end around my knees, plus seam allowances). Sew the first ruffle around the bottom of your fabric piece, making sure you have changed your machine settings to a lower tension and smaller stitch length. Continue sewing ruffles until you’re satisfied. The Can-Can skirt has ruffles all the way up, but I chose to only do a few rows along the bottom of the skirt.


  4. Thus far, your skirt has just been a gigantic rectangle. To turn it into a skirt, we’re going to refer to Megan Nielsen’s gathering instructions. Take a piece of elastic waistband and measure how big you want it to be (wrap it against your waist, wherever you want the skirt to start). Pin your cut piece of elastic to the skirt piece, making sure to stretch the waistband as you go. Zig-Zag stitch the waistband to the skirt piece, again stretching as you go. Check out this video on How to Attach an Elastic Waistband from Couturier Mommy for better instructions!


  5. I way over estimated how much my waistband was going to stretch, so I ended up with extra fabric after I sewed the elastic on. Just cut this piece off and throw it in the scrap pile. I would recommend using only 1 yard or a yard and a half instead of 2 yards of skirt fabric, like I used. Next, hold the raw edges of your skirt length together, wrong sides facing in, and stitch them together.


  6. Hem the bottom of the skirt. At this point, you have a skirt that you could potentially wear by itself. So if you’d rather make a patternless skirt, you’re done!
  7. Instead of using a tank top, as shown in the Elastic Waistband Dress tutorial, I purchased a black blouse from a thrift store to use as the top. I thought this would be a little more wedding appropriate. Here’s what my blouse looked like:

  8. I realized I didn’t really like the blouse all that much when I tried it on with the skirt, but I’d already purchased it, so I had to make do. I ripped out the ruffles, buttons, and collar, cut the bottom of the shirt at my natural waist, and removed the shirring from the back.


  9. After I had basically destroyed the blouse, I was pretty sure I’d have to scrap it and start over. But I just kept going anyway! I sewed the front of the shirt together and added another strip of ruffled chiffon around the neckline.

  10. Finally, it’s time to attach your top to your bottom! I tucked the blouse inside the skirt, so that the waistband lay flat on top of the blouse. Then I pinned all the way around and zig-zag stitched it down.

  11. And here’s the finished product!

How to: Learn Sewing Machine Basics

Sewing machines are supposed to make your sewing endeavors easier, not harder. Sometimes though, the time spent wrestling with you machine would have been better spent hand stitching the dang thing. I admit that when I first got my machine I ended up threading it, trying it out, getting frustrated when it didn’t work, and then hand sewing the project I had wanted to make. Since then I’ve had countless similar experiences with the machine, usually culminating in my abandoning the project altogether and relegating my machine to the corner in disgust.

Knowing how to fix common sewing machine problems is very important for sewers of all levels, from novice to expert. Read this troubleshooting guide and hopefully your machine will dwell in the corner no more! Also check out our Sewing Tips & Tricks, Reference Information, and Basics & Tutorials on AllFreeSewing.com.

Problem: Stitches are uneven, puckered, or otherwise improperly formed.

Solution: Make sure the top thread is threaded correctly, the bobbin is inserted correctly, and the needle is the proper size for your machine. Try sewing on some scrap fabric and test different tension levels. Adjusting the tension should fix the stitch problem. Once you find the proper tension for your project, proceed.

Problem: Upper thread breaks.

Solution: Again, make sure your machine is threaded correctly and the bobbin and needle are properly inserted. There are a few different reasons why your thread might break. First, decrease the upper thread tension. If this doesn’t help, try pushing lighter on the pedal so that your machine will sew more slowly. Also check to make sure there are no knots in your thread. The problem could also be that your thread is old, poor quality, or not the correct thread for your project. Re-thread the machine with new thread and try again.

Problem: Fabric starts to pucker.

Solution:
Usually this happens when your stitch length is too long and/or your upper thread tension is too high. I have actually used this to my advantage when making ruffles, because I don’t have a ruffler foot. Try decreasing the tension and the stitch length. Also make sure that your top and bottom thread are the same type of thread and, of course, that the machine is threaded properly.

Problem: The needle breaks.

Solution: You may have inadvertently sewn over a pin. To prevent this from happening, make sure to remove your pins as you sew, before the needle has a chance to run into them. Other causes of broken needles include pulling on the fabric as you sew, using the wrong needle for the type of fabric you’re working with, and improperly inserting the needle into the machine.

Conclusion: If none of these solutions work, I have two more options for you. First, sometimes putting your machine in a time out really does work (hey, it works with kids, right?). Show it who’s boss by putting it away for a few days (and feel free to verbally abuse it too. It can’t hurt).

If it’s still malfunctioning, here’s option two: take it in to a sewing machine repair shop. It could be a simple maintenance issue, or you could need to replace a part. You’ll never know unless you ask a professional.

Have you ever experienced these infuriating sewing machine mishaps? What is your go-to troubleshooting action?