Cute sewing patterns for dresses

Cute sewing patterns for dresses

I have to preface this list. This is not a comprehensive list of all the cute dresses out there. It’s a short list of dresses that I would want to wear right here right now. I have some pretty strict guidelines that I adhere to at this stage in my life (post-baby but still looking like I’m with child–ha!). 1) I like my dresses loose–not form fitting 2) with maybe a puffed sleeve 3) pockets 4) either midi or maxi. Not all these dresses fit the bill 100% but I included some to round up the options.

The ones below are the ones I’m considering for my project. I’ll make a longer list of cute dress patterns in a follow-up post. There are a lot of great options!

The short list


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A post shared by Brittany Jepsen (@houselarsbuilt)

If you have any to add–I’d love to hear them. And if you make one, let us all see it by tagging it with #LarsMakes

Sewing Basics: How To Take Measurements

Finding the Perfect Fit

If you’re interested in sewing clothing, either for yourself or for others, knowing how to take measurements is a must. It makes all the difference! Instead of worrying about which size will fit, you can simply take your measurements, look at the size chart, and figure out exactly what size is ideal for your body. And if you’re in between sizes? If you’re shopping for finished clothes, you either have to size up or down. But not so when you’re the one sewing! The main perk of sewing clothing by hand is that you can adjust the pattern–if there’s something that’s a little small or large in one area, you can tailor it to your measurements and it will fit like a glove. But in order to do that, you need to know how to take your measurements correctly. Let’s go!

Differences Between Mens’ and Womens’ Measurements

First, let’s talk about how to take measurements for women. Did you know taking womens’ measurements is different than taking mens’ measurements? Yep. That’s because mens’ and womens’ bodies are shaped differently, and the size charts are made with those differences in mind. Men generally have less of a difference between their waist and hip measurements, for starters. They also have different shaped chests and wider shoulders, proportionally. All of that needs to be taken into account when measuring!

How To Take Measurements For Women

The following measurements are important for women to take when making clothes. They’re also generally useful for buying clothes when you aren’t sure of your size! 

Note: When measuring, make sure to remove bulky clothing. Ideally measuring against the skin will give you the most accurate measurement. If that’s not possible, measure with one thin layer of clothing, like leggings and a thin undershirt. Also, it’s nice to have someone else with you to help take measurements because it will make things more accurate. Now let’s learn how to take measurements for women!


The first measurement to take is the neck. This isn’t required for all patterns, but it’s useful to have on hand. To take the neck measurement, simply measure around the neck. Leave a finger width of slack so you don’t choke yourself with a too-small neck opening.

High bust

This measurement isn’t necessary all the time, either, but it can really come in handy if you’re trying to be as precise as possible. To take the high bust measurement, wrap the measuring tape snugly around the torso underneath the armpits. It’s generally most accurate if both arms are outstretched, parallel to the floor.


This is one of the most standard and useful measurements you’ll take, along with the waist and hips. How to take a bust measurement? First, stand with arms out and parallel to the floor. Now wrap the measuring tape around the fullest part of the bust. This is usually in line with the nipples. Don’t pull it too tight, just gently fitted. Also make sure to wear a thin fitted bra–not sports bra (that will squish your ladies!) or a padded pushup (that will give you an inaccurately large measurement). 


This is basically your ribcage size and, along with bust measurement, is the measurement needed to figure out bra size. To take measurements of your underbust, simply wrap the measuring tape around your ribcage just below the bust. Make sure it’s snug but not too tight.

Natural waist

You’ll also want to know how to take measurements of the natural waist. This is where your torso bends when you lean to the side. For this measurement, wrap the measuring tape snugly but not too tightly around the natural waist. Leave a little slack so you can breathe in your new outfit later.


Next up: the hips. It’s important to note that the hip measurement is taken at the fullest part of the butt. Basically, you want the widest measurement you can find here so you don’t end up with something disproportionately tight on your booty. To measure, wrap the measuring tape around your hip. Again, don’t wrap too tightly, but avoid slack, too.

Sleeve length

The sleeve length is a bit less common, but nonetheless helpful when sewing. You want those sleeves to hit just at the wrist, rather than dangling over the hands or ending up halfway down your arm. To find the sleeve length, measure from the tip of the shoulder to the wrist with the arm bent.

Back neck to waist

This measurement is less common but useful to have, especially if you have an unusually short or long torso. To take this measurement, start at the nape of your neck (on your back) and extend the tape down to the natural waistline.


You’ll also want to know how to take measurements of the inseam. The inseam is a really useful measurement to have when buying or making pants. To find it, measure right at the top of the inside of the leg, up against the crotch, all the way down to the floor.


The outseam is also useful for pants, skirts, and dresses. For the outseam measurement, go from the natural waist all the way to the floor, this time on the outside of the leg.


It’s nice to have the shoulder measurement, too. Especially if you have a blouse or shirt that you want to hit right at the top of the shoulder. You can take each shoulder measurement individually, or the full shoulder width. For individual measurements, start at the end of one shoulder and go to the nape of the neck on the same side. Repeat for the other side. The full width is from one end of the shoulder, all the way across the back, to the other end.

How To Take Measurements For Men

The key measurements for men are a bit different than that of women. They’re especially useful if you need to buy a suit or dress shirt. Here are the most important measurements to take for men:


It’s essential to know how to take measurements of the neck! If you’ve ever wanted to surprise your husband, brother or dad with a nice new dress shirt then you’ll know it’s nice to know the neck size. To find the neck size, use the same technique as women.


Taking a man’s sleeve measurement is a bit different than for women. Instead of going from the top of the shoulder, go from center back. Then go around a bent, raised elbow all the way to the wrist.


Next up: how to take measurements of the chest. Similar to the bust measurement for women, have him stretch both arms out parallel to the floor. Then measure around the fullest part of the chest after he takes a breath in (so it’s a bit fuller).


The natural waist measurement is the same as for women. Take it where your torso bends when you bend to the side. Unlike women, it’s also nice to take a low waist measurement for reference. That’s where most mens’ pants generally sit. It probably won’t be much different than the natural waist, but it’ll vary a little depending on body type and weight.


You’ll also want to know how to take measurements of the hip! This is also similar to female hip measurements. You’ll simply measure around the fullest part of butt, snugly, but not too loose or tight.


Last up for men is the inseam. This is also similar to female inseam measurements. Simply measure from crotch to ankle. Tip: if you’re measuring someone else and don’t love the idea of sticking your hand right in their crotch to get the measurement, not to worry. Measure instead from the wrist bone down to the floor on the outside of the leg. That will give you almost exactly the same measurement. 

Well, that’s a wrap! Questions or comments? Drop them in the comments below!

More Inspiration

Loved this post on how to take measurements and want more sewing content? Step right this way! Check out the rest of our Sewing Basics series here. You won’t want to miss this DIY Fanny Pack or these cute DIY pencil cases, either! Also, see more past sewing projects: New Team Outfits, Easter outfits, Casetify inspired projects, shaped throw pillows, Mother’s Day apron, quilted shower curtain, quilted face mask, rainbow buttons, reusable lunch sack, and DIY beeswax wraps. Last but not least: check out our shop for lots of sewing templates! And stay tuned for future sewing basics posts, released on Tuesdays.

Sewing Basics: How to Read Seam Allowances

What Is A Seam Allowance?

First of all, let’s just cover the basics so we’re all on the same page. In order to know how to read seam allowances you should know what a seam allowance is. What is a seam allowance? It’s the excess space between the stitching line and the raw edge of your fabric. When patterns are made, they first draft out the exact measurements of the project according to the stitch line. The last step is to add on the seam allowance. That ensures that your project will be precise, and all measurements of the finished piece correct.

Seam Allowance Sizes

The size of the seam allowance varies depending on the pattern company and the project itself. Back in the day, most pattern companies had standard seam allowances, pattern markings, and layouts. Vogue, Butterick, and McCalls are all good examples of this. ⅝” seam allowances were standard unless otherwise indicated. Now, with so many new pattern companies popping up all over, it’s not so universal. Generally, though, seam allowances range anywhere from ⅜” to ⅝” (1-2 centimeters). 

all seam allowances

How to Read Seam Allowances

It can be confusing to know exactly how to read seam allowances in order to get the right seam allowance for your pattern. Here are some simple steps to walk through:

  1. First, check the pattern’s instructions. It will always indicate the standard seam allowance for the pattern. In addition, it will usually tell you when a different seam allowance is required. Sometimes the seam allowance for collars, necklines, or other specific details of your project will be slightly different than, say, a basic side seam. The pattern will always tell you if that is the case.
  2. Next, line up the seam allowance indicated on your pattern with the seam allowance markings on your sewing machine. On our sewing machine, these markings are labeled, which makes it nice and easy! But some machines don’t have all the seam allowances labeled. Easy trick: sew a ¼” seam allowance by lining the edge of the fabric up along the edge of the presser foot. From there, the markings are about an 8th of an inch apart: ⅜”, then ½”, then ⅝”. The markings continue after that, but the main ones to know are the ones we just mentioned.

1/4" seam allowance3/8" seam allowance1/2" seam allowance5/8" seam allowance3/4" seam allowance7/8" seam allowance1" seam allowance

That’s what you need to know! Now we want to know: how did it go? Have questions or other thoughts? Drop them in the comments below!

More Inspiration

Loved this post on how to read seam allowances and want more sewing content? Step right this way! Check out the rest of our Sewing Basics series here. You won’t want to miss this DIY Fanny Pack or these cute DIY pencil cases, either! Also, see our past sewing projects: New Team Outfits, Easter outfits, Casetify inspired projects, shaped throw pillows, Mother’s Day apron, quilted shower curtain, quilted face mask, rainbow buttons, reusable lunch sack, and DIY beeswax wraps. Last but not least: check out our shop for lots of sewing templates! And stay tuned for future sewing basics posts, released on Tuesdays!

Ways to Repurpose Scarves

Repurpose Your Scarves Three Ways

Today we’ll be showing you three ways to repurpose your old scarves: throw pillow, scrunchie, and headband. First up? a throw pillow. 

Throw Pillow

Making a throw pillow just made sense, since the dimensions of many scarves are about the same as the dimensions needed to make a pillowcase for a 20” throw pillow. The scarves we started with were roughly 18” square. That was perfect for a 20” throw pillow since generally you want your pillowcase to be a few inches smaller than the dimensions of your pillow insert for maximum fullness. 

How to Make a Throw Pillow From Scarves

  1. First, take two scarves and line them up, right sides together.
  2. Now, sew all the way around the perimeter of your square with a ¼” seam allowance. Leave a gap that’s almost the length of one side of your square so you can flip it right side out after. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.
  3. Next, iron the opening down along the seam allowance. This will make sewing it together easier later.
  4. Now flip your pillowcase right side out and stuff your insert inside.
  5. Last, pin the opening and sew it closed using your sewing machine. For this, it helps to stuff the pillow down so you have a little room to work with as you sew.
  6. All that’s left is to adjust the insert and make sure it’s evenly distributed inside the pillowcase. Done!


Next we’re making a scrunchie. This is such a simple little project that doubles as the perfect accessory! Here’s what to do:

How to Make a Scrunchie From Scarves

  1. Cut a piece of fabric that’s 4” x 30”. Also cut a piece of elastic that fits loosely on your wrist, plus a few inches. Ours was around 8”.
  2. Next, finish the 4” ends with a zig zag. Then fold and iron both ends over about ¼”, wrong sides together.
  3. Now fold the fabric together lengthwise, pin and sew along the raw edge.
  4. After it’s sewn, flip it right side out with a safety pin. 
  5. Then feed the elastic through, again with a safety pin. 
  6. Once the elastic is in, tie the elastic ends together in a knot.
  7. Now layer one end of the fabric over the other and sew down the width to secure in place.
  8. Done!


Last but not least, here’s a simple headband tutorial! It’s so simple, but looks lovely when finished. Like the scrunchie, it’s a great accessory, especially if you’re in need of a little pop of color. The great thing about this headband is that it’s almost the same as the scrunchie with a few variations. Here’s how to make your own:

How to Make a Headband From Scarves

  1. First, pick a headband to use as your understructure. Then cut a piece of fabric that’s 4x the headband width and roughly 55” (give or take a little depending on how full you want it).
  2. Next, follow scrunchie steps 2-4.
  3. Once your fabric casing is flipped right side out, you can feed the headband through one end.
  4. Secure that end with hot glue, then feed the headband all the way through the casing so it’s scrunched up evenly. Make sure the seam is on the bottom of the headband so it doesn’t show when you’re wearing it.
  5. Now, just secure the other end with a dab of hot glue and you’re done!

More Inspiration

Loved this post on ways to repurpose scarves? If you’re looking for more sewing hacks, try our Sewing Basics series! You might also love this tote to drawstring backpack hack. Also, see some of our recent blog projects like this DIY Fanny Pack, DIY Pencil Case, or Casetify Inspired Fabric Projects

Sewing Basics: Essential Sewing Supplies

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Essential Sewing Supplies

The sewing supplies we’re talking about today are the essentials. They’re the ones I absolutely can’t live without! I use them religiously for probably 99% of my sewing projects. So if you’re lacking some basic sewing supplies but aren’t sure what’s really necessary, read on. I wish I had known about all of these sewing supplies when I first started sewing!

Note: our focus today is on the little things people might miss but that are incredibly useful. That being said, the big things are important, too! If you don’t already have a sewing machine, iron, and ironing board, invest in them, because you’ll use them for every sewing project.

Cutting Mat

This is a sewing supply I haven’t always had, but it will make cutting your fabric much easier and more precise, especially if you’re cutting squares or rectangles for things like quilts. It’s also great for altering hemlines of clothes! I use my cutting mat all the time–please, make your life easier and get yourself a good cutting mat.

Cutting mats come in many different sizes, but I’ve found that larger is better, if you have the space for it. Get one that will still fit on your table, but that’s big enough to lay out a large amount of fabric at once. My favorite cutting mat is this Fiskars one, but you can also go with this smaller version if you don’t have the space for the larger one. It’s self healing (a must), and gridded, which again, helps a lot when you need exact measurements.

cutting mat and ruler: essential sewing supplies

Clear, Gridded Ruler

I am obsessed with my clear, gridded ruler and would definitely consider it an essential sewing supply! It’s basically replaced my yardstick. The benefits of a clear, gridded ruler? First, it’s clear, so you can easily see the fabric you’re trying to cut underneath it. It makes lining things up much easier. Next, since it’s wider than your average yardstick or ruler, it helps hold the fabric down flat while you’re cutting it–that means extra precision. 

Rotary Cutter

Another one of my favorite go-to essential sewing supplies is a rotary cutter. If you’re going to use a clear, gridded ruler, a rotary cutter is a must. It’s impossible to get the same precision from a regular pair of sewing scissors, no matter how neat you are at cutting. The benefit of a rotary cutter is that it allows you to cut perfect, straight lines quickly and efficiently, as long as you have a cutting mat and clear, gridded ruler. 

Tip: if you’re planning to buy a cutting mat, clear gridded ruler, and rotary cutter, I’d highly recommend saving a bit of money and buying this cutting set. It comes with all three and is a better deal than buying all three separately.

Essential sewing supply: rotary cutter


A good pair of sewing scissors is an essential sewing supply everyone needs. While a rotary cutter is excellent to have on hand for straight lines and precision, regular sewing scissors are good for everything else. Cut straight lines, curves, notches, and clip your threads with sewing  scissors. These should never leave your side when you’re sewing.

Speaking of scissors, the Fiskars scissors we released back in May are now available on our shop! Fiskars is my favorite brand for sewing supplies, and scissors are their specialty. The bonus is that our custom Fiskars scissors happen to be pretty cute, too.

scissors essential sewing supply

Flexible Measuring Tape

A good, flexible measuring tape is another essential sewing supply that you’ll use frequently. It’s especially necessary for taking measurements (those clothes need to fit right!), but it’s also useful for measuring a lot of other things. Since it’s so long, it’s great to have on hand for measuring things like drawstring cording, elastic, fabric and more.

measuring tape essential sewing supplies

Marking pencil/marker 

Another one of our essential sewing supplies that’s definitely useful to have on hand is a marking pencil or marker. You can also use chalk, if you want. Whatever you choose, it needs to be water soluble! I wish I could have told inexperienced, teenage me this before I used a sharpie to mark the button placket on my white shirt. You don’t want to stain your new project! The benefit of using a marking pencil or marker that’s made for sewing is that it will probably be made with water soluble ink. That means when you wash it it will be gone. No permanent stains on your new shirt!

Seam Gauge

A seam gauge is another essential sewing supply you’ll be grateful for. This makes measuring hems and seam allowances much more precise and efficient. This one also has a handy point at one end for turning corners.

Marking pencil and seam gauge essential sewing supplies

Pins, Safety Pins, and Needles

Regular straight pins are a very useful sewing supply to have on hand. They help pin things in place so you can cut and sew precisely without things slipping around! Safety pins are also nice for times when you need to pin something and then try it on–that way you don’t have to worry about jabbing yourself with a sharp point as you’re taking it on and off! Also, you’ll use safety pins for turning casings and narrow things right side out.

You’ll also want a variety of needles on hand–hand sewing needles are great, especially for details you don’t want to show, as well as buttons, mending, and hand-stitching things closed.  You’ll also want some extra sewing machine needles (try as I might, I still manage to break my sewing machine needles more frequently than I’d like to admit). Luckily, most sewing machines come with a few extras.


For any sewing project, make sure you pick up some matching thread! You won’t be able to sew without it. My favorite brand is Gutermann–their thread is strong and they usually have great color options. But you can also go with Coats and Clark. It’s a bit cheaper, but still great quality and versatile. 



It’s nice to have a decent amount of extra bobbins on hand. Your machine will come with a few, but if you’re like me and your projects are colorful, you’ll probably have bobbins of almost every color of the rainbow. It’s nice to not have to reuse the same four bobbins if you’re in that boat!

Seam Ripper

Last but definitely not least is a seam ripper. As much as I’d like to think I can make it through a whole project with no errors, that’s more of a dream than reality. I’ve messed up enough times to want my seam ripper close at hand for every sewing project. Plus, if buttonholes are involved, a seam ripper is part of the process.

I made a nice discovery recently–most sewing machines come with a basic little seam ripper. But you can also buy fancier ones with bigger handles that make them easier to hold.

seam ripper

More Inspiration

Did you love this post on essential sewing supplies? There’s more where that came from! Check out the rest of our Sewing Basics series here. You won’t want to miss this DIY Fanny Pack or these cute DIY pencil cases, either! Also, see our past sewing projects: New Team Outfits, Easter outfits, Casetify inspired projects, shaped throw pillows, Mother’s Day apron, quilted shower curtain, quilted face mask, rainbow buttons, reusable lunch sack, and DIY beeswax wraps.

Sewing Basics: Parts of a Sewing Machine

Parts of a Sewing Machine

Have you ever looked at a sewing machine and been overwhelmed by all the knobs, buttons and gadgets you see? I’m right there with you. It can be confusing, especially if you’ve never taken a sewing class before. Well, not to worry! We’re here for you. Today we’re going to demystify some of those confusing terms, symbols, knobs and buttons so you can use your sewing machine with ease. And lucky for you, once you know the basic parts of a sewing machine, taking on your next sewing project will be a breeze.

For this tutorial, we’ll be using our Singer sewing machine as a reference. While your machine may not be completely the same, there’s a lot of overlap and you should be able to find a similar part variant on other machines. Without further ado, let’s learn the parts of a sewing machine!

Bobbin and Thread Parts

Bobbin winder spindle

Your bobbin winder spindle is the little spindle where you’ll place the bobbin to wind it with thread. To do this, simply slide it on, then push it to the right. It should click and you’ll be ready to go.

Bobbin winder stopper

A little disc to the right of the bobbin winder spindle, this stops the bobbin from winding when it’s full of thread.

Bobbin winder thread guide

This is the guide you’ll wrap the thread around to wind your bobbin. For more details on threading a bobbin, see this post.

Bobbin cover

The bobbin cover is the clear, plastic cover that covers the bobbin on most top loading bobbins. If your machine loads the bobbin into the front, your bobbin cover will probably look completely different and may not be clear.

Bobbin case

Lying just beneath the bobbin cover, this is where you’ll place the bobbin. To see how to thread your bobbin, see this post.

Bobbin cover release button

Only found on machines with top-loading bobbins, this button releases the bobbin cover so you can access the bobbin and case beneath.

Thread spool pin

This little pin is where you’ll place your spool of thread. On our singer machine, the pin is facing horizontally, but it’s sometimes also upright.

Second spool pin hole

If you’re ever interested in sewing on knits or using a double needle, you’ll want to know about the second spool pin hole. This is where you can put your second spool pin and a second spool of thread. See the accessory section below for more information about the second spool pin.

Thread take up lever

This lever moves the thread up and down as you sew. As you thread your machine, you’ll want to make sure the thread is correctly threaded through it. See this post for more details on threading your sewing machine.

Thread cutter

The thread cutter is a handy little attachment on the left side of the sewing machine. You can use it to cut your threads after sewing. We should note that this isn’t found on every machine, but many have them and it sure is a nice perk that speeds up sewing a bit.


You can’t sew without the needle! After threading the machine, simply poke the thread through the hole in it and you’re all set to start sewing.

Needle clamp screw

If you didn’t know, you can change out the sewing machine needle pretty easily. All you have to do is twist the needle clamp screw to loosen a bit, and you can pull the needle out and replace it. This is especially handy if you break a needle in the middle of a sewing project.

Machine Settings

This next section of parts of a sewing machine covers basic settings you’ll want to know about before you start sewing. If your stitch isn’t doing what you want it to, check these settings–chances are, something’s up that can be fixed with a quick look at these settings.

Thread tension

The thread tension controls how tightly the upper spool of thread is held in place. You don’t want it to be too tight or too loose, as both can cause problems. Ideally, your thread tension should be somewhere around 4 or 5 for most standard projects.

Bobbin thread tension

Did you know there’s also a bobbin thread tension? To see it, you’ll have to take off the needle plate like you do for cleaning. It’s a tiny screw located on the front of the bobbin case that can be loosened and tightened to match the upper thread tension. Stay tuned, because we’ll talk all about how to make sure your thread tension is adjusted right in a future post!

Needle position

The needle position is located on the top middle of your sewing machine. It tells you to which side the needle is aligned; left, center, or right. Normally you’ll want to keep your needle position in the center, and use the stitch type to adjust what the stitch does.

Stitch width

Also located on the top of your sewing machine, on the right side, the stitch width dial adjusts the width of your stitch. For more details about sewing different types of stitches and setting your stitch width accordingly, see this post. And for details on settings for buttons and buttonholes, see this post.

Stitch length

Located on the right front of your sewing machine, this is a round dial that adjusts the length of your stitch. See this post for specific information about what to set your stitch length to for different stitch types, and this one for stitch length info on buttons and buttonholes.

Stitch type

Another round dial located below the stitch length dial, this one adjusts the type of stitch. The ones you’ll probably use most often are straight and zig zag. For more info on this, see our basic stitches post.

Other Parts

Presser foot

This is located just under the needle. Its purpose is to hold the fabric in place as you sew.

Needle plate

Another useful part of a sewing machine to know is the needle plate. This is the metal plate the fabric rests on as you sew. It’s important so you know what your seam allowance is. The numbers of different seam allowances are all listed on the needle plate itself, so you can stay on track easily as you sew.

Feed dogs

The feed dogs are located just below the presser foot. They’re the poky little rows that help pull your fabric through the machine as you sew.


Presser foot lever

Usually the presser foot lever is either located on the left side or back of the machine on the left side. It’s used to drop the presser foot into place and lift it up when you’re done sewing.

Presser foot release lever

This is a little metal lever right behind/attached to the presser foot. Press on this lever to release the presser foot and change it out. 

Buttonhole lever

This is the little white lever next to the presser foot. You’ll get to know this lever very well if you plan to make any projects with buttons and buttonholes. See more info on buttons and buttonholes here!

Backstitch lever/button

Press this lever down when you want to sew backwards to reinforce stitches. It’s located front and to the left of the center of the sewing machine.


Located on the left side of the sewing machine, the handwheel raises and lowers the needle as you turn it. You’ll use this often!

Foot pedal

Don’t forget about the foot pedal! It’s one of the most important parts of a sewing machine. Press down on it with your foot to start sewing once all your settings are in place.


Accessory storage

In some machines, there’s also an accessory storage compartment somewhere on the body of the machine for easy access. In it, you’ll find a lot of useful odds and ends for your sewing needs. We’ve listed them below for your convenience!

Essential accessories 

Most machines come with a few extra presser feet, like a button foot, buttonhole foot, and a zipper foot. You’ll also find extra needles and bobbins, as well as a second spool pin. (Remember earlier when we talked about the hole it goes in)? Two other useful accessories are a seam ripper/cleaning brush (did you know the cleaning brush has a secretly disguised seam ripper you can pull out of it?!) and screwdriver key. The screwdriver key is a little metal tool used to unscrew the tiny screws on the needle plate to access the things underneath. See more about that here.


How did our tour of the parts of a sewing machine go for you? Let us know in the comments! And let us know what else you’d like to learn as part of our sewing basics series. We’re all ears!

More Inspiration

Did you love this post on how to read a pattern? There’s more where that came from! Check out the rest of our Sewing Basics series here. You won’t want to miss this DIY Fanny Pack or these cute DIY pencil cases, either! Also, see more of our past sewing projects: New Team Outfits, Easter outfits, Casetify inspired projects, shaped throw pillows, Mother’s Day apron, quilted shower curtain, quilted face mask, rainbow buttons, reusable lunch sack, and DIY beeswax wraps. Oh, and don’t forget to visit our shop for lots of sewing templates and patterns!

Sewing Basics: How to Read a Pattern

How to Read a Pattern

Reading a pattern can be confusing, especially if you’ve never seen one before. What do all those markings mean? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. Our goal today is to teach you all you need to know about reading a pattern so you can successfully use them for your sewing projects!

Basic Terminology

First things first: some basic terminology. In order to successfully tackle any pattern, you need to know some basic terminology, including the symbols that show up on your patterns. Most patterns will have a guide somewhere that has a key, telling you what each symbol means for that specific pattern. Use the guide provided by the pattern, and consult the following list if you’re still confused.

The following terms are the essentials–almost every pattern has these, so you’ll need to know what they mean and what to do with them:


Notches are little ticks or marks that show up periodically along the edge of your pattern pieces. Traditionally, they’re the shape of a little triangle or diamond (Vogue, Butterick, and McCall’s patterns are all standardized and triangle/diamond-shaped), but they can also show up in the form of simple lines. Pattern makers put notches on patterns so the pattern pieces can be lined up and sewn correctly. What to do with them: You can either cut the little triangle completely out, or snip down to the point. If there’s a simple line instead of a triangle, just snip on top of the little line about ¼” in.

Cutting lines

These are the lines you’ll follow to cut out your correct size. In traditional, non-digital patterns, the lines are all stacked next to each other. Each different size will have a different patterned line so you can differentiate between the lines (dotted, dashed, etc). In more contemporary, digital patterns, it’s also common to have the option to click off the extra sizes. That way you just have your size selected (see this post on how to do this!). What to do with your cutting lines: cut out each pattern piece along the cutting lines!

Fold Lines

These lines tell you when a part of your pattern piece should be cut out on the fold. They’re basically lines with arrows on each end that point to the line that should be placed along the fold. What to do with them: simply line up the fold line edge of your pattern piece so it’s on a fold, rather than cutting along that edge.


The grainline is very important. It’s a long, straight line in the middle of your pattern piece with an arrow at each end. This double-sided arrow tells you what direction your pattern piece needs to face on the fabric. Line it up incorrectly and you end up with wonky pattern pieces that don’t hang right. What to do with it: To line it up correctly, make sure the arrow is parallel to the selvedge (the white, non-fraying border along the edge of the fabric. The selvedge usually has words printed on it, so even if your fabric is white, you should be able to tell where it is.)


Another important symbol to know are darts. These are also triangle and diamond shaped, like notches, but much bigger. Darts are used to shape the fabric and fit it to your body more closely. What to do with them: mark all the dart points with pins, fabric marker, or chalk, then follow the pattern’s instructions to sew them correctly.


Next on our list: buttons. These are little X’s, and they mark where the buttons go. What to do with them: simply mark them with pins or fabric markers, then follow the pattern’s instructions to sew the buttons on.


Like buttons, the buttonhole markings simply show where to put the buttonholes. Their symbol is a little line with one perpendicular line at each end (kind of like a capital i). What to do with them: mark them with pins or fabric markers, then follow the pattern’s instructions to sew them.

pictured: Friday Pattern Company’s Davenport Dress

Other Important Notes About How to Read a Pattern

Before we send you off to tackle reading a pattern on your own, remember to read the pattern’s instructions! This is at the top of the priority list, since most of your questions will probably be answered as you read each pattern’s instructions. Things that should be included in your pattern’s instructions are:

Default seam allowance

This will tell you if you should have a ½”, ¼”, ⅝”, or some other seam allowance. This makes a big difference in how well the clothing item you’ve chosen will fit! Sew with a seam allowance that’s too big and your beloved shirt will be too tight. Sew with a smaller seam allowance than indicated and it will be bigger than you want it.


These are the extras you’ll need for your sewing project. This includes buttons, thread, elastic, zippers, snaps, drawstring, etc. Basically anything that’s not your actual fabric! The pattern instructions will indicate how much of each thing to get and what size, so you’ll definitely want to consult this list before buying your supplies.

Size charts and fabric yardage 

Size charts are absolutely essential! They tell you what pattern size is right for your body (or whoever you’re making the clothes for), and how much fabric you’ll need for that size. Definitely consult this before just guessing what size will be correct, as many patterns sizes and measurements vary.

Pictured: Birgitta Helmersson’s ZW Gather Dress

Our Favorite Patterns

Now that you’re an expert on reading patterns, it’s time to get going! Here are some of our favorite pattern companies (for discount codes, click here):

Friday Pattern Company

One of our favorite pattern companies is Friday Pattern Company. They have so many cute options! Their patterns are also very detailed and the instructions are clear. They’re a great option for beginners.

Birgitta Helmersson

Another wonderful source for patterns, especially if you’re looking to be more eco-friendly in your sewing, is Birgitta Helmersson. Her patterns are waste free, which means you don’t have to print out a pattern at all! Instead, she has detailed instructions and diagrams for how to cut and assemble your pattern pieces. 

Merchant and Mills

We also love Merchant and Mills! Based in Great Britain, their patterns are classic and timeless. We’re obsessed!

Obviously, this list of pattern companies is far from extensive. If you have pattern companies you love, let us know in the comments! And please, any questions or comments about how to read a pattern, just drop them below.

Pictured: Friday Pattern Company’s Patina Blouse (Top), and Merchant and Mills’ Eve Trouser (Bottom)

More Inspiration

Did you love this post on how to read a pattern? There’s more where that came from! Check out the rest of our Sewing Basics series here. You won’t want to miss these cute DIY pencil cases, either! Also, see our past sewing projects: New Team Outfits, Easter outfits, Casetify inspired projects, shaped throw pillows, Mother’s Day apron, quilted shower curtain, quilted face mask, rainbow buttons, reusable lunch sack, and DIY beeswax wraps.

Sewing Basics: How to Print and Assemble a PDF Pattern

PDF Patterns: The Basics

First off, why PDF patterns? We’re glad you asked. Back in the day, they didn’t exist. It was all paper patterns. Which are great, because you don’t have to piece them together or print them off at all. So convenient. BUT (there’s always a but, right?). Paper patterns aren’t always the most convenient option. Like what if you want to buy a pattern from Great Britain, Sweden, or somewhere else? Even shipping within the U.S. takes time, and we know that project you’re itching to make sometimes just. CAN’T. WAIT. Hence, the birth of the PDF pattern!

PDF patterns make an instant download and print of your pattern possible. That means you can start on your sewing project the same day you buy your pattern. All you need is a printer, scissors, and tape and you’re all set to print and assemble your very own PDF pattern.

How to Print a PDF Pattern

Note: for this tutorial, we used the Friday Pattern Company Patina Blouse pattern. You can find the PDF pattern here, and a discount code here!

Here are Carrie, Jenny, and Jane, all wearing the Patina Blouse:

Adjusting the PDF Settings

Printing a PDF pattern is simple, once you have the settings correctly adjusted. Here’s what to do:

  1. First, download your PDF pattern. Often, there will be multiple files available to download. The one you want to print will have the pattern separated into multiple 8.5”x11” pages for printing convenience.
  2. Once you’ve found the correct file for printing, open it up in Adobe Acrobat. Many PDF patterns have the option to print just your size, rather than all the sizes stacked on top of each other. To do this, you need Adobe Acrobat. It’s a nice perk if you can do it, and makes cutting your pattern out really simple! (If you don’t have Adobe or another PDF editor, skip these steps and go to “Prepping for Print” step 1). 
  3. With Adobe Acrobat open, you’ll see a little icon on the left side that looks like a stack of three squares. That’s the layers icon–click on it.
  4. When the layers icon is open, you’ll be able to see a column of tabs. Those tabs are the different sizes and can be clicked on and off.
  5. Now that you can see the size tabs, click off all the sizes except yours. Make sure to leave the important markings on, though, like notches and guides for connecting the pages together. (To figure out what size you are, take your measurements and check the size chart). 
  6. With all the correct tabs clicked on, you’re ready to print! 

Prepping for Print

  1. If you didn’t use Adobe to edit the layers, go ahead and open your file. (If you just edited the layers in Adobe, your file should already be open). Now open the print menu.
  2. In the print menu, do the following: click single-sided printing, and scale custom 100%. This should make it so the printed pattern doesn’t shrink or get cut off, but prints to the actual size. 
  3. Now print your pattern! Note: As a fail safe, many PDF patterns have a test page that you can print out and measure with a ruler. If it’s the correct size, you’re good to print.

Once your pattern is printed, you’re ready to piece it together!

Assembling your PDF Pattern

If you’ve printed your pattern correctly, assembling should be a breeze. Here’s how:

  1. First, find a nice, large surface on which to lay your pattern pages out. If you’re like me, you may not have a table that’s big enough, so the floor is a perfect option!
  2. Following the numbers on each page, line up all the pages in a grid block chronologically. Note: most patterns have some sort of system for aligning the pages, like arrows, dots or lines. Use these to precisely align each page. There will be a white margin around each printed page that’s outside the printable area. I like to cut those margins off so I can see where to align the pages better.
  3. I find that the easiest way to assemble the pieces is to tape as you go. That way the pages won’t slide out of place as you lay each paper down.
  4. Once all the pieces are taped together, all you have to do is cut out your size along the lines and you’re done!

Now, we want to hear from you: How did printing and assembling your PDF pattern go? Leave your questions and comments below, and let us know if we can clarify anything for you.

Now that you know how to print and assemble a PDF pattern, stay tuned! In a couple of weeks, we’ll be teaching you how to read a pattern so you can get sewing.

More Inspiration

Interested in learning more about sewing? See our Sewing Basics series here! Need inspiration on where to buy patterns? Try some of our favorite companies: Friday Pattern Company, Birgitta Helmersson, and Merchant and Mills.

Two Easy Quilt Hacks

Custom Quilted Fabric

As you’re probably aware by now, we have a Spoonflower design library full of fabrics we designed ourselves! Well, as it happens, a couple of our designs are the perfect solution to your quilting woes. First, our Retro Florals. We just can’t get enough of these colorful babies! They made their debut when we launched our first Casetify collection. Since then, we’ve been riding the Retro Florals train and loving it (see our retro florals backdrop, spring tablescape, Mother’s Day breakfast in bed, and new team outfits to get an idea). As we made project after project with them, though, we realized something: they were the perfect candidate for an easy DIY quilt that requires no piecing together whatsoever! 

The second design that’s here to save the day is our Rainbow Star Quilt. Designed like a traditional star quilt, you can rest easy knowing you don’t have to piece all those tiny triangles together. And the best part is you still get the look of a traditional quilt with a fraction of the time spent. Just order the fabric and the rest is a cinch. 

Easy Quilt Hacks

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to make two quilts, two ways. Both are super simple. On our Retro Florals quilt, we’ll quilt the three layers together with a basic straight stitch on the sewing machine. For the Rainbow Star quilt, we’ll hand-tie the quilt. Without further ado, here are our two easy quilt hacks!

Easy Quilt Hack #1: Retro Florals Quilt

Prepping Your Fabric

  1. First, prewash and iron all fabrics you’ll be using.
  2. Next, divide your front, patterned fabric equally in half. Line the two halves up with the design’s grid, right sides together, then sew them together. Iron the center seam out flat.
  3. Now repeat for the solid backing fabric.
  4. Now, lay the back fabric facedown (right side down) on your work surface and secure in place so it’s nice and flat, with no bumps or wrinkles. Tip: if you don’t have a quilting loom or fancy setup, just tape the fabric down with painter’s tape so it doesn’t slip around as you’re trying to put the layers together.

Sandwiching Your Quilt

Now it’s time to sandwich your quilt together!

  1. For this, you should already have your backing fabric laid out and ready to go. Now, place the batting on top, smoothing it out as you go so it’s even and flat.
  2. Now you’re ready for your front layer! For this, simply lay out the fabric, face up, on top of the batting layer. It helps to work from one side to the other, unrolling or unfolding as you go so it aligns correctly.
  3. As you go, make sure you have a few inches of extra batting and backing poking out around the front layer. This border is just in case the top layer shifts slightly as you quilt it together. Make sure everything is smoothed out, with no bumps or wrinkles.

Quilting It Together

Now you’re ready to quilt it together!

  1. First, it’s important to pin all three layers together in plenty of places so the layers don’t shift too much as you sew. Pin about every hand width or a little more, all over the quilt, in a similar position as with a tied quilt (see the Quilting It Together section below for tips on tying).
  2. Now you can take the tape off that was securing the quilt in place and take the quilt over to your sewing machine.
  3. Next, start sewing! You’ll sew directly on top of all the lines of the grid in straight lines. Snake your way around the quilt until you’ve sewn the whole grid, using the lines of the grid as a guide. 
  4. Now you can remove the pins. You’re ready to bind the quilt edges!

Binding Your Quilt

  1. To bind your quilt, take a strip of fabric that’s roughly 2” wide and a bit longer than the perimeter of your quilt (you’ll most likely need to sew multiple pieces together to get the desired length). Iron down one side of the length by ½”. 
  2. Now, pin it all the way around the quilt’s perimeter with right sides together. Sew along the edge with a ½” seam allowance. 
  3. Next, fold the sewn strip over so it’s laid flat and iron.
  4. Now you can fold the strip over to the other side of the quilt and pin in place, then sew close to the edge. If you don’t want your stitches to show, you can also slip stitch to hand sew the binding in place.

Binding the Corners

  1. For the corners, sew down one whole side of the binding as described above. Make sure to clip the excess at the end down so it’s flush with the edge of the quilt.
  2. Now you can sew down the other side of the binding, this time leaving an inch or so excess off the edge.
  3. Once that’s done, fold the binding back on itself with right sides together, pin, and sew together.
  4. Now, clip the excess fabric and flip the binding back so the seam you just sewed is inside. To make flipping the corner easier, you can use the pointy end of a scissor blade to poke the corner all the way out.
  5. Next, iron down the corner so it’s nice and flat, then sew it down.
  6. Done!

Easy Quilt Hack #2: Rainbow Star Quilt

Prepping Your Fabric/Sandwiching Your Quilt

For these steps, simply follow the instructions above for quilt hack #1.

Quilting It Together

  1. To tie your quilt, start at one end of your quilt in the center of the corner star. Poke the needle through the three layers from front to back. Then, poke the needle back up through all the layers about ½ cm to the side.
  2. Now tie a simple double knot. Clip excess yarn, then move to the middle of the next star (every hand width or so).
  3. Tie in a straight line along the first row of stars. 
  4. Then, fold your quilt edge up one row and continue tying, row by row. Fold up each completed row as you go, which will make tying the remaining rows easier. Remember to clip the yarn as you go!
  5. Continue tying until  you’ve finished the whole quilt, smoothing the fabric out as you go to make sure there are no ripples or bumps.

Binding Your Quilt

Again, you’ll use the same binding technique as with quilt hack #1.

What To Do With Your Quilts

In case you weren’t aware, there are more ways to use a quilt than putting it on your bed! Though that is a spectacular option, it’s summer. Which means there are endless ways to use your quilts outside. Number one: picnic! These quilts are light and summery, perfect for an excursion to the park or a relaxing afternoon to read in the shade. And then there are those summer nights. Utah’s summer nights can get a bit chilly, especially if you’re heading to the mountains like many Utahns here do. Pack these quilts for a little extra warmth and get cozy for an outdoor summer movie night. You can also take these babies camping, or for just a fun, get away up to the mountains for a change. Even if you’re not wrapping it around yourself for warmth, it makes a cozy seat.

Now we want to know: how did making your first quilt go? Drop your questions and comments below!

More Inspiration

Loved these easy quilt hacks and want more quilt inspiration? We have just the thing! Try this quilted shower curtain, how to make a quilted coat and face mask tutorials. Also see this roundup of our favorite quilted coats and Gee’s Bend quilts! Are you interested in learning more about sewing? Check out our sewing basics series

Sewing Basics: How to Clean your Sewing Machine

Why Clean Your Sewing Machine?

With all those sewing projects you’ve probably been working on now, chances are your sewing machine could use a little TLC. It’s crazy how quickly the lint builds up in a sewing machine! Did you know it’s standard to clean your sewing machine pretty frequently? (If not, no shame. I only learned how to clean a sewing machine this year, so you’re not alone). Though your sewing machine will probably do okay even when it’s a little dirty, it can lengthen the lifespan of your sewing machine quite a lot to follow these simple steps to cleaning it every now and then. Upkeep like this will make sure your sewing machine stays in pristine condition so you can sew to your heart’s content for years and years.

How to Clean your Sewing Machine

Happily, cleaning your sewing machine is simple, not to mention quick, as long as you do it consistently. As with our other tutorials, we’ll be using a Singer Heavy Duty machine. While that may not look exactly the same as your machine, the basic principles still apply. Here’s what to do:

Prepping your Machine for Cleaning

  1. First, remove the thread spool and bobbin thread spool from your machine and set them aside. Note: you’ll be removing a lot of small parts during this process. Make sure you’re careful not to lose them or knock them onto the floor! If it helps, you can store them in a small bowl or ziplock bag so they’re safe in one place.
  2. Now, remove the presser foot by pressing the lever behind the presser foot.
  3. If desired, you can also remove the needle so it doesn’t poke you during the cleaning process.
  4. Next, use the small metal screwdriver tool to remove the needle plate (this is the metal plate that surrounds the feed dog, directly below the presser foot. Put the plate and screws into the ziplock bag or bowl for safekeeping. 
  5. Once you’ve removed the feed dog plate, you’ll see two screws and a metal arm holding the bobbin case in place (if your bobbin loads into the top). Without pulling the screws completely out, loosen them enough to remove the bobbin case.
  6. You’re ready to start cleaning!

Cleaning your Machine

  1. Starting from the outside moving in, use the mini brush (this accessory should come with your sewing machine) to clean in the cracks and crevices. Use a simple, dry cloth to wipe dust off the larger areas of the front, sides and back of the machine.
  2. Once you’re done with the exposed areas of the machine, you can move into the area underneath the needle plate.
  3. For this, use the mini brush and work your way around the nooks and crannies, removing lint as you go. Be careful not to blow into those areas (it’s tempting, I know!) because it will push the lint further in. Just gently work your way around with the brush, and cloth when needed, until all the lint is gone.
  4. Remember to clean off the parts you removed, as well, like the needle plate and bobbin case, before putting them back into your freshly cleaned machine.

Putting your Machine Back Together

  1. First, put the bobbin case back in place and tighten the screws you loosened.
  2. Next, put the needle plate back on and screw it into place.
  3. Now you can put the needle, presser foot, thread spool and bobbin thread spool back into the machine.
  4. Done!

How did cleaning your machine go? Let us know in the comments!

Past Sewing Basics Posts

For more in our Sewing Basics series, see For past weeks of our Sewing Basics series, see how to thread a sewing machine, how to choose the right fabric, how to sew mitered corners, buttons and buttonholes, and basic stitches.

More Inspiration

We hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial on how to clean your sewing machine. Now that you’ve completed the first six weeks, you should be fully equipped to make any sewing project on our blog! For things to wear, try our new team outfits, Mother’s Day apron, Easter outfits, quilted face mask, quilted sleeping mask, quilted coat, and Funky Town projects. Looking for home decor options you can sew yourself? You’ll love these Shaped throw pillows or our Celtic knot pillow. Also, here’s our quilted shower curtain.

Need a new bag? See our Lemon Tote bag and duffel bag picnic tote. Don’t forget about our Reusable lunch sack and  DIY beeswax wrap for back to school, while you’re at it! Speaking of kids, have a baby at home? Try this adorable mushroom playmat, baby bonnet, bunny bonnet, and stuffed Easter bunny.

Want to make clothes but need a pattern? Try Friday Pattern Company or Birgitta Helmersson (click here for discount codes for both!)

But don’t worry, we’re not done sewing yet. We’ll keep our series going with more tips and tricks to take your sewing projects to the next level, so stay tuned! 

New Team Outfits (and discount codes)!

Our New Team Outfits

We are SO excited to be sharing our new team outfits with you! It’s been a long time coming, since all the outfits were sewn by hand here in the studio. Carrie took charge of this project, with help from Sophie, Jane, and our interns (more formal introductions to come)!

Custom Spoonflower Fabric

We’ve wanted to make team outfits for a long time, and releasing our own custom fabrics with Spoonflower just seemed like the perfect opportunity. Our designer, Garet, worked long and hard on the designs for the release of our debut Casetify collection last fall. Of course, those designs were too wonderful not to use again! So we got to work turning phone case patterns into fabric and wallpaper. We added quite a few exclusively fabric and wallpaper options, and eventually our custom Spoonflower fabrics were born. Here are the choices we went with for our outfits:


Peach and Yellow 1” Stripe 


Olive 1” Checkers, Lilac 1” Checkers. Jane took things one step further and instead of just one pattern for her outfit, she did half and half!


Olive .5” Checkers


Lilac .5” Checkers


Retro Florals 3”


Garet was originally going to make her own outfit, too! Sadly, with all the crazy projects she had going, she wasn’t able to finish in time. So for the shoot she’s wearing a lovely linen dress she bought instead.

Amazing Pattern Companies

Since pattern drafting is so time-consuming, we weren’t able to make our own patterns for our team outfits. But we did find patterns for our outfits at some amazing companies! For tutorials on each of our outfits, purchase the specific pattern to see how it’s done. My favorite thing about buying patterns? You can make as many clothes as you want from just one pattern! Definitely worth the investment.

Friday Pattern Company

We are thrilled with the patterns we chose from Friday Pattern Company! We went to them for the Patina Blouse and Davenport Dress. But don’t stop there! Feel free to peruse the site for your favorite patterns–there are so many beautiful options to choose from. Oh, and they’re offering a discount code to Lars readers, so head over to get 10% off with LARS10!

Birgitta Helmersson

I have to talk about Birgitta Helmersson for a minute. Not only are these patterns amazing and beautiful, they’re zero waste! That means no scraps to go in the landfill. You don’t even have to print out a physical pattern. Instead, count on detailed instructions and visuals to help you map out the cuts of each pattern. For the month of July, use the code SEWJULY for a discount on Birgitta Helmersson’s beautiful and environmentally-friendly patterns!

Merchant and Mills

A company based in Great Britain, we are obsessed with Merchant and Mills’ patterns. We chose to use two of their trouser patterns: the 101 Trouser and Eve Trouser. 

Here’s the complete list of our team’s pattern choices:


Birgitta Helmersson ZW Gather Dress


Top: Friday Pattern Company Patina Blouse

Trousers: Merchant and Mills 101 Trouser


Top: Friday Pattern Company Patina Blouse

Trousers: Merchant and Mills Eve Trouser


Top: Friday Pattern Company Patina Blouse

Trousers: Merchant and Mills 101 Trouser


Friday Pattern Company Davenport Dress

Meet Our Team

And now, here’s a little introduction to each member of the House that Lars Built Team!


If you want a full introduction, you can go to this page! But long story short, Brittany is art director and founder of The House that Lars Built. She is the heart and soul of the Lars team!


Jane has been working at Lars for almost 5 years now! She is the photographer/videographer & manage the studio and online Lars Shop. Jane loves design and living an artful life. That includes collecting beautiful things, interior design and fashion.


Garet started out as an intern and is now our graphic designer. Yep, you got it–she designed all our amazing fabric! She works fully remotely in South Carolina (soon to be North!) and is such a great part of our team. She loves all things creative, but especially sewing, illustration, and designing things for The House that Lars Built!


Carrie started as an intern and is now the Editorial and Content Manager at Lars. She manages the blog content and makes most of our projects. She loves the mountains, running, hiking, backpacking and all things outdoors. Piano, art and sewing are all favorite hobbies, too. It’s been almost a year since Carrie started here at Lars and she’s loving it!


Jenny is the Brand Manager here at Lars — she handles communication with brands, product development, project management and marketing! She has been at Lars for 7 months. In her spare time she loves to ski, climb, run, surf, read and tuft!


Sophie is our studio assistant here at Lars. She’s been here since last fall and helps everything run smoothly in the studio. That means organizing and helping with all kinds of projects and crafts. Sophie loves Las Vegas, warm weather, and is such a fun and bubbly person to have a round!

Hannah (not pictured) 

Hannah is our other studio assistant who just started a few weeks ago. We already love her! She’s amazing at crafting, sewing and all things creative and is so fun to have around.

More Inspiration

Loved our new outfits and want to see more sewing projects? We’ve got you covered. Have you seen our Sewing Basics series yet? Check out weeks one, two, three, and four and stay tuned for the last two weeks soon! Interested in some projects to apply what you’re learning in our sewing basics series? Check out these past sewing projects: Easter outfits, Casetify inspired projects, shaped throw pillows, Mother’s Day apron, quilted shower curtain, quilted face mask, rainbow buttons, reusable lunch sack, and DIY beeswax wraps.

Sewing Basics: Basic Stitches

The Essentials

If you’ve looked at any sewing machine, you’ll see a ton of stitch options, which can sometimes be overwhelming. The good news is, though, that you can sew almost everything with just two stitches! Today we’re going through the essentials of machine stitches. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have the knowledge you need to sew most basic sewing projects (including any sewing project we have on our blog)! 

First up: the straight stitch.

Straight Stitch

This is the most important stitch on your sewing machine, and one you’ll use most frequently. You’ll use it to sew seams on woven fabrics, hems, zippers, and more. By default, you’ll want the straight stitch length set to 2-3 to sew most seams. 

Variations of the straight stitch

The two variations of the straight stitch are the ones you’ll use most frequently. They are:

  1. The basting stitch. For this you’ll lengthen the stitch length to 4. You’ll use this to hold fabric in place without pins. Usually you’ll unpick a basting stitch later, so you want the stitches to be longer so they’ll come out easier. I love using the basting stitch when pins are bulky and more of a nuisance than a help to hold things together. It really helps to flatten and even out the fabric, making it easier to work with.
  2. Gathers. Technically, to make gathers, you’ll simply use the basting stitch. The difference is that you’ll sew two basted rows that are ¼” apart, then pull the top threads to cinch up the fabric and make the gathers.

Another thing you can do with a basting stitch is smocking (essentially, it’s a variation of gathers). We’re not going into the details in this post, but it’s fun to know what options are out there.

Zig Zag Stitch

The next stitch we’re going to discuss is the zig zag. The most common application of this stitch is to finish your seams so they don’t fray. It’s especially helpful if you don’t have a serger. To sew a basic zig zag, set the width to 3 or 4 and the length to a standard 2 or 3. 

You can also use the zig zag to sew on knits. This will help build some stretch into the seams so you don’t pop your seams when pulling them on or off. For sewing on knits, you’ll want to shorten the zig zag width to closer to 1.

Do you have more questions about basic stitches? What else do you want to learn about sewing? Let us know in the comments!

Here are some things you can make with your sewing basics skills:

More Inspiration

Interested in some projects to apply what you’re learning in our sewing basics series? Check out these past sewing projects: Easter outfits, Casetify inspired projects, shaped throw pillows, Mother’s Day apron, quilted shower curtain, quilted face mask, rainbow buttons, reusable lunch sack, and DIY beeswax wraps.