Tips and tricks of upscyling Jeans!

Making jeans can be a little intimidating for some… and we’ve already had a post here about making jeans look more like store bought jeans with details like top-stitching thread and distressing.

But, a really easy way to get your jeans looking professional is to use an old pair that an adult is throwing/giving away! This means a lot less work for you distressing and top-stitching if you’re smart about laying out your pattern pieces! So here it goes…my tips on using pre-existing jeans:

1- Making a few cuts along the seams can really make cutting your pieces much easier! I like to cut along the inside legs/crotch, cut off the waistband and beltloops, and the back pockets.

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2- Be cautious about distressed/washed jeans and laying out your pattern pieces… meaning, if your jeans have a very obvious fade/wash/distress pattern on them then you need to make sure you like where it will be placed and that it will match when you sew up your jeans. For this pair, I wanted the distressed area of the original jeans, so I laid my patterns around that.  Notice that my two pieces are very close to the same area horizontally, and that the back yoke is placed above the back piece.  All of this will ensure that the distressing and wash look natural on my finished jeans.

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You can also use the original hem line if you prefer to get that instead. Remember to account for hem allowance. I did that with this pair, because my jeans didn’t have a very noticeable distressing.

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Use the back pockets when cutting your new pockets, Remember to account for the hem allowance at the top.

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If you’d like to use the waistband and belt loops you can…. but warning, unpicking those belt loop stiches is not fun 😉

If you pattern calls for elastic in the waistband, like my Cpt. Comfort Jeans, then you will have to cut a slit on the wrong side of the waistband to slip your elastic through- I just use a wide zigzag to mend the slit after (I hide the zigzag stitches behind a belt loop!).  Make sure when overlapping that you line up your jeans button and button hole, you can see here on mine they overlapped much more then the pattern called for.  Then you will tack down the bottom of the belt loops 🙂

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3- Now that you have your pieces cut you will continue to sew them just like the pattern calls for  matching the store bought top-stitching thread as best you can. And although they have a wash and distressing, I STILL distress along the way! That way my finished jeans will have the distressing where store bought jeans do, like along pocket lines.

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Now you have a great fitting (no plumbers crack!) pair of jeans that cost you nothing but the thread and time ❤ and plus they look amazing!

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Make ready to wear looking jeans!

Jeans can be an intimidating sewing task, but they really aren’t that difficult and it is so great to have well fitting jeans for you or your little ones! No more plumbers crack when bending down!!!!! 😉

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With my recent release of the Cpt. Comfort Jeans I wanted to post about how to distress your new denim to look more like ready to wear jeans! I personally LOVE the distressed look! Although a super clean dark denim can look nice as a “dressy” pair of jeans like here:

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But for everyday, I just love the little distressed look… something about looking like Daddy gets me every time with my little guy!

So, lets get started on those great store bought look jeans!

You really MUST use a top-stitching thread for all your top-stiching if you want store bought look… I scoffed at my Mom the first time she told me it was a must… BUT she was right, like always!!

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You will use this heavier/thicker weight top-stitching thread in the top only and for top-stitching only. You will use regular thread in the bobbin and for all seams sewing the jeans together– yep, you have to rethread a lot ;). But it is absolutely worth it if you want ready to wear looking jeans! I promise!

You will also NEED a bigger needle designed for heavy weight fabric like denim or you will be breaking needles on those thick belt loops!… here is a single and double needle:

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Now, I only have one machine, so there is A LOT of switching threads and needles if I use the double needle. So, I will often just sew two lines with my single needle instead of switching to my double needle 😉

Now for the distressing, you will need some sandpaper! To be honest, I’m not sure the BEST kind of sandpaper to use… I asked my husband if he had some and used whatever he handed me 😉 Here is a shot of the kind I happen to use!

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The trick to distressing your denim is to do at WHILE you’re sewing the jeans! If you try to do it before it’s hard to gauge where the distressing needs to be. If you do if after you’ve top-stitched them then you will be breaking your top-stitching threads (ask me how I know that one 😉 ) see left top pocket with it’s broken threads :/ oops!

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So, I suggest sewing the jeans together with your normal thread, then distressing with sandpaper before you top-stitch. Here is my patch pocket sewn, turned right sides out, and distressed along the edges (and any other places I fancied at the moment). Then I top-stitched.

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Some areas are harder to distress before topstitching like back pockets, belt loops, any piece that you are top-stitching closed or onto the jean.  But I still follow the same steps.  I just fold and press, distress, then top-stitch onto the back piece.

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So have fun with a little distressing or A LOT! lol! I like a lot 😉 I end up with a mound of blue fuzz all my sewing room by the time I’m done!

Last is the button! I love to use “real” jeans buttons- and honestly, I always have been lucky enough to take them from my loving mother’s stash! But they are very easy to put on, just line up the two parts and hammer away! Yep, you’ll have sandpaper and a hammer in your sewing room for jeans!!

I’ve always used snaps, which are very common on ready to wear for younger children 🙂

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Is it true to size? What size should I make??

Is it true to size?? She’s 3, so I make a size 3 right?? But I always make her a 3 in ‘such and such’ patterns and she wears that size in ready to wear. Seriously, what size should I make??

I constantly see these questions pop up on sewing boards over and over again! Choosing what size to make in a pattern is SO important!! How frustrating is it to waste fabric, time and sometimes tears on something that doesn’t fit? I want to give you some tips and tools that will help you better your sewing forever. You can use these on yourself, child, husband, dog…anyone 😉 The MOST important step in sewing up a pattern is looking and understanding the size chart.

First let’s talk about true to size. True to size. True to size. I see this so much. But true to what size? Ready to wear from… Old navy? Target? The Gap? Gymboree? Ready to wear clothing fits different depending on store….I can’t tell you how many different size jeans I have. I can tell you that most pattern designers use a set of ‘standard’ measurements to create and grade their patterns. Those ‘standards’ may be from a grading book, ASTM book or from their own children. My sister’s, mom and I all use ASTM measurements. It’s a set of measurements taken from all over the body in different age ranges- infant, boys, girls, women and men. Armcyce depth, armcyce width, back to waist measurement, upper arm measurement, ankle width, waist height…. I mean TONS of measurements. We use these to help create our patterns. Designers can be using the same measurements differently. If their child is thin, maybe they size down all the measurements, so their 3 is my size 4. Or vise versa. So ‘true to size’ can be tricky. My patterns are true to my measurements. I also give my patterns a finished fit that I prefer on my daughter. For example my Hailey pants have a lower rise, becuase my daughter will NOT wear her pants high. She wants to wear her pants lower and will just pull her pants down constantly if they are anywhere near that belly button.

This is why I try to give as much information in my size chart as I can AND try give reminders in my tutorials when it may be a good time to fit your model. I like to give chest size and height of the child, finished chest and finished length. This is the size chart from my newest pattern, the Sophie dress.

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First is the child’s chest measurement and the height. My daughter has a chest measurement of 21.5″ and she is 46″ tall. So according to my chart she is a size 2 chest and almost a size 6 for height. She is 4 years old. Now I always ‘mash’ the sizes to get a perfect fit. (My sister explained in that post). But I wanted to go in a little more detail!

So I measure her chest. You want your model to stand straight… even if they whine and cry that they don’t want to….

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You want their hands relaxed at the side. If arms are up, you’re going to get a smaller measurement…no good! Let them stand there for a second and breath normal, no holding breath or sucking in.

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You also want to make sure the measuring tape is not drooping in the back or loose, but do not squeeze tight either!

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You want it nice and straight, all the way around.

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Next I look at the finished chest measurement. How much ease is already built into the dress?? What fit the designer is going for, if it’s a pull on jumper, a zip or button back, does it have sash ties…all this will play into how much ease the pattern has. The Sophie dress has 1.5″ total. That may sound like a lot, but you do NOT want a tight fitting woven dress on a child. They are not going to be able to move or be comfortable. If you think about the dress being on your model, it will have 3/8″ in the front, each side and the back. Plus this dress has ties so you can easily cinch the sides. But hey you may like your daughter’s dress a little looser. Maybe her sister and her are ALMOST the same size, or she may have one too many dresses in her closet for this season (or more like 10 too many dresses?? No?? Just us??) and you want it to fit longer. Looking at the finished measurements can help you choose what size to make. You can hold the measuring tape around your model’s chest with the finished measurement to help visualize how it will fit.

Another EASY tip is to flat measure a finished garment. Choose a dress or top that is in the same type of fabric and similar style. You don’t want to measure a knit t-shirt when we are making a cotton dress. You also don’t want to choose an elastic, shirred or pull on jumper if you’re making a more fitted, zipper or button back dress. They are not going to fit the same. Lay it on the ground flat. Measure under the arm, from one side seam to the other. Okay this dress is about 12″. 12″ flat, means it is 24″ finished (times 2 for the back).

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Looking at my chart, that is between a size 3 and 4.  You must also look at their height. She is almost a size 6 height. This means she has longer arms, legs, torso…she needs more room to get her arm in the dress, more ease to lift her arm and just move to be comfortable. I don’t want her to raise her arm and be stuck. Or have to wrangle her arms CRAZY to get her in the dress….you know you’ve had a dress half on you daughter and she’s screaming because she’s stuck….sorry kid!! This means I choose bigger, the size 4 for her width.

Next finished length. I like to give my finished length from the underarm to hem. I feel like it is more accurate and easier to measure than from the shoulder seam to hem.

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Model stands straight, raises arm slightly and measure right under their underarm and straight down. You don’t want it directly IN their armpit. The armhole is not going to be way up there! I personally usually like her dresses a little shorter. You may like them a little longer. This is easy to adjust, just a little math to figure how much to add or take away from the skirt length measurement. Or if the finished length is a little long, you can also just take a larger hem, then let it out later when she grows, bonus longer wear!

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Maybe your pattern doesn’t have ANY finished measurements, aw oh no! This takes a little more time, but is well worth it. You can flat measure your pattern pieces. For the finished chest, you would need to measure your front and back pieces and account for seam allowances, closures, etc. Worried the sleeve length isn’t going to be right, or you want to change it? Have your model slightly bend her arm and measure from the top of the shoulder to where you want it to hit. Then flat measure your sleeve piece from top to hem. Don’t forget to account for seam and hem allowances, my seam and sleeve hem allowance is 1/2″ each, so 1″ total. (Also I know you love my daughter’s tattoos, which her dad taught her to draw on herself….cool dad trick…)

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Last tip is to make a muslin. I know, I know, NO one wants to make a muslin. But it can be well worth it. Specifically if you’re using special or expensive fabric. To make a muslin, buy CHEAP fabric. Maybe hideous 50 cent fabric you found at goodwill or broadcloth on sale when it was $1.99 is great. Just make sure you are using the same fabric as called for in the pattern. FYI, jersey knit sheets often go on sale at Target and make a great knit muslin. You don’t need to fully construct this dress. For the Sophie dress, you really need the bodice and you don’t even need to do the lining.  Simply baste together the shoulder seams, center panel and side seams. Try on your daughter inside out and pin any areas that need adjusting. For example, maybe the shoulders are a little big, so note and instead of using a 1/2″ seam allowance at the shoulders, use a 5/8″ seam allowance. Badabim, badaboom!

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If  you sell your dresses I suggest listing the finished measurements so your customer can choose. Or if your granddaughter lives in another state, tell your family how to flat measure. I honestly don’t always trust someone’s measurements; kids can be wiggly, whiny and hard to measure if not in the mood.

I hope this helps someone and just maybe it makes you rethink a pattern you used and didn’t have good luck with. I promise this is all well worth the time and these small adjustments will come second nature once you start. Kids are usually not straight sizes or ‘average’. If you aren’t looking and choosing your size by the designer’s chart, you aren’t giving the pattern a real chance! If you have any questions let me know, I love helping if I can. I would also LOVE for you to come sew-a-long with us in my fb pattern group! We’ll be having a lot of fun chatting, sewing and giving away FREE patterns 🙂 Everyone could use more patterns right?? Plus look at all these fun add ons I’m offering exclusively for FREE this week!

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Megan

Full BOOTY Adjustment tips

So in my post about the Greenstyle Taylor Shorts I made myself here … I mentioned I did a “full butt adjustment”.. well because I have a FULL butt 😉

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Well apparently the apple didn’t fall far from the tree… because when I went to measure my LO for some cute Winter Wear Aviator pants, I shared about them here in this post …  his measurements all hit a size 2… but THAT BUM was a size 5! UH-OH! ha ha ha ha… so I flat measured the bum area to see how much ease the pattern had… I decided he did need more room then the size 3 had… so I went to work doing a full butt adjustment for my not quite 2 year old…I thought kids were easier to sew for?????

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I had lots of inquires about a more detailed blog post, so I thought I would share his… it is the same on any size pattern 🙂

It is a really quick and simple adjustment!

Take your back piece and splice it across where the roundest part of their/your booty is.  usually about mid rise on younger/athletic builds 🙂 You will want to leave the seam allowance! Here is a picture of his:

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Now when you go to cut, you will spread out the back rise however much you need to add for the bum… I added about 1/2″ to my LO’s after flat measuring and comparing to his measurements. 

Then you will need to “true up” the sides… since you’re adding length into the rise it wont match perfectly anymore, neither will the outer leg seam… Here is where you can customize your fit even more…

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For my Little Guy who still has a baby figure I didn’t want to loose ANY width on the waist or high hip… so when I “trued up” the outer leg I took the outer edge and added slightly straightening the line up.

When I adjust for myself, I have a small high hip and waist… so I don’t mind taking the inner angle and loosing some width up there.

(Looking back I should’ve taken another picture with a chalk line describing these… I will add those when I need to adjust a pattern for myself, or my little one!!)

I hope this helps those blessed with big bums! 😉

Understitching?!?!?

I KNOW the boutique world love, loves, LOVES topstitching and is a must to most boutique owners…. but what about understitching??? I saw a post in a group on facebook discussing why PDF patterns don’t include understitching instructions and to my surprise, some didn’t even know what it was!

 

So what is understitching? Undersitching is used to prevent a facing or lining from rolling to the outside of the garment. You press the seam allowance toward the facing or lining and edge stitch in place. Unlike topstitching, which is mostly for looks, understiching isn’t seen at all, but can be very important to the construction of a garment. It is very simple!! If you are a visual learner, I snapped some pictures while working on my daughter’s back to school outfit just for you!

 

Why did I choose to understitch this dress?? I will be honest, I don’t always understitch every lined dress I sew. Why? My daughter has so many clothes I make, on top of that she is the 6th grand daughter in a row and has a mountain of hand me downs. Her clothes only get worn a handful of times and I don’t always take the time to understitch. BUT this little tunic I’m hoping it gets a lot of wear. It is something I can pass down to my nieces, as it isn’t something that will go out of style soon and doesn’t have her name on it…. or Frozen 😉 I also wanted to embellish the bodice, which most often causes the lining to roll to the front. So let’s get started! I’m using a mash up of my Alyssa and Molly patterns here, but you can use this technique with ANYthing lined or with a facing!

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On my example, I stitching my lining (white) to my front bodice (abc’s).  Follow your patterns instructions exactly and STOP when you stitch the lining or facing in place. Then, press seam toward lining or facing.

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Now edge stitch (stitch 1/8″ from edge) on the lining side, catching the pressed seam allowance under. You can see my seam allowance under my white lining! You want to catch that when edge stitching in place.

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Press right sides out and continue following pattern instructions. EASY BREEZY!! This simple step makes a HUGE difference in how professional and neat your sewing will look! Is this something you will try?? Let me know and share a picture!!

Megan

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Petite and Tall Pattern Adjustment Tips

So… I’m tall… I mean… I’m TALLLLL 🙂

5’10” no shoes ha ha ha See me towering over my tiny mom?

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It makes finding RTW clothes a CHALLENGE to say the least… yes, I can pay an arm and a leg for “talls” but I want young trendy clothes!! So making my wardrobe is so rewarding for me!

So here are some tips for adding, or taking away length to a pattern for an adult… I’ve already posted how I like to do it for children here. But this method doesn’t work well for adult patterns, because all the sizes are made to fit an average height adult– for women most patterns are 5’6″… The “rule of thumb” is to add/take away 1/2″ for every 1″ that you are “off” the avg height drafted for.

So here we go!

Just like children’s patterns I DO NOT recommend only adding to the bottom hemline… it will make the overall garment longer… but it will not give you a great fit. If you are shorter or taller you need to add/take away length throughout the whole pattern!

This is my newest pattern the Pumpkin Spice Dolman as an example.

This is my pattern piece all taped together normally.

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Knit patterns are much more forgiving in fit… with that being said, the four places I recommend adjusting are: at the shoulder/armscye… just under the bust line… and just under the waistline… and at the bottom hemline

Adding throughout the pattern helps keep the bust, waist and hip where they actually hit you 🙂

Now this is my pattern piece ready to be adjusted—my patterns are no trim pages, so I can simply not over lap as much to add length—for petit you would overlap more to take length away.  I have made myself enough clothing to know how much I need to add to MOST patterns designed for average height– I add about 2 1/8″ to every shirt I make myself… 2 5/8″ to tunics…I even know how much I like in each spot– shoulders a scant 1/8-1/4″, chest and wasit area 3/4-1″, and bottom hem 1/2-1″.

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Here are two pictures showing how you can achieve this:

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The shoulder/armsyce can be done a couple ways– I like to take a smaller seam allowance there to add some length…   You can also splice your pattern straight across where the armsyce is and spread your pattern… I only add about 1/8-1/4″ to mine, but that tiny difference makes SUCH A HUGE difference in how a shirt fits me!

For the chest and waist you can only do with overlap patterns like mine, I simply untapped it, and moved them down, adding what I needed, and retaped that section.

Or you can (with any pattern)… splice it straight across and measure what you’d like to add.

Shortening is the same method, you would just be overlapping instead of adding.

Now all you need to do it cut out and “true up” the sides… since you’re adding or taking away length the sides will not line up perfectly… you will just match them up and straighten them out with your new length.

Repeat process for the other pattern pieces 🙂

Ta-Da!!!! Now you have a shirt that will FIT you! ALL over! 🙂 I could never find this at the store that would actually cover my booty!

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This hasn’t been the cutest blog post, BUT I hope it helps you fit your body shape better, so you can enjoy making yourself some great fitting clothes!! 🙂

How to mash sizes to create the perfect fit!

Do you have a tall skinny minny? Or a little one who needs a bigger width then their height? This is a simple easy route to mashing sizes for children to get a better fit! No more just adding to the hem!! If your child needs length they need it throughout the whole garment, not just the hem! And vice versa if your child is shorter they need it shortened throughout the whole garment.

 

So here is the quick guide. You will take their overall height and match that to the size chart of your pattern… for this example I’m going to be using my niece who is 44″ tall- which matches my size 5.  Her chest and waist match a size 4. So I will be using the width of a 4 and the length of the 5 on every pattern piece!

**I’m going to note in here too that going more then 2 sizes is very hard to keep the proportion and shape of the pattern.

Here is a picture where I highlighted the size 4 and 5 (Size 4 in yellow and size 5 in orange). I don’t typically do this, but I did to help illustrate 🙂

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And here I drew in black to show how I followed the size 4 width overall on the piece and the size 5 length.  See how I made the armhole the size 5 length, and neck hole… these are places where your little ones fit will drastically improve with this method!

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And again, here is the sleeve with a 4 width and 5 length. Make sure you keep EVERY piece the same length/width and your pattern will fit together beautifully 🙂

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Coming from a very tall girl- if your little one needs added length they will be so much more comfortable with that longer armhole/neckhole/bodice!! I can hardly wear shirts that I don’t add that 1/8-1/4″ at my armhole… even though it seems like such a small adjustment it makes such a BIG difference in my fit! 🙂

This method can also be used with a shorter length to width— I used to do this for my little one when he was younger– he is big for age so he was in toddler sizing with a baby figure! He needed a much bigger around then his height and it worked wonderful for him!

Now go create that perfect custom fit!! 🙂