Guest post | Sew together: Beyond the basics

by Admin on 02/03/2012

in Guest Blogger, Sewing+Fabric

Caroline and Maryanne are sisters who live in Sydney, Australia. They come from a long line of crafting women, who have all had the desire to create. They hope to continue this family tradition, spark this same passion in their children and share it with friends. They run a sewing school where Their main focus is to help their students discover the joy of creating beautiful but simple things and the joy that comes from being part of a crafting community. They have a blog too!

Beyond the Basics

We come from a long line of crafty women. While sewing and craft have always been part of who we are, it was only when we had children that it became our passion.

Sewing for children has brought us endless pleasure. Their little bodies are soft and round – there is no need for darts or real shaping other than some simple gathering, an elastic waistband or a few sweet pintucks.

When we started sewing for our children the patterns we chose were super simple – a-line dresses, elastic waisted pants, peasant tops and hooded jackets made up our sewing repertoire. The more things we created, the more we wanted to make and it was through this that we made an exciting discovery. Basic patterns are infinitely flexible and are super easy to adjust, alter and combine. Make a few alterations to a bodice top and combine it with tweaked elastic waisted skirt and voila! You have created an gorgeous dress. If you cut a pair of elastic waisted pants short and add a cuff you make some seriously cute and easy bubble shorts.

There will always be a place for patterns created by expert draftspeople, when we come to a new skill, moving from faux flies to real zippered flies, faux plackets to real plackets, for example, commercial patterns are always our starting point. Through this we acquire a new skill. And after we’ve mastered it? Then the fun begins. We get to play with it!

Some of the things we’ve discovered are:

  • Never use your most expensive or favourite fabric the first time you alter a pattern
  • Be confident with the basic pattern that is your staring point
  • Bias tape is your best friend. It means you don’t have to draft facings.
  • Create a master pattern without seam allowances. This makes drafting additional facings, collars and sleeves much easier. When you’re happy with your draft, don’t forget to add your seam allowances back in.
  • Be aware that your finished product won’t always be the one that you had in mind when you started. Nine times out of ten you’ll love them anyway. This is one of the things that makes pattern alteration so much fun.
  • Embrace the inevitable failures and see them as a learning opportunity

We love this idea so much that we’re doing a series about it on our blog. Each week we take a basic pattern shape and show our readers how infinitely flexible these patterns are. We hope to give our readers the skills to become confident, designers and creators. Pop in and have a look. We’d love to see you!

Take a look at some of the basic patterns that we’ve altered…

  • 1. Basic jacket with ruffle
  • 2. Dress to jacket inspired by this 
  • 3. Modern vintage top ( basic bodice pattern with flutter sleeves and a contrast placket)
  • 4. Sixties inspired dress (a-line dress with peter pan collar and cuffs)
  • 5. Reversible dinosaur jacket (basic jacket with spiked lining!)
  • 6.Ruffled blouse (peasant dress with ruffle collar and placket)
  • 7. A-line dress with bow feature (this one is SO simple to make!)
  • 8. Little girl dress-up dress (bodice top with ruffle, back placket and elastic waist style skirt)


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