Should You Learn to Sew : 4 Things You Should Know

I’ve been sewing for many years and one of the things I hear frequently from my friends is, “I should really learn to sew.” And usually they seem to feel guilty about not sewing. A lot of times I wonder if these friends would really even enjoy sewing. I wonder if they understand all of the detail that is involved in sewing. I wonder why they feel pressure to do something that that might not even enjoy. It’s true that anyone can learn, but it’s definitely not the right hobby for everyone.

So before you heap loads of guilt on yourself for not being able to sew, let me share a few things you should know before you learn to sew.

Should You Lean to Sew: 4 Things You Should Know | Radiant Home Studio

Sewing does not make you a better mom. At least not anymore. There was a time when women needed sewing skills to clothe their family. But sewing is no longer a necessary skill for every woman to have. Sure, it’s nice to be able to repair clothes or make unique gifts, but your kids will be warm and well-fed even if you don’t sew.

Maybe you believe in providing your children with handmade, natural toys and feel guilty about not making them yourself? Try Etsy or the local craft fair. Most likely you will be supporting another mom that believes in providing children with beautiful handmade toys too…without the frustration of trying to make something that doesn’t turn out the way you planned.

Maybe you feel guilty because you can’t teach your kids sewing skills? There are often free community classes or inexpensive classes at local sewing shops. So I can teach my kids to sew, but if they want to fix cars I’ll have to send them out to learn from a friend. Maybe you can teach your kids to fix cars, but not to sew. Embrace the gifts and talents God had given to you, and share them with your friends when you can.

Sewing is not cheaper.  Definitely not at first. And only maybe…if you get really good. Depending on what you make, you need a machine, a pattern, thread, fabric, buttons, buckles, interfacing, extra needles, zippers. This stuff adds up quickly. Plus you need to factor in several hours of your time. I can almost always buy something at Target cheaper than anything I can make, even when I don’t factor in my time.

You have to decide if sewing something is worth it. For example, I can buy a finished pillow for around $10. Something similar might cost me $20 to make. And yet…I make pillow covers. Why? Because I am not limited by what’s available at the store. I have the freedom to choose colors or quality of fabric. I can add zippers or embroidery. If I want a custom color, size or style, I sew it. If the goal is to save money…I don’t sew it.

I have found that this was not the case as when my sewing skills became more advanced. To make a simple t-shirt I might spend $20 to make a top I could have bought for $10 at the store. So I generally still buy my jeans and t-shirts ready-made. But…what if I wanted to make a blazer like one I saw at a high-end mall store. For the same $100, I could make a blazer with nicer fabric, custom fit to my body shape, and with nicer details. It’s only after you have put in hours of practice that sewing begins to pay for itself.

Sewing is detail-oriented. If you aren’t a detail person, you may not be happy with your finished projects. The details are the difference between, “Oh, what a quaint homemade dress…” and “What? You MADE that?! I thought it was from Anthropologie.”

Changing something by a 1/4″ can ruin an entire project. You need to pay attention to figure out which needle size to use when there are dozens of choices, or to figure out the difference between jersey knit, ponte knit, lycra knit, and interlock knit. If those kind of details make you crazy, sewing might not be for you.

Sewing requires a lot of preparation. When I tell people that I like sewing, they imagine me sitting at my machine feeding fabric through a whirring machine. But that part is only about 1/4 of what I spend my time doing.

Before sitting down at the machine, I read through my sewing pattern. If it’s a PDF that requires printing and taping, that can take another 20-30 minutes. If it’s a regular printed pattern, I lightly iron the tissue paper pattern, find the correct pieces and cut them out…also about 20-30 minutes.

Most fabric needs to be prewashed, so that’s a load of laundry to be done. If you want to make alterations to the pattern, you’ll need to spend some time doing the math, and redrawing pattern lines. Laying out the pattern pieces and cutting out the fabric can take an hour or more if you do it properly.

This morning I spent over an hour cutting fabric, cutting interfacing, and ironing on the interfacing before I even sat down at the sewing machine. I’m constantly running between the machine and the ironing board (and around the house to help the kids…) because each seam should be pressed after stitching. It’s all part of the process.

There are parts that I enjoy more than others, but if I didn’t find some satisfaction in the planning and preparation, sewing would not be enjoyable for me. This stuff is all part of “sewing”, and I think you should know before you invest your time and energy into learning.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. You may find that you don’t like all of the preparation, but the satisfaction of the finished projects makes it worth your time. Maybe you have found ways to cut your costs. Or maybe (like me) sewing helps you to relax and it does help you to be a better mom. Maybe the details don’t matter to you and you just like to break all of the sewing rules to make some other kind of fiber art.

So, should you learn to sew? Maybe…it’s up to you. But please don’t feel guilty for choosing not to sew.

Sew because you love it. Love the process. Love the challenge of figuring out new ways to put things together. Love the struggle of doing something hard and the feeling of accomplishment when you get it right. Love choosing fabric. Love studying the details of things around your house to see if you can replicate them. Love making meaningful, and personalized gifts for people. Love repurposing old things to make something new.

But please, sew because you want to…not because you “should”.

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2 Noodlehead Trail Totes

Do you follow Anna at Noodlehead? She recently released a another free pattern called the Trail Tote. It’s a simple cross-body bag, easy enough for a beginner bag maker. (You could even skip the zipper to make easier.) For an experienced sewist, it’s a quick afternoon sewing project.

Noodlehead Trail Totes | Radiant Home Studio

I started working on my Christmas gifts last week. Maybe it’s just an excuse to try the Trail Tote, but I immediately thought of two girls that needed these as Christmas gifts. I love the other patterns I have bought from Anna. I make her divided baskets all the time as baby gifts. The Trail Tote pattern is free, but definitely not lacking any of the quality that you receive in the paid patterns. There is an exterior zipper pocket and an interior patch pocket. The small pleats in the bottom of the bag add a little bit of shape and space to the tote.

Noodlehead Trail Totes | Radiant Home Studio

The pattern includes 2 bag sizes. I chose to make the smaller size for my totes. I followed the instructions as given, but I decided to skip the interfacing. I used a home decor weight fabric (Anna recommends quilting cotton with stabilizer) and I wanted a casual looking bag, so the interfacing didn’t seem necessary. I did use interfacing around the zipper and behind the snaps.

Noodlehead Trail Totes | Radiant Home Studio

I also decided to use pre-made piping for these bags, just to speed up the process since I have a long list of gifts to be made. I found some fun gold piping that I used on the coral colored bag. I wouldn’t normally add something like that to a bag for myself, but it’s perfect for a younger girl that loves fancy, girly things.

Noodlehead Trail Totes | Radiant Home Studio

My fabric is from a local home decor fabric outlet, and I ordered the metal hardware from Janelle at Emmaline Bags.

Noodlehead Trail Totes | Radiant Home Studio

Overall, this is a great pattern that I can highly recommend. Anna has a knack for designing functional bags with interesting details, but with simple construction. And at the risk of sounding like an advertisement (it’s not – I’m just excited about it!), she also has a book coming out in February with lots of new projects in her same simple handmade style.

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Evelyn Handbag for Pattern Parcel #7

I just finished sharing several items from Pattern Parcel #6 and it’s already time for Pattern Parcel #7! This is the last one for the year, but one that I was particularly excited to receive – bag patterns!

Of course, I’d love to make them all…but with Christmas coming up, my gift sewing is taking priority. I decided to try the Evelyn Handbag by ChrisW. I’ve read consistently excellent reviews of her patterns and I wanted to test one for myself.

Evelyn Handbag | by ChrisW Designs | Radiant Home Studio

This is a really pretty handbag. It’s feminine shape and detailed styling make it look store-bought. It’s labeled as an intermediate pattern, which seems appropriate. There isn’t anything particularly hard about the pattern, but it requires attention to detail and slow sewing in many places. I would recommend that you put together a couple of other simple bags before attempting something with this level of detail.

Evelyn Handbag | by ChrisW Designs | Radiant Home Studio

The pattern has many pages, but only about 10 pages need to be printed. The rest of the pages are filled with great details to help you make a professional looking bag. One of the pattern features that I particularly liked was the label tags for the rectangular pieces. It was helpful to keep the pieces organized, and I may try incorporating a similar tag system into my future patterns and revisions. Christine also includes a section of printable directions without all of the photos, so that you can have a hard copy of the directions without using up your color ink.


There are plenty of pockets for everything. The elasticated side pockets are just the right size for a phone. There is also an exterior zipper pocket and interior pockets on both sides of the lining. One interior pocket is a patch pocket with a zipper pouch on front. I skipped the zipper for the interior pocket, and just added the patch pocket. Other than that, I didn’t make any changes. The pieces fit together perfectly and the construction techniques are efficient.

Evelyn Handbag | by ChrisW Designs | Radiant Home Studio

This is the first time I have used bag feet. They are applied like magnetic snaps. It’s a fairly inexpensive addition that adds a lot of class to the bag and something I will definitely use again. I ordered my hardware from Janelle at Emmaline Bags and was pleasantly surprised by the shipping time and the extra little gift Janelle included in the package.

Evelyn Handbag | by ChrisW Designs | Radiant Home Studio

I used a lavender wool herringbone for the main exterior. It’s been in my stash for a couple of years and worked well for the bag. It was a thinner weight wool, so I made sure to choose a stable interfacing and added the fusible fleece on all of my pieces. The interior leopard print fabric is a home decor weight cotton and the faux leather is from JoAnn Fabrics.

The Evelyn Handbag is part of the last Pattern Parcel of the year. I think this group of patterns is perfect right before the holidays, since bags make great gifts. There is such a nice variety that there’s really a bag for every need and every style.

Pattern Parcel #7: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

Parcel #7 includes:

Barcelona Bag and Wallet by Pat Bravo
Butterfly Sling Purse by Emmaline Patterns
Evelyn Hangbag by ChrisW Designs
Midtown Messenger Bag by Betz White
Betty Bowler by Swoon Sewing Patterns

BONUS PATTERN: Daphne Bag, by Clover & Violet

Choose a price of $32 or greater for Parcel #7 and you will automatically also be sent the Bonus Pattern! That’s just over $5 a pattern. The Bonus Pattern for this Parcel is the brand new Daphne Bag pattern from Clover & Violet. The Daphne is a slouchy satchel that can be worn cross body or as a shoulder bag. The zip top keeps your gear secure and the internal pockets keep your accessories where you need them. This is a brand new, never been seen before pattern and is an exclusive opportunity for Parcel #7 customers!

How Pattern Parcel Works:

Here at Perfect Pattern Parcel, we believe in supporting independent pattern designers. It’s our opinion that indie patterns are just, well, better than big box patterns, and we’re pretty sure our customers think so too. So, we allow customers to show their support in naming their own price for each Parcel.  We also encourage customers to allocate part of their Parcel price to the charity in order to help classrooms in need. Pattern Parcel donates all profits after expenses from Parcel sales to the charity as well. Its our goal to raise over $20,000 for Donors Choose this year.

Head over to the Pattern Parcel site for more details…

Want to see more finished bags from these patterns? Follow the blog tour to see what everyone is making and be inspired to create your own bags!

Parcel #4 Inspiration Tour Schedule:

[Read more…]

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2015 Tea Towel Calendar {Joy comes in the morning}

I’ve had a couple of people ask if I was making a new tea towel calendar design this year. With all of my sewing I almost forgot about it, but I managed to finish my design just in time! (The watermark won’t be on the design.)

Joy Comes in the Morning | 2015 Tea Towel Calendar

Since most people hang the tea towel calendar on the wall (I think…at least I do!) I wanted to write something that would be encouraging and inspiring. It says, “Joy comes in the morning“, which is from Ps. 30:5. “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” The joy of knowing Jesus chases away the sorrow of this life. It’s a daily reminder to persevere through suffering and find our joy in Jesus.

There are many fun and beautiful entries, and voting is open until next Thursday morning. Tea towels seem to be popular Christmas gifts, and Spoonflower announced a 2-for-1 deal coming up soon! Or you can buy 4 on a yard. They end up being somewhere around $7 each. I still need to proof my design, but I’m hoping to have it available in time for the sale.

Finally, I have a tutorial showing you how to hem your tea towels so you can give them as gifts!

Update: My tea towel is now for sale and I have updated my Wildflower tea towel calendar with dates for 2015.

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20 Best Sashiko Embroidery Tutorials & Projects

Sashiko Embroidery Tutorials and Projects | Radiant Home Studio

Recently I finished sewing a Zsayla blouse. It had a large yoke, perfect for embroidery. I looked at several beautiful embroidery patterns, but I really wanted something simple and clean. I had a seen a few Sashiko projects and decided to try this method of embroidery for my blouse.

Sashiko Enbroidery Tutorials and Projects | Radiant Home Studio

While I was working on learning the techniques for myself, I gathered a list of the best Sashiko embroidery tutorials and lessons, including some video instruction. I also listed several Sashiko projects for inspiration, a few free patterns, and some ideas for making your own patterns.


Purl Bee Sashiko Embroidery Tutorials | Radiant Home Studio

The Purl Bee has a detailed Sashiko tutorial showing the right types of thread and needles up close. They also sell preprinted starter kits.

This Sashiko Tutorial method shows you how to trace your pattern onto interfacing. This is the method I used for my Zsayla blouse.

This helpful list of Sashiko do’s and don’ts teaches you how to stitch at corners and intersections.

This Sashiko lesson is filled with helpful tips, design ideas, and instructions for transferring designs with tailor’s chalk.

Make your own Sashiko designs with graph paper or dot matrix paper, then learn how to transfer it to your fabric with this Sashiko tutorial video.

My tips for adding sashiko embroidery to a Zsayla top, using lightweight interfacing to transfer the design (below).

Sashiko Embroidery Tutorials and Projects | Radiant Home Studio

This video gives a quick demonstration on how to stitch a sashiko design with your sewing machine. If you just like the geometric designs and want to add embellishment more quickly, this might be a good method for you.

Melissa’s tips for adding sashiko embroidery to a knit blouse using interfacing to transfer the design.

Project Ideas:

I love these simple linen reversible Sashiko Placemats on the Purl Bee blog. They would make a beautiful modern, handmade addition to your table.

And a Colorful Sashiko Pillow, also at the Purl Bee, shows you how to add a bright and fun twist to the traditional Sashiko stitching.

There are a few Sashiko cloud pattern ideas in this blog post, including a placemats and embellishment on a chambray dress.

Sashiko Embroidery Flickr Pool Screenshot | Radiant Home Studio

There is a Sashiko Flickr group filled with beautiful projects to inspire you! This makes me want to add Sashiko stitching to everything…

Sashiko Embroidery Tutorials |Lampshade via WildOlive | Radiant Home Studio

Speaking of adding it to everything—how about this Sashiko embroidered lampshade made by Mollie at Wild Olive?

Check out this Sashiko Pinterest board that is filled with more inspiration and links. Or just search for Sashiko boards on Pinterest— there are dozens!

I can leave out a this beautiful tote with Sashiko bag handles!

Sashiko Embroidery Tutorials Quilt Patterns |Courtesy of Wikimedia | Radiant Home Studio

Look at the variety of patterns in this sashiko sampler quilt.

Free Sashiko Patterns:

Here are 8 free Sashiko designs — you have to click through, right click and save the image.

There several Sashiko designs here, available in a variety of sizes and formats.

Small Sashiko Embroidery Cloud Pattern | via Craftsy | Radiant Home Studio

There is a simple Sashiko cloud pattern on Craftsy.

Or you can use graph paper to make you own patterns. There are several simple geometric ideas that you can easily draw and use for any project.

Feel free to link up any other helpful tutorials or inspiring projects in the comments. Happy Stitching!

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