Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekly Wound Up

My kids are counting down the days until we take a little family trip. It's not much longer to wait but they were saying today how it seems like it will never come. Isn't it funny, how as kids we watched the time drag on while waiting for something fun -- but now, as adults, the time just flies by?!  If your week was at all like mine, you might be wondering how we already got to another Saturday and another Weekly Wound Up! But here we are, and I have a lot of great stuff to share:

New Releases

We kicked off the week by releasing two fabulous crochet patterns! First up is Etta's Pocket Pixie Scarf! Who doesn't love pockets in accessories?? With this pixie-hooded scarf, you can keep little ears AND hands warm! This pattern works up quickly and is sure to be your go-to "on-the-go" accessory! Rosette accent instructions are included! 

And then Mona's Hoodie Cowl is also a MUST HAVE for your winter wardrobe! Worn as cowl or as a hoodie, with it's ribbed and crossover stitch design, Mona's is not only warm--it's a show-stopper! 

 Then on Wednesday we released the much-anticipated Nova's!  Nova's Square Flutter Top and Dress features classic flutter straps, a square neckline, and multiple back tying options. You can do a beautiful criss-cross tie to give a unique look or do a standard buttonhole tie for excellent coverage! Nova also features a fun 4-panel skirt with two sweet and simple ruffles.

Just yesterday we released Winnie's Hooded Dress and Sweatshirt. Winnie's is so warm and comfy! The two different ear options give it many different looks. You can use fleece, minky, and even faux fur as long as it has stretch! Winnie's is on sale for 30% off today! 

On the Blog

If you've been looking for the perfect top pattern for expectant mothers, come see how you can make Evie's as a maternity top! Our step-by-step photos will make it easy!  

Come learn how to add a drawstring to your favorite skirts and shorts patterns! On Tuesday, Shayna Engel showed us how she does it for her bitty girl. 

Whether you are all new to sewing or just want to brush up on your basics, come join us on the blog for two new episodes in our Sewing 101 series: "Threading Your Machine" and "Starting to Sew". We even have this mini printable for you to tape to your machine. (Super helpful when teaching your kids too!) 


After the release of our Nova's pattern on Wednesday, we had a lot of fan asking how to make the flutters longer. We all love more options so we decided to add them right into the pattern!  If you have already purchased Nova's, simply re-download your copy for the updated version that now has more options available! 

 In celebration of our 2-year anniversary of selling doll patterns, every single doll pattern is on sale for only $3.50 each!! Grab as many as you can- tiered pricing is on! This is a great sale that you need to take advantage of -- we don't do big sales like this often! Doll dresses make the perfect present for so many occasions. Sale ends Sunday!

Our #ckcfangirl promotion was such a hit last weekend that we decided to take it right into a new contest!  You can get all the details by watching this video from Shannon and Tiffany: 

Weekend Sales

Amanda's Triple Ruffle Skirt is our first half-off pattern for this weekend!  You can get it in girls, tweens, women's, and even doll's sizes, each for 50% off!  Amanda's fun design features three tiers of ruffles and a comfy elastic waistband. This sassy skirt can be perfect for a variety of occasions, from casual to dressy! 

The second pattern that is half off this weekend is Clover's Criss-Cross Top and Dress!  

 Clover's features that adorable criss-cross bodice and a shirred waist, and it comes with three different options for skirt length: top, sundress, and maxi.  That's a lot of different looks from just one pattern! Be sure to grab your copy of Clover's while it is 50% off, this weekend only! 


 Whew, that was a lot of announcements! I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. I also hope you have a fabulous weekend and enjoy sewing up all your new patterns!

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sewing 101: Threading the Machine

In the previous episode of our Sewing 101 series, we showed which Supplies You Really Need to get started. Now that you have all that ready to go, today you're going to learn how to thread your sewing machine!  It's not difficult at all but with a few pointers you should be able to pick it up quickly and get on to what you really want to be doing -- sewing!  So let's jump right in. 

First of all, put your spool of thread onto the holder. Yours may look different depending on your machine. Slide it on all the way, and add a stopper to hold it in place if your machine requires it. Check to make sure that the thread pulls off smoothly. This is our top thread. Now let's take a look at the bottom thread, or bobbin: 

This is what the bobbin looks like, although yours might be made of metal or a different type of plastic. Some bobbins drop in through the top like this one, and some bobbins are front-loading. If you aren't sure which you have, you may need to look in your manual for extra help. But whichever type you have, you will need to put thread on it, and that process is the same for both. Right now you can see that my bobbin is empty, so in the next few steps we are going to wind thread onto it using our top spool. 

To begin, pull some thread out from the top spool and wrap it around the screw to the left, as shown by the guide on your machine. Some models have you wrap it once while others do a figure 8.  Wrap the thread as directed on your machine and then pull it to the far right, where you will find the bobbin winder (on most models.) 

Insert the end of the thread up through a hole on the top surface of the bobbin.  Then slide the bobbin onto the post until it latches in place. Slide it to the right to engage it. It should now look like the photo above, with the thread still going through the small hole. 

Pull the thread upward so it is taut and then begin to "drive" with your foot pedal.  The bobbin should spin quickly, wrapping the thread around it. Continue for just a few seconds. 

Once the thread has wrapped just enough to be secure, clip it where it comes out through the hole on top. 

Then continue "driving" as the bobbin fills up with thread. 

Most machines have a stopper, such as the white plastic one above, that will stop the bobbin from spinning once it has filled up to a certain amount. Keep an eye on it so you can stop your foot pedal once it gets full and the bobbin stops spinning. 

Now you can cut the connecting thread and remove the bobbin!

Take the bobbin back down to where it needs inserted (whether it's the top like mine or the front like other models) and thread it according to your manual's instructions.  You can see on the clear plate of mine above that there is a drawing showing how to wrap my thread. Machine manufacturers want to make this process easy on us and most new machines have illustrations where they are easy to see. 

 Once your bobbin is in place with the thread going toward the back, you are ready to go back to the top thread. 

Back on top of the machine, we are ready to thread our top thread.  Again, there are usually numbers or arrows to help with this process.  You generally begin by going behind a post, as shown above. 

Then the thread pulls downward through the machine...

And back upward again, just as the arrows show us. 

At the top, the thread will again wrap around a post, and this time it is a moving part (one that goes up and down as you sew) so if you cannot see it at first, you may need to twist the hand knob toward you until it appears. See the photo above.

Next, pull the thread downward again, as indicated by arrows.  Although there is some variation in sewing machines, they do all seem to follow this general down-up-down movement.  

With the thread down by the foot, many machines have a little notch at the top of the presser foot that you can slide your thread into for extra stability.  If your machine doesn't have this notch, don't worry about it. Mine does but my daughter's does not. 

Now it's time to thread the needle! Slide the thread into the needle hole from front to back. Some machines have a built in threader but I usually like to do it by hand. 

Now that both of your threads are in place, pull them both toward the back of your machine and you are ready to get sewing!  You are all threaded! 

Please join us for the next episode in our Sewing 101 Series!  You can find it here:

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 

Sewing 101: Starting to Sew

It's always fun to learn a new skill but it can also be overwhelming, especially the first time you sit down to actually start.  You get yourself settled in front of your shiny new sewing machine, and then take a deep breath, and... now what?   

Well, you can either jump right into a new pattern or practice on scraps for awhile first. (I'm a practicer, myself.) Whichever you decided to do, I always tell my kids/students to remember three important steps every time they sew. These will get you started off right and prevent a lot of problems.  Here they are:

After you've done these three things, you're ready to hit the foot pedal and go!  

We'll talk about each of the steps in more detail, but I thought you might like the little printout above that you can tape to your sewing machine or your wall as a reminder! You can download it here. You'll be glad you did! Alright, let's take a closer look.

The first step is to line up your fabric. The engraven lines on the metal plate of your machine are very important, so you need to become familiar with them. If you have an older machine, the lines might not be marked but each one usually stands for a measurement, such as 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", etc.  These lines show the distance measured out to the side from the needle.  So if your pattern tells you to sew with a 3/8" seam allowance (as most CKC patterns do) then you will want to be sure you have a line that is 3/8" to the right of your needle. On my daughter's sewing machine I carefully measured over with a ruler and drew a straight line from front to back with a sharpie. You cannot sew a straight seam without a guide! 

Now that you know which line you want to follow, slide your fabric under the presser foot of your machine. You want the right edge of your fabric to line up with the 3/8" line on the right, and the far edge of your fabric to line up with the needle. See the photo above. 

The second step is to lower your presser foot. The presser foot is the little gadget that looks like skis, and you can lower it by using the lever behind it or to the back/right of it, depending on your machine.  After lowing your presser foot, check to make sure the fabric is still lined up correctly.  If it's not, raise the foot and retry until it is lined up right.

(Note: If you forget to lower your presser foot, the fabric will move around instead of feeding through, and the threads will get all tangled. This is why it's helpful to use the printed checklist until the steps become a habit.) 

The third step is to hold your threads! You need to find two threads (one from above and one from below) and hold them tightly.  You can hold them with two fingers as I do, as shown above, or you can simply press down on them against the machine so they won't slip. 

(Note: If you forget to hold the threads, they will often get pulled down into your machine and tangled. This is the most common complaint of self-taught seamstresses. So if you always hold the threads toward the back, you will save yourself a lot of trouble!) 

You do not need to hold the two threads the whole time you sew though. It is only for the first two or three stitches, until the threads have a chance to secure themselves in the fabric. The you can let go and use your hand to guide the fabric. 

It is a good idea to backstitch at the beginning and ending of every line you sew, unless the pattern tells you otherwise.  To back stitch, you will sew a couple stitches (while holding the threads), then hold down your reverse button or lever to sew a couple stitches backwards, and then release the reverse button so you can continue sewing forward.  This takes a little practice but it will soon become second nature. 

Then continue sewing along the length of your fabric.

When you get to the end of the fabric, you will again hold down the reverse button so you can do a couple backstitches to secure the thread.  Backstitching on both ends helps secure the stitches all the way to the ends of the seam so you will have sturdy construction. We want our cute clothes to last! 

After you're done sewing and backstitching, just lift up the presser foot and pull your fabric away. You can clip the threads and move onto the next step in your pattern!

Now you can see that getting started does not have to be overwhelming at all!  I hope you will take a minute to print out the little cheat sheet we have for you above. Cut it, tape it to your machine, and then jump right into sewing!  Your new adventure awaits.

Let's Create! ~ Kristen

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Adding a Drawstring

Hello my fellow CKC Fangirls! This is Shayna, owner of Shadandy Shoppe (which sounds a lot more important and official than it really is). I’ve only been sewing since May, but, mostly thanks to CKC, I have grown by leaps and bounds and have even opened a boutique! But the most fun I get to have is sewing for this little nugget.

Isn’t she cute?! Know what else she is? Skinny. So skinny that we have 6-9 month store-bought pants that still fit around her waist with room. And can you tell what else she is? Tall. Last appointment she finally hit 36 inches tall. Best part? She’s about to turn two in a few weeks. So on top of being skinny and tall, she is fiercely independent. She lets me dress her (small favors) but she is particularly picky about how she wears pants. Knit leggings, for instance, she likes when the waistband sits over her belly button. For her cotton bottoms, it really depends on the day. Some days she likes them on her belly (which gets tricky when her 18 inch waist shoots up to 22 inches after a full meal; not kidding) or under her belly across her hips (a grand 16.5 inches). So, in store bought pants, that’s a pretty impossible range of sizes to fit. Even making her pants, making a standard waistband means that certain days, the pants will either be squeezing her poor tummy, or falling off of her tushy (which is teeny tiny).

Enter the mighty drawstring! This pull tie is sewn to elastic in the waistband, so it can still stretch to fit, but I can also tie it to fit her according to her mood (and hopefully growing size). This method is great for growing kiddos, oddly proportioned littles, and photographers who use the same garment to fit a range of sizes. I’ve done this on three bottoms so far (even a non-CKC one) and it works on EVERYTHING I’ve tried so far. The only complication is with flat-front pants, but if you still want them adjustable, you can either alter them to have a full waistband or create the pull ties with the back elastic.

I promise, this tutorial is easy as cake. In some ways, I find it simpler than a standard waist.

Step 1: Cut what you need. You need to look at what kind of elastic you need for your bottoms. For Brenna’s Bubble Shorts, for instance, I needed 17.5 inches of ¾ inch elastic for the 12/18 month size. You want to cut 4 inches less than the elastic measurement in your pattern (13.5 inches in this case).  You also need to pick what you’re using for your ties. You could make some with matching fabric (I’ll include how to do this near the end), or just find a cute ribbon. The best option is finding a ribbon the width of your elastic. However, you can use a ribbon that is slightly wider or narrower. If you pick a narrower ribbon, I do not recommend any smaller than 1/8 of an inch, to prevent uneven pressure and pulling on your elastic.

The ribbon length is really personal preference. For me, cutting the ribbon in two 18 inch pieces (you will need to cut one for each side) worked out nicely with a bow that I was more than happy with at most sizes I could tie it at. A good guideline is to cut them the length of the original elastic measurement in your pattern. You will be trimming them slighly later in this method, so you can always shorten them if it’s too long.

Step 2: Seal one end of your ribbon with a lighter or fray check. It helps support your ribbon and protect it from fraying/ripping where it will be sewn down. You can also similarly seal the ends of your elastic if you like. I certainly suggest this if you’re using a ribbon narrower than your elastic. Don’t worry about sealing the other end at this point, you’ll have to trim it down at the end.

Step 3: Sew! Using any stitch you prefer ( I like a zig-zag stitch for this) attach your ribbon on the sealed side to your elastic with about ½ inch of overlap. I go over it quite a few times to make sure it’s not going anywhere. If your ribbon is wider than yoru elastic, just scrunch it up as you sew to fit. If your ribbon is narrower, just center it on your elastic and make sure to sew to either end of the elastic, not just the ribbon. Repeat on the other side and MAKE SURE you put both pieces of ribbon in the same direction. It can be very obvious on a printed ribbon if one side is upside down. If your machine tends to pull or get stuck on the elastic, a wider stitch length will do wonders, as will putting your ribbon on the bottom when you sew them together. You can now put your waistband/drawstring aside.

Step 3: Here’s where you tackle the waistband. You have to do a smidge of math for this one, but most patterns will give you the same measurement. Match up the halves of your pant/shorts (or single seam on a skirt) according to your pattern, and choose the side you want the ties on. First, you need to figure out what to sew before your opening. To do this, you need to know a) how much you fold over to cover your open seam, probably ¼ of an inch, and b) how far your will be folding the end over to create your waistband. Remember this last measurement; you’ll need it again in a minute. If you’re using ¾ inch elastic, it’s normally a 1 inch fold. For 1 inch elastic, it’s closer to 1 ¼ inch. Add this last measurement and the amount you found for the first one. For me, I ended up with 1 ¼ inches. Mark where the measurement ends when you start from the top of the waist (make sure you don’t end up starting on the bottom of the leg by accident), and sew from the top to your mark. 

It will look like this picture above when you’re done.

Step 4: Now you measure the gap you’ll be leaving. Take that measurement (the one of how far you fold for your waistband), take away 1/8 of an inch, and mark where it ends from the end of that first seam you made. DO NOT sew in this gap; you need it to be open for your drawstring to go in. Sew from your mark all the way to the crotch, then sew the legs together and follow your pattern for construction.

Step 5: Reinforce your gap. I don’t have photos (SORRY!) but you can a)press open the seam and sew down the ends, b) serge the separate edges, c) roll hem the edges, or d) just leave them. I don’t totally recommend leaving them plain, but for your own personal use, it’s unlikely to be a huge issue. On this grey fabric, I was able to use a lighter and melt it together.

Step 6: When you get to sewing down the waistband, DO NOT leave a gap for the elastic. You don’t need it, and it will be far easier to thread it through the gap you created earlier. Finish up your bottoms besides steps involving the elastic.

Step 7: Using a safety pin on one edge of the ribbon, thread it through your waistband. It will be a bit tricky to get the elastic in, but that’s a good thing, as it will be difficult to pull it out to be visible, as well. Just fold or scrunch it slightly and pull slowly, it will go in. Thread it all the way and adjust until both ends are out evenly.

Step 8: Remember how I said you’ll need to trim the ends? That safety pin doesn’t like ribbon all that much, so you’ll need to trim, then seal, off that end. Make sure to trim the other side equally to make it even. If you think your ribbon is a little too long, now’s a great time to cut off that extra length.

EXTRA STEP: If you want to create your own ties, cut two pieces of fabric. They will be twice the width of your elastic + ½ inch, and the length of the original elastic measurement in your pattern minus ¾ inch. So, if I were to cut my own ties for the 12/18 month Brenna’s Bubble Shorts, I would cut two pieces 2 inches wide (3/4 x 2 + ½), and 16 ¾ inches long (17 ½ - 3/4). Fold in half and sew down the long side and one short side. Turn inside out, press, and top stitch 1/8 inch away from the edge. You can then attach the same way you attach the ribbon.

And in 8 (or 9) steps, you’re done!

Cute, right? I’m now making all of my daughter’s bottoms like this. She loves that she’s always comfortable in them. And I love knowing these will fit her for a long time!