Neon Briar by Megan Nielsen

I love colour and usually the brighter the better. But it’s entirely possible that I’ve just found my limit. Neon Briar Top by Megan Nielsen. I need this pattern! | Offsquare.wordpress.com This fabric is a hi-viz pink merino from The Fabric Store and it’s great for a blast of colour. It almost assaults my wintery, sun-starved eyes but I love it because it’s so unexpected when everyone else is wearing black.

It will be perfect as a warm-up layer when running too. Neon Briar Top by Megan Nielsen. I need this pattern! | Offsquare.wordpress.com I used the Briar Sweater and T-shirt pattern by Megan Nielsen and made a length somewhere between the cropped and long sizes while also straightening the front hem and slightly raising the neckline.

Megan has an app you can download with all her patterns, tutorials and tips. It’s very cool. I saved paper by not needing to print instructions, her tutorials were thorough and easy to follow and I love that I’ll always have details on hand when fabric shopping.

Well played, Megan. Well played. Neon Briar Top by Megan Nielsen. I need this pattern! | Offsquare.wordpress.com This definitely won’t be my last Briar. I have some more merino waiting in the wings already, although not in neon this time!* It’s such a great basic pattern to have in the arsenal and one of the few I have that is aimed at knit fabrics.

I love a versatile pattern and this is right up there with my two other favourites; the Belcarra Blouse and the Sigma Dress. I have them all on solid repeat with small variations each time.

What are the patterns you make over and over again?


*The neon aspect was really hard to capture, but after several failed attempts, it took a rainy day and the dingy depths of an underpass to capture the vibrancy.  I actually lost sleep over this one, trying to think of places I could take photos where the sun wouldn’t hit it. Darn you, neon! You guys do this too, right? It’s totally the norm for sewing bloggers to lose sleep about their photo locations? Yeah, I’ll just tell myself it is. Right before I drift off to sleep tonight thinking of non-photo thoughts.

Sunki Dress by Figgy’s Patterns // Teaching a Child to Sew

Poppet loved helping me tape together the .pdf pattern for my recent Mesa Dress. Since then, she has been cutting and taping any pieces of paper she can get her hands on.

So when I asked if she would like to sew herself a new dress, her eyes lit up and she jumped and down saying “yes, yes yes!”. A girl after my own heart.

In hindsight, I should have started her on a simple elasticated skirt. It really would have been the most logical approach. But what can I say … the excitement of teaching her stifled all rational thinking. There’s nothing like throwing a zip insertion, facing and sleeve easing at a first time sewer. *head slap*

Sunki Dress by Figgy Patterns | Offsquare.wordpress.com

I’ve had this Sunki Dress pattern (by Figgy’s patterns) for longer than I care to admit, but how gorgeous is that shape? In fact, Figgy’s have a stellar range of sewing patterns for kids and all with delicious styling.

The Sunki Dress is not a tough sew either. The instructions may be a bit lacking in places for beginner sewers (and illustrations are rather sparse), so I’d pitch this as an intermediate level project, but really the zip and facings are the only potential hazards.

The Making

While I traced off her pattern size, Poppet dove into my fabric stash and emerged enthusiastically with an ikat scuba knit. A great choice and one that doesn’t need seam finishing … an extra bonus.

She cut the paper pattern herself over a couple of days, as her attention span allowed, and together we chose the fabric placement and pinned the pattern in place (I may have snuck in a little pattern matching too). Poppet drove the machine herself while I guided the fabric and offered instruction, but on the whole she achieved a lot herself.

Tips for Teaching Kids to Sew

  • I recommend working in small bursts as their interest and enthusiasm lasts. We took many breaks, working over a few days and this kept the project fun and light.
  • You want them to have a healthy respect for the moving parts on the sewing machine, so discuss this with them when you first sit down at the machine and make sure you supervise them well.
  • I found it useful to turn the machine off whenever I had to rethread the needle or fix a jam. You don’t want them inadvertently pressing on the peddle and running the machine while your fingers are under a needle!
  • If pins are too “stabby” for their little fingers, you can use clothes pegs to hold seams in place instead. Opt for spring loaded ones which will provide good grip and you can encourage them to “sew to the next peg” before they stop and remove one.

Teaching kids to sew | Offsquare.wordpress.com

While Poppet slept, I whipped through the tricky parts (zip, facings and sleeves), leaving the hems for later. But she loves the dress so much that she’s banned me from touching it again!

“No mummy, I love it like this.”

So the dress is unhemmed and too long in the sleeves, but meh, it’s knit fabric. No fraying, no biggie.Sunki Dress by Figgy Patterns | Offsquare.wordpress.com

It was such a fun project to do together and it’s a great feeling when you can pass skills like this onto your kids.

Next up with Poppet will be a simple elastic waisted skirt and I’ll try to get her doing the whole thing. Wonky seams and inaccurate cutting won’t be a big deal and it’ll be a good boost for her sewing confidence.

My boy also wants to make something, so I’m looking at a t-shirt or some trousers for him. I just need to decide which will be an easier make, now that my rational thinking is back in action.

Free Sewing Patterns

Everyone loves something for nothing and while sewing can be expensive, it doesn’t need to be. There are some great places offering a slew of free patterns available for instant download and here are some of my favourite places to go hunting.

Just remember, you don’t need to be bound by a pattern, especially when it has cost you nothing. Whether sewing from scratch or working on a refashion, you can mash up various patterns to create your ideal garment. An arm scythe here, a neckline there and a skirt from yonder. Pull out the parts you need to create the garment you want. That’s the joy of sewing!

1. Peppermint magazine – Sewing School Peppermint mag Sewing School

Peppermint mag is a gorgeous Australian based eco magazine. As a bonus, each issue features a new ‘Sewing School’ project. But don’t be put off if you can’t buy the mag. It’s completely accessible through their online platform, no matter where you live.

2. Dresses and Me Dresses and Me free patterns

While Penny at Dresses and Me has a great selection of sewing patterns to buy (ideal for those in New Zealand), she has also curated a selection of links to free sewing patterns available for download, including the ever popular Sorbetto by Colette.

3. Oliver + S

Oliver and S free patterns

Oliver + S make the cutest patterns for kids. They make me want to sew for my kids more often. But did you know they have a range of free patterns available on their site too? Not to mention printable swatch cards. My stash needs that kind of order.

4. Burdastyle

Burdastyle free patterns

Burdastyle is a great resource for sewing patterns, inspiration and techniques. There is also a small selection of patterns available for free and what I really love, is that you can see what others have made using the patterns you like.

5. Dana Made It

DanaMadeIt

Dana has a beautiful blog full of tutorials, patterns and sewing advice. As with most of the links above, some of her projects do require you to purchase a pattern, but many of them are also free and her explanations are clear and thorough. Dana has projects for babies, kids, women and even home decor.

Where do you like to go for great free patterns?

Embracing Winter with a Blazer

My life needs a navy blazer! | offsquare.wordpress.com

Blazers! I mean, who doesn’t love a perfectly tailored blazer, right?

I bought this pattern (McCall’s 4928) many years ago, captivated by the multiple front and back seams and the fact that it’s fully lined. Those kind of seams make for ideal tailoring, meaning you can cinch it in or let it out exactly where you need it. Continue reading

Anima Pants by Papercut Patterns

I have a personal rule that track pants are not to be worn beyond the letterbox (unless, of course, legitimate exercise is taking place). So it’s really fun to have something as effortless as track pants without the ‘I’ve given up on life’ look.

Anima Pants by Papercut Patterns | Offsquare.comWhile these pants are a little louder than I’m accustomed to (and it’s why they’ve sat in the wardrobe for a few months), it just took the addition of fun red heels and a racer back top for me to finally fall in love. Continue reading