Pattern Testing

I’ve been scarce lately, because life can be a little crazy sometimes. I’ve been getting everything done for my grad school applications (essay, harassing my friends to fill out reference forms, etc) and thinking to myself that I must be insane because I haven’t written a formal paper since I finished college almost 5 years ago and now I’m thinking about going back. I’ve also had to still be mom to the kids, try to fight my arch enemy (laundry…I think I’m losing) and get the final testing of my pattern done and instructions finished.

Yep. Definitely insane.

But luckily, I have an AMAZING group of ladies testing my pattern and making my life a million times easier! Here are some of their versions of the Jackie Dress!  


Cutting out fabric 

Just a quick post today, but since we’ve been taking about knits, I thought I’d share the best way to cut them out. A lot of people were taught to pin the pattern to the fabric, and then cut with fabric shears (that you threaten death to anyone who dares suggest using them on paper!) 

photo from some e cards

This is even how I was taught to cut things in apparel design school…but it isn’t the best way, especially for knits! Pinning can stretch the fabric out of place and cause issues when you’re cutting.

The best way to cut out knits is with pattern weights and a rotary cutter. This keeps everything flat and helps alleviate any stretching issues. 


most people use a larger rotary cutter, but I prefer a tiny one for small curves and corners

You can buy pattern weights at most fabric and craft stores, there are also plenty of tutorials around the web for making your own – my favorite is buying large washers from a hardware store and wrapping a few together with colorful wire, yarn, is strips of fabric to make them pretty. 

You can also really use anything you’ve got on hand that has a little weight to it. I know people use paper weights, cans of food, their cell phones. But my personal favorite is pattern dinosaurs. 


It was my birthday, so I got you a free pattern! 

My birthday was this week, so I got you a present! Free pattern download for the layering tank at the bottom of this post 🙂


One time, an unnamed big box store sold the most perfect layering tank I’d ever tried. I have a disproportionately long torso, so I wear tank tops under virtually everything that I haven’t made for myself, because everything I buy is too short.

Anyway. So I loved this tank and bought 2 of them. They were long enough, super soft, thin and fitted – making them great for under other things. I bought 2, with the intention of getting them in basically every color.

Except when I went to get more, they’d changed suppliers or design or something, because they still technically carry tank tops with the same name, but they are 3 inches shorter and therefore completely pointless.

So decided to make my own, because I could…and also because the 2 I have are like 3 years old and slowly dying because I wash and wear them all.the.time.

This tank is made for knit fabrics with at least 40% stretch across the grain. Make sure your fabric has enough stretch! I designed it with rib knits in mind, but have also made it with interlock and jersey. I used a turned and topstitched technique for binding the neck and arms, which I go over (with pictures!) in the instructions. Available in women’s sizes from XXS-4X!

Without further ado, I give you the RadPatternsLayerTank


Share your creations with me on instagram by tagging #RadPatternsLayerTank or on facebook at

Update: here’s the size chart!


Stitch types – Knits

There are SO many different types of stitches and fabrics and sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what goes with what, especially if you’re new to sewing! This post is the first in a series where I’m going to be showing the different types of stitches and what stitches are best for certain fabrics.

The very first class you take as an apparel design student is basic construction – where you learn how to sew. My classmates ranged from others like me, who’ve been sewing for basically our whole lives, to a couple people who’d never touched a sewing machine and every skill level in between. We spent the first few classes creating a binder to show we had mastered different stitch types, and it is still something I reference occasionally when I want just the right stitch for a particular project that maybe isn’t one of my most common stitches.

In this post, I’ll be going over the best stitches for knit fabrics. A lot of people are intimidated by sewing with knits, so hopefully this will ease some of that anxiety. Dive in, you won’t regret it when you’re wearing super soft, comfy items that fit like a glove.

When sewing with knits, you want to keep a few things in mind:

  • Your fabric stretches, so your stitches need to stretch too
  • Using the right needle is just as important as your stitch type
    • You will almost always want to use a ballpoint needle for knits
  • Even with the right stitch type and needle type, you still need to be careful not to stretch the fabric while you sew, this is what causes ripples in the finished garment.

The basic zig-zag stitch.


  • A good amount of stretch
  • Leaves a pretty clean edge on the inside of the garment
  • Available on virtually all modern machines


  • On snug fitting garments, this stitch can look less than smooth on the outside, giving a more homemade and less professional look
  • This is not the strongest stitch for knits, so it can sometimes snap, especially in high stress areas (think the crotch of leggings)

The 3-step zig-zag stitch – this is a variation of the zig-zag where there are 3 tiny stitches going each direction of the zig-zag instead of just one.


  • The additional stitches make this stronger than the basic zig-zag, meaning you’re less likely to have stitches snap in high stress areas
  • Available on most machines


  • Much like with the basic zig-zag, the appearance can sometimes be sloppy on the outside of a very tight fitting garment

The stretch stitch. This stitch looks like a little lightning bolt. (For machines that don’t have this stitch, a very narrow zig-zag can be substituted in most cases, but you give up a little bit of straightness of the seam from the outside)


  • A lot of stretch, so it can bend and stretch with you
  • The more narrow aspect of the stitch helps it look much straighter from the outside of the garment, even on snug fitting items
  • This is a pretty strong stitch, so it can be used for things like the above mentioned leggings crotch seam (but I still reinforce this seam because I’m paranoid about my pants splitting….)


  • Because this stitch is very narrow, it doesn’t help finish the insides of the garment, depending on your seam allowance and how much your knit rolls, this can add bulk. I like to add an additional stitch (often a basic zig-zag) to the seam allowance to finish the inside.
  • Adding an extra stitch to finish takes more time. I think most people are lacking in the time department
  • Quite a few machines don’t have this stitch. It is relatively common, but not so common as the above stitches.


 Straight stretch stitch. This stitch looks like 3 straight stitches in a row.


  • Lots of stretch
  • Looks like a straight stitch from both the outside and inside of the garment, meaning no puckering of the seams in very tight fitting areas
  • Very strong


  • Like the previous stretch stitch, due to the narrowness of the stitch, you often need to finish the inside of the seam in another way to avoid the bulk caused by the seam allowance rolling. As mentioned, this adds time. 

Faux serged edge/flatlock . I use this as my main stitch (photo on left) to simulate a serged seam and sometimes as a secondary stitch to simultaneously finish the inside of the garment and add a little extra to the outside (middle photo) which looks similar to a flatlock stitch you often see on commercial knits. I also frequently use it for hemming knits (photo on right).


  • Super strong
  • Very Stretchy
  • Much more professional finish


  • Uses a lot of thread
  • Not all machines have it

So go sew those knits you’ve been afraid of! You can do it! 

Why that 1″ measurement square is SO important! 

If you ever sew using PDF patterns, you’ve likely seen the 1″ (or 2, 3, or 4″ depending on the pattern maker) measurement gauge square. This square is designed for you to ensure that your pattern has printed correctly, so your finished project fits correctly. 

 Nobody wants to cut into the pretty fabric they’ve been hoarding for the perfect project for who knows how long, only to have the finished product not fit. 


The other day I heard somebody say, in regards to checking the gauge square, that their grandmother always said if 1/8″ is going to make it not fit, it didn’t fit to begin with. And while maybe that’s true with an overall measurement, that’s not how the 1″ square works.

Let’s just say that on your pattern piece for a top, your gauge square is off by just 1/16th of an inch. Now we will assume that the full bust measurement of the finished garment should be 40 inches. If your gauge square measured 15/16th of an inch, instead of 1 full inch, that means that every inch of your pattern is off. You’re missing 40/16th of an inch, or 2.5 inches overall in both width and length. That’s the difference between a top that fits great, and sitting in the corner crying over the custom print you just cut into and now have to come up with a plan B for – not that I’ve ever done that…   

 So any time you think about just eyeballing it because who has time to measure that stupid square and it looks close enough…

Remember how important it really is! Always check your measurement square!!

Knitting the Weather 

Last year my a few of my friends made temperature scarves. Have you seen those? What you do is knit one row of a scarf per day for an entire year, and the color of the row depends on the weather that day. 

At the beginning of the year, you assign a color to a range of temperatures, and that determines what color your rows are. You can choose to go by the low, high, or average temp for the day. The great thing is that you can change the colors and temp ranges based on where you live, so that you end up with a beautiful project at the end of the year.


The chart above is a great starting place for someone who lives in a place like me, where today’s low was 25* F but in summer we can get to the 100+ range. If you live somewhere with much less variation, you can account for that in your chart so that you don’t just end up with a yellow scarf with an orange or green stripe here or there (because you’re lucky and live in a place that’s beautiful and temperate all year long…can I come visit?).
As much as I love scarves (and wear them often!) I’ve decided that I want to knit the weather into a blanket. It will make such a lovely throw for my couch! 

One of the things I love most about making my own stuff, is how much I get to customize things. The decor in my living room is tan with blues and greens, so I’m going to nix the yellow/red/orange from my blanket and use multiple variations of purples, blues, and greens to get a nice range of stripes but still keep everything in line with my style. 

Also, because weather data is so readily available, if you’re busy for a few days (or you’re like me and haven’t gotten around to buying your yarn yet 😳) you can make up the days you may have missed a few days later. 

Do you want to do a knit along? Have you ever made a project based on the weather? 

In which I teach my littles how to sew and somehow retain my sanity.

I recently started teaching my boys to sew. I was a little nervous at first, but it ended up being a really great experience for all three of us. There were a few things I was scared of before we started:

  • That the kids would break my machine
  • I wouldn’t have the patience to deal with them learning, and therefore going slowly
  • They might fight with each other and not take turns appropriately
  • The 4 year old might get frustrated if the 7 year old was better at it because, as a result of being older, he is more coordinated
  • And seriously, that they might break my machine

I’m happy to report that none of those things happened! And at the end of 4 days of lessons, both kids had a wearable first project.

On day one we started with the basics – like how to lift and lower the presser foot, how to thread the bobbin, what some of the different stitches are, and this little gif on how the sewing machine works.bobbin

Then we went over some ground rules:

  • If mom says “stop” we stop immediately
  • Nobody touches the machine without permission
  • Nobody threads the machine without supervision
  • If anyone whines we take a break

And then we started with just a basic straight stitch, I let them do two lines each on a scrap of quilting cotton.


After that I let them practice a bit more on some more scraps and explore some of the different stitch types.


Day two we decided on a project. I had recently made myself a hooded t-shirt, so they wanted to make their own t-shirt hoodies. I quickly took some measurements and drafted a pattern in each of their sizes. I let them pick out fabric from my stash and we talked about the different types of fabric and how we need to use knits for a t-shirt.

We started with the shoulder seams, adding a bit of faux coverstitch topstitching (more on that later) to make them look a little neater.


At each step, I would pin things together properly and then let the boys sew the seams. There were a couple of areas, like the very curvy part of the armscye and attaching the sleeve cuffs where we would sew together with my hands over theirs, but they did quite a lot themselves. My 7 year old even attached his own hood, despite a fair amount of curve.  


When all was said and done, both kids had totally wearable tops! The 7 year old sewed about 85-90% of it completely on his own, the 4 year old was closer to 70/30. Both of them did a fantastic job, nobody (myself included) got mad at each other, there was virtually no whining, and I’m really glad to say that my machine is in the same condition it started in.

 And most importantly, I ended up with two very happy kids who will hopefully cherish this memory when they’re older and who now have a life skill for the zombie apocalypse…or regular life…one or the other.

   (The little one is a zombie, in case you were wondering)

Do you sew with your kids? Tell me about their projects!