Getting My Closet Down to 106 Pieces

The joys of a small wardrobe - Getting my closet down to 106 pieces - Sarah Kirsten

I recently ran across an infographic on Pinterest. A woman started with 450 items in her closet and pruned it down to 65. It got me thinking… what’s in my closet?

I counted, it was about 200.

It would be a stretch for me to get down to 65 pieces. I need clothes for Iowa summers, winters, springs & falls (if you’re not familiar with Iowa weather, it ranges from humid and hot to bitter cold), clothes for farm work (I live on a sheep farm), clothes for outdoor activities (kayaking, climbing, cycling, running, swimming, hiking, camping, etc), nice clothes for going out and about, clothes for staying home and being cozy. It feels like a lot of targets to hit. Many of the categories overlap though. The clothes I like to take on cycling or climbing trips are similar to what I wear on normal summer days, for example.

With the goal of getting my closet number as low as I could stand, I pulled out clothes:

  • I don’t actually like

  • I feel obligated to keep

  • I like and hope to wear someday but never do

  • I used to like but don’t wear anymore

  • I don’t feel happy wearing or looking at on my shelves.

I was able to purge around 90 pieces and get my wardrobe down to 106.

The benefits of pruning my closet down to 106 pieces - Sarah Kirsten

So, what’s in my closet?

I’ve divided my wardrobe into categories of uses. These are:

Everyday - wearing around the house.

Workout - gym, etc.

Adventure - cycling trips, climbing, kayaking, hiking, etc.

Farm - farm work and daily chores (and other messy things like painting, etc).

Nice - going out with friends, on trips, going out for tea or errands, etc.

Here’s what’s in my closet:

  • 8 shorts - everyday / workout / adventure / farm / nice

  • 11 pants - everyday / workout / adventure / farm / nice

  • 7 long sleeve tops - everyday / workout / adventure / farm

  • 11 short sleeve tops - everyday / farm / nice

  • 7 tank tops - everyday / workout / farm / nice

  • 12 button up shirts / jackets - everyday / adventure / farm / nice

  • 1 vest - nice

  • 9 sweaters - everyday / farm / workout / adventure / nice

  • 3 wind breakers - workout

  • 2 rain jackets - nice

  • 2 winter coats - everyday / nice

  • 19 dresses - everyday / nice

  • 8 skirts - everyday / nice

  • 6 jumpers - everyday

Getting my closet down to 106 pieces - Sarah Kirsten

Insights

I’m so glad did this because it give me some valuable insights into my wardrobe. I will quickly outline them here:

1) It helped me realize what I need to work on sewing/adding to build a strong, well rounded closet. I need more nice jeans, more gym clothes.

2) My room is a happier place and I’m a happier person without things I don’t actually like sitting on my shelves.

3) Getting dressed in the morning takes less time and is more (way more) fun.

4) Only 7 pieces in my closet are things I bought new. The rest are sewn, thrifted, or secondhand from family and some friends. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it’s just interesting!

5) I would like to transition my closet to almost all memade items. It just feels nice to surround yourself with good quality clothes that are made by you.

6) Much of my summer wardrobe is memade and most of my winter wardrobe is not. It would be nice to even the balance.

7) Since I work from home, I tend to not wear my nice clothes around the house in case I want to wear them out in the evenings or weekends. I want to keep them fresh so I have options. My epiphany while cleaning was if I just MADE myself more nice things (if I had more than 2 pairs of nice jeans) then I could wear nice clothes around the house AND have nice clothes to wear out and about. Revolutionary.

8) Echoing #7, I’m happier when I wear nice clothes around the house. They make me feel good.


With some practice I think I can get my wardrobe number even lower. I already feel myself being more willing to give things up after experiencing a taste of the joy of only having what you really love. I’m so happy I cleared out my closet!

PS - I wasn’t exactly sure where to draw the line on the numbers, so I want to just mention that I also have 6 swimming suits (I do wear them all…), snow pants and jacket for winter sports, 5 pieces for cycling - shorts, jersey, winter leggings, rain jacket, and rain pants —-and lastly some insulated winter overalls and a coat both used for farm chores.

How to Repair Work Gloves with Holes in the Fingers

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

Three winters ago my mom bought me a new pair of leather gloves for the daily farm chores. They have been my best pair yet, but unfortunately they are already full of holes in almost all the finger tips. I think mine are a little beyond the repair stage (practically speaking). It’s an on-going problem — farm gloves that wear out too quickly.

Our neighbor said he has the same problem with his farm gloves and sent me this video of how to repair them. The video made it look so simple that I wanted to try it out. I asked if I could repair his gloves. It turns out it IS really simple and surprisingly easy. Here’s how to do it.

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

1) Turn the gloves inside out and seam rip around the panel containing the hole.

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

2) Cut out the piece with the hole.

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

3) Using the piece with a hole as a pattern, cut out a new piece of leather (or fabric). Make the new piece 1/4” - 3/8” | 0.64 - 1 cm longer than the piece you cut out from the glove.

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

4) Overlap the new piece with the existing finger panel and zigzag stitch them together along both edges (the edge of the new piece and the edge of the existing piece).

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten
How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

5) Starting from the top of the finger, sew down each side. Stitch over the whole thing 2 - 3 times to reinforce the stitching.

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

7) Turn the glove right side out and admire the new finger!

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten
How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

- Alternative Method -

On the thumb I tried a different method, and I ended up liking it more. Instead of cutting out the old piece just add a new piece on the outside and sew it back up!

1) Seam rip around the panel containing the hole (or in this case, the soon-to-be-hole) and cut a matching piece of leather that extends past the holey area.

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

2) Zigzag stitch the bottom of the new piece to the outside of the existing piece.

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten
How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

3) Starting from the top of the finger, sew down each side. Stitch over the whole thing 2 - 3 times to reinforce the stitching.

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

4) Turn the glove right side out and you’re done!

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

Ready for another cold winter on the farm :)

How to repair work gloves with holes in the fingers. Tutorial with lots of photos - Sarah Kirsten

How to Easily Sew Any Size Boxy Pouch - The Math Formula Explained

Ever wondered how to do the maths to make a boxy pouch any size you want? Here’s how to do it. It’s quite simple actually. (Alternatively, if you want instructions on how to sew these pouches, head to the Pouch Pattern Calculator.)

Free Pouch Pattern Calculator - Here's how to do the math to make any size boxy pouch.
Free Pouch Pattern Calculator - Here's the math on how to make a pouch any size you want.

To figure out what length to cut the pattern piece, add your desired finished length to your desired height, plus four times the seam allowance you are going to use (if you are not using French seams, only use two times the seam allowance). The width of the pattern piece is two times your desired width plus two times your desired height plus two times the seam allowance.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say I want a pouch 8” long, 4” wide, 3” high, and to use a 0.5” seam allowance.

Length (of pattern piece) = 8” + 3” + (4 x 0.5”) = 13”

Width (of pattern piece) = (2 x 4”) + (2 x 3”) + (2 x 0.5”) = 15”

How to sew any size boxy pouch - the math made easy. By Sarah Kirsten
How to easily sew a boxy pouch any size you want - the math formula explained. By Sarah Kirsten

It’s slightly confusing because often the length of the pouch turns out to be the shorter sides of the pattern piece (not in every case however… it depends what dimensions you design your pouch). Don’t let that confuse you though. The “width” of the pattern piece is so long because it functions as the top, bottom, and both sides of the pouch while the “length” only functions as the length and half the height on each side.

Important note on the sewing: If you are using French seams on the corners, be sure that the height of the first seam on each corners is one seam allowance width shorter than your desired finished height - otherwise the pouch will turn out higher but narrower and shorter than you wanted. For example, if you want the pouch to be 5” high and are using a seam allowance of 0.5”, sew across the corners where the height is 4.5” To see a visual explanation of what I’m talking about, head to the Pouch Pattern Calculator page and look at step 9 of the pattern instructions.

If this math doesn’t look fun to you, check out my free Pouch Pattern Calculator I put together. You simply enter your desired finished length, width, height, and seam allowance and it tells you what size to cut the fabric! There are also step-by-step illustrated instructions on how to sew the pouch with lining using the French seam method that my sister and like to use.

Happy pouching! And mathing, if maths make you happy :)


Pouch Pattern Calculator

Designing your own boxy pouch with the exact dimensions you want has never been easier. Enter your desired length, width, and height of the finished pouch, and the calculator will tell you what dimensions to cut the fabric!

Pouch Pattern Calculator - Enter the dimensions of the finished pouch you want and the calculator will tell you what size to cut the fabric! Created by Sarah Kirsten

This calculator works for inches and centimeters. If using inches, the seam allowance you plan to use must be in decimal form. Common seam allowances in decimal form: 3/8 = 0.375  1/2 = 0.5  5/8 = 0.625  3/4 = 0.75

You can either design the pouch to use a zipper length commonly available, or you can trim any zipper that is longer than the needed length down to the pouch size.

If you’re curious about the math formula the calculator is using, check out this blog post. I explain the math and how you can do the formula yourself if you’re interested.


Pouch Instructions:

There are are few different methods to sew these little pouches with lining. Using the French seam method is nice because it’s fast and gives the bag more structure. Here’s how to do it.

(Note: The dimensions used in these instructions may not reflect what your pattern pieces look like. Depending on the dimensions of your pouch, your “Length” may be longer than the“Width” — unlike these illustrations. Just remember the zipper always goes on the “Length” side!)

Pouch Pattern Calculator - Enter the dimensions of the finished pouch you want and the calculator will tell you what size to cut the fabric! Created by Sarah Kirsten
  1)  With the dimensions provided by the Pouch Pattern Calculator, cut 1 outer layer and 1 lining. Interfacing too, if you want the pouch to have more structure.

1) With the dimensions provided by the Pouch Pattern Calculator, cut 1 outer layer and 1 lining. Interfacing too, if you want the pouch to have more structure.

  2)  Place the lining and outer layer with  right sides together  and sandwich the zipper inbetween. The right side of the zipper should be facing the outer layer. Line up the edges and sew the whole length of the seam through all layers with the seam allowance you entered in the calculator.  If you are using interfacing, place the interfacing on the wrong side of the outer layer. (Interfacing not shown in illustrations.)

2) Place the lining and outer layer with right sides together and sandwich the zipper inbetween. The right side of the zipper should be facing the outer layer. Line up the edges and sew the whole length of the seam through all layers with the seam allowance you entered in the calculator.

If you are using interfacing, place the interfacing on the wrong side of the outer layer. (Interfacing not shown in illustrations.)

  3)  Flip the other edges of the fabric up and sew the ends to the other edge of the zipper using the same seam allowance.

3) Flip the other edges of the fabric up and sew the ends to the other edge of the zipper using the same seam allowance.

  4)  Roll and tuck the outer layer over the lining so the pouch is right side out.   5)  Press the fabric away from the zipper and edge stitch down each side of the zipper 1/8” | 0.32 cm from the edge of the seam.

4) Roll and tuck the outer layer over the lining so the pouch is right side out.

5) Press the fabric away from the zipper and edge stitch down each side of the zipper 1/8” | 0.32 cm from the edge of the seam.

  6)  With the zipper exactly in the middle of the pouch, line up the edges and sew both sides through all layers using the seam allowance you entered into the calculator.

6) With the zipper exactly in the middle of the pouch, line up the edges and sew both sides through all layers using the seam allowance you entered into the calculator.

  7)  Trim seam allowance to 1/4” | 0.64 cm prepare the edge for French seams.

7) Trim seam allowance to 1/4” | 0.64 cm prepare the edge for French seams.

  8)  Turn the pouch inside out. Press the seams flat. Sew French seams by sewing over the same seams with the seam allowance you entered in the calculator.  Tip - Depending on the length of zipper you are using, it may be helpful to cut off some of the teeth on the end so it can bend into the French Seam more easily.

8) Turn the pouch inside out. Press the seams flat. Sew French seams by sewing over the same seams with the seam allowance you entered in the calculator.

Tip - Depending on the length of zipper you are using, it may be helpful to cut off some of the teeth on the end so it can bend into the French Seam more easily.

  9)  Turn the pouch right side out. Push out the corners of the pouch and stitch where the length across the triangles is your desired height (the height you entered in the calculator) minus your seam allowance.  For example, if you want the pouch 4” high and are using a 1/2” seam allowance, you want to stitch where the triangles are 3 1/2” across.

9) Turn the pouch right side out. Push out the corners of the pouch and stitch where the length across the triangles is your desired height (the height you entered in the calculator) minus your seam allowance.

For example, if you want the pouch 4” high and are using a 1/2” seam allowance, you want to stitch where the triangles are 3 1/2” across.

  10)  Trim the triangles to a 1/4” | 0.64 cm seam allowance.

10) Trim the triangles to a 1/4” | 0.64 cm seam allowance.

  11)  Turn the pouch inside out. Press out seams you just sewed. Resew them with the seam allowance you entered into the calculator (French seams).

11) Turn the pouch inside out. Press out seams you just sewed. Resew them with the seam allowance you entered into the calculator (French seams).

12) Turn the pouch inside out. It’s finished! Ready to be filled with all sorts of lovely things.

Pouch Pattern Calculator - Enter the dimensions of the finished pouch you want and the calculator will tell you what size to cut the fabric! Created by Sarah Kirsten

I hope this tool can be useful to you and make drafting pouches quick and easy. If you’d like to share a pouch you’ve made using this calculator on Instagram, feel free to tag me @sarkirsten. I’d love to see what you create!

How to Install Side Release Buckles and Slide Adjusters

Tutorial How to Install Side Release Buckles and Slide Adjusters - Sarah Kirsten

This post is to complement pattern instructions for the Fennel Fanny Pack. The techniques apply to all Slide Adjusters and Side Release Buckles however.

Step 1: Install the Slide Adjuster on the long end of the webbing.

Tutorial How to Install Side Release Buckles and Slide Adjusters - Sarah Kirsten

Step 2: Install the male end of the Side Release Buckle by feeding the webbing up and around the center bar of the buckle.

Tutorial How to Install Side Release Buckles and Slide Adjusters - Sarah Kirsten

Step 3: Feed the webbing back through the Slide Adjuster, the same direction as the first time, underneath the existing webbing.

_MG_0594.jpg
Tutorial How to Install Side Release Buckles and Slide Adjusters - Sarah Kirsten

Step 4: Loop the webbing around the center bar of the Slide Adjuster. Fold the end in 1/2 in | 1.3 cm and sew the webbing to itself with two rows of stitching.

Tutorial How to Install Side Release Buckles and Slide Adjusters (with lots of photos!) - Sarah Kirsten
Tutorial (with lots of photos) - How to Install Side Release Buckles and Slide Adjusters - Sarah Kirsten

It should look something like this:

Tutorial How to Install Side Release Buckles and Slide Adjusters - Sarah Kirsten
Tutorial How to Install Side Release Buckles and Slide Adjusters - Sarah Kirsten

Step 5: Insert the short side of the webbing into the female end of the Side Release Buckle. Fold the end of the webbing in 1/2 in | 1.3 cm and sew with two lines of stitching.

Tutorial How to Install Side Release Buckles and Slide Adjusters - Sarah Kirsten
Tutorial How to Install Side Release Buckles and Slide Adjusters - Sarah Kirsten

Finding Thrifted Fabric

The linens section at secondhand shops are positive goldmines. Old tablecloths and curtains have such good texture, and you can’t beat the price for the yardage! Here are some recent finds from my local thrift shops. If I remember correctly, all of these were purchased for less than $3.00.

Thrifting fabric, secondhand fabric - Sarah Kirsten
Thrifting fabric, secondhand fabric - Sarah Kirsten
Thrifting fabric, secondhand fabric - Sarah Kirsten
Thrifting fabric, secondhand fabric - Sarah Kirsten
Thrifting fabric, secondhand fabric - Sarah Kirsten
Thrifting fabric, secondhand fabric - Sarah Kirsten
Thrifting fabric, secondhand fabric - Sarah Kirsten
Thrifting fabric, secondhand fabric - Sarah Kirsten
Thrifting fabric, secondhand fabric - Sarah Kirsten
Thrifting fabric, secondhand fabric - Sarah Kirsten
Thrifting fabric, secondhand fabric - Sarah Kirsten

Many people recommend not buying fabric unless you have a specific project in mind. I, on the other hand, think it’s a good idea to buy fabric with no project in mind. Fabric is a special thing. If you find something you love at a good price, don’t let it slip away. For many of us sewing is our main creative outlet. Having fabrics of various materials and sizes and colors on hand to play with is so important in our lives.

I love the freedom of checking my stash and picking out the right fabric for an idea the same hour it forms in my head. I love being able to play and experiment without driving to the store and waiting for new fabric to wash and dry. Our time is so limited — I want the time I dedicate to playfulness in my sewing room to be as productive as possible.

So, I believe in big stashes.

_MG_0439-2.jpg

Flannel Jumpsuit - Peppermint Mag & In the Folds Free Jumpsuit Pattern

Last winter there was a noticeable gap in my wardrobe. The house gets quite chilly in the cold months, especially in my sewing room, and I needed something warm to wear on those difficult days with… ahm…. cramps.

I wanted something that would keep my legs warm without putting any pressure on my tummy, so I printed out this free jumpsuit pattern by In the Folds for Peppermint Mag. In retrospect I didn’t need it quite this baggy and should have made a smaller size, but I think it’s bagginess is kind of endearing and it’s so comfortable.

To make it extra warm and cozy I sewed it in flannel (can you ever have too much flannel in your wardrobe?), and I just recently realized that I could pair it with my matching green flannel, self drafted, short sleeved turtle neck I made the winter before last for an even more cozy outfit.

This year I’m ready and armed with warmth for those cold days already on the way. I’m so thankful to have this piece in my wardrobe. It makes me happy having something joyful and soft and warm and cozy to put on.

Peppermint Mag & In the Folds Free Jumpsuit Pattern - Sarah Kirsten
Peppermint Mag & In the Folds Free Jumpsuit Pattern - Sarah Kirsten
Peppermint Mag & In the Folds Free Jumpsuit Pattern - Sarah Kirsten
Peppermint Mag & In the Folds Free Jumpsuit Pattern - Sarah Kirsten

Even though I made this mainly to wear at home, I love the bagginess and color and texture. I think I’ll wear it out and about this fall, too.

Peppermint Mag & In the Folds Free Jumpsuit Pattern - Sarah Kirsten

Notes:

The jumpsuit pattern has an invisible zipper in the back that I omitted. I deepened the V in the back by 1” or so to be sure I could slip it on without the zipper, but since I made a larger size I don’t think that was really necessary. I used French Seams instead of serging… I’m not sure why. I guess I usually prefer French seams.

The green flannel fabric is from Joann stores.

Blue shoes from Nike.

Orange trucker hat from winning the Youth Illinois Corn Husking Contest a few years ago. My favorite hat.

Persephone Pants

After sewing these Persephone Pants the direction of my wardrobe has undergone a profound shift. It feels as if my wardrobe listened to one of those incredibly insightful self help lectures or books and walked away with a deep new appreciation for a different way of thinking. Making jeans was intimidating until I started. I was quickly swept away in the current of sewing. Anna’s instructions are so easy and fun to follow it’s like a book you can’t put down. You traverse without halt from one step to the next, scarcely noticing the beginning or ending of chapters.

These pants make me want to get rid of nearly all my non-memade clothes and just sew everything from now on. They feel so good. I mean not just physically — it feels so good to put on a pair of jeans that you made yourself. They bring me so much joy. I want all my clothes to bring me this much joy.

Thank you, Anna, for all of your hard work on this pattern. I so appreciate your creation.

Sewing the Persephone Pants - Sarah Kirsten
Sewing the Persephone Pants - Sarah Kirsten
Sewing the Persephone Pants - Sarah Kirsten
Sewing the Persephone Pants - Sarah Kirsten
Sewing the Persephone Pants - Sarah Kirsten
Sewing the Persephone Pants - Sarah Kirsten
Sewing the Persephone Pants - Sarah Kirsten
Sewing the Persephone Pants - Sarah Kirsten

Notes:

These are a size 0 with an extra 3/8” taken off the center back of the pattern piece. I think next time I’ll make them even a bit smaller so they stay tight as the fabric relaxes with wear. Instead of buttons I used snaps for the fly.

The bright orange fabric is Duck Canvas from Joann stores.

This yellow shirt is a rayon knit from Salvation Army thrift store several years ago.

Blue shoes are Nike (found on clearance!).

16 Tips for Self Drafting Freedom

FREE - 16 tips to help you start drafting
FREE - 16 tips to help you get started self drafting

When I think of sewing, I think about the opportunity to create, to explore, to express. It's a glorious thing to not leave the design and creation of your self expression totally up to others. You have uniqueness in you that deserves to be manifested and shown. You are worthy of spending time and energy and money and paper and fabric on figuring out how to express those things inside of you in the form of clothing! You uniqueness is worthy and deserving of being explored and showed in a physical form. 

If you want to start drafting but feel held back for whatever reason, these tips are for you. These are things I have learned that have been very helpful in my self drafting journey. I hope they can be a help and encouragement to you on your journey of self expression through self drafting. 

 

Puffy Wool Vest

Puffy Wool Quilted Vest - Sarah Kirsten Blog

Puffy quilted vests have been on my mind (which is why I put this tutorial together). I decided NOW IS THE TIME to make one!


These photos are by my friend, Kelby Maria, who is a professional photographer in the Portland area. It was a real treat to have her visit my sewing space and take these photos! Thank you, Kelby! <3

The ring I’m wearing in the photos is by the jewelry designer Aningri. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, but I love to wear this ring because it’s slim and simple. It’s one of those rare pieces that I feel like I’M wearing instead of IT wearing me.

Puffy Wool Vest - Sarah Kirsten Blog
Puffy Wool Vest - Sarah Kirsten Blog

I drafted a quick pattern, cut out all the pieces and sewed them together, and then used the same pattern pieces to cut out wool batting for the puff and insulation. My mom sent a truck load of our sheep’s wool to a mill and had it made into batting. The wool is quite easy and fun to work with in batting form.

Once the vest was sewn together with the bottom left open, I stuffed the batting inside the vest and hand stitched it together on the shoulders and sides. I think I stuffed a little too much in the shoulder section because they kind of stick out. That can probably be rearranged with some hand shaping though.

For the quilting stitching, I measured evenly spaced segments and placed scotch tape lines as stitching guides. It’s a bit of a pain to peel off the scotch tape if you stitch through it, but overall I think it that trick works quite well.

Next I want to make one with a collar and pockets and snaps. I underestimated how puffy the wool was going to be on this draft. I’ll also make it a bit bigger in the next draft and overlap the batting on the shoulders a little less.

How to Sew a Lined Vest - Two Easy Methods

Sewing tutorial - Two methods of sewing a lined vest - with tons of photos

Have you ever wondered how to sew a lined vest without any raw edges showing? Wonder no more! Here are two ways to do it. The first method has open shoulders and the second has the shoulders sewn shut.

The pattern used in this tutorial is a self drafted miniature vest.

I purposely choose fabric for this tutorial that you can easily see the right and wrong sides and differentiate the lining from the outer layer.

Method One: Open Shoulders

Step 1: Cut all the pieces - lining and outer layer.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with tons of photos

Step 2: Sew the shoulders of the outer layers together and the shoulders of the lining layers together with right sides together.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Step 3: Lay the two layers with right sides together. Press seams open and stitch from the bottom of the front center up around the neck and back down the front center of the other side. (If you look closely in the photo you can see white thread where I’ve stitched!)

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos
How to sew a lined vest - two methods for sewing a lined vest

Step 4: Stitch around the arm holes on each side. Don’t sew down the sides, just the arm holes.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Step 5: Clip curves and trim corners.

How to sew a lined vest - easy to understand sewing tutorial
How to sew a lined vest - easy to understand sewing tutorial

Step 6: Turn the vest right side out through the shoulders.

How to sew a lined vest - easy to understand sewing tutorial

Step 7: Press the seams open and sew up the sides with right sides together. (This part is tricky to explain and photograph clearly, but it makes sence once you get it! Just play around with it a little bit.)

How to sew a lined vest - easy to understand sewing tutorial

Be sure to match up the seams. (This is the side seam right by the arm opening.)

How to sew a lined vest - easy to understand sewing tutorial

Here’s what it looks like with the sides sewn together.

How to sew a lined vest - easy to understand sewing tutorial

Step 8: Now that the side seams are sewn, admire how good your vest is looking so far.

How to sew a lined vest - easy to understand sewing tutorial
How to sew a lined vest - easy to understand sewing tutorial

Step 9: Turn the vest inside out. Press the seams open and sew the bottom of the vest leaving a few inches open in the back. The thicker the fabric the wider you want to leave the hole for turning the vest right side out.

How to sew a lined vest - easy to understand sewing tutorial

Since turning the vest can put a lot of stress on the stitching, it works well to sew down to the bottom edge of the fabric to add extra stability. It makes for much less stressful turning!

How to sew a lined vest - easy to understand sewing tutorial

Step 10 & 11: Clip the corners. Turn the vest inside out through the opening in the back and hand or machine stitch the opening closed.

How to sew a lined vest - easy to understand sewing tutorial
How to sew a lined vest - easy to understand sewing tutorial

Give the vest a good press and it’s ready to wear!

Sewing Tutorial - Two methods for sewing a lined vest with tons of photos
Sewing Tutorial - Two methods for sewing a lined vest with tons of photos

Method Two: Closed Shoulders

Step 1: Cut out all the pieces - the lining and the outer layer.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Step 2: Lay the lining and the outer layers right sides together. Sew around the neck and arm openings on the back pieces. Sew around the arms, neck, and front center of the front pieces.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos
How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Step 3: Clip the curves, trim the corners, and trim the seam allowance at the top of the arm openings and neck by the shoulders.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos
How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Step 4: Turn the front vest pieces right side out.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Step 5: Put the front vest pieces in between the lining and outer layer of the back piece.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos
How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Step 6: Sew the shoulders closed.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos
How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Step 7: Press seams open and sew the sides of the vest with right sides together.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Be sure to match up the side seams.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Here’s what it looks like when the sides are sewn together.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Step 8: Turn the vest right side out and admire how it’s looking so far.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos
How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Step 9: Turn the vest inside out (one last time), press the seams open and sew the bottom shut leaving a few inches open in the back.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos
How to sew a lined vest - sewing tutorial with tons of photos by Sarah Kirsten

Step 10: Trim the corners.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with photos

Step 11: Turn the vest right side out (for the last time) through the opening in the back. Hand or machine stitch the opening shut.

How to sew a lined vest - Sarah Kirsten sewing tutorial with tons of photos

Give the vest a good press and try it on to see how it looks.

How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with tons of photos by Sarah Kirsten
How to sew a lined vest - Sewing tutorial with tons of photos by Sarah Kirsten

Discussion notes:

In both of these examples I left the opening to turn the vest right side out on the bottom seam. It’s also a good option to leave the opening in the side seam of the lining instead of in the bottom.

The pattern used in this tutorial was a mini self drafted vest for easy sewing and photographing, but I used the pattern to make this little quilted vest with snaps. I used the open shoulder method for this vest so I could put the batting through the shoulders. I’m quite in love with how it turned out.

How to sew a lined vest - sewing tutorial with tons of photos by Sarah Kirsten

Then I made this full sized quilted vest for myself. For the batting I used wool from my parents’ sheep farm and a really lightweight ripstop nylon for the outer shell. I again used the open shoulder method to get batting up through the shoulders.

How to sew a lined vest - sewing tutorial with tons of photos by Sarah Kirsten

Editing Sewing Photos with Lightroom Mobile App (Free!)

I’ve been learning a lot about photography and editing in the last year and want to share some of the most helpful things I’ve learned.

After trying several editing tools, I’ve fallen in love with Lightroom. It’s the leading photo editing software used by photographers and is a real joy to use. The mobile app is actually FREE. Once I started using it, it didn’t take me long to decide to buy the desktop version so I could also edit photos on my laptop and easily share photos between my computer and iPhone.

Here are the most helpful things I’ve learned about photography:

1) Underexpose your shots - In other words, make your photos slightly dark. Whether you are using the camera on your phone or a nice camera, set the exposure so that the brightest thing (like a white shirt) is just slightly under exposed. The darkness can be lightened through editing, but if something is overexposed (too bright) you loose all the detail and can’t bring it back through editing. Shooting underexposed preserves the details.

2) Manually adjust the highlights and shadows - Adjusting the ‘Exposure’ while editing (in any editing app) increases the exposure of everything — the highlights and the shadows. It often leads to overexposure of the highlights if you’re trying to brighten up the whole photo. Instead, increase the exposure and then manually adjust the levels of the highlights and shadows individually. It’s often helpful to reduce exposure of the highlights and whites so they aren’t overexposed, then slightly reduce the shadows and blacks to retain the details and contrast of the image.

3) Desaturate the overwhelming color - Often if you play around with the saturation of different colors, you find one color that has cast its tint over the whole photo. If you desaturate that color everything in the photo suddenly looks appealing, intriguing, clear and more crisp. It’s as if you are taking a colored film of plastic off your sunglasses lenses and things look cooler and more clear. Try it and see!

4) Correct for lens distortion - This may seem like a minor difference, but it helps brighten the image in the corners and the subtle difference really helps to improve the overall appeal of an image. It’s very easy to do this in Lightroom. Just one click of a button. In Lightroom it’s called “Enable Lens Correction.”

5) Reduce distracting shadows - The closer you stand to a wall the more defined your shadow becomes. Step away from the wall a few feet for outfit photos to defuse your shadow. If you have a place where there is a window that can shine inbetween you and the wall, that’s an excellent way to reduce or eliminate shadows.

The other big side of editing and photography is the mental side - the internal battle of rightness. Is it okay to edit/drastically alter photos? Isn’t that cheating?

First of all, if you have 10 minutes to spare, hunt down some large Instagram influencers who show their photo edits. They aren’t shy about altering their images. They unabashedly change the color of the sky, the grass, the water, their skin, their clothing, and they make everything LOOK SO COOL. So let’s just all get rid of the mentality that it’s somehow more holy to not edit photos… It’s OK to edit. (It’s also OK of course to not edit if that’s what you like to do!)

Here’s why editing is a wonderful thing:

1) Real life - Cameras do not capture things the same way your eyes see them. In order to show the real and true beauty you see, editing is needed (and fun!). For example, the room where I take a lot of photos is bright and cheery in real life. The floor and ceiling however, are hardwood and they absorb a lot of the light and cast an orange/yellow tint in all the photos. I know that I need to correct for yellowness in all the photos I take in this room in order to show their full beauty and to more accurately show how I see the room in real life.

How to edit with Lightroom

2) Creative vision - Sometimes we have ideas of images in our heads that we want to create that aren’t actually real life - that’s OK too! For example, this chair is actually a light yellow chair. I like it yellow in real life, but for this photo shoot it aligned with my creative vision better as a white chair. Thankfully I didn’t have to paint it white, or find a different chair because I just made it look white in Lightroom.

3) Curate - We are all curators of our own art gallery, in life and specifically in this case, on Instagram. I want all of the images in my gallery to have a similar look and feel (in other words, I want my feed to be cohesive). Images taken in different locations and times and lighting can look wildly different from one another. Editing is super helpful to get them to match or coordinate with each other.

There is no right and wrong way to edit. It’s just an expression of how you see the world. I hope some of these things can help you show how you see the world through your photos.

So let’s jump in to some editing.

How to edit photos in Lightroom mobile app

Before

How to edit photos in Lightroom mobile app

After

How to edit photos in Lightroom mobile app

Increase the exposure to brighten the image, turn down the highlights so they aren’t washed out.

How to edit photos in Lightroom mobile app

Turn down the shadows and blacks to bring out the details.

How to edit photos in Lightroom mobile app

Change the hue of the red to slightly more orange to correct for my skin tone.

How to edit photos in Lightroom mobile app

Desaturate the yellow because the wood ceiling and floor give a yellow tint to the whole image.

How to edit photos in Lightroom mobile app

Desaturate the green because there are some subtle patches that appear green on the wall.

How to edit photos in Lightroom mobile app

Desaturate the light blue to make the wall more even toned.

How to edit photos in Lightroom mobile app

Desaturate the other blue because there are dark blue patches on the wall.

How to edit photos in Lightroom mobile app

Increase sharpening a little bit.

How to edit photos in Lightroom mobile app

Enable lens corrections.

If you’d like to see the changes as they are happening, here’s a quick video of this photo being edited.

 
 

Want to give it a try?

If you’d like to play or practice editing with this photo, feel free to download the original image here.


Here’s another example.

This fluffy cotton (feels like a cloud) is actually very white in real life. In the original photo I snapped it turned out quite yellow, and I thought it looked unappealing. I wanted to make it more true to the fabric’s real color and to show the true beauty of the fabric through editing.

How to edit photos with Lightroom mobile app

Before

How to edit photos with Lightroom mobile app

After

How to edit photos with Lightroom mobile app

Increase exposure to slightly brighten the image, turn down the highlights so they aren’t washed out.

How to edit photos with Lightroom mobile app

Turn down the whites slightly, and turn down the blacks to preserve the detail.

How to edit photos with Lightroom mobile app

Desaturate the orange to bring out the whiteness of the fabric.

How to edit photos with Lightroom mobile app

Desaturate the yellow to bring out the whiteness.

How to edit photos with Lightroom mobile app

Increase the clarity to bring out the details of the fabric.

How to edit photos with Lightroom mobile app

Enable lens corrections to brighten the corners of the image and decrease lens distortion.

Want to give it a try?

If you’d like to play or practice editing with this photo, feel free to download the original image here.

How to Make Pattern Weights

After a while of using various heavy objects from around my sewing room as pattern weights — my extra scissors, my ceramic thread collection creamer from Vivian Shao Chen, a big roll of cut-to-length zipper, my iPhone, etc., I decided it was time to upgrade.

I found all these large washers in our Nuts & Bolts Bucket (you know, the bucket in the garage where you put all the spare nuts and bolts in case you need them for a project sometime). I asked Dad if I could use the washers, took them inside and gave them a bath to wash off some grease, and then set to work making them little baggies.

I decided to put 4 washers in each bag. But, obviously, depending on how big of washers you are using, you may want to add more or less than that to each bag. These washers and other heavy objects like massive bolts are easily findable at most hardware stores for relatively inexpensive prices.

Here’s a quick photo tutorial of how I made the baggies and how you can make your own.

Mini tutorial - how to make your own pattern weights. Sarah Kirsten
Mini tutorial - how to make your own pattern weights. Sarah Kirsten
Mini tutorial - how to make your own pattern weights. Sarah Kirsten
Mini tutorial - how to make your own pattern weights. Sarah Kirsten
Mini tutorial - how to make your own pattern weights. Sarah Kirsten
Mini tutorial - how to make your own pattern weights. Sarah Kirsten
Mini tutorial - how to make your own pattern weights. Sarah Kirsten
Mini tutorial - how to make your own pattern weights. Sarah Kirsten
Mini tutorial - how to make your own pattern weights. Sarah Kirsten
Mini tutorial - how to make your own pattern weights. Sarah Kirsten

That’s it! Sew EASY and an excellent use for scraps!

FREE Sewing Pattern - Pear Pouch

After posting a photo of these little Pear Pouches on Instagram a few months ago, I've had soo many messages asking for this sewing pattern. So here it is! 

Download PDF Here!

Features:

  • Two sizes of pouches

  • Fully lined

  • French Seamed

  • Ideal for altering and making your own sizes and dimensions.

Finished Dimensions (H x W x L):

  • Large pouch: 6" x 3 1/2" x 9"

  • Small pouch: 4 1/2" x 3" x 7"

I hope this pattern can serve as a reference on how to sew lining with a zipper, how to sew zipper ends, how to sew French seams, and offer a good base pattern to alter if you would like to make your own sizes of pouches. 

How to Flower Pound

Right outside our kitchen is a little green patio area we call the Kitchen Garden. Among numerous fragrant herb species is a beautiful clematis plant with sprawling tendrils and an abundance of flowers. 

Last summer I discovered the wonders of flower pounding. Through some experimenting I found that clematis flowers work exceptionally well and retain their colorfastness on fabric. I have a tank top that I pounded with clematis flowers and although the flowers turned brown, their imprint has remained vibrant through it's many washing machine cycles.

So here's how to flower pound:

Step 1: Pick some beautiful flowers. 

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Step 2: Lay a flower on a piece of cloth. 

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Step 3: Fold the fabric over top (or lay another piece on top), place it on something hard and smooth, then pound the entirety of the flower. If you don't have a hard, smooth surface, try placing a towel on the sidewalk and hammering into the towel.

I made the mistake of pounding flowers on a brand new linen shirt I just finished sewing on a sidewalk without a towel underneath and the roughness of the cement put holes in the fabric! 

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Step 4: Unfold and peel off the remains of the flower. 

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Step 5: Hold up your cloth and stare at it for a few minutes. Then make another one! After waiting a few days, it should be safe to machine wash if you're putting it on a piece of clothing. 

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I've found that it works for lots of other leaves and flowers, too! But I can't vouch for how they will all hold up in the wash. 

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Here's a shirt I flower pounded with Clematis flowers from our Kitchen Garden. 

Easy guide to flower pounding
Easy guide to flower pounding your own clothes

For the Love of Simple Sewing - French Seams without Ironing or Trimming or Pinning

French seams are such a pleasant way to finish the insides of a bag or garment. And the truth is, they don't have to take that much time. 

Here is a quick photo guide on how to sew French seams without any trimming or ironing or pining. 

Step 1: Place wrong sides together and line up the edges of the seam you want to sew. 

sarah-kirsten-simple-sewing-french-seams

Step 2: Sew the pieces together with a 1/4" seam allowance. Depending on the thickness of the fabric you are using and its propensity to fray, you may want to increase the allowance of the seam a little bit. 

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Step 3: Turn inside out so the right sides are together. 

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Step 4: Press the seam flat with your fingers up and down the whole length of the seam.

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Step 5: Sew over the same seam with a 3/8" seam allowance. Again, depending on the thickness of the fabric you may want to increase the seam allowance slightly. Just be sure that whatever allowance you used on the first seam, you use a slightly larger allowance on this second seam. 

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Step 6: Admire your beautifully finished seam!

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sarah-kirsten-simple-sewing-french-seams09

101 Sewing Hashtags to Grow Your Instagram Community.

simple sewing patterns sarah kirsten

It was shocking, really, to discover how quickly my Instagram community could grow with the help of a few hashtags. If you're like me, you probably know you ought to be using more hashtags, but they are such a pain to find and save!

Well... good news! I put together a list of 101 sewing related hashtags that you can use on any post relating to sewing!

Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags per post, and it's a good idea to mix up the hashtags so you don't use the exact same ones each time. 

What I like to do is make a few batches of hashtags and put them in the notes on my phone. Then every time I post I copy one of the batches and paste it into the comments right after I post. 

Most of these are general and applicable to all sewing related topics, though some of these are for specific things (such as #selfdrafted or #indiepatterns). I would also like to note that I did my best to research each of these to make sure they are not connected to a specific company or account, And I would like to mention two specifically. #millennialsewing is a delightful hashtag started by @maddiemadethis. And #sewingisselfcare is another delightful hashtag started by @sewliberated

Without further ado, here are 101 Sewing Hashtags (actually there are 102...) in alphabetical order. 

HASHTAGs: 

#collectivelycreate

#createeveryday

#diyfashion

#fabric

#fabricheaven

#fabrics

#fortheloveofsewing

#handmadecloset

#handmadeclothes

#handmadeclothing

#handmadeisbetter

#handmadestyle

#handmadewardrobe

#homemadewardrobe

#homesewing

#homesewn

#ilovesewing

#ilovetosew

#imadethis

#imakefashion

#imakemyclothes

#imakemyownclothes

#indiepatterns

#indiesewfabric

#indiesewing

#instasew

#isew

#isewmyclothes

#isewmyownclothes

#lovetosew

#makedoandmend

#makeitsewcial

#makersgonnamake 

#makersgonnashare

#makesmthng

#memadeeveryday

#memadewardrobe 

#millennialsewing 

#modernsewist

#patternfreesewing

#pdfpattern

#refashion

#seamstress

#selfdrafted

#selfdraftedpattern

#selfdraftedpatterns

#selfishsewing

#selfsewn

#sew

#sewallthethings

#sewcialist

#sewcialists

#sewclothes

#sewcute

#sewdelightful

#sewersgonnasew

#sewersofinstagram

#sewhappy

#sewing

#sewingaddict

#sewingdresses

#sewingforboys

#sewingfriendsarethebest

#sewingfun

#sewingisfun

#sewingismypassion

#sewingismysuperpower

#sewingisselfcare 

#sewingissexy

#sewingleftovers

#sewinglife

#sewinglove

#sewinglovers

#sewingmama

#sewingpatterns

#sewingproject

#sewingskills

#sewingtime

#sewist

#sewistsofinstagram

#sewlittletime

#sewmyheartout

#sewn

#sewsewsew

#sewtimeless

#sewunique

#sewyourheartout

#sewyourown

#sewyourownclothes

#sewyourstash

#slowfashion

#slowfashionmovement

#slowliving

#slowlivingforlife

#slowsewing

#stashbusting

#summersew

#summersewing

#thriftedfabric

#wearethemakers

#wearhandmade

#wintersewing

 

Making Paper with Newspaper and Fabric Scraps

paper-making-with-fabric-scraps-and-newspaper-14

Truth be told, I was hoping this would be a good way of using my fabric scraps... if I was making hundreds of sheets of paper every week it undoubtedly would be. Since I'm not, it isn't exactly the most effective way to use scraps. But that said, it's still a really neat process and the texture and color of the paper when mixed with newspaper is really beautiful. 

If you'd like to make your own, here is a rough guide: 

Supplies:

  • Fabric scraps

  • Newspaper

  • Blender

  • Two picture frames with a flat side

  • Screen

  • Lots of towels

  • Iron

Directions: 

  1. Trim fabric scraps very, very small. I used linen/rayon and cotton scraps.

  2. Add a few scraps and water to the blender and blend them up until the scraps turn into a pulp consistency.

  3. Tear up some newspapers, add them to the blender with more water and blend them together. (Note: I actually broke my parents' blender doing this because I had too much in there at one time. Do small batches!)

  4. Pour the mixture into a large basin with lots of water.

  5. Place a screen in between two picture frames and scoop out the pulp.

  6. Place the paper face down on a towel and press out the excess water.

  7. Iron dry and set under something large and heavy so the paper flattens.

  8. Enjoy your new paper and try very hard to not be so attached to it that you never actually use it for anything.

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At this point, you can either let the paper dry on the towel, or you can iron them dry. I prefer to iron them so they dry flatter and the imprint from the screen is smoothed out. 

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