Greenwood Tank: a wardrobe staple

I’ve been thinking to myself lately how much I needed a good knit tank pattern. Luckily for me, Straight Stitch Designs is releasing the Greenwood Tank today!
Greenwood TankWarning: if you sew one Greenwood Tank, you will be unable to stop and will need to sew more. As part of the testing team, I’ve already sewn three! It’s such a fast sew, pretty soon I’m going to have one for every day of the week.

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The Greenwood Tank comes with options for a regular high back or a low back that mirrors the front of the tank. I chose the low back option (even though I failed to actually take a picture of the back!).

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I shortened the straps a bit, but this is something I have to do quite often with ready-to-wear clothing and PDF patterns. Once I did that, the fit was fantastic. Also fantastic? This knit from JoAnn’s. I’m in loooove with this floral!

DSC_6510I had a little bit of this luscious Anna Maria Horner knit left from this dress, and it was perfect for this tank! This will definitely be an everyday wear this summer.

DSC_6559This tank really is a wardrobe staple. Depending on your fabric, you can dress it up or down. The knit binding on this tank is one of my favorite ways to do binding. Kimberly has a great video to walk you through this if you’ve never done it before.

DSC_6497I loved the Capitol Hill and the Ballard, so I knew right away I would love the Greenwood. Kimberly’s pattern instructions were easy to follow, as always, and it came out with a superb garment!DSC_6352So what are you waiting for?! Hop on over and check out the newly released Greenwood Tank! It’s 30% off through Sunday, and if you’re anything like me, once you start sewing them, you won’t be able to stop :)

Happy sewing, friends!

Disclosure: I received this pattern as part of the pattern testing group, in exchange for my feedback.

Simple Table Runner Tutorial

When it comes to home decor, nothing makes me happier than simple changes that quickly spruce up a room. As seasons change, I like to shake things up a bit – especially after the looooooong winter. This simple patchwork table runner is easy to make, even for a beginning sewer!

Simple Spring Table Runner Tutorial

I love easy decor that can be used over and over again. Use it to display a beautiful bridal shower buffet or host a bouquet of spring flowers. Or simply use it to cover up the marker stains on your kitchen table (ahem..) However you use it, your table will be happier for it!

 

make a simple spring table runnerSupplies:

  • non-stretchy woven fabric {I used 100% cotton}
  • sewing machine/thread
  • iron
  • scissors

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How to Make a Patchwork Table Runner Tutorial

Cut your fabric:

The size of your spring table runner will depend on how big your table is and how long/wide you want it. My table runner has four panels (15.25in x 20.50in), but yours can have as few or as many as you’d like. Just make sure you cut them all the same size. Also cut one long piece of fabric for the back of the table runner. I used a table cloth that wasn’t the right size for my table, but any woven fabric would work. This fabric should be the same length as your four panels once they are put together (mine was 81.25in). Alter the measurements to fit your table.table runner step 1

 

1. Sew two panels together, right sides together using 3/8 seam allowance. Sew the next panel to other side of panel two. Continue until all the panels are sewn together in one long row.DSC_4880

 

2. Press all the seam allowances open.spring table runner step 3

 

3. Press the outside edges of the panels under 3/8in. Repeat this with the long fabric that you’re using as the back side of the table runner.spring table runner step 4

 

4. Pin or clip the panels and the backing fabric wrong sides together. This is a good time to check that the front and the back are the same size. Then sew the two pieces together along the edges using a straight stitch.make a table runner

 

I put this on my table while my boys were playing outside, and one of them literally gasped and said “Wow!” when he came inside and saw it. So I call that a win! It really does bring a brightness to the room that winter definitely lacked. With a different fabric, it would be perfect for any season!

Spring Table Runner Tutorial from If Only They Would NapHappy sewing, friends!

DIY Painted Planter + Free Teacher Appreciation Printable

Today I’m over at Craftaholics Anonymous with a perfect end-of-the-year teacher gift! A DIY painted planter (that I’m super in love with) and a free thank you printable. So hop on over and check it out!

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Super Skinny Pants over at Melly Sews

My post for the Blank Slate Sewing Team is up, so head on over to Melly Sews and check out the Super Skinny Pants I made for my little man!

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Unlocking a New Sewing Level [a pattern review]

With each baby I’ve carried, my body has changed a little bit. My hips have grown wider, my belly softer – marked with stripes that are the evidence of these little loves. But this ever-changing body has also produced an ever-changing wardrobe. Under my bed I have clothing for every stage: pre-baby, post-baby, post-post baby. Because rarely do I find the perfect fit – the shirts that hide the belly that once carried my boys or the jeans that are the perfect balance of respectable mom-of-four-kids jeans, without venturing into “mom jeans” territory.

Real Deal Jeans and Pier 7 Top
Last year, I made a promise to myself that I would sew more for me. I’m making more brave choices and not settling for ill-fitting clothes anymore. And with the help of the Women’s Bundle Up sale from Pattern Revolution, I’ve added two more lovely pieces to my wardrobe. In fact, I think I’ve unlocked a new sewing level!

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I chose to sew two patterns from the Bundle: Terra’s Treasures Pier 7 Top and Winter Wear Designs Real Deal Jeans. (Both are currently available only through the bundle sale… they will be available later this month at their respective shops)

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I’ve been holding onto this fabric (a peach skin from Girl Charlee that isn’t currently in stock) for awhile, but I just hadn’t found the right project for it. As soon as I saw this pattern, I knew it would be a perfect match! First of all, this print. THIS PRINT! So fabulous. The drape is phenomenal, and it feels so good when you’re wearing it! Dreamy, actually.

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One of the things I adore about sewing is taking a pattern and modifying it so that it fits you perfectly – your body and your style. I love the pleats in the front – a great detail in the pattern that will likely make you crazy when using a fabric like this that’s slippery as all get out, but will be so worth it in the end.

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I altered a few simple things about the Pier 7. I left off the sleeves and finished the armholes with bias tape. The pattern has two options for the waist: shirring or elastic. I chose the elastic, but finished the waistband with a method not offered in the pattern, giving it a slightly different look.

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The pattern is really easy to follow, and I am definitely going to try it in a knit fabric soon. I know that this top will be really easy to dress up or to wear with…

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My new skinny jeans! What??! I made jeans. JEANS!DSC_5902

Sewing jeans for myself has been on my sewing bucket list for awhile now. The pattern makes more of a straight leg jeans, and I wanted some skinnies, so I did a lot of alterations in the calves to get the perfect skinny fit. But now they’re exactly what I wanted! I constructed the pants a little differently than the instructions in the pattern. To be honest, I didn’t really look at them closely – I’ve made a lot of little-people pants, so I did my own thing once I had the pattern pieces in hand.

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Now repeat after me: a muslin is your best friend. Definitely muslin before you cut into your good fabric. You’ll be able to check the fit and see what kind of alterations you need to make right off the bat, especially if you need to blend between sizes. I snagged this (freaking adorable) denim from JoAnn’s. I thought it was a great denim for my first pair, since it’s not super expensive. It’s certainly not the highest quality fabric, but they’re super comfy, and I think they’ll wear well.

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Here I go, putting my booty on the internet again… but seriously, I love the way my butt looks in these pants! I always struggle with store-bought jeans, because well, I don’t really have much of a butt. This seems like it would be a good problem, but not when it comes to picking out jeans. Jeans are made for people with a booty! But after some minor alterations, they fit perfectly, and I’m pretty sure I may never go back to store-bought jeans again.DSC_5823

Let’s take control of our wardrobes! Let’s embrace our bodies and sew clothes that make us feel good about ourselves! Because as I said before:

Life is too short to wear clothes I don't like

You can find these patterns and more on sale at the Bundle Up Sale now through May 8th, and individually later this month.

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And be sure to head over to Pattern Revolution and check out all the other Bundle Up tour stops, as well as reviews on each of the individual patterns.

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 Disclaimer: I was given these patterns in exchange for this post. I receive no compensation from this sale. All opinions are my own.

The Ultimate Guide to Sewing Machine Care

If you’re going to use your sewing machine on a regular basis (and I hope you are!), you need to take care of it. In addition to regular professional tune-ups every 12-18 months, you should be cleaning out and caring for your serger and sewing machine at home every 8-10 hours of sewing, more often if you’ve been sewing fuzzy fabrics, towels, wool, etc. If you neglect to clean it, you’ll find yourself frustrated and not having any fun sewing – and who wants that?! While every machine has its unique features and you should always consult your manual, the same general principles apply, whichever brand you use.

The Ultimate Guide to Sewing Machine Care

this post contains affiliate links

Before you open up and begin cleaning your machine, unplug it! No need to risk any accidental injuries. Turn on a nearby lamp to help you see more clearly.

What You Need

Most sewing machines will come with the appropriate screwdrivers and brushes, but if yours was a hand-me-down or you are missing something, here are the basic supplies you will want to have on hand:

  • Stiff brush
  • Lint brush
  • Tweezers
  • A soft cloth
  • Your sewing machine manual
  • Maintenance Kit (this includes screwdrivers and brushes, so you can purchase them all together)
  • Sewing Machine Oil (not everyone feels comfortable oiling their own machine and many newer machines may not require it – make sure you consult your manual) – yellow oil and WD-40 are not recommended for oiling sewing machines.

Don’t use compressed air in your machine or blow in it! You don’t want to push anything inside, which is why tweezers and brushes are much more helpful. Some people suggest using a small vacuum tool, but I prefer to stick with what I’ve listed above.

Get to Know Your Machine

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First of all, know your machine. In order to open it up and clean it, you have to know the parts! Cool People Sew has a great description of all the parts of a machine to help you know all the names of each part and where everything is located.

How to Care for Your Sewing Machine

See the basic steps for cleaning out your sewing machine at The Sewing Loft – she shows you how to clean out a machine with a top-loading bobbin.

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Over at Sew Can She, you’ll find another step-by-step guide for a sewing machine with a front-loading bobbin.

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You can watch a free video tutorial on how to clean and oil your machine on We All Sew (the Bernina blog).

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This post at Serger Pepper will help you to clean out your serger.

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Here’s a clear list of Do’s and Don’ts of sewing machine care on the Craftsy blog

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Always remember to consult your manual for special instructions regarding your specific brand or model.

Change Your Needle

Changing your needle is a super important part of caring for your sewing machine. Always use a needle that’s appropriate for your fabric. With each major sewing project, switch out your needle for a fresh one. At minimum, change your needle once a month if you sew infrequently. If you’re sewing every day, you should change it at least once a week. This keeps you sewing with a sharp needle and can help prevent skipped stitches, broken thread, and tension issues.

Cover it Up

To help keep dust off your machines when you’re not using them, most sewing machines come with a cover, or you can make your own. Here are two tutorials that I like:

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Sewing machine cover with piping and pockets from Get Your Crap Together

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Quilted sewing machine cover at Sew Delicious

If you take care of your machines, you’ll avoid a lot of trouble and frustration while you’re sewing. And stress-free sewing makes for a stress-free mama in this house! :)

Happy sewing, friends!

Quilted Camera Bag (that’s actually a diaper bag!)

A couple months ago, I shared this Quilted Camera Bag (affiliate link) that I posted over at Melly Sews as part of the Blank Slate Sewing Team. My mom-purse was starting to fall apart, and I needed a new diaper bag. Then I realized that if I left out the camera padding, this pattern would be perfect!

Quilted Camera Bag that's actually a diaper bagI can’t even tell you how much I love this pattern. Well, maybe I can… it’s amazing. In the few months I’ve been using it, I’ve gotten more compliments on it than anything I’ve ever made.

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In true Melissa form, the pattern is incredibly well done. The instructions are very clear. The pattern is a bit complicated (it’s rated intermediate to advanced, and I’d say that’s accurate), but if you’re a fairly experienced or even adventurous seamstress, I think you could tackle it. Just give yourself a lot of time, as there are a lot of pieces and steps. I also recommend using these Wonder Clips (affiliate link) to keep the many layers in place.

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The finishes on the bag are incredibly professional. Melissa guides you through everything, so even if you haven’t made bag this complicated before (which I haven’t!) you shouldn’t have a problem.

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The pattern comes with two zipper pockets – one larger outside and one smaller inside. I ended up putting both of them inside the bag, because I decided I’d use it much more that way.

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The strap in the pattern is designed to be adjustable, but I prefer them to be a fixed length, so I took about eight inches off and left off the slider.

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The length is absolutely perfect – it hits me at the right spot, and I can still wear it across my body (great for those times when you need to hold three hands at a time across a busy street).

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The pattern includes padding to surround your camera pieces and laptop, so if you’d like to use this pattern as a diaper bag or purse, just skip those steps (including all the velcro). The bag is nice and roomy, so there’s plenty of room for diapers, wipes, snacks, toys, or whatever else you might need.

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The front pockets are perfect for my sunglasses and my phone wallet. Though if I had to re-do it, I’d use magnetic snaps for these pockets as well, just so I can access the pockets faster while wrangling the kids.

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I used one of my decorative stitches for the first time to quilt the top flap, and I LOVE how it turned out. It adds a super fun detail to the bag!

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The lining fabric is Cotton + Steel (which I adore) and the outer fabric is a fabulous table cloth that I found on clearance at Target that ended up not fitting our table.

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I’m so happy with my bag. And the bright fabric added some sunshine to our gloomy winter days and feels so springy now that warm weather has arrived!

DIY Diaper Bag

You can find the Quilted Camera Bag HERE in the Blank Slates Pattern shop.

Make your own diaper bag

No, I’m not “trying for a girl” (thoughts on being a boy mama)

I have four boys. When most people hear this or see me with my four handsome little men in tow, they say something to the effect of “So, are you going to try for a girl?!”

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Now, I’m sure everyone means well when they say this. Most of them say this because they have a daughter or have dreamed of having one. They can’t imagine how “crazy” or “loud” my house is. They think I’m missing out, because their picture of family includes girls.

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But what they don’t realize is when they say this, they’re implying that by having only boys, my family is incomplete. That my four boys haven’t made my life richer than I could ever imagine. What we tell boy mamas when we ask if they’re “trying for a girl” or even when we get excited for the mom who “finally got her girl” is that boys are not enough. Your life can’t be complete without a daughter. And let me tell you, that just isn’t true. Are daughters a wonderful and amazing blessing to their families? Of course! But am I missing out on the goodness of motherhood because my family doesn’t have one? Well, I don’t believe that for a second.

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Being a boy mom is different than being a girl mom in many ways, I’m sure. But I’m a mom, no matter the gender of my littles. I’m not a lesser mom because I didn’t “succeed” in birthing a baby girl. I’ve spent countless sleepless nights rocking and singing to my babies. I have wiped tears and butts and noses. I have cried and laughed and loved more than I thought possible. A mama’s job is to love her kids, and I have so much love bursting out of me for these boys it hurts. Each time someone wonders aloud if we are going to “try for a girl” my heart aches for my sons, within earshot, that they might think they aren’t enough. That they were the consolation prize instead of my winning lottery tickets. Why do we squeal with excitement when we find out a mom of two boys is now pregnant with a daughter, but when a mom is pregnant with her third boy, we apologize to her or say “Aw, well, I guess you’ll have to try for another!” or  “Look on the bright side, at least you don’t have to buy any new clothes!”

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If the Lord had given us a daughter (or four), it would have been an enormous blessing. Perhaps some things about our day-to-day life would be different, but we would have loved her with as much affection as we have for our boys. I’m not going to pretend I have never thought about what it would be like to have a little girl, but truthfully, boys are all I know now. And I can’t imagine it any other way. I don’t sew tiny dresses everyday, but who says boy clothes aren’t fun?!

My house is usually loud and my couches are ripped from all the constant jumping and fort building, and on any given day there’s probably pee on my bathroom floor. We spend our days laughing and climbing and reading and playing in dirt. My heart is full from all the snuggles and kisses and I love yous. There’s nothing I would change about my life. Well, except for getting a maid… I’d like to do that.

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If someday the Lord gives us a daughter, we would welcome her with grateful hearts and joyful smiles. But I’m not and have never been “trying for a girl.” My heart and my arms are full, and I couldn’t be happier. I will relish in the excitement of every niece born into my family, every friend who has a beautiful daughter, and I will stockpile my pink fabrics to sew them dresses and jumpers. And someday, my boys will get married and have kids and there will be daughters-in-law and maybe granddaughters, and then, I will happily “get my girl.”

So when you meet a boy mama, please don’t apologize to her for the blessings God has given her. Don’t feel sorry for her lack of pink, tulle, and pigtails. Instead, share in her joy. Laugh at her stories, listen to her worries, and invite her to your daughter’s princess tea party when she needs a little girly in her life. And kindly overlook the torn couch cushions and muddy footprints through her kitchen.

All photos used with permission from Brooke Collier Photography

DIY Reversible Mouse Pad: a tutorial

I love when I can take a little bit of fabric, a short amount of time, and come up with something that can brighten up a space. When I got sick of looking at my plain, black mouse pad, I decided to sew up a new one that would bring a little color and fun to my desk. It only takes a small amount of fabric, so its a perfect scrap buster project – great for those scraps that you’re hoarding and you can’t get rid of… you know what I’m talking about. Plus, this is a great beginner’s project to try!

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Supplies:

  • Two pieces of non-stretchy cotton fabric – size can vary, mine were approximately 8.5in x 10.5in.
  • Slightly smaller piece of fusible fleece (such as Pellon TP971F Fusible Thermolam Plus – affiliate link)
  • sewing machine, thread, etc.
  • scissors
  • iron

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1. Cut your two cotton fabrics to your desired size. I cut mine to be approximately 8.5in by 10.5in. Round the corners.

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2. Cut two fusible fleece pieces at least 1/2in. smaller than the cotton fabrics. Iron one piece of the fusible fleece to the wrong side of each fabric piece (be sure to check the instructions that come with your fusible fleece).

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3. Pin the two fabric/fleece pieces together, with the right sides together.

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4. Sew the pieces together, using a 1/2in. seam allowance. You want to sew around the fleece, so it’s not caught in your seam allowance. Leave an opening of about 2 inches as shown above.

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5. Clip the fabric around all the corner curves, as shown above. This will help your corners not to be bulky.

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6. Turn the fabrics right side out, using that small opening. Press the seams with your iron.

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When you are pressing your seams, make sure that the fabric around the opening is pressed under.

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7. Topstitch around the entire mouse pad.

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That’s all there is to it! In a short amount of time, you can brighten up your desk. No more boring mouse pad! And now you have yet another excuse to keep all those pretty fabric scraps. As if you needed another excuse. ;)

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And you can flip it over when your mood changes and you’re looking for something new. This would make a great gift for anyone who works at a computer – dads, husbands, teachers, or a blogging bud!

DIY Reversible Mouse Pad 2Happy sewing, friends!

 

FREE Yoga Pants Pattern!

Today I’m over at Melly Sews sharing my Zinnia Jacket as part of the Riley Blake Knit Love blog tour. I’m super excited to take part in the tour on Melissa’s behalf and have the chance to play with some super yummy Riley Blake knits. You can read all about the Zinnia Jacket over on Melissa’s blog, and if you keep reading, you can make your own yoga pants by grabbing your FREE pattern!

FREE Women's Yoga Pants Pattern from If Only They Would Nap

When I decided to make the Zinnia Jacket, I quickly realized it would be a perfect pair with yoga pants. And obviously exercise is so much easier with a cute outfit. The Riley Blake knits are fantastic for this!

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You want to have a solid knit with 40-50% stretch and a good recovery. You can sew this with a serger or with a regular sewing machine, using a zig-zag stitch.

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These pants have an oh so ridiculously comfy fold over yoga waistband and are super quick to sew together. Yoga pants aren’t just for yoga, you know… have you ever slept in yoga pants? SO comfortable! I love that the waistband also gives you a chance to play with accent fabrics, like these fabulous triangles. DSC_4677

Knits are my jam. If you don’t sew with knits often, don’t be scared!! Just give them a try. If I can put my booty on the internet, you can try sewing knits. ;)

You can download your FREE PATTERN here in size medium.
Finished length: 40in. from bottom of waistband to finished hem

After you print and tape your pattern together, cut your fabric out. If the size medium doesn’t fit you, you can use these same instructions to put together your own self-drafted pattern. Just copy a pair of pants you already own and you’ll know they fit you. Just remember to add in some seam allowance.

1. Lay your front and back leg pieces right sides together. Zig-zag or serge along the inseam and the outside of the leg. Repeat with the second leg.

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2. Put the two legs together and line up the crotch seams, right sides together – make sure that the front and back line up. You can easily do this by putting one leg inside the other, right sides together. Sew the two pieces together.DSC_4855

3. Cut two rectangles for the waistband 10.75in (length) by 16.75in (width) – make sure the stretch goes along the width. Sew the short ends together, right sides together.DSC_4858

4. Fold the waistband over.DSC_4859

5. Slide the waistband over the pants and pin together. Sew with a serger or zig-zag stitch.DSC_4863

6. Hem with a one inch hem (or more/less according to your desired length). You can do this with a coverstitch (affiliate link), a double needle, or a stretch stitch.

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Then go for a run! Or cozy up with a good book… I won’t judge. Either way, feel good about your new pants!

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Download your FREE yoga pants pattern here

Happy sewing, friends!