Introducing new sew-alongs.

Ever since the start of lockdown and the temporary end of my sewing classes I have been saying I would offer some sew-alongs for my sewing patterns. I had begun to build a library of techniques as video tutorials with the help of Dean Leivers before lockdown. However in the absence of my classes, I felt I wanted to be a bit more present in our now new way of living.  I am a self confessed technophobe and definitely not in my natural domain in front of the camera. I have been faffing about for the past few weeks trying to work out how to do these videos and definitely haven’t found it very easy. Initially I wanted to do live sew-alongs so you could ask questions. Living in the dark ages as much as I do means I don’t even own a webcam! You cannot buy a webcam for love nor money at the moment. So I decided to stick to using my camera and do pre-recorded videos.

The first sew along is for the sweatshirt trio Lynn the ladies, Dean the mens and Theodor the kids version. All of these are made in exactly the same way so I thought it would be a good one to start with. The other good thing about this style is it is super quick. The first video is recorded and was definitely finished in under an hour.

As they are pre-recorded you can rewind and go through the stages at your own pace. I thought in this post I would just give you a quick heads up on preparation. I haven’t shared this preparation in any great depth in the video. This might be useful as it goes for any sewing project whether you are following the sew along or not.

Washing fabric:

The first thing to do is wash your fabric, most fabric sellers will advise wash care for the fabric they sell. It is good practice to wash fabric in case of shrinkage. Jersey fabrics are especially important to wash, these are more prone to shrinkage than most types of fabric. If in doubt on wash care err on the side of caution with a lower temperature. Whatever you do, make a mental note of the temperature you washed it at and stick to that for when it is a made up garment.

Drying is best regarded in the same way, if you know you are going to tumble dry the garment then treat your fabric like this, however it is best not to tumble dry fabric especially jersey. If you do you will definitely encounter some shrinkage, it may also continue to shrink on subsequent washes.

Ironing fabric:

Before cutting out if the fabric is creased and wrinkled it is worth ironing it. This will make it much easier to be accurate when you are laying out the pattern pieces and cutting out.

Cutting out:

Once you have the pattern pieces cut out there are a number of options for cutting out. The classic way many people choose is to pin the pattern to the fabric and cut around as close as you can to the edges of the pattern. This is probably the best option if you have a tissue pattern. Many indie patterns including mine are printed on substantial paper making it a bit cumbersome to pin and cut accurately. Some people like to weigh the pattern down with weights (as long as you have a cutting board underneath) and cut using a rotary cutter.

My preferred method for heavier weight patterns is to weigh the pattern down and chalk around the edge of the pattern. Then remove the whole pattern and cut carefully inside the chalk line. This is super accurate and works really well with the thicker paper patterns.

Another thing to mention that I like to do especially for kids patterns is trace the size off the master pattern, this way you can save the pattern and trace more sizes as the child grows.


Once the garment is cut out the last thing to do before starting sewing is to mark any notches or placement positions. If the pattern is still pinned to the fabric I generally start with notches on the outside edges. Methodically going around the edge of each piece of pattern looking for the little triangles or lines that need to be marked. I make a small snip to mark these. You can also mark them with chalk. If you have taken the pattern off, lay it back on and weigh it down again to transfer the markings.

Internal markings will need to marked with a tailor tack or you can pin mark these. Some marks may also be possible to be marked with chalk or addressed a bit later on in the make up process.

I plan to post my sew along videos once a week on a Thursday evening around 8.15pm (after we come in from clapping). Hopefully my video skills will improve as I work through my pattern range!


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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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