Tag Archives: Seam allowance

Christine wearing cooling scarf

How to make a cooling scarf

The heat is dreadful in Georgia this summer. I can’t stand it. And I don’t wish to wear a goofy looking scarf or pay a fortune for a slightly less goofy one. So I made  one myself. As requested, here’s how you can make one too:

Christine wearing cooling scarf

Christine wearing cooling scarf

You need a rectangular piece of fabric. I used one left over from another project. It should be at least 42 by 12 inches. That will make a pocket large enough to accommodate a grocery or drugstore cooling pack. The hard ones stay cold longer. The soft ones, like shown below are slightly more comfortable.

Rectangular piece of fabric, folded in half lengthwise

Rectangular piece of fabric, folded in half lengthwise

Cut the fabric into a long rectangle 42 inches or more long, and 12 inches wide. Fold in half. Cut ends at an angle. I used a 45 degree angle.

Rectangular fabric, ready to cut ends

Rectangular fabric, ready to cut ends


Sew one side to form a tube, using a half inch seam allowance. Stitch one end closed. Grade the seams or you’ll have a lump instead of  point. Turn your tube right side out and press.

Closed end of cooling scarf before turning right side out

Closed end of cooling scarf before turning right side out

Hem the other side so that it is open, stitch and press. Grade the ends as necessary. I folded in the hem once, not twice to avoid bulk. If you want to machine wash, fold twice.

Open end of cooling scarf

Open end of cooling scarf

Sew a line of stitching across your scarf to form a pocket. This should be just towards the end that is closed, off center. Stitch across it again so the pocket is strong. I used a water soluble marker to draw a straight line.

Marking the placement of the sewing line to form a pocket

Marking the placement of the sewing line to form a pocket

Hand wash your scarf to remove the marker line. Your scarf is finished.


How to Make a Pattern

I haven’t had much luck finding basic patterns for my children.  There seems to be a large selection of “boutique” style patterns.  But for simple things like t-shirts, jumpers or plain cardigans, I haven’t found much. So, it’s another DIY moment: How to make a pattern from a ready to wear garment.  This example is a cardigan.

cardigan sweater size 2T


  • A garment that fits
  • Paper scissors
  • Craft paper
  • Water soluble marker
  • Ruler
  • French curve
  • Fabric weights

How to:

Roll out a piece of craft paper large enough to accommodate the first piece you will trace. You’ll flip the piece, so make sure the craft paper is wide enough for front and back.

Flatten the sleeve on top of the craft paper.  And trace around the sides and hem with the water soluble pen.  Use a ruler to keep the lines straight.  Mark the end points of the armscye (curve where the sleeve meets the shoulder).

tracing sleeve

Flip your sleeve to make the other side. Repeat tracing.

Cut out your partially finished sleeve shape with paper scissors, leaving room for your incomplete armscye.

Fold the sleeve pattern piece in half lengthwise.  Lay the sleeve on top and line up the french curve with armscye and the marks on your sleeve pattern piece.

french curve at armscye

Slide the sleeve out from under the french curve.  And draw your line.

sleeve pattern piece folded lengthwise

Draw a seam allowance around your sleeve.  One quarter inch shown here. And add a label.

Cut out the armscye curve along the line you drew, with the piece folded in half so that the curve is a mirror image on each half.

sleeve pattern piece with label and seam allowance

For the front cardigan pieces, trace again, marking the end points where the bodice will meet the sleeve.

front bodice without armscye

This time, place your sleeve piece, folded lengthwise on top the pattern piece, as if it were a completed cardigan. Draw around the curve so that your pieces will match perfectly.

adding the armscye curve to front bodice

Label the bodice piece.  And draw your seam allowance. You can place your completed piece on top of the original to check for accuracy.  The pattern piece should be slightly larger.

completed pattern piece bodice front

The back of the bodice has the least accessible seam lines.  So you will need to fold it in half carefully lengthwise.

Trace as before.

tracing the back bodice

Label the center back of your pattern piece to Cut One on Fold.  Add seam allowances.

back bodice pattern piece

And you’re done!


  • Use a french curve and ruler.  Hold the pen against them, so that you don’t mark your original garment.
  • Use a water soluble pen, in case you do mark on your garment.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust your pattern the first few times you use it.  Anything that has been worn can stretch.
  • Use fabric weights, not pins.  Pins tear craft paper.

Fleece Pants for Toddler

As usual, my toddler needs new pants.  I used the Taylor’s Pajama Pants pattern by Create Kids Couture.  I used fleece, and made regular pants, not pajamas.

fleece pajama pants

The pattern printed out and fit together nicely.  I cannot speak to the efficacy of the instructions, because I didn’t read them.  I just verified that I should use a 5/8 inch seam allowance, and a self casing at the waist.

fleece pajama pants pattern

I laid a pair of pants that fit out on top of the sewing pattern.  Unsurprisingly, the pattern would need to be smaller to fit my child, smaller in width even than the 12 month size.  I also made the legs shorter, because as written they would have pooled around the ankles.  And my little person looses her mind if her pants are too long.  It’s as if she’s being attacked by ants, the way she carries on.

fleece pajama pants pattern alteration

I cut off about an inch on the pattern outer leg, and redrew the fold line.

I serged the inside seams.  And used a zig-zag stitch for the waist casing.  I didn’t bother to hem the pants, because fleece doesn’t ravel.  And, it’s likely that my child will only wear these pants for a month before it gets too warm to wear fleece.

I have a second pair of pants, in brown fleece, in progress.  I only needed 5/8 of a yard to make each pair of pants. And… I still have black and brown fleece left over from making my jackets.  The American Girl Doll might get to have a black fleece sweater or pants too.

Fleece Jacket Pattern

I have a new fleece jacket.  It’s Kwik Sew Pattern 3721, in the car coat length.

Fleece Jacket Pattern

Once again, the photo is overexposed so that you can see the detail.  I suppose that I should make things in lighter colors so that they can appear clearly on this blog.  But… I need to wear them.  And black is a good coat color.

I made the coat from winter fleece that I got from Fabric.com.  It was very different to sew than the sweater fabric.  I used clear elastic at the shoulder seams again.  Only this time it slipped out of my hand.  And I sewed it off a few times.  Now that I am wearing the coat, I can feel the elastic.  So, I may not need the clear elastic when sewing with fleece.

horizontal seam reinforced with clear elastic

The pattern layout looked just as odd as with the sweater fabric.  But I had seen it once, so it was familiar.  And I was able to cheat a bit, since fleece is without nap, and cut both arm/front pieces at once.

I used yellow tailor’s tacks and safety pins to mark the pattern pieces. I had originally made snips in the seams where appropriate.  But I wasn’t able to see them. So I added the tailors tacks afterward.

The pockets do add bulk to the side seams.  But I liked having them a lot yesterday when the wind was blowing.  And I didn’t want to mess around with gloves.  I may use a complimentary fabric for the pockets in the future.

This pattern is versatile.  By making a longer variation in a different fabric, the coat feels very different.

Mom’s Day Off Sweater

I finally finished assembling the pattern pieces, cutting out, and sewing my cardigan. I used Kwik Sew Pattern 3721 (aka Kwik Serge). I’m ridiculously pleased.


And the back.


This sweater included firsts, and probable firsts. Which is to say, it would seem I would have used tailor’s tacks, since I knew exactly how, but don’t remember. (Faulty memory can be useful.)

Sewing Sweater Fabric

I’ve never sewn sweater fabric into a garment. Just the odd blocks that I used in DD8’s quilt. I felt very paranoid that it would unravel before I could serge it. But it was fine. It definitely needed the serging at the end. But it holds together well enough for assembly.

Laying out the pieces for cutting was weird. The front piece is very unwieldy, since it is both the front and the sleeve. But I eventually managed it after repeatedly consulting the cutting diagram.

Clear Elastic

I reinforced the shoulder seams with clear elastic, Sewology brand. I’ve never used it before. I’ve noticed it in better quality ready to wear t-shirts and sweaters. And I was both keen to try it and anxious that it would tangle in my serger. I immediately cut my hand on the internal plastic packaging.  The clear elastic is wrapped around an H-shape plastic that is very sharp.  Actually sewing the elastic was easy. The serger blade trimmed it right into the stitches and made a very flat, strong seam. I’ll use it to reinforce horizontal seams in all my knits now, preferably a brand that doesn’t use sharp objects in packaging.

Kwik Sew Pattern

The instructions for Kwik Sew K3721 Cardigans Sewing Pattern call for a quarter inch seam allowance. And I am accustomed to 5/8th inch. So I’m glad that I was paying attention. Often, I just assemble a garment without reading the instructions. But I hadn’t used the Kwik Sew brand before. So I wasn’t expecting the more narrow seam allowance.

The sewing instructions and layout diagrams were clear. They recommended the clear elastic, and to mark the pattern with tailor’s tacks or safety pins. I like that I can serge right over the tailor’s tacks. I used yellow embroidery thread, which was easy to see.

There is an odd note on the pattern warning against cutting between or blending sizes, which is opposite of what I’ve learned. The link given for more instruction about the warning doesn’t work.

I used Sandra Betzina’s solution for full-bust-gaposis from Fast Fit: Easy Pattern Alterations for Every Figure, my favorite fitting reference. Full-bust-gaposis sounds silly, but it’s nice to have a cardigan that hangs straight. Basically, you add more fabric in the front at an angle so that your girls don’t skew the line of the garment.  I wasn’t entirely sure that it would work with a modern, flowing, design.  But it does.

Now I have this cardigan that fits really well, but doesn’t meet all of my requirements.  I was seduced by the nice fabric in the clearance bin.  I should have purchased a thicker fleece fabric, to replace my coat that has become ratty from constant washing.  But instead, I have this lovely, great for indoors, hand washable sweater.  Oops.  Now I’ll need to buy that fleece anyway.  It will be interesting to see how the pattern sews up in a more low maintenance fabric.  It’ll certainly be faster, since the edges won’t need serging.