Last-Minute Gifts to Sew; Plus, Holiday Giveaway!

Elna sewing machine ad from the 1960s. Printed in Vogue Patterns Magazine
Elna sewing machine ad from the 1960s. From Vogue Patterns Magazine

There’s still time to whip up some handmade gifts for friends and family. After all, handmade beats store-bought, right? Here are six patterns that are fast and easy to make:

Last-minute gifts to sew. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

With this simple Vogue pattern (V9038) you could make a cape very similar to those by Burberry that sell for several hundred dollars. Look for soft, blanket-like wools and fleeces in large-scale plaids.

Last-minute gifts to sew. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Robes are fast to sew and involve no fitting, which makes them the perfect gift to make. We’d sew this Butterick pattern (B6428) in the softest sweater knit fabric we could find. It also sews up well in French terry or sweatshirt fleece.

Last-minute gifts to sew. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Your dog-owner friend will be so touched with the custom coat you make for her precious pooch. Customize this to your friend’s taste with fabrics and trims. Love the pompom on the hood! Butterick B6432.

Last-minute gifts to sew. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Kimonos also sew up quickly because there’s really no fitting involved. For this Kwik Sew pattern (K4176), we’d choose lightweight crepes, chiffons or burnout velvets in dramatic prints and colors.

Last-minute gifts to sew. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

We’re seeing fuzzy jackets like this one from McCall’s (M7511) on lots of teens and 20-somethings. Look for the cuddliest faux fur available, and make the lining in velour to amp up the cozy factor.

Last-minute gifts to sew. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Have a family member who likes to cook? She’ll appreciate an apron made especially for her. Quilting cottons in fun prints make great aprons. McCall’s M7448.

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McCall Pattern Company

You could win all sorts of fabulous sewing-related prizes—including a new sewing machine!—by entering our annual holiday giveaway. Click here for all the details. Hurry, entries are due by December 13th. Good luck!



If You’ve Never Sewn a Coat Before, Start With One of These Patterns

Coat patterns for beginning sewers.

Ready to sew your first coat? Even if you’re still relatively new to sewing, coats can be easy to make. In this recent blog post we gave you some tips for making your first coat. Today we’ve got suggestions for five coat patterns that a sewing newbie should be able to tackle with confidence.

Butterick B6244: Coat patterns for beginning sewers.

1) Butterick B6244 by Lisette. This is a great sewing pattern for beginners. One, no lining to worry about! Two, it has an easy, loose shape so you won’t need to spend time worrying about fit. Best yet, Lisette designer Liesl Gibson just hosted a sew along to make this coat, so you’ve got step-by-step help from the designer herself.

McCall's M7257: Coat patterns for beginning sewers.

2) McCall’s M7257. We show this coat in a faux fur, but it can be sewn up in medium- to heavyweight stable knits or wools. There’s no collar to worry about, making it suitable for newbies. The fit is on the boxy side, with a dropped shoulder. Minimal details means this coat will also sew up fast.

Butterick B6251: Coat patterns for beginning sewers.

3) Butterick B6251. This is another unlined coat option for beginners. Look for cozy knits and fleeces in solids or small prints. (Hold off on pattern-matching until you get a little more experience under your belt.) Shawl collars are simple to sew.

Vogue Patterns V9136: Coat patterns for beginning sewers.

4) Vogue Patterns V9136. Another one without a lining and a loose, boxy shape. Dropped shoulders are super-easy to sew, because you don’t have to fuss with set-in sleeves and achieving a smooth sleeve cap. And that stand-up collar will keep you nice and cozy this season. Make this pattern out of soft wools or fleeces.

Vogue Patterns V9156: Coat patterns for beginning sewers.

5) Vogue Patterns V9156. This one is the more complex patterns shown here, but it’s still beginner-friendly. The entire directions fit on one side of the paper, in fact. Plus, no fussing with set-in sleeves here. The collar looks intimidating but it’s actually simple to attach. Make this coat pattern out of wools, or tweeds with a tight weave.

We hope this post and our previous post have given you the confidence to tackle your first coat. You’ll be surprised at how quickly a coat pattern can come together, and how addictive coat sewing can be. Good luck, and tag us in your social media when you post about making your first (or gazillionth!) coat.

5 Ways To Make Everyone Think You’re a Sewing Pro

5 ways to make everyone think you're a sewing pro. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.

Just think, with a sewing machine, a pattern and some fabric you can actually make your own clothes. Being a beginning sewer is exciting and empowering as you learn how to sew a wardrobe that’s uniquely you. It can also be really frustrating when you’re trying as hard as you can but keep churning out things that look “Becky Home Ecky,” an insult Michael Kors used to toss at struggling designers on Project Runway.

Relax, making clothes that look as nice as better RTW is within every beginning sewer’s reach. All you have to do is follow these five tips:% Ways to Not Look Like a Beginning Sewer

1) Know what fashion styles work best for you.

Just because you now have the ability to make your own clothes—which makes you a super-cool human being—doesn’t mean you need to turn into a DIY fashionista queen. Remember that while sewing may be your new passion, it does take time and money. Before you even think about sewing the latest fashion trend (ooh, culottes!), head to the store and try it on. Or search online and see how it looks on people with your body type. Think of all the time you saved but not sewing something that was going to look terrible on you no matter how well you made it.

5 Ways to Keep From Looking Like  a Beginning Sewer

2) Choose a fabric that makes you look like a pro.

Beginning sewers often feel their nascent sewing skills aren’t worthy of better fabric, so they limit themselves to low-cost fabric. (We don’t mean good fabric at affordable prices. We mean poorly-manufactured fabrics that are priced low because the quality is low.) One, cheap fabric will always look like cheap fabric, even if you sew well enough to meet Patrick Grant’s approval. Two, better fabric is a pleasure to sew with, and will help you be a better sewer because it will cause less frustrations at the sewing machine. Cheap fabrics fray easily, snag frequently, pill when washed, and are often printed off-grain. Three, better fabric can make the simplest of designs—an elastic-waist skirt, for example—look like expensive designer RTW.

5 Ways to Keep From Looking Like  a Beginning Sewer

3) Test the details first.

As a beginning sewer you’re going to have a lot of firsts: first zipper, first pocket, first buttonhole, etc. Grab some scrap fabric and practice sewing these details before you begin working on your pattern. Be prepared: You may need to test-sew several versions before you get it right. Only after you’re satisfied that your imaginary sewing teacher would give you an A+ should you attempt sewing your first [insert scary new sewing technique here] in the garment you’re working on.

basting stitches blog

4) Baste for greater control.

Sure, pins are perfect for holding things together and we use them all the time. But when you want to have real control at the sewing machine and achieve perfect stitching the first time, baste your garment pieces in place. Hand-stitching secures your fabric much more precisely than pins do, and it doesn’t come out like pins can. Sure, it may take you a little longer to baste rather than pin (though not much), but you’re so much less likely to need to rip out your stitching and try again. Use a thread for basting that pulls out of your fabric easily, like a silk thread.

5 Ways to Keep From Looking Like  a Beginning Sewer

5) Press for perfection.

Nothing screams “beginning sewer” louder than a garment that was sloppily pressed during construction. Invest in a good iron with steam and high heat, and pick up some pressing tools such as a tailor’s ham and a wooden point presser. Then follow the pattern’s directions and carefully press seams and sewing details at every juncture, not missing a single step where pressing is called for. The result will be a crisp-looking garment with sharp details.


Five ways to make everyone think you're a sewing pro. On the McCall Pattern Company blog.