Thursday, 25 May 2023

Patchwork Denim Quilted Jacket

She's done! The jacket with the ridiculously long (but descriptive!) name is complete. This project has been in the works, to some degree, for about two years. That is about how long I've been consciously collecting scraps of this lightweight denim with a view to combining them somehow. 

As I've mentioned all over the place many times, I'm currently obsessed with the possibilities of combining scraps and leftovers to make clothes. Fabric scraps and leftovers from sewing projects are a fantastic resource, but they can build up so quickly. Before you know it, they are spilling out of the box you assigned them, and threaten to take over whatever sewing space you have. But pausing your garment-making activities (if, like me, that's the main thing you're into) just to bust out some little projects to use some of them up, seems like a waste of time and energy. I'm far more interested in applying creativity and resourcefulness to work them into garment projects. 


So I can't exactly pin-point when the idea for this specific garment was born, but when I realised that I had everything I needed to make it happen, I got started on it almost immediately. This jacket has hoovered up a large carrier bag of scraps of 4oz washed denim. Some of that 4oz denim was in the form of scraps from my previous sewing endeavours, some came from the scrap bin at work (including the washed denim with embroidered lobsters!), there were two unworn tunic-y garments, plus the legs from my daughter's woven joggers (which had, in fact, been made from another previously attempted garment projects), also all made from the same type of fabric. I just really love this soft, lightweight washed denim from Fabric Godmother (it comes in three colour ways but this is my fave), which is clear by how many previous garment projects I've made from it over the years. I'm so happy that the finished jacket includes my Tova top, which I wore A LOT during my second pregnancy (proof!). This project also sits very neatly, both in terms of  practicalities and in spirit into the Last Sewist Standing challenge. The only thing I needed to buy to make this happen was thread. 


I settled on the Fibre Mood Molly jacket pattern to use as the basis for this project, not least because I already own it! I chose to lengthen it so the garment would A) use up more of the denim, and B) so it would perform a slightly different function in my wardrobe than my other quilted jacket. I traced out the jacket pieces in my size, then laid them out on the remnant of pre-quilted lining that I was planning to use, and moved the pieces around to work out how much longer I could make them so they still fit. I made sure each piece would have 5cm additional space all the way round to accommodate any shrinking or distortion from the quilting process. 


To create the actual patchwork, I took my scraps and leftovers and cut them into random rectangles. I took two rectangles that both had an edge a similar length, and stitched them together. Once I had a bunch of pairs, I then found another shape, or pair of shapes, to add to each pair. I kept building it up like that, until I had 'clusters' of rectangles that could be added to each other to make overall shapes that were big enough to fit the pattern pieces on. You can see some of these clusters forming in this Instagram post. At many points, I had to cut some 'custom' shapes to fill in gaps. This was where the actual garments came in particularly handy. I also made an enormous amount of bias binding from the larger of the tunic garments. I planned to bind all the seams inside, as well as round the outside edges, so I knew I'd need A LOT. Obviously I still didn't make enough initially, and had to go back and make more. 

When stitching the patchwork, I used the edge of the machine foot as the seam allowance guide, so it was probably about 7mm. I pressed all the seam allowances open so they'd sit nice and flat, but didn't bother the finish the raw edges because the were going to be hidden by the lining. 


As I say, the lining from my stash that I planned to use was already quilted. With the patchwork panels pinned to the roughly-cut out lining pieces, I stitched along every third row of the quilted lining, so the lining was my guide. I used a walking foot on my machine and really took my time to re-pin after every row to avoid any weirdness in the quilting. I used Gutermann rPET recycled thread for all the quilting and binding, and this project took an embarrassing number of reels to complete! I'm not super happy about that aspect of my 'more sustainable' garment project. 


With the pieces quilted and properly cut out, I began construction of the actual garment. All seams were first stitched, then bound with my self-made binding. I also added a cute KATM label that I've been hanging onto for yonks for a special project such as this. 

Towards the end of the jacket construction I had to make a call on pockets. The original Molly pattern has simple patch pockets, although not a particularly good-looking shape, IMO. I considered drafting and applying my own patch pockets, but I thought that might disrupt the patchwork on the front panels. Instead, I drafted in-seam pocket bags to make pockets inserted into the side seams. This was a real head-scratcher because I've never made in-seam pockets with completely bound edges before. In the end, I just went for it and it worked out pretty well. I then decided to stitch the pocket bags to the front jacket panels around the edges to keep them in place and give them more stability when in use. I really like the way their shape is visible from the outside if you know where to look. 

The last decision was about fastenings. I considered both traditional sew-on press studs and the set-in type of press studs that I used for my Tamarack jacket. An Instagram poll revealed that the majority of my followers thought the latter was the best option. However, when I went to get them out, I discovered I didn't have quite enough of the back pieces. Because I can't buy haberdashery and still remain in the heavy weight category the Last Sewist Standing challenge, I went with the traditional press studs from my stash, and I actually really like the look of the hand sewn element. 


I feel triumphant having finished this project! I'm surprised by how similar the outcome is to my original vision, despite winging it the whole time. I love the look of the patchwork. It's got a real abstract, arty vibe, rather than looking like I cut up a quilt, so hopefully it won't look really dated in a year or two. The weight of the garment is also really nice: perfect for late spring and early autumn (plus any rubbish days that summer may throw at us). I also feel great about this project because it's made good use of pieces of fabric that an earlier version of me might have just chucked out. And of course I love that I didn't have to buy anything, other than thread. So. Much. Thread. 

I hope this project inspires others to have a rummage and see what scraps and leftovers they can use for garment making. Using as much of the fabric we purchase is the best way to honour the time, energy, resources and labour that went into its production. 

Saturday, 1 April 2023

Me-May-May '23!

Ok, friends.... It's time for me to launch the Me-Made-May 2023 challenge! These challenges are now in their 14th year, which I'm struggling to believe. It's pretty wonderful actually, to have created something that continues to help, inspire and unite the sewing community that has spanned the various changes in technologies over that time. 

For 2022, I gave MMM a bit of a makeover and minor relaunch. I worked hard to simplify and clarify the challenge, how you participate and why. I've never been able to explain MMM as a snappy elevator pitch, which is a weakness or sorts, but also a source of strength, because it can be what individuals need it to be. 

This year, I'm basically re-delivering this simplified presentation, both here and on Instagram (@sozoblog). Last year I also created an explanatory episode for those wishing to hear more and delve deeper to get the most out of their challenge. I'll be re-releasing that episode this week for those who didn't hear it the first time round, or would like a reminder. 

I also created two accompanying podcast episodes to help people design their pledge so it'll be most useful for them. Those episodes also included some conversations with previous podcast guests about their experiences of, and takeaways from, participating in previous years. They are:

You don't need to listen on the player that the links take you to, however. Check Your Thread is available to listen to on all the major podcast apps. 

But let's break it down here and now...

What is Me-Made-May?

MMM is a wardrobe challenge that helps you improve your relationship with your handmade items. That includes your existing items, as well as the items you might choose to make in the future. To participate you need to wear your handmade items more often or in some way differently to how you usually get dressed. The point of doing this is to give yourself the opportunity to learn some useful lessons and/or alter how you feel about those items. There is no set, single pledge because everyone is different, with different lives and different goals, so participants design their own pledge so that it'll be challenging and useful for them. The challenge happens by setting specifics for yourself that will be a bit difficult, but do-able.

You can’t really predict what you’ll learn, but by giving yourself a month to focus more on what you’re wearing, you’re opening yourself to gathering heaps of knowledge that you can take forward. That knowledge will help you make better choices for future projects. By applying the lessons, you’ll be upping your chances of your future handmade items making you feel fantastic and having long, useful lives.

What isn't Me-Made-May?

Over the years, I’ve noticed four common misconceptions about the challenge, so let’s address them now:

MMM is not a making challenge. The challenge is about wearing your existing handmade items. It’s not about accruing more things. Giving yourself a month to focus on what you’ve got will help you appreciate what you have, perhaps fall back in love with some items, and subsequently get more from the time, energy, money and resources that you’ve already put into your craft and your clothes.

MMM is not a photo challenge. All the photos of people in their handmade outfits that appear on social media during May can definitely make it seem that MMM is all about donning a cute handmade outfit and taking and sharing pictures. However, and I cannot stress this enough, those photos are documentation of the challenge, NOT the challenge itself, and photos are ENTIRELY optional!!!!!!

MMM is not a competition. 

MMM is a personal challenge, you’re not competing with anyone. You’ll have made yourself a pledge to focus on throughout the month, and it really doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, or wearing. If you go on social media where other participants are sharing photos, it’s an opportunity to cheer each other on, and perhaps garner some style inspiration. The enemy of joy is comparison. Remember to stay focused on your own challenge and what you’re trying to achieve.


MMM is not about having heaps of handmade clothes

I honestly can’t stress this enough: you can participate in MMM even if you have just one handmade item. You just have to set a suitable pledge that allows you to wear that item more often or in different ways. However many handmade items you have, your pledge needs to be challenging but do-able.

So who is Me-Made-May for? 

I’ve lost count of the amount of posts I’ve read over the years saying ‘I don’t think I have enough me-mades to take part in MMM’. You can participate if you have just one single self-made item, or if you wear head-to-toe me-mades everyday already. It’s about working with what you’ve got, setting a suitable, challenging pledge, learning useful lessons and having fun.

How do I take part?

You will need to intentionally wear your handmade items more and/or in different ways throughout May 2023. Have a think about the handmade items you own, how often you already wear them, and perhaps if there are any areas of your relationship with your wardrobe that know could use some improvement. Then design your own pledge outlining the specifics of your challenge before 1st May. 

“I (insert name or username) pledge to wear (insert specifics of your pledge) for throughout May 2023”

You can keep this entirely to yourself, tell friends and family, or share this on social media, whatever you wish.

If you'd like to hear me break all this down some more, check out Episode 36 of my podcast, Check Your Thread. In the meantime, if you have any questions about MMM, please get in touch via email at sozoblog AT g mail dot com, or via IG @checkyourthread or @sozoblog.

I wish you a wonderful, insightful and FUN Me-Made-May!

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Autumnal Scrappy Apollon Sweatshirt

Towards the end of last year, I made Mr SoZo a sweatshirt out of scraps and leftovers. It was pretty wild, and despite his insistence that he liked it, I wondered exactly how much he'd wear it. Around the house only perhaps. Well, turns out, he wears it almost every single day, in all the places!

It has received a lot of compliments also, which can only have bolstered his confidence in wearing what he terms as 'post-apocalyptic chic'. Anyway, he's started to worry that it is going to look tatty very soon due to the amount of wear it receives. We only wash garments when they actually need it round these parts, however, it will start to look faded before long, so it made sense to make hime another. 

I've been going through all my fabric scraps and leftovers lately due to my participation in the Last Sewist Standing challenge. For that challenge, I have pledged to try and not buy any new fabric for a year, starting Valentine's Day 2023. I truly believe that scraps and leftovers are a wonderful resource for garments sewers, although the speed at which they build up can be alarming, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by them. Part of my motivation for taking part in the challenge was the push it'd give me to get my scraps under control, and turn many of them into awesome, useful items. 

So having sorted through all my sweatshirt scraps recently, I was able to quickly pull some out that I didn't have plans for and create this fairly pleasing colour palette. I like the autumnal vibes it's giving me, which also suit his colouring well. I took the same approach as I did with the previous sweatshirt, piecing the scraps together on my overlocker until I had shapes big enough to cut the pattern pieces from. 

The only issue I encountered was with the ribbing. My original plan was to use black ribbing for the neckband, waistband and cuffs to create a 'frame' around the mishmash of prints and colours within. I think using a single colour for these makes the whole thing look more intentional and considered. Except, I didn't have enough black ribbing in my stash, and to buy some would send me into the lightweight division of the Last Sewist Standing challenge, which I'm desperate to avoid. I searched through my scraps of Ponte Roma and other double knits, in the hope of finding something solid black that I could substitute for ribbing to make the waistband, but to no avail. During my hunt, however, I discovered a small amount of ivory ribbing that I didn't know I had. There was just enough for this project, phew! 

Sunday, 26 February 2023

Tips for Teaching Kids to Sew

Last year I made an episode of my podcast about encouraging kids to sew. I deliberately didn't call it 'teaching kids to sew', in case you have no desire to do to the teaching part yourself. In the episode. I set out the argument for the benefits that kids get from learning to sew, and followed up with heaps of tips and ideas for how to successfully encourage them to do so. 

Fast forward a few months to January this year. I set myself four sewing-related goals for 2023:

  1. Continue to work through my fabric stash, turning it into lovely, useful items. Initially I set out to help myself do this by limiting my fabric purchases, but I have since signed up for the Last Sewist Standing challenge which bans fabric purchases entirely! (More info on this in this episode.)
  2. Alternate 'from scratch' projects with mending or altering an existing item (#makeonemendone). 
  3. Continue to find more fun and useful projects to make with scraps and leftovers. I truly believe that they are a valuable resource, but like many sewers, I feel like I'm drowning in them!
  4. Teach my kids some specific sewing skills. I think I already do a good job in modelling that sewing is fun, creative and expressive, as well as a possible option for clothing yourself. However, I feel that my daughter in particular could do with some more actual skills to help her make her project ideas a reality, and to do so more successfully. 
To make good on that fourth goal, I recently helped my daughter through a T-shirt project. I tried out some tactics that I'm going to share with you here, in case it will help you, or someone you know, teach a young person to sew in the future!

Tip #1: Give them lots of agency

This may sound obvious, but by giving them as much creative input into the project as possible at the planning stage and through the creation process, the more invested and interested in it they will be. Like many kids, my daughter doesn't have a very long attention span and quickly loses interest in stuff after the initial buzz of a new idea. So allowing her to effectively design the whole thing and make further choices throughout kept her more engaged in this than any previous sewing project we've tackled together. 

She was the one who decided she wanted a lilac T-shirt. I passed her a stack of Ottobre magazines, explained how to look for a style that included her size, and let her sift through to choose a pattern she liked. She selected a long-sleeved raglan top with a slim fit.  

Tip #2: Do the bulk of the boring bits

Because the pattern chosen was in an Ottobre magazine, the next step was to trace out the pieces and add seam allowance. Nothing would have turned my daughter off this project quicker than if I'd made her trace out those pieces herself. NOTHING. So instead, I traced out the pattern and added the seam allowance, but asked her to sit with me engaging her in conversation as I did it. Then, at least, she witnessed that part of the process so it was no longer an alien concept to her. I then got her to cut one of the pattern pieces out of paper so she had experience of that, and cut the rest out myself later on.

When it came to cutting the pattern out of fabric, she wasn't into the idea very much. So I positioned the pieces on the fabric and pinned them in place, and got her to carefully cut round the edges. She moaned a bit about having to do that, but I felt I could push her a bit to take on this step without the project being a bust. It was a gamble, but we got through it!

Tip #3: Balance trickiness and familiarity

For the actual construction, I decided we should use my regular machine rather than my overlocker for all the seams on this T-shirt. As Judy Williment-Ross' daughter once so cleverly articulated, using an overlocker is 'like sewing, but faster and with knives'! My daughter has tried using my overlocker once or twice, but this was her first 'proper' project with jersey fabric, and I felt that a new type of fabric that is trickier to handle was challenge enough. She is far more experienced with, and confident on, my regular machine so I decided to stick to that. 

I pinned all the seams for her, and she stitched them all using a new-to-her stitch (the lightning stitch). So there was a blend of new and familiar elements at play. I also decided to do the neckband myself, because pinning and stitching a neckband into the neck hole of a child-sized garment is super tricky! I felt that if the neckline looked a bit of a mess, it might put her off from wearing the finished item. Doing the neckline myself kind of felt like a risk; would she feel less ownership of the project if I did a major part of it without her? I decided to engage her in that step instead by getting her to choose a cute label to insert so she could tell what is the back at a glance. She picked this 'My best work yet' label from Kylie and the Machine: perfect in both context and colouring. 

Tip #4: Add a fun, unique design element 

As seasoned garment sewers, we know the joy of getting to wear garments we have customised to our own specifications. Everywhere we go in our me-mades, we are free from the risk of turning up somewhere wearing the same garment as someone else! That's really powerful, and something we can use to our advantage when teaching kids to sew. Find ways for them to express themselves further by making little additions to the overall design. We did that with this project with the back neck label, but labels can be inserted into or applied onto the garments pretty much wherever they choose. Ribbons, braids, buttons, contrast panels or pockets are all opportunities to let the child's wield their design prowess and 'own' this project/garment further. 

I have a little collection of iron-on patches collected from all over the place, predominantly so I can mend my kids' clothes super quickly when a whole appears. My daughter had a good rummage through them and selected a patch to apply to her T-shirt, and decided where she wanted it to be. Her choice was linked to a narrative she had about the character she would personify when wearing the garment. But obviously it doesn't have to go that deep!

Tip #5: Get it off the machine and into their wardrobes as quick as possible

My daughter had no interest in hemming the garment, so I did that whilst she was at school. Then one final press and it was done! I could have done this quicker to be honest, but you want to capitalise on the pride and accomplishment of a completed project and make it available for them to wear as soon as possible. 

Tip #6: Tell everyone they made it

Whenever my daughter is wearing this T-shirt, I make sure to tell whoever we're with that she made it herself. Cue lots of 'Oh, wow! Well done! That's really impressive's, and therefore external validation. Refrain from listing the various steps you, yourself actually did, and remind them of the work they put into it, e.g. 'You sewed all those seams so neatly and stuck to the seam allowance so well', etc. 


Did my daughter love this whole project? No. Was there a lot of moaning at various stages? Yes (I managed to keep mine internal though). Was this a gorgeous, bonding experience? Maybe a little bit. Has she declared she wants to sew her entire wardrobe going forwards? No. But I do think/hope that she feels more agency over what she wears now, with the knowledge (and proof!) that she can make (most of) a T-shirt. I don't know when we'll embark on another project like this, but when she mentions a desire to do so, I'll be ready to try this formula again. I will help her build on her skills further, project after project, until she barely needs me (blub)!

Monday, 16 January 2023

Scrappy Knit Cardigan

This is a recently completed project that is the result of an idea that I just couldn't shake. Inspired by the success of Pat's scrap busting Apollon sweatshirt (which in turn was inspired by the success of these scrap busting jersey tops) the thought popped into my brain that I could apply the same idea to actual knit fabric.     I am very interested in clever ways to reuse old garments, and am always looking to bulk out my chilly-weather clothing selection, which is pretty limited. So I cleared the decks of other projects and decided to have a play. 

I have a big bag of old knitwear garments and scraps: items that are moth eaten, felted, misshapen or badly pilled, plus scraps of knit fabric that can be bought by the metre. Some of the knit garments I've had in my stash for over a decade, that I've harvested bits from for other projects, mainly mittens over the years. I was keen to reduce the volume of my knit stash and claw back some space in my airing cupboard. 

I started out my selecting pieces that made a fairly pleasing colour palette. The chartreuse colour is my favourite. I previously used some of that moth-eaten jumper to make myself some mittens. I made sure to use include every last scrap of that garment in this project. There's quite a lot of pink in this project, which is NOT a colour I ever usually wear, but with the other bold colours, I think it looks ok and the over all effect is graphic and fun. 

As for the piecing, part of my goal was to try to be as economic with each piece as possible and be left with very few unusable scraps. I cut along the seam lines of some of the knit garments to access as much of the fabric as possible. I let the resultant shapes guide the forms and I jigsawed them together over the course of a few evenings until I had sections large enough to fit my pattern pieces on. 

The pattern I used at the base of this projects was the Jamie cardigan by Ready to Sew, which I adapted slightly to my preferences. I used some black Ponte Roma for the neck band, and black ribbing for the cuffs and waistband. I like how the solid black of these pieces creates a kind of frame for the colours and patterns within. 

As you may have noticed, this cardigan features some basket weave type knit that I also used to make the polo neck top I'm wearing here. I'm enjoying the 'alternative twin set' look! It's also nice to have a bold, fun garment to wear when the weather is freezing. Any addition of colour in the winter is welcome. 

Friday, 6 January 2023

Free Pattern Friday: Kids' Movie Night Pajamas

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult's one . I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. I also firmly believe that pattern designers deserve to be properly paid for their work, so if you enjoy using a pattern and can afford to do so, make sure you support that designer. Some designers' websites offer the option to make a donation, alternatively you can buy one of their paid-for products. If you can't afford to do so, you can support the designer by sharing your project via social media to help draw more attention to their work. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

Hello and Happy New Year!!!! This is the first blog post of 2023, which will see this blog's 15th birthday! Wild, eh?! This Free Pattern Friday blog feature has also been running for a fair while. I just counted and I've written 54 blog posts road testing free sewing patterns and tutorials, starting in the Autumn of 2017. Phew! I've actually decided to put this feature on pause for a few months. I never want to be sewing for the sake of it. Up until recently, I've had a backlog of free sewing patterns and tutorials that I want to try that I believe will be genuinely useful for myself, my kids or my home. But right now, there aren't any that I can say with honesty we could really do with right now. And with my sewing time being very limited, it seems pointless, not to mention unsustainable, to make things for the sake of having something to post about. I'm definitely going to return to this feature and post more road tests towards the summer. However, for now, this'll be the last for a while. Good job this pattern is a good one! 

Nearly a year ago I road tested and posted about the men's version of the free Movie Night Pajamas pattern by Sew A Little Seam. Today I'm posted about the kid's version of this truly excellent pattern. There's also women's version and all three versions are available for free by joining their Facebook group. That will give you access to a code that you can use at the checkout on their site. If you don't have a Facebook account, or wish to support Sew A Little Seam with a purchase, this pattern is only $5. As always, massive thanks to Sew A Little Seam, and all designers, who make their work available for free.

(image source: Sew a Little Seam)

Pattern type:

The Movie Night pyjamas are a close-fitting set designed for knit fabrics. There are lots of style options. There's long and short sleeves for the top, plus long, Capri or short versions of the bottoms, so it's a great pattern for all seasons. You can personalise them further with the other style options included: gathered sleeve, neckline placket and yoga or elasticated waistbands. That's a lot of options. 

Sizing info:

These pyjamas are graded to fit 12 months to 12 years, by which point your kid might start fitting into the smaller sizes of the adult versions! I made the size 10 for my 9yo who is on the large side, and the fit is great. I think I also added a few extra centimetres to the length of the bottoms for extra room for growth. 

Fabric info:

The pattern recommends cotton/spandex (AKA Lycra or elastane), rib knits or thermal. For this pair I used a cotton pointelle that I picked up at the Ukraine fundraiser fabric swap I organised in 2022, which may or may not be what they refer to as 'thermal'. I also used ribbing for the neckband and cuffs. If you're being critical, you might say the the rib I used was a shade too thick for this pointelle, but it functions well enough. 


As with the men's version, this pattern was a joy to work with. It includes both A0 and print-at-home versions of the PDF files, both with layers which I really appreciate. And there's a projector file too, if that's your jam. The instructions are clear, and include photos of the steps to help you along. 

The PJs themselves have come out really well. I was working with limited fabric and I wanted to squeeze out a vest as well (using this pattern), so I had to add a centre back seam to the top. To prevent the seam allowance feeling annoying, I added a back neck facing, which gives some nice solidity to a project anyhow. 

Customisation ideas:

There are heaps of customisation options included in this pattern already, but there is a distinct lack of pockets! 

Would I make this pattern again?

I'm sure I will, now that I have downloaded it. You could get a similar look to these, however, by using a leggings or slim joggers pattern and a basic T-shirt pattern if you already had some in the correct size. I'm not sure I like the feeling on these slim fit PJ bottoms, but I might use the top of the women's pattern for myself at some point in the future. 

Sunday, 18 December 2022

Scrap Busting Apollon Sweatshirt

I can't remember precisely where the idea for this project came from, but it has served to solve two issues. The first was Mr SoZo running low on clothes, and the second was my own excess of sweatshirt scraps. In many ways, it's an extension of the scrap busting jersey T-shirts I made for him and our daughter last year. This project follows the same principles and largely the same technique. 

I was becoming aware that my collection of sweatshirt scraps was taking up a sizeable chunk of space in my fabric stash. I started out by getting all my sweatshirt scraps and remnants out and getting Mr SoZo to pick out any that particularly appealed to him. We then messed around with combinations until we had developed a pleasing colour palette. Some of the scraps came from sweatshirts I'd made for him previously, so were already within his existing wardrobe colour scheme. However, having made him the very wild scrap T-shirt that he is happy to wear, I knew I could push the combination further than many people might be comfortable with!

Here's some things I've learned about scrappy garment projects:

  • Make sure you're using a TNT pattern. You need to know that the fit will be spot on: now is not the time to try something new that may require tweaks. The pattern I used for this is the Apollon sweatshirt for men by I Am Patterns that I have used at least six times for him previously.
  • Limit your colour palette, unless you're really doubling down on the scrappy look.
  • Keeping the scraps large results in a bold look, reduces the amount potentially-annoying seams in the inside, and makes the process of piecing MUCH quicker.
  • For this project I kept an eye on the direction of the grain line of each piece, and tried to keep them vaguely in line with each other. However, with sweatshirt fabric you can probably get away with ignoring grain lines altogether.
  • Keep joining scraps until you have shapes large enough to fit your pattern pieces on. Keep your pattern pieces to hand so you can keep checking. 
  • Be aware that the additional seams create additional bulky bits inside. It doesn't bother Mr SoZo at all, but when I made a pieced sweatshirt fabric cardigan for my daughter, she refused to wear it because she found the seam allowances on the inside uncomfortable. If making tighter fitting garments, or garments for kids or sensitive folk, top stitch down the seam allowances as you go to reduce the bulk. 
  • When you have made sections large enough to fit your pattern pieces on, try flipping them 180 degrees to see which way looks best. I tried this and found the upside down version of what I'd been creating looked way cooler. 
  • If your combination of scraps is pretty bold, using one colour for any neckbands, cuffs and waistbands can create a nice 'frame' and make the whole garment look more intentional. 

If you're interested in creating something along similar lines, I hope these pointers helped. And above all, have fun!!!!! Pieced fabric garment projects are more time consuming than 'regular' sewing projects that use a length of virgin fabric, but can be so much more creatively fulfilling. 

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