True Love’s Stitch: Learning to Sew

Today’s guest Blogger, Katie Allen, is part of the Sprout Patterns team.

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Are you tired of flowers and chocolate, overpriced gifts, and store-bought cards on Valentine’s Day?  Today we bring you a heartwarming story about how meaningful a handmade gift can be.  Even if you have never sewn before, making an extra effort to create something for a loved one is easy with a Sprout Patterns project.

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Todd and Leah – the early days!

Last summer, Todd joined our Sprout team as a front-end engineer.  A man of many talents, sewing was one thing he hadn’t tried.  Until now!  As we started printing out Sprout projects, Todd decided that he would like to sew one for his wife, Leah.  Cue the “Awwww”s.

He wasn’t about to start with something easy like our Lined Zipper Pouch, either.  Leah’s birthday was coming up, and he knew she would love the Myrtle dress by Colette Patterns.  The Myrtle is a great beginner’s project because it has a simple construction, and it looks flattering in various materials and on different body shapes.
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The first challenge Todd took on was picking a design from the Spoonflower Marketplace, which is no small feat…there are so many options to decide between!  After looking at pages of designs, he finally chose Lela Ikat in Plum from Willow Lane Textiles because Leah enjoys wearing purple.  Next was choosing the perfect fabric from Spoonflower’s offerings; after consulting with the Sprout team, he decided on Silky Faille to add an elegance and drape to the cowl neck of the Myrtle. Plus, Silky Faille has amazing colorfastness and washability, ensuring many wearings of the dress in the future.

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When the fabric had been printed, it stayed in a little box with matching thread under his desk for weeks!  No matter how much we encouraged him, he was a little apprehensive about actually starting to sew.  The Engineering Department sometimes has sewing nights where we all bring snacks, sewing machines, and our current projects.  At Todd’s first one, we showed him how to thread a sewing machine and sew straight stitch lines on scrap fabric.

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The serger was even more intimidating than the sewing machine. Nicole, the product developer at Sprout, helped him navigate the ins and outs of finishing edges with a serger.  Once Todd learned the basics of sewing and serging, he began staying late into the evenings to secretly sew the dress. His story to Leah was that there was a “bug” in the code on the website that he needed to fix 😉

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After following the sewing instructions, with a bit of guidance from Nicole and I, the week of Leah’s birthday arrived and Todd finished a beautiful Myrtle. For a final finishing touch, he created a belt from the leftover fabric in his Sprout project to tie around the waistband.  The only question that remained was–would it fit?

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The weekend of Leah’s birthday, he threw a surprise party for her with family and friends, and then whisked her off to a bed and breakfast in the mountains the next day.

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When it was time to go to dinner, Todd sneakily asked Leah what dress she was going to wear. She replied, “The one I packed!” and went to get it out of her suitcase. When she walked into the room, there was the handmade Myrtle hanging in the closet.

Leah was so surprised and amazed that Todd had sewn it by himself just for her. Plus, the dress fit and looked great on her. Success!

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The happy couple today

So, if you’re thinking of making something for someone, a Sprout pattern is a great way to start.  Allow yourself a little extra time for practicing your stitching, and don’t rush your sewing!  You can use your scrap fabric to practice, or for a #sprouthack like Todd’s coordinating belt where you add your own custom detail to the pattern. If you love the dress Todd made and would like a copy to sew yourself, you can find the project on the Sprout website.

Do you need help sewing?  See if there are any sewing meetup events in your area, or ask a sewist friend for advice!  If you are near Durham, NC, Spoonflower throws a “Pins and Needles” craft night every month in our Greenhouse, and there are plenty of experts around to offer tips and tricks.

Happy Sewing!  – Katie


12509779_951623122887_894740084662195081_nKatie is an artist, an engineer for Sprout Patterns, and a developer at Spoonflower. Her latest adventure has been learning Ruby on Rails. With a background in sculpture and costuming (including having worked for visual artist Nick Cave!), if she isn’t sewing, she’s building dovetail boxes in the wood shop. She also loves hiking, contra dancing, Iyengar yoga, and mindfulness meditation.

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