In a Galaxy not so far away…

Today’s guest blogger is Allison Bowles, the patternmaker behind Artemis Clothing Co. and a pajama-maker extraordinaire. Her blog post is all about using Adobe Illustrator to create a repeating design for her Ezra pajamas, using outer space as her inspiration.


If you are like me, you love getting crafty when it comes to gifting. Sprout Patterns takes my gift crafting to the next level by letting me customize projects with my own prints so it’s super personal and I know it’s something that my friends will love.  My friend Jacob loves all things space; he is always telling me the latest stories in space exploration. I felt especially inspired by the recent Perseid meteor shower, so space it was for the design!

I typically use Adobe Illustrator to create my prints because I find it very versatile.  So for this tutorial, I’ll be using Illustrator to create my surface print.

The very first thing I do when I am making a repeating pattern in Illustrator is to find some inspiration photos. Since I was making space themed Ezra shorts I needed to find a great space motif for my pattern repeat. This photo of all the planets was my reference point and Saturn’s colorful rings were my inspiration for the color palette.

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When using Illustrator, I first need to prepare my workspace.  Once the program is open, I create an artboard that is exact size that I want my repeat to be.  I am going to start with a 5” x 5” square and make adjustments as needed as I go.  I also want to pull in my inspiration photos to the workspace so I can see everything around the artboard.

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Next, I need a color palette.  I love the bright blues and pinks in this photo of Saturn’s rings and I think it would be a wonderful color palette for the Ezra shorts.  To make the palette I need to select the color palette icon on the right toolbar.  Then I create a new color group by selecting the folder icon at the bottom of the color palette window.  I can use the eyedropper tool to select colors directly from my color inspiration photo and add to the color group.  Here I’ve selected a range of blues and greens from the photo as well as a few of the pinks for some color pops.

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After I have a color palette I can begin drawing the motifs, which in this case is going to be each of the planets in the solar system.  For each planet I’m using a combination of the shapes tools and the pen tools to create a very basic outline of each planet.

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After I’ve outlined all of the planets that I want to use, I can add color from my color palette using the color fill tool, which is the paint bucket icon on the left tool bar.  I want to make sure that I stick to colors that I have selected from the color group so that everything looks cohesive.

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Now that I have a bunch of planets drawn I can begin to place them in my 5” by 5” artboard to create the pattern repeat.  First I want to give the repeat a background color by creating a 5” x 5” square right on top of my arboard.  Since I’m working with an outer space theme I am going to choose a dark color for my background.  I think this dark, slightly-navy gray will really make the bright planets pop really well.

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Now I can move the planets around on the artboard so that they are spaced out well and fill up enough space in the repeat. I like the way these are positioned, but I still have a lot of negative space that needs to be filled.

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I’m going to fill some of that negative space by creating small starbursts to put in the background.  I think the starburst shape will contrast nicely with the larger planets. I’ve placed just a few in the largest voids since I don’t want to over do it.

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Once I have all  of my motifs placed the way I like I’m ready to use the pattern tool.  This is a very powerful tool in the newer versions of illustrator that allows me to put my motif in different types of repeats very quickly and easily.  You can find the pattern tool in the options tab of the top toolbar.  Scroll over the pattern option and select “Make.”

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I love that this tool allows me to preview all kinds of repeat tiling before I have to commit to one.  I can even adjust each element while I am working in the pattern repeat.  So if I decide I need to slide one of the planets over a little or change a color I can do that in this window and see the total effect it has on the repeated pattern.  I am going to select “brick by column” from the tile type drop down menu, as I think a ⅔ repeat offset works well for this pattern.

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Once I have selected the tiling that I like best I simply close the window and Illustrator automatically adds the repeat to my swatch palette. As a final step, I want to check the new swatch for any repeat errors, like pixel lines or shapes that have been cut off, so I am going to create a large square and fill it with my swatch.

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I can see from the pattern fill that everything looks good, so now I am ready to prepare the repeat to upload to Spoonflower. Since I changed the tiling of my repeat with the pattern tool, I need to use the new swatch tile instead of the original repeat that I was working with before.  I can easily do this by dragging the new swatch out of the swatch palette into the workspace.

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Now that I have the new repeat in my workspace, I want to create a new artboard that is the exact same dimension as the rectangle that surrounds my repeat.  Then, I am going to add the background color back in the same way that I did in the original repeat pattern.

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Ok, I am ready to export this new repeat pattern. Keep in mind as you work, that Spoonflower accepts JPG, TIFF, GIF, or PNG files. I want to make sure the “use artboards” option is checked at the bottom of the dialogue box so that the artboard that I set up as my repeat creates the boundary for the repeat tile.

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Now that I have a JPG repeat that I can upload into my Spoonflower design library.

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Once the file is uploaded into my Spoonflower design library, I can select the repeat in the Sprout design palette for my Ezra shorts.

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The coolest thing about making a Sprout project is the 3D simulation of my garment.   I can see exactly what my print will look like on the Ezra shorts before it is ever printed!  I think it looks pretty good!

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I love the way the planet pattern looks printed on Kona cotton!  The colors looks great!

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Sewing the Ezra shorts was so easy, just stitch up a few seams, hem, and throw in a drawstring.

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I even used one of my Artemis tapes as the drawstring for an extra special touch.

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There you go! Here’s Jacob lounging around on campus in his new pair of Ezra shorts! Looking good, Jacob!


artemis_headshot.jpgAllison Bowles is a graduate of North Carolina State University College of Textiles, where she is currently finishing up her Master’s degree studying zero­ waste garment design. She founded Artemis Clothing Co. in 2014 after working in the textile industry for several years and realizing that she wanted to focus on locally ­made sustainable clothing.

Allison Bowles is a graduate of North Carolina State University College of Textiles, where she is currently finishing up her Master’s degree studying zero­ waste garment design. She founded Artemis Clothing Co. in 2014 after working in the textile industry for several years and realizing that she wanted to focus on locally ­made sustainable clothing.Extra-photo-5.jpgSave

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You Had Me at Honey: Halloween at Sprout

Today’s blogger is Nicole, Sprout’s Product Development Manager. Halloween is one of her favorite holidays, as you can see in the photo below. 😉


As far as I am concerned, Halloween is the best holiday of the year. It’s the one day where there are no restrictions to what you can be, dreamers rule and the sky’s the limit. Plus, you get to watch scary movies while stuffing your face with candy. OBVIOUSLY, the BEST holiday. And here at Sprout, Halloween opens up a world of endless costume possibilities!

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Most people flock to their local party shop in search of the latest in sexy costumes during the month of October. Not me, I would much rather create something original and more importantly, that is work appropriate. For someone who has several DIY costumes under her belt, making a Halloween costume through Sprout this year was an obvious choice. Though nothing will ever compare to the rainbow glitter unicorn costume that I wore last year…..

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Since I already had clocked SERIOUS hours of mocking up projects, I couldn’t resist making a bee costume using our fun Vanessa wing pattern from Mainsail Studio and the Inari Tee Dress from Named Clothing. These wings are really perfect for playing year round and now I basically want a pair for every kid I know.

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I wasn’t really feeling the Madame Butterfly look at the moment, which is when I had a stroke of brilliance and thought…BEES. Bees have wings! Plus our amazing city of Durham, NC was officially certified as a Bee City USA this year. Basically we are obsessed with bees. Save the bees, y’all!

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The Inari Tee Dress’s cocoon shape is perfect for showcasing the honey bee’s stripes. I paired the dress with the Vanessa Wings in a size Medium – a great size for a kid and a great size for some little bumble bee wings. I found awesome repeat designs of dragonfly wings on the Spoonflower marketplace, which I used on shiny satin.

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The dress was very straight forward to put together (shout out to Named Clothing for having incredible patterns and instructions!). A tip for Silky Faille and stripe matching: if you are attempting to match stripes, I highly recommend basting or using wonder tape along those side seams before sewing the garment up. Silky Faille can be slippery and will slide your matching skills right into the garbage.

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Because the Vanessa wings are made to attach to your wrist for a massive incredible amazing wing flappin time, I had to rethink how I was going to create them for this costume, as there is no way that any adult arms were going to attach to those little babies. I ended up utilizing some aluminum, very bendable, jewelry wire and hand stitched it along side the outer edge of the wing pieces using the fleece interfacing as a backing.

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This is by no means the best method of adding more structure to the wings, but it was the best idea that I had at the time so I just winged it ;). This method proved to work decently well, although turning the wings right side out was the biggest pain. After sewing the center piece to the wings, I decided to add an additional piece of black elastic to connect the wings together and add stability. It worked perfectly.

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As news spread about the fantastic bee making going down in the Sprout room, the requests started pouring in from fellow employees dying to rock the bee look. Honey, please. No really, please bring honey – Julie did, so she won the modeling gig.

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We drove over to Perkins Orchard, the largest and oldest fruit stand in Durham, to stock up on sweet natural goodies, grab pumpkins for our desks, and to let the bee out in her natural environment. Side note: if you’re local and haven’t been to this place yet, go! It’s full of fresh, local produce and other affordable goodies.

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Julie really embraced the Queen Bee life and upped her supply of honey at the same time. I like to call that a costume success.

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Trying to recreate this look on your own? Don’t have time to sew? Order with our White Glove Service and we will sew it up for you. YAS QUEEN BEE! (Wire not included.) Which brings me to my next costume…add a crown to this look and channel the queen bee of lemonade. If you think Julie is as cute as we do and wanna see more pix of her, head over to our Flickr album. ;o)

Need more costume inspiration? Don’t worry, I GOT YOU.

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Use the Kielo Dress and this makeup tutorial to become the most beautiful giraffe in the Savannah. Or be a deer with this makeup and antlers tutorial and pair it with a deer hide Moneta.

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Start the babe’s fandom early with a baseball romper and a matching lil baseball cap to match. Take it up a notch and have your little one SIT IN A BASEBALL MIT! The cuteness…it’s just too much…can’t handle it.

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If you have a young honey lover in the family who isn’t into bees, you can make a furry hoodie and even create ears with your extra fabric to attach to the hood! Add a faux fur trim and a trick or treat bag made out of honey fabric and voila! Hello baby bear!

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The ideas don’t stop there y’all. I’m like a treasure trove of Halloween Sprout inspiration, don’t worry. How cute would my baby niece look as a lil watermelon?!

pop.jpgLike punny costumes? Why not pair this popcorn shirt with a cute movie theater bucket skirt? Popcornception. What time is the movie? When will these previews ever end??  HAHAHAHA!

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And finally, we can’t leave out your little furry friends. Don’t they deserve to dress up for Halloween too? I am dreaming about making the littlest Aaron wings for my cat so that I can be the MOTHER OF DRAGONS, but until then I did create the perfect pizza princess costume for the pup in our house. The happiest pup, decked out in her favorite food for everyone’s favorite time of year.

Now let all of this beauty and inspiration settle into your minds and…get SPROUTIN’! The only question is, WHAT WILL YOU BE??


nic.jpgNicole has a background in fashion development and design and a passion for businesses that do good, which has taken her to places like Uganda, Pakistan, and now Durham, NC. She is thrilled to be working to empower indie pattern makers through Sprout! In her spare time, you can either find Nicole in her home studio creating with her kitten by her side or exploring new places around town and abroad. She loves live music, Asian cuisine, and laughing.

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Matching for Grownups, featuring Sprout Patterns

What’s the secret to dressing your man for a special occasion? Guest blogger Gina seems to have figured it out! Read below to get her scoop on matching your date in an elegant and modern way.


Working at Spoonflower has turned me into someone not unlike Miss Frizzle – I tend to want to dress to match the occasion, especially if there’s a theme involved. This gets complicated at events like weddings, where I have a date to drag along that I’m supposed to match. My tendency toward cats and space and llamas makes it kind of hard for a guy to wear a dignified bow tie and look like he belongs with me simultaneously. But I’m here to tell you, it’s totally possible to make yourself a unique dress and coordinate with your man, with only minor complaining on his part, thanks to Sprout Patterns.

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I’d been looking forward to my friend and fellow Spoonflower team member Jennifer’s wedding for months. (You can read her post about DIY bridesmaid gifts with Sprout Patterns here!) She chose a beautiful mountainous venue in Asheville, NC, so naturally – see what I did there – I wanted to make a nature-inspired dress to wear!

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Look at all of the nature, y’all!

I also decided that since this is the first and only wedding of the year that neither my boyfriend, Kenton, or I are in, it would be the perfect opportunity to make him something to wear, too. I’ve been dying to try a bow tie for awhile now, and the Jaxon Bow Tie by Natty Neckware seemed pretty achievable.

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My half of the equation was simple: I’m in LOVE with the Kielo Wrap Dress from Named Clothing because I made myself one to wear on my birthday this year and got a million compliments. I decided that a shortened version would be perfect for Jennifer’s wedding, and picked out a sweet wood and leaf inspired design by Ottomanbrim. I chose Performance Pique for my base fabric, and this dress is the comfiest. Seriously, go make one immediately. And then make ten more, because it’s a really quick project.

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Just a little matchy-matchy 😉

So, here’s where it gets complicated. Kenton is very picky about his bow ties, so he was somewhat apprehensive about letting me choose his outfit for the day. He initially wanted me to make him a Doctor Who themed bow tie, which I vetoed immediately. When I finally settled on a design I deemed worthy, I excitedly called him to let him know. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “So, I picked out your bow tie design today! I think you’re going to like it a lot.”

Kenton: “Yeah? What is it?”

Me: “It’s cool! It’s a wood grain design!”

Kenton: “… it’s not like, camouflage is it?”

He has no faith in me whatsoever.

However, when he finally saw what I picked, he admitted the design, Beached Drift Wood Woodgrain by Joan McLemore, was pretty cool. It also went really well with the design I chose for my dress (though he was definitely glad I did not make his bow tie out of the same thing.)

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The Jaxon was a surprisingly quick project! I did skip adding the adjustable section because Kenton knew what size he needed, which made finishing the bow tie even easier.

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And, he looked pretty darn dapper, IMHO.

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Adorable matching couple outfits achieved!

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I also had enough extra printed fabric to make our new pup Riley a bow tie, too! He didn’t argue with me about the design at all. What a good boy.

Riley.jpgRiley doesn’t really hold still, so this is the best evidence I could capture of his affection for his new bow tie.

If you want to make your pooch a bow to match your fella too, here’s the tutorial I used! Just add a smaller piece of elastic to the bow to fit around a collar.

The moral of this story? Make yourself a Kielo dress, and make your man a Jaxon bow tie. He will love it. Or, if he loves you, he’ll at least wear it with only minor complaining. Don’t listen to him if he says otherwise.

Oh, and adopt a dog, because they will gladly wear anything you put on them.


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Gina is a printer operator at Spoonflower (or as she likes to call her position, “Slayer of Ink Beasts”) and a summer intern with Sprout. When she’s not having audible conversations with machinery, she can be found sharing facts about pigeons or Wonder Woman or old buildings with anyone who will listen. Her hobbies include fabric hoarding, wrestling her sewing projects away from her poly-dactyl cat Oz, dressing her new pup Riley, and aimlessly wandering with coffee in one hand and her Polaroid in the other.

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Lucy Pajamas + Eye Mask = Heaven

Today’s guest blogger is Allison Bowles, the patternmaker behind Artemis Clothing Co. and pajama-maker extraordinaire. We’re loving her tutorial for using the extra fabric from your Lucy Pajamas to create a cute eye mask!


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I feel like you can never have too many pajama bottoms, so I was very excited to sew up my latest pattern – the Lucy Pajama Pants.  I wanted something fresh and spring-like to remind me of warmer weather when it gets chilly, so I chose a beautiful floral print called Oriental Blooms by Scrummy. Spoonflower’s Kona® is a great apparel weight fabric that is super breathable and easy to wear, so choosing a fabric was easy for me.

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The Lucy Pajamas are so comfy and perfect for lounging around the house, and I can also wear them on errands when my fur baby needs an emergency snack!

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I realized after I was done with the pajamas that I had leftover fabric that was just begging to become a second project.  I thought that an eye mask would be the perfect matching sleep accessory to my Lucy pajamas.  It was super easy and quick to sew and it makes a great sleep set!

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Here is how I made my eye mask and what you’ll need:

  1. Scrap fabric from your Lucy pajamas
  2. Satin lining (I chose a dark color to block as much light as possible)
  3. 21” piece of piping
  4. ¼” thick elastic cut to whatever length you need to wrap comfortably around your head (mine was 15” long)
  5. Eye mask pattern (like this free one from BurdaStyle.com)
  6. Scissors
  7. Pins

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Start by cutting one eye mask piece from your scrap fabric and one eye mask piece from the satin fabric.  The patterned piece will face the outside and the satin will be the part of the mask that touches your face.  That’s why I chose Satin as the backing; it’s super gentle on my skin, but Spoonflower’s Fleece or Minky would probably also be just as comfortable.

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Next, using a zipper presser foot, sew the piping around the perimeter of the printed eye mask piece so that the raw edge of the piping lines up with the edge of the fabric.  The zipper foot should press right up against the round part of the piping.

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After you have stitched the piping all the way around the perimeter of the mask, snip the edge of the piping (NOT the actual eye mask fabric) up to, but not through, the stitch line. This will help the piping bend around the curves of the mask and lie flat. Attach the elastic to the patterned piece on each side of the mask, making sure the edge of the elastic lines up with the edge of the mask.

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Now it’s time to sew the two eye mask pieces together.  Place the two eye mask pieces together face to face so that the shiny side of the satin faces the printed side of the patterned piece.  The piping and the elastic should be sandwiched between the two pieces.  Pin the pieces in place along the edge.

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Using the zipper foot again, push the foot right up against the piping that is in between the fabric and stitch around the mask.  Leave an unstitched gap at the top of the piece so that the mask can be turned right side out.  Clip the seam allowance up to, but not through, the stitch line.

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When you turn the mask right side out you should see the piping along the edge of the mask and the elastic should be secured in the seam you just made. Press the mask so that it lies flat. There will be a large hole at the top of the mask that you will need to close up.  The satin fabric at the hole should be pressed so that the seam allowance is folded to the inside of the mask.

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I’ve got a little trick to close up that hole so that the stitch line isn’t visible on the front of the mask.  Make sure the folded edge of the satin back is overlapping the piping just a little bit.  Now we want to topstitch the hole shut from the front of the mask so that the stitch catches the folded satin edge on the back.

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If you stitch right against the edge of the patterned fabric on the piping, then the stitch should be undetectable from the front.  It’s a little tricky (you can see below where I missed a little bit) so if you have trouble, feel free to topstitch directly on the patterned fabric instead of the piping so that you can catch more of the satin edge on the back.

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Voila!  Now you have a sleeping eye mask to match your Lucy Pajamas!  Now go make a pair of your own and Sweet Dreams!

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Allison Bowles is a graduate of North Carolina State University College of Textiles, where she is currently finishing up her Master’s degree studying zero­ waste garment design. She founded Artemis Clothing Co. in 2014 after working in the textile industry for several years and realizing that she wanted to focus on locally ­made sustainable clothing.

 

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Sprout Sewing Resources

Sometimes you need a helping hand to start or get through a sewing project—we’ve all been there! So we’ve put together a resources page with sewalongs, tips and tricks and even videos to help you make your next Sprout project great!

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We have sewalongs from our Patternmakers

Grainline.jpgHaving a visual guide when sewing (otherwise known as a sewalong) can be invaluable and boost your confidence!

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Tips and Tricks to help your project be the best ever

Sewing should be FUN, not frustrating! We hope that the resources we’ve compiled will help you feel the same way, sharpen up your stitching game and eventually allow you to create a handmade wardrobe for yourself and your family!

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If you know of any resources that we’ve missed, or have suggestions for topics that we could include, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line and share!

Recommended Needles and Threads for Sprout Fabrics

Getting the right notions together for your Sprout sewing project can be confusing at times, so our friends at Spoonflower came up with a handy chart to help out!

Also, check the links below for more tips and tricks to make your best project ever.

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If you need a quick conversion on stitches per inch to the settings on your machine, here they are:

Stitches/Inch………………..Stitch Length Setting

5 ………………………..….. 5.0

6 ……………………………. 4.5

7 ………………………..….. 4.0

8 ……………………..…….. 3.5

9 ………………………..….. 3.0

11 ………………………..…. 2.5

14 ………………………..… 2.0

19 …………………………… 1.5

28 …………….………….… 1.0