Prorities, Perfectionism, and why I’ve Decided to Stop Blogging

I sat on the couch, overwhelmed at the end of the day and tried to figure out what a successful day looked like for me. What did I have to accomplish in order to be pleased with myself at the end of the day? I knew the  “right” answer. The one that goes, “As long as everyone’s alive and I love my kids it’s a successful day,” or, “If I just got the one thing done that I set out to do today, then it was a success.” Truthfully? I realized that I usually don’t feel successful unless I’ve blogged in the morning, made three healthy meals from scratch, exercised, studied the gospel, played one-on-one with both boys, had outdoor play, created something during naptime, and gone to bed with a clean house. Ideally I would practice piano and do a craft with the toddler as well.

Yikes! Hello, unrealistic expectations! This is part of battling perfectionism. This is why I have anxiety at the end of every. single. day (almost). I had to let something go, but as I thought about what I would give up the anxiety would get worse. I was holding so tight to all of these parts of my life, feeling like if I gave up even just one that I would be failing and losing part of myself.

The Simple Life

I started to think about simplicity, slow living, and minimalism. I am really good at cutting out unnecessary objects from my life. I am a ruthless declutter-er. Why shouldn’t this sentiment apply to activities and to-do lists as well?

This forced me to think about all the things I’ve been trying to do. Which ones are necessary? Which bring me the most joy? I realized that right now in this stage of life, blogging is not actually bringing me joy. I’ve come to a new stage in my life where it feels more like a chore.

 

Letting Go

Once I finally told myself that I would stop blogging, I knew it was the right decision. I felt free and peaceful. I even felt more relaxed about sewing.

The feeling is bittersweet because the perfectionism is telling me that if I stop blogging I’ll be wishy-washy, and my blog will be a failure before it even got started. I have so many ideas that I’ve yet to share with you, and goals I’ve yet to reach. Maybe I’ll come back at a different stage in my life and accomplish them. For now, I have to remember that for me this blog has already served its purpose.

I need to simplify my life and this is how I do it. If I really wanted to blog I think I could, but something else would have to go.

So my friends, this is it. It’s been a wonderful (if short) journey. If you need me, I’ll be sewing and snuggling and I might even Instagram my makes from time to time.

Lots of love,

Jessica

 

 

My Second Birth : Another Natural Birth in a Hospital Setting

This June we were so happy to welcome another little boy into the world! I love the crazy, empowering, and miraculous experience that is childbirth. As I look back, it’s interesting to me to see the differences between my two birth stories. You can read my first son’s birth story here.

Birth is Beautiful

It’s important to remember that all births, women, and babies are unique. Your birth story may not look like mine. Your birth may have been un-medicated or with an epidural, vaginal or C-section. The thing we share in common is that we are both mothers, and we love our babies. I truly believe that is what is most important.

Personally, I have loved going the un-medicated route with both of my boys.

Here is my second birth story:

At 5:30 I woke up with light contractions that seemed to be sort of regular, but nothing to exciting. I tried not to get too hopeful, because this had been happening off and on for a couple of days. As I woke up I realized that my water had broken.

I woke up Levi and we started to get ready to go to the hospital. We showered, packed our bag, ate breakfast, and I snuggled the toddler. All the while I was having light contractions about 6-7 minutes apart. My goal was to labor at home, but I guess I was too excited and I knew that because my water broke I would actually go into labor. We left the house about 7:00-7:30.

I always tend to feel awkward telling the front desk, “I’m in labor,” when I am clearly calm and not “hee-hooing” or whatever (so movie cliché). But, in we went and told them my water broke.

When we checked in, they confirmed that my water had broken. I didn’t go into active labor till 11:00 am, so for a while we were just kind of hanging out with occasional contractions. We watched Netflix and walked in the tiny labor and delivery wing.

Active Labor

Finally things started to progress. Since my water broke before I went into labor, they didn’t let me get into the tub, so I showered for hours to manage my intense contractions. I would stand in the hot shower, or hold Levi and sway. He would whisper encouragement to me and stroke my hair or back. At one point I switched to the bouncy ball while I was being monitored, but that was really uncomfortable. Back into the shower I went.

Eventually that evening I was dilated to about a 9.5, but the baby still had to move down quite a ways. After the doctor checked my cervix I was so tired I just decided to try laying on my side and relaxing into every contraction. The hot water in the shower was wonderful, but since I was standing or sitting I couldn’t fully relax. The contractions were really powerful at this point, but with Levi’s help I started to really relax and was managing them well.

I relaxed so well that I started to fall asleep in between contractions! The contractions started to space back out while I slept. I was so exhausted that I needed this little rest before I started pushing. Throughout the whole process I felt so much strength and power enabling me and helping me. This totally unexpected nap was one example of all the little blessings that showed me how much divine help I had during my birth.

Birthing Positions

After a while I kind of realized that I needed to be upright for gravity to help move the baby down and out. I had a really hard time pushing for my first birth, so I knew I needed to do something different. I didn’t want the sports game environment with everyone telling me what to do, when to breath, or talking loudly. I didn’t want to squat because it took so much work and energy with my first.

I decided to be leaning on the propped up hospital bed, kneeling on my hands and knees. I could lay forward and rest between contractions, but gravity was still helping the baby out. I had a wonderful doctor who was really on board with me birthing in whatever way felt right and natural to me. In between checking on me, the nurse stepped away and let my husband and I work together without interruption. If they wanted to let me know how far along I was they whispered it to Levi.

Pushing

I could push whenever I felt ready. After waiting a while, I started to feel like I wanted to kind of breath and push at the same time. I did that for a little while. The doctor double checked my cervix and had me push while he moved a lip out of the way of the babies head. I was so nervous because I didn’t want to be pushing for a whole hour, and I told the doctor.

He said, “I don’t want to rush you or get your hopes up, but when you pushed just now I felt the baby move a lot. I think you can push really effectively. ”

This helped me realize that I was in control. I was powerful and I can do this! I whispered to Levi, “I can do this!” He kept encouraging me and telling me how strong I was. He got a little choked up, and so did I. Birth was such a beautiful and unifying moment for us as a couple.

After that I pushed with each contraction, but I let myself rest as well. The contractions while I was pushing were the most painful, but I pushed past it. I thought of it as power and strength, bringing my baby into the world. We didn’t know the gender yet, but all through my birth I was thinking of my baby girl, how I was going to meet her. I was totally channeling my wonder woman and power-warrior yelling through the contractions.

The nurse called the doctor in and they were ready to catch the baby. I gave a giant push and felt something pop out and explode onto the bed. I jumped! I thought it was the baby! But it was just the rest of my water breaking.

Meeting our Baby

After a few more pushes, I felt the pressure of the baby between my legs and a huge amount of strength and urge to push. I didn’t realize that the head was out, but the doctor said, “Okay, give me a push!” And I pushed so hard that the baby fell out onto the bed. I’m not sure, but I don’t think he caught him because he wasn’t expecting it to come so fast.

Levi called out, “It’s a boy!” Which was a completely joyful surprise because during labor I had convinced myself that the baby was a girl. I turned around and layed down as fast as I could to hold my baby boy, He was perfect, and beautiful. We had to rub him to make him cry, but as soon as he got situated I put him up to my breast and he latched on and nursed easily right away. I cried with joy and relief. Birth is beautiful. Life is beautiful.

Love, Jess

How to Draft Your Own Baby or Toddler Tee Pattern (From Existing Clothes)

Here at Stitches & Sunflowers I’m all about sewing to save money. One way to do this is to make your own patterns. This tutorial will teach you how to make a tee shirt pattern for your baby or toddler. This pattern is super simple to make, so it’s a good way to start making your own patterns. Making a tee shirt pattern is very forgiving since the fabric is stretchy and the fit doesn’t have to be exact (especially for a small kid).I think you’ll find that the precision and ease it gives you when sewing multiple (or even just one!) tee shirts makes the extra step of tracing a pattern onto paper well worth it.

You’ll Need:

  • Paper. I use medical exam table paper or the extra end of a newspaper roll (which you can buy from the local newspaper). You could make do with anything.
  • A tee shirt in the size you want to make
  • A pencil and a ruler (a clear ruler is really helpful for ALL sewing projects, but especially pattern making)

First you’re going to “trace” the sleeve.
  • Lay your tee shirt out on top of a piece of paper. Make sure you are using a flat surface underneath.
  • Start at the top of where the shoulder meets the body of the shirt. Trace down the top fold of the sleeve. Do the same thing from the armpit to the hem.

+ Note: In this picture I am using a onesie, but I found that an actual tee shirt makes a more accurate pattern which is why a tee shirt is shown in the supplies above.

  • Then you’ll use a straight line to make the hem by connecting the two “corners.”
  • Connect the corners at the top of the sleeve using a curve like you normally see on sleeve patterns. You can also use my photo as a reference.

  • Fold your pattern in half perpendicular to your hem line and cut out your arm pattern on the fold (like you are cutting out a heart). This makes a sleeve pattern you don’t have to cut on a fold. Be careful to not make your sleeve too big at this point. If you’re worried about the fit, just leave the sleeve pattern the way it is and cut out the sleeves on a fold.

Next, make the body piece of the tee shirt pattern.

You do this basically the same way you made the sleeve, there are just a few more lines to trace.

  • I start by tracing the shoulder seams, the side seams, and the hem.
  • Then use your ruler to straighten out the hem and the shoulder seams
  • Connect the armpit edge and the shoulder edge with a curved line on each side, as shown.
  • Connect the neck hole edges with a curved line to make the neck hole.

If you want your front and back pieces to be identical, you can cut two from this piece. Alternatively, you can trace your front piece and change the neckline to make your back piece.

Making the Neckband:

You can make a pattern piece for your neckband if you’d like. I just like to measure and cut a strip of fabric when I’m cutting out my fabric. You find out how long to make your neckband by measuring around the neck hole with your measuring tape. Add about a half inch for seam allowance (or larger, if you prefer). I usually make neckbands for little ones between 1 and 1 1/2 inches wide.

Draft Your Own Baby or Toddler Tee Shirt Pattern / stitchesandsunflowers.com

Now, add your seam allowance.

I like to use 3/8 inch seam allowance on baby tee shirts. You can use whatever you prefer.

  • Measure and mark 3/8 inch away from your pattern line all around each curve.
  • Carefully connect the marks, making a new curved line.
  • Mark the straight lines 3/8 away from your pattern edge as well.

Your pattern is finished!

If you used any paper other than tissue paper or medical exam paper you should cut out your pattern with paper scissors before you pin it to your fabric.

Don’t let pattern-making scare you away! Try this forgiving tee shirt pattern and make some tee shirts for your baby (or any kid, really). I have a tutorial for how to sew up this tee shirt here, along with a free pattern in 12 month size. If you want to add a pocket to your tee shirt there is a tutorial here with a free pattern for older babies/toddlers.

If you are looking for a more precise way to copy patterns, I am intrigued by this technique that uses pins or this technique that uses tape.

Love, Jess

Preparing for a Gender Surprise Baby + Three Tips for Finding Gender Neutral Clothes

So far in our family we’ve enjoyed waiting until the baby is born to learn whether it is a boy or a girl. We love the excitement of the surprise and the guessing. It’s kind of special to just love the baby without yet knowing much about him or her, and it adds some extra fun to the beautiful experience of birth.

When I tell people that we are having a “gender surprise,” I get varied reactions. The conversation goes like this:

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

“Oh, it’s a surprise.”

The reactions: “Oh, how fun!” “You’re not going to find out?! How could you do that?” “I could never be that patient,” and “How will you prepare for the baby?!”

Preparing for Baby: A minimalist approach

I’ve actually found it easy to prepare for a gender surprise baby. In fact, that’s the way parents have been preparing for generations before ultrasounds were available. The key is simplicity. We’ve never had the space to go crazy decorating a nursery, or buy a lot of baby gear. In fact, we’ve never had a nursery at all. While there is plenty of gender neutral baby gear and décor on the market, I think the easiest way to prepare for a surprise baby is to eschew all of the extras and only buy what baby really needs.

These basic things are fairly easy to find in gender neutral colors, especially large baby gear such as carseats and strollers. The biggest challenge in preparing for a gender surprise is buying gender neutral baby clothes. I bought/made exclusively gender neutral newborn clothes for my babies except for one dress and bow headband that I made in case the baby was a girl.

Here are three tips that made it easy for me to find (super cute!) gender neutral baby clothes.

Tip #1 Say Yes to Neutral Colors

There are wide range of colors that are considered “appropriate” for any gender of baby. These include orange, yellow, green, and red. With this baby I have also fallen in love with the neutral colored baby clothes: grey, brown, and beige. These colors are so classic, and with the right textures and prints I don’t think they are boring.

I also started buying all of the basics in white. White is the perfect classic, match-everything color (in my opinion) for sheets, swaddles, onesies, tee shirts, burp clothes, etc.  Yes, babies stain, but I’ve found that baby stains are easily sun-bleached out of white laundry.

Tip #2 Shop Boys and Girls Sections

There is typically no “gender neutral” baby section in most stores and online shops. I have the most success when I look through both sections. I keep my eye open for neutral colors along with classic and neutral silhouettes. If I’m shopping for gender neutral clothes in the girls section, I avoid clothes with bows and lace. If I’m shopping gender neutral in the boys section, I don’t usually buy extra baggy clothes or things with huge cargo-style pockets. You get the idea.

Tip #3 Shop Small (or Sew Your Own)

While it is possible to find clothes in bigger box stores by shopping both sections, the options are still sometimes limited. My favorite gender neutral finds have been in small shops on Etsy, or other small(er) businesses such as Billie Blooms, Little Cottonwood, or Fawn & Forest. They have GORGEOUS neutral clothes.

However, the price of handmade baby clothes is really high for me to buy much that way. I do splurge on some high-quality baby items that I can’t make myself (like these booties and a sheepskin), but I prefer to sew baby clothes that fit my aesthetic. Sometimes it requires some trial and error (the bloomers above ended up being too small for my cloth-diapered baby) but I love sewing for baby while I’m pregnant! It’s possible to save a lot of money this way since baby clothes require less fabric and it’s easy to use recycled grown-up clothes.

Benefits of Shopping for a Gender Neutral Baby

Since we would love to have a big family, I am all about longevity when I buy baby gear. Even if this baby will only wear something for a few months (or weeks), I try to buy clothes and baby gear that subsequent babies can use.

Enter… gender neutral clothes! It’s so nice to know that there is a whole newborn wardrobe waiting for the next baby whether it be a boy or girl. Other perks of shopping gender neutral are the fun of finding unique baby things and the classic look of baby clothes that are not overly pink or blue. Here are some examples of gender neutral outfits for inspiration (can you tell I’m addicted to baby bloomers?).

What are your thoughts on keeping baby’s gender a surprise? Would you ever do it?

Love, Jess

DIY Baby Pocket Tee + Free Pattern

One of my first posts on this blog was my DIY baby tee made from an upcycled adult tee shirt. It’s still one of my favorites! It seems I always have an old tee shirt or scraps of knit tee shirt fabric laying around to experiment with, but it’s not always cute baby fabric (in fact, it never is!). I added a pocket to a plain baby tee and I love the result! A super cute, free, diy baby pocket tee!

Materials:

The Tutorial:

Use my DIY baby tee tutorial to learn how to sew a baby tee shirt. I added the pocket after I’d finished sewing up the tee shirt.  If you want to add a pocket to an existing tee shirt, you can do that as well.

pocket tee 1

Step one:

Cut out the pocket piece.

Step two:

Fold back the top edge of the pocket piece 1/2″ and sew the sides of that fold as shown.

pocket tee 2

pocket tee 4

Step three:

Flip the pocket right side out and top stitch across the edge of the top fold.

pocket tee 5 pocket tee 6

Step four:

Press in all the sides of the pocket 1/4″.

pocket tee 8

Step five:

Pin the pocket to the shirt and topstitch around the edges, leaving the top edge free if you want the pocket to be “functional.” Make little triangles around each corner to fortify them. I try to make sure I use the same angles and amount of stitches for the triangles on both sides so that my pocket is symmetrical.

pocket tee 9

pocket tee 10

 

Step six:

Now you can admire your beautiful work! This is such a simple way to add some interest to your homemade baby clothes.

pocket tee 12

I love the way the shirt turned out, and how it looks on L, although he stained it the first time he wore it! 🙂 Oh well… That’s what stain remover is for!

DIY Baby Pocket Tee Tutorial + Free Pattern stitchesandsunflowers.com

If you use any of my tutorials to sew something, I’d love to see it!! You can post it to my facebook page or on Instagram and tag me @stitchesandsunflowers.

Love, Jess

Added to these link parties: Project Inspired, Create Link Inspire,

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming a Mother: Baby #1 Birth Story

Lately here at Stitches and Sunflowers I’ve been sitting around waiting for false labor to turn into real labor. Since I have only baby on my brain, I thought it would be fun to share with you the birth story of my first baby. Birth is so personal, but as I was preparing for L’s birth I found it really helpful to read stories of other moms and get a healthy perspective about childbirth in our culture that fears and sensationalizes birth.

I woke up one morning feeling contractions that were small but fairly regular. For me they felt like a strong menstrual cramp that came and went in a wave. At this point they were strong enough to wake me, but not strong enough that I needed to get out of bed.

Laboring at Home

My goal was to labor at home for as long as I could.  I wanted to be able to work with my body in early labor in a place that was comfortable and familiar to me.

That evening I was still having regular contractions, but they weren’t yet five minutes apart and I was still feeling pretty normal. There was a church barbecue at the beach that night. I knew that it would be my last chance for a beach trip in a long while, so we went! It was a cloudy and slightly rainy day, so not many people were getting in the water, but I wanted to swim in the ocean before the baby was born so Levi and I got in and swam.

At the end of the party I started to notice my contractions were strong enough that I was having a hard time acting normal through them. A friend drove us home (we didn’t have a car, so we walked everywhere normally) and we started to pack for the hospital. We cleaned the house with some old seventies music playing (woo-hoo the Carpenters!) and every time I had a contraction I would stop what I was doing and sway to the music.

At around 9:00 pm we let our doula know that I was in labor, but when she came over to talk to us my contractions seemed to slow down a little, and still weren’t overwhelmingly strong. We decided to try and get some sleep. Levi did sleep a little, but I didn’t sleep much between contractions. Finally, I couldn’t handle laying down and pretending to sleep any longer, so I woke up Levi and we started the 45 minute drive to the hospital.

At the Hospital

We checked into triage at 4:00 am. The nurse asked, “How long has this been going on?” I honestly couldn’t think of a good answer as to when my labor started, so I said, “About nine months.” It’s still one of my finest moments when it comes to telling jokes.

When the nurse checked my cervix I was 6 cm. dilated and 90% effaced. The nurses were very surprised and started rushing to check me into a room.

Our hospital room had a view of the beautiful mountains of Oahu. Before getting in the tub the nurses had to check how baby was doing on the fetal monitor. When I had a contraction I would breath deeply and lean into Levi and sway. Leaning forward and letting him hug me helped me relax into the contractions.

Finally, I was finished being monitored and they let me get into the tub. The warm water helped me relax and made my contractions much more manageable. I focused on envisioning my cervix opening and relaxing my whole body into each contraction. Levi was the most amazing birth support. He supported me with gentle touch and words of encouragement. I clung to him during every contraction.

Pushing

At 9:00 am I was ready to start pushing. My midwife came in and broke my water. At this point I was so exhausted. Everyone was cheering me on and telling me to push during my contractions. I tried using the birthing bar to squat on the hospital bed, but between every contraction I laid back on the bed and stared out the window at those beautiful mountains. I just wanted to be done! I started to say, “I can’t do this, it hurts,” and the contractions became very painful as I was pushing.

I pushed for an hour. Everyone kept saying, “You’re almost there, I see the head, you’re almost there.” I thought every push would bring the baby out. The baby’s heartrate started to drop. Everything started to become mixed up and crazy in my brain. I was worried about the baby, but it all felt kind of far away as I was overcome by my contractions and efforts to push.

My midwife called in the attending doctor. When he came in I think he introduced himself, and told me he needed to use the vacuum to get the baby out as soon as possible. One more push, and with the help of the vacuum L was born.

Natural Birth

When they placed L on my chest, I was amazed at how alert, alive, and tiny he was. I felt so much love for him already. His birth was such a challenging and incredible experience. It was a beautiful time of bonding for Levi and I. It was an example of how our bodies are powerful and perfectly designed.

I wouldn’t give up my natural birth experience for the world. I think everyone’s birth choices are their own, so I wouldn’t push the decision to have a natural birth on anyone. However, I also don’t feel that I am a remarkably unique woman for giving birth naturally. I don’t have a high pain tolerance and I’m not an athlete. Birth is a healthy, incredible process and our bodies already know what to do.

What was your birth experience like? Share in the comments.

Love, Jess

Linked to: #fandayfriday and Home Sweet Home Link Party 

 

 

 

Finish Seams without a Serger: Bias Bound Seam

For those of us who don’t have access to a serger, it can be frustrating to sew professional apparel without having straggly, fraying seams after a few washes. That’s why I’m giving you tutorials for my favorite and most versatile serger-free seam finishes! So far in this series we have covered French seams, false French seamsclean finishes, and zig-zag finishes. The last seam finish I want to teach you is a bias bound seam.

Bias Bound Seam

A bias bound seam is a very professional seam finish that leaves no raw edges and can be done without a serger. You might even notice it in high quality ready-to-wear garments (Can you tell I’m a sewing nerd that likes to examine the inside of clothes?). This technique encases the seam allowance in bias binding, covering all the raw edges so that your seams are beautiful!!

Using bias binding takes some practice and patience (I’m still working on it), but it’s so worth it! Unlike the French seam, false French seam, and clean finish it can be used on curves such as the edge of a facing or the armhole seam.

Tutorial:

I recommend that you practice all seam finishes on a few scrap rectangles before you sew them onto a project. It might be a good idea to practice this one a little more if you are not familiar with using bias binding.

Step One:

Sew a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Step Two:

Trim your seam to the desired length. I chose to trim mine a little smaller, but not quite hide the seam stitches. You may choose to trim it so that you cover your stitching from the seam (an example of this is here) or you might want to keep your whole seam allowance.

Step Four:

Now you are going to attach your bias binding. Encase the raw edges of your seam with the binding, using pins to keep everything in place. You can also finish your seams separately if you need to press the seam open.

Using a stitch length of four, slowly and carefully topstitch the bias binding in place, being careful to catch the fold on the opposite side of your seam.

Step Five:

Your seam is finished! Press it to one side as directed in your pattern instructions.

If you get frustrated with this particular seam, don’t give up! Bias binding is one of the most difficult sewing techniques for me. The more I use bias binding and carefully practice, the better I become. Have patience with yourself and you will improve.

Love, Jess

 

 

Three Things I Learned About Myself During my Year as a Working Mom (and First Year Teacher)

It has been about ten months since I have written or created for this blog, but I’m back with some exciting updates!

The reason I’ve been absent for so long is that at the end of last July our plans unexpectedly changed, and I got a job as a first-year teacher. I spent this last year teaching fifth grade. As a new working mom I knew I couldn’t juggle everything, so I took a huge long break in blogging.

My other exciting news is that we are expecting baby #2 to make his or her arrival very soon! The baby’s due date is June 15th, and the gender is a surprise.

Although I took a break from blogging, my year as a working mom and a first year teacher was an immense growing experience. Here are three things I learned about myself while away from Stitches and Sunflowers.

One: I’m Still a Perfectionist

I’ve always known I am a perfectionist, this is not new! However, the hardest part of being a teacher for me is that it was never, “just a job.”  As a first year teacher, I could see my teaching was not the best. This contributed lots to me being burnt out and not enjoying my work as much as I could if I saw my own successes. The lesson for me here is to practice seeing my mistakes as opportunities to change and become better.

Two: Having a Creative Outlet is Essential for my Wellbeing

When I started teaching, I dropped all of my other hobbies. I was putting in lots of extra time at work, so I didn’t think I would have time to sew as well. I learned that sewing or having a creative outlet helps me to feel whole. As a working mom, self-care should have still been important to me. Although much more of my schedule was filled with work, I wish I would have carved out some creative time.

Three: Staying at Home is What I Want to Do!

My experience teaching was not all negative, but I realized during this year that I have a greater passion for something else. While teaching I met many working moms and I realize that staying home does not work for everyone. However, I love to stay at home with my son! Long days and weeks at home can be dreary and difficult. BUT so can a day-job. I find that as a stay at home mom I can still set goals for myself and progress personally. As moms (whatever we choose) we never need to feel that our contribution is not prestigious enough or that we are selling ourselves short. Being a mom is a wonderful and important job.

I’m excited to be back at home and back in this space!

Love, Jess

 

Finish Seams without a Serger: Sew a Neater Zig-Zag Finish

Finishing seams is a basic skill YOU can use to make your sewing professional without fancy equipment, or even a serger. This month I’m writing simple tutorials showing all my favorite ways to finish a seam without a serger.

So far in this series we’ve practiced 1) a French seam, 2) a false French seam, and 3) a clean finished seam.

Zig-Zag Finish

Today I’m sharing my take of one of the most common seam finishes: a simple zig-zag stitch.  I’ve noticed in my sewing that the zig-zag stitch can get sloppy. I’m sharing the steps I take to make sure my zig-zag stich stays neat. Although this finish is not as polished as the others I’ve shared, it comes in handy on curved seams such as an armhole or crotch seam.

The Tutorial

As with all new sewing techniques, I recommend practicing on scrap fabric before applying it to your garment. The extra step may take up some time, but it is worth it if it prevents mistakes later on (trust me, I know!).

Step one:

Sew a seam with a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Finish Seams without a Serger: How to Sew a Neater Zig-Zag Finish stitchesandsunflowers.com

Step two:

Line up the left edge of your presser foot with the seam and sew your zig-zag stitch.

Finish Seams without a Serger: How to Sew a Neater Zig-Zag Finish stitchesandsunflowers.com

Step three:

Trim the edge of the seam allowance as close as you can to the zig-zag stitch. Be careful not to cut into your stitches!

Finish Seams without a Serger: How to Sew a Neater Zig-Zag Finish stitchesandsunflowers.com

This one is so simple, it only takes three steps! The most important step is to line up the presser foot with SOMETHING when you sew the zig-zag stitches, so that seam isn’t swerving all over the place. Trimming the seam really helps it to look neater and leaves less fabric to fray.

How to Sew a Neater Zig-Zag Finish (a part of the "Finish Seams without a Serger" series) stitchesandsunflowers.com

+ A nice twist to this finishing technique is to press the seam open first and zig-zag the seam allowances separately so the seam can lay flat when it is finished.

Love, Jess