Sewing for boys

Around the World Blog Hop

My sewing buddy Jenya invited me to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop. It’s a fun way to get to know each other a bit better and hopefully find some great new blogs to follow too.  I’ve invited two of my favourite international bloggers to join the blog hop – read on to see who they are. Nearest the Pin is turning one and I have to say, it’s been a blast! Starting a blog is scary – putting yourself out there is scary. Being part of a community is great though, especially when your hobby involves long periods of sitting by yourself late at night.

The blog hop challenge, involves a few questions, so read on friends.

What am I working on?

Currently I’m working on a blog re-vamp. It’s exciting, but also a challenge as I’m not the most tech savvy. Thankfully I’m getting some professional advice as left to my own devices I’d probably break the blog all together.

Other than that, I’ve been doing a lot of dreaming and planning and not a lot of actual sewing. I’m planning a few more Staple Dresses.

staple dress 1

and some spring weather sewing

soleil 1



How does my work differ from others in my genre?

I guess the main difference between Nearest the Pin and lots of other sewing blogs, is that it’s almost 50:50 between women’s sewing and kids sewing. This is not totally unique by any stretch, but it’s certainly not as common as sticking to one type or another.

Why do I write / create what I do?

Who can tell really?! I create because I love it and I think most bloggers would answer the same way. I create the things I do for many reasons – because I’ve been influenced by something I’ve seen, because I see a pattern or fabric I have to try, but basically because I can – or I want to see if I can.

Striped Blazer 2

How does the writing / creating process work?

Sometimes it’s a pattern that sparks my interest, sometimes it’s fabric. Sometimes the process is really quick – like this tunic below, that had no pre-planning. I went into the sewing room pattern in hand and looked through the stash – worked all day and finished with this (you’ve got to love how quick and easy little girl’s summer dresses are).


Other times the process is really looooong – like this jacket. I bought the dressing gown a year ago with the idea to make a jacket – it took 12 months for the idea to take proper shape and for me to decide on the right pattern.

Rigel Before & After

Photography, writing and blogging are harder for me than sewing. I’m on a learning curve and I’m determined to keep improving, particularly (ahem) the photography. I get frustrated at times that I’m not as good as I want to be, but on the other hand, I love that there is so much to learn.

And now comes the super fun part where I get to introduce you to two really fun sewing bloggers who I love to follow. Given this is an international blog hop, I decided to go well and truly international. Firstly I’m passing the blog hop over to Shino at Nutta! Shino has just moved home to her native Japan after living in the US for a few years. Her blog is great and she is about to host a Japanese Sewing Book series which will be invaluable to sewers like me who love Japanese patterns but can’t read Japanese. I thought that Nutta was a strange name for a blog, as a ‘nutter’ in Australia is a slang word for a crazy person, but it turns out that nutta is Japanese for ‘I sewed it’. Ha, so it’s actually a perfect name for a blog. Apologies Shino!!


Secondly, I’m inviting Olu of Needle and Ted to join the Blog Hop. Olu sews and blogs from London – she took on the amazing goal of making all her daughter’s clothes for a year and I think it’s fair to say she is smashing that goal! The clothes she makes are seriously amazing and her photography is fresh and interesting – you have to check out her blog if you haven’t already.


Thanks so much Jenya for inviting me to participate – a chance to reflect is always fun. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Shino and Olu soon x


Willow and Co. Hawthorn Sweatshirt

My Willow & Co. love affair is continuing. I’m not going to stop until I’ve sewn all 9 of these awesome patterns. Check out the snug and stylish Hawthorn Sweatshirt (snug as in snuggly, not tight fitting).

Hawthorn 6

Hawthorn 8

Hawthorn 1


This pattern was designed by Laura of Titchy Threads and Craftstorming. I’ve read many great reviews of her previous pattern, the Small Fry Skinny Jeans, commenting on her thorough instructions and impeccable drafting. I have to say that both are true for this pattern. Some of the techniques in this pattern are tricky – particularly getting the half zip and facings to sit neatly – but Laura’s instructions are great, she goes into plenty of detail and there are great photos.

Hawthorn 9

Hawthorn 4


As well as the half-zip version shown here there is also a full zip option. The split side seam (seen above) is also an option and is finished professionally with bias tape. The facing provides some opportunity to have some fun with the pattern – I used a blue and white stripe knit for the facing as well as for the pockets.

Hawthorn 7

This pattern is not quick to sew and certainly took me longer than I initially expected. However, the level of professionalism in the finished product is at a level that I am surprised I was able to achieve. In my opinion, it really is worth the investment of time. I’m really thrilled with the outcome and I know that the more of these I make the quicker I will get.

The only change I made to the pattern was to omit the ribbing on the sleeve cuffs – only because I couldn’t find any to match. I extended the sleeve pattern piece to what I thought was about the right length – they may be a touch too long, but good for keeping hands warm on cold days. This is the size 6, made for my newly 6 year old and I’m happy that this size will be roomy enough to get him through our current winter.

Overall: I love the overall result. I’ve leaned new techniques and pushed myself as a sewer. Each new Willow & Co pattern I sew becomes my new favourite. The Hawthorn is not a quick sew, but totally worth the investment of time in my opinion.

What about you – which Willow and Co. pattern are you sewing up next?

KCW Day 3 and 4: Something for the boy

I love sewing for boys. I’m pretty lucky that this guy is still happy to wear things that I make for him – how long this will last I don’t know, but I’m enjoying sewing for him while I can. I’ve got an up cycle and a couple of stash fabric projects to show you today. Each of these project are super easy and quick to whip up – great staple sewing.





This tee is the Recess Raglan by See Kate Sew. It’s such a great staple pattern – I’ve sewn it before here and I love it!  The stripe fabric was a thrifted womens long sleeve tee in about size 20 – giving me plenty of fabric to play with. I’m always on the hunt for striped knits – they seem to be hard to find where I live.  I added a red pocket purely because this guy loves red and including it in the garment somewhere usually increases wear about 85%.


I promise the pocket was in proportion with the t-shirt when it’s at its full length, but looking at it here I think I might need to move it up a bit 🙂

The pants are the Retro Sweatpants pattern by Elegance and Elephants. This pattern is fantastic and did I mention it’s FREE – yeh, get on over to her site and grab this pattern pronto! Navy is hard to photograph but trust me that the fit of these is great – he has room to grow and room to move, see exhibit A below:



Speaking of the lovely Heidi from Elegance and Elephants – I also whipped up one of her Stellar Vests. If you. like me, have a child who refuses to wear more than a t-shirt even on the coldest days, then I’ve found that vests are a great way to add warmth without the restriction of a jumper.


We’ve reached a compromise – he’s agreed to wear a vest and I feel better that he at least has 2 layers on 🙂 A note on this pattern: I tested this for Heidi some weeks ago and my test version came out about two sizes too big. Heidi herself had this problem with one of the versions she sewed up too. After some research, she concluded that the knit I’d used did not have an appropriate stretch % for the pattern. She wrote a post detailing stretch % in great detail and has even included a printable stretch % ruler that you can take to the fabric store to ensure you buy something that will work well for this pattern.

I will admit though, that having to find fabric with the right stretch % did put me off sewing this pattern in the beginning. Mainly because knit fabrics are not that plentiful where I live and adding that extra requirement kind of put this project in the ‘too hard’ basket for awhile. That was until one day recently when I found a womens knit long sleeve tee in this grey and white stripe in Target. The fabric fit the bill perfectly and has great recovery.


So there we have it – three new pieces for O’s wardrobe. How is your KCW coming along?

How far can you get with 1/2 a metre?

I impulse purchased some very cool ninja fabric recently from Lillestoff. I bought it with my 5yo son in mind, but I have a suspicious feeling that maybe I am more into ninjas than him…. When the fabric arrived (from Crafty Mamas), I was pretty happy to find that the fabric is 150cms wide. Now this stuff is quite pricey, including the postage it was about $25 for a 1/2 metre cut, but have you seen how awesome their prints are??!? and you are definitely paying for quality – this stuff is awesome 🙂

Given the price – I decided to see just how far a 1/2 metre piece of this luscious knit could get me. Luckily I have a few nephews as well as my son to sew for. So without any further blabbering I give you:


3 ninja t-shirts


2 pairs of shorts…..  and a partridge in a pear tree.

Pretty good hey. Just add 2 metres of chain fabric store red knit and a small amount of ribbing and you’re home.



The tee pattern is See Kate Sew’s Recess Raglan. I bought it specifically for this project, but I can see it getting lots more outings in my sewing room. I’ve used a few of Kate’s patterns now and I always find them well fitting and easy to sew. The shorts (I think pyjama bottoms is a better description) are Rae’s Big Butt Baby Pants. This pattern is for woven fabric but I just sized down to accommodate the stretch of the knit and it seems to have worked out fine.


I’m just a bit excited to have my camera back from being repaired – can you tell 🙂

A BIG thank you to my sister in law and her two gorgeous boys for hanging out with me in their new pjs today. I’ll leave you with one more super cute butt shot…..


Tutorial: Knight Hoodie to Ninja in 4 steps

Do you have a small guy or girl who would love a ninja version of the knight hoodie? Here’s how to do it in 4 easy steps.

Pattern: Knight Hoodie from Charming Doodle. I reviewed this pattern here. In this tutorial I outline the changes I made to the Knight Hoodie pattern in order to make it more ninja looking.


These instructions are to be combined with the instructions provided with the knight hoodie pattern in order to complete the hoodie.

1. Remove the helmet crest

Cut your helmet pieces as shown. You can follow the pattern directions but obviously you won’t need to pivot and clip when sewing the helmet seam.


2. Enlarge the helmet armour pattern piece.

Note – I’m Australian, so armour has a ‘u’ in it for me, as does colour and mum 🙂

To give more forehead coverage, I enlarged the pattern piece as shown below.


Attach to the hood as per the pattern instructions.

3. Remove shoulder armour piece and replace with sash.

To create the sash, cut a long strip (the length of your fabric) approximately 3 inches wide. Laying the strip over the back pattern piece, fold approximately 1/2 inch under on both sides and pin as shown. Sew down both sides of the sash using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.


To create the front sash piece, lay out the left and right front pattern pieces and lay the sash piece across both as shown and pin in place.


Cut the sash piece to separate the left and right front hoodie pieces. Before sewing be sure the check the sash alignment in these places:

1. to account for the zipper seam allowance, fold the left and right front hoodie pieces under by 1/2 inch where the zipper will go. are the sash pieces still aligned? If not, tweak the position of the sash and re-pin.

2. Check the alignment at the shoulder where the front sash and the back sash will meet. Are these pieces aligned? If not tweak the sash position and re-pin.

Once you are happy with the alignment of the front sash, sew both sides with a 1/4 seam allowance.

4. Remove kangaroo pockets and replace with side seam pockets.

Trace a side seam pocket from another pattern or from a piece of clothing that fits your child. Cut 4 pocket pieces (make sure 2 pocket pieces are reversed). Work out where you would like the pockets positioned and pin as shown below right sides together, one pocket piece on the front and one on the back. Sew along the pinned edge. Make sure the front and back pocket pieces are in alignment. Repeat on the other side.


Pin as shown below and sew the front and back pieces together, going around the pocket as you go. Repeat on the other side.


Continue on as per the Knight Hoodie instructions and you will have yourself a fabulous ninja hoodie!! Be sure to send me a photo if you make one – either by email, or tag me on instagram @nearestthepin – Good Luck!!

Pattern Tour – The Knight Hoodie goes Ninja (and a discount code)

Oscar Ninja 2

Before Christmas I pattern tested the ingenious Knight Hoodie pattern for Elizabeth over at Charming Doodle. I said then, and I still say now, that this pattern should win the award for the coolest pattern release of the year! We all know that sewing for boys presents a few more challenges than sewing for girls – fewer pattern choices and fewer fabric choices to name two. That is why I jump for joy when a great pattern comes along that both my son and I can get excited about.

As I previously made a traditional knight version of the hoodie in red here, I decided to mix it up a bit for this tour and show some of the pattern’s versatility – using a bit of imagination!! (ninja pattern pieces are not included with the pattern, however, there will be a tutorial coming here in the next few days).

Yikes, photographing black is tricky, bear with me folks! My camera is being repaired and I’m clearly not doing a great job with this borrowed one 😦



My thoughts about the Knight Hoodie:

As an intermediate sewist, I didn’t have any big problems putting the hoodie together. The instructions include big glossy colour pictures and I found them easy to follow. I have decided that I really like working with fleece – it is stretchy yet thick enough not to move around too much. My machine handled the multiple thicknesses of fleece very well. I used a ball point needle and didn’t break one which I was surprised about as it gets pretty thick in some places.

Be aware that, in my opinion, the sizing runs a little large. My son is 5.75 years old and is 120cms (47in) tall putting him near the top of the height for age chart. I sewed up a size 5 and there is plenty of room for him to grow.

Other than the generous sizing, I have nothing but good things to say. You can get very impressive results for some not very difficult sewing. Once you’ve made a knight version for all the boys and girls you know – how about a dinosaur version? animal ears? Of course, you can take all the armour pieces off too and you have a really great basic hoodie pattern.

A few tips for success:

To make your hoodie look really professional, it is important to make sure the seams where the hood joins onto the jacket and where the ribbing is attached line up on both sides of the zipper. This can be a bit tricky! I found it helpful to sew the first side of the zipper as per the instructions. When inserting the second side, I basted the zipper in place using the largest stitch length I have – this makes tweaking the position of these seams quite easy – just unpick that part of the seam and re-pin. Once you are happy, you can sew again with your normal stitch length.

Don’t be tempted to sew too close to the zipper teeth as you might on other garments. Yes this gives a very professional look, but the fleece has a habit of getting stuck in the zipper making it difficult for little hands to get the zip undone.


Want to sew you own version of the Knight Hoodie? Head over to Charming Doodle’s pattern shop here and use the discount code Nearest for $2 off the pattern during the pattern tour – thanks Elizabeth!! This pattern tour has only just begun, there will be plenty more inspiration coming your way, be sure to check Elizabeth’s blog over the coming days to see some other fantastic Knight Hoodies. There will be a tutorial here in a few days on how to turn your Knight Hoodie into a Ninja.

knight hoodie tour 725 x 247

Secret Squirrel Mission #7 Sew Along

A long long time ago…..


a brave knight of the red realm set off to rescue a damsel


It was a long and arduous mission, but he was brave and true.




After his mission was complete, he decided it was far too hot to be wearing a hoodie…… and if he really thought about it, he much rather prefers Star Wars to knights, so..


he opted for a more weather appropriate outfit and decided his new occupation would be to whack plums off the tree with a cricket stump.



and they all lived happily ever after. The End.


Wow, please excuse the length of this post – we had a bit of fun with this 🙂 This is my sew along for this months Secret Squirrel challenge which was set by Jenya back in early December. I not very eloquently explained Secret Squirrel in my last sew along post here, or you can read all about Secret Squirrel here. There are 5 ‘acorns’ of inspiration given that are to be incorporated into an outfit and this month’s acorns were:


1. St. Basil’s Cathedral 2. snowflake 3. buttons 4.Harry Connick Jnr. 5. ‘A long time ago’

So, firstly to the knight hoodie – this is the new pattern just released by Elisa of Charming Doodle. I think it hands down wins the award for coolest pattern release of the year! I was lucky enough to test this pattern for Elisa and trust me when I say, this is the first of many of these that I will be sewing up. The hoodie accounts for two acorns, ‘A long time ago’ and ‘buttons’.

Next up, I was trying to think how to tackle the ‘snowflakes’ acorn on an outfit for a boy….. hmmmm….. I came up with the ice planet Hoth from Star Wars. This is represented by the white t-shirt. The silver figure painted on the tee is one of the AT-AT fighters found on the planet Hoth.


This tee was a refashion – I changed it from long sleeve to short, changed the neckline and freezer-paper stencilled the figure.

Next I faced the Harry Connick Jnr acorn – this was quite a challenge!! As this outfit needed some pants/shorts or something to cover his bum – I took inspiration from the very cool suits that Harry is usually sporting. I wanted to recreate his slim suit pants but in a wearable form for a kid. So, I found some awesome grey-blue denim at Joy’s (no online store) and cut out the Nowhere Man pants from Shwin & Shwin. I slimmed the leg down as this pattern has a slight flare and I stuck with a size 4 to give a fitted look. I’m so happy with how these came out and I can see them getting a lot of wear.


Phew, not done yet….. I originally thought that the red of the hoodie could count for the St.Basil’s Cathedral acorn (the flag of Russia is mostly red, the Cathedral is in Russia… done), but after laying awake thinking about it, I wasn’t at all happy with this. The Cathedral looks amazing in photos and I felt I could do a much better job of this acorn. So, here is my St. Basil’s Cathedral inspired dress:


This is the Popover Sundress from Oliver & S sewn in knit. The colours of the yoke panel represent the colours of the cathedral spires. The idea for this dress came from an awesome version that I saw over on Hungie Gungie a while ago, so I can’t take the credit for it. Erin’s version is gorgeous and I’ve been wanting to make my version of it for ages.


So there you go, 4 items of clothing for 5 acorns and a very long post. I’ve loved the challenge of Secret Squirrel yet again and I think there are some wearable pieces here – win and win!

Secret Squirrel Mission #6 Sew Along

Have you been following the Secret Squirrel sewing series? It’s a really fun series where Secret Squirrel travels the world visiting sewing bloggers and giving ‘acorns’ of inspiration that are incorporated into a particular outfit. It’s being run by Sewpony and Straightgrain and you can read all about the series here. I finally got my act together to sew along for mission #6.

The inspiration for mission #6 came from Victoria of As It Seams, while Secret Squirrel visited her in the UK in November. The acorns of inspiration that Victoria has sent out are below:


1. Where the wild things are 2. Blue 3. David Bowie 4. Pocket 5. Great Britain

What a challenge!! Victoria then sent Secret Squirrel to Jenya of While She Was Sleeping and you can see the beautiful outfit that she made her daughter using these 5 acorns of inspiration here. I’ve taken the challenge to join the sew along using these same 5 acorns. Confused? Suz explains the series really well here.

My first thought when I saw these acorns was that they could possibly be used to make an outfit for a boy. So far all the Secret Squirrel contributions I’ve seen have been girl’s outfits . This little guy doesn’t feature on this blog a whole lot so I decided to dedicate this sewing adventure to making something for him. So, less chatting, lets get to the outfit…



Acorn 1 – Where the Wild Things Are. 

Hunting through my fabric stash, I found this striped knit and it immediately reminded me of a jumper that one of the Wild Things is wearing. It’s not a perfect colour match, but good enough I think. Just to make sure this symbolism was not too subtle, I freezer paper stenciled Max’s crown onto the t-shirt using gold fabric paint. I used Dana from MADE’s free Basic Tee pattern (it comes in one size only, 4-5).


The slim fit of the t-shirt leads me into Acorn 3 – David Bowie (Acorn 2 – Blue and Acorn 4 – pocket are self-explainatory if you look at the shorts!!). When I googled images of David Bowie I took inspiration from his late 70s and early 80s style. There were lots of pastel colours and boxy silhouettes in these images. I immediately thought of the Banyan shorts pattern from Figgys Patterns that I have owned for quite a while but had not sewn before. The short shorts style and the pleats give an 80s feel, which is complemented by the skinny tee, which together are hopefully channeling a David Bowie vibe!?. I sewed a size 4-5 in the shorts, however a smaller size would have given more of the short shorts look I was after.


Acorn 5 – Great Britain.

I had the outfit all planned out in my head, but I couldn’t figure how to add this acorn. I really wanted to do this acorn justice as I love the UK – I lived there for a while and might still be there if it wasn’t so damn far from my family. There was nearly a whole extra piece of clothing for this outfit, but in a last minute reprieve, I had an idea…..  I found a silk tie in Bruce tartan (my family’s tartan) which I had brought home from Scotland. It has languished in a box for a few years and I really can’t see who would ever wear it. So, I cut it up to make a pocket and I really like the contrast it gives.


Victoria, I really hope I haven’t offended Scottish people everywhere by cutting a tartan up?!?

So, here is my outfit for Secret Squirrel’s Mission #6. There are many other Secret Squirrel inspired outfits in the Flikr group if you’re interested. Of course, the Great Britain acorn lends itself perfectly to photos of O playing cricket. This is no set up – this boy is cricket obsessed.


Secret Squirrel’s Mission #7 acorns have already been set. I’m looking forward to seeing the great outfits that these new acorns will inspire.

What I may or may not be sewing this Kids Clothes Week

I constantly have a list running in my head of all the lovely things I am going to sew during Kids Clothes Week (Oct 21-27, where bloggers and sewers alike post their kids clothing sewing exploits over on the KCW site, it’s an amazing pool of inspiration and talent). Of course life does not suddenly allow me 400 hours of uninterrupted sewing time – so I barely get through a few items on my list. What the kids actually need in their wardrobes are usually staples – t-shirts, shorts and leggings in plain colours that can be mixed and matched. So, I thought it would be interesting to take the imaginary KCW sewing list out of my mind and onto the blog. I hope it will help me to narrow down the said list and maybe I can balance what I want to sew with what the kids need.

Um no, who am I kidding!

Firstly, let me introduce the little people I’m sewing for:


This is O, he’s 5 and a half. He’s a high energy kid who fills his time racing his Hot Wheels cars, playing ninjas with his friends and playing football (the Australian kind).

Here’s what I’d love to sew for him:

1. The Charlie Tee – Zonen 09


Photo c/o

From a Belgian pattern design company, this tee is a great mix of smart and comfy.

2. The Knight Hoodie from Charming Doodle


Photo c/o

It’s not a pattern unfortunately, just some lovely inspiration. Elisa has suggested that there may be a tutorial coming soon (Please, please, please!!).

3. Long Boardies Pattern by Make It Perfect


Photo c/o

Perfect for our up-coming summer but I’ve not done any research into where to find great swimwear fabrics – any suggestions?

4. DIY Graphic Tee Tutorial by Shwin & Shwin


Photo c/o

WHHHAATTT! I was more than a little excited to read Shauna’s post this week that you can buy Transfer Artist Paper, print an image onto it and transfer it onto a t-shirt. How awesome is this, apparently it doesn’t crack or fade too much. My mind is racing with the possibilities. Now to source this magical paper in Australia…


This is Miss A, she’s 2. She has her dad wrapped around her finger. She loves to paint and to jump. She clearly needs some new t-shirts as the one she is wearing above is a 6-12 month size and is quite on the short side.

1. Mara Blouse Pattern by Compagnie M


Photo c/o

What a gorgeous light and summery top with a range of sleeve and length options, from another Belgian designer.

2. Haute Hippie Crop Pattern by CarliFayeCollection


Photo c/o CarliFayeCollection

Gah, how adorable is all I can say?!? I’m not usually a fan of child dressing as adult, but I think this jacket works.

3. Ballet Sweater Pattern by Heidi and Finn


Photo c/o Heidi & Finn

Girly but not ruffly. Warm and comfy. Hmm, I’d like one in my size too!

4. Swingset Tunic and Skirt by Oliver and S


Image c/o

This image does not do justice to this cute little ensemble. I was inspired by Kristen’s gorgeous version of the skirt here.

There is more than enough inspiration for me here. Now to put my head down and see how far I can get…. I’d LOVE to sew it all but there are only so many sewing hours in a week 🙂

What are your plans for KCW? Any of these on your list?

Something for the ninja of the house

You’ve got to love a cross-functional piece of sewing. In this case pjs and/or ninja dress up. The little ninja loves them and that’s what matters, right? Being 5, his stipulations for clothing are (1) as much red as possible and (2) anything to do with star wars, ninjas or power rangers. So, we are on a winner here!


I sewed these during Summer Kids Clothes Week in July. The patterns for the cross-over top and pants are from Meg McElwee’s book Growing Up Sew Liberated. I simply added some belts made from ribbing.


The sizing was spot on for this tall and skinny 5yo (size 5). A great quick and easy project.

Cue some ninja moves…