Beginner Sewing Series with New Horizons Designs: 10 Tools for the Seamstress Tool Kit

Hey there, and welcome to another edition of the Beginner Sewing Series from New Horizons Designs! Today I’d like to chat about some of our much-used tools. To ensure that I didn’t go overboard (baby registry, anyone??), I went straight to my sewing table and picked up the items that I use each day as I sit down to sew.

Let’s get started!!…

  1. Cutting Tools

NH Tutorial 1

For a seamstress, a good pair of fabric scissors is a must. I don’t have any fancy pairs, but I make sure that mine are sharp and are only used for fabric. I grabbed all three of these with big (50-60% off) coupons from Jo-Anns. So, what are the differences?

  • The orange pair is my main pair for cutting out my garment pieces.
  • The circular blade is a rotary cutter. It is extremely sharp and can be used to also cut out patterns; it curves and produces a nice straight edge. I like how close to my pattern pieces the rotary cutter can get. But since I don’t always keep my cutting mat handy (eep–I forgot a tool–you’ll need that too!), I generally grab my orange Fiskars.
  • The small pink pair is what I use for detail like cutting threads and make precise cuts. When I first started sewing, I wasn’t happy that I could still see threads hanging off of garments a bit. It was hard for me to snip them close to the last stitch; this little guy was the key!

2. Thread

NH Tutorial 2

Because I go through so much thread, I generally just buy cones; but whether you grab spools or cones, you’ll need thread! 100% Polyester thread is suitable for most sewing projects, especially knit garments. It’s durable, and you can find thread both in most craft stores and online.

3.  Chopstick

NH Tutorial 3

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “There’s something here that doesn’t belong.” But I assure you–I went to my sewing space, and there it was! And I actually use it for loads of projects (not eating-related). Chopsticks are excellent for poking corners of lined garments and other projects (blankets etc.).

4. Basic Needles

NH Tutorial 4

Where would we be without our needles? When sewing your project, you’ll want to first consider your fabric. Woven is typically a non-stretch fabric, and Knit typically has stretch. Each fabric, though, will differ in both weight (i.e. how thick the fabric is or how much it weighs) and how stretchy the fabric is. If you are sewing a non-stretch woven fabric, you can use regular universal needles, and you’ll have to find what “size” of needle based on the thickness of your fabric. We’d use a larger needle for leather, for example, and a smaller needle for lightweight curtains.

In general, the blue size (90/14) works for most of my projects. The pack of needles shown here are called ball-point needles. Unlike universal needles, these are made for knits (stretch) and have a more rounded/ball tip. If you are sewing knits, you will need ball-point needles.

Although you can get these at most shops, my go-to place to order needles is Singer Online. The employees are great to work with, and the shipping is FREE on all orders (umm…yes please!).

5. Double Needle

NH Tutorial 9

If you don’t have a coverstitch machine, a double needle is a great tool. If you look at the bottom hem (or sleeve hem) of the clothes you have on, you will likely see two rows of stitches). These rows are intertwined on the backside of the garment, allowing it to stretch. Double needles are inexpensive and help hemlines look professional while being quite sturdy.

I bought a few named-brand double needles from the face-to-face large craft stores, and I had several break quickly after the first use. So I ventured out and found these ones, and I’ve had very good luck with them. My stitches don’t skip (unless my machine needs a little coconut oil), and I have consistent hemlines. Many complain about hemming brushed poly with a double needle, and I use these ones daily on brushed poly. They do, though, ship from overseas–so you have to be willing to wait.

There are several online videos about how to use a double needle. You really just thread it like your regular needle, using one extra spool of thread. Or in my case, I use a bobbin of thread along with my cone to thread my needle. This brings me to the next tool…

6. Bobbins

NH Tutorial 5

I should probably buy stock in bobbins  I started with a few…and then bought 20 thinking that I was stocked for life…and then 20 more… I love bobbins because it makes stitching the double-needle hem very easy. I take my spool color, fill a bobbin with it, and viola!–I have my thread ready for my hem or topstitching (bobbin + spool). I usually use the same color for my bobbin that creates the stitches beneath, as well but if it’s different and a neutral, sometimes I leave it. But I’ll advise you to be consistent with all three colors 

I also order my bobbins through Singer Online (linked in #4). Their crew was extremely helpful when I was trying to figure out a bobbin issue. Many of the clear bobbins, sold a Singer in the main craft stores had square openings on the bobbin rather than circular. My thread started becoming a crazy, tangled mess, and I couldn’t figure out why. I ordered the “real Singer” (imprinted with Singer) with circular openings, and the issue was resolved immediately. Oh…and they were the same cost as the others–phew!

7. Seam Ripper

NH Tutorial 6

The avid seamstresses reading this will be breathing a big sigh of relief… “Thank God she didn’t forget the seam ripper!!” It’s true…this baby will become your friend. If you accidentally stitch where you shouldn’t, you use this tool to “erase” the dreaded error.

You’ll use your seam ripper with the ball part up, and you’ll guide your stitch to the center curve, which is the sharpest part of the seam ripper.

8. Glue Stick

NH Tutorial 7

I should have included regular scissors in my scissor photo…but never should paper scissors and fabric scissors be together  Paper scissors and glue sticks (or tape) will come in handy when assembling your PDF patterns. This is part of the sewing process that I wish would magically just do itself, but glue sticks does make the job much easier!

Another way I use glue sticks often is for pocket placement or other item that is hard to pin to my fabric accurately. There are actual glue sticks that are fabric safe, but I haven’t had any issues using my regular ole gluesticks. I simply swipe a small amount on the corners of my pocket, press to my garment where it should be, and stitching is much easier!

9. Pins and Clips

NH Tutorial 8

Many seamstresses have strong opinions about whether they like clips or pins better for their projects; although I like them both for different projects, pins are my go-to. Either way, these tools help assure accuracy when we’re sewing. We first pin the shoulder seams of our garment or pin down the sides of a dress or the sides of a legging, making sure that they evenly meet at both top and bottom. We pin our neckbands to the neck opening. We use these beloved tools daily! In fact, maybe I should print the picture above and frame it near my sewing space; those little guys deserve it!

10. Iron (preferably with steam)

NH Tutorial 10

You’ll of course need your ironing board too, but keep an iron right next to your sewing machine. This will become your best friend after each row of stitches. It might seam like a hassle to jump up and press everything nicely before continuing to the next step–but take it from me (who learned the hard way)–it’s a must!…and so worth it!

  • Have a bunched or wavy neckband? Steam and press that baby!
  • Have a bottom band of a sweatshirt that went on tight and created some puckers? Steam and press that baby!
  • Have a sleeve opening (armscye) that isn’t lying flat? Steam and press that baby!

An iron is a magical tool.

That wraps up our 10 must-have tools! Thanks so much for hanging out with me today to learn about some of these great tools. Happy shopping as you gather your supplies, and be sure to reach out to the New Horizons team with your tool questions; we have a great crowd that can surely help. And be sure to check out the rest of the Beginners’ Series posts on the New Horizons Designs Blog.

Happy tool hunting!




Lesley Flutter: On-Trend Creations

Last fall, I sewed up this version of the Lesley Flutter Sleeve and was in love with the free-flowing arms while still having a great fit throughout the torso.

Skinnies Jeans 4


Today I’ll be sharing a few versions of the Seamingly Smitten Lesley in this season’s on-trend prints as well as tips and tricks for the best Flutter sewing experience!


First — meet Lesley in brushed poly elephants. Both brushed poly and elephants are on-trend. Even in summer, with the correct drape, brushed poly feels heavenly (and not too hot). You can see how the sleeves cascade down the body, yet they don’t actually have such a major arm opening. This is a unique feature of the pattern; it is both sewn from the inside and outside (we’ll get more to that below).

Elephant Flutter Sleeve Top


The second way to style the Lesley is with both a solid and a pattern. The top has just one pattern piece for both front and back, allowing you to really play with fabrics! You could style with lace, solid (brushed poly, rayon spandex, bamboo lycra, etc.). Here, I’ve used a trendy stained glass brushed poly and solid mustard brushed poly. The shirt is reversible (just don’t add a tag), so you can wear it loud/printed or soft/solid depending on your mood. It’s also a great way to subdue busy prints.


Lastly, here’s our third on-trend Lesley in vertical stripes. The double brushed poly I used had enough stretch either way to really make this work. Additionally, this particular pattern doesn’t require too much stretch. So, although the stretch was best with horizontal stripes, I chose to go vertical!

Tips and Tricks

Hemming the Lesley – A great deal of the Lesley construction is hemming (neckline, full side sleeves, and bottom). The pattern calls for a double-roll method, where you’ll fold under and under once more. This is the cleanest finish, and I’d recommend using a double needle, stretch stitch (like zigzag), or coverstitch to finish your hems on knit garments. Alternatively, you can also serge the full ends and fold under just once if you don’t mind the inside serged edges showing a bit within the flowy sleeve.


WARNING: The last step says to sew the garment RIGHT SIDE OUT…and it’s correct!

Lesley Flutter Tutorial 2

After you’ve sewn the complete garment, there is one final step. The instructions say to turn the garment right-side-out and stitch up from the side seam. This is correct and you’re not reading it wrong! It’s very rare in the sewing world to stitch a garment seam from the right side; but this is what creates your beautiful flutter while preventing too wide of a sleeve opening. If you’ve made this mistake already, you’re not alone! I’ve had to grab my seam ripper a time or two 😁


So there you go! Find your perfect fabric (what speaks to you), and sew your first (or maybe 10th!!) Lesley Flutter Sleeve Top. When you’ve finished, use the hashtag #LesleyFlutter, and be sure to share in the Seamingly Smitten Facebook Group; I want to see what you sewed up!

Flutter Sleeve Collage


All on-trend printed fabrics in this post are from Love Adore Knits. The owner of Love Adore passed away, and the Love Adore team is in a short period of transition. They will be back shortly to continue Kimberly’s vision and to serve an amazing sewing community! You can join their Facebook page for updates.



Blog Tour: Swimwear Edition Featuring Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop’s Marilyn Swimsuit

Wren Marilyn Swimsuit TOUR 1   Wren Marilyn Swimsuit TOUR 2

Welcome to the Lulu & Celeste + Sprouting Jujube Productions tour: Swimsuit Edition; I’m so happy you’re here! Maybe it means that you’re about ready to dive into swimsuit-making for your kids or even you! Or maybe you’re just here for the prizes 😜 Either way, read on! Today I’ll be featuring the Marilyn Vintage Swimsuit by Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop, for sizes 3 mos – 12 yrs. Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop graciously provided this pattern for free for the swim edition.


First–a little background on my daughter. She’s never been on the growth chart–not even in the 1% for kids her age. She’s a tiny little thing who needs a mama’s custom fit. So after last year’s saggy-bottom suits where I could literally see her behind, I thought, “that’s it–it’ll be mama-made from here on out!” So here we are! When browsing patterns, I knew I wanted a one-piece, and I happen to have a soft spot for vintage. When I saw that the Marilyn suit offered a shorts style with easy bands, that sealed the deal!




  • View A: Classic One-Piece
  • View B: Classic Tankini
  • View C: Color-Blocked One-Piece
  • View D: Color-Blocked Tankini
  • View E: Ruched One-Piece
  • View F: Ruched Tankini

In addition to a one-piece, the suit also offers a tankini option. I sewed View E: the ruched one-piece.

Wren Marilyn Swimsuit TOUR 6

I used a heart floral swim fabric from Knitpop and solids from Zenith & Quasar. I adore the view from the side, with the ruched front and solid side-panels:


Tips and Tricks

Follow the size chart! My daughter is 3 years old and measures between 3 mos and 6 mos for chest, 3 mos for hips, and close to 2T for height. Although I know to use the charts, I originally made her suit between 6 mos-12 mos width and had to take it back in. SO–if your 3-year-old measures a size 3-month waist, sew it! 😜 That’s the lovely part about custom creations–they work! We just have to look past numbers.

Additionally, the suit called for elastic in the chest band and legs, and I omitted both, having sewn an adult suit for me with bands before (sans elastic). I actually prefer less structure in those areas, especially since the bands are so well-fitted.

That’s all! My first little slice of toddler vintage love. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour and enter the Rafflecopter from the amazing sponsors! Here is a list of PRIZES and ways to enter.



Monday, June 26

Sprouting JubeJubeCall AjaireKutti CoutureTales of A TesterHouse of EstrelaBellevi

Tuesday, June 27

Sprouting JubeJubeFABulous Home SewnSew and Tell ProjectTales From A Southern MomMy Heart Will Sew On

Wednesday, June 28

Lulu & CelesteAdventures With Bubba and BugMomma You Can Make ItMarvelous Auntie MPhat Quarters

Thursday, June 29

Lulu & CelesteFilles à Maman & JalieCrazy Crafty Haute MamaMeMade5 out of 4 PatternsRikiPrints Custom Knit Fabrics

Friday, June 30

Lulu & CelesteLittle Heart ThreadsRonda B. HandmadeBellevisewingbyti



INSTAGRAM CONTEST: Be sure to check THIS LINK for details on how to enter the Instagram contest!

Monday Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday Rafflecopter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday Rafflecopter:
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Thursday Rafflecopter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday Rafflecopter:
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Grand prize Rafflecopter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The pattern links in this post are affiliate links. I am affiliated with most of the pattern companies I test for, and this in no way shapes my response or promotion. I only test for companies I respect and only share patterns I adore!

Portlanders Pants Girls’ Release + Mommy/Me Bundle

Girl Potlander Pants Mama Daughter 2

Just days after I made my Portlander Pants (find my post HERE), New Horizons announced that the girls’ version was coming (Pattern website HERE)! My daughter had just had a meltdown because I hadn’t sewn a matching outfit for us in a while, so voilà–it had to come to fruition!

The Portlander Pants is a year-round pant that is fitted at the top (with yoga style waistband) and flawy toward the ankle. This style is incredibly comfortable and works for both day-wear and feels heavenly for pajamas. My daughter insisted that she needed to wear her new outfit during the day with me and then to bed (I obliged! I mean…comfort).

I used the same monochrome fabric from Love Adore Knits that I used for my pants, and the top is black double brushed poly from Pretty Posh Prints.

I then needed to try the shorts version of the pants (also included in the pattern). I opted for pockets, yoga waistband, and a faux drawstring instead of a full drawstring; I simply sewed my drawstring together, tied it into a bow, and tacked it on. For the polka dot version shown below, I didn’t even sew the drawstring; instead, I just used the fabric selvage that naturally rolls.

Portlander Shorts Girls 2

My polka dot knit is part of Raspberry Creek Fabric‘s CLUB line. I paired with a store-bought tank and a long, vintage necklace for a sweet Euro-style look.

Portlander Shorts Girls 3

My final version used the same method (shorts, pockets, faux drawstring), and I used a patterned pocket and drawstring for a fun, modern look.

As you sew up your girls’ and women’s Portlanders this summer, be sure to share your creations on the New Horizons Facebook page.


The Ellie & Mac Be Confident Dress: A Beautiful Silhouette For All Sizes

Be Confident Dress 9

When I started seeing the Be Confident dress tester pics start rolling in via Ellie & Mac, I was incredibly impressed at how well the top bodice fit each tester. The amazing top fit paired with the hi-low skirt bottom creates a sweet style you can transform with fabric.

For my creation, I chose the Tamera fabric by Sincerely Rylee and styled it with a felt hat for the boho look I had imagined.

I’ve been really loving monochrome styles lately, so I happily added this one to my collection.

The Ellie & Mac Be Confident Dress/Tunic is 35% off (along with all patterns) in May, so be sure to grab it this month and add it to your collection. You will see the discount automatically in your cart.

Enjoy crafting, and be sure to share your creation in the Ellie and Mac’s Facebook group.

Be Confident Dress 1


Men’s Elevation Hoodie by New Horizons Designs

There are many hoodie patterns out there, but one always catches my attention: The New Horizons Designs Elevation Hoodie! I watched in awe at all of the amazing Women and Child Elevation Hoodies — and finally the time has come to add our dear men to the list!

Men’s Elevation Hoodie Pattern

Elevation Hoodie Final 6

The pattern’s most striking feature is that modern zig-zag design that goes through both the bodice and sleeves. It’s an amazing way to color-block and add a pop of color to our men’s sometimes neutral wardrobes.

The welt pockets are fairly simple to create and produce a polished look; inside is a full kangaroo pocket, great in size to keep hands warm or hold phones, keys, and other gear.

Elevation Hoodie Final 5

The hood is a wrap/crossover style, nice and large with a great modern feel.

Elevation Hoodie Final 8

The drawstrings for the hoodie are yet another way to add color and add functionality to the hood.

I didn’t before use eyelets, and now I’m wondering why I waited so long; they add such a professional finish. I’m pretty sure I’ll be eyelet-obsessed henceforth!

I used great quality French Terry fabric for my full hoodie, including the drawstrings. The top variegated blue terry is from Urban Rag Trader on Etsy, and the purple and grey is from an end-of-the-season bundle I snagged from NR Fabrics on Facebook. Both have a good stretch and weight.

Here’s the direct link to the Men’s Elevation Hoodie <————-

and Here is the link to the men’s and kids’ bundle <————–

On sale through 3/14/2017.



The Ficus Cardigan + Sybil Skirt = Peplum Spring


The women’s Ficus Cardigan from Sew Like My Mom is now live!

After sewing the child version (Fern, shown below), I knew the women’s version would be a perfect spring sew!


The back of the cardigan is a beautiful peplum; I used a burgundy/wine French Terry from Raspberry Creek Fabrics for my mama Ficus. The medium weight and soft drape of the fabric was a great combo. for this style:

The pattern is on sale for $8 through Wednesday, February 22nd (normally $10) and is also available in a Mommy/Me Bundle. Find the patterns HERE.

I paired the Ficus with the Love Notions’ incredible Sybil Illusion Skirt with a dropped yoke. The single skirt pattern comes with seven (7) completely different variations! This dropped yoke is my new favorite; the banded top (no closures!) is so comfortable, and the low sing adds the perfect silhouette!

I used the new Acqua Di Rose Boho fabric from Art Gallery Fabrics, available at Kutti Couture on Etsy.


With these gorgeous patterns, I’m well on my way to a fashionable and comfortable spring (and a bold Easter)!


Free George & Ginger Bra and Skippies: Valentine’s Day Inspiration

Kristi Fitzpatrick, designer for the George & Ginger Pattern Group always posts jaw-dropping pattern options. Her attention to detail is exquisite; you can check out her edgy/modern/sophisticated (she covers all angles) line HERE (blog) and HERE (Etsy).

Last Valentine’s Day, she offered a super cute “I Heart You” tshirt and boy short set free via her FB group. This year, she generously offered the “Lovesick Bra.”

I combined the Lovesick bra with the “skippies” (cheeky underwear shorts from the “I Heart You” set) for a sweet Valentine’s Day sew. I added a tube of fabric (similar to the bra straps) around the front to create a bow look. It’ll be the perfect simple-yet-sexy set for our Valentine’s Day.


Fabric is double brushed poly from Knitpop, lined with 10 oz. cotton lycra.

Pattern is FREE to all members of the George & Ginger Pattern Co. Facebook Group (check the Files section)

Snapdragon Knit Dress for Special Occasions and Every Day

The girls’ Snapdragon Dress by Sew Like My Mom is quickly becoming my go-to for dressed-up everyday wear and special occasions. It’s an easy knit dress with beautiful details like gathered sleeves and a gathered skirt; and the sleeve cuffs help create a well-fitting look and helps keep sleeves free (if that’s possible…) of messes.


I’m such an old soul, so this sweet little old-fashioned style speaks well to my soul. Paired with a little Raspberry Creek CLUB jersey fabric, this dress quickly became my little gal’s favorite.

And when it came time to sew for my third daughter’s FIRST birthday, I went right to the Snapdragon.


I sized up a little so she could wear it longer, and I’m so glad I did; I don’t think I could part with this beauty any too early! Check out the difference it makes with a little ruffle fabric.


So elegant!

I can only imagine a sweet little tulle one for Christmas!


Featured Fabric: Raspberry Creek Fabrics CLUB line and Art Gallery Knit

Featured Pattern: Sew Like My Mom Snapdragon Dress

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