Jimmy Beans Wool Spring KAL/SAL- Sewing and Crafting with Brett Bara!

Brett on Martha's show demonstrating
how to sew the skirt! Be sure to check
out this video at the links below!
We just love Brett Bara's book- Sewing in a Straight Line and her blog Manhattan Craft Room! So when we saw that Cecily Glowik MacDonald, the designer of the Goodale Cardigan we planned to knit for the KAL, had been sewing the One-Hour Skirts from Brett's book to pair with the designs in her upcoming book, we thought it was a great opportunity to get Brett involved in the KAL fun! We did another blog interview with her in January a few months after the book came out, and figured this time we'd have her share some tips with us for beginning sewists! We hope you enjoy this 2nd interview with her and if you are planning to make a skirt, be sure to follow the links provided at the bottom for all of your skirt sewing instruction needs! Brett has graciously shared this pattern with us, so even if you don't have the book, you can still make a One-Hour Skirt!

Here is what Brett had to say about crafting for a living, sewing, and her beginner tips:

JBW- You are sort of an all-around crafty guru and your blog Manhattan Craft Room has everything from sewing to knitting and crocheting and food recipes. How did you end up working in this industry and in so many different areas of crafting?

Even Fifi (Brett's Kitty) wears
a One-Hour Skirt! :)
BB- I have been crafty my whole life (I get it from my mom), but I never thought making a living from crafting was even an option. In college I studied English, with the goal of working at a magazine, and after graduation I moved to New York to pursue a career in publishing. So I started working in magazines right away, and for the first seven years or so I mostly worked on men's and women's magazines, writing about health, relationships, beauty--all that typical stuff. Then one day I got a lead on a position as a crafts editor at Woman's Day Special Issues, and that was the moment when I was finally able to combine my career in publishing with my lifelong experience crafting. And everything just flowed from there! After that position I went on to be the Editor in Chief of Crochet Today magazine and the host of Knit and Crochet Now. These days I'm happily self-employed, working on my own projects and designs, which are all on my blog. I do cover a lot of different subjects, and that's just because it truly reflects what I actually do in my life. I love to do just about anything creative, and I tend to like to jump around from one project to the next because I love the process of starting something new. One day I'm knitting a shawl because I want a shawl, and then the next week I'm making a big birthday cake for a friend, then after that I'm sewing curtains because I need curtains, and then I'm repainting vintage furniture because I found a piece at a flea market. My crafts just flow from whatever is happening in my real life. And if I don't have the skills to make whatever it is I want, I try to learn--that's really my favorite thing, delving into a new subject and learning all about it, and eventually making something totally new.

JBW- What made you decide to feature back-to-basics patterns with "Sewing in a Straight Line?"

Cute kids versions of the One-Hour
 Skirt as seen on Martha Stewart.
BB- It seemed like I kept hearing people say that they would love to be able to sew, but that it seemed way too hard and they had no idea where to start. Meanwhile, I knew that sewing didn't have to be difficult. One day I was sewing something (I think it was a quilt) and I realized that the project I was making, while it looked kind of impressive, was actually made with nothing but straight lines, and that really anyone could make it. So I got the idea to do a book of projects that were sewn with only straight lines, with the hopes that it would help people see that with the right shape and fabric, and the right idea, you can sew really amazing projects with just simple skills.

JBW- We love how the book really leaves a lot of room for embellishment and individualization with each pattern. What is YOUR favorite pattern in the book and why?

BB- That's such a tough question! I think my favorite in terms of easy projects is the One-Hour Skirt, because it really is so easy to make and it seems to have inspired a lot of people to try sewing. I've gotten emails from tons of readers who really didn't sew, but made the skirt--and they're always so happy and proud and inspired to sew more. That's a great feeling. My favorite in terms of more challenging projects is the Wonky Diamonds on Point Quilt. I have it on my bed and it makes me happy every day. But it really is a challenging quilt -- not for the faint of heart!

JBW- What are a few of your top tips for beginning sewers?

The original One-Hour Skirt
from "Sewing in a
Straight Line"
BB- I do advise beginners to try to get help from a real human their first time out. If you don't personally know someone who can sit with you and help you on the machine till you get comfortable, take a class at your local fabric store. Also, read your sewing machine manual! It's not exactly exciting reading, but you'll learn a lot. Go through the whole manual with some scrap fabric and try out every feature, page by page. You'll learn a ton. I also highly recommend making a muslin before starting any new project (a sample of the project you're making, but sewn in muslin or another inexpensive fabric rather than your real fabric). This process really allows you to work out any kinks so that you'll have much greater success in the end.

JBW-  Tell us a bit more about the 1-hour skirt-- what do you love most about it and do you personally have any of these skirts in your wardrobe?

A collage of One Hour Skirts from
a class Brett taught at Etsy.
BB- I have about twenty of these skirts in my studio, in every size from baby to adult! (And even one to fit my cat. It's true.) The skirts are great because they really are quick and easy--I can actually make one in about 15 minutes now! And they teach you some good micro lessons: how to sew French seams, how to make a waistband casing, how to do a hem, even how to measure your body.

JBW- What tips do you have for our SAL participants who might be attempting to sew a garment for themselves for the first time?

2. Be sure to wash, dry and very thoroughly iron your fabric before beginning.
(Otherwise, the fabric might shrink later when you wash it, and may cause
puckering in your seams.)
3. Even though I said above it's helpful to sew a muslin, if you're just anxious to
get started and you don't want to sew a muslin, just go ahead and start sewing, but
choose a fabric that's not too expensive. That way you can feel free to go just for it,
without having too much to lose.
4. Lots of people have trouble sewing in a straight line when they first begin. To help
with this, stick a strip of masking tape on your sewing machine, next to the presser
foot, so that you can line the edge of your fabric up with it as you sew. It helps!
5. Have fun! It's just sewing. If you mess up, tear out your seam and start again, or
cut a whole new piece of fabric. Don't stress!

JBW- What projects are you currently working on or what is next for you in the crafting world?

BB- What am I not working on?! I'm still trying to finish decorating my apartment, and I'm working on some designs that are going into some upcoming books, as well as my regular sewing column on Design Sponge. And I've got a lot of big projects in the "hopeful" file that will hopefully become a reality in the near future! :)

Now for the sewing fun! To make your one hour skirt, check out these super fun resources that Brett has kindly provided us with:

Here is Brett's video on how to sew the One-Hour Skirt:

Sewing in a Straight Line by Brett Bara – How to Sew a Skirt in One Hour from Rarebit Productions on Vimeo.

You can also read her post about visiting the Martha Stewart Show to make these skirts on her blog. Also, check out the Martha Stewart Website for the full written directions and materials as well as another video. I recommend watching both videos and reading the written instructions as well.

Now, for the winners of the yarn and fabric giveaway! First off, the following two winners each win three skeins of Cascade Venezia Sport in a color of their choice:

Commenter #24- Jeanie, who said:  "I joined the Kal and am using Madelinetosh pashmina in Victorian Gothic- can't wait to get started! Thanks for this fun knit along! Jeanie"


Lucky #13- Forensicgrl, who said: "I'm in! I hope to cast on tonight. I'm making my Goodale in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in Thundercloud."

And lastly, the winner of two yards of fabric of your choice from Jimmy Beans Wool's fabric selection is:

Commenter #28- Mary, who said: "I'm in with Madelinetosh Sport in Silver Fox for my Goodale. I'm excited! "
Winners- Please e-mail me with your color/fabric choices and mailing addresses at: kristen@jimmybeanswool.com to claim your prizes!

Thank you so much to Brett for participating in our SAL and providing us with all of this valuable information and tips! Good luck to everyone doing the SAL with starting your skirts! Of course please let me know if you have any questions or get stuck. Feel free to e-mail me directly at the address above or comment on the Ravelry Thread for the KAL. Also, please post finished skirt and sweater photos on Ravelry if you can or e-mail them to me if you'd like them to be featured on the blog in the final post!

Happy knitting and sewing!

PS. If you read this entire monster post- whew! Nice work! I'm giving you a virtual pat on the back! :)

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Sewing in a Straight Line


  1. This was a great post and I have to say that Fifi is a GREAT sport!! Thanks for the pattern and help Brett!!

  2. Thanks for making me a winner! I can't wait to choose my fabric. Thanks for a great kal/sal combo too!

  3. Yeah! I won! I went to JBW and picked out my yarn on my lunch break. I went with the color Deep Sea. I loved the KAL and can't wait until the next one.

  4. Diving into the vibrant world of color with Lorna's Laces and Carina Spencer! And while I express my creativity, I also prioritize self-care. Sworn by the hyaluronic acid fillers from https://pdcosmetics.com/—my secret to a naturally radiant look. Because every stitch and every beauty choice should be a masterpiece!