Winter is upon us and this is the time of year that I start loading up the layers in a vain attempt to keep myself warm. So today I’m going to show you how to make this DIY ruffle sweater. It’s an easy pattern hack meets girly style! Let’s get hacking!

yellow ruffle sweater

DIY ruffle sweater

For this ruffle sweater pattern hack, you’ll need a t-shirt pattern that you love. There’s umpteen million choices here, but I’m using Burdastyle 2-2011-106. It’s a great little basic round neck tee that I’ve used before for this Hummingbird tee.

If you don’t have a favorite tee-shirt, here’s some other choices:

Fabric choice

You’ll want to choose some cozy fabric for your ruffle sweater! I’m using a sweatshirt fleece, but a sweater knit, french terry, or wool jersey are all great options too.

If you’re using a t-shirt pattern designed for more stretchy knits like rayon jersey, cut a size larger than you would normally. Sweatshirt knits typically don’t have as much stretch and definitely not the recovery of stretchier knits. If you’re going Team Lazy here, you could also get away with just adding a little extra seam allowance at the sides.

ruffle sweater infographic

1. Make the Crossover front piece

ruffle sweater pieces

To start, trace off a copy of your front pattern piece. For this project it needs to be a full piece. You can trace a full piece or go the lazy route by using your traced half as the altered part and just overlap your original piece at center front when you cut. When I’m pattern hacking, I’m all about Team Lazy!

Next, draw a curve from the middle armhole down towards the hem. It should crossover center front 1-2″ from the bottom of the hem. For this style, you want to reduce the hem allowance to 3/8″ since we’re going to add the ruffle.

To finish the front piece, add a seam allowance beyond your line that you drew and cut away the excess. You’ll need to cut 2 of these.

2. Measure for the ruffles

Next let’s make the ruffles. Take a measuring tape and measure on your pattern piece along the curve you drew. Multiply this X2 to get the length of your ruffle. Cut 2 ruffle pieces the length you need X 2.5″ wide.

Do the same thing for the back piece. Measure along the hem line, multiply X4 to get the length of the back ruffle (X2 if you’re using a full pattern piece). Cut 1 ruffle that length X2.5″.

3. Cut the ruffles

Cut 2 front ruffles and 1 back ruffle

4. Gather and hem the ruffles

Hem the ruffles by pressing up 5/8″ to the wrong side on the long edges. Topstitch the hem down with a double needle, zigzag stitch or a coverstitch.

Gather the top long edge of the ruffle by first sewing 2 rows of long stitches close to the top edge. From the wrong side, pull on the bobbin threads to gather the fabric. Repeat for the ruffles.

5. Sew on the ruffles

With wrong sides together, pin the gathered edge of the ruffle to the cut edge of a front piece. Adjust the ruffle to fit, then sew the ruffle to the edge with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Repeat for the second ruffle and the back piece.

Stack the front pieces with the right front on top of the left and baste the armholes and neckline together. Trim away any ruffle from the armhole area so that the ruffle is flush with the armhole.

yellow ruffle sweater

*A note on the left front ruffle*

If you’re using a closer fitting t-shirt pattern as I am and your fabric is a little bulky (mine is!), you might want to have the left front ruffle end just past the point that it crosses over CF. You’ll still get a ruffle hem, but it won’t add extra bulk underneath the right front. But check your pattern. A looser fit tee might be just fine with that second ruffle.

6. Finishing up

After that, sew your shoulder seams, side seams, neck binding and sleeves as you would for any other t-shirt.

yellow ruffle sweater

Styling your DIY ruffle sweater

ruffle sweater flatlay

How do you wear something like this? I’m wearing mine with slim motorcycle leggings and boots. Other options would be to pair it with a nice cozy scarf and a pencil skirt or even over a knit dress. Leggings + a longer tunic under the ruffle sweater might be cool too. Or jeans! Always the jeans!

Winter dressing is all about layering! Have a look around your closet and don’t be afraid to experiment. For other styling posts, check out how I styled Sew Over It’s Lulu dress.

ruffle sweater

Make a DIY ruffle sweater yourself!

If you make this ruffle sweater yourself, I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to let me know about it on Instagram or you can email me!

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boiled wool coat

Hi all! I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas and lovely times with family! I’ve certainly enjoyed hanging around in pjs with my family and wearing my pompom jacket! Today I’m over on the Fabric Mart blog talking about this colorblocked boiled wool coat and sequin cardigan.

faux suede trim

There’s dye! Suede trim makes an appearance, scraps become a zipper tassel, and I consider how sequins can be a part of your everyday wardrobe. Go check it out!

toddler sequin skirt and sequin cardigan

Next up tomorrow:

ruffle sweatshirt

Is this t-shirt pattern hack. It’s quick and easy and it’s the kind of top you’ll want to rescue out of the dirty clothes to wear again!

Do you have any post Christmas sewing plans?

ugly Christmas sweater

I can’t say that I ever participated in the Ugly Christmas sweater phenomenon growing up.  Yes, I did DIY a Santa hat with lots of lights for orchestra performances in junior high, but an ugly Christmas sweater?  Nope.  So the past several years, I’ve seen more and more of these absurdly over-the-top creations ranging from funny to tacky to even vulgar.  While I’ll pass on the last category, I’m definitely embracing the tacky and over the top with this pompom laden no-sew ugly Christmas sweater.  Let me show you how I made mine and how you can make one for yourself!

Pompom no-sew ugly Christmas sweater

Find a sweater as your base

To make this sweater, you’ll need a sweater as a base to hold all the pompoms.

ugly Christmas sweater

Any style of sweater will do!  You control how many pompoms are on your final sweater, so a cardigan, vest, long-sleeved, zippered style will do.  The only thing is that you want a sweater with a reasonably closely knit structure.  More open-knit sweaters will be difficult to work with because the pompoms won’t have enough structure to latch onto.

I chose a short sleeved cardigan for mine.  It was a little bit too large for me, so I spent time first taking in the sides a little bit and taking in the neck significantly through a series of darts.  The more closely fitting your sweater can be, the better because the pompoms are going to add an unholy amount of bulk to your sweater!

Make a crazy number of pompoms.  And then make more.  And probably more still.

ugly Christmas sweater

Next, you want to start making pompoms.  I found this tutorial on YouTube helpful.

Get ready to go through a crazy amount of yarn.  1 reasonably sized skein yielded between 5-10 3″ diameter pompoms.  Bulky yarns work really really well for this.  Chunky wool and wool blends are ideal, though I liked the bulky acrylics too.  My least favorite were the thinner acrylic yarns, though I used them too for the color (olive with gold flecks!!).

Consider some unconventional places like thrift stores as you’re gathering yarn.  I was able to find several quality yarns (cashmere for change!) at my local thrift store and also ReCreative in Denver.

ugly Christmas sweater

In total, I think there’s close to 100 pompoms on my sweater.  I initially estimated about 60, but they really take up less space than you think.  The good news is that while this sounds like a big undertaking, it’s pretty mindless work.  You can wrap and tie them up in the dark while you’re watching a movie.  Trim several up at a time while you’re waiting for water to heat up for your tea.  

All this yarn reminds me of my favorite sweater refashion of all time!

Get the pompoms ready

This is a no-sew project, but you’re still going to need a needle with a large eye.  An upholstery or darning needle will do the trick.  It’s not for sewing, it’s for helping thread the pompoms through the sweater base so you can tie them.

ugly Christmas sweater
Thread your yarn through the needle

If you made your pompoms the right way, there should be some long tails that survived through all the trimming process.  If you cut them off or forgot to put them on, let me show you how to fix it. 

ugly Christmas sweater
Run the yarn right through the center of the pompom

First thread your needle with about 12″ of yarn.  You want to use a yarn that’s of the same weight or heavier than the pompom itself.  This way it’ll support the pompom no problem.  Put the needle point through the center of the pompom and pull it through so the yarn is centered in the pompom.

ugly Christmas sweater
Happy square knot

Make a nice square knot (right over left, then left over right).  You want to have 2 of these strands through the middle for a total of 4 long threads in each pompom.

ugly Christmas sweater

Now we tie!

ugly Christmas sweater
Place the pompom where you want it

Thread one of the tails through the needle, then poke the needle end through the sweater.  Repeat with another tail, making sure that the second tail is at least 1″ away from the first.  This will give the pompom a wide base of support.  On the wrong side of the sweater, tie a very secure square knot.  Repeat with the second set of tails.  

ugly Christmas sweater
Tail #1 to the wrong side
ugly Christmas sweater
Both tails on the wrong side. 
ugly Christmas sweater
Tie a firm square knot.

Trim the tails on the inside, leaving about 1″ away from the knot.  If you want, you can tie some of the tails to other tails from other pompoms for more security.

Add the next pompom right next to the last, covering up all the surface of the sweater.  Keep tying on more pompoms until you’re thoroughly satisfied.

Tips for pompom tying   

ugly Christmas sweater
A dress form makes it easy to tie and see how pompoms will sit
  1. Use a dress form or a really patient model:  It’s pretty difficult to know how the pompoms are going to sit.  What’s covered on a person might have big holes when you’re working on the floor.  Tying is going to take a couple of hours, so a dress form will really help you see where pompoms are going to sit when you’re wearing your creation.
  2. Square knot: At some point you’ll have to tie square knots upside down.  Some parts of the sweater will just be awkward like that.  Be sure you’re still tying proper square knots.  I lost a couple pompoms and had to redo them when I accidentally tied the similar but totally unsecure granny knot instead.

Make it your own

ugly Christmas sweater

The variations on this kind of pompom ugly Christmas sweater are endless.  Make it in several shades of the same color or vary several different colors for a colorblocked effect.  Or place pompoms at random as I’ve done.

This is not a serious garment!  Be as crazy as you want!

The over-the-topness of it all is a bit like this totally 80s refashioned sweater!

ugly Christmas sweater

Styling tips for your pompom ugly Christmas sweater

ugly Christmas sweater
  • Keep it simple and fitted: your pompom ugly Christmas sweater has a crazy amount of volume.  Balance it out with a simple t-shirt and slim fitting jeans or leggings. I’ve paired mine with some olive motorcycle leggings, a cream t-shirt, and black boots.  There’s a long necklace in there too somewhere!
  • Be ready for reactions: Fair warning–people will want to hug you or poke you/otherwise get in your space when you don a sweater like this.  Have a good sense of humor about it and defend your space if it’s weirding you out!  

Go big or go home

So while this look is a little bonkers, sometimes it’s okay to go way over the top.  

ugly Christmas sweater
pompom trimmings make sweet confetti too!

So by now, you’ve got a good idea of how to make your own pompom ugly Christmas sweater.  We’ve talked about what sweaters work well for this project, you’ve seen how to tie all the pompoms on your sweater, and now you have some ideas ideas about how to wear it.  Whatever you do, own this look, and most of all, have fun with it!

ugly Christmas sweater
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shibori dye

You know what’s awesome about dyeing fabric?  It’s so absurdly low-tech, and yet the possibilities you have to create interesting effects are infinite.  Shibori dye has been on my DIY bucket for a while now, so when LA Finch Fabrics approached me to review their PFD Organic cotton shirting, oh, and dye it, I had to jump on that train post haste.  I give you my shibori dye Sew Over It Penny dress!

**This fabric was provided to me by LA Finch Fabrics.  The dyeing process I did with my own two hands, and all opinions are my own.**

Shibori Dye Sew Over It Penny Dress

What is PFD fabric?

PFD fabric is “prepared for dye”.  It’s a totally blank canvas for all your diy love.  Because this is organic fabric, it’s an excellent candidate for natural dyes like indigo or turmeric.  Working with indigo remains one of the few dye techniques I’ve not tried!  With the popularity of mustard colors in fashion this Fall, dyeing this fabric with turmeric could be a really cool project.  Hey it would go with this bag!

This fabric is a 100% cotton shirting.  I would say it’s about the weight as a good quality 100% cotton shirting you’d see in a ready-to-wear men’s shirt.  This fabric was made for a beautifully structured collar!  Shirtdresses like the Sew Over It Penny dress or a nice button down shirt pattern like the Grainline Archer are both great choices for this fabric.

If you’d like to experiment with this lovely fabric, LA Finch is offering it for $5/yd right now!

Organics Basics Shirting PFD Woven

Here’s what I did with it.

Grainline Archer



Shibori is the traditional Japanese art of dyeing fabric.  It’s a resist technique not unlike tie-dyeing.  Resist dyeing means that you add something to the fabric that prevents the dye from making a nice even color throughout.  In the case of shibori, the fabric may be folded, twisted, pleated, wound with string, stitched, clamped in any number of configurations before the dye is applied.  The variants are infinite and there is definitely art and a lifetime’s worth of study to truly understand how to make what with shibori.  If you’re looking for a good intro, I found this book to be a good primer with some practical projects.

After several experiments, I settled on the Arashi form of shibori which involves dyeing with a pole.


Arashi shibori

Anytime I get to go to Home Depot to start a sewing project, I’m pretty excited.  I used to hate home improvement stores as a kid, but now, I kind of love it.  It makes my home nicer, they have GIANT carts that make my kids happy, and the happy color chips of the paint section could occupy me for hours.  On this particular visit, I picked up a large chunk of PVC.  I almost walked out with a 15 foot pole, but I did see a smaller 3′ chunk that was much easier to manage.  You do want to have the biggest diameter pole you can get which will make sense in a minute.  This one has a diameter of 3″.


The basics is that you wrap the dry fabric around the pole.  You can do this on an angle or not.  When you run out of pole, you scrunch the fabric down until it can scrunch no more.  What you’ve done is created tons of micro pleats in the fabric.  If you try to do this with too much fabric, it’s going to be really unwieldy to scrunch.  You know the thing about you can’t fold a piece of paper more than 7X unless you’re Hulk?  The same thing applies here.  For this midweight fabric, I found sections of 1.5 yards just about perfect to work with.  Also, the large diameter pole makes it easier to compact down the fabric without it becoming loose and too hard to handle.

Rubberband crazy

After you scrunch everything, secure the fabric to the pole with as many rubberbands as you’d like.  The tighter they are, the more the fabric folds and the rubberbands themselves will prevent the dye from being uniform.  You can add some clips if you like for more resist texture.

Next you wet the fabric.  Then you dye the fabric.  I used two different colors–one pink, and a darker purple.  The purple is actually a darker version of the pink.  You can apply the dye uniformly or in stripes or at random.  This is definitely something that warrants experimentation, and no 2 pieces of shibori are going to look the same.

I’ll also throw out there that I was using the dye I had on hand: Rit DyeMore in a couple different colors as well as regular Rit Dye.  Some day, I will break down and buy some fiber reactive dyes.  My understanding is that you’ll get more intense colors with them.

Fish skin

shibori dye

After letting the dye soak into the fabric for a few hours, you can unwrap it all.  Pull off the rubberbands and unroll the fabric.  As it’s wet, it’s going to be rather difficult to deal with.  You will get to see all those cool pleats you made!  My sons have dubbed this pattern “fish skin”!  That definitely felt appropriate for the dramatic backdrop of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada which my husband and I got to visit for a belated anniversary trip.

After this, rinse the fabric with cool water until it’s clear.  If you like, you can toss it in a cool water cycle in your washing machine.  After that, you’re good to go.

Sew Over It Penny dress

With my fresh shibori dye fish skin fabric, I was ready to sew it up into a Penny dress.  For my version, I swapped out the giant circle skirt for a straight skirt which is definitely more my style.

I also finished the armholes with bias tape I cut from a striped cotton shirting.  The shoulder yoke is lined burrito-style.  For some reason in this pattern, the directions would have you finish the shoulder yoke seam allowances and have them just hanging out along the shoulder edge on the inside.  The burrito method is definitely a cleaner finish.  The yoke on the Penny is much smaller, so it’s a little harder than a traditional button down shirt, but the principles are the same.

I also skipped the waist elastic in favor of a drawstring.  To finish up everything, I added some coordinating pearl snaps.

So that’s the tale of my shibori dyeing exploits.  I reckon this is a deep rabbit hole, and I’m really looking forward to trying this out again.  Thanks to LA Finch Fabrics for giving me the fabric!

Have you tried shibori dyeing?


handprinted fabric

Creating my own textiles is something I have always loved doing.  You can always find interesting prints when you go fabric shopping, but there’s something truly joyful about being able to make that print with your own two hands.  And then if you can extended that into sewing with your own handprinted fabrics it’s a double win.  Make fabric that you love, and then make it into something that you want to wear.  Recently, I did just that with some plain linen, and by the end of this, I hope I will have convinced you to print all the things.

Creating handprinted fabrics

handprinted fabric

Obviously the first step in sewing with your own handprinted fabric is to print up some yardage.  If printing a couple of yards of fabric sounds daunting, you can always print directly onto a finished project.  I’ve done this before, and it works like a charm.  You can experiment with fabrics of all types, though you’ll get the best results with plain woven fabrics in natural fibers.  Linen and cotton are ideal.

In this video, I walk you through carving your own block, what supplies you need, setting up your workspace, and printing your own yardage with a simple pattern repeat.

5 ideas for using your handprinted fabrics

This is the fun part.  You’ve used your muscle to print up some yardage, now what?  The sky is the limit, but here are some ideas for things to create with your yardage:

Pick a pattern with simple lines

handprinted fabric

There’s times when a design in the star, but with handprinted fabrics, the fabric is the queen.  Choose a pattern that isn’t broken up by a lot of tucks and gathers or otherwise complicated design lines.  Sometimes less is more.

Add a little drama

handprinted fabric

I couldn’t resist adding a little interest to this sundress with the asymmetrical skirt.  The bodice is from my fringed linen sundress, and I made a little cutout at CF and changed up the straps.  But for the drama, I added a little drape on the right side of the dress.  It’s cut-on so I didn’t have to match the pattern or waste any yardage.

handprinted fabric

Piece the leftovers

handprinted fabric

There’s a basic Ottobre dress I’ve been making all summer for my daughter.  There wasn’t enough to make the dress plain, so I cut it a couple inches below the waist and added a ruffle to finish off the length.  The ruffle itself had to be pieced, but the seams are hidden within the folds for the most part.  I love how limited yardage makes you think about how to fully use a piece of fabric!

Embroidered patches

Use the opportunity to practice your hand embroidery with any scraps.  I made these in the car on our family road trip this summer.  The embroidery can really add a new dimension to your print.handprinted fabric

Make a bag

handprinted fabric

Little zippered bags can be a great way to use up last little wonky pieces of your fabric.  Zigzag them together, fuse them with some interfacing, and make sew up an easy lined bag.

Love what you make, make what you love

handprinted fabric

I hope I’ve got your brain working thinking about all the things you can do with your handmade fabric.

At the end of the day, making handprinted fabrics is a labor of love.  Your sweat and hardwork is in it a little more than all the times you buy the newest fabric–not that that’s bad, but the making experience is just different.  To me it’s really exciting watching a blank canvas become something you want to wear all the time.

This dress has been carrying me through the summer.  My husband and I had fun taking these pictures at Myrtle Beach (I NEED the turquoise wall in my backyard!!!!!), and the linen has been a luxury to wear in the swampy heat.

So what about you?  Have you created your own fabric?  Did sewing it up feel different for you than when you buy fabric off the bolt?

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Can you actually embroider on a regular sewing machine?  I think it’s a giant myth in the sewing world that you need a big fancy embroidery machine to tackle basic embroidery.  Pinterest image of embroidered roses on a bag and on a t-shirt

Embroidery is such a nice thing to add to any sewing project to add a little bit extra personality beyond whatever it is that you’ve made.  Let’s talk how you can embroider on a regular sewing machine.

After a rather involved violin I added to a t-shirt, I wanted to make something simpler.  So I created this Angle Roses Embroidery Template, and I’d like to offer it to you today as a free download when you sign up for my newsletter.

The goal of the Angle Roses Embroidery Template is to teach you some basics of how to embroider on a regular sewing machine.

Can I actually embroidery on a regular sewing machine?

You bet you can!  You don’t even need a fancy foot to do so.  Embroidery on a regular sewing machine can be as simple as tracing a design onto a stabilizer and tracing along with the needle as if it were a pencil.  Plus, you can always make it more complicated if you want to.  Here are some supplies that will help you, and then I’ll give some examples of how to spice up this basic design.

Supplies needed for embroidery on a regular sewing machine

  •  Your design
  • Water soluble stabilizer–I really like Solvy by Sulky.  It’s great for transferring a design and making some nice stitches.  That you can wash it out in the end makes for stitches that won’t be damaged by pulling away the excess stabilizer as can happen in a lot of tear-away stabilizers.
  • Fine line permanent marker–for tracing your design!
  • Uncut fabric or a project that’s already in progress: anything is game here, and you can even use this technique to embellish ready to wear items.
  • Thread of your choice: contrast is key, so you’ll want to practice on some scraps if possible to help you make a good decision.
  • Glue stick:  For gently securing the stabilizer to your work area.
  • Machine foot of your choice: I go into the advantages of each foot in the video for this project, but basically, my top 3 choices are straight stitch foot, clear applique foot, and a free motion embroidery foot.

How can you use this design?

After you’ve downloaded the design, the PDF file will give you a tutorial and several ideas for how you can use them.  I also give some basic directions to help you achieve what I’ve made.  There’s actually a 5th level of difficulty here that I didn’t cover with this project but that I did get to in my violin t-shirt that I’ll talk about another day.  It’s basically a hybrid of applique and embroidery, and it’s one of my very favorite techniques!

Simple and clean

The easiest way to incorporate the Angle Roses Embroidery Template is to simply stitch it out in one color.  A good strongly contrasting thread will be a great choice.  Here I’ve added to a Blank Slate Patterns Texana tank.

embroider on a regular sewing machine

If you want to spend some more time, add multiple motifs on a skirt

Punch it up with color

Before you stitch out the design, add a little color to your fabric.  Here I roughly stitched back and forth with my free motion foot to lay down some color.  It’s amazing how much the character changes with this little addition!

Color between the lines

After stitching out the design, why not go back and stitch with some contrast thread to bring it into full color?  The roses came into full bloom in this funky quilted necklace.

embroider on a regular sewing machine

I’d love it if you would join the newsletter if for no other reason than I’m itching to see what you would do with this template!  There’s so many possibilities!  To make it easy to sign up, click on any of the pictures in this post or below, and it’ll take you to the sign up.

Thanks so much!!!


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shirt dress from shirts

I never got around to posting this dress.  I suppose I didn’t want to spoil it since it appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of Altered Couture, but in truth, I simply forgot about it.  A mish mash of patterns and colors, this shirt dress from shirts was a fun project to play with color.   While this isn’t my coffee dress for The Day and Night Dress Challenge, I wanted to share it today.  It’s a good example of a style choice for your casual coffee dress for the challenge.

spice dyed

What experience do you have with natural dyes?

This bag was published in the Autumn 2017 edition of Altered Couture magazine.*

Altered Couture has a couple of challenges running this year that have caught my eye.  One of the challenges is to use natural dyes from foodstuffs to create a project.  Being a cook, I knew I’d have fun with this one.  As it turned out, I needed to make a bag that I can carry sheet music in for teaching my violin lessons.  Right now, I’m teaching at home, but that may not always be the case, and anyhow, I’m always toting piles of books.  I set out to create a bag that would hold all my stuff and yet fill the bill of the challenge.  I present my spice dyed music bag!