Like most sewists out there I think, I often peruse RTW sites for sewing inspiration.  Usually, the things I like gather dust on my Pinterest.  Once in a while, I see something and I jump to make it pronto.  Such was the case with this Italian Featherweight Cashmere Fringe Cardigan from J Crew.  It has colorblocking, it’s got fringe, and it’s got mitered corners.  Mister Rogers was all about the zip cardigan; this is me in cardigan form right here:

J crew cashmere fringe cardigan:

Fringe Trim Cardigan knockoff

For my fringe trim cardigan knockoff, I started with 2 sweaters.  The main body is an aqua acrylic blend sweater, and the white is from a Banana Republic nylon/cashmere blend sweater with some dobby dots on the body of the sweater.

Itch to Stitch Lisbon

I snapped up a copy of Itch to Stitch’s Lisbon Cardigan.  The inspiration sweater is really just a basic cardigan if you take away the fringed trim.  The Lisbon is a great match for this project; it’s a fantastic basic cardigan with a lot of room for any additional details you’d want to add.

For fit, I compared the pattern to my TNT t-shirt.  The size was pretty similar, but the back was a little wide.  I folded out 1/2″ from the width at CB for a better fit.  I also shortened the sleeves by 1 1/4″. My arms belong to a violinist, not a violist!

I eliminated bulk from the neck binding and the hem by using the original white sweater’s ribbing. Each piece is half the width of the pattern piece plus a seam allowance. The finished look is not only less bulky, but has more of a look of a sweater since the finished edges of the original ribbing are used. All of the seams are stitched down internally either by machine or by hand for a flat look that you might get from a sweater you actually knitted yourself.


Creating the look

To create colorblocked fringe with this pattern, I sewed 1.5″ strips of the cotton and linen together and sewed them to the main body of the cardigan. On the inspiration cardigan, the trim is applied by what looks like some specialized machine. It almost looks like a coverstitch, but I don’t think that’s quite right. Lacking a coverstitch, then I stitched the trim with rows of a narrow zigzag. Each edge is free from the hem band and the button placket, and the corners are mitered.

After sewing, I fringed the linen with a fine needle.  After that, I threw the cardigan in the wash to fluff up the raw edges of the cotton which are almost too fine to fringe.  Once the sweater was out of the wash, I trimmed the loose threads and applied some Fray Block.  Fray Block is great stuff to apply to fringed projects once you get them frayed where you want them to be.  After it’s applied, it dries clear and the edges are protected from further fraying and it won’t wash out.  I used Fray Block on my embroidered silk jeans, and I use it on everything I fringe now because the silk has held up so well with the Fray Block.

Sewing buttonholes on a knit

The only thing that might give you pause with this pattern is having to sew buttonholes on a knit.  Never fear buttonholes on a knit!  First, the pattern helps you out by using a nice wide placket.  I notice that sometimes my buttonhole foot will get caught on really narrow or bulky bands.  The placket for the Lisbon is a nice width.  Also, the seam is far away from the buttonhole area, so there’s less chance of the foot getting stuck during stitching.

The pattern also includes a piece for the interfacing that you add to the placket.  With the interfacing in place, I don’t think you’ll have any issue with the buttonholes.  It’s common for me to have to rip out 1 or 2 buttonholes on a cardigan, but I sewed all of these top to bottom without a hitch.

Wardrobe Sudoku progress!

This is item #4 for Wardrobe Sudoku.  It joins the denim skirt, hummingbird tee, and reverse applique drop pocket cardigan.  On the sewing end, I’m working on item #8 today: a pair of espadrilles.

fringe trim cardigan


reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

I’m still sewing furiously to get everything done for Patternreview’s Wardrobe Sudoku contest, and today, I’m introducing you to item #3.  Here’s my reverse applique drop pocket cardigan.  There’s a lot of work here, so let’s get to it!

Reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

The pattern

Jalie’s Drop Pocket Cardigan is a pattern that I made a few years ago and kind of shrugged off.  My fabric choice was not terribly interesting, and as such, I never wore my version.  I recently found it among my sweaters and have been wearing it around the house a lot.  It really is a comfortable sweater, and it’s a great choice for an extra layer when I’m playing violin because it adds warmth without inhibiting movement.

The pattern is a perfect vehicle for reverse applique because the front pieces are made from a double layer that folds back on itself towards the side seams to create the pocket.

Leaf motif

reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

When the mood strikes, I occasionally sit and sketch flowers and leaves and other things that I might want to use for blockprints.  In my small catalog, I had a rather large leaf that I thought might make a good reverse applique pattern.

reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

First I traced 2 copies of the fronts of the cardigan onto soil separator cloth.  Next, I taped my leaf pattern to a window and traced copies of the leaf all over one of the fronts.  After flipping the pattern, I traced the first front onto the second one so that they would be identical.

Hand embroidery vs. machine embroidery

My fabric choice for the cardigan is a heathered blue poly sweater knit leftover from the fall version of this dress.  I had just enough for the fronts and backs and some sleeve cuffs, but not enough to line the fronts.  To line the fronts and for the sleeves, I used a dusty blue ITY cut from a RTW top.  The two fabrics contrast each other just enough for a tone on tone effect.  They were made for each other!  Next I had to decide if I was going to use machine embroidery or hand embroidery.

reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

I traced a small sample with two leaf motifs.  One is stitched out with hand stitches and embroidery thread, and the other with my machine.  If I had used a triple straight stitch like I did with the hummingbird tee, I might have chosen the machine route.  I do think the stretch of the fabric would have made a mess of machine stitches.  In the end, the hand embroidery was the clear winner.  The texture of the thread makes the leaf pop out and is a better contrast against the very smooth fabrics than machine thread is.

Prepping for the reverse applique

Before starting, I sewed the cardigan up until the pockets were constructed.  At this stage of the pattern, the sleeves are sewn to the back and fronts, the only thing missing are the side seams.  This leaves the fronts free for any kind of embellishment.

I took my traced copies of the fronts and hand basted them to the fronts around each leaf motif so that they would stay put while I was stitching.  The soil separator proved to be a good stabilizer for this fabric which is rather drapey.

Slow sewing

reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

Reverse applique is not a fast sport.  It’s a lot of slow, repetitive work.  Working with ivory embroidery floss, I began the work of backstitching around all 26 motifs.  I did all of this over 2 weeks a little bit at a time when I thought about it.  The bulk of it I did on a couple of weekend days while watching way more TV than is prudent.  After watching both series of Grantchester (beautiful costume work), some Doc Martin, Audrey Hepburn’s Sabrina (Givenchy was a genius!), McClintock and probably more that I’m forgetting, I powered through the stitching.

After the motifs were stitched, I pulled off the soil separator.  A hand needle perforates the soil separator well enough that you can pull it right off with little fuss.  With embroidery scissors, I cut around the inside of the leaves to expose the second layer of fabric (hence reverse applique).

Because of how the pockets are created, the lining fabric becomes the outside part of the pocket.  I like how the motifs change from the main body to the pocket with the applique.

reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

This is my first large scale venture with reverse applique, and it won’t be my last.  I’m especially encouraged to try this technique again after Bianca wrote about Terial Magic.  A wash out stabilizer that turns the knit into something as stable as a woven, this stuff would make much easier work of the reverse applique process!

What about you?  Have you ever done any reverse applique?


Shop update Winter 2016

I’ve been working on making more items for SEWN Denver, this time with a more winter focus.  Before I get to those, I have 2 of my skirts listed in my freshly updated Etsy shop.  Each are $47 plus shipping.  Items will ship in a USPS Priority small flat rate box.  I’ll be adding more items to my Etsy shop.  Watch for updates here and on my Instagram.


Ric Rac pocket floral skirt

Waist: 29.5, Hip: 36.5″



Ric Rac pocket floral skirt

Waist: 29.5, Hip: 36.5″




Green piped pockets floral skirt

Waist: 29.5, Hip: 36.5″

On to the new collection!

Winter collection dresses

For these dresses, I was looking for deeper colors and warmer fabrics with the classic silhouettes that I love.  Here we go:

Black and grey animal print velvet dress


With princess seams, turtleneck, and a nice swishy skater skirt, this is a great dress for holiday parties.  This is my favorite dress from the collection by far!  The velvet is so cozy to wear, yet it looks so elegant.

There is an invisible zip in the turtleneck, so it fits closely, but will easily slip over your head.  There’s silver buttons on the shoulder that pick up the cool sheen of the velvet, though I wasn’t able to get them in pictures given my limited photo time yesterday [insert sad face here].

Bust: 32″ Waist: 29″



Blue and green animal print colorblocked dress


This dress started its life as a taupe/grey dress.  The print was great, but the overall color was a bit dull.  After a quick bath in Rit Dye More, the rayon/poly/spandex now is a pretty green blue.  The contrast princess seam panels and sleeves are from an olive cotton/spandex turtleneck.  This dress also has an invisible zip in the turtleneck.

Bust: 35″, Waist: 32″


Brown suiting dress with large floral applique


This dress started as a 3 piece suit.  I used the pants for the bodice and the skirt for the skirt.  It is fully lined.

My favorite bit is the floral applique. I highlighted the lines of the flowers with contrast magenta stitching.  The silk belt hangs from thread loops on the side seams for a little pop of color.

Bust: 35″, Waist: 30″, Hips: 36.5″


Plaid Sweater Knit Dress


This sweater knit was so nice to work with.  It’s a nice thick polyester stable sweater knit.  If I had had more yardage to work with, it would have made a beautiful long cardigan.  As such, I think it worked up well into this kind of 60s inspired silhouette.  I think it will pair well with tights and boots.

Bust :38″, Waist: 33″

Dresses are $68.  All of these dresses are now at SEWN Denver.  The store is at 18 South Broadway, Denver, CO 80209
The store phone number is 303.832.1493

Let’s keep the conversation going!  Check out my sewing dreams and inspiration on Pinterest, and keep up to date on my projects on Instagram and Facebook.

[maxbutton id=”1″]

Last week, I mentioned some of the items I’ve made for SEWN Denver, and here is my collection of Elizabeth Made This T-shirts that are at SEWN Denver right now.  There’s a lot of mixed textiles in this collection.  True to my aesthetic of “artistic apparel”, the tees feature upcycled goods and vintage bits of fabric.  They’re all a great choice for unique fall tees.

T-shirts are $46.  Details and sizes are below.  If you’re visiting Denver, or if you live here, SEWN is located just a few blocks south of Fancy Tiger on 18 South Broadway, Denver, CO 80209.  The shop’s number is 303.832.1493 if you want to ask any questions.

The Collection!

Elizabeth Made This t-shirts

Navy and riverside tee with flame cheetah trim

Bust: 30″, Hem: 34″


Elizabeth Made This t-shirts

Blockprinted pinking shears red raglan tee

Bust: 34″, Hem: 39″

Elizabeth Made This t-shirts

Navy stripe toile leaf applique tee

Bust: 34″, Hem: 40″

Elizabeth Made This t-shirts

Elizabeth Made This t-shirts

Deep purple mustard lace tee

Bust: 36″, Hem: 40″


Elizabeth Made This t-shirts

Elizabeth Made This t-shirts

Mixed blues and brown floral applique tee

Bust: 31″, Hem: 36″

Elizabeth Made This t-shirts

Purple and taupe tee with gold applique

Bust: 37″, Hem: 42″

Elizabeth Made This t-shirts

Orange stripe floral applique tee

Bust: 37″, Hem: 42″

Elizabeth Made This t-shirts

Purple beaded and embroidered tee with navy racing stripe sleeves

Bust: 30″, Hem: 34″

Elizabeth Made This t-shirts

Purples, navy stripe and floral applique tee

Bust: 30″, Hem: 34

Let’s keep the conversation going!  Check out my sewing dreams and inspiration on Pinterest, and keep up to date on my projects on Instagram and Facebook.


applique trench coat

Vote here for my trench coat!

When the trench coat challenge this week for the a couple of things ran through my mind.  First, I thought about how much I love making jackets, then about how much work a jacket is, but mostly that I wasn’t expecting to make another trench coat so soon after my Jeanius Trench.  The upside is that I could start work immediately because my pattern had already been fitted and cut before.  An applique trench coat was in the works!

Vintage Vera Applique Trench Coat

One of the things that Fabric Mart wanted to see in the trench coats this week was our personal style.  My own style is a bit eclectic.  As a sewist, I love modern Euro patterns with lots of detail, but I also love embellishment techniques.  I grew up going to antique stores with my Mom.  We always called it (and still do) treasure hunting.  Because of her I have a serious appreciation for lace, other vintage textiles and accessories.

As an adult, I’ve become a collector of vintage table linens kind of for a really specific reason.  I’m a serious baker, and I often make strudel for my very German family.  I’m the 5th generation of strudel makers in my family, and one thing you need to make strudel is a proper tablecloth to stretch the dough out on.  One thing I noticed is that vintage tablecloths hold the flour better because of their slightly looser weaves.  Vintage tablecloth = better strudel–who knew?  Once I started collecting tablecloths, napkins soon followed.  I love the bright colors and funky prints of old table linens.  My Mom jokes that she often wears prints that look like wallpaper.  And I’m guilty quite literally of wearing the tablecloth.

One of my favorite linens designers is Vera Neumann.  She was a gifted painter who had the smart business sense to put her paintings on household linens and scarves and tablecloths en masse to make a decent living as an artist.  I love her sense of color and her bold illustrative mid century style.  If I see Vera, I snatch it up!  I had always intended to use these particular Vera linen napkins in a garment, but I didn’t really know exactly how to do so.

applique trench coat
One of my favorite tablecloths!

When it came to the challenge, it became clear that I’d add the flowers from the napkins to my trench coat.  This trench coat represents my love for super detailed sewing and vintage linens.  It’s pretty much exactly what I wanted to sew.

yoyo wristlet

Refashion Runway: Buttons

This week’s Refashion Runway theme is buttons.  I came up with this button yoyo wristlet.

The challenge of using buttons in refashioning proved to be more challenging than I initially thought it would be.  My original plan was to add buttons to a plain yellow cardigan I wear a lot or to make some kind of jewelry.  Ultimately, I decided that both of these would yield something that was more visually heavy than I was going for.

Buttons and yoyos

I’ve written before that I made a series of twin sized yoyo quilts before I had my machine.  I’ve always loved the texture of them and how the fabric is transformed when it is distorted into that little gathered circle.  So when I have off bits of fabric and time to spend hand sewing, I often make a few yoyos.  It’s my substitute for knitting or crocheting.

When I was thinking about this challenge, I had too many ideas.  I decided to go down to my sewing room and just look for materials.  I saw a jar of yoyos next to all my buttons, and I remembered that I had always wanted to make a little wristlet from yoyos.


These particular yoyos are made from a sample of Marimekko linen that I bought to see if I would like it as curtains.  Because I decided against the fabric as curtains, I felt no sting as I cut it up.  Out came my Olfa circle cutter and I got to work cutting and making yoyos.

yoyo wristlet

The linen’s vivid yellow and muted gray mixes well with the yellow, gold, and ochre buttons.  When you join yoyos together, there are naturally spaces between them.  You have a choice to back them, or leave them open.  As a purse, they really need a backing.  I pulled out this turquoise faille skirt.  I never wore it much after I made it since it was really just a kind of practice garment, so it was fair game for refashioning.

yoyo wristlet

I love the yellow against the turquoise.  It’s all daffodils and spring up in here.  The faille has the nicest hand and sews up so well.


I joined the yoyos together in 6 rows of 5.  Some face up, and some show the backside of each yoyo.  I hand stitched down the matrix to the faille with small backstitches around each yoyo.  It sounds like a lot of work, but it actually went quickly.  Because of all my practice at it, I’m really a fast hand sewist when it comes to yoyos.

After that, I cut around the yoyos, leaving a good border of faille so that the yoyos wouldn’t get caught in the seams of the bag.  I made a quick handle and a loop.  The loop and handle are joined with a metal ring salvaged from an old curtain I refashioned into an apron years ago.

The bag itself is just a simple zipper bag.  I added some heft to the faille by basting it to a scrap of canvas.  The lining is a bit of random cotton, and the handle/loop assembly is sandwiched in the side seam.

yoyo wristlet

Button sewing

Sewing on buttons is one of those tasks that I think most people don’t think about.  Usually the thought is: 4 holes, X shape, how fast can I sew on these buttons because I’m so over this project and want to wear my project.  But really, there’s a lot more possibility beyond the X.  These are some of my favorite variations for wearable garments:

yoyo wristlet

The arrow is probably my favorite.

For some button inspiration, I looked to this image from one of my Pinterest boards:

There are so many ways to sew on a button when making craft projects!:

On a bag, you can explore some of these stitches.  You can easily stitch on the outer edges of the buttons because there’s no need to leave the edges free so they can go in and out of buttonholes.   It’s a bit of decorative work that’s just satisfying to work on.

This yoyo wristlet ended up being the kind of quick fun project that started out with few expectations and became a study in materials and possibilities.

yoyo wristlet

Do you work on projects and just let your materials guide your plan?


Let’s keep the conversation going!  Check out my sewing dreams and inspiration on Pinterest, and keep up to date on my projects on Instagram and Facebook.

Bird tessalation dress: Elizabeth Made This

Have you completed a sewing dare?  How has it gone?  Did you learn anything new?
My sewing dare is done!  Gillian dared me to take on incorporating reverse applique into one of my garments. I present to you my:

Bird Tessalation Dress

I knew right away that I wanted to do something with Tilly and the Button’s Coco Dress.  I bought the pattern in December and really meant to get around to it all winter, but was never really got around to it.  I even had this lovely gold polka dot ponte fabric ready to go, but it just didn’t seem very interesting.  At the end of the day, it just seemed like it was going to be a neutral dress with no pizazz.  I really wanted to do this pattern justice, so I began to think of ways to add something to the polka dots.

I missed the boat with the Monthly Stitch Collective’s Put a Bird On It Theme last month, which I lamented as I saw Andie’s very fun bomber jacket.  I decided to make up for my latent creativity by putting a bird on my Coco in some way.

In thinking about birds, I got stuck thinking about the work of M.C. Escher, namely this tessalation:

M.C. Escher, Two Birds, 1938Image result for escher two birds

The last time I explored tessalations was in the self portrait I did in my 8th grade art class.

bird tessalation dress
To my 8th grade self…your face does actually get stuck that forever in a self portrait.

I backed it with a tessalation which I now think of as a cross between a ninja star and ponies.  Nothing like a pony ninja starred background to go with the classic junior high eyebrow raise.

bird tessalation dress

I quickly made up a bird tessalation piece with a post it and sketched it out on paper before experimenting with it on a scrap of my dress fabric.  I backed the sample with some peachy pink jersey, then traced the tessalation with a washable marker.

bird tessalation dress

After stitching around my tessalation lines, I cut out the interior of each bird, leaving a scant 1/4″ around each stitched line.  To keep everything flat, I stitched back over the cut borders as close to each edge as I could.

bird tessalation dress

I carved some lino stamps and balsa stamps to print some extra details to make the birds more birdlike, but I couldn’t get a clear impression on the soft jersey without using a marker (I had no fabric marker on hand), so I chose to handpaint the bird details when the time came.

The Coco came together very quickly.  It’s a very simple pattern, perfect for a beginner and a fantastic canvas for lots of creativity.  Other than the tessalation panel, I added a band of faux piping between the sleeves and the cuffs just for the hey of it.  If I hadn’t gone through the applique process, a finished Coco would take about 30 minutes of sewing time.  As it was, I made the dress up completely, leaving the left side seam only basted since I knew I wanted to wrap the tessalation panel from front to back.

Then I traced out my birds and unpicked the basted seam so that I could work on the panel in the flat.  I went through the same process as I did with my sample, but I added a layer of lightweight mesh knit under the jersey.  On my sample, I noticed that the jersey kept getting sucked down into my machine when I was going back and stitching the cut edges.  The mesh kept that from happening and it adds a little more opacity that would be lost by cutting away the polka dot fabric.  I’ve backed applique with mesh before on knits to good effect on this Lace Cuff Tee.

bird tessalation dress

When everything was stitched, cut, and restitched, I hand painted bird details with some screenprint ink.  I gave wings to some of the birds made from the selvage of the knit which had a crosshatch pattern on it that looked a little feathery.

bird tessalation dress

After the paint had dried, I set about matching the bird details across the side seam, which took some effort.  I’m pleased with how it worked out, and I’m glad to see that the birds fly cohesively as a flock from front to back.

bird tessalation dress bird tessalation dress

From start to finish, this was a fun sew.  I really really enjoy adding details to patterns not only to “make them my own,” but because I like trying out different techniques and seeing just what I can do with the materials that I have around me.


I’m loving this Coco, and the birds, though perhaps I’ll avoid Bodega Bay.

bird tessalation dress

My Coco review is here.

Elizabeth Made This

Let’s keep the conversation going!  Check out my sewing dreams and inspiration on Pinterest, and keep up to date on my projects on Instagram and Facebook.