My makes

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?

Sew Over It Penny dress

The light was filmy, and the woods around me positively technicolor.  Elaborate spider webs lay untouched and moss grew wild.  I half expected a gnome to jump out and yell, gotcha.  It was not the place that I first imagined my Sew Over It Penny dress in this rather tropical Lady McElroy fabric to take a walk, but a couple weeks back, as my husband and I explored The Haunted Wood at the Green Gables house on Prince Edward Island, that’s exactly what happened.

“Oh, Marilla, I wouldn’t go through the Haunted Wood after dark now for anything. I’d be sure that white things would reach out from behind the trees and grab me.” Chapter XX, Anne of Green Gables

Sew Over It Penny Dress in the Wilds of Canada

Sew Over It Penny dress

Okay, so it wasn’t that dramatic.  But still, it’s not everyday my handmade garments get to have such a moody backdrop.  Usually, the most common place my handmade garments find them is in the driver’s seat of my minivan with my crew to soccer practice in probably possibly in the form of my latest pair of crazy jams.

It’s pretty easy to see how these woods inspired L.M. Montgomery’s imagination as she wrote Anne of Green Gables.  It was too cool to get to take pictures in such a place–the inspiration itself for one of my favorite books of all time.  Dude–this dress?!  I wouldn’t wear puffed sleeves, but THIS dress!!!!!

“Anne took the dress and looked at it in reverent silence. Oh, how pretty it was–a lovely soft brown gloria with all the gloss of silk; a skirt with dainty frills and shirrings; a waist elaborately pintucked in the most fashionable way, with a little ruffle of filmy lace at the neck. But the sleeves–they were the crowning glory! Long elbow cuffs, and above them two beautiful puffs divided by rows of shirring and bows of brown-silk ribbon.” Chapter XXV, Anne of Green Gables

But let’s get into my dress itself.

Lady McElroy lawn

Sew Over It Penny dress

I was totally taken by this Lady McElroy lawn.  Last year I had seen Lauren Guthrie make it up into a project and instantly loved the peachy pinks. I may or may not have stalked this fabric for a while on about every website possible, trying to justify the price + the crazy expensive shipping from the UK.

As it turned out, Fancy Tiger stocks it which saved me a buttload in shipping plus the chance to see it in person.  This is really lovely fabric.  It’s crisp and has good structure, making for a proper popped collar, yet it has a hand that’s nearly as lovely as a silk cotton blend.  While it wasn’t cheap at $22/yd, this dress only took up 1 1/3 yds with my modification on the skirt.

Sew Over It Penny dress

Narrow that skirt, thread up a drawstring, that’s how we hack it

Just like on my shibori dress, I narrowed the skirt for this version of the Sew Over It Penny dress.  I think half circle skirts look great on other people, but they always feel like far too much fabric for my frame and height.  This slightly A-line skirt I added from my self-drafted pencil skirt is just the right amount of sweep at the hem for me on this one.

Sew Over It Penny dress

Because I’m like the Princess and the Pea with elastic, I added the drawstring.  To do so, I added 2 tiny buttonholes on either side of the center front at the bottom of the bodice.  The drawstring is threaded through the casing then.  A full elastic waist is perhaps the most uncomfortable thing to me, plus I love how a drawstring is a built-in belt and that I have the option of tightening or loosening it.  With a sewn-in elastic waist you don’t have that option, plus you’re probably adding a belt to add some waist definition.

Sew Over It Penny dress pattern review

Sew Over It Penny dress

In terms of the actual sewing of the dress, this is pretty easy sew.  There’s no darts or zippers, though there is a collar.  I think this would be appropriate for any beginning sewist who’s ready to tackle putting in a collar.  There’s no collar stand which requires more precise stitching, and the facing makes for a really clean inside.  Shoot, you could make it collarless and make it even easier.

The dress has a great silhouette to it, and I think there’s very few body types it wouldn’t work for.  Maybe consider narrowing the skirt if you’re petite like me.  Otherwise, this has a great classic look and super easy to style with a jacket, cardigan, tights, whatever!!

A better shoulder yoke

Sew Over It Penny dress

For all the loveliness of this pattern, I have a serious beef with the shoulder yoke.  For some reason, the directions would have you leave all of the seam allowances just serged/zigzagged off on the inside.

Sew Over It Penny dress
How would you sew it: Per the pattern directions (left) or with a clean finish burrito style (right)?

A clean-finish yoke like what you’d see on the inside of a RTW men’s shirt is SOOOOOOO much nicer and really doesn’t require a whole lot more in terms of the construction.  Sometimes rough inside finishes get the job done quickly, and that’s totally okay.  In this instance, why you would choose to skip a clean finish is a mystery.

Sew Over It Penny dress

But that’s one of those things.  Sometimes you follow the directions to the T and you move on.  On the other hand, when you’ve done something a certain way, you have an opinion about it.  If you like the way to construct something better than what’s in the pattern directions, make it the way you like.  The pattern police won’t come and get you!

That’s my thoughts for the Sew Over It Penny dress and my walk in the woods, but I’m curious:

Are you a follow-the-instructions type, or do you go your own way when you sew?



sew over it lulu dress

There’s been so much feet dragging with my Make 9 this year, and the Sew Over It Lulu dress has been partly to blame.  I saw the lack of darts and waist shaping and thought there was no chance it’d work on my pear shaped self.  Guess what?  I was totally wrong.

Sew Over It Lulu dress

The specs

sew over it lulu dress

An awesome pattern for beginners

There’s no zippers or buttons or darts to sew in this pattern!  What?  What a rare bird among woven dress patterns!  I have a friend who’s terrified of buttonholes and zippers of all kinds, so this pattern would be perfect for her.

And because there’s none of these things, this dress sews up pretty quickly.  The only thing that might be intimidating for a beginner is the facing for the keyhole.  But the instructions are good on this point.

Can you hack it?

sew over it lulu dress

As far as pattern hacking goes, there’s a couple of good options.  You could use a contrasting color on the sleeves for a little colorblocking.  You could even take off the sleeves entirely, bind the sleeve holes with bias and make a tie neck as a neck binding for a summer halter.

For me, I used this striped cotton shirting from Cali Fabrics.  The stripes are actually 60 degrees to the straight grain, so while it looks like I put the stripes on the bias, they’re actually on the straight grain.  Sneaky… To get the alternating stripes, I didn’t cut the front and back on the fold.  Instead, I cut 2 fronts and added a seam at CF and CB so I could alternate the pattern.  It took some time to cut this right so that the stripe matching could work.  I even managed to mess up the right side on one of my sleeves and had to take it apart and re-sew it.  Still, it wasn’t too bad since this is a pretty simple pattern.

Styling for a better fit

Because there aren’t any darts and this has a pretty loose waist, I think Lulu could benefit from some extra styling.  I myself am a pear shape (A shape!), and without any waist definition, I do not feel particularly polished.  You might find yourself in the same position if you have more of an hourglass (you lovely X shapes!) silhouette.  So what do you do dear?

#1 Grab a belt or a scarf

sew over it lulu dress

Cinching loose waists is not a cure all, but in this case, it really does help.  I tried a pashmina and a simple fabric belt and liked both.


#2 Try an asymmetric cowl sweater

sew over it lulu dress

This is a style you might not be able to find, but an asymmetric cowl sweater is easily crocheted.  I bought mine from a woman in Sew Much Talent, but check out this tutorial if you crochet or this quick sweater refashion from See Kate Sew.  The asymmetry adds a little more waist definition to the Lulu, and it’s a good addition for layering for the coming cooler months.

Mine is open on the sides, so I’m holding it together with a kilt pin!

#3 Jackets make everything better

sew over it lulu dress

Name one outfit a jacket doesn’t make better.  I paired my very tough looking Rose Tyler jacket for a purple explosion.  Any other jacket or even a cardigan would work well too.  For me, my shoulders get lost in the raglan sleeves, so the jacket helps me remember where they are.  Plus, it’s cool.  Wear a jacket.  Look cool.  The end.

My life as a Sew Over It newbie

sew over it lulu dress


I know Sew Over It has been popular for a good long while now, and I finally get it.  Cute styles, easy sewing, and at the end of the day you feel pretty great.  While this won’t be my go-to pattern, it was good to try something outside of my style comfort zone and explore how to make it work for my body type.

sew over it lulu dress

Have you tried the Sew Over It Lulu or another Sew Over It pattern?  How did it go?


spring mini-capsule wardrobe

There’s snow on the ground, but I’ve been slowly making some inroads into some much needed Spring sewing.  After The Day and Night Dress Challenge, my family and I all came down with a really nasty fever, hence my absence here.  Getting back to health and strength has taken some time, but here are my pink jeans and ivory tee that’s part of my Spring mini-capsule wardrobe.

Spring Mini-Capsule Wardrobe: pink jeans and ivory tee

spring mini-capsule wardrobe

I never really intend to go about sewing capsule wardrobes.  Projects that sound interesting to me, or fabrics that are exciting to work with will always take priority in my work over embracing the minimalist nature of a capsule.  When I’ve made capsules in the past, even after meticulously working out all of the various combinations, everything ends up feeling like varying shades of same.

That being said, I always try to make sure that any separates that I’m making don’t end up as wardrobe orphans.  This combination is a good example of that.


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Pink jeans

spring mini-capsule wardrobe

Unadorned jeans are not usually how I roll.  After a frustrating round of fitting with the Otsu jeans, I just wanted to make a pair of jeans that fit.  I turned to my trusty Ottobre 5-2014-19 skinny jeans pattern.

All of my jeans are wearing out.  My two most heavily worn pairs, the giraffe sateen skinny jeans and my side buttoned Jalie 2908s are literally on their last legs.  It was good to make up a quick pair from one of my favorite patterns in this peachy pink stretch cotton from Colorado Fabrics.  The fit is pretty lived in and not perfect, but sewing up a fast pair of jeans was definitely more important to me than getting ultra picky about every last little wrinkle, especially given how much this cotton wrinkles all on its own volition.

Back gap

I’m starting to believe that most women have to deal with back gap in their jeans.  I don’t have no sway back and genetics has dealt me a rather flat-ish backside, and still there’s always a back gap.  Given the 7M hits you get when you Google “jeans back waist gap”, I don’t think I’m alone on this one.

For conquering the gap, I love a good contoured waistband.  For years, I’ve been using a contoured waistband from a Burda pattern that fit me really well and taking it with me to every other pants pattern I use.  This particular stretch cotton had more stretch than I anticipated.  As such, I still had a back gap even with my altered, much loved contoured waistband.  Maybe it’s time to reevaluate that one…

Darts, smoke and mirrors

To fix the back waist gap, I added two 1/2″ darts when my gappiness tends to hang out–about 4″ on either side of CB.  To disguise the darts, I centered a belt loop right over the darts.  It’s not a perfect solution, but I never wear belts or tuck in my tops.  For the added comfort of a pant that’s not drifting forever downwards, I will take that little bit of messiness that 0% of people will see.

Fringe makes it better, especially if it’s lazy fringe

spring mini-capsule wardrobe

My only real embellishment on this pair of jeans is some fringe trim under the edges of the pockets.  I call it lazy fringe because it’s actually the selvage which had a nice little fringed edge to it.  No needles and pulling threads were required here as in other fringed projects like this dress or this cardigan.  I cut 1/2″ strips of the selvage and fused them to the underside of the pocket with Steam-a-Seam before topstitching the pockets down.

A fun clothespin print makes up the fly shield and pocket bags because it went so well with the pink.

spring mini-capsule wardrobe

Ivory top: Valentine & Stitch Cassandra dress hack

spring mini-capsule wardrobe

This ivory top was my muslin for my coffee dress.  I wanted to work out the back keyhole and also the width of the sleeve flounce.

On this version, I cut the sleeve flounce 1.5″ wide.  I think it’s a good scale for a top, but I widened it on my coffee dress for a little more drama.  I got this ivory cotton yarn stripe knit from Cali Fabrics store in San Francisco a couple years back.  It’s plain to be sure, but it’s soft and a great fabric for Spring as it adds a little warmth in long sleeves but doesn’t trap in heat either.  I love layering tees like this.

spring mini-capsule wardrobe

Creating a cohesive wardrobe with color

spring mini-capsule wardrobe

Color just might be the best weapon in creating a wardrobe that works.  You’d be amazed at how seemingly disparate silhouettes and styles can suddenly make sense together when they employ a similar color palette.

spring mini-capsule wardrobe

I’m utterly determined to pair my faux fur motorcycle vest with everything in my closet.  The contrast of the aqua against the peachy pink is totally my style. The matching hat was definitely a bonus on this cold, windy first day of Spring when I took these pictures.

spring mini-capsule wardrobe

One of the things I love about using a color palette is being able to go way back in time in my closet and find some older makes to pair with some of my newer projects.  I’m starting to think that this might be a good way for me to challenge myself with Me Made May this year.  This gold rose cardigan made a comeback in this outfit.  I’m pretty sure I had forgotten all about it which is a shame because I’ve always enjoyed wearing it!

How about you?  Are you a capsule wardrobe believer, or do you approach outfit making more casually?