Pattern hacking


So today is the first day of the Day and Night Dress Challenge.  You may start linking up your projects here between today, January 8th and the 28th.  To kick things off, I’m posting my projects.  I made a video even with an intro!  And I found MusOpen to add a little music to the video, which means, I’m totally spending way more time than necessary listening to obscure classical works.  Oh, my happy nerd heart.

Day and Night Dress Challenge: Elizabeth Made This

dress challenge

Day look

I love day dresses!  If I’m not in jeans, I’m wearing a dress, and probably it’s a knit dress.  I love how easy it is to don a dress, throw on a few accessories, a great pair of boots and be done.

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For this project, I had a piece of Art Gallery fabric that I bought from Hawthorne Threads.  I’ve been wanting to try out Art Gallery knits for some time, and this fabric did not disappoint.  The cotton/spandex knit is very soft with vibrant color.  It also has more recovery than a lot of cotton spandex knits.  For those of you that struggle with wavy hems on cotton knits, this fabric will not do this.  The only thing that was tricky about it is that the edges curl up.  After you add fusible interfacing to the hem, the curling stops, and it’s very easy to get a crisp hem on this fabric.

Patternreview Winter Street Dress

I had such a great time with Patternreview’s Lillian dress, that I wanted to try out the Winter Street Dress for my day look.  I like the sleeve flounces which are super trendy at the moment, and I realized that I have no current knit dress patterns with a bodice and a skirt.  All of my knit dress patterns right now have no waist seam.  How does that happen?

I graded down the neck and shoulders 1 size to fit.  I’m slowly learning that it’s not difficult to grade patterns.  I’ve done it for years on my Burda patterns, but I’ve been hesitant to do so with PDF patterns for no particular reason.  I think I’ve been overly worried that I would have to start from square 1 with fitting.  Not so!  I compared the dress to others that I’ve made, and I altered it in short order.

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I made a small addition of pockets in the skirt that I bound with foldover elastic.  The bulk of the pockets forced me to move the pleats closer to CF.

As much as I love the sleeve flounces, I like to push up my sleeves when I’m eating and cooking.  Otherwise, I’m definitely the girl who dips her arm in ketchup.  I wanted a sleeve with a flounce that could be full or not so full.  My solution? Zippers!dress challenge

A zippered flounce

To create the zippered flounces on the sleeves, I decided how much I wanted the sleeve to close.  After marking that, I sewed the zipper tape to the flounces in an inverted V.  The seam is then closed up behind the zipper.  The zippers function as a dart.  When the zipper is open, the flounce is at its fullest.  When the zipper is closed up, the excess fullness is gathered beneath the zipper.

dress challenge

dress challenge

I really like the variability that the zipper offers, and they add a nice decorative touch.  Speaking of decorative touches, I added some more with embroidery.

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Doodle stitching

If you follow Jen Hewett on Instagram, you know that she sometimes adds embroidery to her beautiful blockprints.  She calls these #warmupstitches, and I love the dimension that the embroidery adds to print.  It reminds me of adding shading with pen and ink drawings.  It’s a different way to look at coloring; you’re just using thread and a needle vs. markers or pencils.

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For my embroidery, I used a marker to block off areas on the fronts and backs where a side princess seam might be.  Next, I extended the lines of the faux princess seams down into the pocket areas.  Within the boundaries of this, I alternated between broken stitched wheels and full wheels.  There’s lots of other possibilities for stitching inside of a circle, but I kept things simple since I had already created a focal point with the sleeves.

Overall, I’m really pleased with this dress, and I can’t wait to put it to work in my wardrobe.

dress challenge

Night look

For all of the fun and joy in my day look, my night dress is rather austere.  I’ve needed to have a plain black dress for performing with my violin for some time.  Because my dress is plain, I decided to add two pieces in an overlay skirt and a bolero jacket.  I knew I wanted to use a knit for this dress and a full skirt.  Knit fabrics allow for freedom of movement in my upper back that’s really necessary to avoid pain while playing and rehearsing for long periods of time.


I chose a lightweight poly sweater knit that I bought with my Fabric Mart winnings for the dress.  When talking about the contest, Julie generously offered to send me some fabric.  This abstract dots lace immediately popped out for me.  Lace is about my favorite fabric to work with, so I did not hesitate at the chance to add some to this project.  The lace is the perfect fabric for the little overlay skirt and the bolero.

Jalie Bella dress

Jalie’s Bella dress is a great choice for a concert dress.  I love the elegant lines of this pattern, and the flared skirt is precisely what I need for playing.  Full skirts allow for comfort since violinists often have to sit in a less than ladylike manner while playing.  This helps give your body a wide base of support for playing for long periods of time.  People don’t really realize that being a musician is to be in a way an endurance athlete, and we have to do everything to avoid pain and injury so that we can keep going.  I’ve played in everything from pants to really narrow pencil silhouettes, and I really prefer wide skirts.  Narrow skirts leave you crossing your ankles leading to lower back pain after 3 hours of playing in the same position.  Ask me how I know.

I went with a cap sleeve.  I thought about a long sleeve, but I figured a shorter sleeve would make for a 4 seasons dress.  When I’m wearing this in colder months, then I will add a cardigan, or possibly the bolero.

dress challenge

I kept the length of the dress long, but next time I will shorten it more than the 3/4″ I already took off at the hem.  The upper back on the pattern dips quite low.  I raised it enough to make sure I wouldn’t have to fiddle with it while playing (ha!), but enough to still keep the idea of the scoop neck.

Leotard lining

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This pattern comes with an optional leotard lining that you attach in the armholes.  This is totally a bonus pattern.  My knit really needed some kind of a lining, but a full lining would be too heavy on such a full skirt.  The leotard adds the right amount of opacity with minimal bulk.  I will definitely be using the leotard for a stand-alone bodysuit that I can wear with skirts.

One thing I learned about my body while making the leotard is that I need to lengthen the torso slightly.  At 5’2.5″, you wouldn’t think that I’d need length anywhere, but I am definitely relying on the stretch of the knit to get all the way around me to attach the snaps.  The snaps are Kam snaps.  I have plenty of them leftover from making booties for my daughter.  I’m curious to see how secure they are vs. metal snaps.  The edges of my leg bindings are not as neat as I’d like.  I didn’t have any black picot elastic, so I went for the purple FOE.

The best thing about this dress?  This dress was made for twirling!

Overlay skirt

dress challenge

My overlay skirt was inspired by this Butterick pattern that I’ve had for a number of years.  I love the look of the full gathered skirt overlay in lace on top the slim wiggle dress, but the bulk would be too much for this project.  The Bella dress, with it’s full skirt would’ve looked ridiculous with a gathered overlay. Perhaps I’ll take this pattern on for real some day.  This time, I took the inspiration of the pattern and opted for a circle skirt as the overlay.

dress challenge

dress challenge

From my waist to the hem is about 28″ on the dress, so I drafted a 14″ circle skirt.  I cut it out of the lace and then I underlined with vanilla tricot.  I had wanted to back the lace with black, but the dots pattern would not show up against black.  Something about the mesh of the pattern makes it disappear entirely.  Because it’s not backed in black, I don’t know that I’ll be able to perform wearing the overlay (or the bolero for that matter).  Concert black is just that, but I think either piece will work elsewhere in my wardrobe.

dress challenge

I opted for foldover elastic as a waistband because it’s minimal and easy to sew.  A white invisible zipper is a better solution as a black zipper would show through the tricot.  The pull got a pain job with nail polish.  I sincerely hate the pokey parts of invisible zippers, so I sewed a zipper guard from Petersham ribbon behind the zipper.  To finish, a tiny snap holds the waistband together at the top of the waistband.

There’s two rows of black velvet ribbon at the hem that I added for some decoration.  It’s amazing that though this is a wee tiny skirt, it took the better part of 4 yards of ribbon to go around the skirt twice!

Vintage bolero

dress challenge

The bolero pattern is a 1953 Vogue pattern.  I bought it years ago when Gertie was working her way through all of the Vogue patterns for her blog.  This isn’t the bolero pattern that she used, but it’s from the same era, and it’s very similar.  I’ve avoided it because I wasn’t sure about the size; nay, I avoid all vintage patterns because of just being available in 1 size.

Still, the size 30 bust is not a crazy size for me.  My full bust is 31″, and it’ll go down a bit when I stop nursing in a few months.  After making up a muslin, all I needed to do was reduce the seam allowance at CB to 3/8″.  That extra 1/2″ ensures that the back doesn’t pull.

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This time, I backed the lace with white linen.  It is heavier weight than most linens, making it perfect for a little jacket like this.  The lining is bagged through one of the sleeves for a nice clean finish.

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I really like the vintage feel of this ensemble.  This outfit could easily go full vintage with this look with a pair of black satin gloves and a fascinator of sorts.  Perhaps if I’m not playing in this getup, I’ll go to my next opera performance in it!  I think the drama of this ensemble would go well with Tosca!

dress challenge

Keep reading with the Day and Night Dress Challenge Blog Tour Schedule:

Sunday, Jan 8th: Elizabeth of Elizabeth Made This, Brittany of Brittany J Jones

Monday, Jan 9th:  Maria of How Good is That?,  Tonya of Sew So Petite

Tuesday, Jan 10th: Je’Tua of Robertswife, Meg of Cookin’ and Craftin’, Melanie of Its Melanie Darling

Wednesday, Jan 11th:  Linda of Elle Gee Makes, Tee of Maggie Elaine

Thursday, Jan 12th: Bianca of Thanks I Made Them, Daniela of On the Cutting Floor

Friday, Jan 13th:  Melissa of Mahlicadesigns, Rachel of Sew Redy, Renata of Runnningnstyle, Sonja of Sewing ala Carte

Saturday, Jan 14th: Doja of Elewa blog, Judith of Judith Dee’s World, Tanya of Mrs. Hughes

Don’t forget to enter your day and night looks into the community challenge for a chance to win prizes from these wonderful sponsors:

You can enter your projects here.  Only projects that are entered through the linkup will be eligible for voting.

The linkup is available from Sunday, January 8th until Saturday, January 28th.  

Voting will be available on the entry page from January 29th-February 4th.  After all of the sponsors have been notified, the winners will be announced.

Vote for my entry here!

It’s the finals in Fabric Mart’s Fabricista Fashion Challenge, and this week is called “Find your inner designer.”  The goal is to make a look that could theoretically fit into a designer’s collection, with the added caveat that the resulting garment(s) should fit into your lifestyle.  There is, after all a whole lotta crazy on the runways. 

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clockwise from upper left: Balmain pastel aqua, Balmain pastel pink and blue, Miu Miu lace collar, Miu Miu strong vertical lines in velvet, Miu Miu highly textured skirt plus cardigan, Miu Miu faux fur sleeves with tabs

The search for my inner designer took me to the Fall 2016 runway shows of Balmain and Miu Miu.  I’ve always loved Balmain’s denim, but I was drawn to this show because of the color.  As a person who looks best in lighter colors, I love the light airy hues of this show.  I’ve never understood why it is that pastel shades are reserved for Spring and Summer in the fashion world.  Yay for Balmain and others for challenging that.

This season, a lot of designers used a lot of highly textured fabrics in their collections.  Miu Miu was my favorite.  There are velvets, wools, faux furs, laces, tapestry all combined into highly layered looks.  For me, layering is what fall is about.  Our average temperatures can range from snow to the high 70s with everything in between.  With so much variance, having clothes that can be easily layered keeps me prepared.  My look combines the candy colors of Balmain with the textured fabrics of Miu Miu into this velvet top, wool cardigan, and jacquard jumper dress.

Velvet Top

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For this top, I copied a Banana Republic cashmere blend sweater I’ve owned for several years.  It has cap sleeves, a scoop neckline + a turtleneck that is tied so that one side of the neck drapes.  I love the style so much, and really, I’ve always intended to copy it.  I slashed and spread the neckline of my t-shirt pattern’s front to get the gathers.  The turtleneck is a 21″ X 14″ rectangle sewn into a tube that’s a giant neck binding.  The tie piece is 15″ X 3″ sewn into a tube and tapered at the ends.

Working with velvet

The velvet for this top came from a nice quality throw blanket I’ve used for guests.  It’s stretch velvet on one side and faux fur on the other.  Velvet can be really visually heavy due to the fact that it absorbs light.  Because of that and because I’ve only ever seen stretch velvets in the dark jewel tones that don’t look the best on me, I’ve never worked with stretch velvet.  But this velvet IS one of my colors!  The only problem with sewing with velvet is that you have to sew with velvet.  And velvet is quite a demanding lady.

When I cut the pieces for my top, the velvet curled up completely…like Shirley Temple curls.  Pins are useless with velvet; they leave holes in it and do not help with the creep factor.  Because of velvet’s pile, when two layers of it are together, they will fight against each other and feed at drastically uneven rates.  I once made a set of velvet floor pillows and discovered that it is actually possible to cut 2 rectangles of fabric the same size and end up with one seam 4″ longer than the other.  To tame the curling and the creep factor, every single seam was hand basted within the seam allowance.  I used an extra-fine beading needle so as not to damage the velvet.  When hand-basted, the seams sewed up really quite easily.

The fabric was so drapey and slippery, that I had to hold the neckline gathers into place while sewing even though I had hand-basted the seam so they didn’t slip out entirely.

I had to make a tiny buttonhole on the turtleneck piece that the tie threads through.  There’s a layer of lightweight sew-in interfacing between the layers of velvet, and the velvet layers were sandwiched between 2 layers of tissue paper.  The paper keeps the velvet moving under the feed dogs and protects the fabric from the friction of the buttonhole foot.

Sort of bagging a knit top lining



I chose to line the top for a clean finish and to cut down on the “show every lump and bump” factor.  The technique I used is similar to bagging a jacket lining because you end up sewing everything backwards and inside out.

  1. To do this, I cut a front and back from stretch mesh 1″ shorter on the hem than the velvet.
  2. Sew the shoulder seams only.
  3. Then you sew the right side of the neck’s lining to the wrong side of the top’s neckline towards the neck so that when you flip  it, it rolls towards the body of the garment covering the neck seam entirely.
  4. After that, the right side of the lining to the wrong side of the sleeve seams on the side towards the sleeve.  Don’t sew completely around the sleeve.  Leave the bottom of the lining’s armscye unsewn the amount of your seam allowance to allow for when you sew the side seams.  The lining will cover the raw seams when you turn it right side out inside the top.
  5. To finish installing the lining, bring the wrong sides of the side seams together and sew.  Leave the lining hanging free or enclose it in the garment’s hem as I did here.

The hem stitches are hidden in the mesh.  I sewed the sleeve hems with the beading needle, keeping them as invisible as was possible.

Wool Cardigan

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Pattern and fabric

A lot of the looks in the Miu Miu show used sweaters and jackets with faux fur cuffs on extra long sleeves.  A lot of those cuffs were gathered up slightly with sleeve tabs.  I really love the texture of those, so I decided to incorporate those elements into a wool cardigan.  I’m using a blush Italian wool pointelle sweater knit I bought from Emma One Sock 3 years ago.  The pattern is Burdastyle 3-2013-107.  This pattern is a v-neck cardigan with front bands that are gathered along the fronts.

I made this pattern a while back, and the original sweater has too much length in the front bands.  Out came 1.5″ in the band and I also took out 1.5″ divided between 2 darts in the front that taper to zero at the armscye.  I’m not sure what this alteration is, but clearly, there was fullness there that didn’t need to be there.  The bands and the upper chest now sit nice and flat.

Cuffs and buttons

To add the faux fur cuffs, I cut the sleeves 3″ shorter than usual.  I drafted a quick cuff pattern that takes up the missing length, and I made it slighter wider than the sleeve.  The extra width is needed because the faux fur doesn’t stretch as much as the wool.

I also made cover buttons for the front with the velvet.  There’s a layer of the same mesh lining I used for the velvet top in each button for opacity.  I could not make buttonholes in the fronts because of the narrow bands and the loft of the knit.  Instead, I opted to sew the velvet buttons as decoration and use snap tape on the inside for a closure.  I hand dyed the snap tape so it wasn’t so stark white.


Button tabs

The button tabs have 2 layers of the knit and a layer of fusible interfacing.  I cut them from a quick pattern piece I made up.  I topstitched each tab to add the tailored look that the Miu Miu pieces have.  They’re sewn into the wrong side of each sleeve where the cuff and the sleeve meet.  Then they fold up over the top of each sleeve to fasten with a button a little above the cuff.

Removable collars


A lot of the Miu Miu looks employ contrasting collars.  Some of them are lace, some knitted, some velvet, and all of them create another layer of texture.  I made 2 removable collars I can use to add or remove texture to my look.  One is from the faux fur from the cuffs.  There are tiny elastic loops between the fur and the lining that hold the collar in place.  The elastic fastens around 7 buttons sewn to the inside neckline of the cardigan.

The second collar I made from a vintage lace collar from my Grandmother-in-law’s stash.  The lace had a tiny strip of netting meant for you to sew the collar into a neck seam.  I sewed 2 pieces of bias tape around the netting to make a collar stand.  The elastic loops are sewn between the layers of bias tape.

I really like that I can get multiple looks from the same sweater by adding one of the collars.  The faux fur also adds a layer of warmth for cooler days, and the lace is good for warmer days.

Jaquard Jumper Dress

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In my research for this challenge, I came across the current trend of jumper dresses.  Who knew?  I was pretty excited about this.  I’m a Mom of 4, and my youngest is nursing.  Dresses are tough for me to wear because there’s so many styles that are not nursing-friendly.  My solution in the past has been to wear separates.  Still, I love wearing dresses.  Jumper dresses allow for easy access while still allowing you to wear an actual dress.  They also solve another problem for me.

Being a violinist, I need freedom for my shoulders to move.  I end up wearing knits 95% of the time that I’m playing and most of the time that I’m not for this reason.  Woven fabrics just don’t move as easily.  I’m prone to injury in my upper back from this specific overuse of those muscles, so I have to be careful that I don’t wear any fabrics or styles that confine my movement too much.  The jumper dress lets me still move around while being able to wear an actual woven fabric.


Pattern and fabric

For my jumper dress, I used BWOF 2-2008-112 which is a princess seam jumper with an empire bust and pocket flaps at the in-seam pockets.  To incorporate the texture I was aiming for from the Miu Miu inspiration, I chose this pattern jacquard and more of the velvet from the turtleneck for the trim.  A lot of the Miu Miu pieces incorporated velvet or satin in strong vertical design lines.  The princess lines gave me the opportunity to use the same kind of vertical lines in my dress with the trim.

There are more velvet cover buttons on the pocket flaps and the button tabs.


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I cut strips of the velvet and folded each in half lengthwise.  Hand basting holds each piece of trim together.  After making each piece of trim, more hand basting attaches each line of trim to the jacquard.  The trim on the button tabs comes to mitres in the corners.  I used a beading needle to tack down the trim to the body of the dress.  As I was doing this, I tried to catch just the bottom layer of the velvet.

The hem is a blind hem I sewed on my machine.



I shortened the hem by 1.75″ for a better proportion.  Just like with my sheath dress, there’s a series of small alterations I did to make the armhole smaller for my petite frame.  I took out:

  1.  1/2″ dart I rotated out of the back armhole to make the armhole slightly smaller and also take out the back gaping.
  2. I took in the side seams 1″ at the bottom of the armhole.  This is a dart effectively that tapers back to the seamline at the bottom of the empire waist.
  3. The front straps are shortened by 1″ and button tabs are shortened by 1.5″

Definitely this week was a challenge, but I’m so grateful to have made it to the finals, and I’m glad I was able to complete my goals for this week!

You can check out the other entries and vote for mine at the Fabric Mart Blog.

Vote for my entry here!


This week’s challenge is to “Show some love” to an item in our closets that we don’t wear as much as we could.  To do this we were to sew 2 different pieces that can separately coordinate with the unworn item.  My answers to this challenge are this floral sheath dress and geometric hem tunic.

My unloved item is this tan knitted Cabi bolero jacket.  I picked it up in a consignment store when I was pregnant with my 3rd son.  At the time, I thought I’d wear it often due to the fact that bolero jackets by nature don’t approach my then expanding tummy.  I loved the flower embellishment, and the tan color is just about my perfect neutral color.

In practice, I never could figure out how to wear this jacket.  Every dress I tried to pair it with resulted in a really boring color combination or created an odd silhouette.  I also tried pairing it with knit tops.  Most of my knit tops have 3/4-length sleeves.  Somehow, the combination of a cap sleeve and ¾ length sleeve ended up visually shortening my already short arms.  The end result was awkward.  Still, I’ve always hung onto this jacket, in hopes that I’d figure out how to wear it another time.  My style solutions are this geometric hem tunic and floral sheath dress.

Geometric Hem Tunic


A couple of years ago, I bought a ready to wear tunic.  It features this really cool seaming in the front and back that flare out into a geometric hem.  I love the lines of this top, but it is at least 4 sizes too big for me and not a good color on me.  It’s always been my goal to modify my TNT t-shirt pattern into something very much like this tunic.

To do this, I traced off a fresh copy of my t-shirt pattern (which is Jalie 2921 minus the v-neck and scarf collar, plus the scoop neck of an Ottobre t-shirt).  Then, I set my t-shirt pattern over the tunic and traced off the style lines.  The tunic was meant for someone with a larger body circumference, but also someone much taller than me.  At 5’2.5”, tunics are always a little tricky; they’re usually too long, and I can wear them as dresses.

To get the style lines in a better place for me, I raised the points where the seams intersected.  I looked at the points where the lines crossed and  hit the side seams proportionally to the length of the original tunic then transferred that to my own proportionally shorter pattern.  I also took in the waist considerably.  Trying to fit my waist without losing the draping, flared side seams was a bit of a challenge.  In the end, I came up with side seams that kept the effect of the original tunic without leaving me swimming in fabric.


Mixing knits

I took the majority fabric for this top from a RTW striped cotton/rayon/spandex t-shirt.  The weight of this knit is great for a fall/winter tee.   Since I had limited yardage to work with, I chose two other knits to coordinate with the stripe: a tan cotton poly jersey, and a peachy pink stretch lace.  Mixing knits is one of my favorite things in making t-shirts.  One tip for mixing knits is to make sure that the knits are of similar weight and stretch.  This way the knits will sew together easily, and you’ll get smooth, pucker-free seams.


The lace sections are underlined with the tan jersey.  First, I cut out the pattern pieces from the tan jersey.  After that, I overlaid the jersey pieces with the lace and hand basted around the perimeter of the pieces.  Then cut lace edges even with the jersey and treat the two fabrics as one.

Lace is also added over the left sleeve.  When I had sewn the front to the back as well as the sleeve seams, I noted the height where the lace from the bottom front would hit the sleeve horizontally when the t-shirt was finished.  Then I made a quick pattern piece by modifying my sleeve pattern so that it continues the seam line on the lace.  I like how the lace has a different look when backed with the stripe vs. the jersey.

I played around with the stripes a little bit by cutting the neck binding on the bias.  The striped section on the back also runs verticallyThis stripe knit has 4-way stretch, so I knew that turning it as I pleased would not affect the fit because of the additional stretch.

To construct the top, I used my sewing machine and a zigzag stitch to finish.  I usually serge all of my knit tops, but with the lace, I wanted a more delicate finish.

I’m really happy with how the bolero works with the long sleeve.  Also, because the colors of the bolero are actually in the colors of the knit top, I think they harmonize really well together.

clockwise: welt pockets, tricot lining, rtw tunic vs. me-sized tunic, zigzag seam finish

Floral Sheath Dress




For my second coordinate, I chose Ottobre 2-2009-17.  It’s a lined sheath dress.  I chose this pattern because the floral print does not get broken up by any horizontal seams on the front or back.

For this dress, I used nice midweight cotton batik I had in my stash.  The full lining is brown tricot.  This pattern has 4 neckline pleats which I secured with invisible hand stitches.  There’s so many darts on this pattern!  Between the lining, facing, and the fashion fabric, there’s 20 darts to sew!



At the outset, I have to mention that I’m petite.  I’m not only shorter than average, but my frame is quite narrow.  Typically, I avoid a lot of alterations by grading down the neck and shoulders of all patterns at least one size to a size 32 in European patterns and various sizes in other patterns.  I also have to shorten hems and sleeves.  These two alterations I do immediately, without question, but sometimes I encounter a more challenging fit problem.  Though this is a simple dress in theory, the sleeveless armhole took me a long time to get right.


I’m short proportionally between my shoulder and my bust, so sleeveless armholes always have too much circumference.  The end result is that the armholes dip down too low and my bra shows.  Not exactly a classy look, and it’s really uncomfortable.

I didn’t have time this week to make a muslin for this dress as I would normally to check the armhole.  Instead, I found myself reverse-engineering the fit to get what I needed.  Ultimately, I think I ended up with a better fit than the times I’ve tried to conquer sleeveless armholes.

Making a smaller armhole after cutting

To make the armhole smaller (which in turn raises the armhole to an appropriate level), I took out 2″ from the bottom of the armhole, tapering down to zero 3.25″ below into the side seam.  There was a little excess fabric in the bust, so I could confidently take out what I needed in the side seam without ending up with an unwearable dress.

The back armhole also was gaping a little, so I pinned out 5/8″ from the back armhole edge.  Not wanting to have a visible dart in the back armhole, I rotated this excess out into the shoulder seam.  The excess taken out tapers to zero at the back shoulder’s neck edge.

Usually I do horizontal folds out of the front and back and the sleeve if I need to “petite” a pattern, but this raises the neckline.  Since the neckline depth was already at a height I liked, I was glad to have discovered an armhole alteration that not only doesn’t affect the neckline, but one that I could change after the fact.  There’s some pieces of RTW in my closet that I’m totally pulling out and fixing with these alterations!

Extra features

The pattern did not have any pockets, so I added 2 single welt pockets on the front.

I also added a vent in the back so that I could walk around with ease.

I really like how the color of the bolero picks up the browns in the floral print.  Silhouette-wise, I think the jacket and the dress work really well together too.  Though it’s a sleeveless dress, this will be a good transition piece for me into fall.  Our falls tend to stay warm for a long time.  I can always add a layering tee under the dress for an extra bit of warmth if needed.

I loved making both of these garments!  Now I have 2 pieces to combine with a jacket I’ve always wanted to wear!

You can check out the other participants’ entries and vote for my dress and top at the Fabric Mart blog.


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.



When Portia Lawrie of Makery announced that this years #Refashioners2016 challenge was denim, I couldn’t not participate in the community challenge.  Between my catalog of my own jeans I’ve made and the wide variety of details collected on my Altered Denim board, it should be clear that when in comes to denim, I’m very serious about thinking beyond a basic pair of jeans.  So cutting up existing jeans and making something new?  That’s pretty much about the happiest challenge I can think of.  That I ended up with this Jeanius Pastel Denim Trench Coat–even better.  Who doesn’t love it when a plan comes together just like you want it to?

mixed media tank

This lace mixed media tank is one of the projects I’ve made in the past couple months post baby that I haven’t got around to writing about.  It’s part refashion, part working with available materials, and a whole lotta pattern hacking in between.  The inspiration for this one was this Anthropologie tank:

Laced Montage Tank -

I love how Anthropologie uses fabric, but I don’t often often copy their stuff literally.  This tank was an exception.  I like the woven bottom together with the lace stitched on top of the side seams combined with the comfort of a knit top.  The resulting tunic is just the kind of flowy summer top that I was looking to make.

Lace Mixed Media Tank


In terms of patterns, I combined no less than 3 patterns to get to my final pattern.  The tank part is Straight Stitch Patterns’ Greenwood Tank.  I liked with that pattern how the shoulder hit well enough to cover my bra line (not necessarily a given with tank patterns), but the armholes were too big.  I used my trusty Jalie 2921 to modify the Greenwood armscye to the circumference I was looking for.  The woven part of the tank is a modified version of the high/low peplum piece from Blank Slate’s Marigold.


mixed media tank

For fabric, I used a cotton voile on the peplum leftover from this Mississsippi Ave dress.  I added a CF button placket to make it look like it’s the bottom of a men’s dress shirt.  I cut the same voile in bias strips to bind the neckline and armholes too.

The knit is from an old t-shirt that I’ve had for several years.  I originally bought it soon after my 2nd son was born.  I always liked the color, but not the poofy 3 layered flutter sleeves it had.  They were cumbersome to wear and I couldn’t wear a cardigan with the top because the sleeves were too bulky to fit inside the sweater sleeves.

mixed media tank


I carried a little bit of the green down into the sides of the peplum because…hips!  It also is a nice contrast under the lace.

The lace is vintage crochet lace that I picked up thrifting.  It is simply stitched down along the side seams.  I love this kind of lace for its softness and visual texture.  My Mom has always like prints that look like wallpaper.  It turns out I like lace and fabric that looks like (or came from) a tablecloth. 🙂

Project summary

mixed media tank


Proportionally the top is overall a bit too long on me.  If I repeat this design, I will definitely shorten the knit and the peplum as well as ditch the high/low element in favor of a straight hem.

Overall, I really love this top.  It was a good challenge to use multiple materials and patterns to get at the final top, and it’s super comfortable and lightweight for the summer heat.

My Monthly Stitch Post on this top is here.

My review of the Greenwood Tank is here.

What’s the max number of patterns and/or fabrics you’ve combined into a finished garment?

mixed media tank

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.


zipper top

I’ve read The Renegade Seamstress for a long time now, and I’ve always enjoyed Beth’s Refashion Runway.  I had hoped to compete this year, but this season is an All-Stars edition.  I’m in the middle of just getting my sew jo back post baby and starting to sew for a couple of local boutiques who like my work.  I might be biting off more than I can chew to try and sew along with the contestants, but I’m going to give it my best because refashioning is very much the theme of my work for the boutiques.  This kind of challenge really fires up my brain in the right direction. My contribution to this week is this very 80s zipper top.

zipper top

This week’s theme is velvet.  I asked, and Beth mercifully granted my request of using velour instead.  I say mercifully because velvet is not a fun fabric to sew with.  The high pile makes for layers that shift continuously.  It also has very little stretch, so you can’t really ease the layers back together when they shift like you can with other fabrics.  Velour on the other hand is not so terrible to sew with.  Being a knit, it does ease relatively well, and the layers don’t shift quite as badly as with regular velvet even though they can stretch out of shape.  Plus, I had a velour hoodie on hand.  It’s missing an arm because I used it for another project.  I decided to go for a top that would use the velour plus some rib knit from a maternity hoodie that I bought at the beginning of this pregnancy.  I liked the color and had already planned to refashion it after my daughter was born.

colorblocked workout top
Yay, Essentrics!

It always takes me a while to get back into my sewing/writing/doing life routine after having a baby, and this time I’ve been trying to not be hard on myself about it.  I went through so much sickness after my youngest son, I’ve been careful not to go overboard.  After 3.5 months, I think I’m finally gaining enough energy back to do something beyond the absolutely necessary, so you can consider me back from maternity leave as it were.  And what a way to get back in the swing of it all than with a colorblocked workout top?

fringe collar dress

I didn’t intend to not write for nearly 4 months, but as it has turned out, I’ve needed very little in the way of clothes this pregnancy.  The advantage of having had previous pregnancies that started at a heavier weight is having more than plenty of clothes for the last few weeks when it feels like nothing fits.  But I did go ahead and make this fringe collar dress.  I had this lovely fringe trim leftover from my tablecloth dress, and I’ve been looking for the right project to use some of it.  Hey, and fringe is in right now!  Yay!  After months of absence at the Monthly Stitch, I finally could finish a challenge!


Fringe Collar Dress

I made Burda 7287 some time ago after being inspired by Kyle’s version, and it has become one of my favorite winter dresses.  Paired with or without the detachable collar, and the fingerless gloves that I wear literally all winter, it’s been a versatile staple in my wardrobe.  For this project, I decided to make the other view on the pattern where you sew on the collar at the neckline and add trim to the bottom edge of the collar if you like.

fringe collar dress

I cut the main part of the dress from some really nice interlock that I scored at the thrift store a couple of years back.  It was one of those days where fortune favors the person willing to go a hunting through the muck and mire when I pulled out this fun black and white print made by Kaufmann.  There was no less than 5 yards of it and I paid $3 or $4 for it.  It’s soft and does not stretch out at all like a lot of interlocks do.  It’s stable enough too that I’ve used some of it to muslin dresses I make in ponte like my opera dress.

Still, I don’t wear black.*  So I knew I needed a way to break up the black so I didn’t get the horrid zombie look that I get when I wear it.

*Well, I will wear black if I’m contractually obligated, i.e. a violin gig, but I’m never happy about it.

I found an XL rib knit sweater in one of my blues while a thrifting one day and I loved the springy feel it had.  Remembering how soft a rib knit sweater had made my Denver Tunic, I decided to combine the blue with the black and white.  It would keep the black away from my face and make for a cozy collar that would look great with the added tablecloth fringe.

fringe collar dress
Keeping the black away from my face.

Though it wasn’t obvious at the time that I deconstructed it, the sweater had raglan sleeves, so I didn’t have quite enough yardage to make a full length sleeve as per the pattern.  Instead, I carried down the black and white to the bottom part of the sleeve, cutting it at an angle like this:

fringe collar dress

The pattern’s sleeve is well past full length on me, which makes sense given that the arms are intended to have thumbholes.  Though I’ve tried many many times to create a good solution for thumbhole tops, I’ve never really been comfortable wearing them, and these are no exception.  In past tops, I’ve done what patterns suggested, just leaving a gap in the side seam which inevitably twists and is generally so small that it cuts off the circulation to your thumbs.

To avoid numb thumb, I cut a 1″ square where my thumbs hit and then used some of the rib knit to bind the edge of the hole.  Now, there’s more than plenty of room for my thumb and the base of my thumbs, so there’s no chance of the blood being cut off to my thumbs.  Still, the thumbs pull on the sleeve when I have my arms extended, like when I’m driving or playing my violin, and they sadly do not offer me any extra warmth.  So next time, I’ll stick with either the sleeveless version with added fingerless gloves, or simply shorten the sleeves to a normal full length on me.  I think thumbhole tops are just simply not my thing along with wrap dresses, maxi dresses, and button-down shirts.

fringe collar dress

As for fitting, I merged this pattern with Burdastyle 6-2010-132 which is a crossover style maternity dress.  I always loved how the Burdastyle pattern fit.  A lot of maternity patterns have excessive ease, flare and gathering that just ends up making you look and feel like a marshmallow, but this one is cut in a really slimming sort of way.  It gives you enough room for the growing baby, but nothing crazy beyond that.  Still, I’m kind of over crossover styles.  I had experimented with merging this pattern with my normal t-shirt for a pajama top, and I liked my experiment enough to go ahead with a dress.  All it required me to do was to match up CF lines, overlap the crossover section with the lower front panel at the seamline and use the neckline of the non-maternity dress and the outer edges of the maternity panel where it was needed.  No extra tracing, no extra fitting or pattern work.  This was a fast and dirty alteration.

I did keep the seam allowances bigger than I otherwise would have, and I simply sewed them instead of serging them off or trimming them as I would have on a regular knit dress.  My logic was that I’d only be wearing this as a maternity dress for 2 months tops.  With the extra seam allowances intact and unfinished, it’ll be easy for me to go back and open up the front, removing the elastic and cutting it to fit the original lines of the non-maternity pattern.

My favorite feature is the collar.  The rib knit drapes so well, adds a nice layer of warmth and looks great scrunched up with a vintage brooch.

Overall, it was good to get back in the saddle before all the craziness happens in a month or so with my body being any number of sizes.

My updated review is here.

fringe collar dress

How much have you ever made for your own pregnancies?  Do you shelve your machine momentarily, relying on RTW maternity options, or sew up a storm to weather the season?


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.


add a drawstring cowl to a t-shirt

Add a Drawstring Cowl to a T-shirt Pattern

I was hoping to get this up when the article came out last week, but one thing led to another, and now I’m playing catch up.

If you haven’t seen it, I wrote a tutorial over at Up Craft Club to show you how to add a drawstring cowl to a t-shirt.  This is the perfect tutorial as we (hopefully) are heading into fall.  Come fall, all I want to wear and make are big fat cozy tops with huge scarves.  Cowl necks are even better because the scarf is attached.  Some time ago I had been mulling over the idea of adding a drawstring cowl to my favorite t-shirt pattern.  I had seen one of the many sporty ladies I come across in my daily life wearing something similar, and I liked the casual touch that the drawstring added to a neck shape I already loved.  The time seemed right to figure out how to make it happen.  It’s crazy easy to adapt a pattern to add this feature.

add a drawstring cowl to a t-shirt

This tee I made up from a soft poly jersey from Cali Fabrics.  I blockprinted the front using a pinking shear stamp that I carved a while back and an ink pad suitable for fabric after heat setting.  It turns out, I really like how clear the stamp impressed on the fabric using the ink vs. screenprinting ink that I have been using for blockprinting.  It also is completely flat, or rather, there’s no added dimension of chunkiness on the fabric from any kind of paint, so the hand is completely smooth.  I haven’t sent it through the wash yet, and no doubt I will send it through a cycle on the dryer to hedge my bets on the heat setting directions.  The jury is still out as to whether the ink will survive the wash, but I have my fingers crossed!

add a drawstring cowl to a t-shirt

So if you’re longing for a big cozy cowl this fall, check out this quick and easy tutorial right here.

add a drawstring cowl to a t-shirt

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.

mixed print Lane raglan

Today I’m writing over at UpCraftClub!  Check out my first post over there where I’m sharing a way to incorporate mixed prints into your next Lane Raglan tee.


I’ve been dreaming up a pair of fall/winter pajamas made from this great peach pony thermal knit fabric, but the store that I bought it from was going out of business, so I had limited yardage to play with.  After sorting through my scraps, I found some great coordinating fabrics.  With a little pattern hacking, I combined everything into a very cozy pair of pajamas which, no doubt will serve me well when it stops being a million degrees outside.  You can read all about my process and see my tutorial for this particular pattern hack here.


Mixed Print Lane Raglan



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.