Sew something creative


It’s a New Year, and though we all know that New Year’s Resolutions are not always the things you stick to, there’s something about wanting to revisit what’s working and what you’d like to change when January 1st strikes. I’ve personally been wracking my brain for months trying to figure out how to make Elizabeth Made This a more useful place for everyone who visits here. Writing about my own projects have served me well for a long time, but how can I reach more people–no, how can I HELP people learn to sew? Wow, long intro there, and this is going to be a way different post, but here’s how I’m shifting my blog focus in 2019.

standing on my head

“If I should suddenly start to sing or stand on my head or anything, don’t think that I’ve lost my senses, it’s just that my happiness finally commences…”


Shifting my blog focus in 2019

A brief history

Before I tell you where I want to go, it’s useful to know where things began around here.  I wrote my first blog post in 2007? Who knows? It was so long ago, but the point is that I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I love sewing. A lot. And writing about it gave me a way to work out what I was learning. But I’ve had no clear direction for forever. I’ve dabbled in a lot of different things, but I’ve never consistently written about anything.  I’ve gone through times of total blog silence and frenzied productivity.  But as I’ve seen my own knowledge about sewing and my skills grow, I’ve come to this slow realization that I don’t want to keep on writing about only MY projects forever.  So now what? How do I even begin shifting my blog focus?

First comes teaching

kids' choir

Teaching is the first element when it comes to shifting my blog focus. I really loved my job as an elementary music teacher.  I taught 1st-6th graders for 7 years before my oldest son was born.  Teaching was so not natural to me.  In both my undergraduate and graduate music education programs, I felt like a total phony.  All of my peers seemed to have had private lesson studios since they were in high school.  I nearly passed out the first time I stood on the podium to conduct a rehearsal.  But I kept on.  I had WONDERFUL mentors in both programs who kept encouraging me to keep trying.  Direct quote from one of my teachers: “Elizabeth, if you can just break out of your shell, you’ll be a wonderful teacher.” 

And I plugged on at this thing that was so foreign to me and I got better at it.  To the point that I absolutely can’t see the world without looking through the eyes of a teacher.  And when I see a student connect the dots, wow.   Joy confetti everywhere in my head!  You can ask my kids, but after my violin students go home for the night, it takes me a while to come down off of Teacher Mountain.

ruffle sweatshirt

So yeah, teaching is going to become a big part of Elizabeth Made This.  I want to be that coach who comes alongside you and encourages you to keep working through a problem.  Keep an eye out for helpful sewing advice, pattern hacking tutorials like this ruffle sweatshirt, refashioning, DIY projects that you can make for yourself, and talk about creating a handmade wardrobe that makes sense for your everyday life.

Next comes writing

Writing is so at the heart of shifting my blog focus too! If I have a regret, it’s that I got into making videos on YouTube before I was really ready for it.  It did remind me that I love love love teaching, but it also split my focus and turned it away from writing.

So while blogging as a method of communication is not for everyone, I can’t let go of it simply because writing is something that’s always been a part of my life.  There’s probably a book deep down in me somewhere!

I won’t be saying no to video for forever, but any video work I do in the future is going to support all of the content that I’ll be creating here on Elizabeth Made This.

Creativity is the most important piece of the equation

slip dress from scarves
While not my favorite make of 2018, definitely a fun concept I went for

It’s taken me a long time to come to the tagline of “Sew something creative”, but that really is my goal.  I am a creative person with a capital C and truly want others to be able to see how that creativity comes about and how they can apply it to their own sewing.

DIY is so the core of everything I do.  I’ve had loooong conversations with friends about pattern hacking, refashioning, and fabric dye and blockprinting and applique and all the ways I otherwise abuse fabric in an effort to make something unique.  I want to show more of that process and demystify it for you.  If I can’t convince you that Rit DyeMore will change your life, I will have failed!!!!

colorblocked boiled wool coat
Colorblocked boiled wool coat made with Rit DyeMore


I can’t forget about story in shifting my blog focus. Sewing your own garments is not an activity that exists in a box.  Those garments go somewhere–they live your life, they do what you do.  I want to hear those stories from other people.  I want to tell those stories in pictures and in writing.  Those pictures are the ones I want to take–not just the ones that show the finished product.

A New Year, a real focus

So with that in mind, I’m plowing into 2019.  I’m announcing The Day and Night Dress Challenge tomorrow, and I’m shaking it up massively this year.  I think it’ll be an interesting turn.  Perhaps it’s been too long that I’ve tried to be other people instead of just letting myself look at sewing the way that I see it.  If you’ve read this blog for a long time, I want to thank you for sticking with me through a lot of terrible pictures, stream of consciousness and general blog squirrels.  And if this is your first time here, all I can say is, let me prove this year that I can help you sew something creative!

What will your 2019 look like in your sewing life?

shifting my blog focus
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
Pin this image

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?

distressed sweatshirt

It seems that distressed fabrics are having their thing.  I’m always slow to jump on things fashion trends, but once in a while, it’s kind of fun to just experiment and see if you might possibly like something.  Refashions are one of my favorite ways to experiment with fashion.  Your investment in the project is low, so if it’s a total flop, no love is lost.  And if you really like the end result, you may just gain some fuel in your creative tank for future projects.  With that in mind, I set out to make this distressed sweatshirt refashion.

Distressed Sweatshirt Refashion

distressed sweatshirt

My questionable morning style sense

In the mornings, I am always cold.  I don’t like wearing kimonos (not warm enough, giant sleeves that get caught in my breakfast), and a jacket is not necessarily how I want to start the day.  For years, I’ve always grabbed a white very oversized sweatshirt hoodie.  It went through all of my pregnancies from week 0-40 and back again and all that postpartum time too.  By the end it was really gross.  In its stained and shredded state, I donated it and started wearing my husband’s hoodies.

At some point, my husband started complaining about his hoodies being left all over the house.  To remedy this, I recently went thrifting to find some kind of sweatshirting to make a version of Ottobre’s “Hideaway Hoodie” (Ottobre 2-2017-8)

from Ottobre 2-2017

Oatmeal and salmon

distressed sweatshirt

No I don’t eat salmon in my oatmeal.  That strikes me as odd, and not something I’d want to eat in my morning hoodie wearing session.  But thrifting did yield me a pair of oatmeal colored heavy french terry sweatpants as well as a salmony pink xxl french terry sweatshirt.  I instantly loved the salmon, but the oatmeal was too boring for me despite it being nice fabric.

distressed sweatshirt

To remedy the situation, I dyed the sweatpants with Rit DyeMore Kentucky sky.  Because I wanted a little more depth, I added 1/2 capful Rit DyeMore in Daffodil yellow to the dye pot in a couple of places.  I did not agitate the yellow once I added it; instead I let it spread out in the pot naturally.  What I ended up with was a fabric that was sky blue in places and a bright springy green in others.


So what does all this have to do with distressed fabric?  Well, while I liked both of the colors after I dyed the sweatpants, it wasn’t obvious how they would go together.  They’re nearly on opposite sides of the color wheel and I had no middle tone that could pull them together.  I thought and thought until someone in Sew Much Talent popped up with a simple t-shirt made in distressed jersey.

The wheels started spinning in my head, and I thought I could connect them together if I slashed both colors and backed them with the opposite color.  The brand Generation Love has several distressed sweatshirts that are worth checking out.

Crazy piecing

This sweatshirt pattern is very long–it’s nearly knee length on me.  Unlike some of the sweatshirt dresses that are out there (Victory Patterns’ Lola comes to mind), it’s not super boxy and has some good shaping with princess seams in the front that end in deep, cozy inseam pockets.

distressed sweatshirt


Because of the length, I had to do a lot of creative piecing with the pattern.  One of the things that I love about refashioning is how it forces you to use every scrap available.  So it was with this refashion.  There’s seams in weird places that would never be there on a garment made from yardage.  It’s a look that’s either crazy cool or just crazy.  In the end, I had about a 6″x6″ square left from both fabrics.


distressed sweatshirt

For most of my colorblocked projects, I will sketch out possibilities before I start cutting into fabric.  It’s kind of amazing how many different looks you can get by just moving colors around a bit.  For this one, I just kind of made decisions as I went along based on the limited yardage I had available.  I really like how some parts of it turned out.  The bi-color hood is a favorite, and I used the right and the wrong sides of the both french terry colors for a subtle difference in places.

Underlining and slashing

distressed sweatshirt

To achieve my distressed look, all of the sleeve pieces and the front pieces are underlined.  The green/blue is underlined with a salmon colored stretch lace (refashioned from a top).  For the salmon french terry, I used a seafoam quilted ponte leftover from another project I’ve not yet blogged.

Before I underlined everything, I used my rotary cutter to make horizontal slashes at random on the pieces.  I pulled at them *gently* to open them up a bit.  French terry has very little recovery, so it distresses really easily.


For this one, I didn’t use my serger. Of late, I’ve been using my regular sewing machine to sew seams on heavier knits like this, and then using my coverstitch to topstitch.  The coverstitch adds to the casual look and it does a nice job of flattening down these heavy seams in a nice professional looking way.

Welcome Colorado Spring!

Our weather has been, and is very fickle in Spring.  One day it’s 70, the next, there’s snow.  This has been a perfect sweatshirt for this time of year.  The day I took these pictures, it was about 45 and brazenly sunny.

distressed sweatshirt

Taking risks in sewing

I won’t be slashing up my fabrics anytime soon, but it was good to do something out of the ordinary for this project.  Sometimes I think it’s too easy to get stuck doing the same thing, making the same kind of garments the same way.  There’s nothing wrong with that, especially when you’re tired or your sewjo is gone, but there’s days that it’s good to push yourself to try something new.  If for no other reason, try something new so that you can have an opinion about it.

distressed sweatshirt

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your sewing?

Toaster Sweater hack

Do you have those moments when you see something in a catalog and you think, I could make that? So it was with this Toaster Sweater hack.  For an unknown odd reason, the Athleta catalog gets mailed to me.  99.9% of the time, I finish thumbing through in the time it takes to walk inside from my mailbox, but this time I totally got stuck on this picture of their Roamer Sweatshirt:

Toaster Sweater hack

Could I make this?  You bet.

Toaster Sweater Hack: lace + zippers =fun


Toaster Sweater hack

To start this hack, I pulled out a white French terry from my stash.  I’ve never known what to do with this fabric.  It has a great stable hand, but it’s so white!  While I generally believe that plain fabric is a blank canvas, I restrained myself and opted to pair the French terry with lace I reclaimed from a thrifted sweater.  I’m a sucker for cream lace, and this one was way nicer than a thrifted sweater has the right to be!

Toaster + length -hem band

Toaster Sweater hack

The original Toaster Sweater #1 is cropped and has a hem band.  For this hack, you need to eliminate the hem band.  To do so, simply measure the hem band and add the length to both the front and back pieces.  But also, you need to add additional length to take out that cropped style.  How much length you add will depend on your particular torso length.  For me, that is

Zipper back

Toaster Sweater hack

The first part of this hack involves creating the zipper in the back piece.  I stabilized the area with fusible interfacing and did an exposed zipper treatment right at CB.  You must hem the back piece before adding the lace piece.  This is because the two layers will be sewn as one, so there’s no opportunity for hemming later on without ugly unpicking.

The zipper itself is a really fine coil metal look zipper I picked up at the FIDM Scholarship store.  It’s a separating zipper, but I used it anyhow.  I’ll never zip it all the way to the top, so I’m not concerned about it actually separating.

Lace underlayer

For the next part of the hack, you cut a layer of lace with an additional curved hem.  To get the additional curved part, I simply added on 5″ at CB that curves back to the side seam.  I used a French curve to make a nice clean curve.  The lace layer is then basted to the back. From there you treat it as one.

Since I was reclaiming yardage from a sweater, I actually had to piece the back.  I ran a line of Steam a Seam to fuse a the curved hem addition to the back.  A row of stitching on my coverstitch makes for an almost imperceptible flat seam.  I love piecing knits like this because there is no bulk.

Front piece

Toaster Sweater hack

The front is a bit of a fake-out. Instead of a full double layer with the lace, there’s only the curved hem piece of lace on the front.  Make a similar curved piece addition, this time just 4″ at CF curving back to the side seams using the French curve.

Overlap the French terry and the lace by 1/4″ (again, Steam a Seam is a great tool here) and stitch in place.  I used my coverstitch again here, though a standard zigzag would work just fine too.

Finishing touches

Toaster Sweater hack

From there, you construct the sweater as the instructions would have you do.  I used the ribbing on the sweater as a neck binding instead of the binding piece, so mine is narrower.  The hem ribbing from the sweater is a hem facing for the lace.

Fussy cuffs

Toaster Sweater hack

This is not part of the Athleta look, but I wanted to add some fancy cuffs that highlighted the beauty of the lace.  For my cuffs, I made a little tulip shape by extending the sides so that they curve upwards on 1 side.  For each cuff, I cut a piece of French terry and the lace without its lining that was in the sweater body.

To sew them, I put right sides together and stitched the curved ends.  Then you overlap the ends so to fit the circumference of the sleeve and baste together the layers.  To finish them, you stitch the cuffs to the sleeves in the round.  I added non-functional buttons because they’re pretty.

Last applique

Toaster Sweater hack

I hate seeing good lace go to waste, so I cut out a large motif from the scraps of the leftover lace.  It is simply stitched over one of the shoulders with a narrow zigzag.

Sporty girly

I think the Athleta top has that kind of urban cool, I just came from the gym and am going out for sushi in my track shoes kind of look that I will never achieve/be interested in.  Dude, my hair doesn’t do that perfect voluminous ponytail.  Instead, I had a great time reinterpreting this style into the more sporty ultra look that’s part of my everyday Mom look.

Toaster Sweater hack

How do you reinterpret fashion looks to fit your lifestyle?

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.

diy quilted coat

As the year draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about my general work habits a lot.  It seems my projects are either things that can be done at breakneck speed or slow, methodical affairs that take planning, precision, and ample time.  I wonder what projects in the middle of the road would look like!  This DIY quilted coat is the second type of project.  It took research, careful thought and then just a lot of hustle to complete it, and I regret no minute extra I spent on it.

faux fur lined hoodie

Happy Cyber Monday! This is the faux fur lined hoodie that I wanted to make way back in January of this year!  When the contests for Patternreview were announced in January, I had intended to make this hoodie for the Upcycle Contest.  I thought this faux fur lined hoodie would be a great full circle project.  The first lined jacket that I made was a refashion of a pillow sham for my son when he was a toddler!  My plans changed once that contest came into being, and I instead made the rain jacket from that questionable caftan.  Still, I had this jacket stewing in the back of my mind.

That Sewing Blab

I haven’t mentioned it, but the past few weeks I’ve been a part of competing on So You Think You Can Sew.  So You Think You Can Sew is a little competition put on by That Sewing Blab which is a weekly internet show about sewing hosted on Crowdcast at 7:30 Eastern time by Dawn Pengelly of Duelling Designs and Myra Rentmeester of Simple Inspirations.  I created this chevron trim dress for my round of the competition.

Mystery package

The round started a few weeks ago with my and my fellow competitor opening up a package of mystery trim on the show.  There was much silliness, and by the end, we had a little over 2 yards of this elastic trim.  The black trim has silver metallic threads running through it.

Image result for black silver elastic trim

First impressions

That Sewing Blab

My first thought when I opened the trim was, eek, it’s black!  If you’ve been around Elizabeth Made This for any length of time, you will note that dark heavy colors like black are things that show up seldom in my own personal wardrobe.  I knew that using this trim to make something that kept the same softness in form and color that is more my style was going to be a challenge.

After the show, I sat down with the trim and grabbed some pins.  My goal was to see how it behaved and get a direction for my ideas from manipulating it.  It turns out, it took folds really well.  My brain went straight to chevrons


That Sewing Blab

I recently finished a pattern test for DG Patterns’ Tessa Sweater.  My project for that I’ll save for another day, but I will say that I love the wrap neck design of this pattern.  Any style of sweater dress that I can wear in winter without adding an extra scarf or cowl is fantastic!

My idea was simple–I wanted a paneled bell sleeve hem with 3 layers of chevrons–one in black, one in silver, one in white.  The silver would bring out the colors in the trim, and the white would be the bridge between the trim and the softer blue of the dress fabric.  Originally I wanted periwinkle, but Colorado Fabrics had this slightly darker blue metallic jersey that caught my eye.

Paneled Bell Sleeve hack

That Sewing Blab

For the sleeve, I decided where on the pattern I wanted the bell to start.  Next, I measured the circumference at that point and divided by 8 as I wanted 8 panels on the sleeve.  Then, I drew the slope of one size of the chevron (4 chevrons total around the sleeve).  I used the same slope for the hem, but the hem is slightly wider at the bottom so that it does indeed flare out.  It’s a subtle flare, but it’s there.

After I added seam allowance for the sides and top of each piece, I added 5/8″ at the bottom of the panel.  I did make a facing piece by eliminating all of the seams and making one giant chevron piece, but added only 1/4″ for hem allowance.

Constructing the sleeve panel

Each of the sleeve panels is pieced together to make a complete bell.  Then I sewed the ends of the facings together to make a tube.  Next, I sewed right sides of the bell and the facing together at the hem.  Because there was a little extra on the outside piece, the facing does NOT peek out on the bottom.  The facing and the bell are basted together at the top.

That Sewing Blab

Eventually, after the trim, I sewed the bells into each sleeve.  Each sleeve was cut with the same chevrons.  The effect of the chevrons going straight from the sleeve into the bell got a little lost I think because of the trim, but hey, sometimes things don’t work out exactly how you want them.

Trim assembly

Elastic Trim

That Sewing Blab

After I calculated how many chevrons it would take to go around the hem, I traced out half of that on paper to be a template for my trim.  On the hem, I made the bends in the elastic by sewing a tiny dart at every intersection of the chevrons.  This was really slow work.  I couldn’t mark the chevron placement out ahead of time.  I was afraid the stretch of the trim would give me some inconsistent results.

So instead, I sewed one dart, took it back to the template, then sewed the next one etc.  On the sleeve, I got smart and instead cut the trim into little parallelograms that would create the chevrons on their own.  The downside of this was having to zigzag across each seam to make it flat and so it wouldn’t fray.

 Velvet foldover elastic and silver foil knit

That Sewing Blab

The center silver trim is just the chevron cut at 1″ wide with added 1/4″ on either side.  It was much simpler to work with the knit this way especially since this was by far the hardest fabric to work with.  I have a feeling it would serge just fine, but this fabric did NOT want to be topstitched.  It took several tries with different needles before discovering that a microtex needle was the way to go.  Every other needle I tried made for skipped stitches and oddly, shredded thread.

The top white trim on the hem is cut from little parallelograms of white foldover elastic.  I love foldover elastic for necklines and easy waistbands, but this is the first time I’ve used it as trim.  What I discovered is that it likes to fray, so every chevron intersection got topstitched down and got some Fray Block on the ends.

Putting it all together

To join all three trims, I used Steam-A-Seam.  After applying the Steam-A-Seam on the foil knit only, I overlapped the other two trims to cover the tape.  I love that the Steam-A-Seam is precisely 1/4″ wide, so it makes for very accurate work.  It also kept everything held together as I topstitched along the top and bottoms of the chevrons.

Applying trim to the dress

That Sewing Blab

The dress itself sewed up very very quickly.  It probably took 1 hour total which was good given the amount of time the trim took to make.  I hemmed the bottom of the dress a little shorter than normally since the trim itself was 3″ wide.  After that, I marked above the hem 1″.  Next, I used the chalk line as a guide for the top of the chevron points.  More Steam-A-Seam held the trim to the hem while I topstitched around the hem.
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For the sleeves, I simply applied the trim 1/4″ from the top of each bell.  I wish the trim for the sleeves could have gone on the bottom of the bells, but I just didn’t have enough of the black trim.  When it was all said and done, I only had 1/2″ left of the trim!

The Voting Show

I’m happy to say that I won on the voting show!  My competitor had a really cute halter top where she made this great inverted T down the front.  It was totally her style, and I loved that she highlighted the edgy nature of this trim.  I always love it when I see creative people pick up an idea and run with it!
In December, I’ll be advancing to the finals of So You Think You Can Sew to take on Melanie Wise of It’s Melanie Darling.  If you remember, Melanie and I squared off in the Fabric Mart Fabricista competition last year.  and I couldn’t be more thrilled to compete against her again.  She is such a wonderful lady and she can stitch circles around people–nay, she does!

Catch me on Instagram for more details as the dates get closer!