Sew something creative


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!



Ever since my husband and I started watching Doctor Who 3 years back, we’ve kicked around the idea of cosplay.  Though we’ve enjoyed all the Doctors and companions, Rose and the 10th Doctor have easily been our favorites.  Maybe it’s the fact that we both have similarish coloring to Billie Piper and David Tennant that cosplay entered our minds.  At any rate, we loved their story and I knew that both her jacket from “Journey’s End” and his suit would be a good sewing challenge for me.  My husband’s suit has just finished the muslin stage, but today I’m sharing my Rose Tyler jacket cosplay.

Image result for rose tyler journey's end

Rose Tyler jacket cosplay

Cosplay creativity

I’m starting to realize that cosplay is all about the details.  While there’s times to be super creative and do your own thing, cosplay is about getting the nitty gritty right.  Somehow in getting to the end result, there’s a lot of creativity that happens.  This project was so so fun in that I had to apply a different side of my creative skills to get to the end.  It’s part reverse engineering, part copying, a whole lot of pattern hacking on top of some really challenging sewing.  I see now why people love their cosplay!

Billie Piper wore a lot of really cool jackets over the course of her run on Doctor Who as did her fantastic predecessor Freema Agyeman.  We decided on Journey’s End partly because I loved the purple jacket above all her others.  Also, I love that episode because Rose and The Doctor finally get some happiness after suffering without each other through space and time.

Being not myself

I’ll note that I’m not my cheery self in pictures because Rose is not exactly a ball of sunshine in this episode either.  Also my pants are WAY too big–leftover from when I was much heavier and before I sewed.  But they’re my only black pants and the style is not bad.  And those are not my eyebrows (which disappear mid-arch)!  Makeup was necessary as Billie Piper’s eyebrows are much more authoritative than mine LOL!

Rose Tyler jacket cosplay pattern: Burdastyle 10-2010-101 leather jacket

I kicked around several patterns, but ultimately I decided on Burdastyle 10-2010-101.


This pattern was a good base for Rose’s jacket.  It has set-in sleeves, the rib knit hem and cuffs, zipper, and rib knit upper collar.  But there was a lot of changes that had to be made for the pattern to more closely resemble the Journey’s End jacket.

Modifying the pattern

After rewatching the episode and coming across this very helpful cosplayer’s blog, I was able to see just what I needed to take away from the pattern and add to it.

The front of the jacket has a center front, middle front, and side front.  The jacket facing line on the pattern was a reasonable spot for the center front/middle front seam.  I eliminated the side dart in what would become the side front by rotating into the princess line that I drew for the side front.

The back of the jacket also has a center back, middle back and side back.  The original jacket also has a deep pleat at CB which I eliminated.  Using a French curve, I drew the new seamlines for the back and added seam allowance.  After a muslin, I realized that my side back piece was far too shallow and didn’t fit my own back very well.  It took a little draping, but the new seamline for the middle back/side back seam is much better.  You can see where my first try ended up on my muslin.


Rose’s jacket features 3 zippered welt pockets.  The first one is on the upper part of the left side of the jacket and it crosses the center front/middle front seamline.  The other two welts are integrated into patch pockets that then get stitched the fronts near the hem.  To make the patch pocket piece, I simply used my own hand as a guide and freehand drew a pocket as I looked at a closeup of the original pockets.

Image result for rose tyler purple leather jacket

Stretch Faux Leather

After looking multiple places in LA and San Francisco, I just did not find the right fabric.  Then Fabric Mart came along and offered this stretch faux leather for a song.  I paid less than $10/yd for it, and it is seriously the nicest faux leather I’ve ever seen.  You can actually press it and fuse interfacing to it without it melting!  I didn’t press it once I got to the construction, but you’ll see why.  The only problem with this fabric is the color.

Painting the Rose Tyler jacket cosplay

The original fabric is a deep sharkskin grey, so not Rose’s blue tinged purple.  I tried dyeing it to no avail before I came across Angelus leather paints.  People use this paint for painting custom basketball shoes, so I figured it was work a try.  This paint it turns out is incredible.  It doesn’t crack or peel and though it takes time to get to the end, it eventually transforms into a smooth topcoat.  The hand of the fabric also doesn’t change at all with the additional paint.  I learned along the way that a good quality watercolor brush and some water to thin the paint helped the process.

White, then purple

Angelus recommends that if you’re trying to cover a dark color that you prime it with white.  I did some test swatches and they were totally right.  You can see how the paint without the white base just gets faded out by the grey.  It took a solid 5 coats of white before I felt I could add the purple.


The purple is a mix of Sapphire and Violet paints.  I initially mixed a ratio of 4-1 in favor of the violet, but the sapphire was really dominant.  The last couple of coats, I mixed straight violet with just a touch of the sapphire/violet mix with a couple drops of black.  The final color is about as close to perfect as I could hope for.


I sealed the paint with 2 coats of Resolene which is an acrylic topcoat recommended by a guy at our local Tandy leather.  I didn’t want to admit to him that I was painting faux leather, but anyhow, his advice was excellent.  All total I painted 21 pattern pieces I believe over the course of 4 days.

Adjusting for stretch and style

The pattern calls for regular leather, so I can’t imagine there’s a lot of give in it.  The pattern also yields a more boxy jacket.  I ended up taking in a few of the seams on my muslin to account for the 20% stretch of my fabric and the boxiness of the pattern.  The muslin fabric is a stretch twill and it has the same amount of stretch as the faux leather, so I knew it would be a great choice for a practice jacket.  Faux leather is absolutely unforgiving in terms of fit, so there’s no chance I was going to sew it up without the fit being 100%.

My muslin revealed that I needed a bit of a petite adjustment.  There was a big fat wrinkle that clearly wanted to be a dart right around my upper chest going into the armhole.  The 1/2″ I took out in front I also took out horizontally on the sleeve and around the back.  I’ve had to do this particular petite adjustment variant on other Burda patterns, most notably this cardigan from the Fabric Mart competition last year.  The muslin was cut apart eventually to serve as my pattern, so the dart is gone in the final jacket.  Now that I’ve done it and can see the difference in the final garment, I’m seeing the lack of it in a lot of my makes!


Because I was using a stretch fashion fabric, I knew I’d need  a stretch lining.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of adding this fun TARDIS print knit from JoAnn.  What’s a Doctor Who cosplay without the TARDIS?  This knit did have more stretch than the faux leather.  I tamed it down by adding fusible interfacing to the entire lining.  With the interfacing, the knit has just about the same 20% stretch as the outer fabric.  The interfacing also lends some support to the faux leather and keeps down some of the wrinkling that it is very prone to in the wearing.  I will say that it is incredibly frustrating to see wrinkles in the final fabric that are not there for fitting reasons!


Can you believe there’s more DIY in this jacket?  Yes, indeed people.  Finding ribbing in the right color is not always easy, but I can almost always find a good quality rib knit sweater at the thrift store.  This ribbing started out as a royal blue sweater, and I overdyed it with RIT DyeMore in Royal Purple.

The zippers also got the dye treatment.  The Riri zips that are on the welt pockets didn’t take the dye as readily as the front separating zipper.  They’re still a nice lilac which goes well with the purple.

Sewing with faux leather

This post is already too long, so I’ll save my tips for sewing with the faux leather for another day.

I will say that all of the seams are topstitched down with the exception of the side and underarm seams which are glued down.  Trying to topstitch inside of the sleeve was NOT an option.  Also, instead of bagging the lining, I stitched it in place at the hem and the sleeves by hand.


All total, I’m really pleased with how this jacket turned out and I’m anxious to get to the end of my husband’s jacket so we can look the part.  I’m not so sure that my look makes sense without his, but these things are a work in progress right?




I’ve been a speedster all up in my sewing room of late.  I’m attempting to get through a cosplay of Rose Tyler’s purple jacket from Journey’s End and hopefully a 10th Doctor suit for my husband by the end of Patternreview’s Costume Contest.  The jacket is 86% done, but the suit is going to be a big tall mountain.  This last week, I finished up a batch of dresses for SEWN, the local boutique that I sew for.  My latest video goes over the details of the 8 dresses and includes some backyard catwalk fun courtesy of my friends.  But I’m sharing here some more pictures including some of our outtakes of my SEWN Denver Fall 2017 Collection.

SEWN Denver Fall 2017 Collection

Tie neck dresses

The first 4 dresses are all knit dresses with nice flare skirts.  I used the the same style as the velvet dress from my winter collection but I lowered the neck into a high V.  The tie is a big glorified binding that’s longer than the neck edge on both sides of a little loop that’s sewn near the neck edge.  The ties thread through the loop to create a tie that’s not really a tie.  I like this finish because I think sometimes tie necks can be too bulky.  This first geometric knit really benefited from the less bulky tie.

Embroidered circles

On the ITY versions of this dress, I added circles to the skirts from ponte and a rayon/poly/lycra knit on the blue dress.  After I affixed them to the skirt with a glue stick, I stitched back and forth over the circles.  I love this technique, and I use it frequently on appliques.

Overdyeing the lining

The blue dress is a refashion from a size 20 Coldwater Creek dress.  There was a lot of fabric on the original dress–so much so that I was able to cut the whole thing minus the sleeves from just the skirt.  The blue is a rich rich cross between royal blue and navy.  It’s truly beautiful fabric and when I spotted it at the thrift store, it was clear that it had been worn about twice.  Do you sometimes buy things at the thrift store as a rescue project?  Sometimes I’m downright indignant that things end up there, especially when they’re this nice.

My problem is that the only knit I had available to line the bodice was a baby pink poly interlock.  As lining fabric goes, this stuff is wonderful.  It’s got great recovery, it sews easily and it offers the support and opacity that’s required.  But, the pink was so so ugly against the blue.  I thought about it for a while and decided to dye the whole dress with Rit DyeMore in royal purple.  The blue did not take any of the dye, but the pink settled down to a nice lilac and the circles picked up a hint of the purple.  It was such an upgrade!  It might seem fussy to go through the trouble, but the whole process took about 10 minutes plus a run through the wash which I was going to do anyway.

Handkerchief hem dress

I cut this handkerchief hem dress from a curtain panel.  I say curtain panel, but this was one that someone had professionally made.  So this is actually a good weight cotton fabric, not a home dec fabric with some of the finishes or blends that you see in curtains that you buy at home stores.  I was drawn to the stripes in the print and the beautiful fall colors of the floral.

The bodice is a vintage style cap sleeve style.  I’ve used it before on the wax print dress here.  The skirt is a big giant square with a hole cut out the size of the waist.  I so loved the gentle flow of the corners of the squares on my chiffon skirt that I wanted to replicate the look on this floral fabric.  I like how the stripes sit on the handkerchief hem.  My only wish is that I had had a little more width on the fabric so that the skirt could be a little longer.  As this is a fall dress, I’m okay with it being shorter.  I personally wear leggings with all my cooler weather dresses.  Hopefully anyone buying this will be smart enough to do the same!

Caftan-ish dresses

I’m currently taking Laura Volpintesta’s intro to patternmaking class, and on one of the videos she talks about the origins of patternmaking in traditional garments like kimonos and caftans.  (Though I’m moving along at a snail’s snail’s pace since I’m in the heat of soccer season when I have zero spare time) She was so enthusiastic that you could just do a whole lot with a little elastic to add some shaping to what would otherwise be a giant rectangle, that I decided to take her up on it.

Both of these dresses are essentially rectangles, though there’s a yoke with an extended cut on sleeve with a little sleeve band.  The ties are attached to elastic that goes around the back in a casing. I had doubts about this whole style and then I put on one.  Boy howdy is it comfortable and way cuter than you’d think.  I take back everything I’ve ever thought about how shapeless caftans are.  I suppose they can be, but they need NOT be.

Eyelet dress

The eyelet version is underlined with a blue chambray in the yoke.  Hot pink satin is an underlining on the lower part of the dress.  I really love the hot pink against the forest green.  When I was searching through my linings, I thought they looked really nice together but I was skeptical about the combination.  Would it appeal to anyone?  Is it current or at least not out of date?  After seeing a few style bloggers sporting hot pink + forest green, I felt a little more settled about the “trendiness” of the two colors.  Not that being current is what I think about when I sew per se, but I never want my stuff to have that “of an era” look.  You know like this:

image found on Pinterest from Vintage Everyday

Fall wax print “caftan”

This fabric was such a find.  The fall leaves plus the cool black chevrons opened up a lot of possibilities.  I used the chevrons on the yoke and for the hem.  While I thought about making self ties for the casing, I went for black twill tape which I think is a good contrast.  I still had some of the wax print leftover, so I made a twin dress.

Pinstripe wax print dress

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The navy pinstripe is from a Banana Republic dress.  I think it’s a linen/cotton blend though the fiber content tag had been removed from the original dress.  The skirt was what drew me to this dress.  The play with the stripes and the flounce on the hem were too good to pass up.  There were sleeve flounces too that I saved.  When I disassembled the bodice, I had very little fabric to work with. I was able to cut one front and one back from the original dress.  The wax print is for the rest.  There’s another dress that I haven’t blogged yet because it’ll be in the next Altered Couture issue where I did this same kind of print blocking.  I personally like the contrast.

Plus my friend and I had too much fun taking twin shots.  I think we were flipping our hair here?

Overall, I’m really pleased with this collection, and I’m hoping that things sell well!

Summer still lingers here so I’m catching up on writing up the last of my summer projects before I move on into my fall makes.  Earlier in the summer, I picked up a few t-shirts at the thrift store for refashions.  One of them, you already saw me re-make in my Split Flutter Sleeve hack video.  The other 3 I decided to remake with some cutout features.  I often use t-shirt refashions as a way to test out ideas and think creatively about knits.  So here are 3 Cutout t-shirt refashions for you.


cutout t-shirt refashions

Blue print before

Before I show you each one, I have to show where they started.  The blue shirt is a cotton Calvin Klein tee that has a low v in the front that’s trimmed with twill tape.  There’s also some smocking on the front shoulders.  The blue is one of my blues in my color palette, and I really liked the print.  It’s not often that I find prints that are perfectly in my palette, so when I find them, I grab them.

cutout t-shirt refashions

Peach stripe before

The varying stripes on this white/peach cotton tee were really intriguing to me.  I’m a big fan of Pauline and her amazing stripe creations, so I thought I’d try my hand at doing something to utilize the stripes in a way that she might.

cutout t-shirt refashions

J Crew green tee of doom before

Spoiler alert on this green J Crew tee.  It did not turn out as I wanted.  It’s one of those evil cotton knits that expand when you blink at them.  As such it did not do what I wanted it to do.  I should have passed by it, but the green was so pretty, and it was J Crew so I figured (erroneously) that it was quality.  Dear J Crew, you really should do better.

Chop, chop, chippity chop

Inspiration at the baseball game

cutout t-shirt refashions

My older two boys play baseball, and there was one night we were leaving practice and I saw another Mom with the cutest tee.  It had a back low v-neck with an X made from strips of the fabric across the upper back.  I liked it so much, I scrawled a rough sketch on a scrap of paper in the car.  Do you do this when you see a cool detail on someone on the street?

The blue tee was easy to turn into a version of this.  I cut the back from the front since it already had the v-neck detail.  I also scooped out a little bit more of the neck.  The bottom of the twill tape was too low for a back (and really for a front too), so I stitched it up the now center back to a better height.

I cut a couple of 3″ strips to make into turned tubes for the X back.  Because the corners of the twill tape were a little floppy on the back, I attached one end of each of the X strips to the corners.  The other ends I attached under the new neckline after it was bound.  I pinned each of the other ends under the neckline after it was bound to the point where the X and the corners of the v-neck sat taut across the back.

The front is a simple neckline somewhere between a scoop and a crew, and I gave this one cap sleeves which have been perfect for summer.

Peach in a blender

My inspiration for this tee came from this Anthropologie tee I pinned on my t-shirt hacking board.

Tie-Back Tunic - $58. This color only :-(

I didn’t really like the gathered portion of the back, and the ties seemed overly fussy.  Instead, I opted for a plain yoke with the peekaboo center back beneath it.  My kids really got a kick out of the peekaboo when I was in the process of making it.

cutout t-shirt refashions

Stripe play

I was really lucky that I had not only a lot of extra width to deal with in this tee but a lot of extra length too.  I was able to cut the lower back with offset stripes.  They match the front on one side and are offset on the other side seam.

cutout t-shirt refashions

The upper back I cut from one of the sleeves, though I had to cut in in 2 pieces which I overlapped and stitched down with my coverstitch.  From the rest of that sleeve, I cut a bias tiny pocket for the front.

cutout t-shirt refashions

Can you believe that I could cut both of the cap sleeves from the other sleeve?  It’s not too often that I can do exactly what I have in my head in a refashion, but this was one of those times.

Cutout tank (*Not all your ideas are golden, Ponyboy.*)

So for the green tee, I wanted to do a cutout on the shoulder a bit like this Express tee.

Express Tops - Express Cut Out Shoulder Tank*NEW* size L

I knew that I wanted to make a bit of lattice work under the cutout, and that’s where things went south.  This green knit could not handle the extra manipulation.  It did not have the extra recovery it needed to stretch across the gap and hold well without overstretching.  You can see that the back neck is bagging out too.  This fabric had humble aspirations of being a plain basic tee and that’s it.

At first, my lattice ended up all stretched out and horrible.

cutout t-shirt refashions

I was able to unpick it and redo the intersections so that everything sat flat.  If only I had made the left front with the cutout from the beginning too instead of binding the armhole THEN cutting it out.  I think that would have been a cleaner look.  Still, given the recovery issues with the knit, I’m not sure I would have gotten a better result.

cutout t-shirt refashions

Ultimately, the tee is wearable, but it’s just not my best work.  I’d really like to try this idea out again this time from yardage in a more appropriate knit.

What the worst knit that you’ve ever sewn?  Could you salvage your project?  What did you learn in the process?


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Have you ever found yourself inspired by childrens’ clothing?

I’ve been on a bit a spree lately sewing these sleeveless shoulder frill tops for my daughter.  This particular one is Ottobre 3-2017-2.  Ottobre must love the little shoulder frills too because there’s a variant of the same style in every size range in this issue.

After the 3rd one, I could stand the cuteness no longer.  I had to make my own version!

Ottobre 3-2017-2

Pattern details

In addition to the frill on the shoulder, there’s a back yoke with pleats/gathers.  To be honest, I didn’t look at the specific directions.  On the rayon challis version I used gathers. The turquoise blue floral rayon has pleats, and I used a mix of pleats and gathers in the beach print.

Everything about this top is built for efficient sewing.  There’s no double layer on the yoke to finish the inside and the lack of a collar make for an ultra fast sew.  The directions want you to do a narrow hem on the frills, but I chose the even easier serger rolled hem.  Don’t say I didn’t tell you you’ll want to make a million of these.

Self bias vs. packaged binding

The front placket has 4 buttons and the armholes and neck are finished with bias strips.  This is one thing I love about Ottobre patterns.  Bias cut straight from the fabric you’re working with is so much nicer than packaged bias binding.  It always matches and there’s no hand change between the binding and the fashion fabric.  For sensitive baby skin this is a plus, and visually it’s a clean finish.

Rayon challis

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I did do a double layer yoke on the rayon challis.  It really needs the extra support because of it’s light weight and slippery hand.  Also, even though I love the fabric, rayon challis just might not be the best choice for an active toddler.  The heavy duty laundry treatment that kids’ clothes require are not coinciding with the more delicate cool water and ironing needs of the rayon.  I have some stains to attend to on this top at the moment!

Turquoise blue rayon?

This fabric is from my San Francisco fabric haul (from Fabric Outlet), and I will be ordering more.  I’m crossing my fingers that there’s still more at the store.  I’ve already used mine for a dress that I pattern tested for Designer Stitch this last week.

This fabric is a dream for kids and adults.  It doesn’t wrinkle (perhaps it’s a rayon/poly blend?), it has a beautiful drape, and it has enough weight to not require a lining.  The pleats were a little slippery, but I could easily finish the insides with my serger.  The bias was fiddly to deal with on the arms as it wanted to roll all over the place.   Hand basting kept things neat and it made for faster sewing.  Also, the edges of the frills look wonderfully crisp with the serger rolled hem.

Beachy print rayon

This beachy print is one of the remnants I found at Fabrix.  They had tons of fabric meant for board shorts, and I’m pretty sure that’s what this is.  It has that kind of stiff finish that board shorts have.  The base is definitely cotton.  By far, this fabric was the easiest to sew of the lot.  It pressed well and I didn’t have to pin or baste the bias at the armholes.

I love the combination of the bright orange and pink leaves with the blue stripes.  After this one, I dropped everything to make my own version.

Shoulder frill pattern hack

This is hardly a hack it’s so simple.  I started with DG Patterns’ Olvie Top as my base because it’s what I had on my table.  Any woven sleeveless tank would work for this.

  1. Measure 3″ from the shoulder seam along the armscye on the front and the back and make a mark.
  2. Cut two 3″x9″ rectangles on the bias for the shoulder frills.  It’s important that they are on the bias because they will make for a frill that drapes better.
  3. Mark the center of each frill.  Finish the short edges and one of the long edges with a serger rolled hem or a narrow hem.
  4. Run a basting stitch along the edges of the frills and pull the bobbin threads to gather.
  5. Match the frill center to the shoulder seam.  Distribute the gathers so that the ends stop at the marks you made in step one.
  6. Put right sides together and stitch the edge of the frill to the armhole.
  7. Finish each armhole with bias tape.  The frill will be sandwiched between the bias tape and the right side of the top.

There you go.  Super easy.  I will say that I closed up the back darts and made a back yoke as well as adding some fulness in back pleats.  It’s not necessary, but it makes it a little bit more like my daughter’s top.

I made mine from leftover fabric I salvaged from a really nice 100% cotton shower curtain.  I bought it a few years ago to make an apron.  It caught my eye because it’s one of my purples and it had a beautiful hand that’s way nicer than any shower curtain has the business of being.

DG Patterns’ Olvie Top

I have the sleeved version of this top on my table right now, and really, it needs to have the sleeve.  100% of sleeveless armholes need to be adjusted for me for proper side coverage.  In my petite state, I’m extra short between my shoulder and base of my armscye.  I usually don’t have a problem once a sleeve is popped into the armscye, but sleeveless styles are chief among my fitting nemeses.

To fix this one, I’m going to have to open up the side seams and make a vertical dart basically that takes the bulk out at the armhole and tapers to nothing where the bust dart is.  This will narrow the overall circumference, but there’s more than enough since this is a loose fitting style.

Back neck closure

There’s a center back seam on the pattern, but there’s no directions for a zipper.  The neck is very close fitting, so you really need to have some sort of back closure.  I ripped my muslin in the neck at CF in the process of getting it over my big noggin.  An invisible zipper would work well, or you could fold back the seam allowances to finish them at the top 4″ or so and add a loop and button.  I chose to add an exposed zipper with one of the zippers I found in San Francisco.

Here’s for some more subtle versions of Mommy and Me,


Winter Street geometric dress

Of course I was going to make something for The Monthly Stitch’s Pattern Hack week for Indie Pattern Month.  Pattern hacking is quickly becoming a favorite sport. The particular dress that I had in mind for this challenge I’ve had on my must make now docket for 2 years.  It’s inspired by Boden’s Alice dress that came out around that time.  Here’s the original:

Image result for boden alice ponte dressImage result for boden alice ponte dressImage result for boden alice ponte dress

I instantly was drawn to the colorblocking in the large scale geometric shapes and the easy-wearing silhouette.  Fabric magicked its way into my stash after I found this dress, but some of these initial fabrics were not the right colors I was looking for.  I bought the same green ponte twice from two different places.  “Coral” turned out to be neon orange and “soft yellow” turned out to be more like a school bus that got hosed down with a mustard cannon (Buy swatches people.  Ugly fabric is forever).  So this project got shelved until a pretty piece of salmon ponte came into my stash via Fabric Mart.  Can salmon save a colorblocking disaster?  It sure did for this Winter Street Geometric Dress!
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Winter Street geometric dress

Winter Street Geometric Dress Mash up!


The colors that I chose for this dress really remind me of a taffy shop.

picture from Taffy Town via Mental Floss

I always enjoyed seeing salt water taffy being made when I was a kid (more so than eating it), and the bright springy colors are just the sort that make me happy.  All of the fabrics are ponte, and the colors are salmon, white, spring green, and a light spring blue.  The primary yellow I got by dyeing pieces of the white fabric with Rit DyeMore in daffodil.


Winter Street geometric dress

For this particular hack, I used 3 1/2 ish different patterns.  All of the colorblocking was my own drawing of lines all over said patterns.  Here’s the rundown:

  1. Patternreview’s Winter Street Dress:  I love the bodice on this pattern.  It’s a nice easy scoopneck, and the waist seam hits me at a good spot.  I used this pattern before as my day dress for the Day and Night Dress Challenge.  A shortened version of the patterns’ sleeve was used.  I would’ve used the skirt, but I didn’t want the pleats in the skirt that are in this particular pattern. There was concern that the colorblocked sections would be interrupted too much by the pleats.
  2. Blank Slate Patterns’ Denver Tunic:  I like the princess seams on this particular pattern.  With my Day and Night Dress Challenge Winter Street, I used the Denver as a template for some embroidery work.  On this project, I used the front side panels as actual pattern pieces.
  3. Jalie’s Bella Dress/Tilly and the Buttons Coco:  Well, I started out using the skirt from the side panels fused on top of Tilly and the Button’s Coco dress.  The Bella flares out dramatically on this pattern.  Ultimately the ponte did not have enough drape to handle the flare, so I draped out the side seams to make a more A-line skirt.  The final skirt is closer to the original Coco dress skirt in shape, though it’s not quite as wide.

Creating the colorblocking (aka pattern freestyling)

Winter Street geometric dress

In addition to the above pattern pieces, I added back side panels.  Using a French curve, I drew a line where a back side panel would approximately lie.

Winter Street geometric dress

To make the colorblocking, first I drew lines all over my skirt to emulate the shapes in the inspiration dress using a regular ruler and also a French curve.

To save a little time, I cut right on these lines and added seam allowances to the appropriate places on my actual fabric.  Then, to keep myself honest, I labeled the pieces with “up” on the top edges and with a “+” on every edge that needed a seam allowance added.  Next, I numbered all of the seam intersections so that I would put the puzzle together in the right way.

Winter Street geometric dress

The skirt back is a mirror of the front which makes for some cool side seam intersections.  All of the many intersections took some careful sewing to get the points right, and overall, I’m pretty pleased with how things came together.

Winter Street geometric dress

Hiking dress?

My backdrops for this dress are in Zion National Park.  I thought it’d be a little awkward wearing a ponte dress in the middle of the woods, yet it turned out to be quite the comfortable getup in the early morning.  No doubt if my family and I had gone out late in the day when we first got to the park the previous day, it would’ve been awful.  In fact, by afternoon it was well over 100 degrees!  In the morning, it was closer to 70 in the woods which was lovely.  I’m looking forward to wearing this one in the cool of fall with some leggings and boots!

Overall, I’m really pleased that I finally tackled this project that was on my must do list!

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zipper ruffle tank

Recently, Melissa challenged me to a round of Who Made It Best.  For this challenge, I’m making this zippered ruffle hack of Straight Stitch Design‘s Greenwood Tank.

Who Made It Best is a friendly challenge hosted by Melissa of mahlicadesigns where she pairs up with a fellow blogger and they sew the same pattern to see Who Made It Best. The challenge rules are simple: 1. We agree on a pattern to use 2. Sew it up to suit our personal styles 3. Share it and ask you to vote for your favorite.

You can check out Melissa’s version of her Greenwood here.

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For this tank, I used this pistachio/white tie-dye rayon lycra from Fabric Mart.  This stuff was amazing to work with.  It’s opaque, it has incredible recovery, and it gathered beautifully for the ruffles.

zipper ruffle tank

Zipper Ruffle Tank

Do you stalk RTW sites like I do looking for sewing inspiration?  It seems I’m always on the hunt for cool design details that can be incorporated into my next project.  When I saw Philip Lim’s Zipper Detail Ruffle Top, I knew I wanted to hack it.  Net a Porter describes it thus: “3.1 Phillip Lim’s off-white top has zip-embellished white ruffles that can be unfastened to create a cool cutout effect. ”  So zipped up, it’s a frilly girly tank.  Unzipped, it turns into an edgy cold shoulder look.  Pretty cool, eh?

Main Image - 3.1 Phillip Lim Zipper Detail Ruffle Top

zipper ruffle tank
*fashion is hard, am I right?*

Adapting Greenwood

I’m working on editing a 3 part video to show the construction process of the zipper cutout, but I’ll break down in this post the changes to the pattern that needed to happen first.

zipper ruffle tank

Widen the shoulder

For the zipper ruffle to work, it needs to be on a wider shoulder than what’s available on the Greenwood Tank.  I could’ve saved time by starting with a tank pattern that already had a wider shoulder (on my video, I’ll share several options), but I’m playing by the rules here and using Greenwood!  To widen it, I overlaid my TNT t-shirt pattern’s shoulder.  I determined that I wanted the shoulder to be about 2″.  I slid the edge of the t-shirt pattern out to meet that 2″ mark and traced the armscye.  It helped that I had previously altered the Greenwood to have the same armscye as my TNT t-shirt for fit reasons.  You want to do this on the front and the back.

Measuring for the zipper

After you widen the shoulder, draw a line 1″ away from the raw edge of the armhole.  This is where the zipper is going to sit.  Measure that line minus the side seam allowances.  This length is the length of zipper you need.  You can use zipper by the yard or a closed end zipper.  The Philip Lim top uses a 2 way zipper which also works.  Whatever you choose, use a metal zipper.  This is an exposed treatment, and you won’t like the look of a nylon or plastic zip, plus you need steam and heat to set the zip in place.  Metal can take the heat!


zipper ruffle tank

The sewing preparation for the zipper is a bit like a welt pocket.  You sew a long window into place that’ll sit behind the zipper so that when it’s open it’ll still have a clean inside finish.  I used fusible interfacing sewn wrong side up so that when it’s pressed to the inside it fuses in place to make a clean edge.  You could just sew the zipper unit into place and slash behind the zipper, but it’ll be pretty messy under the zipper and the fabric could become unstable.  I’m really happy with how the inside finish worked out, and I’m hoping the video shows it well.

I did not sew the window the entire length of the zipper because I found in my practice that the cold shoulder had a spot where it draped well.  Past that point, it just looked like a big old zipper was hanging off me.  That magic point for me was 3.5″ down the back from the shoulder.  The window doesn’t go all the way to the bottom of the front armscye either for the same reason.  The window stops 6.5″ down from the shoulder along the placement line.  You could put a zipper stop at the end of the back part of the opening, but I’ve found in wearing the top that it’s not necessary.  The zipper does not want to go past the end of the opening.


Zipper unit

I cut four 2″ strips 2x the length of the zipper.  Next, I sewed a gathering stitch along one edge.  Then I gathered the strips so that they matched the length of the zipper.  I applied Steam-A-Seam to the front side and back sides of the zipper on all sides of the teeth (so 4 strips of Steam-A-Seam per zipper).  After the SAS was taken off on the topside of the zipper, I applied the ruffles to either side and steamed them down to activate SAS’s glue.  Then you stitch down the ruffles.  You can remove the gathering stitches at this point, but it’s not necessary.

Getting the zips into place

When the neckline and arm bindings were sewn on, I could add the zipper.  Once the window is sewn and pressed back, I matched the back of the zipper teeth to the window and fused it in place.  The zipper should open towards the back, and I started the pull at the front side seam allowance.  The you sew down the tape to the tank.  I chose to sew in the zipper flat which required me to sew the ends of the zipper before I sewed the side seams.  Alternatively, you can finish the tank, then you can sew the ends together first and then sew it it in in the round.  In the round it’ll be a little harder to get the zipper teeth into place.  Either way works and both have their advantages!

I love this hack for the drama you get with the zippers.  You can go soft and romantic zipped up or more trendy zipped down.  It’s also always nice to have a garment that can be worn multiple ways.  Zipped up could take you to work, and zipped down would be a great top for a nice dinner out.  Or wear it halfsies because you can.

zipper ruffle tank


So what do you think?  Please visit mahlicadesigns for more pictures and details on her version, then place your vote for Who Made It Best. The poll will be on both sites, so you can see both versions before you choose your favorite. Voting will be open for one week.

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Now that you’ve read about my Colors of Flags Challenge makes, check out Episode #2 of Pattern Hacker.  You can see my full process for this DIY One Shoulder Ruffle Dress.  I’m slowly working the kinks out of my videos and looking forward to more of these types of videos.  I’ve really enjoyed producing all of these for everyone!  The teacher in me is jumping around!

If you’re looking to make your own version of this dress and you don’t have the two Burdastyle patterns I used (5-2010-130, and 2-2013-109), here’s some ideas: Substitute any pencil skirt pattern made with stretch woven fabrics for the bottom.

For the top part OOP Simplicity 5508 would be a great substitute.  All it needs is a strap and the ruffle!

Vogue 1452 could also be a good substitute for the top part.  Actually, Vogue 1452 is a great substitute because the pattern has a strap, and the sloping neckline already goes all the way around the front and back.  All you’d have to do is add the neck ruffle and possibly change the construction for the strap.

Let me know what kinds of pattern hacks are the most interesting to you!

Now go watch some fireworks!


Colors of Flags Challenge

When Renata announced the Colors of Flags Challenge, I knew I wanted to participate.  Not only do I really admire Renata and want to support her, the 4th of July is probably my favorite non-religious holiday.  How can you not love a holiday that combines fireworks with BBQs and drippy ice cream sandwiches?  Plus Rachel’s ‘Murica dress died recently…one of my favorites of hers.  It was time to step up to the plate and be unashamedly, semi-obnoxiously American.

First draft

My first idea was to do a red, white, and blue version of YSL’s iconic Mondrian dress.

Image result for ysl mondrian dress

The problem with this idea is that I’d have made it in ponte knit.  Ponte in December is a brilliant idea.  July, on the other hand is not the month you trot out your ponte knit fabric.  Red is not a color I wear on a regular basis, so I didn’t want to put a lot of money into something I wouldn’t wear a lot.  Kismet found me at the thrift store and I walked away with a red and ivory Gap t-shirt, and some Dana Buchman navy stretch woven capris with white anchors.  Immediately, I knew what had to happen.

One Shoulder Frankenpattern:

Colors of Flags Challenge

Burdastyle 2-2013-109 + Burdastyle 5-2010-130 + some freestyling

I’ve been wanting to try a one-shoulder style since Maria’s one-shoulder dresses she made for the Day and Night Dress Challenge.  For mine, I wanted to have a knit bodice and a woven skirt.  When I went looking for inspiration (specifically searching “knit top woven skirt dress”) for just that, I kid you not the first image (now the second image) that popped up was this Lilly Pulitzer Dionne Dress:

Image result for lilly pulitzer dionne dress

So that’s pretty much exactly what I wanted to make.

For my version, I started with Burdastyle 2-2013-109 (asymmetric top) which I decided to pair with Burdastyle 5-2010-130 (pencil skirt).  I tried on the top and tucked it into the skirt, marking the junction with pins.  On the top pattern, I added 1″ below that line for seam allowance and any oops allowance I might need.  It turns out I needed the oops allowance because that 1″ with 3/8″ taken out for the seam allowance was just where I wanted the waist to be.

Colors of Flags Challenge

The hack

The asymmetric top has one shoulder that’s a regular sleeveless armhole.  The other side has a piece of fabric that wraps around from the back to the front to create a sleeve that attaches to the front neckline.  To get the one shoulder look, I copied the front neckline to the back.  I copied the armscye of my favorite t-shirt pattern to finish the sleeveless armhole side.


Colors of Flags Challenge

To add the ruffle, I measured the circumference of the front and the back neckline and multiplied x 2.  I gathered and basted the ruffle to the top of the front and back after I sewed the side seams.  In my practice dress, I bound the edge with foldover elastic.  On my Colors of Flags dress, I opted for clear elastic inside a casing.  I prefer the feel of the foldover elastic, but the casing is ultimately less bulky at the neck edge.  The FOE is really struggling in places to cover all of the gathering of the ruffle.

I should note too that the practice dress is made from scraps leftover from my Donna Karan top.  The scraps made it necessary to add the random waist seam.  Sometimes you just make it work…The skirt is home dec fabric from two really nice pillow shams.  The fabric has a little bit of the hand of a vintage bark cloth.  I originally intended the pillows for some home dec project for my sewing room, but I gave it up because I already have a dominant floral print in there.  Also, home dec sewing is not the most interesting…


After constructing the bodice, I knew I wanted to add a strap.  The elastic in the casing makes it nearly impossible for the dress to fall down, but it’s always my preference to wear regular bras with summer styles.  On the practice version, I cut it a little longer so that it scrunches over the elastic that I put inside the strap.  On the patriotic version, I cut the elastic and the strap the same length for a clean look.


The skirt is made as is with no alterations to the pattern other than eliminating the front fly.  The knit bodice is sandwiched in between the front and inside waistbands for a clean finish inside.

dutch label shop

Side zipper

The Lilly Pulitzer dress apparently does not have a zipper as , so I went forward with the practice dress without putting in a zipper in the blue/floral version.  This was a mistake.  The skirt fabric has no give and it’s already a pretty fitted style.  Do you have those dresses you have to do weird yoga to get into?  This is one of them.  The patriotic dress sports a side invisible zipper which is such a better idea.

Plaid shirts for the guys

Colors of Flags Challenge

Other than that, I used that pretty combed cotton plaid in the IG picture above for button downs for my guys.  All the patterns are the same Ottobre patterns I used here.

If you haven’t already, go check out more about the Colors of Flags Challenge on Instagram #flagsoftheworlddressproject#colorsofflagchallenge #4thofjulyprouddressproject.  There’s still time to share your outfit through your blog, IG, or YouTube(until July 7th) for a chance to win some great prizes available from Sewing and Design School, LA Finch Fabrics, and Dressy Talk Patterns.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July!