Pattern hacking


It’s always a little intimidating to start thinking of how I’m going to go after my own challenge, and this year’s Day and Night Dress Challenge has been no different. For this year’s twist, I found a neglected ponte dress and went on a color adventure.

Wearing a sleeveless dress year round

A sleeveless dress in winter–literally what was I thinking?

Burdastyle 9-2010-122 dress in blush ponte

                My chosen dress is this blush ponte dress.  The pattern is Burdastyle 9-2010-122.  I made it a few years back for an easy wearing dress for the opera.  It’s made its way to a wedding too.  With cool style lines and the comfort of a knit dress, why on earth haven’t I worn it more.

3 words: sleeveless, Colorado, ponte. What a trifecta of unwearable those words have become!  When it’s warm enough to wear the dress, it’s too hot for the ponte, and in winter it’s a freeze fest.  My goal for this challenge was to make this otherwise very wearable something that works. 

My personal style

Burdastyle 9-2010-122 dress paired with embroidered organza trench coat and french terry bomber jacket refashion

I don’t know about a style, but I do have a really clear aesthetic.  It’s Spring all year round as far as color is concerned, and I’m constantly looking to add texture to everything.  My husband says I’m “obsessed with asymmetry” (true).  I do like to be comfortable, so yes to bright sneakers and no to button down shirts.  If I had to throw 3 words at describing my style, it would be classic, creative, and eclectic–things that can at times be at odds with each other.

Whenever I start a new project, I steer towards fabrics I want to work with.  If a fabric is an ugly duckling, I will happily reach for the dye.   For this year’s Day and Night Dress Challenge, color was my muse.  Here, blush meets olive, coral, and lemon.

Day look: olive + coral refashion

olive french terry bomber jacket

My everyday wardrobe is a lot of comfortable.  My everyday wardrobe has to deal with bustling around driving my kids to school and soccer and church.  I teach violin part time after school too.  Violin requires a lot of freedom of movement for me so I don’t repetitive motion myself into pain.  Knit dresses and tops are ideal. 

flatlay of peach booties, violin bow, music, blush ponte dress, and french terry bomber jacket
my everyday everyday

Hack a t-shirt into a bomber jacket

french terry bomber jacket refashion with blush ponte dress and peach booties

With this in mind, I wanted to create a simple bomber jacket/cardigan combo.  I found a great olive french terry sweatshirt to refashion.  I cut it up using  Ottobre 5-2015-15 .  I’ve actually made this pattern now in various forms 4 times now.  The saddle sleeves are an interesting line and a fun alternative to a raglan. 

french terry bomber jacket refashion unzipped jacket with blush ponte dress and peach booties

The original pattern is a hoodie.  To get to a bomber jacket, I quick drafted a little collar band and cut it from my “ribbing”.  It also needs a center front zipper which is easily done.  Just add 3/8″ to center front and cut 2 fronts.  Boom.  Easy center front exposed zip.

closeup of ribbing on french terry bomber jacket and bracelet

Yes, there’s dye on the zip!

 My particular  zipper was white, but I dyed it with Rit DyeMore in yellow, super pink, and orange to get this peachy coral color.  This dye is my absolute favorite.  It’s so easy to blend, and I can dye a tiny very small things in under 5 minutes.  I love how the metallic look nylon coil picked up almost a rose gold hue with the dye.

closeup of ribbing made for french terry bomber jacket refashion

Make your own ribbing

I kept the length of the jacket as long as I could, but refashions are what they are.  To get more length I created my own ribbing with all of the sweatshirt ribbing, some of the sleeve hems, and some contrast coral ponte.  I know I’ve steered away from making bomber style jackets in the past because I could never find the right multicolored ribbing.  It was a revelation to just piece my own in strips.  This will not be the last time I do this!

The fronts are lined with the same coral ponte for a little extra warmth and some clean insides. 

Bust out the tools

removing metallic studs for sewing and gluing them back on after sewing with Fabric Fusion glue

The only tricky part of this whole refashion were the decorative studs.  To cut and sew my jacket, I had to remove the studs out of the seam alllowances.  Pliers make quick work of it.  After sewing was done, I glued them back on with Fabric Fusion.  Fun fact: I glued one stud to my forearm which was discovered later that day by my youngest student. 

french terry bomber jacket refashion and metallic studs

This kind of jacket is totally my style.  The minimal collar and knit fabric makes it easy to play in, and I can toss it on over just about everything.  I’ve already worn it with a seasonally inappropriate sundress and wool t-shirt!

Night look: that time when fabric really does speak to you

closeup of yellow embroidered organza trench coat

I know I’m among sewing people here who aren’t going to think I’m weird, but you all know those times when you see a fabric and it’s like the skies open up and you lose sight of just about everything for a second.  So it was with this embroidered organza.  It’s positively lemon AND it has a decorative selvage. 

yellow embroidered organza trench coat, blush pink dress

I found it discreetly hanging out on a shelf at Fabric Mart when I was at their store this last summer.  Instantly I knew it had to be a sheer trench coat.  It was a specific thought, but I’ve never wavered from the idea.

For it, I used Ottobre 2-2014-20 which is a super fabulous trench coat pattern with all the bells and whistles.  I will definitely be making a lined version of this at some point.

Making beautiful sheer seams and picking interfacing for fussy fabric

sheer seam finish on yellow embroidered organza

You always have to consider a couple of things when you’re working with sheer fabrics.  What seam finish you use is probably #1.  French seams are classic, but they were a little too heavy on this particular fabric which is heavy with the embroidery.  In the end, I used a cross between a Hong Kong finish and a French seam.  You sew the seam regularly, then trim one side of the seam.  Next, you wrap the untrimmed seam allowance around the trimmed one and stitch it down close to the wrapped edge.  It’s simple, clean, and a way lighter finish in this fabric.

collar of yellow embroidered organza trench coat

For interfacing, I used silk organza.  It’s time consuming to hand baste the organza to the fashion fabric pieces, but a popped collar is worth all of the time. The organza gave a lot of structure and stability, so I wasn’t a bit worried about all the many buttonholes or these giant vintage coat buttons.

yellow white striped buttons on yellow embroidered organza trench coat

Using the decorative selvages

scalloped front edges on yellow embroidered organza trench coat

If a fabric has a pretty selvage, use it.  Seriously.  You’ll thank me later.

For this one, I cut 1.75″ strips of the selvage and used them as trim along the front edges and hem.  The hems are a little tricky because they’re sewn a little bit like a pants cuff but so the “cuff” sits on the inside, exposing the trim.  I’m glad I had enough to add all of the trim on this one.  With 3 yards and a double scallop selvage, I used all but about 6″ of the 6 yards!

pockets on yellow embroidered organza trench coat, blush pink dress, and peach booties
of course there’s pockets

Where is lemon chiffon + blush going?

yellow embroidered organza trench coat, blush pink dress, and peach booties

I’d be really tempted to put this combination in a closet and only pull it out on really fancy occasions, but that would be totally against the whole idea of this year’s theme.  Nice dinners happen a few times a year, and a night at the opera once every few years.  Still, I’m determined to wear this everywhere.  Probably I’ll be at the grocery store, absurdly overdressed and happy to be so!

flatlay of yellow embroidered organza trench coat and Forbidden Island board game

For real though, this combination will be for sure making an appearance at the monthly Game Night my family and I attend.  We bust out all the nerdiest board games with friends and snacks and it’s all good fun.  It’ll be seasonally inappropriate this month, but Spring will be here soon!

Sewing a flexible wardrobe

This challenge has been good for me to help me thinking about how to add more flexibility in my wardrobe.  It’s so nice when you can go to get dressed and know that this goes with that goes with this.  It super helps with the stress of getting dressed, and the more I do it, the more I love my handmade wardrobe!

Are the ideas for your own Day and Night Dress Challenge popping yet?

Be sure to check out Karina and Helena’s own adventures!


  1. Find your lonely dress in your closet! Sew up 2 extra pieces to coordinate with your dress for a day look and a night look.
  2. Let other people know about it.  Use #dayandnightdresschallenge on Twitter and Instagram and follow the Day and Night Dress Challenge Facebook group.
  3. Keep reading here to find out the latest.  Follow Elizabeth Made This on Instagram andFacebook.
  4. Post a picture of your newly styled dress and extra pieces in your day look and your night look to Instagram to enter yourself.  Don’t forget to tag me @elizabethmadethis and use the #dayandnightdresschallenge.
  5. Grab the graphic below and post it on your site and/or repost on Instagram:     

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?

This lace back sweater was calling my name!  It was one of those moments when I saw something and had to make it immediately.  And I’m going to walk you through how you can make your own lace back sweater.  A little background…

Toaster Sweater hack

It all started with my mailbox.  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.

Lace back sweater: lace + zippers =fun

What you need


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.

Zipper back

Toaster Sweater hack

The first part of this hack involves creating the zipper in the back piece.  Stabilize the zipper area with fusible interfacing.

Next, add an exposed zipper treatment right at center back.  Make sure to sew the zipper in upside down.

Then you need to 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.

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.

At this point, baste the lace back to the zipper back.  The back is ready to go!  On to the front:

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.

Extra 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?

Pinterest image of lace back sweater

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.

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?




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,