This is a bit of a nothing sort of project, but this month I suppose I need something quick and easy. With my husband’s Doctor Who 10th Doctor suit on my docket, a super simple project is just the thing to keep my brain from being overwhelmed. There’s no less than 39 pattern pieces for the suit! This fall henley top was just what the Doctor (ha ha!) ordered!

Fall henley top

I’ve had this burnout jersey from Emma One Sock in my stash for a couple of years now. I dithered for a really long time trying to find the right pattern to show off this beautiful fabric. It’s even been washed and ready to go since Spring, yet I hesitated.

Do you ever do that? Get all ready for a project and then shelve it because you simply forget about it? I’ve talked before how I don’t often have unfinished objects (UFOs). Instead, I deal in NSOs (not started objects).

Burdastyle 12-2009-121 henley + my TNT t-shirt

I’ve made this henley top before. Burdastyle 12-2009-121 is a good basic henley, but when I went to make it, it occurred to me that all I needed to do was trace off the front placket and a copy of the neckline.

The front is a standard tee, but the CF is cut about 1/4″ away from the fold so you can sew in the placket. That’s it. There could hardly be a more simple tee variation.

Doctor Who 10th Doctor suit: the beginning

I was able to do a first muslin of my husband’s suit. The pants only need length changes, but the jacket will take a little more work.

He has a slightly more rounded upper back which will require a horizontal dart, plus he needs more width across the back and a little more breathing room in the hips. He’s traveling this week, so I won’t be able to do the changes and forge ahead, but that’s okay.
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I realized this week that planning for a big project takes up a lot of time but also a lot of mental space. While pondering this, I came up with 6 tips for planning a big project that will help you keep you from burning out when you reach the end. Have a look!



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!


I made another couple of things for SEWN recently, and though they’re not for me, I think they’re worth sharing.  I’ve really enjoyed making things for this store even if they don’t end up selling (I hope they do!).  It’s good to work with fabrics that I love even if they aren’t things that I would personally wear.  So it is with all of these back cutout dresses.

Bow back refashion

My lovely friend D agreed again to be my model.  She modeled some of my other dresses for SEWN here.  We’ve decided it’s fun to play dress up and no doubt I need to properly just make her something as a treat!

back cutout dresses


This stripe dress was a RTW dress I found.  I had an idea for a back cutout with bows that bridge the gap.  One of my son’s friends has a dress like this and it seemed a fun style for an adult as well.  I kept the front neckline the same and simply cut the back.  The back neckline is bound with foldover elastic.  For the bows, I cut bits of hot pink rayon/lycra from an old wrap top that I made eons ago.  Little strips of the navy stripe gather the centers of the bows.

back cutout dresses

The bows are simply attached behind the foldover elastic by stitching over where I attached the elastic and then right on the edge.  The only tricky bit was making sure that the bow was not too floppy.  No doubt this would’ve been easier on a dress form.  As it is, I tried it on, trying to imagine that my shoulders were as wide as this dress requires.  It fits D in the back really quite well.

Umbrella drink dress

back cutout dresses

I couldn’t believe my luck when this fabric showed up at the thrift store.  There’s a LOT of junk at thrift stores, but if you’re willing to look regularly, sometimes you find some gems.  This cotton is one of those gems.  All I could think was that this fabric needs a pina colada.  If ever we took a cruise, this beachy print sprinkled with sand and starfish punctuated with red and teal would seem completely appropriate.

The pattern has a great back cutout that’s gathered into the front waist.  It manages to show some skin at the back while not being distasteful.  Pair it with the high/low hem, and this dress is really perfect for summer.  I love it so much, I will literally cry if someone doesn’t buy it.

back cutout dresses

Geo squares and zigzag wax print dress

back cutout dresses

Can you believe I found this fabric thrifting too?  Who in her right mind throws out real wax print fabric?  After working with it, I get why people love this fabric so much.  It manages to be structural and yet it drapes really well and handles more delicate things like gathers.  Plus it’s easy to sew and press.  Combine that with the vibrant prints and I will never pass up a chance to work with this stuff!

back cutout dresses

The same Burdastyle 08-2014-116 looks really different in this fabric.  The wax print gives it a little more drama, and my addition of the coral foldover elastic on the sleeves and neck edge break up the print a little.

I’ve been excited to share these dresses for a while!  Thanks for reading!

sew precious

Are you participating in Deepika’s Sew Precious?  

When Deepika first announced her #sewprecious2017 pledge on Instagram, I nearly dropped my phone to jump on that wagon.

I don’t have a giant fabric stash, but I do have several pricier fabrics that have been hanging around for a long time.  Some of them were purchased with projects in mind that have long since been forgotten.  Others were bought because they were just lovely.  There’s others that haven’t been touched for fear of messing everything up.  Still, you get to the point when you realize what am I waiting for?  As such, I cut into not 1 but 2 of my nicest fabrics for this Sew Precious Embroidered Asymmetrical Skirt.

Sew Precious Embroidered Asymmetrical Skirt

The fabric

sew precious

Sew Precious is about the fabric, and I’ve got 2 here that are just beautiful.  Both of them I bought 3 years ago at Mood LA on a birthday trip with my husband that included a night at the opera.  Fabric is about my favorite travel souvenir.  My mother-in-law catalogs her memories in pictures, and I reckon, I do the same with fabric and opera.

Embroidered voile

sew precious

The first fabric is a blue green embroidered cotton.  You’ve already seen it in the trim of this cardigan.  I believe it was labeled voile, but it’s a little heavier than most of the voiles that I’ve sewn with.  There are threads of green and gold running in big loops all over the surface of the fabric, though there are several inches that are not embroidered on the selvedges.  I clearly did not notice the wide plain edges, or I would have bought more.  As such, I only bought 1.5 yards, thinking it’d be plenty for a skirt.  The full width of the fabric was just 45″, and with just over 6″ on either side, I didn’t have much to work with.  If I haven’t gotten around to using this fabric before now, it’s for a lack of knowing what to do with so little.

Giorgio Armani Silk/Cotton

The color scheme of my Wardrobe Sudoku solved the problem of not having enough of the voile.  All of the greens and blues that I’ve been able to combine in my past several garments gave me some confidence in adding a piece of contrast to the voile.  This pale green Giorgio Armani silk/cotton was the perfect fit.  Not only do the colors blend well together, but this fabric has a similar weight and body of the voile.  The embroidery makes the voile rather beefy, and the added silk makes the cotton have a particular texture that matches the voile nicely.  Both of the fabrics have just enough drape to do what I wanted them to do…

The pattern: Burdastyle 8-2014-105

While I look to Ottobre for excellent basics patterns that I can adapt at will, I always reach for Burdastyle for more unique patterns with interesting details.  This asymmetrical skirt (Burdastyle 8-2014-105) is a perfect example.  Take out the draped side panel and it’s a plain slight A-line skirt.  Add the side panel, and it becomes a perfect showcase for interesting fabric.


The pattern suggests brocade, so I figured both of my fabrics with their full body would work well.


Construction is fairly straightforward on this skirt.  The only tricky bit is the corners where the side panels meet the front and back.  As long as you mark the seam allowances and sew to the corner exactly, it’ll be no problem.  In some of the pictures, it looks like my corner is puckered, but that’s actually the weight of the drape making a little fold at the corner!  The other issue with the pattern is the suggested hem allowance.  Burdastyle suggests 1 5/8″ (4 cm) which is too deep.  It might be just fine for the straight portions of the skirt, but that deep of a hem on the curved portions of the side drape will = big lumpy hem.  I reduced the hem allowance to 3/4″ which was just right.

sew precious

I used some of the unembroidered voile for the waistband facing that I trimmed with some bias tape I made for the Hong Kong finish I did on my Alyse pants.  Having the nice smooth voile as a facing was much nicer than the bulkier, textured outer fabric.  Plus it matches perfectly!  The facing is stitched down invisibly by hand because I can’t abide floppy facings.

Business in the front…

sew precious

While I have never sported or condoned the unfortunate mullet hairstyle (oh the things that are “of an era!”), but I do think the description of “business in the front, party in the back” is hilarious.  As this pertains to my skirt, I had to cut my side drape and the skirt back on the crossgrain to accommodate my shortage of fabric.  While I could have cut both of the side drapes from the Armani fabric, I kind of liked the idea of just having the contrast at the back of the skirt.  Not only could I conserve the Armani for another project, but I get the best of both looks.  Embroidered in the front, contrast at the back.


This is just the kind of skirt that bodysuits were made for.  sew precious

That big full skirt really does well with the smooth fitted bodysuit underneath.  And I love it with the cardigan too.  It’s a bit of a nod to the styles of the past with a modern twist of the inset side panels.

sew precious

sew precious

I am in love with the mustard stripe dress ensemble and black cardigan.:

netting tee: Elizabeth Made This

Whew!  I’m in the process of moving my site over to wordpress.org as well as writing 2 articles for 2 different sewing magazines.  While I’m in the process of that, I will be blogging my unblogged projects to create the illusion that sewing is happening when in reality writing, photography, and website management are taking up all my waking hours.

Netting Tee

First up, this netting tee made from a cotton/poly netted lace.  I had in my mind the idea of a spring “sweater”.  I use the term loosely because the netting does not keep you warm in the slightest.  Still, it’s an unusual fabric, and I wanted to let it be it’s weird self.

Linen fringed jacket: Elizabeth Made This

Sometimes you’re simply inefficient.  I usually get a lot done in the course of a day, but for some reason it just didn’t happen with this jacket.  I’m blaming it on the fact that I haven’t made a jacket in 2 years and am apparently very very rusty.  *Full disclosure*–I made this jacket last summer and never blogged it because by the time I finished it, it was snowing.  Linen and snow aren’t good companions.

The pattern is Burdastyle 3-2013-103: a linen fringe jacket with a standing collar.  The original jacket is very, very long, but thankfully models #101 and 102 from this issue are the same with some key detail changes.  I chose the length from #101, the pockets from #102 and the sleeves and pocket flaps from #103

dress for the opera

In the middle of our Spring Break in which all of us were in various stages of hacking colds, my husband and I were able to get away for a night to go to LA and see Lucia di Lamermoor at the opera.  Despite having to cough periodically and generally feeling badly, it was a special treat to be away from the kids and have some time to just enjoy each other’s company.  There was a pre-opera lecture that conductor James Conlon gave which happily launched me to Music History Nerdyland.  We did discover that Bel Canto is not for my husband–the music is not interesting at all to him, so he endures opera only if there is sufficient plot to make it okay.  Wagner–yes…Donizetti, not so much.

I was able to go to Michael Levine and found some really nice nylon tricot and mesh fabric for lining knits.  I got a few random notions and some jewelry at the FIDM Scholarship Store.  The next day I had a wonderful time at Mood and found some really pretty fabrics that I’m really excited about.  For now they are in the stash and I will figure out what to do with them later.

Even though I felt awful during the night of the opera, it was nice to have a dress for the opera to wear in the way of Burdastyle 9-2010-122.

A dress for the opera


Sometimes I get into the thick of a pattern and realize it’s just not going to work for me.  Such was the case with Ottobre 5-2012-4 that I hinted at on this post.  I love the idea of this pattern–a big cardigan to toss over a dress with a belt.  But as I started tracing it,

  1. Ottobre was unusually unclear in how the thing was supposed to come together.  There were some side seams that you were supposed to sew but from the pieces you were supposed to be tracing, it was not obvious that there even were side seams.  Strange… but really
  2. I realized that this Ottobre pattern was going to be a drop shoulder affair.  Being small of frame, having shoulder seams that drop off my actual shoulder is an enormous pet peeve I have about RTW.  It just looks like I’m wearing the wrong size.

So, as I’ve done before, I took what I liked about the Otto pattern and made it work for me.  I went back to this cardigan and shortened it so that it would hit me about mid-thigh.  What I loved about this pattern is how the shawl collar ends in these pretty darts for added shaping.  It’s subtle, but it makes for some pretty feminine lines that are so often gone in cardigans.

Rose Gold Sparkle Cardigan