Can’t Get Ahead of the Curve Kimono!

I’m not a sew-alonger. Apparently, it’s not in my nature to want to follow the crowd. I don’t always play well with others.

My mom tells a story of when I was about 4 or 5 years old. We were living in Pennsylvania, and there were a few neighborhood kids that I would play with every now and then. One day, I came home whimpering and crying. When my mom asked me what was wrong, I’m sure she expected to hear that I’d hurt myself or that someone had been mean to me. Nope. My answer? “I haven’t gotten to play by myself¬†all day!”

It seems that I never grew out of that ūüôā

So, while I hadn’t really intended to take part in the amazing Oonapalooza, and I can’t honestly say that I consciously made the following garment with that in mind, maybe, just maybe, a little bit of Oona wriggled her way into my subconscious and whispered “remember the mantis shrimp,” and I was suddenly filled with technicolor urges. Maybe that’s what happened. . .

Because, if you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve been sewing lots of solids and simple geometric prints. There’s not a whole lot in the way of dazzling color in my budding, basic wardrobe. So, how else could you explain¬†this?

Striped Kimono 3

Okay, maybe you could look at my Pinterest and see that I’ve been craving me some kimono. Or you could look at my closet door full of Post-its and see that I’ve even listed “floral kimono” as part of the outfit I wish I were wearing–more than once, in fact!

Striped Kimono 2

And maybe it’s my secret inner hipster that really wants everyone to know that I’ve been planning to sew a kimono for months. In fact, when I saw the tutorial on Elle Apparel, I wondered why no one else was sewing kimonos. But, as it happens, now that I’ve finally purchased fabric and sewed it up and taken pictures, I’ve already seen kimonos everywhere.¬†Does it really matter? No. Not in the slightest.

Striped Kimono 1

I made a couple of changes to the tutorial. I added a neck band (two rectangles in front and a bias strip along the curve at the back of the neck because–I don’t know–it felt like the right thing to do) and fringe trim on the hem. The fringe serves the main purpose of covering up my original hem which was¬†terrible.

But who cares about all that, just¬†look at it.¬†It doesn’t really rest on the body–it floats around it.

Striped Kimono 4

When I slip on this kimono jacket, I am instantly Glenn Close from Sunset Boulevard, maybe slightly less wacko. I don’t just walk, I glide–I swan.¬†I also feel like I need to carry around a peacock feather to brandish in people’s faces when they’ve been talking too long and I would like them to kindly shut up and go away.

The fabric is rayon voile. The only discernible difference between rayon voile and rayon challis (to this ignorant eye) is that challis has a bit more “tooth” to it. Voile–you whisper, and it runs away. Literally attempts to escape you as you lay it out for cutting. I should have bathed it in gelatin, but I was too impatient.

Here you see how one side is spot on, the other side is spot OFF.

Here you see how one side is spot on, the other side is spot OFF.

I think I finally understand why people sew “impractical” maxi dresses and Cascade skirts. There’s something to be said for leaving a cloud of fabric behind you for a mili-second after you walk away, like a faint echo or a wisp of perfume.

Striped Kimono 5

To put it simply, this is the garment manifestation of my summer self. And if proudly displaying a little bit of your soul on your sleeve isn’t what Oonapalooza-ing is about, then I’m not sure what is.


The “I’m Just Asking for Trouble” Shorts (Plus a Refashion!)

I’ve mentioned this before, but I love white. It may be plain, boring, and downright risky to wear, but I enjoy the clean crispness of it.

When I planned to make a navy Archer, I envisioned wearing it with white skinny jeans. However, as the months passed and the temperatures grew and the Archer did not get finished, I had to temporarily change my plans. Thus, the idea for a pair of white Maritime shorts was born.

You’ve already gotten a glimpse of these when I finally shared my navy Archer.

Archer and Maritime1

Sewing the Maritime shorts is a really satisfying project–not just because they straight up fit without all the drama! Maybe it’s because they’re so small; every seam is a short one. Maybe it’s because they’re so stinkin’ practical; I love sewing things I know I’m going to wear. Or, maybe it’s just because there are so many little pieces that come together in the most glorious way possible.

If you remember, my “muslin” pair were too big. For these, I cinched in the waist about 1/4″ at the side seams. I’m thinking of lengthening and tapering the legs a bit for my next pair.

Archer and Maritime Side¬†There are a few steps in the process that gave me pause. First, the patch pockets. They’re not hard, just fiddly. They’re topstitched twice. First before being attached to the shorts. I sewed one row just to hold down the folded edges inside. Second when they were attached to the shorts. Nothing groundbreaking!

I also had a bit of trouble when I first attached the pocket to the pocket lining. I knew that the pieces would fit together, but the lining was consistently coming up short. Finally, I basted each piece along the seam line, used about a million pins, and eased the two together. It worked perfectly then.

Peplum and Maritime 1

And finally, as you can guess, the fly zipper was a challenge. It wasn’t my first fly front zipper; but it had been a while since I’d put one in. When I sewed the muslin, I was glued to the directions. However, I’m pleased to report that I barely glanced at them this time around and the zipper turned out rather well!

Seriously, if you’re scared of a fly zip, stop it right now! If I can do one, you certainly can, too! ūüôā Check out Jen’s tutorial. And there are many others out there as well!

Peplum and Maritime 2

Here’s the obvious deal with white shorts: 1. the major stain factor. All I have to do is brush up against a car in a parking lot or sit on any surface outside when the pollen takes over or lean against a dusty piece of furniture and–Ooops–shorts need to be washed. And 2. the visible underwear factor. I don’t currently have “nude” lady pants. I should probably get on that. While I tend to wear longer tops–especially longer in the back where I appreciate the coverage–I’d rather not leave my fate up to a sudden gust of wind.

Archer and Maritime back

However, I still really love these shorts!

Now, you may be curious about the top I’m wearing with them. This is another refashion, very similar to the first. This is my Not-a-Dress Peplum that I made back in the winter. I never, ever wore it, so I had to figure out why or let it go. First, I fixed the neckline by adding more topstitching with my twin needle. This helps the seam allowance underneath behave itself. Next, I chopped off the sleeves and added darts and binding.¬†Peplum BindingPeplum 3

The waist is a little high, about a 1/2″ above my natural waist–just enough to be annoying. It’s a little tight as well. Truth be told, I’ve put on weight this summer. Too much lying around eating Snickers Ice Cream bars. Sigh–sometimes, eating healthy is a real challenge! I suspect that I’ll trim down once school starts and I’m eating like a grown up. We shall see!

Peplum and Maritime 4

As you read this (if you’re reading Monday afternoon), I will be on a plane headed home from Phoenix, drinking ginger ale and listening to podcasts. I really wish I could read on planes, but my brain thinks it makes me sick. Stupid brain.

Summer vacation is almost over, friends. Next Thursday, I’ll be back at school and the Thursday after that, the children arrive. I admit, I feel a bit of End of Summertime Sadness, but I’m so, so excited about my new job. And it’s about this time of year that I start longing for falling leaves, pumpkin-flavored¬†everything,¬†and crisp, cool temperatures.

Speaking of which, isn’t it about time to start planning my autumn sewing??

A Lucky, Not-So-Lucky Plantain (And Maritime Muslin!)

And now that I’ve revealed my summer sewing plan, let’s start with something completely unrelated, shall we? ūüėČ

I love it when indie designers offer free patterns. I’m not one to purchase a pattern just because everyone else is–thank goodness! I simply don’t have the budget for every new bit of indie awesomeness that comes my way. So, before I invest in a semi-pricey pattern, I like having the chance to get to know a designer a bit better with a free pattern offering. It gives me¬†an opportunity¬†to see how the downloading works and how the patterns and instructions are laid out.

Deer and Doe designs, as you know, are very beautiful; however, I’d never met one that I just absolutely had to have. Until the Plantain started appearing. I really loved the relaxed fit and the elbow patches–and the price!

The first Plantain I made was several months ago just after the pattern was released. It was really an experiment/stash buster. I used what I think was some rayon ribbed knit in white with some leftover navy for the elbow patches. I don’t know why exactly–maybe I was all about going oversized to pair with some leggings I’d made?–but I made a size or two too large and lengthened the sleeves and the hem, I think. The result was. . . comfy. But not something to be worn out of the house.

So, a few weeks ago, when I purchased some green and white striped jersey from Girl Charlee (it was perfectly cut! They can do it!) with no pattern in mind, I eventually settled on attempting the Plantain again.

Plantain 1


I ended up cutting different sizes in different areas based on the fit of my first Plantain. The neckline and shoulders are a 34 which goes out to a 40 at the end of the shoulder. The side seams are a 40 or 42 (can’t remember!) and then the length is a 46.¬†Once it was all sewn together, I eyeballed the hi-lo hem (which was not my wisest decision) with a rotary cutter.

Plantain 2I am rather in love with the result. The fabric tends to bunch up a bit above my bust, so perhaps I should have sized a bit differently in the shoulder area. The hem is a bit odd at the side seams; I should have worked out a smoother transition there.


Plantain StitchingI used my stretch twin needle for all my topstitching. I finally figured out how to adjust the tension of my bobbin–which is a rather scary thing to do as there’s no visual indication of how tight it is. So, there is some trial and error involved. But, a looser bobbin thread helps the fabric not pucker up as much between the two rows of topstitching and it helps maintain a proper zig zag on the bottom. It looks altogether more polished and professional than any other non-coverstitch machined topstitching, I think.


Plantain 3

As luck would have it, the first time I wore my brand new Plantain out, I came home with an oil smudge on the front. I have no idea when that happened. Since it was about 2:00 a.m., I just doused it with cornstarch (in hopes that it would absorb the oil) and washed it in the morning. At first, I thought I’d conquered the stain, but once it came out of the dryer, I could still faintly see the spot. You don’t really notice it unless you know it’s there, and you certainly can’t see it in pictures.

The second time I wore it, I got a tiny tomato sauce splash spot right in one of the white stripes. I pretreated and washed it immediately and luckily that stain came right out. But the oil smudge persists.

Oh well–if I can manage to wear this top without destroying it, I plan to live in it for the rest of the summer. Wish me luck!

The shorts are my first pair of Grainline Maritime Shorts. They are made with a rather terrible cotton/poly blend stretch denim. It feels lovely and soft on the outside and like P.E. in the 80’s on the inside.

Plantain 4


Truth be told, they are too big. So too big that I don’t need to unzip or unbutton them to take them off. It’s a little ridiculous; it’s also due to the stretch in the fabric. But, can we all just take a moment to celebrate that this is the first time in the history of the world that I have SEWN A PATTERN STRAIGHT OUT OF THE ENVELOPE. And by that I mean that I made absolutely ZERO changes to the pattern and it just fits (except for the largeness–but they stay on just fine! Seriously, it’s the fabric).

Actually, it’s not the first time–I sewed the Archer without any mods. But the Archer needs some armhole adjusting, so I’m not sure it counts.

Whatever, y’all. Jen gets me.

When I discovered the ickiness of the fabric, I decided to use it as a wearable muslin. I think I sewed a 10 because that’s what I did with my Moss. But, I’m just so happy that there’s no weird gaping or enormous leg holes or odd crotch curving or riding up. The shorts just¬†fit, and I’m so relieved that I don’t have to work on them forever to make them pretty much perfect.

And now, I need to put together a little weekend wardrobe. Friday, I am flying to Arizona for a yearbook conference (my very first grown up business trip!) which I will be late for because my flight gets in with not enough time for me to get my car and drive to the hotel and they were going to charge me $200 to change it! Ummm. . . no. But, whatevs! I’m excited and a bit nervous because I may have to Talk to People. Did you know that I’m super socially awkward? I totally am.

And once I get back, it will be time to start gearing up for school. Wow–where did the summer go??? Must. Sew. FASTER!

Making a Plan: Summer Sewing

Whew! Part 2 was a job, wasn’t it? I had no idea I would take so long with it! But, I did get it done in the end!

Naturally, I have made a summer sewing plan–you know how I am! One of my major goals is to prepare for next fall. A new teaching job demands a new teaching wardrobe, am I right? ūüėČ But, I also need to stay cool and clothed in these sweltering summer months ahead.

Here’s what’s in store:


So excited about this pattern! My other Grainline makes, Moss and Archer, get worn all the time. You already know–because people far more important than me have already told you–that the patterns are impeccably drafted and her directions and sew-alongs are super helpful during construction. This pattern also is one of the patterns up for one of the coveted Top 11 TNT spots. (I imagine my patterns all sitting around discussing who will make it through to the finals. Some of them are probably practicing their gracious loser face while secretly rehearsing their acceptance speech.)

I plan to live in these all summer and pair them with my Archers, my cheerful Sorbetto, and the two tees I’ve made so far. I have other tops in mind, but they might not¬†get made this summer. (Look at me practicing restraint!)

I find that I really like stretch wovens for bottoms. They just work well with my shape and are far more comfortable than wovens without stretch. Not to mention being much easier to fit! I went with two very basic neutrals, though in the future, there shall be prints. Just you wait and see!


This was originally supposed to be a slightly modified Lady Skater. However, when the lovely fabric arrived from Girl Charlee, I failed to notice that it had been cut twelve inches too short (I did write to GC two months after receiving the fabric and they very kindly gave me a store credit for a half yard even though it was outside the return window and I had actually washed the fabric–check your fabric upon arrival, my friends!). Also, the fabric was a bit too narrow for me to do the kimono sleeve mod I had in mind. So, when I found out about this brand new tank pattern on¬†Sew Charleston, it seemed like a perfect match.

Sleeveless and loose-fitting, it is the ideal top for southern summers and is going to be smashing with my Maritime shorts.


(Yes, I know that’s not a Lady Skater line drawing. Such a thing does not exist, sadly.) I will be sewing this mid-weight ponte dress in the sultry Southern summer fully aware that I will not be wearing it until the heat and humidity die off in the early autumn. I have two very slight mods in mind for this dress inspired by the red dress Zoey Deschanel wears in the opening credits of New Girl. You may remember me mentioning it in this post.

I’m not going to pleat the skirt since A-lines and semi-circles work best for my shape, but I do want to play with the sleeve shape a bit and maybe add some other details that are floating around my brain.

Skater Mod

When I saw this sweet aqua and coral plaid knit on Girl Charlee, I was immediately inspired to make a Colette Jasmine/ Lady Skater mash up top based on¬†this top which I pinned many moons ago. I confess it’s not the most practical choice for a separate since what I really need is tops to go with my red Moss, but every now and then you have to let your fancy be your guide. It will work with both of my Maritime shorts and with both of my denim skirts. It may possibly work with a turquoise skirt which I will mention later, but I’m not sure yet.


Yay! Another shift! When I spotted this fabric in Jo-Ann’s a while back, I just Had to Have. I waited at least a month, though, while trying to decide what I would do with it. At first, I envisioned a fit-and-flare dress. Then I pictured a circle skirt paired with a Swiss dot Jasmine. Then, I settled on the shift. After spending so much time on the pattern, I want to use it as much as possible.

The shift will be sleeveless. I had thought about playing around with the neckline or adding pockets, but I’m going to keep it simple. The fabric really speaks for itself.

A line 2

This skirt (and the next) are both specifically made to go with my red t-shirt. I hardly ever wear that tee and only then with the A-line skirt I made to go with it. So, while in Jo-Ann’s when buying the linen above, I picked out a couple quilting cottons to make more A-lines.

After buying this fabric, however, I experienced some pretty serious buyer’s remorse. I felt the flowers were too cute, too reminiscent of something I may have worn in elementary school. But, I’m just going to embrace the twee and make something adorable. And that’s that.

A line 1

This fabric is so similar to my first A-line that it’s almost ridiculous that I bought it. But, I really liked it! So, I plan to make¬†a flared version to mix things up a bit.


Very excited about this one. Moss is amazing. Turquoise is amazing. What will I wear with it?? Stop raining on my parade! Turquoise Moss forever!

When I start making these sewing plans of mine, I always feel that I’m keeping it very simple. And then I write everything down and realize that I have twenty makes on my to-do list for two months. So, even though I have other secret items I’ll be working on, these are the 9 that I will commit myself to. My goal is to be done by August.

I know–I laughed at that a little, too.

But, as usual my sewing is far ahead of my posting. So at this point, I’ve finished three¬†five items on this list and have two others all cut out and ready to go. I think I’m actually going to get everything done on schedule–except for the red Lady Skater, probably. That one needs some sleeve work, and we all know how many hours that’s going to take me!

So, what are you sewing this summer? Swimsuits? Sundresses? Southern hemisphere winter-wear?

Tips for Buying Fabric Online (Or: Things I Learned the Hard Way)

If you don’t live anywhere near a “garment district” or even just a decent fabric store, you have probably at one point or another ordered fabric online. I love shopping online! Seriously–what’s better than arriving home only to find a package of potential amazingness waiting on your front porch?

However, convenience comes at a price. And I’m not just talking about shipping costs. When you buy fabric in person, you get the opportunity not only to feel its weight and drape but also to watch your fabric cutter with the eyes of a hawk while he/she cuts your precious fabric. These are not things you can do when you order online. Yes, there are swatches (usually), but that takes an extra dose of patience as you have to go through the ordering and shipping process¬†twice¬†(horrors!).

So, inspired by events from my own life, here are three very important tests your fabric must pass before it can graduate from the shipping parcel to the washing machine.

1. Check your fabric for snags, holes, or any other cosmetic issues. This is the one that we probably already do. Though, there has been a time or two that I’ve had my fabric laid out and ready to cut and I’ve discovered a hole that I needed to work around.

2. Lay your fabric out to check the grain. Crazy, off-grain cutting has happened to me twice. In both cases, I didn’t discover the problem within the (in this case, two week) return window. I generally have my fabric on the shelf for months before I use it (I’m a planner, not a hoarder!), so waiting until I’m ready to cut a fabric is not a good time to discover grain problems.

3. Measure the length of your fabric to be sure you received what you ordered. This is a very recent issue, occurred just last Friday actually. I was laying out some cotton/lycra knit (so pretty!)¬†to see if I had enough to modify the Lady Skater in a certain way, and then discovered that of the 2 yards I ordered, I received 1 yard and 24″. Again, I ordered the fabric two months ago¬†and have already washed it once. (And if the fabric actually¬†shrank 12″, then we have bigger problems!)

Apparently, I am a very trusting person by nature, so I have always just assumed that companies are sending me what I pay for cut in a way that I can actually use ALL of what I pay for. But, this is not always the case.

Believe me, I am in no way hating on online fabric stores. We love our fabric suppliers, don’t we? Those of us who live in places that are not L.A. or New York or Chicago depend on them; we hope they stay in business forever! Plus, I’ve cut fabric. I know it’s tricky.

All I’m saying is that we the customers need to do our part to keep the fabric sellers accountable, for remaining accountable is how they will stay in business.

And that, my friends, is that.

So. . . am I the only person with blind trust issues??

Winter/Spring Sewing Plan Recap


I’ve been sewing¬†this plan FOREVAH! Let’s see how it all turned out, shall we?

B5794 Tie


I do like this dress. I’ve worn it frequently since finishing it. It’s sort of a mess with the gathers and the neckline, but I’m calling it an “Overall Win.”

B5794 Cowl

B5794 Peplum Front

A fabric fail and cowl neck fail led to this scoop neck peplum. I confess, I don’t wear it very often at all. I think the problem is the neckline. It’s really quite a mess. Perhaps I’ll fix it. Actually, I just got a refashioning idea that would be great for the summer. So, we’ll dub this a “Partial Win.”



I love this dress quite a lot. It was a struggle, and it’s not perfect, but I love it. “Win” all round.

S1776 knit


Red Top 1

This is one of those times when I’m really glad things didn’t go according to plan. I love, love this top. Absolute WIN.

Lady Skater Dress (Red)


Too tight, but still comfy. This is a “Win, with Reservations.”



Love this dress, but the blue bled into the white stripes after wearing (and continues to bleed each time I wear it–even after multiple washes.) I have a Hail Mary play in my pocket. We’ll see. . . ¬†This is a “Dress, Win; Fabric, Fail.”



Even though the skirt tends to float upwards while I wear it, this is still an “Epic Win.”

Archer Navy Archer 1


FINALLY DONE!! Yay! Come on–it’s Archer. Of course, it’s a win. I need to do some adjusting of the arm holes so I can go sleeveless and fix some chestal gappage issues, but seriously–this pattern is so full of win.

Lady Skater Peplum

LS Peplum Side

I feel like I never wear this top, but it’s not a top for warm weather. I did wear it several times while it was still cold. It’s too tight, and that makes it not super comfortable. Redoing the sleeves would go a long way to making it more wearable. So, this is another “Win, with Reservations.”

Overall, I have a very negative impression of this lineup, simply because it took soooooo long to finish! But, there are some very wearable pieces in the mish-mash plus a couple of rousing successes. And even the fails are potentially fixable.

Final Thoughts: Sewing according to a plan with a color palette in mind really does work for me. Though my tendency is to over-plan, I do have enough tenacity to see it through. . . eventually. My¬†fabric and pattern purchases are smarter; my stashes are smaller; my wardrobe is growing and getting regularly worn. I feel like I’m finally reaching a point where I know what looks good on me, I know what I like, and I know what I’m comfortable wearing. I’m learning to identify the¬†patterns and fabrics that live where those three qualities¬†intersect.

I’ll be back soon¬†with a summer sewing plan!

Wardrobe sewers, how’s it going? Have you made any life-changing wardrobe discoveries lately?

A Red, White, and Blue Refashion

Yesterday was a cutting day. After what felt like a looooong afternoon (it was more like two hours or so), I now have five project boxes full of freshly cut fabrics just waiting to head to the machine. I’m very excited for a brand new batch of projects; I’m less excited about the slipcovers I have to make for my parents first.

That, however, is not the point! I have recently dipped my toe into the realm of refashioning (is that a mixed metaphor?) and thought I would toss up a quick post to show you how it went.

Here’s a thing about me: I never wear holiday appropriate colors for holidays. I NEVER wear red or green on Christmas, pink on Valentine’s Day, orange on Halloween, or the hues¬†of “Old Glory” on Independence Day. I don’t know why; I just won’t.

However, I will wear red, white, and blue together on off days (same with red and green). Which is why I’m showing you this outfit today, but I’m certainly NOT wearing it ūüôā

Remember this top? If you do, then we’ve been friends for a while!

New Look 6107 china jerseyNew Look 6107 china jersey sleeve

This is a modified New Look 6107 sewn in a jersey rather than a woven. I always liked the top, but I found that I never wanted to wear it. Since I don’t keep things I never wear, I had to find a way to make it wearable or get rid of it. After pondering the problem, I realized it was the sleeves.

So, I cut them off, added some (very deep!) darts to close up the gaping armholes, sewed on some narrow binding, topstitched with a twin needle and bam! I now have a summer top I actually want to wear (and have worn quite a few times since finishing it!).

Knit NL6107 Refashion

I realized that it would pair nicely with my red Moss, which is lovely because I’ve been on a quest to figure out what I should wear¬†with it.

NL6107 1

NL6107 2



And since I never showed you any Moss detail shots, here’s a little glimpse of the insides. (Red is so hard to photograph! In reality, the fabric doesn’t hurt your retinas.)

And that’s it.

NL6107 Moss

I plan to do more analysis of my wardrobe in the coming months, particularly as I gear up for a new school year. My goal is to find what I don’t wear and then figure out why. I hope I’ll discover some sewing mistakes to avoid in the process (i.e. puffy sleeves are not for me!).

Farewell, friends! I hope you’re all having a lovely Fourth of July! (Even if you’re in a country where it’s not a holiday–have a great day anyway! ūüôā )

Looking-Glass Archer (We’re All Mad Here. . .)

Has it ever taken you so long to complete a project that when you finally DO complete it, you just want to sit and bask in it’s completed glory for a while? And then while you’re basking in the glory, you realize you made a rather egregious error in construction?


Navy Archer 2

Welcome to the world, navy Archer! Let’s have a chat about you. . .

As I have made this pattern four other times, you would think that I would know what I’m doing at this point. For instance, that I would know which way the sleeve pleats face (I always have to check. Every. Time.), or which side of the cuffs belong to the button and which to the buttonhole, or WHICH SIDE OF THE SHIRT NEEDS BUTTONHOLES.

Archer Button Fails

What is particularly remarkable about this rendition of the Archer is that I managed to do the button plackets on the front correctly, but when I went to sew on the buttonholes, I put them on the wrong side. Never once during the process becoming aware of the terrible mistake I was making. In fact, I didn’t notice until I’d been wearing the shirt for a few hours.

Sigh. . . honestly. . .

However, I think since the navy is so dark, no one else on the planet would either notice or care. And if they do, well, they’re obviously a super judgy-pants sort of person and they officially don’t count.

Navy Archer 3


Full disclosure–I made the same mistake on the cuffs. I realized the problem, though, before I opened the buttonholes, so I just sewed buttons on top of them. No one cares. It’s fine.

Will either of these issues stop me from wearing the crap out of this shirt? NOPE.

Navy Archer 4


Even though I have now made this shirt five times, I’m still dreaming of more, In particular, I want a sleeveless version. But, there’s work to be done on the shoulders and armholes before that happens.

Navy Archer 1


And that, my friends, marks the end of my winter/spring sewing plan from¬†January¬†(or was it December?). It feels SO good to be done with it. My shift dress trials really slowed things down for a long while. I’ll do a wrap up post shortly, and then it’s on to new adventures!

A Summer Top for Fighting Fate (Or Embracing It. . . Whichever)

This top was almost not meant to be. Or maybe, it was ALWAYS meant to be. . .

Red Top 2


To begin with, I wanted a shift with 3/4 sleeves to wear with tights in the cooler weather. Well, that was just a bad idea. Tights and knits don’t work so well for me. So, when I had my Girl Charlee fabric fail #2, I had to ditch the sleeves and make a sleeveless shift for warmer weather which was a much better idea.

My goal was to take my highly modified Simplicity 1776 shift pattern and adjust it for knits thereby making two block patterns from one. Things. . . did not go well. It ended up too big and the side seams were mis-matched. The skirt looked bad, as though it were too full and also not full enough. Very odd.

Red Top 3

As it happened, a few Thursdays ago, I was heading out for some waffles and¬†Bourne Supremacy with friends, and I simply couldn’t decide what I wanted to wear. I wanted something light and flowy and comfy. I had been working on my shift that afternoon, and suddenly, I got an idea.

The shift dress clearly wasn’t working for me. Perhaps this fabric was never meant to be a dress. So, I got out my shears and went to work. Literally ten minutes later, I was walking out the door in an unhemmed, unfinished but supremely adorable knit top. It was everything I wanted it to be. Except done.

Red Top 4

I later went back and bound the neckline and arms with a new-to-me technique that leaves the insides looking much cleaner. I sewed the binding to the inside and then flipped it out to the right side and top stitched it down enclosing the raw edges underneath.

Red Top Neck Binding

I actually received a compliment from a Jo-Ann’s employee when I was dashing in for some thread or a zipper or something the other day. She asked if I’d made the top. I said, “Yes.” And being a Jo-Ann’s employee, she thought to¬†ask what pattern I’d used. I said, “We-ell. . . ” and by the time I’d finished explaining, she looked very sorry she’d asked. ūüôā

Here’s a thing I will always tell: The Whole Story.

Red Top 1

So, in spite of all the troubles, I am stupidly happy with this top. If you would like to make something similar, I suggest using Deer and Doe’s Plantain tee sans sleeves with a slightly modified hem if you’re into the high/low thing (LIKE I CLEARLY AM!!). I won’t use my cobbled 1776 for knits pattern again as it was wrongity-wrong (And yet, SO RIGHT).

(Wait–could I use the Plantain to make a knit shift? That could be a thing, right???)

Here’s what I want to know: what is your favorite top/shirt/tee/blouse pattern for summer? Drop me a link to one you’ve made–I’m always up for inspiration!

Seven Stash Essentials

On an earlier post where I got all ranty about stashes, I received some remarkably wise and insightful comments from a couple of readers who really got me thinking differently about the purpose of a stash.

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Well, of course! It makes sense to stockpile fabric and notions that you need over and over. I have no idea why that never occurred to me until it was gently pointed out, but I’m here to tell you, I am so on board with this idea. So, let’s talk about the top Seven Stash Essentials that I plan to collect this year (and by that, I mean between now and next summer. Isn’t it weird how I’ve suddenly switched to the “school year” mentality?).

(Note: I’m excluding thread because I feel that having things like white or navy thread–depending on what you sew the most–is a given. And needles. Any sewist worth her salt has at least a small collection of the needles she uses the most.)

1. Lightweight fusible cotton interfacing

I use this stuff for almost every single woven fabric project. I get tired of running to the store again and again searching for it. As soon as it is feasible for me, I’m buying this stuff in bulk. If you have a favorite cotton interfacing that comes in widths of 45″ or more, do let me know! The stuff at Jo-Ann’s is okay, but so narrow!

2. Fusible tricot interfacing

I love using this stuff for any kind of stretch fabric that needs a little more structure. I used it on my stretch denim Simplicity 2451, and it behaved perfectly. I also have a lot of ideas for knits that need interfacing, and I want to have it on hand when I start experimenting.

3. Muslin

Come fall, I will be in great need of muslin. I’m planning on perfecting at least one dress from my Magnificent 11,¬†and I’m dedicating September entirely to pants. Since I got rid of all the fabric in my stash that I didn’t want, I find myself needing actual muslin to help with my fitting endeavors.

4. White cotton/lycra knit

Here’s the thing: I love white. It’s clean and versatile and universal and lovely. It also stains like the Dickens. I go through white tees and camis like you wouldn’t believe! Therefore, I want to buy a whole bolt of this stuff to have on hand for immediate replacements. What am I going to do with my army of retired white tops? I’m going to dye them and depending on how the dye bath works out, I’ll rotate them back into the wardrobe, wear them to bed, or turn them into underwear (or, as I’ve decided to call them from here on out, “lady pants.”)

5. Clear 1/4″ elastic

This is my knit seam stabilizer of choice. I also use it instead of regular elastic for waist seams. It works beautifully! I always hated clear elastic because I was using the terrible Dritz brand you find in chain fabric stores. Awful stuff! I eventually took a chance on a random internet shop and bought 50 yards of the loveliest, softest clear elastic for something like $12 (which included shipping!). I can tell you that after lots of wearing and washing and pressing, this elastic has not worn out on any of the knits I’ve applied it to.

6. Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite, 1/2″

I cannot hem knits without it. I can’t. I refuse. Sadly, however, Steam-a-Seam is temporarily out of production while they sort through some manufacturing issues. (The fact that I took the time to look up this information tells you a lot about my obsession.) Company reps assure us that the product will be back and better than ever very soon. They better be right because not only do I use SaS for knits, I also use it for zippers, patch pockets, and anything else that I don’t want to pin. Get on it, Warm Company!

7. White lining (rayon bemberg and cotton voile or batiste)

Okay–I’m totally cheating on this one by putting two different fabrics in one category. I typically line any cold weather clothes with rayon bemberg and warm weather clothes with cotton (if I line those at all). I’m thinking that if I have white, I can always dye the lining to match. Though, I kind of like the idea of all my clothes being lined in white. I might also consider stocking up on black or navy rayon bemberg for winter.

What do you think? Do you stock up on essentials? What would be in your top seven list (or even better, a Top Ten list!)?