Monday, October 12, 2020

Surprises while "On Safari"

Have you found yourself making a decision that surprises even you? I have a pretty clear sense of what I love and don't love as it relates to my style. I feel like most of what I make is generally in line with my style aesthetic. Until now, animal prints have not featured prominently.

I recently collaborated with Queenora Renee fabrics to produce a line of pattern weights featuring her fabric designs. Her Black Girl Magic Leopard print ignited a newfound passion for animal prints that I had never been drawn to before. I explained my attraction to her fabrics by the afro hairstyles represented in the prints, not the animal theme itself.

Flash forward to the new fabric releases on the horizon for Riley blake, I was  surprisingly drawn to several of their upcoming animal prints. When the "On Safari" fabric arrived my husband opened the package and exclaimed "Whoa!" with my choice of the Brown Leopard. In our 20 years together and 18 years married, he has never seen me wear an animal print. This fabric was totally off script for me, but we were both intrigued.

When I selected this design, I did not have a plan for what I was going to make with this "out of my wheelhouse" fabric choice. Fortunately, I was recently generously gifted some vintage patterns from a friend familiar with my style. Her care package included this fabulous mod mini dress pattern. 

I was drawn to the plunging neckline, the full sleeves and the mini length. The shaping was achieved with front and back darts and has a back zipper. This is a fun little dress was a fairly fast project to make.

I made it as is, with only one adjustment. I removed about two inches of ease on either of the side seams. This adjustment reduced the fullness and allows me to wear the dress without the belt. 

Or wear it with the included belt. 

I liked the look of the tone on tone belt, but wanted the option for a pop of color. I trimmed the tie belt with red piping as a fun contrast. 

Stepping out with animal prints has been loads of fun for me. Choosing a risky fabric can be a bit scary, but when paired with a pattern that suits your style, they can play well together. 

Happy Sewing,

Monday, October 5, 2020

What's Old is New Again, Boiler Suit Edition.

I am obsessed with boiler suits lately! I saw the Blanca Flight Suit by Closet Core Patterns and knew I wanted to make a pair. I have an extensive pattern stash and I am trying to be responsible by sewing the patterns that I have. I have several boiler suit patterns, but I chose to make vintage McCalls 5421. I love the princess seams, elastic waist casing and the various sleeve options available with this pattern. I am also a huge fan of wide legs so it was a no-brainer.


Blue is my favorite color so I chose Dark Blue Organic Cotton from Nature's Fabric  to make my new jumpsuit.     

I wanted to add a bit of pop to the solid fabric. I chose a silvertone zipper with a visible pull and 2 circle rings  to make a belt closure.     
I modified the sleeve to elbow length with a cuff and tab to which I added a simple 1/2 inch D-ring.

In addition to the princess seams in the front, the shaping of this boiler suit is achieved with a large casing at the waistline in the back.


I have had this pattern in my stash for years. I am so glad I finally made it. I am living my best retro jumpsuit life.

Happy Sewing,

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Beatrix Dress in Tresco by Liberty of London

I don't know if I should call it kismet, destiny, coincidence or just plain good sense. When I wore my Liberty maxi dress to Quiltcon 2020, and entered the Morris Textiles booth, it was clear a creative relationship was inevitable. Leisa and I connected over the wonderful Liberty of London, William Morris and fabrics by other British designers she sells. Her store is based in Austin which meant I could get my British textile fix this side of the pond. Top of my list were the Liberty of London sewing patterns. 

I was really interested in the Beatrix dress 

Before now, the cost and shipping from UK sources made me hesitant to take the plunge. In addition, I was reluctant because there were few pattern reviews or photos of those pieces on "real" people. Leisa and I decided that others in the sewing community probably had those same reservations, so we decided to partner to make these patterns in Liberty Fabrics.

How fabulous is this Beatrix dress in Liberty Tresco Lawn from Morris Textiles?

This dress was an easy pattern to make if you are familiar with any of the big four patterns companies. The pattern tissue, measurements and instructions read like a McCall's sewing pattern. 

I love this pattern as shown on the package cover, but I decided to add some style modifications to fit my lifestyle. That's the beauty of sewing though, isn't it? With a tweak here or there and you can make a garment completely your own. Theoretically, I love the dramatic look of the deep V of the bodice of the Beatrix. Practically, however, there is no way I  want to be that exposed, nor do I want to find and wear an adhesive bra to achieve the pattern look.

When cutting the bodice I winged the adjustment to give it a little more modesty. I added two inches to the width of the front facing. When constructing the neckline, I folded the excess in under the bias tape as instructed by the pattern.

Morris Textiles Brand Pattern Weights available in my Etsy store.

When I came to the V, I brought the folded edges of the facing together and stitched that area closed.

A front slit is fabulous on this dress, but it is a little too flash risky for me. It's not Halloween and with a strong wind I don't want to give the world a treat! I decided to switch the center slit to the right side seam. I don't mind showing a little bit of leg especially when I have the full coverage in a maxi dress. With a strong gust of wind, I can still maintain my dignity.

When I started this dress, I intended to make the included cuff for the sleeve. Once I cut it and pinned it to my dress form, I loved the billowy effect of the unbound sleeve. I played with it and decided to switch to a casing with 1/4" elastic. I loved the idea of adjusting the density of the sleeve and wearing it at varying heights.

Soft and fully extended

Elbow height and folded under

I think the easy breezy nature of this print plays well with the new sleeve modification.

I made the dress in size 12 which corresponds with my measurements for the big four patterns. I am 5'8" in flat feet and I did not add any additional length to the skirt. The back of the dress is cinched in with a fabric tie to give added shaping to the bodice.

This fabulous dress has side seam pockets. I will say this is the only feature of this dress I am not 100% in love with. The top of the pocket is anchored in the bodice seam making the opening a little higher than I usually like, but it is not a deal-breaker. I may choose to lower them in future makes of this pattern.

The print is gorgeous and this lawn is airy and flirty. I love this dress. It feels like a cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. 

I enjoyed this and the pattern weight collaboration we did using her Liberty fabric quilt block designs. We are having fun and I am looking forward to what we will do in the months to come.

Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Finding my Sewjo with a Colorful Caftan

How is your sewjo lately? The worldwide pandemic, systemic racism in America, virtual school and working from home have all played a part in diverting my sewing energy. I have kept up with my work-related sewing, but my making for fun has slowed. The response within the sewing and craft industry surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd by police, has dulled my usual enthusiastic making. In recent months, I have no interest in supporting businesses with my time and money if they are neutral on the issue of racial equality. 

I started looking at sewing patterns and fabrics in my stash with fresh eyes. I withdrew from, and declined some opportunities based on the business' and in some cases, the designers' public stance on race. When the Riley Blake blog tour for "Create" by Kristy Lea was announced, I somehow missed it. When I discovered it later, I was immediately drawn to the bold color and geometric shapes of her first collection.


I immediately performed some social media reconnaissance to see what this Australia based artist was about. I liked what I saw of her work and her response to the racial upheaval she was witnessing in America. She used her voice to shine a light on similar racial issues in her country and raised money to affect change  there. She was clear in her message to her followers that Black Lives Matter. I was motivated to support her line and contacted Riley Blake Designs to be added to the tour.

I requested Black Create Geo Gems and when it arrived, I wanted to cover my body in it! I am not buying patterns now, so I hit my stash to find my tried and true woven caftan pattern (Butterick 4201).

Butterick 4201 | Vintage Sewing Patterns | Fandom
I love the simple lines and single sizes of retro patterns. It makes cutting and constructing them a breeze. I like a rotary cutter, cutting  mat and my pattern weights to zip through this step. 

Rainbow Geo Pattern Weights

I made a few, slight adjustments to the pattern that required an assortment of notions and tools I had on hand. I have linked them here for your information if you want to purchase from your preferred retailer. If you choose to purchase from the affiliate links, I will receive a nominal fee as an Amazon Associate and Kraft-tex ambassador.

Instead of the three ties at the front, I switched those for a laced-up front and pressed lapels. I used my expanding seam guide to mark the placement of the holes.

I then punched through the fabric to create an opening for the grommets.

I installed them per the instructions of my heavy duty grommet setter.

I made a 1/2in. wide fabric tube that I turned with my vintage Fast Turn loop turner.

I criss-crossed threaded it through the grommets and tied the ends in a knot.

I love this dress! The colors pop and it is easy to wear.

The simple details of this dress gives some fun interest.

The sleeve has a turned up cuff that I accented with a single grommet.

When flipped down, gives a fun geometric twist.

What would a great dress be without side-seam pockets? 

My previous versions of this dress (Ankara, cream linen, blue linen and for my friend Hillary) had a few inches of wearable ease. I liked the airy feel of it, but I wanted the option to cinch some of that in at the back. To do this, I simply added spaghetti ties, made the same way as the lacing tie, to the side seams.

The Kraft-tex color for the month of August was Greenery. I used it to make a fun grommet studded clutch to coordinate with this dress.

After making my dress, I looked at the remnants on my cutting table and couldn't swipe them into my scrap pile. On their own, none of them were big enough to make something significant, but, pieced together, there were possibilities. I used various lengths of colored piping to join the random scraps of fabric. The result was enough to make the front panel of an insert for my Now You See Me Tote Bag. 
In the vinyl tote

On its own

The piped panel was made by sandwiching piping between the raw edges of the right side of two fabrics and sewing it in place. I repeated with more piping until the panel was the desired size and finished the insert per pattern instructions.

This dress and bag in this fabric, with these patterns, makes me smile. Considering all that is happening in the world around us, I count that as a win.

Happy Sewing,

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Pandemic Sewing Gets Twisted!

For as long as I have been sewing, I thought I had sewn with just about every type of fabric. I'm so grateful that my collaborations with Nature's Fabrics that introduces me to fabrics I had not considered before. Recently, they have released some beautiful printed bullet knit fabrics that caught my eye. Bullet knit is lightweight knit fabric with a small pique texture. It is denser than ITY, but not as thick as a scuba knit. This knit is 95% Polyester and 5% Spandex.  It is 62” wide and weighs 260 GSM.  It stretches 50% in the width and 50% in the length.  It is a soft flowing, does not fray or ravel. The print is only on the top   

I was drawn to Artist Palette


If you follow me on Instagram, you know I love my Willow Overalls by Pipe Dream Patterns. I have made several pairs and they are heavy in my rotation! When the Eilidh Twist Dress was released, I added it to my must make list. I love both versions of this dress, but decided version 1 would get more wear than the more provocative back twist version. 

Eilidh Twist Dress - PDF Beatha 6 - 20
When I ordered the two colorways of this bullet knit fabric, the plan was to use the Artist Palette for Little Miss, and Glitter Stripe for myself. When the fabrics arrived however, I fell in love with the colorful one and claimed it for myself. I promise I made it up to her and she loves what I made.

I guess I had this fabric in mind when I came up with these pattern weights.

The one and a half yards of this was enough for the body of the dress but was slightly short for the longer of the sleeve options. I did not want a cap sleeve, so I made made do with what I had.

The dress came together very quickly with no complications. The only change I made was to stabilize the back scoop with basted clear elastic. 

I finished it on my coverstitch with variegated rainbow threads.

I think this fabric, with this front twist, makes quite the statement.



The back scoop falls right above my bra line so no special underwear is required to wear it.

I made the size medium (after trying the large), omitted the side slit and made no other alterations.

I would not have shortened the sleeves if my fabric was long enough. Now that I've done it, I think the scale of the sleeves with the length, balances very well.

Like with the Willow Overalls, I'm sure I will be adding more makes of this pattern to my wardrobe. I think this would look great in mixed prints or color-blocking. 

1. I joined the Sew and Tell Podcast to talk about fabric dyeing, painting and manipulation.  We discussed inspiration, failure and played what would you make. I hope you will tune in.

2. I have new pattern weight designs listed in my Etsy store.

Happy Sewing,