Sew Stripes Top

February was “sew stripes” month on the Sewcialists blog and Instagram, and I joined in!  Although I have never participated in sewing challenges , this is the second Sewcialist challenge I have completed.  Although not blogged until now, I finished by deadline.

This was my first time sewing with stripes fabric. When sewing stripes two main aspects come to mind: stripe matching and playing with the grain of fabric, possibly switching up the stripes by using the cross grain or the bias.

I had this small piece of thick and thin striped woven cotton  fabric.  It was not enough for even a sleeveless top on its own so I paired it with a solid.

I was deliberating between patterns until I came across a free pattern from Peppermint Magazine , the Harvest Top.   Perfect!


The pattern has a yoke, body, bottom band, and arm bands making it an easy choice for color blocking as well as stripes.  I decided to change the back to keep the buttons only for the yoke, and to cut the body as a single piece.

The layout was a double thickness of the entire striped fabric, laying the front and back body pieces on the lengthwise grain as is customary, and the front and back yoke single layer on the crossgrain.  The bottom bands, armbands, and facings were cut from the navy fabric.

Making the top seemed like a lot of work in comparison to the ease of sewing knit tees!!  I had to deal with seam finishing, facings, buttonholes, and fitting adjustments.  I opted out of sewing a muslin, and instead started with a generous size.  The pattern has a lot of ease and I needed to take my basted side seams in considerably. (Well, the pattern is also called “boxy top”).  I made the arm opening smaller to avoid the deep, body exposing armholes. I didn’t cut the arm cuffs on the bias as I was using solid fabric and didn’t need the stretch either.

Yep, I stripe matched the shoulder and side seams.

The front:

And the back:

And worn by me:

The arm and bottom bands are both doubled so there is no hemming.  I’m thinking of a knit fabric version in the future.

I think adding a second solid fabric made the top even better.  I have been loving this technique; my last four tops have all used two different fabrics:

Do you have a favorite?  Mine is  the black and white dotted tee.


No Fuss Quick Raglan Tee

I got out of the habit of sewing after the holidays, and didn’t plug my machine back in until January 20th.

After writing my 2018 Make Nine list to get me motivated, I decided to start with an easy tee.  I had taped the free pattern by It’s Always Autumn together previously. Then on a windy Saturday I cut and sewed to completion my first raglan! This was my first ever one day project, and after this instant gratification I understand the allure of sewing with knits.

I wanted to make the baseball jersey type of shirt and found a XL tee for the body and a size small for the sleeves.

I find using the fabric from thrift store tee shirts to be a cheap and practical way of sourcing knit fabric.

I made a few small changes to the pattern taking away 1/2 inch from the length of the raglan, and adding 1/2 inch to the hip.  I used a rotary cutter which made cutting the bodice front, back, and sleeves so quick and easy.  I cut the elbow length sleeves.

I put in a stretch needle and sewed with a zigzag width of approximately 1.5 width and a 2.5 length. I have a manual machine, so I’m just twisting a dial.

I love Autumn’s method of attaching the neck band.  Instead of measuring the neck and using a mathematical calculation to figure out the length of the band, I simply stretched and pinned the unjoined band to the neck, and sewed it together where it meets in the back.

Another no fuss technique I used was to bypass the double needle. Instead I used the same zigzag stitch to hem the sleeves and top stitch around the neck. No changing the thread either.

I loved this sporty look so much I decided to do it again!

This time I cut the shirt tail hem of the pattern, and short sleeves.

This shirt would look more dressy made in one fabric, but I was enjoying coming up with the color combinations too much to stop.  I didn’t buy any new tees;  I was working with the colors I already had on hand.

These shirts already feel like old favorites.  They’re a hit!

The I Love This Fabric Refashion

I don’t do much thrift shopping anymore, but I still have a pile of clothes for refashioning possibilities.

There was less fabric than you might think to work with in this size small rayon dress with a shirred top and high-low hem.  I almost left it behind, but I loved the two tone print.

Because it was truly small, I didn’t cut it apart at the side seams because I was afraid it would become too narrow at the bust and hips when resewn.

As the photo shows, I simply cut off the top, cut a scoop for the neckline, cut down 10 inches for armholes, sewed the shoulders, and cut a new hem.  I finished the neck and armholes with ready made bias binding.  I needed every bit of length for the front, which is a little shorter than I would like.   I didn’t add any dart shaping so it’s free flowing from the bust and hangs away from my body. I like the longer back.

This refashion was completed last year.  Next up, my first project in 2018.  I finished something in January from my make nine list! Can you guess which one?

A Look Back and On To 2018

As I was thinking about what projects I wanted to work on in 2018, I made a collage from 2017:

A few haven’t been finished, and a few are unblogged.

Lucky Lucille hosts the make nine challenge on Instagram and has very helpful questions to consider when choosing your projects. I’ve seen a lot of make nine collages for 2018, but my list is a little different.  It’s more general and individualized, so no photos.

For quite some time, I’ve had in my mind a desire to make two hybrid projects, blending sewing with embroidery, and with crochet.   These are hard to get started on, because some planning, experimentation,  and decision making are needed first.  Summer sewing is always in my queque, throw in some embroidery, and a few little projects, and that’s it.

I’ve never made a proper button-down shirt with a collar with a collar stand, so I might attempt one to expand my sewing skills, even if it’s a sleeveless shirt.

  1. embroidered blouse
  2. crochet yoke tee
  3. summer pants
  4. raglan tee
  5. embroidered kitchen towels
  6. basket quilt from previously embroidered square
  7. refashion (I know, so vague)
  8. button shirt, maybe with collar
  9. Christmas sewing

So, you might see these projects completed and blogged this year….or maybe not.

Do you make these kind of lists?


Twas the Night Before Christmas Sewn Up

I was sorry when my neighborhood little thrift store closed at the end of last year.  I had found lots of old patterns, fabric, and clothes to refashion there.

There were some boxes of stuff for free out front, and like a parting gift, I came home with a pile of Christmas fabrics.  They are mostly printed panels which makes for quick projects.  Every year I plan on making a project or two.

This year I made pillow covers and a stocking.

How cute and festive are this doe and buck?

I paired them with this thrifted corduroy fabric and two red zippers from my stash.

This was my first time making zippered pillows.  I used this tutorial from Design Sponge to get going on the sewing.

I shortened the zippers, and prepared to sew them in the bottom of the pillow. The idea is to make the zipper a few inches shorter than the side of the pillow, sew the little bit at the start and end of the seam, changing to a basting stitch for the length of the zipper.  Then I pressed this seam open, and centered the zipper on it. In hindsight (ha!) I would have put some fabric glue to keep the zipper in place over the seam and prevent shifting while sewing both sides of the zipper down.  Next I unpicked the basting stitches to open the zipper. To finish, simply leave the zipper partially open for turning and sew the other three sides.

I didn’t bother to buy pillow forms.  Instead I just put these on two 16 inch couch pillows I already had.  Very convenient! I also like that they’re not overstuffed like the pillow form I used last year for my quilted tree pillow because the flatter surface is better for showing the design.

A stocking  shape was printed on Reindeer Tales fabric.  I only had to cut out the two sides and sew.  I also added a white craft sherpa fur that I doubled for the top of the stocking and used to make a hanging loop.  The stocking is huge and won’t hang right unless it’s stuffed with tissue to keep its shape, but it’s cute as a gag stocking for someone who has been very good!

This photo shows the vast size of the stocking.


Both the corduroy and faux sherpa created annoying bits of fuzz all over the place.  I made liberal use of a lint roller to keep my work surface clean.

Thank you to my model, Sparky, for making these projects look better.

I wish you happy holidays, happy sewing and making, and to all a good night!

TNT Tee Slashed

The monthly theme for the Sewcialists blog this November is TNT patterns. TNT stands for “tried ‘n’ true”.  They are the patterns that you have adjusted the fit on and can quickly make up multiple times.

I made the Kirsten Kimono Tee by Maria Denmark for the fourth time.  The pattern is free when you sign up for her newsletter.  It is a basic tee with an extended shoulder providing some coverage without having to insert sleeves.

I made the first three using the fabric from thrifted X-large men’s tee shirts. The white one has a curly lettuce hem on the sleeves and bottom. I made them in a size large, changed the neckline to be less wide, dropped the shoulder 1/2 inch, and added 1/2 in to the hip.

I have been wanting to try a color blocked version.  I was inspired by Bust Your Scraps on Sew Everything Blog, and Shop Your Stash on Wendy Ward’s blog.

I had a thrifted piece of knit fabric I bought for 50 cents that I wanted to combine with some black knit fabric I already had.  The dotted black and white fabric is a little dizzy but I thought it would be perfect as an accent fabric.

I pondered some possibilities.

I went with #2 as I was already smitten with Wendy’s striped and solid version, and had saved it in my Pinterest likes.

When I first started sewing I thought place-on-fold pattern pieces which look like half pattern pieces were weird.  I wanted to draw out the other side too.  Well, to make  the front of my color blocked top, I did just that.  Then I drew my slash line and added a 1/2 in seam allowance.

This knit fabric was harder to sew than the tee shirt jersey I had used before.  It was stretchier.  I don’t know but I’m guessing it may have some lycra or spandex content.  At first I thought it might be interlock, but it curls.  Jersey curls, and it curls to the right side of the fabric.

I didn’t know which way to orient the fabric for cutting and I didn’t have selvedges to give me a clue.  I read a few refresher articles referenced below.  I cut the tee out with a rotary cutter with the greatest stretch going horizontally across the body.  I switched to a ballpoint needle, put on the walking foot, and sewed with a zigzag stitch of roughly 1 and 1/2 to 2  stitch length and width.  I also made a binding strip which I sewed to the right side of the tee’s neckline.

So good so far.

Then I put in my stretch twin needle for the hemming and top stitching.

Yikes!  The  tunneling was so extreme it looked like I had a piping cord in there.  I decreased my tension, but the tunneling was still noticeable.  I was planning on top stitching the shoulders and the diagonal seam but decided against it.  I have  gotten perfect results with the twin needle hemming on previous tees, so I assume my fabric was to blame.

Still, I love it!


It looks dressier than the other tees I have made.

It’s so striking on the hanger. What do you think of the asymmetrical look?


The articles I used for reference:

The Seasoned Homemaker – Intro to sewing knits

 Sewing with knits : the details

Lladybird – Conquering knits

Tilly and the buttons – How to cut knit fabric

  Sewing knit fabric on a regular sewing machine


A Sleepset and Other Things I Didn’t Like

I sewed a cami and shorts sleepset from a sheet.  I made the exposed bias binding from cotton fabric.  I made both top and bottom in a large size for comfort.

The camisole is the Sew Loft Diana cami pattern, formerly free, and still available from the link on the page.  It has a racer style back.  I had trouble with the joins of the bias tape, and it’s a little messy.  The center vee in the front was made from a continuous piece of bias tape and it doesn’t lay flat when worn.  For a sharp vee I think two separate pieces intersecting in the dip are needed.  I didn’t follow the pattern instructions for the bias binding.

the back view

The shorts are the the women’s pj shorts free pattern from Life Sew Savory.  I also applied the bias binding to the leg hems, and I changed the  waistband to a simple inserted elastic band. The fit in the backside is not roomy enough on me to be super comfortable like a bed item must be.  I didn’t make a sheet mock-up, because Iet’s face it, I was already just using a sheet!

So there are a few things wrong with the cami and shorts, but I learned I don’t need perfection for a garment to be wearable.

I just have to want to wear it!

And in this case, I don’t.

Why does that happen?  Sometimes it’s the style, sometimes it’s the fit, sometimes it’s the fabric or a combination of these.  Sometimes it’s just a feeling.

There are times that I make a muslin of a pattern, the fit is off, and I decide I don’t want to continue .  Other times I stall in the making of a garment; it’s not looking good and I don’t want to even try to fix it.  That was the case this summer with a knit dress I was working on, but abandoned.  It’s rarer for me to finish sewing an item, and realize it’s not for me.   Even though I made it for me – ha!

In this case it’s a combination of the fit and the fabric – it doesn’t feel nice enough to me.  In the future, for elastic waist shorts, I will use my basic pants block that I developed through fitting a muslin.  I used it for my gingham pants and 2 pairs of shorts that I love to wear.

I moved on to the tank top I’ve been wearing during this very hot October.  The tag is so off center it’s almost comical.

Not perfect.  But I like it!