Bess Top in Ikat

So if you’ve been following along the blog recently you know that I’m trying to sew more for myself, but since I’m nursing, anything I make has to be nursing-friendly.  I’ve got a few different styles going on, but honestly, my uniform has been button up shirts with a nursing tank or camisole underneath.  My absolute favorite shirt right now is a Converse One Star top that I got from Target and it has a placket with snaps in the front that extends below the bust for easy opening.  It’s not meant to be a nursing top, but it’s perfect for it.  AND it’s really cute (sorry, I couldn’t find a picture or link).  Then I realized that it closely resembles the Bess Top!

So when Rachael of Imagine Gnats and creator of the Bess Top pattern asked if I would be part of her pattern tour, I was psyched to have the opportunity to recreate my favorite store bought shirt!


So the main alteration I made to the pattern is adding a placket to the front.  I used this great Continuous Placket Tutorial by Melly Sews.  Otherwise, I sewed up the pattern as directed.


My favorite feature of this pattern is the super unique way the sleeves come together.  The back piece of the shirt wraps around to the front to create sleeves instead of attaching them as separate pieces.  SO CREATIVE.  I love how you can use two contrasting fabrics, or just one, depending on what look you want.  If you use two different fabrics like I did, you only need a little bit for the front, so you can use something special you’ve been hoarding, like this woven ikat fabric.


Ok, I have more to share about the pattern, but can we stop to talk about this fabric for a minute!?  I bought this ikat from Michael Levine back in June when I was in LA for the Fabric Shopping Weekend and I’ve been saving it for something special because it’s reeeally gorgeous.  Ikat fabric is made up of threads that have been dyed before it’s handwoven.  Bindings that resist dye are applied to the threads before they are dyed with one or multiple colors (kind of like tie-dying, except tie-dying is done after the fibers are woven into fabric and this method dyes the thread first before being woven).  The bindings are then removed and the threads are woven creating really unique and intricate designs.  The fabric has a looser weave which gives it nice drape, but it also means that raw edges fray very easily.  Michael Levine has a lot of other gorgeous ikat fabrics in their online store, if you’re interested!

*Edited to add – I forgot to mention that the fabric that I used for the back is a black shot cotton I picked up from Stonemountain and Daughter.  It’s got a similar feel and weight compared to the ikat – I really like them paired together.*


Where were we? . . . Oh, right!  The pattern!  It comes in women’s sizes 2-20 and in three lengths, top, tunic or dress.  There are two necklines to choose from and a hi-low hemline.  I appreciate how the top fits loosely over my mid-section – it’s meant to flatter a range of body types.  The neckline, sleeves and hem are finished with knit, which is something I’ve never done before, but really liked!  It’s like finishing with bias, but I feel like it’s a bit lighter in weight and softer too.

The trickiest part of the construction is attaching the yoke and sleeve.  I can’t help but feel like one of the markings is a little off, but I followed the pattern and fiddled with it and it turned out ok.  I might play with it a little more the next time I make this top.  And yes, I do think I’ll make another.


Here are a couple of awkward selfie chest shots for you.  I wanted to show what the placket looks like open, and OH SNAP!  Yes, I used snaps instead of buttons.  I wouldn’t have though of it, but that shirt I love so much has snaps and it’s so genius.  When the baby is hungry, I can pop my shirt open with one hand in one second.  And snapping it back up is a cinch too.  Oh, how I appreciate anything that can be done with one hand instead of two!  I only wish I had used black snaps instead of silver, but this is what I had.


And here it is styled differently.  90s-ikat-denim love anyone!??

The Bess Top pattern can be purchased here.  And be sure to check out all the other stops on the Imagine Gnats pattern tour showcasing all of Rachael’s patterns!

*Edited to ALSO add that Rachael is offering 20% off all of her patterns through the end of January with the code “januarytour” so if you’re thinking about buying the pattern, be sure to buy it now with the discount!*

Inder Loves Folk Art / mon petit lyons / Sew Delicious
la inglesita / Miss Matatabi / Rae Gun Ramblings
Welcome to the Mouse House / Casa Crafty
Make it Handmade / Made with Moxie / Buzzmills
girl like the sea / just me jay / Play Crafts
Sew Well Maide / Sew Charleston / Mingo and Grace
Caila Made / Sewbon / do Guincho / call ajaire
Alison Glass / a.Amelia Handmade / Bored & Crafty
you & mie / Stitched Together / things for boys
fake it while you make it / Sanae Ishida
Behind the Hedgerow / I Seam Stressed / Charming Doodle
The Crafty Kitty / Siestas & Sewing / Figgy’s

Have a great weekend, everyone!

*This pattern was generously given to me for this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.*

Four Corners Nursing Blouse

One thing I tend to do is buy up new fabric prints and then hang on to them forever and never make anything with them.  Then they aren’t really cool anymore.  Or, the print might still be awesome, but everyone has already seen them and sewn with them and moved onto something else, so I feel like I missed the boat.  I bought some Washi to make a Washi dress with and never did.  I bought some and old lace to make myself shorts with and never did.  I won a charm pack of Briar Rose and had a quilt planned out, but . . . well, you get the picture.

When one of my favorite artists, Leah Duncan, released her Tule fabric line, I carefully chose two fabrics to order with a few possible projects in mind, but nothing definite.  This gorgeous Meadow Vale Dark is exactly the type of fabric that I’d hoard forever, constantly changing my mind about what I wanted to do with it and then never using it in the end.  But what’s the point of having such beautiful fabric if all it’s going to do is sit on the shelf?

I was looking through Anna Maria Horner’s Handmade Beginnings (affiliate link), the same book I used to make this nursing top, and was intrigued by the other nursing top included, the Four Corners Blouse.  I wasn’t convinced that it was my style or that it would be flattering on me, but I wanted to give it a try anyways since I’m trying to find ways to give my nursing wardrobe some variety.  I debated whether or not I should use my precious Meadow Vale fabric or not.  What if I didn’t like the top and ended up wasting the fabric?

Well in the end I decided to just go for it because letting it sit on my shelf would be a waste as well.

Tule Nursing Top1

The construction of the top is really quite interesting – all the pieces (and there are quite a few) are rectangles!  So there are no pattern pieces to trace, only rectangle measurements.  I made some obvious changes to the pattern, 1. I omitted all the buttons and button loops.  They are purely decorative anyways and I like to keep it simple.  2. Instead of using a contrasting fabric for the placket (in between the boobs), I used the main fabric to avoid drawing more attention to the chest area.

Tule Nursing Top3

I also made the straps narrower and lengthened the top and made a few other changes here and there.  This top is made with a panel in the front that acts as a nursing cover that opens up when you untie the ties.  Pretty creative and sneaky!

Tule Nursing Top4

The downside though, is because the front panel isn’t connected to anything at the sides, I noticed that when I was picking up things, say, children for example, it would flip up easily and expose my tummy.  Not good.

Tule Nursing Top2

I can’t say that I love this top, but I am glad that I gave it a try and I will definitely wear it. Mostly layered up like this to give me a bit more coverage.  I think this fabric might have been better as something simple like a Wiksten Tank or an Everyday Skirt, but knowing that I probably would have just let it sit in my stash indefinitely makes me feel like using it was the right decision.  And I do love opening up my closet and seeing this lovely fabric begging me to put it on 🙂

Do you have any favorite nursing top patterns?  I’m trying to sew more for me, but need to keep it breastfeeding friendly so I feel like my choices are pretty limited.  I have a few nursing hacks in mind, but I’d love to hear your suggestions as well!  And if you have some fabric in your stash that you are saving away for a special occasion, I dare you to just use it in your next project!  You might be really glad you did!!

Have a great weekend!

Mariposa Top for Me! (Confetti Sparkle for the Holidays – Part 3)

GoldSparkleMariposa1Ok, so am I a little obsessed with Dear Stella’s Confetti Sparkle line?  Yes, maybe I am.  This is the last of 3 projects I’ve made (so far) with their beautiful metallic gold dot fabric, and look at that, it’s for me!  (see Yuki and Kaya’s holiday dresses here)

The pattern is from Anna Maria Horner’s book, Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby (affiliate link).  The book has lots of sewing projects for little ones, but it’s also got its fair share of patterns for expecting and nursing moms.  This top is called the Mariposa Dress and Tunic and is perfect for breastfeeding.  It can be made as a maternity top/dress or not.  I’d been looking for some tops that worked well for nursing and was excited to try this one, especially after seeing this beautiful dress by Miriam of Mad Mim and this fun top by Meg of Sew Liberated.

GoldSparkleMariposa2I thought it would be fun to make something dressy enough for the holidays but casual enough to wear comfortably while caring for (and nursing) my baby.  The glamorous Confetti Sparkle in Cream as a Mariposa tunic turned out to be the perfect combination.

I generally stuck to the pattern in size medium/large, but made some adjustments for fit.  I ended up taking the bodice in a little and adding some tiny gathers to the front skirt piece.  The top crosses in front and wraps around and ties in the back.  A bit of elastic in the back also helps bring the top in under the bust.  You can also tie it in the front, but I prefer it in the back.

GoldSparkleMariposa3There is a modesty panel as well that makes nursing, well, more modest.  Somehow my modesty panel doesn’t fit perfectly – mostly because of the adjustments I made to the bodice – but it also seems a bit long, so if I make this top again, I’ll have to shorten the “straps” of the panel.

GoldSparkleMariposa4I haven’t actually tried nursing in this top, but I imagine it will work quite well.  I love that I can feel dressy and comfortable at the same time.

As Christmas quickly approaches I feel like my “to do” list is getting longer and longer.  I hate how this season sometimes ends up feeling a bit stressful, but it’s always worth it.  I’m looking forward to a lot of fun family time, which is really the best part of the holiday season for me.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I wish you all peace and love as we close out another year.  I’m very much looking forward to a new year – new adventures with my family and more sewing and more blogging!  Very best wishes to each and every one of you!  What are you looking forward to in 2014?

A Wedding Dress

Hey!  I got married last week!


Many of you may not know, but my beautiful and incredible partner is a woman.  And until very recently same-sex marriages were not legal in California.  Had it been, we would have been married long ago, but we’ve been waiting patiently and thanks to the recent Supreme Court rulings, same-sex marriages have resumed in our state!

So we made an appointment right away and planned for a very simple ceremony at the city hall.  I debated sharing this personal news publicly for many reasons, but since it was such a big and exciting day for us, I thought – why not!?

Plus, there’s the dress.  What does a woman who is 7 months pregnant with a wedding date less than 2 weeks away decide to do?  Well, make her own dress of course!


I definitely considered a store bought dress, but my sewing consultants (Kristin and Jessica) talked me into making my own.  Plus, I figured my store bought options would be very limited.  Kristin suggested using eyelet, which I love, so my original plan was to get a nice summery white or cream eyelet and make a modified Washi dress.  Something casual, simple and modern – something I could possibly dye afterwards and then wear again and again.


Well, I went to Britex (they have so many beautiful eyelet fabrics!) and fell in love with this almost peachy, super sheer, vintagey, sweet eyelet fabric.  It was not what I had originally planned at all.  It was soft and romantic and more formal than what I had imagined, and suddenly the modern Washi didn’t seem like an appropriate fit anymore.


But the Washi bodice is the only pattern I have that fits perfectly, and so the “Washi hack wedding dress” was born!  Right around the time I was planning this dress, Kristin was making her beautiful Ristretto Dress, which, coincidentally, was kinda similar to what I had in mind.  After seeing her neckline and gathered skirt, I knew it was what I wanted to do too.  (By the way, if you’re not pregnant and looking for a nice dress to sew for you, I HIGHLY recommend you go check out the Ristretto Dress tutorial by Kristin – another Washi dress pattern hack 🙂 – it’s so gorgeous!)

So, the only parts of the Washi pattern that I ended up using were the front bodice piece and the pockets.  I kept the bust darts and the bottom line of the bodice the same and then pretty much changed up everything else.  I made it a curved V-neck and narrowed the shoulder straps a little.  I drafted my own back bodice piece (separate from the skirt piece) that was fitted, so that I wouldn’t need shirring or elastic, and made a V cut as well – quite possibly my favorite part of the dress.  Because there is no elastic, I added a side zipper.


My arms are one of the things that I like least about my body, especially when looking at pictures of myself.  Many a photo have been deemed unusable because of arm fat!  I went back and forth about it, but decided to add these flutter sleeves to cover up my problem.  Even the morning of the ceremony, I was kind of regretting adding them, but now, looking at pictures, I’m so glad I did.  They did the perfect job of hiding my arms and Hideko thinks it makes the dress look more formal too.

The skirt pieces are two rectangles that I gathered before attaching to the bodice.  And pockets!!  I had to have pockets, but because of the fullness of the skirt, you can’t see them at all.  Sneaky!


Here’s a close up of the beautiful fabric!  I was so scared to cut into it.  Because it’s totally sheer, the dress is fully lined, besides the flutter sleeves.  The lining is a soft shirting, also from Britex, that worked perfectly under this dress to make it totally comfortable, but was substantial enough that I didn’t have to worry about my light dress being see through at all.


The sash is a warm mocha color ribbon (also from, surprise surprise – Britex!) that finished off the dress nicely.


Here’s a shot of the back of the dress and that V that I’m quite fond of 🙂

I certainly can’t say the dress is perfect, but I’m proud that I made it and like the way it came out.  I made a muslin first and thankfully, it worked out pretty much the way I wanted it to.  But that took the bulk of my time and I had less than 4 days to make the actual dress.  I was up pretty late the night before our 10 am ceremony hand sewing the bodice lining in!  Somehow the bodice for the actual dress came out snugger than the muslin so there was not even an extra millimeter of wiggle room!  After the muslin bodice came out a bit loose in the shoulders, I decided to take some fabric off the shoulder straps.  I didn’t realize at the time that this would raise everything by half an inch, the bust darts and the arm holes, so that might have had something to do with the bodice fit, and the bust dart position does irk me just a little.

But hey!  I made a fancy dress for me!  A year ago, I had barely started sewing for myself, so I’d say I’ve come a long ways.


The one other thing I wanted to do for our simple wedding was a bouquet.  I’ve always loved beautiful flowers, and plus I thought Yuki might get excited about having her own bouquet too, since she was a flower girl recently (except she totally wasn’t into it and didn’t want anything to do with the mini bouquet I made her).

The day before, I went to a local gourmet/fancy grocery store, Bryan’s, with a gorgeous selection of flowers and picked out some pretty ones.  I watched a few YouTube videos on making bouquets and boutonnières and had a really fun time putting them together with Hideko’s help.


I have to give a HUGE thank you to my dad for taking these beautiful pictures from our special day.  He’s an amazing photographer!


Yuki wore her eyelet Geranium Dress which still fits her perrrfectly!


It was such a sweet and simple ceremony, but a truly beautiful day for our family.  We were so happy that our day had finally come and that we were able to share it with our nearest and dearest.

And that, my friends, is why I failed KCW.  But it was totally worth it 🙂

Star Pods Maternity Tank

Woohoo, more sewing for me!  I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve decided to not use the term “selfish sewing” when I sew for myself.  Although that is essentially what it is, the word “selfish” has such a negative connotation and I just feel like we shouldn’t feel bad about sewing things for ourselves.  I think sewing for ourselves is good for building skills, it’s practical, money saving and it’s not always easy!  The fact that it’s fun and often rewarding is just an added bonus!

StarPodsTank8I got the idea to make this tank after seeing this one from Old Navy.  I copied it almost exactly in style except I made an inverted pleat instead of a box pleat at the neckline.  I don’t know if it’s the most flattering top because it doesn’t have a tight fitting bodice.  But it’s comfy and I know it’ll fit for awhile, possibly through my pregnancy.


The fabric I used is Star Pods in Green from designer Patty Sloniger for Michael Miller.  I got it from Modern Domestic when I was up in Portland for Quilt Market.  It’s a lovely chartreuse color and is really lightweight, so I thought the drape would be perfect for a top.  I used the Wiksten Tank pattern as a starting point and I’m going to show you how I adjusted it to make this top.  The Wiksten Tank is a great, simple tank top pattern that anyone can sew (you can see my previous versions here, here, and here).  I recommend you add this to your pattern collection if you don’t have it.  But if not, you can probably draft a pattern for this top using another pattern or a tank top you own with a similar cut.  The only extra material you’ll need is some 1/4 inch wide elastic for the bottom of the tank.


Alright, so using the directions, figure out your size and cut out your pattern.  There were several adjustments that I made to my pattern.  First I added 1.5 inches to the front piece along the “folded” edge.  This will make the pattern 3 inches wider and give you room for that growing belly.  I also raised the neckline an inch because I felt like the original was a bit revealing.


I added about 4 inches to the length of the front piece, but kept the curved hemline the same.


For the back piece, the only adjustment I made was lengthening it enough to match up with the side seam of the front piece (the 2 pink lines).  Then I made an ever-so-slightly curved line for the bottom of the back piece.


After you cut out your pieces, mark the center of the neckline on the front piece and then 1.5 inches on either side.  These are your pleat markings.


Bring the two outer markings in towards the center, pin and press.  Sew a basting stitch across the pleat to hold it in place.

Once you’ve made your pleat, follow the pattern directions for constructing the tank.  Sew the shoulder and side seams and finish the armholes and neckline with bias strips.


For the bottom, to make a casing, fold the hem up about a 1/4 inch, press and then fold again about 1/2 an inch.  Sew along the folded edge all around the hem, but leave about an inch open to thread the elastic through.  Measure your elastic and trim – it should fit comfortably but snuggly around your hips.  Using a safety pin, guide the elastic through. Sew the ends of the elastic together and sew the rest of the casing closed.


And you’re done!

StarPodsTank12Here’s what the bottom of the tank looks like when it’s on.  You can see the slightly longer length in the front for extra belly coverage.


Ooh, by the way, thanks for all the sweet comments about the two “maternity” dresses I made and all the great suggestions for other maternity patterns and styles to try.  I seriously feel like I want to make myself a whole new wardrobe now, I’ve never been so motivated to sew for myself!

I feel so weird with so many pictures of myself up on the blog, but I suppose it’s only fair since I’ve put my daughter through it for the last couple of years.  And I’ve still got more “me” sewing on the horizon, so I hope you’re not too sick of it yet.  I’ll try to spare you and sprinkle some non-“me” sewing once in awhile too 😛

Thanks for visiting!!

Washi in Blue 2!


So I mentioned I’ve been sewing more for me, right?  Well I have.  And this was actually the first recent project I sewed for myself that was a success – the trusted Washi Dress by Made by Rae.  Before this dress, I tried 2 other projects that I ended up scrapping.  Trust me, I have sewing fails too!  So after that, I decided to turn back to the trusted Washi because I knew that I couldn’t go wrong.  It’s nice to have a pattern like this that you know will boost your confidence and restore your faith.

I made my first Washi dress as a tester last August and I called it Washi in Blue.  Well it just so happens that this dress is blue too, so I call it Washi in Blue TWO.  Creative huh!?  I also realized that I’m wearing the same necklace and same cardigan in both photo shoots.  Hah!  I need some new accessories.



Anyways, I rave all about the pattern in my previous Washi post and my feelings haven’t changed a bit.  This is an AWESOME pattern, especially if you’re new to sewing for women but want to give it a try.  It’s quick and easy and oh-so-cute.  I love the style, it’s so flattering, in fact, I haven’t seen a version of the Washi that hasn’t looked great!

The fabric is called Squiggles from the Dear Stella Maasai Mara line.  I actually bought this back in September or October with a Washi in mind and it took me only, oh, 8 months to actually make. 😛  One of the great things about this fabric is that I actually packed this dress up in a suitcase, took it out all wrinkly, hung it up overnight and when I took it out the next day to iron it, it was wrinkle-free!!


This dress is not a maternity dress, but I realized pretty quickly that the style is pretty accommodating for growing bellies as well.  The dress I made last August still fits me!  I love how fitted it is in the bodice and how much room there is in the skirt to either gloss over a belly you’re trying to hide (trust me, I had a belly before I was preggo), or make room for one you’re proud of 🙂  And I know that I’ll be able to wear this dress way after I’m pregnant too!

Because my bust size had changed since I got pregnant, I decided to go a size up (to an XL).  But after I sewed it up, the bodice ended up being way too big and it would gape open with the slightest lean forward.  That was no good, so I ended up taking in the bodice 1.5 inches on each side.  Now it probably resembles a large in the bodice, but an XL in the skirt, so it’s got extra room for tummy.  I also kept the length longer than I normally would so that when my belly got bigger, the dress would still be long enough to wear without leggings or pants.  If I were to make another dress for my maternity months, I’d probably cut the front bodice and back pieces in the large size and the front skirt piece in an XL and maybe deepen the pleats to make it fit the width of the bodice.


Since I haven’t figured out the best way to shirr on my machine, I decided to make a casing for elastic.  It looks different from shirring of course, but it was easy and allows for that snug yet comfortable fit.

As for the neckline, I decided to raise it a little to keep myself well covered, but widened it a bit.  Kind of like Kristin’s famous scoop neckline, but a little less wide?


At almost 27 weeks, these pictures were taken just a few days after these photos, but I look smaller.  Funny how different outfits do that.

Anyways, I have a few more things to share that I’ve sewn for myself and a few more on my to do list.  You guys are going to get so sick of pictures of me!  And trust me, I don’t like taking these pictures.  But I figure at the very least, I’ll have some photos of my growing belly!

Have you been sewing for yourself lately?  Have any maternity patterns you recommend?  What are other flattering maternity looks you love?

Maternity Geo Dress: 30 Days of Sundresses


It’s June!  Can you believe it?  Summer is upon us and that means it’s time to bust out the sundresses.  Melissa from Melly Sews is running her series, (30) Days of Sundresses, for the second time.   All month – 30 sundresses!  For girls and women – it’s really quite fun!

Last year I made a beach maxi for my sister (and a matching dress for my daughter), and this time I decided to try make something for me!  I’m not sure why but I’ve been really motivated to make clothes for myself recently.  I’m not sure if it’s the pregnancy and the fact that I don’t fit into my clothes anymore and the selection at stores seems so limited, or maybe because Yuki refuses to wear anything but t-shirts and sweat pants and that seems boring to me, but I have all these ideas and a sudden urge to try sewing for me!  I’ve already made 4 things already and I have plans for a handful more, so this dress is just the start of a lot of maternity wear up in here!


So I made a knit dress that was inspired by this dress from Old Navy . . .

Dress by Old Navy (no longer available) via ChildMODE

I wanted to try and make a floral neckline like the original version, but I didn’t have any fabric that was suitable, and I didn’t feel like painting any at the time.  So I just picked some fun fabric from my stash, On Point in Golden from the Cloud 9 Simpatico line, to add the accented neckline.


So the dress is made to fit and flatter a pregnant body, but I’m guessing this could look good on other body types too, especially if you lower the waistline.  I’d love to see some non-maternity versions of this dress too!

Alright, so you ready to start?

What you’ll need:

  • 2 yards of knit fabric
  • a scrap or fat quarter of accent fabric
  • paper backed (double sided) fusible web (I use Pellon 805 Wonder-Under)
  • 1/4 inch elastic (about 14 inches)

First you need to draft your pattern for the bodice.  So find a knit top that fits well, not too tight, but not baggy either.  I used a combination of Kristin’s free Scoop Top pattern and a tank top of my own.  Measure where you want the bodice to hit and add 1/2 an inch to the bottom.


To draft the accent neckline, place your front bodice on a piece of paper and trace the neckline, shoulder seam and half of the arm hole (see picture on the left).  Remove the bodice pattern piece and decide how wide or what shape you want your accent neckline to be.  I made mine a solid 2.5 inches around.  Then add a 1/4 inch along the bottom of the curve for folding under.


Cut out your dress pieces – one front bodice piece on the fold, one back bodice piece on the fold and the accent neckline on the fold.


You’ll also need to cut a piece of fusible web from the neckline pattern piece, but without the added 1/4 inch along the bottom curve.

For your skirt, you’ll want 2 pieces of fabric – the length will be determined by the measurement from the bottom of the bodice to the desired length.  Make sure to add about 2 inches for hemming and seam allowance.  I cut my skirt at a slight A-line, the top of the skirt pieces should be about the same width as the bottom of your bodice.


You’ll also need long strips of your main fabric to finish the armholes and neckline.  Cut strips that are 2 inches wide and make sure you cut them in the direction in which the fabric stretches.  I like to cut them as long as I can and then trim them down later, but for rough estimates, I ended up needing two strips that were 2″ x 15″ for the armholes and one strip that was 2″ x 28″.  Cut them a few inches longer at least to make sure you have enough.

Fuse the fusible web to the wrong side of the accent neckline lining up the shoulder seams and neckline (the bottom curve will have a 1/4 inch without fusible web).

GeoDress9Remove the paper backing.  And here’s a trick I learned from sewing from Oliver + S patterns . . . Sew a basting stitch along the bottom 1/4 inch seam allowance.


Press the curve towards the wrong side along the basting stitch.  Remove the basting stitch.  Fuse the neckline to your front bodice piece following the fusible web directions and sew along the bottom curve close to the edge.


Next we’re going to attach the elastic to the bottom of the bodice pieces.  Cut your elastic into two 7 inch strips (approximately).  Find the center of the front bodice and pin or baste the center of the elastic strip on the wrong side of the fabric along the bottom edge of the bodice.  Because this elastic will be part of the seam allowance, I placed elastic close to the bottom of the bodice.


Sew the elastic to the bottom of the bodice with a zig zag stitch stretching the elastic as much as you can, but being careful not to stretch the knit fabric.


It should look like this on the wrong side . . .


And like this on the right side . . .


Repeat with the back bodice piece.

To attach the bodice to the skirt, line up the bottom of the bodice and the top of the skirt with right sides together.  I didn’t photograph this part, so I hope this makes sense.  As you sew the pieces together, I like to use the slanted zig zag stitch because it allows for stretch.


When you sew the bodice and skirt together, pull the elastic section of the bodice tightly without pulling the skirt piece so that it’ll gather.  The elastic should be within the seam allowance so that it won’t be visible on the finished dress.  So right along the inner edge of the elastic.  The sections on either side of the elastic should be sewn without stretching any fabric.  When finished it should look like this . . .


Repeat with the back side of the dress, sewing the back bodice and skirt pieces together the same way.

Place the front and back right sides together and pin and sew the shoulder seams and the side seams of the dress.

To finish your armholes and neckline, you’ll need your 2″ strips of fabric.  To measure the length you need, leave 1/2 an inch for seam allowance and then pin the strip to the armhole.  Slightly stretch the strip as you go around the entire armhole and leave another 1/2 an inch for seam allowance when you get back to where you started.  It’s important to stretch it slightly because you don’t want a loose, baggy or limp finishing, it should be slightly smaller than the armhole to create a finished band that hugs your body.  Once you’ve found the length you need, trim off any access and remove the strip from the armhole.  Sew the short edges right sides together with a 1/2 an inch seam allowance to create a circle.


Press that seam open, then fold the loop in half lengthwise wrong sides together, so that raw edges should line up and the seam allowance is hidden inside.  Press.


With the dress right side out, pin together the raw edges of the armhole finishing with the armhole.  Start by lining up the seams and pin all the way around stretching the band slightly and evenly as you pin.


Sew along the raw edge using the slanted zig zag stitch.  Finish edges if desired.  Press well and top stitch, again, if desired.

Repeat with other armhole and neckline as well.


Hem the dress and you’re done!!  With knits, I like to serge the edge and then fold it up once about an inch and sew close to the serged edge with either a double needle or the slanted zig zag stitch.  That way the hem doesn’t get too thick with a double fold.


So here I am at 26 and a half weeks.  This is a very comfortable dress with a pop of fun, that I hope will take me through my entire pregnancy.


Be sure to check out Melly Sews every day this month for a new sundress from these awesome bloggers:

And I hope you’re ready for more maternity wear starting next week because I’ve been busy sewing for me!
Wishing you a beautiful weekend . . .
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Striped High Low Wiksten

So I mentioned awhile back that I had a bunch of old projects to share and I keep meaning to get them blogged, but I get distracted by new projects every day and keep falling further and further behind.  I start to wonder if some things were never meant to be blogged.

Buuuut then Rae made a personal challenge to post pictures of past creations that she never blogged about to “clean out the virtual closet” before she dives into KCWC.  It’s inspired me to just get this stuff off my “to blog” list too, instead of letting .  So my goal is to get a few things on the blog and off that list this week.  I can’t promise I’ll get it all up, but if I can cross at least a couple off this week, I’ll be pretty happy.

So the first is a project that I made for me and not too long ago.  I had this idea to use the Wiksten Tank pattern but adjust the hemline so it was higher in the front and lower in the back.  This style is pretty popular, I think, especially on skirts and dresses.  I didn’t want it to be too high in the front or low in the back, so I went pretty subtle.  Maybe it’s more of a medium-low than a high-low?

The fabric is a lacey striped knit from Joann’s that is a bit see through.  I actually thought it was going to be a lot more see through, but when I wear it, it’s pretty much not see through at all.

I had to do a few adjustments to the pattern to make this work with a knit.  I wanted the top to be fitted in the shoulder/chest area, so I went down a size for the top (to a medium).  But I still wanted the bottom to be nice and loose to skim over my tummy, so I cut the size large pattern for the bottom and just used a ruler to connect the lines from the medium armpit to the large hemline.  When I sewed the top together and tried it on, it was still waaaay too big in the chest, so I took it in about 4 more inches!  It’s amazing how much stretch you get with knit.

For the hemline, I kept the shape of the back, just lengthened it by about 2 inches and then cut the front in a subtle arc.

The other difference in construction is that instead of finishing the neck and arm holes with bias, I just folded the fabric over and sewed it down with a double needle.  It was fast and easy.

So there it is!  One project off my “to do” list, and now off my “to blog” list (and yes, I actually keep lists in my journal under each of those headings).  Hmmm . . . let’s see what else I can clear out of my “virtual closet” this week (sorry Rae, I’m seriously stealing your line).

Washi in Blue

*UPDATE!!! The Washi Dress pattern has been released. Find all the information you need here. GO NOW. You won’t be sorry!*

Did you hear?? It’s WASHI WEEK! What’s Washi Week you ask? Well, the fabulous Rae, from Made by Rae, has an awesome new pattern coming out this week called the Washi Dress and she’s posting a bunch of different versions all week. Ever since she posted photos of the original Washi dress, people have been going CRAZY asking for a pattern and waiting (not so patiently) for Rae to produce a pattern. Well, ladies and gents, it’s finally arriving and it is soooooooooo worth the wait.

I was extremely lucky to be a part of Rae’s pattern testing group and I got to try out the original pattern. There have been many adjustments and improvements made since I tried the test pattern, but even in its draft form, the pattern was phenomenal.

The dress is super cute, simple yet stylish, and very flattering. It has a fitted bodice with a pleated a-line skirt, pockets and a unique cut-out scoop neckline. Shirring in the back assures a perfect and comfortable fit and makes it so you do not need a zipper or button closure. Genius!!! When I saw how professional Rae’s versions looked and considering how intimidating sewing women’s clothing is to me, I thought this pattern would be complicated. But it was surprisingly very simple to sew up!! Rae has labeled this pattern for intermediate sewers, but I think ambitious beginners should certainly give this a try. The trickiest part for me was learning the shirring technique. The rest was a breeze!

The pattern is extremely well written with clear instructions and awesome diagrams. Rae is extremely thorough in her explanations and really goes beyond regular directions to try and help with tips, suggestions and troubleshooting. There is a whole section in there about getting the best fit which I think will be very helpful for people who are new to sewing adult clothing (like me!).

I would definitely suggest making a muslin (Rae talks about it in the directions). This is one of those steps that I always skip, because I don’t like wasting the time or fabric. But coming from someone who hates doing it, JUST DO IT!! This pattern is pretty darn amazing, but no pattern can fit every woman in all our different shapes and sizes. I used some fabric from an old sheet and made a muslin using the front bodice piece and the back piece cut just below the shirring lines. This way I could practice a few lines of shirring and make sure the bust darts and shoulders fit well. Rae offers suggestions for adjustments if you find it necessary. I would have been devastated if I finished the entire dress only to find out it didn’t fit.

The one thing that I screwed up on my dress is the cut out at the neckline – it’s a bit puckered. I was rushing too much when I sewed it together (I’m sorry, I was really excited!) and couldn’t press out the wrinkles. Luckily, my fabric is dark and it’s not too noticeable. But I would recommend taking your time when you sew around the cut out, making sure your cut out is symmetrical and when you flip the facing in, that all your fabric lays nice and flat (this will probably all make a lot more sense when you are making your own).

I don’t have any specifics about this fabric, except that I bought it on my recent trip to Japan at Tomato. It is a navy blue border fabric with eyelet at the bottom and embroidered flowers all over. The print is kind of a funky mix of whimsical shapes resembling clouds, petals and pebbles. It was kind of a random pick when I was shopping and I thought I might make myself a skirt or something. But right after I got back from Japan, the opportunity to test this pattern came up and I immediately thought this fabric would be perfect. And luckily I had JUST enough fabric to do it. It turned out to be a really practical choice for me – neutral and simple, with a little bit of fun.

The Washi can be made as a dress or a tunic, and with cap sleeves or sleeveless. I’m already dreaming up different versions of Washis for me and ways to remix the pattern as well. I can assure you, there are more Washis in my future. Near future, I hope!

Overall, I really can’t say enough good things about this pattern. As someone who does not normally sew for women or from patterns, this one really gave me the confidence to do both. Now I’m psyched to sew more for myself! It’s a very quick and simple sew with impressive results – I bet you’ll get so many compliments when people find out that you made the dress yourself! And it’s a really flattering style for pretty much every body type. I love how it skims right over my tummy and hips. Serious WIN.

You can’t go wrong with Washi. It’s my new motto.

Oh and to see more Washi inspiration, check out Kristin’s awesome Washi, Emmmy Lizzzy’s THREE Washis, and the official Washi Dress flickr pool. I’m telling you, that pool is about to blow up with fabulous Washis.

Ok, ok. Now you can go. 😉

Tutorial: Braided Beach Maxi

Here’s another summer addition for your wardrobe and you can make one for your little one too!  This was for Melly’s Sews’ 30 Days of Sundresses series.


Children’s clothing is kinda my thing, so I naturally started brainstorming lots of cute summer frocks for little ones.  But for some reason I landed on an idea for a women’s sundress and I couldn’t get it out of my mind!  So, enter my beautiful little sister who is modeling for you the Braided Beach Maxi Dress!

The best thing about this is that it is super simple with very little sewing!  It’s made of knit and has a few unfinished edges which makes it very casual and perfect for a bathing suit cover-up.  I got this knit for $2.39 a yard, so it was very affordable too!

And just in case you were really hoping for something for your little one, don’t fret!

Yup, I couldn’t resist.  After the first one, whipping up a mini version was a breeze!  The tutorial is for the adult maxi version, but you can alter this to fit just about anyone!

So here’s what you’ll need:
– 2.5-3 yards of knit fabric
– 1/4 or 1/2 inch wide elastic for the waist
Sewing essentials

I used a plain white knit to make the dresses and then dyed them afterwards.  This tutorial will not include instructions for dyeing, but if you’re interested I’m sure there are tons of resources online.  Otherwise, use any solid or patterned knit fabric and you’ll be done even faster 🙂

To make your front pattern piece, grab a knit (stretchy) camisole, fold it in half down the front and trace the neckline and armhole.  From the armpit, draw the side of your pattern into an A-line shape.  You want the dress to fit nicely around the chest and then widen from there.  I only drew the top part of the pattern, but keep in mind that the dress will extend far past the bottom of this pattern.

To draw the back pattern piece, lay your front piece down on paper and trace it from the armpit (tiny yellow star) down the side and across the bottom.  Trace along the other side (marked “fold”) stopping about 2 inches from the top of the pattern.  Remove the top pattern piece and draw a curved line to connect the sides.

Now, if I were to make this dress over again, I’d want the braided straps to be thicker, so I’d make this next measurement bigger.  But for the sake of this tutorial, I’ll just describe it the way I did it and you can make adjustments accordingly.

Measure 1.5 inches in from the “fold” line of your pattern and make a mark.

Extend both the “fold” line and the mark that is 1.5 inches in a few inches.  This is going to become the braided racerback and straps.

Your pattern pieces should look like this when cut out.  Keep in mind that when you cut your fabric, it will extend past the bottom edges of the pattern and for the back piece, the strip coming off the top will also be much longer (see the red arrows).  I made my patterns like this to save paper, but don’t cut your fabric like this or you’ll have something very very different!

To cut the front piece of the dress, fold your fabric in half lengthwise.  Measure the desired length of the dress from just below your armpit and add a few inches.  Place your pattern on your fabric accordingly.  From the bottom of the pattern to the bottom of the fabric I just cut in a subtle curve getting wider and wider towards the bottom (I tend to “just wing it” A LOT.  Thank goodness knit is so forgiving!).

To cut your back piece, fold your fabric in half lengthwise and place your front piece on top.  Now you can’t see it in this picture, but my fabric extends for another yard above.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!  You’ll need all that extra fabric above the pattern piece to cut your strap material.

Now trace the entire side of the dress from the bottom up to the armpit (red line).

Remove the front dress piece and place your back pattern piece lining up
with the armpit.  (You like how many times I’ve had to use the word
armpit in the tutorial??  I probably should have said “bottom of the
armhole” or something.  Ooops, oh well).

Trace the pattern along the curved edge and up the straight line, then use a ruler to extend the line all the way to the edge of your fabric, keeping it 1.5 inches from the folded edge the whole way.  I had a little less than a yard, but I wish I had had more.  The longer you have, the more you can do with the straps later.

The hard part is over!  Now it’s the fun part 🙂

Open up your front and back pieces and place them right sides together lined up at the armpits.  Pin along the side of the dresses and sew.

Now find where the smallest part of your waist it (you may need to hold the dress up to your body or try it on) and mark a line 2 inches below that on both sides of the dress (wrong side is still out).

Cut your elastic to your waist measurement.  Overlap the ends of the elastic by 1/2 an inch and sew them together to create a loop.

Slide the dress through the elastic loop and pin the elastic to the dress on the sides.  The dress will be wider than the dress, so you’ll have the pull the elastic as you so.  Go slowly and make sure the elastic right on top of the line that you drew.

Right side out:

Now take the long strip of fabric coming out of the back of the dress and cut it into three even strips.  Mine was originally 3 inches wide, so I cut it into three 1″ wide strips.  Braid the strips for about 2.5 inches.

Then, cut those strips in half, so you now have 6 strips.  Take three strips and braid them all the way to the end, then tie a knot to secure the braid.  Make another braid with the other three strips and you should have a nice braided Y like below.

Flip the dress over to the front and making sure the straps are not twisted, pin them to the front of the dress.  Sew the strap to the front of the dress.  Go back and forth a few times to make sure they are secured firmly to the dress.

This is optional, but since my knit was so stretchy, I decided to bring the neckline in a bit with some gathers.  Using your longest straight stitch, sew along the edge of the neckline without back stitching at either end.  Pull one of the threads to gather the fabric for a few inches in the middle.

Pin your excess braids along the neckline of the dress and do a quick whipstitch to attach it.  Make sure to catch only the back of the braid so the stitching does not show in the front.  For the adult version, I brought the braids to the center and overlapped them.

For the kid version, I had more braid to work with so I brought one side all the way to the other and tied a bow.  I’m sure there are many options for what you can do with the neckline here!

Now just trim the bottom to the desired length.  I left the bottom unfinished, but you can hem it if you want.  The armhole/back of the dress is also an unfinished raw edge.  I like the casual look (and the fact that it requires less work).  But if you want a more finished look, you can attach bias tape from the front along the armhole and then work the extra fabric into the braid.

You’re done!!!  Now throw this baby on and go frolic in the waves!

I really hope you guys give this a try!  Doesn’t it look fun?  If you do make a Braided Beach Maxi Dress, please add it to the you & mie flickr pool so I can see your awesome creations!

Before I go, I just wanted to say a big thank you to my sister for being my lovely model!

Take it easy, everyone!  Happy summer and happy sewing!