DIY Striped Turtleneck: Sewn in Less Than One Hour!

DIY Striped Turtleneck Sew Paradise Christine Jonson PatternsStep 1: log on to favorite retail site. Step 2: select striped turtleneck. Step 3: Order. Step 4: Wait 4-7 days for delivery.

OR Step 1: select fabric from stash. Step 2: Select Christine Jonson Patterns Travel Trio Two’s funnelneck top. Step 3: Cut and sew in less than one hour!¬†
I love this turtleneck. When I bought the fabric in my stash, I had in mind a striped tee shirt. But I have four other striped tee shirts (!), all of which have 3/4 sleeves and a bateau neck. Perfect for spring. Not so much for winter.

The Christine Jonson Travel Trio Two pattern set includes a (reversible) wrap skirt, a reversible hoodie and this funnelneck – with 3/4 sleeves. I altered the sleeve to be long To make a 3/4 sleeve long, I laid the pattern down on paper, marked my new arm length and drew around the pattern down to my mark, keeping the same sleeve seam angles, no changes needed. This easy to sew pattern features TWO pieces – a front/back piece and a sleeve – you honestly can’t get easier than that! The top pattern is quite shapely and comes down longer. I did add 1/5″ to the hem to make it even longer (almost tunic length.)

This top will get heavy rotation in my winter wardrobe, under blazers, over jeans, over leggings, under ponchos. It was incredibly easy to make and very rewarding to sew. I know I say instant gratification at lot on this blog, but this pattern truly is that. In under an hour, with no fuss, I had a great looking top that is comfortable and stylish. No waiting, no adding to cart, just sewn*

And yes, I didn’t even bother to press the top to take the photo, it was that speedy to sew! I highly recommend that you get this pattern – the reversible wrap skirt and hoodie alone are worth it, but the funnelneck/turtleneck will be in heavy rotation in your sewing. Just whip up a new one any time you need a quick fix (prints! a replacement for spilling coffee on your cream colored one!)


*I had the pattern and fabric in my stash

How to get sewing time, 15 minutes at a time

Everyday Paradise | June 23, 2014 | By

I admit, I work a full time job, I have young children, far, far too many hobbies and sports but I still love to sew. And I still make time to sew in the evenings after my kids go to bed.

How? 15 minute increments – I will literally set the timer on my microwave for 15 minutes and start sewing (or cutting). If at the end of that time, I still want to continue, I do (and invariably I do).

So tonight, I decided to sew a jumpsuit from Christine Jonson Patterns’ Wide Leg Pants (with an attached tube top.) I had designed and cut out the pattern last week, in a 15-minute session when my children were watching cartoons on Sunday morning.

This week, I opted to sew the jumpsuit on a Monday evening at 9pm. Between 9pm and 9:11pm, I had serged the tube top together at center back, and each pant leg at the inner leg seam (three seams!) I then took a break to concept how I was going to put these together with a waistband casing. So I sketched for another 15 minutes and played with the pieces, finally coming up with the way it should be constructed. I then decided at 9:33 pm that it was probably time for me to be done sewing for the night. But I pushed ahead a project – and finished the serging on this project (the remaining casing on the waist and top hem, as well as leg hem finishes will be sewn on my straight stitch machine.)

This frees my serger up for a thread change to sew a “wearable muslin” (I think it will be too big, but I’m going to give it away if it is) of another pattern I’m sewing this week.

It’s really that simple – pick 15 minutes, set a timer and sew. If you can’t get your machine set up in 15 minutes, think about ways that you can – I sew on a custom wood cabinet that unfolds that my husband built. It’s in my children’s playroom adjacent to my dining room. I do have to step over a HotWheels track to get to my machine right now. Frequently I have to push aside Legos to get to it, too.

You might find keeping your sewing machine in a kitchen or dining room cabinet adjacent to where you sew (dining room table) is optimal. Or create a nook near or in your dining room with a small sewing table (you can cover it with a tablecloth when not sewing if you wish) Then you could use your sewing table as a sideboard when entertaining. Say, for drinks ūüėČ

Or maybe you want to keep it in your front hall closet which is located near your dining room. Either way, don’t stuff that machine away in the basement if you sew on your kitchen table. Proximity is key to the 15-minute method of sewing.

Upcycling a skirt into a tee


Last year I sewed this tee from this funky printed knit. It’s a fairly snappy matte jersey (poly) knit. I really didn’t like the fabric as a skirt – frankly, it seemed too dowdy! I had sewn the A-line skirt, which looks super cute and modern in a knee-length stretch print (woven or knit) fabric. But this one just didn’t work for me as a skirt. Originally, I had bought it for a tee, and it really was meant to be a tee. So I selected the Christine Jonson Patterns Banded Neck Tee (a very simple tee, with easy to serge banded neckline.)

I was able to use the center front and center back of the Christine Jonson A-Line Skirt panels for the back and one elbow-length sleeve. I will also be able to cut sleeve bands (not shown) out of this skirt as well, out of the two smaller side panels. I grabbed the remnant and cut another sleeve and the front of the tee. It took 12 minutes to do the cutting, and I did it before work!

From the left, back pattern piece (will now have CB seam in it) neck band, sleeve, and sleeve bands out of the other panels left over (hanging off the table edge.)

This tee is so simple!

New sewing patterns from Hot Patterns! Poncho and twist front top and dress


This week, new sewing patterns arrived in my mailbox from HotPatterns! I got the Fast & Fabulous Jet Setter Poncho and the Metropolitan Verano Dress & Top. I added these to my collection that I got over the winter (back row), the Fast & Fabulous Tailored Trackpants (new rayon/tropical wool blend ones coming this weekend!) Fast & Fabuous Four Seasons Kimono Jacket and the Riviera Cote D’azur Dress, tunic & top.

After our incredibly cold and snowy winter (which we just LOVED over here in SewParadise, what with XC skiing, downhill skiing, ice sailing, snow tubing and snow shoeing) our spring has been equally slow and cold in coming. However, I’m not at all upset it’s only 50 degrees today, as it’s perfect poncho wearing weather.

Read my review at for the typical sewing pattern review details you’ll want to peruse before selecting this one for your collection. Read on for my take on upcycling former garments.



So I journaled recently that I needed to get rid of a lot of stuff. Some stuff, like my sewing stuff, ¬†or things I have made but no longer wear, I have a hard time getting rid of. I made a simple practically no-sew fleece ruana about a decade ago. I liked it, but oversized Ruanas have fallen from fashion a bit, so I never wore it much in the last four years. Also it collected dog hair like a magnet. We just needed to be in the same house, the dog and I, and this fabric would attract it. In fact, she’s been dead 7 weeks as of this post and the poncho, in the sewing, attracted tons of it. I cherish the wiggly, crinkly white hairs now, as I pluck them off while sewing. Zuzu, I miss you, even your hair!

But the ruana was not large enough for this full poncho. I had also made a gray ruana for my grandmother at least a decade (or more, she died in 2003) ago, and intended to bring it to her long term memory care facility, but she died before I finished it. So I never wore it. It sat in my basement for 10 years. I moved it once. So today, I upcycled both in to this lovely and stylish new garment! ¬†The big win with this is the cowl is giant – in fact, so large, you can wear it as a hood – in my opinion, this is a wonderful feature in a poncho. The only thing missing is handwarmer pockets set in the seams in the front. It’s a perfect spot for them, and I’d top stitch them right to the center front (no flappy pocket bags inside the garment, they’ll be sewn down.) Next version, I’ll add those to this poncho.

Being Earth week and all (Earth Day was Tuesday) I am trying to not purchase anything. We met with our financial advisor for a full portfolio and retirement planning review on Friday so that also has me conserving cash and getting my wealth building in order. Wealth building does NOT involve frivolous shopping, but it sure does include upcycling stuff from your basement!

The upcycling went well. I first had to determine, roughly, if the pieces would fit on the fabric I had, so I cut out my size (a 12, mostly just for the hem opening, so you can experiment with a smaller size if you want a less roomy poncho, just be sure you can fit it over your hips when you sit down.) I placed them in various spots on at least five different fabrics. Fortunately they all ended up on the upcycled ruanas, as it’s a better use of these former garments. I think this poncho could be made from a fleece blanket, and those you can find at secondhand stores, so I may try that. Be wary, linen closet, as I’m coming for YOU too!

I think this is such a cute garment, that I would like to make one for my daughter. She’s 7, and the smallest size is a woman’s 6, so I’m just going to wing it and hand-draw the same shapes in a much smaller size for her. And yes, in the linen closet, we have a blanket-sized embroidered fleece that I think would be perfect for this!




Legging looks for moms



A recent discussion online about whether moms can wear leggings with tops spurred this blog post. The consensus is yes, with an appropriate top and a longer cardi or jacket that covers one’s bum.¬† I thought I would post a few legging looks for moms over the next few weeks.
These two looks are good examples. In the first, I am wearing a modern animal print blouse from the.fall CAbi collection, a long plum cardi I bought secondhand and leggings that are 27 years old, and that is not a typo. I have on a belt, a scarf and ballet flats to finish the look.
In the second look, I have paired leggings with a tunic, admittedly a very long one. The tunic is Jalie sewing pattern 3312, and the leggings are the same.
Each of these is a casual look suitable for weekends, not work, unless you stay home with children. To upgrade the first look, switch to skinny stretch woven trousers and pair the second with boots and a blazer for work.

Use the good stuff: summer statement necklaces go vintage

I inherited several big ‘statement’ style necklaces from my late grandmother. I have recently finished fixing a few of these after their strands broke after 50+ years in existence. They are perfectly in style now – multiple strands of chunky beads in funky colorways. They probably date from the 1930s, although I am guessing only from knowing a little bit about the fashions during those periods.

These statement necklaces have been loved and worn in my wardrobe even when they were not in ‘fashion’ – but now that they are, they’re even more desirable. I’m styling this one [brown acrylic bead multi strand bib style] with a maxi dress and a blazer for the office on casual Friday. It’s the perfect segue to the weekend, no?

On my last trip up north to the beach house, I spied a young woman in the grocery store who’s outfit I admired from afar. I should have complimented her on it – it was so incongruous for up north. She had on a diagonal striped maxi dress, a faded denim jacket and an iridescent pale dusty pink scarf looped around her neck. ¬†She wore flat silver flip flops and had her hair in a messy bun on her head, big shades propped up as she shopped. This is the kind of thing that I find interesting. Where was she from? This was not an Up North outfit (at least around here – maybe in Traverse City or Charlevoix, yeah, OK, but not here in Oscoda.)

Maybe she was visiting HER grandmother, and in the process picking up a few baubles to wear twenty years hence when they roll back around in style.

In any case, pore through your jewelry stash. Vist rummage and yard sales (particularly church ones; I once scored a bunch of gorgeous vintage beaded necklaces at one near my office.) Find some things that you can mix and match into the perfect multi-strand statement necklace this summer! Beading is one of the easiest crafts Рbeading wire is less than $6 a spool, and besides your upcycled necklaces, you only need pliers, wire cutters and crimping beads (available from the craft emporium, dollar store crafts section, hobby store or specialty bead store.) You can even find them in tiny up north towns, in your dollar stores (even some of the smallest towns seem to have these), five-and-ten stores (Ben Franklin up here) and craft / hobby  / book stores.

Find inspiration on Pinterest, in your favorite online catalogs (I like Anthropologie and JCrew), and beading web sites (Fire Mountain Gems is a favorite of mine.)

Three ways to wear shorts with a blazer or jacket

Three ways to wear shorts with a blazer

It seems like an awfully long time since women’s shorts were in such fashion – I don’t mean that women weren’t wearing shorts, just that high fashion hadn’t zeroed in on shorts. Or even trickled that down to trendy retailers. But this season – and I saw it two years ago in BurdaStyle and SewStylish – the polished, higher-waist (with a real waistband!) short is definitely on the must-wear list.

Right now the shorts are being paired with jackets, which, just like pairing a jacket with jeans – is a great way to elevate a casual shorts-and-tee outfit. But you really need some casual, lightweight jackets to pull this off. With the exception of a white linen jacket, unlined is your best bet.

Good sewing sources for unlined jackets are¬†Angela Wolf’s Unlined Jacket class on PatternReview, the awesomely comfy knit jackets from¬†Christine Jonson patterns.¬†You can make any jacket unlined with good seam finishes, so also check out jackets from¬†HotPatterns,¬†BurdaStyle¬†and Kwik-Sew for good fit and fashion-forward designs. Shorter, tighter fitting jackets are back in style and these look great with shorts. The only real rule here is that the shorts hem MUST be below the jacket, and by a few inches, too. You shouldn’t look like you are going around pantsless!

The shorts-and-jacket trend is accessorized with layered necklaces and flat strappy sandals, or wedge espadrille sandals.

I have a lot of shorts, and several of that true-waistband look. Right now, check out Simplicity, BurdaStyle for shorts patterns with front pleats, pockets, waistbands that are popular. Tuck in your tops, so be sure that your fit is excellent, and that your top has enough volume that if you have a bit of a muffin, a tighter tee doesn’t accentuate the muffin when it’s tucked in.

In ready-to-wear, try JCrew for excellent shorts that will wear forever (still have a pair in my drawer from 20 years ago), or locally, Jeanologie Boutique in East Lansing has high-waisted dark denim shorts in stock now (they may have other styles, too.) You can also go thrift and take a pair of trousers from a thrift store and shorten them to your perfect length. Secondhand boutiques like K2 and Kellie’s Consignments in Okemos also have a good selection of shorts right now.

For moms, I recommend if you can’t or don’t want to tuck in the top, belt the jacket over it. A woven leather belt is casual, a skinny patent belt is more dressy.

Are your legs not in shape for shorts? I recommend riding your bike. Yeah, that one. In the corner of the garage. Get out some chain lube to quell the squeakies, put helmets on you and your kids and make all of the small errands (returning books to the library, going to the park, riding your older kids to and from school, going to church, running smaller errands (quart of milk) or transporting to playdates by bicycle. Lansing, where I live, is flat, flat, flat for bike riding, we have a good network of trail systems, bike lanes and quieter neighborhood streets to do some riding, including Michigan State’s beautiful campus. You might have to be creative, and if you’re with your kids, jump up on the sidewalk. Bike trailers are essential for your not-yet-riding kids and while harder to find used, are well worth the investment – you’ll sell them for almost what you paid for if it’s in good shape at the end.

Biking works the gluteal muscles, the hamstrings and the quads. It also works your calves too. It’s an awesome exercise for great legs up and down!

I guarantee if you ride several days a week (just try it, you’ll see how much more fun errands become!), you’ll have great short-worthy legs starting to emerge in two weeks or less.

Three ways to wear shorts with a blazer by asiegle featuring topshop

nursing fashionista

Today, I’ve layered a print wrap nursing dress (motherwear) over a black turtleneck, worn with black boots and tights, and long gold chain necklace. It’s a very chic look, and the t-neck is cozy under the dress. It’s good, comfortable outfit, and professional. I’ll be in front of City Council tonight.

Add my crinkled gold leather (pleather) handbag, it’s very chic.

why math and decaf don’t mix (knitting)

Everyday Paradise | August 1, 2008 | By

I had mama-hour tonight. I go, one night per week, for about an hour, to a local coffee shop to knit. DH takes weds evening – he gets home generally about 10-10:30 from sailing and dinner, so I take Thursdays. Though I’m only gone an hour.

Knitting is usually safe for my mental state after working all week, but tonight, after a long and tiring week, I skipped over one line on my pattern, the one that says “continue for five rows” (well it doesn’t actually SAY that, it says 72 sts, and the next row says 78 sts which between them is 5 rows. OOPS I skipped over it to another section and moved ahead, missing the five rows.) SO! I have to figure out if it’ll work or if I’m taking out several rows. If I mate it up to the back I already knitted several years ago and they’re the same size, no biggie. If I need the extra half inch, I’ll be taking it out!

That’s the challenge of being in a mentally-demanding, deadline-driven workplace, and then coming home and trying to do something requiring paying attention. And math.

I started this sweater years ago – a funnel-neck sleeveless in a very pale blue/green fuzzy mohair-like yarn. I figured I’d better get some of these unfinished objects finished around here. So much of my life was on hold for four years, and now that it’s not on hold, I’ve made tremendous progress in my hobbies.

But the sweater is too big now, so I’ll also be knitting long I-cord ties to wind around the waist to cinch it up a little.

After I finish this (just a few inches to go, plus those ties) I’m going to get to work on a poncho for baby E. for this fall. I bought fun yarn in France last fall to make it.

I used to have a knitting circle, and I do have a possible one to start with some work friends, but I’m reluctant. I like my quiet alone time. I pop on my iPod to drown out the other conversations at the outdoor cafe and wile away an hour knitting & purling.

This weekend I’m sewing purple. Yes, that’s right, all garments with purple thread. Good thing they’re all purple garments, eh?

Actually, the first one is a silk duppioni sling for a friend’s baby. The second is that Hot Patterns Sugar Babe jacket. And if there’s fabric left over, a top cap sleeve yoke-front top from 7/08 BWoF. I already have a clutch in purple leather.

What is it with the shoes?

Am I that skinny? I stepped on the scale after dinner, 110 lbs. My lowest is 109 (in the last 20 years) and that was last month. But that still doesn’t explain how an 8N from three years ago in my collection fits fine, but an 8N now is swimmingly wide! The cork wedges are going back….sigh, my fourth pair back. Hubs didn’t understand “why not go try them on at the store?” because no one carries 8N in the store!! Anyway, it is a drag. I did put cute pink SummerSoles suede insoles in my white sandals in my collection. They’ll be great with the HotPatterns Sugar Babe pants in linen this summer. And they didn’t cost me a dime (this year anyway.)

I also bought some thread and the steam a seam that I needed to finish the Hot Patterns Sugar Babe tube top from my MINI SWAP for this spring. We have til July, but it’s halfway to June now. And I still have the Burda shirtdress in denim to tackle (slooowly, see my previous post.)

I’m itching for a new handbag for summer. I’ve got to go stash diving and see what I have. I think I’ll make a commercial pattern – sometimes that’s easier and gets me over the hump of having to design something. Right now, I need easy.

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