Sewing a Spring Break Capsule Wardrobe

I love Spring Break! Warm sun, sand, a southern location. It gets me invigorated again. And as all sewists know, there’s nothing more fun than planning a trip AND sewing for it! My 2017 capsule wardrobe for Spring Break features three independent designers*: Christine Jonson Patterns, HotPatterns and Ann Normandy Patterns. All three are well-drafted by professional sewing pattern designers and produced in digital download formats.

Spring Break Sewing Pattern Capsule Wardrobe

Christine Jonson Perfect Pants Classic Wide Leg

First, I selected pants. I live in a cold climate and I have to wear pants on the taxi / bus / plane trip. I chose the Christine Jonson Perfect Pant in classic wide leg – nothing more perfect than a palazzo style pant for the beach. Yum! I dived into my stash and found a deep purple rayon/lycra, which will be drapey and still substantial enough with the folded over doubled yoga waistband that these pants feature.

Then, I added in the Hot Patterns Urban Gypsy off the shoulder blouse. This blouse features a built-in bra, so you can really wear it strapless. I chose a lightweight floral cotton lawn fabric from stash that a friend gave me. Cost? $0.

Hot Patterns Urban Gypsy

Christine Jonson Draped Vest & Jacket

I really wanted a vest and cardigan, so I selected the Christine Jonson Drape Vest & Jacket. This waterfall cardigan and vest is pretty ingenious; there’s a small H-shaped pleat in the front that helps hold the cardigan’s shape and neckline drape. Leave it to Christine to design this and tweak every tiny detail to perfection. THIS is why I sew independent patterns from actual fashion designers – they know their stuff. I’ll make the vest in a near-army-green crinkle rayon knit and the cardi in a dusty smoke blue crinkle rayon knit.


Last, I’m a sucker for a great maxi dress, and I chose the Ann Normandy maxi. I’m interested in this because when I inherited a lot of woven fabrics from friends (I have a large stash of knit fabrics), I wanted a pattern to help me sew these fabrics up. I’ve chosen a navy blue textured cotton – not the heavy linen the pattern loves, but pretty close in hand and drape to it.

Here’s how I’ll wear it:

Travel days: I’ll wear the Classic Wide Leg Perfect Pants from Christine Jonson with a simple tee and the Drape Jacket. Most likely this will be worn with a Gore tex parka (because, winter) and my running shoes (because, small suitcase, and chasing six and nine year old kids.) We fly through Metro Detroit, and if you’ve ever been in the Delta (McNamara) terminal there, there’s a giant fountain as you enter the main departures hall after security. It takes my son eleven seconds to run from the escalators after security to the fountain and climb on it while I am still fumbling with our carry on luggage and shoes! I love business travel for the simple reason that I get to walk silently with a cup of coffee, my roller bag behind me, looking calm and collected. When I travel with my loveable yahoos, I’m hollering all over the airport.

Upon arrival (at 11:30pm), I’ll collapse into bed, BUT the next day, at the Hilton (most likely; we move around during our trip, staying in up to three different hotels depending on our location and activities) I will don a swimsuit and the Ann Normandy maxi dress and head to breakfast and then the pool. I’m excited about making this dress for the first time because of the design details. These are elegant details on a simple dress. I’ll wear this with t-strap flat sandals.

For sightseeing, I’ll wear a tee with the Christine Jonson Drape Vest and (most likely) white shorts.

Dinner out will almost require the HotPatterns Urban Gypsy. I love this look and will wear it with the Christine Jonson Perfect Pant again. I think the Christine Jonson Draped Vest will be perfect over this, too, giving a cold-shoulder look to the outfit. Definitely flat strappy sandals with this look.

I can mix and match things all week long, by adding two basic tee shirts, two pairs of shorts and swimsuits. I always pack running gear and try to run every day I am on vacation, unless I’m walking around at a Disney park, in which case the 10 miles of walking will be sufficient!  There’s nothing that makes me happier than sewing…and traveling, and sewing capsule wardrobes is my kind of perfect!

*complete disclosure: I work with all three of these sewing pattern companies in some marketing capacity, and I consider them friends.  They make great sewing patterns, that’s why I love them.

Ann Normandy Maxi Dress




Fast, ruffled edge DIY fleece ruana

Fleece ruana ruffled edge Sew Paradise

I love a good Ruana, a sumputous cape and or cozy wraps, especially in the fall. Something about wrapping yourself in a beautiful warm piece of fabric just reminds me of autumn. This ruana is made out of Mill Direct Textiles (authentic) Polar fleece –  the real stuff  – in a beautiful peacock blue. I sewed a center gathered at ruffle along a curved edge to create this fun look. While this required a sewing machine, because of the ruffle, it’s a fast and easy project that makes a great gift. But this one is all for me.

This sewing pattern is Christine Jonson Patterns Travel Trio Three that also has a slim fitting raglan tee shirt,  an A-line skirt, a shirred turtleneck and a raglan turtleneck. Today is a cool, cloudy fall day with the maple trees ablaze with color. It feels like the kind of day you want to curl up and sew, a steaming cup of coffee at your side. It’s about my perfect thing to do on a day like today, followed by wrapping myself up in this gorgeous teal ruana and going for a walk with my dog. The best part about sewing these is wearing them! I love to wear my capes and wraps over a slim fitting sweater or T shirt and jeans and a pair of beautiful suede boots.

The ruffles were challenging, I’ll be honest. I don’t have a ruffler foot for my machine (and I’m unsure if it would work on this thick 200 weight fleece). So I ruffled five long strips about four feet in length (each). They ruffled down to about 30 inches each one and then I carefully sewed each one together. But as I got to the edges, the gathering thread (I did only one) started pulling out. I should have done a double row of gathering stitches – sometimes this does not work at all on thick fabrics like fleece, so I opted for one. But I ended up having to re-gather a couple of the strips. I also had to pin them all down, and as a I sewed, I flattened the ruffle on each side as it went under the presser foot.

About ten years ago this week, my husband and I took our then seven-month-old daughter to France. We spent a week in an apartment in Paris and a week in an apartment in Avignon in the south of France. It was a gorgeous fall trip, and while in Avignon, we stumbled across a farm market. There, a woman was making curved Ruanas with ruffles that looked pretty much just like this! They were beautiful – she had them in every color imaginable – camel, merlot, navy, red, citron, cerise pink, and of course, this beautiful teal. At the time, I said to myself, “oh I can make that”, which is every crafter’s promise (often unfulfilled). And it’s taken me a decade to make my rendition of it.

We walked around that market in the sun, the toasted hillsides and tall cedar trees rising above the terracotta roofs of the houses alongside the big parking lot where the market was held. We bought fancy soaps, now long since lathered up and loved, we bought delicious food (which we ate in our apartment) and I bought several lengths of fabric, A shower curtain with Provençale designs hangs in my guest bath (along with framed photos of that trip), blue-and-yellow-and-black print placemats and napkins now faded, and loved, lay folded in my table linen drawers in the kitchen.  While this fleece didn’t come home with me from France, the memory of that ruana in the stall at the market, that I can see so clearly, is now a reality.

I’ll love this ruana tomorrow with a cream sweater, jeans, a pair of light gray suede tall boots and a lovely scarf tied around my neck. Very French girl chic. Go, make yourself something lovely!

Sewing a knit boyfriend blazer

ChristineJonsonBoyfriendJacket -Sew-Paradise

ChristineJonsonBoyfriendJacketAnn1 ChristineJonsonBoyfriendJacket -Sew-Paradise ChristineJonsonBoyfriendJacketAnn2Christine Jonson Boyfriend Jacket

I have wanted to sew a new boyfriend blazer for some time. I wore them back in the 1980s and early 1990s and decided when the trend returned, I’d sew another. A boyfriend jacket is a slightly oversized blazer that you wear with a slim skirt or skinny pants. It’s relaxed, and lean, and looks like you nipped it from your boyfriend’s closet. You know, if your boyfriend had skinny shoulders and slender arms. MY man’s jackets swim on me; you could insert two of me in them in real life. But the boyfriend style, slightly oversized, long and lean, is chic and effortless looking without looking like you are wearing a jacket that fits a 6’2″ man who outweighs you by 60 lbs.

I chose the Christine Jonson Boyfriend Jacket and a cream ponte knit. The ponte is drapey and heavy, with just enough body for this blazer. The front facing and shawl collar are interfaced with interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.

This is a really, really lovely jacket! I can’t say enough about how easy it was to sew. See this review at for more details about this jacket.

The thing I loved is the facing construction. There’s a notch you sew on the back neck at shoulders on both the jacket and the facing. And this makes the facing lie FLAT against the jacket across the shoulders and back neck, so you can then topstitch the entire facing down. No floppy facings on the inside! Let’s face it, tacking the facings at the shoulder and center back is just not as nice as having the whole thing sewn down to the jacket. The seaming on the front from this topstitching adds a long design element too.

I added a fun hidden pocket in the facing on this jacket for my phone and credit card. Read the tutorial here.

The jeans are from CAbi, their Ruby style. But they don’t make this dark denim stretch anymore. You can find a similar style from Levi’s (midrise skinny) for about $40. The top is an asymmetrical, boat neck top with ruched hem. I bought it in La Jolla at the Goodwill store (no kidding!) for $6. I get tons of compliments on it, and I will hack it back onto two other patterns to make another just like it.

But sewing often has it’s challenges, and tonight, the piéce de resistance? I sewed the buttonhole on the guy’s side of the jacket (left side) and the button on the right. Sigh. At least it truly IS a boyfriend jacket!

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