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Sew Paradise

Adding a shelf bra to a maxi dress

Adding a shelf bra to a maxi dress sewing pattern hack
Inside of a maxi sundress, a knit shelf bra added to a woven maxi sundress. Pattern is the Greenstyle Creations Havana Dress.

We love Maxi Dresses in the summer! But we also don’t love wearing a bra in summer’s heat or wearing one peeking out of the dress spaghetti straps. Fortunately, even if your dress doesn’t come with an option, it’s easy to add a knit shelf bra to a maxi dress (with or without molded cups sewn in.)

  1. Mark the underbust spot on your sewing pattern by holding the pattern up, measuring from the neckline or shoulder or up from the waist mark on the pattern to your underbust. This will be your finished shelf bra length
  2. Mark a spot 2” below this on your pattern
  3.  Trace the top of the dress front and the dress back to the line you marked. You’ll trace out a copy of each of these. These will become your shelf bra.
  4. If your dress has folded-and-stitched facings, your shelf bra will replace these facings
  5. If your dress has applied binding, you will sandwich the shelf bra and dress wrong sides together, baste the raw edges along the top of the dress and apply the binding to both at the same time
  6. Sew the top of the dress and the top of the shelf bra.
  7. Fold up the shelf bra bottom band .5” and press
  8. Fold up the shelf bra bottom band 1” and press
  9. Stitch around the bra band, leaving an opening to insert ¾”  non-roll elastic. You may also cut off the hem allowances and apply soft waistband elastic instead, stitching it directly to the raw edge of the shelf bra
  10. If you’re using a casing, measure elastic around your underbust, and subtract one inch. This is your elastic cut length
  11. Thread elastic through the casing and pin with a safety pin. Put on the shelf bra and try the fit. The band should be snug but not too tight.
  12. Once your shelf bra is finished, you’ll apply this either as a facing, right sides together with the dress, stitch around the dress top/neckline and fold inside the dress, or you’ll apply this wrong sides together to the inside of the dress, baste the top edges and apply binding to the neckline and armholes.
  13. If you are applying this as a facing, you can use the facing instructions for your dress OR apply the facing to the neckline only, then turn/press under both the armholes on the dress and the facing and stitch together. If you choose the latter, you’ll finish both the armhole edges at the same time.

I’ve used the Greenstyle creations maxi dress with bias binding.

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Sew Paradise

How a sewing mistake led to my favorite summer pants

Using a precious fabric bought on an Italian vacation, I made a sewing mistake. And I fixed my sewing mistake to become one of my favorite summer outfits!

Sewing mistake to favorite wide leg summer palazzo pants. Pic of wide leg pants summer porch tank top.
See that side seam with crossgrain stripes and a ruched hem? A total mistake! My favorite mistake pants!

Around the corner and up two twisty blocks from the Duomo in Florence, along cobbled streets, zig-zagged with crazy Italian scooter drivers and bicyclists, there’s a three-story fabric store. On the first floor, the premium fabrics – silks, Italian wools, leather and suede. The second and third hold better bargains. On the first floor, in the silks, I selected a beautiful silvery grey hammered silk with black and purple stripes. I bought two meters. Intending this to be a blouse of some sort, I figured that was enough fabric. I also bought gray windowpane lightweight Italian wool (still in my stash! Must sew!)

Sewing mistake to favorite wide leg summer palazzo pants. Pic of wide leg pants summer porch tank top
Close up of the hammered silk fabric. Variegated stripes in black, brown and purple add to the dimension of this beautiful Italian fabric. It’s withstood nearly 20 years of wear, every summer (machine wash, hang to dry.)

My two fabrics went home with me in a large gallon ziploc bag in my small 40-cubic inch “going to Europe” backpack.

The next spring, I sat down to sew the blouse, but it didn’t want to be a blouse at all. It wanted to be palazzo pants. I selected a no-side-seam pattern (now OOP, from Sandra Betzina, but a similar pant, with modifications, is the Christine Jonson Wide Leg pant #824.) Except, during cutting, I realized I didn’t have enough fabric.

At first, I pondered adding in a patch in each crotch seam. Too weird. Then, I looked at splitting the pattern at the side seam, and using actual scraps left over from cutting the pants, cut across the crossgrain of the bottom of the fabric to create long, ruched panels down the side of the legs.

The crossgrain panels put the stripes sideways, and the long lengths I had of these scraps I ruched from about mid calf to the hem. This ruching and crossgrain stripe ended up being the very best part of these otherwise simple elastic-waist wide-leg pants.

I had quite literally zero fabric waste on these pants when I cut them out (except for the crotch cutouts, and I’m pretty sure I saved those in a scrap bag somewhere to make, I don’t know, a bookmark or something.)

A complete screw up during cutting led me to making my favorite summer pants. This precious fabric became one of my perennial favorite summer garments, super lightweight pants with enough style to hold up a simple tank top and flip flops.

Top: Christine Jonson Flyaway Top and OOP Sandra Betzina pants (similar, Christine Jonson Wide Leg Pants #824 with leg width modified below the knee.)

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Sew Paradise

Curved-hem midi skirt hack

Use any straight elastic-waist skirt to create a trendy midi skirt with shirt-tail curved hem. Sew it in your favorite knit or woven fabric.

This knit skirt is sewn in rayon/lycra knit and has sideseam pockets and a curved midi-length hem
This curved hem midi-length skirt is sewn in a woven linen/cotton printed fabric

You’ll need five things:

  1. a basic pull on skirt with elastic waist. I used the Christine Jonson Patterns BaseWear Two skirt (straight skirt version)
  2. A ruler
  3. A pencil
  4. A large dinner plate
  5. Newspaper, pattern tracing paper or Kraft paper

Curved hem midi-skirt pattern hack steps:

Cut out your traced pattern and place it on top of opaque tracing paper or underneath transparent tracing paper.

Trace the skirt as a whole piece (both sides)

Remove the pattern piece

Using a large dinner plate, you’ll trace curved edges along the outside edge pattern piece. There is only one pattern piece for the skirt I used but if you have a front and a back, do this for both.

Place the plate so one side is along the sideseam and 1/2 of the plate is off the pattern piece (see photo illustration below). Trace the curve around to the new hemline. Remove the plate. You’ve added a few inches to the hem of the skirt, so adjust the skirt’s lengthen/shorten line by folding up the pattern and taping it down, so the final finished new hem is where you prefer it. I recommend a midi length hem for this style skirt – somewhere between 3” below the knee to 5” above ankle.

You may cut a sideseam pocket at this time – any sideseam pocket will work (from any other pattern.) Cut 4. Sew this pocket as you would sew any sideseam pocket when you sew the side seams of the skirt.

Cut and sew the skirt as directed.

Adding an elastic waist drawstring

A fun addition to a woven skirt (shown above in dark blue with geo print) is adding an elastic drawstring.

  1. Before sewing the waisband casing, fold and press the waistband
  2. Unfold and mark the CF of the skirt
  3. Make a mark on either side of the CF of the skirt, on the skirt side (not the folded-over waistband casing side) below the fold you pressed.
  4. Sew two vertical buttonholes below the fold you pressed. These will be your exits for the drawstring casing
  5. Cut your elastic for your skirt at 2/3″ your full-waist measurement. It needs to be much shorter because you will attach your drawstring ties to each end of the elastic.
  6. Sew two tubes of fabric
  7. I made mine 2″ x 15″ long, folded to 1″ x 15″, sew the long end, two short ends, then cut in half.
  8. Turn your drawstring tubes right side out and press
  9. Stitch the raw edge of one drawstring to the end of the elastic, and the other one to the other end of the elastic
  10. Stitch the casing down all the way round the skirt
  11. Thread the elastic-drawstring through the buttonholes
  12. Try on, adjust and tie! The nice thing about elastic drawstrings is once you tie it, you never need adjust it, since the elastic will stretch to get the skirt on and off.

That’s it! Enjoy your new stylish midi skirt with curved hem.

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Sew Paradise

Scout Tee + Silverton Blazer

I sewed my second Scout Tee from Grainline Studio this week. This one, in a raspberry silk noil I sewed in a smaller size than my printed cotton voile one here. Both fabrics I purchased from Seams Fabric in East Lansing (my Local Fabric Store/LFS).

Woven tee shirts are interesting. Over the years, I’ve purchased ready-to-wear woven ‘tee shirts’ in various (usually polyester) prints. They are dressier than a knit tee, which is their appeal. I made a commitment to making some of these woven tops (of various shapes or styles) in much nicer fabrics to build out my casual work from home wardrobe. They have all the look of a tee shirt, but a slightly more polished fit. The Scout Tee has a scoop neck, with bias binding, a cap sleeve, a fitted upper bodice and a flowy lower body to the tee. This means it hides a multitude of post-quarantine dessert-baking sins, and looks cute with jeans and a knit blazer – the Silverton Blazer from Straight Stitch Designs.

Prior to the pandemic, this jeans+tee+blazer was my go to for most of my work weeks. Since I no longer have work meetings anywhere but my home office desk, I fell down the (admittedly, comfortable) rabbit hole of track pants and sweaters for about seven weeks there. It felt good to put on a blazer and a tee with jeans that zip and button.

The Scout Tee is an easy sew, for a beginner, this tee will teach you how to set in a sleeve, and sew a bias faced neckline. As for making woven tees versus knit, the ease of hemming a woven fabric versus a knit, cannot be overstated, but the ease of sewing a set in cap sleeve in a knit or making a reverse-bound neckline on a knit cannot be overstated. So you’re trading one set of challenges for another with this tee. Neither is better or worse.

The silk noil is new for me, I’d never sewed with it before. Seams Fabric made this their January sew along project, and everyone and their sister in my town is sewing these Scout Tees in silk noil. Not wanting to be left behind, I bought two yards of it on my last pre-pandemic curbside order from Seams. I love the easy elegance of this tee on everyone I’ve seen make it in this fabric, and I wanted that same look for myself. I wasn’t disappointed – it’s exactly the kind of casual chic that I love. It sews up very well.

A few tips on set in sleeves: when you do the gathers on the sleeve, you sew two rows of gathering stitches near the edge of the sleeve cap inside the seam allowance. But then, you have to actually sew the sleeve in with those gathers in place. I recommend you sew from INSIDE the sleeve cap AND that you sew about 1/4″ or 1/2″ away from the stitching (yes, this means a bigger seam allowance than the pattern states) because it’s only there that the sleeve cap is flat enough to not cause bunching while stitching. If you try to sew right next to those gathering rows, you’ll end up sewing in some tucks you don’t want. However, if you sew from inside the sleeve cap (and 1/4″ – 1/2″ from those gathers) and curve the sleeve into the machine as you sew, you will find that this helps ensure the cap is flat without little tucks. Curving the sleeve means to hold it up off the sewing machine in it’s curved-sleeve-cap shape and roll it down and under the presser foot as you sew.

All in all, I like this pattern a lot. I did size down 1-2 sizes from my full bust measurement, and I tweaked this by cutting my “measured” size and then using a 3/4″ seam allowance on the tee. For finishing, I used pinking shears. I think pinked seam allowances are very underrated – they lay flat, they are kinda retro and they are simple to make.

The Scout Tee is worth your time to make it more than once. I would consider this a staple in my wardrobe, and I’m off to raid my stash to find all sorts of 1.5 yard cuts that I can squeeze a woven tee shirt out of.

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Sew Paradise

Ruffled Raglan Tee

Ruffled raglan waffle-knit tee with tailored trackpants Sewing pattern hack + review

I love waffles. Their puffy, soft nooks for butter and maple syrup to pool are so yummy. I hate making waffles. They are a complete pain in the rear to cook, and clean up after.

So, too, did I love this waffle weave knit fabric I purchased from Seams Fabric in downtown East Lansing. It’s so soft, a buttery, creamy color and it even has a bit of heft to it. But waffle weave knit itself is infuriatingly stretchy with zero recovery, making the choice in both pattern AND technique especially important.

Ruffled Raglan Tee Christine Jonson Patterns
Ruffled Raglan Tee shirt sewing pattern

I originally cut this into another pattern, but the pattern required a slightly more substantial (and certainly less soft-stretchy) fabric than this, so I used the same pieces and some of the fabric I had left over and cut a Christine Jonson Patterns Raglan Tee. The reason I chose this pattern is it’s ease of construction and excellent fit.

The pattern itself is designed for very stretchy knits with soft recovery (similar to this) so it has some interesting details that make it suitable for that.

The neckline is cut tight so when you sew with a soft stretchy fabric, it stretches while sewing (as it always does) but the pattern has accommodated for that. That, in my opinion, is brilliant design. I still modified the neckline to be about 3/8″ wider (trimming off 3/8″) and I used matching cream rib knit. With waffle weave, using a rib with some snap to it (not a lot, but a bit) was the key to getting a good neckline. I sewed this with a straight stitch, and because I used the 78% (roughly) measurement of neckband to neckline ratio, I stretched the ribbing while sewing, so I don’t really have to worry about stitches popping.

Tailored trackpant HotPatterns

The ruffles are another Christine Jonson Pattern, the Ruffle Top. The ruffles are actually flounces, meaning they are cut on a circular inner shape, and when you flatten them out, the curve on the outside creates the ruffled effect. This makes it easy to sew onto the raglan tee – just straighten the inner flounce and sandwich the layers together as you sew the raglan.

I opted to edge serge the ruffles as the knit was a bit soft. Normally you just cut these with a rotary cutter on rayon/lycra knit, and that’s it! No hemming of the edges needed.

The other nice design feature of this tee is the shapely but slightly flared wrist opening on this tee pattern. This makes finishing the sleeve hem of your tee MUCH easier than most other finishing (other than a rib knit cuff). I edge-serged both the sleeve and the bottom hem, then turned and used Steam a Seam to hold and fix the hems in place for topstitching.

Seam a seam for sewing knit fabric hems easily

IMHO this Steam a Seam is a godsend for sewing knits. It permanently stabilizes the hem once ironed, is slightly sticky, and offers a stable base upon which to topstitch. Because the sleeve opening is flared, I did not have to worry about this edge being stretchy, unlike a typical tee shirt sleeve.

I also cut this tee about 2 sizes up – it’s a fairly fitted tee shirt in your typical size, so going up gave me a bit of slouch that I was looking for. Still shaped, but slouchy.

ETA: the knit was not pre-washed (boo!), I usually do this right away but didn’t, you know what happens next… It does, however, look fabulous on my 13-year old!

I’m wearing this with the HotPatterns Tailored Trackpant in rayon doubleknit and this combination is pajama-comfortable but casual and stylish.

#sewingpatterns #workfromhomeoutfits

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Sew Paradise

HotPatterns Tailored Track Pant

I’ve joined the HotPatterns Secret PJ Club Sew-a-long for April 2020, during quarantine, and this is my first entry!

HotPatterns Tailored Track Pant Review
The HotPatterns Tailored Trackpant in rayon doubleknit burgundy heather.

These Tailored Trackpants are just that, a classic jogger style with trouser cuffs. I’ve sewn jogger banded knit cuffs, which are optional; the pants normally have a narrow, ankle standard folded cuff (or turn-ups) which is super cute with flats or sneakers or flat strappy sandals, and elevates the pant to “wear at work” when we’re all done with this quarantine stuff.

HotPatterns Tailored Trackpant Review
From HotPatterns.com website, the track pants!

For the moment, though, I sewed these RIGHT out of the envelope in a size 14. They are designed for woven OR knit fabric, so I made a muslin in woven in the 14, and I made just one teensy alteration – the pants have a curve upward at the side waist (you can see it in the line illustration on the pattern cover). If you are curvy in the hip, try this. If you are straight, like me, I took a small wedge out at the top waist near the side seam across both front and back. Basically I flattened the curve, LOL, see what I did there!? Ha! I flattened the waist shape so it went straight across to the sideseam, without that little upward curve. Otherwise ZERO alterations on these pants. A little gallows humor is necessary in these times.

I will admit I tried to make these 4 years ago, but I cut out too small of a size. Being the daredevil that I am, I cut the PAPER pattern (not a download!) and cut them off to an 8 (what was I thinking?) So I actually TAPED the stuff I cut off (at least I was pragmatic; I saved the pattern cut off) and RECUT (well, traced, this time) the size 14. I did cut it slightly generously to a 16 which, as it turns out, I really do not need, especially in a knit. I’m a 32″w, 41.5″ hip but HP goes way up into the plus sizes. This is why I’m a 100% download girl, and print-at-home to boot. Just print a fresh one if you need it.

I chose a lusciously soft rayon doubleknit from stash (I’d previously made a slim, front slit, midi skirt from this fabric too!) and used up just about all but tiny scraps. Feeling very WWII miserly in my fabric use on this one. The fabric is gorgeous, a deep heather burgundy, and it feels heavenly. Just heavenly!

Being that this is, after all, the Secret PJ Club, I drafted my own jogger cuffs, and, thank goodness this fabric is super stretchy because I had to stretch the cuff like MAD to get them on the leg openings. If you plan this, make sure you have a ton of stretch or narrow the lower leg before you sew on your jogger cuffs.

I measured my ankle with a tape measure, making sure the measure was not tight around my ankles, and I used that measurement as the long side, and the short side for me was 6″. I drafted a cuff that was 6″ tall (folded to 3″ before sewing onto the pants.) You can vary this to have a wider or narrower cuff if you prefer. I didn’t record my ankle measurement but I’d say it was 11″ x 6″ when I cut them out. I have skinny ankles as you can see, but these are not tight. Trudy talks a lot about these being secret pajamas, that you’d be taking naps in them at this time, and this is a VERY FINE idea. This time that we are in, during quarantine, is hugely stressful and I’ve admitted to taking a nap (during workday) at least once, especially when I was ill with a cold (or COVID-19, who knows!)

There are a few important waistband construction tips that I recommend that vary from the instructions. Full disclosure, I cannot FIND the instructions, BUT Trudy and Jeremy have done a great YouTube video here, sewing the Tailored Track Pant in it’s entirety in a video. A fellow sewist in the HP Sewing Club on facebook did send me the waistband instructions, but they aren’t as detailed as what I’m about to give you, so:

  1. When sewing the waistband, attach it to the pants flat, before inserting elastic BUT SEE #3 for very important tip
  2. Sew your channels, leaving them open, too
  3. Do NOT sew the back 2″ of the waistband to the pants – you’ll need this open to insert the elastic channels above. I used two channels because my narrower elastic all got used up making health care masks during the quarantine, so I used wider elastic and made just two channels.
  4. Use soft braided swim elastic or pajama elastic, not the non-roll kind. These are soft pants!
  5. Make a muslin. Yes. Please do. Especially if you’re making these in a woven fabric! I tweaked the waistband and marked it later on my muslin for reference.
HotPatterns Tailored Trackpant Review
When sewing the waistband, do not insert the elastic before sewing it to the top of your pants. Simply leave the entire 2″ back seam open, then insert the elastic into each channel (there are two channels sewn here because I had to use wider elastic than the pattern instructions.)

These are going to be my most-lived-in pant during quarantine – and once we’re done and I’ve decided against wearing jeans every day for most of my work life, I’ll make them with the turn-ups/cuffs and wear soft pants in woven fabrics forever. I got rid of all my dress pants a few years back, after moving my work home, and I have never regretted either decision! But these are way more comfy than my skinny jeans.

I’m wearing this with the HotPatterns ShirtTail Tee shirt, a classic cut-on-cap-sleeve with a cute cuff detail, shirt tail hem and a clever folded band neckline that makes sewing this type of neck a breeze. The hems of the curved tee are sewn BEFORE the sideseams, saving you any fussy hemming.

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Sew Paradise

Double-sided fleece ruana for Cozy Spring Layers

Now that we’re all sequestered in our homes, it’s time to revive the blog and #stayhomeandsew! Today I’m sharing a favorite cozy spring layer outfit that I love. It’s about 50 degrees out, and I have on a light heather gray cashmere turtleneck (#J.Crew, thrifted from #Poshmark), and a double-sided ruana in light gray Polartec fleece and a camel houndstooth Blizzard Fleece Print from #JoannFabrics.

My ruana pattern is one from #burdastyle which has buttonholes and a tie waist belt. But there are zillions of ruana patterns including free ones online that you can google.

Insert buttonholes in the fleece front and back, for a long tie to go through to wear wrapped. The tie goes in the front, around your waist, back out the back buttonhole, across your waist and back in on the other back buttonhole, across your other side and out the front buttonhole before tying. So the visual effect is a waist belt in the front and back but not on the sides.

And, a pic of some neighbor’s crocuses because, well, we need cheery flowers right now!

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Sew Paradise

Boyfriend Jacket Pattern Review

I love a good Boyfriend jacket. Back in the 80s, I lived in and loved jackets. I remember a particularly awesome one, a white crushed satin-y fabric that I bought at a popular teen clothing store, and wore over my paperbag waist acid wash tapered denim jeans and pastel tee shirts a la Miami Vice. Oh yeah! You know the look!

The Christine Jonson Patterns Boyfriend jacket is a favorite of mine now that the Boyfriend jacket has come back in fashion (same, too, with those paperbag acid wash jeans too!) I have made this four times, twice in a knit and twice in a woven fabric. The beauty is it works in both knit and woven fabrics.

I chose a vintage glen plaid that I got from a local sewing store, Seams Fabric in downtown East Lansing, from their vintage and reclaimed fabrics room. It’s a poly-rayon blend (it does want to wrinkle, and has a smooth feel, so I suspect more rayon than poly) I added a lined pocket to the front, matching the plaid to the jacket.

The Boyfriend is a straightforward sew. The only even slightly tricky part is the shawl collar – the back neckline and the facing come together in a squared off U when you sew them, and there are clear instructions on this. I mark well, clip where I’m supposed to and flatten out the U as I sew it directionally as specified in the instructions. The other key sewing tip is to use directional sewing for major parts of the jacket – for instance, I sew down the facing from CB to hem and CB to the other hem – I don’t start at one hem and sew all the way round to the other one.

One of my very favorite things about this jacket is that the unlined facing is completely topstitched down, so you have no floppy facings! I prefer pockets and there’s a free download template for one on the Christine Jonson website. I line mine because it’s easier to sew around a pocket hem than it is to fold under, secure and topstitch. I line it and turn it through where the lining meets the folded over top edge of the pocket, then slip stitch the opening closed.

I also made this, unlined, with pockets, in a pink tiny check wool blend that I got from a buy-sell-trade group on Facebook. It’s definitely wool (again, vintage, reclaimed fabric) but lightweight and a pretty pink that looks fabulous over a blue and white striped tee and jeans. Because the fabric appears more solid than patterned when you stand away from it, you can feel free to wear a floral or stripe tee under it. I utilized the selvedge for a fold-over facing on the pocket, for an interesting detail.

If you’re using a woven, a tip, measure the sleeve width BEFORE cutting, as the jacket is designed for stretch knit fabrics, and to push up the sleeves, you may want to go wider than the pattern is on your woven fabric so you can roll the sleeves comfortably. I have skinny arms so this wasn’t an issue, but my arms are fairly unnaturally skinny (smaller than my 9-yo’s wrists!)

I cut an S in this jacket in either fabric, but check your hip measurements using the enclosed Tissue Pattern Measurement sheet (they calculate what the measurements are flat on paper and add them up for you) so you can be sure you can button the jacket (if you choose!) in a woven fabric. I actually omitted buttons and buttonholes entirely on the gray glen plaid version as I rarely use them (mainly for decoration.)

I have made this previously in a cream ponte knit and a heather charcoal gray ponte knit too. Both of these are well-loved in my wardrobe, and the skinnier arm opening in my size works great to push up the sleeves on the jacket.

The slightly slouchy but STILL shaped jacket is just oversized enough to look like you nipped it from your rock band’s bass player’s closet. Wear it in cream over a leopard print midi pencil skirt and Vans sneakers or over a graphic tee shirt and skinny jeans. This jacket begs for a cool statement necklace and a graphic tee shirt.

The pattern comes with a boatneck shell sleeveless slightly boxy tee shirt – the shirt is slightly cropped and boxy, designed for stretch knit fabrics. In a stripe, it is a cool under layer to this awesome jacket. The boat neck isn’t too crazy wide, just flattering.

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Sew Paradise

Sewing Pattern Review of the Slit Skirt by Christine Jonson Patterns

Midi knit skirt with front slit sewing pattern hack
On the left, a JCrew sweater (thrifted) over the Slit Skirt/ Pencil Skirt with front slit hack from Christine Jonson Patterns and on the right, a CAbi blouse from my closet.

I recently broke out the Slit Skirt by Christine Jonson Patterns. Inspired by the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of Sew News magazine (I’m a print+ digital subscriber), I wanted to make a slim, front slit skirt to wear with oversized slouchy sweaters, unstructured jackets and cropped tees.

In the magazine, the model wears a slim sweater knit skirt with sneakers, a long sleeve v-neck sweater and a hand-dyed Wiksten Haori, which is next up on my list – both the hand-dye and the Haori jacket. (The cover of this magazine is soft pink with a model in a pink sweater and artfully frayed jeans.)

I love the modern, chic, yet casual skirt look. My job is to coach creative & health coaching entrepreneurs in building their businesses through technology. So I spend 100% of my day at my desk, sitting or standing. I need comfort and I love style. This skirt fits the bill (and so will the entire outfit once I’m done.)

I modified the skirt using the instructions at the Christine Jonson Patterns blog here.

My fabric is rayon/nylon/lycra ponte knit, and this ponte is LUSCIOUS. The rayon ponte is the only one you want, and this particular one is so deluxe it feels like sweater knit. Super luxe fabric makes a difference. You could also do this in cotton/lycra too.

The skirt is going to be my go-to skirt for long car trips and plane trips that I have this spring – it’s comfortable and cozy and still offers some venting, because, after all, I am running a little hot these days! It’s narrow enough to ride a bicycle in (this is important as I use bike share and/or bring my bicycle for city travel.)  And it’s perfectly suited for both work (conference) or casual (vacation) travel.

The fabric I chose is 65% rayon, 5% lycra and the rest nylon. It’s been in my stash a while, from back when Christine used to sell fabric as well. But so much great knit fabric abounds that you can find similar quality (look for mostly rayon in your ponte!)

This was an easy and satisfying sew. I modified the slit to be equal on both sides (not overlapping) and I added a security stitch across the front of the slit so it doesn’t pull out if it’s under strain. I sewed the hack as per the blog post and made no other modifications. I do recommend that you try on your waistband, and make it tighter than you think you need to, because tomorrow, it will feel looser!

After making this, and wearing it with a tucked-in v-neck top (also a Christine Jonson pattern) and a draped lightweight boiled wool vest (yet another Christine Jonson pattern!) I decided that I really should have more of these polished knit garments. I wear jeans and tees most of the time, or jeans and sweaters in the winter, and this outfit is both chic and comfortable.

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Fashion for moms nursing tops and dresses Sew Paradise

DIY Strapless Bandeau wide leg jumpsuit – sew your own!

 

CJPatterns-Jumpsuit-225x300This DIY jumpsuit with wide legs is super simple to make. Drafted from the Christine Jonson Wide Leg Pants and sewn with an attached tube top is a very fast-to-make and easy, elegant weekend look.

Sewing this fun, comfortable and easy-to-wear garment is easy. You’ll need your choice of knit pants pattern. The one I’ve selected is Christine Jonson’s Wide Leg and Taper Pant. This pant has a choice between a wide leg (shown here) and a skinny pant. If you want a skinny pant under a bandeau top, go for the slim leg pant, if you want a wide one, like I have on, go for the wide.

Christine recommends that you chalk around your pattern pieces, remove them and then cut them out. I highly recommend it, as you’ll be able to adjust the width of the leg at the hem. This pant (even in a wide leg) has a slight taper, and I prefer it to go straight down from knee to hem.

This pant has no side seam, and neither does the bandeau top, so it’s a perfect match up.

To begin, you need to calculate the bandeau top dimensions. The reason for this is that the bandeau top is a rectangle and your pants are not. So mating up your pants top to the bandeau bottom is best if they are the same width (you’ll see photos in a moment.)

I’m marrying the wide leg pants to a bloused tube top. The tube top’s width is determined by your full bust size  – mine’s 36 inches and to create some ease, I’ve added 4inches to this width (2in. each side) for 40in., plus seam allowances, to 42in.  You might want MORE ease, so just add more to your full bust measurement. I’ll be using a center-back seam on the tube top. Measuring from my high bust to my waist is 15 inches, so I’ve added 6in. to this measurement to account for the waistband seam allowance, a casing for elastic at the top and blousing. My finished flat pattern measurements will be 42w” x 21h. If you want to be sure you have enough blousing, cut this longer and you can always hem the casing at the top shorter when you get there.

In measuring the flat pattern waistband top of the trousers, the size 12 is 38 inches across. I tapered out to a 14 for my slightly wider waist, but you can still see that 42 inches married to 40 inches means I ‘ll have to add 2in. to the waistband (you’ll be gathering this later with elastic casing.)

SewingStraplessJumpsuit.jpg

SewingStraplessJumpsuitDIY

As you can see at left, pants, (back) and tube (back) are ready to be sewn together.  I have also provided a drawing of this part of the instructions as well.

 

 

ConstructingBandeauJumpsuit.jpg

To do this sewing together AND making a casing at the same time, you will mark the actual waist line of the pants on to the right side of your fabric (see the dashed line on the drawing).  Then, you’ll flip the tube so it’s right sides against the right side of the back of the pants. You’ll actually be laying the seamlines together but NOT the raw edges – you could just match up the raw edge waistbands here too and sew a 1.75″ seam allowance, trim away one layer and then fold that up as the casing, but I actually lowered the tube down so it’s seamline matched up with the drawn waistband line on the pants as shown in the drawing.

 

SewingHemOnDIYJumpsuit

Once sewn, you’ll now have a big seam allowance with which to create a casing, so fold that up on the inside, enclosing the raw edge from the tube top part of the garment.

Pin the casing down from the right side of the fabric. Stitch along the pin line, leaving an opening to insert elastic on the back side of the jumpsuit.

In the photo at left, you can also see I’ve folded the top tube casing down for stitching as well as pinned the waistline casing from the outside. Turned under 1/4″ and then 1.25″ (I’m using 1″ wide elastic). You can topstitch that down too, leaving an opening in the back for inserting elastic.

Casings done, it’s time to insert some elastic! Cut elastic to your high bust measurement – this is above your full bust where the top of the tube will rest. Snug it up comfortably, you won’t want this to slip down, but you also won’t want it to be too tight.

Cut your elastic, thread it through the casing and stitch it together before stitching the opening closed.

For the waist, measure a piece of elastic around your waist plus 1″ overlap on each end. Again, snug, but not too snug. You’re not holding up the pants with this (that’s the high bust casing) but you are looking to add definition and sag at the waist = bad. Thread the elastic through, overlap the ends, sew the elastic then sew the casing shut.

You’re almost done!

Hemming tips: I measure a pair of well-fitting pants and do a press-and-pin to that inseam measurement to try them on with the shoes I think I’ll wear. I tend to wear flat shoes most often, especially in summer casual wear, so I hemmed mine with a deep 2.5″ hem straight stitch. Because these are wide legs, I do not need stretch at the hem. Skinny legs, though, you’ll want to use a stretch straight stitch or zigzag or twin needle hem for stretch over your ankle.

That’s it! Slip on the jumpsuit, add some fun jewelry, grab a bag and go!

I also frequently blog about fashion for breastfeeding mothers, and this one is a perfect match of style plus baby feeding friendly. If you feel more comfortable, drape a scarf across your chest (but not over baby’s head) as you nurse to cover your cleavage. I didn’t like to feed my babies under a cover, and they didn’t like to eat under one either.

 

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