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Sew a French Girl-Inspired Wardrobe

Sew your own French Girl-inspired spring wardrobe using popular sewing patterns

The French seem to have a certain je ne sais quoi in their dressing. It’s at once both effortless and put together.

I’ve put together six sewing patterns that are easy to sew that embody the French Girl casual wardrobe: a duster/trench coat, a classic Mariniére or Breton tee, a raglan turtlenenck, a pair of wide leg denim or linen pants and a pair of slim cropped pants. I mixed them with a bright basic cardigan and two scarves, naturellement. I’ve had the cardi and scarves forever (also probably a very French thing – buy good, keep forever.)

Toaster Sweater (Sew House Seven) in black velour rib with the Pietra Pants (Closet Case Patterns) is my first one. The Pietra is available in a slim cropped leg, a wide leg AND a shorts pattern – so it’s really a trio of pants that I think a lot of French women would wear.

The Cambria Duster (Friday Pattern Company) in a midweight linen is a great trench-inspired lightweight coat for summer. I mixed in the Mr. & Mrs. HP Breton Tee (Hot Patterns), in a heavyweight sweater knit stripe (OOP but alternatives abound.) The wide leg midweight denim (designed for heavy linen) pants are the Ann Normandy Pants (Ann Normandy Patterns). These have a unique gusset on the outer lower leg, and flat felled seams throughout. The fuscia sweater is from my closet (Landsend, cotton, cable knit) from forever ago. I sewed the Toaster Sweater three times, the second shown here is in navy ponte.

The HotPatterns Weekender Breton tee is currently unavailable from their website, but you can find this from other retailers who have print copies of it to purchase. The tee features a classic bateau neck, dropped shoulder with 3/4 sleeves. There are other patterns similar – the classic Breton has a dropped shoulder, a graceful bateau neckline and usually 3/4 sleeves, so look for those options. Of course, you have to make it in stripes. Blue and white or red and white is the traditional French fisherman shirt color.

Pattern tips: when sewing stripes, use a basting stitch FIRST (a hand-basting stitch) to hold the stripes together before stitching. The duster and pants are sewn from woven fabrics – medium to heavy linens are perfect for these garments. The tops are perfect for knit fabrics with a little stretch – go with cozy comfortable fabrics in the early spring when it’s still cool out, and lighten up the fabrics as you sew more for summer.

I selected these for temperatures between about 45 – 65 degrees Farenheit – so perfect for most mid-latitude spring weather. If it’s cooler out, add a thicker pashmina style scarf and layer a turtleneck under the cardi, if it’s warmer, wear the Breton in a lighter weight knit on it’s own with the cropped Pietra pants (or shorts!) and strappy flat sandals.

You can wear these with classic navy sneakers, a flat sandal, a ballet flat or even short booties if it’s really chilly out. Just imagine what your Inner French Girl would wear as she strolls to her favorite boulangerie.

Et voila! A classic French Girl capsule wardrobe you can make yourself.

Fabrics / patterns mainly from Seams Fabric in East Lansing (and online) except for the striped knit (online, a long time ago, source I don’t remember!)

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Spring Break Road Trip Capsule Wardrobe

Sew a spring break road trip capsule wardrobe for the mid-Atlantic coast

  • Luna Pants – woven jogger pants by Made by Rae
  • Toaster Sweater – turtleneck by Sew House Seven
  • Unfolding Jacket – woven oversized jacket by Wiksten
  • Miracle Pants – cropped or full length flare stretch knit pants by HotPatterns
  • Shirt Tail Tee – cut-on cap sleeve tee by HotPatterns
  • Mr. & Mrs. HP Breton tee – classic French Breton/Marinéire 3/4 sleeve tee shirt in striped fabric
  • Slit Skirt – front slit skirt in doubleknit by Christine Jonson Patterns
  • Emerson Shorts by True/Bias
  • Fleece ruana with ruffled edges
  • La Mégeve sweater with pockets from Naughty Bobbin Patterns

I mixed these with some pieces from my closet: a cotton cable sweater, skinny jeans, rain jacket, fleece jacket.

I’ll note that this is the Spring Break that didn’t happen! But I did sew a spring break roadtrip capsule wardrobe. And then my teen got COVID from a schoolmate after being back in school just 3 weeks.

So I decided I’d wear my spring break outfits anyway, because our rescheduled trip for June will be decidedly more summery (and will need different clothing for sure.)

We are driving from a cold Michigan to a warm(er) southern coastal Virginia for this trip, and I sewed for long drives and variable weather conditions, beach walks, bike rides and kayak trips.

Our first day is driving from Michigan to the Appalachians, Charleston, WV. I selected a Toaster Sweater by Sew House Seven in navy ponte from my LFS Seams Fabric in East Lansing, and a pair of Miracle Pants by HotPatterns in denim-look stretch knit.

The Toaster Sweater is part of a trio of Toasters I sewed. I like the Toaster for it’s all-serger construction, funnelneck turtleneck and cropped high hip fit. This ponte is warm and almost scuba-like in it’s structure, so the funnelneck stands up well on it’s own. In softer fabrics, the neckline drapes a bit more.

These Miracle Pants are key for a road trip. These are 100% stretch denim-look knit fabric (close to a ponte weight but not double knit), fitted at the high hip and waist, shaped gently to a flare at the ankle. They are either cropped flares or full length, I opted for full length. The waistband is hidden elastic “hollywood” style. I made my usual size in Hot Patterns (12) but I tapered in a lot at the waist to almost an 8 (as I sometimes do) on both sideseams and the center back. I traced off my Levi jeans pockets and added patch pockets to the back, otherwise this style doesn’t have pockets. They are comfortable for sitting in the car for hours!

I topped this with a ruffled edge Polartec ruana (patterns abound across the internet, but I used the Christine Jonson Travel Trio Three ruana and curved the edges) in teal, a socially-acceptable car blankie! I can wear this open like a cardigan, belted, or with one tail tossed over a shoulder. The fleece “grips” itself so for shoulder-tossing, it stays in place pretty well, and looks very chic. If you’re belting this, use a stretch elastic belt for extreme comfort and style.

This outfit would have been day 1 and day 2 of up to 8 hours of driving, so being comfortable is key!

Day 2: Driving, broken up by a bike ride, a tour of outdoor Monticello and the University of Virginia for architecture.

The Toaster Sweater and Luna Pants (woven joggers) are my next cozy outfit, worn with a cream puffy down vest from LandsEnd (not shown). This is the perfect hours-long car drive outfit – not too warm, definitely comfortable. The Luna Joggers I sewed are here. I created a short sew along/how to videos of my experience altering and sewing these.

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Cambria Duster

Pattern review for the Cambria Duster by Friday Pattern Company by Ann Siegle of Sew Paradise

I picked up the Cambria Duster and some camel windowpane linen fabric to make a chic duster / trench style coat with a dramatic collar last spring. But I sewed it in the fall and it promptly got cold, so I haven’t had much chance to wear it.

I always make a muslin, in this case, from some friend-gifted fabric, a few scraps of navy cotton and a textured chambray colored poly/cotton. The first one was a fit success except for sleeve length, so I added length to the sleeves for my windowpane linen.

I’ve included helpful tips below.

Bias binding tips:
If you’re finishing this with bound edges, bind them as per the instructions (largely bound before sewing the seams) If you’re serging them, just have at it! It’s an easy sew. The pattern has instructions for what to bind in what order, so just follow those. Consider using your own bias or straight binding. But use purchased if that’s a big help. No judgement here!

The sleeves should be measured before you cut – they’re long so they roll up, but not super long for people with long arms like me (see the blue one, and then the camel one).

Be careful of bathrobe-like colors! Anything in a pastel color probably would not be good. Stick to classics like cream, camel, navy, charcoal gray or go with muted neutrals like sage, fog, slate, pear. Or go deep with teal, aubergine, harvest red. My LFS owner says this is a ‘socially acceptable bathrobe’ and I’m all there for that with some wide leg linen pants and a cozy sweater under it, but if you walk around your neighborhood and a college student says “I like your robe, er, coat” you know it’s probably bathrobe-like. I said thanks. Its a pandemic and she was wearing flannel pajama pants when she gave me the compliment as I walked my dog by her house. I figured robe was a compliment.

Sew lined pockets EVERY TIME
Seriously. Lined pockets, wonderful. I lined mine in Ankara print cotton. It’s vastly easier to sew around curves and turn right side out, than it is to press and hem around them. Plus, they’re fun!

Make three of them!
I am going to make a lightweight boiled wool version in cream, for a beautiful fall/early spring coat, inspired by Meghan Markle’s coat here. There were, at one count, 3,000 people waiting for that coat and 1 zillion knockoffs since then. Sew your own!

I always make three of anything, see my reasoning here.

Use this to finish off your capsule wardrobe:
I build capsule wardrobes one or two garments at a time. Pieces in this capsule include my camel cord Pietra skinny pants, and black and navy Toaster sweaters. I will also wear this with my cotton voile and silk noil Scout tees and my mint sueded tencel rayon Luna Jogger pants.

Having a third piece, particularly a coat/duster, is a great way to finish off an outfit, and you could wear this two or three seasons (depending on your climate and fabric choices.)

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Luna Pants Sew Along

Luna woven jogger pants sewing pattern by Made by Rae Sew Along by Ann Siegle

I’ll be sewing the Luna pants pattern by Made by Rae (no affilliation, yada, yada) this month. It’s the Pattern of the Month (March 2021) for my Local Fabric Shop (LFS) Seams Fabric in East Lansing. NAYY there too, except proprietor Jessy is a friend of mine.

This first video I will share the Sew Along, fabric choices, elastic choices, some basic pattern modifications, why I trace patterns on tissue paper (if they are print patterns), why I sew a pattern a minimum of 3 times, the other fabrics I have to build a “capsule” wardrobe to go with these and more!

Luna pants sew along with Ann Siegle of Sew Paradise

In this next video, I cut out the pattern and tell you why grainline is SO crucial so your pantlegs don’t end up twisting around on your ankle.

Stay tuned for additional videos on construction steps, and the final reveal videos!

Make a muslin!

Seriously. Just do it. Make it from old thrifted sheets, from actual muslin, from ugly fabric people have given you. I always take that box of random fabric friends have – it’s made many a muslin for me, for free, in the future! I cut out a size L in these, but between cutting it out in a slippery poly (not the best choice!), and re-reading the measurements, I need a little more room in the mid hip, so I ended up cutting an XL. I may have to taper to a L below the hip – there’s a lot of volume in these pants – but coupled with a slightly-too-snug-to-be-joggers fit on the L and the fact that I need a front rise adjustment, the muslin, or test garment, is the way to go before cutting into the special fabric.

I’m sharing my process for muslins and adjustments. I have a short front rise but I have booty, so I usually need to trim out the rise a little bit and sometimes add to the center back seam. I never adjust sideseams, so both of these are tapered to 0″ adjustments at the sideseams.

When I first tried this pant on, the waist was pretty high up in front. Even with a 5/8″ Seam Allowance (SA) for the facing for the elastic channel, this would be too high for me. So I pinched out an inch in the center front rise for this. I will also add a center back rise adjustment OUT (I have barely enough at the center back small of my back, although along my back hip there is plenty). This is a slash and spread adjustment to the tissue, tapering to 0″ at the sideseam.

I also looked at the hem, folding up the recommended hem allowance for the elastic and a larger, deeper one. I tied these with elastic pieces to test out. Depending on the way the actual pants fit, I will either go with the existing length, or a shorter one. Note, I am 5’3″ and these pants are the same length for all sizes – so if you are tall, add length to your tracing, you’ll need it.

Below the knee, you can see there’s some volume here, (I pinch out about 4″ – 2″ in my hand x 2 sides), and depending on the look we’re going for – I may narrow the pants to a smaller size below the upper thigh. You CAN see this volume is designed into the pant in the last pic (from Made by Rae.) So I am opting to not adjust this yet.

A tip, I keep a shoelace in my elastic bag of elastics to try on pants. I am, just for seeing how this comes together, sewing the facing/channel for elastic and testing it out. Why not? With a long basting stitch on my machine, I can test out my adjustments for using much wider elastic at the waist FIRST, before I cut my fashion fabric.

And as I’ve said before, I make things in threes so investing some time into pattern adjustments like this is no big deal. I intend to make two in solid colors and two in prints so this pattern will get some wear.

Final muslin adjustments, ready to cut the fashion fabric!

This video shows how to transfer the muslin adjustments to tissue.

During construction (following the illustrated Luna instructions), I used a lot of pins and clips. This fabric is heavy and a little slippery, but the result is worth it – feels like heavy sueded silk, super nice, not at all see through. Going up a size gave me the right slouch and drape, and also impunity for future washing and drying (I did prewash and dry in the dryer on medium before cutting.)

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One Yard FREE Kimono Poncho Top Sewing Pattern

This quick no-pattern one-yard poncho kimono top sewing pattern is designed by Ann Siegle. A version of this blog post, authored by Ann Siegle appears here on the Christine Jonson Patterns blog.

This graceful Kimono-style sleeve top uses a selvedge-to-selvedge piece of soft woven fabric like rayon, silk, silky poly, georgette, cotton voile or knit fabrics like rayon jersey, silk jersey or bamboo jersey.  It’s super easy to make and it’s easy for beginners. It goes really well with high waist pants and skirts. Slim fitting tops like cami, tees and turtlenecks can be worn under it for more warmth. A 45″ to 50″ width fabric is ideal for this top – wider than that, you may have to hem your sleeves when you’re done, to whatever length you like.

To sew this, you’ll need to take a few measurements first!

1)    Hip circumference – this is the widest part of your hip/bum

2)    Desired top length – the version shown in the example is high hip, at the hip bones, but you can go as low as mid-hip if you want more of a shirt length if you’re not wearing high-waisted pants or skirts.

3)    Desired neckline opening (from 12” to 14”  – the example is 12”. More of a bateau neck would be 13″ or 14″ for a women’s size.)

Once you have your measurements, you’ll want to add 2” to 4” to the hip measurement (hip plus ease) and divide by two (so if your hips measure 40” you’ll add 2” to 4” – 42-44” and divide by 2, or 21-22” to get the measurement for the hip opening at the bottom. If you’re unsure, go with the larger of the two ease measurements (4”) as you can always take away the width at the hem opening, but you cannot add it back!

Cut your fabric from selvedge to selvedge with 3/4” seam allowances both top and bottom. The selvedge is the finished edge that the fabric comes with from the manufacturer. It will not ravel. If your desired top length is 17” finished (example, high hip on Ann), you’ll cut 18.5” high x two panels x the entire width of the fabric, or just ever so slightly OVER one yard of fabric! So each panel is 18.5” high x the width of the fabric in our example here.

Mark the center front of your fabric panels. Divide your neck width x 2 and mark that on either side of the CF, so if you’re using 12” wide, mark 6” on either side of center front (CF).

Do the same for the hem opening, marking on either side of the CF, or 10.5” or 11” on either side of the CF mark for the hem, depending on your hip + ease measurement.

Placing fabric right sides together, using a ¾” Seam Allowance (SA), seam from the sleeve hem edges to your first mark on the top edge, creating the shoulder and over arm seam. Backstitch for security.

Skip over the neck opening and backstitch at your next neckline edge marking and stitch to the sleeve hem. Press this seam open. Fold the SA under on each side of the top seams and press. Topstitch. This creates a finished flat-felled looking seam on the shoulders AND finishes the neckline at the same time!

Repeat this for the bottom hem, using your hem opening markings.

Turn the top right side out and press the rectangle flat.

Mark 6” up from your hem where the hem openings begin and stitch, a vertical seam, backstitching at the top of the 6” marking for security. This creates your “sideseam”.

Slip the top on and enjoy!

If you’re wearing these with high waisted pants (my pics listed below), your  top will come down over the top of the pants, no need to wear anything under your top. But if you feel more comfortable, a cami can be worn under it.

Kimono Poncho Top Sewing Pattern FREE

Click on this image to enlarge it.

Favorite high-waist pants sewing patterns that go well with the free kimono poncho top

For knit fabrics:

Christine Jonson Perfect Pant (skinny, flare or wide leg versions)

Christine Jonson Cuff Pant

Tummy Tamer Trousers by HotPatterns

Miracle Pants by HotPatterns (for stretch wovens as well as knit)

For woven fabrics:

Pietra Pants by Closet Core

Emerson Trousers *high waist view by True/Bias

Rose Pants by Made by Rae

You can also wear these with jogger pants, jeans and skirts too! Just adjust the length of the top before you cut to be sure you have the right waist coverage you prefer.

That’s it!  A stylish, easy to sew, beginner-friendly rectangle kimono poncho top.

Variations: Make it into a rectangular poncho

If you omit the seams under the arms and at the side seams, you can wear this as a rectangular poncho over any other top. The arm / sleeve seam and the sideseam makes it a top instead of a poncho.

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Sewing Pattern Review – Toaster Sweater Sew House Seven

I make things in threes, and I’ve sewn three Toaster Sweaters by Sew House Seven and will probably make three (or a dozen) more! This comfortable, slightly cropped banded hem and sleeve sweater is a fun, EASY sew even for beginners.

I bought the fabric (a ribbed velour) from my Local Fabric Shop. My LFS owner is a self professed lover of woven fabrics (but not knits) and as she handed me the pattern and directed me to the black ribbed velour, she said “if you’re brave enough, try this fabric”. Bravery not needed – I knew looking at the pattern and the velour that this would be a super easy sew, and it was.

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Sew it three times

Sew each pattern three times for maximum enjoyment and use out of your sewing patterns.

I’ve begun a new sewing approach that I got from one of the Sew News editors: sew it three times!

Why sew it three times? You’ve invested the time and energy to sew a pattern, you should get the most out of it that you can. Of course, you can make it MORE than that, but making it at LEAST three times ensures that you get the most value out of each pattern. It also forces you to use your pattern stash (we’ll tackle that later!)

Why make sewing patterns three times?

  • You’ll get your best fit with your first to second test and then you’ll have the second two that really fit well
  • You’ll get a chance to sew it “right out of the envelope” as the designer intended, with the recommended fabrics, but also….
  • You’ll get the chance to experiment with a different fabric or views available in the pattern
  • You’ll have the chance to make design or fit alterations that could catapult this into TNT (tried n’ true) pattern status, where you know you can expect consistent, well-fitting results. You’ll shorten the time between “I need this in my wardrobe” and the time that it’s IN your wardrobe.

You’ll make 27 garments in your #MakeNine for the year!

I have (and you do too) a lot of sewing patterns we’ve never sewn. While great for supporting independent sewing pattern designers, these never-sewn garments are opportunities to express your creativity. Further if you don’t like the pattern or it didn’t work for you – wouldn’t it be better to pass it onto someone else?

I have a whole collection of patterns I’ve never sewed, and that’s too bad – for those patterns and for me. Focusing my efforts on fewer patterns that I know I can successfully make (and make them work for my body and my wardrobe) are key. Those that I know I won’t ever make again, these should go.

Some years ago, a friend with a huge pattern stash she inherited from her late mom offered boxes of patterns to me. But I’d already inherited a stash of vintage patterns from both my mom (and friends.) I’ve committed to selecting at least two vintage patterns from my own stash and then deciding whether to keep any of the others that I have in my stash for anything other than just framing and decorating my sewing space with them.  

Some are ‘vintage’ but they’re back in style. My collection of Vogue Elements from the early 1990s is not only timeless but some of the more trendy 1990s styles are very much back in fashion.  I’ve sewn other things like ponchos from the 1970s or even pajamas and nightshirts from the early 1980s.

OK, you’re convinced, you’re going to sew each pattern three times. That’s great for basics like tee shirts and joggers, but what about other patterns?

Unless it’s an evening gown, many patterns can be made more than once to serve more than one purpose. For instance, make a tee shirt dress into a couple of dresses and a nightgown! Or sew a pair of pants into hiking pants or loungewear just with a change of fabric and the addition or omission of pockets. A button up shirt pattern becomes a jacket, or a pajama top just by switching fabrics and sizes.

Most patterns have at least two or three views, sewing all gives you slightly different patterns to weave into your wardrobe. Or they can be sewn in three wildly different fabrics for distinct looks.  If you live in a climate that changes with the seasons, sew with fabric for each season.

What patterns are you going to make three times? Select at least one pattern right now that you’re going to commit to sewing three (or more) times this year.

My three Toaster Sweaters from Sew House Seven. The green on the left was the “muslin” the two on the right in navy and black were my second after I adjusted the pattern for me.

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Sewing pattern review – Hot Patterns 1213 Gatsby Cardigan and Gilet

First off, let’s acknowledge that in great British English, a vest is a Gilet, because it sound so much cooler than vest. A vest is what you wear over your athletic clothes, and it’s great, but a gilet, well, that’s a statement piece! And the HotPatterns Gatsby Cardigan and Gilet sewing pattern is fabulous (and fast!)

This pattern has been out for a while (2017 I think) and I’ve had it CUT for a while too, but I finally sewed it and I have some important tips that you’ll want to follow for a great result.

I first made a muslin in print double knit from the 1960s. You know pastel, paisley stretchy, stuff that would have been made into a leisure suit. It was in my stash for muslin making. I added 1.5” to the sleeve length in a size 10 in the cardigan (at the time this was a perfect size for a little slouch, we’ll get to that later.) If you follow the model drawing, the cardi has a bit of slouch to it. Hot Patterns tends to run on the RTW / larger than sewing pattern size so your usual size in RTW might be perfect. I always make a test garment – sometimes in a real but inexpensive fabric and sometimes in a stash fabric (like that 1960s poly) that I won’t use for anything else but is similar to the garment. I don’t actually use “muslin” but that’s what I’m making.

It has some jacket details though – a cocoon shape, with facings that are shaped (so the cocoon won’t pull inward as is typical with a rectangular band sewn on), a shaped, a two-piece sleeve with faced sleeve hem. They aren’t complicated at all, but add a nice level of jacket polish to an otherwise super comfortable almost bathrobe-comfortable piece.

The pattern comes with a narrow belt or a wide one. I chose the wider one and I applied this at my ribcage level. Maybe it’s all those years watching What Not to Wear, but I know for certain that the narrowest part of ME right now is just below my ribcage! So where I tie it is at my narrowest spot, which is above my waistline. I used thread chain loops on the back of the paneled seams. I might replace this with narrow black ribbon later.

As I said, I cut this in 2017, intending to wear it to Sewing in the Sun. HotPatterns hosted this four day sewing retreat in Sarasota, Florida in January for several years running. But of course, time got the best of me and I never finished it. It languished in my UFO bin until I pulled out this black and white (ALSO doubleknit!) print that I picked up at Haberman Fabrics in Clawson, MI. This stretchy, yet stable knit is perfect for this cardi. The fur is from my stash, probably 15 years old. I’ve made pillow covers and my kids have cut up their own “bedroom rugs” (eep!) from it, pilfering more and more of it for craft projects, LOL. I managed to snag enough for the collar. The lining for the collar is standard poly lining, also from stash.

Tip #1: stabilize the band stretch. I did not interface these but if I sew it again, I will use non-stretch interfacing on the bands to keep them from stretching while sewing. This is in the instructions. I chose to ignore it at my peril.

Tip #2: Stitch the collar down with a running stitch or a slip stitch. I attached elastics as in the instructions, but they are fussy, they don’t want to stay around the buttons. Personally, the fur collar is on during the fall and winter and off during spring. It doesn’t take that long to attach or remove (because I attached and removed it twice.) Also it lays FLAT on top of the jacket, it doesn’t curve to the inside – I did overlap it so the fur sticks out a little over the jacket edge though so you don’t see that while its worn.

The cocoon shape is a favorite detail – I used snaps but they’re optional, and that would make it much more cardi-like than jacket-like. Omit the snaps for a more coccoon cardi look.

They also have you line the pockets. This is brilliant and I will forever more make all patch pockets this way. Why? The pocket is sewn to the lining and the turning point is inside the pocket at the folded over pocket edge, plus it’s way easier to SEW around a corner than it is to PRESS under around one.

Cut your actual size. Between the 2017 cut and the 2020 sew, I put on some pandemic pounds (didn’t we all?) Mine showed up in the fall of 2020 and as such, the cardi, while it fit, wasn’t quite as slouchy. I will sew a size up on this next one and then when I lose the weight (I’ve already lost a few pounds), it’ll be delightfully slouchy.

Styling tips: Wear with wider leg pants!

These are gorgeous with wider leg pants. For an elastic-waist woven fabric wide leg, try the Hot Patterns Deauville pant, for a knit, definitely the Hot Patterns Palazzo pant (although you can make these with woven bottom and knit waistband too.) For a crisp woven pant, try the Mainsail pant, if you’re going back to fixed waist pants. Or go totally slouchy with the Marrakesch Xpress drawstring pant for woven fabric. Of course, you can wear it with boyfriend jeans, too, but the belted cardi over wide leg pants, mmmm, gorgeous.

Wear with a slim tee or turtleneck. I chose a turtleneck from my stash but there are a LOT of tee shirt patterns in the HotPatterns lineup. Nothing too voluminous though, this cardi needs something slim under it.

My next one will be in a sweater knit with fur collar, and I intend to make a gilet with the fur collar too. A gilet would be perfect for the not-quite-enough fabric piece for a cardi that often happens. I buy extra fabric, but it’s often not enough for the length one needs with sleeves. Also, a gilet without the collar for summer in a lightweight knit would be a great top layer – I have a similar sweater that I wear All. The. Time.  Looks fabulous with linen pants and a tank top.

Why make three of them? See my Make Three article here! I wax poetic about the magic of making something three times.

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Pick One Sew Two

A revolutionary way to sew a capsule wardrobe you love – EASILY

Planning a wardrobe is easy. I use the Pick One, Sew Two method that I wrote for Christine Jonson Patterns.

I pick ONE item in my closet and I go into my stash and sew TWO more. Sometimes I do not have stash for both, so I then head over to my LFS (Seams Fabric, y’all, all online too!) and pick something that works for both.

The beauty of the Pick One Sew Two method is that you build your wardrobe with things you already have in your closet. Yeah, I love Make Nine and capsule wardrobes too – I grew up on 5 Easy Pieces from Vogue Patterns, myself. But tackling five or nine pieces in a capsule wardrobe is daunting and most of us do not have time to sew that many things in enough time to make it actually work as a capsule wardrobe.

The other tip is to sew basics – sew the things you will wear every day! If you go into your closet and you see things you don’t wear because you don’t have anything to wear them with, that’s a clear sign you need to sew one or two pieces to make that item a wearable outfit.

It helps to organize your stash AND your closet in a similar way. For me that’s (closet) by color and by type or just by color (stash). I can then quite easily say “I really could use a navy blue cropped mock turtleneck to go with this striped skirt” and go into your stash and FIND navy knit in it that you haven’t sewn.

Recently I decided that I needed a cream, winter-weight midi skirt to wear with boots and gray turtleneck sweaters. Gray and cream are a luxe combo in the winter. I wanted washable and not see through. After I reorganized my stash by color I found a piece of fabric I didn’t know I had and I sewed a great washable stretch crepe A-line midi skirt to go with my cashmere sweater! The skirt took me about an hour and fifteen minutes from cut to finish and I wore it twice in the same week (to my home office, at my desk, and even over leggings and ice skates on my backyard ice rink.)

Pick One Sew Two is invigorating. Along with that cream skirt, I cut out a pair of Tailored Trackpants in a camel snakeskin print stretch knit fabric that had been just hanging out in my stash with almost no purpose! The gray sweater, the camel trackpants, the gray sweater, the cream skirt, my favorite gray booties and a camel coat in my closet all came together easily.

It’s been a while since I’ve sewing-blogged regularly under my own name. I’ve worked for about five years helping other sewing brands. It’s nice to be back! While I still work with sewing brands, most of my work now is in marketing coaching and marketing-tech training. I’d rather coach sewing pattern companies’ brands through developing content, as their authentic voices come through in what they write, photograph and record. A perennial challenge for any brand is maintaining that level of content (I do not have this problem!), but we work on that, too. Think of it as coaching AND motivation.

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Sew Paradise

Make Nine Sewing Projects 2020

Recapping a #MakeNine for 2020

Maybe more accurately, make 18 or 24! The sewing world and crafting world usually abounds with #MakeNine in the later part of December and early January as sewists, knitters and crocheters, crafters of all kinds make resolutions to make more in the new year. Despite the pandemic, or maybe IN spite of it, I managed to sew more than 18 of them this year!

HotPatterns Tailored Trackpants
Scout Tees by Grainline Studio (2)
Wiksten Haori Jacket
Cambria Dusters (2)
HotPatterns WSG Dragonfly Kimono
Toaster Sweaters (3)
Gypsum Skirt
Emerson shorts & pants (3)
Curved hem midi skirts (Christine Jonson) (2)
HotPatterns FourSquare Tee
Slit front midi sweater skirt (Christine Jonson)
And two kids PJ Pants (Taylor Made book)
I’m also going to count the almost complete Closet Core Pietra Pants which will be done by the time this is published.

Why did I sew so many? In pandemic? First off, I had the time. Pandemic life slowed our personal lives way down. Second, it also amplified the need to change my wardrobe. I’d sewn a lot of unstructured blazers and tops in the past, which were perfect with my preferred jeans-and-flats look almost all year round. But this year, with working from home and the acceleration of my business life to online product sales and online marketing tech coaching meant that I really wasn’t going to need to dress up for any client meetings – the clients I had that had in person meetings with either were sold/bought or retired in 2020. There simply isn’t a need for me to attend a client meeting in person – maybe ever – again. I’ve switched to Zoom and I prefer this.

The next thing is you’ll note I made multiples of things, this is my new goal – to make at least three of any one pattern (usually in succession but not always) as if I’m going to invest in a pattern, I should use it. This is my aim for 2021.

What am I sewing for work from home in 2021? More casual clothes, this time with a nod to being upscale casual. Check out this article here for a few patterns to consider for your 2021 wardrobe.

What I discovered is that I love making things I wear every day. I know some sewists who will buy (poorly fitting) basics like tee shirts, turtlenecks, pants and skirts and sew things they hardly ever wear such as fancy dresses or suits. I prefer to have well-fitting things I wear each day and purchase fancy items (if I ever need them.)