Sew Paradise

Sew a cozy midi slit skirt for fall

If you’re looking for both chic AND cozy for fall, sew a cozy midi slit skirt for fall! This skirt is a midi length, slim fitting, with a yoga style fabric waistband. It’s like a hug! I have it paired with a freecycled waffle weave top (see my recommendations for a substitute you can sew.)

I reviewed this skirt hack before. But showing it for fall with this sweater (freecycled, y’all!) is new.

This outfit, worn with my Sorel ankle booties is cozy and chic for fall. You can wear tights or leggings in the colder weather with this look. The skirt is super comfortable!

I hacked this skirt (which normally has a back slit) to a front slit, and it already comes with the yoga waistband and longer length. But I’ve also been obsessed with this Simplicity and McCalls skirt/set from JoAnn fabrics too. The top is McCalls M8144 and the skirt is Simplicity 9237.

If the slim skirt isn’t for you, try these two looser fit but still chic A-line skirts – the HotPatterns Fast & Fabulous Two Hour Skirt (reviewed that too, here.) and the Hot Patterns Fast & Fabulous 365 Drawstring skirts (I like the curved hem one but with a knit, you can raw-edge rotary-cut the waterfall hem one for a speedy finish.)

This cozy chic outfit is perfect for fall. I work from home, but this is often a travel outfit for me, because knit skirts are so comfortable to wear when you are sitting/driving or sitting/flying somewhere. The flat sporty booties are comfortable and decent for my feet. So, off you go! Sew a cozy midi slit skirt for fall! You will be happy you did. This skirt is on repeat for me. Want a slightly sexier version? Try the Ruched Pencil Skirt from Christine Jonson Patterns.

Ruched pencil skirt (I also have this in a print rayon/lycra knit) So soft and comfortable to wear!

Tops to go with this fall midi knit skirt:

I have on a freecycled waffle-weave knit top, but for a very similar top, you can try the Hot Patterns Foursquare Tee – long sleeve version. Use the straight side slit hem option (rather than the tie front version) for the same vibe as the sweater I have on in the top photos. You can add a ribbed neck band at the neckline or leave it off. I’m doing the “French tuck” in the front.

Any oversized slouchy sweater type top looks great with this slim skirt – try the Sew House Seven Toaster Sweaters, or try the Hosta Sweater Tee. Both of these are available in a slightly cropped length – the skirt is high-waisted.

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Swing Cardi Sewing Pattern

The Christine Jonson Swing Jacket swing cardi pattern is one of my go-to patterns. I’ve made it in full (maxi) length, and standard length. It has pockets!

Let’s dive into this one:

I’ve sewn this 4-5 times and find it’s a go-to in my wardrobe.

What I love about it:

The swing shape starts below the bust, so you still get a nice fitted shoulder and bust and the fun shape is below that. In a stable knit like ponte, or this sweater knit (from Boho Fabrics, in a mystery box, lots of poly/acrylic in this one), the pockets work well. In a softer knit like rayon lycra, the sideseam pockets droop on the sides – I haven’t figured out how to fix this, as it’s the weight of the pocket with the softer knit, not any stabilization, that is causing the problem. I omit them on soft knits.

This pattern is very forgiving – I’ve put this on size 10 models and on size 12 me and it works awesome. I’ve seen this in plus sizes and, same, looks wonderful on everyone.

About this look:

I have it on with a loden green O’Neill palm print graphic tee and Essex linen Pietra pants from Closet Core patterns. If you want an all-knit outfit, try the Perfect Pant Skinny from Christine Jonson – has all the fun pocket and front/back seam as this woven pant shown here, but sew it in a ponte knit, and you can crop the length too. I’m wearing my Teva sandals because, weirdly warm early October!

Design features:

I love the higher back neck and how the shawl collar construction works so nicely. There’s NO BAND on this cardi, and it has a professional look to it when sewn. The center back seam allows for some shaping at the back if you need to adjust. The pattern recommends shoulder pads, and a light pad made from a few layers of interfacing and some fashion fabric works great for this. I often use velcro to attach them so I have options on whether to leave them in or out. Pro tip, use the SOFT velcro on the jacket and the pokey velcro on the pad! I stitch the velcro on right through the shoulder seam and that is it.

I adjusted the sleeve width to be a little wider on this one when I cut it out, you can customize as you cut and sew it. The standard sleeve is narrower at the wrist so you can push the sleeves up and they’ll stay! The customer photo on the CJ pattern website (in gray, with cinnamon colored pants) shows this standard sleeve width, and she has them pushed up. My other versions have this sleeve – it is very flattering and pushing them up works! I roll my sleeves here with the wider width.

Note: For four years I managed marketing for Christine Jonson and still love her patterns. I was not provided with a pattern and this review is my own! You can see more of my versions at the Christine Jonson Patterns blog (including a maxi length striped version with Venetian lace trim!)

Design features you might consider:

I’m kind of obsessed with a curved shirt-tail style hems on cardigans right now and might try it on this one in a stable ponte knit. This alteration would involve a dinner plate, tracing the plate’s curve on the OUTER edge of the front and back pieces (at the center front, they’re still squared off). If you make curved hems, note, that to sew these, you should hem the curved edges before sewing the sideseams! It makes it a whole lot easier.

Make it in midi length – the midi cardigan is a cozy length and great for fall. I will sew one in a sweater knit (maybe leopard!) at this length and wear it with the trendy ripped “mom” (tapered, high waist) jeans that my teenager is wearing right now. I might even make my teen one too!

Sew Paradise

Finding Sewing Inspiration

Finding Sewing Inspiration without Social Media and how to get your sewjo back using your inbox

Like many of you, I’ve made a conscious decision to limit the amount of scroll time I’m doing. Not necessarily screen time (I work from a computer, after all, and hubby and I like to watch things on our big TV at the end of the day), but scroll time. Mindless scroll isn’t good for us. It can lead to doom scrolling.

To reduce my scroll time, and still keep up my sewing and alopecia/hair inspiration, I’ve begin limiting my time on Instagram to 50 minutes per day (I set an alert, and IG reminds me). That’s still 2.5 hours of my life in the end (whatever the “end” is – as I’m sure in 10 years we won’t be using IG anymore.)

I am limiting my personal Facebook time to one hour as well (again, set yourself some alerts in the app or your device for screen time usage.)

But I STILL want to find sewing inspiration, discover new designers and patterns in that process AND stay up with trends. What’s my backup? My inbox!

Yes, you heard right, my inbox. Good old fashioned email. When you sign up for that coupon for 10% off patterns or a free pattern or a fabric discount, did you know that those retailers BEND OVER backwards to give you rich, amazing and INSPIRING content? They do! And you’ve forgotten all about it!

In your inbox, search “sewing”. It’ll find everything in your promotions, primary tabs that is relevant – and the best part is, this is way better content than just a pic on insta! It’s usually an email consisting of a roundup of several blog posts, maybe a podcast or video tutorial and it’s rich with information, tips and, well, frankly, doesn’t get filtered by anyone’s algorithm but YOURS.

I harp on the (continued) success of email marketing through documented testing with client accounts, over here on my blog at Marketing Acuity, and I also love how I can search for anything and find all those brand emails that I signed up for that I never see on social media anymore (thanks, algorithm!)

And in that is a WEALTH of sewing inspiration! Just today, I discovered the Liesel & Co Verdun tee (thank you to the Confident Stitch in Missoula, MT for that.) They’re a local fabric store in Missoula, a college town in Montana. I also have a local fabric store, Seams Fabric in East Lansing (they don’t blog or email but they do have a group and an IG that I follow.)

I searched my inbox, found the email from Confident Stitch, that I’d signed up for some years ago, and lo, there’s a great tee shirt pattern that my local fabric store doesn’t carry, so I’ll get it from Confident Stich. I recently bought the Gyo Top from Merchant and Mills from them as well, unable to find this locally.

I also find a ton of wonderful content from aaaalllll those knitting and crochet bloggers I signed up to receive emails from (who knew! I never see them on IG anymore thanks to the algorithm). In fact, my inbox gets filtered by MY taste – looking for outdoors inspo? Hey there Sierra, Moosejaw, Eddie Bauer, Patagonia and Carve, nice to see ya! How about beachy inspiration? Beachly, O’Neill, Roxy, Hapari and Carve send me stuff all the time!

I receive inspiration, tips, how to, helpful details all from these emails which I willingly signed up for to get a discount – and I am not bombarded by things I don’t want to see and I’m not scrolling endlessly. It’s much easier to get in and out of a blog than it is to stop the mindless scroll.

The Confident Stitch in Missoula Montana blog post about the Verdun tee. Isn’t this inspirational? Stop the scroll, start using your inbox and be inspired.

Oh, if you want tips, techniques, wardrobe planning for the SIMPLE and EASY sewing way, you can subscribe to MY blog here: (see what I did there!) BONUS:

I’ll send you a FREE EASY sewing wardrobe planner. I promise you can craft a me-made wardrobe easily with this method (and it will still work with the stuff you already sewed that’s in your closet!)

Sew Paradise

2021 Sewing Pattern Roundup #makenine Challenge

What’s on your must-sew list?

Winter/Fall #makenine challenge

I set out to do a “simple more” resolution year – more dog walks, more vegetables, more knitting, more fun with family. And of course, more sewing. So my #MakeNine is really more like #MakeTwentySeven, but you have to plan things that are approachable, so #MakeNine it is

#MakeNine is the idea that you plan out a grid of 9 items to sew in the upcoming year. I sew way more than 9 (last year I sewed more than 27 garments). I will sew a lot of the patterns I already have. Why sew existing designers? You understand your sizing and can more closely predict how something will fit based on their descriptions. For instance, you might sew a pant from a designer in a 12 or 14, but a top in an 8, and you know this since you’ve made more than one of them. My goal is to sew THREE of any given pattern. Bonus if you can make even more than that. But, too, my Local Fabric Shop has great fabrics and patterns and I wish to try those, too.


Pietra pants: I sewed a test pair in 2020, will shorten the front rise by 1″ and sew a smaller size (or two) and make at least two pair of the slim, one pair of the wide and at least one pair of shorts.

I will sew another pair of HotPatterns Tailored Trackpants for winter – in a camel snakeskin print poly. The camel snakeskin poly will have the cropped trouser cuff that the pattern is designed for. I’d made a pair with jogger banded cuffs in 2020.


I will sew a HotPatterns Foursquare Tee (tie front version, long sleeve) for winter/spring.

I will sew a HotPatterns Milano Dolman tee with cuffed / banded edges in waffle weave knit (replacing a different shirt I sewed in the same fabric, but shrunk and gave to my teenager!)


I’ll sew a long sleeve, turtleneck True/Bias Nikko dress for the winter, with colorblocked sleeves to accommodate the lack of fabric.


Sewed a HotPatterns 2-hour A-line midi skirt the first week in January in a random cream stretch crepe from my stash.


HotPatterns Glamour Cape

Linen Cambria Duster (sewn in 2020 but not yet worn because it got too cold)

Linen Cambria Duster pattern review


With planning to be home with my kids half time this summer (again!), as well as working in my basement cutting vinyl, I anticipate a very casual summer of clothing. Most of my me-makes will be in anticipation of that.

Emerson Shorts from True/Bias

Pietra Shorts from Closet Core and Simone shorts from Jalie – I’m making the latter for my DD in her size as well.

Wide Leg linen pants from Christine Jonson with cargo pockets – think beach pant meets camping pant, which is precisely what I intend to do with them – camping at the beach! Although these are wide leg, they have a taper to the ankle – I generally alter this and chalk a new sideseam from the knee straight to the hem.

Cami/tanks – True/Bias Ogden Cami, Sew News Remmel Tank, Antero Shell, HotPatterns FourSquare Tee, Swingy Tank are all options I’ll consider – I’ll sew TWO tank top patterns this summer.

Dresses: HotPatterns Trilogy shift dress – a great, easy tee shirt dress for summer, in a blue tie dye knit.

Short sleeve dress – Ann Normandy Sewing Patterns – a great simple dress with designer details from a favorite designer that is perfect for some linen I purchased from my Local Fabric Shop.

Outerwear: Cambria Duster (sewn in 2019,) in two colors, chambray blue with navy collar and camel windowpane linen

HP Glamour Poncho (see Winter/Fall)

For the kiddos/#MakeNine

Taylor Made Pajama pants and shorts, and an OOP/vintage pajama top from Simplicity, plus a robe from an OOP/vintage Simplicity pattern (that I made for myself, and still wear!)

My DD is getting more pajama shorts and top and a new bathrobe.

Jalie Simone shorts for my DD.

DS is getting a tie for his robe (a hoodie robe, handed down from a friend, missing the tie), and pajama shorts for spring/summer. He prefers to wear whatever tee shirt he wore the day before, to bed.

Sew Paradise

Easy Summer Midi Dress, Tunic and Top: The Trilogy

I chose a fun, easy summer midi dress tunic and top pattern, the Fast & Fabulous Trilogy, from HotPatterns, as a late-summer dress to sew. Here’s my review.

From the HotPatterns website!

The Trilogy from HotPatterns is a fun top, dress and tunic pattern with some easy to sew and good finishing details. I made the dress version.

Note: If you are not tall (I am 5’3), look at the finished back length on the back of the pattern envelope and lengthen or shorten accordingly. I should have – was making a test garment – ended up with a fun maxi dress! Not a bad problem to have though.

This dress can be made in a knit or a woven – I chose a knit from stash in a blue tie dye. This rayon/lycra knit is drapey and soft. If making in a woven check your final finished measurements against your body measurements to ensure you have enough ease. If you DO make this in a woven, be sure to choose something drapey and light. In this knit, I could have gone down a size (I sewed a 12.)

This would also make a very excellent nightgown as well, given it’s straight, easy shape. If you are considering making it for a nightgown, use a daytime fabric, and then get up and go! I won’t judge!

The shoulders have a deep pleat – you can change this to gathers – along a yoke, and some who have chosen a not-as-drapey fabric, say that this doesn’t lay well. If your fabric doesn’t drape well, wash it a bunch more times or choose a different fabric – drapey is best for this dress.

It is a straight cut dress, so as such, it’s going to hide a lot of that messy middle. It has only very gentle shaping at the waist, but you can feel free to shape it a bit more – it has a center front and back seam as well. You can use the side and center seams to add shaping, or you can add in long darts to the back (just pinch, measure and stitch after the dress is sewn.)

One of the clever things is the neck and sleeve bands! They are sewn reversed (attached to the wrong side) and the folded edge is then flipped to the right side, pressed and topstitched. PLUS, the V-neck is sewn AFTER the neckbands (no fussing over V-neckbands!) This results in a professional looking finish. I stretched this a little as I sewed, and had to press the life out of it to get it to lay flat (it did!) Next time, I will stabilize the neckline AND the neckband – or make it in a woven and dispense with all that fuss (it’s designed for woven or knit.) The sleeve bands are sewn the same way – when the dress is still in four panels (left back, right back, right front, left front.) The pattern instructions detail these neckbands so you won’t have to Google a YouTube tutorial on it (but I might show you one the next time I sew this.)

The hems are a curved, shorter front hem and a longer, straight cut back hem – I LOVE this detail, and think it makes the dress! In a midi length as designed, this will really show off the hems.

What I liked about it:

The straight, easy fit, the super easy to sew neckline and sleeve bindings, and the curved and boxed hems.

What I’d change:

It should be a midi dress, I’ll shorten it on my traced copy for next time. I already made a note on my pattern about this.

What I’ll make it in next:

I’ll choose a lightweight cotton lawn or a rayon print.

What you can wear this with:

Great shoes! Sneakers for a casual vibe, Birks, Tevas for a trendy look. Wear a shorter jacket like a denim jacket or a moto jacket over it for cooler weather.

What fabrics to choose:

Soft fabrics with drape – rayon, light chambray, voile and lawn (woven) as well as rayon/lycra knit fabrics. Consider a diagonal stripe (printed) and connect the V of the stripes in the front and back (there are FOUR spots to match stripes, just so you are aware! It would be a good lesson in how to stripe-match! But don’t plan to cut it on the bias, as you’ll not be able to given the dress length. I think you could absolutely do this with the top version (and maybe the tunic, as well.) It would lend itself very well to color blocking too!

Sew Paradise

Upcycling a good dress

A 28-year old dress gets new life as a duster vest, with a new color, new batik design

This dress began life likely in a factory in China in about 1990. It’s a heavyweight linen, cotton and rayon blend. It’s beige. It’s a column dress, mid calf, a length popular in the 1990s and, now, again in the 2020s.

I first spotted this dress at the Cocoa Beach location of Ron Jon Surf Shop. My husband and I were visiting, probably to try to catch an elusive space shuttle launch, staying in some slightly sleazy Motel 6.

The dress, typical of the 1990s clean, minimalist, slightly oversized aesthetic, was neutral. I wore it for work at least once per week. I took it on a long weekend trip to the Pink Shell Beach Resort in Ft. Myers where my MIL suggested it was too big in the top – not exactly but, definitely too long from shoulder to bust. I sewed the shoulder up a little and it’s stayed there for 25 years.

I wore this dress to the Cayman Islands, a trip paid for by my clients, and as I stepped off the plane, in the tropical heat (I mean, I lived in South Florida, but Cayman was even hotter!) in September, I was glad I had this airy and professional looking dress.

I’m now 25 lbs heavier than that slip of a 20 year old in South Florida, but I still loved this dress!

Last summer, I decided to upgrade it and wear it again as a duster vest. I batiked the hem using copper cookie cutters and dyed it a brilliant coral – one of my favorite colors.

I now also need to lower that shoulder seam (if I have enough fabric left inside to do so) as my bust point is, sadly, a little lower!

How to batik a linen dress:

I use an electric skillet as a double boiler, with the wax in a foil tray. I add water to the skillet and keep the temp just below boiling about 180-200 degrees. The wax melts. I use wood clothespins to pick up the metal cookie cutters and dip them in the wax, then press them onto the fabric of the dress. Scroll down to see the image gallery of the steps I use to batik the linen dress.

To dye, I first submerge the dress in cold water – the wax will crack, leaving that classic batik look – and then I dip it in the dye bath. I use Procion pro dyes from Dharma trading – they have a batik kit you can order to get started.

Then I put the wet, dyed dress in a gallon zip loc bag for 12-24 hours and leave it. Once done, I rinse the dye out, pick off the wax, and as a final, I either heat the wax out using hot water in a bucket or I iron it on low heat, no steam, using old rags pressed around each side of the batiked garment. You can use plain newsprint (not with newspaper ink on it!) if you have that. You can even use brown paper bags or paper towel.

The dress is a lovely coral color, looks great with jean shorts and tee shirts, or a shorter skirt and tee. It also looks great with wide leg beachy pants, loose lightweight joggers and cropped tees too.

Sew Paradise

Summer top sewing pattern roundup

Favorite FREE summer top sewing patterns for woven fabrics

This roundup showcases the Sew News / Sew Daily Antero Shell, the FREE Solee Top by Natalie Ebaugh and the FREE Greenbush Top by Ann Siegle.

Summer top sewing is always a joy – these three patterns are super simple to sew (two are measured rectangles!) and take very little time. I made all four of these in ONE day of sewing, and not even a whole day, a decent morning or afternoon sewing sesh and you’ll have a wardrobe of new tops.

All the fabrics shown here are from my LFS, Seams Fabric in East Lansing.

The Antero Shell is part of a Capsule Studio pattern from Sew News. In this same pattern, there’s a woven fabric tank top, a knit fabric wrap skirt with asymmetrical hem, a pair of loose fitting elastic waist pants, a collarless unlined blazer/jacket with clever in seam zippered pockets, and a tote bag.

The Solee Top is a free top with Instagram instructions from blogger Natalie Ebaugh.

The Greenbush Top, also FREE, is designed by me, here.

I chose cotton, linen or rayon fabrics for all three. All three would work in each of these fabrics. Rayon, obviously, is very drapey, cotton has more body (less drape.) Linen is somewhere in between (once you’ve washed it several times.)

The Antero Shell is a v-neck, cut-on-cap sleeve cropped (but not too short) boxy tee that has a fully faced neckline and hemmed sleeves. This top is boxy and slightly cropped – perfect over high waist pants – I have worn these with the Luna Jogger pant by Made by Rae, the Pietra Pant by Closet Core and the Perfect Pant by Christine Jonson. Of course they look great over the Shivano pant in the pattern from Sew News too!

The Solee Top is a free measure-and-cut sewing pattern that is just like the one your mom sewed for you in 1980. I remember a similar top that I wore that I’m sure my mom (or grandma) sewed for me one summer. This top screams summer, and I’m wearing it with wide leg batiked rayon pants. If you need to dress this up for a zoom work call, just toss on a cardi, a button up shirt, or a jacket over the top.

This is an easy sew – you use the width of a yard of fabric for both the top and the straps. Two lengths of elastic – one for above bust and one for the waist, and you’re done. This yarn dyed print linen fabric is fun – and I have a coral solid linen to make joggers out of to coordinate (later.)

The Greenbush Top, designed by me, is also a measure-cut-sew top that you can make from a yard of fabric. The neck and hem openings are easy to sew with good finishing techniques, and the sleeves can be any length you like. A drapey fabric is best for this loose top, and rayon, lightweight cotton lawn, double gauze, silk or even jersey fabrics work great. You can wear this solo in the summer and over a slim fitting turtleneck or tee in the winter, too. I bought the floral rayon in January in a fit of desperation to see flowers. I just let it sit on my sewing table so I could pet it for a while!

Sew Paradise

Sew Multiple Pants at Once

Build your me made capsule wardrobe FAST by sewing multiple pants at once.

I’m sewing the Pietra Pants by Closet Core Patterns

It’s no secret, we love efficiency. And today, when you’re waiting days to buy something on line, you might be better off (for you AND the planet) to sew multiples of garments.

I’m embarking on a plan to sew 5 shorts/pants from one pattern. I’m calling this my #fivepantschallenge. My LFS is doing a MeMade May with the Pietra Pants from Closet Core Patterns and I’ve made these before (twice so far, with alterations). They asked me to sew a pair of shorts as a sample for the store so other customers can see what they look like sewn up. So, I purchased not only my own fabric for a pair of cropped slim leg, but also for the wide, full-length leg, and for shorts for the sample. Plus, I’m diving into stash to sew my own pair of shorts too.

  1. You can save a ton of time by batch sewing. I am going to choose a neutral thread for all of the pants (except topstitching, where I will swap thread and match) so I can sew all the pockets, all the front panels, all the side seams, etc. at a time. It’s not that much more time to do one seam than it is to do four of the exact same one, and you can then group pressing and other tasks together for efficiency
  2. You can add multiple garments to your wardrobe, that look different. The Pietra comes in four varieties: slim leg cropped, wide leg cropped, wide leg full length and shorts. Each of these in a variety of fabric colors would look very different in your wardrobe.
  3. You can sew faster than you can order online and wait. Especially with today’s pandemic no-dressing-room shopping.
  4. Your fabric choices are higher quality. Almost all garment fabric sold at your local fabric shop is higher quality than inexpensive RTW garments (unless you buy from discount fabric locations, like warehouses.)

My fabric choices are from stash and from my Local Fabric Shop, Seams Fabric in East Lansing, MI

Pietra Pants - Pietra shorts, Pietra skinny pants, Pietra wide pants, Pietra cropped pants

Pietra pants (slim, cropped) in a blue crossweave linen that is almost chambray-like in it’s look.

Pietra shorts in the blue crossweave linen (shop sample, size 10, no alterations to fit)

Pietra pants – wide leg, full length in green crossweave linen/rayon in a soft spring green (to coordinate with a big statement scarf I own)

Pietra shorts in coral print seersucker – from my stash!

Pietra shorts in hand-dyed Kona cotton

Progress Updates:

As I work on these shorts and pants, I’ll share some tips.

I first applied interfacing to all the front waistband panels and the top of the pockets in one batch session. If you’re going to burn your fingers pressing interfacing, best do it all at once, right? I then worked on the fronts of each of these pants or shorts in succession.

I applied the pocket to the side front of each short or pant leg. I then applied the center front panels to each short or pant leg, I serged the center front seams after straight stitching them together, and then I sewed the front crotch seams and clean finished those with the serger. This is the most complicated step of the whole pants, because once you have the front panel and pocket panel done, you’re just sewing the backs to the fronts and finishing waist and hem!

While doing this step (took about 2 hours for 4 pairs of pants or shorts), I listened to a read of a journal of a woman (Emily Holder) who lived with her physician/naturalist husband at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, 90 miles west of Key West Florida right as the Civil War was starting. It’s a fascinating listen.

During the process, I realized one of the stash fabrics I’d selected was going to be too thin to wear as shorts, so I stopped construction, went to my stash, found a light yellow twill remnant and will continue on again with this new fabric, catching up to the same spot as the others before continuing on. Light lemon will work well with some upcoming additions to my summer wardrobe too.

I finished the pant front and backs and started assembling. In my tracing and alterations, I noted that I ended up with a 1/2″ longer sideseam on the back than front (I altered the front but tapered to 0″ at the sideseam so I need to check my tracing on this, it should not have happened this way.) So I made an adjustment at the sideseam waist on all three of these, and marked the same on my tracing for the next pair.

I always pin things up to see how they line up so these pants are pinned sideseam and inseam, ready for sewing the sideseam, and then the inseam.

I vary the construction from sewing the inseam AFTER the waistband (just personal preference, and I’ve now made this pattern seven times.) You can choose to just sew the waistband and then the inner leg seams before hemming.

For the final top stitching, you’ll have:

The back waistband

The front panel tack stitching to keep the facing down

The hems

Each of these will be sewn sequentially when you’re making multiple pairs of pants at once, so you’ll swap thread three times (unless your topstitching thread works for all of yours.)

In short, this was a worthwhile project in which I got a lot of well-fitting pants to wear. I got out of my previous rut of jeans-tee-blazer-sweater that I wore for years, and I have a TNT pattern that I’ll make for all season wear. In the winter, these will be made in baby wale corduroy, and twill.

Sew Paradise

Sewing a casual work from home wardrobe

What do you sew for a casual work from home wardrobe when you want to be stylish and put together? Choose to sew basic garments in nice fabrics, build on what you already have, create cohesive trios of patterns and pattern mix like a pro!

Sew (nice) basic garments:

You don’t need an evening gown. You probably only needed one once per year (or a few times) prior to the pandemic, but you don’t need one now. You need basics that you did not buy from an inexpensive store that won’t last the season.

Tops: choose knit or woven tops that have good fit and style – a basic tee that is well-fitting in a nice knit print or solid will work for you every day. A woven tee in lightweight fabrics is layerable both summer and winter.

Five Top Sewing Patterns for a Post Pandemic Wardrobe:

A basic woven tee:
Scout Tee by Grainline Studio
Plain and Simple Slouchy Tee Blouse by HotPatterns

A basic knit tee:
Shirt Tail Tee by HotPatterns (offers both a color block and a plain version)

The Three Tees by Christine Jonson Patterns – a cut on cap sleeve/dolman long sleeve tee with turtleneck, tunic and dress options. The line drawing makes this look really voluminous but there is plenty of shaping on this tee and you can go down a size if you want a slim fit or up a size for a cropped, roomy tee.

Pants: pandemic is all about elastic waist pants, but you don’t have to slink around in gray sweatpants either. Choose drapey woven fabrics and a jogger pattern or elastic waist pant pattern designed for them and create nice-looking but still pajama-comfy clothes

Five Pants Sewing Patterns for a Post Pandemic Wardrobe:
Luna Pants by Made by Rae
Pietra Pants by Closet Core
Emerson Pants by True/Bias
Tailored Trackpants by HotPatterns

Five Skirt Sewing Patterns for a Post Pandemic Wardrobe:

Taper and Pencil Skirts; Christine Jonson Patterns. No buttons, no elastic, just comfy stretch fabric on these shapely and flattering skirts.

Gypsum Skirt – a full elastic waist skirt with unique side pockets

Shirt tail curved hem midi skirt in knit or woven fabric: pattern hack of a skirt that I already have, instructions here.

Add a third layer:

Adding a third layer is a key way to make your casual clothes look like they were an intentional outfit, not grabbed from your floor in the morning. For warm climates, this might be only jewelry, for cooler ones, try a cardigan, soft knit blazer or vest.

Five Third Layer Cardigan, Knit Jacket or Vest Patterns:
Gatsby Cardi and Gilet by HotPatterns. You just have to get this for the fact the vest is called a gilet in British English!
Moto Jacket by Christine Jonson Patterns – knit moto jacket feels like a cardi, looks a little badass, can’t go wrong!

Sew Paradise

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.

My inspiration (from Pinterest)

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!)