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!)

Sew Paradise

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.

Sew Paradise

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.)

Sew Paradise

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.)