Sew Paradise

Beach Inspired Sewing Studio and Home Office Makeover

Exploring my beach inspired sewing studio and home office makeover in this blog post. I’ll share before pics, after pics and the messy space between. For the home office makeover from a business perspective, see my blog post at Marketing Acuity, my web design & marketing tech training business here.

When I set out to redo our playroom which became a schoolroom during the pandemic, I’d spent a full 18 months working from my laundry room (!) My husband moved his office home, took over my upstairs shared office and I moved my stuff downstairs, shuttling between working at my sewing table to supervise the kids and my laundry room turned office.

I really needed my own space. I’ve not had my own home office and studio for a decade – having had shared space with others during that time. This makeover is (almost) all for me.

My sewing cabinet, built by my husband, is a gorgeous thing. He built it in a 12 x 12 outdoor unheated shed (he insulated it and had a space heater, but still…) at our old house. I’ve had it in our playroom since we moved here, and it’s worked well. In it’s new space, it sits, closed, as a credenza under our TV in my new home office. When I want to sew, I just rotate it into the corner, unfold the leaves and get to creating!

In this blog post, I share how it transforms from home office to creative sewing studio,  how I take photos on my dress form and utilize the space for creativity. Between work and creative (with breaks for, you know, regular life activities) I spend 6-12 hours a day in here. I’m so glad I carved out a beautiful space to work in for me.

Sewing studio makeover process

Moved OUT:

A queen sized futon – now resides in my hubby’s upstairs home office (better for guests as a guest room)

A child desk – my son got his desk back after six months!

Moved IN:

  • A 3-drawer cabinet and printer for our printer / order processing workstation
  • My solid white oak live edge desk (mounted on pin legs)
  • More plants!
  • More beachy decor


  • Sewing cabinet
  • Bookcase cabinet (with wood cube storage, still filled with legos and toys!)
  • Rug
  • Yoga mat
  • Wicker baskets for WIP and mending projects
  • Dress form
  • Paint (Sherwin Williams) – we had it professionally painted 3 years ago

Beach décor added to the sewing studio

A wood organizer from elsewhere in the house got mounted on the wall to organize mailing supplies for our Boat Registration Stickers and Michigan MC Numbers websites. The kids do most of this, and they can reach the items (with a stepstool if needed, a small wood stool is on the floor next to the cabinet.)

Wood shelves – solid oak, live edge, with hammered steel-look brackets (painted metal brackets)

Lots of beach/ocean inspired décor courtesy of my designer Stephanie Murray from Stephanie Murray Makeovers. Much of the décor is from around my house!

Here’s what was used from my house:

Wicker baskets for projects and mending, plant holders, wood bowls for my sewing rocks that I use as pattern weights, pottery marking pencil holder (I NEVER keep sewing scissors in here after sewing, the family would use them for things like paper if I did; those are hidden away and “too much work” for a casual grab!)

Stephanie placed photos I already had (some from my basement even!) around the room, grouping them by color, to create individual sections of the room.  She used my own collection of shells with newly acquired glass vessels to display them.

Because this is a sewing space as well as my business space, I wanted to have ways to keep WIP and mending projects without them appearing messy – Stephanie repurposed two blanket baskets into WIP / mending baskets. These are enough to hold several projects and all the mending my family can give me. I talk often about how I use mending as a gateway to sewing larger projects and they don’t stay here long. Longer term, I have several WIPs waiting to be queued.

I do not keep fabric or patterns up here – the room is very sunny and would damage fabric, but I do have a large cube bookcase in my basement with fabric organized by color (NOT by type), rolled on cube shelves. Patterns are in a large bookcase, in large D ring binders in plastic sleeves. I do keep my stash of larger HotPatterns in a lateral file cabinet.  I’ve shared that organization in other posts here and here.

I feel so serene in this space! It’s gorgeous, and works so well for me.

Making the home office a sewing studio in 3 minutes:

When I want to sew, I rotate the cabinet credenza in the corner, and open both leaves. One opens along the window, the other along the wall. I can move my office chair here to sew, my dress form is at the ready, and I have a small pressing mat for the leaf. I have a larger ironing board in the front call closet adjacent to my sewing studio/home office.

Because these spaces work so well, I can leave the sewing workstation open for a few days at a time, to catch up on projects between meetings or at lunch.

Plant life: I love plants and like a lot of people (haha!); I added more during the pandemic through plant trade groups online. I have an arrowhead plant, two golden pothos (propagated one to another) a small yucca (I have two more much larger ones elsewhere, and a few smaller ones around the house, all cuttings off one another.) I also have a variegated curly spider plant on my shelves and solid spider plants on the floor by the dress form. I sewed a linen plant pot cover for one of the golden pothos for my bookshelf. My designer, knowing I had a lot of random plastic pots, came armed with rope and a hot glue gun, but I beat her to it with the linen cover.

She even cut up another scrap of linen to use as a runner along the top of the bookcase with the shells! A great way to use up scraps of fabric. The linen is heavy, from these Hot Patterns Palazzo pants that I made 6 years ago. I have since replaced the darker brown cotton-lycra waistband with one from cream 4-way Ponte stretch fabric.

This beach inspired home office sewing studio is so ME – beachy, serene and inspiring. Summer beach, winter beach, southern beach, northern beach – I don’t care, I just love the beach.

Sew Paradise

Sew a double-sided fleece cape ruana

Originally published March 2020, updated January 2022.

How to sew a reversible fleece cape / ruana

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

My ruana pattern is one from #burdastyle which has buttonholes and a tie waist belt. But there are zillions of ruana patterns including free ones online that you can google. I have included dimensions and instructions here for how to draft your own!

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

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

Easy double sided fleece ruana with tutorial links

Making the fleece cape pattern

Across the back 46″ cut (42″ sewn) wide x 72″ long cut (70″ sewn), the opening is 38″ from the bottom and has a curve cut at the neck. The belt (optional) is 75″ cut (74″ sewn) x 4″ cut (3″ sewn) wide.

  1. You’ll need 2 and 1/8 yards of two fleece (or four of one color). I used basic fleece from JoAnn Fabrics (their anti-pill Blizzard fleece). I have one in gray solid and camel/coffee houndstooth.
  2. The measurements of the cape
  3. Lay the fleece down, folded lengthwise, right sides together. Cut the outer dimensions of the cape as 46″ x 72″. You’ll have fabric along the selvedge to use later for your belt. Put this aside.
  4. Measure up along the fold line from the bottom 37 inches. Make a mark. This is the full length of your front opening
  5. Cut along this line, along the fold. In my cape this makes the front sections slightly narrower.
  6. Grab a French Curve ruler (if you have one) and trace/cut a graceful circle-to-curve along the neckline edge as shown in my example. I recommend marking this curve first with a removeable fabric marker until you get a nice curve.
  7. Lay your second fleece under the first and cut the same neckline and outer shape.
  8. Lay your fleeces right sides together, flat (not folded) and sew around the entire ruana, leaving one short front side open for turning. I use a 5/8″ seam allowance.
  9. Turn the ruana right side out
  10. Fold under the raw edges of the open front (so they are the same length). Pin. Begin top stitching along your open edge, continue all the way around the ruana. You are DONE!

Buttonholes and belts (optional)

  1. Buttonholes for the cape are optional, you can wrap a belt (any belt) around the cape and secure it, you can create a fabric belt (mine is 74″ long and 3″ wide once sewn)
  2. Form the buttonholes on the front by putting on the cape and measuring down from the neckline to your desired waistline.
  3. Mark in 5″ inches from each front open edge, and 6.5″ from the center fold line in the back. This is where you’ll place your buttonholes. You can see if this will work for you by pinning through the entire cape at these marks and slipping it over your head. This will be how your ruana cape fits when it’s belted if you use belt loops. You can move the buttonholes in or out as needed.
  4. Measure the opening of your belt loops. Using chalk or a removeable marking marker, mark the opening.
  5. You can construct these several ways: by sewing a box around the opening and then cutting the opening neatly inside (the fleece raw edge will not ravel and the box will secure the layers.) This creates a buttonhole look and is the easiest to master. Use a 1/4″ box away from the opening on all sides, and cut the opening carefully with scissors. I like to first snip a small hole in the center to insert my scissors and then cut neatly in each direction to the desired length.
  6. You can cut out the entire opening (after stitching the box) to 1/8″ and create ‘buttonhole welts” that wrap around the opening (this is what I did). Each of these welts is 1″ wide x the length of your buttonhole opening, wrapped around the raw edges, hand stitched.
  7. You can finish the buttonhole edges with decorative stitching (once you’ve sewn your box). Embroidery thread works great here.

How to style your reversible fleece ruana cape:

This is VERY warm with two layers of fleece. I can wear this over a warm sweater turtleneck outside in 35-45 degree weather (with gloves and a hat) and it’s fine (I am from Michigan.) If you need an extra layer, a wool sweater over a tee or turtleneck should be quite sufficient for warmth. Wear it over jeans, leggings, or wide leg pants.

Color combos for your reversible fleece cape / ruana

Dark solid color (black) with plaid reverse side – try this in black/red+black buffalo check, or black with camel, red and white “burberry” look plaid. Gray with gray plaid. Black with leopard, gray with snow leopard. Navy with “black watch” plaid (navy, green tartan). Try cream with plaid or cream with gray. There are hundreds of fleece print options and almost as many solid colors – have fun selecting your favorite combo!

Fabric options:

These use up a lot of stash in one fell swoop. If you’re stash busting a couple of yards, feel free to color block the ends of the ties to make them longer than 72″ if you have only 2 yards of fabric.

Double sided – fleece fabrics, lightweight wool fabrics – especially good to use up those suiting wools you’ll never make into a suit again – cotton fleece fabrics like velour or sweatshirting.

Single sided – lightweight boiled wool, fleece fabric (you will not need to hem either of these). You can also choose sweatshirting, medium weight or coat weight wool (these latter will need edge hemming).

These make fabulous gifts – they fit everyone and they are warm and cozy. Perfect for travel (by car, air, plane) you are arriving with your very own blankie!

See my related post for a No Sew Ruana Cape that I authored for Christine Jonson Sewing Patterns. You’ll need fleece fabric, scissors and a ruler. French curve is helpful but you can use a small plate to trace a curve.

Sew Paradise

Sew the look! Midi Rib Knit Skirt Sewing Pattern Review

Scrolling social media this AM I saw a ready to wear skirt from a store/catalog/online company Marine Layer in a black heavy rib. Midi length, slim fit, no waistband (except hidden elastic) and a back slit. Model has it on under a cream turtleneck and her favorite camel cowboy boots.

The inspo, from online retailer (they have a few locations) Marine Layer. Photo is from Marine Layer.

You can sew this exact skirt in under 30 minutes!

I highly recommend the Christine Jonson Pencil and Slit Skirt. The Slit skirt version has a yoga waist, the pencil has a darted, shaped waist, neither need elastic and are incredibly comfortable.

Choose a rib or smooth snappy ponte knit for best results. If you add in hidden elastic for a “hollywood” waist – you can also go with a sweater or sweatshirt knit (provided it has lycra in it for recovery, otherwise the butt will bag out and you won’t want a baggy butt!) This looks good on slim people AND especially on curvy ones! Trust me, this skirt shape will make you look amazing regardless of your size or shape! An oversized sweater layer is great for hiding a multitude of past snacks. Life’s too short to not eat tacos.

Pencil skirt sewing pattern basics: The skirt pattern contains a back and front, clear directions for a well-sewn serged back slit on both. Christine sells fabric (again!) on her website, and the Super Snappy ponte would be perfect, as would the everyday ponte. I have ribbed ponte in my stash, so I’ll sew that.

Why skirts? Because they are insanely comfortable. I wear them especially driving (and I drive a LOT – about 500 miles a week on average to and from hockey, which is a six-day-a-week thing for our family.

In the winter, I layer them over comfortable leggings, base layers, even silk long underwear bottoms (yes! super comfy).

How to style this midi pencil skirt:

As in this photo, a slouchy sweater – try the Toaster Sweater by Sew House Seven for a turtleneck look, or the Hosta Sweatshirt by Fancy Tiger Crafts. You can also get the wide turtleneck look with the La Megeve Top from Naughty Bobbin Patterns (see mine for examples in a sweater knit.)

For a non-turtleneck slouchy sweater, try the oversized V-neck Art School Sweater by Hot Patterns, or go totally casual with the Olivia Hoodie by Sonia Estep Designs.

Skirt, necklace, slouchy oversized top/sweater and your favorite suede boots. In the deep winter, you can wear it with your favorite warm furry boots too.

Colors: go beyond black:

midi pencil skirt sewing pattern review
My version in aubergine ponte, with the slit rotated to the front before the waistband is sewn on. Both a fall/winter and a summer look shown here.

Of course they show this in black and a blue color too, but I’ve made the skirt in aubergine doubleknit, in cream heavy ponte, and in gray houndstooth ponte. All of these heavier weight knits will work great with this skirt, and unlike the one from the store, will actually last many washings and wearings. You might just become a skirt person!

Sew Paradise

Surf Beach Inspired Fall and Winter Capsule Wardrobe to Sew

Surf beach inspired fall capsule wardrobe to sew using indie sewing patterns

I’m a big fan of surf brands O’Neill, Roxy, Carve, and the many, many beachy brands that have sprung up in the LA Textile District.

I love my surf beach clothing brands – what do I love about them? I love their marketing and the beach lifestyle. I’m coming for an escape – to a tropical destination, to salt air and wind, to the beach, a fruity drink, not a care in the world.

I don’t like to think of myself as a fast fashion person. I prefer to keep, mend, or as a last resort, pass on most of my wardrobe so at least it’s not ending up in a landfill (right away.)

Slow fashion Surf Beach Inspired Fall and Winter Capsule Wardrobe to Sew:

SUPER slow fashion is sewing. You can’t sew fast enough for fast fashion and if you choose sustainable fabrics that at least compost at the end of their lives, they’re reasonably good for Mother Earth.

Here are four ways to sew your way to a more sustainable beach surf inspired wardrobe

  1. Take inspiration and choose patterns that reflect the beach surf aesthetic
  2. Select sustainable fabrics
  3. Start with easy sewing pattern projects
  4. Slow down!

Take inspiration and take notes: choosing patterns that reflect beach surf aesthetic:

Your favorite brands all have wonderful IG feeds and nice websites. Take good notes! Note the shape of the tops (ease, length, details like hoods, cowls, pockets) or shape of pants (wide, skinny, loose or tight), the fabric types (rayon, linen, cotton), and the construction details like pockets, piecing or stripes, patches (including placement) or tags.

Select fabrics that have similar characteristics, the more natural the fiber content the better, with colors that match the aesthetics you are looking for (except for swimwear. Buy good nylon/lycra for best wear). I recommend your local fabric store if you have one – many buy better quality (and natural fiber) fabrics, but you can also try Nature’s Fabrics online, or Gorgeous Fabrics online. There are a LOT of online fabric stores that sell fabrics that are mostly polyester or acrylic, and they don’t sew up well, the ‘hand’ of them can feel weird and they won’t hold up over time. Avoid these fabrics – your precious sewing time deserves the best, longest wearing fabric you can devote.

Next, select patterns that mimic the shape/style of what you’re looking for. No shortage of indie sewing patterns, where purchases support a very small business, and your local fabric store will help you pair these together successfully.

Concept a “capsule wardrobe” – usually 3-9 pieces of clothing that work together to mix and match. Match them to the REST of your wardrobe, too. No sense creating a one-off garment or two that you can’t wear with anything else.

To concept a wardrobe, you can sketch (or trace) the pattern envelope’s tech drawing and clip a swatch of fabric next to it. Use my wardrobe planner document (print out 3-4 sheets). You can use a Pinterest board, a Trello board or even poster board! No art talent? Print a copy of the pattern photo to your planner (either digitally or on paper). You can get these from the pattern company website.

Start with simple items – tee shirts, skirts, pants, dresses, sweatshirts and sweaters. Then move up to more complex projects like swimwear. Use your favorite brands’ IG feeds for inspiration and planning.

An easy to start capsule: one top, one bottom and one outer layer.

For my beachy-brand aesthetic, I see a lot of soft ‘sun weathered colors’ this year like sage, dusty navy, rose, birch, storm blue and sand. I also see warm colors like sunset gold, deep burgundy red, warm slate blue, turquoise.

I spent several hours at Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach Florida, in November and O’Neill, Carve, Roxy’s websites and IG stories.

Start with easy sewing projects:

Oversized sweaters, cowl necks, and soft pants still reign in surf and beach aesthetics for fall/winter.

HotPatterns Art School Sweater and Hot Patterns Poncho Sweater

These two oversized sweater sewing pattern options are on trend. Sew them up in French terry, sweatshirt, fleece or sweater knit fabrics. The Art School sweater is also designed for patchworking and upcycling old sweaters – a GREAT way to be sustainable! You can choose patchwork version or standard one-fabric version.

The Poncho sweater has a curved banded hem and a dolman-sleeve shape along with banded neck with front darts. It’s their Last Minute Makes so you know it’s fast and easy. Both of these make great gifts with just a little size guessing for the recipient.

NOTE: HotPatterns is size inclusive – I almost always make my Ready to Wear size (8-10) in tops and have plenty of slouchy design ease in these, whereas, I almost always sew a 12-16 in most other sewing pattern brands. So HP’s 22-26 sizing is really that.

Cowl neck with pockets – Naughty Bobbin Patterns La Megeve top and stirrup pants.

This one is a bit deceiving on the sketch, as it’s shown in a faux fur – making it GREAT for that fluffy pile shearling or minky fabric – but also works great in sweater knits. It has pockets! But not obvious kangaroo ones that show, they are hidden in the princess seam. Sew this one in the fluffy boucle fleece or a smooth sweater fleece or sweatshirt fleece. It’s generously sized – wear your usual sewing pattern size (mine is a M).


No surf/beach look would be complete without a hoodie. A classic woven fabric hoodie, HotPatterns Marina hoodie and top has a kangaroo pocket and is designed for wovens (like wide stripes a la boho Southern California loose woven look).

If a knit jacket is more your style, Hot Patterns has the Mighty Morphin Cardi for knits – there’s a hooded cropped version that would be perfect for a cropped zip front hoodie. This pattern is super versatile – from a long cardigan or hooded cardigan to a bomber jacket to a parka – or a zip front hoodie! Get the most bang for your buck with this multi-look jacket pattern.

Also try the Sonia Estep Designs Olivia Hoodie with a high-low hem and a curved scoop neckline. This one is for lighter weight knits like jersey.

There are TONS of hoodie patterns out there – these are ones I’ve made and liked for fit and construction details.

Beachy surf bottoms:

Corduroy pants:

Yes, babywale cord is all over the beach/surf brands for fall and winter! Try these in a wider leg, soft babywale cord in the Pietra wide leg or the Rose by Made by Rae or even the Emerson by True Bias. Each of these pants will stand up to corduroy without being too fussy. Wash the cord well before sewing, it shrinks and you’ll want as much softness as you can get. You can go cropped or long in all of these. For a slim-but-not-jeans look, the Pietra in a narrow leg works great in babywale cord.

Beach pants: Because you can wear beach pants all year round. In the deep winter, these are my indoor lounge pants, (or sewn in sweater fleece) but in the fall and spring, I wear them with platform sneakers (Keds, Vans).

I like them in a medium/heavy linen, or chambray for fall and winter. Three choices here: Jalie Simone – I’ve made these for my DD and for myself, Hot Patterns Marakkech Xpress (for wovens) and HotPatterns Palazzo (for knit or woven). The latter are a blend of stretch yoga waistband and woven fabric, or all knit. But the stretch fabric/linen woven is a fun option that I’ve made and worn on beach trips. If you want to make warm beachy pants, go for the Palazzo, or even a jogger like the Hudson Pant from True Bias, sew them in a lightweight fleece or a sweatshirt fleece, French Terry or other fabric with a fuzzy or looped back for maximum interior comfort.

I can’t get enough of joggers can you? But eventually you might need something nicer, and this tailored jogger sewing pattern version has a cuffed hem, like trousers. Or you can just slide elastic through the hem and call them joggers, either way these fit well (I sewed a 12 in these.) The waist uses channels for thinner elastic – you could switch to wide sew-through elastic, or do the channels. I also made them with a cuff in faux snakeskin (but that’s certainly NOT beachy!) I make these in a medium weight woven fabric for winter.

Tops and tees:

There are a zillion sewing patterns for tops and tees! You’ll want at least one basic long sleeved knit tee shirt, but don’t overlook fun woven prints in lightweight cotton voile for winter either – a woven tee pattern like the Cielo Tee from Closet Core, the Scout Tee from Grainline Studios or the Plain and Simple Slouchy Tee Shirt Blouse from Hot Patterns are versatile tops that sew up simply and quickly.

Tee shirts:

The surf/beach aesthetic wouldn’t be complete without a beachy/surf graphic tee. Unless you’re up for screen printing, you’ll be using Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) and a really hot iron with press cloth to get graphics on your tees. Find tons of these on Etsy. Try them on plain tees but also don’t overlook how fun a single-color HTV looks on a cotton voile print.

Stencil with fabric pant: You can buy stencils and then paint with fabric paint inside the stencil. To do more than one color, layer up one stencil, paint, let dry, apply the second stencil, paint and let dry. Continue for as many colors as you want. Stencils are available on Etsy.

Another FUN way to do this is to incorporate a panel from an upcycled vintage tee – hit up your local Goodwill or charity shop and find some oversized men’s tees with cool surf-beach graphics. You can cut carefully around the image and using double sided fusible web, fuse it to the tee, then secure it with stitching around the outside of the graphic, or you can panel the tee. Try a pre-paneled tee like the HotPatterns Milano Dolman tee which has a center front panel and side panels that extend into the dolman sleeves. Make the front of the graphic tee the center panel and coordinate fabric for the remainder of the tee and neckline.

Surf/beach graphics in HTV : you can get a ton of fun, clever designs ready to press onto your basic tee shirts on Etsy!

Swimwear! Yes, you can sew swimwear!

My favorites include a mix of bikini styles and a couple of cut-out one piece suits. The O’Neill one I bought is here: features a bandeau top with ruching, a below-bust cutout and a moderate cut bottom.

Try the North Shore swimsuits from Greenstyle – you can literally build your favorite suits with this pattern. There is a cut out one piece, any style bikini bottom (from high waist to low cut hipster), any style bikini top with tons of closure options.

One of my favorites is Kwik Sew 3608. I’ve sewn this many, many times. It comes in a tankini with small bikini bottom (tip! Add a high waist band to this suit) and a cut out one piece by mashing the top with the bottom before cutting your fabric (measure your torso length first with this suit!) I usually find Kwik Sew on Etsy or Ebay used.

With all bandeau suits, add yourself neck ties by making a long tie and stitching it at center front so you can pull the ties up and over your head and tie. Check out this retro pattern! Or this one is totally free, but designed for industry pros (no instructions).

Slow down!

You do not need to make 10 garments at once. You can start with one or two and mix these in with things you already own in your wardrobe. Maybe you have a hoodie but want joggers to coordinate, or maybe you want

The surf beach aesthetic is a fun one to sew for – and with so many sewing patterns having these casual basics, it’s really just a matter of sewing them in your favorite beach-inspired colors and fabrics.

If you ARE off to the beach/surf, you can add in a pair of shorts (Jalie Simone!) and be ready to roll!

Sew Paradise

La Mégeve Pullover & Stirrup Pants Sewing Pattern Review

Cozy fall and winter sewing pattern for a pullover designed for faux fur, thicker sweater knits and ponte knits, the La Mégeve Pullover and Stirrup pants is an easy and cozy make for winter.

First, I’ll say, if you love vintage style patterns with style AND fun descriptions, the entire Naughty Bobbins Patterns line is a treat – each one is based on a movie character, vintage in style and yet designed with modern bodies in mind. So you’re not hacking a Vogue pattern from 1960 or 1940 and trying to go up 5 sizes. These are designed for modern bodies, and have that vintage flair. Go, read the descriptions now, they’re so fun!

I chose a cotton knit from my local fabric shop in a winter “digital” pattern and love the combination. It was easy to sew in this fabric, and the inserted princess seam pockets in this are perfect! Think inside kangaroo but not kangaroo style. The top has a wide neck with stand up collar that you can keep up or roll down. The sides are notched with a nice sized facing (no wimpy small facings, this one is wide and easy to sew with good instructions for interfacing and enclosing the edge for a clean finish. Note, I did not do this, because I was testing out this pattern first. Faux fur contains directions for lining it – and you know you will want to (faux fur is scratchy inside.)

I also made a large, and if you’re making this in faux fur, maybe that’s a good choice, but I could definitely go down to a M in this (and I’ve read that from other pattern reviews too.) I’ll go down for a M on my next sew.

The instructions are well illustrated, the digital pattern is well prepared and optimized for printing at home.

This is the PERFECT outfit for some winter hiking, snowshoeing, hiking, cross country skiing or (if you’re not a winter person) fall wine tasting or leaf peeping. The stirrup pants (haven’t made those yet) would be PERFECT in Polartec Power stretch or power wool for XC skiing or in ponte knit if you’re just lounging apres ski or apres hike by the fire with a hot toddy in hand.

If you have the sweater knit or fleece that looks like cable knit this would make an awesome ‘cable sweater’ and if you’re up for it, add length and make it a longer tunic dress.

As I’m sewing this, I’m on vaccinated COVID isolation, so I had time to sew (this is an easy and fast sew), it’s wintry out, and I don’t have awesome photos of this to share yet.

This is definitely one of several I’ll make, including faux fur or minky or that fluffy boucle fleece that’s out there right now. I plan a fleece one, a sweater knit version and at least two pair of the stirrup pants for winter and skiing.

You know a pattern is awesome when, as you finish, you change into it for the next two days! It has a fun vintage vibe, but it’s modern – it reminds me of some of the Title Nine and Carve winter dresses that are so popular in northern climates. Think apres ski but more chic.

It would also be awesome as a second layer over your base layers with your snow pants and your alpine skiing parka. Add a big fluffy neck gaiter and your snow helmet and you’re good to go. It has a very snowboarder-chic vibe.

Sew Paradise

How to find time for sewing

Are you struggling to find time for sewing? I’ll share tips from a busy travel-sports parent on how I find time for sewing, even when I’m driving my kids to some other city 7 days a week!

My kids play travel hockey. One of my kids’ home rinks is 45 minutes to an hour away, one way. I work full time in my own business. And I still sew 30-40 garments a year. How?

  1. Those UFO and mending projects can get you in the sewing groove.
  2. Set time limits to sew of 15 -30 minutes and no more
  3. Protect your time by eliminating activities that don’t have direct emotional value to you and your family

UFOs (unfinished objects) – I keep these in a basket by my sewing bin, and if I’m struggling to start another project, I sew just one seam. Yep. Just one seam! Those UFOs will be FOs pretty soon!

I start with mending – the mending pile is not a black hole in my sewing room any longer! I start every session mending something – sewing on a Scout shirt patch or two, repairing holes in knees, replacing buttons – whatever needs doing, I am doing it with every sewing session.

Protecting time and activities:

The pandemic showed us how we could axe off everything we did and still survive OK. Now that we’re back to travel sports, I realized all the other things I did besides those had to take second fiddle. When you go from nothing outside to back to “normal” – you realize just how abnormal that was. Now, I can’t ask my kids to quit their beloved travel sports, but I can say no to other things. I said no to going to outside fitness class and bought online subscriptions to cycling (Zwift) and to a weight system, used, on FB marketplace. I have my own gym! I said no to business networking events in the evening. I carefully curtailed those because of COVID exposure but also because they took a lot of time and I don’t have it. Most people migrated online for networking and business connection and I get most of my business from a few targeted Facebook groups!

Sew every day. EVERY DAY. For five minutes, or fifteen. Sometimes I set a timer to 15 minutes, I sew one seam, or mend one thing and then I’m done, but at least I started. More often than not, I continue on for another 15 minutes or 30 minutes.

Sewing one seam means you can finish a typical project of 5 seams (a basic top has five seams, basic pants have four) in 5 days.

Log out of socials. I just log off, so that “mindless” scrolling can’t happen because I am not logged into those apps. I even removed FB from my phone (years ago) and keep it logged out on my iPad. It’s there if I need it, but it stops me from mindless activity. And boy, it can suck up hours of time. I still like to discover new sewing pattern designers on IG, so I do scroll, but I try to do it when I can’t be sewing, such as waiting at an ice rink.

Set screen time alarms if you need help with this. We all waste far too much time that we don’t even realize doing things that are unimportant to us or our families.

I sew many garments a year not because I have time, but because I don’t! And that means the time I do have, I use.

Sew Paradise

Jalie Simone: wide leg pants & shorts pattern

This is my review of the Jalie Simone wide leg pants & shorts pattern.

I sewed these Jalie Simone shorts and pants for my teen about a year apart. The shorts are a linen rayon blend and the pants are a rayon tencel blend. They are two sizes different (smaller on the left, larger on the right) as teenagers grow like weeds!

These pants are very straightforward sew with decent Jalie instructions. They don’t often contain a lot of images as the instructions are in both French and English, but they are illustrated, they have good wording, even if it’s not super detailed.

I chose to make one alteration to the pants’ waistband – during construction, they have you sew the back band, Wrong Side together, right sides onto the top of the pants with all the raw edges serged – if you are serging this on, go for it. If you want a more finished inside and you’re not serging, sew just ONE side of the band, then flip up, press, then fold over, with another 1/4″ fold at the bottom edge and make an enclosed casing for the elastic, finishing the interior waistband.

These pants have angled front pockets, front pleats, a full elastic back waistband and wide legs. They aren’t “too wide” for a teenager, LOL.

As true with most of the time I make Jalie, tall people will love these – we cut off several inches AND did a 3″ hem (to let them down later!) But the way my teen outgrew the shorts was in the hip/seat, as Jalie runs (MHO) narrow across – but with 30 sizes, you’ll find your fit!
The best feature is the front tie and belt loops that’s captured into the sideseam. Very chic look for a dressy or casual pant. These, as you can see, make excellent “concert black” pants for chamber orchestra, but they also make great casual shorts (she wears them with graphic tees) and beach pants. I plan to make myself some of these well-designed pants.

When she tried them on for the first time she said “deep pockets!” – everyone loves pockets!

The bonus with Jalie, besides great designs on wearable basics with good drafting is the extended size range. Few other pattern companies offer this range, so if you sew for a range of sizes, Jalie’s your company to sew with!

These pants are shown made with tee shirts in matching fabrics on the Jalie site for a “jumpsuit” or “romper” look – and this is an excellent way to sew these!

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.

Sew Paradise

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!)