Sew Paradise Sewing idea list SWAP

Spring forward

I make summer garments in September, hoping to extend the season. But in March, I can’t even take the thought of making another turtleneck, and all I want to do is sew sundresses! The problem with that is, well, it’ll be late May before I’m seen again in my sundresses (except for that brief respite last week in Sanibel, FL where I donned a sundress nearly every day). And I love ruanas and capes this time of year, so, a turtleneck is a really useful piece of clothing!

The spring before last, I made a gorgeous version of Christine Jonson’s Princess Seam Jacket #427 and loved it. It was the perfect weight for spring. Last spring, heavily pregnant, I sewed a BurdaStyle wrap dress.

This spring I stare at my closet and think, I really could use some updates to this stuff. I brought out some spring wear from my storage bags in the basement. Things like 3/4 sleeve tops, short sleeve sweaters, that sort of thing. Colors I generally wear in spring. But today I’m positively stymied as to what to even plan to sew. Yes, I have lists – on paper, on this blog – of what I should be sewing. And I even have inspiration from some browsing I’ve done lately at some of my favorite boutiques. But I can’t even make a move.

I thought I might join a contest over on Pattern Review – a five-piece mini wardrobe (you know what a fan I am of the mini wardrobe, just see the vacation post!) but I missed the start of that contest while on vacation, and it’s two weeks into it, and I’m too busy.

I have two collections of patterns I think that I should visit and craft my own mini wardrobe. First, Christine Jonson has made it super easy with her Travel Trios to sew up a 3 or 6 or 9 piece wardrobe. And then I do have a collection of Vogue Elements (they still are popular on Ebay) patterns that have almost everything one could want – jackets, short skirts, skinny pants, wide pants, dresses, even some summer casual tops, shorts and pants.

I would set a goal to wear them during the PatternReview  PR Weekend Chicago in mid-May, a much more doable time frame. The challenge with that is we’re spanning a season that is pretty wild in the midwest. It could snow next week. And be 90 by mid-May. But this cool spring, I’m guessing it won’t be 90 in Chicago in mid-May.

The other two items are a big tote and matching oversized clutch. Perfect for PR weekend.

I spent some time in the stash. Pulled out five knits, two prints and three solids. One is even cut, already. Grabbed a ruana from my closet, and will also grab a pair of cotton sateen trousers. I do know for a busy mother of two small children (4 and 9 months) that I have to maximize my time. I can do that most effectively with Christine Jonson patterns (no muslins, no fitting issues, just tissue fit the pants to adjust the crotch depth and leg length and that should be it).  They’ll sew up perfect, as they always do. I’ll add in an Elizabeth Lee nursing dress (again, always a TNT).  I’ll be one happy and stylish mama.

  • 3 tops – sleeveless and reversible wrap top, a 3/4 sleeve v-neck top, and a shirred turtleneck with long sleeves. The reversible is a  sketchy watercolor floral on one side and a solid on the other.
  • 1 skirt – A-line, knee length in a fun print that coordinates with all three tops.
  • 1 jacket – a shaped, draped wrap jacket in black knit that has a pattern almost like suede to it (it’s a knit).
  • 1 pair of pants – also in black (same as above) with front seaming and banded waist.
  • 1 dress for breastfeeding – a classic v-neck sheath dress with elbow length sleeves, knee length in a charcoal gray with an interesting silver and black horizontal wave design on it. It’s chic enough for a city weekend kind of dress.
  • Plus the sateen pants, a ruana and another long sleeved crossover v-neck top from my wardrobe.

Now, the sewing plan – I never like to cut ahead, but I have one top cut. I think I’ll focus on finishing that top, and cutting one other for this week. Next weekend, cut another and sew one, all the way thru to May. Most of these will take an hour or two at the most.

Sew Paradise Sewing idea list SWAP Thrifting

My fantasy travel packing list…

…I pack for a sun vacation like this: swimsuit, sexy maillot style (it’s what all the French girls wear…)poncho, wide legged linen pants, wrap skirt, big sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen.

I would consider buying this, if only for the suit (I have everything else in other patterns)

That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. It all fits into a swank carry on. I have some chic oversized bag to go along with this, my e-book reader and an ipod. Could I travel this light? Could I travel this light on this trip? It’s not looking like it – the problem is, not that I don’t have laundry facilities, or even these items, it’s that I want to take more. I have so many fun things I’d like to take!

But in this fantasy world, I’m on a yacht in Greece (I do know how this works, I have sailed on a yacht in Greece…) and this is my single bag and I cruise down to the cobalt seas of the Adriatic (though I actually sailed the Ionian.) I am hanging out with a rich guy (maybe my guy, but somehow we are rich). Our children are there, and they, too, impeccably dressed. Someone else fixes PB&J for them though, while I sip a cocktail. And of course I am dressed in my black maillot, wide leg linen pants and big sun hat with oversize sunglasses.

And to add to this fantasy, I’ve sewn this all myself, every piece. Lest you think I’m crazy, this all started with a pattern I saw on Ebay. I was going to buy it, but the only thing I really needed was the swimsuit (I have a zillion poncho patterns, even more wide leg pants patterns, and at least three or four wrap skirts, maybe five or six). I do have a maillot pattern, of course, this one was more of a plunging neck halter maillot, rather than the classic style.  But I didn’t buy the pattern. Yet. But I do want to sew, and I set myself a goal to someday, pack just like this for one trip. The islands. a private plane…oh who am I kidding? It’ll be coach, but I am seriously doing that trip.

The best thing about sewing is this wardrobe is in your reach for, oh, about $50. $6.99 for the vintage pattern. Say, five yards of some gauzy fabric for the poncho and skirt. Two yards of linen or chambray for the pants. One yard of swimwear fabric (you could get by with one suit, though they show two). One yard cotton twill for the hat. Voila! Nine yards of fabric, if you shop well (that is, coupon, sale, your friend’s stash @ $4.50 per yard – average – totally doable). YOU could be this glamorous for $50 and a couple weekends of sewing. For an extra $6 you could get a print swimsuit fabric and make two! (swimsuits are easy and fun to make!)

The most fun thing of all though is how a pattern sparks this idea. This daydream of sailing in Greece (it’s been twenty years this year), this fantasy brought to you by a single vintage pattern I happened to stumble across on ebay.


Spring challenge underway

I didn’t have nearly enough fabric for the Tie Back Top, so I cut the Ruffle Top instead. I cut the trouser jeans too. I need muslin, for the jacket, so I will probably go to JoAnn’s this week sometime. We are headed up north for the weekend, so the cut garments will stay on the sewing table, I think. I will bring knitting with me instead, this weekend. Or maybe something to cut, like the Homage Tote, that doesn’t require fitting or a lot of fabric.

On the trouser pants, I chalked, them just like Christine taught me, and I just simply added 1.5″ to each sideseam, which basically meant they came down relatively straight from the hips. I also added a fly, simply by measuring 2″ out from the CF seam, down to 7″ and tapering at an angle over, as a fly front extension usually looks. Chalking this is super simple – no extra patterns to make, etc.

I need denim topstitching thread (gold, classic) to do these trousers, too.

So I think the first two items will go together fast. On the jacket, I need to cut a muslin (hey, a good weekend project) and sew it together (hey, another good weekend project!) to test the fit before I cut into that boucle. I plan to use fusible interfacing to underline the pattern pieces, as the boucle is ravelly. And I may line it, too. In fact, I probably will.

the thought occurred to me the other day, could I make a lining out of the muslin? And does the muslin have to be, well muslin? Can it be a prewashed cotton print fabric? I do plan to dryclean, but I’d prewash the lining just in case. I think I”ll go peruse my japanese cottons and see what inspires.

So, that’s my current sewing plan. A fun, four-piece wardrobe of spring garments and accessories.

nursing tops and dresses SWAP

Florida (sewing) daydreaming

I have picked out three new pairs of shoes. Well, one new pair, and two others I like. They’re all based on that Sketchers mary jane shoe that’s so popular (that I’ve had for a long time, in light blue mesh). Only I’ve picked out patent black, a jane and a crossover jane, and gold peep toe (for summer). We’ll see. It’s fun to have a wish list though.

Tonight as I was nursing the babe down, I was thinking of the two CJ jackets in the UFO pile. I want to finish those. The batik floral one will be perfect for Florida. I may crop the sleeves to 3/4 and add the rickrack trim to them too. The red suedecloth will be great for now.

It’s very late, after midnight. But I’m not sleepy (damn decaf at 4pm) and I’m a little bit selfish- everyone else is in bed, and I’m staying up for a while. I’ll have to settle down at some point here soon, with some sort of reading material!

So let’s have fun with Florida sewing daydreaming:

I will take the red floral dress for sure.

Then, add in a jacket, the red and white floral. not to be worn with the red dress, though. I’ll bring a black cardigan for that.

pants: wide leg white, wrinkle free faux linen. Could also be oatmeal linen look.

Two tanks or camis – the teal tank, a floral tank – the CJ one perhaps (my thought there about nursing is a shelf bra with overlapping openings perhaps).

A bathing suit

A sarong skirt. Possibly the skirt from the Butterfly Tops and Mock Wrap Skirt from Hot Patterns.

A sleevless nursing top in a floral, possibly one of the Japanese cottons Sue is sending. If the babe is still nursing, as I expect her to be. A tie front version of the vest style NC207?

And two pair of shorts – the denim Janina short and a new one, possibly the Vogue Elements side zip shorts.

Aah it’s so nice to daydream about a Florida (or Caribbean) trip isn’t it? It’s cold, gray and wintry out. I’m months away from sandals and shorts. And sewing for same. And summer went so fast…too fast this year, I think. We were still shivering in May, I was thinking denim coatdresses, not sundresses, and then fall zipped by faster than you could say “sew a plaid BWoF cape” and it’s winter already!

For the babe, I found some really cute BWoF patterns in some old issues – one piece rompers in cute japanese cottons, knit tops out of the leftovers from my CJ knits (she’ll be the most stylin’ tot ever). So I plan to make her at least a couple summery outfits to take on our trip too.

nursing tops and dresses Sew Paradise SWAP

White shirt finished

I finished the white shirt today, AND the recycled sweatshirt to cropped jacket too. I will post photos of both tomorrow. Tomorrow, I cut out the cape. I haven’t yet decided about lining yet, but I guess I’d better – because it’s not going to line itself!

On the top, it’s Elizabeth Lee’s Nursing Classics 307, view 2 I added the pintucks by slicing the pattern in two spots along the front, and then expanding that to accommodate the pintucks. I made wide sleeves (and they STILL need to be longer even after I added to them in the pattern prep stage). I used roughly a straight line down from the elbow to the hem of the sleeve on both sides. Next time, I’m going to take a tuck out of the front armseye, because it looks like there’s some extra fabric (the sleeveless dresses have this too, but it’s less noticeable) there that is not looking nice. Next up for this pattern View 5, with the sweater part as just above the knee, in an aubergine sweater knit, and the underlay in a print knit, high hip length. With some fun fabric flowers sewn on the sweater.

The skirt is Christine Jonson’s Base Wear Two. I sewed it in LESS than one hour, and that includes looking for the fabric for a few minutes too! I left the flounce raw edged (the fabric is a ponte knit, but not at all stretchy so I used a size 12). It’s delightful! The hem lays beautifully on the flounce. I’m very happy. It was such a quick project. My friend Sue told me about how she doesn’t hem the raw edges of her knit dresses, so I thought I’d try it. It’s lovely, really, can’t even tell and it looks way better than hemming ever would!

Now, on to the cape!

That’s my third garment, the skirt – it’s a good fall garment, and I’m kind of in to skirts right now, what with my fancy new navy and black patent peep toe heels.I’ll post those too. I am also going to post swatches of my new CJ fabrics. I think I did a GREAT job keeping them on the light and happy side – they’re prints, they’re bright and that’s exactly what my stash needed.

I am going to buy a couple of HotPatterns patterns – a handbag or two, and possibly a top. My friend Sue loves those Weekender Sunshine tops (she keeps making them for her mother!) and so that sounds like a TNT pattern to me.

This week fall arrives, and summer leaves. So I’ll be digging out transitional wear from my summer wardrobe (we don’t usually switch til my birthday weekend, which is next weekend) to get through the week. So it’ll be creative wardrobing to get through the chilly week! I’d better finish that cape and skirt soon!

I’m also going to start a baby poncho in fleece (I have some navy polar fleece, and will add some bright coral flower applique). It’s poncho season!


Micro Mini Swap – garment one

I’m just about finished with the white pintucked shirt. I have to buy some buttons, then sew buttons and buttonholes in place. That’s it – I finished the rest. I’m reasonably pleased with the fit – the arms could be longer, the front armseye needs a tuck taken out of it next time. But it’s pretty good! I like it! I’ll post a photo once the buttons are done.

I also traced off the cape for project two. I’m considering a skirt – the CJ straight skirt with ruffle, for the third item. It’s definitely skirt season, and my new navy and black peeptoes are fantastic!


Micro Mini Swap

Since I just finished my Summer SWAP (the denim dress and shorts were the last, must take photos of the whole group and post them), I posted a challenge on SR for a micro-mini swap. Three items, six weeks.

I’m using the EL307 view 2, nursing white shirt with tucks on the front and wide sleeves, tunic length. I drafted the blouse with the tucks and the wide sleeves tonight, prewashing the fabric now. I should be able to get to it this weekend.

The BWoF cape from the 8.08 issue, in the St. Andrews wool plaid.

and a pair of pants, fabric and pattern as yet undetermined. But I think possibly the CJ flare pant in denim.

Sew Paradise SWAP

Did I need more patterns?

So, just a week or so ago I posted that I was on the lookout for more Vogue Elements. And the universe provided. In my in box was an ebay buy it now. So here are the ones I got!

Let’s see, there’s a cute dress, a hoodie dress, an evening dress, cargo pants , bermuda shorts and a moto jacket, yippee! And today, (edited tuesday) Hubs says they arrived! The sewist selling them was also in MI. Yay! I didn’t need more patterns, but hey, I sew A LOT. On Burda Style they asked how often you sew – such as once every few months, etc. and the ‘top’ one was ‘once a month’ – one garment a month? really? no, I sew way more than that. And I have a toddler!

Sew Paradise SWAP

Two Wardrobe Plans

I have been thinking about two wardrobe plans for some time – the first I posted here.

The second is my Vogue Elements wardrobe. Back in the 90s, Vogue introduced a line called Elements and it featured modern classics with a bit of an edge (so sez their marketing). I loved them. I bought many, but not all, and I keep an Ebay watch for the ones I do not have but want. I figure eventually someone will sell the ones I want. So. I’ve decided I want to make these – they are still all in style (in fact the skinny cigarette pants and wide leg trousers are both back IN, and they led the trend with boot cut flares too). Same with vests, pencil skirts, skinny shorts and cropped jackets.

And I’m going to make them from stash. Yep. Stash.

So this weekend I challenge myself to organize my stash by color/season/coordinates and then pick through them to sew the Vogue Elements that I have (sixteen patterns). Here’s a pic of them.

Vogue Elements Patterns

So here’s the list:


Cocoon reversible coat (also short, in sport nylon, Mid thigh or knee length coat

Hip length or waist length jacket


A-line skort, princess seam pencil skirt, a-line bias long or short skirt, short or long wrap skirt


Wrap dress, column dress


Skinny pants, cropped or long; wide leg trousers with or without cuffs, boot cut knit pants


Layered v-neck bias or scoop neck bias chiffon tops, 3/4 sleeve bias or sleeveless bias boat neck knit tops, wrap top, vest/top.

And as you can see, they mix and match in a very funky fashion – lots of colors/textures/styles mix well. Which is just what I’m going to do with stash.

I’m geeked – I’ve not sewn most of these yet. And that’s my goal – sew the pattern and fabric stash on this project!

Sew Paradise SWAP

Janina shorts progress

So I made a lovely half-muslin (didn’t have any more fabric – or it was deep in the stash). And it fit great. I was on a roll! But the fashion fabric, a stretch denim, doesn’t behave the same (use the perfect sizing worksheet next time!) And it’s much too large. Fortunately I did try them on before I completely finished the waistband! AACK. a LOT had to come out, not just a small adjustment at the CB. Lots. So I also adjusted at the sideseams, and have to sew on the final inner waistband and hem to finish these. Close.

Now, when I make these same pants in the (first) mini houndstooth, and then the Italian windowpane wool, I am going to cut a 38 – AFTER I do the perfect sizing worksheet. Duh.  Look, I know sewing isn’t perfect, and I’m not horribly shaken after this (especially with how well they’ll fit otherwise) but I am irritated.

Well, that’s what this space is for – to vent on sewing projects (yes, also to share sewing projects, but we all have the fit frustrations). It’s the #1 complaint amongst sewists. Enough to send me running back to make simple A-line skirts with elastic waistbands, LOL!

Well, OK maybe not. Still, they’re going to be very nice shorts, and I’m excited about making other pairs (in a smaller size) in other fabrics from my stash. I even have a nice wool doubleknit that, if it’s not too terribly stretchy, could be these same pants. Or, really, those cry out to be the Christine Jonson straight leg pants IF they’re stretchy enough.