DIY top with waist tucks and bell sleeves

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Greetings from the sultry streets of Portland. The temperature rarely rises above ninety degrees here in the rose city, but this week has been extraordinary. Two days have topped out at 100+ and more hot days are ahead. Weather like this drives me to my basement sewing room where the air is cool. And, as luck would have it, a beautiful piece of silk waited for me there!

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This top was inspired by the runway fashions this Spring that featured Bell sleeves. I can’t seem to get enough of the look (see my other makes here and here), and I can tell as I wear this new top, I’m probably not done with this look even now. Because the bell sleeves have lots of volume, I decided to pair them with a more defined waist to balance out the bigness of the sleeves.  The fabric is from my stash, a lightweight silk that fells like nothing when you wear it. I found it at Mill End Store last Spring and have been waiting for inspiration to strike. The print is bold, so I knew a simple design would be my preference.

 

I modified a much loved pattern, Butterick 5890.

This pattern has loads of personality, with waist tucks and collar variations that are easy and fun to modify. I decided to draft new sleeves that would satisfy my bell sleeve obsession. I also made a long tie belt, that can be wrapped twice to give the waist more definition. The waist tucks are nice enough as they are though, so sometimes, I’ll  just wear the top without the belt.

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I used view C, but modified the pattern as follows:

-I cut the front bodice on the fold.

-I lengthened the sleeve by five inches.

-I added a bell to the sleeve by cutting a rectangluar shaped piece, 8″ by 20″. I gathered one long edge of this piece, then stitched the 8″ ends together before attaching it to the sleeve to create the bell.

-I added a long wrap belt, 70″ by 4″ .

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All in all, I’m happy with this new top. In part, it gets a thumbs up because it was comfortable today, even in the heat. And, it Did Not Wrinkle! Also, I should say, I’m pretty sure my bell sleeve obsession isn’t over yet. I’ve already started to imagine a longer sleeve version for fall, and am toying with the idea of adding a sleeve band detail too. We’ll see how that idea evolves🙂.

Move over Linen! Silk is my new favorite ‘hot’ weather fabric. What’s yours?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Butterick 6057-Chambray and Floral Top

IMG_4012Hi All! It’s hot here in Oregon, so there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy my vacation wardrobe even though I’m back at home. Might as well keep those vacation vibes going as long as possible, don’t you think? This top was one of my favorites on my summer vacation, completed only a day before I left. In fact, it almost didn’t make the wardrobe ‘cut’. But I threw it into my suitcase at the last minute and I’m so glad I did. It was worth the space it took because it went with everything; skirts or shorts.   IMG_4001 (1)

The contrast print makes this shirt, if you ask me. It’s a Liberty remnant I picked up at a small shop here in Portland, Josephine’s Dry Goods. I love Liberty floral prints, but I can’t always imagine wearing something that’s all floral. But using a bit for contrast is something I can easily get into. I used the Liberty on the sleeves, the pockets and the back button band. I love these colors so much, I might just start calling them my color ‘palate’; blue, black, rust, green, colors that are perfect for fall too. That makes this top ‘transitional’, don’t you think?

This pattern, Butterick 6057, is genius. The buttons and button band down the back just give it that extra something. Oh, and I love the tabs on the sleeves too. I used a solid black for those to try to make that Liberty print stand out even more. This pattern is now, officially, a ‘tried and true’ for me.I made it before here. It’s easy to sew  and the cut is comfortable, but not ‘baggy’ and the high low hem is fun.B6057Here’s the top in ‘action’. This is Nuremburg, Germany,our last stop on the Danube. I’m posing here in chambray with my friend, Suzanne who is wearing a beautiful linen dress.  She bought a bit of fabric on this trip too🙂. Her shoes are cute, mine not so much. What can I say? My feet had minds of their own that day!!IMG_5747

I hope you’re enjoying the dog days of summer and are finding time to sew a few transitional wardrobe pieces for yourself! Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

Simplicity 1318 Kimono Love

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Hi all! I’m back from my travels, and, I’m happy to report, my travel wardrobe was put to good use. I’m now a big fan of the Danube, and my travels there were relaxing but inspirational too. So many of the communities along its shore have a rich history of handmade garments. Everywhere I looked there was something beautiful to see and enjoy.

In fact, a garment I spotted on the trip prompted the title for this week’s post: Kimono Love. This is a handmande child’s kimono from Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (if you have a chance to visit this extraordinary museum, take it.) I could have stared at this all day.

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Another favorite:

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And here’s mine. Ha, not quite in the same league, but we do what we can!

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For this kimono, I used Simplicity 1318, a tried and true pattern I’ve made before (here) that’s so easy to sew!

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Because I knew it was a sure thing, I splurged and used silk. It’s a fabulous piece I found at Fabric Depot last Spring (gone now, sigh). For the front band, I used a silk in a solid contrasting gray. This is an unlined pattern, so I finished all the seams with my serger, but it would be lovely with french seams too.

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This kimono is a breeze to sew because the pattern has very few pieces. The style is loose and unstructured, so you don’t have to fuss with fit issues. The best fabrics for this are wovens with great drape, like this silk. Last summer, I made it from a sheer cotton which worked almost as well. I think a lightweight rayon would be great too, but really! Splurge and buy some silk! It’s so fabulous to wear and you deserve it🙂. I did prewash this silk, by the way, on the gentle cycle with some deteregent meant for lingerie. This made the fabric less slippery, and easier to cut and sew.

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I love the shape of this kimono and the high-low hem. This pattern must be a favorite of many of you, because it was one of the best loved patterns on Pattern Review for 2015.If you have a chance, take a look at the versions posted there. There are so many beauties! You’ll be glad you did.

My trip was fabulous, a much needed break, and I enjoyed the time I spent ‘unplugged’. But I missed visiting your blogs and chatting with all of you about your makes. I’ll be perusing all of your websites, catching up on things this week. I can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

New Look 6429- A Dress with an Inset

 

 

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Hi All! Summer is in full bloom here in Oregon, with blue skies and sunshine, the perfect start to my vacation. I thought I’d show one last addition to my travel wardrobe before heading out for a couple of weeks. Yes, I have alot of clothes (LOL) but wouldn’t you know it? At the last minute, I decided I NEEDED one more dress.  In a frenzy, I grabbed some fabric from my stash, a bit of lace, and a New Look pattern. Here’s the result.

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This sheath is New Look 6429, a dress I wanted to sew the minute I saw it in the catalog. With the options to add an inset or a cut out, this pattern was on my ‘must have’ list right away. I love the raglan sleeves and the great neckline.

I chose view C, because I can never  pass up an opportunity to add a lace inset.

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The pattern went together quickly and easily, but be forewarned. The sizing is really (!!) generous. I had to take seams in everywhere. This is one occasion when sewing a quick muslin wouldn’t have hurt, but as you all know, I don’t have the patience to take this extra step, and here’s the price I pay for it. An easy sew turned into a bit of a project because I had to fuss around with fit.

The fabric I used is a cotton with a  very, very slight stretch. The pattern is designed for wovens and stretch is not required, but I love just a little bit of stretch when I want a dress to be super comfortable, as is the case when I travel. If a dress can’t be worn all day, it doesn’t make the cut, you know?

IMG_4271I love this dress, and am so glad I found the time to squeeze in one more make as I know this will get alot of wear.

I’ll be away from my sewing machine for a few weeks, which makes me a little said. The good news? My stash has shrunk a bit over the last few months, making room for some new vacation purchases. I hope I’ll have some interesting finds to share when I return.

I hope your summer sewing is progressing nicely and that you’re enjoying some great weather. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

A cold shoulder top, dress or tunic

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I cannot get enough of the cold shoulder look. As with most trends, when I finally get on board, I don’t let go!  This is my second cold shoulder project (first one here) and I can tell you, it will not be my last. Here’s the reason I love the cold shoulder look. Showing a bit of skin at the shoulder gives even a loose, summery top or dress a bit of a sexy vibe.

What’s even better about this top, is that it’s so versatile! By hemming it a bit on the long side, I can wear it either as a top or a dress! Here it is loose and unbelted for a hot day.

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Here it is over jeans, perfect for a day that’s a bit on the cool side.

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I think this pattern plays to the advantage of a cut-out shoulder. Even though the cut of the top is unfitted, the shoulder gives it a bit of interest, and makes it look more shapely than it is. You can belt it, or not, as the mood strikes.

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The pattern is Butterick 5889, an easy top, tunic and belt.

It’s a bit oversized with a slit opening at the sleeves that could not be easier to construct. The sleeve hems and the sleeve splits are just finished with a narrow hem. So fast! The cold shoulder look is created when you tack the sleeve split together at the top and bottom.

The shape of this top is rather loose and boxy, so I choose a very lightweight cotton with great drape (Mill End Store) so that it wouldn’t overwhelm my small frame. The hardest thing about this top, was getting the pattern perfectly lined up on center front, so you know this top is easy!!

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I can imagine wearing this top/dress both ways, belted or loose (although the unbelted version might be a bit of a man-repellant, if you’re worried about that sort of thing, LOL).

From cut-out to finish, this top took only a couple of hours to create. It might have taken less if I wasn’t watching High Society (Grace Kelly could not be more gorgeous. And the clothes!)

This top is such a fast, fun make, I might try it again out of a rayon challis. View B also has pockets and a front placket, so I might give that a go at some point. If you decided to try it, I recommend sticking with a drapey fabric, as it does have a very generous cut. The pattern came out in 2013, but it’s still easy to find and on-trend now.

What do you think?  Do you prefer it as a top, a tunic or a dress?Isn’t it nice to have some easy projects during summer? There’s so much to do outside, away from one’s sewing machine.

Happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

A Dress with a Few of my Favorite Things

 

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I’m smiling because this dress has three of my favorite things: linen, lace and silk. Yes, linen wrinkles, but I’m prepared to overlook that fact because it breathes like nothing else. If the weather is muggy, no worries!  When it comes to heat, this fabric is invincible.

IMG_3568To make this dress even more humidity resistant, it’s lined in silk, a splurge I never will regret. The textured linen is so special, it deserves a great lining. Not only that, but it was such a bargain! I found two yards on the remant/sample shelves at Mill End Store last summer. I bought it immediately, of course, but then I stalled. The fabric was so wonderful, I dithered about what to do with it. A dress? A top? Or, maybe a skirt? I perused pattern books, websites, flitting from one idea to another. How typical. If I love a fabric, I become paralyzed by its perfection! No idea or pattern is good enough for it. Finally, though, I settled on this idea. It’s a good thing because this linen dress is a dream to wear. The linen hangs perfectly, but feels like nothing.

IMG_3504 My dress was inspired by several RTW versions. Here are two fabulous dresses by Derek Lam and Caroline Herrara.

The pattern I used for my dress is McCalls’ 7285. I’ve made it before as a top, but decided I wanted to convert it to a dress.

To do so, I had to modify. The top pattern as drafted is a cropped style so if I extended it to dress length’as is’, it would be too tight in the hips. So, I took my hip measurement, and, as I extended the front and back bodice, I made the shape A-line, making sure the bodice was wide enough to accommodate my own width.

To add the lace embellishment on the bodice, I cut a length of lace the width of the front and back bodices just above the bust line. I stitched the lace in place on both the front and back bodice before setting the sleeves in. That way, when I did finally sew them in, the end of the lace was hidden in the sleeve seam. To add the lace to the bell of the sleeve, I sewed the lace on the bell before sewing the bell’s center back seam so that the end of the lace would be hidden in that seam as well. Also, textured linen has a tendency to fray (this is an understatement!). So, to keep my dress from unraveling into a pile of thread, I overlocked all the seams on the dress, and the silk lining as well.

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I love my summery dress, and I think the top pattern transitioned without too much of a struggle. However, I’m certain my method could be improved upon. I feel like I should have taken fabric drape into account as I extended the top to dress length, and that I’m lucky that it turned it as well as it did!  There must be more to it than just adding a few inches, a ‘method’ with a bit more of a rationale? Have you extended a top to a dress?  Did you just add a few inches, or did you ‘draft’ an extension?

I took my dress for a test drive today, and it was so comfortable. I’m glad I splurged on silk for the lining, because it makes it extra yummy to wear. So, if you wonder if silk is worth, my answer is ‘YES’! Go for it! You deserve it.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

 

Simplicity 1160-A Cut-Out Tee

Hi all! After completing my denim skirt last week, I needed to find an easy, fun, ‘instant gratification’ project to cleanse my sewing palate.  This little tee was the answer, inspired by a recent visit to Anthropologie. I found so many wonderful tees to admire there. I’m always amazed at how they can take a simple, every day top and with a single detail, turn it into something special.  Here’s the Anthro tee:

Many of the tops I saw in RTW were ‘swing’ tees. It’s a great shape to wear for comfort and ease. I loved the back detail on this one (hated the color on me), although I thought the ties would drive me crazy.  Still, it started a bit of an obsession. I had to sew a tee with a back cut out!! After reviewing a zillion tee shirt patterns, I finally found one that was a decent match. Enter Simplicity 1160, a tee with a scoop neck, a swing shape and a cut-out back.

When I saw the line drawings, I expected that the cut-out would be tricky to sew. Here’s the good news. It’s really not.IMG_3480

The cut out detailing is faced with bias tape, the way you would finish a tee shirt neckline. It isn’t hard to do and the pattern instructions are pretty easy to follow.

The fabric I chose is a cotton jersey with moderate stretch and a soft drape. I think a ponte knit would be too stiff for this, but would love to try a flowy rayon knit next time.

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This pattern seemed risky for me because I have a narrow-back.  I’m happy to report, fit wasn’t an issue at all. The only change I would probably make next time around is to raise the front neckline. It’s a bit low for me, although in the peak of summer, I may love it. Otherwise, this pattern is a winner and I will make it again. After all, I’m ‘all in’ when I find a fun project you can finish in an afternoon.

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Hey look! It goes with my new denim skirt, although it looks a bit wrinkled here…Hmmm, too many wardrobe changes in this photo shoot, I guess! Let’s see. I’ve made a top that goes with my skirt….Does this mean I can say I have a capsule wardrobe?? One thing is clear. If I keep buying blue fabric at my current rate, eventually, everything in my wardrobe will go together.

This tee was so fun to sew, I’m on the search for others with interesting shapes. Style Arc has quite a few; the Tamara, the Kylie and the Maris, but I’ve never sewn a Style Arc pattern before and have heard they’re a bit daunting as the instructions aren’t that great. Any experience to share with Style Arc?

Happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

 

Having a 70’s Moment: Denim Button-up Skirt

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Hi all!  In anticipation of summer travels, I’ve been sewing up a storm! I’ve also been aware of a huge gap in my me-made separates wardrobe that must be fixed before I travel. I have very few skirts and almost no pants. My recently completed jeans helped to fill the gap, but I still need skirts, and, as luck would have it, there’s a skirt competition this month at Pattern Review, the perfect motivation!

Being a fan of denim and blue, I couldn’t resist giving a jeans skirt a go. The pattern I chose was Mc Call’s 7392, a fitted skirt with a waistband, a front band, button closure, side front and back seams, and optional pockets and carriers.

I love the design of this skirt. The front and back ‘princess’ seams make ‘fit’ a breeze and the  a-line shape and front button closure are so seventies. To satisfy my craving for ‘jean skirt’, I added some additional details like front pockets and contrast topstitching.The pattern instructions were easy to follow.

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My only criticism….I disliked the way the carriers are attached. They are basted to the waistband, then sewn into the waistband seam. If you want to topstitch that waistband, you can’t because the carriers are in the way. So disappointing. Next time, I will sew the carriers on the way you do with jeans. I’ll just turn the ends under and stitch them in place outside the waistband. Because this pattern has princess seams, I found it easy to modify it to fit my shape. This gets a big ‘thumbs up’ from me, since I have a wide waist that’s out of proportion to the rest of me.

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Fabric Used: I used dark denim, so hard to find but available at Fabric Depot.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I double topstitched everything. I modified the patterns back pockets and side front pockets.

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Since I’m not a fan of side front pockets as I think they make my waist look shapeless, I used the back pockets as a template for two smaller front pockets, which I sewed in place, patch style. To get the smaller size for those pockets, I just traced the back pocket and reduced the size by 5/8 inch all around. I topstitched each pocket and added a chevron style ‘V’ for fun. I hesitated when it was time to put the back pockets on, as I wondered if four pockets on one skirt would be overkill, but the truth is, I love pockets! So I added them.

To make the topstitching look sharp, I double threaded my needle with regular thread. Some might prefer topstitching thread, but my machine doesn’t like it, so double threading gave visual dimension to the topstitch without clogging my machine. I also topstitched the carriers and the waistband seams, even though the pattern didn’t call for them. For a jeans skirt vibe, I used  jeans buttons in an antique finish that you pound in place with a hammer. So satisfying! The button holes were made using the contrast thread.

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In summary, I do like this pattern and will likely sew it again. IMG_3133 (1)

With its many seams, this pattern is easy to modify for fit, and to add your own personal touch. The cut is ‘a-line’ but not too wide at the bottom, so hard to find in a skirt pattern. It definitely satisfied my urge for a seventies style denim button-up skirt. I’ll probably try this pattern again with other dense fabrics like wool or corduroy come fall

I’m curious if others have trouble using topstitching thread? Does it clog your machine? I would love to be able to use it and know there must be a trick that I just haven’t yet discovered.

It’s still cold here, but I remain optimistic and am sewing with linens and cottons…Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

The Alder Shirt Dress: One pattern Two ways

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Hi All: I think I’m the last person in the Blog world to try Grainline’s Alder shirtdress pattern! Honestly, after making it twice for this week’s challenge at the Monthly Stitch, I have no idea why it took me so long. It’s a great pattern with two fun versions. One is a traditional dress with a stand up collar. The other is a fun skirted option, with a raised gathered waist. To make things even more interesting, on the Grainline blog, they’ve provided instructions on how to add sleeves and how to adjust the collar to make a  v-neck. Lots of options means everyone’s happy, right?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have PLENTY of shirt dresses with collars in my closet. And in the heat of summer, I can’t stand a collar rubbing against my skin. So I opted to try the v-neck version. This involves re-drafting the pattern a bit, following Jen’s instructions. Sounds hard, right? It’s not! Honestly, if I can do it you can. IMG_2914My first version of the Alder is the traditional sleeveless version, using an organic cotton print that I purchased at one of my favorite local fabric  shops, Modern Domestic. The cotton is soft and has a great drape, a must for version B of the Alder. The gathered waistline would probably look way too bunchy on a short person like me if the fabric was too stiff.

After tissue fitting the pattern to me, I decided the Alder’s skirt was a bit too full for my small frame. So, I took about an inch out of the Back Bodice before cutting the fabric. That skirt piece is placed on the fabric’s fold, so my adjustment was easily accomplished by extending that piece 1 inch over the fold.

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Gathers: The pattern instructions recommend that you use three rows of long stitches to gather the skirt. When I read this, my initial reaction was that this would be ‘overkill’. Ha. There is a good reason for this. The skirt is pretty full, and to manage all of those gathers and keep them right where you want them, you really do need the three rows of stitching.

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Because I live in Oregon where Summer feels too short, I decided to add sleeves to my next version. Again, Jen has that base covered on the Grainline website. I followed her instructions to take the sleeve of the Archer Shirt and adapt it to the Alder Dress. Let me just say, she makes this pretty simple. I  used a cotton chambray with embroidered accents for this version of the dress. The drape of this fabric is really soft, making it great to wear. I added a bit of contrasting bias trim to the pockets, the back yoke, and the sleeve’s hem to make those design details pop.

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I love both of my Alders! Thanks to the Monthly Stitch for challenging me to make this twice. Sometimes, that’s when the best things happen, when we do something familiar another time. Since my dresses were both inspired by summer, I planned to take photos outdoors, but wouldn’t you know it? It’s forty degrees here today! Still, I trust I’ll have lots of opportunities to wear both of my Alders soon.

Not sure which one I like the best, maybe the sleeveless version, since I love that bright fabric, although I loved inserting that bias trim on the other version. But maybe this style looks better without sleeves? Opinions welcome. I think I’ll make the straight collared version of this dress soon.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A lace top inspired by Dolce & Gabbana

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I used to think lace was reserved for prom dresses, frilly wedding dresses and other  hyper-girlie looks. But I think I’ve given that up. I can’t resist the combination of feminine lace with the edge of denim it seems. And if the lace is blue, I’m all in!

My inspiration for this top was this tunic length top/dress from Dolce and Gabbana.

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I fully intended to go the whole way with lace on the sleeves and the longer length of the top/dress, but as luck would have it, when I ordered this lace (Fabric.com), I thought I’d ordered two yards, but ended up with one. Not sure if I pushed the wrong button or if the order was messed up at their end, but when I tried to order another yard, the lace was already gone!

I grumbled about it for awhile, then found a great sheer silk to use for the sleeves and lining. It’s so perfectly wonderful to touch and wear, I decided the mistake was a good thing after all. It forced me to use a contrast silk sleeve which is more comfortable than lace by a long shot.

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The pattern is one I’ve used before McCall’s 7285.

I made view D, and used the silk for the sleeves.

Other modifications:

  • I raised the neckline by an inch.
  • I made 3/4 length sleeves with a rolled hem.
  • The hem is cut ‘high-low’. Because my lace didn’t have a scalloped edge, I merely finished the bottom with a rolled hem.

It’s an easy pattern that’s well designed, a good template for your own creativity. The only challenge here was lining up the lace so that it was perfectly centered.

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I’m wearing this top with my recently completed Jalie Jeans and love the look! It’s comfortable but sufficiently dressy. I wore it to a party just last week.

IMG_1547I only wish I’d bought more of that lace! Honestly, I have got to get in the habit of buying more not less!  I think this top might travel with me this summer. The good thing about this lace? It doesn’t wrinkle, nor does the silk. I’m guessing this top would look dressy if I wore the right jewelry and skinny black pants?

I hope you’re enjoying all of the sewing events in the blog world right now.  I love what’s going on over at the Monthly Stitch. The McCall’s blog has been great too, with a shirt dress sew along. And Pattern Review is hosting a skirt contest. There are so many ways to find inspiration, I feel a bit spoiled. Are you participating in any of these events?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!