Stash Buster: Simplicity 1377

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Hi all …As most of you know, one of my goals for 2017 is to reduce the size of my huge (re: out -of-control) stash. To that end, I’ve produced my own Little Black Book, a three-ring binder that holds my catalog of fabrics.

Yes, it’s a bargain basement binder, but it holds the key to my heart…a record of my glorious, but soon to be significantly reduced, supply of fabrics. My method of recording is simple…I just take a snip of the fabric, note the amount I have and whether or not the fabric is woven or stretch, and what ‘bin’ it’s located in (big plastic containers I purchased at Target). I track all fabric that is at least a yard or more. Smaller pieces make it into the notebook if they are unique (sequins, silk, feathers, LACE….!).

Some fabrics stay in their bin for a long time….the longer the stay, the more special they become! This particular fabric lived in my stash for a couple of years before my mind could find something suitable for its vibrant turquoise.

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There were two barriers to making this fabric into something special – – It’s a substantial flannel, the sort of fabric that doesn’t know what the word ‘drape’ means and — – my piece was a yard and a quarter (11/4); not enough for the usual flannel styles like a button up shirt  or a style with long sleeves. (Side note: My stash is overflowing with small pieces like this…remnants from other projects, or small pieces I picked up on sale..too little for most things, but too much to toss!)

Simplicity 1377 was the solution.

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This simple pattern is one I’ve used before. It has a front and back bodice, two neck facings, and short sleeves with drop shoulders. Because I’m only 5’4″, I don’t need much length in the bodice, so I was able to cut this top as well as a pocket and sleeve tabs from my small piece of fabric.

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Pattern Modifications (Simplicity 1377:

  • My version uses the neckline of view D and the sleeves of View E.
  • The short sleeves in view E have been lengthened by 2 inches (roll-up length).
  • I added self drafted button-up sleeve tabs.

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  • I self drafted a 5 inch square pocket to the bodice front and trimmed it with fringe from the fabric selvage.

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  • I used extra fabric to draft a tie belt.
  • I added a side vent to the hem line.

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March is a chilly month here in Oregon, and I know I’ll enjoy this warm flannel shirt with tee under it for weeks to come, and then in a few weeks (I hope) without a tee under it. Unfortunately, cozy is still an important word here, and I’ll be wearing my heavier clothes off and on for the next few months.

I love my new top!

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It’s comfy and colorful with an added bonus – – it was a Stash-Buster. I  got to pull another swatch out of my Little Black Book!

How do you manage your stash? Do you catalog it formally, or are you more relaxed about the process? And what about my fascination with collecting (hoarding) small pieces of fabric? What do you do with your one-yard wonders?

Happy Sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

Butterick 6456- A Boho Top with Statement Sleeves

IMG_3187Do you ever get obsessed with a trend? I’ve been known to go overboard with a new look, and in my case, statement sleeves are my new ‘thing’. This Spring, it seems they are everywhere, and I am clearly jumping on the band wagon! Sure, I like the look (flow-y, care free, maybe even a bit boho), but I also like the challenge of a new sleeve shape. Each pattern is a new adventure in sleeve construction with new techniques to learn.

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I was attracted to Butterick 6456 because of the sleeve options but also because of the v-neck and front pleat, both a rarity in my wardrobe. I also like the flow-y boho look of this top, which is a little different from the structured statement sleeve tops/dresses I’ve made in the past.

I chose a printed rayon from the Mill End Store . I wanted a lightweight fabric with drape, and this fit the bill.

IMG_3248 2The pattern when together nicely. The v-neck, the front pleat, the bell sleeves were all explained well and fairly easy to execute. The challenge was in the fit (that is an understatement). I cut the smallest size, but the v-neck was still pretty large. I mean, we are talking cleavage exposure here folks, and that was just not where I wanted to go with this top (LOL). So, I did a bit of modifying. There is a back seam as you can see from the line art.

B6456So, my strategy was to take that seam in by about an inch. I also eliminated the neckline opening in the back and just sewed the seam closed. That seemed to do the trick.  The neck opening is large enough that the top just slips over my head!

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I love my new top, but wearing it will limit my activities. I cannot imagine cooking or performing cleaning duties of any kind while wearing it. Oh, darn. Hopefully, those sleeves will not get into my dinner, as this is clearly a Date Night top that will see a restaurant or two.  I’m glad I figured out how to modify the neck because I love the fabric. I’m sure this top will get lots of wear from early Spring through Summer. The flow-y rayon was a good choice for this pattern and I can imagine trying it again with silk. I’m not sure a crisp cotton would work well, although I do think a linen with soft hand would be good.

This was a fun make, but I don’t think I’m done with statement sleeves yet.  Next up, a McCall’s pattern from my stash that has five (!!) different sleeve options. So much to learn! Can’t wait to try that next. I’d love to know where you stand on statement sleeves? Also curious if any of you have run into problems with v-necks and fit and how you’ve modified them?

Happy Sewing and thanks for stopping by!

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.

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!

 

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!

Sew the look: Denim and Lace

 

 

IMG_0950My summer travel wardrobe is starting to take shape. I’m determined to pack efficiently, but this will be tricky. The trip includes a Danube River cruise and some evenings will be dress-up events. Of course, jeans are my go-to wardrobe staple, but they’re probably not ‘cruise-appropriate’ (LOL), so I’m sewing some separates that will dress-up with the right shoes and jewelry.

These two pieces; a lacy top and Denim pencil skirt will mix and match with other pieces in my wardrobe. I think both can be dressed up or down, as the mood strikes. Lace and denim are both having a fashion moment, so I love the fact that these pieces are comfy, versatile and a perhaps a bit trendy too.

IMG_0938The top is another version of McCall’s 7285, a semi-fitted pullover top that’s so easy and fast.This pattern is so well-written and designed, it’s becoming a tried and true for me.

I love the bell-sleeves and the hi-lo hem. You can make this top in an afternoon, which makes it perfect for summer sewing. This time, I used a light weight rayon from Fabric Depot for the bodice and added some black lace to the sleeves. I finished the seams with my serger. The top is so comfortable to wear, I feel like I’m in my pajamas!! I’m hoping the lace gives it a bit of a ‘dressed-up’ vibe. What do you think?

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The skirt has a simple pencil style. It’s Butterick 5760, (OOP) a 2012 lifestyle wardrobe piece that has a waist band, a back zipper and slit.

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The pattern is so simple and basic,  you could embellish it easily with pockets. I wanted to do that but didn’t have quite enough fabric (I am my own worst enemy, it seems!) and when I went back to the fabric store for more, there was none to be had. Yes, I am short, but I must learn that a skirt takes at least a YARD AND A HALF, not a yard. The fabric is a denim cotton blend with some lycra (from Fabric Depot) which makes it comfortable enough for travel.

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This photo is kind of dark, but I just had to show you how lush and green things are right now in Portland Oregon. Yes, we have a lot of rain, but this is the end result…almost worth it?!?

Both the skirt and top are so easy! As the weather improves, I am all about fast and easy sewing. What do you think? Is my top dressy enough for a cruise? Not sure about the skirt…..?

Me-Made-May is in full swing and I love seeing everyone’s posts on Instagram. Although I haven’t been very good about posting photos, I’ve been trying to wear me-made every day, but have found it difficult because I don’t have my jeans finished. I’m hemming them this weekend, and hope to have them to share with you soon. The class was so inspiring, I suspect I’ll become a jeans making machine this summer.

Happy Spring sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Simplicity 1280: Crossover Top Times Two

I will admit. When it comes to sewing a top, I am a bit of a speed demon. I’m happiest when I’m sewing fast, and I will not stop until I’m done. Yes, I can leave a coat, jacket or dress on the sewing table to be completed another day, but a top? No way! Tops take ONE DAY, don’t you know?

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Enter Simplicity 1280: a cross-over top with a keyhole neckline. The top has a bit of a ‘ANTHRO’ vibe and it can be made in a day!

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I made two versions of this pattern, using a not-so-special rayon, and a fabric that I’d saved for just the right project (both from Fabric Depot). Wouldn’t you know it? The not-so-special fabric turned out to be the one with the best drape for the project. (Can you guess which one it is?)

I made view C with long sleeves and skipped the elastic on the sleeves as I wanted a bit more of a boho look.

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The top went together pretty well, and it was done in ONE DAY!!

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The pattern instructions are great. Here are some construction tips that I can offer after making two versions!

  • The neck is roomy. If you have narrow shoulders like me, you might want to do a muslin, or, at a minimum, baste the neck band on to make sure it doesn’t droop. I found the extra small to be a bit roomy and had to make it even smaller so that I wouldn’t have an ‘off-the-shoulder’look without intending to. Yes, it is trendy, but….
  • The construction of the front crossover pieces is interesting. The pattern instructions tell you to topstitch the two panels together before you have the back bodice attached to the front bodice. If you use a lightweight fabric like I did, you don’t really know if the drape is nice until the top is sewn together, so when you topstitch the two fronts, you can get some gathers and puckers that have to be corrected when the top is finally put together. Personally, I hate to unpick. So,  I’d take a pass on that topstitching step until after you’ve tried the top on and checked fit and drape. On my first version of this pattern, I had to unpick the topstitching and redo it after the back was sewn to the front because the drape was so different once the bodice was completed and there were so many strange puckers to fix!  Blah!!! Second version, I just basted the two front pieces together with a short stitch. Then, after I’d confirmed I had a good fit, I topstitched like I meant it.

The good news….Once you have these crossover pieces topstitched together, they will not gap or move as you wear the top! Yay!

  • The top really needs ‘drape’, so stiff fabrics will give a much different result. I used lightweight woven rayon, and could imagine it would have turned out even better if I had used silk. Next time….

Both fabrics were chosen in hopes that I could mix things up a bit by  wearing the  prints with my striped Morris Blazer. It’s a wardrobe challenge as only solid tee shirts seem to work with it. Alas, I’m not sure either of these prints works either..opinions welcome!

I keep hoping that I’m on the road to having a true capsule wardrobe, but, well, Hmmmmm. Maybe not today?

I hope your Spring sewing is going well. Me-Made-May, are you in or out? I might pledge one Me-Made a day, as Linda at Nice dress Thanks I made it, very wisely suggested. We’ll see.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!!

 

Sew Boho: Bell Sleeves and a Cardi-Vest

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I’m calling this look ‘boho’, even though some might call it ‘romantic.’ The top has bell sleeves, my favorite look this Spring. I love them because they signal warm weather and outdoor concerts and summer food festivals, you know?

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Here are a couple of ready-to-wear examples for inspiration; a top by Elizabeth and James, and a dress by Alexis.  Love the lace combined with the bell sleeves.

Maybe I’ll make my next version of this top from lace. The pattern I used is McCalls 7285, a semi-fitted, pullover top with a back neck opening, button/thread loop, and narrow hem.

Although the pattern does include a lined version to be used with lace, I chose to make the unlined version (the neck is finished with a facing) and serged the seams. I was able to cut my usual size and found that the pattern fit well, with very little adjustment (just my usual narrow shoulder adjustment). The only issue I had was the length. Even though I am petite (5’3), the cropped length was so short on me, I could only take a narrow hem. If you’re taller, it might be much shorter on you. The sleeves are a dream to sew, much easier than you might imagine. The bell shape is created by gathering a long wide piece of fabric that’s added to the bottom of the straight sleeve and the instructions on how to do that are really clear. The top doesn’t have a zipper, just an opening in the back, so it would be a good pattern for a beginner. I love the easy comfortable fit of this top and plan to make another soon. It’s a fast, easy sew, perfect to make in a weekend!

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Since Spring days around here are usually quite cool, I decided to make a long loose vest to go over the shirt.

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I’m really loving the ‘long vest’ look this year. It’s the perfect layer over a tee, a shirt, even a dress. The pattern I used for my vest is Burda 10/2014 #113, a long coat pattern that I made without sleeves. The fabric is a double-sided jersey knit from my stash. To finish the edges, I used a very tight serged stitch, but you could bind the edges too. On my version, I went with the serged finish because the binding changed the way the fabric draped, and this pattern definitely needs ‘drape’. It’s so easy to sew, you can make it in a couple of hours. It’s basically a circle with some holes in it… can’t get easier than that. But watch out. When the wind catches the vest, it becomes a sail and you fly away!

I found this fun pattern after seeing Helen’s version at Gray All Day. You should check it out…love her cool, breezy look. Her lightweight version would be perfect for summer (or anytime if you’re lucky enough to live in California). Whatever fabric you choose for your vest, I’d suggest that you keep it pretty light with a nice drape so that it hangs nicely. Also, if you want to add bell sleeves to another shirt, Rhonda’s Creative Life has a great post on how to do that. Check it out!

Now, to round out my boho look, I need something else…maybe a different pair of pants? Or would you try a skirt with that top/vest? Hmmm, suggestions welcome! Oh, yeah, and I need new shoes!!!

Happy Spring sewing and thanks for stopping by!