My #Sewing Top Five Misses 2018

Each year, I enjoy a review of my #Sewing Top Five Misses almost as much as my best top five. I always learn so much from my mistakes. So without further ado, here they are!top-5-of-2018.

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  1. Vogue top – Okay, when I made this,  I felt pretty clever because I constructed this top from odds and ends in my fabric stash. Ha! It’s such a mashup of colors and textures, I feel oddly distracted when I wear it. What was I thinking? New Motto – – keep it simple. To the donation pile!

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2. Aernite pants. I really loved these when I made them, but the color of the linen turned out to be problematic. It didn’t really work with anything in my wardrobe and it made me feel blah too. Lesson learned….I will avoid peachy beiges and tans in the future.

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3. The Darling Ranges dress by Megan Nielsen is a new favorite (I made three (3) versions!), but this version did not work for me. Again, the issue is the color of the stripes in the linen. It’s too peachy for me. Also, I think the dress is too long(?) so I feel rather frumpy in it. So many problems here. Ugh. The embroidered linen is so gorgeous though…too lovely to part with. I’m going try to modify the dress (shorten it to a top?) or reuse the fabric in some way.

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4. Simplicity Vintage top: What? you say. But this one is Blue! How can it be a miss?

This top is a clear miss because it’s so annoying to wear. I kid you not. Because it’s basically a wrap top with only a front and back panel, it depends on the tie to hold in the sides. That means when the tie loosens as you wear it, you enter the danger zone. If you don’t run off to a private place to re-tie, you will soon be showing all sorts of things best left covered.  Bummer as I made three of these. Thumbs down on this one….to the pile!

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5. Long Kimono top; I should love this one…the fabric, the kimono style…but I’ve never worn it. I cannot seem to find an appropriate venue/occasion. There’s something so awkward about it…maybe the length? A head scratcher for sure because I do love, LOVE this fabric so much and the style gets a big thumbs up from me.  Maybe I’ll shorten it next summer or recut it as something else. Hmmmm. I’ve got some thinking to do on this one.

Lessons learned – –

  1. Fabric in tan or beige-y tones is a no-no for me. (sigh).
  2. Avoid patterns where the design includes an element that might potentially be awkward or where you might be naked if it comes ‘undone’, LOL!
  3. Even though I love the look of a long cardigan or kimono, long isn’t always that easy to wear.
  4. Fabric that isn’t in my color palate is best left behind.
  5. Simple fabric, simple designs…they always work!

Well, that pretty much sums up the good and the not so good of 2018. I have no complaints. All in all, it was a very good year. That being said, I’d like 2019 to look a bit different. I’m hoping for some new creative adventures to sweeten my sewing experience and am thinking a lot about how to make that happen.

A fresh year, a fresh start. How was your 2018?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

An Anthropologie Inspired Burda Top

 

mL2l3J35Qjulp7CwY9UopA_thumb_11013If you ask me, the November and December issues of Burda Style magazine were so great, they more than justified the hefty price of U.S. subscription. This Anthropologie inspired make is from the November issue, and it’s just one of five patterns that I marke to trace. Yes, I always dread the task of tracing the patterns from the magazine…there are so many crazy lines to sort through! But the results were worth the effort!

Here’s the Velvet top from Anthropologie that inspired me to make this.  4110348695280_070_b

This Burda Style top is really close, minus the gathers at the shoulders.

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Navy blue is such a hard color to photograph so I’m not sure how clearly you can see the waist-pleat detailing, but it adds a nice touch and it was easy to sew. This Burda Style pattern is 11/2018 Style 110.

 

The magazine version is made from stretch jersey so I made my version from stretch velvet. If you try it yourself, I highly recommend a stretchy jersey with lots of drape. I cut the smallest size and the fit is great. I did forget to add the seam allowances when I first traced the pattern pieces and had to retrace them. UGH. There are so many crazy lines going every which way on those pattern inserts. I guess you could avoid that frustrating step by paying for a download of the pattern from the website, but to me, that feels like paying for the pattern twice which I could not justify, since, in the US, a subscription is already a sizeable investment. Fortunately, there aren’t alot of pieces to this pattern so the tracing wasn’t too hard.

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The required sewing was quite easy! I’m always impressed at how well Burda Style patterns come together.  The instructions feel so abbreviated to me, yet the projects always seem to work out! The front bodice and neckline are finished with facings and they’re very simple to attach. The sleeves are set in and they went in easily. The tie is just inserted before attaching the facing. No big deal. Machine sewn hems finish both the bodice and sleeves.

 

 

 

 

I always worry about fit when I make a wrap top. There’s so much that can go wrong in terms of gaping in the front. Because of that, I celebrate when I find one that fits well. Since this one is a clear winner, I’ll likely try it again. I might even add a few inches for a dress. It’s a great addition to the wardrobe since it can be worn alone or with a white collared shirt. Probably a lacy tee would look great under it too.

It’s always great to add a new velvet piece to my wardrobe, since I am such a fan! I’m hoping to sew a few more things before I do my yearly wrap up, but it could be wishful thinking on my part:). Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

The Perfect Thanksgiving Dress

You all knew I’d have to make another one of these didn’t you?

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Why this dress is the perfect choice for Thursday’s festivities…

  • The fit is loose! It can easily accommodate heavy consumption of food and drink; I think I could expand to 1.5 times my current size and it would still fit.
  • It swings.. a bit of festive flirtiness!
  • The fabric is stretchy and cozy…
  • The red color is fit for a celebration!

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New Look 6525 was even easier to sew the second time. I won’t bore you with lots of construction details as I reviewed it only a few weeks ago here.  I will say this: the second version came together in record time: two hours including cutting! It’s so easy to fit and sew…really you should try it!

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Fabric: I’m convinced the key to success with this pattern is the fabric. The knit I used here is a rayon sweater knit with a wide ribbed texture. I picked it up on sale at Joann’s a while back because this shade of red is my favorite; it has just a touch of black in it, which gives it the depth I love. It has two-way stretch and, although it’s slightly heavier than the gray knit I used in my previous version (here), it works. I wouldn’t go any heavier though (probably wouldn’t do a ponte). This dress needs to move a bit.

 

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FIT: I didn’t have to make any adjustments in the shoulders on this dress and I cut the smallest size as it is really loose-fitting. The collar is perfect on this dress if you ask me…not too tight, not too loose. I’m fussy about collars, and I find this so comfortable to wear.

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This dress will be perfect for Thanksgiving and other casual holiday gatherings this winter. I’m so glad I gave into the temptation to make this pattern again! I’m already imagining a spring version too:).

I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving with family and friends. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Blackwood Cardigan vs. McCalls 6844

You can never have too many cardigans. I feel quite certain about that. That’s why, each Fall, I find myself yearning for a new one…or two.  I’ve made several in the past (here and here) but today I want to talk about the two cardigan patterns I reach for time and again – –  the Blackwood cardigan by Helen’s closet and McCall’s 6844 (OOP but available on-line). Both patterns are easy to sew and friendly to a variety of knit fabric options. It’s the neckline that is usually the deciding factor in why I choose to make one over the other.

IMG_9104 3This version of McCalls 6844 is a coatigan of sorts. I found this thick sweater knit at Joann’s. The weight is perfect for this time of year, and the stretch recovery is great for this pattern.

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I made view B but lengthened it by six inches. I love long cardigans these days (my Pinterest page is proof of that). The wide shawl collar makes it so warm, and by cutting the front bodice pieces a bit wider than I normally need, I was able to make the closure have a bit of an overlap, which makes it appropriate for windy weather.

IMG_9093 2Next up is (no surprise) the Blackwood cardigan by Helen’s Closet. Who doesn’t love this pattern?

IMG_9242I’ve made this before, but this time, I really wanted a stripe along a solid front band for contrast, as I’ve seen that detail on RTW cardigans.

IMG_9225 3With this striped fabric, I got lucky! The selvege edge of my fabric was solid navy with a thin purple stripe, and I had enough fabric to manage to cut the entire neck band from it!! Such a perfect opportunity to add a fun easy detail to this cardigan.  Again, I made this version very, very long. The advantage is that the longer look makes a shrimp like me feel tall. The bad news? It’s so long, none of my coats cover it. Such problems….

My new cardigans are so wardrobe friendly since they go with everything in my closet. I know they’ll get alot of mileage! What’s your favorite cardigan pattern these days?

The holidays are coming and I cannot let the season go by without a new velvet make so that’s on my sewing to do list. Oh, I guess I’ll have to go on Pinterest and start a new ‘velvet inspiration’ page, don’t you think?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

An Easy DIY Knit Dress

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My love of swinging drop waist dresses will never die! Another drop waist look here)

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Knit dresses are go-to items in my wardrobe. They’re so easy to wear and to dress up so that they fit all occasions. I was really pleased and somewhat surprised when I found this yummy heathered gray knit at Joann’s. There are many (!!) great fabric shops in Portland (although one of my favorites, Fabric Depot just closed their doors last week), that I’m always surprised when Joann’s has the perfect option for me. I guess it was inevitable as they seem to be stocking lots of knit options these days!

 

The pattern for this swingy dress is New Look 6525. il_570xN.1674841253_rgvq

As you can see from this photo, the swingy nature of this dress is created in large part by the width of the bodice and skirt.IMG_8991 2

For me the trick to successfully creating the look I wanted was to keep the loose shape, while also making sure the bodice fit well in the shoulders and bust. To do that, I graded between two sizes, small size on top, widening at the hips a bit.

It’s really a fast, fun make – – you could easily do this in an afternoon! My knit is very light weight, a must to achieve the swingy look of the skirt.

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It’s pretty windy here in Portland and this dress really moves in the wind:), which is awfully fun!

There weren’t too many challenges with this simple make. The trickiest bit was attaching the skirt. To create the ruffled look at the bodice/skirt seam, you finish the top edge of the ruffle then attach the wrong side of the ruffle to the right side of the bodice. Sounds easy, but getting the placement right (and even) required lots of pins and a bit of patience. I think the look was worth the effort though!

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Mitchell can’t resist a photo-op. He’s getting so big!!

I seem to be all about fun, easy sewing right now. I’m sure the phase will pass, but I’m not really into wearing fussy clothes right now either, so at least my mood and sew-jo are in synch! I have lots of knits in my stash and they are really calling to me so there may be another of version of this pattern in my future, maybe a longer version, or the version without the skirt. I look forward to playing around with this look.

Future plans – – I’ve been enjoying everyone’s posts lately for the ‘sewing frosting’ challenge on Instagram. Because I’ve been RTW fasting this year, I’ve sewn many functional pieces, but I’m inspired to sew something frivolous now….We’ll see where that takes me. I tend to favor sewing functional as a general rule – what about you all?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

Burda Style Raglan Sleeve Dress

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It’s been so hot and smoky here in Oregon. Heavy wildfire smoke has settled over Portland, a depressing reminder of last summer’s fire catastrophe in the Columbia Gorge.

But today, things are looking up! The wind is clearing the smoke away, the outside temperature is moderate and it’s safe to be outside again. It’s the perfect day to wear a simple summer dress.

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Did you see the August issue of Burda Style magazine? There were so many great styles I could hardly decide where to start! I was attracted to this Burda dress by the relaxed but fitted style.

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Most of the shape is created by an elastic waist, and elastic bands on the Raglan sleeves, so there aren’t any darts or waistbands with tricky fit issues. There’s another big advantage of this pattern has…It’s only three pieces!!

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Burda 08/2018 #101 is traceable or available for download.  The fit on this dress was spot on for me, and it was pretty simple to trace the pattern pieces since there were so few.

As with all Burda magazine patterns, the instructions provided were minimal. However, since there are very few seams, construction was straightforward. Of course, inside finishing is never discussed in Burda instructions, so I just finished the neckline with bias tape and serged the seams for a polished inside finish.

This rayon (Fabric Depot) has the perfect drape for summer dress. It’s just the right weight for the gathering at the waist. I’m not a big fan of exposed elastic so I did make a tie belt from matching fabric.

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I don’t know why I don’t sew with Burda patterns more often. Maybe it’s because I have to trace the pattern?? Really though, compared to the time it takes to assemble a PDF pattern, it’s nothing. From tracing to hemming this dress only took a couple of hours…an easy Saturday afternoon make!

Hmmm, there may be more Burda style patterns in my future. What about you…fan or not?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Vogue 9313: Ruffled wrap dress

IMG_4968We’re experiencing a heat wave in Oregon, and the humidity is so high, my hair flips and frizzes, no matter what I do :). When it’s this hot, only a cotton dress will do, and this wrap dress is perfect for these sweaty days.  I became a fan of wrap dresses when I made this one last year. It was so cool in high summer.

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My pattern is Vogue 9313, a wrap dress with lots of “easy” options.  It has custom fit options with A-D cup sizes so it’s pretty easy to get the fit right. I modified the pattern a bit after trying on this dress at Anthropologie.

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  1. I re-drafted the shape of the full skirt to make it take out a bit of the fullness. (Too much fabric makes me hot in the summer). Also, I modified the two front skirts by rounding them into a tulip skirt shape so that it would work better with a ruffle.

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2. Instead of finishing the skirt fronts with bands as the pattern suggests, I added a 3 inch ruffle to each skirt front where the band would be and extended the ruffle into the hemlines as well. The ruffles are folded strips of fabric that are 1 and 1/2 times the length of the skirt fronts and hems. I gathered each ruffle with a long stitch then sewed them to the skirt fronts with a 5/8 inch seam.

4. I eliminated the front and back waist bands and lengthened the front and back bodices by two inches to make up for it.

5. The sleeves were too wide for me, so I added a tie instead of a hem. I cut a 4″ opening in each sleeve to accomodate the tie, then finished the openings with narrow hems. For the tie,  I cut a narrow strip (5″) of fabric that was two times the circumference of the sleeve. I attached it to the sleeve hem as though it was a sleeve band or cuff.

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I came pretty close to my goal with this make. It’s casual and comfortable but can be dressed up with a few good accessories. This cotton fabric from Fabric Depot is perfection. It has a bit of texture, but isn’t too heavy so it drapes really well and doesn’t seem to wrinkle much. Another travel dress?? Hmmm – – time will tell. I’ll know after I wear it a bit more.

Cotton and linen are my go to fabrics in the heat – and I wear dresses all the time. My Kalle shirt dress is in heavy rotation right now. What do you prefer to wear in the heat?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

 

An Anthro Inspired Peplum Top X 4

PicMonkey Collage-7Yes, I’ve gone a little off the deep end over this pattern! What can I say? When I find a favorite pattern, I tend to go a little berzerk, imagining all of the variations…and then, before you know it, I have four versions in my closet! No, I did not sew all of these tops since my last post. They were sewn over the last couple of months, using fabric from my stash (YAY!).

And regarding the style — well, yes, this top has a peplum. I was pleased on a recent trip through Anthropologie to discover that peplum tops are still hanging on their racks.

 

Whew…so good to know, since I have four of them.!

I’m always amazed at how fabric choice changes the look of a pattern. So I really love doing posts where I show multiple versions. This top is Butterick 6486. I also used the angled peplum on McCall’s 7052 on a couple of versions (OOP, but you don’t really need it to pull off this style). B6486 pattern was really easy to sew – perfect for a beginner. The only modification I needed was to lengthen the bodice by a inch so that the peplum would be just above my waist.

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This top (version A) is really casual and easy to wear in large part because of the fabric. It’s rayon from Cotton and Steel. This fabric was released last year, a result of their collaboration with the  Rifle paper company. This is top notch fabric, my friends. It wears and sews like a dream. To make this version, I shortened the peplum by 2 inches. I’m not usually drawn to fabrics witl small prints, but I do love this one. The color palate is definitely in my wheelhouse.

This version is in cotton gauze (FabricDepot).

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I made this version for one reason…to wear it with the necklace I have on! It was designed by a local artist using crocheted linen and linen tassles and I needed a top that would allow it to be the center of attention. For this version I used the angled peplum from M7052. This double gauze has extraordinary drape and is comfortable even on a muggy day.

This version is a stiffer quilting cotton.

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It also has a assymetrical peplum, but because the cotton has more body, it looks like a different top!  The stiffer fabric gives the peplum more structure. This fabric has a coarser weave too, so the vibe of this top is casual.

Last but not least, a dressier version from a poly blend fabric with cut outs.

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Of course, I couldn’t resist trying a version out of something lacy! I had this fabric in my stash, purchased last summer, and only had a yard and a third, not enough for sleeves. To let the cutout design of this fabric shine, I lined the bodice with peach colored lining. This version is fun to wear with jeans/pants, but also with a skirt.

Phew – – My minor obsession with this pattern might be over now….we’ll see! Next up, I’ll be working on some pants and skirts to go with these. I’m heading to France in September so am thinking travel wardrobe as I sew right now.

In another sewing news..This week on Crafting a Rainbow, (great blog, check it out!!) Gillian drafted a great post calling for a blogging renaissance. Her thoughts really resonated with me, so I thought I’d share some of my own thoughts on the topic.  In spite of the way Instagram has grabbed the sewing world’s attention, I remain committed to this blog and to following lots of others (see the side bar for my favorites).  Instagram is a fun place to get a quick fix, but I’m constantly frustrated by the fact that there seems to be absolutely no way for me to control what shows up in my feed. I follow alot of people, yet I only see a very curated collection of posts based on some strange algorithm defined by the folks at Instagram. (Is anyone else frustrated by this?!?)  Since I like to control my personal feed,  and since I like the personal story behind the makes…(the details, the inspiration), I head to sewing blogs for that conversation. I do visit Instagram too, but only a couple of times a week. More just stresses me out. I’d love to know your thoughts….

I really appreciate you, and hope we can continue to share and chat for a long time to come.  Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A off-the-shoulder look inspired by Theory

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As you all know, I love a good designer knock-off, and Theory is one of my favorite designer lines. Last fall, a friend of mine wore the Theory shirt (on the left) to a dinner at my house, and I was smitten. She wore the shirt a bit off the shoulder and I loved the way the the gathered neckline was created by a drawstring.

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To create my knock off version, I used Simplicity 8550 as a template.

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The best news about this pattern is that I found it for a $1.99 at Joann’s!!  I have so many sewing patterns, I can only justify an addition if it’s a bargain. Yes, Indie patterns are great options, but you can’t beat the price when the Big Four go on sale.

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The neckline of the Simplicity top is similar to the Theory shirt in design, but it’s a bit wider. Also, it doesn’t have a drawstring closure.PicMonkey Collage-6To add a drawstring at the neckline: First, I adjusted the neck opening to make it a bit smaller. To do this, I took a half an inch out of the front and back bodice pattern at the center front and center back. Because the cut of this shirt is so loose in the shoulders and bodice, that adjustment did nothing to the comfort or fit of the top. To make the channel for the drawstring (a simple black ribbon), I replaced the neck facing with a strip of bias tape, and inserted the ribbon through that. Pretty simple modification…

Other adjustments: I tapered the bodice a bit by adding two eyelash darts in the back from the shoulders to the waist. Even though the Theory shirt is collarless, I couldn’t resist adding some drama with a big collar.

I was tempted to use Chambray for the top for my knock off, but decided I have too much blue in my wardrobe. It’s time for a new color…red! This cotton is from Fabric Depot and it has just the right amount of body for the collar – yet isn’t too stiff for the drawstring/gathered neck.

 

 

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This top was definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants project, and I feel lucky that it turned out so well:) I love the fact that, with a tug on the drawstring, I can adjust the neckline of this shirt as the mood strikes. The color is nice for a change too. This top won’t be a wardrobe orphan because it works so well with my favorite Ginger jeans and with my denim skirt too.

Well, I think this officially begins my summer sewing. Fingers crossed that I get to wear it soon! Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A New Top to Add Some Drama

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Me-Made May is winding down, but not without a few more revelations that are worth mentioning. I used to wear solids and very few prints – – Not so anymore! My wardrobe is dominated by prints and textures. There isn’t anything bad about this, but I miss the drama that solids bring to the table. A well-cut top or dress with drape and style looks sophisticated and polished when there isn’t the distraction of a print.

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Ha – – Look at the volume in these sleeves! You have to admit – this top is dramatic, much more than I realized when I chose  McCall’s 7658.

There are many views and options with this pattern (Yay!), but I chose the long sleeve version because it’s still (always) on the chilly side in Oregon.  Because of the overlay, recommended fabrics for this pattern include chiffon, Georgette and sheers. I didn’t have any of those in my stash, but I did have a lightweight sheer knit so I gave that a try.

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This style looked complicated to me, but the construction steps weren’t hard at all. The long sleeve version has the sleeves built right into the overlay, so makes them a breeze to sew. The trickiest part of the make was the sleeve cuff. You’re supposed to insert elastic to give the cuff a gathered look. I chose to skip that part, since you’d never see those details on my fabric anyway, so I just inserted the cuff without the elastic. The finish of the overlay is simple – – you just turn under the edge and stitch.

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Voila! A half hour to cut this pattern, one and half hours to sew! Not a bad way to go…:)

The bat wing sleeves really give this overlay some style and drama. It’s pretty obvious though, that the wrong fabric choice would make this style look, well, pretty hideous, LOL. So, if you’re inclined to give this one a try, stick with lightweight fabrics with lots of movement and drape.

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I’m happy to say, there were no adjustments necessary on this pattern for me! I know some people aren’t fond of  sleeves with volume, but I think I love this look….it’s sort of cape-like and fun. I just might have to make it again for summer with the pleated overlay in a lightweight chiffon…but wait. I hate sewing with chiffon. Hmmm, what else would work? Any thoughts?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!