Sewn With Hart: a rambling love story about fabric

I’m not entirely sure I know where this story begins…

Maybe my story starts in July of 2017 because that’s when the Fringe pattern was in testing and I met Dana in the testing group. I was introduced to Harts Fabric as they offered a “tester discount.” You probably know I haven’t met a fabric discount I didn’t love, so I ordered two different Cotton and Steel rayon prints.

Or does this story start in May 2018 at Quilt Market, PDX? Because here, I can actually say I met Dana. Physical, in real life, flesh and blood met. Not internet, social media stalking, fan girl met. We happened upon each other at Jessica Swift’s Art Gallery Fabrics booth. I had sewn Jessica a Fringe dress with her Sirena rayon! Serendipity, my friends!! Serendipity. I remember Dana was wearing an awesome cardigan which I mistakenly guessed was a "Driftwood.” I meant Blackwood, but my star struck brain combined Driftless and Blackwood. It was neither of those, but rather a Jalie pattern. I digress!

So hey, the year is now 2019. And it’s February. It’s Harts Fabric’s month of self love sewing, #SewnWithHart, and I’m the caboose on the blogger train. My project was inspired by my need for an outfit for a ladies night event in early March.

With a “Miami Heat” theme for this year, I knew I wanted to make something sassy. Enter Named’s Ailakki jumpsuit!

I NEVER thought I would make a jumpsuit. EVER. But suddenly it seemed like the perfect project for my event. It called for a new hashtag! #lonisewsajumpsuit

Right. How did I even wind up at Quilt Market in PDX? It’s crazy. But that story also starts with an internet friendship formed over fabric. I have the Cleverest of Colleens to thank. She also goes by Gwyn, The Fabricsourcerer. If there’s ever a very specific fabric you need found, she is your woman. I met Gwyn after falling in love with the fabric line she designed for Raspberry Creek Fabrics in early 2017. I’ll share more details when Gwyn gets around to writing the exposé, but it all started here:

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So I went to PDX to irl meet The Gwyn, wearer of buffalo plaid and drinker of vodka.

OK. Yes, you’re here for the JUMPSUIT. I was completely intrigued by the tencel gabardine in Harts’ selection and it sounded perfect for Ailakki. (Named’s cover sample is made from cupro twill.) When I received it, I was instantly in love. It’s the holy grail of tencel twill. Soft, thick, drapey. In one word: DELICIOUS.

I pulled an odd-shaped scrap of rayon for the lining, one of the two Cotton and Steel prints I had purchased during Fringe testing. (It never became a Fringe, but rather another Chalk and Notch design, Farrah!) It didn’t really occur to me until I was starting to think about writing up this blog post, but the lining fabric had also traveled through Harts’ hands, albeit over 2 years earlier. Kismet!

Now, a detail-oriented sewist doesn’t just cut striped fabric all willy-nilly like. (I mean I used to. before I knew what pattern matching was. I’m sure if you scroll far back enough on my insta grid you’ll find some examples… #neverstoplearning ) So, I fussy cut the Ailakki bodice to match the stripes across the front, back and sides. And this is when I decided this Cotton and Steel beauty couldn’t just be the lining. It needed to also be SEEN!

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Long story short, I ended up with a reversible Ailakki top! (#lonididntsewajumpsuit)

The fitting was challenging. For one thing, it’s rather hard to pin a bodice to one’s own back. I asked my husband for some help at one point, and it didn’t end well. (He snagged the rayon!) I’m glad our marriage survived! I don’t have a proper dress form that approximates my shape and size. I have a simple mannequin I bought secondhand from a woman who used to use it to model LuLaRue. She’s great for general modeling, but she’s not a form one can use for fitting. (Her name is Tina, btw. And I’d like to think Tina is much more well-dressed now.) To make things easier, I ended up removing 2.5” from the center back, skipping the zipper, and sewing the seam shut.

yes. a flying pig.

yes. a flying pig.

I tried to eliminate some of the gaping at the keyhole by removing a wedge from the bodice edge starting at the dart. But the waist darts are quite large and probably in the wrong place as far as my apex goes, but only you, me, and the sewing community at large will notice. Certainly none of the inebriated ladies at my ladies night event will care!

I am also slightly concerned I might experience a Janet Jackson halftime show moment while dancing in this top, so I plan on affixing my lady lumps up in there somehow. The Sparkly Ladies have already assured me that they won’t mind! *snort*

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I added a long tie that finishes at 3” wide to the bottom. The rayon had to be pieced. We’re talking 5 or 6 seams in that puppy and there are essentially no usable bits left!

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I love that with the long ties, there’s a bit of versatility in styling.

One last look at the scrumptious tencel gabardine. That twill weave! Swoon.

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I have about 2 yards of this tencel gabardine left and I’m in the process of transforming it into coordinating bottoms for my “fauxsuit.” At the time that this post was due, I hadn’t finished, but I’m sure I’ll be sharing them soon!

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Thank you, Harts!! It’s always a pleasure being part of your celebrations and sewing your fabrics (even if sometimes it takes me 2 years)! #stashhappens

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Anthro-Inspired Franken-Pants: A #sewfancypants Win

At some point in November (2018) I came across these pants on the interwebs. I instantly fell in love with the style lines and wanted to recreate them in the wine color.

The ankle button tab detail! Squee!

So I purchased the cardinal stretch chino twill offered by La Mercerie during Jess’ Black Friday Sale.

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After sewing both the Liana Stretch Jeans by Itch to Stitch and the Narcisse Pants by Deer and Doe for Sew Fancy Pants, I knew I wanted to combine aspects of both patterns to achieve the ready to wear pants of my dreams.

[Itch to Stitch and Deer and Doe were both sponsors for the Sew Fancy Pants Instagram event. I purchased the Liana pattern from UpCraft Club with my monthly credit (I have a month-to-month account) and I received the Narcisse pattern for free.]


The back of the pants are 90% Liana. I laid the Liana back pattern piece over the back of the Bryce cargo pattern (which I had also previously sewn) to eliminate the yoke.

(It’s come to my attention since winging this my own way, that there are posts out there (for example) about switching out a pattern with a yoke for one with darts, but I went the mashing route with 2 of my tried and true patterns.)

I used the patch pocket markings from Bryce to situate the welts from Narcisse and used all the back welt pocket pattern pieces and instructions from Narcisse.

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The front of my pants are also about 80% (I’m making these numbers up as I go along) Liana with a touch of Narcisse. I knew from my muslin of Liana that I would cut the front of the pants 10” up from the original hem to create the lower front vented panel. I took 2” off from the original side seam to make the side seam panel that would give birth to the front inseam pockets a la Narcisse.

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And here is where I made a mistake I frequently make when altering patterns. I cut my new side panel 2 1/2” (width plus seam allowance x 1) wide instead of 3” wide (width plus seam allowance x 2). Thankfully the 1/2” seam allowance was enough that I could sew the fronts with 1/4” seam allowances and not end up with a pair of pants a size too small.

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So anyway! The front pockets are basically inseam pockets. They sit on the seam I created between the front of the pants and the 2” wide side panel. This general approach was borrowed from Narcisse.

And the pockets are enormous! After all was said and done, the left pocket was too wide and overlapped with the front fly too much, so I trimmed it down.

Sorry this photo is too purple. White balance is for people who know what they are doing. That’s obviously not me.

Sorry this photo is too purple. White balance is for people who know what they are doing. That’s obviously not me.

This was after I removed about 3” from the top of the Narcisse front pocket pattern piece! The rise on Narcisse is higher than Liana and I just guestimated how big I would want these to be by holding the pattern piece up to my body. If I were to do it over again, I would adapt the Liana pocket stays to be compatible with an inseam construction.

Since the fly isn’t stabilized by the pockets in my pants, I interfaced the fly extensions.

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The lower front panel was the bottom 10 1/2” of the original Liana front. I attached it to the assembled upper front and top stitched the seam. When I closed the side seams, I simply stopped at the level of the bottom panel.

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I removed an inch from length at the hem so they would finish at the ankle (I am 5’ 5” tall). I also slimmed the width of both the front and back at the vent, tapering from 1” wide at the hem to nothing at the top of the vent. (I wear a size 7 shoe and this was perfect for me, but you ought to do some foot and ankle measurements if you want to be able to keep the buttons closed while taking the pants on and off. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to have to open and closed the buttons, but I don’t have time for that myself!

Now comes the creative part for creating the button placket/vent feature. I polled my IG followers and mulled it over quite a bit. Folks either said they would approach it as a button fly a la Landers or they would bind the seam a la Brunswick. I don’t own the Lander pants pattern and was familiar with Brunswick having recently tested that pattern, so I went with that method.

I sewed the hem before adding the binding. My pattern piece for the binding was 4” wide by 18” (2” finished width plus seam allowance x 2 by (vent height x 2) plus (seam allowance x 2)). I hope I’m making sense! I wish I had some simple illustration skillz. I just don’t!

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Then they just needed a shit ton of buttons. Lucky for me, I’m a glutton and had ordered a bucket load from my favorite jeans button peddler, Citron Jeans, about 10 days prior.

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These are 14mm buttons, so I used 2 for the waistband.

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Five on each ankle vent.

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And 1 for each of the welts.

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So 14 buttons and holes! Weee!

The end of my story is simply that I love these pants. I think they turned out pretty damn amazing.

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And my pocket bags match my Rifle Paper Co. rayon Trevi top (which I made last summer)! Kudos to that Clever gal, Colleen, for telling me to pair these 2 garments together.

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And they look great with my new Keds!

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I’m always happy to talk shop if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for reading!

Cropped Evergreen Jacket

I had been wearing my first Evergreen jacket a bit this fall and loving it, but also wishing I had another one… with possibly a lot less stripes, so when this sage sweatshirt fleece from Harts came into my life, I knew it was going to be great at filling that void.

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Now, I’m not sure I would call the color of this sweatshirt fleece “sage” myself. It’s more on the army green spectrum to me. But it’s a lovely color and it’s got a soft knit face and fluffy brushed goodness inside. It’s neither too drapey nor too stiff. Basically it’s pretty damn good stuff.

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Since I had made an Evergreen jacket before, I did have some changes I wanted to make to this version. Mostly, I knew I wanted a more fitted little jacket. (More on that later.) And I took my time adding some details; some seams have an extra row of top stitching and I decided to quilt the yokes for some tonal texture. And, if you know me, you know I love texture.

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I typically use a stitch length of 2.8 for my top stitching and I used a stitching length of 3.0 for the quilted lines. I can’t remember the last time I used a walking foot on knits. I find those clunky things too… well…. clunky.

I pulled these adorable cuties from my stash to use for the pocket bags on the zippered pockets.

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The zippers were sourced from Wawak. Evergreen calls for a separating jacket zipper and 2 regular zippers for the pockets. I went with the antique brass finish and army green zipper tape. I’d say they are a good match and look cohesive.

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Zippers can be intimidating, but since I learned how to shorten metal zippers last year by simply pulling extra teeth from the top, I’m not scared anymore. Bring on the fancy zippered projects!

The major departure I took from the pattern as written was to opt for a cropped look. I just skipped all the hem band pieces and installed the bottom of the main zipper 3/8” from the bottom of the front pieces. The seam allowance at the bottom left me room to finish the bottom of the jacket with a hem facing I planned to draft.

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Now, once I got the main jacket assembled I shared my progress on IG. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to finish the sleeves as far as the style or length.

The popular opinion was to add elongated sleeve cuffs. But I was itching to crop the sleeves. When Adrianna, the pattern designer, weighed in, the fate of the sleeves was sealed. I was going cropped.

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So I determined where I wanted the finished sleeves to fall (mid forearm; is that 3/4 length?) and ended up shortening the sleeve from the hem by 2”.

Then I set to making simple button cuffs. My drafted cuff pattern follows- 2” wide by measured sleeve circumference + (seam allowance x 2). (Roughly 2” x 10.5”.) Cut 4 of fabric. Cut 4 of interfacing.

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I lazily chose 2” for the cuff height because I love to use this 2” wide tricot on a roll for interfacing whenever I can.

I opened the seam between the front and back sleeve parts about 2 inches and bound the little placket area with a coordinating woven (coincidentally it was scraps from other Hey June this project). Popped on my simple cuffs and added the buttons and holes.

Gratuitous pic of my button cuff-related gear, so I can say, “these are few of my favorite tooools…”

yes. it’s a kid-sized hammer from Lowe’s

yes. it’s a kid-sized hammer from Lowe’s

In lieu of a facing I opted to simply serge and hem the bottom of the jacket.

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So here’s something fun that happened. I realized just after finishing both cuffs that I had only shortened 1 sleeve. Yup. One sleeve was 2” longer than the other. The left one, if you must know.

Honestly, it wasn’t terribly noticeable unless you measured the sleeves. I tend to push them up a tad anyhow. And again with the honesty, I seriously considered leaving the jacket as is until it bothered me.

At some point the next day, after a stewing in my mistake overnight, I realized I wouldn’t have to completely redo the whole cuff. I could simply undo the stitching at the sleeve edge, shorten the sleeve, and reattach the cuff with top stitching. The buttonhole and button would be spared. Well yes, you’re right. I’d have to redo the little placket again too.

And so I did all that and used my zipper foot to get around the cherished button I had grown so fond of.

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And that’s the story.

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I love to wear this jacket over sleeveless tops and I know it’s going to be perfect for spring layering.

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Cowl neck top pattern, testing sample- Taos Top by  Thread Bear

Cowl neck top pattern, testing sample- Taos Top by Thread Bear

My quilting worked out really nicely on one side. The other side is lovely too, just not its own photo on the blog lovely.

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I love seeing them side by side. So similar and yet so different!

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Both jackets are the same size. I find that because the striped fabric (ponte) has more stretch, it often feels much more relaxed, like a stylish sweatshirt more than a trendy jacket.

Linen Bryce Cargo Joggers

I only started sewing pants and jeans this year and let me tell you how incredible it feels to wear outfits that are top to bottom self-sewn.

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My hack of the Bryce Cargos was borne from my desire to recreate a pair of ready to wear (rtw) linen pants I have. These pants have a zip fly, cargo details, darts for waist shaping in the back, and a jogger-style elastic cuff.

I had (somewhat foolishly) tried using a woven jogger pattern first (Tierras), but of course there was a lot of extra fabric and ease, so they could be pulled on. I often need to grade the waist of my pants down to fit my waist (or up to fit my derriere, depending on your perspective), so naturally, I can get a better fit with a more tailored style.  

I really wanted to make sure the welt patch pocket detail on the rtw pants was a feature on my recreation. Take a closer look at how cool they are.

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When I asked Adrianna, the beauty and brains behind Hey June Handmade, if she thought the Bryce pattern would work for non-stretch pants, she enthusiastically said it was very possible, because she had already done it! (But hasn’t shared them yet.)

While I was making my stretch twill Bryce Cargos, I laid my rtw linen pants over the unaltered pattern and could tell I was on the right track already.

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In choosing a size for non-stretch fabric*, I went with the size that fits my waist well (8) and went up 2 sizes (12) for the remainder of the pattern. I simply took the top of the pants in slightly to fit the smaller waistband.

* My fabric actually does have some some spandex in it and is described as having 5% stretch aka not much, so for all intents and purposes, let’s just say it’s non-stretch

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The basic approach to these joggers was to trace off (a big deal if you know me) the pants front (with the pocket facing overlaid to eliminate the slash pockets) and back, widening the legs straight from the hips and then to taper them slightly at the knee point. I eliminated the knee darts in the front, adjusting the length accordingly. At the hems, squared up the bottom 1.5 inches to become the casing for 1-inch elastic.

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The welt pocket pattern piece came directly from the original pocket pattern piece, folded on the fold line.

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The construction of the welt pockets was fun (and by fun I mean challenging) to figure out. I don’t have a lot of experience sewing welts, but after a few scrappy trials, I figured them out with the help of this post.

I’m not very interested in writing out all the details here. #sorrynotsorry It would have been a snooze-fest. I’m more than happy, however, to answer questions if you happen to have any.

After creating the welt pocket, it’s simply a matter of sewing the pocket to the pants front as a patch. Press the bottom and inside edges to the wrong side and top stitch the pocket in place.

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I think my end result is pretty close to my inspiration pair. They do sit higher on my waist, but that is good; the rtw pair is constantly falling down.

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And they have pretty guts.

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I love that these pants can be styled in a multitude of ways from a bit dressy to rather casual.

worn with a Cheyenne tunic

worn with a Cheyenne tunic

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modeled with a sweater knit Lane raglan

modeled with a sweater knit Lane raglan

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Now that I’ve tasted success with my $5 linen, I’ll be using some more expensive fabric next. I like the Avery linen La Mercerie carries and as well as this (sold out) rust colored linen from Blackbird. A friend picked up a very similar linen for me at Mood recently.

I found Emily’s tutorial on the Hey June blog while I was working on writing this post. Check it out if you’re interested in an alternative approach to Bryce joggers.

Tulip Hem Pixie

The crossover or tulip hem is a great way to add some interest to basic tops.

I followed Brittney’s tutorial on the Hey June blog when I made my first Lane raglan last fall.

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There’s plenty of ready to wear examples with the crossover in the front-

but I might prefer the crossover as a design feature in the back.

Pixie

Pixie

My approach to this mod is in keeping with Brittney’s, I’m just sort of, shall we say, lazy, so I don’t bother to prep any new pattern pieces.

My current favorite pattern to modify is Chalk & Notch’s Pixie tee.

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Cut all the pattern pieces for Pixie’s banded view-

  • 1 front

  • 1 front hem band

  • 2 backs (keep mirrored)

  • 2 back hem bands (hem band, lengthened, see * below)

  • 2 sleeves and cuffs

  • 1 neckband

Take your backs, keeping them mirrored (wrong or right sides facing), and create the hem shape using a dress maker’s or French curve (or just your artistic eyeballs!). You can also use a straight line for this, but I prefer a curve. I like to make the curve somewhat dramatic with the high edge being about 6-8 inches from the original hem.

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Keep your curve away from the opposite side seam. Otherwise, your front piece will be longer than your back pieces.

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*Measure the length of your newly created hem. It’s longer now that it’s cut along a slope. Your back hem bands need to be at least as long as your measurement. Add a couple extra inches to be safe. They will get trimmed later.

Attach the hem bands to the front and both backs individually without stretching the back bands. Again, we’ve added a curve to the hem of the back pieces, it is longer/wider than the original hem. The bands will sit flatter and look nicer when not stretched.

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After attaching the back bands, square or true them, using a straight edge inline with the side seam, removing any excess length.

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Layer one hemmed back piece over the other. I tend to prefer the left side crossing over the top of the right. You can baste (or lazily pin only) the shoulders, armscyes, and side seams together if you like. Treat this as a single piece when sewing the shoulder seams, setting the sleeves, and banding the neckline.

The assembly otherwise follows the original construction order.

Do take care when closing the side seams to align the bands.

I did ok ;)

I did ok ;)

You can top stitch as desired.

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Now you’ve got a wonderful, business in the front, party in the back Pixie.

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Orchid Wrap Top

I try to live my life with no regrets, but I tell you what. I totally missed the boat in not signing up to test Chalk & Notch’s Orchid Midi. Part of my reasoning was that I don’t wear dresses. And the other piece was that I sincerely doubted I could figure out the fit of a wrap bodice.

Well fast forward a few weeks and I’m planning outfits for an impromptu family photo session. The ever opinionated (in the best way) and stylish Gwyn suggested a wrap-style top and I instantly knew I’d have to buy the Orchid Midi and adapt it to get the look I now coveted.

I purchased the pattern from UpCraft Club with my 20% membership discount while it was on sale, so I only spent about $9.50. A great deal, really!

I had been eyeing these wrap tops from Madewell for months. In particular, I liked the sleeves and banded bottom. The Orchid really has nearly all the exact same style lines.

I actually did contemplate making a dress for a little while as I was prepping the pattern. I was concerned however that I wouldn’t have enough yardage as the fabric requirements call for over 4 yards. At any rate, I pulled some scrumptious Pat Bravo Art Gallery rayon from my stash and cut into it without making a muslin.

After scouring the #orchidmidi tag on IG and chatting with a few sewists who had made or tested the Orchid, I decided it was a good approach to lengthen the bodice. Since I was wanting the top to be longer, falling below my natural waist, I lengthened the bodice at the bottom of the pattern, not at the lengthen/shorten line. I went with a somewhat arbitrary 2 inches.

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I used some cotton lawn for the bias binding of the front neckline. I like that cotton is more stable than rayon and therefore much easier to work with. I also decided to apply the bias in the “French” fashion for its simplicity.

I planned to skip the elastic in the sleeve hem and add a simple cuff for the sleeve to gather into to match my inspiration. I cut the sleeves the designed (full) length, just taking the slight hem taper out.

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The cuff I created by figuring out the smallest band my hand could slip through, approximately 8” in circumference. I cut 2 pairs of rectangles (4 pieces) measuring 2 1/4” x 8 3/4”. I simply gathered the sleeve at the hem into these simple cuff bands. (I noticed after the fact that my inspiration’s sleeve cuffs button. This style would also be very simple to recreate.)

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Now I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around (pun not intended) how the Madewell wrap portions are constructed. I don’t even have any wrap tops in my pattern library nor closet to consult, so I finished the wrap in the simplest way I could conceive. I simply added a long tie to the hem with a short tail (mine is about 8” long) on one side and a long tail on the other that wraps behind and ties to the shorter tail. For my size, it worked out that 2 widths of fabric (about 100” long) x 5” high was just perfect. I attached one long side of the tie to the inside of the blouse. I closed the tie ends, sewing with right sides together from the short ends to meet the blouse, turned these out, then closed the hem band by top stitching it to right side of the blouse.

closing the tie ends

closing the tie ends

That’s it!

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I mean. ALL THE HEARTS EYES, right? This fabric and this pattern were made for each other.

Ginger jeans

Ginger jeans

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I chose to wear my Orchid wrap with my Birkin Flares (the first jeans I ever made!) and some light brown suede booties. LOVE THE FALL VIBE.

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With the freedom of a free hem on this wrap top, I’m able to get tie it as loosely or tightly as I desire. I actually don’t find that I need to tack the fabric at the cross over or add any hidden snaps. I understand wraps are meant to cross under the bust, but that’s just not how I want to wear it. (Mostly because I don’t want to figure out what sort of bra situation that requires. Nope. I’m happiest in my simple wireless bralettes from Target.)

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I would likely make a few adjustments in sewing this top again. Really this one is a muslin. First, I would lengthen the bodice another inch and possibly widen the back bodice to match my inspiration more closely. I would also like a tad more room in the armscye. I think I would lower it a half inch as it feels high, especially in the back. I would widen the sleeve slightly, either doing a full bicep adjustment or since the sleeve cap has so much gathering, just widen the whole sleeve. I compared this sleeve to a tried and true blouse with a set in sleeve and the Orchid sleeve is an inch narrower at the widest point. I might also consider adding a buttonhole for the long wrap tie to feed through.

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I can’t wait to see how our family photos by Andi Roberts turned out. I imagine I’ll be sharing those soon.

Hidden Kangaroo Pocket for Halifax

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A few folks asked for a tutorial on how I achieved the pocket after I shared my new favorite sweatshirt, so today I'm showing you how to create a simple hidden kangaroo pocket for the Halifax pattern (Hey June).

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I had recently made 3 View Es of Halifax. It started with trying to recreate the hi-lo hem on the newly released Sunday Everyday (Ensemble Patterns). 

I think it worked out fine, but anyway! Back to the pocket, Loni. Focus.

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First, make a copy (by printing another one or tracing the original) of the Halifax's front panel, and cut it to the height of the pocket pouch you desire. My pocket panel pattern piece is about 10 inches long on the angled side seam. Scoop out a shallow pocket opening in the middle of the side seam, preserving about 2 inches of the original side seam above and below the opening. 

You'll be using this new pattern piece to cut a pocket facing and a pocket lining. The pocket facing has the curved openings and the lining is cut straight, without any openings.

Take your main front panel (folded) and lay your new template over. Then cut out the pocket openings.

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Also cut a pocket facing with pocket openings and a pocket lining (red) without the openings. If you are using a light weight knit, you may want to interface the wrong side of the pocket facing to give the pocket a little stability. I used ponte for this example and a quilted knit for my original design so I did not interface those pieces.

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Place the front panel and pocket facing right sides together. Sew or serge along the pocket opening curves (essentially between pins here).

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Flip the pocket facing so the front panel and the facing are now wrong sides together. Press. Top stitch the pocket opening curves.

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Lay the pocket lining over the pocket facing, right sides together. Sew or serge along the top straight edge, keeping the main front panel out of the way.

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That is it, my friends! 

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You may like to baste or pin the 3 layers together along the sides and bottom to avoid shifting while you assemble the rest of your Halifax as per the pattern instructions.

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