Bettine in Wonderland Rayon

Did you know that the shop carries Tilly and the Buttons patterns? We do indeed! Tilly has the ability to create patterns that look vintage 1960’s inspired while still being fresh and current. It is the best of all worlds in my opinion.

The pattern that caught my eye the most from her line is the Bettine Dress. When we finally got the patterns in the shop, I knew it was going to be the first thing I would sew. This easy-wearing kimono-sleeved dress with elastic waist has been high on my “must sew” list since its release. It looked like the perfect spring/summer/fall dress that you could throw on and instantly look put together. I was right!

I initially made a full muslin with some rayon, as I knew that was going to be my final choice for fabric. On my first attempt I put in the pockets, but I think my fabric was just too drapey, and it looked pretty sloppy. I know it can be done, as I have seen other people do it, but I decided against pockets on my final version. And the benefit was no droopy pockets and much faster! Win win!

This dress was pretty fast to construct. I think I sewed almost all of it during a Sip + Stitch at the shop. I am pretty sure that if there had been no distraction at all (which is probably not ever entirely possible) I could have it completed in a couple of hours.

I didn’t change anything on this version of the dress and sewed up a straight size 2. I was unsure about the tulip shape of the skirt. I am absolutely a pear shape and even in the final version, I am not loving the skirt. Should I make this again, I will just shave the excess off the pattern.

I sewed this up using the Cotton + Steel rayon from their Wonderland collection, which we still have in the shop. I have used this fabric before here and here, and to be completely honest, as long as they continue to make it, it will usually be my first choice for rayon. Those ladies have found a magical formula that feels amazing to wear all year long. It’s light in the summer, yet substantial enough to wear on cold days as well (layered obviously). The colors are bright and the durability is top notch. Yet another win!

When I sew this again–and I’m shocked I haven’t–I will change a couple of things. I will shave off the tulip shape of the skirt and I will also add in-seam pockets. I am tempted to try to swap out the recommended elastic for a thinner one, based on a dress I currently own that has this feature. If I don’t, I won’t be that upset. I am pretty happy with the elastic as is, but I think thinner would also be cute.

This pattern would be great for beginners since there are no closures and the construction is pretty straightforward. For those that are more advanced, it is a nice, quick project that isn’t just an elastic-waist skirt! Not that I don’t love elastic-waist skirts, but sometimes you need something else.

All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography

Sewaholic Rae Skirt in Metallic Linen

Summer has finally hit the East Coast! I have a great quick pattern for your summer-time enjoyment. Truth be told, these pictures were taken in April and even though it looks like I am basking in a warm sun, it was COLD! If you look closely, you can actually see the goosebumps on my legs! Brr!

This is the Rae Skirt pattern by Sewaholic patterns. The pattern company was started by Tasia St. Germaine in 2010, and she drafted for the pear shaped customer. Lucky for me, that is just what I am. I have a small chest, tiny waist but larger hips, hence the “pear” shape. Even though she drafts for my fellow junk-in-the-trunk people, I have seen numerous renditions of her patterns by non-pear people that look amazing, so  fear not! Tasia sold the business a few years back, and quite honestly, we haven’t seen much new from them. There are some solid, fantastic patterns, so the line is still quite popular. You will see her Renfrew, Cambie, and Granville still popping up around the sewing blogs.

This pattern in particular was produced to help people learn how to sew. I am talking about giving confidence to someone that has not even sewn a pillowcase, let alone a skirt. The instructions are fantastic for new sewers, and she holds your hand with every turn. If you are not an in-person class taker, this is like having Tasia with you every step of the way. I am not a beginner, but I love sewing this skirt. It is one of those things that I find flattering (which is tough to say about an elastic-waisted skirt!), a quick sewing palate cleanser, and yields endless opportunities to use up fun fabric.

My initial thought was to do this in a Cotton + Steel gingham, but I decided that with the way the pattern pieces were shaped, it might be a bit of an eye-sore with the plaids blending into each other. It might have worked, but I will probably never find out. I found something else to do with said gingham, and instead used the Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Metallic linen in red with a golden tone for the Rae. It is super fun!

This is my third version of this skirt, and I almost have it perfect. This time I added belt loops, which are a must. I was in a time crunch to finish the skirt so even though pockets would make this the PERFECT skirt, it is sadly sans pockets. Next time though!

I sewed up a size two and it fit pretty much spot-on. I mean, it does have an elastic waist, so fitting is pretty much nonexistent, but the amount of fullness is just enough for my frame. I really want to do my next version in something with a bit more drape. And with pockets.

All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography

Working with the linen was not a problem. I was concerned it would fray like crazy, but I just zigzagged over the raw edges and all is still good. This linen is a dream to wear in hot weather. I recently wore this in Athens, which was standing-on-the-sun hot, and I was very comfortable. The composition is about half linen and half cotton with a little lurex, so you don’t get the crazy wrinkles, but it is still lovely and breathable.

This skirt took me two hours to make from tracing to attaching the last belt loop. What could be better than that?? I will need to block out a bit more time for pockets next time, but still a great and satisfying project.

Have you sewn any Sewaholic patterns? Are you a fellow pear-shape? What are you sewing for your summer wardrobe?!?!?!

Row by Row with Salty Oat

It’s that time of year again! Row by Row begins next week on June 21st, and we are ready! If you aren’t familiar with Row by Row, here is the scoop: participating quilt shops around the US (and some countries around the world) offer a quilt row pattern for free that they have created for every person that comes through the door. Each pattern is created by the shops, so that no two should be alike. If you have a competitive nature, you can put together eight different rows, and if you are the first one to bring in a finished quilt (pieced, quilted, bound and labeled) you have the chance to win a prize of 25 fat quarters! Such fun!

We have teamed up again with Caitlin from Salty Oat, who has designed our row this year, and we are so excited! We thought we would take this opportunity to get to know a little bit more about Caitlin and her design process and have her tell us all about the row this year!

Can you tell us a bit about Salty Oat?
Salty Oat is a one-woman quilt business, which I run from my home studio in Framingham, MA. I sell both readymade and custom patchwork quilts, pillows, and a small line of hand embroidery patterns. I also teach both sewing and embroidery classes in the area.

How long have you been quilting?
I’ve sewn since childhood, but I began quilting in 2009. One of my first quilts was made from the fabric bunting we used as a decoration at our wedding.

What was your inspiration for this year’s row by row design?
When I was brainstorming ideas for the row based on the theme of “On the Go,” I kept coming back to the idea of tires and the infinite number of rim designs I see every time I’m driving on the highway. I thought it would be fun to create a somewhat abstract design based on tires by creating circles within circles, each of which is unique. I opted to use an improvisational framework for the construction of the blocks–each circle is cut by hand, hand-sewn, and placed at random in each block–so no two blocks are the same and no two rows will be the same. I also love how the random placement of the tires suggests movement across the row–perfect for this theme!

What drove your fabric choice?
Maggie has such a gorgeous selection of Liberty of London Tana Lawns in the shop, and I thought it would be fun to incorporate such special prints into the row. I love mixing different substrates into my work, and lawn is also a great fabric for hand sewing.

You chose hand appliqué for this year’s block, why?
Since this year’s theme is “On the Go,” I loved the idea of creating a row that you could sew while you’re actually on the go. Hand appliqué is super portable, and I love the idea of people working on this row throughout the summer, taking blocks with them to the beach or the pool, or while traveling in cars or planes.

Do you have any tips or advice for putting together this block?
Enjoy it and take your time! The construction of this block will require you to slow down a bit, as is the nature of hand sewing. Also, embrace the imperfections of hand sewing and be patient with yourself. I guarantee you’ll see your skills improve as you work your way down the row!

Thanks, Caitlin! We are super excited about this year’s row and we can’t wait to share it with you!

Photo of Caitlin by Linsey Hite

Frances Dress in Wonderland Rayon

I think I was on a posting roll for awhile, and then WHAM! Since I last posted we had Heather from Closet Case Patterns here at the shop, and I also went on a ten-day (10!!) vacation to Athens and Rome. Side note: in case you are curious if fabric store owners still purchase fabric when they are on vacation, the answer is a big fat yes. Hopefully I will get to sew some of the new stash before the end of the year, so hold tight on that front!

Before I got crazy busy, I was able to whip this little number up. This is the Frances Dress, by Green Bee Patterns. Green Bee is co-owned by Alexia Abegg, who is also one of the main designers for Cotton + Steel.  I will be perfectly honest, this dress is a full-on copy of the one I saw Devon Iott, a.k.a. Miss Make, wear at Quilt Market last fall. She didn’t do the elastic and had a straight hem, so I guess it isn’t a complete copy, but she is absolutely responsible for this arriving in my closet the store as a sample.

This is one of those patterns that kind of sneaks up on you. The pattern cover shows a contrast button band and collar, which is just not my jam, so I never really gave it a thought. If it’s your jam, you are way more of a risk taker than I am. It just kind of sat on our pattern shelf until I saw it in person at Quilt Market. Then I was completely obsessed and waited until the Cotton + Steel Wonderland fabric arrived.

Wonderland is the second collection from the Rifle Paper Co. and C+S collaboration. The hardest decision was which color way to use:  the pink/brown–a personal favorite combo, or the blue/black. I think either would have been amazing, but I settled on the pink. This also gave me a chance to use hot pink thread for construction and topstitching. I can’t say that with any of my other projects! 🙂

As far as construction goes, this dress is pretty darn simple and the instructions were very well written! The sleeves are sewn in flat (yay for no gathering stitches!) and the collar is a camp collar. If you aren’t familiar with that type of collar, it means there is no collar stand–the collar is sewn directly onto the dress. This takes some of the stress out of making a collar. Think of it as a collar with training wheels! It will get you ready to take the big plunge with a grown-up collar (with stand!). When I saw Devon’s, she didn’t add the elastic at the waist and it had more of a boxy style, which I adored, but after asking everyone at Sip + Stitch what I should do, I ended up adding the elastic.

One thing to note for anyone out there who is going to make this with elastic: I did notice that the elastic guide seemed kind of high (and double check that since I didn’t actually transfer the lines, I just remember thinking it as I traced the pattern), so I just made my own line. How? I just measuered up from the side seams and only ONE of the fronts. Can you figure out what I did wrong? I bet you can. Yes, please measure both fronts. Mine aren’t level, but you know what? Wabi Sabi, man.

I did not do any adjustments to this pattern either! I actually sewed it…gulp…without making a muslin. I know, I know! This is totally against all my rules, but I just wanted to sew something and figured that the loose/relaxed style of the dress would work in my favor. Which it did. Thankfully! The pattern is drafted well and everything lined up as it should.

All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography

Actually, I guess did make one small change to the pattern. It called for buttons, but instead I used our fancy pearl snaps in hot pink. I do feel like a superhero when I take it off at night, which is awesome. I am sure one night I will rip one of those little suckers off with my mighty strength! 😉

If you want to make a shirt-dress but are intimidated, this pattern is a great place to start. It has easy construction, a nice relaxed fit, and is super cute! It is like its own super power!

Have you sewn this dress up? Are you a constrasty-trim type of sew-er? Do you have your own super power?? Fess up! 🙂

Grainline Lark Tee in Liberty Knit

Remember when I said I had another Lark Tee to show off? Well, here it is! This tee is one of my favorite makes and gets heavy rotation in my wardrobe due the amazing fabric. We were fortunate enough to get a small cut of this Liberty Wiltshire rayon  jersey last year and when we cut the last piece for a customer, a small half to two-thirds of a yard was left. It was pretty small and I was unsure what I was going to use it for, but I was NOT going to let it go to waste. It went into my small (yet ever-growing) pile of hoarded fabric and sat for a few months. I finally decided that I could squeeze a Lark out of it, if I did the cap sleeves. And, so…my shirt was born.

I didn’t do anything different this time around with the pattern, except for using the cap sleeves. As I mentioned last time, I could have (and probably should have) shortened it, but I didn’t. It’s still fine, but next time around I will shorten it. I have my eye on a few knits that we have that will shortly make their way into my stash.

This rayon jersey was a bit slinkier than my last shirt and I did need to exercise a little more care with it during certain steps. It was prone to excessive shifting during the cutting stage, so to combat this, I did not cut the back or front on the fold, but instead opened the fabric out into a single layer and matched up the center front/back. I also had to really play around with my stitch length for the twin needle until I found a look I liked when finishing the neckline and hem. I don’t remember having so much trouble with my last one. It might be possible that since this was Liberty, I was being a bit fussier than normal. Haha!

I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating:  if you are looking for a great introduction to knit sewing patterns and wear t-shirts all the time, this pattern is amazing. Four different necklines plus four sleeves equals endless sewing and wearing enjoyment!

I also want to point out that this post will mark the end of my pink hair. You can probably tell that some of my posts were in a crazy order, since my hair went from brown, to magenta, to pale pink, back to brown with regularity. Those who have visited the store know that I had the pink for quite awhile, but that is all gone now. I loved having it, but the upkeep was a bit much at the end. Our backlog of photos and posts have now been exhausted and we are back to our regularly scheduled hair color. At least for now. 😉

So…have you sewn the Lark yet? Have you ever sewn with Liberty knit? Does your hair match your shirt?? Do tell! 🙂

All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography