Monday, August 13, 2018

Sewing White T-Shirts

Here is another installment of what I did last summer (actually the summer before that, even). I made 3 white t-shirts using two different sewing patterns. White t-shirts are often overlooked for more complicated projects but I think summer is the perfect time for easy, breezy, fast sewing projects.  
I made this white t-shirt during #simplesummersewing that I hosted a few years ago with Petit a Petit + Family basics like this took center stage. A simple t-shirt is perfect for hot weather, quick to sew, and gets lots of wear.
I’m wearing a short sleeve v-neck Lark Tee by Grainline Studio. The kids are wearing School Bus Tees from Oliver + S. J is wearing view A, and L is wearing the more feminine view B sleeve options. I came across some really high quality jersey knit at my local fabric shop in Philadelphia. Fabric this good had to be made into t-shirts immediately! They are the simplest of summer sewing. If you're in the market for a new white tee my new favorite jersey is the Telio Organic Cotton jersey*. It's a bit lighter than this fabric, and has a really nice drape and recovery. 
Adult T-Shirt Pattern: Lark Tee from Grainline Studio
Boy's T-Shirt Pattern: School Bus Tee from Oliver + S
Girl's T-Shirt Pattern: School Bus Tee from Oliver + S
Fabric: Telio Organic Cotton Jersey (substitution) from*

* links are affiliate links. Opinions are my own. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Denim Basics Dress

During the last few lazy days of summer, when no new sewing is likely to happen over here, I'm bringing a few past sewing projects back to SweetKM that I posted on other sites. I love this Basics Dress from Cali Faye Collection and it's time I post it here. I made this dress as part of Simple Summer Sewing I hosted with Petit a Petit and Family a few years ago. I made this dress at our summer cottage in the middle of the night. It's a quick sew and easy fit perfect for days when the kids would rather be at the pool than at home watching you sew. A tank dress is a summer wardrobe staple that can stand up to the most persistent heat wave. I like this design for its easy wearing drawstring waist, narrow shoulder straps, and scoop back. 

The simple lines of a basic dress make for easy customization and modification. One pattern can become many different garments with the right alterations. I have sewn this pattern before exactly as written, so I was already familiar with the fit and construction. For this version I planned ahead and made a few modifications to fit my own personal style. I added pockets, straightened the shirt tail hem, and used a bias finish on the neck and arm openings rather than the full lining. 
The fabic is Art Gallery Denim, light weight denim in indigo. It’s a classic color, and light weight enough to gather nicely, but heavy enough that it is completely opaque. It’s great for skirts, tops and dresses. 

This pattern calls for a full lining, resulting in an exceptionally clean construction. I didn’t need a lining with this fabric, but I tried to make an equally nice interior even without one. Simple projects are a great place to focus on truly polished seam finishes. I used bias binding at the neck and arm openings, and French seams at the side and shoulder seams. The edges of the added pockets are bound with a few scraps of Liberty London from my stash. The channel for the drawstring is a strip of fabric sewn in with the waist seam, then folded over and stitched to the bodice completely encapsulating any raw edges at the waist. The drawstring is a piece of grosgrain ribbon. I cut the ribbon in half and sewed 4" of elastic into the middle so the waist tie wasn't rigid.

Fast sewing projects, unlike fast fashion, don’t have to be disposable. I’ve been wearing this silhouette for years. With the extra care taken in finishing this dress, I’m confident it is a piece that will survive many wearings, and be a core part of my summer wardrobe. 

Pattern: Basics Dress by Cali Faye Collection 
Fabric: Art Gallery Fabrics Smooth Denim in Indigo 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Summer of Basics

How basic is too basic? I would say too basic isn't even a thing, but sometimes (like right now) I sew something (in this case things), and wonder if they are just too simple to justify photographs, or your attention. I like to document my making, but what is there to say about garments this simple? 

I'm not one to fuss with a fitted bodice, I haven't installed a zipper in years, and rarely even sew a dart. I made my last party dress in a year with 2 zeros. My outfits are plain, but I think my wardrobe taken as a whole has something (all be it very simple) to say. These humble garments won't stop traffic, their true value is in their usefulness as a group that reflects my lifestyle and aesthetic.

So far my Summer of Basics line up includes: 1 Adventure Tank from Fancy Tiger Crafts, and 2 self-drafted shorts. I say so far because I've got a summer sweater on the needles that is perfect for the green shorts, but I've also got a pretty full schedule and I'm going to cut myself some slack. We'll call the brown shorts a #summerofbasics alternate if I make my sweater deadline. 
Let's talk about shorts for a minute. I hate shorts. Hate them. I very rarely wear them, and only in the confines of my own yard and garden. I hate how they pull at the hips and gap at the waist. I hate the way they ride up when I walk. I hate all the tugging and adjusting shorts require. Thing is, I don't really hate shorts. I hate ill fitting, ready to wear shorts designed for a totem pole, not a real person with any differentiation of silhouette. I know ill fitting, ready to wear shorts fit some body, but they don't fit my body. So, I avoid them at all costs. Like shift dresses, it took me a while to remember that the shorts are not the problem, the fit is. I can sew. I can make anything fit. 

Both brown and green shorts are from the same self-drafted pattern. This design started as my signature wide leg pants that I love (some days) even more than my own children. I cropped and widened the pants design at the leg opening to make shorts that fit like a glove. 
Summer is a tricky season for making time to sew. Confronted with one family fun deadline after another I stretch the making day the only way I can - well into the night. One night just before a family trip to my parents' farm (where we spend most of the summer), I allowed my self a rare cup of afternoon coffee and made a solemn vow not to sleep until I had crossed three things off of my must-sew list. It was a bit extreme (even for me), as I was up until 4am, but the ease with which I've been packing for summer trips makes the late night worth it. Basic garments are my very favorite kind to sew, and these shorts blend perfectly with long past makes like this Dress No. 1 cropped into a top, and the Adventure Tank that is fresh off the ball point needle. 
The Adventure Tank from Fancy Tiger Crafts is my new favorite summer tee. I knew it would be when it first came out, but I dithered before buying it because I thought I should try to draft my own. I could, it's simple, but it's simpler to just buy a well drafted pattern and eliminate all the variables.

For the tank I used a nice quality Kaufman Laguna Jersey Knit from*. It's great for this design, and any basic tee. The brown shorts are my go-to Slub Linen from Joann Fabrics in Tobacco Potting. It's light weight, easy to sew, washes well, and I can pick it up on a whim. At this point I have a dress, pants, and shorts in this fabric all in heavy rotation. The green shorts are washed linen from This is a medium weight 100% linen. I love the weight and quality of this fabric, it's completely opaque and easy to sew. Next time I would make the inside of the waistband with a lighter weight fabric to reduce bulk around the elastic. This fabric would be great for Persephone Pants or Lander Pants. I bought the Persephone pattern when it came out. Time to stop planning and start sewing.
Top Pattern: Adventure Tank from Fancy Tiger Crafts purchased on Creative Bug
Top Fabric: RK Laguna Jersey Knit in Onyx from*
Shorts Pattern: My own based on self-drafted pants
Shorts Fabric: European 100% Washed Linen in Fig from*
Shorts Fabric: Slub Linen in Tobacco Potting from Joann Fabrics

* As usual, links are affiliate links all fabrics were purchased, all opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Coram Midi Dress

It's Coram Week over at Indie Sew to celebrate the release of the print version of the Coram Top/Dress sewing pattern by Allie Olson. Be sure to check out Allie's tips for sewing a Coram on the Indie Sew blog!

I've been wanting to make a dress inspired by the layered up tribal prints of Ace & Jig for the last little while. The simple silhouette, and collar and cuff accent pieces make the Coram Dress the perfect foil for my idea.
Once the pattern was determined the fabric was the big hurtle. After a few weeks of Me Made May selfies, I've determined my handmade wardrobe is heavy on staples, but light on statements. A girl can make a statement every now and again, everything doesn't have to be denim. I don't wear much print, and it's tough to shop for them online where the actual scale is hard to discern. I hit on Ikat as a good fabric because of it's loose weave and sketchy patterning. Stone Mountain & Daughter has a robust selection of coordinating color ways. I'm still torn as to whether I should have gone with blue and white because it's more in my wheelhouse, but I have plenty of basics, my wardrobe could use something memorable.
The Coram Top/Dress sewing pattern is a raglan style top designed for woven fabrics. I sewed an 8 bust graded to a 10 hip, with the 12 width for the skirt because it's longer than the designed dress version.  I added 12" to the dress option for a midi length. The side seams are sewn to 1" below the original slit marking. I shortened the sleeves by about 1" and raised the darts a bit (common alteration for me). I drafted my own tie belt (al a Ace & Jig) that is about 2" wide, and long enough to tie in a bow wrapped once or knot wrapped twice.

I used the Checker Board Ikat in Black (similar) for the body of the dress, and the Flame Stitch Black/Multi for the collar, cuffs and belt. Both are from Stone Mountain & Daughter. The fabric is a little more structured that recommended for the Coram (which likes something with a lot of drape), but I think the extra length softens the fabric a bit, and love the way it wears.

This post is sponsored by Indie Sew. The opinions are my own. 

Pattern: Coram Top/Dress from Indie Sew by Allie Olson
Main Fabric: Black Checker Board Ikat (sold out, link to similar) from Stone Mountain & Daughter
Accent Fabric: Black Flame Stitch Ikat from Stone Mountain & Daughter

This post is sponsored by Indie Sew. The opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Wool Jacket, Turtleneck & Wide Leg Pants

Pushing ahead under the category of figuring things out for myself is this self-drafted wool jacket & wide leg pants. The top is the Hepburn Turtleneck from Itch to Stitch. With this combo and the pervious sweater, my winter making goals are largely met. 
I had 2 goals with this outfit. First, to take my jacket from last year to the next level. Second to winterize my WLP collection. The turtleneck is just a necessary basic.

This jacket is the best thing I've made in a while. Its warm, comfortable, a little bit interesting, and has pockets for miles. The version I made last winter was a really good start down the road to kimono inspired outerwear, but it had a few short comings (as first attempts often do). The fabric was a cheap textured knit, the length was a little off, and the fit was not nearly as generous as I wanted. It was a useful tool to pin, and rip, and tweak into work coat perfection. The main improvement made with this one is the fabric. This wool/viscose from Blackbird Fabrics (orange sold out, available in black) is the perfect pairing of body, drape, and warmth for this style. It's a fabric dignified enough that no one will mistake this for a bathrobe!

The turtleneck is the Itch to Stitch Hepburn Turtleneck that I turned into a dress last winter. I wear them a ton of turtlenecks in the winter, my RTW ones are getting a bit shabby, and I'm too stubborn to buy more. This design is meant to be quite close fitting, so I went up a size and straightened out the waist shaping to give it a bit of blouse. The new Monroe Turtleneck from Tessuti would be a great alternative for a more relaxed fit. The fabric is RK Dana Jersey from ( links are affiliate links). It has a nice drape, but still has the body of a cotton jersey.

The pants are my self-drafted wide leg pants. I have 4 lightweight linen versions, and I wanted to try a more winter friendly fabric. The fabric is RK Ventana Cotton Twill from My WLPs could definitely stand a bit less ease in this heavier fabric, I would also take some of the bulk out around the waist with some back darts. You can get away with more gathering in the thinner fabric, these feel a bit overwhelming. Next time I'm going to try the RK Fineline Twill. I got a sample with this order, and I think the drape and weight would be a better fit for this design. Luckily, I don't mind tearing apart something I have just put together. #processperson
As an added bonus it works great with my last outfit too. 


Jacket Pattern: Self-Drafted
Jacket Fabric: Boiled Wool & Viscose (black in stock) from Blackbird Fabrics

Turtleneck Pattern: Hepburn Turtleneck from Itch to Stitch
Turtleneck Fabric: RK Dana Jersey from

Pants Pattern: Self-Drafted
Pants Fabric: Ventana Twill in Black from


Thursday, March 15, 2018

How-To Knit a Single Row Buttonhole Video

I am a pretty big fan of the single row buttonhole. It's the buttonhole technique used in my Simple Ribbed Pixie Bonnet knitting pattern. I have knit that pattern hundreds of times, ergo I have knit hundreds of single row buttonholes!

The beauty of the single row buttonhole is that the whole thing fits within a single row. This is a great technique to learn because it's strong and doesn't take much planning. I use it a lot when I'm improvising sweaters for dolls or little kids.

The technique has a lot of steps and can seem a little complicated to new knitters. I know I prefer a video when I'm learning a new knit stitch or technique so I made one to help you through the single row buttonhole.

With right side facing, move yarn to front, slip a stitch, move yarn to back and leave it there. *Slip another stitch, pass first slipped stitch over second. * Repeat part between * two more times for a total of 3 cast off stitches. Slip last slipped stitch back onto left needle. Turn work. Move yarn to back and use the cable cast-on to cast on 4 stitches on the left needle.  Slip first stitch from right needle to left needle and pass last cast on stitch over it. Slip first stitch on left needle back to right needle. Turn work, move yarn to back, continue to work the row.

You can cast off more or less stitches depending on the size of your button. Always cast on one more stitch for the top of the buttonhole than you cast off for the bottom.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Neutral Basics

This outfit has been a long time coming. I made the Archer Button Up before Christmas, and bought the Lark yarn from Quince & Co. at the end of August (geez!). As my skills increase I've tried to be more intentional about what I make, buying better materials, striving for a good fit, and giving each seam a thoughtful finish. I didn't mean to be quite so intentional as to take 6 months to finish!
I have also been thinking of complete outfits when I'm fabric shopping, and using knit pieces to add texture and interest since I don't wear many prints. I now have a robust inventory of handmade clothing, and I don't need another single top that has no relationship with the rest of my closet. Those tops are helpful for honing skills, but not always helpful for getting dressed.
The anchor for this look is the cardigan sweater. I have a medium weight RTW oatmeal cardigan that I have worn past the point of respectability. I still wear it around the house, but I needed something less shabby to takes it's place when in polite society. This is the much instagrammed Big Sister Cardigan. I like the construction of this cardi, it's knit as one piece. Even the ribbing at the hem and sleeve cuffs are worked with the body. The yarn is Quince & Co. Lark in Audouin. I really love the body and the natural hue of the yarn, but I don't love the gauge. The pattern calls for worsted, but a bulkier yarn would have served me better. I needed a US10 needle to get the gauge, making a much looser fabric than I like. It's a small thing, but makes the finished sweater a little less wearable than I had hoped. I already have a few swatches made for the Uniform Cardigan. If this sweater doesn't see much wear I will begin the yarn reincarnation process. No reason to let lovely yarn sit on the shelf.

The Archer Button Up from Grainline Studio is a winter wardrobe hit. I really drug my feet finishing it because cold weather had set in and I didn't think I would wear such a whispy weight top. It really adds polish worn under a jacket or sweater, and has seen more action than most of my other Archers. The fabric is the long sold-out linen rayon from Blackbird Fabrics. It's tissue thin and has delicate drape. It is also quite sheer, a problem solved by wearing a sweater over, or a camisole under. The Telio Mozart Linen from (affiliate) looks like a good substitute.

The pants are my now standard self-drafted wide leg pants, and I've already blogged about these. These are linen, which I wouldn't normally wear in the winter, but the roomy cut lets me wear thin leggings underneath.
I feel like a classy grandpa in this outfit with the boots, high waters and cardigan sweater. If i had some hard candies in my pocket and bifocals on the chain around my neck the look would be complete. Classy grandpa or not, I've worn all of these garments a bunch since I finished them. You just can't go wrong with neutral basics.


Sweater Pattern: Big Sister by Hinterm Stein
Sweater Yarn: Lark in Audouin from Quince & Co. 
Sweater More Info: Ravelry Post

Shirt Pattern: Archer Button Up by Grainline Studio
Shirt Fabric: Rayon/Linen (sold out) from Blackbird Fabrics, could substitute Telio Mozart Linen  from (affiliate)

Pants Pattern: Self-drafted.
Pants Fabric: Classic Slub Linen from Joann, could substitute RK Essex Linen from Fabric .com (affiliate)
Pants Blog Post: New Pants Like Old Friends