Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Itch to Stitch Holiday Blog Tour - Hepburn Turtleneck Dress

Today is the opening day of the Itch to Stitch Holiday Blog Tour hosted by Fleurine and Leslie, and sponsored by Style Maker Fabrics. I paired the classic Hepburn Turtleneck pattern with this luscious, black stretch velvet. I've been wanting to make a turtleneck dress for a while, and this was the perfect opportunity to make it a priority.
The Hepburn Turtleneck pattern is shirt length, with long or 3/4 length sleeve options, and it is quite form fitting. The pattern is written with negative ease (smaller than your body), I thought that might be a little too snug across the bum for my taste, so I went up a size. I did my normal grading between bust, waist, and hip sizes, but a size bigger. I'm really happy with the fit through the shoulders, and I love the super slim sleeve. To lengthen the pattern into a dress with a straight skirt, I simply dropped the hem 16", and flared it a scant 1/2" on the sides. I also added 2" to the length of the collar. All of these changes were tested out in a stretch french terry muslin first, so I could be certain of the fit before I started.

Style Maker Fabrics has a great selection of knits that would work for a dress like this. I was tempted by the sweater knits, but decided to go with something a little fancier for the holidays. The stretch velvet is the perfect fabric for this style (don't miss the other lovely colors!). The pile gives it a nice body, it has 100% stretch, and a nice drape. I used a solid 2 1/2 yards to make this dress. I relied heavily on the Seamwork Magazine Beginner's Guide to Sewing Velvet. If you've never sewn with velvet before (which I hadn't) you'll want to do a little research before you begin.
Pattern: Hepburn Turtleneck from Itch to Stitch
Fabric: Stretch Velvet from Style Maker Fabrics


Itch To Stitch is offering 16% off patterns until December 11 with code HOLIDAY16!
Style Maker Fabrics is offering $5 US shipping, no coupon code needed!
Follow along with the rest of the blog tour on Leslie and Fleurine's blogs! Or on instagram #itsHolidayBlogTour. Trust me, there is some really good stuff coming this week!


Monday, November 28, 2016

Madeit Patterns Drop Dress + GIVEAWAY

Please welcome the Drop Dress from Madeit Patterns. (I want to tell you about mine, but stay tuned for the details of the giveaway, and a coupon code below!)The pattern features a drop shoulder, and cocoon shape, accented with a lovely drape down the right side. I thought the side draping was going to be some fussy ruching detail, but I should have known better. Nothing fussy about the Madeit Patterns ladies. It really is made by the cut of the pattern, and drape of the fabric. This dress is as easy, and fast to make as a t-shirt! I had a completed dress, pdf to rtw, in an efficient afternoon. The front, and back are the same shape except for the neckline which they have cleverly consolidated into one piece. When I saw this simple solution to what could have been a paper heavy print job, I gave Olu and Anna a single sewist round of applause right there at my kitchen table. 
When cooking simple dishes, the right ingredients are key. When sewing simple styles, the right fabric is key. Drape is everything on this little number. I lucked into some luscious, burn-out french terry with 100% stretch, and a healthy amount of rayon. I was going to use it to muslin a different pattern, but when I saw the elementally simple construction of this dress, I knew it had a higher purpose. The french terry gives it a nice body, the rayon a nice drape, the stretch some figure hugging structure. I sewed a small at the bust, graded to halfway between a small and a medium at the hips.

Fabric: Rayon French Terry from Jomar 

Check out Lucky Shop on Etsy!



Monday, November 21, 2016

Gingercake Patterns Day Off Backpack + GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to the SweetKM stop on the Gingercake Patterns Holiday Gift Sewing Tour! The tour includes 5 weeks, 5 giveaways, and enough handmade gift inspiration to fill up all that space under the Christmas tree. Today I'm sharing the Day Off Backpack from Gingercake Patterns. We have a few other well loved Gingercake projects (Lola Owl Bag, Lola Owl Ornament/Gift Card Holder, Love Your Lunch Box), and I can't wait to add this one to our collection.
I've lost my kid sewing mojo lately, they grow out of everything so fast, and I would rather sew for myself. Making this bag has brought it back in a new way. Handmade bags offer all the fun of playful kid's fabrics and details, but will be useful a whole lot longer!

Scooters are our main mode of transportation around town. Each kid carries their stuff in one of those drawstring backpacks you get for free at fairs. They are great to carry a sweater when the day gets warm, or a water bottle, but if we're out for the whole day the skinny little straps start to get uncomfortable, and aren't up to being filled with a kid's share of the groceries, or splash park gear. I chose this backpack pattern so I could make a more substantial, and versatile pack for the kids to carry all day. The straps of this pack are thick enough that they can even carry their own library books (a huge relief to their bag toting mama!).
The Day Off Backpack pattern comes with adult or child sizes. Both sizes have a snap closure for the main opening, a flap over the opening, and adjustable straps. The adult version has a front zip pocket that could easily be adapted for the kid size.

I made a few small changes to the pattern adding 1" in each direction of the body, and modifying the straps for 1 1/2" hardware (because I couldn't find 1" hardware locally). I used the back piece for the front and the back, and used the top back piece on the front too, to make the casing for the added drawstring.

The fabric is a super cute, orange cat cotton print from Ikea. Most Ikea fabrics are a light weight canvas that is perfect for bags and pouches. Both denims are scraps from other projects. The dark denim has some stretch in one direction. I used a layer of interfacing to stabilize it and used it so the weight of the load was in the non-stretch direction. I modified the shape of the flap to fit a blown up copy of the cat face that I cut out of wool felt and topstitched to plain white canvas. Now that I have a good understanding of the construction I'd like to make a zip top version using the dog print from the upcoming Maker Maker fabric line. (get it...cats and dogs:)

I top stitched the word Meow along the base of the backpack. It was one of the first, impatient things I did, and I wish I had taken the time to get orange thread. I used doubled all purpose thread, but the color doesn't pop enough to do it justice.
L found one of the spare print outs of the cat face that I left in the printer. Based on her reaction she will be thrilled with this backpack, and so am I!

Gingercake is offering a different giveaway for each week of the blog tour! Enter below, and keep an eye out for more giveaways.

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Check out the rest of the Gingercake Holiday Blog tour for more great gift ideas!

fabric mutt / made-by-Sara/ sweet KM/ Gingercake/ Jedi Craft Girl/ Sew can she/ LBG studio/ cafenohut/ Welcome to the Mousehouse/ Blue Robin Cottage/ sewpony

Monday, November 14, 2016

18 Sewing Patterns for Winter Layers

I've got winter layers sewing patterns on the brain. After a simple summer of throwing on a basic dress and sandals, I want to wallow in fleecy tops, and wooly wraps and never be chilly again. I'm imagining a dark January morning when I can grab one garment from each category and look completely put together before I've even had coffee (I get the irony that I spend an enormous amount of time making my clothes, but don't want to spend much time getting dressed!). Here are my picks for must-sew winter layers.

image credit Schneidermeisterin / Sew House Seven / Itch to Stitch / Seamwork Magazine
I am turtleneck obsessed. I want every inch of my body to be cozy, the higher the neck the better. I'm thrilled to see lots of turtlenecks popping up in ready to wear this year, and even more excited to sew my own. I'm made a vow to myself to have a turtleneck sweater dress by Christmas, and I think I've finally got my ducks in a row to make it happen (along with a few standard tops as muslins along the way). I'll keep you guessing as to which one of these patterns I'm making, and let you choose your favorite of these sure thing designs. 

Karl by Schneidermeisterin - Relaxed fit, funnel neck dress. I have so many heart eyes for Monika's varied lengths, and layered combinations for this pattern. 

Toaster Sweater 2 by Sew House Seven - Relaxed fit, funnel neck, swing top.

Hepburn Turtleneck by Itch to Stitch - Classic form fitting top.

Neenah by Seamwork Magazine - Classic, curve hugging dress.

image credit seamwork magazine / named clothing / kzjo studio / grainline studio
A cardigan is an easy second layer for any season. I've already made a Driftless Cardigan (shown in black in first image) that could use a bit of tweaking. I'm hoping to replace most of my shabby RTW versions with more me-made ones in the next few months.

Oslo by Seamwork - Relaxed shawl collar open front cardigan.

Saunio by Named Patterns - Cropped, open front cardigan.

Eleanor by KZJO Studio - Relaxed, shawl collar, open front cardigan.

Driftless by Grainline Studio - A drapy version of a classic grandpa cardigan with optional button front, and large pockets.


A wool coat is my handmade holy grail. One day I would love to make a perfectly tailored, beautifully lined, timeless classic that I can wear into my golden years. Until that (I fear distant) day, I'd like to make all of these simpler,  relaxed coats. Any one of these lovely styles would make a great top layer over a tissue weight tee, or a thick wool pull over.

Coatigan Silvia by Schnittchen - Relaxed, integrated shawl collar, integrated pockets, open front coat.

Brooklyn Coat by Tessuti Patterns - Drapy collar, raw edged, patch pockets, open front coat.

Trench Coat #116 by Burda - Full length, shawl collar, patch pockets, tie closure coat.

Gerard by République du Chiffon - Tailored collar, patch pockets, button front.

image credit closet case patterns / deer and doe / named clothing / itch to stitch
If a wool coat is my holy grail, skinny pants are my arch nemesis. I know that the time, and fabric it takes to perfect the fit of hand made jeans will be well worth it, but I'm still struggling to make it a priority. I think everyone's heard about Gingers. I'm so wild about them that I accidentally bought the pattern twice! Then never sewed it. Let's dig a little deeper in the Skinny Jeans Category and see what we can find.

Jamie Jeans by Named - Pared down denim styling, with front vertical seams down the leg.

Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns - Classic skinny jeans, with traditional denim top stitching.

Safran by Deer and Doe - Simple skinny pants with optional denim styling. I'm using this pared down jeans design to ease my way into sewing the full pockets/fly/topstitched classic denim version.

Liana by Itch to Stitch - Classic flared jeans, with traditional denim top stitching.

image credit blogless anna / sweetkm
Versatile accessories are a great way to add to the outfits you can make with all of the layers above.

Genoa Tote by Blogless Anna - While I own more substantial handbags, I carry an I heart Philly tote bag nearly every day. I'm beginning to accept the fact that old habits die hard, and instead of buying another lovely leather handbag I won't use, I should make my own (more respectable) tote bag.

DIY Cape-Scarf by SweetKM (ahem, me) for Petit a Petit + Family - As soon as the Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel is back in stock anywhere in the universe, I'm going to start churning out scarves. I wear the sample a ton, and would like another for myself, and half a dozen as lightning fast Christmas gifts.


These styles are will be making their way through my sewing machine in the next few weeks. What's at the top of you must-sew list this winter?


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cotton and Steel Loveralls

This is the Loveralls pattern, a brand new kids sewing pattern released today by Petit a Petit Patterns. I am the very first stop on what will be an epic, month long extravaganza called the Sewing Block Party. You can follow along on the Petit a Petit + Family blog. During the first three days of the pattern release you  can get a copy from the Upcraft Club at 25% off, or use the code BLOCKPARTY for 20% off the entire Petit a Petit Pattern line all month long! Don't miss the Petit a Petit pattern tour giveaway (below)!

The Loveralls are a very sweet, modern take on overalls. The pattern comes with lots of options that could be combined to suit any boy or girl. There are 3 bib options, and two very flexible pant options. The pattern includes a zillion pocket choices (okay, that's an exaggeration. It's enough options that I don't feel like counting them), that could easily be mixed and matched for many different outcomes. I am often dazzled by what Celina can accomplish. I'm pretty sure there are 24 hours in the Canadian day too, but somehow she squeezes a whole lot more out of them. The attention to detail in this pattern is really impressive. Even the hammer loop has a clear diagram for recommended topstitching configuration.

Even with all of these beautiful options I had the nerve to hack a brand new pattern by adding a gathered skirt. Ever since Celina's first Loveralls teaser photo I've known that this is what I would do with this pattern. It's an idea that has been stuck in my head for quite a while. I went with the full heart pocket on the bib, with the classic overall hardware at the chest, and snaps at the side.
The fabric is Birch Floral from the Rifle Paper Collection for Cotton + Steel. I (and the rest of the sewing world) am rayon obecssed at the moment, and Rifle Paper obsessed. I think I bought the last yard available in the western world, but I've been reassured that more is coming. I love this print, and even better with the delicious swish of rayon. I basically cut the yard in half to make the skirt. I gathered the full width of the fabric. I would have liked to keep the front pockets, but I didn't have enough fabric for that.
For the bib part of the dress I used Art Gallery Denim left over from an Alder I made over the summer, the lining is from my last Gallery Tunic. My one flourish was to use the beautiful selvage of the rayon as the tag. 

L measured as a 7, I sized up to an 8 so she could wear it a little longer. I should have sized up even further to take into account that this pattern is written for stretch denim, and my fabric had no stretch. It fits, but I fear for it's longevity. 
I've been feeling pretty meh about sewing for the kids lately. They both had serious growth spurts over the summer, making it tough to ignore the ephemeral nature of children's handmade apparel. I would rather sew something for myself that I can wear into my twilight years than something the kids will wear for half a season. But this dress reminded me why I like to sew for the kids. A delighted 6 year old in a rayon skirt on a windy day makes all the effort worthwhile.

Project Notes:
Pattern: Loveralls from Petit a Petit Patterns
Bib Fabric: Light Weight Denim in Infused Hydranga from Art Gallery Fabrics
Bib Lining: Kyohara Large Gingham from Purl Soho
Skirt Fabric: Les Fleurs Navy Birch Floral Rayon by Rifel Paper Co. for Cotton + Steel
Boots: Kid's Cowboy Boots from Old West (ours are hand me downs)


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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fall Layers - Lou Box Top Dress

This fall I've been trying to think more about how the things I knit, and sew fit into my wardrobe as a whole. These thoughts are the natural progression from one who sews to learn skills, so focused on a welt pocket or hidden zipper that the garment itself hardly matters, to one who sews to build a wardrobe, and has the luxury of taking a step back for a better view of the big picture. My frame of mind is also influenced by the general feelings in the maker community embodied in Slow Fashion October. Simple as this dress is, it is a step toward a handmade wardrobe that will last a long time. I'm also influenced by the indie fashion community and its current penchant for capsule wardrobes, sustainably made clothing, and minimalist closets. 

All that to say that when I made my fall and winter sewing plans, I thought of the individual garments as a flexible collection of versatile layers. When these pieces are pared with the things I have in my current closet rotation they will make a more versatile wardrobe. Nothing that will stop traffic, but it makes me feel good. This dress in particular makes me feel very good. It is effortless to throw on, and when I get tired of its simplicity (could that ever happen?!) I can layer it up to add interest. It is a modified Lou Box Top that I am calling Layer #1.
If you're questioning the need for such a simple pattern, take heart, I have sewn the Lou Box Top from Sew DIY at least 5 times. It's a useful and dependable starting point for making all your unstructured top dreams come true. You could also use the Blanc Tee from Blank Slate Patterns (affiliate link), or Mariella Walker's Maya Dress/Top. I was uncertain about how I would look in such a shapeless dress, but after a little research (including the Sew Bon Lou Box dress, Erin's Maxi version, and a rayon tunic I tried on at Target) I determined that the key to a successful sack dress is the fabric. The right one would have a bit of body, and nice drape so my shape isn't completely overwhelmed. For Layer #1 I wanted something in the tan family so it could go with denim and black, and short sleeved so I can wear it in the summer too. I wanted a goldilocks length that could be worn as a dress bare legged, or with the skinniest of jeans as a tunic. 

This rayon modal (so said the bolt) is from Joann Fabric. When I found it I wanted to scream and jump up and down a la someone who just found Chanel at the thrift store. I would call this fabric medium weight, it's heavier and more opaque than rayon challis. It has a beautiful drape, and a subtle chambray-like variation in the color from beige to white. The cherry on top of this delicious sundae is that is gets a uniform crinkle texture after it is washed and dried! The lady at the cutting table was determined not to share in my ecstasy, and kept tut-tuting about how tricky is would be to cut. It was actually pretty easy to cut, and sew. I went back for more a week later and couldn't find it, also can't find it online. It was in the denim section, and worth a thorough search if you're headed to Joann. I promise to be a very good girl this year if Santa would only bring me this fabric in a light washed denim blue, and a dark olive green. 
The rayon is easy to cut and sew, but frayed like a son of a gun. I like the level of interior finish to be reciprocal to the complexity of construction. This top is the simplest construction around, so the finishes had to be top notch. Most of the body seams are clean finish seams top stitched to the body of the garment, and the side seams are french.  I added 1 1/2" cuffs to each sleeve, changed the neck opening, and used a subtle hi/lo hem. That's the beauty of a simple pattern,
I've got some more substantial layers planned to go with this little dress, but in the mean time I'll wear it with this me-made scarf. I'm sharing the scarf tutorial on Petit a Petit and Family today.  It's a very versatile scarf, and very easy to make. Go check it out!

Dress Pattern: Lou Box Top by Sew DIY
Dress Fabric: Rayon Modal (item #400152176316 not currently online) from Joann Fabric
Boots: Petty Ankle Bootie by Sam Edelman
Scarf Pattern: SweetKM Tutorial on Petit a Petit


Monday, October 10, 2016

Nani Iro Raw Edge Marthe Blouse

I'm feeling a little all dressed up with no place to go, wearing more sparkle and frill than than you usually encounter on a Tuesday. This is the Marthe Blouse from Republique du Chiffon. After seeing Ingrid's top, and Sophie's top, and Nicoletta's fantastic dress version I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. 

The Marthe Blouse is a woven raglan sleeve peplum top with a button or zip back closure. This is my first time sewing with Republique du Chiffon. The instructions are pretty sparse, and seam allowances are not included, but the pattern is well drafted, and the sizing is spot on. The details of most Republique du Chiffon patterns are feminine without being too romantic. I'm not a ruffle, or ruching kind of girl, but the simple designs, and modern styling minimize the fluff. 
The whole point of making this top was to have ample opportunity to use the unique double gauze selvage at the sleeve edge. Japanese Nani Iro double gauze is made of two woven layers, tacked together at intervals. I'm not sure how it's made, but it seems like it's woven in a tube, then flattened and tacked. Both selvages are just a creased fold. Even with the Nani Iro label at the edge, it's a very clean finish. I wanted to include the selvage and the text on the finished garment. I did this with a Scout Tee I made last year, using the selvage at the sleeve openings. When I realized the peplum on the Marthe Blouse was just a rectangle I decided to use the selvage there too. The only problem, (and there's always a problem) I didn't have enough fabric, but I cut into it anyway. 

Most of this delicious Nani dot came from Miss Matatabi (located in Japan). When I realized I didn't have enough, I was in a hurry to finish so I ordered another yard from Imagine Gnats, in the hope that it would arrive more quickly. My fabric arrived dazzlingly fast (thanks Rachel!). I was assuming the two fabrics would be from different dye lots, and the colors might not match perfectly. That angst was unfounded. The color and quality of both fabrics are an absolutely perfect match. BUT, when I got the American fabric I realized it doesn't have the same selvedge finish!! I wasn't about to blow more money on more of the same fabric, so I turned under the tiniest bit and did a zig zag hem. You would never notice if I didn't tell you, but after going on and on about the lovely selvedge I thought I should alert you to the difference.
I love the metallic sheen of the dots. It makes the fabric seem like you're wearing something far more lux than cotton. I couldn't resist matching it up with beefy earrings and shiny sandals. Now, to find someplace to wear this get up!


Pants: Purchased (similar)
Sandals: Purchased (similar)
Earrings: Shale Earrings from Bario Neal