Fern Top Expansion Pack + Alternative Neckline Finishes

As I was designing the Fern Top, I saw so many possibilities for customizing this blouse with a few really simple hacks. Today I am sharing a few of those hacks AND introducing an expansion pack for additional neckline options!

The Fern Top Neckline Expansion pack includes new pattern pieces for creating a V-Neck or Square Neck style blouse. When I found myself hacking my own pattern into these styles, I knew I needed to add them as an option!

The original Fern pattern and expansion pack includes facings for each neckline, but during testing, some testers mentioned that they prefer to do a bias bound neckline finish. Today I will show you how to do that! I’ll also show you how I finished the neckline of the Square Neck version with a lining instead of a facing, which was perfect for the eyelet fabric I used.

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First up: a V-Neck Fern with bias-bound neckline:

For this version, you’ll assemble the pattern per the instructions, but instead of attaching the facing, you’ll attach bias tape. You can buy pre-made bias tape at your fabric store, or you can make your own. I decided to make my own with a bias tape maker (I purchased this one at Joann…and it’s my new favorite tool!).

1. Cut strips of fabric on the bias.

1. Cut strips of fabric on the bias.

2. Pull end of strip through bias tape tool with about 1” sticking out to get it started.

2. Pull end of strip through bias tape tool with about 1” sticking out to get it started.

3. Iron the end to get it started.

3. Iron the end to get it started.

4. Then flip it over to slowly iron on the “right” side while you gently pull the bias tape maker away from the iron.

4. Then flip it over to slowly iron on the “right” side while you gently pull the bias tape maker away from the iron.

Voila! Bias tape!

Voila! Bias tape!

Next, I carefully pinned the bias tape edge, right sides together, to the perimeter of the neckline. You want to get the fold along one side to line up with the seam line (You can see here that my bias tape fold was actually a little too narrow, but I just tried to maintain the seam allowance by pinning it about 1/4” from the raw edge of the neckline).


I sewed the bias tape to the entire perimeter of the neckline, overlapping the ends at the point of the V-Neck. Then I clipped the interior corner of the V-neck (without clipping the seam), to make turning easier.


Next, I turned the shirt inside out and folded the bias tape to the interior to press, making sure the fold on the other side of the tape was pressed under for a clean finish. Once it was all pressed in place, I clipped one of the raw ends so that it would be concealed under the other end of the bias tape. Then I folded the other end under and pressed for a clean finish.


Last, I pressed the neckline on the right side to make sure there were no wrinkles at the V-corner, and secured the bias tape by sewing around the perimeter of the neckline (I sewed this from the wrong side to make sure my seam stayed on the bias tape).


Next up: Lining the Front Center panel of the Fern Top

Another option for finishing the neckline of the Fern Top without a facing is to line the Center Front and Center Back pattern pieces. This is a great option for shear or eyelet fabrics to provide a little modesty without compromising and easy-breezy fabric!

If you go this route, you’ll want to cut two each of the Center Front and Center Back (one of the main fabric, and one of the lining fabric for each piece). I used an eyelet for this Square Neck version, and a lightweight rayon lawn for the lining which worked out really nicely! Also, my apologies for photographing white fabric on a WHITE background…seemed like a good idea at the time! Idunno why!


We’re going to do things a bit out of sequence from the pattern instructions so we’ll have a nice-n-clean neckline finish! Start by sewing the shoulder seams together (right sides facing) of the Center Front and Center back of the main fabric and lining, separately:


Then pin the lining to the main pieces, right sides together, lining up the shoulder seams and neckline, and sew the perimeter of the neck opening:


Clip into the seam allowance at the corners and the curved areas to make turning easier. You’ll also want to trim the seam allowance down to about 1/4” (not shown). Turn everything right side out and press. Then understitch the lining to the seam allowance on the interior and press again.


Baste the two layers together around the outer edges, just inside the seam allowance, to hold everything in place. Now we can add the sleeves!


Sew the shoulder seams of the sleeves (right sides together) and finish the seams to your preference. Then attach the sleeves to the Center Front/Back, right sides together, lining up the shoulder seams and edges. Finish the seams with your preferred method.


Turn the sleeves right side out and press! You can continue the blouse construction per the pattern instructions!


Finishing touches!

When you are finished, your blouse(s) will look something like this! I added a ruffle sleeve to the V-neck version for a little extra PIZZAZZ! See below for how I did that!


How to add a ruffle sleeve

Once you have constructed your blouse, instead of hemming or adding the sleeve cuff included in the pattern, you will cut a strip of fabric that is about 5 inches longer than the Sleeve Cuff Pattern Piece length (if you want a more dramatic ruffle, make your piece longer). I made the width roughly 3 inches wide.


Sew a loose basting stitch along one edge and leave a thread tail that is a few inches long so it’s easy to pull. Pull the thread tail to gather the edge and create a ruffle. (also, I forgot to do this, but it is a good idea to finish the short edges of the strip before doing this step, especially if serging.)


Right sides together, align the gathered edge of the strip with the raw sleeve edge and distribute the gathers to make the ruffle fit on the sleeve edge. Pin in place and baste the ruffle to the sleeve to ensure a clean join before sewing and finishing the seam to your preference. Flip the ruffle to the right side and press the seam toward the body of the blouse.


Hem the ruffle by folding the raw edge to the wrong side twice by approximately 1/4” each time. Press and topstich the hem in place.


And that’s it! Have fun flauntin’ your flounce!


Anthropologie-Inspired Thrift Store Score Refashions (and some thoughts on creative passion and Me-Made May)

I’ve always been a fan of Anthropologie style. I pin wardrobe inspiration from their site constantly on my handmade wardrobe inspo Pinterest board, especially when I am looking for ideas for beautiful fabrics that I’m not sure what to use for.

That was certainly the case when I stumbled across these two “magic skirts” at a local thrift store (if you find yourself in Lansing, MI, be sure to stop by Community Finery, located in the REO Town Marketplace!). They each had two layers of what looked to be vintage screen printed silk fabric. Since I don’t really wear skirts, and since I really, really loved the fabrics (!!), I decided I would take them apart and make something new out of them.


I already had the idea for a reversible Ogden Cami with tie straps (inspired by a Madewell tank I found a couple of weeks ago, but now can’t find a link to the listing—it might be sold out), and I had a vague concept of a loose and drapey oversized, lightweight cardigan. So off to the Anthropologie website I went! And found the following muses for my refashion:

LINK  to Madewell

LINK to Madewell

Then I started trying to find the right sewing pattern (I already had the Ogden Cami pattern). I searched around on some of the indie pattern designer sites first, looking for something that would work, or something that I could hack into what I wanted. After a little time, I decided that I didn’t want to risk ruining the fabric by getting too experimental, so I headed over to the Burda Style website. They almost ALWAYS have something that I am looking for—their catalog is enormous—and they have reasonably-priced PDF downloads, aka: instant gratification! The only caveat with most of the Burda patterns is that the instructions are not very in-depth and it takes a little sewing know-how to follow along since they don’t usually have images to accompany the instructions.

Anyhow! I found this knot front blouse on the Burda website and snatched it right up!


But first, I made my reversible Ogden Cami:

I’ve made several of this pattern and my only beef with it is that the straps don’t hide my bra straps. But that’s an easy fix! I addressed it here by creating an extension on the bodice for the straps (using the Ogden strap length as a guide—I made each strap about 10” long so that I could tie them, and I tapered the ends). Instead of cutting the lining to stop below the bust, I just cut two of each bodice piece—one of each fabric for the front and back. After sewing the side seams of the bodice for the exterior and lining separately, I then sewed the exterior and lining pieces together around the arm holes, straps, and neckline in one continuous seam (right sides together) and then turned it all right side out and pressed. EASY!


The little ties are SO CUTE and my bra straps are more concealed. I decided to forgo the understitching around the neckline because it never comes out neatly on fabrics like this for me. I think my machine is a little too rough for it! But I love the way this tank turned out, and IT’S REVERSIBLE! Two tanks in one, perfecto!


And then, I made the cardigan…

This was one of those projects that made me feel pretty proud. I knew I wouldn’t have enough of one of the fabrics to make an entire cardigan, so I just embraced the floral-pattern-mixing glory of it all and went wild!

I only had a very little part of the navy blue floral fabric, and of course that one was my fave! So I spent the most time trying to position the front bodice pieces just so to have it be a feature on the blouse. It barely fit onto the pattern piece (and I also kept reminding myself to add seam allowance—most Burda patterns don’t have it included!).

After positioning the front, I worked my way through the pattern pieces, starting with the largest pieces first, and double checking that the pieces would fit in the fabrics I wanted for each piece. It was a measure-ten-times-cut-once sort of strategy!


There were many “SQUEEE!” moments as I sewed it all together. And it came together very quickly. I used my serger for all of the exposed seams and my sewing machine for any seam that would be concealed.


I’ll probably eventually make another version of this cardigan with more narrow and shorter ties and short sleeves. I can see so many possibilities for it and I’m happy to have it in my pattern library.


  • Ogden Cami PDF Pattern: $10

  • Burda Style #109 Knot Front Blouse PDF Pattern: $5.99

  • Thrifted '“magic skirts”: $32 total

  • TOTAL COST (both garments): $47.99

Me-Made May sewing

This project was a continuation of my Me-Made May challenge of repurposing thrifted clothing and materials, and I just have to say I am so grateful for this challenge! When I first heard of #memademay, I wasn’t really sure how I could participate in a way that would be interesting enough to keep me engaged AND meaningful enough to share publicly (because, hell, I’ve been wearing me-mades nearly every single day since I started sewing my own wardrobe—I’m already obsessed!). But this challenge really upped my sewing game and has completely shifted the way I approach new projects. I just don’t think I could have made something so beautiful without the focus on making something old new again. I don’t think I could have even imagined mixing patterns like this, or sourced fabrics that would have looked so lovely together on my own (but now I think maybe I could, because my brain has expanded a little after making this!).

How sewing is changing my life: A monologue…

And it makes me love sewing even more. This hobby has given me so much confidence…creatively and about my body. This time last year, I felt very “meh” about sewing and my wardrobe. I was sewing constantly for my other handmade business (fulfilling wholesale orders). While I was so grateful to be busy, I was getting so burned out sewing the same things over and over again. And I was super conflicted about growing my business, which was finally gaining some traction. I almost didn’t sew my first wardrobe piece, because the thought of investing time into a project that required so much sewing made me worry that I’d find it unfulfilling and not finish it. But my experience was completely the opposite of that and I’m so glad I gave it a try! Because now I’ve tapped into something really special that I didn’t even realize was there.

A little over a year ago, I was feeling so…honestly? Enraged…that pursuing my creative business felt so hard. It was like pushing an enormous boulder up a mountain at times. I loved that boulder, that I could be my own boss and be creative and pursue work that I felt I was “good” at, and that I genuinely loved. But sharing it and promoting it and trying to sell it felt off. I knew I had something to offer, that I was a really hard worker, and wanted to do something meaningful SO BAD, but everything I had to offer back then felt…just off. There was a disconnect, personally, and I think that had mostly to do with the fact that I was trying to use my talent and creative passion to please others with products that I thought people would buy (so that I could grow a business, make a living, and continue being my own creative boss, all really valid things!).

Sewing my own wardrobe has ignited my passion and creativity in ways that feel so inherent to ME. I want to share this stuff. I want to tell anyone who will listen about these projects. And for the first time since I started sharing my creativity with the internet (circa 2011, y’all), I feel totally connected to my work and a community of creatives. It feels good and natural. I feel helpful and useful.

So why am I sharing this? I guess I want to mark this moment. This feeling. I have always been a searcher, a try-er. A let’s-just-see-what-happens-er. That can be really frustrating when the searching gets long and drawn out, and the trying seems to fall short of success. When let’s-just-see-what-happens starts to wear on my personal relationships and completely changes my relationship with money…and identity. Gah, that boulder gets big! I feel like I have two responsibilities: to unapologetically pursue creative passion and purpose, and simultaneously acknowledge the societal pressure to be successful in a more traditional sense (get a job, be financially secure and predictable, etc.). So I am constantly waffling between the elation of creative freedom and the guilt of not following a traditional path.

Okay, so I’m writing and writing and feelings are coming out and this is getting long-winded (it’s my blog, I don’t care! Okay, I care a little…). My point is, I tried something new that stuck and it’s changing my world in the best ways. I’ve tried a LOT of things that didn’t work to get to this point. And if I can offer anything at all to anyone that might read this and feel a sense of “ME TOO” to anything I just typed: please don’t stop trying. We need each other!

Ok fellow creatives and sewing enthusiasts! I love you, I see you, thank you from the bottom of my sewing-obsessed heart. Sibley, out.