The Sadie Slip Dress: Five Ways!

When Michele of @winmichele announced that she and @faithstjules were hosting the Flashback Sewing Challenge on Instagram, I immediately knew which era of fashion I’d be honoring: The 90s!

Maybe it’s because I was coming-of-age in the 90s and early Aughts, but I love fashion of that era (and the music!). It holds so much nostalgia for me, taking me back to a time when—admittedly, driven primarily by my teenage hormones—everything felt important! And meaningful! And when it came to fashion, I often drooled over the outfits in magazines and T.V. shows and music videos (Friends or MTV Total Request Live, anyone?). The reality was, most of the fashion I longed for was slightly out of my reach as a young teen who’s wardrobe budget came from Mom. So as an adult, I find myself drawn to the style, at a time when I can buy my own clothes, or even better…make them myself! BOO-YAH!

Enter: the Sadie Slip dress.

First of all, I feel the responsibility to make a PSA: Make yourself a bias cut dress!!! The drape and flow of this little number is really flattering, and I don’t think I have ever felt so comfy in a dress. Definitely an easy win of a project—it was simple to make and looks great on. I recommend letting it hang for about 24 hours before wearing to let the drape of it settle into the fabric.

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The Sadie Slip Dress embodies everything I love about 90s style…romantic, versatile, and effortlessly sexy. Yep, I said it. This dress is sexy! It is so timeless and definitely something that will be a staple in my wardrobe from here on out. I took on this project like a little 90s-inspired capsule wardrobe. There are so many ways to style a dress like this, and here’s my take on it!

Scroll to the bottom for sizing, fabric, and cost details.

Sweet + Casual

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For my first look, I paired the dress with a white “baby tee”. I actually made this tee from an XXL thrifted t-shirt (it looked like it was never even worn!) that I cut down to my size using the Nikko Top pattern from True Bias. I preserved the neck binding and sleeve hems, and sewed it up in less than 15 minutes!

The t-shirt underneath makes the dress bra-friendly, and I could totally wear this outfit with a pair of Birkenstocks (not shown) just about anywhere during my normal daily errand-running.

Coffee House Poetry Reading

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That’s, like, SO 90s! Snap, snap, snap…

I found this denim vest at the Community Finery vintage thrift store in Lansing, MI. I used to have a vest almost identical to this one and for some reason I got rid of it a couple of years ago. Bummer!

Again, this look lends a casual vibe to the dress and makes it easy to wear without feeling too exposed. I also love the worn, rough denim against the delicate, ditsy floral print of the fabric.

Sunday Brunch

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One can never have too many cardigans! Remember when tank top and cardigan sets were a THING? Maybe the was the early Aughts…but I love how sweet and sophisticated this dress looks with a simple cardigan. It feels very feminine, and I love that!

This cardigan was another score from Community Finery.

Alanis Morissette Concert

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While photographing these outfits, I put on the All Out 90s playlist on Spotify. Appropriately, You Oughta Know started playing…and you oughta know I belted it out, because I can’t resist a good fem-rock anthem.

The 90s brought us grunge, and I love the playful femininity of the dress paired with the rockstar vibe of black boots and sunglasses (sunglasses also thrifted from Community Finery—I love that place!). I made the little choker necklace with some velvet ribbon and jewelry findings from Joann.

Last but not least: Date Night!

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A dainty necklace, a slip dress, and some strappy sandals were all it took to complete this look. And that’s why I love this dress so much: it can be dressed up, or dressed way down. Either way you go, it just works!

And I made the little necklace with clearance jewelry bits, also found at Joann (I couldn’t believe my luck finding this little smiley charm on clearance for 97 cents! Perfect!).

Sizing, fabric, and cost

For the Sadie Slip Dress, my measurements put me in the Medium range in the bust, Small in the waist, and Large in the hips. I knew that since it was bias cut, it would probably be just fine to sew a straight size Medium or Large, but I really wanted to shape the silhouette and give the skirt a bit of “flounce”. So I ended up with a Medium Bust, Extra Small Waist (which I took in after the dress was finished), and I graded to the XLarge size in the skirt. I also shortened the skirt by about 13 inches after I had a chance to try it on, before hemming with a narrow hem. The result is exactly what I was hoping for, and the skirt has a flounce-y, flirty hemline that I love!

I bought my fabric from JS International Textiles on Etsy. The listing says that it is an organic rayon challis (but I am a little skeptical of the “organic” label, as I’m not absolutely positive that it is possible to have rayon with an Organic certification…just something to consider if that is important to you). The quality is great! I ordered 3 yards and still have a good bit left over for another project.

Total Cost for all looks:

  • Sadie Slip Dress PDF Pattern: $8.54 USD ($12 AUD)

  • Rayon Challis Floral Fabric, 3 yards (including shipping): $25.91

  • Denim Vest, Yellow Cardigan, and Sunglasses (plus tax): $22.26

  • Thrifted T-shirt (cut down and re-sewn into baby tee): $3.00

  • Choker necklace and Smiley Necklace supplies (with lots left over for other jewelry projects): $12.11

    GRAND TOTAL: $71.82

And that’s it! I’m outtie! :)

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

PROJECT COSTS:

  • 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.

Making a Jasika Blazer, Part 3: Fabric Prep and Construction

This post may get a little long, but hang with me! I’ll try to stay organized…

SUPPLIES

As I mentioned in the first post in this series, I purchased my grey wool coating fabric for my Jasika Blazer from moodfabrics.com. I’m very happy with the quality and the nubby textural weave!

I debated about whether or not to purchase the kits that Closet Case had available—I think they are a great value, but I also love the thrill of the hunt! And I thought it might be helpful to share where I bought everything.

The fusible weft interfacing, knit interfacing, and shoulder pads came from Mood Fabrics (I also purchased cotton twill stay tape from Mood, but I bought the wrong width and ended up folding it or cutting it in half for areas that required it—worked just fine I think!).

I purchased hair canvas from fabric.com. This was a little more challenging to source since I had no prior experience working with this stabilizer and wasn’t sure exactly what it was or which brand I should buy. After reading a few reviews, I noticed that some versions on the market are polyester, which is apparently not as nice. So I found this mostly natural fiber version on fabric.com and it at least looks like the stuff that is recommended and shown in the Closet Case kits! It is a sew-in stabilizer.

I planned to make my own sleeve heads, as those were hard to source, and I found a couple of tutorials for making them (and Closet Case also now has a blog post on how to do this). It looks fairly straightforward.

After all was said and done, my costs were maybe only a couple of bucks cheaper than the cost of a kit from Closet Case…so if you are feeling overwhelmed with sourcing, definitely get a kit and make your life easier! But maybe you already have a couple of things on hand and just need to buy a few items…then sourcing yourself is not too bad!

PRE-TREATING/SHRINKING THE WOOL

Wool coating fabric should not be laundered as it is vulnerable to massive shrinkage. However, it must be pre-treated to shrink the fabric a bit (I’m kind of an amateur at this, but my understanding is this will prevent additional shrinkage when pressing the fabric during construction and any environmental factors that may cause shrinkage down the road). I made the mistake of NOT pre-treating my Clare Coat fabric prior to cutting everything out and it definitely shrunk a little while I was making it. My coat is still wearable, but the sleeves ended up a little bit more snug than I would have liked!

I vowed to not make the same mistake with the Jasika, since I wanted a slim fit and shrinkage would definitely compromise my comfort while wearing it. A quick Google search informed me that there are generally three ways to pre-treat wool (oh, hey! These are also noted in the Jasika pattern instructions!):

  • press the fabric at home with an iron and lots of steam

  • throw the fabric in the dryer with a couple of damp towels

  • take the fabric to the cleaners and have them pre-treat it

I chose the dryer method—easy and quick is how I roll! I just wet a couple of bath towels (very damp but not dripping/soaked) and tumbled them with my wool fabric on high heat for about 45 minutes.

CUTTING AND INTERFACING

Once my fabric was pre-shrunk, I was ready to start cutting all my pieces. This part took a while! I used my altered muslin pieces to cut the main shell and sleeves (as opposed to retracing all of my adjustments, and this worked really well for me). I also made sure to transfer any length adjustments to the rest of the pieces that would be affected when tracing out the rest of the pattern pieces for cutting. By this time I was so ready to start sewing this thing already! But I tried to remain patient, knowing that all of my prep and planning would pay off in the end.

Marked new seams and adjustments on the muslin and trimmed the excess seam allowances

Marked new seams and adjustments on the muslin and trimmed the excess seam allowances

Altered muslin pieces used as pattern pieces.

Altered muslin pieces used as pattern pieces.

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Interfacing also took a while (as did cutting the interfacing). One thing I noticed was that my weft interfacing was really difficult to cut with my [ahem, cheap] pinking shears. For the pieces that required a pinked edge, I simply snipped into the edge at about half inch increments to soften it a bit and give it some flexibility to prevent an obvious edge from the exterior. This seemed to do the trick just fine!

CONSTRUCTION NOTES

FINALLY! It was time to put this baby together! The most labor-intensive part was preparing the front lapel and constructing the welt pockets. I chose View B from the pattern versions (welt pockets) and left off the breast pocket. I found myself constantly re-reading the pattern on this part to make sure I got it right.

Once the front panels of the jacket were assembled, the rest of the shell construction came together pretty quickly and I was able to start trying on the shell to test the fit. The only additional adjustments I made were to lengthen the front darts about two inches to reach the apex of my bust, and shorten the front of the blazer by an inch. I mentioned possibly shortening it in the muslin phase and once the blazer was on, it just seemed too long. The back was already short enough due to my sway back adjustment, so I gradually blended the shortened hem in the front to the original hem in the back.

When I reached the point of adding shoulder pads and sleeve heads, I decided that the sleeve heads were just too much for my liking. They were a little bulky (could have been the batting I was using) and I found that my fabric had enough structure to hold it’s shape at the sleeve without them. I can always go back and add them in later if I decide they are necessary.

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I took my time with some of the tailoring details and steaming. I wanted to make sure that everything had a professional finish and was symmetrical. I also left the stay stitching at the lapel in place until the moment I was ready to wear it out in public for the first time.

My last detail was the button/buttonhole construction. I decided to go with a pop of orange here and I think it is such a nice touch!

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FINAL THOUGHTS

I love this blazer! I have been periodically looking at my husband in surprise and exclaiming, “I made this blazer!?”. It’s such a nice addition to my wardrobe and I feel very accomplished for completing a big project like this. I have to say, this was probably the most mentally draining project I’ve done due to all the prep and detailing…but it was SO worth it!

My first time wearing it out was at a local bar/restaurant. Luckily, the cold weather stuck around in Michigan a little longer so I could wear it. Never thought I’d be glad about cold weather hanging around too long…

Click here to see the money shot(s) of my finished blazer :)

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A (Short) Cambria Duster with Flat Felled Seams

At the end of last year, I was a new convert to the wardrobe sewing craze and looking for new projects to sew like A MAD WOMAN. I knew that I needed to get more focused and pick items that were not only fun to sew, but also beautiful staple wardrobe pieces. Enter: The Cambria Duster by Friday Pattern Company.

I saw this project pop up several times on Instagram and loved the elegant and easy style of it. I’d also been searching for a shawl collar wrap jacket pattern and really liked the wide lapel detail on the Cambria. The only thing was…as much as I loved the drama of a long duster style, I wondered if I would get much use out of it because it’s it’s not something I would feel comfortable wearing without feeling overdone on a normal day (and I want to wear it a lot!).

So I decided to shorten it! I can’t take full credit for this idea—I also saw this on Instagram from a few posters.

By shortening it, the style transforms into a chic spring wrap jacket. And I love it!

FABRIC

I chose a creamy off-white Linen-Rayon fabric from Joann (I had trouble finding a link to it on their site, but they had many colors to choose from in the store!), and it was so nice to work with. It pressed like a friggin’ dream and my sewing machine sailed right through it.

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SIZING

My measurements (Bust: 38”, Waist: 30”, Hips: 44”) put me in the Large size up top and Extra Large in the hips. So I graded between sizes and the fit works well…EXCEPT that I probably should have done a broad back adjustment, and possibly a sway back adjustment. I kind of feared that might be the case before I started, but I was too lazy to do a muslin (the Jasika wore me out!).

Also, it’s possible that I cut something wrong (although I did double check), because when it was time to set in the sleeves, my notches were about an inch off. And the sleeve top just fit into the armscye. It had practically no ease, which made me nervous, but it fit! And I think it makes the sleeve feel a little more constricted at the back (but that could also be attributed to the broad back issue).

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MODIFICATIONS

As mentioned, I shortened the length. I used a measuring tape to measure from the top of my shoulder, over the largest part of my bust and straight down to figure out how long to make it and matched that measurement on the pattern piece, measuring from the shoulder seam and factoring in the hem (about an inch for a narrow hem).

I also lengthened the sleeves. The pattern has the sleeves at a 3/4 length, but I have a thing about my forearms feeling bare. So I added 5” to the sleeve length (I normally add at least 1” to all my sleeves, so if you have standard-length human arms, you might add 4”), and I did a wide hem on the sleeves. Funny enough, when taking photos, I rolled up the sleeve and think it looks great with a shorter sleeve! But now I have options, amiright!

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FLAT FELLED SEAMS

The pattern instructions didn’t go into a lot of detail on seam finishing (however, there was a link to a blog post on seam finishes). I’d seen a few people on Instagram finish the seams with bias tape, but I wanted something simpler. I decided to use a flat felled seam for all the seams (except the sleeves—I serged them for a more comfy fit since the armscye was feeling a little constricted).

The flat felled details are SO LOVELY and give this jacket a higher end feel. I did each seam as I went along, carefully folding them down by hand. It took a little time, but I was still able to finish this entire garment in half a day! Here’s how I did it:

1. After sewing each seam, trim one side of the raw edge down to approx. 3/16”

1. After sewing each seam, trim one side of the raw edge down to approx. 3/16”

2. Fold the raw edge of the opposite side in half and over the edge you just trimmed

2. Fold the raw edge of the opposite side in half and over the edge you just trimmed

3. Lay the fold down, concealing the raw edges and exposing the original seam line

3. Lay the fold down, concealing the raw edges and exposing the original seam line

4. Press the fold down to keep it in place (you may need to pin tricky seams that won’t stay down)

4. Press the fold down to keep it in place (you may need to pin tricky seams that won’t stay down)

5. Topstitch the fold down to the fabric, very close to the edge of the fold (I’m stitching about 1/16” from the edge here)

5. Topstitch the fold down to the fabric, very close to the edge of the fold (I’m stitching about 1/16” from the edge here)

6. Admire your beautiful seams!

6. Admire your beautiful seams!

Here’s the seam from the exterior of the garment with the topstitching exposed on the exterior. I chose to have the folded side of the seam on the interior/wrong side of the garment, but I think it would also look really nice exposed!

Here’s the seam from the exterior of the garment with the topstitching exposed on the exterior. I chose to have the folded side of the seam on the interior/wrong side of the garment, but I think it would also look really nice exposed!

PROJECT COSTS:

  • Linen-Rayon blend fabric (on sale), 3.5 yards: $21.81

  • Cambria Duster PDF Pattern: $14.00

  • TOTAL: $35.81

FINAL REVIEW:

Overall, I am really pleased with this project. The fit is just fine for a first time sewing it without a muslin, and the style is pretty stunning. It’s a simple garment with big impact that can be worn for multiple occasions. I love that about it.

As a side note: I may eventually dye this a pale, dusty blue-grey. It took me FOREVER (like, an hour) to pick a color from the wide array of options at Joann. And I ended up choosing this creamy off-white! Again, I want something that is versatile and can be worn a lot. The white will go with anything, so I plan to wear it around a bit until I decide to dye it a new color!

Making a Jasika Blazer, Part 2: Making a Muslin + Assessing My Fit


TLDR: I made a muslin and decided to make the following changes to my Jasika Blazer pattern pieces:

  • Lengthen the sleeves and bodice by 1”

  • Increase the seam allowance at the waist seams—front and back—to slim the waist

  • Slim the sleeves, starting just below the armpit

  • Do a sway back adjustment (take out about 2” total from the back)

  • Rotate the sleeves forward at the shoulder approximately 3/4” (without changing the shoulder seam of the bodice) to accommodate forward shoulders.

The photos below show the muslin in three stages:

  1. Initial construction with only the length added to the bodice and sleeves

  2. Waist and sleeve slimming with initial slimming of center back seam (which made things funky in the back!)

  3. Rotated sleeve and did a proper sway back adjustment. Also slimmed the waist at the back.


I tend to be a jump-right-in kind of sewist (and maker, in general). Most of the time, this serves me well, and I get a LOT done in a short amount of time. Some call it impatience…I call it time management. Tomato, tomato.

At the end of 2018, I sewed up a Bellatrix Blazer from Papercut Patterns without making a muslin first. And while it looks nice, the fit is just a little off. I made a few modifications on the fly without testing the fit first. So, long story short, I have only worn it ONCE. And every time I look at it, I feel a slight tinge of shame for making something really nice in a beautiful corduroy fabric that I never wear.

For the Jasika Blazer, I decided I would not let that happen again! Closet Case made the construction process very approachable and fun by offering loads of fitting resources (which you can have access to by signing up for their email newsletter). AND they made it very clear that a muslin is simply indispensable. So here we go!

For my muslin, I used some basic cotton muslin fabric I had laying around (I never buy fabric like this but did one day a few months ago on a whim…possibly because it was on sale at JoAnn Fabrics?). The only necessary pieces for the muslin phase were the most basic body, sleeve, and collar pieces of the pattern—just enough to get the thing on my body for a visual reference of where I needed to make changes.

I have to be honest: I was kind of dreading this process, but once I got my size traced onto tracing paper, and then transferred to the fabric, I found it to be quite satisfying. I ended up tracing the pattern directly onto my fabric with a sharpie (a tip I picked up several weeks ago watching Closet Case’s stories on Instagram). So now I have these freaking amazing working muslin pattern pieces with all kinds of marks on them. My architectural brain is firing on all synapses.

(Did you know that I was an architect in a former life? Apparently, designing buildings and figuring out how they fit together didn’t really scratch my creative itch—but clothing? YES, PLEASE!)

All my muslin pieces marked and cut!

All my muslin pieces marked and cut!

My Sizing Details

First off, a note on sizing: It’s been a tiny challenge to accept my measurements, not really because I am ashamed of them, but because ready-to-wear sizing is usually numbered smaller (aka, vanity sizing), and most RTW clothing is a straight size that fits funny in at least one place (usually the hips). So I’ve grown accustomed to either fitting my hips and taking a RTW garment in, or fitting the rest of my body and having it be kinda snug in the hips to get myself into a smaller size. And all of this sometimes makes me second guess pattern sizing because it is always numbered “larger” than what I buy in stores.

When making my own garments, I’ve found that I usually have to take in a little more than the seam allowance for the sizes I measure off of pattern packaging (mainly in the waist and the transition areas around the hips). However, even knowing this, I always start with a size range that is indicated on the pattern even if it’s a little loose at first. I know I can keep trimming, but I can’t add that fabric back on!

My measurements:

  • High Bust: 36” (~ 91.5cm)

  • Bust: 37.5” (~ 95cm)

  • Waist: 30” (~ 76cm)

  • Hips: 44” (~ 112cm)

  • Height: 5’-9” (~ 175cm)

My measurements put me in the size 12 range in the bust and waist and size 16 in the hips (as a reference, I am usually in the size 8 to 12 range in RTW clothing). So I went with a 12 and graded to a 16 in the hips.

Constructing the Muslin

Initially, I lengthened the sleeves and the bodice by 1”, which I do for every pattern as a starting point because I have a long torso and arms. After sewing all of the pieces together, I’m happy with the length of the sleeves. Initially I thought the bodice length ended up being a tad too long, but you’ll see in my notes below that other fitting adjustments made the length feel more spot on. Overall, the initial fit was pretty dang good! Here’s my first go at the muslin with all the aforementioned sizing and modifications included (I tried on the blazer with shoulder pads inserted):

1a: needs more shape at the waist

1a: needs more shape at the waist

1b: back is mostly ok, but needs sway back adjustment to remove bulk

1b: back is mostly ok, but needs sway back adjustment to remove bulk

1c: lack of shape at waist/back

1c: lack of shape at waist/back

I decided to taper the back center seam to remove the little bit of bulk at the lower back—this did not really work. You can see below that there is still some “bagging” at the back and a proper sway back adjustment is necessary. I also took in the side seams at the waist at the front to give that a little more shape, and took in the front seam of the sleeves to get a slightly slimmer fit. I may slim the sleeve more once I sew it up in my tweed fabric, but I want to see how the fabric moves and stretches first and this is an easy enough adjustment to make as I go.

2a: happy with waist shape now

2a: happy with waist shape now

2b: tried shaping the center seam, but this did not reduce bulk in back

2b: tried shaping the center seam, but this did not reduce bulk in back

2c: profile is much better, but noticing tugging lines at the shoulder

2c: profile is much better, but noticing tugging lines at the shoulder

Tried shortening the hem length…too short!

Tried shortening the hem length…too short!

I took a photo with the length hemmed about two inches (pictured to the left) and felt that it made the blazer look too small for me. So I took that out in the next round. I just had to see! :)

For my last round of muslin adjustments, below, I rotated the sleeve forward about 3/4” (I noticed a some stress lines at the shoulder/arm in the above photos, apparently I have forward shoulders!). I didn’t want to alter the seam allowance on the top of the shoulder because I didn’t notice any tugging in that area, just the top of the sleeve. I think this alteration worked well!

I also decided to undo the center back seam, re-sew it at the original seam allowance, and do a sway back adjustment. Which worked like a charm (which is hard to tell in the photo, but it is much better)!! This adjustment always amazes me (I knew this, why didn’t I just start there?!)! I ended up pinching out almost 2” from the center back and tapered it to the front of the side panels. Then I slimmed the waist/side seams at the back. So much cleaner!

Also, a note on my muslin fabric: this fabric is a lighter weight than my jacket fabric AND since it’s not lined, it kind of sticks to my shirt underneath, making it hard to get everything perfectly smooth for photos. But the overall shape and fit feels great!

3a: No changes to the front for this round

3a: No changes to the front for this round

3b: sway back adjustment to take out a little bulk while maintaining original seam allowance at center seam.

3b: sway back adjustment to take out a little bulk while maintaining original seam allowance at center seam.

3c: side profile lookin good!

3c: side profile lookin good!

The subtle changes that I made to the muslin really make a difference in the fit! I took my time with the alterations and walked away several times when I started feeling lazy about making any more changes, or going back to what I started with to re-assess (“Oh, this is GOOD ENOUGH…I don’t need it to fit perfect!”). Usually after taking a break, I have a renewed stamina for sewing challenges! For the slimming at the waist and arms, I probably could have done these on the fly while making the actual jacket. But the sway back is good to know going in because I’ll have to alter the pattern piece before cutting my fabric.

What I am trying to say is: I’m glad I did the muslin!

And taking photos was a huge help in this process, especially for the back and sides—I highly recommend it.

Next, I will mark (with a new color) the new seam lines and take the whole thing apart to use as a reference for cutting the pattern. Closet Case provided a fantastic muslin fitting guide to make notes on that I plan to use to stay organized (sign up for their newsletter to get it!).

Woohoo! Almost time to cut fabric!

Making a Jasika Blazer, Part 1: Getting Started!

It’s no secret that I love Closet Case Patterns (don’t even get me started on my Ginger Jeans that I wear more times each week than I am comfortable admitting…)

(Jk, it’s every day.)

So when Closet Case announced the release of the Jasika Blazer, I knew it would end up in my queue.

Seeing the blazers popping up on Instagram has made me so excited to make my own. I especially loved Tessa’s (of @sewspoke on Instagram)! It is fitted and modern with a few details that really elevate the style. Judith Dee of @judithdeecreations was another fave…the tailoring and shape of her blazer is PERFECT! And I like that she went with the welt pockets—I plan to do the same. You can search #jasikablazer and #blazerofglory for all sorts of inspiration from the sewing community. Prepare yo’self for the rabbit hole!

Printing the pattern

My first step was to buy the pattern (I went with a PDF) and had it printed with pdfplotting.com. The order total, including shipping, was $15.33 for 8 printed sheets (I also printed a few copies of the Luna Crossbody pattern to meet the order minimum—half were 36x48 inches for the Jasika, and the rest were 24x36 inches for the Luna). This was my first time using this service and the shipping was lightning fast! My prints shipped the same day and arrived in two business days. I’ll definitely be using this service again.

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Researching blazer styling + buying fabric samples

I’ve been searching for and pinning blazers on Pinterest since before the Jasika was released (this pattern was an answer to my blazer prayers!). Below are a few examples of the looks I loved the most for ready to wear blazers with a slim, fitted style. I have a board dedicated to my handmade wardrobe inspiration and anticipated projects.

My go-to for coating fabrics has been moodfabrics.com. I bought the fabric for my yellow Clare Coat from Mood and was really happy with it. For the Jasika, I ordered 7 samples of tweed—I wanted something textural and sophisticated that could also be dressed down for a more on-the-go casual look.

I loved the textures and colors in pretty much ALL of these! But my favorites were number 6 and number 7. Number 3 , 4, and 5 were also beautiful, but a bit on the thin side (and a commenter on Instagram noted that they had tried number 3 for a jacket with not great results because of its thin, drapey hand…good to know!).

After much internal, type-a debate, I decided to go with number 7, the Gray Woolen Tweed. It was so easy for me to visualize this fabric in my wardrobe and fantasize about all the outfits I could put together with it for spring and fall weather. Visualization is key for me with any creative project!

Next up: making a muslin!

While I wait for fabric to arrive, I’ll be working on my muslin—this process intimidates me JUST A LITTLE BIT! I’m not sure why. So stay tuned! In my next post in this series, I’ll be sharing that process.


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Custom Printed Fabric on the Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse + True Bias Ogden Cami

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you may have noticed that in addition to wardrobe and accessories sewing, I also design artwork for textiles and other products.

When I started sewing clothing as a hobby in 2018, my fabric designs took on a new life, and I had tons of inspiration for new fabric patterns that could be used for my wardrobe projects.

Spoonflower has been my go-to for on-demand fabric printing (this is not a sponsored post, ha!). The thing I like about using a service like Spoonflower—besides the obvious perk of having custom fabric—is that I’m only printing what I need, and if I sell fabric through their site, they are only printing what each customer needs. This model greatly reduces product waste, something that became very important to me after running a product business. They are also an eco-conscious company, which you can read more about on their site.

Anywho! I’ve really enjoyed using my fabric, and sewed a couple of tops from my Fuchsia Floral Dark pattern in the Poly Crepe de Chine.

First up is a Pussy Bow Blouse from Sew Over it:

Get the pattern here

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I really like this pattern because it is so simple! No darts! The bodice is slightly slimmed at the waist to add a little shape. But it also allows for some “blousing” when tucked in, which I think looks sophisticated. And the cuff detail is really nice, too.

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I plan to make this one again, but I’ll probably make the neck tie longer and wider for a little more drama!

Sizing and modifications: I blended this pattern between a size 14 in the bust and hip, and a size 12 at the waist. The fit is very comfortable! I also lengthened the sleeves and the bodice by about 1 inch (standard for me in most patterns, as I have long arms and torso!). After a couple of wears I decided to open the neckline a bit more for a deeper v-neck (I made Version 2).

Next up, the Ogden Cami from True Bias.

Get the pattern here

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I had just enough fabric leftover out of the 3 yards I ordered for this tank top. The Ogden is a great staple pattern (as are most of the True Bias patterns!). It’s a straightforward and quick project. I’ve made three of these camis so far and plan to make more (I have a hack idea for a button-front style that I have pinned on my Handmade Wardrobe Inspo board on PInterest).

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Sizing and modifications: I went with a straight size 10 and the only adjustment I made was lengthening the lining by about 2 inches to fully cover my bust (the original length was hitting right near the apex of my bust). I am a D-cup bra size, something to keep in mind!

Total cost for both projects:

Fabric: Poly Crepe de Chine, 3 yards (Includes the designer discount and shipping)…$65.10

Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse PDF Pattern...$11.83

True Bias Ogden Cami PDF Pattern…$10.00

Thread (approx.)…$3.00

TOTAL: $89.93


Lastly! If you are interested in designing your own fabric, I have a couple of online classes on Skillshare all about my process! You can get super technical by designing it in Adobe Illustrator, or you can keep it simple and design it right on your iPad.

Happy making, friends!