Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Pattern Hack: Using Trim as a Sleeve

This post is part of a series this month about the Anno and Pum Kids' Peasant Sleeve Top by Apparel Pattern Making. So far, I've shown how you can lengthen a blouse to a tunic, and how to sew French seams with a side seam split. The last hack for this adorable top is to swap the flutter sleeve for a cute pre-made trim sleeve.

How to Use Trim as a Sleeve

As-drafted, the pattern calls for a cap sleeve on the top part of the armscythe, and the bottom part is finished with bias tape. This method replaces the cap sleeve portion with trim, and then finishes the entire armscythe seam allowance with bias tape.

You will need: the cap sleeve pattern piece, the bias tape pattern piece, some ready-made trim and either fabric or bias tape. My trim is vintage and thrifted from a garage sale, but it was the perfect match for this Tencel woven from Jo-Ann's. 

How to Use Trim as a Sleeve

Line the trim up through the center of the pattern, and cut two pieces. 

Before sewing the trim to the bodice, you will need to finish the short ends of the trim. How you do this will depend on the trim, but I just folded mine down and sewed it with a simple hem.

Sew up the bodice until you have the shoulders joined, but before you sew the side seams.

Find the center of the piece of trim and place that on the shoulder sleeve, pinning or clipping it in place right sides together.

Sew the trim to the opening for the sleeve.

Sew the side seams, using the French seam hack if you want!

The binding for the armscythe seam allowance will need to be cut twice as long as the pattern piece. Right sides together, pin or clip the bias binding to the seam allowance, and sew directly over the previous stitching line from sewing the trim to the armscythe. 

Wrap the bias binding over the seam allowance and sew it down again, making sure you're only catching the seam allowances and binding and not the top itself.

You're done! From the outside, you will not see any stitching around the armscythe. If your seam allowances poke out at all, you can tack them down to the side and/or shoulder seams to keep them from rolling out.

This tunic will be my daughter's Easter outfit this year, and she's so excited about it!

I am a freelancer for Anno and Pum Patterns and received this pattern for free.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Pattern Hack: Lengthen a Blouse to a Tunic

A great way to add longevity to a kid’s top pattern is to lengthen it into a tunic. Today, I have a tutorial using the Anno and Pum Kid’s Peasant Top sewing pattern to do just that!

Pattern Hack: Lengthen a Blouse to a Tunic

There are two ways to lengthen a garment into a tunic. First, you can add length vertically without changing the width of the hem line. Use this method if it’s your first time pattern hacking, it is easier and faster. It is also suitable if the child you’re sewing for is straight up and down, without much hip width.

Pattern Hack: Lengthen a Blouse to a Tunic
Adding length only

The second method adds length vertically and also adds width to the hem. I am using this method in this tutorial. I am making this top for my 6 year old daughter because she has some hip width that requires extra ease. 

Pattern Hack: Lengthen a Blouse to a Tunic
Adding length and width

To start, you will need the front and back pattern pieces, and an idea of how much length you would like to add. I am making the 7-8 size and adding 4 inches. I love this Omnigrip ruler that is 4” wide. 

Pattern Hack: Lengthen a Blouse to a Tunic

Select a place that is about mid-way down the pattern piece and place your ruler perpendicular to the center front line . Mine is 5” down from the point of the armscythe (remember this number, as you will repeat the process on the back piece). Draw a line horizontally across the pattern piece.

Repeat the process on the back pattern piece.

Cut along the horizontal lines.

The next steps are much easier if you happen to have a cutting mat with 1” grid squares. Take the top part of your front pattern piece and align it on a vertical and horizontal straight. Next, take the bottom portion of this same pattern piece and move it straight down 4” (again, this is much easier with a grid underneath). Because I am also adding width at the hemline, I moved my pattern piece 1” to the left (away from the center line). If you are not adding width, you will not do this step.

At this point, you will need to fill in the pattern with extra paper. You can lay tracing paper on top and make a totally new piece, or you can put it underneath, tape it together, and draw new lines. I added the vertical center front line, sketched in the 1” of new hemline, and also redrew the side seam.

Use a ruler to draw the new side seam, connecting a point from the end of the armscythe to the hem (this pattern has a split side seam, so my bottom point is just above the split).

Here is my final pattern piece cut out.

Repeat the process for your back piece. Move the bottom part 4” down and 1” over.

Use a ruler to draw the side seam.

Lay your final pattern pieces on top of each other to make sure that the side seams match up in length.

And here are your two final pattern pieces!

Cut your fabric as normal and proceed with your pattern sewing instructions. Your top has now been hacked into a tunic! Your kiddo will enjoy years of wear as they get taller and the tunic is transformed into a top.

Anno and Pum Kid's Peasant Blouse hack
If you like this trim sleeve, stay tuned for that hack next week!

I am a freelancer for Anno and Pum Patterns and received this pattern for free. This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Quality Fabric for Every Budget

These days, inflation is driving the price of goods sky high. Fabric is not immune to this trend, but as thoughtful garment makers we know that sacrificing quality for price is not worth it in the long run. How do you purchase good fabric without breaking the bank? Is it even possible? No matter what your budget, I have my own personal recommendations on where to look and how to source great quality at a range of price points.

Quality Fabric for Every Budget

A note about location: I am in the US and my experiences revolve around ordering and shipping here. I do order outside my country but typically only from Canada or Australia. It's rare that I order from the UK, so my experience with UK shops is severely limited! If you have some good sources, please leave them in a comment below.

rayon rib knit from LA Finch


Shopping online for fabric is intimidating if you don't have a trusted source. Sometimes prices look too good to be true, and you might question how 100% linen can be $5/yard. This is where deadstock fabric comes in. Deadstock is fabric that has had a previous life in a fashion collection or design house. Basically, it's leftovers! It's often a small amount that has been purchased at a low price and is being resold by a fabric retailer. It's limited, it's one-of-kind, and despite the low price is often high quality. 

My favorite deadstock retailers are LA Finch Fabrics and Fabric Mart. I am constantly amazed at their low prices, and then always happy with the high quality. Almost all of my wool coating comes from FM because it's so affordable (under $30/yard for 100% wool, and even cashmere once!) and amazing. Josie at LA Finch is located in the heart of the LA fashion district and therefore has ready access to deadstock from those designers. She always carries interesting fabrics and I feel like I have an order on the way from her at all times.

A word of caution about deadstock retailers: if you love it, buy it. Nothing haunts us like the unique fabric we didn't buy that never came around again. Ask me how I know.

Another budget-friendly retailer is Yes. The name looks fake. If you get on their website and look at their prices, you'll think it can't be real. I can assure you, they are real! does one thing and does it well: linen. Tons of different weights, weaves, and colors. They have, by far, the best prices for linen and I've liked all the pieces I've gotten from them.

wool jersey from The Fabric Store


If you're looking for something specific and can't find it among the deadstock sellers, you may need to graduate to a more mid-tier retailer. Their selection will be wider but their prices may also be a bit higher. My go-to mid-range fabric seller is Mood Fabrics. They sell absolutely everything. Rayon velvet? 400 search results. Hemp jersey? 1600 results. They also carry highly unique trims and buttons. When you can't find something specific, check Mood.

Mood carries deadstock as well, helping to keep fabric out of landfills and their prices manageable. The New York store is located in the fashion district and makes Mood a seller you can trust.

The Fabric Store is located in Australia and they are my go-to for nice wool knits. They also carry Liberty of London if that's your thing. Their prices are not cheap, but I'm adding them to this category because they often run really good sales. Since they're in the opposite hemisphere from me, it feels like their sales work in my favor. My all-time favorite wool t-shirt is made from a jersey from there. They ship DHL to the states and always quickly.

wool blend coating from Emma One Sock

High End

You've been sewing for a while. You're feeling more confident in your skills and you want to splurge a little on a special fabric. Who can you trust at the high end of the fabric shopping scale?

I'm going to slide another deadstock retailer in here who tends to have higher end fabrics at higher end prices. Emma One Sock has, quite possibly, the most off-putting website to an elder Millennial like myself, but I can assure you that their fabrics are stunning. They provide a ton of photos, Pantone color details, and even links to coordinates. In addition to deadstock they keep a steady stock of high-end basics like wool crepe, linen knits, and linings.

Blackbird Fabrics carries just about everything I could ever want. Wool coatings. Yarn dyed linens. My favorite cotton/modal jersey. I would not qualify them as affordable but I will say that any time I order, I know that I'll be happy with the cost to quality ratio. It's probably a good thing that their fabrics aren't cheaper or I'd be shopping there all the time.

Did I leave anyone off the list? Who do you trust for consistent quality fabric?

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

How to Sew French Seams with a Side Seam Split

Hello sewists! Today I’m sharing a French seam tutorial, and how to sew it even when your garment has a split in the seam. Typically, this would be on a top, but it could also be on the bottom of pants or even the hem of a skirt. I’ll be demonstrating using the Anno & Pum’s Kid’s Peasant Top sewing pattern in a textured cotton woven. This fabric is originally from Alyssa May Design textiles, but it’s been stash-aged quite a few years.

The ideal pattern for a French seam calls for a lightweight woven fabric, and the seam allowance is at least 1/2”. It can be larger, but not smaller. The pattern I am using has a 1/2” seam allowance.

To start, place your fabric WRONG sides together along the side seam. Sew this seam with a 1/4” seam allowance (or half your SA).

French seam tutorial with a side seam split

Stop your stitching when you get to the extra fabric for the split.

French seam tutorial with a side seam split

At this point, clip into the seam allowance just up until the end of your line of stitching.
Then, carefully trim the side seam allowance to 1/8”. Do not skip this step! (I do, sometimes, and always regret it!). 

French seam tutorial with a side seam split

Then take your garment and flip it around so it is now RIGHT sides together. Again, sew the line of stitching along the side seam, at a 1/4” seam allowance (or half your SA). This step encloses the raw seam allowance.

French seam tutorial with a side seam split

Again, clip into your seam allowance up to the end of the line of stitching. If your fabric frays heavily, you can sew a few stitches across the raw edge of the French seam, or dab it with a bit of Fray Check.

French seam tutorial with a side seam split

Using your sewing machine and a zig zag stitch, finish the raw edges of the fabric for the split.

Fold the fabric to the wrong side and press. Because you clipped into the SA it should press flat neatly. Continue following the directions to finish the split.

Your French seam side split is now complete! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. If you are interested in more hacks, specials, and more styles to sew for the Anno and Pum Sewing Patterns, make sure to join their Facebook group

I am a freelancer for Anno and Pum Patterns and received this pattern for free.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Sezanne-Inspired Fibre Mood Jill

It was hard to pick a title for this post, because my inspiration started in one place, which led me to a pattern to hack, which led to an impossibility in dressing, which led to another hack...anyway. It was a long journey. 

Let's start with the inspo:

This is a jumpsuit that I saw on Pinterest. It's from the designer Sezanne and it comes in a couple different colors. I LOVED the back, the buttons and the little cutout. It looks fairly simple but elegant. I wanted to make one and I wanted it in this exact same emerald green. I studied the online listing and couldn't figure out what kind of fabric it was. I chatted with some sewing friends and eventually landed on a crepe back satin from Mood Fabrics. It's acetate and viscose, which meant that it wasn't a gazillion dollars like a crepe back silk would have been (I refused to make it in polyester). Unfortunately, I cannot find it online anymore, I'm sorry! I ordered back in August of 2022 so it might have been deadstock. The color is forest and it's exactly what I wanted. I used the crepe (non-shiny) side out as the right side.

Fibre Mood Jill hack

With the fabric sorted, I needed to figure out the pattern situation. Eventually, I found my way to the Fibre Mood Jill dress pattern (Loni from Havin Sew Much Fun sent me the link to the pattern, and she helped me find the fabric, so basically this was our brainchild). The back was close to what I wanted, the front was the same except it was gathered instead of having any darts/pleats. A good start.

Fibre Mood Jill hack
This is so wrinkly

For the pants, I pulled out Butterick 5391, which I'd purchased a long time ago. It's got a skirt and a pair of dress pants with four different leg cuts. I chose the wide leg, made them even wider, ignored the waistband and got to work figuring out how to combine the Jill top and the pants into a jumpsuit. I made a muslin of the top and turned that gathering into a vertical pleat in the front. For the back, instead of sewing the two pieces together, I kept them separate to allow for the loops and buttons. 

My muslin in poly crepe,
after I added the waistband

Using a paper pattern, I increased the rise of the pants high enough to sew it into the bodice of my fakey Jill. Between the paper pattern and my muslin I felt okay about cutting into my fabric.

Y'all. I got to a point where I could try something on and there was absolutely no way to get in and out of this jumpsuit alone. To be able to pull the pants section down, you need to be able to undo the back buttons. Maybe other people are more dexterous than me, but I couldn't do it. I laughed SO HARD at myself, watching in the mirror as I desperately tried to work the buttons. 

Fibre Mood Jill hack

Clearly, Sezanne either had some escape method I couldn't find online, or they just designed for the look and not functionality. I wanted to wear this garment to an event about an hour away, and the thought of asking a stranger in the bathroom to undo my buttons so I could pee was just too far. I decided to make it two pieces instead of a jumpsuit.

Fibre Mood Jill hack

At that point, I added a "waistband" to the bottom of the shirt. I had it just meet in the back and it closes with rouleau loops and buttons just like the center back. It's a waistband with a facing and to ensure everything laid neatly,  I did a lot of hand sewing to tack the facing.

Fibre Mood Jill hack
Yes, wrinkled

The pants...well. I wanted them to be super high rise so that my belly wasn't necessarily showing at all times (did I mention the event I was attending was technically a work event for my husband?). Because I had a "waistband" on the shirt, I did not also want a waistband on the pants. I thought it would look too busy. So, I pinched out at the side seams and kept making the pants narrower and narrower at the top to keep them up around my natural waist. I drafted waistband facings. I inserted clear elastic inside the top of the pants. I tried wearing shape wear and tucking the facings into it. I tried double sided fashion tape. All the things.

No matter what I did, the pants would roll at the waist and the facings would sneak their way out. It made me insane but eventually, I ran out of things to try and time in which to try them. The day of the event, I believe I went with a combination of the fashion tape and tucking the facings into shape wear. It was a lot of nonsense. Turns out, 50% of the women at the event had their midriffs out anyway. I should've just leaned into that look (and made the rise lower) OR put a waistband on the pants. 

Fibre Mood Jill hack

Frustratingly, the facings also have a tendency to roll out of the armholes as well. Yes, I understitched everything. I hand-tacked them to the side and shoulder seams inside the garment. Didn't matter. Still rolled. It's really obvious in the photo above.

For all the frustration it gave me, I enjoyed wearing this outfit. It felt nice to be dressed up in pants instead of a dress (my normal go-to for a fancy event). This color was absolutely everywhere so clearly I was on-trend. I made my husband a matching tie from my leftover crepe.

At the end of the night, it turned out to be a very good thing that I was in pants and could easily move around...we went to get in our car in the parking garage and the garage was...closed? It was midnight on a Friday. Nobody else was around. We couldn't drive out. The arm bar would not lift up. There were curbs everywhere so you couldn't go around it. The "help" button went to an office that closed at 2pm. After trying every possible method short of calling the police, we eventually had to call an Uber to pick us up at the parking garage and take us back to our hotel. The Uber driver told us that somebody had definitely been murdered at our hotel, and y'know what, it's probably better that our car was stuck in the garage overnight so it wouldn't get broken into. Cool cool cool. Total disaster. We had to call another Uber in the morning to go back and get our car. 

Right: Nikko top and Victoria Blazer

The event was back in October and since it got cold right afterwards, I didn't wear the outfit again until this spring. I pulled out the pants and did some mixing and matching with other tops in my wardrobe. I think they work well and for whatever reason, they felt more secure (probably I gained a little weight so they're staying up?). It can be fun to play dress up with older pieces and give them new life.

So there you have it, a cautionary tale about finding RTW inspo online. Be careful what you wish for, you may get stuck inside your outfit!

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