Spring Top Pattern Favorites!

I hope you enjoyed all of the fabric inspiration posts and giveaways last week (from Fabric Fairy / Modern Fabric Studio / Banberry Place / WhipstitchFantastic Fabrics ) and were inspired by all of the lovely fabrics! A few of you have mentioned in the comments that you’d love to have some ideas for patterns as well. There are a few patterns that have been popping up in the sewalong pool this year with regularity so I thought I’d mention those along with a few other favorites today.

First, I want to remind you of the “how-to-choose-a-pattern” post that one of our judges, Meg of Fashioned by Meg (who just had a baby but is still judging for us again this year!!!) wrote for us last year. It’s a fantastic post that features a handful of good beginner patterns along with a nice review for each. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out. (the pictures aren’t working currently, but all of the links are good)

And then, another post from last year that features variations of a nice simple pattern was from another of our judges, Kelli (above, formerly of Presser Foot, her new totally awesome blog is called True Bias) who showed us all kinds of ways to make Simplicity 2599. Here’s those posts individually if you’d like to check them out:
Version 1Version 2Version 3Version 4Version 5

Then, there’s some favorites in the pool already that I couldn’t help but notice. The Wiksten patterns (Tova Top and Tank) have been a big hit this year! Wiksten creator/designer Jenny Gordy has released her patterns in PDF format and they’ve hit the sewing blogosphere by storm. Here’s a few of the lovely ones that have already popped up in the Spring Top Sewalong Pool :


1. Wiksten Tank!, 2. Wiksten Tova top for the Spring Top Sew Along, 3. Wiksten Tank, 4. Wiksten Tova in AMH Little Folks voile, 5. gingham wiksten tank by kristin, 6. Wiksten Tank for the Spring Top Sew Along

Another new pattern that looks fun is the Rose T-Shirt from Melly Sews. Here’s a couple cute versions from our pool:


1. Rose Shirt entry for the Spring Top Sew Along, 2. breezy bird tee

Another perennial favorite is my (free) Spring Ruffle Top tutorial. Here’s a couple of cute versions that have been entered already this year:


1. IMG_1795, 2. Marjie’s First Top (ever!), 3. Spring Ruffle Top by Michelle

And another great free pattern is the Sorbetto Tank by Colette (Colette also has more lovely blouse patterns in their shop), and I’ve been wanting to give it a try since it appeared last spring. Maybe this year’s the year! Here’s a couple lovely versions from this year’s sewalong:


1. Lace Accent Sorbetto, 2. SPRING TOP SEWALONG 1, SORBETTO

Finally, this year I’m really hoping to make something from the Alabama Studio Sewing and Design Book, just out this month (I’m doing a high five into the air for somehow making it onto STC’s “review” list…sweeet!). I almost died of awesome when I saw the preview on the STC Craft website. Tell me that this would not make the coolest spring top for me! You know I’m a sucker for the high-waist.

I cut out the basic tank/dress pattern from some navy and grey jersey last night, so we’ll see what happens!

OK, so now we’ve given you fabrics ideas, and we’ve given you patterns…there’s no excuse! There’s just over three weeks left in the sewalong, so it’s time to get selfish-sewing!

hello pilgrim!

I had the most AMAZING time in Atlanta this past weekend!! I can’t wait to show you photos. In the meantime, I’ve got to post some of the backlog of stuff I’ve been making for myself in the last couple weeks because I have been a busy busy little bee when it comes to “selfish sewing.” Here’s what I wore Saturday for our “Handmade Garment Success” talk and the afternoon workshop at Whipstitch:


UPDATE: the dress in this post went on to inspire the Washi Dress sewing pattern, which can be modified using the Washi Expansion Pack to add a bow to the neckline.

I can hear you thinking “why is she sewing dresses when she should be sewing tops?!?” Yes I know. And my only answer to that is: you know how once you’ve really truly committed to do one thing, you suddenly have a great fantastic totally unrelated idea that you absolutely must do, like, right now? That is pretty much the story of my life. Except in this case making a dress from Lizzy House‘s latest line (Hello Pilgrim) is at least somewhat similar to top-making in that I can use the same pattern to make a top if I wanted to. Though even if I wanted to, I’m not sure I would (see first sentence of paragraph).


A few weeks ago I finally got a few hours to sit down and read Built By Wendy’s Dresses and also Jackets and Coats (two different books) and I remembered why I like her books so much. Wendy is all about taking a basic pattern and riffing on it, which is exactly the way I like to sew for myself. After a few years of making tops for myself, some with commercial patterns, most without, I finally feel like I’ve arrived at a handful of basic outlines that fit/flatter me which can then be altered to make variations that look completely different. These outlines have changed a bit as I’ve gained/lost weight, had a couple babies, etc, but my overall shape has more or less stayed the same for the last 5 years. I’ve had some bombs and some wins. I learn more from the bombs than the wins, but I always learn something. This is the joy of sewing handmade for myself.


This dress design began as a concept for a top, but then when I saw this beautiful turquoise cotton print in person (which, strangely, had NOT made much of an impression on me from the computer screen), I knew it had to be a summer dress. And since I’m supposed to be sewing tops right now, it was perfect timing to get bit by the Dressmaking Bug *rolls eyes at self* [end sarcasm]. At the time of this writing, the Hello Pilgrim fabric collection is currently being carried by Fabricworm, Pink Castle, and Whipstitch (you can click on those links to go straight to the collection) just to name a few that sponsor this blog. I have a feeling it’s going quick.


I heart the side pockets, and the back is shirred so I can pull it over my head (let’s hear it for no closures, wooooot!).

Though I don’t wear dresses nearly as much as I wear tops, I think after the top sewalong is over we might have to have something for the dresses. Don’t you think? We’ll see. You know I’m about 50% reliable when I come up with crazy ideas, so don’t get too excited. But making this one makes me want to make more dresses. Don’t worry though, I just finished my second spring top last Thursday, and can’t wait to show you some pictures!

Spring Top Sewalong PSA: slight date change

Please pardon my brain fart, but I just realized that I had originally set the final date for Spring Top Sewalong submissions as Monday, April 23, and I need to change that to Sunday, April 22. Please make a note. We will close the pool/entry form to submissions on Sunday, April 22 at 8 PM Eastern, and I have to absolutely stick to that plan, because later that week I’m heading to New York for another awesome Heather Ross weekend (this one is a fabric design weekend, WOOT!). Thanks for your understanding!

Our first set of judges will start scoring this coming Monday (already!!!), with our first set of “top tops” featured the first week in April on the blog (we’ll do this for four weeks with four sets of judges), so if you’re almost finished with a top, be sure to get it entered and in the pool ASAP.

Click here to find Spring Top Sewalong 2012 Information

And one last request: we’ve had a number of tops in the pool that aren’t square (this isn’t a huge deal but they don’t look as good in the photo mosaics) or aren’t entered with the Entry Form (this is a bigger deal) and we want to include everyone who wants to be included, so please read the guidelines for entry before you enter your top!

There are really just three simple things you need to do: 1) read the guidelines 2) put your top in the pool and 3) fill in the entry form

If you’re putting a top in the sewalong pool just for fun, could you please remember to write “just for fun” somewhere in your photo description? If you DO want your top entered in the competition, remember you’ll need to fill in the entry form.

Not sure if you were entered? You need to have an “ENTERED” stamp from a moderator in your photo comments (look at this top’s comments for an example). If it’s not there within 48 hours, we didn’t get you in for some reason. And we do make mistakes, so feel free to email me, I’d be happy to help!

I’m hopping on a plane to Atlanta tomorrow and I am SO. EXCITED. to meet everyone who is coming to our Atlanta Crafty Meetup, Saturday morning demo, and Kid Pant Workshop (two spaces left, still time to sign up!). See you at Whipstitch!

Banberry Place: Spring Top Inspiration + Giveaway! [NOW CLOSED]

Thanks for entering! This giveaway is now closed. Our winner is Faustina, who said:
“I think I’d have to go with Ottobre!”
Congratulations, Faustina! Look for our email today.

To kick off our Spring Top Sewalong this week I’ve asked some of my sponsors to find their favorite fabrics for sewing spring tops and share them with us. In addition, each sponsor will be giving away a $30 gift certificate to their shop! Yaaaay!


We have another great giveaway today from Banberry Place, another one of our newest sponsors who carries an amazing selection of fabrics including a ton of knits! Here are owner Corie’s picks for spring top sewing from the Banberry Place online shop:

Memoire a paris lightweight cotton lawn from lecien, one of the many lightweights in the shop:


some lovely Anna Maria Horner Little Folks voiles:


And of course KNITS! In addition to carrying a great selection of juvenile prints there are also plenty of fun women’s fabrics too:


left, center, right

Banberry Place also carries a great selection of sewing patterns and many would be perfect for spring tops!



To enter to win a $30 gift certificate from Banberry Place, take a look around the shop, find your favorite fabric or pattern, and tell us about it by leaving ONE comment on this post! Thanks Corie!!!

Click here to visit the Banberry Place shop

giveaway closes in 24 hours / void where prohibited by law

Our Spring Top Sewalong is going on right now!

Read more about it here

Spring Top Inspiration + Giveaway from Fashionable Fabrics [NOW CLOSED]

Thanks for entering! Our winner is Erin: “I would have to pick some of the Four Square Voile, AMH’s voiles are the best.”

Congratulations Erin, look for our email today!

To kick off our Spring Top Sewalong this week I asked some of my sponsors to find their favorite fabrics for sewing spring tops and share them with us. In addition, each sponsor is giving away a $30 gift certificate to their shop! Yaaaay!


Our next giveaway today is from Fashionable Fabrics (the Modern Fabric Studio Giveaway is also still going on until this evening), a shop well known for their amazing selection of novelty prints! In addition to a large selection of quilting cottons, they also carry cotton lawns and voiles which are great for sewing tops:


blue bell lawn / dotty stripe lawn / blue bell pink lawn


mini flower lawn / tossed flowers lawn / four square voile

And what about pairing one of these light and airy fabrics with this Summer Time Swing Top?


To enter to win a $30 gift certificate to the Fashionable Fabrics online shop, take take a look around the shop, find your favorite fabric, and tell about it by leaving ONE comment on this post!

Click here to visit Fashionable Fabrics

giveaway closes in 24 hours / void where prohibited by law

Our Spring Top Sewalong is going on right now!

Read more about it here

Spring Top Inspiration + Giveaway from the Fabric Fairy [NOW CLOSED]

Thanks for entering! This giveaway is now closed. Our winner is Leslie, who said:
“I would love to pick up some knit fabric to make shirts for my boy.”
Congratulations Leslie, look for our email!

To kick off our Spring Top Sewalong this week I asked some of my sponsors to find their favorite fabrics for sewing spring tops and share them with us. In addition, each sponsor is giving away a $30 gift certificate to their shop! Yaaaay!


One of our newest sponsors is the Fabric Fairy, an online shop specializing in knits (yay!!). Here are owner Megan’s favorite fabrics for spring top sewing, a beautiful batch of garment-friendly knits! First, some bright colors to welcome spring…


(left) floral cotton lycra knit / (center) sprout organic french terry / (right) pucci swirl cotton knit

Or if neutrals are more your thing, how about a lovely charcoal knit or some cabled velour?


(left) juicy couture cable velour / (center) grey medallions cotton lycra knit / (right) heathered charcoal knit


(left) purple and lime striped knit / (center) feathers cotton lycra knit / (right) yellow striped knit

Have you ever sewed something with knits for yourself? Maybe now’s the time to try!

To enter to win a $30 gift certificate from the Fabric Fairy online shop, please leave ONE comment on this post. And be sure to spend some time looking at the Fabric Fairy’s amazing selection. Thank you Megan!!!

Click here to visit the Fabric Fairy Shop

giveaway closes in 24 hours / void where prohibited by law

Today is the FIRST DAY to enter a top in our Spring Top Sewalong!

Read more right here.

Treasure Pockets for Clementine and other end-of-week ramblings

This week was a little insane. Sometimes it’s frustrating to get to the end of a week where you were hoping to accomplish so much and not have anything done. But sometimes you’re just happy to have made it and you don’t care about the bazillion to-dos that fell flat, right?

My week, in a nutshell:

On Sunday, a deer hit my car going roughly 50 mph (see the great thing about being a physics teacher is you can employ Newton’s Law. Did I hit the deer? Or did the deer hit me? Answer: YES). No one was hurt, just a bit shaken. So we’re down to one car indefinitely, which incidentally happens to be a 2-door yellow VW convertible. How much do I love installing two toddler car seats in that back seat? Not much. How much do the two kiddos love riding in that back seat with the top down? LOTS.

On Tuesday, both my kids — who were staying in West Michigan with Mr Rae’s parents for a couple of days — had to be rushed back to this side of the state for a doctor’s visit, which determined that poor Elliot’s endless cough had turned into pneumonia and Clementine’s had turned into a full-blown sinus infection. They’re both doing much better now, but pneumnonia = never fun.

And then yesterday just before we were about to leave for our Crafty Meetup in Ann Arbor, the tornado sirens started to go off. We spent the next hour and a half in the basement. Did we cancel the meetup? NO! We did not and we still had loads of fun. And I must add that the snacks were above average.


I don’t actually know what any of this has to do with the Treasure Pocket Pants I began this post with the intention of showing you but I suppose it’s somewhat satisfying that I managed to get something done amidst the fray. The pattern is from the Sewing for Boys book, but as you can see it’s fabulous made up for girls as well. I love these colors together (you can find the lovely pink crossweave at Pink Castle, but get it before it’s gone because allegedly Moda is going to discontinue it…waaah!!!). The mushrooms are older, out of print Alexander Henry I think.

If you love these pants as much as I do, next weekend is our Whipstitch Weekend (already!) and we’ve still got a few spots left in the Treasure Pocket Pant Workshop if you’re in the Atlanta area and would like to join us. We’ve also got spots left for our Friday night meetup and of course everyone is welcome to our Saturday morning demo. You can see more info on this post or sign up for the workshop right here. Karen and I a super duper excited and can’t wait to head down to Atlanta!


We also had a party last weekend for my niece Baby M who turned 1, so I had to make her a little Flashback Tee with puff sleeves and some Big Butt Baby Pants to match. So now Clementine can match her cousin. Cute!

I had hinted earlier that I might hold some fabric giveaways this week to kick-off our Spring Top Sewalong, but like many other things in my life right now it will just have to wait. I’ll shoot for next week. Monday happens to be the first day of the month-long timeframe for entering tops.

I hope you’ll all be sewing up a storm (get it, STORM? har) this weekend!

Spring Top Sewalong 2012!

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your sewing machines! It’s time for a Spring Top Sewalong!

Every time I type those words, I get really excited. And this year I’m thrilled to be able to announce yet another fun-filled Spring Top Sewalong!

Have you been wanting to sew for yourself but haven’t found the time? Are you looking at your spring wardrobe and inwardly groaning? You need some new clothes! Yes I am talking to YOU! This sewalong is for YOU!!!

The Spring Top Sewalong will begin this week with a few kickoff fabric giveaways (you need to have fabric to sew a top, right??). The sewalong photo pool will open next week Monday, March 19, so you can enter your photos as early as next week.

Here’s how it works:

  • SEW ALONG: Sew a top/tunic/shirt/blouse for yourself. See this post for more specific top guidelines/FAQ.
  • PUT IT IN THE POOL: Take a picture of your top on your fantastic self, crop it to a SQUARE (see this post for more specific photo guidelines/FAQ), and put it into our Spring Top Sewalong 2012 Pool starting next Monday, March 19, 2012.
  • FILL OUT THE ENTRY FORM: After you’ve added your photo to the pool, complete my very short, very quick, very easy Spring Top Contest Entry Form for each top you want to enter. This will add your top to my Master Spreadsheet of Tops for judges to score, which is how we choose our “Top Tops”. Note: If you decide you would like to put your top in the pool just for fun and not be entered in the competition, put your photo in the sewalong pool but don’t fill out the entry form and add the words “just for fun!” to your photo description.
  • Sit back and watch the fun unfold!

There’s fun, you say?

Four times throughout the sewalong, I’ll post a group of the best tops (“Top of the Tops,” these are selected by judges scores) here on this site so you can ooh and ahh and vote for your favorite. The plan is to have two winners each week, one selected by the reader vote, and one selected by the judges’ scores, and we’ll have prizes for the winners: gift certificates from Made By Rae sponsors…yay!! You know, so you can buy more fabric and make more tops!!! Hee.

Of course, I’m thrilled to be able to offer prizes (thank you so much, Made by Rae sponsors!) but I hope you’ll join us for the sewalong for another reason — to create something beautiful for yourself and enjoy seeing the creations of others! It’s been so rewarding in the past to see you guys sewing something for yourself, so many of you for the very first time.


The Spring Top Sewalong will accept entries from Monday March 19, 2012 until Sunday April 22, 2012 at 8 pm eastern. (After that time, you may continue to enter your tops in the pool so we can enjoy them and others can comment on them, but the contest will be closed)

Since we’ll be doing four rounds of scoring/prizes throughout the sewalong, I’d encourage you to enter your tops as early as possible, since most of the tops tend to come in at the last minute (and will therefore have more competition the later you enter). If a top is featured in a “Top of the Tops” post, it will no longer be eligible for subsequent rounds, even if it doesn’t win that round. We want as many people to have their tops featured as possible, and as many winners as possible!


Please help me promote Spring Top Sewalong 2012 by taking a button and slapping it up on your blog. Even if you don’t end up entering a top in the sewalong, it really helps me get the word out. The more the merrier!

To get the button above, copy and paste the text in the box below into a widget/gadget/post HTML area:

To get the button above, copy and paste the text in the box below into a widget/gadget/post HTML area:

Happy Sewing everyone!!!

Pierrot with a very Big Bow

I wanted to make a spring Pierrot tunic for Clementine without the neck ruffle, which, if truth be told, is the only thing between me and a finished Pierrot in a half hour (under ideal circumstances of course). Pierrot is a very simple raglan swing tunic pattern, and while the ruffle really defines it, of course it also adds a bit of time.

{please feel free to pin the pictures in this post; I’ve purposefully included only photos I’m comfortable seeing on Pinterest}


This blue floral version is a size 3T extended 3″ to make it a dress (there’s a nice little set of diagrams in the instructions to make this easy) and while it’s clearly a bit big on Clementine, it should fit well through the fall as she’s really more of a 2T right now.


I had the “giant bow” concept in mind after seeing something similar at a children’s boutique shop, and I’m still thinking I might attach it over the shoulder. It’s adorable, but slightly impractical, with the bow in front. Think: stuffing dolls through it, threading hands and limbs through the loops, etc. She’s a creative little lady.




The photos give you a rough idea of what it looks like when worn, despite my sad little uncooperative subject, and a glimpse of her new haircut, perhaps not at it’s MOST fabulous in these pictures but nonetheless: isn’t it CUTE??? I have dreams of aiming for the “little French girl” look all spring.


So, Big Bow: I cut out a long strip that was about 5″ wide, roughly 2 yards long, folded it in half length-wise and sewed along the long edges with wrong sides together, then turned the whole thing right-side out and tucked the open ends inside and stitched across it.

The center of the bow is another little loop of fabric (again, about 5″ wide, maybe 4″ long) folded in half, stitched along the edge, and then turned right side out. If you tuck one end inside the other you get a loop that you can thread the big part through. So the bow isn’t “tied” at all, if that makes sense.


And the fabric: I found this limited edition quilting fabric at Undercover Quilts in Seattle (the one inside of Pike’s Place Market) last fall. Such lovely flowers for spring!

Check out the Pierrot photo pool for even more Pierrot cuteness! I especially love this ruffle-less dress version. And the Pierrot Sewing Pattern is available right here if you want to make your own!