Pattern Blocked Top: Sewing the Trends

I’m so excited to be part of Sew Country Chick’s Sewing the Trends series today! I was lucky enough to hang out with Justine at Fabric Weekend, and she was so much fun in person. She is truly a creative soul, and I admire that about her so much!
There are so many fun trends right now, from bright neon colors to leather, but I eventually decided to make a project that takes advantage of the pattern blocking trend.
Haven’t heard of pattern blocking? Think color blocking but mixing patterns instead of color. I used the Seafarer Top Pattern as my starting point, but any basic knit top pattern would work!
My inspiration came from the Macaron Dress from Collette Patterns – I love the faux sweetheart yoke. Isn’t it cute?! I’ve wanted to make the dress for what seems like forever, but between being pregnant and nursing babies, I haven’t found the right time. I thought it would be fun to incorporate a similar yoke into a comfy, loose fitting top, and am really happy with how it turned out.
To pattern block, I used some leftover shimmery polka dotted knit that I also used for Lola’s top, and mixed it with a teal and grey striped knit. The polka dots were a Jo-Ann clearance aisle find, and the stripes are from Girl Charlee.
First I’m going to give you a quick run down on how I made the top, and then I’ll show some different styling options. I often hear that other’s are intimidated by color blocking and pattern blocking, but it can be so easy and fun to wear!
To adjust the pattern for the new top yoke, I cut out the front and back bodice pattern pieces and first drew the sweetheart shape I wanted for the front yoke.

I then drew a straight line across the back piece, making sure that the line would match up with the front piece at the sleeve.

Next, I cut along my drafted lines and cut out the front and back pieces, adding 1/2″ for seam allowance along each edge where the pattern was split.

Once my pieces were cut, I stitched the top and bottom pieces together (it was helpful to use a lot of pins and a walking foot). After topstitching, I assembled the rest of the top as normal.

I liked both prints on their own, but I think I actually like them both a whole lot more when they’re together! Oh synergy…
And since we’re talking trends today, I also wanted to share a few ways to style the top.
First, how I’ll probably wear the top most often – a casual look with a military jacket. With flats and shorts, it’s simple to wear and easy to put together for everyday while not looking frumpy.
Another option is to take the pattern blocking up a notch and pair it with yet another pattern! I love the floral mixed with the polka dots and stripes.
You can also add a belt over the patterned cardigan to change the look up a bit.
If you don’t have the perfect patterned cardigan, try styling your top with a solid cardigan. I like how the scalloped trim on this orange cardi adds texture to the outfit.
Whichever way I wear this top, I love that it’s easy and comfortable to wear, but still unique and on trend. My favorite kind of clothing :). Thanks for reading!
Make sure to follow along with the rest of the Sewing The Trends series!
Mon June 17 Bethany from Lil’ Bit & Nan
Tues Jun 18 Marie from A Stitching Odyssey 
Wed June 19 Shannon from Little Kids Grow 
Thurs June 20Melissa from I Still Love You
Fri June 21Marissa from Rae Gun Ramblings
Mon June 24 Abby from Sew Much Ado
Tues June 25  Stacey from  Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts!
Wed June 26 Mercedes from Aventuras de Costuras
Thurs June 27 Mie from Sewing Like Mad 
Fri June 28 Alida from Alida Makes


Tulle Skirt Tutorial

Tulle Skirt Tutorial
Tulle skirts have become a huge trend for both the young and young-at-heart ;), and it’s not hard to see why! What’s more fun than feeling a little princess-y? Today I’m sharing a tulle skirt tutorial that is easy and fun to make, and that you’ll love to wear!
I love that frilly, femine skirts like this are in style – they can be both fun and elegant at once, and can make us feel like little girls again. I never thought I could love a skirt as much as a maxi skirt, but I may be mistaken…
I set out to make a tulle skirt that was easy to make, with an elastic waistband. The trouble is that if you simply stretch the waistband elastic to fit the tulle and lining layers, as with a basic elastic waistband skirt, you’ll end up with a huge poofy skirt, more dress-up-ish than elegant. Pleating the tulle rather than gathering will help the tulle to lie nicer, but then you have to deal with a closure and opening of some sort on the back of the skirt in order to get it on and off.
With this tutorial, I’ll teach you how to combine both methods to get the perfect tulle skirt – it’s easy to make and looks beautiful. The best of both worlds!
Ready to get moving?

*I’ll give the exact tulle measurements that I used for my skirt, but since we’ll be making lots of pleats and gathers, the measurements will probably work for most sizes from small to large. You can of course adjust for a smaller or larger size by adding more or less width of tulle. For the lining and elastic, you’ll want to measure yourself and cut as described below.

Satin for lining – 2 yards (45″ wide)
3″ wide elastic – enough to comfortably fit around your waist plus seam allowance
*Seam allowances are 1/2″.
1. We’ll be using the full 108″ of tulle width for the circumference of the skirt. You’ll just need to cut 4 pieces 108″ by the length you’d like. I cut 4 27″x108″ pieces. I’m 5’6″ and this was a perfect below-knee length for me.
2. For the lining, you can cut it the same length as the tulle (I originally cut mine a couple inches longer to be on the safe side), and as wide as your hips plus about 10″.
3. Sew the short sides together of each tulle layer and the lining as well. A serger works great, and if you don’t have a serger, you may want to use a french seam to keep the edges looking nice.
4. Matching up all of the seams and top edges, baste all 4 layers of tulle together. The most taxing part of this tutorial is matching up so much tulle – it’s hard to see when it’s all layered on top of eachother, but be patient and the rest will be a breeze!
5. Now that the tulle is basted into one piece, pleat and pin the top edge until it’s the same width as the lining. I like to continually pin on opposite sides to keep my pleats even. It’ll take some adjusting as you go to get the pleats right, and if they’re not perfect it’s not a huge deal :).
6. Matching top edges (with lining inside of tulle and both right side out), pin and baste the tulle and lining to eachother.
7. Stretch your elastic around your waist and cut a comfortable but snug length (plus 1/2″ for seam allowance). Tulle skirts are usually worn fairly high on the waist so keep that in mind as you measure. Sew the short ends together.
8. Open seam allowance and stitch each side down, 1/4″ from the seam.
9. Use pins to mark half, quarter and eighth marks around top of skirt and around elastic. Making sure elastic waistband seam is in middle back of skirt (you can choose whether to place skirt seams on center back or on one side), pin waistband to skirt, right sides together, at marks. The skirt will of course be larger at this point than the elastic.
10. Stretching the elastic as you go, use a zig zag stitch to join the elastic to the skirt.
11. Remove any basting/pleating stitches that may be visible from the right side.
12. Trim lining hem to same length as tulle or about an inch shorter if needed (it will then be 1-2″ shorter than toole when hemmed). Press bottom raw edge of lining 1/2″ toward wrong side, and 1/2″ toward wrong side again. Stitch in place.
Great job!
Grab your favorite flats and some pretty jewelry…
And enjoy your new skirt!

How to add a Peter Pan Collar to Any Top

Do you love Peter Pan collars as much as I do? They always seem to add the perfect amount of detail to a top or dress. I also love that they never seem to go out of style! We see them everywhere…

From J.Crew

To Anthropologie

You’ll find them on t-shirts, sweaters, and dresses. The bad news? Tops like the ones above can be priced up to $98, which, as cute as they are, I’m not willing to spend on a shirt. The good news? You don’t have to spend $98! Most of us already have one (or three) sweaters or dresses in our closet that can easily be transformed, and today I’m going to show you how!
Ready to take this…
To this?
Let’s get started…
round necked top (or dress) – remember that if you’re using a sweater with a small neck opening that relies on stretch to get over your head, that adding a non-stretchy collar might make it difficult to get the sweater on – make sure you’ll still be abe to wear the sweater after the collar is added :)
cotton scraps (affiliate link) large enough to cut 4 front/back collar pieces
mid-to-heavy-weight fusible interfacing (I used Pellon 931TDaffiliate link)
1. Fold your top in half as pictured. Try to keep the natural shape of the curve in place.
2. To make your collar pattern, trace the curve between center front to center back.
3. Sketch your collar shape on each end of the curve as desired – I made the front collar a bit larger than the back.
4. Trace around the entire collar, 1/2″ away on all sides (to account for seam allowance).
5. Cut your pattern out and use it to cut 4 collar pieces out of your fabric, plus 4 pieces out of interfacing (I had to adjust my curved seam allowance to 1/4″ to fit the pattern piece on my fabric).
6. Fuse interfacing to each collar piece.
7. Right sides together, stitch two collar pieces together along outer curve (inner curve will remain open). Trim seam allowance to 1/8″. Repeat with remaining two collar pieces.
8. Turn collar right side out and press flat. Topstitch along outer curve 1/4″ away from edge. Repeat with other collar piece.
9. Serge the inner curve, removing NO fabric with the serger blade, or zig-zag stitch along inner curve. Repeat with other collar piece.
10. Mark center front and center back of top with pins and pin collar to wrong side as pictured (the more pins the merrier, especially if sewing with one stretchy and one non-stretchy fabric. The collar should overlap the neck edge 1/2″.
11. Stitch along pinned edge, attaching collar to top. Repeat steps 10-11 with other collar piece.
12. Fold collars over and press flat in place against top.
13. Topstitch around entire neckline and collars, 1/4″ from folded edge of collar.
You are done!
Enjoy your new Peter Pan top!

Color Blocking Basics

We see color blocking everywhere these days.

From casual wear…

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To the runways…

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It’s a trend that’s not likely going away any time soon.

I often hear of women who are intimidated to put together a color blocked outfit, so today let’s fix that! Here are a few basics that will help you become a color blocking pro!

Let’s start by taking a quick look at the color wheel. The color wheel is your ultimate guide to what works and what doesn’t work with color blocking. There are a few different ways we can use the color wheel to pull colors together.

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First, colors that are direct opposites, as the first color wheel illustrates. This is definitely the easiest way to color block, and a great way to start. Second, colors that form a triangle, as the middle color wheel illustrates (and yes, there are differently ways to form a triangle, but we’re gonna keep it basic for today). Lastly, we can color block using colors that are adjacent to each other, as the color wheel on the right illustrates.

Keeping the color wheel in mind, here are a few more tips:

1. Baby steps. If you’re nervous to color block, start with baby steps :). Beginning with just two colors will help you learn what works and what doesn’t, and build your confidence with color blocking. You can also always pair a color blocked outfit with a neutral to be safe.

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2. Keep it in the family. The color family, that is. When color blocking, keep jewel tones with jewel tones, pastels with pastels, etc.

Image via Sterling Style

3. Keep it simple. Solids, solids, solids. Don’t try mix patterns when color blocking. Think simple, clean lines for your clothing, and you’ll have a much more sophisticated look.

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4. Say yes to accessories. A great way to color block is the use of accessories. Adding a colored purse to an outfit makes it hard to go wrong, or try a fun nail polish color!

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5. Be strategic. If you’re proud of a certain body part, use a bold color to draw attention to the area. If you have an area you’re less than pleased with, use a neutral in that area.

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There you have it! As you get comfortable with color blocking, you may be able to bend some of these rules a bit. Most importantly, remember that you are unique, and to dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Now go and have a look through your closet and you just might find some “new” outifts!

The SoHo Maxi Dress Tutorial

If you’re stopping by from Noodlehead, welcome! Anna is one of my very favorite blogging friends, and I’m thrilled that she asked me to be a part of her Sewing With Knits Mondays series. I hope you’ve been following along each Monday on Anna’s blog and also Shannon from Luv In The Mommyhood’s blog – they have both shared some great tips and had some super guests joining in. No reason to be afraid of knits anymore, ladies!

When Anna contacted me, I knew instantly what project I’d be sharing. I’ve been wanting to make a maxi dress tutorial for months now, but I guess I just didn’t have the right motivation I needed to get it done. So thanks for the inspiration once again, Anna!
With a ruffle detail at the top…
The SoHo Maxi Dress is perfect for even a beginner sewer. No better way to build your confidence with knits than to jump right in! You can make this!

existing fitted knit tank top
2-2.5 yd knit fabric (60″ wide)
2 packages 1/2″ wide elastic
1 package double fold 1/2″ wide bias tape

A Couple of Tips Before We Begin:

  • I recommend checking in the “fashion fabrics” section of JoAnn or your local fabric store to find a great knit fabric. Stretch fabrics are usually found in the jersey knit section in most stores, but often nicer prints more suitable for fashion are found in other areas and mixed in with the polyester/rayon fabrics. You have to search a bit more, but it’ll be worth it if you find something you love. My fabric is 96% polyester and 4% spandex, and was a great quality. A touch of spandex makes any fabric a dream to work with.
  • If you have a serger, use it! Although you’ll need a regular machine for parts of this dress, sergers make life easy when sewing with knits.
  • If you don’t have a serger, no problem! Use your regular machine and a ballpoint needle (trust me, it’s important!). For seams, many newer machines have a stretch stitch option, or you can also use a long and narrow zig zag stitch to accomodate the fabric stretching. For top stitching, you can also use a long straight stitch.
  • As you sew, try not to stretch the fabric, or it could result in puckers. Allow the feed dogs to guide the fabric through, and you’ll end up with nice smooth stitch lines.
  • Because knit does not fray, finishing seams is not necessary.

1. Lay fabric out, right side up, and fold each selvage edge to the middle.

2. To cut our dress front and back, we’ll use an existing knit tank top. Fold the top in half, matching side seams, and place on fabric. To allow for gathering, we want our dress to be 1.5 times the width of the tank. My tank was 7″ from side seam to front fold, so I moved the tank out an extra 3.5 inches from the fabric fold.

3. Determine the length you want your dress, and measure from the center front of the tank to where your hem will be. I always add a few inches to account for hem and seam allowance. Since the fabric will stretch when it’s being worn, don’t worry about being too exact with length for now, just make sure you have a bit extra length rather than not enough. I wanted my dress to be approximately 47″ so I measured 50″ to be safe. Mark or make a small cut along the fold at the hemline.

4. Determine the width you’d like your dress at the bottom. For both maxi dresses and skirts, I like the bottom width to be around 50″-60″. Since we are cutting both the front and back pieces out of one length, if you want the bottom width larger than 60″, you’ll need extra fabric to accomodate that. Divide the width by 2 (since we’re working on a fold) and mark that, perpendicular from the hem.

5. Adding 1/2″ for seam allowance, cut around neck, underarm, and side seam of tank front. Continue on, joining up with bottom width mark. Before cutting, ensure that your dress will be wide enough at the hipline, plus a bit of ease. Since we added 50% to the width of the tank top, this should be enough to fit most hips, but it never hurts to double check :).

6. If your tank was pointed at the top like mine, trim the point to flat, to allow for the 3/4″ straps plus 1/2″ on each side (for seam allowance) to be inserted later.

7. Mark underbust (where bottom of your bra sits) on fabric, where elastic will sit under bust. If needed, you can try your tank top on to find the exact area to mark.

8. To cut back piece, fold tank top at center back, matching side seams. Adding 50% to tank back width, place tank fold parallel to fabric fold. Adding 1/2″ for seam allowance, cut around top back and side seam of tank back, as you did for front piece.

9. Lay dress front on top of dress back fabric, matching upper side seams. Use dress front as a guide to continue cutting lower side seam and hem of dress back. Mark underbust.
You’ll now have your front and back pieces:
10. For the shoulder straps, cut 2 2″x16″ pieces, with the least amount of stretch along the length of the straps. If you are tall or plus sized, you may need to cut your straps longer than 16″. To determine length needed for top ruffle strip, measure along top of front and back dress pieces and cut that length by 5″ wide. I cut my ruffle strip approximately 48″x5″.
11. On to some sewing… Right sides together, stitch front dress piece to back dress piece at side seams using a 1/2″ seam allowance.
12. Right sides together, stitch ruffle strip together at ends.

13. Matching ruffle strip seam with one side seam of dress, pin right side of ruffle strip to wrong side of dress top, matching raw edges.
14. Using 1/2″ seam allowance, stitch around circumference of dress and ruffle strip, leaving 3/4″ openings on dress front where straps will be inserted.

15. Flip ruffle strip over to right side of dress and gently press in place. Do not slide iron on fabric, simply steam and press using a light heat setting. Pin rufle strip to front and back of dress.
16. Stitch 3/4″ away from top edge around entire circumference, forming casing for elastic.
17. To form casing for underbust, cut enough 1/2″ wide double fold bias tape to go around marked underbust line, plus 1″. Open center fold of bias tape and press flat. Placing top of bias tape along marked line, stitch bias tape to wrong side of dress along top and bottom edges of bias tape. Allow ends to overlap 1/2″, and trim bias tape if necessary. (I used 1/2″ single wide bias tape in photo, so I had to press the entire tape open to get enough width).
18. Measure enough elastic to fit slightly snugly around your underbust, plus 1″. Thread elastic through bias tape casing and stitch ends together, overlapping end 1/2″ over beginning (don’t judge me on my elastic ends, I don’t think they’ve ever looked pretty :)).

19. Measure enough elastic to snugly fit where top of dress will sit, plus 1″. Thread elastic through one opening (where strap will be inserted later), and through entire upper casing. Overlap ends 1/2″ and stitch together.

20. Fold one strap in half lengthwise and stitch raw edges together using 1/4″ seam allowance.

21. Turn strap right side out.

22. Repeat steps 20 and 21 with remaining strap.

23. Insert one end of one strap into strap opening on top of dress front, turning raw edges at opening to inside. Pin in place. Repeat with other strap.
24. Stitch along pinned edges, attaching straps to dress front.

25. Try dress on and determine back strap placement. Pin straps in place (it helps to have someone help you!).

26. Stitch straps to inside of dress back along casing stitch line. Stitch again close to top of dress back.
27. Trip strap ends if necessary.
28. Try dress on to determine amount to hem. 1″ was perfect for me. Turn bottom of dress up desired amount to inside, and stitch close to raw edge using a long straight stitch. You can also trim the bottom edge of the top ruffle if it hits your chest at a funny point. I trimmed my ruffle 1/2″ and it was perfect.

Now grab your favorite flats…
Put on some chunky jewelry and a wide belt…

And make some plans – you’re going out tonight!
Be sure to show off your finished dresses in the Sew Much Ado Flickr group!

Thanks, Anna for letting me be a part of such a fantastic series!