Archive | pattern reviews

Monarch Top in Primavera Print


St. Patricks Day isn’t something we celebrate in a huge way here. But, I always cook up some Corned Beef and Cabbage in the slow cooker and enjoy picking out green clothes for the kids and I. I was contacted by someone for Patty Young’s new line of prints for Riley Blake Fabrics. When I saw this Damask print for her new Primavera line, I knew I found the perfect print for my daughter’s St. Patrick’s Day outfit. Since, I just sewed up my first Lil Luxe Collection pattern recently and fell completely in love with the company, I decided to choose another of their patterns. This time the Monarch Top and the Papillon Shorties. The Monarch Top was in my Make 9 List for 2017 for my daughter, so hooray for checking off lists!

Making this top took me a lot longer than it should have. The kids and I were all hit with the flu right after I cut the pattern pieces and I seemed to take it the worst. 4 days with a fever, body aches and light headedness. I was exhausted. Every now and then I would start to feel a little better and in those moments I would venture to my sewing space and slowly put in a little work on this shirt. But, it was really slow moving. But, progress is progress and eventually it got done.

This pattern was absolute perfection. I really love how Lil Luxe Collection thinks of the insides as much as the outside of their construction. The bodice is lined and the skirt/peplum uses french seams. I use french seams quite a bit, even when patterns don’t call for them. I really prefer the look of a french seam to a serged seam. Usually, when I do french seams I use a pattern with a 1/2″ or 5/8″ seam allowance, but these french seams were made with just a 3/8″ seam allowance. Which means, the first stitch had to be made with a 1/8″ seam allowance. Since I was using quilting cotton this was easily done. If I had been using something that slides around or frays more, I would have added to the seam allowance a little.

My favorite part of the construction of this garment, was attaching the gathered skirt to the bodice. Since the garment has a button down front, Lil Luxe Collection was wise enough to have us sew the skirt, bodice main and bodice lining all in one swoop with the skirt rolled up on the inside. I personally don’t like the look of a topstitch by a gathered skirt and stitching in the ditch just never works for me. I usually end up hand stitching my linings, but this time I got a super clean look with so much ease. It was amazing!

I sewed up a size 5 and extended it to the length of a size 8. This was a super easy pattern to extend, since the gathered skirt pieces are simple rectangles and the bodice is straight (the side seam goes straight down parallel to the center). I just had to add the length to the bottom of the pattern pieces, instead of cutting and spreading. Easy peasy!

The fit of this garment is spot on. Sometimes, children’s patterns can run a bit big I find, but Lil Luxe Collection patterns seem to have a more fitted finished look in my opinion. There’s still a little room for growth in length and a 1″ hem that could always be taken out if we choose.

For this outfit, I also sewed up the Papillion Shorties, also by Lil Luxe Collection. These shorts are so easy to sew up and barely take any fabric. I was able to use the leftovers I had from the Harper Pants I sewed up this past fall. The olive green twill worked perfect for this pattern. My daughter is about 2 sizes smaller at her waist than her hips. I considered grading the pattern at the waist, but decided to make her size according to her hips and then just tighten the elastic in the back a bit more. Since I used a heavier twill, I didn’t want to gather the back waistband too much, so these run slightly large at her waist. I don’t think it would be an issue if I had used a lighter weight fabric though. Fortunately, they’re not falling off her waist. They just don’t hug the waist as much as I would have liked.

I did add a simple backstitch in some pink embroidery thread slightly above the scalloped edge of the front waistband. I did this after sewing on the facing and before attaching the waistband to the short. It’s a nice touch and it matches the pink fabric I used for the lining of the pocket bag. Being the perfectionist that I am, I almost picked it out since it’s a bit wavy, but my daughter really liked the added stitching and convinced me to keep it on there. I’m happy she did because it makes the scalloped edge stand out so much more. And, I really think that’s one of my favorite design details of these shorts.

We’ve had some really crazy weather here lately. It got up to 70 degrees the day these pictures were taken and it’s suppose to snow on Tuesday. Looks like my daughter will be wearing this outfit with tights and a sweater for St. Patricks Day! Does your family have any St. Patricks Day traditions? Have you decided what everyone will be wearing?

Pattern: Monarch Top by Lil Luxe Collection and Papillon Shorties also by Lil Luxe Collection

Fabric: Primavera Damask in Green by Patty Young for Riley Blake Fabrics and a Marc Jacobs Military Olive Cotton Twill purchased from Mood Fabrics (no longer available)




Metallic Knit Toaster Sweater


Sewing is not something I am quick at. I seem to take forever to sew a garment others whip out in a night. Many of my garments take me 2 weeks to sew. When I first started, I figured I would get faster with time, but that hasn’t really been the case for me. Sure, I’m often sewing while carrying on conversations with my kids, sometimes carrying them on my lap while I sit behind the sewing machine. But, having kids isn’t the only reason for my slow sewing. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I prefer to take my time making sure everything turns out to the best of my abilities. Plus, I have to make a ton of adjustments to patterns (I’m tall with wide shoulders, small chested and pear shaped). So, when people talk about a pattern being quick, I usually think, “Oh, maybe I can get that sewn up in a few nights.” I’ve heard the Toaster Sweater Version 1 was a quick sew, but I had no idea just how quick it would really be.

I cut out my fabric and sewed up this Toaster Sweater in under 2 hours! And, it would have been even faster if I hadn’t run over a pin on my last seam and ruined my serger knife. Arghhhh!!! Some quick sewers could probably sew this one up in 30 minutes. Now, having a quick sew is wonderful, but having a quick sew and creating a garment that you absolutely love is on a whole other level. And, that’s just what this pattern is for me. It was so easy and it fits so incredibly well. It’s the type of garment I know I will reach for again and again.

I used this great sweater knit purchased through Style Maker Fabrics a few months ago. Last I checked there were 2 yards left, so you better be fast if you want it! There are tiny metallic silver threads throughout the knit that make it sparkle beautifully. I did my best to try to photograph the metallic threads, so look closely at the close-up photos. I’ve never sewn with a sweater knit before and I always imagined it would be challenging, but this fabric was so incredibly easy to work with. Is sweater knit always easy to work with? If so, I need to sew with it more frequently. This particular sweater knit is a little bit transparant, but I feel completely comfortable wearing a nude color bra and nothing else underneath. That’s what I’m doing in these pictures, and I really don’t think a camisole is necessary. 

Some adjustments were made to the pattern for my body. I added 4″ to the length and 1″ to the length of the sleeve. I sewed up a size small and graded out to a medium at the hip. Basically, I just graded out with the 4″ I added and then used the medium band for the hem. I usually add between 1-2″ in length, so 4″ is more than usual. The sweater is definitely drafted to be a cropped sweater. Sometimes, I have to add 2″ in length to sleeves, so I would say these sleeves are a bit longer than average. Usually, I sew up an x-small and grade to a small at the hip in most independent pattern designers. This pattern runs a bit smaller than usual, which is great news for the more petite sewist!

I’m so happy I finally took the time to sew up this sweater. We’ve been having unusually warm weather here. The day I took these pictures it was actually in the 70’s. I arrived at the location to take photos and the parking lot was jammed packed full of cars. The times I’ve gone there in the past there has been maybe 5 cars. If you are a sewing blogger, you know taking photos of yourself with a tripod and a remote is awkward enough. Having all those people there made it even more uncomfortable. Fortunately, I had moments with no one around and I took my shots during those moments. Now that the sun is staying out longer and my husband is getting home from work before sunset, I may have to switch to taking photos on weekdays. Less crowds works better for me.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be sewing up more of these in the future. I purchased the bundle with both versions of the pattern, so I would love to try Version 2 as well. Have you sewn up the Toaster Sweater yet? If you want a quick sew that is a great everyday wear, I highly recommend you try it.

Pattern: Toaster Sweater Version 1 by Sew House 7

Fabric: Sparkle Sweater Knit Navy/White/Silver from Style Maker Fabrics




Lil Luxe Saumur Dress



There’s a beautiful sweater knit currently folded on my cutting table for a Toaster Sweater by Sew House 7. I really wanted to sew it up next, but sometimes special circumstances happen altering my plans. We receieved a note last week notifying us that our daughter will be receiving an award at her schools award ceremony the following Friday. My daughter has been doing especially well at school this year and I’m super proud of her. She was also recently recommended for her schools gifted program. Seriously, who is this kid?! We’re really proud of her and I wanted to reward her for all her hard work. I figured she was deserving of a new dress for the award ceremony. 

Usually, I buy fabrics for a particular project, but in this case I had to use leftovers in my stash. I only had a few days to sew up the dress and I wasn’t sure I would get new fabric in time. When I was in California, I could always count on Harts Fabric to get my fabric within 2-3 days. I haven’t found an East Coast online fabric company yet that gets fabric out within a day or 2. Please let me what I’m missing, because I know they exist! After about an hour of digging through my stash, I decided on this beautiful Michael Miller Veranda floral in graphite and a Kaufman Oxford Yarn Dyed Large Stripe in Blue. Since I had to use something in my stash, I chose my fabric prior to deciding on the pattern. Once I decided on the fabric, I knew I wanted to work with the stripes on the bodice.  I began searching for a girls dress pattern with some fun seams I could play with.

The Lil Luxe Collection Saumur Dress was just what I was looking for. I love the princess seams on the front and back of the bodice and the pleated skirt is a welcome change from the usual gathered skirt in girls dress patterns. I had some leftover white pom pom trim from the City Gym Shorts I had made my daughter a couple summers ago. The trim would accent those seam lines on the bodice perfectly. I had never sewn up a Lil Luxe Collection pattern before, but I’ve been really anxious to try one for quite some time. My daughter is already a size 8 in height, so I don’t have much time left! This pattern only goes up to a size 10.

As soon as I pulled up the download for the tutorial, I knew I was going to love this pattern company. The graphics for the tutorial are the best I have ever seen for a pattern. I’m a really visual person and I appreciate good graphics. I loved that they use a floral print to identify the right side of the fabric and a grey to identify the wrong side. Am I the only one who constantly forgets which side the grey is and which side the white is when following a sewing tutorial? 

As far as putting the pattern together, everything came together beautifully. This pattern doesn’t create shortcuts that skimp on the quality of the garment. There’s a lot of handstitching to close off the lining and personally, I really appreciate that. I often handstitch parts of my garments because I care about the guts of my make just as much as the outside. I think this would be a great pattern for a beginner sewist whose ready to take their skills up a notch. The little details are all there and the directions are very clear to take you step by step.

In order to get this dress finished in time for my daughter’s award ceremony, I stayed up super late. Like, 4:30 in the morning late. I often have nights till midnight when sewing, with an occasional 2am night, but I haven’t pulled an all nighter since my college days. Exhaustion set in and I struggled a bit with putting in the invisible zipper. I prefer to order my zippers online through Zipit on Etsy, but I wasn’t sure if I would get my zipper in time for this project, so I purchased one at JoAnn’s. For some reason I really struggle getting my zipper to be really invisible with their brand of zipper. I’m no where near an expert when it comes to inserting an invisible zipper. However, I don’t seem to have difficulties with the brand of zipper I purchase through ZipIt. Yet, I always struggle with my stitch catching in the zip teeth when sewing up the brand sold at JoAnn’s. Perhaps, it’s just a coincidence. I’m really not sure. Does anyone else notice a difference with brands? Anyways, my seams along the back zip match perfectly, but my zipper is not invisible. Sigh… I can always go back and fix it if I’m super ambitious. Who am I kidding? That’s not going to happen!

We took these photos at Government Island, just a 15 minute drive from our home. Government Island is a 17-acre piece of land that was a quary in the 18th and 19th centuries. The site was a source for Aquia sandstone for many buildings in our nations capital, including the White House. My daughter is super interested in learning about our nations history at this time and we couldn’t possibly live in a better place for her to learn. She was fascinated by these huge rocks and enjoyed putting her fingers along the markings on the stone left by the tools used to excavate the rock.

We have lived here in Northern Virginia now for 7 months. In that time we have barely touched on all the places we want to visit. I’m from the Northwest, so all this history out here on the east coast is new to me. I find it incredibly fascinating and really want to take it all in. My daughter is old enough to enjoy it. However, my boys are more interested in climbing the rocks than learning about them. I know I’ll regret it if we don’t visit more places though. Hopefully, I take the time to see more in the next couple years we are here!


Pattern: Lil Luxe Collection Saumur Dress

Fabrics:  Michael Miller Veranda floral in graphite and Kaufman Oxford Yarn Dyed Large Stripe in Blue with white pom pom trim


Happy Sewing!