plaid shirtdress in progress


I’ve started working on a shirtdress – the 0451/2246 Traveler dresses by Lisette. I know – that fabric does not exactly scream summer, which is finally coming here in Norway. What can I say? I was browsing Lauren of Lladybird‘s archives and it made me really want to make a plaid shirtdress! You can see on my pattern stash Pinterest board that I have a handful of shirtdress patterns; several vintage ones and this modern one. I wanted a fairly straight silhouette for the skirt, since they have done me well in the past, so Simplicity and Lisette is the pattern of choice. I’ll be using the fitted bodice of view C, the long sleeves of view A/B, and a hybrid skirt of view A but with darts to match the bodice. I wonder if the fabric is some sort of linen/poly blend, I’m not sure. It does have some puckering texture going on.

Since this is a pattern line I’ve never made anything from before, and since I wanted a fitted bodice I went ahead and made a muslin. Actually – I made two! Knowing wearing ease can be quite… ahem, excessive in the big four-patterns, I measured a well-fitting shirtdress across the bust and compared it to the pattern envelope (the bust measurement is the only listed finished garment measurement) which indicated a size 6. I sewed one up and it was completely wrong, way too tight. So this is a size 8, which is much closer to the fit I want. I took the pictures so I could record the changes I want to make, so here goes!

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Front view:
- Looking overall ok. The sleeves are too long. I’ll shorten them by 4″, so they end right under the elbow. I think I’ll taper down to size 6 right after the armpit to narrow the sleeves a bit. I also want to cut a bias piece for the cuffs for some plaid interest.
- It’s a little too long, so it ends at the waist, but bags above. I’ll take out a wedge from CF towards the side, pinching out 3/8″ or 1/2″ from the length at the side seam.
- The darts are a little high, I’ll lower them both 1/2″.
- I need an FBA. It is a little tight across the chest, but the fabric is stretchy so I’m not super worried about gaping. But I’m seeing draglines up to the mid-armhole (especially clear on the right side of the picture), so I’ll slash from that point down to the apex. I think 1/2″ at the most will do the trick, for a total extra width of 1″ across the bust.

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Back view:
- Look at all those draglines! Some of it is the length I mentioned for the front, so 1/2″ of the side seam length will be shortened in that process. It looks like I need a swayback adjustment as well, so I’ll take off another 1/2″ I think from CB.
- The wrinkles by the armhole I think is partly because it’s a little high. I’ll drop the armhole on both the bodice and the sleeve. At the same time, I want to add some width across the sleeve cap. The sleeve cap is pretty narrow, and I’ve already lowered the top to get rid of some of the height and gathers I don’t need. It still needs a little more width though.

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Side view:
- The side view shows pretty clearly that the bust darts are too high, and that a bit more room is needed.
- Finally, the waist is a little snug, and even though I want the dress fitted, I want to be comfortable too! Since the side seams are balanced (in terms of the width of the back bodice), I’ll add the extra width to the front bodice, about 3/4″ in total. The draglines are pointing from the apex to the bottom of the side seam, but I think it would throw off the balance to add it all there, so I’ll do half and half on each bottom side of the front bodice.


I know that’s a lot of changes, and usually making this many changes in one fell swoop is not the best idea. If this was a very fitted dress, like a strapless dress and in a fancy and treasured fabric, I’d probably make another muslin. But I’m not, so I won’t. All in all I’m glad that this second bodice is so much closer to functioning than the first one. Oh, and check out my neat handsewing! My sewing machine is getting a tune-up, so I basted this musling together with running stitches. It wasn’t bad! It was quicker than I thought, and a little meditative to sit with it in my lap outside in the sunshine. I’ll leave you with a picture with kitten, the photobomber. Happy weekend people!

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tiny hoodies for tiny people

Ok, maybe not tiny, but at least way smaller than what I normally make!

hoodie_blue_full1I realized after the photo-shoot-fact that there is not much to indicate scale in them! This dress form is on the small side of my size, if that is a good helps. They fit a couple of 5 year-olds!

You see, I have a pair of twin boys in my family, and for Christmas I wanted to make them something. I think it’s more fun if they can be involved themselves, so I sent them a line drawing sheet from an Ottobre design sewing magazine I have, and asked them to pick something out. They wanted hoodies, so I ordered some jersey fabrics in blue and green, and got to work!

Fabric: All from Stoff og Stil. Blue cotton isoli jersey, green cotton rough isoli jersey, grey star-printed cotton stretch jersey, blue and orange striped cotton stretch jersey. About 0.85 meters or 0.9 yards of each was enough for size 116 and 122 centilong.
Pattern: Pattern 15 (hoodie) in Ottobre design Winter 6/2012
Techniques: Jersey, fully lined, separating zipper, bound hems.



Aren’t they cute? They were a lot of fun to sew, being so small that they were finished quite quickly, and looking so much like something you could actually buy. I had fun picking out and combining fabrics for these. The pattern instructions called for fake fur fabric for the lining, but I chose plain stretch jersey instead. The outside fabric is thicker, something called isoli. It’s sweatshirt-like, but for some reason the blue fabric was very loosely woven compared to the green, so I kept being afraid it was all stretching out. The green isoli was much more firm and well behaved.


I also wanted to offer a review of this pattern, since it’s the first one from Ottobre I have ever tried. When I first got seriously into sewing as a 14-year old, I would scour the library for Burda-magazines and check out stacks of them at a time. The things I made didn’t come out terribly well, which was probably a combination of my skills and fabric choices, and the fact that I would add random 2″ seam allowances, but sew at 1/4″ (yeah, I know. I don’t know what possessed me to do that other than overcationness on either end. Ha!).


Anyways! My experience sewing with this Ottobre pattern has been good. My first thought flipping through the magazine is that the designs are modern, but so very wearable. I haven’t really paid much attention to kids patterns in sewing magazines, but I think they can easily get gimmicky or costume-like. I bought this issue (#6/2012) very intentionally for the range of patterns they have, thinking that hoodies, t-shirts, coats and jeans are great staples that are fun to sew when they’re so small! Here is a pfd with the line-drawings for that issue. One thing I appreciate is that they’ve offered the same design for several age groups. In addition to the hoodies that I sewed (number 15) for a couple of 5-year olds they have another hoodie in toddler sizes that more or less looks the same. The same is true for a pair of jeans, a set of coats, and button-down shirts. I actually love this – not only is it good for the magazine being able to double-duty the instructions across different designs, but it means that I’m not as limited. The really cute coat isn’t out of bounds because the sizing stops at kid-size, but is there in a teenage-appropriate version along with details appropriate for the size and age group as well.

Two thumbs up for the designs, and the styling is great too. They are kids, they are dressed in colorful but nice looking age apporpriate clothes, and they look modern and adorable. Yey! Ok, moving on. Tracing off the patterns! The magazine had two or three sheets with patterns, meaning that the sheets are a managable size. The patterns were printed on both sides of the paper (which was a nice weight paper too, none of the crappy tissue stuff that turns into a monster after you unfold it the first time), and marked with letters A, B, C, etc. The instructions for each garment tells you which sheet to find the pattern, what color the outline of the pattern is printed in (how clever!), and a little diagram of which pieces to cut and their numbers, and how many of each piece to cut in which fabric. The pattern sheet itself has markings almost like a map – if you’re pattern is printed in orange, and you need pattern piece number 7, you look for the orange number 7 at the bottom of the pattern sheet and then move your finger upward to find the patternpieces (how clever!). They definitely have Burda beat here! Or at the very least, my memory of what Burda was like working with.



As for the instructions themselves, they are fine. Some parts were a little confusing, some I doubted the outcome of (mostly unneccessarily as usual), but overall they were perfectly fine. No illustrations and pretty bare-bones instructions, but they are fine. I did tweak a couple of them to get a neater end result, mostly agressively trimming at corners and such. The pieces all lined up perfectly, and the sewing was straight forward. I sewed this all on a regular sewing machine with a jersey sewing needle, so no overlocker is necessary! That’s of course partly because it’s partly lined, so none of the seam allowances are finished except the bound edges on the pockets and hems. The instructions called for twin needle stitching for the binding on the hems, but I did zig-zag stitches instead, and I think it came out looking rather nice and sporty!

A couple of things I thought strange was the length of the zippers, which called for a length of 42 cm (16.5″) and 43 cm (16.9″) in the two sizes I made. Anyone else see something strange? Those sizes don’t exist! The hoodies of course need separating zippers, so they can’t just be shortened either. I ended up ordering a 16″ and a 17″ zipper from the shop Zipperstop on Etsy, which were great. They have a mind-blowing selection, sooo many colors, and made a custom listing for me and were very quick to respond. O I ended up having to extend the binding around the corner at the bottom hem for the portion that wasn’t covered by the zipper, since the zippers really are supposed to go all the way to the bottom.



Another oddity is the seam allowance on these patterns. Generally, hem-allowances are included, but nothing else is. I find it odd to include some seam allowances but not all. Granted, you get to add whatever seam allowance you want, and the instructions clearly tell you where to add and where it’s already included. Still, just a little strange I think.


This last image is my favorite – I just love the star-printed lining! I hope these jackets fit, and will be worn to shreds. That’s always what I hope for! Anyone else doing some unselfish sewing?


around here









Since last time, I have been…
- travelling to Kristiansand and their impressive culture house Kilden, for a folkdance and folkmusic performance I did the costume design for. I really enjoy getting out and seeing a part of my country I’m unfamiliar with!
watching the little kitten grow bigger and bolder. She is adorable and playful and a handful, but mostly adorable.
taking it slow. I’ve needed to really step back and not be working on something *all the time*.
sewing, still. A few things made not for myself to share here, and some things that just need that last row of double stitching that is on hold until my sewing machine is back from a tune-up.
planning my summer vacation, which will include a girl’s trip to Copenhagen, and a week at our place in Italy where eating mozarella and sweeping leaves of the patio will be the only solid plans. Mmm, looking forward to that already!
celebrating 17th of May (constitution day) yesterday with friends, food, drink, ice cream, flags and fireworks. Not having my bunad close by this year, I wore my grandma dress instead and felt nice and festive!

blog update

You’ve probably noticed I updated the look of the blog! I was craving something simpler, so here it is. As always, there is a transition period where I get things to work, and with this update it’s the links. They’re invisible! For some reason the links are in the same color as the text unless you hover over them, making it very difficult to see where there are any links at all. I’m working on it, but in the meanwhile – sorry about the non-visibility of them! Please do let me know if you find something else acting wonky – email me at

And to not post without a picture, here is the kitten being adorable!


sewing underwear: adding lace inserts

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I have a long-standing love affair with sewing underwear, as shown from my first post on making underwear (6 years ago!) and the several more I’ve posted specifically since then. The little mini-series with my underwear free pattern and the how-tos of sewing them are the posts with the most traffic here on the blog.

I’ve made many more pairs of underwear than has made it on the blog (really, they all look the same after a while!), but some experiments have turned out so well I want to share them. I’ll call this the fourth installment in the underwear series, and this is on inserting lace in a pair of stretch fabric undies. Note! I use a length of stretch lace ribbon, not a piece of cut lace fabric. Just so we’re all on the same page!

1. Take your front (or back) piece and mark where you want the lace to go. I like mine on a slight angle, almost parallel with the side seam but quite as steep. Mark a line on the outside of where you want your ribbon to be. I mark not the center, but to the side so I can more easily line up the lace ribbon. If you know where you want the center of the lace to be, just make another line *half the width of the lace* towards the side seam.

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Cut the length of lace with a bit of overhang – this makes it easier during the sewing process. I actually don’t cut off the excess until after I’ve sewed across it however I’m finishing the leg hole openings and waist seam. I find this makes for a sturdier construction.

2. Use thread that matches the lace on top, and a bobbin thread that matches your fabric color. Sew down the ribbon with a zig-zag stitch on each edge. If the scallops are deep and pronounced, you might want to follow them exactly. Otherwise, just make sure you securely fasten the lace to the fabric on both sides. I sewed with a width of 3 mm, and stitchlength of just over 1 mm – at least the numbers on my sewing machine was 3 and 1! If the stitchlength is too short you’ll get wavy seams, so adjust to a longer stitchlength if that happens. 

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3. If you want appliquéd lace ‎and like the look of what’s going on, stop here! Assemble the rest of the undies as you would normally – check out my tutorial on sewing underwear for help with that. Continue with the steps if you want to insert a piece of lace, meaning you’ll see the skin through the lace when you wear the underwear.

3. Give the stitched on lace ribbon a good press. The elastic is made of synthetic materials, so you might want to use a presscloth. From the wrong side, cut down the middle of the fabric only, between the two rows of stitches. Cut carefully – you don’t want to accidentally cut your lace at this point!

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4. Press the excess fabric between the two rows of stitches to either side.

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5. Stitch another row of zig-zag stitches right on top of the first one, catching the folded layer of fabric underneath. If your lace is 1″ wide or more, you could also position the second row of zig-zag stitches to the outside of the lace, sewing only through two layers of fabric and avoiding the lace altogether. This makes for a little less bulk and secures more of the fabric excess on the inside.

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6. Finish constructing the underwear. I have several posts on sewing underwear with different types of elastics and other tips and suggestions, definitely check those out.

These pairs are actually made from a swapped tunic I shortened to a t-shirt. On the one I kept the finishing super simple and just overlocked all outer edges. For the waist I threaded a thin round elastic through the overlocked loops on the back and tied a knot to secure. For the second pair I went on lace elastic overload and just used it everywhere! For the leg hole openings I overlapped most of the elastic with the fabric, and did two rows of zig-zag stitches to secure it down, while for the waist I overlapped just about 1/3 of the elastic, and sewed just the one row of stitches.

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*     *     *

Did you miss a post in this underwear-making adventure?

• Sewing underwear: the (free) pattern
• Sewing underwear: the basics
• Sewing underwear: the extras

If you make a pair (or five?) from this pattern, please share! Comment, link back, and show off!

outfit: easter sunshine


Happy Easter! We had such lovely sunshine yesterday, so we took a walk around town and took some pictures. I wore what I’ve been calling my “dotty cowl dress”, which is the wearable muslin for my Ireland dress that I finally went back and properly finished.

Fabric: Polyester crepe (?) from Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL. I found this poly in the discount section, but it’s been nice to work with. And the color and print is so fun!
Pattern: Self-drafted, finally wearable muslin for the Ireland dress. See the not-so-wearable in-progress muslin here.
Techniques: Self-lined bodice, fabric cut on bias, invisible zipper, bound armhole seams, understitching, bra strap carriers.


I think my favorite part of this dress is the irregular dotted fabric in a purple-putty/bright peach color combination. It made me laugh out loud at the fabric store, and since I have an ongoing goal of wearing more patterned fabrics, I snatched it up. You might have seen this dress before, as part of the process of making a floor length gown to wear to a wedding in Ireland. The finished dress turned out beautifully, which was of course thanks to making several muslins to tweak the fit!


One of the things the muslin helped me see was some excess fabric diagonally on the back bodice. I fixed the pattern for the final dress obviously, but since I just wanted to make this muslin wearable I wasn’t going to recut anything. Below is a picture I took while doing the fitting adjustments, and then the finished wearable muslin. I’ve taken the excess out of the side seams only, but it did help! The armholes are a little oddly shaped now (a little high and tight, and abruptly shaped from the armhole going up), but this is a totally wearable muslin. In fact, I’ve worn it several times since finishing it – while giving a gallery tour, at a nicer dinner, and at an evening work event. Success!



In sewing for myself I don’t make muslins often, mostly just when I make very fitted garments like strapless bodices or blazer-style jackets. I think this is actually the first time I’ve even made a test garment out of “real” fabric instead of the standard unbleached cotton muslin! I hate letting things go to waste, so I’m glad this dress was salvagable.

DSC_5583DSC_5558I wish a Happy Easter to all – for me that includes a lot of oranges and tea and chocolates, knitting, reading, and sitting against a sunny wooden cabin wall wearing sunglasses. Aaaah!

hemlock tee

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Fabric: The same rayon jersey from Stoff og Stil as the t-shirt I just made, this time in the color called grey-brown. I think it’s more of a grey-warm-purple, but ok.
Pattern: Hemlock Tee from Jen at Grainline studio.
Techniques: jersey fabric, neck binding, serged seams.

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I’m on a knit fabric sewing binge at the moment, with the t-shirt I just made and this t-shirt, in addition to the two knit hoodies and a ponte dress at the top of my sewing list.

John took pictures for me, and we got some funny shots – like the one above, with a non-existent wind machine and camouflage jeans! Anyways, Hemlock Tee! I made one, like a bunch of other people have. And I’m happy with it, like it seems everyone who makes it also is. It’s a slouchy, relaxed fit, and super easy to make. I think if I make another one I will narrow the neckline opening a little to make it slightly less hyper-casual. I really like what Andrea at four square walls did with her Hemlock Tees, so I might take a cue from those and lower the front neckline and narrow the sleeves.

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I overlocked all the seams on my serger, and finished the hems with a twin needle seam. I’m thinking of getting a coverlock machine this year, which would make these t-shirts even quicker and easier to make, and more professional looking, but for now I’m doing ok with the twin needle. Once you figure out the tension so it doesn’t pull or stretch out the seam, it works well. I tried a slightly different touch on the neckband, which was to straddle the two lines of stitches on either side of the seam, instead of having them both on one side. I’ve seen this on factory-made knitwear, so I wanted to give it a go. Looks good I think!

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Look how smug I am! Is it the t-shirt? Is it the awesome view? Is it the fact that my Easter holiday has begun? In any case, sewing knits is so quick – which makes it so satisfying!

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