You may recall, I made Mr. AFS a plaid flannel shirt a little over a year ago from Simplicity 1544. Since then I’ve gone on to make more versions of the shirt, perfecting fitting problems each time and so this iteration is pretty much near perfect for his body and build. Additionally, he wears that first flannel shirt a lot when it starts getting cold. In fact, it’s surprising just how much he wears it considering he doesn’t like plaid – it’s the flannel. He just loves the warmth. So I thought it was time that he received another. I hauled him on over to a Joann and had him pick out his own flannel this time. They have a surprising collection of flannels – called “plaiditudes” – that are quite thick and fluffy and soft. They wash up OK (just OK, not great) too and since I can’t get my hands on any of that Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel locally, this works.


Fitting changes for Simplicity 1544 since the first iteration: I’ve had to widen the collar – or make it 2 sizes larger because the original was too small in the neck. I narrowed the shoulder seam so that the point where the sleeve connects rests at the point where his shoulder point actually is and doesn’t droop over the side (which is not necessarily a bad thing, just not the look I was going for). Had to give him a little extra room in the upper back and then nipped in the waist section a touch. The sleeves were considerably shortened (very long in the sleeve on this pattern) and the cuff tightened.


Since this flannel is so wonderfully thick, I thought I should try my hand at a convertible collar version for this shirt as it seemed like it could cut down on the bulk in the neck area. I took a vintage pj top pattern (which I made for Mr. AFS a few years ago!) and stole the collar and the facing piece from it and converted my Simplicity 1544 to have a convertible collar option. From there, I made a few more drafting decisions based on eliminating bulk. I decided to create an all-in-one convertible collar and I did a fold over facing instead of one that is stitched on. The all-in-one convertible collar is pretty slick. It’s an idea that I saw Louise Cutting do (Threads article here) and I’ve long wanted to try it because I love basically everything that woman does. You basically take the collar piece, eliminate the seam at the collar’s edge and attach an under collar that has a seam down the center back of the collar. It has all the bells and whistles of a jacket collar, but all in one – the under collar section is on a slight bias (not a true 45• angle, but still) and has a seam down the center and that creates a nice turn of the cloth for the upper collar. Seriously, slick.


I stole a new pocket pattern from the Negroni free download – great pocket patterns by the way! – and from there it was all easy as pie. This is also one of my best ever plaid matching jobs. I opted to use Tasia’s way of cutting plaids this time – well sort of. I prep my pattern pieces a little differently for a plaid, but I used her pinning technique for the fabric. I’ve normally done the pieces one by one. I’ll lay a just cut piece on top of another that’s not cut to make sure I get an exact match and pretty much 100% of the time, the cut piece gets distorted just by moving it and/or the cutting is never as precise as doing them in double layer. It sounds a little crazy, but it happens. Cutting two layers at once eliminates that small distortion and can produce a more happy plaid matching experience. Just some food for thought.



Mr. AFS is loving his new shirt. Fits quite a bit better than the first version and I’m liking the convertible collar here. Itching to make my own! Previously, I’ve not been much of a convertible collar fan, but they have a place. Yay for plaid flannel shirt weather!


  • justine - That I’d really a great looking shirt. I’m loving this plaid,and impressed it’s from Joann. Great idea, the collar. I made my husband a plaid flannel Negroni last year and am planning to make another for him this Christmas from a McCall’s pattern.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - Wow! That is such a nice shirt! I looked up the pattern, Simplicity 1544. I can’t buy Simplicity patterns locally, so I’ll have to order it online. Your plaid matching is perfect! I have a hubby and three boys – two are teens. We live in a cold climate, so this may be something I will have to tackle in the new year (Christmas sewing is priority #1 now).ReplyCancel

  • Cecilia wilson - I love the way you give tips that take me to a threads article that I had not seen and the collar was not aware of,the seamless collar. Thank you for all your posts,your ideas and styles of writing are wonderful to read.ReplyCancel

  • Judi Short - Fabulous, Sunni! I love the collar tip! My sewing “wish I ever had time to sew this” list just got longer!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - Mmm, this looks proper snuggly, I should make my boyfriend one so I can cuddle him more. Thanks for the collar tip!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Oh, nice job on the plaid matching!!!! You know that sound that comes from fingernails on a blackboard? That is the feeling I get when I see those expensive flannel shirts in the stores and the plaids DON’T MATCH.

    Mr. AFS looks very handsome in his new shirt.ReplyCancel

  • raquel from jc - Love it! The fabric is perfect and it looks comfy but cool at the same time. I always have problems with the hem when sewing shirts, especially with narrow hems and the curve at the union between fronts and back. Do you have any tips?ReplyCancel


When this time of year comes around, I’m always at a loss about whether or not I should make something for gifts for family and friends. I have really good intentions and well, you know what they say about that. This year, I happened upon an idea – pillowcases and thought I should share. I was doing some housecleaning and upkeep one weekend and noticed that the mister and I could use a new set of pillowcases. Instead of purchasing some from the store, I thought it would be easy enough to take some of my stash and make a set. It was easy, in fact and it was so easy that as I was cranking them out in the space of 30 minutes or so, I instantly thought these would make great gifts. The key feature for me being that these are very doable in a reasonably short timeframe and yet, they still add a nice handmade touch to your gift giving. Never thought my 7th grade home-ec project would turn into a gift giving idea – but I’m hooked now! Not to mention, I have to admit, sometimes it feels really really great to crank out an easy project and you can go a little crazy personalizing them for each family member or whom ever you are planning to give them to.


Here’s what I did. I took an old pillowcase that I liked and measured the dimensions. Mine measured 38″ x 30″. I opted to add a 4″ contrast hem, so the dimensions I cut for the body of the pillowcase were 39″ x 27″ which included seam allowances of 1/2″. The contrasting hem was cut to 9″ x 39″ which also included seam allowances. I cut these so that only one of the long edges of the pillowcase had a seam – it was just easier.


From here, all you have to do is sew up the bottom edge and side seam and seam finish them off. If you’ve don’t have a serger, a french seam would be very easy to do.




For the contrast hem, I stitched the short ends together first and folded the long edges wrong sides together. Stitch to the raw edge of the pillowcase with right sides together, finish the seam and voila! Done!



I added a triple stitch to the top to hold the contrast hem seam in place. You could do some fun stitches that you never use or keep it simple. I opted for a quilting cotton I had in my stash, which is an easy natural, fun and colorful choice. Seriously, these are so easy and look how exciting they are – something you definitely aren’t going to pick up at a department store!


Additionally, these are easy enough to change up a little too and who said you only had to use quilting cotton? I made this gorgeous set for my mom from some silk jacquard with a silk satin contrast hem and then for my darling little nieces, I went wild with prints, added a ruffle edge and some contrasting trim. All the fabrics were from stash and the ones for my nieces were scrap fabric! The design elements are all up to you and how personal/economical/time consuming you want to make them.



The more I think about it, the more I would love to receive a gift like this. So personal and functional – both things that I love! So if you’re in the hustle and bustle and are wondering what in the world you’re going to do for gifts this year, consider pillowcases! Enjoy friends!

  • Joy - Best gift idea EVER. I think this will be my first project for my new machine when I get it! And I’m going to be the recipient of the first set!ReplyCancel

    • theresa in tucson - I make pillowcases for gifts on a regular basis. Back when Disney’s “High School Musical” was the rage with the tween set, I made and sent several HSM pillowcase to the grand nieces. I made sure to add in extra since there were ocassionally visiting step children as well. In short, the girls could not have received anything better that year. Their mom said they had developed a rotation of who got what pillowcase.ReplyCancel

  • Julia Miller - I dearly love a project that looks great and gets done in a short amount of time!ReplyCancel

  • Donna Hensley - I love this idea!ReplyCancel

  • Stacie - This is such a great simple idea, and will be so well received, now off to dig through stash!ReplyCancel

  • Becky Thompson - Such a simple, yet great gift! My local quilt shop has the fabric in packages so you get coordinating fabrics for body and contrast which is what I did for my grandson’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pillowcase. It’s a bit more expensive to buy the kit but the fabric is ADORABLE and I didn’t have to think. :) You’re right, these are a great gift and I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t want a set. I’ve even made pillowcases from a top sheet that already has the top edge finished off with pretty satin trim and lacey stitching. Easy-peasy to cut and sew up the bottom and side. Secret: When I buy super expensive bed linen separates, I will make my own king pillow cases from a coordinating top sheet. $45 for a set of king pillowcases? HA! I don’t THINK so!ReplyCancel

  • Linda Galante - This is a great idea! I love your fabric and trim combinations and have a few fabrics in my stash that will work well with this project. Thanks so much for sharing this fun post!ReplyCancel

  • Stillsewing - Are these pillows hard to wash? It strikes me that with the regular washing I give my bed clothes these colours would fade very fast!ReplyCancel


It’s been awhile since I did a Fabric Friday. I’ve decided to rotate my Friday posts out and I have some fun ideas for Fridays around here. But I do love talking about fabric, so I’ll be featuring a Fabric Friday every month. Today I thought we could take a closer look a woven rayon fabrics. I love the drapey look of them, which reminds me of silk, yet they are fairly easy to sew with. I mean, it’s not quilting cotton by any stretch but as compares with other harder to handle fabrics, they are pretty nice.


Rayon. This is such a misunderstood fiber. When I still owned my store, the minute I would mention “rayon” the customer was turned off. I don’t know why, but I do believe that rayon and polyester have flipped roles in a lot of people’s minds these days. Polyester has a place, but I’m telling you, it’s plastic. It is plastic. Polyester doesn’t breath well and it is purely synthetic, unless mixed with other natural fibers. Rayon is not the same thing. Rayon is a cellulosic fiber and it’s roots are based in nature – tree pulp. Rayon, lyocell, acetate, triacetate, viscose*, modal and bamboo are all made from regenerated cellulose. These are considered semi-synthetics. Rayon is the oldest manufactured fiber. It was known as “artificial silk” when it first appear on the market in 1889 and it gained popularity as it was economical, comfortable to wear, breathable and versatile.
*Viscose is technically a process that rayon goes through to become a fiber/fabric, however the fabric is usually referred to as rayon in the U.S. and viscose in the United Kingdom.

Rayon is the fiber type here and then there are weaves that rayon fibers can be woven into to create different fabric types. Rayon Challis is one such fabric. It’s your basic plain weave. Rayon Challis is very drapey. It’s a thin fabric. Rayon usually has a cold touch to it, which warms up immediately with your body heat and it’s soft to wear – feels wonderful, honestly. Rayon Challis makes great dresses and tops, or even flowy skirts. Also think pajamas. This fabric would make lovely pajamas.


I had a couple of other types of rayon wovens that I thought I would show you too. They are very similar to rayon challis except the weave is just a bit different, however the characteristics stay the same – cold to the touch (warms up immediately though) comfortable, light and flowy, drapey, etc. The dotted fabric is rayon sateen. It has a satin weave as opposed to a plain weave and so one side has a sheen to it and the other side is dull.  also have a couple of pieces of rayon twill (pictured below), which has a twill weave instead of a plain weave. Kind of like denim and gabardine but not stiff or thick – it’s got the same hand as the rayon challis and sateen. There are other types of rayon wovens out there too. Rayon poplin, rayon batiste and rayon voile + more – just don’t let the rayon bit turn you off! Rayon is a pretty wonderful fabric. I use Bemberg Rayon lining for most lining projects. It’s 100% rayon fabric that feels wonderful to the skin and has longevity even though it’s marvelously light and thin.


Do you have rayon wovens in your stash? Anyone have any of that cold rayon from the 40s? Gosh how I would love some of that!

Hot Spots to find rayon wovens:
Rayons are fairly easy to locate – I see them at Joann and Hancock these days, but here are a couple online sources too.
Blackbird Fabrics
Hart’s Fabrics
Fabric Mart
Bemberg Lining – Vogue Fabrics

Find more Fabric Friday posts here!

  • oonaballoona - i adore rayon! maybe it became unworthy when the need for an inexpensive replacement for silk went away, and the stigma stuck?

    unfortunately, after all this eye candy, i suddenly want to abandon my wool coat in-progress, and start a summer maxi dress…ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - That sounds so marvelous! I was thinking I could get away with a drapey button-up shirt to wear under a cardigan. Sigh… I love rayon!ReplyCancel

  • Sharon - Thank you so much for fabric Friday’s. I have enjoyed sewing for years, but never had such great tutorials on fabric. I am learning things that I should have known all along. Fabric Friday’s are greatly appreciated!ReplyCancel

  • Mickey Newman - How is rayon to sew with? Does it ravel? Maybe you could add sewing tips to yourfabric Friday. Thanks, I enjoyed your post.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Thank you – this a great idea! I will most definitely try to do this in the future! I think rayon is fairly easy to sew with. It’s got some grip to it which helps it not to slide around too much. It does ravel, so french seams or a serger is nice.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - Thankyou Sunni for such a wonderful tutorial about Rayon. I’ve always loved Rayons, but can never find nice patterns in our box stores. It is a wonderful fabric that breathes and looks great. Do you have any fabric source suggestions.
    I so miss your online fabric store. I still have stashes of gorgeous wool that I purchased from you. Have a great one, Sunni.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Oh thank you Amy! I just updated with some online places that I look for rayons. They are few, but as I go along I’ll update more. Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • patsijean - I too like rayon, and acetate and do not understand why we do not see more of those fabrics.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - It’s such a good question! These days they are good fabrics! It’s nice to see Gertie doing some in her fabric line at Joann – they are pretty cute!ReplyCancel

  • raquel from jc - As a polymer engineer and sewing enthusiast I can say Rayon is one of may favorite fabrics to wear. I find it soft, very drapey and color wise very exciting. I really like tencel garments and there is one brand of knitting yarn call Handmaiden Sea Silk made with lyocell and seaweed. Beautiful pictures!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Oh thank you! And how awesome that you sew and you’re a polymer engineer – it’s just too cool!ReplyCancel

  • Hélène - Hurrah for rayon! Last summer, it was my go-to fabric for dresses after I had seen the Alder dress in rayon by Sew Busy Lizzy. The drape is incredible, but it creases a lot. Not a good choice for travels, but still one of my best fabrics. And those prints!ReplyCancel

  • LizJ - I love rayon as well! It is SO comfortable in the summer, even more so than cotton and silk, in my opinion. I don’t know why it fell out of favor either. Perhaps polyester was cheaper at the time?ReplyCancel

  • Helen - I LOVE rayon (or viscose, since I am a Brit!!). It’s fast becoming my favourite fabric to sew with and wear. Yes it’s not as easy to sew with as cotton, but it’s not that bad either, and it’s just divine to wear, particularly the Cotton+Steel stuff. I just wish it wear more widely available, particularly in solids!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Agreed! We need more rayon in our lives – hopefully a fabric manufacturer reads this!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Sunni – So happy you are back posting on a regular basis :-) – Really enjoy reading your informative posts. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Judi - Rayon is my favorite fabric, especially for skirts because it hangs beautifully. I have tons of rayon stash…beautiful prints that I had to have! Thank you for the info on rayon…most of which I didn’t know even after wearing it for years!ReplyCancel

  • Rory - I love rayon. Part of the reason that I believe people are turned off by this fabric is that back in the 90s when it seemed to be gaining some popularity it would shrink like a man in cold water. The texture was also so different from today. I have a small collection of sueded rayon, which someone told me no one is making anymore. It’s so soft and cool, with that brushed texture. Ahhhh….love.ReplyCancel

  • JenL - I generally like rayon fabrics, but I can tell you why customers would tend to be turned off – it used to be fairly awful stuff. Rayon fabrics have definitely improved over the years, for the most part. The stuff that used to be available in the early 80s for example, shrunk horribly, was often very ravelly, sometimes pilled, and was not durable. The earlier rayon, such as that from the 40s, has a tendency to absorb body odor that is unremovable. Some weaves can also have an odd kind of inflexibility at times, but I don’t know why.

    In my recent experience there seems to be vast differences in rayon quality. I suspect this is because it can be a fairly cheap material that lends itself to the low-end export market. I was disappointed by some rayon challis that I bought online awhile back – it seemed a lot like that old 80s stuff. Oh, well, you get what you pay for sometimes! On the other hand, modal, which I love, is often rather pricey, comparably.

    In (slight) defense of polyester, when woven to be breathable – like for exercise gear – it is superior (IMO) to natural fabrics because it dissipates moisture quickly. At least this is my experience, as someone with sensitive, rash-prone skin.

    Thanks for the fabric review!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Thank you for this! I keep wondering about it actually and so it’s nice to hear some concrete info on why it fell out of favor! Thank you JenL!ReplyCancel

      • Sunni

        Sunni - And I was going to add that I do think polyester has a place – you are right, it does well in active wear with moisture wicking. And though I’ve been more of a snob in the past, I’ve been finding some cute polyester prints that would work as cute tops or even a fun lining. I like it woven with other fibers especially in ponte knits and I’m a fan of it in coatings too. It does have a place.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - Rayon is my favorite fabric! I’m so glad it’s making a comeback. I actually have a couple of the prints you have pictured! Joann’s usually has some in not-terrible prints and I like that I am able to find dresses and pajamas made of rayon at target and gap now. I also have a small stash of vintage 40’s rayon. It’s so wonderful to work with. I have a royal blue piece with firework print I’m saving for a special occasion.ReplyCancel

  • robin - I’m being drawn to rayon and rayon blends lately because it sews beautifully. I love its drape. In the past, I avoided it, remembering the cheap renditions in rtw. But now, I have a different perspective and it’s at the top of my list and in great company with my natural wovens.ReplyCancel

  • Miss Bloomers - I would say I’ve been afraid to use rayons in my sewing because of the time, long ago, I bought a rayon top. The first time I washed it, and I had it set to cold, it shrank like nobody’s business! What are you tips for laundering rayon? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I do believe that it’s a shrinker. I’ve always had it shrink for me, so I would say purchase extra yardage if you can. I have found though that the newer rayons don’t shrink as badly as some of the older ones in my stash.ReplyCancel

  • Juliana @ Urban Simplicity - I love rayon too! Challis is one of my faves. I will say, I don’t love rayon knits because they tend to be too thin and cling in weird ways, but woven rayon is da bomb. It really is a four-season fabric, and the feeling against the skin is just lovely. I just started sewing with it this summer because it sort of scared me, but now I’m feeling more confident (microtex stretch needles, that’s the ticket!!)

    I’ve not been super impressed with the challis I’ve gotten from Joann fabrics (it goes off grain if you look at it sideways) but other challis I’ve found is wonderful. It is kind of a unicorn fabric though–it is hard to find the right weight in challis with a good print at a decent price point.ReplyCancel

  • Pippa K - I LOVE rayon (Well viscose being another brit) it is def my go to fabric for tops etc and I can normally pick it out in the store by feel, it feels so much softer than cottons. I am finding a lot more RTW clothes are being produced in Viscose and im all for this.
    Do you have any good links for places to find it in the UK?ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - I do like good-quality rayon – breathable, silky, and nice to work with. However, my experience has been that the quality varies WIDELY. It’s hard to know when I’m buying a piece of rayon challis (and I see this a LOT with rayon knits, as well) whether or not it will start to pill after just a few washings. A lot of the rayon clothing I buy I have to wash on delicate and hang dry because it doesn’t hold up as well as cotton (and I’ve started avoiding it altogether in clothing stores). I’ve started to shy away from it in the fabric store for the same reason – I have to baby it and I never know how long it is going to last. The exception to this is Bemberg, which I will always choose for lining and always holds up well. Maybe it’s because I already tend to “baby” my lined garments?ReplyCancel

  • Mary - I am not a big fan of rayon. It can shrink horribly and the quality is all over the charts. I am afraid I associate it with cheap clothing. I do appreciate a hefty quality rayon knit though and do use bemberg as a lining.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Howard - Well I’m just adding to the love-in here. Rayon is the best. Just the best. I live in Sydney Australia which can be really humid for a lot of the year. Rayon copes with this perfectly. The woven stuff that is. I don’t think I’ve ever sewn with rayon knit. I wash it and put it in the dryer before I sew it though. I assume it shrinks because of my experiences with rtw in the 80s and 90s. I’ve made dozens of Scout tees as well of lots of other cool loose tops. It’s readily available in Spotlight at the moment. Also great for pjs.ReplyCancel

  • Hanne - I love rayon. It’s a pity it’s quite difficult to find in Belgium, however, suppliers are starting to stock up on lovely rayon wovens again, which is good for my budget, since silks are not!

    Thank you for sharing this great knowdledge! I also love the fact that you added wovens. Often people mistake the fibre for the fabric name, which can cause a lot of confusion, especially when buying fabrics online!ReplyCancel

  • Lusty - I just bought a pile of gorgeous rayons from Harts Fabric last friday. They had one called a peachskin, which is sort of brushed on one side, and I love the heavier weight of the twill.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Mulkey - I live in hot, humid Houston, TX and am very fond of rayon challis. I make all my nightgowns with it as well as tunic tops. Yes it shrinks but I always pre-wash my fabrics before sewing so it’s never a problem.ReplyCancel

  • Vicki - Hi from ‘Down Under’, Sunni! This post is so timely for me and I thank you so much for your generosity in sharing your knowledge with us. I have two pieces of rayon that were brought back from a vacation in Vietnam by the owner of my favorite local (very small) fabric store. I have hand laundered both pieces in cold water and line-dried them in the hot Aussie sun and they both had minimal (if any) shrinkage. The one piece that has a bright orange colored flower on it (laundered separately) did lose a tiny bit of color in the laundering water but unnoticeable in the actual dried fabric. I have had concerns about the fabric creasing, but then linen creases and linen is certainly not a cheap fabric. Tomorrow I will cut one piece of my rayon to make up Butterick B5997. Wish me luck as I embark on my very first experience with rayon!ReplyCancel

  • Ryan - I haven’t sew much with rayon since the 90s and I admit I’m kind of scared because so much of it shrank in the wash back then, even hand washing. I do have some rayon crepe which i haven’t used yet because it’s really springy and I’m not sure what it would be best for. Probably a dress or a pull over woven tee. I want to wear more rayon and if you all are saying that the shrinkage isn’t so bad anymore (and I can pre wash/dry) then I definitely need to try it again.ReplyCancel

  • Lady ID - I quite like rayon actually. I’ve found it breathable and comfortable when you can get your hands on a good batch.ReplyCancel

  • Cherie - Sunni, great post. I’m getting to know the more modern rayons, and like them a lot!ReplyCancel

  • Sewing Sveta - yes, I have!%)) The dotted fabric from you post%)))ReplyCancel

  • Wendy - Wrinkles! I made a lot of clothes in the 80’s and 90’s, and ended up giving them all away because they wrinkled so badly. But I just bought a piece of rayon that doesn’t seem to wrinkle. Has something changed?ReplyCancel

  • eimear - rayon is a lovely fabric, and for vegetarians, its a popular choice (no silk worms damaged here) as it is derived from mulberry so all natural. I think in the last number of years its being used more in fast fashion and its a lesser quality. personally, i prefer if something is a rayon/viscose mix as you can get fabulous results, although i find linen mix can shrink (but only as I dont dry clean!) – glad you are doing fabric posts again – I love themReplyCancel

  • Jewel Nelson - Love Rayon. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes it is hard to find a rayon instead of poly fabric. Lovely in summer heat (Rayon not poly).ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - What a great post! I love rayon & think it is my favourite fabric to sew & wear aT the moment! Here in Australia it is good for,our summers. I just picked up some dreamy printed rayon in Helsinki (what a great souvenir!) and the quality seems to be a lot better than our chain stores that we have- it really is a lot closer to the “imitation” silk. I just made a summer maxi (Southport) dress and it is beyond perfect!ReplyCancel

  • PsychicKathleen - I’m just making the Oslo (Tilly & the Buttons) out of a gorgeous batique rayon woven that I picked up as a remnant from our local fabric shop. It’s fabulous to work with and drapes like a heavy silk. Thank you for posting such a helpful blog!ReplyCancel

  • Haute Hippie - I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but the production of rayon is very environmentally damaging. A lot of nasty chemicals are used to process wood pulp into fabric. Other similar fabrics like modal or lyocell have many of the same desirable properties of rayon, but use less toxic chemicals and actually produce a more durable fabricReplyCancel

  • julie zammarchi - Hi,

    I have 4 yards of rayon from the 40’s I think. It’s navy blue ground with pink/red/green rosebuds printed on it. Small scale print. my husband got it for me at Brimfield Antiques market but it’s not my thing. Want it? Really, just send me your address and it’s yours.

    Julie ZReplyCancel

  • Amanda - 100% agree – rayon is the BOMB! I really like acetate and viscose too, but did not know that viscose was the same thing as rayon – you learn something new everyday! I’m a huge fan of rayon in the summer months particularly, as it is so cool and breathable, something that polyester definitely can NOT boast of 😛ReplyCancel

  • Peggy - I’ve always loved rayon and am happy to see it is back in favor but, being a life-long environmentalist did a little research on the environmental impact of this wonderful fabric. To beat that pulp into a fluid fabric uses a lot of water and chemicals, as well as the raw material – trees. This year alone, 70-100 million trees will be used to produce rayon. Some of those are old growth trees while some are beech and eucalyptus. Lyocell (aka Tencel) is considered the best choice in terms of environmental impact (less water, 98% recovered chemicals, plantation trees), followed by modal. Every fabric has its upside and downside, and I will still buy rayon, but now I look for these two types.ReplyCancel

  • Evie - Rayon challis may just be my favorite fabric ever. I have a handful of dresses I’ve made from it that get tons of wear, and several more pieces in my stash.ReplyCancel

  • ltinuviel - Thank you, Sunny, for this informative post!ReplyCancel


Last week, when I shared some tool tips for beginners, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about the arsenal of cutlery I’ve acquired over the years for various stages of the sewing process. I found that when it comes to the world of scissors, there is something that fits nearly every circumstance. There’s a lot of choices, which is great! Yay for choice!

You might be asking, “Why do I need more than one pair of scissors?” It’s a valid question and one that I asked too. As I’ve sewn more and more garments over the years, I’ve found the value of having lots of different types of scissors that work better than others do in different stages of the construction process. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the pleasure, but I’ve cut holes into garments from using the wrong scissors. It’s a cold compress moment. Tears are usually shed. Expletives start flying. It’s not pretty.




Let’s start with the old standbys. My fabric cutting shears. I have three pairs of these. I have a pair of Kai’s that are great for most everything. They could slice through steel I tell ya! I also have a pair of spring-loaded Gingher’s that I use only on silk fabrics. I end up working a lot with wool and a lot with silk and I’ve found that wool actually dulls my shears a little, so I opted to invest in a pair that was only for silks and/or thin fabrics like lining so that I wouldn’t have to get them sharpened as often. I also have a pair of Gingher serrated shears that are marvelous for those extra, extra tricksy slippery fabrics. The knife edge has tiny micro serrations in it and they grip the fabric and then slice and they are ideal for silk charmeuse or chiffon.


My next most used pairs of scissors are my nippers. They are a Gingher pair, but I’ve used others with success too. I use nippers for cutting threads and they stay right next to my sewing machine while I sew. I have tried to get used to the thread cutter on my machine, but I like the ritual of using my nippers. It’s a funny little preference as I do love speed, but it’s something I do.


My tailor points come next (on the right above). These are a little 5 inch pair of Gingher scissors that I use all the time for clipping, trimming and grading. They are probably my favorite pair, I use them so much! The short length helps protect against the dreaded slice into the garment. Mainely Dad also recommends bandage scissors that help protect against that sort of thing even more! I’ve yet to try a pair, but my mister also agrees with as he’s worked in a hospital using these. Look, these ones are serrated! I use these Gingher Applique Scissors (on the left above) for narrow hems, like say on a circle skirt. Surprisingly that’s about the only thing I use these for, but I do find them very useful in that instance. They are handy to have around when you need to get nice and close to an edge.


Last, but not least, I do have a pair of Gingher pinkers. I’ve seen these used as a seam finish, but I use them for trimming curved seams. You know how you’re supposed to notch or clip curved seams so they lay right? I use pinkers instead and trim the seam to about 1/4″. Granted this is only on enclosed seams, but they are very useful for this purpose.


Back a few years ago, I made a little peg board especially for my shears (and then from there I added other items to it too). It’s very handy as all my scissors are hanging up and out of the way and they are easy to access when I need them. Took an old picture frame from a thrift shop and had some peg board precut to the right dimensions and voila – instant scissor hanger!

There’s my arsenal of scissors. I don’t use much in the way of a rotary cutter – though I have two for odd jobs. I’m a shears and scissors lover. What about you? Are there special scissors that really help you? Or do you use a rotary cutter? Thoughts on the best ones you’ve tried? We’d all love to know!

  • Sarah - How weird! In the UK “cutlery” means knives and forks – what people in the US would call “silverware” I think.
    I was expecting a completely different post from the title… :)ReplyCancel

    • Sewer - “Cutlery” means knives, forks, and spoons in the U.S. too. I was so surprised by the use of the word that I even checked to see if there was a definition of which I was unaware. There isn’t.ReplyCancel

    • A - In the US cutlery means knives and forks also. I also thought we were going to get a post on bringing something from the kitchen into the sewing room. After reading the article, I assume she is just extending the use of the word to metal ware in the sewing room.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - Great post! I was wondering about the rotary cutter you have hanging on your pegboard. What brand is it? Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I have two rotary cutters. The grey one in the photo is the Gingher one and then I have a Kai rotary cutter too. I personally prefer the Kai, but I do admit, I don’t use them very often.ReplyCancel

  • melissapurls - Pinking shears on curves?!? Brilliant!ReplyCancel

  • SJ Kurtz - I misuse the duckbills/applique scissors at my house for everything fabric; they are that handy (and they hold a sharpening).

    I am still working with the first crummy rotary cutter I ever bought, I still hate it, but I find it’s handier than it used to be. I see you have the Gingher, and I have heard fine things about the Kai (both brands I’ve long experience with).


    • Sunni

      Sunni - I prefer the Kai – it just holds better and the cutting is easier.ReplyCancel

  • Lady ID - I love the rotary cutter. I use it most of the time now. I also love my Gingher applique scissors. I use them all the time. I ordered some Kai embroidery scissors since I ruined my Fiskars. And I’m also waiting for replacement Gingher pinking shears to replace my ten year old cheapies.ReplyCancel

  • Holly - Great post!

    After a hand injury a year ago I started using my rotary cutters almost exclusively, and I don’t know why I waited so long, I love them. Now I mostly only use scissors for trimming, snipping, etc.ReplyCancel

  • Sewer - [Are being comments being published? They don’t seem to be showing up. I’m reluctant to leave a longer comment.]

    I have many of the tools discussed. I would not hang my tools on peg board, especially a rotary cutter. I’ve read too many reports of accidents when they’ve fallen off tables.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Yes, I do try to make sure that all relevant comments are published. I get a lot of spam on my site, but I do double check all of them to make sure that all the real folks get their comments published. Sorry for the wait!

      The peg board is just a suggestion/idea and one that I’ve never had any trouble with. What do you do with your cutting tools?ReplyCancel

  • mike - What a great post and great collection of cutlery! Curious – where do you get them sharpened? A standard knife sharpening store? — mikeReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I do believe that a standard knife sharpening store will sharpen them for you. Your local fabric shop – if you have one – usually has an option or they might even know of a place where you can get them sharpened. Both Gingher (owned by Fiskars) and Kai offer scissor sharpening services where you send your scissors to them directly and have them sharpened. This is something to consider if you have serrated shears as I’ve not heard of a sharpener who can do that. I’ve yet to try the send off to Gingher or Kai so I’m not sure of the time frame, but it is a possibility.ReplyCancel

      • Mike - That was kind of a stupid question – didn’t stop to think of a fabric store. 😉 I have my knives hand sharpened and had him to my mother’s old fabric shears (just wasn’t sure if the process was the same). Thanks for the tip!ReplyCancel

  • Janet Sandberg - I do a lot of home dec sewing for work, and love my big Kai shears; very lightweight and with a nice long blade. For close-in work like snipping to a stitch line I use an amazingly sturdy and sharp pair of electrician’s snips from Klein Tools, model 2100-7, available at many hardware stores or online. They work well even on heavy fabrics and I would not want to do without them. A recent find is also from Kai/Omnigrid, a tiny delicate scissor with very pointed blades that is great for cleaning up buttonholes and whatnot.
    Love your blog!ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - Love the post and your board, now I don’t feel as guilty with all my different scissors. If I may, I would add paper scissors to the collection.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Oh good – so glad to hear that someone else has a plethora! I find them so useful in so many different situations. And yes, paper scissors!ReplyCancel

  • Becky Thompson - Great post! I too love my Kai shears for general fabric slicing. I picked up a pair of Kai curved snips for trimming inside the machine embroidery hoop. Like you, I keep snips next to my machine for when a seam needs a haircut. 😊 There are general purpose Fiskars for cutting anything paper but I always use my Olfa 45mm rotary cutter for patterns. I use large washers from the hardware store (low profile is a must) for pattern weights and now cutting out patterns is done in no time. Then I go back with my snips to mark the notches. Its a simple matter to move the pinned pattern along the cutting mat. This method is better for me because the fabric doesn’t lift during the cutting process and I’ve discovered I won’t cut slinky fabrics without the rotary cutter. I also use a smaller wheeled version for tight curves.ReplyCancel

  • Dinara - Great post, thank you.
    I love my nippers. I don’t know how I lived without them before.
    But I was wondering why people use pinkers, thanks for explanations, I will try your method in futureReplyCancel

  • PsychicKathleen - I’m gradually acquiring quite a selection of cutting instruments myself! When you start out you think you just need a couple of pairs but as you go along you realize that each specialized pair has that one use that makes the job so much easier, precise and faster. I love my KAI definitely. But I love my duck bills and snips as well.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - Love that pegboard, I’ll be making one pronto! I must admit to a recent love affair with the rotary cutter but, horses for courses.ReplyCancel

linton-tweed-3Fall has lasted forever here, but winter is just around the corner and with it holiday time! Is it just me or do the dresses that come out around this time of year shock you? What I’m talking about is the fact that there seems to be an awful lot of dresses that flood the market for the “holidays” and they are more often than not, wispy little things, sleeveless and well, they look like you could catch a death of cold in them! It’s something that I think about every year when this part of the year rolls around. “Gosh that’s a pretty dress, but I wouldn’t be caught dead in it in this weather” as I look outside and see snow falling. Granted I live in a state where the snow does fly and it can get pretty cold. And in general, I get cold and I’m always bundled up to the nines and in something much more dreadfully boring than those fun holiday dresses.


Anyhow, I was thinking about all of this when the idea hit me that I needed more winter friendly dresses. I got myself over to a local chain fabric store on my lunch hour one day and started gandering at the Newlook book. I don’t know why, but I always overlook the Newlook and Kwik Sew patterns. Newlook has some pretty great patterns though. I found several dress patterns that had fun necklines and yet seemed like a quick sewing fix. That’s what this Newlook 6144 (out of print now!) was and I knew it would be a perfect addition to the winter dress library.


This dress was also work appropriate. This is something I’ve been rolling around in the old noggin for a while now and I’ll be doing more posts about, but work appropriate clothes can sometimes be pretty hard to accomplish. Well, they are for me. I’m wanting to look a certain, professional, yet fun, exciting and stylish way and the two get sort of blended together in a way that doesn’t always work for me. More on that to come.


I decided to use a stash piece of fabric. All of the fabric was stash, actually (yay! I’m so proud of myself!). I was determined to use stash! The body is Linton Tweed and it is pretty thick. Quite thick really, and warm – perfect for snowy days. The sleeves are a navy wool crepe I had and then I lined the dress in bemberg rayon lining – some bits and bobs that I had lying around so that I could get the pieces used up. I used an invisible zip and used a lining treatment for the vent that comes from my favorite Easy Guide to Sewing Linings book.


The tweed was marvelous to work with. It did what I wanted it to do and was very easy to press and shape. I had purchased this fabric a couple of years ago, from their pretty fantastic online store. To be honest, if you’re into fine fabrics much, the prices for these tweeds are not really as much as I was anticipating they would be – I mean don’t get me wrong, they are expensive. I’ve seen them range from $25 – $75 per meter which seems standard when you’re looking at fine unique wools. The shipping is fairly costly, but I remember I received my package within 3 days!

I took the time to do plaid matching and was very happy with the way my Pfaff stitched it together using that Integrated Dual Feed! I used the lining trick from this Threads article (same lady who wrote Easy Guide to Sewing Linings) and it’s one of my favorite techniques to use with facings. I opted for a more conservative fabric belt and belt loops instead of the OBI belt that came with the pattern. I handstitched the hem and used rayon seam binding for hem tape as a final finishing touch.



All in all, this dress turned out pretty great. The fitting was fairly simple, the construction too and I’m thrilled that I have an appropriate winter dress for the workplace – if not a little party get together after! I’m so glad it’s warm – like winter coat warm! Yay! Ready or not Winter, here I come!


What do you do to keep warm in the winter? How do you work around the holiday dresses that flood the market this time of year and seem ill equipped to deal with winter weather? Is it just me? I just don’t know how you wear a sleeveless wispy dress in the snow. Last, but not least, visit my Kollabora page for a full detailed review of this dress.

  • Jane - This looks like the perfect office dress to me – that Linton Tweed is absolutely stunning and well worth the investment. I particularly like the neckline detail.ReplyCancel

  • Hester - I have cut the pieces for exactly this pattern, and it is waiting to be sewn up; mine is in a blue plaid, which I think will be cute; I love the tweed with the contrast sleeves though!
    I’m planning on lining mine as well, and was wondering how to handle the shaping at the neck, so I shall follow your example with the darts (I was wondering whether there was a way of moving the darts down into bust darts, but I think it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth!).

    I have some sleeveless winter dresses which I wear over a long-sleeved t-shirt (sometimes a thermal one), and/or under a cardigan. I’m in the UK now, and our winters are pretty mild, but I survived two winters in Southern Ontario, mainly by layering!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I thought about moving the darts too and I too thought it was more trouble that it’s worth. With the facing I find that the darts didn’t add too much bulk and it gave a little extra room in the section for the lining to move and not be pulled to tightly across the bust.ReplyCancel

  • Tina - Love the dress, Sunni! I too amy very cold natured and have also looked at the dresses this time of year wondering the same thing you do. Seriously, not me in that dress in winter!!! So where do you get your wool crepe now that you don’t have your online store? I kick myself for not ordering more wool crepe from you before you closed :(ReplyCancel

  • Helen - Gorgeous dress! Great job on the lining, it looks so perfect!ReplyCancel

  • Eileensews - What a pretty dress!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - This looks lovely – an absolutely ideal office/party dress!ReplyCancel

  • Manju - This is a beautiful dress. I too have bits of Linton tweed in my stash (I live about 20 minutes from there shop!) but I am too scared to do anything with them because I think they need underlining etc. But yours has inspired me! Love the pattern and combination of fabrics.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - You know I was afraid of the same thing!! I felt like mine was pretty loosely woven, so I decided to put my through a gentle wash and hang to dry. This tightened it up a good amount. When I cut everything out, I was surprised that it held together quite well. It actually did not unravel right before my eyes – so I think you pay for the high quality of the fabric. It’s lovely stuff to work with. Just lovely!ReplyCancel

  • Sherry - That’s the great thing about sewing – you can make your own winter dress even if there are none in the shops! This looks lovely Sunni, and I love the look of a contrast sleeve. I wear a lot of sleeveless dresses with a long sleeve top underneath in winter, a similar look.
    What a great idea to use up odds and ends of lining in the one garment – it looks rather cute!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Thank you Sherry! It’s so good to hear from you and I’ve been keeping up on your blog too. So glad that you are giving us some of your great knowledge and expertise again.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - Gorgeous! I love the tweed!ReplyCancel

  • Julie - Beautiful dress! For those who might be interested, I purchased this pattern last week at a big box fabric store so it may stilll be available in some locations. Seeing the pattern made up so beautifully inspires me to get busy on my own holiday dress.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - Snug and stylish, perfect. Thanks for the link to the lining information, must give it try.ReplyCancel

  • Linda Galante - Lovely dress. The fabric is stunning! I love that threads article too – – Honestly, I avoid RTW dresses at this time of year. It’s simply ridiculous to go out and about with a sleeveless dress, even to a party, and I just don’t get the obsession with them. Your dress looks cozy and warm and gorgeous too.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I have the same feelings! I just don’t get it! I love how they show gals in bare legs, bare arms and stiletto heels too! If it were snowing or even if there were snow on the ground, this would be absolutely silly – not to mention dangerous! Good grief!ReplyCancel

  • Aura Oriano - What a cheerful looking dress! As someone who lived in SLC, I can agree that wool is a great bet for the dry, utterly crispy cold nights. Going to look for the pattern on ebay. If I can do it in another warm fabric, I’m in. Can’t do wool in Seattle, sadly. Great make!ReplyCancel

  • Manouela - Love your dress! I have this pattern and it looks too appropriate for me but your version is really inspiring! I might give this pattern another try now :)ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - I just ranted in my mind last week about the same issue. I live in New England. Why are there sleeveless winter dresses in our stores?!!! I think last year I gave up on dresses except for one casual dress I made from Malden Mills fleece. I also spent a lot of time thinking about maxi skirts I could line or wear leggings under. I love your dress, and I definitely think it’s work and holiday appropriate and just beautiful. I really like your color sense.ReplyCancel

  • Margo - I was just thinking this very same thing about winter dresses! After I went and made a SLEEVELESS grey wool dress. dumb or what? I guess I’ll be wearing it with a cardigan! Love your dress, warm and festive!!!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I can definitely see wearing a sleeveless dress with cardigan though! This a great thought! I was considering some of the same as I have several lovely cardigans this year that would do well over a dress. Great idea!ReplyCancel

  • Wednesday Weekly #14 | Helen's ClosetHelen's Closet - […] Sunni’s bright tweed dress is a perfect outfit for fall.  I love the texture, colour, and silhouette.  Not to mention those boots! […]ReplyCancel

  • justine - You did a beautiful job! Very cozy, yet still streamlined! I agree that New Look has some great styles that are overlooked by most sewing bloggers.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Totally agreed! I rarely see anyone make any Newlooks and they are pretty decent patterns and they come in a great price range. Yay!ReplyCancel

  • Tomasa - Your dress is gorgeous on the outside and inside. I love it. It fits you beautifully as well. I too have often wondered about those skimpy holiday dresses during cold weather…ReplyCancel

  • EmSewCrazy - Haha! YES!! I totally agree with you! Where do these people live that wear those skimpy things? I’ve got some heavy sweatshirt knit that I want to turn into dresses. I’ve got a Russian wool coat that I want to turn into a little jumper that I can wear with a turtleneck and wool leggings.
    Staying warm, professional and cute is a challenge that you have mastered well with this one!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - I love this! What a great use of a beautiful wool, I am going to tuck this idea away for when I am finally ready to cut into some of my beautiful wools! Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Gail - Now that is classy sewing. Beautiful dress, a classic that will you will wear for years.ReplyCancel

  • Hanne - That looks great, Sunni!
    I love the lining. It also happens to me that I have just enough left to squeeze out a pair of sleeves or a body… It’s a sweet secret if you have such a colourful lining in a very stylish dress!ReplyCancel

  • Joen - Dress looks great! love your fabric choice, thanks for sharing the lining info, will definitely look into the book you referenced.ReplyCancel

  • Elinor Walpole - I just made this up too- it came free with Sew Magazine a couple of years back and my mum picked it up as a gift for me. It makes perfect workwear- wish I’d nailed the fitting on mine as slinkily as you have on yours! I’ll definitely think about lining my next one, the neckline is so flattering that I’m sure there’ll be another. Here’s my version: