Plaid Jacket Chronicles: Planning the Plaid

Hip Hip Hooray! We are finally to the stage of making final decisions about planning the jacket. In this video, I’ll be showing you how I went about planning my jacket. Its kind of lengthy, but I feel that I’m giving you a ton of info and ideas here for how to plan a jacket of your own.

A few key points to get from this video: Identify the three main pieces of the jacket which are the jacket front, jacket back and the upper sleeve and visualize the “T” shape in the pattern. The video goes more in depth with this and explains it a lot better, so definitely give it a watch. These are the first pieces that you’ll cut and hence the most important. I’ll be going over how to prep your pattern, layout and cutting in upcoming episodes, but just know that utilizing those three main pieces will make your life so much easier.

From these three main pieces, the other pieces will be matched and cut. This sounds so much harder than it really is so I’m going to show you my fast and dirty way to do this!

Think about where you want the dominant stripe to be placed whether that be along the center front/center back or along the bust/shoulder blade line. Remember that the front and back should mirror each other so if you put the dominant stripe along the bust line in the front, it should match along the corresponding shoulder blade line in the back.

Use bias pieces to your advantage. Keep in mind that when working with unbalanced plaids, the bias won’t create perfect chevrons which may affect whether or not you choose to utilize this idea. Also keep in mind that bias pieces should mirror each other so that if one side front is cut on the bias the other side with be a perfect mirror image.

Use a solid color throughout your jacket. Splashes of solid color help to break up a plaid to soften the strong look of such a bold garment. I mention several ideas for utilizing this idea.

Alrighty! I hope you enjoy this edition of the Plaid Jacket Chronicles. More to come! Yay!

So far, here are all the posts in order:
Head of the Class – my recent plaid jacket make
the Beginning
a Peek into my Plaid Stash & Balanced vs. Unbalanced Plaids
Finding the Dominant Stripe
Picking a Pattern for Plaids

  • Irene - I really like this series! I dread plaid matching- I have several plaid fabrics in my stash but I haven’t started to use them (even for simple pencil skirts- let alone more complicated garments) because I don’t feel confident that I will pull off the plaid matching. I am enjoying your tutorials and I hope that this coming fall I will venture to cut one of my beautiful plaid fabrics! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Gail - Great video, Sunni! I’m so excited about this project. I picked up that same pattern yesterday – now to go plaid fabric shopping!
    Gail recently posted..Shimmer BlueReplyCancel

  • K-Line - Great video Sunni – though I have to say that pattern matching is the LAST sewing skill I imagine I will ever get with. The idea of matching makes me want to break out in hives! I even gave away lots of plaid fabric (bought originally before I understood sewing and matching) cuz it was taunting me. Wish I’d sent it to you – for science :-) ReplyCancel

  • Amy - It seems like you’re having so much fun making these video lessons. Thanks for the tips. It’s fun to get little tiny bite sized sewing lessons here on your blog.
    Amy recently posted..Burberry Sewing ToteReplyCancel

  • Gail - I’m enjoying your foray into video instructions and can see myself pulling out that black and white wool plaid from the stash before too long!
    Gail recently posted..Easy business wearReplyCancel

  • Jennifer @ Workroom Social - Sunni, these videos have been really fun to watch. I love the series! Can’t wait to read (and watch) your upcoming Plaid Jacket Chronicle posts!!
    Jennifer @ Workroom Social recently posted..Sewing on Trend – Well SuitedReplyCancel

  • Tanya - Thank you for these videos! I’m about to sew my first coat, and I’m waiting to cut out my fabric until I watch the next installment(s). Really, really appreciate all that I’m learning from you.ReplyCancel

Happy Accidents

Several months ago, I was gifted a Boden catalog from a lady I work with. It was love at first sight! This clothing company has the cutest, most tasteful and wearable clothing I’ve seen in awhile. I love how there is an abundance of flat shoes and comfortable, yet stylish clothing with color! whenever I look at their catalogs or website. It’s like real life, my life, stuff that was designed with me in mind. It inspires and makes me giddy. I received their fall catalog a couple of weeks ago and carried it about with me for a week for fear of someone stealing it while I schemed about knock-offs I could make for my own wardrobe.

This was one of the first dresses that caught my eye from the catalog. Oh so sixties inspired and oh so cute and yet, comfortable. Its a knit dress and that friends, equals comfort in my book. After mentally torturing myself that I didn’t have the money to purchase said dress from Boden, it finally dawned on me that I had just the pattern and fabric to make my own version instead. This is vintage 1960s Simplicity 8381. Isn’t it awesome, I mean a gas?

I scored this pattern from one of the ladies at Yellow Bird who was getting rid of some vintage lovelies. This one was a couple sizes too small for me, but I loved the design so took it home with me. Little did I know it was the perfect size for a knit! Yes! I love it when fate and fortune meet and end up with a happy snazzy result. I took the liberty of changing a few things about the pattern here. I hacked off the sleeve to make it 3 /4 length and turned the vertical darts in the back to a princess seam. Also chiseled out the neckline a bit and opted for a neckline binding instead of the facing situation the pattern had going on. As far as the fit is concerned, I just compared the bodice area to my favorite knit t-shirt pattern, just to make sure it was in the ballpark of where I needed it for a knit. And fantastically, it was. I made some small changes to the sleeve cap from my t-shirt pattern, but otherwise, this pattern is straight out of the envelope.

Aren’t those silly little pockets, the best? I think they make the whole dress and weren’t even apart of the original Boden inspiration. I didn’t have the heart to not include them. Additionally, I have to state, that this dress is full of mistakes. One thing I’ve found is that mistakes and risks can lead to creative solutions. All the frustration that comes from doing one thing when you should have done another can bear some interesting results. Could not be truer in this dress. The center back, that was going to be an exposed zipper. Well friends, that zipper didn’t end up working like I thought, so instead I decided to improvise with an appliqued tab. I think the tab is a little on the long side – sadly it couldn’t be any shorter because there’s slashes in fabric from the zipper, but I still think it works. Same idea at work in the shoulder seams. The princess seams from the front and back, though the middles match up, the topstitching lines do not. I folded one princess seam one way and the other in the opposite direction. So to fix this eyesore, I added applique strips and topstitched. Now that mistake is not quite so obvious and this ends up just looking like a fun added detail to the overall design. Hopefully this gives you some ideas as you sew. When working with mistakes, its always good to think outside the box or even get a second opinion from someone else.

The fabric here was from the stash. Oiy. My stash is so big and so I’ve finally determined that I must be better about using it up first before even thinking about aquiring more fabric. This is a ponte knit and if you don’t know about pontes, you should. Its a double knit and the way rad thing about double knits these days is that they are kind of like stretch wovens, except better. You can end up using them instead of wovens for woven patterns and just go down a size or two and they can be unbelievably comfortable. Pontes in particular are also easy peasy to sew with as far as knits go – a great transition from working with wovens to working with knits – and they can be easy to wash and care for. I think I’ll do a special post on this great fabric for y’all!

It’s far too hot at the moment to be wearing such a dress (and this is the dress that I have to wear a slip with!) so it’ll be a great addition the fall line-up in my closet. I really, really want a red one. We’ll see. Do you like knit dresses? Ever heard of Boden?

  • Chris - A girl after my own heart! I ADORE Boden clothes but as they’re beyond my budget (except in the sales), I drool over their website/catalogue and then try to make something similar, at a fraction of the price. Love your dress, especially the accented top stitching, looks fabulous – well doneReplyCancel

  • Christine - Ah yes Boden. I still have quite a few boden pieces although they are mostly too big for me now. But I have made skirts based on their designs. Little A lines with bias waists and hems. A shirt or two. Just gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - Knit dresses are my favorites!! Your dress is absolutely fabulous ~ beautiful color and fit. Great job on those “mistakes”. I would not have known that I could do that.
    I love double knits but can’t quite distinguish between double knits or ponte knits yet. I’ve made the mistake of purchasing some awful knit (I think they’re poly) that I thought were double knit. I liked the colors but the poly ugh. A post on ponte’s would be great! I want more of this fabric in my life!
    Jenny recently posted..Chiffon Maxi SkirtReplyCancel

  • Angela - I LOVE your dress–it is adorable! All your “mistakes” just make it. I would have never thought to do that tab over the zipper. And those pockets are wonderful. It’s great when something you make turns out way better than your inspiration:)ReplyCancel

  • johanna@projects by me - I think the tab is fab! :) And the whole dress too of course, I LOVE knit dresses.
    johanna@projects by me recently posted..Unselfish sewing part 5 – Striped giraffe dress for one of my sisterReplyCancel

  • Karen - That dress is darling and I love the tab down the back! I hope you get around to making a red one.ReplyCancel

  • KayoticSewing - Sunni, I love that dress!! It’s even better than the inspiration and the topstitching really brings out the beauty of this one.
    The dress looks fantastic on you! Go for the red one!

    And yes, Another big fan of Boden here! :) ReplyCancel

  • Ginny - Very nice! Those pockets are so cute :) I love ponte knit for dresses. I made one for my Christmas day dress last year with a lace overlay, and another in about May that I have yet to wear. I feel the heat easily and ponte is much too warm for summer! It will likely get a lot of wear over this winter though- it’s a beautiful deep plum-y purple/pink that I can’t wait to wear!
    Ginny recently posted..Tiny Knitting, with baby mitts patternReplyCancel

  • Janet Pray - Love, love, love the dress. It’s so you! And very 60′s so much so I have to admit I had one very similar. But no, not a gas. More like, Far Out or Out of sight or Groovy! That’s it Groovy.

  • Jessica - I have never heard of Boden, but spent a few minutes perusing their website through your link. Gorgeous clothing!

    I absolutely love your take on their shift dress! Funny though I originally thought your dress was velvet from the pictures… it just looks like it has such deep saturated color and a softness too it.

    I am going to have to check out Ponte Knits more… looking forward to your post about them.ReplyCancel

  • Jane - I absolutely love knit dresses and made myself three last year and I agree about double knit, it’s just lovely and so comfortable to wear. I think your knock off dress is actually better than the Boden original, especially with those princess seams and pockets, PLEASE make a red one!
    The only Boden shop in the entire UK is just down the road from me. It’s great for trying on sessions (and occasional purchases!) x
    Jane recently posted..“I’m a star in New York, I’m a star in LA…”ReplyCancel

  • Samina - I’ve just discovered Boden too, but can’t bring myself to cough up their prices. I’m seeing a lot about ponte knits in the blogsphere lately. How is that pronounced? Point? Pon-tey? Never am sure!ReplyCancel

  • LM - Such a cute dress!! looks really nice on you and you managed to hide those accidents very well. they look like design elements :) Thank you for mentioning Boden. I knew about them but never paid enough attention…until this morning. They really are gorgeous!
    May i ask you what brand are the turquoise/aqua shoes and sandals? love the colors oh so much!ReplyCancel

  • Doris Steele - Sunni, after my own heart too! Sort of impish and so darn cute. I love the dress but also luv luv luv the green shoes!!! So pretty and so comfy I bet. Oh, and please do the post on ponte knits. I’m an old sewer and am learning about knits. DorisReplyCancel

  • Nicole - Boden is my main source of sewing inspiration. I agree–I feel like they’ve captured my exact style, somehow. Love, love that store! (And fabulous dress, by the way! Where do you get your ponte fabric?)ReplyCancel

  • cowroad - What a coincidence: I just ordered the Boden catalog 5 minutes before I saw your post! I’ve also just recently started sewing with knits so there you go: thank you for inspiring us all! :-) ReplyCancel

  • Mary - Great use of ponte, and I think the yellow buttons are perfect!!ReplyCancel

  • Krystal - Adorable dress – I especially love the yellow buttons on the pockets. And your styling is so cute!ReplyCancel

  • Melanie RG - I just died when I saw those pockets and all that topstitching. Must knock off your dress IMMEDIATELY!
    Melanie RG recently posted..August Sewcial Bee – A Garment Inspired by Food!!ReplyCancel

  • Sherri - Boden catalogs got me thinking about sewing my own clothes–LOVE their styles but not their prices. Bloggers like you keep me inspired. Cute outfit, and I really enjoy your posts. Must buy more colorful shoes!ReplyCancel

  • Lori - I love this dress, it looks so perfect and fun. An amazing job as always.
    Lori recently posted..A Bag GiveawayReplyCancel

  • Charlotte - The previous owners of our house had a subscription to the Boden catalogue & it’s the only thing I haven’t returned to sender as I like a nose. I hadn’t thought of using it as inspiration before but I will next time:)ReplyCancel

  • Becky - Sunni, you are hilarious! Yeah, other than 5 changes, it was the pattern right out of the envelope! This is so cute! I love what you did with the methods to deal with your oops moments. Very clever, very clever, they do look like design elements. Yes, do a post about ponte and any tips you have about sewing with it. I will have to locate a Boden catalog if they have flat shoes.ReplyCancel

  • Robin - Adorable! I love Boden. It’s the inspiration for 99% of the clothes I make. I found them several of years ago because they had the nicest maternity clothes steeply marked down right as I was quickly expanding in the waist. I can’t wait to see what else you come up with from their inspiration.ReplyCancel

  • Lara - This is GORGEOUS! It looks so expensive and well made – good job using your ‘mistakes’ well! x
    Lara recently posted..I carried a watermelon OR what would Laura Ingalls wear?ReplyCancel

Repost – On Fabric Stashes: a Cautionary Tale

I did this post back in May for Christine Haynes and for those of you who didn’t read it, I decided, why not repost it here today? Truth be told, this is one of the hardest things about sewing for me to keep under control. I keep finding that I just purchase and carefully stow away more and more fabric. Sure I have something in mind for it, but when in the world am I ever going to use this much fabric? Additionally, I have found that having so much fabric, kind of gets me unhinged, meaning that I start thinking of all the projects that I want to sew and I start getting overwhelmed just thinking about it and I’ve taken all these items out of their place and disaster strikes and I don’t get anything done, least of all sewing. So, here goes! Let me know what you think.

One of the great things about sewing is finding fabric. Don’t you think so too? Its fun to get together with other sewing friends and blab on and on about this fabric and that fabric in our stash and what brought us to purchase it or how it came to be in our possession. Its really great until you start, finally, noticing that the fabrics that you love so much, you never use and never wear because you are afraid you’ll ruin them.

Last year, I attended a sewing conference where one of the guest speakers waxed poetic about her love of vintage fabric and patterns. She was funny and captivating to listen to and she said something that’s really stuck with me ever since. She talked about how she had acquired some amazing vintage rayons – like authentic 40s rayons – that she knew she would never use because she was too afraid she would ruin them. Its funny to joke about, but I think many of us that sew often end up thinking and doing the same thing as the cute girl I described above.  I know I do! My personal fabric stash is truly something to behold. Ultimately though, unless you just decide that you are going to use the fabric in your stash, it will end up becoming the stuff of legend where you’ll talk until you’re blue in the face about how much you love this or that fabric…..that you’ve never been able to wear but you think is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever owned.  Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Today I wanted to share some tips with you about how to avoid becoming a fabric hoarder and how to become a fabric user. So let’s get started!

Tip #1 – Before you start, just know that you’ll ruin gobs of fabric anyway. I’ve ruined tons of fabric, but one of the key things about becoming a better sewer is learning how to fix what you think at the time is an unfixable mistake. Before you decide to trash a project, try getting another person’s take on the situation. If you’ve got a sewing friend, definitely invite them over for a cup of tea and a little brainstorming. Or take your project to a local sewing shop and ask if you can just get a second opinion about what to do. You might be very surprised at what other sewers’ come up with – many have experienced the same thing and found a creative way to fix their problem. Instead of letting the idea that you’ll ruin fabric get in the way, just know that most problems are actually, quite fixable. So, go ahead and cut out your favorite blouse pattern in your favorite fabric. You’re one step closer to wearing your favorite fabric rather than just looking at it!

Tip #2 – Use tried and true patterns! Instead of always reaching for a brand new sewing pattern to try out on your favorite piece of fabric, reach for a pattern you’ve made before. This will help to eliminate much of your anxiety in using some of your favorite fabric pieces and thinking that you’ll just end up ruining them. Plus you’ll have a better handle on fit and who doesn’t need that?

Tip #3 – Impose a self fabric buying ban. Try to work your way through your stash (also known as stash busting! Yay!) and only purchase items that you need to complete a project ie: thread, notions, trim type fabrics or ribbons. Instead of acquiring more fabric, you’ll find that doing this can give you a very different perspective on purchasing new fabrics, which brings me to Tip #4…..

Tip #4 – Purchase or acquire only those fabrics that you know you’ll use. It might be really hard to pass on that amazing crepe back satin you just saw, but really stop for a second and determine whether it’s a fabric that actually has a place in your life. I’m totally serious too! You might be surprised at how impractical some fabrics are if you really stop to think about it about. I for one have found that silk chiffon truly does not have a place in my wardrobe – its one of those fabrics that is completely impractical for me to have. I don’t have anywhere to wear it and I definitely don’t want to maintain it either. Its delicate nature doesn’t do well in my not so delicate life. Also, consider whether or not its fabric that would ultimately become to “sacred” to use. For instance a piece of Liberty of London Tana Lawn that is so beautiful you must have it, but yet, in your heart of hearts you know you’ll never use because it would become too precious to ruin ie, sew it! Don’t buy it if you feel that way. Work your way up to purchasing a fabric like that or purchase that kind of a fabric with a pattern you’ve already made in mind.

On a final note, I’ve come to realize the importance of that old adage, “work with what you’ve got.” I work in a fabric shop and a customer came through and talked about how much her grandmother would have loved a shop like the one I work in. The grandmother’s true love was for purchasing fabric and many a time her granddaughters (like the one whose story I’m relating) would get into her fabric stash and find a true gem that they begged for a dress to be made out of. The grandmother would always say “no” and explain that she was saving that fabric for something else. Sadly, even as the granddaughters all grew up, the grandmother had never yet used much of the fabric that many of the granddaughters had wanted years before. Instead more purchasing and acquiring of fabric was had and when the grandmother passed on several years later, there was a huge fabric stash that was divided up among daughters and granddaughters. Acres and acres of fabric that the grandmother had been saving for “other projects” were never realized and instead of being able to enjoy the fabric on her body or even as something else, the fabric was left to become yet another stash piece for someone else. I don’t know about you, but personally I feel sad about the prospect of my fabric stash becoming another stash piece for someone else – I want to enjoy it myself! I purchased it and I want to enjoy it as something rather than a folded up piece of fabric.

What do you think about fabric stashes? Do you have a giant stash that you need to work through? How would you feel about never being able to use your favorite fabric pieces and instead having them passed on to someone else?

  • Doris Steele - Sunni, I couldn’t have said it better. I wish someone would have written about the stash subject years ago. I have quite a stash that I’ve been afraid to cut for fear of ruining it and thus buying more and more!!! This year’s resolution is “Don’t buy any new fabric!!!” DorisReplyCancel

  • wanda ll - Wow this rings a bell for me. My mom just died and I got her fabrics(I’m the only child).I could see some of the things she saved to make something but never got around to to. Then there is my stash. No don’t fall over it is a 16 foot long 4 ft deep closet full of material I’ve bought over the last 20 years. Some for me some for dd now 42 years old and some for dgd who is now 15. I’ve not made a thing in the last 14 years since dgd was born. Me and my mother were going to make stuff for her when she was small but sad to say we didn’t. I must admit I’ve not bought any new material but have patterns. Hey they are on sale for 99 cents at Hobby Lobby right now. Can’t beat that when some are 15 dollars now. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone with this kind of hoarding. Now if I could just get busy and use all the craft stuff I’ve got so I can have my sewing room/craft room back.ReplyCancel

  • Chris - Beautifully said Sunni. I often put off making something for fear of messing up the fabric but you’ve allowed me to look at it from a different angle. In the past I’ve not shared fabric with my daughter, hoping I’d make that much dreamed of dress, shirt etc. However I’m learning that sharing, and watching someone you love, make something they love, brings SO much pleasure to you both.ReplyCancel

  • lisa g - i don’t have much of a fabric budget, so generally i buy fabrics only with a project in mind. sometmes i lament the fact that i can’t buy more, but even when i have two or three unused fabrics waiting for me i start to feel underwater!
    lisa g recently posted..sewaholic | saltspring dressReplyCancel

  • Maggie - This is something that I can absolutely relate to! I have a decent sized stash filled with some really special pieces that I purchased while traveling abroad (Italian silk jersey, Japanese silk, and some Liberty of London fabric). I have a hard time cutting into these, for the exact fear that you stated. I don’t want to ruin it and I feel like I am saving it for something special. My day job is in the wine (and cheese) world and one of the biggest things I have told my customers for years is that if you purchase a really expensive bottle and never drink it, you might as well not have bought it! The same could be said for fabric. I guess I should listen to my own advice and get cutting!!

    Thanks for the tips! It is like a four step program to stash recovery ;) ReplyCancel

  • Melanie - Can absolutely relate! However, if you use up your stashed fabrics, you’re just creating a space for some new stuff!

    I always held off because I was hoping to lose a few pounds, and would then use that beautiful fabric for that amazing outfit. 20 years later, I still have both the pounds and fabric, so had to tell myself a new story :-)
    Melanie recently posted..Orange plaid skirt V2.0ReplyCancel

  • Tatiana - This is really nice to hear, but I actually have the opposite problem, I am always ruining my fabric because I am not afraid of cutting it! I just can’t imagine just keeping the fabric and not using it, I guess Carpe Diem is my motto when it comes to sewing, ha! When I was learning how to sew, the other students were really scared of cutting the fabric and starting their projects, but I just went for it! When I start a project , I am always thinking “It’s just fabric!”, and when a project fails (which surprisingly, it’s not very often), as you said, it was a learning experience, and most of the time I saved the fabric to something else,or completely changed the project,so the whole project wasn’t wasted. I say, life is too short to hoard things, let’s use them to make us happy!ReplyCancel

  • Nakisha - As a beginner (6 months in), I have developed a stash – ANYTHING sewing related is FUN!! I have nearly 200 patterns, probably 100 yards of fabric – already. I’ve gotten most during awesome sales at and FabricMart. And my beloved SR Harris fabric warehouse. So I don’t have any truly “special” pieces. I love about 85% of it and the rest well…I rarely muslin but when I do, I have stash fabric.

    I am fasting but it is truly a joy to ‘shop my stash’! I am working on little corduroy baby jackets and found perfect cotton in my stash to use as lining. Tote bags for the girls? Got it! Shorts for my daughter? Yep! I have fabric for that!

    I am always slightly baffled by the “too good to cut” mentality but then, I haven’t dropped $$$ on a single piece of yardage.

    I do have a suggestion for those who MUST have this fabric but are scared to cut it: Buy a yard, and frame it. Yep, frame it. And use it as sewing room art.
    Nakisha recently posted..Finished Item: Butterick 5908 (Plus Sewing FAILS!)ReplyCancel

  • Hester - So far I haven’t bought any truly expensive fabric, although I did have to take a deep breath before cutting the peacock feather print lawn from Liberty which my sister gave me for Christmas. But I agree that there is much more joy in using beautiful fabric, even if it gets ruined, than in having a cupboard full of stuff which will never be used. Having said that, I buy fabric much faster than I can use it, and may have to impose an embargo on myself until I’ve managed to clear some of it!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - The way I feel about stashing fabrics is the same way I feel about anything that people hoard and never use – antique furniture, vintage clothes, expensive shampoo, fancy dinnerware, whatever! What’s the point of owning it if you’re not going to use and enjoy it? My great-grandmother made me the most beautiful quilt, and I take it everywhereeee – it’s on my bed, I drag it around the house, it’s a picnic blanket, etc etc. It has a little wine spill and a tiny cigarette burn at this point, but so what? At least I’ve been enjoying it, instead of stuffing it in a closet and never looking at it for fear of “ruining” it.

    It’s the same with fabric. The worst is when I see someone pull out a special yardage they’ve been saving, only to see it destroyed by moths or mold or fading or anything – from sitting too long. So sad! It’s one thing to save a fabric for something special – and actively LOOK for that special until you find it – but just to tuck it away and never use it makes me so sad. These days, the only time I stash is if it’s a superb deal I can’t pass up, or something I won’t find again. Otherwise, I buy as I need it.ReplyCancel

  • Erica - Gaaaahhh!! LOL! This is so true! I’m always a bit shaky when cutting into fabrics. No. Matter. What. The thought of ‘what if I mess up??!’, always ringing in my ears, but in my short 6 months of sewing I’ve learned that there really are fixes for almost everything. I always hit obstacles when sewing and things never turn out perfectly, but I really do love being able to wear my not so perfect handsewn items rather than having a perfectly pretty fabric stash.
    Erica recently posted..Sewn: Batik Shorts (Simplicity 1887)ReplyCancel

  • June - I used to buy yarn and fiber like sheep, silkworms, and cotton were on the verge of extinction. Now that I have kids, my spending priorities have shifted… and I am enjoying finally getting to dive into the stash and spin yarn, knit sweaters, without spending a dime. HOWEVER, having moved twice in the past year, I was struck by how a large stash can weigh a soul down. I am not on a buying ban, per se, but I am on a stashing ban – not purchasing a damn thing until a) I know what I’m going to do with it and b) I’m ready to start the project THIS WEEK.

    That said, let me play devil’s advocate. Think of ceramic figurines, paintings, holiday decor – the whole purpose is to just buy them and look at them. Why does fabric have to be used to fulfill a purpose? Can’t we just enjoy looking at them and petting them, getting visual and tactile pleasure? Isn’t that a noble purpose, too?

    Re wasting fabric: K King is quoted in a Threads article about how a new sewer has to be prepared to ruin a few acres of fabric in the process of becoming competent. I’ve held that notion close to my heart these past few years; when I have a wadder, I remind myself that it’s not exclusively a waste of time/money, it’s also the way I learned not to do XYZ.ReplyCancel

  • Helen C. Peemoeller - I have a suggestion that has helped me avoid acquiring far too much fabric; I now just acquire too much. And it helps me remember some wonderful fabric that I bought years ago.

    Get a plain notebook, perhaps the 9 x 12 spiral bound notebook size. Put this year’s date at the top of the first page. Then start entering every new piece that you acquire. I give each piece a line (my handwriting is quite small). First the date purchased, then a description of the piece. Be specific. Write teal blue or sky blue, lawn or duck instead of just cotton. Don’t use “multi” for that won’t help remember which fabric this is: give two or three of the colors in our multi color fabric. Then the name of the garment that you plan to make. Again write “wrap dress with sleeves” or “short sleeved shirt.” You can, of course, change your mind later, but have at least an idea, if not a specific pattern. I found long ago that any fabric that i bought because it was lovely but which I had no idea about its use never was sewn. I then give the name of the shop (abbreviate) and price. I tend to give the price for the fabric, then for the pattern (unless I have used the pattern already) then lining and notions, plus a total. Naturally I also date (in the left margin) the garment’s completion date. Claire Shaeffer has a whole page for each piece of fabric (in her book on fabrics), suggesting that you add a great deal of detail about fitting and changes to the pattern; I think that this is good idea, but I have never kept quite this much of a record.

    I find that I never make more than a garment a week; most people sew much less. So I really should not buy more than an average of a piece a week. This sounds reasonable, but i have broken the rule enough that I have an enormous stash, which I am now trying to whittle down. I am also getting rid of some fabrics that I no longer like, but most of what I bought, even decades ago, still appeals to me.

    Don’t buy something just because it is a great bargain or accept it as a gift. It is awfully easy to become a fabric collector and even to run out of all storage space for the stash.

    I suspect that most of the readers of this blog are much younger than I am. It is delightful that so many younger people are taking up the wonderful art and craft of making their own clothes. Perhaps this movement will assure that not all the fabric stores will go out of business, but in the mean time, many of us have little access to yard goods, so when we are in a wonderful fabric store we want to stock up. I do too. But consider your average output and don’t buy three yeas’ worth of fabric at once.

    Good luck with your projects. HelenReplyCancel

  • Leslie - I returned to sewing about two years ago after a long hiatus and, at the time, my stash was relatively small in comparison to some. Since then, I have purchased more fabric and, like some others, have developed a healthy stash primarily through sources like FabricMart (love that store). Anyway, I never purchase without at least having a project in mind though I do sometimes switch to something else along the way. That said, I don’t think I have anything in my stash that I am afraid of cutting. In fact, because I mostly purchase at a good price, I feel free to go at it even if I mess up. I do, however, have some yarn though that I have been “saving;” and, now I think about it, I think I will go ahead and use it before I leave this side of the world.

    Thanks for your article! It sort of jelled a brief thought I had a few days ago.ReplyCancel

  • Seraphinalina - I’m pretty sure I read that the first time and reposting is a great reminder.

    We’re starting to prep the house for moving and my sewing room is a big problem for having too much stuff. I went through much of my stash putting them in two groups 1. might sew now (have a project in mind) and 2. love it but I am not likely to sew that in the next 6 months even if I sewed every single day. Box 1 was a fair size but just one Ikea Expidit box and the clear plastic totes (yes, two) for #2 went to the garage. I’ve made two simple tops since I did that. It has me thinking that my stash is less inspiring and more overwhleming at the moment.
    Seraphinalina recently posted..The Parking LotReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I have a stash binder with swatches of my stash plus an excel spread sheet so I really know how much fabric I have in my stash! It’s a nice reality check plus the satisfaction of having a fabric go to 0 yds and watching the graph of my stash get smaller and smaller motivates me to stash bust!
    Stephanie recently posted..Costume College: FridayReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - Your opening paragraph is me spot on! I’ve been sewing for 17 years and collecting/amassing fabric through that whole time. I’ve used a lot of it, I make most of my own clothes and also do some historical stuff for fun, but I also get overwhelmed at times by the sheer volume of it. I refer to fabric buying as my substance abuse problem. I counted all my yardage a few years ago and it came to 1000m – a km of fabric!! I really hope it’s less than that now. I’ve been on a fabric buying ban for several years now, but stuff keeps sneaking in somehow (how does that happen?). I do tend to only ‘shop my stash’ and almost never purchase for a specific project – I’d like to be able to get to the point of justifying doing that, lol. I’ve also been working on getting over the fear of cutting into the ‘special’ pieces and am making progress. I DO want to use and wear myself those fabrics I love most! Lately I’ve been doing periodic purges too and just this morning decided I need to do another one. I do want to get past needing purges though, it seems such a waste and I fear no one else will love the fabric like I do (that’s one of my big weaknesses with buying as well!).

    Thanks so much for this post, letting me know I’m not totally alone and that there’s hope for me yet!
    Carolyn recently posted..Chartreuse Shorts!ReplyCancel

  • Dottie Doodle - Great post! I like the advice to ask others what to do about sewing fails. I usually just bury them in the bin! I’m trying to work my way through my stash now, but I wish I could sew faster.ReplyCancel

  • ShanniLoves - Great advice!! I found myself cutting into some of my fabric I’ve hoarded for a couple years now and thought to myself, what am I going to do with these scraps? they are much too pretty to throw away. aaahhh!!ReplyCancel

  • Jen - How much is too much, I wonder?

    I’m not afraid of ruining fabric, but with my life, I just can’t keep pace with my planned projects these days. I allow myself to stock up on basics when they are on sale at a great price (especially wool and knits). I also keep it all organized, with swatches in a little binder and everything stored in covered bins. Still, it’s taking up a lot of room in my small apartment. Lately I have been trying to maintain a ban, with only partial success so far…!


  • Jen - I guess there’s always quilting.ReplyCancel

  • Lynn - Another cautionary tale of passing down stashes:

    My mother was a dark haired, olive skinned woman of Hungarian-German ancestry. When she passed away, I was left wither stash. Some of the pieces had been sent literally decades before by my grandmother from Germany. So, you ask, what is the problem? I would love beautiful, european made wools and silks! Well, I am blonde and very fair like the German side of the family, the colors were awful on me! My sister who is dark, had no place for such high maintenance fabrics in her life. I wound up giving it all away. It was very, very sad for me.ReplyCancel

  • Amy W - I have a very small fabric stash. Due to a small fabric budget and limited storage space in my apartment, I only buy fabric for a specific project that I’m about to work on. I’m actually a bit envious of other’s fabric stashes. I do like the idea of writing down each fabric in a notebook.ReplyCancel

  • PendleStitches - I agree wholeheartedly with the notion of not carrying a huge stash of fabric. I’m slowly working my way through mine and plan to have it all sewn by the end of the year. Rather than being a pleasure it became a burden…a weight of “should be” projects rather than what I actually wanted to sew at a given time. I’m excited to know that soon I will have sewn my lovely fabrics and will be “free” to buy something new and lovely for a project as it takes my fancy. I agree that the story of the grandmother’s stash is sad in it’s missed opportunities for joy.
    PendleStitches recently posted..A Gardener’s Journal Quilt – FO 17/2013ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - I finally realized – Just use it! There’s always another amazing fabric around the corner.ReplyCancel


I banged (bunged?) out a dress last week (post still pending) and found that the only way to go about not having it stick to me and my underwear was to make a full-body slip. I never make these. I usually line my garments, which I’ll still continue to do, but by the same token, I’ve been missing out on a seriously fun sewing project. My very first full-body slip was from an out of print Vogue pattern that ended up being weird and there were so many fitting adjustments that needed to be made that I decided to start afresh with something completely different. Then I remembered that fabulous Ruby Slip pattern that Sherry put out quite some time ago (by the way, anyone know where she is?). Initially, I made a wearable muslin (the photos you see here) from some rather wretched Joann lace and a rayon lining I had lying about. I made only one fitting adjustment and a lengthening adjustment and could not have been happier with the outcome of this pattern.

I’ve never been one, really, to put beauty and form over function when it comes to underwear. I grew up in a very religious household and we were poor-ish to boot. There was never money for frivolous underthings so I rarely indulge in stuff like this. But then after making one of these, I was dying for like five more! So pretty. I can pick the fabrics that I want to make them from – namely silk because where in the world can you get a silk slip these days? – and I have plenty of access to beautiful laces where I work (at Yellow Bird Fabrics). And then of course, they sew up in a matter of hour(s). Add to all that they make you feel kind of pretty even though no one (or maybe your loved one….) sees them. Well, unless you’re me and you’re seriously considering making some slip dresses because you are a child of the 90s. Or what about wearing one with a skirt and cardigan? Now that would be slick – your top would never untuck!

How do you feel about full-body slips? Ever made one before?

  • Mickey - I love it. I may have to try it.ReplyCancel

  • Janet - I have been thinking about a slip too. I have seen this pattern around the blogs….I am full busted so I am even more interested because I can hopefully do a custom fit. Colette patterns has a beautiful slip pattern too. This one is such fun. I grew up in a household with a restrained culture too. It seems so decadent to make a slip!ReplyCancel

  • Shelley - THANKS for this! I too have really wanted to make lovely slips. Thanks for the help and inspirations!ReplyCancel

  • wanda ll - Well funny you should ask. I’m from the old way also. I wear a slip when I wear a dress or skirt.Feel naked without one. Just had a friend you gave me all her slips. Yes short, long, black, white and nude.All my friends just say no way I don’t wear them anymore.Oh well….

    I would love to make some really pretty ones. Don’t think I could wear one as a dress cause I could her my late mother say “That looks like a slip! Is that what you are going out in? I don’t think so young lady get some clothes on.”

    There use to be a company called stretch and Sew that had the most awesome slip,patties and bar making things you could imagine but think they are out of business now sad…

    Just goes to show you once again what goes around comes around if you just keep it long enough even slips….ReplyCancel

  • Heather Lou - We’re on the same page Sunni. I’ve been struggling with a few dresses that aren’t really possible to line and then Lladybird Lauren made her Rosy and I was like, duh, make s slip silly girl. Going to stock up on stretch silk charmeuse when I’m at Mood in September. I think having a nude and black slip in your underthings arsenal is pretty practical and luxurious at the same time. Not many things you can say are both!
    Heather Lou recently posted..CRUSHING ON ANNAReplyCancel

  • Andrea - Beautiful slip, Sunni! I remember my grandmother and occasionally my mother wearing pretty, full length slips with dresses. When I was younger, it was common to wear silky & lacy camisoles and slips, rather than a full slip. Or just a camisole. I still have some of those camisoles (and a bustier from the early 80′s) that my daughter loves. I’m glad I saved them for her. I recall loving to wear my Mom’s ‘vintage’ bustier and slips. I might have to make us both a Ruby. ;-) ReplyCancel

  • Becky - Sunni, this is gorgeous! I think the color combination cannot be beat. If I had one of these, I would find ways to wear it. How about a nightie? I have delayed trying to make lingerie because I cannot find any really soft lace. That stiff lace is so uncomfortable, and it gives me a rash. So, if anyone knows of an online source for nice, soft lace, please share.ReplyCancel

  • Ginny - I only have one- a bias cut silk one in cream with tiny black pin spots. I used a New Look camisole pattern and extended it about 8″, so it hits mid-thigh. I did hand-stitched lace around the hem and cut away the fabric behind, following the scalloped edge of the lace. I wear it an awful lot in winter with wool skirts and tights to stop them clinging, and it adds an extra layer of warmth. Amazing the difference a thin layer of silk makes to the warmth of an outfit!
    Ginny recently posted..Tiny Knitting, with baby mitts patternReplyCancel

  • sheila - Gorgeous slip and love the lace. I have been an avid fan of full-body slips for years now. I actually scored several while vacationing in stretch satin chemise. I found it so much easy to wear than a half slip even when wearing skirts. I’ve only made one, which was a strapless slip for my strapless maxi dresses.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - I made this pattern, in a delicious 4 ply silk. It took a few adjustments to get a good fit, but it’s REALLY amazing once you get that down. I love it and I want more!! I’m with you – I feel weird spending a lot of money and time on frivolous underthings, but gaaah they feel so good to wear. I also really love the idea of making a lace or sheer dress, and having multiple slips in different colors to wear under it ;) ReplyCancel

  • Jen - Lovely slip! Sherry has a running theme blog now at:


  • Jen - I have been thinking about making a slip too. I’m thinking about transitional clothing, such as a shirtdress I made last year. It’s unlined, and it would tend to stick to tights. So I’ve been thinking about making either a full or a half slip. They are useful things. Another thing, which I haven’t seen in a while is a teddy (like a camisole + tap pants combo). A teddy was one of the frivolous items I bought as a teenager in the 80s… It’s good when you don’t want the coverage of a slip, but want to keep the top to appear as fully tucked in. Plus, they look really cute and double as pjs.

  • Melanie RG - Unbelievable! I *just* made a dress yesterday that I thought didn’t need a lining, but does, and thought now I have to make a slip. Totally doing this right now!
    Melanie RG recently posted..Two New OpportunitiesReplyCancel

  • Carlee - I’ve never made one, but I’ve never really thought to. I suppose that would solve my problem of my dresses weirdly attaching to my tights in the winter and bunching up as I walk. Hmmm, I think I’ll have to put this on my “to sew” list.
    Carlee recently posted..Grow Write Guild Prompt #5: ListenReplyCancel

  • Kristin - Your slip looks stunning! That said, I never really understood the purpose. I get that your clothing isn’t supposed to stick to you… or something. I feel like I should make one and try it out because everyone who wears slips, who admittedly I could count on one hand, swears that wearing them is the best thing you could do. I must try it and soon! Thanks again for the beautiful inspiration!
    Kristin recently posted..Sewing Skivvies: We’ve come to the end (almost)!ReplyCancel

  • Diane @ Vintage Zest - I am a lazy liner, so part of me has been dying to make a liner, but I’m not sure which would be the best fabric to use. Thanks for the inspiration!
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  • Mary Stump - Saw your post on facebook–love the slip! I just bought 4 vintage lingerie patterns and plan to embark on this process as well. As “un femme d’un certain age” I remember wearing full body slips. The french wear beautiful lingerie all their lives to feel like a gorgeous women everyday! I think they just might be onto something!!!ReplyCancel

  • Rochelle New - Wow that is one gorgeous slip, Sunni!! I wear slips quite often, especially with all the 1940′s sewing I do, since the day dresses weren’t lined back then on account of fabric rationing. Which works out well for me because I’m not a fan of lining things haha! I usually have to buy slips at thrift stores because no one seems to make a classic slip, like yours, anymore. It’s all spandex shape wear! I’m definitely going to check out that pattern you used, and maybe even go as far as finding a similar peach fabric. There’s something so glamorous about that color peach! Especially when used for unmentionables ;)
    Rochelle New recently posted..Casual Fall Style – 1942ReplyCancel

  • lisa g - funny, i’ve recently been thinking of slip-making as well. i always line my dresses, but using good quality fabrics can almost double the cost of the dress. a couple silk slips on the other hand seems pretty economical by comparison! love the idea of it doubling as a cami with a skirt and sweater, putting this on the list!
    lisa g recently posted..sewaholic | saltspring dressReplyCancel

  • Tracey - So I have officially bookmarked the Ruby Slip Dress! I am going to do this- even though silk intimidates me…. I am going to the Sewing Summit- would you like to share some coffee and catch up? I know your teaching.. sure hope I get your class- fingers crossed!!!ReplyCancel

  • Renee - Ohhh! I quite like this! I just made a full length slip (for sleeping) and it’s the prettiest thing I own. I’d like to have a stable of nice silk slips.ReplyCancel

  • Corinne - I love full body slips – I think they’re so feminine! I’ve haven’t made one yet but it’s on my list.ReplyCancel

  • Charlotte - Stunning slip. Thanks for linking to the pattern, I’ll give it a try.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - I’m on the hunt right now for supplies! Coming up a bit short though, so haven’t started… But yes, I want/need some of these in my wardrobe.ReplyCancel

  • Lucysb - Never ever considered it…now however!
    Lucysb recently posted..Mara Blouse Pattern Test for Compagnie MReplyCancel

Plaid Jacket Chronicles: Match-ups

For today’s installment of the Plaid Jacket Chronicles, I thought I would go over something that I wish I could have found somewhere. Where and when is it OK that the plaid doesn’t match up? To think that the plaids will match perfectly at every seamline in every garment will give you much agony when you find that they don’t. Additionally, if you have to pick between two seams – which one to match and which one not to – which one do you pick? Let’s use McCall’s 6172 (my plaid jacket make) as an example and we’ll start by pointing out the unforgivable areas. The areas which must match.

  • Jacket fronts – a matching plaid should be happening horizontally when you button up your jacket. Additionally, vertical darts should be matched. If possible, your jacket fronts should be mirror images of each other too.
  • Jacket Back – horizontally, especially at the center back and the jacket backs should also be mirror images of each other.
  • Princess seams – this particular jacket has princess seams that end up in the armhole in both the front and back, and these seams must match horizontally from the hem as far up as they will match, but note that for these particular princess seams (the armhole variety), they will never match all the way up the seamline. They will distort at the very top, but not to a very noticeable degree. If you plan to put a side panel on the bias, note that each side should be mirror images of each other.
  • Upper Sleeve – must match across the upper bust with the jacket front horizontally. Its ideal to have the upper sleeve match the jacket back as well, but if it cannot be achieved the jacket front takes precedence.
  • Under sleeve – must match with the upper sleeve at the sleeve back horizontally. It will be matched from the hem up – just like the princess seams – but will distort at the very top. Because of the way the under sleeve is cut, it may not match up at the front seamline on the sleeve.
  • Collar – should be matched with the center back vertically, however if you are using a jacket pattern with a contoured back, this will never happen. You can only match a collar with a center back that is cut on the fold.
  • Side seams – horizontally matched and this happens naturally if you have the princess seams matched.
  • Shoulder seams – vertically they should match, but they not as critical as everything else, but if at all possible, its a nice touch.

Places where the plaid may not match up (and its OK….)

  • The under sleeve in the front seam. It may not match up horizontally and if you have to pick between matching the front or the back, pick the back as its the more exposed seam.
  • The collar will not match up with the center back if there is a seam in your center back jacket piece. In order to match the collar with the center back, you have to cut the jacket back on the fold and it will result in something that is not as shapely or form fitting. Either that or your collar just won’t be matched or your can opt for a solid colored collar piece like I did in my jacket.
  • The shoulder seams. If it so happens that your dominant stripes don’t hit correctly when lined up at the shoulder seam, its fine for the shoulder seams to be unmatched vertically.
  • Side seams – guess what? If you are tearing your hair out getting the side seams on a jacket to match horizontally, forget about it! Your arms are down most of the time anyway. Am I right? You betcha!

A recent commenter made the very wise remark “pick your battles” when referring to plaid match-ups and I can’t think of a better way to put it. Not every seamline is going to match, and that’s OK, don’t beat yourself up about it. Pick the most prominent seamlines and focus on getting them to match up. Also, I just want to weigh in on something. If, by chance, you’ve made a plaid garment and someone tells you that you didn’t match up all the plaids, and you know you didn’t get everything just right or whatever – Don’t let anyone give you grief about it. And definitely throw it back at them and say, “well, I would LOVE to see you make a plaid garment?” Ask me how I know that other sewers can make you feel crappy about your sewing skills! Don’t let them. Sewing with plaids is as much a learning experience as anything else and you don’t start by getting everything absolutely perfect. Ok, OK!

In my next video, I’ll show you how I planned my previous plaid jacket in addition to giving you ideas to help you make the matching up process easier. Thoughts? Do you ever feel like you have to excuse certain seamlines that didn’t match up in a plaid garment? I think plaids are hard because I feel that there is a big misconception that all the plaids will match up everywhere, when they won’t. What do you think?

All of the Plaid Jacket Chronicles so far:
Head of the Class – my recent plaid jacket make
the Beginning
a Peek into my Plaid Stash & Balanced vs. Unbalanced Plaids
Finding the Dominant Stripe
Picking a Pattern for Plaids

  • Claire - Thanks for this! It’s something I’ve wondered about before.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - I love the puzzle of matching up plaids, but it’s true that you really have to pick your battles. Thanks for this list – it’s very helpful (and something I’ve wondered myself!).

    As far as someone giving you grief for not matching everything up 100% – PFFFTTT!!! I was in Nordstrom the other day, looking at ~designer~ plaid flannel button up shirts in the men’s department and they didn’t even bother to match up the plaid at the side seams – yet they cost $220 a pop. I don’t see anyone giving THEM grief. Hrmph!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - Sheesh, that is a lot to think about… thanks for the list!
    Kelly recently posted..Last MonthReplyCancel

  • Jess - Great post but would it be possible to have arrows/line drawn into the pics to make it easier to understand the wording? I’ve read the post slowly a few times yet still wonder which is which …
    Thanks in advance …ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @Lauren – I too, LOVE the puzzle of matching plaids. Its so much fun and especially fun when it all works out.

    @Jess – Alright, just updated the photos. Hopefully this helps. I thought I should have done something more in the photos, but was feeling really really lazy.ReplyCancel

  • Serac - Thank you for going through the process of choosing a plaid and making it work for a pattern as complicated as a jacket. I have made plaid skirts before, and even shorts (out of a printed, not woven, plaid, an entirely different nightmare), but never worked on anything as complicated as a jacket. I might just have to give it a try. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Kaci - I love this post. I enjoy plaid but have been fearful of using it since as a newer sewer I don’t understand “the rules”. It’s nice to know that there are places that is unrealistic to expect a match up.

    I cannot believe anyone would throw shade on your sewing skills- they must be taking crazy pills!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - This was very helpful, thank you. Although I have a beautiful plaid for a jacket, I think I’ll start with a plaid shirt first and practice on a smaller investment.

    As far as people being critical of your sewing skills, have you ever met those people who are just naturally critical and negative. Feel sorry for their unhappy lives, I do. Don’t let them get you down.ReplyCancel

  • Ginger - Wow, this is so helpful! I made a plaid buttondown recently, and got very wound up about matching everything and it was super stressful. Somehow I really did think that I could get it to line up everywhere if I tried hard enough! The other day on The Colbert Report, a famous actor (I won’t spoil it) appeared in a plaid 70′s-style jumpsuit, and the plaid was terribly mismatched right across his butt, which made me feel a little better about not achieving a perfect match!
    Ginger recently posted..Ginger Made: By Hand London Victoria BlazerReplyCancel

  • Tracey - Wow! Great info- this is the kind of thing that would put me in the crazy house!ReplyCancel

  • Jess - Sunni, thanks for making the pics clearer with the white dots …
    You’re the best ….ReplyCancel

  • Emily - This list is genius. Thank you!! I have some plaids that I’ve been wanting to cut into but haven’t been able to figure out which parts must line up and which ones are more flexible.
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  • Sheila - Thanks for an Awesome post on working with plaids. I scored a great pieces of plaid fabric. TFS.ReplyCancel