Category Archives: tops

Belcarra blouse & Cascade skirt

Belcarra blouse:

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse

Pattern: Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic
Fabric: Cotton/Silk blend from Fabricland
Size: 6 (see notes below)
Modifications: french seams, narrow 1/4″ hem, shortened neckline binding by 2 cm

I was so excited about this pattern when Tasia first announced it that I built my spring wardrobe plans around it. I love how light and airy it is, and how it manages to look casual and dressy at the same time. So versatile. It really is the missing piece in my wardrobe. I have so many orphan skirts in my closet that I never wear because I have nothing to go with them. Now I do!

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse

I pretty much just sewed this one up as is with two minor modifications. The pattern suggests a 1 1/2″ hem, which I did at first, but it looked stiff and weird with my sheer fabric, and I had a hard time easing in the extra fabric (I’m so bad at that!), so I ripped it out and did a 1/4″ hem (folded up 1/4″ twice). I think it looks a lot better with the sheer, floaty fabric I used. I’ll probably mostly wear it tucked in anyway, but I like to know I have the option of wearing it untucked.

The other change was to shorten the neckline binding by 2 cm. Again, I was having a hard time easing in the fabric, so I just chopped off the excess and treated it like bias binding. Next time I think I will just use bias binding and trim the neckline seam allowances to 1/4″ since I think the large seam allowance was what gave me trouble.

Normally with Sewaholic patterns I cut a size 6 on top and grade to a 0 in the waist and hips (since I’m not pear-shaped), but this time I decided to cut a straight 6 because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get it over my broad shoulders. I’m glad I did because I don’t think any smaller would be comfortable to put on. But I think there might be a bit too much fabric around the hips, so I might grade the next one just at the hips and leave the waist at a 6. I can’t decide if the extra volume at the hips looks weird or visually balances out my shoulders. What do you think? Honest opinions, please! I plan on making a lot of these, so I want to get it right.

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse Sewaholic Belcarra blouse

I did french seams throughout, but attaching the sleeve cuffs was a bit tricky to do with all of the angles. I think it worked out reasonably well in the end.

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse

Cascade skirt:

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

Pattern: Cascade skirt by Megan Nielsen
Fabric: 100% cotton voile (Valori Wells Cocoon Shine in aqua)
Size: XS
Modifications: moved the button hole to the side seam

This one is also going to be a wardrobe staple for me. It’s the perfect summer skirt for going to the beach in. The smallest size is still 1.5″ too big for me, but I figured it wouldn’t really make a difference since it’s a wrap skirt. I just moved the buttonhole over to the side seam, and the fit is great.

This is my first time using a Megan Nielsen pattern, and I have to say, I love it! I got one of the last paper patterns, which is sad because they come with a cute little booklet, and the patterns are printed on sturdy paper, so they’re great for remakes. Unfortunately, since PDFs drive me crazy (how do you store a mass of taped up sheets?!) and since I don’t quite make their size chart, I probably won’t be making many more, but I will be making lots of this pattern!

The only thing I don’t like about this skirt is how it looks stiff and awkward at the back. I think it’s because of the fabric. I was so excited when the quilting cotton makers started manufacturing lighter weight fabrics because I thought they would be perfect for clothing, but I don’t think they quite work for the flowy, drapey styles I like. Even the organic ones have a crispness that doesn’t work for certain styles. I just spent all day yesterday making a gathered maxi skirt out of Cloud 9’s Palos Verdes voile and it was a total disaster. It looks ridiculous, and I will not be posting pictures! I think I may have to start sewing with silk and dyeing it myself…

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

So stiff and awkward from the back

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

Nice and drapey from the front


Coppelia wrap top

I decided to try out Papercut Patterns to add some variety to my cozy knit tops for the winter. I fell in love with their packaging. It’s so adorable.

First up (but second sewn) is Coppelia, a wrap top. I made it out of super soft undyed organic cotton interlock from Organic Cotton Plus. Seriously, this stuff is insanely soft. I just want to cuddle up with it while I wait for winter to pass.

Coppelia Wrap Top Papercut

Coppelia Wrap Top

I had a few problems with the fit, but I think I managed to fix most of them. The sides and underarms were really baggy, so I pinched out 2″ at the under arm seam, tapering to nothing at the elbow and tapering to 1.5″ at the side seams. I think there’s still plenty of fabric in the armpits for a comfy, casual style.

Coppelia Wrap Top

The other problem was the neck band. There was major gaping the first time I sewed it on, so I unpicked it and tried again, this time stretching it a lot (especially around the shoulder area) as I sewed. I ended up taking off several inches, I think. Also, the angle on the band seemed to be angling the wrong way. Maybe I’m just not experienced enough to know why, but I ended up chopping it off in the other direction to make it work.

In the end, I’m happy with the fit on this top, and I’m already planning my next one. They’re so cozy and the style looks great with high-waist full skirts!

Coppelia Wrap Top

And now for a major fail:  Circle Top, also by Papercut. I know the style doesn’t work with a full skirt, but I was too lazy to change, so you can just use your imagination.  The top keeps sliding off my shoulders (and I have broad shoulders!), and there’s just so much fabric at the top that I’m not sure how to position it. I tried chopping off part of the top, but that didn’t help. The back is not very flattering. I thought it would look like a knitted circle sweater, but I guess in knitting things just work a little bit differently. I made this out of the same super-soft undyed organic cotton interlock, so at least this top can live out its days as a pajama/lounge top instead of being tossed out. Look how impressed I am with it:

IMG_4878 (535x800) IMG_4879 (535x800) IMG_4881 (535x800)

I really like the idea of this top, but in reality it just didn’t work for me. It’s fun to try new patterns, though. One out of two isn’t bad!

Tank top with shelf bra

self-drafted tank top with shelf bra

Version 1:

Fabric: 100% Organic Cotton Jersey in white from Hart’s Fabrics

I actually made this one back in May, but I finally got around to making a second version with some changes, so I decided to finally post about them! I have no idea how drafting normally works, but I figured since knits are stretchy I could just wing it and adjust as needed.

I started out by measuring my bust, waist, and hip, and the distances between them and transferring the measurements to some tissue paper, using a french curve to join them. This basically gave me a zero-ease garment, which I thought would work, but I was way off. I had to take in the sides a lot, shorten the straps, and lower the armholes to get it to fit, but with some tweaking, eventually it worked out.

Once I got the outer part fitting the way I wanted, I transferred the changes to my pattern pieces and then traced out the top part to create the shelf, adding 2x my elastic width to the bottom. To the front shelf piece, I also added a curve below the line and extended the side by 1″ so I could make some gathers in the middle for shaping.

self-drafted tank top with shelf bra self-drafted tank top with shelf bra

I just gathered the middle with some thread to create an almost sweetheart neckline curve, which I really like.

self-drafted tank top with shelf bra self-drafted tank top with shelf bra

I used the same template for the front and back, but I don’t like how far apart the straps are on the back (probably because I had to take the sides in so much).

self-drafted tank top with shelf bra

I left the hem raw because the top was a little shorter than I intended, plus I like how the raw edge looks.

self-drafted tank top with shelf bra

Version 2:

Fabric: 100% Organic Cotton Jersey in turquoise from Hart’s Fabrics

I  moved the back straps toward the center by 1″ and made a “V” shape for the back.

IMG_4708 (532x800)

Tank top with shelf bra

I also took a little out of the front arm curve, which I now see was too much. I added a third layer to the front shelf this time, with an opening at the straps to insert those foamy cup shaping things, but they’re really difficult to insert since the cotton jersey doesn’t allow them to slide. I think I’ll go back to my first version for all the front pieces and my second version for the back.

These tops have definitely been getting a lot of wear! They’re so soft and comfy, and they make great undershirts for fall/winter too 🙂

Field Study Hawthorn

I finally finished my Hawthorn for the sew-along! Between major fitting problems, family visiting, and irresistible beach weather, I just didn’t get much sewing done this month! I had three versions of the Hawthorn planned, including one made with the fabric I dyed (I was going to knit some lace details out of linen yarn for that one), but I only managed to finish this one.

Hawthorn Blouse and Skirt

I made two muslins, and this top is actually my third muslin, which is pretty much wearable, but far from perfect. I had to lengthen the top of the bodice by 3/4″ because the bust points were too high and the armscyes  were right up in my armpits! I had no idea how to do it properly, but I found  this tutorial, and just guessed my way through lengthening the collar to match the new bodice. This modification was actually not as hard as I thought it would be!

The other major problem was the bust. This pattern is drafted for a C or D cup (which I am definitely not!), so I knew I had to do an SBA (small bust adjustment). The problem is, my measurements match the size chart exactly, so I didn’t really have any width to pinch out as suggested in the Colette tutorial for an SBA. Plus, their tutorial also suggested to shorten the back to match the amount shortened in the front from the SBA, but the back was already too short on me, and the front was too long. I was totally lost.

I then questioned whether or not it was really necessary, but I figured all the extra length at the front must be there to accommodate a larger chest, which I don’t have, so I started pinning and basting, seam ripping, then pinning and basting all over again until I eventually gave up and decided it would have to be good enough. Basically, I ended up moving some of the width of the front darts to the side seams, so the overall measurements would stay the same, and then I chopped off some of the center front.

No matter what I did, I couldn’t get rid of those lines going from the bust to the side seams. Does anyone know how to fix that?

Hawthorn Blouse

Even worse from the front! I just found this post on the side effects of bust adjustments from Shona Stitches that perfectly captures the frustration I went through. There are even some links there for alternative ways to do bust adjustments that I will definitely try for my next version.

Hawthorn Blouse

I’m actually pretty happy with the fit at the back. I added another inch to the lower back to get the waistline to sit at my natural waist. Although, it looks kind of long in the photo and I’m not sure why!

Hawthorn Blouse

I used 100% cotton voile from Hart’s Fabrics and shell buttons for the blouse.

Hawthorn Blouse

For the skirt, I drafted a waistband (aka rectangle), and some belt loops (aka smaller rectangles). A real confidence-booster after the top!

Hawthorn Blouse and Skirt

I lined the waistband with some soft 100% organic cotton polka dot fabric from Eden Fabrics. The main fabric for the skirt is Parenthetical Flight Field Study Linen by Anna Maria Horner (55% linen, 45% cotton). I didn’t have enough fabric to do any print matching, but it wouldn’t have worked with the pleated pockets anyway. The small buttons are tagua nut, and the large ones are wood.

Hawthorn Skirt

I drafted patch pockets with a pleat and a button tab to top it off.  They don’t really stand out as much as I’d like. Maybe I should have used contrast stitching or piping or something.

Hawthorn Skirt

Overall, I still love the Hawthorn pattern, but I think I need to learn a lot more about fitting before I tackle my second version. But there will definitely be a second version, and probably a third!

P.S. You can check out other Hawthorns from the sew along and vote for your favourites here. I’m so thrilled to be included in the parade!

A Basic Renfrew

Not the most exciting item, but a closet staple. A basic white tee. Except this one is made of super-soft organic cotton 🙂

A Simple Organic Tee

A Simple Organic Tee

A bit wrinkly in the back – I probably should have taken photos at the beginning of the day…

Fabric: 100% Organic Cotton Jersey from Dressew in Vancouver
Pattern: Renfrew by Sewaholic
Size: 6 on top, 0 at waist and hip

I added 1″ to lengthen the bodice at the waist, and chopped 2.5″ off the bottom. I’m actually really happy with the fit of the top overall. It looks exactly like the other versions I’ve seen around. For the next one, I might take in the waist by 1″ on each side for a closer fit. This fabric is quite sheer in white, so I think the looser fit works on this one.

This was actually my second attempt at the Renfrew. The first was a total disaster. I used a thermal/waffle knit and it stretched out by about 1.5 times in width! The neck is wavy and falling off my shoulders – and it’s not even comfortable! Total fail. I blame the fabric combined with my lack of knowledge about waffle knits…

renfrew mods

1″ added to bodice, 2.5″ chopped off bottom

inside view

inside view



I do have a serger, but I can’t figure out how to adjust the tension for knits, so I used a scalloped edge to finish the seams. I think I actually like it better than serged seams. It’s softer and kind of pretty! So what if it doesn’t look store-bought? Handmade is awesome!

Update: I used stretch stitch G in the following photo:

finishing stitch for knits