Straight Stitch Designs

Over the past week I have been working with an amazing group of women to test out a new pattern from Kimberly at Straight Stitch Designs. It has been so much fun to see how the pattern has developed over the past few days and how each person has made it their own. I especially loved seeing all of the great fabric choices!

My first experience with Kimberly’s patterns was a few weeks ago when I made her Ballard top– a great casual top with fun open back detail. This top went together very quickly one evening and it has become a great addition to my wardrobe. I used a bold rayon jersey that made this top super soft and comfortable while still being stylish and flattering.

Ballard Top in Graffiti Rayon Jersey

Ballard Top in Graffiti Rayon Jersey

This weekend I have been visiting a friend, helping her get everything ready before her baby arrives March, and this top was perfect for traveling! Paired with a black tank and some skinny jeans and I was set.

Open Back Ballad Top

Open Back Detail of the Ballad Top

The thing I love about Kimberly’s patterns is all of the variations and ideas that she includes. The Ballad top has so many great possibilities and I can’t wait to make another one. I think it would be a lot of fun to try it in all different weight knits- sweater knits, sweatshirt knits, other jersey knits, etc.

Now back to the project that I have been working on this week, Kimberly’s latest pattern, the Bellevue top. This top combines 2 amazing types of fabrics- a soft knit and a flowy woven. I love when I can pair these two together in the same garment, and this top is no exception!

Bellevue  Top

Bellevue Top

The Bellevue top is the perfect combination of style and comfort. It is fitted in just the right places and more relaxed in others making it a great go-to top in any handmade wardrobe. With two different neckline options and four sleeve lengths the possibilities are endless.

I used a great navy and white stripe jersey and paired it with a soft rayon challis, but you could have a lot fun pairing different prints and/or solids together or trying out different wovens (ex. lawn, silk or sheer). I had a little trouble getting my stripes to match perfectly but it still turned out great and I love how the rayon challis drapes! I think for my next Bellevue I will try doing a rolled hem on the light weight woven fabrics, rather than a traditional folded hem.

Bellevue Top in Jersey and Rayon Challis

Bellevue Top in Jersey and Rayon Challis

Check out Kimberly’s blog post with some of the other amazing Bellevue Tops made by her group of testers. She has also added a couple more of her own versions on her blog as well. Be sure to check out the Bellevue available now at Straight Stitch Designs.


Note: As a pattern tester for Straight Stitch Designs, I received a free copy of the Bellevue Top Pattern, but all of my options and observations are my own.

Go Red: Oslo Cardigan

Style Maker Fabrics is Going Red this month in honor of the National Go Red for Women campaign from the American Heart Association.  Heart Disease is the #1 killer in women and this is something that we should all continue to be aware of and take steps to prevent. I decided to “Sew Red” this week and work on a project that I have been putting off… it involves matching plaids!

My project this week was one of the patterns included with Seamwork’s December issue, the Oslo Cardigan. Seamwork is a brand new online magazine Colette Patterns launched this past December. Each month’s issue is full of interesting articles about different makers, techniques for sewing with new fabrics and lots of great advice and project ideas. If you haven’t checked it out yet I would highly encourage it. The magazine articles are FREE, but with a $6 subscription each month you get TWO brand new patterns to download.

Completed Oslo Cardigan in Plaid Double Knit

Completed Oslo Cardigan in Plaid Double Knit

I wanted to try making my own Oslo Cardigan in a warm but structured double knit and chose an interesting Houndstooth Plaid with quite a large pattern repeat. While I knew this fabric would look amazing when the cardigan was finished, I was a bit scared of having to match all of those plaid lines- something I hadn’t really done before! With the help of a Plaid Matching Guide (also from Colette Patterns) and some assistance from a fellow Style Maker I was able to conquer my fear of plaid and have some amazing results to share.

Check out those Matching Plaid Lines!

Side Seam- Check out those Matching Plaid Lines!

Probably the most time consuming part of this project was matching up the two fabric layers. I tried unsuccessfully 3 different ways to match up the selvages and get the plaid line matched up. I finally matched up the pattern and pinned the plaids in place every 6 to 8 inches. I learned a lot in this process and would probably just skip to pinning the layers next time I have a pattern to match- especially for knits since the grainline can be a little (or even a lot) wonky. I am definitely ready to take on more plaid or stripe projects!

Once I got all the pieces cut out, my Oslo went together very quickly. Gave it a good press and it is ready for National Wear Red Day (which is today!). I’m going to pair it with some black leggings, black tank top and short boots. It should be an amazing outfit in honor of a very important cause!

Oslo Cardigan- Plaid Sleeves Cut on the Bias

Oslo Cardigan- Plaid Sleeves Cut on the Bias

Learn more about heart disease in women and the Go Red for Women campaign HERE.

Wear Red!


Super Tote

It seemed fitting for today to share my Super Tote from Noodlehead that I recently finished. While yesterday’s Big Game didn’t turn out how we had hoped, it was a very exciting game and we are already looking forward to next season. We still love our Seahawks!

Super Tote Pattern from Noodlehead

Super Tote Pattern from Noodlehead

This is my fifth Super Tote and I am in love with this pattern and this bag! It is the perfect tote for on the go, whether it is running errands or a longer trip. Last year I made matching Super Totes for a group of us that went on a sewing retreat together- each person got a custom bag in their favorite color. While I loved making the scrappy, quilted tote bags I couldn’t wait to make my next one in a more sophisticated, fashionable fabric.

My First Super Tote- Scrappy!

My First Super Tote- Scrappy!

When we first found this Flocked Herringbone Suiting, I knew this would be the perfect fabric for my next Super Tote. The blacked flocked rose vines give it an amazing texture and it feels amazing. The big question then became, What fabric to pair with it for the gusset (sides) and handles?

I auditioned all different fabrics but none were quite right. I kept thinking- I just need a fabric similar to the background of the flocked suiting. Duh- Why don’t you just use the wrong side, Michelle! Sometimes the obvious option is just too obvious. I completed the look with classic solid black handles and accents.

Super Tote in Progress

Anyway- once I got everything cut out, the Super Tote was a breeze to put together. I finished it over a long weekend, working on it off and on as I had time. To give it a little extra stability I paired the Pellon Shape-Flex (as called for in the pattern) with Pellon Extra Firm interfacing. While the Herringbone Suiting is a heavier weight fabric, the added layer of Extra Firm gave the whole purse a really nice stability without being too thick or stiff.

Competed Super Tote

Competed Super Tote

I also wanted to share a couple pictures from our Football Gathering yesterday as well. Just a small group of family and friends, but I love any excuse to surf Pinterest and try out some new recipes. The chop salad stuffed pasta shells were a huge hit. And I loved the idea of serving “Turnovers” for the game. I used store bought puff pastry- filled them with whatever berries I had in the freezer and cut them out using the Jersey cookie cutter I had from last year’s sugar cookies. Too cute and so delicious!

Big Game Food- Salad Stuffed Shells, "Turnovers" and Brownie Footballs

Big Game Food- Salad Stuffed Shells, “Turnovers” and Brownie Footballs

I hope you had great day yesterday, whether your team won or lost!


Out and About Dress

This is a project that I have wanted to make for some time. Sew Caroline first released the Out and About Dress Pattern early last year. It is such a versatile dress and can be made in all different variations in a variety of knit fabrics.

I have been holding out for just the right fabric to make my Out and About Dress… and this season I FINALLY found it! An amazing Jacquard Ponte Knit that gives the illusion of an elegant rose lace overlay. I love the color, the feel, the pattern and just about everything about this fabric.

At first I debated about what version I should make- Maxi? 3/4 length sleeve? Cuffs? No Cuffs? I settled on knee length with long sleeves- perfect to pair with leggings or tall boots! Also the heavier weight of this ponte knit makes it comfortable and warm in the cooler weather.

Sew Caroline's Out and About Dress in a cozy "lace-look" ponte knit.

Sew Caroline’s Out and About Dress in a cozy “lace-look” ponte knit.

Once I actually got sewing, this dress went together so quickly! I was done in one afternoon and ready to enjoy my new outfit “out and about.” I would definitely recommend this pattern and will be making more versions of it this Spring.

Here are just a couple of tips that I learned along the way.

1) I would rethink the pockets in this dress- At least for me, they ended up being a bit too low- I would either move them up a couple inches or not include them at all as mentioned in the pattern. In the heavier weight ponte knit, the pockets are a little bit bulky. I still love them! But just something I might alter in future versions.

2) I love Fuse ‘N Gather- One of my secret weapons for a long time has been Clover’s fusible gathering tape called Fuse ‘N Gather. I really don’t like to make gathering stitches on my machine! It seems like they always end up breaking, they gather unevenly or I have to pick them all out at the end so that they don’t show. Solution = Fuse ‘N Gather! Just fuse to the wrong side of your fabric and pull the threads. Perfect gathers every time and it worked wonders on this dress!

Perfectly gathered using Fuse 'N Gather and then sewed right into the seam.

Perfectly gathered using Fuse ‘N Gather sewed right into the seam.

3) Try out Double Needle Stitching- I haven’t invested in a coverstitch machine yet, but as I experiment more and more with my double needle I am loving the results. It is perfect for finishing off the hemline and sleeves on this dress and gave my project the professional, finished look I was hoping for.

Sew Caroline's Out and About Dress in a cozy "lace-look" ponte knit.

Completed Out and About Dress- ready for a day out on the town or a causal night in.

Here are a couple more of the fabrics I was considering for the Out and About Dress. Who knows, I might just need to make another one!

A few other fabric choices for the Out and About Dress.

A few other fabric choices for the Out and About Dress. Click to see MORE.


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