Pattern hack – Cowl/hood top

I like to look at CAbi for inspiration on new pieces to make.  I like the details, in general, and they tend to have nice finishes.  I have a friend that invites me to her parties, and I usually end up buying a few pieces that fit into my wardrobe.

This casual top caught my eye this time:


It is a deep cowl (about 12″) that transitions into a hood.  It is a nice piece, but I knew I could make it much cheaper than the price they were charging.  It was a pretty simple hack, too.

The top pattern I used here for the base is the Wardrobe by Me Builder T-shirt, which I sized up by one size to make it a looser fit.

The first top I did, I learned a good lesson with it.  Don’t use a poly knit that has a definite right side and wrong side.  You need a knit that is hard to differentiate the front from the back, or where you don’t mind the wrong side color.

After making this first one, I realized my pattern was too shallow for the hood part.  I also didn’t do the thumb-holes or tie waist.  I just wanted to get a muslin completed.  It was wearable, at least.

I do like how this second one turned out.



Here is the add on I made to the basic pattern.  The neckline I used was the medium scoop boatneck.  Here are my hand-drawn pattern pieces for the hood and cuffs.  I wrote on the main hood piece the hood binding measurements, so don’t miss that piece.


Fabric is from Joann’s. I uploaded my Silhouette Studio file for the shirt design to my Google Drive folder.

  1.  Sew your shirt up (shoulder seams, attach sleeves, sew up the side seams), leaving the neckline edge raw.
  2.  Sew the front and back cowl/hood pieces together.

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3.  Top-stitch the seams.  I just used a long straight stitch and pull it while I stitch it, so it has some stretch to it.

20161022_15754.  Sew the ends of the binding together and attach to the hood, with the seam in the middle top of the hood.

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5. Press the stitching down towards the inside of the hood and topstitch.

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6.  Turn the binding inward in half and then over the seam.  Pin and topstitch.

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7.  Mark the midde front and middle back of the shirt neckline and cowl.  Clip together at these spots and pin the rest together.  They should match fairly close.  Sew together.

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8.  Pin the bottom hem 1.5″, sew up the hem, leaving an opening to add elastic.  Put in the elastic, and close up the hole.  I measured the elastic on my high hip to determine a comfortable length.

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9.  The thumbhole cuffs are hard to explain, so see this tutorial if the pictures don’t make sense.  First you sew up the side seams on the cuffs.


10.  Have one cuff edge inside out and one right side out and fit the corners together.  You can use a needle and thread to sew in the corners and pull them together.  Baste them down, so they won’t move.  Sew just inside the seam to catch the edge, and stitch a few lines 0.5″ down.

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11.  Place the side seams together, matching them carefully, and pin.  Sew down from the hem, along the seamline for 1.5″ (I did 2″ here and it was a little tight). Make sure to back-tack and secure the seams.

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12.   Turn right side out.  One side will generally look better, so choose that one for the outside. Pin the cuffs to the ends of the sleeves and attach.

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All done!

The poetry of Poison

Last spring I bought these patterned jeans on sale at Justice for my daughter.  I don’t make EVERYTHING that she wears.  These are 14 Slims and I still needed to put elastic in the back waist for them to fit well.  A relatively easy fix, but that is generally the reason why I make a lot of her clothes.  I can’t buy her those yoga pants or leggings, since in order for them to be long enough, they will be too big around the waist. Custom made by mama is a good thing for her.


I knew I would make a shirt to match, since we live in matchy-matchy town here.  I was thinking of what to put on it and the song from Poison came to mind.

Every rose has its thorn,

just like

every night has its dawn.


I drew up a rose and then cut out the rose and words with HTV.  Of course, I forgot to mirror the words, so I needed to cut them out twice.  Ugh.

I created a folder on Google Drive to share the Silhouette files that I make.  There is also a link on the sidebar here.

The top here is my tester version of the Love Notions Maggie Peplum.


I had intended to make a top like this anyways, so I volunteered for the test.  It is a pretty simple top to put together, and looks rather nice!  I did a bit of grading here, with a size 14 shoulder and armscye, graded down to a size 7 waist and 14 length.

The only issue I had with the drafting was that the shoulder width was the same for the size 7 and 14.  I think that should be made wider, as well, and not just the neckhole made wider.  This was mentioned.  I haven’t seen the final pattern yet to see if she made a change to the neckline.  I will update if she did.


The fabric here is a hunter green bamboo cotton lycra knit.  The color didn’t photograph well here.  I was pressed for time, so we didn’t get pictures outside on this one.  We are losing daylight each day. 🙁

Nothing like a good peplum…which is also an ’80’s throwback. 😉


Celtic Jacket

This jacket was a pattern test that was dropped in the spring.  My pictures are from the spring, so I decided to finally post this since fall is upon us.  As much as she has grown, I doubt it fits her now!

The pattern may come out sometime, but I decided to pull myself from that testing group.  There were a few reasons.

  • My daughter has grown past their highest  size, which shows a bit in this jacket.  It was a 10W and 12L, and it is still a little short on her in the body.
  • They do a lot of dresses, and my daughter is past that.
  • She likes knit and they use a lot of wovens.
  • They also take some shortcuts.  The collar on this should have been a curved mandarin style and the pattern piece was a rectangle.   That shortcut is really bothersome to me, since the collar has wrinkles in it and doesn’t lay correctly. My suggestion was met with much hesitation, before she decided to drop the test for later.  I just *can’t* with that anymore.

The pants she is wearing here are the Emilya’s that are the 12L.  I made them about a year ago.  Obviously, a little short on her here, but they look cute for this outfit.  I would stay away from the Emilya’s for the larger sizes, unless you want to redraft the crotch curve.  It ends up very pointy, so it needs be eased out a bit.  Yes, I did mention this in testing.


The problem with picking sizing on their patterns, is that they have the chest and waist measurements, but not the height.  When I did the first test, I went by those measurements and it was way too tight (she fit in the size 8 measurements).




Overall, the jacket turned out cute, and I hope she wears it a little bit.  Not sure that she will, though, since it isn’t “stretchy”.  This kid is all about knit now.  It may just end up going to the give away pile, which makes me bummed since I love the fabric on it.

For a quick kid’s jacket it turned out cute.  If I had bought the pattern, I would have redone the collar and lengthened the body a bit, but this was for a pattern test.   I will watch to see if they come out with this as a pattern.  I’m curious to see if anyone has fit issues.

*Update: I have been informed that this designer is no longer with the company, so it won’t be released by them.  There will also be an update to the Emilya’s pattern soon.

Cooler days are here…time for a new coat

Another challenging garment!  Wardrobe by Me needed testers for their new coat, and I volunteered for it, although I knew I would be pressed for time.  My chronic back pain also ratcheted it up a notch this past month…or so.  As it was, I was late on this.  I used fabric for the outer that I had in my stash, which was a lightweight coating fabric.  The welt pockets and collar are in leather.  The inside is a heavy satin.

Wardrobe by Me – Classic Coat Pattern

Available for a short time for introductory price of $11


I swear, I tried to get the stripes lined up, but it was shifty.


It is hard to see all the details, but it has back darts, bust darts, a two-piece sleeve and pleats in the lining.  This was well-done.

The exterior sleeve will need to be eased into the armscye.  Set in sleeves are not that scary.  The best way to do this is to do two rows of gathering stitches in between the notches and ease it into the armsyce.  This generally requires you to pull the armsyce fabric and press down on the gathers while sewing to get it to all eventually lie flat.  Go slow.  Next use your tailor’s ham (get one if you don’t have one, they are not expensive) to iron out any puckers.  The lining did have gathers, though, so that was a part of the pattern.


I bought some fusible fleece, along with the satin, hoping to add some additional warmth for the coat.  The pattern does not have this in it, so this is extra.  I fused it to the lining, and I cut it out around the pleats and seam allowances to make sure it didn’t add excess bulk.

I had to be careful fusing it to the satin, since I got a new iron and that puppy runs hot!  I melted it in a few places, but it didn’t go through to the front of the fabric, thank goodness.

I was able to get away with a little less on the fabric requirements (used a little over 2 yards on the outer).  This was partly due to the inside facing having less length, as I changed part of to leather.  I cut the leather piece at a page break in the pattern piece.


It looked like the perfect spot to stop the leather, and it was.


The collar area was a bit more difficult to follow her directions due to the leather.  I had to change how I constructed it a bit, so it doesn’t look as neat as I would like.



The undercollar is satin, so a pop of color underneath.


The welt pockets went together pretty well with the leather.  A tip I saw was to cut out the welt pocket on the pattern so the markings are easier to transfer.


I basted all the lines with red thread before sewing it up.  I also did this with the darts.  It makes it easier to see on both sides.

The shoulder pads I attached before attaching the lining, so I sewed them into the sleeve head and along the shoulder seam.  They won’t move that way.  It is just a few layers of cotton batting cut in the form of a shoulder pad and straight-stitched along the edge.  No need to go buy one.

One thing that I messed up is the button holes.  Last step, of course.  I put them too far inward.  What can I say…it was 12:30 am and I was tired.

I am very pleased overall with how this turned out.  The outer fabric frayed horribly, but after running it through the serger to close the edges up, it went together really well.

One thing, I think I should have sized up for a roomier coat.  I was between size 10 and 12, so I chose 10.  This may induce me brush the dust off the elliptical. 😉

I even found some bulky yarn that matches the interior.  Time to make a cowl or scarf to match!


Sewing with Leather – Some Tips

This is a blog post I did for the Sewing Pattern Testers blog.  It was edited a bit and she is new at blogging, so didn’t get how to put the html into the post.  I am sure she will get better in time.  So…here is the complete post with pictures and links!


Hello all!  My name is Stacy, and I blog over at Stylin’ Stacy.  I have been sewing for over 30 years, and am over-run with projects constantly!

I am by no means an expert on sewing with leather, but I do have a few years’ worth of experience under my belt.  Here is a compilation of sewing tips and things to look for when sewing with leather.

#1 – Leather Selection

Different animals produce different kinds of leather products.  Tandy Leather has a detailed explanation of weights and terminology.

Here are some basics that I have learned.

Lambskin – This is the softest and thinnest leather that you will find in commercial outlets.  It is a common leather product and is generally dyed different colors and may have some embossing (a pattern stamped into the leather).  The hides are generally small, so don’t expect to get a lot out of one hide.  Lambskin is popular for making apparel due to its soft and pliable nature.   It is also easier to sew with it due to the thickness.

Pigskin – Soft, relatively thin, and a little larger hide than a lambskin.  You can feasibly get a purse out of hide.  This also gets dyed many different colors and gets embossed.

That green wants to be a Green Bay Packers purse…I can tell. 😉

Deerskin – Very soft and large hide.  These tend to be pretty spendy due to the hide size, durability and softness.  These are generally found in more natural colors and black.

Cowhide – This is the thickest you will find.  It also comes in varying thicknesses, from ones you can sew on the machine to ones too thick to sew on a standard machine.  It is the most durable, but also hardest to sew.  Some of the more processed hides can be made fairly soft, but the thickness will make it harder to sew.

#2 – Sewing Machine use

By and large if you are sewing with the thinner leathers (Lambskin, Pigskin and some Deer hides) you won’t have a problem with your home machine.  If your machine has a hard time sewing denim, then you may want to look for a more durable machine.

I purchased a Singer 401A vintage machine for the heavier projects, since after sewing a thick cowhide purse I needed to repair the timing on my machine.

A few things to make sewing with leather easier is a Teflon foot and a Leather Needle.  I have heard good things about having a walking foot, as well.   I don’t have one, so can’t give out personal experience on that.

Suede will glide easier under the pressure foot, but the stickier leathers will have a hard time consistently going under.   If you don’t want to buy a teflon or walking foot, or are still having issues, add a layer of tissue paper over the leather.  This will help it glide over, and just carefully tear it off the seam afterwards.

You may also need to decrease the presser foot pressure.  See your manual for how to do that.

I use normal weight thread when sewing with leather.  If you have a spot that will have a lot of stress, I would recommend sewing with upholstery thread.  It is thicker, and may require some tension adjustment, but it is really hard to break.

Keep the stitching length long, to lessen the holes in the leather and likelihood of tearing.  On my Janome I use a stitch length of 3-4.

#3 – Sewing with leather

Some random tips…

– You can iron leather, but turn off the steam.  The water releasing onto the leather can stain it.  I also use a press cloth to make sure my iron doesn’t stick to the leather.

– Use a hammer or mallet to pound down seams.  Some seams get pretty bulky, so use your hammer to get them flatter and easier to go under the presser foot.

– Don’t use pins.  Instead of pins, use Clover Clips or paper clips to hold in place.  The pins will puncture holes in the leather.

– Glue is your friend.  Not being able to use pins can put you in a bind in some places.  I use a glue stick to hold it in place for stitching, or I also use Wondertape.

– Leather will stretch.  This is something to keep in mind for bag handles.  You can use interfacing (including iron-on interfacing) to keep them from stretching out too much.  I have also sewn twill tape or ribbon in between layers to keep things in place.

– You can wash leather, but some take to it better than others.  I would suggest using a color catcher in the wash the first few times to make sure the dye doesn’t bleed onto other garments.  The leather will lose some of its softness.  If you make a leather jacket, skirt or bag, I would suggest dry cleaning those.  If it is just an accent on clothes, like a collar or elbow patches, I throw it in the wash on cold and hang to dry.

– The lighter leather colors are predisposed to staining, so you might want to seal it.  Don’t wear a new pair of blue jeans with your natural colored leather purse.  Ask me how I know?

– Unless you are interested in tooling leather, stay away for the vegetable tanned leather hides.  These are usually heavier weight to account for the tooling/stamping that happens with these unfinished hides.  They are fairly hard, too, and not good for garments.  They can work for purses, but will likely require hand-stitching.  Tooling leather is a whole other animal from sewing bags and garments.


– If you are using rivets or studs for the leather, be aware that they come in different thicknesses.  You want a shorter shaft on anything you will be putting on thinner leathers.  Otherwise, when you go to pound it down, there will be too much room and it will go offset.


– Sometimes you will just have to hand-sew the leather if it is too thick.  Sewing machines for specifically sewing leather are very expensive, so unless you plan on doing it often, have some extra room and a spare $1K+ you may have to bust out the leather sewing needle and thimble (you will need a thimble, trust me).  If you do go this route, I recommend getting this, this and this.

hand sewn laptop bag

That is all I can think of to tell you right now, but feel free to ask questions!  I will try to answer if I can.

Geralt – The Witcher – Costume Details

This costume has been an agony of time in getting it finished.  I have not had the time I would have liked to devote to all of the details in making it.  I feel bad that I didn’t get their swords done for the Geralt and Ciri costumes, but something’s gotta give, Man.  Momma works full time and clothes them in other awesomeness, so time for all of this is at a premium.

So, here are the details:


This was one of the hardest things to decide to do.  I didn’t figure the dude would want leather leggings, so I compromised with a pair of suede-cloth jeans.  The shirt is a thick knit, and I doubled up the sleeves in order to give it a more quilted look.  The shirt is supposed to be padded for the “armor”.


The jeans is my own pattern that I drafted and sized up from a pair of RTW jeans he owned.  The top is a heavily modified Ottobre pattern that I sized up.

The leather strapping:

Another thing that took forever.  I got these finished up in the spring.  They took me several days, several different types of leather and a metallic mesh.  Lots of buckles on this costume.  LOTS.


The chest plate:

This is made from vegetable tanned leather, which is a nice thick leather.  I wet it and formed it with some “molds”.  It took a day to dry.  Next it was dyed and formed again, since the dye makes it wet, too.  The straps are added last.

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The mid-section armor:

What do you call this?  An armored corset?  I made the chainmail for this part.  I didn’t do it on the shoulder pieces since I ran out of time.  Maybe I will redo them.  Not sure yet.  Chainmail is shifty and a pain to make.  I ordered the jump rings online, along with a jump ring separator and curved nose plyers.  It worked really well, it just, you know, took forever.


chainmail The chainmail was hand-stitched onto the heavy-weight upholstery fabric.

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Next I added the leather to the sides and I covered the back with corduroy.  I did a strip of leather across the top.




I used grommets and suede lacing at the side to bring the front and back together.  It was hard to see what they used in the game, so I improvised.

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When it was done the dang thing was too big.  Ughhhhhh!  I had to cut it at each side and redo the leather edge.  Doesn’t look too bad, though.

Clay wolfhead:

This was made out of Sculpty clay.  Several layers, a bit of time and some paint later…it’s a pretty cool wolf.



Gloves turned bracers:

I didn’t want to do gloves since I had never made them before.  Instead I just made some bracers.  This is several different leathers and then some D- rings.

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What didn’t get made:

  • Leg Wraps: I wasn’t sure I wanted to do these, since that is a lot of leather to go to waste.  Since he had the suede pants, we opted to forgo this piece.  They were a PITA to put on his Connor costume, so I think we were both okay with it.
  • Weapons:  I really wanted to make these out of wood and do some carving, but I just ran out of time.  If I had more free time I would have totally made it.  We’ll see.  I may yet.

It was a process and I am glad that it is done enough for Halloween.


More loom knitted cowls

Another cold snap – another reason to make these cowls!  I love how they turn out, so the many hours that go into knitting them is definitely worth it.

Here is my tutorial on how to make these scarves:

Loom knitted, leather and snaps infinity scarf tutorial


I think I should have made them a little longer, but I ran out of the variegated blue/brown/gold yarn.  The grey and white one I did have more, so I should have knitted it longer.  Oh well.  They still fit and work well!


I did have some issues setting the snaps.  It was very thick and I also had many odds and ends of mismatched sets.  The snaps don’t go together very well, and are pretty hard to snap.  Luckily, you really only need to snap the middle two snaps, so they are decorative for the most part.  I will need to get some new snaps ordered, so I have some matching sets.


My daughter is also working on knitting one of these.  It is taking her a bit of time, but as soon as she is done I will get it finished up for her.  It is very soft and fuzzy, so should work well for winter.  I have a feeling she may give up soon, so I may be doing the finishing on it.  Would not be the first time for such to happen. 😉

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Surprise, surprise…I bought more yarn. 😉  A deep red.  Another one will happen soonish.

Lion damask

This fabric design was one of the first designs I put together, and I still really love how it turned out.  I think one of the designs looks like a lion.  Do you see it?


I printed this on the cotton lycra at Spoonflower, and it didn’t print out a true black.  You can see the difference between the black on her cotton lycra leggings.  I bought two yards of it, so of course I had to use it up.  I made myself a pair of comfy Urban Joggers from WBM, and then this top for her.  The pattern is my own draft.


I made sure to have one of the lines going down the middle so it looked even on the front and back.  Luckily I had enough left to do so.

I made the top tunic-length so it would cover her bottom in the leggings, which are the 5 out of 4 leggings from the Shenanigans Skort.


This is a nice comfy outfit for fall!

Dragon scales

I loved this fabric when I saw it on Affordable Fabrics and More’s website, but I wasn’t sure what to make with it.  We are kind of growing out of these kinds of prints, but I thought I could make something fun.


I only bought one yard, since it is pretty spendy fabric.  I was going to make pants, and then I remembered that my kids need more than one yard of fabric for pants.  Ugh!  I ended up doing some piecing on the pants so that they were long enough for her.


The pants pattern is one I modified from some leggings.

The top is the Hibernis by Sofilantjes.  I didn’t add the cowl to it.  I used up pretty much all of the yard of fabric, which is why I like this pattern.  You can use up some of the smaller scraps on it.


The design is one of my drawings on heat-transfer vinyl.  I think it went with it pretty well.


She said she really liked her dragon scales outfit! 🙂