Love Notions Metra Blazer

I got the chance to test another new Love Notions Pattern, the Metra Blazer. Designed for stable knits, it’s a casual jacket that works with all kinds of outfits. I made the wide lapel version but it also comes with a shawl collar version to give a completely different look. It also has deceptively simple welt pockets to give it a clean, professional look.

I made mine from a dreamy bamboo French Terry from Blackbird Fabrics and I love it SO much. I can tell this one is going to get a lot of wear this spring. Since I really like to plan capsule wardrobes, I came up with several ways to wear the Metra using basics that I already own.

I started with a basic black skirt and silky t-shirt, dressed it up with a bit of jewelry and threw the jacket on for a great pop of color and interest. This is the kind of outfit I might have worn to church pre-Covid or to dinner if I wanted to look a bit dressed up without freezing in a cold restaurant. I also envision making the Metra Blazer in black and wearing over some of my print dresses.
Next, I threw on some black jeans, a long sleeved cream t-shirt and one of my favorite scarves. Finish it off with classic black flats and this Metra Blazer is ready for lunch with friends or a casual day at the office. (Not that I actually work at an office anymore, but I remember!)
Finally, an easy casual look-and let’s face it, this is how I will get the most wear from my pink Metra Blazer! Jeans, a long sleeved chambray button-up and sneakers and I’m ready for a quick trip to the grocery store. (My shoes are from Cariuma and they are fantastic!)

The Metra Blazer comes in sizes XS-5X with an optional full bust option, two collar options, clear instructions, and even videos to help with the tricky parts. I can’t wait to dream up even more ideas for this pink Metra blazer and I’m already planning my next one!


Fall 2020 Capsule Wardrobe

I love planning a capsule wardrobe and I frequently do it in conjunction with the Seamwork Design Your Wardrobe event. If you’ve never done it, it’s a very sequential program that starts with a mood board and ends with a new wardrobe-at least that’s the idea. I have a lot of fun planning and don’t always end up with garments that really work together, but this time I did. I also used The Vivienne Files capsule matrix to help organize the things I really needed to add to work with garments I already owned. 

My mood board reflects the colors I wanted to use as well as the surroundings in which I would wear the clothing.

My mood board was put together from pictures I took at our cabin in North Carolina. The fall colors were stunning and I just wanted to wrap myself in my surroundings. Fortunately, I had a lot of garments that already worked and many more fabrics that would coordinate. The problem for me is usually too many ideas instead of not enough.

I laid everything out in a grid and took an overhead picture to see how they worked. I had originally thought most of it would be green and off-white but the clay color ended up dominating. I was surprised by just how much fabric I had that would work with that color. I also had several similar sweaters mostly picked up from Poshmark that worked well as toppers.

Next it was time to get sewing. Almost all of the patterns I chose were ones that I had sewn before so that made it easy to get started. Unfortunately, the one that I hadn’t sewn before was a big fat fail! 

Here are the successes:

Helen’s Closet Ashton Top in a remnant of Rifle Paper Co. cotton.and Love Notion’s Allegro linen pants with elastic waist. The sweater is Anthropologie by way of Poshmark
Love Notions Glissando button front trousers (Originally planned as Dawn jeans)
Tabor t-shirt and Free Range Slacks, both from Sew House 7
Sointu Tee from Named and Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns
Love Notion’s s Melody Dolman hacked to dress length
The same dress works well for some fall layering.
Instead of the Mandy Boat Tee that I had originally planned for this fabric I decided to try a the hack of the Tacara dress that comes as a member bonus. I quite like the top however, the two layers in the back add weight and really pull the top backward. As someone who frequently needs a forward shoulder adjustment anyway, this really didn’t work for me. I like it enough to try again, though and make the (significant) alteration.
Here’s the collection all together with a few extra pieces I had that work with the core group. I really wore (almost all) of the pieces through out the fall.
This outfit, by far, got the most wearing—comfy, cool, and easy!

Two pieces are notably absent from the collection, the Free Range Pants in the rust color, which I never got around to making, and the Grainline Studios Hadley, which was the one big, fat, fail. It looked beautiful but was absolutely huge! I knew that it was going to be a deep V-neck but I had no idea that I’d be swimming in it. Too bad because it was lovely fabric.

I’m currently working on my Spring 2021 capsule so stay tuned…


Summer Wardrobe (Part 2) Wins and Fails

The Seamwork Rhett Jacket and the Love Notions Melody Dolman were big wins in my summer wardrobe and both have gotten a lot of wear.

I’m back! It’s only taken me 3 months to get around to writing this, but I’ve discovered that I prefer sewing (and my new obsession, knitting) to actually writing about it. However, since I posted a Part 1, I figured I should at least add a Part 2 and finish off my Summer Capsule Wardrobe. I had a couple more successes and two big ol’ fails.

Success: Seamwork Patterns Rhett Jacket:

I had 30 yards of white denim that I purchased to make a slipcover for my family room sectional and then realized that a white slipcover and black dogs was a dumb combination. So I made the slipcover from dirt-colored linen and have been using the white denim for all sorts of other projects. So far my very favorite has been this jacket. This is the Seamwork Rhett Jacket, size 8, without any adjustments. And I absolutely love it. The style works with a variety of garments and it’s easy to throw on over most anything. Rhett is a big winner and there will definitely be more in my future. I think I will try one in linen next.

Success: Love Notions Melody Dolman

I’ve made a few other Melodys. It’s a fast project with results that look like you really spent a lot of time on it. I hacked this one a bit to play with the checks of this gingham. The Melody pattern has a cut-on facing that you just fold over so I had to cut it off and make a separate button placket. None of it difficult, I just had to remember to add the correct seam allowances. Love Notions generally uses a ⅜” seam allowance but I finally decided to make my new seam allowances a half inch since the squares of the gingham were a half and then I had some nice straight lines I could cut on. I was happy with the results. My husband said, “Oooh, Mary Ann!” (And if you get that reference, you are old—like me😉)

Fail: French Navy Calyer Pants

I have made the Calyer Pants three times before and I LOVE the pattern! They have the comfort of an elastic waist but the trim look of a traditional flat front. Both of my fails were due to a mismatch of fabric and pattern. I had ordered this yarn dyed linen from Fabrics-store.com . I love their linen and they have about a million colors. However, I didn’t really check out the specifications for this particular linen and it wasn’t the right weight and it just grows and grows and grows about five minutes after you put it on. Initially I was so pleased with my new pants until I saw a picture of my backside…Oh, dear! I’m not sure how to save them so they may just live as a reminder of what doesn’t work.

Yep, same pants! The picture on the left was taken by my husband while I was fitting them. They look pretty good-I can live with the few lines that are there. The picture on the right was also taken by my husband because, well, he thought I should know! Dang! Even I can’t live with pants like that!
It’s so difficult to photograph white and I wasn’t really feeling this outfit anyway so I only took a few.

Fail: Love Notions Rhapsody 

Like the Calyer Pants, I have made several versions of the Rhapsody. It is one of my favorite patterns and it is super versatile. I had been saving this beautiful lightweight burnout fabric for the perfect project and I thought this was it. I thought I wanted a very floaty, boho type top but what I got was a nightgown. I added width to the back and then gathered it all up, and yep, nightgown! Fortunately, this one can be saved and maybe some day I’ll get around to doing it.

Seeing it hanging here, this is really a beautiful top! And look at those French seams!

Fail: True Bias Lander Pants

I never actually got past the muslin stage of the Landers. Although I’ve made them before, I was never really happy with the fit and now that I’ve put on a solid Covid Ten I just couldn’t even get close to a fit I could live with. Sadly, I think this pattern just isn’t for me.

Too much pulling around my belly and too much fabric from my crotch! The back wasn’t any better. I tinkered with the fit for a couple of days and it just wasn’t happening without completely redrafting the pattern. I’m not that kind of sewist! I’m fine just getting a decent fit instead of a perfect fit but I couldn’t get anything even close with the True Bias Landers.
Looking back at my original plans, I had some hits and a couple of slight misses and one great big fail. I did make some white shorts which I haven’t photographed although they’ve been in heavy rotation. But now it’s on to fall planning!!

*All Love Notions links are affiliate links. As you can see, it really is my favorite pattern company and I have way more success that fails with them!


Sewing a Summer Capsule Wardrobe (part 1)

I had so much fun planning a capsule wardrobe and now it’s time to actually start sewing. Since I no longer have a job to go to every day, I want my summer wardrobe to be easy, comfortable, effortless, and most of all cool! As in—it’s 95 degrees and I want as few clothes as possible on my body—cool! For me a pair of easy fitting, easy wearing shorts fits that category perfectly. And it just so happens that I have the perfect pattern for those kinds of shorts, The Love Notions Allegro*.

This pattern has options for shorts in two lengths, two skirts, and three options of pants. It can be made in lightweight, breezy cotton or linen which suit my style just perfectly. Lucky for me, Tami, the designer of Love Notions was updating the pattern and I got to test out the changes. A bit of fullness in the original pattern was removed and the rise was lengthened a bit. Sizes have changed to numerical sizing and go up to a 30 now, so there’s something for everyone with this pattern. And it’s on sale right now. If you already own it, you just have to download the updated version-easy peasy!

I used the My Body Model app to plan my shorts and think about which fabric I already had in my stash that would work for the pattern and work with lots of different tops. I originally thought I would use linen but then I came across this lightweight denim-y fabric that I thought would work well. The fabric was purchased a couple of years ago at Textile Fabrics in Nashville and leftover from another project. To tie them into the rest of the capsule, I planned a few red bar tacks and a red draw string at the waist.

So now there was nothing left but to sew them! Since the waistband is elastic, fitting is an easy matter. Although my measurements mostly put me in a size 10, I sized down to an 8 to create a somewhat fitted pair of shorts. I made a slight “flat seat adjustment” and added a smidge of room at the inner thighs. Both of those are very typical adjustments for me. Actual construction is quick and easy and the direction are clear so that gave me a little freedom to add details like the red bar tacks. However, looking at the pictures I can see that I might have over corrected as I’ve got some weird pulling there.

I doubt I’ll tuck my shirt into these shorts very often but I’m really pleased with the touches of red at the pockets!

After the shorts were constructed, I moved on to the La Bella Donna top*, also from Love Notions. I’ve had this really fabulous knit stripe fabric from Blackbird Fabrics that I’ve been afraid to use because I loved it so much. (Why do we do that?) I finally decided to go with a foolproof pattern that I knew I would wear. La Bella Donna is a great wardrobe staple that takes very little time to stitch up. I did hand-baste all of my stripes before I ran them through the serger to make sure those stripes matched up.

So now I’ve got one entire outfit finished for my summer capsule! I like sewing a top and then a bottom so that I’ve got something ready to wear right from the start. This outfit is mostly blue so I’m going to work on red and white next.

*All highlighted Love Notions patterns are affiliate links which means I earn a very small commission if you buy the pattern from this link. Love Notions patterns are the only affiliate links I use because I really love the patterns!


Bringing a Summer Capsule Wardrobe to Life

When I’m not sewing, I’m usually thinking about sewing. I’ve got a pretty big fabric stash and each piece of fabric represents SO many possibilities that I love to dream about all the different garments I could create. However, all that planning sometimes stays as just that-a plan that never comes to fruition. Back in the fall I dug out all of my fabric, folded it all onto magazine boards, and displayed it on inexpensive cube shelving from Target. I arranged everything by color (mostly) and suddenly all of those possibilities coalesced into obvious capsule wardrobes! It was so eye-opening! I could now see all of the fabrics that would work together.

No, it doesn’t usually look quite like this…

After picking 8-10 fabrics that I wanted to use, I worked with the My Body Model app and created a personalized croqui for each piece I wanted to sew.

Looks like this summer’s wardrobe will be red, white, and blue!

I mostly stuck with patterns I had made before and knew would fit without a lot of fitting stress. My first attempts at drawing anything recognizable were a bit shaky but I have since joined the MyBodyModel Sketchalong group on Facebook. That group has been super helpful in getting the most out of the app and it’s become so much easier to get my ideas down on paper now. No one is ever going to ooh and ah over my paper dolls but it is so much fun to draw and color!

The My Body Model app is super helpful in planning a wardrobe and it’s just plain fun!

Finally it was time to cut into my fabric! I spent the better part of one whole day cutting each pattern. I made sure I cut interfacing, bias, or anything else I would need for the pattern and then put it all in a bag with any other notions I might need. Since the capsule was all working from the same color palette, I made sure I had plenty of white, red, and navy blue thread on hand, as well.

Four tops all ready to go: From Love Notions Patterns, La Bella Donna dolman sleeve t-shirt, Rhapsody sleeveless blouse, Melody Dolman, and the Helen’s Closet Ashton.

Next up, I’m finally ready to sew!


Love Notions Rhapsody Continuous Neckline Hack

Hey there! I’ve had a few people ask about my little hack of the neckline of the Love Notions Rhapsody Blouse & Dress. Today I am thrilled to let you know that I’ve written a guest blog post explaining exactly how I did it. Head on over to the Love Notions site and you can see my hack plus another one from Tami with a different way to create a dress! Check it out here: https://www.lovenotions.com/rhapsody-pattern-hacks

The pattern is still on sale for a few more days and it’s has definitely made it on to my TNT list.


Love Notions Rhapsody Update

Love Notions recently updated their popular and versatile Rhapsody blouse pattern and made it even better! The size range has been increased to a 5X and a dress option has been added. There are 8 sleeve options so you could have a Rhapsody for every day of the week (and one extra!) I was lucky to be a tester for this updated version. You can get your copy of it here: lovenotions.com/product/rhapsody

I made a size M with no fit adjustments. My measurements are UB 35”, FB 36”, W 30”, and H 40”. I frequently have to do a forward shoulder adjustment on patterns but I think with the yoke detail already coming to the front it worked out perfectly and I didn’t need one! Yay!

The Rhapsody works best in a flowy type fabric like rayon challis or a lightweight poly. Fabric suggestions list any type of lightweight fabric and since I’m a cotton kind of girl, I made one in a lightweight dotted Swiss cotton using the cap sleeve option. In this fabric the details of the gathered yoke and the ties really stand out.

Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone! I also made the dress version in a beautiful, flowy rayon. I went with the flutter sleeves for the dress to maximize the swishy-ness. I made a mistake when I cut the skirt on this one, though. The front and back are the same pattern piece but the back is cut on the outside line and the front on a different line. I cut both pieces on the front line so my back pattern piece wasn’t wide enough. Not a huge problem, I just gathered the back bodice a bit to fit the skirt, but there was a good bit of head scratching until I figured it out!

My third top I made from a lightweight cotton gingham I purchased from Stitch Therapy, a lovely little shop in Auburn, AL. I found myself in Auburn for two weeks back in the fall helping my son and I spent a good deal of time here. I didn’t have my machine with me so I could only do some hand sewing but the shop was so welcoming. It’s always nice to hang out with “your people.”

I tried out the bishop sleeves with the gingham version. I only had a wide elastic to use in the sleeves and I think it made them a bit shorter than the pattern intended. (Is everyone else out of narrow elastic these days?) However, I almost always go for a slightly shorter sleeve anyway so it’s not a problem for me. If you have longer arms, you should probably measure before you cut.

I did a little hack at the neckline for the dress and gingham Rhapsody. I’ve seen this type of neck recently and I love the unfussy look of it. It also keeps your blouse from gaping at the neck without bothering with the ties. If you want to know how I did it, check out the Love Notions blog next week!


I was a pattern tester-and it was fun!

Recently Love Notions Patterns put out a call for testers to work on a new dress pattern, the Vivace. About the same time, The Love to Sew Podcast featured Meg McCarthy from the Cookin’ and Craftin’ blog and the had a great conversation about the pros and cons of being a pattern tester. So I took the plunge and filled out the tester application with Love Notions. I answered questions about my sewing skills, my measurements, and my photography skills. Frankly, I didn’t dream I would ever be selected, I was just proud of myself for “putting myself out there.” Imagine my extreme surprise when I received the email: “You’re in!”

Now the real terror began. What if I did it wrong? What if I was chosen by mistake? What if I hated the pattern? Relax, I told myself. I can just quietly slip away, never to be heard from again, if I can’t keep up.

Testers are asked to send a variety of views to the pattern designer. This was my initial version. A bit of the ease was removed in the final pattern.

Fortunately, none of those fears came true! The Love Notions community is nothing but kind and I loved the pattern! In fact I loved it so much that I’ve made three versions and have another couple planned. As far as the process goes, testers are emailed the initial pattern and instructions, asked to make a specific size and view, and then asked to give feedback. All feedback is welcome and as the pattern evolves you might be asked to make another sample. I actually found a mistake in the initial version that was quickly corrected in subsequent versions. At the end, testers are given a credit to get the final version at no cost.

One of my final versions of the Vivace pattern from Love Notions. I’d had this large scale print in my stash for a couple of years and this pattern turned out to be perfect for it.

After making a couple of other versions, I got a little creative with the pattern and added a lace overlay. I don’t know where or when I will be able to show this off but it’s ready when I need it!

I really enjoyed the process of testing a new pattern! It’s a community within a community and it’s been a great way to get involved.