My Make Nine

I chose my "2018 Make Nine" with a few garments I wanted to add to my closet and a lot of skills I wanted to add to my sewing repertoire. My goals for the year including learning how to sew a collar stand, fit a jacket, and "master" knits. I'm still working on that last part...

I made most of my 2018 Make Nine, but didn't end up finishing all of my original selections. Some of my makes were actually toiles that I would like to make again next year now that I know how to fit them better. I will also be more intentional about selecting better fabrics. I plan to make another Sewaholic Granville button-up shirt in a gray gingham from Rifle Paper Co. and a few more varieties of the Blackwood Cardigan by Helen's Closet. In 2019 I hope to finish my current Make Nine goals and make a wrap sweater, blazer, and underwear as well since these are items I definitely want to add to my wardrobe.

My 2019 Make Nine goals, pictured above, will fit into my wardrobe really well and transition from work to evening and weekend events. I've picked Simplicity 1801 designed by Cynthia Rowley, Named Clothing's Sointu Kimono Tee, Patterns for Pirates' Wiggle Dress, Colette Patterns' Moneta Dress, Closet Case Patterns' Sasha Trousers, Grainline Studio's Morris Blazer, True Bias Patterns' Ogden Cami, Closet Case Patterns' Charlie Caftan, and Sew Over It's Pussy Bow Blouse. New skills I would like to learn include bias binding and the Hong Kong finish. I think I'll need a purchase a bias tape maker with some of my Christmas cash! I may also try to join a few Sew My Style monthly challenges, depending on the pattern selected.

However, I want to be sure to leave enough time to make a few garments I haven't thought of yet, so I don't want to over commit! What are your sewing plans for this upcoming year? Do you plan to review fabric or test patterns?

2018 Year-In-Review

It's hard to believe that it has been a year since I started sewing more regularly and documenting my journey here on the blog. Over the course of this year I've learned a lot about the kinds of garments I like to wear; style, color, fabric type and weight. I hit my stride about mid-year and started making garments I have truly incorporated into my wardrobe. My favorite makes of the year, pictured above, were all made in May or later and none of them were part of my original plan.

In total I've made 20 garments this year, almost doubling the number of garments I've ever made. Of these garments I wear approximately 11 of them, including two formal dresses. The five pieces I've worn most are a vintage Simplicity wrap dress S7705, a McCalls trumpet sleeve blouse M7542, a Hey June Handmade Halifax Hoodie, a Grainline Studio Lark Tee, and a Chalk and Notch Fringe Dress pictured above.

Most of the garments I don't wear were really only intended to be "wearable toiles." I'm glad I took the time to make these mock-ups before cutting into more expensive fashion fabric. However, the problem I found with making toiles was that I rarely actually made a second garment with the changes I planned to make the next garment fit me better.

I plan to be much more intentional with my 2019 makes. I'll use neutral, earth tones as well as floral prints and tailored styles. And I'm going to do a better job of making the final garment post-toile. I'll share more about my inspiration and 2019 sewing plans soon!


My mother taught me how to sew, and her mother taught her. We have a rich family history of sewing and I couldn't be more thankful for the mentor-ship of my mom and her sister Karen.

This year I had the opportunity to tackle a sewing project with the help of both my mom and Aunt Karen and captured some of their advice along the way. I wanted to share their nuggets of gold with you; I hope you find them as helpful as I do!

Tips from Aunt Karen included, "before you cut anything out, treat your fabric like you would the garment. Every fabric, every time." This tip allows a sewer to avoid shrinking of finished garments, dye bleeding, and other potential fabric laundering issues. She also suggested it was best to adhere interfacing to the inside (toward your skin) when possible in case it wrinkles. For example, she would suggest that I adhere fusible interfacing to the interior collar stand instead of the exterior panel of a collared shirt.

My mom, quoting her mother, told me the best way to decide on button placement is to always start with a button in the place with the greatest pull (across the bust or hips) and to place the rest of your buttons evenly from there. What an amazing tip! She also taught me that to set my stitches and make a crisp seam I could spray water (from a separate spray bottle) to steam my garment without burning my fingers.

I've learned a lot about sewing this year, spending intentional time watching, reading, and practicing my craft. With advice like that of my mom and Aunt Karen I can create better garments than I could purchase. I'm so incredibly thankful for the advice of my mom and Aunt Karen any time I have difficulty interpreting a pattern or deciding on an appropriate fabric. Now to enact their advice on my next project!

What tips have you learned from your sewing mentors?

Photography by K.Willerick Photography. Go check out her site!

Autumn Rifle Paper Co. Fringe Dress

I've had my eye on Chalk & Notch's Fringe dress pattern for a while now and was finally inspired to make my own autumn version when I saw this burgandy Amalfi Rifle Paper Co. rayon at my local fabric store.

I've had a crush on Rifle Paper Co. fabric for a while now, and have a sizable hoard, but have been too afraid to cut into any of my stash. Until now. And I'm so glad I did!

I purchased my Fringe dress pattern a few weeks in advance and had it printed using This was my first time printing indie patterns through an online .pdf printer and I was surprised at how easy and inexpensive they were to print. If I can plan far enough in advance I will certainly be doing this for the rest of my indie patterns.

I was very thoughtful about how I cut out my pattern pieces, aligning floral motifs across top and bottom pieces. I used my rotary cutter and mat to cut out the fabric pieces for the first time and was fairly happy with how that worked, although I should probably get a smaller rotary cutter if I plan to cut more patterns this way in the future. I made a mistake at this point and accidentally cut out the material for the darts. Thankfully this dress isn't extremely fitted and I was able to take slightly thinner seams and still make it work.

I had difficulty turning the ties and ended up simply ironing and top stitching them. I also sewed the ties into the side seams instead of the darts, as a stylistic preference. Although I thought I was being careful I caught about 1/2" of the right tie in the back waistline seam. I decided not to pick out that seam and re-sew it since I am likely to only tie the ties in the back of the dress and I had already serged the seam when I discovered my mistake.

I really like how this pattern dealt with the insertion of pockets. This pattern called for fusible stabilizer at the opening of the pockets, which I'm sure will make a big difference in how well the dress wears over time. Once the pockets were completed I tacked them toward the front. I plan to add stabilizer to all of my pocket openings in the future as well as tack them in place.

I love sewing with wovens and this rayon was a dream to work with. I especially like how this fabric ironed so well, allowing me to get a crisp neckline facing and curved hem. I will certainly be using more of my Rifle Paper Co. stash in the near future and hope to make the Fringe dress again too.

Time estimated: 12 hours
Size: 4
Material used: 100% rayon
Care instructions: machine wash warm or cold, tumble dry low, iron low in needed

Cost to make t-shirt:
pattern - $14.00
.pdf printing - $4.00
fabric - $41.25
*used existing thread and interfacing
TOTAL: $59.25

Autumn Vibes Lark Tee

In September I took my first sewing class at a local fabric shop, The French Seam. Over the course of two, three hour long sessions each participant made their own Lark Tee. I was excited for the opportunity to learn a few additional tips and tricks about sewing with knits and was glad I took the class.

I decided to make the v-neck version with long sleeves, which seemed fitting for the autumnal themed fabric I selected, Floral Glow in Twilit by Art Gallery Fabrics. Thankfully sewing with a group of other women allowed us the opportunity to tissue fit our pattern pieces before cutting our fashion fabric. I traced my pattern pieces onto medical exam paper and cut out a size six.

Right off the bat our instructor Deb suggested something radical, sewing knits with a universal needle and a straight stitch. Deb and I agree that a straight stitch looks more professional, so I was game to try it! According to Deb's experience a longer straight stitch is more elastic than smaller, packed stitches. The heavier the fabric, the longer the stitches. I used a medium weight knit with a 3.0 stitch length. It is also important not to use too high of a speed while sewing the garment.

Since this fabric has a fairly obvious directional print, but the pattern pieces didn't have notches on the sides, Deb suggested that I trace the motif on my pattern to get good alignment when cutting out my fabric. This tip worked well and I will definitely be using it again in the future!

Before doing anything else I marked the stitch line of the v-neck and added a line of stay stitching just inside the stitch line. This is only the second v-neck t-shirt I've made, so I was glad to have Deb's assistance. It turned out better than my first one, but I hope to get it more crisp in the future. Thankfully the pattern of the fabric helps to camouflage this slightly less than crisp neckline.

I used stay tape in the shoulder seams and in the bottom hem. I stitched 1" knit stay tape, glue side up, to the bottom of the shirt. Then I turned the hem up, ironed it in place, and topstitched it. A few additional things I learned from Deb about ironing are to not wiggle my iron while ironing as it could stretch and misshape the garment and create wrinkles somewhere else. I also had the opportunity to use a wood clapper to set my seams after ironing.

I really like the Lark Tee and will definitely make this pattern again. Next time I make it I plan to grade the pattern to a size four at the waist for a slightly more fitted t-shirt. I can see a closet full of Lark Tees in my future!

Time estimate: 6 hours
Size: 6, long sleeve v-neck
Material used: 95% cotton, 5% spandex
Care instructions: machine wash cold, tumble dry low

Cost to make:

class - $65
pattern - $18
fabric - $25, 1.5 yards
thread - $2
TOTAL: $110 plus tax

Halifax Hoodie

Near the end of last month my Instagram feed started to fill up with a bunch of gorgeous Halifax hoodies. I have had my eye on this pattern for a while, and seeing all the other gorgeous makes was just the motivation I needed to make my own!

I had originally envisioned making a cowl neck version of the hoodie in a navy blue french terry with drawstrings, until I found this gorgeous dimensional gray knit at JoAnn. Since this fabric does have a pattern I had to be thoughtful of how I cut it out and assembled it. Luckily this wasn't a directional pattern and I didn't need any extra fabric. In this version I opted not to add the drawstrings for a more polished look.

It was a very quick make with a fresh ball point needle and my walking foot. I can't believe I waited this long to try my walking foot. It wasn't as intimidating as I thought it would be to attach and use and I will definitely be using it more regularly in the future.

I'm thrilled with how this make turned out, although I wish the cowl was slightly more relaxed. I left the sleeves long so I wouldn't have the chance of any exposed skin in the cold winter months, but will probably shorten them a bit in the future as well. I will certainly make this pattern again, likely in a variety of styles!

Time estimate: 4 hours
Size: small, view D
Material used: 50% cotton, 46% polyester, 3% spandex, 1% metallic
Care instructions: machine wash gentle cycle, cold, non-chlorine bleach, line dry, cool iron

Cost to make:

pattern - $10
fabric - $24, 2 yards
*thread from my stash
TOTAL: $34

Favorite Tee

The aptly named "favorite tee" is my first Patterns for Pirates make and it certainly won't be my last!
My wardrobe recently had both black and light brown RTW t-shirts similar to the long sleeved, curved hem top which were cheaply made and needed to be replaced, so I made this wearable muslin to test the pattern and was very happy with the results.

This pattern was extremely quick and easy to assemble. The most difficult part of completing this garment was finishing the curved hem. I used twin needles, at about 1/2" from the unfinished edge, with tear-away stabilizer to reduce tunneling. I am happy with the finished results, although it is a bit nerve wrecking to hem so close to the cut edge of my fabric from the top!

Next time I make a favorite tee I will probably shorten the neckband slightly; this one seems a bit too big and doesn't lay as flatly as I would like it to. I can't wait to make a few more versions of this top with that one slight adjustment!

Time estimate: 2 hours
Size: small
Material used: knit blend, pre-washed and dryed
Care instructions: machine wash gentle cold, tumble dry low, cool iron

Cost to make:
pattern - $9 + cost of paper, ink and tape to print and assemble 
fabric - gifted
*thread from my stash
TOTAL: estimated $10

Bell Sleeve Pullover Top

I am so proud of my newest make, McCall's M7542, a trendy bell sleeved pullover blouse in blue and white striped shirting. This top is one of my favorite makes this year and I can certainly see myself making a few more yet this fall. And best yet, this is one of the patterns I won from the #royalweddingsewalong; thanks McCall's!

I cut out a standard size eight and added two inches to the length of the bodice. I love the fit of the finished garment and it is the perfect transitional, summer to autumn top. The fabric is light and airy with a nice drape and with the right and wrong sides of the fabric so similar the inside of the bell sleeve is just a cute as the outside.

For all the great qualities of this fabric it is also a bit opaque and you can see the neck facing through the front of the top which is one of my least favorite aspects of the garment. When I make it again I may try a bias binding neck facing instead for a more minimal outward appearance.

I found most of the curved sections of the pattern a bit difficult but manageable with much pinning, ironing, and hand basting. Setting in the sleeve was more challenging for me on this project than it has been in the recent past, feeling like there was just too much fabric to slightly gather into the armscye. With so much gathering the serged seam finish was effective but not very pretty. At least I had a cute companion!

As I said, I'm thrilled with this top and plan to wear it all fall. What are your favorite transitional pieces?

Time estimate: 6 hours
Size: 8
Material used: shirting, 68% cotton, 28% nylon, 4% spandex
Care instructions: machine wash gentle cold, non-chlorine bleach, tumble dry low, cool iron

Cost to make:
pattern - free to me
fabric - $13
*hook and eye, thread from my stash
TOTAL: $13

The Great Big Pattern Swap

I recently participated in the #greatbigpatternswap, sending two patterns to other sewers and receiving two new-to-me patterns in the mail. I love the idea behind this swap; patterns are easy and inexpensive to mail and you get to meet other fabulous sewers all while curating a library patterns that better align with your wardrobe goals!

Each of the patterns I received were still uncut, so I got to work right away cutting them out while I asked my Instagram friends which pattern I should try first. By the time I was ready to cut into my fabric, Simplicity 1716 was in the lead by a hair. I just love the cowl neckline of views D, E, and F and had enough floral knit fabric leftover from a pair of leggings I made earlier this year that I was able to get to work right away.

The pattern called for stay tape in the shoulder seams and although I knew about this technique before making this top, I think it is the first time I used stay tape in one of my own garments. I've worn the top twice so far and the should seams are holding up well. Adding the stay tape didn't complicate the project in any way and I can see myself using it all other knit tops in the future.

I love how the back neck and arm facings turned out, although the armscye is a bit big for me. In the future I may try to slightly reduce the armscye and slightly elongate the cowl as some of the wrong side of the fabric can peak through from time to time. All in all, this pattern was a super fast sew and I loved the results. I can see adding a number of these tops into my regular work wardrobe rotation! Now to make time to sew my second new pattern...

Time estimate: 2-4 hours
Size: 12
Material used: knit print, 97% rayon and 3% spandex
Care instructions: machine wash cold, gentle cycle, line dry, cool iron as needed

Cost to make leggings:
pattern - free to me, approximately $3.50 to mail one pattern to other participant
*fabric and thread from my stash
TOTAL: $3.50
[name=Marissa] [img=//] [description=Hi, I'm Marissa, a hobby seamstress. Thanks for joining me on my journey as I create a handmade wardrobe. Like and follow via the social media links below to see my newest makes!] [(instagram=] [(facebook=] [(bloglovin=]