Giveaway: Sewing Bras class from Craftsy


Years ago, I made my first bra. Walking me through that process was Beverly Johnson, who created the pattern and book (The Bra-Makers Manual) I used to better understand the construction of this highly specialized sort of garment. It was one of those experiences where you realize just how much there is to learn, but her expertise guided me through flawlessly.

For me, the most interesting thing about making bras (other than getting to play with all that cool fabric and lace) was learning how stretch affects support as well as fit. It’s a very different perspective on fabric that’s much more architectural than what you may be used to. That understanding has also transferred to other projects.

Now, Beverly Johnson is teaching a whole class on making bras at Craftsy! We’re giving one away today, courtesy of Craftsy.



To enter for your chance to win, click the link below and sign up (or sign into your existing Craftsy account). The winner will be chosen randomly by Craftsy and notified directly by them. Good luck!

Like what you read here? Subscribe to our blog via email so you don’t skip a stitch! And sign up for our weekly Snippets email for even more sewing tips and tricks.


Tutorial: Add a keyhole and ties to the Violet blouse sleeves


One way to make the Violet Blouse your own is to play with the sleeves, which are the perfect blank canvas for a bit of customization. Adding a keyhole and ties is a fun and feminine detail that doesn’t take very much extra time or pattern alteration.

To do this modification, you’ll need the sleeve pattern piece and about 3 yards of 1/4″ double fold bias tape. You can use prepackaged or make your own.

(And just a reminder – since the Violet Blouse is the Pattern of the Month, it’s 20% off in the shop through the end of January using code VIOLETMONTH at checkout.)

Prep the pattern piece

1) First, trace off or photocopy the sleeve pattern piece (G).

2) Draw a line 5/8″ above the bottom edge and trim it off. This is the hem allowance, which we won’t need since the bottom edge will bias bound.


3) Draw a line parallel to the grainline and directly through the circle marking the shoulder point at the top of the pattern piece.


4) The size and shape of the keyhole are up to you. For reference, I made mine 3″ tall and 1″ wide at the bottom. Mark the height and bottom width of the keyhole, centered over the vertical line, and use a curved ruler to draw half the keyhole. You don’t need to add any seam or hem allowance; the line you draw will be the finished size.


Note: If you’d like to add a keyhole to Version 2, you’ll need to make the keyhole much wider at the bottom to account for the gathers. First figure out the finished circumference you’d like the sleeve opening, then measure the bottom sleeve edge less the seam allowances to determine the difference. This difference plus 1″ should be the keyhole width at the bottom. Then do a quick mockup to make sure the sizing works.

5) Fold the pattern piece along the vertical line and trace the other half of the keyhole. Hold it against the window if you need more light. This ensures that the keyhole is symmetrical.


6) Cut along keyhole line.


sew the keyhole

1) Cut out two sleeves as indicated in the pattern.

2) Cut a piece of bias tape slightly longer than the keyhole.


3) To help make the bias tape easier to attach, curve it into the approximate shape and size of the keyhole and steam it. Make sure the folded edge of the bias tape is on the inside of the curve.


4) Unfold one edge of the bias tape and align the raw edge with the raw edge of the keyhole, right sides together. Stitch in the fold closest to the edge to attach tape to fabric. When you get to the top of the keyhole where it’s very curvy, sew a few stitches at a time, stopping with the needle down and lifting the presser foot to position the next bit of bias tape. Try not to stretch the fabric as you sew.


5) If your bias tape is very wrinkly at the top, trim it close to the stitching.


6) Refold bias tape around edge of fabric and pin.


7) From the right side, edge stitch along free edge of bias tape. This should catch the edge of the bias tape on the wrong side.


8) Sew side seam as indicated in pattern, finish edges and press open.


sew the ties

1) Measure the length of the bottom edge of the sleeve and cut a piece of bias tape 16″ longer. Open one fold and pin to bottom of sleeve, raw edges and right sides together, so that 8″ extends off each end of the keyhole.


2) Starting at the edge of the keyhole, stitch in the first fold of the bias tape to attach it to the fabric. End at the other edge of the keyhole.


3) Fold bias tape around edge of fabric and pin. Refold ties as well. Tuck in raw edge of tie ends.


4) Starting at one end of the ties and from the right side, edge stitch along free edge of bias tape, sewing along the tie, around the sleeve, and along the other tie.


5) Tie ties into a bow and complete sleeve insertion as pattern indicates. Repeat for other sleeve.

Do you have any other ideas for ways to dress up the sleeves of the Violet Blouse?

This post is part of #violetmonth. Get 20% off on the Violet pattern thought January 2015 with code VIOLETMONTH and follow along with tutorials and ideas on the blog.


Weekend Reading: Joan Didion, Eileen Fisher, and How to Read More


At the dentist this week, the hygienist asked me if I’d made any resolutions (why do they always ask so many questions with their hands in your mouth?).

“Not really,” I shrugged.

“Me neither,” he said. “I’m a driven person, so I don’t really feel the need just because it’s a new year.”

I wouldn’t really use the term “driven” to describe myself, though “ambitious” or “excitable” or “obsessive”… maybe. But I understand where he’s coming from. When you’re always striving (which, by the way, I don’t consider a necessarily positive thing in terms of mental health), you don’t need an arbitrary date as an excuse to stack more expectations on yourself.

On the other hand, I get it. We love symbols, and the idea of renewal is so potent. Who doesn’t want to start the year on the right foot? And if that motivates us to try something new, even better.

I have lots of goals, but no resolutions. What about you?

On to some reading! I haven’t done one of these in a while because of the holidays, so this one’s a bit long. Enjoy!

Weekend Reading:

Weekend Listening:

For more links every week, you can follow me on Twitter, where I’m always posting interesting tidbits I find.

image above via colettepatterns on instagram


Wardrobe Architect 2015


Last year, I created a little experiment on the blog called Wardrobe Architect that many of you followed along with. This year, Kristen has decided to use the principles to help her design a personal wardrobe throughout 2015. Now you have a chance to follow along on her journey and try it yourself in 2015. -Sarai

This is embarrassing to admit, but over the past few years I’ve become quite the fast fashion consumer. When I was younger, I took a forceful ethical stance and swore it all off, but lately it seems that you can find me spending money in a large fast fashion retailer multiple times a month.

Truthfully, as a creative person I feel lousy about purchasing a style that has been designed, manufactured, and marketed specifically for my socio-economic group. It doesn’t feel right for me, and I want to take time to reconnect and rediscover my style, and make it truly personal.

That’s why I’m choosing to devote 2015 to a complete wardrobe overhaul. You might call it style therapy, a closet cure, or a fast fashion diet. Whatever it is, for one year I’m not buying new clothing; everything must be made or purchased secondhand.

I believe that this will get me truly thinking about whether I actually need something, while challenging myself to become a better sewist by tackling projects I had never previously given much thought to.

And I want you to join me! I have designed a year-long program that closely follows the tenets of the Wardrobe Architect, with a strong focus on sewing your own capsule wardrobes for spring/summer and fall/winter.

Don’t worry, you don’t actually need to swear off buying new clothing if you don’t want to! However, following along with this challenge will give you the opportunity to slowly and methodically design and plan to sew your own wardrobe. Below is an outline of everything we’ll cover, month-by-month.

  • January – Find your core style and explore shapes
  • February – Clean out your closet and take inventory
  • March – Review and finalize your spring/summer sewing projects
  • April – Plan colors and shop for spring fabric
  • May & June – Sew for your spring/summer capsule wardrobe
  • July – Review and finalize your autumn/winter sewing projects
  • August – Plan colors and shop for autumn fabric
  • September & October – Sewing for your autumn/winter capsule wardrobe
  • November – Review and refine
  • December – Show off your wardrobe!

Of course, this timeline is not gospel! You are free to sew all year long (I know I will be), but I have found that it can be incredibly helpful to have a few weeks at a time to really focus on different aspects of a project before moving onto the next.

Let’s get started: January’s Challenge

This month’s theme is about finding your core style and picking silhouettes that best suit your body.

To get started, read through The Wardrobe Architect Weeks 1-4 on the blog and complete all related projects and worksheets. I recommend getting a sketchbook or binder to keep everything organized as we work through the year.

Then, start browsing for sewing patterns that you think would fit well into your future capsule wardrobe. If you like to design and make your own patterns, sketch up some designs that you think reflect your core style and that you might like to see in your capsule wardrobe. Better yet, you can even do a combination of the two!

Try to come up with at least 20 patterns or designs in different categories of clothing, such as tops, blouses, pants, skirts, or outerwear. Print out photos of the patterns or add your sketches to your notebook.

Important questions to ask yourself about the designs you choose:

  • Have you worn similar styles before? How did you feel about them when you wore them?
  • Would you need to make any modifications to the designs you choose?
  • Are there any designs that don’t quite fit with the others?
  • Are these designs cute and trendy, but maybe not quite you?


January Checklist

  • Get a notebook, sketchbook, or binder
  • Read through the Wardrobe Architect weeks 1-4
  • Complete exercises and projects for Wardrobe Architect weeks 1-4
  • Design or collect 20 pattern ideas that reflect your core style and preferred silhouettes. We’ll pare these down later.
  • Grab a button for your blog!

Share your progress!

Toward the end of the month, we will have a check in where you can share what you’ve come up with.

Here are a few other ways you can share your participation:

  • Share this image on social media (facebook, instagram, twitter, pinterest) to let people know what you’re doing (and share a link to this post). Click to download:


  • Throughout the challenge, you can post about your struggles and breakthroughs on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #WAChallenge2015 (be sure to mention @colettepatterns too)
  • Add these buttons to your blog by copying and pasting the code below (we have a couple different sizes for you):

<a href="http://www.coletterie.com/wardrobe-architect/wardrobe-architect-2015"><img src="//media.coletterie.com/promo/architect-2015-300.png" alt="" /></a>

<a href="http://www.coletterie.com/wardrobe-architect/wardrobe-architect-2015"><img src="//media.coletterie.com/promo/architect-2015-125.png" alt="" /></a>

If you plan on participating please post in the comments and let me know what your specific goals are. I’m excited to get started and see the wonderful wardrobes everyone creates!


Tutorial: Add pockets to the Violet Blouse (with free pocket template)


Whether it’s a snazzy style statement or a place to stash your pen collection, adding pockets to the Violet blouse (or any other blouse) is a fun and easy way to switch things up.

Below are the instructions for adding a basic rectangular pocket. At the end of the post is a free pattern download for the pocket featured. Alternatively, you can measure and cut a rectangle that is 5.75″ wide and 6.25″ tall.

(And just a reminder – the Violet Blouse is the Pattern of the Month, meaning it’s 20% off in the shop through the end of January. Use code VIOLETMONTH at checkout.)

How to add a basic pocket

1) Cut out one or two pocket pieces depending on how many pockets you’d like to add. From notch to notch, baste around the sides and bottom of the pocket at a scant 5/8″ seam allowance, pivoting at the lower corners.


2) Press the upper edge of the pocket 1/2″ towards the wrong side.


3) At the notch, fold the top pressed edge towards the right side and pin. (This fold should measure 1″.)


4) Stitch in place on each side at 5/8″, making sure your first pressed edge stays folded.


5) Turn top of pocket right side out, using a point turner to make the corners crisp.


6) Pin the pressed edge in place and edge stitch along it.


7) Fold the raw edges to the wrong side and press, rolling the basting stitches to the back as you do so you can’t see them from the front. Clip the corners at a right angle about 1/4″ away from the basting stitches.


8) Sew the dart in your front piece. Hold it up and decide where you’d like the pocket. Keep in mind that the center front edge of the shirt will lose 5/8″ when the facing is attached. Pin the pocket in place, making sure it’s parallel with the center front edge.


9) Since the bust dart adds a rounded shape to the fabric, place it over a pressing ham or other curved surface while pinning the edges of the pocket.


10) Topstitch around the sides and bottom of the pocket 1/8″ from the edge, pivoting at the corners and backstitching at the beginning and end. For added strength, stitch a triangle at each upper corner as shown.


pocket variations

A pocket takes barely any fabric, so it’s the perfect opportunity for some experimentation! Here are some ideas:


  1. Change the shape. Cut off the bottom corners to make a six sided pocket.
  2. Add a trim. Stitch a piece of lace, bias tape or other trim to the top of the pocket, incorporating the ends into the stitching when you fold the top edge towards the right side. Similarly, use a decorative stitch on your machine to hem the pocket instead of a straight stitch.
  3. Change the size. Make a mini pocket! Or, change the proportions to make it shorter and wider or taller and narrower.
  4. Make it curved. Curve the bottom corners of the pocket. To help when you press the edges, sew a basting stitch in the seam allowance of the curves and use it to gather the excess fabric.
  5. Add a button. Stitch a buttonhole in the hem of the pocket before attaching, then sew a button to the shirt.
  6. Make it a shape. Go crazy and make heart shaped (or any other shape) pockets. Cut two pieces per pocket, stitch them right sides together almost all the way around, notch curves and turn right side out, press and topstitch around the edge.

If you have any other pocket brainstorms you’d like to share, please comment below!

Click here to download the pocket template (or draw one yourself).

This post is part of #violetmonth. Get 20% off on the Violet pattern thought January 2015 with code VIOLETMONTH and follow along with tutorials and ideas on the blog.

Older Newer