Weekend Reading: Having it all, speeding up intimacy, and tech anxiety


I’m having an amazing time in the studio these days. It’s insanely busy as we work to create each new issue of Seamwork, looking for the millions of ways we can make it better and expand, while also taking care of the main pattern line.

I’ve been writing, editing, playing with fabric, photographing, fabric shopping, hiring models, you name it. But we’ve also been working on patterns, thinking up new ways to help our stockists, and staring to plan a blog overhaul (woo!).

It’s frankly a bit bananas, but it’s invigorating. Every day, I have an insurmountable list. Every day, things are left undone. And I’m fine with that.

Weekend Reading:

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

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Free pattern hack: Violet sans facing


I don’t know about you, but I’m not always crazy about facings.

Sure, they’re easy to sew, and there are certainly times where a facing is the best option for finishing a neckline. There are even times when it’s really the only option.

But with a little more work, you can often change out facings for other finishes that look a little less homemade. This month, I decided to try that out on Violet, swapping the front and neck facing for a placket and finishing the neckline with bias tape.


This is an especially great modification if your fabric is at all sheer, since facings can sometimes show through. The placket gives the Violet a more traditional and slightly less feminine look. You could use this same modification on just about any button down shirt that has a facing.



Modifying Violet for a placket does mean changing up the pattern. You have to cut separate placket pieces, and adjust the right and left sides of the blouse front a little differently. The collar also has to be trimmed back a little to leave room at the center front for that placket.

To make it super clear, I created some free instructions, complete with illustrations, to show you step by step how it’s done.

I went with lovely clear glass buttons on my own Violet. I love the weight of glass buttons, don’t you?


Introducing the Pattern Hack Pack

We’ve created a few downloadable pattern hacks with these bonus sets of instructions at this point: the MOD-ified Laurel, the plaid Dahlia, and now this one. And we have a lot more of these freebies planned in 2015. I’m hoping to create one for each Pattern of the Month this year!

To keep it all manageable, I’ve created a special list just for free pattern hacks. When you get on the list, you’ll get the link to download a zip file with all the current pattern hacks. As we add new freebies to the pack, we’ll send you a quick email to let you know that you can get a new free download. That way you won’t miss any of them.

Just click the button below to get free hacks delivered as we create them (if you change your mind, every email will have an unsubscribe link).



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!


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

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