The Float Top

As much as I tell myself dresses for summer are the way to go, I still find myself grabbing shorts for stay-at-home, errand-running kind of days. But I can probably wear less than half of the hot weather tops in my closet. No slinky knit tank tops…yet. Click here for explanation. This has forced me to think outside my normal tank top box and take the time to sew some fun, forgiving, gathered blouses. And I couldn’t be more happy with reconstruction make #5 that I’m sharing here.

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The pattern I used is McCall’s 7095. I grabbed this on sale at JoAnn’s when I was collecting loose-through-the-chest patterns. I knew immediately that this design fit the bill perfectly – above the chest gathers and a high non-revealing neckline, and as a bonus, it is super cute! I made view A.

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My fabrics are from the Dream Weaver Voile Collection by Amy Butler, purchased online at Hawthorne Threads. The fabric is $13.95 per yard and is 54″ wide. I cannot say enough wonderful stuff about this cotton voile. It’s silky smooth, buttery soft, and light as a feather. You cannot go wrong with an Amy Butler voile. This is my fourth project with this fabric. Amy, please make more voile! I’m running out of designs to choose from.

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The instructions called for finishing the armhole by turning under the raw edge of the fabric 5/8″ and doing a narrow hem. I thought this would be almost impossible at the curve of the underarm. I finished the armholes with purchased bias tape instead.

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Oops! I didn’t notice the bias tape was turned under at the shoulder when I took the picture.

For the bottom band, I doubled the width of the pattern piece, folded it in half and sewed the edges together when it was sewn onto the body. I did this instead of a single layer band with a narrow 5/8″ hem as called for in the instructions.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

1.  I made a size Small (8 – 10) even though that is not reflective of my measurements on the chart. I am bigger. I assumed there would be plenty of design/wearing ease. Fortunately I was correct and it fit perfect.

2. I shorten the body pattern piece by about 2 inches. I often shorten tops as I do not want them to end at my thighs, the widest part of me. I prefer tops to hit a few inches above my thighs.

3. The only deviations I made from the instructions were mentioned above, the armhole finish and double layer for the bottom band.

4. In case you’re wondering, my shorts are RTW from Talbots. I also have these shorts in two other colors.

5. This top is way more billowy and wide than I would usually wear, but it’s just so fun and comfortable, I don’t care!

I love everything about this top. Maybe one with sleeves for fall?

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Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read this post!

 

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The Kiomi Top

Eight weeks ago I had a double mastectomy because I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m not telling you this to shock you or for your sympathy, after all this is a sewing blog. I’m sharing this so you will know the true reason behind my choice of projects these past few months, and the months upcoming. But before I jump into sewing, I want to say that my prognosis is excellent, and I have the good fortune of not requiring any post treatments such as chemo therapy or radiation.

However, I am currently “under reconstruction.” My breasts are temporarily oddly shaped and uneven. That is why I am choosing tops and dress patterns that are loose and gathered above the chest. One week after surgery, I started to think about all the hot weather that is to come, looked through all my patterns, and choose The Kiomi Top from Lotta Jansdotter’s book, Everyday Style, as my first recovery make.

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The Kiomi Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

I thought this pattern would make up nicely in a quilting weight cotton fabric as I desired an opaque, more substantial weight fabric rather than a voile or lawn cotton which is my usual preference for a top or blouse. I ordered two fabrics from my favorite online store, Hawthorne Threads. (As much I prefer buying fabric in person, I think it’s awesome to purchase fabric online when you have drains attached to you, can’t drive yet, and really don’t want to leave the house.) I chose two fabrics – Iza Pearl Designs, Blush & Bloom collection, Floral Stripe in Aqua, $9.95 per yard, and Leah Duncan, Lore collection, Olympus in Navy, $12.95 per yard. I bought 1 3/4 yards of each.

After studying the photos of the Kiomi in the book, I decided I would prefer less flair for this semi-cropped top. Lotta Jansdotter looks taller and thinner than me, so she can pull off a more extreme A-line. I took out eight inches of width at the bottom of the top. I did this by cutting two slashes on both the front and back patterns pieces and overlapping the openings by an inch at the bottom. I found the width to be perfect and was very happy I made this adjustment.

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I made four slashes to take out a total of 8 inches of width on the bottom.

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I would not look as cute as Lotta in a top this swingy.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. The size range in this book is XS to XL. I made a Medium (bust 36 – 37 1/2) and it fit fine even though my bust size falls closer to the Small measurements.

2. I had an issue with the neckline on this pattern. With my first top, I followed the instructions to pull the neckline gathers to 3 1/2″ for the size Medium before sewing on the bias tape. This was too much gathering. It caused the neckline to be pulled into a kind of soft “V” shape and also pulled armholes towards the chest area. I studied all the photo examples in the book, and none of the necklines looked like mine which leads me to believe the measurements in the book were not adequately “tested.” For my second top, I pulled the gathers to 5″. I found this to be a much more acceptable result and looked more like the rounded necklines in the book.

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Left: Gathers are 3 1/2″. Right: The gathers are 5″.

3. I had an issue with the instructions for the neckline bias tape. You are given a pattern for 2″ bias tape and instructions to iron it down the middle and then in on both sides 1/2″. This of course creates a 1/2″ bias tape which is to be used on both the neckline and arm holes. Looking at all the photos in the book and the illustrations on instruction page, the neckline bias binding is clearly wider than the armhole binding. In a couple of the photos the neckline binding looks like it could be as wide as 1″. There are no instructions that differentiate the binding widths of neckline and armholes. I like the way the wider neckline binding looks, so of course I made adjustments on my own to achieve that. However, small details are what make a simple design such as the Kiomi unique, and I think the creators of the book owe their followers instructions and patterns pieces which will enable them to create exactly what they see in the photos.

4. Despite my complaints above, I love actually these two tops and have already worn them both several times. They serve the purpose that was intended for them – in the hot weather, they hide my not so perfect chest AND I still feel cute.

5. This is my third project from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter. I have a post on the Esme Tunic here. I also made the Owyn Pants. I haven’t done a post about them, but you can see photos of them in this post.

I am especially grateful right now that I can sew. I am able to create clothes that I feel great in post-surgery. What about you, when have you felt grateful that you can sew?

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Japanese Recovery Clothes

I am having some surgery in a short time and need some comfy clothes to wear during my recooperation. I figured why not try to be a bit stylish! My range of motion in my arms will be limited for a while, so I wanted to make some button-front garments to avoid to need to raise my arms overhead. I looked through my stash of patterns and two designs in my Japanese pattern books fit the bill the best. Cute, loose, and button-front.

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I wasn’t going to use this photo because I didn’t think this view looked flattering. I didn’t want to torture my husband to do a retake. But more importantly, I realized that this garment for me is about comfort and cover-up, and it is both of those things. So forget the perfectly staged photo!

 

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If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve become quite a fan of the Japanese patterns in the past year or so. Now I’m even more entrenched! The first one is Tunic with Tie Belt – 8b from Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu to Seikatsu Sha.

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The second one is Button-up Blouse D from Stylish Dress Book, Wear With Freedom by Yoshiko Tsukiori.

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The fabric I used for the Tunic is from Mood in Los Angeles. I purchased it for another project a few months ago, but felt it lent itself well to this pattern. It is a light weight cotton and was $10 per yard. I paid for three yards, but really ended up with nearly four! They’re always generous. Thank you Mood!

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This tunic has 15 buttons! 13 down the front and one on each cuff.

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The cuff opening is made with a slash, covered with a narrow binding.

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The back has this cool loop detail. I think this garment was originally designed as a work shirt/cover up and the loop allowed the wearer to hang it on a hook in the studio.

Fabric I used for the Blouse is from The Fabric Store, also in Los Angeles, only five blocks from Mood. How lucky am I? This fabric, also intended for another project, was $10 per yard, but I hit a 30% sale. And like Mood, The Fabric Store is always generous. I paid for 1.5 yards, but ended up with close to two yards, and this fabric was nearly 60″ wide. Plenty for this blouse. I recently noticed from the print on the selvage, that this fabric is from Japan.

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For the cuff and the neck binding, I first sewed the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the fabric. Then I folded it in and top stitched it to the right side. You can avoid hand sewing with this technique.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

Tunic from Simple Modern Sewing:

1. This is my third project from this book, and continue to be impressed with the well drafted patterns.

2. The sizes in this book range from XS to L, bust 32 1/4″ t0 37.” I made a Medium and because of the loose fit of this pattern, I probably could have made a Small or even Extra Small and it wouldn’t have made much difference. I think it would be safe that if you fall  somewhat outside the Large measurements, you could still wear this pattern.

3. I was actually aiming to make a 7/8 length sleeve (just above the wrist) so I cut off about 2 inches before adding the cuff. It wasn’t quite enough, so I would probably take off another inch to acheive this style.

4. Here are the instructions. Typical for these Japanese patterns books. Sufficient if you have a background in the required techniques. Otherwise they are insufficient for a beginner as stand alone instructions.

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Button-up Blouse from Stylish Dress Book, Wear with Freedom:

1. This is also my third project from this book, and same as above, am continue impressed with the drafting.

2. The sizes in this book range from 6 to 16, bust 30 3/4″ to 40 1/4.” I made a size 10, and same as the tunic, I could have made a smaller size because of the very loose fit. So same conclusion, with this pattern, if you are larger than a size 16, you could probably still wear this pattern.

3. I did not make any changes to this pattern, and sewed it exactly as shown. (Actually, I did add a 1/4″ to the width of the bias binding. I was afraid it could fray or stretch and end up too narrow. I am of the philosophy that you can always trim off, but you can’t add on.)

4. If I were to make another one, I would probably use a lighter cotton weight with a softer hand.

5. Here are the instructions. Same comments as above. You are directed to another page for cuffs and buttonholes.

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I really like both of these garments, and I know I will continue to wear them after my recovery is complete. What about you, have you made garments to help you or someone else through a physical limitation?

 

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My pants are the Owyn Pants from Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style.

 

 

 

 

The Jasper Sweatshirt

Even though we have said hello to Spring here in So Cal, I could not let the warm weather completely takeover before I share this fabulous winter make. The Jasper Sweatshirt, stylish, fashion forward and modern, looks like it could be a part of an upscale athletic RTW collection.

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The PDF pattern by Paprika Patterns is actually titled “Jasper Sweater & Dress.” I first discovered this pattern while reading a post from Mahlica Designs blog well over a year ago. I purchased it soon after, but it sat in my pile for quite some time. There is a Sweater and Dress view, and a collar or hood option.

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My catalyst to finally make the Jasper was this amazing fabric I found at Mood on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. The front side has a smooth texture with snazzy, verigated lines of blue, green and grey. The back side is a cuddly, soft, ribbed, grey fleece. I was obsessed with this fabric when I discovered it stuffed amongst all the sweater knits at Mood. It was $25 per yard, and I didn’t care. I loved it’s unique two sided-ness, and it’s promise of comfy warmth on a winter walk in So Cal.

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I top-stitched most of the seams with a stretch double needle.

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The welt pockets are probably the most intimidating feature of this well drafted stylish, sporty pattern. Once wearing the garment, you realize how well worth the effort they are. Who doesn’t love resting their hands in a comfy pouch across their belly?

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The bottom of the pouch pocket is not sewn into the bottom band. I was afraid it would sag or create bulk on the front side when wearing, but it doesn’t!

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The pattern features princesses seams on front and back which makes for a nice modern fit.

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The hood has a unique design. I like how it creates a wide opening at the neck and around the face.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. I cut a size straight size 4 and I’m very pleased with the fit.

2. I shorten the sleeves by 2″ and narrowed the cuffs by 1″. I realize the longer sleeve and wider cuffs was a carefully thought out detail by the designer. But I wanted the sleeves to be a bit more practical for me, and not have the cuffs falling halfway down my hands all the time. (After wearing it, however, I have determined that I would put a 1/2 inch back on the sleeve.)

3. I was confused as to why the pouch pocket was longer than the main front piece, also, as to whether the bottom of the pocket got sewn into the bottom band. The instructions were not clear to me. I emailed Lisa at Paprika Patterns with my questions. I was very pleased that I heard back from her within a few hours. Those of you that follow her on social media, know she lives somewhere in France in a yurt.

Overall, I am very pleased with my Jasper Sweatshirt, and so happy I finally made it! My only disappointment is my days of wearing it are numbered as 80 degree days are here to stay. This is a pattern, however, that will not go out of style. So there’s always next year, and the year after…

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I always welcome your comments. Have you been wanting to make a Jasper?

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This is my son named Jasper! That’s really why I bought the pattern!

 

 

 

Japanese Smock Blouse B

Japanese patterns…I’ve become mildy obsessed. With each project I make, I become a bigger fan. My continuing quest for more interesting tops was a great reason to sew up my fourth Japanese pattern.

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The pattern I used is B: Smock Blouse with Garibaldi Sleeves from Stylish Dress Book, Wear With Freedom by Yoshiko Tsukiori. This is my second project from this book. My first was Japanese Dress Y. I chose pattern B because of it’s simplcity and design features that would lend well to a drapey fabric.

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This book has 26 adorable patterns to choose from.

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Contrary to my usual habits (I am actually not a fabric horder, and have very little stash), I already had the fabric before I choose this pattern. It was part of my online Black Friday sale purchase from Hawthorne Threads. The fabric is Anna Maria Horner, Pretty Potent Rayon, Eucalyptus in Ruby. I purchased about 2 yards for $9.95 per yard. This is a nice quality rayon which came through a machine prewash and line dry beautifully.

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The neckline is finished with bias tape which I first machine stitched to the front, then folded over, hand stitched on the inside and then top stitched on the front side. The pattern does not provide explict instructions on how to do this!

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Here’s a Garibaldi sleeve. It has a partially gathered bottom piece with an elastic casing hem.

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The back neckline does not have gathers.

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I did a machine blind hem. One of my favorite finishing techniques for hem that have little or no curve.

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Inside peek at the stitch.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. The pattern sizes in this book range from 6 to 16. I cut a straight size 12, and was happy with the fit. I probably could have made a 10 and been just as satisfied since it’s very loose fitting.

2. This pattern is well drafted and true to the picture. I have developed a trust in the Japanese patterns.

3. However, as with the other Japanese patterns I’ve made, the instructions are minimal. If you are a beginner, do not attempt one of these patterns unless you have some in-person support. Here’s Blouse B in it’s one page entirety:

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4. The instructions showed the bias tape cut at 1 3/8″ wide. I cut it at 1 5/8″ because I was afraid any stretching or fraying might leave it too narrow in places.

5. I think one reason I like these patterns is they are friendly/flattering to the pear shaped, small busted woman.

I only sewed with Big 4 patterns (plus Burda) for 40 years. I trust them and know how to work with them. Since starting this blog, 2 years ago, I have ventured to other resources for patterns. (Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.) I have discovered that well drafted patterns can come from just about anywhere. Still, I choose patterns from alternate sources because I find an appealing and unique design, and not because I want to jump on the social media bandwagon with the latest indie pattern.

What about you? How do you choose patterns?

Thanks for visiting and reading this post! Cheers, Lori

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It’s been such a warm February, our trees think it’s spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Allay Shirt

So I need to ask myself again at the two year anniversary of my blog – have I sewn myself stylish yet? I have to say no, not completely. At times, I still feel frumpy or a lack of clothes. When the weather finally cooled down this fall, sometime in the middle of November, I really felt like I had no cool weather clothes. I say cool weather, not cold weather because I live in Southern California. I’m talking about everyday, nice, casual – something more interesting than a long sleeved, plain t-shirt. I thought this loose-fitting shirt was a great way to start filling this void in my wardrobe.

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The pattern I used is McCall’s 7018. I had this pattern for quite some time, bought on sale at JoAnn’s, probably 5 for $7. I made view E. I was attracted to it’s loose fit and versatility. We do have chilly mornings and evenings in the winter, so one feature I look for is a simple, narrow sleeve that will easily slide into a jacket or sweater.

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The fabric I used is Anna Maria Horner, Tangle Knit in Rust. I bought this knit online at Hawthorne Threads during their Black Friday Sale. I bought 1.75 yards for $9.70 per yard. I am always leery about buying knits online because the quality of the fabric and the printing can vary greatly. But, I have purchased Anna Maria Horner knits before and knew it was a sure bet. I was not disappointed, this is a perfect top weight cotton interlock with a nice print quality.

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I like the not-too-drastic high-low feature of the hem.

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This shirt washes beautifully. When I took these photographs, it had been worn and put through the washer and dryer.

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I slipped stitched the bottom of the collar down by hand before top stitching on the front side.

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Simple narrow double needle hem. No serging on the edges, just trimming close to the stitching.

 

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. I cut a straight size 12. The only adjustment I made was taking off 1″ in the length before cutting. This is standard practice for me as my widest part is my thighs and I never want to top to end at that spot. Since this top is “loose-fitting,” I did not have to grade wider at the hips were I am about a size 16. I am very pleased with the fit and like the look of the shaped hemline.

2. The pattern is labeled as “EASY.” Doing a collar with a button front is never easy for a beginner especially with a knit. I guess we should assume that EASY does not equal Beginner?

3. Before top stitching on the collar, I hand-based all around close to where I was going to top stitch to prevent the fabric from stretching/pulling under the machine foot when stitching.

I love this shirt. I’ve worn it 3 or 4 times already, and very time it makes me feel happy that I’m wearing it.

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What about you? Do you find the start of a new season upon you and suddenly feel like you have nothing to wear?

 

 

 

The Esme Tunic

I have felt a desire lately to put more craft and creativity into my Fresh Makes. I recently purchased the book “Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style.” Putting a spin on one of her patterns was a perfect way for me to the get back into touch with my artsy side.

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That is my dog, Spright, peeking under the fence.

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The book includes patterns for five basic garments. This is the Esme Tunic. The Esme includes two other versions, a hip length top and kaftan.

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The fabric I used is Alison Glass Knits in Indigo. I purchased it online at Harts Fabrics for $15.99 per yard. It is also available at several other online fabrics stores. I had already made two simple shirts with Alison Glass Knits, and thought this would be a perfect fabric for this simple tunic. I love this knit fabric! It is very stable, substantial weight jersey knit, that after a few washings, feels like flannel. (Beware: It shrinks a lot! I prewashed this the Indigo twice because my first two projects with this fabric shrunk more in the first wash after completing and wearing.)

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I added a reverse applique design at the neckline inspired by Alabama Chanin. When the Alabama Stitch Book came out in 2008, I was obsessed with the techniques and garments from the book. I made countless projects for a year or two. Then time marched on and I focused on other things. But recently I felt a yearning to do some handiwork, and thought this neckline would be perfect for some embellishment. (The stencils are of my own design, not from the book.) The paint I used is Jacquard Lumiere, Pearl Megenta.

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The underneath fabric which is also the facing, is Alison Glass Knit in Lime, leftover from my prior project.

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The lime colored facing was attached so the right-side of the fabric shows through when the blue fabric is cut away.

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I used a rounded zigzag stitch for the hem. I normally use a double needle straight stitch on knits, but I thought this would look better with the folksy style of the tunic. I leave the edges raw and cut closely to the stitching. That’s all you need to do!

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. I traced and cut a pure size medium without any alterations (except for the length). The flair was significant enough to accommodate my larger hip to smaller bust ratio.

2. I took off two inches from the length before cutting because I thought I would make it a just below hip length to wear with jeans. I tried it on and asked my 20 year old daughter for her opinion as to whether I should keep it long or make it shorter, and she said keep it long. So I did! If I knew I was going to do this, I might not have taken off the two inches. I feel perfectly comfortable in it, but, I’m old!

3. The Esme Tunic is a simple pattern that a beginner could sew. BUT not solely with the instructions provided in the book.

4. I bought this book out of curiousity and because it seems to be getting a lot of hipe on social media (or at least the stuff I follow). I have always liked Lotta Jansdotter’s asthestic and the fact that she’s Swedish. I’m part Swedish and have visitied Sweden many times. But I have to be completely honest, intially, I thumbed through it pretty quickly and thought it was a waste of money. The accessory projects are so easy, I definitely didn’t need a book to show me how to do them. But I realized I am not the target audience for this book, and it is comforting and inspiring for someone who is non-crafty to make projects from a curated book from lifestyle icon.

5. BUT, I thought, I spent money on the book, I need to make something from it. AND, I have to admit, I LOVE the cut and fit of the Esme Tunic. I might even make another one!

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