Wandering Back Into Wovens

When I first learned to sew, it was with woven fabric.  I think most people start out using wovens either because that was the type of fabric their Mothers and Grandmothers used and taught them with, or because they gravitated toward garment making after learning to quilt.  I made myself plenty of cotton woven clothes in my teens, and so many pretty dresses for my daughter when I was in my twenties.  I also recall making a bathrobe for my husband (with tons of piping) and a dress shirt for my son (all those buttons and buttonholes!)  But sewing with knits seems so much easier and forgiving, so I had completely switched over to knits and didn’t look back.

Then two things converged that has me wandering back into wovens.  Phee Fabrics started carrying stretch twill, which intrigued me.  A local sewing store held The Tunic Bible workshop, which sounded sort of fun.  And it would have been fun, but it was way out of my budget range, so I put it out of my mind.  But then I started seeing the dresses the women made at the workshop on a Facebook sewing group I belong to.  And I needed the pattern!

It’s totally my style- a simple and straight-forward design, yet with the opportunity to personalize.  So I looked for “The Tunic Bible”, by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr at a couple of local stores and neither had it in stock.  I probably should have driven to the closest bookstore, but it was easy enough to order the book online.  ISBN 9781617453564.  The pattern is included in the book as two large copy shop sized pages printed front and back.  I traced the basic tunic and all the placket options in my size, dug through my 25 to 30 year old stash of wovens for fabric to use as my muslin, and got started.

The book is kind of a “look book” with lots of photographs of the tunics to give you inspiration, and includes directions for basic tunic construction and for each of the placket options.  It recommends finishing your seams with French seams to give your tunic a more couture finish.  I chose to use flat felling on my shoulder seams, as it seems easier/cleaner to me.

I made a sleeveless tunic length top with a wide split placket as my first muslin, and like the basic look.  However, it was immediately obvious to me that it is too wide across the shoulders in the front.  Frankly, it’s too wide even if I were adding sleeves, even though I had traced on the sleeveless line.  Despite yoga class and trying to have good posture, years of deskwork and hunching over a computer have taken their toll and given me forward rotated shoulders.  While wearing it, I placed a row of pins in my top where I wanted the shoulders to end.  After taking it off, I laid the pattern on my shirt and marked my new cut lines adding in the seam allowance.

TB turq topTB turq side

Thinking that I had solved my fit problem, I moved on to a dress length muslin using the V-neck placket.  Although the pattern includes all the plackets, the tunic is NOT marked with all the neckline cuts.  You are expected to match up the center lines and shoulder seams and trim away the excess fabric on the front and back bodice after sewing on the facing.  If you are an experienced sewist, it’s easy enough to do, although it can feel nerve-wracking to not know for sure that you are cutting it properly.  This could be a bit overwhelming to someone that is just learning to sew.

Trying on the dress revealed my second fit issue.  The bust darts are not in the proper place for my body.  I am longer than average from shoulder point to bust apex.  This fit issue should not have been a surprise to me, since I frequently have to adjust patterns because they cut into my armpits.  Since knits are so forgiving and most knit patterns don’t have bust darts, I didn’t really think about the bust dart.  As you can see in my dress, the bust darts are way too high and too far apart.  Since that puts the fullest part of the bodice above my bustline, there is a bit of pooling there.

TB V dressTB V side

So I did a bit of research online to figure the best way to lower a bust dart.  I had determined the amount I needed to lower the bust dart by measuring from where the dart fell on my body, down to the bust apex, and ended up with an inch difference.  I also decided to make my bodice a size smaller, since my measurements put me between sizes and I had traced out the larger size.  A couple of sites recommend just cutting out the bust dart section of your pattern, moving it down to where you want it, and filling in the cut out section with paper.  Since I always keep my master patterns intact and trace out the size I need, I decided to move my pattern piece up an inch on the master pattern and trace the bust dart and smaller size bodice.

TB bust dart

I finally felt confident enough with the pattern to cut into my navy stretch twill and make a dress.  I loved the look of the wide split placket on my top, so decided to use it again.  The Tunic Bible recommends using petersham ribbon or bias tape for trimming your tunic, but since I had a vision of the look I was going for, I had ordered three colors of stretch twill and made my own “bias tape”.  Here’s where the beauty of stretch twill comes into play.  On my muslin top and dress, I had cut strips of fabric on the bias to trim the arm openings, etc.  Since stretch twill has spandex in it, and 10% stretch, I didn’t have to cut my trim on the bias!  I used Wonder Tape (a wash-away double stick tape for fabric) to hold my trim in place on the placket while I top-stitched it, and let me tell you- it is a total game changer.  I used to pin all my trims or pockets in place, then sew and hope that things didn’t shift or get a weird bubble from the pins.  Wonder Tape is awesome and so much easier.  I highly recommend trying it.

I love how my first dress turned out!  It reminds me of a dress my Grandma used to have when I was a little girl.  She was rather stylish, and very beautiful, and an all-around wonderful person.  ❤  I miss her so, and wish I had a photo of her in the dress I remember.  I swear a photo exists, but my Mom didn’t recall it.  Sigh.  Anyway, I have a beautiful new dress that reminds me of her, and I will wear it all summer long!

TB navy fullTB navy back

I decided to go with a solid color for my next dress, and used the ruffle neckline.  This is an unusual choice for me because I don’t “do” frilly.  Lady-like, yes.  Girly and frilly, nope!  I’ve put ruffles on the bummies I made for my grand-daughter, but what looks cute on a baby or toddler doesn’t equate to looking cute on me!  I don’t know what possessed me to try it, but I actually like the end result.  The coral stretch twill is so bright and summery, and it looks like something I would wear to a cocktail party.  (If I were one of those people who throws or gets invited to a dressy cocktail party, which I’m not. :-))  But I feel pretty in it and will probably wear it to my nephew’s wedding this summer.

TB coral standTB coral sit.jpg

I’m happy to have wandered back into wovens, and all it took was the intrigue of a new fabric and a few Facebook posts to do it!

The Twill Skirt That Could

Do you ever just jump into a pattern because it is a new designer (to you), pushes you to use a fabric or technique that is long-lost in using so many knits (ahem, wovens!) and you think it might just replace a favorite wardrobe item that might be worn out or “grown out of”?

I had this favorite brownish khaki-type skirt from Old Navy that I LOVED. This thing could be dressed up and worn out to drink and dance or dressed down to wear with flip-flops and a tee for a summer BBQ with friends and family. It looked like it should be a mini-skirt but sat low on the hips to provide plenty of coverage to not over-expose while acting care-free.


Kids happened. My favorite staple no longer fit the way I loved and let’s be honest, putting kids in and out of their car seats is just not a good idea with a shorter skirt. I have spent years wanting another fun skirt, with pockets, that is structured enough to fit like a denim or khaki skirt but still moves like a knit for daily like chasing two littles.

Enter the Sew a Little Seam Linden. I picked this pattern because it had a very inclusive size range and comes with both shorts and skirt pattern pieces and LOTS of options from structured knit to Chino to jean skirt details. With a waist and hip measurement both of 48″ can be really difficult because I am often right at the top, if not off of, many size charts.


I haven’t made a woven anything in forever so I was hesitant but the newly stocked stretch twill from Phee Fabrics offers the beautiful structure of a woven with the forgiveness of a knit. I picked the charcoal as the coral is a little bright for everyday and the white, well, I have kids and animals.

For my first round with the Linden I stripped the options to an elastic waist, no drawstring, sloped pockets and the shortest length. PSA – Don’t hold the pattern pieces up to you to decide if that is the right length for your needs. with 5/8″ x 2 hemming allowance it got short reeeeal fast!

I am glad I have made items with pockets because I feel like it could have had a few more notches to help align the pocket pouches with the front pieces but once that was situated the rest of the assembly went quick! I am looking forward to seeing how this fast-drying woven with the perfect touch of stretch will perform as a swim-cover skirt for playing on my stand-up paddle board.


After Linden round one I can see this as a pattern I will make again and spent the time to explore the more intimate details like welt or decorative jean-style pockets or belt loops for a polished look with a few size adjustments and the next length!

Pattern: Sew a Little Seam Women’s Linden Shorts & Skirt PDF Pattern

Skirt: Stretch Twill in Charcoal

Shirt: GreenStyle Creations Green Tee in Orchid Rayon Spandex from Phee Fabrics


Classic Little White Dress: Lining the bodice of the Sew Over It Betty Dress

I love classic dresses. Simple, timeless silhouettes in neutral colors are my jam. When I first got my hands on the new twill from Phee Fabrics I knew I had to make it into one of my favorite classic dresses immediately!

With an upcoming wedding I have been needing a plethora of little white dresses, which is a welcome change from my usual little black dress uniform, but I also wanted a pattern I could whip up quickly and a finished dress would work for other occasions going forward. The Sew Over It Betty dress is one I have made a few times in the past and was the perfect pattern for what I was looking for with one exception, it includes a facing instead of a full bodice lining.

I know this is totally personal preference but I really prefer a full lining to a facing in sleeveless dresses. I think they just lay on the body so much nicer and I love that with a light fabric it adds a little extra protection against accidental sheerness.

The stretch twill on its own has the perfect weight and drape for a full circle skirt so I decided to leave the skirt unlined and embrace the beautiful drape the fabric has on its own. It also has enough structure to hold up well for a fitted bodice which means I didn’t need or want to add bulk with the bodice lining and I also wanted to keep the slight give the fabric has (to allow for the eating of food you know) so traditional lining was out. After a bit of trial and error I ended deciding that swimwear lining, as unconventional as it may be, would actually be the perfect full bodice lining in a pattern like this!

So I grabbed my white stretch twill and a few large scraps of Phee swim-lining and started to figure out how I could easily line the bodice. Turns out it really isn’t that hard and the professional finish it gives the dress is amazing!

In case you want your own fully lined bodice, I included the few pattern modifications I made below!

First I cut out the bodice and skirt out of the twill as instructed and then cut out a second bodice in the swim lining. I made the twill bodice and skirt as instructed in the pattern instructions, stopping right before the bodice is attached to the skirt. I then made a second identical bodice, including darts, out of the swim lining.

I then sandwiched the skirt in between both bodices, with the right side of the twill bodice touching the right side of the skirt and the right side of the lining bodice touching the wrong side of the skirt, and sewed the bodice to the skirt as instructed in the pattern. Next up was inserting the invisible zipper in the back which I also did according to pattern instructions, just being sure to keep the lining out of the way.

I skipped all of the instructions for the facing since I wasn’t doing one and moved on to sewing the shoulder seams of both the lining and the main bodice as instructed in the pattern I then placed the bodices right sides together, with the skirt bunched in the middle, and sewed the neckline together in one pass before turning right side out.

Next up was sewing the arm openings closed was a bit more challenging and I honestly dont know how well I will be able to describe it to you so I am going to link you to the tutorial I used here! This method worked like a charm! All that was left after the arms was to slip stitch the bodice lining to the invisible zipper which I did with a hand needle and a handful of patience!

A hem and and press and my new dress was done! As you can see it really wasn’t that much more work that the actual pattern included facing and the polish it gives the dress is so lovely!

Birthday Traditions

Going back as far as college, I’ve had a couple of birthday traditions. One which I have just given up this year is to color my hair the night before my birthday so that I wake up on my birthday without any grey hair, but this past year I have started letting my natural hair grow and letting my grey hair show. The second has always been to have a birthday dress. I started with buying myself a White House Black Market dress for the first few years, then things started changing. I would either buy a dress I absolutely loved and couldn’t live without, or make myself something something I would love just as much.

Picnic Dress Inspiration

When Phee got in the stretch twill fabrics, I could not have been more excited. I was back in my land of experience, and had so many ideas on what could be made with this fabric. I then ran across the Lila + June Picnic Dress and I knew this pattern was going to be it! One of my favorite dresses that I used to wear all the time was navy, so I knew I wanted to use the navy, but I also wanted to use the coral, so I did some color blocking on the skirt of the dress. This dress has darts, gathers, spaghetti straps, and an invisible zipper. I was ready to take all of these things on after not having sewn a fitted dress like this in far too long.

Muslins are Key

Anytime I’m making a dress with a fitted bodice, I’ll sew a muslin of the bodice first. I went with my measurements for my muslin, making sure to use the stretch twill. I only sewed up the lining without straps or the exterior of the dress, the lining is where the darts are. I found my measurements to be too large, so I sized down for my final dress to the next size down, although after getting the dress completely together I found some additional issues. I suggest completing both the lining and the exterior of the bodice for your muslin, as this will help you find any other things you can’t see with just the lining.


Finding Additional Fit Issues

After I added my zipper, and tried my dress on, I learned that I should have taken more in at the waist, and done some sort of hollow chest adjustment to account for a gapping neckline. I have had a gapping neckline on woven dresses in the past, but I’ve always just dealt with the issue in a different way and it didn’t occur to me that It would be an issue on a dress of this style.

Fixing the Waistline

I picked out the stitches on my waistline 1″ to both sides of each side seam. On the bodice I took a greater seam allowance toward the bottom of the bodice and blended this toward the original seam. I pressed my seam allowances on my bodice and bodice lining as directed by the patter. Since I had added pockets to my dress (yes, I added pockets), I decided to gather the skirt a little more along this area instead of re-sewing this seam. Then I re-did my waist seam.

Fixing the Neckline

I used some clear elastic, slightly pulling as I triple zig zag stitched it to the wrong side of the lining of the bodice between the straps. This was an easy fix for a big problem, and I didn’t have to take things apart or re-cut any pieces to make the fit better. To help keep the lining turned to the inside after the elastic was sewn in, I stitched in the ditch a few stitches between the center front panel and the side panel at the top of the bodice.


Other Things

I was working on adding a built in bra so that I didn’t have to wear a strapless bra with this dress. After making two fit versions of the Orange Lingerie Esplanade that weren’t quite perfect I ran out of time on getting a perfectly fitted strapless bra. I lightly attached the lining of the bodice at the waistline by hand so that I can easily pull that out once I have the best fit on my Esplande so I can attach it into the dress.


I added pockets to my dress! During the time I was working on this dress there was a sew-along happening around the same time. You can find the details on adding pockets over at Social Dee’s Part 3 Picnic Dress post. I did use a pocket I already had from another pattern, and made it a little bit larger, but I followed sew-along’s post on where to place my pocket.


I love Phee’s new stretch twill so much! I already have many more plans for it, including making some GreenStyle Moxies for my daughter for PE this fall. This fabric has so many different applications and I can’t wait to see what everyone does with it.

Note: This post contains affiliate links to products. All opinions and thoughts are my own. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Twill, Oh How I Adore Thee!

When I first started sewing, I primarily stuck to Double Brushed Polyester and French Terry. Then I realized, I love fabric. Plain and simple. I love everything about it-probably more than actually the act sewing itself. I love that there are so many different options for colors, prints, weights, drapes, moisture wicking, I could go on for awhile, but I won’t.  After I got more confidence in my sewing abilities I branched out to active wear and found more fabric to love.

I didn’t think I needed any other fabric choices. Phee decided to prove me wrong. Last month Stetch Twill was  introduced. I quickly ordered Charcoal and Coral (I tossed in some of the new Navy Tricot to make it a party). As always the shipping was super fast and I was quickly feeling the new material and I instantly fell in love. IMG_0493

The colors were beautiful and the texture was like no fabric I had before. It has very little stretch, but is smooth and soft to the touch. Phee is offering it in five colors currently including Black, Navy, White, Coral, and Charcoal. Upon feeling it I was automatically thinking that this would be perfect for a gym shorts or an awesome pair of hiking pants. I decided to step out of my normal box and decided to try Helen’s Closet Winslow Culottes.


I loved the drape of the pattern and the backwards pleats. The high waisted factor is also something new to me as I am usually more of a dress lady. This pattern definitely puts me outside of my comfort zone as I am not used to working with woven fabrics, I have never done pleats, and it also includes an invisible zipper. I chose to do view B length.

I received my fabric at lunch and immediately threw it in the wash to dry after I go off of work. As I was driving back into work I realize I probably made a large mistake and didn’t finish the cut edges before putting my new fabric into the wash. I fully expected to find a rat’s nest of string when I returned to the washer like I do with other woven’s that I am too lazy to serge the ends. I was pleasantly surprised when I returned to find minimal shedding.


The pattern came together well and had very well placed notches on the pieces to ensure alignment of everything during assembly. Ensure you locate and place all notches. I missed a few and had to go back to add them.  The pattern includes an option for pockets which makes this pattern even more practical. The pleats and Charcoal Twill went beautifully together. I paired it with a woven tank top to complete the full woven look and felt rather business casual.



The light weight feel of this fabric is perfect for a breezy well draped pattern. The anti wrinkle of the fabric would make it perfect for apparel. Next up on my Stretch Twill plan will definitely be some pants-or shorts, who really knows, but I will definitely streamlining this fabric into my wardrobe immediately. Be sure to check out the other new fabrics at Phee including Navy Tricot and a Bisque Supplex.

***This post contains affiliated links. At no extra cost to you, you are helping me fund my love of fabric and share my thoughts and ideas with you (= Thank you!

Stretch twill! What is it good for? Absolutely lots!

Twill refers to the weaving technique of the fabric where the ridges form a diagonal pattern. The stretch twill Phee carries is a lightweight 6oz moisture wicking fabric with nominal stretch. It is perfect for boardshorts or most patterns drafted for lightweight wovens.

Here are a variety of patterns you could use it for! Some of the links won’t hyperlink but if you just search the name of the pattern it should come right up of if you copy and paste them.

Love Notions Duet Trousers

Duet Trousers pdf pattern

Sew A Little Seam Womens or Childrens Linden Shorts and Skirt

Greenstyle Creations Taylor Shorts

Taylor Shorts PDF Sewing Pattern in Sizes 0 to 18



Friday Pattern Company Joni Jumpsuit



Thread Theory Lazo Trousers

Lazo Trousers PDF



Wardrobe by Me Chino Pants

Chino pants sewing pattern



Thread Theory Jedidiah Pants

Jedediah Pants PDFI read a blog about making these into ‘chubbies’ which would be perfect for Travis for swimming and everyday wear.


Lila and June Picnic Dress


Peekaboo patterns Kids Beachcomber Shorts


Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

Ginger Jeans pattern // High rise skinny jeans sewing pattern // Closet Case Patterns


Peekaboo Patterns Cowabunga Boardshorts


Simplicity Lightweight Dress and Jacket

Simplicity Sewing Pattern S8890 Misses' Slip Dress and Jacket by Mimi G Style


Toby K Patterns Charleston Vest


Deer and Doe Belladone Dress

Belladone dress

Helen’s Closet Winslow Culottes

Winslow Culottes Sewing Pattern by Helen's Closet


Sewaholic Patterns Thurlow trousers

Deer and Doe Lupin Jacket

Lupin jacket


Striped Swallow Coachella Shorts

Coachella Shorts Pattern Women XS-XXL


By Hand London Flora Dress


Pattern Emporium Skater Skirt


Closet Case Kalle Shirt and Shirtdress


Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt


Jalie 2678

Jalie 2678 - Board Shorts Pattern


Sewaholic Seymour Jacket

Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs


True Bias Lander Pants and Shorts


Chalk and Notch Joy Jacket


Grainline Studio Moss Skirt


Oliver and S Bistro Dress


Alina Design Co


Rebecca Page Tara Tailored Jacket


Rebecca Page Taylor Trench