Jessie, the dress with a secret

I tested this pattern a while back, and really had fun with it.


A tank with a cardigan is my favorite trans season combo!

A cute top, tee, tank or dress with a party in the back. The ITY print I used wanted a narrow ruffled hem.


I seamed the back due to fabric limitations.

Jessie is a great basic.  I added a shelf bra, which makes it a grab and go option, which fits my life.  After testing Virginia, Stella, and a few other favorites, it was super easy to add.  It is genius with the low back! I learned by happy accident that a shelf bra in a 4 way stretch that wicks is a beautiful thing.  Add powernet or tech sheen if you want more support/coverage!

Check out the tester photos and see how creative some folks got with theirs.

I love the scoop back, in its simplicity,  and I also love the fancy straps.  What is a sewist to do?  Both?  Yes please!

I made the loops like we did with the Key West.  About 9 inches of the 1.5 inch strip was serged lengthwise and cut into 2 inch strips.  I love a solid binding on a print garment.  It punctuates the edges and this Nylon Spandex Tricot from my stash was the perfect color.


After sewing shoulder and side seams in both dress and bra, per pattern instructions, I basted the edges together with a short zig zag stitch.  Then I carefully measured so that my loops were symmetrical, and basted them to the inside of the back before binding the edge. Raw edges of the loops aligned with the raw edges of the fabric.


loops pinned


loop basted

Then, I attached the right side of the binding cut at the pattern chart length and stitched together to form a loop, to wrong side of the dress with a 2 wide and 2 long zig zag on the edge.  Checked for fit and puckers, then serged around that seam.  When I did this, I noticed that the armscye wanted to be a little narrower, so I basted those openings  about 1/2 inch from the edge, and trimmed them before binding.

The serged edge lends nice stability.  I wrapped the binding around it, tucked in the raw edge of the binding, and top stitched.  The beauty of sewing the binding to the back and wrapping it around is that both sides are finished and the top stitching happens from the side that will be seen when wearing.


I like to use a thread that matches my fabric.



Sewing the band on a tank for my sweetie.  Same process, different color. The fabric here was reversible, so I wanted the tank to be reversible too.  More on that here.


The loops stay tucked out of sight when not used, and can be pulled out and  laced up when that look is desired.

I used the 1.5 inch strip leftover from binding to make the lace.  Perhaps the next version will get three loops on either side?

Love a dress with options and pockets!

Now to make some Ninjas from that Nylon Spandex Tricot!

This post contains affiliate links, which cost you nothing to use and incent me to share more of my sewing secrets. I may receive a small commission from the designers from your usage of the link.

Happy sewing!  Joan

Reversible tank for Mr. Charming

48B03433-9D3F-4CC9-9442-BE84E104524DOn our last little jaunt out of town, we were headed west in the car, and I looked over at my husband, who was driving.  My heart was happy, cause he was wearing a shirt I made for him.  I have more than one serger, but had been practicing my fine finishing of woven seams, with flat felled and french seams.

Folkwear’s Egyptian Shirt had been a challenge, but it has pockets and a cool reverse facing around the neckline.   I even used a fancy seam on those cuffs.  Those cuffs.  I looked over at his hand on the wheel and those cuffs, and I couldn’t reconcile them.  They were not what I remembered.  I followed the line of his arm up the sleeve, as we sped down the highway, and noticed the armscye seam.  There was something odd about it.

I realized he had it on inside out.  It was hard to keep quiet, but as we were on the interstate, I worked hard not to say anything to him.  After all, I had also worked really hard to make neat finished seams inside and out, and there really was little difference.

Same thing happened on the Breeze shirt just the other day.  Another reverse facing, another shirt put on inside out.

I had some interesting fabric purchased from JoAnn’s some time ago.  I wish I had purchased more, but…  It is a deep brown on one side and a light brown on the other.  I love reversible things, and decided to make him a truly reversible shirt.

Luckily, I had this pattern printed, and, the 52 week sewing challenge for week 34 was to make something with a bias bound edge or FOE.  Well FOE would work for this, but I had fabric, with two sides, and a rotary cutter, mat and ruler, so not bias, but bound for sure!


When making tanks, I like to cut the strips for binding/bands first.

I like this pattern, cause the front and back are the same, just a swoop from the back neckline to cut the front makes cutting faster.  Also the little bit of grading I made for his particular curves are easy if there is only one pattern piece.

Just like my mother told me to do so many decades ago, I offset the front/back by about 3/8 inch, and sewed with a 1/4 to 3/8 inch seam. These measurements work for a pattern with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  This fabric sewed beautifully across the horizontal grain, but I had to change my needle to get a vertical seam to sew without skipping stitches.


Then I opened up the seam.  Note to self to cut more neatly next time.D427BDB5-B617-42B5-B0FC-0F0D9918E744Wrapped the longer seam around the shorter seam, and top stitched that.  My #20 foot really comes in handy.  I moved the needle on my Bernina 1630 to the left (but not all the way) to make the second seam. And stitched.  If this was a woven, I might have pressed that larger seam in half so that the sewing would go easier, but this mystery poly blend was not going anywhere near my iron.

76FE130F-5218-4A1B-9432-129D4D33DDA4I stitched the shoulder and both side seams like this.

Then I sewed the short seams in my bands. Took care to keep my neck and arm bands separate. 4F406A51-82E6-4511-83EC-5CEC2B5AFED9Marked center points, and serged those bands on.  In keeping with the reversible theme, I even made a band for the hem.

Once the bands were serged on, I wrapped the bands around to the other side, tucked in that raw edge, and with my favorite #20 foot, and the needle in the almost far left position top stitched with a wobble stitch.  Wobble stitch is a Sandra Betzina term that looks like a straight stitch, but is a narrow zig zag.  At .5 wide and 2 long, it stretches nicely.  Best here, to top stitch the contrast band on top, so you can see where you are sewing and make sure that bobbin thread is a good match!

601F3BC0-ACAC-45CD-8B45-5F76ABE7633DIt did not take long, and all the seams were done!  Now he can wear this any which way he wants, except maybe backwards!

This post may contain affiliate links that cost you nothing, and give me a little incentive to keep writing.  Affiliate link usage is greatly appreciated.  Happy Sewing!  Joan


Escapade Experiment

1F9C9613-6E8C-4C59-91D3-40D383781116I grew up with a swimming pool in the back yard.

My parents signed the offer on the house at the check out counter at Safeway while we were buying candles to put on the cake for my 8th birthday.  Funny how these details stay with you.

In the mid 60’s, we were clothing frugal compared to today’s standards.  My mother made a two piece for my 9th birthday from a woven red, white and blue large floral.  She lined it with the same fabric.  It really became interesting when it got wet. Over time, our outgrown swimwear made its way to a box under the bathroom sink, so that when guests came over without suits, there might be something for them to wear.

My siblings swam competitive swimming.  One year, the team suit was a wide blue and white stripe, an inch or more wide.  The white section was not as sun proof as the blue, and my younger sister had a striped suit on, even when she took her suit off.

I am blessed to be raised by parents who sent me several different places to take sewing lessons.  One teacher asked me what I wanted to make, and I said “suits”.  She showed me men’s suiting fabrics, neither of us really knew what the other was talking about but we figured it out, and I am grateful and still use techniques I learned decades ago.

By the time I was in high school, I designed and stitched my own bikinis from triangles of scraps of my mother’s projects, and bias tape.  Ties everywhere.  I was on a synchronized swim team called the Cygnets, and our coach asked me to sew the suits for our little group of teens and pre-teens to wear to the Junior Olympics in San Antonio Texas.  They were made from an orange double knit swim fabric, and had a band of sequins.  At sixteen, I had more swimwear than any of my friends, most all of it me-made, and worn  daily in the summer.

I have lovely memories of so much time in the water, and one of my jobs was to clean the pool on Saturdays.  There is more here, but I will save it for another time.

So, when Jessica, from 5 out of 4 patterns put out a call for pattern testers for a new swim top, called Escapade, it spoke to me.

I jumped all over that test.  The design is super simple, and very clever.  It lifts and flatters my three score bust like nothing else.  I have made it many times.  After testing, I opted to try my hand at making it reversible.

  1.  *In order to use this method, you will want to cut the bra one inch longer than your normally would cut it.

2.  As a bra to wear underneath a tee shirt, I opted to skip the ties, and ruche the center with elastic.  After the top center seam is sewn with elastic and under stitched,  I stitched elastic from one center front (bottom) to the top center, then back again to the bottom of the other side.  I left the first and last inch of this not stretched, but stretched the elastic while sewing in between these spots.

I remember the first time directly sewing elastic to a garment.  My mother was on the phone in the kitchen watching me try and try again on the kitchen table.  It takes practice.  She asked me to wait till she was done with her phone call then patiently showed me how to hold both ends, and sew carefully.


Under stitched with a wobble stitch =.5 wide zig zag.


Clear elastic would work well here.  I used a scrap that was handy.

3.  Next, I stitched the side seams and pressed them open.  With the right sides of the front and back facing each other, I serged around the top of the bra, from the top of one breast to the other.  Since I under stitched the front center seam, I was careful to wrap those seams to make crisp corners when I turned it right side out.


Top of bra sewn right sides together, with wrapped corners.

4.  I pressed that seam outwards, and decided which side would get the pop of color and folded back 5/8 inch of this edge (top of one breast, around the back to the top of the other), pinned, and stitched it down to make a casing.  Since that edge was finished, it turned out pretty on both sides. ** Note going forward I would leave  the back un sewn about 4 inches from either side of center.  This would make it easier to slip in those straps.


Top edge folded over and stitched down to form a casing.

5.  After that, I made the drawstring per pattern instructions.

6.  Now to finish the bottom of the bra.  If I had cut it one inch longer, then  it would be super easy to serge the ring of elastic around the bottom, flip it back twice and top stitch like I did on the agility here.

*However, I felt that there would not be enough room to turn this twice, I added a separate 3 inch strip (waistband like casing) for my under bust  elastic.


0B206287-D43C-4875-A49D-1FA943583C13 It was simple enough to figure how much I wanted to go around my under bust, serge a single layer to the same color side, right sides together, and wrap that around my elastic tuck it under and top stitch it to the other side.  Best to use bobbin thread to match the fabric underneath, to stitch on the contrasting side, so you can see where to sew!03EE5698-8255-46CB-B340-DDF8D5F2EE9F


Next, I threaded my tie/strap through the casing, and adjusted where I wanted the straps to hit on the back.  I like them closer to the center than to the sides, so I can wear them with racer back tops and tanks like the Taylor.  I suggest pinning them with a pair of safety pins, makes it less painful to take off.

To make the strap attachment look nice from either side, I sewed them with the raw edge toward the top of the casing across the area where I had stitched down that casing.  Afterwards I clipped close to that seam, brought the strap up and top stitched the top of  the bra edge.   ** going forward, I could slip the straps into the spot left open and top stitch across the seam I had made in step 4.  Still experimenting.


The house I grew up in sold to a young family 20 some years ago.  They filled in the pool, and daily swimming is no longer part of my life, but we do go on vacation a few times a year, and I relish early morning swims, when the water is like glass, and no one else is around.  Making a ton of swim wear to wear a few times a year, does not make sense, so when I read about Phee’s Nylon Spandex Tricot being useful for swimwear, It got my wheels turning.

This is my new favorite.  It is a dream to work with and a dream to wear.  It wicks, and is comfortable to wear in our super hot summers.  My plan is to make several bra/swim tops, and swim shorts/bottoms that could be worn as either depending on what is needed.  We go to the beach and sit by the pool on vacations, and swim fabric gets really swampy.  I am hopeful that this will be more comfortable sitting by the pool.  My 61 year old self  will feel 16 again with a whole capsule wardrobe of garments that can be worn year round, and to swim in!  Planning some tidal waves to wear as swim bottoms/slip shorts in this fabric.

Those who want more support or coverage may want to add a layer of power net or tech sheen.

The Escapade makes a great summer dress!  I love the swing of the skirt of the Taylor, not to mention the pockets, and mashed that skirt to the Escapade here.



I am happy for the colors and comfort of the wicking fabric in patterns that are comfortable, fun and practical.  I made a dress from regular tricot and lined the bust with circular knit from Phee.  I added a few inches to the center front and back of the skirt and pleated the front and back.   It is the most comfortable night gown I own.


Below are the Tidal Waves and  my first reversible Escapade made from swimwear scraps a few summers back. BC671D69-B0E2-4D21-9C4A-33C1677269F2

This post is filled with affiliate links for favorite patterns and fabrics.  Thank you for using them and supporting the community❤️

Ruffle Hems

Oh so many years ago, my preschool daughter would not wear a turtle neck at all.  I get it, they are not my favorite either.  It was the early 90’s,  all I could find retail with long sleeves was a turtleneck, I took matters in my own hands.

I bought those turtle necks and cut the neck band down to one inch.  Then stretched while sewing a tight zig zag over the edge.  They ended up with a nice ruffle on the neckband, which we affectionately called “rufflenecks”.  She loved them, I was happy she was warm.  Now, she prefers to go sleeveless, but she has her own daughter and is old enough to figure her sleeve issues on her own. I love sewing for my grand baby!

In a recent pattern test, I made a couple muslins from some rib knit fabric scraps.  Soft, stretchy, and perfect for getting over a baby noggin.  Mid sew, I was taken back further in my memory to the 70’s and a cropped tank that was my favorite.  It had a ruffled hem, and I was the boss of everything when I wore it, or at least I thought.

I sewed the seams and bands with this stitch.  Visit my post Adding bands to tiny armcyes for tips on that part.

The rib I had was kind of thin, so I opted to serge the edge, and then turn it and hem with a shell stitch on my Bernina.

1 I chose this stitch with the widest width, and shortened the stitch.

2.  I tightened the tension to a 9 out of 10, and

3 rolled the fabric twice and hemmed.  It is easy to roll over a serged edge.

If this stitch looks familiar,  it is the mirror image of the blind stitch that I used in this post.

The pattern I used for this little yellow confection is a the Sara tank from 5 out of 4 patterns, this post contains affiliate links,  they cost you nothing to use, and encourage me to write more posts like this.  I hope you find this useful.

Want to see more?  Follow me on facebook 

Happy Sewing!  Joan

Adding bands to tiny armscyes

I have a new grand baby.   I am smitten.  I want to make her all the things.  She has a ton of 3-6 month size clothing that were received as gifts, so I jumped on the opportunity to test a new tank pattern in her next size!  I learned a bit about sewing small that I would like to share.  There are several patterns here and several different kinds of fabrics.  It was a good learning experiment.

On this armscye I zig zag basted the band to the body of the top, on the edge, then serged and top stitched.  On later garments, I used the stretch stitch on my machine, and it worked much better.  Serging stretches out this rib knit.  I hope it recovers in the laundry!

Those armscyes are tiny.  With regular arm bands that measure about 8 inches, that is a less than a3 inch diameter.   It will be much easier to get round them with a sewing machine.  Experiment on scraps to find the best stretch stitch that works with your fabric.  I ended up happy with this one, which may be called an overcast stitch.


It looks like a straight stitch from the outside, but those jags off to the right will add to the stretch and contain any seam allowance neatly.806415E0-783B-4A7A-8060-F80BFE698AB1

  1.  After sewing shoulder seams, top stitch them with the seam allowance towards the back.  It is my secret message to myself and parents, so we know which is the front and back of the garment.  It is often hard to tell and tags on a baby are not a place I want to go.D73538B4-2E41-4756-931D-E5FD682DFC02

2.  Figure the center of the armscye  location.  Hold the ends together, and walk them both to the fold.  Mark the center.  On a traditional tank, this could be really close to the shoulder seam.  On the example here, which is a racer back.  It is not at or even near the shoulder seam, but about an inch back.  Match up the center points, and sew a partial seam.  Start the partial seam about an inch to an inch and a half back from the center point.  Sew across the center point and about an inch to an inch and a half past that.  no need to stretch the band here, or maybe stretch slightly.  This will avoid that shoulder bubble that sometimes happens with tank tops. If you are using this technique for an adult size, you can make this partial seam longer, two inches on either side of the top of the shoulder will work fine.

Neckband sewn in the round, shoulder band partially attached.

3.  Then take those band ends, match them up right sides together (without twisting) and sew a seam across the ends (right sides together) to make the partially attached band into a loop.  I prefer to sew this with a machine, so that the seam can be opened to reduce bulk.  On this example I was using a performance knit for the bands, and my serger handled it much better.  The performance knit did not conform to the round shape as nicely as a cotton would.

4.  Sew the side seam of your garment.   I am happy to use a serger, but a regular machine stretch stitch will work here too.

5.  I like to sew one side seam then serge around the hem before sewing the next side seam.  makes the beginning and end of the serged edge less visible.

Yellow head pin holds body seam allowance to the back. Button headed pin holds band seam allowance to the front. actual seam is matched.

6.  Pin the folded band to the right side of the garment and finish sewing the armscye.  If both body and band seams are serged, move the seam allowances one way on the band, and the other on the garment.  I like the garment seams pointing back to follow the shoulder seam.  Since we did not stretch the band much on the top of the shoulder, take care to stretch without puckering round the rest of the circle.  Start your seam just a little before the last one ended, and overlap about a half inch before they meet up again.

Fuly sewn circle.


I serged one of the test garments afterwards, and that really stretched out the fabric.  It could bounce back after a trip to the laundry.  On an adult sized garment, serging the armscye might be a good idea. Can you tell which garment was stretched out with serging?

7.  Lastly top stitch the seam allowance to the body of the tank or tee.  It will help make that seam lay flat, and create less chafing on a little baby. I used my Bernina#20 foot here,  perhaps you have a foot with a guide?



I sewed a fun hem on one of the rib knit versions, and will try to write a post on that one later.  It is a favorite hemming technique with stretch. If you are interested in learning how to make a blind hem on the machine, check out this post.96DC9513-C715-48F6-818B-822E29FFE911

I used multiple patterns to experiment with this process.  And several fabrics, which is your favorite?

Affiliate links for favorite patterns that could employ this technique are below, if you are interested in supporting the cause, at no cost to you. I appreciate it!

Sara everyday tank and dress

Mandy fitted tank

Kids Taylor racerback

Adult Taylor racerback

Virginia tank



Happy sewing! Joan



Easy reversible bra/swim top hack

As part of this summer’s quest for a swim top/bra I agreed to test the re-release of the Agility  by 5 out of 4. I am pleased they are including more sizes in their pattern options.


This is advertised as a tank and dress, and it makes a great racer back bra too.  Loving the Taylor dress that calls for a racer back bra for those of us who prefer to keep our straps under wraps.  There is a strapped version and a T-back version.  I made the strapped version.

I had a small piece of this mystery knit that worked nicely with some  Nylon Spandex I bought to make swim tops to serve double duty as a comfortable bra.  Wicking fabric is really lovely to wear when the mercury rises.

To make this reversible was a super simple process.  I added 1/2 inch to the bottom of front and back pieces. Then layered the pieces in this order to sew the side seams:

  • print back right side up
  • print front right side down
  • solid front right side up
  • solid back right side down.  ACDC46D0-76B8-4D3C-A81B-7A6ECC0010F4

This was a great way to enclose those side seams, but created a little extra bulk when stitching the elastic in a later step.  Next time, I will sew them separately then press open before stay stitching the edges.

Zig zag basting on the edge  makes for a great stay stitching that stretches, and saves time ripping later.  The open toed embroidery foot, or #20 on a Bernina works wonders here.  I zigged and zagged my way all around the edges.


I sewed my straps to one side of the top, then wrapped them around like this. Tip – attach the same fabric on the first sew, so that when you wrap around, you can see where the binding needs to be sewn on the contrast side.  If your bobbin threads are a little wonky, be sure they match the other side.  I left the back of the binding un stitched from side seam to side seam, so I could attach the straps later.


I pinned my straps in place – safety pins are best here, as getting this off is an interesting challenge with straight pins.  Once I had the fit just right, I stitched the straps down like this.


Then I clipped off the ends close to stitching, folded them down and wrapped the binding where it needed to go to match the rest of the bands, and top stitched.  Brought the straps back up and stitched across the upper edge of the binding from side seam to side seam just across the back.  E6E18EA7-43D2-43BB-8C7F-89E3EBA75EAF


Otherwise, I followed Jessica’s excellent tutorial, then when it came time to flip the elastic to the back side and top stitch, I added a twist.

I serged the ring of elastic to the raw edge of the pink side.  Instead of flipping this to the wrong side and top stitching like this,


I turned it the other direction, then again to look like this, and top stitched.  This is best for lighter weight fabrics, as there is an extra 1/2 inch double folded at the upper edge of the elastic.  Working on another way to encase the elastic at the bottom edge with less bulk.  more on that in another post!


As long as your strap top stitching passes muster, this could be worn either way!

The blue print is likely to show through when it gets wet, so that will be my swim side.  I might line the next one with power mesh or techsheen.

This post contains affiliate links, they cost you no more to use them, and help me on my sewing journey.

Happy Sewing!  Joan



Adding pockets

I recently tested the Sheila top  and dress from 5out of 4 patterns.  It is part of their basics line, and has very detailed instructions.  A well drafted T shirt dress is a great layering piece, easy to accessorize.

One thing.  I need pockets.  Life hands you keys or a wallet, or something else that needs a spot to be.  Purses are great, but I like to travel light. I sew pockets in everything.  This is my new favorite method.

I drafted my own pocket here, but if you have Taylor, that pocket will work just fine.

  1.  Cut 4 pockets. Two sets of two mirrored pieces.

2.  On the wrong side of your dress front, mark where you would like the top of your pocket opening.  I made this one about 8 inches from the armcye.  I think that ended up just a tad high.  Somewhere between 9 to 10 inches would be more comfortable.  Make your top mark or notch at this point, and the next mark will be 5.5 inches below that.

3.  Align one pocket so that the top of the pocket is one inch above that start mark with the right side of the pocket facing the right side of the dress front.

4.  Stitch from mark to mark, being sure to secure your stitches at each mark with 3-4 back stitches.

5.  Clip into the seam allowance just to the end of the stitches.


The top and bottom of the stitching is marked with a notch.

6.  Open out that pocket and under stitch.  Understitching helps to roll the pocket to the back so it looks tidy in the next step.

7.  Fold the pocket and seam allowances to the right, and stitch parallel to the seam line 1/4 inch away, catching the pocket and seam allowances in your seam. Start and stop your seam parallel to the first seam made in step 4.   The pins mark the stop and start spots below.


Pocket seam opened and understitched on pocket side, with seam allowances included. Stitching is 1/4 from the seam.

8.  Fold the pocket back to the wrong side of the dress front.  Pull the seam allowances out at the top and bottom of your pocket opening.  You will have a sweet 5.5 inch indentation in the side of your dress front that looks like the photo below.  This is your pocket opening!



9.  Top stitch that indentation starting at the edge of the fabric sew in about 1/2 inch, and turn, so you are stitching about 1/4 inch from the 5.5 inch opening of the pocket, then turn again and stitch off the edge.  Your seam will look like this [.


Top stitching on the pocket opening.

10.  Next align the second pocket with the first.


Second pocket placed on top of the previously sewn pocket.

10.  Stitch the edges of the two pockets together around the bottom around the side and over to the top.


Serged edges of pocket ready to be top stitched.

11.  Pin or use wonder tape to adhere the pocket to the front of the dress and top stitch around the edge of the pocket where the serging is in the above photo. Use a stretch stitch, consider a double row of stitches!


The open toe embroidery foot works great for maintaining an even edge.

12.  Baste along the side seam, so that the edges of the top and bottom of the pocket are secured, and the opening is still open.

13.  Make the other pocket.  Tip:  lay your dress flat to be sure pockets are even and symmetrical before top stitching the second one.


Finished pocket secured into side seam and front of garment.

14.  When you are ready, stitch your side seams as you normally would, making sure to sew right up to the opening without closing it.

Enjoy wearing your garment with stitched down pockets.  Want to continue sewing fancy?  Try out a blind hem.

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