Sophie top

D02A352E-B4BC-49EA-A55E-DAEF7755E44CI had the pleasure of testing 5oo4’s first woven top.  Jessica did not miss a beat with this one.  A lightweight woven sleeveless top is my go to all summer long.  The placket on this one is worth working on.  It elevates a simple tank into something special.

– Women’s sizes XXS – 5XL
– Bust darts
– Collar or bias binding for neckline
– Sleeveless binding, Ruffle, or Half-circle Short Sleeves
– Shirt can be hemmed or have a split hem
– Dresses can be hemmed or have a ruffle
– Shirt, Knee-length dress, or maxi dress
– Pockets!
– Interactive tutorial that links to Sewing School videos

With a v neck, and a fun angled placket, you can end up with a diamond shaped box.  My first placket was not as tidy as I would have liked.  So I put some thought into it.  The pattern calls for a drapey woven, which would probably comply better to the bit of curve required here.  I used light weight quilting cotton and plan a lawn for the next one.

I extended the V shape an additional inch straight down and used a wide bias tape, instead of the straight of grain placket pattern piece. Say that three times quickly!  I marked the width of my bias tape (just under an inch) centered in the middle, 1/2 inch below the spot where the split ended. Made my own dots, so it was clear to me where to stop stitching. 13698B89-EAB2-48B0-BBA4-0DBEEFEBFA72

I trimmed one edge of the bias tape so there was only 3/8 inch remaining  from the outside fold.  Then stitched it to the back of the vee portion of the neckline.   Clipped diagonally to the dots, as the pattern instructs.

Wrapped the bias around to the front and top stitched.  The bias allows for the placket to follow the curve nicely.  Ending up with less of an angle where the two plackets end helped the box be more square. Don’t get me wrong, the diamond shaped placket bottom looks really cool.

For nursing access, one could extend the placket a little further and add buttons or snaps.


I used me-made wide bias tape for the neckline, and cut the remainder in half lengthwise for the armcyes.  I really should have looked at what I had on supply first, but I was so happy to be sewing something other than masks, I just went for it.  With the placket opening on the front, I wanted a split hem to keep in the theme.  Jessica was a real champ to add it to the pattern, even though it meant writing more instructions.  That was my first hack.  I am holding the vents closed in the photo so fit and ease could be ascertained.  Then, I took that hack a step further….

I also recently tested a placketed shirt for my grand baby from another designer.  It takes the split hem to another level by facing the opening and reinforcing it with a narrow strip of bias.  You will want to get the pattern for best instructions, but it had me looking at my father’s old polo shirts to see how this vent facing thing worked!  Glad I saved those for upcycling.  I used one of these shirts to make one for my grand baby.  So interesting to see the different vent options inside and out.


I had a little bit of this bias tape leftover, and used Tie Dye Diva’s tutorial from Cee’s Tee to reinforce the hem vent.

The gist of it is like this.  I had to read through the instructions many many times.  First you hem the top.  Then cut the bias tape a couple inches longer than twice the opening.  With one end of the bias tape tucked under stitch it up the side of the opening to the point where the seam begins.    Leaving the excess at the top of the opening.  Stitch the other side.

By some kind of TDD magic there is enough at the top to create this fold.  It is taller than the opening, but we will address that later with a bar tack after top stitching the edges.


Below is the photo with the edges of the vent facing top stitched down, and getting ready to bar tack that top area closed, down to the opening.



It really adds a fun pop of color and speaks to the neckline opening.


Totally making this top again.  I find woven fabric much cooler than knits when it gets really warm.  Planning to stitch my color popping vent on the outside of the split next time!

This post contains affiliate links which at no cost to you helps me with a tiny bit of commission from the sale of the pattern.  I appreciate it very much, as that helps me to buy more patterns.   

Wishing you good health and happy sewing!  – Joan

More masks – curved seam

7AC6F7DD-4F63-452F-BE64-F95551517806March 6, 2019, at the onset of the Covid19 crisis,  we were warned against hugging, shaking hands, and were advised to wear masks.  This was in yoga class, by a student with medical training.  Lucky me, I made masks the year before in hopes of seeing my first grand baby before we had all of our immunizations.  This post is purely a “how to” using the mask pattern from Craft Passion. That site has been updated to include a version with a pocket, so the end user can add additional filtration if desired. Do your own research about the efficiency of mask wearing.  This is all about the making.

  1.  Print the pattern, choose your size.  I traced off both the outer mask and the liner on card stock so I could trace off multiples. Note that seam allowances and casings need to be added to the pattern. I made my liner just a little smaller.            A29E5C9E-877A-490D-9215-066CA25EC708 I like the seam to roll to the lining side.
  2. CF90CEFE-E65F-4E6B-B172-436441C90E8C
  3. Cut your fabric.  With careful folding of your prewashed and dried fabric, the both the outer and liner pieces tessellated nicely.  Using two different fabrics and the chemicals used in fabric processing, prewashing is a must do item!  I traced with a coordinating sharpie.  Tip, fold your fabric right sides together, so you can pick up a pair and sew, without the fiddling of placing each set right sides together one pair at a time just before sewing.
  4. I like to cut in sets of 4 or 8.  Choose 2-3 coordinating fabrics, mix and match. Start sewing from the bottom of the mask.    With the pointy end of the mask towards you, stitch the curved edge of your mask with 1/4 inch seam allowance.  That pointy end is skinny and has a better chance of getting stuck in the hole that your needle goes into.  Chain piece to save time and thread. I highly recommend chain piecing in manageable batches for each following step.
  5. Separate the mask lining from the mask outer pairs. It is easier to do this now, rather than later when it is hard to distinguish between the two.
  6. Top stitch that center seam.  With the seam allowance facing left, and your needle in the left position, top stitch the curved seam of your mask and lining.  If you have a blind hem foot, the guide helps aid in straighter stitches.  Carefully ease your pieces away from each other to avoid puckering.  Tip:  start at the bottom of the mask like you did above. Those pointy pieces still like to find their way down to the bobbin.  Do this step on both the inner and outer pieces.
  7. Put the outer masks aside and gather up the lining pieces.  Fold the side of the mask over 1/4 inch and 1/4 inch again to create a narrow hem. Stitch this down as shown.  Repeat on the other side. C51D208F-4359-4ACE-988E-15BF1974D899
  8. With right sides facing, place one lining on top of one outer.  Match up center seams.  The top stitching from step 5 will be offset with one pointing right and the other pointing left.  Stitch with 1/4 inch seam allowance across the bottom (mostly straight) edge of the mask.  Start on the longer piece, and stitch all the way across. The stitching on the single layer may seem redundant, but it allows for a firmer edge to the casing.
  9. Clip into the seam allowance up to 1/8 inch from your seam either side of center.  This will prevent puckering later. E5939C34-F076-4AAF-8F18-C348E093606F
  10. Under stitch the bottom seam.  With the mask opened up and seam allowance facing toward the lining, stitch 1/8 inch away from the seam you just made on the lining.  All the way across.  This helps the lining roll to the back of the mask, reinforces the edge, including the single layers that will later become the casings.
  11. Fold the mask right sides together and make a 1/4 inch seam across the top of your mask.  Just like the bottom seam there will be about an inch and a half of single layer mask before you get to the lining.  Stitching here reinforces the casing opening. Carefully stitch across the upper curve, matching the center seams, then down the other side.  You just created a filter pocket!
  12. Flip your mask right sides out, press out the edges.  Use an iron if you wish.  Lining side up, fold the seam allowance over and top stitch as if to hem, continue top stitching across the entire mask edge.
  13. Top stitch the top edge, taking care around the nose curve to prevent puckering.  If you would care to add a  second line of stitching to create a pocket, here is where you can add that.
  14. Casings:  I chose to make my 9 inch long elastics into loops prior to slipping them  them into casings.  C373625E-EBBE-4353-87E2-6FAD15DA8BACLots of things can be used as a drawstring as well.  Shoe strings, strips of tee shirt, longer elastic, twill tape, bias strips.  Overlap the elastic ends 1/2 inch and stitch back and forth two times.  This process can also be chain pieced.  C424086D-289F-4999-921B-0E05E9AC7BA4
  15. With or without the elastic enclosed. Fold the casing to the wrong side twice, so it snugs up to the hem in the side of the lining.  Pull the elastic out of the way, and sew across the edge of the casing.  Secure the ends of the stitch.
  16. If you are not using elastic, make your casings, and thread the drawstring through.  I have made two drawstrings that go through the casing at 30 inches long. or one at 45 inches long that goes through both casings.

Edit:  I hope to have time to add photos of some of the steps above.  They should be self explanatory.  Off to make pleated masks now.  I helps with the tedium to switch back and forth.

Wash your mask before each use.  Stay safe.  Joan

Calder pants

C9E65E9E-D597-44E9-95FD-E474D856CCB8I live in shorts 3/4 of the year or more, so when I saw the latest pattern by Cashmerette, I did not have to think twice.   Woven shorts with a flat front, pockets, and elastic waist? Yes please!  This is a perfect pairing with one of the many Spruce tops I love and live in.

Was happy to get this pair from a 2 yard duck cloth remnant.  A little bit of leftover may net me a matching mask or two.  I may or may not have completely followed directions.  I skipped the pocket facing, as my fabric is pretty firm. I did not bother looking for a lighter fabric for them. Would be worth it in a heavy fabric or fancy pants, though.  The pockets laid out nicely on a folded piece, and just about the time I was going to cut the fold, I thought better of it.  Left them whole.
A bit like sewing on raglan sleeves.  Front, pocket, back, pocket, front.  This fabric was a little fray prone, so flat felled seams with a bit of a wobble stitch to allow for bias stretch where it is needed in the critical spots.

Inseam got the flat fell treatment too.
Stitched, then under stitched the pockets.

Then french seamed the side seams into the pocket.  After I sewed the first seam, I trimmed off the stray bits then clipped into the section where my needle is paused in the first photo.

Sorry I did not grab a photo of the right thigh patch pocket (phone sized), or my waistband treatment.  Will save that for another post.  I did make 2 channels for the elastic and I fused the waistband.  Not one for tucking in my shirt, I might rethink that.  Love the wide waistband!

Relatively quick, and very satisfying sew.

The End.


Masks with assorted pleat styles

0720345B-49DF-40A1-81D2-FD48C5F54C76Scrambling to make masks and keep up with requests I did a little a little pleat experiment.    Found some 9×13 inch scraps of a lightweight cotton, whipped up four quick masks Deaconess style, but made a box pleat instead of pleats that all went the same direction.  This mask did not have a pocket for additional filtration.  Since I do not know who my end user will be, I like to leave the pocket option open.

For the second iteration, I used two different fabric strips that were 7.5 inches wide.  Hemmed one long edge of each piece, stitched the two strips together along the other long edge right sides together.  Under stitch the seam with the seam allowance towards the lining, 1/8 inch away from the seam on the lining side.  If you are using 42 inch wide fabric, this method will net you 4 masks from two 7.5 inch tall strips that are the width of the fabric.  If you are not concerned with having a right and wrong side of the mask.  (pollen season yard work) then save time with one strip of fabric that is 14 inches or more by the width of the fabric.


Under stitching

Next I sub cut my strips into 9 inch wide segments.

With the segments cut, I opened the pieces and slipped in the ties (or elastic if you can get it).


Inserting 7 inch strip of elastic

If you can not find elastic, you can add ties like this.  Pin a tie into each of the lining four corners, fold the main fabric over and sew along the right and left sides.  Be sure to back stitch over the elastic or tie.  If you are sewing elastic, you will need to stitch the top portion of this seam, then stretch the elastic so that the other end of the elastic can be encased at the seam near the bottom of the mask.  Repeat for the other side.  Leave the hemmed bottom section alone for now.  This creates a pocket so that the end user can add additional filtration layers if available/desired.

I like to leave a tiny tail, so my tie does not unravel and work its way loose.
Flip your mask right side out.  It will look like this.

Your job now is to decide how to pleat.  Most commercial masks have pleats so that they are angled down, away from the wearer.  I put pins in the sides of the mask at the half and quarter marks.


Mask side with pins at the quarter marks

Start your pleating/top stitching at the top (closed) of the mask.  Make a few stitches and back stitch. Slip the first pin under as far as it will go.


First pleat.

Sew into this pleat, removing the pin just before it crosses path with the needle.


Second pleat

Follow this process of bringing the pin of the next pleat under the mask as you start the current pleat.


Last pleat

When you get to the end of the row of pleats, pivot and top stitch the lining and main mask hems together for about one inch.  Then stitch back to the side and either very close to the edge, or 1/4 inch the other side of your previous pleat top stitching, sew back up the row of pleats.  Note some machines will be happier sewing on the very edge and others may like sewing on the other side of your first set of stitches.  When you get to the top, pivot and edge stitch across the top of the mask, and top stitch the other row of pleats.


Top stitching about an inch at the corner of the hem.



Stitching back up the first row of pleats

Side 2


Second side pleat tucking under and top stitching.

Top stitch the second side mirror image to the first.  Aim to make your pleats symmetrical.  The body of your mask will be under the head of the machine.  Once you have your pleats stitched down, pivot at the hem and secure about an inch of the hem on this side.  Turn around stitch back towards the edge, pivot again, and stitch back up the second set of pleats.  Secure your stitches and admire your work!

Option 2 – Box pleat.  Depending on your user’s situation, you can make a box pleat.  I found this method to be a lot faster.  For a person who wants a mask for casual use this may be a good option.  Concerns about things being caught in the tiny pocket formed at the top of the pleat are a good reason to use the method above to make a louvered pleat.

Not worried about that, read on…

Take your freshly turned right side out mask and fold the hem to the top of the mask.  Find the center spot between the edges and the newly created fold.  Place a pin on either side.
Open up the mask, and open up the pleat so that it is spread evenly across the center pin.


In this photo, I added a pin on either side of the pleat.  Carefully sew down this side, securing that pleat. Sew down, across the bottom one inch, back to the edge, back up, across the top and repeat the pleat securing process on side two.


Box pleated

I was able to get a tighter side by making the box pleat than I was with the triple pleat.  Even with the same fabric both sides it is simple to tell the inside from the outside with the box pleat.  Different people will have different preferences.  Go forth and sew and know your work is appreciated.

Disclaimer:  I can not test this method for virus protection.  Please do your own research, prewash your fabric and stay healthy!  Happy sewing – Joan


Stained Glass Easter Eggs

CA926023-B968-4947-A2F3-017834D9F2C2For our first April art class, we are making a project based on an art form called stained glass!  Stained glass is many pieces of colored glass held together (usually by lead) to make a picture.  It is breathtakingly beautiful when the sun shines through it.  Sometimes the glass is painted.

For our project, you will need something to draw on, something to outline with and something to color with, scissors to cut out your shape, something to make a hole with and string to hang your art.  You can draw your egg (or any other) shape on card stock, a transparency page, or up-cycled paper.

Black glue or sharpie

Use either a sharpie or black glue for a 3-D effect on your transparency or paper.

1.  Draw your main shape with either a fine point or bigger black sharpie.  For a 3-D effect you can use black glue.  Black glue acts as a resist. For a fun video on this project, check out this video.


2.  Draw interior designs inside your basic shape.  We can talk about open shapes, like the letters JI&N, or closed shapes like the letters PO&D.  Which types of shapes do you think will work best?  Let it dry.  The black glue and transparency sheet should dry overnight.  There are many shapes that you can trace here.  Or have fun and freehand it.

3.  Decide which colors you want in your design.  Arrange your markers from lightest to darkest.  Start with yellow, orange, red, purple, blue and green.

4.  Start coloring with the lightest color, yellow, and color everything you want in yellow, next move to orange, and so on.  You may wish to test your marker to be sure it gives you the results you want somewhere in the margins (spaces between) your shapes.


5.  For large spaces, outline the inside of the border before filling in that space with color.  Experiment with coloring horizontally, vertically, or in circles.  Can you see a difference?

6.  After you have given your shape time to dry, cut out your shape carefully around the outside of your border.


7.  With a hole punch, put a hole in your shape in the middle of the top.


Carefully punch a hole near the top of your shape. Alternatively, you can use tape to hang your art. 

8. Slide a length of string through the hole and tie the two ends together in an overhand knot.  After you have made several shapes, try your hand and make a mobile using a clothes hanger or sticks.

9.  Clean up your space, wash your hands, and ask for help to hang your stained glass eggs, and enjoy seeing what you made.


Completed egg in front of window. Is this an optical illusion?  

Next time you can try using colored tissue paper and glue to make this project like they did here.

Happy art-making!  Love Ms.Joan