A quick sew gone slow

It was late spring this year when I saw Juebejue’s fantastic linen coat – made in a pattern I’d already sewn and loved, no less. I warned her immediately that I was going to copy her, and pulled out my copy of Vogue 8926 and some super thick linen a few weeks later.

I was ready for a quick and satisfying sew, especially since I’d already adjusted the fit. The only changes I made were adding length to the body and sleeves, and skipping the ties.


It was completely finished and I was mostly in love with it when I saw some things I could not un-see:

  1. The beautiful collar had a tendency to stretch where it folded over (my first version has developed the same problem over time, probably because the recommended fabrics have a lot more body than linen), and it rolled in a different spot every time I tried it on
  2. The back collar was collapsing
  3. The increase in length meant the facings had more freedom to flap open

So, I went back in under the collar and made some ad-hoc hand-stitched fixes.

I hand-stitched a roll line in using rayon seam tape:

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 linen coat - adding a roll line

I added a weird little collar stand in the back, pad-stitched from the inside before I closed the facings up and reinforced by quilt batting.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 linen coat - adding a collar stand

And finally, I hem-stitched the bound facing edges to the body of the jacket. The linen was loose and thick enough the stitches do not show.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 - bias-bound facing

I love it so much more now that is has a bit of structure, and it’s been surprisingly useful during the summer. It’s proved a perfect travel piece, too, especially on a plane trip where I used it as a blanket.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926 linen coat back

I’ve thought about adding some kind of closure to the front, or perhaps a belt. There’s a weird little moment where the roll line ends but the coat still wants to flip open.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8926, altered into a linen coat

But for all my last-minute tailoring, it is ultimately meant to be a loose, easy coat and I’ll leave it as is for now.

I’ve got a nice little backlog of projects from this summer and spring, finally photographed… so let’s just say I’m continuing my tradition of blogging along with the Australian seasons!


Eating my words / a new crop top

Hey, everybody! I ended up finishing my skirt and enjoyed THE CRAP out of myself at the wedding, which was held at a ranch in Mendocino County. In addition to attending the wedding, we stayed on the ranch for four days, doing everything from swimming, dancing, hefting around benches for the ceremony, running around the nearby small town, connecting with old friends and making some new ones. The wedding itself was a no-photography sort of affair, so I’ll try and get share pics of the finished skirt soon.


But let’s back up a bit, shall we, and take a look at a slightly older project?

A couple of weeks ago, I was completely and utterly fooled by a Burdastyle pattern. I take a foolish amount of pride in being adept at avoiding patterns that are only a couple of alterations away from my bodice sloper or patterns I already own. Not this time! A not-very-critical look reveals that this pattern is simply a dartless block with a yoke and horizontal seam lines.


Well, I do consistently lose my restraint when there’s a yoke in play. And after I finished softly berating myself and turned my attention to basting my garment for fitting, I noticed that the yoke had truly beautiful proportions. $5.99 for a gorgeous yoke shape doesn’t seem so terrible!

crabandbee.com | Seamed Crop Top 05/2014 #123

I did choose to baste-fit instead of making a muslin. I’ll do this when I’m pretty sure a pattern won’t have more than minor fit tweaks like adjusting the shoulder seam or taking in the sides. I’ve found that Burdastyle patterns are pretty good on my top half. Before baste-fitting, I added my usual 1/2″ square shoulder adjustment to the back only, and graded to one size smaller through the bust while keeping the shoulders and waist a larger size. I left 1″ of shoulder seam allowance in addition to my square shoulder adjustment, but I didn’t need it.

crabandbee.com | Seamed Crop Top 05/2014 #123

After fitting, I took additional ease from the bust – maybe 1.5″ total – grading to nothing at the hem and scooped the armholes.

I also skipped the shoulder wings and bound the armholes with bias binding I made. I love how they look on others, but they simply extend my already square and broad shoulders.

crabandbee.com | Seamed Crop Top 05/2014 #123

I used flat piping around the yoke only, skipping it on the tank pieces. The seam lines on the silver fabric stand on their own, you know?

This was mostly a stash project. I bought two yards of silver coated linen from Mood a few years ago for this dress and received something like four yards. Pretty sure it has some sneaky polyester in it. The yoke is the dull side of the fabric. I did buy some accent fabric for the flat piping.

crabandbee.com | Seamed Crop Top 05/2014 #123

I’ve worn this over top of light sweaters and my denim shift dress, and as a tank top over jeans or this (unblogged) black Gabriola below. I love it! I was a bit pissy when my husband likened it to a Star Trek alien costume, mid-construction – I think I was feeling insecure about all the shine and seam lines could look like an insect thorax. He got to roll his eyes when I showed him the final piece and proudly proclaimed that I did in fact feel like I was a TNG character, but in a good way.

crabandbee.com | Seamed Crop Top 05/2014 #123

In spite of slapping my forehead when I realized how simple this pattern was, I really like it and will probably use it again. And look what Sax Silverain did with print-mixing on hers!

crabandbee.com | Seamed Crop Top 05/2014 #123

Triangulated scrap dress

How’s your Scraptember going? Mine got a whole lot better this weekend when my project finally started to look like a garment. I got so excited that I finished it sooner than I’d expected. Sometimes I get a little antsy when I’m doing piece work – it can take a little longer than normal projects to look promising.

crabandbee.com | scraptember scrap dress

Anyway, it’s done. And surprise! It’s made from grey and blue linen scraps!

I was planning on making a longer, button-less version of what I made for my two-piece set, but I kept returning to the idea of adding a gathered-rectangle skirt to the bottom so I could wear it as a tunic. I had some actual yardage of one of my scrap fabrics, the silver coated linen, and I went for it. (I probably would have picked one of the other fabrics if I’d had the choice as the linen is pretty heavy, but they were down to their scrappiest scraps.)


Nothing too fancy to note in terms of construction; I stitched the scraps together and serged. I liked the idea of a triangle in the middle and placed it so it would end right on the finished neckline. I used my dartless tank pattern that I drafted off my sloper and pieced around the triangles until I had enough fabric. The neckline and arms are finished by – what else – more scraps.

crabandbee.com | scraptember scrap dress

I was thinking about mimicking the triangle on the back but went for strips instead as it fit the scraps I had better.

crabandbee.com | scraptember scrap dress

I was a little concerned that the transition from the solids to the strips would be jarring, but I really like it.

Just for funsies, here are the projects that my scraps came from:

In other scrap news, I took a spin through my scraps during this project and decided to remove the pieces I didn’t like. It’s a complete no-brainer, but the artist (hoarder) in me always thinks I’m going to strike on some fantastic scrappy color combo even with colors and prints I don’t like.With a few years into scrap hoarding under my belt, I’m noticing it doesn’t really happen. Another part of me – a hoarder without artistic ambitions – has a hard time throwing anything vaguely useful into a landfill. I’ll be researching textile recycling options for those undesirable scraps… aided by triangle power!

crabandbee.com | scraptember scrap dress

Isabecca tunic

Didn’t expect to see me back so soon, didja?


As I mentioned in this post, I re-visited the Rebecca Taylor pattern (Vogue 1367) to emulate an Isabel Marant tunic I’ve had a crush on for a few years. A super-stylish former coworker of mine has the shirt version, so I got to admire it in person a number of times. It only fanned the flames of inspiration!


I adapted the pattern in the following ways:

  • Added 8″ to the front and back pieces below the yoke
  • Made separate pieces for the curved hems, cutting two of each to create hem facings
  • Split the front yoke into two pieces
  • Added flat-piping to the front and back yoke seams to emulate the original’s raglan sleeves
  • Added trim down the front


The trim and flat-piping I used were actually precisely-cut pieces of printed quilting cotton. I searched high and low for the right trim, ribbon, whatever, with no luck! Most of my wardrobe is quite unembellished, and it’s highly possible I didn’t know where to look.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 1367 modified tunic


Even though the design is printed and not woven like I was hoping, I love the final effect.


The main fabric was a serendipitous acquisition. I like the cruise the thrift store for fabric, and came across a lovely lightweight linen! It was an unpalatable-to-me brownish-creamish color, but at $5ish for over 2 yards, I swooped it up. I dyed over it with a blue-ish black. Weirdly, it didn’t get much darker, but it cooled off the offending warm tones.


The curved hems are quite deep, which makes this more of a tunic than a dress. I just couldn’t force my sweaty little legs into leggings when my sister and I were taking pictures!


I was surprised by the broad back of the sleeveless version I made, but in making this version, I learned that it’s because these sleeves are very upright. (Is that the right word for it? They are angled parallel to the side seams.) They look quite voluminous in the pattern photography, but in real life they’re fairly fitted at the top with no gathering. I love a poufy sleeve and would add some gathers at the top if I made this pattern again.



I started this project shortly after my sleeveless version and finished it over a month. It’s not a complicated project, but I sewed slowly and took my time making design decisions. I tend to have plain tastes, so I can easily talk myself out of extra details or modifications. Since I was inspired by someone else’s design, however, it was fun to study and mimic the details as closely as I could.

I’d actually hoped to make this tunic during Shield Maiden March but wasn’t able to secure supplies or sort out patterns and modifications in a timely manner – basically, I had nothing I needed to make it happen! Consider this my (6-month late) submission, please.

Little linen outfit

Last year, Kelly made the Liesl & Co Everday Skirt. Since then, I’ve engaged in a monthly debate with myself – buy the pattern or try to approximate it on my own? “It’s a gathered skirt with an elastic waistband in the back – how hard could it be?” would be countered with “Do you really want to spend the time measuring out rectangles and tracing pocket facings?” The price seemed a bit high for the pattern. Finally, Katie sewed up her version and her verdict of “I was tempted to go the self-draft route for my dream skirt, but this pattern is basically it” pushed me over the edge.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted top and Liesl & Co Everyday skirt


I haven’t been sorry. There are a lot of things to like about this skirt design: the flat side panels, back elastic waistband, nice pocket placement all come to mind. I’m not even a skirt person, but I love this one. And from a logistical standpoint, I was impressed. The PDF downloads directly from a link in your email receipt, there’s a print at shop version included and the print layout is delightfully lean. This was easily my best experience with a PDF pattern to date.

I made a test skirt in my kimono fabric and decided to remove some width from the back panel. I wanted it the waistband at my natural waist, and the shortness of the back elastic I needed made the back panel very gathered and pretty heavy. It’s still more gathered than the front, so if I make this a third time, I’ll play around with shortening the front waistband to lengthen the back out. After my trial, I knew I wanted to make it in a special piece of linen and bought a straight-up new piece of fabric for the occasion.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted top and Liesl & Co Everyday skirt

I bought 1.5 yards of 60″ wide linen (the pattern suggests 1.75) but I miraculously had enough to create a cropped tank AND join Sophie’s super fun two-piece party!

crabandbee.com | self-drafted top and Liesl & Co Everyday skirt

Unlike the skirt, the top is actually self-drafted. I started working on a bodice block last winter, with beyond-generous help from Maddie, who shared her pattern-making knowledge and gently let me know that my neck couldn’t possibly be as small as I’d measured it to be, the fit expertise of my friend Casey, and Nathan, who helped me take endless rounds of measurements while I shivered convulsively in a chalked-up bathing suit. I worked on it in spurts and finally translated it onto tagboard last month. From there, I consulted Helen Joseph-Armstrong’s Patternmaking for Fashion Design to make a flared dartless tank and borrowed the Wiksten tank neckline. I wanted it to be boxy to emphasize the fitted skirt waist.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted top and Liesl & Co Everyday skirt

Victory! It fits!

Someday soon, I’ll share how weird my block looks. My back and front bodice pieces don’t even look like they belong together… unlike this top and skirt!

crabandbee.com | self-drafted top and Liesl & Co Everyday skirt

I’ll be back in a few days on the Sewcialist blog as I’m helping out with the September challenge. Get ready to bust through your scraps during SCRAPTEMBER (yep, I had to go there). Until then, I leave you with this:

crabandbee.com | self-drafted top and Liesl & Co Everyday skirt

Summer pants in winter

Hey gang! After including my python pants in my hits of 2013 (and realizing that I have one pair of pants that works for cold weather), I decided to take a third* stab at at the same pattern (Burda 7250).

*Secret pants confession: I sewed up a pair in the summer, in the magenta twill. They were somewhat disastrous. I’d left a note to myself to take out a WHOPPING 1.75″ out of the back rise. I threw caution to the wind, made a new short-in-the-rump pattern piece, cut out the fabric, and lo and behold, the back rise was exactly 1.75″ too short. I did a tiny seam allowance in the back, shortened the tops of the side seams, and changed the waistband, but they’re kind of wedgie pants. In fact, the rear seam blew out when I first wore them to work and all that was separating me from showing my scrunds was my serged seam allowance. I’ve reinforced the seam and it’s relaxed a enough to be wearable but I’ve never been able to get that excited to take pictures in them.

Now that’s out of the way.

I added the 1.75″ back into the pattern and drafted new slanted pockets. I wanted to try my adjustments out with a wearable muslin, so I used my bountiful olive drab linen (ironically resulting in summer-weight pants).

crabandbee.com | Burda 7250

In addition to the slant pockets in the front, I tried out welt back pockets. I used Poppykettle’s excellent tutorial for most of it, but used one piece of fabric for the welt and pocket bag, per this video, since my fabric was thin enough.

For learning a new skill, it went remarkably well! Although (as you might have seen on Instagram) this happened:

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 2.12.50 PM

I chalk this one up to sewing when I was coming down with the flu before Christmas. I was so excited to try them on and didn’t notice the sad/funny asymmetry until I turned around in the mirror! I had to remake the entire leg after I was able to get out of bed.

crabandbee.com | Burda 7250

So the welts match now, although I think the pocket bags extend a little too far towards center back and create some awkward (is there any other kind?) excess crack fabric. They also gape a bit in spite of interfacing the opening, so I might sew them shut. For me, back pockets are all about breaking up an expanse of rump.

Another big improvement I made was re-adding 1/2″ of ease to the front pieces above the knee after reading Cation Designs’ post on pants construction. Wow. Now I don’t feel like I have to walk straight-legged up the stairs. I also removed the cuffs, added length and hand-sewed the hems.

crabandbee.com | Burda 7250

They’re too drafty for the winter, but I can see myself wearing them like crazy for spring, summer and early fall! I love the slouchy style. I finished them a few days before New Year’s and immediately cut out another pair in this beautiful, second-hand dark stretch denim I found at SCRAP in Portland. (5+ yards for $11!) They are thick enough for winter, and I’ll be sharing them soon!


Fall has arrived abruptly and violently in Seattle – I could have sworn we went from high 70s (F) to low 50s in a matter of two days. The torrential rain prevented me from both documenting and wearing the light autumnal jacket I finished last week. Until today!

Perhaps due to the change in weather, Nathan and I both came down with persistent low-grade fevers a couple of days ago. (Coincidentally, that’s when the weather cleared up.) After two days of being bed- and house-bound, we took a field trip to the post office and I kind of tricked Nathan into a 5-minute photo shoot. Then I went straight back to bed.

crabandbee.com | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

Looking a little bit vacant, no?

crabandbee.com | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

As you might have guessed, I used the Sewaholic Minoru pattern. I made a size smaller than my previous version, shortened it by 8″ and took the side seams at the bottom hem in by a half-inch to reduce some of the flare. I think the fit is even better than my other Minoru, and I can still wear a loose-fitting sweater underneath.

crabandbee.com | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

The only other real change was forgoing the elastic wristbands for flat ones and shortening the sleeves a tiny bit. They’re still pretty long!

crabandbee.com | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

It was really fun to re-visit this pattern and see how much more comfortable I am with a lot of the techniques this pattern requires. Top-stitching, lining and outerwear in general were mysterious to me when I attempted my first Minoru. This one felt like a victory lap.

crabandbee.com | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

Fabric-wise, this was a pretty thrifty jacket! I used a tiny portion of the olive linen I got at the stash shop, almost all of the rest of the fabric scraps from Nathan’s birthday shirt, and a little bit of silk twill I had in my stash to line the sleeves. Man, slippery sleeve linings are so luxurious. You can practically hear my sleeves squeaking as I try to put my arms in my other Minoru (fully lined in cotton) – not so with this one!

crabandbee.com | shortened Sewaholic Minoru

My goal with this project was to create a fall/spring jacket that was the right length for the higher waistlines of dresses and skirts. (If you haven’t already, check out Andrea’s short jacket – she created it to extend the wear of her warmer-weather dresses.) I could easily see myself creating a third version in a slightly longer length that would work well with pants.  I think taking 6″ instead of 8″ off the hem would do it.

So! That’s my first piece of fall sewing to hit this blog. It remains to be seen if it will see more wear this year; so much depends on the weather. Maybe I should start my winter coat project now? If you’ve got some good tips on timing seasonal sewing, please share!