New Tops for Me, Part 1

I’ve made three new knit tops for myself this past week. I love sewing beautiful dress clothes, but, really, I live in knit tops and shorts and jeans. All the time. So I dug in my stash, downloaded a couple of pdf patterns, and started sewing.

The first top I made was Style Arc’s Ann T-Top.


It is one of their promotional patterns on etsy, and costs less than $4.00. Or, you can download it for free if you are a member. Of course, you have to print and tile the pattern, but it’s a lot faster than waiting for shipment from Australia! I found a pretty poly-lycra print jersey on my shelves (from Gorgeous Fabrics a few years ago, I think.) I rarely wear prints. I don’t know why. They catch my eye, but I almost always go for solids. But in this case, I had¬†purchased a couple of pairs of shorts from Sam’s for $9, and I needed something to wear with these bright pink ones. This print was perfect!



The print also coordinates nicely with the crepe myrtle! ūüôā

This pattern has a bit of shirring on the front at the side seams. It’s nice, although I think it would look better if I had made a smaller size. The pattern suggested using narrow elastic to gather up the front side seam allowances before stitching the side seams, but I just used gathering threads to pull up the slight gathers. I didn’t want the extra bulk of elastic, and the gathering worked just fine.


I lengthened the sleeves to elbow length, and finished the lower edge with a band instead of turning up a hem. The neckline is a nice scoop shape – not too low, not too high.


Watch for my next blog for a trick to help with knit neckbands!



Don’t Forget!

Time is quickly running out to enter for a chance to win my newest Craftsy class…

Heirloom Sewing More Classic Techniques!

You have to enter before the class goes live (and we’re talking only hours until that happens!)

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You’ll learn sooo many great techniques! If you’ve taken Craftsy classes, you know the advantages. But if you haven’t, here are some things to consider…

  1. Craftsy is the fastest growing creative community on the web! Learn, make, share and have fun as you join more than 8 million members in over 200 countries.
  2. Pursue your creative passions in online-video lessons led by the best instructors in the world.
  3. Craftsy lets you learn at your own pace, with online-video classes you can watch anytime, anywhere, forever.
  4. Learning is more fun with the family! Bring friends and loved ones together and have a blast learning new skills.
  5. Craftsy classes let you take virtual notes, so you can write things down as you go and keep all of your learning in one convenient place.
  6. You won’t miss a single, exciting detail of your class thanks to crystal-clear HD video, stunning close-ups and convenient closed captioning.
  7. Craftsy gives you the support to succeed. Use the Craftsy platform to ask questions and get answers from your classmates and instructors.
  8. Craftsy is a creative community where members inspire one another by sharing projects and encouragement.

Maybe you will be the one to win! Click here to enter, and stay tuned!

It’s Almost Time!

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Some of you may have guessed that I recently filmed a new Craftsy class! Heirloom Sewing More Classic Techniques will be launched soon. Do you want a chance to win a free class? Click here to be entered into a drawing to win – Craftsy will draw a random entry, and I’ll let the lucky winner know the day the class goes live.

Look at some of the¬†things I teach in the class…

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Straight and Curved Puffing2524 resized.jpg2261 resized.jpg2485 resized.jpg

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…and lots more!

Stay tuned for more photos and info. Be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss any updates. And remember that with a Crafsty online class, you can take it as many times as you want, whenever you want, and you can ask me and other students questions and post photos of your work! Super-sharp HD quality video and audio make it easy to see exactly what I am doing each step of the way.

Dont’ forget to sign up for that free class!

Sweet Pea

My husband hates sweet peas. These pretty little flowers smell heavenly, but the vines are aggressive. My dad, a farmer, said that a weed was just a plant that wasn’t in the right place. Well, sweet peas in iris beds are in the wrong place! Several years ago, Mark dug up¬†an entire iris bed to get at all the sweet pea roots, then re-planted the irises. Those sweet peas have not shown their pretty little faces in that bed again!

When it comes to my Sweet Pea pattern, however, it’s a different story!

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The pattern got its name because of the twisty spiral skirt, which is like the twisty spiral sweet pea vines.

The skirt gores can be made in the same or contrasting fabrics.

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Here’s another version that was in a Sew Beautiful pictorial in 2011, I think.

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It’s been one of my best-selling patterns (although people tell me it tends to run long, and if you need to shorten it, that must be done at the waist before stitching the skirt to the bodice.)

Not too long ago, S.G. sent me a photo of a dress she made from this pattern. “I used Swiss Lawn AKA Fairy Fabric. I used shaped lace between the gores because the fabric was too delicate for the serger.¬† I created the fabric for the bodice by embroidering a lace fill in white rayon all over the fabric, then adding white beads on every other intersection.¬† I cut my sleeve in a circle flounce to echo the flounces on the skirt. The little girl,¬†who turns 4 next month loved wearing it, it twirls perfectly.”

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So when I was making up samples for my Craftsy class, Heirloom Sewing Essential Techniques, I picked this pattern for the lesson on tucks, to show multiple ways to use tucks to embellish a bodice.

First, I showed how to stitch plain folded tucks on a block of fabric, then cut out your pattern piece from the tucked fabric. (I’m sorry these photos are sideways – for whatever reason, my photo editor would not save the rotated version today, and I just don’t have time to fight it!)


Next, I showed double needle pintucks, and how they could be combined with a bit of lace.

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Here are pintucks stitched close together in trios, with spaces in between just wide enough for the presser foot, where I stitched decorative stitches.

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Cross-hatched pintucks create a yoke effect.

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And finally, the bodice I used for the finished dress – bias, cross-hatched pintucks, some embroidered Swiss insertion, and curved pintucks!

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Here’s the full dress – I used Imperial broadcloth, and a tiny little Swiss trim on the sleeves and neckline.


Here is a backlit photo of the bodice


And another photo of the pintuck detail


Tucks are versatile, and sweet peas can be sweet! ūüôā

Cathedral Lace Windows

When I was preparing for my Craftsy Heirloom Sewing Essential Techniques (get it for 50% off here!) class taping, I wanted an adult garment showcasing the Cathedral Lace Windows technique. The Amber Woven Blouse pattern from Style Arc seemed too perfect to pass up!


The narrow front band looked like it would be a wonderful place to place a strip of this embellishment, and have a top that would be sophisticated and not at all frilly.

I chose ivory, black, and gold silk/cotton Radiance from my stash. (Yes, I know, I have a serious case of Radiance hoarding!) A strip of black insertion lace, some tiny cord to cover for piping, a little lightweight fusible interfacing, and I was set to go.


Like the¬†Fleur and Marley¬†tops made as samples for the class, this one is a size 10 to fit the dress form, so it’s a bit too small for me. But I love the way it turned out! I think the top would fit me perfectly in a size or two larger.

The Cathedral Lace Window strip down the center front is the highlight of the top. 1

It was made from the instructions in the class. You can get the class for only $24.99 here, and until March 13, 2016, you can be entered to win $1000 to be donated to your favorite art or craft centered charity (think Quilts of Valor, or Threads of Love, or any other 501-c3.)

In this pattern, the center front strip and front neckline reverse facing are made as a unit, then applied to the blouse front. Be sure that when you’re stitching the center strip down, it is exactly in the center. Yes, I got mine on a little catty-wampus the first time and had to take it off and stitch it again.

I think¬† that if I make this again, in my size, I would do a couple of things differently. First, I would increase the biceps¬†measurement of the sleeve a little, as I do for almost all Style Arc patterns. I would also lengthen the sleeve an inch or so, and I would finish the lower edge of the sleeve differently. The pattern allows for just 1/4 inch narrow hem. You can’t cut a deeper hem because of the curve of the lower edge, but I would either make a facing or bias binding to finish the edge. I think I would also shape the side seams a bit, or perhaps add a center back seam or back darts to shape the waistline just a little.

This is a nice pattern, and I can think of lots of ways to use color blocking and a little embellishment to make it unique!


Shark’s Teeth

Once upon a time, way back in 1990, Martha Pullen sent me a fragment of an antique petticoat and asked me to recreate the technique. Surprisingly, I had seen the technique several years before on an apron, and at that time I had examined it and figured out how it was done. So when I received that petticoat, I already knew how it was done! (Have I said before that I really enjoy the engineering part of sewing?!)

Well, I made one small pillow with this clipped-and-folded-and-stitched tuck technique, by hand, the way the original was done. And I realized that I had to find a way to do this by machine! So I did! I made garments with rows and rows and rows of these triangular tucks.

At the time, my children were very young. We lived near the original Bass Pro Shops, and sometimes, on rainy days, we would go to the store for fun. The kids could watch the fish in the huge aquarium and climb on the boats and in the tents. There were waterfalls and trees and even a stream running through the store. And there were taxidermied animals everywhere! One day, while I was in the midst of making those rows and rows and rows of white triangular tucks, we walked into Bass Pro, and there was…the Great White Shark, mouth open, with rows and rows and rows of white triangular teeth! And the name “Shark’s Teeth” was born!

This was my first article in Sew Beautiful, in the Summer 1991 issue.3a5a8a

I wanted more samples, so I made a dress for Annie and a shirt for David.


I was scheduled to teach for the first time at the Martha Pullen school in July 1991 . I was so nervous I couldn’t sleep and my stomach hurt. This magazine had come out just weeks before the school, and while the technique was too new to have been included in any of my classes, I did demos of this new technique at the Table Top Clinic evening event. I was swamped with some 350 students, plus many teachers and assistants and employees. I lost my voice that evening! Twenty-five years later, Shark’s Teeth remains popular, and I’m proud to have named it!

I’ve taught Shark’s Teeth so many times I could do it in my sleep! Now it’s included in my Heirloom Sewing Essential Techniques Craftsy class. (Click here¬†to take the class for just $24.99, a¬†50% discount!)resized 3a

Do you see the linen shirt-jacket on the¬†dress form¬†behind me? Well, I needed some updated samples, and more adult garments for class samples. This is my newest Shark’s Teeth garment.

I used the StyleArc Marley Woven Shirt pattern. This pattern is also available as a PDF on Etsy.


While I rarely wear boxy jackets myself, I knew this would be a good pattern to showcase some rows of Shark’s Teeth along the front opening.18

I used a rust-colored handkerchief linen that has been in my stash for a long time. I used a size 10 pattern, because that’s the size of the mannequin, but it’s too small for me, so bear that in mind when looking at the photos of me wearing it. I would need a size 12 or 14, and as with most StyleArc patterns, I would increase the biceps circumference. Otherwise, the shirt is great! Here it is worn open…


…and buttoned.034

You can see here that the dart points are too high – if I had been making this for myself, I would have lowered the darts, in addition to using the larger size.

Here’s the back – again, a shirt that’s too small for me. But it’s nice to see garments on a real person!50

One thing I really like about this pattern are the deep hems and slits at the side seams and at the cuffs.


The rest of the photos show details, but the color is waaaaay off – sorry! These are the slits and deep hems.


I used French seams for all the seams, so the inside is nicely finished.


Instead of hemming the fronts as indicated on the pattern, I made a facing the depth of the hem. If I had used a hem, the tucks, if folded under, would have been quite bulky. A facing eliminates that bulk. And I slip-stitched the front placket edges to the seamline of the innermost tuck.


The collar stand on this pattern was different than any I’ve done before, but it worked nicely.


All in all, a great pattern, and a time-tested technique!

McCall’s 6513

McCall’s 6513 is a knit top pattern that I have made three times over the past few years.


It’s comfortable, it goes together well, and those diagonal lines are almost universally flattering.

The first one I made was View D, from a poly lightweight sweater knit from Emma One Sock.¬†It’s a very interesting fabric, and unfortunately out of stock.


It’s a little shiny, which I normally would not like, but in this case, I do. The fabric contains every color of the rainbow, and then some, I think!


You can see the crossover neckline. On this version, I cut the front pieces so that the crosswise grain was pretty much parallel to the front neckline edges. It’s a pretty stable knit, with not a lot of stretch, so it worked well.


Here you can get a really good look at the fabric, and see the gathers at the side seam.

The second version was View C, which is the same as the previous version, except that the sleeves are ruched at the wrist.


This is an 11 oz. rayon/lycra jersey from, again, Emma One Sock. (Sorry, it’s a bit wrinkled.) This fabric is a lot stretchier than the knit I used in the first top, and so the neckline drapes a lot more. It’s best if I wear a camisole or tank top under this, especially if I plan to bend over!


To accent the gathered side seam, I added some Zundt FSL after it was sewn. Honestly, in real life, the colors match much better, and there is a tiny touch of light blue metallic in the embroidery.


I also added a lace motif over the ruching on the outside of the wrists.

The third version, which I made a few months ago, is also View C, this time in a poly/lycra matte jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics. I think this fabric is also no longer available, which is sad, because I love this color! But they have lots of similar knits.


You can see the ruching at the wrists, which is done with narrow elastic. I like the ruched sleeves, because I almost always push my sleeves up to 3/4 length, and this does that for me! This fabric is intermediate in stretchiness between the multicolor poly knit and the light blue rayon knit. In any case, the pattern needs to be sewn in a drapey knit fabric.

This¬†must be¬†a popular pattern, because I’ve had it for at least three years, and it’s still available. I can see why!

StyleArc “Fleur Tunic”


My Craftsy class went live on Monday, and (yay!) it’s doing very well. I have already had several questions about the white tunic shown on the mannequin behind me in Lessons 2 and 3, about basic heirloom sewing techniques.¬† Well, here’s the “scoop” on that garment!


Here’s the top on me. I made this from StyleArc’s Fleur Tunic pattern.¬†This is a size 10, so it’s a little small on me. It was made for the mannequin on the Craftsy set and fits her better ūüôā


I wanted to make a ladies’ garment that was truly wearable. I really like that StyleArc patterns have a¬†great size range – this one is available in sizes 4 – 30!


I wanted just a bit of lace, with no frilliness. The neckline insert in this pattern seemed like the perfect place for that. I stitched together lace and embroidered insertions to form pieces large enough for the front insert pattern piece. I did not line the insert, as directed in the pattern, because I wanted the look to be more delicate. I used a teeny, tiny Swiss trim for the center front edge, for stability, and I edged the insert with entredeux, instead of using a regular seam.

The body of the tunic is made from Spechler-Vogel Imperial batiste – it’s inexpensive and easy-care.


I used French seams for the construction, which is pretty minimal – shoulder seams, shirt-type sleeve seams, and side seams.


The roll-up sleeves are secured with a buttoned tab. I interfaced the tab with a lightweight interfacing, so the lightweight batiste would hold up to a buttonhole. I did find that the marking on the pattern for the placement of the tab was a little too high for my taste, so I lowered that mark about 3 inches.

This is a roomy pattern. As I said, I made a 10 for the mannequin. My measurements are between a 12 and a 14. I¬† would use a 12 and not a 14 for myself, and I think I would lengthen it a bit – but then, I’m pretty tall. I think it works well with jeans, and I think it would make a great swim suit cover-up if lengthened, although I wasn’t thinking much about swimming when we took the pics today, as it was barely above freezing!

If you want to learn about the simple techniques I used to create the lace insert, and save 50% off the regular price, check out my class, “Heirloom Sewing Essential Techniques“!

“Heirloom Sewing Essential Techniques” is Live!

Today is the day! My newest Craftsy class is now live!titleCard

To celebrate, I’m offering 50% off the cost of the class. That’s not a bad price for a class you can watch as often as you want, for as long as you want. You can interact with me and with other students, and you can show off your projects to the Craftsy community and be inspired by other students’ work. (And, I’m so pleased – the photography and production of this class, which I just got to watch for the first time yesterday, is superb!)

You can see a short introductory video here.


I’ve been looking forward sooo much to the launch of this class! It has something for everyone, I think.


…and lots more! I had so much fun doing this class.


Have a great day, and have fun sewing (heirloom sewing, I hope!)


An Old Magazine, and a New Class!

I have some very exciting news to share! I had this blog post all ready to publish, then got the news that I could now, finally, make this public.¬†Scroll to the bottom of this post if you want to see it right away…

Last week, I had to look up an old Sew Beautiful article to check some yardages. Issue 101, from summer 2005. I looked through it, and was amazed at how many things I had in it! I was sewing and designing full-time, and then some, for Martha Pullen Co. at the time. Here is some of what I was doing a little over ten years ago.

The cover…


and the article to go with it.



These two cute little pique sundresses modeled after an antique garment.


Installment number four in my beginning heirloom baby quilt series


Two versions of the same pattern in the Designer Details section


And, finally, “Sue Says,” my regular column for eight years.


All together, 21 pages plus the cover! This issue may have had a few more of my things than most, but, really, not much. I usually had multiple articles and garments in almost every issue for many years. I was sewing for Martha’s Sewing Room, and class samples, and my own and Annie’s clothes, as well. Oh, and I had also started working on show quilts by this time!

Now, another chapter! I can finally announce that I will have a new Craftsy class available very soon, “Heirloom Sewing Essential Techniques!”


I had so much fun filming this class!

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It’s a new way to reach a new audience with this lovely genre of sewing.

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There’s exciting news for you, too! Do you want to win this class for free? Click on this link and sign up for the drawing for the giveaway! Craftsy will contact me with the lucky person, and I’ll contact the winner just before the class goes live. Good luck!