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Xanthea Zero Waste T-Shirt

Liz Hayward from The Craft of Clothes recently released a zero-waste t-shirt pattern – the Xanthea Top. Liz proposed a pattern swap with our latest patterns, as t-shirts and overalls are a perfect combo. I’m not quite done with the Simone Overalls pattern, but I’m looking forward to styling the Xanthea Top with my finished overalls and seeing Liz’s version of both together. It was also perfect timing, as I have been wanting to make some basics for myself and tees were first on my list.

The Xanthea Top is very versatile, as it is designed to be used with knit or woven fabrics and it is drafted up to a 70″ bust. The top has a fun, unique construction, and a slightly boxy fit. The final top hangs on the bias so it has a nice drape. It also has options for short sleeves or long sleeves. Liz provides a printable mockup of the top so you can fully understand the construction before you get started.

Short-sleeved version with neckline for knit fabric
Long Sleeve version with neckline for woven fabric

I decided I wanted to play with and highlight the unique design lines created on the front of the top. It has been a while since I made a handstitched garment so I was excited to jump in again with the Xanthea top. My goal was to use mock flat-felled seams for the body and finish the neckline with a more stretchable stitch. I made a few minor changes to the overall design; including using the woven neckline for the knit version, omitting the sleeves, and taking out a bit at the shoulders.

I made a size 10 based on my body measurements and I’m very happy with the fit. I also made a version out of woven fabric in the same size and while it does fit, I think I may size up for future versions made with woven fabric as it does pull a bit in the shoulder area when I cross my arms. I’m not sure if this is because of my fabric choice or the size, but I will experiment with that further.

The original pattern does not have shoulder seams, but I decided to slightly modify my top by taking out 1.5″ | 3.8cm from the top of the shoulders. To do this, I constructed the top as directed until I got to the step to cut out the neckline. I traced my desired neckline on the fabric and then I measured down 1.5″ | 3.8cm at the side fold (there is no side seam). I made a diagonal cut from this point up to the neckline. I was left with a triangle cutout that I used to create a facing around the armholes.

I also chose to use the woven neckline for the top because I wanted a lower neckline. When I cut out the pattern, I cut an additional 1″ |2.5cm strip the same length as the required square. I used this strip as the binding around the neckline. I did have a little bit of this strip remaining and I used this to help finish the facing at the armholes. I used the neckline cutout as a back facing and I really like the detail on the back of the shirt.

The last thing that I changed was to eliminate the sleeves for my knit version because the boxy fit creates cute little cap-like sleeves. As I said above, I used the excess that was cut off the shoulders as the facing for the sleeves. Because there are no shoulder seams, the excess triangle that I cut from the shoulders needed to be cut open so that I could stitch it to the arm opening. I matched the center of this elongated polygon with the top shoulder seam, right sides together, and stitched it to the arm opening. I finished the facing by turning it to the wrong side and stitching around the perimeter of the armhole and along the diagonal edges of the shoulder cutout. I wish I had gotten better pictures of this process because it is a bit hard to describe, but the video I recorded while doing it was blurry – oh well. I am really pleased with how this detail turned out and how it compliments the original design lines of the top.

As the weather cools, I’m looking forward to making more versions of the Xanthea Top. I have plans for a woven version with slightly puffy sleeves and I also like Liz’s idea of making it a sweatshirt with a hood. This is definitely a pattern that I will be coming back to often. Please let me know if you have any questions about my mods.

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Lawrence Top Dress Hack

I have been thinking about making a dress version of the Lawrence Top for a while. I began with the idea of lengthening the tunic version and adding a wide ruffle at the bottom. I did the math, adjusted the pattern pieces, and selected fabric, but something was holding me back. The more I thought about my idea, the more I realized I couldn’t see myself wearing the final version. I loved the idea, but the design didn’t fit my wardrobe or lifestyle. I love the look of ruffles and frills, but I don’t necessarily like wearing them. I didn’t want to make something that I would only wear once or twice.

I put the idea on hold for a bit while I tried to decide what direction to go with it. When I found a piece of navy double gauze in my stash, my motivation for making a dress was renewed. I decided to blend the two views of the Lawrence Top and make an oversized shirt dress with a tie.

As I looked at the original pattern, I tried to think about what aspects of each view I wanted to use in the hacked dress. I wanted to use the shape and inseam pockets of the tunic version, but with shorter sleeves that could be rolled up if I wanted a different look. I also knew I wanted to incorporate the split hem from View B, but I wanted the hemline to be even.

Once I started laying out all the pieces on my fabric, I was able to work on more specific details of the design. My piece of fabric was 59″|150cm wide x 90″|229cm long. I began by switching the orientation of the original pattern pieces (to be oriented with the grain instead of cross-grain) so I could get more length. Based on the length of fabric I was able to get a dress that hits above the knee.

Adjusted pattern piece layout

I also wanted a little more volume to the dress, so I made the front and back panels wider. I didn’t change the width of the yoke and I was able to gather the panels more. I did make the yoke taller – making it 9”|23cm instead of 6”|15cm – to go with the proportions of the more oversized look.

The buttons are one of my favorite parts of the dress. I found these yellow, vintage buttons last summer and when I got them I had no project in mind. I just loved how all the different shades of yellow and different shapes went together. Once I started sewing the navy gauze, I remembered that I had the yellow buttons and I knew they would be the perfect fit for the dress. I love how they pop on the navy fabric and add a bit of whimsy to the dress.

While I was making the dress, I thought about various ways that it could be worn. I wanted to make sure that it worked in a variety of situations and seasons. The dress definitely feels fancier when it is tied at the waist, but it can also have a casual feel. I like how it feels flexible in its style. The dress layers well over leggings and it can be worn in the cooler months. And I discovered (after we took these pictures, of course) that it layers well over wide-leg culottes. Worn without the tie, it creates a very artist smock vibe which I really like. Wearing it untied, without pants, is also an option. I think it will be great to throw over my swimsuit when we head to the beach.

If you have made the Lawrence Top and/or tried hacking the pattern I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment or post and tag me on Instagram @goldfinch.limited #zwlawrencetop. I love seeing everyone’s makes!

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Scrap Happy

Over the past couple of years I have collected a vast amount of scrap fabric; both from my own personal sewing and from small, sustainable clothing brands. I have big dreams for many of these bits, but I haven’t been putting the attention I need into using them. They are taking up space in our little house and I want to start actively using them, not just dreaming about the possibilities. When I originally began collecting these fabric scraps and cutoffs, my goal was to make various products to sell in my shop and at craft markets. Due to many factors, I have not been participating in markets and decided to shift the focus of my work. So now I have a ton of scraps and a long list of personal projects I want to work on.

At first, I had hoped to come up with some new and interesting ideas to use the scraps, but through my research, I have found tutorial after tutorial on how to make scrunchies and zipper pouches; nothing too new or exciting. I decided that I would like to approach my scrap projects from a different angle; not a tutorial, but more inspiration to get your scraps out and make something useful. My goal is to work on a scrap project at least once a month and document it. I’m excited about putting some direct focus into using these scraps as there some items I’m really looking forward to making.

My first project is a water bottle carrier. While taking a walk one evening, my partner mentioned that he had seen a water bottle carrier at the co-op made from parachute fabric. I instantly thought that I should make one for our walks. I am notorious for forgetting water when we head out on a walk. Sometimes we take a wagon to carry extra stuff, but many times we head out on a quick walk to the lake and we don’t want to bring the wagon along. And more often than not, I end up carrying my 3-year-old home on my shoulders so having to carry a water bottle also is something I just never want to do.

I received some upcycled cotton canvas from Summer at Tiger Owl and I have been hoarding it waiting for the right project. This water bottle carrier seemed like the perfect place to use some of it because it’s sturdy and I love the little speckles of color throughout the neutral canvas. I decided to make a simple, lined box bottom bag to the dimensions of the water bottle we use most. I added a pocket on the exterior just in case I don’t have pockets in my clothes that day and an adjustable strap.

I’m very pleased with the end product. It is so easy to throw this carrier over my shoulder and head outside. While I haven’t used it a ton yet, it seems like it will be easier for me to remember to bring along and much easier to adventure when I have both hands at the ready.

I’m looking forward to working my way through my scrap project list. This water bottle carrier was a nice challenge and distraction from the pattern that I am currently working on. I hope that making some dedicated time for personal, fun projects will give me some time to clear my brain and a chance to be extra creative. Do you have any scrap projects you are working on or dreaming about? I would love to hear about them!

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Hack: Patchy Cropped Lawrence Top

When my friend Jamie (@reclaimedcraft) asked if I was interested in some fabric cutoffs from her time working at Elizabeth Suzann, I jumped at the chance. I have a never-ending supply of fabric scraps, but the opportunity to use high-quality fabric is hard for me to turn down. I have a couple of idea swimming through my head of what I will be doing with these scraps, but my first desire was to create a patchy, cropped Lawrence Top.

Upon opening the boxes of scraps, I was immediately drawn to the olive linen. I had visions of a monochromatic top with a few pops of contrast. The navy linen was the perfect pairing with the olive. I began by sorting and ironing out the scraps. The next step was to straighten all the edges. In the past, I have tried to work the various curves and diagonal cuts into the finished whole cloth, but for this project, I wanted to work with only the straight lines. I now have a pile of smaller cutoffs, but I have a few ideas running through my head about what to do with those.

Once the fabric had been prepped, the fun part could begin. Based on the amount of scraps I had, I decided to make some changes to a few elements of the design. First, I used a large inverted box pleat on the back panel instead of smaller pleats or gathers. When working with all the seams of the patchwork, it can sometimes be a little tricky to get the fabric to drape well so I wanted to eliminate a bunch of pleats/gathers that might interfere with how the fabric hangs. I also decided to anchor the pleat 1″ down from the yoke to create a more dramatic effect.

For the front panels, I decided to make them the same width as the yoke and eliminate the pleats/gather all together. There is still plenty of ease for me, but if I had been making the tunic version I probably would have stuck to the original dimensions. The only other change that I made to the pattern was using snaps instead of buttons. I really like that clean finish of the button band. Once you have an understanding of how the pieces come together, it is easy to make adjustments that work for your body and the fabric you have.

The process of piecing the fabric together is simple but does take some time. Once I got into a rhythm, it went pretty quickly. I find that it is helpful to layout some fabric pieces and have a general idea of how one section might go together. For example, if I know I need to have a finished piece of 12″ X 22″, I will see what pieces I have that fit within those dimensions and see how they layout. I attempt to have a bit of a game plan before I get sewing.

To begin the patchwork, I first sew my fabric pieces together and trim any excess fabric. I then finish the raw edge with a zigzag stitch. Next, press the seam to one side and topstitch the seam in place. I continue on like this, building the piece of fabric to the desired dimensions. Once I have the size I need, I treat it just like a pattern piece and sew everything together.

Working through this process is time-consuming, but also very rewarding. This top was created from waste and it feels good to be able to make something fun and beautiful with these leftovers. By using the Lawrence Top pattern as a guide, I hope to make more patchwork tops – maybe something with more color/pattern mixing.

Thank you again, Jamie, for taking the time to save the scraps, sort them and send them my way. If you have any questions about this process or the pattern please don’t hesitate to email me – emily@goldfinch.limited. If you try this process or any other hacks, I would love to see your final top. Email me photos or post on Instagram using #zwlawrencetop and #goldfinchlimited.

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Lawrence Top Tester Recap

I wanted to put together a special post to highlight my testers final garments. I would not have been able to complete the Lawrence Top sewing pattern without their wonderful help. I really enjoyed working with these women and seeing their finished garments makes me very happy. Thank you again for all your help!

What is great about the pattern is it’s versatility; not only in how you wear the garment, but also how it can work with different types and sizes of fabric. Seeing all the tester versions next to each other really highlights how flexible this pattern is.


Andrea made View B in a lightweight viscose from her stash. Due to the size of the fabric, she didn’t make the low/high hemline. She also used a different piece of lightweight fabric for the interior yoke. Both of these mods are great places to change up the pattern if you have less fabric than recommended. If you click through on her post, you can see her pattern pieces all cut and laid out, along with the very minimal waste she has when finished.


Eli made View A in a more structured gingham cotton. I love how she styled the top in a variety of ways; over jeans, layered with a cozy scarf, and open as a jacket/cardigan. I really enjoy wearing oversized button-up shirts over tank tops, so this will definitely be my go to way to wear the tunic this spring.


Sarah made View A in viscose rayon. She used a wide cut of fabric and was able to lay out her pattern pieces with the fabric grain, as apposed to cross-grain that the pattern calls for. The top is wonderfully drapey and looks good open or closed.


Rebecca made View A in a crisp, white linen. Rebecca styles the tunic with and without a turtleneck showing that the top can be worn throughout many seasons. Rebecca has plans to make another tunic, but making it a bit narrower by adjusting the width of the front and back panels. She also mentioned the idea of modding the pattern into a dress and now I’ve been thinking about ways to make one for myself.


Rose made View B out of a beautiful piece of linen. She made size 2 as her bust size fits right on the lower end of the size range. I love how she styled the cropped top with cozy linen pants. I can’t wait to see her tunic version.


Michelle (@zoetemeyer) made View A in a drapey rayon. Due to the size of fabric she had, she rearranged the pattern pieces and ended up making a longer, narrower version of the top, with a low/high split hemline. She also omitted the seam facing details and instead used this leftover fabric to test her buttonholes. It’s nice to see how she took the pattern pieces and moved them all around the fabric she had to make it work.


Elana (@the_solstice_studio) made a View B of the top. She had a lot of wonderful ideas to mod/hack the pattern: “I thought of a number of ways to use excess fabric or mistakes to keep the top zero waste including ruffles, a tied bow at the front, sleeve details, making an even longer top that’s actually a dress (I fantasized about a dress version of option B the entire time I worked on it, cinched at the waist with a ribbon made from excess fabric or a belt), or even longer sleeves for a winter version of option B.”


Thank you again to my testers! I hope seeing these finished tops gives everyone some inspiration and I look forward to seeing many more finished Lawrence Tops. I would love to see not only your finished garment, but also your process – post on Instagram using #zwlawrencetop and #goldfinchlimited.

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Lawrence Top – Side Seam Facings for View B

During the testing phase for the Lawrence Top a few people suggested that I include photos to show how the side seam facings are sewn. This is a technique that is not used often so there is not a ton of visual reference to be found.

I photographed a step-by-step tutorial to show how the side seams facings are sewn into the top. While this tutorial is specific to View B, the concept can be applied to the single seam facing for View A.

While designing the Lawrence Top, I wanted to find uses for all the fabric cutoffs to make the design zero waste. The neckline cutouts are perfect for seam facings and create a nice finished look. For View B of the top, the split seams required 2 sets of facings. While working through the pattern piece layout I needed to plan accordingly to accommodate for both sets of facings.

Originally, I had planned for two sets of triangles to be the seam facings at the split seam. During my testing, I discovered that my triangles for the second set of seam facings were not mirrored images of themselves like facings created from the neckline cutout. This created a problem if you are using a fabric that has a definite “right” and “wrong” side. So I adjusted and made the facings into rectangles. In the end, it creates an interesting design detail and finishes the seams nicely.

I hope this tutorial is helpful when putting in the side seam facings. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have further questions –  emily@goldfinch.limited

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Introducing the Lawrence Top

I’m very excited to introduce you to the Lawrence Top, a zero waste PDF sewing pattern. The Lawrence Top comes in two different views. View A is a tunic length top with 3/4 length sleeves and inseam pockets. View B is a cropped top with a low/high hem, short sleeves and patch pockets. The top is designed to have an oversized fit and comes in two size ranges.

Size 1 has a finished bust circumference of 58″/147cm and is intended to fit bust of 32″-44″/81cm-112cm.

Size 2 has a finished bust circumference of 70″/178cm and is intended to fit a bust of 46″-56″/117cm-142cm.

The inspiration for the Lawrence Top began with a thrifted ready-to-wear top that I picked up a few years ago. The shirt is a short sleeved, button up tunic with a large overlapping pleat in the back. While the shirt is not necessarily ground breaking in style, it is definitely a staple in my wardrobe. I love how easy it is to wear a variety of ways.

I’ve been dreaming of ways to recreate this top and I knew I wanted to include a yoke and pleats, but I also wanted pockets and some sleeve options. Most of these thoughts stayed in my head for quite awhile. Ideas and thoughts about pleat placement, etc. would come to me at random, but acting on these ideas took some time.

After seeing some examples of zero waste sewing patterns, I finally took the plunge and got to work on my own design. When I started the process, I decided on a fabric size to be the base of the design. I wanted to use a fabric size that was a standard width and length, but I also wanted the design to be flexible enough to work even if the fabric dimensions were off by a few inches/cm.

Much of the design process involved moving and adjusting the puzzle pieces to fit within the fabric dimensions. I began to see the pattern as more of a concept, or a formula, that could be changed and adjusted to meet the sewist needs. Do you want it smaller or bigger? Longer or shorter? Not a problem – some quick adjustments to the fabric dimensions and you can make a garment that suits your needs. Throughout the pattern, I hope to provide the tools necessary to make any needed changes.

The pattern is different than your typical home sewing pattern. The pattern is based on only squares, rectangles and triangles. The cutlines are be drawn directly on the fabric using the provided pattern layout and dimensions. Printing out pattern pieces is not required for this process so there is no paper waste or taping required.

The Lawrence Top is designed to be zero waste, meaning all of the required fabric is used. This is achieved by using the cutoffs to create interesting finishing details. The neckline cutouts become a yoke facing, a hang loop and seam facings. While these details are technically optional, they lend to a nicely finished garment.

Detail of yoke facing and hang loop

While designing the Lawrence Top, I thought about different ways it could be worn throughout the seasons and in various ways in your wardrobe. The tunic can be worn with leggings or jeans, open as a cardigan, or over a turtleneck. The cropped top can be worn with high waisted pants and skirts, over a dress, with a cardigan, or over a turtleneck. There are many possibilities to make each top wearable in a variety of ways.

Over the next few months I have plans to show you a few ways the pattern can be hacked, along with additional ways to style the Lawrence Top. My hope is that this top brings many options and creativity to your closet.

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DIY Backpack: A Lesson in Upcycled and Reclaimed Materials

I decided I “needed” a retro style, drawstring backpack. I’m 38 weeks pregnant and I felt that it was the only kind of bag that was going to be useful for quick trips out and about. I love my over the should bags and larger totes, but the straps tend to get in the way when you are babywearing.

I have seen more and more of the retro style backpack bags with modern updates lately. Some are beautifully crafted from leather and others from fabric. I thought I could scour the thrift shops to see what I could find, but that was quickly ruled out when I realized how much walking could be involved (although I will still keep my eyes open for one every time I go to the thrift store).

 

I began to research what I knew I could do…sew.  I searched for different DIY backpack sewing patterns to see if there was anything that would work. I came across many different patterns (I really liked this one  and this one) and I decided I could use the concepts from a variety of styles to come up with a simple pattern for myself.

The next part was more exciting and eye opening. Materials! What did I have on hand to make this bag. Could I make it completely from materials I had in my stash? I’m not talking about pretty fabric I have collected over the years with the intent of someday making something out of it; I’m talking about scraps that I have laying around from previous projects. I also have a stash of old clothes that could have gone to the thrift store, but I kept because I either liked the fabric or some component of the item seemed like it could be useful in the future.  These reclaimed materials would be the base of my DIY backpack.

 

I know this sounds like I’ve got this huge hoarding problem, but really all this fits in one big plastic tub so its not that bad! I love that I can go to this stash and find bits and pieces that can be used to create something new, useful and beautiful.

With my backpack ideas swirling through my head, I went to my stash to see what I had. I knew I had some thicker fabric that I could use for the outer shell and I had a lots of pretty bits that I could create a lining. I was surprised when I found a pair of my husband’s cargo shorts. One of the pockets had a zipper pouch and a snapped pocket. Perfect for the front pocket of the backpack. (Although, now I owe my husband another pair of cargo shorts because apparently they were only in my stash pile because they needed a new button…oops!!)

Once I sorted out which materials could be used, I began to take measurements and think about construction. Once I figured out what needed to be sewn together when, the process went pretty quickly. The one thing that I still need to figure out is how to make the straps adjustable. I could buy a backpack hardware kit or the likes or I could see what I have laying around that might work. Currently a safety pin is doing the job.

What really inspires me about this project are the endless possibilities of upcycled and reclaimed materials. Giving new life to something that people don’t want anymore. Going to the thrift store and looking at clothes, not just for what they are, but what they can become is a very exciting. It really keeps your creative juices flowing.

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Finished Quilt

Over the weekend, I finished up a naturally dyed and hand stitched baby quilt. Some projects seem to drag at the end and you just want to finish the piece, but it’s hard to get there. I have had a few of those projects lately, so it was a pleasure to work on something that I was not only excited to see completed, but that I really wanted to do the work to get there.


I don’t feel the photos that I have taken thus far do the quilt justice. I want to take it around to everyone and show them so they can see it with their own eyes. I guess you could say that I’m just little proud of my work. Granted, it is not perfect by any means and I wish some of the mistakes were not there, but proud none the less because my two hands made it and it will bring comfort and joy to someone.


Next up, I have plans for a whole cloth quilt, using the fabric that I dyed with black beans and some thrifted wool. I’m currently working on a few sketches to plan out how I would like to do the hand stitching. I’m also considering adding a simple crocheted edge instead of the typical bias binding. These projects are ever evolving and it’s always fun to see where they end up.

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Beginnings of Slow Fashion

A few years ago when I started sewing for myself, the motivation was based on the enjoyment of the making process and the speed at which I could have a completed project. I was a knitter and at the time very slow, but I knew the joy of wearing something that you have made for yourself with your own two hands. With sewing, I could create something much quicker, almost instant gratification. It was a magical discovery!

At the time, I knew nothing of the slow fashion movement. I did know that I didn’t like to shop because I was not happy with the ever changing styles and lack of good fit. I hated spending a lot of money on something I could tell was going to fall apart after a couple of wears and I couldn’t afford the really good stuff.

Once I began to sew and knit in much more earnest, I began to follow along with the conversation of slow fashion. I began to understand why I had such a dislike for fast fashion. There was a reason the clothing would fall apart so fast and why it seemed like I could never keep up with the latest and greatest. I began to see that I wanted to know more about where my clothing came from and that I wanted to hold on to what I already had longer.  Thrifting and mending took on a whole new meaning, not just that I couldn’t spend the money on new clothes, but that I wanted things to last and to give a  new home to items that had a lot of life left in them.

I started looking at my crafting practices and the materials that I was using.  I was really thinking about how I would use a garment once it was made and how does fit into my lifestyle. What was I most comfortable in and how I do I like to wear clothes? When I really started to think about this and pay attention to what I already had, it helped to reduce the desire to just cast on the next cute sweater or cut out a cute top. The question was will I wear this regularly? Do I have something similar? Would my time be better spent thrifting or fixing something to fit that hole in my wardrobe?

All of this also began to form other desires for my making. I wanted to participate in the slow fashion movement beyond just for myself. Could I take my skills and create things others could wear and love too? This is something that I have been contemplating over the last few months.

Recently, I was able to finish up two pieces that are the beginning of this undertaking. A simple tunic dress made from linen that I dyed myself. This tunic dress is flattering for a variety of body styles and can be worn on a variety of occasions.

The second piece is a cotton scarf/wrap that is a perfect transition piece for the spring. I dyed the cotton and used Shibori resist techniques to create  the pattern on the fabric. This piece also has a variety of uses, from scarf to wrap to swaddle blanket and nursing cover, etc. Creating things that have multiple uses means that our resources go further.


You can check out both of these items in my shop. Custom orders are always welcome, just let me know.