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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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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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Out and About

Happy Friday! It’s been a whirlwind of a week with little sleep. I have been doing a lots of knitting (see above walk with kiddos…having knitting will travel, right?) and planning for future dye projects, but don’t have much to share at the moment. Teething baby has left me with lots of nursing time and I have been reading and researching during much of that time. I’ve been coming across and collecting articles and links related to sustainability and the fashion industry. So I thought I would compile a list regularly for you to peruse at your leisure. I don’t want to limit this collection to sustainability and fashion, but also include natural dyeing, small business development, mindfulness, etc. If you find anything around the web that might be of interest please hit me up at emily@goldfinch.limited.

  • Fabric made from wood – This sounds very interesting; especially the potential of a closed loop system. I wonder how it would take natural dyes?
  • Fast fashion = modern-day slavery – It’s so easy to look over and not think about and I know there are many layers and facets, but it’s something that needs to start being talked about more.
  • A sustainable vision for fast-fashion? – This article really breaks down the emergence of fast fashion and it’s environmental and social impacts. It discusses ways some of the fast fashion companies are attempting to reduce and improve these impacts.
  • Way to go Columbia – ReThreads: Clothing Recycling Program
  • EF Renew – A take-back program that uses damaged and unwanted Eileen Fisher and turns them into new garments.
  • More ways to avocado pits – This makes me wonder if you could still use them to dye with after making broth and/or if you will have pink soup.

Enjoy and I hope everyone has a good weekend!

 

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Experiments with Painting Fabric

Lately I’ve been intrigued by the idea of painting with natural dyes. My hope and vision is to use natural color to create unique painted fabric using upcycled cloth. I’ve tried working with iron water as color modifier to paint patterns on naturally dyed fabric, but I have not been very successful. The patterns and colors tend to bleed together too much when washed.

After some initial research in Natural Color by Sasha Duerr, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. Promagrenate skin dye was up first. I simmered the skins on and off for a day. After straining the liquid from the pulp, I reduced the liquid dye by simmering it again for about an hour. Then I added guar gum to thicken up the paint. I also wanted to change up the color so I added iron to half of the paint.

My pomegranate paint was much more orangey, coral color then I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be much more yellow. Once I started painting, I was pleasantly surprised by how the paint turned bright yellow on the fabric. The fabric was mordanted in aluminum acetate. Watching the color change as a reaction to the mordanted fabric gave me a first hand look at how the mordant effects the dye.

Once washed, the iron paint bleed slightly into the original yellow paint, but the integrity of the design stayed. I also splattered lemon juice on some the fabric. The lemon juice acted as bleach on the natural dye so I was left with an interesting effect on the fabric.

To continue with my experiments, I made paint with avocado pits and tea bags. I used the same technique to make the paint as I did with the pomegranate paint. The avocado dye turned out a very pale coral, pink. In the past I have gotten much deeper pinks from avocado pits so I was surprised by the lack of depth to this dye.

Once washed, the color was altered by the iron. I was pleased by the outcome because it darkened the avocado paint.

As I continue to explore this type of textile art, I have been thinking about other effects the dye could have on the fabric. I wonder if different watercolor techniques that work on paper would work on fabric? What about color mixing? Or combining different dying techniques like shibori and painting? Using different color modifiers besides iron? The possibilities do seem endless as there are lots of questions and ways to play with natural color.

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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.

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Contemplating Process: A Zero Waste Shirt

In my last post, I talked about surface design and the struggles I was running into. What I had neglected to do during my weeks worth of work was take more process pictures, so I don’t have pictures from every step of the following process…lesson learned. I was concentrating on the end product and I was not thinking about the process as much as I should have been.

Through the process of making, we are learning so many things. What would make the project work better next time? Would I do any of this again or is there a better/different way? Is this the direction I want the project to go or do I have a new idea/inspiration? The list could go on and on about what you learn from the process.

During this particular dyeing session, I was trying to create some Itajime Shibori with some tea towels dyed in a red onion skin bath. After seeing some pictures in books, I assumed that I knew what I was doing. I mean, how hard can it be?!?! Well, I learned the hard way that I should have done some more research on the actual techniques of Shibori resist dyeing. My biggest problem was that I had not folded the fabric correctly (in a accordion fashion) so the dye did not take to the fabric the way that I wanted it to. I also had some tea towels that I had just put in the dye pot to get overall color and the result was very uneven.

In the end, I was not happy with the red onion skin dye color which resulted in a muddy brown. They just looked like dirty cotton tea towels. I’m sure if the intended use was not a towel or if the color had been even, it would have been ok.  I was having a really hard time with the thought of drying my hands on a towel that looked like mud had been wiped all over them. I decided to put the tea towels in an iron bath to see how that would modify the color. As a result, the towels turned out to be an olive green.

I was still not entirely happy with the towels and I couldn’t pin point why. I stared at them for a few days hoping some kind of inspiration would hit me. I was doing some research on zero waste sewing patterns for another project, when I came across this post from A Verb for Keeping Warm by Cal Patch and this post from Sew Obsessed. I began to wonder if I could do something like this with my tea towels and some stash fabric. The design process began all over again. Measuring, cutting, ironing, piecing, and hoping that something would come of this.

The end product is not perfect by any means, but I learned a lot during all the steps of the project. I take away many more ideas for future projects, during which I’m sure I will make more mistakes and learn more.  It’s a cycle and I’m learning to embrace all parts of it, as you get so much from each step.