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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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Scrap Adventures Continue: Scrappy Pouf Edition

I finally managed to work on another scrap-busting project. I have seen Closet Core Patterns DIY Pouf floating around on Instagram, but I hadn’t given myself the push to try it out. I was hopeful that I would find ways to use some of my smaller scraps, as I had many plans for them. But as it typically goes, I have more ideas than time. I was also beginning to feel the weight of all my scraps. We live in a small house and I just don’t have the space to store unlimited amounts of little bits of fabric that –might– be able to be used someday.

I used the CIoset Core Pattern Pouf as a starting point. I’m not 100% sure why I didn’t just follow the pattern, but for some reason, I really wanted to try and make a square pouf. After reading the tutorial, I decided to take the elements of Heather’s pouf that I liked and make it my own. I liked the zipper so you could add more scraps as needed and so the pouf cover could be washed. I also liked the drawstring bag to hold the scraps. It’s not 100% necessary, but keeping all those little bits a little more contained seemed like a good idea.

I’d like to say that I had a full plan mapped out before I started, but that’s just not how I operate. I did have a general idea of how I wanted to make the pouf though, so I started to go through my larger scraps to find as much heavy-weight fabric as possible. I had a grey denim remnant, few pairs of old jeans, and some random pant legs. By laying out all the pieces that would work for the cover, I was able to come up with some dimensions to start with.

I knew I wanted a zipper with a drawstring bag inside to hold the scraps, but I didn’t want my zipper on the bottom because we have hardwood floors and I only had a metal zipper. I decided to put the zipper on one of the corners of the pouf. My zipper was just a bit shorter than the height I wanted to make the pouf so I had to add little fabric extensions to the ends of the zipper to make it work. You can see this detail in the photo below. You can also see how much more space there is to add more scraps!

The drawstring bag that I added will be helpful if I need to take off the cover, but my zipper opening is too small for it all to come out at once so I will still need to take the scraps out little by little. Oh well! At least I can wash it once someone around here spills something on it.

For the general design of the cover, I decided to go with a random layout that was dictated by the shapes of my scraps. At first, I thought about making a more geometric layout, but in the end, I just decided to go random. I was getting impatient with myself and I couldn’t decide on a more structured layout so I just got started and this is what I came up with. I’m pleased with the final layout, but I was hoping for a more square pouf. I realized after the fact that there is no extra structure to the sides of the pouf so no way to stop them from bulging out. I’m hoping that once I put more scraps in it will be a bit more square, but it’s not a big deal.

I didn’t manage to get as many process photos as I had hoped. I always have grand ideas of taking lots of process shots, but then I get to sewing and I forget. Or I only work on something for 10 minutes and it sits for a couple of days making it hard to remember and make the time for photos. But you can see that a little someone likes to play on it!

Have you made a scrap pouf? How did the process go for you? If you have any questions about the process I used please don’t hesitate to ask. I would love to help!

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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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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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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.