Blooms of Summer

At the Pivot Fashion Show at Mark and Anne's Art Party in 2016, the cameras (and audience) loved Ella, our model pictured on the left.  In a crowd of 12 models all wearing beautiful hand crafted hats, one  attendee came running over as she picked Ella out from our crowd of fashionable beauties.  While it is obvious her hat, designed by Stella Shen (, is sensational, it is important that our outfit supported rather than coordinated with this floral creation.


What this boils down to is that the hat takes center stage in this ensemble, and that the outfit supports the head wear rather than competing with it, or for that matter, matching it.  If we had dressed Ella in yellow or green, the outfit would have cheapened, ruined, or tarnished the elegance of the hat. Instead, by dressing our model in the softer hues of the grasses supporting the blooms in the hat, the color pop of the flowers speak for the entire ensemble.


This is a good rule to follow if you do not want to be challenged with coordinating different prints and colors, which is hard to do tastefully.  The term 'color pop' refers to a digital image in which part of an image is shown in color, while the rest of the image featured in grey or a dull monochrome. In fashion, using color sparingly, but dramatically, can often be a key to creating drama without going overboard.



Re-purposed Girl's Summer Dress

Children grow out of clothing so fast, its handly to have some sewing skills to re-purpose some of our discarded clothing for them.  This camilsole was eight inches larger than the little girl, so all I have to do was reduce the size of the original top through pleating.  Then I shortened the straps and presto!


I have seen adorable dresses made from men's dress shirts for women and little girls (see and The best part of sewing from discarded clothing is that if you make a mistake, you can either rip it out or discard it as originally planned!




The Power of DIY Sewing

Y'see, when I was a girl, fashion was expensive and hard to come by. Even in an upper middle class family, my back-to-school wardrobe was limited to one dress, one jumper, a blouse, and a new pair of saddle shoes. My mother had six kids and managed a tight budget. As the only girl, there were no 'hand-me-downs'.


Thank goodness home economics was offered in public schools, so we girls had the choice of learning to cook or sew.  I had no interest in feeding my family of eight, so I enrolled in sewing, and soon learned that I could make clothes that were more interesting (to me) than what I could buy in the department stores.


During my career in Industry, I depended on retail boutiques and department stores for my office attire until one time, that didn't work for me. I had an event to host in Scottsdale Arizona, so needed a few pieces that would work in a resort setting. I shopped for two days, hitting every big time mall in the South SF Bay Area, and found nothing for my efforts. It was February (wrong season), and post winter sales, but no matter the excuse, I ended up empty handed. If I had spent that time sewing instead of shopping, I would have had more than a few outfits for my conference.


These days I take vacations instead of attending conferences, but I sew most of my resort clothes. The t-shirt caprices my model is wearing above and in my blog post preview takes at most 2 hours to complete, from the cutting board to the final hem. Equipped with a sewing machine and a quick turnaround, why aren't more sustainable fashionistas looking into DIY sewing?


A Simple Summer Bolero

Edgy, yet conservative, this kind of styling works for all ages, young and old.  And most events, casual to dressy.  In this picture we have featured a black and white design, but imagine the colors and patterns this style garment can support, and the combinations and permutations go as far and wide as the mathematical computations our minds are capable of can go.


Stripes and polka dots, contrasting plaids, primary color contrasts with trims to bring them together, the design palette for creating this garment is unlimited.  And  the garment itself provides a spectacular fashion lift to a simple camisole or tank top.  And the beauty of this style is that it is simple to construct.  No darts, princess seams, or hard-to-fit challenges.  If you want some help designing your pattern for this top, let me know!


This pin was borrowed from Etsy, but the source was not available, so I do not know who to give credit to for this wonderful photograph. 



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Tube Dress Tutorial

Use a jersey knit fabric for this dress. No hemming required. Your fabric will be the width of your hips, + your seam allowance; the length will measure from your shoulders to hemline + 10 to 12" depending on. how much drape you want in front. You can always cut off extra unwanted length, but you cannot add, so keep this in mind.


Fold fabric in half, right sides together. Baste stitch this tube together about 10 to 12"" down from the top and 10 to 12" up from the bottom. You will either add to this seam or remove stitches to adjust your fit. Finding the right placement for the armholes, getting the drape you like in the front, and ending the back seam at the base of your neck is a bit tricky, so you can wing it, or try the dress on inside out over your arms, and get some help pinning safety pins on the dress where the armhole should go, and the back neck seam (and slit in back hem) should end.


If you want to 'wing' it, you can measure the dress from the desired hem line to your underarm, and start your armhole there. Measure the depth of this hole (shoulder to underarm) and cut this circle right in the middle of the tube between the fold line and the seam. I do this by folding the tube in half again, matching the center fold line with the back stitch line, and cutting a half circle out there. Try on inside out and adjust. Once you have the correct back seam in place, overstitch the basting stitch and reinforce at the top and bottom.


Finish the armholes with 2" strip folded like a bias tape, or sew the the strip right sides together around the armhole, leaving room for a seam under the arm, and fold and hand stitch to the stitchline on the inside.


A Skirt to Go to The Moon and Dye For


Making Your Own Leggings/Pattern


You will need two t-shirts that are wider than the circumference of the top of your thy, measured from under arm to underarm, across the width of the t-shirt. One will be your pattern, the other your sample garment.


Next, cut off the sleeves, they can be pockets on the finished garment if you want. The first cut you will make is the front crotch, cutting while the t-shirt is folded in half (this guarantees that the front and back crotch will line up, as the inseams need to be the same length). This measurement is the distance from the bare floor to your preferred waist sitting down. If your crotch measurement is 11”, start your cut 11.5” below the neck line. Make this a shallow curve, as you can deepen it later. You will cut the waist angle when you open the shirt back up.


Next cut the inseam from the crotch to the hem. I recommend using the circumference of you knee bent for the hem width, divide this in half, and mark from the fold to the bottom of the inseam. I like cutting from the hem to the crotch, cutting straight or curving a little as you get to the top (but make sure you end up with a straight angle at the top). This is easier than cutting from the top down.


Next open the t-shirt up and cut the waist angle, as straight as possible, but higher in the back than the front. You can adjust this later, but what you are after is a straight angle at the top of the front and back crotch curves, so you start by  getting a straight angle at the front top crotch line, cutting as close to the neck line as possible. As of this step, you have not cut the back crotch yet (it is still the shape of the front curve). So now it is time to adjust your pattern.


Measure thy width at the widest point, making sure it is 1” wider than the loose but fitted measurement of the top of your thy for seam allowance (very small) and ease. Adjust by folding in half again and cutting both sides together. 


Now measure waist, divide by two and add seam allowance. Adjust your crotch curves to meet up to your waist measurement, again, making sure the cures are at right angles at the top and bottom of the curve. Figures that carry more weight in front will want a curve that is more like the back of most pant patterns, so this is really where the customization of the pant resides, in the shaping of these two curves).


Baste you pattern t-shirt together before cutting you sample garment. With right sides together, sew front and back crotch seams. Then fold front and back crotches right sides together and stitch the length of both leg’s inseams. Try on inside out, so you can pin the adjustments you want to make to the pattern.


For your final garment, cut a piece of elastic for the waistband that is smaller than the waist of the garment (and comfortable around your waist), and zigzag raw edges together into a circle. Mark or pin the side seams of your pants, and the front, back and side seams of your elastic, and fold the waist band over the elastic matching pins or marks, stretch, and zigzag in place! Hem bottom of pants, or leave raw. Enjoy!