The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

How can you tell where to start?

I’m up in Yellowstone and during the spring is baby time.  Babies are everywhere, and there is usually high drama surrounding them.  And every once in a while I’ll see a calf out by itself and worry that it’s lost its mom, and then suddenly catch up and realize that the calf was just out playing.  But for that short time, the calf is lost.

I often feel this way about some of my students who want to start sewing either for the first time, or to re-start after an absence from sewing – either raising a family or having a career or whatever.

The first thing they say is they don’t know where to start.

The first place to start is to select something that you are really going to like

The second place to start is to select something that you really need in your wardrobe

The third place to start is to make it challenging but not too challenging.


For all of these, this to me is a top.  Why?

Well, a skirt is certainly nice, but for me it’s an “add-on” – its not the meat of an outfit or ensemble.

Pants are great, but they can be challenging and a little too for a first try – especially for this project that we’re starting.  (I’ll explain more about that later).

But a top which includes a blouse, shirt, shell or tunic, would be great.  It shows a lot (it’s closer to your face), you’re going to be more likely to wear it, and it shows more and it’s going to get at your mojo more.

Let me explain here.  I have a passion for sewing.  I want to share that passion.  This means I want you to get excited fast and furious right off the bat.  Therefore, I’m going to go after something that gives you the greatest buzz…..that feeling of “Wow!  Look what I did, and I look sooooooo good!”  I want you to feel good about what you’ve accomplished and I want you to look good.

You don’t have to tackle a jacket or a top with a gazillion pieces.  As a matter of fact if you’re a beginner and you want something to work on a tunic type top is a great place to start.  If you’re returning back to sewing, don’t be put off by a blouse – it will have (should have) collar, collar band and set in sleeves.  Although if you’re not comfy with the set in sleeves, do something that doesn’t have them – like Burda 07/2012 #122 (don’t worry click the photo ad you can download the pattern)

This has a collar & collar band and no set in sleeve, but this is not anything even close to a formal look, but it would be smashing for a summer top in a silk dupioni that has been washed with synthrapol.  It would also be great in a wonderful light-weight, crisp linen.

There are a couple of things I would do – 1.) no longer sleeves than 3/4 and be sure and roll them up like they are in the photograph, 2.) it would be excellent to make an FBA here in a very disguised manner.



This is really easy to do, so don’t get all bleary-eyed on me.

If you have a mannequin, do a tissue fit on your mannequin with the sleeve front & bodice front (might be listed as lower bodice front), and take in a tuck on the seam, here marked in pink.  This will ad some fit through the bust, particularly if you have either a large separation from your bust to chest/bust to waist measurement and/or you have a large bust.

If you want to nip in the waist a little here – just to add the line of shape, not necessarily to fit tightly around the waist, that would be nice too.

The next thing that would really make this a knockout would be to make it into a tunic.



Over a pair of leggings or even some short capri-type leggins with flats would be so very cool.

I wouldn’t button this much past the belly button, and it might be fun to have slits up the side to just about 1″ to 2″ below waist.




Here’s another photo of the original shirt to show how this would look as a tunic.





As you can see the seam line goes straight across the bust line which makes this an excellent seam line to alter for bust alterations, but also can give you some shape and style.






OK – this is just one idea about how to get jump started.  This is a fabulous look and would be something you could wear all summer long.  If you have good arms or are particularly warm-natured, and you want to make this short sleeved, or a cap sleeve, you can sure do that and shorten that sleeve to what you want.

Even if you don’t like things around your neck too much, having this open and a collar band & collar, makes for a tailored, put-together look.  This collar frames the face which is where all the attention should go.

This may not be what you need and want, but check your closet and see what you want and then pick out something you REALLY want to make, then set aside some time – and do it!  Make it a project that you really want to do – don’t make it too hard, and don’t make it too easy, and pick out some killer good fabric – make it special – make it exciting!






The reason pants are so difficult is that you have issues such as setting correctly (if the pants do not rest in the same spot every, splaying, bowing, tilting from front to back, inseam height, crotch shaping and although each one of those is immensely important, and is very attainable, but for a first effort, I’m more interested in getting something accomplished, and accomplished quickly and something that you will love, because right now I’m after the mojo more than anything else.)



1 Comment
  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I love everything about this post and can’t wait to get started.

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