How to create a short / cap sleeve flounce top

Create a short / cap sleeve flounce top by drafting a flounce using around-the-house items!

We're working with a simple, shapely tee shirt using the Travel Trio One Banded Neck Tee. I cut this one 2 sizes up for a slouchy look. This extends the upper shoulder out to a very teeny cap sleeve, but if you want your flounce to sit at the shoulder bone, simply trace off the larger size under the arm to the hem on each side and then cut your usual (if smaller) size around the armsceye and shoulder/neckline. 

  1. Measure around the arm openings from the side seam to the shoulder. Measure both front and back. A tip, turn your tape measure on its side to get an accurate measurement. This is the total circumference of your inner circle on the flounce
  2. I then drafted a flounce using two round plates - a saucer and a salad plate (you could use a saucer and a dinner plate.)  My saucer was 21" around, and my armsceye was 20" so I'll have a 1" overlap at the bottom (or I could choose to cut this off.) 
  3. Trace the larger of the two plates on paper. Then, lay the smaller of the two plates in the center (evenly), and trace that. The distance between inner and outer plates is the width of your flounce, less your seam allowance. 
  4. Cut through one side of your flounce, creating an opening in your circle. Cut the inner circle and the outer one. 
  5. Trace this onto your fabric with marking chalk, soap sliver or kids' chalk. Cut out the loop (looks like a doughnut) with a rotary cutter for a clean edge that won't ravel.
  6. You can choose to open up this flounce and attach it right sides to the armsceye as the pattern directs, treating it as a very tiny sleeve, or you can sew the tee's side and shoulder seams and then apply the flounce, overlapping the bottom edges. If you do this, gently curve the edge to meet the inner flounce, so your overlap is smooth and decorative. 
  7. Serge your flounce on
  8. That's it! 

On this tee, you can choose any neckline finish, including the standard band, a reverse-folded band, or a raw edge band, as I've done on my tee. The raw edge band is simply the standard band turned and stitched with the folded side, leaving the raw edge side up for an edgier look.

Embellish your tee or not! Heat Transfer Vinyl, a reverse applique, fabric paint, shibori or dip-dye, tie-dye or applique, it's up to you!

Here's our how-to video showing how to draw and shape the sleeve flounce:

The pattern we used:

Travel Trio One - 1204
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Pattern Hack: Crossover Sleeveless Maxi Dress from a Top Sewing Pattern

Pattern Hack for Beginners: Turning a Knit Top Pattern into a Dress using the Christine Jonson Patterns Tie Back Top

 You’ll use just 3 pattern pieces to hack this top into a stunning sleeveless maxi dress.

You’ll use just 3 pattern pieces to hack this top into a stunning sleeveless maxi dress.

We'll be creating a sleeveless maxi dress with a front crossover wrap but without back ties using the Tie Back Top sewing pattern. Because this pattern is fully lined in the bodice, we can make it sleeveless and still enjoy a completely finished armhole edge AND crossover wrap neck edge! EASY sewing with foolproof results. 

  1. Trace your Tie Back Top back and lower bodice pattern pieces onto paper. Cut them out. 
  2.  Lay the lower bodice on top of the back and line up the hemlines
  3.  Mark on the Back pattern piece where the bodice attaches (minus 5/8" for the bodice seam allowance) Use the DOT on the pattern for the lower bodice as your minus 5/8" mark. 
  4.  Decide how long your dress should be (you can go all the way to the floor if you want!) Measure down from center back neck of the back pattern piece to mark your back hemline depth based on your preferred measurements. Draw a new hemline across at this mark. For my maxi dress, I used 57" inches, the distance from my back neck to the floor on me. But you can go any length you want, from above knee to maxi. 
  5.  Mark out about 3-5" from the top's side seam and draw a new line from the hemline up to the top at the widest point of the notch on the pattern side seam. This will be the new width of the dress at the hem, making an A-line shape. The longer you go, the wider the dress will need to be. At maxi-length, you'll be adding more to the width of the back at the hem (about 11" wider than the top is). We'll show this on the video (and we'll be making an awesome sleeveless maxi-dress version of this dress/top.) I used 20" total as my width for the back pattern piece, as I measured a RTW maxi with an 80" circumference. Since the back pattern piece is 1/4 of the entire maxi, 20" x 4 = 80".  I drew a line from the 20" wide hemline up to the notch on the top pattern's side seam to create my lower dress shape.
  6. Make the lower bodice the same length, by measuring from the back mark that you made down to the back hem. Make your bodice this length to match up with the back pattern piece. Remember, the bodice is shorter than the back, because it attaches under the bust to the upper bodice pieces. 
  7. Cut the dress pieces out: you will be cutting an original back (top length) out of your lining fabric, two front upper bodices out of lining and then a fashion fabric back, a fashion fabric lower bodice, two fashion fabric upper bodices. 
  8. At step 9, of the pattern sewing instructions, you will NOT be sewing the bottom hem closed as per the instructions. 
  9.  If you want to omit the ties on the back of the dress, simply wrap the front ties across and secure them to the side seams BEFORE you sew the side seams. Pin and try on your dress to determine your best fit before you sew. 
  10. Sew the Tie Back Dress exactly as the Tie Back Blouse EXCEPT for the sleeveless modification, sewing the armholes before you turn it right side out
  11.  If you're omitting sleeves, sew the armholes at step 11 of the sewing instructions, and leave an opening in the side seam under one arm for turning. I recommend you mark the opening with a safety pin so you don't accidentally sew your opening closed during construction. 

Trace your back pattern piece onto paper


Using the dot on the lower bodice and matching up the bottom hem of the original top pattern, you can calculate the length of the new lower bodice.



Conmect your hem line to the sideseam at the sideseam notch.


The bodice is shorter than the back because it attaches under the bust. 


The Tie Back Top is an EASY pattern to sew and hack - you'll use just 3 pattern pieces for this maxi-dress hack to create a beautiful summer dress that is dressy enough for a summer wedding, and casual enough for beach and pool wear. 

Tie Back Top 107
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Pattern Hack: Create a long hooded duster cardigan from an existing sewing pattern

Create your own long hooded duster cardigan from an existing sewing pattern! We are going to do an easy modification of the open cardigan-style reversible hoodie pattern from Travel Trio Two to create a long, reversible hooded duster cardigan. This is a beginner-level pattern hack and a great way to get used to modifying patterns that you already have! Plus, we're going to add patch pockets to BOTH sides of the cardigan, because, pockets!

The pattern:

Travel Trio Two Hoodie: a hip-length A-line open front hoodie with neck button/loop closure. Fully lined and reversible. 

The hack:

Lengthen the hoodie to duster length. Check that both front and back pattern pieces retain their hem curve AND are the same length along the sideseams. We'll draft a pocket pattern and discuss what we need to to stabilize the pocket depending on fabric choices.

  1. Using a sheet of large paper (freezer paper, kraft paper or paper by the roll like I have here), lay the back pattern piece of Travel Trio Two with the cut on fold edge on the edge of the paper
  2. Trace the sideseam, armscye, shoulder and neckline on the paper, transferring any markings
  3. Measure your duster length from the bone on the back of your neck to your desired length. To do this solo, I follow the tape measure down the back of my legs with my hand, til I reach the spot I want, then I bend and let go of the tape at my neck and hold the tape to my body. I can then reach back and see what that number is on the tape. Or you can mark a doorway opening with your back neck measurement and your knee or calf with a pencil and measure the door frame using your tape measure
  4. Measure from the CB neckline along the edge of the paper to your desired length (plus hem allowance). Mark that on the paper at the paper's edge.
  5. Using a French curve ruler, lay the ruler long the existing hem shape to transfer the shape to your hem. OR you may simply slide down the pattern to your new mark, trace the shape and slide it back up.
  6. Using a straight edge, lay it on the sideseam of your pattern and bring it down to your hem length and draw straight out. It will be at an A-line angle. 
  7. Cut out your pattern piece
  8. Connect your hem curve to your sideseam by drawing a line between them
  9. Repeat for the front. BUT, be sure to lay the back pattern piece on top of the front pattern piece, matching shoulder seams. Ensure that your sideseam length between your newly drafted patterns match.


To draft a pocket:

  1. You can use your pattern envelope to create a pocket
  2. Trace it onto paper, marking 1" down from one of the short ends. This will become the pocket's folded-over topstitched edge
  3. You can interface the whole pocket with knit interfacing, or you can line it with a woven fabric of similar care (e.g. cotton/cotton lycra, or rayon Bemberg lining/rayon lycra, or poly with poly/lycra knits.) If you line it, you will cut a second pocket but cut it off at the 1" mark. 
  4. Cut out your pocket template, fold over the top and see how you like the size - bear in mind, you will turn under the edges of the pocket 1/2" on the three remaining sides and topstitch the pocket in place on the front of the long hoodie
  5. Pin the pocket template to the unsewn fronts of your pattern, to determine placement that is ideal for you!
  6. Cut out two pockets per side of your hoodie (4 pockets total).
  7. Interface the top 2" of the pocket
  8. Fold the pocket top down 1" and topstitch this in place
  9. Press under the remaining 3 sides. You can secure these with Seam a Steam first.
  10. Using Washaway Wonder Tape or blue painter's tape, tape your pocket down to your hoodie, measuring UP from your bottom hem and in from the center front to ensure you have it in the same place on both front pieces.
  11. Topstitch the pocket in place on all four fronts
  12. Sew the hoodie as the instructions indicate

That's it! an easy pattern hack to make a long hooded duster cardigan that is reversible!

Fabric suggestions:

For cooler weather: lightweight sweater knits, French terry, ITY, Brushed polyester knit

For warmer weather: Haatchi sheer knits, linen knit, stretch mesh (embroidered, printed), crochet knits, rayon/lycra jersey, 

Travel Trio Two 331
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Sew a gorgeous knit pleat-front dress for spring and summer

Dresses are just about the easiest outfit to style and wear, and the Pleat Front Dress is no exception. You can make this dress in any sleeve length - from long sleeves, to 3/4, elbow or even sleeveless and wear it all year round! Let's explore the knit Pleat Front Dress for spring and summer.

Spring's variable temperatures mean you might be shivering in the morning and soaking up the sun in the afternoon. The Pleat Front Dress can be made with 3/4 or elbow-length sleeves and looks fabulous under the Christine Jonson Moto Jacket for cooler mornings. It also looks great under the cropped version of the  Double Collar Princess Jacket and under the knee-length version of the Easy Coat. 

If you're going south, or you're already in warm spring weather headed to summer, try the Pleat Front Dress made sleeveless. Like most Christine Jonson Patterns that are sleeveless, the bodice is fully lined, including the armscyes, meaning you do not have to hem or face these and they come out perfect every time! The sleeveless version will take you through all of summer's heat, as the pleated, gracefully wider skirt floats away from the body. 

Styling the Pleat Front Dress couldn't be easier! In the cooler months, you can wear leggings with booties or tights and boots, and in the summer, you can slip on a wedge or strappy flat sandal and be out the door in moments. We love the Pleat Front Dress in ITY knit prints - ITY is easy to sew, holds a press well, and comes in gorgeous prints. But we also love the dress in rayon/lycra solids for summer's heat. Try it in an Athletic Brushed Poly for a wicking sleeveless summer dress that you can wear over a swim suit or over luxe sneakers as you ride your bicycle. 

The Pleat Front Dress looks fabulous on everyone - the pleats are up high under the bust, the V is moderate coverage, and the skirt floats over the hips, while accentuating the narrower ribcage that most women feature. If you're concerned about windy days on a bicycle with a fuller skirt, make the fun and functional Body Shaper. The Body Shaper is a unique design and construction that holds you in, but doesn't leave ripples or bumps like making "short leggings" would. 

In these photos Xiaoyi wears the Pleat Front Dress with loafers and styles it with a coat and bag for a chic look. You can also go casual with strappy sandals and a sun hat, or sneakers. 

Pleat Front Dress 630
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Body Shaper e816
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The Iconic Moto Jacket Sewing Pattern for Knit Fabrics

It's the cool-girl jacket. The jacket that finishes every outfit with a distinctive air of chic.

First launched in 1990, the Moto jacket from Christine Jonson Patterns was unique among the iconic jackets. Made in a stretch cotton/lycra, the original Moto was an instant boutique success! It was never released as a sewing pattern…until now.

The new Christine Jonson Moto takes inspiration from that original Moto and updates it with a slightly longer hem, raised shoulder line, narrower sleeve and a modern, shaped cut that fits amazingly well. Designed for the intermediate sewist, the unlined Moto has a classic offset zipper, stitched down facings on a designed-for-stretch-knits jacket.

Beginner sewists looking to expand their skillset will find good teaching instructions in this jacket – from how to set in a zipper in stretch knit fabrics, to how to topstitch knits and turn collars and hems crisply.

And the style? Well, it’s the iconic Moto. It adds instant cool to anything you wear it with, from floaty long skirts, to wide leg pants, to jeans to leggings. Wear it over a dress for an unexpected contrast.

All the Motos you love:

 Our Moto Inspiration  Pinterest board  is active! We've posted our favorite moto jackets for inspiration for looks, colors and how to wear. 

Our Moto Inspiration Pinterest board is active! We've posted our favorite moto jackets for inspiration for looks, colors and how to wear. 

Choosing your Moto's color may be the hardest task! Black (of course), but also navy, red, gray, camel, taupe, blush, cobalt…and prints. Stable stretch knits like ponte (or scuba) are perfect for the Moto.

About the sewing pattern:

With more than 50 pages and 60 color photos showing each step (with notes from Christine), you'll sew your Motos with confidence. Just follow along, take your time and enjoy crafting your first of many Moto jackets. The sewing pattern comes with A4/Letter tiled and A0 copyshop printable files, plus instructions the pattern envelope front and back cover, size chart and how to use a digital download pattern instructions. 

Tips: We all love to tape up our patterns using a doorwall or large window. Don't trim the page edges, but rather tape them up to the window during daylight (or porch light) hours, use a glue stick and tape each sheet together. Glue sticks are inexpensive, work better and faster than tape. Each page of the A4/Letter tiled pages have a notch to match on all four sides for accurate pattern assembly. 

You'll need 2 3/8  (60" wide) to 3 1/8" (45") Ponté knit fabric - which comes in a zillion colors for your moto. You can also make it in (preshrunk) cotton/lycra and Scuba. Stretch is key; you can get away with stretch wovens as long as they have enough stretch.

See our customer-sewn Moto Jackets!

Top row: Renee, Sharon, Renee, Sharon, Renee, Mary (last 3). These lovely sewists created their own Moto jackets for the first time!







Spring Break - Sewing a Capsule Wardrobe

Planning, sewing, packing and styling a spring break capsule wardrobe

Heading off to a sunny clime for Spring Break?  There’s nothing more enjoyable for a sewist than planning and sewing something new to take on your trip! Science tells us it’s the planning and anticipation that makes us happy, so let’s get really happy and plan AND sew a spring break capsule wardrobe.

We selected 11 pieces that we knew we needed for our trip:

Each of these pieces can be worn mixed and matched with the other and it all fits in a small carryon suitcase. Add a pair of luxe sneakers, a pair of flip flops and a pair of dressy sandals and you're all set!

Top row: Pleat Front Dress, Perfect Pant Wide Leg with Keyhole Top #1010 (tunic length, no keyhole, reversible), Keyhole top again, with keyhole but left open, reverse side of tunic-length keyhole top and shorts from H&M, hat from Sunday Afternoons.

Second row: Keyhole top, shorts.  Tankini (Kwik Sew) with Swing Jacket lengthened to long cardigan, Hat from Pantropic, Three Tees cap sleeve tee, long swing cardi, shorts. 

Third row: wide leg linen pants from Taper & Wide Leg Pants (made in a woven, with tucks at the hem), swimsuit and swing cardi.  Rash guard/swim tee made from Travel Trio Three Raglan Tee, and swimsuit (Lands' End.)