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Blog + Tips




Filtering by Category: Design & Style Tips

Sewing Summer Shorts from a Pants Pattern

Christine Jonson Patterns

You have a great fitting pants pattern. One that you've made several times, it's a TNT (tried 'n true) pattern for you. So why reinvent the wheel? Use it to make shorts!

For this example, we'll be using the super-easy and very basic #1010 Trouser Pants in our collection. This pant is so simple! It has a front piece, a back piece and a facing for the front and back. It has a back zipper so you don't have to worry about setting a fly zipper for your first time sewing shorts. And you can customize the length - from Bermuda (just above the knee) to short-short at 3" inseam.  If you want to wear them with a blazer (a trendy, youthful look), or a long draped vest, as long as the jacket or vest is open, you can let the jacket or vest hem dip below your shorts (note, we changed this recommendation since last year! It seems longer sweaters with shorter shorts are all the rage.)

Some of these shorts have some fun details - try rickrack in the seam allowances for the top waistband, and sew it to the underside of the shorts hem to let the rickrack peek out. Sew a custom belt and add belt loops, or create an elastic waist using our Wide Leg pants. You can also make shorts from a heavier knit fabric, such as ponte or ITY, or from a stretch woven fabric.

Sewing your own shorts from a pants sewing pattern

1) Measure your ideal inseam depth - find a pair of shorts you like and measure those, OR pick a spot where your thigh starts to taper toward your knee. 3", 5", 7" and 10" are standard ready-to-wear lengths. 

2) Mark from the inseam on the pattern down to the length that is ideal for you

3) Decide if you want a cuff or not. If you do, add 3.5" to allow for a 1.5" finished cuff.

4) Trace your pattern off onto your fabric with kids' chalk,  stopping at the new hem mark on each sideseam. Connect the sideseams with a horizontal hem line using your chalk.

5) Sew shorts as you would sew the pants

6) Put on, admire your legs in a mirror and enjoy! 

The Upscale Hoodie

Christine Jonson Patterns

You know you love it, your favorite hoodie sweatshirt. You love it so much, you'd love to wear it 7 days a week! Why not? All you need is an upscale hoodie. The Travel Trio Two's reversible hoodie jacket is just that. This elegant, flyaway cardigan hoodie can go from the weekend to work, and give you double the wearing, depending on your fabric choices.

Travel Trio Two's upscale hoodie pattern comes paired with a great funnelneck top with 3/4 sleeves and a long or knee-length wrap skirt - the combo is perfect for work. Here, we're showing the hoodie with jeans and boots for a great weekend casual look, or with your favorite leggings and running shoes for workout wear.

So, just how DO you wear a hoodie to work? Fabric choice is key. A low key print paired with black is a classic look - wear the black side out, and let the low-key print peek out at the collar and hood. Wear the hoodie with the knee length wrap skirt and heels or tall boots for a chic, but comfortable look. You can also layer the hoodie over a sleek short sleeved tee, and under a blazer. Layering a hoodie under a blazer is perfect for a meeting in the boardroom, the hood can hide under your jacket; pop it out and over the top of your blazer for after-work drinks with friends.

The hoodie is becoming more of an acceptable casual workplace garment - if you're in a creative field like marketing or retail, you can definitely get away with wearing a hoodie at work. If you're in a conservative field like banking, you'll need to tuck that hood in under your blazer til after work. And if you're in technology, your hoodie may be a required work uniform (the soccer sandals are optional.)  If you're a tech manager, wearing an upscale hoodie does put you more in connection with your younger sweatshirt-hoodie-wearing staff without completely succumbing to a too-casual look.

DIY Sew a Drape-Front Cardigan Jacket

Christine Jonson Patterns

The cardi-jacket has become a wardrobe staple. Many of us who have moved to a casual workplace now wear sweaters instead of suit jackets, and we certainly spend our weekend in comfortable knits.

Travel Trio One's Drape Front Jacket is an asymmetrical jacket with a gathered-and-draped side tie. The jacket is easy to wear and looks great open or closed.

Let's explore this jacket in more detail. On our model, Sherry, we've paired the drape-front jacket with a simple textured white tee (Three Tees, cap sleeve version), jeans and boots. This great casual look could be scaled up with slim black trousers and high heels for a daytime or evening look. Adding bright accessories, like the magenta scarf with the Drape Front Jacket transform the tee-and-jeans look from ho-hum to wow.

Looking inside this jacket's pattern envelope, you will see a jacket front pattern piece with a clever darted drape. If you simply gathered up the side of a rectangular jacket, you'd end up with too much bulk to tie, let alone wear in a sleek silhouette. The Drape Front Jacket's darted drape reduces bulk, creates a trim front tie and flatters the wearer.

But if you want to make a non-draped version, there is a front pattern piece without the drape that creates a sleek front panel that, much like the passionately-loved wrap dress, creates a slim silhouette on all figures. The drape front jacket's construction in a drapey knit - this is a semi-sheer sweater knit, a perfect choice for the jacket - means that it skims the body gracefully, and has the coverage of a sweater coat.

Styling tips for the Drape Front Jacket from Travel Trio One

For a dance-sport-yoga look, wear the Drape Front Jacket over your yoga top and leggings with athletic shoes. Mix it up on the weekends and wear jeans, a tee and boots with the Drape Front Jacket (like Sherry, here). For a spring version, wear colored jeans, a print tee and the Drape Front Jacket in a pastel rayon/lycra knit. Go beachy with wide-leg linen pants over your swimsuit and toss on a gauzy light sweater knit Drape Front Jacket for a great apres-pool bar look as the sun goes down.

The Drape Front Jacket also goes upscale to work - pair it with a slim pencil skirt for a chic wrapped separates look. Or try it with slim black pants, high heels and a silky jersey knit top.

For evening, the Drape Front Jacket is a great layer over a long slim column dress. Try this for evening in a sheer black sweater knit over a dress with your best jewelry.

The Drape Front Jacket is part of the very-popular Travel Trio series and comes with a sleek banded-neck tee, and boot cut front-seamed pants with a flat stretch waistband.

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DIY! A perfect knit blazer sewing pattern....

Christine Jonson Patterns

We love the jacket. It adds that perfect 'third layer' that pulls together an outfit. Jeans and a tee shirt? No problem - a jacket or blazer instantly polishes the look. And with unlined jackets, not only is the sewing EASY, but the jackets feel like sweaters! 

Let's get some inspiration and then look at interior jacket construction.

The Boyfriend Jacket:

The Boyfriend Jacket is slightly oversized and longer than a fitted jacket. It's designed with a slightly-off-the-shoulder line that needs at least a thin shoulder pad to keep it's shape (none of those 1" 1980s pads, just a very thin pad, even one you make out of a couple of layers of interfacing and fashion fabric will do.) 

The Boyfriend begs to be worn with skinny or boyfriend jeans (slim) or even a slim bootcut jean. Over tees, chambray shirts and even print blouses, the Boyfriend is your go-to jacket for weekends and casual workwear.  Click on the carousel of Sherry below,  in the Boyfriend Jacket, in a pinstripe woven fabric to scroll right and see all the images. 

The Boyfriend jacket has bust darts in the larger sizes for shaping. Simply fold and stitch the dart on your sewing machine (straight stitch) and press the dart down toward the bottom of the jacket, construct the rest of the jacket as usual.

The Fitted Jacket:

Fitted Jackets - such as a classic notch collar jacket or a shirt-collar style jacket - all feature seaming details that shape the jacket - and the body's visual curves - into a sleek line. They're of course a classic suit jacket, but we like them far better with jeans. You can do a lot with a classic jacket that is unlined. 

Boucle, wool tweed, wool flannel, linen, denim, printed canvas cottons and home decorating fabrics, jacquards all look great in fitted jackets. Of course, don't ignore the knits either - ponte and cotton-lycra make delightful jackets that feel like sweatshirts! 

The possibilities are endless with the choices of both woven and knit fabrics for classic fitted jackets. A jacquard home-dec fabric in a jacket is a very upscale option that adds polish to a tee and jeans for a date night out. But that same jacket in a cotton/lycra with a contrast print cotton/lycra under the collar goes easily to the kids' sports practice, too. 

Here are a few inspirations of what you can do with jackets with color variations and styling:

These jackets are both made of wool, feature classic buttons and a contrast under collar. Skip those complicated pockets but do add the fun buttons to the sleeves of your jackets. Shown with classic striped tees and jeans, these jackets will stand the test of time in your wardrobe. 

Fitted jackets are (typically) shorter than the Boyfriend style, but the Princess Jacket also comes in a long length, which looks incredible with a knee-length dress. 

Make sure it's an easy to construct jacket!

Jackets can be one of those "I'm afraid of a big, complicated project" types of sewing projects. These jackets are EASY to sew! All are unlined and feature serger contstruction, professional ready-to-wear sewing methods for perfectly pointed collars and stitched-down facings to keep the interiors of the jackets as beautiful as the outside. They are great first-time jacket projects and even the Fitted Jacket, with it's two-piece sleeve, and body panels, is a less-than-four-hour jacket sewing project. You can have a whole wardrobe of jackets to wear over your tees and jeans.

Styling Jackets

Of course, they look great over jeans - of all types. They can go over your dressy trousers  and pencil skirts for work, but they can also layer over leggings (Boyfriend, Inset Jacket and Princess Jacket), or maxi skirts (Fitted, Princess Jacket made in a cropped high-hip length.)

Under collars, double collars all look fabulous in contrast or coordinating fabrics. Interior back-neck facings look incredible using a contrast or print fabric (scraps from other projects are perfect for this) with your custom labels sewn on. You'll be proud to swing that jacket over the back of the chair when out with friends to show off your creativity.  These looks, from our Pinterest board (click on the image to go to Pinterest) show the diversity and polish a jacket can give even to a simple outfit. 

Sewing a shirt-tail hem tee shirt

Christine Jonson Patterns

By Ann Siegle

UPDATED! Get the FREE downloadable Shirt Tail Hem Extension and trace your own!

The example tee shirt is an open scoop neck tee with a drop shoulder and a wide band for the sleeve and sleeve hem. The bottom of the tee has a shaped shirttail hem and the tee is boxy/loose fitting. To recreate this look, we need to look for a tee that has the drop shoulder and the loose fit. Three Tees from Christine Jonson Patterns is a perfect starting point for a basic tee alteration. This is a beginner project for pattern alteration and requires only a piece of kids’ chalk and a ruler. You can do it!

 This is our tee inspiration. Key details: dropped shoulder, wide band at sleeve hem and a back shirttail hem, loose fit.

This is our tee inspiration. Key details: dropped shoulder, wide band at sleeve hem and a back shirttail hem, loose fit.

Three Tees has both a front and back tee pattern piece. The difference here is the neckline in the back. To create the wider scoop, we will be using the front pattern piece for both front and back of the tee and making a slight alteration to the width and depth of that neckline. If you’re using a drapey sweater knit, you won’t need to alter the front neckline at all – the soft stretchiness of the sweater knit will do this for you. If you are using a firmer knit, you will have to alter it slightly. (see example)

Making a shirttail hem:

Lay out your front pattern piece on the fold. Using your ruler, measure from the bottom of the hem of the tee cut off length marking. Making a graceful arc (you may use a French curve for this, or draw it freehand as I have done) up to the sideseam, creating the shirt tail hem. Note, you are not creating a new pattern piece or altering your pattern. You are simply drawing right on your fabric the appropriate curve.  Cut this pattern piece out. Lay this newly shaped pattern piece again on the fold and cut out a second. Voila! Front and back pattern pieces!

DIY Shirttail Hem on a Tee Shirt Sewing Pattern


Construct the tee as indicated in the directions – shoulder seams and sideseam. Do not finish the neckline just yet.

Finish the shirttail hem with an edge serge, turn the hem under once and press, and again and press. Topstitch the whole shirttail hem.

Create a banded sleeve hem:

Measure the sleeve width of your cut out pattern piece. Measure out a rectangle the length of your pattern piece x 8”. This, when folded and sewn to the sleeve edge like a band, will create a 3.5” wide band on the sleeve+hem, similar to the example shown above.

Sew the short ends of the sleeve band together. Fold the band in half, wrong sides together. You now have a tube the width of your sleeve opening. Line up the underarm seam of the tee with the band’s seam, right sides together. Serge the band on to the sleeve end, fold down and press.

Creating a banded neckline:For a cool banded neck shown in the example tee, you will measure your neckline of your tee. Subtract one inch from this measurement. Cut a rectangle this length x 2”. Serge the short ends together, right sides together. Fold the band in half, wrong sides together to create a narrow 1” band. Place the band’s center back seam against the WRONG side of the tee (yes!) and pin the band ‘s center front to the center front of the tee. Pin the band evenly around the tee neckline. The WRONG side of the tee is against the RIGHT side of the band. This is correct.

Serge the band on to the neckline. Now, turn the tee right side out and flip the band right over your serging and press. You will enclose the serged edge AND have a neat folded edge of the band. Pin and topstitch the band (it will need to stretch slightly as you go, covering the serged seam). Voila! A neatly finished neckline band.


For more details about this tee, click on over to Ann's blog post: Sewing a mixed-media shirttail tee.