Tackling the Harrison Shirt

I’m really into my commitment to sewing more of my wardrobe. It’s gotten me excited to try new things and — if course — picking out the perfect fabrics.

One of the items near the top of my list was Cashmerette’s Harrison button-down shirt. I considered a lot of shirt patterns. This won out because of the beautiful seam lines and cut. I knew it was a style that’s flattering on me and could be a great staple.


A muslin was a must so I started with some fabric from my stash that I save for such occasions. The sizing was spot on! No changes necessary. Well, that would not have been the case if I’d made a sleeve. But I didn’t and the sleeve is a hair more snug in the upper arm than I’d like.

After the muslin, I cut into the beautiful Regent Street lawn I’d gotten specifically for this shirt. It’s so pretty and has a great hand. Perfect for a tailored shirt.


I really took my time on this shirt. There was some unsewing and a fair amount of hand sewing (not called for in the pattern — I just preferred it). And there was one really unfortunate curve clipping incident that required re-cutting and sewing the collar and collar stand. Totally worth it.


In spite of all the care in construction, I still managed to mess up the buttonholes: they’re sewn horizontally instead of vertically. It’s a bummer but most people won’t notice. I also placed the bust apex button a little higher than it should be, which makes a wee bit of gaping possible.

Overall, though, I’m in love with this shirt. It’s comfortable and flattering, the kind of shirt I can see wearing regularly. On my next one, I plan to slash and spread the sleeve and alter the sleeve length since I rarely wear long sleeves. I also plan to fiddle with the hem a little since I’m not much for tucked in tops. And now that there’s a sleeveless shirtdress option, I can see making even more of these for my wardrobe.

Hack that Tote! Blog Tour

hackthattotecoverIt’s been so much fun to read along with each stop of the Hack that Tote! blog tour. I’ve loved seeing what each of the talented folks who’ve taken part have done to tweak the bags from the book to suit their needs. A big “thank you” to these wonderful folks for being a part (be sure to check out each to see what they’ve whipped up and enter their giveaway):

9/27 C&T

9/28 Sue O’Very

9/29 Gen Q Teri Lucas 

9/30 Patty Murphy

10/1 Vanessa Lynch

10/2 Lindsay Conner

10/3 Stephanie Moore

10/4 Katy Cameron

10/5 Kim Niedzwiecki

I wrapped up the book last fall but I’ve continued to play around with different ideas for modifying not only the Basic Tote Bag but many of the projects in the book. I’ll see a shape or a fabric or fun hardware and wonder “how can I use that?” and off I go!

That’s somewhat how this particular hack came to be. I saw a metallic leather bucket bag on a fashion blog and immediately realized how similar it was in shape to the Tote. My plan is to make it metallic leather some day but I had some beautiful metallic champagne vinyl in my stash and got to work.

bucket bag

This bag is closer in proportions to the Goodie Bag with Reverse Applique, with all four sides finishing about the same width. I made one long strap and attached it to the center of the side seams with a nice, big box stitch.

handle stitches

Because I put metal grommets around the top of the bag for the drawstring (which I still need — the silver cord is just a placeholder), I opted to use another piece of the vinyl for the top of the lining. It makes it a bit of a challenge when it comes to pressing the top seam of the bag but I like having the extra durability of the vinyl vs. using a full lining of fabric.

One of the touches that I love is the magnetic closure. The tabs are separate pieces and the vinyl should help them hold up to the wear and tear that happens with this type of bag closure.

magnetic closure

My hope with Hack that Tote! is that you’ll not only love the projects I’ve included but that you’ll be inspired to mix up things and make the bags you sew reflect your style. I’d love to see what you make! Tag your projects #hackthatote or share them to my Facebook Page because show-and-tell is my favorite!

And … C&T Publishing is graciously giving away a copy of Hack that Tote! to one lucky reader of this blog! (Printed copy for those in the U.S.; ebook outside of the U.S.) Simply comment below and tell me a favorite hack from the tour. I’ll use Random.org to choose a winner after 5 p.m. Eastern time on 10/10. Good luck!


The Handmade Wardrobe

After more than two years of working on back-to-back books, I’ve been a little burned out on sewing because I have to. Nothing takes the enjoyment out of something for me quite like the feeling that it’s work.

And, while I do have some things to sew for Hack That Tote!, I am pretty giddy about having little sewing-by-obligation on my plate for the near future. It’s rather liberating, but also a little intimidating. I am far more productive when I have a deadline and a plan. Too many options will often send me into a tailspin of indecisiveness.

For several years, I’ve wanted to sew more of my wardrobe and I realized that putting that into motion would meet two needs — plus I’d end up with (hopefully!) cute clothes! I’ve even made it Pinterest official and created a board for organizing my wardrobe planning.

One of the things that’s held me back from doing this in the past (besides a timing issue) is that I couldn’t find a wardrobe sewing plan that really met my needs. I know a capsule wardrobe works for many folks but I like more variety than that. I like mixing it up! Once I sort of gave myself permission to sew the clothes I want, it all started falling into place.



Right now, I’m planning to add a few more pairs of leggings, jeans (oh, how I’d love to make jeans that actually fit me!), cute tops to wear with leggings, a fall/spring jacket, a cooler weather coat, and even … a bra. Crazy, right?

This is a long-term project, a conscious shift toward sewing for myself and away from buying ready-to-wear that is ultimately disposable. I’m excited to get back to sewing for myself and really pushing myself to make beautiful, well-fitting items that I’ll love.


Stretching Myself

When I’m short on sewing time, I tend to gravitate to knit patterns. They typically are fast to cut and sew, which means I can get something finished — or close to it — in a small amount of time.

I’ve been tinkering with a self drafted leggings pattern for a while now and was eager to get it right. Don’t get me wrong: It’s not a particularly difficult task. I just tend to half heartedly do my measurements or just guess at the numbers, which doesn’t lead to the best results.

But I’m counting down to the arrival of some cute Alexander Henry jersey at work and wanted to get my leggings pattern down so I could make a pair when I can get my hands on the fabric. I already had a cute knit by Patty Young for Riley Blake on hand for my first “real” pair, so I braved the convection oven that is my studio (the AC is not working) and got to work.

Another use for random leftover fabrics: making a muslin/toile/mock up.

A photo posted by Mary Abreu (@thatcraftaddict) on

As I mentioned the other day, I have a lot of odds and ends in my knit stash and I scrounged around to find some pieces that would work for a muslin (or toile or mock up). I use up lots of weird pieces of fabric making muslins, especially when I’m not worried about it being wearable. For these leggings, I’ve mostly had issues with fitting the rise and through the thigh, so I didn’t worry about cutting full-length pants.

A photo posted by Mary Abreu (@thatcraftaddict) on

Success! I did end up taking 1.5″ off the top of the waist and I need to add another inch to the hem but I’m happy with the overall fit. Plus the fabric is ridiculously cute. Now, if it will only get cool enough to wear them…

Not ready or interested in drafting your own leggings totally from scratch? Pick up a copy of the Espresso leggings pattern by Cake. It walks you through the process of drafting a custom-fit pair of leggings!

Back to School

My daughter starts sixth grade today. I’m not quite sure how that happened. Part of me thinks she should still be toddling about on chubby baby legs and taking naps. She’s mostly excited about starting her middle school adventures (and maybe a tiny bit nervous) and I decided some mama made clothing was in order.

I have tons of odd pieces of knit jersey in my stash, leftover bits from things I’ve made myself or Miss L, as well as random cuts that I’ve picked up here and there. I’ve been loving the look of mixed fabric raglan tees and decided those would be a great way to use up some of those scraps.

A photo posted by Mary Abreu (@thatcraftaddict) on

One of my favorite raglan patterns is by Jalie, in part because of the range of sizes included in the pattern. Not many patterns fit toddler to plus size! After updating her measurements, I traced off the correct size and cut the first tee. Once I sewed and checked the fit, I started the assembly line. Before too long, I finished four tops for her — and used up a good portion of my knit scraps.

Made for Me

I’ve been trying to sew more for myself lately. It’s sometimes a challenge, carving out time to sew, and I sometimes feel guilty for sewing for me instead of sewing for work. Honestly, if I don’t make time to sew for fun, sewing just becomes all work and that’s a total bummer.

A photo posted by Mary Abreu (@thatcraftaddict) on


Intown Quilters had a major sale on Kokka fabrics, so I picked up this ridiculous unicorn double gauze to make into a top for myself. Some people might say a woman of my age and size shouldn’t wear such a fabric and to those people I say, “neener neener!” I grabbed a copy of the Willow Tank pattern from Grainline Studio and whipped out a quick muslin one Saturday morning. There are only a few pattern pieces, which is a definite plus in my book. I’m also a huge fan of the bust darts. My least favorite part of the pattern: the bindings for the neck and arm holes. I was on the fence about using the double gauze for the bindings and used them anyway. I sewed in one and decided I had zero interest in pressing under the world’s tiniest binding edge, so I ran it and the others under the serger to finish the single raw edge. So much easier!



I couldn’t wait to wear the finished top out of the house! I paired it with a denim mini and my denim Fluevog Prepare Guides (they go with everything!), and threw on a Target necklace (picked up on clearance) to complete the look. I’m really happy with how the tank fits and plan to make a few more with some lawn and double gauze fabrics in my stash.

Comfy Christmas PJ Pants

My favorite ever pair of pajama pants are some jersey knit ones with Santas all over them, purchased at Old Navy years ago. So many years ago that I don’t even remember when I bought them. They are so soft and comfortable, I pretty much wear them around the house all year long in spite of the seasonal fabric.

We stocked some cute Christmas knit fabrics from Riley Blake at the shop and Sarah suggested making a pair of knit PJ pants with them. Both of them. It seemed a little wild but I figured, “why not?”

They turned out so cute! I used an Indygo Junction pattern but I think they’d work for any pattern with a single pants leg. Or even a two-piece pants leg.


I made a couple of modifications. I cut a 4″ piece of each fabric the same width as the bottom of the pants leg, sewed the short ends together, then folded in half wrong sides together and sewed it to the bottom of each leg. This made the pants just  tad longer and added an extra bit of fun.

Also, I was out of 3/4″ elastic so I used some 1″ wide boxer elastic I had on hand instead. I don’t normally serge the elastic to the fabric but I did for these just because.

Miss L loves them and was bummed when I told her they were going to the shop to hang as a sample. Fortunately I made them a little big so that they’ll still fit next year — not that I care if she wears them the rest of the year.

And one for me

I always feel compelled to sew something to wear at Quilt Market. I’m not quite sure why that is, but I’m inevitably sitting at the sewing machine a few days before I leave, trying to make a new garment for the occasion.

May’s Quilt Market in Minneapolis was no exception. I’d had the Out & About Dress from Sew Caroline on my list for a while, and the fabric was already washed and ready to cut. Because this was my first time making this pattern, I pulled out some odd cuts of leftover knits and mocked up the bodice to check the fit, adding just a hair to the bodice bottom to move the waistline a little closer to my actual waist. Perfect on the first try!



I modified the skirt portion of the dress to be more of an A-line rather than gathered to the waist. I think the style just works better for my shape.

Sarah talked me into using this Robert Kaufman print of multicolor mustaches instead of the polka dot fabric I’d first picked up. I really love the Laguna jersey and this fabric is really no crazier than any of my funky leggings, so I went for it.

I’m happy with how it turned out and can’t wait for the weather to cool off in the fall so I can wear it again.