Cherry Blossoms and Honey Bees (McCall's 7544 + free embroidery pattern!)

Thank you to McCall Pattern Company for partnering on this post.

Good morning! I'm so excited to be sharing this top with you--it may look simple but it's hours of work learning a new skill and embroidering a pretty floral yoke on this otherwise simple linen top. McCall's 7544 caught my eye as soon as I saw it in the McCall's spring lookbook, and I had intended to make it in a cotton shirting or oxford cloth before I saw embroidery popping up everywhere and decided to make a pretty linen blouse with an embroidered yoke.

This is a total mash-up of views--I used the short sleeves and pleated front piece of view A. My front is gathered, but view A is much narrower than than the gathered views, and I knew I didn't need tons and tons of gathered fabric in front, especially with a bouncy fabric like linen. (The width at hem for size 10 is 52.5" for view A or 58" for views B, C, & D.) With such a voluminous top, I wanted the sleeves to be slightly shorter than written, so instead of shortening the pattern pieces, I cuffed them for a little added dimension. After the shirt was complete, I went back and forth and almost cut it into a crop top (how cute would that be!!) but finally decided to keep the length--I'll just have to make another version, next time cropped!

McCall's 7544 is perfect for an embroidery beginner like myself because the yoke is fairly small. This still took hours (and a decent amount of careful unpicking) but I found that I really liked having a project to work on in the evenings with Death in Paradise on in the background. In true Allie style, I went all out and decided not to stick to a simple, monotone embroidery design or a pre-made pattern. Instead, I checked out every embroidery book from the library and decided to use all of them and do a little bit of everything. This design, which I made myself, has backstitch, satin stitch, lazy daisies, all different weights and colors of floss, two types of bugs, and even a tiny little spider web if you look closely.

Luckily for you, I've drawn this up as an embroidery pattern, so you can join me in beginners embroidery and make your own! I really like the bees and spider--so much so that I took these photos in front of a bee-covered wall--but if you want a classically pretty floral-only design, it's easy enough to leave them out and add more tiny flowers (those are called lazy daisies and they. are. addictive). You can download the pattern for free here!

This pattern is designed for McCall's 7544 in size 10, but it's flexible--you could certainly fit this onto a size 6 or 8 yoke, or spread it out (and add a few more lazy daisies around the edges) to fill a larger size. If this blousey top isn't your style, you could also rearrange the two springs on either side of any neckline! (I'd be tempted to flip them and put them on either side of this faux-wrap bodice but it would also be pretty on view D of this top.) You'll need about 10 skeins of embroidery floss, a hoop, and a needle, all of which will set you back around $20--or wait until JoAnn's has an embroidery floss sale. If you decide to make it, please let me know and tag me on instagram--I'd love love love to see what you make!!

Do I now want to embroider bees on everything I own? Yes, yes I do. What about you? Have you done any embroidery? Would you? Or are you more of an instant-gratification sewer?


Photography by Alex Craig.

ps: honeybees are one of our most important pollinators and are in danger! learn more about honeybees from the Honeybee Conservancy and consider planting a pretty and pollinator-friendly bee garden.

5 ways to wear White Denim for Spring (Closet Case Ginger Jeans)

Thank you to Hart's Fabric for providing the fabric for this post. For more details on these white jeans, head over to the Hart's Fabric blog!

I've wanted white jeans for ever but I've never bought any--I could never find just the right pair and so I chickened out every time. When Harts Fabric got this amazing designer white denim in stock, I obviously knew it was fate and that I just needed to buckle down and make my third pair of jeans (that's a phrase I never thought I'd be saying, y'all). These are the high-rise Gingers... and for more details, you'll have to pop over to my post on the Harts Fabric blog!

Keep reading for five simple ways to style white denim for spring...

Gingham Off-The-Shoulder Top (McCall's 7573)

Thank you to Harts Fabric for providing the fabric for this post, and thank you for supporting the sponsors that make this blog possible!

McCall's 7573 was one of those patterns that I just had to buy as soon as I saw it. In fact, I had designed something similar to this pattern this winter and was planning on doing some creating pattern hacking to achieve this style, but then the new spring line was released, so thank you, McCall's, for saving me a lot of annoying drafting work! I knew this pattern would look great in everything from a bouncy linen to a drapey rayon challis (and I have some of the latter in black that I think will make a great night-out top) but I wanted to try it out in this amazing print from Harts Fabric--who wouldn't love a springy top in bright pink gingham(If you were wondering what this pattern looks like in a quilting-weight cotton, here you go!)

I've never had a lot of cute tops and now that I've been making more tops, I thought I ought to have some casual shorts to pair them with, so I just got this pair of dark denim shorts from Grana this week. These are my first pair of shorts in about 10 years--I generally wear skirts rather than shorts and I feel like I'm showing so much leg! I'm pretty sure that's just my being paranoid though, and this outfit was perfect for a casual Sunday spent getting brunch with my husband and then grilling out with a bunch of doggos at my pretty friend Lea's house. I got these because I liked that they were dark wash--although you can't tell here they're pretty high-waisted and would look very cute with a more pin-up style outfit too--but now I'm almost tempted to get a second pair either in a light, distressed wash or maybe white? (More white!) Or I could make some... do you know of any bloggers who have made Ginger short shorts?

I made a few slight changes to the finishing of the pattern. First, you'll notice that there is some slight gathering in the shoulders of my version where there is none on the pattern envelope. I'm not sure if I should size down or if it is due to my fabric pick, but the sleeves didn't lay flat against my arm. To prevent them from sticking out awkwardly, I inserted some elastic into the bias tape I used to finish all the edges. The bias tape is another change from the pattern as written; the instructions have you fold under and top stitch the fabric for the sleeves, ruffle, and hem, but I think bias tape gives a much neater finish. Also, I think the ruffle with the sleeves is way overkill--I'd like to make a few more versions of this pattern (the closed shoulder one especially) but I don't think I'll be using those sleeve pieces at all.

Is it just me or do most people sew tons of tops and less by way of dresses, pants, and skirts? I never spent any time making tops and past Me Made Mays I've really felt the pinch, but this year I feel way more prepared! Speaking of #mmmay17, we're half way through... how's it going?


ps: i also think this top would be so cute in this floral rayon, this pretty linen, or this dotty lawn!

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Ruffles on Ruffles (Honig Designs Athena)

Happy Saturday! I don't usually post during weekends but I just couldn't help myself this once--there's a new pattern out there that I wanted to share! Elise over at Honig Design has been working hard to release her second pattern, the Athena blouse, and it's out today!! (And y'all, it's only six dollars...)

I tested Elise's last pattern here; it was thoughtfully designed, well-drafted, and I loved the classic shape, so I was thrilled to test her second offering. The Athena has a pleated peplum and dart tucks in the bodice for a soft, feminine look, and three quarter sleeves. You may notice that only about half of that description applies to my version--since I wanted a summer top, I left off the sleeves (although they really are the perfect length) and added ruffles at the neck and little ruffle cap-sleeves instead of the longer length sleeves provided. The Athena isn't written with these details, but as usual I couldn't help but go a little overboard, adding extra frills to this already ultra-feminine design.

High necks with ruffles are everywhere right now... I believe it's part of the Gunne Sax 70s-does-Edwardian throwback fashion that has also spawned the off-shoulder and yoke ruffles and the statement sleeve. They are super easy to make too! Just measure your neckline, then cut a strip of fabric twice that length and 3" wide. Fold in half and stitch closed the ends, turn and press. Then gather the long open side and insert it between your shell and your lining, binding, or facing.

For the cap sleeve ruffles, do the same thing, except measuring from the front shoulder to back, not all the way around your arm. I curved the ends of my ruffle but you can also leave them squared off for a different look! And you can do this in any seam--princess seams, pockets...

Now that I've added this extra-feminine detail to the Athena, I want to put it on everything I make! I don't know if you remember this J. Crew ruffle neck sweatshirt from a few years ago, but guess who just got the Named Clothing Sloane sweatshirt pattern from Indiesew...  now to get some sweatshirt fabric! What are you going to add ruffles to?


ps: my embroidered top (M7544) is coming along so nicely... i am so excited to share it with you when it's complete!! 

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White Out (Jennifer Lauren Hunter Tank)

This pattern was provided by Indiesew as part of their blogger network.

In past spring seasons I've craved color and prints, but this year, I'm gravitating towards white, white, white. Maybe it's because it's the color of the suffragettes or maybe it's just because I've never made a lot of white clothes before and my closet is lacking this fresh, crisp shade, but I recently placed a huge fabric order and all of it was white.  These are first two makes from this haul: a seersucker tie-front top (Jennifer Lauren's Hunter Tank) and a pretty eyelet skirt.

I've had my eye on this tank ever since it was released but never purchased it because it didn't come with sleeves, and I really thought that if only it had sleeves, it would be a great layering piece popped on over a sleeveless dress to give the dress a different look. As is, it's still really cute as a stand-alone top! I never make pleated skirts but this pretty eyelet was begging to be pleated rather than gathered, and I love the way it turned out, don't you? I meant to line it with a white cotton lawn, but after consulting with Rachel and Maddie I decided to leave it unlined and then wear a slip underneath. This way I can wear it with different colored slips if I want, or wear it sans slip as a bathing suit cover up (I love this idea). I did feel a little racy with my slip showing and had to keep reminding myself it's exactly the same as if it were lined!

I'd still like to make a sleeved version of the Hunter, and I think I'll try to steal the sleeves from a different pattern (by grafting the armholes of a sleeved pattern onto the body of another, you can easily add sleeves to a sleeveless pattern) but I'm not quite sure how well it will work since it's bias-cut. Even without sleeves, though, it's a sweet, simple pattern with a very pretty result. Mine is underlined in cotton lawn to minimize the sheerness of the seersucker, but without that, it's just two pattern pieces and some bias binding--very simple indeed!

During construction, I took a bunch of width out of the center front seam, and I noticed a little bit of extra vertical length in the center seam too. I was quite careful not to stretch out the bias edges during sewing so I suspect that this is a matter of the pattern being drafted for someone with a larger bust! I actually think that next time I make this pattern, I'll go up one size and do a sizeable small bust adjustment. Honestly, since the whole thing is cut on the bias, I could probably get away with no bust darts at all. Bias-cut garments are so unpredictable to me! I asked on instagram stories, but do you think I could just make this garment on the straight of grain? I don't know much about sewing on the bias, if you couldn't tell...

Are you adding any white to your wardrobe this year? Do you have any tips for bias-cut pattern alterations--does it work the same way? Do you prefer sewing bias cut garments, or are you all straight grain all the way?


ps: i'm on the hunt for all the brightly colored walls in durham... i think that makes me a real blogger, right?

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Inspiration: Embroidery

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

I've been obsessing over all the embroidered details in stores recently, so when a bunch of hand-embroidery tutorials popped up recently, I decided it was obviously time for me to give it a shot.

As my first foray into embroidery, I'm going to make McCall's 7544 view D (but with the shorter sleeves from views A-C).

I think I picked up this pattern at the same time as my leather jacket pattern, but I really think it will be absolutely perfect for the hot weather that's already encroaching down here in North Carolina! I love a billowy top in summer (in fact I have another billowy McCall's pattern, 7537 already sewn and just waiting on pictures) and I think the trick to wearing them is to balance out the oversized top half with something skinny on the bottom half--emphasize those legs, ladies!--or if it's a dress, err on the side of short. The other views of this pattern are really cute too, I'd really like to copy their versions of A (in preppy striped oxford-cloth) and C (chambray with eyelet). I also think this pattern would be really cute with some embroidery details for any 70s style lovers!

I'm not going to show you the embroidery pattern I've designed quite yet but you may be able to guess at it from my inspiration pictures (more here)! I should have some #wip shots on my instagram as I go (and there will definitely be tons of insta stories of my embroidery, so get ready!) so you can keep up with my progress over there!

Do you have any tips for a newbie embroiderer? I've done lots of cross stitch and some other needlepoint but not a lot of freehand embroidery. I'd love to see your embroidered garments and appreciate any links or book recommendations!


ps: how perfect is this top? i already have some scraps of black lace and a copy of M7573... 

allie J.

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Derby Days (Simplicity 1370 + Mint Julep Boutique)

Happy Me Made May, everyone! Every year I think to myself, "I want to publish more style posts on my blog, not just completed sewing projects" and every year I fail. This year though, I'm using Me Made May as a little jump-start, and I want to post at least five outfit posts during this month. Wish me luck!

more white lace and pretty florals...

The Kentucky Derby is coming up this Saturday, and although I've never attended, I have been to some of the local races in Virginia and North Carolina. In college, all the sororities would rent buses and drive the hour to Charlottesville to attend Foxfields, and it was always great time--we would don our brightest Lilly Pulitzer dresses, our biggest hats, and drink mint juleps in the sunshine, completely oblivious to the actual horse racing. Alex insists I call this experience by it's proper name: Preppy Coachella.

This is a skirt I made last year from some leftover materials and a simple little pattern, Simplicity 1370. I want to do a little bit of tweaking to the fit--it's good but I would really love to have a holy grail mini skirt and this isn't it quite yet. I feel like fitted skirts aren't flattering on me, and never fit right due to a combination of swayback, possibly a full butt adjustment, maybe something else? I don't know. I have the Colette Selene which seems like it would be easy to modify with all those seams, but maybe I should just suck it up and sign up for Brooks Ann Camper's Skirt Skills class. I know it would be worth it but it's expensive!

My top is from Mint Julep (c/o) and I love the lace detail--it's a nice variation on all the shoulder details we've seen recently. I love an OTS dress or blouse but  it's nice to be able to wear a bra with straps sometimes... it's a bit sheer so I've layered it over a nude ogden cami, my favorite pattern ever. (ps if you sign up for Mint Julep emails you can get 10% off your first order! check out their new arrivals here.)

And in my cup? A delicious mint julep-inspired mocktail of my own invention: just crushed ice, muddled mint, and lemon la croix! Perfect and refreshing, especially as temperatures here in NC continue to climb!

What do you suggest in the way of alterations when my fitted skirts always seem to numch up and the back and hug under my abdomen in an unflattering way? Am I just in the wrong size, or do I need more pattern adjustments? Or have you taken Brooks Ann's skirt skills class? I want to hear about your skirts!


ps: for these May outfit posts, i can't promise you they are worn on the day posted, but i can promise you they are actually worn!!

allie J.

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