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Fashion Challenge Week 3: What They Made

We are now more than half way through the Fabricista Fashion Challenge! We are down to four contestants and the competition is fierce! They created another great pairing of garments this week showing some love to a piece in their closet that doesn't get worn very much. Read more about the complete 3rd challenge HERE.

The winner of this challenge wins an awesome 15 yard fabric bundle filled with luxurious fabrics AND 3 patterns of their choice from the McCall Pattern Company.

Don't forget you can play along too! Use #fabricistafabricmart when posting your photo to Instagram and Facebook. (And if you want to be safe, email us a photo too!) See details about the Reader Participation part HERE. You could win a pattern and notion prize pack!

Let's see what they made...

Tee from Maggie Elaine

This week’s challenge was somewhat difficult for me, because for the past two years I have made a conscious effort to purge my closet and donate items to Goodwill that I do not wear or should have never worn in the first place, this includes some of my DIYs. Therefore, finding an item in my closet that needed to be shown a little love was a challenge within itself. However, I did find one thing and that is a black velvet, capped sleeve, mock turtleneck that I found at Goodwill earlier this year (yes, I donate and thrift there too, best of both worlds). This top is the item featured in all of the pictures.

I have not had a chance to wear this item yet, due to the warmer temperatures here in Vegas. However, during the December/January timeframe, the temperature will drop down to the 30s to 50s; and with the holidays approaching I figure I should get some use out of this top. So, I decided to coordinate my two pieces around it.

I want to show how this top can be dressed up or down for a little more casual look. I incorporated a couple of classic elements that I use to love wearing back in the Midwest. Those elements are corduroy (ANYTHING) and denim overalls (sometimes corduroy overalls). I also have sort of a patch pocket theme going on with both coordinate pieces.

Look 1: Not Your Typical Denim Overalls
Ok, get ready to follow me on how I made this one. My inspiration for these overalls came from Stella McCartney’s Denim Dungarees that are sold out on the site and other similar overalls.
This style is a modern take on overalls in terms of nixing the side waist buttons and using an invisible zipper for a more fitted and polished look. It also puts me in mind of a jumpsuit. It’s like if overalls and a jumpsuit had a baby together. 

I could not find a true overalls pattern anywhere, besides one Kwik Sew pattern that was not in-stock in the stores and one pdf that I did not love. I couldn’t even find a pair of overalls in Goodwill to cut apart for a pattern. The closest thing I found was ski overalls. I had to figure out how to make this pattern myself and fast! Ok, so here is what I did in a nutshell.

Used Burda 6725 to make the upper portion of the pants with the patch pockets, and McCall’s M6610 to make the lower portion of the pants for the flare bottom. McCall’s 7394 to create the front and back “bodice” (thank goodness I had this pattern cut out)

Self-drafted front bodice pocket
Goodwill ski overalls to create the straps and curved shape of the back bodice

As much as my machine would allow, I top-stitched everything in denim thread (minus my hem). Despite using regular thread for the bobbin and denim thread for the top, my fancy-schmancy machine (that I have a volatile relationship with) does not handle denim thread well. So, I turned to one of my old vintage machines, which worked like a champ, but started skipping stitches by the time I made it to the lower edge of the waistband, which is why you may notice a couple thicker sections of thread. I had to go back over a couple spots. I inserted a side invisible zipper, this is the picture where you notice that the top-stitching stops before the side seam. It was to avoid going into the zipper. I used gold overall buckles to complete the look. I like the velvet top with these modern overalls, because it looks fancy for the occasion, without going over the top.

Look 2: Corduroy Skirt
Next up is my cream-colored, patch pocket, midi, corduroy skirt made using McCall’s M7439. I made view D, with view C’s waistband. I wasn’t wild about how high the waistband was on my shorter torso in the front, so I decided to flip the high curve of the center of the front band down. It worked well, since the inside of the band is made with the right side of the fabric facing out. I adore seeing off-white or cream worn in the winter, especially in mid to heavy weight fabrics such as this or wool. When you add gold and black, it just pops the color and makes it look rich. 

I am super into adding elements that make your clothes look like the garment is wearing accessories, so I used a gold metal exposed zipper and added black buttons trimmed in gold to the pockets for décor only. These buttons are not functional, because I think by buttoning them, I would lose the “open but not slouchy” look of the pockets on the sides of the skirts. I feel the sides of the pockets would protrude out, if it is buttoned to the skirt in the center. 

In addition to finding this lovely velvet top, I also found this gold and black chain that I am wearing as a belt. This is actually a broken purse strap, but it reminded me of Chanel, and I knew I would use it for something great one day. A tassel was attached to one end of the strap. Instead of using that tassel, I replaced it and attached two of the same tassels to the ends of the chain. I think the texture and richness of the velvet goes well with the soft velvety texture of the corduroy.

Elizabeth from Elizabeth Made This
This week’s challenge is to “Show Some Love” to an item in our closets that we don’t wear as much as we could. To do this we were to sew 2 different pieces that can separately coordinate with the unworn item.

My unloved item is this tan knitted Cabi bolero jacket. I picked it up in a consignment store when I was pregnant with my 3rd son. At the time, I thought I’d wear it often due to the fact that bolero jackets by nature don’t approach my then expanding tummy. I loved the flower embellishment, and the tan color is just about my perfect neutral color.

In practice, I never could figure out how to wear this jacket. Every dress I tried to pair it with resulted in a really boring color combination or created an odd silhouette. I also tried pairing it with knit tops. Most of my knit tops have 3/4-length sleeves. Somehow, the combination of a cap sleeve and ¾ length sleeve ended up visually shortening my already short arms. The end result was awkward. Still, I’ve always hung onto this jacket, in hopes that I’d figure out how to wear it another time. My style solutions are this geometric hem tunic and floral sheath dress.

Geometric Hem Tunic

A couple of years ago, I bought a ready to wear tunic. It features this really cool seaming in the front and back that flare out into a geometric hem. I love the lines of this top, but it is at least 4 sizes too big for me and not a good color on me. It’s always been my goal to modify my TNT t-shirt pattern into something very much like this tunic.

To do this, I traced off a fresh copy of my t-shirt pattern (which is Jalie 2921 minus the v-neck and scarf collar, plus the scoop neck of an Ottobre t-shirt). Then, I set my t-shirt pattern over the tunic and traced off the style lines. The tunic was meant for someone with a larger body circumference, but also someone much taller than me. At 5’2.5”, tunics are always a little tricky; they’re usually too long, and I can wear them as dresses.

To get the style lines in a better place for me, I raised the points where the seams intersected. I looked at the points where the lines crossed and hit the side seams proportionally to the length of the original tunic then transferred that to my own proportionally shorter pattern. I also took in the waist considerably. Trying to fit my waist without losing the draping, flared side seams was a bit of a challenge. In the end, I came up with side seams that kept the effect of the original tunic without leaving me swimming in fabric.

Mixing knits
I took the majority fabric for this top from a RTW striped cotton/rayon/spandex t-shirt. The weight of this knit is great for a fall/winter tee. Since I had limited yardage to work with, I chose two other knits to coordinate with the stripe: a tan cotton poly jersey, and a peachy pink stretch lace. Mixing knits is one of my favorite things in making t-shirts. One tip for mixing knits is to make sure that the knits are of similar weight and stretch. This way the knits will sew together easily, and you’ll get smooth, pucker-free seams.

The lace sections are underlined with the tan jersey. First, I cut out the pattern pieces from the tan jersey. After that, I overlaid the jersey pieces with the lace and hand basted around the perimeter of the pieces. Then cut lace edges even with the jersey and treat the two fabrics as one.

Lace is also added over the left sleeve. When I had sewn the front to the back as well as the sleeve seams, I noted the height where the lace from the bottom front would hit the sleeve horizontally when the t-shirt was finished. Then I made a quick pattern piece by modifying my sleeve pattern so that it continues the seam line on the lace. I like how the lace has a different look when backed with the stripe vs. the jersey.

I played around with the stripes a little bit by cutting the neck binding on the bias. The striped section on the back also runs vertically. This stripe knit has 4-way stretch, so I knew that turning it as I pleased would not affect the fit because of the additional stretch.

To construct the top, I used my sewing machine and a zigzag stitch to finish. I usually serge all of my knit tops, but with the lace, I wanted a more delicate finish.

I’m really happy with how the bolero works with the long sleeve. Also, because the colors of the bolero are actually in the colors of the knit top, I think they harmonize really well together.

Floral Sheath Dress

For my second coordinate, I chose Ottobre 2-2009-17. It’s a lined sheath dress. I chose this pattern because the floral print does not get broken up by any horizontal seams on the front or back.

For this dress, I used nice midweight cotton batik I had in my stash. The full lining is brown tricot. This pattern has 4 neckline pleats which I secured with invisible hand stitches. There's so many darts on this pattern! Between the lining, facing, and the fashion fabric, there's 20 darts to sew!

At the outset, I have to mention that I'm petite. I'm not only shorter than average, but my frame is quite narrow. Typically, I avoid a lot of alterations by grading down the neck and shoulders of all patterns at least one size to a size 32 in European patterns and various sizes in other patterns. I also have to shorten hems and sleeves. These two alterations I do immediately, without question, but sometimes I encounter a more challenging fit problem. Though this is a simple dress in theory, the sleeveless armhole took me a long time to get right.

I'm short proportionally between my shoulder and my bust, so sleeveless armholes always have too much circumference. The end result is that the armholes dip down too low and my bra shows. Not exactly a classy look, and it's really uncomfortable.

I didn't have time this week to make a muslin for this dress as I would normally to check the armhole. Instead, I found myself reverse-engineering the fit to get what I needed. Ultimately, I think I ended up with a better fit than the times I've tried to conquer sleeveless armholes.
Making a smaller armhole after cutting

To make the armhole smaller (which in turn raises the armhole to an appropriate level), I took out 2" from the bottom of the armhole, tapering down to zero 3.25" below into the side seam. There was a little excess fabric in the bust, so I could confidently take out what I needed in the side seam without ending up with an unwearable dress.

The back armhole also was gaping a little, so I pinned out 5/8" from the back armhole edge. Not wanting to have a visible dart in the back armhole, I rotated this excess out into the shoulder seam. The excess taken out tapers to zero at the back shoulder's neck edge.

Usually I do horizontal folds out of the front and back and the sleeve if I need to "petite" a pattern, but this raises the neckline. Since the neckline depth was already at a height I liked, I was glad to have discovered an armhole alteration that not only doesn't affect the neckline, but one that I could change after the fact. There's some pieces of RTW in my closet that I'm totally pulling out and fixing with these alterations!
Extra features

The pattern did not have any pockets, so I added 2 single welt pockets on the front.

I also added a vent in the back so that I could walk around with ease.

I really like how the color of the bolero picks up the browns in the floral print. Silhouette-wise, I think the jacket and the dress work really well together too. Though it's a sleeveless dress, this will be a good transition piece for me into fall. Our falls tend to stay warm for a long time. I can always add a layering tee under the dress for an extra bit of warmth if needed.

I loved making both of these garments! Now I have 2 pieces to combine with a jacket I've always wanted to wear!

Jennifer from Clothing Hacker

I was very excited about this challenge. I had a couple options for the garment I would use, but I chose a red and black plaid pencil skirt I bought a couple years ago at a thrift shop and have never worn.

I knew I wanted to do one red top and one black top to go with it. My original plan for the red was a red lace top and a matching red tank to wear under it. I made the tank top using a red Rayon/Spandex knit using the Love Notions Luna Loungewear pattern. The lace top was a disaster, so I scrapped it. I loved the color of that tank top with the plaid skirt so I decided to use the left over for a Swoon Scarf neck cardigan.

I love this duo and although this is two items I made to go with my skirt, I will never wear either by itself, so I think of it as one as far as this challenge goes.

For the second item, I wanted something that looked more structured, so I decided to make a button up fit and flare type top with a collar. I had some sketches, but had a hard time finding a pattern to use. So I chose to modify the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress to be a peplum blouse. 
I had to do a 4" FBA on the largest size, size 20. Other than that, I used the bodice as-is and cut the skirt 6" long and shaped the front to be curved.

I was working on this top until the last possible second. The fabric is a black satin that is a little on the heavy side, so it was a little hard to work with this pattern and even harder to try to photograph this very shiny fabric in my bad indoor lighting. The street light photos turned out fairly interesting, but unfortunately it was still hard to see it the top very well.

LaTonya from Sew So Petite

This weeks challenge was to create 2 items that match an item that was already in my wardrobe. As I stated previously, I wear a lot of T-shirts and jeans. When I am not working as a nurse, I am toting kids back and forth to school and various other activities, so casual is my go to style.

Here is my love needed item. It's a seemingly basic button down plaid top. I bought it sometime last year and I never wore it. You may not be able to tell from the pictures, but this button down top has pockets on the sides. This was seriously the reason why I have never worn this item. I did not pay attention when I bought it and only realized the pockets when I got home. It is a little strange. Seriously?! Pockets? It has sat in my drawer for months now, and the tags were still attached to it. So I figured what better piece to go with a button down top? Jeans and a jacket to hide those pockets.

First coordinating piece: Jeans!!!

I had been wanting to try my hand at making another pair of jeans for a while. Ginger jeans seemed like a match made in heaven for me; so I gave it a go. I chose to do view A, which features a low rise, stovepipe leg in a size 4.

Pants-making can be very tough. In my honest opinion, making pants/jeans has been the hardest thing I have done yet! There are so many fit issues with making pants. I did 3 different muslins before I got the fit that I was looking for. I took about 2 inches out of each side seam and about 4 inches off the total length. I also noticed that I had "bunching" at my knees. To remedy this, I curved my seam inward about an inch more than the original seam and the slowly tapered back to the seam. Because I am very petite, and quite frankly, I have no curves, I did about a 1 inch flat seat adjustment.

I chose a 7oz stretch denim that I purchased at the Textile Outlet, here in Chicago. The waist band and pocket linings are just a plain white cotton. I used an embroidery stitch for my pocket design detail and I topstitched every seam, except for the outside leg seams, which are near impossible to reach. Once I was done with the jeans, I really felt that I needed to add more. I wanted to go for a more "grungy/street" look. I decided to distress my beloved gingers. I read a few tutorials online while gathering up my courage. Distressing jeans is quite easy and there really is no way to "mess it up."This tutorial really helped me. Many people use tweezers, however for us seamstresses, I highly recommend using your seam ripper. You basically just make a few slits (with either your scissors or a razor), and the pull those white threads from the blue denim, very carefully. It's actually quite fun once you get the hang of it.

I also decided to do a really cute topstitching design on my jeans pockets. The jeans feel great on me. They are not too tight, yet the aren't too loose either. And I accomplished my goal of a grungy/street look with the distressing.

Second coordinating piece: Casual jacket
It's no secret that I love making outerwear/jackets/overcoats. There's just something about making a coat or jacket that really makes me happy. Marmalade jacket was a perfect choice for the look that I was going for.

Marmalade jacket is a lined, semi fitted short jacket with a stand collar, gathering on the front and optional gathering on the back. The sleeves can be made with or without vents. The only adjustment that I made to this pattern was take about 1/2 inch out the back seam. For some reason, the pattern has quite a bit of extra ease on the back seam and it did not look well with my body type. I cut a size 4 and it fits like a dream.

Construction on this jacket was pretty straightforward. There wasn't a lot of topstitching to be done, but I did learn how to install snap closures, which the pattern calls for 7 of them. I omitted the very last snap button; it would have been more of a pain to snap for me. The jacket shell is a cotton twill that I purchased at JoAnn's and the lining is plain black lining fabric, also from JoAnn's. I chose to do the sleeve vents. I have never done sleeve vents before and I wanted that experience.

Final Thoughts:
When I received this challenge, I immediately knew that I wanted to do something that was casual. I don't "dress up" everyday and most days I wear sneaker. I love wearing jeans and to be able to make a pair that fit my body perfectly is such a great accomplishment for me. My jacket is not quite a jacket. I look at it more of a throw on garment. I am always cold, so this fits my lifestyle as well. It's not warm enough to wear by itself in the Fall, but it certainly falls in line with the look that I was going for. I personally think that the jacket looks so much better when worn open. The brown color of the jacket really compliments the blue and red plaid of the shirt well and jeans compliment just about everything. And when your teenage daughter tells you that your jeans are "cool" you definitely know that you are winning!

Vote now for your favorite combo! Voting ends September 30 at 8am ET.


  1. Oh my gosh! You all once again did an amazing job!

    I immediately hit the "vote now" button but I have to contemplate a bit! :) I am blown away!!!

  2. I agree SewCraftyChemist they all did an amazing job! I had to go over each challenge at least three times before I hit the Submit button. You ladies are so talented!

  3. Fabulous makes ladies! It is hard to figure out who to vote for!

  4. All I can say is WOW! Fantastic ladies!

  5. All the sewists continue to wow me. The pics, the approach, the ability to think on their feet is wonderful. Learning more about each contestant has been fun.

  6. You are all amazing sewists. Honestly, it's so hard to pick one best, when all are so exceptional. You all are so creative, generous with your knowledge, know and completely own your own personal styles and your own bodies, accept new challenges with enthusiasm, and move right on through every obstacle. And the variety of the final makes! And so much great thrifting! Technical skills, creative AND modern. All done on deadline too. Thanks ladies, I enjoyed every word/photo.

  7. Very difficult to choose which one. Each one is a winner.


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