Beach Combing – my Summer Style

What do you wear in the heat of summer allowing for a coastal breeze? If you’re me, you get on board the Winter Wear Designs (WWD) summer Style blog tour and create something comfortable and cool. Earlier this week I explained how I used a capsule wardrobe concept to make a summer wardrobe – then forgot to pack it for my vacation. I’ve been living in my bikinis, 2 pairs of shorts and 2 tanks all week!

I’ve been beach combing my entire life. Growing up on the South coast of England means you’re never far from the sea or a river. I have a collection of rocks that I use as pattern weights, and they’re all labelled with their places of origin. As such, it wasn’t hard to think of inspiration for my Beach Combing post. A big hat offering shade, some comfy stretchy long shorts and a loose top. Maybe add a cardi for those windy days.

To put my vision into reality I chose three WWD patterns, the Twin Peaks cardigan, Aviator knee length shorts and the Journey top (and a cheap black tank I already owned). I am not sure anyone will really recognize any of the items as, being true to the spirit of this tour I have hacked the heck out of them.

For my cropped Twin Peaks cardigan I started with a lovely soft grey cotton jersey. It probably has lycra in it but has been in my stash for a while and I am pretty hopeless at remembering fabric contents once they’re washed. I wasn’t well in April and craved a bed jacket. You know, the type they wore in the 50’s and 60’s? Well, a friend of mine offered to make me one if I gave her the pattern. It took all my energy to prepare the pattern and write some instructions as this lady lives rurally and doesn’t have the internet. I measured my side underarm to ileac crest (top of the hip bone) for length, cropped the sleeves to just below elbow length, and left off the front band. It actually took about 1m of fabric for an XL. I like that its multi-functional and I can wear it both as a bed jacket and as a cropped cardigan.

Following on from my Capsule theme I thought I’d make some knee length shorts to wear with my cardi; after all I had spare fabric! I do like the Aviator pattern. It has a ton of options including knee length shorts with a knit hem band, which stops them riding up above my knee. I also like a pop of colour, so added a coordinating pocket. I also love that WWD is gradually converting her PDF patterns into projector patterns. … more space for fabric!

Now for something cool and airy to finish off my outfit. I chose a shot burgundy Jason Yenter quilting cotton. Yenter fabric is soft, almost … not silk like … but much finer than cotton. I love the softness and how it moves with me. Well, before you go any further, let me say that the outfit Alyssa (from the Sewing Goatherd) made with the Journey dress / top as a base was a lot less stressful or difficult than mine.

I thought the Journey top would make a great summer breezy top. I used the flutter sleeves to make shoulder wide straps, cut eight of them, then sewed them in pairs to have 4 long straps to tie. Note – the straps are at least 2″ wide, which doesn’t make for pretty bows! I cut the bodice at its ‘with gathers’ size – both front and back. I trimmed the top yoke bands roughly 2″ (finished) height to fit at my underarms – creativity at its finest! Sadly, I needed to add some volume (thanks hips) in the back, but you can’t see that! It wasn’t as easy as my vision thought. I measured the length in my side from armpit to mid hip (where I wanted it to finish). This gave a flattering breezy silhouette. The original Journey pattern has different yoke heights under the armsyce on each side and it took some creative sewing to end up with my final result. I love it! I also have no idea just how much I altered it to end up with the Love Factor!!! Yep, just follow Alyssa’s lead … really. Unless you are a masochist!

… and that folks, is my Beach combing outfit.

Summer Style – The ‘Capsule Wardrobe’ with Winter Wear Designs

The Winter Wear Designs (WWD) summer blog tour is always fun. It gives me the chance to prioritise my sewing. The Summer Style theme allows me to add my own unique perspective on the WWD patterns.  

My son bought me a subscription to Threads Magazine. Last issue had an inspiring article on a capsule wardrobe. Four pieces: an upper outer layer, two bottoms and a top. The parameters were for the upper and bottoms to be the same colour, with the top adding a pop of colour. I’ve wanted to make a capsule wardrobe for a while, and summer seemed the ideal time as it means I’d pack less when going away. You think? I decided to give it a go, with many misgivings as I love colour! 

My capsule would be:

Outer top layer – The Twin Peaks Cardigan

Bottom layers – The Endless Summer Shorts (ESS) and The Sporty Skirt

Tops – The Omega and Classic Shift as a top 

I have made the Twin Peaks Cardigan several times. This time I wanted it to skim my hips, so redrew the pattern line from my waist downwards. I always add length and am quite pleased with the result. I taped the back yoke to the lower pattern piece and cut the back on the fold, resulting in a one piece back. My sleeves are ¾ length, partly because I like them that way, but also because I didn’t have a lot of fabric. I added an FBA, which means I must be careful where the front bands sit; they are cut on a curve over the bust. I am not sure I will do this in future as I like to throw on a cardi and go. I just wish it had pockets, so may add big patch pockets to the front … soon!

I love The Endless Summer Shorts (ESS). I’ve made many pairs, worn them to death and repeat … This time they are from the same lovely knit as the Twin Peaks Cardi. Despite liking the green, I felt it was too plain so added a pop of colour to the pocket trim. I made them to be as long as I had fabric left; about a 5” inseam. Then I had to narrow the legs a little as they felt like bloomers without elastic! Adding a decorative stitch on the hems made me smile, even if no one else can see it! This pattern is really versatile! It can be made with stretch or woven, just ensure you add a tie or elastic in the waist, so they don’t fall down! 

My other bottom item is the Sporty Skirt, sewn in a coordinating Northcott Quilters cotton. I love, love, love this pattern. It is so flattering. The cotton doesn’t drape as well as rayon, but the fabric has a bit of stretch and would drive me barmy if I tried to quilt with it! The green fabric has a watery feel; it’s calming and coordinates so well with the Twin Peaks Jackety-Cardigan. I opted for a below knee, double scoop skirt, and totally muffed up the waistband grommets. They will need replacing at some stage, but work for now. Adding a drawstring also helps give more of an illusion of a waistline.    

My trusty old Omega top has a hacked neckline. It’s easy to do. Just draw your new neckline and and transfer it to the facing so you have the same alteration. I find it easier to draw my new neckline on the fold, so its symmetrical. What you can’t see is the huge heart shaped button on the back. It’s the little things that make me smile. 

I have (yet more) quilters cotton with a wee stretch in it. I decided this would make a lovely Classic Shift Top. I hadn’t made one and made this according to my upper bust with an FBA. It fits nicely and is very cool to wear in our summer heat. I added length, which you can’t see as I tucked it in, but it’s hip length with slightly curved sides. Using my projector for many of the WWD patterns makes life (and pattern storage) so much easier! 

Do follow along with other ideas for your (not to late to sew) summer wardrobe … you might see something you like! 

 Don’t miss out on any of the stops along the tour!!!


Patricia of Sew Far North


Alyssa of The Sewing Goat Herd

Suzanne of WWD


Rachel Reece of Violets and Jewels

Ilse of Sew Sew Ilse


Kristen Guest Posting at WWD

Alyssa of The Sewing Goat Herd


Laurie of The Bear and the Pea Atelier

Patricia of Sew Far North

Just Lounging Around Poolside …

Summer here in the BC Interior can be hot. Maybe not as hot as Southern California but hot nonetheless. We live at the top tip of the Mohavi desert and for this transplanted English Rose, it’s as hot as I want to get. It’s nice that summer patterns are, on the whole, simple and easy to make. This helps as I am sure my brain (along with the rest of me) swells in the heat! Talking of swelling, looser summer styles can be flattering if correctly cut to skim the curves other than cling to them. I’d rather look stylish and comfortable than like the back of a bus. IMG_0701

For this Winter Wear Designs blog tour I have made some of my essential summer clothes. I pretty much live in shorts, little tops and loose flowing dresses. There are some good prizes on the tour;  visit Winter Wear Designs Fun FaceBook page to find out more.

Most of my tops cover ‘my tail’, enabling me to wear them with leggings. As such I’ve been looking for a little top to wear with shorts and short skirts. Bring on the Trendy Tank. A bonus is that if you join the Winter Wear Designs FaceBook group it is a freebie. Even better! I had to adapt mine to exclude a side boob gap that seems to keep occurring on all my knitted tops. I have a bust (really!?) and unless a dart or full bust adjustment is included in my sewing I get gaps. It wasn’t a hard fix at all. I pinned it where I wanted the dart and then basted it in. When it was in the right place I transferred the markings to my pattern; then proceeded to alter a few other tops to boot. I kept this top short and am pleased at how it looks with my shorts.

Rolling on, these are the Essential Summer Shorts. Essential as they are easy to make, you can play with the pattern to your little heart’s contentment, and they come together really quickly. I recently performed in a Burlesque routine and wanted to make some Rocky Horror-esque gold lycra shorties. I simply sized down all over and Hey Presto! I actually attached them to a body stocking (read modesty stocking) for the show. I chose not to hem them as I didn’t want the stitching to show. Plus, let’s face it, sewing a tiny stitch with metallic thread is tedious and encourages me to reach for the wine bottle!! I think they’d make great swim shorts with a side ruche or drawstring. Time will tell.


I also made the shorts in a lovely knit fabric that I have been hoarding for a long time. I only have a metre of it and making anything with that little fabric can be challenging when you’re 5’9″ tall. Not anymore. I made the shorts and might have enough for a little top too if I am careful.  For this pair I added a 3″ wide knitted waist band and some lace to the bottom. It gives me a little more coverage and they are so very comfortable. I need more as I keep washing and wearing them. Here they are with my Trendy Tank.

Finally I decided to add the Boho Breeze as a maxi dress to my collection. I actually had intended making it into a coverup but there are other patterns that lend themselves better to that (watch this space!). Instead I chose to combine a soft lightweight crinkle cotton with a lush soft bamboo print. I’ve been wondering how to use the bamboo without ruining its lovely design. Well here goes.  Himself, (the Man of the House), is my personal design and sewing critic. He bounds into my sewing room when he comes home from work to see what I have been up to. He will stand there, get ‘that look’ on his face, and totally unnerve me. I have been known to say, “be nice now, it’s come from my head”. Then he will make a good comment about fit, if it’s flattering, length and what might suit me better. I trust his style. After all, one of his chat up lines was “do you wear Valentino? He designs for women with curves” Yes, I married him soon after!IMG_0702.jpg

But back to the Boho! Summer swelling and being ill recently meant I’ve gone up a size; I am really glad I made a muslin! I sized up knowing that the top has an elasticated shoulder / neck band, meaning it won’t slip causing any boob exposures when I shrink again. I decided to use all of the bamboo fabric in my maxi skirt and didn’t measure it; it is rather voluminous. I made the pockets from the cotton but reinforced them with a lightweight interfacing. I also added a side slit to just below knee level. Today the wind was blowing while taking photos, resulting in the windswept ‘skirt wrapped around the legs look’.

One of Himself’s suggestions was to make the neck band from the bamboo; as a contrast but also as it is heavier than the cotton, it is more stable when elasticated. The man is once again correct. It looks lovely. The Boho Breeze can also be made as a romper or top and I expect I will get to those as well. I think it would make a good swim top too …

Pull up a lounge chair and a cold drink, and don’t miss a single stop on the Poolside Blog Tour:

Jackie Burney for Winter Wear Designs
Meriel of Elli and Nels
Diane of Sewing With D
Livia of Liviality
Patricia of Sew Far North