Pattern Review: Chalk and Notch “Cascade”

This review is dedicated to the critics who say that I am too hard on indie pattern-makers. My goal is to be as objective as possible. As always, I receive no compensation in any way, and I have no personal connection to any designer.  If this review seems more “glowing” than others, it is purely due to a superior product.

In my quest for boho looks, last September I purchased the “Cascade” maxi-dress from Chalk and Notch (girls sizes 2 through 12). I’d never heard of this designer, however every tester photo looked great.  No gaping, tugging, pulling….and I don’t even personally like high-low hems!


What I found intriguing about this design is that it could not have been flat-pattern-drafted from measurements…because of the bias-cut and the hi-low hem, it had to be designed by draping a muslin on a dressform first and then transferring the results to paper (or computer) pattern.  This indicates a level of professionalism not always found in pdf-world. Sadly the pattern went into the “some day” pile. Yesterday I finally pulled it out.

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Pattern Review: Pickle Toes “Daisy”

Here’s a quick review of an even quicker pattern!

The criss-cross back jumper/apron/pinafore is a classic style that I remember from my childhood.  I lost my vintage paper pattern for it while working on a project making art smocks for my child’s school, and then acquired this McCall’s version somewhere along the way:


..however the fit is way off.  It looks like it’s falling off of the model’s shoulders!  Fixing the fit on this style has been on my endless “to-do” list…along with grading it for a more extensive size range…and then this week Pickle Toes released their “Daisy” pdf pattern, in sizes Preemie through Girls 16:


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On Objectivity and Pattern Reviews

Yesterday  I was accused by an individual in a public online forum, of being biased against 3 specific businesses whose products have disappointed me.  It got me thinking…who is being biased here? The person who says “But I know this patternmaker personally and she’s so nice!” Or somebody like me, with no affiliations whatsoever?

I’m not a tester, or a brand rep, or on any “teams”.  I don’t accept advertising. I receive no free patterns,  I’ve never met any of the indie patternmakers, and I keep it that way to remain objective. (Every patternmaker that I know personally works in the garment industry, not the pattern industry). I never critique the designer, only the PRODUCT. Since when did product reviews become emotional?

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Pattern review: Striped Swallow “Canyon” Bib and Bloomers

Looking for a quick and easy sewing project?  Need a fast and simple baby gift? If you’re a mom to a baby these days, you’re surely aware of the “Boho Baby Bib” trend…and if you’re not, then a quick Google search will clue you in:


Truthfully I don’t quite understand the  “fashion baby bibs”.  My baby is in college now, and back when she WAS a baby, bibs were purely functional: an absorbent top layer and a waterproof underlayer, meant for feeding and drooling, and absolutely positively machine-washable. Mostly they came in pastels with stuffed-animal prints, and they certainly did not need to coordinate with an outfit. Fast forward to the era of Trendy Tots and Instagram, and you’ll see the Boho Bib everywhere, made in tasteful neutrals to be worn as an accessory, often embellished with fringes and tassels. They retail for $20 to $30 each (!) I’ve done my due diligence, and was a bit confused:

  • washing instructions are often “spot clean only”….with a caveat that these are NOT for feeding times.  These are  “photo-prop” fashion statement pieces.  I just really think that baby clothes need to be washable.  Babies are messy!
  • since they tie at the neckline and are a choking hazard, a warning usually says to not leave child wearing bib unattended, and never let them sleep wearing the bib (although the same sellers often post photos of babies napping while wearing the bibs)

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Why are some indie patterns graded so “jumpy”?

Have you ever used a pattern that “jumps up and down” in the grading between sizes?  Recently I was trying a pattern that had grades jumping between 1/4″, then 1/8″, then 3/8″:


Since I come from an industrial background where this would never happen, it  makes me wonder not only why this is, but how did it happen? Grading is a simple matter of sliding the master pattern up-and-over by a consistent measurement “rule”, so why are there inconsistencies?  After all, garment industry patterns have consistent grading, Big Four paper patterns have consistent grading…..the grade may be smaller within the smaller section of sizes, and larger within the larger sizes, but never jumping up and down. Why does this happen so often in indie pdf patterns? I have a theory…..

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Pattern Review: M4M “Isla”

If I had a dollar for every time over the past 4 years that I’ve been asked to copy the dress from this ultra-popular Pinterest photo….well let’s just say I’d be financially comfortable:


From barn weddings to beach weddings…..this has been the “It” dress for years. Trouble is, I don’t copy other designer’s work…I advise customers to  purchase the original “Chloe” dress from Tea Princess.

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Pattern Dieting? How to make good decisions

Previously I blogged about fabric dieting….the logical next step is pattern dieting, right? I need another pattern like a whole in the head….UNLESS it is truly unique AND something I will absolutely use in the very near future.

But there’s no need for me to write about this, because the lovely Tibeca Yao  of the blog “Sewing by Ti” already read my mind.  So grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and  go here for a logical analysis that will help you stay on track: 5 Steps to Deciding to Buy a Pattern. Print it out and tape to your sewing machine if that helps. We all need a bit of budgeting support at times, and differentiating your “wants” versus your “needs” is the first step.  Thanks Ti!




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Quicker Fix for Coachellas

It’s snowing (a LOT) here in Massachusetts but in warmer areas people are anticipating spring, which means sewing shorts, yay!  Last summer I posted about how to correct the “crotch bunching” in the adorable Coachella shorts, by extending the crotch curves and trueing the inseams. Here is a simplified method (although if you are really interested in all of the analytics, they’re in the original post).

This isn’t technically perfect by any means (“real” grading uses grade-points and grading measurement scales), but it’s quick and easy, and results in better-fitting shorts. I’m going to show the least amount of pattern possible, under Fair Use Doctrine (the laws that make product review possible)….all you need is pattern page #3 . Here we go:

Cut out the front and back crotch shapes, glue them to printer paper. Gather a French curve, straight-edge, and pencil…also 3 colored pencils or highlighters:


Looking at the pattern, you can probably see the three areas of inconsistent the sizes increase:

  1. The crotch curve gets more shallow, so that will get corrected with a French curve.
  2. The rise lengths get shorter, so the lengths will be increased for the larger sizes.
  3. The  inseam angle gets more acute, so that will get trued with a French curve.

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“Sewing in-between Sewing”

Sewing in-between Sewing” is a term I picked up yesterday on Instagram from a post by the lovely Alicia, an Australian designer who has a sewing story all her own.  She creates and sells unique children’s-wear to raise funds for cancer research…you can follow her on IG @a_tropical_daze. She has already reached 75% of her $10,000 goal, using up-cycled vintage materials that she sources from “opportunity shops” (we call them thrift shops in New England). Alicia is inspiring for so many reasons (I’ve posted before about how “Bohemian style” is out of my comfort zone!) but for me at this moment, it was her simple idea of “Sewing between Sewing”.

Schedule sewing projects is a huge struggle for me, so her post intrigued me. It showed a sneak-peek photo of the project she was working on, explaining “Needed a quick break from sewing orders to sew something a little bit amazing!


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Updated Free Headband Pattern


Who needs a little scrap-buster? Need to make a quick Valentine’s day gift?  I’ve updated the multi-size tie-bow headband pattern from this post.  The cutting lines are now in colors (but still can be printed in B/W), and the sizing is slightly adjusted to make the smaller sizes easier to tie.

Here is the updated file2107 Blog Headband Pattern

(right click to open in new window, then file or print by clicking this tab in the upper right corner:

print download

Instructions are the same as before so I’ll re-post them here…photos show the original B/W pattern.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Spread the love..share this super simple pattern with your sewing buddies! And if you don’t have time to sew, watch for a headband giveaway coming up on my Instagram.

How to Make the Bunny Headband

  1. Start out by measuring the head circumference:


….and then choose size from this chart, OR just go by age:HeadbandMeasureChartPic

2. Print out the pattern:


3. Cut out the pattern size you want (sorry there is no “layers” function as I don’t have Illustrator…..when I start digitizing larger patterns I’ll have to get it though….).  There are just two pattern pieces: the tie ends (2 parts to tape together at the star) and the back which covers the elastic:


4. Cut out your fabric:

  • 1 Back Elastic Cover
  • 4 Ties (can be 2  each of 2 different fabrics, or all 4 of one fabric):


Headbands are a great scrap-buster: when I looked at this particular scrap I realized the print would work better with the headband placed along the crosswise grain.   Technically it’s better to use the straight-grain which is stronger and has less stretch, however since this is not a garment (requiring correct drape and flow), I decided it was okay to turn the pattern pieces 90-degrees:


I used a coordinating print for the underside. It’s important to use the same grain for both the outer-fabric and under-fabric:


(It’s much easier and faster to cut straight lines using a rotary-cutter alongside a ruler!)

You should have:

  • 1 piece Back Elastic Cover
  • 2 mirrored Outer-fabric Ties
  • 2 mirrored Inside-fabric Ties


5. Sew the tie ends: Pin the ties together, right side of outer fabric touching right side of inside fabric:


Stitch along the edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance (.6 cm), leaving the non-rounded end un-stitched:


Trim the seam allowance  at the ends:


Turn the ties inside out: using a chopstick makes this easier:


Press ties:


(Optional) edge-stitch:


6. Back elastic cover: Fold the back elastic cover in half lengthwise, right sides of fabric together, and pin along the raw edge:


Stitch along the long edge, with 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving the short ends un-stitched:


Turn inside out (easiest to do with a safety-pin):

IMG_9499  IMG_9500

IMG_9501 IMG_9502



7. Add back elastic. Measure elastic piece (here’s the chart again):


Cut elastic and pin a safety-pin onto one end of your elastic:

IMG_9504  IMG_9505

Starting with the safety-pin, pull the elastic through the fabric tube; when the end of the elastic matches up with the end of the fabric tube, stop pulling and stitch the tube end to secure the elastic:


Continue pulling the elastic through to the other side of the tube:


Remove the safety-pin and stitch the second tube end to secure the elastic:


Stretch to adjust gathers:


8. Put it all together!  Place elasticized tube in the center of one non-curved  tie end:


Fold the fabric tie around the elasticized tube:


Stitch across the end, securing the elasticized tube into the tie end:


Pull apart, flip inside out, and your raw edge is hidden!

IMG_9514  IMG_9515

(Optional) you can bar-tack the pleat closed…if you are selling headbands this is when/where you can stitch in your labels:


Repeat for other side:

IMG_9518  IMG_9519

And voila!


9. Time to tie your bow! This is the hardest part for me to explain so if anybody has a better way please let me know….it’s also difficult to do with one hand while the other has the camera….

The upper tie  dives under the lower tie and upwards:


…and then folds down:


The lower tie  folds backwards:


The the upper tie  comes down over the flipped lower tie:


..and gets tucked under and through:


Pull the tie ends and secure your bow!


Here are some cuties I made to send to my daughter in design school….all made of scraps from pajama bottoms I’ve sewn for her:


Here are some itty-bitties….see why I wanted appropriate elastic widths?


Please have fun with this pattern but do not copy or sell the file…of course you are welcome  to sell headbands sewn using this pattern (please give credit to 7PineDesign, thanks!)

Pinterest link:

..BowHeadbandPattern copy




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