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Spark New Sewing Ideas

To keep Fit for Art moving forward, there is a constant need for new sewing ideas and designs for our 4 Core Patterns.  So where do the new ideas that fill our weekly blog and the pages of the magazine articles we write come from?  This year, our articles in Classic Sewing Magazine are featuring the Carpe Diem Dress and Tunic Pattern.  The current summer issue has an article about making Leafy Tops using this pattern. Magazine readers can access the templates online at Classic Sewing to create their own top.

As I was writing the article in February, I was thinking about the ideas that led to this design and were then expanded for the magazine.  Following this story will empower you to identify and act upon new ideas for your sewing journey.

The leaf applique idea was hiding in my fabric closet but it wasn’t a piece of fabric.  It was a well worn linen top that was part of my summer wardrobe in the 1980’s.  I had ordered it from Spiegel Catalog to expand my working girl wardrobe.  Even in my 20’s I was drawn to embellished and interesting clothing.  Believe me when I say that this was one of my favorite garments ever.  It became discolored, ill fitting, tattered and repaired but I could not throw it away! 

Fast forward to the pandemic when I was re-organizing my sewing studio and emptying shelves in search of inspiration.  There rolled up in a back corner of my big sewing armoire was this top.  It brought back many memories, including the fact that I had saved it to copy the design at a later date.  No time like the present I thought.

Next I realized that the shape of the top was quite similar to the dress/tunic pattern we were developing in our Fit for Art studios.  Aha!  Why not try this little design out on the new pattern?

a stash of interesting white fabrics

This was the summer of 2020 so stash fabric was the most immediate option for making the top.   Two fabric groupings were unearthed, one a set of bright linens and silks left over from a recently completed project and the second a collection of white cotton and linen scraps pieces.  Read about these white fabrics in the blog post Sew Scrappy White Summer Tops.

Original top with leaf patterns and fabric scrap options.

Following my own consistent advice, I did not make the special all white version first, though that was the ultimate goal. Choosing the bright fabrics allowed me to see clearly the details I liked and did not like about the design.

In the process of attaching the leaves

The first top, the Sizzling Crop Top, went together pretty quickly and it was terrific.  Soon after I made the all white top. On the rare occasion that we gathered outside with friends that summer, these tops made it fun and easy to get dressed.

Then the idea began to morph and two additional Carpe Diems were created with a couple different twists, most obviously using small circle appliques instead of the leaves.  These appliques were also languishing in Carrie and my stashes having been brought home from a trip to France many years before.

Adjusting the length, neckline and composition of the base garment were all ideas that were explored that summer as we made and developed the Carpe Diem pattern. See additional Carpe Diem tunic explorations in our photo gallery.

That pattern is now a reliable tool in our Four Core Pattern wardrobe so time to share it with the world.  If you read Threads Magazine you saw several variations of this pattern and easy embellishments on a TNT top in the Spring 2023 issue

The leaves became the focus of the Summer Classic Sewing magazine article, but had to be arranged to make the project user friendly and offer design variety. The 2020 leaf embellished tops, following the design of the first purchased top, had an inset of stitched tucks below the leaf appliques.  It was difficult to construct, so that design element was reconfigured to add tucks easily down the entire front of the top.  In addition, a second design option for arranging the leaves was developed.  It circles the neck-line in a continuous and symmetrical arrangement, perfect for folks who prefer a more predictable arrangement. Both of these techniques were used for the cotton SewBatik long tunic featured in the magazine spread.

What, then are the take-aways for expanding your own sewing journey?

  • Always be on the lookout for new or old ideas to replicate.  It can simply be the shape of an embellishment detail on a sleeve or hemline that will refresh a tried and true pattern for a new season or occasion.
  • Don’t use the best fabric first; dip into stash to play with the techniques initially. Make samples to test ideas.
  • Repeat and adapt the detail in new ways once it has been mastered.
  • Check out all the design inspiration on our pinterest boards or by searching Pinterest for photos to help define a not completely defined idea.
  • Add some additional color blocking or length adjustments on each new piece so it is unique.
  • Beam with pride each time you wear one of these creations.  They have allowed for design and technique mastery while expanding your wardrobe
Leafy tops all in a row!

 Happy summer sewing, RAE

2 thoughts on “Spark New Sewing Ideas

  1. Love the center front insert. What is the width? It is something I would love to copy! TIA. Mary J

    1. In the blue batik top, it is not an insert, but additional width added at the fold line and then stitched into tucks. Decide the width of tuck you want, double the amount and multiply by the number of tucks. Official directions are in the magazine.

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