Trying a closer fit with the Seamwork Astoria

FrenchTerryAstoria1I really think it is a good idea to try new styles and shapes. At my age, I can really fall into a rut of styles that I wear constantly. Yes, the wardrobe architect was a helpful exercise, but golly, how hard is it to figure out I like flowy tops, slim pants, shift dresses and wear mostly blues, grays with a bit of pink thrown in?

TealTerry-seamwork-astoria-topSo the Seamwork Astoria is a fun experiment that turned out to surprisingly be a success! I really like this top, and I’ll tell you why – my other snug knit tops all get so tight around my hips and lower belly that they start rolling up and cause me to yank them down every other minute. I hate that. I hate fussing with my clothes in that way. Also, it doesn’t feel great to anyone when their clothes feel too small and their little tummy peeks out like Winnie the Pooh’s.

seamwork-astoria-back-viewSo, even though this top is cropped and I thought I would hate it, the lower band is shaped so the waistline is smaller and the bottom hem flares out a smidge, making it sit so nicely with no riding up! This is a genius innovation, IMO.

TealSeamwork-astoria1I made a size small and did a tiny forward shoulder adjustment. I also lengthened the bodice and sleeves and inch, as usual. My fabric is the world’s softest baby french terry – the stuff dreams are made of. It is a bit drapey to hold the neckline band, but who cares when it feels this yummy?

I wore it with these RTW shorts for pictures because it is too hot for anything else at this point, but it would look lovely with more volume on bottom. Perhaps a skirt or a pair of full culottes would look great. And jeans, always jeans.

seamwork-astoria-outfitJust the facts:

  • Shaped bottom band keeps the Seamwork Astoria sitting correctly, making this cropped top totally wearable
  • French terry is a delight to wear and I must find more
  • Next on my list is a full skirt or culottes to create a totally new shaped outfit for me – I’m glad I’m branching out!

Just a addendum to mention that Episode 2 of Clothes Making Mavens is out. Lauren from Lladybird had such great insights on sewing, teaching and how she’s made some money with her super popular blog. She’s so much fun to listen to!

We have submitted the podcast to iTunes and a bunch of podcast players and are waiting for approval. We’d love to make it easier for you to listen. I’ll let you all know and list our links when that is all set!



The Astoria with a frill

<Seamwork Astoria hack
I posted this on The Monthly Stitch last month, but it is worth sharing here because it turns out I really love this top. It was simple to make and it is easy to wear, and I’ve even been able to tuck it into my overall dress for the ultimate classic pairing of stripes and denim.
My new love is (slightly) cropped tops, but after the last 2 I whipped up I realized that I don’t have much for my bottom half with a higher waistband to go with them. That makes me sad, but don’t worry, I’ll make some new things! In the meantime, though, I want to embrace the emphasis on my waist so I added a double chiffon ruffle to the Seamwork Astoria sweater instead of the bottom band. It really changed the top and made it fun and flirty.
Chiffon ruffle added to Astoria

I guess I won’t need to provide a tutorial for how to do this one, right? Just a tedious and tiny hem on both ruffles and a slight gather at the top, then I added them to the top while I stretched it slightly so it will fit over my head. I did a nice job stripe matching across the sleeves, too, if I do say so. The side seams don’t match up exactly, but those seams are under my arms, so I can live with it. Since I serged those seams I really truly will live with it! I used the white stripe as the neckline to balance the white peplum at the bottom.
Seamwork Astoria with added ruffle

Some notes:

  • Made a size Small with an inch added to both bodice and sleeves length (standard adjustment for me)
  • My frill was about twice the width of the omitted bottom band, but 1.5 width would do fine, too.
  • It is a different shape for me, since my tops are usually looser fitting, and I got rave reviews from several people (and especially my husband).

Seamwork Astoria back view

Dressy Nantucket Shorts

Summer Sewing blog tourMy new climate pretty much demands shorts during the summer. I’m not much of a shorts girl, though. So I’m trying some new styles and trying to figure out a way to incorporate them into my wardrobe. I want my shorts to look a little more put together, but still be comfortable in the heat. They must go with my fancy shoes!

Seamwork Nantucket ShortsFor the shorts and capris blog tour I tried out the Nantucket shorts from Seamwork Magazine. Without the grommets and drawstring, it is a very simple and quick pattern with nice lines.

Seamwork Nantucket shorts grayTo make them dressier I picked out this smooth gray mystery fabric from my stash. It has nice drape but is still substantial enough to cover my bum. I think this pattern looks best in a less structured fabric, so they hang nicely.

Colette Seamwork patterns nantucketI made the size recommended by my hip measurement, and I find the fit to be roomy around my hips – I will go down a size next time. My serious concern about the sizing is the very low rise and the very short back curve. I don’t have much back there, but if you do, these shorts won’t cover all of it. My suggested alterations are to raise the front rise an inch or so and the back rise an inch and a half to 2 inches. I might scoop the back curve out a tiny bit more, also.

seamwork nantucket sorts dressyThe tulip shape in the front is a cute detail, but again, fabric choice matters so much. If this was made in a more casual fabric, that tulip shape can make it look pretty sporty. In fact, you could wrap your front hem and back hem in bias tape and they would look very sporty indeed. It would be a totally different look!

seamwork patterns nantucket shortsI made a simple elastic casing for this pair, but there are lots of options for different ways to finish the waistband that could elevate the look. I knew this was just a first draft so I didn’t get too fancy.

I made these for this fun blog tour, hoping to get you all in the mood to start some summer sewing! I hope my thoughts have been helpful, and I know my friends on the tour also have some informative reviews to share (and maybe a giveaway, too), so go check them out! Thanks!

Sewing By Ti

Creative Counselor

Gray All Day

MSL Creations

Sew Sophie Lynn

The Socially Awkward Seamstress

And the last Aurora tank

Aurora tank 5bNow that the July Seamwork magazine is out, it is time to obsess about a new pattern, right? But let me just quickly share the last Aurora tank I made…I did actually make it during the series, but getting things posted is sometimes tricky, especially when I hated these photos so much. Oh well.

Aurora tank 5a

This version also has a cotton yoke, but I lined the yoke with a silky lining. To ensure the lining didn’t peek out at the edges (since it is bright turquoise, I simply shaved an eighth of an inch around the back neckline and armholes of the lining fabric only, making the outer fabric just a tiny bit larger. When sewn edge to edge like normal, this allowed that outer fabric to wrap around the lining just a tad and make it less visible. It worked really well in this simple tank!

Aurora tank 5d

I lined the horizontal lines up carefully, but was super sad when I took these pictures and realized that I could have centered the print on the back and it would have been so, so, so much better! Argh. It didn’t even occur to me until I saw these pictures!

Aurora tank 5c

So, there have been a lot of Aurora tanks on the blog lately. It has been fun trying new combos. I think my favorite is the chambray and pink, but I don’t know…I like the leopard and green, too. What do you think?

Colette seamwork Aurora Collage

Where have I seen this combo before – with Aurora tutorial

Colette aurora tank4I love the Green Winter Street dress that I made for the Pattern Review Surprise Sewing Bee last year! I feel like a million dollars in it. But, I don’t get to wear it often. It is a bit much for everyday, which is sad. So, I am paying homage to that dress by using the same fabric combo again in this version of the Seamwork magazine Aurora tank. It makes me think of the original dress, and that makes me happy.

Colette seamwork aurora tank2Recap on the fabrics – a french terry-ish knit that was labeled “Juicy Couture” on the remnant table, and the leopard is a very fluid knit that is soft as a baby’s bottom. They are both fabulous fabrics! I wish I had more of both of them, but at least I have used them twice and have enjoyed them thoroughly.

colette seamwork aurora tank3I made this with the same adjustments as before but scooped out the armhole just a bit and it is now perfect.

seamwork aurora tank1


Warning – this tutorial is a tricky move on the Aurora tank because of the gathers. If it was just a straight join it would be easy peasy. But there is much fiddling and working with it to get it all lined up and not puckered. I know that is why Colette did not recommend this method when writing the instructions. I’d guess it adds 15 or 20 minutes to the sewing time.


IMG_0547IMG_0549IMG_0554To join the shoulder straps cleanly, first sew the yoke pieces at the back neck and both armholes, right side to right side, following the pattern instructions. Leave the yoke inside out. Then stick a safety pin into the top of both the front pieces where you have already gathered and finished armhole and neckline edges. Use the safety pin to feed the front straight up into the inside out yoke, keeping the front piece as flat as possible. I recommend threading both through at the same time to ennsure they are both facing right side up and nothing gets twisted.

IMG_0555When it is up through the top of the each yoke strap, straighten the gathers. Take each side of the gathered piece and carefully place them tightly into the side of the strap opening. smoothing your gathers evenly across, then pin. My pins are crookedly shoving those corners tight against the edges.

Sew straight across the strap, perpendicular to the pins. I don’t trim my edges until I pull it out and see how everything lined up and how my gathers look. If it isn’t perfect you can always try again. Pull the front right out and take a look! It is like magic!


Now the join of the strap and the front are fully enclosed and are not going to flip out or ravel. I used this technique on all my Aurora tanks and I think it is such a nice touch.

Here is the first outfit I tried with my new leopard Aurora tank– I decided the greens didn’t match so I changed, but I love the vibe of the maxi skirt and the top. Maybe I should make a skirt that will match?

colette seamwork aurora tank 4

Aurora with a chambray yoke

Pink Seamwork Aurora tank1Have you noticed that my posts are going up later and later? Posting everyday is a challenge! But I’m keeping up (barely)…

Pink Aurora tank 2Here is my hot pink Seamwork Aurora made with a chambray yoke. I was right that a woven fabric could work! It is another cute, comfy top and doesn’t it go great with my Ikat Jamie jeans? I am completely handmade in this outfit.

Seamwork Aurora tank pinkTo compensate for the lack of stretch, I added 1/2″ to the width of the yoke back. That worked fine, but this pink hachi knit from grew immediately upon wearing. It is lovely and soft to wear but it got a lot wider around the bust and it makes the armholes look too wide. It is just a characteristic of the fabric that I didn’t know to compensate for. Not a huge deal, though. I’m just getting nit-picky with my 3rd version.

close up seamwork auroraTo create a clean finish with the ravelly chambray, I changed the construction a little bit. I sewed the back onto the top yoke first, before sewing the armholes and back neckline. Then I sewed the armholes and back neckline of the 2 yoke pieces right side to right side as instructed in the pattern. I did have to clip the rounded back neckline a little bit to get it to lay flat. Then I used my handy trick (that I promise I am writing a tutorial for) to enclose the front straps, pulled those through so all was right side out, then folded the facing yoke piece under before sewing a topstitch to catch it down. It looks neat and tidy and everything is enclosed!

Aurora tank with D

Passed the hug test!

I half tucked the front into my jeans, but I still prefer the length pretty long so I have options. What do you guys think? The soft, stretchy and growing knit makes this tank much more slouchy.  A very different fit with the new fabrics!