Electric Blue

I don’t really edit blog photos much – sometimes a little rotation/cropping, or leveling to show details – but I didn’t touch these. These culottes are blue. How blue?

This blue!


My aesthetic is often neutral and earthy and discreet, like “Oh look at this stoneware, it’s so taupe, how daring”, especially when it comes to pants (“Is this denim medium enough?”) but not today, Kinfolk. These are midi-length MN Tania Culottes in electric blue rayon/linen, and hand to heart they’ve actually faded in the wash.

Enough blue language (waggles eyebrows), let’s talk about the pattern. As you can see, they’re missing the Tania ‘thing’, that clever hidden pleat in front and back. I think it’s really elegant. It’s just one of the elements that didn’t work for me.

First of all, I had what seems to be a common problem – I sewed my size, L, but my fronts and backs were narrower than the waistband. It’s an easy fix, though a little surprising to find in an indie pattern from a high-caliber designer. I narrowed the pleats by 5/8” each (basically, moving the pleat stitch line 5/8” closer to the crotch).

Then my first invisible zipper broke. As always, I kindly implore invisible zippers to go kick a cow. This isn’t particularly high-quality fabric (it was cheap though, party on), and when I unpicked the broken zipper I popped some threads in a couple places. After fusing a patch of self-fabric to the back of each hole and stitching around the patches, I installed a new zipper. This time I got a funny tuck of fabric where the zipper meets the side seam. I didn’t want to risk unpicking again so I am very much living with it!

I used a real potpourri of seam finishes. The zipper side seams are serged separately; the crotch and other side seam are French-seamed. I cut the inseams on the selvages and didn’t finish them at all. The hems are curved gradually enough that I was able to sew a simple double-fold hem with no trouble, which is nice, because there’s two of them and they’re long!


Unfortunately, I didn’t love the finished culottes. The waistband was a little betwixt-and-between – wider than usual, but not quite wide enough to be a statement – the pocket openings were buckling, and the pleat didn’t really suit me. So I wore these very sporadically until I got sick back in January (ordinary flu B). I didn’t have the oomph to sew much but I made a lot of progress with my mending, especially these!

Most importantly I wanted to fix the pockets. I actually bought this pattern before the pocket piece was added, but I didn’t want to reprint, so I just winged my own opening angle/length. So my gapey pockets weren’t the fault of the pattern. It does seem to happen to the ‘official’ pockets, too, but luckily it’s an easy fix.


I just smooshed the excess past the waistline and trimmed it off. While I was in there, I also converted the pleats to gathers. Finally I narrowed the waistband to a finished width of 1.25”. I’m much happier now!


These are really comfortable and easy to move in! Happily, my pockets are smooth now!


I think this color is pretty easy to dress up or down. I actually sewed these for a specific event. When we were briefly in London last summer we were gifted a tea in the Winter Garden Restaurant at the Landmark Hotel. I wore these with a dressy white blouse, and, I’m sure, a big goofy tourist grin. The tea began with two men in top hats simultaneously opening double doors so we could sweep into the lobby, and only got better from there!


There was a piano player taking requests, who I never actually saw because he was hidden in some indoor palm grove. A hushed and scornful man brought us endless vanilla-scented tea and ice cold cream in heavy silver pitchers. Even the air felt fancy. It was delicious and elegant and probably the most memorable meal of my life. I want to go back!   

Speaking of wanting to go back, look what finally arrived in the mail…


Well, I’ll wear it in gratitude and hope. And I’ll wear my updated, very blue culottes much more often, too!


I can’t do this in a skirt! Can you tell I’m about to crack up and roll off a wall?

7 weeks into shutdown, the only way out is through! May your tea be hot and your cream cold! ❤

Pattern: MN Tania Culottes

Pattern cost: NA (previously made)

Size: L

Supplies: 3 yards of cobalt linen/rayon, $15.00, Sewfisticated; thread, zipper, $3.04, Sewfisticated; zipper, $1.50, Gather Here

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $19.54

Witchy Weekend

Never before seen on this blog: A HAT! Oh! I didn’t make it though!


And it’s not the point of this post! Today is pants. But I’ve owned the hat for a couple years and only in the last few weeks have figured out how to wear it (hats are hard, aren’t they?) so excuse my pride. Hat people, I am one of you now! For brief bursts, before losing my nerve!

Anyway, the pants. They’re a combination of two Megan Nielsen patterns – the Tanias and the Flints. The fabric is repurposed from what was briefly the skirt portion of a failed dress which was itself part of a failed Halloween costume (this costume was the ultimate ‘fail better’ for me – I also got two Hemlock tees out of it!). The skirt was based on the Tania culottes pattern pieces with the crotch extension whacked off. That’s step one of my probably ill-advised but ultimately successful pattern mash-up, as seen below.  

Okay, picture a giant flashing red light: THIS IS NOT BEST PRACTICES. THIS IS NOT EVEN RECOMMENDED PRACTICES. But it IS what I did…


 After that, I just sewed these exactly like the Flint culottes. I got lucky that they came together without drama; it also helped that these were both MN patterns. Little things like the consistent pocket extension made merging these patterns a lot easier. I’ve absolutely gotten my money’s worth from the Flint pattern, even before taking into account the cash I’ve saved on zippers!


And the time spent buying them, too! It’s nice to be able to dive into a sewing experiment without taking a bus to a shop first.


The finished garment is shorter and wider than the Flints, but narrower and more pants-like than the Tanias. The resurrected fabric is a cheapy linen/rayon blend. I have mixed feelings about it; I certainly would have been less cavalier about cutting and experimenting with a more expensive fabric. But, since I like the pants, I now wish they were made from something sturdier!

We’ve had a lovely long warm fall, but the mornings and evenings are chilly, so I’ve been tossing this shawl over a lot of outfits –


Not me-made, sadly, but it’s just a rectangle with a slit down the front. It’s essentially one of these or these without the belt openings. I’d like to try actually following one of those tutorials at some point.

I get a ton of use out of these pants. They’re pretty much a three-season garment – swishy in summer, spooky in fall, cozy in winter with thick tights. Dress ‘em up, dress ‘em down, but their ultimate purpose is startling people who say something nice about your skirt.



I feel witchy and practical in these. I’m not Gothic or Victorian (no ruffles, lacing, or intricate details) but maybe I can cultivate a semi-minimalist witchsona (witchsewna?!). For clothing goals – not to mention lifestyle goals – clean house, homemade cider!! – I’m thinking Morwen from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. Except she has magic sleeves that can store supplies for days. I’ll get to work on that…  


And in the meantime, I’ll just be here concocting spells sewing plans in my poison garden the local native pollinator garden, listening to my Halloween mix…see you next time!

Pattern: MN Tanias and MN Flints

Pattern cost: NA (already used)

Size: Tanias: L, Flints: 14

Supplies: remade Halloween costume; thread from stash

 Total time: 4 hours

Total cost: $0.00

Summer of Love, Part Three

This dress was pants! Briefly! Well, culottes. This is the tale of its transformation. Welcome to episode 3 of the Summer of Love!

This was very, very temporarily a pair of midi-length Tania culottes, size L in old money. I’d been wild to make them for a while, but I rarely buy 3+ yards of fabric at a go. Happily Gather Here had a summer sale at the beginning of wedding season, and the Tanias seemed just right for an upcoming casual-nice engagement party!

I finished the culottes with about 18 hours to spare (maybe you’ve sung this song yourself) and popped them on for a triumphant fashion show. Twist!! I must have fudged the grainlines because instead of falling from the widest part of my hip, they hugged my leg to about mid-thigh and then abruptly belled out. NOT triumphant. Not even close. Triumph sent its sincerest regrets but would not be attending my legs.

Without a back-up plan, I unpicked the ol’ leg-bags and freestyled a dress. The culottes became its skirt. This was simple to engineer – I cut off the crotch extension of each piece and smoothed the waist, like so.

Then I pieced the skirt front and skirt back at the center seams. Since the Tanias are so full, that left a respectable amount of swing and flare, even sans crotch.

Unfortunately, I ended up with four little holes, from what used to be the ends of the big box pleats (the red dot on my diagram above).

Using about a square centimeter of scrap fabric and fusible hem tape, I ironed a jiffy patch to the wrong side of each hole. So far they’re holding!

For the bodice, I used the Workroom Social Tate Top (free to newsletter subscribers) in the cropped length. I had previously made this pattern as a scrap-buster. As a crop top, you can really squeeze it onto random odds and ends, especially if you add seaming. I got this from the culottes off-cuts with nothing to spare!

Rather than using a zip, as the pattern recommends, I divided the back bodice horizontally about 5” down. Then I cut the two upper pieces and hemmed the vertical edges separately for a simple opening. It closes with a thread chain and mother-of-pearl button, but I can get in and out without unbuttoning. I’ve definitely made versions of this with no opening at all, but you know your own coconut best!

Then I just gathered the skirt top to fit (it didn’t take much gathering), stitched them together, pressed that seam up, and topstitched. Crossed my fingers for another first try-on and hey presto! A dress!

With a handy belt leftover from a Halloween costume (I was an Egyptologist, Professor BF was a curséd mummy, it was adorable, we’re very proud), I was party-ready.

Oddly I find the Tate cropped length borderline too short for a shirt but definitely too long for a dress bodice! But by then I was sleepy. So I wore the finished dress to the engagement do, and then forgot to adjust it, and then wore it to other Summer of Love events – a bridal shower, another engagement party. It’s not quite fancy enough for a fancy wedding, but it worked great for these Bacchanals/Burning Mans/just kidding we ate finger food in a backyard.   

I wore my Halloween belt with this each time, but I might prefer it casually unbelted!

You know what – seeing this steadily and seeing it whole, I’m gonna tweak it again. I love the color and the weight of this fabric, but the bodice never sat quite right, especially in the back, and it’s a smidge tight at the underarms.

Once more for the chop, dear dress!  

Previous Summer of Love found here (part one) and here (part two).

Pattern: MN Tania culottes

Pattern cost: $9.50

Size: L, in the old MN system

Supplies: 3 1/4 yards Kaufman Essex linen/cotton in Seafoam, Gather Here, $28.60; zipper and thread, $4.60, Gather Here; button from stash

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $42.70

Pattern: Workroom Social Tate Top, as dress

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 8

Supplies: disassembled Tania culottes + leftover fabric

Total time: 5 hours

Total cost: $0.00