What’s In Style for Spring Sewing?

What’s In Style for Spring Sewing?

Spring sewing for your wardrobe is one of the best ways to chase away the end of winter woes.

What’s in style and on trend? What should you sew for this year?

What's In Style pin

Spring sewing: what’s still in style

There a few trends that popped up last year that we saw again this year on Spring runways, namely:

Lingerie-inspired fashions

Romantic and baby doll style lingerie continues to be a fashionable influence, with nightgown style dresses, both short and long, and even pajama styles being featured by many designers this year.

New this year to this category are wraps and dresses that mimic menswear-style silk robes.

Paper bag waists

These came back last year and we are still seeing them now. Luckily for us, they are easy to sew, especially for elastic waist skirts and pants. Just fold over the top of your garment an inch or more farther than you would normally fold over for an elastic casing, sew a line of stitching slightly lower than the fold to create the casing, insert your elastic, and voila.

Or sew a paper bag neck; higher necklines are on trend this year, too.

Or sew a paper bag neck; higher necklines are on trend this year, too.

Metallic shimmer and shine

Metallics started popping up everywhere last year, and these are still in now. You can sew most any garment in a lamé or other metallic fabric now.

Gold lamé? More like gold fabulous!

Gold lamé? More like gold fabulous!

Midi lengths

The flattering midi-length skirt is still where it’s at this year. We also see midi length cropped pants and jumpsuits cut to this length now.

The flattering midi-length skirt is still where it’s at this year.

The flattering midi-length skirt is still where it’s at this year.


Last year we saw these primarily as small, accordion style pleats. This year, these are still in style. But so are pleats of slightly wider widths.


Where large plaids were the rage last year, this year the trend is toward smaller plaids. You’ll also see a mixing and matching of similar plaids in differing scales worn together.

Forget the large plaids; small plaids are where it's at this year.

Forget the large plaids; small plaids are where it’s at this year.


Florals are usually everywhere in Spring. This year, they are trending a few different ways. Designers continued last year’s trend of using small scale florals in romantic, feminine style, though they’ve sometimes paired them with edgier pieces. The small scale romantic florals are particularly popular for jumpsuits now.

Larger, 70’s style florals are also popping up all over this year.

Larger, 70’s style florals are also popping up all over this year.


Large and wide ruffles continue to trend this year. Use these on blouses, skirts, and dresses.


Stripes were featured widely last year, and they are still big. We saw stripes on Spring runways this year in different ways. Vertical stripes in navy or black and white are in, and so are colorful, wide horizontal rugby stripes.  Pinstripes also featured widely in men’s shirt style dresses.

Use black & white stripes vertically this year.

Use black & white stripes vertically this year.

What’s New for Spring sewing 2017

Embroidery and embellishments everywhere

You can put your embroidery machine and embellishment software to good use in your Spring wardrobe now.

You can embroider any garment this year.

You can embroider any garment this year.

We saw embroidered motifs here and there last year, but it is more widely featured this year. Designers paired embroidered vests with embroidered pants and emblazoned dresses and blouses with heavy embroidery. Handbags especially were covered with embroidery designs this year.

Bags, blouses, dresses, jackets, and pants also saw lots of beading and sequins in designers’ Spring collections. From beaded and sequin designs such as florals to covered sleeves, embellishments are on trend.

Bold prints

Besides the kitschy 70’s style florals already mentioned here, other 70’s style prints are in. Also make use of graphic geometric prints this year, especially large scale prints.

Higher necklines

Mock turtlenecks are in, even on bathing suits. Boatneck styles are cut higher than usual, too, right at the neckline.  For necklines cut a bit lower, designers paired these with silk scarves wrapped tightly around the neck, to imitate the turtleneck style.

Pair dresses with less coverage, such as spaghetti straps, with higher necked tops worn underneath.

Shoulders out

There are also plenty of shoulder-baring styles this year. Off the shoulder cuts are popular, especially for peasant blouses and dresses.

Off the shoulder peasant top.

Off the shoulder peasant top.

Hopefully you still have the patterns you bought in 2011, because one shouldered designs are in again. One sleeved styles are trending, too.

A-line mini skirts

Cut these on the bias. A-line minis are my absolute favorite skirts to sew; I’ll share how to draft your own pattern for a perfectly fitting bias skirt here on the blog soon .


Sheer skirts over leotard style tops. Even sheer hoodies!

Sheers and cutouts are big this year, along with higher necklines.

Sheers and cutouts are big this year, along with higher necklines.


In tribute to David Bowie, 80’s style glam is trending now, especially with puffed-at-the shoulder sleeves and wide ruffles.

Flared hems

Both ankle flare pants hems and bell sleeved blouses are in style now.

Flared bell sleeves on a one-shouldered design.

Flared bell sleeves on a one-shouldered design.


Here is another major way what was hot in 2011 is back again today. Jumpsuits are big now, in all lengths, particularly wide legged midi styles, in floral prints.


Runways this year featured patchwork dresses of all kinds. From a mix of solids reminiscent of Amish quilts, to patchworks of patterns and florals, any kind of patchwork can work in your Spring sewing and wardrobe this year.

Feathery fringe

Feathery fringe is everywhere now, from necklines and sleeves to bags, even dresses covered in tiers of brightly colored feathered fringe.

Feathery trim.

Feathery trim.

BIG bags

While smaller handbags with heavy embroidery are in style, super XL bags are all the rage.

Spring sewing: color trends

Spring sewing: color trends

Besides the florals, bold patterns, and stripes trends already discussed, here are the color trends for this season:

  • Khaki – it’s everywhere
  • Pinks – pale pinks, mauves, raspberry
  • Blue – all shades of blue, especially several different blues worn together
  • Neutrals – these are featured more often than usual this year
  • Gold – metallics are hot in general, but especially gold
  • Yellow – while orange was hot last year, yellow seems to be the it color this year
  • Neons – these bright colors are coming back again now
Yellow & blue are both hot colors now.

Yellow & blue are both hot colors now.

I’m excited that patchwork and embroidery are trending now, and I’ll be adding more of these pieces to my closet. On the other hand, in style or not, you’ll never see me wearing yellow, gold, or feathery fringe!

Which of these styles are you excited to sew for your wardrobe now and which trends would you rather skip?

Sewing Myths and Sewing Myth Myths

Sewing Myths and Sewing Myth Myths

This week, I decided I’d write a bit about popular sewing myths. I have my own list but thought I’d do a quick Google search to see what others had written about the subject. This brought me to a few sewing myth lists that I found rather odd, and not at all myth-like – meaning I thought the myths were myths. Do you follow me?

I’m going to start with some things I do believe are myths, and then get the myth myths part.

Myth 1: quilting direction

It’s ok to quilt some rows up and some rows down when quilting a garment.

Not true. There will be less possibility of bubbling or puffing if you quilt all the rows in the same direction. Overall, the whole garment will look better.

Myth 2: smaller underlining

The underlining should be smaller than the fashion fabric, especially on a jacket.

Not always true. It really depends on the fabrics being used. Hair canvas should be slightly smaller to prevent buckling but it will also restrict the give or stretch of a fabric it is joined with. Many tailors cut their canvas on the bias to prevent this.

Myth 3: cutting selvage edge

Always cut off the selvage edge.

Not true. If you think the selvage will shrink, clip the edges so it will lie flat. Otherwise, there is no need to cut it off.

Myth 4: basting stitches

Stitch next to basting stitches when sewing a basted seam lines.

Not true. If you do have the need to baste seams together, always sew right on top of the basted lines for accuracy.

Myth 5: necklines

Machine stay stitch necklines to prevent stretching.

Another, more accurate way to prevent any stretching in your necklines (and arms eyes) is to leave a whole bunch of seam allowance until you’ve done your stay stitching.

Another, more accurate way to prevent any stretching in your necklines (and arms eyes) is to leave a whole bunch of seam allowance until you’ve done your stay stitching.

Not always true. You can also hand baste your seam line, also called thread tracing. If you do machine stitch your necklines, take special care not to stretch the fabric as you sew. Another, more accurate way to prevent any stretching in your necklines (and arms eyes) is to leave a whole bunch of seam allowance until you’ve done your stay stitching. When it comes to necklines, I usually cut a straight line from shoulder seam to shoulder, leaving all the extra fabric there. If I’m bias binding the neck edge, I attach my bias without trimming anything away too. This prevents any possibility of the neckline stretching.

Myth 6: top = waistline

The top of your pants or skirt is your waistline.

Very often not true. Your waistline is where your body is the smallest, most times an inch or so above your navel. This is why, often, when you measure a pair of pants that is sized as a 27, the waistband of the pants measures more than 27.

And now, for a few sewing myth myths.

Myth myth 1: $ewing cost too much

Sewing is too expensive.

This really depends on how you look at. Sewing is not necessarily expensive but it isn’t cheap either. Especially, most especially, if you are taking into account your time. I earn my living by sewing. And my years of experience and knowledge aren’t cheap. Sewing is a skill. I always ask people what they pay their car mechanic or plumber an hour. Often, it’s somewhere in the 60 to 100 dollar and hour range. If you don’t want to pay that amount of money, you figure out how to do it yourself. The same goes for sewing.

If you’re making something for yourself or as a gift out of love then it could possibly be cheaper than buying the same thing. But remember, nice high-end fabric and supplies are not cheap, nor should they be. If you want cheap, buy clothing made in Malaysia or Bangladesh sold at Old Navy or someplace like that.

Myth myth 2: sewing is the hardest

Sewing is too hard.

Well isn’t not exactly easy, either. To sew really well takes practice. I find it incredibly annoying when someone says something like, “It’s just an easy alteration, it won’t take long.” If you don’t sew, how do you know? And if you do sew, you should know that sometimes you open a thing up to do what should be an easy alteration and find you’ve just taken the lid off a proverbial can of worms.

Myth myth 3: sewing super powers

Sewers have special creative talents.

I believe everyone, if they put their mind to it, can learn how to sew. But saying that sewers (I actually hate that word) do not have special creative talent is ridiculous. I think I’ve said this before, but really good tailors and pattern makers know the language of fabric. I don’t know how else to put it. And that, is indeed, a special talent.

Thanks for the Fabric, Tahari

Throughout my career I’ve worked on a variety of projects. People often ask what my favorite show to work was, or what my favorite period is. Both of those questions are difficult for me to answer. I could probably tell you what my least favorite show to work on was but narrowing them all down to one single absolute best and favorite is not possible.

It all depends. Some projects require more creativity than others. Some are relatively simple straightforward gigs that involve hemming a staggeringly large number of pants. Some shows are more stressful than others with a higher than normal rate of last minute changes. Some involve working with difficult people. Others are filled with co-workers that quickly become family.

Whenever I mention any of the period shows or movies I’ve worked on, people usually say, “Oh that must be so much fun!” When I say I work on a contemporary procedural crime drama, the response is more something like, “Oh. The show with the tattoos?” or “That’s interesting.” Meaning: That doesn’t sound interesting at all. Don’t actors just wear store bought clothes? What do you possibly have to tailor on those shows?

To this all I can do is laugh. No major actor or actress on any contemporary procedural crime drama wears clothing that hasn’t been fit and altered specifically for him or her.

There are, always, a few exceptions to this, notably when a talented costume designer knows the cut and style of high-end clothing well enough to know which designer label will fit a particular actor the best with little or no alteration. Frank Fleming who designs Power for Starz Network is an absolute master at this.

I truly enjoy working on Blindspot (my current gig). Everyone in the costume/wardrobe department is absolutely amazing and all the actors are lovely to work with.

One of the lead actresses wears a lot of expensive high-end dresses and skirts and blouses. Most of the dresses I alter for her require alterations in the shoulder, side, and waist seams. Altering the shoulder seams means the neckline will need to be altered and the sleeve taken out and reset. Altering the side seam means (again) the sleeve will need to be removed and put back on. Basically, I must take apart the entire dress and put it back together (Thanks for the fabric, Tahari! or Black Halo or Escada or Nanette Lepore).

We also do things like changing necklines (from a high scoop to a vee) and changing short sleeves to long sleeves or even adding sleeves altogether. Jared B Leese who designs Blindspot comes up with many creative and brilliant ways to alter something so that it no longer is a dress ‘off the rack’. He’ll ask things like, “Can you open this neckline?” or “Will you make sleeves for this dress?” or “What if we turn this into a v-neck – do you think that would look better.”

The answer is always “yes”.

This beautiful suede Tahari dress used to have a high crew neckline and short sleeves:

Tahari dress with new neckline and sleeves.

Tahari dress with new neckline and sleeves.

This lovely dress (also by Tahari, I think) used to be sleeves and all suede. We replaced the center panel and added some sleeves.

Tahari dress with new sleeves and center piece.

Tahari dress with new sleeves and center piece.

And this Black Halo dress used to be navy.

To be honest, this one was a complete rebuild. I copied the pattern from the existing dress, made a few adjustments and cut out and built a whole new dress.

Make of Black halo dress.

Make of Black halo dress.

See, contemporary procedural crime dramas are anything but boring (and often my favorite type of show to work on).

Just a closer view of the Black Halo dress.

Just a closer view of the Black Halo dress.