How To

the TÉLIO collection: gorgeous guipure

Lace is one of my favorite fabrics. I don’t use it all that often because no matter what you do with it it’s quite dressy and formal, but it still catches my eye at the fabric store, every single time. I don’t have many opportunities in my real life to rock something lacy – it might look a little silly on a grocery run or when I’m running around in the backyard with our puppies. But, wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I type that I remember a white lace skirt with an elastic waistband hanging in the closet that I love and have worn countless times. I usually wore a denim button up with it and some leather sandals and a hat. Made a fantastic summer outfit. So, all of that to say lace is formal but it can also be, let’s call it, “dressy casual.”

This is the finale week in my series with TÉLIO, and I’ve been beside myself to share these final two looks with you. (The second, a navy satin dress with black trim is coming on Friday!) This is such a great way to round out the collection, and I absolutely love the fabric in today’s post. I made this dress with TÉLIO black guipure lace, a French lace I’ve used a number of times over the years. It’s a bobbin lace, which means the motifs are connected by bars or plaits – not mesh or net. Essentially, it’s an “open weave” lace with no backing. There’s no traditional scalloped edge, but you can cut around the motifs and finish the edge with a little fabric glue to create the scallop. (I did just that on the hem of the skirt.) This lace is medium weight, 100% polyester, and it was the motifs that caught my eye. I love those leaves!

My original idea was for a dress with a fitted bodice and a midi length pleated skirt. I can’t tell you how many times I went back and forth thinking about what to do with this lace. I wanted to do the fabric justice, but I also wanted to do something fresh and new, so I decided to forgo the fit and flare in favor of something more fitted and sophisticated. (Plus, you saw a fit and flare in a yummy marigold lace a few weeks back, and you know I’ll be back to that silhouette eventually.)

I would have loved to make the skirt a little longer so that the flounce started below the knee more (creating a longer line), but then the flounce would have to have been narrower to keep the dress the same length. Or, I could have made the flounce floor length, but I really wanted to keep this dress midi length. I don’t have many occasions that call for a floor length lace dress!

I’m loving the sheath dress silhouette right now, and I thought an interesting way to elevate it was to add a mermaid flounce to the skirt. The simple addition of velvet ribbon around the waist and on the skirt, makes this piece perfect for fall and winter – and I’m crazy about those textures velvet together. They make a great pair!

I underlined the lace in white to make the lace pop, and used horsehair under the flounce to give it a little more volume. I cut around the motifs along the hem, which is a nice detail there.

Now, for the pattern. I mashed together the bodice of Vogue 9197 (also making it bateau neck) with the skirt from McCall’s 7540. This isn’t difficult to do, but the waistline on the bodice from Vogue 9197 actually sits above the natural waist, so I had to make some adjustments to make sure the patterns not only matched at the side seams but so that the skirt wasn’t too short through the hips. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to make the McCall’s pattern, and it’s quite nice. It’s been drafted generously through the hips which is to say that, if anything, you might need to take it in that area for a more personalized fit. And I may never have an occasion for a floor length skirt, but I think I’ll be making the skirt again soon in that length. It’s so flattering.

I’m so happy with this dress, and it’s a welcome addition to my closet. I appreciate special occasion dresses that don’t show so much flesh. I have always believed in the power of mystery. There’s also something about long sleeves in formalwear that I find incredibly refreshing. But don’t worry, I’ll be back on Friday for the last look in this collection, and it’s sleeveless and fabulous – and I will lose count of the number of times I will wear it.

See y’all Friday!

the TÉLIO collection: emerald encore

The dress in today’s post wasn’t planned. Originally, the folks at TÉLIO and I were going to end this fall series today with two pretty incredible special occasion pieces. Dresses made with yards and yards of satin and lace and a whole lot of horsehair, but this whole thing has been so much fun that we decided to sneak in an extra week. I’ve been both touched and humbled by the response from all of you too – I think we’ve all had a really great time watching this collection come together. It’s also been tons of fun watching the reaction to each look. I had a feeling the lemon print garments would be a hit, but I’ve been quite surprised by the response to the greens. (Last week’s cozy ponte knit looks in that yummy spruce green have gotten the most views and comments than anything else so far – crazy!) This emerald green rayon batiste from week three was also a winner, and it’s for that reason that we decided to feature it again.

This fabric is available at fabric.com, and not only do I love this color year round, it would also be pretty fantastic for Christmas. Or, another idea is a pretty pajama set with a robe trimmed in some delicate lace or a blouse with statement sleeves or a duster or a full skirt. You get the idea – this fabric makes pretty clothes. I’ll be using it again in the spring to make a maxi dress.

I use rayon all the time. It’s one of my favorite fabrics because it mimics lightweight silk for a fraction of the price, it feels incredible to wear, and it works well in the Texas heat for most of the year. I also love how beautifully it drapes, which is why I chose McCall’s 7566. This pattern is from the spring collection, and I was attracted to it because there are options for a little more coverage without a traditional sleeve. The ruffle and cape-style options are really lovely, and I like the delicate skirt. I wouldn’t recommend this pattern for beginners, because those narrow hems take experience and patience to execute, and gathering the skirt can be a little tedious.

I cut my usual size, but I think the pattern runs a little big. I could easily go down a full size and still have plenty of wearing ease. I cut view A and added a few inches of length to the skirt, and I also used the back bodice piece from view D because I can’t wear things with a low cut back. Other than that, I made no changes. I lined the dress in bemberg rayon, and the lining is navy blue simply because of the three colors I had on hand it looked the best with the emerald. I love that combination though – looks great.

The first dress I made with this fabric was less fitted and had elastic around the waist. Because this dress has a more fitted bodice with a skirt that is gathered onto it, I staystitched the waistline on the bodice. Just like staystitching keeps a neckline or armholes from stretching out of shape, staystitching the waistline does the same thing. I’ve found that it helps keep the bodice stable as you gather the skirt onto the bodice. For heavier, more stable fabrics like sateen or twill, I will often fuse a lightweight interfacing around the waistline. You can do this to rayon too, just be sure to use a lightweight interfacing.

The arrow points to the staystitching around the waistline on the bodice.

Until recently, I had nothing in my closet in this color. I’m happy that’s changed now!

I hope you’re enjoyed this series as much as I have, and I can’t wait for next week. I’ve saved the best for last!

the TÉLIO collection: perfect ponte

There was a time when I never wanted to work with knits. Stretchy fabrics just weren’t my thing. I thought things like t-shirts and lounge pants and cardigans were boring and dull, and I went for a long stretch of time (years, folks) where not a single stretchy fabric inspired me. Eventually, things changed. I went from never really thinking about knit garments (I was too busy with fluffy tulle skirts and cotton and linen everything) to a newfound appreciation for all things stretchy. Plus, I fell for ponte.

Ponte is a double-knit interlock fabric. It has a more full-bodied drape to it, and it’s much more substantial and thick than a typical jersey or ITY knit. (ITY stands for Interlock Twist Yarn, which just means there’s a twist in the yarn that gives the fabric a more elastic feel. ITY’s are very, very drapey and soft.) Unless I need something more lightweight like a jersey, I always go for ponte. It has the same characteristics that other stretchy fabrics have as far as comfort goes, but because it’s more stable and firm, it’s easier to work with and it is incredibly flattering. It stretches but recovers much better than other knits, meaning it maintains it’s original shape well. Whereas you might have stretched out knees at the end of the day in other knits, that’s not the case with ponte. It’s pretty much the best thing ever.

When I chose the fabrics for this collection with TÉLIO, I knew I wanted a variety of fabrics, and including ponte was a no-brainer for all the reasons I just mentioned and because it’s a great fabric for fall and winter. This particular ponte – and my preference, always – is a rayon/nylon blend ponte. Polyester ponte knits are fine, but the rayon/nylon versions are softer and hold up much better over time. Polyester also has a tendency to pill, so as a general rule I try to avoid it. I will say, though, that polyester has come a long, long way and modern poly doesn’t always have the issues that it once did. Still, can’t beat the rayon/nylon blends.

This spruce green ponte (65% Rayon/30% Nylon/5% Spandex) is the softest, best quality ponte I’ve ever worked with. It’s stretchy without being rigid, and the drape is elegant and lofty. You can buy this fabric at Sew Much Fabric.

I wanted two pieces in this yummy ponte: a fitted dress and a cardigan. I liked the versatility of both pieces. They can be worn together or separately, and each can be styled in a number of different ways. Let’s talk about this dress first though, because this dress could be a blog post all on its own. It’s one of those pieces that has haunted me for years, and that’s no exaggeration. I adore this silhouette, adore it. However, I happen to have a curvier body type that is more of a challenge to fit in this type of dress. I’ve spent the past couple of years admiring from afar all the lovely ladies who made this dress for themselves and applauded how killer they all looked in it. The pattern is McCall’s 6886, easily one of their all-time best-sellers. It’s everything everyone says about it and more, I promise. I will, without a doubt, be making a few more versions.

I’ve spent a good amount of time over the years trying on dresses like this in stores, only to be frustrated with the fit and really, really disappointed that I don’t have the type of body that can slip on a dress like this and look good in it. I should have known better and not wasted so much time trying to force something mass-produced to work for me. All it took was  the right pattern and a couple of tweaks to the fit to give me a dress that looks better, is better quality, and fits better than anything I could ever buy.

I cut my regular size, and graded down a size at the waist, and back out at the hips. I added seam allowance to the center back to save fabric (the pattern has you cut both front and back on the fold, which unnecessarily uses a lot of fabric). Plus, that gives me a back seam to make fitting adjustments if I need to. I went with a custom length of 27″ from the waist and cut the long sleeves from view B. I had a lazy moment and did not make a swayback adjustment, so there’s a little fabric excess at my lower back. I’ll make that adjustment before cutting version #2.

I used a size 90 stretch needle and the “stretch medium” setting on my sewing machine. I serged all the seams, and hemmed the sleeves and skirt hem with a blind hem. I do this whenever possible on knits, because I think it’s a cleaner finish that a double row of stitching. The neck is finished with a narrow hem. You simply press it under, press under again, and sew it.

I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to have finally tackled this project. Like most everything else, I was making it a bigger challenge than it really was. I was worried this dress would be too tight around the waist, but it’s not. I have a tummy that needs to be kept in check, but I don’t even need support garments under this dress. If it were smaller and in a lighter color I might want to slip on a shaping garment, but there’s no need with this dress. It’s comfortable, easy to sew, and flattering. I’ll be making this in navy (of course) and red soon, but I’m also planning a sequin version of it. Really excited about that one.

Cardigans are another favorite of mine, and I especially like them for traveling. Skinny jeans, flats, a simple tee, and a cardigan is my go-to look for chilly autumn days, running errands, and long travel days. It’s just so easy and comfortable. I don’t, however, always like how shapeless cardigans are. I am way too curvy to be walking around in anything too baggy or that doesn’t cinch my waist – I end up looking like a sloppy, lazy mess. It does nothing for my style, and I don’t feel good in it at all. Comfy clothes can still be all the things I like my style to be, and it’s usually as easy as adding a belt.

I don’t hate this cardigan without a belt, actually. As long as I keep the other pieces fitted, I can get away with no belt.

I wanted a simple cardigan, but something with a little more length and swing to it. I used McCall’s 6084, and added a belt to it. I keep a few pocket patterns and one or two belt patterns at the ready for projects like this, so I just used a pattern from my pattern stash to make the belt.

I cut view D, and I didn’t make a single change to the pattern. I don’t love the pivot/clip/press method for attaching the collar, so I didn’t follow the instructions for finishing those seams as the pattern suggests. Instead of clipping the back seam down to nothing and pressing the shoulder seams open, I just ran the whole thing through the serger. It cleans it up the best way possible. And because this ponte knit is a little thicker than the lightweight knits listed on the pattern, I did not do a narrow hem (too bulky). I simply turned the seam under once and stitched close to the raw edge. I went with a blind hem on the sleeves. Otherwise, everything else is great and comes together really well. This one is easy to sew.

These projects were exceptionally refreshing to make. It feels great to mix things up and add a little variety to the things I usually make. There will definitely be multiple versions made of both of these pieces in the coming weeks. And don’t forget that @teliofashion will be giving away a three yard piece of this gorgeous ponte knit – watch for the post on Instagram!

See y’all next week!

the TÉLIO collection: lemons & lace

There’s nothing more fun than the challenge of putting a collection together, and for how much I go on and on about how much I love it I sure don’t have a chance to do it very often. I blame all the pretty fabrics out there – it’s too easy to get distracted and work on individual, unrelated sewing projects. But this, this collection with TÉLIO fabrics, has been nothing short of incredible, and it’s the most fun I’ve had sewing all year. It’s given me the opportunity to add a few new things to my closet in some truly exceptional fabrics, but it’s also challenged me to think about a group of projects as a whole: the color story, the prints, how each piece makes sense next to one another. And the dresses in today’s post in this series really highlight all of that. The best part? We still have two weeks to go!

Over the past few weeks I’ve mentioned that my inspiration for this fall collection was the lemon print sateen. It’s the anchor of the collection, and it’s what I used to determine the other colors, textures, and prints. I knew going into this that I’d be using it twice – as the anchor print it’s nice to see it more than once. The marigold lace (although I’m thinking it’s more “buttercup” than “marigold” after studying it for the past month) is two things: it’s a happy pop of color and also an interesting texture in an otherwise smooth group of fabrics. I went with this particular shade of yellow because it picks up on the darker yellow in the lemon, not the bright, sunshine yellow that really stands out in the print. It’s a little more subtle and a better fit for a fall collection.

The lemon print sateen (the Bloom Sateen Print 38203 -04) is available at EmmaOneSock Fabrics, and the yellow Amelia lace is available at Sew Much Fabric. Fabric.com also carries the Amelia lace in six colors. (That royal blue is stunning!)

The Amelia lace is a nylon/cotton blend, and it’s lightweight but not too delicate. I wanted to make a classic dress that showed off the beautiful scalloped edge, and I also wanted to underline the lace to make it pop a little more. I cut a dirndl skirt so that the hem was a totally straight edge and hemmed the underlining to just above the highest point of the scallop. This way, you don’t miss the scalloped edge, but the underlining isn’t an odd length – and it still does its job of adding a little more volume to the lace.

I used the bodice from Vogue 9197 and the skirt from Vogue 8789, which worked perfectly to create the skirt I was going for. It would pop even more with a petticoat!

One of my favorite dresses of all time is this dress in a large scale floral with lots of blues and greens. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worn it, and it’s because of that and other reasons that I decided to use this lemon print and make another version of that dress. This is one of those dresses that just makes me happy because it’s so my style and such a beautiful print. I drafted a full circle skirt on to the bodice from Vogue 9197 and fully lined the dress. I lengthened the bodice by about 3/4″, and the skirt is 27″ long. I added a facing to the neckline, because I think it looks a little more high end.

Many of you know my penchant for making multiple versions of a pattern, when the pattern is really, really great. Well, Vogue 9197 has had a mighty great run in the last year, but it’s being retired to the archives now. It’s an excellent pattern with lots to love (the fit, the perfect sleeve, the French dart in the front, the fact that you can draft any skirt you want on it), but I’m good with four versions of it – especially because each of those dresses have been and will continue to be worn for a long, long time.

I’m so excited about the last two looks in this series, and I think (I hope!) you’re really going to enjoy seeing them. Next week’s dress is a return to knits, and I’ve used a brand new pattern to bring it to life. Then, for the big finale, I’m doing cocktail separates that are probably the fanciest, prettiest special occasion looks I’ve ever made for myself. I can’t give too much away just yet, but I will tell you that there’s almost 20 yards of fabric involved. And don’t forget that TÉLIO is hosting a weekly giveaway of all the fabrics I’m using, so follow them on Instagram and watch for the contest post. That’s one of the most fun parts of this for me – I love seeing you guys win pretty things!

the TÉLIO collection: enchanting emerald

I can’t think of a single color I don’t like. I definitely have favorites that I wear a lot, but it’s hard to think of a color that I make a concerted effort to avoid or that I just don’t care for. I’ve spent a great deal of time looking for fabric in just the right color over the years too. Navy must be rich and dark, not vintage or faded looking, yellow should be bright without being gaudy or cheap looking, and reds should be true red – not too orange, not too blue. Emerald is also a color I love, especially for fall, and it’s a color I think I wear well. (After a summer in lots of white, I’m reminded thanks to all the pictures I take that white is actually not a great color on me. So, moving forward: less white, more bold colors. Hold me to it.)

I found this fabric shortly after discovering the lemon print fabric for my fall collection series with TÉLIO. The moment I saw it I not only squealed with delight at having finally found the perfect shade of emerald, but I also knew it would work exceptionally well with the lemon print, the small scale polka dot, the marigold lace, and the pine ponte knit. (You haven’t seen the ponte knit yet but it’s good. Really good.) The emerald plays up the leaves on the lemon print so nicely, and it’s nice to have that color as an accent with the other fabrics.

The fantastic part about this fabric is that it is in stock at fabric.com. It’s 100% Viscose Rayon, 56″ wide, and it’s machine washable.

Rayon (also called viscose) is made from wood pulp, a naturally occurring, cellulose-based raw material. I like it because its characteristics are similar to that of linen and cotton, and it is beyond comfortable to wear in the Texas heat. I love the drape of viscose batiste or challis, and it’s easy to work with and launder. It also retains color well, which is why you can find such rich colors in a rayon fabrication. It doesn’t pill unless the fabric is made from short, low-twist yarns (I’ve never had a rayon that even remotely pilled), and it doesn’t build up static electricity. Rayon does, however, wrinkle so loose fitting garments are best (full skirts and dresses, flowy tops, and scarves). Bemberg rayon is also a fantastic option for linings. I choose it over polyester or acetate every time.

This particular rayon is a batiste, so it’s especially lightweight and drapes exceptionally well. It’s opaque enough to forgo a lining, which is great. Use a little extra care when you cut it out, because it can be a tad slippery (no edges hanging off your cutting table!), and I would also pin your pieces together in one or two additional areas as you sew it just to ensure it doesn’t move around. I used a size 70 universal needle, all purpose thread, and I serged all the raw edges. French seams would also be lovely. I let the dress rest on the dress form overnight to let the bias fall, then I leveled it and hemmed it.

I used an out-of-print pattern, Butterick 5878, and I replaced the tiered skirt with a full circle skirt for the most movement. I’ve made this dress twice before, over a year ago. It’s easy to sew, and very, very comfortable. I especially love the elastic around the waist.


For those of us in warmer climates where seasons take their sweet time arriving (or don’t change at all), color is a great way to dress for the season without layering or piling on coats or things that don’t make sense for the weather. So this emerald viscose makes for one seriously pretty dress, and I can ease my way into fall without looking or feeling ridiculous. Considering how much I love this color, I’m surprised that this dress is the first garment in this color I have in my closet. I think I’m looking at a fall season jam packed with emerald green!