Two Pieces | Vogue 9181 + Jalie Emilie

An Outfit for First Snow of the Season

We had a marvellous autumn in western Canada with warm dry days and just a couple of hints of frost. When I was perusing Fabric Mart Fabric’s site in October, I was tempted to focus on pretty florals for blouses or dresses but part of me knew that … (da dah dum … ) winter was coming. Fortunately, Fabric Mart was stocked with a huge selection of cooler weather fabrics that are perfect for winter or holiday sewing.

Over the past several months I’ve been planning my sewing projects so I have pieces that work together so I decided to pick a print fabric for a top, and a solid for pants, using navy as the base.


For the pants I selected a Poly/Nylon/Spandex Stretch Corduroy in Navy. Corduroy is great for cooler weather, but if you live in a cold climate with blast furnaces you know that heavyweight cord can feel good outdoors but too warm when you come inside. This fine 14-wale corduroy is warm enough to wear outdoors but will be especially comfortable indoors. It also has a bit of drape which makes it nice for trousers. And who doesn’t want some stretch?

I selected Vogue 9181 (Custom-Fit Bootcut Pants) because it is designed for stretch woven fabrics, it has bootcut legs, and it has a front mock zip. For the past several months I’ve been working on the Top Down Center Out fitting method for pants and this pattern, with its shaped waistband, works especially well when learning Top Down Center Out. I first made a half-toile using muslin, then marked up the pattern and cut out the corduroy. The fabric was really easy to cut and sew. It does shed a bit but not nearly as much as cotton corduroy. I used a stretch needle and sewed the seams on my sewing machine, then serged the seam allowances.

I made two mistakes when sewing the pants and both were simply a result of a lack of experience working with corduroy. The first was neglecting to sew a test buttonhole on scrap fabric. That resulted in a good hour of unpicking after I made the same mistake twice! The second error is more embarrassing but I know I’m not the first nor will I be the last to do this. When I cut out the cord I didn’t even think about the nap of the fabric. So my finished pants has the nap going up on the front and down on the back. It makes a difference! I’m hoping that no one will notice and if they do, they’re looking too closely.

These pants are super comfortable. I like the drape with the boot cut shape.


The second part of my outfit is a loose-fitting turtleneck that is perfect for winter weather.

When I was shopping Fabric Mart in the middle of October there were a number of fun holiday print fabrics and I just couldn’t resist this brushed sweater knit with Christmas trees and cabins in non-traditional colours. I think this print will be wearable throughout the winter, not just over the holiday period. This sweater knit is a poly/lycra blend and the stitches are very fine so it feels like a jersey. It has lovely drape and feel cosy but not too warm.

I went back to a favourite pattern, the Jalie Emilie. This free, downloadable pattern is sized for girls aged 2 through bust measurement of about 51″. It’s oversized with dropped shoulders and a turtleneck collar. I’ve used this pattern several times and love it because it’s such a fast make and is a great shape for wearing over tights or pants. And it’s fast! You can sew the whole sweater on the overlocker or serger, or on a sewing machine. The only change I make when sewing this top is to slightly change the shape of the columnar tube collar so it’s more loose fitting around the neck.

As you can see, we’re already in winter mode here in western Canada! I know I’ll get lots of wear out of both of these pieces. Only about seven months of winter to go!

Tilly & The Buttons Coco

Tilly & The Buttons Coco

In early November we took a drive up to Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania so I could visit Fabric Mart Fabrics. I buy a lot of fabric from Fabric Mart and it was fun to see the facility and the huge selection of fabrics. I also had no idea they carried so many notions and patterns! I came home with five pieces of fabric, a big bag of buttons, several spools of thread and stay tape. And I also met Julie of Julie’s Picks!


This project started with a piece of fabric that I purchased that day in November. Although I had a list of specific patterns and projects in my pocket when I was in the store, it would have made no sense to just buy for those projects. After all, we drove for an hour to get there! While digging around I found a really lovely grey Ponte de Roma (grey is my black) so I pulled out the bolt, unrolled the fabric and was excited to see that the right side was black, grey and maroon plaid. So I bought a couple of yards. It’s Rayon/Nylon/Lycra blend with 60% stretch selvedge-to-selvedge and 40% stretch on the selvedge. It feels lovely – very smooth and stable. (Kicking myself now for not buying enough for another top or a jumper.)


While I’m still working from home I am focusing on making tops that are suitable for daily video calls and that was my first consideration when selecting a pattern. Must look interesting from the waist up! Looking at this fabric, it clearly needed a design with some structure which led me only a pattern hunt. I wound up with the Coco top by Tilly & the Buttons. (I am only slightly obsessed with funnel necklines these days.) I purchased the pdf pattern and had it printed by PDF Plotting. This is the second time I have used this service. Printing prices are very reasonable but shipping adds to the cost so I have learned to print a few patterns at once to be a bit economical. (This time my other print jobs were two patterns that I had previously printed and done a lousy job of taping together, so nothing new to show!)

The Coco pattern includes the funnel necked top that I made, plus a dress and Breton top. Tilly’s size numbering is a bit different but this particular pattern fits US sizes 2-20.

I measured the pattern pieces, did a quick paper fitting and cut a straight Tilly size 8 which fit my bust. The shoulders are not too big.

While laying out the pattern I really debated with myself because I love the plaid (right side colour) but also wanted to take advantage of the pretty grey on the wrong side. In the end, I used the plaid side for everything but the collar. The pattern also includes an option for cuffs and pockets and at some point in the future I may add cuffs just for some interest!


I didn’t do an FBA because the pattern design has just a smidge of negative ease at the bust. I only wound up making one change to the pattern and that was after the top was made.

After I had finished the final bit of stitching (the cover stitch on the hem) I put on the top and noticed that the slits in the sides stuck out (photo to the left). It looked silly and no amount of ironing would make that right. The edges of the slits had been serged then folded over and stitched which meant all of that had to be unpicked. Ugh. At this point I realized that the hip area had more ease than I needed so I unpicked the top stitch on the slit edges and serger down the side seams. An easy solution that just happened to work out. (Sometimes sewing is all about luck 🙂 )

This pattern seems to be designed to accommodate those with beautiful curves. The measurements for the size I sewed are: 44″ bust, 38″ waist and 47″ hips.  I’m more of a rectangle and I didn’t actually need the extra space provided by the slits.

Pictured below is my Ponte version. It is very comfortable and with the collar interest it works for Zoom meetings!

I liked it so much I made another!

The weather has been consistently cold (what do I expect? We live in up north now!) So while the grey thread was still in the serger and cover stitch I pulled out another piece of fabric (from Fabric Mart) and made it up again! This fabric is a very soft sweater knit that is just perfect for bitter days. It’s much floppier than the ponte. It also drapes a bit differently. I made two small changes with this version:

~ Added 2″ in length

~ Eliminated the side slits

The fabric pulled and stretched slightly when I top stitched the neck band, which is unfortunate but I think it’s one of those sewing things. “Don’t tell anyone and they won’t notice.” On this version you can really see the shaping below the waist.

So long as the weather continues to hover around freezing, I could make up a dozen of these but for the next one I’d like to make the Breton version. Eyes are now peeled for striped fabric! Just not navy – I already have 3 navy striped tops in my closet 😉

Focus on Free Patterns: Jalie Yoko

Focus on Free Patterns: Jalie Yoko

Yes, it’s been quite a year and I haven’t posted anything since, oh, a couple of days before the world shut down. One day let’s all plan to sit down with a glass of something and chronicle the year that was but, for now, I want to tell you about my latest make!

The Pattern

A couple of years ago, Jalie released a free sweater patterns – the Jalie Yoko. I immediately printed it out, placed the pages in a file folder and promptly forgot all about it. The pattern is described as: 

Square-shaped loose-fitting top with roll-neck, drop shoulder and semi-fitted sleeve. A cozy and versatile garment.

This pattern is free of charge! It’s sized for girls and women and you can print just one size at a time which meant I only printed 19 pages (plus instructions). Nineteen pages seems like a breeze after some of the 35-page t-shirt patterns I’ve encountered lately.



We moved late in the spring (yes, with everything going on in the world!) and I’m now in Pennsylvania where there are actual winters with snow (I am honestly thrilled!). Although I did buy some cold-weather fabrics when we lived in Atlanta, sweaters were a novelty worn only for a couple of hours on the coldest days (55F? brrrr) so I had to reign myself in when I looked at winter fabric catalogues. No more! I am enjoying looking at and seriously considering heavier and warmer fabrics and found this “Black/Lavender/Blush Mauve/Evergreen Brushed Sweater Knit” from Julie’s Picks at FabricMart Fabrics. I managed to snag the last 3 yards of it ($7.99 per yard). 👏🏻

I received the fabric in the mail around December 10th and when we got 8″ of snow last week and the temperatures fell (and stayed) well below freezing I knew it was time to sew it up. I didn’t want to make yet another Toaster Sweater so I kept digging and found this pattern. It looked easy and that’s important these days because my brain just feels foggy with the way the last 10 months have gone.


I had no idea how this top would fit. Reviews and photos made it look quite big so I planned to cut a smaller size at the shoulders and taper out to an AA at the waist/belly. I had forgotten that when I printed out the pattern sheets I had only selected one – AA – so that’s what I went with. As it turned out, that was the right size.

Almost the entire garment was sewn on my serger except I did use my sewing machine to baste together the neckband before attaching it to the bodice.

Speaking of the neck band, the pattern piece isn’t loose fitting like a cowl or polo neck – it’s a turtleneck and those are very uncomfortable for me. After looking at several different “turtleneck to cowl neck” tutorials online, I just decided to make my own. 

As designed, the neck band piece is a rectangle (left photo below). Just like with most knit neckbands, you stitch together the back seam, fold the band in half horizontally and stitch the band to the neck opening.

To make my adjustment I traced the existing pattern piece onto paper. Then I marked a spot 2″ wider at the top/fold of the neckband and drew a line from the stitching edge to that edge. The band folds over at the point on the left side of the pattern piece (middle photo below). This gave me a big more room around my neck and that worked just fine. It’s not a cowl but is much more comfortable than the original turtleneck.


I sewed the seams on my serger and hems on my coverstitch. Oh, my coverstitch was so kind to me on this one! It worked perfectly without a single skipped stitch and no tunneling! We are truly becoming friends 🙂 

The last task was to sew the hems on the sleeves and, as noted on the pattern, the sleeves are slim. They are not tight on me but they fit. Personally, I think this gives the top more of a Ready To Wear look. Sometimes home sewn patterns have big old sleeves that could be designed to fit better.

The sleeves were very long. My arms are average length, maybe a smidge closer to long than short. I wound up taking off a good inch extra from the length of the sleeves.

I cut the top on Sunday night, sewed it Monday night and wore it Tuesday. THAT is how I like to sew! 

This isn’t a super warm sweater because it’s a bit voluminous and that means a cold wind can whip up your back, but the fabric is cosy and comfortable and I will definitely wear it a lot this winter. And now that I know how easy it is to sew this pattern, I’ll make more!