Sep 182015

I’m honored to share with you this interview with Mari from Seamster Patterns, the brains behind the entire Sew Indie Month! Today we get into the nitty gritty and find out what makes Seamster Patterns tick.

(To see other SIM posts from this year, check out Kate & Rose’s tutorial on turning Olive into a folkswear inspired top with a front zip, or my tutorial on Fehr Trade’s site on turning her PB&Jam Leggings into a yoga style pant with wider legs and a wide waistband.)

Don’t forget that all PDF patterns are 40% off in celebration of SIM. Take advantage of this sale by using code SIM40OFF.


1. Sewing Indie Month is an amazing event for the online sewing world. What inspired you to create the event?

The first Sewing Indie Month started around when my company turned 1yr old. I started it because I felt like such a tiny, unknown fish in a larger pond. I wanted to get to know and become friends with my fellow designers; sometimes it can get lonely working away at home without anyone to talk to who has done exactly what you’re trying to do. And I was bored with the traditional methods of marketing that were being used online. While there’s not necessarily anything inherently wrong with those methods (I use some of them myself), I wanted to see if there was another way that could feel genuine and not only help my company grow, but would be fun for my customers while thanking them for their support. As someone who has never been big into certain kinds of competition, the idea of working with the competition to celebrate each others patterns and the people who sew them seemed like an exciting experiment.

2. How do you balance your time between organizing SIM and creating new patterns?
Honestly, I don’t. The Sorrel Dress & Top that finally came out with the 1st SIM Bundle that launched in August was meant to be launched before last year’s SIM. There is such a huge amount of work that goes into organizing SIM that I have to put all my own patterns on hold as the month gets closer. And with all the extra work that has gone into hosting the bundle sales while dealing with some family medical issues this year, I still haven’t gotten the Sorrel into the Seamster store!

3. What helped you decide to start your own pattern company…what was your “aha” moment?
There were a lot of things that lead up to deciding to start my own pattern company, like graduating during the recession and seeing that my only “career” options included working for a decade at soul crushing office jobs until I could finally hope to get the smallest of promotions. But if we’re talking about a single moment, it would have to be when I decided to not live as if I was horribly depressed. Three people I cared about died in less than a year. Once the third one passed I realized that if I stayed mourning I would end up looking at my life in ten years and have only those horrible office jobs to show for it. That didn’t seem like a fulfilling or enjoyable way to live. Obviously you can’t turn depression on and off like a light switch, but giving my life purpose, working for something for myself instead of for some uncaring company, helped me become happier and more fulfilled in the long run.

4. How has your company changed since it began? What have you learned that you can share with newer designers?
I would say I’ve changed more than Seamster has. I’ve gotten better at using various software programs so that’s helped speed up certain parts of the pattern making process. And I’ve become more committed to taking a bit of time out for myself, mainly with getting back to reading. Right now I’m on a 19th c. binge, only reading books written during or about the 19th c, which means a lot of Jane Austen. So to newer designers I’d say make sure you take a bit of time each week to do something that makes you happy, but doesn’t in any way feel like work. Not surprisingly, you may find you’re more refreshed and ready for work when you get back to it. But when you’re in the thick of an exciting project, like your first pattern launch, or are racing against a deadline, it can be hard to remind or give yourself permission to do such things.

5. What types of designs are your primary focus? Are your designs influenced by your style and fashion sense?
I focus on creating interesting basics for which you can’t already find a ton of, or hopefully any other, patterns. For me a basic is a pattern with uncommon style lines or a pattern puzzle that I can wear in a number of ways. It’s basic because it’s versatile. That’s because dressing in clothing with unique details makes me happier than wearing what are more traditionally thought of as plain basics. I design with my lifestyle in mind, which means I design with young, urban, public transit commuters in mind. So my skirts tend to be longer (to avoid legs sticking to train seats) and more contemporary in style. Since I don’t just want 20-to-30-something women who live in big cities to sew my patterns, I add options to the patterns that look good on different body types and suit people with very different lifestyles. For instance, when making the Honeycrisp Mittens I couldn’t see myself ever sewing them without conductive finger tips, but not everyone needs that option, so I made one that does not use conductive fabric. And on the Sorrel there’s an option for a straight skirt on the dress, which looks horribly unflattering on me, but looked great on all the ladies who were fit models for me. So when making a pattern I start with a specific idea, then branch out to a design that can suit a range of people with the addition of a few options and with a simple change of fabric.
6. What are you finding is the hardest part of having your own business?
Finding the time to get everything done and learning to not beat myself up when I don’t make my self-imposed deadlines. I recently had to take about a year off from Seamster to take care of and then mourn my grandma. Truthfully, it’s been very hard to see all the patterns I had planned for that year not get made or worse, to see other designers come out with similar ideas. So resigning myself to the fact that I’m late to the game and may need to shelve some things and that that’s OK is the hardest part right now.

7. What is your favorite part of having your own business?
Having a larger budget for fabric 😉

8. How do you bring your sewing/pattern/designing day to an end…or do you?
If I have a deadline, then the day doesn’t really end until after midnight when I’m too tired to keep working effectively. If I don’t have a deadline then I’ll try to stop sometime in the evening, usually when my partner Quincy gets home from work.

9. Do you still have time to sew patterns from other designers?
Lately I’ve been trying to make more time for sewing other designers’ patterns. While I love my own patterns (you have to to spend months churning out muslins to develop a single one), it can be a lot of fun sewing someone else’s pattern. And since I tend to feel guilty when not doing something productive, I can tell myself I’m doing market research, it’s just market research that ends with me getting a pretty new garment :)

10. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’ve started listening to more podcasts and I think anyone interested in food or science ought to try at least one episode of the Gastropod podcast. It’s really great to sew while listening to it!

 Thank you for sharing Mari! There is still one more post from us to go up for SIM month so stay tuned…

Sep 042015

Today we have a special treat from Sew Indie Month. Kati from Kate & Rose is here to show a tutorial on how she made this amazing folkswear inspired Olive that goes perfectly with her new Kinga skirt pattern. Kate & Rose patterns are folkwear inspired and she has several garment patterns along with many embroidery patterns. The patterns go well together and create a very cohesive look. Her style is incredible! You can check out all the Kate & Rose patterns here.

The Kinga skirt pattern is brand new and you can only get this pattern in the second huge bundle sale we have going on right now! Check out her amazing Kinga and Olive and then run over and buy your bundle! Remember 20% of proceeds go to Women for Women charity. Check out for all the information. Without anymore delay, here she is with this great tutorial:

olive top with kinga skirt

The inspiration for the new Kinga skirt came from one of my favorite styles of Hungarian folk wear: from the North-Eastern part of Hungary, like the Cabbage Rose Fancy and Faraway Garden embroidery pattern sets. The most common outfit has a skirt with tons and tons of ribbons and flowers, and a fitted top with a pouf sleeve and a wide, colorful ribbon around the waist:

hungarian folk costume

(Source: Folk Costumes and Embroidery)

For this tutorial, I want to show you how to hack Lolita Patterns’ Olive blouse pattern to create a contemporary version of this look along with the Kinga skirt.

Ribbons are an obsession of Central European folk wear, you can even see it in contemporary fashion design like Lena Hoschek’s ribbon skirt. The Olive pattern has a great shape through which to combine the most important elements of both: princess seams, a sweet peplum, and a distinctive straight waistband piece which is perfect for displaying a wide floral ribbon. A lovely pattern all around.


To do this, I replaced the side zip with a front zipper opening, for which I used a metal separating zipper. Then, I covered the waistband with folkwear ribbon. I used a vintage ribbon I found in a thrift shop a couple years ago, but you can find beautiful folk art ribbons at M & J Trimmings or Etsy. The width of the ribbon is the same as the width of the waistband of the Olive. The separating zipper I chose is also in a contrasting color with my blouse fabric (I used a simple black cotton broadcloth), it matches the ribbon. The zipper is one of those stunning, way-too-expensive Riri zippers one gets seduced into buying when going to Pacific Trimmings. I got it cut to the exact length I needed, which I will tell you how to figure out.


1. Pattern work

To create the front zip opening, we have to adjust the pattern pieces a tiny bit, then change the front facing to accommodate the zipper.

The front facing of the Olive is made of one piece and extends to the sleeves and side seams. This kind of facing supports the finished blouse across the shoulders and around the sleeves, is easy to finish and stays put nicely. All we need to do is re-create it as a two-piece facing, and extend it to the bottom of the blouse.

We’ll work with the front of the blouse from View B. I created a handy series of diagrams to walk you through the workflow – nothing very complicated.


We’ll need pattern pieces 6 (front facing), 8 (front waistband), 10 (front peplum), and 18 (front center bodice) (diagram 1). Cut the front waistband piece (8) and the front peplum piece (10) in half, as if they needed to be cut on the fold line (diagram 2). To find where the bodice center will actually be, measure the width of your zipper teeth – they can vary a bit.


Add about 2 mm (1/8”) to this measurement to give the opening a bit of space, then mark and cut off the same amount at the center fold line on all front pattern pieces, including the facing (diagram 3).

Now subtract the seam allowance (3/8” or 1 cm), marking the seamlines around the waistband on the front center bodice, the waistband, and the front peplum (diagram 4). Next, lay the outer front pattern pieces together so that the seam allowance is removed, measure, and extend the center front seamline of the front facing (piece 6) by this amount (diagram 5). This is also the length of the zipper you’ll need, though make sure you remove the neckline seam allowance and the hem allowance from your final zipper length measurement.

Finally, tape a long piece of paper to the facing, and extend the inner edge of the front facing down to its new bottom, creating a strip of about 2.5” or 6 cm, and draw a nice smooth curve to join the strip to the original facing (diagram 6). Tape some more paper to the center edge of the front center piece, the waistband piece, and the peplum, and add a seam allowance of 3/8” or 1cm (diagram 7). Cut off the excess paper (diagram 8) and your new front pieces are now ready.

2. Sewing the top

To sew the new top, we’ll change up the order of sewing from the instructions just a tiny bit. First, sew the entire bodice, minus the facings – just the front and back bodice, waistbands, peplum. At this point (and here we deviate from the original instructions), also sew the side seams. We’re doing this so that the ribbon can be attached in a continuous piece in just a little bit.


Then, add a thin strip of interfacing to the center front opening on both sides (you can see that I used leftover pretty fabric as a kind of interlining for pattern pieces that otherwise needed interfacing).


Next, attach the ribbon to the waistband. Sew a line of topstitching using a thread that matches the color of the zipper. To be on the safe side, make sure the ribbon has extra seam allowance at either edge, and finish its edges before attaching to the waistband.


Sew carefully along both edges of the ribbon. Change the thread to a color that matches the ribbon.


Now it’s time to attach the zipper. To make sure the zipper is in the right position, line up the bottom end of the zipper teeth is with the edge of the hemline allowance first.


This way, in case the zipper is slightly too long, you can shorten it at the top. The correct length of the zipper should put the top of the zipper teeth right at the edge of the neckline seam allowance.


Start sewing a bit below the top of the zipper opening, to avoid the zipper pull, and attach zipper to both sides.


Finish by opening the zipper pull and stitch the top of the zipper the rest of the way to the bodice.


Next, stitch the shoulder and side seams of the front and back facings, and finish the outer edge of the facing. To attach the bodice to the facing along the zipper, first open the zipper all the way. Then, with the zipper teeth facing inward, match up the shoulder seams, corners, and so on, and sandwich the zipper between the facing and the bodice.


Stitch facing to bodice. I like to begin stitching at the center neckline, and along one side, then go back to the center neckline and stitch down along the other side. Make sure to avoid the top zipper opening and the metallic bits, stopping your stitching right before you get to that area, and either leaving it open for later handstitching or handcranking the sewing machine carefully over it to avoid breaking your needle.


Carefully position the needle on the edge of the zipper and stitch along the edge.


When sewing the side with the zipper pull, position the zipper pull all the way to the bottom to make sure you don’t accidentally stitch over it.


Then pull the zipper pull past where you’re stitching, and stitch all the way down the edge. 15_zipper_bottom_facing2 Stitch the bottom edge of the facing to the hem, stopping your stitching before you get to the zipper teeth.


Repeat with the other side of the zipper, lining up the waistband carefully. When done, clip corners of facing.


Handstitch corners closed that we left open to avoid breaking the sewing machine needle.


Turn facing to the inside and blouse right side out, and press. The zipper is done!


All you’ve got left to do is attach and finish the sleeves, hem the blouse, and you’ve got yourself a folksy-yet-zippy little top!


I bet you’ll get tons of compliments on it. Just that fancy ribbon alone!


What do you think? I’m definitely putting a zipper down the front in my next Olive. I never even though of it but it looks awesome! I’m so glad Kati did this tutorial and put the idea in my head. More SIM posts are on their way this month so keep watching. Also, don’t forget, for the month of September, all PDF patterns are 40% off with the code SIM40OFF! This way you can grab a pattern and sew it up to enter the SIM contests and win prizes. I can’t wait to see what you all make!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

Sep 012015

Remember Sew Indie Month from last year? That awesome month where many independent pattern companies got together and hosted a huge month of contests and sew-alongs? Well it is back! And this month it is better than ever. Before I get into all the details, everything related to Sew Indie Month is taking place over at Mari from Seamster Patterns (the genius engineer behind Sew Indie Month and the bundle sales) took over this domain for SIM. Go visit the website to get all the details about the exciting things we have in store for you this month!

Many of you already participated in the first bundle sale that included our Sugar Plum dress and the proceeds went to the International Folk Art Alliance. Now it is time for the second bundle sale! This bundle is mostly knit patterns to make up fast and easy for the contests. This bundle is also an amazing value! Not only that, you get to pick the price you pay AND 20% of proceeds go to Women for Women, which helps women dealing with violence, marginalization, and poverty due to war and conflict. Grab it quick! This bundle is only around from September 1-September 10th.

You can buy the bundle and keep up to date with the latest SIM news at

Also, in order to make it easier for you to participate in the contests and sew up Lolita Patterns, I am having a massive sale for PDF (immediate) patterns. Take 40% off all PDF patterns for the month of September and sew those babies up, enter the contests, and win amazing prizes! We have never had a sale on PDF patterns and never had such a huge discount! Take advantage of it while you can! Use the code SIM40OFF to save 40% on all PDF patterns.

Stay tuned for more exciting SIM posts featuring tutorials and guests—-starting tomorrow!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns


Aug 152014

Remember way back in March when I went to NY and partied with some awesome sewing ladies? During that trip, we told you about Oona’s Drunken Fat Quarter Challenge. Well the time has come for the big reveal!

To refresh your memory, this is what I started with:

Lolita Patterns | Oona's Fat Quarter Challenge Reveal

And here is what I ended with:

Lolita Patterns | Oona's Fat Quarter Challenge Reveal

Oops. I forgot to mention. This is the only way I can fit this garment at the moment. When the challenge was created in March, I was barely pregnant. And the due date was April 30th so I was not going to be showing yet. But as the due date kept getting pushed back, I kept getting bigger and bigger. And the cute skirt and top I had planned was no longer going to work. No woven was going to fit well now! Plus, I wanted to be able to wear my zombies more often than only when I was nearing my third trimester!

My solution? Make an Olive! I can’t believe it never occurred to me earlier. I had this adorable skirt and top I had picked out of the Sew Serendipity book but when I couldn’t make something work with my belly in a woven fabric right now, I realized Olive would be so cute “zombie blocked.” (i.e. colorblocked) It was my goal to try and use all the fat quarters without any supplemental fabric! I used all but 1 fabric…but I have plans for it don’t worry! I made view B and I made it sleeveless and finished the sleeves with bias binding.

Lolita Patterns | Oona's Fat Quarter Challenge Reveal


I used the awesome rainbow fabric I traded Devra for in the waistband piece of Olive. I love my rainbow waistbands. The rest is all various zombie collection fabrics. Zombies in the front and back center, and buttons on the other pieces. More zombies on the facings!

Lolita Patterns | Oona's Fat Quarter Challenge Reveal


I made this Olive one size larger than my regular size hoping to account for post pregnancy weight as well as a larger bust. I want to wear this baby as soon as I can! When I was making it, I kept thinking it looked so weird. But I am in love with the finished product! I am going to colorblock some more Olives!

Lolita Patterns | Oona's Fat Quarter Challenge Reveal


For the peplum pieces, I split them into three pieces, added seam allowances, and sewed the different pieces together to make them work with all the different fabrics…plus the peplums were too wide for the fat quarter on its own…sometimes creative solutions end up being the best!

What do you all think? Do you think Devra and I have convinced Oona that you can use fat quarters in clothing projects? Should we all send her fat quarter bundles to use??  If not, we still have Jennifer and Carolyn showing their projects to help us convince Oona. They will be posting this month as well as part of Oona’s birthday extravaganza!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns



Jun 212014

Before we dig into The Rambo Project, I wanted to share a little surprise with you all! Yup, that’s me…sporting quite a baby bump for someone not due until November. This picture here is me and our little girl Clover Rose expected this November.

Lolita Patterns | Surprise! and The Rambo Project

I know a lot of you already knew about my pregnancy because you were either with me while I was showing, or you were with me when I was trying to confirm that I was officially pregnant (I’m looking at you Trice, Lladybird, and Clare!) But now that we finally got to learn the gender (girl!) I figured it was time to share it with all my virtual sewing buddies.

Lolita Patterns | Surprise! and The Rambo Project

So since I’ve known about this new addition for a little while, I had plenty of time to plan my Rambo project accordingly. Since it was hard to gauge what size I would be ahead of time, I thought I would make something more practical that I could  use everyday instead of only when I was 5 months pregnant. A baby sling!

Lolita Patterns | Surprise! and The Rambo Project

You have probably heard about The Rambo Project by now from all the other talented ladies participating, but just in case you haven’t, I’ll give you the cliff notes version of the story. (Click here to see the full version) My girl Erin received a box of turbans that were used in the movie Rambo III! These turbans were actually used so they have rips and stains and are different colors, etc. She messaged some of us around the web to know if we wanted to make something out of them. Believe me when I say the answer was a unanimous yes!! Everyone wanted a piece of the Rambo action…and really, can you blame them/us?

Lolita Patterns | Surprise! and The Rambo Project

I started searching around the web for how to make a baby sling. This is my first baby and I have no idea about these things yet. Turns out it is very simple. I bought some sturdy rings from Sling Rings and followed the instructions on their website. I did NOT believe this was going to hold anything. It seemed too simple! Of course my dogs are ginormous so I couldn’t test it out with them, but luckily my parents have a smaller dog and she was more than willing to help me test out my new baby sling. And look! No hands! It totally works and Nellie (the cute white dog) was completely comfortable just chilling in it. I’m excited to try it when Clover finally gets here!

Lolita Patterns | Surprise! and The Rambo Project

Of course, me being me, I couldn’t just leave the baby sling the way it was. I had to embellish it, with neons, and pom pom balls, and variegated thread decorative stitches…and of course couch some of my new neon pearl crown rayon that I picked up in New York at Pacific Trimming. Here is a closeup of all the stitching.

Lolita Patterns | Surprise! and The Rambo Project

neon pink hearts, green pom poms, neon orange and yellow spikey squiggle, couched neon variegated trim from NY, neon yellow and green squiggles and more green pom poms

In order to do decorative stitching on a fabric, especially if you are using wide stitches, you need to use a stabilizer on the back to keep the stitches from tunneling and pulling. I used a tear away/wash away stabilizer that tore cleanly. You just stitch with the stabilizer underneath and tear it off when you are done…easy presto!


Lolita Patterns | Surprise! and The Rambo Project

Also, one easy trick I use when couching trim, or using binding is to put the roll on the knee lift lever and unwind it from there. Holds everything perfectly and works much better than trying to hold it on my lap when it constantly falls off and then the doggies try to play with it.

Lolita Patterns | Surprise! and The Rambo Project

How about one last pic for the road?

Lolita Patterns | Surprise! and The Rambo Project

I hope to alter some Lolita Patterns into a version I can wear for maternity because I am seriously outgrowing my clothes way too fast. If I do, I will definitely post how I modify the pattern so you all can make them too!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns


May 292014

Sewing Indie Month has almost come to an end…but not without one more post!  Today I am posting an interview with Sew Caroline. She recently released several modern and comfortable patterns that are super cute and I was so excited to get to connect with her and learn more about her philosophy and design style.  Now you can too! Here is our interview.

Sewing Indie Interview With Sew Caroline

  1. Which came first…love of sewing or desire to make your own styles prompting learning sewing?

I think my answer to this question is … both! BUT, I didn’t sew garments at first. When I first began my sewing journey I loved sewing small, easy to sew items such as zip pouches, bags, etc. but I wanted to create my own style of these items because I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. I began imagining the things I would create and shortly after finding a way to sew them.

  1. What started you sewing…what was the precipitating moment? DO you think of sewing all the time? What aspects do you dwell on mostly?

I begain sewing about four or five years ago when I received a sewing machine for Christmas. It was a magical day! I don’t remember much a bout the first few months of owning the machine, but I quickly learned how to use it and found myself staying up late watching youtube videos on how to sew things.. This is how I learned! I think of sewing and designing MUCH more often than I care to. I find myself awake in the middle of the night thinking of a new pattern that’s been in my head and having “aha!” moments of figuring out how those seams should go together. It’s really a problem! ha! I dwell on the design of things a lot. When I am out shopping and/or gathering inspiration, I tend to think deeply about how certain garments are put together, etc. I love learning new techniques!

  1. How would you describe what you sew? Is there a particular influence on your choice of design? When did you decide sewing your own clothes was important to you? When did you decide to share your ideas as patterns with others? What inspires or influences your style? Do your pattern plans come from dreaming up styles or from styles you see and want to modify to fit your ideas?

Because I know people live busy lives, I want my garment designs to be things women can sew in an afternoon. Quick and simple are important to me when sewing as well as designing. I love being creative, so when I first learned to read a pattern and began sewing my own clothes I did it because of the sense of pride I felt! NOW, I wear my own clothes proudly because I never have time to go shopping and prefer what I have sewn over other store bought things. When I began altering pattern so much that they no longer looked a bit like what the original pattern looked like, I knew it was time to start designing my own, from-scratch patterns. I love seeing ready to wear garments that look simple enough for me to sew. I gain a lot of inspiration from current trends and timeless staples.

  1. Describe your typical sewing/patterning daily routine.

Every day is different, BUT.. I typically get up in the mornings around 7, make my coffee and eat breakfast while checking Instagram, emails, etc. The emails that need responses immediately, I answer. The others wait until around mid-afternoon. After coffee, I head into my studio and decide what has priority. It may be a sewing project, some pattern drafting, a blog post, etc. I figure out what it is and do it right then. After this I eat a bite for lunch and typically go work out in the early afternoon. When I am back, I do some more emailing and computer work and then have a couple of hours in the late afternoon to do a bit more sewing. Sometimes this late afternoon time spot is used for a photo shoot. Like I said, though, everyday is different, so I kind of fly by the seat of my pants sometimes J

  1. You have released your first three patterns in such a short period of time! Are there more en route very soon? What have you learned from these patterns that will affect your future releases?

I have been working on these three patterns for about 8 months, so it seems like they all released in a very short amount of time, but in reality they’ve been in the works for quite some time! I have another pattern set to release in 4-5 weeks that I am really excited about. Every thing I’ve learned has been through trial and error and I have of course learned valuable things through each and every release!

  1. What helped you decide to start your own pattern company…what was your “aha” moment?

After I realized I was re designing so many patterns to where they no longer looked anything like the pattern I had purchased, I realized that was silly.. I should design my own! That was definitely my “aha” moment.. and it happened almost a year ago.

  1. What types of designs are your primary focus? Has designing your own fabric influenced the kind of patterns you design?

I love wearing dresses and easy to style tops and skirts. So these easy to sew staples are definitely my primary focus. Since my fabrics will be sold in quilt shops, I try to design clothing that will work well with quilting cottons (along with other apparel fabrics!)

  1. What influences your style?

I love classic, yet trendy styles. I love Anthopologie, J.Crew, ModCloth, etc. I find a lot of inspiration for my patern and fabric designs through ready to wear garments.

  1. What are you finding is the hardest part of having your own business?

Finding time to do everything!!!

       10. Will you be having sew-alongs? Why or why not?

I want to! I just haven’t found the time to get it all organized, yet! I think it is a fabulous way for people to connect while sewing the same patterns.

      11. How do you bring your sewing/pattern/designing day to an end…or do you?

My husband comes home and we have dinner together.. I try to stop working for a couple of hours to spend time with him, but inevitable I am always back at it for an hour or two before I go to bed.

      12. Do you still have time to sew for yourself using patterns by other designers?

Not much… but I try. I really enjoy this part of sewing! I am hoping to get to do more self-sewing this summer.

      13. Is there anything else you would like to say?

Thank you so much for having me here today! I’d love to connect with you on my blog  (, Instagram (@SewCaroline), or Facebook (!

It is so sad that Sewing Indie Month is almost over but I hope everyone enjoyed it and that you learned about some new indie pattern companies…I definitely did! Stay tuned for a new challenge I am participating in being announced in a few days :)

amity bow | Lolita Patterns


May 282014

If you haven’t bought your copy of Olive, head on over to our shop where you can place your order! Also, you can visit the Olive page where you can see all the tutorials as they go live as well as download the cutting labels to keep your pieces organized, get inspired via our Pinterest and Flickr pages, whichever you prefer. And go ahead and tag your work with #lolitapatterns so we can find it and admire, like, share and basically swoon!

Today, I’ll show you how to cut the back on the fold and how to face the waistband, both things that testers opted to do and we thought them smart ideas. First, let me show you how to cut the back on the fold. Just note: You will need extra fabric to cut on the fold so plan accordingly!

You can do this with any pattern that doesn’t require a back zipper or even if you want to move the zipper to the side, like Olive, you just need to fold down or cut off the seam allowance on the back and mark your pattern so you don’t forget. I’m notorious for making tons of notes on my patterns. A lot of times it’s the fitting changes I’ve made that I want to keep track of. It’s a good habit to get into so that you always know where your pattern notes are…unless you have a notebook and you always keep notes there.

IMG_20140520_131825064_HDR   IMG_20140520_131929257

I folded my back piece down rather than cut it, as a personal preference. Feel free to trim the seam allowance off and mark your pattern piece as CUT ON FOLD. The back waistband piece is already in one piece so you don’t have to alter that at all.

Next, I’ll show you how to face your waistband.

If you haven’t cut your fabric out yet you’ll need to cut two front waistband pieces and 2 back waistband pieces. Cut only one interfacing piece out of each front and back, as per the pattern instructions. IMG_20140528_104533378_HDR

When you get to Step 20, you’ll have your bodice and facing sewn up around the neck and basted around the arms and sides. At this point, you’ll want to sandwich the back (or front, start with which ever piece you’d like) bodice with the waistband pieces. Place the right sides of the waistband facing each other so to encase the bodice.

IMG_20140528_105603400   IMG_20140528_105718164  

Stitch with 3/8″ seam allowance and then press the waistband pieces away from the bodice.

There are a couple of ways you can attach the peplum. The Olive instructions call for attaching the peplum to the waistband, then turning the blouse inside out, folding the waistband facing under and topstitching it in place. That’s how I attached my waistband facing on my first Olive. You can topstitch the top of the facing, too, if you like.


Another way I was playing around with was to place the peplum, right sides together with the waistband and waistband facing together and stitch. Finish your raw edges with a narrow zig zag or serger and press the edge toward the peplum. You can also press toward the waistband and topstitch if you like.

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Now that your waistband is faced, continue to follow the Olive instructions to finish your blouse! Share your Olive on social media and make sure to tag it with #lolitapatterns or get our attention so we can see your work!

leila signature


May 232014

Hi fit nerds! Today we’re going to talk about fit around the bust. When I made my first Olive, I made zero changes. I cut the size 8 and just stitched it up. Do you know how exciting that is for me?? It’s very exciting when normally I fiddle with patterns a lot.

The Olive blouse has princess seams. On view A, you have a neckline and an armhole princess seam to alter, as well as adjusting the sheer overlay and making sure your facings true up. View B only has the armhole princess seams. It isn’t hard but it’ll take a little more time than just cutting and sewing one size.

olive line drawing

I didn’t call this tutorial an FBA/SBA tutorial because we’re doing a different kind of adjustment. We’ll be lengthening and shortening the princess seams to give you the fit your body needs. If you need to add bust room in the width but would like to keep the high bust, shoulders and waist as per another size, you can draw a line on the side front pieces that go from one size to another.

For instance, you can draw a side line from the size 8 waist to the 10 bust on the sides as well as add length. Play around, muslin and take notes of the changes you make each time. Once you have the fit you like, you can make this one blouse over and over again- as View A or View B.

To mark your pieces, start by marking the side front pieces 1″ down from the armhole and draw a line across the pieces.

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Line up your matching points and draw a line across the front bodice pieces.

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Mark across all front pieces- whether you’re doing View A or View B.

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Once your pieces are marked, you will want to measure to see how much length you need to add or subtract. I added a 1.25″ to the length. You can measure your front to your waist and compare to the pattern pieces or you can put the pattern pieces up to your body and see what you need to alter.

If you’re adding length, you’ll need to put tissue paper behind your pattern pieces and tape the open pieces to the tissue. Once you’ve added length to one piece, go around to the other pieces and make sure they all match up and have the same amount of length.

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If you need to take out some of the room in the bust but find you only need to decrease some in the side, you can take piece 3 and pinch out less than an inch, depending on your needs. Once you’ve pinched out the side, you can trim the side armhole. 
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If you need to decrease the length in the bust area, take that same line we drew across the front pieces and fold the pattern piece up. Then, clean up the side by smoothing out your side lines.

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Once you’ve shortened the front length, you’ll need to shorten the side front piece and the overlay, if you’re doing View A. All lengths need to match up.


Last but not least, you’ll want to make sure your facing pieces match your altered front pieces. You shouldn’t have to change your facing pieces unless you added to the shoulder with of neck. If all you’ve done is change the bust length, you can just cut the facings according to the original size you started altering.

I made a wearable muslin of View B with the added length and starting with one size smaller than my first Olive. I’m finding that the neck, both front and back, are closer to my body and don’t gape as much. Granted, the gaping isn’t awful in my first version. That said, I do like how the Olive fits this time around. I didn’t add the peplum or the sleeves but you most certainly can if you want to complete yours.


Any questions?

Next time, I’ll have a tutorial for you on how to cut the back on the fold along with how to face the waistband. Hope this has been helpful!

leila signature

May 212014

Hello lovelies! While Amity is in New York, I’m here sneaking around Lolita virtual headquarters getting some tutorials ready for you Olive lovers. If you haven’t bought your copy of Olive, head on over to our shop where, day or night, you can place your order! Also, you can visit the Olive page where you can see all the tutorials as they go live as well as download the cutting labels to keep your pieces organized, get inspired via our Pinterest and Flickr pages, whichever is your poison.


I’m starting with tips on working with lightweight fabrics and mastering your serger skills first so you will see that you can do it.

First of all, cutting these gorgeous fabrics! Some people prefer to use a rotary cutter and healing mat while others use spray on stabilizer or a gelatin rinse (I’ve used this method and it’s excellent) to beef up their fabric, keeping them from being so shifty. You can also cut shifty fabrics by sandwiching your fabric between two sheets of paper. Once your pieces are cut, you just need to keep them from pulling and distorting.

Use needles that match the weight of your fabric and, if need be, switch to a lightweight thread on your sewing machine.

The biggest tip I can give you for getting your serger to produce a lovely rolled hem is to test, test, test. Use scraps every time. I know my serger will make a sweet rolled hem and I still always test it.

If you’re having trouble getting a nice rolled hem on your serger (though these tips also apply to working on a sewing machine), I recommend you:

1. Change your needle. A fresh needle with a sharp tip can make all the difference.

2. Re-thread your machine…and while there isn’t any thread, take a second and clean out the lint. Add a dab of oil and then re-thread.

3. Set your stitch length to 2 or shorter. When you test it on a scrap, you can set it shorter if you prefer.

4. Differential feed is at 1-1.5.

5. Move the stitch finger slider back (on some machines you might have an R for the rolled hem position). You basically don’t want the stitch finger sticking out- you want it back so that the rolled hem is possible.

6. The settings for the needle and the loopers will vary with each machine and how moody your serger is that day. I have mine set to 4 across the board and I don’t move them all that much.

Here are some tests I did on scraps of both my fabrics for my first Olive. I wanted to test both the regular serged hem as well as the rolled hem. My poly chiffon overlay did just fine under the serger but if your overlay is lighter weight or has a looser weave you might need to stabilize it before you do the rolled hem on it.

You can stabilize it with a very narrow piece of like-colored ribbon, by using spray on stabilizer or even by folding the cut edge in and doing your rolled hem over the two layers. If you have bits on the wrong side peeking out, you can trim those off.

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As you go around the ruffles, hold your overlay fabric firmly in place so you don’t skip any part of your fabric. If it ripples, it’s okay. Remember, it’s a ruffle. :)



To get that rolled hem all the way to the end of your curved pieces, just use a pin to hold your fabric in place as you slowly feed it through the serger.

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When doing the rolled hem on the straight pieces, you can feed them in sequence and then trim them in between.  IMG_20140415_114701421_HDR IMG_20140415_115057473_HDR  

Before you apply the interfacing to the facing pieces, make sure that your fabric didn’t shift. I double checked my facing pieces by placing the pattern piece over the cut fabric just to be sure. Then, I felt okay ironing on the interfacing.

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Serging the bottom of the facings shouldn’t give you any trouble because the pieces are interfaced and therefore more stable. Just remember to change your serger settings before you get started on the facings.  IMG_20140415_113827248_HDR

As you put your overlay ruffle pieces together, you can use your serger threads to keep the very ends together. When in doubt, just go slow and you’ll be fine.



Pin, pin, pin!

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Marking your back darts can be easy with pins.



You can either stitch and then serge your Olive together or, making sure you stick to the 3/8″ seam allowance, just serge it all. Here’s the inside of the top of my blue Olive.



Any questions about working with lightweight and shifty fabrics? Friday, I’ll be back with FBA and SBA alterations. See you then! Let’s hope Amity is having a blast in the big apple!!

leila signature



May 202014

Wow that title was a mouthful!  Sewing Indie continues with a tutorial I wrote up to share over on Sewn Square One’s blog. This tutorial shows you how to shirr fabric using elastic thread but by using your serger that has chainstitch capability. It is a wonderful time saving technique that keeps you from having to hand wind bobbins.

sneak peek photo from tutorial

For those of you that don’t know Sewn Square One, they are known for their modern and streamlined designs. I am currently crushing on this Skirt Smarts pattern! The ruching on the side is right up my alley!

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Another awesome pattern I’m eyeing is the Go Anywhere dress. It looks extremely practical and cute for every day.

click for source

So go ahead and check out the tutorial and hopefully learn a new technique and a new pattern company at the same time!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns


May 152014

Today I want to show you two gorgeous Olive’s made by testers. The first one started as view A but was converted into something completely different. This one was made by Handmade by Carolyn.

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The above photo shows the final version. She started out with view A making the cowl overlay and flounce which you can see below but decided it did not quite fit her style…so she adapted a button front view instead! You can see how on her blog post!

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Her Olive is made of a beautiful white linen and I love how the white tone on tone looks for Olive. Below you can see a closeup of her final version after modifications.

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She has a bunch more pictures and details of her modifications over on her blog post.


The second Olive I have to show you was made by Velosewer. And this version is made out of olive colored fabric!  This is so perfect. She made a spearmint colored Spearmint and now an olive colored Olive!

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Her version is view B but she couldn’t resist adding the sleeve ruffles from view A. She also converted the neckline into a v-neck. Don’t worry, she will be doing a post on how to do that on your own Olive!

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Here is a closeup of the sleeve ruffles.

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There are tons more pictures and info on her alterations over on her blog post. She even mentions another version of Olive coming up! Click on over to see the details.

I’ll be featuring more Olives as we go along. In the meantime, don’t forget about the coupon code sewing15indie to save 15% on all physical patterns through May 19th including Olive!


amity bow | Lolita Patterns

May 132014

I wanted to write a quick post to let you all know I am heading to NY again! I will be there next week and am looking forward to meeting up, fabric shopping, drinks/dinner…everything!  I had so much fun the last time I was there and I hope to see a lot of you again. I am around Tuesday the 20th, Wednesday the 21st, and on Thursday the 22nd I am going fabric shopping with Carolyn from Diary of a Sewing Fanatic! Does anyone else have time to meet up? Send me a message!

NY dinner pic

picture from last NY trip in March!

Reminder: All physical patterns (including the newest release Olive) are 15% off through May 19th using the code sewing15indie!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

May 122014

I am happy to finally introduce you to our latest pattern, Olive. Olive envelope front olive line drawing

Olive is a beautiful blouse that plays with fabric texture to create a striking look. View A features a beautiful draping sheer fabric combined with a stable solid that produces a unique look. The sheer cowl overlay and soft flounces draw attention to the gorgeous blend of fabric textures. The waistband combined with the pleated peplum adds shaping to the garment. View B eliminates the sheer fabric to provide a fantastic all-around basic blouse perfect for pairing with suits, skirts, and pants.

Lolita Patterns | Olive

In the photos here, I am wearing View A. I will also be sharing with you some fabulous versions of View B in the coming weeks. This blouse is so versatile and so unique…I love all the ways you can play around with fabric pairings and texture with this pattern. Olive is now available for sale! And the timing is perfect because we have a 15% off all physical patterns sale going on right now for Sewing Indie Month…and that includes Olive! Just use coupon code sewing15indie and the discount will show in your cart.

Lolita Patterns | Olive

That isn’t all. We decided to launch a limited two pack set so customers can save when buying two patterns. This two pack set is not part of the Sewing Indie coupon code because it is already discounted. But don’t worry, the two pack will still be around after the sale ends so you can still save when buying multiple patterns.

Lolita Patterns | Olive

Both views of Olive use small amounts of fabric when you cut in a single layer so it is great for small remnants and special fabrics. You can see all yardage chart information on the Olive pattern page.

We also have exciting news: Olive will be launched with a blog tour of various sewing bloggers around the world starting tomorrow! Here is a list of the bloggers participating this week.

Three Dresses

Handmade by Carolyn



Quirky Pretty Cute

Made With Hugs and Kisses

Instead of a sew-along with Olive, we have chosen the trickiest parts and decided to feature tutorials on how to do them best. Each time we post an Olive tutorial, we will post a link on the Olive pattern page so they are all collected in one place. We will also feature hacks for the pattern including making Olive in a knit, using lace, and even making the top into a v-neck!  I can’t wait for you all to see it!

The pattern comes in both physical pattern and PDF form. The PDF version includes both tiled PDF versions and print shop versions.

Don’t forget that the Sewing Indie discount code (sewing15indie) is only good through 11:59pm Pacific Time Zone on May 19th, 2014!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

May 112014

Today we have our second Sewing Indie post. I partnered up with Soma Patterns by Sylvie P and she interviewed me about Lolita Patterns for her blog. Go ahead and click over to get the scoop on behind the scenes at Lolita Patterns!

Let’s talk about how cool Soma Patterns is for a minute. They make patterns with zero waste! The patterns are designed to use all the fabric so there are no unnecessary and wasteful scraps left behind. Not only is this such a great idea, the patterns are also very practical and fashionable!

Check out their new FloriAnn Skirt:

click for source


They even have a link to show you sneak peeks of their upcoming patterns.  Soma Patterns was a new company to me that I learned about while preparing for Sewing Indie Month and I am so glad I did! I love learning about new pattern companies.

I hope you are all enjoying Sewing Indie Month.  We still have some more posts coming up this month partnered with Sewn Square One and Sew Caroline!

Also don’t forget about the pattern sale going on to support Sewing Indie Month! Use code sewing15indie to save 15% off all physical patterns!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns


May 072014

I’m sure you have all heard about Sewing Indie Month by now and seen all the great independent pattern companies that are participating. One of the great things that this month brings is the big sew-along that features over $1,000 in prizes! Check out Mari’s post to get all the details.


To make it easier for you to participate, we have a 15% off all physical patterns discount going on until 11:59 Pacific Time Zone on May 19th, 2014. And stay tuned, because there just might be a new pattern release hidden in those dates that will also be eligible for the discount! Just use discount code sewing15indie to save 15% on all physical patterns! Go ahead and take advantage of the discount at the shop and enter the first Sewing Indie contest!

I hope you are all enjoying Sewing Indie Month as much as I am! Good luck with the contest…I can’t wait to see all the fantastic garments you all make!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

May 012014

This month has a huge surprise for all of you…it is Sewing Indie Month!  This month will compile tons of interviews, tutorials, and special goodies from tons of independent pattern designers all put together by Mari from Seamster Patterns. To get all the details, check out her blog post here. Also, grab a Sewing Indie Month badge from the sidebar!

Twenty one different independent designers are participating! It has been incredible! There are also over $1,000 worth of prizes available. See the information about the prizes here.


There will also be sew-alongs and prizes hosted by various bloggers around the web. Lolita Patterns is offering patterns in the prize pack for the Dressed to the Nines category put on by Laura from Lilacs and Lace.

Sewing Indie Month designer prize pack: PDF pattern of your choice from Lolita, Pauline Alice; paper pattern of your choice from By Hand London, Christine Haynes

Sewing Indie Month designer prize pack: PDF pattern of your choice from Lolita Patterns, Pauline Alice; paper pattern of your choice from By Hand London, Christine Haynes

Hopefully this month will show you all the great independent pattern companies that are around and help you learn a little bit more about them. Today I am so excited to show you this fantastic tutorial put together by Stepalica. Stepalica makes wonderful more advanced patterns. Check out this Nougat Dress with the gorgeous spiral detailing. 

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And the recently released Zlata skirt

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Today Ana will show you how to convert a basic skirt pattern into this beautiful YSL inspired skirt. Her instructions are so detailed that anyone can follow along and end up with a high end designer skirt at a fraction of the cost!  Without further delay, here is her tutorial:

I am so thrilled to show you a lovely and unusual skirt I made. At first glance it looks like a basic pleated skirt, but take a closer look at it and you’ll notice it’s a skirt with a twist, or should I say – a twisted skirt. The knife pleats are slightly angled, thus making the twist effect.

I got an idea for this skirt from a commercial for a YSL bag. The bag itself didn’t impress me as much as the skirt from the photo did. Just look at lines of those pleats – such an ingenious design! My interpretation is slightly different, but I kept the basic design of it.


YSL advertisement that inspired this skirt tutorial

This kind of skirt is perfect for office and work environment, but it could look quite casual if made from denim, twill or cotton. It is suitable for plain fabrics or those with floral or abstract prints, but I’d advise you to avoid using plaid and striped fabrics, since those can be challenging for matching.

A pattern for this skirt is really easy to make, especially if you have a pattern for a basic pencil skirt – with just a few cuts you can transform it into this lovely and unusual skirt.

Jewelry made by Anya – Studio Artesania (



– Start with a basic skirt pattern that has waist darts.

– If you’re using a pencil skirt pattern that tapers towards the hemline, straighten the side seams so that they’re perpendicular to the hemline.

– Copy the panels to a new sheet of paper, transferring both left and right side of each of them.

– Join the front and back panels along the right side seam (the right side of the pattern will represent the right side of the fabric).



– Draw a set of parallel lines connecting the waistline with the hemline. The lines should be angled – you can use one of your waist darts to define the angle of the line (in the drawing, I used the back dart). There should be nine lines:

  • one for each dart,
  • one for the center front line,
  • one for the center back line,
  • one for the right side seam,
  • two for the left side seam, as shown on the picture.

– Each line (except for the ones that correspond to the center front and center back lines of the skirt) should be drawn so that it intersects with the apex of the corresponding waist dart, or with the point on the side seam where the front and back panels form a V shape.

– Measure the width of each waist dart. Optionally, you can copy the shape of each dart by making small triangles as guides for the next step.

03_RotateDarts 3. 

– Rotate each of the darts so that it’s width is equally spread to the left and right side of the angled line that corresponds to it. Make sure the apex of the dart remains in its original position.

– If you were using triangular templates as dart guides, fixe them in place. If not, redraw the darts on the pattern.


4. Cut the front and back skirt panels along the angled lines.



– Define how wide the pleat should be when folded. I’ll call this measurement the pleat width. In my case, the dart width was 1.5” (4.5 cm).

– Multiply the pleat width by 2, so in my case that’s  3” (9 cm) – this will be total pleat width.

– Spread the panels as shown on the picture. The distance between the two panels should be equal to the total dart width.

– Split the distance between the left and right panels in two, by drawing a line parallel to the panels.

– Also, draw two lines, one on each side of the pattern; each line should be distanced from the pattern by pleat width.

– Define the point on the skirt where the pleats should start and draw a line at that point, parallel to the hemline


6. Transfer the shape of the skirt to a new sheet of paper as shown on the picture. Spread the front and back skirt panels.


7. This is how the final skirt pattern should look.



– Take the panels gotten in the step 4 and lay them over a sheet of paper. Close the waist dart on both front and back skirt panel, by rotating the panels as shown on the picture. Fill the gap that’s been made by the dart rotation at the hemline.

– Smooth the hemline and the waistline so that they form nice curves. Redraw the shape to the paper.


9. This is how the lining pattern should look.

Ready for some finished photos of the skirt?

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I hope you all enjoyed this fantastic tutorial Ana from Stepalica put together. I adore this skirt and cannot wait to make one of my own. It is the perfect combination of stylish with interesting lines but still perfect for the office. I hope you enjoyed this first installment of Sewing Indie Month…don’t forget to check out Seamster Patterns for what else is in store coming up this month!

Apr 152014

Today I want to feature this drop dead gorgeous Gunmetal made by Cari Homemaker. I think the combination of the white and black checked fabric with the black underlay looks incredible. And I love that she made the D-ring version!

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My other favorite part of her Gunmetal is how she made the underlayer longer for the skirt portion…it’s a simple way to add such a statement to the bottom of the dress! I definitely want to do this on my next version…it is genius!

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It is also hard to see but this fabric has some sparkles in it! Girl after my own heart!

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She also has a lot of details about the pattern including rolled hems and what her man thought over on her blog post. She also has a bonus make in her post that you won’t want to miss so click on over!

Want to get a Gunmetal of your very own? Check out both the PDF and physical versions in the shop!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

Apr 032014

Has everyone heard about this contest?

It features an amazing prize—a Babylock serger!!  The deadline is coming up on May 1st and it is definitely worth your while to enter. To check out the rules, visit So grab some fabric, pick your pattern, and make your winning creation! These prizes are fantastic and the contest is definitely worth entering.

I know I only recently heard about the contest so I thought I would post it here to make sure everyone gets the chance to enter. Let’s help get the word out!

Party Like A Rock Star


amity bow | Lolita Patterns

Mar 312014

Today’s feature is two gorgeous Sugar Plums, a mother and daughter combo!

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Cbsyr has a blog where she details many of her sewing adventures and you can see her post specifically on her Sugar Plum by clicking here.

Both of these Sugar Plums look so comfortable! I don’t speak or read Swedish, but I used google translate and think I got the gist. Even if I could not understand any of it, you can tell by their smiling faces and beautiful dresses that they love this pattern as much as I do!

I love seeing that other countries have learned about Lolita Patterns and are able to make the patterns with the detailed illustrations instead of relying on the words in English. These are truly gorgeous and I can’t wait to feature more!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns



Mar 262014

Did anyone notice Fabric Mart Fabrics amazing sale going on right now? They have 35% off their entire Sewing Room section!


This section has patterns—and includes Lolita Patterns!  I just wanted to point it out to everyone because if you have ever been iffy about purchasing a pattern or were waiting for a sale, this is it. Thirty-five percent off is an amazing deal….the most we ever had was 31% and it was only for one day–my birthday. They carry lots of other patterns and many other items in their sewing room section that are all 35% off. Plus they have 40% off knits going on right now!

I don’t know how long the sale is going to last so pop over quick before they sell out of everything!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns