A Tried and True (TnT) pattern is invaluable, and always hackable. The #Lenahornedress pattern by @TabithaSewer

A Tried and True (TnT) pattern is invaluable, and always hackable. The #Lenahornedress pattern by @TabithaSewer

I enjoy sewing with patterns. I’ve used the Mccall’s, Vogue, Simplicity, and Butterick patterns for years and years. In the 80’s I used to subscribe to Burda magazine, back before the internet, there were pullout pages with multiple lines for multiple patterns on every page. Have you ever seen a Rand McNally city road map? These brought out about the same amount of anxiety for me. I made a few things, but man there was a ton of work before I even got to cut into my fabric! Oh, and they were in German, I took one year of that in high school so…Nichts.

Burda magazine https://www.pinterest.com/pin/155303887189693019/

Now, since we do have the internet, I’ve come to love independent pattern companies and purchasing PDF’s here at home. Having done pattern drafting, my hat goes off to all these independant designers. This is a lot of work, so I want to support them anytime I get the chance. I have a bunch of new favorite indie pattern designers now, if your interested, I’ll tell you about a few. Ask away in my comments section.

The Lena Horne dress pattern by Tabitha Sewer

One newer pattern to come on the sewing community scene, is the Lena Horne dress pattern by Tabitha Sewer. I love everything about this pattern. I did not buy it in PDF form, though so you know, it’s offered digitally as well. I purchased it through her website and got it in the mail because it comes in a iridescent mylar envelope which is basically like having a little rainbow at all times in my sewing room, and who doesn’t want that?

Being a sewist who does alot of refashioning, I often hack patterns because with refashioning you have to work with the fabric you have and there is no getting anymore. So with this pattern, Ive made two dresses. The first one a refashioning and the second is out of thrifted fabric yardage. With both dresses I did some hacking, I’ll explain.

Lena Horne dress out of a Refashioned thrifted vintage pieced
quilt from the 70’s
Trifted vintage pieced quilt from

I found this queen sized pieced vintage quilt made from early 70’s prints and Hawaiian bark cloth. In the early 70”s my family lived Hawaii and all these fabrics reminded me of that time and place. The amount of time that pieced quilts take To make, it killed me to see it there for under $5 dollars. So I refashioned it into the #lenahorndress. I did hack the skirt by using vintage pattern by McCall’s 3396 because of all the pieced seams, gathers would have been too many layers.

I did add the pockets from the Lena Horne dress pattern back into the vintage Mccalls pattern so I guess I hacked the hack.

One thing I did do with this make that I had never done before, is I followed along with the tutorial video that Tabitha has created. It was great! My first tutorial. What have I been doing all this time? Her printed instructions are easy and clear but sewing along with a video is awesome. What can I say, I was born in the 60’s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vYgL4zymgE

Tabitha’s method for gathering by zig zagging over yarn was the way to go because again this was a pieced quilt there was alot of random seams and selvages, so with some gathers there were places that were 4ply thick.

I lined my “angle wings” which is what I was taught these kinds of pinafore ruffles are called. I lined them because the back side of a quilts wouldn’t be a good look.

See? Backside of quilt, meh..
Even my dog Zoey is unimpressed.

Lastly, I made the pom poms for my purse using Clover brand pom pom makers. https://www.clover-usa.com/en/ and the purse is from Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GCHZ27X/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_Zp8kDbTN576J1

For my second dress, I worked out of My stash again. I got this roll of 8 yards of silk shantung from @colleaguesroom (another great thrift store here in Los Angeles, a designer resale store)

Another #Lenahornedress hacking the pattern, just a little. I wanted to pleat some of the fabric. A couple years ago on @pinterest I found a video on how to make your own pleater board. I made mine and It works great! Mine makes 1″ pleats.

@pinterest link for making pleater board:


Pleating Angle wing ruffles on my DIY pleater board

I cut out the above the knee skirt length view of the pattern and added 12″ of width to the skirt. I wanted denser gathers at the waist seam. Then I made the second skirt tier one and a half times wider than the first skirt tier and 9″long (finished this tier ends up 8″long) The last tier is pleated so I cut out 5″ long (finished this tier with hem is 4″ long) and 2 times the width of the bottom second tier circumference.

3rd skirt tier pleated

#Flashbacksewingchallenge on Instagram

In my left ear, away from carmera, my AirPod is blasting “Benny and the Jets”

I love a good sewing challenge. You’d think with my real job, a Costume designer/Wardrobe stylist for film and television, I’d have my fill of challenges. There definitely are plenty of them, but something about chasing that unique idea, really getting to be truly creative never gets old. Unconventional ones, don’t get me started.

So I’ve been trying some sewing challenges lately on Instagram. The most recent one I participated in was the #Flashbacksewingchallenge. Basically, you get to pick what period you want the garment to represent. I picked the 1970’s. I love 70’s fashion, always have. I was thinking about it and wondered why is that? In the late ’70s is when I first learned to sew, and I think it’s when I first became aware of fashion and clothing. What people wore and why. I can remember looking through my older brothers junior high yearbook and literally studying every person, picture, haircut, handbag, and shoe. This should have been a clue since I didn’t even go to this school, and by the time I did, none of these people would be there. My older brother had a big influence on me and my younger siblings. He was the one to bring new music into the home along with being the TV remote control commander. So Sugar Hill Gang, The Rolling Stones (Beast of Burden), Michael Jackson (Jackson 5 all the way to Off the Wall) Sonny and Cher show, Laugh-in, Happy Days, Soul Train and American Bandstand and Star Trek waaaay too much Star Trek, I’m officially allergic to that one.

So for this challenge I wanted one big ball of all that! I found an inspiration picture on Pinterest of Cher in a beaded stripe two-piece outfit next to Elton John in a Gold rhinestoned suit with his infamous rhinestoned glasses.

So my version mimics a nod to Chers wardrobe in a Elton John setting with his glasses.


I made the jump suit hacking two patterns. Buterrick 4343 dress to just a one shoulder bodice and used a Vintage Simplicity 7214, a pant suit pattern, just the pants. The fabric is from Joann Fabric and is a rainbow sequined stripped fabric. Each piece cut out one at a time to match strips. A little more time consuming, but I remove all the sequins from the selvages before sewing because I love my Bernina sewing machine and I’m not trying to press my luck.

Lastly, I created and DIYed the iconic sunglasses. I also made the red bangle braclette from Amazon (4 Pack, Wood Bangle Bracelet, Dome Exterior, 1.75″ Wide, Large Size, ReadyToDecorate (R)
by Itc Direct
Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BTTW1O4/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_z4.bDbKCKZ26Rand my hoop earrings. The glass were from Amazon Women’s Cateye Sunglasses Oversized Vintage Retro Bold Fashion Designer Shades (White, 70)
by Freckles Mark
Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D6LKB21/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_HV.bDb57BM3KQ I spray painted them red and then rhinestoned all three items 4 Pack, Wood Bangle Bracelet, Dome Exterior, 1.75″ Wide, Large Size, ReadyToDecorate (R)
by Itc Direct

I’ve been a stylist on Dancing with the stars for a number of seasons now, this is the method used to rhinstone all those amazing costumes.

This challenge was a blast to do and I have to thank @faithstjues and @winmichele on Instagram for hosting it. Please do check out the hashtags #Flashbacksewingchallenge on Instagram there are some amazing makers out here.

“Oh Candy and Ronnie have you seen them yet? Oh but they’re so spaced out Be-Be-Bennie and the Jets