A few years ago (or months, or weeks, who knows what time is at this point), a woman I follow on Instagram (@cookinandcraftin) started a "Twists and Ties" sewing challenge. The focus was on garments that had a twist, tie, or knot as a main design feature, and even back then, it got my wheels turning. There are so many possibilities! It's taken me a while to use it as a theme for our boxes, but I'm so excited this month to finally put it into action.
Part of what took so long was the variety of garments. In the boxes, I try to stick to one type of fabric - a knit or a woven - but twists and ties run the gamut of fabrics. There are some really amazing woven twists out there, such as the Meridian Dress from Papercut Patterns. There are also a whole range of wrap tops and dress, but we've covered a lot of that ground already in previous months.
For this month, I really wanted to focus on 1) knit garments and 2) internal twists where the tie isn't part of a closure but rather a distinct design element unto itself. The patterns I've chosen this month have a little "pattern magic" to them where you can't exactly tell how they are constructed until you see the pattern pieces and read the instructions. Deceptively easy to make, these garments trick everyone else into thinking you're a wildly skilled sewist who can bend fabric to your will!
For fabrics, these are the May Boxes, so I wanted to bring brightness and color after months of more muted or darker options. Inspired by spring greens and tulip pinks, this month's options are designed to kick off your warm-weather wardrobe with a bang.
So, without further ado, let's dig in!
Sew Essential Box: Elle Twist Top from Jalie Patterns
I fully had planned to use another pattern in this box until about a week ago when I stumbled upon the Elle Top from Jalie Patterns. Instantly, my plans changed as I fell in love with the casual elegance of the top. Slouchy and loose, this knit top drapes beautifully and incorporates the knotted twist in a way that creates shape and structure. Completely reversible (yay!), it can be worn as loungewear or workwear, depending on how you style it. Add a lovely necklace and a blazer, and you have an office-ready outfit. Layer it over a tank and some leggings, and you can do some yoga or running in it. It's got everything you'd want in a knit top!
Because of its loose-fitting style, the pattern is ideal for drapey knits that for the center knot without bulk. That led me to lightweight knits in some fantastic colors. So here they are!
- Wild Aster Cotton Spandex Jersey - This t-shirt weight knit is everything you'd want in a jersey. Supple, soft, and silky, it has great stretch and recovery as well as that lovely "look and feel of cotton." Plus the color is stunning. A vivid pink, it's darker than a magenta, warmer than a fuchsia, and all-around perfect for spring. If you want a bold pink top, this is the fabric for you!
- Palms at Dusk Printed Modal Jersey - Modal knit is known for its silky hand and super soft feel. Combined with a gorgeous palm print, it's more than we could ask for in a knit. The print itself is muted, with gray, slate, and steel blue fronds on a cream background. But that makes it a perfect pair for the simplicity of the knotted top. The pattern won't overshadow the design feature, and together, it will make for a beautiful knit top you'll want to wear all the time!
- Seaweed Cotton Spandex Jersey - At first blush, this seaweed green, a bright, citrusy chartreuse, may seem like a bold choice for this top. But that's sort of the point. Knit tops are a great place to play with color as they can be layered and styled so that you get a hit of fantastic color without overwhelming your whole outfit. And this fabric, the same cotton jersey as our wild aster option, will make a statement in your wardrobe. For a fresh, bright top, look no further than this stunning fabric.
Sew Select Box: Rachel Tie Front Top/Dress from Jalie Patterns
I have been planning these twists boxes for a while now, and I must admit, I still look at them and think "How do they sew that?". My puzzle-solving brain loves to try to figure out just how that tie emerges from fabric where you'd think it shouldn't. That's exactly what happens when I look at the Rachel Tie-Front Dress. How exactly does it work? And how soon can I make it so that I can look as effortless as the model looks in the photo?
This dress does more than mystify my brain. It also offers so many options, you could make a dozen versions of it without repeating yourself. With three tie-front options, multiple necklines and sleeve choices, and two different lengths, the only limit to how you can make this dress is your imagination. It's bound to become a tried and true in your wardrobe.
For fabrics, most light to medium weight knits work, so I wanted to give a variety of ways to show off the tie front, from casual to more work-ready. I think I've found some unique fabrics for this dress, so I hope you love them as much as I do. Let's take a look!
- Ocean Harbor Stripe Cotton Jersey - Something really cool happens with stripes for this dress. The bodice is cut with the stripes going horizontal, but the skirt portion is cut on the bias to create the tie-front look, so the stripes run along the diagonal. The illusion adds even more interest to an already fantastic pattern and is ideal for a casual summer. The navy and cerulean stripe hints at a nautical bateau top, but with more color. Plus the cotton will keep you cool and comfy every time you wear it!
- Moss Cotton Modal Jersey - Moss green is such a spring color with its hints of yellow and muted tones. Brighter than a khaki, the color is lush and alive, while still being understated. In our favorite cotton modal jersey, the fabric has both strength and softness and a healthy dose of spandex gives it great stretch. Go for green with this fantastic fabric!
- Spring Wildflowers Viscose Jersey - When looking for knit fabrics, it can be difficult to find the right combination of luxuriously soft fibers and gorgeous prints. You can usually find one but not the other. However, this floral print jersey manages to both and to do them well. A stretchy viscose jersey with just the right amount of heft, this fabric is printed with a blue, white, and bright pink floral pattern that feels straight out of a meadow. For a spring floral dress, this is the fabric to choose. A true knockout of a print!
Sew Curvy Box: Belgravia Dress from Liesl & Co
Liesl & Co Patterns is one of those pattern companies that I've almost used several times, but never actually put one in a box. However, they have so many good patterns, it was only a matter of time before one fit perfectly with one of the themes. Enter the Belgravia Dress.
This dress has everything I was looking for this month. An easy sew that looks deceptively difficult, the pattern is work ready in the right fabric but can also be dressed down for a casual summer dress. The waist tie gives shape to the dress while the center slit adds some flirty fun. It's a win-win!
Unlike the previous two patterns, this dress can benefit from more structured knits, like french terry and ponte, a fabric I love but never get to use as much as I like. For colors, I leaned towards the pastel side, but still with some bright hues. And here they are!
- Cornflower Blue Bamboo Cotton French Terry - This fabric is a punch of color that reminds us of still pools and spring flowers. Thin and lightweight for a french terry, this fabric boasts a soft, semi-fluid drape that will work so well for the twisted waist ties. With 4-way stretch, it will move with you while staying light and comfortable. The look of a dressy knit but the feel of loungewear, a dress in this fabric will truly be secret pajamas.
- Magenta Tie Dye Bamboo Jersey - Sometimes it's hard to deny a trend, and this is the case with the return of tie-dye. Once relegated to Hippies and Dead Heads, this effect is everywhere nowadays from traditional Shibori to dip-dying to ice-dying. Get the look of home-dying without the possibility of staining your kitchen with this cool fabric. Silky smooth and cool to the touch, this bamboo jersey has a fluid drape and soft hand, making it ideal for a summer dress with a twist. A bold and beautiful fabric!
- Wintergreen Lightweight Ponte - Feeling this ponte fabric is truly believing. Touchably soft, it's lighter than what you might think of for ponte and has an amazing flexibility that will show off the waist tie of this dress without adding a ton of bulk. And in a sagey, minty wintergreen, the fabric is an unexpected yet altogether stunning option for this dress. Create a sophisticated yet fun outfit with this fabric option!
Sew Indulgent Box: Kielo Dress/Jumpsuit from Named Clothing
We've actually used the Kielo Dress before for a different theme, and while we don't like to repeat patterns, this dress is too good not to do again, this time in knit. Since our first offering, Named Clothing has also revised the pattern, adding the jumpsuit option, making it perfect for our luxury box.
There's utter simplicity in the design of this dress, but the finished result looks truly one of a kind. And it's flattering on everyone I've seen! The fitted top gives the look of a t-shirt, the wrap creates shape and contrast, and the vague tulip skirt elongates. All in all, a winning pattern.
For fabrics, the biggest concern is weight since there is a lot of fabric in the "wings" that wrap around you. For that reason, I tried to steer towards lighter weight options, such as bamboo and modal, that still have the heft needed to remain opaque through the skirt while still having lots of drape and flow. Let's take a look!
- Faded Chambray Cotton Modal Jersey - Nothing screams spring more than a bright blue to me and this hue makes me think of blue sky days and bright sunshine. In our favorite cotton-modal jersey, the fabric has stretch and drape, like your favorite t-shirt fabric, and will transform into your favorite lounge-worthy knit dress. Bright, airy, and classic, this fabric has it all!
- Cactus Green Palm Print Ecovero Jersey - The fabric that started our color scheme for this month, this printed jersey features palm fronds of different green shades that evoke tropical islands and hot, sunny days. The fabric itself has a slight sheen from the ecovero that adds even more interest to the look. A bold print for a bold dress – who could ask for anything more?
- Blossom Pink Bamboo Jersey - This luscious bamboo jersey is smooth as silk and naturally cool to the touch. The drapiest of the three options, it will flow beautifully through the ties and skirt all while feeling amazing against your skin. The bright, blossom pink, a blush tone like cherry blossoms and roses, is fresh and youthful, and will turn this dress into an instant mood boost!
Are you ready for Spring? I know I am and we are technically only a week away. All these bright colors are really putting me in the mood for spring dresses and warm weather outfits.
In that vein, I'm reviving our Shirtdress Boxes from July 2020 in our Tried and True series. These dresses are fun, summer-ready woven dresses in the same bright colors we have for our knit options above. Create beautiful button front staples to get you through the spring and summer heat in style!
Until next time. . .