January 15, 2021

This March, We're All About Sleeves


We are nearing the one year anniversary of lockdown here in the United States, and it's truly amazing how the past year has felt incredibly eventful and packed with emotion and yet in some ways, it seemed to fly by with days blending together, months melding and whole season gone before they seemed to start. In one year, many of our lives have been completely reordered, and as March approaches, it's both exciting and terrifying to wonder what the next year will bring.

What I can say for certain is that your wardrobe needs have probably changed a lot in the last year as well. Back when I first started this company, I went from a job where I went to a place wearing a nice business casual outfit five days a week to one where I rolled out of bed and was lucky if I changed my pajamas into a sweats and a t-shirt. I still have much beloved clothes from the before time that I rarely get to wear, but I find myself planning on batch sewing tank tops so I don't have to do laundry as much. Does this sound familiar to anyone?While your pandemic wardrobe shift may not be as drastic as mine was, you probably can appreciate at least part of it.

From a sewing perspective, it's really made me choose themes each month that fit this different lifestyle. If you were paying attention last year, there were a lot more casual separates than the first two years, and this year, I'm trying to balance our boxes between aspirational clothes and workaday necessities. This month, I'm choosing Zoom-worthy tops and dresses that are all about the sleeves.

All four of the patterns this month rock some voluminous and standout sleeves. These are not the simple straight sleeve of a button down shirt or the fitted sleeves of a knit tee. No, these are full and fabulous, with unique pleats, fitted cuffs, and, hey, even a bishop sleeve, so that the part of you that shows on camera is oh-so-stylish. And when it comes to a pandemic era wardrobe, that's really all we can ask for, right?

So, without further do, let's dig in to the boxes!

Sew Fearless Box: Puff Sleeve Blouse from The Assembly Line

If you're unconvinced to sew a statement sleeve, this pattern is the one that might change your mind. From Scandinavian pattern makers, The Assembly Line, the Puff Sleeve Top is the perfect entry level pattern to the big sleeve world. Fitted through the bicep, all the volume is around the wrist, creating a refined boho effect that I just absolutely love. Combine that with french darts and an overlapped shoulder detail, and I'm practically swooning. The top is sophisticated, simple, and elegant. Basically everything I could ask for!

What's great about this pattern is that so many fabrics can work with it. A fluid rayon or satin plays up the drape of the sleeve, while a crisper cotton will play up the volume. It was really fun to choose the final effect of the blouse simply with our fabric options. I've chosen three that I think will not only look amazing, but also be easy to sew. So let's take a look! 

  • White and Blue Ikat Cotton - I have been itching to use an ikat for a while now. I love the uneven nature of the print and how it really shows off the weave of the fabric. If you're unfamiliar, ikat is a resist dyeing technique where the threads used for weaving are dyed beforehand. The ikat threads are bound in a pattern so that the threads covered by the binding ‘resist’ the dye, creating a design. Here that design is a beautiful check pattern where squares of indigo blue float on a white background. The simple cotton is soft and supple, and will show off the clean lines of the pattern beautifully. A dream of a fabric!
  • Evergreen Viscose Linen Silky Noil - I've used this fabric before for a dress, but I couldn't get it out of my head for this blouse. The little nubs of the noil will add texture and interest to the blouse and the viscose will add a nice amount of drape to the bodice. The linen will keep the structure of the sleeve so you can have just the right amount of volume for your look. Plus, that deep green color is divine - rich and verdant. If you want to let the color make the blouse, this is the fabric for you!
  • Pink Lemonade Floral Cotton Lawn - I knew I wanted to use a lawn for this pattern. The tight weave of the fabric holds the structure of the sleeve and shoulder detail well, but the smooth and incredibly thin nature of the material is perfect to keep the blouse light and wearable. When I found this light pink floral, I knew it was right. The pink is on the peachy side and the white floral pattern is subtle and delicate, a great combination to show off clean style lines of the pattern. Paired with a pair of jeans or work pants, a blouse in this fabric will complete your look with ease and simplicity. I absolutely love it!

Sew Confident Box: Roscoe Blouse & Dress from True Bias

It has been a minute since I used a True Bias pattern in one of our boxes, but the Roscoe Blouse reminds me of what I love about the company. The patterns are simple, versatile, and just a touch fashion forward. They were on the cutting edge of the joggers craze, and here, they anticipated the prairie look that has been cropping up and interpreted it in a way that is approachable and, more importantly, wearable.

What I love about this dress is its adaptability. With three different variations, you can make a top, a tunic, or a dress all with the tie opening and boho gathers around the neck and ruffle. And, oh, the sleeves! That's why we're here right? Raglan cut with a gathered cuff, they will be so easy to fit and wear and will add nice volume to the look. Even if you're only wearing this top for a zoom meeting, you'll still be relaxed and comfortable and stylish!

Now, to the fabrics!

  • Denim Blue Double Gauze - I do love a good double gauze. What better fabric to make secret pajamas? This cotton gauze is light and slightly squishy and will just float on the body with this loose fitting top. The blue is the color of washed denim and I love how the softness of the color matches the softness of the fabric. If you're looking for top that feels like you've been wrapped in a baby blanket, look no further!
  • Navy/Coral Pointillist Stripe Viscose Crepe - Sometimes I struggle with coming up with names for all the fabric. Is it a polka dot, a speckle, and abstract print? For this print, pointillist immediately jumped out, as the stripe bands are actually made of little dots of coral, like if Georges Seurat decided to take a stab at fabric design. I love how the small dots create a large scale pattern on the navy background, and I think the vertical stripes will look amazing turned into a dress. You could also play with the direction of the stripe on the hem ruffle for a truly unique look. A lovely fabric befitting a love pattern!
  • Melon Pink Cotton Swiss Dot - If you want just a hint of texture in your top or dress look no further than swiss dot. Little bumps of thread dot this melon pink voile, and it creates a beautiful polka dot pattern will really shine in this boho look. The fabric is wonderfully lightweight and soft, and the top you create will be breezy and airy, perfect for getting a jump on Spring sewing. A beautiful choice!

Sew Curvy Box: Adrianna Dress from Friday Pattern Co

When I first started thinking about doing statement sleeves, this pattern was the first one that came to mind. The Adrianna Dress, and its sister pattern for knits, the Adrienne Top, makes the sleeves the centerpiece of the design and it really helps it stand out from the pack. Elastic at the shoulders and wrists create beautiful gathers that accentuate the volume of the sleeves. Paired with a simple A-line bodice, the sleeves look stylish without being over-powering, a statement that doesn't need to shout. 

Plus, this pattern is so versatile. In a luxe fabric, like silk or tencel, you can create a party dress that is a comfortable as it is elegant. In a simple cloth, you can sew a tunic that pairs wonderfully with tights or leggings. But whether dressed up or dressed down, you have a dress that will be both comfortable and fun to wear. And who could ask for anything more?

Now, let's talk fabric!

  • Red Handblock Daisy Print Cotton - I can't get over this fabric! Seriously, I love everything about it. The lightweight cotton is handblock printed with a series of interlocking daisies made up of tiny red dots, and it reminds me of tile floors and Mediterranean waters, a vacation in a fabric. The print is indigo-dyed, leaving traces of blue on the cotton that will fade over time and create life and character in whatever you sew. If you want a dress that will feel like an heirloom piece even when it's fresh off the sewing machine, this is the fabric for you!
  • Emerald Freestyle Print Rayon Lawn - When doing tops, I couldn't go without using rayon lawn, one of my favorite fabrics. The tight weave and slightly crisp drape works so well for the volume of the sleeves, and the cool hand means that any dress will feel amazing against your skin. Oh, and did you see that print? The deep emerald color is vibrant and cheery, and the pattern, a series of freehand cross-hatch clusters, is fun and unique. A truly stunning fabric!
  • Black Sandwashed Viscose Cupro - Have you ever wanted to own a silk dress but everything about silk terrifies you? Yeah, I know the feeling. Silk is amazing but also hard to sew, clean, and maintain. Enter this viscose/cupro fabric. Because of the cupro, it looks almost exactly like washed silk, but it's machine washable and has a little more body, making it easier to sew. Fool all your friend into thinking you bought an expensive silk dress, and then smile because, one, you made it, and two, at the end of the day, you can throw it in the wash!

Sew Confident Box: Multi-Sleeve Midi Dress from The Assembly Line

I ask you, how could I not use a pattern that literally has sleeve in the title? All joking aside, it's the multiple options for sleeves that really drew me to this dress. The dress itself is a lovely, simple design: a fitted bodice with french darts, a lightly shaped waist, and a classic A line skirt. Even without the sleeves, this dress would be a knockout.

But did we mention the sleeves? You get a choice of three looks: a simple straight sleeve, a puffed bishop sleeve with a buttoned cuff, or a subtle pleated three quarter length sleeve with an attached cuff. But don't worry, no matter which you choose, you'll end up with an elegant and sophisticated dress that be great for both working from home and (eventually) working from the office.

So, let's take a look at the fabrics!

  • Liquorice Horizon Tencel Twill - This fabric is all about the color. As I searched for fabrics, I couldn't get this deep, dark green, almost like the sheen off an oil slick, out of my head. I kept imagining it as this long sleeved dress, maybe styled with a pair of boots and a bold necklace, and I swooned. The fabric itself is a medium weight tencel twill with great body and a lovely, supple drape, and it will look fabulous with any of the sleeve options. A stunning option!
  • Alaskan Snow Indigo Indian Cotton - Not quite a dot, not quite a stripe, this indigo cotton has an ikat print that looks like snow falling on a dark blue sky. And with this pattern, it will become a dress that look truly out of this world. The cotton itself is yarn-dyed and truly unique, plus it is lightweight yet opaque, making it perfect for this dress. Become your own force of nature when you sew up a dress in the gorgeous fabric!
  • Marsala Washed Linen - I know it's winter and linen isn't exactly on your mind, but there was no way I could pick fabrics for this dress and not have a linen option. This medium weight fabric has an antique washed finish that makes it soft and pliable, plus a slub weave gives texture and depth. And the color! A rich, red brown with hints of pink, the color is earthy and divine. Transformed into a one of a kind dress, and you have your new favorite outfit maker!


Whew! I can't believe it's already January, and I'm writing about the March Boxes. Time is a funny, fickle thing, if you know what I mean. I have a lot of big plans for the new year, so stay tuned and sign up for the newsletter if you haven't done so already.

To round out this month, I'm offering the Woven Wrap Dresses I did a year ago in the Classic series. Easter is early this year, so it's never too soon to get a jumpstart on some Spring dresses, and these boxes could surely help you on that front.

Until next time. . . 

Happy sewing!


Start Building a Handmade Wardrobe

We bundle modern patterns, drool‑worthy fabrics and all the notions you’ll need — then deliver them straight to your door each month.

Choose a subscription box