Silk T Shirt Tutorial

One of you came in last week and got so excited about my white silk T shirt that I was inspired to make another! I love these for several reasons. First it doesnt take much fabric. This is a yard of hand painted silk that was only 44” wide. Second its such a quick project since there are only 2 seams- french seems under the arm and down the side.
Third it uses “fancy” silk in a casual T shirt style. I used it on the cross grain and serged on a strip of coordinating bamboo jersey for the neckline. Finally- its just a little but warm, which is great for this strange weather we’ve been having. See some photos of the process below
First fold it in half matching the selvages at the bottom. Measure your hip width and add 1”. Divide by 4 and that is your hem dimension. Make a snip through the selvage at this point. Now measure your bicep- add 1” and divide in half. Mark this measurement down from the top right and snip. Then cut a curved line connecting this to your first snip (through the selvage) Then cut half the width of your neck as shown top left curving up to the fold. Mine is 5” total. (2.5” when folded)
Once you have made those cuts, refold your piece down the center fold line. Then cut the front neck line 4” down perpendicular to the fold and cut a curve up the the back neck snip. Once you finish cutting the neckline place the wrong sides together and see from the wrist along the curve to the hem. Repeat for both sides. Clip, press and flip to right sides and sew again to create French seams. Then serge a folded 2” strip of jersey knit onto the neck line.

Its up to you if you want to turn up the hem. I chose to turn up the hem of this one because it is a hand painted silk and there were some glaring white spots along the selvage.

I chose not to turn up the sleeve hems because this piece had been ripped at both raw edges creating a ravel proof and very casual finish. I have also tried serging a strip onto the sleeve hem as a finish and it works well too.

However you decide to finish yours, we would love to see the result. Take a photo of yourself and email it to us at ElfriedesFineFabrics@elfriedesfinefabrics

No Waste Pleated Bag

A quick photo tutorial on how to make this cute hobo style bag!
Designed by Queen Bean Productions

Here is a little video tour so you can see it a little better.

Things you will need:

3/4 yard cotton canvas, 5/8 yard quilt cotton lining, 7/8th yard of 2” wide strapping (i used ribbon and backing) 1 large button and 2 yards of 3/8” wide ribbon

Here you can see that my lining is shorter than the canvas but their width is the same
Look how cute these prints are together 💕

Cut the selvages off so both fabrics are exactly the same width. A narrower pair of fabrics will still make a nice bag. Just use fewer pleats. You’ll see what i mean further down

Fold each fabric right sides together with the folded edge at the bottom
Stitch the short ends using 1/4” seam allowance
Next you’ll need to fold the stitched line as shown above.. measure 3” up from the point along the stitch line and sew perpendicular from top to bottom
Repeat for each stitch line. 4 times total. This creates the “bottom” of the bag.
Place the lining inside the canvas right sides together lining up the long raw edges.
Stitch them together using 1/4” seam allowance
Leave a small gap to turn the bag right sides out
Here is what it looks like

Push the lining into the canvas lining up the seams you made when you created the bottom of the bag and pin the two layers together

Pins showing through to the lining.

Tack these two layers together at the seam intersection

Now arrange the fabric so that both layers lay flat and smooth against each other. The extra height of the canvas will fold to the inside of the bag. Iron it as shown above
Stitch closed the hole you used to turn the bag right sides out
Now it is time to mark the pleats. First mark goes at the center on the right side of the bag. Next place another mark 1.5” to either side of that. Place these two marks right sides together and stitch from the top of the bag onto the lining.
Back stitch at top and bottom

Leave two inches between each pleat. For 44” wide fabric 5 pleats seems to yield the right dimensions to me. The first bag pictured in this post was made from narrower (about 27” wide i think) fabrics and only needed 3 pleats.

Iron the pleats into box pleats as shown.
5 pleats each side
Now its time to make the pleat on each side of the bag that will also become the channel for the handle. In the photo i am using the ribbon i picked for the handle to guide the width of the pleat. Make it as tall as the other pleats you have made.
Stitch the decorative ribbon to the backing ribbon along the edges.
Insert the raw edge of the strap into the channel as shown above. Push til it is even with the bottom of the stitching that forms the pleat
Here is what it shows look like from the inside
Create the hourglass stitching that reinforces the strength of the strap. Align the bottom horizontal stitch line with the bottom of the pleat stitching.
Once the strap is secure on both ends top stitch around the top edge of the bag. Carefully controlling all the pleats with pins if needed.
Now its time to create your closure. Cut about 22” of your 3/8” ribbon. Fold it in half and use your button to determine where to stitch across to form the loop as shown above .
Place the loop 2” above the top edge of the bag so that the gap in the ribbons below lines up perfectly with the stitching of the center of 5 pleats
Stitch as shown in a rectangle shape.
Place the rest of the ribbon parallel to the top edge of the bag so that its top edge is at the height of the lining inside and stitch all around. I only stitched the top edge of this ribbon because its cute on the other side too.
Now sew the button onto the other side of the bag – placing it in the center of the 5 pleats and between the top edge of the bag and the ribbon
Sew your label onto the strap. All done!

Draped Coat for Herta

Elfriede inspects my work
Work in Progress

Long ago Elfriedes mother came from Germany to Boulder, Colorado to visit her second daughter and brought this stunning piece of hand embroidered trim. Whoever made it worked the delicate flowers and buds onto a fabric and turned the raw edges under with a stay stitch.

Stunning hand worked embroidery

And so it is both pliable and incredibly beautiful but elderly, discolored in spots, of varying width and including a distinct odor, not unpleasant, but which becomes more apparent when steam pressed.

Silk accents to strengthen the colors

But the very best things about it are how well it pairs with my drab grey jacquard stripe tropical weight wool and how inspired i feel to work with it. I wish to do justice to Herta’s gift and make something that will show Elfriede I am worthy of this treasure.

And so the journey begins

I “sketched “ some lines onto my dress form with thin brown ribbon. Accentuating the loveliest parts of the female form. A peak at the small of the back, a scoop under the rump and empire line at front bust. There is no traditional side seam in this coat i have imagined- so it will require some experimenting to put it together. This is my kind of puzzle. I draped the bodice in muslin and turned that into a paper pattern.

Time to cut!

I trued up the top front bodice with a shirt pattern i have so that i can add a collar and sleeve without drafting them from scratch.

Once everything is cut its time to start integrating the trim, and silks.

Adding trim by hand to the collar
Cutting out sleeve lining
Sew the wrist first then the length of the arm

This pink / yellow bi weave is so mesmerizing in person- i picked it for the cuff and inner collar detail.. Peach silk habotai for sleeve lining and the sleeve tapered at the wrist for a nice drape. A smidge of the purple silver bi weave wraps to the front emphasizing the lack of side seams- my personal design pet peeve.

Small of back cut on the bias

I anchored the trim into the center back seam and used the angle of the piecing guide the ribbon down and around the side, mitred the corner and ran it up the empire line to the center front

Hand stitching anchors the mitre

I like it when my garments are nice and neat on the inside. This light weight coat will be mostly unlined when finished- and the off white serger thread looks good enough against the pale grey wool.

First look- all pinned together.
Hidden in seam pockets

The trickiest technical bit of this coat was figuring out these pockets. I used my phone to draft the size and shape of them. I used an edge stitch to control the seam allowance here.

Now to decide about the buttons

I have a love hate relationship with buttons. I love these buttons- laser cut shell from the shop- off white and white floral pattern. They are lovely- and perfectly in line with the feeling this coat evokes. But i hate the way the go “clown” when placed evenly spaced down the center of the placket. Is it just me??

But i like them like this

A little off to the side and only between the collar and the empire line. Ill use button hole twist to make loops by hand instead of forcing my beautiful silk organza plackets through the trauma of button holes by machine.

Glamour shot of the buttons
Now to address the hem

I like to use my dress form – making sure my shoulder seams are where they should be and that everything this hanging properly. I hold my scissors horizontal to the floor and using my dress form cage as a guide cut the uneven parts off

Much better 😊

Dyeing silk T-shirts with Procion

I got a wild hair last week and bought some Procion dye for natural fibers from Guirys in Boulder.

I have only ever used Rit dye before and have been unhappy with the fading over the long term.

So i made a silk shirt using a narrow box weave off white silk i found in my stash. The neckline is a silk jersey knit used as a ribbing. The serger thread is synthetic and unfortunately won’t take the dye. It is topstitched in cotton thread though, and that will!

It is a casual loose fit style T with a boat neck, short dolman sleeves and a shirt tail hem. Its cut with the shoulder on the fold.

I think it will be nice over leggings?

This was a 30” wide piece a World War 2 veteran brought into us. He had been paid for his service with it. Its a box weave a little heavier than habotai.

Soak in soda ash and water solution for 20 minutes, wring out, lay flat on a water proof surface.

I wanted a bit of a diagonal stripe effect so i pinched out a fold including front and back of T.
Keep going. Try to keep your folds as organized as possible and more or less the same height.
Complete folding on both sides as shown.
Now its time to roll it up so that we don’t waste too much dye. I started at the top.
Finished twisting into a Cinnamon Bun shape
One rubber band to hold it together
Put it into a plastic tub on some sort of risers. I used cookie cutters.
Antique Gold on top.
All over
Now flip it over and dye the other side black.
All over
Flipped it over again so the black side is down. What will it look like? The wait is excruciating. 24-48 wrapped in plastic!
Here is the back.
Here is my first attempt. I didn’t take photos along the way .. but used a spiral technique and combined Antique Gold, Scarlet and Magenta on the top and Black on the bottom.

I love how vibrant the color is!

Fabric Planter Cover

Finished silk dupioni planter cover
I have a cool croton plant. I rescued it from the clearance rack at king Soopers a few years ago and it has been growing. I don’t have a ceramic pot available for it – and they’re expensive to I decided to try making a cover for my fake terra cotta plastic planter.
First take some measures. You will need to write down how big the planter is around at the bottom. My bottom circumference is 22”
Also write down how big around it is at the top – use the widest point . My top circumference is 40”
Now measure the height of the planter from the bottom to the widest point. Write that down too. The height of this planter is 10”

Now you’ll need to decide how many panels you want and make your pattern piece.
I decided on 6 panels- so I divided my numbers each by 6.

40/6= 6.66”


I like to use a .5” seam allowance for vertical seams so I’ll 1” totally to each number – since the pattern piece will need to have seam allowance on all sides



Now for you simplicity round up to the nearest 1/4” and you get a wide 7.75” wide at the top and 4.75” wide at the bottom and 10” tall.

I used my kids artwork to make this pattern piece because why not? If you look closely you’ll notice I also added a shallow curve to the top of the piece.
Cut your pattern piece 6 times each from your fashion fabric, your lining, and your stiff fusible interfacing.

I think this is an old Kaffe Fassett print I found in my stash. I like how it picks up the rust color in my dupioni.
Fuse the interfacing to your fabric and sew the wedges together, pressing seams open. Silk organza makes a nice press cloth.
Once you sew all the vertical seams it will look like this
Now sew all the vertical seams of the lining too
Pin lining to self at top, right sides together and sew all around it the top edge
Trim your seam allowance at the top edge to 1/4”
Flip your planter to right sides out and press, then baste around the bottom edge catching both layers
Fold your band lengthwise and press
Put raw edges together and stitch the band to the right side of the bottom of the planter.
Flip band around to inside of planter binding the the raw bottom circumference edge of the planter and pin in place. Top stitch in the ditch.
All done and I think a nice improvement in my living space. Post a picture of yours!

Fold over elastic shaped face mask

33” fold over elastic
5” x 3/8” ribbon for loops
2 each front and lining fabrics
Matching thread and pins

First put right sides of self together and right sides of lining together. Sew along curve at 1/4”

From the right side of the front pieces fold the seam allowance to one side and stitch right beside the seam

Cut your 5” strip in half and fold each piece into a loop pinning the bottom piece 1/4” up from the bottom corner on the short side. Do this for both sides

Then stitch in place at 1/8”

Next put right sides of self and lining together and stitch at 1/4 “ starting from the top of one short side, across the bottom and back up the other short side.

Trim the corners to reduce bulk

Flip right sides out and press

Edge stitch along the 3 sides you already stitched

Now find the center of your fold over elastic and pin at the curved seam. Pin the elastic along the top edge and sew

Now cross the elastics over and thread them through the loops.

Now the recipient can tie the elastic off to suit their own head size and comfort. This style is easier on the ears than the elastic loop version since it doesn’t require them for support. My dad models below 😍

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Here is a link to a free pattern download for this mask

Two piece lace dress

I have been selected to show 10 looks at a runway show on September 28th.

It will be thrown by the Thorn organization. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s non profit organization to combat child sex trafficking.

It is just the excuse I needed to get my hands into this raspberry chantilly lace.

Oh my!

I used my skirt sloper to make this pencil skirt with “nude” cotton lawn lining and hidden credit card pocket.

It is light as a feather.

I had to drape the little high low crop top and it was simple enough that I have decided to share my process.

First “draw” your lines onto your dress form. I used a narrow brown ribbon I had in my trim drawer.

There is no need to mark the center front and back because the dress form has a seam.

I call her my room mate. She has been with me since I studied design at Parsons in NYC in 2007. Lordy.


Then you cut a couple of rectangles bigger in all directions than your widest measurements of the front and back.

Fold the center front line for stability and pin it on the dress form.

Smooth it up the neck line and across the shoulder pinning into the form at all seam intersections.

Smooth across the hip clipping at the princess line to release the tension.

Continue smoothing your fabric to the side seam and pinch out the excess into a dart.

You can play with the direction of this dart as long as it points to the apex of the bust.

Mark your intersections with crosses and your curves with small dots. Remove the front draping and proceed to the back.

Now take them both off the dress form and get out your curved rulers and a clear 2×18 and a micron pen or sharp pencil

Use the curved ruler to smooth out your dotted curves and your clear ruler to add seam allowance.

Pinch and pin the dart to draw the side seam.

That’s how you get this notch shape to sew the dart into the side seam.

Repeat for the back and cut away excess fabric.

Now it’s time to check your work.

Pin the dart and the side seams and see if your lines fit together smoothly.

Notice my bottom side seam hem is off by a quarter inch. 🤦‍♀️

No big deal. Just use your curves ruler to make that jagged line into a graceful curve.

Pin it on the dress form to check your work again.

Looks good.

Now cut the lining and try it on.

I cut the center front on the fold and the center back with a 1″ seam allowance for a zipper.

Fits fine. Now it’s time to cut the lace and underlining.

Treat them as if they are one. Sew the dart and put it on the dress form.

Now time for the lining.

I put the right sides together at the neck and the hemline. Then bound the armholes and applied scalloped edging to the hem.

To apply the scallop use lots of pins, first straight stitch it on then zig zag. You can see it from the back.

But not from the front!

Now it’s time to apply the separating zipper.

And finish the inside of the garment with Hong Kong technique.

Try it on the dress form

Perfect. Add a couple hooks and eyes and you are all done.

I think it will make a nice little prim/ sexy statement on the runway.

I might also wear it out on Friday night in Vegas on my next shopping trip.

Oh la la!

Make All The Yoga Tops!

I went to yoga class the other day. Uxia taught us about opening our heart chakras.

The yoga teachers at Soul Tree Yoga in Lafayette are always wearing some neat tops. I often come away feeling inspired to sew.

Today my muscles are sore and the snow from yesterday’s storm is lingering in my garden. It’s the perfect day to sew up a couple cool tops for me to wear.

Here is what you need if you want to make some too.

A front, a back, a 2″ x 60″ band and a serger.

I used our bamboo jersey because it’s the best. It is washable, dryable, fast growing, low water, no pesticide naturally anti microbial fabric that resists pilling and has a soft hand with great drape and weight. Can you tell I’m a fan? It’s 60″ wide and $18/ yard and all of the tops you will see in this post were made from 1 length – for me that’s between 5/8th and 7/8th of a yard.

For the pattern I cut up a shirt I liked the fit of from Mud Coffee in New York once I had worn it out. I traced it onto paper and it has been my go to pattern for tank tops and t-shirts and dresses ever since.

First pin the shoulders and side seams right sides together.

Then serge those seems. The rule of thumb Costume Shop Maven Rita Sclavunos taught me all those years ago at Trinity College was that one should serge from in to out and from up to down. Thanks Rita.

It should look like this when you are done.

Now take your two inch band, fold in half and lay the raw edges down along the neck opening. You are estimating how long your neck and will be. This changes for me every time as I tweak my neckline for layering.

Now pick up the band at the spot where it overlaps itself. Eyeball what 80% of the length of the neck hole opening is and cut the band there.

Your neck line must be shorter than the neck hole opening.

Now serge the short ends of the band together to make your neck band loop.

Fold the band in half again and place the seam you just created at the center back of the shirt and pin.

Now fold the band in half so that you have the exact opposite point from the pin folded. Also fold the shirt so that you can see the center front line.

Now pin these two points together.

Continue finding the halfway point between these pins on both the band and the neck opening of the top and pin. Note: these will not be the shoulder seams.

Pin these points.

Repeat til you have 8 pins in your neckline.

Now serge your 3 raw edges together starting at the center back.

Tug the neckline gentle to stretch it flat to the band while you are serging.

When you get all the way around the neckline you can even out the angle caused from driving the serger onto the seam at the beginning.

Tie off your serger tails in a double knot close to the serging and press with steam iron.

Pressing will make a wobbly looking neck band much nicer.

Now repeat the neck band technique for both armholes.

If you have a coverstitch machine you probably don’t need this tutorial but now would be the time to turn up your hem with the cover stitch machine and top stitch the serging down around the neck and armholes. Below I used my cover stitch machine on this navy t-shirt.

If you don’t have a cover stitch you can twin needle stitch to fake it.

Or just serge the hem.. or even leave it raw.

This fabric won’t fray and I don’t think my yoga teachers will mind a raw edge.

Once you have these basic techniques down you can get fancy with the details.

Slash the back to show off your spine or a contrasting tank or sports bra underneath.

Make an overlapping shoulder peakaboo low back?

Add sleeves and serged on bottom band?

Use a cute print? This is for my 4 year old daughter. She is much more patient when I sew if I am making something for her 🤣

Now I hope you are inspired to make your own yoga tops. Get creative and show us what you come up with.

Bye bye.

Warm Weather Quilt

It has been far too Arctic here for far too long. I had to do something to fight back.

For a long time I have been dreaming of an orange quilt in Kaffe Fassett range. I had about a yard the really orange print with roses that I had been hanging onto for just this moment.

It is the one in the front left.

I brought it into the shop and pick out those other prints to go with it. Kaffe Fassett prints lend themselves so well to big squares. They are beautiful and powerful when presented this way- and in my time crunch momtrepreneur life quick and powerful is always the way to go.

When picking colors for this quilt I wanted that hot, sweaty radiating heat of summertime to be reflected in each one of the prints- and only florals. These are cut into 10″ squares.

Once I had these picked out it just seemed kind of clear that I needed to sash these squares in blue Millifiore.

Its a really beautiful print they have put out in zillions of colors.

For me it really let hot squares stand out.

I bought all we had left. About 2.5 yards- not knowing what exactly how much I would need. I knew I wouldn’t mind having some left over.. 😊

Now I had to pick my layout.

I had cut 2″x10″ rectangles of Millifiore and sewed them to the bottom of each square when I took these photos.

I find it useful sometimes to photograph potential layouts in black and white to check the value.

After deciding what goes where I stitched the columns together in long strips making sure to iron each seam.

Then I cut the long 2″ strips of sashing for the vertical pieces and laid them down between my columns to see the effect. You can see the sashing is longer than the columns. I cut the extras off and put them into the binding at the end.

Now stitch them all together, then lay it down to have a look at it.

At this point it is customary for the Quality Control Team to come by and check things out. This project got a pass from both officers. 😅

I put a poll put on Facebook and Instagram and you all overwhelmingly agreed that there should be no borders on this quilt.

That suited me just fine because I plan to quilt this bad boy myself on my regular machine and it was ready 70″x70″

I got some bamboo batting. I have decided to eliminate all plastic that I can from my life and that includes the 80/20 batting I have always used before. I got it at Quilters Corner in Erie and I was very pleased with it. It was clingy in a good way and I found it both soft and easy to work with.

They didn’t have anything I wanted for backing though so I hoofed it back into Boulder to see what Elfriede’s could do.

lol and behold I found the most sumptuous luscious verdant Japanese chrysanthemum print in color Forest. I got about 4.75 yards. More than I technically needed by I wanted enough so I could match the prints up on the back.

Why go to all this trouble to have a mismatched back?

Here is your first peak of the backing and my quilting glorious quilting system.

I am addicted to quilting but I cannot afford to hire anyone to do my long arming. I have to make it work with my Bernina 155 Virtuosa and this lovely burrito technique.

Start in the center and work your way out. Take your time. It’s not that bad- and it’s certainly not perfect.

I decided to follow the prints with my free motion quilting.

It’s kind of mesmerizing after a while. Like coloring in a coloring book.

Finish with a 1/4″ binding in blue Millifiore.

I call this my Warm Weather Quilt, trying to channel spring in the making of it. It turns out I’ve finished it just in time for the Arctic Bomb Cyclone they are forecasting for tomorrow.

Oh well..

At least I will have it to wrap up in!

What do you think?

Silk Poncho

Sometimes it pays to be the fabric buyer.

I found this extraordinary 4 ply silk crepe last time I went shopping for the shop and our vendor only had two left- one of which was the sample which he sold to me for cash. It has been sitting in my sacred fabric pile ever since. I didn’t think to take a photo before I cut the neck hole and turned up the corners.

Then I saw the Christian Dior exhibit at the Denver Art museum.. I came home emboldened and inspired. Ready to fearlessly cut my stash.

I used the back neck pattern for a woven shirt I know fits me placing it carefully so that the poncho would be bias cut and the motif was symmetrical front and back. I cut the back neck curve with a rotary cutter on my self healing mat.

Then I cut a strip of silk charmeuse on the straight of grain. Placed it around the widest part of my head so that it went over easily but snugly when I pulled it up and down. That’s how big I wanted to make my neck line. I don’t want to cut any more of this gorgeous textile than I have to. I measured around the back neck line I had already cut with my ribbon and And using the remainder of the length I found the V front. I ended up with a cut like this.

I carefully bound the neckline so the matte side of the silk would face out. This is a silk crepe paisley and I didn’t want satin on the neckline stealing the show. I chose a V because I have had crew neck ponchos ride up and choke me. No thanks.

Once the neckline is bound it’s important to take that little tuck at the front center so it lays flat

Next I roll gemmed all 4 sides. I used cream for the wrongs side and orange for the right side. It’s hardly visible. What do you think?

Now try it on! Hold out your arms to the side points and see how much you want to turn up so you can use your hands.

I turned mine up 7″ from point to fold.

I used burgundy silk thread. Can you see my stitches?

Bring the two corners that interact the hem together and attach them with a secure hand stitch. This will give you a spot for your hands to help the poncho move like sleeves.

Now try it on again!

Wear it with skinny jeans and boots.

This is a 1 size fits all pattern. What do you think?