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Number 125, Come on down.....

Weekend Sewing with Heather Ross

I have been sewing up a storm and it's all Heather Ross's fault.  Weekend Sewing is a fantastic book.  Not only are there many clothing patterns included, there are lots of small, quick projects, too.  I am completely impressed by Heather's attention to detail in her directions and illustrations.  Additionally, the clothes fit the sizes they say they should.  That makes sewing clothes for myself so much more fun.  I was lucky to have the chance to share my finished projects with Heather and asked her some questions about these designs.

March 17 014_1_1  

. . . . .

Erin:  Hi, Heather!  I am so excited that you are here today.  Your new book, Weekend Sewing, is fantastic!   When I saw the project photos on Melanie Falick’s blog a few months ago, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.  Now that it’s been out for a few weeks, I can’t get my fill of sewing from it.  Immediately, I knew that I wanted to make the summer blouse.  It looks like a great between-season wardrobe staple or something you would throw on after an entire day at the beach.  What was going through your mind when you designed this shirt?

Summer blouse detail

Heather:  I started with a very basic bodice pattern with soft darts and a nice high flattering neckline, which is where you should always start when designing a dress or blouse.  I wanted to introduce sewers to an inset sleeve in a way that made sense, and I wanted to make it a slightly shaped. I love the way that vintage tunics from the sixties and seventies are more fitted around the shoulders and chest and upper arm but then have a full, relaxed fit around the waist. Remember the way that Lily Pulitzer dresses and tunics fit? With a high, pretty neckline and and shaping through the chest? Marimekko was the same way, they both knew how to get the best shape from crisp woven cottons. It’s a shape that is so much more flattering than a blouse that is baggy everywhere, but just as comfortable.

With some added length and no sleeves, this pattern will actually make a lovely little sleeveless shift! I added some photos below of one of my versions of this project. I made a little dress out of some of the fabrics from my Mendocino line, with an appliqued contrasting panel. This is just the summer blouse, but with armhole facings instead of sleeves and extended to fit me through the hips. This is what I mean about how great a simple bodice is: you can make it into anything!

Hross tunic

Hross tunic2

Erin:  The next project I made were the Pajama Pants for Everyone.  Well, actually, I adjusted the pattern to make pajama shorts for Jane and Kate.  I think having this pattern on hand is going to come in handy.  I can see myself sitting down and making them assembly line style as gifts for my nephews.   Or a whole winter’s worth for the girls.   Are your clothing designs influenced by items you already own or ones you would like to have or something else entirely?

Pj shorts 027_1_1

Heather:  I wear a lot of pajamas. In fact, I left the house wearing them this evening. Having a dog is such a great fashion accessory. It really ties the whole haven’t left the house in days look together so nicely. I like pajama pants that aren’t all floofy in the front, so I designed these to lie flat. Its as close to wearing real pants as you can get without... wearing real pants. How cute that you cut them into shorts! I would highly recommend cutting them into shorts with the pattern pieces on the bias, you would get the cutest little fluttery pj shorts ever, with a lots of drapey curves around the leg and a nice flat front. An added bonus is the way that bias cut shorts and pants stretch, even when sewn in woven fabrics. Maybe in a nice linen or lawn?

Pj shorts 012_1_1 

Erin:  One thing I love about your book is that there are so many clothes patterns in it.  I haven’t had much success sewing garments for myself in the past.  No longer!  I think you have me on a selfish sewing roll!  Did you start writing the book with clothing in mind, or did the projects fall into place as you went along?

Heather:  I knew from the very beginning that I wanted Weekend Sewing to be the book that propelled sewers from the “straight lines” stage of tote bags and pillow covers to actual garments. I had a vision of someone completing a dress or blouse and then saying “So THATS how you do it, I thought it was so much more complicated!” I focussed on pieces that did not require complicated steps or closures and hoped for the best. I also wanted the projects to be grown up, wearable styles that were meant a real, albeit casual, lifestyle: Things you would actually make more than once, things you would wear.

Erin:  I really liked the wide straps and square neckline of the trapeze sundress, but I didn’t think I would wear it as a dress.  So I cut 12” off of the bottom and made a blouse.  And I adore it!  It’s sure to be a summer staple for me.   I like that this, and other patterns, can be changed or adjusted to make them entirely different.  Was that intentional on your part or just a happy accident?

Trapeze blouse 006_1_1

Heather:  Completely on purpose! I love this dress too. I wanted to design a sun dress that felt right in the city, where summer is oh so sweaty and miserable. I needed it to cover as little as possible while hiding a bra strap. I think the possibilities for this style are endless. You could make it ankle length and add a really wide belt (If thats your plan, move the pockets down at least six inches) or add tiers of ruffles from the chest down. I also had a second motive: I wanted to show everybody how easy adding pockets can be!

I should point out that for those of us who are more curvy, moving those pleats into the center of the blouse will slim down the silhouette and create a less dramatic “trapeze shape”.

You look so cute in it!

Erin:  Thank you!

There are so many patterns for different bags out there, but I really like the shape and size of the everyday tote.    I love that it can fold up nice and flat, but still has good style.  Even though I sewed my handles wrong (oops!), the fact that they are folded and then open flat makes them incredibly comfortable.  Where did you come up with that idea?

Everyday tote

Everyday tote inside  

Heather:  I should say here that I believe that there is a typo in this pattern: I think it should call for 1 yard of each fabric, not 1/2 yard. My apologies.

This bag is my personal Farmers Market bag. I wanted one that would hold everything from fresh eggs to big bags of apples and berries while still allowing for a huge bouquet of flowers to ride on top. And yes, I love how it stuffs into nothingness too, and I can toss it n the washer. I really love how yours looks with thinner straps. I like wide comfy straps because I always put too much weight in my bags, but its nice to see that it works both ways. I love what you did with the pocket, using just a little bit of the horses over the floral lining. The pockets are so key. I am forever losing my phone and my keys inside every bag, so can’t ever skip this step.

Erin:  The pocket is key for me, too!  I also purposely chose the horse fabric because I knew I would be able to spot that dark green easily against the white lining.  So far, it's working great.

I made the yard sale wrap skirt in an afternoon.  I remember having a skirt similar to this when I was a child.  It was one of the most comfortable things I owned.  My new one is no different.  I think you have a knack for designing practical yet stylish clothing.

Yard sale skirt 003a_1_1

Heather:  This skirt is based on a wonderful old wrap skirt that wandered around in my family for about twenty years. The wrap skirt, made from printed indian cotton, was such an ubiquitous style in the 70’s, remember? I have extremely fond memories of someone, maybe an aunt, holding hers up poolside around my cousin as she changed into her swimsuit, like a little changing room. I updated the hemline because I can’t stand that “thick calf” length, but otherwise its pretty true to form. This is, without a doubt, the most wearable style in the book. Its also the most versatile, because you can make it as big or as full as you want by adding more panels. I worked for a long time on the shape of the panels, I wanted them to create just the right amount of drape so that it would be flat against the tummy and hips and then melt into a big swoopy hem. It’s tough to do this without making something that looks like a poodle skirt, but I am happy to say that i think I nailed it here. I would also suggest adding a piece of interfacing to the center front waistband, the result will be a nipped-in waist and flat tummy. I’m getting reports that people are having to add an additional panel to this style in order for it to fully cover their backsides. Sorry, ladies!

Yard sale skirt 001_1_1

Erin:  I was happy I had some extra fabric on hand because I did add an extra panel to my skirt, too.  People might want to remember that if they are purchasing fabric for this skirt.

After the success with the wrap skirt, I went ahead and made the all weekend sundress.  I didn’t have high hopes for it – I just wasn’t sure how if it would flatter me or not.  Guess what?  I like it.  I still need to add the spaghetti straps, but otherwise it’s ready to wear.  I can see myself throwing this over a swim suit as a glamorous cover-up.  I had forgotten how much fun elastic thread is, too.  So cool!  A good number of projects in Weekend Sewing use elastic thread.  Why do you like it so much?

March 17 005_1_1

Heather:  I did use it a lot, didn’t I!

The kimono dress and all weekend sundress are great examples of why I did this. By using stretchy rows of elastic thread to join the bodice and skirt on both of these styles, I brought in the waist with lovely even gathers so that it would fit the wearer perfectly without requiring a zipper or other closure. I wanted this stuff to fit, and elastic gathers really make that possible! Also, I really wanted everyone to see how easy it is to sew with elastic thread, and how it can be employed to make very cool looking, great fitting garments without a lot of work.

Your rows of elasticized stitching look so even and perfect!!!

March 17 011_1_1

Erin:  Thanks - I am really proud of how that dress came together.  Next up for me:  the town bag.  First I need to find the right piece of leather and then work up the courage to actually sew with it.  I think that if my success with these other projects is any indication, it’ll be a breeze.

Heather:  Looking forward to seeing it! And if you can’t find leather, try using a really heavy velvet for the town bag. Really unexpected, but really amazing.

Erin:  That’s a great idea – I can just see it in a soft pastel color.  Once again, you’ve got my mind spinning.

Thanks so much, Heather.

. . . . .

OK - that was so much fun.  Heather and the nice folks at STC Craft are giving away a copy of Weekend Sewing to one lucky reader.  Comment on this post before 12:00 noon EST, Wednesday, March 18th for a chance.  Also, don't forget about the design challenge Heather is having on her blog.

Now I am going to clean up my mess and then take a nap.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!



First time I have seen all the things made out of this book and they look great. I have got to have that wrap skirt, that certainly brings back memories. Would love to win a copy of this book. Thanks for hosting this.


These projects all came out so beautifully. I've really been in the mood to make most of my spring and summer wardrobe and this seems like the perfect book to guide me.
This was an awesome post - congrats on the lovely work!
count me in on the drawing :)


I knew you were busy, as you weren't posting very often. I adore your blog and had a great time a while back on a snow day with coffee reading old posts. I haven't bought the book yet, but if I don't win the give-away, I'll have to! Great tips on the sewing and thank you for sharing!

Sarah Jackson

That whole thing was so full of awesome, Erin! Thanks to both you and Heather.

I have the book and have to go get my roll of paper to start tracing away! Yay! Summer is rolling around here already and I need some new things to wear.


I want it. I need it. I need it now! Fun post, Erin and Heather.


Great interview! I love all the projects you made from her book - they all look so great! I think I need either the trapeze dress, or the tank top version (or maybe both!)

rachel | buttons magee

What a great interview! You make me want to make some clothes for myself Erin!


OH, my. Even better and more amazing than I'd hoped. Now I *really* have to buy this book. Thanks to both of you!

xox, K


whoa, erin. great interview. fun projects. i'm so very inspired!!


Wonderful interview, Erin! I didn't even know this book was out until I read about it here. I've been drooling over a Lilly Pulitzer dress for a while now, and I think the summer blouse pattern just might do the trick - I was so happy that Heather mentioned the connection. I think there are quite a few things in this book that I'd like to try. I'm off to order the book NOW!!


It's very inspiring to know these patterns were created with the thought of moving a novice sewer (like myself) into the next non-intimidating level, and STILL be able to finish it in the same season (maybe even the same week!) that I start it! ~H


wow, that's inspiring. I'm such a beginner and getting clothing to fit me is not something I've done a very good job of so far since I'm always in between different pattern sizes.


Thanks for this great interview and inspiring sewing ideas! Such simple projects and so useful. Cheers~

Lisa Q

wow. you did a great job on all the projects. I love how you took the patterns and made them your own. Thanks for the chance to win this great book and thanks for all the inspiration you share!


Erin, your interview made me want to skip work and go buy the book. Now I HAVE to have it. Thank You.


This book has not come out in the UK yet. I think Amazon are shipping it 27th March. I've been counting the days for ages. It's really encouraging what a lot of projects you've managed to make so successfully and what a lot of brilliant extra tips Heather gave out in your interview with her. I'm sure I'll come back to this post again and again to remind myself. Thanks for posting all your inspiring work.


Thanks Erin for the wonderful interview with Heather Ross. I love all of your projects, especially the trapeze shirt. If I don't win this book, I will certainly purchase it.


Wow! You have been a very productive gal! I love all your projects. I'm actually going to see Heather this weekend at a book signing. Your interview with her made me even more excited for it!


Oooh, I would really like to make that skirt! It looks like you did a great job (as usual) on all the items. Please enter me in the drawing.


Erin, I love your blog! I've been reading it for a few months now. You are so inspiring. Thanks for posting all of these wonderful projects and then giving us a chance to win the book! Now, that's a good deal. :)


Wow, everything you've done is fantastic! I love the summer dresses, tank, and pj pants. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!


great interview! your new wardrobe looks great!


"I knew from the very beginning that I wanted Weekend Sewing to be the book that propelled sewers from the “straight lines” stage of tote bags and pillow covers to actual garments."

I think I need this book. Count me in on the drawing.


wow! great interview. i really enjoyed seeing your projects and am thinking i might need to buy this book after all. (or win it?!) :)

melissa f.

dang, girl. nice work.


Like Bernadette just said, I can't wait for it to be out here in the UK. I'm counting the days! Great to get a preview of some of the things all sewn up first. Thanks!

Lisa Clarke

I already have the book, so no need to include me in the drawing. I just wanted to thank you for the interview - it's always nice to read a little more about what a designer was thinking when she came up with certain patterns. I love the pajama shorts you made. I think those pants may be next on my list.


Well done!

I am absolutely one who is intimidated at fewing garments. I might just have to get the book now.

Also, Heather's comment about the velvet bag has me dreaming.


typo above. oops.


Yeah for selfish sewing! These projects turned out fantastic Erin! Too much fun! Thanks for such a great post.


I finally took a beginner sewing class a couple of weeks ago to help me get over the fear of breaking in my new machine that has been sitting in it's box since last Christmas (yes, that's xmas 2007) and I'm suddenly wanting to sew everything I see. How is Weekend Sewing for beginners?

Great interview Erin!


Erin, everything you made turned out so lovely! Great job! This interview was very helpful. I found myself taking notes. Thank you!

Heather - DollarStoreCrafts.com

What a cool interview! Thanks for sharing!


the wrap skirt is on my list for sure! if i'm not the lucky winner, i'm hitting the book store! beautiful work erin!


Fun interview - thanks so much for sharing!


Thanks for posting this. It is fabulous! I always wonder if I should buy a book with the patterns included but I never know how they will turn out. I guess I am afraid to commit to it (the book, the fabric,the time). This was great!


All of your projects look great! I really need to make a wrap skirt one of these days.


wow...beautiful work! I need to get this book!


What a fun interview! thanks for letting us in on your chat.
The projects from this book look really fun to make, I would love to win this giveaway.


this book is next on my must buy list. but maybe i'll just win it instead!
thanks for the interview.


wow, you've been busy! everything looks great. plus, hm, I'm interested in that book now...


Great projects - all of them - I love how they turned out! You must have been very busy. And yes please I'd love a copy of the book. It's just what I need ... projects must be done in one weekend otherwise they'll end up in the unfinished projects basket ... and who knows when (or sometimes if) they'll reappear from there. Thanks for this lovely blog.


Everything turned out amazing Erin, and what a treat to find out more about the inspiration behind the design. Looks like a great way to start spring with a fresh new wardrobe.

This book is going onto my wish list immediately.


What a fun interview and what lovely things you've made. I'm determined to conquer my fear of my sewing machine -- your blog is so helpful! -- and so I'd love to win a copy of the book!

Kelly in Canada

i love the look of that bag and the weekend blouse...i think i could live in it. i would so love to win that book.


Love that trapeze top and wrap skirt. Makes me want to start sewing!


sold! I'd pre-ordered my copy (in the UK) before I even reached the end of your post.


I have read your blog for quite awhile now and really enjoy it. Your projects all look wonderful!


Love it, so much! Summer blouse - finished, wrap skirt - next up. I hope I don't need an extra panel though...

Erin Hibshman

Great interview! Great sewing too - what an energizing springtime show and share! I especially like the skirt and the totebag - well done!

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