Details of Sew Chicago’s Runway Garments

We thought you might like to learn a bit more about the garments Sew Chicago members entered in this year’s ASG Chicago Chapter fashion show.

IMG_0476To start, here is Nancy, who, along with Wendy, wrangled the models, coordinated the submissions and described the garments for the show. Nancy is now co-leader of another neighborhood group, Sew Saturday, but she is a founding member of Sew Chicago.

In this picture, Nancy  is wearing an ensemble that is a little bit retro, a little bit romance.   Anyone who knows Nancy knows she loves working with cotton.  It’s comfortable, easy to sew and just as easy to care for.  Nancy chose two coordinating cotton prints for this dress and cape duo. Using the floral print as the main focus, Nancy added the coordinating dotted print to line the cape and also to make the bias binding on the armholes and neckline of the dress.

Nancy’s petticoat was found at an estate sale for $5 with tags still intact – circa 1950. Nancy thinks it adds some retro fun. With all that Nancy does, she hasn’t found an opportunity to wear this ensemble as we see it, but she is wondering how her husband would feel taking her out to dinner dressed like this! But these garments don’t have to wait for a special event. On their own, the dress and cape are suitable for many occasions.


Here is Susan getting ready for her entrance in a dress that is enjoying a second life. In its first incarnation, this was a casual dress in white cotton with an abstract black floral print. She liked it, but didn’t love it. On a whim, Susan asked Sarah Veblen to look at the dress and Sarah suggested using a black lace overlay to tone down the white. Susan found black lace, cut off and placed the scalloped edge around the neckline and hem, then added black silk in selected areas. These changes transformed a blah cotton dress into a sassy cocktail dress. Susan says, thank you, Sarah Veblen!

Susan has also been having tons of fun making fascinators. She is wearing one example of her many creations here. Susan has generously offered to teach a series of fascinator workshops at Soutache in 2016. Afternoon tea anyone?

Carolyn made her runway debut in a three-piece ensemble that looks all business but is made from patterns whose names make us smile.

Her lined navy Italian wool pencil skirt is made from the Naughty Secretary Skirt pattern. Her knit top pattern is called It’s a Wrap and her neck scarf cardigan is from a free pattern from Swoon Patterns.


Instead of hemming the edges and sleeves of the cardigan as the pattern instructed, Carolyn chose to give them a lettuce edge with wooly nylon and used a rolled hemstitch on her serger.  With this level of skill you would think Carolyn has been sewing all her life, but she’s only been at it a few years. Pretty impressive, isn’t she?

Nancy made another appearance on the runway in an ensemble she made for a casual evening event that was part of a recent recent high school reunion. For her knit top, Nancy chose McCalls 7021, a pattern she had made before, and “shopped” in her stash until she found this polyester print. The length of time the fabric was in that stash is classified, just like the year of her high school reunion. Nancy says knits sew up in a jiffy, which is a good thing because Nancy started sewing this outfit the day before the event.

The pants pattern Nancy used is the Helix Pant from The Sewing Workshop. Nancy uses this pattern in fit workshops she teaches with her business partner Evelyn.

Steph also made two trips down the runway. The first was in her Spoonflower creation, which she documented on her blog, 10 Sewing Machines & a Serger.

The second was in this stunning rendition of Vogue Pattern 1435 in pink wool from Britex.

You can read about Steph’s construction process here.

Linda’s Spoonflower entry was a tunic in navy combed cotton. The McCalls pattern (M6971) features a shaped hemline, side slits and pockets. Linda plans to modify the hem once the trend for this shaping runs its course.

Linda’s cropped pants are made from fabric she bought at Mood last spring during her ASG Sew Much Fun Tour of New York’s Garment District.

Susan, the instigator of the Spoonflower challenge, selected modern jersey in both navy and green for her casual career dress. Her pattern is McCalls 7092. The jersey is lightweight and east to sew and Susan thinks the green adds just the right amount of pop at the neckline and sleeves.

Liz H. used peach polyester knit for this two-piece ensemble. Liz drafted the skirt pattern based on a sketch she made of a skirt she saw someone wearing. She does that a lot. Her top, which is from Butterick pattern 4132, features a cowl neckline and flouncy butterfly sleeves.

Wendy’s Spoonflower entry didn’t get done in time for the show, but will be seen at this summer’s ASG Conference in Indianapolis. Wendy made one trip down the runway in a two-piece navy linen dress that she blogged about here and here.

Ever the over-achiever, Liz H. had four entries in the fashion show.

Here she is showing two different versions of a striped skirt made from a Cynthia Guffey pattern that is designed to work magic with striped fabric. Liz, who loves to work with stripes, was beside herself with joy when she saw how the pattern works. It has no side seams, just side darts and the stripes seem to change directions from front to back. The stripes on the front are mitered into a “V” while the stripes in the back form an inverted “V”.

Liz found another fun skirt design in Simplicity 2449.  This flirty, bouncy skirt is formed from 10 panels that are bustled on the inside with ribbons sewn to the seam allowance. The ribbons can be untied and the skirt can be worn without the bustle.

Liz also participated in another neighborhood group’s challenge to make kimono-inspired garments. She used a 1985 Simplicity pattern, #0017, which has mellowed nicely in her archives. Her fabrics are rayon batik and a cross-dyed cotton purchased at two different sewing expos.


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