My Sew-Sew Life/Living On the Selvages

Starting at the Very Beginning

One of my favorite projects in all my years of teaching K-12 Art was a “Design a Kimono” unit that I developed for my 5th graders. Among the reference materials that I put together were vintage kimono fabric pieces that I found on eBay. It was important to me that my students could see and feel silk fabrics first hand.

After I retired, the samples got stashed with my fabric collection (comes with the territory if you sew or knit). But it was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to do something with them.

Going a tad dressy with blush cork wedges and a vintage Rodo bag. This might be something I could wear to a symphony when we ever get to go back.

Three years ago, I also bought three yards of Raw Silk also known as Silk Noil from Dharma Trading Company, a fiber art supply company that has been around since 1969. Finally, last July, I came up with the idea of combining my silk noil with one of my samples.

Patterns & Fabric Decisions


Having vintage kimono material, I was leaning toward a looser type style that looked Asian inspired. The problem was that I only had about 1/3rd yard of light green vintage kimono silk with stylized flowers, creating a focal point but not much else.

Once retired, I started collecting silk scraps here and there. I found this photo on my phone from last summer when I was still in my planning stage. My green fabric has the big red arrow pointing to it. This isn’t the first time I’ve used vintage kimono scraps. About two years ago, CLICK HERE –> I published a post about a refashion that I did of an old cropped J Jill jacket, in which I added multiple vintage kimono prints to. 

Two patterns from my stash worked with my idea: Simplicity S0300 for the pants and Vogue 1437 for the top.

Simplicity S0300 was discontinued when I discovered it a couple of years ago. Luckily, I found it on eBay. It’s in one of their AmazingFit patterns and comes in two leg widths. Another important feature is that it has versions for different body types.  I’ve made pants for both my daughter and I from it. I really like this pattern. You can still find a copy of it here and there on ETSY.

Daughter Rachelle at her last summer in her Simplicity S0300 pants. She loves the pockets!

Vogue 1437 is a Ralph Rucci three piece suit pattern. Unfortunately, if seems that Vogue has dropped all Ralph Rucci patterns from it’s collection. That’s so sad. But, of course, for a price you can find it on ETSY.

Making the Patterns Fit

The first change that I made to the top pattern was to add bust darts. This is something I do  because I find that woven tops look much better on me when I have darts. Pattern companies, for the most part, stopped putting darts in their patterns years ago, so it’s a pattern drafting skill I’ve learn.

I didn’t make any major changes the pants pattern. I picked the version for my body shape and made a muslin (practice copy) to work out any fit problems.

Where To Put the Silk?

The top pattern design already had a back yoke, making it perfect for my vintage silk. I then cut a matching front yoke. I could put one of the flower designs on one side went with a solid green background on the other; saving the second cluster for the back yoke.

I divided the back yolk into three sections in order to center the second flower cluster pattern. It was that or not use it at all.

A close up of the back flower cluster and textured silk

New Techniques

Using selvages in My Sewing

IMG_1408 My first technique inspiration came from an article in the now deceased Vogue Pattern Magazine. In “Selvage Smarts”, Linda Turner Griepentrog discussed the history and possibilities of using selvages in sewing. My raw silk had a wonderful fringed selvage and I decided to incorporated it along the edges. Carefully cutting the selvages off and sewing them in the seams was time consuming. But it was fun and I love the special look it gives my top, especially how it acts as a frame around the flowers on the back yoke.

A good photo of the exact colors in the silk

Using Nylon Tricot For Seam Bindings

The second new technique that I used was one that I saw on a Threads video. Daryl Lancaster demonstrates how to apply a lightweight and bulk-free seam finish, using bias-cut nylon tricot binding in 15-denier. I usually use French seams (and did on some in places on the top), but for some parts of my top I wanted a much thinner seam finish but one that was encased.

Binding some seams with nylon tricot and using self bias around the armholes

The right weight of tricot was a bit hard to locate, but I found it at Uptown Fabric on ETSY. I bought some in white and ivory,  I’ve not bought anything else from Uptown Fabric but they have a good rating and I need to get back there and seriously look around.

There might be one problem with tricot, however. I think it would melt at higher iron temperatures, so I don’t know it I would use this technique on a 100% cotton or linen fabric. Knowing me, I would probably do a little damage

Finishing It Up

Making the Ties Special

Wanting to use as much of my silk as possible so there would be none wasted, I made the end of my ties silk just one of those little elegance touch.

A close up of the tie with its silk ends and the fringed selvage that I cut and inserted as a decorative feature

There were also ties on the inside but they were just left alone

Inside ties with an interior French seam. French seams are my usual go to. They make the inside of a garment so finished and neat
Under It All

I thought the raw silk was a bit on the thinner side for pants but at the same time, I wanted them to be summer friendly. I decided to line them just to a boxer short length. I just used some 100% cotton from the stash. This has worked out great. They have been comfy in warmer weather but I haven’t had to worry about seeing lines or anything underneath.

Boxer short length cotton lining

Last Thoughts

Honestly, I didn’t know what to think last summer when I looked myself in the mirror with these two pieces on. When you create something there is always that question of it turning out as great as that vision in you mind’s eye.

Yes, I love the pockets too! I can pair the pants with a dark green silk tunic that I’ve had since 1995. This is the first time that I’ve tied it in the front and left it hanging in the back.

My creation isn’t trendy, colorful and certainly not a showstopper. I was having a difficult time putting it in a category (but is that even necessary, I wonder). Was it, leisure, dressy or casual? Could I wear it to my favorite wine bar? Did I even like the total look? My daughter Michelle took one look and loved it and told me I was crazy for even having doubts so I decided to sit on it for a few months.

The whole idea of what I did fits with my basic fashion philosophy: up-cycle and refashion when I can and try to have the least waste (there were only a few scraps left of each fabric when I was finished) when I make something.

Today, I like it. It fits my current lifestyle. It has a very calming spirit about it and after this Covid-19 mess is behind us, I can’t wait to wear it and put it on Instagram; “my slightly inspired Asian up-cycled creation”.

That wraps up today’s post. If you don’t sew, thanks for bearing with me. Sewing and knitting are just a big part about who I am and I have to post about them once in a while. But for now, here’s some more photos from last summer of me wearing my pants and silk top out and about.

Outside The Wine Journal. These were hot days and my silk pants were very comfortable. This time I Paired a straw tote and some thrifted wedges to go out (and longer darker hair).
I’ve worn these pants a lot because I love their fit! Here, last summer,  at another art show and going for the orange with my Anthony Luciano bag.
One last view of the two pieces together along with straw wedges and a vintage straw Rodo bag. Looking at this last photo, I’m thinking this outfit just might have a ’40’s pajama vibe going on. What do you think?

Has this post made you interested in trying your hand with needle and thread? If so, you need to check out my People To Read & Places To Go page. I have, among other things, links to forty independent pattern companies. Their designs have skill levels to absolute beginner to intermediate. And I like the idea of supporting individual makers.

Take care everyone and stay safe




When I’m not incorporating vintage kimono silk pieces into new creations, I like wearing the real things. I use Hoaris as jackets and kimonos for leisure.




31 thoughts on “My Sew-Sew Life/Living On the Selvages

  1. I do love how you added in the silk Terri. You have such a great way to use what you have and make it look great.
    Sometimes when I finish a knitting project, I don’t like it at first. I think we get too involved in it?? Or something. But usually if I let it be for awhile and then go back to it, I like it better!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Brigid, I’m so happy you liked my post. I’ll always write them because I just like to make my own clothes and more so now than ever. I also love taking process photographs so folks can see what’s it takes to construct a garment.

      I just got some new plants and as soon as all our rain stops will be back out in the garden planting.

      Take care and stay safe, Terri

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Kim, great to hear from you. I first made the lining down to my knees and walked around a bit and knew it was a no go. That’s when I decided all I needed was interior boxer shorts-wasted a bit of lining but now I know.

      A little tricot goes a long way. I probably bought enough to last a lifetime. Those pants and that green top were my uniform during August last year-I was constantly wearing them together.

      As soon as I finish up here, I’m going to run over and take a look at your red jacket.
      Take care and stay safe. Terri


    2. Love reading your accomplishments, I found a Rodo clutch at the thrift shop, was doing some search and came upon your posts, I was sewing myself from a teenager back in 🇯🇲 Jamaica, not doing much now, I am retired so I am doing some Poshmark to supplement my living expenses, I have my sewing machines also a serger. Sewing is fun and it’s a pleasure to see your finished items. Love yours 💕


    1. Thank you for stopping by. I’m happy that you thought it was a good read. When I do one of these posts (and I will always be doing one of these once in a while), I always wonder if readers, in general, will find them interesting-even if they don’t sew.
      It is a passion of mine and we do best when we go with our passions, if guess. Well, again, thanks for stopping by and take care. I appreciate it. Terri


      1. That is what makes it interesting: you have a talent that I don’t so it is really neat to hear the thought process and to see the results.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. These are such fabulous pieces Terri!
    I am in awe of you ladies who can sew so well, that is a talent! I love how you used the silk on the back of the top, that’s a one of a kind.! What a cool teacher to have the kids make a kimono, I would have loved that in school! 🙂
    thanks for linking!
    jess xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. June Stylish Monday is on Kimonos. Unfortunately, I can’t participate as a host because I don’t own a kimono. However, I think you should join that party an link up this post. It would be a great contribution and this post is so great it would deserve a large distribution.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Terri, this is a brilliant creation! I love the loose fitting pants. And the new top with the kimono print is so gorgeous. I also am really loving your daughter’s black and white print pants. I always wished that I had learned how to sew so I could make all of these creative things. I get so many ideas in my head but can’t do anything with them. Thanks for sharing your creativity with us and linking up.


    Liked by 1 person

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