Sew Over/Under: Patterns and Pillowcases

Hello fellow Sewcialists, I’m Nandita and I have a story to tell… It’s a tale of thrifting and pattern mashups.

When I first saw the Sewcialists’ August 2019 theme, I immediately thought,”nah, I’m not going to sew undergarments or coats, I’ll stick to what I’m comfortable making: dresses.” A few days go by and I keep seeing posts about the theme. I see fellow sewcialists pledging to make all these garments that will not only add to their wardrobes, but to their sewing growth as well. Is it a sign? A gentle nudge that I should reconsider? This time, instead of glossing over the graphics, I really stop and read the post, a light bulb goes OFF! I leap into action (ok, I got off my sofa, more like it), race to my closet (a slow walk if I’m being honest), and take an unbiased look at my wardrobe. What I see is a lovely collection of carefully made bright and textured dresses. Sure, there are a few pairs of RTW pants, denim jackets, and three pairs of leggings (I purged my closet last year and this is what I have left) but what I don’t see are separates. That was the moment I knew I needed to make a jacket so I could get more out of my existing wardrobe.

Nandita in a her pattern mashup and pillowcase cropped jacket. She is standing on a bridge in salmon colored pants, navy sequined tank top, with blue and light blue diamond patterned crop jacket with pleated sleeves
Nandita in a her pattern mashup and pillowcase cropped jacket. She is standing on a bridge in salmon colored pants, navy sequined tank top, with blue and light blue diamond patterned crop jacket with pleated sleeves

The first step was figuring out what material and type of jacket I was going to sew. And another light bulb goes off: why not up the challenge with my own take? I challenged myself to use two pillowcases I had recently found at a local thrift store. The pillowcases were a lower thread count poly/cotton and had enough structure that lining was not necessary. I used one pillowcase for the body and facings. The second was for the raglan sleeves. Both cuffs of the pillowcases were just enough for the lower pleated sleeves.

Two blue and white diamond patterned pillowcases taped on a closet door
Two blue and white diamond patterned pillowcases taped on a closet door

Next, I went through my pattern stash to decide what type of jacket I wanted to create. I love a crop jacket because, living in Florida, I don’t really have a need for thick coats and jackets. However, I can use a light jacket indoors or over sleeveless clothes when I am at my workplace. My love of pleats and sleeve treatments kept bringing me back to one of TNT patterns, McCalls 7542, and for the body of the jacket, I used Simplicity 3799.

Two gray arrows overlaid on a photo of the pattern envelopes, with one pointing to Simplicity 3799  view E, short raglan sleeved crop jacket and the other to view C pleated lower sleeve on McCall's 7542
Two gray arrows pointing to Simplicity 3799 view E, short raglan sleeved crop jacket and view C pleated lower sleeve on McCall’s 7542

So, with the fabric and patterns finalized I got into the thick of disassembling, pattern tracing and making sure everything would fit with the two pillowcases. I often trace my patterns on medical exam paper to avoid overuse for my OOP and TNT patterns. I shortened the raglan sleeve by two inches.

Traced pattern pieces on disassembled pillowcases
Traced pattern pieces on disassembled pillowcases

Once I had confirmed everything was going to fit, I got to sewing. Both patterns are beginner friendly and if anything took time, it was making sure I pressed and basted my pleats for the lower sleeves. I make it a point to press and baste everything. Although pressing and basting can add time to your project, I feel the extra steps go a long way in creating a well constructed garment. I also employ lots and lots of clips to hold my pleats. It may be overkill, but I’ve found that when I go through these steps I avoid stress, abundant profanities (there are a healthy dose of these regardless, but that’s part my sewing style), and excessive seam ripping.

Pressed pleats all held together by clips
Pressed pleats all held together by clips
Red arrows pointing on lower sleeve pleats with several rows of long basting stitches at top, bottom, and in between rows of pleats
Red arrows pointing on lower sleeve pleats with several rows of long basting stitches at top, bottom, and in between rows of pleats

With the body and the sleeve treatment prepped and sewn, it was time to put the jacket together and add any final touches. I enjoy prints and patterns as well as playing with textures. To give my jacket a little additional flair I added some navy mirrored trim to the hem. I had the trim leftover from a previous make. It always makes me happy when I use every little bit of my supplies/fabrics/trims.

Scraps left from cutting out all the pattern pieces for the cropped jacket
Scraps left from cutting out all the pattern pieces for the cropped jacket

I am quite pleased with my pillowcase cropped jacket and I am especially pleased with how participating in Sew Over/Under has opened my eyes to separates. I enjoy these themes because they motivate me to try things and styles that I may have overlooked before, or told myself I wasn’t skilled enough to accomplish. I’m already looking forward to future themes.

Nandita is standing on the bridge with a navy diamond patterned crop jacket with mirrored trim. She is smiling
Nandita is standing on the bridge with a navy diamond patterned crop jacket with mirrored trim. She is smiling.

Nandita lives to sew. She creates one of a kind garments using a variety of patterns and prints. Her go to style is bright and bold colors. When she is not sewing, she enjoys reading, traveling, and reality tv. You can find Nandita on Instagram @divinedita where she loves to post all her makes and occasional book reviews.


Dear Reader: Our goal is to build community and make everyone feel welcome. We support crafting as an inclusive and welcoming space for people of all ages, abilities, ethnicities, genders, orientations and sizes. Regarding sewing challenge themes, we ask that you take each challenge as you see it fitting in your life, and express your involvement how you like, at the given time. Our challenges are for the pure enjoyment of participation and the love of community. Extended Mission Page Here.