An Ode to Stripes

Copy of february (5)

#SewStripes starts today! This February, we’re challenging you to sew something with stripes, and tag us on Instagram with @sewcialists #SewStripes! We’ll include your make in our roundups for the month, plus we’ll have a bunch of projects here on the blog. We hope you enjoy!

I love a good stripe. They are the perfect neutral, and I love how they look with solids, florals, or just on their own! I’ve sewn an awful lot of knit stripes over the last 6 years (although I’m not sure I’ve *ever* sewn a striped woven) so I thought I’d take you through some of my favourite ways to use stripes before I show you my newest #sewstripes project!

embellished stripes

If you want to get started mixing prints, stripes are the way. From left to right, I did a colour-blocked striped chevron on the back of this otherwise floral tank; layered some cotton lace over the neckline of a raglan; appliqued a floral motif on the shoulder of a dress; and used striped jersey to add some fun to a plain green hoodie!


An easy way to start playing with directionality is to use a pattern piece that is flared, like a 1/2 circle skirt, a-line dress or swingy top. From left to right, I like how the skirt formed chevrons on this Turner dress, and you can just see that I sneakily used the stripe vertically on the back bodice because I was low on fabric; these patch pockets become a fun shaped when draped; this wide Ebony top lets the stripes curve gently around the body; and a draped cardigan also lets the stripes line up in interesting ways!


Read for a bolder play on directionality? From left to right, this Myrtle cowl neck drapes nicely in a stripe, and I turned the side seams to centre front/back for a slight chevron effect; this take on a draped top is ruched up one side, so the stripes shift from horizontal to diagonal; I cut the bodice and skirt on opposite bias directions, and I love how it adds movement to the pattern; and finally, why not turn your stripe on end, and use it vertically?

basic horizontal

As fun as it is to play with stripes direction and print mixing, I also love a basic pattern in a horizontal stripe. From left to right, this cropped jacket always feel chic; a Breton stripe always feel nautical and cute; if you don’t like harsh stripes, maybe a more organic version like these watercolour stripes will be more your style; and behold, probably the most worn tee in my closet!

Now, there is a lot of crap about stripes being unflattering, and making people look wider… personally, I think that is silly! People look good in clothes they love, and my body is the same shape no matter what I put on it. If that myth has stopped you from sewing stripes before, I hope you give them a chance!

Because friends, I have made this:

#SewStripes Nettie Dress

Horizontal stripes. Mostly light-coloured. Slim-fitting… and I feel completely awesome in it! I wanted to play with the rules of what is “flattering” and show you that even on a 5’2″ size 20 frame, stripes are great!

#SewStripes Nettie Dress

This is a Closet Case Patterns Nettie dress, which I first sewed back in 2014. Happily, they’ve expanded the size range since then, and the new size 20 fit my measurements perfectly… except I wanted a dress I could wear to work, so I added a few extra inches to the hips for sitting ease! I also narrowed the shoulders a bit for more a tank-top style, and lengthened the skirt.

#SewStripes Nettie Dress

Appropriately for the Sewcialists, this dress is a tribute to friends:

What can I say? Hang out in the sewing blogosphere long enough and soon you’ll know everyone! And when everyone is so kind, it’s easy to take fashion risks and feel confident. Here’s to wearing clothes you love, in a fabric you love, at any age or style!

#SewStripes Nettie Dress

Are you going to be sewing any stripes this February? If you are still looking for inspiration, perhaps my long-running Pinterest board “Playing With Stripes” will help!

13 thoughts on “An Ode to Stripes

  1. I love all the different ways you’ve shown stripes in action! I’d never thought about all the different ways there are to play with stripes before – my head is now buzzing with ideas!

    1. I had a lot of fun pulling my thoughts and examples together! i knew I’d sewn a lot of stripes, but oh boy, there are even more than I showed here!!!!

  2. You’ve been SOLELY responsible for spurring me to wear stripes for the first time in my life. I am not exaggerating. Whenever I’d see you in a striped top/dress, I’d think, “WOW! How nice those stripes look!” So gradually I started buying more striped fabric and have come to LOVE them too 🙂 So thank you Gillian, you’ve opened up my garment world in a whole new direction that I’ve been really enjoying because you’re so right, creatively moving those stripes – cutting on the bias, straight up and down, sideways can give a garment such zing.

    1. I”m so flattered! I’m glad you are enjoying wearing stripes now! I find the options stripes offer so inspiring!

  3. Wow, so many stripes and such lovely garments. I love how you change everything up so much by fabric direction. I am really looking forward to making something for this Theme Month and am finding them really inspiring. Xx

    1. Yay! I can’t wait to see what you come up with! I thought about so many complicated projects for this post, but I’m really happy I went with something simple and fun to make!

  4. I’ve never worn stripes either! We were told they made you look fat! Especially horizontal stripes! Gillian you look FANTASTIC! The horizontal stripes are so flattering on you! You have just blown my mind with how great you look! I CAN wear stripes! They lied to us!! woo-hoo! No stripe makes this month for me. But soon! I am making some stripe Tees for my 14 yr old son though. :o)

    1. WOOHOO! Stripes for everyone! I always have more of a spring in my step when i wear stripes, and for me that’s the whole point of clothes! (Well, and the not being naked/freezing thing! 😉 I hope you give stripes a go sometime yourself!

  5. Wow so many wonderful stripes!! I love all the different ways you’ve used them. I’m hoping to get some nice jersey stripes to make a tshirt dress this month but the one I ordered online was printed off grain & poor quality so hopefully I’ll have more luck in the local fabric shops. I’m loving all the inspiration on instagram with the hashtag!

  6. Ack! And here’s me sewing my stripes last week, just before February!!! 😂

    You look great, and I agree the horizontal stripes thing is bunk. Love the Nettie dress!

  7. Gillian your statement is so spot on – “people look good in clothes they love”. Yes, yes and yes. Who cares if you break whatever silly fashion rules there are, as long as you love it and you wear it, the confidence will shine through! Kate x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s