true bias rio ringer dress side

The Kind-of LBD: True Bias Rio Ringer Dress Review

The True Bias Rio Ringer pattern came across my Instagram feed at exactly the right moment. I’d been living in leggings ridden with holes (that I just can’t bring myself to throw away because they’re SO SOFT), T-shirts, and zip-up hoodies. Not that there’s anything wrong with dressing like that—I think we’re all allowed to dress however we want right now. But I’ve also found that putting in even the minimal amount of effort can really boost my mood and make me stand a little taller at my “alternative” standing desk… made of board games and cookbooks.

standing desk
how meta, a photo of me writing this very blog

I definitely feel a little better throughout the day if I put on at least one item of for-public-consumption clothing. Bonus points if this piece of clothing is super comfortable and fits into the #secretpajamas category.

true bias rio ringer dress front

true bias rio ringer dress

true bias rio ringer dress back

true bias rio ringer dress close

I’m thrilled to say that the Rio Ringer Dress meets all of the aforementioned criteria! It’s the first pattern in a long while that I’ve finished sewing within two days of buying the PDF pattern and printing it out. A serger definitely speeds up the process here, but this would be a relatively quick sew on a regular sewing machine, too.

Rio Ringer Dress – The Details

  • Pattern: Rio Ringer T-Shirt & Dress by True Bias, which comes in two sizing ranges (0-18 and 14-30)
  • Fabric: Jersey knit from Oak Fabrics for the body and sleeves (95% cotton, 5% spandex), Merchant and Mills ribbing from Oak Fabrics for the binding (it’s expensive but you only need 1/4 yard!)
  • Size: 8 (my measurements are 36-29-39; 6’0″ with a long torso)
  • Alterations: Added 3/4″ at the lengthen line (waist) and 3/4″ to the hem
  • Construction: I used my serger for everything except the binding and hem. I followed Kelli’s sewalong on her Instagram stories, and she’s also hosting one on her blog. (Sidenote: Is there a way to pause Instagram stories? I had to keep tapping back to replay the instructions since I wasn’t keeping up with her steps in real time). She instructs you to attach the binding in the flat instead of the round, a method that I’ve only tried once before and LOVE here. The bands lie perfectly flat. It’s a little fiddly topstitching/attaching layers of binding to the sleeve, but just go slow and use lots of pins. Mine’s not perfect, but black thread, binding and fabric hide a lot!

The Verdict

I could use a little more room at the shoulders since mine are very broad, but I love how this turned out! I may add an extra inch to the hem if I make this again to have a more work-appropriate summer dress. I think I shaved more than 3/8″ off the seam allowance when I was serging the sleeves, so those are a tad tight, too, but not enough to bother me.

mask and rio ringer dress
When your mask matches your shoes

Part of me wanted to make a dress with contrasting binding, like most of the samples True Bias showed, but I thought my first stab at this pattern should be a little more versatile. This kind of qualifies as a Little Black Dress, right?

Have you been inspired to sew lately? Like many of you I’m sure, I’ve made a stack of masks, so it’s definitely nice to take a break and make a garment. Just-for-fun sewing stress relief is a real thing!


MN dawn jeans straight leg

I Made Jeans Again! Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans Review

I am proud to share my latest contribution to the verrrrry Slow Fashion movement: Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans! Nearly six months after buying the fabric and notions, they’re finally done. Whew!

I put “Finish what you start” and “Finish MN Dawn Jeans” (for double whammy good measure) on my list of 2020 goals, giving myself the perfect amount of accountability without too much pressure. That’s definitely how I like my hobbies lately!

Insta post of MN dawn jeans

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen my slow, erratic progress on these jeans. Since I chose a close-to-black denim and mint green topstitching thread, there was a ton of topstitching and unpicking… a few times over. I wasn’t going for perfection, but I didn’t want any wonky stitches to be downright distracting. Nevertheless, it was a really satisfying piece! I referenced Megan Nielsen’s sewalong throughout construction.

Marc snapped a few photos on a very slow moving Sunday morning (a theme here!), so please excuse my grunginess.

MN dawn jeans straight leg


MN dawn jeans straight leg


I made a shorts-length muslin before cutting into my denim—thank god I did because I had a very uncomfortable wedgie that was super easy to fix by lengthening the rise. Full details below!

  • Pattern: Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans in view B (straight leg jean) with the tall full inseam (31.25″)
  • Fabric: Nonstretch denim from Oak Fabrics (I don’t think they have it in stock anymore!) and 100% cotton print from Mood for the pocket lining
  • My measurements: 6’0″ tall, 36″ x 29″ x 39″
  • Size: Cut between an 8 and 10 at the waist and hip, graded to an 8 from the thigh down
  • Alterations:
    • Took a 1″ wedge out of the yoke
    • Lengthened rise (crotch length) on front and back by 1″
    • Shortened pocket bag by 1″ after reading Lladybird’s review

MN dawn jeans back

MN dawn jeans back close

MN dawn jeans straight leg


MN dawn jeans straight leg with belt
Yay a belt actually fits through the loops!


The Verdict


While they did take for-ev-er, these jeans weren’t a crazy hard sew. I’d say that the stated 3/5 level of difficulty is accurate. This pattern is impeccably drafted and the directions are straightforward (especially if you follow the sewalong). I struggled with hand-sewing the buttonhole, because my zipper was really long and extended up into the waistband. I don’t think the directions called for this, but in retrospect I should have removed the extra teeth with pliers. Live and learn.

My one piece of advice is to MAKE A MUSLIN! If you’re going to sink hours and hours into sewing a pair of jeans, you might as well take the extra few hours to make sure they fit great.


These are the highest-waisted jeans I’ve ever worn! Despite it being a little trickier to bend over in these, they’re surprisingly comfortable. They’re a little snug since I’m not used to nonstretch jeans, but overall they felt great sitting through two meals.

I am debating going back and cropping them since the inseam is in this weird spot between cropped and regular length (shall we just call them floods for now?), but Marc insisted that the look great. I’m going to give them a few more wears and see! You can always chop, but you can’t add fabric back, so I’m hesitant. I thought cutting these at the tall full inseam and adding an extra inch at the crotch would be fine, but I wish they were a little longer.

Overall, I’m loving these jeans and will definitely be exploring some of the other views. I’ve been primarily wearing skinny jeans for the past several years, so this straight leg version feels ultra roomy and a little strange, but it’s a nice change of pace.

Now please enjoy these gratuitous photos of my dog, Cora, who made it almost impossible to take detail shots.

allie olson coram dress pattern review

Coram Dress in Rayon

Who knew a woven dress could be so comfortable?! My new Coram Dress, designed by Allie Olson, is a complete joy to wear. Of course, it helps when the design has ease for days, and when you sew it up in buttery-soft rayon.

coram top and dress line drawings

Per the pattern description, Coram is “a boxy woven top or dress with cuffed raglan sleeves and shoulder and bust darts for shaping.” I’ve never sewn a woven dress with raglan sleeves, so I was thrilled to give this pattern a spin to help celebrate #CoramWeek and the launch of the paper Coram pattern!

Let’s dive in.Read More »

true bias nikko dress side

Nikko Dress

Some of my handmade clothes are total workhorses. An Archer that I wear once a week in the winter. Jeans that replaced a worn-to-shreds pair of Levis. My go-to house sweats.

true bias nikko dress striped

true bias nikko dress

true bias nikko dress close

This dress is not a workhorse. I made Nikko as a birthday present to myself so I’d have something to wear to my annual house party. And I love it. Sometimes, you’ve gotta make a dress that makes you feel like a badass, even if you know it’ll spend more time in your closet than on your body.

Read More »

grainline studio tamarack front

Grainline Tamarack Jacket

When I first started blogging about my clothes (in 2013!), I’d try to get a post up pretty soon after I snipped the last thread. That often meant snapping ill-lit photos in a dirty mirror, using my phone’s timer to take poorly composed photos inside my apartment, or nicely asking Marc to snap a couple pics on the way to dinner. (The latter always yielded the best results.)

The point? I cared less about quality and more about showing my makes to the world as soon as humanly possible. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I blog about a sewing project within a month or two of finishing. Sure, I give sneak peeks on Instagram, but something (freezing Chicago weather, work, social life, laziness) usually gets in the way.Read More »

wedding guest outfits

My Handmade Wedding Guest Outfits, Ranked

One of my favorite things to make? A party dress. Even better when that party celebrates the nuptials of good friends or family! But for all the hours I’ve put into sewing wedding guest dresses over the past few years, I have a pitiful amount of photo evidence to show for it. I’m usually too busy passing out programs or introducing myself to extended family or warming up with some Robyn or—you know—generally enjoying the company of others to bother with photos.

I did manage to document, however poorly, at least one photo of each of the wedding guest outfits I’ve sewn—some of which I’ve worn multiple times! And because I like rankings and lists, I decided to rank them based on three criteria:

  1. Sewing Enjoyment. Was it a breeze, or did it nearly go in the garbage disposal?
  2. Comfort. Was it secret pajamas, or secret sandpaper?
  3. Confidence Level. Did it make me feel fierce, or fiercely boring?

Read More »