Cabin Renovation: Henley Placket

One of my favorite things about designing patterns is the dialogue it creates between myself and sewists all over the world. I love hearing from you all!

One of my friends and former students got in touch recently about an idea she had for a pattern hack. She's made a few Cabins and loves them, but foresees some problems with functionality in her post pregnancy wardrobe: AKA needing better access for breastfeeding.

I'm a big fan of a henley shirt placket. I have quite a few in my wardrobe and while I don't need them for the aforementioned reason, I fully appreciate their functionality. So this pattern renovation is for everyone, but hopefully will be extra useful for new mamas.

I've created instructions and an extra pattern piece for this purpose!

Download the pattern hack instructions and pieces here!

First, a bit about my henley placket Cabin. I used a lovely silk I picked up at a discount fabric store I visited in Western Mass. You know, the kind with the bolts of fabric stacked to the ceiling on wooden shelves in a large industrial building, full of buried treasure to be discovered.

It was labeled as denim, but I suspected by the look and texture (and later confirmed with a burn test) that it was actually raw silk. The fabric itself has a wonderful drape but is quite dense. My seams proved extra bulky, so while I used the reverse of the fabric for a contrast placket and pockets, I opted for some quilting cotton to use for the neck and sleeve binding. I also finished the pockets with a serger, rather than creating the french seams that the pocket calls for.

I decided to use the selvedge of this fabric as a design detail, both on the placket and the hem of the dress.

Sometimes I like to wear a belt with Cabins for a more cinched waist, but a belt would get in the way with the placket alteration. I decided to add ribbon ties at the back waist. I had originally planned to make the ties from the silk fabric, but the bias tubes I made turned out too thick and stiff to use. Instead, I used 1/2" natural twill tape.  I still feel like a matching tie would look a bit better, but I'll sit on this one for a while before swapping it out. From the back, it kind of looks like I'm wearing a kitchen apron (not necessarily a bad thing). If you'd like to add ribbon or self fabric ties to your Cabin: Cut 2 ribbons/ties equal to your waist measurement (this is an might want shorter ties and can adjust as necessary). When sewing your side seams, sandwich the end of each ribbon between your front and back pieces at the waistline notches.

For the placket itself, I went back and forth between what kind of closure I would use. Buttons seemed too busy, so I decided to keep it low profile and sew on some large snaps. I love snaps and feel like they never get to shine. In this case, I used bright red thread so they would pop when visible. I also considered adding the kind of snaps that you hammer in. I love those and have quite a few in my stash. I'll be thinking about them for future projects.

I also decided to use the selvedge as a detail. The hack instructions don't describe how to do this, but all you have to do is skip folding under the long edge of the left side of the placket piece while sewing.

You can add buttons to the placket instead of snaps and I've given a template for each in the pattern. For buttons, it shows the placement of three and for snaps, it shows the placement for two. You can add more snaps as desired, but two seemed to do it for me.


As evidenced by the leaves, fall is most definitely in full swing. While I was able to take these pictures sweater-less in relatively minor discomfort (it was nice and sunny!) I definitely threw on a cardigan after pictures were done.

I hope you all enjoy this Cabin renovation and that it gives your pattern a little more mileage. If you ever have suggestions for pattern renovations, send them my way!

Cabin Renovation: Long Sleeve Cabin

It's time for another Cabin Renovation!

Click here to download the renovation plans!

You know something turned out well when you haven't stopped wearing it since it came off the ironing board. This dress has proven itself as that kind of make. I'd been sitting on the idea of a long sleeve, longer cabin for a while. I thought it would be a nice way to play with contrasting fabrics. I used a Robert Kaufman double cloth (I think they no longer make this, but it's very similar to a double gauze in feel and drape.) The coolest part is that I used the same fabric for the whole thing...the solid chambray is simply the back of the check. This allowed for a lot of fun mix and match, but the idea would also work great with two coordinating fabrics.

This was above all an experiment and a sort of wearable muslin. It definitely has its share of issues, most unnoticeable from afar (see the Three Foot Rule here). I was excited about this project and rushed a bit in the cutting stage, so while the face up check was aligned, the grain was just so slightly askew on the half of the piece that was face down. Not a huge deal, but the check is a little slanted where the hem band is attached.


But I love the way it turned out! I like the look of it belted as well as loose. The double cloth is very soft and incredible comfortable. I can already think of a few more of these I'd like to make in some Nani Iro double gauze I've been hoarding. I may omit the back pleat for the next one to get a more fitted silhouette.


I used the opposite side of the fabric for the neckline bias binding. To achieve this affect, I sewed binding onto the front and back separately, then sewed both shoulder seams as shown in the instructions. The binding was then folded inward. I opted for a hong-kong finish - where the non-showing bias is left flat instead of folded under - to reduce bulk and avoid battling against the super ravely double cloth.

This dress has such a 1920's feel to it, with a hint of Scandinavian milkmaid. The renovation itself was fairly simple.

  1. Cut all Cabin pieces for shift length. The yoke piece was lengthened by 1/2", both to add more room in the shoulders (an alteration I often need) and to allow for a wider sleeve. Cut the hems on both front and back pieces straight across, rather than along the original curve of the hem.
  2. Once you've sewn as far as the step where you attach binding to the sleeves, trim 1/2" off the sleeve to get a little more room at the bicep. Measure the sleeve hem and cut two sleeves equal to that measurement x 14". Attach these sleeves to the original sleeve hem.
  3. Cut two hem bands that are 10.5" by the measurement of your pattern piece hems. Attach these two bands at the hem of front and back.
  4. Check to see that the hem bands align when the side seams are pinned or basted together and adjust if necessary.
  5. To finish, hem sleeves with a 1/2" double fold. Hem dress with a 1" double fold.

Interested in a more in depth/photo tutorial on this Cabin Renovation? Ask and you shall receive! If you've done your own renovation, tag it and share! #blueprintsmakes **UPDATE: Working on a little tutorial as we speak**



Cabin Renovation: The Coat Dress

Introducing: Blueprints Renovations!

If you take a look around your neighborhood, you'll see all sorts of interesting renovations: additions, improvements, facades, details, and more. Customizing our houses is one of the ways we present our identity, from the most conspicuous Tuscan styled McMansions, to ultra-efficient and adorably decked out tiny houses on trailers. As an inherently creative species with a predominantly non-nomadic culture, cultivating living spaces (like adorning our bodies) comes naturally.

It is in this spirit that I'd like to introduce you all to a new feature on the website I like to call Renovations. Renovations are pattern alteration tutorials, designed to stretch each Blueprints pattern and inspire your own DIY spirit! I've re-imagined and altered clothing as long as I've been sewing and BOY is it fun! I hope these renovations with inspire you and encourage you to create and share your own renovations as well! The DIY spirit is contagious!

Cabin Renovation #1: The Cabin Coat Dress

This 'renovation' is inspired by one of the owners of JP Knit & Stitch in Boston, the always stylish Genevieve Day. She came to an event one night in an adorable vintage coat dress: simple blue corduroy with big, round brass buttons.

I love pieces that walk the fine line between garment types and this way a prime example. Quirky and sweet...just fitted enough to be flattering but trapeze-y enough to be comfortable and effortless.

I especially love corduroy. Often banished to the realm of musty college professors, hacky-sacking stoners, and elastic waist toddler pants, corduroy is a fabric with great warmth and lots of character! I decided to create a Cabin coat dress based loosely on Genevieve's vintage find, using Robert Kaufman's awesome 14 Wale Corduroy. (A wale, by the way, is the unit of measurement for corduroy's stripes). I figured I'd stick with the vintage vibe and use a 60's looking cotton print for the pockets and binding

I took these photos as the sun was setting and upping the exposure made the photos looks grainy and more vintage. This is what we call a "Happy Accident" and they're my favorite kind.

In keeping with the original inspiration, I decided to use big vintage brass buttons. It has a decidedly 'pretty smock' look because of the body of the corduroy, and I like it.

To make your very own Cabin Coat Dress, follow these instructions:

Decide whether you would like to finish your Coat Dress with bias facing or bias binding. You'll want to align your top button with this in mind. I did mine with bias binding, and decided to use 1/2" double fold binding, instead of the 1/2" single fold that the pattern calls for.

1. Trace a copy of the cabin front bodice. Mark the fold line as the center front(CF).

Here I used alphanumeric pattern paper to trace my pattern. This paper is slightly transparent, a bit heavier than tracing paper, and has letters, numbers, and crosses at 1" intervals. Here I've lined my fold line (now CF) with these markings.

Here I used alphanumeric pattern paper to trace my pattern. This paper is slightly transparent, a bit heavier than tracing paper, and has letters, numbers, and crosses at 1" intervals. Here I've lined my fold line (now CF) with these markings.

2. Choose your buttons. Go with 5 - 7 large statement buttons for maximum impact. Those among you with masochistic tendencies may want to choose 30 tiny shell buttons ;)

3. Lay out your buttons along the center front line of your pattern, spacing them evenly. Usually, one goes slightly below the neckline, then they are placed an even distance apart, with the final button having one last equal 'space' after it.

I opted to go with the original inspiration and use vintage brass buttons!

I opted to go with the original inspiration and use vintage brass buttons!

A note on top button placement: If you plan on finishing your coat dress with bias binding, you'll want to place your button further from the neckline, to give some 'breathing room' between the top button and the binding.

4. Once you are satisfied, trace around your buttons on the pattern then remove the buttons. Now you are left with button markings.

If you're using shank buttons like these, flip them over so they are easier to trace. Trace your buttons in pencil first, then go over with pen so you don't get pen marks on your buttons.

If you're using shank buttons like these, flip them over so they are easier to trace. Trace your buttons in pencil first, then go over with pen so you don't get pen marks on your buttons.

5. Next, extend out from the CF to create the button placket. A good rule of thumb for larger buttons is to make the extension width equal to 1/2" the width of the button. First, square out this distance from the CF, then use a clear ruler to draw a new edge parallel to the CF.


6. Add to this edge extension 1/4" seam allowance for bias facing or 1/4"-1/2" for bias binding. In this version, I'm using a wider 1/2" double fold bias binding (to make your own, press a 1" wide strip of bias, then fold in half) so I'm adding 1/2" seam allowance on the edge.

7. Mark your buttonholes.

If you want vertical buttonholes, use these marks as a guide, drawing a buttonhole along the CF that extends just beyond the button marking.

For horizontal buttonholes, make a point at the center of each button, then draw a horizontal line, perpendicular to the CF equal to the width of the button + the height of the button.

Sewing Steps

This new pattern piece will serve as both the right and left side of your dress front. On one piece, mark the buttons and on the other, mark buttonholes. Cut your pieces as instructed. You can still place the front near the fold, but cut all the way around it.

Sew as instructed until you reach the step when neckline binding is sewn on. Do not sew the neckline binding. Instead, proceed to the 2nd shoulder. Continue following the instructions until you reach the step where the hem bias tape is applied.

Shoulder seams and one side seam sewn and bias tape is attached to the sleeves.

Shoulder seams and one side seam sewn and bias tape is attached to the sleeves.

Staring from one side seam, apply bias tape as instructed around the hem, up the coat front, around the neckline, down the opposite side, then back around to the side seam opening.

When you approach the corner, stop with the needle in the fabric a seam allowance's distance from the fabric's edge.

With the needle still sunk in the fabric, pivot around the corner. Fold the bias tape at a 90 degree angle as pictured.

Continue sewing along the edge. Repeat this process for the other 3 corners.

After attaching binding around the neckline, fronts, and hem, sew up your second side seam as instructed and finish the seam allowance.

Finally, finish your bias facing or binding as instructed. At the corners, fold in the bias as pictured to curve it around the corner. I wanted a rounder looking corner, but you can also create a very crisp mitered corner (perhaps a tutorial for another time!).

If you have a great idea for a Cabin renovation, please share it! Tag us on instagram or email links to your personal blog!