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We have a special Feature Friday post for today- it’s jam-packed with a fabulous pattern (the Tabitha Top), a 2019 retreat recap from the perspective of a guest, AND if you stay tuned til the end there is a full update on our progress for next year’s retreat!!! Happy Feature Friday, y’all!


Hello fellow sewists! Caroline Gaddy here and oh my goodness, I have so much to talk to you about today. Feature Friday, fun at the Love Notions Sew-cation, and pssst…I even have a little bonus info about next year’s retreat. EEK! Watch out for hints in this post!

tabitha top with cover

The Tabitha Top is our Feature Friday $5 pattern this week!

This top has so, so many options. It has <ahem> two different neckline options, five different sleeve length options, three different hem finishes, and a front and back yoke option (for which you can even use woven). So many ways to make it your own! (wink, wink – hint, hint) It’s a semi-fitted top that can easily transition from casual to professional and fill so many slots in your wardrobe. It’s a splendid solution for my work wardrobe problem, where I need to be professionally casual…professi-casual. Profess-ual? 🙂 Trivia tidbit: the Tabitha top is named after one of Tami’s sisters (so is the Tessa dress and the Terra tunic). Don’t tell Tessa (the human being, not the dress), but after spending some time with this pattern, Tabitha might be my new favorite sister! 😉 

tabitha sleeveless tabitha top ruffle

I somehow never ended up with any Tabitha tops in my closet. That was an oversight that this Feature Friday gave me the perfect opportunity to rectify. Now I have two that I love!


Finding my Style

I turned 40 in July (eep!) and something about that number seemed to spur reflection. One of the things I realized during this reflection is that I seem to have lost my style. Or maybe my style lost me? I don’t know. One of us is lost and has probably been missing for a long time. My closet is a disjointed collection of pattern tests and strike off sews and ready-to-wear items, especially graphic tees. (I was a teenager in the 90’s and I really miss my grunge gear, I admit it.)  My body has changed. My life has changed. I have no idea what my style is now as the 40-year-old person I have evolved into. So I’m on a quest! I’m on a quest for my 40-year-old self’s style. For my now style. For what I like and will wear today, on the body I have now. (I am not throwing out my graphic tees, for the record. In fact, I’ll probably make more with the Tabitha pattern!)


tabitha top ruffle


Make it your own: Tabitha Pattern Hacks

Now I mentioned that Tabitha has a plethora (isn’t that a fun word?) of options. But I still had to make it my own (wink, wink – hint, hint).  I am on a quest for style after all! What’s a quest without a little hacking? 😉 I have two Tabitha tops to show you today: a scoop neck sleeveless top in single brushed poly from Sly Fox Fabrics, and a long sleeve top with a bateau neckline in tri-blend jersey from Amelia Lane Designs. Two totally different looks. Two tops with different purposes. I love them both! Does this get me any closer to finding my style? I don’t know. On to the hacks!

I took my inspiration for both tops from the fabric. The navy floral struck me as so classic and timeless. And the colors are gorgeous! I have a sweater – I’ve probably had this sweater for 12 years – that I wear all the time in Fall and Winter and it matched perfectly. So, since I only had a yard of this fabric, I went for a sleeveless top that would complement my beloved sweater.


tabitha top sleeveless

Sleeveless Tabitha Top

I modified the hem by extending the bottom hem line of the front and back pieces by 2 inches, and then sewed a 1” hem. Simple, right? I’m all about simple. 🙂 This hits me around my high hip. You may need to add more or less, depending on your torso. I also did a banded neckline instead of a binding/facing. That’s because 1) I plan to wear this to work and I wanted a little extra modesty, and 2) bands are easier. 🙂 Done and done! Now I have an awesome top I can wear alone in the summer or layered under a cardigan in the cooler months.


tabitha sleeveless tabitha top

Long Sleeve Tabitha Top with Ruffle

The “hack” for the long sleeve top was just as easy, and was again inspired by the fabric. The fabric told me – your fabric talks to you too, right? – that it wanted to be a cute, casual top with a little ruffled bottom – something closer to tunic length so I can wear it with jeans or leggings. To achieve this, I took the front split hem piece of the pattern and cut four on the fold instead of one. (I did this because I didn’t have enough fabric to cut one long strip for the ruffle piece.) I serged two together to make the front ruffle piece and two together to make the back ruffle piece. Then I gathered those on my serger (a first for me!), and attached to the hem. Boom! Done. Now I have the cutest, coziest shirt! (This tri-blend is so, soooooooooo soft, oh my goodness.) I opted to leave the hem raw for now, but I may go back and try hemming. 


tabitha top ruffle

Love Notion’s 2019 Sewing Retreat Recap

Now, onto the retreat review! As I said, I turned 40 in July. My gift to my style-less self was the Love Notions Sew-cation. 🙂 I have been lucky enough to go to both of the LN sewing retreats (and have driven about 14 hours to get to both of them!). I have a lot of social anxiety and was so intimidated to go, to meet all these strangers. But I can honestly say it was not intimidating at all once I arrived. The retreats have been warm and welcoming. I “met” people I have known on the internet and have sewn with through cyberspace for years. And when I met them, it wasn’t like a first meeting at all. It was like seeing a good friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. 


retreat 2019

Some fun and friends from Sew-cation 2018 and 2019.

The Retreat Experience

Though the schedule is semi-flexible and you can always make your own experience (hint, hint), each retreat has a theme. This year it was Focusing on the Details. The first retreat, I had so many plans, folks. Oh, I had PLANS. I packed a giant IKEA bag full of fabric and a stack of patterns. And all I did was sew a rhino Halloween costume for my son and take classes. Hahaha! It was an awesome costume though. So, for this retreat, I was determined to accomplish more and to only sew for myself. I was gonna focus on those details, people. It was my 40th birthday, darn it! I was going to enjoy this time and I was going to create things for me and I wasn’t going to feel guilty about it! So, once again, I brought a big bag of fabric and a pile of patterns. And…I sewed a blanket, fixed my son’s baby blanket, and made him a Vanguard top. HA! But this actually turned out to be awesome because those projects let me do the best thing for me. It let me try out a new sewing machine! 


retreat 2018

Trying out the infamous rhino costume at the LN Sew-cation 2018.

Sewing Machines

An awesome addition to this year’s retreat was that Thimbles sewing shop was there and we were able to rent machines. This meant I could try out a Baby Lock Brilliant for days before deciding to buy it (at a discount!). I sewed on double plush. I sewed on baby FT. I sewed bias tape onto a decade old baby blanket. I sewed every stitch that machine had on swatches of every fabric I could find. And when the retreat was done, I packed that machine up and took it home with me (after paying for it, of course). I. Love. That. Machine. I love it. They also had a bank of Baby Lock sergers and coverstitch machines we could use. That was a treat!


retreat 2019

My new machine, featuring LEGO minifigures sent with me by my son to keep me company at the retreat.

Classes and Projects

Each day there were classes. We selected which classes and workshops we wanted to take ahead of time. I learned so many helpful tips in the classes. But I also learned just from sewing with people and asking questions. It’s such an awesome environment because when someone is stuck, they just get up and ask someone else how to do it. And everybody helps! I seriously talked to five different people about the best way to fix my son’s baby blanket before attempting it. It was such a nerve-wracking project. If your kid has a special stuffy or blanket, you know what I’m talking about. He adores that blanket. And the repair was truly a labor of love, not just from me, but from each of the folks at the retreat who supported and empowered me to do it. 


retreat 2019

The freshly bound and dearly loved baby blanket.

Retreat Takeaways

And you can win prizes! And buy fabric! And sew while surrounded by awesome people and in a beautiful setting. And eat Nancy’s biscotti! That biscotti is the best, ya’ll. THE BEST. I don’t even like biscotti! Haha! But my greatest takeaway from the retreat (besides the biscotti and my beloved sewing machine), and the reason I have kept going back, is that it reinvigorates my creativity. I soak it up by osmosis, surrounded by all these other sewists. I am energized by the tips I learn in classes. I am empowered by the people who encourage me and say, “hey, you can do the thing!” Then, I come home, after getting a little time to myself to focus on my craft, and I feel uplifted and excited for what I will sew next.


retreat 2019

Highlights from the 2019 Sew-cation.

retreat 2019

So, guess what? I have a little insider info…I know the theme for next year’s retreat! I’ve left hints throughout the post. Can you guess what it is? It’s…..

Make It Your Own

I’ll let Tami and Tesssa give you some more details below, but I can tell you I’m going to try to go and soak up some more creative inspiration. I hope I will see you there! Whether you can go to the retreat or not, I encourage you to put your own twist on the Tabitha Top or whatever you’re making. Make it your own. Because you can. Oh sure, it may not be perfect. I mean, nothing I ever sew is. 🙂 But it will be yours. You will have made it. And that’s pretty darn awesome. If you need a little help, there’s a great group of people over in the Love Notions Facebook group who will encourage and empower you. 



I know many people have been awaiting news about the 2020 Love Notions retreat! Tami and I have been working a ton behind the scenes to make the 2020 retreat just as fabulous as the ones in 2018 and 2019. Basically, as soon as the last one wrapped we started discussing the next year’s themes, and teachers, and dates, and venues, and machines, and sponsors, and … well, I think you get the point. There is a LOT of planning that goes behind bringing about 70 sewists together to learn, relax, sew, connect, eat, and have fun. So here is a bit of 2020 retreat news!

We’re *thrilled* to announce that Surge Fabric Shop will be joining us as the retreat fabric sponsor for 2020. This is an online shop that has absolutely fabulous fabrics and notions! Tami and I have been really impressed by their fabric selection, customer service, and style.  So, we asked Kayla, the owner, if Surge wanted to be a part of the fun and she said “absolutely!” Yippee!

We are also ecstatic that Tammy and Jane from Thimbles Quilt Shop, a Baby Lock and Bernina dealer, will be attending again! Machines will be available to rent AND we will have a bank of sergers and coverstitch machines for everyone to use. This was one of the BEST features about this past retreat and we are so excited to partner with them again.

At this point we are ready to announce that the location and dates will be … (drumroll……..)

Shipshewana, Indiana: August 3rd-7th, 2020 (updated 9/5/19)

Now that you’ve got your calendar out, here are some more important dates. In the past, the retreat has sold out within about 24 hours of registration opening. So it is important to sign up right away on the registration date.

September 13, 2019 Love Notion’s Sew-cation Website opens (will have more info about schedule, teachers, cost, accommodations)

October 2, 2019 Love Notion’s Sew-cation Registration opens!

So there’s the scoop for now. Tami and I just love hosting the retreat and are so excited to hang out with our IRL sewing friends. This retreat really has become a highlight in the year. We hope you can come and “make it your own.”

Can’t wait to sew with you!



Author Tessa

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Lynn Bontrager says:

    WHAT!!!! I am brand new to your site and blog. I have purchased a pattern but not made it yet and then I happened on the news about the 2020 Retreat and it is in MY HOMETOWN!!!!! this is amazing. I have sign-up day jotted down on the calendar. ☺

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