Maxing out on Vacation, and my One Weird Sewing Tool

I am a beach vacation kind of girl. I love sun, sand and ocean, and a drink with a little umbrella. I don’t love hauling around a lot of luggage, and I refuse to iron any of my clothes. (I don’t do it at home, why would I do it on vacation?) So effortless is my favorite word when it comes to vacation wear.

My first-packed item is always a knit maxi skirt! With a change of accessories, you can wear it to the beach, wear it into town, wear it out to dinner. Wear it on the deck with a drink with a little umbrella. It’s cool and still covered up for some protection from the sun.

You can even wear it stand up paddleboarding if you’re so inclined.

When I was shopping Cali Fabrics, I knew rayon jersey would be a great choice for my vacation maxi skirts – lightweight, stretchy, and low-wrinkle. I also knew for a harried-pre-vacation, fast sew that was frugal on fabric, I wanted to sew this 6-panel skirt without having to accommodate a directional print. I chose that pretty Black and White Layered Pattern Tiles Stretch Rayon Jersey Knit you see up there for myself and Muted Lilac Stretch Rayon Jersey Solid for my daughter.

We’re both wearing Tie Dye Diva’s new Mermaid Maxi Skirt pattern, the lilac one in the oh-so-swishy flared view, and the black-and-white print one in the straight view with split. Both with pockets, natch.

Before cutting the solid skirt, I checked that the fabric didn’t have any subtle directional shading to it that might make the panels look different if they were cut in both directions. Easy way to do this, just drape it over something – your mannequin, a chair, a forgiving person. By doing this, you are looking at the “up direction” and “down direction” side by side. If there’s any difference in shading or nap, you’ll see it. I didn’t see any so felt comfortable saving fabric by laying my pattern pieces out in both directions.

Now here’s my one weird sewing tool – my iPhone! It can be hard to distinguish the right side from the reverse of knit with the bare eye. Especially if you are in your thirty-teens like me. Smart phone to the rescue! On the iPhone, go to Settings>General>Accessibility>Magnifier and turn it on. Then you can triple click the home button or side button depending on your phone version any time you want and instantly magnify all kinds of things. On other phones, go to the camera and zoom in. Look how visible the right and wrong side of this jersey is! That’s the right side on the left with the little V’s in vertical ribs and the wrong side with the more predominant horizontal lines.

It’s also great for being sure your fabric is folded on grain before you cut, look for a rib to be right along the fold. And it’s great for seeing how badly you need a new cutting mat. How embarrassing!

Another indispensable use of the magnifier when sewing is reading those ridiculously tiny engraved numbers on sewing machine needles. You’ll want to use ballpoint/jersey needles for rayon jersey in a 70/10 or 80/12 depending on the weight of your fabric.

What’s your one weird sewing tool?

Tie Dye Diva Patterns Mermaid Maxi in rayon jersey from Cali Fabrics.

More from Tie Dye Diva Patterns on Instagram at @tiedyediva.


Jen H, from Tie Dye Diva

Jen creates PDF format sewing patterns for women, children and babies at

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8 thoughts on “Maxing out on Vacation, and my One Weird Sewing Tool”

  1. What a great tip, thank you! I have some black Ponte that is impossible to distinguish which side I am working with, so perfect timing!

  2. What a great tip to use the camera on your phone to magnify. I’m going to start today!

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