The Sew-Vivor Finale: Quilted Surf Style

OK, you guys, it’s time for the Sew-Vivor final reveal! This is the moment where I face off against two other very talented sewists and YOU help decide the winner by voting! This week’s challenge is “QUILTING.” For the purposes of this competition, quilting can be defined as either pieces of fabric sewn together, or layers of fabric (and/or batting) stitched together, or both. After reading this post, please do me the HUGE FAVOR of going over and VOTING FOR ME! Thank you so much for your support through this competition!!

As you guys can tell, I did not make a quilt for this round. I don’t have anything against quilts, I love them in fact, but I wanted to do something a little more complex for this challenge. I mean, my boy would love a quilt. The real question is, can he wear a quilt and get away with it? I think you’ll agree, he can. 


The centerpiece of this outfit is the shorts. I am inspired by Quicksilver clothing these days, and particularly so in this case. I used these shorts as my inspiration point for the quilted herringbone design. I love this kind of pattern for boys, and knew all the bright colors would work well in an asymmetrical herringbone pattern.

I created the herringbone using strips of fabric of various widths that were then pieced together and cut at a diagonal to create columns. The columns were then stitched together to create the herringbone. I used these two tutorials, here and here, as a rough guide for strip piecing and cutting. The “quilt top” I created in the process became my outer fabric for the shorts.

One I had enough fabric pieced together, I laid my pattern pieces on top (view L from Happy Homemade Vol. 2, my fave shorts pattern in the entire world) and cut them out like I would any other pair.

Asymmetrical herringbone piecing for the shorts.

The slash pockets in front are lined in a black print and instead of hemming the shorts I trimmed them with bias tape made from the same fabric as his shirt. One of my favorite things about a finished quilt is bias binding, so I obviously had to add some to this outfit!

I also added a notch in the side seam of the shorts, because it’s such a throwback to vintage surf shorts. This might be my favorite detail.

You can see some of my quilting lines in the photo above. Obviously, for a quilting challenge I couldn’t just piece the fabric together and call it good. I had to do some actual quilting! So I lined the shorts with leftovers from the shirt and quilted the layers with straight lines to emphasize the herringbone pattern. I love the way this light blue/teal thread contrasts with the solid colors. 
I am really, really proud of this shirt. I hope it’s ok for me to say that, because it’s true! I started with the Oliver + S sketchbook shirt pattern, but changed a few things. Here’s the basic rundown of what I changed:
  • Lengthened the shirt by 2″ to give it more of a Quicksilver feel
  • Brought the shirt in on the sides by about 1″ to give it a slimmer fit
  • Eliminated the back pleat to reduce extra bulk, again for a slimmer fit
  • Altered the shape of the upper back piece to accommodate the quilted wave scene
I had a lot of fun making this shirt, particularly because my husband designed the wave on the back. I told him what I wanted to do, and he drew this design using curved lines. Those are reeeeally dang hard to sew, so I took my time drafting the pieces and planning out the steps for sewing them together. It took some patience, careful sewing, and lots of clipping seams to get everything to lie flat. I am SO HAPPY the wave turned out looking like an actual wave! It was so much fun to work on this with my hubby. We need to do more creative stuff together!
And oh!, that blue-on-black below. Its so California; I love the way it looks!
The solid fabrics on this shirt are and shorts are all Kona cotton solids from Joanne’s. The shirting is a specialty cotton, also from Joannes. I love the contrasting buttons and chevron front pocket, which you can see in the photo below. I love a good chevron, don’t you?
Fun detail: I used the pocket pattern from the shorts to create the pocket for the shirt.
I also added a two-toned collar because, hey, that’s fun.
Enjoy a few more pictures of the shirt and then I’ll wrap this up.
You know what, I really love this handsome guy. He was so patient with these pictures even though he doesn’t like standing still for more than two seconds. You know how little boys are! He is so proud of his new outfit, which makes every moment spent sewing worth it. 
Thanks for your help, son! You make this outfit shine.

And thank YOU, dear reader, for your support and encouragement. Please head over and VOTE FOR ME NOW!! This is the final challenge, so if I make it through this round I bring home first place. I can’t do it without your help!

Thanks again; I love you guys!

*All the pictures in this post were taken by my brother, Kyle Cowgill, the talent behind this hilarious channel


  1. says

    WOW!!! I love everything about this look. I mean, this outfit looks BETTER than a store purchased outfit. The colors look great together, the mixed patterns are amazing, and the design on the back looks fantastic. I’m just floored at your work!


  2. says

    Wow. This is SO COOL! You didn’t forget a single detail. You knocked it out of the park. Every detail is perfect. You deserve to put your feet up and rest after making this master piece.

  3. says

    Saw your entry in the Family Ever After voting page. I really really like your entry because who would have thought of combining traditional quilting/piecing with a very outdoorsy, surfer-like outfit — and for a lit tle man! Good luck with the competition!

  4. says

    So when this popped up in my blog roll I thought, I’m not sure how I feel about this one. By the time I got to the bottom of your post I loved it! I LOVE the shorts and the colors you used. I think you were very original to go this direction with quilting and that two tone collar is such a nice touch. Good job, I voted for you, I hope you win 🙂

  5. says

    Caila, you really knocked it out of the park on this one! It is so original and amazing! Loved all the details you put into it…..Looks like something out of a Quicksilver catalog. I’m off to vote for ya’ 🙂

  6. says

    This outfit is SO cool! The details are gorgeous. You’ve elevated hip boy sewing to a whole new level with this great ensemble!

  7. says

    This is truly inspired. Absolutely amazing and so original. I love sewing clothes and love quilting but have always struggled with how I might combine the two when it comes to making something for my boys. This has inspired me to think ouside the box and try something different. You most defintiely have my vote.

  8. says

    I adore this outfit and of course voted for you. You have given me total inspiration to make something like this for my son. I was just thinking in my head that boy clothes can sometimes be so uninspiring and they deserve more!!! Thank you!