Ladybugs and Licorice

Fabric Swap Hoopes Park Studios

Marilla had this wonderful idea a couple months ago to organize a special fabric swap. But it wasn’t any old fabric swap- it was a hand-printed fabric swap. Time to break out the stamps and fabric paint!

My swap partner was Charlotte of English Girl at Home. She is one timely seamstress, because only a couple weeks after receiving the fabric I sent her, she has already made a cute, mod-style dress out of it!

Before I start rambling about my printing process, here’s what she sent me:

ladybug print

Oooh, aaah. Chambrayyyyy. With ladybugs. It’s simple but thoughtfully detailed- just my style!

Read on for more about my dyeing and printing process.

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Slinky Senna


E-photo 3 (3)It’s slinky, it’s sexy, and it’s easy to make. It’s the Senna dress! Excuse me while I saunter all over town like Sophia Vergara in this perfectly balanced kimono top and ruched midi skirt. It’s a bombshell- I bet Marilyn Monroe would have worn a gold Senna. It’s clingy around the bottom, but long enough and loose (on top) enough to be super classy. My version is made of a busy cotton/lycra knit from JoMar (Philly love!). It’s a veritable dot party!

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I was a pattern tester for Design by Lindsay’s Senna dress. She was a joy to work with, and the pattern was so good the first time around that I hardly had any feedback to give her! It sewed up quickly (two short evenings) with only a few fitting adjustments. I made view A in a size 8 top and size 10 skirt. I made a mini swayback adjustment and lined the back of the skirt in self fabric to hide panty lines (gaah I hate that word).

TESTsenna instructions2

If I made it again, I’d make it in a solid color to show off the ruching more… dark grey or black maybe? I’m almost afraid to make a second version of this dress, because it might be the only thing I wear out. And I don’t go OUT that much, but wearing this dress might be an excuse to go out, since it’s all confidence-boosting and beer-belly-hiding. My wallet is cringing at the thought of visiting all those Richmond bars. So it’s up to you, my readers, to go forth and make your own Senna dress. Get slinky! You can find the pattern here and Lindsay’s blog here.

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*I was not paid to test this pattern, and was given a free copy of the final pattern as compensation.  This post contains only my own opinions. I love to support independent pattern companies and believe that pattern testing is a valuable resource to new designers*

Quick+Easy Inseam Zipper Tutorial



I’m back with the inseam zipper tutorial! Look/read on:

pants diagram

Rip open the inseam slightly shorter than the zipper you are going to insert and tack it at the end of the opening (so it rips no further). With the zipper closed, carefully pin one side to the seam allowance so that the old seam line (the one you just ripped out) is flush with the middle of the zipper. Use your zipper foot to sew in the first side of the zipper. Starting at the top of the zipper, with the zipper closed, carefully pin it to the second seam allowance so that the sides of the inseam match up. Open the zipper and sew into place. Check that the zipper can close and open easily and that the inseam hides the zipper when closed.  Hand tack the cuff into place (if you are altering a pair of slacks) or redo the hem. Turn the pants inside out and sew the top of the zipper to the seam allowance.

Other tips

  • make sure that the zipper pull, when the zipper is closed and the zipper pull is hanging down, does not hang more than a couple millimeters past the end of the hem
  • the zipper should open at the bottom, at the hem of the pant leg
  • trim the top of the zipper or sew a piece of cloth over it so that the sharp end does not scratch the wearer or the artificial limb
  • encase the bottom of the zipper in the hem when finishing the pants

Happy altering! If you have any questions let me know.





Artificial Limbs and Garment Fittings

The story: Growing up, my family had a good friend named Ed. Like most people, Ed had two complete legs. Unlike most people, one of those legs caused him a lot of medical problems. Four years ago, he lost part of that leg (the right one) below the knee, and had to get an artificial limb. Once he recovered from the surgery and got used to his new high-tech limb, life mostly returned to normal (as normal as it can get after losing a leg). There was one major problem besides his lack of leg- pants. Ed travels a lot for work and spends a lot of time flying on planes. When I get on a plane, I find my seat, shove my bag under the seat in front of me, buckle up, kick off my shoes, and settle down with a good book. Easy peasy. For Ed, it’s a bit of a problem. On long flights, it may be necessary to adjust the leg or even remove it (on an overnight flight). However, he can’t do that without removing his pants.

Ed found an ingenious solution- inseam zippers. Adding a zipper along an inseam makes it very easy for Ed to remove his leg if he wishes, or show his leg to airport security for inspection. The zipper provides quick and easy access for any adjustments he may need to make as well.

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Thought those were regular pants? They all have inseam zippers!

Soon after he lost his leg, Ed showed up at my parents’ house with a pair of bespoke pants that included a zipper in the right inseam. He enlisted me to create more of these. I’ve slowly worked my way through his closet, inserting 20 and 22 inch zippers in the inseams of many pairs of pants. As the process has gone on, I’ve gotten good at quickly inserting invisible zippers. The process is simple and works best on pants without a flat felled inseam.




This is one of the coolest and most unusual projects I’ve ever undertaken. I could go on all day about it, but I’ll leave off here. Check back tomorrow for the tutorial! Thanks Ed for letting me write about you!



Taking sewing on the road

Have you ever taken your sewing studio on the road or to a temporary space? Do you know any sewing friends in Richmond?

Moving day is here. For those of you who don’t know, I’m moving to Richmond, Virginia! Which means I’m moving out of my big studio space, into a small room in a friend’s house. Which means that all this sewing stuff had to be pared down to the essentials:

cluttered sewing space

even more clutter

Here’s what I’ve decided to take:

  • Sewing machine
  • pins and magnet
  • fabric scissors
  • enough fabric for my next couple projects
  • a couple patterns
  • measuring tape
  • some thread
  • a little bag of buttons

Everything (except the machine) fits in this very nice bin:

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These are the things I find myself using 99% of the time (except my serger). I would love to bring along more fabric, patterns, chalk, and other fancy shmancy things that I use occasionally, but there isn’t room. It has to fit in my car with all my other STUFF. Which I have been purging like a madwoman for the past few weeks. It feels gooood to get rid of so much, but I still have a lot left over.

I’ll be back for the rest of my sewing stuff at some point, once I’ve found a more permanent living situation with more space. For now, goodbye my lovelies!



Scraptember Polly

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I’ve been sewing lots of tops lately. After my Wardrobe Architect deep clean, I didn’t have many tops left. They have always been an item of clothing I’ve had trouble finding; I’m petite but busty, and its hard to fit that shape into RTW clothing. So I ended up with a lot of tops that didn’t fit, or fit but that I didn’t like (and wear). WA changed all that, and left me with only a few tops that have been seeing a lot of action. Which necessitated that some tops be added to my sewing queue. You can see some of my other recent tops here and here.

This shirt is genius. The geometry of the pieces, how they fit together, negates the need for bust darts while leaving enough room up top and falling perfectly on the waist. This is the first pattern I’ve tried from By Hand London, and I’m impressed.

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This was also a stash buster Scrap-tember project. The green front is leftover from this skirt that I reconstructed. The bias tape and the patterned fabrics were 3/4 yd scraps from long ago projects. Not enough fabric to pattern match, but enough for a tank top.

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The whole shirt is a mish-mash of different sizes. The neckline, straps, and hem length are a size 2, but the bust is a size 6 and the waist is a size 4.  The side seams don’t quite hang straight, but the shirt feels like it fits.

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It is still very hot out here in Philly. I think it was 95 outside when Emily took these pictures last week, and I kept having to wipe sweat off of my face so it wouldn’t show in the photos. She is helping me with the move to Richmond on Friday- what a dedicated friend! She and I have been friends for almost a decade, and this will be the first time we haven’t lived in the same town. I will miss having a sewing pal! In fact, I will miss all the sewing friends I have made here in Philly.


1 year of HPS (and a freebie)

HPS 1st Bday card 2


It’s been a year since I registered the HPS domain name and published my first post. What a year! I have had so so much fun sewing and blogging and learning and growing.

My actual birthday is coming up next week, so I’ll save the real cake for then.  Thank you to all my readers for sticking around! My gift to you is a downloadable freebie birthday card. Print it out, color it in, and give it to the next birthday person on your list. Click here for the card download, and here for the pattern.

HPS 1st Bday card


How to line a tote bag


Just as every blogger, I have a long list of blogs I find inspiring. One is the lifestyle and travel blog of Valentina Duracinsky. Recently we swapped blog buttons, and I wanted to highlight a project I made for her in one of my posts. Her style is  minimalist, chic, and very Parisian. She sings and dresses like a modern day Joanie Mitchell  meets Audrey Hepburn. Anyway, after some conversing between her and myself, I decided to make her a colorblocked tote bag- and line it. Here’s how I did it.

1.Make the body of your tote bag. *updated for clarity 9/10/14* I used two pieces of fabric to create the colorblocking effect. I sewed them right sides together and then topstitched before sewing the side seams. Then I cut two 15″ x 17″ colorblocked rectangles and sewed them together on 3 sides.


2. Make the lining. It should be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch smaller than the outside of the tote bag.



3. With the wrong sides together, match the bottoms of the bags at the corners. Fold the corners out so that the side seam and bottom seam meet, making a triangle. Check out this video (start watching at 0:49) if you need more illustration.


4. Stitch in a line several inches above the point of this triangle, perpendicular to the side seams. This will create a corner, giving the bag dimension and space inside.

5. Flip the outside of the bag over the lining, so the corner seam is hidden.



6. Fold down the top of the bag twice, to the inside. Stitch along the inside edge. Add straps.


That’s it! You can see another tote bag I’ve made here. Be sure to check out Valentina’s blog here.  I’ll let you all know when she posts about it so you can see how she wore it!





Blog hop

flowers in the backyard

I was nominated for this short blog hop by the talented Marilla Walker. I thought I’d take a mini break from sewing and share my answers with you.

What have you been doing / making / scribbling at your desk this week?

I have been traveling a lot this week for job interviews, so I’ve been writing blog posts that were previously photographed but waiting to get posted. Not much scribbling. When I’m away from my machines I come up with a long list of things to do once I get back, and that list has been growing. It includes a pattern hack, fabric printing, and some minimalist tote bags. I’ve also been PURGING my stuff and packing for my move down to Richmond, VA. I think I’ve gotten rid of half of my clothes so far. I feel featherweight and free with less boxes to lug down south.

Where are you currently finding your inspiration? (Influences, heroes, sources of inspiration, paths exploring)?

Creative friends and people watching. While in Richmond, I visited a sewing workshop, met a local jewelry maker and was seriously impressed by the creative community there.  I also went to a bluegrass festival where I sat on a blanket, drank some Whitbier and watched the crowd party by (till it started raining). I love looking at the clothes people wear and dissecting how they were made. The ways in which people present themselves to the world are so varied and interesting.

How important is being creative to you, and how do you blend this with your work / life / family balance?

So important. Up there with water and air important. My job is pretty science-y, and without creative time to balance it out, I’m liable to turn into a swirling vortex of pharmacology and anatomy trivia. As far as how that balance works, I tend to swing back and forth between the extremes. I’m either not sewing at all or trying to fit it in every free moment. I sew till I’m sick of it and then I take a break.

I hereby nominate Alisa Sibrova and Lindsay Woodward  for the blog hop.

Tiny polka dots on a little cami


I’m on a roll with these free patterns. This is the Diana camisole from Sew Loft. It has a bit of a story behind it:

I was seriously lusting after this cami from J Crew but it is $$. I tried it on at the store, but it definitely did not fit me nicely like it did the model.  So I went searching for a pattern and fabric to make my own. Looking at the two tops side by side, you can see the huge difference in their shapes! I think this picture illustrates how poorly RTW clothes fit me. Not only is my cami shorter, but it is straighter, wider, and has bust darts. All this to accommodate my petite-ness and curvy-ness.

carrie cami compare

Once again I made a lot of modifications to the original pattern. This is a size 4 with a full-busted adjustment and bust darts. I also raised the front neckline an inch, but it is still pretty low. Took me 3 muslins to get the fit right, and I’m happy I stuck with it. I’ve been wearing this top all the time. It catches the breeze in just the right way and keeps me cool in this Philly heat.


The fabric is a silky synthetic something from Joann fabrics (I should start taking notes from the bolts so I can remember what kind of fabric I bought). It was quite sheer so I self-lined the front but not the back. The construction of this top was NOT easy (as purported by the pattern). The instructions were really confusing and didn’t work with such a delicate fabric so I eventually gave up and did it my way. First I sewed the bust darts and hemmed the top edge of the back. Then, I burrito’d the side seams by sandwiching the back piece in between the two front pieces. Once pinned, I sewed the side seams and front neckline all at once (making sure to catch the straps in front). Then I flipped the whole thing right side out.  All that was left after that was attaching the straps to the back and hemming the shirt. Doesn’t that seamless neckline look GOOD?!


And again, bra straps. Welcome to my life of bustyness. But look at my ripped shoulders! They look so strong yay. I digress- last thing is that I ran a blind hem around the bottom of the shirt using my newly discovered blind hem foot!

I spent about $15 on fabric for this top, so compared to the $70 J Crew top, it’s a steal!


All photos courtesy of Brittany Frisch Photography. She is an amazing photographer for all your family portrait, graduation, engagement, and wedding photography needs!

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