Guitar-playing skirt for Denver


Half-circle midi skirt

It has been feeling like spring in Virginia lately. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and it’s been about 50 F outside. Perfect timing to have a little photoshoot with the roomie (her name is Denver). And to show you the skirt I made a season ahead of time! (just like those big fashion folks, yo).

There’s a bit of a story behind this skirt (as there is with everything I make/everything handmade). I recently discovered that Denver has a fabric stash. I, like every other sewist out there, understand the allure of the uncut bolt, just waiting for my hands to grace it with shape and form. But Denver doesn’t sew. When I inquired about the purpose of this pile of fabric and patterns, she replied that she had bought the fabric because she liked it, and “in case I ever learn to sew one day or someone wants to make something for me.” Around this same time, the coat I’ve been working on was getting me down. I needed to step away from my coat project, and Denver had already assembled all the necessary ingredients for what could be my next project. Perfect palate cleanser. Challenge accepted.

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A couple evenings later, I popped out this half circle midi skirt with waistband and exposed zipper. I drafted the pattern using her measurements and the BHL Circle Skirt App. I had heard about the app before but hadn’t used it- it was helpful. One weird snafu though was that the app kept telling me the measurements I was using wouldn’t fit on 45″ fabric, but I had no problem getting the pattern to fit. I used 2.5 yds of 45″ quilting cotton and a zipper salvaged from another piece of clothing. For the exposed zipper, I followed this tutorial. I used my serger to finish the center back seam and finished the top of the skirt with a 1.5″ waistband. The hem is a simple 1/2″ hem that I turned under twice while carefully ironing and pinning.

Exposed zipper

It was indeed what I needed to get my creative mojo back in action- easy, quick, and wearable. The other thing about Denver is that this girl lives in circle skirts. She is a guitar teacher, and needs skirts with enough volume to drape across her knees while playing. I foresee that this skirt will get a lot of wear.

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Button it up

Button down collared shirt in Chambray

I like a good button down shirt. For years, I’ve struggled to find one that would button without the dreaded boob gap- occupational hazard for many possessing a bust. This fall I sat down and decided to put the time into making myself a collared shirt that would actually fit.

And here it is. Those of you who know me know it’s gotten a lot of wear. It’s high time this shirt made it to the blog.

The pattern started out as a Built by Wendy pattern from a Sew U book from my high school sewing days. I made a muslin in a medium, but it needed a lot of tweaking. So much tweaking that I eventually drafted the arms and back of the shirt myself, and then totally re-drew all the darts on the front of the shirt. I widened the collar to give it a more relaxed fit and added gathers at the top of the sleeves (one of my favorite features in a shirt). There was thought put into adding some embroidered details along the front and around the collar of the shirt, but I ended up liking how clean the shirt looks without it. I made it in a cotton chambray with 10% stretch  from The buttons are from Joann’s.

Chambray button down shirt

I hadn’t appreciated till now how much work goes into all the small details of a button-down. The shirt has vertical darts in the front and back, as well as horizontal bust darts. There were some very enjoyable late nights in December where I stayed up pressing bias binding for the cuffs and researching the best way to attach a collar. LOOK NO BOOB GAP! Hallelujah.

Chambray shirt

I hope I’ll find time to make this shirt again this year. There are a few fitting tweaks I’d make, namely I’d remove some ease, bring the shoulders up (they’ve stretched out a little despite the twill tape I added, I’m not sure why), and interface the button band (which I didn’t do this time… oops). I’d also like to experiment with adding some vintage inspired details around the button band. For now, I’m really happy wearing this shirt!

Thanks to my friend Rayne for taking these pictures! You can tell how cold out it was by my clenched hands.

button down shirt

Year in review- best of 2014


This year was my first full calendar being a part of the blogosphere! If you have a moment, and aren’t to tired of reading round-ups, here is a year in review post of my favoritest/craziest/weirdest projects. Click on the link below each picture to read the original post. Thank you to each and every single one of my readers for being a part of Hoopes Park Studios. I love you gals (and guys)!


One of the most unusual (and something I’d never dreamed I’d be able to make) projects this year was the bikini I made this summer. Here’s how it looked in the pool.

PJ pants for my dad

Best loved project for a family member award goes to these rad zebra PJ pants for my dad that have gotten a lot of use.

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This summer I was a sewing MACHINE (pun intended)! I did a ton of upcycles, including the above top and these dresses.

lumberjack dress

By far my favorite dress of the year was my Lumberjack dress

Fit and flare dress tutorial

…And the most popular dress I posted was this fit-and-flare tutorial.

fabric swap

I got to whip out my fabric paints and design a printed fabric for a multi-national fabric swap.


My most worn summer top that I made (I cranked out a whole bunch) was this little tank top.

inseam zippers

This inseam zipper post and tutorial was one of my favorite to write. I loved getting to do some very specific, niche alterations for a prosthetic leg.

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And last but not least, I tested the Senna dress pattern for Lindsay Woodward. It was my first pattern test and quite a lesson in the steps involved in pattern drafting. Kudos to all you pattern designers- it’s a tough job.

Runner up projects to those shared here include my wrap around dress, a lined tote bag, and this celtic knot tutorial.

I’m so excited to share all my current projects with you in the upcoming year. Stay tuned!

Making buttonholes less scary.

bound buttonholes

Last night I stayed up late working on my coat. I had been avoiding the bound buttonholes, and by “avoiding” I mean that the buttonholes were the first step in the instructions but I totally skipped them and then put the coat together without the buttonholes. Because they were scary.

Bound buttonholes are these really fancy buttonholes that are “bound” by fabric instead of thread (like most buttonholes). They require intense manual dexterity and sewing finesse. It’s like teensy weensy sewing origami. So of course I was scared of them.

Last night I reached a point where I couldn’t sew anything else on the coat without the buttonholes, so I forced myself to jump in. Watching this video before starting really helped. I did a trial run on scrap fabric and quickly realized that using my coat fabric for the buttonholes wouldn’t work. So I went searching through my scrap bag (so happy I didn’t get rid of that thing when I moved!) and found black twill leftover from this project. Being more lightweight than brown velvet coating, it did just the trick. And when I finally dove in and made 4 buttonholes on my actual coat, they turned out pretty nice.

*sigh of relief*


Maternity Belly Bands

maternity belly band diy

25 years.  The time when you move on from college and start feeling truly settled in adulthood. Also the time when some of my friends decided to start having kids. Which means I get to start sewing for pregnant friends (yay new projects). This amazing photographer friend of mine (she took all these pictures this summer) will soon join the ranks of phenom moms, so I made her some belly bands. Worn over jeans that won’t button or under a shirt that has become too short, they help extend a non-maternity wardrobe and accommodate a growing belly far into a pregnancy. They’re like wearing only the bottom portion of a long tank top.

I used 1/2 yard of a rayon/spandex blend for each band (this tutorial from ABM shows how to make a belly band). Using a fabric with good stretch and recovery is key for this project- you want a fabric that will fit snugly but expand with a growing belly. The green measures 24 inches around and is slightly larger than the white (22 inches). She texted me Friday to say they arrived in the mail and they fit- I hope she gets lots of use out of them!

Oh and here’s a picture of the white one on my (non-maternity) dress form:

maternity belly band DIY

The other woman (is knitting)

knitting socks

I started knitting.

Back story: When I move somewhere new, I’m on the hunt for new friends. I happened to befriend a seamstress who makes reproductions of historical garments. She compiles entire outfits, including corsets, shifts, dresses, and bonnets, for civil war and other reenactments. Looking in her closet was like peering back through time into my little girl princess fantasy. I just about choked on my spit with awe, because she sews everything BY HAND.

And then I saw the socks that accompany these outfits. Hand-knitted, dense, warm wool socks. It just so happens that learning how to knit socks is an item on my creative bucket list. After I recovered from my near conniption, I asked her to teach me to knit. This generous friend of mine gifted me some yarn and a couple hours of her time to talk me through the anatomy of a sock.

So now there’s another woman in my life, one who takes me away from my sewing.  Her name is knitting, and she is addictively zen. The going is slow, but I hope to have a finished pair of socks in a few weeks.

Phlox Tunic- my version

Phlox tunic pattern

Long sleeves in winter. Hanging over my hands long. For me, they make the difference between being sorta warm/sorta itchy and actually forgetting that it is freezing outside.  Especially when worn under a sweater. So of course I was happy when asked to be a tester for Lindsay Woodward’s new tshirt pattern, Phlox. And I made the long sleeved version.

Phlox tunic pattern

It’s definitely a decent pattern and well drafted. The shoulders and sleeves fit nicely, the neckline is a good depth, and the sleeves taper to your wrists.  I would recommend sizing down if you want a tighter fitting tshirt. I made a size 6 in a rayon/spandex blend but ended up taking in the sides and the sleeves of the shirt by a few inches. Next time I make this tshirt, I’ll probably make a size 4 and use a less stretchy fabric. For all you petite gals, I’d recommend shortening the body by about an inch, depending on how long you want your shirt to be. The pattern is on sale now until 12/17, and it’s a great pattern for an advanced beginner. Phlox rox my sox off!

Another neat feature I added to my shirt was the thumb holes in the cuffs (tutorial here). Boy oh boy do I love how warm they make my hands.

Thumb hole tutorial

In other news, coat fabric has been found, ordered, and arrived last night. I’m excited to get started. Thanks for all your tips on where to look!  I just moved to a more permanent housing situation, and coat sewing is first on the list after I get settled in.



Just watched: the Advanced Style Documentary


The Advanced Style Documentary

I’m looking in the mirror. For the past couple years I’ve started to notice some fine lines on my forehead. But this time, I’m not feeling self-conscious of them… they seem less threatening. An image of a woman saying “there is no time limit to looking good” runs through my head, and I believe her.

Maybe it’s because I just watched Advanced Style- two hours of interviews with the most stylish people over 50 (mostly women) in NYC. They’re glamorous, eccentric, theatrical, sincere, and totally fabulous. The inspiration for the movie came from the street style blog of Ari Seth Cohen. The blog follows “the most stylish and creative older folks” who certainly have something to share about living life to the fullest. You think that you like vintage style and pops of color? These ladies and gents take it ten steps further.

Advanced Style

My favorite scene in the movie is when a woman in her 90’s describes how she made false eyelashes from her own hair. Can I get a “DIY Project” please? In case you’re wondering what those eyelashes look like, just look at the cover of the movie- she’s on it. But forget about eyelashes, because you want to watch this movie for the awesome clothes. From silk dressing gowns and funky leggings to flamboyant hats and carpet bag coats, you’ll want to get right back to your sewing machine to churn out more awe-inspiring creations.

Cohen does a magnificent job showing us the wonder he finds in their personalities and personal adornment. His vision is clear, and these women are gorgeous. He challenges notions of aging by showing older people who are genuinely enjoying life and feeling good about being themselves. They say they feel young, and they are full of life, livelier than many people in their 20s and 30s who I know. Indeed they are living life to the fullest- one woman goes so far as to die doing exactly that- she meets her maker at a fashion show during NY Fashion week. I bet she died of happiness.


My Nana is glamorous and beautiful, like the ladies in this movie. In old home videos she wears adorable mod dresses, gloves and boots. She still dresses like the stylish Manhattanite she was brought up to be, in cashmere turtlenecks and tailored shirtdresses.  But she worries that she is no longer young and attractive. Much as my sisters and I repeat the mantra of her beauty, it seems we will never convince her of this fact. She keenly feels our society’s obsession with youth and devaluation of age. This deeply saddens me. But. This movie gave me hope. I’m going to show it to her next time I see her. Maybe it will change her mind.

I definitely enjoyed the movie. If you only have an hour- watch the first half. It delves into the lives of the women and their style philosophies.  The second half of the movie is a bit slower (but still enjoyable). You can find the Advanced Style documentary on Netflix. All images remain the property of the Advanced Style blog.

The Advanced Style Documentary

Favoritest Sweatshirt

DIY Wrap Sweatshirt

This is my new bestie.

Her name is Coppelia.

Crazy Muslin made of old sweatshirts

I was pleasantly surprised that my crazy muslin fit

the first time around

so I lopped 1/2″ off the length

and proceeded to make version 2.0

in olive green stretch terry.

She makes my boobs look good.

She is comfortable.

She is very warm.

Happy Thanksgiving.

That is all.

DIY Wrap Sweatshirt



Snuggly thumbhole cuff tutorial

Snuggly thumb cuff

Winter sewing is in full swing in this part of the world. One detail I love to add to up the snuggle factor on shirts and sweatshirts I make to wear this time of year is to add thumbholes. I’m ALWAYS cold in the winter, and it’s really nice to be able to pull my sleeves over my hands. Once I need my hands back, I just slip my thumb out and push the sleeve down to my wrist. Here’s my method for adding thumbholes.

Thumb hole tutorial

When cutting out your pattern pieces, you need to cut your sleeves about an inch longer than normal (depending on the stretch of you fabric, it could be more). If you’re petite like me, just cut your sleeves the normal pattern length (rather than shortening them). Cut out the rest of your pieces as normal, and then construct your shirt. Stop before you sew the cuffs, and follow these instructions:

Thumb Hole Tutorial

1. Start with your cuff lying flat. 2. Fold it in half hotdog style. 3. Mark the seam allowance on one end. Also mark two short lines- the first is 3/4″ from the top of the cuff, the second is about 1″ lower. 4. Trace the curve of a quarter to connect the two lines. Remember to do the opposite side on the other cuff so you end up with one right and one left cuff. 5. Sew along the seam allowance line and around the outside of the curved line. If you have more substantial fabric, you might want to skip sewing the seam allowance. 6. Trim seam allowances. 7. Turn right side out. Then take the non-sewn end of the cuff and pull it over the sewn end. 8. Sew in a straight line along the matched ends, catching all 4 layers of fabric. 9. Turn right side out and sew to your shirt as normal.

Then enjoy having warm hands!

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