This is my method for making single fold bias tape. I used it to make the waistline detail on this dress:
Cut out strips of fabric on the bias that are about 1/2 to 1 inch wider than what you want your bias tape to be.
Sew/serge the strips of fabric together at a 45 degree angle until you get the length of fabric needed.
If you are using non-patterned fabric, it may help to draw lines down the wrong side of the fabric strip to mark where you are going to fold it.
To the ironing board now! You need an iron (obvs) and a piece of thin cardboard, or something else straight, hard and un-meltable. The cardboard helps to iron the fabric in a perfectly straight line. As long as you don’t put the iron directly on the cardboard, I wouldn’t worry about it scorching. Just stay with the iron while it is on, as usual.
Place the fabric right side down. Use the cardboard as a a guide to fold the fabric over 1/4 to 1/2 inch and iron in place. Do this all the way down one edge of the bias tape.
Then go down the opposite edge of the fabric and do the same thing, folding the fabric over and ironing it in place.
I like to turn the bias tape right side up and give it one last pressing along the entire length. That’s it!
Use in whatever projects call for single fold bias tape, or just amass a huge stash of it! (like my great grandmother did- I inherited an overflowing box of bias tape that I have managed to whittle down to one shoebox full)
Hello again friends! Another post, so soon after the last one, you ask? Well, when you work on 5 dresses at the same time, sometimes they all get to the finish line around the same time. Maybe that explains the last three months of me not posting. Let’s call this catching up on lost time, getting reacquainted.
…Sometimes I choose fabrics for sewing projects that I like to look at, but don’t want to wear. I have been better at this in recent years, but this project was (at first) a miss for me. It hung in my closet, never worn. It felt too mumsy, too busy and colorful. I’m a neutrals and solids kind of gal. Black, grey, tan, and occasionally some blue or green. I really do love the fabric, but felt overwhelmed in all that yellow.
Luckily, the day I recruited my sister to take pictures of it (picture above), she had the brilliant idea that I cut off the sleeves and make it a high-neck tank dress. Lightbulb! Somehow changing the silhouette makes the dress feel more modern, less twee. It is now in regular wardrobe rotation. It’s airy and nice for this hot hot Pittsburgh summer. And the yellow feels bright and summery rather than overwhelming.
Other details: Size XS with a small FBA on the side seams that I later took in when I converted it to sleeveless. I sewed and then serged all seams. Added pockets in the side seams. Bust detail fabric is a linen scrap leftover from another project. Belt is made of self-fabric and attached at side seams. I finished arm holes with bias tape. Fabric is Sleeping Porch cotton lawn from Firecracker Fabrics in Morningside.
So there I was with gorgeous fabric in one hand and pattern in the other, and the two didn’t match up (in case you missed my last post: I had accidentally ordered the wrong type of fabric and it was too stiff for my original project idea). I was pretty upset at myself, so I moped for about 24 hours until the idea popped into my head to hack Lekala #4552. I won it from Saturday Night Stitch’s giveaway a couple months ago and wanted to make a version without sleeves.
Below is my first rendition of Lekala #4552. It did not turn out well. I had originally made it in a black suiting from Joann Fabrics, but it looked like a very short nun’s habit or choir robe. I took these pictures, threw up my hands, and then threw the dress in my UFO pile:
The thing was, the body of the dress fit well, and I could see the pattern working without the sleeves. It was worth a second try. I omitted the sleeves, lengthened the skirt, sketched a new neckline on the black dress, and finally traced it back to the pattern. From there it was simple to cut and sew the dress in my Contrado fabric, do a little bit of fitting at the princess seams around the bust, and then add spaghetti straps.
Then came the pockets.
Pockets are easy to add when you’re just slapping it in the side seam, but which seam do you put it in when you have 4 seams to choose from?! I put them on the side panels, between the front and side seams:
This fabric and the pattern are a match made in heaven! I’m so pleased with how it turned out, and I know I will wear this dress so much this summer. I really only want to wear dresses in the summer, and this one has PoCKEtsES. Lookit what I can put in my pocket:
I’m a proud pocket mama.
I anti-pattern matched so the dress would look as busy as possible. I think I did a pretty good job of having no seams line up! (Dead serious. Promise.) The insides are serged and finished with bias tape (from da stash) and the hem is a rolled hem from my serger.
Again, thank you to Contrado fabrics for printing my design. They have a huge selection of high quality fabric. I definitely recommend them for fabric printing. You can read my other post about Contrado and this project here.
*I was provided this fabric free of charge by Contrado UK. All opinions are my own.*
Oh look I sewed something! It’s been a while- I think the last thing I made was the Cabernet Cardigan I sewed before I moved out of Richmond last year. My sewing machine has been active mainly mending and altering things I already own. But then winter abruptly turned into spring and I thought it would be nice to have another loose dress to throw on. Katie’s version of Maya reminded me of how much I wore the first Maya dress I made. I found this lightweight woven rayon (I think I added it to my last order- for the free shipping- from Fashion Fabrics Club or Girl Charlee. It’s been a while). 2 yards of 45″ rayon was ample fabric for this dress. Compared to my last Maya, the construction was very different.
Lots of pictures after these construction details:
I cut a size 2 of the bodice (down from a size 4 on the last dress) and did a full bust adjustment using this tutorial. Picture below.
Then I added a 3/4″ seam allowance to the bottom of both the front and back pattern pieces
I cut a rectangle for the front of the skirt that was 32 x 26″ and one for the back that was 34 x 26″ (big booty adjustment).
I sewed french seams on the shoulders and sides of the bodice, and on the sides of the skirt
Then I used bias tape to finish the neck and armholes (instead of the facings provided in the pattern)
The skirt was shirred until it was the size of the bodice waist and attached using a 3/4″ seam allowance
The seam allowance was overlocked and then pressed up toward the bodice. It was sewn down as close to the edge as possible, leaving space for 1/2″ elastic to be inserted (this video was helpful)
I inserted a piece of elastic the size of my waist, sewed the ends together and then finished the waistband.
I made a 2″ hem at the bottom of the skirt for some extra weight.
Here you can see the difference between the original front bodice pattern (right) and the adjusted piece (left- the original is traced on it in blue)
Here are the pretty bias tape/french seam finished insides and the hem:
I might add some patch pockets on later this summer if having a dress sans pockets proves to be impractical (it probably will be…)
When I first dipped my toes into making clothes, upcycling- that is turning a piece of clothing you don’t want to wear into something you do want to wear- was an easy, nonthreatening way to start. Through reading sites like New Dress A Day and Paris Ciel, and with practice, I got better at recognizing pieces with potential and transforming them. My most-worn pieces to date include this blue sundress and this red button down .
The brown maxi dress pictured here is my latest success. When I was still living in Philly, post Philly-blogger-meetup, Andrea and I went thrifting (sorry for all that name dropping). She spied this beauty at Philly AIDS Thrift, and despite my reluctance at the $15 price tag convinced me to buy it.
The first thing I focus on when choosing a piece of clothing to upcycle is the fit. If the part of the dress I want to keep fits- I keep it. It is easy to change the hem length, but can be much harder to change the shoulders or waist. On this dress the bodice fit perfectly. No changes needed there. The first thing I did was cut about 7″ off of the skirt length and used my serger to sew an easy rolled hem. Be careful while hemming knits- removing fabric (and weight that stretches the fabric out) allows the hem to spring up. The hem can end up shorter than you intend, so it’s best to cut fabric off a little at a time.
Next I had to address the matter of boobage. You can see my bra in the before picture- the neckline plunges waaay too low. I sewed the sides of the neckline together with a blind stitch to add a couple inches of coverage. You can see in the above picture what a difference a couple inches make to the neckline.
After that, I chopped the sleeves off, leaving some space below the arm. The original sleeves attached to the band at the bottom of the bodice, so I needed to leave fabric there so I could raise the armhole. I pinched the fabric together and sewed it in a straight line, creating a new side seam. You can see the line down the middle of the V under the arm hole that this created:
The last thing I needed to do was finish the straps and neckline. I used tailors chalk to draw the neckline I wanted on the front and back of the dress. Sometimes I make a paper pattern to ensure that both sides are even, but I eyeballed it on this dress since I wasn’t making a super drastic change. I widened the front neckline by about an inch, narrowed the straps, and lowered the back of the dress by 2 inches.
The neckline and straps were intimidating but not very difficult. I used bias tape to finish the edges, first pinning and stitching the bias tape along the chalk lines, then trimming off the extra fabric, and finally turning the bias tape under and topstitching it in place. The dress was originally finished with facings, and I wanted to keep this feature. I made sure to catch the facings as I sewed the bias tape.
And then I was done. Another great dress added to my closet. Have you had any upcycling successes recently? What techniques do you use to complete an upcycle?
I found the kimonos in a used bookstore, on a rack tucked behind rows of shelves. I had ducked into the shop in DC one brisk day and had been searching through the handicraft section for books to add to my sewing library. Finding nothing of interest, I turned to browse the rest of the store, and came upon a rack crammed with kimonos. My hands eagerly turned them inside out so I could gaze at the seams, ran down the collars to feel the interfacing, examined the slits, hems and finishes and held each one up to see the size. I had just picked up another couple yards of silk (hadn’t bought enough the first time), and was planning on getting to work on my kimono when I got home. Good timing.
This is the free kimono pattern by Ralph Pink. I graded from a UK 10 to a US size 6, and then made it petite. This basically involved a lot of chopping and folding and retaping of all the pattern pieces (a couple inches widthwise and about 10 inches off of the length). I had to redraw the neckline piece but everything else was straightforward (tell me in the comments if you want to know more about this). The only piece I interfaced was the neckline, with medium-heavy weight fusible interfacing. The fabric is so slippery that it needs a structural neckline to keep the garment on the wearer. The fabric- all 4.5 yards- is from the Silk Trading Company in Richmond- best fabric store in town!
The pattern doesn’t have instructions, but construction is straightforward. If you used a less tricky fabric than silk, it could be an easy beginner project. I used mostly french seams (there are some seams on the sleeves that are partway open, so I just serged them, rolled them under twice and topstitched). The hem I attached bias binding from my never ending bias tape stash, turned it under and topstitched (so the curved hem would have a little more weight). The neckline I had originally burrito’d before adding the sleeves, but after realizing I had attached it backwards I had to rip it off and sew it back on. So now there’s some topstitching, but I like it more than I thought I would. The sleeves end mid forearm; the length hits just above my ankles. Just the right lengths to cover me without getting in the way.
The kimono has quickly become a staple in my wardrobe (<- code for “I wear it every single morning instead of getting dressed”). It is comfortable and slinky and just the right weight for hanging out and reading/eating breakfast/sewing on a cool spring morning. Well worth the $$ spent on the gorgeous silk fabric. As long as I don’t cook in it I’m confident it will hold up and last for years. Which is good because it’s been getting tons of use and it feels soooo good to wear.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is this gorgeous nature reserve outside of the city. Paths meander through fields, forests, and farms. Each time you reach the top of a steep hill there is another breathtaking view to see. It is one of my favorite hiking spots. I always feel accomplished and recharged after a couple hours there. Our hike there was almost too warm for layers, but it got windy once we hiked up high and I was glad to have this cardigan with me.
I found this soft, deep blue sweater that used to be my dad’s (read: too big, but nice and long!). It was perfect to make into a long cardigan.
I cut the sweater open straight down the front and around the neck.
I used some leftover flannel from making pajama pants to make bias tape to cover the raw edges of the sweater.
Then I slimmed the sweater down. I turned it inside out and used chalk to draw a new seam line before I pinned, sewed, and trimmed the seam.
Here it is all done and keeping me warm.
Also, that tank top is a dress that I cut off at the waistline. The dress was way too short but still fit up top.
Here’s to a successful hike!
tank top / cardigan // DIY :: shorts / northface :: shoes / socks // old :: earrings // art fair
Ok so I seriously didn’t know what to call this post- Plaid Dress Redo? Boring title, and this dress is anything but! I found this flannel plaid dress at the goodwill off of 202 right near the Delaware border, and it was just so scrumptious I had to do something with it. I was all like, “is it a nightgown or a dress?” It was certainly fitted at the waist like a dress, and almost perfectly my size (except for the button hole at the bust- this is a common problem for me), but the length was waay nightgown-ish.
First thing I did was get rid of the boob button gap. I let out the bust about a half inch at the side seams.
You can see the new seam (in grey thread), and the little holes that were the original seam in this picture. I also moved the button in the front of the dress over about 1/4 inch. This made enough room to minimize the boob button gap.
Then I cut the dress above knee level. At this point, I decided I wanted the skirt a little less A-line and a little more pencil, so I marked, tapered, and serged it. I turned the hem under 1.5 inches and topstitched it.
I saw this dress online that I liked, and decided to add a similar detail to the waist of my dress. Er ma gerd Pinspiration.
I made some bias tape (tutorial to follow) and pinned it in place. My nifty new dress form was a big help with this.
One great thing about this dress is all the red topstitching- this made alterations very easy because I could topstitch without it looking incongruous with the rest of the dress. I topstitched along the buttons below the hips to keep them from popping open.
Loving this dress, and the momentary warm weather!