Category Archives: Sewing Projects

Sewn // Contrado fabrics and Lekala #4552 // post 2 of 2

Poppy dress with Contrado fabrics

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.

Poppy dress with Contrado fabrics

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 I had originally made it in a black suiting from Joann Fabrics, but it looked like a very short nun’s habit or choir robe.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.

Poppy dress with Contrado fabrics

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.

Poppy dress with Contrado fabrics
Pretending like it’s summer in my kitchen

 

*I was provided this fabric free of charge by Contrado UK. All opinions are my own.*

Sewn // Contrado fabrics and Lekala #4552 // post 1 of 2

OMG guysss lookatthisfabric. Isn’t it sweet? My sewing friend was at my house looking through my stash and she said, “I like this fabric, where did you get it?” Little did she know… I designed it! Mwah haha. The fabulous people over at Contrado fabrics contacted me last month about designing fabric and I jumped at the chance. I put a lot of time and thought into both the design of the fabric (and the dress I made from it) and Voila! If you want to skip the rest of the words, here’s a spoiler: it’s great fabric!

So I, like everyone else on Pinterest, was fairly obsessed with Bliss and Mischief’s last collection (2016). It was heavy on embroidered flowers with a western/feminine feel, lush and earthy and also mucho $$$$$.

I had to have some of that poppy goodness for myself, so I based my design on it. Here’s the block I came up with (feel free to download and use in your own home fabric or printing projects):

 

Yaaaaaahhh it’s so good it could have come straight from the source. To be fair and respect B&M copyright I found some pictures of poppies on google images and then sketched them in a similar style. I then traced the images in pen, scanned them into the computer and played around with the arrangement and colors in Photoshop (I had help from a friend).

 

Then I uploaded it to Contrado’s website… 

The good:

The fabric- Their collection is extensive. The stack of samples they sent me was like 5 inches thick. I had a hard time deciding on what fabric to choose! The fabric quality is incredible. I had my design printed on the Cotton Satin, which is a great dress or bottom weight fabric.  It was easy to cut, sew, and press, and feels luxurious and silky smooth to wear.

so many swatches

Printing quality- the colors are true to my design, and the printing is clear. It hardly faded when I washed it (which I’ve only done once, so time will tell).

Customer service- I had a bazillion questions (and had trouble finding help articles to answer said questions), but customer service was prompt, friendly, and helpful.

The so-so:

Beware the basting stitches- when I ripped out my basting stitches along the bottom of the pockets, a small amount of the dye came with them. You can’t tell from far away, but there are tiny little white dots along the stitching line. So be careful when seam ripping with the dyed fabric. I imagine that if I had stitched and ripped more than once, it would be more noticeable.

 

The bad:

Online platform- it leaves a lot to be desired. It is confusing to use and fairly unintuitive, especially compared to Spoonflower (another fabric printing website that I’ve used only once). Many of the help articles I clicked on were nonexistent (so I emailed customer service who was prompt and very helpful). It is easy to see how the whole piece will look printed out, but it’s difficult to zoom in. I hoped I had done everything correctly and took a leap of faith when I hit the “order” button. That being said, now that I’ve used Contrado and am more familiar with the online software for ordering your design, I think it would be easier the second time around.

Double check which fabric you order– The fabric names on the swatches are sometimes different than the names on the website, so I accidentally ordered the wrong fabric. I had to revise my sewing plans after this (luckily I had a more suitable pattern on hand). I had originally tried to order the cotton/silk satin blend to make a Clover dress (from Papercut Patterns), but I got the cotton satin (without silk), which is much stiffer. So I made a heavily hacked version of Lekala #4552. Which you can read about in my next post (check back soon!).

Conclusion: Although the design process was a lot of learning and the online side of things was a bit of a headache, once I had the fabric in hand, I really enjoyed working with it. If I’m looking for fabric printing in the future, I will consider Contrado because they have such a wide range of fabrics and produce a high-quality product.

I’ll post the dress I made with this fabric in a few days. Bye for now.

*I was provided this fabric free of charge by Contrado UK. All opinions are my own.*

Sewn // How to Alter a Sweater and Maxi Skirt

One perk of big city livin’- people appreciate style. Somehow, I don’t feel costumey when I dress up these days. By dress up I mean wearing skirts, jewelry, boots, anything nicer than jeans, work boots, and a sweatshirt. It’s fun too working on projects that are less utilitarian than mending or adding patch pockets (most of what I did living in Virginia). But one downside of Pittsburgh- it’s cold! Everything I’ve sewn lately is really warm (I’m dreaming of some flannel-lined pants next).  Both the sweater and the skirt were thrift store finds- too big but in fabrics I adored. The brown skirt is a soft brown twill on one side, and satin on the inside. The sweater is a wool/polyester blend.I’m really happy with how this outfit turned out and both pieces have gotten a lot of wear.

*Update* As I was writing this post I happened to see this picture on Reformation’s website:

Pretty darn close to my outfit. Didn’t even realize I was so on-trend with this one. Haha.

how to alter thrift store clothes

I digress. Toning down the screaming 80’s vibe on the sweater was simple. I turned it inside out and took in the ballooning sleeves and raised the armhole. I started with 3 inches at the underarm, tapering to nothing at the cuff.  I straight stitched and then serged the raw edge.

Before:

upcycled sweater

After:

upcycled sweater

The skirt was a little more complicated. It has elastic in the back and buttons on one side that I wanted to save, so I only had one side to work with. I  needed to take it in from a size 10 to a size 4 and recreate the original side slit.

upcycled skirt

First I seam ripped open the side without buttons:

upcycled skirt

Then I pinned, marked, and sewed a new side seam. I made sure to leave room for the slit. Next, I turned under the seam allowance around the side slit and sewed it down.

upcycled skirt

I trimmed and serged the seam allowance:

upcycled skirt

And made sure to tack the seam allowance at the waistband:

upcycled skirt

And that’s it! Two quick, cute projects to keep me warm.

how to alter thrift store clothes

how to alter thrift store clothes

 

Sewn // Petite Black Hemlock

Petite Hemlock tshirt

Another month past and nary a post. I guess I’ll have to blame it on being busy again. This month has been all about my apartment. Painting, finding furniture (the living room had only a couch until a couple weeks ago), hanging curtains and pictures, organizing closets and building a dresser. Also getting settled in at my new job, new routine, making friends. Things are going as well as I could expect from such a sudden move. My sister and much of my extended family live nearby and have been very welcoming; not a week goes by that doesn’t see me eating at a relative’s table. Nothing beats having so much family around!

Anyway, rather than let another month of radio silence go by, I thought I’d dig up an unposted project from a couple years ago to share- it’s a Hemlock tshirt made from black cotton tissue jersey from fabric.com.

Petite Hemlock

I made this shirt a few years ago (when I made this one), but never ended up photographing it. Or even wearing it much (I was into wearing colors back then). I found it packed up recently and I’m glad I did, because it has become one of my most-worn shirts. Which is surprising, because loose, drop-shoulder tops are uncommon in my wardrobe. Boxy shapes usually overwhelm my petite frame, but I think a combination of shortening the hem a few inches and lengthening the sleeves with cuffs make this shirt work. I also widened the neckline a tiny bit and cut the front of the shirt as two pieces. I thought a seam running down the front of the shirt would break up the vast expanse of fabric and add some visual interest, and I like how it turned out. Let’s call it a sleeper hit, shall we?

Petite Hemlock

 

 

 

 

Sewn // Sister’s Swimsuit

jill bikini

It’s bikini time again! As promised, here are pictures of the bikini I made for my sister. I used the same pattern for the bottoms as I did for mine (mine are size medium, hers are small). For the top, she and I made some drawings and then I drafted the pattern from her measurements.  I made this while we were living about 6 hours apart, so I’m happy to say that it fit her on the first try!  It is princess seamed and I used fold-over-elastic to finish the arms and back. The neckline has 1/4″ elastic sewn into it and the straps are from an old bra. She is graciously allowing me to post pictures of her on my blog (thanks sis).

And in other news, it looks like I may be moving to Pittsburgh for a job. Unemployment and tons of free sewing time was fun, but I’m ready to get back to work. Props to all you ladies who make sewing a full-time thing.

Sewn // Weston shorts

Weston Shorts

Shorts- a staple of summer wardrobes all across the western world. Pair them with a t-shirt and sandals in the summer and a sweatshirt and boots in the fall. High waisted, low-riders, with and without pockets, I love shorts. When Seamwork released Weston with an estimated sewing time of 2 hours, I was sold. I picked up some stretch denim while buying interfacing and backing for my sister’s graduation gift (click here to see the tshirt quilt I made) and happily got to work.

Weston Shorts

Seamwork says that Weston takes 2 hours. Yeah no. This is my second Seamwork project (and not the last), and both have taken me much longer than the instructions said. It’s like I’m playing mini golf with my family- par is 3 shots, but it takes me 8 to get that tiny ball in the hole. Maybe I’m a slow sewer, maybe I’m more meticulous about fit, or maybe Colette’s pattern blocks don’t mimic my body well. Whatever the reason, I’m well over par. Par for this pattern was 2 hours. Instead, it took me 3 afternoons, 2 muslins, and many fittings.

Modifications:

  • narrowed waistband by 1″ (to 1.5″)
  • shortened inseam to 2″and reshaped hem
  • lengthened darts in front
  • lengthened and widened darts in back
  • 1.5″ swayback adjustment at center back seam
  • thin thigh adjustment/pivot crotch down
  • added back pockets
  • lotsa pretty topstitching with gold-orange thread

Detail shots!

Weston Shorts

Weston Shorts

Weston Shorts

There are still some things I’d change about these shorts. I’d like to make another version with a lower waistband, and I’d like to try to fix some of the fit issues around the inner thigh/crotch area (it’s all at once baggy and riding up in my crotch a little (but if they don’t ride up a little, then they’re not high-waisted shorts, right?)). Also mini wedgie? If you have any ideas on how to fix these issues, please share.  This pattern has potential to become overall shorts…

Weston Shorts

Yay yay yay shorts. I have been shaking my shorts-clad butt everywhere. My family is sick of hearing me sing the shorts song. Which goes something like, “shorts shorts shorts. I made shorts.” When I was putting the back pockets on I asked my mom to take a picture of my butt so I could see it. She was like, “umm why?” (understandably), but was of course happy to do it once I explained it was in the name of pocket placement.

And I think this is my first pair of shorts I’ve ever made that wasn’t PJs or for someone else. Success. Being unemployed has its perks. #freetime

Oh yeah I’m unemployed right now. I left Virginia and moved back to Philly! So if you’re in the area, feel free to hit me up for coffee/tea/fabric shopping (once I get a job)/thrifting/knitting or sewing dates.

Weston Shorts

 

Sewn // Seneca skirt

Seneca skirt

After seeing the Seneca pattern, I bought myself a Seamwork subscription a few months ago. I made a promise to myself that as long as I was making at least one of the patterns every month, I would keep the subscription. But this skirt is as far as I got. So no more subscription. For better or worse, I think I’m ready to move on to more complicated projects. Two items- jeans and a coat- are not only lacking from my wardrobe but calling  me to make them. I’m going to try to focus my creative efforts on them for the rest of this year. Maybe I’ll even take a jeans or coat-making class. Once I’m done with all my current projects, of course. I did just finish my sister’s bikini which I’ll have pictures of shortly.

Seneca skirt

I altered the pockets so they would attach at the waistband. I didn’t want pockets that hung down when I put things in them. This made the waistband slightly more bulky, but it was worth it for functionality’s sake. I drafted the pocket piece by placing the original pocket pattern piece on top of the skirt pattern, matching them at the circles and side seams. Then I added a piece to the pocket by drawing a curved line to the top of the skirt piece to extend the pocket to the waistline. I traced the original side seam and waistline. I sewed the pocket to the skirt following all directions. I also made sure to catch the top of the pocket in the front waistband seam. That’s it.

Seneca skirt extended pocket

Seneca skirt

Unaltered, the Seneca skirt is a little long and heavy for my petite frame. If I make it again, I’ll shorten it and use a lighter fabric. I made this version from a grey ponte knit, which is heavier than recommended. Still, it’s sporty and casual and very loungey-comfortable. It will be worn more this fall. Especially once I figure out what warmer shirts to wear with it. And probably with sneakers instead of rain boots.

Seneca skirt

Sewn // Black High-Waisted DIY Bikini

high-waisted DIY bikini

I’d like to pause the sock deluge to say: I made another DIY bikini! It’s been 2 years (almost exactly) since I last dipped my toe into swimsuit sewing. I lost the bottoms to the first bikini 🙁 so I am making a couple more matching sister bikinis (if you’re making one why not make two? sister pictures later). I made mine first since *lapsed years=forgetfulness* and I didn’t want to mess hers up. The bottoms are the same pattern as last time (this pattern– pages 5 to 8- with a few inches added to the top), plus an elastic band around the top. The top is self drafted. I traced a stretchy halter top for the front, and used the back piece (page 4) I had drafted for my last bikini top.

high-waisted DIY bikini

The top is lined with self-fabric for more  support, since I wanted more of a sports-bra type top. I sewed 1″ elastic into the bottom band (all the way around this time, not just in front) and used fold-over elastic to finish the top seams. All fabric and elastic is from fabric.com. Their fold over elastic is a much better price than JoAnn’s.

high-waisted DIY bikini

I also attached the elastic differently for this swimsuit. On the last bikini, I was afraid of stitching the elastic directly to the fabric. Instead, I made channels for the elastic and then inserted it.  It kept twisting in its channels, especially around my legs, which was hella annoying. So I took the plunge and stitched the elastic directly to the fabric on this bikini. I was nervous but it WORKED! I used a regular zig-zag stitch for the 1/4″ elastic on the bottom and the widest 3-step zig zag that my machine would do on the 1″ and fold over elastic. Always remember to sew along the bottom edge of the elastic, never down the middle. I had to rip out some stitches once I realized the edge of the elastic was curling up. But it’s nice now. Observe:

high-waisted DIY bikini

This bikini was ocean-tested on a trip to VA Beach and it held up! IMO, that’s the true test of any swimsuit.

There are a couple things I would change about the fit of the top, like angling the side seams toward the bottom of the bust and maybe putting some princess seam lines in to eliminate the unintentional gathers, but I’ll apply those to my sister’s bikini. I also used my walking foot for the first time I can remember. It is awesome. New favorite foot (besides the two I walk on).

high-waisted DIY bikini

Matchy-matchy with mom

matching skirts

Remember those matching mother-daughter outfits that were popular in the 80’s and 90’s? Here’s a modern take on a blast from the past. When my mom saw the skirt I made last week, she liked it so much that she asked me to make her the exact same thing (except about 5 inches shorter). Then I picked up an almost matching crop top for her to wear. We got together for her birthday this weekend and wore matching outfits for the first time in years.  I think we’re a pretty cute pair in our ensembles.

Back in brown

brown linen skirt

As soon as I wrote my last post I realized something- I didn’t have the right fabric for the projects I wanted to make. I had been so wrapped up in my little world, obsessed with needing to finish the projects in front of me before I’d let myself start anything new. Of course knitting was appealing (and it still is… but my hands need a rest) when I wouldn’t let myself have any fun with sewing. So I went back to the drawing board, and this is what I came up with. It’s a brown linen skirt that ends just above my ankles.

brown linen skirt diy

 

I traced the pattern from my favorite winter skirt and came up with one slightly wonky pattern piece. Cut on the bias, the 4 panels of this skirt easily consumed 3 yards of fabric.

DSC_0094 (2)

 

The waistband is a simple, interfaced rectangle. The 7″ not-so-invisible zipper is sewn into the left side of the skirt. There are seams running down the center front and back of the skirt. The hem is finished with stretchy lace and topstitched (a simple way to get those bias seams to lie flat). I didn’t finish the inside seams because they are all on the bias, and therefore won’t fray.

inside details

Paired with a crop top and birkenstocks, it’s one of two skirts I’m most likely to pull out on a hot summer day. I think I just needed to take a break from tricky, lengthy projects to return to some simple, feel-good pieces. This skirt was finished in a couple afternoons with plenty of breaks, air conditioning, and iced tea.

E-DSC_0104 (2)

 

 

There is a small mistake on the center back seam- I didn’t interface it so it stretched out, and I had to take out a couple inches from the the top of the waistband and CB seam (tapering to nothing at the bum). It left me with some weird whiskers in the back, but they’re not too noticeable (I hope). Next skirt I’ll interface the waistband the entire way around.

linen skirt waistband detail

E-DSC_0182 (2)

linen skirt hem

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