Category Archives: Sewing Projects

Yellow Clover

Yellow Clover dress

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.

Clover dress

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.

Yellow Clover Dress

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.

Yellow Clover Dress

 

Yellow Clover Dress

Potholders

DIY pot holders

Another project I made this summer was potholders. They are such an easy and quick project (and they make good gifts). The longest part was waiting for the heat-insulated fabric to arrive in the mail.

DIY pot holders

I used this tutorial to make the square pot holders, and adapted it for the oval ones. Blue fabric is leftover scraps from a Maya dress I made, wood grain fabric is from Quilt Sandwich, and green is from Firecracker Fabrics.

Pot Holder DIY

Not the most beautiful job I’ve ever done with bias tape, but very functional.

Pot Holder DIY

Madewell copycat dress

Madewell copycat dress

Hello! I’ve been away for a while, busy with work, applying to grad school (and getting in), and so many weddings. I have a bunch of half-finished dressing sitting around my apartment, including a couple Clovers (finished soon, hopefully), another copycat dress and… drum roll please… my sister’s wedding dress! There will definitely be pictures of that coming up. My time sewing lately has been spent either on alterations, mending, or the wedding dress. I did a bunch of thrift store hunting and finding, and found a couple gems that I had fun altering. The only thing I’ve sewn from scratch (that isn’t sitting in my UFO pile) recently is this cute little black number.

Madewell copycat dress

I found this dress on super sale at Madewell this winter, and loved wearing it with leggings and socks:

I was sad to pack it away when the weather got warm. I loved the fabric, cut and length. I had a couple yards of dry stretch cotton from Mood that was the exact same weight and stretch as the original dress. So, I used it to make a pattern for this warm-weather version. I laid the dress flat and traced it, then folded my traced version in half, trued the lines, and added seam allowances and a scoop neck.  Madewell copycat dress

I made this dress while my serger was in the shop; it was a challenge to sew a knit dress with only my regular sewing machine. I used my walking foot most of the time. I also experimented with different lengths/widths of zig-zag stitches on scrap fabric before sewing the dress. For the gathered waist, there is a strip of fabric zig-zag stitched on top and bottom around the waistline of the dress, with elastic inserted after.

Madewell copycat dress

It was a quick and simple project, and hopefully one I’ll repeat in another color.

My sister and I took a walk with her dog in Frick Park a few weeks ago. I must have been laughing at something funny the dog was doing in this pic.

Madewell copycat dress

 

 

Sewn // Cabernet Cardigan II

 

Cabernet Cardigan

Aaand we’re back with some seasonally appropriate clothing. Specifically, my latest Cabernet Cardigan. I have made the long version before in a sweatshirt knit, and wanted to try the shorter version in a sweater knit. The fabric is a polyester sweater knit from Joann Fabrics.  I made View C in an XS, no alterations. The pattern is drafted for petite sizes and has options for both busty and less busty people. I used the version with darts (for more busty people), but I think the fabric has enough stretch that I didn’t need it. I think I’d also like to add another button at the top since there is more room in the bust than I need. It’s so nice to be able to make a pattern straight out of the package with minimal alterations. Yay for petite patterns!

Cabernet Cardigan

The only change I made after sewing it up was to slim down the sleeves. the stripes originally matched up at the seams but are a bit offset since I changed the width. The stripes do match up at the sides  (see above picture) and at the front, where it really counts! All seams are serged. Buttons are beige buttons from my stash.

Promise I’m not in a bathroom in these pictures- the S.N.O.W has relegated me to my kitchen, which has tile on the walls. Also sparkly black and gold linoleum and wood paneling. Wonderfully retro.

Cabernet Cardigan

Cabernet Cardigan

 

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

 

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