June 30, 2011

Maxi Dress Inspiration

So I bought some fabric the other day and I'm feeling all full of sewing inspiration! Specifically for maxi dresses this summer.

Do you ever feel like your sewing can never catch up with the seasons? It's already been summer for two months here in Texas and I'm just now starting to sew some summer essentials.

Good thing for me summer lasts most of the year here but if I lived more north I'd have to trade my soon-to-be maxi dress in for some heavy boots in three months time. What I really should be doing is sewing winter clothes so I can have the whole season to wear them!

This original inspiration dress is from Free People. It is difficult to tell from the photo but the dress is v-neck. The model is wearing a cami underneath. The pattern is Butterick 5489. I want to use this abstract floral jersey knit from Fabric.com and the beaded trim is from M&J Trims.

I'll leave off the belt tie in the pattern and instead just gather the back with some elastic, probably.

The inspiration dress is also made from woven fabric not knit and it also has tiers of fabric on the skirt. To make things simple I'll leave the tiers out.

I'll add the trim around the the neck and waist just to jazz things up a little.

Also while I was perusing Free People I found this awesome coral colored jersey maxi skirt. When I went to Hancock Fabrics the other day I discovered some awesome pink jersey. While it wasn't the exact color match it did match the weight of the fabric.

I don't have a pattern but it seems pretty easy to replicate. Elastic waist and probably a semi circle shape to the skirt with a ruffle at the edges.

June 28, 2011

Shopping Spree

This is a first for me - I bought fabric online. I have never before done it because I like feeling the fabric before I buy. You can't do that online but since I figure I have enough experience with knit fabrics by now I decided to give it a chance and ordered some fabric. And then because if I bought more stuff I'd get free shipping I loaded up my virtual shopping cart.

Not everything in the photo below was ordered online. Hancock fabrics was having a sale on Butterick patterns and I needed to pick up more stuff that was on sale anyway. And on the walk down the store isle to that "more stuff" I found this awesome pink jersey on super sale and next thing I knew I was broke (just kidding, but my wallet did take a hit!)


Clockwise from the top left -
  • Super cheap (and super sheer!) Swiss dot from fabric.com. Thinking about using it to make an anthropologie inspired dress.
  • Abstract floral jersey from fabric.com. Going to me a maxi dress but more on that later.
  • Assorted machine needles from Hancock. Because that darn quilt busted up all my needles!
  • Ikat knit fabric from fabric.com to go along with the Kwik Sew pattern, the flesh tone swim suit lining and the swim elastic (all from Hancock). Once I buy some foam bra cups I can start working on that swim suit I was talking about.
  • Super soft pink jersey from Hancock Fabrics. Thinking about making a maxi skirt but more on that later as well.
  • White and orange trim from fabric.com. At this point I was just trying to reach my free shipping total, ha!
  • White burnout jersey from fabric.com. Same as the trim - I thought, why not? It's cheap, I'll just buy a yard. Maybe I'll make a cool layering top out of it?
  • Butterick 5599 and 5489 - just stocking up while they're on sale.
I normally don't buy this much fabric at one time. Nor do I often buy fabric without a pre-set plan already in mind (like with the burnout jersey and swiss dot). Have you ever bout fabric online? Any top picks for fabric sites? Do you ever buy fabric "just 'cause" without a pattern or idea for what to do with it ahead of time?

June 26, 2011

Sparkly Linen Dress

New Look 6774 Linen Dress

This is an example of one of those sewing projects that stays in the closet unworn for one reason or another.

The last time (and only time) I wore this dress was at my friend's bachelorette party over two years ago.


The dress is made with a New Look pattern that I really like, the problem was the wrong fabric. I chose a linen blend with a metalic sheen but it is much too stiff for this dress.

One of those rookie mistakes that I've learned from. Wrong fabric and picking the wrong size were probably my biggest mistakes I made early on. Did you make any mistakes that you had to learn from when you first started sewing?

I still like the style and I'd like to try making the pattern again - maybe in the maxi dress version?

June 24, 2011

Wearable Handmade

Clothes Closet

I did a quick count of how many clothing items I have in my closet that I've sewn myself. Not including minor restyle or alterations I counted 34.

And how many of those 34 have I actually worn out of the house more than once or twice? 16. That's less than half of the total!

Well, not exactly. This doesn't include what is in the dirty clothes pile or in drawers. If it's dirty that's a good guarantee that I wear it on a regular basis. And in my drawers I mostly have knits and I started sewing knits when I had more experience so I wear nearly all of those.

But it is interesting to look at why I don't wear so many things that I've made.

Most of these unwearables are from my early days of clothes sewing. The main issue I think is that I used to always pick the wrong fabric for projects - too stiff or too slippery.

The second issue is fit. At the start of my sewing adventure I never knew what size to cut.

The third problem I have is style, like a skirt or dress just isn't something I'd usually wear. Or it's too fancy and I have no place special to go. I just need to admit to myself that I have no reason to be sewing cocktail style dresses.

The last thing is probably the need for special undergarments. I hate having to wear a slip or a special bra for something. Things like that end up never worn.

How much of your handmade wardrobe is wearable? Do you keep your clothes that don't work just because you made them or do you donate those pieces? Or do you remake them into something else?

June 23, 2011

Re-styled Bookshelves

Re-styled bookshelves

Here's the first glimpse into my new craft room and a little decorative restyle for you.

I have two of these bookshelves that were built by an older gentleman living in a neighborhood near me who made bookshelves for fun.

One shelf is in my closet holding all my paper crafting and gift wrapping supplies and then the other shelf is on a small wall between the door to the room and the closet. It holds sewing patterns, candles and random other stuff. I'm not sure if I want to keep it this way yet but we'll see.

Dining room/craft room

I first painted them red but after three years the shelves had so many scratches and marks on them they really needed a new paint job.

You can see a picture of the old red color close up (complete with some paint scratches) here.

I sanded the shelves down slightly with an electric sander first.

I painted the original red color on the shelves with a roller which I didn't like because when the roller slipped it left streaks in the paint in a few places so when I repainted I used white spray paint. 7 cans worth! Ugh, maybe just buying a quart and rolling would have been cheaper.

Then I decided to layer the back of the insides of the shelves with wood grain contact paper.

I had trouble getting the contact paper to stick to the back of the bookshelves without sticking to itself as well.

So to make things simple I put rolled masking tape on the bookshelves and stuck the contact paper (with it's backing included) onto the tape and smoothed it out. Makin' it work!

June 21, 2011

Blue Tunic - Simplicity 2191

Blue tunic

I have this problem that I'm drawn to pattern designs that I love on paper but not when wearing them. Sometimes it is a patten that looks good on me but it's not really my style or other times I like the pattern style but maybe it looks heinous on me..

I think this top is a little of both. I love the idea of tunics like this but I don't think it's my style. On the other hand the fit is a little off.

Blue tunic

This Simplicity 2191 pattern is sized for different bra sizes. Now, I usually just make one size smaller than it says on the package when I made a Simplicity pattern and that always works well for me. Maybe with these cup size things it's different.

Perhaps I should have made a 14 instead of 12? Or maybe my girls are bigger than I thought they were.

Blue tunic

I'm not sure but either way I went back and re-sewed all the vertical seams at 3/8th in instead of 5/8th from the bust line down in front and from the arm hole down on the sides. The shirt was way too tight in the hips so I shortened the hem a little more than the pattern calls for.

I also need to iron out those seams. There are still little thread bits leftover from seam ripping, too! Ha!

I looked the pattern up on Pattern Review and they only had one review and that was for the pants. However that reviewer also mentioned that the pants were very tight. I wonder if the whole pattern is on the small side and it isn't just me?

Blue tunic

I also sewed on a button and made a loop on the back. The pattern wants you to put in a zipper but I think zippers in shirts are pretty lame.

Now it fits pretty well at least but I'm still not feeling the tunic all that much.

Blue tunic

I was going for a kind of Anthropologie vibe with the light color and incorporating mixed details like the little white trim and the silver accent buttons.

Blue tunic

Also I put the top facing towards the outside instead of on the inside (like the sleeve cuffs) so I could stitch the trim along the edge.

Maybe if I tucked it into a skirt I'd like it more. Eh, maybe this one will just stay in the closet for awhile. What do you think?

June 20, 2011

Swim Suit Inspiration

What kind of garment have you never attempted to sew? Maybe it seemed too complicated or time consuming or maybe you needed special equipment?

For me that's swimsuits. In theory they should be quick and easy - you don't need a lot of fabric, not a lot of seams to sew, zig zag stitch all around. But when you look at the details and supply requirements it gets tricky. You need swim elastic, foam bra cups, a serger, lining fabric, fabric needs to be made from certain material, etc.

It doesn't help that there's a lack of good swim patterns out there.

I already bought this pattern from Kwik Sew. I want to make the strapless version.

But first I'm going to try my hand at another Kwik Sew pattern. I saw this cute one piece online and noticed that it looked very similar to a pattern I found. And then I discovered some cool ikat patterned fabric that I could use to recreate the style.

Original swimsuit from Thread Sense. Pattern is Kwik Sew 3695. The rayon/spandex print fabric is from Fabric.com. Beads and rope I figure I can find in my stash or just buy at the local craft store.

I'll make a few changes to the suit pattern like bringing the plunge on the front up higher by a few inches and inserting the rope tie underneath the bust. I'll sew a tube for it between the outside layer and the lining.

Anyone else ever made a swimsuit? I found that this blog has lots of helpful tips when swimsuit sewing. She mostly sews kid's suits but the ideas can be applied to adult suit, too.

June 18, 2011

First Baby Quilt

Greta! If you are reading this look away now!

This quilt is a gift and I know the recipient's mother will read this so, Greta, skip this one! Just come back tomorrow or something!

And just in case this pops up in your blog reader here is a cute picture of my cat sitting by my sewing machine to avoid important photos being exposed in the preview.

Phew... that was a close one. On to the important bits!

Baby Quilt

I finish my quilt! And in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Well, I did start this quilt a few months ago - January to be exact. I gave it a good week of work then stuffed it away until it re-emerged in my new house and I finished it up in about 3 days. Wow! I'm impressed not with myself but with how much easier this process was once I finally knew how to properly put together a quilt.

Baby Quilt

I made it for Justin's sister's third baby who is due to arrive in about a week!

The quilt measures about 45 in x 6 in, a little smaller than crib size. Perfect for a little boy (or perfect for when he's big enough to run around the house dragging a blanket along with him). And it is "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" themed! One of my favorite books from childhood - and so colorful!

Baby Quilt

After piecing together the quilt top (I had a few headaches with that - I kept cutting and sewing the wrong lengths) I used Patti the Snug Bug's advice and bought a walking foot. That would have been a good idea had the thing worked properly.

I must have bought a faulty one because the foot kept leaning forwards causing my needle to constantly whack the metal foot. I had to work extra slow or risk breaking a needle (or 5, which did happen) and nothing I tried seemed to fix it. The thing also didn't come with instructions. Super lame.

So, armed with only my needles meant for delicate fabrics, not three quilt layers I finished quilting using a normal foot. I returned that walking foot to the store today.

Baby Quilt

Then I Googled how to sew binding on corners which helped immensely. Although my binding isn't exactly perfect by any means if you look on the back. It's borderline hot mess material back there but it's the back - no one's looking, right?

I don't know if I'll be tackling any other quilts any time soon but I do feel accomplished that I finished this one.

June 16, 2011

Shorts! Better shorts! And Me-Made-June Day 16

Sailor Shorts
(shorts - handmade by me / shirt - gap / shoes - jellypop at dsw / scarf - always a project / necklace - made by me with supplies from gem junkie)

It feels good to cross things off your to-do lists, right? Well, that's what I did yesterday. I finished a pair of sailor style shorts that are AWESOME!

You may or may not remember that I finished my first ever pair of shorts in January from pieces that had been cut out years before that. Well, those were ok shorts but really sometime between January and now they shrunk. Or I got bigger. Or I just never admitted to myself that they were one size too small to begin with. Most likely the latter.

Sailor Shorts

But these shorts are much improved! It's a Kwik Sew 3854 pattern that was difficult to find. Only one store I went to carried Kwik Sew and the patterns aren't on constant sale like the Big Four. Errr, I dislike paying full price for patterns. I may buy my future Kwik Sews online for a better deal. Know of any good places to find them?

Sailor Shorts

I cut a size medium and it was pretty much perfect. I only made one adjustment to this pattern - I narrowed the inner leg seams by about 3/4in to alleviate too much fabric bunching up and rubbing on itself, know what I mean?

Sailor Shorts

I used a medium-light weight navy twill fabric and I bought three types of buttons to choose from but settled on these metal ones. And best of all, it has a front button open so no zippers!

And I like the high waist style. It makes them feel more like a skirt than shorts.

Overall the pattern was simple and easy to follow. I didn't have any confused moments other than trying to figure out which side was right and wrong.

This being my Kwik Sew pattern I'm pretty impressed! Especially with the easy fit.


Oh, and lookie what I got! I won this lovely scarf from Rachel at Always a Project. I love the pretty print and the ruffles. Too bad it is rediculously hot outside right not but I'll probably wear it on a night out to a movie or dinner. Somewhere that has A/C and I know I'll be cold. Thanks Rachel!!

June 13, 2011

Dress to Tunic Restyle and Me-Made-June Day 12

Dress to Tunic Restyle Before

This dress was another garment packed away from two moves ago that I finally brought out of it's box. I had a love hate relationship with this dress. I thought it was cute and I liked the color and the flower detail but unfortunately it was a little small.

The waist elastic was always too tight and the dress was relegated to the back of the closet to be lost with the winter coats and bridesmaid dresses.

Dress to Tunic Re-style

So to save it I cut out the elastic and transformed it into a tunic.

I used a raglan sleeve pattern from my Built By Wendy Dresses book for the basic shape. The dress had two layer - a semi transparent over layer with the flower detail that I used for the sleeves and the main bodice of the tunic was made with the more opaque under layer from the dress.

Dress to Tunic Re-style

I carefully cut out some of the flowers and crochet bits from the front and hem of the dress and replaced them on the sleeves and front.

Dress to Tunic Re-style

For the edges of the sleeves and neckline I sewed a very tiny zig zag stitch which mimics a rolled hem, I think. I'm missing the attachment on my serger to do a rolled hem. Lame, but the zig zag works!

Dress to Tunic Re-style

There was one unavoidable problem - since the dress was a little small, so is the shirt. Mainly in the bust area. Luckily the flower detail in front helps to disguise those horizontal lines you get on the bust (although it is still a little apparent).

Dress to Tunic Re-style

Since this shirt is still a little small I may give this top away. I need to find a skinny friend who'd want it. That or I'll have to lose weight but I doubt that will happen!

June 12, 2011

New House

New House Card

I know I've been slacking on blogging but I feel like I have a good excuse with recently moving. We ordered a new fridge but when it showed up it didn't work! Do now we're waiting another week for another fridge to be delivered.

We still don't have internet or cable yet and while I'm nearly unpacked I have so much stuff that I don't know where to put it.

Justin and I have been working on organizing, laundry, and trying to make our grass grow. Our lawn is a lovely shade of yellow brown right now.

Here is my first card I made in my new house and fittingly it is of my new house. Now, this isn't exactly to scale. We have a two car garage and the house on the whole is a longer but my card was too short (oops!). Also, I wish our grass and plants were that green! But you get the idea.

Oh, and those weird diagonal lines on the house are actually a metal art piece attached to the chimney out front. Kind of mid century inspired. It was what really convinced us to give the house a second look when we were shopping.

Oh, and I have been doing Me-Made-June but I've been a little lazy about taking pictures.I'll try to be better about it this week.

June 8, 2011

Me-Made-June Day 7 and 8

Me-Made-June Day 7
(day 7: shirt - buffalo exchange although I believe it is restyled vintage / jeans - made by me / shoes - jellypop @ dsw)

Me-Made-June Day 8
(day 8: top - made by me / jeans - gap / shoes - strut, local austin boutique / necklace - vintage / fluffy cat tail in the corner - peanut)

While unpacking I've re-discovered so many missing clothes that I had packed two moves ago. Even though I sewed this top about two years ago it was never blogged and I probably haven't worn it in over a year either.
I made the top with McCall's M5388 but added slightly longer sleeves.

Unfortunately, it is about one size too small. This was before I settled on a size I usually make. Nearly all major brand patterns I use are too big if I go with the pattern measurements. Too much ease built into the pattern. If the pattern says I'm a size 14 then I'll make a 12. I Must have guessed and made a 10 with this shirt.

Me-Made-June Day 8

It is also a wee bit on the short side. I remember that this fabric was leftover from a dress that I made. I wonder if I just didn't have enough fabric left to make the full length so I just used the longest pieces I had.

Also, the stitching is a little wonky, especially on the back part of the collar. Since this is the same fabric I used for this dress I have the same problem with the color running. It isn't nearly as splotchy as the dress but there are white bits with a pink tinge to them.

Me-Made-June Day 8

I really like this style and the pattern. I'd probably give the pattern another go sometime in the future if I find a good fabric and make it one size bigger.

*** Also, I'm switching my hosting account from my old personal domain name to dixiediy.com so pattern downloads will be disrupted for about a day so I can get all of the links fixed. Sorry for the inconvenience but they'll be back up soon!

June 6, 2011

Me-Made-June Day 6 and a Restyle

Me-Made-June Day 6
(top - restyled by me / skirt - made by me / shoes - strut, austin boutique / bracelet - thief and bandit)

I'm continuing Me-Made-June a little out of order. My weekend photos turned out bad so I'm probably going to cheat and re-wear my outfits just to take new pics. Turns out my auto-focus on my DSLR lens is broken but I couldn't tell until I saw the photos on the big screen. Ugh.

So I'm skipping to Day 6 which features not only a skirt I made but a quick restyle (and my first sewing project in my new craft room!).

Dress to Blouse Restyle Before

This pale yellowy-cream top used to be a big billowy dress that I bought at a boutique in town a few years ago. I also bought a belt to go with it.

But belted the dress was way too short and un-belted it was so tent like and looked like a baby doll dress to the extreme! I probably only wore it three times before packing it up.

After unpacking at the new house I rediscovered it and thought I could make some quick alterations to save it from the Goodwill pile.

Dress to Blouse Restyle After

I hemmed it shorter, cut out the lining (which was sewed in pretty poorly) and continued the small vertical folds all the way down the front and back of the shirt to alleviate some of the puffiness.

Me-Made-June Day 6

Much better! I'd like to say I'll be wearing this a lot more not but while sewing I noticed many more construction issues with this dress turned top.

Some of the threads are pulling out and the stitching in general is sloppy and the fabric itself is ripping at a couple seams. Looks like this was never a well made dress to begin with.

Me-Made-June Day 6

I think sewing has really helped me to pay closer attention to details in store bought clothes and just because clothes come from a cute little boutique doesn't necessarily mean they are made any better than something from a cheap clothing store. Has this been the case with you?

June 3, 2011

Kicking off Me-Made-June a little late

 Me Made June Day 3
(dress - made by me / blazer - made by me / shoes - dsw / bag - dsw / belt - gap)

I have survived my move! Well, most of the move. We still have an apartment garage stuffed full of boxes and an apartment to clean but last night was our first night in our new place. (Look at me! I have a fence!!)

My moving wardrobe consisted of shorts, old t-shirt and Toms, not exactly MMJ post-worthy so to start things off for real I wore not one but two Me-Made pieces to work today.

The jacket you've seen before, it's a Simplicity Cynthia Rowley design, but the dress I've never featured before.

Me Made June Day 3

I made it a couple years ago after trying on a similar style dress at J. Crew (same plaid color scheme, too) and thinking "I could make that." Suuuuree. My design from scratch skills back then weren't that great.

The skirt is a partial circle skirt and the top is based on another pattern but I don't remember which. It has straps but they were too long so in my sewing wisdom of two years ago I just pinned them to the right length at the shoulder and stitched rather than re-sewing them where they attach to the bodice.

That fail meant I never wore this dress much nor did I ever fix it. So to salvage it I wore it with a jacket and a belt.

Me Made June Day 3

For some reason I wanted a higher than normal waist line but not empire so the waist is somewhere in between. Makes wearing a belt a little wonky but whatever. I didn't even hem it originally. Instead I used that iron on stitch witch stuff for a smooth hem.

I'm wearing earrings but you can't see them in these shots. All my other accessories are still packed!

Hopefully tonight I can do a few loads of laundry (this place has a dryer, whoo!) so I can have more items to pair with hand made clothes in the next few days.

June 1, 2011

Hanging porch bed

Today is this big day - I'm signing the papers for my new house. Movers come at 9 am tomorrow and we have until the 10th to clear out and clean the apartment.

Forgive me if my posts are sparse for a couple weeks. I'm going to be up to my nose in boxes but a new house brings new creative ideas. Firstly I'll have my very own craft room! Yippee!

Secondly I have one other project that I'm actually surprisingly most excited about. I want to build a hanging porch bed on our covered back porch.

I don't know why I got this idea stuck in my brain but I think it would be a perfect wood working project to start on at the new place. It doesn't require that many tools or difficult cuts. It is essentially a big rectangle platform with holes drilled for rope or chain. Sew a few pillows and find a mattress and voila.

I don't want a huge bed, probably twin or slightly smaller, more like lounge chair size.

I found a few different versions with detailed instructions here, here and here.

Here is a little more hanging bed inspiration for you!

pinned from here

pinned from here

this is like something out of a dream! pinned from here

pinned from here

I like the idea of having a headboard on one or two sides to have something to lean against. pinned from here

Wouldn't this have been such a fun thing to have in your back yard when you were a kid?! It will be great for parties, too, or just for reading on the porch on summer evenings (or maybe fall for me because even summer nights don't get down below 80 F in Texas!).