Sleeveless to Short-Sleeved

Summer usually starts slowly here in Finland. It gets gradually warmer until mid-summer, when temperatures reach a high of 20 C. It’s rainy most of the time, and after mid-summer, the weather starts to cool down. Well, this year, we got a surprising heatwave on May 1st, and there is no end in sight. I’m not a big fan of summer, so the weather right now is killing me a bit. A photo session was out of the question yesterday, so I decided to show you guys something I altered yesterday.

Wrap dresses are a big thing right now. I can’t recall the last time they were this popular! I love this turn of events, since wrap dresses are cute, comfy, and fun to sew. This week and next, our featured products will be All Things Wrapped, aka all of our wrap styles. These include The Bishop Wrap, our Wrap-Cut Tops, and The Sleeveless Wrap Dress. Which is the thing I altered on Monday.

sleeveless wrapdress, four

I’ve mentioned many, many times that I have minor issues with sleeveless dresses. Short sleeves are fine, but sleeveless styles leave me somehow uncomfortable. This has resulted in a difficult relationship with The Sleeveless Wrap Dress. I love the fabric I chose for the dress, and the shape is super-comfy. But the sleevelessness bums me out big time. I’d love to wear it during the summer, but for my style, it needs to be paired with blouses, and that makes it too warm.

I went through my wardrobe on Sunday, and tossed out things I don’t enjoy that much. This dress was on the verge of the charity bin when Something Dawned on me. The dress would be perfect if it only had sleeves. It’s also a bit on the long side.

I literally facepalmed as I finally realized I could just shorten the dress by 6”, and use the strip of fabric to sew sleeves. I feel stupid at least thrice a day, but this was a major derp-moment.

So yesterday, I took my scissors, cut the hem, turned to my newly-serviced serger, and spent 30 minutes perfecting the dress. I seriously cannot believe I hadn’t thought to do this before!

As I only had 6” of fabric, I sewed short sleeves for the dress. The piece I cut off was long, and I used the rest to create wide cuffs. I really like cuffed sleeves on jersey dresses. They tie the garment together, and give it a polished look with a minimal amount of fuzz. I used our Pretty Basic Jersey Top Pattern for the sleeves. They’re designed to fit this dress just in case!

I was a bit apprehensive about shortening the dress. 6” sounds like a lot, but the original hem fell below the knee by an inch or two. Cutting the hem didn’t make as big a difference as I thought: the dress still has a decent length!

I’m going to defy the weather on Thursday for fresh outfit posts to share on Friday and next week. I’ll include The Sleeveless (now Sleeved) Wrap Dress I altered today so you’ll get to see the difference!

Until then.

Love,

Heather

Mary’s Dress

Today, I’m happy to launch a brand new sewing pattern! This is called Mary’s Dress. It’s simple, elegant, and features ruffled cuffs and a laced up bodice. What makes this dress special is that I got married in it only three weeks ago.

Mary’s Dress is best made with elastic fabrics. I used a soft, smooth poly-blend for mine, but any kind of stretchy fabric will do. Viscose and cotton jerseys are perfect for this. Crushed velvet will also work, giving the dress a lovely, lively look. Since Mary’s Dress does come with a laced up bodice, I recommend making it with fabrics without a print. Too many details can make a dress look busy, and this one is an easy target.

Mary’s Dress comes with ruffled cuffs. I wanted a dress that’s simple and easy to wear as is, but still has some level of feminine detail. Cuffs were the first thing I wanted to embellish. Hands are important to me, naturally, and I like to wear pretty things on them. Ruffles are my weakness: if I could, I’d wear them everyday. Unfortunately, ruffles do get in the way when writing and sewing. With this dress, though, I decided to go nuts. After all, I made this for my wedding day.

The ruffles are made with two separate layers. They’re attached to the sleeve with a cuff, and pleated for a feminine feel.

I love the ruffles, and I’m actually leafing through my dresses, looking for one I could add ruffled cuffs to… The sleeves on Mary’s Dress come long so that the ruffles sit over the hand, not just around the wrist.

I wanted something more to the dress, something that would take it to the next level. A long, long time ago, I made a dress with a lace up bodice, and I literally wore it to shreds. I decided the detail would be perfect for Mary’s Dress, and went ahead with the idea. Mary’s Dress features a laced up front that gives the dress another feminine detail.

The pattern is freshly launched, and on sale for all VIPs. And on Tuesday, I’m going to publish this pattern’s sister, Jane’s Dress, which will also go on sale for VIPs!

Until then.

Love,

Heather

Sneak Peak

Today, I was going to show you a dress I made from a skirt, but life happened, and I had no time for a photo-day. So instead, I’ll show you sneak peaks of an upcoming pattern, and postpone the “skirt into dress” -post to a later date. I’m not entirely certain when this new dress pattern will come out, but I’m hoping next Tuesday!

Crushed velvet is a material I love to hate. It’s light and clingy, and can look really cheap. Then again, it’s soft, it catches light in a pretty way, and falls beautifully. It has a bit of elasticity, so it’s comfortable to wear. And as it is an inexpensive material, dresses with lots of hem won’t break your budget!

This dress has a long hem with a ruffle. I wanted it girly and sweet, and I really did achieve that goal. This velvet dress has something that reminds me of Claudia, especially the scene where she cuts her hair. I gave it, the dress, I mean, not Claudia, an empire waist, a long hem, and puffball sleeves.

All of these elements were used in teens clothes in the 18th century, and though this dress is far from authentic, it is pretty.

I wanted to give the dress something extra. Something to make it unique.

Something with a touch of color.

Versatile in nature.

A hood.

How is that versatile, someone might ask. A hood is a hood, end of story.

But in this case, the hood is detachable.

With all of our hooded patterns, I’ve sighed “if only the hood could come off when I don’t want it”. It took me this far to actually stop and think how to do that, how to make a hood detachable in quick, easy steps.

The hood is large, and fully lined. I used red satin to line it, but any kind of lining material will do. You can give it a contrast-colored lining, use the same fabric as in the dress, or even sew it without a lining. Whatever you choose to do, the hood will be there. Or not, if you’d like to go without it.

I  hope you’ve enjoyed sneak peaks of this soon-to-come-dress. I promise to get the pattern out as soon as possible!

Until next time.

Love,

Heather

White Crochet Shawl

Once upon a time, I knit Converse socks for a friend. I used white wool yarn, and Novita’s pattern. The pattern indicted that I’d need two balls of yarn, when in fact I managed the socks on one. After completing the order, I had a ball of white yarn left. I took a day or two to contemplate, and decided to need a white crochet shawl.Crochet Shawl - Materials

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest, and mainly use it for inspiration. My feed is full of crochet and knit project ideas I rarely make come true. The white yarn, though, was desperate to become something I saw on Pinterest.

Crochet Shawl - Close up

Pinterest is a funny place. You can find pretty much anything there, but digging up info on where the pin is actually from is hard. One image can come from multiple websites, most of which fail to indicate the original source. That’s the case with this crochet shawl. I first stumbled upon a chart, then found an image, and then a Russian site that offers charts and overall instructions for this lovely shawl, and nothing else. I’d really love to know the name of the pattern and the designer so I could give credit to where it’s due!
EDIT: I’ve finally figured out who designed this lovely shawl. It’s Virus Meets Granny Shawl by Jinty Lyons.

Crochet Shawl - center motif

This crochet shawl features a large scallop design. It pops up in 3D because one row of it is crocheted behind the previous row instead of on it. I love this effect, and it’s the thing that really makes this design special. The original shawl is made with a fringe, but I decided to skip that. I’m not really a fringe-girl, but prefer crisp edges.

Crochet Shawl - edge without a fringe

I made this shawl with Novita’s 7 Veljestä. It’s a sport weight yarn designed for socks, and due to its high wool content, it’s both pleasantly warm and a nightmare to knit. Before a soak in fabric softener, the yarn is coarse and hard. When knitting it, I always get a deep yarn burn on my index finger. Crocheting with it was a much ices experience. My crochet tension is looser, and that meant I could crochet for hours without my skin chafing off.

Making this shawl took about two weeks. I ran out for more yarn twice, and am actually contemplating getting two more balls and taking it from large to super-sized. I love the shawl as it is, but I might wear it more if it were a bit bigger.

Crochet Shawl - too big to fit in a photo!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my cool, new crochet shawl. On Friday, I’ll incorporate it in an outfit when featured products for this week and next are announced!

Until next time.

Love,

Heather

Lace Dress

A while back, I did an outfit with a lace dress I hadn’t properly introduced. I think it’s time to fix that mistake!

I like casual, comfortable dresses best of all. Elastic materials are my favorites. Though they can be challenging to work with, elasticity makes a dress fit snugly without restricting movement. For this dress, I chose a polyester lycra. I usually go for natural fibres such as cotton and viscose. This fabric had a really smooth finish that appealed to me. I paired it up with left-over elastic lace and skin toned mesh. I used a similar combo in our Lace Top. Lace is a see-through material, and requires another layer beneath it. Layered on skin tones, you can easily hold on the translucent quality while making a garment completely decent.

I didn’t use a pattern for this dress. I actually cut it with just a measuring tape as a guideline. When sewing for myself, I often do this. After years and years of clothing myself, I’m pretty familiar with my measurements. My lace dress has a long, A-lined hem, and a spaghetti strap bodice. Combining our Spaghetti Strap Top and Jersey Skirt will yield a very similar outcome.

I only had a little bit of lace left, so I made the bodice short. The bodice ends an inch or two above my natural waist, so this dress may prove tricky to accessorize with belts. Sashes and waist corsets will probably work, but narrow belts might not look so good with this one.

I attached the straps while binding the bodice. The binding is a bit wider, and as I didn’t want it to roll under the straps, I used buttons to secure the straps. The buttons create a nice, subtle detail.

This lace dress turned out a little bit more elegant than I expected. This isn’t the kind of dress you run errands in, but it’s perfect for evenings out. Sleeveless dresses are a bit cold during the winter, but long-sleeved tops make them a lot more appropriate for the freezing temperatures. Shrugs are also a great way to stay warm.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my Lace Dress! Don’t forget that now’s a good time to grab the patterns that can be used to create a similar dress since all The Basics are on sale!

Until next time.

Love,

Heather

Purple Dress

Once upon a time, I found a piece of jacquard-patterned fabric from a flea market. It was a nice enough quality, so I figured I’d find a use for it. A few years later I found it in my stash, apologized to it for my lack of attention, and obeyed its wish to become a purple dress with puff sleeves. Since our featured product this week is also puff sleeved, I figured this would be as good a time as any to show you this pretty purple dress.

 I wanted the dress cute and pretty, so I could wear it to family gatherings. Mom tends to frown when I show up to Birthdays wearing all black. Biting the bullet and wearing something “colorful” is a small price to pay for her happiness. That was even more reason to make the dress both cute and comfortable. I chose to sew the dress a bit looser at the waist, and to give it lace details. I started with the neckline, which I cut quite low, and bound with satin bias tape with some lace. 

I used lace to hem the dress. Though the fabric is quite dark, it’s still quite purple, and I wanted to tone it down a bit. A strip of narrow lace doesn’t change the color much, but it does make it easier to add black accessories. Lace also gives the dress an even more feminine feel.

My Elna had some serious issues with this material. I don’t know whether it was the slippery surface or overall texture, but getting it to top stitch without pushing the fabric out of place was impossible. I have a roller foot which should help Elna deal with challenging materials such as everything, but no deal. I ended up top stitching the zipper by hand. Ripping it out three times due to bulging and pulling was too much for my limited patience. It may not be perfect, but at least it’s straight!

The dress turned out pretty much just the way I wanted it. It’s cute, it’s quite far from black, and it’s super-comfortable. I actually wore this to my aunt’s Birthday party last summer, and could eat all the cake I wanted. As an added bonus, no-one looked at my clothes funny.

I really like this dress, but because it is purple, I only wear it those “and would you be a dear and wear something pretty” -events. To show you just how cute it is, and what my uncomfortable smiles look like with it, I styled it up a bit, too.

I chose to wear a tulle petticoat for this look. The dress is quite short, so I like to wear another layer under it. To emphasize the waist a little, I tied a long chiffon belt around me. The dress is girly and cute, so I tied it into a bow. High heels are a must, and I chose these ones to fight back the dress’s cuteness just a bit. I left my hair loose because… well, family-things are the only place where I can leave it loose and not have a bunch of people ask me where I got my extensions.

I really like this look, but it does feel like I’m wearing someone else’s clothes. The photos show it too: in most of them I was smiling a very tight, awkward “let me out” -smile I associate with Mom handing me someone’s baby to hold or pulling me to meet great-aunt what’s-her-name. Pretty, but could I have my black dress back, please?

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my purple dress!

Until next time.

Love,

Heather

Snap Frame Purse

As you may recall, I have a thing about handbags. I need to have many, but I’m still quite picky. Being crafty means that if I can’t find what I love, I will make it myself. During Christmas I decided to need a snap frame purse. I wanted it small with lots of pockets, and I wanted it made of leather. Of course I couldn’t find one straight away. Metal bag frames, though, were plentiful along with PVC fat quarters. And so I said, once more, how hard can it be?

Turns out, not very hard.

I’ve made handbags before. Some are pretty perfect, some have failed miserably, but all of them have taught me something. First lesson I’ve learned is that my sewing machine has issues with PVC. Top-stitching is a no-no for Elna 5100. For this reason, I top-stitch by hand.

I wanted patch pockets for this bag. I cut out two square pieces, one for each side, sewed a bit of lace on, and attached them by hand. My stitching isn’t as straight and even as a machine’s but it does keep the leather from pulling and bending.

I wanted this bag to have soft handles. I cut out strips of PVC, sewed them into a tube, and then turned them. Elna can manage sewing from the wrong side of fabric, and I like to take advantage of that. It makes life a bit easier for me, after all.

After getting the handles turned right side out, I closed one end of each, and used batting to stuff them lightly. This made the handles soft and a bit more substantial to grip. I used buttons to secure the handles in place, since Elna protests to a) sticky surfaces and 2) thick materials. That thing is most likely designed by a man who thinks women only sew light little curtains.

I used basic lining fabric for the interior of the bag. As it is flimsy and light, I stabilized it with soft, fusible interface. Then, I proceeded to sew patch pockets onto the lining as well.

I had a zip-closure inside divider stashed from a bag I took apart many years ago (it broke and I wanted to salvage what I could), and I sewed it into the bag as well. I also attached a D-ring into the lining, so I can hook my keys into it.

The snap frame purse turned out OK. It’s small enough to be easy to carry, but big enough to house essentials. It comes complete with a stunned look that matches my general expression quite well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my new snap frame purse.

Until next time.

Love,

Heather

Mixing Knit and Crochet

Last week was a bit difficult for me. Not only did my website experience a technical difficulty (these things happen, and this was just a hickup with necessary updates), but I also fell victim to a severe case of a stiff neck. I noted it on Thursday, mentioned it to Charming, and received strict orders not to knit and crochet. Which, imho, was quite harsh. I mean, how could continuing to do what caused the condition in the first place possibly make it worse!

… well, obviously I’ve sat with my hands on my lap through the weekend. Not knitting. I’m getting better, and I sincerely hope Charming will let me pick up the needles before too long.

Since I’ve been a bit achey, I haven’t been able to take outfit photos. Pulling on a robe was a task and a half all through the weekend, and I figured it might be best to just wait until I’m all better before struggling with corsets and such. So today, I wanted to talk a bit about a knitting related thing. The way I like to mix knit and crochet, that is.

This week’s featured product is still The Faux Cable Shrug. I’m extending its time in the spotlight for another week due to the website-issue. I hope to do an outfit post with it for Friday, but today, I wanted to shed more light on its crochet embellishment.

I love crochet details on knitted garments. A crochet edge can make all the difference to a knit item. The Faux Cable Shrug features a shell edge worked onto cast off edges. It doesn’t require much work or extensive knowledge of crocheting, but it does make a lovely detail, don’t you think?

Crochet edges are more often seen on shawls. A crochet cast off is a quick, easy way of achieving an edge that’s both tidy and elastic. Continuing to crochet a delicate border from there is irresistably easy. A crocheted edge can make a stockinette scarf appear more romantic…

… or it can give a subtle touch of femininity to an everyday shawl.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed adding crochet details to knit items ever since I first learned both skills. I’m actually working on a cardigan that features crochet flowers sewn onto a knit surface. It will be published later in the spring, hopefully mid-March!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the way I mix knit and crochet.

Until next time.

Love,

Heather

Mesh Insert Dress

On Friday, I used my Mesh Insert Dress in an outfit post for the second time, and I still haven’t properly introduced it to you. I figured now’s as good a time as any!

The Mesh Insert Dress is actually modded. I got a sleeveless bodycon dress in size way-too-big from a flea market, and decided to use it to create another Pretty Basic Jersey Dress. The only thing that fit in the original dress was the hem. The width was perfect in that one spot alone, so I chose to start working from the hem up. I cut the dress along the original Jersey Dress pattern. There wasn’t quite enough fabric for long sleeves, so I had to improvise.

I had skin tone power mesh stashed. There wasn’t much, but enough to cut half a sleeve. It took a bit on pondering to decide whether I wanted to do the upper or lower sleeve in mesh. The upper sleeve seemed like a better choice so I went for it.

When comparing the materials, I noted that they had a different amount of ease. To compensate, I cut the mesh piece a bit narrower. Which is why the sleeve looks a little funny when no-one’s in it.

 The original Jersey Dress comes with two options for cuffing the sleeve. Instead of the wide one, I chose to do a very basic binding. This option matches the neckline, and gives the dress a very unified look.

Most of my dresses have a round neckline. With my Mesh Insert Dress, I wanted to do something different.

Not too different, though, as I still wanted to stay true to the original pattern. So instead of cutting a round collar, I went for a subtle V-shaped line. I used a strip of fabric to bind the neckline, and top-stitched using a narrow zigzag to preserve the elasticity of jersey.

The finished dress is figure-hugging, and still really comfortable. The mesh inserts make the dress looks sleeveless with separate arm warmers, and I kinda like the effect. You could use contrast colored material for the upper sleeve, too, or sew it with elastic lace.

As my Mesh Insert Dress has a snug fit, it’s comfy under knits. The Faux Cable Shrug seems to love it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my Mesh Insert Dress.

Until next time.

Love,

Heather

Spaghetti Strap Dresses

As I’ve mentioned many, many times before, basics are a really important part of any wardrobe. Mine consists mainly of dresses and accessories, so it’s only natural that I require a multitude of basic dresses. I hardly ever wear skirts and tops, let alone pants. In that light, it may be easy to understand why my Basic Jersey Skirt and Spaghetti Strap Tops sat in the closet untouched. I don’t like seeing clothes out of circulation, so I turned the skirt and one of the tops into a dress! Spaghetti strap dresses get way more wear in my world than skirts and tops, and I already have loads of outfits planned for this one.

Combining a top and a skirt into a dress is a super-easy project. You simply take a top, cut it at the waist, and sew the skirt onto it. It takes literally twenty minutes, and leaves you with a new, cute dress.

As many people, I’m not a huge fan of vertical seams at the waist, but that can be hidden with a belt, scarf, or corset. I really like this transformed top/skirt-combo. It’s versatile and comfortable, and I trust this will become one of my go-to dresses. Especially after the horrific accident with my favorite maxi dress… 

After putting together the long dress, I decided to need more spaghetti strap dresses. Going through my closet, I noted that most of my short dresses are tight and body conscious. A looser one was in order! I took a piece of thicker cotton jersey, a bit of lace, a pair of wider straps, and our Spaghetti Strap Top Pattern. By lengthening the hem and widening it as much as I could, I gained a short dress with a flowing hem.

Even though I wanted the dress to be a bit less body con, I made the bodice snug. That way, a dress fits comfortably, and stays securely put. I cut the hem to an A-lined shape starting from above the waist to give it more room. A bit of lace turned the dress pretty and feminine.

I used lace to hem the dress instead of going for a rolled hem. This particular fabric likes to roll up if left unguarded, and lace forces it to remain straight.

I love the way this dress turned out. It’s so cute and comfy, and loves cardigans and sweaters!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my cool new spaghetti strap dresses. On Friday, I’ll show you how these two like our Cropped Raglan Top, so stay tuned!

Until next time.

Love,

Heather