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

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

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

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

Taffeta Skirt

Once upon a time, I had a little piece of left-over taffeta. It was the basic sort of light taffeta you can get anywhere for 5€/meter, tops. I kinda wanted to make a corselet with it, but taffeta, though it is hard, doesn’t handle pressure that well. Taffeta corsets and corselets require a better quality material, so I opted on making a skirt. I had about half a meter of fabric, so my taffeta skirt was bound to be short.

I wanted a very basic skirt that wouldn’t take long to make. A simple skirt easy to mix and match with all kinds of tops, and even bustle skirts. Instead of picking out a “real” pattern, I used the same idea as with The Crinkle Skirt. With just a long strip of fabric, a zip, and a waist band, this style is super-easy to make.

Taffeta Skirt - this was really easy to sew!

As taffeta frays, and leaves long strands of clingy, fuzzy stuff behind, I used my trusty serger to sew the skirt. I finished all the raw edges straight away to keep from getting covered with taffeta fibers. Then, I used my sewing machine to create a very basic, yet tidy, hem.

Taffeta Skirt - a basic rolled hem always looks tidy.

The original Crinkle Skirt is made with a proper waist band. With this mod, I just took a piece of elastic, and pleated the taffeta against it. I don’t plan to wear this skirt with the waist band exposed, so it doesn’t really need to be that pretty. The wide elastic is tidy enough, though, to be seen, so I do have the option to change my mind about hiding it.

As I chose to pleat the fabric to the elastic without stretching it, the waist band is non-elastic.

Taffeta Skirt - pleated waist is so pretty!

The skirt needed closure. I sewed an exposed zipper to it along with a large button. This solution works with casual skirts, but for formal wear, always use a hidden or concealed zipper!

The skirt turned out really nice, and as I planned, it goes with all kinds of tops and cardigans, and looks super-cute with fluffy petticoats. On Friday, I’ll show a few outfits based on this skirt, along with our featured product for the coming week.

Taffeta Skirt - exposed zippers work for casual wear only!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my taffeta skirt.

Until next time.

Love,

Heather

Handbag Mod

Once upon a time, I decided I needed a new handbag. I turned the internet upside down in search of the perfect purse, and came out empty-handed. I even ventured outside into the real world in search of one! As I am a little bit picky, and didn’t want to spend a fortune on an accessory, I went on eBay. That’s what I usually do when I “need” something I’m likely to grow bored with in less than a year. Going in, I had no idea what kind of a bag I actually wanted, and finally settled on a slouchy one. The decision is based entirely on material: I figured if the purse was a total bust, I could just rip it apart, and use the fake leather for a new one!

The bag arrived in due time, quite quickly actually, and it was fine. A bit larger than expected, and lacking a sturdy bottom, but OK in quality. I could have used it as it was, but I really wanted to add a reinforcement, and minor details.

This bag is soft, and frameless. It’s sewn with light fake leather, and fully lined. The design is very basic, and it’s large enough to house a notebook and other essentials, such as wallet, phone, make-up kit, hairties, knitting, and a bottle of wine along with a change of clothes. Seriously, this thing is huge. As it is “just” sewn, I felt confident to go under the lining.

I pulled the lining out, and carefully ripped open the bottom seam. Then, I proceeded to cut out a piece of sturdy cardboard in the shape of the bag’s bottom, and an extra pocket. I also took a D-ring.

As I was inside the lining, attaching the patch pocket was a piece of cake. Securing the D-ring to the lining was also easy. And now you ask why on Earth do I need a D-ring attached to the inside of a purse. Well, the answer is simple. I have a snap hook on my key ring. Clipped onto a D-ring inside a purse, it saves me from losing my keys inside my bag. I always know where they are, and never have to stand in the middle of a sidewalk digging around my bag. Literally the best idea I’ve ever had.

After the pocket and the D-ring were in place, I proceeded to anchor the cardboard to the bag. I cut out a piece of lining silk to match its shape, and sewed it onto the sole. The fabric keeps the reinforcement from moving around.

The entire process took about an hour and a half, and cost pennies. It didn’t alter the bag’s look, but made it sturdier, and easier to handle. I’m so glad I took the time to do it! This humongous yet still sleek carry-all is now my new favorite. It goes with any outfit, and is so easy to carry around. With the make-over, it can even stand on its own!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my little purse make-over.

Until next time.

Love,

Heather

Purple Wrap Dress

I’m going to Italy for a friend’s wedding. Actually, by the time you read this, the wedding will have happened. I needed a dress for the wedding, and naturally decided to sew one. I figured it would be quick and easy, but it took more time than I figured. I got the dress done only a day before departure! I used our Sleeveless Wrap Dress Pattern to create my purple wrap dress.

I ordered fabric online two months before the trip, and chose the style one month later. It took me an entire week to muster up enough courage to cut the dress, and once I had, sewing felt like a huge task. This dress needed to be perfect!

I didn’t want to rush sewing the purple wrap dress, so I took my time with it, over-thinking every detail. The style is simple enough, but the finishing touches took a lot of brain work.

Purple Wrap Dress with H&M heels

The dress is long, and needs to be worn with heels. For some reason, I didn’t own a single pair of basic black shoes! I put off finding a pair of heels for far too long. I finally ordered a cute pair from Zalando, and they arrived in good time. Sadly, the shoes had an exceptionally small fit, and were a pain to wear. I returned them, and was left shoeless. Charming spent an entire Saturday with me running around town looking for perfect shoes.

I’m picky, especially when it comes to footwear, so we came out empty handed. Buying a pair from Italy was of course an option, but I want to see the sights rather than shop!

There’s an H&M right next door, and it was our last stop. They had a cheap, black high heeled shoe that was OK, so I just got those. It’s better to buy a not-so-nice pair and stumble upon a nicer pair by accident than to risk it and not have anything to wear.

Purple Wrap Dress - belt detail

I used a thick satin for the purple wrap dress. The material is pretty on both sides, so going with The Wrap Dress Pattern was an easy choice. I could even make the dress without a lining, and not have to worry about the hem or belts revealing a turn-side of the fabric.

I made the belts really long so that I can change the way I tie them. I added a few pleats to where they’re attached to the dress. This helps the belt fit through a small hole on the side seam. It also adds a cute little detail.

Purple Wrap Dress - collar detail

I wanted to do something different with the pattern. The original pattern is a pretty basic sleeveless wrap dress. This version needed to be near-formal, so I made the hem long. I shaped the sleeve gaps a bit, and pretty much got rid of the shoulders. I then added a large collar to the dress.

The satin is a rich, beautiful purple. As I was starting with this project, I figured I might add a bit of black lace to the dress. After the dress began to take shape, I realized the fabric was too lovely to hide. I really like this color, and though I might only wear my purple wrap dress once, I’m so happy I made it for my BFFs big day. The dress is all wrinkled up from sewing in these photos. I hope you’ll forgive me for that!

Purple Wrap Dress

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

Until next time.

Love,

Heather