Copycat Dress in Rayon Challis

This dress was made from a "rub-off" of an Old Navy dress. The dress I used for the pattern has grown-on sleeves, a high neckline, a keyhole back and a cocoon shape. The fabric is a rayon challis from LA Finch Fabrics. It has a gorgeous drape and hand, but unfortunately it snags and runs very easily.To make the pattern I traced around the seams with the dress folded in half lengthwise using translucent paper and a sharp tracing wheel. I then added a seam allowance as needed and made measurements to cut out a faux cuff piece.The construction was quite simple and I serged all the inside seams. Just sewed the shoulder seams, the side seams, the CB seam (until I wanted to stop for the keyhole), top-stitched the keyhole, made the cuffs and hemmed it. I used single-fold bias binding to finish the neckline.IMG_6132As you can see, I applied elastic to keep the dress fitted around the waist. I generally don't find cocoon shaped dresses too flattering, so this keeps the dress comfortable but still shapely. I also made a tie belt since I don't like the look of an elasticated waist by itself. The elastic seemed too high once I started wearing the dress, so I ended up unpicking it at the front and restitching it lower by about 2 inches in the center front.IMG_6131While grown-on sleeves can be awkward and sort of wing-like on me, these actually fit pretty well. I also like the faux cuff but it did take some coaxing with the iron to get them to lay flat. There's a tiny little rouleau loop to hold the gold button I used on the top of the keyhole. There are two matching gold buttons at the top of each cuff on the shoulder seam.IMG_6130 IMG_6128 IMG_6127After wearing this dress for a little bit I have a few adjustments to make to the next one:

  • Make the neckline more of a scoop. The high neck is a bit restrictive.
  • Add a little more ease to the hip and thigh areas. In a stiffer fabric it would definitely be too tight.
  • Add pockets next time! Duh, why didn't I think to add them to this dress?
  • Make a forward shoulder adjustment. The neckline in the front keeps choking me and the back is pulling down, so I think the forward shoulder adjustment should help that. Or maybe I have -- say it ain't so! -- a dowager's hump and need to add fabric to the upper back at the center seam.
IMG_6126Overall, I'd say this is a pretty successful copy of a RTW garment and it's a totally wearable muslin. Oh -- and I totally tried to pattern match but it was a bust. Next time it'll be perfect! ...Probably not, but who's really looking for that anyway?

Me-Made May 2016 - Week 3

Week 3 of Me-Made May had me looking quite blue! I know there's a lot of blue, white and gray in my closet, but this week really showed me how much I reach for those colors. I'll blame it on the rainy May we've had so far, although it looks like the weather may be finally turning around!And I have a ton of blue-hued fabrics in the stash...oh well, I guess I should stick with what works! At least I know I'll wear it.Here's the past week's MMMay recap:[BestWordpressGallery id="1" gal_title="MMMay Week 3"] This past weekend I unearthed a box of UFOs...unfinished objects. An ominous phrase in sewing. I have several piece that need just a few touches before they're wearable again. Hopefully this week I can find some time to dedicate to these unloved pieces.A lovely package (the details of which will be shared later) came from L.A. Finch Fabrics. Their selection is so lovely, and from what I can tell, their fabrics are very high-quality. Can't wait to dig into my new fabrics!Unfortunately, I had to do some practical sewing this past weekend...new cushions for a super cool mid-century modern chair frame. It still had the original cushions on it and I've been saying for literally two years that I'm going to redo the cushions. Brad, in typical Brad fashion, found some foam (he still won't tell me where) and batting, so this weekend's project was to finally make new cushions. It took several hours of intense sewing (and a few choice words if I'm being honest) but we got it done! Now I can do some fun stuff. I'll share before and after photos later this week, as well as our process. 

DIY Flowing Blouse with Open Straps

Today I bring you a tutorial on how to take an existing shirt, create a pattern from it, and stitch it up. The most time consuming piece of this shirt was creating the bias tape. Basically, it's quite simple.DSC00127First, you take a woven shirt that you like the fit of. Pin the back and front together on the center folds, pinning the armholes together as well. Place tracing paper over the shirt and trace around the outline, slightly shaping the side seam.DSC00128DSC00129DSC00130Label the pattern piece with all relevant info and mark your seam allowances (I used 5/8"). Shorten the length of the straps so that you can use bias tape later to create them.DSC00108Trace the front piece and include any darts.DSC00109Mark a line from the dart point to the bottom of the shirt and from the dart point over to the center front. Cut these lines, including the dart.DSC00115Measure the dart in the shirt to see how far you need to spread the dart. If the dart is 1/2" on either side of the fold you will need to spread it 1". Spread the dart so that you have the right measurement.DSC00122Slide paper under the cut pieces, tape everything together and re-draw the bottom hem lines and sleeve line. DSC00124Fold the dart to mark the seam lines (ignore my mistake lines).DSC00125Ta-da! You have a front shirt piece. Cut all of the excess paper off.DSC00132You should only have two pieces for this pattern, a front and back. They will both be cut on the fold.DSC00171In order to cut both pieces on the fold, bring the selvedge edges to the center of the fabric and lay out your pattern pieces.DSC00187Make some bias tape. I made a ton using this tutorial: http://whip-stitch.com/continuous-bias-tape-tutorial/DSC00188Sew the front and back pieces together at the side seams. I used french seams.DSC00191Pin and sew bias tape across the tops of the straps.DSC00192Stitch bias tape around the whole neckline and back, using your original shirt as a guide for the length,DSC00193Stitch bias tape around each armhole, again using your original shirt as a guide for length. Hem, using a narrow hem or bias tape.DSC00194Your flowy, open-strapped tank is done!DSC00196

DIY Coffee-Infused Natural Skincare Products

Receiving my monthly boxes from Petit Vour have been really inspiring. After considering the fact that my skin absorbs whatever I put on it, I realized that so many products I use contain all sorts of chemicals and undesirable stuff that can actually make my skin worse.I've been happily pinning all sorts of natural and DIY skincare and makeup recipes. One that really intrigued me was a recipe for coffee-infused eye cream. Caffeine is supposed to help reduce puffiness and also help with cellulite. I decided to give it a go and started by infusing my oil.To do this I ground about 1/2 cup of fresh coffee beans and tossed them in a pint-sized mason jar. Then I covered the coffee grounds in castor oil and set the jar in a pot 1/3 full with water. I set the pot on top of our gas stove/fireplace and stirred it every 10 minutes or so for about an hour. You don't want the oil to get too hot, just enough to steep the coffee.After the oil had steeped it needed to be strained. I strained it through a mesh strainer and realized that I had a ton of beautiful, glistening coffee grounds that would be perfect for a body scrub. So I saved those and used them to create a luxurious sugar scrub. After the oil was strained I let it settle out to get the little flecks of coffee to settle on the bottom.[responsive]IMG_3132[/responsive]Here is my recipe for the Coffee-Infused Eye Cream:1 tbsp Cocoa Butter1 tbsp Shea Butter1 tbsp Coffee-Infused Castor Oil1 tsp Vitamin E Oil8 drops Lavender Essential OilBasically you just have to melt the shea and cocoa butters together, then add the rest of the ingredients. Let cool till it's semi-solid and whip it with a fork. Then transfer to a clean, dry container (I used an old baby food jar – perfect for this sort of thing!).The eye cream is a little oily so next time I think I will add some beeswax to take away from the oiliness. It's perfect at night, though. The smell is really lovely, too.[responsive]IMG_3130_2_2[/responsive]Next, for those luscious coffee grounds. This scrub is so super-simple and completely luxurious. My skin felt soft and smooth after I showered and I didn't even need to moisturize. The coffee grounds are also supposed to help break down cellulite so that's always a plus! Only downside - it made a bit of a mess in the shower. Worth it.Coffee Bean Sugar Scrub1/2 cup Castor Oil-Infused Coffee Grounds1/2 cup Sugar (I used regular granulated sugar)1 tsp CinnamonCombine all ingredients and store in a clean, dry container.[responsive]coffee-scrub[/responsive]Hope these recipes are useful! I know I'm loving my new coffee-infused products.

DIY Summer Dress - With Tutorial!

Hi! After a long hiatus I have decided to revamp the blog and start posting again. So...enjoy!I present to you a super comfortable and simple diy summer dress. And it only takes two yards of fabric! This dress was made with a polyester print fabric (which was so not fun to work with, but it's pretty, so I'm good with that) and one invisible zipper inserted in the side of the garment. I used a 22" one, but ended up trimming quite a bit off of it. I finished the hem with lace hem tape which makes the boring task of hemming kind of fun and gives it a bit more weight, important for such a lightweight fabric. Also, I used a 1/2" seam allowance.B+W_Dress_3The dress consists of 4 pattern pieces: the bodice (with two neckline variations), the skirt panel, the waistband and the straps.B+W_Dress_Tutorial1The bodice pattern piece looks more confusing than it really is. Just use common sense. Cut a bodice piece of each neckline (on the fold) out of your outer and lining fabrics. You should have four bodice pieces. Then cut a long skinny piece for the straps. I made mine about 2" wide x 30" long.B+W_Dress_Tutorial2Then cut your two skirt panels and 2 waistband pieces.

The Bodice:
To start, sew together the outer bodice pieces on the right side. Sew the lining pieces together on the left side. Do the same on the opposite side, only stitch about 3" down (to leave room for the zipper). Then, with right sides together, sew down the long side of the strap piece. Pull the end through to turn the strap right-side-out. I use one of these.With outer and lining fabric right sides together, sew the arm holes and neckline, leaving the strap section open. Try on the bodice and figure out how long you want your straps to be (+1" for seam allowance). Cut two straps out of the long tube you made. Iron them flat. With bodice pieces still right sides together, thread the straps through the strap openings, being careful not the twist them. Pin and stitch in place, meeting the seams you made on either side for the arm hole and neckline. Turn bodice right side out.B+W_Dress_2Stitch two lines of gathering stitches around the bottom of the bodice, keeping the edges even. Gather the bottom so that it matches your waistband length.
The Skirt:
With right sides together, sew one side of the skirt panels. Do the same for the opposite side, leaving about 6 inches open at the top (for the zipper). I used

A Tour of Our New House!

It's been a while. But trust me, there's good reason for that. Brad and I have been working on buying a house! Here's a tour.[su_youtube url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8x1Zi2axHY&"]Click here for photos!http://flic.kr/s/aHsjC5B34NAs you can see from the photos, there is a ton of work that we are doing and still needs to be done. It's kind of a dusty mess right now, but at least it's our dusty mess!