Finished Project: White and Blue Striped Pattern Runway Sundress

Hey friends!

Happy post holiday weekend! Even though it's technically a shorter week, the days feel soooo looooong. I hope everyone had a lovely and relaxing long weekend, but I hear ya. Post-celebratory days are hard. 

Which is why I'm here, with another fun-filled finished project! I hope the beauty and style, grace and poise, exuded in this picture will help you sail through the rest of the week:

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It's a Joy-ful Halloween: My Recycled Halloween Costume

  Sustainable fashion in costume form!

Hi friends!

Happy day-after-Halloween! I hope you all had a safe and fun day, and partied late into the night. I love so many things about Halloween - the candy, the parties with friends, the candy, Halloween movies, the candy (ahem).....However I especially love the fact that it's socially acceptable to wear full out, ridiculous costumes in public for one night. I think I saw a giraffe, Poison Ivy, and Marty McFly walking down the street together last night while a vampire flew past on a skateboard. Pure magic.

Halloween is also one of the worst days for sustainable fashion. The dropping prices of clothing, and specifically, Halloween costumes, means that more people are spending money on cheaply made costumes that will be worn for one night and then thrown away. And that process will be repeated year in and year out. This year, the UK is expected to spend £157 million on costumes, while the US is projected to spend close to $2.6 billion. And most of that revenue will eventually end up somewhere like this:

Clothing landfill

So in light of all that, I wanted a costume that I could make from thrift store items and still expressed my creativity. I decided on Joy from Inside Out because (a) that movie made me sob unashamedly in a movie theater and (b) Amy Poehler is my spirit animal. Plus, Joy is so cute and fun!

Joy from Inside Out Costume

I found an amazing tutorial from coolirpa on Youtube for making Joy's dress from T-shirts she found at the thrift store. Check it out here! It was a pretty easy make. First, you cut off the arms and neckline of a T-shirt, fit it to your sides and cut it at the waist. Then, cut the arms and neckline off the other shirts, sew them together to create a long piece of fabric, and cut out a 3/4 circle skirt based on your body measurements. Sew those pieces together and attach it to the bodice. The video explains it all really well. At that point you have something like this:

Ta-da!

At which point you are ready to start adding the starbursts on Joy's dress. I used puffy paint and glitter, which means that my floor is now covered in glitter and will be for all eternity. Because glitter is like a bad guest - it just won't leave.

The Addams Family and costuming = bliss.

I used a bobbin as a reference point for the starbursts and drew them freehand. Below is the front side waiting to dry:

Le front!

After you let the front dry and do the same process on the back, you have a finished costume!

My Joy pose

With several other party goers.

There was a Leslie Knope too!

So there you have it - a costume for Halloween that is sustainable and fun. Have an amazing Sunday friends!

Finished: Floral Maxi Dress McCall's M7121

Floral Maxi Dress McCall's M7121 Hey friends!

It's a beautiful Saturday here in Chicago. I hope you are enjoying the bright sun and crisp fall air wherever you are. I, on the other hand, have been laid out sick this weekend. I don't know if it's the flu or what, but my roommate and I have been laid out on the couches, groaning and praying for the end to come swiftly. We make quite the pair. Don't you wish you were here?? Huh??

Anyways, I'll spare you the details of my weekend stuck indoors (seriously, is there anything worse than that when it's beautiful outside?) and instead share some details on a dress I made recently.

Maxi Floral Navy Blue Dress

The pattern is McCall's M7121, and the intense obsession to make this dress was inspired by MimiG's review here. The obsession was so encompassing that I probably should've picked a different jersey that had a bit more structure to it. But I threw my cares to the wind and jumped in.

McCall's Maxi Dress M7121

I had been wanting to make a long maxi dress for the summer and was pretty swept away by this fabric. It's a lightweight, mid-stretch jersey that has a beautiful drape to it. I bought three yards but almost didn't have enough for the pattern to be cut against the grain line like the pattern directed. Hence the awkward placement of the flowers on the bodice.

McCall's M7121 Blue Floral Maxi Dress

McCall's M7121 Blue Floral Maxi Dress

I love the cut of the pattern. It's got a nice v neck in the front and back, and the skirt is cut in such a way as to hang off the body in a flattering way. Plus it's super quick and easy to sew, (only 4 pattern pieces) and sometimes you just need some quick satisfaction, right??

McCall's M7121 Navy Blue Maxi Dress

In a few of these pictures, the back bodice has an unsightly bulge, but that's just the way I'm standing. I also did a photo shoot a few weeks back in this dress with a friend of mine who is an amazing photographer. Check out his website here, and below are some pictures from that shoot. I'm off to drench myself in more tea and soup. Have an amazing day friends, and be well!

Thanks Josh!

McCalls M7121 Blue Maxi Dress

McCall's M7121 Blue Maxi Dress

Finished: Red Refashioned Tablecloth Dress and BONUS: Tips for Taking Better Pictures

Hey friends! Red Upcycled Pattern Runway Dress

I'm generally not a fan of getting my picture taken. It seems like there's always something off about any picture that I'm a part of. It's a great photo, full of smiles, coy laughter, then BOOM - I jump in and it's all half-shut eyes, weird crinkles of skin, and crazy hand motions. I exaggerate (only a smidge) but I've always been self-conscious in front of the camera. It's just not my scene. I'm all, "What do I do with my hands?" and "Why do my eyes have to be open?" You may think the photos I take for this blog are ok, but you haven't seen what doesn't make it on here.

Which leads me into today's post. As I was editing photos of today's dress, I realized something - I actually like a lot of these pictures. I mean, I actually feel pretty positive feelings towards these pictures. Which got me thinking about why I liked these pictures and I realized it came down to two things:

My Quick Tips for Better Photos:

  1. Get a good photographer - My roommate generously takes most of my pictures and she's one of the funniest people I know. She makes me feel comfortable, relaxed, and gets a genuine smile out of me. So find someone you don't mind looking like a fool around.
  2. Take more pictures - When we take one photo of our selves every hundred millenia, it's easy to judge your picture-taking ability by that one picture. But when you take lots and lots of pictures, you realize that some just turn out better than others, and it has nothing to do with you. So even if it's uncomfortable and awkward and makes you want to scream, just try it.

Ok, now that that's out of the way, let's get on to the dress! Disclaimer: There will be lots of pictures in today's post. Bonus to the disclaimer: I'm going to throw in some terrible pictures of me at the end.

Red Upcycled Pattern Runway Dress

I made this dress from an old tablecloth I found in the recycle bin at a former job. We hosted lots of events and one of the vendors had left a lot of stuff behind. Score! My boss thought I was totally weird to take it for clothes making. Which may be true, but also YOLO.

Red Upcycled Pattern Runway Dress

Red Upcycled Pattern Runway Dress

The bodice is from the Gathered Sundress pattern by Pattern Runway. It's one of the first patterns I ever bought, and also one of the first to fit me relatively well. If I use this pattern again, I think I'll shorten the back pieces by half an inch to take out some of the excess fabric in the back. But beginner sewist me didn't know about things like fit. I generally really like the fit and style. The skirt is a self-drafted full circle skirt. Which gives it a lovely twirl.

Red Upcycled Pattern Runway Dress

Red Upcycled Pattern Runway Dress

Still twirling!

Annnnd stop.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with this dress. Most of it is handpicked, including the zipper and the hem. It's the best way I've found thus far to get a beautiful, clean zipper. But very time consuming. Anyway, it seemed to work well on this heavier weight polyester fabric.

Le front.

Le back

Le inside

And as promised, if you're still reading, here are some bad pictures from this photo shoot. Proof that it happens to everyone! Until next time, have a fabulous weekend!

Pulling weirdly at the dress

Oof, that face!

 

Finished: Floral Ponte Print McCall's 5845

Hey friends! I hope you are having a lovely Saturday thus far. It's a rainy, blah-ish day here in Chicago. You know, one of those days that's a perfect excuse to stay inside all day and work on sewing projects? Yeah, well unfortunately, that's not in my future. Some good friends are moving today, and I promised to help out. Helping friends friends move in the rain - that's true love, folks.

Anyway, before I force myself to function for the day, I wanted to share a finished project with you all. And guess what?? It's another McCall's 5845 hack! The first one was the silk taffeta bridesmaid's dress I blogged about here. This one was the eh-I-have-time-so-why-not version.

Flipped hair don't care

Remember how I said there have been weddings on weddings on weddings this summer? I wore this to one or two of them, plus a few fancy events.

Heyy!

I think this is one of my favorite garments I've ever made. The fabric is a ponte knit that I've had in my stash for a while, so there is enough give to make it comfortable while still maintaining it's structure. Bonus: The teal heels I'm wearing have been in my closet for years, and matched the colors in the fabric perfectly!! It was meant to be, ya'll. Extra bonus: The earrings I'm wearing are my go-to pair from Mata Traders. They're a sustainable fashion company based here in Chicago. They employ women in India and Bangladesh and provide the ladies with a fair, living wage so they can support their families. Mata has some beautiful items, check them out!

Floral print McCalls 5845

Love me some low backed dresses.

Floral McCall's 5845

The bodice of the dress is another hacked version of McCall's 5845. I lowered the neckline 1 1/2 inches and scooped the back. The skirt is a self-drafted half circle skirt. There are tons of great tutorials out there, just give it a Google and you're sure to find one.

 

Le front

Construction was pretty standard, I bagged the bodice using the same tutorial from Neeno (that tutorial is linked in this post) and attached the skirt. I'm very proud of how straight that waist seam line is! It's the victory in the little things.

Le back

Seriously love this print.

All in all, very happy with this one and looking forward to years of use out of it. May you enjoy your clothes and find something silly to laugh about today.

My roommate, who takes my pictures, can always make me laugh.

Finished: Navy Blue Silk Taffeta Dress

Hey friends! Happy Saturday! I love this time of year. The sun, the heat, the beach - August is when things get good and hot here in Chicago. People are happy and nice because there's sunshine (no polar vortex or snowpocalpse can keep us down!), and there's so many free things to do! Movies in the park, dancing in the parks, street festivals - Chicago is a great place to be in the summer (*end of shameless plug*).

The Princess Bride! "Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya!"

You what else there is to do? Weddings. So. Many. Weddings. For three months this year, I was either in a wedding or attending some wedding-bridal-bachelorette festivity every weekend. I'm really happy for all my friends and family who've gotten hitched this year, but sometimes a girl needs a weekend of Netflix, sweatpants, and ice cream, ya know? My couch and my cat felt sadly neglected.

But one of the nice things about weddings upon weddings upon weddings is that I got to make a lovely dress which was first used as a bridesmaid's dress (been one of those 7 times now, *self-five*) and then re-worn to a friend's wedding two weeks later.

Pensive thoughts.

Navy Blue Silk Taffeta M5845This was my first time working with silk taffeta. I was more than slightly terrified to cut into it (and put it through the wash when I wasn't supposed to, oops) but all in all I think it turned out pretty well. The fabric is from Mood, and was a beautiful, rich navy blue. I love the descriptions and pictures on that website. So far, everything I've bought from them has been true to what I read about it online. Yay for consistency!

Navy Blue Silk Taffeta M5845

Navy Blue Silk Taffeta M5845The pattern is a super-hacked version of McCall's M5845. I lowered the front neckline by 1 1/2 inches and changed the back to a low scoop. I was originally going to draft a box pleat skirt pattern a la Zooey Deschanel from New Girl to copy this dress:

Totally trying to steal your look, Jess.

But in the end, I ran out of time and went with a simple gathered skirt. I think it was for the best, as the silk taffeta shows a lot of wrinkles, which are less obvious in a gathered skirt where intentional wrinkles are kind of the point.

Le front.

Le close-up

 

Please excuse that invisible zipper insertion. I have since figured out how to *actually* do it right. Who knew that when tutorials tell you to sew as close as possible to the zipper, they literally mean in that little groove right along the zipper teeth. I know.....just give me a break ok?

Navy Blue Silk Taffeta M5845I lined the bodice using this tutorial from Neeno over at SewMeLove. The idea to hack the M5845 was also inspired from her many hacks of that pattern. What, imitation is the highest form of flattery, right??  The cut fits my shoulders well, also I need to tweak the pattern a bit across the upper bust.

Navy Blue Silk Taffeta Pockets

Love it!

I also inserted pockets into the skirt pattern. The fabric is made from an Indonesian batik print that my mom got for me as a present. Woo-hoo! I love the small pop of color.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with how this project turned out. I'm looking forward to re-wearing this one throughout the years, as it's fairly classic and not likely go out of style soon. Enjoy the rest of your beautiful Saturday, friends!

Wheee!!

 

 

 

 

Upcycled Gray Button-Up Dress Shirt

Hello all! I haven't been able to do much sewing in the past month or so, due to the vast mounds of books and schoolwork that overtook my sewing table. But now it is that magical time of year - spring break! And with it comes a little more time to sew. And with that, I give you my latest project:

Gray Dress Shirt Refashion

I found this shirt as a men's XL dress shirt, living a lonely life at my local thrift store. I decided to take it home and give it a home. It was my first refashion and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I cut off the collar, shortened the sleeves, cut two inches off the bottom, and took in several inches along the sides. I accidentally deleted the photo of the original shirt (whoops!) but if you take a look at my Instagram feed, you can see it there.

Gray Dress Shirt Refashion Upcycle

Gray Dress Shirt Refashion Upcycle

Gray Dress Shirt Refashion Upcycle

There is a personal story behind the green bias tape that I used to finish the raw edges. I found it in my grandma's sewing stash, which was given to me after she passed away several years ago. I haven't dug through it too much, but I'm really glad I decided to take a look.

I'm hoping to get more posts up soon, but until then, have a wonderful day!

Finished Project: Navy Blue Anna Dress

The Anna Dress by By Hand London. An internet classic. The pattern came out just around the time I started sewing. It felt like I couldn't turn around without seeing another version, a hacked version, etc. I've been wanting to try it for myself for a while now, and finally had a reason to give it a go.

Navy Blue Anna Dress

A recent school project asked for us to address an issue of social justice with a creative project. I chose to make a dress out of organic, fair-trade fabric, and decided that the long-awaited Anna dress was the perfect pattern to use. Let me just say, it is extremely difficult to find certified fair-trade fabric, even on the internet. I finally settled on a navy blue cotton from Organic Cotton Plus. They are a family owned business that sources their chemical-free cotton from a farm in Texas. I will definitely be using them again, as the service was great and the fabric has held up beautifully.

navy blue floor length Anna dress

Back to the dress! Really, what else can be said about the Anna? She's beautiful, easy and quick to sew, and just looks so feminine. I chose to do the floor length version because I don't have too many long dresses and they make me feel super elegant. And that slit soooo says I'm-Angelina-Jolie-at-the-oscars-sexy.

Navy blue anna dress 2

I added pockets to mine, since I absolutely love having pockets in everything I own. I can finally say I understand what all the fuss is about and am totally on board with By Hand London's designs. I can't wait to try the knee length version in the future.

We got a little artsy with the pictures

Navy blue floor length Anna dress Navy blue Anna dress

 

Bonus: My friend who took the pictures has a cat named Lucy. Isn't she adorable??

Lucy cutie cat

Throwback Thursday - Aqua Bridesmaid's Dress

Happy Thursday!! I personally can't wait for this week to be over, can you? The first full work week after the holidays is so rough. I mean, how can they expect you to work 5 days in a row?? And here in the Midwest, it's been extremely cold. Like, hurt-your-face-when-you-walk-outside, dear-god-why-did-I-walk-outside, kind of cold. Which leads me to think about warmer days and sunnier times, like this wedding I was in this summer: Aqua bridesmaid's dress

A dear friend of mine got married in August, and the only guidelines she gave her bridesmaid's for their dresses were the color and length. Otherwise, we were free to choose whatever we wanted. I, of course, got really excited about the ability to make my own dress and started dreaming. For the bodice, I used Simplicity 1497, I used chiffon for the first time (which was a project unto itself), added pockets using this tutorial from Burdastyle, and drafted my own pattern for the skirt and sleeves.

The bodice starting to come together

Aqua bridesmaid's dress 2

Finished aqua bridesmaid's dress

 

This was the biggest project I have attempted so far, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. So while it is snowing sideways outside, I will sit inside, sip my tea under a blanket, and remember happy, sunny times.