Because everything can be a little cuter

Altering a dress for the first time!

Before and after altering a dress

Today being the first day of spring, I felt it was a great day to head to the mall and see if I could add anything to my spring wardrobe! Despite having proven that you are not 21 forever, I ventured into Forever 21 and grabbed a couple of dresses that were each about $10. One fit perfectly, but the other was too big in the bust – unfortunately a typical problem for me.

As I mentioned in this post, I’m really interested in learning to alter clothes, so I decided to buy the dress and give it a try!

It may be hard to see in the above “before” picture, but when I put on the dress as I bought it, it really sagged in the armpits and showed my bra. There was no way I could wear this without a cardigan, and it just made me look frumpy. But I’m tired of always having to wear cardigans with my $10 dresses!

step one of altering a dress

I pinched and tucked and played around with the dress a little, and decided what it needed was the side stitches brought in a little under the arms.

Step two of altering a dress

Next I turned the dress inside out and put it on. If I had a dressform I guess I could just put the dress on there, but alas, I have only myself. This way I could mark about where I wanted to sew to take in the sides.

Step three of altering a dress

I placed pins along where I expected to stitch on each side, and then took the dress back off.

Step four of altering a dress

I did some measuring and decided to take the dress in 1 1/4″ on each side, so I hand-basted a line that started 1 1/4″ from the edge and converged with the existing stitch at the waistline.

step five of altering a dress

I tried the dress on for fit and decided to add a little slack before using my sewing machine to stitch a more permanent line.

step six of altering a dress with a sewing machine

After sewing with the machine, I noticed that on one side the armhole hadn’t lined up properly (left). I possibly could have left it alone and no one would have noticed (or if they did, they’d just assume it was a cheap dress), but I decided to go all the way and fix it. I opened the seam a few inches and re-stitched so that the armhole lined up more smoothly.

step seven of altering a dress with a sewing machine

After trying the dress on for fit, the last step was to trim the seam allowances and finish them with an overlock stitch since I don’t have a serger. Theoretically I could have just left them as they were because they didn’t show through the dress when I wore it, but I decided to go all the way and finish the edges myself.

finished product after altering a dress with a sewing machine

Overall I’m really happy with how it turned out! I have a few dresses that I have this problem with, but they all have something quirky like a lining or a bias finishing on the armhole that would make them a little more difficult to take in, so I’m glad I got to try it for the first time on a dress that I could just pinch in and stitch.

Definitely looking forward to more alterations projects in the future!

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The Fabric Pile

A big pile of my fabric for crafting

 

Pictured above is my attempt at organizing my fabric and notions collection. I took the painful step of throwing away any fabrics that I knew I’d have no use for in the near future, like scrap fabric that was basically in shreds. Even when I have a ton of ideas for things to craft, it’s hard to get started without knowing exactly what I have in inventory because there have been times when I’ve started a project only to realize I didn’t have the right zipper, lining, thread, etc.

I’m also looking for inspiration for things to craft out of all this fabric. Just browsing the internet for project ideas is a project all on its own!

I should mention however that the picture above doesn’t even include my Christmas fabric. That’s sitting in an extra large JoAnn bag in my closet and has to be lifted from the bottom with both hands. But summer and spring aren’t exactly ideal times for Christmas crafts right?

I’ve added a few new items to my Etsy Shop if you’d like to check it out and created a section just for spring and summer items which I hope to fill pretty quickly!

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Finally back!

Wow I have had a crazy last few months.

I just left my full-time job, and unfortunately didn’t have as much time for crafting around Christmas as I would have liked because I was working for a retail company, and of course Christmas is the busiest time of the year.

After Christmas was over it was time for a half marathon at Disney World, and basically every weekend since then I’ve been running in local race events.

But as I mentioned before I’ve just recently left my job and have a few months before starting school full time in the fall which leaves plenty of time for crafting!

Unfortunately, the reason I left my job is because I’m moving out of my apartment and into my parents’ house for the summer, so it wouldn’t be smart for me to do a bunch of decorating when I’m in the process of moving out. So instead I’m sewing a bunch of stuff out of the mountains of fabric I own to sell on Etsy and hopefully declutter a little.

I’d also really like to learn how to alter clothes, so I may be blogging a bit about that process as well.

Glad to be back!

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Christmastime is here….

So I found out at work that my Thanksgiving and Christmas time off is going to be super limited (yay retail), so I need to squeeze the Christmas out of every available moment. As such, I’ve already put up the Christmas tree.

Time to start crafting for Christmas

 

Okay, so “putting up” the tree mostly just involved plugging it in, but it’s the thought that counts.

But also, Christmas craft time is upon us! And that means the Christmas section of my Etsy shop is open for business, and you can shop here! Right now I only have two things listed but you can keep checking back for more items!

Also a tutorial for the placemats is coming soon :)

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Quick Sewing Tip: Easy Cleanup

If you’re anything like me, when you get done with a big sewing project your table looks a bit like this:

Quick DIY Sewing tip to clean up after crafting

Threads and scraps everywhere!

I used to try to clean these up by wiping with my hand or with a piece of fabric, but that only knocked thread to the floor.

But alas, there’s an easier way!

Quick DIY Sewing tip to clean up after crafting

That’s right. A lint roller.

If you haven’t thought of this already you’re probably hitting yourself like I was for not thinking of it sooner. Usually I only think to reach for the lint roller when I’m wearing black, but it’s a great cleanup tool.

Quick DIY Sewing tip to clean up after crafting

Look at all that. It’s almost gross.

Quick DIY Sewing tip to clean up after crafting

 

Now it’s clean and pristine!

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Christmas Sewing Craft: Drawstring Pouch

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

I’m not ashamed to say I use reusable grocery bags every time I go to the grocery store (unless I forget to bring them with me). Yesterday I went to an event where they handed out fabric bags to throw your goodies in, and my first thought was “Yay another grocery bag!” My family also holds onto gift bags and reuses the same ones over and over and over again. So I thought to myself, why not sew a fabric gift bag?

A little drawstring Christmas pouch is great for small gifts, candy, ornaments, etc. It’s reusable, and the drawstring opening builds suspense by completely concealing what’s inside. And if your Christmas party is lacking anything, it’s suspense.

What you’ll need:

  • A Christmas fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Ribbon
  • A safety pin

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

First I take a cut of fabric that’s about twice as long as it is wide.

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

I press them in half where the bottom of the bag will be, and the two free ends that meet at the top will form the opening.

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

My ribbon is 3/8″ wide, so I’m making the drawstring casing 1/2″ wide to allow adequate room. to make sure no frayed edges are exposed, Fold over about 1/8″ on the edge of the fabric and stitch it in place. Only one side is pictured above, but I do this on both sides of the opening.

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Next I fold down 1/2″ and press to form the casing.

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

I stitch down the casing with a zigzag stitch to keep the edge from fraying as much. I could theoretically overlock and then straight stitch it down, but the zigzag stitch just looks more fun. And in the words of Sheldon Cooper, “What’s life without whimsy?”

2013-11-03 15.51.11

 

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Next I pin the right sides together to form the sides of the bag, and these I stitch with an overlock stitch and no seam allowance so that the stitch will line up perfectly when the edge of the casing. Make sure to leave the opening of the casing free so you can insert the ribbon!

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

To make the bag stand up on its own, you’ll want to sew the corners of the inside into two triangles that will lay flat against the bottom. I don’t know if there’s a science to determining how wide you want your triangles, but I make mine half the width of my pouch. My pouch is 6 inches wide, so you can see in the picture that I’m making my triangles 3 inches wide, with the side seam right in the middle. I draw a line where my gauge is measuring 3 inches and stitch right along that line, then draw a similar line on the other side and repeat.

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

A view from the top after I stitched my corners.

Next it’s time to insert the ribbon and make it a drawstring pouch!

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

I used leftover pieces of ribbon from another project that weren’t quite long enough, but you’ll want yours to be twice the width of your bag plus a couple of inches. My pouches were 6 inches wide, so I should have used 14 inch ribbons, but alas.

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Affix a safety pin to the end of one of your ribbons, and insert it into one of the casings. When you reach the next opening, keep pushing the ribbon through the other side of the casing until the ribbon has come full circle.

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Now you’re halfway done!

How to sew an easy DIY Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

Finally, attach the safety pin to one end of your second piece of ribbon, and insert it into the other side of the opening, where your first ribbon simply continued through without stopping. You’ll again want to move the ribbon all the way through so that both ends of the same ribbon are on the same side of the opening.

How to sew an easy Christmas pullstring pouch - Paroxa Designs

 

And voila! You have a drawstring little pouch for Christmas. I think these would be great if you’re having a party and want to give out little goody bags, and you can make it taller or wider as you so desire!

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Living on the Edge: Installing Wall Shelves

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectWall shelves can be a sleek, minimalist way to create some storage space in your home. I decided to install some wall shelves above my TV to clear up some of the clutter on my TV stand.

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectBefore, I had junk all over the stand blocking my remote signals and stressing me out. Also I had a gaping empty stretch of wall that needed filling!

Remember the post where I talked about how to find a stud in your wall? Well this is why I had to learn how! Each shelf has three screws to secure it to the wall, and for maximum weight capacity at least one has to be secured to a stud.

Here are a few screwing tips I learned to hang these walls.

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectBefore you get to screwing, you’ll want to use a skinny drill bit like the one pictured above to form a little starter hole where you’re planning to drill in a screw. It’ll make the screw move into the wall more easily.

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectThe white screw-looking object pictured above is actually a dry wall anchor. Anchors will help stabilize a screw in the wall so that it can carry more weight without pulling out a chunk of the wall. I only used anchors on screws that weren’t going into a stud. Different kinds of anchors come with different instructions, so be sure to follow yours closely!

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectIf your screw ends up looking like the one pictured above, and no screwdriver can turn it in or out, you have yourself a stripped screw. The only choice is to take it out and put in a new one. Mine got so securely stuck I had to get out the pliers and jiggle it out!

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectEventually all my screwing hung the bracket above that in theory I’d be able to gently slide the shelf onto, but really sliding the self onto the bracket may have been the most difficult step!

Hanging wall shelves as a home decor projectBut eventually I was able to do it! And now I have some nifty storage space and some screwing experience under my belt.

I prayed pretty vehemently that hanging these right above my TV wouldn’t backfire terribly, but so far they’ve been safe and secure!

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