Because everything can be a little cuter

Category Archives: Sewing Tutorials

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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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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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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My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa Designs

When I moved into my empty apartment in May, I was initially using a flipped-over laundry basket as a dining table. When I was able to go to Ikea and upgrade to a real table, I was pretty excited. I then got a bowl to fill with fruit to grab on my way out the door to work and to serve as decoration. But sometimes that bowl looks lonely.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsLike this.

So I decided to put something under that bowl that might jazz up the space a little bit. I clear the table for sewing occasionally, so a full-length table runner or table cloth would get annoying. So instead I decided to sew a small centerpiece. It’s a very easy project to do, so follow along for a guide on how to make one of your own!

What you’ll need for this super easy sewing project:

  • Fabric of your choice. You can use a decorative fabric on top then a basic fabric on the bottom, match top to bottom, two different decorative fabrics, whatever you want to do!
  • Drafting paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • And all your basic sewing supplies

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsUsing drafting paper, a pencil, and my ruler, I drew two perpendicular lines that split each other right down the middle. These were my desired length and width, plus seam allowances. So if you want one that’s 22″ long and 16″ wide, with a 1/2″ seam allowance, your lines would be 23″ and 17″.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsNext I sketched a curved line to connect two ends. I chose one curve and erased the rest. It’d be near impossible to replicate this curve by hand three times and have a fully symmetrical centerpiece, so let’s do it an easier way.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsFold your paper along one line, so that your drawn curve is on the bottom layer of paper. You’ll be able to see the curve through the op layer, so trace it onto the top layer and unfold. Repeat by folding along the other line, so you have one full symmetrical shape.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsCut out your shape and press out the creases, just as you would with a store-bought sewing pattern.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsTrace the pattern onto two pieces of fabric. I chose to use a decorative home decor fabric for the top but use plain quilting cotton for the bottom. But this part is totally up to you!

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsPin right sides together, but before you stitch if you’re using a curved shape like mine, it’s a good idea to mark your stitching line before you take it to the machine. Seam allowances can be pretty difficult to stick to on a curved seam, so even though this may feel tedious it will help you keep your place. For more tips on sewing on a curve, check out this helpful resource from Sew4Home.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsYou’ll want to leave a few inches unstitched so that you can flip it inside out. Be sure to make a mark to remind yourself to stop stitching!

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsNow all you have left to do is flip it right side out, press your seam, and slip stitch the opening shut.

My table before sewing an easy home decor DIY project - Paroxa DesignsNow my fruit bowl isn’t quite so lonely.

This is a really easy project to do in an hour or so, and you can make several different centerpieces for different times of the year or events. Hope you enjoy!

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Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa Designs

I moved into my apartment mid-May after graduating from college with zero furniture.

My apartment was a beige wasteland.

Thanks to a paint job and some Ikea furniture, it’s not quite as bad as it was, but it’s still a little boring. So I decided to look into some easy decorative pieces that I could sew to jazz it up.

A clear frontrunner emerged: the throw pillow.

Now, to be honest I still don’t have a couch to keep a throw pillow on. But I wanted to try it anyway.

If you can sew in a straight line and press a hem you have want it takes to make a throw pillowcase!

Here’s a quick rundown of how I make a 16×16 open back pillowcase:

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsSewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa Designs

Assuming a 1/2″ seam allowance, draw a 17″x17″ square on your fabric of choice. This will be the front of the pillowcase.

The back is a little trickier.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa Designs

The back will be two pieces that overlap. Divide 17 by two and you’ll get 8.5″. But you’ll also want some extra length to press under, and a little extra so that the two pieces will touch.

I decided to press under 1/2″ twice, so I added an inch, then an extra 1/4″ for overlap. So the width of my two back pieces were 9 3/4″ (Full disclosure: Harry Potter was on) and the length was 17″.

Make sure as you draw these pieces that the pattern will line up when you make your stitches.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsHere are all my pieces laid out. Note that the design on the fabric is the same on every one.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsNext I laid the pieces right sides together as they’re going to be stitched. The two overlapping edges should be pressed and stitched before you sew the side seams though.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsIt’s a good idea to lightly mark the edges you’re going to press so that you don’t get them mixed up as you move them to your ironing board.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsYou can choose how wide or narrow to press the edges, but I chose to press them 1/2″ twice, so that the raw edge is enclosed.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsTopstitch the pressed edges in place.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsNow just pin right sides together and sew around the edges on each of the 4 sides, leaving the center of the back open.

When trimming your seams, I’ve been told that trimming the corners in a curve and trimming closer to the seam on one piece of fabric than the other will help your corners be less bulky. Personally since this is a removable pillowcase I chose to trim the seam allowances to about 1/4″ and finish with an overlock stitch.

Whatever you choose to do, next you just have to flip it right side out and press the seams – I recommend using a pressing ham to press them open and then flat.

Sewing a throw pillowcase with Paroxa DesignsAnd voila! You have a throw pillowcase! Buy a 16×16 pillowform from a craft store like JoAnn’s and you’re all set!

This is an extremely easy project for a beginner. But if you like the pillow I just made and want one exactly like it, you can purchase it from my Etsy shop here (I don’t have a couch to put it on so I don’t mind parting with it!)

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Happy sewing!

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