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!
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.
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.
I placed pins along where I expected to stitch on each side, and then took the dress back off.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
If you’re anything like me, when you get done with a big sewing project your table looks a bit like this:
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!
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.
Look at all that. It’s almost gross.
Now it’s clean and pristine!
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
- A safety pin
First I take a cut of fabric that’s about twice as long as it is wide.
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.
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.
Next I fold down 1/2″ and press to form the casing.
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?”
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!
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.
A view from the top after I stitched my corners.
Next it’s time to insert the ribbon and make it a drawstring pouch!
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.
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.
Now you’re halfway done!
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.
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!
So you’re basically a beginner at sewing your own stuff, but you’ve found an awesome home decor sewing project that you can’t wait to try (might I recommend this one or this one?). You head down to the fabric store ready to buy a yard or two of the cutest fabric you can find, but the options are a bit overwhelming. How can there even be so many forms of cotton? How do you know which is the right fabric for your project?
Hopefully this post will be able to help you navigate those waters a bit.
I myself typically gravitate towards woven fabric as opposed to knit fabric. Woven fabric is easier to sew because it doesn’t have as much of a stretch as knit. I’m also biased towards cotton for no particular reason.
But when you’re choosing a fabric for your next project, here are some factors to consider:
- What are you using the fabric for? Is it an object that will be heavily used, like a seat cushion, or purely decorative like a throw pillow? You could probably guess that heavier-duty fabrics need to be used for objects that will see more wear and tear, but more delicate fabrics can be used for projects that won’t be touched often.
- Will you need to clean it often? Consider the cleaning instructions, typically written on the fabric bolt. An object like a tablecloth or placemat that will be exposed to the risk of spills and stains should be easy to clean, so you should avoid dry clean only fabrics for these projects.
- Does it match what you already have? This is important not only in terms of color, but also in terms of texture. If your style of choice for the room in question is soft and light, a heavy duty fabric will look out of place. Likewise, a piece of home decor made from lightweight quilting cotton may look cheap amidst leather furniture and rich mahogany.
- Is it easy to work with? I mentioned this earlier, but I typically choose woven fabrics as they’re less prone to stretching and distorting during sewing. You’ll also want to choose a fabric that’s of a thickness that you’re comfortable with and have the materials to sew.
If you keep these things in mind as you shop, it should be much easier to choose the fabric that will best fit your project.
Thanks for reading!
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.
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
- And all your basic sewing supplies
Using 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″.
Next 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.
Fold 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.
Pin 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.
Now all you have left to do is flip it right side out, press your seam, and slip stitch the opening shut.
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!