Blue ruched ombre leopard print sun dress

Yes, those really are all words, and my newest dress is a fabulous combination them. I had never bought the fabric that comes already ruched at the top because I thought it was kind of expensive for the kind of dress you get out of it, but this was a remnant on super sale so I went for it and had just enough to make this dress. It was super simple, just one seam in the middle of the back and a hem. I added ribbon straps because I don't trust that type of strapless dress, but I think it looks a little better with the white shrug anyway.

If you want a super quick project go for the ruched fabric. I think it took me longer to pose for the pictures than it took to actually make the dress. It could be a nifty project for teaching someone how to sew because it's almost instant results and no shaping or dealing with pattern pieces.

When I bought the blue fabric there was a yellow and pink version in the remnant box too, but it was only half a yard. I'm not sure what to do with it. It only stretches out to at most 24 inches, so I either need to find an extremely tiny friend or someone with a young daughter to make a similar dress for.

Picnic dress

I picked up this nifty red and white plaid tablecloth at the thrift store. At first I thought it was only a circle and I would only be able to make a skirt, but when I got it home I saw it was really a big oblong tablecloth and I had enough to make a whole dress! It's not the most flattering print, but I wanted to play with lining up plaid and I think I was mostly successful. I used New Look 6457 and made view D, but without a belt. I added some extra darts and made the gather at the bust deeper to give it a better shape. It still sort of says "I'm wearing a tablecloth", but I like it anyway.

I think I bought this pattern about six years ago and this is the third dress or possibly the fourth dress I've made from it. I've definitely gotten my money's worth.


Tutorial: Easy way to fix a stretched out or too-large waistband

I found this nifty broomstick skirt at the Downtown Rescue Mission Thrift Store. Unfortunately it was a size too big and the elastic on the waistband was all stretched out so when I put it on I looked like the "after" picture in a diet ad. But the skirt was in good shape and worth saving. I suppose I could have carefully seam-ripped out the old elastic and replaced it, but I'm all about quick and easy solutions. This tutorial covers a quick and easy way to fix a stretched out or too-large waistband without removing the old elastic.

First wrap a piece of elastic around your waist to determine the correct size waistband. I made my waistband slightly tighter than I wanted the skirt in the end because there's a lot of bulk to the skirt, which will stretch the elastic out a little once it's sewn onto the skirt. Sew the ends of the elastic together so you have a continuous band.

Pin the elastic to the inside of the original waistband, distributing it evenly around. 

Sew the elastic to the old waistband using a zig-zag stitch, stretching the elastic to fit the original waistband size in the process. So in the end, when the new elastic is unstretched, the old waistband will be gathered somewhat. I had to use both hands to hold the new elastic stretched out while sewing; one hand held it in front of the presser foot and one hand behind the presser foot.

You should end up with a nice line of zig-zag going all around the elastic on the inside.

And if you've chosen a matching thread color you should only just be able to see the stitching on the outside of the waistband. I was out of brown thread to match the skirt, so I used maroon, but it's still close enough that you can only just see it. Normally my shirt will end up covering the waistband anyway.

Now the waistband of your skirt should be fitted to the right size!

Tutorial: Ironing board pad and cover

I had a problem with my ironing board pad sliding around under the cover and the cover falling off. I was feeling too cheap to buy a new one, so I decided to try making one. I'd seen a few different DIY ironing board covers, but they all seemed to reuse the old pad and that's what I was having problems with. I devised a combined ironing board pad and cover from an old towel and a bedsheet and wrote up a quick tutorial to share.

To replace the pad and cover on your ironing board you'll need a towel, a bedsheet or other fabric for the cover, and some strong string. The towel and sheet or fabric need to be long enough to cover the ironing board. My board is full size so I had to use an old beach towel, but a for a table top ironing board you could get away with a smaller bath towel. My towel was striped and the sheet was solid, so you can kind of see the stripes through the cover. I'm going for functional rather than pretty so it doesn't matter for me, but you could always use a solid towel or thicker fabric to avoid it.

First, remove the old cover and pad from the ironing board. I had to cut the string on mine to do this, but try to keep the cover intact because you'll use it as your pattern for the new pieces. Then lay the towel and cover fabric down on the floor and pin the old cover to the sheet and towel, going through all the layers.

Cut around the pattern, leaving approximately two inches on all sides to have plenty of room for the drawstring casing and for the cover to wrap around the board.

Then unpin the pattern from the new pieces and pin the cover fabric to the towel all around to hold the two pieces together.

Stitch around 1/2 inch from the edge, leaving several inches open on the square end. Stitch backwards and forwards several times at the ends to reinforce the opening.

Stitch around again, about 1 inch inside the previous stitching line, to make the casing for the drawstring. Make sure to leave the same several inches open on the flat end and backstitch to reinforce the opening.

Tie the end of the string to the largest safety pin you can find and thread the drawstring through the casing. The easiest method for me was to push the safety pin through about six inches of the casing, and then push the bunched up part of the casing all way towards the spool rather than let a whole lot of casing bunch up at once.

Once the string is threaded through the whole thing you are ready to attach it to your board. Position the cover and pull the string as tight as possible. This is where having strong string is important! On my first try I just used some yarn I had and it snapped as I was tying it off. I had to get the boyfriend to help with this step because I needed three or four hands to get the cover positioned correctly and hold the string tight at the same time. It also helps to turn the board upside down for this step so you don't pull it over on to yourself.

If you wanted to get fancy you could use some sort of toggle on the ends of the drawstring so it's easy to get the cover off to wash it, but I just tied a big old knot.

Your new ironing pad and board cover are ready for use!


Thesis Granny Square blanket

When I was working on writing my Master's thesis and getting ready for my defense last semester I started making granny squares from stash yarn to keep myself sane. I must have been very very very stressed, because within two months I had 80 squares, more than enough for a throw for the living room. This was mostly a stash-busting project; the only yarn I had to buy was some more of the dark brown yarn because I didn't have enough initially to finish the last round of each square. I used the joining-as-you-go method for connecting the squares that I learned over at Attic24. That method is way easier than stitching all the squares together at the end!

It's a wonderfully cozy throw for the living room couch. The boyfriend likes to wrap up in it early in the morning when he's out of bed but not quite ready to face the day yet.

Yellow sun dress

I finished a yellow flowered sun dress last week. I used McCall's M5094, which I originally bought about four years ago to make view C. I ended up never wearing view C out in public because it was too cleavage-y, so this time I made view D, which has slightly wider straps and a higher neckline.

I'm pretty proud of this dress for several reasons. First, it was another project from some of the fabric I picked up for $1/yard, so the dress ended up costing about $3! Second, I was very careful with my stitching and lining up the pattern pieces and ended up with something I know I'll actually wear out in public; this hasn't been the case with a lot of dresses I've attempted before, especially ones made out of broadcloth instead of jersey knit. I have no problem with skirts, but once you add in bust shaping I get stuck. Third, I figured out a solution to problem I've had with a lot of dress patterns! I'm tall and have a large rib cage, but my cup size is not that large. So even though my bust measurements indicates a size larger than my waist measurement corresponds to, I don't actually need that larger size because I don't fill it out correctly. So from now on I'm going with the pattern size closer to my waist size instead of my bust size. To fix the bodice on this dress, I ended up taking tucks by the zipper that are sort of visible in picture below but seemed easier than ripping out the zipper and redoing the back seams. I also ended up with straps that were just the tiniest bit too long, so I added the thin diagonal strips at the back to keep them from falling down. I think the diagonal strips add some interest to the back, and hopefully distract from the tucks by the zipper. 

In this picture the mid-drift looks crooked, but it's just the way I'm standing. I used the timer for these pictures so they aren't the best.


Two new spring skirts

I whipped up two new skirts for spring from some cotton fabric I found on sale for $1/yard. I bought 1.5 yards of each, so both skirts only cost $1.50. Now if only it would warm up so I can wear them!

I made this black one last night. It's just a simple straight skirt with an elastic waist.

Today I made a A-line skirt with this blue Hawaiian fabric. It's more fitted at the waist so I used a short zipper to close it.

If I make enough spring-y clothes the weather will cooperate, right?

Let's Go Stencils

 I saw this really neat design here and it immediately made me think of my brother. The original poster was selling shirts last year like that, but I don't know if he still is. I decided to just adapt his design and stencil it on some thrift store T-shirts I picked up. I kind of feel bad copying other people's design, but I'm using it for gifts for family members, not selling it, so I'm going to call it inspiration rather than theft.

To make the stencils I just printed variations of the design on full page sticker paper, on an ink jet printer (laser jet printers have trouble with the thick paper). Then I cut out the design with an exacto knife, so essentially I end up with a stencil that is also a sticker. This means it can stick directly to the fabric and doesn't move around while painting. However, it also means it's not reusable, so I would only suggest this method for simple designs and only a few prints. I was going a little bit crazy by the time I was cutting out the 6th stencil!

I went to the Downtown Rescue Mission Thrift Store, which is by far my favorite thrift store in Huntsville. They have a huge selection of clothes, and if you pay attention to which tags are discounted you can get stuff for really cheap; the T-shirts I bought ended up averaging to about a dollar each.

The yellow one is my new biking shirt:

I wasn't sure what size shirt my brother wears, and he didn't respond to my text when I asked him, so I asked my mom. Her response wasn't very helpful, "He's a medium, but his shoulders are pretty big, so maybe a large medium, or a large that runs small, but he doesn't like his shirts to be too loose." So I just bought a medium shirt, a medium shirt that looked pretty big, and a large shirt, and made three variations of the design! So hopefully one will fit him, and if one is too big I'll give it to my dad because he bikes too.

The paint got a little messed up on this one, and I later I noticed the design was crooked too, so at least I got all the screw ups out of the way on one shirt! 

For the gray one I made the stencil a lot smaller and put it where the pocket would be if there was a pocket.

For the green shirt I left out the Let's part and just printed the GO bicycle larger.

After the last shirt I decided I really liked the GO design by itself, so I made two small stencils to go on some old pairs of shorts I already had.