Archive of ‘summer sewing project’ category

Ikat Tank Top


Remember the accidental skirt? The one that was the bottom half of a hacked Sanibel dress? Well, what remained of the top half was calling to me and frankly, would not shut up.  My close and tearful assessment of the top was that it had three main complications, a) it was voluminous at the hem, b) I had made a lining that was a bit smaller than the outer portion so it didn’t lay straight, and c) it was too short.  You know, I’ll just come out and say it: the top is CROPPED and VOLUMINOUS.  I mean, what the what? Who am I? Is this Hot Topic?

I wanted to give up on this top and I put it on the dress form in the studio because I didn’t know what else to do.  It looked really pretty up there and kept inviting me to try get back together. I blame it on the neckline. I reached out to Instagram, as you do, and got lots of fantastic ideas (sewists are really the best people). Lots of people suggested adding a band to the bottom, Jess (coralbunnyandlo) even suggested adding a wide lace band for a boho look, which I thought was brilliant. And I tried. I really tried to make something like that work.  But, you know what? It wasn’t working.  I had the darn ‘too small lining’ thing going on and it kept making puckers. (more…)

As it turns out, I don’t need a mountain-scape tunic

Plaintain Tee to Tunic | a happy stitch

I know.  You didn’t even know that a ‘mountain-scape tunic’ was a thing? Because it is not.  And, you know whose closet doesn’t need one? This girl.  I got started on this idea after seeing a top in a random catalog I receive called Poetry.  Except their top was darker colors and more artsy-looking. (It doesn’t look like it’s even available anymore.)  I thought I would recreate it and then my brain piped up with a contribution of its own, “what is better than a top? The answer is always a tunic! Let’s make ours special by making a tunic! Yeah, a tunic!”  So, I shopped for a similar fabric and found this mountain-scape fabric on the Mood website. It was brighter and more figurative but was the closest I could find.  So, I went for it. My brain is still excited and egging me on.  “Yes! A bright and detailed mountain-scape tunic!”  Well, as it turns out I don’t need a mountain-scape tunic. Like, I don’t need it at all. (more…)

A Handmade Summer Wardrobe plan

Wardrobe Design for Summer | a happy stitch

Hey, happy August everyone. I figured it was probably about time that I wrote down and owned up to my summer wardrobe planning and scheming.  You know, before the summer itself ends.

The back story is this, during Me Made May I had a bit of a reckoning (it’s not the first time, MMM does this to me). My handmade wardrobe was out of touch with what I actually wear.  I managed to wear something handmade every day in May but I wasn’t always pulling something I loved out of the closet in order to accomplish it.  I realize May was a long time ago in blogger years but the point I am making is that still, even after SO MUCH sewing, I am not that great at sewing for my actual real life.  Considering I’m actively trying to be aware and sew for real life, well…it was a frustrating realization to say the least.  I took a look at those items I did want to wear regularly and realized something pretty quickly; my most-worn handmade clothes are versatile, comfortable and low-key.  Everything pictured below was worn more than once. (more…)

the upcycling project :: brightening up a dull dress with a splash of detail

detail on a dull dress

everyone once in a while I rescue something from my closet that is sorely neglected and try to upcyle it into something I will regularly wear.    it’s how these neglected scarves became infinity scarves  I wear regularly and why I rescued a consignment store dress and turned it into a skirt and top.

next up, in the queue, was this light denim chambray dress from Land’s End canvas.   I liked this dress but it was dull…a little long and lacking detail completely.  kind of relegated to the dreaded ‘mom dress’ category if you ask me.  at least on my frame it looked dumpy and sad.   here is the before and after.  (admittedly, this is a classic ‘sad faced’ before picture and ‘happy as can be’ after picture. the difference is I am not hawking diet pills.)

dull dress before and after

back to the dull dress…never fear, its the upcycler to the rescue!  with my trusty seam ripper I was prepared for anything.  and, let me tell you, there was so much seam ripping action.  I started by shortening the length which involved unpicking the seam, hacking off an even strip of the bottom and re-folding and stitching…not too tough, right?  yet, somehow I have neglected to re-hem so many things in my closet!  then with trusty seam ripper still in hand, I moved on to un-picking the entire belt and the bottom seam of the dress packet.  I wanted to make one side of the belt colorful and I had a bit of scrap fabric from another project ready for the job.  in fact, it’s beautiful voile fabric from the latest Amy Butler.  cameo to be exact and it is soft and silky with just enough blue to fit in with the style of the dress but also pops of color to keep it interesting.

upcycling - belt detail

next up, I tackled the placket.  I love the placket on this dress, just the right bit of button detail and a pretty swooping neck but I wanted a tiny bit of color behind the buttons.  I will be honest, this was fussy seam picking and tedious detail work but it was absolutely worth it.  I removed the buttons and unpicked the seam at the bottom of the placket so I could sew on a tiny bit of fabric to the placket.  I started by sewing right-sides together one side of my strip of voile to the placket, then I folded over the top and the other side and sewing it down in an upside down l-shape.  last, I stuffed the bottom of the voile into the bottom part of the placket sewing it down by sewing one stitch on the outside.

upcycling project - placket detailit wasn’t all that difficult but mildly hand-cramping work especially considering how slippery voile can be.  but, it turned out really nice…just the detail I was looking for.  never mind, of course, that I realized afterwards I had sewn the small sliver of voile fabric  on wrong-side facing out!  but, I didn’t go in and fix it. really, you can’t even tell!  can you tell? well, either way, there was no way I was going to attempt such a delicate operation twice! once was enough, thank you very much.

and, that is the whole dress upcycle!  I have already worn this dress a few times (even washed it without much drama) and am happy to have it in circulation.  no more sad corners in the closet!

summer sewing project :: up-cycled

oh dear. it has been a long time since I have visited this little space. sometimes I get consumed by a sewing project and need a little space from the blog but that, sadly, isn’t the case this time.  it’s just the regular spring craziness around here.  in the last six weeks everyone in the house, except me, has celebrated a birthday…throw in mother’s day; a sprained ankle; and a stomach flu and you have full-scale chaos.  there is something to be said for just getting it all out of the way, however.  I’m more than ready to come back into the fold! bring it!

with that said, I’ve got some ‘new’ clothes.  they are actually my cheaters for the summer sewing project.  I found these pieces in a lovely consignment store and each one was fantastic but needed a little adjusting.  so, I figured it counted as ‘made by me’ with just a twist of cheating.


both of these dresses and the striped tunic below needed shorter straps and the black dress needed the sides taken in as well.    I was a bit intimidated by messing with the knit fabric on the black dress but I’m amazed by how well a simple stretch needle works! I also had to serger the sides to keep it together.  shortening the straps is so easy especially when it’s straightforward to pick apart the seams.

I must have an unusually short distance across the top of my shoulders because I always want to shorten straps.  perhaps, it’s an issue related to my, ahem, chest.

[this picture makes the bodice look really tight, which it doesn’t feel like it is when I’m wearing it.  hmm. mental note to check on that.]

these two skirts are probably my favorites. the mustard one was a tunic that just looked sloppy on me no matter how I tried to dress it up.  so, I cut off the bodice (which hit at an empire waist).  then I sewed some elastic around the waist.  so easy! it had a tie that I kept just for the look, it serves no real purpose.

the grey skirt is probably the one I’ve worn the most and it was, by far, the easiest to make. in fact, I just cut it. no sewing involved at all.  it was what I call a ‘twofer’ but I have no idea if that is actually what they are called.  when the top half of a dress is one color and style and the bottom half is different so it kind of looks like a shirt and skirt but it’s a dress? yeah, a twofer. all I did was cut off the top part and it already has a piece of knit jersey to create a waistband.  um, that’s it.  I was done!

I’m feeling like a real-life molly ringwald.

well, after all of this I’m feeling nearly done with my summer clothes sewing.  I want to try one dress and a pair of capri-length pants just because I’ve never made either one and want to give it a try. but, my enthusiasm for sewing clothes is waning and I’m eager to sew some things for the home with the lovely wool I got from grandma.  we will see which way the wind blows.


summer sewing project :: linen bib shirt

oh yes, I am still chugging along with the summer sewing project (to sew my summer wardrobe).  I have actually cheated a little bit but more on that in a future post.

for now, I’m proud to present *the linen bib shirt*.  I drafted the pattern for this top myself…based mostly off an existing top in my closet.  I’d love to say that was a seamless process but it wasn’t.  there may have been even a small amount of swearing when my first pattern draft needed a good deal of tweaking.  such is as it is. but, overall I am pleased with how the top turned out. I’m especially fond of how the linen fabric accentuates the gathering in the front.

it is made from a lovely charcoal linen I got at (gasp) Joann.  I was surprised to find such a nice linen there but I guess that is a good reminder to stay open to surprises. the arm straps are thin double fold bias tape. I made the side seams french seams to both enclose the seams as well as use the side seams to give the stop a bit of weight and definition.

here is the back of the shirt, it has a bit of ‘bib’ as well. (sigh. nothing screams ‘get on top of that arm workout’ more than this shot. ugh.)

also, this top is going to join in the fun happening over at made by rae  for her spring top sewalong. it’s an inspiring group of sewists making some amazing tops…definitely worth checking out. heck, there is even one more week left…enter something!


summer sewing project :: the dresses

there has been some making and there has been some smocking. this first dress is made with the shards fabric from Cloud 9 fabrics…it’s a part of their affordable organic line.  I have been so impressed with the beautiful fabric coming out of this small fabric company and all of it is organic.

the pattern for this dress is my own using an adaptation of the dress pattern in the Cal Patch book “Design Your Own Clothes”.     I started with a muslin following her instructions.  she uses a side zipper and my muslin came out too loose and maternity-looking. so, when I made the ‘real’ dress I adapted the back of the dress by using elastic thread to add smocking.  it actually made construction easier and the fit better. yay!!


this is a close up of the smocked section.  the elastic thread (in the bobbin only) makes smocking so easy and it looks so good and professional. as excited as I am about the smocking and my clever adaptations, I’ll admit I’m not wild about this dress.  it just isn’t very exciting and the neckline came out a bit conservative.

so I moved onto a the next one! this dress is so simple to construct!  to make the pattern I mixed things I learned from Cal Patch and a pattern in the Heather Ross book Weekend Sewing.  the back and front pieces are the same pattern and then it’s just straps…that is it for cutting.  the top of the dress is smocked, again with elastic thread in the bobbin. then topstitch the top, adding in the straps and then just hem! and done!


here is a close up of the smocking.  yes, I voluntarily took a close up photo of my chest. the sewing has obviously gone to my head.

want to know one of the best things about this dress? the fabric is vintage and was in the collection I got from my grandma! isn’t that awesome! it’s got these fantastic peacocks dancing all over it. I can’t wait to wear it this summer and give it new life.

summer sewing project :: the halter top


I finished the halter top, another item off my list for my summer sewing project (a make-not-buy summer wardrobe).  this pattern is really straightforward, clear, and easy.  the top easily came together.  I used anna maria hornet’s voile, which is beautiful and soft and  lightweight.  it drapes well and feels scrumptious….but it also makes the top look a bit like a nighty.  harumph.  you had better believe that I will still be wearing this to cover up at the beach (I made it myself, after all) but I don’t know if I would actually wear anywhere else.  we will see.  here is a shot of the voile used for the halter tie…it’s so pretty.

I did make a muslin for this (in ikea, child-themed cotton) and I must admit I like the stiffness of standard cotton. I do not like the hint of a grouchy face in this photo? sheesh! but the shirt looks good with a little more body, no?  I might have to make this again in a stiffer fabric.

I was really hoping to lengthen the top to make it an easy, breezy summer dress but I might have to keep hunting for the right summer dress.  the elastic in the back kind of pulls a bit make it unsuitable for anything much longer.  I’m considering something like this one.

in other news, I’ve joined a handmade wardrobe group run by the super stylish grainline studio.  so, if you are feeling a handmade clothing bug, click on the button below and you can scan all the amazing creations pulled together on flickr!

BWS tips button

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