Sunday, October 31, 2010

Crafting Personal Style: Cute Bottoms

I bet that's going to get me some interesting site traffic.

I have very much become a skirt person. Skirts are easier to fit and alter, giving me more options when thrifting and making them easier to sew for myself. There are lots of options for silhouettes, which means there are lots of options for finding a style that flatters your body. Do you want your skirt full and flowy, slinky, short and flirty? Look for a scalloped hem, tabs at the waist, bows, and buttons or create them yourself when altering.

Thrifted and altered skirt
So are you ready to start making your own skirts? Burda Style offers free patterns to download. Or blow a little dough on Sew What Skirts, which has some really cute ideas and gives you multiple styles to try. I also saw two skirts I want to try in the MS Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts, (as well as a hundred other projects).

I've been obsessing over this New Look pattern, which is what I used to make the skirt above (and like 5 others). I'd still like to make a few more, I think some flannel plaids would work for the fall and winter. I want to try using some large men's shirts from the thrift store to turn into skirts. There's a good tutorial at Craft Stylish that yields one very cute skirt. There's also a video on Threadbanger that shows you how to make a skirt from shirt sleeves. (The video is for a lighter weight skirt from dress shirts, but you can definitely winterize by using flannel shirts instead.) Alright, now I need to go to the thrift store...

Speaking of thrifting, I found this freaking adorable owl skirt on a thrifting excursion. I think this would be pretty easy to do with some fusible web and a machine that does a satin stitch. (Tutorial time soon I think.)

Let me see how you rock a skirt!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Crafting Personal Style: Shirt of a Different Color

Despite my whinging, the solid polo actually doesn't not work with my style. My modus operandi tends to be insanely patterned thing + slightly less patterned thing + solid thing. Or alternatively incredibly patterned thing + several solid things that may or may not go with patterned thing.

If done correctly, this is actually a great way to build a wardrobe or work on refining your personal style. You can spend a little more on basics that fit well and will get a lot of wear, or special items that really capture your style. Look for jeans that fit well, an awesome pencil skirt, a fitted blouse, or a great structured jacket, or comfy tees in fun colors. Then you can add trendy or patterned things as you please for experimentation purposes. Thrift stores are a great place to find unusual items for little money. Since trends tend to cycle, you can also find items with a current feel for much less money. (Have I mentioned I love thrift stores? I feel like I should mention I looooooove thrift stores.) For example:

Is this coat weird and totally me? Yes! Is it something that is going to get a lot of wear? Probably not, honestly it's purple and has giant flowers and fake fur. But I got it for about $15 at a thrift store, so I won't feel so bad if my style keeps changing and it's not my thing in a year or two. (For now, I will wear it and rub my face on the collar constantly. So soft!)

If you want to work with what you have, consider the effect of color and pattern to make things look different and new. Pinstripes can look sophisticated with a solid blazer or funky with a fun floral. (I am awesome at alliteration, ha!) Animal print can look timeless as a scarf with a dark pencil skirt or young and fun with bright green boots and light jeans.

Pattern mixing is one of my favorite parts of sewing and dressing. It might seem daunting, but starting with some basic rules can help keep you from looking like you fell in your closet and wore what stuck. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Vary the scale and type of pattern. It's pretty hard to go wrong by pairing an organic pattern like a floral or paisley and a smaller scale geometrical pattern like a stripe or check. Small, subtle pattern like dots or pinstripes are great for adding a little interest to solids and for mixing with bolder patterns. Pairing a small scale stripe with a floral is one of my favorite combos. Don't think you have to be matchy, try finding a main pattern with several colors and maybe pulling a polka dot in one color and a stripe in two others. (Or just wear all plaid like Kasmira, this lady is seriously masterful with pattern mixing.) Try things together that you wouldn't think of, they may end up looking great together. Throw some coordinating solids together, like several different shades of sherberty colors or jewel tones. has a ton of inspiring color combos available to browse and search.

Interested in pattern? Small bits of pattern are a good jumping off point. If you're fond of your waist, you might try the belt tutorial I just posted. This takes pretty minimal sewing skills and even less fabric. Fabric cuffs are also simpe to make; sew together two pieces of fabric large enough to go around your wrist with some overlap then turn and add a closure. Mer Mag has an awesome scarf tutorial. Tights are also a good way to bring in pattern. Now is a great time to hit discount stores like Ross or TJ Maxx for tights, and Target has some great colors and patterns for $5. Make your own patterns by tie dying white cotton tights or printing your own design. Find some cute scraps and a bit of elastic and make this simple headband. The Moda Bake Shop has instructions for a necklace made from fabric beads. I've made one and it's very simple and fun (also a great way to use up teeny scraps).

The weather is getting chilly and gray, I want to see how you bring pattern and color into your life!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fabric Belt

These fabric belts are super fast and easy, and a great way to throw a little pattern into your outfits or draw attention to your waist if that's your inclination. I started making these as a way to get rid of some of my stash and I got a little addicted. They are also suuuuper cheap to make, which is always awesome. These instructions make a belt about 3" wide, but you can adjust the fabric width is you want.

Before you start, measure around your waist where you want the belt to sit. Add about 10 inches. Then gather up your supplies. You will need:

- Two strips of fabric measuring 4" wide by the length you determined. (If your fabric isn't long enough,  just piece two bits together.)
- Fusible interfacing 3" wide by the length you determined less 1". (For example, if the length you determined is 40", you want to cut your fusible at 39".)
- A wooden or plastic ring. I used a shower curtain ring that came in a pack of 12 for like $1.50. Purse hardware or decorative belt buckles would also work well.
- Big huge snaps
- Matching thread
- Monster needle
- Marker
- Iron

Fold your fabric in half widthwise and trim a sort of leafy shaped point. The shape is totally up to you, this will be the little fold over bits on the ends. Use the first one as a template for the ends of both fabric strips and the fusible interfacing.

Center the interfacing onto the back side of one of the fabric strips and iron in place. Pin the fabric strips right sides together and sew together with a 1/2" seam, leaving a 2" gap for turning. (Sew right along the edge of the interfacing so it is not caught in your seam.)

Before turning, trim down the seam allowance on both tips. This will keep there from being too much bulky fabric. Turn right side out through the gap. Use a chopstick to push the seams out from the inside and press the edges with a hot iron. (It helps to kind of roll the edges in between your fingers before pressing.)

Once the belt is all pressed and pretty, wrap it around your waist and feed the ends through your ring, folding the belt back on itself. (Look at the picture at the top for reference.) Play with it until your sides are even, mark where each tip ends with a pin and remove from the ring. Fold one side over the ring, matching the end to where you marked with the pin.

Make several small stitches on each side, trapping the ring. (Since you are going through four layers of fabric and 2 of interfacing, this is where a monster needle comes in handy. I use an upholstry needle.)

Fold the other side of your belt over the ring, making sure your flaps are on the same side. Mark where the fabric folds over the ring and measure about 1" away. Stitch the male part of the snap in place (the one with the sticking out part in the middle), centering on the fabric.

Color the sticky out part of the snap with a marker. (See how mine is blue?) While the ink is still wet, fold over and mark where the other side of the snap should go. Stich the other side of the snap in place. To take the belt on and off, just wrap pull through the ring and and snap.

I want to try one with some trim around the edges; I think ric-rac would be really cute. You can also sew a cute button and buttonhole instead of snaps.