Tailor Your Own Clothes . Sewing 101

Thanks to Valerie of Threads Thoughts Things and Dottie Adele for yet another amazing Sewing 101 installment. I have to say that (besides this), this might be my favorite of her tutorials yet. It’s just such a great, versatile, and practical skill, even if you never plan to sew anything from scratch. (shirt via Macy’s)

Have you ever found the perfect dress while thrift shopping, but a size too big?  Ever been handed down a fabulous top, but the fit isn’t quite right?  No more having to let those finds go!  Here is the quickest, simplest way to take in clothing to get a perfect fit–without paying high prices at a professional tailor!

Before we get started though, don’t forget about the rest of the Sewing 101 series!

  • Garment to be altered (shirt or dress for this tutorial)
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight pins
  • Matching thread
  • Full-length mirror
1.   Try on your garment and use the mirror to study the parts that you want to take in.  For my shirt, the main issues were that the area across my chest was too big and the armpit area was about an inch lower than it should have been.  The rest of the top fit just fine, but I wanted the top portion to be more fitted.
2.   Once you’ve identified what you would like to be altered, flip your garment inside out and put it on again.  Use your straight pins to pin along the sides seams, taking in your garment so that it fits the way you would like.  I pinned mine up the side of the bust and under the arms.  This might require some contortionism or the help of a friend!
If you have a dress, the basic idea is the same.  If your dress needs to be taken in along the hips or legs, pin the sides so that they fit, but be sure you still have enough room to walk!
3.   Very carefully take off your garment (those pins will get ya!) and lay it on a flat surface, inside out, with the pins still in place.
4.   Now we want to make sure that we have taken in everything evenly from both sides.  First, I laid my measuring tape in a straight line across the bottom of my pinning, to make sure I began at the same place on each side.  Make any adjustments necessary to make the starting points on each side the same.  If your garment needs to be taken in all the way to the bottom edge, move to the next step.
5.   Next, measure from outside edge of the seams in to where you have pinned on each side.  I had taken in approximately 1″ from the right side and slightly more on the left side, so I evened out the pinning and made them both 1″.  Symmetry is key!  Repeat all the way down your garment on both sides, making sure it is all even.
6.   If you are taking in sleeves or armholes, match up the seams exactly.  Make sure that the seam at the armpit is perfectly in line from both sides.  If your top has any other seams at the waist or attaching a skirt to a bodice, make sure they are lined up as well.
7.   At your sewing machine, change your stitch length setting to a long basting straight stitch (4.5mm-6mm).  Sew along the sides seams you pinned in, just inside the pins.  Basting is not meant to be a permanent stitch – we’ll use it now as a quick way to test if our alterations are correct before sewing the final seams.

8.   Be sure that your new seam merges gradually into the original seam.  Sharp corners or crooked stitching will not look as neat from the outside.  The new seam should join the old seam in one nice, smooth line.

9.   When you have basted both sides, turn your garment right side out and try it on.  It should now fit you the way that you would like.  If there is any area that still needs adjusting, flip it inside out again and repeat the previous steps.  If it does fit well, move on to the next step!
10.   Turn your garment inside out again and take it back to the sewing machine.  If your garment is a knit (stretchy) fabric, use a zigzag stitch to sew directly back over your basting stitches.  If your garment was a woven (non-stretchy) fabric, use a straight, shorter stitch (2.5mm) to sew directly back over your basting stitches.
11.   Cut off the excess fabric to the outside of your new seams.  Cut very close to the stitches you just made.
12.   Flip it right outside one last time, try it on, and enjoy your new fit!

Dottie Adele on Etsy
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“Watercolor Dresses” Top . How To-sday

I recently got the opportunity to try Ink Effects by DecoArt. It’s a new fabric-transfer ink that doesn’t leave fabric feeling crunchy at all. My head is spinning with more ideas for it because I love the way it mixes just like a heavy watercolor. I also love the fact that the finished product really does have that painted-on effect, again, just like a watercolor painting! Ink Effects will be hitting your local craft store pretty soon, but if you just can’t wait, you can get it online here
 I took a hideous, billowy-sleeved, barrel of a vintage shirt, and I hacked it up and sewed it into a sleeveless blouse because I loved the fabric and the collar. I’ll be sure to show you ‘before’ pictures of the beast sometime! Anywho – it made a great foundation for this little project!


What You Need:

1.   Pick out a magazine with images you like. I started off with Nylon, but I moved on to Real Simple when I changed my mind about the look of the project. Using your permanent marker, outline the pictures you want to transfer to your shirt. You can also draw on any key lines, like pleats or belts. 
Because I used pretty small dresses, I went ahead and traced seven. If you’re using a larger image, you can adjust accordingly. 
2.   Place a piece of regular old computer/copy paper over your outlined image. You should be able to see the marker lines through the paper. Trace over them with the pencil.
3.   After you’ve traced all the images you want, you can start filling them in with the Ink Effects paint. As you’re painting, keep in mind that you need to go by the colored dots on the caps of the paint bottles. The painted on color will look far different, but you’ll end up with true, vibrant colors when you’re all done.
4.   As you’re painting, bear in mind that this stuff mixes really well to form color blends, especially if you’re trying to match colors from your magazine page. You can also layer, like I did with the yellow polka dot dress. Just paint in your base color, and then when it’s dry, you can paint the dots over it. Just make sure to let it dry thoroughly first, or your colors will run together. If you want, you can outline your designs with black, or you can go for a more washed out look. 
5.   Let everything dry for at least 30-45 minutes. Or, if you’re as impatient as I am, blow-dry the heck out it… Cut out the little paintings, leaving a bit of white space around the edges to give you something to hold onto later.
6.   Lay your shirt on the ironing board, and play around with the little paintings, until they’re all positioned how you like them. 
* If your shirt is made up of at least 30 percent cotton, then be sure to spray the Ink Effects basecoat over the transfer area first. That will help the image adhere, but keep in mind that with cotton fabrics, the design will fade gradually over many washings. On synthetics, it should stay true to color.
7.   When you’re happy with your arrangement. Flip them all over so that the painted side is touching the shirt.
8.   Cover your paintings with another sheet of paper. With your iron on its highest setting, rub it over each little painting for at least 30 seconds. I did it for 60 to make sure I got a good transfer and vibrant colors.
9.   When you’ve ironed everything, the backs of the paintings should be showing some color. If you remember from Step 7, they were mostly white before. Carefully peel up the edge of one to see if it’s transferred. If not, repeat Step 8. If it is, then you can just peel them all off. You should have a beautiful watercolor-esque painting on your shirt!
You can actually reuse your little paintings another time or two. They’ll start to get a faded look after the first time, but there’s lots of potential for different projects with the same paintings. 


Two out of two curious felines approve of this project, though I think they’d prefer if it had a laser or something slightly more stimulating. 


If you like InkEffects, you can get social with DecoArts here:

* Disclosure – This post as part of a paid campaign with DecoArt and Blueprint Social. I was provided product to review and use, the art and opinions in this post are 100% my own.. See my disclosure statement for more information.


diy roundup . sewing kits

Sewing Kit in a Jar by funkytime

I’ve suddenly gone all domestic. That is, I’ve recently become obsessed with sewing, cooking, and baking from scratch. I’m hoarding ingredients I can’t pronounce and patterns I don’t know how to use. I have a basket of fabric that’s overflowing, just waiting to become shirts, dresses, and bags that everyone will covet. Or disasters. An overflowing basket of over-commitment to a craft for which I have no skill. 

Naturally, if I’m going to over-commit, I’m going to go big. All the way. So I need a darling little sewing kit, that, ironically enough, I’ll probably have to sew together. I love each of these sewing kits, but I have to say there’s something sort of brilliant – and just the right amount of absolutely impractical – about the orange. I love it. One day, I’m going to sew an orange that holds sewing things. One day… 

Which of these do you think you’d be most likely to make? Heck, maybe you could make one for something else – jewelry pliers, stamping, or even a first-aid kit! And am I the only one who gets totally overzealous with new projects and hobbies and then gets overwhelmed and finishes nothing?!

Be sure to check out this great cupcake stand tutorial roundup, too – perfect for your summer get-togethers!

Quilted Sewing Kit by dreampatch

Felt Travel Sewing Kitty by Sew4Home

Apples to Oranges Sewing Kit by Straight Stitch Society

Hanging Hoop Wall Pocket by During Quiet Time via Sew Daily

Fabric Covered Altoid Tins by green bee