I’m a couple days away from my move to Wisconsin, so of course travel is on my mind. But also tropical prints. Lots and lots of tropical prints. While sorting through the endless bins of crafting and sewing scraps in my house, I found a decent amount of yardage of this very cute Hawaiian print fabric. And by decent, I mean enough to craft into a modern re-imagining of a retro sundress.
I used New Look 6799 as my pattern, which was actually a very simple pattern to make (once you get past the darts. Darts are the worst).
The fabric is a very soft cotton with bright tropical flowers printed with illustrated postcard shots of “Honolulu Hotel.”
I chose to pair the dress with a black and white wide-brimmed sunhat from Forever 21, and purple suede heels from Guess that I originally bought to match my Winter Formals dress.
I love how old-school and glamorous this dress feels, especially paired with these accessories and a bold red lip. I think we could all use a sprinkle more of glamour in our everyday lives.
In my drive to clear all clutter out of my room in preparation for my move to Wisconsin, I’ve been going through all of the fabric I have laying around from old projects. This particular floral fabric was actually cut from a dust ruffle that my neighbor gave me a long time ago. While I was originally perplexed as to what I could do with such little fabric (it was about four feet long and a foot and a half wide), I realized that it was the perfect amount for a gathered – or dirndl – skirt.
What’s really useful about making this skirt out of a dust ruffle is that the dust ruffle will come pre-hemmed on the bottom (yay!) and will possibly already have a way to attach to itself. I was very lucky and found that my fabric had cute yellow buttons and buttonholes already in place, which made this project ten times easier. If your fabric doesn’t have buttons like mine, you’ll have to either sew your own buttonholes (here’s a relatively easy tutorial on how to machine sew buttonholes) or add a zipper.
- Skirt fabric – the longer this is, the fuller your skirt will be. You want the width to be the length from your waist to your ideal skirt length, plus a couple of inches for hemming. If you’re working with a dust ruffle, disregard the hemming part. You can use many types of fabric for this – I used a cotton but special occasion fabrics would also give this skirt a little oomph.
- Waistband fabric – get fabric in a matching or complementary color. You won’t need much, just long enough to go around your waist and about 6-8 inches wide depending on how thick you want the waistband to be.
- Matching thread
- Optional – interfacing for the waistband (to make it stiffer – I didn’t do this but you could), buttons, and zippers are all optional.
- Gather the skirt fabric – Baste (loosely stitch – I set my stitch width at 4) two lines across the top of your fabric. Pull one thread from each line on each side, scrunching up the fabric as you go. The fabric should slide pretty easily over the thread. Make sure that the skirt is distributed evenly over the thread with the gathering pretty even overall.
- Sew the fabric to the waistband – With the right sides of the fabric together, pin the skirt to the waistband. Sew the two together (back on a normal stitch – I use 2), making sure that you are sewing lower than the two gather threads (so they end up inside the waistband, not visible to the outside world).
- Slipstitch the waistband closed – Iron the free edge of the waistband over about 3/8 in. Fold the waistband in half, and slipstitch the ironed edge to the other half of the waistband. If you’re using interfacing, apply (iron or sew) the interfacing to one half of the waistband before you sew it shut.
- Optional: Hemming the skirt and sewing it closed While I didn’t have to do this, if you don’t start with a dust ruffle, you’ll have to hem the skirt. Fold 3/8 in. of the bottom of the skirt under and sew it. Then, fold it under again until the skirt is your desired length. Pin it in place, and slip stitch the hem. To close the skirt, fold over and hem the two edges, sewing buttons and buttonholes down the skirt’s length. If you’re using a zipper, figure out how long you need the zipper to be (probably 7-9 in., but it needs to be able to open up to fit over the widest part of your hips). Sew the skirt closed up to that point. Next sew in the zipper, following the above tutorial.
I absolutely love my new skirt, and I’m so glad I’ve finally found a use for such charming fabric. Depending on how you style the skirt and what fabric you use, a gathered skirt can be used for almost any occasion – work, leisure, special occasions. I would recommend wearing it with a tucked in shirt, however, since the gathers might look awkward if the flattering waist is hidden. If you use enough fabric (more than I did), you can also wear a petticoat underneath it, and wear it like a classic vintage skirt – there are so many possibilities.
One of my major goals before I turned thirty (which is, admittedly, quite far off) was to go to a major, three day music festival. Then, last February, I learned about this fairly young festival (it started last year) located in nearby Delaware, Firefly Music Festival! I was already 75% sold on it just based on the distance from my house (it’s a little over a two hour drive), but when I saw the lineup, I was completely smitten. Even so, I didn’t actually decide to go and buy tickets until about a week before the festival. I wanted to find someone to go with, and while Lucas was the obvious choice to bring since the festival seemed a perfect blend of our music tastes, he had just gone to Ultra over spring break and unsure about splurging on another festival. Also, the three day passes were sold out by the time we resolved to go. Luckily, I later checked StubHub for three day passes and found two for even cheaper than the festival sold them at originally. We didn’t end up going camping, since the camping passes being resold on StubHub were exorbitantly expensive. Instead, we stayed at a small, cheap motel in South Jersey right on the Delaware border that was about an hour away from the festival.
We got there pretty late on the first day since the traffic was unbelievably horrible, but it was still a lot of fun. Highlights included Ellie Goulding, the Avett Brothers (hearing their “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” live was amazing), Calvin Harris, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Lucas is huge fan). I wore a crop top that I had made a couple years ago and sewn a bunch of fabric flowers on to along with a floral crown. Lucas wore a tribal print tank from target along with the Toyota-sponsored official Firefly bandana. We spent a little time exploring the grounds, which were really cool. They had a “hammock hangout”/”forest cinema” grove filled with many hammocks and televisions playing old movies (that’s where the floral popcorn I’m posing with was situated). There was also a hot air balloon you could ride (we were too busy at the concerts to do that, but you can see it on the left of Calvin Harris’ performance).
The second day was even better. We started off with a late breakfast at Waffle House. Lucas had never been there before, and we treated ourselves to an unimaginably large feast of eggs, bacon, toast, waffles, and their famous hash browns – we needed to fuel up for the long day ahead of us. In honor of one of the best Tom Petty songs, Lucas and I decided to theme our outfits “America,” which seemed to be a pretty popular clothing choice at Firefly. I wore one of my favorite crop tops – a red, white, and blue plaid pseudo-bustier that I got off Ebay awhile ago, as well as these short overalls (shorteralls? jorteralls?) I picked up for cheapsies at Walmart. Lucas rocked a Pepsi shirt from Target and Nantucket-red shorts I made for him from a pair of pants that were too big on him. Highlights from the second day included Lord Huron, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (although it was not as amazing as at Lawnparties, because I didn’t feel like fighting to be at the front of the huge crowd), Youngblood Hawke, Azealia Banks (who was absolutely amazing – we skipped out on MGMT so that we could be at the front of her concert even though we only knew “212,” and it was totally worth it. She was so fun.), and, of course, Tom Petty, who rocked hard despite his advancing age. We also found the silent disco hidden in the backwoods. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a silent disco is when (usually) two DJs spin records at the same time and the partygoers wear headphones that can tune into either frequency. They’re ideal for unusual locations (like the middle of the forest) and can look pretty crazy from the outside (it’s just a bunch of people wildly dancing to music you can’t hear).
The third day was possibly the best of all three. We made sure to get there early so that I could see HAIM close up, an amazing and hilarious sister act from California. We also saw Matt and Kim from pretty close up, which was a party. We caught a bit of Passion Pit, but their lead singer was losing his voice so Lucas and I decided to split to wait for our respective next bands (he went to see Zedd, while I headed for Vampire Weekend) and get a good spot. Vampire Weekend was an amazing concert, reminding me how much of their music I really love. Lucas and I then met up again to watch the end of Foster the People, who put on a great show, but were kind of a strange choice for headliner. For the third day, we went with a sort-of pastel theme. I wore an old pastel and floral skirt from my mom and peach and lavender bras from Urban Outfitters. Lucas wore an old shirt that I gradient tie-dyed pink, purple, and blue and wore one of my old necklaces as a headband. I bought some hair chalk for the occasion and colored my hair basically every color of the rainbow. It actually worked really well, but also stressed me out when it started pouring, which it did off and on all of Sunday (all I could imagine was a stream of purplish-brown running down the back of my clothes).
All in all, Firefly was a great festival, and a perfect fit for what I wanted. Everyone there was pretty relaxed, the music was generally really good, and it had a lot of cool other features (the silent disco, the hammock hideaway, the pathway with umbrellas and lights suspended over it, the arcade, the water stations, the samples). It was also definitely the right time to go – it provided a break from this lull between college and work, the bands mostly catered to an early-twenties crowd, and I don’t know if I could do all the walking, standing, waiting, running, staying up late and waking up early later on in my life, but for now, it was perfect.
I was browsing random blogs one day and I came across this really simple but chic DIY from Sprinkles in Springs. She’s made a bunch of paint and tulle masquerade-style masks that are so cute. When I looked at the supplies list, I realized that I had all of them around my house, so I undertook it as a quick afternoon project!
I’ve been planning my upcoming birthday party, which I want to set mostly in pink and gold. I thought I’d make the mask gold in case I want to wear it for part of my party (what can I say, I have a flair for the dramatic). The best part about the mask is how easy it is to make and how simple the supplies are. I included it under “Stylish Scraps” because it’s the perfect complement to the extra material from my DIY Tulle Skirt. I just used a little triangle of tulle leftover from the skirt, as well as some acrylic paint and glitter I had lying around my house.
I absolutely love my new mask!
When summer comes around, I can’t help but be drawn towards preppy staples like nautical stripes, navy blue, and kelly green – all I can dream about is lounging on the beach or on the back porch in classic-looking clothing. When I saw the “High Hamptons” collection in Joann Fabrics, I knew that I had to make something with it. I’ve also seen a lot of chevron patterns and textiles all over Pinterest recently, which inspired me to take the stripe fabric I found and play around with it a little.
The most important part about making your own chevron clothing is making sure that the stripes line up. That’s really the key to making your dress (or skirt) look expensive. Overall, it’s it’s pretty simple, you just need to be extra careful when cutting and sewing your pieces.
Here are the materials you’ll need:
- 1-2 yds striped, knit fabric – I ended up doing chevrons only on the front panels, so I needed a bit less. The amount you need will depend on the size you’re making and the difficulty of matching the stripes. It’s usually better to err on the cautious side. My fabric is a lurex blue and green stripe poly blend from the High Hamptons line at Joann Fabrics.
- 1 yd matching knit fabric (Optional) – I chose a kelly green knit fabric to complement the front of the dress. If you instead want to do chevrons on the side panels as well, add this amount of fabric to the striped fabric requirement.
- Matching thread – I chose to use navy thread to match the darker of the stripes
- An old tank top – Grab an old tank top, skirt or knit dress that you like the fit of. This will provide a loose template for a pattern.
- Large sheets of paper – This can be any type of paper – we need it to create a paper pattern to help us cut out the pieces. I ended up using a couple sheets of newspaper.
How to make it:
- Step one: Create a pattern
Spread your tank top or dress down on your paper. Sketch out a loose outline of the clothing. Each half of your body (top/bottom) will be covered by eight pieces. After tracing out a loose copy of your tank top, cut it in half down the middle (where the two “1” pieces separate). Draw and cut a line where you want the front panels to separate from the side panels (i.e. cut your pattern into “1” and “2” pieces). Cut the pieces apart. Decide where you want the waistline to fall, and cut the bottom of the pieces off there. Now, sketch out a pattern from the skirt. Again, cut the piece in half and then into front and side panels (cut 3 from 4). Made sure that the top and bottom panels meet each other at the right place and are the same width there.
- Step two: Cut out the fabric
This is one of the most important steps – cutting out the fabric and matching stripes. For each pattern piece you’ve made, you’re going to cut out four copies. I started with the “1” pattern piece. Position your pattern on the fabric so that the stripes are going at the angle you want them to – I did a pretty steep ~45 degree angle, but it’s up to you. Cut out that pattern piece. Now, here’s the trick. Place that piece of fabric back on top of your striped fabric, and line it up so that it intersects with the stripes next to it when they are also at the same (but reversed) angle. A good way to check this is to look at how wide the stripes are at a given point, and make sure their widths match up. They should form a perfect chevron together. When you’ve finished matching up the stripes, place the paper pattern down on that section of fabric, so that cut fabric and the paper form a mock-up of the whole front “1” panels. Pin that pattern down, and cut it out. You should now have matched, cut “1” panels. Continue this for the two back “1” panels. For the “3” panels, using the same method, match the waist stripes from the “1” panels into chevrons, and then match the center chevrons again. Do it again for the back “3” panels. The end result of all the matching and cutting should look like the right image in the above illustration. For my version, cut “2” and “4” panels out of your complementary fabric. If you also want to make chevrons there, follow the above method to match stripes.
- Step three: Sew, sew, sew!
Now’s the time to sew all the pieces together! It’s really important to match up the stripes, so carefully pin each piece together, matching stripes as you go. Sew all the pieces together following the diagram above. You should probably use a “stretch” needle to sew the knitted fabric. I also used a zigzag stitch, because I find that straight stitches tend to be less forgiving on stretch fabric. Hem the bottom, neckline, and armholes of the dress, making sure the seams hit the same place on the dress (the stripes will make it painfully obvious if the neckline isn’t hemmed evenly).
There, you’re done! Wear it with classic wayfarer sunglasses and cute sandals on a sunny summer outing or with a cardigan for casual summer work attire. What I really love about this dress is that it’s so easy to wear but still so cute (also, let’s be real, the chevron stripes are visually slimming and create a pseudo hourglass shape). Enjoy!
I got a little crazy over spring break with sewing projects (sometimes, a girl really needs a break from writing an eighty page academic paper). About halfway through the week I decided that I deserved a break from writing so I went to Joann Fabrics to pick up a simple chiffon for a circle skirt. A trip to Joann’s, however, is never that simple for me. Needless to say, I left with three other fabrics and the patterns to make two different tops. Also, many, many dreams for their new “High Hamptons” collection. Trust me guys, it will be like Revenge, but without all the subtle innuendos and even more nautical prints.
Anyway, one of the fabrics I picked up was the amazingly adorable slightly stretchy bubblegum pink cotton printed with little white bicycles (don’t say I didn’t warn you about my novelty print obsession). After several hours slaving over the library table, I completed a very cute peplum top featuring the fabric. When I was done sewing, however, I realized that I had a significant amount of fabric left over, and I love this fabric. I couldn’t just throw it away. I couldn’t – so I came up with the idea to make a matching bowtie for Lucas.
I wanted this to be a simple project, so I decided to make the bowtie fixed-length instead of adjustable. I used one of Lucas’ other (fitted) bowties to trace out a pattern. It’s actually a very simple process.
- Fold your material in half and trace out the outline of the bowtie, making sure to add room all around it for the seams.
- Cut out the bowtie. Compare the two sides to make sure that they are about even.
- Placing the printed sides together (wrong sides outward), pin the bowtie together.
- Sew around the perimeter of the bowtie, leaving an unsewn section somewhere in the middle (this is where you’ll be turning it right-side out and sewing it shut, i.e. you don’t want it too visible).
- Turn the bowtie right-side out. This part can be annoying and tedious. I suggest turning on one of your favorite TV shows while doing this (Revenge, anyone?). Also, use tweezers to grab the inside fabric and pull it out.
- Iron your bowtie flat, making sure that all the seams have been fully extended.
- Sew the hole closed.
That’s it. It took me less than an hour, and I think it turned out really cute.
Aren’t these flowering trees gorgeous? I can’t help but take a million photos with them. I’m so excited for all the flowers that are blooming around me. It actually makes all the rain we’ve been having seem worth it.
I love being able to use up all of the fabric I bought (especially when it’s this cute). I’m currently trying to think of other ways to use excess fabric, especially in ways that I would use and treasure. Do you have any small projects you like to make?
Right around the beginning of springtime I start falling head over heels for novelty prints – the zanier the better. I think it’s my body’s way of dealing with the frigid temperatures and perpetual darkness. I’ve gotten pretty stir-crazy recently from pretending to work on my thesis and starting up school again, so I can’t help but dream of when I have the time to execute some of my schemes. I’m planning on printing and painting my own material sometime soon, but until then, I just browse the internet, looking at all the pretty prints that stores are stocking.
Once it gets warmer, I plan on breaking out some of my novelty print pieces (I’ve got a couple fruit and map patterned crop tops hiding away until the sun comes out permanently). Until then, I can dream about bright patterns and colors – and plan some DIYs. I want to do at least two novelty print projects:
- Print my own design onto a (probably) pre-made, thrifted dress (see A Beautiful Mess’s project for inspiration). I’m thinking I might do multicolored fruit stamps of pears and apples or lemons and limes.
- Create a feminine, vintage-inspired dress using novelty prints (like the blue Russian nesting dolls dress from Eva Franco for Modcloth, above). Beth Louche’s StashModernFabric Etsy shop has a lot of cute novelty cotton prints, which I would love to make something out of, including the kukla collection if I wanted to recreate the Eva Franco dress, this bicycle print, and this “Asbury Park” ice cream print.
What about you, have you fallen hard for novelty prints?