Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals. I'm a recovering former vegan and vegetarian, now healing with a nutrient-dense mostly Paleo diet, and love at-home CrossFit and yoga workouts. I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

New mom to baby Otto born April 2018!


Watercolor sundress--Zooey Deschanel?

With some sunny days off and on here in Oregon, I've been thinking about cute summery dresses!  I made this dress the other day:
The fabric is some my mom bought me a year or more ago at JoAnn's because she thought I would like it.  I've been saving it and I think it works great with this style!  I can't tell if the background is black or navy, so I doubt you can tell in the pics... I used dark navy thread but a black zipper, does that help?
I used my standby for strapless dresses, the discontinued McCalls 5849.  I made mine quite a lot longer than this, though, and added some ruching at the center front to make it look like gathered casing that houses the straps.
Funny, after I had made this dress, I saw a very similar print on one at Fred Flare!  It's cute but I stand by my design.

I looove Zooey Deschanel so on a photostream of her cute looks I saw this dress.  How cute is she?  The style is almost identical to mine; the strap closure is a little different.  If I wanted I could tack the halter ties down in the back to get this look.
Hooray for summer!



More How I Met Your Mother inspiration and a Stash Bust project!

Last week I shared how cute the girls in How I Met Your Mother dress, and how despite their huuuuuge Hollywood budgets and $600 blouses, they also mix in plenty of Anthropologie!  Shortly after I wrote that post I saw another Anthro top in the episode last week, Season 5 episode 20, I think.
See Lily, in the far right?
Recognize the tank?
Just thought I'd keep you all up to date!  I guess I'll have to keep paying attention, since now it seems like there's Anthro stuff to see all the time on HIMYM!
And here's the patchwork top I mentioned last week... it's not from Anthro and I can't find online where it is from, but I thought it was cool to see a non-hippie, non-90's version of a multi-fabric cottony top!
And, April is Stash Bust Month from Dollar Store Crafts!
So, I dug around my "Small pieces" and "Old project scraps" drawers for fabrics similar to those that make up Lily's top.  I was only partially successful.  I love the pretty blue and pink floral, and unfortunately had nothing similar--well, same with the cute pink/white with flowers.  I really think of the top I came up with as an experiment more than anything!  I'm not too pleased with it but I learned quite a lot doing it since I drafted the pattern as I went.
Here it is, a top made of scraps!


Simple, springy DIY wall decor

I did a very simple but super cute wall decor project today.  Remember the embroidery hoops I bought at a tiny little thrift store a while ago?  I used them to frame pieces of vintage and other cute fabrics, and hung them on the wall!
I used to have some mod mirrors here before, also sort of a project, but with the bright, happy colors in my living room this spring it was time for something new!
Much more cheerful, eh?  It's project scraps from several projects, plus some pieces of some vintage project materials and a vintage hankie.  And a little gold frame mixed up in there, too.
I almost feel like I need more circles up there... maybe not embroidery hoops, but other round or cute-shaped things... what do you think?


How to make a hem facing--tutorial!

I'd like to share with you how to make a hem facing--or, for my purposes, how to make a skirt longer!
Hem facings are an age-old tool for saving fabric; in the days of long, full skirts, you needed a stiff, sturdy hem to make the skirt stand out for itself, but no one would see the fabric.  The hem was sometimes 10" deep from the bottom of the skirt!  (I know this because my family does civil war reenacting here in Oregon and I've been wearing 1860's clothes three weekends a summer since I was a kid).  There's no reason to use 10" of the dress fabric when no one will see it, and the dress fabric may not be the best for stiffening, so dresses almost always had hem facings or "false hems"--that is, another fabric sewn to the dress fabric at the very bottom, and treated like an extension of the dress.

I'll show you how to do that with a modern dress here.  I'm adding a hem facing to a dress I made recently, because after wearing it I've realized, it's not long enough!  I don't have much extra fabric but I unpicked the hem and am going to add some fabric on the inside--it won't be seen, but it'll allow me to use all the fabric that was in the 1" or so hem.  Here's the dress in its slightly-too-short state:
But I recommend you use this hem facing technique on an unfinished garment; if you're a little shy on fabric, you can cut out the skirt, top, or dress as usual with only a 1/2" seam allowance at the bottom, rather than the standard 2-3" for hem and turn-under.
Here's the tutorial:
  • You'll need a garment and a hem facing.  I'm using my dress, and I took out the hem I originally had.  I'm also using some white quilter's cotton that I bought oodles of for just this sort of use.
  • Tear two widths of fabric 1" wider than you want your facing to be.  I'm doing mine about 5", so my facing will be about 4" after I take out seam allowances.  If you have a super full skirt (more than two panels wide itself), you'll need three or more panels 5" wide.  Most modern dresses are less than two panels wide, although if you used 60" wide fabric for your dress and 45" wide fabric for the facing, obviously you'll need more than two widths then, too.  Does that make sense?
  • Sew the hem facing pieces together selvage-to-selvage and press the seam open flat.
  • Go to the bottom of the skirt, top, dress, whatever.  Right sides together, sew the hem facing to the skirt with a 1/2" seam allowance.  Start 1/2" from the selvage, so you'll have room to close the loop when you come all the way around.  I started at the center back on my dress, since there's a seam there.
  • Once you get all the way around the hem, stop just millimeters shy of where you began your seam and tear the excess hem facing away, leaving 1/2" for your seam allowance.  Sew the hem facing closed, selvage-to-torn end.
  • Press that seam open.
  • Press under 1/2" on the hem.  Also press the skirt-to-facing seam allowance toward the hem facing.  The pic is a little misleading--where my fingers are, you'll press the seam allowance there toward hem facing.
  • Fold the hem facing back, leaving a teeny tiny space of fashion fabric at the very bottom, ensuring that the hem facing won't show.  I leave a couple millimeters, but if you're not comfortable you can leave more like 1/8".
  • Keeping everything nice and flat (and on the grain, if possible), press and pin your facing down onto the skirt, making sure it's even throughout--otherwise, you'll have bubbling!  Unless the skirt is perfectly even panels, like with gathered skirt, you may have to make some little tucks in your facing.  My skirt is tapered and is widest at the bottom, but the facing is rectangular, so I compensated by making my tuck and keeping it on the grain wherever possible.
  • Sew the facing down.  If you want to use a blind hem stitch, do it now.  Knock yourself out.  I was feeling simple on this skirt and I don't mind seeing the stitches on the front, so I'm using a normal straight stitch.
That's it!
Now my dress is more than an inch longer.  Not a whole lot, but it will make a difference!
It looks pretty nice, too, and gives the skirt some good weight.  It's such a great way to conserve fabric!

P.S. I meant to tell you, thanks for the reminder in the comments--I used McCall's M5266 on this.  I bought this fabric during a "must have everything bright yellow" phase, and didn't really know what to do with it.  Then recently, when McCalls were 99 cents at JoAnn, I bought this pattern, and the two just sort of went together!  I don't usually wear big, tent-like A-line dresses, but this one is beltable.

I modified the sleeves quite a bit, and I added some "smocking" at the front to keep things in place.  The pattern is for a lined dress, but I didn't have any good lining fabric and didn't feel like waiting to buy some, so I just gave the neck a facing instead, cut out from the top 2" of the lining pattern.



So ahead of my time this spring!!

Don't you love it when this happens?
I was perusing the "New arrivals" on ModCloth today and came across the "Shirt Skirt"--I kid you not, that's what it's called.  That is the best name for it; that's what I always referred to mine as.  Look at this thing!
It's by Rojas and it's $79.99.  They want $80 bucks for this!
The reason this is hilarious to me is, if you weren't around last month, I did a tutorial to make a pretty darn similar skirt out of an actual men's shirt--recycled, costing the $4 or whatever your Goodwill charges for men's shirts.
I also recently saw the Stitch in Time dress on Lulu's:
Clearly we are onto something with the turning-a-men's-shirt-into-women's-clothes (that still resemble the men's clothes) thing!
Check out my tutorial and come up with your own darling Shirt Skirt!
Here's mine:
Maybe sometime soon I will do another tutorial for a slightly differently-styled shirt skirt, more like the ModCloth version that features the curved hem!  Theirs also has a little elastic at the back of the waist; could be eaisier to DIY that version.
Doesn't it feel good to be ahead of the times? ;)


Dress of vintage cotton print

I looove this vintage cotton print, I think it may have been quilting fabric but it's much nicer quality than what we have now for that purpose.  I got several yards of this white and green print at Goodwill Outlet, I think, ages ago, along with the gorgeous green pear medallion print and they go together quite well.
I made this dress last summer, actually, and tried it on the other day when I was getting dressed for a happy sunny day, and it was too big!  Happy news, but it meant I literally had to take the whole thing apart.  Ugh.  Luckily I got it over with the other day, and now I can wear it for the entirety of the season!
I used a simple pattern, Butterick B5319, which is sooo similar to other patterns I have I felt silly buying it, although the front pieces are gathered, which is quite flattering for folks like me that can use extra volume in the bust area. ;)
I gave it a new white cotton lining and invisible side zipper, and I didn't have enough of the pear print to make a full belt so I made a wide bias belt and gave it a little vintage leather buckle!



I employed my essential jeans-mending method

Happy Earth Day!

For 40 years we have been celebrating stewardship of the only planet we have, and this year it is even more important than it has been before. I hope you can do something special to celebrate this happy day!  Walk to work or school, recycle everything, turn the water off when you brush your teeth or do the dishes, or, hey, make a cute sewing project out of recycled materials!  Here's all my "recycled" projects if you need some inspiration for a makeover.

Today I did a simple mending job on some jeans I've been wearing a lot.  Little worn place on the knee, so before it turned into a hole I used my sneaky Essential Jeans-Mending Method to interface and repair it!!
The "Before" isn't much to look at, but you can see the hole on the front side of the "After"--you can hardly see the vertical blue stitching I did on it.

Check out my mending method if you need to save some jeans from the Goodwill Bin!  Repairing and reusing is a great way to celebrate Earth Day, too!

Ta-da!  Almost good as new.  Not dressy jeans, but sturdy and not full of holes.



No tears, no tearing out--Invisible zipper tutorial

I love invisible zippers.  I use them all the time.  I don't technically know how to install regular zippers; I mean, I do it, but I don't actually know how you're supposed to.  Invisible zippers are a different story, though; I could do them in my sleep but only recently did I realize an easy way to make them go in better and not require tearing out and re-doing!  Sometimes I'll sew them in on one side, then do the other side and sometimes end up being off up to half an inch.  You know, like when the waistband is half an inch off, or one side is half an inch higher than the other at the top, or you get a bubble at the join of the zipper?  Then you have to take out one side and sew it back in.  Sometimes twice.  Urgh!

The other day I realized a Duuuuuh sort of way to do this better.  Here's a tutorial on how I am now putting in all my invisible zippers!

I also should point out that I do not have a zipper foot.  Or an invisible zipper foot.  This is stupid; I know, I should just buy one!  But I've been putting in zippers with my regular long metal foot for a while now, just carefully.  In the pics below you'll see my regular foot.  It's not a problem for me and I think it works just fine, but if you have an invisible zipper foot, I bet it'd be easier.
  • Start with your invisible zipper.
  • Press the coils flat so the top looks like a regular zipper and the underside is flat.
  • Prep your garment to go right-sides-together with the zipper.
  • I like to tuck the top of my zipper tape under so I don't have to put a hook and eye on when I'm done.  If you're not as lazy as I am, ignore this part and just sew your zipper on matching top of zipper to top of garment.
  • Zip the zipper up after doing this first side.  It should look like this when you fold it back.
  • Turn the garment inside out and match up your top and waist.  Pin.
  • With your zipper flopped into its final position and zipped closed (almost undoing your flat pressing), sew the zipper into position without worrying about getting close to the teeth.  Use a really big stitch, since this will never be under any strain.
  • Here's what it'll look like.  Now, unzip the zipper and flatten the second side, and sew another row in the usual place, in between the teeth and the tape.
  • Done!  Now press...

Recognize the fabric from yesterday?  Here's what this is a part of!

Click here to read how I made this dress out of a pair of vintage pants!!!



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