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!


More lace on things--shorts?

Greetings from South Dakota!
I'm still on vacation at my family reunion, but I have some downtime and wanted to share with you another pretty-eclectic-vintagey-westerney-funky project, something that I did recently and was thinking would look nice out here in this beautiful country (without being too cowboyish).
I've talked before about putting lace on things (here and here), and here's another fun project you can do with just a little bit of pretty lace (I used a mail order fabric company's swatch).  This one is really super easy, and doesn't take more than a little bit of sewing, machine or by hand!
I got the idea from these Joie shorts--they're a tan silk with lace cutout, and super duper expensive.  Here's a scan of my Lucky magazine from a couple months ago:
I thought it was a nice idea, adding some pretty romance to the preppiness of tan pleated shorts.  I had a pair that I thought would lend itself nicely--they're lightweight cotton broadcloth, from Target clearance last summer. Pleats and everything!
I recommend doing this with a fairly lightweight fabric, not something heavy like stiff khakis.
They were a weird length, actually, so I got rid of the cuff and shortened them a little--this made them work perfectly for the lace applique on top.
Ready for the tutorial??
  • Get some lace--this is a nice nylon one from one of my mom's fabric wholesalers.  Cut the lace into shapes that follow the general pattern in the lace.  I cut out some flower-ey shapes with a little extra room around them for buffer.
  • Position your lace where you want it, on the outside side seams on the shorts.  Pin or use spray adhesive (I pinned this time, since there was enough friction of the lace on the cotton).
  • You can handsew if you want, but I recommend machine zig-zagging the lace on, just right on top of it.  Go all the way around the design from hem to hem, leaving the little bit of excess on hanging below the hem.
  • Trim the excess lace that was left over after you zig-zagged, if there is any.
  • Turn the extra lace over the hem and hand-sew it down.  Trim the excess if you like, leaving a seam allowance so your stitches stay in.

    So easy!
    I thought about trimming away the fabric under the lace, which would be more like the Joie originals, but I think that would only work with a sturdier lace and a thinner short fabric.  If you make your own shorts and do this, maybe you can trim away the fabric under the lace and have a pretty cut-out look on the sides!
    I think these will look nice with soft colors and lightweight, simple tops without too much detail themselves.  It's a fun, unexpected detail on an otherwise basic garment!


    New sponsor: Crafty Girls Workshop!

    I'm happy to announce a new sponsor, Crafty Girls WorkshopCGW is a great online source for hard-to-find fun crafty and sewing supplies.  Anna and Regina run this great store, a super fun source for poking around and thinking up projects!
    Here's just a few of the goodies they have--check out these great buttons:
    Super cute fabric prints:
    (Anna says, We're having a special on the Make Life line of fabrics (10% off) which is already discounted, even the yardage bundles!)
    Plus precut fabric in bundles (the Make Life line are 10% off right now!)
    They have great reference and fun books and magazines:
    Anna says, We have a wide variety of books and magazines and most of the magazines are very well priced and have tons and tons of inspiration ideas!
    Cute ribbons:
    And oh, the patterns!!
    Anna says, We have a really cute pattern by Jackie Clarke for baby overalls that has adaptations for a boy or a girl! It's super versatile and would make a great gift.
    So much fun stuff to peruse... I just barely gave you a sample of the fabrics and patterns, mind you.  Have fun shopping around at Crafty Girls Workshop and remember that if you tell a friend, you get a coupon good for your next purchase!
    Have fun!
    1 comment


    Blog swap with The How-To Gal!

    Hello Readers--
    I'm off on my road trip and won't have as much time to update this week, so I'm excited to have a guest post from Anna Rose of The How-To Gal!
    Hello, Adventure in Dressmaking fans! I'm Anna Rose from The How-To Gal and my favorite thing in the world are DIY projects. I started my blog, The How-To Gal, last year to keep me busy as a SAHM. I post daily how-tos, furniture makeovers and craft projects.

    Isn't Suzannah awesome? She inspires me on a daily basis to stop drooling over expensive fashions and just make them for myself! While she's out exploring the West, I'm here to show a simple and easy way to spice up your home decor.

    How-To Make Chevron Art

    I am addicted to the Chevron pattern floating around the design world, ADDICTED. So I decided to update these two outdated prints to the trendy pattern:
    I would recommend spraying a coat of primer over the top of your boards if there is something painted over them like mine. Primer is thicker than regular spray paint and cuts down on the number of coats needed.

    I spray painted my base white and then added color on top. If you plan on doing a light and dark color pattern for your chevron, spray your lighter color first.

    Trace your chevron pattern lightly with a pencil. I used a carpenter's triangle to create my initial shape. Start with one V and then from there create a grid like this:

    By measuring equidistant dots from each point on the V you will create an even wave. I drew my first V, brought my carpenter's triangle down from the center and the ends 2.5" and plotted my points. It's kind of hard to see in this picture, but I measured down first and then moved on to the connecting Vs.

    Continue connecting your dots and tracing your lines until the pattern covers your white base coat.

    Tape off your sections and break out the spray paint! If you spray your base with the lighter color first, the darker chevron strips require less paint.

    Voila! A beautiful pop of color for any room in your home!
    The power of spray paint never ceases to amaze me. Thank you, Suzannah, for having me today! I can't promise any awesome sewing projects over at The How-To Gal, but if home decor makeovers and other DIY tutorials strike your fancy, come visit me!
    Thanks, Anna Rose, for sharing today!
    Readers, if you like this, think about using some of these techniques along with mine on my DIY zig zag rug tutorial of a few months back!


    On the road again

    Beginning in the summer of 2006, my family rediscovered a love of road trips and we have since taken several long ones with all or some of us on board.  In 2006 and again in 2009, my family (in 2006 my mom, dad, me, and my cousin, then in 2009 mom, dad, me, and my fiance) have driven from Portland, Oregon to Louisville, KY with many, many stops in between.  Both of those trips took about two weeks, and we saw great things such as Yellowstone, the Badlands, lots of historic sites, a family wedding in Wisconsin, downtown Chicago, more family in Indiana, amazing museums in St. Louis, Oregon Trail history in Independence, MO, scenery in Colorado, and then back through Eastern Oregon for more cowboy country before returning to Portland.
    This year, we're cutting it a little shorter and only going as far east as the Black Hills area of South Dakota, this time for a family reunion for the family on my mom's side.  None of them are from there, but it's a good middle-of-the country destination.  Here's our route:
    Not as long as last time by far, it'll take between 20 and 25 hours each way.  We'll spend most of our time in the car in Montana, and I remember liking Montana fairly well, so that'll be fun--maybe we'll get to stop by some new tourist sites along the way to Custer.
    I'll be gone today, Sunday the 25th, through next Sunday, August 1st.  I'll try to post updates throughout the week, and we have a couple guest posts coming up, but until then... have any of you done this kind of road trip?  Have you ever been to Custer, SD?  What's your big summer vacation this year?


    More lace on things: Covered up stains!

    I like putting lace on things--particularly vintage doilies as simple and easy embellishments for clothes and home decor.  This time, I want to show you how I covered up some stains on a cute H&M dress I got at Goodwill.  It was the half off color, so only $2.50, and very cute, but had a couple small stains and a grease spot on the front.  It didn't look like anyone had tried to remove them, so I bought it and put some stain remover on, but to no avail.  So, I had to cover them up.
    I used my technique from some of my previous shirt embellishment tutorials--spray adhesive on the doily, zig zag stitch to attach it more securely.
    Here it is!
    And here's a shot of the inside...
    I think I'll bring this dress along for my trip, too... the vintage off-white and ivory doilies are sort of reminiscent of the prairie look that goes so well with the South Dakota plains... Laura Ingalls Wilder lived there for a while, I think in the 1880s?
    We leave for the long drive from Oregon to the Black Hills tomorrow morning and I must get to packing!


    American West summer plaid dress

    I mentioned the other day that I was puzzling over a cute summer wardrobe for my upcoming family road trip from Oregon through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota.  The cowboy-themed Western look is now what this West Coast girl is used to, so I've been looking around for inspiration and thinking about my previous trips out there.
    This dress was sort of a gamble, since I used a piece of totally late 70's or into the 80's lightweight textured cotton plaid that I got at Goodwill, I think $1.99 for the whole 3-4 yard piece.  It's totally dated, not sure if it's old or cool enough to be called vintage or retro!  But I looked around for inspiration and decided I could do a summery plaid sundress in a totally different style than the shirtdress this fabric may have been originally intended for...
    From ModCloth:
    Fred Flare:
    So, I was looking for something a little more structure and almost 50's/60's Betty Draper summer frock flare.  I liked the blue and white Wizard of Oz-ey dress by Mod Cloth a lot, and looked at my pattern stash and found New Look 6557, with a modification similar to that.  I've had this pattern for YEARS, in fact I think it's the first pattern I ever bought to make for myself, and I've made it four times, I think?  It's super easy.  This was the pattern I learned to sew actual garments on!
    So, I put together the gathered tube-top halter style, modified to end at the natural waist rather than dipping below, and gave it a retro gathered skirt.  I made the skirt pretty long, and added some vintage lace that I have had for a while--a long piece that has been torn and mended in a few places and looks like it came off a sheet or tablecloth many years ago.  I also put some on the top!
    Like I said, I'm not 100% sure of the fabric, but I think the soft, warm colors and vintage-ey lace make a pretty, old-fashioned look, contrasting to the structured 50's look of the bodice, which hopefully will look nice against the Wyoming dessert. ;)


    The Super Easy Paper Bag Waist Skirt Tutorial

    Yesterday I posted a tutorial for how to make what I think of as the classic paper bag skirt—pleats, belt, beltloops.  Today, I want to show you the easier option, for those of you who don't want to mess with zippers and pleats.
    Here are some inspirations for this type of more playful, basic skirt with smaller, modified paper bag top:
    From Banana Republic:
    In a crazy cute print like this cute nautical look by Lilly Pulitzer:
    Or an even crazier print like this Marc by Marc Jacobs:
    Lots of options, although I still recommend a sturdy bottom-weight material.  I'm using this cotton twill my mom had leftover from a project aaaaages ago--just thin pieces along the selvage, but I thought it would work for my little skirt.
    • Here's what you'll need--just the fabric and a piece of elastic about 2" smaller than your waist.  I recommend 1-1.5" wide elastic.
    • Refer to the Classic Paper Bag Waist Skirt tutorial for cutting instructions.  You DO NOT need to cut the belt piece or beltloops, although you could cut the beltloop piece if you want to add them.
    • Go through step 5. of the tutorial (assemble back and side seams).  You don't need a zipper, so sew all three seams (both sides and center back).  SKIP zipper instructions.
    • Do steps 7. and 8. of the tutorial.  Hem the skirt and fold over your overlap. DON'T pleat.
    • Sew down the overlap where I recommend basting or pinning in the Classic tutorial.
    • Sew another row of stitches above the first.  This makes your elastic casing, so make sure it's at least 1/8" larger than the width of your elastic.  Measure if you like and mark with a fabric marker, or just be very careful about your seam allowance and make sure you stay parallel.  *Leave 1-2" open at the center back to insert your elastic at the center back.
    • Grab your elastic (again, somewhere close to 2" smaller than your waist to allow for some movement but also enough tightness to stay up!) and use a safety pin or bodkin to put the elastic through the casing.  Make sure it doesn't twist and try to keep it from curling under as you put it through--you want the elastic to lay flat all around.
    • When you get all the way through, sew the ends together (again, make sure the elastic's not twisted somewhere along the way).
    • Sew the rest of your seam closed!
    That's it!
    You can wear it any way you want, but I think it works best at the natural waist. 
    (Note: Mine has center front and center back seams since I was using a tiny wedge of fabric)
    You can wear it with a thin belt like in the pictures:
    Or with a belt the width of the casing, or even with a wider belt!
    Here's how it looks plain.
     Super easy to make and wear!  I think I might want to make up another one in a funky print later today!


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