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!


A last winter work dress

When I cut this dress out I knew I'd have to make it and wear it soon, since it's a little on the winter-ey side.  Today is the last day of February, and I figured, the last day I should dress for winter, after seeing so many cute spring styles in magazines and stores!

The pattern would work for any season--McCall's M5845.  It's an interesting one since it has outward-facing darts, meant to be exposes, and it has a low, rectangular-shaped back.
I used a red plaid poly blend suiting from JoAnn's that I bought at half off the clearance price, so like $2/yard.  I didn't do the exposed darts, instead bringing them in to the inside like you normally would, figuring that the plaid gave the dress enough interest and the bright color was as funky as I wanted to get with it.

Here it is plain or with a thin belt...
My first thought of what to put with it was a black blazer, although it would also look cute with a black turtleneck under it if you're into that sort of thing. =)
Today, though, I'm wearing it with a black crewneck cardi and a wide black belt over!  And black tights and cute black heels.
Any other accessorizing thoughts are welcome!  Although I probably won't wear it again till next fall... what d0you think?


Designing bridesmaid dresses!

So I've now talked to all five of my lovely bridesmaids (for my August 6th wedding) and they've picked their dresses for the wedding.  I'm going to be making them, of course! =), and wanted my friends and future sisters-in-law to chose something they like within a general sort of vibe.

I'm actually having a bit of a conflict, since originally I was all about a J.Crew-ey look, mmmmmm wonderful stuff in their bridal/formalwear.  But now I'm thinking I may go more vintage-ey, and am decorating with milk glass vases and vintage quilts.  I look at photos of weddings where the bridesmaids wear vintage pastel, full-skirted dresses, and they're so pretty!  But I don't think I want to go quite that far.

Here's where we started, though: I pulled out pages from J.Crew's wedding stuff, and collected fabric swatches (I THINK I want them in pale grey, although purple was my preference at one point...).  I collected some of my patterns that are similar styles to the J.Crew dresses.  I was imagining doing a pleated, tapered skirt like a paper bag skirt on all the dresses, with different tops.
But now I'm thinking I may want them to have full skirts, give it a little more retro feel.  It's like the difference in shape between this Banana Republic dress:
(The tapered shape I was talking about... like the skirt on this casual Anthro dress):
And the full skirt on this J.Crew dress:
Or, I could go even more retro, and give it a longer full skirt, just a classic.  Like this cute summery Anthro dress.
So the look I'm going for is 5 girls, 5 different bodice styles, all the same skirt.  And maybe matching cardigans and bright shoes--inspiration from this cute wedding on Green Wedding Shoes:
So maybe some bright satin shoes on everyone, like these from Nina:
Anyway.  Still lots to decide, but I have time.  The main thing is deciding on the theme/feel I'm going for, and I like too many types.  Modern, funky, retro, romantic, outdoorsey... I like them all.  Working on developing my own hybrid, I guess!


Very cool peplum skirt!

So I've made some fun dresses for work recently, but I also cut out some skirts.  This one is made from the same lightweight, textured poly suiting I made a dress out of, which I think I paid $1.50/yard for.  It's a pretty shade of navy!

Always inspired by cute ModCloth skirts, I wanted a skirt with some interest around the hips/waist, so I loved New Look 6003 when I found it recently...
So many of the versions are cute!!

It's interesting because it doesn't have front darts.  It has darts in the back, but the front is smooth and curved.  It doesn't look quite as flat when you bend your knees as it does on the model, but I love the peplum!  The underside is a near-match shade of navy lining, which peeks out under the ruffles!
The peplum curves nicely over the hips, in the back, too!
So, another fun piece to wear to work.  I think it'll work for late winter and even spring/summer, if I do some resort wear colors with it for early spring--coral?  Classic white or ivory, maybe with a pretty, springy green?  Also, I hate to cover up the waistband and peplum so I think I'll have to tuck things into it, which limits my choices a little.  Blouse, sweater, top?  What do you think?

Also wanted to give an update on the dress I made the other day.  I loooooved your suggestions!!  So many great color combinations I hadn't thought of, and even things to wear under and over it!  I love the big belted scarf idea, and the puffed-sleeve blouse.  I didn't go too adventurous but wasn't as plain as just a black blazer over when I wore it to work yesterday.  Here's what I ended up doing:
Beautiful teal-ey, marine-ey blue J.Crew wool cardigan, long gold necklaces, and gold snakeskin belt.  And fabulous black booties and black tights... not pictured!

Thanks again for your ideas.  I love hearing them!



Sewing Circle: Just starting out...

On Sewing Circle, I answer readers' sewing questions, and you all chime in and add your perspectives!  It is so valuable to hear the views of many other sewists of varying levels, since we all have different experiences.

This time...
I got a message from a reader the other day, Carrie, who found my blog on Facebook.  She's a beginning sewist, wanting to learn more about dressmaking, and was hoping I could give some advice!

I always love when people decide to learn to sew, and am so excited and impressed when they go for it.  Of course there's a world of knowledge to pass on, but Carrie was wondering specifically about:

Recommendations for:
  • Books?
  • Websites?
  • Suppliers?
  • Online classes?
So, what suggestions do you all have for a new sewist?  It has been a while since I perused the sewing books section at Powell's, and I don't have much time to read the great sewing blogs these days, so I'm not up on who all is doing Sewing 101's and such.  What things come to mind to all of you??
Thoughts on designing and sewing...


Thoughts on designing and sewing...

This week on Adventures with Sweetie Pie Bakery...
Jessi inspires us to make our own cute springy dresses!  Using BurdaStyle and other sources, you can totally emulate those amazing dresses when you can't justify buying all 10...
I don't have a garment to share with you today, but I do have some tips to share on how I design dresses. I'm fairly new to sewing garments, so I rely heavily on patterns to familiarize myself with construction and technique. Just recently I've felt comfortable enough to begin to draft my own patterns, in part, allowing me to make more and more modifications on patterns. Come on over to Sweetie Pie Bakery today to read more about how I Design for Less.

Thanks, Jessi!
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Simple dress for work

Well, I got my sewing machine set up recently and this weekend, got some sewing done!!

I made a pretty basic dress style from a nice, moderately heavy weight of soft poly blend from JoAnn's 50% off clearance, so I think it was about $2/yard.  It's sort of a wintery color, so I probably won't wear this dress too many more times this year since I'm starting to get excited for spring...

I used a Simplicity Project Runway Pattern, Simplicity 2473.
I opted for the simplest style, without the overlapping collar or cap sleeves.  I thought it would be more versatile that way, to be worn under (or over?) things.  But now that it's done it looks pretty darn plain...
Of course I can add a belt...
Wide or narrow!  And I could wear a black blazer over it to make it a little more suiting-like.  Or just a cardigan... what do you think?  All I can really think to wear with it is black, but I'd like to have an option that was less stuffy.  Anything artistic I could do with it?

Of course I don't have to go to work today (yay holiday) but I hope to wear the dress this week!


Help!! Vintage pattern-searching

So some friends of mine are getting married in October, and I'm going to help the bride out with a dress for the reception.  She wants a dress sort of like this lovely vintage Vogue pattern... Vogue Special Design 4068.
It's for sale online at pattern stores and Etsy stores, for $95-150.  I'm sure it's worth that much, too; I totally appreciate the value of vintage patterns.  However, for a wedding that's costing enough as it is, it's a lot of money to pay for a pattern!

Do you think we could find something similar somewhere else?  Maybe a boat neck style, with the same princess seams?  We could easily add the sweetheart scallops.
Here's a back view...
Any ideas?
Does this Vogue Special Design remind you of any other vintage patterns, with that great full skirt, or do you think it could be adapted from a modern or 90's pattern??


NOW I can sew again.

Since we moved the other weekend, I haven't sewn a stitch.  It is like a handicap to have the sewing machine hiding in the coat closet and the desk in the dining room and all my fabric upstairs in the office.  Aack!  I really wanted to get some sewing done last night, but we had an impromptu dinner invitation from out-of-town relatives (yaaaay Typhoon on 23rd!) so as far as I got was setting up the machine and accessories.  Which is a pretty important step, really!  I also found my iron in a packed box of fabric--also very important! ;)

It's not for sure in its final location in our new place, which doesn't have a dedicated sewing area like the old house did, but it's a start.
The ironing board I'll have to set up and take down each time I sew.  I do have a tabletop one I could use, also.  I'm not sure what my routine will be but I won't sew every day, so it shouldn't be a problem, I hope.

I also pulled out, along with the iron, several things I had already cut out.  This is good because now all I have to do is sew; it'll be a while before I have to pull out the cutting mat from downstairs and the fabric from upstairs and the scissors from the sewing table...

I dunno.  What about you?  How convenient is your sewing area?  Am I complaining about nothing? ;)



Aaaaah OMG Anthropologie wedding dresses!!

I was so excited to hear last week about the launch of Anthropologie's bridal line, BHLDN, which officially launched on Valentine's Day.

I am getting married in less than 6 months (aaah!) and of course am following lovely wedding blogs, so I couldn't help noticing that Anthro is helping me out with the mood for the wedding dress I'm designing!  I want something sort of fanciful, but also simple enough and not too froofy or fluffly.  A little vintage flair, but not too much.  Thanks, BHLDN (pronounced "beholden"), for the beautiful things!  See a few of my faves...

...Gooooorgeous gowns, all unique and beautiful and amazing:
Great hairpieces to go with (I have such a conflict on hairpieces!  I have no idea what I want!  Veil?  Birdcage veil?  Rosette?  Headband?)
Even boleros...
 Which of course go over the lovely bridesmaid dresses they have!!
And suuuuch shoes...
And of course they have original jewelry:

Anyway.  I couldn't resist sharing some (a lot of) favorites.  What good timing that Anthro releases a line of bridal goodies before I get married!  I can't buy all of them, but I love looking and getting inspired.  Check out BHLDN and pick out your faves!!


A fun weekend-ey, ModCloth-ey BurdaStyle dress!!

Thanks again to Jessi for sharing this darling "Weekend Wenlan" dress with us!! So ModCloth-ey... read more to learn how to make one yourself!

Sometimes you need a dress that you can move in. A comfy little number that you can throw on and feel cute and just be done with it. That's how I feel about this Wenlan dress. It's perfect for weekends and just hanging around...
It was pretty simple to extend the length of the dress and eliminate the collar. I even added pockets but sewed them in a bit too low. Of course, I was making the dress last minute so my option was to have funny pockets, or no pockets. I hurried up and removed them so I could get out the door on time, annoyed at myself for not measuring correctly. You think I'd learn one of these days...
I'm usually more of a fitted dress person myself, so depending, you may want a more fitted version of this pattern. Kathleen did a fitted dress and Novita did one similar to this version. There are also a couple with exterior pockets and ruffles. I love basic patterns that you can do so much to.

*images via BurdaStyle, users Grosgrain and VeryPurplePerson

The dress is super comfy and quick to sew. I used a light wool suiting I picked up at an outlet in Minnesota over the summer and only ended up paying about $4.50/yd! I think it would be nice in a voille for late spring or summer, as you might see a few more of these. I'd love to have a budget for some Liberty prints!

Go make yourself a 'happy weekend' dress!
Thanks, Jessi!  Readers, click here to see more Adventures with Sweetie Pie Bakery from Jessi of Sweetie Pie Bakery!


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