Monthly Archives: March 2014


I have two quick projects for you this week.

The first one is this simple, knit pencil skirt.

One of my favorite things to wear are pencil skirts. I only had one, so I decided to make another.

I decided to make this skirt a little shorter than the other skirt so I didn’t have to make a slit in the back.

I bought about a yard of black cotton knit fabric, about the same weight and stretch as the fabric in the original skirt.

Then I traced the skirt, plus seam allowance.

trace pencil skirt

I traced the back and front parts of the skirt separately, so I could make the waistband higher in the back. The picture above shows the back panel. You can see how I curved the top edge up. I did the opposite for the front panel of the skirt (I curved the waistband down).

Then I serged the sides of the skirt together, made a simple waistband with elastic, and attached it to the top of the skirt.

I think it turned out really well. I pressed all the seams as I went along- I think that (plus careful topstitching) added to this skirt looking more professionally made.


For the hem, I turned the fabric under and then ran two straight stitches along the edge. I stretched the fabric a little as I sewed to give the lines of stitching room to stretch with the fabric (because it’s a stretchy knit).


It is hard to tell in these pictures, but I also curved the hem up a little near the side seams.

What do you think?


Yea, I know it’s a little weird that I’m sitting on a bed- I just really liked the color of the blue comforter with my black and white outfit. Also it was a space with good light (and it was too cold out to shoot outside).



Also I made it to the Barnes museum! The anticipation of the trip gave me enough of a push (through my creative block) to finish the skirt so I could wear it there. With the same tights, of course.

barnes claire

What an amazing museum. Barnes was a doctor and art collector who wanted to educate people about the principles of art- form, line, shape, and light. He created these “ensembles” to show relationships between the principles. He also included metalwork and furniture to show the universality of the human potential for creativity.


photo source

(if you care about art at all you can keep reading, if not, hope you enjoyed the post! and have a nice day)

Thoughts on the art: In this ensemble, for example, you can see the flesh tones run horizontally through the larger paintings. Also (this is funny!) the chairs below the fleshy women on either end have wide seats so they can sit down. You can also see the back of the chairs mirrored in the painting on the front of the chest.

I would definitely recommend you visit if you are ever in Philadelphia.

Have a wonderful week and happy Monday!



I wanted to share my new blog buttons with you! To add them to your site, copy the code in the text box below each image and paste it into a widget (if you use wordpress) or gadget (if you use blogger) on your side bar.

For those of you interested in making your own blog buttons, I’ve also included the resources I used to make them.

Here they are!

215×75 pixels

HPS octopus button




215×122 pixels

HPS bee button






The internet is chock full of quality tutorials for coding almost anything! I followed these tutorials to create the code for my buttons:

1. I used images from the Graphics Fairy . It is a website of vintage clip art image and DIY projects. It is a great resource for vintage stock images, and everything on it is free (under the terms of use). I used Adobe Photoshop to create the buttons using the images from the Graphics Fairy and the text tool. Make sure your images fit the width of your side bar (215×75 pixels is a good place to start). I made two different images so people could choose which size they want.

2. I followed this tutorial to make the code for the button (its from Teacher Blogging Basics). It walks you through creating a widget and customizing the code so the button can show up in your side bar. Clear instructions, very easy to follow. This is good if you only want to add a button. If you want to add code below the button so people can copy it, read on to step 3.

3. I used this tutorial to make the code for the text box below each button (seen in the side bar).  It is a “Grab a Button” generator. It will generate code for the button and text box below. Paste the code into a widget on your side bar to see it show up on your blog.

I learned SO much about coding and HTML code from this project. I knew next to nothing about it before, and I understand a great deal about it now. This is definitely a project that a beginner can handle. Good luck! Let me know if you want to swap buttons.




I have moments where I feel completely uninspired. They come at the most unexpected times. It’s the worst when I have free time and don’t feel creative. I was looking forward all week to having some time to sew, and as soon as I sat down at the machine, all my creative energy left me. My creativity ebbs and flows. Sometimes I feel so full of it that I could burst! Those moments where my head feels cluttered, I can channel that energy into drawing or sewing or just writing down ideas to save for dull moments like this.


The cat is sleeping and snoring next to me, laying on a duvet I made for my sister her freshman year of college. The fabric is from the fabric district in LA. I love fabric districts. Yesterday I biked over to the fabric district in Philly. Visiting the stores there, running my hands through the fabric and imagining what I could make almost always gets my creative juices flowing.

But then I got home and sat down at the sewing machine, and all that energy left me.

At times like this, just getting started on a list of goals is often enough to break the creative block.

Other things that help:


reading my Bloglovin feed
going for a walk

music and dancing
looking through old lists of ideas
art museums/browsing art and sewing projects online
selfie photo shoots


also playing around with photo editing apps


So now I will press onward, toward completion of today’s list (finish a skirt I started, make another yoga mat bag). Headed to the Barnes Foundation later today with my mama. For me, looking at art is like creative caffeine. Hopefully I’ll come home feeling inspired. Wish me luck.


I’d like to share a guest post with you today. My old friend and sometimes photographer Emily has gotten in to painting furniture lately. I’m always impressed at how she is able to transform old pieces of furniture into something eye catching. Her designs are so simple and classic. Today I’ve invited her to share one of her recent projects. Take it away, Em!

The first piece of furniture I painted was this past summer (2013). I painted an old bookshelf blue and white. I like painting furniture because it gives a room a new look and can revamp something you may have had for a long time. Giving a piece of furniture a makeover can help you see a whole room with new eyes. I haven’t quite mastered painting furniture, and I’m still figuring out best practices, but I have a lot of fun doing it.


I found this rocking chair in an old barn when I was helping to clean out a friend’s property. My godson is having his first birthday in May and I thought it would be a perfect gift.

My cousin Caroline and I did this project together. First we wiped the chair down to clean it off. There was a lot of chipped paint we had to get rid of. The chair was too small to use a power sander, so we sanded it off by hand using a rough grade of sand paper. The more you sand a surface, the smoother it will get- the grade of sand paper doesn’t matter that much. We wiped down the chair a second time to get rid of all the dust from sanding.


Next, we spray painted the chair with a navy blue matte spray paint (Rustoleum brand). We did two very thin coats so that it wouldn’t drip. We waited an hour between the two coats of paint. You can put a fan or a heater by the paint so that it will dry faster between coats. If your coat of paint is thin enough, it shouldn’t take more than an hour to dry between coats. After two coats of blue paint, we let the chair dry over night.


To paint the C on the seat, I printed out a C in a font I liked (Times New Roman or something similar). I used the C as a stencil and painted it with white paint.


Once the C dried, I sealed the whole chair with a glossy sealer to make the paint last. The chair is currently waiting for May in my house, anticipating its adorable new owner!


Another project I’m planning this summer is to strip a bookshelf down to its original wood and then stain it a dark color.

Thanks so much for sharing, Em! For more information on painting furniture, I would recommend this article and this article as good places to start.


This is my method for making single fold bias tape. I used it to make the waistline detail on this dress:


Cut out strips of fabric on the bias that are about 1/2 to 1 inch wider than what you want your bias tape to be.


Sew/serge the strips of fabric together at a 45 degree angle until you get the length of fabric needed.


If you are using non-patterned fabric, it may help to draw lines down the wrong side of the fabric strip to mark where you are going to fold it.

To the ironing board now! You need an iron (obvs) and a piece of thin cardboard, or something else straight, hard and un-meltable. The cardboard helps to iron the fabric in a perfectly straight line. As long as you don’t put the iron directly on the cardboard, I wouldn’t worry about it scorching. Just stay with the iron while it is on, as usual.

Place the fabric right side down. Use the cardboard as a a guide to fold the fabric over 1/4 to 1/2 inch and iron in place. Do this all the way down one edge of the bias tape.



Then go down the opposite edge of the fabric and do the same thing, folding the fabric over and ironing it in place.


I like to turn the bias tape right side up and give it one last pressing along the entire length. That’s it!



Use in whatever projects call for single fold bias tape, or just amass a huge stash of it! (like my great grandmother did- I inherited an overflowing box of bias tape that I have managed to whittle down to one shoebox full)


Ok so I seriously didn’t know what to call this post- Plaid Dress Redo? Boring title, and this dress is anything but! I found this flannel plaid dress at the goodwill off of 202 right near the Delaware border, and it was just so scrumptious I had to do something with it. I was all like, “is it a nightgown or a dress?” It was certainly fitted at the waist like a dress, and almost perfectly my size (except for the button hole at the bust- this is a common problem for me), but the length was waay nightgown-ish.


First thing I did was get rid of the boob button gap. I let out the bust about a half inch at the side seams.

You can see the new seam (in grey thread), and the little holes that were the original seam in this picture. I also moved the button in the front of the dress over about 1/4 inch. This made enough room to minimize the boob button gap.

Then I cut the dress above knee level. At this point, I decided I wanted the skirt a little less A-line and a little more pencil, so I marked, tapered, and serged it. I turned the hem under 1.5 inches and topstitched it.



I saw this dress online that I liked, and decided to add a similar detail to the waist of my dress. Er ma gerd Pinspiration.


I made some bias tape (tutorial to follow) and pinned it in place. My nifty new dress form was a big help with this.




One great thing about this dress is all the red topstitching- this made alterations very easy because I could topstitch without it looking incongruous with the rest of the dress. I topstitched along the buttons below the hips to keep them from popping open.

Loving this dress, and the momentary warm weather!


Da back:




This is another post in which I go gaga over snail mail. More specifically, a post in which I follow some tutorials I found on A Beautiful Mess to make a care package to send to one of my collegiate friends. I remember how disconnected I was from home when I was in college, and letters/packages from home gave me such a warm, fuzzy feeling, made it all a little less lonely. I used to get giddy over snail mail from home, so I like to pay it forward when I have the chance.
I found this tutorial  on making these adorable little books. I used white paper and velvet animal print fabric to make the book, and then I embroidered the cover with beads!


washi tape roses
I also found this cool rose washi tape that I included with the package, and one of those Valentine’s Day cards from a while back (with a note inside apologizing for my tardiness, of course).

Then I followed this this brilliant tutorial on making your own packaging (um why did I not think of this?!).


I cut out an appropriate sized piece of a paper bag, which I stitched together with a basting stitch on my machine (my needle wasn’t super happy about it, but it did okay). I addressed it, crammed aforementioned items inside, sewed remaining edge closed, and popped it in the mail! Heres hoping she enjoys it.


20140302-231408.jpgWhat other items do you like to include in care packages?



I love Girls. That is, the show on HBO. Yea, I know everyone on the show is white and straight. But it hits the nail on the head it so many ways, especially in its portrayal of the awkwardness of being 24. The character Jessa, played by Jemima Kirke, has pulled off some very original and eclectic outfits. I think we can all agree that character Jessa has some issues, but her style rocks. I mean, this skirt is basically a piece of fabric wrapped around her waist with a piece of elastic holding it up- how does she make it look so cool?  Rarely will you hear me say a person is my style icon, but she certainly is. Season 3 is on now, and Jessa was wearing this skirt in the second episode. Heres how I recreated it:

jessa skirt total

There weren’t any good, straight on shots of this skirt in the episode, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what it looks like. In the spirit of it not falling off of me in the middle of the day, I opted to sew the skirt together- it’s a little more permanent than just wrapping the fabric around your waist.

I used about a yard of 60 inch wide knit fabric. Her skirt is chartreuse, but I made mine a dark forest green.

jessa skirt sketch

Basically what I did was cut out a really wide/lopsided “U” shaped piece of fabric, like this:

jessa skirt sketch 2

Then I serged all the edges of the fabric.

I made a waistband out of elastic that fit snugly around my waist (where I wanted the elastic band of the skirt to rest).

I wrapped the fabric around my waist and adjusted it until I liked how it draped. I also went back and adjusted the shape of the U a little.  I took the elastic waistband, put it around my waist, over the fabric, and pinned the elastic and fabric together. I used LOTS of pins. (sorry these pictures kind of suck- I’m working on getting a better camera)

jessa skirt_redo_2

The fabric around the top of the skirt was uneven, but I took care of that at the end. The main part here is to make sure the skirt below the waistband fits well.

jessa skirt_redo_1

I sewed the elastic to the fabric with two rows of zig zag stitches, pulling as I sewed (if the elastic gets all stretched out, don’t worry- once you wash the skirt the elastic should shrink back to its normal size).


I didn’t like the contrast between the elastic and the fabric, so I sewed a piece of fabric over the elastic. This time I used chartreuse, like the original skirt. I thought it went better as a waistband color than white.




Finally, I serged the fabric about 3/4 inch above the top of the elastic waistband. This removed excess fabric from around the top.

There you have it!




I’m planning on wearing it with a crop top this summer. Which, by the way, can’t get here fast enough. I’ve had enough of this cold and snow.
Dyeing over sun damage


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