warm weather



My friend Emily is so fun to sew for. She is tall and leggy and gorgeous; everything looks great on her. She brings all her sewing projects to me, and despite several last minute Halloween costumes she has needed in the past (like the Hershey Kiss dress of 2012 ), I can’t complain. This winter she asked me to make her this dress from the blog a Pair and a Spare. We spent an afternoon making the dress, but she hadn’t had a chance to wear it until it got hot out recently. This is the dress we modeled it after:


The tutorial was simple to follow- we made a maxi skirt and attached a long, wide strip of fabric (the bodice using) to the waistband using a zig zag stitch.

Directions and a video can be found here.


The main modifications we made to this tutorial were 1) to use a thicker fabric than recommended, and 2) to use a longer piece of fabric for the bodice so we could wrap it around her more. Using stretchy fabric also extended the wrapping potential.


I used my serger to make a simple rolled hem.

E-em3 E-em5

I love seeing how much she enjoys wearing the clothes I make for her, and it is always a good excuse to make the trip out of the city to visit her. She is also a very talented painter and decorator, so sometimes there is an EXPLOSION of creativity when we are in the same room.

Thank you to A Pair and A Spare for this great tutorial!


So this one time I tried my hand at making a bathing suit and it worked out really well.

When one of my sisters (I have two) came to me moaning, “Claire, I just need one of those high-waisted bikini bottoms that are all the rage this spring!” I couldn’t help myself. Visions of this bikini swam (pun intended) through my head.

I found this phenom 4-way stretch fabric remnant at this crazy discount fabric place called Jomar in south Philly. What is it made of? I do not know, but it feels like super thick bathing suit fabric and seems to hold up in the water (I checked it in the sink before beginning bathing suit construction). The fabric has all these gorgeous bands of marbled purple, grey, tan, and black. I used less than a yard to m.ake this bikini

So here is a picture of the front and back of the bikini (also this is what my bod looks like, in case you care).


I started with a  tutorial and pattern from Sew Mama Sew (link here), and made alterations to the pattern. This is a great basic pattern for making a bikini if you have never made one.

I cut out the size 8 and added 3 inches to the top to make it high-waisted. From there, I followed the pattern instructions, except that I added a 1.5 inch waistband rather than sewing elastic around the waist. (I made basically the same bottom for my sister, but in a different size)

bottom diagram



The instructions for drafting the bikini top were what made me choose this pattern. They are straightforward and easy to follow. I drafted the top according to the instructions in about 10 minutes. I made the pattern for the top according to the tutorial instructions, but I changed the construction. The alterations I made from this point on are a little harder to explain. Bear with me while I explain.

Here is the finished top:


inside of top

I made two straps, 22″ long and about 2.5″ wide. Rather than leaving the top  hem rounded, I attached the straps to the outer third of the top hem and then trimmed the inner two thirds straight. I gathered the middle of the top (per the tutorial). I added elastic to the edges of the top and bottom. I lined the back pieces of the top and attached them to the front. I stabilized side seams with double rows of stitching. I cut the back hook closure from an old bra to use as the back closure of the bikini top.


bikini top diagram

And details:


The top feels pretty secure. I wear a 32 DD or DDD bra, and this feels like a light sports bra. I considered adding cups and a wire, but I wanted something more sporty. I think the key with the support here was attaching the halter straps to the top along a wide region rather than only at one point.

Thanks to the same sister (Ro) who inspired this project for taking pictures. She seems very happy with the bikini bottom I made for her, and is going to wear it with a black bikini top she already has. In the end, I made two sets of bottoms and one top. We’re ready to hit the pool!



bikini // self made :: earrings // vintage and Spotted Moth :: sunglasses // street vendor in France

E-Summer dress 2

Today I have a guest post for you (it’s also the 100th post on my blog)! This dress comes all the way from sunny Nevada, made by the talented Alisa of Go Ask Alisa. I was seriously impressed by her eye for color and fabric, so I reached out to her to inquire about her summer sewing projects. She sent me pictures of this gorgeous strapless mini dress. I’ll let her tell you about it. To read the tutorial on how to make this dress, click here.

“This is more of a party-summer dress. Made out of stretch knit and fine crepe, in real life it is combined from two colors: blush pink and beige cream. I tried to style it two ways, with jacket and without. I believe with jacket it looks a tiny bit more sophisticated. I must say I am not a strapless dress/gown person, neither am I a fan of mini-length. But I decided to try something  – and here we go.

E-Summer dress w jacket 3

The idea originated in a Burda sewing magazine, if I am not mistaken – a couple of years ago. There the dress was done in shades of grey and green.

E-Burda vs Me

The pattern is so incredibly easy, anyone can do this dress – you just need to be careful choosing fabric for it. The top part and middle part should be stretchy to hold the dress itself on the body. As for the fabric: this fabric is brought from United Kingdom and bought at Abakhan (that’s a very well known Russian fabric dealer shop), they have all sorts of fabrics that I have never even seen before!

Note from Claire: the tutorial for the dress can be found here.

E-Summer dress details 10

Clutch, by the way is also handmade by me.” Tutorial for a similar clutch can be found here.

E-Summer dress clutch 9



I’m impressed. Thanks so much for sharing! If you want to see more of Alisa, you can find her at, where she blogs about life, art, writing, and sewing. 

E-Summer dress w jacket 7



I did a little summer clothing swap with one of my friends. I gave her some sweat pants and she gave me this black wrap dress- win! Only problem was that there was barely any overlap in the skirt when I wrapped it around my waist… the downfall of cheap wrap dresses. It was a windy day disaster just waiting to happen.

Before (BTW I’m wearing capris under the dress so I can demonstrate its lack of coverage without flashing you all):


To add more fabric to the skirt, I cut out a panel and sewed it to the part of the skirt that wraps “under”. I basically just laid the dress out flat over some black fabric, and used chalk to draft the shape of the panel. Then I added seam allowances and cut it out.


Here is the panel sewn into the dress:


Mmm. Comfy.


jewelry // handmade :: dress // clothing swap :: shirt // thrifted

shoes // Shoemint :: sunglasses // street vendor in France


Ever wondered how to fix a dress that has lost some of its notions? I borrowed this adorable dress from my sister that was missing a button and a metal piece on the strap. Here’s how I fixed it:

Here is the front and back of the dress…

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broken side

broken side

non-broken side that I used as a pattern

non-broken side that I used as a pattern

I used a piece of copper wire, jewelry pliers, and a sharpie (or a pen roughly the size of the “o” on the non-broken side of the dress)

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I used the pliers to wrap the wire around the sharpie, making sure it wrapped around a little more than once (about 1.5 times)

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then I wound the straps onto the wire circle in place of the safety pin

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sewed a similar button in the top hole (where there was a button missing)

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Ta daa!

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