Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Red Velvet Holiday Dress

Well, it certainly has been a while.

Finally my studies are over for the semester and I can relax - and naturally do some sewing!

I had thought about making a holiday dress for myself for the 24th of December when we go visit family, but I didn't have anything in particular in mind.

I usually try to make clothes I can wear for more than one occasion, but when I scored about 3 yards of red stretch velvet for 1.5 euros at a thrift store, I decided to go all out and make a holiday dress that is wearable for only that one day of the year.

The fabric was a rich red, with star imprints. The imprint on the fabric is really hard to photograph and it's very subtle even in real life, but still I think it adds to the overall holiday-ness of this dress.

I used a pattern that was very loosely based off of The Garden Party Dress pattern by Honig Design. I started off with the pattern but then I altered the sleeves to a bishop sleeve style, then I needed to adjust the fit of the bodice so I ended up making darts that ran over the shoulders and then I also wanted to change the neckline. I didn't use the pattern for the skirt at all, but instead made a gathered skirt. Oh, and the original pattern is made for non-stretchy fabrics and since my fabric had stretch, I skipped the zipper. So in the end, it's like 10% of the original pattern and 90% of my own mess, but I thought I should mention the pattern (it's free!) in case if fits your body better than it did mine. :)

Here are my pieces all piled up:

I used two full-width rectangles for the skirt (and added pockets, of course!):

As I was making this project, I learned that velvet makes a huge mess. Red velvet stuff everywhere (I think it's called "pile"?) Well anyway, velvet pile everywhere. I also learned that velvet is a pain to photograph. The color looks different in every photo I took...

I gathered the waistline by hand and then serged the waistband on.

I assembled the bodice and sleeves (the sleeves have cuffs and are gathered to fit), then noticed the bodice didn't fit me at all - the shoulders were too wide, which made the sleeves look funny when I put the bodice on.

I didn't want to take the sleeves off to make the shoulders narrower (because laaaaazyyyy), so I played around a bit with some darts that ran from the original darts over the shoulders to the other side of the bodice. And with these weird shoulder darts I managed to make the bodice fit better. I also made the neckline wider and deeper and made a facing for it.


Lastly, I attached the bodice to the skirt and hemmed the skirt by hand.

Hem, hem, hem your skirt, gently with a needle; merrily, merrily--


And the dress was done!

Seriously, the color of the velvet seems to change in every. damn. photo.
It was so annoying to take photos of. :D

Here are some photos of the dress worn:

"Oh, what a nice dress you have there." "Thanks, you too!" :D



I am fairly pleased with how this dress turned out. It's festive and it has sleeves (necessary because it's kind of cold) and pockets (necessary because pockets), and overall I like the style of it.

How do you like this over-the-top Xmas dress? :)

Satu / Sew Scoundrel

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Long time no sew (dress to skirt quick fix)

Well this fall has gone fast.

I've been struggling with health issues and my studies, so it's been a wild ride with no chance of proper rest.

I've done no sewing since September due to the various symptoms related to my MdDS... Well, it's getting closer to the end of November and I've been feeling better for the past week or so.

Yesterday I thought that it would be fun to do some sewing... for the first time in over a month!

So I sewed a zipper. :D

Yup. One zipper.


Some of you might remember the black and green dress that I made in August 2015.

Back then, I was asking for suggestions as to what symbol I should put on the front of the dress with fabric paint.

Well, I tried, but it didn't turn out the way I wanted it, and the dress bodice looked pretty awful. So I never followed up on that post, because I buried the botched dress in my closet and decided to forget about it.

I was cleaning my closet the other day, packing away summer clothes to put them in storage for winter, and I came across the dress.

For a moment I thought about just tossing the entire thing, but I still really liked the skirt half of the dress. Upon further inspection I realized I'd sewn the waistband folded in half, and then attached it to the bodice. Which in turn meant that I could just seam-rip the bodice off and the waistband would still be intact and wouldn't need to be replaced. Then I could just change the zipper to a shorter one and use it as a skirt!

So I did just that. I sewed the zipper in today, and now I have a full pleated black-and-green skirt.

Rip, rip, rip some seams and then add a zipper. Easy as that!

I feel like I'm going to get more use of this piece as a skirt, because now it can be paired off with different kinds of shirts and sweaters.

Lesson of the day: sometimes messed-up projects make great successes if you just let them sit in your closet long enough. :D

What do you think of this quick dress-to-skirt project?

Satu / Sew Scoundrel

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sewing a cape with pockets - a video tutorial

Hello there,
I made my first sewing video! Yay?

It's a tutorial on how to sew this cape / coat, which is just perfect for fall!

It's made of thick, rust-colored wool blend (4€, secondhand), a dark purple lining fabric (recycled from an old project) and clasps I ripped off of an old skirt. I used about 3 meters (~3.2 yds) of wool fabric that was 120cm (47in) wide and about 1.5-2 meters (1.6-2.2 yds) of lining.

So without further ado, here are the measurements I used for my cape (both in centimeters and inches). Hope you find this helpful, and perhaps the video will clear things up a bit as well. Scroll down to watch the video, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment!


The front pieces are separate, but since the cape isn't form-fitting the front can be cut in one piece and then separated at the dotted line (the one with the arm slit).

All measurements in the following two pictures are in centimeters. FOR MEASUREMENTS IN INCHES SCROLL DOWN A BIT.

(Centimeter measurements end here.)


The following two pictures show the measurements in inches:

Naturally this isn't the same as a commercial pattern, but it should give you some insight on the measurements of the cape, and perhaps you can make your own cape with this and the video combined. (Please share your project with me if you do!) I would recommend that you know your sewing basics before attempting this, but it's not an impossibly difficult project to complete. The pattern is easy to draw on a rectangular piece of paper that's 50cm (20in) wide and as tall as you want your cape to me (mine was 85cm / 34in or so).


Here's the video of how I made my cape:

It's shot with my phone, so the quality isn't the best, and it's my first ever sewing video so it feels like my hands/arms are in the way half of the time because I have no idea what I'm doing, buuuuut... it's okay I guess XD

So, what do you think about this project? How about the video? :)

Satu / Sew Scoundrel

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A circle skirt that's also pleated (a kind of a tutorial)

Hello everyone,
So apparently my uni classes don't start until halfway through September. Well, more time for sewing! :D

The other day I went thrifting with Stormiina, and I was explaining to her that I have "fabric phases". Like about a year ago I bought any floral fabric I could find in thrift stores (and I haven't gotten through half of the florals I now have piled up at home). Then about six months ago it was all stripes and plaids and more geometric patterns and prints (and I haven't gotten through half of the geometric fabrics I now have piled up at home).

...Maybe I have a fabric hoarding problem? (My husband would wholeheartedly agree, but we're not asking him...)

Anyway, I was telling Stormiina that I'm now so over florals and stripes and plaids, and now it's all solid, one-color fabrics. Like, I need solid colors because I don't have much of those. No more florals for me, nuh-uh!

And then of course at the very same moment I dug this fabric out of the thrift store's fabric bin and immediately but it in my shopping basket.

So much for being over floral patterns, huh.

I don't know what the print is, exactly, but it reminds of fall foliage, red-tinted leaves on the ground; of forest walks on crisp autumn days. It's so lovely! The fabric is this kind of heavy-feeling non-stretchy rayon that has a nice drape to it. The fabric width was only 85cm (~33 inches), which makes me think it may have been intended as a curtain. However, there was 4 meters of it, so plenty for a full skirt.

I wanted to make a circle skirt that's also pleated. I've made pleats in circle skirts before (like with my kimono sleeve bed-sheet dress), but this time I wanted more pleats, but still a circle skirt. I like pleated circle skirts over pleated-only skirts, because they have so much more volume at the hem, without adding too much bulk at the waist.

So how do you make a pleated circle skirt?

When you calculate the radius of your circle skirt pattern (helpful calculator here), you insert your actual waist measurement, so the waistline of the skirt fits your waist exactly. But if you, say, double or triple your waist measurement, you're left with a full circle skirt that can then be pleated to fit your waist. Of course you can also accomplish this by simply cutting out two or three full circle skirts and sewing them together, but my method uses less fabric because the hem of the skirt is still only one full circle, not two or three sewn together. (Also, yay for not having to hem like 20 meters of skirt?)

Since my fabric was so narrow in width, I had to play around a bit to be able to maximize the fullness of my skirt. I didn't have enough to make a full circle, but I did manage to cut out 5/6 of a full circle that had a waist that was double of my actual waist measurement. But with full-width fabric this task would have been a lot easier.

I'm going to go through how I made this skirt, but this isn't exactly a tutorial or a full set of instructions, because I'm not giving out any exact measurements or telling you what you need to do step-by-step. But I am going to explain in detail how I made the skirt, so maybe this is helpful if you want to make your own pleated circle skirt. And really, if you've ever made a circle skirt, this is easy! Just cut out your circle skirt with a waist measurement that's way too big and pleat it to fit. But anyway, here's how I did mine:

I started out by cutting a strip off the end of the fabric. This would be my waistband, and it was about 12cm wide (~4.5 inches).

Next, I cut out five identical pieces that make a 5/6 full circle skirt. I had a pattern piece ready that is 1/3 of a full circle, I simply folded it in half and cut five (because I only had enough fabric for five pieces).

I made mine about 65cm long (25.5 inches) because I am a giant and for me that's just about knee-length :D (By Hand London's circle skirt app claims that 61cm or 24 inches is a "midi" skirt, so apparently their length measurements only cater to hobbits.)

Using the leftover scraps I cut out 4 pocket pieces, because all dresses and skirts need to have pockets.

I sewed two pocket pieces right sides together onto one of the five skirt pieces.

I took two more of the five skirt pieces and attached the other pocket pieces.

After sewing the pocket pieces on I ironed the seams flat and then serged around the pockets and all the sides of the five skirt pieces to prevent them from fraying. I then attached the skirt pieces at the side seams with a straight stitch. First the center front to the sides, sewing around the pockets:

Then the two remaining skirt pieces to the side pieces, leaving the back seam open:

I ironed the seams open after every step. So, after sewing the side seams I had a massive circle skirt that would have fit around my waist twice. I then turned my attention to the waistband.

I ironed some interfacing onto the backside of the waistband to help it keep its shape and look nice and crisp.

I ironed the raw edges in about 1cm (~0.4 inches) on both long sides of the waistband. I then folded the waistband in half lengthwise, but so that one side is slightly narrower than the other, so it's not folded exactly in half but a tiny bit off.

I also folded the ends in so the waistband fit my waist but had some extra (for overlapping the waistband above the zipper that would be sewn in the back seam).

Starting from the middle, I then started pleating the skirt waist to fit the waistband.

When pleating, I made sure that the pockets were at the very "bottom" of the pleat, otherwise the pockets would look weird and might make the fabric warp funny in the end. So the seams with pockets in them were in the innermost fold of a pleat.

Now, I didn't calculate or measure my pleats in any way, I just eyeballed them and ended up undoing them a couple of times to get them look nice as well as fit my waist.

Once the pleats looked okay and the skirt fit my waist, I sewed across the pleats with a straight stitch to keep them in place.

I took my waistband and opened it, then laid the narrower side of the waistband right side down onto the wrong side of the skirt, raw edges meeting. I pinned it in place, making sure the fold of the waistband (1cm from the top edge) was below the previous seam that was holding the pleats together. I then sewed straight along the fold, going slow and making sure the pleats stayed where they were supposed to.

So, narrower half of the waistband, right side onto the wrong side of the skirt, raw edges meeting and so that the topmost fold is below the previous line of stitches.

Once that was done, I folded and ironed the waistband open on the wrong side of the fabric. So this is what the inside of the skirt then looked:

Next, I folded the waistband over to the right side of the skirt and top-stitched it down close to the edge of the waistband.

This hides all the raw edges of the pleats inside the waistband, and since the piece of the waistband that's folded over to the front is a tiny bit wider than the other half, it also hides all the previous seams and stitches. So you're only left with a neat top-stitched waistband!

This is what the waistband looks on the inside:

Next, I added a zipper and closed up the back seam.

On the overlapping part of the waistband, I added two pieces of narrow elastic in between the waistband halves and top-stitched over the gap.

I marked on the other end of the waistband where the buttons should go to make the elastic closures functional, and hand-sewed the buttons on.

I hung the skirt overnight, then hemmed it. You're supposed to hang circle skirts for about a day so if the fabric warps on the bias you can then even it out and only then hem the skirt. It will prevent the skirt hem from going uneven later on. Some say the skirt should hang at least 24 hours, some say you should leave it for a week (!!!) before hemming it. However, I am impatient, so a week is not an option :D

...Well, my 24 hours wasn't quite 24 hours, either. It was more like 14 hours. After this I measured the hem from the waistband down and cut it even (it was a bit crooked probably because I wasn't too nitpicky about the pleats being exactly even at the top, not so much due to the hanging process).

Because of the hem-trimming, I didn't want to lose any more length to the hemming process, so I decided I was going to hem the skirt with bias tape - that way I'd only lose something like 0.5cm (~1/5 inch) and still get a nice, wide hem.

Unfortunately, I didn't have bias tape, or at least not in a color that would fit the colors of the skirt. So I had to make my own. I used a scrap piece of light gray fabric I had in my scrap fabric pile.

If you want to make your own bias tape, here is a set of instructions for that. I don't own a "bias tape maker", so I just ironed the folds by hand, eyeballing it as I went and it turned out just fine.

I opened up one of the folds and pinned the bias tape onto the right side of the skirt, raw edges matching.

I sewed the bias tape on the hem along the fold line, starting about 2cm (or 1 inch) from the beginning of the bias tape. When I'd sewn around the hem and got back to the point where I started, I sewed the bias tape ends together so there wouldn't be any raw edges anywhere on the bias tape, cut the excess and then finished sewing along the folded line.

Then I turned the bias tape onto the wrong wide of the skirt, ironed and pinned it. Since the other edge of the bias tape was already folded in, this left a nice clean strip of bias tape onto the wrong side of the hem that I could then just top-stitch down near the edge of the bias tape.

The hem then looked like this on the inside of the skirt:

...and like this on the outside:

I ironed the skirt and it was all done!

Here's how it looks worn (the first picture is without any underskirts and the rest are with a tulle petticoat).



I've been making so many stretchy pieces of clothing lately that it was nice to work on a non-stretchy project for a change. I really love how this skirt turned out!

So, what do you think of the skirt and the not-quite-tutorial? I hope it is of some help to you, and if you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to leave me a comment below!

You can also comment/message me on Instagram: @somescoundrel

Satu / Sew Scoundrel