Make It Work: My Weekend Tunic

I was thrilled when Sabra emailed me asking to be a part of her Make It Work series. She had been collecting ugly and out of date patterns from local thrift shops, and wanted to challenge other bloggers to create something – a nice something – with them.
no bag

A couple of days later I opened my mailbox, ripped open the big white envelope, and found this gem:

The challenge? Make It Work.

First, let’s talk a bit about what I had to work with, the good and bad about the pattern:

Considering that the point of Sabra’s challenge for me was to make something good out of a pattern that was, well, not-so-good, I still managed to find some positives to work from with the pattern. With even the ugliest or out of date pattern, you can still find some positives to base your finished product on. What I liked most about this pattern when I first saw it is that there was a tunic option. I’ve decided that tunics and leggings are going to be my mainstay this spring and summer, so I was excited to see View C, with a nice long length. I also like the overall shape of the top, as it is loose and looks like it would be comfortable to wear. In a shorter blouse length, the top looks fairly shapeless and out of date, but transferred into a modern tunic, I knew I could make the shape into a positive.


Where to start?! Just kidding, I was actually surprised when I excitedly opened my envelope from Sabra – maybe I was expecting even worse :). Most importantly, the pattern was sized 18W-24W, which is too large for me. I also knew that I wanted sleeves on my finished product, but not the bell-shaped sleeves that are provided in the pattern. I didn’t like the side bust darts, and the neckline was not appealing to me either :).
Here’s What I Did:
I chose to use View C front and back pieces for my bodice. First off, I had to grade the pattern down to fit my measurements.

Without getting into too much detail (we’ll save that for a post of it’s own sometime), I took my measurements at several critical areas – hips, waist, bust, shoulder, and a few others, and, after adding ease to these measurements, used the original pattern lines to make the pattern fit my measurements.

I first plotted my waist measurement, and worked from there with the other measurements.
Once I had all the basic points plotted onto the pattern, I was able to connect the lines, following the shape of the original pattern.
To really prove that anyone can “Make It Work”, I decided that it would be fun to use a men’s dress shirt rather than using fabric off the bolt. I found this Men’s Gap shirt at DI:
Before I could cut the pattern out of the shirt, I had to take the shirt apart into the pieces I needed. I cut the sleeves off at the shoulder seams and then cut up each side seam of each sleeve:

And cut each side seam apart…

Leaving just the shoulder seams in tact.
At that point the shirt sections were free to lay flat and be cut with my pattern pieces, beginning with the front.
I aligned the center front of the front pattern piece with the buttons (the middle edge of the shirt will cross over the center of the body when buttoned up). I also aligned the shoulder seams – I didn’t leave room for seam allowance on my drafted piece at the shoulder, so I matched the shoulder seam of the shirt with the pattern shoulder.
I cut out that side of the shirt (only up the side seam and arm opening, leaving the shoulder and neck area in tact) and used the same method to cut out the opposite front side. Since the back of the shirt was still one piece, the only changes I made were to fold it in half, matching side edges, prior to pinning the pattern piece, and placing the center back along the fold. I matched the shoulder seams the same way.
I decided I wanted to add some femininity to the sleeves since the shirt fabric itself was quite masculine. I used sleeves from this pattern, but this time I didn’t alter them at all, since I was not using a knit and didn’t have the room to stretch :). If you’re swapping sleeves from one pattern to another, it’s important that the arm opening is similar in both patterns, or you may need to adjust it. The sleeve pattern I used had small gathers in it, which also helps to be forgiving :). I used the sleeves I had taken apart to cut out my new sleeves.
At this point, all the major work had been done, and I was excited to get to put the shirt back together!
I stitched and serged each side seam.

Next, I assembled each sleeve and stitch them right sides together to the arm openings.

It was nice to see it looking like a shirt again ;)… Or a new tunic, to be correct!
I used my seam ripper to remove the pocket.

And the tunic itself was done (I do iron my clothing once in a while, just not before I took this photo…)!

I decided the tunic needed a little something extra to keep things girly, so I made a simple fabric brooch and pinned it on.
I am happy to say that I did Make It Work!
I love that I can wear the tunic loose and casual…
Or I can add a wide belt…
I can even chase a would-be camera thief, if the need arises :).
Thank you, Sabra, for asking me to be a part of this challenge! It was so much fun, and if I can do it, so can you! As part of the series, there’s a contest with fantastic prizes, so hop on over and enter!

Anthro Knock Off Tutorial: Brocco Bobbies

Need a fun, fast, update for your hair? I can always answer that question with a yes, and was so excited when I spotted Anthropologie’s Brocco Bobbies:

My first thought was how easy it would be to make something similar. They aren’t made of anything more than a fabric yo-yo, a bit of ribbon, and a little bling. The best part is you can customize your own bobbies to your own style and preferences, and the possibilites are endless!

Let’s get started…

1. fabric scrap – approximately 4″x4″
2. 1/4″ or 1/2″ wide ribbon scrap – 3″ in length
3. needle and thread
4. glue gun
5. vintage brooch or button (my pink and gold “brooch” pictured was part of a vintage bracelet I found at DI)

6. bobby pin

7. small felt scrap

1. First we’ll make a fabric yo-yo as the base of our hair pin. Using a bowl or other circular item that is approximately 4″ in diameter (the finished yo-yo will be close to half the size of your initial fabric circle, so adjust accordingly if you’d like), trace a circle onto the wrong side of your fabric.

2. Cut along traced line.
3. Thread your needle and knot the end of the thread, keeping the thread doubled. Stitch around the entire circumference of your fabric circle, 1/4″ from the edge. Leave the needle and thread attached for now.
4. Pull on the thread to very slightly bring the edges of the fabric circle toward the center. This will make the next step easier.
5. Press fabric circle 1/4″ toward wrong side around entire circumference. The right side will look like this:
6. Pull on needle and thread, gathering all edges of fabric circle in to the middle area. The tighter you pull the thread, the flatter your yo-yo will be. I left mine fairly loose to make the yo-yo a bit more bulky. Tie off threads and snip close to knot.
7. Cut piece of ribbon slightly wider than yo-yo and use a match to seal edges from fraying if desired.
8. Using glue gun, place a small amount of glue in middle of yo-yo, and position ribbon over top, pressing it down slightly into the center of yo-yo.
9. Place a small amount of glue on center of ribbon and glue brooch or button in place.
10. Cut a 1″x1″ circle from felt and glue to center back (flat side) of yo-yo.
11. Place a small amount of glue on center of felt circle and adhere flat area of bobby pin in place.
Great job, you are done! Now go and make some more :).
Make a statement with red…

Try adding a feather or two…
Or ditch the bobby pin for a headband!
Be sure to add pics of your bobbies to the Sew Much Ado Flickr Group! I can’t wait to see what you come up with :).

Maxi Skirt Tutorial

the maxi skirt tutorial
The Maxi Skirt. They’re everywhere right now. They’re long, they’re flowing, and the best part is they’re comfortable. They bring a feminine bohemian vibe that I can’t resist.
Anthro sells a couple of styles that I love here and here (if only I could rock horizontal stripes like the model):

But for around $100, why not make 5 of your own? My very stylish little sister Audy asked me to make a Maxi Skirt tutorial (she’s one of those people we all hate that can rock horizontal stripes). And since I might not have been cool enough to think of it on my own otherwise, I’m glad she did so I can share it with all of you! I hope you make a few of your own — I can’t wait to make another skirt in a print!

Materials Needed:
(affiliate links below)
1.5-2 yards 60″ wide knit fabric (hip measurements greater than 38″ will need closer to 2 yards)
2″ wide elastic (for measurement see below)
Ballpoint needle

Pieces to Cut:
From Elastic:
Pull elastic around waist how you’d like to it sit in the finished skirt, add 1/2″ to that length, and cut.
From Knit Fabric (write your measurements as you follow along and you’ll have your fabric cut in no time!):
For the waistband, cut a piece of knit fabric that is approximately 6″ longer than the length of your elastic and 5″ wide. Before cutting, double check that that length will stretch enough to comfortably be pulled over your hips, and cut extra length if needed.
Next, decide how long you want the skirt to be.  Measure from where the bottom of the waistband will sit to the floor, or just above, depending if you want your maxi skirt to hit the floor or not. Divide that number by 3. Add 1″ to that measurement to allow for 1/2″ seam allowances.  That will be the length of the top two panels of the skirt.

The bottom panel will be 1″ longer than the top two to allow for a 1.5″ hem allowance.

To determine the width of each panel, take your hip measurement and add 2-4″ for ease and seam allowance, depending on how tight you want the skirt to sit on your hips. I only added 2″ to my hip measurement because my fabric was very slinky had quite a bit of stretch.  If your fabric has less stretch, you may want to add up to 4″ for ease and seam allowance. That will be the width of your top panel.

For the middle panel, add 10″ to the width of the top panel, and add another 10″ in width to the middle panel for the bottom panel (bottom panel will be 20″ wider than top panel). If the width of your bottom panel needs to be greater than 60″, just divide the width you need by two, add 1″ to that measurement for seam allowance, and cut two pieces that size. Right sides together, stitch the two pieces together along one short end of each, and treat it as one piece from here on.

Note: This skirt is VERY forgiving, so if your fabric allows to only add 8″ in width for each panel without piecing the bottom panel, or you want a more flared skirt and want to add a couple extra inches, go ahead. This is one of those few projects where you can alter the measurements a bit (excluding the length, of course!) and your skirt will still turn out great.

Here’s an example of what a person with 38″ hips and a desired length of 36″ from the bottom of the waistband would need to cut for the panels:

Top Panel: 13″x40″
Middle Panel: 13″x50″
Bottom Panel: 14″x60″


A Few Notes Before You Begin:

  • All Seam allowances are 1/2″.
  • When sewing with knits, always use a ballpoint needle.
  • I would normally use a serger when sewing knits, but wrote this tutorial with the assumption that you don’t have one. If you have a serger — use it!  It will work great.  If not, the great thing about knits is that the edges don’t fray, so finishing seam allowances isn’t necessary.
  • If not using a serger, set your stitch length a bit longer than normal (2.5-3 on my machine), or use a very narrow zig zag stitch with a medium stitch length. A lot of machines also have a “stretch stitch” setting which also works great.

1. Overlap ends of elastic 1/2″ and stitch together using a zig zag stitch, forming a loop.

 2. Right sides together, fold waistband fabric in half, and matching short ends. Stitch together along raw edges, forming a loop.
3. Wrap waistband around elastic and pin in place (the more pins the merrier – it will also help in the next step to stretch the waistband fabric enough so you can pin it without catching any elastic), matching raw edges.
4. Stitch raw edges of waistband together around the entire loop. As you stitch, you’ll need to stretch the waistband fabric gently and be careful to not catch the elastic in your stitches.
5. Fold top panel of skirt in half, right sides together, and matching short ends. Stitch together along raw edges. Repeat with middle and bottom panels.
6. Mark middle and quarter points on panels and waistband by using a marking pen, pins, or gently pressing the fabric in half and then in half again. Pin one raw edge of top panel to waistband raw edge, right sides together, and matching marks. The top panel will be larger in circumference than the waistband. Stitch waistband to top panel along pinned raw edges, stretching the waistband to match the circumference of the top panel as you stitch.
7. Using a low setting on your iron, gently press seam allowance toward top panel and topstitch on top panel 1/4″ below seam.
8. Right sides together, pin one raw edge of middle panel to bottom edge of top panel, matching raw edges and marks. The middle panel will be larger in circumference than the waistband.  Stitch the two pieces together along raw pinned edges, stretching top panel as you stitch to match the circumference of the bottom panel.
 9. Using a low setting on your iron, gently press seam allowance toward middle panel and topstitch on middle panel 1/4″ below seam.
Note: I experimented with gathering the top edge of each panel rather than stretching the smaller piece to fit the larger piece, but ultimately decided that I liked the look better without the gathering. You could try gathering each panel if you’d like, but remember to remove the gathering stitch after sewing pieces together since it won’t stretch with the gathers like you’ll need it to :).
10. Attach bottom panel to middle panel and topstitch using same method as described in steps 8-9.
11. Try your skirt on to double check that the length will be as desired (plus 1.5″). Turn bottom edge 1.5″ to wrong side and stitch in place with two rows of stitching.
Congratulations On Your Finished Maxi Skirt! You are done!
Be sure to show off your skirts in the Sew Much Ado Flickr Group!
I’ll be linking up to some of my favorite linky parties!

Jersey Ruffle Scarf Tutorial.

I wish I could say it’s too late in the season for this tutorial, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be. I’ve been wanting to make a jersey knit scarf all season (mainly because when I’ve seen them in the stores I think about how easy they would be to make and can’t bear to spend $20 on one scarf), and have been so inspired by all the ruffles around lately (have you seen Dana’s Turkey Skirtnow renamed Can-Can Skirt?), so I decided to put the two together and create a ruffle scarf!

This tutorial will guide you through the steps to make your own ruffly (cause that is a word, spellchecker even said so) jersey knit scarf that will keep you looking cute and staying warm. It has exposed raw edges and is super comfy around your neck. It can easily be completed from start to finish in a couple of hours, even if you are a beginner!

Materials Needed:
2.5 yd jersey knit (14″x84″piece)
*2.5 yd of 60″ fabric will make 3 scarves*

Pieces to cut from jersey knit fabric:
Cut 2: 7″x70″ pieces for scarf body

Cut 2: 5″x14″ pieces for ruffles

*ensure that greatest degree of stretch is along 5″ side (width wise) rather than 14″ side (lengthwise) for these pieces — or ruffles will be “flat”*

1. Using a basting stitch (longest stitch length on your machine), stitch down 14″ side of one 5″x14″ piece, 1/2″ from edge. Leave threads at beginning and end of stitch lines long. Stitch again 1″ from first stitch line. Continue stitching lines 1″ apart across width of fabric. The last stitch line will be 1/2″ from edge, just as the first stitch line. You should have stitched 5 lines total.

2. Cut in between each set of two stitch lines, forming 5 strips 1″x14″.

3. Pin one strip to right side of one 7″x70″ piece as pictured. One end of strip will be along edge of long piece 8″ from the bottom, and other end will match up with bottom of long piece.

4. Pin middle of strip 4″ from bottom of long piece.

5. Pulling on TOP threads only, gather one end of strip up to the middle pin. Repeat with other end, and tie loose threads of strip to secure gathers. Even out gathers and pin in place.

6. Stitch gathered piece to long piece, following baste stitch line.

7. Repeat steps 4-7 with another strip and opposite edge of long fabric piece. Repeat steps 4-7 again, placing the strip in the middle of the first two gathers. Lastly, repeat steps 4-7 again, placing last two strips in middle of edge and middle gathered strips.

8. Repeat steps 4-8 with other end of long fabric piece.

9. Pin long jersey knit pieces WRONG sides together, matching ends and sides. Raw edges should be visible after two pieces are stitched together.

10. Stitch 1/4″ from edge down length of pinned pieces on each side. When stitching near ruffles along sides, lift ruffles to the side and stitch underneath.

11. Stitch 1/4″ from edge along ends of pinned pieces, stitching over top of ruffles.

12. Try on your new scarf and go show it off! Great work!