Category Archives: Sewing Projects

Summer Night Lights Geranium Dress

Geranium numero deux.

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comThis one is a surprise gift for a friend’s little girl. I’ll be visiting next month and staying with them for a few days so I thought it would be a nice way to say ‘Thanks’. I went pretty simple on this one: simple neckline, no sleeves. Though I did add some piping to give a little separation to the bodice. 

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comI actually made the piping myself and it was my first time doing so! I figured it would be too much of a pain in the butt to find matching piping so I just went ahead and cut about an inch and a half off the bottom of some leftover fabric and sewed up my own. It did end up getting a little wrinkled and bunched up in spots, I think either because I didn’t stitch tightly enough against the piping innards or because I improvised the innards (some of it was actually piping cord and some of it was just some elastic cord I had lying around that was about the same diameter). I probably should have exercised a little patience and watched a tutorial or two, but all in all I think it turned out pretty well.

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comI was taking forever trying to decide which fabric to buy (seriously consider this Fantasy Forest print from Michael Miller) and when I showed my husband the options he was like, “Pfft. No contest.” So I went with this Summer Night Lights print by Michael Miller. The fabric was a double-edged panel which was great because I only had to buy 1 yard of fabric total to sew this dress up in size 2T.

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comAs with the last time I made the Geranium dress, since this was for a gift I wanted to finish it nicely. I also wanted to keep it a nice, cool summer dress and didn’t want to line it. Instead, I opted to finish the seam allowances with ribbon, a first for me!Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comI’ve always admired how lovely finished seams look on other people’s projects and I gotta tell ya, I think it’s looking pretty slick here too. Maybe I’ll start finishing more of my projects this way.

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comI opted to use pink buttons on the back closure because I thought it would nicely highlight the pink flowers in the bottom border print. Originally I wanted the buttons to be little pink flowers but they were all sold out of the ones I wanted at the fabric store and I’m far too impatient to look elsewhere!

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress -

Fabric: Michael Miller’s Wee Wander Summer Night Lights, Double Border Twilight
Yardage: 1 yard
Pattern: Made By Rae, Geranium Dress

Bronte Top by Jennifer Lauren Vintage: “Sangria”

Crafty Little Secret - Bronte Top craftylittlesecret.comAs evidence of just how much I love this pattern, when I was working on this post I created a folder called “Bronte Tops” and put this one in the sub-folder “Sangria”. I’m just so sure that I’ll be making more of them!

Bronte is the newest pattern from Jennifer Lauren Vintage and she is the most flattering t-shirt EVER!!!!!! While I sewed up this Sangria Bronte within, like, 2.4 milliseconds after the pattern’s release, Jennifer is currently hosting a Bronte Sew Along with tons of tips for sewing with knits. So if you haven’t bought the pattern yet, here’s your excuse! (Jennifer is not paying me to say this and, in fact, has no idea who I am. I am just a girl who sewed this pattern and loves it.)

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte topJennifer suggests using a medium weight knit with good recovery and about 40% stretch for this pattern (a detailed description of how to choose your fabric is included in the pattern). It was perfect for some beautifully intense knit fabric my mom gave me for Christmas (along with the blue fabric I used on my Blue Afternoon skirt). With a beautiful color like this, I decided to name the top “Sangria”!

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte Top craftylittlesecret.comAs is often the case, I forgot to transfer the pattern markings on half my top so I was guessing a bit with the shoulder construction. As you can see, it just doesn’t quite sit flat at my shoulders. You can see the pulling a bit where the front panel is sewn to the back (arrows).

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte Top craftylittlesecret.comI opted to use some emerald knit left over from my Eva dress to add a little pop to the neckline and couldn’t resist sewing on a few little button details too. I knew I was saving those mini scraps for something!

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte TopOne of the things I love most about this top is the shape it gives me. I’ve got the bust handled, but from waist to hips I’m pretty much just a tube. The shape of this top is really very flattering from the back (even more so when I remember to adjust myself and smooth the wrinkles before taking photos!

Jennifer gives the option of using a twin needle to finish the hems and neckbands, which I took because I can’t resist the opportunity to use a twin needle. I found that my hem stuck out a little too far (I ended up taking 2″ out of the side seams at the bottom of the top) and the hems on my sleeves stick out in a bell shape a wee bit too. I’m not sure if this is due to using a heavy fabric or perhaps I am stretching my fabric as I sew? Maybe Jennifer will include tips about dealing with these hems during her Sew Along.

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte Top craftylittlesecret.coAnother final note on this pattern. I’m 5’10”, a little long in the body and I like my tops to hit mid-fly on my jeans. I added 2″ to the length of this pattern and it is pretty perfect.

Also, you’ve only got two more days to enter my Vintage Sewing Pattern giveaway celebrating my 100th blog post. Contest closes Wednesday June 25 at midnight (PST) and the winner will be announced Thursday June 26.

Now to go back to searching for the perfect print for my next Bronte top…..

Pattern: Bronte top by Jennifer Lauren Vintage

Total Time: Including cutting and modifications, about 4 hours
– 1.3 yards medium weight knit
– scraps from Eva dress for neckband
Size: 20
– added 2″ to length
– took in waist by 1″ and hips by 2″

Nautical Striped Dress: Butterick 5593

Crafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Nautical Striped Dress craftylittlesecret.comThis is actually a make from a couple years ago (before I had this blog) but it’s been finding some new love lately so I thought I’d dust it off and write it up.

This is a easy sewing pattern from Butterick, B5593 and it’s a great little basic pattern.

Crafty Little Secret - Butterick 5593 Sewing Pattern craftylittlesecret.comCrafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Sewing Pattern craftylittlesecret.comI sewed up View B with the scoop neck because I thought the V-neck looked a little low, especially for my ample bosom. As it turns out, even the scoop neck was a bit low for my liking, but that’s solved with a white cami underneath. Next time I make it I think I’ll bring the neckline up by at least an inch (arm holes too, they’re strangely gaping). It should be a really easy adjustment since the neckline isn’t even faced.

Crafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Sewing Pattern - craftylittlesecret.comCrafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Sewing Pattern - craftylittlesecret.comThe pattern features a waist tie that goes under the dress at the front, exhibiting some gathers at the top of the skirt, and emerges from the sides to wrap around the waist. The waist gets a bit more definition with a little elastic gather at the back as well.

Crafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Sewing Pattern - craftylittlesecret.comAlthough I made the dress a while ago, I do remember that it was pretty tricky to try to sew the button holes that the waist tie passes through in knit fabric. In the end I was glad they’re mostly hidden by the skirt gathering.

Re-reading the pattern instructions now, I suspect I used a fabric with a bit too much stretch since the pattern says it’s suitable for fabrics with moderate stretch only. Oh well, the fabric I chose is so lovely and swishy that I don’t care!

Crafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Sewing Pattern - craftylittlesecret.comI think I’m just going to have to remember to automatically add at least an inch to the bodice of every dress I make. I’m long in the body with narrow hips and my bust sits low giving everything that baby doll look. There’s a definite sweet spot for where things hit me that isn’t always at my natural waistline. Too high and it looks like there’s no space between my bust and waist (which is, in fact, the case) or I look pregnant (which is not, in fact, the case). Too low and it looks like my entire body is a tube the same thickness as my bust. The lengthen/shorten line on this pattern is in the skirt pattern piece which wouldn’t really help with my problem. So I think next time I make it I’ll just add a couple inches right where the bodice joins the skirt.

Crafty Little Secret - Butterick B5593 Sewing Pattern - craftylittlesecret.comLooking at these pictures I’m really surprised how short this dress is compared to how it looks on the envelope front! Unfortunately, I can’t remember if I cut the length according to the pattern or decided I wanted it shorter. I’m 5’10” so I usually cut everything with at least an extra inch or two in length. Or maybe I didn’t pre-shrink the fabric??? Seems like something I would skip….

Sorry I can’t remember more details about the construction, I pretty much just followed the pattern! But since I’ve found new love for this dress I thought I’d share it here.

Re-Sew-lutions 2014: Drafting a Pattern

We’re halfway through 2014 and I’ve only got one of my three 2014 re-sew-lutions under my belt;
1. Sew a jacket
2. Participate in Me-Made May
3. Draft a pattern

I’ve got the fabric for a jacket (a nice blue twill), so that counts as started. Right? That left me with figuring out what pattern I wanted to draft. With so many amazing indie pattern designers out there, I feel like there’s an already existing and easily adaptable pattern for most things I’d like to make. So stop being so awesome, fellow sewists! Sheesh! I also have a lot of trouble imagining clothes out of thin air.

I’ve definitely constructed clothes without a pattern before, but I’ve never made a paper pattern. Which is a bummer because sometimes my self-drafted garments turn out well I’d like to actually replicate them. And sometimes those self-draft garments don’t turn out so well and taking the time to draft something thoughtfully would have likely done me some good.

Anyhoo, I think I’ve found my inspiration piece. Introducing……the Ask the Anthropologist Dress!

Ask the Anthropologist dress


This dress has a few things going for it that I think make it a good inspiration for my first self-drafted paper pattern;
1. The dress is out of stock (and wasn’t available in my size to begin with) so I can’t just buy it
2. More forgiving shape than something very fitted
3. Sleeves – Simple sleeve style – won’t need to worry about facing or fitting sleeves into an arm scythe.
4. Experience – I’ve sewn a cowl neck before.

So far, the tools I have in my arsenal are;
Patternmaking (Portfolio Skills) by Dennic Chunman LoPatternmaking (Portfolio Skills) by Dennic Chunman Lo….annnnnnnnnnnd……that’s it. What, not enough? Well, that’s where you come in.

Can anyone recommend some great starting places for me? Craftsy classes? Bare essential tools? Awesome blog tutorials?

Sometimes I just blindly run headfirst into things like this and this time I’d like to slow down a little and really try to learn a new skill.

Back to Basics Sew-Along: Blue Afternoon Skirt

Back 2 Basics Sew-AlongAs I mentioned yesterday, Katie at the Creative Counselor is hosting a Back to Basics sew-along this week to help everyone fill in some holes in their me-made wardrobe. Me-Made May ’14 made it abundantly clear that I am missing bottoms. So I decided to make a super simple, super comfy skirt that I’m calling my Blue Afternoon Skirt.

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt I used about a meter of medium weight cotton knit with two-way stretch to make this skirt and no pattern. I hesitate to call this skirted “self-drafted” because I think that implies that I actually made a pattern instead of just vaguely tracing a skirt shape onto fabric in chalk, quickly sewing it up then trimming away bits as I tried it on. But hey, close enough to “self-drafted”, right?

I originally intended for this skirt to have a high, flat waistband that could be worn under shirts without making bumps and lumps or over a shirt for a nice neat high waistband. After I made it though I realized that I basically just sewed a yoga pant waistband onto the skirt. I think it can still be worn up…..

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt….or folded down…..

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt

Looking at these pictures confirms what I’d feared……I think I’ve gotta straighten that hem out. It started straight. But after some adjustments to the waistband I guess it ended up a little wonky. I’m currently out of the matching thread so for now I’m just going to have to wear it as-is and hope that no one notices the uneven hem as I’m swooshing along.

Swoosh, swoosh!

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt craftylittlesecret.comTo make this skirt I cut two big triangles, one for the front panel and one for the back. The waist was cut about 4″ smaller than my actual waist measurement and since I didn’t have quite enough fabric to make a true circle skirt, the bottom of the skirt was just cut as wide as I could. As an after thought, I also cut out some pockets. When I sewed up the side seams of the skirt, I inserted the pockets about 3″ below the waist. As it turns out, this is a little lower than my liking and I would have preferred them more like 1″ below the waist.

The waistband was made from a band cut 4″ shorter than my waist and about 6″ wide. I sewed it into a loop, then folded it in half lengthwise and attached it to the top of my skirt piece with the seam at the center back. If I had thought that I’d be wearing the skirt with the waistband folded over yoga pant-style, I probably would have made some effort to hide the seams. As it was though, I just sewed the two pieces together.

I’ve actually worn this skirt a couple times already. It’s sooooooooooo comfortable for lazing about the house and does a surprisingly good job of staying wrinkle free. The only issue so far is that the waistband seems to stretch out a bit as I wear it. I’ll see where we’re at after I wash it, maybe I’ll have to add some elastic to the waist.

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt craftylittlesecret.comThanks so much to Katie for organizing the sew-along and inspiring me to get Back To Basics!!!!

Vogue 8469 Maxi Dress

Vogue 8469 Maxi

I finally got around to making something out of the knit I bought on my trip to the LA Mood! I bought it with the intention of making a maxi dress but was flip-flopping a lot on what pattern I wanted to use.

I knew it needed to meet a few criteria for me to actually wear it;
– be able to wear a normal bra with it
– not be too low cut
– but also not cut to close to my face
– be casual

Turns out Vogue 8469 (Very Easy) was the winner! I sewed up View B, but I still made some alterations to make it work for me.

Vogue 8469 back

I increased the overall length of the dress to make it a full maxi (the pattern is more of a midi). I’m still not 100% sure that I prefer the maxi over the midi length, but I figure I can always go back and shorten it later.

What do you think??

Vogue 8469 shorter

Should I shorten it?

I also left the ties off the waist. I thought it would add unnecessary bulk and I was running low of fabric. This fabric is just a one-way stretch so even though the print isn’t directional I still ended up with a bunch of wasted fabric because I had to make sure I kept the stretch in the right direction. Something to keep in mind for next time.

Vogue 8469

The pattern isn’t designed for knits so rather than trying to redraft the bodice with negative ease I just cut a smaller size. That worked well except that the waist band is hitting me a bit high now. Not a big deal on a knit dress like this but would’ve looked pretty weird if I’d sewn this up in a non-stretch fabric.

Vogue 8469

In the interest of keeping this dress a little more casual I opted to sew in neck and arm bands instead of using a facing.

Vogue 8469

I used Rae’s fantastic tutorial for this over at Made By Rae. In fact, she’s got a whole awesome series on sewing with knits and has tutorials for a few different neckline finishes. I didn’t quite cut my neckband short enough so it gapes a bit (as you can very slightly see in the picture above). Luckily, while I’m wearing it the gaping is more at the neck rather than at my bust. Definitely an improvement over my first neckband attempt with my Scoop Neck Tee. I’m learning!!!!

Vogue 8469

I opted to top-stitch with a twin needle around the neck and arm openings with white thread to add a nice finishing detail and keep the casual look of the dress. I finished the inside of the dress with French seams everywhere but the neck and arm band attachments. For these, the twin needle top stitch helped finish the inside and then I just trimmed up the excess fabric.

Vogue 8469

Seriously though you guys, attaching the neck and arm bands totally had me dreaming of sergers – #1 on my sewing toy wish list!!! (Followed closely by #2 – an adjustable bust form).

Ok, here’s the summary:

Fabric: one-way stretch cotton jersey, 3.25 y
Pattern: Vogue 8469 View B
– added 12″ to length
– eliminated waist tie
– finished with neck and arm bands
– eliminated facing

Vogue 8469

I think I’ll have to wear this dress with one of my bright pink cardis to keep it from looking a little too goth! LOL!

So what do you guys think? Keep it long, or cut it to below the knee??

Refashion: Aqua Goodwill Find


Whenever I’m flipping through the racks at Goodwill I always keep an eye out for fabric that jumps out at me. I thought the aqua and white print on this dress was so cute. There was just one problem…refashion before…..the dress needed a wee bit of altering.

I liked the overall idea of the dress but, honestly, I just don’t seem to wear my dresses much. So I decided to turn it into a top. I didn’t like where the waistline was hitting me so I thought that was a good place to take out some length.

Refashion cuts

Knowing my bust would be the most difficult part to fit, I started work on the top of the shirt. I put it on over a tank top and pinned the shirt to the tank in the center and at the side seams to keep it in place, then gathered the fabric on one side of the bust and pinned it.

refashion bust pleat pinning

I carefully took the top off and pinned either side of where the gathers began, then pulled the pin holding the gathers out so the top would lay flat.

refashion bust pleat pinning2

I measured the distance between the pins and the distance from the button stance so I could replicate it on the other side and make even bust gathers. I quickly stitched them down to keep them in place while I made some other adjustments.

The original sleeves on the dress gaped open too much and there was still a lot of bulk on the side of the shirt. Once I had the bust darts figured out I put the top back on to figure out how to take in the sleeves.

refashion sleeve pin

The arrows are pointing out the pins, not side boob.

I omitted the middle elastic section I had cut out of the shirt and sewed the top portion to the bottom (I had to take in the bottom a little to account for the fabric I took out of the top).

refashion during

The refashion could have been done at this point, I guess, but I wasn’t satisfied with the fit yet. The sleeves looked funny with my arms down so I took them in along the dotted line I drew in the picture above to produce the sleeve in the photo below:

refashion sleeve

I also felt like the waist seam was sagging at the side seams and on my back, so I needed to bring that up a bit. I wanted it to be just a wee bit more fitted around the waist too.

refashion during back

The waist seam adjustment left me with some extra fabric that I was able to use to form an elastic casing.

refashion back seam

refashion elastic casing

I reused the elastic from the original top and cut it to fit tightly across the back of my new shirt. It did the trick!

refashion after front

refashion after back

I think this will be a great easy-to-wear and easy-to-care-for summer top!

Anyhoo, I’ve got a trip to New York to pack for so for now I’ll just leave you with this series of goofy poses:

refashion after goofy3

refashion after goofy4

refashion after goofy1

refashion after goofy2