Tag Archives: tutorial


jersey dress + tutorial



This dress is so wonderfully comfortable! I can’t wait to wear it for my next long-haul roadtrip, plus since it’s lycra I won’t be worrying about wrinkles. Perfect project!

on the Santa Monica pier

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The story of this dress goes back to late August, on my way to Burning Man. I’d driven 2,500 miles straight through, wearing the same clothes I was in when I left New Orleans, had one shower over 4 days (and it was in a Shell station) and about 12 hours sleep over the same period of time, and as I stepped out of the sweaty port-a-potty on the side of the highway I spotted two girls across the road. They were laughing and pretty as they got out of their uncrowded Honda, and looked so cool and fresh in their jersey sundresses. They weren’t any more or less comfortable than I was in my tank top and pajama pants, but they were infinitely more stylish. I burned with envy, and sun exposure.

Months later I was in the LA Fashion District with the man I met at BM when I found some slate blue jersey in the back of a shop heaving with bolts of fabric. It was thin enough to drape perfectly but still forgiving, the color was a cool blue-grey (maybe even the color of my eyes), and the price was right at $4/yd. I let the salesman talk me into buying 2 yards and skipped out of the store, imagining how beautiful my “driving to Burning Man dress” was going to be.

in front of the carousel

I used about 1 1/2 yd of fabric for this, plus a few inches of the dark blue jersey that I happened to have around. The bodice was based on the shelf bras I’ve been making lately. I’d been planning on attaching the skirt directly to the top, maybe with an inverted V between the breasts, but Jason said it looked like a slip and suggested adding a band in contrasting fabric. Brilliant man!

the straps crossed tied as a halter

The straps are adjustable–I can wear them tied straight, criss-crossed in the back, or tied around my neck in a halter. There are two small loops at the back for the straps to pass through. The bodice is double-layered, with the inner layer a little tighter than the outer so that there’s more support for my chest. I added about 8″ of elastic below the bust seam to keep that area snug.

Although I made this dress for summertime adventures it works great with leggings and a cardigan.


Before I get to the pattern, I wanted to say a word about sewing stretch fabrics. I’d been using a 3-stitch zig zag (like on my bodysuits) but a tailor told me that a straight stitch at the longest stitch possible and zero tension would work better. Well, I don’t know about better, but it is prettier on the dress. At the beginning of the seam I backstitched to secure the stitching, and before cutting the thread at the end of the seam I pulled the fabric out and stretched it to the limit, which required several additional inches of thread to accommodate the stitching. STRETCH YOUR FABRIC BEFORE CUTTING THE THREADS AT THE END OF A SEAM!!! Trust me y’all, I’m right about this. I did all the seams for the dress the zero-tension straight-stitch way, but I still like the zig zag for bodysuits.

Here are the basic pattern pieces for this dress, in case anyone’s wondering about the construction:


  • I cut all of my pieces on the fold. Make sure the fabric is facing the right way, because there is a right side on jersey!
  • The fabric is supposed to stretch over your chest, so for the bodice width subtract 2 or 3 inches from your measurements. You should cut the band even smaller to keep it from riding up over your breasts. To absolutely make sure this doesn’t happen, sew about 10″ elastic under your breasts at the top of the band.
  • Cut 2 of the bodice piece. For better support, cut the lining about 2 inches smaller and stretch it to fit the outer piece as you sew.
  • I used a heavier weight jersey for the band so that it will give some structure to the flowing shape of the dress.
  • The weight of the fabric will cause the skirt to stretch down and become longer. This is also the case for the bodice, so don’t make the neckline higher unless you want to be more modest (???).
  • There is one seam in the back of the dress.
  • The strap could be cut in the same contrasting fabric as the band.
  • I wound up handstitching the strap to the top of the dress, because I wasn’t satisfied with the evenness of machine stitching. This way, no stitching shows!
  • If you want the straps to be convertible you will need to make two small loops (about 1″ long each) and sew them on the inside of the dress so that they won’t show when worn as a halter.
  • The skirt is more gathered at the back than it is at the front, giving a slimmer silhouette.

This is all available for download as a PDF.

Plus, I’ve got lots of insight on sewing tubes to make straps, in case you’re a little lost.



sewing tubes


Tonight I will share an easy way to make tubing, which can then be used for button-loops, straps, or ties. I’d be interested in what else you could use this for. I’ve used this method on stretch and non-stretch fabrics, to make thin strips or round ropey tubes, from a few inches long to several feet. The way I used to do this was so difficult that I’ve avoided straps altogether, or top stitched bulky straps.

strip of fabric

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First, cut your fabric into a strip. The example is of a blue jersey, cut to about 1.5 inches.

Fold your fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together. Your seam should be at least 1/4 inch away from the fold. If you want to make your strap wider, obviously increase the distance from the fold. If you want your strap to lay flat there should be a small seam allowance, but if you want round ropey straps be sure to have enough seam allowance to plump up the tube when you’re finished.

Attach a safety pin onto the end of the tubing, on the fold, going from the outside in.

Turn the safety pin so that the head is going into the tube of fabric.

Push the safety pin down the tube. The fabric at the beginning will bunch up as you push the safety pin deeper into the tube, so ease that with your fingers. You’re trying to turn that tube right-side out!

Keep pulling the pin down the tube, easing the bunching. Eventually the head of the pin will come out the far end of your fabric… Keep pulling it out until the entire piece is right-side out! Now you’ve got a nice tube, ready for anything.

In a couple days I’ll post the dress I made using this method. Until then, happy sewing!


DIY IQ lights


Taken from my post on Craftster

So, has everyone seen the IQ light? It’s pretty awesome. BUT no self respecting craftster would pay $30 for 30 pieces of plastic, right? So I decided to make my own. I got a template from Readymade Magazine, but I modified it for two pieces on a page. You see, I just printed out the template on cardstock and cut out the shape!

Here’s the template:

In order to cut out the little hooks, I used a hole punch so I didn’t have to get into those tiny curves with my scissors. Made the work much easier!

My first lamp used 28 pieces:

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And I’m not sure how many pieces are in my second lamp. I also am not sure how I made this!

I’m using 60w bulbs, and since the paper is not very close to the bulb I’m not really worried about fires. I’m using extension cords and added switches so that I can easily turn the lights on and off (my sockets are incredibly inconvenient).

This is a really neat project. It’s amazing to see what you can make with just one shape. This would be fun to do with kids old enough to handle sharp scissors. Girl scouts maybe?

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