Sweater dress? Why, yes!

I went to the thrift store today with my charming friend Carli, and found, mysteriously, two sweaters that were exactly alike except for color. Same size, same brand, same everything. So, what did I do? I combined them!

It’s not the most flattering garment I’ve ever made; it has a tendency to hang. But it is incredibly warm and brightly colored, and it’ll be just the thing for chilly fall days. If those ever arrive. Keep your fingers crossed, folks.

I also had most of the blue sweater left over when I was done, minus some ribbing for the bottom and the bottoms of the sleeves. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get that; I might have to sacrifice part of another sweater to do it, creating a vicious cycle of sweater alterations. I’ll post that one when it’s done, probably in the next few days.

Total cost for this dress? $10. And I get a second sweater out of it, to boot.

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I may have perfected the art of the man’s shirt to dress recon. Maybe.

I have a minor obsession with men’s button-down shirts, as you might have noticed from previous posts and a strangely truncated run of tutorials therewith. I like that they arrive as pre-constructed things with lots of style and structure already; it’s fun to play around within the limits of the original shirt. And I’m finally starting to get really good at it. For example, here’s my latest baby:

If you’re a particularly obsessive reader of my blog, you might have noticed that this is the shirt I was complaining about in the post “On Failure.” I ripped out all the seams I’d sewn into it and began taking it apart with an eye toward making a little sundress. It’s a heavier fabric, but I like to wear short dresses into the fall, so I figure it’ll be okay. It’ll look especially nice with tights and cardigans.

If you look up at the dress, you’ll notice a particularly neat detail. See how it comes in at the waist and then fans out at the top? That was part of my multi-step solution for getting rid of the extra bulk of the fabric while still having a full skirt and bust.

You’ll also notice that there are no buttons on the front of this dress. That’s because my mother came in while I was doing a try-on, mentioned that the buttons were pulling in the front, and suggested I spin the dress around and wear it backwards. It turned out that it looked much better that way. Here’s the back:

The back is heavily darted and tailored because it was originally the front, but I think it looks good. I have a tendency to ignore the backs of dresses; maybe what I need to do is just make a front and then spin the dress around.

I’m feeling particularly autumn-y this week, maybe because I just got back from Portland and the Virginia stickiness is getting me down. So I put my electric fan on its highest setting and took a photo of the dress in its native environment, a fall outfit:

(Socks and boots both gifts from my mother, who knows exactly how to pick things for me. In case you can’t tell, the socks feature crows on a telephone wire.)

This outfit makes me so happy. It’s sort of innocent and country-girl but also sort of witchy, a perfect combination for fall. I have this whole story in my head that goes with it, and maybe later I’ll get myself out to a place where there are some hay bales and do a photo shoot. I can already tell that this is going to be one of my favorite outfits as soon as it gets cool enough to wear long socks again; in fact, I’ll probably wear it on a day I know is probably going to be too hot and then tell everyone I “misread the weather report.”

Total cost for this project? $2 and change, plus a lot of time. And a lot of seam-ripping. But turning failure into success is beyond price.

Contest Dress, final product!

Last night I posted my finished dress on Craftster, and I’ve been getting an overwhelmingly positive response. I’m so happy, I’m daring to think I might win! In which case, I would get a lovely free t-shirt, as well as fame and glory. We can only hope.

This crafting challenge fits right into my philosophy as a crafter, which is to use old rather than new, to take what you’ve got and make it magical instead of running out and buying the new trendy thing. And I think I achieved that here.

Here is the dress. It’s all made out of the black bedsheet, and I’m still sort of amazed by how well it turned out. I tried darts for the second time ever, and I’m really coming to appreciate how much darts contribute to well-fitting clothing. This post is going to be a little photo-heavy because I’m so happy.

As you can tell, I’m ecstatic.

Stay posted for news on whether or not I won. I’ll be heading out to Portland, Oregon next week so I’m going to try and squeeze in a tutorial before I go, something to keep you all occupied, or at least amused at my folly. And I’ll be posting pictures of neat handicrafts and homemades that I find in Portland, which is famous for being the freakiest, weirdest place on the west coast. You excited? I know I am.

Craft Challenge! I love a challenge!

So I’ve recently discovered Craftster, this site where people like me endlessly post their finished projects, questions about crafting techniques, and other neat stuff. And–here’s the best part–they have challenges! Crafting challenges! With prizes!

The current challenge is bedsheet clothing. I think I can come up with something in the next few days, but I’m not sure if the sheet I have in mind can win. See, it’s black. Working with it is basically going to be like, you know…working with black cloth. Not that challenging. Furthermore, the dress that I’m making is ridiculously simple. It’s a black-on-black dress with a circle skirt and a fitted bodice, and while it’s going to be breathtakingly flattering and good-looking, it’s not exactly a wow piece. Here’s the work in progress:

I still need to fix the top edge, install a zipper, put in shoulder straps and hem it. But the tricky parts, the tailoring of the bodice and waist, are done. So I should be right on track for meeting the challenge deadline. I’m wondering if I can win through clever styling–wearing it with a pillowcase shirt or something. Tune in tomorrow, hopefully, for the finished dress.

Tutu? You, too? Youtube? Um…skirt.

Ever since I was about three years old, I’ve wanted a tutu. I think I even had one for a little while; if I didn’t, it certainly wasn’t for lack of begging. So today, to placate my inner child, I decided to make one.

I started with the traditional bunch-up-some-fabric technique; I cut about a million strips from my Giant Bolt of Orange Tulle (see photo), which lives in my room and taunts me with its impracticality. This was oddly relaxing.

Then I bunched up all of those strips, one at a time, and pinned them onto a waistband that I made out of two sleeves from a t-shirt–in fact, the same t-shirt that I used to make one of the tank tops in a previous entry, thus winning me many frugality points. Congratulating myself, I added a quadruple-layer of tulle underneath the strips for modesty’s sake and sewed the whole mess together. And here it is:

As you may notice, I made a few mistakes. First was that under the weight of all that tulle, the waistband stretched out, making it bunchy and weird and meaning that I had to add a drawstring to keep it around my body (that’s that weird little ribbon end emerging from my clothing.) Second, I didn’t realize just how…orange…this project was until I photographed it.

On the bright side, I think that the orange will look good in moderation–i.e., with another skirt over it. If I use it as a crinoline I can add a little bit of orange zing to everything without having to go around looking like CinderPumpkin.

As soon as I came downstairs to show my family, my aunt said, “Oh, neat! You know, I just bought you something like that, only black. Black taffeta. A…crinoline! That’s it!” So now I Have two. When it rains, it pours fluffy skirts, apparently.

Tanks!

So I’ve been in a kind of lightweight summery tank mood lately, and this is what’s come out of it so far. I’m finally daring to work in knitted fabrics, realizing that stretchiness is fun.

This is the first one:

Why, yes, I do look spiffy. Let’s stare off into the distance, shall we?

I made this out of a piece of fabric I found in my basement, left over from an ill-advised project I did when I was 15 or 16. I didn’t really know much about sewing then; I always learn by jumping in, making a lot of crap, and then later regretting ruining so many materials. Luckily I didn’t use up all this purple; there was just enough for an asymmetrical shirt with knot detail. Total cost for this project? $0.

This second one was made out of an oversized gray t-shirt. Using a tank top as a pattern I cut it down to size, and then I just stuck crap on there. I’m not completely happy with this one; it feels like there’s not enough going on. I want there to be a third element, like a cluster of black shiny things covering the non-lace end of the chain, or maybe a skull-and-crossbones button, or SOMETHING. Total cost for this shirt? $3, for the chain. Lace and t-shirt were both found in my basement.

From this…(The t-shirt is underneath, just fyi.)

…to this.

I’m also thinking it’s time to go into business, because I kind of like this new batch of things. I also just tried a new cheap-ass screenprinting technique that I’m loving (non-toxic mod podge and leftover sheer fabric, hooray!) and I think I could easily print t-shirt designs that are way more complicated than my previous stencilling technique allowed. The results of that experiment in tomorrow’s post.