DIY Galaxy Print Mini-Skirt

0.diygalaxyskirt_introphotoA couple years ago I was desperately wanting some galaxy-print fabric since clothing featuring photorealistic prints of stars was just about everywhere. But I couldn’t find any fabric sellers that sold this particular print!! So I just Did It Myself, and designed a number of fun galaxy-print fabrics on, utilizing licensed Hubble Telescope images of star fields, quasars, Red Giants, planets, and galaxies. I worked on them in Photoshop to adjust the colorization and created seamless repeating patterns so they would be perfect for fabric (or even wallpaper!). sparklestarwallpaperIn order to offer them for sale in my shop, I had to order test swatches to check the color and printing. For one of the designs I ordered a fat quarter of Organic Cotton Sateen (upper right in the photo above), not quite sure what I wanted to make with it but certain that I wanted a good enough amount to make something neat. And I finally hit upon a little mini-skirt (though had I ordered 1 yd, I would have had enough for front AND back!).

diygalaxyskirt1 As it was I had to use some black cotton sateen for the back, but it turned out pretty well regardless and I’m just as pleased with it as if it had been galaxy-print all the way around.

diygalaxyskirt3I used Butterick Pattern 6834, chopping the length at View E (since that’s all the galaxy-print fabric I had). (I believe the pattern is no longer available.)
diygalaxyskirt6Here are some similar patterns you could use:

diygalaxyskirt5It sewed up quickly and was pressed and hemmed in no time, and now I have a fun mini-skirt for Summer!

If you’re looking for this same galaxy fabric, it is here:

Alternate Blue Galaxy Print by CarlyJCais

Or other galaxy print fabrics: (click through to access my shop on Spoonflower)

They look great as blouses, T-shirts, even leggings (on stretch cotton jersey!!)

diygalaxyskirt4Stay tuned for my outfit featuring this skirt, coming soon to the blog.

Happy DIY’ing!


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The 12 Must-Have Tools for Sewing DIY’s

musthavetools_sewing1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12

Earlier I shared my must-have list for jewelry DIY projects. And now I’m following up with this list for sewing DIY projects! (These Must-Have Tools for DIY lists are on my DIY Resources page if you’re looking for them.)

My mother taught me to sew back when I was 8 or 9 or so. My first project was a lopsided white stuffed bear with a face that looked both happy and sad at the same time. Since then, I’ve graduated to using and eventually purchasing a serger, learning how to use an industrial sewing machine, and even sewing my prototypes for my short-lived clothing line back in 2007. I love using patterns and making patterns, stitching things together from scratch and upcycling pieces, and basically letting my imagination run wild. Some of my favorite projects that I’ve shared on this blog have been my Cute Summer ShirtDress (the very project that launched my focus on DIY here on Chic Steals!), my Men’s XLSweatshirts to Blouson Top project, and more recently my Ballroom Skirt from a Shower Curtain. Here is my recommended list of really great tools for DIY Sewing Projects:

1. Seam Ripper

You.Must.Have.A.Seam.Ripper. You need it to rip back or to take apart pieces to be cannibalized, to fix stitches…this is vital to creating a perfectly-sewn piece (even if it didn’t work out the first time around).

2. Rotary Cutter

Perfect for cutting uber-straight lines, this is my favorite tool to get things cut out in a flash. (Don’t forget the cutting mat to go with it!) I like the OLFA but Fiskars makes a good version too.

3. Chalk Pencil

This marking pencil is my absolute favorite since it makes super-precise lines and works just like a mechanical pencil. LOVE.

4. Extra Bobbins + Bobbin Case

Who ever has enough bobbins when they’re sewing?? (I’ve been known to wind a new color thread on top of a half-filled bobbin when I’ve run it…which is definitely not a best practice.) Though you of course have to get the correct type for your machine, these ones are my favorite for my Singer. Plus a little case to keep them in will keep them neat and tidy instead of a tangled mess!

5. Sharp, Sharp Sewing Scissors

El-cheapo scissors won’t cut it (literally) if you do a lot of cutting and sewing. Prepare to spend around $30+ for an excellent pair of Gingher or Singer scissors, and they will last you a lifetime. (Just never, ever, EVER cut anything else besides fabric with them [especially paper]…this will dull them like nobody’s business.

6. Sharp, Sharp Pins + Emery-filled Pincushion

I’ve found that certain “decorative”-style pins aren’t all that sharp, and the round-headed ones tend to cause bumps when pinning a pattern to fabric in order to cut. I prefer the extra-sharp flower-headed pins so the pattern isn’t puckering and lifting, and they don’t get in the way of the machine foot so much. Plus an emery-filled pincushion to keep them all corralled is a must. You can also DIY your emery pincushion by following a tutorial here.

7. Hem Tape

Though I prefer to sew whenever possible, some stitchery DIY’s can be accomplished quite easily with permanent Hem Tape instead. (See my DIY J. Crew Sporty Pants and my DIY Windowpane Sweatshirt for example.) This hem tape is just great.

8. Curved Nail Scissors

I love love love these scissors! (They also appear on my Must-Have Tools for Jewelry DIY’ing list.) That’s how much I love them! They work great as thread snips if you don’t feel like investing in those, and help you poke holes and cut perfect buttonholes (just be careful of the curved edges).

9. Pattern Notcher

I fell in love with this tool when creating my clothing line, and again at the clothing factory I interned at in Portland. Normally you’d notch your patterns and fabric at center front and center back, and when matching sleeves. I don’t like using the scissors to notch, because often the cut is not easily visible in the fabric, and sometimes I notch too deeply, straight through the line of stitching. NOT GOOD. With a pattern notcher, it goes through the fabric in a lovely V- or rectangle shape and won’t go deeper than 1/4″, so no chance of ruining your stitching. It’s easy to see and looks professional, plus it can be used to notch the seam allowance of curved stitching. I LOVE IT and highly recommend it.

10. Pattern Weights

Usually I’d use any old thing laying around (my water glass, the sleeping dog, my glasses, the very scissors I actually need to cut with)…but having a group of dedicated pattern weights is extremely useful. You could of course DIY them and make them utterly cute, too.

11. Variety of Machine Feet

Though the project will often dictate what feet you need, I find myself reaching for the same ones over and over again. My Zipper Foot, Ruffler, Narrow Hem Foot, Butttonholer, and Teflon Foot (for leather/suede) help me stitch up a variety of projects with professional results. (the pack pictured is for low-shank machines)

12. Turn-It-All

I absolutely adore this kit I bought awhile ago. It’s for turning thin tubes of fabric (like for spaghetti straps, waist-ties, decorative tubing, and more). I often use the long thin metal rod in place of an awl for holding fabric under my machine foot, and for poking corners out and turning pieces right-side-out in general. I highly recommend this!

Any extra sewing tools that you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments!


*This post contains affiliate links. For my full Disclosure Policy, click here.

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Giveaway! Win a Sewing Class from Craftsy

Have you guys heard of Craftsy yet? It’s an online craft video tutorial site – with hundreds of video “classes” ranging from cake decorating, to patternmaking, jewelrymaking, spinning and weaving, knitting, photography, art, and design. craftsyhomepageAll their classes classes are engaging and well-planned-out, and you can master a new skill easily on your own available time, from the comfort of your own home. craftsyclasses2I especially love by their sewing classes, which span a range from intro sewing for beginners, to advanced techniques like draping and fitting. You can learn specific techniques (like Beginning Serging), Tips and Tricks to Better Sewing, or even create an entire garment from start to finish (like a pair of Designer Jeans!). craftsyclassesAnd you can also purchase items through Craftsy, like sewing patterns, yarn, or fabrics, which help get your DIY projects underway that much faster.[line]

This week I am partnering with Craftsy to offer one lucky reader a free sewing class!

How To Enter is easy; just click on the link below to register with Craftsy to be entered to win a sewing class of your choice from their course catalog (see a full list here)

Enter to win a Craftsy class!

Rules: Giveaway period is open now for 1 week until March 19, 2014, 11:59 PM PDT. Entries received after that deadline will not be counted. Giveaway is open to entrants WORLDWIDE. You must enter through the link above in order for your entry to be counted. Applicants who are not registered with Craftsy must do so in order to enter the giveaway. If you already have an account with Craftsy, just sign in and you will automatically be enrolled in the giveaway. One entry per person (registered account with Craftsy) is allowed. After the entry period is over, the Craftsy team will pick one entry from all valid entries. Winner will be contacted via email; if they do not respond within 72 hours, an alternate winner will be chosen.

Good luck!

FTC Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Craftsy and will be compensated per person who registers through this giveaway. The above opinions are my own. To read my full Disclosure Policy, click here.

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DIY Skirt with Tied Sleeves in Front…from a Sweatshirt

0.diysweatshirtsleeveskirt_introphotoAs I posted (quite awhile ago now!), skirts and dresses with faux sleeves tied in the front are a mini-trend that has made it all the way from the runways of Celine to everyday street style. It’s a cute way to define the waist and yet add a casual twist to any outfit. diysweatshirtsleeveskirt_step8I figured it would be super-easy to re-purpose a sweatshirt into a little skirt with the sleeves as non-functional accessories. With 5 straight seams to sew, it’s also fairly quick and easy, even for sewing beginners. Here’s how to make your own version of this look: (more…)

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How To: DIY Ballroom Skirt…from a Shower Curtain


“Make the workmanship surpass the materials.”


I absolutely love using unconventional materials in my DIY’s. To me, any and everything could be used for a wearable – and I never hesitate to question “Could I use that?” if I find a texture, shape, or pattern interesting. Anywhere, even the Home Depot, Wal-Mart, or garage sales – could offer up a potential material that could be used for a DIY. Some of my favorite past DIYs include these unconventional materials, including my DIY 80’s Acrylic Earrings from a Photo Frame, DIY Lace Maxi-Skirt from a Curtain, DIY 40’s-Style Kitty Beret from a Pirate Hat, DIY Bolo Tie Style Necklace from a Shoelace, and DIY Boho Bangles from Curtain Rings.    familyjewels_showercurtainEnter the unassuming polyester shower curtain. From a pin on Pinterest I found this gorgeous gemstone pattern (above) – and followed it to where I found it was actually a shower curtain by a company called Family Jewels, a Danish interior design company. (And it’s still available for purchase!)

Family Jewels Diamond Shower Curtain, $44.99 (sale)

I loved the pattern so much I couldn’t resist the opportunity to do something amazing with it – so I snapped it up and waited impatiently for it to arrive. When I opened the package I found that it was made of a stiff, somewhat waterproof polyester, which to me felt a bit like a stiff satin or taffeta…which got me thinking ballroom skirts. Billowy, poufy, elegant – and perfect for holiday parties! So I set about making my own. Here’s how I did it:

You Need:diyshowercurtainskirt_4

1 shower curtain  /  fusible lightweight interfacing  /  iron + ironing board  /  scissors  /  pins  /  marking chalk  /  measuring tape  /  matching thread  /  sewing machine + needle for lightweight polyester  /  9″ long invisible zipper  /  overlocker or serger (optional)

How To: *sorry no photos of the process/materials, since I actually made the skirt at about 1 AM in my living room!

1. Basically, I followed this tutorial here for the making of the skirt, so full credit needs to go to Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing. HOWEVER, make sure that when you cut you do it on your fabric that is folded over, so you are cutting 2 of each pattern piece and the waistband is one long length since it was cut on the fold (it escaped my notice until Part 2 of the tutorial, which was entirely my fault.) For my skirt, my measurements were: 41″ long and 32.5″ high. My waistband was 32″ long and 4.75″ high. (Both including about 0.5″ of seam allowance.) I also utilized the finished edges of the shower curtain in my cut piece so that I would have less overlocking to do.

2. I then overlocked all raw edges, except those that would be hidden inside the waistband.

3. Then, I followed Part 2 of the tutorial for the construction of the skirt. diyshowercurtainskirt_2It came together quite quickly and I made it in about 2 hours the night before I had to go to the airport to go to the 3-day Lucky FABB event in October!

When I attended Lucky FABB, my DIY Ballroom Skirt from a Shower Curtain caused quite a stir, with bloggers stopping me to ask me where I got it, and Erica Domesek of P.S. I Made This even going so far as to compliment it when I asked a question to her during a panel. (!! what a moment!!)

This skirt also looks amazing when worn over a crinoline or a petticoat so that it has even more stiffness and stands away from the body more. If you are in the market for a new ballroom skirt like this one, definitely check out home decor stores now: with it being the holidays, shimmery, sequinned, sparkly shower curtains are readily available…and much, much cheaper than buying a skirt ready-made. diyshowercurtainskirt_3diyshowercurtainskirt_1How about you? Have you ever used unconventional materials for something that turned out much better than you hoped?

Do tell!

Happy DIY’ing!

xo Carly


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