DIY Bell-Sleeve Coat Dress and Sweet Dress Book Review

sweetdressbook_coatdress1 Laurence King Publishing (the same publishers of the incredibly useful DIY Couture by Rose Martin) recently were gracious enough to send me a copy of their newest sewing book, Sweet Dress Book: 23 Dresses of Pattern Arrangement by Yoshiko Tsukiori. sweetdressbook_cover2Translated from the Japanese, this pattern book features 23 tutorials for making a variety of blouses, tops, dresses, cardigans, and even shorts – all engineered from a basic 6 patterns with different darts, flounces, and lengths to switch up the silhouettes. (more…)

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Trend: Kaftans for Summer!

Hot And Heavy, Baby! Spring 2011 by TheAcademic ♥s Andrej Pejic! featuring flared jeans

Kaftans (or Caftans) seem to be on everyone’s mind lately as a summer staple.  Polyvore even put together an array of latest looks featuring caftans – and I’m loving the breezy, lunch-on-the-Riviera feel to them.  From Elizabeth Taylor to the Olson twins, caftans have always been a mainstay of A-listers, but now they’re most definitely on-trend for the rest of us.

From left to right: French Connection Diamond Embellished Caftan, ASOS Pleat Front Chiffon Cover Upicon, Helene Berman Oversized Flower Short Kimono Kaftan; all


How to get the look without breaking the bank:

Besides sourcing one from a lower-priced store, like, ASOS.comicon, or even Forever 21, a great alternative would by thrifting something sheer, oversized, and fabulous – and just repurposing it as a caftan.  (Adding trims or details as you desire.)  You could also sew your own in your favorite fabric with a pattern from Burdastyle.

BurdaStyle’s 07/2010 Caftan Pattern

This 07/2010 pattern an extremely simple one, easily made more modest or revealing as you may choose, and for me, the fun part would not only be choosing the fabric – but also finding my favorite trim to adorn the neckline and sleeve-openings!  You could make it as glamorous or as casual, as sheer or as opaque, as bright or as neutral a poolside cover-up as you wanted!  Speaking of cover-ups, there’s also another item that’s been playing on my mind:

Sienna Bikini, $55; Saskia Attachable Skirt, $40; Rebecca Manning.

(I know it’s not a caftan per se since it doesn’t cover the shoulders…but it’s too pretty not to mention!)  This gorgeous convertible bikini cover-up is from Rebecca Manning on FashionStake [a website that allows emerging designers to sell directly to the public by allowing them to secure orders before going to the manufacturers, paying for a full run of items, and then being stuck with excess inventory and no cash at the end of the season – which is a fantastic solution to the incredible waste in the fashion industry by over-manufacturing, and the high start-up costs to the independent designer.  Plus because the order is placed by the customer first it allows the designer to offer the item at a high discount compared to what it would retail for if it were manufactured first and then sitting on a retail shelf, waiting to be sold.  I LOVE the innovation of this site!!)

Anyway, not only is the above bikini top flattering and chic, but the “caftan” part simply attaches to the front.  Choose your favorite color for the bikini and print for the caftan skirt part.  Ingenious!

Also: how timely! is currently giving away a $920 Missoni Kaftan!

Enter to Win the Missoni Kaftan Here

(giveaway period closes in 14 hours!!)

How do you feel about caftans?  Loving them?  Or too “Golden Girls” for your taste?

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McCall’s Patterns Exploit the DIY Trend…and I ♥ It!

Patterns by Flirt Brooklyn for Generation Next for McCall’s…I’m dying to make the purple blouse in the center!

I was browsing in Jo-Ann Fabrics the other day (“browsing”…ha, who am I kidding – it’s practically my second home and every time I go always check out EVERY aisle to see what’s new and what they’ve moved around)…and I happened to site down and start flipping through the McCall’s pattern catalog.

Normally I don’t look through the catalogs since I’m usually bored to tears with more of the styles on offer…the only ones of any interest I usually find to be Vogue patterns (but waaaaay too expensive for just a pattern…I mean $25??  Come on.) or Burda Patterns, which are more youthful but on the more pricey side than Simplicity or Butterick [perhaps because of this?].  (The patterns available for purchase online from BurdaStyle are a different story though – affordable and perfect for a quick project!)

10 different styles of fabric flowers??  Amazing!

So in any event I was surprised to see in McCall’s book a collection of patterns called Generation Next.  These patterns, created by a number of contemporary designers, are amazingly youthful, fun, and on-trend – something that many pattern companies attempt but often miss the mark at.  (Ever seen the Project Runway-branded patterns from Simplicity?  Some are okay, but some make you wonder what they have to do with Project Runway, or anything contemporary at all.)

(Sorry for the crappy phone camera pics – it’s all I had at the time.)

Featuring patterns by designers such as Megan Nicolay from the Generation T books and Althea Harper from Project Runway-fame (!), this collection is priced a bit higher than the average McCall’s pattern but all the patterns are fashion-forward and similar to styles we’re seeing on retail shelves right now (at least, IMHO).

Epaulets??  When have you ever seen a pattern for removable epaulets??

I also spotted patterns for corsages (!), and patterns for jewelry.  Now, I have NEVER seen jewelry patterns in a large-company pattern book at an established fabric retailer…NEVER.  Just goes to show that the times, they are a-changing!

Removable shoe-jewelry, necklaces, belts, and a scarf.  Those shoe “petals” at the bottom look strangely familiar…haven’t we seen this DIY tute on the Internet awhile ago???;-)

Have you seen the Generation Next collection of patterns at all? (There are a lot more patterns available at your local sewing store if it carries McCall’s – the McCall’s website only has a few.)

What do you think – should patterns just stick to being sewing patterns for fabrics – or would including DIY-style instructions for making accessories be something you’d like to see in commercially-available patterns?  Innovative?  Or just a sad marketing attempt at exploiting a current trend?  Discuss!


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How to Make High-Waist Shorts: Question

Sparkle & Fade Belted High Waist Short, $48,


Can Carly ,I`m 16 years old ,I love fashion and I tried start to sew .I`m not very good and I ask you to post a DIY : how to make high waist shorts . Thanks you ,and sorry if I did some mistakes (my english is not perfect )=)
Hi there! Thank you for your question.:-)

Unfortunately making a pair of shorts into ‘high-waist shorts’ using DIY methods is pretty much impossible. (Even if you happen to find a pair of shorts with a HUGE seam allowance at the top of the waistband, you likely won’t be able to unpick the seam, flatten it upwards, and wear them like a pair of high-waist shorts – the proportions of the waist piece will just be strange, and angled incorrectly.)

Kind of like this.  (img source)

You *could* add a piece of fabric under the top waistband of your shorts, creating a double-layered effect, and have that piece create the “high-waisted shorts-look”. (I’d cut a strip of that fabric to use as a waist-tie  or as detailing on the cuffs to make the shorts look as if they were designed that way – and didn’t just suffer a piece of fabric tacked on to them.)

To make a pair of high-waist shorts (or “paper-bag shorts”) from scratch there are a number of patterns out there you can buy (like Easy McCall’s 5457 or Easy Butterick 3731 at – or if you are crafty you can also alter a shorts pattern to a high-waist or paper-bag style. (Two methods for the paper-bag style are using Burda-Style’s tutorial, or Threadbanger’s tutorial (for an elastic gathered-waist skirt) – embedded above.

Hope that helps and good luck!

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The Uniform Project is Over! And the New-and-Improved U.P. Dress for Sale!

Uniform Project Picture Book from The Uniform Project on Vimeo.

 watch the video above if you want to see the full year of 365 outfits Sheena styled.

As you guys probably noticed from an earlier post of mine, I’ve been following along with The Uniform Project for the past year.

Though more than once I’ve thought, “Gosh, why didn’t I think of that first?”, the idea for the site is pure genius.  Raising awareness for a little to unknown cause through a fashion dilemma: how to style the same dress differently for every single day of the year.  That’s 365 days, wearing the same garment daily.

Could you do it?

Besides also tying in to the concepts of eco-friendliness (same item in different outfits; stretching what you have to work in different situations) and charity – it’s an idea that hinges on the explosion in popularity of the street style blog and photo log.  Plus, it’s FABULOUS marketing for the designer of the dress.  Research and the theory of effective frequency has shown that a consumer has to be exposed to an image about 3 times before the ad is retained in the subconscious; and some time around the 12th-13th exposure the consumer begins to feel the product has value and begins to want it.  (Though the rule of 13 was coined back in 1885 this idea is often still quoted today.)

The first time I saw the Uniform Project dress, I thought “basic little black dress; kind of cute but nothing too special.”  The second and third times, I probably thought the same thing.

This is the new version of the dress available, in organic cotton + silk.

As I kept returning to the site and seeing Sheena’s myriad of styling methods for the same garment, over and over again, I began to want the dress.  What an incredibly persuasive piece of subversive advertising!!  (How many of you started to want this dress too?)

When it did finally go on sale I balked at the price [$150].  (I know, I do try to support struggling designers when I can, but I couldn’t really justify a purchase of the dress at that price.)

So when they also offered the PATTERN (for the new and improved U.P. Dress), I snapped it up.  Yes, the pattern is a little basic and I could easily just purchase a similar pattern from the sewing store and alter it, but I did want to contribute to the cause of helping to send impoverished Indian children to school.  And in meaner economic terms $20 is much easier to justify to myself (and Hub, since we share a bank account!) than $150.

I can’t WAIT until it arrives!  Just in time for Fall.  (As you can see, I vacillate between the selfless, heartfelt need to help those less fortunate and shallow, rampant consumerism.  Yay!)

And you know what color I’m going to sew it in?  Why, black of course!

I’m particularly unimaginative like that.

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