Saturday, 30 March 2013

DIY: Retro sleeveless blouse with ruffles

Happy Easter guys!

I hope you are all having a lovely Easter weekend, whether you are celebrating or not. I’m fighting the last of a persistent cold/flu/pain in the ass (I know, every other time I post I am sick, I really have no idea what’s wrong with my immune system this winter) and therefore not getting up to all the stuff I was hoping to. But still enjoying the time off from work, watching movies, editing photos, spending time with Josh and eating too much sweets.

A couple of weeks ago I was shopping in my charity shop mecca and found this amazing vintage (80s) pink cotton shirt. It had a high neck with ruffles and was a couple sizes too large. I fell hard and immediately. This was DIY material extraordinaire.

You know I have a thing for sleeveless blouses. And just like my last sleeveless blouse was inspired by Mad Men, so was this. You see, a while back I was catching up with the fifth season.  I spent a Saturday sewing, watching Mad Men and drinking prosecco until the wee hours. It sounds superdorky. And it was. But also magnificent for the soul. And it left me with the craving to make another sleeveless blouse.

Sidenote: I should have ironed the shirt before taking the before photo. 

You’ll remember I posted some inspiration pictures on the topic of ruffles. As the shirt I had picked up already had ruffles it felt like a given that ruffles instead of sleeves would be the DIY.

And it turned out to be the perfect Easter blouse.


  • Oversized shirt
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Measuring tape/ruler
  • Shirt that fits to model on
  • Not pictured: marker pen
  • Not pictured: iron

And here's the how to:
Remove the sleeves. If the shirt is too large just cut them off. If the size is right, use a seam ripper so you don't accidentally remove too much fabric.

Lay over the blouse you are modelling on. Make sure the collars and buttons are aligned. Pin the two blouses together in a few places so they don't move.

If you need to alter the size on yours, make some markings.
Marking 1: where the armholes end (see pic to the left).
Marking 2: How much you need to cut off all around. This will be about 1.5 cm (seam allowance) from the edges of the model blouse. If you are not sure this will be enough, be conservative and leave more. Remember it’s always easier to cut off more later if you removed too little fabric than try to fix it if you cut off too much. J

Cut where the markings show.

Turn the blouse inside out, pin the front and back fabrics on each side together and sew with a straight stitch. Zig zag the edges so the fabric doesn't fray. Press flat with an iron.

Now arm holes. Start by ziz zagging all the way around both so the fabric doesn't fray. Then measure around one armhole to know how long the ruffle needs to be.

And finally some ruffles. The fabric for this will come from the cut off sleeves. Each sleeve won't be long enough to get the needed length. Soo, do the following:

Iron the cut off sleeves so you have a clear folding line. From the folding line measure out the depth of the ruffle + seam allowance. I went for 3.5 cm ruffle + 1 cm seam allowance = 4.5 cm in total. Cut a strip with this height. From the left overs, fold again and cut off another folded long strip with same height. Sew the two strips together so you have a really long one. Zig zag the open long ends together.

Repeat with the other sleeve.

Now on to ruffling. Rather than me adding 15 steps to this how-to to show how to make ruffles, check out this excellent video.
I pressed my ruffles flat with a hot iron after to get a "folded" look to match what the blouse already had around the neckline.

Finally, attach the ruffles to the armholes. All around each armhole, fold in 1.5 cm of fabric or whatever seam allowance you measured out and fasten the ruffles with pins. At the end of each side of the ruffle strip, angle in (see photo above) for a nice look.

Using a straight stitch, sew all the way around. Iron flat.

And what goes better with pastel pink over Easter than chickens?

Sunday, 24 March 2013

DIY: Studded card holders

Many of my DIYs are born out of necessity. E.g. I fell in love with second hand piece but it's too large --> DIY. Or stained my favourite blouse --> DIY. You get the gist. A while ago I lost my Oyster card and with it the card holder. I bought a new Oyster card but didn't get around to getting a new holder for it. Luckily I had some dusty pink fake leather and silver studs. The inspiration came from Valentino.

(Sidenote: I don't live in Bath or London. Just travelling through now and then.)

This is such a tea time craft - a cup of tea, some studs and glue and you'll be welcoming those rainy Sunday afternoons with open arms.

And on to what's needed:

  • Fake leather or other sturdy material
  • Studs
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pen
  • Pliers
  • Exacto knife or something similarly sharp
  • Some serious industrial strength glue, E-6000 is the crème de la crème of craft glues
  • Not pictured, but bobby pins are hugely helpful

Fold the material and measure and mark the needed width and depth. Make sure to leave some room for glueing the sides.

Press the prongs of a stud into the material so it leaves marks. Use the exacto knife to make holes through the marks. (If using an exacto knife, make sure to be careful to not make the holes too large.) This will help fitting the prongs of the stud through neatly.

Place studs wherever you want them. Be creative and make a studded bow/flower/whatever and glue on. If placing studs vertically or horizontally, use the ruler and pen to space evenly. With the pliers, close the prongs.

Glue the sides, fold and use some bobby pins to add pressure until the glue dries.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

DIY: Silky maxi skirt

The beauty of being at the beginning of a year is that any goal feels achievable. (Ok, I admit, I wrote this post ages ago, but didn't get around to posting until now. So if the factual accuracy is a bit weak, be forgiving.) After all, there are still 9+ months to accomplish it! One of the things I want to achieve and do more of in 2013 is to sew things from scratch.

I used to sew looooads from scratch but haven't done it for years so am really rusty. Therefore, something really simple would be the perfect start. I found the inspiration in Celine's SS collection. The straight and elegant cuts that characterise the label makes great inspiration for beginner's sewing projects.

Something dark, silky in a simple silhouette - perfect! I decided on a skirt.

To feel like spring I must have some florals, and luckily I found a dark silky material with gorgeous large floral patterns. No thinking twice!

The basic recipe for make a simple maxi skirt is to sew a long tube, put in an elastic at the top and hem the bottom.

With a few alternations you can customise the look and put your own twist on it. I'm going for a narrow high-waisted maxi skirt with slits along the sides that can double as a midi skirt with a big side bow.

Sounds complicated? It couldn't be easier!

  • Fabric
  • Elastic
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine

1. First things first, do your measurements. The height of the skirt and the width.
The height: from your feet to your waist. Plus a couple cm at bottom for hem and same for top.
The width: enough to do all the way around you and still have space to breathe. The wider, the more volume the skirt will have. 

2. Cut two rectangles with these measurements. Starting at the top, sew together the the sides of the rectangles. Stop where you want your side slits to begin.

3. Now the waistband. Follow the tutorial I provided a couple months back. To get a wide waist, use a wide elastic. I had none, so made two "tunnels" and used two elastics.

Starting to look like a skirt now! Next step: side slits.

4. On each side of each rectangle of fabric, fold in twice and iron so the fabric stays in place. 

5. Sew with a straight stitch from bottom until you reach your stitching from step 3.

6. Turn right side up and sew a few horizonal stitches to join together the vertical ones on your slits. Will look prettier this way.

7. Finally, do the bottom hem.

To make an eco version, used recycled or thrifted fabric. Or alter a maxi skirt you already have.

Result photos by Josh.