Archive for the ‘style’ Category

Sewing Style: Mini Me

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This girl may be the spitting image of Chris, but she’s mini me. Her love for crafting, art, music and fashion are definitely me. I love that. When it comes to school work, she’s also a mini-me: a free spirited day-dreamer.


I had just enough fabric left over from my color-blocked shift dress that I thought I would make her a matching skirt. Then she suddenly grew too tall for the black shirt you see above.


Instead of giving it away or saving it for June, I repurposed it as the top of her new color-blocked dress. Now we really can be twins! Also, I don’t have to keep nagging for her to pull up her skirt and down her shirt so that the two ends meet. The below-the-knee length on the dress will give her a lot of versatility. She’s growing like a weed.  melissaesplin-penelope-mommy-daughter-dress-3

As it stands, this is her go-to Sunday dress along with a sea-foam sequin number I bought for my sister’s wedding. Proud mama moment right there when I don’t have to nag her to wear the things I’ve made for her. It certainly makes me want to do more (and more to come, her halloween costume this year is epic).



This girl cracks me up. She styled herself, put on the lipstick and mascara herself and begged me for the photo shoot. She got a bit sheepish when her friends were near the playground, she didn’t want them to see her lipstick. It breaks my heart when I see the self-consciousness come to play. I hope she can hold off just a little longer before she cares what people think.

Outfit details:

  • headband: Target
  • top: H&M, repurposed
  • dress: fabric from Mood
  • shoes: c/o My Cents of Style (here)
  • Lipstick: ELF matte scarlet red

Sewing Style: Split & Sparkle Kimono

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OMG. Prior calligraphy student Marilenne sent me a load of beaded collars she bought from the Philippines and I couldn’t wait to get sewing with them. What was likely supposed to be a beaded waist detail ended up being a popped collar of sorts for this lightweight linen kimono I sewed for myself.

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The fabric is a lightweight linen I got from Miriam (turns out she bought it from Walmart – seriously sometimes they have fabulous fashion fabrics!). It’s breezy, which is perfect for the long hem, so it catches in the wind and looks freaking awesome. Paired with the black faux leather leggings, I’m channeling Trinity over here (minus the shiny leather).

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Sewing the beaded collar wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I ended up relying heavily on my zipper foot and it worked like a champ.

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Pattern-wise, I went off Leanne’s Kimono tutorial. I made some adjustments from the previous iteration, but I ended up making the sleeves too tight. So small, that they didn’t fit my shoulders (oops). I ended up unpicking the side seams and adding a gusset in the armpit to accommodate. Worked like a charm. Putting in a gusset wasn’t nearly as tricky as I thought it would be. The trickiest part of the whole thing was unpicking the serger seams (which isn’t so bad with this tutorial).

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I love how this blazer/kimono/blazono works with black leggings. I’d like to try it with a floor length chiffon skirt (black or marbled grey?). I’ve been thinking about black tie attire lately. I’d like to have a go-to outfit for fancy stuff. So far I don’t have anything like that.

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Sewing Style: Floral Two-toned Shift Dress

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I live in this dress. It’s comfortable enough to throw on and chase the kids all day, but it’s nice enough for a date night out.

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I originally bought this fabric (Mood!) like 3 years ago on a girls’ weekend to L.A. fabric district. We each bought a yard of this gorgeous fabric to see what we would do with it. I was so nervous to cut into the fabric, I ended up tying it around my waist and joking with a “no sew” tutorial. To see what everyone else did with the fabric, click here.

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Just before leaving for Hawaii back in May, I decided it was time to do something about that yard. I didn’t have enough yardage to make a dress knee length, so I got creative and color blocked the top to give me a little extra room at the hem. I didn’t want it to look like I just pieced a top and a bottom there. I sliced and diced Megan Nielsen’s Briar tee pattern. I raised the neckline a touch and pieced the front and back. Piecing isn’t as hard as you might think. Especially if it’s in straight lines. It’s easiest if you have some tracing paper. I like to use large sheets of tracing paper from a roll (you can get them in 24″, 36″ and 48″ widths). See below for the full tutorial.

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We had so fun at the photo shoot that I forgot to get a straight on back shot of the dress so here’s one flat from my studio.

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Sewing the ‘v’ together was a little tricky since I didn’t want any puckering to occur (go slow!), but I tell you, using two knit fabrics for piecing like this is a lot easier than piecing two woven fabrics together. There’s a lot more wiggle room. Literally.

how to color block-01

First things first, you’ll need:

For this, I used a pattern piece from the Briar Sweater pattern. This technique works on any pattern piece.


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Draw a line where you want your color blocking to happen. Drawing directly on the flat pattern how you want the pattern piece to look and where you want the seam to fall.

Then slip the pattern piece under the tracing paper and trace each section carefully. Transfer markings and information.

THEN ADD SEAM ALLOWANCE. You’ll add the same seam allowance to your color blocking lines as the pattern calls for. Write those seam allowances on the pattern pieces.

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Cut your fabric pieces out and align right sides together from the top corner to the middle. Pin at the pivot point.

Sew up to the pivot point and release your presser foot while keeping the needle in the fabric. Align the remaining fabric pieces and pin. Continue your line.

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Here’s the key: press your seam and top stitch the seam allowance to that side. I chose to stitch the seam allowance pointing upwards because of the fabric choices it just looked better.


Now sew your pieces together as directed in the sewing pattern. DONE!

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View More: details:

  • hat and bracelets: c/o Tai Pan Trading
  • necklace: handmade (tutorial)
  • dress: handmade by me! using Briar tee pattern
  • shoes: Toms
*This tutorial is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without my consent. Altering any files is NOT ALLOWED. If you would like to use this freebie for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!

Sponsored Style: Striped Tunic Shift Dress

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This post is sponsored by Sven Clogs. Original hand-crafted clogs since 1974. Clogs made-to-order with premium styles and materials for man, woman and child.

Connect with Svens Clogs on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram!

After I made Penelope’s sweet summer romper, I knew I needed to make a matching look. I mean, seriously. Gold clogs and red striped fabric? YES. So much yes.

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All images by Pierson Photo Company

I’ve got a few of these dresses in my closet now, I can’t stop making them. Can we talk about how awesome shift dresses are?! I can have a giant food baby in there and no one would ever know. And yes. There was a food baby in there. No real baby.

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To switch up the style just a touch, I added a tunic-style hem with a slit on the sides and a high-low hem. The blunt high-low hem changes the look from any other shift dresses out there. I feel like it adds a bit of edginess in there. Maybe a slight ’90s vibe? I’ve been crushing on the ’90s hard core lately.

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Creepy skull!! Hahah! I love that. This is one of the few stores I’ve been to lately that didn’t have Christmas Decor up already. Sheesh. It’s still September. I’m not sure I want to think about Halloween quite yet!

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This dress is perfect for Summer, but I’ve been layering it with blazers and jackets to transition to fall. I think the black leather warms it up for the cooler season that’s approaching.

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Let’s talk a little about the sewing process! Here’s what I did:

  • Used Megan Nielsen’s Briar Tee as a base
  • Raised the neckline
  • Lengthened the hem to a dress
  • Shortened sleeves
  • created a high-low hem

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Creating a split hem isn’t as hard as one might think. It’s a little trickier when serging the side seams, but not impossible at all. Here’s how to do it with a serger:

  • Serge the side seams before putting the layers together (if it’s woven, if it’s a non-fraying knit, no need for this step).
  • Sew the seams about 5″ shy of the desired slit spot.
  • Switch to a regular sewing machine, with a straight stitch sew all the way to the slit line (make markings on both sides for consistency).
  • Fold the seam allowance back in on itself and sew a top stitch around the slit. I do up over and down on one slit in one go.
  • Hem front and back as desired.

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If you’ve been nervous about split hems like this, don’t be! They’re super easy! Let me know if you need illustrations for the above instructions. :)

Outfit details:

Let me just say, I absolutely love these clogs. They fit perfectly. I’m wearing them constantly. They’re the perfect momiform shoes: they’re easy to chase kids in, they’re comfortable all day and they look so cute! I’m a huge, huge fan. Seriously, I can’t seem to get enough.

Sewing Style: Floral Button-Up

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This outfit has been in the queue of things to blog for MONTHS. I got the skirt just in the nick time for Inspired Retreat. It traveled marvelously well and proved to be just the perfect statement piece I needed for a dinner there.

The top was something I sewed in May for Silhouette Summit. There’s something about going out of town that urges me to sew like crazy!

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I had this fabric in my stash from an excursion to the fabric district years ago. I thought I would just make something for Penelope with it, but it just sat. And I never made anything for her. The bright, tropical print was screaming at me the second I purchased my flight to Hawaii, so I did something about it.

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I made this button up without a collar. Basically using Grainline’s Scout Tee, extending the middle front and adding buttons. It was easy enough. I sort of wish I would have made a collar for it. It wasn’t the easiest fabric to work with, but I think a collar would have looked nice.

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It was part laziness, part strategic planning that I opted for only 4 buttons in the front. I tie the front of most of my button-ups anyway, so I just omitted them for that very reason. Tying up the excess like that makes for a sleeker line with the skirt since there’s no bulk of a shirt underneath the skirt. I know. I’m genius. It’s not a matter of style, but a matter of comfort in this case. I don’t like bulk.
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It was an easy enough sew, taking me just under 2 hours to make it happen from beginning to end. I feel a little Miami granny-ish with the florals, but paired with the metallic knife pleats I just own the look.

Outfit details

I was stoked to find Pleated Empire is local to Draper! I’m a huge fan of the rebel skirt (featured above) and their Floral Blazer and Mesh Ribbon Skirt.

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