Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category

Sewing: Penelope’s Blue Macaw Costume


Penelope has an incredible fascination with birds. Specifically Blue Macaws. I think it all stems from the movies Rio and Rio 2 (highly under-rated movies, in my opinion). She’s a wiz at drawing them, she loves reading about them, she’s just obsessed.



Yet for some reason it still surprised me when we walked down the aisles of JoAnn (about beginning of September, maybe August?) and she requested I make her a Blue Macaw costume for Halloween. I mean she was going all goo-goo ga-ga over the sparkly blue Elsa-dress-type fabric. I was expecting something Frozen to head our way. I’m not the biggest fan of that movie; perhaps it’s because so many people raved about the music like it was on-par with Lion King. Uhhh, really guys? Do you have ears? It’s definitely not at that level. It was just standard Disney fare in my opinion. I digress.




I secretly screamed for joy when she wanted to do something completely different than Elsa. So we scoured the aisles and found a sparkly blue spandex (remeniscent of the Mardi Gras parade scene) and this awesome textured chiffon that looks just like bird feathers. And then we found a matching headband with sequins. And matching feathers. And matching leggings.

All that I had to do (and I say “all” like it’s no small feat, but this part took me forever) was to make her a little birdie dress and a cape. It took me a while to come up with the concept. Just having raw fabric at my disposal, I wasn’t sure if I should go more sculptural or more themed. I went more practical with leggings and a dress just because I’m not going to go to such efforts to make her something that she’ll never wear again. The cape will be in the dress-ups forever. The dress may actually get some wear on special occasions. I’m not sure what, but I’m sure Penelope will think of something. She was excited to get a new dress.


I was planning on dressing Felix up as Fix-it-Felix, but he refused. I had a few hand-me-down costumes as well. Still no. Maybe next year. June wore cat ears. We may get more into it next year. But Pen had fun.

And this year was our second annual Pic-or-Treat! We set up the photo booth (this time with full-body format) and gave printed photos out to the trick-or-treaters. Some didn’t want their picture taken (totally understandable – let me go to this random stranger’s house and let them take pictures of minors! YAY! JK.), so we had candy for them. We loved it! I heard from several grateful parents who didn’t have a chance to get pictures of their kids. That made it all worth it.

Now on to Thanksgiving!

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. :)

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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.

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