Are You Ready For A Treasure Hunt?

The Stitch Upon A Time Treasure Hunt Skirt, Options, Sewing Tips, And Upcycling!

I went on a treasure hunt as soon as I was notified that I was chosen to be a pattern tester for the Treasure Hunt Skirt. My husband has recently commented that I don’t really need to make myself anymore clothes, since my closet is pretty full. Well! OK, it may actually be pretty full, but it’s too full of ready to wear clothes that I rarely wear, and not full enough of comfortable, well-fitting clothes that I’ve made myself! So, it was off to treasure hunting!

Throwing away clothes that you don’t like, or that no longer fit is wasteful. I’ve donated many bags of clothes over the years, but I thought it would be more fun to upcycle a few things. The Stitch Upon A Time Treasure Hunt Skirt has SO many options! There’s a pencil skirt with or without a flounce, a hi-low pencil skirt with flounce, an A-line skirt, a hi-low A-line, and a pleated skirt! There are maternity options as well. So, where to start? I thought the hi-low pencil skirt with flounce sounded fun (and sexy), so that was my first make.

I upcycled an old swing dress that had a pretty print, but never got worn because the polyester spandex “scuba” fabric was a little too stiff to drape nicely as a dress. It may not have been flattering as a dress, but wow! It sure made for a fun skirt!

My husband’s reaction to this skirt? “Whoa baby, that looks good!” 🙂

The skirt is figure hugging, but not tight, the hi-low flounce adds a little bit of sexy sass, and is husband approved! 😉

The shaping over the booty is just right.

It makes me feel fancy, and looks great with heels. The hi-low hem is made a bit subtle with the fun flounce. As with most flounces, it’s basically a little circle skirt. You might dread hemming circle skirts, and I guess if your fabric doesn’t fray or curl, you could leave it unhemmed. But that is not how I roll. I like nice finishes, and the quality look you get from a nice hem. Here’s how I make it easy. I serge along the bottom hem of a circle skirt with the fabric right side up, using a 4 thread overlock, with a stitch width of M, a stitch length of 2 to 2.25, and the differential up to 1.3 or 1.5. This slightly “gathers” the edge so that when you turn it under there isn’t any excess fabric to cause lumps or folds in the fabric. I always use plenty of pins and my hem gauge to get perfectly even pretty hems.

You can see the inside of the pretty hem in this stance.

Since this upcycled fabric didn’t have as much recovery as I would have liked, and because I was working with limited fabric, I used a scrap from my stash for the waistband. Although the scrap matched quite well, it had a tendency to curl, badly. Ugh! I also wanted to ensure that if my granddaughter pulled on my skirt while playing, that she didn’t pull it down! So I decided to add elastic to my waistband.

To test my elastic length, I wrapped it around my low waist where the waistband would end up, and pulled it comfortably snug. This means that it felt tight enough to stay up, but not so tight that it gave me a “muffin top”. I made sure to exercise my elastic before testing the length (stretching it out 10-15 times). The length worked out to be 1-1/2″ to 2″ shorter than the suggested waistband length. Different brands and types of elastic have more or less stretch, so I always like trying the elastic on my body before sewing it into my garment. I overlapped the elastic by 1/2″ or so, and zigzagged all around the overlap. I also cut my waistband 1-1/2″ shorter so that the elastic and band would be the same length.

Having the curling fabric and elastic all perfectly aligned with a basting zigzag made is so much easier when I serged the waistband onto the skirt.

Then I folded the waistband over the elastic and ran a wide zigzag (length 2.5, width 3.0) along the raw edge of the waistband. I made sure that the elastic was 1/4″ inside the edge of the fabric so that it would be caught in the zigzag, but not cut when the waistband was serged on the skirt. This gave me a perfectly fitting waistband that will keep my skirt from being pulled down while playing with a rambuctious 3 year old!

With all the options the Treasure Hunt Skirt offers, I thought it would be fun to try a different style. Since the hi-low speaks to me, the A-line hi-low was it. I found an old maxi skirt in my closet and it had enough fabric to make my skirt and a cute top for my granddaughter. The polyester spandex ITY made such a fun, swishy skirt!

The A-line is full enough to flow and drape nicely over the body.

I made a slight change to the waistband on this skirt, by adding 2″ to the height. This made it 1″ taller than the original band. I played with a french tuck to show off the waistband.

Do I look like a flamingo in this pose? The fabric kind of makes me think of a Lilly Pulitzer flamingo print!

From the back the skirt just looks like a simple A-line.

But from the side you can really see the pretty hi-low effect.

Even though it’s a flowy skirt, the hi-low gives it a little bit of a sexy look.

I loved the look so much, that the next day, I made another hi-low A-line skirt. It was another upcycle, this time out of a jersey knit.

I love that the hi-low is shorter in front, but not too short.

I wasn’t sure that I’d like the jersey knit as much as the drapey ITY, but honestly, this might be my favorite skirt!

The cut of this skirt just gives such a pretty drape!

It seriously looks good from every angle!

It’s hair flipping pretty isn’t it?

It sure makes me feel pretty! And isn’t a pattern that flatters your body and makes you feel pretty a treasure in and of itself?

Are you ready to go on a treasure hunt and make yourself a new Treasure Hunt Skirt? It’s such a quick, yet satisfying sew! And with all the options available in one pattern, you can make yourself a variety of fun, comfortable skirts.

The details: These are affiliate links to the Stitch Upon A Time site and the Treasure Hunt Skirt. This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase through my link.  As always, I only give my honest opinion.  After all, it is my blog, which represents me! 🙂

The white top is a Titania Tunic tied in a knot. It’s my favorite way to wear this top! It also looks good with my Legend Leggings blogged here.

Thank you for reading and sharing my love of creating, sewing, patterns, fabric, and making beautiful well-fitting garments! ❤

From Lounge Dress To Sexy Dress

Pattern Hacks And Serger Tips For The GreenStyle Valerie Dress

When the GreenStyle Creations Valerie Dress was first released, I put off buying it. I don’t know why, since 2020 was definitely the year for lounge wear! 🙂 Now that I’ve whipped a couple of them up, I’m really wondering why I waited! It’s a comfortable, flattering dress that can transform from lounge wear, to beach cover-up, to throw-it-on-and-run-to-the-store, to pretty enough to wear to church.

The shaped seamed back gives a flattering, comfortable fit that is so much nicer than a sloppy, boxy T-shirt. It has sleeves ranging from cap to long, but of course I chose to go sleeveless. #floridalife The curved hem (a shirttail hem) gives a more casual look, so I chose that and the scoop neckline for my first make of the pattern.

Talk about comfortable! This immediately became my new favorite nightgown and got worn to bed that evening. And worn around the house the next day while sewing. Surely I’m not the only one to sew in my lounge wear? Be honest, you know you’ve done it! 😉 I chose to bind the neckline and armscyes rather than do bands just because I can.

Use the same length for binding as recommended for your band, but only cut your strip 1″ high. Stitch the short ends together and quarter and pin the binding to the neckline right sides together. When you serge the neck binding on using the normal 3/8″ seam allowance, with your stitch width set at M, your machine will trim 1/8″ off. Press the seam allowance up, and wrap the binding around to the inside, pinning in place. Then top-stitch or cover-stitch it in place. It’s a super easy, yet professional looking (although technically faux) binding finish.

Windy days make taking photos a bit challenging!

People sometimes get nervous about hemming a curved shirttail hem, with memories of past wonky, wrinkly, bunched up hems. But it really isn’t hard if you do a couple of things. First of all, don’t sew with fabric that doesn’t have “recovery”. Generally speaking, this means it contains spandex/Lycra. When you stretch your knit fabric out, it should come back to its original size. If the fabric stays in a stretched out shape, it’s a sign that the fabric is going to grow and hang oddly and unflatteringly. Just don’t waste your time with it. Secondly, the Valerie pattern has a nice gradual curve not sharp turns, which makes it easier.

And here’s the most important tip: serge along the hemline on the right side of your dress, using a 4 thread overlock, stitch width of M, stitch length of 2 to 2 and a quarter, with your differential turned up to 1.3. This does two things. It gives the hem stability so that it won’t stretch out while top or cover-stitching. It also very slightly brings the edge in a bit. Then when you pin the hem in place, you won’t have excess fabric bunching up. You’ll just have a smooth beautifully curved hem.

Smooth curves and no weird bunching, it’s magic I tell you! 🙂

One Valerie dress led to another… as in the very next day I decided I needed another one! To change things up, I did a mash and a hack. Mashing the Valerie with the Staple Tank was a no-brainer, since the Staple Tank is my most used tank pattern. Simply layer your Valerie pattern with your Staple Tank pattern, matching the natural waist markings. Then trace the Staple Tank bodice merging it into the Valerie body .

This photo led to my next tweak, further pattern grading.

A seasoned sewist has learned and understands the importance of grading. But a new sewist is likely to be a bit nervous about the idea. You mean I bought a pattern and it’s not going to magically perfectly fit my unique body and shape? What??? Okay, the possibility exists that it will fit you perfectly well, at least as well as your basic ready-to-wear. But the more you sew, the more demanding you become about getting the best fit possible. And the first step towards that is measuring and grading. Pattern companies include a measurement chart in the tutorial, and it’s important to look at them.

You may be tempted to say well, my bust falls into size x, and my waist and hips are size z, so I’ll just make size y. Depending on the ease of the garment, it may fit. But it will likely be a bit large on your shoulders, and the top or dress may ride up because it’s a little too snug across the hips. Personally, I like when patterns include an upper bust measurement, as well as a full bust measurement. My bust is fuller than average for the frame of my body. So if I choose a pattern size based on my bust measurement, it’s likely to be too wide across my shoulders, which leads to bagginess above the bust, with the excess fabric digging into the front of my armpits. Super uncomfortable and not an attractive look. So I generally trace a smaller size above the bust, grading out to my bust size below the armscye. If my hips measure on the edge of two sizes, I generally grade out to the bigger size to give myself more room for the booty.

Grading to fit your curves leads to a curvy sexy fit.

All of this is pattern dependent of course, but on a more fitted style like the Valerie Dress or Staple Tank, it’s super important to grade. Some people get all fancy using a french curve to grade their patterns. Since I don’t own one, I just draw gently curved lines from one size to the next. Think hourglass curves rather than straight lines when going in or out on sizes.

Using the lower scoop back of the Staple Tank really changes the look of this dress.

You kind of get a hint of my side vent hack in the photo above. Since I was doing the straighter hem on this dress, I thought it would be fun to add some side vents. I marked the sides of the front and back pieces 4″ up from the hem, and made a 3/8 ” snip.

Apparently it’s time to buy a new marking pencil, since I’m working with just a pencil stub! 🙂

Serge from the snip to the hem, along the bottom raw edge, up to the snip on the other side, on both the front and back.

Serging the edges makes it easy to get a clean finished hem.

Then follow the pattern tutorial for assembling the dress. When sewing the side seams together, be sure to fold the lower vent area out of the way when serging off the snipped edge. Tuck your serger tails, and press the vents to either side and cover stitch. Then pin the hem up and coverstitch. You’ll end up with beautifully finished side vents.

I could have made the vents 5 or 6 inches long and still felt comfortable.

I love the look and fit of this hacked, mashed dress! It’s comfortable, and kind of sexy, while still looking classy. In fact I wore it to Mass on Sunday with one of my Sunday Cardigans.

It was hard to stop grinning in a dress that made me feel confident and pretty!

Here’s the takeaway: grade to fit your body; don’t be afraid to mash the Valerie with one of your favorite patterns; side vents are fun; and try my serger tips and tricks. The details: both the emerald and navy dresses were made with rayon spandex purchased at Phee Fabrics.

So, which version should I make next? I’m thinking I need to try the V-neck!

This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase through my link.  As always, I only give my honest opinion.  After all, it is my blog, which represents me! 🙂 Thank you for reading and sharing my love of creating, sewing, patterns, fabric, and making beautiful well-fitting garments! ❤

Follow Me Wrap Dress

And How To Simplify Hemming The Flounce

I couldn’t resist purchasing the Pattern Emporium Follow Me Wrap Dress when it first released, even though I am not a flounce or ruffles kind of girl.  A girly girl, absolutely!  I love dresses and all sorts of womanly things.  But frills, flounces and ruffles?  Not my gig.  The pattern includes a plain wrap version, and four lengths from mini to below knee.  But the flounce version just spoke to me, and I knew a knee length sleeveless dress would be the most worn.

When I traced the pattern in my size, I originally added 2″ to the length of the skirt because a lot of my height is in my legs.  And I wanted it a flattering knee length that could also be worn to church.  Then I tried laying the pattern out.  No matter how hard I tried to Tetris the pattern pieces, I could not make them fit on a two yard cut of fabric.  After debating whether to skip the flounce, and deciding not to, I set the pattern aside for a while.

Most of the knit fabric in my stash is a one or two yard cut, depending upon the weight and intended use of the fabric.  I could have just ordered two and a half yards of fabric, but I prefer to place a larger fabric order to save on shipping costs.  Then the pandemic hit, and I kind of lost the desire to sew for myself.  I made masks for family members, and found sewing joy making clothes for my granddaughters.  It was fun to upcycle unworn clothing and to use some of the older fabric in my stash to make cute toddler and baby clothes.  Finally, it sounded fun to sew something pretty for myself.

So I pulled out the pattern and decided to just go for it as written.  I cut the added length off the traced skirt pieces, and kept the only other pattern alterations.  The seam on the back bodice bugged me, so I folded over the center back seam allowance and cut the piece on the fold instead.  To slightly widen the straps, the low round neckline was traced and cut one size smaller than the rest of the pattern.

Follow Me side

The ingenious design of the wrap means that even when taking a walk along the windy shoreline, I didn’t have to worry about accidental undie exposure.  The wrap crosses over far enough that even when the top panel is lifted by the wind, you still have full frontal coverage.

The dress feels fun and flirty, sexy and yet modest.  You can also increase the modesty factor by using the higher neckline, and adding the cap, short, flounce, or long sleeves.  The below knee length would change the look as well.

Follow Me laugh

The dress was sewn entirely on my serger, and the actual sewing time was much faster than the pinning time! 🙂  It takes more than a minute to pin all that flounce to the bottom of the skirt.  But it is such a fun touch that I definitely plan to use it on the next one.  I also figured out a way to make hemming the flounce simple and easy.

Although you may be tempted to skip hemming, especially when using a high quality knit that doesn’t curl, if I’ve taken the time to sew a nice garment, you can bet that I’m going to finish it off nicely!  Hemming curved skirts, or in this case a very curved flounce can be challenging.  When you pin the hem up, there’s all this extra fabric (due to the curve) and it can get “bunchy” and wrinkly.  But, if you serge along the bottom edge of the hem or flounce, and up the differential feed, it will very neatly, slightly “gather” the edge.  I upped the differential to 1.3 on my machine, which is one click up from N(eutral) on most of the curve.  On the more curved ends, I upped it to 1.5, which is two clicks up.

Follow Me flounce

As you can see on this inside view of the flounce, I used a four-thread overlock stitch.  The darker gray thread is my overlock, and the light gray thread is the looper thread of the coverstitched hem.  On the bottom left where the flounce has a slighter curve the 1.3 differential made slight gathers.  At the center bottom where the curve is sharper, upping the differential to 1.5 kind of gathered it a bit more, while still keeping the fabric smooth and unwrinkled.  All I had to do at that point was take it over to my ironing board and press the hem up into place.  I used a few clips to keep it in place while the fabric cooled, but it was super easy to coverstitch (or topstitch with a single or twin needle if you don’t have a coverstitch machine) at that point.

Once you start playing with a coverstitch, you tend to coverstitch everything.  The binding at the neckline and armscye was coverstitched, the hem was coverstitched, and the seam where the flounce was attached to the skirt got coverstitched.  I did not coverstitch the waist seam, because who wants to draw attention to that area? 😉

Technically, this is my “muslin” or “toile”, as I went straight to my nice nylon/spandex tricot from Phee Fabrics, rather than making a test garment.  But I know that Pattern Emporium patterns are a good fit with only minor tweaking for my body shape.  And sewing with high quality fabric is so much easier than wasting time with flimsy fabric.

I really like my dress, but as with every garment I make, I’d like to perfect it.  I’m thinking of raising the waist seam on the next one by approximately 1″ to hit closer to my natural waist.  I’m also considering going down a size in the bodice, but doing a full bust adjustment to address the wrinkling across the bust and pulling up into the armpit area.  Should I add an inch of length to the skirt to make up for the inch I plan to take out of the bodice?  Do you think I’m on the right track with a smaller size and FBA?

Follow Me back

Because I need more of these easy breezy summer dresses!  Hmmmm, maybe some soft rayon spandex for the next one?

I hope you have found your sewing joy.  But if you’re struggling, take the time to breathe deeply, then dive back in to a project that sounds fun to you. ❤