Posts Tagged ‘lace’

or: THE MOST FABULOUS THING I’VE EVER MADE. probably.

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i’m so happy with it! i can’t wait for an excuse to wear this.

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SO MUCH work & time & materials went into this. i started it the sunday before last, worked on it for four whole days straight, then one of the lenses of my glasses broke & because of all that led to, i couldn’t work on it as much as i liked for the rest of the week. i was away the weekend & then spent the greater part of the past three days on it. & now it’s finally done! i think.

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it was such a massive project, i loved the whole process. i should make things like this more often.

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looking at this picture, i might add some more to that side…

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this whole dress started with a bra. a lovely pink one with black lace i had never worn, would never wear & couldn’t bring myself to get rid of. while i was fanatically getting rid of loads of other crap, i thought why not use it in a scrap dress i would wear? i had so many pink & black scraps i could use for it. so i went through my box of scraps & failures, to-be-reconstructed pile, the debris at the bottom of my sewing box, my accessory boxes, the bag i had just packed for the clothing bin, the suitcase of stuff i was going to sell & this was what i found:

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i didn’t use all of it, but definitely most. despite how fanatically i emptied out my massive closet, there is no way in hell the finished product will fit.
one of the things i unearthed in my box of scraps & failures was half of the beginning of an ill-fitting corset. that & the bra & an atari teenage riot shirt i had forgotten about, formed the base of the bodice. i pinned them to my dressform, which is lovely & alterable & i had already set to my size. to that base i added some matching scraps, decorations & a zipper i had never used, molding it all into shape on my dressform. i almost always work with patterns drawn beforehand & that was quite nice to do for a change. thank you artemis, for introducing me to that other way of making clothes.

here are the only in-progress pictures i made:

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(some of those things i removed, lots of other things were added)

at the front i only added a couple of longer pieces to flow into the skirt at that point. when it was to my satisfaction i took it off my dressform & sewed all the way over the scrappy parts to make it a whole piece. the bra part was later hand-sewn to it. quite a lot in this dress is hand-sewn, mostly in the skirt part.

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then i left the top for what it was & started on the skirt part. that was the most work, of course. for those scrappy skirts you always need more than you think you do.
for the base of it i used cut pieces from an old flared pinstriped dress i made, an old poison industries dress i never wore & a pink petticoat i made with too little tulle. i’m so glad i finally found a use for that poison industries dress. i bought it in an emergency (one of the hottest april days in the history of the netherlands in a full v costume) at the elf fantasy fair four or five years ago & hadn’t worn it since. i started with a full piece of the skirt cut from it, pinning it to the back in an upwards curve. i added some more long scraps of fabric to the front.

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then i cut the petticoat in half & gathered it into about half its size. it made a nice base for the other half of the skirt part. in-between & above i added parts of the pinstriped dress. then it was a long, long process of adding smaller scraps to it all. among those scraps are a black with white print bandanna i bought at some random bazaar in surinam & was a sort of signature of mine throughout my childhood & early teens, a pink polka dotted sheer scarf i got for free with a copy of cosmo girl & i had worn to death in lots of different ways when i still loved pink, the sleeves from that old laughing vampire dress & fabric samples that were too small to use for anything else. at some point i sewed together all the base parts of the skirt to make it one piece. i also added one tier from the poison industries dress to the other side & continued pinning & (hand-)sewing the scraps in co-ordinating layers.

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when i was done with all that, it still seemed like something was missing at the front. so i fell back on one of my old trademarks, a bow. i made it out of the lining of an old hell bunny dress, also bought in an emergency, for a party in 2008, because i had ‘nothing to wear’, & never worn again. the painfully cute skull fabric is from that same dress.

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then i went on to the top of the bodice. i bought some new lace for that, my supply was very low. it was pretty hard to find a good way to sufficiently disguise the origin of the cups, but, after looking through my inspiration folder from gibbous, i think i succeeded quite well.

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besides lace & a ruffled bit of a fabric sample i bought for that old fashion course of mine, i also used half of the top of a tank an aunt gave to me because she didn’t think she’d wear it after all. for one of the straps i used a whole strap cut from my pinstriped dress, with some scraps sewn to it at the front. for the other i first only used the elastic strap attached to the glittery top, but it looked so small & awkward next to the other one. so i added half of a garter belt bought in the wrong size & more of that fabric sample used for the front. it turned out super cute.

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to top it off i added some beads to the front top. they were from a bracelet i got for my sixteenth birthday from some of my favourite people at the time, loved & wore almost every day until it tragically snapped at an arch enemy show some years later. at the back i also added another, open, zipper & one of the strange wheel things i got with my serger & never discovered the use of.
i was planning on adding lots more of those small things, but everything else i added seemed to detract from the perfection of it.

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some suggestions if you want to make your own:
+ gather as many different materials as you can, at least twice as much as you think you’ll need
+ the higher quality your materials are, the higher quality of the end product
+ specifically for the skirt part: the more light, sheer, shimmery materials, the better it will look
+ also for the skirt part: don’t just bunch all the scraps together at the top, work in layers; it’s easiest to start at the bottom with these
+ the more smaller pieces you use, the better
+ for molding on a dressform: keep in mind that you’ll have to remove your clothing from it in one piece, don’t stick your pins in the body
+ preferably pin in a way that you don’t have to remove your pins & they won’t hinder you when sewing
+ more is more.
+ if you’re using clothes that still look good on its own & you’re hesitant to cut them up, just start cutting; staring at them for hours on end is not helpful
+ don’t just do some random shit, it’s better if you have some sort of base/rhythm/recurring theme
+ keep track of your pins! it’s very easy to lose them &/or get them stuck in the patchworky parts
+ use old, existing things in a completely different way
+ surprise yourself
+ feel free to change things you’ve already pinned or even sewn; our first ideas aren’t always the best
+ be patient
+ it’s better not to listen to very energetic/aggressive music when you work on it
+ if it starts to irritate you, step away, take a deep breath, have a cup of tea, go back to it at a better time
+ don’t forget to change to thicker needles for thicker parts
+ if you can’t decide between this way or that way, pin & take pictures of both & decide later
+ serge/zigzag edges where you can; you don’t want something like this falling apart on you, do you?

thanks so much for looking & reading!

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i’ve been thinking of starting a sewing tutorial site/blog thing. since i’m not selling clothes anymore, why not? back in the day people were always bugging me for tutorials anyway. & it seems sort of fun. what do you think? would you be interested in this? & is there anything specific you’d want to know?

i was sewing this week & i thought i’d start with the dress i was working on. this includes in-seam pockets, a blind zipper, flutter sleeves & some general stuff.

the dress in question:

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i love it so much! i think it’s my new favourite. it has all my current loves in it. taffeta, dark purple, good quality lace, large pockets, roomy but not too wide skirt, over the knee length, that sophisticated gothic feel ^-^ perfection. i really love the trim of that taffeta fabric too. i was planning a completely different skirt, but that trim more or less forced me into this ruffled one & it turned out splendidly.

i really took my time with this, made it over the course of three days. i should take my time more often.

on to the walk-through.

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these were the pattern pieces i used. all are half. i drew the one for the bodice from a vintage dress & the other one from a regular t-shirt that fit well. both drawn a very long time ago & used very, very often. the piece on the bottom right is for the pockets, just a large blob drawn around my hand with a flat side for the opening. if you’re going to draw a pattern that you plan on using often, you probably shouldn’t do it on the standard pattern paper. observe the many holes & tears. it’s better to use the kind of paper you wrapped your schoolbooks in.

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the skirt is just a rectangle, no pattern needed. the height of this one was 70 cm, with 1 cm seam allowance, & 2 meters wide.

the first thing i did, after cutting the fabric, was pin & sew the bodice together. TIP OF A LIFETIME: if possible, stick the pins in horizontally, not parallel to the seam, it will be MUCH easier to sew. i am forever thanking my old sewing teacher for that simple, little tip.

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i left the right side of the bodice open, for the zipper. then i serged all the seams & the open sides.

then i went on to the pockets. serged the flat sides where the opening would be separately. then i sewed & serged the pockets together.

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oh, & how i finish off serged seams is by pulling the tail through the last stitches & cutting the remainder off, in case you were wondering. see? all neat & finished.

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once the loose pockets were done, i serged the edges of both skirt parts separately & then pinned them together. i marked where i wanted the pockets & zipper to be. (my pockets were 15 cm down from the waist) those parts i skipped over when sewing the skirt together. i sewed along the top side of the skirt as well, with the largest stitch size & leaving long threads at the ends, for the gathering later. since pockets would come in the seams, i folded those open, as opposed to folding them on one side.

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then sewing the pockets in. this is a little tricky, but probably a lot easier than it looks. first i turned the pockets inside out. or rather, outside in. then i inserted them into the openings in the skirt from the outside. then i pinned the edges together on the inside. then it was just a matter of sewing them together, from top of the pocket to bottom, each side of the openings separately. there is no sewing a pocket like this is one neat round.

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after that all that was left to do was pull the pocket inside. & there you have two perfect in-seam pockets.

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gathering the skirt was next. another reason to love taffeta is how easy it is to gather. it went so smoothly, it was lovely. if you don’t know how to gather fabric, basically you just have to pull one of the loose threads of your seam, while gently pushing your fabric in the other direction. it’s very easy, you’ll know what to do. just be careful that you don’t break the thread.

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i pinned the skirt side-seam to the bodice side-seam & open sides to open sides, then i pinned the rest in-between as i adjusted my gathers. it’s easier & more even that way.

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sewed & serged it & this was what i had so far.

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then the lace yoke. before you read any further, you should know that there is probably an easier, more practical way to do this. this is what i taught myself & what has worked for me, so far. on the basic shirt pattern i arranged the bodice pieces, from the waist up, & traced around the top.

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if i was going to make this specific bodice & stretchy yoke thing more than once, i would have drawn new pattern pieces for the yoke, but since i wasn’t this was easier, for me. the pattern of the unstretchy bodice was slightly wider than of the stretchy shirt, so i drew the difference on the fabric, plus the seam allowance of course.

apparently it’s strange for such an advanced sewer to still draw the seam allowance on the fabric. in sewing class at my super expensive fashion school even the beginners were forbidden to do such a ridiculous, time-consuming thing by a certain teacher. but fuck that, this measuring & drawing the seam allowance makes it so much easier & especially accurate. anyway.

the back was very easy to cut. since the back had a straight line where the yoke would meet the bodice, i simply folded it over on that line, added the seam allowance next to the fold & started cutting on that side.

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at the front folding was also involved, in a more complicated way. first i drew the seam allowance all around, until the line of where the top of the bodice would come. then the folding over. then i pinned the front bodice pattern pieces under the other pattern, measuring how far they had to be under the other pattern from the line i had traced on it earlier. i repeat: there is probably an easier, more practical way to do this. i cut right alongside the bodice pattern pieces & the rest alongside the other pattern where i had drawn the seam allowances.

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then the flutter sleeves. like the skirt, you don’t really need a pattern for this. on the shirt pattern i marked where i wanted them to be.

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i choose two-thirds of the armhole & doubled that length for extra flutter. on a folded piece of fabric i drew that length & at the folded part 10 cm for width & rounded that down to the end. this is what my doubled sleeve looked like:

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i also cut a long rectangular piece for a finishing band around the neckline. it was about 2 cm shorter than the circumference of the neckline & 4 cm wide, with seam allowances.

sewed & serged the front & back together, again leaving the right side open for the zipper. i also topstitched at the shoulder seams, folding them to the back & sewing over from the top to keep them neatly in place.

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then i did the band around the neckline, sewing it together, folding it in half & then pinned & sewed & serged it to the neckline. i also topstitched the seams here, facing inside.

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(i know the lace & black make it hard to see what i actually did there)

then i made little cuts in the fabric to mark the middle of the sleeves & where they had to end in the armholes.

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gathering of the sleeves followed. again the pinning in place, first the middle & edges, & then sewing & serging. when i do flutter sleeves i just fold the open part of the armhole along with the seam of the sleeves & sew that down.

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now, sewing the yoke to the bodice. the back is a straight line, no challenge there, but the front. the front could take a couple of tries to get right. like with gathering, first i pinned the middle & the sides together, then the trickier curves.

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you may want to loosely stitch it together by hand instead of pinning. if you’re going to do it the same way as me, don’t panic if you can’t get it perfectly smooth & fitted in the middle part where the curves meet. it will bunch. the yoke might seem too big, but it’s not. usually it’ll be fine when you sew it. after i sewed & stitched them together, i also topstitched the seam down.

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all that was left to do then was insert the zipper. i hadn’t put a lot of thought in the zipper, i thought, whatever, i’ll take one from that dress i never wear. only at this point did i see it was too short for the dress i was working on. & the fabric stores were already closed. it was very frustrating at that moment, heh. i just wanted it finished. & put the tutorial up that day. this was on monday. i don’t know where i got the patience to wait until now.

anyway. when i had bought i new zipper, i loosely sewed it to the fabric from the side that would come inside, lining up the edges of the zipper and fabric. i sewed it that way until the end. as you can see, i chose to use a slightly longer zipper than required. usually i find that very handy.

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then i sewed it properly by machine with a zipper foot. when you sew on an blind zipper, you have to roll the teeth back (best to do this right in front of the foot, in the picture i only had my hand so far up front because it was easier to show what i meant) & preferably stitch right on the folded line you’ll see there. don’t expect it to go exactly right the first time. it’s very easy to make a few slips or stitch too near the teeth. i had to stitch the whole length twice on one side & three on the other before my zipper was well & truly blind.

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oh, & for the end on the second side, what i did was stop sewing a cm or two before the end, closed the zipper & then did the last bit by hand. while with a longer zipper it is possible to sew it all the way to the end without a zipper closure getting in your way, it is also very possible to trap your zipper closure down there. a couple of times i’ve managed to pull it out again, but generally i like to avoid that. another thing you could do is leave just a few millimeters open at the end, then you could easily pull through the closure, but that would also leave a small hole. that’s not so terrible, especially with a skirt like this, but i also rather avoided that.

as the finishing touch i sewed on a little black ribbon bow at the bust.

end of walk-through!

thank you so much if you read all those almost 2000 words! or even a part of it. i hope you learned something new. let me know if you want me to do more of these or if something was unclear. seriously, if something was unclear, please tell me. i won’t be offended. with all the things i was translating literally from dutch, it’s probable.

comments on the dress itself are also appreciated, maybe that’s all you wanted to see & you don’t care for sewing yourself. thanks either way (:

& all that drama.
anyway, i was purging my closet of the massive amount of clothes i’ve outgrown stylistically recently & with all that cleared space & room to improve my wardrobe, i was inspired to sew again (: after almost half a year! my sewing machines were so dusty. where does time go?

first in an upcoming sewing spree is a reconstructed dress.

before:

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that classic laughing vampire dress that so many of us european goths owned or considered owning at some point. as much as i loved it, i didn’t wear it more than once. which is probably a good thing.

even now it was actually pretty hard to cut up. i kept thinking what a shame it would be to waste such a pretty dress. & what to DO with it? i was questioning all my ideas for hours.

after:

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but in the end it became much cuter & wearable on a daily basis. i love it more now ^-^ it’s so much lighter & more practical. especially lighter! the clowns who designed it obviously didn’t consider how the massive weight of such a large amount of fabric that heavy would affect the shape of the dress. if i had worn it more often it would probably have stretched completely out of proportion. but now it’s nice & light. i added elastic on the inside too, because it still stretched too much for my liking at the waistline.

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the fabric really isn’t captured very well. it looks SO MUCH better with the naked eye. i love that fabric. i could really use more of it in my wardrobe.

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[subtle plug] & since you’re interested in the clothes i make, a lot of what was purged from my closet is what i made myself, in excellent condition & for sale at a super low price. also some clothing from other diy designers & some odd vintage. i put all the good stuff in an album on my facebook page thing. take a gander! you can e-mail (maraleopard [at] gmail [dot] com) me if you see anything you want. everything that’s not sold before may 16th is going in the charity clothing bins, so bid now or forever hold your peace. [/subtle plug]

thanks for looking & reading & your continued support! have a fabulous day/night, wherever you are.

ps. i didn’t mean that bidding literally. i don’t like haggling over prices.

been in a bit of a sewing frenzy this week of vacation. i was totally supposed to do homework much of those hours of creating. oh, well. i did manage to combine both of those in this dress. i was irresponsibly going to make it anyway, but then i thought that if i tweaked my original vague idea a bit to make it more 20’s (dropped waist, knee length skirt part) it would not only be cuter, but could also be used for school (:
for culture studies we have to make a ‘modern impression’ of basically every different period since the ancient greek. this can consist of a drawing, related pictures of modern clothes, fabric swatches, even a whole self-made piece of clothing, as long as it’s related to that period. if we do make clothing, we also have to show our process. so i took pictures in-between & thought you might be interested to see that too.

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i hadn’t made a dress like this before, so i had to draw a new pattern. at school i learned to draw fitted dress patterns in your chosen measurements from scratch. i could already draw my own patterns of course, but i had always worked from out something existing.

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then i gathered materials, determined what would look good with the main fabric. in the end i nixed the ribbon.

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started sewing with the gussets.

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after i had put together the top part i checked on my dressform if the fit was right.

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continued sewing. here the lining.

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serged.

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gathered the skirt part after i had sewn the layers together. then i just went on sewing without pictures.

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last fit check.

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& finished it all off. it only doesn’t have a zipper yet, i forgot to buy that. hope you enjoyed the little insight in my process!
i really love how it turned out <(^-^)> i made it for my shop, but i kind of really want to keep it.

some detail shots:

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i also made a pair of bloomers since my last post. i didn’t really have anything specific for it in mind. i’ll probably just keep it. it would look lovely with my gibbous dress. it would also add a bit of variety to my almost strictly black/pink/purple/red/white wardrobe. jesus christ, i’m sick of all that neon pink. which fills about three quarters of my closet.
anyway.

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just to show the detail on the heart:

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i sort of machine embroidered a spiderweb on it. it was a hell of a job.

thanks for looking!

i’m so glad i have vacation this week. now i can sew again! for anything other than that stupid sewing techniques class! i’m trying to make as much things as possible from materials i already have for my shop. it’s been so long since i added anything new.

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anyway, the theme for this month (craftanon team) is stripes. & this is what i came up with, from what i already have. it took absurdly long to make. & i did it all wrong twice. i’m so out of it, it’s ridiculous. but i think it turned out alright. eventually.

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more stripes! this one went very smoothly, until the end. somehow the bottom became wayyy too wide. & i had to put in a new, smaller band of that awesome hearts fabric i have very little of. i love it though.

will be listed soon-ish.

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just finished it! i was kind of in a hurry to reconstruct this, because i wanted to go to another show of them today in antwerp & wear it. it would look so lovely with my smarmy scrap skirt. but i’m not going after all & now it’ll probably just sit in my closet for a while. anyhow, i really like how this turned out :] i wanted to make a dress at first, but i didn’t have enough fabric for anything good. so i made this! i haven’t made a top like this in a long time. i learned to make that contour bust part at what the craft.

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it’s kind of inspired by wearydrearies, maybe you can tell. if you disregard the bright colours & overall polished look :p

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in case you were wondering, i did not make that flower, only added the heart button to it. it came with a necklace i bought & i didn’t really use it & thought it would look much better on this.

thanks for looking! feel free to comment! i’ve noticed an alarming decrease in comments the past week or two.

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i made this yesterday. i love it so very much. i could wear it every day. it’s so cute & fruity & comfortable & flattering & has CANCER BATS on it <(^-^)> i usually don’t model clothes i don’t plan to sell myself, but my dressform really wouldn’t do this dress justice.

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this is the first empire-waisted dress i’ve ever made out of a t-shirt. to me, it always seemed like such an obvious way to reconstruct a big ol’ t-shirt, which is why i always refused to do it. & also because these are very easy to get wrong. aesthetically, i mean. but then i saw this amazing hooded one & was inspired.

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i bought that t-shirt at a cancer bats show on tuesday. i loved the colours of it. unfortunately i bought a medium (note to self: when planning to reconstruct it, ALWAYS buy the largest) & it didn’t quite have enough fabric in it for the part above the empire waist. that part is made out of four sleeves! two from other t-shirt remnants. it was a very tight fit, but i think it turned out well. & at the front i was able to use the sleeve parts to my advantage :]

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i didn’t have to buy anything new to make this dress, which was awesome. have i mentioned how much i love it?

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thanks for looking!