SONP 2014: Old Navy Re-Fashion

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Old Navy refashion at The Southern Institute

What it the Summer of No Pants series, you might ask? The Summer of No Pants, or SONP, is a summer-long handmade style series. From the first day of summer to the last, we ditch our pants in favor of skirts and dresses. We’re celebrating femininity, personal style, and the handmade life. It started as a sewing competition and, but it has evolved since then. So whether you can sew or not, everybody can wear No Pants!

When Marigold, the brainchild behind SONP, asked me if I’d be a guest blogger for the series I just had to say yes. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I can usually come up with something… I just keep my eyes open and my wheels turning at all times. I was shopping at Old Navy with the kiddos the other week and was cruising the clearance racks when I found this lone striped dress peeking out. I LOVE stripes! I pulled it out only to find that it was an XXL, about 4 sizes to big. BUT lots of fabric to play with, right? So I asked how much? $.99!!! I grabbed it up as fast as I could and decided right then and there that my SONP post would be a re-fashion.

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There’s the original dress up there. I completely forgot to take a pic of me in it to give you an idea of how large it was. It literally fell off of my shoulders. I started thinking about what to make out of the fabric. A skirt? I could just cut it off at the waist and add elastic. Should I just tailor it to fit me and keep the style? Nah. I wanted to do something different. Then it hit me! Selvedge Design’s Foxglove Tank, modified into a dress…that was it! I had just finished my first Foxglove Tank and really liked the way it turned out, so this seemed like a good idea. I used the pattern as is, making only a couple of changes. I took the sides in by about 2 inches on each side and then used the entire length of the original dress, keeping the original hem. The length ended up quite a bit shorter since I was cutting from the middle of the original dress, but I think it turned out quite well, don’t you?

Old Navy Refashion at The Southern Institute
Dress back

I used the sleeves to make the knit strips that face the neckline and arm holes… I love the contrast, even though you can’t see it when the dress is on. For some reason, knowing that it’s there makes me happy.

Old Navy Refashion at The Southern Institute

So join us and ditch those pants! Embrace the dresses and skirts and show off those legs… let ‘em breathe, ladies! Use the hashtag #SONP2014 on Instagram and show us how beautiful you look.

Anna Maria Horner Museum Tunic Tutorial.

Headband by Lori Danelle

Awhile back I posted this tutorial for how to make the Anna Maria Horner Museum Tunic, then for some reason the photos in that post along with many other photos in many other posts vanished! I could not figure out where they went or how to retrieve them. Well, today I solved the puzzle and was able to grab the original posts from my old blogging account to share with you again! Hooray! Here is the tutorial, complete with photos. The text is a bit out of sorts, I apologize, but the tutorial is good, so I hope you can see past the minor issues. :)

Let’s give Anna Maria Horner a hand for coming up with a great dress idea and the loveliest fabrics I’ve seen. As you can see, I made my Museum Tunic in the yellow Square Dance print. I thought it was the most summery of the three and besides, the store was out of the other two colors, so my choice was made very easy for me! When I saw the fabric at the store I realized just how sheer it was. Way too sheer for me to wear by itself. Anna Maria suggests wearing a slip/camisole underneath, but I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t own either one, at least not that fit me. What I decided to do is self line the dress. I chose a very lightweight batiste fabric in a pale blue (they were out of white) and laid it underneath the yellow fabric, doubling the dress. The two practically stuck together making it very easy to cut the pieces as one. Together they were still light and airy, very breathable and comfy to wear. So let’s get on with the tutorial!

Materials needed:

- 1 1/2 panels of Anna Maria’s Square Dance Fabric (the length is about 45″).  Our fabric shop will only sell by the panel, if yours does too you’ll have a little bit leftover.  If you choose to use another fabric your panels should be about 14-15 inches wide.  So you’ll have four panels that are 14-15″ wide by 45″ long.
- elastic thread
-coordinating thread

all inseams 1/2 inch.

This is what one panel of the Square Dance fabric looks like 
(please excuse the terrible lighting, I had to take this at night).



1 1/2 panels looks like this (I’ve marked where you’ll be cutting):


1.  Cut fabric from top to bottom into four panels.  You will end up with four of these:

You can see where I have lined the Square Dance fabric with the liner fabric.

2. Right sides together, sew two panels together along the top edge.

3. Press open seam, turn under seam allowances and press again.  This is kind of tricky… I nearly steamed my fingers off. 


4.  Topstitch along each side of the seam to secure the allowances underneath.  I sewed about 1/8 of an inch over, but don’t do that.  When I looked at the seams, I noticed that all of the turned under edges did not get caught in the stitching, so I just sewed another line another 1/8 of an inch in.  You’ll want to sew your original line about 1/4 over from the seam to catch it all the first time.  Your stitches should be closer to the outside edge of the folds.



5.  Repeat Steps 2, 3, and 4 with the two remaining panels.  You now have the two main pieces of your dress.


6.  Now it’s time to figure out how deep you want the neckline to be.  Lay out your two long panels, right side up and next to each other.  Going from the shoulders seams in, mark where you would like the v-neck to be.  Both the front of the dress and the back of the dress will be a v-neck.  I marked mine about 10.5″ from the shoulder seams.  Anna Maria made her V a couple inches deeper.



7.  Right sides together, and starting from the hem, pin the two panels together, stopping at your marks.  


8.  Sew from the hem to your mark on each side, leaving the neck open.  After you have done this you can throw it over your head to see if you like where the v-neck opening hits.  I decided to take mine up a bit higher.



9.  Now we’re going to do the same thing that we did with the shoulder seams, pressing the front and back seams open, folding them under and topstitching them down.  This time you will continue along the neckline.  Do a check every once in a while to make sure that the stitching is catching the hem underneath.



Now it’s time to create the gathered empire waist.  On her blog, Anna Maria sews the side seams first then sews 1/4″ elastic to the wrong side of the dress to gather the waist.  I have never sewn elastic on this way before, and I’m sure it’s easy, but I didn’t want to risk it with this dress.  I decided to use elastic thread in the bobbin and use shirring instead to gather the waist.  
Here is a good tutorial on using elastic thread.  If you haven’t done this before, go check it out.  It really is extremely simple, but a lot of sewers are afraid of it… don’t be!

10.  BEFORE sewing the side seams, sew across the front panel, in between the large squares and the smaller squares, with elastic thread in the bobbin.  I’ve shown where to sew the first line in the picture below.  Sew about 4 rows (totally depends on how wide you want the waist to be), using the edge of the presser foot as a guide.  Your first row might not look very tightly gathered, but with each row you will see it take shape even more.  




11. Repeat on the back panel.  Finish off the shirring by using your iron on the steam setting.  Steam over the elastic rows and you will see the fabric magically gather more tightly.

12. Right sides together, line up the right side seams and pin from hem up to where you would like the bottom of the arm hole to be.  I stopped 8″ from the shoulder seam.



Sew from the hem up to your mark.  Repeat this step with the left side seams.  I also sewed over the shirred waist again to reinforce the seam at that spot.  Make sure you take the elastic thread out of the bobbin before doing all of this!




13.  Now finish off the side seams just as you have the others, treating the arm holes the same way that you did the neckline.  You’ll topstitch up one side of the seam, around the arm hole, and down the other side of the seam.


14.  Now all that is left is to hem the dress.  Fold the bottom hem under 1/4″ and press.  Fold under 1/4″ again, press, pin, and sew.

You’re done!  Now try that beautiful dress on and get ready for the compliments! 

As I was working on this dress, I happened to look up at my inspiration board and saw this…


I had seen this in the Garnet Hill catalog and wanted to figure out how to make one myself.  As I was sewing the Museum Tunic I realized it is practically the same dress!  I think I may be buying some knit fabric and making another!  That’s the beauty of the Museum Tunic!  I hope you enjoy making this dress… I know I did!

Many thanks to Anna Maria Horner for giving this tutorial her blessing! 
 She is a kind and generous woman!

If you have any questions at all about this tutorial, please feel free to email me!
And if you make the dress, be sure to send me a picture… I’d love to see it!

Essential Sewing Reference Tool: Review and Giveaway!

This giveaway is over.

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Congratulations to Laureen, the winner of the Essential Sewing Reference Giveaway!

When I started sewing for real, about five or six years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about what I was doing. I had never taken a class, never had a mother or grandmother that had taught me any sewing skills, and never really read or seen a book on how to sew. I just found some online tutorials for making simple skirts and pillowcase dresses and started there.

I wish this book had been available to me back then!

Essential Sewing Reference Tool review by www.thesoutherninstitute.com

I’m so honored to know the author of the Essential Sewing Reference Tool, Carla Hegeman Crim, aka The Scientific Seamstress. She was a wonderful addition to the Sew Fab Pattern Sale last fall, and (you didn’t hear it here), but rumor has it she’s returning to the Spring Sale. She is a dynamo in the sewing world and to say that this book is a reference book does not do it justice!

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The Essential Sewing Reference Tool covers everything you need to know about sewing in 130 pages (PDF version). Never sewed a stitch in your life? This is the book for you! You say you’ve been sewing for years? This is for you too! I guarantee you will learn something new! For instance, I’ve been sewing for several years and I have never really paid any attention to thread weight… until now. Lookie there! There are numbers assigned to thread weight. How did I not know this?

Essential Sewing Reference Tool review and giveaway by www.thesoutherninstitute.com

The photography in the Essential Sewing Reference Tool is top-notch; it’s just beautiful. It’s a visual guide as well as a reference guide, which is what makes it such a handy book to have, and trust me, you NEED this book. There is information on ways to finish seam allowances, every hem you can think of (including one I had never even heard of), how to make your own bias tape, and so much more. I particularly find the Garment Making and Sizing Chart sections to be very helpful!

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I can’t say enough great things about this book because if I told you all of the awesome things about it this post would go on forever and you would leave me.

Plus we’d never get around to the giveaway!

That’s right! I’m giving away one copy of the Essential Sewing Reference Tool. Just leave a comment for me telling me one sewing skill you’d like to improve and you’re entered! Don’t forget to include your email address so that I can contact you if you win.

*International winner will receive a PDF copy, Domestic winner will receive print copy.