Thursday, October 15, 2015

Customer Photos: Prince Caspian's Linen Shirt!

Here's a customer photo of the Prince Caspian Linen Shirt I did a while back. It's always wonderful to see pictures of my work being enjoyed by customers, and this is no exception! 

Thanks so much for sending this in, Kathryn!

If you're interested in your own Caspian Linen shirt, please don't fail to drop me a line! 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

DIY China Cabinet Makeover

If there ever was a good time for doing DIY projects inside to beautify your home, fall through winter would be it!

We have a beautiful built-in china cabinet in our farmhouse, and I wanted to spice it up a bit last winter so I lined the back with scrapbook paper. I saw the idea originally in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine, except they did theirs with wallpaper. Seeing the height of the shelves of our cabinet, I figured scrapbook paper would be the right size instead of buying wallpaper.

So, in all, it's a cheap (under $15!) and fun project that takes all of an afternoon to do. You don't need a built-in cabinet for this project, an ordinary china cabinet, shelving unit, or even kitchen cabinets would be perfect for this!

Also, please forgive my cell phone pictures-- I didn't think to use my nice camera!

Materials required: 

-Scrapbook paper (I used two different kinds)*
-Scissors and/or razor
-Modpodge (either gloss or matte) 
-Sponge brush for gluing
-Rag for dusting 

Not shown and optional: 
-Home decor trim*

*Buy way more of these than you'll think you'll need to prevent aggravation later! 

For starters, dust off that shelf and clear it! Nothing's worse than having a dusty glue job... so dust it real good! 

I had to cut and size my pieces to fit correctly. It helps to place the paper against the surface before cutting and gluing just so you can get an eyeball of how it will look. Saves on headaches later! Nota bene: The French country paper I selected ended up needing a bit of piecing that was a bit buggerish when trying to put it all up. Keep this in mind while shopping for your scrapbook paper! 

The next thing after cutting and piecing is to begin the gluing process! I glued each piece of paper then carefully set it in place. After the initial glue had dried, I used the Mod Podge to seal the paper and protect it from the elements. I only papered the back wall, because I figured doing the sides would have been "too busy", as my mother says. 

That's the bottom shelf done! 

...and the middle... I used a different paper than the first shelf to add interest. I ended up liking the second paper better than the first, because it was lighter and didn't look quite as noticeable when I had to piece it. 

By this point, your dining room table will look an absolute mess... but hey, that's okay! It gave me a great opportunity to sort through things and decide what I wanted and didn't want in the cabinet. So organization ties into all this hubbub as well! 

After all your shelves are finished, you have the option of applying a home decor trim to the edges to add interest and definition! I had enough to apply it to the sides, but you can do the rest as well.

I put some doilies down before replacing the dishes, to complete the country cottage look. I think it looks absolutely sweet! 

Have fun arranging your dishes on your newly refinished china cabinet! 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that it gives you some inspiration for projects of your own! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Custom Order: Bridal Cloak

One of my custom orders this summer was extra special. My lovely friend is getting married in November, and she needed a cloak to wear over her bridal gown! She also wanted a dressier cloak for special occasions and such, so we found the perfect fabric and lining for it! 

She selected her clasp from Etsy, and it looks absolutely beautiful next to the blue wool. 

Here's what it looks like completely closed-- the first image was merely to demonstrate the contrast between the silver and the navy. I just love the drape of the fabric! 

The hood is nice and full, allowing ample room when pulled up to look elegant... or elven. Whatever you're in to. 

Cloaks are always in fashion and are a definite head-turning, eye-catching, and WARM garment! If you want to commission me to craft one for your wedding or just as an awesome winter layer, then please don't fail to contact me! There are unlimited color/fabric choices just waiting to be chosen... 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Custom Order: Pink & Lace Dirndl

As mentioned in this post, one of my summer custom orders involved a dirndl for my college's Oktoberfest! A fellow student commissioned me to do this for her, and here's what we came up with! 

I just love the color scheme, the trim/ribbon choices, and the overall pattern! 

I layered a braided trim over a lace trim, creating a unique look for the neckline! 

Overall, I'm super happy with it, and she is too! 

Would you like your own dirndl? Let's talk! 

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Smocking is one of those things I thought I'd never learn because it seemed like one of those majestic seamstress secrets that was so difficult that only a select few could master it. Like, I never thought I could actually become a 

In any case, I was a little apprehensive when I saw that my Prince Caspian Shirt project required some honeycomb smocking on the sleeves. So, I tried looking up a bunch of tutorials on different blogs and websites, but they really didn't help me much... then, this video from The Handmade Dress popped up on the search results:

God bless this woman, her southern accent, and those perky green nails of hers. I swear. She's the Shifu of Smocking. Nothing made sense until I actually saw it being done slowly and carefully... of course, I am a visual learner, so having someone demonstrate a technique is much better than trying to read about it or even peering at pictures. 

So I made my little dots on the fabric, just below the completed sleeve embroidery motif. The smocking, according to the Narniaweb costuming site, sits roughly above the elbow, so the sleeve would acquire a distinctive shape.  

Here is the first row. I was so excited. Like, unbelievably so... I ran downstairs to show my professional-seamstress mother, and she looked at me like, "Well done, my padawan." 

When row two of six was started, I began to see the classic honeycomb shape. I was ecstatic. 

My euphoric state of mind lasted pretty much through the whole project, both sleeves. While I'm still no expert at it (I'm sure my rows are all uneven and ugly and stuff), but I loved doing this smocking... if you happen to want to try it out, please do! It's super easy and way more fun than it looks! I want to try other smocking patterns, so I'll be sure to post my attempts on here. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Custom Order: Prince Caspian Linen Shirt

This summer's all-consuming custom order project, mentioned in this post, was Prince Caspian's linen shirt from the movie Prince Caspian. 

The original and my version! 
My version isn't nearly as detailed as the original, which has insane embroidery all over the place and stuff that I didn't have time or the energy to do. But I think I did manage to capture the overall look of the shirt. For a good eyeball on what the original looks like, here's an amazing website that I used for research, as well as this AWESOME Narnian costuming blog

The shirt is constructed out of linen, with embroidery floss, piping, and buttons to add to the fun. 

It's hard to get the sleeves looking right on a dress form because so much of their shaping depends on an arm being in them. But trust me. They look good! 

So, for the sleeves, I had to learn two new techniques. 

Cartridge pleating, to set the sleeves in properly... 

...and honeycomb smocking, which I've never ever done before. It was insanely fun, by the way. I'll have a post about smocking up soon! 

The collar and neck facing featured piping, a three-button closure, and a tad of embroidery. 

And even though I didn't do all of the embroidery that is visible on the original shirt, I still did a ton! Proof: 

Below the neck facing...

Shirt front... 

Shirt back and sleeve cap... 

Back center embroidery... 

Front and back side embroidery...


So, that was my magnum opus of the summer. Hope you enjoyed taking a look at it! 

So, if you should so desire a Caspian Linen Shirt of your own, please contact me and we'll discuss prices and the level of detail you'd like. I would be most happy to craft this shirt again! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

2015-2016 Academic Year Hiatus -- with a twist!

  From September 2015 until May 2016, I am officially on academic hiatus! A few things to note:

1. For the past two years, I've been just completely shutting down the shop AND this blog, but this year, I've decided to go with a bit of a twist... shut down the shop, of course, but keep the blog updated with (hopefully) weekly or bi-weekly posts. So keep coming back for some great posts, like the results of some summer projects that didn't make it on the blog yet, or tips and tricks for sewing and crafting! 

2. In addition to this, I will be more than happy to discuss custom order designs throughout the school year, but please note that I will not be able to return to my sewing studio until the end of May 2016. In any case, please continue to contact me through my email (address in the "Contact Me" page) or through my Etsy shop! 

3. And last but not least, thank you so much for a great summer of sewing, and I look forward to next year's offerings!  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Italian Finds: Plaid Tirolese Dirndl

   The last of my Tirolese Italian finds is this lovely plaid dirndl. It's quite lovely, though for the sake of Oktoberfest, I'll be adding an apron to jazz things up a bit.

I really like the look and fit. It's very well suited to my figure; thus, I am happy. 

I love how the skirt is flowy and pleated without being frumpy. --cue touristy voice-- "Oh, I can just imagine Heidi running around in this dress..." 

--cue Austrians who make a racket off the tourist dirndl business-- 


Nota bene: The buttons seem to be an after-market thing. Like, somebody got it, didn't like the fact that the front only closed with snaps, and put in their own buttons/button holes. The fact that the button thread colors aren't consistent and there are unusable snaps on the inside of the dress opening kinda betrays this. 

You cheap Austrian dirndl manufacturers. You should have put the buttons in yourself. 


no. just. no. 

The back is really cool, too-- the bodice has the plaid matched and cut on the bias. REALLY cool. 

Plus, velvet ribbon. Tourists dig velvet ribbons down the backs of their dirndls. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Italian Finds: Wool Tirolese Jacket

This is my favorite of the finds from the Tirolese booth-- my beautiful vintage Austrian jacket. There is so much detail and fine craftsmanship packed into this single piece of awesomeness...

For example, just look at it. The bone buttons. The pocket details. The collar awesomeness. 

Here's a closer look at the machine-embroidery on the collar... AND the cool bone buttons. 

Bone. Buttons. 

Austrians be like, 



Actually, no. But seriously. The bone buttons are cool. 

They're even on the back and edge the cuffs. 


Yeah. It's my favorite thing, pretty much, ever.