Buy or DIY: a polka dot maxi wrap dress 

I went to a wedding recently and all the girls my age were wearing maxi dresses. Seriously, every last one of them. Which is something I could definitely get on board with. I mean, think about it. You can still get all dressed up but don’t have to shave your legs. And then you are have all this extra material to twirl and hold in your hands while you’re on the dance floor (because I seriously never know what to do with my hands). So I knew since I had an event coming up, I should search around for the perfect new maxi dress.  I searched online and found this: I was in love! But then I saw the price was $220 and I was like, nope. The timing’s just not right for us… maybe if we’d met at a different point in our lives… it’s not you it’s me… blah, blah. So I tabled the idea of buying a new dress and decided to make my own dress, inspired by this one I’d fallen in love with online. And I knew just what sewing pattern would do the trick…If you follow my blog you’ll remember it was only recently that I tested the Highlands Wrap dress by Allie Olson. So I already had the pattern fresh in my mind and knew I could finish it in time. I also knew that since the rehearsal dinner would be outdoors by the water, I should account for the wind and make a few changes to the pattern. I ended up omitting the side slits for that reason and also added an extra snap closure inside.  The hardest part was trying to find fabric. I knew I really wanted a rayon or a voile to get that drapey, flowy, come-hither-and-dance-with-me look. In fact, my original idea was to try and score some of Sew Caroline’s voile from her Gleeful collection like she did for {this} dress.  But it was all sold out in my local store and online. I only found a few Etsy shops still carrying it but in limited yardage. Then, to my luck, I found {this} fabric on Fabric.com for only $5.98 a yard! And the quality is surprisingly pretty good! Very light weight with a great drape, but not too cheap or see through. Buy or DIY: A Maxi Wrap Dress


So there you have it. In the case of the flowy, maxi length, navy blue polka dot dress, I think it was a much better choice to DIY than to buy. I am still loving this pattern and have plans to hack my next one into a wrap skirt. Now only if I could find the right fabric…

xxoo Priscilla

a handmade J Crew inspired ruffle tee

I spent a few days cleaning out my closet last week and soon realized that I had almost twenty casual knit shirts that were either too tight, too short, or too old. It appears the only tee shirts that I could find that actually fit were commemorating a 5K that I may or may not have ran in years ago. I was in desperate need of some plain, solid tees.  But luckily, there are a few things that I keep in the house at all times: granola, avocados, bug spray, quarters for the parking meter, and 3 yards of solid white knit fabric. So when I saw this j crew ruffle shirt online, I decided rather than pouring more money into online shopping, that I could whip up a handmade version using a yard or two of my white knit. Half way into this creation, I decided to simply add a tiny peplum to create my “ruffle” look. It is a much more subtle ruffle than the inspiration top from J Crew but I figured with my hoola hoopin’ hips, I didn’t need to bring too much more attention to that general area. And let’s be honest: it was late and I was deep into a Netflix binge sesh of Parks and Recreation. I also sewed the peplum piece rights sides together, hiding my seams, but I think if I had sewed it WRONG sides together, exposing my seam allowance, I could have achieved J Crew’s ruffle look a little better. But alas I created what I wanted. A comfortable, wearable, plain white tee.   The Details:
Sewing Pattern: Lark Tee by Grainline Studio (pdf or paper version found on Indiesew.com) I sewed a size 10 and did not have to add extra length to the bodice. I made the crew neck with the cap sleeve.

Alterations: added a peplum piece that was 4 inches in height and 1.5x the length of the shirt. Folded in half and gathered. Then added to the bottom of the hem line to create a “ruffle”.

Fabric Used: 1.25 yards of ponte de roma knit from Girl Charlee. I love the feel of ponte knit. Its a little heavier than a jersey but easy to work with and still has a nice drape and stretch.
This shirt will be my first wear on my “Me Made May” quest, where I will vow to wear at least one handmade garment every day in the month of May. I will not be blogging about all of my wears each day, but you can follow along on my Insta stories (@priscillatbrown) and see if I can make it all 31 days this month! xxoo Priscilla

a DIY wrap dress + a windy morning

Every so often I see these gorgeous, flowy, maxi dresses online that make all my Hawaii beach dreams come true. And then I remember that I quit my job to be a stay at home mom and therefore these $200 designer maxi dresses will just have to live in my Pinterest boards forever.  But luckily for me, there’s a new sewing pattern in town: the Highland Wrap Dress. I was beyond excited when Allie Olson asked me to help test this new pattern earlier this year. I love testing new patterns and getting the opportunity to watch a pattern come to life. And this has been my favorite to date! I’ve been waiting patiently for launch day to share photos of this dress. So here we go:

The best part of this pattern (besides that I’ve yet to see anything like it out there in the patten world) is that I can see myself making countless variations: a midi length, sleeveless, cap sleeve, a chambray version, a maxi skirt hack, and on and on and on… Check out indiesew.com if you’re interested in purchasing this PDF pattern for yourself. 
The day we took these photos, we had such a busy weekend planned. But as a tester I wanted to submit photos of my finished garment by the end of the day. So we drove 3 minutes down the road to Sunrise park early on a Saturday morning. We hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet, Liam was still in his pajamas, and the wind was coming off the harbor so fast. But as I was waking around thinking the wind was going to ruin the photo shoot, Will looks up from behind the camera and says “I think this is the best thing you’ve ever sewn.” And he might just be right. I’m almost certain this dress is asking to be worn barefooted on a beach somewhere. 

The fabric is a lightweight rayon challis from Joann’s. I can’t seem to find it online but the local Charleston store had a large bolt in stock. That’s all for now.  If you’re over seeing photos of me in wrap dresses than, spoiler alert: I just ordered some fabric for my second Highland Wrap dress. You’ve been warned.  

xx Priscilla 

diy bell sleeve tutorial

IMG_5782.JPGI just recently realized that while I was off being pregnant and breast feeding for the past year and half, my entire wardrobe went out of style. Luckily a recent 24 hour stomach flu gave me the opportunity lounge in bed with stacks of style magazines, catching up on the world of fashion in 2017. And I’ve got to say, I am more confused than ever.  Cropped goucho pants… no thank you. But distressed skinny jeans… got it. Shoulder cut outs…ugh, over it. But bell sleeves…okay, I’ll give it a try. And so I did. I decided to take my favorite shirt sewing pattern and create an ever-so- trendy “bell sleeve top.” Maybe I can now fit in with the cool kids. Now on to research what restaurants the cool kids are going to…IMG_5785.JPGIMG_5799.JPGIMG_5786.JPGsewing pattern: the Lou Box Top by Sew DIY. look for this pattern {here} at Indiesew.com

fabric: rayon challis from JoAnn’s

rice bead necklace: Candy Shop Vintage in Charleston, SC

baby: 13 months old and sweet as can beIMG_5801.JPGSteps to adding the bell sleeve

  1. sew your Lou Box Top as instructed but DON’T hem the sleeve.
  2. cut out two additional rectangle pieces of fabric that are twice the width of the shirt sleeve pattern and about 6-8 inches in height.
  3. right sides together, sew the side seam of the rectangle piece, creating a tube.
  4. hem the bottom of the bell sleeve.
  5. do a basting stitch across the top of the bell sleeve, leaving long strings on each end.
  6. pull the thread of the basting stitch to gather your bell sleeve.
  7. right sides together, pin in place the gathered part of the bell sleeve to the original sleeve, making sure to evenly space out your gathers.
  8. sew with a regular straight stitch.
  9. press your seam downwards.
  10. put your new top on and do a happy little arm dance. IMG_5787.JPGSo that’s it from this wanna-be trendy mom. Happy spring everybody!

Selfishly Waiting on Baby Number Two

Now that Liam is a year old, Will and I have started to talk seriously about baby number two. We’ve always known that we wanted a big family and since it took us four years to get Liam (and my ovaries are not getting any younger), we probably have to make some decisions soon. We’ve gone through the typical discussions: How long this time should we try to conceive on our own? Can I even get pregnant on my own now that my body “knows” how to be pregnant? Or should we go back right away and use our second stored embryo? Or should we try to make a new embryo and save the frozen embryo that we made when I was 32 to use later down the road when I’m like 40?

 So yeah, just your typical dinner conversations. I’m trying not to have high expectations that I can get pregnant naturally even though I’ve heard so many anecdotal stories that this happens: couples try forever to get pregnant, go through fertility treatment, have a baby, and then boom… get pregnant without even trying. Is that even a possibility for me? Or does my diagnosis of unexplained infertility lead me to think I’ll always need the help of science to have babies? And I don’t have the answers to any of these questions. But I have always been one of those people that hopes for the best but prepares for the worst.

So we’re kind of in a “loving life with Liam” place right now and avoiding making any major decisions. Playing the old “let’s just see what happens” game. But when I get into this conversation about baby number two with friends or people I know, I STILL to this day, get asked the same question. The one question that has always boiled me: “have you thought about just adopting?” And the truth is yes. Will and I have thought about it a lot. We’ve talked about it a lot. We’ve looked into it. It’s not something that we take lightly or an idea we’ve have tossed to the side. And truthfully, years down the road we would love to adopt a child. But right now what we want is to have another child of our own. I think some people read that as selfish. That I’m only thinking about myself. And to those people I say yes I sure am. I absolutely adored being pregnant. I loved feeling and watching life grow inside my belly. I loved being able to breastfeed and know that my body was producing nourishment that was sustaining a tiny newborn life. I will never stop being in awe of what a woman’s body can do. And I know the experience is different for everyone and it’s not for some people. But for me, it was everything! Carrying liam for nine months, nursing him for 13 months, and watching him grow into the amazing boy that he is while thinking, damn. We made that. It’s a feeling I can’t describe. And I want to do it all over again. Selfish or not selfish. That’s what I want. 

So Liam will definitely have a baby sister or brother one day. When that happens or how it happens, I don’t know yet. But I’m going enjoy the ride no matter what road it takes. 
xxxoo Priscilla 

turning scraps into croptops 

I don’t consider myself a hoarder. In fact, I get lots of joy out of throwing away meaningless crap. But when it come to my fabric, I’ve got a big issue: Too much scrap fabric and nothing to do with it. When you sew primarily adult sized clothing, you always end up with these random shaped pieces of leftover fabric. And since most are rayon, voile, or knit, I can’t even give them away to my quilting friends (trust me, I’ve tried). And before you start screaming scarfs! headbands! let me stop you… been there, done that. So I decide to see what new ideas I could make with these scraps. My first solution: a crop top. IMG_6001I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t she almost 35? Didn’t she just have a baby? You are correct, my friends. But this crop top would be worn as a short shirt underneath another layer, creating the illusion of a two piece top or dress. I’ve been seeing a lot of these slip dresses online:

And I suddenly remembered an old black slip in my closet from Express. I think probably circa 1998. And alas that’s how a 1/3 yard scrap of this:…became this:IMG_6006.JPGIMG_5940My bangs are in an evolutionary stage right now, so lets ignore the sideburn/bang situation and get that out of the way and move on. To create the top, I decided to use the bodice portion of the Washi dress pattern, simply because I adore those tiny cap sleeves and I had just enough fabric for a front bodice, back bodice, and two small sleeves. There was not enough scrap to make neckline facings so I simply folded under and top stitched the neckline. As mentioned earlier, the black slip is an old store bought item. But if you’re interested in replicating this project and making it a true DIY creation, April Rhodes has a slip pattern as part of her Date Night Dress that is a quick sew.IMG_5991IMG_5995.jpgThe fabric is an Art Gallery voile that I had leftover from this maxi skirt. It was already pre washed and ready for some loving, just needed to be pressed really well as it had been stored away in a crumpled state for nearly two years. I wore my new two piece top on Saturday running errands and feeding the ducks at the pond with Will and Liam.  I like how it looks as a top paired with skinny jeans and my favorite booties. But I kind of want to replicate this look again to wear as a dress.IMG_5987IMG_5988That’s it for now, one piece of scrap gone plus a new outfit for $0. Come back and visit soon. Liam and I will be here sorting through bags of scrap fabric seeing what else I can come up with!

xxoo Priscilla

Buy or Dye: the ultimate tie dye fail

You win some, you lose some. Isn’t that the old saying? I seriously went into this project thinking how hard can it be to dye tie some fabric and turn it into a garment? And even though it’s not a winner (in fact, I doubt I would even get an honorable mention ribbon), I’d be damned if I was going to throw all that time and energy spent into the garbage. So alas, I will share with you the story behind my not-so-fabulous DIY tie dyed tunic.
I originally saw this tunic on sale at a local boutique here in Charleston, but  they only had a size XS left. So of course a light bulb went off in my head and told me, “hey you can make one yourself!” I spent several late nights on Pinterest researching the best tips for tie dying on knit fabric. At first I thought I should buy black fabric and dye it white. When I found no concrete evidence on the inter webs proving that you can dye black fabric using white dye, I canceled that plan. My plan B was to use bleach to create the tie dyed affect on black fabric. However once again, my research lead me astray when I saw that it would only turn the bleached areas into a yellowish- cream color instead of the brilliant white that I was hoping for. So plan C was to buy white fabric and use black dye. The black dye would easily be picked up by the white fabric and I could use a “scrunched” technique to get the white areas to look the way I wanted. Sounds easy enough, right? Or so I thought…

Here’s what I did. First I washed and dried my fabric. Then I laid the fabric out and began scrunching it inwards:
I then used black RIT dye in a squeeze bottle and saturated my fabric. I left it here for 30 minutes to really soak in. (Honestly, I am humbled that you are still reading up to this point because… spoiler alert, it does not end well). 
Once I felt like my dye was really set in place, I took it outside to the swing set and hung it out to air dry. Then I did a little dance move because I was so proud of myself. It turned out just like I had envisioned. But then it happened. I decided to wash it. I knew I would have to wash the fabric eventually once it became a garment and I wore it. So I maybe I should give it one last wash before I cut out my tunic pattern. But for reasons beyond my tired brain’s comprehension, the dye bleed and turned the white into a light gray and the black into a dark purple. So I said a few four letter words, left, went to story time with Liam, then to the fabric store to buy ANOTHER two yards of white fabric, and then did it all over again. The second time around, I did some more research and decided that I should dye the fabric while it was still wet, dunk it into a bowl of black dye instead of using a squeeze bottle, and THEN re-wash it. So I did all those steps and still ended up with a purple gray mess. But I followed Tim Gunn’s advice and made it work. I went ahead and cut out a tunic pattern, Paired with black leggings, boots, and a floppy hat, it ended up being no too shabby of an outfit for a day around town.
If anyone has any advice on how to tie dye white and black knit fabric without it bleeding, let me know! I doubt I will try this again, and next time I may just choose to buy instead of DIY. But it was fun while it lasted and maybe, just maybe, the tunic isn’t THAT bad. Maybe.

until next time, may all your Pinteresting and crafting dreams come true. xox Priscilla