inspiration: Sewing

DIY OFF THE SHOULDER BEACH DRESS

Being on holidays inspires in my all sorts of fun and summery DIYs. As you may have noticed, I’m currently loving all things off the shoulder, and what’s more relaxed and beach to bar-ish than a piece that works both as a cover up and a dress? Ok so to be honest, without any lining this piece best functions over bikinis, which works a treat here in Thailand where I’m currently travelling, but probably not so much at home during after work drinks. However, using a less sheer fabric or by adding a slip or lining, this style of dress could have a million different lives, and it’s surprisingly easy to make!

Make a simple off the shoulder beach dress www.apairandasparediy.com

Wearing DIY dress, J Crew bag and shoes, H&M hat (I love this), Daniel Wellington Watch

Easy off the shoulder dress Easy off the shoulder dress

You need:

  • 2 m (2.4 yards) of heavy (perhaps sheer) fabric, lace style would work well
  • Scissors
  • 2.5cm (1 in) elastic
  • A sewing machine

Simple off the shoulder dress www.apairandasparediy.com

How to:

So, this dress is really easy because it’s pretty much 2 big squares and 2 big rectangles, that’s all you need. I used fabric which didn’t require hemming which made the process even easier! Refer to the pattern below to understand how that works.

If you’re referring to this off the shoulder top I made recently, note there is a major difference in construction – the top was created  using three gathered tubes each with separate elastic, however this dress is a body and arms attached with one piece of elastic gathering it at the top – making it a little more simple.

Easy off the shoulder dress www.apairandasparediy.com

1. Cut your fabric pieces out.

Simple off the shoulder dress www.apairandasparediy.com

2. Now sew your body section by sewing seams up the sides of the large pieces of fabric, stopping 10cm (4 inches) from the top. This is where you will attach arms on each side. Essentially what you will have is a tube with open top seams.

Easy off the shoulder dress www.apairandasparediy.com

3. Fold and sew the seams of your arms, once again leaving around 10cm (4 in) open at the end, this is where you are going to jigsaw your arms and body together. Can you see how this is coming along?

Easy off the shoulder dress www.apairandasparediy.com

4. Sew the arms to the body, making sure you sew the seams on the same side (inside out) as the side seams, otherwise you’ll have to unpick and start again!

Easy off the shoulder dress www.apairandasparediy.com

5. It will look lil this once the arms have been sewn on.

Easy off the shoulder dress www.apairandasparediy.com

6. If your fabric has holes such as mine did all you have to do is thread the elastic through the whole way around the fabric (making sure to leave an inch at the top for ruffling) and then tie it off once the elastic meets. If your fabric doesn’t have holes, I suggest you sew a hem and seam for the elastic as you would for a gathered skirt and insert the elastic that way.

Easy off the shoulder dress www.apairandasparediy.com

Voila! Will definitely be adding some skin coloured lining to this when I get back to Hong Kong!

Easy off the shoulder dressEasy off the shoulder dress

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BEFORE & AFTER: PLEATED DENIM MINI DRESS

Because of travelling quite a lot recently I haven’t had the chance to hit my favourite thrift store as much as I would like, but a little while ago I got a chance to do a full afternoon wandering the racks and was rewarded with loads of cool pieces – and some not so cool things I thought might make great fodder for before & after projects. Once such item was this denim shift dress – long, unshapely and generally not something you’d catch me wearing. However, given the summer season I thought it might be fun to make myself a summer pleated dress, a little bit 90′s, and little bit Balmain and a whole lot of satisfaction when it was done. This was my first experience with pleating and let’s just say it was an eye opener!

Transform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.com

Wearing: J Crew Bag, DIY dress, Daniel Wellington Watch, Zara heels, Thierry Lasry Sunglasses

This is said shift dress and what I did to it:

Transform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.comTransform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.com

You need:

  • A shift dress
  • Scissors
  • A sewing machine
  • Needle and thread

How to:

1. I started by chopping the dress off at the point at which I wanted the pleats to start.

Transform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.com

2. Because the shift dress was very long I was able to create two panels for the skirt part, allowing me to create much more volume with the pleats.

Transform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.com

3. I then trimmed those panels to the same length and sewed them together so I had one long panel, then sewed the hem of the part of the panel that had originally sat in the middle of the dress.

Transform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.com

4. I then took in the top so it was fitting on my body.

Transform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.com

5. Now it’s time to create the pleats. I decided I wanted to create box pleats so they had a one over one under look (rather than side pleats like a netball skirt where they all face the same direction. What I did to do this was to measure both the bodice and the skirt panel, and decide on a pleat size that would divide perfectly (or approximately in my case) – thus allowing the panel piece of the skirt to fit together with the bodice. I worked out a pleat of 4cm wide (approx 1.5 in) would work well.

Transform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.com

6. To create the box pleats I turned the fabric over to the wrong side and did two side pleats (that’s two folds) facing each other, turning over to make sure the resulting box pleat was around 4cm wide. At times it was approximate but I didn’t really mind!

Box pleats

7. I pinned as I went, but found when I got to the end the last pleat was a little short so I had to go along and redistribute a bit so I could finish the last pleat – very much a case of working it out as I went along!

Transform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.com

8. I then pinned the pleats to the underside of the bodice.

Transform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.com

9. Using the sewing machine, I secured the pleats to the bodice.

Transform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.com

Voila!

Transform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.comTransform a simple denim shift dress www.apairandasparediy.com

Outfit photos by Marion Tessier

DIY OFF THE SHOULDER TOP

This summer I can’t help but notice the re-emergence of a simple off the shoulder silhouette. After lusting over them online I realised (with glee) that this particular shape was incredibly easy to make, using a simple gathered waist skirt technique g I utilise so often (in literally everything!) because it’s just so easy. You can even make it by hand without a sewing machine like I did here if you so choose. As part of my week with Ferragamo, I recently tried my hand at this top, and will definitely be making a few more in a bunch of fabrics and styles. Read on to see how.

Make a simple summer off the shoulder top www.apairandasparediy.comMake a summer off the shoulder top

Wearing: J Crew hat, bag and flats, DIY shorts (from J Brand jeans), DIY necklace, Ferragamo sunglasses and watch

You need:

  • Around 2m (2.4 yards) cotton or silk fabric
  • Elastic, cut into three pieces to go around your bust and your arms.
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine (you can do it by hand too if you like similar to this)

Make an off the shoulder top in ten minutes www.apairandasparediy.com

To do this you are literally going to make three gathered tubes of fabric, one big one for your top measuring from the top of your bra line to waist and two from your arms measuring from below the shoulder to the elbow. Then all you have to do it sew them together under the arm and voila!

How to:

1. Cut your fabric for your first big tube (for the body part).

Make an off the shoulder top in ten minutes www.apairandasparediy.com

2. Hem the bottom of the tub, and then sew the top hem wide enough to pass your elastic through.

Make an off the shoulder top in ten minutes www.apairandasparediy.com

3. Sew down the long edge so you have a tube, making sure to leave the opening for the elastic.

Make an off the shoulder top in ten minutes www.apairandasparediy.com

4. Create two small tubes for your arms in exactly the same way and then iron well.

Make an off the shoulder top in ten minutes www.apairandasparediy.com

5. You materials should look like this.

Make an off the shoulder top in ten minutes www.apairandasparediy.com

6. Using a stick of some sort, thread the elastic through the  top seams. Do the two arm sections separately and then using a light hand stitch, sew the arms to the top of the body, checking to see where they need to go by trying on the top. Once the top is finished, to create a heart shaped neckline I simple pinned it to my strapless bra – a bit of simple DIY magic right there!

Make an off the shoulder top in ten minutes www.apairandasparediy.com

Voila!

Make a summer off the shoulder topMake a simple off the shoulder top www.apairandasparediy.com

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Photos by Marion Tessier