Feathers Flights // Sewing Blog


Make RTW Clothing Work with your Handmade Wardrobe

As much as I love handmade clothing that fits me perfectly and is made from the perfect fabric in the perfect colors, I do not have the time to make all of my clothing. I wish I did, but I don't. I do make some of my clothing, but I also alter a lot of ready-to-wear clothing to fit me and work with my wardrobe. I really want everything in my wardrobe to be worn, and I want to love everything in my wardrobe. I really love the idea of altering because it's cheap or free, and it doesn't take a lot of time. But you get a whole new piece to work with in your wardrobe!
1. Wear A Dress as a Tunic and Adding Another Button - I got this olive dress that I wear as a tunic since it's much too short on me. I've never tried wearing a dress as a tunic before, but I really love it. Unfortunately, the front button placket only buttons up to just under by bust which is not high enough for my preference. 
I took the extra button from the price tag and sewed it above the top button. I also added another buttonhole above the top buttonhole. This makes it so I don't have to wear anything under the tunic. This might be one of my favorite alterations yet. It was so easy, but makes such a big difference to if I want to wear it.
2. Lengthening or Shortening Sleeves - I found this knit blazer, and I fell in love with it immediately. It fit well except the sleeves were a little too short. I purchased it, and then let the sleeves out to lengthen them. I wear it all the time now!
blazer (similar)
3. Wear Something Under a Sheer and Too Short Item - I got this sweater; it was a little sheer and the sleeves were a little too short. I was pretty disappointed because it didn't seem sheer online. I love the preppy look of a button down shirt under a sweater. This takes care of the sweater being sheer, and when I cuff the sleeves you can't tell that the sleeves are too short.
4. Dye or Bleach a Dress - I bought this dress thinking it was navy striped. When it arrived it was black striped. Now my husband thought I should just return it because he's an intelligent, regular person. I make my life harder and decided to bleach the dress. I bleached it twice and got this nice reddish brown. This dress will be perfect for the summer.
dress (thredUp)
5. Add Shirring to Lower or Raise a Waist - Surprisingly, this maxi dress was not too short for me, but the waist was too high. It was about an inch and a half above my actual waist. This isn't that big of a deal, but I felt like I didn't get definition at my thinnest section. I added a couple of rows of shirring below the dress's waist which brings brings the waist definition lower. Now the dress fits me perfectly.
 6. Add Shirring to Define a Waist - My husband bought me this dress for Valentine's day and he totally nailed it. I love the colors and the embroidery and the style. It was supposed to come with a belt, but it didn't. I marked where my waist was and added three rows of shirring. It's the perfect dress now, and I actually love that I can wear it without a belt.
If you want some more altering ideas, check out this list!
  1. Using a Pattern to Upcycle a Tee
  2. Fitting Thrifted Jeans
  3. Adding Cuffs to Knit Pants
  4. How to Add Lace to Sweater Sleeves
  5. Lengthening a Short Tee
  6. How to Cut and Cuff Pants to Shorts


Free Printable: "FAMILY" Banner

You may not know, but we recently bought our first home! It is a fantastic, well-built home and we love it; but it needs a LOT of cosmetic updating inside. You can follow along on instagram with the hashtag #ffcoastalfarmhouse (Feathers Flights Coastal Farmhouse). We're starting in in the front room and moving through the rest of the house. The unfortunate thing about updating means I'm not putting up any pictures or art yet, and I'm not decorating for any holidays. My kids love when I decorate, so they've been missing out since I started packing in January. My sister recently created an alphabet bunting that you can purchase, but I get to share a free "FAMILY" version! (I also linked to a free "CREATE" and free "HOME".)
I put this up to remind myself about what's important. Remodeling my home isn't as important as who is inside my home. Our home is definitely livable, so the remodeling doesn't actually need to be done. Sometimes I'm a little stressed out about remodels, or I'm tired from staying up late painting. Having a little reminder about the importance of "FAMILY" is good for me to see on a daily basis.
Free "FAMILY" Banner Printable
Download the file and print it on cardstock. Feel free to use colored cardstock for something fun. Cut along the given lines. Add two hole punches along the top and thread some baker's twine, yarn, hemp, or anything you have. I used some navy blue bias cut fabric that I had leftover from a project.
Don't miss the free "CREATE" banner and the free "HOME" banner!


Fabric A to Z Book Review

Today I'm going to talk about the book Fabrics A-to-Z: The Essential Guide to Choosing and Using Fabric for Sewing*. I got this book a couple of years ago for Christmas. Some of the fabrics I read about and didn't know what they were until the last year. Fabric stores have been much better at offering good and unique apparel fabrics, so you can actually find all the fabrics in the book.
Fabrics A-to-Z* has SO much information about fabric, but it's written in a way that's really easy to understand. I love that you can look up one fabric and everything you need to know is right there. There's an explanation of the fabric, all the properties of the fabric, and how to work with the fabric. I really love that you can know what thread, needles, and interfacing to use for each and every fabric. This page is about Tencel which was almost unknown when I first got this book. Now it is one of my very favorite fabrics to work with. I buy fabric yardage and thrift Tencel ready-to-wear items whenever I find them.
The fabrics are organized by fiber and then by each fabric, so you can always find what you want to learn about. There's information about all the different fabric prints, and at the back there's some basic sewing tips like how to sew with zippers. It's pretty amazing how much information is in this one book and how easy the information is to digest.
I would recommend the book Fabrics A-to-Z* to anyone who wants to learn about all the different fabrics and how to work with them. It's a great book to have in your library. It's small so it's easy to to bring it to the fabric store with you in case you need information while buying fabric and sewing supplies. It's great for any level of sewing because anyone who wants to sew can use information from this book. 


Why I Half-Tuck My Tees

Let's talk about the tuck or the halt-tuck trend. At first I thought, why would I do that? and what's the reason? Does it just add some "cool" and "trendy" factor? I started half-tucking my loose tees and analyzed the look. Look at the picture above, I'm wearing the same shoes, the same shorts, the same hair, etc. The only difference is the hem of the tee. Cover one side with your hand and then cover the other side. Where is your eye being drawn? On the left your eyes are drawn to the hem of the tee, but the tuck draws your eyes up to my face. On the right your eyes are also drawn to the hem of the tee, but nothing leads them away so the focus is left on my hips. Now we're not analyzing the fit of the tee, the fit of the pants, or the colors. We are focusing on horizontal lines created on our bodies.
I want to say upfront that this post isn't about how to achieve the fake, unattainable, body ideal created by media. This post is about deciding where you want the horizontal lines to bring focus on your body. You choose where you want the focus.
Look at the very simple rectangles above. Cover one with your hand and then switch. Which rectangle looks taller?
Right, the one on the left. If this were a woman wearing a dress, the one on the left would be wearing a dress with a empire horizontal line and the one on the right would be wearing a dress with a dropped waist horizontal line. Is one better than the other? Maybe you like the empire horizontal line better because you want to look taller, but maybe that horizontal line drew focus on your upper arms or bust.
Now look at these simple rectangles above. Cover one with your hand and then switch. Which rectangle looks taller?
The one on the left looks slightly shorter because the horizontal line is lower than half. This is about wear my white tee hits on my body. The one on the right looks taller and your eye doesn't linger on the horizontal line. Your eye rests on the point (because there's nothing else to look at in the rectangle). Here's a picture with the rectangles over pictures of me.
In these photos below my tee is half-tucked every time. It creates nice diagonal lines instead of focusing horizontal lines. I actually only tuck my tees when I'm wearing a looser shirt. When it's fitted the hem usually hits at my high hip (between my hips and waist), and I like the horizontal line there.
1. MAKER tee, shortssandals 2. Harbor Knot tee, leggings (thredUp), gray converse

There are times when you can't or don't want to half-tuck your tee. A way to combat this is to wear a long layer. The parallel lines running up your body draw the eyes to the face. They don't linger at the horizontal line created by the tee. The picture on the left is the same white tee and shorts I was wearing as the first pictures, but the parallel lines created by the kimono don't let your eyes linger. In the picture in the middle I'm wearing a tee that has a horizontal line at my waist and at the hem, but your eyes follow the vertical lines up. The picture on the right is another example of a tee with a lower hem, and a cardigan that draws your eyes up even if the cardigan is buttoned and doesn't create parallel lines.

1. loose tee, kimono (still available), shortssandals 2. Ikat jacket, navy tee (thredUp), pants (altered), flats (thredUp
3. coral tee (thrifted), cardigan, leggings, flats (similar)
As I said before these are the guidelines I use when I'm wearing looser fitting or longer tops. When it's fitted the hem usually hits at my high hip (between my hips and waist), and I like the horizontal line there. What did you learn about lines today? Anything that you've never thought about?


Me Made: Harbor Knot Tee

When Striped Swallow Designs released their Harbor Knot Tee pattern I bought it that very day. I have never fallen in love with a pattern that fast or bought a pattern the day it released. I usually like to take time to think about a pattern, think about fabric choices, and think about how it would fit in my thoughtful wardrobe. I'm really picky about patterns because I already have a lot of patterns that rarely get used so I like to spend my money on patterns that I know I'll use. Anyway, I loved the Harbor Knot Tee because it's a comfortable tee, but the little knot detail brings it up a level.
I made this first muslin to try out the pattern, and luckily, it's a wearable muslin. I've already worn it a lot. I used a thin, drapey, polka dot jersey fabric that was in my stash. I don't remember where I got it originally, but here's some similar blush rayon fabrics. It doesn't have a whole lot of recovery, but it has a good drape. I can't wait to try this shirt again in another fabric.
My measurements fell in between size XS and S, but after reading some test reviews and reading through the pattern instructions I decided to just make a straight XS. I'm glad I did because I think I could still make it even smaller. I even took out an inch at the waist after finishing the tee. I didn't know how the pattern pieces would turn into a knot so it was hard to do any altering before sewing it up.
I also lengthened the bodice 1" just under the sleeves. I'm 5'10" but I didn't need to add any height over the bust or to the sleeve cap. The next one I'll make will have a different look because I will use fabric with better recovery, but I want to make the sides a little tighter so it hugs my frame just a little more.
The pattern pieces were pretty straightforward and the instruction were good. I was able to follow the line drawings easily. The knot part was hard to understand just from pictures, but there's a video explaining how to do that step which makes it a lot easier. I would recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to tackle a little bit of a challenge and make a really amazing tee!
I tried a new hemming trick with my double needle which made my hems look better than they have in a long time. I've been avoiding knits since last summer because I was so fed up with my double needle tunneling everything. I'd tried so many tricks that wasn't working, but I finally found one that worked. Hopefully I'll be sharing a tutorial soon!
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