Spotted Sheath Dress DIY

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And my obsession with dresses continues!  Especially when it comes to spring and summer sewing, I just can’t get enough.  They’re cool and cute and flirty and fun; not to mention, they take no time at all to sew!

This spotted sheath dress is no exception…read on for the super easy tutorial!

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1.  First, you’ll need to download and print the free pattern here (be sure to print from Adobe Reader/Acrobat and NOT a browser! Make sure your printer is not scaling the pages).  Then tape all your pages together (just overlap the margins of the pattern pages before cutting- no need to trim them off!).
I drafted it to fit my body pretty loosely, and my measurements are 37-29-38 (about a size 6 or medium).  If you’re bigger or smaller than this, you can grade the pattern out or in, simply by adding or subtracting inches to your bust, waist and/or hips.  Since the pattern piece represents 1/4th of the dress’s measurements, you’ll only need to add or subtract 1/4 of the difference in our measurements.

For example, if your bust is 2 inches larger than mine but your hips are 1 inch smaller, then add 0.5″ to the bust area (2″ divided by 4) and subtract 0.25″ (1″ divided by 4) to the hip area.  I hope that makes sense…it’s really simple once you get started!

I made my dress a little looser than a traditional sheath dress because I wanted to avoid needing an opening (my fabric also had some stretch to it).  If you’d like a closer fit or are using a fabric with no stretch, you’ll need to insert a zipper or other opening.

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2.  Now, cut out out your fabric by laying the straight edge of your pattern pieces on the fold of your fabric (where indicated).  You’ll need to cut one bodice front (along the lower neckline curve) and one bodice back (along the higher neckline curve), as well as 2 sleeve pieces.   Now, cut out a neckband bias strip measuring 27″ (68 cm) x 2″ (5cm).  You can avoid cutting this piece on the bias if your fabric already has stretch to it, as long as you cut with the stretch running lengthwise.

**Remember after sewing each seam, to finish your raw edges and press well!

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3.  Sew your front to back bodice pieces together at the shoulders, and then at the sides, RST, using a 3/8″ (1cm) seam allowance.  Sew your underarm seam by stitching the sleeve to itself along the short, straight edge, RST.  Repeat with 2nd sleeve.  Turn dress inside out and sleeve right side out; insert sleeve into dress at armhole, pin together, keeping raw edges even and matching side seam to underarm seam.  Ease through the shoulder curve to fit.  Baste sleeve to dress and check for puckers or folds.  Stitch sleeve to dress and repeat with opposite sleeve.

4.   Stitch short ends of neckband piece together, then fold loop in half lengthwise (wrong sides together) and press again.  Pin neckband to RIGHT side of dress neckline, raw edges even.  Stitch neckband piece to neckline, using a scant 1/4″ (.6 cm) seam allowance.  Fold neckband to inside of dress and press well.  Topstitch neckband in place, close to fold.

5.  Hem sleeves and dress as desired.

And, you’re done!  A quick, easy project with a big “wow” factor.   Let me know how yours turns out!

Week 11: Sit Down to Eat

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Ever noticed how sometimes you get to 2 or 3pm and can’t remember if you’ve eaten anything that day?  I do it all the time.  Then I stand over the counter in my kitchen and eat all my kids’ sandwich leftovers, then a burrito for myself and top it off with whatever treat I can find hiding in my pantry.

Not only does this mean that I should really plan my meals better (and record them more often!) but, if I sit down with all the food I plan to eat right in front of me, I can eat slower, enjoy it more and feel fuller.  The act of emptying your plate can really go far in signaling to your body that it’s time to stop eating (which is a good reason to eat on small plates!).  Not to mention that you’ll feel rested and full after a meal instead of like a hyperactive squirrel looking for its next nut. 😉  I also tend to eat more healthfully when I sit down and make meal of it.  After all, I can’t remember a time I sat down to a Snickers ice cream bar, a handful of chips and two beaters full of icing…but I know I’ve inhaled it guiltily in the corner of my kitchen before!

If you’ve been following along these past 10 weeks, then you’ve done some really hard things.  Just sitting down to eat doesn’t seem like a big deal after all those other challenges.  But if you’re in the habit of eating on the go, it can make a huge difference in your quest to eat more mindfully!

Let me know if this is usually a hard thing for you to do and how it goes!

 

Girls’ Summer Sewing: Skorts Edition!

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I’m contributing over on the Project Run and Play blog today, talking all about skorts!  Head on over to the post HERE for more pics and some breezy summer sewing inspiration!

 

Week 10: Eat Regularly

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WEEK EIGHT CHALLENGE

Eat Regularly!

 

So, how did last week’s challenge go?  Did anyone cut out dairy entirely?  We don’t buy regular milk around here anymore, but I do often get a pint of cream for desserts here and there…and sometimes I throw it in my granola, along with some non-dairy milk.  Kinda negates all the health benefits, eh?  But this week I left it out!  I’m making progress too!  Ha.

We’ve all heard that it’s important not to starve when trying to lose weight.  Our bodies need continual, lean fuel in order to build muscle and become more efficient fat-burning machines.  But the question is, how often should we eat?  Remember when the nutritionists started saying we should eat 5 small meals a day instead of 3 big ones?  Well, I’ve read more research lately saying that we actually need to go back to 3 moderate meals again.  So in light of this conflicting news, I say – just listen to your body!  

There are times in my life when 3 meals just isn’t enough unless I gorge during meal time and that’s not healthy.  Nursing moms, athletes and other very active people will probably need healthy snacks now and again.  But if you usually snack and are having a tough time losing weight, try cutting out the snacks and see what happens!  

There are a few other important things to remember during this challenge:

1.  Each meal or snack should contain protein, fat and carbs and keep you full until your next meal.  You should not feel hungry when you’re done!  But also, stop before you’re uncomfortable.

2.  Plan ahead!  Trust me on this one.  You don’t want to get to 4pm and have no good meal ideas and end up scarfing chocolate chips because you’re starving.  This is especially important if you’re really busy and running around all day.  Trail mix, fruit, veggies, nut butters, instant oatmeal…there are lots of things you can stash in your purse or desk or your secret no-kids-allowed kitchen cabinet to help you eat regularly and healthfully.

Or, try keeping a list on the fridge of all the meal ideas you can easily create with what’s lying around.  Then you can throw something together without too much effort.

I wanna hear about some more successes!  I’ve been feeling really strong lately and not craving as much junk, so I’m loving that!

Let’s hit it, kids! 

Add Modesty Panel to a V-Neck Top!

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Is there anything worse than finding a dress that’s almost perfect? When I found this fun color-blocked dress at H&M a couple months ago, it was love at first sight…except for that plunging neckline.  Always the challenge to appropriately cover the nursing-mom cleavage, can I get an Amen?  So instead of passing it up, I figured out a DIY solution!

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The neckline was actually low enough that it allowed nursing access, but I wanted to be able to cover up the cleave when I was done!  I created this little panel that snaps open and shut.

Get the tutorial below!

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First, try your dress or top on and measure how high you want your panel to go (i.e. how much cleavage you’ve got exposed! Mine was about 4″ high).  Then, lay your dress or top face down on a flat surface to measure the width.  Be sure you’re not stretching the opening.  Mark how high your panel will go on the dress with a pen (i.e. 4″ above the bottom of the opening).  Then measure across the width of the opening at that point, and add about 1.5″ to overlap underneath (mine was about 5.5″).

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Now you’ll need to cut out your triangle of fabric for the panel.  Since my dress was made of a polyester knit, I used a black cotton knit that looked similar enough to the dress fabric.  I folded my fabric in half, and then cut out a triangle measuring the width you calculated above (5.5″ for me) and the height you measured above plus 1″ (about 5″ for mine), with the fold of the fabric at the top.  I wanted to use the fold as the top edge instead of hemming my fabric there.

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Now just finish the raw edges of your triangle sides…I used a serger but a simple zig-zag stitch would work too.  Then hand-stitch the bottom of your triangle flap to the inside of your dress, just below the neckline opening.  Mark where your panel hits the dress when closed, and hand-stitch snaps to both the top of the panel and inside of dress.  Or, if you’re not nursing and don’t need access, just hand-stitch the top in place as well!

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Voila!  Now go enjoy your new top/dress, in confidence that nobody’s staring at your chest!

Oversized Tops: Spring Must-Have

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I know using the term “must-have” in a fashion post can be annoying…after all, who the heck am I that I’m walking around telling people what they “MUST have”?  I mean, when most of us have closets full of perfectly good stuff, isn’t the idea that we “need” any particular article of clothing kind of silly?

Totally.  But I also get that lots of mamas want (maybe even NEED!) to feel better about themselves and dressing better is a really simple way to do that!  If you’re looking for a wardrobe update this Spring and Summer (but still don’t want to put any more effort into getting ready than is absolutely necessary) this post is for you!

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Are you ready for the #1 thing to buy (make, thrift or steal – ha!) this season?

The over-sized T-shirt.

That’s right…a tee-shirt!  Hurray for simple fashion!

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And if you’ve got any areas up top that you’re looking to draw attention away from, what better way than a super slouchy top??  In fact, the bigger the better with this trend!  Just remember a few things:

*Keep the bottoms fairly streamlined to avoid bulk.  I like skinny jeans or a pencil skirt…but flared jeans and shorts work well too.  If you don’t go too big in the shirt, you can even try wide-leg/palazzo pants too (as seen in this Capsule Wardrobe post!)

*Remember to half-tuck!  Unless you’re wearing your big shirt with leggings, you’ll want to tuck the front or a corner in to avoid looking like you’re wearing your pajama top (but no judging here)

*Watch out for baggy necklines – it can be tricky to find one that won’t flash everything when you bend over.  Unless you’re into that, of course.  And in that case, I bet you’ve got a much better looking chest than I do.

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I found this top at H&M (it’s not online) but I also love lots from Old Navy this season!  This one is my latest favorite – I have several colors and you may have seen it in this Instagram picture.

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These pants (love all the mid-rise Rockstars) are also my latest faves and I can’t believe how easy it is to walk in these amazing platforms!  Long live the ’70’s!  And comfy fashion!

Week 9: Cut Out Dairy

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Today’s challenge is another food-related one…and even though it might not be the most popular challenge, every time I do it I see results!  

WEEK 9 CHALLENGE

Cut Out Dairy

 

You ready for a shocker?  Dairy is NOT a necessary food group.  That’s right, I practically just committed nutritional heresy.  There is lots and lots of research available out there regarding this (I recommend doing some of your own digging online) but the long and short of it is this: you don’t need dairy to be healthy.  

Dairy does offer nutritional benefits (especially in its raw and minimally processed forms) but most Americans should cut way back.  Do you know why the USDA increased the recommended daily dose of milk on the food pyramid in 2005?  Because Americans were lacking in certain nutrients and the USDA figured getting people to increase dairy consumption was more likely than getting them to eat more veggies (read more here).  Well duh.  I’d rather drink a milkshake than eat broccoli too!  Sad, huh?!

Now I realize that this is radical news for the typical American who eats lots of cheese, yogurt, milk and ice cream on the daily.  But you don’t have to cut it all out to see results.  I find myself feeling healthier and more energetic when I just substitute non-dairy milk and cut out the ice cream.  I also try to make better choices when it comes to other dairy products.  We use buttermilk for baking and yogurt (only plain- the sweetened kind has SO many added sugars!) as well as kefir (a cultured milk drink that has lots of probiotics) and cheese.  But we try to eat these sparingly and not at every meal.

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If you’re looking for an alternative food pyramid to follow (heavy on the veggies and light on the animal products), check out this one here!

So if you’re up for the challenge, and you’ve never tried it before, start slow.  Try replacing your morning cereal with oatmeal and skipping the cheese on your sandwich or  enchiladas.  It’s really not as hard as it sounds, you just have to get used to thinking a different way about your food choices.  And there are some pretty good non-dairy milks out there (I like rice and almond) as well as ice cream (coconut is fabulous!).

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I’d love to hear how it works out for everyone and if you notice feeling any different!  Here’s a favorite quote I always go back to when I find myself eating garbage…

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”  

Mind-blowing, right??

I’m also getting excited for our giveaway celebrating the end of our challenge in just a few more weeks!  One of you guys will win all my favorite health and fitness stuff: the best water bottle on the planet, my favorite healthy snack, the coolest running/walking accessory I use and lots more!  Woot!

The Alcoy Dress – Free Pattern!

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Hey all!  I’ve got a brand spanking new pattern for you all today!  Woo-hoo!

It’s called The Alcoy Dress and it’s a fitted knit dress with raglan style sleeves.  I’ve made about 5 so far and I’m hooked!  It’s flattering, comfortable and…best of all, takes less than 2 hours to whip up!

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You can make it in a pretty textured ponte like this white one, or in a more casual jersey with contrast sleeves like the Aztec print dress below.

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Wanna hear the best part??  The Alcoy Dress is free!!  I wanted to create something of real value for my email subscribers since my readers are the reason I’m doing this!  So I created this pattern, with all the details and features of my regular paid patterns but without the price tag.

The link to download the pattern will automatically be sent out to you once you subscribe to the Whisk ‘Em blog (that means you’ll get one weekly email telling you what you missed on the blog – that’s it!).

Just enter your email address in the Subscribe box on the right side of this website (right under our family picture!).  And then watch your inbox for the pattern.

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Once you get your copy of the pattern and sew it up, be sure to share it on social media using the hashtags #WhiskemPatterns and #AlcoyDress.  Feel free to send your friends over here to the blog to subscribe and get their free pattern too!  Just please don’t share the link to the pattern itself.

Thank for you being here and I can’t wait to see your Alcoy Dresses!

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DIY Shoe Upcycles! 5 Easy tutorials

 

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Hey all!  Today’s DIY is actually a collection of projects that I’ve been brainstorming for a while.  There are so many fabulous shoe trends right now and every time I see a new one I think “Hey!  I should just make that!”  It’s a curse, amiright??

So today I’ve got FIVE separate ways to upcycle plain, old shoes that might be collecting dust in the back of your closet and turn them into something new and amazing!

Project 1:  Add jewels!

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These old Target sandals were a summer staple a couple years ago but they’re looking old and worn lately.  After seeing some bedazzled inspirational sandals at Anthropologie, I decided this would be the perfect solution.

I bought these strands of crystals at Michael’s and simply stitched them to the braided strap!  I used some upholstery thread that I had on-hand but regular thread would work too, as long as you used several strands.

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Project 2:  Turning boring D’Orsay pumps into lace up heels!

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This was by far the simplest upcycle.  I took these cute (but plain) H&M pumps and glued a little strip of ribbon in a loop to the inside back of the heel.  When the superglue dried, I strung this cute studded cording through the loop and laced them up!

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I bought the cording for this project (and for the magenta heels below) also at Michael’s.

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Project 3:  Adding temporary sparkle to ho-hum heels

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I REEEALLY love these pumps from Forever 21 (bought years ago!) but found myself passing them over because they are so simple.  I finally decided that an old bling-y necklace had served its purpose and needed to be taken apart and glued to shoe clips!  I bought these from Amazon and love them.

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Project 4: Brightening up magenta pumps with more lacing!

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This project was only slightly more time-consuming than the black pumps above.  In addition to gluing a ribbon loop on the the back inside heel, I also superglued two more loops on the sides of the show, right around the center of my arch.

Then I laced the cording (this kind is stretchy!) through both side loops, crossed them once and then looped them both through the back loop and laced them up (the center of the cording passes under my arch).  As a former ballerina, I think this look is my favorite!

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Project 5:  Added a crafty bohemian vibe to some lace-up sandals

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Lately, I’ve seen SO much inspiration for lace-up sandals with a funky, eclective look to them...Sam Edelman’s collection this Spring had lots of embroidery, poms, tassels, mirrors and fringe all over the place!  I loved it!

After channeling my inner gypsy and trying my hand at these, I’m not sure what I think.  I like the direction they’re taking but still not positive they’re finished.  What are your thoughts?

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I kinda think they still just look like a summer camp project where I threw a bunch of craft crap on them with a glue gun (which is exactly what I did).  I’ll keep you updated if I make any more headway!

Well, that’s a wrap!  Which project was your favorite??  Got any old shoes lying around you can bring new life to?

Week 8: Do Something Different


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We’re at Week 8 already!  Only 1 month left in our 12 Week Tone Up Challenge; who’s seeing or feeling results??  Changing bad habits can be one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, things you can do.  Every day you replace a negative action (i.e. eating body weight in Ben & Jerry’s) with a positive one (i.e. waking up early and exercising) is one day closer to your best body and, more importantly, a healthier lifestyle.  Even if I’ve got a few extra pounds on me, healthy habits make me so much more efficient at everything I do!
I’m excited for this week…

WEEK 9 CHALLENGE

Do Something Different!

 

This week’s challenge allows for a lot more freedom than in past weeks, but it’s still super important.  Think about all the healthy habits you’ve acquired lately and what has and has not worked for you.  Then change one.  Was our water drinking week a total fail for you?  Then this week try trading out some soda for juice or herbal tea.  How about waking up early?  Were you a tad overly ambitious in thinking you could wake at dawn?  Then try getting up just 20 minutes early for some jumping jacks and crunches. 

The hardest part about any challenge or life-changing habit is always the START!  So change it up.  No one says you have to run if just the thought of it give you hives!  And if you absolutely HATE vegetables, then just stop worrying about them for a bit and focus instead on eating fewer refined flours and sugars.  Every little bit helps! 

My “something different” this week will be in regards to exercise.  I’m getting a little tired of my online videos so it’s time for me to get outside before the summer hits us.  I’m just going to do whatever sounds fun each morning; and some days I just plan on playing on the trampoline with my kids (that alone is a workout!!). 

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What about you guys??  What do you plan on changing in your approach to healthy living this week?