Easter Pinafore Pattern Hack

Another simple yet adorable Infinite A-line pattern hack – just in time for Easter!

I was really hesitant to commit to sewing everyone Easter dresses this year. After all, I have a newborn and five girls to sew for.  Some people might call that crazy.

But crazy has always held a certain appeal for me.

When designing this dress, I was really inspired by all the gingham popping up everywhere lately; it just screams spring to me! I also really wanted to make another pinafore style like this one I did last year.

This is another Infinite A-line pattern hack, although I decided to keep the back bodice piece on this one instead of just using straps.

To create this style, I followed the Infinite A-line dress instructions for View D and just discarded the side bodice pieces instead of sewing them to the center & ruffles.

Then I loosely followed these instructions to create a waistband and facing.  After you’ve cut them out, you’ll sew the short ends of each piece together, to create 2 loops.  Place 4 pins in the band and facing, all equidistance apart (one pin will be in the seam you just sewed).  Pin the band and facing to the front and back of bodice (as shown in the other tutorial), matching 2 of the pins in band/facing with the centers of the bodices.  Be sure the seam you just sewed is on the side of the dress so it won’t be as visible.  Then sew the bands to the bodices and continue following the other tutorial to attach the skirt.

It’s really a very simple and straightforward dress… the only problem I had was accidentally serging a big HOLE in the center of the waistband after thisone was almost complete! It was also after midnight at the time and I admit, I cried a little bit.

But all’s well that ends well! And now I just have six days to sew four more dresses. I can do it right??

Pray for me.

Get your own copy of the pattern HERE and let me know what you’re making for Easter this year!

(You can find the tutorial for this woven Easter basket HERE – the bottom zips off so that it stores flat!
And be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to get all the latest sewing tutorials.

Chubby Thighs and handmade shorts

An easy refresh for any kid’s summer wardrobe: shorts!

It’s been quite a while since I sewed something super simple for my kids; I’m always full of ideas for new pattern hacks and designs so it’s refreshing to go back to the basics!

Our sweet Mimi is a total chunk of a baby and after pulling out summer clothes recently, I realized that she can’t fit into a single pair of shorts her sisters wore before her!  I decided to pull out the Kid Shorts pattern from Made Everyday to whip her up a couple pairs.

GUYS, she’s not even 2 years old yet (her birthday’s in a few weeks) but I ended up making her a size FOUR!  Her little thighs and belly are hilariously chubby.  In fact, her waist measurement is a whopping 1/2″ smaller than Kira’s, who is almost 6…haha!

I love all three of these pairs; I made the shorter racer shorts with bias trim for two of them because they are THE easiest ever!  Seriously, after cutting out fabric, I think they each took me about 20 minutes to sew.  A great way to amp up a kid’s wardrobe in just one afternoon.

I think the cute animal print pair are my favorite…which do you like best??

DIY Nursing-Friendly Nightgown

The first few weeks after having a baby are my favorite; it’s the only time you’re allowed to just sit around in pjs all day long, resting, eating whatever you want and snuggling a precious new baby.  Life doesn’t get any better!

Today I’ve got a tutorial for the perfect postpartum nightgown: long, stretchy, lots of coverage and nursing-accessible!  Of course you can make one even if you don’t have a new baby, and if you leave off the placket, it’s a super quick project!

(Be sure to subscribe to my new weekly newsletter to get all the latest tutorials in your inbox!)

Supplies:

2 yards very stretchy knit fabric
4 matching buttons (if attaching optional placket)
10″ x 10″ piece of lightweight fusible interfacing
coodinating thread

1. Find the stretch of your fabric and fold in half with the stretch running horizontally (perpendicular to the fold).  Cut out front and back of nightgown according to diagram (the diagram show just the front bodice being cut out on the fold, but you’ll need to cut out a back as well!).  Cut out sleeves and placket also, ensuring that the stretch runs across the width of the sleeves.

2. Lay your front and back pieces on top of each other, right sides together.  Sew along the shoulders and side seams, using a stretch stitch or serger, Press seams well.

3. Sew underarm seams of sleeves by folding sleeve in half lengthwise, RST, and stitching along the long raw edge, using a stretch stitch.  Press well and repeat with second sleeve.

4. Turn bodice inside out and sleeve right side out.  Insert your sleeve into the sleeve opening of bodice (insert narrower opening in first!), matching up raw edges and underarm seam with bodice side seam.  Stitch sleeve to bodice using a stretch stitch; press well.

5.  Fold under raw edges of sleeves and bodice hem and topstitch using a double needle; press well.  You can also choose to leave your sleeves and hem raw since knit doesn’t fray!

6.  Create neck facing: Measure the circumference of your neckline and subtract 1-2″ (you want your facing to be shorter than your neckline so that it pulls the neckline taut when sewn together.  How much shorter depends on the stretch of the fabric…here I cut mine 2″ shorter that the neckline because my fabric was super stretchy; if your fabric is less stretchy, try making it just 1″ shorter.  It’s kind of a trial and error thing!)  Cut out a neck facing measuring 1″ x the length you just calculated (neckline minus 1-2″).  Sew short ends of facing, right sides together, to create a loop.

7.  Pin facing to neckline, right sides together, stretching facing to distribute evenly around neckline.  Stitch facing to neckline using a 1/4″ seam allowance and a stretch stitch, again stretching facing to fit.  Press facing & seam allowance away from bodice, and then press raw edge of facing under 1/4″.  Fold facing to inside of garment, pressing again.  Topstitch facing to bodice, close to folded edge, using a stretch stitch.

This video is a great resource for sewing a knit facing, in case you haven’t done this technique before!

8.  OPTIONAL button placket: Cut a rectangle out of the center front of your your nightgown measuring 10″ x 1″.  Here I’m gonna save you the chore of reading a really wordy explanation that doesn’t make any sense and instead have you watch this video! It’s a great, simple explanation for inserting a placket.  (Note: I used a very lightweight interfacing because I was using a very thin knit fabric…you don’t want to go too much heavier than your fabric!)

And voila!  A perfectly cozy, comfy nightgown perfect for lounging with or without a new baby!

My (Super Small) Sewing Space

Is a lack of space cramping your creative style?  You can still make awesome stuff without a dedicated sewing room!

In my dream home, I have my very own office/studio, and it’s AMAZING…you ready for it??  It’s about 150 square feet, painted a cool gray with gorgeous white trim and vaulted ceilings.  There are built in bookshelves everywhere, huge windows overlooking my gorgeous green yard and like 4 huge wide tables for cutting out fabric and patterns and collecting miscellaneous crafty crap.

*Sigh* But back here on planet earth, I live in a 2300 sq ft house with 8 children.  Finding space for my creative hobbies isn’t always the biggest priority so I’ve had to figure out the best way to make do for the past few years.  Having a dedicated space to do what you love is important; even if it’s just a tiny corner of a dining room table.  So here’s a peek into my creative corner!

My sewing space currently resides in a shadowy corner of my family room in the basement.  This room also functions as a homeschool room, play room and media room…so it is FULL.  One of these days I’ll organize and decorate the whole thing so I can show it all to you.  We’ve got 2 full bookcases, 2 long Ikea tables, 6 chairs, a gigantic sectional, a school supply/toy closet and fabric closet.  It’s a hot mess but it allows me to be close to the little kids while I sew which ensures that I get a lot more creating done than if it was all in a separate room!

When designing this space, I knew I wanted an L-shaped configuration for my sewing machines and ironing board so that I can stay seated and make a sewing project from start to finish (I’m very lazy).  One of these days I think I’ll get a comfy swivel desk chair so that it’s even easier to move around!  I’ve got my regular sewing machine on the left (it’s also an embroidery machine) and my serger on the right.  Behind the machines I installed two metal rods to hang little white storage buckets.  These hold everything from seam rippers to scissors to markers and tape measures.  They’re really roomy and are strong enough to hold several pairs of heavy scissors!  The little clear box to the right of my serger holds all my bias tape and a few odds and ends.

I use the drawers on the right to hold just about everything else I could ever need while sewing: the top drawer holds pins, tape, chalk, etc.  The others store ribbon, elastic, zippers, buckles, snaps…you name it!  The big wide drawers on the left hold my button collection as well as all my really large paper patterns.  My favorite way to keep these patterns together is to take a large piece of cardstock, fold it in half and staple two of the open sides together.  These fit perfectly into the drawers and keep me from having to fold big patterns more than a couple times to store.

Behind my machines, I chose to hang pretty stuff and magazine cut outs of inspiring clothing designs.  While I love the idea of a pegboard to hang all my tools like many sewists use, we’re so tight on space that our “television” is actually a projector screen that pulls down and partially covers this part of the wall.  So the stuff I hang on it has to be fairly flat so that it doesn’t damage the screen.  It’s worked out pretty well!

In the back corner I have my stash of sewing books and smaller paper patterns inside 3-ring binders.  I also keep my big clear rulers here (out of the reach of naughty children who have broken about 3 of them already) and my big cutting mats get stored behind my machines against the wall.  My favorite part of my machine table is the power strip!  I used Command strips to adhere it to the table and plug everything into this strip.  That way, when I want to work, I just have to flip one switch to bring everything to life.  And then when I walk away I switch it off so I never forget to turn off the light or a machine or my iron (totally did that for years before this setup).

You can see a bit more crap stashed under the back corner of the table: I’ve got a bag full of cross-stitching supplies under there, padding for my dress form and more (and more and more) patterns.

Under my thread supply, I keep this pretty metal basket full of fabrics in my “queue”.  Anything that really inspires me or that I’ve bought for a specific purpose goes here so that it doesn’t get lost to die a sad and lonely death in my fabric closet (under the basement stairs).  I love seeing the pretty patterns and dreaming of how I’ll put them to use.  Way above the thread rack, I screwed in two hooks (these big ones are from the hardware store and are designed to hold bikes on a garage wall) to store all my rolls of paper: carbon tracing paper, swedish tracing paper, medical paper, rolls of interfacing, fusible web, etc.

Finally along that left part of the corner, I have my mini ironing board and iron, as well as more pretty storage on the wall.  I love, LOVE this circle shelf because it’s super cute and gives me a place to keep contraband up high.  My kids are pretty good about not getting into my sewing stuff (on penalty of death) but if the littles are being stinkers one day, I’ll stash my pins & needles up here as well as candy (or other sewing treats that are not for children) in that little bowl on the top shelf…what they don’t know won’t hurt them!

And that’s about it!  It’s not the fanciest or the most well organized but it works pretty great for me at this stage of life.  I often use the kids’ school tables for cutting out patterns…or just the floor.  I tend to make a big mess when I sew at night because I can, but it’s nice to have a place to put everything back in order when it’s time to clean up.

Let me know if you have any questions…and I’d love to know if you also have a teeny tiny sewing or crafting space.  Let’s hear any other tips out there for being creative without a full room at your disposal!

SOURCES

Table top, skinny drawer unit, wide drawer unit, chair, pendant light, white storage buckets & rods, and white magnet boards – Ikea || Sewing/Embroidery machine – Bernina Artista 180 (bought used on eBay)|| Serger – Brother 1034D || Thread rack, iron  – Amazon || Circular shelving unit, clock, gold cup, similar decorative bowl, metal basket & plastic (bias tape) basket, ironing board, gold baskets & mounting rail behind ironing board – Target || Instax camera – Amazon || abstract art on circle shelf – Candy Kirby Designs ||other handmade art – Pen and Paint || snowy barn art – painted by yours truly

DIY Girl’s Leotard

Make your little girl her own unique leotard, and save a ton of money while you’re at it, with this free pattern & tutorial!


I’m so excited about today’s DIY because it’s so cute, fun and functional!  My girls LOVE leotards, whether they’re jumping on the trampoline, doing gymnastics & dance classes or just dressing up.  The only problem is, if you want anything other than plain black, they’re ridiculously expensive!

After making swimsuits for the girls last year, I decided it couldn’t be all that hard to make my own leotards.  And turns out, it isn’t!  Really!  The best part is that you can give your little girl as much coverage as you’d like.
Read on for the full tutorial and free pattern!

NOTE: the pattern fits about a size 6, but scaling it up or down is not too difficult.  It’s designed for a little girl with a crotch-shoulder measurement of about 36″ (loop a measuring tape from one shoulder, down your model’s front, between her legs and up the back to the same shoulder).  You’ll just need to add or subtract inches from the center of the leotard in order to go up or down a few sizes.

If going up or down more than 2 sizes, you’ll also need to add/subtract a bit of length in the shoulder straps.  Performance fabric is super stretchy though, so it’s very forgiving!  You might try laying a swimsuit that fits your little girl on top of the pattern and seeing where you need to make adjustments.

You’ll need:

*Printed copy of the free pattern (download here – make sure your printer’s set to “do not scale” or “print at 100%” before printing! Overlap short edge of each page with the next without trimming & tape together)
*1/2 – 1 yard of performance lycra or spandex blend (i.e. swimsuit fabric) My favorite source for cute prints is The Fabric Fairy!
*1.5 – 2 yards clear elastic (like this kind)
*coordinating thread

STEP 1: Cut out the paper pattern and decide whether you want to do any color blocking or stripes.  For Kira’s leotard here, I  decided I wanted two diagonal stripes (black and pink) running across the front.  I drew the stripes where I wanted them on the pattern, then cut out a center panel of the pattern piece.

I cut out the top and bottom of the leotard front out of the floral fabric, and then used the center strips I cut out from the pattern to cut black and pink strips.  NOTE: you’ll always need to add a seam allowance (I used 1 cm) where you’ll be sewing these pieces together.  For example, I added an extra 1 cm to the top and bottom of both the pink and black stripes before cutting and sewing them to each other and then to the top and bottom floral pieces.

Also cut 1 leotard back and 1 gusset out of matching or coordinating fabric.

STEP 2: Sew front and back pieces, right sides together, along the shoulders and side seams, leaving the crotch unsewn for now.

STEP 3:  Sew gusset to inside front of leotard (wrong sides together), matching up one short end of gusset with raw edge of leotard front.  Sew along this short edge and both sides of gusset (leaving the other short end loose).  Then match up the leotard back and front crotch and sew, right sides together.

STEP 4: Here comes the only tricky part! Measure your model around her shoulders and upper thigh, where you want the edge of the leotard to sit.  Keep the measuring tape taut, but not too tight.  Then cut a piece of elastic about 2 cm SHORTER than this measurement, for all 4 openings (2 arms and 2 legs).  Do the same for the neckline, for a total of 5 pieces of elastic. Be sure to not mix them up!

STEP 5: Stitch the elastic to the edge of each opening using a zig zag stitch, stretching slightly as you go so that the elastic fits the opening.  I overlap it a teensy bit where the elastic edges meet.  (This is a good time to try leotard on your model and adjust opening if necessary!)
Then fold the raw edge under to hide the elastic and topstitch close to the fold, again using a zig zag stitch.  Repeat for all openings.

**If you have trouble getting any of the openings to fit correctly, you can also try basting the elastic in place and then trying it on your little one.  After you do it a couple times you’ll get the hang of it!

Voila!  Aren’t you so proud of your mad skills??  Now go whip up 3 more and make all the little girls in your life squeal with joy! (and save yourselve oodles of dough.)

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DIY Reversible Shopper Tote

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Hey all!  I’ve got a quick, fun bag tutorial for you today.  These are seriously so easy and super addicting to make!  While I’m usually all about making clothes for me and the rugrats, bags place a close second on my list of addicting projects.  If I let myself, I could sew up more bags than a girl could ever use in a lifetime!

My aunt emailed me a while ago with pictures of a bag just like this that she bought on vacation.  She said she used it all the time and was really hoping to recreate some at home for gifts.  I was happy to help her figure it out and came up with this cute shopper tote!  They’re perfect for the library, grocery store, soccer practice, ballet class – you name it!  Plus the reversible factor just makes it that much more fun.  In fact, I think I’ll whip some up for Halloween treat bags!

I’ve already made 5 of them…the 3 not pictured were sewn up in an annoying My Little Pony fabric that my girls INSISTED I buy…I’m such a sucker! I’ve included a downloadable pattern for the adult size I’m holding here and the kid size Kira has.  My girls really loved the smaller size and I like to pack mine full of as much crap as possible.

FYI: The tutorial has LOTS of pictures…not because it’s hard but just because it’s easier that way!   Ready??  Click Read More below!

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DIY Kimono Sleeve Maxi Dress

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Fact: It’s September, yet Phoenix weather is still ridiculous.

Fact: I’m pregnant and not yet cutely so.

Ergo, flowy dresses for the win!  When I realized that I couldn’t make it through the week without wearing one particular knit dress more than 3 times, I decided it was time to make something that felt like pajamas but looked just slightly more upscale.  What with all the loose 70’s top and dress trends right now, it’s a GREAT time to be chubby!

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Infinite A-line Hack: Ruffled Top

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Is everyone ready for another Infinite A-line pattern hack?  I really do use this pattern as a base for any and all woven tops and dresses for my girls.  It makes things so easy!

This little ruffled number came about after I goofed up a romper I was working on, but I think I like how this turned out even better.

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First, I cut out the ruffled bodice (View D), sleeve ruffles and bodice lining.  I went with size 12 mo and even though this one fits pretty well, next time I’ll go up to 18 mo so that it’s a little easier to get on.

I sewed the bodice all together, following the instructions for View D through step 14 on page 14 (ending with the bodice roll technique).  I also added the keyhole opening as instructed on page 16.  Then I basted the raw edges of the bodice hem together and set it aside.

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Next, I measured the circumference of the bodice opening (mine was about 22″). For the waistband, I cut out a strip of contrasting fabric measuring the number I just measured (22″ for me) + 3/4″ for seam allowances x about 3″ wide.  So mine was 3″ x about 23″.  I stitched the short ends of the band together to create a big loop, pressed and finished the seam allowance, then stitched it to the bottom of the bodice, all the way around.

I finished up by creating the ruffle.  My ruffle piece was 4.5″ wide x about 50″ long.  If you cut your ruffle about double the length of your waistband, then that’ll give you a nice gather.  I sewed the short ends together again to form a loop, and then hemmed one long end.

The fabric I used was a slippery rayon, so I folded the raw edge under 1/8″ and stitched it down.  Then I folded it under another 1/8″ and stitched it down again.  This keeps unwieldy fabrics in place better than just pressing a double hem and trying to stitch it all in one go.

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Lastly, I gathered the top raw edge of the ruffle until it fit the circumference of the waistband, pinned it in place and basted it to the band.  Once I made sure all the gathers looked nice, I stitched the two together and serged the raw edges and one billion random threads coming out everywhere.  (WORST part of gathering, amiright?)

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And that’s it!  A super quick and simple hack.  Did I mention Mimi loves it?  She kept playing with the ruffle all day!  And her chubby little unsteady walk gives me all the heart eyes.  New walkers are the cutest when they’re off exploring their little world!

If you still don’t have a copy of the Infinite A-line Pattern, you can get it HERE. And if you want to see all the hacks I’ve created with it so far, click HERE!

(This floral fabric I bought from Indiesew ages ago, as well as the flowy coral from Joann Fabrics.  Making headway on that stash!)

 

Spotted Sheath Dress DIY

This easy tutorial and free pattern will have you whipping up a cute pullover style sheath dress in no time!

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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!

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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!