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DIY

  • Mood Style: Sewing a Chanel-Style Jacket

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    Sometimes inspiration comes from the oddest places. In this case, I knew I wanted to make a Chanel-inspired jacket with one of Mood's fantastic new tweeds, but I just couldn't find the right pattern for it. Should I go classic? Should I do something with a little twist?

    Cut to me stumbling upon a Sailor Moon costume pattern. That's right, this classy blazer was inspired by a sailor scout uniform. Crazy how versatile patterns can be sometimes!

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    Fabrics & materials used:

    I went with view A of Simplicity 1092, choosing to also add a lining of the black cotton sateen. In lieu of bias-bound edges, I hand-stitched some 1/4" gold and black trim, which matched the main fabric perfectly and brought out the subtle metallic gold in the tweed beautifully!

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    The pattern also called for some hook and eye closures along the front, but I substituted them for 5 snaps to make it a little more stable when closed.

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    Ultimately, I think it's an interesting little jacket, especially for the upcoming holidays! The unique lapel gives it an almost off-the-shoulder kind of feel, which would look absolutely stunning with some jewelry.

    Are you going to be making anything similar soon? Which fabrics would you make it with?

  • All About Fabric Care: Luxury Fabrics

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    With all the types of fabric blends, cleaning materials, and temperature settings, maintenance and care for fabrics can be pretty confusing and intimidating! There are some general rules such as don't over-wash and when in doubt, use cold water, but the rules and methods of care do go a bit deeper than that... depending on the fabric, of course!

    That's why we've decided to create this series of care and methods for fabrics! In this series of guides, we'll give you short and easy lists for your reference that will note qualities of the fabrics, how to wash them (or not wash them), and when it's safe (or not!) to iron a fabric! We'll start with a small group--the Luxury fabrics--consisting of Silk, Velvet, Wool, and Leather.

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    Spun from organic fibers, silk fabrics are probably one of the easier fabrics to recognize because of it's subtle sheen and smooth texture. Silk glides over the body when worn, it drapes beautifully, and it breathes well, making it a very popular choice to wear. It's also a natural fiber that's strong and durable, so it will last a long time if you take good care of it! Silks also come in a large variety of prints and design due to their capacity for taking dyes well, which gives seamstresses lots of options to work with.

    However, because of their organic qualities, silk fabrics can be damaged easily if you're not careful. Generally speaking, excessive heat is a big "NO" for silks. Sunlight, direct ironing, hot water--these conditions can cause things like fading, yellowing/browning/burning, and shrinking in silks. These methods should be avoided unless the tag of your garment or fabric reads otherwise when caring for silk fabrics.

    With that said, silks may be sturdy in their weaving, but due to the blends they are used in, their care requirements can vary. When it comes to silks, always make sure to consult the directions or tags for your garment or fabric, and never store silk products in direct sunlight. When it doubt, keep them dry and cool!

    If you'd like to see some silk fabrics, start here!:

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    Did you know that velvet fabrics aren't just one type of fabric like cotton or silk, but that they're actually a combination of layers of different types of fabrics? This fuzzy and textured beauty is known for it's thick and plush feel, and the wonderful stretch makes it a popular comfort fabric. It's also a great fabric for autumn and winter because of how warm it is!

    Caring for your velvet is more straight-forward than caring for silk, but it does still take a bit of work. Generally, cool water is best to clean velvet with, because keeping velvet in high temperatures can damage or shrink it. This is another fabric that you should always consult your tags or directions with for the best care methods for each individual garment or fabric of velvet.

    One important thing to keep in mind, though, is that you should never iron velvet.Velvet has its own unique texture, whether you're working with crushed velvet or not, and ironing can ruin this!

    To remove major wrinkles like creases and folds, use a steamer on the wrong side of the fabric. Steamers remove wrinkles quickly without ruining velvet's texture.

    If you'd like to see some velvet fabrics, start here!:

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    Wool_JPEG

    Wool fabrics are a durable and functional fabric! They're known for their thick, scratchy layers, and they're great at keeping you bundled up and warm in the winter. Some wools are softer, especially when blended with other fabrics, and they look best when made into jackets and other garments that require a solid shape! Mature tones and patterns are their game, and they look good with them for a reason. Wools also last a long time; they're flame- and dirt-resistant, and they dry quickly (thanks to the natural fibers!).

    Wool doesn't need a lot of maintenance, but when it does need it, dry-cleaning is the only option. You may think that throwing it in for a quick wash will be fine, but your wool really doesn't need it! Because wool dries quickly, it doesn't hold onto odors or stains, and over-washing fabrics can wear them away if they're not built to be worn down. Wool is one of these fabrics--keep it simple and take your wool to a dry cleaner only when needed!

    Ironing wool takes just as little maintenance; low heat setting and on the wrong side of the fabric or garment. Ironing wool can leave iron marks, so ironing on the wrong side can help prevent these from being visible should any get left behind.

    If you'd like to see some wool fabrics, start here!:

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    Leather is a fabric made from the skin of animals like cows, pigs, and lamb and is most notable for its tough exterior that resists wear and tear, and when treated for it, leather can be water- and fire-resistant, making it a great and long-lasting fabric to work with. A fabric this unique this requires a special  kind of TLC to maintain!

    Because leathers are cured with chemicals during manufacturing, they require special care or dry-cleaning in all cases. Leather is designed to look and function best when it is bone-dry, which means NO washing, steaming, or water for leathers! Excessive heat must also be avoided! Do your best to keep leather away from both extremes; store your leather fabrics and garments in cool and dry places, and if you need to get a piece of leather cleaned, take it to a specialty cleaner. It's a bit inconvenient, but it's necessary to keep your leathers safe!

    If you must iron your leather, you can under two conditions: you must use a very, very low setting as well as a piece of heavy paper for a press cloth. Do not iron your leather directing with your clothing iron. Work slowly and carefully, and only iron as needed (which shouldn't be often!).

    If you'd like to see some leather fabrics, start here!:

    . That's all for luxury fabrics! These are some of the most common fabrics used in fashion sewing, so it's important to know how to take care of them. The last thing you want to do is ruin a beautiful fabric! Do you take good care of your fabrics? Did this article help you learn what to do for your garments when they need cleaning? If you have any stories about caring for types of fabrics, please share them with us!
  • Mood DIY: Free Reversible Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    I love the bomber jacket trend, and ever since I made my first one back in the fall, I knew I wanted to make more. This time, I drew up a pattern for the original women's version and I decided to try one for men too!

    The jacket is completely reversible, so you can essentially have 2 jackets in one, complete with pockets. The one I made in September gave off two very different styles, which I loved. For this one, I kept the inside pretty simple - just navy lining and solid black rib knit. The outside, however, was made with a gorgeous abstract brocade, the same navy lining for the sleeve, and one of Mood's brand new rib knits featuring two dark navy stripes. All-in-all, it looks awesome.

    If you'd like to try out the jacket for yourself, YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE FREE PATTERN HERE. When laying out your pattern, it should be 6 pages across and 4 pages down. On the first page of the PDF, you'll find a test square and a size chart.

    Recommended fabrics: brocade, jacquard, satin, canvas, faux leather, heavy knits, wool, and medium-weight lining.

    Fabrics & materials I used:

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    Pattern Pieces:
    • 1: Front (Women's)
      • Cut 2 of Fabric, mirrored
      • Cut 2 of Lining, mirrored
    • 2: Sleeve (Women's)
      • Cut 4 of Lining (or 2 of lining, and 2 of outer fabric)
      • Cut 2 of Interfacing
    • 3: Pocket
      • Cut 4 of Lining (or 8 of lining if making jacket reversible)
    • 4: Rib Knit Collar
      • Cut 1 of Rib Knit Trim
    • 5: Back (Women's)
      • Cut 1 on fold of Fabric
      • Cut 1 on fold of Lining
    • 6: Front (Men's)
      • Cut 2 of Fabric, mirrored
      • Cut 2 of Lining, mirrored
    • 7: Sleeve (Men's)
      • Cut 4 of Lining (or 2 of lining, and 2 of outer fabric)
      • Cut 2 of Interfacing
    • 8: Rib Knit Collar
      • Cut 1 of Rib Knit Trim
    • 9: Back (Men's)
      • Cut 1 on fold of Fabric
      • Cut 1 on fold of Lining

    1. If making the women's cut of this jacket, begin by sewing the darts on the front panels. This is the main difference between the two patterns.

    2. Sew the pockets onto the bottom corners of the front and back panels, right sides together so they pull out like you see below. The longer side of the pocket pieces should run along the bottom of the jacket, not the sides.

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    3. Place the front and back panels right sides together, lining up the pockets from the bottom. Sew along the dotted line you see below, around the pocket and up the remainder of the side seam.

    4. Pin and/or staystitch the pocket toward the front panel.

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    5. If using lining for your outer layer sleeves, reinforce them with interfacing before sewing them together.

    6. Attach the front and back panels at the shoulders and attach the sleeves, right sides together.

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    7. Follow steps 1-6 for the lining, skipping the interfacing if desired.

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    8. Pin and sew the rib knit collar to the right sides of both, the lining and the outer layer like you see above and below.

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    (For your cuffs and waistband, the lengths can vary depending on how tight/stretchy you'd like them. For this one, the cuffs were 8" and the waistband was a full 36".)

    9. The cuffs aren't difficult to sew, however they are a bit difficult to explain. Begin by placing a cuff inside one of the sleeves, right sides together. Sew the cuff while stretching it, or gather the sleeve and use a zig-zag stitch to avoid losing any stretch.

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    10. Attach the cuff to the sleeve lining the same way; however, since the other end of it is now attached to the outer layer, it takes some interesting maneuvering like you can see below.

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    11. The waistband also attaches to the outer layer and lining. I recommend zig-zag stitching the inside of all the rib-knits to ensure that they stay folded perfectly in half and don't move around, skewing your jacket. Gather the back panel to keep some stretch in the waistband.

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    12. Turn the jacket right-side out and sew in a reversible zipper to complete your new bomber!

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    Free Bomber Jacket Sewing Pattern

    What fabric combinations are you going to use for yours? I'd love to see some finished projects!

  • Silk-Cotton Statement Jacket

    We all know how important it is to have all the basic wardrobe staples right? A crisp white shirt, perfect fitting jeans, and a pair of nude pumps to name a few. So how do you keep these items rotating seamlessly season to season? By mixing in a great statement piece of course! I love a good abstract, geo, or in this case ikat print. So as soon as I saw this fabric, I knew it was perfect for what I wanted to create! Here's what I used- Fabric: Oscar de la Renta Pink/Wine Ikat Silk-Cotton Satin Lining: Chocolate Brown Heavy Twill Lining Simplicity Pattern: #8093 The only change I made in the pattern was to shorten the sleeve to 3/4 length.  This silk-cotton is so nice to work with. It has the perfect amount of stiffness to achieve a structured look,  yet it's so soft and comfortable to wear. Not only did I use the heavy twill to fully line the jacket, I also used it as contrast fabric on the sides. Oh and by the way, I know I'm not the only one who hordes scraps of fabric. So why not create a little self rosette applique like I did. You can either sew it right on to the jacket or make a pin! I was so pleased with the outcome! I LOVE my new jacket, and I have so many items in my closet that would look great with it! Mission accomplished! Enjoy!

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  • All About Dress Silhouettes

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    Hello, and welcome to another All About article from Mood! This time we're talking about dress silhouettes and shapes!

    There are so many kinds of dresses out there that it can be a little daunting trying to wrap our heads around their little differences, and so we wanted to collect a handful of some of the more well-known and popular styles and provide some insights about their designs and what makes them each unique!

    Perhaps you're an at-home hobbyist looking into educating yourself on some professional fashion designing, or maybe you're a professional seamstress looking for some references to collect for your own convenience? For anyone and everyone, this article is here to help! We've created images and paired them with details and other tidbits of information to help you get through your project. Take a look below and see what styles you're familiar with, what's new, and maybe even some dress styles you already own!

    trapezeTRAPEZE

    A TRAPEZE dress is a dress style that is narrow at the shoulders and very wide at the hem of the dress. It’s like an A-LINE dress, but the TRAPEZE dress has a much wider hem than the A-LINE, and they often end below the knee.

         

     

             

    tentTENT

    A TENT dress is a style that is wide like the TRAPEZE dress, but the hem is flounced. TENT dresses also do not fall below the knee like the TRAPEZE dress usually does. Wear one of these for a bit more flare than you would wear on a casual day!                   a_line

    A-LINE

    The A-LINE dress is a popular style whose silhouette is narrow at the shoulders and gradually flares out towards the hem of the dress. This is where it gets its name from, because it’s shaped like a capital letter “A.” These dresses usually end somewhere at the knee or higher, never below. A-LINE styles are great casual dresses, but semi-formal settings work well for them, too!            

     

    pencilPENCIL

    The PENCIL dress style is one that sports a straight and narrow cut, which makes it fit close to the body. In more modern fashion, PENCIL dresses can be found with rather short hem lengths, but their original design is usually a hem that falls to the knee. Depending on the design, these dresses are nice for office-wear.                  

    bellBELL

    BELL dresses are a beautiful style that are cut fitted at the bodice, and they have a big, wide skirt that billows out in a bell shape. These dresses can be both short and long with hems ranging anywhere from the knee to the ankle. These types of dresses are more popular for semi-formal to formal social events and gatherings.                

    balloonBALLOON

    BALLOON dresses have a similar shape to the BELL dress, because they have the fitted bodice at the top and a wide hem, but BALLOON dresses are loose and flow. They have all the fabric of a BELL dress without the bell shape, so the hem bounces with you as you walk. This is where the “balloon” part of their name comes from! This style is a very cute one to show off and is great for casual and semi-formal wear!                

    mermaidMERMAID

    The MERMAID dress is a very formal and long style of dress. It is cut straight and narrow like the PENCIL dress to the knee, and from there the skirt flows out into a flounced hem. This is where the “Mermaid” name comes from—the dress looks like a mermaid’s tail! Sometimes the “tail” of these dresses are long enough to be considered a dress train. They’re a very elegant style.                

    tshirtT-SHIRT

    The T-SHIRT dress is a combined style of a PENCIL dress with short sleeves! Taking the straight cut and adding the short sleeves gives this dress design the silhouette of a capital letter “T”! This, like the TENT dress, is another style to wear when you’re looking for a bit more flare!                  

    EmpireEMPIRE

    The EMPIRE dress silhouette comes with a fitted and very high “waistline” that sits just below the bust. This gives the wearer the appearance of having a higher waistline. From the bustline, the dress is cut straight and loose, so it skims right along the wearer’s shape and ends with a hem at the ankle. The skirt of these dresses is gathered, too, so while the skirt is cut straight along the body, it flows. This longer style is another that is for a more elegant and formal occasion.              

    charlestonCHARLESTON

    The CHARLESTON dress has a silhouette that is semi-fitted at the top, has a square shape along the hem, and is always designed to leave the arms uncovered. The entire fit is loose, though, so it’s not narrow like the PENCIL design or fitted like the BELL design. Probably the most notable piece of this design, however, is the dropped waistline which sits at the hips instead of the waist. Another more colloquial name for this dress style is the “Flapper dress”! It’s an iconic style that was very popular in 1920’s America.              

    sheathSHEATH

    The SHEATH dress is the same as the PENCIL dress, except longer! Straight and narrow cut. But while the PENCIL dress hem doesn’t fall below the knee, SHEATH dress hems do! These hems don’t fall to the ankle, but usually just below the knee—never past mid-calf.                  

    fitnflareFIT’N’FLARE

    And lastly, the beloved FIT’N’FLARE dress! These dresses are often mixed up with A-LINE dress, since the FIT’N’FLARE design also sports a narrow top and wider hem, but the FIT’N’FLARE style is always fitted at the waistline whereas the A-LINE dress is not! These dresses are very popular today and are great for both casual and formal-wear occasions! Plus, they look good on most body types!                 And there you have it! Hopefully you've got a good grasp now on the different types and styles of dresses available for you to incorporate into your designs and projects! Have you sewn any of these kinds of dress shapes before? Which are your favorites to work with?
  • Mood DIY: Hooded Bell Sleeve Fur Jacket w/ Free Sewing Template

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    The fur jacket trend doesn't seem to be fading as autumn slowly turns to winter, and honestly I can't complain. With all of Mood's new faux furs hitting the site, I've been dying to work with more of them.

    My first venture into faux fur sewing was just a couple months ago, with a long vest you can find right here (I also explain the best way to cut and sew with fur!). For this project, I made the body of the jacket almost the exact same way, however I chose to crop it to just 18". Then, of course, came the sleeves and hood.

    To save you some work, I drew up a template of the hood I made. It's big and cozy, and should fit most adults! Below, I'll be explaining an easy way to draft a bell sleeve pattern.

    Fabrics & materials used:

    Hood Template Layout DOWNLOAD HOOD TEMPLATE HERE

    If you've never drafted a sleeve before, it's easiest to alter a sleeve pattern that you already know fits. For this one, I took a pattern piece from a button up shirt. Since, it's from something more form fitting than a jacket, I thought I might need to change up the top as well, but after measuring the curve and the arm hole of my jacket, I discovered they were both the same length - perfect!

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    Next, I needed to create the bell shape. I began by cutting 5 evenly spaced, straight lines from the bottom of the sleeve until about 1/4" from the top.

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    Each was then spaced out until I had the desired length at the bottom of the bell. Between the center two strips, I left two inches, then 3" and 5" respectively going outward.

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    The sleeve should be symmetrical, so I did the same measurements on both sides.

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    Lastly, I just needed to trace and connect the dots. The top and sides are very similar to the original sleeve, but the bottom now creates a slight curve!

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    Once all the pattern pieces are drafted, they go together pretty easily. The actual sewing of the jacket probably only took an hour. The side hood panels go on either side of the rectangular strip and the whole thing attaches at the neckline of the jacket.

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    The lining pieces are the same, so they get sewn together similarly. To attach the lining to the fur, I sewed it right-sides together, leaving a small opening along the bottom back to put it right-side out. A quick slip-stitch closed it up!

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  • Mood DIY: Patched Denim Moto Jacket

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    Patches, denim, and moto jackets - all three hit runways this past Fashion Week, and all three have made their way into today's project! Moto jackets are a great project since there are so many styles and directions you can go in. Make it in a classic leather for a daring look, or try a warm wool for the winter. This time I decided to give one of Mood's new denims a go; the drape is comfortable for a jacket and the herringbone design is absolutely beautiful.

    Fabrics & materials used:

    I went with the Larissa jacket pattern, excluding the elbow patches and tabs, and cut the collar, waistband, shoulder gussets, and under sleeves in a contrasting black denim.

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    I added three 3/4" spikes to each corner of the collar. The back screws off, so all I needed to do to install them was punch a small hole with an awl, insert the screw, and screw the spike on!

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    Mood has been growing the selection of patches and appliques, so I knew this was finally the project where I used some of the ones I've had my eye on. A varsity letter went perfectly on the lapel, and I added a sequined Drunk in Love patch on one of the pockets, because you can never have too much Beyoncé in your life. Each was hand-stitched on; make sure you don't accidentally sew your pocket shut!

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    As soon as I saw this beaded snake applique, I knew it need to creep over a shoulder so that's exactly where I placed it! I especially love that when the lapel and collar are down, you can see the snake's little head peeking out between them.

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    A buckle closure at the bottom of the zipper brought the whole thing together! Both of the denims I worked with went easily through the machine, which was great; and while the herringbone had a softer drape, the solid black was a little more stiff, so I was able to skip interfacing on the collar.

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    Now that it's done, I can't wait to add more patches! Which ones will you be adding to your moto jacket?

  • Mood DIY: Leather Card Holder

    I'm currently making my website for my leather goods brand, Brandhyze + Co, and thought...."hey, I'm gonna need a trusty new card case holder for my cards once they come in" (hope she doesn't mind, used my hairstylist's cards here to demo). :) So, I made a template, grabbed some leather from Mood Fabrics, and got to work folding and sewing -- it's really easy! You can add a snap, paint on your initials, etc...the possibilities are endless. Have fun making your own.Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 4.25.01 PMLeather Card Holder 2SUPPLIES: pattern, rotary cutter/scissors, 3-4oz leather, skiver, tragacanth, edge burnisher, edge note, a q-tip, needle and sinew. Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 4.22.44 PMHOW-TO: 1. Cut out the template, trace it on to the leather, and then cut it out of the leather. 2. I wanted the stiffness and "stand-up" that a slightly thicker leather would have, but that thickness also made the case hard to fold. So, I used a skiver to shave off some of the "flesh" of the leather to make my job a little easier. (Note: I learned this the hard way while making a duffle bag once...but you'll want to go a little slower until you get the hang of skiving, or else with a new blade you may shave a hole right through your leather). 3. After you shave some of the back off, there may be some leather sticking up along the edges. If so, use a little tragacanth and a burnishing wheel to smooth everything down. 4. Crack a window and lay down some paper towel or newspaper to coat the edges of your leather. I usually use about 2 coats and let it dry for about half hour before picking it up again. Lastly....I used a leather sewing machine, but feel free to use the method I always fall back on -- good ol' hand stitching (using the saddle stitch) like I did here. Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 4.25.01 PMBrandhyze Stanley is the chief voice of the award winning blog, Frugal-nomics.com; a platform designed to share with women how to live and look fabulous on a dime. A DIY girl at heart—Brandhyze has been featured on Dr. Oz, The View, The Today Show, InStyle Magazine, Essence Magazine, and MTVStyle. A Wilhelmina Model for over a decade, with a Business Degree from Loyola University Chicago, Brandhyze provides DIY content to the popular How-To Site, eHow; and has been a contributor for the Huffington Post, Yahoo Finance, Super Money, Good Housekeeping, and Newsday Westchester, to name a few. Brandhyze is a huge thrifter and a lover of all good deals, follow her on Twitter @MyFrugalnomics and on Facebook at Facebook.com/Frugalnomics

  • Leather Belt DIY

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    Belts are an essential part of any wardrobe, but they're often a rather pricey detail for such a small accessory, don't you think? Especially in the men's department; even though belts sold at stores boast high prices and quality, sometimes they don't even last a whole year! That's why I wanted to try making one myself and seeing how much of the price I could cut down. I was pleasantly surprised with the results, so I wanted to share them with all of you, too.

    This DIY is applicable for all types of fabrics or materials used for making belts, so whether you use a leather material like I did or even something like canvas or cotton, this tutorial will be good for you!

    Here's a list of what I used:

    Materials List

    - .25 YDs of Midnight Bottega Basketwoven Cow Leather - Any belt buckle - 279 Dark Midnight 100m Gutermann Sew All ThreadMood Brand Lia Sewing MachineDritz Grommet Plier Kit or  Dritz Tapered AwlDritz Tailor's ChalkDritz Size 3/9 Sharp Needles Optional: - Leather Binder or Rubber Cement - Piece of soft scrap fabric Style 2026 100/16 Singer Pins & Needles (good if using thick fabric/material) Making a belt is surprisingly easy. Don't be too intimidated by how long the page might seem; I think seeing will be easier than trying to just write the steps out, so there are lots of pictures with my notes! You can use the fabric that I listed in the materials list, but you can apply these tutorial instructions to pretty much any fabric you'd like! Once you have the basic idea down, sewing a belt together is a quick job! .

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    The first thing you should do is determine what buckle you want to use! Buckles range in all different sizes, styles, and widths, and whatever buckle you use will be crucial to deciding what size your belt will be. The buckle I used is  the bronze one in the picture above, so any measurements I talk about specifically are designed for that one.

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    Since you should have more than enough extra fabric to work with from your 1/4 yard of material, cut a couple of pieces off in the direction of the grain your fabric will be in for your final product and measure out how wide your belt will be. Don't just go by the width of the buckle's right side; your belt needs to be able to slide comfortably over the side where the clasp will rest on the left side. Sometimes the left side width is smaller than the right side because of rounded edges, so keep this in mind!

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    Take your test pieces and try them out. In the top buckle, 1.5" in. fit comfortably while the bottom one need an 1" in. width. It's very useful to test out the widths before attaching your buckles! After this, you should test to see what length you need for your strip of fabric. Take a tape measure and determine the width of your hips, or wherever your belt will be sitting when you wear it. Whatever number you come up with, add about 8-10" in. This should be the length of the fabric for your belt altogether! Keep this number in mind when you go to cut your fabric. I wanted a belt that was a little longer, and so I went with a 45" in. length and a 1" in. width.

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    Once you know how long and wide you need your belt to be, get to cutting! If your fabric is thick enough, you should only need one cut, but if you have a thinner fabric, you may want to double up or even add some thick interlining between the layers. A belt doesn't need to be incredibly thick, but it should be durable! You want your belts to last a long time. This fabric has a backing and is thick enough with just one layer, so I only needed to cut one piece for the belt.

    Just a note to add: the piece I cut here isn't the piece I used for my final product--it's wider. I wanted to make sure it would be big enough to see the differences. I trimmed this piece down further to the 1" in. measurement I needed for my bronze buckle after initially cutting this piece.

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    If your fabric has a pretty obvious grain, you may need to go back and trim the edges. With this leather fabric, I wanted to trim the sides so the edges lined up nicely with the squares of the basketwoven strips.

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    After you've trimmed your fabric down, you should trim the tail ends of your fabric strip! At least one tail end should be cut straight so that it has cornered edges. The other tail end you could be squared off as well, or you could round it off like I did here:

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    For this tutorial, the squared off end will be hidden and the rounded edge will be visible when worn! Depending on the shape you cut it into, it can change the entire look of your belt, so have fun and experiment!

    You should also take the time to double-check that your strip of fabric for your belt will fit now that it's trimmed down. Remember, the extra 8-11" in. will the be extra tail end of your belt that slips away in the belt loops of your pants when you wear it. You don't want this to be too long or too short; too long, and the belt will look too big, but too short, and the belt will look too small for you!

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    Once you have your piece shaped how you like it, go ahead and top-stitch your fabric . Make sure your bobbin as well as your spool of thread on top are full enough that you can stitch all around the border of your belt in one go! While this isn't mandatory, if will look best if you only have to back-stitch on the first squared end since it'll be hidden away later on! Work slowly and carefully--this top stitch will keep your belt together, but it will also look beautifully decorated if it's done well!

    For my belt, I did a top-stitch very close to the edge so that it was centered on the strips of the basketweave. If you're using a different fabric, feel free to guide to a 5/8" or 1/4" in. seam allowance. Start on the bottom corner of the tail end (where you can see I left the threads on the left side), go down the end, and then pivot at the corner to turn and continue all the way down the length of your belt.

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    Once you get to the other end, top-stitch according to whatever shape you made your other end into. Try to make sure this looks clean! Continue back down to the other end where you started again, back-stitch once your reach your the starting point, and trim your loose threads.

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    When you're done top-stitch, it should look nice and pretty!

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    Once your belt piece is done, put it to the side. We need to make a stay-loop for the belt now! Cut a small strip of your fabric that you're using. It should be thinner than the width you used for your belt and long enough to wrap around the width of your belt with a little extra to overlap with. Keep the edges squared. Make sure it's trimmed and nice, and then top-stitch it in the same way that you did your belt piece.

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     Next, you need to hand-sew your loop together. It shouldn't take much thread, but be extra careful if you're working with a thicker fabric. Invest in a thimble for hand-sewing with thicker fabrics--it'll save you a world of hurt!

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    When your loop is complete, slip it onto your belt!

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    For the next step, we need to cut a hole for where the arm of the buckle will go through. Measure about 1.5" in. on the end of the squared tail end of your belt and mark this spot in the center of the belt's width and then use your grommet hole cutter to punch a hole into the spot you marked. At this point, you could use your leather binder (if you're using leather like I did) or rubber cement to coat the raw edges of this hole you just punched to keep the fabric from coming apart. It's not completely necessary, but I recommend it if you're worried about the fabric fraying!

    You should now be able to slip the arm of your buckle through and fold the tail end to wrap around and behind the back of the buckle.

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    Use some Wonder Clips to hold the tail end in place and sew along the tail end to secure your buckle.

    And last but not least, we need to punch in holds for securing your belt when you wear it!

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    Try on your belt and slip it through your now-installed buckle. Find where you need the belt to be tightened to so it sits comfortably where you'll be wearing it and mark this point with your tailor's chalk. Remove your belt and use a tape measure to mark where the other holes need to be. I marked two on each side of the first marking I made about 1" in. apart each. This will allow you to use your belt regardless if you need it to be looser or tighter!

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    When you have your markings where you'd like them, take your grommet hole punch again and get to work punching holes over your markings. Here's a little tip: use a napkin or scrap piece of softer fabric to hold against the front when you punch the holes to keep the front of your fabric from coming out messy!

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    Clean buckle holes for your belt! Again, use your leather binder or rubber cement to seal these.

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    And now you should be done! Slip it on and try out your new fashion-forward belt you made for half the cost of what you see in stores. If you need to buy the tools, making a belt can be a little extra money, but once you have the tools to use, you can easily make more for a small fraction of the cost!

  • Mood DIY: African Print Peplum Shirt

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    The weather in NYC is impossible to predict, it seems. The sunny, 70 degree Friday afternoon when I made this shirt has since given way to ice rain as I write this. Boo!

    Luckily, peplums never seem to go out of season! Layering is key in the fall and winter, particularly around the holidays when you could find yourself sweltering next to a fireplace.

    Fabrics & materials needed:

    The McCall's dress pattern is listed as optional because any bodice pattern with princess seams will do the trick! For my shirt, I cut out View C (with no center seam) just down to the waistline. For the peplum, I essentially made a tiny circle skirt with the template below.

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    If you've never made a circle skirt before, fold your fabric in half along the weft and then again along the warp. One of your corners should have folds on either side, place that one at the top left.

    From that same corner, you should cut a small circle with an equal radius all the way around. To find yours, divide your waist size by 2(3.14). For example, a 31" waist will require a 5" radius.

    Once your radius is measured and marked, you can draw the bottom curve of your "skirt". Since it's just a peplum, I made my desired length about 10" from the radius.

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    Once everything was cut, it was time to pin!

    Rather than sew the shirt together normally, I chose to add some bias tape in between the seams. This gave the shirt an even more graphic feel, and also hid things a little better if the fabric design didn't line up perfectly. (Matching just doesn't seem to get easier!)

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    To keep some of the bulk down, and to use the least amount possible, I cut the bias tape down the middle. It was then placed between each seam, with the exception of the shoulders.

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    Once it was pinned between the fabric, it went through the machine normally with a 1/2" seam allowance.

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    The peplum was added last and the remaining raw edges were bound with the folded bias tape.

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    Finished, it's a fun and bouncy top that can be worn and styled for a plethora of occasions. Plus, it can be made out of so many different fabric types! What are you going to make yours with?

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