Self-Drafted DIY Ankara Dress

“……….They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3

Hey all!

How are you? It has been a minute since i’ve last blogged. I had such an amazing quarantine spring and summer experience. My business started to blossom again with a few wedding commissions. I enjoyed it. However, with the exception of today’s look, it made it difficult for me to find time to sew for myself let alone blog. Today’s look is a DIY dress that I made in July. It is self drafted. I pulled out my foundation patterns that I drafted back in design school and started putting my pattern making skills to work. The inspiration for this dress actually came from a vintage 70s DIY self drafted pattern that I’ve looked over time and again on Pinterest. Below is a picture of the inspiration piece. I felt inspired by the fabric to make something with a very earth mama vibe to it. 70’s is all about the earth mama vibes and this pattern seemed to fit the bill.

I actually made it to go to church. Our church was in service at a limited capacity in person for a short time in July. I love to wear dresses to church and I could see myself praising God in it. However, sadly I didn’t respond to the RSVP in time and missed the opportunity to go in person. Hence the dress has been hanging in my sewing room. Until today. I decided that I was going to have an impromptu photo shoot and share it with you all virtually.

I love the way it feels on my body. It fits nicely, and the cotton is soft and smooth. If feels like velvet on my skin. I call it my goddess dress because I feel very divine, pretty and powerful wearing it. I kept accessories to a minimum. Just my favorite go to gold hoops. For the shoot I stayed barefoot. It seemed very appropriate.

Not a whole lot of chat about how I made this dress. Just an opportunity to dance and smile in front of the camera and share my work.

Photo Credits: Asabea Christian (aka my daughter)

DIY Wrap Dress Using New Look 6581

As for this week’s post. I made New Look pattern 6581. This is such a great make. It’s easy and straight forward.

“Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.” Psalm 31:3 (NIV)

Hello Lovelies!

As we are finally approaching the end of winter, I appropriately scheduled this week’s post as my last winter make. As the weather is starting to warm up and daylight savings has already made its mark, I’ve started to crave  spring. I’ve even started a few spring makes and I can’t wait to share them with you.

The weather and my wardrobe aren’t the only things shifting. I’ve also been steadily working behind the scenes working out some changes to the blog.  I’ll be making some announcements in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

What I can share with you in greater detail today is my new website. I’ve been trying to figure out how to best bring together everything that I do under one website. I spent quite a bit of time working out logos, web hosting sites, domain names etc. and finally at the beginning of 2020 things started to fall into place.  I’m still tweaking things but overall I’m happy with what I have. You can check it out Here.

As for this week’s post. I made New Look pattern 6581. This is such a great make. It’s easy and straight forward. I made both the dress view A  and the pants view C. Wearing a head to toe pant set made from the same fabric is a bit over the top for me. I tend to like to mix and match things. However, I didn’t mind the finished look of the pant set.  It was a definite style change for me. but I definitely prefer wearing the dress separately.  

The fabric that I used was a mid-weight stable knit.  I bought it on super clearance from Joann’s back around Christmas.  I think I paid $18 for about 5 yards of fabric.  Its very warm as well, which is what I wanted for a winter dress.  

As I mentioned earlier this make was a pretty straight forward pattern.  The only design change that I made was to turn the straight sleeve into a bishop sleeve.  The other changes were for fit.  I did the following to adjust my pattern to fit my body:

  1. Shortened the bodice by 1inch to accommodate my short waist
  2. Increased the back rise of the pants by 3 inches to accommodate my fuller backside and shortened the front 3 inches as I do not carry a lot of weight around my stomach.
  3. The last thing that I did was to change the way that I finished my wrap neckline. I’ll go into a little detail about why below and then talk about how I did it.

The biggest reason I changed the way that I finished the neckline is because I don’t like the way commercial patterns finish knit wrap necklines.  They often tell you to either a) use woven bias tape or b) include a facing and instruct sewers to apply fusible interfacing.  I don’t like either of these methods because they both restrict the stretch of the fabric at the neckline.  While the neckline does need to be stabilized you still need the stretch in the fabric.  It’s the stretch that helps the fabric to mold around the curves of the bust and neck area on the body.  Without it you will have gaping.  

So I sought out to find a way to finish the neckline.  I could have approached it by using a knit bias tape but I opted not to do that as I didn’t really feel like cutting bias strips.  Instead I did the following:

  1. I used the facing pattern piece and cut it in the same fashion fabric as my dress.  I did not add interfacing as a stabilizer for the neckline.
  2. Instead. I sewed 3/8″ wide clear elastic to the neckline by sandwiching it in between the dress and facing along the neckline seam.  
  3. I finished the neckline facing by top stitching the facing down using my twin needle.
  4. I neatened up the facing by trimming back the excess facing fabric along the zig zag stitches.
  5. I smiled at how well my experiment turned out.

Overall I was happy with my results. I still had a bit of gaping at the neckline but that is because I needed to shorten the neckline a bit more to accommodate my small bust line. I opted to sew in a small snap closure to help keep the neckline from gaping.

I also think that If I used a different fabric that I could go without clear elastic.  This fabric was okay for this project but is better suited for knit pajamas or a lightweight sweatshirt and would respond better to ribbed knit trim finish.  I also might be overthinking it.  

As for styling.  You know me I keep it simple.  I layered the dress with this great light weight knit turtleneck and some statement earrings. I captured photos of me in both the pant set and as a dress worn with my black suede stiletto heeled boots.  Chic meets comfort in this outfit. Not to mention warm.  

Well that’s all for now. Until next time ……!

Little Black Dress circa 1970 Using McCalls 7802

I’ve begun to pray daily for the wisdom to make choices that help me to remain consistent in the face of pressure.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17 (NIV)

Hello Lovelies!

It’s another great week in Milwaukee, WI! Despite the drop in temperature and a few snow days, the sunshine has returned and overall the winter here has been mild. I’ll take it.

These last few weeks have been a little pressing as life as a single mom has been a bit hectic, but I am super grateful because this year I feel like God is really helping me to find balance through greater organization and self-care. I went back on my ketogenic diet plan. I talked a little bit about it on my Instagram stories earlier this week. I was pretty quiet about my keto journey and really didn’t talk about it to anyone outside of my immediate friend circle until earlier this week on my Instagram stories. I started my keto journey last year around the beginning of January and was pretty faithful to it. I lost about 20 pounds in 6 months. I’m still trying to get rid of at least another 30 pounds but I’m not in a rush.

I’m approaching this as a life style change. I’ve struggled with weight, food addiction and eating disorders my entire life. I’m at a point now where i’m exhausted and I just want to be healthy and balanced. Keto has helped me keep the inflammation in my body down, keep my sugar cravings in check and overall has blessed me with the energy that I need to keep up with my life . I started to make more time for the gym again and even joined my son’s Tae Kwon Do class to help with stress management.

It hasn’t been easy but God has been really showing me that life is about choices. I’ve begun to pray daily for the wisdom to make choices that help me to remain consistent in the face of pressure. The result is an Iris who frowns and complains less and trusts God and smiles more.

Which leads me to this week’s post. I smiled a lot while sewing this dress. I love, love, love vintage! I even have 2 great Pinterest boards for anyone who loves vintage that you can follow here and here . One is dedicated to vintage designer garments and another one is dedicated to vintage sewing patterns. Both are organized by decade so its easy to find the inspiration that your looking for.

Actually Mount Mary University has a great Archive dress collection that is so amazing! Some dresses date back to the late 1800’s. My draping class is making a visit on Monday to find inspiration for their final projects. I love going in there.

The inspiration for my came from 1970’s London Designer Label Biba. I love the aesthetic of Biba, Halston and DVF. Simple, elegant, and pretty. Below is an image of my inspiration.

I started with Mccall’s M7802 view b and the only modifications that I made to the pattern was to use an a-line flare skirt from another pattern that didn’t have the princess lines and I slashed and spread and raised the sleeve cap in order to create the fullness at the shoulder. I used a moderate stretch crepe knit fabric that was fantastic for this project. It was easy to work with and had enough body to give the sleeves the structure that it needed to hold its shape. The only change I would make in the future is to add an invisible zipper to the back. The stretch knit isn’t that stretchy and a zipper would make it a little easier to get in and out of. Otherwise this is a super comfy dress to wear. I styled it very simply with a pair of nude colored platform peep toed platform stilettos and boho inspired earrings in a similar color as my shoes.

I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so that I can wear this dress. I love the way it looks with a natural leg showing. It’s a versatile LBD that I think could be worn to a church, a wedding or a cocktail party.

Well thats all for now! Until next time…..

DIY Knit Dress Using McCalls 7999

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.……” Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

Hello Everyone!

It is my sincerest hope that you all have been approaching your new year with great expectation and a zeal to chase after your dreams. I’m super proud of myself as I walked into 2020 with a revived sense of purpose and a desire to approach each day focused and excited for where God is taking me. It hasn’t been easy and I had to make some life changes.

For one. I gave up coffee and sugar again and I feel so much better. I was developing a nasty caffeine addiction. I’ve given it up in the past but end up right back on the sauce. While I love my morning cup of coffee, I was using caffeine to give me energy so that I could get through my busy schedule. The caffeine and sugar highs were making it hard for me to focus, my stomach started to become bloated and I was starting to have mood swings.

So when my church went on our annual fast at the beginning of January and the list called for us to cut caffeine and sugar from our diet; I knew it was a help line from heaven to make the change I needed.

I did it gradually, but after 3 weeks, I knew I was in a good place. My mind is more focused and my body’s nervous system has quieted down. I feel less anxious. I’ve re-worked my schedule so that I’m not constantly running. If i’m feeling overwhelmed by teaching, business, ministry and family responsibilities, I take a small break on my light days. Even if it means taking a short nap. I started walking even in the cold weather. This year the winter has been mild. Our days have consistently been around 30 degrees. I bundle up real good and walk for 45 minutes. The walk gives me the boost I need but it also has done wonders to keep the winter blues away.

I’m super grateful for the shift. I am definitely finding my version of balance.

As for this week’s post. This is a long overdue review of McCalls 7999 view C. I made this dress back in November. I’ve worn it several times already and I even put out a sneak peak pic on my Instagram page last month. I’m just keeping it real with you all. (lol!) I looooooove! this pattern. This was such an easy make. I had the pattern cut, made a short waist adjustment and sewn within 2 hours. I sewed the entire dress with the exception of the collar using the flat construction method on my serger. I love flat construction when it makes sense to use it. Especially when sewing knits on my serger. It speeds things up as you sew and finish your edges at the same time.

The pattern is straight forward and beginner friendly. There are only 4 pattern pieces and I cut it for a size Large. My short waist adjustment and taking out another 1 inch of ease at the waist was the only fit adjustments that I needed to make. I used a medium weight moderate stretch knit. from Joann Fabrics. It was on a 70% off clearance corner. I think I paid a total of $12 for about 3 yards of fabric.

I love it because it’s warm and all I need is to put on some control top black tights for shaping, smoothing and extra warmth underneath. I decided to keep it on a street style vibe and wore my black patent leather platform oxfords and statement earrings. I’ve also worn it with a black leatherette jacket to add a little bit of interest and layering for colder weather.

Well… that’s all for now! Until the next time.

DIY Summer/Spring Round Up

“But let all who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice, Let them ever sing for joy; Because You cover and shelter them, Let those who love Your name be joyful and exult in You.”  Psalm 5:11

Hello Everyone!

I hope your week is going well! I’m a little behind on my post this week. I closed on my house last week Friday yaaay! And my children returned from their summer away with dad and I’ve been working on getting them ready for their first day of school. So It’s been a little hectic!

This week marks a benchmark for the blog. We made it through our first season! One of my blogging goals when I started The Modest Life was to have a place where I could develop and document my creative process.

So to have made it through our first season is a huge celebration for me. I’ve learned so much about blogging, but also about things like my personal style and photography. It has also challenged me to remain consistent and confident in what I create and share with you all!

So this week I thought it would be only fitting to post a round up of all of my spring/summer makes! I love them all but I definitely have a few favorites.  If you missed the original posts with the details of each make.  No worries!  I made sure to link to the orginal posts under each photo.  I’d love to hear in the comments which was your favorite look!

DIY Peplum Hem Skirt

DIY Top and Pants   

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DIY Evening Look

Upcycled Skirt Set with tutorial

Upcycled hi-lo top from a dress w/ tutorial

Sunday Wrap Dress

Denim Tent Dress

DIY Summer Dress

DIY Wrap Top

I also wanted to thank all of you for supporting The Modest Life. Your comments and likes of each post keep me encouraged to keeping going. I’m working on fall/winter and I can’t wait to bring you all what I hope to be really great content!

That’s it for now! Until next time!

❤️ xoxo,

Iris

DIY Summer Dress using McCalls 7774 & 7627

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”Matthew 5:16 (amp)

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”Matthew 5:16 (amp)

Happy Monday Everyone!

I pray that this week has greeted you with excitement and anticipation for a great productive week ahead!  That was my prayer this morning.  I’ve been busy lately and started to feel a little run down but I decided to give myself a very lazy Sunday in order to prepare for this week.  Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to do that.

This weeks post is a DIY Dress that I have been slowly bringing together over the course of the last 2 weeks.  I knew what I wanted initially but as I was putting the pieces together I found myself taking a more organic design process.  Making changes to the design as I went along.

Inspiration

This dress was inspired by a lot of the very feminine and soft dresses that i’ve been seeing on the runway. Spring/Summer 18 designers featured them and the trend is extending into fall 18 as well.  I knew I wanted something soft and feminine but also practical.  Something that I would actually wear.

Fabric

This is an Ankara print that I purchased from House of Mami Wata .  She has an etsy shop and I am really enjoying her print selection.  She also has very prompt delivery.  I got my fabric in 2 days.  I chose this fabric because at first glance it just looks like a regular cotton floral print but it has a textured black background that lets you know that its a wax print.  Which I  love.  Here is an upclose picture of it.

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What I did

  1. I used McCalls 7774 view C for the skirt.  While I liked the gathered waistline as well as the pockets I didn’t like that the bottom was just an attachment to add length.  I wanted more of a flounce or ruffled bottom.  So I slash and spread the bottom pattern piece adding about 10-12 additional inches to the pattern piece which added an additional 20-24 inches of  fullness to the hemline.  It gave the dress a more dramatic flare.
  2. For the bodice I used McCalls 7627.  I have been playing with wrap dresses and tops all summer and wanted to play with a faux wrap bodice for this dress.  It gave me an attractive neckline and because I made this pattern already for the Sunday Wrap Dress I knew that the bodice would fit.  The only thing I did was add 2 inches to the wrap front so that it would extend completely to the side seam.  This made the dress more comfortable to wear and gave me complete coverage in the bust area.
  3. The other change that I made was to shorten the dropped shoulder to end at my shoulder line so that I could add a sleeve.
  4. For the sleeve this is a self drafted flounce sleeve.  Which is basically a circle skirt on my arm so to speak.  I just measured the circumference of the bodice armscye and followed the instructions for finding the circumference of a circle skirt.
  5. I didn’t follow any of the instructions for this pattern and I tried a few new finishing techniques which I was very happy with the results of.  I installed my very first lapped zipper which I am really enjoying and plan on doing again.  I used black single fold bias tape to finish the hem of the dress instead of a double fold hem and for the sleeve I used my serger on the narrow napkin fold hem setting to give it a clean finish.

Style it

This dress has it going on all by itself. (lol!)  The print is so bold and the flounce hem and sleeve only add to the character of the dress that I decided to keep the accessories to a minimum.  It needed a belt to break up the print and I found this burgundy colored belt with a gold buckle at Target for $15. and the shoes were a recent purchase from the DSW clearance rack for $30.  They are Madden Girl.  I chose them because it gives the dress a modern edge and me the height that I need to balance out the fullness of the dress.

This weeks photo shoot was fun.  I have to thank my long time sewing student Yvett for being this weeks photographer.  This is her last year of high school and then she’s off to fashion design school.  I love her drive and focus.  A great young person! who does some cool stuff with an iphone camera!

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Well thats it for now!  Have a blessed week!

xoxo!

Iris

 

DIY Denim Tent Dress using New Look #6511

This weekend had a few highlights and today’s DIY denim tent dress was definitely one of them.

“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:29

Hello Everyone!

Happy Monday!  I hope your weekend was as refreshing as mine was!  I really enjoyed myself its 2 weeks and counting before my kids come back from their summer away with their dad.  And while I miss them, I have been really enjoying my time off.  So i’m trying to get my list of things I wanted to enjoy this summer completed before their return. Some of them being going on a hike (never done that and this year I said I was going to do it.), take a summer river boat cruise and visit the Wisconsin State Fair.  I know nothing too exciting but things I have never done or haven’t enjoyed in a while.  

This weekend had a few highlights and today’s DIY denim tent dress was definitely one of them.  I finished it late last week and had the opportunity to wear it this weekend.  It was a hit everywhere I went.  I got compliments like:  ” That is the cutest denim dress ever!” and I love that dress your wearing!  Its so sassy!”  I’m a pretty shy person by nature so compliments can be hard for me to receive because of the attention.  but because I designed and made it.  It kind of made me feel a little inflated inside.  Not big headed.  but big hearted.  It encouraged my heart!  So big thanks to every women who took the time to notice my dress.  I give God glory for it!

On to the DIY part!  I used New Look #6511. I normally don’t use New Look Patterns because their sizing tends to run small.  So I end up having to make too many alterations.  But this one was good because I used view A and it was a crop top which I lengthened into an a aline dress.  I then self drafted the ruffle pattern.  I used a chambray fabric that I found at a thrift store for about $4.00 it was about 5 or 6 yards.  To give it some interest I used both the wrong and right side of the fabric. top stitched the seams in the front and sides with a dark blue denim thread and left the neck line and hem line raw and made fringe from the raw edges.  Armholes get a lot of wear so I decided to finish the hem with bias tape and top stitch it down. 

Style It:  I kept it simple and boho allowing the dress to be the star.  The shoes are a pair of wooden platforms from Sam Edelman that I picked up on super clearance at DSW about a year ago for $10 (I know awesome right!)  They are actually very light and comfortable.  The necklace I found at Ashley Stewart for $9.99 a cloth covered beaded necklace.  Its very light and comfortable to wear as well and who doesn’t love yellow!  So for a total of about $24.00 I have a complete head to toe look.  I love it!

 

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That’s it for now!  Can’t wait to share with you my next look.  I pray this post inspires you to run out and make your own sassy denim dress!

Until next time!

xoxo,

Iris

 

 

 

Sunday Wrap Dress and Pattern Review McCalls M7627

The best feeling in the world to me is to go to church and honor God by wearing something that I made with the gift that He gave me.  

“……to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,the oil of joy, instead of mourning, and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3

 

Hello Everyone!

I’m so sorry I haven’t posted in 2 weeks.  The last two weeks have been very busy and i’ve been working on releasing a pre-fall mini collection for my clothing label Virtuous By Design.  Which is exciting!!! but has pulled my attention in other places.  However, this week I got a small opportunity to work on this wrap dress.  I absolutely love a wrap dress. They are timeless, figure flattering and very comfortable.

I made it to wear to church using Mccalls M7627, view C.  I don’t know about you guys but I love getting dressed up for church.  Especially when I get the opportunity to make my church attire.  The best feeling in the world to me is to go to church and honor God by wearing something that I made with the gift that He gave me.

Below are a few pictures of my make along with a brief pattern review. I want to thank my mom for being my impromptu photographer for this post.

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Pattern Description: wrap dress with full circle voluminous skirt. I love this dress!

Pattern Sizing: I made it with a size 18 and graded to a size 20 at the waist, but I should have made a 16 and graded to an 18 at the waist. It really does run large.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I loooove the shape of this dress.  It is very figure flattering, I’m not always a fan of facings but for this dress it gives it a very clean finish and makes sewing and finishing a breeze.

Fabric Used: 100% cotton.  It is an Ankara print that my children brought me back from their family visit to Ghana last summer. The sash I made using a polyester fabric that I intended to use as a lining for another project but the color was perfect and I needed the extra fabric.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: no.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Definitely. This is such a fun dress! I am going to make one for my mom for her birthday.  She thinks its pretty.

Conclusion: this was a fun dress to make and I am really happy with it. It makes me feel so pretty.

Well that’s it for now! Until the next time!

xoxo,

Iris