Supplies Needed

Sweater

Terry cloth, felt, or muslin

EZ Steam sheet or basting spray

Tea bags or fabric dye

Iron, ironing board

Sewing machine, thread, etc.

Paper and printer

Keep warm in the halls of Hogwarts with your very own Harry Potter sweater. See how to make a sweater similar to the Christmas gifts from Mrs. Weasley! No knitting experience required.

I’ve always wanted one of the knit sweaters Mrs. Weasley gave Harry and Ron for Christmas. However, I can’t knit! AND I’ve made it my personal mission to be sustainable with my sewing and buying new items in general.

So, how can I make this sweater without spending a ton and buying new things? First, I searched for a navy blue sweater on some of my favorite secondhand shops…eBay, Mercari, Poshmark, and Thred-UP. I found the blue sweater on eBay for less than $15.

For the “H” I wanted something that looked worn and fuzzy, so I thought maybe a towel would work. I found a white dish towel in my stash, but even any old terry cloth rag you have would work if it’s white or off-white.

Step 1

Measure the area on the front of your sweatshirt and determine how large you want the H to be.

Step 2

Create an “H” template on your EZ steam sheet. You can print out an H and tape it to the sheet or trace it directly on the sheet from your computer screen.

Step 3

For the “H”, I used a white terry cloth towel I had lying around in my fabric stash. Cut a piece of the terry cloth large enough to accommodate the H. Because I wanted the “H” to be off-white and look rustic, I decided to dye it with tea bags. You could make this H whatever color you want with fabric dye. 

towels

To dye with tea, I brought a large pot of water to a very soft boil with 4-6 tea bags. I let the fabric simmer about 15 minutes until it darkened to my liking. After carefully removing the fabric from the tea dye, I ran it under cool water until the tea was rinsed out. Then I threw it in the dryer!

Step 4

Remove the backing of the sheet (side without the template) and finger press it to the terry cloth fabric. Make sure everything is smoothed out. Then cut out the H template cutting through the EZ steam sheet and the terry cloth.

Peel off the front of the EZ steam sheet (side with the template) revealing sticky part and hand press it to the front of your sweater. I placed mind approximately 4 inches below the collar.

For extra security, follow the directions for ironing lightly iron the H so it securely adheres to the sweater. You can skip this step if you used basting spray.

Step 5

Topstitch, with a regular stitch length, along the edges of the H using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Take it slow around the curved edges. You may have to stop and adjust the fabric a few times when you’re going around the curves. When coming to the 90 degree corners, stop sewing and leave the needle down. Lift your presser foot and pivot the fabric, then continue sewing. This will give you crisp, clean stitched corners.

After topstitching, I dedcided 1/4 inch edges were too much for my liking so I trimmed them down to 1/8 inch. I rubbed the tip of closed scissors along the edges to give it a frayed look and removed any extra long strings.

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5 tips for good sewing habits

Supplies Needed

Red knit fabric

Matching cotton fabric

Doily or lace collar

8 buttons + one small button

Fusible interfacing (optional)

Pattern paper or dress pattern

Thread

Sewing Machine

This is how I made the red Academy Dress from the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina! Custom pattern and all.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is one of my many favorite TV shows. I like the set style and chic darkness of the show. Ever since season 1, a Sabrina costume has been at the top of my list.

Platinum hair Sabrina after the dark baptism is my favorite look so I’ve decided the academy dress would be a semi-easy costume. At first glance it looks like a simple A-line shift dress with an empire waist. However, after some digging I did find clear pictures of the dress worn on set by Kiernan. As you can see it has some extra detail around the waist darts and hips and there is no empire waist.

Fabric for the dress

I have a burgundy velour (crushed velvet) on hand so that is what I used for my dress. It’s got a 60% stretch so there will be plenty of movement. Most apparel knits will have sufficient stretch. A ponte knit would be a great option if you’re looking for screen accuracy. It’s a double knit so its sturdier and heavier than your standard jersey knit. Plus, it’s easy to sew with.

For the collar, I bought a doily looking collar piece from Amazon.

The dress pattern

I patterned this dress from scratch to fit my shape. I needed a pattern that had no waist seam so I began with a bodice block and basic skirt block. I joined these two blocks to make a torso block. A torso block is good for making shirts and dresses that don’t have a waistline seam.

From the torso block, I extended the bottom to stop 4″ above my knee widened the bottom out 3 inches to make an A-line silhouette. Both front and back had waist darts and the front had a small side dart. I removed the shoulder dart from the back and also shortened the darts about 1″. Changes are seen in red.

If you are not into drafting sewing patterns, I would suggest using an A-line or sheath dress pattern with waist darts and altering it.

Always, always, always make a test of the commercial pattern to see how the sizing fits. You may need to adjust darts, armholes, neckline etc before drawing in your custom details. The same goes for your pattern blocks

The images below link to some starter patterns.

mccalls pattern m7968
mccalls pattern m7861
mccalls pattern m7832

Adding curve detail and button placket

I added the front curve detail from the hip line to the bottom of the waist darts on the front. At this point, unrelated to the curve, I decided to shorten the side dart to give my bust some extra space.

I also curved the side seam a bit at the waist so there were no harsh angles.

Then I added extra width on the center front for a button placket. My formula for a button placket is seam allowance x 2 + half width of placket + full placket width. My buttons are about 1 inch wide so I wanted the placket to be 1.25″ wide.

The back does not need any altering besides adding a curve for the side seam. Try to mimic the front curve you added.

Cutting into separate pattern pieces

 

I divided the pattern pieces into 3 parts:

  • BACK: stays whole pattern as it is
  • TORSO: from shoulder to the bottom of the curve
  • SKIRT: from the bottom of the curve to the hem

On the torso, I cut on the top line of the curve from the side seam to the dart. Then up and down the dart legs stopping at the bust apex. Next I cut down the other side of the dart leg stopping at the curve. I discarded the diamond shape from inside the dart.

Finally, I cut through the side dart stopping just before the bust apex. There needs to be the tiniest bit of paper at the bust apex to keep the torso piece together.

Then I closed the side dart about 1.5″ by rotating the side torso piece upwards.

I traced this new torso shape onto fresh paper and redrew the waist dart according to the reference lines I added.

The sleeves

I drafted a basic long sleeve (no elbow darts) using the armhole measurements from my torso pattern pieces. Since I am using a knit, I made the sleeve more fitted since it would have some give. the wrist is about 8.5″ around. Your sleeve pattern ought to look something like this image:

Preparing the patterns for cutting

There are a few things that need to be done to the patterns before they are ready for fabric cutting.

FRONT

  • Add seam allowance. I used 5/8″ across the board except on the inside of the waist darts. I reduced that to 3/8″ to fit it in the small space.
  • Armhole notches. This should have been figured when you made your sleeve pattern.
  • Mark buttonhole and button placement. My buttons were 1″ and I started them 1″ from the neck line. I had 8 buttons and wanted them to stop halfway down the skirt piece. My spacing ended up being 3.5″ apart. The buttonholes were 1.25″ long.
  • Clearly label each pattern piece, size, seam allowances and how many need to be cut. Two for the front torso.

BACK

  • Add seam allowances.
  • Label “cut on the fold” on the center back.
  • Clearly label the back pattern piece, size, seam allowances, and the number that needs to be cut. Just one for the back!

SKIRT

  • Add seam allowance on all sides except for the button placket.
  • Clearly label the skirt piece, it’s size, seam allowances and how many times it should be cut from fabric. The skirt needs 2 cuts.

Now you can cut the fabric! Take a moment to figure out the best layout for your pattern pieces.

REMEMBER, REMEMBER, REMEMBER…if you’re using napped fabric like velvet, your pattern pieces will need to lay in the direction of the nap. You can feel which way is correct if you run your hand over the fabric. Velvet will be very smooth when the nap is going the right way. It will feel bumpy when you move your hand against the nap. Basically, it feels like fur!

Also, the fabric stretch should be going in a horizontal direction around your body.

The two points above are SO important to remember. If you don’t take this into consideration you could end up like me and cut half the pattern out incorrectly. You will need about 2 yards for this dress, but I ended up using every bit of 3 yards because I cut a couple pattern pieces against the nap. The skirt part looked much darker in color than the torso. Ooops!

 

Sewing the dress

I started with sewing the torso waist dart closed. Sewing double ended darts should start in the middle sew towards the pointed ends. At the bottom of the dart stop with the needle down. Rotate the torso and the fabric to line up the curves. Make sure you are not sewing over any folds or bumps as you begin sewing down the curve.

Next, I sewed the side dart closed and then sewed on the skirt portion. I pressed the seams of the waist dart and curves. The dart seams went towards the center front. The curve seams were pressed inwards towards each other.

 

Then to save time and my own sanity, I sewed faux felled seams. Basically, I top stitched 1/4″ away from the curved seams and waist dart seam catching the pressed seam allowance underneath.

My velour fabric was not as sturdy as I preferred and I wanted the button closure to be somewhat rigid. To help the buttons from pulling and causing puckers in the fabric, I added some interfacing from center front to the raw edge of the placket before sewing. After sewing the other front torso and skirt, I folded over the button placket and sewed down the length of the front piece from neckline to hem. Below is an image of how I folded the button placket.

Starting from the very edge of the button placket, I folded the raw edge under according to the seam allowance. I then folded under again the full placket width + seam allowance. To secure the placket in place, I sewed down the open edge according to the seam allowance. This created a perfectly spaced button placket on the front.

Then I took the time to add button and button hole placement marks directly on the fabric.

On the back piece, I sewed the waist darts closed and pressed them flat towards the center back.

Then I joined the front and back pieces by sewing the side seams, right sides together.

Next came the hemming. I folded the neckline under one time 5/8″ (my seam allowance) and then sewed it with a 1/2″ seam allowance. I did the same for the bottom hem starting at the center front, through the back ending at the other center front. The sleeves have the same 5/8″ hem at the wrist.

Next, I set in the sleeves by matching up the front and back armhole notches. You may have to do some stay stitching on the sleeve cap between the notches if is longer than your armhole. This way you can pull on the stay stitching strings and shorten the sleeve cap if needed.

 

Once both sleeves were set in and sewn, I closed the long arm seam by sewing from the armhole to the wrist.

 

The collar

I opted for a faux removable collar because I felt like this could be a nice casual winter dress without it. So I drafted a collar stand with a button closure to fit the dress neckline. The stand was attached to the lace collar pieces and tucks under the neckline dress.

The stand is a basic mandarin collar with a curved center front edge and extended 1″ to make room for a button hole.

I cut two pieces from solid burgundy cotton and baste stitched the lace pieces on the top side of one collar.

Then I put the other collar piece on top, right side down, and stitched along the top and left and right sides.

Then I pressed the bottom edges of the collar in 1/4″ and top stitched it closed.

Lastly, I added a button hole and small button at the left and right edges of the collar stand.

I pressed the collar stand and lace downward so they would both lie flat on the neckline.

The finished dress

Wigs are expensive. Even lace front wigs can run you a few hundred dollars. I like to find decent budget wigs under $50 and spruce them up to fit my costume. We all know cheap wigs look…well…cheap. But you don’t need to spend hundreds to get a better looking wig. Below are some of my favorite tips on making a synthetic wig look more natural.

Pluck the hairline to match your natural hairline

This is a tip for lace front wigs. My hair line is not straight along my forehead and down the sides. I have a slight widows peak and the sides curve down to my ears. When I pluck the wig along the hairline, I like to wear it so I can see exactly where my natural hairline is and pluck the strands in the right place. You can use regular tweezers to do this. Take your time and don’t start ripping the hairs blindly or you could damage the lace.

You can also add baby hairs at this point if that works with your costume. Use a razor or scissors to cut the baby hairs at the hairline. Vary the lengths and distance between hairs and only do several strands at a time.

Use heat to arrange the part

I know it’s been said you shouldn’t use heat on synthetic wigs. While that is mostly true, you can use some heat with caution to help tame the wig. If your synthetic wig allows it, you can change the part to suit your needs. Comb the hair over and create the part. Use a hair dryer on low heat to set the part. Don’t over do this and melt your wig. It shouldn’t take more than a minute to set the part.

Add width to the part

This is another good trick for lace front wigs. Like the hairline, you can pluck the part to make it look more natural. Most wigs will have a very thin flat part. Notice your own part and how you can easily see your scalp. Remove hairs down both side of the part to make it wider by plucking with tweezers. The hairs don’t have to be perfectly straight down the part either. A little variance in plucking can go a long with to making the part look natural.

Wear a wig cap that matches your scalp color

This will make a big difference. Notice your actual scalp is probably lighter than your face. I received tan colored wig caps that look like hosing for legs. It was a bit dark so I ended up bleaching the caps to match my scalp color.

Another tip is to add concealer or powder to the part. Do this on the underside of the wig. This is mostly for lace cap wigs. However, make sure the concealer matches your scalp and not your face color. I made this mistake and the part was so much darker than it should have been. It looked orange!

Darken the roots

I like to add some dimension at the roots. Color treated hair usually has some difference at the roots. Even untreated hair can have a subtle color difference at the roots. I use acrylic paint to achieve this. I mix a custom color according to the wig color. See my post on mixing paint to learn about how I match the colors.

With a paint brush, I lightly brush on the acrylic paint at the roots, about one inch wide, then gently wipe downwards with a damp cloth. This will help diffuse the color and soften blunt edges. Do this all around the part and layer as needed.

I have also seen others use eyeliner pens for this. They work well, but I prefer the paint so I can create a custom color to match the tones of the wig.

Give the wig a fresh trim

Remove damaged, dry, or blunt ends with a good trim. Familiarize yourself with the techniques of a basic hair trim before slashing away with the shears. It’s not hard, but learning a bit beforehand can help you from cutting and removing too much or making a mistake and ruining the wig length.

Remove extra bulk with thinning shears

A lot of wigs will come with a ton of volume and might sit on your head unnaturally. Take a look at your own hair and try to mimic the same volume on your wig.

Use a pair of thinning shears and work with very small amounts at a time. Begin with hair just under the surface and work your way down. Start at the roots with the solid blade on top and the teeth underneath the hair. Clamp down as close to the roots as you can and drag the excess hair out. If the hair is long and the scissors don’t easily slide out, you can remove the shears and comb the hair out. Do this bit by bit. Comb the hair into place after a couple rounds to judge how it lays. Don’t forget to try it on throughout the process until you get the thickness you need.

Add texture and layers with a razor

I like to use a razor on the wig to give it a lived in, textured look. Synthetic wigs can look blunt, stiff, and very uniform, like broomstick hair or straw. A razor can solve this problem and give it some softness and movement. I mostly do the the texturizing a few inches from the bottom, but it all depends on what look you’re going for. There are a couple techniques to give you lots of texture and layers or subtle texture. Use it with caution and take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the tool. I like this tutorial by Sam Villa Hair.

Reduce the plastic shine

Synthetic wigs have a lot of shine and unless you strive for super shiny slick hair in real life, your budget wig will be a bit unnatural looking. My best tip to easily and instantly reduce shine is using dry shampoo! If you do not have dry shampoo, baby powder can be useful. Or a finishing powder you might use on your face. Apply loose powders lightly with a large puffy brush. Lightly spray on the powder and build up.

Texturizing sprays can also reduce the shine. If you have one, try it on a test spot. If it doesn’t work or ruins the hair, just wash it out and start over.

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Halloween is obviously the greatest time of the year. You can fight me on that. But trying to find a costume without breaking the bank or spending half your life constructing it can be challenging. This is why I’ve put together some simple, quick and easy but recognizable halloween costumes that don’t require a professional workshop to create.

Sabrina Spellman from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

I was obsessed with this show when it debuted on Netflix. If you already have a red dress, it would be simple to add a lace collar. Amazon does sell collar inserts as well. Or you can purchase a full dress.

Sabrina typically wears loafers, but I would guess any black flat would do. Throw on some red lips and dig out your old headband and you’ve got yourself a Sabrina costume. Kiernan Shipka actually wears Christian Louboutin lipstick in Very Prive on screen but since that lipstick is bascially the price of the moon, any dark red matte lipstick will do the trick. The white wig is optional, but elevates the look some.

Scarlet Witch from Avengers

Scarlet Witch might be a little harder for some, but if you have a red leather jacket, this one might be a good choice for you! You don’t necessarily need a full a-line dress. You could pull this off with a black tee and black skirt combo. For the stockings, you could wear black tights that you distress yourself or just a plain pair of black stockings. The arm bracer is probably something most of us don’t have, but another option are black arm warmers. Visit the amazon list below for other ideas.

Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter 

Luna Lovegood is so fun to wear. The costume is so quirky and recognizable. I have personally bought the tights, spectraspecs and the unicorn skirt you see above and it makes for a super easy costume. As for the jacket, you’ll want to look for a pink tweed blazer. These are not in style at the moment and you will mostly find designer brand jackets. I encourage you to scour local thrift stores and online second hand clothing stores like Mercari, Poshmark, Ebay etc. You can usually find a super deal on a pink tweed jacket someone doesn’t want anymore.

Luna wears a limited edition converse high top shoe called “autumn flower.” I have searched high and low for a pair and they are HARD to find and usually expensive. Any dark colored high top shoe will pull the ensemble together. Or if you already have a pair of converse, that works. It will still get Luna’s style across.

Negan from The Walking Dead

Negan is always one of my favorite costumes to suggest. He’s so simple, very unisex, and still looks menacing! If you already have a leather jacket and dark pants, then the rest of the ensemble is easy to throw together. You don’t necessarily need the bat as long as you can wear a red bandana. However, its always a bonus to have the bat.

Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family

Wednesday Addams is a classic costume. It’s immediately recognizable and fairly simple to put together. Especially if you already have dark hair!

Damian from Mean Girls

Who remembers the scene from Mean Girls of Damian at the rally belting “She doesn’t even go here!”? This is a SUPER easy costume. Throw on some jeans, a blue sweatshirt and aviators. Voila!

Pac Man

Pac Man and Mrs. Pac Man are a couple of my favorite old school games. This costume could be achieved with a black dress or pants/shirt combo and some colored felt. Most craft stores have felt sheets super cheap. Group costumes can be made even easier with colored tees, black pants and felt.

Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story

The leg lamp is a bit more involved but not impossible and definitely no sewing involved! Go to your local thrift store and find a lamp shade that is triangle shaped. Cover it with a gold or beige cloth and glue it secure. Old sheets and table clothes are great for this purpose. Stop by your craft or fabric store and pick up some fringe. Put on some fishnet tights, black shirt, and black shoes.

I would definitely suggest wearing black shorts underneath the lamp shade if you ever want to sit down in this costume.

Flo from Progressive

Everyone knows Flo from Progressive. Amazon has a handy costume set for Flo. If you already have a white pair of pants, white polo or tee, and converse shoes, this is an easy costume. Just have it shipped to you! No crafting, no sewing, no thinking. Don’t forget the red lipstick!

This could also be an easy couple’s costume! Pair Flo with Jake from State Farm.

Olive from Easy A

Olive is another recognizable pop culture character. Most all of us have a pair black pants in the closet we can pair with a black corset and sunglasses. Create the red letter A from construction paper or felt.

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Prevent stretched necklines with stay stitching. I've outlined 5 helpful tips for successful stay stitching.

Stay stitching is a short straight stitch to prevent the edge of fabric stretching and ultimately warping a project. It’s most often used on apparel around curved edges such as necklines, armholes, and sometimes shoulders.

Tip #1

It’s important to stay stitch soon after cutting fabric. Even handling the material several times can cause irregularities in the neckline and/or armholes

TIP #2

Stitch 1/8″ away from seam line. If your seam allowance is 5/8″, you will stitch 1/2″.

TIP #3

For curved edges, sew from the outside to the center. On necklines, start at one shoulder and stop at center front and cut your thread. Then proceed from the other shoulder to the center front. This method also applies to the back and armholes.

Tip #4

Sew with a smaller stitch length for a stonger hold.

Tip #5

After finishing the project, you don’t need to remove the stay stitching. It will be hidden in the seam allowance.

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