DIY Sleeveless Skater Dress

This DIY Sleeveless Skater Dress is proof that good things can still happen on a bad day.

Happy Van in her Dress

It’s the first dress I’ve sewn in over a year.

A Line Dress by Bumbling Panda

So a couple days ago, I was having a really terrible time at work. I felt like sitting and crying at my desk for really no reason, one of the worse things about depression. Having depression sucks because you feel sad, like the deepest sadness ever like you’re in this deep black cave in your own mind and there’s no way out even though a part of you knows it’s only temporary, but there’s really no reason to feel sad, so then you end up feeling guilty for feeling sad, which makes you feel alone and unloved, which makes you feel sadder, which leads to more guilt. It’s a vicious cycle some days.

Anyway, so I went home but on the way, remembered that I had discovered a Joann’s directly on the route to my home. Since moving back to LA in January I haven’t stopped by an arts and crafts or fabric store–I haven’t even been back to LA Fashion District, even though it’s like 15 minutes from where I live now. I know! Shocker.

I promised my budget I would only buy one yard to make a dress out of (it only takes a yard for me because I am short. Lucky me!), but of course, had to nab this gorgeous plaid fabric that I eventually turned into a plaid scarf.

Plaid Scarf by Bumbling Panda

And then I struggled with only buying one yard. I really wanted this gorgeous galaxy-like mix of colorful knit fabric, but but but stopped myself. I’m so proud of me, yo.

I settled on chose this cute floral print instead (because I need more floral print dresses in my life). I didn’t pressure myself too much, just said I’m going to play around with making a dress and if I didn’t like it, well it was only like $8.

Floral Print Knit

Floral Print Knit Fabric

It turned out to be so much lovelier as a dress than when I saw it in the store. The fabric is lightweight but thick enough that I didn’t need a lining or double-layer for the bodice. My favorite types of dresses are ones without a lining, since I live in Los Angeles and spend most of my days sweating (TMI, sorry). I’m so glad that this fabric is light but thick with the perfect weight, coverage, and patterning in the print.

I busted out my sewing machine, which has been stowed in a box in my closet, and started cutting up some fabric.

And voila!

A Line Dress by Van Hoang

A Line Dress by Bumbling Panda

Sorry there is no tutorial. It’s such a simple dress though, very similar to these other ones I’ve made in the past.

Like this fit and flare a-line dress, but without the sleeves:

Or this one but without the ruched wasteline:

I’m glad to be making things again and getting out of my funk. Sometimes when I feel the depression monster sneaking up on me, it’s very easy to just let myself slip away. But this helped me be more present and mindful, and it helped distract me from darker thoughts. I was able to focus on a project, an end goal, and it turned out so well in the end. Times like this remind me that I need to be creative and make things and not neglect that artsy side of myself I desperately need.

10 Dresses Week Six! DIY Zippered Chiffon Dress

Zippered Chiffon Dress

Zippered Chiffon Dress

Zippered Chiffon Dress

So if you’ve ever worked with chiffon, you can understand why it’s so frightening to sew with this mercurial fabric. Or rather, cut. Or handle in any way. The first time I used chiffon, I wanted to throw my sewing machine and scissors and pins and everything out the window. I haven’t touched it again for years, opting instead for knits or wovens when I’m shopping to make a dress.

But then I saw this lovely print in the remnants section and I thought I’d give it a try. Maybe that one traumatic experience was an isolated one. And you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Actually, it wasn’t as bad as all. Then again, this isn’t as silky a chiffon fabric as most of them are, and the fact that it’s double-threaded (not sure I’m using the right term here, so I apologize) made it much easier to manipulate. It felt more like a woven than anything.

I made this with an invisible zipper on the side, not on the back because I hate back zippers. I can never get them on without asking for help, and who wants to do that? This actually the first time I’ve ever installed a zipper on a dress, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I would recommend searching some other videos or tutorials on how to install a zipper though, because I don’t think my demonstration was a very good one.

Anyway, here’s the tutorial.

BUT ON TO ANOTHER STORY about this dress and the photographing thereof. This is somewhat unrelated but since this is my blog, I’m going to force you to read it. Well, I can’t force you to read it, but it’s here so. There.

I’ve been petsitting at some friends’ house, watching their little dog Reggie. (You might know him as the co-host in some of these videos and pictures. 🙂 ) The house has an automatic locking door, but I’m usually very good at bringing a key with me, even when I step out shortly to get the mail or something.

The morning I got up to take pictures of this dress was perfect. I actually was up on time, did my hair and everything all efficient-like. My camera gave me no problems, the lighting was perfect, the tripod worked fine.

I took a few shots until I was satisfied, and then I walked back to the house.

And the door was locked.

The door was locked.

THE DOOR WAS LOCKED.

I freaked out. I hugged the door, tried to push it open. I jiggled the doorknob. “Control Z,” I sobbed, “control z, control z.” But of course, there is no control Z for life. And I kept thinking that maybe I’m still asleep and I’ll wake up to realize this is some weird dream that paranoid me has about locking herself out. But nope. I was definitely awake, as the pinching in my toes from my wedges reminded me.

I checked under all the doormats to see if maybe by some miracle I could find a spare. Nope. I checked the garden. Nope. I walked around to the patio. The wall came up to my nose. I tried to haul myself up. Wearing a super tight dress and 4-inch wedges, and managing to convince myself that my upper body strength was clearly stronger now that I’ve been swimming.

But I was wrong. Because not all the swimming in the world prepares you to haul yourself up over a four-feet wall when you’re only five feet yourself. All I had on me was this dress, a jacket, my tripod, and my camera. My phone was inside the house. It was six in the morning.

I went across the pathway and knocked on the neighbor’s door, but there was no answer. So then I walked to the neighbor next door, and of course there was no answer. Not that I blame anyone, seeing as it was super early. So I tried one last time to find a spare. I even tried to ram myself against the door but since I’m not a 300-pound man, that was pretty pointless. All I managed was to make Reggie bark and bark and bark.

I decided to try the neighbor across the pathway one last time because I had briefly said hi to her one morning when she saw me carting my tripod across the neighborhood, so I figured at least we’ve got that little moment as repertoire. And sure enough, this time she answered the door.

“I’m so sorry to bother you,” I said, “but I’m petsitting for your neighbors, and I’ve locked myself out. Do you happen to have a spare key, maybe they left one with you?”

She shook her head, which made me want to curl up into a ball and die. “No, we all keep to ourselves around here, pretty much.”

I was dismayed, but believe it or not, this is not the first time I’ve locked myself out. “Is there a leasing office I could try? Maybe they’ll have a key.”

She shook her head. “No, it’s all privately owned homes.”

At that point, I just wanted to sit down and give up. I had to be at work in a few hours, and I had no phone, no keys, no way to get into the house or into my car or anywhere really. All I had was my useless camera and my useless tripod. But at least I had gotten some pictures in!

Then she told me, “Well you can either break a window. Or call a locksmith.”

And I don’t know why the idea had never occurred to me. Not the breaking the window, because I thought about that in all legitimacy and the only thing stopping me was the fact that the neighbors would call the cops. And that I’d be sleeping in a pretty unsafe home for the next few nights until I could get it fixed. But the locksmith–I knew it would be expensive, but not as expensive as fixing a broken window.

“Okay! If you let me borrow your phone, I can google a locksmith and have them come out here.”

“Come on in.”

She let me into her house, and then gave me her phone. It was a Nokia from 1989. Or so it felt. I didn’t even recognize the buttons on there. What is “Send” and what does it do? Then she pulled out a Yellow Pages.

The only thing I could think was, “Are they even going to be in business?” But I dialed and sure enough, someone picked up. They told me they would be there in an hour. So I hung out with Diane, the neighbor, who also let me use her phone to call work, and got me some water, and offered to make me breakfast and take care of me, and kept me company while I waited for the locksmith even though she had to be at work herself.

Thank God for good neighbors and good people and for Diane. I’m totally going to send that woman some flowers. And you know what? She showed me a bunch of her cross stitch projects, and they are absolutely gorgeous. I would show them here, but I didn’t ask her for permission even though I really should have.

Eventually the locksmith came and played with the doorknob. Five minutes and ninety painful dollars later, I was back inside. NINETY DOLLARS. Do you know how many shoes I could have bought with that?

Zippered Chiffon Dress

 

And that is what happened during this photo shoot. You guys can’t say I haven’t suffered for my art. Hope you like it! 

Next week we’re making the two-toned, lace body over arrow print skirt dress. You’ll need a yard and a half of lining fabric, about half a yard of lace fabric, and a yard of a print, woven fabric plus some elastic. See you guys on Tuesday for the tutorial!

dress (2)

 

10 Dresses Week 5! DIY Striped Tank Dress

DIY Striped Tank Dress by Bumbling Panda

Pointy Boots and Striped Dress

looka that belly pooch

Striped Sleeveless Tank Dress with Pointy Boots

Striped Sleeveless Tank Dress with Cross Over Body Bag

Striped Sleeveless Tank Dress with Denim Jacket

Striped Sleeveless tank dress outfit

It’s like my hair wants to be one with the palm trees. ONE OF US. ONE OF US.

:: Outfit Details ::

Striped Sleeveless Curved Hem Dress (made by me, tutorial here)
Denim Jacket (I got mine on clearance for $15 at Target, but find similar here and here)
Pointy Toe Chunky Heel Boots ($10 from here)
Cross-Over-Body Clutch ($15 from Ross)

OMG, it’s week 5 already. We’re halfway through this series! I’m excited but also sad at the same time. Remember, if you guys make this dress, PLEASE send me photos. I love to see what other people make from my tutorials–you guys are all so creative and talented. 

Anyway, now on to this DIY striped tank dress. First off, this thing is suuuuuuuper comfy. Like I would wear this to sleep if I could justify it. It’s made of a thin stretchy knit, but since it’s black, I could get away without a lining. The fact that it’s so light makes it perfect for summer. I walked around with Husband in this dress on what felt like a 100-degree day, and it was a life-saver.

Hop on over to YouTube to check out the tutorial, or just watch it below, because I know how lazy everyone is. 🙂 You’re welcome.

Right guys, I was off in St. Diego Land over the weekend, so I have a bit of a vacation-hangover (n., a condition in which a person suffers from not wanting to go back to work after spending a weekend with her husband in a wonderful, far away place).

Dress tutorials for this series will post as per schedule still, but I don’t have a preview. You can check out what’s next on the 10 Dresses in 10 Weeks post, and also see a schedule of the rest in the series. See you on Thursday for my next Outfit on a Budget, and then maybe I’ll have a DIY or a TMI for Friday!

10 Dresses Week 4! DIY Lace Fit and Flare Dress

Lace Gathered Fit and Flared Dress Outfit 2

Yay, it’s already week 4! Only 6 more dresses to go, and I can’t wait to get the rest out to you guys. This week we’re making this DIY Lace Fit and Flare Dress. It’s very simple, with an elastic waist and a comfortable flowy skirt, which makes it super comfortable. I made the skirt to my knee, something I don’t normally do, but it’s perfect for church. I also wore this dress to see the Dalai Lama a few weeks ago!

lace dress

The lace fabric is something I’ve had for years. I bought a five-yard bolt from Wal-Mart for $5, and I haven’t been able to use up all of it. You’d be surprised how much you can actually make with five yards. Anyway, I finally decided to whip up this dress, and used jet set knit for the lining. You’ll need about one and a half yards depending on your size and height.

lace dress 2Hope you guys like it! Let me know what you think. 🙂

Next week, we’ll be making the striped (also)-sleeveless dress. It’s so casual and comfy, I almost want to call it a t-dress, except it doesn’t have any sleeves. I wore it walking around the harbor with Husband on a super hot day, and it was perfect for the scorching weather. I love how I wore it here with my jeans jacket. I finally got an excuse to wear the denim yo!

striped tank dress

Say hello to Reggie again!

So for next week’s fabric, go grab some stretchy knit fabric. It can be striped or any print that you like. You’ll need about a yard to a yard and a half, so get ready!