Stripes, Leather, Fringe, and PLEATS: Sewvivor Final Round

*Update: Sewvivor 2012 is over and I won! Thank you so much for all of your support!

 I am so excited to reveal my project for the final round: Make Something with PLEATS!

I love pleats (see here and here and here). They are classic and versatile, and when paired with the right material, really make a statement. My entry for this week pairs a classic pleated silhouette with an unexpected striped fabric. And I made a clutch. Out of leather. With a tassel. I’m pretty much in love.

When I saw this striped cream and tan cotton upholstery fabric on my daycation to Charlottesville a couple months ago, I immediately knew it would need to become a dress with a wide box pleated skirt. At that point I had entered Sewvivor, but didn’t yet know I would be competing, let alone in the final round! This week’s challenge gave the perfect opportunity to create the dress I was designing in my mind. Horizontal stripes on the skirt, front panel of the bodice, and sleeves…

Vertical stripes on the sides and back of the bodice, just for fun!

I created the pattern from scratch, draping onto my dress form to make the pieces fit together just right. I took great detail to align everything just so. The stripes on the front continue seamlessly onto the skirt (no…actually there is a seam there, but the colors continue seamlessly;)) The cream stripes on the side front panels, meet the cream stripes on the back panel, allowing the stripes to continue around the bodice and the cream stripe to fall exactly center on the back.

The horizontal stripes on the sleeves are inverted colors to the bodice, mainly because I was dealing with scraps of my one single yard of fabric at that point, and that’s how they fit, but I think I would have chosen that regardless, because I love how the cream of the sleeve meets the tan of the shoulder, continuing the stripe there, as well. And how about elbow-length sleeves? I love them, and they’re so rare to find.

Aligning the pleats to the exact center on the front and back was a little trickier than I planned. I finally unpicked both sides seams, pinned them in place, sewed the separate pieces to the bodice, then went back down the side seams. I used my stripe matching skills to align the stripes on the skirt exactly. Oh, and of course I added fun pockets. Thought the dress could use a little  polka dot with all that stripe!

Making the clutch was a totally new experience for me. I had never attempted more than a simple tote bag, and never used leather with my sewing machine! I used this pattern, which turned out to be really clearly laid out and easier to follow than I expected. The soft, calf-skin suede that I used was fun to work with, and I love the texture. It’s dreamy. I lined the clutch, including the little interior iPhone pocket (for real-the exact dimensions of an iPhone!) with a vintage floral linen that I bought a couple years ago at the Alameda Flea Market. No project has seemed special enough to use it on, until now!

Possibly my very favorite part of the clutch is the long fringe tassel that I made for the zipper pull. I had just enough leather left over after the clutch to slice into strips, and roll up into this funky tassel.

(Earrings: c/o Pretty Little Me, Necklace: made by me, Belt: J.Crew, Shoes: Bakers, borrowed from a friend)

So, what do you think? I’m going to go ahead and declare this my favorite project of the competition, and possibly two of my favorite things I’ve ever made for myself. So, regardless of today’s outcome, I am a winner.

(but seriously, I really do want to ACTUALLY win, so head over and VOTE!! and feel free to share on twitter, facebook, text, etc to invite others to vote as well!! I’ll take all the help I can get. Thank you!)

P.S. a HUGE thank you to my dear family for being so supportive throughout these last four crazy busy weeks! Of the little time Dave and I have together on the weekends, he played babysitter and (awesome) photographer so I could prepare my entries.


  1. chelsea
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Miranda- amazing! You truly do deserve to win in my opinion. It’s a sewing competition, and yours is definitely the most well made, stylish piece. Sending luck your way my friend:)

    • Miranda
      Posted April 25, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Thank you thank you Chelsea! Fingers crossed!

  2. Posted April 25, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    This dress is amazing. Bravo to you through the WHOLE competition!

  3. melissa
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    voted! love your dress and clutch… the lining of the pockets and bag are such perfect details!

  4. Melanie Anderson
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Amazing amazing! I love love love the dress and purse!

  5. Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    LOVE the dress, and the purse. Seriously, so cute! 🙂 The stripes are FANTASTIC (where did you get your fabric?)- love the mix of vertical/horizontal. And love that fringe!
    Do you sort of feeling like going to bed at 8 tonight???? 🙂

    • Miranda
      Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Kirstin! I found the fabric a couple months ago in Charlottesville at a really cool upholstery fabric store. It was 100% cotton, so I figured it would make a dress as well as any apparel fabric could. And you can’t argue with those wide stripes! It’s so hard to find cool stripes in regular fabric stores. I have the same pit in my stomach that I’ve had every week. I don’t think I’m mentally cut out for competition! And you guys all did so great!

  6. Posted April 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Stunning. If I saw this gown on the runway, I would probably by at least 24 pieces. You deserve this win.

    • Miranda
      Posted April 25, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, that’s awesome! I love this dress, too.

  7. Laura
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Hands down the best one in the contest! Voted for you and hoping you win!!!

  8. Tasha
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    I agree with everyone else- you are the best one in the contest! I’ve loved seeing all the new things you have come up with. This dress is one of my absolute favorite things you have created… right down to the polka dot lining in the pockets. Love your attention to detail. You have deserved every vote you have gotten!!! Good luck- sure hope you win!

    • Miranda
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      You’re so nice Tasha, thank you!

  9. Erica
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    WOW!! I am amazed by this dress! It is truly beautiful. I am so sorry that I missed the voting day, b/c I would have voted for you hands down. But I still wanted to come over to comment on your blog and tell you how much I LOVE this dress!!!

    • Miranda
      Posted April 26, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Thank you! I appreciate you stopping by to share such a sweet comment. Fingers crossed for good news on Friday!

  10. Corinne H
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Miranda, this is a piece of art! I hope you win. I saw this a day too late to vote (I just tried). You deserve it girl. You ooze creative talent. Congrats girl.

  11. Posted April 27, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Wow. I love this one. Such precision and skill! I hope you win. Just curious…you had to put in a zipper, right? Where is it? I can’t see one in the pictures, so your invisible zipper skills must be top-notch.

    • Miranda
      Posted April 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      Observant, Lauren! I wanted to keep the back really clean with those vertical stripes, so I put the zipper in the side seam under the right arm. I did use an invisible zipper, but I just noticed all of the photos of the side of the dress are of the right side (unintentionally.) Side zippers on dresses with sleeves are definitely a little trickier than back zips, but so worth it in cases like this where it really preserves a design element!

      • Miranda
        Posted April 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        *zipper on the left side, photos on the right.

      • Posted April 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the info. I haven’t tackled a side zipper and have only done an invisible zipper once before, so this would be a new challenge. Also, congrats on the win! You deserve it – your projects were the best!

  12. Pernille
    Posted November 25, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Wow! I just love your dress!! Did you make the pattern yourself? You should sell the pattern here – I would certainly be interested!! Please?

    • Miranda
      Posted November 26, 2012 at 1:15 am | Permalink

      Thanks so much! I did make the pattern myself, by draping on my dress form. I have considered trying to make a PDF download of this pattern available sometime in the future, but it may be months (years:) xo

  13. Posted November 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    The dress and the clutch are perfect!!

    • Miranda
      Posted December 1, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      Thank you!

  14. Camille
    Posted May 22, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I would love the pattern for both! Is it for sale of is there somewhere I would get it?!?!?! It is Beautiful and you did amazing!

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