Hot! The “When I Grow Up I Want To Be Harper Finkle” Dress

The Facts

Fabric: Sparkly red knit something found at local Goodwill store $3.99, green brocade left over from an Elf costume made many moons ago.
Patterns: Simplicity It’s So Easy 3728.
Year: Contemporary.
Notions: 2 packs of Cousin Jewelry Basics black beads $5.58, thread.
Time to complete: 12 hours.
First worn: 10th June 2012
Wear again? Yep, though a bit cautious about where, I don’t want to lose any pips.

Total Cost: $9.57 (£6.14)

The challenge: “TV Inspired: Based on a character from TV, past or present”.


This is the first of 3 weeks of tight finger-crossing hoping that modern technology will allow me to still get posts about Sew Weekly Challenges in on-time from afar.

I must explain, I’m not here. I’m currently on holiday (translation for Americans: vacation).

So what you’re reading is actually something I wrote last week in preparation. I’ve planned, sewn and written posts ahead of time but rather than just take pics quickly in my garden, I’m hoping I can get some shots in more exciting locales during my time away to be slotted into these pre-prepared posts. (I’m not sure yet, this might mean that I’m going to have to use iPhone pics over my DSLR camera. Sadly PicMonkey doesn’t work on my iPhone/iPad though because of flash-lackage, so I’m trying out VSCO Cam for the first time, plus Instagram for my usual sneak peeks). But this might mean the quality of the photos might be a little suspect for the next few weeks….bear with me.

Aaaaanyway…how does one choose just ONE TV character to inspire an outfit? My initial list included:

  • Wonder Woman (I always wanted to be Wonder Woman, I had a serious crush on Lynda Carter in the 70s) – but anything I made quickly risked looking to Halloween costumey, I’d rather think about this one for longer and perhaps make something less costumey, more fashiony….do you like my inventing of words?
  • Hannibal Heyes (another one of my crushes in the 70s, Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes in Alias Smith and Jones. He was always impeccably dressed by the show’s costume department) but this would not only involve making trousers, but making my first ever pair of trousers and though I’m building to this challenge, I didn’t want to attempt it in a pre-holiday rush.
  • Something Doctor Who related – well I’ve done a Dalek, and Amy Pond, I’d really like to try my hand sometime at a Femme Doctor, probably the 3rd, Jon Pertwee’s Doctor (can you tell by any chance I’m a child of the 70s?) but again, I’d like to do this well and a velvet suit, frilly shirt and cape needs careful planning.

So, I needed a TV character that I could make quickly but still do it well (especially as I’ve had to make the pieces for the upcoming Vacation and Summer Trends challenges before being without a sewing machine for weeks).

As it’s school hols (translation for Americans: summer break), my TV has obviously been hi-jacked by little people. And this is where my inspiration for this week came from.

There are some TV shows that Melchett my youngest (9) watches that I cannot abide….Suite Life (in hotel or On Deck) does my head in; How to Rock, A.N.T. Farm, Victorious, Jessie – what’s with all the SHOUTING?! Nope, can’t watch those for long before I want to throw something at the screen. Sponge Bob…. AAaaargggghhhhhhh (sorry, I can’t abide Sponge Bob, I think they must spray it with something to repel grown-ups from watching it). The same goes for Big Time Rush (who are also some of the worst proponents of SHOUTING!)

But a few I can cope and even secretly like: Phineas and Ferb, Good Luck Charlie, Drake and Josh and this week’s inspiration: Wizards of Waverley Place.

I don’t know what it is about WoWP, but even though it’s a kid’s show, it doesn’t seem to aim low. It’s a proper sitcom. The grown-ups also seem to have a role rather than just be caricatures to prank. But ever since I started watching it, one character, and her dress style stood out…..Harper Finkle:

She makes her own clothes (allegedly she can make 20 a day, 40 if her Dad isn’t using her sewing machine to make a saddle), she loves bright colours, often seen in circle skirts that have mad patterns or embellishments on them. Michael Kors would explode at her levels of matchy matchingness. Best of all she says that she’s rewired her brain so people’s insults about her loud outfits come across as compliments. I like this lass!

And often, especially during season 1 and 2….she uses fruit as her theme – how on-trend is that?! She’s worn and/or used prints featuring grapes, cherries, watermelons, oranges…..I’m sorry, tangelos… well as cupcakes and a marvellous pretzel dress, where she bedazzled the pretzels.

But as far as I could remember, she hasn’t done strawberries. And that’s what I decided to do, especially as I’ve been wanting to make something inspired by this season’s Moschino Cheap and Chic Strawberry dress.

I’d scored some suitable sparkly knit material at my local Goodwill store recently, made a shorter version of the Simplicity It’s So Easy 3728 maxi dress (as I didn’t have enough fabric to make a maxi anyway) and glued & sewed lots of black acrylic bead ‘pips’ on it.

To be perfectly Harper I knew I’d need a headband, and did toy with the idea of a jug of cream and bowl of sugar…..but to celebrate this fruity muse to all individualist quirky dressmakers I decided to cover an old headband in matching fabric and glue on to it the Sew Weekly logo pin cushion (another score from a thrift store/charity shop for 49c). I’m not totally sure how functional this is going to be….ask me next week how many times I’ve stuck pins in my head….

By the way, if we’ve taken the pics I’m slotting into this post as I’ve planned….yes, this is Las Vegas!

Watch out over the next few weeks for a few more surprises…..



Tempest Devyne is a Brit who loves rain. She was therefore exiled to the deserts of Arizona. She started tentatively sewing about 3 years ago to make her own burlesque costumes. She'd now like to make pretty clothes for herself that don't rely on velcro and poppers to stay on. She's self-taught with help from the internet and lots of books from the library.


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  1. Hope you have a great holiday, love the photos and the inspiration. Should be a lot of fun to watch out for the next couple of weeks. Like where’s Aldo..where’s Tempest?

    • Thanks Krista. I was in Death Valley yesterday. 118 degrees and I’m kicking myself although I took loads of pics of the beautiful almost surreal landscape I forgot to take one of me in next week’s item. This shall be rectified in my current location tomorrow though.

  2. Super scrumptious dress! I love the strawberry-ness of it. Love it berry much. ;)

  3. Nice job. We don’t catch WOWP often since I’m the only family member who really likes it but Harper’s creations always make me smile.

    • Thanks Stephanie…it’s nice to see I’m not the only Mum or grown-up who appreciates Harper and WOWP. I know my taste in fashion is wacky but I don’t think I’ll ever match her heights :)

  4. Hope your enjoying a nice vaccation…
    Great dress. Thanks for sharing such great photos..

  5. Strawberry…my initial thought, so you achieved your goal! Great idea.

    • Thanks Diane, it took me a while to decide how realistic to make the leaves…I went for more like a bow than leaf-like in the end so I’m so glad you think it worked :)

  6. LOVE the pincushion on the headband : ) Have fun in Las Vegas, can’t wait to see where you head next!

    • I’ve discovered an added bonus of the pincushion headband (because although I’ll wear the dress again regularly, the headband is a bit too posh…..and gets in the way of last week’s crown)….it’s just the right size to pop on my knee/lower thigh to aid roadtrip sewing. Result! Done Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, Death Valley & nearish Area 51 so far…..but next week’s pics are from somewhere else entirely (dum dum dummmm to be continued).

  7. You are so funny I have a pain, of course I haven’t seen alot of the programmes (translation: shows) you mention, but that dress is very nice indeed (translation: the bomb) and I love your inspiration, the strawberry dress and Ms Finkle too. Please please please please do the femme doctor outfit. I can’t wait. Have a lovely holiday x

    • Ta me ducks (translation: thank you kindly ma’am). I hope summer arrives eventually in the UK…though it might have been that week in May. I think I should stop teasing the Colonials about their use of the Queen’s English soon as 4th of July is coming and I don’t want to be dumped into any harbours. I’m sure I’m going to get enough grief about the rain, traffic, small food sizes etc from them during the Olympics. I am going to do a femme 3rd Doctor, though perhaps next year as I really want to do the velvet, frilly shirt and cape justice (I have a trike called Bessie) and that’s too much sewing whilst doing weekly challenges.

  8. Fantastic! I’ve never seen the show, but Harper sounds like great fun, and I love your interpretation of her look (and the fact you were willing to wear it in public!)

    • Haha you crack me up, have you seen the way I dress? Of course I wore this out in public, life is way too short not to have fun with fashion and wear what one wants and not what one thinks will fit in. If something makes me smile when I see it in the mirror, or better still makes me laugh, I make sure I enjoy wearing it too. So what if some people look on me as a batty old woman, I used to fit in, I used to wear suits (and be an accountant!)….we only get one chance on this planet and life could be snatched away at any second, so hi-diddle-dee-dee I’ll dress as a strawberry. Here endeth Tempest’s ‘wear more icing, people!’ party political for this week :)

  9. I LOVE HARPER FINKLE! The children I tutor/nanny for are obsessed with Wizards of Waverly Place and I watch with them just to look at her outfits!

    (And word to the femme-Doctor idea, I am thinking of going there for Halloween this year)

    • So glad to have pleased a fellow fan :) thank you….yes, though I do love all the Russos (possibly one of the only shows where none of the kids get on my nerves) Harper and her outfits outshine even Max’s adorableness.

      Oooh let me know how your Doctor turns out! Which version/regeneration are you doing?

  10. Hah, this is brilliant! Love that collage of her outfits as well – never heard of the show, but that’s one awesome character!

    Enjoy the rest of your holiday. :-)

    • Thank you so much :) I think she’s a nice role model for kids to have about not being afraid to be yourself or an individual. I had it in my head that Wizards of Waverley Place was shown in most countries as I’ve seen it in UK, USA and Italy now….or perhaps that’s just because my kids take the DVDs on holiday….could be that :)

  11. She’s just like the Moschino, Great post Tempest, great photos, have a wonderful holiday, stay safe.

    • Will do, thank you Kazz. I was very pleasantly surprised to see how big fruit and food were on the catwalks this year. Seriously want to do a Dolce & Gabbana chili pepper crop top, skirt, jacket or dress sometime.

  12. YAY TEMPEST!! My husband saw the picture before I did-he likes to look for my posts. When he said you were on for Wednesday I had to drop everything to see it. I love you! Such a great dress and I love that there’s someone out there who feels the same way about clothing as I do. I wear what I like-what good does it do me sitting around. I’m so busy with the family and the home and work I can’t wait for the right time or place to pop up for me to wear the things I love. The kids used to give me hell for it when I was younger-even through high school. I tried for a long time to fit in or “be normal”. I’m glad I got over that. Though I will confess that I still reign it in a little from time to time. My youngest watched lots of WoWP. I think he had a small crush on Selena Gomez. I own a duplicate necklace to one Harper wore on an episode (did that make sense). Hey-have fun on your vavay!!

    • Thank you so much Gina. Which necklace do you have? It cracks me up that they make such a big deal on the show about Harper’s styles being so wacky (and ok some are) bu generally I love her use of bright, happy colours and individuality. You can’t imagine the smile on my face when I read you husband got to my post first and called you to see it :D it was something like that :D

      • You crack me up! When I googled WoWP Harper Finkle you were all over it. You’re famous! The necklace is an enamel green and yellow bird on a branch with gold backing and a gold chain. Not real gold of course. It’s about 4×2 in. so it’s a good size. I’d attach a picture but that would take work and I’m feeling lazy at the moment. Again-it was my husband who noticed it and pointed it out. He’s good for so many things!

  13. Omg so much awesome! I’ve seen only a few eps of WoWP but of course I can see Harper Finkle in this! From your instagrams this week I thought you were doing Strawberry Shortcake, but she wears pinafores. This is way cooler :)

    Maybe we can convince Mena to do another TV challenge in the fall. If you do Femme Doctor I’ll do Femme Sherlock :D

    • Ohh thank you do much. I’d love to see you as a femme Sherlock….I’m obsessed with Benedict Cumberbatch’s red buttonhole on his big coat (I’m a sucker for little details like that).

  14. I have never seen the show before, but that was an awesome inspiration for you. It’s like you in a former life played out on TV. Scratching my head, but makes sense to me. I love it.

  15. AhhhHHHHHHHhhhhh! This is my favorite Tempest dress yet. It’s amazing! I love it, love it, love it, and Vegas is a great place to wear something so fun and interesting and Tempest. :) Thanks for the lead on the show, it’s always nice to find out about quality programs with solid characters… :)

    • Yep, this one came out pretty good. Im getting to the stage now where I just about grade up Butterick, Simplicity, McCalls & Vogue patterns to my size (I don’t think I’ve found one pattern maker who makes my size, every week brings the moment of truth lump in my throat to see if I’ve done my calculations right and it actually fits me). And yes, this is a very Tempest dress, thank you for the loverly compliments! :)

  16. I like how in the first photo, the wing look like a halo. You are like a strawberry angel.

  17. I’ve never seen this show but, it looks like the perfect inspiration for you. What cute outfits. I just love your strawberry interpretation! It’s adorable!

    By the way, the femme Doctor… that’s a must!!

  18. I want to see this show! Where can I watch it? It sounds a bit like “Ugly Betty”. Great dress, so fun and fruity! I’ll be on vacation soon and I want to post on the fly. What did you use to resize pics? Looks like you’re having fun in Sin City!

    • It’s a kids/tweens show on Disney. Good luck with the posting whilst away, I tried to get as much beforehand as possible and resized & dealt with exposure problems & made collages using which is an absolutely superb free website by some of the creators of the defunct picnik. Thanks :)

  19. I love this. I have never seen this show and actually had to look up the character and the series on google (and put it on my “to watch list” after doing so) but this seems to be the absolutely perfect character for you! What great photos – for a moment I thought you were in Paris but the Eiffel tower seemed way too small to be real…

    • Haha sorry I almost fooled you with the Eiffel Tower, it’s not half as lovely as the real thing, but it’s not bad. I actually had an awful landlord when I first moved to the USA who proudly didn’t have a passport and declared he didn’t need one, because why did he need to see the world when the best bits were in Vegas (and he was being deadly serious! Sad really).

  20. Just like the Moschino, and fits you beautifully! The pincushion hat is hilarious. Have fun on your travels.

    • Thank you so much Lee, I think I beginning to get this tailoring business….I think I’m running out of excuses to finally try the trousers making….especially seeing your gorgeous versions the last few weeks.

  21. Amazing! I love your inspiration and your finished dress!