Saturday, June 13, 2015

McCall's 7046

This little dress has been finished for couple of months, but the Princess just now had a chance to road test it this afternoon.  This is McCall's 7046 View C:

This is an adorable and easy little pattern with options for a top or a dress, with 3 sleeve choices (4 if you count sleeveless) and an option for a single or a double tiered skirt.

We chose view C, the sleeveless dress with double tiered skirt.  It seemed appropriate for the season and for a 13 year old young lady.

The fabric is an ITY knit from  I originally ordered it for myself, but she liked the colors and the print and it seemed like it would work well for this design, so I decided to change plans.  I love it on her.

The pattern is labeled "easy" and it was.  I cut a 12 through the bodice and a 14 through the hip.  I probably could have sewed a 10/12, but I didn't want it to be skin tight.  The instructions were pretty easy.  The ruching at the sides is created by sewing elastic into the side seam allowances.  I don't care for the way McCall's finished the neckline and armholes- turn under and stitch, so I bound the armholes and added a band for the neck.  I think it gives it a nicer finish:

I had planned to roll hem the flounces with red thread, but I got ahead of myself and stitched and serged the side seams, and then I was afraid I'd get a bumpy mess when I tried to roll hem over the finished seams, so I just left them raw.  They hang nicely and the fabric doesn't curl at all, so all's well that ends well.

The Princess wasn't really in the mood for taking photos, so I'm lucky I got these.  She likes her dress and I can see us making this again.  I think it would be cute with one of the sleeve options for fall.  In the meantime, she should get plenty of use out of this one.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Burda Style 06-2015-121

This past weekend I put the finishing touches on dress #121 from the June issue of Burda Style and took it out for a road test.

This short knit dress was pictured like so in the magazine:

Here's what Burda had to say about it:  A stunning entrance and a great dress!  It absolutely hugs the figure with gathered front and back seams, and sewn without a zipper.  The sumptuous fabric takes it over the top for a real statement piece.  The short kimono sleeves, with the double pointed darts, sit perfectly.

I have to say, it was the center front and back gathers that drew me to this dress.  I thought they looked very flattering on the model and could possibly work for me, too.  Burda has done dresses similar to this before, but this time I just had to make it.

It is a figure-hugging dress, but the cut is perfect and the gathers sit just so across the lower back- no swayback adjustment needed!

The pattern is offered in sizes 34-42 and I knew I would have to grade up, but it was super easy.  I graded up to a 44 from shoulder to hip and to a 46 from the hip to the hem.  That was the only change I made- I didn't add any length at the waistline like I normally do.  I "eyeballed' the pattern and it looked like it was plenty long enough... and it was. The fit is spot on.

I did find that this pattern runs long.  I traced and cut on the longer skirt line for this view (with a 1" hem allowance) and I ended up cutting about 3.5 inches off.

The pattern is super simple to put together.  There are only 5 pieces including facings, but it is a 3 dot pattern, probably due to the underarm gussets.  You have to sew 4 inset corners- 2 front and 2 back.  You can see a close up of the gusset above.  It extends from the sleeve hem to the waist and adds shape and interest to the simple design.

I didn't really use the instructions (it's pretty intuitive) except for the measurements to gather the CF and CB.  I didn't like the way Burda said to sew the CF and CB together, so I cut a length of stay tape and gathered first one side to the tape and then the other.  The tape is hidden in the seam allowance and adds stability to the seam, but no bulk.

The collar can be worn open or closed.  You could easily add a button and loop at the neckline if you wanted to.  I like it both ways, but I'll wear this one open because I foolishly forgot to interface my facings and my collar is limp and wants to flop.

I ended up hand sewing the bottom of the neckline slit closed about an extra 1.25".  It wasn't particularly scandalous, but it looks better this way because the lack of interfacing left it unsupported and it pulled awkwardly.  Oh, well.  It's a work dress, anyway.

Burda describes the fabric in the model photo as "sumptuous" and I knew fabric choice would be key for this dress.  I found this ITY knit at JoAnn's and instantly fell in love with the gorgeous blues and greens and the stylized floral mosaic design.  It was perfect for this dress, which, by the way, takes only 2 yards!

I love the way this turned out.  It looks great, it's comfortable, it doesn't take much fabric, and it's easy to sew.  My daughter likes it, too.  That's why I already traced and cut one out for her!  I highly recommend this pattern and I might even make it again for myself.  I don't know that one is enough!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Burda Style 02-2015-128

A while back I was on a sweatshirt kick and I new the minute I saw top #128 in the February 2015 issue of Burda Style that I had to make it.  Seeing one of my favorite bloggers make a cool, color blocked version of it also helped.

I love the boxy, relaxed shape of this top and the angled seaming intrigued me and added interest to what is otherwise, a simple t-shirt.

You can't really tell from the tech drawings, but this top has a 2 piece sleeve.  There is a normal seam that runs under the arm from wrist to underarm, and an angled seam that runs from the back shoulder around the top of the arm to the front of the wrist.

There are also normal side seams.  The diagonal back seams match up to the lower front seams at the side creating a line that travels from the back neck around under the arm to the front hem.  The bust darts add a bit of shaping and help to balance the diagonal lines.

I nade a straight size 44.  The only adjustment I made was to add about 1.5" of length to the hem, which I did by tracing the pattern a little bit further down (this pattern is also offered in a longer dress version.)

Although this is a great pattern for color blocking, I chose to use one fabric, this basket weave textured knit I found on sale at Hancock's a few months ago.  I love the look of it, and it has just the right beefy texture (similar to a ponte) that I wanted to give this top a sweatshirt look and feel.  But it's a very "plastic" feeling polyester.  It doesn't breathe at all so it isn't very comfortable to wear.

Oh, well.  I will definitely make this again in a better fabric.  I also want to have another go at those inset shoulder seams.  The ones in the front turned out pretty well, but the ones in the back aren't quite sharp enough.  I also think I might need a small FBA to add some length in the front.

I love the look of this and it was relatively easy to make.  The inset shoulders require some careful sewing and clipping, but nothing too difficult.  The neckline is finished by top stitching the seam allowances of the slit and then binding the neck edge, but you could easily draft a facing if you prefer.

Over all I'm quite pleased with this pattern and I'm tucking it away for fall.  It will make a great sweatshirt alternative for cooler weather.

Monday, May 11, 2015

McCall's 6713

I finished up McCall's 6713 about a month or two ago, when it was still really too cool for a sleeveless dress.  Today was my second time to take it out on a test run to work.

I can't really say for sure what I was thinking when I chose this pattern.  I picked it up in a 99 cent sale at Hancock's and I had just received an order of fabric in the mail, and I guess I just got sucked in…

The line drawing is much more exciting than the pattern photo.  I don't know what possessed me to make view A, but that's what I did.  

I cut a 16 and added 1.5" of length to the bodice.  I did not make a muslin, but just eyeballed the pattern pieces in front of the mirror.  Now that it's done, I wish I had added about an inch more.  It's wearable, but I find myself tugging it down every now and then.

This is me holding up the skirt drape.  The interesting thing about this pattern is that the bodice is completely self lined and the drape is also double thickness- so the wrong side of the fabric does't show.  That means a lot of bulk at the waist seam, but my fabric is thin and it doesn't seem to cause any problems.  More on fabric in a minute…

I pretty much followed the pattern instructions.  I eliminated the elastic at the waist, although I may go back and add it.  It might help keep the bodice from riding up a little bit.

I also topstitched the entire neckline a scant 3/8" from the edge forming a casing through which I threaded 1/4" elastic.  It works just like adding clear elastic to a neckline and helps prevent gaping.  You can see some slight gathering at the center back neckline in the photo above, but it doesn't bother me and it's usually covered by my hair anyway.

I think I added a little bit of length to the skirt, too, but I can't find the pattern right now to double check.

The neckline is ever so slightly too deep to wear to work, so a safety pin is a necessity.  (I don't have it pinned in these photos.)

My fabric is an ITY "Mosaic" print from  I loved this fabric the moment I saw it and I think that's part of why I chose to dive into this project so quickly- I wanted to use this gorgeous print.  The fabric itself isn't that great.  It's thin and slippery, although it worked well for the double thickness of the lined bodice and the drape.  A good, stiff wind will blow the skirt around, though, so I do have to be careful.

I'm not completely in love with this dress and I can't really say exactly why.  Maybe it's because the bodice length isn't quite right and because I can feel it, I think others can tell as well.  Although that's irrational- no one notices and in fact, I've gotten a few compliments on this dress.  Maybe it's because it's sleeveless and I feel self conscious about my upper arms.  That doesn't make a whole lot of sense either because I have worn an aqua colored cardigan over over it to ward off the chill in my office.

I can't help but wonder if I would have been happier with view C or D.  Straight skirts seem to be more "me."  And perhaps a solid fabric would have been better to show off the draping and gathering at the shoulders and waist.  Maybe one of these days I'll give this pattern another chance.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Burda Style 06-2011-105

When the June issue of Burda Style arrived back in 2011 I remember being disappointed.  There wasn't much in it that interested me- nothing that I wanted to make.  It's funny how sometimes I come back to an issue that didn't inspire me at the time it was issued, but now I find hidden gems just waiting to be made.

Case in point was dress #105 which I ran across while surfing the Burda website looking for something else entirely.

I was intrigued by the unusual take on the shirt dress.  the crisp white linen and contrasting satin cuffs and hem band added to my interest.  I immediately went to my back issues and found the magazine.

Do you prefer the clear and concise?  Then you'll love this dress with it's straight cut and wide satin bands.  As a whimsical touch, the buttons continue along the neck edge.

I chose view B with it's ventless cuffs and top stitching on the yoke seams, which are the shoulder seams brought forward.  There are no darts in this design.  The bust fullness is caught into soft gathers at the yokes.  The button band goes all the way around the neck.  Really, it's just a simple button up shirt with a solid hem band at the bottom extending it into a dress.

Although I love the white linen version, I really didn't want a white dress.  I'm way too accident prone and I could just imagine dripping ketchup or barbecue sauce down the front!

The fabric I chose is a wine colored linen/rayon blend from Joann's.  It's not exactly a summer color, but it's pretty and I like it with my skin and hair.  I chose to use the same fabric throughout and not try to match satin for the cuffs and hem band.

The fabric was a dream to sew- soft but stable.  I washed and dried the daylights out of it in the hottest water and on the highest heat cycle, twice, to preshrink it and ensure that the finished dress would be wash and wear.  These photos were taken after a long day at work.  There are a few wrinkles, but not too bad.

I cut my "usual" Burda size- 42 shoulder, 44 bust, and 46 hip.  No grading was required because this dress was generously offered in sizes 38 to 46.  My adjustments were minimal- 1 3/8" of length added at the waist, 1 1/2" of length added right above the hem band, and a 1/2" FBA with the excess taken into the gathers at the yoke.  I made a muslin and the pattern, as drafted, ran short for my taste, hence the extra length added above the hem.  I also narrowed the shoulders by 1/4".

The V neckline is deep, but because of the way the shaped button bands are cut, it feels modest enough for me.  I wore this to work without a cami and felt fine all day.

The pattern is drafted well and all of the pieces go together perfectly.  It's a 2 dot pattern and a beginner could make this with careful attention to detail.  Attaching the neckband involves some convex curves sewn to some concave curves, so stay stitching, clipping, and careful pinning is required.

Although I like this dress, one is quite enough for me.  I could possibly see making the blouse version, which is just the dress minus the hem band, and with vents in the side seams.

This is a great pattern for a loose, comfortable, unique take on the shirt dress.  If you are looking for something a little different give this pattern a try.  And if you have any Burda back issues that didn't do anything for you at the time they came out, give them another look.  You never know when you might find something you like that you didn't notice before.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Burda Style 08-2009-137

This dress has been finished for over a month.  I've been waiting for just the right combination of an available photographer, sunlight, and motivation to take pictures.  Today is the first day in about 2 weeks that the sun has shown its face, so I decided it was time.

This is Burda Style 08-2009-137.

It was part of the plus offering in that issue and was pictured like so:

I was drawn to the design, but puzzled because the photo shows a rather close-fitting dress, while the tech drawing shows a more structured piece with unusual shaping.

I'm still kind of puzzled even after finishing the dress.  I started with my "normal" Burda size and made a muslin size 44.  It was big- loose and baggy.  I made a 3/8" petite adjustment above the bust to bring the horizontal seam up to the right place and to shorten the darts.  That helped a lot.

I used quilting cotton for the muslin and ironically, I think that the dress was more interesting in the stiffer fabric.  It certainly made the lantern shaped sleeves and the rounded skirt stand out more.

I ended up using ponte knit for the final dress.  It's certainly comfortable and I like the color, but the fabric is really too limp to show off the design to the best advantage.  I believe the magazine called for a woven wool (I don't have it handy to check) and in this case I probably should have used the suggested fabric or something similar.

When I had the dress basted together, I tried it on and it was still way too big.  The horizontal seams were okay, but I had to take the sides in about 1/2" on each side from just under the arm to the hip.  Even with those adjustments, it is still loose on me.  I decided that was okay.  Everyone needs at least one loose dress in their wardrobe.

At the last  moment, I also decided to change the slouchy collar to a simple band.  I like the look, but unfortunately I didn't cut my band short enough and I have some rippling in the front.

Looking at these pictures, I have to admit this project is a fail.  The dress doesn't fit quite right, the seams look puckery, and the band is wonky.  I wonder if taking it in to be more fitted like the photo is worth the effort.

At this point, I think not.  I'm ready to move on to something else:

I traced Burda Style 10-2014-139 and cut out a muslin today.  I am interested to see how this goes together and how it looks on.  The dress in the photo is clearly too big for the plus sized model.  Although Burda describes it as a "figure-concealing A-line dress" with a "sixties look," I like the style lines and I think if it was fitted better, this could be a really pretty dress.  I guess we'll see.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Simplicity 1317 A Sweatshirt That Works

Occasionally everything comes together just right and I end up with a project that I'm really pleased with.  Simplicity 1317 is one of those projects.  I am thrilled with the way this top turned out.

After being disappointed in the Burda pattern from the last post, I turned my attention to this simple sweatshirt pattern from Simplicity.  It's a raglan sleeve sweatshirt with a neckband, two sleeve options, and an optional hip band.  It was the raglan sleeves that cinched it for me.  I figured they would fit better and be more flattering than the dropped shoulders of the Burda top.

My fabric is this red and black ponte "scroll" from Hancock's.  I love the colors and the pattern, and it has a nice beefy texture which seemed perfect for a dressy sweatshirt.  It was a bit pricey at 19.99/yard, but it was on sale for 40% off and I only needed 1 yard for this project.

The sleeves and neckband are plain black ponte, also from Hancock's.

This pattern is sized XXS through XXL and I didn't really trust the back of the envelope.  If I had gone by my measurements and made a size L, I think I would have been disappointed.  Instead, I measured a favorite RTW sweatshirt and compared it to the pattern tissue.  I decided to go with a Medium and just add a bit at the sides to give myself the extra ease needed to mimic the RTW shirt.  Basically I used the M cutting line as my seam line and added 5/8" extra to the sides.

I also added 1.5" of length at the waist and another 1" to the hem.  That allowed me to keep the deep, 2" hem allowance and have the top still be long enough to look nice and cover the top of my jeans.  I shortened the sleeve by 5/8", not because I really needed to, but to fit the pattern piece on my fabric.  The sleeves turned out just right.

I decided before cutting to eliminate the hem band.  I felt that a plain, straight hem would be comfortable, flattering, and look more polished than a contrast band snugged up around my hips.

The pattern pieces are well drafted and go together very easily.  In fact, I don't think I even looked at the instructions.  The neckline seems wide once you sew the backs, fronts, and sleeves together, but the neckband is cut perfectly- you stretch it to fit the top while you sew and then it snugs up just right to lie perfectly flat.  I added a row of topstitching close to the neckline seam to keep the allowance in place inside.  (This is one of those patterns that changes to a 3/8" seam allowance at the neck- you have to watch out for that.)  I love the finished neckline, too.  It's wide enough to be comfortable and flattering, but you could easily layer another top, even a turtleneck underneath for extra warmth.

There is no waist shaping in this pattern.  The sides are straight and the finished top is boxy.  I like it, especially since that is the relaxed look I was going for, but I think I might like to make this again and experiment with nipping the waist in just a bit.

And I will be making this again.  It's so easy and I like the finished top so much, how could I not?  The Princess wants one, too.  I am already on the lookout for my next fabric combination.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Burda Style 09-2014-114 When Sweatshirts Go Wrong

I finished Burda Style 09-2014-114 a little over a week ago.  I was so excited to make this top- really looking forward to making a "fancy sweatshirt."

It didn't turn out quite like I'd hoped...

This top was pictured in the magazine like so:

Flashdance flashback anyone?

It was also pictured in plaid fleece with light contrast sleeves and hem band:

Both versions look like loose, easy pieces that could easily be paired with jeans or a skirt... or (ahem) leather shorts.  

I made a straight size 44.  I really should have gone down to a 42 at the shoulder, but I figured it wouldn't make a whole lot of difference.  

It turned out huge.  This thing swallows me.  The sleeves are too long, and the neckline is way too wide.  I feel like I'm swimming in this.

Pushing up the sleeves helps, but not a lot.  Nothing can really help the neckline, though.  I planned to layer this over another top, but as it turns out, I don't have a choice.  The neckline literally extends out to my shoulders.

Funny thing is, though, it really looks like it was designed that way:

Size issues aside, this is a very easy, straightforward pattern.  There are only 5 pattern pieces including the wrist and hem bands, which are rectangles with measurements provided.

The front and back are nearly identical- the front neckline is just slightly lower than the back.

I used a printed ponte from for the front and back, and black ponte from Hancock Fabrics for the sleeves and bands.  The print fabric is very light and soft and doesn't have quite as much body as the black fabric.  I think it's almost too light for this project.  A little more body may have helped this over-sized design.

Grrrrrr...  I'm just not happy with this.  Looking at the pictures, I wonder if it's even worth cutting it apart and trying to reduce the top.  I could kick myself for not making a muslin and figuring out that there were problems, but I thought how could a simple sweatshirt go wrong?

The back doesn't look so bad.  Well, except that the sleeves are still too long.

What could possibly make this top look better?

I know, pairing it with a 2014 Corvette Stingray convertible!  Sadly, the car is not mine.  It's just a fun shot of the top "on location."

I still want a fancy sweatshirt and I'm not going to let this pattern defeat me.  I'm going to try again with Simplicity 1317 and a different design:

I already have a red and black textured knit picked out for view C.  I think I will like the raglan sleeves better and the neck band on this pattern looks like it will be more comfortable and flattering.

I will have to think some more about 09-2014-114.  Maybe I will take it apart and re-work it.  We'll see...