Saturday, February 28, 2009


It's the end of February. The year is roughly 17% over, and I thought I'd take stock. So far this year I have finished 10 garments ranging from simple boys' shirts to a jeans skirt. Nine of those ten pieces have been sewn entirely of stash fabric! I estimate I've sewn about 18 yards of stash fabric, and I really haven't bought much to replace it. With the exception of a little bit of quilting cotton for sashing on my two quilt tops and the blue houndstooth, I've done really well keeping my fabric purchases to a minimum. I'm hoping I can keep it up for a while and get the stash sewn down significantly.

Of course once the stash is sewn down, I can go out and acquire new fabric! It's all about making room.

The other night I got my mojo on and traced this:

This is BWOF 02-2009-112, the flirty black and white trench coat. Now this pattern is a petite pattern, and I am not petite. Well, technically I guess my arms and legs are, but the rest of me- not so much.

I traced the size 21, which corresponds to a standard size 42 (why do all the really cute patterns only go up to a 42?) and then I used Angie's method for sizing it up one size to correspond to a 44. I moved the pattern piece over/in one size and traced again. I also had to "un-petite" the pattern by adding 3/8" of length to all of the pieces above the bust and again between the bust and the waist. Since I have short arms, I only added length to the sleeves above the bust (I had to- it's a raglan), and left the lower sleeve as is.

I made a muslin and it seems to fit just fine. I will add one more inch of length to the body pieces at the waist- a standard adjustment for me- and then I'll cut out the fashion fabric. I'll be using a pretty black stretch twill with white vines and flowers. I guess there will be more top stitching in my future.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green

I have another finished project to show. This is Simplicity 2798 and it is my last contribution to the Stash Contest over at Pattern Review.
This is a Project Runway pattern with B,C, D cup pattern pieces. I started out by cutting the size 14 through the shoulder and a straight size 16 from the underarm down. I added 1" of length at the waist and 1" of length between the waist and hem so that I would have enough to turn up for a hem. The pattern is short and I wanted it to come at least to the middle of my knee. The muslin looked good, if just a little snug through the midsection, so I decided to just use a 1/2" seam allowance from the waist down instead of 5/8". I got the dress cut out of the fashion fabric, a nice, light green moleskin that's been aging in my stash for probably about three years, and sewed it up. When I tried it on, it was just too big. The bust was saggy, the midsection was too big, and it just kind of hung on me like a green sack. What happened to the cute dress the muslin promised to be? All I can figure is that the moleskin is a much heavier fabric than the cheap, lightweight cotton I used for the muslin, and the weight of the fabric pulled the dress down and out of shape. I know I certainly didn't get any smaller since the muslin was made! I could have cut a straight 14 and been just fine, but how was I to know?
Anyway, to save the dress, I took the princess seams and the side seams in 1/4" each. This also took in the extra from the smaller seam allowances on the lower half of the dress. The dress looked better, but it decreased the size of the armhole slightly which made it difficult to set the sleeves in. I got them in, but there are a few puckers. Of course, no one in my real life will ever notice, so I'm not going to worry about it!
And speaking of the sleeves, aren't these things cute?
They have overlapping pleats!

(Sorry the pics are so dark- the sun was already going down and my photographer is only 7 years old!)
And after all that drama of the bodice being too big, the sleeve bands were way too small. I wouldn't have even been able to get my arms in them as they were drafted! I had to cut new ones, so I measured my arm, added a little extra for ease and then seam allowances. I can't remember exactly how long they were, but I think had to add almost 2" to the original length.
I originally planned on making the cute tabs that button onto the waist of the dress, but honestly, I knew the moleskin was going to be a pain to work with. It's hard to press and it would be aggravating trying to get those tabs turned right side out and pressed so that they were even and didn't look like a disaster. So I decided at the last minute to leave them off. After I got to thinking about it, I decided it's probably for the best anyway. They are cute, but I'm sure I'd catch the tab or the buttons on something and snag the dress.
I used light green poly satin for the yoke facings and the pocket linings. The moleskin would have just been too bulky. The satin feels really nice inside the pockets. I really should have used an invisible zipper, but I couldn't find one in any shade of green, much less one that went with my fabric (and I checked three different stores!) So I went with what I had on hand- a plain old flat zipper. It was either that or let this become a UFO. And I don't need any more of those.

I still have the January BWOF high waist skirt waiting to be made, and I'm itching to start on a few things from the February BWOF, but I'm starting to think about making some cute little spring dresses for the Princess. Stay tuned for some previews of some smocked dresses!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

BWOF 01-2009-132 It's a Wrap!

From the plus update section of the January issue: Narrow skirt with shaped waistband, tasteful jeans-style top stitching and kick pleat.

Now I wouldn't have looked at this skirt twice, and actually, I didn't, except the technical drawing caught my eye. The magazine photos just don't show off this skirt very well at all.

It's actually a very nice skirt with great lines, interesting details, and a shape that I thought would work for me. Plus, it looked like it would be fun- just enough detail to hold my interest, but not so difficult that I would get frustrated; yet not so easy that I would get bored.
The pattern is offered in sizes 46 through 52. I traced the 46 and made a muslin from the unadjusted pieces. This is the first "fitted" skirt I've made from BWOF (well, the first one since about 1991, and that's too long ago to count) and I wasn't sure how it would fit. Turns out, the fit was great from the hip down. The waist, however, was a little too big. No problem. The design is simple enough that I was able to "sculpt" the waist area to fit me. I took it in a little bit at a time and kept trying it on until I was satisfied with the fit, and then I transferred the adjustments to the pattern pieces. I ended up taking in about 1/2" at the side seams, tapering to nothing about 3" below the waist seam, and about 3/16" at the top of the side back seams, tapering to nothing about 3" down. In total, I removed about 2 and 3/4". My pattern is already trimmed, but here is a pic of the muslin pieces so you can see what I did:
The side:

The side back:

As you can see, the back yoke is one piece from the CB to the side, so my adjustment at the side back made it neccessary to remove a little bit of width from this piece. I just slashed and overlapped.

I love the way the top edge of the yoke sits right at my natural waist. This is the most comfortable, and I think, most flattering look for me. But since this skirt doesn't have an actual wastband, but a yoke, I think you could make it to sit lower on the hip if you wanted to. You'd just have to pin fit it until you got it how you liked it.

I used this really cool dark denim with magenta weft that I've had in my stash for several years. I've been saving it for something special and I just decided it was time to use it. I almost used the wrong side of this fabric as the right side. I love the pink! (Ihave quite a bit left, though, so I may still do it!) I used a pink and purple "marble" quilting cotton for the waist facings and the pocket linings, mainly to reduce bulk.

The denim isn't super heavy, but come on, it's denim! I also thought the cotton facings added a little bit of interest. No one will ever see it but me, but I like knowing it's there.
One of my favorite things about this skirt is all of the top stitched detail. It's definately jeans-styled, but you'd never know it from the black on black skirt pictured in the magazine.

I decided to go with contrasting top stitching, so I chose magenta all purpose cotton thread. I love the look. The magenta picks up the purplish pink tinge to the denim, plus, it's just different. The only drawback is that I used regular Coats and Clark thread for the construction and I had to change the thread often to do the top stitching. It got a little tedious. (I'd love to solve this little problem by getting a second machine!)
The curved top stitching at the bottom of the pocket area is purely decorative. It is sewn onto the side front pieces only, before the pockets are assembled. I made a template from the pattern piece and then used a chalk marker to draw it onto the fabric. Then I sewed right on the marked line.

The button placket on the yoke is also strictly decorative. You can see that the facing piece inside is all one piece. The skirt closes with an invisible zipper at the center back.

I ended up hemming this a little long. It's rather close fitting and I just felt that close fitting and short on a woman my age would be, well... a little too much. Or not enough, depending on how you look at it. Besides, I pinned up the hem at several lengths and looked in the mirror and this is where I liked it best. It's kind of funny, but the tchnical drawing had me thinking that this would be a much shorter skirt than it turned out to be. The magazine photos, such as they are, are much more accurate in terms of length.

The instructions for this skirt were okay. BWOF has a reputation for having confusing instructions, but I think the lack of illustrations is the real problem. At least it is for me. I felt that the instructions for the vents were confusing, but only because I couldn't picture what I was supposed to do. I'm sure with a good diagram it would have made perfect sense. In any case, I used my experience from making vents on other projects and my intuition as to what seemed to be the right thing to do, and I got them done.

I decided to leave off the belt loops. I almost never wear a belt, and I didn't think the skirt needed them, so I just ignored them. I'm sure they would have been easy to add if I'd chosen to do so.

I am extremely pleased with this skirt. I highly recommend it if you like this kind of casual look. You could dress it up quite a bit with a different fabric. The all black skirt pictured in the magazine isn't as flashy, but it still has lots of detail and looks like a great piece for the office or for church.I imagine you could make a really nice skirt out of khaki or even white twill for summer. Hmmm... I already have the pattern adjusted to fit me- I might just make another one myself!

Stay tuned for progress on the other skirt from this issue, BWOF 01-2009-113. Also, Simplicity 2798 is coming along and I should have photos to show soon!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Flounced Skirt Times Two!

Let me take just a second to thank everyone who commented on the pink military dress and on the blue flounced skirt. Thanks! It means a lot to me that y'all take the time to check out what I'm doing and leave me a comment. You guys rock!

And thanks for the comments on the quilt top, too. Several people suggested that white might not be such a good choice for the binding. I know y'all are right, it's just that the quilt featured in the pattern photo looks so good with the white border. Believe me, I know that it will most likely end up looking dingy and showing wear. So I'm considering several other options. I'm getting ahead of myself though. I still need to piece the back and get the thing quilted! When the time comes for the binding, I will probably audition several choices and ask y'all for input.

Now, on to the skirt. Here is BWOF 11-2008-104 again, in brown moleskin:

I used the size 46 pattern again with no adjustments. The only changes I made were to topstitch the princess seams and the seams that join the flounces to the side panels:

I also hemmed this one just a smidge shorter (as suggested by an anonymous comment-Thanks!) and I made the elastic in the back waistband just a tad more snug. I wore it to work already this week and it was very comfortable.

I love the moleskin fabric in this. It's heavier and more substantial than the blue fabric of the previous skirt, and yet it still has good drape. It also has a wonderful satiny finish to the wrong side which feels great against the skin and practically eliminates the need for a slip. (I'm a die-hard slip wearer!)

I do want to make this again sometime this spring using cotton prints. For now, however, I'm moving on to these:

BWOF 01-2009-132

BWOF 01-2009-113

I've already done a quick and dirty muslin of both skirts and I'm almost ready to cut into my fashion fabric! I'll be working on these this weekend, and sharing the process as I get them done. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Spring Spirit

I promised a picture of the Spring Spirit quilt top, so here it is:

It's done! The top, that is. Obviously there is much more work to be done, not the least of which is quilting it. There are no borders on this one. The squares go all the way out to the edges with just a narrow binding. The pattern in the magazine showed a white binding which looks very nice and that is what I am leaning towards, but I have not decided for sure yet. I do know I want/need to do a pieced backing. I don't have enough of any one coordinating fabric in my stash to do a solid backing, and besides, I like the idea of making the back just as interesting as the front. I'm pretty sure the yellow cat print will be featured prominently. After all, this quilt is for the Princess and that's her favorite fabric.

I started the next version of BWOF 11-2008-104 last night. I'm using tan moleskin and so far it looks great! I decided to add decorative top-stitiching to this one and so far I'm really liking the look. Stay tuned for pics and an update soon!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Blue Skirt Photo Shoot

BWOF 11-2008-104 is finished! I love this skirt!

I love it so much in fact, that I've already cut another one!

Excuse the wrinkles, the photos were taken right after sitting for two hours in church.

I cut a size 46 and made no adjustments to the pattern. The finished skirt turned out perfect through the hips- maybe even a tad loose with pantyhose on underneath. The waist was very loose, so I had to do some "doctoring" on it. After the skirt was finished, I opened up the waistband at the side seam and at the button end. I inserted a 1" wide piece of elastic (cut two inches shorter than the finished back half of the waistband) and anchored it by stitching across the waistband at the right side seam and right next to the button. Then I stitched the waistband closed again. So now I have a skirt with a flat, fitted waistband in the front and a slightly elasticised waistband in the back. I love it! The band hugs my waist and still expands as I move or as my waist "fluctuates" throughout the day.

I wore this to work the other day and it was comfortable and fresh looking all day! I give it an A+.

The fabric is a light-weight turquoise and black mini-houndstooth. The hand is comparable to a rayon challis- very drapey. I've already cut a second version in a brown moleskin. I wanted to use something a little more substantial to show off the lines a little better. I might topstitch the front panels and the angled seam at the top of the side flounce. I think this would also look really cute in denim.

I also have an idea for this skirt using cotton prints. You will most definately be seeing it again!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Muslining We Go

While I'm still basking in the euphoria of a finally finished project, I decided to go ahead and do a couple of muslins and get started on some new projects. You have to strike while the iron is hot, right?

First up is skirt #104 from BWOF 11-2008.

What an awesome design! Unfortunately, no one seems to have really noticed it because the picture in the magazine kind of hides it.

I still need to put in a side zipper so I can try this baby on, but it's looking hopeful. I love the lines on this. You get the slimming lines of a straight skirt with the "princess" seams and the flat panels in front and back, and you get the flattering look of an A-line with the side flounces. What's not to love?
I'm also working on this one.
Simplicity 2798 is a Project Runway pattern and get this: It has multi bust cup sizing!!! I didn't even realize it until I pulled it out of the envelope and started exploring. I'm making the plain purple view in the photo. It looks like a good dress for work or church (the only places I go where I would need to wear a dress) and I'm thinking a solid color. Apple green is at the top of my list.
In other news, I wore the pink dress to work yesterday to road test it. I'm going to give it an A-. I love the color and from the empire seam on up the dress is great. I felt like the skirt was slightly "balloony," but that could have been because my fabric was slightly heavier than the suggestions on the envelope. It's not bad enough to stop me from wearing it. Surprisingly, the gabardine was very comfortable to wear and I found myself thinking that I could use more items made from it. (Just what I need considering how hard it was to press, right?) The only real issue that I had with the dress was that the tie around the underbust kept sliding down and drooping between the carriers (belt loops). There are only three carriers- one at center back, and two on the front just below the darts. I think I could easily fix this little problem by adding a little velcro or a snap under the tie to hold it up just behind the side seams. Heck, I could even stitch it in place if I wanted to since it doesn't need to move in the back.
I did get several compliments on the dress and the color was really fun, so I'll wear it, but I definately won't make this view again.
My sewing machine is calling me, so I'm off to work some more on my muslins. I plan to make both of these new projects out of stash fabric, so if I get myself in gear, I'll have a couple more items to add to the stash contest over at Pattern Review!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's Finally Done!

Simplicity 2694, that is!

I am so happy to be done with this dress. Have you ever had one of those projects that you just started out so excited over, but as it went on, you kind of fell out of love with it? This was one of those projects. I saw the pattern online, ran out and bought it, started the dress, and then just ran out of steam on it. Now, I am sort of a slow sew-er, but this project just seemed to drag. I felt like no matter how long or how often I worked on it, it wasn't getting anywhere.

After working on it on and off for over two weeks, and then almost all day today, S2694, the Military Dress, is finally finished.

Why do I call it the Military Dress? Well, when I first saw the pattern photo, I was lured in by the solid color, the brass buttons, and the shoulder flaps, all of which are "military" style elements. Besides, if I'm making it, I can call it whatever I want, right?

I started out cutting a straight size 16. The dress has an empire waist and the skirt is loose, so I didn't need to taper out to an 18 like I usually do with a more fitted style. I made a 7/8" FBA like so:

I slashed up through the waist dart to the bust point and then to the armhole seamline leaving a hinge. I then slashed from the side seam to the bust point leaving a hinge at the bust point. I spread the tissue 7/8" and then I slashed from the waist dart to the center front, perpendicular to the grainline and spread that 7/8" also.

Once I filled in with tissue and got everything taped down, I drew a new, wider waist dart and I redrew a new line from the center of the new side dart to the old bust point (orange line) and redrew the side dart so that it angled up toward the old bust point rather than down (as the slashed area did.)

The waist darts were rather wide to begin with, and they were even more so with the added width of my adjustment. I had a heck of a time sewing them and getting them to end off without a big 'ole point. I compensated by curving the dart- kind of following the natural shape of the bust- so that the end of the dart was very narrow and it blended in better. I forgot to take a picture of the actual dart. I'll try and get one later.

The only other adjustment I made to the pattern was to add an inch and a quarter to the length of the skirt. As you can see in the pattern photo, the dress is very short. Even the longer version is much too short for me. I made a muslin without any extra length and I liked where the raw edge of the skirt hit my leg, so I added 1.25" just to have a hem to turn up.

The pattern itself was pretty easy, but time consuming. There was lots of topstitching. All optional, of course, but crucial to the final look of the dress. I used a gabardine blend from Hancock Fabrics which was a pain to work with. It was almost impossible to press well (I pressed the dress before the pics were taken and you can still see wrinkles and a "just hemmed" look to the bottom.) It was also bulky in some areas. The shoulder flaps are lined, and in order to reduce bulk, I used broadcloth for the lining rather than fashion fabric. I also used broadcloth to line the pockets.

The pattern instructions called for just turning under the edge and then topstitching them down, but that would have left a raw edge inside the pockets, and the gabardine was very ravelly and would have made a mess if I had done it that way.

I'm not sure the single back pleat is a good look for me, and I even thought about trying to do two pleats (right under the back darts) instead, but in the end, I just wanted to get finished, so I followed the pattern.

I really don't know yet what I think of this dress. It's kind of an unusual look with the shirtdress look up top and then the empire waist and pleated skirt. I think I'm going to have to just wear it to work for a day and then make a final decision. Im sure I won't make this view again, but I do like the printed sundress on the pattern envelope and I'm thinking it would look really cute for spring with a little cropped jacket or sweater. I've been thinking about my stash, wondering if I have anything suitable to make it up.

In the meantime, this dress will be entered into the stash contest at Pattern Review. Too bad the fabric was 60" and it only took two yards! Now that it's done I can get back to work on my quilt blocks. I can't wait to get the Spring Spirit top put together!