Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sewing Plans for the New Year

The Christmas hoopla is pretty much over. Yes, there is undecorating left to do, but I don't have the heart to take everything down until New Year's weekend, so it's going to stay up a few more days. In the meantime, I received my January Burda Style right before Christmas, and I've finally had a chance to sit down and give it a good look.

This year I'd like to make at least one item out of every issue. I planned to do it last year, and I think I got as far as March before I got an issue that just didn't excite me. Here's hoping this year I can make it all the way through 12 issues.

At first I wasn't thrilled with the January issue and I was afraid my plan was doomed to fail before it even got started. But then I took a closer look and there are a few things in this issue that I just might make.

First is top #116:
It's a simple wrap top with a long sash that can be tied in a bow. The magazine calls for stretch crepe chiffon, but I'm wondering if it would work using some mesh knit I have stashed away.

Next up is my favorite, bustier and panties #127:

I love these high waisted panties. They're so retro in dotted tulle over satin. I don't know if I'll actually make these, but I like them.

Then there's jacket #106:

I love the ruffle. The magazine calls for brushed mohair. I'm not sure about that. The photo looks like it's a woven fabric and the ruffles have unfinished edges. I can just imagine this thing ravelling all to pieces. Maybe if I could find a suitable substitute, I might give this a try.

Lastly is dress #125:

I do not need a stretch suede bustier dress, however, I like the section seaming in the skirt. It might be worthwhile to just make the bottom half.

So, not my favorite issue of all time, but then I don't expect every issue to be overflowing with things I just have to make. It's not like I'd have time to make more than a piece or two from each magazine anyway.

Anybody else out there planning to make something from this issue? Got any big sewing plans for after the first of the year?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's Not Just This Year

Every year at Christmas time, I get busy and don't seem to accomplish much in the way of sewing or stitching. Here's an example of a piece I made 10 years ago... and it's not finished yet.
This is "Grace." It's one of the angel patterns by Just Nan. It came out in 2001 and it just happened to have the Princess's middle name, so of course I had to stitch it up for her.

It's a gorgeous design, stitched on cream linen in rose and taupe shades of DMC floss, and embellished with tiny gold and pearl beads.

I planned to finish it up into an ornament for the Princess's first Christmas. It's fixed to an oval piece of foam core board, just waiting for a backing and some decorative edging to be complete.

The face, the hands, and the floral panel on the front of the skirt are all stitched over one. The halo and the front of the dress are embellished with seed beads. The wings, the cuffs and the hem of the dress feature delicate eyelet stitches.

I loved the way it turned out and decided to tackle another one. This time I chose Nan's Angel Stocking:

This is as far as I got:

I still love the design and maybe if I get a few minutes, I can get back to work on it this year.

The cool thing about this one is that you can stitch the stocking and substitute any one of Nan's many angel designs.

I don't expect to complete this one this year. Maybe if I work on it a little each Christmas, I'll get it done by the time the Princess has kids of her own.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Got Nuthin'

I got nuthin' in the way of sewing, that is. I haven't touched a needle, a pair of scissors, not even a piece of tracing paper all week. I haven't even picked up that poor little cross stitch ornament. There has been so much drama going on around here with the kids, that there just hasn't been a moment to spare on sewing or crafty projects. I'm lucky I found the time yesterday to do my nails.

Since I don't have any sewing related stuff to share, I thought I'd show my "Christmas" mani. This is kind of a departure for me. Usually I don't go for very light colors on my nails. And it doesn't get any lighter than white, right? I also don't like VNL (visible nail line.) But somehow, this mani has both and it doesn't bother me at all. Must be the Christmasiness of it.

I started with 3 coats of Orly Winter Wonderland, a frosty, shimmery white, with a sort of "lumpy" visual texture to it- like clumps of snow. I can't really think of a better word than that. The formula itself is great- no lumps or clumps. It flows right onto the nail and dries quickly. It is sheer, though, as I suspected it would be, hence the 3 coats. I just picked this up at Sally Beauty last week and it had a "New" collar on the bottle, but it looks like it may have been around since last Christmas.

After the 3 coats of Winter Wonderland, I added one coat of China Glaze Party Hearty, also from last year.

Party Hearty is a clear polish with large round red glitter, medium green glitter, and small silver glitter. It is very Christmasy. The silver glitter blends right into the white background and you can't really see the glitter itself, but the sparkle is definitely there.

Like a lot of glitter polishes, Party Hearty was finicky to apply. The glitter wanted to clump a little bit and cling to the brush, but with a little bit of patience and careful placement, I was able to get decent coverage.

After Party Hearty dried, I finished up with one coat of Revlon Quick Dry Topcoat. Even though my nails are white, and I can see VNL at certain angles, I'm still quite tickled with this. The red and green glitter against the sparkly white is eye catching and very Christmasy without being over the top. It makes me think of candy canes without being literal. I hope it lasts a few days. I might have to do this mani again for the big day next weekend.

Now that my nails are done, I'd love to sew. I do have a couple of UFOs that need attention, but I might take a look around and see if I can find an easy "instant gratification" sewing project instead. Or maybe I'll just try to finish the cross stitch ornament.

Happy Holiday Sewing!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Little Bit of Christmas Stitching

There's been no sewing lately.

There's been a lot of cleaning going on. And a lot of decorating. And finally, a tiny bit of stitching:

It's not quite done yet.

Maybe I'll get this finished in time for Christmas.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pattern Paralysis

I've had a nice long holiday week, and you'd think I'd be sewing up a storm. But since finishing the New Look skirts from the previous post, I haven't sewn a thing. (The Burda knit jacket is on hold- again, because I've decided I don't like the zipper I bought for it.)

I want to sew, I just don't know what I want to sew, if that makes sense. Oh, I have several dress patterns I want to try, but I don't have the right fabric on hand. And with Christmas coming so quickly, I don't want to be spending money on new fabric right now. So my next project has to be something I can make from stash fabric. I have a pretty coral stretch jacquard fabric that I ordered as a candidate for the flap dress, and I was kind of thinking that it might make up nicely into a skirt and jacket.

I really like jacket #103 and skirt #105 in the December issue of Burda Style:
It's a little bit different take on a skirt jacket combo. The jacket is a simple princess seamed style, but with horizontal seaming added to give it extra interest. It's hard to see the seaming in the model photo since Burda chose to show the outfit made up in black, but I think my fabric would show it off quite well.

The skirt is also a little bit different. It has a pleated wrap-over front and a wide waistband. It's very pretty and feminine, and would look great with or without the jacket.

Once I started thinking about this jacket skirt combo, I remembered I have a Butterick pattern that I've been wanting to make up for some time, B4617:

This one is so old it's no longer even on the Butterick site, but I still like it. It's a semi-fitted jacket with a (tame) peplum and long sleeves. There are four waist darts in front and in back, shoulder darts in front and in back, and small darts on the peplum also. The skirt is tapered and has a wide yoke that sits at the natural waist.

I actually made a muslin of the jacket years ago and was ready to cut it out for real, but I ran short of fabric. I folded it up and put it aside to wait for different fabric, and I just forgot about it.

I'm pretty sure I still have the jacket muslin folded up somewhere in my sewing room. The Butterick pattern is also a step ahead of the Burda pattern because it doesn't have to be traced. And there are seventeen pieces to the Burda pattern. But, the Burda jacket pattern has princess seams, and I always seem to get a better fit with princes seams. Even though the Burda jacket pattern has more pieces, I don't think the Butterick pattern would be any easier or quicker to make. The jacket has 16 darts, which are time consuming and fussy to mark and stitch, although they should look very nice once they're done.

I suppose a muslin of the Burda pattern is in order. I'm pretty sure if I can get the fit right I will like the jacket. The skirt definitely will need a muslin because I'm not sure if the draped, pleated front will be flattering on my figure. It could help camouflage my tummy, or it could draw attention to it.

So I suppose my sewing activities for today will be to find the Butterick muslin and try it on. Then maybe I'll go ahead and trace the Burda patterns. Maybe I'll even make it to muslin stage by tonight.

Has anyone out there made this Butterick pattern? Do you have any thoughts or advice to share? Is anyone working on the Burda patterns?

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Look 6079 One Pattern, Two Skirts

I just love getting my money's worth. And making two items from one pattern is a great way to do it. I picked up NL 6079 last week. I was looking for another NL pattern when this skirt caught my eye. It's from the latest batch of new patterns, but somehow I missed it until last week.
I fell in love with view D, the model version, but I also really liked View C, the orange skirt in the upper right corner. I made a run to Hancock's a couple of days after picking up the pattern and found some fabrics I thought would work.

I started with view C, using a grey, tweedy suiting with a herringbone weave and slubby texture. It's 100% poly, but it feels nice, and best of all, it washed and dried beautifully

The skirt is a basic A-line with princess seams, a narrow yoke, and a side zipper. The pattern does not give instructions for a lining, but I added one. The main fabric is very textured and I didn't want to worry about it clinging to my tights/hose. I used a "no cling" lining fabric, also from Hancocks, and used the skirt pieces to cut it.

I cut a 16 waist and tapered to an 18 at the hips. Based on the finished pattern measurements, I thought this would work fine. Unfortunately, the skirt turned out a little bit loose. It's supposed to be worn one inch below the waist, but I feel like it's just hanging on my hips. In fact, the sweater hem is just barely covering the top of the skirt.

I didn't like the way it looked with the sweater tucked in- most of my tops aren't long enough to stay tucked into such a low waist, and I don't think it's a flattering look for me. But it looks okay with an untucked top, and I might try running some elastic through the back waist to see if I can snug it up a little bit.

The one design detail on view C is the faux pocket flaps. There are no pockets- the flaps are simply caught into the front seams. These are second string buttons, too. I picked out some really pretty black buttons with silver etching, but for some reason, I only bought two. As soon as I get back to Hancock's to pick up another pair I'm going to switch them out.

Since I wasn't completely pleased with view C (hanging too low on my hips) I decided to make a change with view D.

I went down one size and cut a 14 waist and tapered to a 16 at the hips. This skirt sits perfectly at my waist. It's not exactly how it was intended to be worn, but I like it.

For this second version, I used a mystery fabric that I found on a sale table. There was no fabric content or description on the bolt end, but it looks like some sort of gray denim. It has a slight stretch to it and it washed well. I thought I needed a fabric with a little bit of crispness to it to hold the pleats on this one and it seems to work.

I love the pleats. And the six buttons, which give the skirt a military vibe.

I like these buttons, but I may end up switching them out. They're shank buttons and they tend to droop a little bit. I'm wondering if a flat button would work better.

The pattern was well drafted and it went together perfectly. Both of these views were pretty quick to assemble. If you need a quick skirt, I highly recommend NL 6079. I might even make it again sometime myself.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New Fabric!

Yesterday I received a small order from Fabric.com. And you know what new fabric means... New projects!

On the left we have a gorgeous dark teal Sophia Stretch Double Knit. I have been wanting to try out this fabric for some time to see how it compares to the ponte knit I've been buying at Hancocks. I love the Hancocks stuff, but the color selection is limited, and it would be so nice to just order online. Anyway, when I realized I wasn't going to have enough of the royal blue knit to make Burda 10-2008-116, I figured why not order some and try it out on the jacket:

The Sophia Knit looks and feels almost exactly like the Hancocks ponte knit. It may not have quite as much stretch, but I'm still very excited to use it and see how it works up. If I like it, I think I'm going to order some more to make this dress, Burda 11-2008-133A:

The fabric in the middle is a black and grey double knit, 97% poly and 3% spandex. I realized I was taking a chance on this one, but I loved the idea of a plaid knit. Sigh... it's very, uh, polyester. I mean, it's very slippery and almost plastic feeling. I almost expect it to squeak when I rub it. But it does have nice drape and it's a great weight. I might just try using it for the Stage Dress knockoff. It's not my usual style, and if it doesn't work out, I won't feel bad.

The orange fabric on the right is a light weight rayon knit with silver metallic sparkle. I'm finding that I like orange more and more these days and I was intrigued with the silver sparkle. I usually see gold paired with orange. I'm thinking this will end up being some sort of long sleeved t-shirt.

I'm off to run these new fabrics through the washer. I plan to get the jacket cut out this afternoon. I also have a couple of other projects that might get cut out today. What are your weekend sewing plans?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Burda 12-2007-106

In the week since finishing the Flap Dress, I also finished this dress:
I reached all the way back to the December 2007 issue for this one, back when Burda Style was Burda World of Fashion.

This is dress #106, with the sleeves from #107.

I used a royal blue ponte knit (my new favorite fabric.) I wanted something easy fitting and comfortable and I thought this design would lend itself well to a heavy knit.

I cut a 42 from shoulder to hip and a 44 from the hip down. It worked out just right with the knit fabric. I added my usual adjustments- one extra inch of length at the waist, and a 3/8" petite adjustment above the bust.

This is an insanely easy dress to put together, especially since I used a knit. I didn't have to put in a zipper and the curved seams were a snap since the fabric eases so well.

I didn't even look at the instructions. I mean, really- there are three vertical seams in front, three in back, add the sleeve pieces and then sew up the top of the sleeve/shoulder and then the side seams, and you have a finished dress. Well, almost...

I did make one little design change. The pattern calls for facings to finish off the neck edges. However, I hate facings and I don't use them if I don't absolutely have to. I opted instead to add a neckband. I cut a strip of fabric a couple of inches shorter than the neck circumference. I stitched the ends together, folded it in half, and sewed it to the neckline, stretching it to fit. After pressing, I topstitched the neck about 1/8" from the band to make it look nice and hold the seam allowance down on the inside. I love the way it turned out.

I was worried about the neckline on this being low. It is Burda, right? I added a 7/8" seam allowance to the neck edges and then I only used 3/8" of it when I attached the neckband. So with the neckband, which is about 3/8" wide, I brought the entire neckline in approximately 7/8". I think it turned out just right- not to low, yet not too frumpy. Perfect for work or for church!

I love the way this turned out and I know I'm going to get lots of wear out of it. I might even make the cap sleeve version next year when the weather warms up again. This pattern would even be a good candidate for the color blocking tend that is so hot right now. Hmmm...

Once again, my photographer wanted to shake things up a little bit.

I had planned to make a jacket out of this blue ponte knit, too. Unfortunately, when I laid out my fabric, I discovered that I didn't purchase as much as I thought I did and I didn't have enough to cut both patterns. So the jacket is on hold for a couple of days, until my online fabric order arrives. Stay tuned, we'll have jacket news soon!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Burda Style 09-2011-131

The Flap Dress, also known as dress #131 from the September issue of Burda Style, is done. Finally:
Just to refresh my memory, since it seems like I've been working on this dress forever, this is the magazine photo:

And the technical drawing:

I'm no fashion model, but I'm pretty pleased with the way the dress turned out. (Not to mention pleased that it's done and out of my sewing room!)

The pattern is offered in sizes 38 through 46. I cut a 42 from shoulder to hip and a 44 from hip to hem. I used a stretch woven fabric, so it worked out fine. If I was going to make this out of something with no stretch I would have gone up one size.

The only fit adjustments I made (after two muslins) were to add one inch of length at the waist, and a petite adjustment above the bust, which I made by folding out 3/8" horizontally across the back bodice and the side front bodice. The fold was made right above the flap so that I didn't run into issues with proportion or with the flap piece fitting the front piece. I also took an extra 3/8" out of the sleeve cap (for a total of 3/4") because there was a ton of ease and I didn't want puckered sleeves.

I converted the V-neck in back to a regular, high round back. Without this adjustment, the dress would not stay up on my shoulders and it would be unwearable.

I also raised the neckline in front significantly, in order to be able to wear a bra, and so that I feel comfortable wearing the dress. The adjustment was easy. I just added the necessary amount to the triangle inset piece (actually a diamond since you fold it in half to self face it.)

The fabric I used is a hot pink, poly stretch crepe I ordered from Fashion Fabrics Club. It's nice and heavy, but drapes well and has just enough stretch to make the dress comfortable. It's a good thing I like it, too, since I also bought a piece of it in mustard...

Only the bodice is lined in this dress, and I used hot pink satin. I love the feel of a satin lining against my skin (and the color matched!) All other seams inside the dress are serged with red thread. I liked the red against the hot pink and it doesn't show, so I thought, what the heck?

The dress fastens with an invisible zipper at center back. I remembered to interface the back opening edges and the zipper went in pretty much perfectly on the first try.

I actually finished this dress last weekend, but my photographer was out of town on a school trip, and then we had rain, and then I had a bad hair day, and so on and so on. You know how it goes. So today, everything came together and it was time (way past time) for a photo shoot.

My teenage photographer actually does have an artistic streak, and he says my blog pictures need to be more interesting. So today he decided we should climb up a hill (with me in four inch heels of torture) to get some shots.

"Go stand by that farm implement," he says.

"This rusty old thing?" I ask.

Why, look. This grasshopper likes my dress!

Like I said, I'm pretty pleased with the dress. I'm just happy to have it done. It's a 2.5 dot pattern. Maybe they should up that to a 3 dot or even a 3.5 dot. It's not that hard, but there is some precise sewing involved to get the flap section done. The instructions are typical Burda instructions, which means that without photos, you really have to read them a couple of times, play around with the pattern pieces and then just basically do it your way. I never did figure out what they wanted me to do with the bottom point of the center front inset.

This is going to be a fun dress to wear, but I won't be making it again. One is enough. I do recommend the pattern if you like a sheath dress with a little something extra. This would make one heck of a party dress in the right fabric.

Happy sewing!