Tuesday, May 31, 2011

BWOF 07-2008-113/114 A New Denim Skirt

This weekend I finished up BWOF 07-2008-113/114, a cute straight skirt with pockets, a side zip, faced waist yoke and hem, and lots of topstitching.
I traced a 44 and then graded out to a 46 at the hip. I used the length from version 113 (plus an additional 1.5") and the hem details (faced hem and topstitching) from version 114. I ended up taking it in just a smidge from waist to high hip.

I love the wide yoke, which lays nice and smooth across my tummy, and the front pleats. The back has simple darts below the yoke. The only thing I don't love- and this is a small complaint- is that the pockets are shallow as drafted. I can't fit my whole hand in them, and I have tiny hands. If I make this again, I will make the pockets bigger.

Here is the back- pretty simple. (The wind was blowing- I promise the skirt doesn't cling!)

I used a dark blue denim with green weft from my stash. All topstitching was done with contrasting sage green thread.

The pocket linings, yoke facing, and hem facing are out of coordinating quilting cotton to cut down on bulk. The waist yoke is interfaced to support the zipper and help keep the yoke smooth during wear.

The hem topstitching is my favorite part of this skirt. The bottom 3" is topstitched at 1/4" intervals. I love the way it turned out!

I am very pleased with this skirt. I wore it to work today and it was comfortable and cute and I got several compliments. I love the shape and the details. I might make this again in khaki and/or grey for a nice, neutral "wear with anything" skirt. It would look great in a bright color, too, like it's shown in the magazine.

The skirt is easy to assemble (2 dot pattern,) doesn't take much fabric (I used a "leftover"- I had a little more than 1 yard of 60" fabric,) and would look good in lots of different fabrics. If you have the magazine, go for it!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pattern Haul!

Saturday I finally made it to Hancock's- I needed a few invisible zippers- and they were having some great sales! I've been feeling the love for Butterick and Vogue lately, so I indulged myself. Buttericks were 99 cents, so I grabbed these:
This is B5638, from the latest collection. It's a simple princess sheath dressed up with a groovy neck placket and some small ruffles. Best part is- it has multi cup sizes! I can't wait to try this one! I'm liking the pink version with the ruffles and the wide self fabric belt, but I often end up liking my dresses sans belt, so we'll see.

Here we have B5490. I've had my eye on this one for a while- I love the bust pleats- so for 99 cents, I snatched it up.

This is B5464. It's a simple woven top, but it has enough features- 2 different neck flounces, flutter sleeves, collar, that I thought it was worth trying. I also like the neck darts, which you can see on the gingham version. I can't wait to see how this looks made up.

On to the Vogues. I don't make a lot of Vogue patterns, but I realized lately that the ones I have made, I've ended up liking quite a bit. And they were on sale for $3.99...

First up is this Kay Unger dress, V1241. Love. This. I can't wait to muslin this. If I can get it to fit, I think this style will work well for me.

Yeah, I bought V1250, and some black matte jersey to make it. Unfortunately, they only had the smaller size pattern left. I thought I could just grade up, but after looking at the tissue, I don't want to go there. So I got on the Vogue website, and sure enough, they were having a sale, too, so I ordered the correct size. And just to make shipping worthwhile, I ordered these also:

V8724 Simple and clean and great for summer.

V8682 Very similar to the last one, but I love the dolman sleeves.

And V1194. I've had my eye on this one- I can never find it in stock at my "local" store. It will go in the drawer until fall, though.

In other sewing news, I finished up the Burda denim skirt and I hope to get photos later today. The flamingo dress is chugging along, too. I got the skirt basted on last night and I hope to get the zipper in today. After that, it should prctically finish itself! (If only that were true!)

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Slow Week

It's been a slow sewing week around here. My son, Logan, graduated from High school last night, and we've been on the go all week with activities and preparations. It was a very nice ceremony and he is thrilled. Congratulations, Logan!

I want to send out a special thanks to all the folks who left comments on the last couple of posts. Thank you so much for your kind words. You guys are awesome and much appreciated!

Well, the week has been slow, but it hasn't been completely without progress. I've got two projects going. The first is skirt #113 from the July 2008 issue of Burda magazine.

The skirt is shown in two lengths in the magazine. I'm making the longer, more formal version, but I'm thinking about using the top stitching on the hem shown on the shorter version. I'm using a pretty, dark denim with an emerald green weft, and I'm top stitching with sage green. I hope to have a finished skirt to show soon, but it all depends on if I can find a suitable zipper in my stash. If not, I may have to put off finishing until next weekend when I can make a run to the fabric store.

I also have New Look 6723 all cut out and ready to go using this fabric:

That's right, I'm going to make a dress covered in flamingos! Because everyone should have a flamingo dress. (And because I used to buy every flamingo print fabric I came across and it's time to use them.) There's just something about warm weather that makes me want to pull out all the craziest, most colorful fabrics I have and make them up!

How about you? Are you planning a crazy, colorful project for summer?

Monday, May 16, 2011

BS 02-2011-101 Summer Frock #1

So I teased a bit the other day when I asked what you get when you cross the February issue of Burda Style with a cute cotton print and some white rick rack. The answer is a new summer dress.

This is dress #101 from the "Mama Mia" pictorial.

Here is the full front:

And the tech drawings:

This is a super easy 2 dot pattern. There are only two pattern pieces to trace! That's right- just two. The skirt pieces are just rectangles. I just measured the length and tore my fabric.

Construction was easy. I lined the whole bodice using the same bodice pieces, and used an invisible zip on the left side. (I'm loving these patterns with cut on sleeves!)

My fabric is a cotton print from stash, which I jazzed up a little bit by adding rick rack to the neckline and sleeves. I used white broadcloth for the lining.

This was actually supposed to be my muslin. I made a "quick and dirty" muslin of just the bodice to check the neckline out (more on that in a sec) and then I decided to go ahead and make the full dress out of this fabric. Since I was relatively sure the dress would fit, I decided to forge ahead with the intent to make it wearable.

I started the test bodice with a straight size 44, which turned out too big through the shoulders. No surprise there. The neckline was also way too open. After making the test bodice, I also decided to add 1 and 5/8" of length to the bodice pieces. The tech drawing shows an ever so slight dropped waist and I needed extra length to get the same effect. Or so I thought...

The neckline on this thing is huge. I've had issues with wide/low necklines on Burda patterns before and I did not want to end up stuffing this dress in the back of the closet because of it. For this version I decided to retrace the pattern (all two pieces of it) using the size 42 lines through the neck and shoulders and grading out to the 44 at the bust. I also added a 1" seam allowance all the way around the neck. I only ended up using 1/4" of it. In other words, I brought the neckline in 3/4" all the way around. With the rick rack taken into consideration, it's about 7/8".

The neckline is still just barely wearable for me. I can wear a regular bra under this, but just barely. I also have to be careful about bending over- the neck gapes if I slump.

I basted the skirt on and decided that the extra length I added to my pattern was unneccessary. I went back and removed the skirt and trimmed off 1 and 5/8", plus an additional 3/8" across the back between the darts, tapering to nothing at the sides (for my good old sway back.) I think this looks more flattering with the waist seam closer to my natural waist.

It's a cute summer dress. The pattern is nice because of it's simplicity. The magazine shows it made up in organza with taffeta appliques. You can make a very casual dress or a very dressy dress depending on what fabric you use- anything from cotton or linen, to satin or silk dupioni.

The construction is easy and the dress makes up in no time flat. I like the look- the dress has a nice retro vibe, and I have some ideas for embellishments, but I don't know if I'll make it again. I'd definitely have to work on that neckline some more.

I do recommend the pattern if you like the look, but definitely make a muslin. If I hadn't added the extra seam allowance at the neckline this dress would be unwearable, both comfort-wise and modesty-wise.

After I finished this dress, I whipped up a muslin of New Look 6723 and got great results. Stay tuned for a report- it may just turn out to be my go-to summer dress!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Butterick 5558 A Spring Dress on a Cold Day

I just put the finishing touches on B5558 this morning. I actually finished the dress late last night (hand sewing the lining down) but I decided to go ahead and make the sash today.

It's taken me a while to make this, not because it's hard, but because there's just a lot to do, and lately my schedule has been all over the place with work. I'm just happy to have it done.

I made View B, the contrast bodice version, with the sash from View A. The only real difference between the views is the contrast bodice. Otherwise, the pattern is exactly the same.

This is a Maggie London pattern. I must really like her because I have quite a few of these in my stash. This is the first one I've completed.

You can read more about my trials with perfecting the muslin here, but just to re-cap my adjustments:

I cut a 14 through the neckline/shoulders and a 16 from the bust down. I moved the bottom of the V-neck up 1.75" which made the lapels smaller. I added 1" of length to the waist, making my pleats longer, and 3" of length to the skirt body.

I was quite surprised that I did not have to add length to the bust. The V-neck, however, was much lower than the pattern photo seems to suggest. Even with my adjustment, I still feel like it shows too much at certain angles. I'll have to be careful when I wear this.

Also, this dress is drafted quite short. I added a total of 4 inches to the length and it still barely reaches my knee, even with the scant 5/8" machine hem I ended up making. The pattern envelope does show it finished well above the knee, but it would have been scandalously short, not to mention extremely unflattering on me if I hadn't added all the extra length.

The pattern is well drafted and goes together easily. It is not a difficult pattern, but it is time consuming: There are 15 pleats in the skirt, each of which must be topstitched; the bodice and skirt join with a point at center front, which requires some precision sewing; and the dress is fully lined.

I used seersucker for my bodice, linen for the skirt, and coordinating poly satin for the lining. I like that the dress is fully lined- it gives it a luxurious feel. And thankfully, the skirt lining is a simple A-line with darts (so you don't have to make all those pleats again!) But the dress turned out quite heavy. There is a lot of fabric in the skirt, two fabric width's worth, and the waist area is rather thick due to all those pleats. The dress closes with an invisible zip in back. (I still need to add a hook and eye at the top!)

Overall, I'm pleased with this dress and I can't wait to wear it... when the temperature goes back up a little. We've had some surprisingly cool days here lately. I also need a little sun on my arms and shoulders so I don't look so washed out.

I don't think I'll make this again. One is enough, and I have plenty of other projects in queue. If I were to do it over, though, I'd interface the neckline/collar area better. I only interfaced the facing pieces (I almost forgot entirely) and I feel like it needs nore structure. My neckband doesn't want to stand up crisply at the sides and I had trouble getting a good press at the bottom of the V. I'm sure this is partly due to my fabric choice, but it's something to think about if you plan to make this.

I'm on to a new project now, but stay tuned- I have another summer dress to show you....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sneak Peek

What do you get when you cross the February 2011 issue of Burda Style with a cute cotton print and some white rick rack?

You'll have to check back to find out...

Monday, May 9, 2011

BS 05-2011-130 The Drawstring Dress

Wow! Two in a row! Here we go. This is the "drawstring dress" from the plus section of the May Burda Style.
Oh, Burda. Why do you insist on using photos that don't show the garment to it's full potential? This one isn't too bad. At least the model looks comfortable and happy in her dress.

Ah, this is better:

Better still, the tech drawing:

Simple dress, no? There are ony three pattern pieces: Front and back bodice, and one skirt piece. It's a 1.5 dot pattern. I probably would have made it at least a 2 dot pattern. Even though there are no sleeve pieces (the bodice pieces are funky shaped to inlude the cap sleeves,) there is some serious sewing involved in binding those tight curves in the underarm area. More on that in a second...

I graded the pattern down to a 42 through the neck/shoulders/sleeves without a muslin. Actually this is my muslin. I based my decision on my previous two plus dresses that I had to grade down through the shoulder area. I cut a 44 through the rest of the bodice and a 44 skirt. I also added one inch of length at the bottom of the bodice- a pretty standard adjustment for me.

I probably should have just cut a 44 all over. The darts ended up kind of high and the drawstring neckline does a really good job of taking up extra neck width and depth. Ah, well...

Here's a look at the sleeve:

The cap sleeve and armhole area are finished with bias binding. The binding acts as a casing for a couple of inches right at the top of the arm, and elastic takes up the slack and shapes the sleeve to the upper arm. The rest of the armhole lies smooth.

I had a heck of a time with my fabric, a crappy, loosely woven cotton gauze, which was a pain to cut and an even worse pain to sew. The poly satin I used for the tunic behaved better! In fact, this dress technically isn't even finished. I have not hemmed it because I'm dreading trying to hem this horrible fabric, and because I was so annoyed with it, I wasn't even sure I liked the dress enough to finish it and wear it. Having seen the photos, I'm coming around a bit, but I'm still dreading fighting with this fabric.

Anyway. The fabric was so awful, it was nearly impossible to cut and sew a bias strip. I cut the strips with a rotary cutter, but as soon as I tried to pick them up they stretched all out of shape. When I tried to press the bias strips in half they ended up a distorted mess. I just gave up and fished a piece of broadcloth out of my stash that sort of went with the colors in the print and used it instead. Unfortunately, the broadcloth is quite a bit heavier than the dress fabric, and I'm not 100% satisfied with the finishing on the armholes. It didn't help that I was sewing the bias around a serious curve. I got a tiny bit of puckering when I topstitched it down.

I didn't even try to make a self fabric tie for the neckline. I used 1/4" elastic with satin ribbon sewn to both ends. It looks like a ribbon drawstring on the outside, but the elastic helps keep the neckline pulled up nicely.

Oh, yeah. Here's the back:

I don't know. Now that I see the dress "finished," I'm kinda liking it again. I could definitely see this made up in a better fabric. The magazine showed cotton lawn. I'm wondering about a pretty, printed batiste.

Uh, oh. My photographer said something smart...

And I lost my balance and nearly fell off the log!

Hmmm. Maybe I'll finish hemming this and at least wear it on a test run. It needs a belt, though, don't you think?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

BS 05-2011-103 The Tunic

As promised, here are finished photos of BS 05-2011-103, the tunic.
Funny, but it doesn't make me look like a skinny German supermodel.

Here is the tech drawing so you can see the tunic better:

It's a very easy 1.5 dot pattern. There are only 6 pattern pieces, including the front and back facings. I love the raglan sleeves, which are so easy to fit; and the front neck pleats, which are graceful and add a little interest to an otherwise pretty plain design.

I cut a size 42 through the neck and shoulders, a 44 at the bust, and graded out to a 46 at the hip. The fit is fine- I might could have used a smidge more width across the shoulders, but I was afraid if I went up to a 44 through the shoulders, the neckline would be too wide. As it is, it's just right.

I followed the directions almost to a T. I did not leave slits in my sleeves, but sewed them completely closed. I also used the facings provided, but even though I pressed and understitched, they still wanted to flop around and pop out. So I topstitched the neckline from the edge of the CF pleats all the way around to the other side of the pleats, leaving just the pleats free. It seems to have worked okay and the facings are under control.

My fabric is a poly satin from stash. It was okay to sew- a little slippery, but not too bad. I had difficulty with the small bias strips used to finish off the underarms, so I substituted purple broadcloth. They aren't visible from the right side, and they look fine inside. All inside seams are serged to reduce raveling. The hem is finished with a 5/8" narrow hem.

This tunic turned out quite long. I am extremely longwaisted and I routinely add anywhere from 1" to 1.5" to the waist of every top and dress I make. I did not add any length to this and it still came out quite long. If you are short waisted, you may want to check the length before cutting.

I'm not much of a tunic person, but I do like this. I might even make the dress version from the same issue if I come across a suitable fabric. I'm still toying with the idea of making a sash for this- I have plenty of this fabric left over. I think I might like it belted better than loose.

Which brings me to a question. What should I wear this with? As you can see in the photos, I've "styled" it with a lovely pair of Adidas gym shorts, which are all but completely covered when the tunic is hanging loose. And satin booty shorts (like the ones pictured on the model) are completely out of the question. Trust me when I say that is not a look anyone wants to see on me!

So what say you, Tasteful Readers? Any suggestions on what to wear with this tunic? I look forward to hearing your ideas!

Stay tuned for a review of the drawstring dress from the same issue!

Saturday, May 7, 2011


The rain has stopped (for now,) the sun is out, and temperatures have begun to rise. My thoughts have been turning to bright, swingy summer dresses. I am yearning to make something with a modest neckline and a full skirt.

So I did some online window shopping and found these beautiful inspiration dresses, all from Modcloth:
Lovely. I love the crisp white fabric, the crossover bodice and the full skirt. I don't need a white dress, though. I tend to spill things like ketchup on myself.

This one is nice. I like the longer length, the contrast print, and the smooth skirt. Still not what I had in mind, though.

Oooo. Pretty floral, tiered skirt, and cool draping in front. Very romantic, but still not quite right.

Okay, now we're getting somewhere. I love the bold print, the simple sleeveless scoop neck bodice and the narrow self fabric belt. Gorgeous!

I adore this one! Same simple bodice and self fabric belt, but check out those awesome tucks in the skirt! So unusual! And the print, while softer, is beautiful- I love those colors.

This is what I'm looking for. Simple sleeveless bodice, full (but not too full) skirt, and a wild colorful print!

So what patterns am I considering for my summer frock?

Simplicity 2886 has the sleeveless bodice and midriff band and pretty pleats for shaping. The version on the model looks like it's a little more empire waisted than the drawing suggests.

New Look 6589 has been around for a while, but I just recently noticed view D with its graceful boatneck, and view E with its slight scoop neck and cut in shoulders. It has an empire waist as well, but the skirt appears to have 11 panels total, which are shaped through the waist and flare at the hips. I think this dress might work well for my figure.

New Look 6020 is brand new. It's a simple princess seamed dress with a waist seam and four neckline options. I always have better luck with princess seams- I have a hard time avoiding "pointy dart syndrome."

But the dress I'll probably try first is New Look 6723. It's been around for a while and I've had it on my to-do list for some time. It's got the boat neck that I like so much and a simple gathered skirt. The model version doesn't look too terribly full. It also has the pattern for the belt. It's also very similar to another New Look pattern that I already have had success with.

But before I start on this project, I have to finish up B5558, and I have those two Burda projects to show. Hopefully the sun will come out again tomorrow and I can get some decent photos to share.

How's your summer sewing coming along?