Saturday, November 30, 2013

Burda Style 12-2013-119 C

I just put the finishing touches on this knit dress, Burda Style 12-2013-119 C:

Burda describes it as having a "large waterfall neckline, wide batwing sleeves, and ankle length skirt."  I don't need a long dress right now, so I shortened mine to knee length.

As you can see from the tech drawing, the dress/top has some simple, yet interesting lines.  I particularly like the way the sleeves are separate pieces sewn to the cowl neck bodice.  The bodice is narrow, but the wide sleeves keep the proportions from looking odd.

There is a lot going on up top, but the simple, straight skirt with elasticized waistband keeps the dress from getting too complicated.

I used an ITY knit in black and teal that I picked up at Hancock's a few months ago.  It's the perfect weight and has just the right amount of stretch for this pattern.  I'd been wanting to use it for a while, and I'd even been looking at other Burda knit dress patterns, when this issue arrived in the mail.  I decided to give this pattern a try.

The pattern is offered in sizes 36 to 44.  I cut a 42 from shoulder to waist, and a 44 skirt that I graded out to a 46 at the hip.  I had to estimate how long to make the skirt and I almost goofed.  I had just enough length to turn up a 5/8" hem and still have it hit at the knee.

I added one inch of length to the bodice just above the waist seam, and another inch to the skirt just below the waist seam.  I also shortened the sleeves by 1.25."  I made no other alterations to the pattern pieces.  However, when I tried the dress on, the neckline was very wide (thank goodness I remembered to interface the back neck and the shoulder seams to prevent further stretching) and the cowl hung very low in front.  Almost "wardrobe malfunction" low.  To remedy this, I took the shoulder seams in about 5/8," which brought the neckline in just enough to make it wearable.  Problem solved.

I'm pretty happy with the finished dress, however, there a a couple of things I wish I'd known, or wish I'd anticipated before construction.  First of all, the cowl, or what Burda calls the "large waterfall neckline" is very generous.  There is a lot of fabric in that bodice.  It's almost overwhelming.  If I made this again, I'd look for a way to decrease the volume in the cowl.  It is well drafted, though.  The extra fabric is pleated and caught into the shoulder seams and the facing inside is plenty long enough and caught into the armhole seams so there is no chance that it will flop to the outside.

The second thing is that the shoulder seams are quite bulky.  There are three pleats caught into each shoulder, and combined with the bodice back and the facing there are at least eight layers of fabric in those seams.  I folded carefully, basted and stitched, and then trimmed carefully, too, but it's just a lot of fabric in one seam.  As a result it almost looks like I added shoulder pads, but it's simply the way the dress is made.  It doesn't bother me, but it's something to be aware of.

The sleeves are still quite long, even though I shortened the pattern.  I think this is a design feature.  The sleeves look long on the model, and Burda often shows very long sleeves pushed up on the arm.  I may go back and take the sleeves in a little bit from wrist to elbow to make them more snug.  As they are now, I have to push them up or they hang loose and combined with the cowl, they start to look a little sloppy.

This is a pretty simple dress to cut out and put together.  Burda rated it a 1.5 dot pattern and there are only four pattern pieces to trace (and a neckband for the back.)  It does take quite a bit of fabric because the sleeve pieces are very wide and the front bodice is quite long.  It took almost 3 whole yards of fabric for this knee length version.  I had just enough left to cut a sash, but I don't think I will.  With the front draping, I think a narrow belt will look better.

All in all it's a pretty good pattern- a nice variation on the cowl neck dress/top.  I doubt I'll make it again, though.  There are too many other patterns out there calling my name.  In fact, there is a chevron pattern ponte in my stash calling me right now and a New Look pattern somewhere in the sewing room that is just dying to be made.

What are your December sewing plans?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Alphabets, Hearts, and Sheep...

There has been a tiny bit of stitching going on around here...

This is Primitive Sheep by Ewe and Eye and Friends.  The design has a 1996 copyright on it, but it looks like it is still available from Twisted Threads.  It's not really my style, but I was fortunate enough to receive the pattern and the Anchor floss it calls for in a Secret Stitcher exchange years ago.  Something about it really pulled me in, and even though it's probably not something I would have bought myself, I found myself wanting to stitch it.  (It's especially appropriate since my family raises sheep!)

I finally decided to give it a go a couple of weeks ago.  I'd planned to use the Anchor floss, but I noticed that I had a lot of hand dyed threads in my stash that looked like they would work well, so I decided to make some substitutions.  So far, so good.

I've been working nights lately, so my stitching time has been seriously curtailed.  I'm back to a regular day schedule this week, so I hope to have this finished this week.  Because after Thanksgiving, I plan to turn my attention to Christmas stitching!

And in sewing news, the December Burda arrived this week.  It's nowhere near as good as the November issue, but there is a knit dress calling my name and a fabric in my stash begging to be used.  There may be a new dress to share soon.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Acorns and Owls

Here is the little sampler I blogged about previously, all finished and ready to be finished:

This is Acorns and Owls, a freebie chart from Blue Ribbon Designs.  I must have found it right before it retired, because it is no longer available on the site.  However, there are some very cute designs still available.

I just love that it's a tiny sampler with a complete alphabet!  I don't know why, but I just love stitching alphabets.  I also love the pumpkins, acorns, and leaves that give it that fall theme.

I stitched this on 32ct Lambswool linen and it finished up at 4 3/8" X 4 3/8".  The pattern called for Gentle Art Sampler Threads, which I had in my stash.  The finished sampler is a little "warm" for my taste.  If I stitched it again, I think I'd make some thread substitutions and work in some darker, cooler colors.  The owls, I think, would look nice in a brown/grey.  I absolutely LOVE the Tarnished Gold that was used in the alphabet.  That color is perfect, I think.  I actually had two skeins of it and one was rather dull while the other was a bit brighter with more color variation.  I used the brighter one, of course, and it looks fabulous.  The pumpkins, too, turned out quite nice.  I smile every time I look at them.

This was a quick and easy stitch.  It's all cross stitch- no specialty stitches or backstitches.  Somehow, I didn't get bored, though.  Maybe it was all the lovely hand dyed threads and plenty of color changes.

I have already begun a new stitching project.  It's a little bit different for me, but I'm excited about it.  It's been slow going because I've been working late lately and my evening stitching time has been severely curtailed.  It won't last much longer, though.

I'm also starting to feel the urge to work on something Christmasy!  I have some small ornament projects in mind, and then there's my Victoria Sampler Heirloom Christmas project from last year that needs to be finished.  I should have plenty to keep me busy the rest of the year!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Burda Style 11-2013-135

There has been sewing at House of Frog!  I just put the finishing touches on Burda Style 11-2013-135B:

This is a very simple dress featured in the plus section of the November issue.  Something about it captured my attention and it looked easy and fast, a good combo for me since I haven't been sewing much lately.

I was worried about the neckline.  It looks wide and low in the model photo.  But I figured it would be easy to bring it in, and it was.  You can just see the tiny tech drawing on the left side of the photo above.  And in the photo below, you can see that the finished dress looks exactly like the model in the magazine.

This dress is so simple to put together.  It's a 1.5 dot pattern, and only has three pieces- front, back, and a neckband.  I really liked the loose, breezy top with the sleeves that gradually narrow at the elbow and the more close fitting skirt portion.  I cut my "standard" Burda size- 44 top grading out to 46 at the hip.  I could have graded down to a 42  at the shoulder, but the dress has such a simple, loose shape that I figured why bother?

I did add my customary 2" of length at the waist, and I added narrow bands at the sleeve hems... just because.  The pattern calls for a simple turned up hem.  Oh, and the neckline- I raised the bottom of it about 1.5" and brought it in about 1/4" the rest of the way around.  Then I made my band 5/8" wide instead of 3/8.  It's still open and easily allows room for a funky necklace, but I don't feel like it's too big.

I used this cool, black and aqua dot ITY knit that I purchased from a couple of years ago.  I love the print, but when I got it I realized that the strong diagonal design could be problematic.  I wanted to use a pattern that would let the print do all the work for me.  I think this one works.

Long and loose is not really my thing.  Or at least it hasn't been my thing.  But since discovering that sometimes things work that you never would have thought, I decided to just give it a try.  And I quite like this.  It makes me feel long and lean, and I really can't argue with that.

And yes, you may be thinking that the dress is quite long.  And it is.  On purpose.  Because I also wanted to be able to do this:

I'm not sure which way I like it best.  It's like a completely different dress with a belt.  The skirt skims the hips and the top blouses over the belt nicely.  And it's still comfortable.

I can easily see myself making this again in the right print.  I don't think I would like it as much in a solid fabric.  Burda very kindly offers a cutting line to make this a top instead and I could see myself making that version as well.  Maybe in a sweater knit.  Maybe with a wide band at the hem.

So there you go.  A simple, comfortable knit dress with two options for wearing.  It doesn't get much better that that.

Oh, and did I mention, the November Burda was a great issue!  There are five other dresses and a skirt in it that I would love to make.  I just need to go dig through my stash and see what fabric I can match up with the patterns.

Happy sewing!