Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Inspired by Vivienne Westwood: Burda 08-2010-107

I love this skirt and want to wear it all the time.  It's everything that I love about sewing: instant gratification due to quick construction and good fit.  This skirt takes 2.5 hours to complete, from laying out the pattern to finishing the hem.  It has an elastic waistband, and I left the pockets out.  The decision to leave the pockets off wasn't so much a design decision as it was a wearing decision.  I've found that side seam pockets on skirts tend to gape open and I've been sewing them shut on other skirts.  I figured I would save the time of having to do that in the future.

The skirt is tapered and has a large overlap in the front.  When I saw the design in the magazine I was a bit unsure that this would be wearable because of the huge overlap -- I was sure it would turn into a shapeless mess.  My muslin proved me wrong and I went ahead with my Shetland wool from Fabricmart.

I shortened the skirt by 1" and think the length is still office suitable without being dowdy.  I want to wear this skirt every day!

Almost matched plaids.
Better matched plaids.

I cut the back on the bias, to try to match plaids and to avoid the coffin look.

Here is the inspiration in bright red tartan, the Vivienne West Cosmopolitana skirt.  As you can see, the back has deep pleats, but I didn't try to replicate them.

And there are pockets, as you can see in the photo on the left.  Below is the line drawing, which you can see is a pretty close approximation.
Burda 08-2010-107 line drawing

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What I sewed this summer, Part II: Burda 12-2005-111

Believe it or not, I've been wanting to sew this top for almost six years... and I've had this silk shantung remnant in my stash for almost as long!  The two came together and made this top, which unfortunately I am hurriedly modeling for this photo so I can put it away with the rest of my summer clothes.

I usually wear it with dress pants or a skirt to work, not yoga pants, so that peek at my belly through the waistband tie keyhole is not typical!  I swear!  The fit of this top is very... 2005?  It hits at the high hip and is quite fitted compared to Burda's slouchy 2011 designs.  I wouldn't even wear this with jeans because all my jeans are just as low cut as these yoga pants.

The cowl neck is subtle from the side but still big enough to be a feminine detail to the top.  The shoulders fit snugly.

The only trouble is that, as I've discovered, when walking on a windy day the inside of the cowl will blow out and look like this.  Not really a look to go for!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What I sewed this summer, part 1: 11-2008-104

This summer, in between complaining about the heat and sweating, I did a little bit of sewing.  I made this skirt in July, and have been happily wearing it.  It wasn't until I was sewing the godets in the side that I realized I'd forgotten to cut out the top ruffle (the ruffle is a double layer of godets) but I don't miss it.  I sized the pattern down to a 36, but I think I could have sewn a 38, this is quite fitted and pencil like except for the godets which give the skirt and interesting shape and movement.
11-2008-104B, in a crepe gabardine

Here is my version, in a lightweight wool novelty weave.  The texture of the wool makes the skirt interesting but isn't distracting.  I am wearing Simplicity 2603, the wrap cardigan, with it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rodarte inspired: Burda 09-2010-112B

Rodarte for Opening Ceremony draped skirt, in linen gauze.
You can pick up your Rodarte skirt (on sale for a reasonable $134.40, down from $448, heh) at Shopbop or you can make the at-home Burda version.  Burda printed a similar pattern in 09-2010.  Behold, 09-2010-112A and 09-2010-112B.

Burda 09-2010-112A and B, top version in jacquard, bottom version in silk batiste.  Why must Burda make the samples in fabric that makes seeing the details so difficult?

 And my version, in tropical weight glen plaid wool.  I'm pretty happy with the shape.  I cut a size halfway between 34 and 35, and shortened all pieces by 2".  The waistband is a grosgrain ribbon, which was the easiest waistband application ever.  I don't know why I've never made this kind of waistband before!
Believe it or not, the floor is not crooked in my new apartment.

Now I want a crisp white shirt.

These photos show the shape of the skirt a little better.  The design is interesting, as in there are no side seams.  The outer shell of the skirt is cut as two sides that overlap in the front.  The skirt has what Burda is calling an underskirt, which is to be cut from the fashion fabric.  I substituted stretch lining instead, and in hindsight I wouldn't have shortened it by 2 inches.  There isn't any easy way to anchor it to the outer shell, which doesn't have side seams, so it rides up a bit.

This is the only seam in the outer shell.

Underskirt.  It's not going to be seen, and having it 2" longer would have been good.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Robin's egg blue skirt: Burda 10-2010-115

Big news: I'm moving out of my little shoebox in two weeks.  This will probably be the last thing I sew here.  The fabric is a pastel blue wool gabardine that wrinkles like nobody's business.  It was left over from a failed project and has been in my stash for more than 6 years... surely, its age has nothing to do with its wrinkliness.  I really did press this!  Until I saw the photos, I thought I was still crisp and ironed!  The skirt was an instant gratification project (start to finish in 3 hours) and is a near perfect replacement of this cotton pique skirt (same color) that I spilled tea on.  That skirt just wasn't meant to be... it started off life with stains from the pocket lining fabric and then was permanently ruined by tea.

Here is my new skirt, which unlike the first skirt sits slightly below the waist.  Here is Burda's magazine shot.  It's a cute skirt, but they must not really want you to see what it looks like because the model is seated.
Burda 10-2010-115

The skirt comes in two lengths, 17" and 19".  I could have shortened it to be a mini on me, but to keep it more office appropriate I made the 17" version without alterations.  I generally like my skirts a little above the knee to offset my shortness, so this is perfect.  This is a size 36. 

Front view.  I did not know there was a huge wrinkle above my right knee until looking at this photo.

Side view.  I'm pretty sure this isn't poofy, I just have weird posture in this picture.
Back with lapped zipper.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Vogue vanity sizing?

It has cooled a little bit.  My schedule has slacked a little.  And I've been sewing.  I've sewed a few things that I'm very happy with, but haven't been blogging*.  I am so miffed with this dress that I wanted to ask my fellow sew-ers, seamstresses, seamsters (whatever you prefer to call yourselves) whether you have experienced problems with Vogue pattern sizing recently.  I haven't bought a Vogue pattern in years, mostly because I've had a Burda magazine subscription for the last few years and thought there was no need to buy paper patterns.  I hypothesize that since McCall bought Vogue a few years ago, Vogue sizing has changed.

A little background on this dress and fabric... I've had this fabric for a few years now.  I bought it from Gorgeous Fabrics, and until recently had no idea what to do with it.  It's a huge abstract floral print, and I bought it during a period when I told myself that I needed to expand my wardrobe beyond black, black, black, and jeans.  It also bled in the wash, so I wasn't dying to use it but still liked the challenge that it posed and the possibility of wearing it.  Then one night a few weeks ago I came across a lovely DVF dress, which I posted about here.

I looked through all my Burda magazines, no dice.  Then I looked on the Vogue website, and found this DKNY pattern (Vogue 1221) that looks like a close enough approximation of my inspiration dress.

Vogue 1221, taken from
I diligently cut out the pieces (from single thickness, no less!), marked all the tucks (fiddly!), sewed it up (surprisingly Burda like in their instructions!) and learned that I am no longer a true size 10 in Vogue patterns.

Here I am, wondering if it is really a sack.  Because I don't have a full length mirror (no space!) I had to take a photo.  Note, I did not crop out my frown.

Here I prove I can't dress myself.  Look at those arm facings sticking out.

Here I stand on my toes because it makes the dress a little more flattering, despite being enormous.
Admittedly, the dress doesn't look bad in photos.  But it doesn't fit the way the pattern model's dress does.

Her dress does not gape in the front or sag on her hips.  The drape is right below her bust.  Mine is somewhere around my waist.  And I can pinch out 2 inches in the front of the dress.
At this point, I was really annoyed.  Although the fabric was bled, I was so-in-love with this idea of using the abstract print for this dress that I Had To Make It Work.  I hate altering clothing, especially something I've just sewn because the point of sewing is to have clothes that fit right without having to alter.  Anyways, in my attempt to Make It Work, I ended up taking it in 1 inch on each side, and then realized that I needed to take the shoulders up 1 inch as well... and with the facings and shape of the shoulder straps that just wasn't going to happen, even if I were to do a total hack alteration of pinching out 1 inch in the shoulder straps and then tacking them on the inside because the neckline shape would then no longer fall smoothly.

taken in 1" on both sides, and still gaping in the front and back.

Something is just not right about the hips, and the neckline has a giant gap.

The bodice is way too long.  Again, weirdness in the hip area.

I think I don't need to go down just one size but TWO.  That is ridiculous.  Because I don't have a 23 inch waist, no matter how much I wish it to be so.  Does anyone else have this kind of sizing issue with Vogue?  It's annoying, because I really think that pattern companies should stick to real measurements rather than trying to cater to vanity sizing.  Back in the day, I could count on being able to sew a straight size 10 without a muslin.  I guess not anymore.

*I promise to share soon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'm still here.

Yes, I'm here.  It's been a while.

Where have I been, if not sewing and writing about it?  I spilled water on my computer at the end of May, and finally got a replacement about a week ago.  That said, I have 2 unfinished pairs of pants that I just can't get myself to try on for hemming.  Remember how I said I live in a shoebox?  Allow me to correct myself:  I live in an oven.  The natural light that I loved in the winter turns my apartment into a greenhouse in the summertime.  I am just not in the mood to curl up with a pair of wool pants (or anything for that matter) to sew hooks and eyes or hem the cuffs.

Instead, I sit in the dark with all the fans on.  Kidding!  There are a lot of nice restaurant patios in my neighborhood so I've been having a lot of evening drinks just as it's starting to cool down.  Fun, but not very conducive to sewing.

So as not to end this post with a whimper, or Joaquin Pheonix, I will leave you with this inspiration from Diane von Furstenberg.  How does she use giant prints in such a beautiful way?  Me, I'll probably use the giant print that I have in my stash (and cause for searching inspiration) in as simple a design a possible.

Diane von Furstenberg dress

Diane von Furstenberg dress (see more diane von furstenberg dresses)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Throwing in the towel

Thank you all for your lovely comments and helpful suggestions to save this dress.  For whatever reason, the light in my apartment is weird in the afternoon, hence the arty blue tint in these photos.  I think that these photos get close to the idea I had in mind when I started down the road with this dress, but I just don't think I'm going to get there with this dress.

I think that the idea of taking in the shoulders and side seams, maybe even the back seam, would be good... but this is easier said than done because I sewed the entire dress with french seams.  Between that and the gathering, I wasn't going to move any seams.

French seams, so lovely, so hard to alter.

In the photo above, you can see the quick save I tried with snaps to overlap the front.  This is the outcome, which works if I don't move at all. 
Front, revisited

Side, revisited
What happens if I move?  It's indecent.  There's not enough of an overlap in the skirt for it to stay wrapped when walking, sitting, or with your legs a shoulder's width apart.  There also isn't any obvious place to add another snap or button.  I will also save you from an unflattering view of the back, where the fabric bunches at my waist because the bodice is still way, way, too big. Oh well.  Good idea, possibly.  Not so easy to execute.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The shirt from my other post.

I love fan mail, and while I'm often slow to respond... I am happy to fulfill an easy request.  A nice reader, SewOm, asked for more photos of the shirt I said I was wearing the last time I posted.  These photos are from my pre-blogging days, I think it was early spring a few years ago.  If only spring would come this year!

Ignoring all warning signs.

Sometimes things don't go quite as I expected.  This is usually because I am dying to dive head into a sewing project, muslins be damned.  I'm working on the muslin making, because too many times I've cut into and then sewed up a fabric that I love to find out that the pattern, or the fabric, or the combination of the two just aren't going to create what was in my head.  Sometimes I blame it on misleading pattern photos, but really... it's operator failure.
I love this fabric.  And I love the idea of this dress.  So romantic and sweet looking!  Look, fluttery sleeves but not too fluttery.  Gathered waist and yoke, so early 50s/late 40s.
Burda 01-2011-103 dress.  There is a reason why there is a self belt.

There's even a shirt version, which I have also traced out.  Just as cute as the dress, if not cuter with the peplum.  I had a hard time deciding, shirt or dress, shirt or dress?  Then I decided that if one is to wear polka dots, one might as well go all the way and have a polka dot dress.

Burda 01-2011-102 blouse
I regraded the pattern to a size 36.  Cut into this cute green polka dotted white lawn... and realized that the dress is a sack.  Upon seeing photos, it doesn't look as bad as I imagined it would (one day I will live in an apartment big enough to have a full length mirror) but it is a big dress. 

Burda 01-2011-103 unhemmed, front

Burda 01-2011-103, unhemmed, back

Now, as I so often do, I look back at the pattern magazine photos.  And I realize that the model is seated in all photos so you don't get a good idea of how loose the shirt and dress are on her.

Is she wearing a dress under the dress?

And then I remembered the words of wisdom from the '90s SNL team: Just cinch it.

So I paper bagged it and put a belt on.  This is what it looks like.
Belted, moderately better.

But not quite.
So the debate now -- finish it and wear it with a belt?  Finish it and wear it as a sack?  Give up and move on to something else?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Magic: the belt, or dressing like a grown up.

I'm at work earlier than I've ever been, and I figure it's time for an uncharacteristic At-Work post.  I'm wearing my new slouchy pants, friends, and I wanted to thank you for your suggestions about fit and style...

Thank you for all the lovely compliments on my new pants.  I am a huge fan too.  I look more Katherine Hepburn than Audrey Hepburn today, there's just something about a wide leg trouser that's still fitted in the waist and hips.

The Slapdash Sewist had a very interesting suggestion to insert elastic into the waistband.  This is a great idea, and if I wasn't lazy I'd pick the waistband open and get right to it.

Many of you had the wonderful styling suggestion of wearing the slouchy pants with a white shirt -- so chic!  Sadly, I don't have a white button down shirt (it's on my long list of Things To Sew One Day), but I am wearing a fitted floral shirt from my pre-blogging days and... a belt.

Burda 03-2009-106 in a loud floral print.
A belt!  I don't know if you've noticed but I almost never ever sew belt loops on my pants because I hate wearing belts.  I decided with these pants that the belt loops made the look -- you don't see men's pants without belt loops.  And, I was lucky the last time I was at GoodWill and there was a size S brown perfectly aged leather belt for just $3, so I figured I might as well pick it up.  I decided to break the belt out with these pants today and... who knew -- wearing a belt actually can serve a purpose: holding up your pants so that they fit properly.  And, it's an easy simple accessory that defines your waist.  Two birds, one stone.  Imagine that.