Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vogue 1194: a bright pink dress

Are you blinded by the snow outside the window in my photos?  I've actually been sewing a bit last month and this month, but haven't taken any photos because the days are so short I'm not home to enjoy any sunlight.  Today Lee snow widowed me (it's our first major snow) to ski in New Hampshire and I got to finish this dress while sipping tea and running a period romance in the background.  I love Helena Bonham Carter movies, and now recommend Wings of the Dove.  It's a little more twisted than you would expect, certainly not a Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice!

And well, here is my new dress.  It's made from a pink rayon doubleknit from Gorgeous Fabrics.  It pressed wonderfully, but if you look closely you will see some kind of salt residue from my iron on the front.  I need to figure out how to get rid of that.  The doubleknit is wonderful to wear, but I think I would make this dress again in a lighter knit.  There are several points where you are sewing through 6 layers of fabric and I really had to wrestle with my machine to make it work.

Vogue 1194 side.  Isn't the perspective a little quirky?  It looks like the chair is twice my size!

Vogue 1194 back

Vogue 1194 front.  I've never realized this before but I think I have a slight forward right shoulder.
This is another pattern that I've graded down to a size 6, and I made a muslin of the bodice only.  From there I figured it would fit and am pretty happy with the result.  The dress is a very easy one to wear with a full skirt -- I left out the pockets but if you added them this would be a nice casual dress to wear with heavy tights or leggings and flat boots (and I am on the lookout for some cute flat boots!)

And if you'd like to watch a preview for Wings of the Dove...

This is probably my last post of the year.  I've enjoyed the sewing recaps that I've seen many of you, my sewing friends, post on your blogs in the last few days.  I look forward to seeing more of your projects in 2013!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Boatneck dress, revisited

I never wore the first version of this dress, made up in glen plaid, because although I fixed the hem I realized that the problem with the skirt was that the front and back pieces were not to match.  I shortened the skirt by 2" but the tapering in the pattern meant that I needed to pay attention to whether the front piece length matched the back piece length.  If you look at the photos, you'll see there's rippling because I cut the front piece longer than the back.  I never wore the dress because I hated how the skirt draped.

Here's my new version of Burda 08-2009-128, in an electric blue wool crepe from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I bought the fabric about 3 years ago, intending to make a Roland Mouret galaxy dress knockoff but time passed and here we are.  I've never sewn with wool crepe before, and really liked the spongy softness and how easy it was to work with.  It's very easy to wear, and this dress is super comfortable.

The dress has a little more ease in it than I'm used to wearing, but I think it works for a winter dress.  I'll be able to layer a dress shirt underneath when it's really cold.

Burda 08-2009-128, front
Burda 08-2009-128, side

Burda 08-2009-128, back.  I forgot how much I like using an invisible zipper, insertion and lining is a cinch!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cuffed capris and a new take on a favorite

Before you tell me that it's absolute folly to make capri pants during a New England fall, I'll tell you this: I hemmed and hawed over 3 (!!) muslins for skinny pants and finally just bit the bullet and made these without a muslin.  I was sold on the diagonal front pockets.  What an interesting design element.  I made these in a very soft charcoal gray doubleknit so it's like wearing sweat pants.  I should have interfaced the front pocket more than I did, the upper corners pucker (so no closeups, sorry.)  They are actually the perfect length for wearing with snow boots to commute to work, as I learned a few weeks ago when we had early season snow.

You've also seen this shirt before, in parts.  The body is Burda 10-2009-105, and the collar stand and upper collar are Burda 09-2009-105.  Does Burda have some rule that pattern #105 be a standard button down shirt?

Pant: Burda 02-2009-117.  Shirt: Burda 10-2009-105 and Burda 09-2009-105. Lee is in the window to my left, trying to photo bomb me.

You can see some of the pocket pucker going on here, but I'm not too bothered by it.

Can you see where I cut my shirt yoke off grain (secret talent of mine)?  I didn't think so.  Speaking of yokes, I'm pretty happy with how the bake yoke on the pant aligned.

I love these round buttons and think they make the shirt.
Some sewing details:
I learned in sewing the three pant muslins before jumping into this pair that a curved waistband makes all the difference.  I liked the pant legs of one muslin but hated how it fitted in the waist -- it has a straight waistband gapped and pulled.  This pant has a default straight waistband but I figured out how to draft my own curved waistband!  Magic!

Along the same tune, I swapped out the straight collar stand on Burda 10-2009-105 (see my first take in striped shirting) for the curved collar stand and the smaller upper collar from Burda 09-2009-105 (made up twice before in cotton paisley) and am happy with the result.  I have the close fit of 10-2009-105 but the more flattering collar from 09-2009-105.  I also did not shorten the sleeves like I did no my first version of 10-2009-105, and it's a much more comfortable shirt to wear.  Lesson in over-fitting learned.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Clambake dress: Tracy Reese Vogue 1157

I love this dress.  Besides being a major sewing accomplishment (pattern regrading, full bust adjustment, hand picked zipper!) I love wearing it.  It's such a girly silhouette and in this gingham, cutely preppy.  With a sweater over it, I look like I'm ready for a summer clambake.  I haven't gone to a clambake yet in this dress (not really the crowd I run with) but it has been to work a few times and a wedding rehearsal. 

Front view

Side/back view, the sleeve ruffles just so at the back.

Back.  The back arguably shows a lot of back for work, but a sweater solves the too-much-skin issue.

If Lee had his way, I would style the sleeves like this every time I wear this dress.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An all DKNY day

This is what I wore today.  I got so many compliments from my coworkers (male and female), and I think it's because I never wear jackets at work.  The jacket is DKNY, Vogue 2833 in a heavy wool diagonal striped twill.  The dress is also DKNY, Vogue 1257.

I bought the jacket pattern almost 8 years ago, cut out the pieces and never made it... when I moved cross states 3 years ago, I threw out the pieces thinking I would never make this jacket.  And here we are, I've made it!  I sewed the jacket in a size 8 and wonder if I should have sized down to a 6.  There is a lot of wearing ease to it, which makes it kind of like a swing jacket and flouncy rather than fitted.  It's very well drafted and went together very easily.  I had gotten so used to Burda design and instructions that I had forgotten how user friendly Vogue instructions are!

 You can't tell in the photos, but there are two in-seam pockets in the front.  The bell sleeves have vents so that your hands are not completely engulfed in fabric.  The collar piece and peplum are all cut in one, and the body is princess seamed.

The dress is a mustard yellow rather than the sunshine yellow it appears to be in my photos.  This also went together quite easily but the bodice front got stretched out when I reinforced the edge with clear elastic,  but I will take it.  I should have cut the clear elastic shorter than the sewn edge (the instructions advise you to cut it the same length as the edge and stretch as you sew.  I sewed this dress in a size 6, and am very happy with how the sleeves are drafted.  The seaming is quite interesting, just a seam in the back armscye and the shoulder, then an underseam, and the draft is very narrow. 


Looking at others' reviews of this dress, I guess I am fortunate to have found one of the few designs that require little twig arms -- many others have had problems with the narrowness of these sleeves, but I am quite happy with them.  To be honest, I'm not sure how much wear I will get from this dress before it gets really cold in New England.  The fabric is almost tissue weight cotton jersey, so probably not my best bet once winter arrives but it's perfect for Fall. 

I have sewn several other items in the last month (including fixing that gingham dress!) and just need to find the time to take photos and post them.  Next up on my plate is mocking up some fitted trousers.  I've realized that my TNT skinny pant only really works with very elastic wovens or double knits, so I want to see if I can find a new alternative that works with less forgiving material.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Handsewing to the rescue

Thank you all for the encouraging, and sympathetic words to my last post.  I really did try everything.  Toteworthy gave me nearly step-by-step instructions to put the zipperhead back on the zipper (!!) but I noticed (thanks Blooms) that indeed, some of the zipper teeth were mangled from my wrestling with the zipper.  Despite my reservations, taking out the zipper did not take that long.  I was dreading picking out my handpicked lining and then the machine stitches for the fashion fabric, but it took less than a round of Olympic beach volleyball to get through it.  A few of you kindly suggested handsewing the zipper in, and I did... to a point.  I basted it (I couldn't get the waist and collar seams to align otherwise) and then stitched it in.  A million handsewn stitches for the lining later... and I'm done.

Good old fashioned handsewing saved the day.

Which brings me to say something I thought I would never say before: thank goodness for handsewing.  Tedious as it may be, it still beats pinning it for precision and speed, and sometimes you just can't manipulate the fabric around the needle to get things to work the way you want.

On another note, Margi posted a comment to my muslin post with a request that I share my methods for regrading a pattern.  I figured that I am not the only one who regrades patterns, and I am right.  I did a little internet searching (I am too lazy to create a tutorial of my own) and found a great tutorial by the (not so) Selfish Seamstress on Burdastyle.  Here is a link - Make a pattern larger or smaller - enjoy!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Please rescue me.

Can you see what's wrong with my almost finished dress?  It's not that it needs to be hemmed (it does.)  There's a reason I'm not wearing it for this photo. 

The zipper is broken, and I am ready to throw this out the window.  This dress has taken forever to make, and tonight I finally hand picked the lining in, eagerly tried it on, and then... tried to take it off.  That's when I realized that the zipper teeth had gotten misaligned right at the top of the peplum, and I couldn't get this sucker off.  I couldn't pull it down over my hips, or up over my shoulders.  I ended up cutting off the zipper stops at the top of the zipper, pulling the zipper head off, and now I have this:

That black speck on the floor?  The zipper head.  How to get it back onto the dress?
I have decided that I would rather start all over again than take the zipper out and install a new one (and yes, I know that makes no sense at all, as reinstalling the zipper will take much less time than starting all over again.)  Is that the only answer?  Does anyone know how to fix a broken invisible zipper?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vogue 1127 Muslin Parade

This is my first time re-grading a pattern (down from a 8-10-12 to a 6) and doing a full bust adjustment.  So I made sure to sew up a muslin to make sure the fit was all right given all the pattern changes I made.  I've also been working at this in fits and starts for the last month, which means it took eons because there were so many steps.  It took forever to regrade the pattern, petitify it and then figure out the full bust adjustment because the pattern pieces weren't easy to figure out.  Then, because there are 14 pieces to cut out it took forever to get all the pieces cut and then stitched together.

I'm pretty happy with the result and will make this dress in real fabric.  I am debating a blue-gray tropical wool or a crisp gingham.  Maybe I will make both!

Lee says I should wear this to work tomorrow, or try selling it some hipster.  It's made from old bedsheets and odds and ends.  Is this really what hipsters wear? 

Now, for my horrible, low contrast, indoor lighting at night photos...

Muslin front.  I'm especially happy about how well the bust fits.  The waist is in the right place.

From the side.

From the back.  The peplum has a pleat at the center seam and the neckline is high in the back.  The zipper is poochy not because of the back bodice pieces but because I set it in slightly crooked.  This isn't sewing perfection, it's a muslin, people!

You can see the high backed neckline here as well.

Lastly, here is my full bust adjustment.  I took the piece that had the bust point marked on it, slashed and spread it 3/4" and added a dart that ended 1" from the bust point.  I am sure that there are many other ways to do this, possibly more elegantly, but this worked for me.

Vogue 1157 full bust adjustment
And in case you can't make it out underneath the pattern, here's the pattern photo for reference.  The bodice is fitted but not too much so.  I have debated making the fit closer in my version, but decided not to.  Partly because I think I've gotten close enough, and partly because (I'm not going to lie) I'm too lazy to go through the pattern drafting process again.
Vogue 1157, Tracey Reese pattern envelope photos

Friday, July 6, 2012

Butterick 5561: A grown-up t-shirt

I used to think Butterick was the frumpy maiden aunt of the Butterick-McCall's-Vogue family, but now I am convinced that Butterick is that younger sisterly aunt of the family.  You know, the one who will take you out to buy that outfit your mom won't let you buy?  But the same one who makes sure it isn't too short?

I love this shirt.  It's breezy and easy to wear.  I sewed it up in a peachy gray silk that I've moved no fewer than 3 times (worth holding onto!) that feels cool and refreshing against your skin.  In between these photos, Lee was asking if it would stop puffing up, it catches the breeze so well.  This is a grown-up's t-shirt, made in silk and easy to wear.  I'm wearing it here in jeans, but wore it yesterday with a pair of wide leg linen pants to work.  The cut is modern and has a great shape to it. 

I sewed this in a size 8, the smallest available size.  I figured regrading it down to a size 6 would make the sleeves too narrow, and that's saying a lot about how narrow the sleeves are because if anyone has twiggy arms it's me.

Butterick 5561.  I love the front pleat and gathers at the neckline.  I do not love that I'm a wrinkle magnet.
And from the side.  Isn't the pleat in the sleeve great?  It adds a little dimension of interest without being frilly.  The shoulders fit well and the drape isn't maternity-like.

A view from the back.  Can you see the 4" of stitching in a light blue, where I ran out of gray thread?  Right, I didn't think so!

As you can see from the deceptively demure pattern illustration, there is no hint that this simple design could have some edgier elements.  I can easily see making up all the variations in the future, having sewn this one up (I made the turquoise model in the lower left).
Butterick 5561 envelope illustration.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Vogue 2789: Altuzarra for J Crew knockoff

Sometimes you have a pattern in your stash that you've made a few times.  You like it, but haven't found a reason to revisit it... it's only fault is being too familiar and available. 

Then, you see something someone else has done that makes the design seem fresh and new.  I'd never heard of Altuzarra until I saw the Odette blouse on their website.  Here is my version, which I think comes pretty close to theirs.  I found this stretch gingham at Sew-Lo fabrics, down the street from my house.

Vogue 2789 in turquoise stretch gingham

Altuzarra for J. Crew Odette blouse

Some key differences: the Altuzarra version has 3/4 length sleeves (you can't tell because the model has the sleeves cuffed) and I think it has more ease.  I prefer the long sleeves on mine, which have long tapered cuffs.  I also feel obliged to crow about my "savings," as this was purely a material cost ($5 for discounted gingham and a pattern in my stash for forever) compared to the retail cost of this shirt ($175.)  Things that are the same: Both have tie front, and looking at the photos on the J. Crew website I think that they both have a slight peplum in the back.

Vogue 2789 back, you can see the peplum seam at the waist, making the shirt fitted.  The tapered cuff has 4 buttons.

I've made this shirt a few times before, but in white.  As you can imagine, a white tie front shirt is a bit of a statement, and you only need one.  But gingham totally changes the game, making the design young and fun.

Vogue 2789
This pattern is out of print, but you can get a copy off of Etsy (I saw 3 copies for about $9-$10 this morning), and is easy to sew and great for shirts with feminine details.  I've made view C (the long sleeve version) and view A (tucks and bow sleeves.)  In previous versions of this shirt, I sewed a size 10, but given my new revelation that I'm a size 6 (who would have known it would take years for me to realize that!) I sewed it in a smaller size and am very happy with the fit.

I have a few more projects in photo backlog that I hope to share with you, my sewing friends!  It's been a lovely summer here so far and it's been hard to make time for changing outfits to take photos and writing about them.  I hope that you have been enjoying the longer days and warmer weather, wherever you are. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Patrones 285 12 translation

There appear to be a few things lost in Google translation (double gather from aplomb anyone?), but this is better than any of my guesses.  I am saving these instructions here to refer to when I make a second muslin.  The first muslin, which I cut in size 38, was too small.  I'll try a size 42, but I think I will end up splitting the difference with a size 40.  I've found that fabric choice makes a difference with this.  My muslin was an old flannel sheet and the front "volante" (Spanish) or "calipers" as the translation would have my believe it is (I will call it a "flounce") sits like a big fat 70s tie.

Patrones 285 #12.  This pose isn't even cute.  Don't we all wish we knew what this shirt really looks like?

I think it's a more tame version of this shirt (285 #8), cap sleeves and smaller front ruffle and slit  (this slit is J. Lo worthy!)
Sew front calipers separately and closed sides. Sew center seam raglan sleeves separately, link the two right sides together, sew base from sign to signE F, turn and sew a fabric sleeve to the armhole, according to EF signals. Join ruffles and sew right sides together outside, cut a little seam, turn and place on front neckline of the garment that has sleeves, according to signal B to end.Form a loop of the same gender and baste on extreme right front neckline. Fold right sides neck and close ends up signal to turn and have a double gather from aplomb up behind center taking the two fabrics, place neck to neck tensing the gathers, baste. Apply on body sleeveless neckline and front opening to signal B,right sides together, sew around the neck fixing and holding the front wheel, folding body and squint into the fabric of the two armholes from side to EF signs,picketing in the same signs of the inner body and place the cloth into the armholes, screwing up the sleeves sewn inside the armholes being subject lining. Loose hemming, button sewing. Cut circles of different size tiles in the same genre, hold all three with double stitching in a circle in the center, forming a loop of thread behind and buttoning on the same button of the garment.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Not a blouse: Burda 09-2009-118

Do you have a favorite Burda issue?  Turns out that I do.  This is the fourth item I've sewn from 09-2009.  What can I say?  It's a hit.

This is a button front, tie collared shirt with (well done) poofy sleeves.  The sleeves are my favorite part of the design, pleating the fabric and then letting it out in cuffed bells.  The silk is a animal print habotai from that Lee commented as a bit old lady looking (I don't agree, but still have yet to wear this.)  If ever a shirt was going to be called a blouse (I never call my shirts blouses), this would be it.  It's very feminine and floaty.  I could see making this again in a dotted swiss or a lawn, but the feel would be very different... the shape would be very exaggerated.

I love the fabric, but I hesitate to sew with it again.  I sandwiched it between two sheets of tissue paper before cutting, which helped keep the fabric from sliding around as I cut.  But sewing it was another issue.  The sandwiching was not perfect, so I was just off-grain enough that the fabric not just slid all over the place, but stretched and pulled in strange ways as I sewed.  As always, my iron is my best friend and without it I would have thrown this out the window.  But because of the slight off grain cut, the shirt only sits well on me if I am standing still with perfect posture.    The fabric doesn't have much give and I can feel it twisting a little when I move.

Despite the face I am making, I am quite happy with how this shirt turned out.

The back is shaped with darts. And the fabric pulls a little strangely on my shoulders if I don't stand up straight.
And a close up of the sleeve.  I love how the pleating pulled the animal print together in blocks of color and print.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Summer Vogue patterns

Everyone else is posting their picks, and here are mine.  They're pretty much divided into "I wish I had a reason to wear this," and "I love this but don't know how I would wear it."  I'm just going to pick a few views of the ones I like best.  Which ones do you want to sew?  Or wish you could sew?

Let's start with I wish I had a reason to wear this...

Lia Lia 1304.  How have I never heard of this label before?  I love this dress.  I could see it done casual in a cotton lawn or dotted swiss.  It would look awesome in a lightweight plaid suiting. I have a champagne crepe back satin that would be great for this dress.  And, Lee's sister is getting married at the end of the summer so I'd have the chance to wear this.  The skirt alone is worth the pattern.  I love the asymmetrical pleats.

And here is the back.  How cute is the sunback?

Lia Lia 1305.  One thing that I'm not sure about with these lia Lia designs is that I don't really have a lot of time for standing around with my right hand on my head.  Still, this dress is awesome.  There's a long sleeve (one sleeve) version as well, but I like the short sleeve version.  I could see shortening this, but this certainly doesn't fit into my hum drum lifestyle.

And now on to what I love but wouldn't know how to wear.
Issey Miyake 1309.  This is such an interesting top.  I could see wearing it with skinnies, but it deserves much more than that.
A second view of 1309.  This is definitely not work appropriate without a sweater or jacket.
Vogue 8821.  This has so many interesting things going on: volume, short-long hem, scallops!  And you have to stand like this all day to show it all off.  I don't think I have that in me.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

How to wear it? part 2.

Thank you for all of your comments on my last post.  I've revisited the tucking in, because I like the idea but am not sure how much I like the reality.  What are your thoughts?

Here is the shirt with a fitted, high-waisted skirt.
This isn't so bad, but it doesn't exactly tuck in neatly.

This is where I am just not sure what to do about all the volume in the shirt.   It just looks like a mess to me.

Again, this just seems huge to me.
I also loved the outfit Burda had on the pattern envelope, so made pant 7250 to wear with it.  I love the pants, but am not sure that I can ever get the shirt to tuck in the way it is shown on the pattern envelope.

Here I am wearing it with the Burda pants.  They are charcoal doubleknit from Gorgeous Fabrics.  Tucked in, the shirt looks kind of neat in the front.  But I think there's a reason why the pattern view only shows us the front!

I'm not exactly liking the back, but this is as neat as it's going to get.

And the side view is not as awful as the view with the skirt.  Of course, I could also throw a jacket or cardigan over this and call it a day.

And here it is untucked.  I don't think this looks as good as tucked in because the pant pleats add volume at the shirt's hem.