Thursday, July 17, 2014

Butterick 5780, Fold Neck Dress

B5780 Thumbnail

I sewed!  Pattern Review is having its stash contest this month.  I am not a contender, but it did help me focus in deciding what to make now that I can finally sew.  I decided on Butterick 5780, a pattern that surprisingly has not taken the blogosphere by storm.  It's a flattering, interesting sheath dress with nice design lines.  It's a copy of the Reiss Taruca Sculptured Dress, which was $340 according to this blog post.  I think the issue with the pattern that has held it back is its suggested fabric:  ponte.

Let's talk about ponte. I think I have fallen out of love.  One the one hand, it is a miracle fabric.  A knit with all the easy-to-sew, easy-to-fit, easy-to-wear qualities we love, but that skims over all the lumps and bumps and is universally flattering.  What's not to love?

One word: pilling.  For the love of all that is holy, the pilling.  While I've found a few gems of quality ponte, almost everything I make out of it is garbage after the second wear.  Ugh!  What a waste.

The other issue is that ponte is a rather thick fabric.  This dress is necessarily constructed with a side front bodice stay/lining, and the pattern (and original dress) call for it to be fully lined.  With the fold in the side front piece and all the seam intersections, every review on PR complains about the bulk.

I never had any intention of making this dress in ponte--it begs to be more structured--so I used a very stretchy cotton twill I got from Fabric Mart last July for $7.99/yd (they called it sateen, but I would call it twill).

Given the Ease of Doom characteristic of all Big 4 patterns (yes, even Vogue), I figured it wouldn't be a big deal to make it in a very stretchy woven rather than a ponte, especially as several reviewers mentioned that it ran large.  They also mentioned, as I found to my chagrin, that there are no finished garment measurements anywhere--not on the envelope or the tissue.  Seriously, Butterick.

Bodice Side Front and Full Stay/Lining

Luckily, my awesome brother and sister-in-law gave me an Etsy gift certificate for the holidays, which I used to buy 5/8" SA Curve rulers.  I traced off the pieces, and used the rulers to mark the 5/8" seam allowances and was able to get my own finished pattern measurements.  Which, as expected, were pretty close to right for a woven.  I added to the waist--but ended up taking all that and more off when the actual dress was constructed.

The other thing reviewers complained about was the grody half-lining for the bodice.  As drafted, the bodice lining only goes to about halfway down, right at boob level.  The reviewers said you could see the line of the bottom of the facing/lining.  Again I say:  Seriously, Butterick.  The center front bodice and back bodice were easy--just use the same piece for the fashion fabric and lining.  The side front stay/lining just required lining up the armscye with the side front bodice, and completing the stay/lining from the boobs down.

I did a slight SBA by shaving a little bit off the curve of the center front bodice at the bust.  The fit on the bust is not enormous, and the fold does a little bit of subtle bust-building for a flattering finished result.

Swayback and Broad Back

I also did a broad back adjustment on the bodice back, and split the swayback adjustment between the bodice and skirt.  In addition to folding out length for the swayback, I also made the flat back seam into a curve over my swayback.

The instructions for construction are good but not great.  There's a little bit of origami involved and there are some things that aren't covered, like which direction the strap flaps are to be sewn on the underside of the side front (I did one right and one wrong--and I still can't tell you what's right.  I think you fold the strap toward the center--here's a look inside the fold).

You start by sewing the center front and its lining together at the neckline to finish it.  I raised the neckline by 1/2", I don't really know why.  It's neither too high nor too low at the raised level, but I'll probably cut it as drafted next time.  As I sewed it, I realized that unless your fabric needs lining, only the side front stay/lining is necessary.  You can finish the center front neck and bodice back armscye with bias tape.  Oh well, it looks nice on the inside.

Next, you pin the bodice side front to the bodice center front at the princess seam.  Easy enough.

Bodice Side Front Stay/Lining

Now it's time to attach the bodice to the side front stay/lining.  Start by pinning the side fronts together at the armscye to get a clean finish on the armscye.

Burrito Fold for Bodice Side Front

Then you burrito roll the side front and the center front together, and encase them in the stay pinned over the already-sewn princess seam.  You can only do one side at a time, obviously, but once you do one side the other side is not any more complicated (you don't have to do any finagling with the already sewn side).

This is the part where the reviewers seemed to have trouble.  I actually had more difficulty puzzling out how to attach the front to the back.  It's not difficult and I've done plenty of projects with the same design of having a back "collar" extend from the front to the CB neck (including a self-drafted one), but somehow this one took me a minute to find all the match points.  Maybe because it had been so long since I'd sewn.  It was only a few months, but I felt so rusty on this project!

Pin Skirt to Bodice, Not Catching Lining

Because the bodice center front and lining were sewn as one to the bodice side front, the lining could not hang entirely free at the waist (with fashion skirt sewn to fashion bodice and skirt lining sewn to bodice lining).  I prefer to have the lining separate from the fashion fabric to avoid weird bunching and twisting, so I sewed the skirt and lining to the bodice separately everywhere except at the bodice center front.

Lining Hangs Free at Waist to CF

You can see my hand in there illustrating that the lining is hanging free past the bodice center front.

I never know what to line stretch wovens with.  Here I used a stretch mesh purchased as swimwear lining, which is fine for this dress.  It didn't need much opacity added to the fabric, and I don't anticipate wearing tights with it.  If anyone has suggestions for a good stretch woven lining, I am all ears!

Zipper Starts Below Back Collar

As drafted, the entire center back seam is open and the zipper installed.  I don't have great success getting super-square corners at the top of a zipper, and I really didn't want a weird zipper at the top of the collar.  So I sewed the collar and one inch below closed, and then installed the zipper below that.

Burrito to Machine Stitch Lining to Zipper

Because of that, it was a little tricky machine-sewing the lining to the zipper tape (using this method). The first time I tried to pin the lining to the zip I ended up with a water weenie that couldn't be unfolded.  Good thing I tried before actually sewing it!

I realized I was going to have to burrito it again, folding the entire dress to the inside and wrapping the lining around.  It worked!  And sewing the second side was no harder than the first.

Zipper Inside

I ended up with a nice clean finish on the inside, no hand sewing involved.

Double Fold Hem

I did a double-fold machine blind hem.  At the back slit, turned the slit allowance toward the right side and then accidentally stitched along the first fold, rather than the second.  Fortuitously, this resulted in a nicer looking hem than if I had sewn the second fold, as I intended.  I will have to remember that for the future.


Along with the new sewing room (which is totally makeshift at this point, just barely unpacked enough to sew) I have to figure out a new photo location!  I thought the spot at the top of the stairs would be good because there's a skylight, but the skylight is over the stairs, not the landing, and the lighting is uneven--a little too artsy shadowy.  The photo from the thumbnail was taken without flash and you can see that all the light is coming from the (viewer's) right.  With post-production, though, maybe that's ok.  Using the fill flash (this photo) results in harsh colors and a flat photo.  I'll figure it out!

And to make this post even longer and whinier, I lost all of my photos.  Again.  My hard drive died and my iPhoto library had never backed up in Time Machine.  Again.  (Everything else was backed up.)  Tears were shed, and unblogged projects were lost (having learned from bitter experience, I usually don't delete from my camera until the photos have been uploaded to flickr, but wading through thousands of pictures will take many, many hours I don't have).  And because Apple cannot currently generate codes for iPhoto credit in the App store (really?), I am having to learn new software.  It's only $14.99, but on principle I absolutely will not buy iPhoto myself.  (I'm told the issue is that in the old version I have the iPhoto library won't back up if iPhoto is open.  Which it always is.  So I need the new version.)  Blogging will continue to be slow!

And then there's the photographic challenge of shared space: the self-timer photobomber!

Front Closeup-Full

Meanwhile, however, whining aside, I am thrilled with this dress!  It is super flattering, fits well, and was untraumatic to sew.  An excellent entree back into the field.

It's well-drafted, and the fit alterations are almost there.  I should have rounded out the center back skirt seam as I have a teensy bit of shark fin at the CB hem, and the shoulders are a smidge too tall.

The pleats on the skirt feel like they stick out weird when I look down at them, and maybe they do, but it's a weird I can live with (I prefer it to a tummy pooch).

I will definitely be making this again for winter with sleeves, though I will trim the armscye to a shorter/normal length, as a dropped sleeve isn't flattering to me.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Burda 7519, Copper Cowl Carapace Dress

Burda 7519 Thumbnail

I didn't mean to be gone for so long!  Sadly, no sewing here since early May--which is really a record.  First there was packing at the old place, then there was moving, and then I was in a dilemma with my sewing room:  I can't set it up because the roof hatch is in there, and we need some work done in the crawlspace on our roof beam and to insulate the crawlspace.  So I don't want to unpack my sewing room until that's done because everything will get all dusty (and I don't know how much floorspace they need as a staging area).  I did finally get more shelves and moved all the boxes around for the millionth time--I can at least walk in there now!

I have a couple old projects I haven't blogged but there's a reason for that--you're definitely getting the B-Roll here, folks.

Here's a dress from Burda 7519.  I made this before (the top in the thumbnail) and I think I'm done.  It's more interesting than flattering, especially for the amount of fabric it takes.

Back Neckline Finish

When I made this the first time, I fully lined the top and used the back lining to finish the neckline.  This substantial fabric didn't need lining, so I made some self bias tape to finish the back neckline before sewing the shoulder seams.

Pocket Facings

I found this gorgeous copper silk on G Street's $7.97/yd (now $8.97) silk table.  I bought the whole piece and managed to get this dress and a t-shirt out of it, with no scraps to spare.  I had to use a pocket facing because I didn't have enough of the fabric for the entire back pocket pieces, but didn't want the pocket lining fabric to show.

Use Differential Feed on Serger to Gather Up Edge

The sleeve hem is very long and very round, which is a pretty deadly combination for getting a nice flat hem.  I experimented with the differential feed on my serger until I got a nice 3 thread gather to take up some of the volume at the hem.

Press Sleeve Hem Under

Then I pressed under the serged edge, and folded it over again on itself before stitching.  I got a nice flat narrow hem in a tricky fabric on a tricky shape using this method and was quite pleased with myself.


I got pretty good drape on the sleeves, but still not the three nice waterfalls you're supposed to get according to the line drawing.  Maybe I'll try this sleeve again on a plainer, more fitted body.  It certainly adds interest.


I was fairly disappointed in the dress when I finally put it on.  It was my first project for Fall and it does look like a Fall dress--but more in a Pilgrim-y sort of way than a chic sort of way.  Belting it helps, as does the shorter length, but it's much more dowdy than I expected.  The volume just doesn't work on me.  Which I already knew from the first time I made it.  I don't know why I made it again.

I do like that it has pockets, though!  And the accidental shirttail hem is a detail I also like.  I guess with that much volume, when you add a belt it distorts the hemline.  Another reason to avoid this style.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

DC Area: Want some patterns? Or, please take my stuff

Replace all these rooms with "Sewing Room"

Sorry for the long silence, which will continue a bit longer because...I just got back from my closing and I'm moving!  Next week!  Just 5 blocks, but it takes the same amount of work as moving 1200 miles (as I did when I moved from Texas to DC).  I have been in my condo 10 years.  Ten.years. worth of accumulation.  Before that I had moved every year or 1.5 years after moving out of the house for college.  So I was somewhat lean--but even only somewhat lean then.  In the intervening 10 years my worldly possessions have grown to become what could politely be described as "portly."

Obviously, the sewing room, along with everything else, is going through a serious culling.  I always thought my sewing room in my condo was small.  Well, I didn't know from small compared to the sewing room in the new place.  But at least there is a sewing room.

There is so much more to come, but I need to start moving things out of my place to make room for packed boxes.  I am going to list a huge number of things on Freecycle, but I figured I'd give you all first crack.

If you want any of the below items, let me know by leaving a comment telling me what you want with your email address so I can get in touch and we can set up a pickup time.   I've set the comments on this post to be screened, so your email address won't be published.

Also, because I need to move this stuff out, if you want something you have to take the whole set of whatever it is (all the patterns, all the picture frames, etc.).  What you do with the stuff you don't want I am willfully blind to.

So far I have:
-Kitchen garbage bag full of patterns
-A small box of random craft supplies and stationery,
-mosaic supplies (grout, a million glass jewels, mirrors to mosaic onto, and grout sponges),
-many many gorgeous costumes I've sewn,
-half my coat closet,
-a lot of size 6-6 1/2 shoes and boots,
-a big box of picture frames from small snapshot size to very large wall frames (about a dozen large and a dozen small),
-two Ikea floating shelves (white),
-a long, low white Ikea shelf like this one,
-two sets of plastic drawers,
-a 4 drawer lightweight wooden dresser about 4 feet tall (must be anchored to wall if used around children)
-Random kitchenware, mostly decorative (e.g., plates and platters)
-Grocery bag of jewelry
-a LOT of makeup, including a million eyeshadow colors (great for a girls' dress up party) and other grooming products

I am also hoping to sell a few things:
-Full size mattress and box spring along with utilitarian frame.  Mattress is firm and very comfortable, and I am sad to give it up.  If you'd like, I will throw in a "wrought iron" look canopyless bed frame (something like this) and matching floor mirror. 
-Beige microfiber sofa somewhat similar to this but only two cushions wide.  Very comfortable and nice for a small space. 

I haven't started the fabric packing, but obviously there will be some of that too eventually, and clothes, and probably more kitchenware.

I'll be at home Friday evening and Saturday during the day, and some time Sunday for pickup in the Shaw area--unfortunately, I can't deliver or meet you anywhere.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vogue 8631, Sari Silk Kimono Dress

V8631 Long Sleeve Thumbnail

The boyfriend went to India for work(!!!) a couple of years ago, and brought me back a beautiful silk sari.  I had been sitting on the fabric for about 2 years, waiting for the perfect pattern.  The fabric is excellent quality but lightweight, so I didn't want anything that would put too much strain on the seams--but I can't wear shapeless so it had to have some waist definition.  A tall order!

 I made my knit version of Vogue 8631 as a test of the pattern for my special fabric and it passed the test.

I am hoping that the kimono look is one that never goes out of style.  Here is a Carolina Herrera ($799 on Gilt Group) version.

Lengthen Bodice

Other than making it in a woven, adding a zipper, and using the long sleeve, I didn't change a whole lot from the last version of this dress I made.  I had already adjusted the crossover not to gape on my small bust and everything else fit pretty well.  The only real change I made was to add some length to the bodice.  I have a long torso despite my petite stature, and I found the waist on the knit version verging on too high.  I added an inch above the waist and the woven version sits just about perfectly.

Widen Skirt

Although I really like the tulip-y shape of the hem as drafted, I wanted just a skootch more coverage and overlap, so I cut it with a little more width at the rounded edge.

While a strong wind can still blow it open (I always wear a slip under, of course), it has good overlap and in normal circumstances provides ample coverage.

Border Print at Sleeve

Let's talk about this fabulous fabric for a moment.  It was such a lovely and thoughtful gift!  As a traditional sari, it had a scarf piece, or "pallu" on the end.  I cut this off and hemmed the edges to make a scarf, which I wore with my Tweed Ride outfit.  It also has a double border on the remainder of the fabric.  I cut the sleeve hems on one of the borders.

Cutting Oopsie--Border Print at Side Seam

And that was the extent of my intentional use of the border.  When cutting the skirt, I somehow forgot that the fabric was a double border.  I carefully avoided the border on opening edge, but then completely forgot about it for the side seam edge.  Oops!  Luckily, the fabric blends so well that I don't think anyone will ever notice this phantom border.

Self Bias BInding

 To finish the edges of the dress, I made a million yards of self-bias tape.  Because it's a wrap the bias is a continuous circle all the way around the neckline/wrap openings.  It was so much self bias, but worth it in the end for the lovely finish.  The bias tape blends in so well that if I didn't know how it was done, I might think it was magic.

Interface Zipper Opening

The pattern is drafted to be worn as a true wrap, held together by inner ties.  I am not crazy about inner ties--they are so fussy to tie and then if you need to readjust you have to get all the way undressed to do it.

Instead, I put a zipper in the center back seam, interfacing the opening to support my lightweight fabric.  To get a nice clean finish at the back neckline, I closed it up about two inches from the top and installed the zipper below that.  The neckline is plenty wide to pull over my head.

Hand Sew Fronts Together at Waist

To keep the dress together, I hand-sewed the two fronts together at the waist's seam allowance.  This makes it much less fussy to wear.  I do need to keep an eye on my stitching and make sure it doesn't pull out.  That would be quite the wardrobe malfunction.

 The only thing I wasn't sure about for my sari silk version was the dropped shoulder.  I do not care for a dropped shoulder and it does not do anything for my petite frame, where shoulder width is always a challenge anyway.  But changing the location of the shoulder would have required extensive redrafting, so I decided to just risk the shoulder as drafted.

The only small issue in the finished project is not the location of the shoulder--with the wide sleeves it doesn't matter so much where the shoulder is located--but that my French seam sticks out a bit, emphasizing the dropped location of the shoulder.  But this is a tiny nit that I think only someone who sews would notice.

In Motion

I was so happy that not only did I finally find a pattern for my special fabric, but the project also worked out just as I envisioned.  It drives me crazy when I finally cut into a Too Good To Use and then the project ends up being meh and I only wear the finished item a few times before bitterly parting from it.  This special piece will be in my closet for years.

My only dilemma is styling.  I love the way it looks with the obi, but is that just too literal?  I feel like it needs something at the waist, and a narrow belt doesn't look totally great.  But perhaps that is just my obsession with always have a scarf or belt at the waist.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


And fabulous photos they are!  I wore this to the DC Area meetup a couple weeks ago and SewandWrite took these wonderful photos in front of the Chinatown arch.

DC Area Sewing Meetup 3-2014

But of course that wasn't really the point.  The point was to eat some yummy food, gab about sewing, and of course swap fabric and patterns!   I forgot to take a picture, but I brought a *huge* bag full of fabric to give away.  I felt very virtuous for only bringing three pieces home with me.  I couldn't pass up that gorgeous knit print, and I had just been thinking that week how I wanted a water-repellant fabric to make a bag to go in the basket of CaBi bikes.

At the last sewing meetup, the fabulous DD was wearing some drop-dead leggings she made of McCall 6404.  I immediately wanted to copy her.  Not be inspired by, but straight up copy.  She very kindly agreed to pick me up some pleather at Hancock's next time she was there.  And meanwhile the pattern had gone out of print, but luckily BMV had an out of print sale and I got it in my hot little hands.  True to her word, DD brought me the pleather to our meetup.  I can't wait to make the leggings!

It will be a while yet before I get around to them.  First, you can probably guess that I have been working a.lot. the past couple months, and it's not going to slow down anytime soon.  I hope to get back to more regular blogging someday.

Second, after almost a year of not wanting to do anything complicated, I finally got in the mood to do a hard project.  I've been plugging away at it for nearly a month now and am not even halfway done.  Maybe I should rethink that "wanting to do a hard project thing," LOL.  But it will be cool when it is done, I think.  There will be a big reveal...someday.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Burda 09-2013-105, Split/Wrap Front Skirt

Burda 09-2013-105 Thumbnail

After a long stretch of unappealing, Burda finally started getting interesting again late last year.  Burda 09-2013-105 was one of the patterns that went on my list as soon as the magazine arrived.  It has a pencil skirt silhouette, but the front wrap/split means that it's fairly bikeable.  Perfect!

I shortened the skirt three inches before cutting and still had a generous hem allowance for a skirt longer than I usually wear.  This would have been mid-calf had I not shortened it.  Because the shapes of the front openings is the major part of the design here, for my short legs the skirt needed to be at full knee length so the graceful arcs would have their full space to be graceful.  When I pinned it at a shorter length it lost a bit of its sophistication.

Basted Underlining

I love wool crepe for office clothes.  The only downside is that it wrinkles almost as much as linen.  To attempt to keep the wrinkling slightly under control, I underlined it with silk organza.  I stitched the silk organza as one with the fashion fabric at the darts and the seams.  To keep the organza in place I hand-basted it 1/2 inch in from the seam allowances.  Yes, I hand basted.  You can also see where I hand stitched the facings to the organza.

I was afraid that with four layers of fabric at the front waist and belly (two wool and two organza) it would be bulky and add unwanted depth to the gastric region, but it actually sits surprisingly flat.

Slit Facings

When cutting the facings for the skirt front opening edges, be sure to cut them wrong side of the fabric up.  Mirror images always trip me up.  I first cut them right side up, as I had the skirt fronts, and was then surprised when they wouldn't match up with the fronts.  I made a huge note on the pattern pieces to remind me for next time.

The pattern is not drafted with a lining.  Another downside of wool crepe is that it is surprisingly sheer, even when the fabric is relatively thick.  Wearing a regular half slip to deal with the problem was out because of the shape of the front slit so I lined it with a satin rayon.  I bought 3 colors of satin rayon when had them on sale in September 2010 for $2.97/yd.  This was the last of the hot pink and I am sad to see it end.  I've looked for satin rayon for linings since then and never found any as nice at a reasonable price.  I should have bought their entire stock.

Lining Cutting Layout

To cut the front lining I used the pattern piece for the right front, which has center front conveniently marked.  I placed the CF marking on the fold and cut.  The darts on this are fairly wide set and really do sit well over my abdomen.  Normally I get some puffing but it is not noticeable here.  I might give this pattern a try as a plain pencil skirt, cutting using the same method as for the lining.

Lining Cut Out for Slit

To keep the lining from showing through at the front slit, I did not come up with an elegant solution.  I didn't want to use the skirt pieces as drafted and have SIX layers (two wool, two organza, two lining) in the front.  That just seemed like too much.  I just cut a big ol' upside-down U shape out of it and did a serger rolled hem on the edge.  If I make this again, I will likely just underline with the lining fabric and call it a day.

Tape Waistband

The pattern is drafted with waist facings, but a waistband is much more flattering on me.  I can never figure out tucking with a non-waistband skirt, and I feel like the skirt collapses and creases more at the front from sitting without being held in place by a waistband.  I just cut a straight strip of fabric for the waistband, which I interfaced for stability.
To attach it, I first stitched the right side of the waistband to the wrong side of the skirt.  I sewed a ribbon into the stitching to stabilize the waistband and keep it from stretching.

Then I folded under the seam allowances on the other edge and folded it over to the right side and stitched. 

Fold Waistband Tab

Waistband TabThe only tricky part was that I was having one side of the waistband overlap at the back and close with a snap.  For the squared off side of the waistband, I folded it so that the lower folded-under edge of the waistband on the outside that would be topstitched down at the front was longer than the back, ensuring the first row of stitching would be covered up.

Finished Waistband Outside

 For the extended tab side, this wouldn't work and I had to line up the two folded edges evenly, gradually changing the matchup as I got closer to the skirt, and then extending the front beyond the back to hide my stitching from sewing the first pass of the waistband to the wrong side of the skirt. 

The finished waistband looks pretty good (not perfect) on the outside and the inside.

Hem Treatment

 To get neat corners at the hem of the front slits, I used the slit facings.  First I sewed the slit facings in place (before constructing the skirt--they have to be finished before the side seams are sewn).  Then to hem I folded the slit facings to the right side and sewed the hem, right side of facing to right side of fabric, as far as the end of the facing.  Trim the seam allowance, turn and press and you have a nice neat corner.

Hem at Front Slit

To finish the hem, I hand stitched the fashion fabric to the organza so it would be invisible.


I am quite proud of how careful I was with this skirt and did everything "right."  The only unsatisfying thing is that the upper front does not side quite flush against the under front.  I was very careful in putting it together, laying it flat on the table and making sure everything lined up exactly.

What I *wasn't* thinking is that I am not shaped like a table.  Two pieces that sit together perfectly on a flat surface don't necessarily do so on a cylinder.  I should have folded up a towel to create more of a rounded human shape to line up the front pieces.  I'm sure eventually I will undo that side seam (serging and all, ugh) and align the front pieces better, but I have not been in the mood yet.

That quibble aside, I do like this skirt a lot, and it is fairly bikeable (not total freedom of movement to swing my leg over the frame, but it is possible without fearing ripping the skirt).  I love the color, but it made it a bit impossible to photograph as the camera just didn't know what to do with it--most of the photos are a little out of focus!  I redid them, but the second set was worse than the first.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.