Monday, May 23, 2016

Saler jacket: new pattern from Pauline Alice patterns

Do you ever make something and then you just can't wait to wear it? Do you ever start with a piece of fabric that just seems "meh" and turns out to be a wardrobe workhorse? Who knew that the exact thing that my closet was lacking was a neutral tone jacket. So versatile - mixing with most any top I have. Well probably a lot of you knew that already but my disdain for most things neutral - be them beige, brown, gray or similar shades is well documented.

Lately I have been trying to branch out in my sewing, trying some colors I ordinarily skip over and testing out some new shapes. So far - so good with this experiment.

Also an experiment - pattern testing. By this time I have sewn a few Pauline Alice patterns and even tested her Quart coat pattern so I was glad to test this new one, her Saler jacket pattern.

I will give you the lapel casually flipped up view first, to slightly conceal my small bit of creativity with this not so exciting fabric. Although I am excited at how it turned out, and as mentioned in the first paragraph I have been wearing this so much already. It is looking a bit rumpled but that is due to my casual lean against the post here. Gosh,  how to models do it - look so relaxed and yet perfect? Nearly impossible for us mere mortals.

Saler jacket 1

OK here is a better view on the dress form. I am very happy with the proportions on this jacket in terms of the width of the neckline, fit in the shoulders and chest which are the important areas for a well fitting jacket. All the rest, such as the hip width etc. can be fitting based on using different cutting lines of a multi-size pattern and one's own measurements but the shoulders and neckline are really important. Also the width of the sleeve, and the slope of the shoulder. All those details are what I look for in a jacket pattern and so far I think Pauline has a good sensibility for the design in that area. Or perhaps they happen to fit me. Although I made the Quart coat for someone else and that had a good shape as well.

Saler jacket on form front4

My creativity and also a nod to the very traditional English tweed jacket was to add a little contrast to the upper collar and the pocket welt.

Saler pocket detail

I used her test pattern version so mine looks slightly different from her final result. I changed the location of the pockets, made them lower and I think she has done that also on her final version. I also moved them away from the center front. I might have changed the angle a bit but I was kind of improvising since they were in an odd place on the tester version.

Saler tweed jacket

For the contrast fabric I wanted to use some navy blue suede so I searched around for a scrap. But the only suedes I had were odd colors - like a orchid pink or jade green so that was not happening. I have a really old navy blue suede coat that I bought in Florence years ago and seriously thought about cutting that up but stopped myself. (Although that will probably happen one of these days). And then I had a light bulb moment - DENIM! As I have said before, everything is better with denim :)

Saler jacket inside collar and lining

This view shows that the collar is actually a two piece collar which is a nice traditional touch. However I think it is a bit too small - so it is more for looks since it doesn't land on the the roll line of the collar. Which is kind of too bad as I do like a two piece jacket collar if it is designed to assist in the roll of the upper collar.

saler pressing seams collar

This wool fabric plus the interfacing becomes slightly bulky although it did press with steam beautifully. Before I put the jacket together I trim and grade all the seams, edges and corners and then press all the seams open (flat) before then turning and pressing the actual collar and lapel shape. That wooden object at the top of the image is invaluable for all pressing. I think it is called a "June Tailor pressing board". If you search using that you will find it. I also use a clapper, and a sleeve board. And sometimes even a wooden spoon for certain things - although not this time.

On the inside - lots of interfacing. On the jacket body, lapel and under collar I used Pro-Weft Supreme Medium, and then on the upper collar and lapel I used a mix of more Pro-Weft (to give the denim which was very lightweight some heft) and then ProSheer Elegance on the lapel facing. All interfacing are from Fashion Sewing  - and they are having a sale on right now: 15% off. Their interfacings are all I use these days, it is so convenient to order - plus they are wide, mostly 60" so I think a good value.

saler inside collars2

For the under collar and the seams on the upper collar, they are all stitched down with a catch stitch using silk thread. You can see the two pieces of the collar, and that horizontal seam.

I actually made a pre-test test version - if that is a thing - when I first received the pattern PDF from Pauline. That one I made from a piece of fabric that I probably bought for a buck thinking it would be useful for a jacket muslin. A poly-wool blend that would withstand who knows what - and it resulted in a very hideous jacket muslin that said "make me again in a better quality fabric". Although this fabric you see now is also, shall we say, "2nd-tier" in my stash. Also bought at a garage sale or some such for a few bucks. Also with muslin making in mind. But I am glad I gave it a try.

Perhaps you have noticed that I changed the lining so there is no back neck facing. I just can't stand to have a piece of wool on my back neckline - too itchy in that spot. Another thing I don't like is bagging the lining - while it is more "ready-to-wear" unless you know a specific pattern fits to perfection (including hem length and sleeve hem, shape at waist etc) then I much prefer to do some fit adjustments as I go along, and then just sew the lining in by hand. The back neck facing is just incorporated into the back lining.

Saler prepping lining1

Plus I really enjoy doing hand sewing. To me it is relaxing. Anyone else think so?

saler sewing in lining closeup

One other change is curve of the bottom front edge. If you see her pattern it is sort of a cutaway shape and I'm not crazy about that so I added some to that edge. I also lengthened the jacket by 1 inch. Which might seem counterintuitive as I am not tall but I just have very specific views on where a jacket should land on me. These are the small changes that make me happy to sew my own clothes so I don't have to live with some small detail that might not be to my liking. The part below the red line is what I added.

Saler front edge change

Since it is a pattern and I took these here are more views of the jacket. The sleeves on this were spot on. Also her instructions seem very good and she includes pattern pieces for everything including interfacing which is very helpful if you are new to jacket sewing.

Saler side view on form

Back view.  I forgot to mention that this pattern has shoulder princess seams, front and back which are really great for fitting and also look very nice. I addd some width at the hip and I split it up all around on the princess seams which is a good way to do it and keep the proportions.

Saler back view on form

One last parting shot - I am so happy with this denim collar. And pattern love - I might even make this in a knit, unlined or partially lined. Buttons from my button cookie tin - yay! and they are just right. A lucky dip into the button tin that day.

Saler jacket on form front3

In summary - another very nice jacket pattern from Pauline Alice. My version looks so different from her version in her pattern store - I think hers is in a cotton twill maybe? It just shows that a pattern can be whatever you make of it depending on fabric choice. I will do a review on Pattern Review soon with more details, and maybe on The Foldline. I signed up for that site and then have not been back much.

So this really is the last non-summer item! Onward to a silk crepe de chine print and some eyelet. (broderie anglaise for my AU and NZ friends).

Have a great week - I will be hoping on Thursday that I will not be in Jury Service!  EEEK! ok it is our civic duty many other things I would rather be doing, right?

Happy Sewing, Beth

today's garden photo - these foxgloves. This is maybe the 3rd or 4th year since I discovered these would grow here. This year's crop are a bit wimpy,  I think you have to get them in the ground at just the right moment but in any case they are so pretty. And give that cottage garden look which is very hard to achieve here. The salvia and lavender in the background do so much better in our dry climate.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Shirt placket experiment - the wearable test version

For someone who doesn't really wear button up shirts all that regularly I seem to sew a lot of them! Actually sewing shirts is very rewarding. Maybe it is all that precision, and the fact that a shirt is a lot of components so it lends itself to sewing when time permits. Collar and stand in one session, sewing the sleeves and cuffs at another time when I have a spare minute, and before you know it is all done.

So I got the idea to try and make the popover version which seems everywhere now. (I have seen in ready-to-wear a lot lately) Do you get the Land's End catalog? I wouldn't say they are on the cutting edge of style but they do have some nice basics and since I don't sew everything I order once in a while from them. So I saw the popover shirt in their catalog. I have strangely good luck with some of their shoes, and I know a lot of people who swear by their swimsuits. I think I have one two-piece swimsuit but since I can't stand a one-piece swimsuit their selection is lacking for me.

Anyway -  the popover is just like a button front shirt except the button band does not continue all the way down so the shirt has to go over your head. No particular need, I just thought it was kind of cute. And after my success with the hidden buttonhole placket this one was next on my to-do list.

Plus I will be doing a how-to post which will be on the Craftsy blog, so I will link when that posts over there.

aquatop front view

This is the weirdest fabric ever! Or maybe not.... I got it at a Bay Area Sewists group meet up where we swapped fabric. Not sure why I took it, it was about 1.3 yards and it has a significant stretch although it is not a knit. And that print - kind of mesmerizing.  (wait a few weeks - I am working on another item with an even weirder print).  And also the fabric is very lightweight, almost floaty. On the negative side it has a strange feel, maybe because of all the lycra content? But perfect for a test version of a top. I wanted to do a contrast placket - mostly so I could see what I was doing while working out the measurements but also thought it would look good. So I rummaged in my fabric stash and scraps and almost gave up until I found this scrap of quilting cotton which I had used a while ago for some other post. Bingo! on the color match.

The pattern is the same one I have used for all my button front shirts, Simplicity 2339 with various modifications. The bust darts are rotated to shoulder gathers which I really like.

aquatop3 closeup

Next version I will shorten the placket about 6-7 inches. It is not necessary to have it be as long as I made it - I was just playing around with the concept on this one.

aquatop back view

Back view - no changes to the shirt pattern here.
Although for a sleeveless version I moved the top of the armhole in considerably. Something I do after I sew it up, so I can see how it looks on me and get the edge right where I want it on my shoulder. So I try it on, mark with pins where I want the edge to be on either side, then measure and take the average. Note my thread trace, I am a big thread marker - it is just so much easier than putting in a pin which will probably fall out before I get to that part. So I just run a little thread at the spot and then I can put the project down and come back to it without any problems. The thread is marking the final edge, so I removed some portion but left enough of a seam allowance. And tapered to nothing at about 4 inches down.

aquatop shoulder width change

Placket inside - I am really happy with how it turned out and perhaps I will use this on a tunic top as well. The most difficult part of this redesign is finding the center front of the shirt front when there is a sewn on button band - but completely do-able.

aquatop inside placket

For the inside yoke I use some white cotton batiste as I thought the pattern might show through. The armholes have bias binding, which I rarely do but it seems just right on this type of shirt. And some side slits at the hem.

aquatop side view

So that's the latest on my wearable muslin popover top. Originally I took this early morning photo but it was too bright so you can't really see the top - but as the I was standing there I was being buzzed by hummingbirds. Photobombed by a hummingbird :) One evening the sprinklers were on around dusk (back when we watered with abandon!) and I watched a hummingbird fly in place for what seemed like 5 minutes, bobbing up and down in the air above the falling water, taking a shower. They are so fascinating. I keep trying to find a nest but I think they are well hidden.

aqua top with bird

Up next - I am still working in bits and pieces on an outfit for my friend Heather using her Mood fabric boucle - mixed with some wool double knit for a hopefully versatile business and more outfit. Plus I have been given a ton of fabrics by friends who just don't want them in their house anymore - yes please to fabric (after all that was the inspiration for my tri-color coat)

And making a summer shift dress to use as an example dress this weekend when I teach a class at Sips N Sews sewing studio in San Francisco. If you are interested you can still sign up.

Happy Sewing, Beth

Today's garden photo is this blue iris, I kind of forgot that I even planted these bulbs and had blooms from maybe half of the bag - both yellow and blue. What a color!

April flowers

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Random Threads # 20: thoughts on practice and a few questions answered

The end of winter always gives my sewing a boost. Not that I need one really, as long as there is a new coat or jacket pattern that I don't need but seem to sew up anyway. Speaking of which - I did a pattern test for my favorite indie pattern designer (alluded to recently) and I can't wait for her release. Since completed I have been wearing the item all the time. And learned a lesson about neutrals. But that can wait for a later post.

Back to spring sewing - I made a test version of a Burda pattern that grabbed my attention recently. As I mentioned in this post, I am trying some new-to-me silhouettes. Here is the Burda pattern, and I think the success is almost entirely due to how they placed the print in the fabric.

Burda mod style dress
So I gave it a go using some fabric that I had in the stash - which I recall buying at a thrift store. It is not the most sturdy of weave - tends to get all unravely as soon as you handle it. So I figured, oh it is a test version, just to see fit and if I like the shape. Didn't wash the fabric. Which was a slight mistake as it had a musty smell which I didn't notice when sewing but later did as it sat on my dress form. Weird! Anyway - it has been airing out in the garage for a week and the smell is gone. Should have washed it - but I thought it was just going to be for testing, and now I like it.

Pink Burda dress on me1

Unfortunately in a solid color you can't see the seaming at all, and this is one of those dresses that looks so much better in real life, moving around, than it does when standing still for a photo. Looking at that image I think it looks like a sack - but my friends said "ooo cute dress" when they saw it. So I am going to go with the live and in person feedback and ignore the photo evidence! One thing I loved about this is the neckline / armholes / upper back fit perfectly using size 38. Not a change done. Yippee! the proportions are just perfect on me. So I will definitely make it again in a print. I think in a washed silk it would be so perfect. Perhaps needs a bit of jewelry, a nice long necklace. (despite the fact that I am not much of a jewelry wearer - something about having extra things on me bugs - particularly necklaces).

pink dress 3 views

Last week I bought some silk at Stone Mountain which is a panel with a stripe effect similar to the Burda example - so perhaps I will try that. $ 11 for one yard 55" wide panel which was upstairs in their half-off section. Lots of treasures there :)

Are you a podcast junkie?  I would not be able to get through a gym workout without them but I do find them so great to listen to at other times as well. This week I have been listening to the Freakonomics podcast episodes about practice, persistence and grit. The ability to stick with things to improve your skills. How does this apply to sewing? Well the obvious point that practice, doing things until you get the hang of it, be it buttonholes, or zippers. or inserting sleeves or matching plaids. All things where you obviously become more adept with practice. But I suggest applying training methods to your sewing, like you would a sport. In tennis you do drills - how about buttonhole drills. I never go straight to making the buttonholes on a garment - whether bound ones or machine made. I always make a few practice ones in scraps - with the same interfacing as the garment, same amount of layers etc. It's a dry run for the real thing, and it is amazing how many times what I thought I would do is not how I actually did it. Or just found out little things about how the fabric behaves, or the color of thread that is best. Do tests with everything - audition the interfacing for a garment on scraps, test all the possible stitch lengths and threads for topstitching, baste the sleeves from your muslin into the actual garment just to see how they fit.  All these "drills" will pay off in the finished item.

Recent questions:  I am kind of remiss in answering questions that are left in the comments so here are a few answers.
Julie asked how to keep the V-neckline corners from flipping out on this dress and I know exactly what she means. That does tend to happen. Even more so if the neckline is too big, so first make sure it is fitted to your upper chest. Then I suggest a good interfacing, even some extra silk organza in that area to keep it flat. And under stitching really helps. You want to make sure the facing is slightly pulling the outer fabric towards your body.
Nancy asked a question about the same dress - how to keep the bra straps hidden with the cut in armholes. Since I have a lot of things with this shape, the obvious answer is a racer-back bra but I don't tend to like those. I have a little clear stretch plastic thingie which hooks the straps together, but it is kind of lumpy. So I made my own version, just some soft elastic, and a couple of snaps. The beauty of this is that you can make a bunch, not be concerned if you lose it - toss a couple in your travel bag for summer trips and also make in various colors and stretchiness for various bras or tops.
Imb09 asked about the pink and white dot fabric I made using MyFabricDesigns, and whether it was available for purchase. I haven't uploaded any of my designs as purchasable items, maybe I will do that. I have two more on the way to me, including a silk crepe de chine so I can't wait to see that in person.
Sewmanju asked me about interfacing the button band on the denim shirtdress. The pattern doesn't say to interface that area which is a bit of a worry with buttonholes. However the fabric is folded back onto itself, so you are actually creating a buttonhole on three layers of the fabric. In this situation the actual fabric is acting as a layer of interfacing. I think if you add interfacing then it becomes too stiff. I notice this on a few shirts where you fold back twice to create the button band. In a sewn-on button band there are only two layers of fabric - thus you add the 3rd layer which is interfacing.

Sewing Lessons - I have updated my sewing instruction website ( with info on remote sessions. So if you are across the globe and not able to be here in California but want to get some help with a technique, get pattern and fabric advice or get some fit feedback  - we can talk via Skype or FaceTime.

Craftsy posts - Here are a couple of my latest Craftsy posts,  the jeans alteration post was a win as I found those white jeans in just my size, except for that waist fit issue, at a thrift store for $ 5 with the Macy's tags still on! (otherwise I don't think I would bought used white jeans) Here is the jeans alteration post and here is the polished sewing post.

Craftsy posts May 2016

I have a feeling that the jeans alteration post is going to be a popular one. They recently had a post with their most shared sewing posts and I think my Craftsy post on sewing princess seams was at the top with over 19,000 shares. I'll have to ponder what I did right in that one to come up with more ideas for the future.

I am in the midst of a very involved project for my friend Heather, making her a boucle jacket and then also a dress with both the boucle and a wool double knit. This is a slow and steady project, as it has been for all her fabrics she bought at Mood in NY last summer. Speaking of Mood, I have a $ 100 credit there which was my prize for winning the Color-Block contest on Pattern Review a few months ago. I keep going to the website but so far I can't figure out what I want to buy. I need to go in person, right?

In other purchase news - I do not need to buy any more patterns but am getting so close to buying this  Burda 04/2016 # 119B dress if only I can find the right striped fabric. And today I happened to see this Burda pattern and now I want it also. Kind of basic, the shirt sleeve proportions are all wrong, but the pattern has potential and I love that drawstring waist. Hmmm, I think I can just create it on my own. And save $ 8. On the to-do list that goes.

Burda 6662 pattern env

Speaking of the Simplicity website - still horrendous. What a mess, searchablility is non-existent. I used to look at it all the time to compare/choose patterns. Weird what some companies will do.

OK - that's all for today. Saturday I will be teaching at Sips N Sews in San Francisco, a 3-hour workshop on home dec pillows. And then the following Saturday 5/14 is the UFO - Sew Lab. Bring in your unfinished or problem projects for some help to get them completed. Then Sunday 5/22 is the all day workshop to make a Summer Dress. Hope to see some of you there on any of these days.

Happy Sewing, Beth

Today's garden picture - this is a penstemon bought 2 years ago at the local junior college horticultural department plant sale. The colors are so nice and it draws in the hummingbirds.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Think Pink! more fabric designs with McCalls 6513 and Simplicity 5914

Thanks everyone for all the great comments on my denim shirtdress. Sounds like there are a lot of these in the works - and perhaps we can all wear/post on the same day. #denimshirtdressday   That would be fun. Also I have had some questions on my last few items, so I will try to answer those in my next Random Threads post, maybe early next week.

In other news, all the classes I will be teaching at Sips N Sews Sewing Studio in San Francisco are now listed on their website, with descriptions etc. So check it out and register! Scroll down to the section on single day workshops. I hope to see/meet some of you there. I'm working on some other technique based workshops for the following months. I'm thinking of doing a collar and lapels workshop and also welt pockets/bound buttonholes. These would be hands-on sessions where I demonstrate plus have lots of practice, students would make samples and learn how to do the techniques on any pattern. If you are in the area and are interested let me know what class topics you would like to have.

Back to my latest project, using a fabric I designed on My Fabric Designs. This is a company where you can upload a design or use their website tools to create a fabric design and then have it printed on any number of different textile options they offer. My first fabric was a cotton poplin which I sewed up into a dress, here is that blog post. For this one I decided to try their organic cotton interlock knit which is 100% cotton (no spandex). The printable width is 58" on this fabric. They have a few other cotton knits, including one called cotton slinky knit - that one is 94%cotton, 6% spandex, it has a 48" wide printable area and in the sample swatch book the edge is curling which indicates how the fabric might behave. If you are at all interested in doing designs I suggest you order the swatch book, it is $5.00 and the swatches are a good size (5" x 7") and also printed so you can see how the colors look on each fabric option.

Once again I don't feel like I am an artist at all - so I have stayed with graphic prints that I created in Photoshop. I am much more attracted by color so I start with a color I like and go from there.

pink white top with jeans

I made this random dots print that seemed suitable for a cotton knit. For the top I used one of my favorite patterns, McCalls 6513 which I have used before, first here and 2nd here. On the 2nd version there is lots of fitting info (for a simple top I had to do a good amount of adjusting, but worthwhile to get a nicely fitting knit top).

Mc6513 pattern

As they say on those late night infomercials - "But wait, there's more!" 

Since I had 2 yards of 58" wide fabric, I was determined to eke out a skirt from the fabric as well. It kind of gives the appearance of a wrap dress with the added bonus of a top that I can wear with other things as shown above. Score!

pinkwhite 2piece on me3

Yes I am a fabric cutting ninja! OK maybe a slight exaggeration but I do love to squeeze a pattern or two onto the least possible fabric. Something about that just warms my miserly heart. Which means often I buy 2 or 2.5 yards of some fabric and then squeeze a pattern onto 75% of that fabric, leaving me with 1/2 yard or so of something that is really of no use. Which I save anyway...thinking that someday I will create some kind of color block item that needs just that scrap to complete it.
However for this one I had shreds remaining. Which is great!

Dress form pics so you can see the print a little better. This pattern is super easy to adjust, it is a Palmer and Pletsch pattern so it has all the adjustments built onto the pattern pieces, very good for learning how to do a lot of different adjustments. And princess seams so you can shape as you sew.

pink white top only on form

pink white skirt on form

For the skirt I kind of winged it. The pattern is one that has been in my file for ages - I always have it in the back of my mind for just this type of thing and finally I used it. Although I did a lot of fitting after I cut it out. I think I did a size 12, with adding 1 inch on the side seams for fit insurance.  and then shortened from the waist as it was way too long for the look I wanted. Then the whole thing was kind of big so I tapered all the princess seams down about 12 inches - so it would keep the flare below the hip. Super easy skirt to make and a great bottom half for a faux-wrap dress. The pattern is a bit misleading, I made the Version B but it is not at all as tulip-y at the hem as it appears on the pattern picture. Perhaps in a more structured fabric it would be. I think my finished skirt is about 21" long.

Simplicity5914 pattern env

So that's the latest on my fabric designing efforts. I just created another one and this time ordered the silk crepe de chine so I am looking forward to making a floaty summer top with that. Disclosure:  My Fabric designs have provided me with an allowance to create fabric each month. Thus far I have been really impressed with the quality of the fabric, although I find designing a bit of a challenge.

Up next, another new silhouette for me (that recent BurdaStyle pattern release Mod Style really grabbed me). And some prep work for my classes in May.

Happy Spring Sewing, Beth

and today's garden photo - this time of year it has to be roses. Here's one of the new ones, I just added to the front area. It is a Pink Peace, and I am not so sure about it. I tried to find new roses to replace some very old and tired ones, so researched what would do well in our super hot summers. The blooms on this just didn't last more than a day or two which seems wrong, but very pretty when they are opening. Although most of the roses seem a bit wimpy the first year or two and then really take off after that. Fingers crossed :)

April garden

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Denim shirtdress Simplicity 8014 and some other news

Do you ever see a new pattern and have to have it? I mean like, a duplicate of the pattern envelope version? Sometimes that happens to me and I'll bet I am not the only one. So when I saw Simplicity 8014 with the denim shirtdress pictured there I wanted to make it immediately. I will say that my version is less successful than theirs - partly due to my choices and partly due to the fact that I am not a tall and slim model with fabulous hair. But I have created a very wearable and sharp looking denim shirtdress that I think will be great for spring/summer/fall wearing.

Returning to the title of this post - in other news: I will be teaching some sewing classes at Sips N Sews Sewing Studio in San Francisco starting in May. I know they are currently working on their website and calendar entries so everything is not listed yet, I will post here when all the info is listed. Sips N Sews is a subscription based sewing studio  - I went there in September for a Bay Area Sewists Meetup and I was so amazed by the space. It is a typical San Francisco storefront entrance, but past the doorway lies a huge workroom with every kind of sewing machine, cutting tables, a classroom space and even sewing supplies to use. Classes are open to both their membership and non-members. On Sunday May 22, I will be teaching a day long seminar titled: Sew a Summer Shift Dress. (Say that 3 times fast, ha)  Anyway - stay tuned for more info and email me directly if you want more details.

OK - back to denim. Remember a couple of posts ago I said "when in doubt sew denim." Maybe that doesn't apply to everyone but it certainly applies to me. I always have a good feeling about things sewn from denim. Perhaps because I am a child of the 60's - 70's when denim began its utter dominance of all things fashion  - or perhaps it is my native San Francisco roots where Levi's were born - but I think denim can be sewn into anything from casual playwear to tailored garments to a formal gown. (some of you might disagree on that one).

I had a piece of denim that was a remainder from another project, so not really ideal for a dress but in Project Runway fashion I made it work.

side view on me denim dress

It looks a bit rumply here - but I don't notice that in real life. Some things just look better in person than in photographs.

denim dress front on form

Sadly for me I think it looks better on the dress form than when I am wearing it. Although here it photographed in the absolutely unwrinkled state - unnatural really. After all we look at magazines and catalogs and want to appear as the people do there - which is impossible since they are pinned, tucked and Photoshopped into smooth and unwrinkled perfection.

Back to sewing details. As I mentioned, the fabric piece was a remnant and barely enough to eke out a dress. So no to the chest pockets, short sleeves and sadly, no to the self-fabric belt. Which is a bit of a shame as I think it would have looked better. Although I did rummage around my belt rack and came up with this one which I have had for maybe 25 years? And this belt has a little purse that has small hooks which clip into some eyelets in the belt, so kind of an upscale fanny-pack item. And which I have rarely used. Although now in the "carry our phone everywhere" era it might be time to put that accessory back into use.

This is the piece of fabric. 60" wide but only about a yard of real yardage where the tape measure is plus some more. This is really lightweight denim - more like a chambray weight but the color is a deep blue.

denim fabric on floor

Pattern envelope. I love the shirt tail hem on the dress. What I do not love is the back. Which in this version that I sewed has a gathered center at the back yoke and then no shaping.

Simplicity 8014 denim dress pattern envelope

So the back is not my favorite on this dress. And if I were to make it again I would change a lot.  See, too much fabric there. And too long in the back. I did do a tuck on the pattern piece taking out about and inch of length but I could have removed a lot more. Since the hem is level the extra length is all above the waist, and the excess fabric at the center back is not helping. After I finished I thought about cutting the back in half - creating a seam, removing some of the excess through waist darts but in the end told myself to get a grip - it is just a shirtdress and wear the belt, blouse it a bit and be done with it :)

back view on me

Also without a belt I think it looks ridiculous. Or else I am just not used to things that don't have a waist. Do you watch Call the Midwife? I like most any of the PBS/BBC shows that are set in another era - partly because the costuming is so interesting. So this dress reminds me of something they would wear as a very utilitarian work dress. Just need the red cardigan and the hat. (and a lower hemline).

denim dress no belt

A couple of fitting adjustments. The aforementioned back length adjustment.  Also I lowered the bust dart by an inch.

Note this is a bit of a trap for new stitchers. This pattern, and many shirt patterns have a dropped front shoulder seam. So you have to pin the back body and yoke together, then pin at the shoulder seam and drape it over your body to accurately see where the bust dart lands. Note that the measuring tape is starting at the actual top of the shoulder, not at the seam which is lower in front than the shoulder point.

measure dart pointnew dart placement

This is a pretty easy adjustment, I just traced the dart shape on tracing paper, and then moved it down. Alternatively you could cut out the dart and move it also.

Back view on form, see how much gathering there is in the center back. And a few stray white threads marking the waist, where I was contemplating putting a channel elastic, although I tossed that idea.

dress on form back no belt

I have finally gotten the buttonhole attachment on my newish Singer machine to work properly. Although I will never like it as much as the old vintage version. Which I use sparingly now as it is on its last legs due to dropping it and also cobbling together some parts. I found these buttons in my button box - which is a old cookie tin holding all the buttons that people have given me. Filled with mostly useless but a surprising number of good choices.

denim dress close up top

My last challenge with this dress and the reason I remembered that this fabric was not previously used for something is that it might have been at the end of a bolt and I bought the whole piece which was available. But didn't use this portion as it had a whole lot of writing on the inside, done with some type of indelible gold marker pen, see below.  I have rolled it up so you can see the inside of the fabric but also that it showed through to the right side of the fabric in some places. eek!

marks on denim

So with some extremely judicious cutting I was able to avoid it almost everywhere but I had to use that portion of the fabric. So the collar stand, both inside and out were cut from the portion of the fabric with that gold writing on it. That seemed the most inconspicuous place to put it and I am sure no one will ever notice. For the inside yoke I used some black cotton batiste.

denim collar stand

Well that is all for this dress, despite my criticisms and the fabric challenge I think it is an OK result. A dress like this needs accessories, so when I wear it I will dig around for an interesting bag and perhaps some colorful shoes.

denim dress on me front with belt

Up next, more sewing with fabric from My Fabric Designs, and another new silhouette. Thanks for all the nice comments on my last post - for that Burda top. It is appealing to me more and I am wearing it today :) with red jeans.

Gardenwise this is the month to enjoy - lots of colorful blooms and not much work. Plus tomatoes planted! Hurry up home grown tomatoes. ( no hurrying, they will be here starting in late July no matter how much we wish them to be ripe).

Happy Sewing and if you are in the SF bay area I hope to see you at a sewing class.


For today's garden photo - how about that luscious rose that is visible behind my left shoulder?  I think it is called Cherry Parfait - but not 100% on that. Anyway it is such a great color. and the shade of my latest sewing project!

April flowers

Friday, April 15, 2016

Burda 6632 tunic top in cotton lawn

Do you ever feel like you ought to sew something different?  Like a different silhouette? Or maybe a color that currently doesn't have a place in your repertoire? I do. I've been thinking about this question lately and come to the conclusion that I want to try some different tops. Reflecting on what I make for myself, I think I have a good variety of shapes in coats, jackets and dresses but I don't really branch out when it comes to tops. And I see so many cute and interesting tops that other people are sewing.

Consequently I bought Burda 6632 and sewed it up using a cotton which I bought last December at Stone Mountain. I originally bought it to sew a Christmas gift and there was about a yard remaining after making that project which was just enough for this sleeveless tunic.

And that is another question, what defines a tunic top? To me it is a bit loose, most often collarless, and maybe longer than a button front shirt.

Burda top on me front

I'm not sure I landed on tunic top with this one but I did end up with a nice floaty top which will be very wearable in July or August.

It has forward shoulder seams and some pleating there, and then the neckline band meets in the center and continues down to the front hem. The inside of the band is pieced as I was down to little scraps of fabric when I cut it out. Sewing this type of fabric is so nice - cotton lawn and voile just sew up like a dream and press so easily.

blue burda top on form front

Here is the back view. It has a yoke and then the back is very full and gathered into the center of the yoke. It looked very balloon-y on me (at least I thought so). So I added the little bit of elastic in a channel at the center back waist. Not on the pattern but my little fix to take in some of the ballooning. I think if I were to make it again I might take out most or all of the gathers at the center back and just have it be flat at the yoke. There would still be enough room in the back. In a silk it might be fine, more floaty and drape and look better, sometimes you just have to adapt a pattern for the fabric at hand.

blue burda top back on form

Or maybe not enough room over the backside :)

burda top back view

Side view on the dress form. I like the shape of the hem and that it is a little bit longer in the back. I just made self-fabric bias binding for the armholes - which the pattern probably noted but I didn't look at that part. Although I did have to read through the instructions for the center neck band piece.

blue burda top on form side

Here's the pattern envelope. And by the way, I lopped off a bit from the outside edge of the shoulder. My standard adjustment - I can't stand sleeveless tops that are too wide in that area. Looking at the photos above I would have liked to take away more but I think the pleats were in the way. I sewed the size 38 but now I'm thinking that in roomy Burda styles I might even try the 36 next time.

Burda 6632 top

I thought the center neckline might be a bit low and it's not too bad when standing up straight.  A lot of things with V-necklines are that way which is probably due to the fact that I am shorter than the pattern is designed for. I thought about shortening the upper bodice but it seemed like a pain in the you know what to deal with redrawing that neck band piece, plus this was kind of a test version using a scrap fabric. On the positive side a friend of mine gave me some dark red jeans which are a perfect complement to this top. And which I didn't wear when I took these photos as they had not been hemmed yet. Oh you bet, I have to shorten all pants. Good thing I have a sewing machine. ;)

Burda top on me3

So now I have tried another silhouette. And hmmmm. Not so sure I like it. But whatever. Worth a try.

However I just finished a different item, with another new to me silhouette, and I love it! Which goes to show, you never know until you try something out.

We took these photos about 3 weeks ago - it was almost sleeveless weather that evening. And then more rain - yippee - and now I think spring is well and truly arrived. I have tomato plants growing happily on the patio!

I have more fabric from My Fabric Designs that I am about to cut into very soon - after pondering what to make with it the light bulb went on. Are you one of those people who puts their head on the pillow at night and then reviews your day? A quick mental scan of what you are doing tomorrow? and any puzzles that are rattling around in your cranium? Oh, is that just me? Yes, some nights I fall asleep in a snap but most times I have the sense that just before I go to sleep I open one little mental filing drawer, pull out a question and think about it a few minutes. It could be anything from where to put a new plant, a solution to a family dilemma, what to cook for a dinner party, how to advise a friend with a sticky situation, or the most relaxing one of all - what to do with a particular piece of fabric.  OK, fabric usage is  not the most earth-shattering issue but enjoyable to think about nonetheless.

Next up - the result of my recent declaration which was "when in doubt sew denim".

Happy sewing dreams,  Beth

The roses are blooming everywhere, my neighborhood is awash with color on every street. Lovely! This yellow one in the backyard is usually a first to bloom then kind of drags staring in July. But so nice for now.

April garden
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