Friday, January 29, 2016

Silk blouse with hidden buttonholes, Simplicity 2339

This one could be subtitled - Silk blouse: The practice version. Not really a muslin, with this very lovely fabric, but more of a practice version for a solid color silk charmeuse in a rich teal green that I really want to get just right. So I have completed a luscious silk blouse that very much says spring. While there are a few daffodils just about to bloom - spring is not yet here so it will go into the wardrobe until the season is right for a white and coral print. Also the question of what to wear it with. I showed it to my fried Alice and she immediately said "white jeans!"  Which is perfectly fine if you are 5'8" but I don't quite know about that look on me. More on white jeans later in the post.

Back to the shirt. I made almost the same version of this a while ago - scrolling though my old posts it was 2011. That long! In silk and with hidden buttonholes. However I was never 100% happy with how that turned out. Even though I wear it a lot and it goes so well with other items in my repertoire. Since then I have made this pattern 6 times (one of those is hot off the sewing machine last night). But for the upcoming teal silk I wanted to do a little fit adjustment, thus a slight rework of the pattern and a test using this busy silk print.

coral silk blouse on form 

As for fit adjustments, in previous versions I wasn't happy with where the bust dart landed. I think one version was too low and another too high. For this version I adjusted it a bit - lower by 1/2 inch I think and it came out perfectly. In other versions I have converted the bust dart to shoulder gathers, and in a knit version I converted the bust dart to easing it into the side seam which works quite well in a knit.  I will include links below to all the various versions.

This picture was taken around 5pm on a very dark and rainy day, so just a quick dash outside. But rainy does not equal gloomy - not around here. Things are green and growing. We are SO hoping that the drought will be a thing of the past, but a few rainy months will not fix our water problems by a long stretch. (Don't get me started on water management in my state - such a big population, huge agriculture industry and total disregard for this serious issue on so many fronts, such as changing our mindset on usage for landscaping or lack of infrastructure to capture the rainfall. Anyway - all rainstorms are welcome now.

silk blouse coral1 

Fit, not bad, right?  Although I think it is too long and I am pondering shortening by just an inch or so, however I will wait until I figure out what to wear it with.

A few construction details. I have a burgundy color silk charmeuse blouse that I bought at Ann Taylor about 10? years ago which I really love and that is where I saw this type of hidden buttonhole placket. As it was hanging in my sewing room I noticed that it had a subtle angle above the upper button, such that the neckband actually didn't meet but finished about an inch apart. Does that make sense? 

coral silk blouse collar view 

See how the center fronts overlap and then don't quite at the top of the center front? That is the subtle angle. It also required taking length out of the collar stand and collar. It's a nice effect for a blouse that you are never going to button at the neck but I am not sure I would bother again.
After I make the teal green silk blouse I will do a post on how to create the hidden buttonhole placket, as I was sewing and taking these photos I realized it is a bit hard to see with this busy print.

coral silk blouse making button band

Here's a look at the buttonhole placket, it is all finished and just ready to be flipped over and then stitched down. The buttonholes are done, and then they end up behind the actual front of the blouse, and are connected to the front facing. The whole thing is basically a 4-layer sandwich and you just have to keep track of where each layer is, and then also place it on the blouse front in the right spot so the buttonholes close across the bust etc. Also I used my favorite edge technique, which used to get so much traffic to my blog (now eclipsed by my "how I hem sleeves" post which is my most pinned post) What is a popular post is something I find interesting/entertaining and if I knew those posts would be read so much I would have done a better job with nicer photos! oh well.

A better look at that clean edged facing. Basically you stitch it together, right side of fabric to right side of interfacing, then trim the seam and clip curves as need, then flip and press, taking care to get a crisp edge.

coral silk blouse facing edge 

For a change I did french seams on the side seams as well as the sleeves, but used the serger on the armhole. I am not at all a purist when it comes to seam finishing - in fact rather lazy about it. One of these days in a Random Threads post I will have to ramble on with  my thoughts about the inside of garments.

And viola, hidden buttonhole placket!

coral silk blouse with buttonholes

coral silk blouse back on form

coral silk blouse cuff

I am also on a roll with finding buttons in my button box. People have given me so many buttons in the last few years. Anyone who cleans out their relative's home seems to want to present me with one of those old cookie tins filled with buttons or other sewing room paraphernalia so it seems silly to go out and buy new buttons. Plus the pleasure of finding a matching set is well, unmatched!
That's the latest on my sort of test version. And I bought this fabric a couple of months ago at the local ASG stash sale for around $6. Score! Plus I have about 1.3 yards left which is just enough to make a sleeveless top. Which I have a feeling I would actually wear more often. Similar to this top which was also derived from this same Simplicity pattern. The pattern that just keeps on giving.

Shirts made from this same Simplicity pattern. And I haven't even mentioned the placket on most of the other versions, I have never used the original sewn on buttonhole placket, I should show you how I make the all in one placket that looks like the sewn-on.
blue silk charmeuse mentioned above
black dot print cotton lawn version
navy blue plaid flannel version
green polka dot knit version
cotton poplin paisley version, bust darts converted to shoulder gathers
today's coral and white silk version
and a cotton plaid version just finished and soon to be posted.
Ok that's 7.  Talk about value - for a Simplicity Amazing Fit pattern I  bought for $ 0.99.
Even at the regular price it would now be a bargain.

Speaking of bargains - Joanns (the slightly evil empire - although I shouldn't complain, their fabric is mostly crap but they do carry good linings, sell patterns for a pittance and are open until 9 pm. So, Ok not complaining any more)
anyway - Burda envelope patterns are starting to show up in their sale ads for $ 2.49 which is fantastic. So I did buy a few this week.

the one on the left tickled my color block obsession, and I am trying to find some interesting yet casual fabrics so I could wear it jeans, maybe some kind of denim and knit combo - maybe including the leather waist element.  The one on the right, I have had a hankering (is that a funny American word to some readers - meaning a craving, desire, itch, yen for something) anyway a thought to make a shawl collar blazer. Sort of easier than a standard lapel. But sometimes I think it looks a bit plain or frumpy.  Bought the pattern anway.

And the blouse on the left, looks quite nice for a floaty summer top. The Simplicity on the right, as soon as I saw that pattern envelope I wanted that exact denim dress. I think we will see a lot of those once the winter retreats.


So that's the latest. For this weekend's sewing I might do some pattern experimentation - play around with some that have been in my stack of interesting possibilities.
And otherwise enjoy the rain on the roof!

Happy weekend sewing, Beth

oh ya, what about the white jeans? they look great in the summer but I always feel like they get dirty the minute I put them on, I am sure to spill some coffee or even something like an ink pen or a lipstick becomes a hazard in my hands. but I might give them a try.

And a garden photo ! another Yay! Some bulbs are starting to appear and I think with these showers it will be a good show this year. This is such an unusual camelia, the flowers are huge, like dinnerplate dahlias. With ruffley edges, bright yellow stamens and a lot of sticky nectar. Lots of bees and a few hummingbirds. Another good sight:)


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Random Threads # 17, What is up with that?

Well that is kind of a random title, "What is up with that?"  But I keep a piece of paper on my desk and as the weeks go by I jot down topics that are bouncing around in my head or I come across in my sewing web surfing. And the page for this edition of Random Threads had a bunch of nouns with the words "What is up with that?" scrawled next to them. I guess I am in a questioning mood.

Randomly speaking of questioning - I happened to listen to a podcast where the author Gretchen Rubin was interviewed, she has a book out called "Better than Before" and her own podcast. Along with that there was a quiz you could take to determine your personality type (I defy you to resist those stupid quizzes when you are killing time or procrastinating)  So as I was standing at the stove, sautéing some onions I tap, tap, tapped on my phone and determined that I am a questioner. Which I could have told them from the get-go. The point of knowing your personality type is to better able to understand motivations, do things that you want and generally be happier. At least that is what I gathered from the brief listen while dinner was cooking. I think I will give her podcast a try, who isn't trying to create new habits when the calendar turns over a new year?

Also speaking of podcasts - I somehow came across a British podcast, Answer Me This. And have binged listened about a 1/3 of the episodes on iTunes, now pacing myself through the rest. So readers in the UK, are you a fan of this one? I find it hilarious. Silly, stupid, smart all rolled up in one.

Back to sewing.

Let's talk new patterns. For the most part I am ho hum on the new pattern releases and if past history is any guide then in about 3-4 months (when the weather matches the pattern release) I will find a few Vogue patterns that I simply must have. But for now the latest release was interesting but no show-stoppers. The one pattern that I really like is by my beloved Donna Karan for Vogue. However I fear it would be a doozy to alter to fit for my 5'3" frame. But I will probably give it a go when sleeveless dress weather is here. It RAINED today! yes we are getting storms, rain, wet weather. Hallelujah for us in drought stricken California. What does rain mean? weeds.......oh I am so fickle.

V1489 pattern

Also looking more at that dress above I think it depends heavily on standing at that nonchalant/slightly fierce pose. Maybe in real life it would look like a droopy mess.  But as I said, will probably give it a try.

Simplicity Pattern website - WHAT is up with that?  wow that is a mess. I cannot stand their website revamp or whatever the hell they have done with it. Tried to make it more e-commerce-y or Pinterest-y. So many websites revise and try to emulate the Pinterest look with lots of big photos that scroll past but then the actual utility has vanished. I typically went to their site to look for patterns, use the search functionality, and now the search is a jumbled mess.  So bad. Makes me not want to bother with their brands which is kind of a shame.

Sewing on TV:  do you ever watch sewing shows on TV? Does anyone watch broadcast TV? Here in the bay area we happened to have quite a few PBS stations and they often show many different sewing shows. I received a new TiVo Bolt for Christmas (Oh, Tivo** how I love you and have for many many years - can I say I was an early adopter, I have one old Tivo with lifetime service that is more than 12 years old. which is kind of like a 20 year old dog. As we have had the hard drive croak on other Tivo units but that original one keeps on working. I probably just jinxed it by writing this). Back to my new Tivo: using keyword search for sewing - so many shows and so set up recording on them. Nancy Ziemen, Sew It All TV, Fit to Stitch with Peggy Sagers. Kind of surprising how many there are. Some are useless but others are interesting and every once in a while I have learned some fantastic tip that was really useful.  I'm a big believer in taking in information from a lot of different sources, be it a book, podcast, blog, tv, video class. You just never know where the light bulb moment will be found.

The Fold Line:  a new community website for stitchers, with pattern reviews, forums, user profiles. I did sign up, looked around and have maybe been back once or twice. It seems like a good idea but perhaps not getting any traction? My impression is that people are too scattered to coalesce around a new site, so as much as sewers want a Ravelry for sewing, I don't think it has yet appeared. What do you think? I'm not really a participator when it comes to websites or forums. I do put up pattern reviews on, because I get a lot out of the reviews of others and it seems only fair to contribute my reviews. But as for forums, discussion board etc. I don't see how anyone finds the time.

Pantone Color(s) of the Year: in a word - blah.  so weird. Yes, it is a marketing gimmick but these are really goofy. In fact separately they are OK but when you look at them together they each make the other seem more bland. Ok to be fair, unless the color is turquoise or maybe coral I will always think it is a little bland. Are you going to run out and find some Rose Quartz fabric? Please tell me no.


Imminent demise of the Big 4 pattern companies? Did you read a blog post on SewMamaSew by Abby Glassenberg. She spoke about shifts in sewing industry trends. Most of it wasn't something I had an opinion one way or another, however she sort of predicted that the indie pattern share of sewing patterns will win out over the established traditional Big 4. I think she is out of her mind there. There is a market for certain independent patterns with the accompanying instructional tools and community, however my sense is that once you venture past beginning level or want to explore more complex garments, then the larger companies have the depth to product that product. Vogue, Burda, Marfy, these pattern companies by and large do a good job in producing patterns that a home sewer can use to recreate a runway look. I think her point of view is so far from garment sewing that the conclusions make no sense. Also there have always been independent pattern companies. Businesses come and go, some last for decades and some go out of business, some are absorbed by larger entities. The sewing pattern industry is no different.

A mystery to me: I love the look of this coat, Butterick 6244. Well actually, I love the the look of the coats made by these two. Lori of Girls in the Garden, her version here.  It looks so stylish on her and color is such a great choice for a neutral go with anything coat. The other is Margo, who made it in red. Scrumptious. They are both perfection. But there is no lining! how does that work? Isn't it itchy? and I think it would stick to whatever you are wearing under. I will admire from afar but know those things would drive me crazy if I had it.  Also both their versions are way better than the pattern envelope!

B6244 coat

Well that is about all for my Random Threads tonight. I didn't even get to my questions about "Tidying Up".  Have you Kondo-ized your fabric stash? or the sock drawer? what is it about the socks? It gives me joy to have my socks jumbled up in the drawer. I could care less about their organization. And don't throw away your old photos  - or your hammer. You might need it :)

Some sewing going on - as I might have mentioned I am trying to cut back for a while on sewing. With success, in that I have only made one item since Jan 1. Which is not this top, actually finished before Jan 1. It is a mostly McCalls 7046 t-shirt with the ruched sides, made smaller to fit better, and then the collar of the Sewaholic Renfrew top grafted on it (and adjusted to fit the neck opening. Super soft and cozy knit, in the fabric closet a good few years. Maybe I used to buy from them but have not in several years. Anyway - I actually have a hot pink cashmere cardigan that matches exactly, which I had not worn in ages. But presto - cozy winter outfit. Hmm. what else is in that fabric closet?

Pink striped top

Sneak peek - just finished a silk blouse - I mentioned it has a hidden buttonhole placket which is something I developed (copied from a RTW blouse) so I will do a how-to post. It is surprisingly easy!

coral silk blouse collar view

That's all for now. Happy almost weekend sewing, Beth

** TiVo - just in case, since I was blathering on about it and it is something you have never heard of. Do they have Tivo in Europe? Australia? not sure. It is maybe the original ? digital video recorder, basically a computer that records TV. What makes Tivo different is the interface - it is super easy to use, works really well, just a really well designed product that is often smarter than we are (ha ha)  and now this new version Tivo Bolt is very tiny - like the size of a hardback book, and record/finds both broadcast and streaming. and you can watch on your computer in other rooms. Basically I will be able to stay in and sew until I run out of fabric. JOKING!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Burda 6946 a different twist on a wrap dress

Happy New Year! Thank you so much for all your nice comments on my year end wrap up, on my recent sewing output and most of all thank you for all the congratulations on my Pattern Review contest win.
My sewing is always veering off in different directions, from churning out wardrobe basics to immersing myself in coat-making or tackling some difficult fabric. I have no idea where my mood will take me this year - it probably depends on what gems I find at some out of the way estate sale. Whichever way I go, I appreciate your readership along the way.

Now that I have coat making out of the way - at least for this winter, I can return to something I finished in late November.

This is Burda 6946 in rayon jersey.  I bought the pattern a while ago, maybe in 2014 and had been meaning to use it for a dress for my friend Heather, and among her haul of fabric she purchased in NY last summer was this print.

wrap dress on heather2

It is a very distinctive print so you probably can't see the lines of the pattern but it has some really interesting pattern pieces, and as one of the Burda Plus envelope patterns, was really easy to fit. I think if you are in the size range (Burda European size 44-56) in particular if your bust measure fits in that range then these Burda patterns are really good. Both in the envelope patterns and the magazine/pdf patterns, there is just about any style and some really outstanding choices. I know there are some wacky ones - they always throw in a few zingers but they do that for any collection.

Here is the pattern envelope. You still can't really see the design lines because they have also used a rather bold print.

Burda 6946 pattern envelope

Burda tech drawing

See?  Slightly unusual with those two piece fronts, and then sleeves that are also also two pieces, and attach via a modified raglan seam.

A better look at it on the dress form where those quasi-princess seams are more apparent.

wrap dress on form3

It probably doesn't show but the two piece sleeve seam is sewn last, so you sew the whole front and the sleeve front, then the back including the sleeve back, and then join front and back up the whole sleeve and shoulder seam. Clever, I thought. Also lots of adjustment possibilities, for bicep adjustment, take in or out the sleeve circumference, take up at the shoulder if needed.

H Burda raglan sleeve

Heather mentioned that she liked long sleeves on this type of jersey wrap dress, and wanted to be able to push them up - but mentioned how she found it annoying that they never stay pushed up. I know just what she means. She said I wish they could be permanently scrunched up that way. So I had a tiny light bulb moment and did a bit of ruching with elastic at the bottom of the sleeve so they gather up and create that sleeve scrunched up look.  I put a piece of paper behind the sleeve so you can see it a bit better. Also this fabric, at first I confess I didn't care for it but it did grow on me. The background is a burgundy-brown shade with cream, ivory and blue ovals.

H Burda Sleeve detail

This fabric - aaaagh - reads like a stripe. Not the easiest to work with for a dress with curved pieces but I did the best I could. And told Heather no more buying fabric without sending me a text image! Ok only slightly kidding there but she bought another one that is a very specific directional pattern that I still can't decide what to do with.

How about some pattern adjustments?  Not all that many on this pattern, I used the size than corresponded to her measurements and for the most part it worked will. However - I think a V-neckline wrap is just never gonna cooperate with someone with, shall we say, an ample chest. Just a fact - that V-neckline wants to open and this is a business/office wear type of dress so a little adjustment was in order.

This is the upper bodice pattern piece and I did the adjustment that I very often do on wrap tops, which is to change the curve of the V-neckline to add at the center front. The center front line a front bodice piece that is a wrap is the guideline, and if you do a tissue fit or make a muslin be sure to draw in that line, and then pin the pattern pieces together there. See below, the Center Front is noted. I needed to raise it up about 1 inch at the center front, so I played around with the addition on the pattern piece to give a graceful curve on the two overlapping sections. It might look like a weird segment that was added but scroll back up and see that it brings the lowest part of the V to a perfectly daytime appropriate spot. I have done two posts on the Craftsy blog about adjusting V-necklines, this post is for a variety of adjustments including this type. This post talks about adding length to the front of a wrap bodice and also adjusting the center front curve.

Burda wrap alteration

I did a full lining in the dress, using the knit fabric that I have used for a lot of knit dresses. I thought about leaving the lining off the sleeves, but with the raglan that seemed more trouble than it is worth and this way it gives a nicer finish on the inside. The lining takes the place of any neckline facings which I don't like. As you can see I made sure to turn and under stitch the neckline edge so the black is not at all visible. Having a lining in a knit dress makes it so easy to wear, and you can wear tights without any extra layers since the lining is more slippery. Every time I show this someone asks, the fabric I use for all knit linings is call Jet Set Knit , I buy it at Joann Fabrics and it doesn't cost much, comes in a lot of colors although I mostly use black, white or the ivory colors. And it washes and presses really easily. So not very fancy but it does the job. Also in the Dancewear section of the knits you can find some other knit fabrics that really are linings, like you would use in leotards or gymnastics/skating costumes, and I sometimes use those as well. This fabric is 100% poly but it doesn't feel clammy. I wouldn't use it in something designed for hot climates - although I used it in this dress and it is great. So maybe I would.

H Burda dress lining

The one thing that many might not like about this dress is that it is a faux-wrap, so their is a side zipper. The front sections actually cross all the way over and are attached into the side seams. So the only way to get in/out is to have the side seam zipper as the waist is fitted. Which made more work, with the lining etc. but gives such a nice shape to the final dress. Here is the zipper, you can't even see it :).  Also considering the print and the various shaped pattern pieces I think I did an OK job on making the "sort-of" stripes of the oval print match.

H Burda wrap dress side zip

Since this is not really a wrap but a faux wrap, per request I put a snap at the center front just for insurance. It is a bit tricky figuring out where to sew the snap parts so I have my method which might make no sense to anyone but I will show it anyway.

I pin the dress wrap closed just as I want it to be. I do this all with long pins, then take it off (either the person or myself and mark with thread tracing. I mark the exact center front, and then diagonal lines where edges overlap. You can see where that knot in red thread is showing where the part underneath is in relation to the upper layer. It is keeping these angles in the same orientation that allows you to sew on the snap parts on the upper and under layer so that it lays nicely when the snap is done up.

H Burda wrap center snap

Another look at Heather in her dress. I think we will repeat this in the spring in the short sleeve version.

Heather wrap dress1

And oh, that lawn is sad. Had to let it go for the most part due to the drought. and now it is growing a little bit in weeds and patchy bits. I confess - I bought some bulbs today, tulips and daffodils. Very late to put them in the ground but they will be OK. I just can't resist the colors!

Tomorrow we are suppose to have a big storm (yay!) so I think some sewing will be happening. Up next I am finishing a silk shirt and then no idea, I'm toying with trying another pair of pants. Or perhaps some napping. It seems like that kind of Saturday :)

Happy weekend sewing, Beth

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sewing year in review 2015

Hi all and Happy New Year! I am not one for introspection when it comes to what I sew, nor am I a planner in any way. It constantly fascinates me to see all the list making this time of year as to what will be sewn. That is so not how I operate. Whatever whim or new pattern comes my way is mostly what I sew, with a few basics or a general thought about some theme - such as needing to tackle pants, or wanting a certain color jacket to round out my wardrobe.  I can say that the past few years I have not bought a lot of fabric at retail, whether in shops or online. Perhaps 50% of my fabric sewn is from things I bought as estate sales, sewing guild fabric sales or given to me. It is just so satisfying to rummage through the pieces of fabric and then take the challenge of whatever yardage length and then make it up into something I am thrilled to wear. The low investment generally increases the sewing satisfaction for my frugal side.

In fact some of my best things have been sewn with fabric from this very category. Which brings me to my exciting end-of-year news.

I won the Color Blocked Contest at Pattern Review. I'm so thrilled and Thank You to everyone who read my review and voted for my Tri-Color Coat. Here is the link to the post for this coat.

Contest win graphic

The prize is a $ 100 gift certificate to Mood Fabrics so now I have to choose something special. The first things that come to mind are the ever elusive pretty border print to make a special dress, or a substantial knit to make the perfect all-purpose travel blazer jacket that would look sharp and stand up to being scrunched in a travel bag. We shall see.

How about a little analysis to close out 2015?  As per the the last couple of years I have used Excel for good not evil (I first made the sewing pie charts for my 2013 sewing look back and I see them all over now - could I have started a trend or just absorb the idea from somewhere else?)

Starting with items sewn in 2015, a total of 30 items sewn for me or a friend/family member.

Garments sewn analysis 2015
I think this is fewer than previous years, and that is probably a good thing. I spend a LOT of time sewing the previous year and this year realized there were a few things neglected (garden - partially due to drought, and gym time - partially due to laziness) as well as other things I just wanted to do with my time. Plus closet space is becoming non-existent. I have a lot of stuff - most of it dear to me and not ready to be parted with. So sewing new things becomes a bit silly.

Also I surprised to see how many dresses I sewed - when I have so many already. I blame new pattern releases for the dresses - they look so pretty and fun to sew that I find at least one a season completely irresistible.

As for pattern brands, not a lot of news there. Well actually - Burda is tied with Vogue patterns if you count PDF magazine and envelope patterns. As a brand, Burda has really grown on me this past year and I think their coats are the best for all size ranges. I am still a fan of envelope patterns generally, and if a pattern has various items in the envelope, or variations on the item then I think even more highly of it. Such as a pattern with a jacket/skirt combo, or several variations on a top. I rarely buy a pattern that is just for one item. I think that is one reason why I rarely sew indie patterns as they are often just one item. This year I might try a few more.

Pattern Brands 2015

Another statistic that didn't merit a pie chart is Pattern Repeat:  fully 50% of my items sewn were from patterns I have used previously. Which I think is a lot - and probably will hold steady next year.
I just cut out a blouse this weekend from my trusty Simplicity shirt pattern (S2339 Amazing fit shirt pattern) which I have adjusted to have a hidden buttonhole placket (possible how-to if anyone is interested).  Hidden buttonhole plackets are a secret weapon on a silk blouse where you are a bit afraid of the quality of machine stitched buttonholes - especially on silk - and who is not?

Let's get down to the top 5 favorites of 2015. In no particular order. And I will add a number 6 favorite right here which is the Tri-Color coat, shown above. Which you might be sick of looking at now but I am not - pattern/fabric/color love and it is my absolute favorite thing I made all year!

I have linked to each original post so there are more photos and some construction details on each item there.

Plum wool shawl collar coat from Burda. I made this at the end of last winter and with our crazy climate wore it not at all. However once winter set in here I have worn it a LOT and it so warm and cozy. Because it is freezing here! At least to me. 42℉ in the morning as I was out shopping. Brrrr! for us Californians.  In fact yesterday I was doing some early morning post-holiday shopping/exchanging and in two different shops the saleswomen said " love your jacket, so pretty" or some variation on that. You know how gratifying for strangers to compliment our sewing. Or at least they don't know it is home sewn :) And I cannot resist saying "thank you, I made it" After all why not?

Burda Plum jacket front

Burda 6840 envelope pattern plaid blouse. This was a pattern purchase whim and it turned out to be fantastic. With a hidden buttonhole placket :)  and options for a bow neckline blouse which I might try one of these days. Fabric bought at a garage sale, super soft and vintage cotton plaid which is a dream to wear and saw regular rotation last winter.

shirt front

Vogue 8904 the Shingle dress, a pattern repeat, this time in ponte knit. This pattern was a favorite the first time I made it but I knew it would be better in a slightly beefier knit. I saw this fabric at Stone Mountain and knew it was exactly how I had envisioned this originally. It is so nice to find the exact fabric that you have in mind and make up something that is just perfect. I wore this a ton in the summer/fall and it will be worn again a lot come next spring.

Stripe dress edited

Next is another dress, made for wear on vacation, McCall's 6544 in blue cotton batik. You can't see in this photo but this is a vintage pattern from the 70's which has a lot of really cute details. And underscored my belief that a lot of modern patterns have simplified the construction so much that nice finishing details are lost, and the style suffers due to that.  Anyway - I love the color of this fabric and will be wearing this again when the weather heats up.

blue batik on me2

Another project where the fabric and style made a happy combination. The Alameda dress from Pauline Alice patterns.  I love this outfit and wore it as shown, with top and skirt, and then wore the skirt separately with a white top. Very fun skirt to wear with the flounce, and pockets! I think this skirt will be a pattern repeat for the upcoming year, it is calling to me for a denim version.  Pauline Alice makes really nice patterns, definitely my favorite of the independent pattern companies. This outfit uses another fabric I bought at Stone Mountain, not for a specific project but just because it was unusual and I liked the print.

Alameda 2-piece

Honorable Mention:  The Quart Coat, also from Pauline Alice Patterns that I made for my friend Jaime. More details and views on the post for this one. Another project where the choice of fabric I think made the garment really special. And caused many many minutes of checking and double checking when cutting and sewing. I do not recommend plaid for this coat unless you are really a wizard with plaid matching or enjoy tearing your hair out, ha ha. But in the end it worked out and I am so happy with it.

front collar open copy

So that is 2015, all done. Up next, I am sewing a silk blouse and probably no more coats for quite a while :)  Perhaps more pants in my future.

Plus I am ordering some new rose bushes so I really should turn my attention outside. But it is so chilly out there and so warm in my sewing room!

Thank you to everyone who reads and/or comments. I have said it the past few years but it always bears repeating, that meeting and getting to know other people who have a passion for sewing has been the very best part of writing a blog. It is so wonderful to have friends all around the world that share this interest and I know that while for the most part it is virtual but if we were to meet in person the feeling would be the same.

Happy New Year to you and happy sewing in 2016,

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

It's been a Burda year: Dress pattern Burda 6853 in wool and ponte

It seems only fitting that my last post and garment of 2015 was made using a Burda pattern. I'm planning to do a year end wrap up but for now I will predict that one theme will be my discovery of Burda patterns. I will always find something to sew among Vogue patterns but now I add Burda to my list of possibilities. However  - either Burda envelope patterns or PDF downloads. I just can't deal with tracing from the magazine.
Onward to this dress, Burda 6853 envelope pattern. A Burda young pattern :) I don't know what it says about me but I find a lot of the ones I like are in the young category. Anyway - I saw a review of this pattern on Pattern Review and it looked like a great winter dress, plus I could envision using up an odd piece of fabric that was too small to make anything substantial but too much to be a scrap that I would toss out.

Red grey dress on me1

A quick picture right before Christmas Dinner. I think I can hear someone telling me to come back in the house as dinner was almost ready!

Burda 6853 envelope

I thought looking at the pattern thinking that it was separate pieces in version C, but actually it is the same as the top of version A and what is shown as lace in the pattern photo is an overlay. And it is only in the front. I thought about revising the pattern to make separate upper bodice pieces for front and back, but discarded that idea as too much work. So I just made the pattern as designed, and put the red part as an overlay in the front only. For the grey part I had a remnant of fabric from this dress I made last year for Heather. It's a really nice wool boucle so it made for a warm winter dress which is just what I was looking for.

red grey dress front on form

The cranberry red ponte is leftover from this dress. I left out the zipper as the wool knit is quite stretchy and the neck opening was large enough to get my head through. I did lower the neckline a bit in the front, it was really high, like a crew neck t-shirt which is not comfortable in a dress.

red grey dress back on form

A few fit notes.  It has princess seams so I took it in and shaped the side seams a bit. I used the Burda size 38 with some increase at the hips. You can see the difference from the pattern, my skirt portion starts higher than their version. I cut out the upper portions of the dress and sewed them together, then played around with a piece of the red fabric while wearing the upper portion to decide where to attach the skirt. I'm glad I did because the bottom band hit me at an odd spot and made me look short. (shorter).

red grey neckline

I didn't line the dress but made a facing that mimics the front yoke, using a knit lining fabric.
Note that this pattern is not designed for knits, although it worked perfectly. But it does have an elbow dart in the sleeve - which is kind of noticeable on the dress form and not something you see in a knit sleeve. It bugs me a little bit that the upper back is all grey. But it doesn't bug me too much as I have worn this dress quite a few times in the last two weeks!

redgrey side view

Christmas flew by and now the new year is almost here. I hope everyone had a great holiday and I wish you a Happy New Year. I have already started on my newest project and am thinking about taking a sewing moratorium in January - if I can exercise some self control. Just to get a bunch of other project done around here. We shall see.
Or not. and then start on all the other ideas rolling around in my head.

Either way - Happy Sewing to all and here's to a great 2016 in every corner of your life!


Red grey dress on me2

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Burda Wave skirt 12/2012 # 109 in wool coating

After looking at the Tri-Color coat for ages, and finally acquiring the perfect fabric to make it I realized I would still have tons of fabric leftover. I hadn't clicked around to see the rest of the items in the original Burda collection: "Wake up Wool" where the coat first appeared but did so and found another winner. I really like the way they do their patterns in little collections of 5 to 10 patterns. Which I suppose is because their pattern magazine is in the style of a fashion magazine with editorial spreads. Some collections are mostly bonkers, sometimes they have a couple of absolute gems and sometimes they really succeed with most every pattern in the collection looking great and potentially a garment I would want to sew and wear. (and their plus collections are often even better, I give you this example of a recent one: Hotel Bar. Totally glam and gorgeous with one oddball).

That was a long way round to say that I found another pattern in that collection to accompany my tricolor coat.  Also a big thank you to everyone for all your wonderful comments on my finished coat. I was sure  the color combo would not appeal to many people other than me, so I appreciate all your nice words so much. I have been wearing it a lot! And not shipping it off to anyone. A few readers here and on Pattern Review who requested I do so :)    By the way - I did enter into the Color-Blocked contest on Pattern Review, the voting is now open until 12/24.

wave coat and skirt

This is the Wave skirt, Burda 12/2012 # 109. Which is going straight into my small collection of TNT patterns as it is a breeze to sew and fit beautifully. A tiny bit of extra study of the pattern pieces to make sure I got the wavy section right, but otherwise a very nice pattern that I could see adjusting for other things or even as the bottom half of a dress.

Wave skirt tech drawing What I really liked about this pattern are the darts which give a great fit front and back. Also this pattern calls for fulled loden fabric which I suppose is felted wool? In any case my coating fabric seemed just right. And Bonus! it calls for no hem, which also is something you can do with this type of felted fabric. Of course that means I needed to get the length just right before cutting out. I did that by comparing to one of my other skirts and figured out the total length, which turned out to be similar to the pattern so no change. For size I cut out the size for my hip measure and took in the waist to fit.
In the tech drawing it showed a zipper in the center back but I thought the zip was on the side, and that is how I sewed it. Which actually seems better, so no seam bisecting the contrast wave at the bottom back.

wave skirt 

No waistband, I used my method of "waistband-less" skirt making, as I did with this skirt. 

skirt side view

Side view. The only slightly tricky bit was making sure that the intersection on the side seams matched up perfectly for the color blocking.

Inside view. I am often asked how I finish lined garments or what treatment I use on the seams. For the most part the answer is none!  I don't think a lined wool garment needs any seam finish. For winter weight fabrics serging just adds bulk and to me is mostly a waste of time, (exception made for all items sewn from denim :)  It is nice to use on prone-to-.ravel fabrics but otherwise I think not necessary. On a lined garment the lining should look good, but peeling back the onion to see the insides - who cares what it looks like there.

Wave skirts Wave skirts

I am not likely to wear any top or sweater tucked in like this but figured I would show how the skirt looks on me and the proportion of the two color sections.

wave skirt1

In my previous post with the completed Tri-color coat I said I would post some more construction details so here goes, a bunch of construction pics with some notes. If you like seeing how things are made then this section is for you.

First up: I am an interfacing maniac. Coats need a lot. Or I can rephrase that - coats and jackets should have a lot of interfacing. More than you think. These fabrics were hefty enough that the interfacing was not as necessary as in a lighter wool, but interfacing the various sections allows for invisibly catch stitching down the seam allowances, plus I think the shoulders on a jacket should kind of float, or at least have some substance as opposed to sink and rest in the hollows of the upper body. Does that make sense?

tricolor inside on form

For the intersections of the yoke and the two color sections of the body, having white interfacing on the dark fabrics seemed like a necessity in order to accurately sew those junctions. The coat front on the left is sewn but not pressed, and you can see it is looking good already.

tricolor front seams


tricolor coat shoulder section

The pink arrow shows where the stitching ended, and then I started up on the other side. I could not see any way to sew this continuously across the yoke and have the seam allowances not all bunched up in the seam. Because you know I am a mad about  seam trimming and grading.

tricolor coat notch seam
Curves need clipping. I clip before grading, just seems easier. Also note all my wax chalk marks designating wrong side of fabric. Once interfacing is applied then it is obvious but oh so easy to apply interfacing to the right side of a piece and then shrieking ensues.
Collar:  I put some extra interfacing just in the collar portion as I wanted it to stand up properly. That extra bit is a Shirt-crisp interfacing which I actually find too crisp for shirts (I suppose it is just right for collars on men's dress shirts) anyway I ordered it ages ago and never used it. But it pays to have a selection of interfacings. Only applied in the body of the collar, I trimmed away the seam allowance portions.

Tricolor coat collar interfacing

Here is the collar plus collar/front facing sewn onto the coat. I think I took this photo to show the color block seam matching which seemed critical to me at the time. After bothering to create the color blocked facing I guess it was important to sew it accurately :).

tricolor coat collar1

A few notes on pressing.

tricolor coat sleeve board seam

In front is the clapper but the real star in this image is my sleeve board which has convertible sections and the most used one is this long pointy piece. It is ideal for pressing long seams and front facings.

Once the long center fronts are pressed open, trimmed and graded, then pressed over the hand stitching begins. I think you either love hand sewing or consider it a major pain. I love doing it. I generally hand sew all linings into coats instead of bagging the lining. I like the control of hand sewing, usually I create my own lining pieces on the fly, and I hand stitch all the coat or jacket facings down to the coat body so actually bagging the lining is not even possible.

tricolor coat tacking facing2

This is the long center front of the coat. These thick fabrics wanted to pop open a bit no matter how much pressing is done, so I first took a long running stitch with silk thread along the inside (see pink arrows) to keep the front facing flat.

tricolor coat tacking front facing

Then I tacked down the entire facing with loose stitches to the coat body. Now it will not shift or move and the coat front will stay flat, no chance the facing/lining will roll outward.

tricolor coat lining view

Lastly, the lining sewn up and ready to be hand stitched into the coat. I straightened out the curved yoke on the lining pieces, easier to sew. Also added the center back pleat, and continued the lining up to the collar as I usually do (seen here on this coat post)

So final result - coat, lining, skirt. A color-blocking extravaganza. In case you are wondering why I did the skirt colors reverse of the coat - I just thought I would get more wear from the skirt being the dark navy. So various tops would go with. If it were the green it is a bit limiting.

tricolor coat lining

Whew this is a long post! and so many pictures. But I figured I took 'em so why not show 'em. Thank you for reading and commenting all year long - I really appreciate it and find so many wonderful new to me blogs to read via your comments.

If you happen to look at my Instagram you will know that I have continued my color blocking obsession to one more item which I also have been wearing a lot. A winter dress in wool knit - comfy and warm. After that I'm turning to sewing easy-peasy knit tops and that is about all for 2015. However  I have lots more things to blog about and perhaps even a year-end review. Which I find strangely enjoyable despite serving no purpose other than to point out to myself all the patterns I have bought and not sewed up.

Happy Holidays to everyone, and I hope Santa brings you lots of sewing goodies!

Merry Christmas, Beth

Coat in front of tree
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