Archive | February, 2012

1940s Puffy Sleeve Dress: Burda Magazine 5-2009-122

27 Feb Page_1-3

Well, hello sailor! I am digging the World War II era vibe from this Burda 5-2009 #122  dress.

It feels like I’ve just been cranking out projects lately. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I started this dress a little over three months ago back in November 2011. I thought it would be fun to wear to the DC Tweed Ride but only managed to finish my cape. Then, I started  thinking I would wear it to church when I was visiting my parents in Florida at Thanksgiving.  I never got around to finishing the dress on the trip because I left one of the sleeves back home. Once I got back to Baltimore I wasn’t insterested in sewing a non-winter dress.

But, last week, I decided it was time to clear the sewing deck and tackle one of my three UFOs. It’s really just taking up mental and physical space. You’ll understand that I don’t remember too many details at this point.

Alterations? Just my now standard FBA and a swayback adjustment. I also raised the center front waistline by about two inches (perhaps over modulation on my FBA?). I’ll be honest. I don’t think this is a great dress if you are busty. It’s a very full top with all the tucks and the waist isn’t super defined. You may look a bit ’round’. I don’t think this is my most flattering silhouette. Not bad. Just not my best. But, I still like it. I think it’s best suited to a tall and lean Audrey Hepburn vs busty / curvy Marilyn Monroe :)

The dress has 52 pleats. Fifty. Two. Pleats. That includes pleats in the sleeve, sleeve lining, upper bodice / shoulder, bodice waist and skirt. I really really have to recommend that you baste the pleats. I do usually just pin in place, but for this many, I think you’ll be happier with the results if you hand baste.

The material is a wool challis from the Carol Collection. All deep purples and blues with paisley. Again, another fabric I would not have chosen for myself. But, is lovely for fall. The pattern does not call for lining, but I added a lavender silk for lining (also from the Carol Collection) and it’s absolutely luxe! Seriously. I would sleep in this dress just because the lining feels so very good.

The one thing I do not love is the neckline. Even with interfacing for reinforcing, one side is a little warped. Not enough for me to take it apart and fix. But, enough for me to notice. I wish I had used a facing / lining combination. The silk ins’t really stable enough to hold up the neckline well.

Overall, I’m pleased with the dress. It’s not my usual somewhat sleeker style. I love puffy sleeves and a full skirt. But, I do feel a bit twee and Talbots at the same time. Maybe because it’s retro I feel like I’m playing dress up a bit? I felt the same Talbots and twee feeling from this 2007 Burda dress from five years ago (mmm, would like to make that one up again now that I know to make an FBA). That being said, I plan to make this dress up again in a black washed silk that Carolyn gifted me about two years ago. Not the most ‘original’ idea — it was how they made it up in the magazine.

While the tucks and pleats are daunting, it’s well worth it for a fun design.

My pattern review is here.

RTW Quick Fixes and Kwik Sew Bra Pattern Winner!!

22 Feb

“Do you think you could fix this for me? Because I didn’t pay a lot for it so I don’ t want to take it to the tailor. I’d pay more for the fix than I paid for the dress. I thought maybe you could shorten / hem/ sew / take in / alter it for me.”

Sound familiar? This has happened to me twice in the last six months. And let me tell you. It makes me SEETHE every single time it’s said to me. Here’s the thing, you want me to take my time to fix your Forever 21 / H&M garment for free? I tell you what….

Don’t get me wrong, I will occasionally help someone in a pinch. I’ll even teach you how to hem your jeans. If you already know how to thread a machine and just want some help, I’m happy to oblige. Teach a fish and all that.  But, telling me that my time and skills are less valuable than someone you would pay? All you get is the stink eye.

I bring this up because I bought a tuxedo dress from H&M a week ago. I originally saw it there a few months ago, but at $50 it was more than I wanted to spend for a dress that had some fit problems for me. But, I was able to get it for just $20 on clearance.

I needed the US 12 / EUR 42 to fit my lower half. But, it’s way big in the top. Not that I’m not busty. I just have a much smaller torso than my bottom.

You can see my bra from the back and the side.

And, I was getting awesome sideboob.

I realized it just needed a simple taking in at the center back neck — about four inches total. Not worth my $50. But, definitely doable for $20.

Twenty minutes of work later, I was able to wear it to a black-tie work event on Saturday night. Those four inches brought the dress up, took care of the cleavage and the bra showing too. I think it could also use small darts in the side seam (under the arm) but I am wearing a terrible strapless bra (one band size too big and three cups to small, and *painful*). I need to get one that fits before I make anymore changes to this dress.

Clearly the staff photographer at work. I cannot *wait* to get my DSLR back from the shop!!

So, for me, it’s totally worth a few tweaks to make a low cost ‘disposable’ RTW garment work. But, it’s not worth it for me to do it for someone else. Period.


Woot Woot. Thank you all for entering my little giveaway. Using the Random Number Generator:

#2 was the winner which is Jo K.!

It would be great to have these patterns! I am a flight attendant and my goal is to avoid the dreaded security pat-down in Eastern European airports because of my underwire. (!)

Boring, But Necessary Sewing: Kitchen, Living and Dining Room Curtains

20 Feb

When I first bought my house a long long eight years ago (where does the time go??), my mom forced me to get my home dec sewing done. You see, I was staying with them while between apartment and home. And, I was buying fabric for all my sewn house projects. She would literally nag me to sew until she was tap dancing on my last nerve. So, I would sew slip covers, curtains and pillows just to get her to STOP NAGGING ME. It was great. I moved in an everything was already sewn!

Enter my kitchen curtains. They faded years ago (you can see especially in the middle). I get a lot of sun through the back window and door, but didn’t want to completely block the light, so I have cafe curtains. I want the windows covered enough so no one can peep in.

I’ve had this primary color plaid Marimekko fabric in my stash for at least three years and just couldn’t get myself to make them. I finally did this weekend after realizing I’m hosting a dinner party this Sunday and my curtains look like @$$.

There. Done. Seriously. These barely took an hour to make. I am mad I wasn’t paying enough attention to detail. These should be mirror images with the colored lines matching. But, I didn’t even think about it until I was finished. And, there is no way I’m sewing another panel.

The second curtain project was for my living room.

Plain and simple drapes. These two took a little over an hour. They are unlined, I’ll never close them. I just wanted something so the windows didn’t look naked.

The third curtain project is in my dining room. The same print from the living room (so they look ‘connected’). Simple little things held in by tension rods.

Obviously, I will be sewing a matching air conditioner cover next winter.

This was my exciting holiday weekend. Ohh. Did I mention I also got my carpets cleaned. Yessir. I was living it up.

The best thing about getting these done is that it’s two bolts of fabric out of the stash. Now, if I could just get around to my bedroom and bathroom curtains, that would be the last bolts of home dec!

Lemonade Out of Lemons: Burda Magazine 8-2011-116 (as a top)

18 Feb IMGP2110

As mentioned, I turned my cowl neck knit dress fail into a successful top. I’ve already worn this twice in the two weeks since it’s been made.

I find it needed belting to drape nicely — which is totally fine. It’s a great top. The belt gives it some more structure. This was my happy hour look last night t. I got several male compliments on it, some of whom I didn’t even know. I think men respond to graphic prints. Maybe that and the primary colors, LOL.

Not the dress for me. But, a great top. I can see myself making several of these from leftover knits.

Am not sure why I didn’t move that box at my feet and grocery bag in the kitchen out of the photo as I did with the 20 other things that were on my floor. Oh well. That’s just how I roll :)

The Rip Heard Round the World

15 Feb

Thank you for the lovely comments on my red Parisienne dress. I am very pleased with it and I’m happy I’ve introduced red back in to my wardrobe.  

Thank you to Jo for the best explanation ever on the difference between Parisienne and Parisian.

“Parisienne” means that the noun or person being referred to is feminine. “Parisian” is for the masculine people and nouns. I was a married to a Frenchman for 15 years, so I did pick up some knowledge, other than how to spot a philanderer!

When I got home last night I finally got a look at the lining rip I heard while reaching for chocolate at the office. I should also note that both versions of this dress require a hand in getting in and out of. I usually get to work and ask someone to zip me up. I forgot to ask for a little tug down before I left the job. Doh! Serious acrobatics when I got home trying to get myself out!

Mrs. Mole said:

…adding some reaching ease of 1/2 inch or more might help on the next one.

Here’s the lining. As you can see, it’s torn about 1.5 inches along the underarm seam line than shredded another 1.5 inches. This wasn’t a problem in my previous dress, but the previous dress was also sewn larger.

I’ve slapped a thimbleful of Fray Check on the tear and will probably patch it at some point. I doubt I will actually replace the lining, etc. A patch will do just fine.

Valentine’s Parisienne Dress: BWOF 8-2009-128

14 Feb file-25

** updated with DSLR photos

I wish you could see it in person. It’s far more striking than the photos show. My DSLR is still in the shop and my point-and-shoot is what I’m using. It’s fine. But, it renders colors wonky indoors with flash and makes my hair look like a mass of black instead of defined curls. Red is also just makes the camera crazy. Blah, blah, camera talk, blah, blah. And, I’m too lazy to re-take photos. So, forgive my weird skin tone, odd facial shadows and kooky colors.

It’s fitting that it’s titled Parisienne Dress (Burda 8-2009-128) . Otherwise, I’d name it the Arielle dress. As I mentioned in my first post, Patti F. sent me this material when I played shipping agent for the Arielle / Hati / Sewing Supply collection. Arielle has about the cutest accent. Both French and Caribbean at the same time. It’s kind of lyrical really. At any rate, it took me some time to get to this, but I’m really glad I did.


What’s the difference between Parisienne and Parisian? Anyone know? I took Spanish, not French…

This is my second go-round with this dress. The first time was last January. I think this will become a yearly winter dress. It’s so hard to find a dress with sleeves! Like the teal version this one is also made from wool.

 What did I do differently this time? Not too much. I shortened the dress by one inch and pegged the skirt. Two things I said I wish I had done the last time.

I also sewed a size smaller. I thought it was a little boxy the first time I made it (I’ve since taken the first version in). This time I shortened the bust dart and lowered the dart by 1/2 inch. I’ve been making FBAs for one year now and am starting to get the hang of it. The belt I’m wearing is from ASOS about two years ago.

This dress still has my favorite facing / lining technique. I love the facing at the top with the lining below. Except, I am MAD. When I got to work, the lining shredded right at the armscye. SHREDDED as I reached for some chocolates. That’s what I get. I don’t even really like chocolate.

And, I bagged the lining sleeve again.

Machine blind hem finish on the bottom.

I’m wearing this dress to work today and I LOVE a woven dress for work.  Red seemed appropriate for Valentine’s Day. I’m also entering it in the Red Dress contest on PatternReview.com.

This concludes my string of red garments. I’ve finally moved on to a new serger thread color!

Don’t forget to enter my Kwik Sew bra pattern giveway.

And, Happy Valentine’s Day!

New Page/ T’ings in the Mail / Kwik Sew Bra Pattern Giveaway

11 Feb

I wanted to post some new sewing bits that have come in this week. First, heaven bless Kathi R. from PatternReview.com. She remembered talking to me way back at PR Weekend Los Angeles almost four years ago about my interest in learning to sew bras. Well, she got a great deal at FIDM on laces and offered to send me some. Excellent! I really want to get better and more efficient and making underwear and this will seriously help.

To go along with that, I ordered 1/8 inch elastic from Etsy. It’s sold for ‘baby headbands’. But, I wanted it for snugging up the upper bra cups I sew and for the front lace edges of underwear. I bought some specific colors (black, brown, white) and a variety pack.

Also of that sewing genre, I have more kits from Summerset! I took photos of my laces from the Netherlands, and she dyed kits to match. My goal is to have about ten good bras in the drawer. I’m at two of my own that I’ve sewn and three RTW bras that are a little over a year old.

I’ve aslo added a low tech page at the top of the blog of lingerie sewing resources. Places to shop. I say low tech because there are just links.

Finally, now that I’ve found my bra holy grail in the Rebecca Sewy, I’m giving away these three Kwik Sew Patterns. I’ve only sewn one, back when I was all wrong about my size.

If you want them, please leave a comment here to be entered. I’ll do a drawing a week from today. If you would like to be entered an additional time, you can link back to the this post via your blog or twitter or sign up for email updates on my blog (over on the right under subscribe). Each mention gives you an additional entry, but you’ll need to post in the comments each additional links. If a winner is selected and does not respond to my email within 24 hours, Trena gets the whole lot — whether she wants them or not.

Red Dress Contest Progress and Valentine’s Dinner Dress Update

10 Feb

I decided to make something for PatternReview.com’s Red Dress Contest. I had red on the serger and a red dress planned when I read about the contest. It all seemed to come together at the right time. I chose the Parisienne Dress from Burda 8-2009-128. I made it last year is a wonderful teal wool.

Two years ago, after the earthquake in Haiti, Patti F. in Chigaco gifted me two gorgeous fabrics. This red wool and a pinky-purple plaid. As soon as I had this red wool I knew it was destined to be the Parisienne Dress.

Here’s where I am. Dress is cut and mostly constructed. I need to finish the zipper. I’m happy to say the lining is also cut and sewn and I just need to install it. There’s about two more hours of work needed and I’ll be done. I’d love to wear it to work on Tuesday, but I’m not holding my breath.

And how is my Valentine’s dinner dress going? Well, it’s not. I won’t regal you with all the ways in which I dicked and dithered around with sewing a dress. But, I just could not make a decision on what I wanted to make and out of what fabric. There was too much silk jersey that has become ‘too nice to cut’. And this animal print. I actually really like it. And, I generally despise animal prints for myself. So, it became ‘special and different’. At the same time, I didn’t want to look like a tart. Then, I decided no pattern I owned was the *right* pattern for the animal print. So, I bought like ten from the Vogue Pattern sale.

I am not just not a last minute sewist. I can sew fast. But, I can’t make these decisions in the cooker. So, I’ll wear something from some recent shopping and call it a day. I’m totally ok with that too.

Besides, because it’s Valentine’s Weekend the latest dinner reservations we could get for Saturday (despite calling three weeks ago) was a geriatric 5:30 p.m. I don’t know that the retirees we’ll be eating with at 5:30 would have been able to handle me in all my leopardness, LOL. I’ve been calling it my Geriatric Valentine’s Dinner for days now. Turns out someone else I know made dinner reservations for Tuesday  at the same place and the latest they would get was 4:30 p.m. So, it’s not just me!

This is NOT my dress: Burda 8-2011-116

7 Feb

Welcome to my Valentine’s dinner dress FAIL.

I wanted to make something really easy, fast and inherently sexy for this weekend out. I had several patterns in mind, but they are all knit with straight skirts. The two times I tried a knit dress with a straight skift, I HATED how I looked.

 I was very inspired by this Suzi Chin dress

I thought this 8-2011-116 Burda was similar enough. And, was only two pattern pieces. What’s not to love?  I was willing to see how a straight knit skirt looked on me in some less-than-loved knit I had in the stash.

Yeah. I still hate my thighs and this is NOT my dress. I’m just too curvy and bottom heavy to get away with a straight knit skirt. There’s nothing wrong with the pattern. Just not my style.

The dress looked terrible without the belt. It needed the belt for waist definition. But, then it had to kind of blouson over the belt. Which made me look wider on top. And, it pulled the skirt up shorter than I wanted it to be. This was a good reminder for me on what does and doesn’t work for my body type.

And, to add insult to injury. I actually like the print again. Boo! The good news is, it made an awesome top, LOL. I cut it down and wore it out on Saturday night as a top. No photos though.

So, I’m back to square one… what to make. I’d really like to use this knit below. Yes, I know.. .an animal print. I saw this one at G Street this summer and I didn’t hate it.

I ‘m not going out to buy a pattern. And, I need to start sewing tonight. I have a couple of ideas. So, stay tuned.

My Mom Rocks / Jason Wu for Target

5 Feb

Sunday morning the Jason Wu collection for Target launched. My friend Liz and I learned from the Missoni nonsense that the early bird gets the worm. For Missoni, someone spent $3,000 in one fell swoop and all that was left was a pair of slippers.

Liz bundled up. It was *cold*

We left the city at 7:00 a.m. with light snow falling and headed to the suburbs where there were two Targets within 15 minutes of each other. I kid you not, within 12 minutes we were in and out of the store at the 8:00 a.m. open (with 20 people in line) with purchases in hand. We do not play.


People seriously clean out stores out. While I’m happy to report I snagged these:

The dress I REALLY wanted didn’t even make it to the stores we hit.

I called my mom in Florida from the Target parking lot at 8:12 a.m. I figured she’s got several Targets around her and a slew of retirees. Odds were good the dress and second purse I wanted would be around. And, I kid you not, she was out the door and hoofing it to her Target. She called me from the store holding on to what she could find and verifying it was what I wanted.

But, that stupid dress wasn’t at her Target either. Grrrr. Of course, it’s now on eBay for double what it cost.

Did I mention that my mom rocks? For real. Who else is going to leave their house at 8:15 a.m. and go to Target for a limited edition capsule collection? My mom. Because she rocks.