Archive | May, 2012

Note to Self: Don’t Sew Patterns Not Actually Modeled

31 May

Dear Burda,

Can you PLEASE show clothes on a real person? Because maybe then I wouldn’t sew a dress before realizing the straps don’t actually sit straight on my shoulders! That they actually sit kind off on the side / edge of the shoulders. The edge of my already very narrow, bra straps slide off, I don’t wear spaghetti straps because of said narrow shoulders.


Sigh. Allow me to start at the beginning.

Remember when I said I wasn’t going to be scrambling to sew ‘one off’ clothing items this year? Yeah. About that….

Here’s how I spent my Memorial Day Weekend (obviously not cleaning my floor. dang.): Starting construction on a formal out of silver silk tafetta. It’s being made from stash purchased at PR Weekend in Philly when I thought I needed a dress for a wedding. During this summer’s Navy Week, there will be a Captain’s Ball. I planned to wear a RTW dress from January. But, I learned  last week that this military ball dress code was ‘black tie’ and specifically dresses to-the-floor.

Against my better judgement, I decided not to muslin. I made a slight FBA and swayback adjustment. Yet, the fit is all kinds of wonky. Essentially, on me (and it could be operator error) the straps rest on the edge of my (narrow) shoulders. There is over 1.5 inches hanging off the side of my shoulder (with a .5 inch seam allowance). It’s not a traditional ‘straight’ sleeveless. It is of course IMPOSSIBLE to tell if it’s me or the pattern since the editorial just shows the dress being held up to the actress. It’s also so wide at the centerfront (because the straps go way off instead of up and down) that you can see the top cup of every single bra I own. And, that’s even with me raising the neckline by one inch before starting!
I ended up taking up the shoulders by one inch so they would actually stay up (they were just flopping to the side). Oh kind of like they are in the photo. And, I took in the upper back by 1/2 inch. It’s *ok* now. Not great. But, I almost am over it!

Why no muslin? I didn’t have time with just two weeks before the ball. The dress is cut out single layer (because of the attached godet) and required 60 inch wide fabric. I don’t have 60 inch wide muslin and there is no fabric I wanted to sacrifice.  Plus, I know how Burda fits me. Allegedly.

My mom wanted to know why I couldn’t wear one of my other two floor length gowns. Well, this dress was four years and 12 pounds ago. Also, before I knew how to make a FBA. Quite frankly, it was before I knew I *needed* one.

I wore it three times. The last time I wore it two years ago, it was so tight with the boning at the ribcage that I had trouble sitting down. And I thought I’d have a wardrobe malfunction at center front.  For real. My cup was running over. So, its been taken out of circulation and it’s waiting for someone who it will appreciate the work I put in to it!

And, Butterick 6410 isn’t my most flattering. Gah. I hate polyester. Totally my fault. I may have only worn it the one time. Plus, Liz wants to wear it (and I never took it back from her) and it looks better on her :-/.

So, now I’m waiting. Waiting for my lining to arrive! I placed a rush order with Fashion Fabrics club on Tuesday for some grey silk lining. The price was right. They called today to upgrade me to express shipping. I WISH it was coming tomorrow! But, I’ll just have to keep sewing after work next week to have it ready for the 14th.

Pattern Review: HP 1016 Riviera Hello, Sailor! Pants

23 May IMGP3419

Guys. I think I’ve found my holy grail pants. For *real*. I’ve wanted a pair of sailor pants forever. Seriously. At least 10 years. When I made my big Hot Patterns purchase two years ago, this pattern was the first I put in my cart. I even muslined it a few years ago, liked the fit, but just never got around to sewing it.

I love these pants.  They are everything I wanted in sailor pants. Plus, they are a really really good cut for me. I only have glowing remarks about the draft and pattern itself. I did make two muslins, but that was to check fit.  I’ve taken lots of photos because I would have found some more helpful in construction / picturing final product.

Fabric: Super heavy, cotton / linen blend from A Fabric Place /Michaels about three years ago. They kind of wrinkle when you look at them. I used the khaki version for the Burda trench/ safari jacket and skirt. I am nervous that there was NO stretch in the material. These pants are snug on me and I’m worried that I’m one potato  chip away from splitting them. Hence, my desire for some stretch. They did not feel this snug in my two muslins! I swear!

Pattern Alterations: I made a swayback adjustment by extending the back curve and adding about a one inch wedge through the hip. I cut a size 12 and these fit nicely.

There is some fabric folding at my crotch, but consensus at the office is if the waist was snugger and stayed up higher, those go away. That being said, I think they are slim fit.

There’s loads of chatter about HP directions. I sew with Burda! The directions overall were fine. Yes, a little sparse in comparison to Big 4 but inline with Jalie and Burda. And, I think that chatter is from the early days when tehre were directions and no diagrams. This pattern has diagrams without which I do not think I could have sewn these!  **& ETA: Trudy at Hot Patterns reminded me that they now post tutorials on YouTube.

For this pattern, the main thing to remember is that the front ‘dart’ is not a dart. Those two lines are in fact the stitchlines. Erica has a helpful diagram.

Because the fabric is all natural, I expect it grow like my linen pants did. So, I used twill tape in the upper waistband to prevent stretching. But, I would like it to stretch everywhere else! I’m reminding myself that jeans used to not have lycra and they stretched…

I wish I had used twill tape and re-shaped the flap a bit. The upper edge follows the curve of pants / waistband, but I would like like it more straight across the top and the upper edge stabilised with twill tape too. Especially because I used cream topstitching, I feel like the flap is smiling against my stomach.

I serged my finishes. These are unlined and would have looked gorgeous with bias binding for the finish. Next time, that’s what I’ll do.

The ‘lining’ is seersucker left over from a vest project.

I struggled with buttons. I was afraid if they were too bold, I’d limit myself from wearing ‘statement’ pants. If they were too subtle, what a waste all the details would have been. I also couldn’t decide on top stitching or not. I am terrible at making these kind of choices.

I did make the buttonholes 1/2 inch from the edge. I think I could have done 3/8 or so and been happier. My buttons are 1/2 inch as recommended by the pattern. I think they are a little small. Not terribly. That being said, I FREAKIN’ LOVE these black buttons with gold anchors. There is no button placement guide on the pattern. Which I kind of like because you may not always want the same button size recommended.

The design is based on a Marc Jacobs sailor pants.

Last thing, the vent in the back. So, I was going to leave this off b/c I wasn’t sure it was ‘classy’ enough for work.

But, it’s such an interesting detail (and straight from the inspiration) I couldn’t resist. I’m also happy to report that my underwear don’t show.

But, I HATE EYELETS. These inserted like crap and don’t look good from the back. There is so much fray check on these holes I think they are emitting toxic fumes.

Note the graveyard of badly applied eyelets.

I’m hoping to take them to NYC with me soon and have them done professionally. Or, take them out and use my eyelet template on my automatic buttonholer. The pattern directions don’t have a suggestion on where to place the eyelets.

Overall, I’m THRILLED. I’ll have these in time for Baltimore’s Navy Week / Star-Spangled Sailabration in June.  I have serious stunt / theme dressing planned for June :)

My pattern review is here

Notes on construction details (these are just some notes I made to myself while sewing that I was unclear about upon first approach. Nothing is ‘wrong’  – just more detail for me.

First, I my preferred method of pant construction is to sew the waist band on to each leg piece. Then assemble to pants at the side and front seams. Personally, I find it much easier to take in the waist (common for me) this way. I haven’t quite worked out how I would do that with these pants. Luckily, I muslined first and they fit fine at the waist. But, could be 1/2 inch to 1 inch snugger.

Step 2: My stand is not finished at the bottom as I missed the step on sewing the short ends.

Step 4: You want to use the non-intefaced pieces

Step 5: If you are serging, I recommend you finish all the front button. See my photo below for which edges are left exposed

Step 6: When joining the facings, you’ll do so right sides together

Step 8: ‘Join the fabric layer’ means right sides together and as noted above, that’s not a dart. One if your ‘stitchline’

Topstitching back: the line drawing for pattern has topstitching only going up to the waistline. I thought it looked ‘short’ and extended onto and through the waistband.

In Progress: Hot Patterns’ Riviera Hello, Sailor! Pants

21 May

My next project is getting come finishing touches. A long-wanted pair of sailor pants.

(Camera phone photo)

I just need to sew on these 8 million buttons and maybe switch out my topstitching from cream to gold (to match the anchors and eyelets in the back).

Triple Crown Second Stop: Preakness!

20 May

You know, I went to a high school where kids actually owned horses. And, I rode horses quite a bit growing up. Not like serious equestrian riding. But, more like, ‘there are horses on the military base so that’s a good actitivity’ kind of horse riding. Despite this, I’ve not really been to any horse races. This year though, I got to attend two events at Preakness. Preakness is the second race of the Triple Crown. First is the Kentucky Derby and the third is Belmont Stakes.

On Friday I was at Pimlico for Black Eyed Susan Day and the running of the Black Eyed Susan Stakes. Pimlico was decked out in pink for breast cancer awareness. Honestly, if you want the Preakness experience but about 90,000 fewer people, Friday is the day to go.

The Black Eyed Susan is the state flower and also a delicious cocktail. Apparently, there is a Belmont Breeze too. How did the Mint Julep get a lock on the racing drink category??

I copped out on both days and wore a fascinator instead of a hat. Friday was this Burda dress. You know what? I’m so ambivalent about this dress but people love it. I fear I look like I’m playing mid 50s dress up. Hmm, just went back and read my review from two years ago. Apparently, back then I thought it was more ‘church’ than ‘work’. It was kind of perfect for the day though. Vintage gentility and all that.

Oh, you see that red button? Yeah… so I biked to work on Friday for ‘Bike to Work Day’ (and got not one but TWO flat tires on the way) where I had this dress waiting for me to change into. Except a button was missing. So, I had a spare red button in my desk and just sewed it on. Let’s call it a design feature….

On Saturday  about 110,000 people came out for the Preakness. I wore this wrap dress I bought in Panama about four years ago. This is one of my favorite dresses. I like that it’s a woven wrap with a full bias skirt. I don’t like that I can’t wear it to work because of the cleavage. Note that I am actually even wearing a tank top too!  I really need to make this pattern up with a FBA. The dress below isn’t quite right for the day (a little dark and out of season), but it matched my fascinator and I’m not doing any more last minute desperation sewing / shopping.

At any rate, here are some photos of the fashions, hats and sights of the day.

The men looked awesome. Lots of seersucker and linen suits, hats, and far more cigars than needed.

There was a lot of black, yellow and white (colors in Baltimore and Maryland flags)

I bet on one local horse and it lost. So much for hometown loyalty!




It was a great two days overall and a really terrific experience.  If I get a chance to go next year, I’ll plan ahead for a great summer dress / hat combo. Or, just have a party at my house and watch the races from here :)

**I haven’t been Instagramed. Photobucket added a million great new editing options, including these vintage settings.

Hot Patterns 1015: Riviera Once, Twice, Three Times a T-Shirt

18 May IMGP3243

While I have a stack of Hot Patterns’ that I’ve purchased, the Once, Twice, Three Times a T-Shirt came from a friend.

Almost true to the name, I made two of the three versions of this shirt. If I had a coverstitch, I probably would have made the third too.

In HP, I measure in a 12 (Glamour Girl) on top and a 14 (Slinky Girl) on the bottom. I’ve read HP is closer to RTW sizing. I’m telling myself they are close to UK RTW sizing. I buy an 8 in US RTW.  Based on reviews and the line drawing, I knew I wanted a snugger fit and cut a 10 through the upper body, an 8 at the waist and tapered back to a 12/ 14 at the hip. I also wanted a shorter version than drafted and took out six inches at the waist. In retrospect, I wish I had just done four inches for length.

The PR Reviews noted some errors in the directions. But, I didn’t follow them. The shirts have very basic construction.

All that being said, here’s the first version (note the French nauticalness of the red, white and blue). This style is based on a  $500+ Chloe shirt (I do not follow fashion. I only know it’s Chloe because Erica B. pointed it out four years ago!).

I made this tee up in two cotton jerseys from the Carol Collection. I always knew these were going to be a tee with contrast! I have narrow shoulders and hate things that feel like they might drop off, so I shaped the neckline by one inch, tapering into the shoulder. As drafted, it’s more like a slit.  I didn’t bother with the facings and just turned down the allowance. I also moved in the shoulder line by about 1 inch on each side (1/2 inch too much IMHO) to prevent my bra straps from showing or having the shirt slip off the side.

The pattern doesn’t note pocket placement and I don’t like where I put it. A little over and further down would make me happier. I sewed everything on my serger, hemmed with a twin needle and interfaced all the edges with tricot interfacing. I didn’t make an FBA either.

 

The front and back are the same

I *like* it. I don’t love it. It should have been longer and slightly more fitted to flatter my figure.

My yellow version is based on a $1200 Roberto Cavalli top.

I was totally not drawn to this style until I saw Christina’s version while checking reviews.And, now that it’s made up, I am 100 percent in love with it!

For this one, I moved the should line only 1/2 inch. This fabric is left over from my Burda 6-2010-123 sack dress. I bought in during PR Weekend in Philly. I still have enough left over for a fitted tee! I think I thought it would be a wrap or maxi dress when I first  bought it.

I didn’t hem the sleeves, but did finish the neckline and hem with a twin needles stitch in white.


The front and back are the same, I didn’t make my usual swayback adjustment


This sews up so fast it’s hard not to love. Each of these was made on a weeknight while watching TV. In the future, I’ll make it a little longer (I took too much length out). And, will have to try and resist not turning every slinky knit I have into one of these shirts. I think this pattern is good value for your dollar. You’ll get three tee shirts in one envelope. It’s awesome for a beginner too.

My review on PR is here

McCalls 6279: Denim Trench Dress

16 May file-10

I am predictable about many things. If there are French fries on the menu, I will be ordering them. Given an option for a meal, I always vote for pizza or Mexican. I tend to perfer form over function. And, when it  comes to clothing, give me some trenchy military details and I’m all over it.

I first spoke of wanting a trench dress back in May 2008. But, time flies and I never got around to it. When this McCalls 6279 came out I *almost* didn’t get it because I have an April 2006  Burda with a similar style. But, I’m a sucker for not tracing.

On my list of projects waiting in my stash, I have a trench dress down in two colorways – denim and khaki. A while back someone asked me about being a little more busty and wearing double breasted garments. I’ve never really thought about it. My ribcage is small in comparison to, oh, say the rest of me, so maybe that makes a diff?

I *think* this fabric is from Joanns at least two years ago. It’s a thick denim with some stretch.  I washed and dried it three times and it’s still bleeding blue. What a bee-yotch to cut! My rotary cutter didn’t like it and my scissors just about gave up. My hand and tricep were screaming the next day!

I cut a 14 and took the dress in about 1/2 inch on each side – I could have gotten away with a 12. I made a 1.5 inch princess seam FBA. I made a 1.5 inch swayback adjustment and forgot (as I always do) to add length at center back. So, overall the skirt is is about 1.5 inches shorter than drafted.

This is me realizing that the underskirt is hanging lower than the front skirt. I’ll tell you a secret. I don’t really try clothes on while I’m sewing. I will for general fit once or twice without looking in a mirror (take in waist, etc.) but not to see what it looks like. This blows Trena’s mind. But, I’ve since fixed the wonky hem. So, for the rest of this post, let’s pretend it’s a perfect dress, shall we?

For finishing, I used my invisible hem foot and serged the insides. There is a facing on the inside and I used contrast quilting cotton for that. I wish I was a bigger binder. This would have been so pretty inside with contrast binding.

Topstitching is with Gutterman’s upholstery thread. I also, for the first time, used my edgestitching foot. People. There is some serious love now between me and this foot!

Buttons are from my new favorite source for buttons, Must Love Buttons on eBay and perfect for such a nautical themed dress. I had some simpler buttons, but after conferring with two friends went with these. I am currently obsessed with French nautical. Well, I can’t say currently. I’ve always had a thing for it. Kind of goes with my ‘trenchy military details’ obsession.

So, is this dress work appropriate? My other denim dress with military details is known at the office as my ‘Friday Dress’. So, now I’ll have two denim Friday dresses :-) It’s going to be a great weekend dress too. I can also see myself making up another version with sleeves in khaki.

There you have it! I didn’t do a review on PR. There are a slew of good reviews out there already. I would really love to try this in a peaches and cream seersucker I have, but will defer until next year.

My next two projects are in denim / navy blue. So, I hope you don’t get sick of this color on me.