Men’s Silk Neckties: Vogue 7104

Here’s something I forgot: Making neckties is horseshit.

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If you can imagine, I  sewed three neckties as part of Jordan’s Hanukkah gifts this year. I suspect each holiday, he’s now going to get some boxers and some neckties. He’s been wearing these ties for almost two weeks now, but only let me snap a photo last night when he got home. I think his stint as a male model is coming to a close.

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I’ve gathered that most men don’t wear ties often anymore. Somehow, 85 percent of the guys I’ve dated wear ties daily.  As a lawyer Jordan wears them every day.  Even on casual Friday  he wears a tie (he’s just like that). He has a bunch from his father (retired attorney) and a few I took from my dad (church going black man).  He has more ties than I have shoes.  Despite rolling in ties, he asked if I could / knew how to make them. And, oh, do I. Long time readers will remember my irrational anger at sewing ties and breaking up with the gift recipient less than a month later. I figured it was time to break the Boyfriend Sweater/ Boyfriend Neckwear curse.

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Instead of the seven-fold ties I did last time, I used Vogue’s three-fold tie pattern with interlining. For interlining, I used drapery interlining from Haberman’s at $7 per yard (and 54 inches wide).   Their website said it was a good approximation for tie interfacing (like $25 a yard and 23 inches wide) and it was way way cheaper. Tie interfacing is usually made from wool. This is cotton but has that same light weft look to it. Tie interlining looks to be two layers of the weft.

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Ultimately, Jordan thought it felt not as hefty as the wool interlining in his RTW ties. I have since bought a few yards of wool tie interfacing from The Sewing Place to use on my next go round.  I also changed the interlining/ interfacing pattern. Vogue 7104 doesn’t have the interlining going all the way to the tip of the tie. All the ties I looked at do. So, I just traced the interlining pattern to mimic the finished tie.

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Ties are pretty simple in concept. It’s all bias cut, 1/4 inch seam allowances and nice fabric. Yet, the tie point is a real PITA. I don’t think my tie points (the tip) ever look as good as RTW. I sewed two muslins before I decided these were good enough. The next time I make these, I will follow my own advice for sewing the tips of the tie.  The lining and main fabric should be offset to create a good mitre. The Vogue instructions so not account / note that. Another good visual resource for sewing the tie tip is Sam Hober’s site.

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I did add a 1/4 inch in width to the pattern as drafted. And, I think I’m going to add another 1/4 for 1/2 inch more total for a 4 inch wide tie vs 3.25. Jordan’s favorite tie from his father is 3.75 inches wide.

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I think, like boxers, I should make these a couple times a year so I don’t forget how they go together. It really is a fast project with most of it hand sewing to close it up. That, I could easily do while watching a movie or TV.

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Last bit about fabric. I think I’m a total purist when it comes to neckties. I like them made out of a thick silk twill. That fabric can can be really pricey. I’ve been lucky to get bits and pieces here and there. I try to snatch them up whenever I can. Belraff Fabrics has a lot well-priced necktie fabric right now. But, fair warning, most of the prints are of the lighter silk variety (the cream and green print at the top is from them). I’d stick with the preppy striped ones, they are a heavier silk and luscious.

So, why do I say they are horseshit? Just loads of fiddly bits. You just have to be precise, work with small seam allowances, cut silk fabric on the bias, loads of handsewing and work with with fabric that frays easily.  Of course, he loves his ties. LOVES them.

If you’re interested in making ties, I would also recommend checking out David Paige Coffin’s download on making ties at home.

Jordan made out like a handsewn bandit this year, didn’t he? He gotten a jacket,  boxers, a sweater, workout gear, cummerbund,  suit alterations and ties. If this keeps up, I’m going to have to rename my blog “Mister’s Emporium”.

The Most Hideous Garment I’ve Ever Blogged: Burda 9-2008 #110 and #111 Hybrid

 photo 000001715498_zpsf0e386ff.jpgI was weirdly intrigued by the grey #110 shirt when it first appeared in Burda back in 2008. Trena made it up and I still liked it. I wanted some quick tops to wear to work with my jeans (I seriously now wear jeans every single day). I realize that the top had high potential for looking ridiculous. So, I decided to muslin it in a long-stashed tee shirting before cutting in to my prized ponte. I took the hood and sleeves of the blue #111 from the same issue, kept the shorter length from the crazy collared #110.

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I figured it was ‘in between’ this way and I could still get a sense of how it would look before I committed to the Shakespearean collar. Now that I don’t even know what to do with my bust, I’ve been reading up on tops for an hourglass figure. Consensus is, lower / wide neck, wrap tops, waist definition, fitted is best. They should end below the hip / or just past the thighs.

This top does none of those things. NOT A ONE.

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At worst, I look like a blueberry. At best, I look pregnant. Ultimately, this is a big fat lesson learned. I’ve been super drawn to full tops with no darts that end just below the waist. Look at what Kristy did with Burda’s 11/2013 #105. I friggin love that top! Trena warned me not to make the tops like that because it would look like boob tents. Just fabric hanging off my rack. She was right. Also, that length below, THE WORST EVER.

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PSA: Don’t cut and sew after midnight. Listen, because I traced and cut this out after midnight. I put in darts for some unknown bizarro reason. This FBA should have been to just increase the gathers at the neck for width and probably not worry about the length since it’s so blousy. Darts are for fitting. There is no close fitting needed here. Besides, where I ended up putting the darts are really just pointing to my belly button. Don’t cut and sew after midnight.

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I did wear this to work today. And a lot of people liked it. I think it’s the color they were responding to. The length is actually not bad on me, when it doesn’t ride up. But, for real. This is the most hideous thing I’ve ever blogged. The most hideous thing I’ve ever made is a coat from ten years ago pre blog. HORRID. Even my mom told me to throw it away.

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Lord have mercy. I have to make tops with a waist!!

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Orphan Sewing Machines

Last week, I was gifted three vintage sewing machines. The person who gave them to me was moving a relative into an assisted living facility. And, in cleaning her place, found three sewing machines. Now, I never say ‘no’ when offered a machine. It could be a machine I want to collect or has value. But, more importantly, I feel like there are always people who want to start sewing. And, I think the best way to start is on a free machine that works.

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The first is a Sears Kenmore 1703 in a table. I think the machine must have been top of the line when it came out.

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It has cams for 25 different stitch patterns plus a built in zig zag. I thought about keeping this one. But, I really don’t have the space. And, I have three sewing machines as it is now :-)

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The second machine is a Singer Merrit from the late 80s. It’s actually pretty solid and sews fairly well. It can also take cams to do some decorative stitches including a three-step-zigzag.

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The third machine is this green Singer 185k. It’s all metal and straight stitch machine. This is the only one of the lot I’m keeping. And, that’s just to set up and run my Singer buttonholer. Because it’s not in a table, I can make room for it.

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I love my Bernina  830, but I am not down with a four step buttonhole.  All the machines were filthy and full of dust.

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I didn’t pull out this last bit of red, because I think it’s felt that’s supposed to be in that spring.

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I also really like that it was made in Great Britain.

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The Singer Merrit and Kenmore are both listed on Freecycle and I suspect they’ll be gone in a few days.

Wigan: The Reveal

It’s been over a month since you guys helped me track down ‘real’ wigan. And, I owe you a little round up. I didn’t get to it sooner because I am lazy.  But, the good thing is when cleaning out some part of the house, I was able to find a sample of the original ‘good’ wigan I had from G Street Fabrics. So, I can do an actual comparison of all of them and not from mythical memory. That said, here we go.

From left to right, here are the various wigans I have.

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Wigan from Sew True in 2011, G Street wigan circa 2007, Lichtenstein & Co. in Brooklyn, B. Black & Sons and Claire Schaeffer. Now, I did get wigan from Banasch’s in Cincinnati also. It’s extremely similar to Lichtenstein’s sample. And, I can’t find it. I swear to you these were all kept together. But, it has disappeared. One more reason it took me so long to blog the results.

And, added bonus, a little video where I talk about the differences in the wigan. I apologize now for the autofocus. And, the rapid hand movement. I was a TV reporter. Not a presenter on QVC. ** doh. I see my home address is posted in the video and so I’ve deleted the video.

  • Overall the Sew True wigan is utter BS. Here’s the email I sent to them when I ordered it three years ago.

I received my order earlier this week. Thank you for the quick response. I’m a little confused on one item. I ordered sleeve wigan, sew in. The item I received is a bias cut fusible on a roll. Wigan I bought several years ago was rather stiff and scratchy. This is pretty soft and pliable. Is it possible I received bias fusible interfacing rather than the wigan?

No response ever received.

  • I called G Street and the woman who answered said they didn’t carry it and she was responsible for all the tailoring supplies and interfacing. So, it’s unicorn tears. It’s got a strong hand and is perfect for a heavy wool coat hem.
  • Lichtenstin ((212) 226-5921)  / Banasch’s is almost as stiff as the G Street. I would definitely buy from them. They sell it in varying widths too.
  • B. Black and Sons is all kinds of wrong. It’s floppy and not cut on the bias. I can only assume that it is batiste that is wrongly labeled. From the photos, this looks more right.
  • Claire Schaeffers’ is a little softer than Lichtenstein’s / Banasch’s. But, I think that’s fine. It’s a different weight for a sligthly light tailoring application — say a tailored jacket.

So, there you have it. ‘real’ wigan is available from Lichtenstein, Banasch’s and Claire Schaeffer. B. Black might have the good stuff, but I didn’t get it with my sample. If I ever make it to Los Angels, I’ll try and go in person and feel it out. I did also call several other NY Garment District stores and they said they didn’t send samples, or couldn’t ‘open’ a roll (which made me think it wasn’t real wigan anyway).

Thank you all for your help! Now, I just need to get started on an actual coat project, hunh?

McCalls 5095: Men’s Baseball Sweater

Friends, don’t rush on a project. And, always make sure you cut your knits with the stretch going the correct direction. With that fair warning, allow me to begin my tale of woe.

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A few months ago I was browsing the men’s Valet Magazine’s fall shopping guide and stumbled upon their ‘sweatshirt’ section. I immediately fell in love with the neutral color blocking of the J.Crew version ($85 retail and $60 on sale. Poly/cotton obvs) and figured I could easily sew one up on my in in wool jersey as a Hanukkah gift for Jordan.

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**I’m calling this a baseball sweater because the ones with raglan sleeves and wool are called that on the J. Crew website. The ones in wool with set in sleeves are called baseball sweatshirts.

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All I needed was a pattern for a raglan sleeve sweatshirt. I found this McCall’s  dating back to 1992. Jordan measures a 43 in his chest so I purchased the Large for size 42 – 44. Naturally, it had 14 inches of ease at 58 inches. That, is a no go. I then bought a medium (5 inches of ease with 47 inches finished garment measurement) and sewed that up instead.

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I first muslined this in a really nice charcoal ponte I had in my stash. Gah. It was SO HARD to let that fabric go for him. Based on the muslin, I decided to take in the waist 1.5 inches on each side, shorten the sweater by two inches and widen the waistband 1/2 inch. I really liked the fit through the chest and the sleeve length was perfect.

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For the ‘real’ one, I used three wool jerseys for the color blocking. Jordan also thinks he has a short torso and asked to have another three inches taken offof the length.  Fearing an 80s style crop top, I ignored my client and only shortened it two inches.

Below are some of the ones J. Crew has in 100 percent cotton. I did not do all the same topstitching as them. I wasn’t going for a sporty look. More like, weekend movies.

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Folks. Here’s where it all goes awry: What’s that you see to the left of the triangle? I don’t even know. The neckband was cut (accidentally) without stretch. So, I was trying really hard to serge the neckband on. Yes. *serge* as in sewing off the seam allowance.  Because the neckband had zero stretch, I thought the neckline had stretched out and just needed to be taken in a little bit. I got the *brilliant* idea of taking in the shoulder seam seam between the grey and the cream on ONE SIDE.  One thing let to another and next thing I knew I had to add beige fabric *back* to the top and one side of the shirt is an inch wider than the other. FML.  And, I acknowledge the point in the triangle also got destroyed in this process.

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I contemplated scrapping the project and starting over. I thought about unpicking seams and recutting the front.  But, I didn’t. Why? I really really hate to fix. Also, it was all serged and I didn’t want to overwork the fabric. And,  wool jersey is real expensive. I figured at worst, he could wear it around the house. It’s still warm. And, it does fit. Plus, I actually have enough that I can just start over again for next time.

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Initially, I was thrilled when I made this (before the neckband). And, in truth, I do have a pattern that I can use for sweaters and sweatshirts. I can see making this up for a long time. And, best of all, IT’S SO FAST. Seriously. I can sew this in under two hours. Jordan, god love him, still wore the sweater out with friends and says it looks just fine to him. He also hates having his photos taken in public places….

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Next up… I have one more thing I’ve sewn for Jordan this holiday season. If I can talk him into modeling one last time.

FehrTrade Surf to Summit: Menssss

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Over Thanksgiving I pattern tested Melissa Fehr Trade’s Surf to Summit Top for men. Note, I didn’t make one for myself because I neither surf, nor summit. Jordan on the other hand snowboards, runs and bikes. One time we went running together and I *begged* him not to run with me. I get really self conscious about what a slow runner I am. And, I kind of hate being encouraged when I run. Just let me run in peace and self loathing. He wouldn’t do it and jogged along with me at my 12 minute mile pace. The next day, he had shin splints. Because, it was like he was jogging in place. ::sad trombone:: We haven’t gone running together since….

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Anywho, I tested this pattern because it was free and something I would have bought anyway. I’m probably a terrible tester, because I sewed this sucker up in less than two hours on a Friday night. And, I glanced through the directions, but it’s really simple construction. I will say her diagrams are really good and I think Big 4 patterns could take a lesson from her on how to illustrate instructions. Her pattern description below:

Both the men’s and ladies’ versions feature princess seams, side panels (so no side seams!), your choice of long or short raglan sleeves, optional sleeve mitts for keeping your hands warm without fiddling for gloves, a tall integral collar to keep your neck covered, and your choice of two hem lengths. An optional half zip and back cycling-style pocket are also included.

I made the pullover in long sleeves with sleeve mitts. I would have done the half zip, but didn’t have a zipper on hand and wasn’t trying to go out over Thanksgiving to look for one.

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Guys, I get the love of a PDF pattern — instant gratification and no shipping. But, I’ll only sew them if they are copy shop. Period. I know there are faster ways of taping, but I won’t do it. Some people won’t upgrade to smartphones and get on Facebook. I won’t tape PDFs. So, I was really happy I could get this one copy shop printed.

For Jordan, I first sewed a straight Large. His chest measured 42.5. Jordan’s clothing issues are short torso, broad chest, large biceps and somewhat narrow waist — but with a little extra weight around his middle.

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After taking photos so she could see how the straight Large fit (above and unhemed), I took three inches of width from the waist. Jordan wants it even tighter next time so it’s a more a true compression shirt. When I sew it again, I’ll also add one or two inches in length. At first he said it was fine. Then, he went for a run and admitted his stomach got cold.

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I really like these run mitts. When sewing them, I had zero idea what they were supposed to look like. And, feared I’d sewn them wrong. But, they are correct and Jordan said they worked brilliantly. But, he felt some stares when we was running, but said they worked so well his hands were sweating by the time he got home. Below on the left is the run mitt and on the right what it looks like when not engaged.

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Finally, I made this up in some of my hoarded Under Armour Cold Gear. I have two more pieces of it left in red and sage green. I’m saving the red for myself and donating the sage green to his exercising cause.
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This went together really quickly. All serger construction with my coverstitch for the hems.

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I think I need to make some fit tweaks. I’d like to try an XL on top and through the arms and taper to a medium in the waist. I’ll also add some length at the bottom. And, this summer I can sew him some bike versions from the Nike fabric I bought in Minnesota this summer. Plus, with the seaming details, there’s plenty of opportunity for me to use some reflective tape to make him a bit more visible in the wild.

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I’ve sewn some more holiday gifts for Jordan that I hope to blog after Hanukkah this week. In the meantime, Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate. And for those of us waiting for Christmas, it’s less than two weeks away!!

Allow me to leave you with my new Christmas tree. Because, I can.


Boring Muslin: Issey Miyake Muslin, Vogue 1320

Muslins are so boring to blog! Ugh. But, I wanted to document what I do on this one so I could go back later. And, now after my second muslin, I’m not sure this is the coat for me. Plus, nothing wrong with a little blog filler every now and then.

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I decided to muslin Vogue 1320, an Issey Miyake coat.  The first time, I cut a 12 and graded to a 14 at my thighs. It was too small overall and the CF weren’t nearly close to meeting after my 1 inch FBA (I’m a 34DDDD/G  cup, so 2.5 inches is really the ideal on a Big 4).

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Muslin #2. I went up one size to a 14 for the coat, grading to an 18 at the thighs (my widest part). I also made a 2 inch FBA on the princess seams. So, let’s break down all the issues and why I think this might be a wash for me.

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The shoulders are tight. They were just as tight in the smaller muslin I made. Ugh, the neck is also way too high. But, that’s because I have the neck of a Nutcracker.

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The FBA is actually not giving me more fullness at my apex. It’s all added to the side since the princess seam line don’t run over the bust.

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Still need a swayback adjustment and there is too much fabric at the back armsyce.

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With Jordan’s help, I cut a horizontal slash at the shoulder that makes it way more comfortable. How meta. You can see my first muslin in my sewing room below on the dress form.

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But, this horizontal slash seems to add extra fabric at the back of my arm.
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I also did some slashing at the bus apex since I could see the pull lines there ( I think that look on my face is shame. And, I had pins in my mouth).

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Here’s what the altered shoulder looks like. I think it’s doable.
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Here’s what my current FBA looks like. That two inches in length is definitely right. But, not enough width where it needs to be, at the apex on the right (click to enlarge)

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I *think* I need to actually FBA the center front part like a regular FBA so the fullness goes there rather than adding to the curve of the fairly straight side (and remove the extra inch at the curve I added).

But, that leaves me not knowing what to do with the back underarm area.

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It does give me range of motion. But, looks like there is just too much fabric there.

Erg. I might muslin again. I might not. I like the coat fine. But, I’m not married to it.

What do you think?

Blue Boxers, German Translation and Most AMAZING Burda Archive

I was planning on throwing in some boxers with Jordan’s Hanukkah gifts in December. But, then I thought, are underwear really gifts? Is that like getting a pack of socks from your parents? So, I decided to just make them over Thanksgiving and give them out when I was done. I tried, but he wasn’t trying to model these for my blog either. SO incredibly selfish.

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These are Jalie 2327. I’ve made them before in two or three batches for Jordan. This time, I made up five in size U. I think I found with these sizing down a size was the fit he wanted. For the waistband, I measured his waist and subtracted six inches. The Singer Sewing Reference library book on lingerie (I don’t know that Jordan would appreciate knowing my measurements for his boxers comes from a lingerie book, heh.) says subtract between 2 and 6 inches for waistband elastic.

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The fabric is Under Armour wicking material at like $5 to $7 a yard that they use for underwear. Local Guss Woolens was my UA fabric resource, and they closed up shop. So, I’ve sort of hoarded this material. I have it in three more color ranges so he should be getting boxers for a few more years now. The waistband elastic is from Sew Sassy (and conveniently University of Michigan colors). I also have it with black and grey from easy.

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Nothing too fancy here. Everything constructed with the serger. It’s as close as I get to production sewing.

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The elastic and hems are sewn with the overstitch and wooly nylon in the lower looper.


For myself, I have a few new bra patterns from the German company Sewy.

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They are Isabell and Leonie.  They are blessedly in my size range. But, entirely in German. If there are any German speaking readers who would be willing to translate for pay or exchange of fabric, patterns, etc, please let me know. I’ve made enough bras that I get the gist. But, English would be easier. Just leave a message at the bottom and I’ll contact you.


Melissa over at FehrTrade tipped me off to this on her blog. There is an incredible Burda archive here that allows you to search based on tags, size, fabric or garment. Incredible. Check it out. It’s already caused me to track down some Burdas that have patterns I *need*. You can also run the link through Google Translate to sort out how to download the archive. Seems like it has to be re-downloaded every month. But, with the Plus, Easy Fashion and Regular editions included going back to 2004, it’s well worth it.

Three, Four Times A Lady: BWOF 10-2008-117

While I’m waiting for a slew of wigan samples to make their way to me (thank you!!) I realized I needed a dress to wear to a dinner party last weekend. I figured knit would be fast and easy and with the weather, I knew I needed long sleeve. Enter Burda 10-2008-117.

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I’ve made this pattern twice before and neither version are with me any longer. I’m happy to say I still love it! I love it so much, I cut and sewed a second grey scale version during the week. Sadly for you, two dresses means twice as many photos! Luckily, my friend Liz offered to take both sets of photos :-)

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So, what did I do differently than the first two times? I decided I liked the collar standing up, so, I interfaced that and just used a shortened invisible zipper at the back (vs down to the hip).

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I also decided I wanted to give the darts from the original design another go and made a one inch FBA. This time. I sewed a 40 this time grading to a 46 in the lower thigh. I ended up taking both dresses in a lot at the waist and hips. I usually hate darts in knits. But, they really worked out well this time for shaping!

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Both cuts of fabric are from my Fabric Mart trip two years ago. I thought the colors would be great for early winter. And, I bought like five cuts of poly knits two weekends ago at Jomar in Philadelphia. So, I really needed to sew some down. I like how in 2012 I said no more poly knits and bought a bunch. And, in 2014 I said no more poly knits, and seriously bought 30 yards of them. I am truly a creature of habit photo IMGP1588_zps0e42eec0.jpgOther than the FBA and sewing darts in a knit, my other big difference was finally getting a chance to use Vilene tape around the neckline, shoulder and armsyce.

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This is the tape that you always see in Burda with a little chain thread on it. As you can see below, when you sew a 1/4 inch seam, your stitch falls perfectly on the chain. Perfect for stabilization!

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Melissa of Fehr Trade was kind enough to bring me some when she visited last year. And, when I went to the Netherlands, I bought several packets of it.

In the second version, I made a bigger swayback adjustment and shortened the shoulder width a bit.

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I love the swishyness of the bubble skirt too. It creates movement in a really interesting way.

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I love these dresses. I guess with four makes, this is officially a TNT for me.

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What’s next? Gift making for the holidays. I want to make some tops for Jordan and I promised to alter his wool three piece suit. That is enough of a gift for anyone. And, will probably keep me busy through December.

Can You Help Me Find Wigan?

Thank you for all the comments on my rain jacket! I wore it out a few weekends ago and my friend Liz thought it was the most non-homesewn project she’s seen from me. That’s high praise to me!

I’m mid muslin on my winter coat project, Issey Mikyake’s Vogue 1320. Well, by mid muslin I mean I made a size 12/14 two weeks ago and need to make a size 14/16 this weekend. Anywho, I’m gathering all my supplies and the one thing I can’t seem to find is the wigan I used in my last winter coat four years ago.

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This was purchased from G Street fabric seven years ago. And, when I called them — they said they no longer carried it.  I don’t want thin, I don’t want fusible. I want something super stiff — almost like horsehair that is 1.25 inches wide. Fusible is what I got when I blindly ordered wigan a few years ago from Sew True.

Have you seen it? I’ve gotten samples from B. Black and Sons and called Steinlauf and Stoller (that was a waste of long distance) and neither are right.

Finding ‘real’ wigan is something Kathleen Fasanella has discussed.  

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I use wigan to sew hems on my coat. And, I LOVED this stuff, If I can’t find it, I guess I’ll be trying to make some. Which apparently just means cutting strips if goat or horse hair interfacing.