BWOF 11-2007 #107 : Pink and Cream Seersucker Cross Dart Dress

Oh, hey.

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I don’t know know that there is a seersucker I don’t like.  I started this dress almost two months ago to wear to a summer ‘picnic wedding’ in upstate NY where the dress was ‘summer semi-formal’. I didn’t get it done in time :-(

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My sewing of this dress greatly benefited from having lots of extra fabric. I had to recut the bodice three time due to incredible user error. I first used this seersucker to make a sailor-inspired skirt two years ago. The fabric is kind of see through, so this time I underlined the bodice with cotton batiste.

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I’ve wanted to make this dress since it came out in 2007. I thought the bodice darts were so interesting. Add a full pleated skirt and it’s totally speaking my language.

 

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Not only did I need an FBA, I had to move the darts down a good 1.5 inches too in addition to changing the angle of the darts downward. So, while it doesn’t look exactly like the original, it fits and flatters me so much better.

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Like a dolt, I sewed up the shoulders and sides before remembering the correct sleeveless construction order. That meant I needed to use a bit of bias at the neckline so I could clean finish everything. This would have also looked awesome if I’d used the binding at the armholes too (thought for next time).

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The inside of this dress is really my favorite. I used the time consuming but my favorite method: facing lining combo.  I drafted the bodice lining using the included facing. I looks so ready to wear to me! It’s much more work, but worth the effort I think. There is no peeping out of lining from the sleeves or neckline this way.

I used ALL the machines on this dress. Sewn up on my Bernina 830 using the AMAZING invisible zipper foot.

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Seriously. Perfect insertion every time. I hate to admit that this sucker was worth the $40.

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The hem of the lining is made with my Brother Coverstitch (my new favorite way to do lining).

 

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And the hem of the dress itself is secured with rayon tape and my Japanese-made  blind hemmer (using the invisible thread).

Seriously. All. The. Machines.

I think this dress would benefit from a belt. But, I don’t have one that works. Yet. I’m thinking a pale blue or teal? I would also make the tulle underskirt if I need this for dress up rather than work.

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Overall, I’m meh on the dress. I put a ton of effort in to it. But, I really don’t like it on me. On the dressform it’s rocking. But, the proportions are ever so slightly off on me and I look like a rectangle.  I’m sorry it didn’t make it to the wedding as thematically it was perfect. I am just off my sewing game as of late. I have one more skirt to post that I made a few weeks ago and I’ll be caught up in project back log.

BurdaStyle 5-2010 #104: The Accidental Maternity Top

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I bought this delightful silk / cotton fabric from Mood four years ago when I was in NY for the Met / Brooklyn Museum High Style exhibition. I’ve really, truly, hoarded it looking for the right pattern. This fabric was everything to me. It’s got polka dots, has contrast, and has pink. And, to me, the pink dots remind me of the halo/pink sapphire of my engagement ring. Really, it’s screams my name.

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I didn’t check reviews for this pattern until after it was cut and I was sewing. Imagine my delight  (read: here horror) when I saw every review made it up AS A MATERNITY TOP. There’s a reason for that. I look three months pregnant. And, I am so not pregnant.

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Now, I like this top. I love the colors. I love that it’s breezy. But, there’s a definite expecting vibe. The pink and blue probably don’t help. What I’m not sure about the material is how ‘secure’ it is. I messaged Peter on Twitter (he made it up into a man skirt) and asked if he secured the seams in any paticular way. The design is loose enough that I’m not straining the seams. That said, I’m being super careful with it: hand wash, careful to take it off and on, etc. Yes, I could have used silk organza in the seams to reinforce… but, I didn’t.

I’m also not modeling it. Why? I don’t have any bottoms that ‘go’. Yes, I sewed an orphan. But, orphan sewing has stopped me from making the separates I so desperately need. So, I’m going to plow ahead and make separates anyway. Otherwise, I’ll jut never do it.

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For this pattern, I used the shirring method from the Vogue Sewing book. You use elastic thread in your bobbin, secure the ends with hand tied knots, and stitch over those with pink tucks. It’s a’ight. I’ve never shirred before so I’m glad I got to try it out. Not my greatest work. But, you have to try something to learn something.

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On the neckline, I used bias trip to create some interest. And, sewed up the V a bit for modesty’s sake (i.e. no cleavage in the office). I also took the sleeves from the dress version rather than the strips in the tunic top. Oh, I also made a one inch FBA. I think I could have added another 1/2 inch to the length to get it perfectly under the boobage.

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Ok. Now, my shame. The shirring is off center (and kind of sloppy). ARGH. I look at it and all I see is off-center shirring. It’s off by about 1.25 inches. I thought it was centered when I put it together. But, obviously it’s not.  Jordan assures me when on it’s not noticeable. Mostly, because I look pregnant. His words. Not mine.  I’ll be honest with you, it’s bad, but I have no interest in taking it apart and fixing. Mostly because I just don’t think the fabric can handle it.

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Nice enough top. Probably better for maternity.  Not my greatest work. Saved by my absolute unabated love of the print. I’ll wear it while I can. Hopefully, the material is stronger than I’m giving it credit for.


Youse guys! I have a new job that I start next week.  The thing is, I’m going from a strictly businesses dress/ political gig  for pretty much my entire career to a totally casual private sector job.  I mean, we had a strict dress code at my high school. I remember being absolutely startled when a mid 20s guy I was dating didn’t own a suit (we went to church every weekend growing up in clothes that didn’t get worn the rest of the week). Top ten embarrassing moment  was the Executive Producer at the Washington TV station I was interning at pulling me aside to say my knee-length short suit with blazer from Dress Barn was not appropriate for work and she wasn’t comfortable sending me to a press conference  on the Hill. I was mortified. I am super conscious of what I wear to work.

It was bizarre to me that this feels like an existential crisis. I’d actually had this post queued up for over a month now. But, worried I sounded crazy for not knowing what to wear to work or feeling weird about not being in business dress. Now, I  feel in good company! I read Audrey’s post last night about her office going to casual wear. In my position the last year, I was the one who instituted a business casual dress code (no jeans, flip flops) and people damn near revolted.  I still stayed business (dresses, occasional suit). Because, I’ve always had to dress up for work.

Robin and I talked about this a little (since new job is practically in the parking lot of her development) and we both think we couldn’t do totally casual. I’ve been home the last week sewing for the new job and just trying to take a mental health break. I’ve completed a dress, skirt and tunic. I plan to trace out three more items and sew at least one more before I start working again. The all-to-me sewing time is unbeatable!

Rainbow Brite Shorts: Burda Magazine 6-2011-111

I haven’t owned or worn a pair of non-athletic shorts in well over three years. I mean, I used to have some. But, they got ratty or I outgrew them.  And, I just never found any that I liked and which fit (blame my tragic waist / thigh ratio). I decided this was the summer I was going to have a week’s worth of summer shorts. After all, I’m working on having ‘dog walking clothes’.

I ordered material from Mood Fabrics online. I want to point out that when the box reached me, it was already open. Why? Because I took delivery at work and my co-workers (Project Runway fans) couldn’t wait for me to come out of my meeting before opening it for me. They said they knew I would understand. But, I digress…

Anyway, here’s the plan: seersucker, red poplin, laminated linen and black embroidered cotton. I think these will run the gamut from dressed up to dressed down. I’m not sure I’m going to make the madras anymore. We’ll see…

For this project, I chose this #111 pattern from the June 2011 Burda(link to $5.40 download on Burdastyle.com) I wanted a short inseam. Longer shorts make my legs look like tree trunks. I like to distract from the width of my legs with the shortness of my shorts ;)

These have a nice flat front, side zip and contoured waistband. All things I knew I wanted. For my first pair, I eliminated the side pockets.

I’m calling these my Rainbow Brite pair, heh. I love color and stripes and seersucker. I was sold on these the minute I saw the material.

I underlined them in cotton batiste (also from Mood online). When I made this skirt last summer I realized that light seersucker is see through. I means you can not only see my underthings, but you can also see clothes tucked in to them.

The underlining also gave the fabric some more structure. I’ve seen seersucker shorts in the store and they never seem to be substantial enough. But, the seersucker suits I see at J.Crew and Brooks Brothers seem to be much thicker.

I also used a template to make the pockets. This made sure they were both the same and gave a nice sharp edge / finish with pressing. Oy. As drafted, pocket placement is comical on me — just  6 cm from the waistband. I moved these down and out several inches.

I’m very very happy with this patch pocket version. I found the waist a too high by one inch for my taste and have altered the pattern for my next go round (red poplin this weekend I hope).

The nice thing about the higher waist is there’s no belly to hang over the waist band or fear of showing my underwear when sitting. But, I’m still going to tweak these.

I’m happy! It’s been so long since I’ve had shorts that fit me well and are flattering!

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

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.

Four Skirts in Four Days, Part IV!: Burda 6-2009-104 Wrap Skirt

I actually finished this skirt months ago and didn’t get a chance for photos or to blog. After writing this post ages after completing the garment, I realize I am *boring* when an article isn’t fresh on my mind! So, I apologize now for the rudimentary post. I’m just fuzzy on the finer points after all this time. What happened to my memory? I used to recall conversations verbatim. Now, I write notes to myself so I can remember what people said to me. While we’re talking about getting older. I’ve been obsessed about these laugh lines around my mouth lately. I was almost relieved when I saw some forgotten photos of me from 10+ years ago with the same lines. Turns out I didn’t care in my 20s. Only in my 30s did they stand out :)

Enough of that. Back to the skirt! The flash washed the color of the skirt out a bit so I’m posting it below with no flash.

 It’s a strawberry cream seersucker. I *think* I bought it at Metro Textiles last year. But, I honestly don’t remember! See, again with the memory thing! The cream buttons are from A Fabric Place here in Baltimore.

This Burda 6-2009-104 skirt sucked me in by two elements: double row of buttons and seersucker. I am so totally predictable. Make it a trench, vest, cape or seersucker and I’m all in.

The line drawing shows it looking fairly straight, but I found on me it was a little a-line. This could have been for the additional width I added at the thighs.

The buttons on the front are mostly decorative as this is a wrap skirt with a side zipper.

There’s a slit on the inside for walking.

Ummm, I’ve worn the skirt bunches. But, I dont’ love it on me. It’s slightly too small with no room to let out. I had to do a lot of futzing with fit. After completion, I actually took the waist in two more times before it was wearable.

Despite adding about 2 inches of width in the thigh, it’s still about 1/2 inch snug. I also made a full seat adjustment in two places to accommodate for my swayback and full seat and it’s not quite enough (or smooth based on this photo!).

You can see the skirt still sits a scootch higher at the center front. The center back seam isn’t really centered on me and the side seams are off because of all my adjustments (and my full forward thighs).

Overall, I’m meh. It’s a nice staple and certainly adds to the work wardrobe. But, it’s not top garment for 2011. I’ve gotten a lot of wear out of it, but I don’t know if I would make it again. I think I need to make a simple pencil skirt and make some decisions on the best skirt style for me.

Weekend Summary

Since Friday, I’ve been dogsitting for my friend Catalina. Her dog, Frida Khalo, and I have been hanging out together in the sewing / TV room bawling our eyes out over Surprise Homecoming and  Say Yes to the Dress while discussing the debt ceiling crisis. If you’re wondering, yes. I would absolutely love a dog. But, I only want a toy breed and couldn’t  bring myself to purchase one when so many animals need homes. The small ones at the ASPCA, etc are the first to go and just about impossible to get if you don’t know someone on the inside. So, I’m satisfying myself by dogsitting. Kind of like being a grandparent and spoiling the heck out of the kid and turning them back over to the parents hopped up on candy and Frappes.

While Frida and I were spending quality time together, Liz came by to take her first stab at machine sewing a dress. You see, she used to hand sew garments when she did historical re-enactments at Ft. McHenry (home of the Star Spangled Banner (the US National Anthem) and right here in Baltimore). She’s liked my sewn garments but not enough to try sewing herself.  It was the Burda 6/2010 #123  knit sack dress that sent her over the edge. Can you stand a third version of it in one week? Clearly, I need to enter this in to the one pattern, three looks contest.

We picked out the material last week at G Street in Rockville. Can you imagine they had a Groupon? Woot! Woot! Her main concern with sewing is that she’s too much of a perfectionist. She thought it would drive her bananas if it wasn’t absolutely perfect and would get frustrated. You know what takes the frustration away? Sweet Tea Vodka while you’re sewing.

Mom. Don’t freak out about Frida on the sofa. I gave her a bath, brushed her and vacuum daily while she’s here. 

She has more material to make a second version. But, not bad for your first dress, right? We even matched motifs on the side.

I had her sew with a knit because the beginner fear of sewing with a knit boggles my mind. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you’re not told something is hard, then you won’t think it’s hard. I believe in Fearless Sewing. Then again, I only made French seams this year and still haven’t done a rolled hem.

Oh, also sews on a Kenmore 1040. She had a Wal Mart Special that jammed every third stitch. This absolutely led to her irritation with sewing. So, when I was in Tampa buying my Singer 301, I found the Kennie and brought it home for her.

Oh. She was also blown away that I took 50+ photos for one blog post.  And, got a little tired of it near the end :D I just would not let her get away.

I feel like an idiot. Stop taking pictures.

I have no more poses. Stop.

Seriously. Isn’t that enough?

C’mon!

Fun, Fun, Fun!

Trena came up to Baltimore Friday night to be my date for an Artscape party. Artscape is the largest outdoor arts festival on the east coast and is hosted right here in Baltimore.

That night, I was invited to a rooftop party to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Artscape. There was a live Fantasia concert on the ground. There were SO MANY PEOPLE. They were expecting 350,000 people over the weekend.

Cocktails and food were on the roof and fireworks at a reasonable hour (I just can’t stay up late).

It was a GREAT time.


Here’s a photo of us with some of my work friends.

More importantly, Trena and I were both in the same Burda 06-2010 #123 dresses of our own making in totally differnt prints.

She went with an elegant silk jersey, and I made up this yellow and gray polyester from Philadelphia’s Jomar.

According to her, the fan fabric is just $3 a yard. So, the dress was under $10 and I have a bunch leftover.

As Trena mentions, the swayback in this is pretty significant. I took out two inches and could have taken out another 1.0 to 1.5.

This was my test run of the plaid sack dress. This first version is two inches shorter. Which is fine just as long as I don’t try to blouson it like I did the silk version.


That’s me looking for the rest of the skirt

I think this length is also a little ‘stumpier’ on me vs the plaid dress. But, the right length for a summer cocktail party with fancy people.

Overall, it was a good night. I had fun with my bestie and got to show off my town.

Pattern Review: BWOF 10-2008-117: Bubble Dress Redux

I first made this dress in October 2008 for a wedding. It remains my most flattering dress. This is the one I constantly get a positive response in. It’s slim and flattering through the waist and is complementary on the bottom. In fact, it’s my go to ‘Get ‘em gurrrl’ dress. In fact, a few weeks ago I knew I was going to see an ex-boyfriend (Ladies. Do not sh*t where you eat. No good will come of it). The original purple version is what I chose to wear. And, it did what I wanted it to do. Everyone needs a dress like that.

I’ve been wanting to make this up again for some time. Mainly because the original purple (this is mortifying), is stank with body funk. Yes, there I said it. I have a garment that is only wearable in the winter when I have no opportunity to get warm. I have done everything prescribed to it by the incredibly knowledgeable doyennes of pattern review. It’s significantly better (it was once unwearable) but it is not without flaw. Man, last week I soaked the pits for eight hours in  a pure ammonia and baking soda paste. Again, better. But, not perfect. I’ve since moved on to dress liners, prescription strength antiperspirants and washing my knits (with amonia, baking soda and borax) as soon as I wear them. But, I digress.

I bought this material at PR Weekend in Montreal. I have no capacity for remembering how much fabric was.

For this iteration, I left out the CB zip, did not interface the collar (so I could pull it over my head), widened the turtleneck, and did not sew the bust darts. I find bust darts in thin knits super annoying and I was thinking that they weren’t going to make that much of a difference.

Voila! I have a very nice gray almost sweater knit that I think I’d like to make it up in. This dress was especially needed this week as someone thought I was in my mid 40s. Not that there is anything wrong with your mid 40s. But, for heaven’s sake! I’m 34 !!

** I took pictures twice. Now that it’s dark out, the lighting in my living room isn’t great. And, I’m too much of a wimp to take pictures outside in the cold. I had some really nice detail photos on the dressform. But, my four-year old iMac is currently in the shop. I put in a Netflix DVD of Butterfield 8 (great costumes by Helen Rose) and my computer just stopped working. They are ordering a new elliptical drive. But, for now,  all my good photos are on there.  Boo!!

Pattern Review: Burda Magazine, 9-2010-121 Turtleneck

I don’t think this counts as a review. Burda 9-2010-121 was so simple I didn’t even look at the directions. The pattern is three pieces. I did make a swayback adjustment so that necessitated a center back seam. I made a 40. I should have made a 38.

My first version is black and I made that Sunday night in maybe two hours from trace to sew. For the second go round, it literally took me less than an hour to make. In fact, I made it before going to work on Monday morning. I widened the bicep by about an inch and lengthened the sleeve another inch. I really wanted that exaggerated cuff. This rayon knit is from PR Weekend in Montreal. I *almost* gave it to Trena because I couldn’t quite picture me in it and she likes this kind of avocado green. It’s ok, I have other stuff for her :)

To secure the turtleneck, I stitched in the ditch along the two side and back neck seam. I didn’t finish hemming the top. You know I don’t usually bother hemming knits. I might on this one. Depends on if I can find my twin needle anytime soon.

There’s not much more to say. Easy peasy. Simple basic. I’m sure I’ll be making lots of these for years to come.

Pattern Review: BurdaStyle Magazine 4/2008 #107, Trench Jacket

I’m DONE!

Whew.  The jacket is actually pretty straighforward construction. For this, I cut a size 40 and made a 1/2 inch FBA.

I added a center back seam to make my swayback adjustment.

The inside is finished with bias tape which I had to do when my serger died mid construction. But, it’s a beautiful way to finish an unlined jacket.

I made the back facing in the same contrast fabric as the undercollar and reverse of the chest gaurd.

The buttons were from a FabricMart.com bundle. The fabric is from a Michael’s clearance last year or the year before. Total project? Maybe $20?

I don’t know what happened to me, but my handsewn hem is terrible. If this jacket makes it through two weeks of China, I’ll have to even the hem out.

I do like all the topstitching. While cute, this fabric was all wrong for this jacket. It’s a very stiff denim – linen blend. It has no sheen whatsover and no drape. It was like making a jean jacket from canvas. The color is also pretty dull on me too. I’d like to find a summer scarf to spice it up.

I put the chest flap on the wrong side, not that I think it would make too much of a difference. I left off the pockets (made me look hippy) and the button loops. I don’t like this self fabric belt so I wanted the freedom to use a purchased one. I also placed the buttonholes too close to the front edge. My buttons overlap a bit too much.

I leave on Wednesday morning and for the first time in two months, I kind of don’t have anything to sew! I might try and make a sleeping mask. That could be done in an hour, tops. And, maybe an infinity scarf for the plane(s). LOL. I must be crazy.

The other fun thing I did this weekend was go to the drive in movie! Toy Story 3. I don’t know if I can go back to the theater after this.  So much fun!