Burda Magazine 2-2009-124: The Officiant Dress

Here’s the happy couple!!

Saturday night I officiated my friend’s wedding. It was beautiful! Her dress was amazing. Like, seriously, amazing.

Not only did I finish my dress on time, I had several people tell me how well the dress colors fit into her plum and grey wedding. Since there was a large NYC / PR / fashion contingency, I was asked a few times if I was a designer. Well, first they asked if I had a theater background and then when they found out I made my dress, they asked I was a designer. It’s so funny how it just doesn’t occur to people that you might sew for *fun*.

I went back to my celebrant dress (Burda 2-2009-124) last Friday night. I don’t know why I was so unhappy with it. I’m not sure if the style isn’t me or it just wasn’t what I wanted to be sewing, but the only thing I liked was the beautiful Carolina Herrera poly jacquard from Mood Fabrics (seemingly backordered / sold out since my August purchase) . I sewed a 40 on top grading to the largest size on the bottom. Fundamentally, I realize I just sewed a dress that was too big for me. I should have made a 38 grading to a 42.

After sleeping on it, I decided:

  • to peg the hem and taper the bottom for a very narrow pencil, while adding a slit for walking ease
  • to release one inch (total) on each side at my saddle bags to rid myself of drag lines across my thighs
  • take  in one inch from each side of the waist — hoping to eliminate some of the ‘block’ look I was getting.
  • taper the shoulders by taking out two inches at the neckline and blending into the original seam line at the shoulder.

Sigh. Yeah. I’ve been slacking off in the gym and my mental state reflected this as I was sewing. I just thought the original was boxy on me and I looked like a shiny present. This though, this is better. My shoes were ordered from Zappos days before the wedding. I wanted silver to dress up the outfit, and I took some flats with me too. I cannot wear four-inch heels for six hours :) That being said, I bought them in a size 9 and by the end of the night they were a 9.5. I’m thinking of reselling them on eBay.

My friend Julia came as my date…

It’s so interesting to see the colors of the dress shifting depending on the lighting.

 

…and my mom flew in from Florida to watch me officiate.

 

And now, it’s all over! I’m so glad I stuck it out with the pattern and despite early reservations, the material was *perfect*. Gah. I’m so happy I got to pick it out in person at Mood when I was in NYC. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

The venue was the George Peabody Library here in Baltimore. My friend told me when she was my intern 12 years ago that she was getting married here. Over the years, I managed to stay on her running guest list. I never imagined I would be up front marrying her to the perfect man for her.

Here’s a photo of the library (image from Conde Nast Traveler)

I’m not in these, but here’s a Facebook sneak peak of the wedding photos from the very talented photographer. Does it sound dumb when I tell you I didn’t realize I’d be part of the posed photos? LOL! Seriously. It didn’t occur to me. The photographer even noticed my color coordination.

It was such an honor to be part of a gorgeous ceremony with two of my favorite people.

McCalls 6279: Denim Trench Dress

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.

Butterick 5522: Navy and Lime Tina Turk

When I posted about my original red and camel version of Butterick 5522 back in January, Shirley commented that she had a similar dress in navy blue and lime green in the 70s.

I LOVED the color combo idea and quickly bought two navy rayon double knits from FabricMart. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to get a hold of lime green. Everyone was sold out! Luckily, Patti F. came to the rescue and tracked some down, special ordered it and I was able to get two yards for myself.

The weather here has been nutty. Cold-to-warm-to-cold- to allegedly mid 80s by the weekend again. This may be the last day that I can squeeze this in before it warms up. Considering it’s my only fabric purchase so far this year, I really wanted to make sure it was sewn up as soon as possible. The biggest difference between my two versions is the material. My original is a super stable double knit poly. This is a rayon. The rayon is much looser in weave and the fit is more flowey.  I think, with all the curves, I’d prefer something a bit more stable — especially if you’re new to sewing curves.

Since it’s a hair longer than the first, I feel comfortable wearing it to work. I prefer the look of the shorter version on me, but wasn’t comfortable wearing it to work (not that I didn’t!).

This length and color are much more work appropriate.  I wore it Monday to a press conference at Fort McHenry*cough* Now is my time to remind you that Baltimore is the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner, the National Anthem of the US.  And, according to this morning’s announcement, home of the two best known symbols of America (anthem / flag) *cough*

I’m glad I wore it today too because we were outdoor and it was *cold*! Try standing around for an hour. Brrrrr. Our staff photog was kind enough to take these outdoor photos of me. I’m wearing my tweed ride cape from October! Never thought I would get this much wear out of it. But, it’s a great piece and one of those things everyone loves when you put it on.

My serger was operational this time around too, so I used it for all construction steps. The dress just took a couple of hours to make.  All the alterations had been made and I knew the steps. Hmmm, I also see my shoulder in this are way long. I’m going to change the pattern a bit by taking away some of the width of the neckline and shortening the shoulder. I have narrow shoulders. I just tend to ignore them :-)

If you’re wondering about the sexy hand brace above. It’s my tendonitis which I usually manage pretty well. But, my next project is out of denim and it did a NUMBER on my hand in the cutting. Between that and yard work this weekend, I haven’t taken the brace off since Saturday and was popping ibuprofen like candy. Pooh.

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.

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

** 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!

Simplicity 3882, Not once. But, twice.

This is just the kind of dress I said I wasn’t going to sew this year! It’s a throw away dress needed in a pinch. It’s knit when I’ve been trying to sew more wovens. It’s casual and I’ve wanted to be more chic. It’s a bright and bold pritn and I’ve been trying to incorporate more solids. It’s a dress and I need more separates. I told myself I was going to sew more complicated garments instead of just trying to stock my closet. This dress took me less than two hours to sew and I have got to say, “I am so glad I can sew!!”

You see my friends, I have no “hang out clothes”. I solely focus on work garments.  Now, I have clothes I can meet you after work in. I can meet you for cocktails or dinner even. I can meet your parents. I can go to the museum or theater with you. I can go to church and attend a wedding. But, again, I have no ‘run around clothes’. I don’t have a thing that  can be worn to a football game at your house.

Yes, yes. There are jeans. But, I have some thick thighs and look 10 pounds heavier in jeans and try not to wear them all that often. Last month I had this dilema. I needed a “Farmer’s Market on a Sunday” outfit. What did I do? I Dropped $32 at H&M for the tunic above to wear with jeggings. The second time I wore that tunic was two weeks later on a Saturday morning coffee date. The third time I wore that tunic was later that week to a Thursday night free outdoor concert. Do you sense a theme here? I have no casual clothes.

Friday night came around and I needed something to wear on a Saturday night to watch football. I decided to go back to Simplicity 3882 made in 2007.


(Simplicity 3882 in 2007. Clearly, me at my thinnest. Ever.)

I remade the dress from the remnants of this Simplicity 3503 maxi dress. In this version, I cut the elastics all about 4 inches shorter than recommended and made a dartless 3/4 inch FBA.

So, I pulled it off! I had a new dress in short order and managed to eek the last of summer of out of my sewing.

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: Burda 6/2010 #123: Silk Jersey Sack Dress

Remember my obsession with this BCBG huge red, white and blue plaid print?

Well, I found a gorgeous plaid silk jersey in two colorways at A Fabric Place / Michael’s Fabric.  I knew as soon as I saw it I was powerless to resist.

Even on sale, I could only spring for two yards of each cut. This was my first time sewing with silk jersey. My serger didn’t like it. My sewing machine didn’t really like it. I wish I could sew a stretch stitch using a straight stitch foot and plate. That, would be ideal.

The pattern is Burda Magazine 6-2010-123. It’s such a wonderfully fast sew! I made it in two nights after work. So, let’s say four hours (at most). I am pretty proud of the plaid matching done on this dress. I am usually dead nervous about using plaids. I *adore* plaids. Seriously. Love everything about them. But, the matching = hives. I have several plaids for blouses that I’ve avoided making up because I start sweating at the thought of matching.

I chose this dress because it had few seams and would not be a fabric hog.

I did add one to center back to make my usual swayback adjustment.

The pattern calls for bias strips to finish the neckline. I could not be bothered. I just turned under and used my twin needles

Based on a previous version I made (Haven’t posted yet. Wearing to a party tomrrow night) I added two inches in length to make this office appropriate.

All the shaping from this dress comes from the belt. The dress is essentially a sack.

I ADORE this dress. It’s fun, sexy, and perfect for summer. But, I must warn you. I do not have the same firmness I once did and have to wear a slip with this dress. If not, it looks like squirrels are doing battle behind me when I walk.

The only problem with the plaid (and this is just apparent in photos) is that your eye has something to to ‘level’ on. So, with the blousooning, the dress can look a wee off kilter.

Overall, I’m happy. I did have several people at work say I should have worn this version for the Friday night party. But, I didn’t want to get my new silk jersey dress all yucky quite yet.

Sometimes Purple, Sometimes Cranberry Pleated Dress: Burda Magazine 10-2009 #119

I don’t know what happened to me. This dress has just needed hemming for the last four weeks. It sat on my dressform. It sat on my ironing board. It sat on the floor. It sat everywhere but my sewing machine. Perhaps it was the bow tie business. After making the ones for work, I had an order for three. Maybe it was the pants business. I decided I wanted some black ones and muslined not once, not twice but SEVEN times. Seven times for me to still have wrinkles in my seat and a big fat bottom half. But, more on that later. It was actually a blessed relief to return to this dress on Sunday.

This is my second go round with Burda 10-2009-119 . I first made it in January 2010. I wore it consistently but shrank it in a vigorous wash over the summer. Sadly, I’m not in love with this version as I was with the first.

I started this dress over the MLK weekend. The first stretch wool version was so snug around my chest it was tough to wear with a turtleneck. Well, this time I added a full inch for a FBA.

In addition, I sewed my non-stretch woven with an extra 1/2 inch at the seams. And because the sewing fairies have jokes, it came out huge. I went back in and took in the sides by everything I added and then some. But, there is just something off about the proportions. This dress could almost use a tuck in the waist so the skirt is level and the sides swing inward. Now, the sides are very curvy, wide and off grain. This makes them swing outward makes me look hippier  than I (think) I am. You can see what I mean here on the bottom right of the skirt.

Both the fabric and lining are from the Carol Collection. The Carol Collection has been a goldmine of solid bold colors for me. Again, I wouldn’t normally pick out this cranberry, but me likey.  Unlike last time, I managed to press my pleats through the front.

I’m also still on my combination facing / lining kick and did the same here.

I finished the dress with my machine’s blind hem.

I’m fine with the dress. Not disappointed enough to fix it. But, very curious about how it behaved so differently.  There are three more former dresses I would like to recreate this year.  This includes the notched collar dress, the Sherlock Holmes dress and the knit jumper.