Posted in sewing

Wedding Officiant

In my last post I mentioned a September wedding I was attending and wanting to make this little peplum number to wear.

The wedding is for my former intern and now good friend who is an uber fabulous, super successful publicist in New York. I planned to attend as a guest. Well, Tuesday night she called and asked if I would consider officiating her wedding. Did you hear that?

Officiate. The Wedding.

I am so thrilled to be asked and could not be happier to be such a special part of their day. I’m glad I have a few months to get used to the idea so I won’t cry at the podium! After accepting and making sure she wanted me to do it, my second question was ‘What should I wear’?

Consultation with Trena says I should go simple and dark for the ceremony and fun and free for the reception.  My mom reminded me that black isn’t my best color… this is quite true. The mothers of the bride and groom are wearing navy and the bridesmaids are in gray.  I was thinking gray… but I don’t want to look like I am a failed / wanna be member of the wedding party. I’m thinking blue grey / pastel blue?

I’ve never been to a wedding where the officiant wasn’t 1. male 2. a minister (I could have just written ‘man-of-the-cloth’, no?).

I could still go with the dress above, but use a deeper color:


I also can’t get lacy Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge ideas out of my head:


So, what would you wear if you were officiating a wedding? Not in a church. Multi-denominational. Don’t want all the photos of the vows to have me ‘pop’ either. Long? Short? Sleeveless ok? More formal? Super super simple? Decisions, decisions…

Posted in sewing

Beating a Dead Horse: Burda Website

I try to refrain from the Burda bashing. I still love the magazine and find enough patterns that make it worth the annual expense . But, I hate the new sheets and was SALTY about the merging of the English website with BurdaStyle. Well, Burda has upped the ante by converting the old Russian and French sites to the format.

Let me explain. I don’t read Russian. But, the Italian website was close enough to Spanish that I could muddle through for previews of the magazine and most importantly the photo/ community forum. The forum and website platform were across multiple languages. It was great because the Russian women sew the hell out of Burda with AMAZING results. It’s where I got a lot of my inspiration and was really the best place to see a lot of Burda patterns sewn up. Plus, the modeling of the photos is SERIOUS.  Despite the different languages, the site’s database was the same so I could see photos from everyone (Russian) while on the Italian site.

Well, now with the new site(s) they are all independent. So, I can’t use the Italian site to see what the Russian women are up to. So, with a little help from my Ukrainian friend Anya, I am up on the Russian site and I’m bitter.  I’m bitter because it’s a PITA for me to muddle through it even with Google Translate. But, I’m REALLY bitter because the Russian site is just what I hoped the English Burdastyle would be. Let’s take a gander, shall we?

Conveniently, they both have a posting of the same pattern, 7/2011 #140. A peplum dress I’m actually considering making for a fall wedding. I’m not sure if it will read Mother-of-the-Bride since I’m a good 10 years older than the average friend of the bride 🙂

Above is the Russian site. See the red box? Those are hyperlinks to both the magazine edition and the pattern on the site. Please note the English is via Google translate 🙂

On the Russian site, you get the dress and are able to comment. But, best of all, they link you back to the pattern with the line drawing *and* link other versions of the dress uploaded. The old Burda didn’t do that and the current Burdastyle in English doesn’t either.

The English site (above)  only lets you do this if you have done a pattern that was downloadable.

Look at this too. On the Russian site, you can search by type of pattern and the patterns go back to 2007. Do you know how long I have dreamed of a pattern index for Burda magazine? I have 10 years worth of them!

Sigh. The English Burdastyle is still not my thing. I get that they started off open source and it looks like they are trying to be more like the magazine now. But, they only have the patterns that are for sale. And no links to the actual magazine. But, it’s just not what I need from them yet. If you have the patience to muddle through the language, I recommend the Russian and Italian sites. The Russian site has WAY more traffic and many many great models of the clothes in the magazines.

Posted in sewing

Burda Magazine 11-2011-124: Captain’s Ball Gown

Even after my hectic week, I still managed to get my Captain’s Ball dress sewn. I didn’t take photos at the ball and was hoping our photographer would come through. Here are some from my house just before I left. I swear our photog is psychic. I give up waiting and the photos appear in my inbox, LOL.

How do I feel about it? I would never sew this dress again. It came out fine. Even beautiful. But, for me, the draft was fraught with pain-in-my-ass. The main problem was the bodice length. The straps didn’t situate well on me and required lots of futzing to get them to work. I don’t know if I cut off grain or it’s a design flaw. It’s possible this could have been alleviated with a muslin, but if I had muslined, I never would have bothered to finish this dress.

Also, I kind of felt like I was wearing a second-wedding wedding dress, LOL. I do LOVE that I was in silver. There was a lot of navy blue and black that night.

Initial Alterations: 1/2 FBA and 1.0 inch swayback adjustment.

  • I took about 1.5 inches of length out of each shoulder
  • 1.5 inches in width taken out of the straps
  • 1/2 inch scooped out from armscye
  • Raised the center front by 1 inch
  • Took in upper center back by 1/2 inch (to help keep straps up)
  • Shortened hem by 1.5 inches (so I could, you know, walk)

All this to get the dress to stay on my shoulders. This NEVER happens to me and Burda! Now that the tech is out of the way, let’s talk about the dress.

The fabric is silver silk taffeta underlined in silk organza in the front and bodice and cotton batiste for the back skirt and godet. This served two purposes. It provided the dress with stability, especially given the weight of the godet and helped minimize wrinkling.

You can see in this photo that the silk has little plaid patterns on it. They are so subtle I didn’t need to match. And, if they did need to match, it wouldn’t have mattered because I didn’t have enough material!

The dress uses starburst pleats for interset. Sadly, not interesting enough for me! By the time I pulled all the extra length out of the top shoulders, the starbust effect was all but gone from the bodice. That, and there wasn’t a lot of room / shaping in the bust so my boobage is kind of just squished and there. Because of the underlining, everything was so thick that the seamline was also not very attractive. I called Trena via Skype and she suggested adding something to the seam line like a belt or pin. I remembered this pin that came with a coat I once owned. Brilliant. Everyone needs a friend who sews. Everyone.

The godet is a beautiful element. But, I do not think any this did much for my backside. The weight of the godet pulls the dress down at center back. And, I have a huge butt. My dress could have been more fitted at back waist. Below, you can see what I mean about the weight of the godet….

If you decide to make this dress, note that the underside of the godet will show. And, since I underlined my dress with white cotton batiste and it would be dragging on the ground (getting dirty) I knew I had to line to the hem of the godet. The original just has a knee length lining. So, to line the dress, I sewed the bottom hems together (right sides together) for a clean finish. I turned it out through a lining opening in the godet.

The dress was VERY popular at the Captain’s Ball! But, I think that’s because everyone knew I was going to be sewing to the wire. It was more of the ‘I can’t beleive you made a formal’ vs ‘that dress is amazing’.

Here you can see the lining / underside of the godet showing

And, I spent so much time focused on whether or not I’d have a dress, that I didn’t think through my accessories. It made me realize I don’t own a formal bag (I always borrow). My shoes are just something I wear in the summer (I figured they wouldn’t be seen) and I pulled out my Princess Diana ring and necklace with my every day CZ studs. LOL. For real. I put no thought in to it.

My friend Liz brought a little hair clip for me so I could rock a Billy Holliday look the rest of the night.

Overall, I am glad I got it done. I’m proud I made it myself. I’m *really* happy the fabric was $5 a yard and already in the stash and the lining was $40. My dress looked expensive. That makes this $65 silk formal with crazy structure that I couldn’t buy off the rack. And, in the end we made it work.

Don’t I have the most attractive friends? We are the United Colors of Benetton of our office.

Posted in sewing

Star Spangled Sailabration Outfits

So, my crazy work week is over! And, all my nautical sewing and clothing paid off.

The 39 ships and the the 3000+ sailors that came with them leave Baltimore on Tuesday. We had ships from the US, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Indonesia, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Norway, and Japan are leaving on Tuesday. Now, I may be an Army brat, but men in white are a beautiful sight.

I don’t do Me Made Months. But, I’m going to do a mini Sail-A-Brate Good Times clothing post. I planned to wear red, white and blue all week. Partly out of patriotism but also because it was fun to find ways to dress without looking like a flag. In addition, it was also fun to have people at the office kind of ‘waiting’ to see what you came up with next. There are a few outfits I didn’t get photos of, but here is some of what I wore.

While it may not seem like it, I was actually working, LOL. I was on a planning committee for the event overall and the reception invites came to the office. Someone had to go and I decided that someone was gonna be me 🙂

Day 1 was the the Welcome Ceremony and I wore my Jason Wu for Target dress. This dress had been burning a hole in my closet waiting to be worn. But, in truth, I almost had a wardrobe malfunction. I was on stage a bunch with this dress and it was windy. The combo of a full skirt and wind made me use the program to keep things appropriate.

That night I attended a on-board reception for Brazil in a black H&M dress. They served one of my favorite drinks, Caipirinhas.  The dress for this evening a black chiffon dress from H&M.  A dress that I paid $15 for because I cleaned the store out of the opening day ‘specials’ when they opened. I have this dress in three colors.

On board the Cisne Branco, Brazilian tall ship

I also went to a reception at On Top of the World Observation Tower, where you have a panoramic view of the City. There were nine tall ships in the Inner Harbor and grey hulls in Canton, Fells Point, Tide Point and Locust Point.

Here I am with other friends at On Top of the World. You can see the dress slightly better. Apprently I didn’t get the memo to wear summer whites, LOL.

Day 2: The next day in the office  I wore my funnel neck red, white and blue tee with my blue drape skirt. Sorry! No photos since we didn’t have events during the day. But, that night for the Japanese, Mexican, and Ecuadorian receptions I wore my denim trench dress.

The Japanese ship is docked outside of the Under Armour campus. They went out of their way and had ‘Welcome’ signs posted in English and Japanese.

The crew of the Kojima (Coast Guard Training vessel) LOVED my buttons and anchor earrings! On board they served fresh sushi and drinks of sake. Plus they did a tea ceremony.

I’m still trying to sort out why their uniforms are cream instead of white…..

From Japan, we went on to to the Cuauhtemoc , Mexico’s tall ship.


They had a tequila bar. Funny how I thought I didn’t like tequila. Turns out, I do.

This server walked around with tequila in his holster. Check out his pant leg!

Little anchors and wheels are embroidered! I didn’t get a shot, but the back of his jacket had an embroidered rendering of the ship. It was stunning.

And, check the back of this real sailors’ pants! They are lace up, just like my sailor pants.

After Mexico, we headed to Ecuador’s ship, the Guayas. There, I was asked several times if I speak Spanish. My response, ‘Enough’.

There, these sailors served rum and cokes from the lifeboats. I also danced a lot on the Guyas. So much traditional dance that my hips were hurting the next day.

Day 3: Saturday night was the Captain’s Ball. I finished my dress! But, that’s another post. I’m really trying to hold out for good photos from our staff photographer. But, as one friend put it it, that’s like waiting for the Tuesday after never.

Day 4: Sunday was the  Blue Angels airshow and I finally got to wear my HP sailor pants with a purchased H&M top.

I will rethink these pants the next time I go someplace where the bathrooms are port-a-potties. These are a lot of buttons in a port-a-potty. A. Lot. In fact, I came out of the john with only the corner buttons done. Liz (above) started to tell me, and I was like, ‘I can’t stand in a stinky, hot, enclosed space and do these up’. Stood right there in the fresh air and finished them up.

Oh, and Linus got in on the action too 🙂 Here he is in his little sailor shirt.

And, lest you think I let my Union Jack design fetish go, I didn’t. I wore this necklace as a bracelet much of the week. And, on Monday I wore my Union Jack rainboots to the 200 years of Peace ceremony. It was a rainy cool day for the outdoor event. So much so, that the UK Ambassador to the US thanked us ‘for the British weather’.  Oh, I also learned these are called ‘Wellies’.


My boss did ask me whose side I was on when she saw these boots. I just said, ‘The right one’.

The ships leave on Tuesday and my work life gets a back to normal. This has been a primary project for me the last 18 months and I’m a little sad it’s over! But, I am *beat*. Mama can’t hang like she used to 🙂

Posted in sewing

Stack o’ Tees: Burda Magazine 4-2011-122

One of the holes I’ve noticed in my closet are ‘dog walking clothes’. I have lots of nice things for work. But, very few things that are casual ‘throw them on’ items. I don’t even own a pair of non-running shorts!

For the Seersucker Social, I went more seersucker than vintage. I knew I wouldn’t have time to make a new outfit. But, I was kind of disappointed in myself. Part of the fun is dressing up! I looked like I was heading to the office.  The skirt is a Burda from June 2009 edition. The top is a new item, from the April 2011 Burda. The fabric is a butte yellow tee shirt knit from PR Weekend in Philly. I did promise myself I would start wearing more yellow!  Once I made up the yellow version, I thought the pattern was good enough to use on some leftover knits.

Red link version from my four year old knit tunic. Fabric originally from Metro textiles in NYC. I would love to do all of these with some contrast binding next time.

Paisley version left over from my four year old maxi dress. Fabric originally from Gorgeous Fabrics and still one of my all-time favorite prints. Yes, the designs are right on my bust point, LOL.

Red/ White / Blue colorway from my HP top from the Carol Collection.

I have a navy blue and black version in mind too. These should go a long way in getting through summer. These shirts were all cut in one evening and I sewed the binding on all in about an hour.

The pattern is definitely better suited for beefier knits. It will help the facings keep the funnel collar shape better.

I omitted the zipper and made a slight FBA. And, no swayback adjustment.

The binding uses this technique from Sarah Veblen posted on the Threads Magazine page. Be patient. Walk away from the computer. The video sometimes takes an eternity to play.

I don’t know that this is ‘stash busting’. But, it’s nice to reach into my drawer and have an easy top to wear. I’ll do this again with another simple pattern with some other shirts soon.

I have really got to work on some shorts or capris now….

Write up on is here.