Burda Magazine 5-2011-111: Purple Friday Wool Tunic

I’m on to my second Purple Friday ensemble for this football season. Hey there Oona… how about that game on Sunday?

In Baltimore, we wear purple for our American football team the Baltimore Ravens on Fridays. Why? Well, they mostly play on Sunday and Purple Fridaysare a way to show pride and support in the team. Did I mention my house is right behind the old Memorial Stadium?

Every Friday of football season is PURPLE FRIDAY!!!! Proudly wear your purple to work or school to support the Ravens! — Ravenstown

This is the true color of the dress

I wanted to make a simple shift for Purple Fridays that could also be worn on the weekend during winter. I want more casual clothes   that look nice and not ‘I rolled out of bed and threw on yoga pants’.

I started the shift dress from the May 2011 Burda Magazine during Superstorm Sandy. It was a simple project that I could complete in a day. And, I did. A few hours actually.

But, I’m salty about the fit with those fold lines under my bust. I’m not sure if the need for an FBA would solve the problems.  I know it’s a another sack dress but the folds are A-nnoying. Maybe one fold for each 1/4 inch I should have adjusted for?

I asked a few friends that are smaller up top to try on and the folds go away.

Here on Trena (obviously three sizes too big for her too) and below on my B Cup dress form.

I decided to forgo the facings and use a woven bias binding. This is my first time doing this kind of finishing technique on a woven and I’m really pleased. I also like leather and contrast bindings I see on RTW and now I have a good way of doing them consisently well.

The material is a wool in a violet shade of purple from the Carol Collection. I originally thought I’d make a skirt in the fabric but Purple Friday called and I thought this shift would be fun.

Oh, here’s a photo of the back. I omitted the ties (and the pockets). I can kind of picture metal chains instead. Hmm, maybe a T-back shirt in black too (my bra definitely shows without). Ooh, a lacy T-back would be hot.

I’m wearing the dress with leggings. It’s too short for me as drafted to wear with pantyhose.  I’ve already altered the paper pattern for a FBA and a swayback adjustment. Why didn’t I when I started? I thought it just wouldn’t matter🙂

The dress looks pretty good in movement and I think it works well with the leggings and boots. It’s fun because the front is simple and all the interest in really in the back. It is just the look I wanted. Casual, but styled.

My immediate boss was a fan. She said I was dressing rather chic lately. I realized after she said so that she never wears prints and for work only wears black, navy and sometimes white. Her clothes are very tailored and architectural. She also specializes in large earrings and big jewelry. I like her style.  I wouldn’t say this was chic exactly. But, very minimalist. I have about three garments she’s really complimented. Hmmm, that might make an interesting post!

I think I’m going to make two more Purple Friday items. That let’s me get through a month without repeating.


I hope you (Americans) have a Happy Thanksgiving! I’m not going to see my parents this year (Can you say $600 tickets!?!?!) and I’m a little pouty about it. But, as I detest traveling on the holidays (chaos and stress) there is a silver lining to hanging out with local friends. Plus, I get to put my new *pink* Christmas tree up as soon as I digest my Thanksgiving dinner🙂

Vogue 1252: Tracy Reese Ruched Leopard Print Dress

Tadaa!! It’s finally done, Vogue 1252: the Tracy Reese Ruched Dress. While I still have a little Golden Girls vibe from the animal print, once I added the skirt, I started to like it a lot more. I found myself having to just walk away several times in order not to give up on this pattern.

Issues: As Amanda pointed out, this dress has no negative ease built in to the outer fashion fabric. I had to take a total of six inches out of the bodice to get a ruched look.

And, I still don’t think it’s ruched enough at the front since I only took out two inches from the front bodice vs four inches in the back.

Also, I didn’t make a FBA — which I could use. Paticularly in the drape. Some extra length and width there would make it lay the way I want (all the way across the boobage).

When you sew this dress, you’ll notice that the lining needs to be stable because it must carry the weight of the very full four-panel skirt and support the ruching of the bodice.

I decided to skip the elastic at the skirt waist casing. Well, I didn’t decide. I forgot about it during construction. The dress is snug  enough at the waist without it. But, I’d likely take in the waist another inch or two if I were sewing again. I think this cut (or maybe the gathered skirt) makes my waist look a little thicker. This might be better suited to someone who is not as well defined in the middle.

I also messed up by sewing in the bodice lining before the skirt lining. I had no interest in taking it off to add the skirt lining so I just left it out. I do like the clean finish the lining provides. I never really think about linings on a knit. I will now.

At first I thought I put the pockets in the wrong place. As drafted, they are in the front skirt seam instead of the side seam.

So, why is it impossible to find a non-seperating 20 inch zipper with aluminum teeth that’s not custom? My friend’s roommate makes felted wool bags (available here). He had a roll of aluminum zipper teeth on black tape and he cut one for me to my specs for $4. That’s what it would have cost to order online special – minus the $8.95 shipping. Oh, the zipper was also waaaay shorter than the opening the pattern called for.  Not sure if this is a pattern error or how you sew a vaguely exposed zipper. I confess to not reading the directions on inserting the zipper.

This dress is so far outside of my comfort zone in this animal print. I have many reasons for not loving animal prints, all are nitpicky and solely my issues. But, I’m glad I went with it for this. The fabric was a G Street / Groupon special and I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. I do think I had this dress in mind when I purchased. And, of all the animal prints, this one seemed not so bad.

My dress was wildly popular in the office Wednesday. The women where I work are snazzy dressers. If totally get extra credit for making my own clothes. If I didn’t, I’d be considered one of the least interesting dressers at my job. My big boss is trying to talk me in to giving this dress to her. She loves an animal print.

As much as I like this dress and as good as I think it looks. I don’t think I can recommend this pattern. I love it. But it needs a lot of tweaking to work. The tweaking is in part based on the amount of stretch your material has. But, maybe the trick is to start by sizing down one or two sizes. If you’re patient, go for it. If you are not patient, leave it alone.

** It was 34 degrees this morning. I’m not ready for winter! So, I’m starting early with the indoor photography. I want to get better at getting the coloring (well… my coloring) right. I really need to check out an external flash and some classes.

Vogue 8825: Royal Blue and Gold Silk Jersey

After my Purple Friday dress, it feels great to return to my bold and graphic print roots!


But, let me tell you. This was the slowest silk sewing, evah. Let me splain you.


I first saw this silk jersey material in store at Mood Fabrics back in August. I hemmed and hawed and finally placed a phone order in October (now sold out).  I loved the blue and gold because they are my sorority colors and I knew I could get some good wear out of it during graduate chapter and regional meetings. Since the silk was just 45″ wide, I bought five yards at $25 a yard. I seriously debated the investment (hence the two month wait to purchase). But, both Trena and Liz pointed out a similar RTW dress would easily be twice as much.


This is my second time sewing with silk jersey. This Prarie NY silk jersey presented some new challenges for me. The fabric was ‘tough’ in that even when pinning, I had trouble penetrating the material. I knew silk was strong (silk thread for buttonholes, silk organza for stablising, etc.). But, my serger  just wanted to eat this material. I tried both stretch and ball point needles and my overlocker was having none of it. My sewing machine was punching holes through the jersey I wanted to cry. I think I may have a little.

I posted on Facebook and had some superhelpful responses. I went out and bought microtex and titanium needles upon the suggestions of the Interwebs. Both sewed through the silk like a knife through butter. It’s my first time experiencing this challange. But, again, only my second time with silk jersey.


I did a little handtacking of the collar to keep it in place. In a similar dress to this from Burda, there is interfacing throughout the facing and collar. I think this is a better way to stabilise the front.Photobucket

I took two inches off the bottom and decided not to ‘finish’ the hem. I made my usual alterations of a slight FBA and a big swayback adjustment. I sewed a 12 and the fit seems to be good. I am very self conscious about my lower thighs (saddlebags), so a slip is needed for me when I wear this dress.  Photobucket

The puzzle print is pretty bold. And, for a hot second I thought about trying to match the motif. But, decided not to bother.


There is some mirroring on the upper back. Trust me, I can live with it.


The skirt could probably be cut on the fold, but for my swayback adjustment purposes, I like a center back seam.

If you see my cuffs, they are folded under toward the inside. On PatternReview.com I read some people took length out of the sleeves.


I thought the length of the sleeve was fine, but the cuff wide for my taste. So, I’m folding it back.

Have I mentioned my mom *hates* sashes on me? She calls them ‘that fabric in front of you hanging from your waist’. HAHAHA! She cracks me up.


Overall, I’m thrilled. This dress is *so* me.  It’s body conscious without being tarty, the bold print, the shape of the skirt, the full sleeves. The silk. Man, the silk. I want to have a work week of silk jersey dresses. It’s so luxe.  I love that I’m wearing a dress that would start at retail around $300.  Absolutely worth the investment.

The material for this dress was purchased in part using an allowance from Mood Fabrics for the Mood Sewing Network.

Purple Fridays: Simplicity 2568

In Baltimore, we wear purple for our American football team the Baltimore Ravens on Fridays. Why? Well, they mostly play on Sunday and Purple Fridays are a way to show pride and support in the team. Did I mention my house is right behind the old Memorial Stadium?

Every Friday of football season is PURPLE FRIDAY!!!! Proudly wear your purple to work or school to support the Ravens! — Ravenstown


I get called out on my lack of purple during football season. It’s really almost embarrassing in my particular office. I promised myself this was the year I’d have my Purple Friday dress. And, just like it was meant to be, Mood Fabrics sent me this aubergine double twill as a sample of the fall season. And, as you can see, fall is here. Someone should rake these leaves *cough*.

Yes, double twill cotton. The material is 100 percent cotton and very dense. It would make a great jacket, or a mod like dress with structure (oh, you know, like this one…). I’ve never sewn or seen anything like this before. But, it pre-washed well (and lightened a bit in color) and sews in the awesome way that natural fibers do.


I was unsure what to make with the material and decided to paw through my pattern stash. I stumbled across Simplicity 2568 and declared View B “perfect”. I was really worried this dress would be shapeless on me. But, I think it’s flattering and the fabric is perfect!

Because the material is prone to fraying, I did serge every single piece.


I went with black and golden brass zippers to stay with the Baltimore Ravens theme.


The pockets sew into the side seam. So, if you are grading the skirt out at all, make sure you make the same alteration to the pocket. Ask me how I know…


Yo! First time with an exposed zipper! The great thing about this material is it was able to support a pretty substantial zipper.


Because of the stiffer hand, I didn’t need interfacing in the collar like the pattern suggested. It also doesn’t wrinkle much despite being 100 percent cotton.

I love this dress! I got a dozen compliments the first time I wore it to the office. Because it’s cotton I can wear it during the summer. But, because it’s a nice dense cotton, it’s also fall appropriate.


I do not play. Purple dress. Purple eye shadow. Purple glasses.

So, there’s my first Purple Friday Dress. I have a second one planned (about three garments from now) in an amazing stretch wool I got last weekend at Mood.


Go Ravens!

The material for this dress was purchased from Mood Fabrics using an allowance provided to me by the Mood Sewing Network

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.