Posted in sewing

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!

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Posted in sewing

Geometric Sweater Knit Cardigan: Burda Magazine 11/2012

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t usually care much for sewn cardigans. And, when people were getting on board the waterfall cardigan train three years ago, I happily passed.  They don’t have the fitted look I seem to like in hand knit sweaters. But, I fell for the feel of this Burda waterfall cardigan (they call it a waistcoat) when it appeared in the 11/2012 edition (#137 available on the BurdaStyle website for download for $5.40).

They recommended using a lightweight mohair, but I wanted to use this thick and cozy geometric sweater knit from Mood fabrics. This is a non-knitting sewists dream material! Warm and spongy, with amazing recovery.

The pattern though, is a massive, fabric-eating PITA. You see, I purchased two yards of this sweater knit from Mood when it first went up on the site. Then, a few months later, it was 50 percent off of the original $18! I jumped at the chance and bought two more yards so I could make this cardi.

But, I didn’t heed the Burda directions and decided to cut my back on the fold — unlike the single layer layout I was directed to use (2 yards). Of course, this meant that I could only squeeze one  single ‘front’ from the leftovers (2 yards). So, I had to order another two yards of the knit so I could have all three peices.

For those who may be lost, that means it took me six yards and three orders to make one sweater because I’m an idiot. Pieces of it were laid out in my living room for so long, my Chihuahua Linus took to sleeping on it.

The pattern and sewing are fairly simple at 1.5 dots. I made zero alterations for fit and sewed a 40 to allow for my bust and my lack of adjustments for my wide lower thighs. I also didn’t match the motifs at the side or front.  To finish the edges, I just serged the edges.

Along the neckline and shoulder seams, I used cotton shirting selvedge  to stablize the seams and prevent stretching.

The fabric is thick, so lots of steams and my  clapper was used to open the seams as flat as possible. I loved my fabric choice. This sweater is WARM!! Office peeps loved it and I’ve worn it all weekend too.

Now, the only problem with using the thicker fabric, is that it’s not flattering at the middle. You can see here that the intergrated collar and scarf is already double once, then doubles again when folded.  If you’re at all self-conscious about thickness at your waist — this isn’t the the waterfall for you. I look about four months preggers from the side.

The tie belt does afford some waist definition, but I’ll be on the lookout for a wide, elastic stretch belt to use instead.

Overall, fabric hog but great pattern and super cozy in a thick knit.

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

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Baby Blue Burda Style Pullover: 11/2012 #124

People. I have a serious problem. I seem to just to REFUSE to acknowledge that I have some little narrow shoulders and need (nay, MUST) start adjusting for them. It’s like how I didn’t do an FBA for ten years.

Allow me to start at the beginning.

This pullover from the November 2012 Burda features a low and wide neckline with cuff sleeves and cuffed waistband. I was drawn to the upstyle casual look of it.

I really liked how the back and front were two different lengths — providing visual interest to something that could otherwise be a bit ordinary.

For this project, I made my usual full bust adjustment and graded from a 38 bust to a 42 at the hips. I really wanted to make sure the pullover wouldn’t ‘cup’ under my tuccas from being too tight.

For this project, I used the last of my $18 a yard Mood Fabrics sweater knits from my October in-store purchase of three. The other similar sweater knit projects became my marine wool dress and an autumnal sweater. I *love* pastel blue. I seriously have over 20 pastel / baby blue nail polishes. I should be ashamed. But, I am not.

Which brings us back to my shoulders. On the model below, you can see that the shoulder seam hangs over her shoulder. I guess that’s fine. But, combined with my narrow shoulders, I find the entire neckline too wide  by about one inch and would have happily taken a 1/2 to 1 inch more fabric toward my neck. Oh, also, the pattern says to use binding or something on the neckline. I just stablised with interfacing, finished with my serger and did a turn and topstitch for the neckline.

See how her sleeve is is hanging down from the shoulder a bit? I didn’t stretch out the shoulders by using some bias interfacing along the entire armscye, staytape on the shoulder line and interfacing on the once turned in neckline.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with this simple top. I’d like to make more in ‘regular’ sweatshirt fabric or even a wool jersey. It would also make a great summer top in a thin knit or silk jersey. It works well with jeans and leggings. I can be casual, but with a nice twist.

In my mind, Liz and  I were going to recreate the editorial photo with my bike. But, it was so bitterly cold when I completed the top, that we looked for a cozy indoor spot instead 🙂

I still have the long promised cardigan to finish and post. Things have been so hectic lately!

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

Posted in sewing

Burda Magazine 9/2012 #104: Superlong Turtleneck

I may never be able to leave my job if I lose Liz as my new photographer. Or I’ll have to take her with me.

Are you ready for some basics? I saw this Burda Magazine turleneck on Sew Skate Read  from September 2012   in an awesome stripey knit and decided I needed a few in my life. So, into  the ye-old-stash I went for my two versions (one black and and a stripey grey and black).

I wanted these tunic-style turtlenecks for transitioning my clothes into winter and comfy weekends in leggings. Plus, I’m visiting Ann Arbor, Michigan in February and am already DREADING the ten degree temp difference from Baltimore. I need all the layers I can get!

Alterations: Dartless FBA (One inch width, 3/4 inch length)  and a swayback adjustment. I have *got* to start shortening my shoulders on a regular basis. These are both too long by 1/2 inch in the shoulder.

These are so simple I’m really just showing them to keep a record for myself of what I’ve made and to show you the difference fabric can make.

This grey is another sweater knit that feels the same as my Purple Friday side gather top. Oh! I now know where the fabric comes from!! I bought it in Montreal during PR Weekend three years ago. I didn’t remember it because I was over my weight limit baggage wise and sent it home with my mother. From my post back then,

I bought so much, that I had to split the haul with the Colonel. I sent her back to Tampa with several sweater knits that I know I won’t be working with this summer

I didn’t get it back for another two years 🙂 So, I’d kind of forgotten about it. That purple and these two knits are all from Montreal.

Because the grey has a lot of stretch and a loose weave, it’s super scrunchy in the neck. The sleeves as drafted are supposed to be 1 1/4 inch longer than usual.


I never wear all black. I felt like a mime or a beatnik, LOL.

The black is a sturdy rayon double knit. I think I planned some kind of form fitting dress originally. But, as I was sewing, I regretted not using the material for leggings. It would have been perfect!

I’ve got a little pooling at the back waist. While I did slice and dice my way to a swayback adjustment, I decided to still cut on the fold to see the difference it made. Better than RTW, but more fitted with a center back seam.

While long, the turtlenecks work well both on their own and layered under other garments.  The other pattern version in the September issue is three inches shorter. I would make that version if you don’t see yourself wearing these over skinny pants.

Here’s how I layered them this week:

This dress has been worn like three times since I made it. I was sewn in 2011 from Burda Magazine 10/2009 #119. I was never really happy with it. I hate the way it flares out on the sides. My first version was much better.

My trusty tuxedo pants! These get worn weekly when the temps drop. The blazer was (funnily enough) also purchased in Montreal during PR Weekend from H&M.

First posted project of 2013 🙂

Posted in sewing

Burda Magazine 9/2012 #130: Purple Friday Side Gather Pullover

Folks, this is the last of my Purple Friday Posts for this football season! The Ravens had an amazing game against the Giants last week and are AFC North champions (I only have a vague idea about what that means). I’m told we’re in the playoffs. I’m sure someone at work will clarify for me…

I needed one more winter Purple Friday garment for work. Also, I think purple is a lovely Christmas color, no? I’m posing in front of the outdoors Christmas tree at my office building. Liz, my friend and colleague, is my photog today and she *rocked* it. I didn’t have to retouch a single picture and only cropped like two of them.  I don’t want to be obviously self-indulgent and post *all* of the amazeball photos. But, if you want to see them, you can click here and I can maintain the pretense of modesty.

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This little pullover from the September 2012 Burda Magazine is kind of perfect (available for download on BurdaStyle.com) . I like the gentle drape of the slight cowl. I looooove longer sleeves. I support any top that I can wear over leggings / jeggings and cover my bum and distract from my thighs.

I sewed a 38 and did not grade up for my hips. I did make a one inch dartless FBA and I think the fit is spot on. And, of course I made my usual swayback adjustment. Looks like I could have taken a ‘smidge’ more there too.

Any other changes? Well, I think the elastic length called for (or the braided elastic I used) needs to be shortened. When I first sewed the side seam elastic is wasn’t really gathering much and providing the shape I wanted. So, I shortend it by about five inches.

I took about two inches of the elastic on the sleeves too. I haven’t a clue where this sweater knit came from. I have some vague memory of it. But, that’s it. Just a vague memory. It was discovered in the great fabric-move-to-higher-ground so Superstorm Sandy doesn’t get it. I can happily see this top in other fabric iterations including a burnout / see through jersey layered over a tank.  When I first tried on the finished top, I also thought it would be *great* as a ballet / yoga top.

Speaking of tank tops. In the editorial, the model is wearing one. I found the neck opening a bit wide and adjusted the shoulder seam by about 1/2 inch on each side. This does impact the drape slightly, but not much. I also think the shoulders are long for me. But, most shoulders  are. I just never think to measure and adjust.

I’m not even sure of the content of the sweater knit. But, it’s cozy and will be great this winter. But, because I’m perennially cold (Carribbean parentage!), I’ll also be pairing it with this blazer.


(I should have rolled my sleeves down. And, this is my first time in five years wearing jeans to the office. But, it’s a holiday week and a Friday)

Likey? It’s an exact copy of a beloved J.Crew blazer from college. My mom had this version made for me in Korea about six to eight years ago. The original was beige and while it still fit, it was showing it’s age and looked dingy. So, I sent it to my mom and she had it remade in Korea. I loves it. I guess the tailors did too, because they didn’t give her back the blazer!

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas with family and friends! I was sick like a dog with a wicked cold. My mom is arguing with me that it was the flu. Somehow her 40+ years as a nurse tells her that, lol!  I spent a big chunk of my mini-break in bed instead of sewing. But, Christmas Day I ws better and had a low-stress and lovely time. I saw Le Mis, ate sushi for dinner and latkes for breakfast. I think 2012 is going down as my best Christmas ever. Well, except the year I got a Speak and Spell. That was pretty awesome.