Bound Buttonholes and Matelassé

matelasse taffeta bound buttonholes

I’m working on another matelassé jacket, and kinda sorta wanted to do bound buttonholes.  I used a crinkle polyester taffeta, stabilized with fusible interfacing, as the contrast binding and the facing on the centre front pieces of the jacket.

crinkle taffeta facing

The matelassé is a gold/olive green/black weave in I guess what you would call a ‘patchwork’ pattern. The gold crinkle taffeta was the best match from my stash.

Vogue 8600 buttonholes

Can I just tell you that I decided to make bound buttonholes after the facing and collar was attached?  I had planned to go the lazy machine-stitched buttonhole route, but after a series of trials on scraps, decided bound buttonholes would look the best.  Instead of a straight-forward set of buttonholes, this became a fiddling-redo-rip-out-redo game, but I’m happy with the results.

What’s the best make-it-unnecessarily-difficult-extra-work decision you’ve ever made on a project?

I hate Elsa

Yup.  You read that correctly.  I hate Elsa.  I hate her because she’s got a dress that is impossible to replicate without doing a full toile with numerous fittings and fussy floaty fabrics that would make the dress an investment, not something to make for your 15-year-old DD2 to wear to school and one party.

McCalls 7000 train

Ugh.  I was truly looking forward to this project.  I love the colours of the dress and the sparkly sequins and snowflakes.  The fabric alone had me excited to pull this one together.  But I well and truly hate this dress.  I hate this dress so much I’m probably going to pull it apart and remake the stupid thing because I’m so disappointed in it.  I don’t think DD2 will wear it again, but at least mom will be happier with it!


I find DD2 is very difficult to fit.  She’s petite, and getting the proportion correct/flattering is always a challenge.  So, needless to say, she always shows up my limits as a dressmaker in the fitting department.  And that frustrates me.  But frustration is good, right?  It means one is pushing through to the next level of mastery.  I measured twice, and cut once, and this is what it fit like at the end of the day. *headdesk*

McCalls 7000 bodice

In my defence,  I couldn’t find any fine stretch mesh or tulle for the upper bodice and sleeves, which would have been ideal.  I plan to go hunting for that and remake this thing ‘properly’.  So, for lack of any better option, I used the snowflake nylon organza-type fabric for the sleeves and upper bodice.  The sleeves I cut on the bias so they would easily follow DD2’s movements.  The bodice is not as fitted as I would like it to be.  I cut it straight out of the envelope, since the bust measurements matched DD2’s measurements, but the shaping is all wrong for her.  I debated altering it, but decided against it because a) I wanted enough ease to keep it comfortable during the day; and b) it was always in the back of my mind that it was going to be remade properly with a stretch upper bodice/sleeves once Halloween was done.  As it is, the organza pulled away from the top of the bodice and some of the neck binding by the end of the school day (which included bowling, btw).

McCalls 7000 back details

Why I didn’t think of cutting the upper bodice on the bias is beyond me.  Oh.  Wait.  I did think of cutting the upper bodice on the bias but was afraid it wouldn’t lie flat and would grow out of shape.  So I cut it on the straight grain.  See?  Bad, bad, ugly bodice.

McCalls 7000 Elsa

The sequins were from hell.  They won’t stay in place, so it looks like sequins are missing in places, and they had to be trimmed from the seam allowances, which I expected, but also contributed to my decision to not alter it until I get the stretch mesh/tulle.  *sigh*  I decided to underline the sequin jersey with polyester lining for this version.  The bodice is also lined.  I bound the neckline and cuffs with skirt fabric (satin-backed polyester crepe), and the armscye seams with lining.

McCalls 7000

The best part is the attached cape.  The nylon is sheer, lightweight and very floaty.  It’s quite lovely when DD2 is walking.

McCalls 7000 attached train

There’s a CB zip (I put it in by hand to accommodate the sequins) to the top of the lower bodice.  The upper back bodice has a button and thread loop.  The attached cape is split to just below the bottom of the zip. See?  It’s the best part of this project.

it IS kinda pretty

This version is a wadder for me, but once I get my hands on some stretch tulle, and do a good job on this, I’ll publish an “Elsa Improved” post for your entertainment.

Rosie the Riveter

Burda 05-2010-119 jumpsuit

I’ve made another jumpsuit, albeit for DD3, this time ’round.

She wanted to be Rosie the Riveter for Hallowe’en, and I offered to make her a denim jumpsuit if she agreed to it becoming part of her wearable wardrobe.  She gave it a few days’ thought, and said yes.  Yay!  After scouring Burda’s website, she loved the May 2010 jumpsuit best, so I found the magazine and purchased it via eBay from Germany last week.  In a perfectly-timed coincidence, Fabricland emailed me a coupon for 50% off any single cut of fabric, and I used it for 4 metres of stretch cotton denim, purchased last Friday.  The Burda magazine arrived on Tuesday, and I’ve been sewing ever since.  Today she wore it to school.

The pattern is pretty straight forward, but, because the magazine is in German and Google translate is horrible for sewing terms, I didn’t follow the directions.  And I made some changes:  I put a proper placket and cuff onto the long sleeves; left off the epaulets; and omitted the elasticized hems on the trousers.

Burda 05-2010-119 front

My DD3 loves blue, and wanted blue buttons and blue top stitching.  The shirt pockets are faux, although I made fully functioning buttonholes because I don’t like the look of buttons sewn over faux buttonholes.  I think it looks unfinished.

Burda 05-2010-119 jump!

The trouser portion of the jumpsuit runs large.. surprisingly.  I cut DD3’s recommended size, and then narrowed each side seam of the trousers 3 cm to get a good fit.  No other changes were made to the pattern.   In retrospect, I’d lengthen the back crotch length, but she hasn’t changed out of it since coming home from school, so it must be comfortable.

Oh, and, because it’s a jumpsuit, here’s another jump!

denim jumpsuit

Excitement in my sewing room

Imagine!My serger gave up it’s ghost last week, and I am in the throes of costume making.  The last big PR Sewing Bee project was made with just my regular sewing machine, zigzagging all the seams instead of serging them.  But today, I just felt desperate at the thought of zigzagging all those costume seams when what I really would like is properly serged seams.So I took my faithful old White Superlock into Joe, who has been keeping my machines healthy for the last 25 years.  He has gently suggested trading in my old serger for a new one every time I’ve seen him for the last five or six years.  Well, look what came home with me today!

new sergerAnd now I can happily get going on this little gem for DD2.  Can you guess what it’s going to be?costume

Croc Matelassé Jacket

Matelassé Jacket

I can’t remember when I purchased this roll end from EOS, but I have finally pulled this gorgeous piece of matelassé from my stash to meet the PR Sewing Bee Round 3 challenge:  a lined jacket.  The pattern is Burda 08/2008 #127, an issue which Burda 08-2008-127 drawingI purchased for a different jacket a couple of years ago, and was pleasantly surprised to find this simple jacket pattern would – with some playing around – accommodate my limited matelassé yardage.  I put the project into queue and forgot about it until now.

The jacket is designed as unlined, but I lined it.  I did not have enough fabric for proper facings.  As it was, I had to piece together the front edge facing and forego the extension into the shoulder as well as the back neck facing.  The sleeves are lined to the cuff edge.

front facing and cuff details

I have never worked with matelassé before, so this was a new adventure.  My fabric made it a troublesome adventure because it was like sewing with two completely different fabrics.  The matte part of the design was stable and behaved solidly like a quilted fabric – much like I expected matelassé to behave.  However, the metallic portion was designed to be difficult, comprised of fluffy loose polyester fibres sandwiched between copper lurex threads and rather unstable black polyester threads.  The lurex was incredibly flimsy, so I underlined it with pre-shrunk cotton/poly broadcloth.


Then I realized topstitching by machine was not going to look so great, so everything was done by hand:  understitching, edgestitching and topstitching.

front edge pickstitch

The hand work was relaxing, and I liked how it didn’t interfere with the fabric and finished the edges nicely.  I balked at doing the buttonholes by hand, but they disappear into the fabric.


I was pleasantly surprised at how warm this jacket is, even with only a rayon bemberg lining.

Matelassé Jacket

The roll end fabric repeat was a big problem.  I’m not very skilled at good fabric design placement in garments (yet), and my roll end began and ended in the middle of one repeat.  After going back and forth and shading in the line drawing several ways, I settled on the metallic gradation dripping down from the shoulders, and the clean stark line of it giving the illusion of deep cuffs.

 Matelassé Jacket

Just a note on the pattern.  It’s a plus-sized pattern (44-52), and I’m so pleased with the fit of it.  I made a very small (for me) 2cm (3/4″) FBA; cut the back and side back pieces as one to conserve fabric (incorporating the curved side back seams as a dart) and shortened the back waist by about 5cm (2″) by simply moved the centre/widest part of the dart up to where my waist sits.  I did a 1.5cm (5/8″) forward shoulder adjustment and decided I’d put in 1cm (1/2″) thick shoulder pads rather than do a sloped shoulder adjustment.  I felt the lurex matelassé could use the extra help through the shoulders.

croc metallic jacketYou can see more pictures of this project in my Flickr album, and read my PR review here.


Burda 12-2014 pajamas

I have needed a decent set of pyjamas for a very long time, and was finally driven to cutting and sewing up two sets from Burda’s December 2014 issue.  The first set is the pyjama shirt and capris.  Each image below clicks through to the pattern itself over at BurdaStyle.

Burda 12/2014 #133Burda 12/2014 #135camisole top

The fabric is a cotton lawn purchased over a year ago for the intent of a smocked girl’s dress that never happened.  I used a black poly-cotton broadcloth for the piping, and left off the pockets.  I cannot see the use of pockets in bed. I also didn’t face the capri hemline, but rather serged the edges, turned, pressed and top stitched them.

PJ pants hemling piping

I left off the top button, too, so that the collar can lay open.

Collar piping

And I like the sleeve bands.

Shirt band with piping

I didn’t have enough fabric to do a proper FBA, but as I will definitely be making another set of PJ’s, I will do so next time.

As for the other pair, made of Liberty of London Felicite in a purple colourway (again purchased over a decade ago for a smocked dress), I used the same capri pattern.  I curved the vent edges and did a narrow turned hem.  I did put a pocket on this pair, although you cannot see it, and I never use it.  But I had the scraps, so I thought, why not?

useless pocket

The little camisole top gave me more pause for thought.  I did a 2″ FBA, cutting through the dart and re-drafting the upper bodice piece into two, as the interior shows below.

Burda 12-2014-123 interior

I used petersham ribbon for the straps, and left a 2 inch curved vent at the side seams hemline.

Burda pajamas Felicite

 Very comfortable, I must say.  I wonder it took me so long to make these.  And now that cooler weather is just around the corner, I’ll need to make a warmer set or two.

Reverse Corner Construction

I mentioned in my last post that Burda’s instructions for the construction of the Painted Jacket’s yokes with their reverse corners was atrocious, consisting of, and I quote,

“Stitch front yokes to fronts and titch back yokes to back.  Clip seam allowances of fronts and back into corners.  Press seam allowances onto yokes.  Topstitch yokes close to attachment seams…..”

Sooooo much is missing in this little paragraph, that I thought I’d share how I do reverse corners.  I give full and unabashed credit to Vogue Patterns’ instruction sheets in the various designer patterns which I have sewn over the years, since it is through them that I have learned pretty much everything I know about sewing.

Step 1:  On right side of fabric, pin one small fabric remnant (silk organza is my choice), centring over the corner centre.  Stitch along stitching/seam lines using a small stitch, pivoting at the corners.reverse corner 1Step 2:  Slash between stitchings to corner.  Be exact on this step, slashing as close as you can to the stitching without cutting through it.reverse corner 2Step 3:  Press fabric remnant toward seam allowance over slashed edges.reverse corner 3Step 4:  Pin baste pieces, stitching sections together, just alongside the reinforcement stitching.reverse corner 4Step 5:  Press allowances onto yokes, trimming allowances on an angle into the corner.reverse corner interiorStep 6:  Topstitch or not.  Here’s the finished result from the right side.reverse corner 5I do find that some fiddling may be required to ensure the reinforcing remnant is within the seam allowance and doesn’t show from the right side, but I have never had a failure using this technique.  The corner is reinforced and secure and won’t pull apart, even under wear and duress.