frankenpattern top

I love fall. I love all the colours as they change, and the different shades that the changing light provides on the same tree throughout the day. They make me happy!

My top is a mix of Vogue 1412‘s front bodice, the back bodice from Burdastyle 09/2019 #111, and the sleeves from Burdastyle 09/2010 #136. I didn’t know what to do with this fabric, so I draped it around my sewing area on and off for what seems like a good 12 months, trying different ideas, laying out different patterns (not enough fabric), trying to work around a pattern repeat that I ended up completely ignoring, and generally second-guessing myself until I was struck by lightening (or courage), and laid out the pattern for the front bodice and started cutting. I would have preferred to use Vogue 1412’s back bodice, too, but I didn’t have enough fabric and wanted a more fitted back.

Burda 10-2013-140 back

This is the third version of Vogue 1412 that I’ve made. I really like the front neckline, although this iteration, due to the slightly dropped shoulders of the back, and because I didn’t stabilize the shoulder seams, required a shoulder pleat, extending from a dart in the upper back through to a pleat in the front. It’s quite hidden with the busy pattern, but if you look closely, you can see it.

Vogue 1412 frankenpattern top

The fabric is a treat. It has a very fine herringbone weave, which just makes this that much more luxurious.

modal-wool-cashmere challis detail
a modal-wool-cashmere challis

And it goes with so many different items in my wardrobe, just because of all the wonderful colours.

Burdastyle 01-2016-135 jeans
these are not the shoes to wear with jeans

This is probably my fifth pair of Burda 01/2016 #135, the skinny jeans with the interesting seaming details. I have worn this brown pair to the point of the colour fading, so I over-dyed it with Rit in my front loading washing machine and couldn’t be happier with the result. They don’t look faded and yucky! 🙂

Have you ever re-dyed a garment?

burda 8680 denim skirts

It’s been my goal to work through my stash as much as possible, instead of buying new fabrics to only have then sit and wait to be made into wearable garments. These skirts for DD3 have put two lengths of denim into her closet for wear, and gotten them out of the dreaded stash! Yay! DD3 doesn’t really wear a lot of skirts, but I think she’s probably finished growing, so making up these two made some sort of sense. I have purchased various sorts of denim in a variety of blue shades for DD3 over the years because she prefers custom jeans to RTW. She is short-waisted, but her waist-hip length is 5cm longer than the usual 23cm RTW typically is drafted to accommodate, so every pair of trousers or jeans or shorts or leggings rides low, which she dislikes.

Burda 8680 black back

However, skirts never seem to present a fitting problem. Hopefully she will wear these as a casual alternative to shorts next summer season. She wanted a plain ‘jean’ style skirt, and so I pulled Burda 8680 out of my pattern stash.

The first version is the View A from a black stretchy denim from EOS. I initially used this denim to make a pair of capris for DD3, but didn’t cut them in a single layer, and the grain of the right front was off and caused a lot of twisty annoyance during wear, so they were thrifted. I suppose I could have made them into a skirt back then, in perfectly 20/20 hindsight as I type this, but I didn’t. Someone else is wearing them; hopefully, happily.

Burda 8680 black front

It’s a rather plain, utilitarian pattern. I added the belt loops and didn’t bother to add back pockets for her phone.

She was nonplussed about the omission, as the front pockets on this pattern are plenty deep. I finished the interior with gingham scraps leftover from a Dorothy costume I made for her three years ago.

Burda 8680 black back waist
No back pocketses….

But I did add the pockets on the second shorter version in blue denim.

Burda 8680 blue pockets
yes, it’s truly a dark navy, despite how it looks in this photo!

And, for a lark, because I felt like hammering studs, I added studs for all the pockets. It was a very simple make, and the fit is really good on this pattern.

Burda 8680 blue front

loss & (re)discovery

bias binding

I don’t know about you, but I am so often genuinely surprised at the quality of work when I look at some of the garments I have made over the years. Take, for example, this jumpsuit, made in 2017 and worn perhaps three times: once for a family Christmas, and couple of family events. The fabric is rather a heavy-ish crepe from EOS. You can find more of it here. It comes in a myriad of colours. I ordered a few lengths way back when: this gorgeous shade of wine red, a moss green, which ended up as a version of DKNY’s dress courtesy of Vogue 1351 (a disaster project that looked horrible on me, although the dress was beautiful), and some yet-to-be-sewn yummy chocolate brown. But I digress.

I have changed shape significantly over the last year or so, and, going through my closet one day looking for things to wear, pulled this jumpsuit out and tried it on. It’s BurdaStyle 04-2016-130.

It didn’t fit properly anymore, and would have required a complete dismantling in order to alter it properly. But here’s a photo from when it fit. I don’t have any photos of the front, probably because I didn’t like any of them and intended to re-shoot the garment, which never happened.

Burdastyle 04-16-130 back
This is actually the true shade of the fabric. Isn’t it rich and gorgeous?

As someone who has a tiny lower back and relatively large hips, this pattern fit perfectly out of the magazine. I was very impressed. But, again, I digress. Because I will never wear it again, I thrifted it. But I wanted to write about how each garment that I gift away (unless I really hate it) brings on a sense of loss, sometimes, and regret. Regret for the time ‘wasted’ in making something that didn’t actually get worn. I realize this is actually a negative voice speaking, from the last couple of decades of my life. In actual fact, each garment is a learning opportunity, and the hours spent making are practice and will end up giving me more proficiency and skill in making. When I check over the garments to make sure they’re in good condition, after cleaning them, to give away, I inevitably am surprised (why?) at the quality of work.

lined trousers

And the attention to detail, like lining trousers. I really do not like wearing unlined trousers or skirts. I think it’s because my mother taught me to sew, and, having sewn herself all her clothing when I was small from Vogue or Simplicity designer patterns, she was a stickler on quality of workmanship. I recall going RTW shopping with her, and every single garment she purchased was lined; she would not have ever worn an unlined garment, much less spent the money on it. Funny story. I recall strolling through a Chanel boutique when I was in university, and looking through the RTW garments for sale, and was shocked – shocked, I tell you! – to see that neither the skirts or jackets in that small boutique were lined. And $1250 in 80’s dollars for a 100% polyester blouse. Polyester. Bubble popped, I assure you.

hem finishing

So, needless to say, I line everything. It gives me tremendous pleasure to make something well, and finish it well. It’s like a mental health perk-up to wear a garment I’ve made that I have taken the time to carefully construct.

side zip

Slow careful sewing, and making the interiors of garments pretty, is something that I really enjoy doing. I hope whoever purchases this garment from the thrift store enjoys wearing it and appreciates the workmanship, too.

What do you do with garments you no longer wear? I see so many IG feeds about sewists making and making and making, and I wonder how on earth do they every wear everything? I don’t have a very large closet, and I have many garments that are in pristine condition. Do you feel a sense of loss when you see garments you’ve spent time with walking out the door?

silk kimono robe

B2-2012-116 front

I have a goal: to work through as much of Mezzo’s Fabric Store as possible, hopefully using most of the goods for other people, not myself. Here we have the first completed garment that meets the goal! Yay!

My DD3 and DD1 like to lounge about the house in shorts and tanks or crop tops, and, in my opinion, have been sorely in need of ‘grown up’ robes since outgrowing their fuzzy cute childhood versions. Enter the tote full of silks with the instructions to find one or more lengths to their liking, preferably for robes. DD3 chose this gorgeous silk charmeuse. Here’s a closer look.

paisley silk

This is Burda 2-2012-116 again.

image burdastyle.ru

I actually sewed this version for DD3 up prior to my linen version. I was so impressed with the fit and simplicity of the design and how little time it took to make (even in fussy, slippery silk charmeuse!) that I had to make one for myself. The pictures do not do this fabric justice. It is a stunning robe in person.

B2-2012-116 back

I have nothing interesting to say about this, except that Burda’s instructions do not include details like a hanging loop at the centre back or belt carriers at the side seams. There are pockets, but I didn’t have enough of this silk, and DD3 didn’t want them, anyway. I left them off my version, too.

B2-2012-116 paisley silk

Here’s to swanning around in silk kimonos instead of schlepping around in scruffy shorts and crop tops!

linen pajamas

I have been in sore need of decent summer pajamas for a while now, and finally made some up from old stash linen, using cotton scraps from this old pair for piping and the shoulder straps on the tank top.

I used the Sewing-Universe-Famous Carolyn Pajama top, which I haven’t yet worn – it’s just too hot! But I see this getting a lot of wear in the spring and fall. The bottoms are Burda 12-2014-135, which I’ve made several times for myself and DD2.

B12-2014-135 PJ bottoms

I have a pair of Bedhead pajamas and like how the front facing is stitched down to keep it from flopping around. I did the same on this top, although the instructions did not include this step.

carolyn top

And to keep cool during the summer, I made a linen version of Burda 5-2013-101, which is also comes as a dress pattern.

image burdastyle.ru

As far as style goes, linen isn’t the best choice for this top: a drapey silk or viscose would be a better choice. But it’s cool and comfortable and plenty roomy for pajamas.

B5-2013-101 linen

And, just for fun, I added little ‘tags’. Actually, they have a practical use in the tank and bottoms, as they indicate which side is the back!

fabric tags

And because I needed one, I made a quick kimono robe from some printed linen that I’ve had lying in stash for a few years. The pattern is Burda 2-2012-116. Honestly, trying to find pictures on Burdastyle.com is such a hassle. Whoever designed their new website should be fired, because it’s absolutely terrible. The Russian site is far superior, imho. You can search images and issues all the way back to 2004. They even have the year 1987 listed!

And here’s my version. I’m not modelling any of these, because, seriously! I am past putting pictures of me in my pj’s up for public consumption. Be thankful.

B2-2012-116

done: burda 1/2016 #123 coat re-do

Burda 01-2016-123 redo frontAnd it’s finished!  I have a car coat that I am happy with, and that I have already worn more in the last week or so than I ever did in it’s first iteration.

Compulsory inside view of the back with ease pleats.  I am so much happier with this lining than the first make-do version!
coat re-do lining back
I kept the pretty blue silk piping on the inside.
coat re-do lining Here’s the inside view of the properly placed in-seam pockets, complete with pocket stay, attached to the front facing with ribbons saved from the Christmas Fiasconaro panettone. Do you do this? I keep all those decorative fabric ribbons that make boxes pretty: Maison Birks, Jo Malone, Fiasconaro, Pottery Barn, etc., etc. If anyone decides to dissect my jeans, they’ll be in for a surprise! They work surprisingly well when twill tape or some sort of tape is required in places. recycle ribbon
Here’s another picture of the inside. I didn’t underline this coat because the fabric is actually a sort of knit, and I wanted it to be ‘free’. I did reinforce the hems, seams and facings with a combination of silk organza strips (straight grain) and horsehair (straight for the front and bias for the sleeve cuffs).
coat re-do inside The grain across the high chest is now straight. The front is lapped, not snapped shut, so it looks off, but it isn’t. coat re-do shouldersBack view on my double in the workroom. I’m happy with the grain and the slimmer fit.
coat re-do 3 And then the back view on me. No glamourous fashion footwear here; just practical warm winter boots. Burda 01-2016-123 redo backAnd a side-ish view, both belted and unbelted. I usually wear it belted.
Burda 1-2016-123 side

I changed the placement of the belt loops, too, because they were too high in the original coat.  You can see closeup photos of the actual loop with it’s lining back (less bulk) and it on the coat with the belt drawn through it here.

I am so very happy with this coat now!  The fabric is from EOS, and it’s cozy and so pretty up close.

Burda 01-2016-123 redo tied

Woo hoo! First major project of 2020 is in the closet.  Now I’ve just to finish altering DD3’s jumpsuit and get some photos of it so I can show you here make from a couple of years ago.  Alterations are necessary due to height changes and the general slimming down that happens in mid-teen years.  After that, all my alterations are done and I can start on new things!

remake & re-fashion

green coat pocketsMy first project of 2020 is to remake the last winter coat I made back in 2018.  I intend to shorten it to car coat length so that I will actually wear it, as it has only been worn twice since it was finished.  There are several things that just bug me about the coat:

  • It is a BIG COAT, which is what I was going for in the first place, but I really hated my slap-dash-use-whatever-I-have-lying-around-the-house-that’s-the-right-tone lining (drapery silk shantung that had been washed in hot water and put through a hot dryer cycle with tennis and dryer balls to soften up the hand) because it just made it so…. so…. ridiculous to wear, I guess.  I really wanted a different lining – a softer, lighter lining; lighter than flannel-backed satin or kasha lining, typically used in winter coats.
  • The original Burda pattern is a tall pattern, and I didn’t bother to place the pockets accurately, so they sit about 10cm lower than they should on me.  I want to move the pocket up to where they will be useful and easy to access with my not-tall arms.
  • The R front facing and front edge bugs me.  It’s a grain thing, and I hate wearing it because of this.  I intend to straighten it out and do it properly.
  • It’s just too long and dramatic to get worn much, and I have other fabric for other dramatic coats in my stash that I hope to make up soon.
  • The contrast band of linen velvet is nice in a dramatic coat, but I do actually want to wear this coat, and the current length makes it rather a process to get in and out of the car.
  • It’s too wide.  I hate coats that fit small, and I was very enthusiastic in adding ease to my original iteration of this coat, so each side seam will be reduced by 4cm, for a total width reduction of 16cm.

Coat Re-do 1

I’ve re-cut the lining from a lightweight satin-backed crepe fabric from my local Fabricland that was actually marketed as drapery fabric (???).  I laundered it to get that horrid polyester chemical smell out of it before cutting it out.  I used the old lining as a pattern, after making forward-sloping shoulder alterations and taking in the sides by a total of 16cm.

Coat re-do 2

So far I have completed the following alterations:

  • removed the lining
  • moved the pockets up 10cm
  • taken the side seams in 16cm
  • straightened the grain across the upper chest by doing a forward-sloping shoulder adjustment (Why didn’t I do this the first time around?!)
  • removed the lower velvet band
  • redid the facings, which, in combination with the shoulder adjustments, has made the fronts hang straight.  Happy day!

All that is left is to put the lining back in after deciding on the length I want.

More importantly than my news about remaking my coat, I want to thank each and every one of you for all your comments and kind words on my last post.  It may be clichĂ©, but your wishes and encouragement meant so much, and on hard days, I go back and re-read them.

Risks

I, for one, am very glad the last decade is over and gone, particularly 2019, which has been the culmination of a difficult ten years.

IMG_5123

This last year hasn’t had much sewing for a variey of reasons, and the sewing that I’ve done hasn’t gotten properly photographed, or wasn’t photographed at all.  Some of it hasn’t even been worn… like a pair of jeans made from this fabric, for one.teal leopard denim fabric

It’s been a year of challenges and good things.  I thoroughly enjoyed my French classes every Saturday – my heart was singing every time I drove home – but that came to a screeching halt in May due to health concerns.

I made a few tunic tops from linen and cotton voile that had been lingering for years in my stash.

Burda 2-2018-111 linen front

I cannot remember when I purchased these fabrics, but I do remember where! And the tunics are thanks to Anne’s make for one of her daughters, which reminded me I had had a keen interest in the Burdastyle pattern every since it was released in February 2018.  It felt good to just get on with the projects and get them sewn so I could wear them. Impulse sewing.

Burda 2-2018-111 front

The summer went by quickly – too quickly – with so much stress at an unfullfilling job as we rolled out a new website, with little or no time to sew, and no mental energy left if there was time.  We had a family wedding to attend in August, and I literally had nothing to wear that would fit my growing waistline, so sewed for 5 days straight, letting everyting else in the household go to pot, while I made this unsuccessful attempt to copy a spectacularly beautiful Dolce & Gabbana green velvet dress (which I cannot find anywhere except in print advertisements).

20190217_221938
The dress seemed a lot worse to me on the day I wore it than it does now.

Of course I washed it afterwards (I always launder my own clothing, if I possibly can, instead of sending it to the toxic dry-cleaners), and the hem went wonky, mostly because I didn’t support it with flannel bias underlining.  So it’s still hanging up, waiting for a do-over, or alterations, or disection and reincarnation.  Then everything came crashing down in October, when I became an ostomate and was diagnosed with Stage III colorectal cancer.  No wonder my waistline had been expanding so I had nothing to wear to the wedding!  The sad part was, even as I was waiting for emergency surgery, all I could think about was, “Thank God I don’t have to go to work for the next few weeks.”  It took me until the third week of recovery to realize the shocking absurdity of that being my first thought, given the situation.

IMG_5151
These front bands make me so happy!

I have had so many ideas going through my head for sewing over the last three months, and no energy or mental strength to do any of it until this past weekend, partly due to recovery, partly due to rethinking so many parts of my life.  I guess coming face to face with a potential death sentence sooner than you expect does that to one’s thinking.  Re-evaluation and change are inevitable. Crossing the half-century mark in December brought several things into sharp focus, too, as a milestone will.

When I first began this blog a decade ago, it took a lot of courage to post pictures of my makes out there for the world to see, despite the fact that I’ve been wearing them since I was in my teens on a daily basis.  It was so much fun for the first few years, but slowly negativity crept in from voices close to me, and the joy of making disappeared into the pointlessness of making garments that were not likely to be worn, given my lifestyle of a SAHM.  That negative voice was given it’s proper perspective, although it is, unfortunately, not silenced, and still a part of what I hear now and then, through an excellent support service provided to my dear daughter #2, who has Down syndrome. It was her crisis that brought me the help I had desperately needed for years.

DSC_0099

Two years ago I was introduced to the concept of choosing a defining word for each year.  In 2017 it was ‘baby steps’ for me: baby steps forward into independence of thought and being; baby steps into health and freedom.  Last year I struggled with a defining word, although ‘commitment’ was persistent, particularly because I really became aware of how making decisions is easy, but follow-through is difficult due to constant reassessment – sometimes hourly – on my part.  ‘Courage’ became a rallying cry, too, early in the year, due to a friend’s struggle and hardship as she watches her husband disappear into the void of aggressive early onset Alzheimer’s.

And this year, I wasn’t going to bother thinking of a word, as I just want the next 6 months to have good reports and scans and results, and learning to look after myself (even at the expense of others’ demands) is still a daily decision and takes a lot of my strength and courage.  But this quote really reverberated with me a few days ago, attributed to Muhammad Ali:

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” 

Risk.

That is my word for 2020. Here’s to taking risks in sewing up my stash and sewing up patterns I’ve wanted to sew for years, regardless of their ever getting worn or used.

dk edge: Vogue 1175

Lavender Tops

Back in the spring DD3 expressed frustration with the lack of choices in her wardrobe, specifically in the tops department. I must confess, after the last few unsuccessful projects that I made for her, I wasn’t very keen on risking more failures. They have seriously affected my sewjo.  BTW, this post was originally drafted in May……

I sent her shopping for RTW a few weeks ago,and told her to try on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. she saw, even if it looked silly on the hangers, just to get her ideas flowing, and to take a lot of pictures so I could we what she liked. She came home with a $100 top from Wilfred, made of beautiful Japanese polyester, but the fit was off, and I didn’t care for the cost:product ratio. So she returned it, and went off to see what she could find that tickled her fancy in the Burda magazine collection housed in my sewing nook.

And I, browsing through my local Fabricland while purchasing thread for several new jeans projects for myself (I may not be trendy and stylish, but I love my me-made Jalie jeans and made three new pairs recently) stumbled upon a pretty lavender polyester satin crepe with a hammered finish. I purchased a 1.5m length, as it was the right shade of lavender i.e. not very pink, washed it, and set it on one of the sewing tables.

And she noticed it. And liked the colour. So I cut out two of the designs she had ear-marked, and suggested one that I had made for myself a while back, which she liked after she’d tried on mine.Burda 4-2016-114The first one is BurdaStyle 04/2016 #114, a very simple top with cut-on sleeves and a deep V neckline in the back. There is a band across the back shoulders which helps keep the wide neckline in place. There’s not much to say about this top. It’s very simple to make,  the most difficult part being the adjustment of the back band to a length that sits properly. In retrospect, it would fit her better if I’d done a square shoulder adjustment for her swimmers shoulders.Burda 4-2016-114 backThe second top is a repeat of Burda 04/2015 #103, which I’d made for me in 2017.  I had her try it on and she liked the style. Burda 4-2015-103It’s another simple sew, although getting the centre front V to sit properly took some very careful cutting. I have plans for at least two of these tops for myself. Burda 4-2015-103 frontThe last of the lavender tops used up some stash silk: lavender chiffon and a darker habotai for the longer layer.Burda 5-2014-128 silk It’s BurdaStyle 05/2014 #128, and DD3 wasn’t very sure of the design, but I loved the longer gathered back, and thought I’d take a risk while sewing up the stash fabric. I was prepared to thrift it if she didn’t like it in the end. Burda 5-2014-128 backThis top is short: I added a full 10 cm to the length.  Burda’s instructions are good and easy to follow, for once! I followed them to the ‘T’.

Burda 5-2014-128

I hand rolled the hems.

Burda 5-2014-128

And there we are: three new tops for her to wear. Funnily enough, the one she reaches for the most is gathered-back top. She’s going to wear it out first, mostly because the chiffon is rather fragile.

Winter Coat: Burda 1/2016 #123

So, one of my goals for 2018 was to make jackets and coats: I had declared it “The Year of the Coat”.   I managed to make one.
Green CoatI finally got around to the project at the end of April. I pulled two pieces of fabric out of stash:  a lovely green/brown ‘bubble’ wool from EmmaOneSock in 2013and a piece of velvet linen, purchased randomly from Scalamandre’s Third Floor around the same time. I had this from BurdaStyle’s January 2016 in mind for both: Burda 1-2016-123It’s a ‘tall’ pattern, but I wanted something long and dramatic.  So I left the length, and adjusted the waist length by 2 inches (5cm). Here’s the back: green coat back
I did not like the tie collar (and the linen would not have worked for it, imho), so I frankenpatterned Vogue 2590 (an OOP Montana military-style coat). collar collageI love the high collar, and I must say, working with a Vogue pattern vs. a Burda magazine pattern in the same project was a sober reminder (and an elated reminder) of why I love Vogue patterns so much: there were more markings on the collar pieces than the entire front coat pattern piece from Burda.  A clearly marked pattern makes construction so precise, and easy construct with (relative) perfection. Well, I am happy with it, anyways!

The coat does not have buttons. I debated doing the hand worked buttonhole exercise, but opted for the large snaps Burda suggested. I like them! And, no, I did not bother to try to choose a fabric that would match the coat so they could be covered. I just put them on. Finis!

Some details of the interior finishing:lining

There are in-seam pockets. green coat pockets
Here’s the side view.
green coat side

A loooong belt tie. green coat tie
A tall, statuesque drink of water I am not, which is perhaps accentuated by the tie belt. But I love the length and drama of wearing such a coat.