I love Liberty Art Fabrics. All kinds. All prints. All qualities. I have quite a stash of tana lawn and some wool, but I’ve never handled any of their silks. Until DD1 set eyes upon this dress from Burda’s February 2013 issue. It’s called the “City Dress”, and DD1 liked it because it’s modeled in red. After hunting through my stash and going back and forth about the fabric, I noticed Burda mentioned Liberty as the fabric source. So I searched through Shaukat, which their website claims is the largest stockist of Liberty fabrics in London. Well, they had the design, Xanthe Sunbeam, in the red colourway, but in a satin crepe de chine. I decided to splurge for my DD, and I don’t regret it. It’s a gorgeous tightly woven silk with the most delicious hand. There’s even a little left over for a top or blouse.I went down to my local Mokuba to look for the petersham trim, and was shocked at the price per yard. Five to six dollars per yard for petersham ribbon? Does anyone else think that’s absurd? I decided I could order rolls by the time I purchased the almost 3 yards required for this dress in the selection of colours I wanted to have from which DD could choose. So I bought a collection of reds-pinks-purples from TheSewingPlace, which were a lot more reasonably priced, even with the shipping, than paying what the local brick & mortar store wanted per yard. What can I say? I enjoy being a personal shopper for my kids. 🙂 Besides, multiple choices mean more stash. *smug wink*I cut a straight size 38, and made no changes since the dress is so loose-fitting. Except for that 3-inches-from-the-waist deep front slit. Burda suggested putting a hook & eye closure at the top, and then again 5 inches down – probably about bust point level. I cut and finished the slit as prescribed, since it’s a design feature. See? It’s open clear to the waistline. Then I added a strip of fabric behind the slit for modesty and decency’s sake. Besides, wearing a slip or camisole under this would not be DD1’s style.And I lined the skirt. Because lining skirts is, imho, the proper way to make a skirt. Linings make a garment modest to wear, ensure the garment hangs well, and contribute to a long life of happy wearing. Besides, who wants to wear a silk crepe de chine dress that’s unlined in the skirt? And, like I mentioned above, slips are not a first choice. The lining is rayon bemberg from stash. Not quite a good match, but it’s close enough to do the job. All the seams are sewn as French seams to keep things neat and tidy.
I often ask DD1 if she needs anything on a seasonal basis, and if so, what she would like to have in her closet. Well, this little number from Burda’s February 2014 Tough Love collection caught her eye, and after looking at laces around town, we gave up on it because we just couldn’t find the perfect mix of mesh-lace-knits or what have you (Burda suggested two layers of mesh, but I – being mom – suggested something more modest.)
Then, around Hallowe’en time, I wandered into my local Fabricland, and there was a remnant of this lovely spider web lace draped on a mannequin over fluorescent orange satin, and I grabbed it for $5, brought it home and had her look at it. She loved it, and I made up the mesh overdress with the side ties pronto. (As an aside, there was a bolt of this lace the first time we were looking for fabrics and she didn’t like it; I thought it was perfect because she hates flowery lace and this is so unusual. But she’d forgotten she’d seen and dismissed it by the time the remnant came home….. 😀 ) I bound the neckline and the sleeve edges with bias silk chiffon. The side ties are bias tubes, inserted through channels created by sewing narrow strips of fabric along either side of the side seams. They can then be pulled to create ruching as the wearer desires.I left the hem edges raw, and the seams were double stitched and serged, pressed to one side and topstitched down in order to give some strength to this very holey lace. The shoulders have channels with ribbons tacked down to create ruching, too.Then the overdress sat waiting for the perfect underdress fabric, which I eventually found on EOS. It’s a rayon-lycra doubleknit in two shades of grey. I wanted this to be reversible, and decided to do a flat-fell seam with raw edges. I don’t own a coverstitch machine, and this would have been the perfect project for it.The sleeve edges and hem were simply turned up and stitched with a stretch stitch, and the neckline was faced with a narrow strip of self-fabric cut on the cross grain, turned to the inside, and topstitched. After pulling it on and off the mannequin and DD1 for fitting, I’m starting to see little fuzzy bits of yellowy-beige fibres (which must be the lycra) along the unfinished edges. Here’s the dark side.It’s a perfectly respectable T-shirt dress on its own, although DD1 says it feels like a nightgown when she wears it without the overdress. *whatever* Here’s a couple of pics to show the light and dark side of the
DD3 needed a new Christmas dress this past season because she is growing like a weed. She’s 11 years old and is 5’6″. Apparently, according to an interactive exhibit at Science North, she’s going to be 5’11” by the time she’s finished growing. Lucky girl!
She chose a beautiful turquoise/black shot silk shantung, and the Sewaholic Cambie dress.
I muslined the bodice (much more satisfying experience than sewing for myself, I confess), and should have made more adjustments than I did. Am I the only person who hates vertical bust darts? I can NEVER get the bodice to fit well when a bodice is drafted like this. *roar of frustration* I obviously don’t know what I’m doing. However, in order to keep this simple and not drive myself crazy, I rotated a necessary side dart into the original dart. I probably should have done an FBA properly, but all her measurements point to fitting the bodice perfectly without adjustments for the bust. UGH.
I underlined the bodice front, back and the sleeves with the muslin.
I lined the bodice and waistband with cotton voile, and hand picked the understiching along the bodice edge.
I also added a waist stay and hanging ribbons. I know the muslin is strong, but the ribbons will just keep the stress of gravity on the waistband instead of the sleeves.
I decided to bind the hem with bemberg because I had nothing suitable in stash and didn’t feel like running to the store.
She loved her dress, and looked so grown up in it. This is the only picture I managed to snag of her in it, awaiting the arrival of family for the big Christmas Eve celebration.
DD1 is attending a 16th birthday party for one of her friends, and the dress code was “all in black”. Perfect excuse for making a new dress, right? Never mind that she’s never owned a little black dress.
She chose this style from Burda September 2014. It’s basically a strapless, boned bodice with a short-ish (21″) gathered dirndl skirt and a lace upper bodice. We went with black silk shantung and spider-web lace from stash. I muslined the bodice, and then used the adjusted muslin as the pattern and underlining for the silk. The cotton lining contains the spiral steel bones, which I fell-stitched to the bodice proper. I added a petersham waist stay, and an additional small stay across the top of the bodice behind the invisible zipper to facilitate zipping-up ease and prevent zipping up skin. The lace is bound in chiffon bias strips. I shortened the front upper lace bodice by about 2 inches. The left shoulder is fastened with a loop and button.The skirt is basically a rectangle gathered into the bodice. I lined it with bemberg, and finished the hem with purple lace. Mostly because I didn’t have any black lace.This was a 2-day project – crunch time, in terms of sewing hours. And there was a lot of hand sewing, mostly due to my personal choice of construction.I’m pleased with the fit. DD1 is dancing 20+ hours per week and is extremely fit these days, but I deliberately cut the bodice with about 1.5 inches (4cm) ease spread out over all 6 seams so she can wear this for a few years.
Such a cute little dress. Burda calls this “an item to relax in.” It’s cut for comfort (I’m quoting from the magazine) and is charmingly casual. It features a wide neckline with edging and drawcord and cute raglan sleeves. Huh. It’s a pretty simple make, but I made it more complicated – because I didn’t want it to be form-fitting – and added about 2 inches down the CF and CB. I ended up with a tent. My lovely darling DD1 walked in the door from school and said, “What’s up with the nightgown, mom?” Wait. Nightgown? I know this is stay-at-home wear, but I wasn’t wanting this to look like a nightgown. So I took out the width that I’d added and I must say that I like it a lot better. Just for fun, here’s a tent picture.See? A little 80’s maternity wear. Not working.Much better without all that extra width. The neckline detail is a very wide (about 10 inches) rectangle cut on the bias with a casing sewn in for the self-fabric ties.I used a double layer of chiffon. It was a bit fussy to sew, but it worked out well. And I left off pockets. I know, I know. But I really dislike pockets, except when they’re in jeans or outerwear. I never use them for anything. Hmmmm…. maybe it still looks a bit nightgown-ish. Definitely stay-at-home don’t-answer-the-door wear. D’ya think slippers would improve the look?
Some people blog all their pretty perfect outfits and look pretty and perfect, which is all good and uplifting and encouraging and all, but let’s be realistic. A lot of the garments I sew for myself take a lot of work and reworking and fitting and tweaking before I’m happy enough to wear them for a blog post photo shoot.
Well, this dress project is pissing me off because, well…. let’s be honest here. Because I’m an idiot and didn’t bother to do a toile prior to cutting, which was beyond necessary because my fabric is wool crepe. I quote from the pattern instructions:
Recommended fabrics: Jersey of wool or wool blends. Use stretch jersey fabrics only.
Yeah, I know. But I really wanted to use this particular teal wool crepe (I love wool crepe) and I wanted to make this particular dress because the bodice looked interesting, and I needed a wildcard for that Tying-Up-Loose-Ends idea.
At least even Karl Lagerfeld himself makes mistakes matching fabric with design sometimes. (Don’t believe me? Watch the documentary Signe Chanel in it’s entirety here or here or buy your own copy. There’s a lovely silk velvet gown that one petite main spends twelve full days sewing by hand, only to have the master admit his original fabric choice isn’t working.)
I measured, allowed for the lack of ease in the fabric, was a good girl and did an FBA leaving the armscye unaltered….And it failed miserably. This is before tweaking. The sleeves are the perfect length and it looks good, right?But I can’t move in it. See what happens when I move my arms? The armscyes are very low. Actually, a full 2.5 inches lower than they should be, and it’s because the top of the front armscye is entirely on the bias. Well, mine was, because I had the
brains foresight to do the required FBA. Yes, I was warned when I posted of my SWAP plans, but I’d already cut it out by then, so I just (uselessly) crossed my fingers and hoped. See the pulling? The sleeves won’t let my arms go anywhere, so the bodice is stretching across all its bias glory to allow for arm movement. I could not reach forward or put my arms over my head if someone had held a gun in my face.
This is after tweaking, with the too-full-but-with-room-enough-to-move sleeves of the wrong length. The re-cut the sleeves v.1 were from Vogue 8615: a 3/4 sleeve with an elbow dart, which was still too tight. (?!?!) When that didnt’ work, I thought I may as well go the whole hog and use what I know to be a loosey sort of proper fitting sleeve with wearing ease from Burda 5/2010 #112. The original sleeve is in tissue overlaying the sleeve pattern I eventually opted to use. I used silk organza selvedge to stay the armscye and eased in about 2-3 inches of stretched bias on the bodice front into what the measurements on the pattern dictated the armscye should be (about 9 inches from shoulder to underarm). Ridiculous.And now I have this. See all that fabric trying desperately to shrink into the armscye? And I couldn’t recut the bodice or reduce any of the fabric from the pleats because the FBA needs the ease to fit successfully. It isn’t pretty and perfect, but I can raise my arms, see? Doesn’t look great, but let me tell you, from a wearability perspective, it’s 100% better than the original version.The sleeves are loose enough that they move when I need them to now, and the armscye sits high enough that it basically stays in place when my arms move. But it’s got to be the ugliest bodice I’ve ever seen on myself.So do I like anything about this dress? Yes. I love the fabric. I love love love wool crepe. And the back fits well.The hemline finishing – fell stitched to the hem allowance because I wanted a clean finish.My silk lining.But I really hate the fit of the bodice and sleeves on my version of this dress. I think I’ll chop it off and make a skirt. So much for this loose end!
When DD1 first put this on her comment was, “It looks like a nightgown”. Yup. It hangs like a sack without the help of a belt. But that’s a good thing, right? Because a belt means you can make the skirt as short as you wish (since I wisely added a good 4 inches to the pattern). HA!
The pattern is simple enough. I made it up in a ponte knit so it’s warm for fall and winter. The neck has a bias strip as a facing, which is turned to the inside and topstitched in place. The placket was a bit fussy, but I stitched in the ditch and it’s as clean and neat a finish as one could wish for. I was a bit concerned about the buttonholes, but they worked quite well on the interfaced ponte. I must say I’ve never attempted buttonholes on a ponte knit before.She’s happy and has worn it several times although she keeps stealing my shoes. But hey! It suits her style and she’s pleased as punch, as is her seamstress.
And that’s my October 2013 Burda Challenge. Wish me luck to finish the challenge before December 31st!
This was the last of my sewing projects with a December 24th due date: DD1’s Christmas dress. She chose this lovely gunmetal brocade with red flocking to be made up in dress from Burda’s November 2012 issue (click on the image for more details). I muslined the bodice once after making a square shoulder adjustment and rotating the darts to the side seam. This was my first time rotating a dart, too. I would say it was minimally successful due to lack of practice. Try and learn, right?
The fabric has a softer drape than the skirt required, so I underlined it with a soft net. This seems to be the Christmas for stiff underlined skirts – lots of frosting fun! I left off the pockets (what’s with pockets in a party dress? Isn’t that why you have blinged out clutches?) and I pressed the seam allowances towards the skirt because of the way I attached the lining.
I am disappointed in this bodice after sewing up Vogue 8615, which went together beautifully and fit so well. I always have issues with the shape of Burda shoulders and I find the sleeves they draft a PITA to set. I don’t know if this is because I choose the wrong sizes or because they lack all the markings that Vogue typically has. Burda sleeves always seem to have a ridiculous amount of ease in the front – as though the sleeve head was drafted backwards – and never enough in the back. I have been experimenting with removing ease, but I haven’t mastered it yet. And, quite frankly, sometimes I just don’t want to think through stupid re-drafting adjustments; I just want to sew something without having to think about it and have it work perfectly! I should have done a prominent shoulder blade adjustment for her R shoulder blade, but I didn’t: I ran out of time. Sewing by candlelight made me appreciate the amount of time that went into sewing garments before electricity and modern machinery became the norm.I lined it in bemberg and drafted my own neckline facings and understitched them. Why does Burda never suggest understitching for facings in their instructions? Or facings? Both are required for a perfectly clean neckline finish, IMHO. And one more confession: I left about 3 inches too much ease in the waist of this dress, but the advantage was lots of comfort room for dancing Christmas Eve away at our family gathering.
Isn’t this the most amazing colour? In some lights it’s cobalt. Other times it looks what in my mind I call “blueberry”. And the highlights are baby blue, but other times they look turquoise. It’s a visual feast, embodied in my DD3’s new Christmas dress. She leapt at the fabric when she laid eyes on it, and after perusing The Pattern Stash, chose this little classic number called Vogue 8615. The selling feature was the BIG SKIRT. Now, the brocade as has decent amount of heft, as most brocade does, but as you can see from some of the versions on PR (click the pattern image to see) the skirt falls rather flat. The pattern does mention a purchased petticoat, which I think helps the skirt stand properly. But I didn’t want to make a separate petticoat, and DD3 didn’t want to wear a separate petticoat. Isn’t it nice when we’re on the same page with our clients? 🙂
I had in my mind this BIG SKIRT from Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, and since we watch this film bi-annually, I was quite sure that I could copy the stiffness of it. If you watch this scene you’ll notice that the skirt actually bends, like there’s 20 layers of organza underlining.I chose to use a stiff netting as underlining – just one layer – and the effect is similar.The hem was fun to make. Vogue suggests a narrow 5/8″ hem, but I wanted more support in that BIG SKIRT, so I turned it up 3 inches and micro-pleated in the extra fullness into purchased 1-inch-wide bias binding (that’s super stiff for some reason) and hand-stitched it to the underlining. I did not press the hem. The skirt is 6 yards in circumference, consisting of four panels. The centre of each panel is cut on the straight grain, which means each seam is on the bias. That was another reason I underlined it with stiff netting. 🙂 Netting on the bias doesn’t grow, and I was surprised, after cutting fashion fabric, that this brocade would if I’d let it have it’s own way.The dress is straining on Vintage Judy through the shoulders, but the V back fits DD3’s shoulders perfectly because I raised it by 1.5 inches and did a short-waist adjustments to keep it sitting properly. I debated putting a waist stay into the dress, but didn’t. I may add one if today’s wearing suggests it would be a good idea. (Today is DD2 and DD3’s piano recital.) The zipper is hand picked, and can I just say it was such a massive pleasure putting a zipper in by hand again? So much simpler than a lapped zip or an invisible zip and completely fuss-free. After inserting the zipper, I made an additional pass over the stitches and added iridescent beads. It’s my first use of this decorative technique. There’s a lot of pattern in this brocade, with a repeat that I ignored except on the CF bodice seam. You can see from the pic above how the BIG SKIRT folds in on itself rather stiffly. So pretty, even if I do say so myself. I’m really liking this pattern, too. It comes with custom bodice sizes A through D cup, two sleeve lengths, and seriously, peeps – who couldn’t love that BIG SKIRT?
My DD2 needed a new Christmas dress this year, having outgrown every single one in the closet, including all the ones made in previous years for DD1. I always knew the day would come when all three of my girls would be all the same size – albeit with their own very different styles and colouring and shape. *sigh* It just seems like I’m not quite ready for them to not be so little anymore. It’s so funny when I think about making new dresses each year for them because they were growing so fast. And then there’s been the lull over the last few years where I just needed to make one to fill in a gap. This year, I’m making three new pretty dresses. This is the first one, and it was done a couple of weeks ago for a party she attended.When I asked her what she wanted, she requested a repeat of a previously made green taffeta dress with a lace bodice which she has worn for a coupe of winters. But I couldn’t find the exact same lace when I went looking, so settled for this silk organza for the bodice of the new dress. I used this dress from Burda’s February issue, which will fit into my Burda 2013 Challenge nicely. There were no fitting issues or construction challenges with this garment. I haven’t made up the sash, only because DD2 doesn’t want a sash, and I know she would never wear it even if I did put the time into making it. Besides, she’s a bit beyond a sash-and-bow style.
The dress is sized up to a child’s 152, and DD2 is really an adult size 36, so I added the required width, and pleated the neckline to get a close fit. And no, I did not put any thought into pattern placement for the embroidery. I wanted it to sit where it may, and be done with it as it seemed rather random anyways. The bodice is underlined with the green taffeta, and the sleeves are only organza.I did not have any green zippers in my stash and didn’t have the time to run out to get one (I was sewing this under a time crunch for that party deadline!!!), but found these buttons in my stash. It’s been a while since I did a back button closure on dresses for my daughters, and this was a nice touch, I thought. I added a fly for extra coverage. And pink lining! DD2 loves pink and it adds a touch of whimsy. It also picks up on the pink embroidery in the silk: one row of squares is flat silk, the other circles done in metallic threads.I adjusted the suggested length of each ruffle layer to about half, as the taffeta has a lot of body and too much would be too poufy!! Each layer of ruffles is attached to the skirt proper, which is then gathered and attached to the bodice.
I also thought I’d bead the bodice after constructing the dress, of course. It was rather an afterthought, and now that its done, I’m not crazy about it. I wanted it to have that little something extra, but the beads don’t really show up that well, at least in the photos. The fabric is very “alive” in real life, and I obviously don’t have the photography skills to capture it to show you. It’s a pretty dress, and DD2 is happy to wear it, which is win-win.