A silk Cambie

Cambie front

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.

Cambie back

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.

Cambie bodice muslin

I underlined the bodice front, back and the sleeves with the muslin.

silk Cambie bodice interior - Copy

I lined the bodice and waistband with cotton voile, and hand picked the understiching along the bodice edge.

Silk Cambie finishing details

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.

silk Cambie waist stay

I decided to bind the hem with bemberg because I had nothing suitable in stash and didn’t feel like running to the store.

silk Cambie bound hem

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.


Red Christmas

Burda 11-2012-121 redShe’s so pretty.  Isn’t she pretty?  She’s so pretty!   OK.  Enough mummy bragging. Down to the sewing stuff.

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.

Burda 11-2012-121 backBurda 11-2012-121 frontI 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.Burda 11-2012-121 sideI 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.

Blue Christmas

chinese brocade dressIsn’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 PatterV8615n 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.https://i0.wp.com/the-dandy-life.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/white-christmas-vera-ellen.pngI chose to use a stiff netting as underlining – just one layer – and the effect is similar.Vogue 8615 skirt interiorThe 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.Vogue 8615 backThe 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.)  Vogue 8615 beaded zipperThe 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. Vogue 8615 blueThere’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?

Green Christmas

Burda 2-2013-148 greenMy 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.Burda 2-2013-148 bodiceWhen I asked her what she wanted, she requested a repeat of a previouslyBurda 2-2013-148 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.

Burda 2-2013-148 necklineThe 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.Burda 2-2013-148 backI 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.Burda 2-2013-148 fly openingI 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.tiered skirt

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.beaded