Op Art Tee

Burda 02-2013-126This the second of three tops that I’m working on right now.  The third is in the toile stage because it must fit perfectly.  When you see the fabric, you’ll understand why!  Anyways, this lovely little tee with gathered raglan sleeves from Burda’s February issue – 02/2013 #126 – has been popping up all over the internet these days, and I know why!  It’s the perfectly fun take on the basic tee.

Burda 02-2013-126I cut a size down from my usual size – typical for knits, but I could have gone another size down through the shoulders and bust.  It’s a little loose, but it’s not going to fall off my shoulders or be guilty of any wardrobe malfunctions.  And it’s very very long.  I trimmed a good 5 inches from the bottom of this top and my bottom hem is 1.5 inches deep.  And there’s still enough length to pool at my waist during wear!

neck bindingThe only change I made was to not follow Burda’s directions for binding the neckline.  My experience with bound necklines in a knit is not fraught with pretty successes, so I thought I’d just do the standard neckline edging with a strip of self-fabric on the cross grain.  And I cut my length about 2 inches shorter than Burda suggested.  It’s good, but it could be a snugger fit around.

Burda 2-2013-126My conclusions on this one:  a great little tee pattern.  You can’t really see the gathers on the sleeves, but I like the shape of it and would highly recommend it anyone!

Polka Dot Top

I was sort of kinda maybe definitely getting stuck with my SWAP jackets. The muslins are cut and waiting to be sewn and fitted (this is the nightmare part for me, especially since I don’t have a sewing partner to help me pin and mark and I only have so much patience to guide DH through the process, although he is so willing to learn and help and work with me – God bless him!) and I’m not really looking forward to the challenge or the process, so instead of not sewing anything at all until I mentally go through the toile/fitting stages, I thought I’d jump in and sew up a bunch of tops.  And I’m glad I did!  This is the first of three.  I initially bought this stylized dotty knit after reading about Winnie’s Polka Dot Frock Fest, hoping to sew something dotty, although not the New Look dress Winnie was using for her sewalong.

Burda 1-2013-123A frontThe other piece of the puzzle that’s been mulling around in the back of my mind is the Burda 2013 Challenge.  Maria over at La Inglesita posted back in December about her goal to sew at least one garment from each issue of Burda for 2013 since those issues often sit on our shelves and don’t get traced and sewn up into wearable 3D items.  I don’t know about you, but often I’ll read and re-read a Burda issue, earmark one or several things and mentally sew them up in that particular fabric from my stash.  Heck, I’ll even mentally wear them, but it gets left behind in ISL (Imaginary Sewing Land) for some weird reason. Melissa at Fehr Trade set herself a similar challenge last year. It’s a nice idea and perhaps the impetus that I need to sew up the things that catch my eye in my Burda subscription, so I thought I’d casually join along.

Burda ChallengeAnyway, these two random pieces melded into a very happy top! I had only about 30 inches of the knit, and after draping it on Ancient Annie, and looking at it for a couple of days, decided I really wanted the cowl neck even though I already have 2 others in my life.  (As an aside, I wonder when cowl necklines will be so ridiculously passé that I won’t want to wear them anymore…..)burda-1-2013-123A.jpg

It’s an easy peasy sew from Burda’s January 2013 issue (#123A).  The knit is a lovely rayon and it’s got every single shade of every colour in my wardrobe.  It’s definitely going to be a favourite top because it coordinates with everything!  I had to put in a CB seam because I wanted the dark dots to sit around my hips, and there were one two rows of dark dots and not enough width in the fabric to accommodate both front and back pieces laid out in the same direction.burda 1-2013-123AThat said, after it was almost finished I tried it on and realized that the band of dark dots did sit across my hips like I wanted it to, but above it were rows of very light dots that didn’t look so great pooling across my waistline.  So I cut about 4 inches of the light dots out and added a band across the bottom with the dark dots.  I cut the band about 2 inches smaller than my hip measurement, and 13 inches wide.  It’s seam up the CB and then folded in half, right sides together, and stitched to the bottom of the top.

IMG_8322I did do one of my cheat FBA’s on this top:  I shortened the back through the upper back (and by extension the drop shoulders which raised the armscye up to an appropriate level) and again at the waist for a total of 2″.  Then I shortened the front through the sleeve so that my sleeves would be the same length, but darted it out to the CF which increased the width of the cowl, but allowed for the extra length and width required.  I thought it would work well since it’s a cowl neck anyways, and if it’s got 2 inches more fabric in the drape, it wouldn’t hurt the design any.  I’m happy with it.  Each FBA I do is an experiment.  I supposed if I had a block it would lose the experimental feel to it, but I like tackling each piece at a time.  It slows me down and I always end up getting frustrated learning something new in the process. HA!

Burda 1-2013-123A topOh, and d’ya like my plywood environment?  This is what my kitchen looks like now.  And I have a confession to make:  in a not-so-nice I’m-going-to-make-my-point sorta way, I decided to keep a photoblog going of the transformation of the space.  Now, I know DH doesn’t read my sewing blog, so I can freely tell you that he and I don’t see eye to eye on how to go about this.  I’d rather have hired it out to a designer and contractor, but he wants to save moula forever and do the job himself.  Can you smell the trouble?

Up next: my optical illusion tee!

Winter Vogue 1250

Vogue 1250 dark

Have you all survived the Christmas whirl of food, gifts, visiting; repeat?  Our Christmas consisted of a rambunctious Christmas Eve (with requisite ball skirts) and a very quite Christmas Day in PJs.  And today is our first 6 inches of snow!  *happy happy snow dance*  Now it feels like Christmas!  🙂

Last week, in the middle of the preparation rush, I made up a winter version of Vogue 1250, simply because I had extra of  “the ugliest fabric I’ve ever seen”, according to DD3. But how could I refuse when it’s full of interesting patterns and so many of my favourite colours? It’s a heavier ITY knit from EmmaOneSock.  It’s a patchwork pattern that is printed in blocks, and I thought it would be great for a casual Burda top.


I used #130 from the 9/2012 issue.  It was sewn on a whim, and literally took about 1 hour to cut and sew, with fitting towards the end. I significantly altered the pattern as you’ll see.


The top is 30 inches from the back neck. I didn’t want a tunic that long, so I shortened it to 24 inches. It’s also very loose fitting, and I didn’t want to need to wear a belt, so I scaled down a size through my hips.  I wanted it to stay at hip level and not slide down to mid-thigh length.


The instructions were very simple to follow, for me, but I’m getting used to Burda’s way of writing, I think. They suggested trimming the seam allowance from the back neckline, adding ribbon to the right side of the seamline, turning it in and stitching it into place. I used a strip of the ITY cut on the cross grain instead – simply a personal preference!


I added about 3 inches to the depth of the neck facing so there’s no risk of the wrong side flipping out.


And sandwiched the facing with the shoulder seams.


This is in the instructions, and it’s a great and easy way to attach a cowl facing neatly and securely.


I shortened the sleeves and did gather the bottom. It would have been bulky in the ITY, and my previous experience with such gathered sleeves is annoying for my current work requirements around the house!


The Vogue dress is odd, but I’m liking the oddness of it. When I put it on to check fitting, DH remarked that it was a nice dress.

Vogue 1250 back

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite have enough fabric, so the skirt is one size smaller than it should be. To remedy this, I stitched the “side seams” (very long darts in reality) with a 1/4″ seam allowance and added a 2 inch strip down the CB of the skirt. It’s not the prettiest, but it fits and looks nice from the front! *head desk*  I’m hoping no one will be looking at the back much, although it doesn’t seem to be such a horrid patch fix given the patchwork print.

Vogue 1250 winter

Happy Belated Birthday Giveaway

birthdayTuesday this past week was my birthday, and I don’t like to mention birthdays out of a wish they’d go away, but since the most wonderful birthday present every showed up in my e-inbox as I was blearily getting everyone ready for school, I thought I’d share my excitement at the news and pass it around in the form of my own birthday giveaway.

Tj, of The Perfect Nose, hosts monthly giveaways, a catalogue of which can be found here.  For the month of November she was offering a Knipmode winter supplement on one of my favourite items of clothing: coats. Now, never having ever beheld a Knipmode anything in the flesh, and dearly loving all things wintery and  coat-ish, I threw my hat into the draw.  And won!  What a perfect birthday present to wake up to on Tuesday!  Woo hoo!  I’ve never won anything in a giveaway before, so this was doubly exciting!


I’d also like to say thank you to the lovely and inspiring Carolyn, Zoe and CherryPix for passing along the One Lovely Blog badge to me.  I’m honoured! Since this blog is mostly about me and my sewing life, I shan’t bore you with more trivia than you’ve already come to know about myself, but I most definitely will pass along my appreciation of a host of blogs that I read and enjoy.  Do you find it difficult to nominate blogs for awards?  I do.  How do I choose? So I’ll mention several that I’ve just started reading over the last few weeks, as I need to update my blog roll and you won’t find the links there as of today… yet!

Tulle & Tweed

Karin from Sew Here we Go Again

Kay the Sewing Lawyer

Anne from Petty Grievances

Mrs. Mole from Fit for a Queen

The Overflowing Stash

Mad for Mod – in German, but worth the translation effort!

And since it’s my birthday, I’d like to pass around the giveaway cheer and offer up a choice of the following lengths of fabric (because I cannot choose what to give away).

First, 1.4 metres (150 cm wide) of a poly-lycra knit.  I’m sorry I don’t really know the difference between ITY and a plain poly knit, but the edges of this do not curl, it’s got a medium weight and it’s stable.  The background is an espresso shade of brown. IMG_5264

Second, 1.25 metres (100 cm wide) length of lace.  It’s black, white and gold.IMG_5265IMG_5266

Last, 2.5 metres (115 wide) of silk chiffon, which would look really pretty made up as a floaty dress for spring or blouse, perhaps? IMG_5260

The Belated Birthday Giveaway rules are:
  1. Leave a comment telling me a) what book you’re reading now and b) what fabric you’d like.  If you’d like a chance at more than one, please state that!
  2. I am quite happy to ship internationally, so please include yourself, wherever you may sew!
  3. I’ll make the draw one week from today on Saturday, December 15th.

Thank you all for playing along, and spread the word!

A tank top I just might keep

I have a love-hate relationship with tank tops.  I like the fact that they’re cool on a hot summer’s day, or great for layering under jackets, but generally speaking I just don’t like them very much.  As a trial (and to use up remnants I didn’t much care about), enter Burda Plus SS-2011-421.I just say I was pleasantly surprised by the time I tried this on.  I had enough remnants of dotty jersey from the Claire McCardell dress that I could get this top out of it.  And I’m liking it.  I may use this pattern as a TNT for jersey remnants of approximately one metre.  I was initially drawn to the pattern because it just looked so nice on the model, who wears is in about 5 different versions throughout the magazine spread.  I liked the gathered CF, and, quite frankly, thought I’d use this little project to see if such a design would look half decent.

The armholes and neckline are finished with a strip of self-fabric cut on the straight grain like most knit garments.  The edges are finished prior to sewing up the sides or CF seams.  It’s fast and it looks nice.  I don’t own a cover stitch machine, and probably never will, so I simply turned up the hem allowance and stitched two lines of very long stitches while stretching the bejeebers out of the fabric.  I used a straight stretch stitch – or triple stitch – for all the seams.  I’m really liking that stitch for knits.  It’s very secure, so I can safely trim the allowances down to as little as 3/16”,  and I don’t have to bother serging the seams if I don’t want to.

I still haven’t figured out Burda’s sizing for knits. I’ve made up a couple of garments from BurdaStyle, and they all seem to be drafted on the big side. If I cut the pattern according to my measurements and Burda’s recommendation, it invariably ends up huge. Not so this pattern. Odd, but welcome. I cut the smallest size without any seam allowances, and although it does work for me, I’d prefer a little more fabric in the width for the next garment. I wasn’t too sure about the depth of the neckline, so I adjusted it up about 2 inches. I think I’ll leave it as drafted for the next go ‘round. Ditto the armscyes – I re-drafted them a little on the high side. Comfortable, but a little high for my liking. This means, dear readers, that I can actually sew up this dear little top without any adjustments.

You could knock me over with the proverbial feather. It also makes me wonder, “Do all the Burda Plus patterns fit like this?” If they do, and I don’t have to make 30 different adjustments to each pattern, I’m in cut-and-sew-without-thinking-fitting heaven!

McCalls 4228: The Claire McCardell Day Dress

About six months ago, Tasia over at Sewaholic mentioned this pattern on her Facebook update…. or was it a blog post?  I cannot remember, but I do remember clicking on over to the Etsy shop that was selling this pattern and purchasing it on a whim.

It was the first ever vintage pattern that I have owned, and I was quite excited to open it up and have a look.  It was in perfect condition, although there was no pattern envelope.  It was housed in a paper bag with a magazine photo of the pattern taped to the front.  No information about yardage except for a handwritten notation “3 3/8 yards” on the back.  The dress is a size 16, which I thought could be tweaked to fit me, since that’s usually where I start with a pattern.  I loved the blue of the dress, and thought about making it in a deep teal jersey, but couldn’t bring myself to purchase the fabric since I’m really trying (really, I am) to whittle down my stash instead of adding to it.  And I had purchased the plum jersey, pictured, to make up the Donna Karan Vogue 1259 dress, but decided I’d use it for the McCardell dress.  But I cut it wrong.  Bad.  Very very bad.

And then I went to Fabricland.  Ugh!  I honestly only went to purchase fabric for DD3’s winter dress coat, but they had a 50% sale going for members, and the table of knits was BOGT and…  and…  and…  So much for shopping my stash.  But, in defence of economy and wise fabric purchases, this dress cost me all of $15 + HST, so it’s a steal compared to what I usually sometimes end up coming home with.McCardell 4

The fabric is a rayon lycra knit in a rich chocolate colour, but it’s got little olive green fuzzy polka dots all over it. They’re really a nice touch – a little like velvet spots – they catch the light and change from light to dark like velvet will.  And they shed, but that’s beside the point.  I really liked the green dots.  The interesting part of this dress is its construction.

If my memory serves me correctly, Claire McCardell was an American designer that revolutionized daily dressing, mostly through her use of knits and her swimwear.  I’m not a McCardell expert, so if any of you are, please correct me (or fill in the details) if I’m wrong.  I’m also pretty sure that jerseys or knits were a relatively new thing in terms of fashion fabrics, and the give in a jersey wasn’t something designers were making the most of, like today’s designers do.  So, this dress has reinforced seams.  I think the fluidity of a jersey appealed to McCardell , but she didn’t want the garment to stretch out of shape.  Here’s a shot of the interior of the bodice.interior of bodice

Every seam is reinforced with seam binding.  I used lace seam binding for the bodice.  The sleeves, CB seam and side seams are all stitched with the seam seam bindingside zipbinding to prevent the jersey from stretching out of shape.  The back pieces are cut on the bias, so that the “V” neckline edges are cut on the grain.  And every single facing is bound.  I could have omitted this step, but I wanted to do the dress as the instructions dictated for the vintage flair.  I used olive green china silk from my scrap stash for the pocket lining and the skirt CB and side seams.  I was running short of the lace binding, and wanted to use it for the skirt hem. There is a waist stay, which you can probably barely see in the picture above, and a side zipper inside the pocket opening.

I did not do any adjustments to this pattern because it’s made of jersey, and because there’s a lot of fabric in the crossover front (about 6 pleats, each 4 inches deep), and a lot of fabric gathered into the skirt.  I’m not so crazy about the pockets, but I left them in because of the zipper.  I didn’t want to mess around with the zipper placement. McCardell 1I did not make up the belt that came with the pattern for a couple of reasons, mostly because I just cannot find a two-pronged belt buckle that’s 3 or 4 inches wide.  I do have a date for the Fashion District next Wednesday, and it’s on my list, but until I get the right buckle, this purchased belt with have to do.  It’s the right width, but it’s very stiff and the bottom sits at my natural waist.  The belt pattern is only 2 inches wide, which I don’t think would be wide enough for this dress.  I much prefer the wider belt that the model is wearing, so if I ever do find the perfect buckle, I’ll be making this up as a wider belt.McCardell 5 And I have to wear it backwards, which is probably really stupid, but it works for now until I find that perfect belt buckle.  BTW, there’s nothing like a rearview shot to bring a hefty dose of reality to one’s view of oneself.  I had no idea I was so w-i-d-e across the back hips.  Brother.  The gathering of the skirt fabric does NOT help, either.backBut you can get a good idea of the bias cut of the back bodice from this picture, and the small “v” back neckline.  The sleeves are raglan, and a little shy of my wrists.  I don’t mind that length, as I prefer them pushed up a bit anyways. McCardell 2

This was a fun pattern to put together.  It’s a classic cut of dress, comfy because it’s knit, and the style suits me, I think.  I’m not sure if I’ll make up another one, but if I did, it would be in a dark teal blue, I’d shorten the waist by about 2 inches, and probably try a circle skirt to eliminate the dirndl look. But then I’d probably have totally different dress!  As it is, I’ll probably wear this dress a lot once I get the perfect belt!