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.

Galactic Princess Costume: the Amidala-wannabe dress

Burda 1-2013-142Pretty, isn’t it?  This was a hoot to sew up.  I love sewing frosting and working with taffeta and chiffon and all things unnecessary to basic wardrobe survival. The pattern for the overdress is Burda 1/2013 #142.142_0113_b_amidala_dress_largeI used a poly black/white shot chiffon, black/white shot poly taffeta that reads like liquid silver and a poly silver shantung for the bodice lining and belt. I chose to add piping to the neck and arm edges because I just think it looks better than a simple turned edge.  You can see the poly shantung bodice lining below.Burda 1-2013-142 shoulder detailThe “epaulets” are remnant bits from DD1’s fish-scale skirt hand-stitched over the shoulder seams.  I must say, I like the sparkly bits.  And doesn’t that taffeta look amazing?  I changed the back to a corset lace-up style so that it can be worn without alteration if people grow.  The loops are self-fabric bias loops, and there’s a 4-inch wide modesty panel lying underneath, so lots of grow room in this garment.Burda 1-2013-142 laced backThe modesty panel is stitched directly to the underskirt along the bottom of the placket opening.  Burda had the skirt and lining cut as large rectangles.  I chose to shape them into very wide gores, with pleats to eliminate some bulk at the waist.  The pleats are then gathered into the waist.  I also cut the chiffon a slight bit shorter than the taffeta underskirt to prevent tripping and tearing of the fabric.  I think taffeta will wear harder than the chiffon through school halls and classrooms.  Here’s the back view with the belt.Burda 1-2013-142 backWhat fun, eh? The belt is a 12 x 32 inch long rectangle of poly shantung stitched into a tube and turned right side out and pressed. I used remnants from DD1’s fish-scale skirt, cut into strips and stitched down through all thicknesses. Very slowly stitched, I may add. Then I added the same silver trim from the blouse sleeves down the centre of the belt and finished it off with a heavy-duty velcro closure.Burda 1-2013-142 beltHere’s a pic of the blouse front with the self-fabric ties.  Perhaps they’re a bit long, but I prefer them to another texture (like cording). Burda 1-2013-142 frontIt keeps the focus on that belt.  Love the belt.  galactic princess costumeDD3 has already worn the ensemble around the house several times, and at one point walked into the kitchen without the blouse and a little black sweater over the dress.  “Look, mom!  It’s going to be perfect for Christmas Eve!”  It’s a good thing, since she’s outgrown Blue Christmas.

Pattern Review: Burda 10/2013 #120

Burda 10-2013-120I love sparkly stuff.  LOVE!  Believe it or not, when browsing through the malls, the sparklies always catch my eye first.  Something about little flashes of light, I think.  Anyways, DD1 saw this lovely little sequin number in the October 2013 Burda and I jumped on the bandwagon for two reasons:  everyone needs a sparkly skirt if they’re a teen, and it would fit the Burda Challenge 2013.

The sequins are sewn onto a stretch mesh in rows, and the stretch mesh posed a slight problem with this design, mostly because of those yoke seams.  Well, there was a problem in my mind because I’ve only ever worked with sequined fabric once before, and it remains a UFO.  I was determined to not let this be a UFO, and prayed I could sew through the sequins instead of having to remove and re-attach them from the seam allowances.  I could.  *whew*  I did remove sequins from seam allowances along the waist and the bottom edge of the yoke along the CB panels.  I would not have needed to do this if the sequins had been small and circular, but as you can see from the pics, these are an elongated shape, about 5mm long.

What about pressing seam allowances on a sequin fabric?  I didn’t catchstitch each seam allowance in place, which, as I write this, seems like it should have been the default for this type of fabric. I used a linen pressing cloth and a low iron and carefully pressed each seam.

The pattern is straight-forward, with each of the yoke pieces lengthened as much as you like to form the lining.  The pleated skirt consists of two lengths of fabric pleated into 5 pleats per piece, 6 inches deep and spaced 3 inches apart.  Now, if you understood that, good job, because I am mathematically challenged and it took a good 20 minutes to figure out how such equations would fit the lower edge of the yokes.

Burda 10-2013-120 liningI flat-felled the lining seams to keep them tidy, and for the CB seam, turned the seam allowances under and stitched them down below the zip opening.  The lining is a poly taffeta.  I wanted a lining without stretch to allow the mesh freedom to move without being stretched.  Hopefully this will prolong the life of the sequin mesh, because the mesh is quite (annoyingly) delicate.Burda 10-2013-120 zipperI hand-picked the zipper and did not use an invisible one.  Seriously, I could not imagine inserting an invisible zip into this fabric.  I don’t go looking for sewing nightmares on purpose!!  The zip is 9 inches and hangs down past the yoke, according to directions.  Interesting, because zips extending past the bottom of a garment à la couture have been rolling around my sewing mind lately.Burda 10-2013-120 zipI wondered about this approach at first, but it was the only way to insert the zip without putting a CB seam through the pleated lower skirt, and after fiddling around a bit, decided I didn’t want a CF/CB seam. I handpicked the zip to the CB of the yoke seams, leaving the bottom seam allowance free to attach to the lower skirt.  It worked well, and I got to try something new.

The hem is catchstitched into place.Burda 10-2013-120 hemThere’s no waistband on this skirt, and I debated adding a grosgrain ribbon for one, but decided against it.  I thought the clean sequin yoke looked the best.  And, because no waistband equals a difficulty in hanging the skirt, I added little ribbon hangers.Burda 10-2013-120 hangersVerdict:  a sparkly skirt!!! So pretty and so fun to put together.

A lot of work for a simple shirt

This sequin business is a PITA, and I mean it.  Every single strand of sequins and beads is attached by a chain stitch, so I need to be super careful about how much I pull on a thread to eliminate the pretty things prior to stitching the seams or I end up eliminating too many and will have to put on inches of replacement pieces.  Here’s the seam allowances for one sleeve prior to stitching it.

sleeve (2)And here’s a closeup of a shoulder seam after stitching, but before adding back the pieces that are missing.  Messy business.

shoulder seams

And here’s a picture of one of the darts after my final ministrations of re-attaching the missing beads.  It was near impossible to make the lines of beads and sequins line up perfectly.  I’m not exactly happy with this, but what the heck.  This shirt is a learning experience and an experiment all rolled into one.

dartAnd then, of course, after having fitted the toile to perfection, the beaded silk hangs differently, so I’m re-fitting as I go. This has got to be one of the fussiest projects ever.  I hope I wear this.

Finicky Bits

Sequin DartsThis is a bust dart from my current project.  I’ve never worked with sequin-encrusted fabric before.  It’s impossible to sew with a machine, mostly because the small seed beads are not needle-friendly.  I’ll be constructing this garment completely by hand.