Request Gown is Complete!

Well, peeps, I am really happy to write that the Request Gown is finished and happily delivered.  Oy!  What a learning and stretching process this was.  At many times during the last hours of work on it I thought, “If this was for me, I’d have wadded it a long time ago.”  But I couldn’t.  I had to figure it out, problem solve and make it work for this morning, when it was due!  Which is a good thing, because it pushed me outside my comfort zone and into areas that were really very s-c-c-a-a-r-r-y!  And I learned that I really love/hate the challenge of making something work.  Love it because it’s new and interesting; hate it because it makes me work and cry and realize the craters in the surface of my sewing skills.  DSCN0568

The dress is actually a lot darker than the photo – a French navy – which is so close to black that it photographed like black:  impossibly.  The fabric is a heavy poly crepe, but one of those super nice ones with excellent weight and drape. The front and back are mirror versions:  draped with pleating pulled into a circular inset at the left waist and draped/pleated fabric on the right shoulder.  It has a side zip on the right side which was simple to insert as the seam is a plain seam.  (whew!) DSCN0571There is also a thigh-high slit over the front of the left leg, and this is where my grief began.  I needed to have 7 button/loops at the top, and didn’t want a seam running down the side of the skirt from the bottom of the inset only.  It would have been ideal to do it like that and later on when the hemline went all AWOL because of the drape/grainline I really wished I’d cut it as two pieces.  But I decided to treat it as an extra-long welt with the loops at the top.  Here’s my process, for those who are interested, beginning with the marking of the slit line.slit bastingI stitched with a 1.2 stitch length, 1/8″ on either side of the markings, up the side that would hold the button loops until about 2.5″ from the top of the slit. facing slit

Basted my bias loops together into one piece.  I like working with little fiddly loops, by the way. The first time I ever did a dress with loops I was about 14, and I was hooked.  Smile

button loops

Pin basted them into place.

basted loops

Lay the facing over the loops, stitched up to the top of the slit.

slit reinforcingI opened up the facing to see all the little tail ends of the loops, and trimmed them to less than 1/8″ because I needed to stitch down the other side of the welt and didn’t want the ends to be caught in the seam.loop ends

This is what they look like from the right side.


Once the other side of the welt was stitched – again 1/8″ away from the marking – I slashed the welt open very very carefully.


And understitched both sides.


Finished.  slit weltJust a note:  after the penultimate fitting, it was decided the slit needed to be 1 inch higher, so I had to unpick and redo the top of the welt/slit with the loops.  Needless to say, the second go at the loops was perfection.  The little piece of beige by the top button in the pic is the dress form.slit

The slit made hemming a bit of challenge.  After weeping and wailing in frustration because it just WOULD NOT hang straight, a lot of finicky eye-balling and learning a lot about the combined effects of grain/drape/fabric weight, I managed to get it perfect.  It’s not hanging properly on Vintage because she leans forward (!?). 

The sleeves are split and closed with self-covered buttons and bias loop closures.  They looked like this prior to being set.completely sleeveThis is what they looked like once they were in.  On a person, they fall apart and are held together at the centre by the button/loops.  Vintage just doesn’t handle modeling very well. *sigh*  But I’m sure you get the point.gown back

The dress turned out beautifully, despite my wanting to take scissors to it at numerous stages.  As I made very clear before I took any of these Request Garments on, I am a far cry from a professional dressmaker, but I’m pleased with the dress, and so is the Requestor.  Learning like this is hard slogging!

Still drowning

I’d like to apologize in advance for making any readers who are strong swimmers cringe.  I’m desperately wishing I’d had swimming lessons at this point.IMG_4064

This is muslin number 3 for the Request Gown.  I cannot thank those of you who left comments on my last drowning post regarding this horrendous challenging project enough.  You were all very encouraging to one learning to swim, and I’m grateful.  I have never in my life had to create such an incredibly customized Franken pattern.  You may recall in my first muslin we were considering very full gathered sleeves, but, in all honesty – and maybe it’s the old sheets – everything looked like Little House on the Prairie or one of those long-sleeved flannel nighties I used to wear as a small child.  So the consensus was long tapered sleeves.  Split down the centre.  With loop/button closure every 6 inches or so.sideI did do the circle and draping in a mirror front and back, and we decided we’d see if a zipper on the right side of the dress where there’s no detailing would be better.  Certainly it is from an insertion point of view – less mess and patience required to match things up perfectly while inserting an invisible zipper (which is always a bit of challenge for me anyways).  Here’s the back view, and you can see that I still need to add more width through the shoulders.  I decided to leave everything above the waist on the bias as much as possible.  I dunno….  I don’t know enough about draping/drafting to make an informed decision on that one, but I think leaving it on the bias will give it a more fluid look.back The bodice is on the straight grain in the picture below, but will be on the bias, too, since more draping is required across the bust.  I just don’t know how the heck I’m going to get all the draping into the desired 1-inch wide shoulder seam.  This dress is pushing my comfort zone.  I have realized that I’m operating in an information void, which is frustrating me.  If I knew what I was doing, or what I needed to do, it would problem-solve much faster and easier.  And the front slit will still be as muslined with 5 buttons with loop closures at the top.  I guess it will have to be faced so I have a seam in which to sew the loops.front

Burda’s One-Shouldered Dress

Thanks so much to everyone for your kind comments on the Request Jacket!  It’s nice to have some breathing space to actually post about some of the projects I’ve been sewing, what between September Start-Up Madness and various other responsibilities.  And now I’d like to introduce you to the Request Dress.Burda 01-2012-109This is a picture of Burda 01-2012-109 – an asymmetrical dress both with and without a sleeve option.  I’ve wanted to make this dress for a lark since first seeing it, and while it was a contender for DD1’s grad dress, it lost the competition.  However, I’ve made one up on request and thought I’d post a review of the pattern for anyone else interested in making this.  And a disclaimer about the fit of it on Vintage Judy:  it was not made-to-measure for Vintage, and so doesn’t do her justice.Burda 01-2012-109

Pattern: Burda 1-2012-191

Pattern Sizing: size 34-42

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Absolutely, except for my changes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. The instructions for this are particularly easy to follow and well-written.  I did not have any difficulty understanding them, although I did not follow them to the letter as outlined below.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The draping and the asymmetrical neckline.

Fabric Used: a burnout polyester and Bemberg lining

Pattern alterations:  I made several.  I added a casing for elastic at the sleeve opening.  The sleeve is a large rectangle of fabric that is left to itself once it’s been set into the side seam, and my client preferred a cuffed version.  It’s a cleaner silhouette and won’t drag through your dinner. This seems to be a popular change from the posts on Burda’s Russian site (click the image on the right – it links through to all the projects posted there based on this pattern).  I also changed the draping and the sleeves to get a mirror version of the dress, so the sleeve is on the right arm, not the left as per Burda.

I did not face the neckline.  Burda calls for the lining to be cut on the bias and attached to the fashion fabric as an underlining would be.  Garment seams are then pressed open and finished and a facing added to the neckline or sleeveless armscye. After the first fitting, I decided to treat the lining as a true lining and let it hang free from the neckline.  It was pulling the skirt off grain in a way that was really very annoying.  Burda suggests fabrics with a substantial weight/drape, such as silk velvet, wool crepe or a metallic fabric, and the burnout fabric was perhaps a little lightweight to hold its own against a bias lining of Bemberg.  I really love the feel and drape of Bemberg, but when the bias cures, it cures by a mile.  Let’s just say the bias lining seemed to be the curse of this dress.  Well, that and all the design tweakings.Burda 01-2012-109 front The side zipper is an invisible zip, and it is inserted into the side seam with all the gathers.  I’m not too crazy about this arrangement, and if I ever do make it up again, I’ll be putting the zip into the side without the gathers.  They make zipping it up a little bit of a chore as one needs to be constantly checking gathered fabric doesn’t get caught in the zip. 

There were changes to this pattern.  A lot.  This dress was made on request, and given the pictures/description of what was wanted, I thought this would be a good place to start.  In retrospect, Vogue 7762  would have been a much better place to start because of the shoulder issues.  Read on! 

After fell stitching the lining to the armscye and zipper, I fit the dress for the hem.  Well, forget it.  There were major problems with the sleeve/shoulder placement, which affected the neckline’s placement and, therefore, fit.  I had to raise the armscye by about 3 inches because it was pulling everything down messing up the fit across the bust, and because the shoulder is dropped in all those Burda Style pictures (why do I never notice these details prior to sewing something?) I had to shorten the gathers of the shoulder by 2 inches in order for the cap of the sleeve to sit at the edge of the shoulder.   This is the dropped shoulder version, prior to my changes.  You can see how low the armscye is and that it basically has no shaping.  IMG_3521And this affected the hang of the entire dress, which I have tweaked three times to get the fit just right, never mind the ridiculous idea of using a straight rectangle for the sleeve.  I can see how this would be fine if the dropped shoulder was left as designed, but with a fitted shoulder, a properly shaped sleeve head and armscye was required.  So I cut a  full sleeve from an OOP Vogue pattern and re-shaped the armscye from simply an opening in the side seam to a properly curved armscye.  Needless to say, the sleeve sat properly and didn’t pull the entire dress off kilter once these changes were implemented.

The other significant change that gave me fitting grief was the neckline.  Burda’s neckline cuts straight across the front of the neck and down under the arm.  Makes sense as it keeps the neckline close to the body.  It’s actually a very straight seam, although it’s cut on the bias.  You can see from the picture below (which is the back) just how straight a diagonal line the original neckline was, since I didn’t change the shape of the back.  But the front ended up being scooped out slightly, which meant the grain was all over the map in a length of about 20 inches, and caused the entire neckline to continually grow, regardless of organza interfacing for stabilization.  Yes, I almost cried I was so frustrated.  My DD2 was so sad for me that she burst into tears when I told my kids over lunch one day that they’d all better pray for me because this supposed-to-be-a-simple-dress was making me want to wail in despair!

What I did in the end was ease all of the neckline into a length of twill tape that began just a little R of CF and extended to the zipper.  Let’s just say easing in about 2 inches of fabric into a short space is a little tricky.  But it worked!!!!  *happy dance* The neckline sat snug across the chest and under the arm and there’s still plenty of ease for the bust.  Thank God it was cut on the bias across the bust!   And the gathers in the shoulder were tacked into place to keep the draping from rolling up.  This would not have been necessary if the neckline had not been altered. Burda 01-2012-109 backIf one followed Burda’s original intent with this pattern, it would go together easily and be what you see in their pictures (except for the stupid bias-cut lining used as underlining.  Even in their photos it’s pulling the fashion fabric out of whack).  But based on my journey, I would not mark this an easy project, particularly if you’re hoping for something that fits well after tweaking.  The entire experience is funny, in a twisted sort of way.  I agreed to make this dress as a trial garment.  Y’know, to see if I was happy sewing on request.  Well, it strikes me as being rather like a Mozart aria:  simply written with not soooooo many little black dots on the staves, but decidedly more work than it appears to make it beautiful.

BTW, it was worth the grief in the end:  it looks sharp and sexy on the person for whom it was made.

Burda 7579

B 7579 side

This is the finished jacket that I did my bound buttonholes for, based on Burda 7579.  I made it up on request out of the most lovely wool.  It was a perfect marriage of fabric and pattern, let me tell you.  A complete and utter pleasure to sew.  The suit has a matching pencil skirt, quite pegged, with a CB hemline slit, which I pulled from a vintage Lagerfeld pattern in my stash.  It’s a beautiful ensemble and fits perfectly (although I can’t say that for Vintage Judy in these photos).

B 7579 welts pocketThe jacket has been shortened by about 2 inches.  I was a bit worried about the proportion/placement of the pockets, which also have flaps, on the shorter version but it’s working nicely when the flaps are tucked in.   So I’m leaving them tucked in.  I did the pocket welts on the bias for consistency’s sake since the buttonholes are bias, too, never mind that they just looked waaaay better done on the bias that either straight or cross grain.  The picture below is before shortening the jacket.

welt pocketsThe jacket doesn’t fit Vintage Judy well at all as very evident in this photo, and it desperately needs to be pressed, but isn’t the back belt a nice detail?  The buttons were quite heavy, so I tacked them through all layers to support them.  I raised the collar stand by 5/8″ to order because it needed to sit a bit higher, and re-drafted the collar shape itself so that it could be tacked and stand up.B 7579 back

As you all know, if you’ve been reading posts lately, I am not a patternmaker or tweaker or draper or any such “er” (although I can sew reasonably well, even if I do say so myself) and the little change to this collar put me into a problem-solving line-drawing tailspin for a bit.  And then I leafed through the September Vogue and found this lovely little Chanel 2012 jacketWhich gave me visual directions for my little change on the collar.  B 7579 collarIt worked nicely and was easy to do (thank God!).  And, if I can ever get my sewing queue organized, gave me an idea for an almost identical tweed in my stash….  But haven’t you heard that before?  I have loads of pattern/fabric marriages to make official, but never get around to 99% of them…..

I am in over my head

I’m doing some sewing on request, and one of the garments is a full-length gown.  Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?  But the details are causing me grief!  I am not a pattern maker!  I don’t know anything about where to even begin drafting something.  You’ve all seen how I graft pieces from one pattern onto another to get something totally different (or a mish-mash) before, but this dress is really making me think.  I mean pulling-my-hair-out think.boatneck

Let’s start with the simple stuff (for me).  First, a boat neck.  I eyeballed this one and just cut what I think is going to be a decent neckline and then trued it up.  I’ve basted along the stitching line in the pic above.  Second, the cuffs need to be close-fitting and 5 inches deep with a loop & button closure.  Ok.  I stole the cuff from Burda 12-2010-111, since I am incapable of drafting one from scratch.  It’s going to work perfectly once I get the cuffs on the right way.  *eye roll*  And I just slashed and spread and shortened the sleeve on Vogue 7762 (below) to get the gathered cap and extra fullness to gather into the cuff.Burda 12-2010-111

I must confess for the dress itself I was stumped.  Where to begin?  I don’t know how to add pleats! Vogue 7762 max maraAnd a circular insert at the waist! HELP!  After agonizing over where to start I found this little image via the wonderful world of Google images (what the heck would we do without Google?  How did we survive before?)  I mulled it over for about 13 hours and decided I’d freehand draft the insert and then lay it over the front of Vogue 7762 and see what happened.  I’ve only done the front with the insert and draping (below), although I may add it to the back as well, like the Max Mara dress on the left.  My little idea turned out OK, I think.  Laying the insert pattern over the pleats eliminated a lot of the draping in the Vogue design, so I may slash the muslin and add more, but I’ll see what’s wanted after the first fitting next week.  As it stands, the back is a simple sheath with two shaping darts and a CB zipper.  It may look nicer with the draping and insert continuing around to the back, but that means the zip will go through the insert. Hmmm…

waist insert

So far, I’m feeling pretty good relieved about my attempts to pull this out of (almost) nowhere.  The last part that I’m still thinking about is the thigh-high slit. At this point I’ve just drawn a  potential seam line that will extend into the slit, although I’m not sure it will look so good with all the other design stuff happening.  I don’t really want to put the slit on the other side of the dress because the best way I can think of to face it properly is to have it extend out of a seam, and I don’t want a princess seam up the left side of the dress.  The fashion fabric is a gorgeous drapey mid-weight poly crepe in dark navy, and I don’t think I should just do a slash-and-face-it sort of idea along the lines of a faced placket.  The top of the slit is going to take a lot of stress and I’d hate for it to rip. gown muslin

So, the first muslin of this gown is done, and it fits ol’ Judy horribly.  But it just might work….