A happy compromise

I have come to terms with my desire for couture construction, having a garment to wear within a reasonable amount of time (since I cannot commit full days to totally do a garment with hand sewing) and finishing that I will be happy to on and wear.

Exhibit A: the sleeve seams. I undid the bias binding on the sleeve seams, trimmed the bias silk down to 2.5 cm in width, and bound each allowance edge separately.

And because I disliked the way the seam allowances are visible at the hem of the bell sleeves, I chose to appliqué one of the larger flower motifs on the inside of the sleeve to cover the bottom part of the seam.

In the photo, the bottom sleeve is inside out; the top left sleeve is right side out, but you can see the wrong side peaking out with no seam allowance showing – just another flower. Yay!

I am much happier with this, and am contentedly constructing the rest of the garment along the same idea. Hopefully I’ll have a finished garment to show you by the end of the week.

A Plethora of New Tops

MMM15 Day 12-2

So I’ve been sewing up a few new tops.  The first one is Burda 7/2012 #136, without the ties.  No comment on the ties.

134_0712_b_largeI’ve been wanting to use fabrics I’ve been collecting over the last few years, and this combination of 14 oz rayon-lycra jersey in oatmeal and the scraps from my chocolate Burda 1/2013 #119 seemed to fit the bill. The chocolate jersey is 11 oz, and it doesn’t have the heft of the oatmeal fabric, but it manages. The bands are cut on the cross grain, on a fold, so the folded edge is the neckline. I had to do some tweaking to get the angles of the shoulder, CF and CB seams just right in order to feel secure in this top. The neckline sits (quite) wide. I ended up putting bra keepers in the shoulder seams just for added peace of mind. If you look at the Russian Burda site, lots of versions of this sexy neckline just slip off shoulders coyly. I’m not so coy, so I made the shoulders secure.

Burda 7-2012-136 side

The next top is my go-to for tees.  I just love the fit, neckline and little gathered raglan sleeves of this design:  Burda 02/2013 #126.

I have two versions that are new to me.  First, the crocodile print.

MMM15 Day 6

And then the polka dot one, upcycled from my purged McCardell dress.

MMM15 Day 7

There was so much fabric in that skirt, that I also made a second version in a bigger size of Burda 09/2011 #106. I don’t know what it is about that dotty jersey, but I just love it. Must be the combo of chocolate and olive.

And last, but not least, this little number from Burda 06/2014 #103. 103_062014_b_largeI didn’t quite have enough linen fabric to cut the required length, since this came in a package of roll ends from EOS.  So I added tiers to the bottom.  It’s rather loose, contrary to what the photos look like, which is a good thing.

Burda 6-2014-103 linen top

Here’s a detail shot of the shoulder.

Burda 6-2014-103 liberty

The jersey is intersected by petersham ribbon, which has been edged with bias binding.  It creates a structure from which the jersey literally hangs.  Brilliant.

Burda 6-2014-103 trim back

I used a Liberty Arts Fabric print, and I cannot for the life of me find the name of it.  If you know, please share it in the comments!

Burda 6-2014-103 linen top back

I love the linen jersey.  It’s so light and comfy and luxurious.  It was a PITA to cut, though, because the grain was all skewed.  In retrospect, I coulda/shoulda used petersham in a more contrasting colour to make the binding pop a bit more.  But this is subtle, and I’m happy to wear it, as I am all these new tops!  I did make up one more top in a coral jersey, but the pattern (and solid colour) was all wrong, so I thrifted it.  Well, five keepers out of six ain’t bad! And I’m happy to be sewing my stash!

Do you like sewing new tee patterns, or go for TNTs?

Vogue 1054: Rucci Trousers

Vogue 1054 pantsI’m still on the hunt for trousers I’m wanting to stay with for the long haul.  I’ve had a lot of short-term relationships with most of the trousers I’ve made, so I thought I’d give these a try.  I only own two pairs of casual trousers and find myself wearing them repeatedly during an average week, and I thought it would be fun to see if these actually fit a curvy girl like me given all the design elements so I can have a new pair of trousers to wear.

Vogue 1054I made these up in a stretch cotton sateen, which is one of the suggested fabrics – minus the stretch.  The shine highlights every single possible hint of a flaw, never mind the actually fitting issues.  Completely unwearable and not a keeper in my books, so they’ve already gone to the thrift shop for some lucky person who probably won’t know she’s wearing a Chado design!!!

Anways, since I went to all the trouble of finishing these, I thought I’d share my thoughts about them. First of all, I’ve never inserted a zipper this way.  Yup, the fly is finished.Vogue 1054 pants zipperAnd the instructions never do mention that one needs to trim that extra length of zipper before attaching the waistband.  However, once it’s all trimmed and stitched, this is what you’re left with.Vogue 1054 finished zipIsn’t that gorgeous?  It’s probably one of the more visually pleasing front flys I’ve ever done in my sewing life. Vogue 1054 frontHere’s the inside view of the front.Vogue 1054 zip fly

The pockets are part of the front yokes.Vogue 1054 pocketsAnd the reverse corners were fun.  The details always make a sewing project more pleasurable, imho.  Plain and simple gets tedious after a while, and this pattern is not simple or boring by a long set of instructions.Vogue 1054 reverse corner front Beside the unmentioned need to trim the zipper, there were a couple of notch match-ups that didn’t happen properly in the lining.  Vogue 1054 lining mismatchThe side/yoke pieces double notches didn’t match up on the back pieces, as you can see above, and the same little problem popped up on the front lining piece along the top seam with the notches on the yoke.Vogue 1054 lining yoke mismatchThis wasn’t a good fabric for these trousers, although it was a luxury to sew.  It exaggerates every single wrinkle possible.Vogue 1054 sideThe back patch pockets are flattering.Vogue 1054 backThe legs are very straight, and on a curvy person, that can appear wide – something I’m not too sure about.  I felt they were very dressy trouser-ish while wearing them, and I can’t decide if that’s because they were lined or roomy or a combination of both.  Vogue 1054 shinyI wasn’t sure about altering these trousers, so I cut them according to Vogue’s size recommendations, and they are roomy.  I suppose the stretch factor didn’t help, but they could have been a full size smaller, which I’ll do the next time.Vogue 1054 front (2)And the crotch curve needs some altering for the next pair, but I wasn’t going to futz with these, and I was prepared to finish these, try them on and give them away if they weren’t a perfect fit due to the poor fabric choice.  Silly, I guess, but I had no problem finishing them up beautifully to pass on after wearing them for one afternoon.  Blame it on a new pattern with 69 (sometimes tricky) steps

Final verdict:  What an amazing trouser pattern.  I cannot wait to find the perfect fabric to make these up again.  Patterns with a thousand little details always make my sewing room a happy place, and these are the perfect ticket to happy detail sewing in a trouser pattern.

unintentional denim rescue

Burda 1-2010-136 side backI’ve tried again.  I was so hyped after making my first pair of jeans that I wanted to try again, only this time I was going to try to fix those pesky smile lines in the back.  And I wanted a pair that was heavily topstitched in a dark indigo denim.  The fabric is from my stash – a length of stretch denim blend purchased at a roll end party from Emma One Sock this past year.

I got cocky distracted this time around and didn’t measure properly, so this is a rescue post.  First, I had to add width.  Yup.  I wanted a pair of jeans that fit a little looser than my previous pair, but I didn’t add the extra inch or two of width when I cut.  *headdesk* So, after offering them to DD1 and DD2 (neither of whom were particularly enthused about a new pair of mom-made jeans) I put them aside and went to bed.  For the second day.  During the night, of course, inspiration arrived and I added a strip about 1 3/8 inch wide down the sides.  Piece work was required because I was using scraps.Burda 1-2010-136 cute backI was pretty dayum pleased with myself for this little bit of ingenious rescuing.  Of course it turned the jeans into dress jeans because the legs are wider than I wanted them to be.  My DH thinks they’re too wide.  I will not pick out all that topstitching, so they’re staying wide.  *humph*Burda 1-2010-136 side frontBut let me tell you, I had a saaaagaaaa of fitting frustration that drove me to distraction.  They’re still not the way I want them to fit, but they’re pretty good.  And I think I’ve finally figured out how to fix those lovely little smile lines.  Of course, I learned it too late for this particular pair.  But I now know.Burda 1-2010-136 backAnd they’re too short, damn it.  I wonder how stupid they’d look with a hemline add-on…Burda 1-2010-136 sideY’know… maybe something a bit flared and cut on the bias, because that’s all the scraps I have left!

Gold Chevron Vogue 1027

Vogue 1027  frintI’m grinning like a fiend because I’ve finally sat down at a sewing machine and sewn a few seams!  Woo hoo! This is the first of several stashbustin’-end-of-summer sewing projects before I wrap my head around several jackets that are needed this fall.

I waffled between another Tiramisu dress or my third Vogue 1027, but I really wanted a dress that would hide my waistline fluff instead of draw attention to it, and this light jersey with gold chevrons would be a little less than flattering, I thought, with a Tira midriff section. So the Donna Karan design won the argument.gold chevronsI made a slightly over-zealous FBA which gives the bodice a looser fit than the pattern design, but I’m OK with that.  I don’t like a knit garment to fit like a second skin.Vogue 1027 bindingsI used long narrow strips of fabric cut on the cross grain to finish the neckline and cap sleeves instead of hemming the neckline and using the shaped armhole facings.  This is my preferred finish for knits, but I’m sure you’ve all heard that every time I write a blog post about a knit garment.

I shortened the back by 2 inches – my usual short waist adjustment.  And I shortened the skirt by about 3 inches.  I think this length is summery and flattering.Vogue 1027I hadn’t hemmed the skirt prior to taking the pictures, but I have since folded up a narrow hem and double stitched it.  My new dress form made obtaining an even hem very simple.  One other change:  I added a tricot lining to the skirt.  This is the first yellow dress I’ve owned since I was a 6 year old, twirling in my MacLeod tartan sunburst pleated winter dress, and I’m liking!V 1027

So, I blew it

Unintentionally, of course.  I was only looking for stretch twill in a very specific shade of green.  Which I found.  And haggled down the price, too!  It’s all my daughter’s fault.  If she hadn’t been so intent on finding something for yet another pair of those ridiculous utility pants, I would have promptly left the store!

haul 1From L to R:  black silk chiffon, Italian wool suiting, 4-ply silk crepe, black stretch cotton sateen, silk chiffon print, knit, white poly microfibre, black embroidered silk chiffon and 3 different cuts of ivory silk peau de soie

Honestly!  I would never in a million years have looked at the remnant racks.  Even though a bargain is a bargain, y’know know what I’m sayin’?  And there was a sign saying 50% off the already reduced prices of the fabric ends!  Now, how can a savvy girl refuse that offer?  And I do actually have plans for a couple of the pieces:  the loden twill and black cotton sateen will be pants, the graphic knit is for my DD1 – a dress perhaps? – and the green/orange leopardy print chiffon is going to be an Alice + Olivia top for DD1.haul 2

From R to L: ice blue linen, red Italian linen, Solstiss sequin lace, shot silk taffeta, lavender silk chiffon, greeny-ivory silk charmeuse, and the fabric that started it all:  dark loden stretch cotton twill

There’s actually a funny story to the linen purchases on the far right.  Today was a date with a good friend and her daughter who is looking for a prom dress.  My DD1 loves a store in the Fashion district called Original, and we made an appointment to look for prom dresses amongst their 5000+ stock (it includes Vivienne Westwood pieces which I photographed – bad bad bad! – and studied furiously, but more on that in another post).  After wasting the staff’s time trying on dress after dress and learning about a completely fabulous designer called Byron Lars, we nailed down a prom dress idea that could easily be made for considerably less than the retail price, and so went snooping through all the fabric stores that were open.  (Today being Sunday, not many are in this city!)

The second store we wandered into has the dearest proprietor that loves to haggle.  He asks for it.  I’ve been in his shop numerous times but never purchased anything because… well, he just never had anything I was interested in buying.  Today, however, as I saunter into his domain….

Mr. Shop:  Are you a sewer?  Tell me what this fabric is and I’ll give you a yard for free!

Me:  Yes, I sew.  (having a good look and feel at the bolt he’s pointing to)  You’re actually going to give me a yard for free if I tell you what this is made of?

Mr. Shop:  Yes!

Me: It’s bamboo linen. 

Mr. Shop is absolutely beside himself with joy that I correctly identified this fabric.  I don’t think he remembers showing off this very fabric a couple of summers ago and bragging to me that bamboo can be made into any type of fabric, including linen.  Ha!  Anyways, after wandering through the store and not finding what we needed for the desired prom dress, he insisted on giving me the free yard of fabric.  !?!?  OK.  But I had my dear friend choose a colour (the ice blue) because I really wasn’t interested in yet another length of linen in my stash.  She originally wanted the red linen in the picture (it’s a beautiful deep blue-toned blood red), but there was less than a yard and it had a spot of dirt in the middle.  I bought it anyways, because it will wash out, for $5.00.  I did only want to spend $2.00, but Mr. Shop said I was unkind to want to kill him.

Anyways, all this to say… so much for stash-bustin’.

Pattern Review: Burda 4-2011-135

B 4-2011-135 I’ve discovered something completely unexpected: sewing up my stash is actually quite satisfying. More satisfying at this point than planning new purchases. I never thought this would happen. I often get overwhelmed by the sheer number of design/pattern choices when I want something new. Add to that the completely insane amount of choice for fabric and I often get paralyzed before I begin. But not so far this year, as I’ve decided to limit purchases to notions, lining if necessary, my Burda subscription, and any designer or Vintage Vogue pattern that may be unusual or worth collecting for future. And it’s been a lot of fun finally getting around to some projects that have been in my queue for years. And I mean years. Take this top, for instance. The fabric was purchased in the last century with the intention of making a tunic, and I finally got around to sewing it up. It’s amazing what a few boundaries do for productivity.B 04-2011-135

Pattern: Burda 4-2011-1

Pattern Sizing: size 44-52

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.  Just be aware, though, that there is no pattern for the pockets.  I think they forgot to add them.  I didn’t put the pockets in because I just wanted a short tunic top, but I’m sure it would be simple to draw your own, or steal a pocket pattern from some other design to use.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I really liked the front pleats and the sleeve options.  I left off the sleeve ties because they’re just frankly annoying, like I’ve mentioned in other pattern reviews.

Fabric Used: a silk/rayon burnout velvet from Thai Silks

Pattern alterations:  I actually stole the neck band pattern from 4-2011-136.  I didn’t want a bias bound neckline because I cut the front and back on the bias.  I liked the look of the fabric better on the bias than the straight grain, although I did cut the sleeves on the straight grain.  Because of the bulk of the velvet, I didn’t turn under the edges of the neck facing and slipstitch it.  I did understitch the facing, which isn’t called for in the pattern, but it prevents it from rolling around.  I simply finished the raw edge of the facing and pinned it into place with all seam allowances turned inside.  Then I stitched it place by hand using a half backstitch.  I didn’t want any stitches showing from the right side.  You can see the details below. B 4-2011-135 neck facingI like this pattern.  I’m glad I cut it on the bias – it skims along instead of hanging like a sack, which I think it would if cut on the straight grain.  And the raglan sleeves fit perfectly without any fussing, basting or tweaking, unlike any other set-in sleeve of Burda’s I’ve sewn.  If you’re looking for a simple casual top or dress, this is an easy pattern with several sleeve variations to suit your fancy.  B 4-2011-135  back

Burda 9-2010-110 and 111 – again!

Well, I’ve been determinedly trying to use my stash, and have made some new blouses.  I don’t have many blouses or shirts in my wardrobe.  I used to in a different life, but I guess with the SAHM thing happening, I’ve preferred knit tops over the years, and RTW ones at that.  However, I have always had plans for this or that top with this or that piece of fabric, and have accumulated numerous tops over the years, all of them in an unmade state.  This top from Burda’s September 2010 issue has seen a lot of versions in my sewing room, but this is the first time I’ve made up the sleeveless one. B 9-2010-110 front The fabric is a dotty silk charmeuse.  The first time I made up this top I used a knit, and the fit was very pleasing.  The second version was a woven, and it didn’t fit so well.  In fact, it’s no longer living in my house.  So for this version I measure twice and cut once.  I’m happy with the sleeveless version.  It will be perfect under all the jackets that I have (unmade) in my wardrobe.  However, I didn’t really notice this for my knit version, but the shoulders are very wide – almost dropped.  I had to take out 5 cm or 2 inches of width in the shoulder seam so that the armscye ended where my shoulders began.    B 9-2010-111B front view

And I made another long sleeved version of this.  The fabric is a silk habotai, and I fell in love with all the colours and purchased this roll end from EOS some time ago.  I wasn’t actually sure what to do with it, or if this pattern could be eked out of the 1.25 metres of fabric that I had.  I did change up the grain.  You’ll notice in the sleeveless version that the crossover is on the bias.  I couldn’t do that with this print because I just didn’t have enough fabric.  I also wanted very much to have the pattern match e.x.a.c.t.l.y., but I’m about 10 cm off on the front because I didn’t have enough of the pattern repeat.  But it’s not too bad, although it’s not perfect, and I think no one will notice unless they look very closely.  The front wraps rather closely because the facing edge is on the straight grain instead of the bias.  The neckline sits higher as a result, but I’m OK with that.  I did manage to have the back encompass one complete motif (there were about 5 to choose from!) and the sleeves are identical, too.B 9-2010-111B back 2

I didn’t take out the drop shoulder as I did for the sleeveless version – I didn’t care about it that much for this blouse.  I widened the sleeves by about 3 inches for the last 20 inches from the sleeve edge.  The bottom 12 inches or so of the sleeve are gathered, and fit very tightly.  This was a problem I remembered from my first woven version, so I added the width this time.  I also left off the ties because they are always in the way, even if you’re just wearing the blouse out for dinner!  They drag through everything.  I used one line of elastic thread and shirred the bottom 18 inches of the sleeves.  This is about 9 inches more than the pattern calls for, but I wanted the gathers to be evenly distributed from my elbow to the wrist instead of all bunched up around my wrist.

I’m pretty pleased with this blouse!  My DH’s opinion: “That’s a LOUD piece of fabric!”B 9-2010-111B

TODAY: A Picture-Free Post

With the early arrival of Advent this year and the fact that December 1st falls in the middle of the week, I’ve been frantically trying to get my house in order.  Call me crazy, but I do like to set up all the Christmasy stuff at the beginning of the month.  I love Christmas.  I love the lights, the food, family, friends, company and general excitement and anticipation that’s in the air, especially in a house with 3 children.  So my house is (almost) decorated and the girls all helped with the first round of Christmas baking.  I’ve decided this year to let them do most of it, since my youngest is 8 and exists to work in the kitchen.  It’s just her thing.  Whenever she hears a pot bang, up she pops beside me.

“What are you making?  Can I help?”

And my eldest sanguinely saunters into the kitchen at random times, looking for a project, “Can I do anything, mommy?”

So, the baking exercises are their responsibility this year.  That means I’ll be able to get my gifts finished in time.

I’ve never done a “handmade” Christmas before.  I do remember as an 18 year old university student wondering what I would get my little brother for Christmas (he’s all of 12 months younger than me).  My mom suggested making him a pair of dress pants, since he needed them.  Yikes!  Never made a pair of men’s anything at that point in my life, but as an 18 year old, I was up for any challenge.  And that’s the last time I made anything for anyone for Christmas.  I think it’s because I’m shy of giving people things I’ve made.  It’s all well and dandy to sew up little pretty things for babies or children, but what do you sew for adults that they would remotely use, never mind appreciate?

But the year 2011 is going to be different.  A discussion with my girls about what to buy the cousins that have everything and more, combined with reading the Little House on the Prairie series aloud at lunch to my DD3, resulted in the fun decision that we would all make the gifts we’re giving this year.  DD1 is going to crochet all her gifts, DD3 is going to hand-stitch little fairy purses, and DD2 is going along for the ride, because fine motor projects are incredibly frustrating for her.

BTW, that “we” includes me.  So I’ve a lot of sewing to do, and nothing is cut yet because I’m trying to finish up a couple of projects already on my sewing table.

And to ease all of this required labour, my iron decided to die last week.  Now how annoying is that, in the middle of everything that needs to be done?  My DH has purchased a Rowenta Steamium for me in April.  It’s profoundly heavy and I love it.  But when little people want to sew and use my equipment, dials can pop off and buttons cease to work.  I had to purchase a replacement while the original is off being repaired for 10 days or so.  I can’t go TEN DAYS without sewing a seam.  So I bought a little cheapy Black & Decker model that the kids can use when I get my *real* iron back.  Ha!

And on top of all that, I’ve become completely overwhelmed with my stash.  I guess this happens when I actually sit back, take stock of the state of my house, and realize that there is too much fabric in my life.  More than I will ever sew up before I die.  But more of that in a post to come, because I’m hoping some of you fellow sewers will be happy to take some of it off my hands……