The Hoard Metamorphoses

On the plus side, the fabric-shopping limitation I proposed in The Hoard lo these many years past has achieved its first goal: the fabric stash fits in the one closet, with a few manageable exceptions.

On the down side, rather than achieving this by buying less fabric, I’ve mostly just sewn faster, transferring the Hoard problem from the floor to my bedroom closet.

Which is now very full of things I like and enjoy wearing … and is also totally excessive. No one needs that many clothes. And rather than focusing on the items that will actually fill holes in the wardrobe, I end up focusing on the things I can make up quickly so that the stash can fit in the spare closet. Unintended consequences, Dear Readers.

I don’t feel badly about it–except for the part where I do feel badly about how many lovely pieces of fabric I have that I would like to wear only I haven’t made them up because they’re fussy and I need to sew down the stash quickly so it can fit in the spare closet. So I don’t feel *very* badly about it. Sewing is my therapy, and the past few years have been enormously challenging, what with job worries and my dad getting sick and passing away and the family unpleasantness that went along with that and Frances’s medical issues and eventual diagnosis and just working in a sector that has a fair bit of stress built in. And yes, buying fabric creates environmental impacts and waste–but in comparison to many other things I could have been doing to deal with all that stress, it’s not so bad.

It’s funny–to me–because Frances and I were talking/mocking me about this just the other day.

Andrea: Frances, Goodreads says I have read 50 books so far this year. [ed: it’s 58 as I write this]
Frances: That’s a lot of books.
Andrea: It is. It made me think that I need another hobby. But then … I already sew, and frankly more than I can wear, and I sew for you …
Frances: True.
Andrea: And then I thought, maybe I need another another hobby? But then, I go out dancing basically whenever I can and take classes ….
Frances: [laughs at me]
Andrea: So then I thought, maybe I need another another another hobby? But really? Isn’t that enough hobbies? So maybe what I need to do is spend some time underneath a tree this summer, staring at clouds.
Frances: That sounds like a good plan to me.
Andrea: I think this summer I am going to work on my unproductivity.

Sadly, this productivity problem has not translated into a house in a perfect state of tidiness, because that’s work, and work is not stress relief or therapy of any kind.

First efforts in unproductivity were promising: I spent an afternoon on a boat with a friend accomplishing absolutely nothing. Second efforts were fun, but less in line with goals: I spent a day making an enormous mess with acrylic inks and stamps and ended up with a mass of bookmarks. (Anyone want a bookmark?)

At any rate, I’ve been thinking about the amount of money, effort and time I spend on sewing. It’s telling to me that I can’t actually say how many pieces of clothing I’ve sewn up in the past month or so, but I know it includes multiple dresses and shirts, and shorts and pants, and pajamas and clothing for Frances, and a few things for friends, and that with just what I’ve already sewn up and not yet blogged, I could keep posting one project per week for a few months at least. And while sewing has had a good and useful and very helpful role now for a few years, it may be time to take another approach both to Hoard Management and Life Goals.

I mean obviously I’m not going to stop sewing, as there’s very likely nothing that will ever get me to stop sewing. But it would be nice to sew more intentionally, and see what takes the space in my life when it’s been freed up a bit.

So here’s my idea:

Limit myself to two sewn garments for me in any month.

Gasp!

Notice the loopholes:

  • I can sew things other than garments.
  • I can sew garments for other people, like Frances.
  • And I think I’m going to say it’s ok to finish up things I’ve already cut out without counting them.

But only two new garments for me in any given month.

It’s not a rule. More of an experiment–does this work better than not buying new fabric if it won’t fit in the spare closet?

I guess we’ll see.

My first casual jacket: Burda mag 4/17 jacket #114

Friends, this constitutes the second of two actual completed projects on my 2018 Make Nine list.

A floral bomber!

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This started, as it so often does, from the fabric purchase: the shell is a linen/cotton blend bought at Fabricland at 50% off for a jacket. I got 1.5m and spent at least a month trying to find a good pattern for it. Eventually I settled on the bomber jacket from the April 2017 Burda magazine issue.

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I would have preferred a zippered jacket, but it had everything else I wanted: the raglan sleeves, tabs at the bottom, use of cotton ribbing on the cuffs and collar, welt pockets.

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It took less time than I thought, but this was mostly because I was determined to have it wearable before it became too hot for jackets. It was not without challenges, however:

  1. The armscyes were enormous. I had a moment of misgiving after tracing the pattern out, but had never before made a casual jacket and didn’t want to size down too far. So I only took out 1/2″ on the front and back armscyes, and it was not enough. I ended up sewing the seams together with 7/8″ instead of the 5/8″ I traced, and that made a big difference. Unfortunately it also made the jacket shorter. It’s still long enough to wear, but I would have liked that extra inch in length.
  2. The jacket is not lined. That would have been fine with a normal jacket fabric, but with the linen/cotton, it was too sticky and clung to all the shirts I tried it with while fitting. So I bought some coordinating bemberg for $7/m and quickly sewed up a matching lining. Figuring out how to install it while enclosing seams was a challenge, but in the end it worked out.

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One challenge I’ve had with storebought jackets for lo these many years is that a jacket that is loose everywhere else will be snug across the bust. I was determined that this would be loose everywhere, just like in the sample photos, so I did a 2″ FBA on both sides. I left the side darts rather than rotating them out, and just gathered the waist darts into the ribbed hem. And it worked! No straining or weirdness. Nicely baggy, just as a bomber jacket should be.

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Also, I’m super happy about how well the collar points lined up:

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Right in the middle! Just as they should.

I’ve worn this a ton already. It’s super lightweight since it’s linen, cotton and rayon, so just perfect when you need something to cut a breeze or for a chilly evening. I am not a scarf or shawl person, so this works for me. And it’s super colourful. And it crosses an item off the Make Nine list. It all makes me very happy.

Sizing Note

I should be a size 40/44 in Burda; this is a 38 with a 4″ FBA across the front (2″/side). I kept the side darts, and gathered the waist darts into the cotton ribbing.

Fruity: Burda 6468

One of the advantages of always buying fabrics in super bright colours and prints is that eventually, they start matching each other. Case in point: I bought this fabric at Needlework as an impulse purchase because a beefy cotton jersey in super bright fruit prints was irresistible, and when I got it home I discovered I had shirt-weight jerseys and wovens that match at least half a dozen colours in the skirt.

I thought about making up the Burda pencil knit skirt again seeing as this jersey does have a lot of stretch in all directions, but Instagram convinced me to try something swishy instead–so here it is made up in Burda 6468, a pull-on elastic waist knit skirt with fitted from waist to hip, with a flouncy yoke. It’s got a cool seam detail on the front that’s a bit lost in the print, but it does make for a nice shape.

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And it is really easy to sew up. From cutting to sewing up the elastic casing, I think this took me around 75 minutes. And it looks just like the envelope. The seams lined up just right at the sides; the side seams matched to the hem. The only thing a little bit tricky was sewing the front pieces together, and even that was pretty quick. (Marked the spot where the two asymmetric seams match; joined them with a pin; pinned and sewed the right portion together from centre out, notched the top part, and then repeated on the left; then serged, again separately starting from the centre.)

I can’t comment on the instructions as I didn’t look at them, but really it’s so simple, it would be hard to mess up.

Given that this is a beefy cotton jersey, it has a bit more body than the fabrics shown on the envelope, and less drape. A drapier fabric would probably be more swishy and clingy but this works for the office and casual wear, and it is incredibly comfortable.

Sizing Note

Standard for Burda: 38 in the waist, 40 in the hips. I should be a 40/42 based on body measurements. I love how reliable they are; I did quickly double check the finished measurements on the tissue with a ruler, but as always–knock wood–it worked out beautifully.

Pink Avalanche #5, in which I hate slash hip pockets

There are two things I’ve been trying for a few years now to add to my work wardrobe: yellow pants and pale pink pants. Something like these:

The yellow ones haven’t happened because I wasn’t able to find a bottom-weight fabric in a shade of yellow I like, but I finally did recently and hope to have those sewn up over the summer.

The pink ones haven’t happened because I keep buying bottom-weight pink fabric in a shade of pink I like and then trying to make them up into trousers with slash hip pockets, and then hating them. I’ve made four initial pairs; one of them is wearable, sort of, and one of them is good, and two of them are garbage.

This possibly represents an excessive dedication to pink slash-pocket work pants, but I think I can finally put it behind me. The fifth one is, I think, good.

I tried trouser patterns with slash pockets by Vogue, Burda and Patrones. And they have all sucked. Not because the patterns themselves were terrible–well, with the Vogue pattern, it was terrible also–but because slash hip pockets are the absolute worst. Two of these tries (Vogue & Patrones) were with pink fabrics that I had high hopes for; one of them (the Vogue) is an absolute wadder, and the first try of the Patrones was ok … but just ok. And that’s after a whole lot of alteration.

These pants are a second try of the Patrones, with the back modified based on my StyleArc Katherine pants (as I know it fits); two inches added to the length, waist raised an inch all around and more at the centre back, pocket shape redrawn, and a lining drafted and inserted.

There’s a tl/dr at the bottom for anyone who can’t wade through all these details. I don’t blame you, either.

My Slash Hip Pockets Journey

Storebought

The pockets always gaped. Just a little, but enough to annoy. And then of course being storebought pants, if the hips fit the waist was too loose, and if the waist fit the hips were too tight. Once I started sewing my own pants, I rarely wore them, and they were the first work pants I gave away.

But that’s ok because I could totally fix this by sewing them myself, right?

Burda

Back in the early days of my sewing journey, I downloaded a Burda pdf pattern of a high-waisted pair of pants with hip slash pockets. I had such high hopes for them–they looked great in the magazine–but on me it was an utter disaster. Everything was too big. This was before I understood that I needed to size down by one in Burda, and I’d also chosen a fabric with way too much body, so they looked like big puffy clown pants. With gaping pockets.

With the combination of poor size selection and poor fabric selection, it’s possible that I would have had more success if I tried again. But I’ve since discovered I really dislike pdf patterns, so for me, this is not an option.

I traced out and tried a pair of pink ponte pants from a recent-ish Burda, and they were ok, but the waist is too big to be really functional if I’m going to put my insulin pump in the pockets (it’s just heavy enough to pull them down just enough to not look right). Plus I kind of botched the top-stitching around the pockets. So I wear them on weekends sometimes, but that’s it.

Vogue

I first made these up in a lightweight grey wool, a few years ago, before I understood that I can’t actually make up any Vogue patterns without measuring the pattern tissue to determine the actual ease/fit. At the time, I liked them and wore them a lot, but in retrospect the fit was pretty shit. And the pockets gaped.

Last year, I tried to use the proper size to make a pair of pale pink pants, and they were still shit. This is when I learned my first important lessons about pants with hip-slash pockets:

The fit is critical. It needs to be perfect.

  • It needs to hold snugly around the waist to prevent slipping.
  • Below the waist, it needs to have some positive ease, or any pulling will open the pockets.
  • The back needs to be just right–enough positive ease for the side seam to hit the centre of the leg, but not so much positive ease as to push it forward and out.
  • You can’t take the waist in at the sides. If you do, what happens is that the pocket opening, meant to be an inch or two forward of the centre of the body, is now sitting at the centre–the pocket opening is where the pants seam should be–and the pocket opening will stick out like puppy ears.
  • But if you’ve already done the front fly, you can no longer take it in at centre front. And if you pull the excess in at the back it will make the pocket situation even worse. So if you don’t get the fit, ease, angle of the pocket opening, and sizing just right before you cut anything, before you install the pockets, and before you do up the front fly, you are well and truly screwed.

This was as far as I got with this first pair of pink pants. Dear Readers, the pocket opening sat straight up and down on my hips. They were practically a semi-circle seen straight on. I felt like I was carrying Dumbo ears around on my butt. I opened up the pants, tore out the pockets, re-drafted and recut pockets with more of an angle so they would sit on the front, and it helped, but not enough to make them salvageable. Ultimately, I discovered that for myself, if a hip slash pocket is to start at the bottom at the centre of the body and end a few inches forward at the waist, I need the back pieces to be bigger and the front pieces to be smaller, and with this Vogue pattern, the front pieces were bigger–the centre side seam ran down the leg towards the back by an inch or two. The pockets were never going to sit where they should.

At this point I abandoned this pants pattern permanently. Nothing is worth this much work for so little reward.

Patrones

After my first pants experience with them, I figured this would give me a better starting point.

And it did. I traced off the size given for my body measurements and the pattern tissue added up in hopeful ways. I made the front pattern piece 1/2″ smaller and the back 1/2″ bigger. I angled the pocket more inward so it wouldn’t sit right on the hips. I used fusible interfacing on the bias edge of the pocket opening to stop it front stretching out. And I cut it out and sewed it up in another cut of pale pink bottom-weight fabric.

And the pockets gaped.

It was better than the Vogue pants–way better, an order of magnitude better–but it still needed a lot of work. The waist fit just right. The full hips were fine. But in between was a bit of a mess. So further learning on hip slash pockets:

Round hips are a problem. I have round hips, meaning that there is a substantial difference–over 5″–between my high hip measurement and my waist, and it’s all sitting on the back. This pulls the back of the pants backward and forces the pockets open. The solution to this is extra ease in the back of the pants over the fullness of the hips–i.e., rounded darts as opposed to straight. (The sign for this was a side seam that ran perfectly perpendicular and straight down the middle of my leg from the floor to the full hip line, and then curved toward the back between the pocket opening and the waist.) So I redid the back darts, and then the line ran straight down. But the pockets still gaped. Not much. It was way better, but they did not lie flat or stay closed. I opened up the side seam a bit to provide a bit more ease through the hips, and they still gaped, but now with extra puffiness at the hips.

Anyone else would have decided that this was just not going to happen. And possibly I also should have decided that this was just not going to happen. But in fact what I did decide was that this was absolutely going to happen, so the next time Fabricland had a members’ sale, I went and bought 3m of the same pale pink suiting so I could make another pair and, if they also were messed up, one more after that.

I know, I know…

But it worked!

This final version is the Patrones pants front, with the reduction mentioned above.  But also:

  1. Traced it out again from the hips up so I could redraw the hip slash and trace out new pocket pieces that were a) deeper and b) extended to the centre front.
  2. Cut out the pants front entire, traced the pocket opening on the wrong side, staystitched narrow strips of lining selvedge and then sewed them adjacent to the pocket opening, and then cut the opening off. This prevented there ever being an unstabilized bias-cut opening at the pocket edge, so it didn’t stretch out at all.
  3. I cut out the pocket lining as if it were the yoke–all the way to the side seam and up to the waist–traced the actual pocket seam, staystitched it, then cut away the opening.
  4. Then attached it to the front pants piece, and understitched it.
  5. Then added the yoke piece; after basting, I compared it to the pattern piece I made that was the entire front so I could make sure that, assembled, it matched precisely before doing the fly and attaching it to the back.

It was a lot of work. It worked, but it took a fair bit of time.

The back pattern piece is my modified StyleArc Katherine from the full hip to the waist; from there down it’s the Patrones pattern.

I used Liberty cotton lawn scraps to line the pockets and the waistband. I find using a non-stretch woven on the inner waistband of a stretch-woven pant helps keep the waist from bagging out, so it fits better and stays in place with wear. There are bar-tacks at the pockets top and bottom about 3/4″ from the side/waist seams respectively to hold it a bit flatter.

And I do like them a lot.

And I’m never sure I’m ever going to want to put myself through this process again.

All of the pants patterns I like, make more than once and enjoy wearing have horizontal pockets of some kind. It’s time to just learn this lesson once and for all for me: no more hip slash pockets!

TL/DR

Hip slash pockets on pants are tricky.

You need just enough ease so the front and back aren’t pulling apart, and pulling open the pocket.

You need not so much ease that excess fabric is pushing the pant away from the body.

You need the side seam to run exactly down the centre of your leg, so that the pocket opening doesn’t sit right on what should be the seam line. This may mean using different pattern sizes for front and back pieces, depending on where you want that seam to sit.

The angle of the pocket opening needs to take your waist/hip difference into account. A greater waist/hip difference means a sharper angle on the pocket.

You need to reinforce the pocket opening in some way to stop it from stretching out.

The darts on the back need to take your shape into account. Fit needs to be perfect from the waist through to the bottom of the pocket opening. If the back is snugger than the front anywhere in there, it will pull back, forcing the pocket open. For me, I needed to alter a straight dart into a curved one.

Ideally the pocket pieces will run from the side seam to the fly, to help prevent that from happening–but many don’t, and even if they do, that won’t be enough to solve a gaping pocket on its own.

You cannot take the waist in at the sides if what you’ve cut turns out to be too big for you, so it is important to make sure that the waist will fit before you cut out the pieces and assemble the pockets. After that, it’s too late to change (at least, without many hours of work). Measure the waistband, measure the top of the front and back pieces and the visible pocket opening, and if you can tell it’s going to be too big–alter that first. See where the top of the hip slash will hit wrt the side seam.

And good luck. They don’t work for me, but maybe this will help someone else.

Simplicity 8606: Poppies Everywhere

Behold the third Make 9 2018 project of the year. Yes, so I have six to go, but honestly I didn’t think I’d stick to it even this much. They’re being posted out of order–I can’t keep track–but there are two more to come in the next month or so.

Long drapey wrap skirt. It startles even me, apparently.

I took the pictures and then remembered that I hadn’t yet cut off all the threads, so if you see a thread tail or two, that’s why. Sorry. Anyway: Simplicity isn’t available in Canada, so I ordered the pattern off the internet, which is so much more than I want to pay, except that this was such a great fit for the Make 9 project and I couldn’t find another pattern I liked nearly so well for it.

The Side

It has, I think they say, “drama.” This amuses me. I’ve never had a piece of clothing throw a temper tantrum on me, stop speaking to me for no reason, start a baseless rumour, or pick a dumb fight. The closest I’ve had to drama from a piece of clothing would have been when I went out dancing in university in a dress that was apparently mostly translucent under black light, worn with white underwear, and found out my error only when the black light in the club illuminated my unmentionables for the benefit of the entire venue. Otherwise, I find clothing mostly drama-free.

The Back

The flounce is enormous. Most of the yardage required is for the flounce. The hem on the flounce is both enormous and tedious. It must be at least 3 metres long, possibly more. Expect to spend a lot of time sewing the hem if you go for the flounce version, is what I am saying. But it is pretty and it goes together well.

The fabric is a rayon poplin from Fabricland. It has enough heft to make a sturdy skirt but being rayon also drapes really well. It’s got a lot of fabric for the front, so there’s low risk of accidental exposures. Which is apparently not zero risk, as I found when I wore it the first time; but the top of the upper flounce is placed perfectly to be a handle when walking down the street on a gusty day. Just a hint.

Sizing Note

I should be a size 14/16 in Simplicity based on the body measurement chart, and this is a 12/14. Honestly it would have been fine too in a 14/16, given the amount of drape and the fact that it’s a wrap skirt; there are 2″ of ease in the waist, so the finished waist measurement is about my own, which is the ease I prefer in something like this.

A Murphy’s Law Project (Burda 3/16 Skirt 101 Take 2)

You know how sometimes you have a sewing project in which every mistake that you can make, you do?

Dear Readers, this poor skirt. I tortured this fabric to within an inch of its selvedge. That it exists now as a skirt is testament mostly to my stubbornness.

I bought this (mariner cloth? This is a thing? I googled it, and the top four results relate to online games. It seems like Final Fantasy and Allison Glass have a monopoly on the term between them) because of the lovely, textured, colourful stripes, which are made of something like a thick floche fibre that is woven into the thinner threads. It’s a very lightweight cotton, almost gauze-like, but the thicker fibre stripes give it weight and body. And I thought it would be perfect for this skirt, which I made a couple of years ago, back when I was both a bit heavier and hadn’t yet figured out I need to size down by one in Burda. So that skirt is a bit big, though I still wear it.

Regardless, and wordy prologues aside, the point of the skirt was to play with the direction of the stripes: vertical in the body, horizontal on the waist and hem bands.

On the way, I unconsciously decided to experiment with my tolerance for making mistakes on nice fabric, mostly inspired by Burda’s terrible welt pocket instructions.

How do they do it? I’ve sewn single welt pockets dozens of times. Yet, somewhere between the terrible wording and the flat-out inaccurate illustrations accompanying them, not only could I not make heads or tails of how to install the welt pockets in this skirt, but the instructions somehow rendered me completely unable to comprehend any written instructions on welt pockets. I cracked open all of my sewing reference books, and it was as if the English in them had been replaced by Lithuanian. You might as well have told me to shake a unicorn’s horn at the fabric while chanting Grimm’s fairytales by candlelight. And while attempting to figure it out, I sewed the welts on backwards, sewed the large pocket pieces to the welts, sewed the large pocket pieces in the wrong direction, each occasion for seam ripping bringing with it some little fabric tears given how soft and spongy the fabric is, and, for the coup de grace, at one point cut the pocket opening on the wrong side of the welt, creating a five-inch gash in the fabric of the skirt, and inspiring some inventive new curses for the instruction writers at BurdaStyle. I sorted myself out by watching this youtube tutorial. I have no idea who this woman is, but bless you, Diane.

I then patched up the gash with fusible knit interfacing, a lot of handstitching, some more cursing, and then sewed the pockets the right way. Then later on serged a side seam to the skirt front, but thankfully without cutting anything, so it was just a mess of seam-ripping rather than a new catastrophe. (Cutastrophe?) (Ha!)

So the one pocket is a bit of a dog’s breakfast and the inside is super messy (seams finished with serging after sewing because this fabric is super ravelly), but it is so pretty! On the outside! And so lightweight! And I will wear it with joy.

I bought mariner’s cloth in the weight/neon pink colourway too, that I’m hoping to turn into a top, preferably with fewer issues than the skirt presented me with.

Sizing Note

In Burda’s sizing, based on body measurements, I should be a 40/42 skirt. This is a size 38/40, and it fits perfectly. Sizing down by one is standard for me in Burda patterns.

Burda 6431: an actual completed 2018 Make Nine project

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Back in my ignorant youth, I would roundly ignore the ends tables at Fabricland. Why would I bother? I wondered. Clearly the ends table was where they stuck all the crap they hadn’t been able to sell previously, and it would be ugly and awful.

I can’t remember how it happened, but one day I found some really nice wool suiting on the ends table for an unbelievably good price, and I couldn’t remember it ever being for sale in the store generally. And the clerk, when I took it to the table for cutting, confirmed that; it turns out that Fabricland regularly gets ends from other fabric suppliers and they just go straight to deep discounts in the ends sections. I’ve found some really great stuff there over the years for really great prices, but my favourite finds have been the silks.

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This one, a bright yellow silk noil, was $8/m. And for the fabric illiterate among you, a generally cheap price for silk is maybe $20/m; a standard price for a decent silk is around $40 or a bit more; and you can find good silks at $100/m or more. So $8/m for silk anything is like a new hardcover book for $2. You don’t think about it or look at it too hard. You just get some and trust that you will find a use for it in good time.

I think this skirt was a pretty good use for it.

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The pattern uses about a metre, so including the lining and the zipper, this is probably a $15-$20 silk skirt. And it’s yellow! Making it my third yellow handmade skirt, which is probably excessive, but … yellow … and silk … and a pencil skirt.

Also, while this isn’t a faux-wrap skirt, I think this is close enough to one of the projects in my 2018 Make Nine list that I’m counting it.

The pattern was picked up for the very cool seamlines. And one of the things I found out after I got it that made me like it even more is that the separate lining pieces are basically a standard darted pencil skirt, so if you are missing one of those, you can use the lining pattern for a basic pencil skirt.

The silk isn’t the highest quality (but for $8/m, can you complain?). It’s a bit flannely, it’s very soft, it creases easily. You can see the wear from a day or two of office work in the pictures, and you can also see some weird drag lines on the back that were not at all apparent until I saw the photos. I’m going to blame the camera and lighting because I seriously can’t see them in real life.

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For the cost (and the colour!) I’m not going to worry about it too much. I’m just going to love it. Also it gives me the best reason ever to wear the blue floral blouse I made last year. Yes?

At any rate, I loved the pattern so much I got some nicer fabric and made it again.

This was picked up at The Wool House in Toronto, which is lovely, and never ever on a deep discount. My conversation with the shop owner went something like this:

Me: I’d like a yard of this one please.

SO: (Unravelling from the bolt) There are 2 pieces of 1 3/8 yards each left on the bolt.

Me: Oh! I’ll take 1 3/8 yards then.

SO: If you buy both pieces, I’ll give them to you for the price of 2 1/2 yards.

Me: That’s tempting, but I really only need one piece. I’m just making a skirt.

SO: Or I could give them to you for the price of 2 yards.

Me: (Quickly calculating in my head if 2 3/4 yards is enough to make a skirt suit) Sold!

What is with the wrinkles? They’re not there when I look at it in person. Can I blame it on a mid-day photo shoot? And linen?

It’s a lovely orangey tweed blend of silk, wool and linen. It feels wonderful, sews beautifully, and will make a gorgeous suit for when I need something more formal in the summer. And it’s perfect for a structured skirt pattern. It also means it wrinkles as soon as I put it on; believe it or not I ironed this before I took the pictures. But I can live with that

Seamline detail, with rumpled waistband.

Both skirts are lined with bemberg.

I highly recommend reading the instructions through on this one. The first time around I did my usual figure-it-out-as-I-go thing and, while it worked out fine, the front dart would have been a lot easier if I’d done it in the order they recommended (which I did the second time around).

This is a great pencil skirt pattern. Highly recommend it if you’re looking for something classic but with interesting seamlines and construction.

And now I need to dig up a nice summery collarless blazer pattern.

Sizing Note

The sizing is consistent with Burda magazine; I should be a size 40/42 and this is a size 38 grading to 40 at the hips, and it fits perfectly.

KnipMode December 2017, Dress 6: Shiny and Summery (also not pink)

(Brief aside for Blogspot friends & readers: Please don’t ask me why, I am not a computer person–all appearances to the contrary–but blogger is going through another phase where I can’t use my wordpress ID to comment on posts. When I try, it tells me that it “couldn’t connect to my blogspot ID”–which of course, because I don’t have one, I have wordpress ID and that’s what I put in–but in any case, it won’t let me post. I do read, though.)


The fabric was an impulse purchase bought on sale for no reason other than it is very shiny. It’s a lightweight polyester jersey, with a colourful print and, on top of the print, a metallic gold foil fireworks print. It catches the light in interesting ways and seemed like a fun thing to turn into a dress.

Kind of a crappy photo but you can see the gold clearly.

Specifically this dress, which was a good part of the reason I bought this KnipMode issue.

There’s lots of good things going on here. The gathers on the bodice provide ways to add or remove bust measurement without fussing with darts, the separate waistband pieces make it easy to get a good fit and provide support for the skirt, and the angled gore gives the skirt some good swish and movement without a lot of weight.

I chose the size reflected by measurements, did an FBA using the gathers to fold in excess, and this was the first fitting:

Not bad, eh?

Not perfect. A bit looser than I wanted in the waist, and a bit lower-cut in the front than is really wise, but overall a good first fit. I took in about 1/2″ on the shoulder seam, tapering to nothing at the sleeve, and took the dress in through the waist as well. The neck is finished with a neckband, borrowing the shape and method largely from the v-neck Sewaholic Renfrew. And here it is finished up:

 

I like it a lot. The winter was so freaking cold that I only had reason and weather to wear it once or twice, but that included a birthday dinner with a friend and dancing, so that’s all right. Since, we’ve had our normal will-winter-ever-end/oh-it’s-a-heat-wave tango here so I’m not sure I’ll be wearing it again before November.

And then I went and made a summer version:

This was from a 1.5m cut of Art Gallery cotton jersey. I didn’t have quite enough for sleeves, but the actual dress pieces fit on the cut no problem. And it was already altered so made up in a snap.

With a blazer it’s great for work, and very comfortable. Much more versatile than the shiny verison.

Sizing Note

This is a size 38, graded to 40 at the hips, with an FBA. Size chosen based on body measurements and was basically fine, though I chose to take it in a bit at the waist, and had to shorten the armscyes and neckline by about 1″. The FBA in the pleats worked well, though word to the wise: add the bulk of the excess to the centre pleat. Mine is a bit too much in the bottom pleat and that is, needless to say, not where I need it.

McCalls 6886: Behind-the-times edition

 

Everyone else who has ever sewed a dress has already made up this pattern.

And it’s easy to see why, seeing as the sleeveless version is two pieces, no darts. It doesn’t get much simpler.

This fabric is a thick poly jersey (not quite scuba-weight, but much heavier than usual) with a very large repeat floral, about two feet high. Because the dress pattern is so simple I was able to fussy-cut the front to centre the flower, and make it up without breaking up the print at all.

The Side

It’s mostly a size 10. Again, I’m supposed to be a size 16/20 in BMV, but at least this pattern had finished measurements on the tissue that were accurate, so I cut out a size 10, grading to 14 at the hips, and with a pivot-and-slide FBA. And voila:

The Front Take 2

Approximately 1 hour of sewing plus a bit of hemming.

The print was just the right size for this pattern. The back isn’t so pretty, but it still works. I think with a blazer or cardigan I could wear it to the office, but of course it’s mostly for dancing. It’s super stretchy and very comfortable.

The Back

For many knit projects with a single-piece back, I deal with excess in the upper back length by taking it out at the top, from the neckline. I’m not sure if any experts would support this as correct, but it does haul everything up nicely, and it means no waistline seam.  I did a bit of that here and below, and it made a difference, though you can see some pooling does remain.

The remainder of this fabric–I bought two metres in case I needed to worry about pattern repeats, which I didn’t–has been given to a friend. Can’t wait to see what she does with it. 🙂

Then when I was downtown fabric shopping with that same friend, I found this rayon/poly/spandex blend knit with a fabulous pebbly texture and a metallic multi-colour foil floral print.

If I look tired, it’s because I am. Also, if I look tired, it’s because I’m not wearing any makeup, because I didn’t have time to put any on before the sun set. But hey, the dress is fancy.

(I found it at Downtown Fabrics on Queen W, and when I was getting it cut, was chatting with a man there while his wife shopped. He asked me what I was going to use it for, and I said probably a dress for dancing. “Salsa dancing?” he asked. “Good guess!” I replied.)

And I thought this pattern would make a great base for a dancing dress from this fabric, but wasn’t quite fancy enough for those foil roses. So here’s where Burda 6417 comes in again: I shortened M6886 by about five or six inches, pegged the sides in by about an inch to get the seams to match, and then added the Burda flounce to the bottom.

Sizing Note

I should be a size 16/20 in BMV patterns, and this is a size 10, graded to 14 at the hips, with an FBA. I can’t imagine it bigger; in most places it has slight positive ease or slight negative ease. If I’d made it up according to the sizing chart it would have been a sack.

(And if I’d made it up according to any of the supposed fool-proof shortcuts like high-bust measurement it still would have been a sack, because none of them would put me in a size 10.)

Burda 6417: In Which 2-Way Stretch Means 4-Way Stretch

Preamble to prologue: I owe you all a Miss Bossy post, I know, but April kicked my butt three ways from Sunday and I’m still working on the dress. It is coming, and I will post it. In the meantime, lots of other things are done and ready to share.


Just in case you were wondering: in the case of this pattern, 2-way stretch definitely means it needs to be equally stretchy everywhere, because the pattern pieces put the hip and waist on a different grain.

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It’s cute, and the pleats are nice, and the flounce at the bottom is fantastic, and there’s no stretch at the waist because this jersey is definitely only stretchy on the horizontal, not the vertical. I can get it on, barely. But I do mean barely.

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I had about 1.5m of this fabric, and it was enough to make the skirt, even with the pleats and the flounce. Construction wasn’t too hard, though it was a bit time consuming and the pleats–all sewn together on one side–do make for a lot of fabric. Something to keep in mind, depending on the capacity of your sewing machine or serger. I ended up cutting away some parts of some pleats so that there wouldn’t be quite so much to put under the presser foot.

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That said, I would make it again, if I had something that was very stretchy in all directions and hefty enough to make a skirt without being too hefty. It’s cute and it’s pretty simple.

And I’ve already borrowed the flounce for an upcoming dress project, so you’ll see it again soon.

Sizing Note

I should be a size 40/42; in this pattern, I cut out a size 38, 40 in the hips, and it worked out fine. The waist is a bit loose, but I think that’s more to do with how hard it is to get it over my hips, given that the waist ended up being cut in the not-stretchy direction. Woops.

It’s pretty gratifying, because this is the same size combo I use in Burda magazine patterns, so it’s nice to see that it’s consistent and translates over well.

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