Make it up in a really stretchy jersey and get rid of the back zipper.
This is going to be a mostly-photos post because I don’t have much to say about these versions that I didn’t say about the first version, except: why do pattern companies keep putting zippers into jersey dresses? The only time I’ve ever found it necessary or worthwhile is on stable knits like ponte.
This version is a lightweight poly jersey–the same poly jersey I made into dancing leggings in the winter. I don’t think I ever posted that version, but I wore them to dance class a lot. And then had lots left over, enough to make this dress and still leave me with about 1m in scrap.
This version has no lining: it’s just a straight-up pullover dress with front pleats. It’s lightweight and stretchy so good for dancing, and quite comfortable, and looks nice. Initially I just basted the back seam together to see if it would pull on ok without the zipper, and yep. It sure does.
The only thing I’m not thrilled with is a slightly wobbly neckline, where it stretched out during hemming. I keep meaning to thread a running stitch through it and gentle it back into shape. We’ll see if I ever do.
This version will be a strictly dancing dress. It’s stretchy enough to be very comfortable, but I can’t imagine anything that would make the cut and print work-appropriate. I’m open to suggestions, though.
I then made it up again in a rayon/linen/spandex blend fabric I’ve had in the stash for years, this time with a lining because I was concerned that the white background would be too see-through.
Again, basted up the back seam to make sure it pulled on ok without the zipper. It sure did. And it looks so much better without it. Plus you save the cost of the zipper.
I didn’t have quite enough to make this in the original pattern length, so it’s quite a bit shorter, but I think it works. The fabric had an amazing large-scale print on it with those gorgeous turquoise flowers growing horizontally across the fabric, and I cut the skirt to position them mostly towards the bottom and on one side, and cut the top to be mostly white. The sleeves were then cut individually to put the print close to the shoulder seam to match the bodice, at least somewhat. I think it worked out quite well and takes advantage of the print nicely. And now I can actually wear this fabric, instead of sporadically petting it in my stash.
The placement of the print along the waist was completely accidental. There’s actually a diagonal seam running through that–I couldn’t have planned it if I tried. And the placement of the print along the bust is also completely accidental, though less happily. I think it’s ok though.
This version I am planning to wear to work as well as dancing. I think with a cardigan or jacket, it’ll be perfect.
I should be a combined size 14/16/20 in BMV patterns, and this is sewn up mostly in a size 10, grading to 14 at the hips, with a pivot-and-slide FBA to give 2″ per side across the front.
This may be of interest to three people, all of whom know the answer already, but just in case: as a T1 diabetic with an insulin pump who likes to go out dancing in dresses without pump-friendly pockets, What To Do With The Pump is a real question.
Actually, What To Do With The Pump is a question to be answered every day, but some situations are more challenging than others. You need to keep it attached to you somehow, within the distance of the tubing.
And I have two answers: one for narrow skirts, and one for wide.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, my insulin pump is about the size of my palm and weighs slightly more than my cell phone. It has a tube about 18″ long that connects to a catheter in my hips or abdomen, about 1cm long, that moves every few days to prevent scarring. It keeps me alive, so I’m fond of it, but little puts a damper on a dance experience–or other experience, for that matter–like finding your artificial pancreas on your shoe.
It can’t stray too far from my waist–the tube isn’t long enough. Regular skirt pockets aren’t sturdy enough to hold something this heavy (though pants pockets work fine) and it’s tricky with the tubing anyway. I keep telling myself that the next time I make a dress or skirt from something sturdy with pockets I’m going to add a buttonhole inside the pocket to feed tubing through so I can use it for the pump, but I haven’t tried that yet.
In the meantime, I make what I call pump holsters.
With a narrow skirt, I’m just worried about keeping the pump in place, strapped to my leg.
I used to buy the holsters made by pump companies, but they never were quite right. They were almost always too loose, and even when they were tight enough, they’d slide down just with walking. The expansion and contraction of the leg muscles would work them down from upper thigh to knee in pretty short order, and the holster fabric tended to be slippery, which didn’t help. Many days I would pull the holster up five times in ten minutes, and then give up, and walk to work or wherever awkwardly clutching the holster through my skirt to prevent it from slipping any more.
So I bought the kind of stretchy nylon you’re meant to make supportive undergarments with in beige, and a couple of metres of sticky elastic.
I cut just over double the width of the pump, and the length is a bit less than the circumference of my thigh. I sewed the narrow ends together, and on one half, I sewed by hand using a cross-stitch two lengths of sticky elastic.
Then I folded it in half width wide, sewed a pocket into it, and sewed the two raw edges together except for the pocket edges.
It’s just the right size, and the sticky elastic helps keep it from slipping down. I can position it however it makes sense, and it stays nicely in place through a whole night of dancing (or a whole day in the office).
Wide Skirts have the insulin pump problem, and the underwear problem: when you spin, the skirt flies up. I can handle a bit of accidental flashing. But I prefer there to be a point to wearing the skirt, in that at least my underwear is covered more often than not. With a lot of spinning in a wide skirt, you can’t count on it.
Enter Modified Leggings or Bike Shorts.
I used McCall 6173 for this, as it’s a very basic leggings pattern with only one seam in the legs. I raised the waist by about 1-2″, and folded the fabric at about the spot on the legs that would give just enough length for the pump. This makes no sense at all. Here are some pictures:
See? They’re shortened, but not just shortened, because there’s a spot in the legs where you’re meant to fold them up to make a pocket.
I then assembled them per instructions, and folded the legs up on the inside, and sewed in pockets on the inner thigh, much as I did in the pump holster, above.
Added the elastic waistband, and voila: a functional pair of something like bike shorts that has a pocket on the inner thigh on both legs just big enough for an insulin pump.
It works beautifully. Exhibit A:
You can’t imagine how glad I was to have been wearing the yellow pair on the day I found out I’d been photographed by the local paper dancing at the Pier. Otherwise, my colleague’s question wouldn’t have been, “Andrea, was it you I saw dancing in the yellow dress in the newspaper?” It would have been, “Andrea, was it your underwear I saw dancing in the newspaper?” Which from a friend, mortifying; from a colleague … NO no no no nono.
It did a fantastic job holding the insulin pump, too.
I have a white, black, and yellow pair, and will likely expand as wardrobe dictates. And very likely wear them to work in the winter, because the regular pump holster is not as grippy on tights; I think these might work better. The white and yellow are made from a regular poly jersey: cheap, but not particularly breathable, which is an issue, but not as much of an issue as either misplacing my pancreas or displaying my undies for any journalists in the vicinity. The black pair is made from an athletic, wicking spandex, and is accordingly more comfortable.
The first holster is self-drafted. Just use a tape measure and you can make a good size for you.
The second is based on M6173. According to my body measurements and the BMV sizing chart, I should be a size Large. I made up a size Medium, took it in a bit, and it is in no way too tight for the purpose. Any leggings or bike shorts pattern would do, though. There’s no magic to this one.
This was actually meant to be a test top; I wanted to make this pattern in the Mariner Cloth with the stripes going different directions. But I wanted to try first with something a bit less expensive, so this swiss dot cotton voile–again on sale from Fabricland. It’s super soft and I love it.
Generally the pattern went together well. I did a 2″ FBA on each side, leaving the giant side dart alone and removing the waist dart from the side seam to keep the proportions approximately the same. White cotton voile bias strips were used to finish the neck and armscyes.
I moved the ties down about 1″ as it was a bit too empire at the original position, and I probably could move it down a bit more. And I think the FBA lengthened the front a little too much; I might take some of that length out if I make this again.
Overall I love the shirt. It’s soft and cool and comfortable and extremely comfortable. But there’s no getting around that it makes a bit of a baby-less baby bump on the front that I’m not super keen about, and which would probably be more pronounced in any stiffer fabric. So it wouldn’t work for the Mariner Cloth. Sigh.
The princess seams in the back and the side seams are all perfect; the thread loop and button closure at the back neckline worked out well, though I don’t think it’s strictly necessary. I never bother to undo it when I’m putting it on.
It’s a good pattern that went together well and I love the colours and how well they match everything, but choosing a fabric with lots of drape is essential to heading off any baby bump issues.
This is my standard Burda 38 with a 2″ FBA on each side. I left the side darts in, and rotated the waist darts out of the side to reduce excess volume. And good thing, considering there was plenty of volume regardless!
I’d initially bought this ponte to try out a boxy, unstructured jacket pattern. But I kept running into the fact that I hate boxy, unstructured jackets, so it languished in my stash. Part of it became one of many tries at pink pants, and what was left was just enough to make up this Burda knit blazer pattern. [in June. That’s the size of the project backlog, Dear Readers.]
It’s not hugely complex, so there’s not a lot to say about it. Everything went together beautifully and it only took a few hours using the serger. And it is a perfect match for the pink in this dress, so when I want a nice comfortable combo for work that looks professional, this does it. I’ll be making more.
Standard for me with Burda: size 38, graded to size 40 at hips, FBA on the bodice.
In this case, I traced the shoulder line both back and front out to the largest size. In the back, I scooped it back to the 38 by the bottom of the armscye. In the front, I kept it out, and then traced it back in a size or two from the bottom of the armscye to the waist. I then made the dart bigger at the waist seam to remove the rest of the excess. It worked! I have a bit of excess fabric around the shoulder, as you can see, but otherwise it fits just right.
You read a book, and sew something inspired by it. Fun. Yes?
Also the book she chose was The New Moon’s Armsby Nalo Hopkinson, a Canadian author I’ve been meaning to read for ages. This novel is somewhere between Magic Realism and Urban Fantasy, set in a Caribbean Island, and with a very complicated protagonist at its centre.
Calamity–the book’s heroine–was fascinating. She has a mix of self-loathing and narcissism that was perfectly engrossing (who names themselves “Calamity”?) and combined a determination to do the right thing (so long as it didn’t inconvenience her too much) with an utter inability, at times, to figure out what the right thing was. And a spectacular gift in getting it wrong, and wounding the people who love her most.
It was hard to think of clothes inspired by the novel, as clothing didn’t feature in it largely, except for Calamity’s endless harping on Ife for not dressing sexily enough and her appreciation for what a certain handsome male character wore. I am not sewing myself a scuba suit, So.
I went back to the First Date scene, where Calamity was trying to decide what to wear out to dinner. She tried on a dress, a skirt, and finally settled on jeans with a green blouse. Which she originally wore tucked in, but then the partner of her best friend from childhood, who she’d attacked rather viciously in a homophobic rant the day before, told her it looked better untucked.
I do have a long-sleeved green button-up blouse, but it’s August in the GTHA. Way too hot for sleeves. So here we have a blousy green t-shirt with my Calamity Jeans.
I realize it didn’t have to be such a literal interpretation, but I couldn’t think of anything else that would fill a legitimate hole in my wardrobe and also fit in the book. I do have other jeans of course–with low waists–but I wanted one pair of high-waisted snug jeans nice enough to wear to work.
These are the Jalie stretch jeans, based on the regular rise, but raised a further 1-2″ all around. I did add about 1 1/2″ to the crotch extension, which I think may not have been quite enough, and I wish I’d also added about 1″ to the back hip width, where it is a bit snug. Of course it’s stretch denim, so it’ll relax with wear, but I really feel it when I put them on.
And I don’t think jeans that are a smidge on the too-tight side are inappropriate for Calamity, either.
The denim is a heavy-weight 98% cotton 2% spandex blend from European Textiles on Ottawa St N, I believe. It’s been in the stash for a long time, so I’m not 100% sure on its provenance. It has enough stretch to give a bit without so much that it feels like jeggings, and despite the photos is a very dark indigo, not black. I did the topstitching with regular thread as I wanted a good colour match and none of the top-stitching threads were dark enough. The topstitching on the waistband and to attach the back pockets was done with the coverstitch machine on the chainstitch setting, to keep lots of stretch in the fabric.
For the pocket linings and fly facings, I used this Tula Pink bumblebee print. Not because bees are a feature of the book (I don’t think they come up even once), but because they seemed to me vaguely Bumble-ish, and Calamity’s search for love is very much a theme. So it’s tangential, but I think it works, and it’s also pretty and comfortable. And just to complete the theme, I embroidered a bee on the right back pocket with some metallic embroidery cords.
And just above the bee–though you can’t read it–I stitched Voglio Il Core.
I don’t think Calamity speaks Italian, but I got the phrase from a book on historical English clothing, where apparently a nobleman in the 1500s had the phrase embroidered all over a pair of his underwear. It means “I want the heart” or “I want the core,” and stitched on a pair of intimates it has a certain connotation, doesn’t it?
… I guess one of my main goals was to depict a mature woman being gloriously disgraceful, instead of trying to fade away into invisibility, which is what much of the world still seems to expect of older women.
Calamity certainly didn’t fade away into invisibility, and I loved the line “gloriously disgraceful.” What a commentary it is on society that women are supposed to fade away, become invisible, age ‘gracefully’–which often seems to mean to stop wanting things. Stop wanting attention, stop wanting romance, stop wanting visibility or success. And Calamity has certainly never stopped wanting, especially love. From her daughter and grandson, from her mother and father, from Michael (who loves her, but not romantically), from the little boy she finds on the beach, and from men generally. It’s unclear how much she actually likes the two love interests in the novel, at least at the beginning, or if she is responding to their apparent interest in her. And she wants them to, just as she wants the little boy to think of her as his mother, to love her best, to want to stay.
One of the interesting parts of her very complicated personality is how very much she wants to be loved but how very hard it is for her to be loving, though she can and does turn on the charm when she is interested in someone.
Anyway. So no, I don’t think she understands Italian, and if she did I don’t think she’d write “I want the heart” across her butt, but I do think it fits in with her character, so there it is.
For embroidery nerds: the back side of the pocket is reinforced with fusible stabilizer; the pattern was traced onto freezer paper and then ironed to the denim. I embroidered the bee and the words first, and then cut out the pocket and finished it. The inside is lined with the same bee fabric to protect the ends of the embroidery threads.
You’re probably going to get sick of these jeans, by the way. I took pictures for at least five shirt projects at the same time as I took these ones, so they’ll be showing up again … and again.
I love Jalie. Their sizing is a thing of beauty. I went by body measurements, Dear Readers, and picked that size, and except for changing the height of the waist, I made no other changes. So this is a size T at the waist, U at the hips, and in retrospect I could have gone to a V at the hips and given myself a bit of room (given that the pattern recommends a denim with 4% spandex and these only have 2%). But! No weird ease issues. I’ve now had the pleasure of sewing up a few of their patterns and so far, going by body measurements is a completely reliable way to choose a size.
This shirt pattern had so much to recommend it: the cool twist, the interesting sleeve construction, the simplicity. But in the end I can’t see wearing it much.
The fabric is a lightweight rayon/spandex jersey that is super soft and drapes beautifully.
I can’t comment on Burda’s instructions, since per usual, I didn’t look at them. It wasn’t hard to put together, though, and wouldn’t take more than an hour if you have a serger. No bands so the edges are all hemmed.
And it does look pretty neat when you first put it on, but here’s the problem:
As soon as I move my arms, the neckline bunches up.
You either need to accept it as a gathered cowl-like neckline, or be constantly pulling it back to where it’s supposed to be. But it doesn’t stay put.
Standard for me with Burda: Traced out a 38 grading to a 40 at the hips with an FBA in the front (and that was a fun time with this pattern). Overall fine, though I did end up taking it in a bit through the sleeves to get them to stay up when I rolled them up.
Regardless, in linen, the Winter Skirt is very summer-appropriate. Thanks to Dressmaking Debacles for her recent inspiration. Her version was so lovely, and seemed destined to be made up in this fabric.
(It might not be recent anymore by the time this is posted. We shall see.)
The linen is a Nani Iro from my favourite local fabric store. It wasn’t cheap, but it’s Nani! Iro! Linen! The print is so gorgeous, and it’s a lovely light linen. The only downside is that it is a smidge narrow, so to cut out the front pattern piece I had to go selvedge to selvedge, and so there is a smidge of text from the selvedge on the lower right front of the skirt. Worth it, though.
The pattern went together beautifully, as Burda patterns do. The pockets are high enough to be stitched into the waistband on the inside, which is a nice touch–I try to modify pocket pattern pieces to do that where it’s not included, because it’s a good anchor that means the weight of anything you put in it is hanging from the waist instead of the side seam, which looks and feels a lot better.
I can’t comment on the instructions as I didn’t look at them, but it all worked out. The seam allowances are serged to prevent raveling. The hem is blind stitched.
Happily I have several shirts in my wardrobe that go with the print nicely, so I’ll be getting a lot of wear out of this skirt.
As I usually do, I sized down by one from where the body measurements would put me in Burda: instead of size 40/42, this is a size 38/40, and it worked out beautifully.
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 …
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.
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?
Friends, this constitutes the second of two actual completed projects on my 2018 Make Nine list.
A floral bomber!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Also, I’m super happy about how well the collar points lined up:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.