Tag Archives: handmade

I made a Cambie, but I had a good reason

I loved La La Land. Yes it was silly and frivolous and presented a LA that doesn’t really exist particularly racially and hired actors who are neither professional singers nor dancers for roles that required a lot of singing and dancing and basically was another Hollywood-loves-to-make-movies-glorifying-Hollywood movie. You know what? I don’t care. Or I care, a little bit, but not enough not to love La La Land.

Partly it was just so much fun. I loved the dancing. No surprise. I also loved the dresses. La La Land had my platonic ideal of dancing dresses. Just look at the colours!

Now. Emma Stone is lovely but in build we are nothing alike. I could probably fit two of her in me and have room to spare, for one thing; for another, there is a conspicuous absence of space for bra straps in these lovely dresses, and that is a distinct dancing dress no-no for me. So while I loved the dresses I knew that most of them would be best loved from a “they look fantastic! … on you” vantage point.

But the yellow dress.

The yellow La La Land dress I have to try to make.

(For the rest, I will be content with stealing the colour scheme.)

I could not find any pattern with all the features:

1. Square neckline front and back
2. Sleeves join to neckline front and back; slight cut-on cap/flutter shape
3. Gathers into waistband
4. Waistband (as opposed to skirt and bodice directly joining)
5. 3/4 or full circle skirt

There were a ton of posts a few months back about how to make the La La Land dresses, but none of the patterns were really a good match. The skirt’s not a challenge–I can draft that; a pattern’s not needed–but the bodice is, and the Cambie looked like it would provide the best starting point, with the front sleeve construction and the waistband. Once I got the bodice to fit, altering the sleeves and changing the sweetheart to a square neckline would be no big deal.

Cambie Dress by Sewaholic Patterns, Line Drawings of View A & B

But getting a bodice meant for pear shapes to fit me is itself not a no-big-deal. So I am, slightly, eating my words on giving up on Sewaholic patterns. It was the Cambie or start from scratch, really.

So step one–look at that Dear Readers, an excessive prologue to a post about a dress that is itself a prologue–was to just make a straight-up Cambie with known alterations to the bodice, and tweak the fit.

This is a cotton voile floral from Fabricland, bought on sale, lined with a white cotton voile from Fabricland, also bought on sale. Altogether the dress probably weighs about 3 oz, the fabric is so light; it’s going to be perfect on those summer days when it’s scorching and muggy and anything feels like it’s too heavy to wear.

The Back

Alterations and tweaks:

1. 3″ FBA to the size 8, traced to a new sheet so I wouldn’t butcher the original
2. 1/4″ removed from the shoulder seam, front and back
3. Front neckline raised about 1/4″ at the join with the sleeve
4. Sleeve shortened about 1/2″ inch at the join with the bodice
5. Added about 1″ to and changed the shape of the top of the pocket pattern piece so I could sew it to the waistband and provide better support on the inside. It helped, but it’s not super relevant to the eventual La La Land dress.
6. Originally nervous about the waist measurement of the size 8 so cut a size 10 in the back to give me fudge space. Took out the fudge space, and an additional 1″ on either side of the zipper near the neckline.

The Side

And then once the dress was assembled, moved the front waist dart on the bodice pattern piece about 1″ closer to the centre.

I love it. I think the main alteration for the La La Land dress is really just going to be the back. I’ll use the sleeve lining piece for the sleeves, extend it a bit, double it up for the back, and then lower the back neckline and square it off. Straighten off the sweetheart neckline in the front and–voila. La Land Dress bodice ready to go.

Burda 11/2016 Skirt 102: Identity Crisis Version

You’d never know from reading here, but I’ve never had an extravagant wardrobe.

Ok, enough, pick yourselves off the floor and stop laughing already. I’m serious.

All four seasons of clothes have always fit in one small closet and a dresser. I bought my first-ever raincoat and pair of rain boots in my thirties. I bought my wedding dress for $200 off the rack at a mall–it was blue. (It’s amazing how cheap nice dresses can be when they’re not white.) There was nothing in my earlier life to predict that this blog subject would ever be something I would consider, even blind drunk and high on cocaine.

(Note: I’ve never been drunk or done any drugs harder than caffeine. Just in case you thought I spoke from any personal experience.)

So it is with some chagrin, served up with a side of identity crisis, that I report that as of finishing this skirt … I need to buy a new skirt hanger. Because otherwise I can’t hang it.

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Worse: I made another one just like it. Well, except in a different colour.

What have I become?

This is a silk/wool plaid end I bought years and years ago at the Creativ Festival, 2m for something like $20. I made the meringue skirt from the Colette sewing book and regretted it: it was too big, wouldn’t stay in place, and the scallops didn’t look right with the fabric. Eventually I gave it away. But I kept looking at the scraps and thinking, I bet there’s enough to make a skirt here.

I was right!

Of course, it’s short. I was able to cut everything out on grain but there wasn’t enough to ensure pattern matching; three of the four main seams worked but the big piece on the front could not be cut out any way other than what it was, so:

The Side that doesn't match
The Side that doesn’t match

The flounces are curvy pieces so while the centre is on-grain, the sides are on the bias, and there’s no sense even trying to pattern match those. But the back and the right side worked out:

Pattern matching across the zipper: not too bad!
Pattern matching across the zipper: not too bad!
The Other Side, Which Matches
The Other Side, Which Matches

The flounce is super cute. I just serged the bottom edge with matching threads and it worked fine.

The skirt is lined inside to just above the flounce.

It’s a cute pattern that works well and goes together fairly easily, even with the flounce. The flounce gives it a bit of an a-line-with-edge vibe.

…so of course I had to make it again.

The Front/Side/Flounce

It’s a new thing I’m trying. I have this habit of seeing a pattern I like and telling myself, “It’s cute. I’ll make it up out of these scraps and see what I think.” And then never getting around to making a ‘good’ version out of not-scraps. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with having clothes made out of scraps, if they turn out well; they’re essentially free clothes if you discount the time value. But it would be nice to take those patterns I worked to fit so nicely and use them on not-scraps more often. Which is how I ended up with two keyhole dresses, two winged skirts, and now two flounce skirts.

This one in a royal blue/purple wool crepe.

The Back

It was distinctly not free. The wool was about $30/yard. The lining, though, was the remainders from the lining for the leather and suede skirts, so free. And I already had the zipper. So about $45 for a wool skirt that fits. Plus that colour makes me happy.

My father’s wife always had a fantastic style sense. She spent a lot of money on her clothes, which took up the walk-in closet in the master bedroom, the closet in the guest room, and a couple of racks in the basement. More power to her, but when my winter boots got holes in the bottom or the lining fell out of my winter coat, she’d refuse to replace or even repair them. Sometimes for Christmas or my birthday I’d get some really nice clothes, and there was usually a back-to-school shopping trip, and that would be it. This meant I could, most years, dress ok for fall through spring assuming everything held up, but for summer I had to be creative. And then she seemed to decide that I was her physical clone and started buying me clothes and shoes–in her size. We are not the same size. I’d have skirts that hung off my hips, shirts that fell off my shoulders. It was all very, very odd. In any case, I got used to having an eccentric wardrobe that didn’t take up a lot of space.

The Side

And now I am in the position of having to buy a second skirt hanger for the first time actually in my entire life. Or I suppose I could ship off an old skirt to a happier home.

I guess I’m still doing the eccentric part all right, though.

I have no idea where this came from. But here it is. If I ever start talking about buying racks for the basement for extra clothes, please someone shake sense into me.

(Brace yourself: there’s a dress pattern based off the skirt pattern and of course I have to make that up too.) (HELP)

Burda 10/2016 Dress 104: Thanks, it has pockets!

I’m trying to remember when sewing changed from being a way to make myself and Frances clothes that were practical, comfortable and fit properly, and became a way instead for me to figure out how a dress like this gets put together.

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PEPLUM POCKETS! Genius. Functional and decorative at the same time. No seamlines to break up a cool print.

Pockets! No face though.
Pockets! No face though.

You know–or if you’re on FaceBook at any rate you should know–what a very big deal pockets are in skirts and dresses.

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This is a mid-weight rayon with a herringbone weave that is only visible if you get really really close.  It came from Marina’s fabrics on Ottawa Street and was, I think, about $8/m. So plus the lining (bemberg) and the zipper, this might be a $25 or $30 dress. It’s very soft and super ravelly. The bodice is lined, but the skirt is not, so those edges were overlocked.

"Oh, right. I should look at the camera."
“Oh, right. I should look at the camera.”

Of course, it was the print I couldn’t say no to. And in a rare burst of thematic inspiration, given the colour scheme, I even finished it up early February so I could wear it on Valentine’s Day. This will probably never happen again.

The Back. Remarkably dress-like
The Back. Remarkably dress-like

First crack at the bodice was quite loose so I snugged it in by about 1 1/2″ at the waist, and of course the sleeves had to be shortened as always. Then once it was sewn up, the bodice was still too loose to be smooth, so I unstitched, re-pinned and restitched. I can’t even tell you how many times I have sewn the bodice lining to the waist seam at this point. It’s still not as smooth as shown in the magazine photo, but I’m happy with it now. I think part of the problem is just the weight of all the folds at the front pulling down the front waistband seam.

Close-up of the waistband, pleats on the skirt, and those wonderful pockets.
Close-up of the waistband, pleats on the skirt, and those wonderful pockets.

Other than that, this is the dress as the pattern has it; it works and sews up perfectly, and the pockets make me positively giddy. They’re perfectly functional for anything you might think of putting in a skirt pocket–small wallet, lipstick, keys, phone, would all fit and not alter the line of the dress. It’s great for an office environment and yet manages to have some personality. There was no universe in which I actually needed this dress, but I’m pretty happy to have it.

 

Burda 12/2016 Dress 118: Hi-Low (or is that low-hi?)

I decided to make this one in the midst of Fabricland’s annual December members’ sale, but wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t find a jersey that seemed meant for this dress: too patterned, too poly, too thick, too sheer, too whatever. I ended up settling on this bright pink poly/rayon jersey. It is unbelievably soft; it is as comfortable as a t-shirt; it  is probably not meant for a dress. But who cares. It cost $6/metre and bought three, so plus the zipper this is about a $20 dress. I made it up just in time to wear to Christmas dinner with a friend and her lovely parents, and have worn it several times since, because it meets that cardinal rule of dresses in wintertime: snuggliness.

 

The pattern itself is awesome:

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Keyhole slit, slanted waistline, gores in the skirt, pleats in the bodice, and fancy bell sleeves to capitalize on our current Sleeves Moment.

Before making it up I shortened that keyhole slit: bizarrely short upper torso necessitates these kinds of machinations unless I want to put my underwear on display which, despite the Accidentally Underdressed posts, I really don’t. Even so I need to be careful with my underwear choices in this one.

The Back. It doesn't *look* like pajamas.
The Back. It doesn’t *look* like pajamas.

After making it up I realized that I need to take some height and width out of the centre back and back neckline seams, which is pretty standard for me. But long hair=No One Can Tell, or so I say to myself. I also hemmed the sleeves more than the pattern said to so it would hit at my elbows, thanks to bizarrely short arms.

It’s almost entirely serged. The bodice is lined; for this version, I self-lined. I wouldn’t do that again, since the pleats x 2 make for a thick join at the front waistline.

The Side. Plus invisi-pleats at the shoulder.
The Side. Plus invisi-pleats at the shoulder. Can you see them?

The sleeve cap is pleated too, which is hard to see in these pictures or in the line drawing. Take my word for it: it’s cute.

You’re supposed to do a button-and-loop closure at the top of the keyhole slit but I just sewed it shut. The dress has a zipper up the back, for goodness’ sake; a functional button closure is not required.

Having liked the first one so much, I had to make it again.

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Hush. That’s how it works.

I altered the pattern to take out the excess width in the back, and lowered the back neckline by about an inch and a half. And then I went shopping.

Not intentionally, actually. I had to bring my coverstitch machine into the shop (… yes it did take me that long) and saw that the fabric shop across the street from the sewing machine store had a “CLOSING BY JANUARY 31!” sign along with “70% off lowest marked price for everything in the store!” This was the one shop on Ottawa Street where they sold really, really, really nice stuff. The kind of stuff that can cost over $100/yard so you go in, pet it reverently, and then leave quietly so as not to mark or damage anything.

The Back.
The Back.

I went in. It had been pretty picked over, but in addition to six yards of silk picked up for $35 including taxes (!!!!!), I found a plum poly jersey with a super sparkly gold lurex weave, marked down to about $3.50/yard. Two yards of fabric plus one metre of cheap polyester lining plus a zipper comes to a grand total of about $13 for the whole dress. And yes, this was the first of the Lurex Trend to be completed. It’s very sparkly. In some lights it’s more gold than purple.

The Side
The Side

Sewing your own clothes doesn’t always save you money, but holy hell that’s less than the price of a trade paperback.

Anyway. It’s a very, very light jersey–so light I took it home and discovered it’s almost transparent with the light behind it–and I used wisperlite (their spelling, not mine) lining which, incidentally, is both very very light and sheer and woven so tightly my regular machine needles did not want to puncture it for love or money. This increased the frustration factor, but also made it much easier to pleat the bodice as both together were about the thickness of a regular jersey. Because the fabric was so sheer I had to draft a lining for the skirt. Because it’s jersey and so light, and because I didn’t want to have a topstitch or even a blind stitch hem to break that lovely sparkle, I just left the hems raw. And again the keyhole was sewn shut.

The one bit of advice I have for anyone making this up at home is to baste the front bodice pieces to the skirt before serging. Both times now the machine has struggled to gain purchase on all those layers at the middle front and so one piece has ended up skewed, necessitating fancy hand sewing after the fact to make it line up properly. Can’t tell now but it was a bit annoying at the time.

So now I have two versions of the same dress: one soft, snuggly, and work-appropriate, and the other sparkly and suitable for dancing. Both dirt cheap.

Winter Dancing Dress: At The Ball

I might go on at length here–this dress was complicated and challenging but it worked out really well. She said humbly.

I was not sure I wanted to go to this particular dance party, as I’d heard Idiot Harasser might be there. There is little that is less enjoyable than buying a ticket, spending weekends making a dress, and devoting an evening to being harassed by an asshole who won’t take no for an answer.  I ended up going with someone else though, and spent most of the night well across the room; so it was a fun evening. And here, months later, is the dress.

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The sequins were bought as practice sequins. I actually meant to make a velvet dress for this occasion, and bought that fabric at the same time, but then I was flipping through a magazine when I came across this Dolce & Gabbana dress:

Except for the collar. Let's just pretend it's not there.
Except for the collar. Let’s just pretend it’s not there.

Which apparently retails for something close to five thousand pounds.

I liked the combination of the very ladylike sleeves and flounce with the sequins, and I thought … why don’t I try to knock it off? I mean, what is this? A sheath dress with puffed sleeves and a flounce. How hard can it be?

I had no intention of making this the masquerade dress, but I didn’t fully understand how time consuming this would be, and didn’t have the time to muslin and sew up another dress pattern, so the practice dress became The Dress.

I based the pattern off of this basic Vogue pattern:

Using the sheath dress variation.

It’s meant to be cut on the bias, but as the sequins were sewn to a stretchy (and transparent) mesh, I cut it out on the straight grain and converted the front pieces to a single piece. I adjusted the pieces to have negative ease, drafted a basic pattern piece for the puffed sleeves, and altered the neckline to a V after I’d sewn it together and tried it on. (I am not a fan of high neck anything.)

The Back
The Back

I then added a lining out of bamboo jersey from the stash, to add some opacity and comfort to the inside. (Sequins=scratchy) Same pattern pieces as the dress, with the shoulders extended slightly to cover the shoulder seams. The dress was then pegged quite a bit and the hem shortened to account for the addition of the flounce, and two flounce pieces drafted and added–complete with sparkly tulle. The original doesn’t look like there was a whole lot of gathering so I went with a 1.5 ratio and it seemed to work.

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I used bias strips of silk charmeuse scraps on the seamlines to prevent the dress from stretching or bagging out, and also used elastic at the top of the flounce to support the weight and keep it gathered in.

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And added clear elastic at the waist on the lining, between it and the dress, to keep the waist from stretch or bagging out from dancing. You know how knits are.

The Side.
The Side.

On this fabric, the sequins were small and thin enough that I just sewed right through them. It cost me three needles but saved me hours of time, so that’s a win in my books.

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I’m not under any illusions that this is as nice as the D&G original, but as a knock-off put together for under $100, it’s not bad.

Burda 8/2016 Skirt 123: An Anti-Winter Project

Winter is a tough season for skirts.

One thinks, on the one hand, “I want to be warm” (or maybe more accurately “I am so fucking sick of being so fucking cold goddammit why is it only February?”). On the other hand, one thinks, “If I wear the same pants again I may set them on fire.” Or, less melodramatically, “Ugh, again.”

But I think this skirt can manage some deep-winter wear without risking frostbite.

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Hey look! It’s one of the Renfrews I made up and didn’t blog. Mini blog-aside: seafoam bamboo jersey I tried to make into a pleated drapey top a few years back and never wore because it didn’t work, so I hacked it apart and made it into something else.

It’s to the knees, meant for a fabric with a bit of thickness and body, and fully lined. This one is made from a thick wool twill. The centre is a double pleat:

skirt-cap-2

Which is what makes the hem stand out so nicely.

Side-ish.
Side-ish.

The lining is a grass-green bemberg because that’s what I had on hand. I just serged that hem a few inches shorter than the skirt and otherwise left it.

The Back
The Back

The inside of the skirt waistband is made of the rayon twill I used for the drapey skirt; I didn’t want the wool against my skin in case I should ever wear a shirt untucked with this, so I split the waistband into two and added a seam allowance.  Otherwise I made it up as directed in the pattern with no alterations, using standard sizes, and it fits well and looks like it’s supposed to, and is even fairly warm (but no promises that I’ll wear it when it’s not at least near freezing). Overall it’s super simple and you could easily hack pockets into it if you wanted, without affecting the overall fit or line of the skirt.

This pattern is one that I am toying with for the black felted/embroidered fabric I posted about recently.  I need to play around with it a bit and see how it handles pleating before I make up my mind, but would love to hear any thoughts any of you might have.

Burda skirt 11/2015 #105: One Day I’ll Fly Away

I actually ordered a back issue of the magazine just to get this skirt pattern and it still took me a year to make it.

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I love the seam lines on this. I love the way the darts have been rotated into those seams. And I love the way the seamlines work with the godet to shape the skirt.

skirt-cap

I still love all of those things; but I wish I’d chosen a fabric that was a better match for them.

This is a fairly heavy fabric of unknown contents: Is it wool? Is it poly? Who knows? I don’t. It was free and I thought it would make something suitable for a funeral, when I thought I would have a funeral to go to. It is also a bit stiff. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it does make the shape of the skirt far more dramatic. And it makes it look like culottes from the front.

Side note: I do not like culottes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a pattern over the last few years and thought, “What a cute skirt pattern! Wait … never mind … culottes. Bah.”

And from the back, you get a snazzy tail fin:

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However: there was no chance that I was going to special order a magazine for a particular pattern and then only make it once, even if it had been a spectacular success, which it wasn’t.  So I tried again in a different colour of the same rayon twill I made the It’s Fine dress in:

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Lord it’s dark in that photo. But hey! It’s a much drapier teal version of the same skirt. Rayon twill is about as unlike denim (also a twill, for those of you who don’t sew) as you can imagine: it is soft, drapey, clingy as hell. Just slightly thicker than challis. There’s maybe not much you can see here, but hopefully you can see that it does not look like culottes from the front. Nor does it have a snazzy tail fin from the rear:

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Instead, it drapes, just as it did in the pattern photo.

All around better, except for the fact that the rayon, no matter how low the temperature I used to press, insisted on going shiny at the seams. So frustrating.

At any rate: it’s a great pattern. Easy to put together, fun shape if you get the fabric right. The seam around the zipper is a bit too rounded and I had to take about half an inch off, and sewing around the peak of the x-cross seam is a smidge tricky and doesn’t make quite as obvious an angle as it does in the pictures.

Something you can’t see here is that the gores make nearly a circle skirt at the hem, meaning that if you were to twirl in this you’d get a nice round swish below the knees. I did try for you Dear Readers, but I nearly gave myself a concussion trying to turn a fast circle on the stairs. Not that the photo wouldn’t have been entertaining for non-sewing-related reasons, right?

And just to round out the Holy Trinity of Sewing Blog Photos:

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The side of the first one, complete with full wings.

V1389: Accidentally Underdressed Part II

It took me so long to make up the shirt from this set that not only is this pattern out of print, it’s not even listed on the website anymore. Oops. Also this means that if any of you like and want to make this … you’re out of luck. Sorry.

I actually originally bought the set for the skirt, which has some very cool seam lines on it, but this winter I found myself in need of long-sleeved shirts. Now, if you are like me, the word “need” comes to have a very ambiguous definition for sewing projects. Like: “I ‘need’ to find a jacket pattern to make up the felted black wool I picked up downtown on a whim,” or “I ‘need’ to find a lightweight jersey with a bit of body so I can try that jersey dress from this month’s Burda.” Or, more recently, “I ‘need’ to find some brightly coloured wool crepes so I can make up some skirts like Mia wore in La La Land.” None of these would pass the global-issues sniff test, and I wince a little every time I catch myself thinking anything like them.

However.

All of my previous year’s long-sleeved shirts were loose and drapey. And then last year went and did it’s I’m-2016-I’m-going-to-make-you-cry-uncle that we’ve all enjoyed so much. And I lost my appetite and a bit of weight. So last year’s “drapey” and “loose” became “looks like a five-year-old dressing up in mom’s clothes.” (Along with a few of last year’s pairs of pants, necessitating a new pair of Style Arc Jasmine‘s, but you don’t want to see another one of those, do you? Suffice it to say that it’s grey and it fits.) On a “need” scale this isn’t “I haven’t eaten in three days” but at least in a first world context it is somewhat legitimate.

So, after my recent sequin adventures and a black skirt that is in the blogging queue, and a long-sleeved shirt for my daughter who also has an unaccountable need to put on clothing that fits and is appropriate for school every day, it was time to do something about this. Shirt #1 was Yet Another Renfrew, and again, you don’t need to see another one of those. It is a purpley blue, long-sleeved, and I’ve finally altered the front pattern piece so that it fits properly, which just goes to show that buying a pattern from a company that specializes in patterns for pear shapes is not the smartest thing to do when you are not a pear shape, no matter how nice the pattern is.

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It’s pure coincidence that the colour matches the pattern envelope.

This is basically a raglan-sleeve t-shirt with a very wide neck band and a wide neckline. In terms of construction it is completely uninteresting, except for the neckband which has to be stretched out to its fullest extent while attaching to the shirt in order to lie (mostly) flat when worn. I made this a bit easier on myself by first basting and then serging.

When on the hanger, there are gathers along that seam that largely smooth out when it is stretched out on the body. However I do find that that neckband really wants to contract and it won’t stay as wide as it is supposed to according to the pattern drawing. I also find that some of the gathers remain on the back of the neck, but I don’t much care as that’s covered by hair anyway.

The Back. Gathers not visible, but everything else is.
The Back. Gathers not visible, but everything else is.

Overall it’s a fun pattern with some interesting details that make it a bit different–I mean, check out that side seam:

What looks like a seam on the back is actually the side seam
What looks like a seam on the back is actually the side seam

Such a small thing but a nice touch.

Dear god.
Dear god.

But I somehow doubt people are going to be paying much attention to the side seam because holy hell is it snug. There is nothing left to the imagination. This was supposed to be a shirt for work–and it probably still can be, if worn with a roomy skirt and a cardigan or blazer. Or I could go for broke and wear it with that front-split burda skirt I made in the summer and get myself sent down to HR.

It is a cool pattern, though. I’ll probably make it again, and maybe give myself just a smidge more ease.

Burda 11/2016 Dress 110: It’s Fine

You can see almost nothing about this dress (pattern here) thanks to the print I chose, a rayon twill from Fabricland that is soft, drapey, colourful, easy to sew, and obscures any seam not outlined with a highlighter pen.

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The Acceptable Front

So, in words: shoulder yokes, gathered bodice to a snug waistband both front and back, pleats in the front skirt, gathered bell-shaped sleeves. Like so:

dress-cap

Or like so:

Still can't see the gathers or pleats, right?
Still can’t see the gathers or pleats, right?

Yeah it’s all pretty well invisible.

It made up just fine and it’s a perfectly ok dress for work, and because it’s rayon, I’ll be able to wear it in the spring, too. But I don’t love it enough to make it again. The print makes the whole thing so impossible to read that the wearer becomes an amorphous blob of paisleyish floral stuff with no details about the garment or the person underneath the garment even remotely visible. It’s practically a caftan.

The Perfectly OK Back
The Perfectly OK Back

The pattern itself works up just fine–everything matches, everything works, it’s not too challenging. It’s not the pattern’s fault that I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.  If this is something you wanted to make up, I recommend picking a less busy print.

By the way, get used to stair photos for the next little while. We have entered the Cold Grey Bucket of Suck winter period here in S Ontario and I plan on keeping my acquaintance with the outdoors limited to shivering from the front door to the car. Weird shadows and bad light are the name of the game until probably May. Sorry.

The Side. Because it's not a sewing blog post if you don't get all three views, or so I have been told.
The Side. Because it’s not a sewing blog post if you don’t get all three views, or so I have been told.

Winter Dancing Skirt #1: It seemed like a good idea at the time

In one of the September fashion magazines–I forget which one–I saw a picture of a sequined pencil skirt–I forget which designer–that looked like it would work for dancing and/or dating in the winter. Tights, t-shirt, jacket–you’re good to go.

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The Front, in bad light

And so when I was downtown looking for fabrics to make into a dress for a masquerade party, and I saw these sequins

I mean, holy hell. Look at them! Purple blue green teal depending on the light, matte black on the reverse. It’s like mermaid scales.

It’s also heavy.

And expensive.

Plus heavy. I got one yard, that being all I could justify, and then two yards of a cheaper ‘practice’ sequined fabric (that ended up being the masquerade dress. More on that later).

The back of the fabric is a heavy black knit, perfectly opaque, with lots of lengthwise stretch but very little widthwise.

The pattern is based on my skirt sloper. I looked at my pencil skirt patterns and none were quite right. I wanted something fairly dramatically pegged, not too long, without a waistband, and all of my pencil skirt patterns–all three of them–were either too straight, too long, or had too many pieces, which I didn’t want to mess with on account of the sequins.

I traced out the sloper, compared to current measurements, altered slightly, determined the length I wanted (I think it’s 18″), pegged the bottom side seams by about an inch on each piece, and cut.

And then began the true joy of removing sequins from seam allowances, first marked with white thread so it would show up on both sides. I tried to just sew through them but these sequins were having none of it.

The sloper is the result of Suzy Fuhrer’s skirt sloper class on Craftsy, and I just want to say: she gets a lot of rave reviews on those classes but IMO she adds too much ease and she relies too much on “industry standards” for certain measurements. My skirt sloper is based on ignoring her advice on those, and even so, it was loose enough after the first draft that I had to sit down and take out a bunch more sequins so I could take it in a bit more.

I also ended up pegging the centre back seam by about an inch on each side, too, after the first fitting.

Even pegged as it is, and without a slit or vent, I can walk up and down stairs and sit comfortably.

The Side
The Side

The waistband is just a facing of black twill tape. I wanted something tough without any give or stretch that could support the fabric and to which I could attach a hook and eye closure, which is just a smidge tighter than the skirt so that the zipper doesn’t strain and so the skirt stays at my waist.

The skirt itself is just three pieces with darts and a zipper; putting it together out of anything else would have been quick and simple. It took hours longer to remove the sequins than it did to actually sew the skirt. But now it’s done, praise heaven, and I can wear it.

I have enough of the sequined fabric left that I could make the front piece of a simple shirt, and I might. I thought maybe a scout, with sleeves and black from a regular black knit fabric. But not until after I’ve recovered from the tedium of sequin removal.