We’re coming to the end of the summer projects, Dear Readers. I have, I think, one more in the queue, and then it’s off to fall–pretty much just in time for winter. But I haven’t been doing as much sewing this fall as I normally would, at least not for myself; I made one (one!) garment for me in September, and so far in October have nearly completed one (one!) more. They’re both on the complex side, and I’ve been sewing a few things for Frances some of which are also on the complex side, but still.
With all of my newfound free time I’ve been reading up a storm. I’ve read ten books since the beginning of September, including all three of the recent “women and anger” releases, which you may hear about here soon since I am full of thoughts and have a paucity of completed sewing projects. In the meantime, if you’re looking for something surprisingly inspiring, I recommend Coyote America: in which we threw our most advanced biological weapons, poisons, aircraft with guns, helicopters, and scalpers for decades at them, and they largely rolled their eyes at us, expanded their range, and increased their population. I mean if you’re looking for a poster animal for extreme resiliency, coyotes would be hard to beat. The US literally has spent millions of dollars on eradicating coyotes, and they’re basically like, “whatever. We hear LA is nice. See you in the hedgerow!”
Anyway. Summer sewing project: a faux-wrap dress and shirt. I love wrap dresses, but the FBAs for them are such pains in the ass, particularly if your boobs are situated a bit higher up on your rib cage, that I normally don’t bother making them.
And this is a petite pattern, but as I’m a bit short in the torso I thought I could make it work, and the nice wide band on the neckline looked very promising for making a faux-wrap top less scandalous than they normally are.
I tested it out with a very cheap poly jersey ($3/m) from Fabricland in the dress view without doing anything but an FBA. It worked well and went together nicely and has a bit of a waist tilt in the front–not surprising. Otherwise it fits.
And you can definitely see me coming on a dark night. It’s a very bright orange/pink/white geometric print.
The second try was a rayon jersey–also on sale from Fabricland for, I think, $3 or $4/m–with this very cool stripe/botanical combo print. It’s super soft and very comfy. This time I altered the waistline to bring it down just a smidge centre back and about 1 1/2″ centre front. I think it was a bit too much, mostly because the rayon jersey is so much softer and more stretchy than the poly that it hangs farther on its own, without any pattern alterations.
Generally, both garments stay closed centre front and cover a regular bra.
Both made up very quickly on the serger with the coverstitch for hemming.
This is a size 19/20 with an FBA. Petite size 19/20 is equivalent to regular size 38/40, which is my standard in Burda.
I picked up this blouse pattern for the sleeves and simplicity rating, and decided to make it up in a silk-cotton voile I got on sale at Fabricland. Not a normal test fabric, but I bought a bunch of it for 75% off, so I figured it was best to just go ahead and make the blouse with what I actually wanted, rather than doing a test first.
I’m glad I did. It worked out really well, I like wearing it and it’s so lightweight that it’s perfect for super-hot summer days. By the time you read this, we will likely not be having too many hot summer days–at least not here–but I really appreciated it in July.
And there’s so many colours in it that it matches everything.
Everything matched up and went together well. The zipper gave me conniptions in the back; even with interfacing, it did not want to lie flat. We got there eventually.
I love the all-in-one facing. It matched up to the pattern pieces perfectly (note: I did have to retrace the front portion after the FBA) and, once sewn in, stays put beautifully. The facing, incidentally, is sewn in white silk-cotton voile scraps.
There’s not much else to say about the construction. Seams were sewn, then finished with the serger. The fabric pressed beautifully and behaved well.
This blouse is my Burda standard 38 with a 2″ FBA on each side. Body measurements should put me into a 40/44. The only change I would make is to lengthen the sleeve over the shoulder so it’s even front and back.
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.
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.