Saturday, May 9, 2015

Burdastyle 9/2013-101 - Day dress extraordinaire

Hey guys! It's been a while, I know. There's no big reason really. I just went through a stage where I completely lost my grĂ¡ for blogging.  I'm still sewing something most of the time, but I was basically out of stuff to say about it.  There must be a time when most bloggers think to themselves "hasn't this all already been said?".  Anyway, when I put this dress on today, it occurred to me that I had already written the post, and there aren't that many reviews out there of it, and I happen to really love it. So after wearing this dress for months, I have finally gotten around to reviewing it.

When I was little I hated dresses. I refused to wear any kind of dress.  I'm still not really a dress person, but this is the kind of dress that would make me change my mind.  I can't fully identify with people who claim they can wear exactly what they want because they sew; I still can't reliably turn out a garment that's exactly what I want every time.  Having said that, I'm sure that if I went shopping for a dress, I'd be shopping for a long time before giving up and failing to find a dress I like as much as this one.

Pattern Notebook

Burdastyle 9/2013-101B

View / Size used: Here's how far behind the blogging is from the sewing: I made the first version this dress a year and five months ago.  Unfortunately it was the project where I realised that I was not a Burda straight size 38.

Turns out my hips are a 40.  It became obvious because the pockets on the dress were doing something funny, I had already serged off the seam allowances, so I couldn't add anything back there.  My fix of just sewing the pockets closed didn't work - the dress just was too tight on my hips. The fabric had a pretty firm stretch so that may not have helped.  

For version 2 (made back in November 2014) I kept the 38 bodice and added it to the skirt of Burda 8/2012-115 (which I had traced because it shares pattern pieces with 8/2012-113 (is it too late to make a peplum top, are they over yet?). The skirt is also a 38, but there's so much ease it doesn't matter.

Fabric Used: Mystery cotton/rayon from FIDM.  It's quite thin which I've come to realize is a good idea for this pattern because there is a whole lot of fabric in the center where the two sides meet.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
In addition to changing out the skirt, I narrowed the front ties. They are total fabric hogs, but I also think that they are too wide and short.  The pattern pieces actually get wider towards the ends of the ties.  I folded back the pattern piece on both sides until it was actually tapering inwards, and eyeballed adding about 6" more.  In order to get such long ties I pieced them just after the '7' notch.

I also swapped out the sleeve. I actually don't know where I got the sleeve from, it's a knit sleeve that I have stuck to my pinboard.  It was unlabeled apart from 'knit sleeve' but I'm pretty sure I traced it from Burda.

I didn't use any elastic in the waist, I don't think you need it with the ties. Actually I hadn't even noticed that in the instructions the first time round.

The hem is actually even if pulled down, but the way the ties are, it comes up in the middle. I didn't leave it to hang before hemming, nor did I do anything so smart as measuring the hem from the floor while it was on my dressform, I just turned it up and stitched.  Perhaps something to think about next time.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
It's all pretty straight forward until you turn the ties right side out, then it's confusing as hell. Reading them now to tell you what I did, I'm still confused. I'm pretty sure what they're saying is that between the notch '4' and '7' you have to figure out how to transition from the inside of the tie to a seam allowance neatly.  This is made more complex by the fact that the ties end up with the seam running down the middle of the back, so the neck edge starts turning in before it even gets to the tie. I just turned in the neck edge and stitched with a straight stitch.  For the lower edge the waist seam allowance gets turned in until it becomes the tie seam allowance. After that step it's straightforward again.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I was attracted to this dress because the picture of the 101A top in the index page is tied like a more traditional wrap, then I was so frustrated because the larger pictures in the magazine and the line drawings all look different - the crossover is much lower.  Thankfully I saw Mokosha's lovely version tied both ways, and that cleared up the mystery. (She made it again, here, I still want to steal that dress!)

Oh sorry, what did I like about the pattern, I think it's super flattering, I love wrap things, and this is a nice twist on it.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
It's a great dress.  I dress pretty casually, and I think that this is on the nice end of casual without being too far outside of my normal stuff.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, I'm sure I would, and yes.

Construction notes: 
I think I've covered it all above.

Machines / settings used: 
Janome 7318 for sewing.  I used a 3 mm straight stitch for sewing. I don't usually bother with stretch stitches apart from in places that will need to stretch like the waist seam.

I serged most of the seams but I couldn't figure out how to do it on the waist seam, so I just left it.  It is jersey, and hasn't raveled or done anything weird.

Hopefully I think of some more things to say soon! xx

Monday, February 9, 2015

Burda 6849 - Fitted shirt

I love shirts. I love the idea of a shirt that fits nicely, but it hasn't been an easy thing to find. I actually donated a bunch of RTW shirts about a year ago because I couldn't ignore how badly they fitted anymore, but I had such a hard time sewing anything better that I actually bought one a few months ago. You'd think that having a sloper would help, but I've found that it's not getting a pattern to the point of no ease that's difficult, it's getting the right amount of ease that's really tricky.  To me, that's the difference between a pattern maker and a designer.  This shirt isn't perfect at all, but I think it's a pretty good step in the right direction.

Pattern Notebook

View / Size used: View B / C with no pockets. I have no idea what the difference is between view B and C.

I cut out a straight size 38, but made fit adjustments afterwards.  I chose that size because it's my usual with Burda. For reference, my my high bust corresponds with the listed bust measurement for a 38 but my full bust would be a 40/42. Using a size 38, I still had 1" of ease according to the finished measurements on the pattern tissue. My waist is a 40 and hips are 42. All this is fairly moot because my waist length is off the bottom of the chart at least 3 inches shorter than the pattern is drafted for.

Fabric Used: Plain 100% cotton gingham from Angel Textiles in downtown LA (they don't have a website, but I've made a google map of all the fabric stuff I know about in Southern California here). I bought this fabric ages ago for muslins, but I don't actually make muslins, so it was time to use it up!

I used some light interfacing from The Fabric Store. It's the same stuff I used and loved on my last two shirts, but it may actually be slightly too light for this shirt. I do have some interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, but I'm not as in love with it as most people seem to be. I find the names of her different interfacing really confusing. I have the 'ProWOVEN Shirt-Crisp FUSIBLE Interfacing' maybe I should have ordered the 'ProWOVEN Light-Crisp FUSIBLE Interfacing"or the 'ProSheer Elegance MEDIUM Fusible', but my mind was boggled by the super long convoluted names when I ordered.  The 'shirt-crisp' interfacing was also really hard to fuse.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I didn't use the pockets, and I used tower plackets rather than the more simple strip that the pattern called for.  I adjusted the back darts fairly substantially, and took in the sleeves by about 5/8".

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Pretty good but I did a couple of things differently. I did the yoke using the burrito method. For the sleeve, I was torn. I hate setting in sleeves, and usually just sew them in flat, however adding tower plackets and cuffs is easier to do before the sleeve is attached to the shirt, and you have to do them after you sew the sleeve seam.

I came up with a sort of best-of-both-worlds solution by sewing on the plackets, then a few inches of the sleeve seam, then I attached the cuffs.  I was still able to sew on the sleeve in the flat, but didn't have to wrestle the whole shirt while attaching the cuffs.  Even though I sewed it in flat, I had to baste the seam line of the sleeve head before attaching it to the armscye to ease it in. 5/8" seam allowances are a total PITA when it comes to sleeve heads.  I was glad I used that method because I did end up narrowing the sleeves all the way to the armpit, which is trickier when the sleeve is set in the round.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love that there's front and back darts, I have a really hard time figuring out where the side bust dart goes so this pattern eliminates that problem entirely.  There are so many places to take in or let out after it's together, that it's really handy for getting a nice fit.

It is a little odd that there's no pleat in the sleeve going in to the cuff, but it's not hard to add one I suppose.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
It's a bit long, especially in the sleeves.  I'll probably shorten them about 3/4" next time. I could probably take 2" or 3" off the hem.

All the pictures of it actually tucked in were out of focus, but here you might be able to see that it's ever so slightly too roomy at the waist to be tucked in smoothly.  I would like to make a version in a stretch woven, so I could go a little closer with the fit.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes yes yes.

Construction notes: 

I tend to use snips for notches, but you can't do that for front or back darts, so I used Saral chalk paper (from the art supply shop) with packing tape on the back, it makes the paper stronger so you can really push on it. I also used a solid tracing wheel because I find it works better than the serrated one when I'm marking fabric.

For the tower placket, I first used the Off The Cuff placket tutorial. I've used it before, and both times, I've sewn the placket the wrong way around. I can't put my finger on why it makes me confused because she explains clearly in the text; put the little piece on the small side and the big piece on the wider side. Then I tried following Kathleen Fassenella's photo's.  I think Kathleen Fassenella's method is easier and makes for a neater placket. Using her order, I was able to form the tower using the iron and fabric glue before I sewed it on to the slit, which was a lot easier than doing it while it's attached to the sleeve. This fabric has no right side or wrong side, so I proceeded to make two of the same side sleeve. I had to rip one of them out again, so I had to sew 4 plackets in total. I bet I could do one in less than 15 mins now.

I still wish I'd taken the trouble to get the Shirtmaking book back out of the library because of all the cool tricks that Tasia is sharing in her shirt sew along.

I sewed it up exactly as drafted first.  The front was pretty good, but the back was exactly what you'd expect from a pattern designed to have the waist 3" lower than my waist.

I ripped out the darts, put the shirt on my dress form and just pinned. The darts ended up starting about 3" higher, but ended at about the same place. The widest point of the dart was about 2" higher.  I also took in the CB seam above the waist.

There's still a little ease there, but the fabric is non-stretch so I figured I'd leave a little wearing ease.

Machines / settings used: 
Singer Featherweight for construction - 10 stitches per inch for construction and topstitching.
Singer buttonholer for the buttonholes, 5/8" template, width '2', I went around each two times to get a nice dense buttonhole.

Brother 1034D serger to finish seams.
Differential Feed: 1.0
Stitch Length: 4
Stitch Width: 6.5
Tensions:  Left Needle: 4, Right Needle: 4, Upper Looper: 4.1, Lower Looper: 4.1

But wait!. There's a ....  Bonus Garment!

A jumper from the left overs of my dress! It's made from the Sew-U Home Stretch raglan size M, but I had to slim down the sleeves and body quite a bit. It's possibly even smaller than a small now - the flowery fabric is very stretchy.

I think that's the last thing I can make with this fabric, it's not exactly a solid, I'm sure people would start to notice, so the rest is all yours Aleah!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Pattern Notebook: Burda 12/2014 - 121

I have a habit of liking my in-progress projects better than the finished product.  I think it's got some amount to do with the fact that an in-progress item still has the potential to be the best possible version of the thing I have in my head. When it's done, it's potential is frozen, it is what it is, with all of the little flaws that come with a home made garment made by a non-factory.

The best example is this wool dress, which I have worn a few times, but is just a bit too much like a bathrobe in it's current form. I never did get it to look as nice as before I finished the front edges and it was just safety pinned closed.  I think it would be less bathrobe-y if it was sleeveless or shorter or both. (I just realized that I used to host the pics of that dress on flickr, which I don't use anymore. I should restore them sometime.)

So I tried to learn my lesson on this project which has quite a few similarities, it's a close fitting dress with great texture, but a potentially overwhelming pattern.  I thought I would prevent it from looking too overwhelming by keeping the hemline short. That seems to be a thing at the moment, my sort-of inspiration was this dress.  But when I tried it on mid-construction, I decided I liked what I saw and called it done right then.  No sleeves, no elasticated gathering on the side, and I left the cowl hang loose, it's supposed to be tacked down so you can't see the wrong side of the fabric. I actually like the pop of black, so I'm leaving it.

So here are my notes, of this semi abandoned pattern:

Pattern Notebook

Burdastyle 12/2014 #121

View / Size used: I cut a straight 38.  I'm actually a 38 on top and a 40 by my hips.  It did fit at 38, but I ended up giving myself a little extra room below the waist at the side seams when I sewed it up.  This pattern does have negative ease, so I just had to judge it based on the stretchiness of the fabric.

Fabric Used: Some kind of poly knit from the Michael Levine Loft. I really don't know what to call it, it's two layers of fabric woven together like it's pre-quilted, but in a floral pattern.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
I did sew the side seams with about 1/2" extra at the hips. As I said above, I didn't sew in the elastic to the left seam, left off the sleeves, didn't tack down the neck piece.

Even though I had intended to keep the hem short, but after seeing Dawn's version and how short it is, I wanted to build in some insurance.  I added 5" instead of the recommended 1 5/8" for the hem, and ended up taking a 1" hem, effectively adding 3 5/8" to the pattern!

Because I didn't tack the neck down or have sleeves, I finished the neck opening by just serging and turning, and the same for the armholes, except I added a light 1/4" elastic in the armhole to try to prevent it from stretching out.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, but if I were putting in the sleeves, I wouldn't have used Burda's construction order.  I think it would be easier to do it this way: Sew the neck side seams, sew the sleeve in flat, sew up the side seams.  I have no idea why they tell you to set in the sleeve.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It's actually just a nicely shaped tube for the body, and a tube for the neck at an angle to the body tube. I might actually like it better if the neck tube went straight up from the body,  and the shoulders were symmetrical - one of the shoulders is a slight integrated cap sleeve by itself.  I usually leave the cap side scrunched up so it looks like the other side. I might at some point de-weird this pattern like I did with the drape t-shirt. If I did I would use the cap-less side, and just cut it on the fold.

FYI to people using the sleeves, they are very slim.  I like it, but if your fabric isn't super stretchy you might want to be careful.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
I do have the same problem with this dress that I have with all cowl necks, every time I see myself in it, I want to fix the cowl some other way. It never seems to fall just right. Still, I do like the dress, I love the fabric, and I think it was a good use of it.  I have loads left, and some of it will likely become a raglan jumper.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I would! I think it would be nice in a wool jersey, if I put a lining in it. And yes, I would recommend it.

Construction notes: 

Machines / settings used: 
Janome 7318 for basting and hemming.  I used a 4 mm zig zag for both purposes.  No fancy hemming business because you really can't see it on this busy fabric.

I turned the needle tensions up a little since they were construction seams, and I didn't want too much of the black thread to show through.  I also made the stitch length shorter on the neck than I usually would to cover up the right side of the fabric from showing through too much.  The width was set to the max, and actually completely encased the 1/4" elastic that I used on the armhole.

Brother 1034D serger for construction seams.
Differential Feed: 2
Stitch Length: 2 in the neck part, 3.5 otherwise.
Stitch Width: 7
Tensions:  Left Needle: 4.2, Right Needle: 4.2, Upper Looper: 4.2, Lower Looper: 4.2

Monday, January 12, 2015

Pattern Notebook: Burda 6840

I worked with someone a few years ago that had many, many silk shirts that were gathered around the collar.  They really caught my eye, and I've been looking for a pattern to replicate them ever since. The effect was something like the picture below.

I bought McCalls 6702 and Butterick 5611 trying to replicate the idea but they have gathers in a yoke, not the collar.  I made up B5611 in the smallest size in the envelope (size 10), which is a full 4 sizes below my measurements indicate, but it turned out completely gigantic!

I took these pictures last March.  I intended to shorten it and take it in at the sides before blogging and giving it a final verdict.  I never did, so it's gone unblogged.  Of ourse I've been wearing it anyway.  Don't we often say as sewers that we're so lucky because we can get our clothes to fit? Ya, most of the time that doesn't apply to me.

Over the holidays Joann had one of it's rare sales on Burda (and Simplicity) envelope patterns, so I went rummaging in the drawers to see if I could see anything close.  I ended up buying Burda 6839, 6840 and Simplicity 1279.  Actually Burda 6839 is closer to the inspiration, but it just looks so weird in that stiff shirting fabric, I couldn't bring myself to make it up.

So back to yoke gathers I went, and made up a test version of Burda 6840.

I've only just now noticed that Vogue 1412 is closer than any of the ones I have already, and I have a few candidates in a Patrones magazine.  I may keep trying to get this right!

Shirts with no sleeves are surprisingly fast to make! This shirt has the added benefit of getting the button holes out of the way at the beginning of the process. Now that I think about it, that was probably why this shirt got done in basically one sitting, usually button up shirts spend about 10 days on the back of my chair waiting for me to get the buttonholer out.  I kinda-sorta should get the buttonholer back out to do the final button hole in the collar, but we all know that is never going to happen.

Pattern Notebook

Burda 6840

View / Size used: View A, size 10 for the neckline and shoulders to the bottom of the armscye, 12 for body. That's 36/38 in euro sizes.  I normally use 38 in burda, but I compared the finished bust measurement to my far-too-big butterick and there seemed to be pretty generous ease in the bust.  Normally that's a good thing, but I didn't want that area to be too bulky in the stiffer fabric I was using.  I'm considering using a 38/40 combo if I make this up in flowy silk.  For reference the finished bust measurement of the Size 10 butterick shirt was 45.5", in this shirt it was 42.5".

Fabric / Notions Used: A fairly light cotton shirting with no stretch.  It's got a nice sheen to it, but no drape.  I can't remember where it's from. I thought it would be fun to use some contrast pink buttons under that covered placket. I got them from Nhi's giant bag 'o buttons (seen in this post - how many of those have you used Nhi??).

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
Apart from grading between sizes, not much.  I did turn my back pleat the other way out. Is this a men/women thing? Like the way the fly opens one way or the other? A quick survey of J Crew and Banana Republic tells me most women's shirts don't have any pleat, but the ones that do, have the pleat the way I've sewn it.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, I've found Burda envelope patterns fine for the most part. I liked that they had you apply the bias binding while the side seam is open, it makes for less stress trying to get it just the right length.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like the design. It's not the one that I was looking for, but it's very nice all the same.

I don't know if there's a drafting error, but my collar seemed to be too long when I pinned it, but then not as bad when I actually sewed it, so I had to rip and re-sew a few times. In the end I took a little off one end of the collar stand, so their not actually symmetrical. I'll never close it up so it will never matter that much.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
I like it more than I thought I would in the shirting. I like the length and the fit in the front.  The back is far too big,  I could easily eliminate the pleat, and actually take some darts back there.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I'm not sure if I'll bother with the silk version, but I would recommend it.  Watch out for the collar length.  If you sew it on using Andrea's method, you can adjust as necessary on the fly.

Construction notes: 
The concealed placket was so easy, I might do it that way in future - not only do you do the buttonholes first, but if they're wonky, no one will see!  Not much else to say on construction except to record my settings.

Machines / settings used: 
Featherweight, 10 stitches per inch for construction, 7 stitches per inch for topstitching.
Rolled hem using roll hem foot, had to adjust tension for this foot, not sure why, longer topstitch worked better.

Singer buttonholer on featherweight for buttons, 1/2" template, W: 4

Brother 1034D serger to finish side seam, the only seam needing finishing.
Differential Feed: 1.5
Stitch Length: 5
Stitch Width: 5.7
Tensions:  Left Needle: 4, Right Needle: 4.2, Upper Looper: 4, Lower Looper: 4

I tried to get modeled pictures when I took the pictures of my jeans, but this is the only one in focus!  Oh well, hopefully you get a sense of the shirt from the dress form.

See you guys soon!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tested: Fehrtrade Surf to Summit top

Winter has arrived in California! It's actually chilly right now, so it's a good thing I have this long sleeved top, I don't have any excuses to avoid getting out for a run.  I'm considering an actual organized race in April, it would only be my second, and the last was a bit of a last minute thing. It would be my first time attempting to train for any particular goal in mind - anyone have any advice? 

This is the Fehrtrade Surf to Summit top. I was a pattern tester for this pattern, but the version above is cut from the final pattern. I didn't intend for the test version to be worn out of the house, and did some very half assed work; no seam finishes, zig-zagged hem, but then I wore it for the whole weekend so I knew I had to make it up again.

As you can see, I made the mitts in the test version, just to test them. they work great!

Pattern Notebook

Fehr Trade Surf to Summit #106

View / Size used: Long sleeve / half zip (with mitts in the test version)

Fabric / Notions Used: 
Test version: Poly/lycra from the FIDM scholarship store
White/Lemon version: 'Activewear' 90% polyester / 10% lycra from Fabric Mart. 

This was my first ever order of fabric online! I've bought bra kits and notions online, but that was it until now. It can be pretty hard to find high-quality activewear fabric online or otherwise, but it feels like a total crapshoot to order online. I have to admit, I was sucked in by the fact that it was listed as a fabric used by New Balance, well that and the face that it was on super sale for $4 per yard.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
For my 'real' version, I wanted to add in some reflective piping. I considered using the shoulder seams, but since the reflective tape is non-stretch I was worried about how it would affect the fit.  I also thought about using back princess seams, but in the end decided to add a new seam across the back, so I would be the most visible in the dark.

Using the test version as a guide, I made a curved line a couple of inches below the arm/princess seam.  Most RTW reflective piping seems to be in a curved line. It might be partially for aesthetics, but I think it also build in a little 'give' in the seam.

My reflective piping was made from ripping the tape off a safety vest from IKEA. I got the largest size they had, and probably harvested about 3 yards of tape. I still have the icky fabric too, maybe I can use it on something if it's underlined with something nicer.

In order to avoid the piping being too scratchy, I trimmed the piping so it didn't reach all the way to the edge of the seam allowance.

And then, I didn't trim the seam allowance down at all with the serger so the piping was totally enclosed in the seam. It worked - no scratchiness at all!

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I found the instructions great. I actually didn't look at them the second go around, and I wish I had. I totally forgot to interface the area under the zip on the 'real' top and my zip pops out a little.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
As per usual with Fehr Trade, it is a quick and satisfying sew. I love raglans, so I'm happy this turned out well.  I think that the style is very adaptable, I thought about taking in the front at the princess seams below the bust, but it's not really that cold, and it will be warmer again soon, so I left it looser for that reason, but it would be easy to do.  

It doesn't affect me at all, but maybe longer distance runners will appreciate that there is no side seam.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
I frankly wasn't sold on the colour combination, but the lovely people of instagram pointed out that the bright colors are good for visibility, and they're absolutely right. Here's a non-flash picture taken right at dusk.

And of course, I'm very pleased with my piping!

The fabric, I haven't made up my mind about.  I don't wash my running gear after every use, it seemed like overkill to me, even before I read this article (thanks Jill) and, well, sorry to tell you, but it does get smelly if you don't wash it. I also wish it was a little beefier.  But still, it's very soft and shows no sign of pilling so I'm calling online shopping a tentative win.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I'm sure I will, and yes, most certainly!

See you later guys!