Sunday, September 13, 2020

Fabric stash find for my annual birthday dress

One thing we probably all have learned during this extended stay-at-home time is the value of a good stockpile of fabric. I have the usual stash of notions, fabrics and other sewing supplies. I tend to buy fabric at stores such as Stone Mountain that I'm going to sew up right away. When I find fabric at garage sales, swaps, sewing guild fabric destash events, or even fabric that is given to me, that goes in the fabric storage closet for just the right project to come along. 

However this fabric is something that I bought around seven years ago? maybe longer. I was on a cotton sateen kick then and Fashion Fabrics Club had a lot of nice printed sateens so I ordered quite a few one year. Slowly I've been using them up and this seemed like a good match for a pattern I've also had for a while.

Burdaeasy dress11

This is a pattern I bought ages ago on the BurdaStyle website, and I knew that I printed out the PDF but I couldn't find it. I searched all through my desk and closets, combed through my computer and yet it was still missing. One day earlier this summer I mentioned to my friend Halyna (@zigzagstitching) that I was searching for a Burda sundress pattern and she replied "oh the one that you gave to me?" Aha, that's where it went! I knew I had printed it out. So she gave it back to me and I finally sewed it up for this year's birthday dress.

Yes, my always near Labor Day birthday has come and gone, and no tropical beach vacation this year so I will have to make up for that in the future. To be quite honest - 6 months of this stay-at-home, life isn't back to normal is taking a toll on my mood, and the stress of approaching winter, the election on the horizon, and the gloom and sadness of all the west coast fires are combining to make everyone even more on edge than before. It almost feels like a year without summer - we had the heat and sunshine but not much of the usual fun of travel, seeing friends and family, going to barbecues and just enjoying things. Fellow Americans - get your act together!! so we can go back to normal(ish) life. 

Back to sewing details. Here is the pattern which I think is no longer available on the website. 

Burda Easy sundress

I did change the straps, and also added a belt. Otherwise it is just like the pattern. I think they also had a version with cap sleeves which would be nice. 

Burda easy sateen dress on form

Who doesn't like a dress with nice big pockets that are part of the design? Kind of irresistible.
Note that I took some of these photos with my iPhone and others with my digital camera, it's interesting to see how different the color comes out. I think the camera ones actually have better color and the iPhone does too much auto-correcting which I suppose I could adjust but will probably ignore. 

BurdaEasy sundress1

Burda easy side and back

These pockets are ideal, they remind me of those on my favorite Butterick 5455 pattern, a dress I've made so many times, (here and here). And now you can see the interesting detail on the back bodice, which is a section of shirring that is intended to give a nice snug fit. It worked OK on this, I think because cotton sateen is quite a thick fabric the shirring with elastic thread didn't draw up the fabric as much as it would do on a thinner fabric. 

Burda easy dress7

Burda easy dress back elastic

There's a good look at the back shirring, that center back piece is a separate one, that you sew with the elastic thread and then attach to the side back pieces. The front and then the side backs have a facing. The shirring section is turned under and stitched to finish the top edge. 
I thought it needed a bit more tightening in that section so I stretched and stitched on a piece of quarter inch elastic which did the trick. I am all about the quick no one will ever see them fixes on my summer dresses. 

Burda easy dress inside back elastic

Burda easy dress6

One of my favorite things to make with certain dresses is a belt from the same fabric. My sister found that nice pearly white belt buckle so I had that in my box of notions as well. Save those belt buckles - they can be very handy. Sometimes I buy a belt at the thrift store for a couple of bucks just for the hardware. The proportion seemed to call for it so I made this belt a bit wider than the buckle and just pleated it where it attached to the buckle. I think this is one of the fun things about making your own clothes, these little details that you get to decide, where to stitch, how big a hem, pleats or ruffles, a pattern hack here or there. It's the customization that makes sewing really fun to me. 

Burda easy dress belt closeup

The buttons are not a perfect match but they were also in my button box, and I feel very virtuous and thrifty when I use vintage buttons I have instead of making a special trip to buy some buttons. My sewing machine has the setting to make those little eyelet holes and it's very fun to do. I always make a few test ones just to make sure I like them. The key to a nice belt is plenty of interfacing. I also make at least one loop for the end of the belt to go into. Sometimes on a very fancy dress I will put a snap underneath the end of the belt so it stays exactly in place. 

Burda easy dress 13

So that's the latest on my not quite last summer dress. I have one more that I just finished which is a winner but will also be put away until next year. 😞

I hope everyone is staying well and coping with this stressful summer - my fellow west coasters - let's pray for rain and an end to these terrible fires. Little danger here near me but the air is incredibly bad over all of N. California and Oregon going on for a week now. Wednesday was the weird day when we actually had to use lamps at noon and the sky was a dark and eerie orange all day. What else? NO don't answer that.......

Last week was my first session of our Hello Stitch Sewing club class, it was really fun to get back to teaching some classes. Not sure what we will do in October, maybe a button front shirt or cozy stay at home separates - haven't decided yet. In any case we plan to do a different garment every month so I hope you can join in. Hello Stitch Studio , you can get their newsletter or follow in IG for updates. 

Burda easy dress8

The state of my garden is dry and fading. I hope to get out there and do some cleaning up if our air improves. By the way - I think this is my 5th quarantine haircut, self-administered. I think I will make it for the duration! 

See you soon, stay well and happy sewing,

Today's garden photo - a beautiful hydrangea from June. 


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Resort wear dreams: Jumpsuit from the cover of Burda June 2020 #101

Once in a while the new issue of Burda arrives and immediately I want to make the item pictured on the cover. However I rarely do it, as other things start to catch my eye. This time I traced out the pattern and to test I sewed it up in a quilting cotton. Not the ideal material but something I had in my stash. That accomplished I actually ordered some woven rayon to use for the real jumpsuit. Despite a lot of fabric in my stash there was nothing suitable so I ordered from Fabric Mart and the print with the vertical striping was ideal.

Blue jumpsuit 3

As patterns go this is really easy to sew up. I wanted to check if the pants fit would be right so I compared the pieces to my Emerson pants which have a similar loose fit. The length of the rise was very similar so I didn't have to do a lot of adjustment for this pattern, I made the bodice portion in size 38 and the bottom half in size 42 - blending at the waist so they joined up.

Jumpsuit Burda Magazine pattern image

Here's the pattern photo and the line drawing. The pattern is June 2020 #101. Their version is ankle length but I think that looks terrible on me so I lengthened a lot.

jumpsuit front on form

jumpsuit front tie

This pattern is designed for the knot to be loosely tied, so that the sides can fold and drape over the hips. I've seen some versions where the knot is tied very tightly and to me that looks a bit strained. I think also if you are quite tall then the bodice may need to be lengthened so that the drape can cover the front elastic waist.   Can you see that I had to piece the fabric on one side? The two fronts are cut with the tie as part of the bodice, and with lengthening the pants I was a bit short on fabric. So I pieced the end of the tie with a french seam there and I think it hides well enough.

There's a look at the front waist and how the bodice folds under at the side seam to create the tie and draping. I think this is such a clever and yet simple design, I will definitely make it again next summer and perhaps even a dress version.

jumpsuit inside waist tie


Not quite resort location, more like the backyard swimming pool at my parents house. Which I really appreciate this summer and especially this week - as I write today the afternoon temperature is around 110℉ which seems par for the course for this very weird summer. Not that we don't occasionally have heat waves but the staying mostly home has made for a very hot and boring summer here in N. California without a lot of the options we might typically have (like going to the movies or a nice chilly restaurant). Growing up with a pool I started swimming very early but the idea of swimming for exercise has eluded me. Not this year - with the gym closed and the smokey air making walking unpleasant I feel fortunate to have this alternative.

Returning to sewing, here's the back view. The back top blouses at the waist, perhaps more than in the pattern pictures as I am shorter, but for a jumpsuit it makes it quite comfortable when you sit down!

jumpsuit back


One other change I made on this pattern is to reshape the neckline front and back. When I made the test version I thought the tank top was a bit chunky - not very elegant looking and it needed some reshaping. To find a nice neckline I looked through my photos and realized that using this dress pattern would be a good way to reshape the neckline. Also I have to restrain myself from wearing that dress for any and all occasions that require a summer dress - I think it is my favorite of the last few years.

jumpsuit side view on form

And what about getting in and out of this number for a bathroom break? Well one benefit of widening the neckline is that I can pull it up or down over my hips and shoulders without unfastening the back. Although be warned untying the knot in front is necessary.

jumpsuit snap back closure

The back has a short slit opening to make it possible to get in and out, although as I mentioned with my neckline change I can just about do it without undoing that snap. As seen in my other posts, I don't like those loop/button things so I always make a little tab and sew on a snap, I think it stays flatter and then the closure is hidden. 

Here's my tip of the day:  another little thing I like to add to anything that has shoulder straps or sometimes in a tank top shape such as this are the little straps that hold the top of the shoulder in place on your bra strap. I just make them out of the fabric if it's thin or I use a piece of ribbon. My realization one day is that to make it easier, I first sew the snap on the garment, then sew the snap on the end of the strap, then snap together and then lastly sew the end of the strap down on the garment. This way you can make the strap part the right length. This makes it SO much easier than sewing the strap on and then having to place the snaps. 

jumpsuit shoulder snaps


So that's the latest on my summer jumpsuit. They also show it in the magazine as a romper which I am tempted but I think it's too late in the season for that. Maybe next spring. 

Next week is the first session of our Hello Stitch Sewing Club (which is a  virtual class in the evening.) We've had lots of sign-ups which is great and I'm glad the studio is able to stay in business during this crazy time, at least in some capacity. And crossing our fingers that things turn around soon so we can all get back to our regular lives. And travel to a resort somewhere :) Meanwhile I will make do with the backyard resort and hope that the temperature is a bit less tomorrow. Forecast is for only 108℉ tomorrow - whew a whole degree cooler! (I jest because what else can we do except pray that the power doesn't get turned off due to fire danger). Oh this is absolutely the best summer ever, she says sarcastically.....

wishing everyone better days to come,

Happy Sewing,  Beth

Today's garden photo - some blue violas from earlier in the summer when things were still very green.
I used to plant pansies but decided I like violas better, they seem to do better and rebloom plus each plant has more flowers. Also they reseed and I find them popping up in random spots which makes me smile. 


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Back to School: Cielo top and dress for my new class

Why am I standing there in my garden, holding something cool and fizzy, wearing my latest sewing which is the Cielo Dress from Closet Core Patterns?

Now that summer is coming to an end we are starting a new season of virtual classes, The Hello Stitch Sewing Club. We hope to do something a little bit different with this, so this class will be part formal instruction and part social sewing time. Here's the link to register.

Cielo dress with cocktail

We plan to do a different pattern each month and I chose this pattern for our first one because it has a lot of options for making a dress or a top and looks good in a lot of different fabrics.

Here's the info from the Hello Stitch website class page: 

We're kicking off the club by doing a Cielo Sew Along! For the month of September, we will meet each Tuesday as I introduce new topic or skill that will be related to the project. Choose to meet for "Happy Hour" between 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm, or join us for us "After Dinner" from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Then meet up again on Thursdays from 6-8pm for Social Sewing. For those who need a little more help with their machines, we'll also hold Office Hours to help troubleshoot any issues that may arise.  All these times are Pacific Standard Time - so if you are another part of the country perhaps you can join in! 

Cielo class image

Hello Stitch has also put together a complete kit you can order with pattern and choice of fabric, plus thread and interfacing. Fabrics are pictured above. If you already have the pattern then you are all set or you can buy the pattern as a PDF immediately from Closet Core or other pattern shops.

The lockdown and restrictions to opening have been really tough on the studio, and so many small businesses in the bay area. I really want them to survive and they are getting by for now. They do longarm quilting and have other aspects of their business that continue but not holding in person classes is a real challenge. So I hope you continue to support small sewing businesses in this difficult time if you can. I know everyone is dealing with challenges - doing school at home for children sounds exhausting to me :)

As is my habit lately - this is more lockdown sewing so I rummaged in my stash and found this cotton pique fabric.  I opted not to put the bands on the sleeves, as it's a slightly thick fabric and with the temp around 105℉ on the day I was sewing I felt it didn't need any more fabric! I put some darts in the center back - more just to see how it looks and I like it. So another option for this pattern which I will talk about in the class.

Blue Cielo dress front and back

Cielo dress 4

I was actually going to make it sleeveless however since it is designed for sleeves the armholes were too low. I will also go over how to make that adjustment so it can be sleeveless or have a cute ruffle sleeve. I think I like it belted on me but I made this a bit big in the hip and hem width, I will probably go back and take it in (when the weather cools off!)

So are you getting interested in some social sewing?  I hope so as I really miss teaching classes at Hello Stitch and getting to know so many new stitchers. Here in the bay area we are heading into the 6th month of social distancing which means very few in-person interactions that are not absolutely necessary. I've spent this time mostly with my family and seeing some friends in very careful outdoor sessions but now that summer is coming to a close I think life might be a bit dreary. But we can sew socially and make some new connections along the way.

Once I had the pattern out I decided to make the top version, this time in a cotton voile from my stash.  This one is all about the sleeves and I have some ideas on how to do a little pattern hacking here as well, if you wanted to add button cuffs or even reduce some of the fullness.

Cielo top with jeans1

This pattern has two options for neckline finishing, either an interfaced facing or bias binding. Both have some pros and cons so in the class I will go over my tips for neat neckline finishes.

Cielo top on form

This piece of fabric sat neglected in my stack for ages and now that I've sewn it up I think it will be quite versatile in my wardrobe and go with other things I have like this wool blazer.
OK - now that I've mentioned blazers what might you be interested in for subsequent classes in our Hello Stitch Sewing Club? I haven't decided on the October item but I think we will be leaning towards cozy stay-at-home separates. But maybe after that we could do a jacket class? I was supposed to travel to the east coast to do my jacket class this Oct. 2020 but that is sadly postponed to who knows when. In the meantime we have to be creative and stay connected as we can.
In any case I would love to hear what you might be interested in doing in a virtual class. We are also open to doing a weekend class as well which might work better if you are in a different time zone.
Lots of options.

So that's the scoop on our upcoming Hello Stitch Sewing Club class. Here's the link to register or see more information. 

Just to review, it's starting Tues. Sept 8, option of either 5-6pm or 7-8pm and then Thursdays Sewcial Sewing 6-8pm when we will catch up on your progress, answer any questions, discuss anything you are working on and just stay in touch over a topic that brings us all together. (no need to participate in the whole time on Thursdays - you can drop in for some quick answers or stay the whole time as we sew together).  Class will be held on Zoom.

Blue Cielo dress without belt

I hope to see you (virtually) in September!  let me know if you have any questions about this class or ideas for our upcoming sessions.

Happy Sewing, and stay well,

Today's garden picture is the humble geranium. Except I don't think they are so humble - I think they are gorgeous. In fact I've turned into geranium collector. They are such hardy plants and ridiculously easy to propagate. The plant that keeps on giving! I've started to buy some of the more exotic ones, bicolors and with interesting foliage. They are a great plant for our hot and dry weather - when the rain comes they always seem to spring back up. Plus they remind me of Italian travels and the lovely window boxes of bright geraniums everywhere. Tornerò lì un giorno! Speriamo di sì.


Saturday, August 22, 2020

FibreMood magazine review with a couple of tops from Issue 10

This is the summer of trying new things in regard to sewing. Plus more indulgence of my new sewing obsession, pattern magazines. Now that I am a loyal Burda subscriber and stitcher, I expanded my outlook to try Patrones, a Spanish language one. Around the same time I kept seeing people sewing from FibreMood, which is a Belgium based magazine, fairly recently established and growing in popularity. I boldly asked if one of my European readers would send me a copy and 2 lovely people did so (again thank you to Sabine and Jacqueline 😘) thus I now have a choice of several FibreMood magazine issues to play with.

The question might arise if I'm interested in any other sewing magazines which are available. I'm aware of a few. La Mia Boutique is an Italian sewing magazine and you would think I would be interested in that as a student of Italian, however I have had a couple of issues and the styles have not interested me at all. The other one I know about is Ottobre, which comes from Finland (available in English) Their designs also seem to lean toward very basic, and probably a good wardrobe builder but not really of interest to me.

FibreMood magazine cover

Back to FibreMood. The magazine itself is gorgeous, the layout is so well done and the photography is beautiful.

I will come out with my conclusion right now and say that I probably won't sew very many things from the magazine, as most of the styles are quite simple or not not shapes that I want to wear. But I definitely wanted to try something from the issue and the top on the cover attracted me due to the very cute detail in the back.

This is peak stay-at-home sewing, rummaging through my fabrics, finding something suitable and sewing it up with not much thought about wearability.  Below I'll show you some details of the magazine using this pattern as an example, and then show you some more general info on FibreMood.


If I were trying to make something completely wearable, I would have changed the neckline slightly (too high for my comfort) and I don't think that front ruffle suits me. It seems a bit too childish for my liking but it was fun to try it out and I wanted to sew it exactly as the pattern was designed.

Here's the garment in the magazine, showing the front and back. The gingham does suit the pattern although it really puts in the prairie-dress category for me.


This was a good pattern to start with, as I could see how their pattern pieces worked, the tracing, cutting instructions  - the whole works. Also the sizing. I chose by my bust size, and I think I sewed a 38 in their sizing for the first magazine I had which was the Dutch edition. I also received a UK edition so that was in English, however I didn't really have any trouble using the Dutch edition as their instructions are in pictograph form (very similar to some Japanese sewing books) and it's not really all that necessary to read the words.

Note that they have all the instructions for their patterns available as FREE downloads on the website, in all the languages and measurements (inches and centimeters). You just have to register on their site but then you can really investigate a pattern more thoroughly or get the instructions in the language you need. So I did look at the US instructions  - just to make sure I was on the right track for size. Note that the size numbers differ a lot, so the size I made for 36" bust (93cm) is a UK 12 or a US 8 or a Spanish 40 or a Dutch 38.  Don't quote me on that but you get the idea. It's a good idea to stick with the measurements and go from there, ignoring the size number. Although you do need that size number for your pattern tracing. For every pattern they do give the finished garment measurements which is great.

Fibremood Lola tech drawing

I have to say from a graphic design point of view this magazine is far superior to Burda, they probably have fewer patterns in an issue, and the patterns are not as complicated, but they layout and instructions are so good. The section with the pattern sheets is printed on heavy cardboard, and has color coded illustrations of the pattern sheets, so you can open the sheet that corresponds to the one you are using, and then find the pattern pieces based on the key. For example the top I made, which is called Lola, is in green on the pattern sheets D and E. So they actually show you where the pattern pieces are on the sheet, see my bright pink arrows showing the sheets.

Fibremood tracing key


The pattern sheets are 33" x 23" so a very manageable size to put on your table and trace from. This sheet only has two patterns on it, one in green and one in red so it's fairly simple to locate your pattern pieces and trace.


Here's a closer look, one think that's both a benefit and a drawback is that there are a lot of sizes so it's a bit of careful work to trace your size, but it's nice that every pattern comes in the full range of sizes.  You can see that the markings are fairly minimal - a few notches and then the grain line (straight arrows) and items on fold line (arrows with half circle).  I found the markings were sufficient and this pattern had a lot of small pattern pieces but it sewed up perfectly.  The pattern sheets are on sturdy and opaque paper which makes tracing easy.


Here's the instruction sheet in the magazine, they include all the necessary information in a very neat and compact way. I have a difficult time judging the instructions as they seem just fine to me (a person who really doesn't look at the construction info for most any pattern) but I think they were clean and include a lot more help than the Burda stream of words which you have to puzzle through.


This top is all about the back, and I think I will play around with the pattern, probably change the front neckline and remove the ruffle, but keep that back opening which is really cute.  I love things that have surprise backs, like this dress that I made last summer for my vacation in Hawaii. (Sob, miss you beautiful Kailua).

Firbremood gingham top back view on form

Fibremood gingham top close up front

Here's a look at magazine layout - they give quite a lot of space to each pattern and the photos are lovely. Following the current trend the patterns have names not numbers. If they take up a page layout to show just the back of the pattern then it reappears in a more informational photo on another page layout. After all - we need to see the front and back of a garment, right?

Fibremood blue dress photo

Fibremood jumpsuit photo

I think their tech drawings are good as well, they show all the details and are not overly artistic or exaggerated.


That's a cute sundress and if summer weren't drawing to a close, and I hadn't just made something very similar I would be tempted to sew that one up. Note for next year :)

I decided to try another pattern from the issue, Ida, something very simple just to get more impressions of the pattern sheets, instructions etc.  This top is not really something I would likely sew or wear but it looked interesting and didn't take up too much fabric. I think if you made it in a really lovely voile or even the interesting textured fabric like they have it would work.


Fibremood front back stripe

I used some lightweight seersucker that was in my stash, perhaps a bit too much body for this style and I would never wear this - will probably cut it up to make masks. However the fit and sizing was fine. I think it's asking a lot of a pattern design to fit and look good front and back when there is no shaping.   See the image below, neckline edge also sticks up above her shoulders and doesn't really fit or land right. I think that in an inherent problem with this type of top.  Anyway - I just wanted to try out another pattern from the issue.

Fibremood Ida photo

A couple of other notable features of FibreMood is that you can purchase any individual pattern on their website, in a variety of languages. But I think they have buried the most fantastic feature, which is the 2nd bullet point in the text below. You can print a single size - with or without seam allowances AND on A4 or A) paper. I would just choose the size that fits your upper body and then print out and adjust as needed. Many of their styles are quite loose and I think the fit adjustments might be minimal.


They also have a very robust online community - plenty of help and also uploads of finished garments  uploaded by people who have sewn the patterns. A lot like the previous BurdaStyle website although actually a bit better perhaps. They also have sew-alongs and video for lots of the patterns.

On the whole if I were a beginning - intermediate level sewer I think it would be a great place to find info and inspiration. For me the patterns are not all that interesting although there are a few that are really appealing. Which is pretty much what you can say about any pattern company - not all are going to be my cup of tea but definitely some to try. (Cup of tea - why do I use that phrase?  because it's a good shorthand way to express the idea, despite the fact that I can't stand tea - coffee forever!!)

So that's the latest on my foray into FibreMood. I hope some of you give it a try and let me know what you think. Their website is really well done and easy to navigate, and the patterns are quite reasonable. ($ 8.49 US).

Thanks again to Sabine and Jaqueline and to everyone who reads and comments. I've found the conversations in the sewing world such a good escape from the current news. It makes me happy to connect with so many lovely people all over the world who are interested in this wonderful craft and hobby.

By the way - I have a fun online sewing class coming up in September, I will add the link here but will give more details next week.

Up next, my BurdaStyle jumpsuit, and today I picked up a big stack of fabrics that a friend decided to destash to me. Mostly winter wools and blouse weights in gorgeous blues and purples, but I won't be touching any of it until our weather cools down.
Sadly our fire season has struck even earlier in the year for 2020 - what else can this year bring? OK don't answer that - we are about at our limit with covid plus extreme fire danger. The smoke is lingering all over N. California and while I'm not in any current danger zone (as much as a Californian can be safe) the smoke is unbelievable and we are hoping that we don't have more lightening strikes or high winds.


Take care everyone, stay clear of whatever mother nature is throwing our way.

Happy Sewing,

today's garden photo, a cheerful dahlia that I rescued from it's previous spot in the front yard. The dahlia next to it had disappeared down a gopher hole, so I dug this one up and put it in a large pot. Finally it's putting out some cheerful blooms.