Monday, December 17, 2018

Vogue 8784 wrap dress in silk crepe

Very happy to have this one "wrapped" up. Yes, all the cliches for discussing wrap dresses, I should just get them over with now. How about "it's a wrap" and I did feel that sense of relief when it was completed. A wrap dress with these details involves some fitting adjustments for any figure and I did make more than one test version along the way. However now that it's finished I am really happy with it and hope to make a short sleeved version when spring arrives. The pattern is Vogue 8784.  Pattern envelope photo below and also a link to a previous blog post with all the details on the fitting adjustments for this pattern.

silk dress on H front view 1

Sophisticated is the word that I think of for this dress, the color and print are not something I would have selected but now that I see it sewn up I think it's very sharp - and gives off a the look of "business executive with a feminine twist" which suits Heather perfectly.

Silk dress side view on form

Here's the pattern envelope. I made the View B although I did make a few changes. Firstly to make it a regular long sleeve.


I did 2 muslins on this dress, as it was a bit tricky to fit because it doesn't have regular bust darts but the bust fullness is incorporated into the release pleats at the waist. As with a lot of other wrap dresses, I added a horizontal bust dart to allow for more fullness and length over the bust of the wrap part. You can't see it in the silk version but here in the muslin it's visible.

This image is from my previous blog post - here's the link -  which has lots of information on fitting this pattern, and photos of the various muslin variations and changes along the way.

wrap muslin 2nd version 1

My biggest lightbulb moment when working on the muslin version was to realize that the skirt part that wraps under doesn't need to be pleated - in fact it's better if it is flat. Less bulk and a smoother layer under the wrap part.

Silk dress front view2 on form

Another change is that the ties don't really wrap, there is no opening in the side for the tie to go through. The pattern had it but I removed it as Heather prefers a tie that is secured on one side seam and doesn't move around. Wrap dresses where the tie threads through the opening in the side seam and then the ties wrap around and tie can be difficult to wear in that the closure is dependent on the waist tie. In this version, the tie belt is stitched to the side seam on the right side so it never moves.

In place of the tie that threads through the opening, I added a short connector, which is sewn to the side seam and then attaches to the right dress front via a skirt hook. I covered some 3/4" elastic with the silk, and the elastic allows it to be snug but also comfortable.

silk dress hook closure

silk dress inside hook closure

The other side has a skirt hook as well, so this dress is wrapped and in place and the sash tie is mostly for looks.

The pattern calls for a full lining and I like the order of construction which gives a very neat waist seam plus the lining is very secure, as it is stitched to the waist. This keeps the skirt lining from ever peeking out under the hem.

Silk dress pleats thread trace

Close up of this lovely silk fabric. We bought this at Piedmont Fabrics in Oakland maybe 2 years ago? Just waiting for the right pattern and I think this one was the perfect match for it. I lined it with navy blue bemberg rayon lining. I tried the lighter colors like ivory and beige but to me the navy blue looked best. Especially in the skirt of a wrap dress, which can tend to flip open. A peek of beige lining looked too neutral and underwear-ish to me (realize that's not a word but you get the idea.)
Whereas the navy blue lining looks intentional and complimentary.

silk dress on H back view    Silk wrap dress back view on form

Silk dress on H front view

I'll say it again, that's a wrap for this pattern - until springtime. Now that I have the fit worked out on the bodice I want to try the full skirt version. Also so many people have written to say that they appreciate seeing what I sew for Heather - I'm glad you like it and I will continue. She picks fantastic fabrics and I enjoy the pattern puzzle of fitting new patterns for her.

In other sewing news, I'm done for the year on classes at Hello Stitch - what a great year it has been and we have all kinds of new classes on the schedule starting in January, like jeans,  a quilted jacket, and repeating our very popular Lander pants and Wiksten kimono jacket classes. Plus some sewing series classes which will include pattern fitting and dressmaking. Hope to see you there!

Up next, I'm just finishing a red silk blouse for myself that may go into rotation for festive holiday wear. Along with my red plaid dress shown in my previous post - Thanks so much for all the nice words here and on Instagram. I do like the color red.

Happy it's almost Christmas sewing, 

Today's garden photo, a  rose from back in early October. It's almost time to give all my roses their big pruning, maybe in about 3 weeks. This variety is St. Patrick.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Let's be jolly - Burda 6385 in holiday red plaid

What happens when you make a long sleeved, high neckline, fully lined dress in a woven fabric? You realize how comfortable all your other clothes are. Which led me down the path of thinking about how style affects posture, and wondering if dressing for success does impact how you perform.

Which sound like some serious musings for a red plaid dress I wore to a festive holiday luncheon.

red dress on me 4

I found this fabric at the American Sewing Guild stash sale in October and figured it would work for this Burda pattern which I bought at Joann's when the Burda envelope patterns were on sale for $ 2.49. Adding a couple of yards of lining - of course also discounted - plus a zipper from Wawa and some old braid piping I found in my box of trims means this dress cost about $ 12. No idea what the fabric is, seems like a cotton blend pretending to be a wool. In any case it sewed and pressed well although it frayed like crazy. All edges are serged out of our necessity.


A few things I like about the pattern and then a couple of things I don't. I cut a size 38 which is my standard size in Burda - generally always fits me through the neck and shoulders, which is the important starting point. I added a good extra inch all down the side seams for fitting purposes. I could have graded up at the hip and waist but it's just easier to add the inch and then fit the side seam as needed. Usually I have to take in things at the upper part of the center back but this dress was tight in the shoulders and back. Even the sleeves were a bit constricting in the bicep and that never happens to me. I let out the side at the armhole a good 3/8 on each seam to gain 3/4" on either side, also let out the sleeve that amount which meant going down to a skinny seam on the sleeve but it was worth it for the comfort.

red dress on form close up pocket flap

I also added 3/4" of length to the bodice front and back just above the bust dart. I compared the pattern pieces to a Vogue pattern dress that fits me perfectly and the Burda waist seem appeared too high. It was a good call as it turned out perfectly. Usually I have to shorten the back pattern pieces so another odd thing fit-wise.
On the positive side - the pattern sewed up perfectly and I used the front notch to match the plaid, pretty darn happy with this plaid matching which I feel is almost wasted on a dress I will probably not wear very often. I think Burda sleeves are really nice, fit very well in the armhole across the size range of their patterns, at least that is my experience. This is a fitted sleeve with an elbow dart.

Comparing to the pattern envelope you can see some differences. I was thinking there was an opening in the bodice in the front and real buttonholes but to my surprise there isn't. Instead you are supposed to place the trim to give the look of a jacket and also the buttons. I played around with the trim and the buttons and decided it looked way better without that trim dividing the bodice in an off-center, fake jacket-y way.

For the little pocket flaps I waited until I had cut out and sewn the darts of the front bodice and then tested how they looked cut on grain and on the bias. Bias for the win - of course. Adds a bit of visual interest, and no pattern matching required for 4 flaps!

red plaid dress pocket flaps

Some trim was definitely needed to create the look as on the pattern envelope which was what first attracted me to this pattern. Rummaging in my box of trims I found this black braid piping. Score! No idea where it's from and I had just enough. In fact I would have put it on the sleeve hem but didn't have enough. The plaid fabric is interfaced with lightweight interfacing to stay in shape and then have a lining. I used the zipper foot to sew on the piping first, and then flipped it over and sewed the lining in using the stitch line of the piping. Note that to sew that tight curve I pick up the presser foot and change the angle of the stitching several times just to get around the corner. Make sense?

And done. Also a look at my tailor's tacks which I leave there until I've completed. Once there sewn I don't mind if they fall out, less threads to extract. The reason the pattern envelope keeps appearing in these photos is that I posted a few of these on Instagram previously and wanted to show what the pattern was in progress.

red dress pocket flaps with piping

I brightened this photo up a bit as it was a very gloomy day yesterday, plus drizzling so I'm standing under the patio cover. You can see how fitted the upper bodice is. I'm not saying it's too small, it's actually the style but it caused me to notice that most things I wear these days have a lot more ease or comfort built in. This dress makes me to stand up straight - which is a good thing! In all these photos I'm wearing a gold pin that was my grandmother's. At the holiday luncheon I had been to earlier in the day we were all asked to wear a pin or brooch that had some significance to us. It was so nice to hear the stories and it seemed like everyone was wearing something they had received from a mother or grandmother. Pins are nice and yet I rarely wear them. Mostly because they don't really go with the clothes I wear now. Also this one is gold and diamonds so I'm afraid of pinning it on a coat and then losing it  - that would make me so sad for many reasons. But this day was a great reason to wear it.

red dress on me 2

Red dress on form 1

red dress back view on form

I'm not 100% satisfied with the plaid matching at the center back, it's good at the top, and at the waist and down to the hem but there is a small area in the center back where it shifted just a bit. It also needs a hook and eye at the top of the zipper which I was rushing and haven't yet added. However I can live with it for my $12 dress which I will wear this holiday season, most likely under my black wool coat.  (which I sewed in 2010 and still get a lot of wear for dressy occasions in the winter).

red plaid back view on me

red dress on me 1

Don't look at the garden in the background - a dismal time of year with nothing blooming. Although tulip bulbs are planted so spring is in mind if not in view.

red dress on me 3

So that's the latest on my red plaid dress. Up next on my sewing table is a red print silk blouse (must be the holiday theme with all the red) and maybe something with a piece of velveteen that's been in my stash waiting for the right pattern. Up next on the blog is the silk wrap dress for Heather. And thank you to everyone who commented on my last post about her wool dress.  I agree - she looks fantastic.

Lots of classes on the schedule for January and February at Hello Stitch, here's the link. Another session of the Lander pants, a quilted jacket class, the Ash jeans class and pattern fitting plus garment copying. All the hits plus a few new things :)

Happy Holiday Sewing,

today's garden photo, perhaps the last bloom of the year on this red rose. The variety is Veteran's Honor, planted about 2 years ago and it's quite a good bloomer.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Simplicity 1586 plus wool from Britex = perfect sheath dress

How many blue items can one person have in their wardrobe? I laugh with Heather as no matter what we are looking for, she finds blue fabrics. Although I can't really fault her, because they work perfectly for her.
For this dress I have lots of photos and inside sewing looks, so if you like posts with a lot of sewing details then read on. Or at least scroll through and see the photos.

Starting with the finished look. I am so happy with this dress and the fabric is gorgeous. It is a fairly bulky wool but sewn up it makes a very sleek work dress in a color that suits her perfectly.

H wool dress front view

The fabric is from Britex, we bought it last spring and then I set it aside during our hot summer as nobody wants a wool dress around here in July. But once I finished the previous version of this pattern for her I thought it would be a good choice for this fabric as well. Here's the link to that post, same pattern but made of a cotton sateen for a summer dress. If you are interested in pattern manipulation and redesign take a look, as I changed the armhole princess seams to shoulder princess seams. I think on her they give a nice vertical line, plus allow some smoother bust adjustment on that seam.

wool dress neckline close up on form

Sometimes a slightly thicker fabric is your friend - in that it sews quite easily, of course wool can be steam shaped and practically molded but it hides a lot of wrinkles or little shadows that might appear on other fabrics. Gosh I love this fabric and wanted to make a jacket - but she was set on a dress. In the end a good choice!

Sewing details. Starting with the basics - what color of thread to use?

wool dress thread choices

I used the lilac thread on the left instead of the navy blue thread which might seem like the first choice. When sewing on dark colors I tend to use something a few shades away from the fabric color. Not wanting it to disappear - I want to see the stitches when I'm sewing and if you need to remove anything, that navy blue thread is not your friend. In most fabrics the thread in the seams will never show and why not make your life a little easier?

Next decision, interfacings.

Wool dress interfacing test

Here's my little test sample. I put all the interfacing choices on a scrap of fabric. Then I sew some seams, add lining or other edge finishes just to see how everything goes together and which interfacing works best for the fabric. And even the location on the dress. Most garments are a mix of interfacings, I rarely use the same one on every part of an item. Here I determined that the fusible held the wool in shape, kept it from stretching at the neckline but it didn't give the crisp edge that was needed on that neckline and the center V. So I added silk organza and that combo worked beautifully.

wool dress interfaced neckline inside view

This is the center front of the dress. I did all the work on that center front, both to stabilize and sew the front seam before attaching it to the side panels. That way it's locked down and not going to change shape as I work on the rest of the dress.  Blue painters tape on every piece of this, on the wrong side, which just makes it quick to know right/wrong side and not mix anything up. I put the tape pieces on as I cut out and while I'm doing my tailor's tacks.

I love it when I learn a new technique!

wool dress zipper construction

I saw this method on the Threads Magazine website (I think).  A slightly different way of putting in an invisible zipper - you baste the center back seam closed, baste the zipper to the seam allowances, then stitch it in. This method allows you to have the bottom of the seam already stitched up as opposed to going in after the zipper is sewn in and doing that part of the seam. On the right I haven't pressed the seam so it still shows a bit.

Here's the finished zipper. I'm finding this dress form that I made a while ago in Heather's size somewhat useful - it's a tiny bit off in some areas - I think I overstuffed it. But the bigger issue is that it's tilted and I can't really fix that without taking it all apart.

wool dress on form back zipper

Wool dress on form  side front

H wool dress back view

I did make a walking vent in the bottom of the dress, which isn't necessary for striding actually, but I always think it looks nice and helps when you sit down so that there isn't pulling around the hem. We took these pictures around 3 in the afternoon on Sunday and the sky was so clean and blue after a few days of rain. Such a change from the previous week.

The last version of this pattern was sleeveless so for this one I needed to figure out a sleeve pattern piece and ended up making my own. I follow a few Russian dressmakers on IG (whew their talents are amazing!) and saw a quick video on how to draft a sleeve that made so much sense. So I tried it and perfection. I will never stress about a sleeve again. Maybe 😌. In any case I will try to post how I did it on my next Random Threads post.

Here's my test sleeve using a scrap of wool. This is hand basted in but I thought it was great so onward with cutting it out in the actual fabric.

Wool dress test sleeve 2

Wool dress sleeve closeup

There's a peek at the lining, the dress is fully lined to the edges including the sleeves, which have a slight pleat at the hem edge in the lining for movement. Hand sewn there at the sleeve hem.

I had to guess on the sleeve length but looking at the proportions on the dress form I just picked a length and it worked out. The goal was a short sleeve but not a cap sleeve, and a slim fitting sleeve. It needed less width than I thought to fit into the armhole nicely. There is very little sleeve cap ease which works well in this wool bit still allows for fit around the arm and also comfort.

H wool dress neckline

H wool dress side view

Wool dress completed and ready for winter. I guess some people don't like to wear wool, too itchy, allergic or even too warm for them? But I love it and it sews so beautifully.

Next up I have completed 2 other items for Heather including the silk wrap dress and a blazer jacket. I hope you like seeing things I sew for her  - I've received some lovely emails to the effect that it's interesting to see garments sewn for a variety of shapes and I agree. I'm always looking online to see new techniques or how things fit on various people.

As for selfish sewing, I made some jeans using the Ash jeans pattern from Megan Nielsen. I chose a size based on my hip/waist measurement, decided to sew them up exactly as instructed and they fit perfectly. Kind of amazing! I can't guarantee that would happen for anyone else but I struck lucky on this one. I like that this pattern has 4 variations, skinny, slim, straight and flare. Everything you could need! I'm teaching a weekend jeans workshop at Hello Stitch on Jan 26-27 . By then I might have a few more pairs in my wardrobe. By the way you can use this Ash jeans pattern or any jeans pattern you have, like the Closet Case Ginger jeans, or Cashmerette, Deer and Doe, etc. It's flexible so if you already own a jeans pattern that's fine to use.  I will post my Ash jeans in the next week or so.

Other projects in mind - I have some red print silk that is calling out to be a nice bow blouse for the festive season, I just finished a red plaid dress which also seems right for winter and I want to make a ponte knit turtleneck color-block dress with McCalls 7430. Enough on my to-sew list, right?

Happy Sewing,  Beth

Today's garden photo - a throwback to this past June when the hydrangeas were in full bloom.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Burda 11-2018-113 knit top with neckline modification, plus pants to match

Do you get a little thrill when you see someone you follow sew up a pattern that you are contemplating? I often find inspiration - or maybe confirmation - when someone whose style I like sews up a pattern that caught my eye. Also some people are so quick off the mark with new patterns. I'm more of a "put that in my mental filing cabinet" and try use the pattern when time, season and fabric converge. However this time I was fairly quick myself and have sewed up a t-shirt from the current November 2018 Burda magazine.

Talk about quick, KS_Sews blogged her version of this top almost 2 weeks ago. Speedy! Mine has some design changes which I will detail below.

Burda knit top v5

I made my pants also - those are actually what got me started on doing a t-shirt to go with. I found the knit fabric at Joann, they seemed to have added a lot more garment fabric, at least at the one nearest my house. This is a soft rayon jersey and I took a little swatch of the pants fabric with me on the off chance I could fine a nice knit for a top. Score! The pants are a pattern I made from copying a pair of jeans I have, now I've sewn them 3 times, never in denim. This burgundy color fabric I bought at Stone Mountain at the end of last winter, I think it's a stretch cotton blended with lycra and something else. It has nice recovery and I just bought it because I like the color with no idea in mind.

Maroon white knit t-shirt burda

You probably can't see it but the pattern has a 2-piece front with a diagonal seam and then the waist is gathered on one side to create a bit of drape. I made mine a bit loose so that detail doesn't show as much as it could. But the big change is the neckline.

Maroon white tshirt close up neckband

I am always cold! Once September is gone and autumn arrives I plan to be chilly and dress accordingly until March or April. I would NOT survive in any place that has snow. We joke here that the snow falls in the mountains where it belongs and not in our driveways. When I skied a lot I was definitely a fair weather skier, but if you've ever been at the top of a peak at Lake Tahoe when the sun is sparkling on the lake and you are wearing a short sleeve t-shirt, jeans and sunglasses then you know what I mean. Why suffer when a sunny day will come along? (although sure, the snow might be better on those stormy days but the fun quotient is much higher when the sun was out - at least to me). It's my neck that always seems to feel the cold first, probably due to short hair and I might wear a turtleneck all winter but fashion-wise that can bet a bit boring. This pattern had a boat neck shape and that won't work for me.  Here's the technical drawing from the magazine.

burda pattern info

T-shirt neckline change on pattern pieces

Here are the pattern pieces that include the neckline. The original pattern as designed is the purple line, which would be wide neckline. I measured the shoulder seam on a t-shirt that I had which had a crew neck, and that's how I decided how much to bring in at the shoulder seam. The question I always get is how to figure out the neckband (which this pattern didn't have - they call for a turn and stitch neck which is not my favorite). I have measured the length of the stitching line on front and back, add that together, double it and then calculate the neckband.



Then I cut the neckband to whatever length calculated, machine baste it on, leaving the center back 2 inches or so unstitched and try it on to see if I like the neckline shape. If not I take it off and make any changes. In this case the back neckline came up a bit high so I reduced it about 1/4". I like a half inch wide neckband but the important thing is to know your seam allowance and then how wide the finished neckband you want, add those together and x2 for width.  Once I like how the neckband fits then I stitch it with regular stitching, trim seam allowance if needed and then edge stitch on the right side. I don't bother with serging on knits. I've just never been in the habit of constructing things with my serger and then to go back and serge knits seems like double the work.

So that's the scoop on this top. The pants have a fly zipper, jeans pockets front and back. Now that I've made them three times I'm ready to try something else. The overall fit is good but I'm not 100% satisfied with the width of the legs, although I'm not really sure what I want. Some jeans making is in my future as I'm doing a jeans class at Hello Stitch in late January so I'll give that pattern a try over the Thanksgiving weekend.

And this expression can be translated as "squirrels I see you stuffing acorns in my roof, cut it out"

Burda t-shirt maroon 1

maroon t-shirt side view on form  Maroon t-shirt back view on form

The last two Burda magazines have had a LOT of stuff I would like to make, although when I might get around to any of them is another question. There's a really cute jacket shown in red in the magazine but I don't have the right fabric currently. I would like it in red but I already have a nice red jacket.  I'm thinking sapphire blue so I'll be on the lookout for that.

Like the Vogue patterns size 12, the Burda size 38 is a really nice fit for me in the neck and shoulders. I'm kind of obsessed with shoulder fit lately, after doing a demo at a Bay Area Sewists meet up in Oct. on shoulder adjustments. As it happens I don't really have any adjustment of shoulder slope :) which leave me more time and energy for any/all other adjustments needed.

Burda knit top v3

So that's the latest on this project that I snuck into my sewing queue in the midst of finishing 2 different things for Heather. Last night I finished the lining hem on the silk wrap dress and sewed on the final button for her wearable muslin blazer. That silk dress seemed never-ending, probably because I just worked on it in smallish chunks of time which makes a project seem to go on forever. Photos soon and I will blog the details.

The Jan- Feb class schedule at Hello Stitch is taking shape and is available now on their website. 
In addition to the jeans workshop we are repeating the Lander pants class, as well as the Kimono jacket, Wrap dress and Garment copy classes. Not listed yet but coming soon will be some classes that extend over several sessions. Beginning Sewing will be for those starting out, I will show how to get started with garment sewing and well will make a boxy top. Intermediate Dressmaking will be a class to level up in your sewing and include some fitting instruction along with sewing.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and I hope you have a great holiday. Either restful or productive - whichever one you are wishing for. Tomorrow is pie making day - always my contribution to the Thanksgiving table.  Something to be thankful for, it is raining here as I sit and write. Really raining, a downpour. Finally! the air already feels better.

Burda knit top 4

Happy Thanksgiving weekend and happy sewing,

Today's garden photo, a dahlia from a few weeks ago.

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