Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Casual version: BurdaStyle 07-2017-124 cocktail dress in stretch denim

For some dresses, using a casual fabric for a garment with a glamorous style results in the best of both worlds. Sophisticated and yet wearable anywhere. Reflecting back on things I've made for myself over the years this combo has really worked well. When I made the blue wool version of this BurdaStyle Pattern 07-2017-124A  last winter for my friend Heather I said "I think this would be great in denim". At the time I concentrating on completing that one in time for her event but the idea stuck in the back of my mind. Looking through my fabric recently I came across a denim fabric I bought at Joann's, maybe the summer before last? And so I made the executive decision - this dress will be!

H black denim dress front view2

A blonde in a little black dress, ideal for vacation or a dinner out. I'm so happy I stitched this up. Sewing it in stretch denim, with no lining made it a bit quicker to sew. Plus I had already dealt with the pattern puzzle which is this pattern. And it is a bit of a puzzle, with asymmetrical seaming and darts.

Actually this inside look shows the detail probably better than the outside. Also you can see that while the fabric looks black it's really woven from a combo of blue and black threads so I guess it gives you either/or in terms of accessories. Note: my constant conpanion when sewing during the day, podcasts. First up every morning is The Daily.

black denim dress inside front seaming

Previous version of this dress was sewn in blue wool, which had a touch of lycra but wasn't really stretchy. This denim was much more elastic, and I went for a tighter fit in this version.

Heather blue dress view 3

Here's the drawing for this pattern. Both times I've left off that overlay, which is a good idea but coupled with the asymmetric shaping just didn't do anything for the dress, in fact if you look at my previous blog post on the blue wool dress, I tried it when doing the muslin and it wanted to poof out strangely. Not a look anyone wants!

blue wool dress

A few dress form pictures of this denim version and scroll down for more sewing details.

black denim dress front view

black denim dress back view

H black denim dress side view

black denim dress dart detail

This dress is definitely very "dart-y" with both small vertical darts and longer horizontal bust darts coming from the side seams. I didn't like how they first came out when I basted the dress together for a fitting, and even after the fitting played around with them quite a bit. The photo below shows my first attempts and then the final version.

black denim dress dart adjustment

I pulled out the pattern pieces and was trying to recall what I did with the darts on the first version. I always figure the pattern is just a guide and I often change the length or angle of the darts as I go to suit the fabric or the body shape. I keep trying to back off the dart point to keep it from being too prominent but that just made the whole apex area more pointy - which is not the look most of us are going for.
Examining the pattern pieces I realized that the two side darts weren't actually the same either, so there was no need to try and sew them both the same length and width, it was better to just take in the dart as needed for shaping. In the end I had a bit of fabric at the underarm in the front, but I just sliced that off and did the edge finish.
For this dress I did facings in self fabric for the front and back neckline, and then just made some bias binding out of black cotton batiste for the underarm binding.


I tried a new method of putting in the invisible zipper which I saw on the Threads website, it works quite well but does involve a bit of basting. Not that I mind that and to get it to line up perfectly on the first try makes that hand sewing worthwhile.

H back view black denim dress

I lightened up the shadows in this photo below so the details of the seaming are more visible.

Black denim dress front close up

And while the casual sandals look fine I know this dress will look great with a bit of jewelry. I've seen her wear some cute hot pink leather wedge sandals so that might just be the pop of color this outfit needs.
In the meantime we will make do with my photoshop flower 🌺.

H black denim dress front view with flower

So that's the latest on this project. Glad I finished it with a couple months more of warm weather here so she can wear it.

What's next for me. Yes, I've made another summer dress....and today I vowed on Instagram that it will be the last for a while. My closet is bursting with summer dresses. But they are so fun to make! And fortunately I can wear them all the time. Hmmm maybe talked myself into more?  Nope. Onto other stuff. Just cut out a t-shirt and about to make the Lander pants as I am teaching that class at Hello Stitch in early September, By the way - that class is filling up so if you want in, register soon!

Happy Summer Sewing,

today's garden photo, it's getting past peak hydrangea time but every year one of the many I have goes into overdrive, this year it was this purpley-blue one. ooo that color 💜


Thursday, August 9, 2018

More mileage: Bondi Dress Pattern as a top in silk crepe

One of my favorite things in sewing is to find ways to get more mileage out of one pattern. Once I made the Bondi dress from Tessuti patterns I knew it would make a great top. It's ideal for any silk or a floaty rayon. Really for any lightweight fabric, and I predict a color block version in my future (as half the work is done already due to the back design).

Second only to getting more mileage out of a pattern has to be using fabric remnants to make another item. I just don't mean using the scraps for pocket lining, or testing, but sewing another garment in the same fabric from the remainder of the first project. Of course it helps if you bought a great big piece of fabric and in this case I had about 5/8 of a yard plus another sizable bit to work with. So now I have two tops out of this fabric that I absolutely love. And I was able to use the border print, so that was another level of sewing happiness...

If you want a Bondi dress or top of your own - our last Bondi Dress class of the summer is this upcoming Sunday 8/12, at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley. Here's the link. Note that the pattern comes with the class plus we have all the sizes sewn up in the studio so you can try on the samples and determine just which size to make. Then you trace off your pattern size (with everything you need supplied) and it's on to sewing!  If you do plan to take the class sign up asap as sometimes we have more people that want to take a class but on a different day so we reschedule if that day turns out to work for more people. If that makes sense. Anyway if you want to do this Sunday class please register by Friday.

Bondi silk top on form

and here I am near the end of my class last weekend, which was our Wrap Dress class. Everyone made super cute dresses including a couple of versions of the Eve dress from Sew Over It (my version shown here).

Bondi top 2

Sewing details: I played around with the length on this top, I think it needs to be long enough to keep the flowy shape and I'm not a fan of a crop top on me, although they look cute on some people. But too long and it looks like a dress that shrank, right?  So I held up the paper pattern piece and took a gamble. Because I wanted to use the border edge, which is printed along the selvedges of this fabric. I figured if it was a bit too long I could do a narrow hem and still keep a bit of the border.

There's the Tessuti Bondi dress instructions on my iPad. They show a lot of versions in linen but I actually like it best in silk or rayon (perhaps because I'm just not a fan of linen). However with linen you can do the cool frayed edge hem treatment, so there is that.


How about some macro lens type sewing detail? Truth be told I'm a straight stitch kind of sewer. I almost never change the stitch type, although I do change the length all the time. But one feature I do like is the capacity to move the needle to one side or the other.


Using the edge of the foot is the best way I've found to get a super even seam allowance stitched around bias binding. I'm sure everyone has their own method but this works for me. So the needle is moved to exactly 1/4 inch away from the edge of the foot (which might not be as shown in the above photo).


Then I pin on the bias binding which is cut about 1 1/8 wide and folded in half. I add that extra 1/8" due to the folding and when manipulated into place around the circle the binding is a fairly accurate 1/2" wide.


Not an ad but just a mention, I really like these pins for almost all sewing, but especially for silks they work so well. Also my treasured magnetic pin holder. Which I'm calling a pin holder so as to distinguish between that and a pin cushion. Whew I despise pincushions!!! I just cannot deal. All that poking pins in and out, it takes forever. I run around my sewing classes giving people little dishes or boxes to put their pins in and try to say "learn to wrangle your pins a different way if you want to sew a bit faster" But mostly people have their own way so I should let it go :)  Breathe in, breathe out, let it go!

Back to stitching.


Changing the presser foot - another feature that I rarely use. But this tiny binding seemed to call for whatever this foot is. My machine manual says it is the blind hem foot, but I think that it works really well for keeping something aligned along the edge as shown. And then I use a wooden skewer to push the binding flat and in place, no pins needed as it is pressed in place and silk presses so well.

bondi silk top side and back

I ended up liking the length just fine so I was glad I could cut it out to use the border.

bondi silk top back closure

When I did the dress version I knew that my X -back bra straps peeked out a the middle so for this slightly more elegant version I put a small extra piece on one side so they back could overlap that. And then for a closure I used a snap.

Here's the dress version of this pattern:

Bondi dress 1

And the tunic top version of this fabric:

silk tunic autumn leaves

So now I really have only small scraps left, just enough for pocket linings.

Bondi top on me at studio

One more look at this top, and my purple jeans. Which I made using a pattern I made by copying a pair of jeans. It's now my go-to pattern for pants and needs to be a blog post, one of these days.

Other classes coming up for fall are:

Sewing Pattern Alteration: Tissue Fitting and Fit Lab on Sun. Aug. 26
Make the Lander Pants on Sat. Sept 8
Copy for favorite Garment on Sun. Sept 30

and then we are into Autumn sewing with
Cape Tailoring Weekend Workshop  Oct 13-14  this is a great option if you want to make a fun outerwear piece, avoid some fitting headaches, but still learn how to work with heavier fabrics, interfacing, lining, buttonholes etc.   On that registration page there is a link to a Pinterest board of all kinds of great cape patterns.

Jacket and Coat Tailoring Weekend Workshop Nov. 3-4  You can make a jacket! I plan to do lots of demos on techniques, explain interfacing, linings, sewing perfect sleeves, how to do bound buttonholes and welt pockets. Even if your pattern doesn't have each one of these details you will have a change to see and practice these techniques.

So what's up next in my sewing list? I gave a sneak peek on Instagram of my latest project and the fabric got a few raves so I am anxious to finish that one and wear it - because our weather is scorching and a summer shift dress will be just right.

And then I had better make some Lander pants to learn all about that pattern. And my Burda magazines are calling me. But today it's 100℉ so I think it's time for a swim.

Happy sewing, 

today's garden photo, a yellow dahlia that I've been waiting for all summer. Did not disappoint! So pretty in the evening light.

yellow dahlia 2018

Friday, August 3, 2018

Dress: Burda 05-2018-114A sheath dress with waist tie in cotton gauze

News bulletin - I'm really liking the fact that I finally subscribed to Burda Magazine. I suppose after a few years I will have a big stockpile of the magazines as many long time Burda readers do. At that time I might be a bit uninterested, and wonder if I should keep it up. But since I am in the early phase of Burda infatuation I find it really fun to get that issue in the mail and page through it.

When the May issue arrived I saw a number of patterns that I really liked, but this one jumped out at me right away. Also I saw a fellow blogger (the fabulous Ellen in Norway) made the same dress and she blogged it on May 20. She so speedy!

Here's my version, and for variety a new photo location. Which turned out to be far more interesting than I would have guessed. Consequently lots of pics in this post.

orange dress 1

It's not really all that out of the ordinary, a simple princess seamed bodice, a straight skirt with some pleats at the waist, and then the sash tie which is sewn into the side seams. But I find it very appealing. This fabric is kind of a mystery item that I bought at a garage sale last month, it's a crinkly gauze, cotton presumably.  Here's the magazine view. Oh how I wish they would include more photos of each item, maybe the back and at the least not obscure the item with some arty pose or an accessory. Oh well....


Left of the sleeves because that's my style in the summer. It's either sleeveless or long sleeves for me.

Dress form view.
orange dress front on form

orange dress side and back view

Sewing details:  I think raised the center front of the neckline about 3/8" of an inch. Since I'm short a lot of necklines end up a bit low, so I will either raise the neckline at the center front or sometimes I take the whole thing up at the shoulders, it just depends on the pattern. For this one I probably could have left it as is but I am happy with the proportions. I'm really partial to that neckline shape in both the front and the back, in my mind I always call it a "rounded square" neckline shape.

orange dress neckline closeup

A closer look at the neckline and the fabric. You can see it is a bit crinkly like gauze which makes it quite nice to wear. The color looks different in every photograph. I asked on Instagram if the print was pumpkins or what, and most commenters thought apples. But due to the orangey color I still see pumpkins.

Interlude between serious sewing details for a slightly corny photo. I thought this bandstand would make a nice backdrop but had to tell some kids to scram before posing. Like all the other selfie taking dorks in the part that evening. But keep reading - a much better photo spot to follow. At least I thought so.

orange dress 5

More sewing details:  I cut a size 38 which is my usual size in Burda. I added a bit in the waist and hips for fitting purposes and I think retained only some of that when I sewed up the side seams.

When I trace out the Burda patterns and before I add seam allowance I try to measure the finished garment measurements to see how the fit will be and then do adjustments at that point. Below shows the bodice pattern pieces aligned so I can measure the finished circumference at bust and waist. This is the kind of thing I try to get people to become comfortable in my fitting classes, to know your way around a pattern before you even start with adjusting. Most people aren't using Burda patterns but a lot of patterns tell a finished measure but people don't really have an idea as to what that means. And it might not land on your body at the same place as they calculate, so it pays to do your own.


The whole bodice is lined with cotton batiste, and I put interfacing on the orange fabric around the neckline only, front and back. Also down the center back seam. I wasn't planning to line the skirt but the fabric was a bit see-through.
orange dress zipper lining

Rummaging through my lining box I came across a sewn together skirt lining in an ivory color that I must have extracted from something ages ago - and figured sometime I could reuse it. So score! Skirt lining sorted. Talk about a quick one, just had to attach it at the waist to the bodice lining.



Last but not least, I added pockets. Which you probably can't see in this photo but they are there, in the side seams. The pattern doesn't have them but they are easy to add and don't show at all due to the pleats (as opposed to a sleeker skirt style with darts where the pocket outline might show).

And what seems like a pleasant and quite park contains an interesting feature. Check out that strange sculpture ? behind me. Is it a nest? a Hobbit dwelling? I'm not sure how long it's been there and have probably driven by it never noticing. Or it could be new and will be gone in a few weeks. Actually I just googled and it will be there until 2020 so expect more on location photos. Perhaps on a dark and moody rainy day. Which seems very far off right now.

orange dress 2

orange dress6

orange dress3

So that's the latest on finished projects. Actually today I made a top version of the Bondi dress in a remnant of silk. And I have plenty of other projects in the works.
Next weekend (Sun. Aug 12) we are doing the Bondi dress class again at Hello Stitch Studio. Here's my Bondi dress blog post, and I will post my top version soon as well.

Tomorrow is my Wrap dress class at Hello Stitch, which is sold out 😊 and after this month we are moving on to autumn and winter items (like a cape class, a jacket class, and the Lander pants).

Is it August already???  oh summer is flying by and I don't like that. Summer forever! although with the temps around the world lately that just might be the case and I don't wish for that.

Thinking cheerful weather thoughts for everyone.

Happy Summer Sewing,

Today's garden photo, this little very old rose that doesn't bloom all that much but I keep it around because the color is so lovely.



Thursday, July 26, 2018

Catching up and pattern hacking, Simplicity 4091 skirt and 1779 shirt

In the interest of being complete, and because I find some interesting details in most everything I sew, I try to blog things that I sew for others. Not everything from that category makes it onto the blog, but these two items received a lot of interest on my IG feed so here there are in finished form.
I started both these items way back in the springtime, and finished last month. These two fabrics were bought by J, who also was the owner of this coat, and this very interesting dress.  It kind of goes without saying that her color palette is not mine, yet her fabric choices are really lovely and work perfectly with her coloring. The autumn hues that I run from work out really well for certain people.

So onward with the details. I'm teaching a class this weekend at Hello Stitch on Pattern Hacking - which is the only catch-all term I could think of to describe this class. I'm planning to show a number of pattern manipulations, such as moving darts, changing darts to gathers, redesigning sleeves, changing necklines, adding pockets, creating color block looks, as well as merging two patterns together. Whew!

Consequently I figured it was time to blog about this outfit, as the skirt involved a lot of Pattern Hacking to make it work. Mostly due to the fact that I had about 1 yard 5 inches. To make a skirt with a flounce - and she wanted it long, to wear with boots in the winter. The pattern says 1.5 yards for the version I used so it was time for a pattern piece puzzle. Let's take a quick look at the back view so you can see why the skirt takes more yardage than the average straight skirt. Not quite finished in this photo - waistband is not done and it needs more pressing but you get the idea.

silk blouse back with skirt unfinished

The skirt fabric is SO gorgeous. An Italian wool with a touch of lycra.  Here's my improvisational cutting out for this fabric. And can you spot the dilemma?  This beautiful wool has a very large woven border with the name of the manufacturer, which unfortunately takes up a good couple of inches off each selvedge edge. So while your fabric quality is unparalleled Mr. Giorgio I am not pleased with that border.

maroon skirt cutting out 2

Pattern Hack - This skirt has seamed side panels, I eliminated that seam as it was kind of unnecessary and I could shorten the fabric needed by making it a one piece side. I reduced some of the width of the back flounce, removed the front skirt bottom width to make it just a straight skirt in front and then folded the fabric to create to folded for cutting out the center front and back pieces. The zipper is on the side seam. I cut the waistband out of the remaining blank area at the bottom.

Here's the pattern envelope for the skirt.

Simplicity 4091

Once it was cut out and I had enough fabric for the skirt plus waistband then it was just straightforward sewing (as I had made a muslin to test for fit and style already).

maroon wool skirt zip close up

maroon wool skirt side back view

maroon skirt with lining

I generally baste hems once I've decided on the length and pressed. It just keeps everything smooth, then I can trim the hem allowance evenly all around and set it aside for whenever I have a chance to to the hand stitching. For this skirt the hem was very minimal and I didn't want to add lace as I think it changes the texture and sometimes makes it a bit stiff (although it works well on a straight hem but this is curved due to the back flounce). And I don't like the look of a serged hem allowance plus I think the thread bulk shows through when it is presses (particularly at the dry cleaners, which seem to smash garments so you see every ridge and seam allowance after they have finished with it). So I cut bias strips of the lining which is bemberg rayon (from Stone Mountain  - they have Every Color! and applied those as a hem edging. Nice and soft and it looks pretty too.

Now for the blouse, which you can see in that photo above. The two fabrics were I believe purchased on the same trip to NY but not at the same place. The blouse fabric is silk charmeuse, and the print makes me think of a Watteau painting. For this fabric I had a good 3 yards to work with so plenty of fabric but I wanted to be careful with the placement of the flowers. The pattern repeat is actually about 25 inches so a very big print although it looks random unless you really scrutinize it.


That's a slightly wonky image of the fabric on my table, rumpled up a bit but you get the idea, some big floral elements, a few bright flowers like that red one in the middle so I wanted to avoid the bull's eye effect for sure.

Here's the pattern envelope and drawing. I made a test version of this a few months back and really loved it - I plan to make one for myself when fall arrives. I did look at the instructions and they are quite good, so it's a nice variation on the bow blouse.

Simplicity 1779 pattern envelope

silk tie blouse close up front

I'm really happy with the print placement, and I think the wine colored skirt complements the colors in the silk. Plus this silk charmeuse is just about the dream fabric for a blouse of this style.

silk tie blouse untied

I don't think you could wear this without doing up the bow as the ties are quite long. Underneath is an applied button band which creates a nice clean edge where the bow meets the band, and then the inside is finished with a bias binding that is understitched to keep it inside. A very neat and tidy finish.


Here's a closer look at the print and the buttons. Which are a brown tortoise shell look I bought at a big fabric and button clearout sale held by a designer at Hello Stitch a few months ago. I really like these buttons and kind of wish I had bought more for the stash.

Completed outfit below - although I'm not sure if the skirt is hemmed in this photo. But you get the idea and imaging it with tall brown suede boots - what a great autumn outfit.

silk tie blouse and maroon wool skirt

So that's the scoop on these beautiful fabrics. I do have a bit of trepidation on that first cut of the scissors when I'm cutting into someone else's very expensive fabric, but I always plan, double check, and then take a deep breath and review before starting. So far so good which is fortunate as I have a quite a stack of pricey fabrics to work with as fall approaches!

As for selfish sewing - i.e. sewing for myself, I have completed a super cute dress from the May Burda Mag and am just waiting to take some photos. Which might happen soon as I have a haircut appointment later today. Do my fellow short hairstyle stitchers know the feeling - when you realize you have passed needing a haircut and are into the mophead stage?  I have a bad habit of not planning appointments for stuff like this and then deciding that I need a haircut immediately. Luckily my stylist is flexible (plus she is near my size so has a few of my dresses in her closet).

Ok - time to finish preparing for this weekend's class. And maybe sew up that DVF wrap dress pattern I bought for a quarter not too long ago. In time for the following week's wrap dress class.
By the way - this fall we are doing a Cape class in October, which will be a great stretch into outerwear sewing for beginner-intermediate stitchers, and then a coat/jacket weekend in November.
Details to follow.

I just went outside to water some plants and we have a bit of a cool-down today. But I don't really have any complaints - last night I was out with friends and after vino we decided that since it was still hot out that ice cream was in order. We walked down the street to an artisanal ice cream shop (after all, it's the bay area and what isn't artisanal in the realm of food and cuisine?  ha ha) and had a few scoops of two flavors, roasted strawberry, and rose cardamom pistachio which were both yummy.
Wearing my Butterick 5455 dress.

citrus print dress

So that's the latest. Keep cool and sew on, right?  Slight laugh at the expense of my UK friends who are "sweltering" in their heat wave. you call that a heat wave?   Come back to San Francisco where the weather gives you 4 different seasons in the span of a few hours :)

Happy Summer Sewing,

Today's garden photo, a penstemon which might need to be moved into a better spot. If I could only find one. Things are getting a bit crowded in the garden these days. Plant overload!


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