Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to create a color block dress, starting with McCalls 5927

Color block styles always catch my eye. I seem to look at so many patterns as the possibilities for color blocking but it is not very difficult to adapt an existing pattern to make your own version. Recently I was writing a post for Craftsy and after rummaging in my remnants I came up with enough scraps of fabric to make this dress.

CB Front blog crop

It helps to be kind of short but this took very little fabric. I think there were some irregular cuts of the darker blue adding up to maybe 3/4 yard and then about 1/3 yard of the lighter blue. It is ponte knit so was about 60" wide but still - my final design was based purely on what I could do with the fabric.

Considering all that I am rather pleased with this dress. I don't have many items sewn with ponte knits, they are not really my favorite although sometimes the colors are great. And they don't show the wrinkles as this dress can attest. Shortly after finishing it I had to go to Sacramento for the day which is about an hour by car, plus it was scorching. That is the exact combo for lots of wrinkles but this dress made it through perfectly.

The details on how to adapt the pattern are all included in my post today on the Craftsy Sewing Blog so check it out if you want the details. I think it is one of my better explanations - I hope !
color block post for Craftsy

Here's a look at the back which has the same color blocking as the front. Argh, my camera drives me crazy. Does everyone else struggle to take photos for the blog or other places? And then have a zillion stupidly labeled photos in their computer which cry out for culling and organizing.  Project I never get to.

CB Back top blog crop

I started with this pattern which is a good one. It has different bodice fronts for the cup sizes but as a style with only waist darts I would be cautious with the larger cup sizes.  It has pockets in front (I have a sneaky feeling it is almost the same skirt block as this Butterick pattern. But I didn't want the pockets, mostly to conserve fabric so I changed the front to pleats and also changed the back skirt dart to pleats. I see this all the time on RTW dresses and it looks so cute plus HOW EASY to sew and look good on a variety of shapes. Note to self for future.  

McCalls 5927 pattern envJPG

Side seam color matching. If you're gonna do a color block dress the intersections have to match, right?

Color block Side seam view

And now a look at the dress on me. I don't like this photo but it was the best of a bad bunch. And it was still about 102 degrees in the shade at 6pm so no wonder, we were all feeling a bit limp that day. I actually think it is a bit tight but I was speed sewing to get the Craftsy post done. Although when I look in the mirror it doesn't seem tight. Photos can be so....informative (I was going to say cruel)

Color block on me 3

Back to the topic of patterns. WOW...........just wow.  So many great comments and lots of interesting opinions on traditional patterns, indy patterns, pricing, availability etc.  I will definitely write about this more in the coming months. Two things really stood out to me. First, now I know why people on vacation here in the US make a trip to the big box store to buy patterns at the US prices. Secondly, I can't believe that Simplicity patterns are so often unavailable outside the US. That is odd to me as they are really a basic here. In fact this morning I was looking at the Simplicity site (which is terrible, could it be any slower?) and I think I will try buying a PDF version just to see how it goes. Now my business side is driving me and I am really curious about this pattern marketplace, 

Thanks for all the comments and contributions to the discussion. 

Happy end of summer sewing (is it almost fall? that went fast)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

So what do you pay for patterns? Please tell me

What a bunch of brilliant people read and comment here!

I was slightly apprehensive to write that post yesterday regarding patterns but I am really happy that I did. Such great comments! So thoughtful and interesting. Points I had not considered or even known about. Lots of agreement with me, which makes sense if you read this blog regularly - but some other viewpoints with great explanations to back them up.  If you didn't happen to read it please do and check out the comments for some great discussion.

I really appreciate all the comments, and will circle back around to many of the points in the coming weeks. But many people wrote about the cost of patterns in other places. As I mentioned, we here in most urban / suburban United States locations have access either in superstores, local merchants or via on-line orders to Big 4 paper patterns at a very low price as compared to what is paid in the rest of the world.

And there was some real interest in my self proclaimed "pattern whisperer" role. I am looking forward to making some general and specific recommendations but first I need some info.

I want to know :

what does a pattern cost where you are? and where can you or can't you purchase them?  This is a call out to everyone, in particular if you are outside the US.  

This question has 2 components,  Product Access and Price 

Product Access

  • What do you pay or can you even purchase the following items? 
  • Are there sales when you can buy at a discount? 
  • Do you do mail order for these items? 

Price:  specifics on the various brands, at what type of store, sale vs. everyday price, how often discounted

  • Vogue Patterns     (or BMV for all 3 together)
  • McCalls Patterns
  • Butterick Patterns
  • Simplicity Patterns  
  • New Look Patterns
  • Burda envelope patterns
  • Style Arc patterns
  • Burda Magazine which includes the traceable patterns
  • Other Pattern magazines

Any other paper pattern you can purchase (Papercut, Named, Sewaholic and many more)?

I am going to presume that everyone worldwide has the same access for most of the online purchase, downloadable PDF type patterns from independent pattern designers, big or small, but perhaps that is not the case. Of course the currency exchange could make some items quite costly, so let me know that too.

Tell me all the details! 

Canada - let me know.  United Kingdom, what's the scoop?  Spain, Italy, Greece, France, I imagine a local merchant but maybe not?  Hey down under, Style Arc might ship quick around AU and NZ but can you get your hands on a Vogue pattern for a bargain price?  
Hong Kong, South Africa, Scandinavia, India, Japan and everywhere else we are sewing and blog reading the search for the mythical perfect pattern continues so I want to know how you buy and what you pay.

The reason I am asking is that after my last post I was going to recommend some good basic patterns that are quite good to fit and hopefully easy to adapt into different styles. After reading all the comments I am learning that the patterns I thought were mostly available worldwide may not be. It really suprises me that Simplicity are not available in Canada. They are missing out on business. In any case, this is mostly the reason for asking, as well as being a really informative topic for people sewing all over the world. I don't want to recommend a bunch of things that are not available widely. 

Thanks very much for sharing this info and I look forward to hearing about your pattern purchase process (whew say that 3 times fast :)

As for life here in Northern California, we did have an earthquake last night, it was a biggie but not "the big one" which we are all expecting and dreading someday. Definitely some damage in the location which was centered near Napa, so some injuries but not a lot. However they did seem to lose a lot of great Napa valley wine off the shelves, which would be funny except that earthquakes are so dangerous. In any case it was a wake-up call, in many ways including the proverbial "I thought I would bounce out of bed" since it happened at 3 am.  All is well and as a native and life-long Californian just something we live with but rarely think about. 


Friday, August 22, 2014

Grainline Maritime denim shorts and some thoughts on patterns

These shorts have already been seen in action in a previous post, but I will add the photo again. Yes, these are the Grainline Maritime shorts and my second use this summer of a independent pattern company. The first was the Tania culottes from Megan Nielsen (a complete success - I have been wearing those all the time, now I want a winter version).

eyelet top shorts on me

Once again I saw this pattern sewn up by another blogger, whose post title encapsulated everything I feel about a good pants or shorts pattern. So slight impulse purchase, I ordered/downloaded the pattern and made up a test sample. I used size 10-12-ish and it fit well, the only change I made after doing the test version was lengthening the back by adding an inch at the top of the center back tapering to zero at the side seams. Almost forgot, I did lengthen by about 3 inches. So they are short.

This fabric is leftover from my self-drafted black denim jacket that I made at the end of last summer (worn a ton). This denim is fab, stretchy, good recovery, kind of a charcoal color. And now I can have a very odd suit if I choose - jacket and shorts. Which I do NOT choose.

shorts front flat

Oh yeah, I did welt pockets. Kind of slapped them on there with not a lot of consideration for placement but they don't really show as worn with t-shirts so they are fine. 

shorts back flat

I used my serger for a change. With wanton disregard for thread color. Like it matters... 

shorts inside back
But I did take care with the welt pockets because I really don't like it when the lining or other fabric shows through at the welt opening, so I add a bit of the actual fabric on the top of the pocket lining. Like so.

shorts outside pocket

So a straightforward summer project and new pair of very useful shorts. 

Now a few thoughts about independent patterns, i.e. not the Big 4, which comprise Vogue, Butterick, McCalls (all one company really), and then Simplicity, which includes New Look also. This does seem a bit of a US-centric description as I think of Burda as equally Big, so perhaps the whole group should be the Big 5. 
I'll start with a disclaimer, or at least my impression regarding independent patterns, which is that I am probably not the target market. My real interests in sewing are tailoring, jacket and coat-making, and complex patterns with pleating or draping. These are some of the designer Vogue dress patterns I have made in the past few years. (left to right, Vogue 1117Vogue 1191, Vogue 1159). Funny they look so similar here but they are quite different.
                Korsdress close upCoral dress on form2Purple drape dress front
Pattern-wise I am always on the hunt for great coat and jacket patterns, and have had good luck with Burda and Simplicity (as well as Vogue). (left to right Burda jacket, Simplicity 2311 coat, BurdaStyle handbook coat)

                 Burda Jacket frontCoat Collar upBlue coat front
So when I say I am not the target market, my impression is that a lot of the independent pattern companies are focused on sewers who are not been sewing a long time, or want a pattern that includes a comprehensive instructions along with the pattern, possibly also a sew-along to help with the process.  There are certainly exceptions, (Sewaholic - some interesting jackets and a coat and there are plenty of other designers that have some unusually styles) although I have noticed that her recent releases are much less complex than the first ones. Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely a place for every level of sewing pattern and type of instruction included. I think it would have been really fun to join in but I learned to sew pre-internet and there was a lot of struggling along with only the instruction sheet to figure things out. However there is a lot of sameness, so many items that to my eye are so similar that it kind of confounds me (this is the business/marketing side talking).

Where there is a big gap in the pattern world is for the plus-size or curvy market. There are a lot of sewers who want to make up the styles shown in an indy pattern but the sizing is not there. (That is such a great name - I have really been enjoying reading the Curvy Sewing Collective posts) I think if I were going to create sewing patterns (which I am not) then for pure sales opportunity that would be a good area to target and design for. With new online groups like the Curvy Sewing Collective the opportunity to connect and have a built-in market is becoming evident. I know there are a few indy patterns/designers in that size range but not enough that if a new brand came along with some good social media marketing  and a variety of fit options (like cup size variation, height adjustments etc) they could really give the Big 5 a run for their money.

Getting back to the shorts I made above, the pattern was fine and went together well. As usual I didn't look at the instructions but prior to writing this post I looked through them so I could give some feedback, and to my surprise they said "all seam allowances are 1/2". What? that is unusual. So my feedback on fit is a little off, as I sewed the whole thing at 5/8". Not that it mattered and I probably should have looked before I sewed but 1/2" is kind of an odd choice. Most times when I have encountered a different seam allowance it is 3/8". Jalie, focused on knits, and Petite Plus, both have 3/8" and also are both from Canada which made me think it is more the standard metric seam allowance?  in any case 3/8" is actually better for construction but I do like the typical US 5/8" as it allows a good amount of wiggle room for fitting. Anyway - the instructions were OK, nothing particularly different and not really as good as the ones I have seen in a Simplicity or McCalls pants pattern.

Grainline definitely fascinates me as the patterns are far from unique, costly when compared to a Big 5 and only include the one item, with not a lot of variation (not including both pants and shorts in one pattern, or sleeve and collar variations).  I heard the designer interviewed on the radio show Marketplace and it was really interesting. She certainly has the background and I hope she develops some more patterns with a bit more complexity or detail as I would like to support the business.  I have not tried their woven t-pattern but have been asked by others at various sewing meet ups to diagnose issues with the fit on that pattern  Which brings me to my next observation.

Regarding a lot of indy patterns, say what you want about the excessive ease on Big 4 patterns but if a pattern does not appear to fit on the model in the bust and chest then I would be very hesitant to purchase. The bust darts need to be in the right place and be angled properly to get the most flattering fit and look. The shape of the armhole and the sleeve that fits in it is also really critical. Certainly there is fit variation in people, and a new pattern company can develop their own size scale but if there are creases and pulling across the body, or at the shoulders then the pattern looks problematic to me.

Pricing is another factor in non Big 4 patterns. Certainly I am in the US so I can buy Big 4 patterns  which have crazy list prices but are on sale between  $ 1 - $ 4 just about any week. New Look patterns are always $ 4.  Plus there is the value part of the equation, I do like buying patterns that have more than one item. A lot of the Big 4 patterns, particularly for tops, have more than one version in the envelope, sometimes as many as 3 very different versions so that is really getting more for the price. A lot of the Vogue designer patterns which are separates have a top and skirt, or a jacket and pants, possibly with variations so that another way they give you more than a single item for $ 12.

It is a matter of personal taste but I do prefer paper patterns, it is just easier to skip that step of printing, taping and either cutting out an unwieldy taped together thing or tracing from that onto other tracing paper. If I am in need of instant pattern gratification then BurdaStyle downloadable for $ 6 has been very good (wool tweed jacket above was a pdf) and with a bit of searching they have just about any basic style and plenty of interesting ones as well. However if I saw a great pattern and it was PDF only that would not be a deal breaker. Like the Tania culottes, unique and turned out very well, although that is the only pattern in that line that seemed really different from the rest of the marketplace.

As a consumer I also look for really good info on a pattern web site. Technical drawings are SO important. Not stylized, cute drawings, but the standard style of technical drawing. This is really how I am deciding on a pattern so if they are not there, or pop up in a tiny window on my laptop - then they are not going to get a good look from me. The Big 4 and Burda do a good job with these and despite some of the wacky fabrics or poses they show the technical drawings are what sells the patterns.

This post is turning out to be longer than I planned and I have a lot more thoughts on patterns. Does it deserve another post? Let me know. Colette's Laurel - I have helped a few friends with this one and whew, it took a lot of alterations to get it to fit (could have started with a similar New Look or Burda and been done in much less time).   Pauline Alice's Alameda dress, so cute, love it with my favorite cut-in armholes. plus it is a skirt/top/dress combo. Maybe next spring.  Stepalica patterns, now those are some interesting and complex looks, why have I not made one? I resolve to next year.  Lekala patterns have worked out very well for some and not others - but the idea of customized downloadable patterns really is the ultimate in pattern shopping so they deserve more testing.

Last year I was joking with my friend Elizabeth of the Sewn blog and mentioned that I love to pick out patterns, I always want to suggest them to various seamsters I meet either in person or on line. So we decided that I wanted to be a "pattern whisperer".  In fact now I have convinced myself to do another post on the basic patterns that are really adaptable, fit-able and easy to sew that I think make a good start for anyone.

Happy Friday and this weekend I am finishing up those "please copy these shorts" for someone in my family that I mentioned in the last post, plus finishing up this year's birthday dress which is a pattern repeat (yeah!) in a slight wacky fabric, not 100% sure about it but what the heck.


today's garden photo - what else this time of year but tomatoes? Yumm.

yellow tomato

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Member in Focus on Pattern Review.com

Hi everyone, and thanks for the encouragement on my last post, also known as the cute top that will never get worn. Actually I have decided to somehow change it to a sleeveless top which I will find way more wearable.

I have been on a stash-busting, repeat-pattern and get things sewn before autumn sets in binge lately. Like I need anything but I have happily cleared out a few fabrics that were on the top of the spare room dresser for ages. That is the spot where they go when I am not putting them away but planning to use. A couple of these have been there a while. But now are sewn up and even worn already.

In other news, I am the Member in Focus on PatternReview.com this month so if you are interested in reading the interview click the image below. I was kind of surprised they asked me so I looked through the previous ones and saw a few of my friends there - people I have now met in person but first got to know via their pattern reviews such as Laura Mae and Kyle. A couple of other interviews I saw are with people who I have not yet met  - but they feel like friends who happen to live very far away, and they are Sewmanju and Carrie. Those two are always seem to make a Vogue pattern that I am just thinking about, so thank you! To me that's the really great feature of Pattern Review, to be able to put in any pattern name or number and see how its been sewn, the fabric, etc. I don't participate in anything else on the site but the reviews are invaluable.

It seems strange to do a picture-less post so here is a sneak peek at something that will appear on the Craftsy blog next week and I will also write about it here. Which also used stash fabrics, yay!  Room for more patterns!  No just kidding. I have actually become something of a minimalist when it comes to buying new patterns. My little exercise in sewing repeats has been illuminating in that regard. And I have always said there are no new patterns, repeat, no new patterns.  OK, enough about that. 

Color block Side seam view

So if you want to read about how I learned to sew and my opinions about vintage Singer machines (like I haven't already jabbered on that topic) click over to Pattern Review and take a look.

Happy summer sewing, Beth

Friday, August 15, 2014

Simplicity 1462 Blouse in coral eyelet

With this pattern I have strayed from my summer plan to sew all kinds of pattern repeats, and what did it get me? Not a very high level of satisfaction.  Which might seem odd as it appears to be a very lovely top. OK maybe I am being a bit harsh, the color is so nice and that part I really like. But woven tops and me - not a match.

eyelet top shorts on me

Here is the pattern envelope so you can see what I was working with. Kind of cute, and I like the seaming (or so I thought) and the little opening at the neckline. Plus sleeve variations, I am a sucker for sleeve variations. 

S1462 pattern env

The only other version of this pattern that I have seen is this one by Petty Grievances, using her Blue Cranes of Doom fabric (please check it out, she is fab and one of my favs!) ............are you back?  Did you add her to your blog list? She and Mrs. Mole of Fit for a Queen are by far the most observant, funny, and entertaining of any sewing blog writers.  
Anyway, I had this coral eyelet fabric which I think was one of those add something to the cart to get free shipping. But I only bought one yard (60" wide) What did I think I would make? And a plain tank top or woven tee is just not my style. One day I pulled out this pattern and figured that I could squeeze it onto the yard. No problems there, but I think I either over-fitted it in the shoulders or I am just not used to wearing non-knit tops that are very close fitting. If it was sleeveless it would probably be fine and I am this close to chopping off the sleeves. Which are a bit restricting even though they are not at all tight. A friend said "no, don't, they are cute with the little pleat" but I said "they are bugging the &*%# out of me and I will never wear it"

eyelet top closeup

And more complaining. The neck is kind of high in the front, so when I am not standing up straight, which is basically all the time, being relaxed or even just sitting in a chair, it kind of bunches up in a weird way I don't like. Plus the big holes in the eyelet made is slightly difficult to sew that neck band. Don't look too closely! the center front where they meet is all kinds of wonky. 

                   eyelet top on formeyelet top back

There is a lot of seaming, princess seams and then raglan sleeves so maybe this was not the best choice of fabric but I do love the color and the fabric. This sneaky pattern even has a side seam zipper. Too much work for a simple top.
Wow I sound like a big complainer and I realize it is not bad, just not to my liking.

eyelet top closeup2

But strangely I predict that I will make this pattern again, maybe in a stretch charmeuse and long sleeves for other seasons. So there is something about it that I like buried under all my gripes.

This summer I decided to try out a few of the independent patterns, something I rarely do but time for some variety. So in the first photo above I am wearing the Maritime shorts from Grainline which I will write about in my next post. Oh, I have SO many thoughts about patterns, pattern companies, variety, newness, sameness, sizing, originality, repetition, pricing, fit, and on and on.  

Onward this weekend with some serious relaxation and pool time, it's going to be a hot one. And a few sewing projects, including making a pair of shorts for a family member who said "oh here, can you copy these and make me a new pair and I need them in a week or so" Yeah, that's the kind of deep appreciation I get around here:)

Whew, I am in some kind of mood today, huh?   Must be the heat.

Happy summer sewing with whatever pattern you choose, I hope its a good one!
and now time for some ice cream.

Here's a super summery flower from the SunnyGal garden today. 

daisy 1

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Vogue 1353 pattern repeated - better in cotton voile

Time for my next summer pattern repeat which is Vogue 1353, a Kay Unger designer Vogue dress pattern which I was pretty hard on when I made it the first time. Part of that should be attributed to my choice of fabric, which was a lightweight cotton poplin that was a bit too stiff, and at the time I thought it would be much better in a really light cotton, a voile or lawn.

One day I came across this fabric and it was exactly what I envisioned after the first one.

V1353 red white dress in cotton voile

I always like a print that is white with one other color. A couple of years ago I made another red and white dress but I gave that one to my hairdresser so I have been thinking about making one since. This fabric popped up one day in an email from Fabric Mart, (where I have never ordered although I get the emails). It said it was a J.Crew fabric and came in a couple of colors, for a really low price, like under $ 5 per yard. I told myself I would order later that day, then promptly forgot and when I went back a day or two later it was gone. Oh well. Then the next day I walked into my local favorite Stone Mountain fabrics and there it was. Meant to be! This dress takes suprisingly little fabric but I actually was a bit short because it was only around 50" wide instead of 54" or 60" and the skirt with all the pleats running crosswise takes up a bit. 

Consequently I had to do a little cheat on the skirt pieces so I took a tiny pleat in the pattern piece on some of the pleats, which are about 4 inches wide so it wasn't noticeable. Here is the back skirt and I did the same on the pleats on the front piece, so that narrowed the skirt by about 5 inches in total which you can't see. Sometimes you really have to improvise with fabrics that seem simple.

reducing pleats

Front and back view
             redwhite dress frontredwh dress back
A few sewing notes. This very lightweight fabric needed something to provide a nice edge and crisp turn around the neckline but nothing that would show through so silk organza to the rescue. This is a very nice pattern that has all the pieces including those for the interfacings (much like the Vogue patterns I remember when I started sewing, every pattern piece you could need, separate lining pieces etc - they should do better with that now. And mark the damn roll line on jackets! as I have said many times before. That goes for all the pattern companies, Burda, Vogue, etc. ok, rant over)

I cut the organza interfacing piece and then use the paper pattern piece to make sure the shape of the neckline is still intact when I pin it on and then sew. I really don't like gapey necklines and this helps to avoid that.
facing example
I have no idea why I took this photo of trimming the neckline other than I am a trimming maniac. This neckline was trimmed, notched and then turned, pressed and understitched. In terms of construction order, I do the whole front with lining, the whole back with lining minus zip, sew up the shoulders, pull the backs through at the shoulders,  sew ip the side seams, then the zip and center back last. It might sound strange but on a sleeveless dress pattern that I have already fitted it is really fast.
V1353 triming neck seam, silk organza

Here is a closer look at all the pleats in the neckline and skirt. So perfect for a really lightweight fabric. One of the suggested fabrics is silk duppioni which I think would be a nightmare!

redwhite dress front det2

I lined the dress with cotton batiste which I bought on a separate trip to Stone Mountain. They have every possible weight of voile, batiste, lawn and it was kind of fun to see them next to each other for comparison. White cotton voile is nice but it would have been slightly sheer. I wanted a super lightweight floaty lining but not a see-through one :).  Here you can see the separate lining pattern pieces.

redwh dress insideredwh dress side

Back view on me. I love the neckline on this dress. If you remember the first version (here is the link to that post) I was kind of critical of the shape of the shoulder strap portion which I thought was too wide and chunky. So I took out about 3/4" in the width on this version, shaving off the outside edge and I hardly see a difference. I still think it is a bit chunky looking from the front, not really a delicate design in that area. But the back neckline I really like.

red white dress back copy
I guess the designer and I will have to differ on this point.
Here they are side by side. It looks really different to me in a solid vs. a print. Maybe that blue one is better than I remember!.  In any case, LOTS of fitting information in that post so if you are interested in this pattern click over to my old post and check it out.

Vogue 1353 front view 1redwhite dress front
I guess I should remind you of the wackadoodle pattern envelope for this one. Her clown wig is a bit distracting but perhaps they were trying to get you to look away from the fabric which is hideous to me. And another time when the fabric completely obscured the design.

Vogue Pattern V1353

OK, one more garden shot. Get a good look at anything blooming behind me because they are drying up fast. August is always the least attractive month around here, everything is pretty much bloomed out and most of the plants are gasping in the heat, like the rest of us.

V1353 red white front view 2

That is probably enough for this pattern, although it would be easily adapted into a very cool skirt. More pattern repeats to come but this was the one where I surprised myself in terms of sewing again something that I wasn't that thrilled with the first time. You are redeemed, Vogue 1353.

Happy summer sewing, Beth

and my very favorite rose in the garden. I would love to know the variety (planted way before my time) but whatever it is, it loves the heat and puts out these velvety big red roses all summer long.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Vogue 7693 dress in two versions: silk jersey and linen

For the last week I have been working with a very slippery silk jersey, and as I said yesterday, "we wrestled and I won." Silk jersey is slightly maddening but oh, so luscious. The color and the texture is gorgeous. Check out that bias cut skirt just moving a tiny bit in the breeze, so lovely to wear. I will show you the finished dress and work my way backward with some of the details.

Alice blue dress front

Yes, that is my friend and neighbor Alice who has appeared here before. She is going to a wedding this weekend in San Luis Obispo and asked me a while ago to make her a dress. She had a vibrant blue in mind and luckily we found this fabric (at Stone Mountain in Berkeley) which was perfect. Although when we were at the cutting table the woman asked what I would be making, and I showed her the pattern. She got that "better you than me" look. Like how are you going to get that neckline to stand up just right. I said I would figure it out (hoping for the best).

Here is the pattern I used. Not sure how old it is, I bought it and never made it but several years ago Alice was looking in my patterns and came across this - she thought it was just her style. Fast forward to now, I suggested this for her new dress and just like that we had an idea in search of a fabric. I was hoping for something easier to sew but that jersey was the very best color. 

Vogue 7693 pattern env

Rewinding again, I did make a muslin because she is very slim and yet very tall with a narrow waist and broad back. So sometimes I have had to add in bodice length but this time it wasn't needed. Which shows why if I start with a size 12 for me I have to shorten the bodice, particularly in the back (as I am about 4 inches shorter than her). Started with a size 12 and mostly took it in at the sides of the bodice and upper sides of the skirt, as well as some down the center back.

However, after the first muslin I was contemplating remaking the bodice in muslin again just to be sure. and she pulled out some very nice drapey linen that she had bought ages ago to use with some lessons from me on jacket-making. That never happened so why not a wearable test version?

Alice grey dress front

Which despite the rather somber color, actually is a great and wearable dress. I would not wear a dress in this fabric or color but I can see the appeal. 

How about some sewing details? This pattern is really confusing. Ok, I said it, I almost tore my hair out and I don't do that very often. Why? The front pieces are designed in a clever way so that the right front (on her right side) which wraps over the other side is not attached across the waist, and has a portion that is connected to the skirt but it is not very intuitive and I messed it up on the first muslin. But suddenly it made sense on the linen version which was very nice as I didn't want to make a mistake on the very expensive silk! I really didn't take any construction photos as I was just concentrating on finishing this in time and with the temperatures we have been experiencing I wanted to get my sewing done and get away from the steam iron. Even with air conditioning sewing is kind of hot work, don't you think?

Somehow in that very top photo it looks like there are ripples along the edges of the neckline but in person there are not. I think it is to do with the reflective properties of the silk, it has a satiny charmeuse look.
Here are a couple of late night dress form photos, no ripples although the color looks darker. I don't think the skirt lining has been sewn in at this point.  Sharp eyed readers will note my bulletin board in the background and get a hint at one of my Summer Pattern Repeats coming soon to the blog :)

                     blue silk on form2blue silk on form

Here is a look at the inside of the linen version. The bodice front pieces, which are different for right or left are self lined, which the pattern calls for. Plus there was plenty of fabric, and they kind of need to be as the ties show both sides. I put a black batiste on the back bodice, and then Bemberg rayon in grey for the skirt lining to keep the slippery quality a skirt lining needs. Another point, the skirt pieces are cut on the bias. The only way to get that fantastic drapey look in a fabric like that.

   Alice grey dress front and back lining

For this linen version, I put strips of fusible interfacing on the lining pieces around the neckline and down to the ties. That worked really well and gave the collar and edge a nice crisp finish (along with some serious pressing and under-stitching). 

For the silk version I tested, tested, tested. I usually play around with interfacings, stitch length, and other details with scraps before I get going on the real deal, so for this one I tested out some fusibles, and to see how the silk pressed, if it would give sharp crease. Yes, it pressed like a dream. Fusible just didn't work so I used silk organza for the edges on the silk version. I sewed it to the lining, after pinning it on and then placing the paper pattern piece over to make sure it hadn't stretched or distorted. I did use the Bemberg rayon lining in the entire bodice of the silk version as two layers of silk in the front seemed like it would be kind of warm and also maybe not hold the shape as well as I wanted. For the tie portion I put an overlay of silk on the side that was lining fabric to solve that issue. 

silk iinterfacing tests
1. testing super lightweight fusible with zipper
2. testing medium weight knit interfacing. 
3. testing how the layers sewed and pressed on the edge
4. Testing a hem option, 1/4 turned twice.

One thing I do when cutting out a fabric that looks the same on both sides is mark each piece as soon as I cut it out so that the whole garment is sewn with the same side of the fabric on the outside. On this silk I looked and looked and could not see a difference but wouldn't that be annoying if they were just slightly different in color or weave. I would notice an errant piece and it would drive me crazy. Better to be safe but that requires marking the wrong side of each piece.

silk markings
The green arrow shows the tiny chalk mark on the wrong side. For this tricky fabric I put the chalk marks in the top edge seam allowance of each piece. When I mentioned about that I wrestled with this fabric it is because it is so slippery. You can imagine how it goes, lining and fabric are sewn together and every time you put it on the worktable and let go it slips to the floor. Enough to make me crazy and resort to pinning it down in order to press portions of the bodice. 

Back views

Alice blue dress backAlice grey dress back

A closer look at the bodice front.

Alice grey dress closeup front

I think this is a beautiful color on her, pool blue is a perfect shade for a SoCal native and former competitive swimmer.

Alice dress front bodice only

I don't think I had sewn with silk jersey before, plenty of other silks including charmeuse and stretch charmeuse but jersey knit is so nice. Now I will be on the lookout for another one. Unlike a poly ity knit or rayon knit this has just enough heft so that you don't see bumps/ elastic / strapsetc under the fabric. Very nice!

Next up, something easy. T-shirt time or maybe I will finally make that swimsuit I keep yapping about.

Hope you are having a great summer and stay cool. You can see that my lawn is on its way out - not water to spare here for lawns and I have to water the good stuff like hydrangeas and gardenias. 

Happy summer sewing, Beth

Today's SunnyGal garden photo - these gladioli are long gone, bloomed a few weeks ago but such a great color while they lasted. 

purple glads