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!


Thursday, July 19, 2018

So Over It Eve wrap dress in rayon woven

Recently my sewing has been all about the wrap dress. Well, that is not entirely accurate, as I have about a zillion projects currently in progress. Sure, that is also an exaggeration but some days that's what it feels like. I just completed a dress from the May Burda magazine for myself, I made a pattern and from a pair of pants that I bought a while ago and liked the fit, I have several projects in the works for my friend Heather including a very sexy sleeveless black stretch denim version of this dress, AND then some wrap dress sewing in anticipation of a class I'm teaching in August at Hello Stitch.

I'm still regretting that I sewed up the knit wrap dress of the previous post in a slightly too small size for myself, but I will make up for that soon by sewing that vintage Vogue DFV dress pattern I snagged a few months back for the amazing sum of 25 cents. I'll revisit that one sometime, but in the meanwhile I also sewed up a dress to play around with another wrap dress pattern, and to have this example displayed at Stone Mountain Fabrics and promote the class.

This is the  Eve wrap dress from Sew Over It patterns which is a UK pattern company. They stock the  paper patterns at Stone Mountain so you can buy in the US on their website or at the store.

blue dress edit2

I made this dress in their size 10 with no adjustments and the fit was quite nice. I was really sewing it for a display item, but could you resist trying it on? not me! Plus it felt so unusual to have something at that hem length. If I were to make it for myself I would definitely shorten it as it feels like a lot of fabric. Perhaps I'm just not used to that length. And it does take a good bit of fabric.

However it does feel like the perfect dress for going to a tea party on a lawn somewhere, an event that I have never attended nor am likely to. (Also tea  - eek, I can't stand tea! do they serve coffee also at tea parties or perhaps something a bit stronger?)

Here is the pattern envelope. Usually those flutter sleeves don't appeal to me but I think proportionally they work really well on this dress, and give it kind of a 1930's style. Fabric choice is critical for this dress, it needs something that drapes really well. I used a woven rayon from Stone Mountain. I'm not sure if they have the exact one still available but I see lots of woven rayon prints on their website that would work perfectly. I'm obsessed with fruit prints lately and now I want this one. 


Here's a closer view, you can see that it has some shoulder yoke pieces in the front and there are gathers which create the shaping over the bust instead of darts.

eve wrap dress close up front

The pattern drawing shows it more clearly. There is also a waist seam front and back. In the drawing the wrap portions looks like it drapes at the waist but I didn't find that to be the case, neither on me or my dress form.


Eve dress in blue rayon1 close up view

I was pleasantly surprised at how the wrap actually wrapped, in that the center front met properly, the V wasn't too low, and the neckline was just about right. I could even see making this in a jersey knit, it wouldn't really behave all that differently and the neckline edge is stabilized with tape so you would do that same step with a knit to keep it in shape.  I was trying to slightly more serious in the blog picture - just for variety - instead of my usual grin. There is something about having my photo taken, I just can't not smile - excuse the double negative. And I think it looks a bit like an odd smirk. Ok maybe it's the week for weak double negatives and odd smirks and that is my political comment for the week - yikes - what a weird week it has been. Is it 2020 yet? Hang in there RBG is my other fervent wish!

Back to sewing stuff.
Note that I made the flutter sleeve version but used the skirt of the shorter version - and look how long it is on me. This is meant to be long I guess or just right for a tall person.

eve wrap dress front on form

So that's the scoop on this pretty wrap dress, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone makes in the upcoming wrap dress class at Hello Stitch.

Another fun class that is very soon (Sat. July 28)  Pattern Hacks: Add new elements to your existing patterns. I am really looking forward to this one, as you know I can't leave a pattern alone and I think it will be fun to show how to change darts, move seams, create color block elements and generally get more mileage from the patterns we already have. Sleeves! i almost forgot  - ways to redesign the sleeve. Next week I'll be combing through my files and photos to prep for this class.

And one more look at that flowy skirt moving ever so slightly in the breeze. Check out that grapevine behind me, it's making a run for it over the fence, adds a lot of greenery and has never put out as much as one little grape. I keep it because it's pretty.

Eve dress in blue rayon1

Up next, a few of those things mentioned in the first paragraph, and then maybe a t-shirt and another dress from the Burda magazine. or maybe I will spend many days in the pool because it has been really hot lately - and even with AC temps of 100℉ for days in a row really does start to wear. I know I love hot weather, but somehow the difference between 92 and 100 seems so much more than merely 8 degrees!

Happy Summer Sewing and stay cool wherever you are,

today's garden photo, when the heat sets in most of the roses get a bit limp and this one is a bit meager with the flowers, but that color makes up for it.


Friday, July 6, 2018

Butterick 5454, a knit wrap dress and upcoming classes

It's a wrap! I find it difficult to write a post about sewing a wrap dress without using that phrase. So getting that cliche out of the way early, I can say that this pattern is a winner and wonder why I had it in my stash for so long without ever trying it. Because this pattern is adorable! and quite easy to sew.

knit wrap dressB5454 front

Of course it helps to use an interesting fabric. I had doubts about it when it arrived, too weird? too wild? strange color combo? I get emails from FabricMartFabrics but I had never ordered, I just signed up for the mail list because I like to see what's out there, however I have so many good options at my local fabric store (Stone Mountain in Berkeley) or online with Mood Fabrics that I had never ordered from Fabric Mart. But one email mentioned Hawaiian designer fabrics at a big discount and I had to see that. They were from my favorite resort wear company (ToriRichard) so I ordered 3 different fabrics. One I have already sewn up, which was McCalls 6069.

My only regret is that I didn't really make it in my size!!! I decided to sew up a knit wrap dress because we wanted to put a dress on a form in the window at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley where I teach the garment sewing classes. I have SO many dresses, I don't need any more, so I just cut and sewed the size 12 with no adjustments. So while it looks like it fits ok, it is definitely on the small side. Due the the magic of knits I can make it work for a photo but in real life I would add some at the side seams. The pattern has some interesting release darts in the skirt front and back, and at the front shoulder in place of bust darts so if those small darts don't lie flat but are pulling a bit it takes away from the design.
knit wrap dress

Butterick 5454 pattern envelope SaveSave

Here's the pattern envelope. I like to take a look and see the copyright date on these patterns that I've had for a few years, this one is dated 2010. So 8 years old but the dress looks completely current to me. I even like the little ruffle sleeves and might steal that look for a t-shirt.

B5454 knit dress sleeve


So a friend of mine will probably get this one when the season changes and we put something else in the window at Hello Stitch. The red dress is a woven cotton, and I sewed up McCalls 7745 which is cute on the pattern envelope, and has raglan sleeves. However it is a weird shape - not comfortable in the shoulders, kind of all wrong for me. So don't choose that one for the class! But there are plenty of other nice wrap dresses. I just also made the Sew Over It: Eve wrap dress, and that turned out very well, here's a look and I will do a blog post soon on this dress.

What classes are coming up next at Hello Stitch? I'm glad you asked :) It's already been a full year that I have been teaching there, and I have met so many interesting people. It's really fun to see people meet in classes and become friends there. Part of the fun of a sewing class is getting the opportunity to meet other people who share your interest in sewing but you might otherwise never encounter. You get to spend a day doing something you love, with help to conquer techniques that might have frustrated you in the past. I really like to show shortcuts or tips that result in sewing success and make it easier to achieve the result you want.  Here's whats coming up in the next two months.

Pants Clinic: Diagnose your Fit Issues   Sat. July 14, 10-4. We'll take measurements, choose a starting size, pin-fit the paper pattern, stitch up a muslin and adjust the pattern.

Pattern Fitting: Adjust the Bust   Sun. July 15.  This class is 2 sections, with 10am-1pm section spent learning all about how to measure, choose starting pattern size, doing the various bust adjustments, FBA, SBA, darted or princess garments, doing hands-on pattern adjustments using paper templates to practice, learn, take notes on and take home as reference. Then 2-4pm section is the optional fit lab (limited to 4 students) where I will help you adjust your specific pattern. You can sign up for just the classroom part only or take both. This will be my fourth session of this class and I have been gratified by the response - pattern adjustment can be so tedious but hands-on practice with no pressure of fixing your specific pattern can really help you get familiar with the adjustments.


Sew a Button Front Shirt: an evening class on two Tuesdays, July 17 and 24, from 6-9pm. You can use any pattern and I will demo all kinds of shirt details like how to attach the collar and band (two ways) sleeve plackets, buttonhole placement, and my top tips for shirt success.

pink placket top close up on form

Copy your Favorite Garment: Sun. July 22 10am-3pm. Oh I love to make a pattern from an existing garment. I think doing that is quite eye-opening whether you have been sewing a while or are just beginning. It's interesting to see shapes in ready-to-wear and you can learn a lot about what you like in terms of fit and design. I will demo a few different techniques and different types of garments and then you will have time to work on making your own pattern. I suggest a simple top, skirt or shirt for your first project.

Pattern Hacks: Add new elements to your existing patterns. Sat. July 28 10am-3pm. You may or may not use that term, pattern hacking, but it does describe what we will do in this class. I will show how to change up the patterns that you already have to make a new design, add or change details and take advantage of the patterns you already sew to create a new look. I will show you how to easily copy your original pattern, then how to change necklines, how to add plackets or make a popover top, move darts and change darts to gathers, how to add pockets, how to create color block details and how to combine parts of two patterns into one. I'm really looking forward to this one, as when do I sew a pattern as is - almost never!

color block example

Sew a Wrap Dress: Sat. Aug. 4 from 10am-4pm. Choose any wrap dress pattern and we will review all the common issues with sewing wrap dresses such as how to choose your size, how to adjust the bust and make sure it wraps properly, how to stabilize and do bias binding, and how to hem full skirts. You can use a pattern for a knit or woven.

Sew the Bondi Dress: Sun. Aug. 12, 10am-4pm. You can make this cute dress in a day! We're offering this class again as it looks so good on everyone and is a perfect dress for summer. Plus you can make it again when the weather cools down in a different fabric to wear over a t-shirt for a different look. We have all the sizes sewn up in the studio so you can try on to determine you correct size, then trace your size so you have the pattern to take home with you. If you are interested in changing up the neckline style I can help you with that too. 3 main pattern pieces and includes pockets. Told you it was the perfect summer dress :) Here's the link to my blog post of my own Bondi dress.

Bondi dress 1

So that's the schedule for the next month or so. Whew! I will be busy but I really enjoy teaching and meeting people. There are so many reasons to sew your own clothes, from wanting a custom fit, to choosing the exact color and style, or the satisfaction of the handmade process. I've spent a lot of hours throughout my life with just me and my sewing machine so it is really fun to expand on the social aspect of sewing.

I get a lot of comments here on the blog and on my Instagram that you would like to join a class if only you were in the same city, or even the same hemisphere. I would love to do some teaching in other places so if you want to get in touch and help organize I am open to the possibilities. I am reorganizing my jacket/coat class to be different this fall, more demos and examples along with helping everyone to construct their own garments so that would be great to take on the road. As for travel, NY, sure. UK or beyond - that would be fun. Sewing tools don't take up much space in the suitcase and leave plenty of room for some fabric shopping!

Classes in the fall at Hello Stitch - some of these mentioned above we will offer again, and then I have a hint about one that's not on the schedule yet - CAPES.  So many cute cape patterns out there and a perfect outerwear piece for any level of sewing.

Up next - no idea. I have a LOT of stuff in process, for myself and for a few people that I sew for. I might even finish a couple of Burda things that I've traced from recent magazines - they are so cute and I want to get to them before summer is gone. This weekend is the Bay Area Sewists Meetup where we do the Pattern Swap - a chance to see some good friends and trade patterns. Like I need any more patterns, ha.

Happy Summer Sewing,

today's garden photo, a hydrangea I planted last year, and it is finally putting out these pretty blooms.