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.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Burda 04-2018-105 shirt with dart details in cotton print

As any Burda subscriber knows, it's one thing to have the excitement of receiving that new issue in the mail, to page through it and imagine all the possibilities. It's then quite another to actually trace out and sew a pattern. Not that I don't want to - but there is a tiny bit of hesitancy.  The folded sheets are so neatly stapled, and not at this point likely to get lost. The other patterns on my shelf are calling to me. Those lovely tissue patterns from Vogue or McCalls which I can just open up and cut into without searching among the multi-colored pattern puzzle that is the Burda magazine sheet.

But in the end I convince myself to detach the staples holding those sheets, and search out the necessary pattern pieces for my selected item. And I'm always surprised that it takes me less time than I expect to find and trace. However - if the pattern of my choosing is "red lines" (you Burda users know what I mean) then I often think twice about it. The red seems the most difficult to trace. If my selection is the black lines I give a small yeah! of triumph. It's the small things in sewing that often give pleasure, right?

This is a long way round to say that I just sewed up a shirt from the April 2018 issue. One that I traced back last spring, actually started on another fabric, determined the fabric wasn't suitable and changed mid-construction to a different pattern. Which was the right decision for that silk.

But this pattern still interested me so I've sewn it up in a fabric that is really nice however again I have a slight issue - because the details are lost in this busy print. As soon as it was finished I resolved to make it again in a solid. Time will tell :)

blue shirt front on form

I bought this fabric 2 years ago at Mood in NY, it's a lightweight cotton, I suppose a cotton lawn but with a tiny bit of body and crispness which is perfect for a shirt. I love the color mix and find it works with so many things in my wardrobe, including this jacket which I've been pairing it with this week for an unintentionally patriotic look.

Burda blue shirt 2


Here's the detail from the magazine, so you can see that this shirt has this interesting dart detail down the center front which would show a lot more in a solid.

Burda version dart blouse

From the technical drawing page in the magazine and this light blue version from the Burda website you can see the dart detail. Another interesting feature is the sleeve, which has a seam at the elbow and then the lower piece flares out quite a bit so it can be gathered into the cuff. As I was tracing I wondered why it had the seam in the center back but looking at this version you can see that the seaming lines up in an interesting way. I wonder how it would look if I used two different fabrics and did a color block version?  Will have to give that some thought.

blue shirt sleeve detail

I didn't copy the cuff pattern pieces, I rarely do - I just make one up as I go along after I decide the length and see how wide I want the cuff.

blue shirt darts inside

Perhaps here you can see the dart detail a bit better. I have a really beautiful dark fuchsia color silk charmeuse which I got at Stone Mountain a few months ago, it would show off the details nicely however it is a stretch silk and sometimes crisp details like darts don't do as well with a stretch silk. I'll have to do a little test on a scrap.

blue shirt back view on form

blue shirt 5

Different day,  more pictures. Some days I take photos against a blank wall on the patio which has a covered roof that lets in 50% of the sunlight - at certain times of day the light is just right for photos but if I miss it by just a few minutes then the shadows are there. So I ran outside yesterday to take some more photos. This one was taken at high noon - yet no shadows at all due to the sky being covered with smoke. The sun was a red ball in the sky and it was so strange to see the whole bay area covered with grey - unfortunately the 2nd time in about a year this has happened. Last year with the north bay/Napa fires and this time the one near Paradise, Ca. The devastation is shocking and it's heartbreaking to see what people are going through.

Blue shirt with darts close up

This fabric has so many colors it in, I really like this type of abstract or splatter prints.

Burda blue shirt back view

blue Burda shirt close view

unintentionally matching blue nail polish :)

So that's the latest on my Burda magazine sewing. This morning I just stitched up a version of something from the November issue !!  Same knit top as KS_Sews has made. I like it a lot although I changed it to a crew neck instead of a wide boat neck (always cold neck so I like more coverage). Also this afternoon I'm teaching a knit top class at Hello Stitch Studio and I wanted to change the neckline to show how to redesign the neckband.
All my classes at Hello Stitch for the remainder of the year are sold out! We have LOTS on the schedule for Jan-Mar and I wrote about them in my previous post. If they're not listed on the website yet you can always call or email the studio to sign up.

ok, gotta run!

blue shirt 6

Happy Sewing, Beth

today's garden photo, a penstemon that is probably in the wrong place in the garden. Winter will bring some rearranging - at least if it ever rains around here.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Current projects and updates - a lot on my sewing table!

Is it Thanksgiving yet?  I feel the need for a vacation. Or just a week of doing nothing. Well that actually qualifies as a vacation...and the weather around here had been decidedly vacation-like. Around the bay area October is the month of year for clear skies, minimal fog and the optimal time for taking those gorgeous SF skyline and bridge photos with the beautiful setting sun giving everything an extra touch of the golden state glow. So I should not be at all complaining, but I am. Most days I can go outside for some exercise wearing shorts (no joke - it's turning all SoCal around here, climate change is the real deal) So complaining about being ready for a change of season, mild thought it might be. And ready for some rain...oh we always need the rain.  Meanwhile I'm sewing and teaching and thinking about when I can escape to Hawaii.

Speaking of travel - I am convinced I need to make it to London to see the Dior exhibit in 2019. Sounds like an amazing show so that is my plan for next year. Is it too early to talk about a sewing meet up in London? or even doing some sewing/fitting classes when I'm there? Let me know if you're interested. I haven't decided what month I will go yet so plenty of time to plan.  

As for sewing - I've been doing SO much lately. Although almost everything is in a state of semi-completion. For this post I thought I would show you all the stuff that is nearly done or planned for the remainder of this year. Although as of yesterday one of these is done and will be my next blog post :)

thread trace pleats

OH this silk wrap dress for Heather is dreamy.  It is all finished except for the hem and she is coming over tomorrow afternoon so I can mark the hem and stitch it up.
I did a more detailed post on fitting this dress a few weeks ago, here's the link.  This pattern Vogue 8784 is made for wovens and needed some fit adjustment plus I changed a few of the pattern details. I promise a full blog post with photos of her wearing it soon.

Another finished item that I will photograph tomorrow is this dress, also for Heather. I absolutely love it but I'm sure a heavy wool dress might not be for everyone. But the color is beautiful in person and she does a lot of business presentations to some very serious folks so it will be a perfect work dress.  This fabric is from our Britex shopping trip last spring.

Blue wool short sleeve dress for H

Speaking of Britex, we just went there again 2 weeks ago and one of the sales associates took this very nice picture of us. She was very specific about where we should stand and after I could see why - that's some very nice color coordination and contrast there!

At Britex

She bought a few fabrics, a wool for a blazer which might not show up in this image, it is very much a mixture of burgundy, blue and some flecks of other colors. Plus an amazing lining and some matching buttons.

Britex wool and lining

Also some silks for blouses and tops. I have some interesting patterns planned for these, including a Butterick that like so many is uninspiring on the pattern envelope but turns into a really pretty top.



Pattern for the blazer, I'm using the McCalls 6172 jacket. I am really  impressed with this pattern, it's a basic collar and lapel jacket but I think I mentioned a few weeks ago - it has the roll line marked and a few other nice details which make it very straightforward to sew.

I used a wearable muslin version in my Jacket construction class last weekend at Hello Stitch. I did one welt pocket there and then was working on the 2nd one yesterday. And I almost !! made it about 1 inch longer than the first. Don't ask...I got my marks mixed up and was just about to sew it when I couldn't figure out why the pocket flap was so scrawny. Duh! Hey I make mistakes although usually I can correct them and luckily this was a "just before I sewed it" realization so not a mistake.  You can see that the pocket markings on the lower one are longer, extend further beyond the seams. Perhaps looking at it in the camera is what made me notice it. Anyway I redid my markings and error averted.

blue welt pockets

Hey what about me? Yes I have squeezed in a few personal projects - including this Burda shirt which had a abbreviated audition last spring until I pivoted and stitched this instead. 



That's a sneak peek and you can see the dart details. Unfortunately the fabric I chose all but obscures them - the good news is that I really like the pattern and will make it again in a solid so the details are visible. This is the one that I finished the other day and have even taken photos, blog post soon.

The last couple of months I've taught quite a few classes, I think when fall arrives people are kind of done with vacation and travel, they are around and ready to do concentrate on new projects. I just did the Jacket construction class this weekend which is really fun for me - you know I love jackets and love helping people make them.

Weekend jacket making workshop collage

I was so busy all weekend and took very few pictures  - but I demonstrated a bunch of techniques and tips on interfacing, markings, welt pockets and pressing pressing pressing!  In the top left photo Susan is modeling her Yates coat in process, and I did a lot of adjustment on the sleeves for a perfect fit. The sleeve is just pinned on there but it is looking so good.

Upcoming classes at Hello Stitch, we have spots open in our Kimono Jacket class on December 1 (use any Kimono jacket pattern you like) . The rest of my classes for this year are sold out (Thank you!) and we have lots scheduled for Jan-Mar of 2019.  I'm doing  a jeans weekend workshop at the end of January- so during December I will be stitching up more jeans for myself and test out a few ideas I have. Also we will be doing some classes in Series - fitting/ dressmaking (intermediate) and a beginner series.  Plus Lander pants again (so popular) a Garment Copy class, Fitting Workshop,  and a Quilted Jacket class (Grainline Tamarack pattern or McCalls 7695)  All the details on these classes will be on the Hello Stitch website in the next couple of weeks, check their Garment Sewing Classes page.

So that's the latest - I have plenty to do, don't I?  This Saturday is a Bay Area Sewists meet up and this one is a Fabric Swap. Even thought I don't need any fabric it's always fun to go, see everyone and also just perhaps trade for the perfect fabric. Maybe?

Happy Sewing, Beth

here's today's garden photo, I can't recall the name of this plant but it has really interesting flowers, they start out as very tight white buds and slowly open to this golden center. I bought it a few weeks ago at Annie's Annuals in Richmond but I still haven't found the perfect permanent spot for it.