Saturday, September 26, 2020

Sewing...why? a few more summer tops

The title of this blog post kind of sums up my feelings lately. A whole lot of why. Like my fellow N. California quarantinos (just saw that nickname recently and I love it) we aren't doing much in terms of going out other than necessity or very limited socially distanced gatherings. So it's been a super weird summer but things are looking better. Last night I finished my first class for our Hello Stitch Sewing Club, and despite the limitations of distance learning it was fun and I hope useful. Like my in-person classes at Hello Stitch, I tend to sprinkle each session with extra tips on fitting or useful techniques for better results. The next class for October is a basic button-front shirt (you can use any pattern you have). I think shirts are a great garment for learning all kinds of techniques and a good project for someone who is familiar with the sewing machine and sewing simple items. 

However my end of summer sewing is not a button front shirt - wearing something with a collar and sleeves sounds stifling as we continue to have heat waves. I made three different tops using fabrics from my stash and two aren't my favorites but one will be repeated next summer. If I were playing baseball that would be a good batting average but this is sewing and I want everything to work out :)  

First up is this top from Burda, the June 2020 #114.  I saw my far away sewing pal Ellen show this and it had already intrigued me, so I sewed it up with the fabric remaining from my recent Cielo top. I don't think it is a success, but it's not bad and I'll keep it and see what I think next summer. It was really windy and tricky to photograph, you can see that the arms are open and flutter a bit. Maybe it's the neckline which I don't love, I will have to think of something else. 

Blue flutter sleeve voile top

Blue voile flutter sleeve top composite

Burda June 2020-114 tech drawing

Next up is something I like a lot more. This fabric was also in the stash, a remnant from a previous top shown here. 

Ruffle tank top red 2

Burda ruffle tank composite

I have seen a few versions online of this sewn up and I think I made the ruffle too narrow, most of the ones I've seen show the ruffle cascading a bit over the shoulder, which I think is a more interesting look. I will probably make this again next summer. it would be really nice in silk crepe de chine, which would give just the right drape. 
This top has my nemesis, which are ties that you have to make by sewing a tube and then turning right side out. 


Honestly - this is one of my worst sewing skills. I almost never have success with this and often end up sewing it by folding, pressing and topstitching. I think this one worked because the fabric is so soft. 

Burda tank top tech drawing

Here's the image from the magazine. This is Burda June 2020 # 106. Super quick to sew. Can you believe this is the 4th item I have sewn from this issue?  The other ones were my blue jumpsuit and the less than successful tunic top.  There are a couple of other things in the issue I really like, but they will go on the back burner until next spring. 

Lastly I wanted to try the Lola top from Fibremood again, without the front ruffle. and so here it is. 

Pink lola top front and back

While I thought the first version with the front ruffle was too much, now I think this one is a little plain. Oh, just like Goldilocks - never satisfied.  Actually I think the front needs something, perhaps a keyhole or other feature to echo the back opening. (Which reminded me of this dress which I made last year and think would also make a good top version, another one for my endless "to-sew" list).

Lola top in pink voile

That's the latest for my stashbusting summer top sewing. I just started a pair of corduroy jeans ( ! ) and despite the forecast for 103℉ tomorrow there is a hint of autumn in the air so next season sewing will commence soon. 

It's been a weird six months and I'm starting to dread the coming winter, but I did find this series of posts very interesting and helpful. (which was shared widely and is also a newspaper article?). Autumn is my least favorite season, it gets colder, darker, the garden is tired and I just feel uninterested. Earlier in life I think this season is more interesting, with school starting, the fun of Halloween, fall sports, etc. but as an adult I just find it blah compared to the glory that is spring and summer. To each their own right? with many people proclaiming joy at the end of summer, to my dismay 😉.
So combine the end of summer with the sixth month of stay-at-home and it's getting very wearying. Plus the election looming, I just want to say wake me when it's over and we have a new president (please!). But enough whining, the air is clear, cross our fingers for no more new fires in N. Cal and we will get through it all. 

Ruffle tank top 1

Happy Sewing and stay well,

Today's garden photo, here is a mallow that I planted a few years ago, purchased at the local junior called horticultural department sale. It's now over 5 feet tall so a success. And scroll down to see my latest purchase at Costco which means my work is cut out for me when the weather cools down and the soil softens up. 



Sunday, September 13, 2020

Fabric stash find for my annual birthday dress

One thing we probably all have learned during this extended stay-at-home time is the value of a good stockpile of fabric. I have the usual stash of notions, fabrics and other sewing supplies. I tend to buy fabric at stores such as Stone Mountain that I'm going to sew up right away. When I find fabric at garage sales, swaps, sewing guild fabric destash events, or even fabric that is given to me, that goes in the fabric storage closet for just the right project to come along. 

However this fabric is something that I bought around seven years ago? maybe longer. I was on a cotton sateen kick then and Fashion Fabrics Club had a lot of nice printed sateens so I ordered quite a few one year. Slowly I've been using them up and this seemed like a good match for a pattern I've also had for a while.

Burdaeasy dress11

This is a pattern I bought ages ago on the BurdaStyle website, and I knew that I printed out the PDF but I couldn't find it. I searched all through my desk and closets, combed through my computer and yet it was still missing. One day earlier this summer I mentioned to my friend Halyna (@zigzagstitching) that I was searching for a Burda sundress pattern and she replied "oh the one that you gave to me?" Aha, that's where it went! I knew I had printed it out. So she gave it back to me and I finally sewed it up for this year's birthday dress.

Yes, my always near Labor Day birthday has come and gone, and no tropical beach vacation this year so I will have to make up for that in the future. To be quite honest - 6 months of this stay-at-home, life isn't back to normal is taking a toll on my mood, and the stress of approaching winter, the election on the horizon, and the gloom and sadness of all the west coast fires are combining to make everyone even more on edge than before. It almost feels like a year without summer - we had the heat and sunshine but not much of the usual fun of travel, seeing friends and family, going to barbecues and just enjoying things. Fellow Americans - get your act together!! so we can go back to normal(ish) life. 

Back to sewing details. Here is the pattern which I think is no longer available on the website. 

Burda Easy sundress

I did change the straps, and also added a belt. Otherwise it is just like the pattern. I think they also had a version with cap sleeves which would be nice. 

Burda easy sateen dress on form

Who doesn't like a dress with nice big pockets that are part of the design? Kind of irresistible.
Note that I took some of these photos with my iPhone and others with my digital camera, it's interesting to see how different the color comes out. I think the camera ones actually have better color and the iPhone does too much auto-correcting which I suppose I could adjust but will probably ignore. 

BurdaEasy sundress1

Burda easy side and back

These pockets are ideal, they remind me of those on my favorite Butterick 5455 pattern, a dress I've made so many times, (here and here). And now you can see the interesting detail on the back bodice, which is a section of shirring that is intended to give a nice snug fit. It worked OK on this, I think because cotton sateen is quite a thick fabric the shirring with elastic thread didn't draw up the fabric as much as it would do on a thinner fabric. 

Burda easy dress7

Burda easy dress back elastic

There's a good look at the back shirring, that center back piece is a separate one, that you sew with the elastic thread and then attach to the side back pieces. The front and then the side backs have a facing. The shirring section is turned under and stitched to finish the top edge. 
I thought it needed a bit more tightening in that section so I stretched and stitched on a piece of quarter inch elastic which did the trick. I am all about the quick no one will ever see them fixes on my summer dresses. 

Burda easy dress inside back elastic

Burda easy dress6

One of my favorite things to make with certain dresses is a belt from the same fabric. My sister found that nice pearly white belt buckle so I had that in my box of notions as well. Save those belt buckles - they can be very handy. Sometimes I buy a belt at the thrift store for a couple of bucks just for the hardware. The proportion seemed to call for it so I made this belt a bit wider than the buckle and just pleated it where it attached to the buckle. I think this is one of the fun things about making your own clothes, these little details that you get to decide, where to stitch, how big a hem, pleats or ruffles, a pattern hack here or there. It's the customization that makes sewing really fun to me. 

Burda easy dress belt closeup

The buttons are not a perfect match but they were also in my button box, and I feel very virtuous and thrifty when I use vintage buttons I have instead of making a special trip to buy some buttons. My sewing machine has the setting to make those little eyelet holes and it's very fun to do. I always make a few test ones just to make sure I like them. The key to a nice belt is plenty of interfacing. I also make at least one loop for the end of the belt to go into. Sometimes on a very fancy dress I will put a snap underneath the end of the belt so it stays exactly in place. 

Burda easy dress 13

So that's the latest on my not quite last summer dress. I have one more that I just finished which is a winner but will also be put away until next year. 😞

I hope everyone is staying well and coping with this stressful summer - my fellow west coasters - let's pray for rain and an end to these terrible fires. Little danger here near me but the air is incredibly bad over all of N. California and Oregon going on for a week now. Wednesday was the weird day when we actually had to use lamps at noon and the sky was a dark and eerie orange all day. What else? NO don't answer that.......

Last week was my first session of our Hello Stitch Sewing club class, it was really fun to get back to teaching some classes. Not sure what we will do in October, maybe a button front shirt or cozy stay at home separates - haven't decided yet. In any case we plan to do a different garment every month so I hope you can join in. Hello Stitch Studio , you can get their newsletter or follow in IG for updates. 

Burda easy dress8

The state of my garden is dry and fading. I hope to get out there and do some cleaning up if our air improves. By the way - I think this is my 5th quarantine haircut, self-administered. I think I will make it for the duration! 

See you soon, stay well and happy sewing,

Today's garden photo - a beautiful hydrangea from June. 


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Resort wear dreams: Jumpsuit from the cover of Burda June 2020 #101

Once in a while the new issue of Burda arrives and immediately I want to make the item pictured on the cover. However I rarely do it, as other things start to catch my eye. This time I traced out the pattern and to test I sewed it up in a quilting cotton. Not the ideal material but something I had in my stash. That accomplished I actually ordered some woven rayon to use for the real jumpsuit. Despite a lot of fabric in my stash there was nothing suitable so I ordered from Fabric Mart and the print with the vertical striping was ideal.

Blue jumpsuit 3

As patterns go this is really easy to sew up. I wanted to check if the pants fit would be right so I compared the pieces to my Emerson pants which have a similar loose fit. The length of the rise was very similar so I didn't have to do a lot of adjustment for this pattern, I made the bodice portion in size 38 and the bottom half in size 42 - blending at the waist so they joined up.

Jumpsuit Burda Magazine pattern image

Here's the pattern photo and the line drawing. The pattern is June 2020 #101. Their version is ankle length but I think that looks terrible on me so I lengthened a lot.

jumpsuit front on form

jumpsuit front tie

This pattern is designed for the knot to be loosely tied, so that the sides can fold and drape over the hips. I've seen some versions where the knot is tied very tightly and to me that looks a bit strained. I think also if you are quite tall then the bodice may need to be lengthened so that the drape can cover the front elastic waist.   Can you see that I had to piece the fabric on one side? The two fronts are cut with the tie as part of the bodice, and with lengthening the pants I was a bit short on fabric. So I pieced the end of the tie with a french seam there and I think it hides well enough.

There's a look at the front waist and how the bodice folds under at the side seam to create the tie and draping. I think this is such a clever and yet simple design, I will definitely make it again next summer and perhaps even a dress version.

jumpsuit inside waist tie


Not quite resort location, more like the backyard swimming pool at my parents house. Which I really appreciate this summer and especially this week - as I write today the afternoon temperature is around 110℉ which seems par for the course for this very weird summer. Not that we don't occasionally have heat waves but the staying mostly home has made for a very hot and boring summer here in N. California without a lot of the options we might typically have (like going to the movies or a nice chilly restaurant). Growing up with a pool I started swimming very early but the idea of swimming for exercise has eluded me. Not this year - with the gym closed and the smokey air making walking unpleasant I feel fortunate to have this alternative.

Returning to sewing, here's the back view. The back top blouses at the waist, perhaps more than in the pattern pictures as I am shorter, but for a jumpsuit it makes it quite comfortable when you sit down!

jumpsuit back


One other change I made on this pattern is to reshape the neckline front and back. When I made the test version I thought the tank top was a bit chunky - not very elegant looking and it needed some reshaping. To find a nice neckline I looked through my photos and realized that using this dress pattern would be a good way to reshape the neckline. Also I have to restrain myself from wearing that dress for any and all occasions that require a summer dress - I think it is my favorite of the last few years.

jumpsuit side view on form

And what about getting in and out of this number for a bathroom break? Well one benefit of widening the neckline is that I can pull it up or down over my hips and shoulders without unfastening the back. Although be warned untying the knot in front is necessary.

jumpsuit snap back closure

The back has a short slit opening to make it possible to get in and out, although as I mentioned with my neckline change I can just about do it without undoing that snap. As seen in my other posts, I don't like those loop/button things so I always make a little tab and sew on a snap, I think it stays flatter and then the closure is hidden. 

Here's my tip of the day:  another little thing I like to add to anything that has shoulder straps or sometimes in a tank top shape such as this are the little straps that hold the top of the shoulder in place on your bra strap. I just make them out of the fabric if it's thin or I use a piece of ribbon. My realization one day is that to make it easier, I first sew the snap on the garment, then sew the snap on the end of the strap, then snap together and then lastly sew the end of the strap down on the garment. This way you can make the strap part the right length. This makes it SO much easier than sewing the strap on and then having to place the snaps. 

jumpsuit shoulder snaps


So that's the latest on my summer jumpsuit. They also show it in the magazine as a romper which I am tempted but I think it's too late in the season for that. Maybe next spring. 

Next week is the first session of our Hello Stitch Sewing Club (which is a  virtual class in the evening.) We've had lots of sign-ups which is great and I'm glad the studio is able to stay in business during this crazy time, at least in some capacity. And crossing our fingers that things turn around soon so we can all get back to our regular lives. And travel to a resort somewhere :) Meanwhile I will make do with the backyard resort and hope that the temperature is a bit less tomorrow. Forecast is for only 108℉ tomorrow - whew a whole degree cooler! (I jest because what else can we do except pray that the power doesn't get turned off due to fire danger). Oh this is absolutely the best summer ever, she says sarcastically.....

wishing everyone better days to come,

Happy Sewing,  Beth

Today's garden photo - some blue violas from earlier in the summer when things were still very green.
I used to plant pansies but decided I like violas better, they seem to do better and rebloom plus each plant has more flowers. Also they reseed and I find them popping up in random spots which makes me smile.