Monday, August 30, 2021

Sew sustainable dress and top

During this past 18 months I have purchased very little fabric and yet sewn quite a few items. It seems this was the year when everyone was stuck at home during various lockdowns, and deciding to do a bit of destashing. So quite a few people said "do you want this?" and most of the time I said yes. Needing to sew samples for my Hello Stitch classes for the past few years has used up some fabric in my own stash and I just can't resist if someone has a lovely jewel colored piece of fabric. Sometimes I hit the jackpot - this jacket was a fabric that someone gave to me and I wear it a lot. I belong to a local sewing group and they have occasional stash sales, so recently I added quite a few nice things to my fabric inventory. 

When a fabric costs me just a few dollars and is something I picked up on a whim it seems ideal for using to sew up patterns that are a bit of an experiment for me. This past year I've tried a number of shapes and silhouettes that haven't made it to the blog. So one upside of this weird year has been the time to experiment and not really care how things turn out. Just sewing and having something to pass the time has been great.

So that is a long way of saying that I've made a dress that I don't really like and will probably not wear, or maybe it will be a beach cover up when the opportunity to travel returns. The colors are great but the fabric is not really my preference and I have no idea what it is, other than probably more than a few years old. Sometimes you can tell by the smell of a fabric, and also I think it was a strange width. Anyway I made a dress from a recent Burda magazine - although I changed it up considerably. But the basic style of it could fall into the nap dress, or buffet dress category. ( If you've watched the recent British Sewing Bee that's the term they used and I like it!) 

Burda dress 4

This pattern (Burda 07/2021 # 120) has a darted bodice with a center front that extends straight down to the hem, and then the skirt is a gathered rectangle seamed at the center back. It's meant to fit loosely as you can see in the drawing. I left off the sleeves because summer dresses and sleeves don't mix for my weather. Then I decided the neckline was a bit boring so I gave it the same treatment as a dress I made in the summer of 2019. A dress that I adore and love to wear, and one that I redesigned on the fly to have the cutouts front and back. 

2021 image copy

Burda dress1

In fact now that I am looking at these pictures maybe I will cut it off and make it a top, perhaps with some cropped pants I might wear it. Because those are definitely my colors!

pink blue nap dress 1

But there's more - This was quite a long piece of fabric that I purchased for a few bucks, enough to try out a top as well.
And to continue my trouser experiments with the Tatjana Trousers pattern from Just-Patterns. 

Pants 2

A couple of posts ago I showed how I removed the pleats from the front of the trousers and made some shorts.   The fuller legs are ideal for a walking short style but now I wanted to make a slim leg pant so I continued with my modified (pleat-less) pattern pieces and used another Threads magazine article to narrow the legs. Here's the link to that article on the Threads website which is available (not behind their Insider paywall). I found it really helpful, there are probably a few methods to achieve this but I liked how it worked. I printed it out and stuck it in my special binder of things to keep  - which also includes my first welt pocket lesson and my first zip fly notes :)   Here's a look at the diagram in this article. They do a really good job with their diagrams I think. 

Diagram pants narrowing

Diagram narrow pants2

And a look at my my scribbly calculations for my adjustments. Sometimes I long for the metric system in sewing but I will never get there, my brain thinks in 1/8 of an inch!

Here's the back which I have lightened up considerably as black pants are never easy to photograph. While the fit might not be perfect I'm fairly satisfied. Time to mention that I have a considerable asymmetry due to spine issues which I hide for the most part in my sewing but is a nightmare for pants fitting. So in the words of the song, I choose to "let it go" and fit them well enough without going crazy. 

Back pants lightened

So these pants were kind of a test, I have plenty of black pants so I really didn't need another pair but they are wearable and now I'm ready to make some others this winter. 

The top is also from Burda, it's 08/2021 #109.  Another thing I'm ambivalent about. I did add bust darts which were fine but the armholes are too low for me and the whole thing is kind of droopy. If I sew it again, which I might, I will take it up by 1/4" at the shoulder seam and that will do it. 

Burda knot top1

Knot front top Burda image

The stripe version is cute and it doesn't take much fabric so I will keep the pattern pieces for future scrap busting opportunities. 

B;lack pants3

So that's the latest on my summer sewing. Which has been all over the place but after so much stay at home time I feel disinclined to sew up new clothes for myself when some of the recent ones have not even been worn.  

Up next, I'm making a summer birthday sundress, which I will wear! she says determinedly.  And starting in on some sample sewing for upcoming classes at Hello Stitch Studio. We're planning a 6-week online jacket making class starting in October. We scheduled some in-person classes for introductory sewing and they are all sold out - which is very gratifying. I think once we get back in the swing of things we will have more in person classes as well as continue with the online classes which were really well received. 

Now time to either nap or go to a buffet. Just kidding, I'm off for a swim as it's again around 100ºF here today. And pray for some rain which is very unlikely - better to hope for no wind and some luck for our brave firefighting crews here in the golden state. 

Burda dress2

Happy Summer Sewing,

The garden is limping along with the drought and I'm glad I have planted so many California natives which tolerate this water shortage. Here's a great example, this penstemon which has gorgeous pink blooms. And I've succeeding grown another one from a cutting! Free plants - so happy about that. 



  1. Well I think your dress is gorgeous.

  2. Dress reminds me a little of that 1-Hour 1920s dress...Really hard to make it a standout but super comfy to wear....
    FIT has an interesting video on it as part of their Roaring Twenties/Swinging Sixties exhibit

  3. Definitely your colours and I think both items look terrific on you. I love that style dress and lucky friend if you don't keep it. I love the back hole with the ties... I'm going to use that.

  4. You have been busy! I love the fabric you chose for the dress and top and I hope you selvage the dress. So understand the not wanting to sew since you're not going anywhere. Although now that I'm going into work 2-3x a week, I do have more opportunities to dress which of course has made me want to sew. However, I do need to get my act together and learn to sew for the staying home me.