Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Questions and Answers, Swaybacks, and Stashoholism Confessional

I've had a few questions in comments lately so I'll try to provide some answers. I don't know everything by a long shot!

Holly had several questions on my post about BWOF 03-2009-102, the empire waist knit dress:

I'm new to reading sewing blogs and I'm scared. Here's why:

1. I don't know how to order BWOF;

2. My sewing machine only sews straight and zigzag stiches;

3. I keep seeing some sort of grid thing you guys use when working with patterns and I don't have one of those.

Any advice you could give me would be great, especially if you could please tell me how to get the pattern for the dress you just made.

Side1. BWOF is distributed in the United States by GLP News. It's $80 for an annual subscription, with 6 month and 3 month subscriptions available for a modest $3 premium over that rate ($43/6 mos, $23/3 mos); if you are a new sewist I might recommend one of the shorter subscriptions to see if you will enjoy sewing where you have to trace the patterns and the instructions are not always very good. I heart BWOF, but I would probably have found it discouraging in the very early stages of sewing.

This seems expensive at first blush, but it is actually an incredible bargain if you sew enough to make it worth it. It is under $7 per issue, each issue has around 40 patterns (the description says 60 but I'm not sure where they got that number), so we are talking like 17 cents per pattern. Now, in reality, I generally end up making 2-3 patterns per issue but that is still less than $3 per pattern. A very reasonable price for fashion-forward sewing delivered to your door every month! BWOF is the only magazine I subscribe to and I look forward to it every month. (This reminds me that I need to renew my subscription.)

2. A straight stitch and zig zag is all you need! I didn't get a serger until about 8 months ago and I've been sewing for over 20 years. Use your straight stitch on wovens and a slight zig zag on knits and you're good to go.

3. The grid thing is just a cardboard cutting mat, available for around $20 at Joann, Hancock, or any other fabric store as well as online. I put it over my table to protect the table and make it easier to cut. Plus, the scissors are so loud straight on the table! I do find the grid useful for measurements and use the bias markings for cutting bias strips, and recommend it as basic sewing equipment, but it's not necessary. I should do a sewing glossary post on basic sewing equipment...

4. Unfortunately, the pattern is available only in the March 2009 issue of Burda [World of Fashion]. It is an excellent issue--you can check it out here--that would be worth acquiring. You might be able to find it on eBay or Etsy. Burda also says on its archive page that past issues can be purchased in German if they are still in stock. (This means the instructions would all be in German.) You can also check (and post a want ad) on the PR Classifieds. There are several back issues on this website (I am not affiliated with it, have never used it, and cannot vouch), but unfortunately neither issue that Holly or Amy is looking for. Finally, you might contact GLP News. Occasionally people with subscriptions have had issues lost the mail (not me, touch wood) and GLP has been able to get them replacements, so I assume they have a very small stock of back issues. I hear tell of retail bookstores carrying BWOF; I've never chanced across it in any bookstores I've been to.

Amy also wanted to know about getting a back issue of BWOF:

I am sort of new to the Burda patterns. I saw one on a web site I really liked and have finally figured out it came from the BWOF magazine. Do you know where I can get a copy of the magazine or a copy of the pattern in it? It is from BWOF 07-2008 and is pattern number 108. Thanks for any help you can offer.

All my ideas are listed above. Hopefully you can find what you want!

Laura requests:

Hey, have you ever done a tutorial on sway back adjustments? If not, would you mind doing one? I've looked around and they're all different!!! But since yours works I'd love to know how you do it.

Swayback Adjustment

Basically, that's it. My swayback is directly below my natural waist (my bum is pretty high) so I go about an inch below the natural waist and fold out a wedge of about one inch at CB, tapering to nothing at the side seam. This naturally creates a curve in the center back, but you can make it more dramatic if needed (I have not found I always need extra curvature and I have a serious swayback). Where there is a dart, as pictured above, the lower apex (the nadir?) needs to be redrawn so that it is on grain with the rest of the dart.

The bummer about this alteration is that it adds a center back seam. There's no getting around it. I'd rather have the distraction of a CB seam than the distraction of fabric pooling above my sizeable rear, so I deal with it.

Lisette M asks

I love it! I love how it looks on you and your accessories are perfect with it. Is the necklace one of yours?, it is gorgeous.

Yes! I pretty much wear only jewelry that I've made. I've been so caught up in sewing the past several years, though, that I rarely make jewelry anymore except as gifts. I always bring my supplies with me when I travel because pliers are allowed on planes and I get so antsy just sitting there for hours in a cramped seat. I'm flying to Texas this weekend and will work on some new pieces. Maybe someday I'll even put something in my now empty Etsy shop. I do commission work, so if you have a particular piece in mind (or want to be surprised!) just get in touch.

And a question from Katharine in Brussels, just for kicks:

Question--are you growing your hair out? It looks a little longer.

I am just lazy!!!! When I moved to DC I went through three or four years of trying different stylists at all different price points ($30 Hair Cuttery which left me looking like a hammerhead shark with my hair right at my wide jawline and $90 fancy salons) and never finding anyone I liked. Finally I did.

There are two kinds of hairstylists. There are the ones who are perfectly made up and impeccably groomed who you want to look like, and there are the ones who have crazy insane jolie-laide (although frankly in my opinion just laide) hair who you know have vision. She was the latter. She had a buzz cut with big sideburns. I'm not kidding. And she gave me fabulous haircuts. I am a grownup professional and don't want to be too out there, but I always say, "Do NOT give me anchorwoman hair." She found the perfect balance between personality and anchorwoman. Then I went to see her a couple years ago and she said she was leaving the hair business to join the ministry. With all due respect, I needed her more than God.

So I was back to square one. I went to the Aveda Institute a few times for super cheap student cuts, but I got a mushroom head anchorwoman 'do one time and a girl who didn't know how to layer thin hair the second time and accidentally just cut it all off so I decided to get back on the salon circuit.

Thumbnail I got a recommendation to a co-worker and found Claire at Ilo. She is amazing. She gives fantastic haircuts and has a sexy voice and British accent to boot. She gave me the fabulous short haircut that I wore curly until it got too long in July of last year. She told me I'd have to come back every four weeks. Her cuts cost $90, so $110 with tip. No way was I going back every four weeks. I countered with 8. She agreed to 6. I, um, haven't been back. Yep, I haven't had a haircut since last July. I (irrationally, I hope) fear she will be mad at me when I go back so I'm procrastinating.

When I went to Claire the first time I hadn't had my hair cut in well over a year and it was long like this. I am sure she has had her share of bad experiences of people with long hair coming in *thinking* they want a really short cut and then crying and threatening to sue so she was a bit trepidatious in cutting it off. I told her it was that long due only to inertia. My hair is too thin and prone to breakage to grow long and it looks hideous that length. I always see old pictures with long hair and get all nostalgic but I have to remind myself that while it might, by some miracle of photography, look glowing and lustrous in the picture, in real life it was stringy and split practically up to the roots and frankly embarrassing to wear around all the time.

Bottom line, I am not intentionally growing my hair long and will get a haircut as soon as I find the courage to face Claire!


Here's a random link for you, the blog of 1000 Awesome Things. It's a list of everyday little things that make you happy. It has nothing to do with sewing, but it's sweet and I'm enjoying it a great deal.


G Street, 4-2-09

On Saturday afternoon I went to a party on the Red line. Since I was so close to G Street Fabrics' Rockville location and I needed a zipper I headed up to the White Flint station. Since this is not my usual G Street I felt I was totally justified in browsing the $2.97/yd table. Whether I was or was not, I found some fabrics I couldn't pass up. Since I can never pass up knit prints I got the red with huge circles and orange with swirls (I had a hard time getting them to look two different colors in the photos).

Paris, Day 4: Rodin Museum I love the huge print on the red, but the circles are in rows rather than randomly placed. For the first time ever, I am going to have to focus on circle placement in cutting. Normally I don't worry about highlighting the girls because there's nothing there to highlight, but red circles the size of dinner plates over my boobs would be too obvious even for me. I am not sure what pattern to use. I already have Vogue 8379, the DVF-ish wrap dress, in a similar fabric (though with a smaller scale print). So I don't want to do anything too similar to that. Suggestions welcome!

I am thinking Butterick 5079 (technical drawing at right) for the orange swirls. There are only a few pattern reviews of this one and nobody seems to absolutely love it, but it appeals to me that it is a semi twist dress that is not really a twist dress. And of course, there is that ruching at the midriff! My new favorite thing. I think the versions that have been made are cute. And plus, I own the pattern so I should make use of it!

The black fabric is a casual tiered-look lace with a bit of stretch. It looks like it has some cotton content; I haven't done a burn test, that's more by way of describing its level of casual. I have already made some of it into a short sundress with spaghetti straps--one of the holes in my wardrobe I recently discovered--and I'll make the rest into a casual black summer skirt. I'm not going to pretend I don't already own 5 or 6 black skirts, but none of them are casual summer skirts. So, ya know, I neeeeeeed one.


Trudy Callan said...

This was such a wonderful post with so much great information. Thank you. I have been wanting to try out Burda World of Fashion; so I love coming to your site to look at your creations. I have two issues but am considering getting a subscription.


Cynth said...

Word to the wise on Butterick 5079. I made it a while back in a cute black and white rayon jersey print that I found (incredibly) at Hancock Fabrics. 5079 is, how do I say, quite ample in the bust and difficult to alter after the fact. So my advice would be to cut a size smaller than normal for the top and make a muslin! Mine ended up not quite a wadder, but a bit dowdy because of the bust issue.

Elaray said...

I'm a BWOF disciple. I'm glad you posted the information of BWOFs. As a disciple, my job is to preach the BWOF gospel and win converts. You made my job easier!

ruth219 said...

I've lived in DC for my entire adult life. Denise Sharpe at Lux Studios in Bethesda, right on the red line, is the only person who not only doesn't yell at me when i don't come back for 6 or 8 months....instead, she looks at my grown out hair and says: "hey, i did a great job last time, i can still see it now." she really means that.

Contact information:
Email: denise.sharpe@yahoo.com
All appointments and cancellations must be made by calling (301) 907-6810

Holly said...

Thank you for the thoughtful reply to all of our questions, it was fun to read and I it looks like every day there are more "newcomers" who are new to the online sewing community even though they have been sewing many years (and often as a solitary pursuit). Reading these blogs has given me so much inspiration to sew. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Oh how I feel your pain with finding a hair stylist. I've lived in Atlanta, GA area for 13 years now and still haven't found the right person to look after my hair. Nobody can figure out how to work with my fine, sort of wavy hair. My best stylist ever was while I lived in Springfield, VA. I found the web site for the salon which is www.thekindestcut.com , but it doesn't look like Dana is there anymore. Good luck finding somebody that can do a good job at a reasonable price for you.

Sue said...

Thanks for the swayback adjustment tutorial. I need it sometimes and sort-of knew how to do it but that clarified it for me.

mochimo said...

Ah, hairdressers :-( I'm happy to say I haven't seen any in (let me think) 7-8 years at least. Ah, the joy of long, wild, ungroomed hair!

Anonymous said...

You could maybe do a shirred-bodice summer dress with the red circle fabric. I've been looking at tutorials for ages and have not quite had the courage to start yet but they seem to suit a lot of figures! Love your blog, you always look fabulous.

Katharine in Brussels said...

Hi Trena! Thanks for answering on your stylist odyssey. It is such a battle to find a good one and in the DC area, reasonably priced. I have to find a new one too as the previous one, of the 'sauve' school (totally love the stylist you used to have, with sideburns) did a poor job layering last time even though I came in on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. I had a good stylist in Flanders where I used to live, but I've forgotten so much Dutch now that language is a barrier! Shoot!

Vivienne said...

Hey Trena,

I have a used, free copy of the BWOF 07-2008 Amy is looking for, if you're able to let her know. Or can tell me how to tell Amy.

That's right. I seek Amy!

I recently went 14 months without a haircut due to free spirited dislike of making appointments combined with loving a stylist you need reserve 4 weeks in advance.


Nancy K said...

Great post. You find the best dress patterns that I never would have looked at. This is a knit dress with a back zipper! Are you going to leave it out? I can't think that it really needs it. The back drape would need to be rethought. I bought another one you reviewed. I never wear dresses but this is a great dress for the summer, and I am thinking cool and easy to wear might be very nice. The drape hides less than perfect middle.

Kristy said...

Great post, I'm still laughing at your comment re needing you hair stylist more than God does. Just wanted to add that BWOF mags don't become available until 2 - 3 months later down here in Australia, so if anyone misses a recent copy there a chance it can still be gotten if they ask an Aussie sewist nicely!

laura said...

Thanks for the swayback info! Purse making is wearing me out so I'll have to make something where I can use this tip. I pay 45.00 for a cut AND foiling (blonde streaks) and even though I just moved an hour and a half away it's worth the trip back home for that kind of deal.

deb said...

Go figure, I've read your blog for awhile and my first comment here is about hair, not sewing! Recently I didn't get hair cut for 4 months -- in the beginning, due to getting tired of paying for highlights, not liking the cut, and trepidation of finding a new stylist. After 10 weeks, the delay was because my hair looked horrible but I didn't want to explain to a new stylist why I wasn't keeping my looks up! Anyway I found a great new stylist and all is OK.
That Vogue dress is cute and you have the most perfect shoes for it!

Anonymous said...

Single issues of BWOF are available from sewbaby.com. For mother's day my DH and kids got me the 3 month subscription after I've test driven a few issues through sewbaby. It is pricier to by just one but a good way to get a feel for the mag and buy an occasional issue.