Friday, October 30, 2009

Second Birthday Dress: BWOF 12-2007-109

Thank you, everyone, for your kind comments on my birthday dress! I am overwhelmed!


I had to travel for work on my birthday, and not the good kind of travel, either. I was off to Las Vegas for a week for some particularly painful depositions and knew I'd be working like crazy. However, I was determined to do *something* to celebrate my birthday, hopefully a nice dinner out on the town in between working before and after. I didn't know how silk jersey would travel, and plus the casinos are always so smoky and you have to walk through them to get to the restaurants, so I didn't want to bring my "real" birthday dress. Time to come up with a quick backup!

I flipped through my BWOFs and came across 12-2007-109, which looks sophisticated but is made up in a knit. That deep inverted front pleat is great for tummy disguising and I loved the shawl effect of the sleeves. Because this is a knit, it was super-quick to trace out and sew.

BackI sewed it up in a subtly metallic jersey from stash (purchased way back when from the $2.97/yd table at G Street). Unfortunately, because I was in a hurry I didn't spend much time with the fabric in doing the cutting layout, and didn't realize it has a bit of a nap. I cut everything out in the same direction, but it is a little rough-feeling if you run your hand down the dress, and smooth if you run your hand up the dress. It would be nicer had I run the texture the other way, but it isn't uncomfortable to wear as the bodice and strap are lined with a softer poly knit.

Although the description of the sleeves says "The wide straps of this gown are tied in front before being attached to the back, creating not just a pretty neckline but also cap sleeves," this is not true in any way. There is no tying. The sleeve is sewn as a continuous line after threading through the keyhole, with the seam hidden inside the tab at center back. Nothing complicated there.

Bodice CloseupSo it's not any kind of actual twist, just a keyhole opening that you thread the strap through. The keyhole opening is drafted to be quite long. I shortened it some, but even still my bra shows through the opening a little (a flesh-tone bra helps).

The sleeves, alas, don't work as advertised. My metallicized fabric has a bit less stretch than your typical jersey, and is a bit stiffer, so I'm sure that has something to do with it. But unless you stand perfectly still without moving your arms the shawl sleeves are going to push up onto your shoulders. This makes the look a little less sophisticated and a little more Betty Rubble, but since this was for Vegas the less classy/more trashy thing was fine.

I just left the hem raw. I love that this is an option with jersey.

SeatedDespite working until midnight most nights, we did manage to take one night off and have a lovely dinner at Circo in the Bellagio. We had a smidge of a view of the fountains and the food was fantastic. I think there is more metallic clothing per capita on the Strip than anywhere else in the world (including a couple I saw in which the girl was wearing gold metallic leggings and the guy was wearing one of those tacky Ed Hardy shirts on which every line was limned in gold), so I fit right in.

This is another project photographed by Cidell, so there are some great photos! The pattern review is here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Birthday Dress 2009, Drape Drape #5

Well, my birthday was a long time ago now (August 31). I was working like crazy at the time (and in fact had to travel for work on my actual birthday) but I made time for a birthday dress!

Drape Drape #5 Thumbnail

You may recall that I had a lust for avocado jersey when I went to NYC in June. I didn't find any, but Elizabeth (eword10), with whom we met up for shopping, had my back and when she found some avocado silk jersey for $5.99/yd she snapped it up for me! I was so excited.

Drape Drape Dress #5When I went to Japan, of course I had to check out the sewing books and absolutely fell in love with Drape Drape. It has a lot of cool very Japanese designs that are conceptual and intellectual more than they are sexy, for the most part. Drape Drape Dress #5 is an exception with its very low cut front and back. The text is entirely in Japanese (although the numerals are Arabic, thank goodness). I am guessing this is intended to be made in a woven, judging by the zipper, but I thought it would look fab in a knit.

Pattern Sheet with Lines MarkedUnlike Stylebook, Drape Drape comes with a full set of patterns, each in four sizes. I traced a Small, which has a bust of about 30.5 inches; the waist is 23 inches and the hip is 33 inches--sizes I haven't been since approximately middle school--but because it is an empire line with a ton of ease at the waist/hip it didn't matter. If you think Patrones pattern sheets are confusing though, ugh, wait until you see this. All the designs on a pattern sheet are printed in the same color. This is frustrating because the design sheets are printed in green on one side and black on the other, so it's not that they saved money by printing only in one color! It took me a good hour just to find all of my lines, which I marked in purple pencil so that I could find them with the tissue paper over it. Intellectual, drapey designs take up a *lot* of fabric. I couldn't quite fit the skirt piece onto my yardage so I had to narrow it a few inches from the way it was drafted, and shorten it a few inches as well. Luckily, the design didn't suffer.

Back CloseupIt was very interesting to sew. Although the directions are in Japanese, it was easy to figure out which piece was which and there are a few diagrams to help you put them together. Some of the less intuitive pieces in the book are beyond me, because I can't even figure out which pieces go where, but this one was easy.

I have been loving the look of the side skirt drape for some time, as in the Cynthia Steffe Paige Dress, DKNYC Cascading Ruffles Dress, and DVF Epana Dress I posted about back in June, and was so excited to find out how it's done. I cut it out, marked the pleats, sewed the pleats and was still entirely mystified until I was like, "Wait a minute, are they blowing my mind? Yes, they are. There is no side seam, the seams are in the front and the back." That doesn't sound so mind blowing written down but seriously, it blew my mind. Having made it, I love the draping even more; I am going to have to figure out how to make a skirt out of this pattern.

Grand Entrance Back I feel like I should have more to say, but really, it went together pretty easily and I loooooove it. I felt so sexy and sophisticated on my birthday in this dress.

This is another of the looks that Cidell photographed for me, so there are a ton of great photos! The pattern review is here.


Unfortunately, the only source I have found for this book is I just impulsively ordered a hat book from, so I can offer my experience., go to the website and look way up in the right hand corner. There is a little "In English" link. You can find the book by searching "Drape Drape." The book itself is very reasonable--around $18 USD. Shipping is an eye-popping $35, however. It comes FedEx. I have not yet received my book, and won't for several days because I assumed they would send through the post office and had the book sent to my house. Alas, I cannot receive FedEx at my house so I had to contact (they offer customer service in English) and ask them to change the delivery address and heaven knows if I will ever actually receive the book. But had I not gone through this rigamarole I think it would have arrived very quickly. So you get good service for your $35, but it's a little painful (and I wish I'd done the research to order a couple more books to make the shipping worth it).

**EDIT TO ADD** Thank you to all the commenters who had helpful suggestions for finding this book!

It appears to be available on Yes Asia for $29.49 with free shipping.

Marie-Christine recommends this eBay store for Japanese books.

Megan recommends eBay and Etsy seller pomadour24 for Japanese books.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

McCall 5880, Hilary Duff Negligee Dress

M5580 Thumbnail

I don't mean negligee as a disparagement of McCall 5880, just a descriptor. I think it's fun and has a little retro kick.

From AboveCidell came to DC recently so there are some lovely outdoor project photos to look forward to. My new camera has a feature where it will take 3 shots in a row on the self-timer so it's a lot easier to do self portraits now (except that I can't get it to do a red-eye reducing flash and the red-eye feature on iPhoto keeps putting black spots in my hair and leaving my eyes red), but nothing is nicer than having a patient photographer who makes both the clothes *and* me look pretty. I end up with nice shots like the one at right.

While getting ready for Spain I crammed in as much sewing as I possibly could. I am forever lamenting the dearth of non-work appropriate clothes in my closet (it makes me feel old and boring that I could meet with my boss in just about every dress I own), and a vacation seemed like a good time to throw a flirty little dress in the mix. I had a flash of inspiration to make up the silk chiffon I got in Hong Kong with AllisonC into this pattern and just *had* to get it done.

And now, the public service portion of this blog post, by which I mean the public service you can do for me:

The next time I think that the only reason I don't like sewing with silk chiffon is that it has to be lined or underlined for opacity, somebody please slap me upside the head. The awfulness of sewing silk chiffon is inversely proportional to how lovely and luxurious it is to wear. Let's start with cutting. You lay it out aligned on grain and the slightest whisper blows it out of place. You pin down the pattern and carefully cut. When you lift your carefully cut piece up, it turns out to have been haphazardly hacked out by a blindfolded kindergartner almost directly on the bias. When you sew the threads snag, even when you are using the finest sharp/microtex needle in your collection, and of course that goes double when you're putting in French seams. And did I mention the seam puckering? Which goes double because you have to sew French seams? Seriously, sewing this stuff is an unfun experience.

In MotionBut then! You put it on! And you decide you can live with the puckered seams and pulled threads and crookedness because look how it flows! Feel how soft! I think I am suddenly a Rich Lady Who Lunches! Who else gets to wear such fabulous fabric?

The pattern is cute and easy (just one instruction sheet), perfect to knock out for something to wear on a Saturday night. The pattern is actually designed to be lined, which is great.

The skirt is cut in princess lines, which adds little to the design if you don't plan to topstitch. Since I was working with silk chiffon I considered combining the pieces into a single front and back. While I was sewing my puckering, wonky seams I definitely wished I had, although there is such volume and flow that (hopefully) my bad seams don't show.

The bodice and skirt are separate pieces and the seam serves as the elastic casing for the empire waist. At first I thought this could be a little tacky looking, and in a heavier fabric it could be but in this fabric the final appearance is not much different than gathering would have been. However, as the pattern illustration suggests, this absolutely must have some sort of decoration at that line. I went with a ribbon tie, tacked on at the center back and sides.

Back The back is designed to have a short zip that stops a couple of inches above the waistline. I changed it because (1) there was no way I was putting a zipper into silk chiffon, and (2) I liked the idea of a split back more--it fits with the style of the bodice front and is a little flirtier. I just sewed the back as for the front and gathered it into the neck binding. I closed the binding with two hooks and eyes because with just one set the ends rotated. I may go in and replace these with snaps because the hooks and eyes are forever coming undone. I put a button on top for decoration.

This was a fab dress for Spain. It looks cute with leggings and a denim jacket for slightly cooler temperatures, and is very comfortable when it's hot. I feel fun and flirty in it--perfect for Saturday nights at home once vacation ends. (Although those Saturday nights are many months away in a warmer future.)

All photos are here and the Pattern Review is here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Butterick 5130, Muse Grecian Dress

My backlog of summer dress reviews don't make *quite* as much sense now that it is in the 40s (Farenheit) outside--I really hope this is a blip and we return to our regularly scheduled October weather soon--but I guess they might help for dreaming for next year and, of course, our friends Down Under.

B5130 Thumbnail

This Butterick 5130 style was all over RTW and I was pleased to see it in the Butterick catalog. A few people on Pattern Review made it and I was totally sold.

I had a vision of actually making this (*gasp*) in a solid, specifically, an avocado colored solid. I was on the hunt for such a fabric the last time I went to NYC, but couldn't find any such color at Spandex House (they tend more toward primary colors) but then I found this print on the street-level floor and fell in love. It was $8/yd, which is steep for me, but I had to have it and knew it was specifically for this dress.

The bodice is designed in several parts and the seam allowances are used for the elastic casings, which is a nice, easy way of doing things. I would quibble a bit with the design/construction order, as you insert the lower elastic into the bodice back and construct the dress before creating the back neckline/raglan sleeve casing, and I found it difficult to keep my fabric flat and create an even casing with all that elastic ruching already in place. However, after completing it I tried to figure a way around doing this (the lower elastic ends are caught in the armscye seam) and couldn't come up with one so maybe it's unavoidable.

They do that annoying thing where instead of publishing a chart in the instructions to tell you what length to cut the elastic they have tissue pieces that you are supposed to use as guides. I really do not understand this. I totally understand including pattern pieces even for things that are simple squares like belt loops--unlike BWOF, which gives you the dimensions and has you draft it yourself--because they are aiming at both beginning and experienced sewists. But the elastic guides do not fall in this category. So I have attempted to create my own. I couldn't find a WYSIWYG application in Blogger for tables, so excuse me if I have bad code. (I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get rid of the huge space--I don't see it in the code.)

Size 8 Size 10 Size 12 Size 14
Piece 9 (bodice upper and middle front) 13 3/4 14 1/4 14 1/2 15
Piece 10 (boduce back) 14 3/4 15 1/4 15 1/216
Piece 11 (waist) 28 29 30 1/232
Piece 14 (back and sleeve neckline) 22 22 1/2 2323.5

As Drafted

I cut the elastic for size 8.

For the bodice upper front, I shortened the elastic 2 1/2 inches

For the bodice sleeve/upper back, I shortened 4 inches.

I expected the waist elastic be too big, but it fit surprisingly well. Perhaps having something to do with the fact that it was up on top of my boobs instead of under them.

So I added another row of elastic *under* the bust, using the selvage as my casing and my duct tape double to get it approximately parallel to the floor. I don't know how well I succeeded, but with all the elastication and gathering a little crookedness isn't noticeable.

Adding An Extra Row of Elastic

I wondered if my boobs had suddenly dropped and I was now low-busted (quite a feat with an AA cup), but just about everyone on Pattern Review had the same problem and added another level of casing as well. I was a little surprised by this problem, as the pattern was otherwise well thought out, well-drafted, and well-designed, and my problem with the Big Three is the drafting for huge, low boobs that requires me to do massive SBAs. Odd.

The instructions for the sleeve are for a regular casing at the hem, but I decided to echo the topmost front bodice casing, which is stitched about 3/8" and 5/8" down from the top to create a little bit of a ruffle above the casing. I took about a 1 inch hem in the sleeve, and stitched two lines for the casing at 3/8" and 5/8" and I like the way it picks up that bodice ruffle.

In Hong KongThis summer one of my comfort-zone departures was to make shorter dresses, so I shortened this one 1.5" in cutting. Because of my height, if I cut things as drafted they are massively long so 1.5" seemed very conservative. But perhaps having to do with my additional casing I felt that it ended up *too* short. I wore it unhemmed once, but was just unhappy with the length. So I thought about it and decided to add a band at the hem and topstitch with a twin needle to make it look like a design feature. It doesn't really show much in person or in pictures because of the busy print, but you can sort of see it here. When I wore this in Hong Kong (site of the thumbnail harbor photo and the walk at the peak on the right) AllisonC noticed the hem band, but thought it was an intentional design feature so I'm satisfied.

This was a great dress for summer. I took it with me to Asia and to Spain where it worked with footless tights for cool days. The shoulders are very wide set so I had to wear clear bra straps and make sure they were tucked away inside the sleeves, but other than that it is not fussy or uncomfortable to wear as the elastic need only be fitted, not tight. I hope it's still in style next summer!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Snoop Shopping for Fall/Winter Tops

Every single Fall/Winter I find myself (1) not having any long sleeve tops and (2) hating the ones that I technically don't even have because I have no long sleeve tops. Two years ago I embarked on "Two Weeks of Winter Work Tops" and I STILL have no long sleeve tops. Ugh!!!! While I wear dresses almost exclusively in summer, for some reason I turn more to separates in winter.

So, I decided it was time to look for some inspiration at Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom. It turns out that nobody has any good ideas for winter work tops, so at least I'm in good company. There were a lot of basic t-shirts and basic blouses, but we all know that I don't do basic.

I found a handful of inspiration pieces (and if you haven't seen SewBeDo's FABULOUS bow t-shirt variation of the BurdaStyle Lydia, check it out and encourage her to do that tutorial!).

The twist top is still popular, as shown by the 3.1 Phillip Lim Twist Front Cashmere Pullover - Nordstrom $495 and Nic + Zoe Twist Front Top - Nordstrom $63.90 on sale variations.

3.1 Phillip Lim Twist Front Cashmere Pullover - Nordstrom $495 Nic + Zoe Twist Front Top  - Nordstrom $63.90 on sale
The Nic + Zoe I could easily pull off, as it just appears to be a twist overlay and at this point the cat is out of the bag on how to do twists. I can fantasize about somehow modifying Butterick 5079 (one of my unreviewed projects) for the 3.1 Phillip Lim, but I know there's no way I'd figure that puzzle out.

I love this Kate Spade blouse ($275, Bloomingdale's) from the front *and* the back.

kate spade new york _Bisous_ Ruffled Silk Blouse - $275 Kate Spade Bisous Ruffle Silk Blouse - Back
The website doesn't mention a closure, so it appears that it just pulls over the head. This makes me wonder if it is clipped in the photos, because that cut looks too slim to comfortably wriggle over the shoulders, but of course if I made it I could always put an invisible zip in the side. Love the ruffles, the non-exaggerated sleeve, and the tame looking collar in front that ties in a bow in back. This is the kind of mood I am in for blouses this Fall--soft and feminine, not a traditional shirt-tailored kind of piece.

The peasant blouse still lives--here are some from Michael Kors ($64.90, Nordstrom) and a t-shirt version by Cameo Appearance ($48, Nordstrom)

MICHAEL Michael Kors Kimono Sleeve Silk Blouse - Nordstrom $64.90 on sale Cameo Appearance Sequin Top - Nordstrom $48

I like the sleeve shape on the Kors version--that rounded opening appeals to me, and is a little different than the normal balloon with more fullness on the lower half of the sleeve than the upper--does anyone know what this style of sleeve is called? That style sleeve first came to my attention in relation to a DVF copycat controversy. I like the open sleeve on the tee, it's more laid back. The jury is still out on whether I can wear this style that balloons over an elasticated hip, though. I like my Simplicity 4020 top, so maybe.

Tadashi Shoji Twist Front Stretch Taffeta Blouse - Nordstrom $238

LOVE this Tadashi Shoji blouse (Nordstrom, $238). The faux wrap and the peplum with the coordinating pleats is so cute, and the collar is excellent, so much more fun than a traditional shirt collar but not over the top.

I could live without the beading. I could also live without the zip all the way down the back (???--I don't get it), but I'd move it to under the arm.

I have Vogue 7998, a wrap top pattern that might be adaptable. (That I have all these ideas that could be done does not, by any stretch, mean that any of them will get done, of course.)

It also turned out I am ahead of the trend with some stuff I made for *last* Fall/Winter: the Knip Mode twist top I was so obsessed with and a BWOF dress.


The BWOF 10-2008-115 dress isn't identical because the Bloomingdale's dress has a surplice/faux wrap neckline and no gathering in the skirt. I like the BWOF version better, actually. This dress isn't really for work, though, and I already have a million ideas for dresses anyway. DolmanDressCompare
The Knip Mode 04-2008-13 twist top, as far as I can tell, is an exact match for the TWO different variations at Nordstrom. I need to make one or two more of those!

I found a few more ideas for ruffles and bows and more ruffles (though I would make that last one a blouse, not a cardi) but honestly it was slim pickings. You can check out the whole set here. Please pass on all your good ideas and inspiration!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Exquisite Fabrics Update, Trip to Philly, and Stashoholism Confessional

I had a very productive weekend...if you consider stash-building productive. Ahem.

Gifts from PanamaCidell came to visit me in DC. We exchanged gifts from our recent travels; she picked me up a ton of knit lining and a cute little shirting print in Panama.

We spent Friday hitting up the Simplicity sale at Joann, where I picked up 8 patterns at 99 cents each. Score! My top picks are 2473, a princess sheath with faux-belt separate waistband; the Cynthia Rowley 2512 paper bag waist skirt with shaped waistband; and a tie-neck blouse 2501 that comes in both peplum and one piece variations with an awesome ruched sleeve.

G Street 10-9-09Then we hit up G Street, where I SWORE I was not going to get any fabric. Until I did. Luckily only one piece. I could not get the color to come out right in the photo--the flash kept washing it out--but it's a dark gray (of the blue gray variety) knit. There is a dress in the Drape Drape book that I want to try, but it is a bit wild and crazy and has to be done in a sober solid color, not to mention that it will EAT UP the yardage so the $2.97/yd price was a big sell.


Then it was some snoop shoppping in Georgetown. Embellishment is big, is all I can tell you. We went in J Crew and every t-shirt had some kind of ruffle, bow, lace, sequins, applique, etc. on it. I am all for girly details, but the indiscriminate application of sequins was a bit much on some of them. I NEED to do something with a froth (or bib, for the less poetical among you) of ruffles at the neck.

Exquisite FabricsWe also made a point of stopping into Exquisite Fabrics' new(ish) location at The Shops at Georgetown. They moved there about a year ago from their old K Street location, which was metro accessible and *ahem* easily drop-in-able from my doctor's office. It's still very high end, as it was before, with high end prices to match. There are a lot of very nice wools and a large selection of silks, though I found the vast majority of the silk prints...inexplicable. By which I mean hideous. They still have the "bargain" section, with yardages allegedly in the $2-10 range, though most were $8/yd and above. There was nothing much to interest me there. I will say, the notions section has expanded and I can definitely always find a zipper or thread here if I'm in a pinch, which is awesome. I ended up getting only one thing, an AWESOME gold bow buckle that, judging from the packaging, is actually from the 80s. It was marked down to $5. I'll be using that puppy at the first available opportunity.

I must say that service is crap. Ugh. Cidell and I were greeted when we came in, which was nice. But then after I figured out what I wanted I went and stood at the register, patiently waiting (that is to say, no sighing, eye rolling, finger snapping, or other boorish behavior) where I was PATENTLY ignored. I mean, the clerk went out of her way not to see me while standing a few feet away. She made a huge show of helping another customer, who obviously didn't sew at all, look for buttons. Had the other customer been there first, I would of course not complain at all, but I was waiting first and since I was at the register was probably going to be quick, while button chooser had no idea what she was looking for. It felt very much like the clerk considered me too young to be a "real" customer, and treated me accordingly. It left a very bad taste in my mouth. So, buyer beware.


The next day we hit the road and headed up to Philly to meet Karen and sate ourselves at Jomar. I brought my camera but of course failed to take a single picture. Sorry about that. I had limited time so we got straight to business. Jomar is crazy, man. It is huge, there is so much fabric, it's a little weird, and the prices are insane. So I, um, went a little crazy.

In the fashion fabric category, I got two silks for blouses and four knits:

Jomar Silks 10-09JomarKnits10-09

The dark silk is navy. I never wear navy because (1) I like black and think it looks good on me, and (2) what shoes do you wear with navy????? But I am branching out. I also got gray because I have been feeling the gray this year. It's a good color. On the knits, the three ITY prints are self-explanatory. Cidell maintains that the metallic tweed-ish knit defies explanation, which it sort of does but I was really drawn to it.

I also picked up linings in black and silver/gray (the lightest color I could find in an acceptable texture) for $1/yd. Sadly, I couldn't locate any rayon lining so I have either 100% poly or acetate, but I have often found myself in need of a silky lining, especially as we go into Fall and tights are necessary. Now I can never say I don't have any lining. Then there was the interfacing--also $1/yd, I got two wovens and a knit. But my total for all of this was right around $70, which is crazy for six fashion fabrics, two linings, and three interfacings!

After our shopping, Karen led us to the most delicious falafel place. The fries were made with onions and peppers along with the potatoes, which was divine and I don't understand why everyone doesn't do this. The falafel and hummus sandwich was incredibly delicious. Mmm. I have been thinking of this place ever since!


So now I really, really, really need to stop buying fabric! My plan for this year was 6 yards per month. I am guessing I have exceeded that, although there have been several months where I didn't buy anything. I have certainly exceeded my sewing because I have been busy lately and not been able to spend an entire day each weekend sewing. I wish I could learn to sew during the week, but unless I have a deadline I've never been able to bring myself to do it. So, discipline in buying is really the only alternative. If only I could figure out how to develop it...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

McCall 6788, Vintage 1947 Shirtdress

In June Myra sent me a fabulous set of vintage patterns. I immediately fell in love with this shirtdress and decided to make it as soon as I found the right fabric. While I was in Hong Kong, I bought a vintage-y floral cotton print (on the far right in this photo) but then in Tokyo I fell in love with this dragon fabric and decided it was even better. I am very happy with the result!

M6788 Thumbnail

This was a fun pattern to sew. I love working with vintage things and thinking who might have made them before me (the pattern envelope says faintly in pencil "Mrs. Emie Seriash"). I loved the little pleats at the shoulder echoes in the skirt at the waist and the cape sleeve.

Pattern EnvelopeThe pattern is a size 14, which in 1947 meant Bust 32, Waist 26.5, Hip 35. 12 was the smallest size this pattern came in (and I can't imagine there were many grown women who were smaller than a 30 inch bust); I wonder where the number conventions came from?

While my bust is a 32, my waist and hips are somewhat larger, so I graded out about 3/4" at each side seam, to add a total of 1.5 inches. However, once I got it made I saw that I shouldn't have done so, and maybe even taken it in a bit at the waist. The tiny-waisted pattern illustration notwithstanding, this is very baggy at the waist and a belt is an absolute necessity. (It looks great with the ribbon belt I made in July!) It's also huge at the bust; I'm not sure if this is the style or if it is expected that a women with a 32 bust will wear a gigantor padded bra.

SideThis wasn't designed with pockets, but I feel that a shirtdress ought to have pockets so I added some below the waist seam. They feel right with the style. I used, as ever, the pocket from BWOF 07-2008-107

A while back Claudine said that she wished she wore slips so she wouldn't have to line every single thing she made. I feel the same way! And yet, I don't wear slips. So I lined this fabric with my trusty Ikea Knoppa sheets ($1.99 for a twin!).

The sleeves are not really sleeves. You finish the armscye as for sleeveless (I used the "sew shoulder seams of fashion and lining, sew fashion and lining together at neck and armscyes, pull fronts through strap tunnel to turn right side out, then sew side seam" method), and then just stitch the cape sleeves--which are just a half circle, nothing complicated there--at the shoulder and on down the bodice. This could easily be transported to a more modern garment for a fun sleeve.

Contrast facing detailThe capes are meant to be finished with a facing. At first I thought I would just turn under the edges in a hem and skip the facing. But then I remembered that one of the things the friend-of-a-friend I'd met up with in Japan told me was that traditional kimonos are rather sober on the outside, but lined in bright colors. Part of the allure in wearing a kimono is to perfect the art of flashing a teeny bit of that bright color in the sleeve lining.

When I had visited the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum I had noticed that some of the kimonos had bright linings and loved it. When contemplating this bit of information, I loved the way the main dragon fabric went so well with the wave fabric I'd also bought. I knew it would make it a little costume-y because the navy wave fabric is rather stiff and would make the cape sleeves stick out even more, but I just fell in love with the idea and had to do it. To tie it together, I did the bodice neck facing in the wave fabric as well. I turned under the raw edges and hand-stitched them to the lining.

I shortened the dress considerably--it was drafted a 45 inch length from back neck which is pretty much to the floor on me (were they taller back then?). On the pattern illustration it appears drafted to be 2-3 inches below the knee, but it might have been meant to be mid-calf. At any rate, anything more than 1 1/2 inches below the knee is just awful on me, so I went contemporary with the length and hemmed it just above the knee.

I'm glad I got the chance to sew this pattern. The fit and details are definitely vintage, and I went a little costume-y with the big red buttons and stiff contrast lining for the sleeves, but it is wearable in modern times. I love that it goes into fall with tights and clogs!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Back from Spain!

I had a lovely trip to Spain! I was there for two weeks, the first week in Barcelona and the second week in Madrid (very briefly), Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera, and Sevilla. It is a beautiful country and the people are friendly. I got a lot of opportunity to speak Spanish. I kept meaning to study more before I went but things kept getting in the way so I was *very* rusty (I was never fluent by any stretch, but I had a high level of high school 17 years ago) but some Spanish definitely helps when you're there.

Trena and Paco

I especially wished I spoke better Spanish when I met up with Paco! I hadn't realized he lived in Barcelona until I asked for fabric shopping advice for the first part of my trip and everyone recommended getting in touch with him. He is super nice, even rescheduling our meeting after I realized I was completely mixed up on days (I thought I landed Sunday morning but it was actually Monday).

We met up on Wednesday and he took me on a tour of the fabric shops of Barcelona. Paco is just as nice as you might hope, and he was very patient with my poor Spanish skills. We each can read the other's language fairly well, but speaking it is a whole other ballgame. It was so great to get an intensive practice like that!

The stores are all beautiful, even the more moderately priced ones. The fabric is on rolls, not bolts. The rolls are laid out on tables, generally just one roll high (not stacked so you have a hard time pulling out the one you want). The shops are relatively small (mostly) and the storefronts have nice big windows so there's a lot of natural light.

Paco is well known to all the shop owners and employees! So we got good service. Mindful of my groaning shelves of stash at home, I purchased only two fabrics:

Spain 2009 Fabric Purchases

The gray print is a rayon jersey that will make a great maxi dress. As Cidell has "gently" hinted many times, Paco was a little concerned about my taste level when it comes to bright colors, but I love them! The louder the better! The white/green print is a polyester, which you know I don't normally buy, but I loved the print and decided I'd give the fabric a shot. These were not unduly expensive, around 7 Euro per yard (of course, the dollar is so weak that it translates to quite a bit). The prices overall didn't seem high for what you got.

Later in the trip, in Sevilla, we passed a bunch of fabric stores but my travel companion forbade me to go in. Heh. So I didn't get any more.

There is another photo of me and Paco and a sneak peek of three new dresses I got done for the trip here on my sewing flickr.

You can see all of my travel photos (a lot!) here.


Despite my stash concerns, I did add just a few more pieces on Saturday. At this point, I actually hadn't been to the local fabric store in months and I needed to get some Halloween fabric. My youngest brother and his wife are planning to visit over Halloween weekend and they know I love Halloween so they are all excited. Unfortunately, I have NO idea where to take them. As much as I hate to admit it, I am a little bit outgrowing Halloween. Well, maybe that's not true. DC just does not have a great Halloween the way Austin does. In Austin, they shut down 6th Street to traffic and it is a big giant informal parade of amazing costumes. You don't even have to go into a bar (most years I didn't), you just hang out on the street and people watch and strut your stuff. In DC, I haven't found anyplace that is a giant (but not overly drunken) crowd of people who just want to enjoy the costumes. It's all parties in bars and you have to wait outside for hours (often in freezing cold) to get in and then it's hot and crowded once you finally do get in and you can't see anything.

Anyway, I do think my costume will be cute but it has come to this: I am annoyed that I have to take time out of my real sewing to make it. However, I do have a closet *full* of costumes, so I could draw from the archive and that I'm not says something. Maybe I will make one last costume and then deem the collection complete.

G Street and Joann 10-3-09-1

The blue and green on the right are for the costume (to be revealed later, but it's the same thing I had planned for last year before I ended up going out of the country). The middle two are jersey prints--one for Fall/Winter, one for Spring/Summer. On the left are a bronze silk to line a wool dress and a wool skirt length to make a black pencil skirt. I need to find a pattern for the black and purple jersey--I don't think I have enough for a wrap dress, which is my go to shape for cool weather dresses, nor can it have a full skirt. I'm sure I've got something in the stash!


I pulled all the new pieces out of my closet and I am only 10 reviews behind. Not bad. I thought it was more. I had my travel companion take fashion photos of the new dresses while in Spain, but when I got home I realized I had somehow set my camera to take teeny pictures, and they can't be cropped because they get pixilated. Argh!!!!!! I am really upset about this. So I can't use those photos and have to start over. We'll see when I get in the mood to do a fashion shoot.