Friday, August 31, 2012

Burda 08-2011-120, J. Mendel Knockoff Birthday Dress

Burda 06-2011-120 Thumbnail

Jason Wu
Source: via Trena on Pinterest

I have collectively spent much more time on Pinterest than on actually making things inspired by Pinterest, but add another project to the list!  I was really struck by this $2590 J. Mendel dress--I love the contrast raglan sleeves, trim down the front, and full-skirted shape in a sophisticated fabric.  I thought it might be a good use for the remainder of the silk suiting I used for my A line skirt.  Then I saw Burda 08-2012-120 and knew it was fate.  I used the skirt from Butterick 5315, which I meant to mention at the time was very nicely drafted.  It fit on the bodice with no changes, cutting size 10 at the waist. After I'd made it, I saw the Jason Wu at left in a similar style.

Front Pattern Piece
Back Pattern Piece
I first made my broad back and small bust adjustments and then made a quick muslin of the bodice (these are the final pattern pieces, after taking length out of the bodice and adding width at the center front and side seams).

Muslin Front
Muslin Back

The fit was pretty good and I had good movement in the arms.  The neckline was way too high in the front and it was a little long in the bodice--not surprising as this is a tall pattern.  The front bust darts were very long.  I lowered the neckline half an inch and shortened the bodice by about 3/4 of an inch about 4 inches above the waist.  I could have shortened it a bit more for my less-stable fashion fabric.  I had a little droopiness in the front bodice at the side seams at bust level, so I shaved a little width off there.  I also added a little width at the waist, but ended up taking it out during construction (probably to do with the less stable fabric).

Shoulder Pattern Pieces

To make it less confusing to put together, I found it useful to add notches to the sleeve and bodice pattern along the sleeve/bodice join line.  There are notches (well, markings, this being Burda) drafted onto the bodice pieces, but only to indicate the terminus of the sleeve.  It was a lot easier to keep the front and back straight, and which edge lined up where, with the notches.

Thrift Store Suede Jacket

The suede comes from a large jacket, purchased at the thrift store last year for $10.  I was hoping that I could remake it into a jacket to fit me, but it just wasn't big enough for that, alas.  In taking it apart, I was interested to see how much interfacing has been used in it.  There were strips of interfacing at the armscyes, for instance.

I used my Chaco chalk liners, a recent indulgence, to mark the patterns onto the suede for cutting.  These things are awesome.  They have a teeny tiny wheel that dispenses the chalk in a line, and you can zip right along with them.  I thought I had taken a picture of my traced pattern pieces but I hadn't sorry.

For the front trim, I cut the topstitched seam out of the center of each sleeve (joining the pieces to get enough length) so there would be more interest than just a strip of suede.

Leather Seam Allowances

This was my first time sewing with leather or suede.  I did not find it difficult at all.  I had gathered a lot of information by osmosis from reading about others' projects (particularly Karen's and Clio's) so I didn't do any additional research.  For the front trim and the belt I used a leather needle, but where leather was sewn to fabric I just used a universal.  This suede was fairly thin and supple and it sewed up totally fine with a universal needle.  I used a walking foot for most of the sewing involving suede and glued down the seam allowances with Fabri-Tac.

Understitch Lining at Neckline

I finished the bodice using the all-machine clean-finish technique.   Because of the thick fabric and front pleats, which add even more thickness, I did the neckline first.  I trimmed close to the stitching and zigzagged to finish, rather that using the serger as I normally would, because I could get the seam allowances smaller that way.  Then I understitched the neckline to the lining.  Once that was all done I stitched the armscye seams.  Although the lining does not lay perfectly flat at the neckline, it does not show either so I am satisfied.

Mark Line for Hand Stitching on Lapped ZipBecause the fabric was too thick for an invisible zipper to cross the waist seam, I did a lapped zipper.  I used the same technique as for my Seersucker Social dress, hand-picking the visible/lapped side, though this one didn't turn out quite as well.  I think I see why the exposed zipper trend got started--it's just hard to get a regular zipper to look good in some fabrics.

I used a Frixion pen to mark the stitch line for the lap, which made things go a *lot* faster than trying to eyeball it.

Zipper Finish

I did not interface the zipper opening at first, which was a horrible mistake.  I had to rip out the hand-picked side and the second pass machine stitching on the underlap side and retrofit it with interfacing.  I was racing against the clock to finish this dress so this was fairly painful.  Lesson learned.

On the plus side, I think I did a nicer job with the zipper finish at the neckline.

I didn't have this issue that I noticed with the muslin, but the back neck on the finished version is kind of sticky-outy.  I probably need to make it a standard alteration to narrow the back neckline.

Hem Lace

Because the skirt is essentially a circle skirt, it needs a very small hem allowance to avoid the agony of trying to shrink the fuller lower edge to fit the narrower stitched edge.  I turned it up about 3/8 of an inch and used hem lace to get enough length for a machine blind stitch.


The matching belt is an integral part of the look and I am really happy with how it came out.  To get the point at the end, I folded the suede strip in half and stitched diagonally across it, trimming very very close to the stitching, especially at the point.  I finger-pressed it flat, then traced the arrow onto the belting.  I sort of mitered the corners, as you can see.  I used topstitching thread and stitched the suede directly to the belting.

One of the beauties of sewing with leather is it's one of the few instances in sewing where glue is a totally acceptable construction method, LOL.  I used glue to create the loop (it's a piece of suede folded in thirds) and to fix the loop to the belt.  I happened to have Fabric-Tac on hand and it says it works on leather on the bottle.  It seemed totally fine.

I decided to go with a non-covered belt buckle, of which I have a not-insignificant stash for some reason.  This buckle is a little wider than my one inch belting--I think the buckle is metric because it's not 1 1/2 inches.  So it occasionally requires a little rearranging to keep it from sitting crooked.  Any ideas for keeping it straight would be appreciated.  I think I should have anchored the tongue thingy before sewing the belt in place, but I don't want to rip out the stitching because I am not confident of being able to sew exactly along the stitch line again--it's hard to get close to the buckle.

I will eventually glue ribbon to the back of the belt to cover up the suede seam allowances, but I don't have anything suitable in stash.

Magazine Photo Sleeveless
Magazine Photo Sleeves
My dress is not exactly like the inspiration--the leather goes all the way around the armscye on the original and (as the name implies) the entire back is leather.  But it is quite similar, also to the Jason Wu.  So maybe it's only a $1590 dress instead of a $2590 dress.  Hee.

I should have underlined the entire bodice in silk organza, as it stretched out a bit vertically from the weight of the skirt while it was hanging before hemming.  Alas.  At least the suede trim in front and zipper in back will keep it from stretching out further.  So I'm annoyed with myself over the stretched out bodice and wish the zipper looked better, but otherwise really like the dress.

Today is my actual birthday but because of the holiday weekend I had my celebratory happy hour yesterday (complete with the fascinator/tiara) and will wear it for a fancy dinner tomorrow.  Woot!

I will leave you with these amusing photos, copying the magazine's poses based on this PR thread.  The closest thing I had in my home to a giant decorative birdcage was a button caddy, and I am very impressed with the long-sleeved model's flexibility.  I realized that she was merely touching the heel of her shoe; I had to cling onto mine to stay upright during the self-timer lag.  Also, I was SUPER SORE from a hard yoga class and long run, so my muscles were all clenching up.  It is amusing though.  (Some people asked about these shoes in my last post--they are Borns, which are the most comfortable heels possible.  I lucked into these at Nordstrom Rack for a crazy price, I think under $30.)

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Simplicity 2211, TNT A Line Skirt

S2211 Thumbnail

I still stand by my statement that a pencil skirt is more flattering for a pear, but a pencil skirt is awfully difficult to ride a bike in.  So I accepted that I was going to need to find the perfect A line skirt.  When I saw Simplicity 2211, a Lisette pattern, I thought it had promise.  Darted skirts can be tricky for me because of my round belly in the front and caboose in the back.  The front darts are usually too much, and the back darts are too little.  The princess lines on this one take the place of darts, so there's no chance of pooching and poking and pointiness.

I've made this skirt three times already, and it got the royal treatment of being traced onto tissue paper and having interfacing fused to the back.  This is an awesome way to preserve a much used pattern.  As a bonus, the interfacing sticks to some kind of fabrics (does anyone else remember flannel boards?) making the cutting layout quicker because it requires fewer pins.  My one real change to the pattern was to add a center back seam and move the zip there.  I find an invisible zip to be tricky in a side seam because it can stick out at the end and make your hips look uneven.

Ribbon Waistline Stay-white
Ribbon Waistline Stay, SilkAs drafted, the skirt is unlined and the waistline is finished with a ribbon.  I prefer to line most of my skirts.  However, the ribbon is key to keeping the waistline from stretching out.  So when sewing the skirt and lining together at the waistline I run a narrow ribbon through the foot and catch it in the stitching.  Apparently, I felt the need to photograph this twice.

Silk Zip at LIning

To keep the waist looking neat with no lining peeking over, for the silk version of the skirt--with a heavier fashion fabric and a lighter lining--I understitched the seam allowance to the facing.

French Seams-White

For the white version, where the lining and fashion fabric were of about equal weight, I topstitched the waistline, catching both the fashion fabric and the lining.

Selvages at zipper

For both versions, I French seamed the lining, using the  selvage for the center back/zipper seam on the silk version.  On the silk version, I placed the lining seams toward the fashion fabric, as per usual.  However, for the white version I wanted to minimize the lining seam show-through and put the French seams toward the body.

White Denim Front
White Denim Back

The first version of this skirt was this disastrous white denim-ish fabric.  It's not my fault that the fabric wrinkles so badly that it's unwearable.  However, the terrible underlining is totally my fault.  Ugh.  This is why the Slapdash Sewist should not underline.

Suffice it to say, pin your underlining to your fashion fabric on a flat surface.

I am showing these photos (which are hot off the sewing machine without ever having been worn--trust me when I tell you how hideous this skirt became after a single wearing and washing) because the heavy denim shows the shape of skirt best.

I have been needing a white skirt forEVER, and finding the right fabric proved quite a trial.  I broke my fabric fast and ordered some online, which turned out to be winter white.  I also splurged on some white Bemberg lining.  Then I found this embroidered fabric at Joann of all places.  Then the Bember lining didn't add anything to the opacity so I ended up using my heavier rayon satin lining (almost gone, I should have bought more than 5 yards) in cream.  Saga.
Seam Samples

Because the fabric is somewhat sheer and the seams were going to show, I experimented with some stitch samples.  I first tried the flat fell, but it was way too bulky.  Then I stitched the seam as per usual, serged the seam allowances together, pressed to one side, and topstitched in place.  Still a little big.  Finally, I just serged the seam, pressed to the side, and topstitched.  Who would have guessed that the easiest and quickest method looked the best?

Pro tip:  Don't topstitch your seam allowances until you put in the zipper and fit the skirt.  You might guess that I am not a pro.

Hem Finish

I did a similar treatment at the hemline, just serged the lower edge, turned it up once, and stitched over the serging.  So easy and yet it looks so nice!

Silk after washing

Another pro tip is to remember to pre-treat your fabric!  I bought this silk suiting at PR Weekend in 2006.  Yes, six years ago.  The time had come!  Anyway, to pre-shrink it, I saturated but did not soak it with water and hung it to dry.  I noticed a couple of spots where the dye ran, but managed to cut around them.  For the rest of the piece, I threw it in the washer for maximum color change and subsequent washability (the joke is on me, because the project I'm working on right now with this fabric will not be washable).  The change was pretty significant.

My note to self was to be sure never to get the skirt wet.  So naturally the first time I wore it I got caught in a HUGE rainstorm and ended up soaking the skirt completely through.  Luckily the color didn't seem to run too much in the rain.

White Front
Silk Front

I still don't love an A line skirt, but this is a great pattern for it--enough hem width to bike in but not out of control unflattering wide.

It works better in a fabric with a little structure, and also with a shorter hemline (I may need to shorten the white one).

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Look 6067, Triple Dart African Print Dress

 NL6067 Thumbnail

Source: via Tatiana on Pinterest

I am still looking for a pattern for my special mustard wool fabric--purchased two years ago now!--and decided to give New Look 6067 a try.  The triple front darts add visual interest, and the slit neckline is a different look for me.  I like it in the dress at left (it was on Piperlime but no longer available; I have no idea who made it or how much it cost). Thanks to sewisewedthis, I now know this is the Milly Mariella Windowpane Tweed Pencil Premium Work Dress, $187.

Swayback Adjustment

I did my usual litany of adjustments (broad back, small bust, etc.), including swayback adjustment.  For dresses with a seam at natural waist, I split the swayback adjustment between the bodice and the skirt, as you can see.  Unfortunately, I should also have shaped the center back seam and taken just a little more length out.  Scroll up to the composite and you can see the swayback problem.  Ick.  I'll have to wear it with a belt every time.

Small Bust Adjustment
Since this was somewhat of a wearable muslin, I considered making the front bodice as drafted, but in the end I just couldn't see that ending well at the bust, so I took small tucks out of each of the three darts for a small bust adjustment.  The dress fits well across the bust, with comfortable ease but not Empty Sack Syndrome.

Modified Front Facing
The way the dress is meant to be finished is actually quite nice.  There is a separate front lining piece drafted with a normal waistline dart and facings.  You are meant to stitch the facings to the lining (the facing needs to be fashion fabric because it will show a bit at the front neckline).

This is a cool cotton summer dress and I didn't need an extra layer, so I just did facings.  To ensure plenty of facing coverage and avoid flipping and flapping, I lengthened and widened the front facing, as you can see at right.

Back Facing Modified to Match Back Neck 
As I suspected when cutting, the back neckline gaped a bit so I added 1 inch wide darts and modified the back facing pattern to suit.

Facing Finish

I used the Sunny Gal technique for a neat-finished facing of sewing the interfacing and the facing right sides together along the outer edges, then flipping and fusing the interfacing.  The saggy neckline on my Simplicity 2177 fresh on my mind, I interfaced the fashion fabric of the front neckline in addition to the facing.

A nun might find the front neckline as drafted just a tad prim, so I lowered the front neckline by 3/4 inch and lowered the slit opening by two full inches.

To get the slit to show, I gradually increased the seam allowance as I got closer to the neckline, adding 1/4 inch in total to each side (for a 1/2" opening).  I might go in and take out even more, as the slit still doesn't show very well in wearing and it just looks like a very high-necked dress.

Hand Rolled Sleeve Hem
The cap sleeves are meant to be lined, with the lining used to finish the edge.  Again, I didn't need lining so I hand rolled the sleeve hem.  I serged the edge then folded the width of the serging to the inside and then the inside again.  This is not an official blind stitch, but I took up only a few fibers of the outer fabric for each stitch. (click on the photo to enlarge and see the stitching)

Hem Lace

I ended up cutting the skirt a bit short and therefore had only a 1/2" hem allowance to work with.  Hem lace to the rescue!  It's sewn with a machine blind stitch.  I used maroon thread in the bobbin to coordinate with the lace and brown thread in the top thread to coordinate with the fabric so everything would look nice.

I lengthened the back slit for bike riding and it is very easy to bike in. I originally cut the skirt a little wider in an A line, but I mocked it up along the stitch lines for the drafted tulip shape, and with the slit I had plenty of leg movement.

I added side seam pockets, but side seam pockets are not a great match with a tulip-shaped skirt.  I may have to just hand-stitch them closed as they gape a bit. Not enough to notice they're pockets, but just enough to make my hips look even wider.

Triple Darts
NL 6067

I am very pleased with the way the print placement worked out for this fabric, one of the African prints my friend brought me back from Liberia.  The only things I did in my cutting layout were to make sure I wouldn't have a floral bullseye over my bust and to minimize how much the baby poop light brown color was near my face (it's so close to mustard, but it's just not).  The way the print flows so well from the bodice to skirt and the left and right front bodice is just a lucky coincidence!

The triple dart detail is rather lost in my print, but I do think it is cute.  I'm not totally sold on this pattern for my special fabric though, *sigh.*  I am the Goldilocks of darts--the Simplicity 2177 darts were too high, and these darts are just a little too low.  I need to find a pattern that has the darts just right!  (But has interesting design--not just a plain sheath dress.)

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Simplicity 2177, Triangle-Insert Border Print Dress

S2177 Thumbnail

The second (and last) project I got done last month during PR's Pattern Stash Contest was Simplicity 2177.  I'd bought this for my sad orphaned Parisian fabric that I bought in 2008 that I just can't find the right project for.  It's a batiste, so it will need underlining, and has an embroidered motif that reads as very wide stripes.  It's a challenge.  I had considered this pattern for it, but in the end decided it wasn't quite right.  Then I got the inspiration to use it as this border print fabric, inverting the border at the bodice's triangle insert to emphasize it and add some balance to the dress.

Source: via Trena on Pinterest

After I'd finished my dress I found this virtually identical J. Crew dress on Pinterest.  The J. Crew's skirt many more and smaller pleats than the Simplicity and the J. Crew's bust darts come from the side seam, rather than the center bodice seam.   But still.  Very similar.

I'm not sure when this J. Crew dress came out--I could only find it referenced in a sale alert post from March 2012 (it's no longer available on the J. Crew website), but I'm guessing it post-dated release of the Simplicity pattern.  Maybe the Simplicity and the J. Crew are both copies of an earlier, designer dress, but the coincidence seems awfully coincidental.

I added more fabric to the shoulders and neckline toward the neck.  I wish I had added a little bit more toward the shoulders as well, which is unusual.  I have narrow shoulders and generally need less coverage there, not more.

Stitch to V

V necklines have not been my strong suit in the past, so I was very precise with my stitching on this one.  It would have been perfect, except that one of the many downsides of not having much time to sew and spending a lot of time on one project is that you make dumb mistakes.  Or at least I do.  Like not interfacing the neckline before sewing in the lining.  Ugh.  Excuse my gaping.  I retrofitted it with strips of interfacing after it was sewn, but it is obviously not the same. 

I used the cap sleeve from Burda 08-2012-133.  In the magazine it looked more like a flap or flange than a sleeve.  Cap sleeves can be somewhat restrictive and the Burda sleeve looked like a better way to get shoulder coverage while retaining full movement.

Cap Sleeves in All Machine Finish

I used my usual all-machine clean-finish bodice lining technique.  It works with cap sleeves to a point.  These are itty bitty cap sleeves and I still had a difficult time pulling all the fabric through the strap tunnel.  I had to use a safety pin to get some grip.  So I won't be trying it with a cap sleeve any more substantial than this one

Bodice Lining

One of the things I like about the design of this pattern is the dart coming from the triangle inset.  It adds enough visual interest that I think this could be a great Little Black Dress (with a more sophisticated skirt); I lined the bodice in black batiste and I think it provides an illustration of this.  The pattern comes with facings, but I prefer a bodice lining to avoid the flapping and flounder of facings.

Odd Dart Placement

That said, the dart placement is weird.  And by weird I mean terrible.  The dart apex ends about 1 1/2 inches above my bust.  I do not have a particularly low bust, and I don't know many people who have a bust that hangs from their collarbone.  It's not really noticeable in my print, but definitely something to keep in mind.

Gapey Back Neck

Unlike Cidell, I am a tryer-on-er as I sew.  As soon as the pieces are in any semblance of assembled I start putting it on and taking it off at regular intervals.  However, when I got near the end of this one I made myself totally finish, including hand-sewing the bodice lining to the skirt.

Add Back Neck Dart

Well, the joke was on me because when I put it on I saw that the back neckline had horrible gaping.  I had to undo all my hand stitching and retro-fit it with back neck darts (sewing it as a fisheye dart continuously from the lining to the fashion fabric), which took care of the gaping.

I did not use the skirt pattern, as the skirt's hem measurement was a little narrower than I prefer for being able to swing my leg over a bike.  I just cut the skirt as a long rectangle and then pleated it in place to my liking, with a center inverted pleat and lining up the second front pleat with the seamline of the triangle insert.  There is only one seam, at center back, the downside of which is no pockets.

Uneven Selvage Print

I bought the fabric for this dress in a department store in Malaysia as a souvenir.  Like African print fabrics, the selvage is decorative so I used it as the hem edge of the skirt.  The selvage print isn't entirely regular, as you can see at the center back seam.  I decided it was better to line up the edges of the fabric than the edges of the selvage print.


During hot summer weather, I end up wearing this dress, Stretch & Sew 1582, just about every weekend.  It's a good quality cotton that dries pretty quickly after sweating through it, it has shape from the elastic shirring but isn't fitted so there is no fabric touching me on most places, and it protects my shoulders from the sun.  I'm getting a fairly sick of it, so I wanted another dress that might work just as well.  Alas, this is not going to displace the favored dress.  The fitted bodice has plenty of ease but it is still cut much closer than that of the favored dress, exacerbating sweating and making it take longer to evaporate.  I'm going to have to suck it up and just make an identical dress out of a different print.


However, on its own merit this is a perfectly lovely dress.  While I was making it I was thinking I'd definitely use the pattern again, but now I'm not sure.  That bodice front dart would definitely have to be moved down significantly and I think the neckline could be lowered just a tad.  I already know where and what size back neck dart it needs so that wouldn't be too much trouble.  The shoulders need to be widened a touch.  It's just a lot of redrafting.  But it might be worth it for the nice style lines.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.