Friday, May 31, 2013

Burda 06-2013-102, Pleated Bodice Downton Abbey/Gatsby Dress

Burda 06-2013-102 Thumbnail

A couple months ago BadMomGoodMom stumbled across her local jobber selling silks at $2.99/yd.  She very kindly facilitated my purchase of some of them, including this print.  It's so wacky-cool, with not one, not two, but THREE different animal prints (blue cheetah spots, green zebra stripes, and the pinkish/brown wings) and such excellent quality (thick, fluid, doesn't crease too badly) that I think it has to be designer.  It immediately made me think it was going to have to be a 20s inspired look.  Although the cheetah/zebra isn't very period-correct, the wings seem just about right.

I had been thinking possibly Burda 03-2013-113, but when I got June's issue I had to make Burda 06-2013-102 right away.  It's even a petite (though I've mentioned before that I don't think Burda actually has/uses a petite sloper), meaning I didn't have to grade to a 34 in the bodice.  I cut my usual 34 at the bust, 36 at the waist, and 38 at the hips (or 17/18/19 in petite).  This fits as a true 36 at the waist, with around an inch of ease at most; I wish I'd cut it as a 38 for more ease because it's a summer dress and in the DC heat I'm going to sweat wherever fabric touches me.  I just can't seem to get the waist size right in Burda; occasionally, I will decide to start cutting a 38 at the waist because 36 is too close fitting, but then everything comes out huge.   

The only way in which the dress actually seems petite is the very high waistline.  I have a high waist and Burda's waist placement is usually spot on for me.  This is actually about 1/2 too high, which contributes to the just-exactly-right size at the waistline.  I'd recommend measuring and possibly lengthening the bodice if you are not extremely high waisted.

This was a fairly simple project, which I needed after about a month of not really being able to sew.  I had to take my time and be a little bit slower than usual because I'm a little out of practice.  I didn't have any major mishaps or "I coulda had a V8!" moments, so my plodding caution paid off.


The dress is drafted with a facing, but I prefer to fully line silk because it makes me sweaty.  I lined the bodice with cotton batiste, and the skirt with a flowy rayon.  For the front skirt, I overlapped the left and right skirt pieces, making the skirt as wide as possible, and cut it in one piece rather than seaming. I considered trying to draft a regular darted lining instead of using the asymmetrically pleated front piece, but decided it would be a lot of trouble for not much reward.  The batiste is lightweight enough that it doesn't add any distracting bulk. 

I knew the drafted shoulders were going to be too narrow for my taste, and that the neckline would be too wide (further evidence that there is not a real petite sloper).  I pulled out my altered bodice pattern for the Burda 08-2009-128 boatneck dress since they have the same neckline.  Based on that pattern, I widened the shoulders in toward the neck by 1 1/2".  I still get plenty of boat neck effect, but without any bra strap show-through or danger of shoulders falling off.

I thought I would need to lower the front neckline quite a bit for chokiness and flattery--I have a proportionate but short neck and really high necklines aren't the best for that.  However, I only needed to lower the neckline by 1/2" to get it to a nice spot.

Keep Sleeve Halves Together with Ease Stitching

To up the vintage vibe, I used the drapey sleeves from the Burda 03-2008-116 Duchess of Windsor dress (previously made in knit).  Rather than sew the shoulder seam of the sleeve (the sleeves are cut in two pieces), I finished the edge with a serger rolled hem for a split sleeve.  To stitch it in place, I put the edges flush together when putting in the ease stitching.  It worked like a charm!

I had trouble keeping the sleeve seam allowance pressed toward the bodice, so I hand stitched the seam allowance to the lining.

Sketch Keyhole
For further vintage-ness, I shamelessly ripped off Kristy at Lower Your Presser Foot and put in a keyhole neckline above the center back zip (I should mention that as drafted the dress has no CB seam and a side zip).  I just sort of sketched the opening onto the interfacing using a Frixion pen, mirrored it on the other side, and followed the line when stitching the lining to the dress.

I used a rouleau loop for the button, tacking it into place on the fashion fabric before adding the lining.

Zipper/Keyhole Intersection

To get a neat finish at the zipper, I marked the position of the upper zipper stop on my lining and stitched my keyhole, keeping the upper edge of the zipper to the right of the presser foot when I got there.  Just above the zipper stop, I put down the needle, pivoted, and stitched two stitches over to put the zipper teeth to the left of the presser foot.  Then I stitched down the zipper tape as usual to enclose the zip in the lining.

Buttons from Nana

I used one of the buttons I inherited from my grandmother's sewing room as the closure.  I don't know if the photo is clear enough to tell, but the brown dots are actually tiny flowers.  I know these are meant to be buttons for children's clothes, but I look for every opportunity to use these special buttons.  I sew so little brown that I didn't think I'd ever use these.

Interface Waist Edge of Fashion Fabric

One thing I often forget to do, but thank goodness remembered this time, was to add some interfacing to the lining at the neckline and down through the keyhole opening.

On the fashion fabric, I interfaced the zipper area.  I also interfaced the waistline of the bodice, as it would be supporting a fair amount of weight from the skirt. So as not to interfere with the drape of the waist pleats, I broke the interfacing line there.

Toddler Hem (Too big to be a baby hem)

I shortened the hem nearly two inches before cutting.  I probably should have only taken off one inch, as I think this could have worked at a slightly longer length.  However, I like the length it turned out so that's fine.  I did a fairly terrible job on the hem, doing a toddler (or even teenager)-sized baby hem where you stitch the raw edge under and the turn it under again.  For the lining, I serged the lower edge, then used the serging as a marker for turning under twice.  The lining hem is much nicer than the dress hem.  *rollseyes*

Double Inverted Pleat with Badge Loop

My "special feature" on this dress is a loop hidden in the skirt pleat to hold my work badge.  I didn't want to put pockets into the side seams due to (1) laziness, and (2) I didn't want to add weight to the side seams that would interrupt the flow of the dress in motion.  Mostly (1) though.

Work ID Badge Loop

For dresses without pockets, I put a safety pin into the waist seam of dresses to hang my badge on.  For silk, I didn't want to be poking a safety pin into it all the time.  I've been intending to add a small hanging loop to dresses for a while, and with the inverted pleats in this one it was the perfect opportunity.

The skirt has essentially a really big inverted pleat that you layer into two inverted pleats.  I put the hanging loop inside the innermost inverted pleat.

When I finally had some time to sew a couple weekends ago, I couldn't concentrate on one thing for longer than a few minutes.  I wanted to do all the projects at once and was paralyzed (I ended up making a bias half slip, a hat, and some pot holders).  For this weekend, I realized that PR was having its Natural Fibers Contest, which gave me the impetus to focus on one project.  I am happy my brain calmed down enough to concentrate on one thing for more than 12 seconds!


I like this dress.  I'm not 100% sold on my print placement.  I didn't want to have a wing motif anything like centered on the bodice front, as it would look like a strange superhero costume.  But I didn't think about it being right at the neckline; it looks a little like a bib.  Hopefully I will unsee that at some point.

Modern Styling

At any rate, it's fun to dress up.  You can embrace the vintage and go all out, but it can be styled more modern as well.   It's one of those pieces I'll keep in the closet long after the current Gatsby trend ends in case a vaguely 20s look is ever needed.

I think this pattern would work equally well in a more casual cotton, and of course  you could easily put a different skirt on the bodice to change up the look.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Variations on a Tee # 8: Kwik Sew 3915 Collared Tee

KS 3915 Thumbnail

Now that Kwik Sew has been taken over by BMV, it is included in the sales so I have acquired a number of their patterns.

One of the patterns I picked up is Kwik Sew 3915, a t-shirt with two neckline options.  I've seen this style of collar in a number of ready-to-wear pieces, including this St. John's Knit ($295).  You know how much I love t-shirt variations, so I had to give this one a try.  I used one of the athletic knits from Fabric Mart.  This is a really nice thick and beefy knit with good recovery.  I almost regretted using it for regular clothes because it is definitely athleticwear-worthy!

Full disclosure:  it's unfair to call this a review of Kwik Sew 3950, because the only thing from the KS pattern in the finished top is the width of the collar.  I used the body of my TNT tee so I wouldn't have to worry about fit, copying the KS neckline onto it, and then ended up altering the neckline substantially.

KS 3915 Pattern Printing Error (?)

There is a printing error, or at least a printing weirdness, on the pattern sheet.  There are two neckline choices for the top; the collar is View A.  So I traced and cut where it says "View A" and has arrows pointing to the various sizes.  When I went to sew the collar in place, it wouldn't fit.  Then I realized that I shouldn't have cut where the arrows point to View A, but where "View A Neckline" is printed.  I was pretty annoyed.

KS 3915 As Drafted

As drafted, I am way not into the KS collar.  The neckline is super high, which is not a look I find flattering or comfortable.  After sewing it up as drafted I thought about trying to live with it, or maybe adding some hand gathering to the collar to widen the neck opening, but finally decided, Nope, not happening, and ripped off the collar.

I went back and looked at my inspiration piece and saw that the neckline opening in the body of the shirt was much lower than in the KS.

I cut a new square neckline in the front with the bottom of the square at the lower edge of the bridge on my bra (the collar fills in the space, raising the neckline higher; there is no chance of bra show-through).  I made the lower edge of the neckline opening 2 1/4 inches wide, based roughly on the proportions in the St. John's tee.  The folded Kwik Sew collar, minus 1/4" seam allowances, is 3 1/2 inches wide.  The St. John's collar seems softly gathered into the opening, so I kept the original width of the KS collar.

The resulting neckline is 28 3/4 inches long.  Based on my pattern measurements, the KS collar is drafted to be about 90% the length of the neckline.  However, I felt that even this gentle gathering was creating pulling lines, as you can see in the photo above.  Every line is very obvious in this shiny fabric, even though I turned the shiniest side in.  So I cut the St. John's collar the full length of the neckline.

Staystitch and Clip to Inner Corner

I folded the collar in half (wrong sides together), gathered the lower edges, and stitched it into the neckline.  I had a hard time getting the square corners perfectly square.  I did my usual inset square method of reinforcing the inner corner and then clipping to the seamline.

Straighten Inner Corner to Stitched

Once it's clipped, spread it out flat for stitching.

Finished Collar Outside

The corners ended up a little rounded but I can live with it.  There are 5 layers of bulk with the double layer gathered collar laid over itself and the body of the top, which also makes the corner difficult.  Here is a view of the inside.


This top was a comedy of errors to make and took way too long for a t-shirt.  However, the final result was worth it.  It makes for a dressier, more sophisticated tee and now that I've figured out how to do it hopefully the next version will go a little quicker!  I can see myself with a whole wardrobe of this style.  It will be a nice change from my default cowl neck (not that I don't have one of those to show you soon).


The only thing I will change is to consider lowering the front neckline opening even more.  I feel the collar still comes a touch high.  However, this fabric is thick and quite substantial; a lighter-weight fabric might relax and open a little lower.  Cidell found some more of the "major brand manufacturer" base layer fabric and kindly picked some up for me in both black and navy.  The only decision I have to make is which color to choose in making a fancy summer tee!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


Thank you so much for the good thoughts for my dad.  It looked really dire for several weeks, but then it was determined that he had an undiagnosed infection.  Once they began treating that, everything turned around in a truly miraculous way.  He has been in a hospital or nursing home for over a month now, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel (we hope).


Alert:  Sew Confused is giving away a copy of Cal Patch's patternmaking book.  Visit her blog for details--it's supposed to be an awesome resource. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Kwik Sew 3968, Slipper Socks

KS 3968 Thumbnail

I have very cold feet and have one particular pair of fleece socks that I like to wear to bed in the winter.  I haven't found another pair of commercial socks that I like as much, and the socks I like were a gift many years ago so I can't get more of that particular one.  I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands, using Kwik Sew 3968.

Original Pattern

These socks are well-drafted and easy to sew.  The notches line up perfectly--as you can see on the pattern as drafted at left--and you can cut and sew a pair in well under half an hour.

Original and Modified Socks, Front

That's the good news.  The bad news is that the symmetrical draft that makes them so easy to cut, sew, and grab a pair to put on any-which-way makes them too uncomfortable for anyone to wear.  They flap around in a way that made me feel unstable.  If you want socks strictly for sitting on the couch or going to bed, they will be fine.  But if you'd like to pad around the house at all, you will need to make them conform to the non-symmetrical shape of the foot.

Original and Modified Socks, Top

You can see that the first pair gives me major duckfoot.  They felt very floppy on the feet, like they'd fall off at any second.  The last thing I want to do when I'm hanging around at home is think about whether or not my socks are falling off!

I sewed the first pair up as drafted, then put them on with the seam allowances in the outside and pinned out the extra along the inner arch of the foot, as well as at the ankle.  Then I altered the pattern to fit the foot.

Final Pattern

The altered pattern makes a great pair of lounging socks.  They conform to the shape of the foot and passively stay in place.

Modified Upper Sock

Be warned that if you are going to alter the width around the ankle, you definitely need a stretch fleece. I thought all fleece would have adequate stretch, but with a pair I made out of a less stretchy fleece I had a hard time pulling the narrow ankle over my foot.


You can't make fleece socks attractive, but it amused me to try.  I love that they have the female model on the envelope with her feet in a "sexy" pose.  I wish they had shown her face, because I'd love to see the expression on it.  "All these years of calf raises and pedicures, and *this* is where my foot model career ends up?!"

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


As I mentioned in my last post, I haven't been able to find much time for blogging lately.  Well, then things really got hard.  If you can spare any good thoughts for my dad, I'd really appreciate it.  He appears to be on the mend now (but it has been a rollercoaster for the past month and I don't want to get complacent).  There will be a lot of going back and forth to Texas and not a lot of blogging for the foreseeable future.