Friday, July 29, 2011

Sewing in DC: Singa, Inc.

Exterior of Building
So remember Garment District, the pop-up emporium for local designers in the Spring? It was a bummer that it had to come to an end, and the beautiful building where it sits at 7th and New York Ave NW has been empty since. So imagine my delight when I was walking home from the gym one night and saw this sign in the upstairs window advertising sewing lessons. So exciting! This is a prime location a fairly easy reach from all 5 metro lines near lots of night life and some retail with a lot of foot traffic. Sewing has gone high profile!

Piqued My Interest!

I looked around for more information and found this set of flyers on the door at street level. Apparel, fashion, and textile classes? Be still my beating heart! I wrote down the information and checked out their website when I got home.

I liked what I saw. They have a good solid set of classes, from comprehensive Sewing I-III courses, to one day fun classes on topics such as crazy quilting and refashioning. I sent an email to singainc [at] yahoo (don't want to get them spammed!) to learn more.

Singa Student (with teacher) The founder, Ms. Jackie Hart, quickly got back to me and arranged for me to visit a class. Singa, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1996 with the goal of promoting local fashion in DC. Offering sewing lessons to the public is only a part of its mission. DC has an active summer youth employment program, to keep kids out of trouble and introduce them to earning money. Singa has participated in the program several times, taking 100 kids who have never sewn and by the end of the summer they've made at least 6 of an item (tote bag, apron, etc.), created and defended a business plan, and taken their items to Eastern Market to sell. One of the students ended up with an order for 25 more aprons!

Singa Student (male) And of course there are the sewing lessons in DC! For a 10 week session with two hour classes fees range from $130-$160 (do the math--that breaks down to less than $10 per hour). They also have one day courses, such as for a crazy quilt or altering jeans into a skirt, for $50-$60. For the small class size, professional equipment, and talented and experienced teachers these are a real bargain. The class I observed was a Sewing II class taught by a former sewing teacher at Wilson High School. The students were clearly learning good fundamentals in a logical way, including the importance of precise cutting, good pinning, and careful stitching. As there were only 3 students in the class I visited, each of them got plenty of personal attention.

Singa Student (designer) Ms. Hart's true passion is design incubation in DC. She is a graduate of FIT and was a buyer for DC's venerable (and now departed) Woodward & Lothrop department store. In addition to her work with Singa, she teaches fashion history and textile science at the Art Institute of Washington. There are very few local internship opportunities and job opportunities for the students and graduates. Rather than seeing all the graduates have to move to New York or overseas to engage in their passion and profession, she would like to create an incubator/coop space where designers can go to work, get marketing help, and be connected with local boutiques looking for local designs.

This young lady in the sewing class is a designer--working under the name Thembe Fashions--who wants to learn how to sew to improve her skills. She will be participating in a fashion show next month.

Professional Dress Forms Do these professional dress forms make you swoon? I sure did. Turns out these are just a few of the forms Singa owns. How about these little half-size ones for draping? And then Ms. Hart mentioned that 20 industrial machines along with industrial sergers, hemmers, tackers, and zigzaggers that the organization has in storage.... These are meant to go into the design incubator space. Potential DC Project Runway contestants, take note of where you can learn how to use an industrial sewing machine!

The Fall session of classes will begin in September and will likely be held at the 7th and NY Ave NW location, 1005 7th St. NW. Singa is looking for a more permanent home (that beautiful old building is in some disrepair and does not have adequate heating for the winter). Visit Singa's website or email them at singainc [at] yahoo for more info on the classes.

All photos are here

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Simplicity 2601, Midriff Peplum Blouse

S2601 Thumbnail

I was drawn to Simplicity 2601 by the shaped midriff and peplum, both elements that I find flattering for me. I also like the choice of collars and sleeve variations. I like it so much I've made it twice! These are both old projects that I never got around to reviewing. I made the polka dot one in July 2008 and the pink version last September in my sewing mania for my trip to Turkey.


I made this cotton blouse from a small G Street Fabrics $2.97/yd table find (of course). I bought the fabric in March '09 and sewed it up in July '09, which is not too shabby in my world of stashing. I don't find a lot of plain woven cotton on the $2.97/yd table (and in fact they now have a separate table for woven cotton prints, I think it's $5.97/yd), so I wonder if this was a small remnant from a higher priced bolt. I know they occasionally toss those onto the $2.97/yd table.

Before Rick Rack For some reason in 2009 I got the idea in my head of wearing red, white, and blue the entire week of July 4th. The blouse went together pretty quickly the weekend before. I used the rolled hem foot on my machine to hem the flounce--a serger rolled hem is so much easier! When it was all done, the flounce barely showed up and the blouse just looked like undifferentiated polka dots. I was so annoyed! All the work to hem the flounce for nothing.

Rick Rack Closeup

After some thought, I decided to take a cue from the pattern envelope, which shows random rickrack trim on View C. I didn't like they way they had placed the rickrack on that view, but rickrack seemed like the perfect choice. I love rickrack but it is hard to find a place for it in adult garments. I think it works here--it doesn't come off juvenile to me and it allows the midriff and the ruffle to pop on this blouse.

Polka Dot with White Skirt

I have become a lot more picky in the past couple years about how things look on the inside. Ugly Interior of Polka Dot I used commercial bias tape to finish the neckline of this version because I happened to have some navy on hand, but it looks so ugly on the inside! At least I lined the midriff.

I styled it with my Burda 03-2009-104 white skirt for my 4th of July red, white, and blue extravangza. I still have this skirt in my closet but I never wear it because I'm afraid of getting it dirty! This blouse, although it had been pre-washed, bled dark blue onto the waistband. I was able to get it mostly out with oxyclean, but it made me paranoid. Plus, I can't bike in it.



After I made the polka dot blouse I was looking through the other reviews of the pattern. I love how Katie N turned this pattern into a dress. Her review inspired me to make the little collar, as it has such 40s retro appeal that was not apparent to me from the pattern envelope.

The hot pink dotted swiss is from Fabric Mart in September 2010. At only $1.99/yd, how could I pass it up? And how fortuitous that the rayon satin I purchased from last year for linings ($2.79/yd) matched exactly for the bias tape? I sewed up the fabric within a few days of receiving it. I got three fabrics in that order, two of them specifically for my trip and I decided if I sewed this one too the entire order wouldn't count! (I still have quite a bit of the pink left, though.)

Balloon Peplum I cut the peplum a little longer on this version to play with it. At first I lined it with silk organza and folded it completely in half for a full balloon effect, but that was a little too much. So I ended up using the silk organza as as extension to make it a little longer. It still has a balloon hem, but the effect is fairly subtle.

Underlap and Buttons I really didn't have any buttons that looked good with this blouse but because I was making this under a time crunch for my trip I didn't have time to make the long trek out to G Street and Joann. It's honestly not *that* much quicker for me to get to Georgetown, but at least I can go by bike rather than relying on the bus so I headed over to Exquisite Fabrics. I was pleased to find these sweet little buttons in clear with a pink tint (the pink tint is lost in the photo in competition with the pink of the fabric). They were perfect!

Satin Bias Binding The inside of this blouse looks much neater! I made my own bias tape of rayon satin in perfectly matching hot pink. As I usually do for finishes, I just pressed the bias tape in half, rather than creating double folds, and stitched the raw edge to the blouse's raw edge. Then I turned it under and pressed. Because this blouse is underlined I was able to hand-stitch the binding to the underlining to keep it in place.

I used the tie sleeves on this version because I thought they were so cute, but I am not entirely sure they work. Even though my swiss dot is a very lightweight batiste, the ties seem rather bulky and the ends stick out rather than laying down.

PInk Side Polka Dot Front I think this is a great pattern. The cut is flattering and it has interesting details with lots of them to choose from. The only thing I don't like about it is that there is a gap below the underlap that makes the blouse suitable for wearing only with high waisted skirts or pants, lest you show skin there. Unfortunately, it is an inherent problem with the style. You could extend the underlap, but then you'd lose the flow of the peplum there and it would look heavy.

I still haven't made my dress version of this, but I am sure I will get around to it someday!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pattern Review Photo Posting

I have posted this information at least a dozen times on Pattern Review, so to save myself the trouble I am making this a blog post so I can refer people to it. Sorry for the housekeeping, regular readers! Just skip over this.

There are two places you might want to post photos on PR: in your review and on the message board. I will explain both.

However, for either one, the first thing you have to do is host your photos somewhere online. They must be uploaded to an internet server. PR cannot reach into your computer to display your photo to the other users anytime they want to see it (a good thing!--you don't want other people to be messing around in your computer). Instead, PR will query the server where your photos are stored in the internet. Flickr, Picasa, and Photobucket are free hosts. PR offers a very small amount of space to members, about enough to hold 15 medium (600 px or so on either dimension) photos. Some internet service providers include some hosting space in their packages.

It doesn't matter what size your photos are, as long as your host will accept that size.

Once you have uploaded your photo, you need to find the photo's URL. The photo's URL is NOT the address of the webpage on which you view the photo, it is the address of the photo itself (when such a URL is pasted into the white bar at the top of your browser, you see a page that just has the photo and nothing else, like this. Do NOT click and copy the white address bar at the top of your browser. The URL will end in .jpg (with a few rare exceptions for other photo formats, such as .gif).

To clarify Alexandra's point: For pattern reviews, you are not *required* to use the photo's URL. if you use the URL of the webpage where the photo can be seen, rather than the URL of the photo itself, the link will work. When the review is opened and the reader clicks on the thumbnail at the top of the review, a new tab will open displaying the page where the photo can be seen. However, the shrink/magnify function in the gallery will not work.

Using the URL of the webpage where the photo can be seen, rather than the photo's .jpg URL, will NOT work on the message board. No photo will be displayed, and there will be no link generated.

The screencap below shows you how to do it in flickr. That is the hosting service I use; I do not know exactly how it's done in Picasa or Photobucket (users of those services, I'd be grateful if you had screencaps to donate).

Photo URL in Flickr

The fabulous sewing community has come to the rescue for other services!

Sandi explains: With Photobucket, you can click on your picture's info and there are four options below the preview. Clicking on the URL will automatically copy it for use on PR. You can also right click the photo itself (any photo) and chose "Copy URL" from the options.

AllisonC investigated Picasa: You click on a photo and the information comes up on the right of the screen. Under Tags, click on "Link to this Photo" and it will give you 2 options. One for linking [the webpage on which the photo is displayed] and one for embedding the image [the photo's URL].

Another Picasa method from jenleeC:  Right click on the photo and select "Properties". A box will pop up and in the middle of the box the "Address: (URL)" can be seen. Copy and paste this your PR review.


There are two steps to putting a photo in a review: the larger photo that displays when clicked and the tiny thumbnail that displays in the gallery.

First, the larger photo

Adding a Shrink/Magnify Review Thumbnail

When you are first drafting a review, the screen above displays before you get to the actual review form.  Copy the photo's URL, the one that ends in .jpg, into the box indicated in the screencap above.

The URL is required for the shrink/magnify function in the review gallery to work.  You can enter the web address where the photo is displayed in this box (something like this:, but the shrink/magnify function will not work.

You can add this later if you miss this screen!  Enter the URL into the box called "Finished Garment Photo URL" in the review form.  It is circled in orange two photos below (the one that shows you how to add a thumbnail to a review).

Second, the thumbnail. When you have finished your review or when editing your review, you need to upload a photo from your computer to be the thumbnail in the gallery. Yes, this is confusing because I just said you have to host your photo somewhere on the internet. PR hosts this tiny 100 by 100 px photo on its own servers. PR automatically resizes your photo to 100x100 so you do not have to do anything about the size of the photo (but keep in mind that anything but a square will be cropped funny--it's best to start with a square; more on that here).  If you do not upload a thumbnail, your review will not display in the review gallery.  It will go to the review list, but the vast majority of PR users look at the gallery rather than the list.

The can be uploaded in one of two places.

This is how you add a thumbnail to a review on the first go-round. This screen appears after you have published your review or saved it as a work in progress.  Click on the photo to enlarge so you can follow the five steps:

Gallery Photo

If you miss that screen, don't worry. You can edit the review and add a thumbnail in edit mode.

 This is how you add a thumbnail to a review you are editing (see also, the top item circled, which is how you add the shrink/enlarge URL link if you missed it when first creating your review):

Adding a Thumbnail Photo


In addition to reviews, you might want to put a photo in a message on the message board. Now, for posting on the message board, the size of your photos DOES matter. Huge photos are not automatically resized and you end messing with the formatting. The photo hosts listed above allow you to get code for various sizes of the same photo. You want one that is no more than about 500 pixels wide. The default image size on Flickr is a good size for the message board, though I sometimes go a little smaller if it's not a detailed photo.

To post an image on the message board, you must be in "full post" mode you can't use the "quick post" box at the bottom of the page. Either hit "reply" to a message in the thread or hit "post reply" on the lower right below the posts.

Once you have the full post window open, click on the button that says "Image" above the text box on the right. Then enter the URL of the photo (ends in .jpg) in the dialog box that appears. Once you press "enter," the formatted html will automatically appear at the bottom of your post. If you intended to insert the photo in the middle of your text, well, it still goes to the bottom. Go down there and highlight the code, which will say something like < IMG SRC='xxxxxx.jpg'> (extra spaces added so blogger wouldn't read that as code) and cut and paste to where you'd like it to be.

Photo on Message Board

Do note if you're using the PR photo album, that the code provided for displaying the image actually won't work on the message board.

In the photo album, when you click on "html" just to the right of the photo a window pops up. The second bit of code in red looks something like this (spaces added so it wouldn't be read as a link)

< img src = " " border="0" alt="photo" >

However, the message board html uses the single quote rather than the double quote, and doesn't accept the border data.

So copy that text, paste it into your message and then edit the text to change the " to ' and delete the
border="0" alt="photo"

Make sure that there is not a space between your .jpg' and your closing bracket >

I can't demonstrate what the code should look like because it will be formatted, but with spaces it should look like this:

< img src = ' ' >

In real life, the only space in the code should be between img and src. When the auto-format Image button is used IMG SRC is capitalized, but that *shouldn't* make a difference.

Alternatively, you can just copy the part of the code, the photo's URL, and then use the "Image" button as illustrated above.

I provided this information on PR here.

Please let me know if you have any more questions and I will add to this post if needed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Burda 7658, Yellow Eyelet Notched Collar Shirtdress

Burda 7658 Thumbnail

I bought this lovely yellow eyelet fabric from Mood in NYC in 2008, using a gift certificate given to me by a friend as a thank you for sewing lessons. The eyelet was $18/yd--I would never have paid that on my own but it is gorgeous. And because it is gorgeous and expensive, I felt that I had to find the perfect pattern. It has shown up in various sewing plans over the years, but I never found the platonic ideal pattern.

But then last year I was innocently walking down the street and saw a woman in white eyelet shirtdress with cutaway shoulders and a notched collar and realized I had found my pattern. I bought a Vogue pattern (OOP 8383) but it wasn't *quite* what I was looking for. Then I randomly lucked into Burda 7658 for $1 while pawing through a huge table of patterns at G Street Fabric when they discontinued Burda and Simplicity. What luck! It was truly meant to be.

Trim Undercollar The underlining is an embroidered cotton-poly Cynthia Steffe fabric from Paron's Annex, purchased in 2009 for $4/yd. I wasn't keen on its original pale yellow color so I overdyed it with turmeric, which actually worked really well. But it's a thin fabric that would need to be lined and it read more "poly" than "designer" or "cotton." I had a pattern idea for it but wasn't enthused to sew it up any time soon. I assumed I'd underline the eyelet in white. But then, they were sitting next to each other on the fabric shelf and I had an "I wonder...." moment and put them together. LOVE. The yellow underlining works so much better than white for this project. And plus, using up two fabrics in one project? Even better than killing two birds with one stone, particularly since I am a vegetarian.

To save fabric (I ended up with a few scraps of the eyelet, but not even an inch of remaining yardage) and reduce bulk, I cut the undercollar only of the underlining. To get a good turn of cloth I trimmed the side and outer edges just a fraction. The
end result is sharp, and the undercollar does not show unless flipped up.

Armscye Bias Tape I finished the armscyes with bias tape cut of white cotton batiste (which is going to get gross from my sweat--at least the underlining is already yellow!) and hand-stitched the tape to the underlining.

For the back facing, I did the now usual Sunny Gal Studio clean finish facing method of sewing the interfacing right sides together with the facing along the outer edge and then flipping to the inside before fusing. I hand-stitched it down to the underlining to avoid any kind of facing flappery.

Skirt Facing Finish I wanted to have a similar clean finish on the self-facing for the skirt, and because I was underlining I was able to do so. First, I fused interfacing to the underlining's wrong side from the outer edge minus seam allowance to about an inch past the fold line. I zigzagged the long edges of these interfacing strips so that if the glue gives the interfacing won't start peeling off in sheets (yuck!). Next, I placed fashion fabric and underlining, underlining wrong side to fashion fabric right side along the outer vertical edges and serged. (The wrong side to right side thing is because I wanted the right side--the embroidered side--of the underlining to show through the eyelet holes.) Then I opened out the pieces and folded along the outer vertical edges (front opening edges) to enclose the serging and pressed. The serged stitch shows through the eyelet holes, but as this is the self-facing that was folded to the inside and would never be seen, that was totally fine.

It worked out very well. As with the back facing and sleeve bias finish, I hand-stitched the front facing (including skirt self-facing) to the underlining for a very tidy finish.

Yoked Pocket As mentioned, it was a very tight squeeze on the eyelet fabric and I couldn't fit two full pockets into the layout. It's common to use a different fabric for the front pocket, which is folded to the interior, so it was a no-brainer to cut one set of pockets from the underlining fabric. But the pocket is set into a yoke, and at least part of the back pocket is meant to show. I thought about it for a while and then took my inspiration from jeans. I cut the yoke part plus about 1.5" out of my eyelet, which fit into the little spot I had left, and cut a another set of full pockets of the underlining. I stitched the eyelet pocket yoke to the underlining pocket piece and treated them as one when setting in the pocket. Nobody would ever guess my secret!

Fit Fix Confident in my Burda fit--after all, the envelope claims it is "The Pattern that Fits!"--I cut my usual sizes: 34 at the shoulder and bust, 36 at the waist, 38 at the hip. The envelope says the dress is "Fitted" and boy was it ever. This was quite snug, much more so than I would expect a 36 to be even with my fairly bulky fabric layering. I was extremely frustrated by that. I let out the side seams from below the bust to waist, and on the underlap placket I folded the facing outward to give myself an extra quarter of an inch there (click the photo to enlarge). It fits now, with a small amount of ease. But only a small amount of ease, which is not ideal for (1) summer heat or (2) longevity of garment. Boo! Next time I sew from a Burda envelope I will look more closely at sizing.

Goodwill Buttons

I purchased the buttons at a Goodwill trunk show a couple of years ago and LOVED them. I couldn't get a great shot; they are resin-y with embedded white bits near the base, a deep rich color, and lots of shine. I tagged them for this dress as soon as I had my shirtdress epiphany and am so happy with how they look on it! There were seven of them, which worked out just about perfectly. I never follow the button placement guide on patterns, spacing the buttons according to my preferred neckline and their size.

Because of the bulk of the fabric, I didn't want to do a turned under hem. In hindsight, I could have used hem tape or ribbon for a neater look. For the most part, I sewed the fashion fabric and underlining as one. When sewing the side seams, I left the seam unsewn about 6 inches from the hem so the fashion fabric and underlining would be free of one another. I marked and pressed the hem on both the fashion fabric and underlining. Then I turned under and stitched a small hem on the underlining. Once it was hemmed, I finished the side seams, catching in both fashion fabric and underlining. Finally, I serged the edge of the fashion fabric about 2 inches from the fold and stitched the hem to the underlining by hand, enclosing the underlining's hem. I had shortened the hem about 1.5 inches in cutting, due to my limited fabric, and cut off another 1.5 inches after marking the hem. This is meant to have a long skirt I guess?

Burda 7658 Side

I did not do a perfect job on this. I should have treated the floral cutouts as stripes, but they are not lined up at all and somehow I cut the collar way off grain (doesn't affect how it lays but the floral motif makes it obvious). But it is an adorable dress and I am so happy finally to have sewn this beautiful fabric! It came out just as I had envisioned. I love that it can be worn with brown or white (and I'm sure other colors). It can also be worn without a belt on those crazy hot days such as we are having now (given that it is inappropriate to come to work in a bikini). Although I do not wear much brown, that's how I ended up styling it the first day I wore it because I really liked the touch of safari to the look.

I am trying to make this summer all about fearlessly sewing Too Good to Use. My current project is a beautiful silk impulse buy from Kashi, and I *will* get to the silk jersey I bought with the same gift certificate.

What Too Good to Use fabric are you going to sew up next???

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Two Peas in a Pod

Matching Dresses Cidell invited me to be her (platonic friend) date to a party for Artscape, a wonderful Baltimore street festival for art, food, and music. I wasn't sure what to wear so I sent her a list of about a dozen dresses to choose from and she felt that my Burda 06-2010-123 silk jersey sack dress best fit the vibe of the summer cocktail party.


In fact, she liked it so much for the party that she made her own! We discussed whether it would be weird to wear the same dress, but concluded that your average non-sewist would never know it was the same dress because the fabric is different. It is my guess that people would actually be more likely to think we were wearing matching dresses if we wore completely different dresses out of the same fabric than dresses from the same pattern in different fabric. Alas, I had already given my dress of the yellow and gray fan fabric (purchased together at Jomar) to the Goodwill; it never stopped feeling like a nightgown to me. So doing the real twinsie thing was not possible. This is probably a mercy.

Swayback Adjustment When I finished this dress last year, I realized that it really needed a swayback adjustment. Not only do I have a fairly extreme swayback to begin with, but the weight of the elastic casing along the back shoulder pulls the dress down in back so that the front neckline comes up as high as possible. According to the line drawing, the dress is supposed to be a more balanced and hang from the shoulder rather than the front neck, but I don't know how to make that happen.

So the combination of my swayback and backward pull of the dress were resulting in major puddling over the booty. I opened out the shoulder/yoke seam and shortened the back by 2 inches at center back, as you can see on the left. It really could have used another inch and a half but that just seemed crazy so I stayed at two. it still has a little draping over the booty, but is much improved.

Matching Dresses

As predicted, nobody seemed to notice that we matched, just that we looked fabulous (heh). We spent the evening chilling on a rooftop, mingling, and watching fireworks before I headed back home on the Amtrak. I actually had not worn my silk jersey sack dress but once, because of the swayback problem. I'm glad Cidell prompted me to fix it so I can wear it for the rest of summer. I am loving the way it looks with my 06-2009-151 obi.

All the photos of this dress are here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stashoholism Confessional: I Have No Excuse

G Street 7-2011

Yes, I have fallen. After I was getting all smug about it, too. However, I took to heart KBenco's comment on this post:

"My theory is that if you don't keep buying pretty fabric when you see it, the what-was-i-thinking fabric multiplies and takes over the stash."

Ha! I love that. I am blaming all of this on you, KBenco!!! I think what really happens is that you eventually skim off the cream of your stash, leaving only the serviceable but boring fabrics. However, I can't really pretend that I am in any danger of doing this, since I keep track of projects waiting for me in stash and there are more than 20 on the list. At the rate I have been sewing lately, I have the next 10 months or so set up for me.

But I think that's the key. I have been SO BUSY lately, uncharacteristically so, and haven't had time for a good sew since before I went on my trip. Even over the 4th of July, which was a 4 day weekend for me, I had about 3 hours to sew in total. Boo!!!! I have found that when I don't have time to sew, I am actually more likely to buy fabric because it's a way to stay connected to my hobby. I need to carve out some time for me and my sewing machine.

Fabric for M6279 However, I did keep to my mindfulness goal and bought fabric only for which I could envision a specific project. On the far left in the photo is a sort of seersucker, sort of denim, stretch on grain (rather than crossgrain) fabric that immediately brought to mind McCall 6279. I just love this dress, even though I am not usually crazy about safari styles. I considered several fabrics in stash for it, but nothing worked quite right. This fabric, which probably looks like a plate of spaghetti on your monitor, is a dark off-white background with tiny pinstripes in chambray blue and red. Frankly, I don't know how it will look as a dress in real life, because it's the kind of fabric that if you look at it too long you kind of go into an acid trip; it must have to do with the colors creating illusions of shadow and depth. Sewing it will be interesting.

Next is the one fabric I meant to buy, a random knit for muslining my self-drafted version of McCall 6363. It was the only knit of suitable weight of which there was enough fabric, I hope. I was hoping for 2 yards but it is only 1 5/8 yard. I can make the muslin short.

The purple stretch sateen made me think of my mom. Purple is her favorite color and she asked me a couple of weeks ago if I thought someone her age could wear satin. She is making a passel of junior bridesmaid dresses for a friend out of blue satin and apparently anticipates having some left. I saw the purple sateen and just couldn't resist. I've ordered (oops) a black and white knit to make a top and will make a simple elastic waist A line skirt (per her preference) of the purple. I'd prefer a trumpet skirt, but I think she will be more comfortable in an A line.

Fabric for V8706 I was so thrilled to see right after I bought Vogue 8706 that Amanda S. had made it, particularly her hints on the small bust situation. She used a double knit, which it hadn't occurred to me to choose for this pattern but it is nice to have a sturdier fabric in a very fitted dress. So here is my animal print. Not quite a double knit but a fairly sturdy knit. I don't know if it will "count" with the boyfriend--I think he is more into traditional leopard--but it is much more palatable to me!

The last fabric is a lightweight gray denim, again with the stretch on grain rather than crossgrain. I think G Street must have gotten offcuts from a denim manufacturer. I have been thinking of (*gasp*) shorts for this summer. They are very fashionable right now and there are lots of polished styles out there. My objection to shorts is their informality, but the styles I'm seeing now are not for athletics (do NOT get me started about people wearing athletic gear as real clothes) but are meant for nicer occasions. Burda has published several shorts patterns lately, including a couple with size zips so I don't have to deal with the whole fly front situation. I also got enough of this fabric to make a skirt as well. It's a nice color and weight.

If only I could buy sewing time at G Street, I'd be all set!

Let me live vicariously through you. What are you sewing?


Bunny asked what I used to underline my gray voile flounce dress. I edited the blog post (sorry I didn't put it in the first place) to reflect that I used cotton batiste to underline the bodice. I almost always use cotton batiste as bodice lining for summer dresses, because it is very lightweight, breathes well, and sweat evaporates from it more quickly than traditional lining fabrics (the downside is all that sweat makes it start to look icky and yellowed after a while). I usually line the skirt with something more substantial and slippery.

I ordered my cotton batiste from Vogue Fabrics last year, after researching to find the best price. I am pleased with the quality and it has sewn up well.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Simplicity 4074, Knit Trumpet Skirt

S4074 Skirt Thumbnail

One of the biking skirts I made for my trip to the Netherlands was the knit trumpet skirt from Simplicity 4074. This is one of those patterns with fairly ugly illustrations that turns out lovely garments. I made the mock wrap dress in 2007 and again in 2008. I still haven't made the V neck view but I'm sure I'll get around to it someday. The pattern is still in print.

Fear not, I didn't get Botox. (Not saying I haven't considered it.) The picture on the left was taken four years ago, when I made the gray skirt (if the date on my computer is to be believed the photo was taken on 1/27/2007). I made the rest of the gray fabric into an unsuccessful version of Vogue 8386 (the bust was too large and droopy). That dress is long gone but I still wear the skirt quite regularly. I have no idea what the fabric is--it's not a double knit but is very thick but still stretchy and has wonderful weight and flow and not a single pill in all these years. I wish I knew because I'd look for more of it. It is fantastic. From the $2.97/yd table at G Street, of course.

When I was planning my wardrobe I thought I would make a gored A line skirt out of my Spain fabric, but was not enthused about it as I don't find A lines very flattering on me. For most knit skirts I make a simple fitted tube as in this outfit, which is bikeable in a commuting situation but not comfortable enough on the bike for a full day. I don't know why it took me so long to hit upon the trumpet skirt as the perfect compromise between pencil and A line.

Button Marking Back This is a simple skirt and I don't have much to say about it! As with Simplicity 5914, my TNT woven trumpet skirt, the front and back are cut from the same pieces. As my front and back are not shaped the same, I have to take in at the side back seams for swayback and general fitting. Unfortunately, I was in such a hurry when making this skirt that I did not take any photos to document the process, but it is intuitive once you have the skirt cut out and initially constructed. Just try it on and pin out the excess.

To make it easy on myself when getting dressed, I sew a button into the center back waist so I can tell which side goes where. You can use a length of ribbon as a faux tag (or a real tag, if you have them), but I have a glut of buttons due to Fabric Mart's 4 pound bags (alas, no longer available).

Burda 05-2011-107 Gray Skirt Back

This is a great TNT to have in my pattern arsenal. It is a flattering shape for me--giving the idea of "curvy" rather than "wide"--but it has plenty of volume and movement at the hem for biking or other activities. I have been wearing my Spain fabric skirt a ton since I made it, as I love the colors and it goes with just about every top I made for the trip.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


As for the Prison Matron dress, the random number generator has chosen... lsaspacey! I've sent her an email.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Burda 04-2010-105, Flounce Dress (or, I Don't Hate Gray, I Promise)

04-2010-105 Thumbnail

I bought this fabric from Vogue Fabrics last year; when I bought cotton batiste from them I figured I might as well throw in a fun fabric if I was paying shipping anyway, and it was only $3.99/yd. It's a beautiful cotton voile with a very subtle sheen and a texture I have decided is really large scale swiss dot. Amazingly, when I purchased it I had it in mind for Burda 04-2010-105 and did not change my mind in the intervening year. Well, in one sense I did--I meant to make this as the blouse but in the end couldn't resist making it a dress.

I raised the neckline by 1.75 inches, and correspondingly altered the ruffle piece according to Eugenia's helpful instructions. Raising the neckline is easy as the neckline is just a slit along the center front.

SBA and BBA I made an SBA by narrowing the bust dart. I ended up adding vertical waist darts before sewing on the skirt, because it was just too big in front for my taste, but luckily the bust still fits well and is not too large. I also did a broad back adjustment. I thought I might want to sew the back dart up higher to control puffiness, but the loose fit of the dress doesn't require it. You can see the fullness I added in the back view, but it doesn't look terrible and I have plenty of movement.

Swayback I did not make a swayback adjustment to the pattern, as the bodice is cut off right at natural waist. I make my swayback adjustment just below natural waist, so I assumed I would need to make it on the skirt rather than the bodice. I basted (all right, I didn't baste, I just sewed) the skirt to the bodice and whoa! Swayback Wedge Horrifying swayback dip in the back bodice. You can see the line of pins there where I tried to mark a straight line (it's a little high). I took off the skirt and pinned it back in place with a larger and larger seam allowance in the bodice CB, tapering to nothing extra at the sides, until I got it right.

I checked the new position by tying a piece of elastic around my waist. The waist either still isn't straight or I have a tilted waist. I never understood what "tilted waist" meant but seeing the elastic I think I get it now. I ended up shortening the bodice by 1.5 inches at center back. That is some swayback!

Burrito Rolled Yoke The voile is very lightweight so it had to be lined or underlined anyway. Because there is a yoke I went with underlining, using cotton batiste from Vogue Fabrics. To finish/line the yoke, I used the burrito method from KBenco's blog again, and the yoke turned out gorgeous.

The rest of the bodice was underlined. So I would have lovely finished side seams, I used the faux Hong Kong finish method of cutting the underlining 5/8 inch wider than the fashion fabric at the vertical seams, serging along the vertical seams right sides together, then turning out and letting the excess underlining fold over the serged seam.

Zipper and Faux Hong Kong UnderliningBurda wanted you to finish the armscyes with bias tape before putting on the zipper. That seemed like a missed opportunity to tuck the ends of the zipper tape into the bias tape finish, so I waited until the zip was in. I had been undecided what method to use to finish the armscyes, but in the end I like the binding. I used every little scrap of the fabric and each binding is made up on 3 very short bias lengths sewn together.

I got into a little trouble with the neckline. First, I really did try to be all neat and precise with the point at the bottom of the neckline, but in the end it's all held together with indiscriminate zigzagging and Fray Check. Thank goodness for flounces, which were easy-finished with a serger rolled hem; they cover a multitude of sins.

Second, when I went to sew on the collar, it was way too long. Like 3 inches too long. I did not cut any extra off the vertical slit of the neckline, though I did take a 1/2 inch seam allowance at the upper edges. Nobody else mentioned the collar not fitting onto the neckline, so it must have been some imprecision on my part. It was thoroughly annoying.

I drafted a back facing for the neckline. I wasn't going to like it with a front facing and then the back neckline finished only by turning under the seam allowance of my (now inexplicably shorter) collar. I did the Sunny Gal Studio method of finishing the edges of the facing: sew shoulder seams of facing and interfacing separately; serge facing to interfacing along outside edge, with non-glue side of interfacing to right side of facing; turn right side out and then fuse interfacing in place.

Pleated Skirt Lining To get the facing to lay flat, I had to notch it. Does anyone else hate notching around curves? I feel like it is going to make the garment fall apart on the first wash. I notched around the collar, but fray checked every single cut.

I did a catch stitch by hand to stitch the facing to the underlining all around, so there was no chance of flopping.

For the skirt, I used rayon satin from's massive sale of Vera Wang fabrics last year. I wish I'd bought 20 yards of the satin, as it is lovely and luxurious as a lining. To reduce bulk, I pleated the skirt lining rather than gathering it as for the fashion fabric.

Deep Hem I had limited fabric left after cutting the bodice. I could either have a shorter-than-I'd-like skirt cut on grain, or a crossgrain skirt at a length I prefer. The "swiss dots" are ovals, and the ovals on the bodice are sideways (grain). I debated for a while, but decided I'd rather have a longer skirt and ovals in a different orientation; I figured it would be a rare person who would notice the orientation of the ovals.

I kept the full length of the fabric and took a very deep hem to give weight to the skirt. The hem is a full double fold, and I stitched the edge of the fabric in place right at the fold so that it couldn't crinkle up in there after washing. Then I did a machine blind stitch for the hem.

Front-Pink Back-Orange

Love this dress! The gray is a sophisticated color that offsets the flounces. I happened to catch the famous Seinfeld "Puffy Shirt" episode recently and wanted to make sure I didn't go down that road! I purposely kept a bit of ease at the waist, even with the added vertical front darts, so on hot days I can wear it without it touching me and making me sweat.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here


Some commenters accused me of being a gray-hating colorist (lol) with regard to my Simplicity 2615 Prison Matron Chic. But really, I don't hate gray! I think it's a great color, sophisticated and a blank slate for bright contrasts. Above you can see that I used this dress with orange and hot pink; it also looks great with red, lime green, yellow, teal...just about anything but brown. I also made this gray dress a couple years ago, which is still in my closet (though I admit I'm kind of over it, but only because I did a bad job on the neckline of the underlying bodice; it is kind of bulgy and too low).

Front View, The Truth Really the issue with that dress is that I know this is what it looks like in real life. It actually does not look as bad in the photo is it does in real life. Trust me, it is like two sad tiny little boobs and then a bigger belly punctuating a duct-tape expanse.

Now that I've made the voile dress, I am going to officially give up on the Prison Matron dress. A couple people mentioned they would like it on that post; leave me a comment letting me know how to get in touch with you and I'll send it on (I'll do a drawing if more than one want it). Keep in mind that it is hemmed fairly short for 5 foot tall me, with not a ton of allowance to let out. I'm keeping the sash, because I will wear it with other things, but will send you the leftover fabric so you can make your own.