Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oscar de la Renta Meets Butterick 5558 Wing Collar Dress

B5558 Thumbnail

About a year ago this Oscar de la Renta boucle jacquard dress, which was $1890 at Saks (it's sold out, but for the moment is still on the website if you'd like to zoom into the details), caught my eye.   The fabric content of the original is poly/acrylic/polyamide, with a silk lining.  I looked forever for the perfect fabric.  It's tough to find a boucle that is lightweight enough to be pleated, so in the end I went a different direction with the fabric.

My starting point for this was Butterick 5558, which has the perfect collar/neckline and the empire waist.  This pattern has only two reviews, which surprises me as I think it is rather cute and purchased it before I ran across the inspiration piece.  Having made it, I am impressed with the drafting of the collar/neckline and recommend it.

Front Bodice with Original
B5558 is drafted with a peaked center front skirt, while the inspiration's bodice is straight across.  I prefer the straight across look.  The bust shaping as drafted comes from gathers; the inspiration has a dart.  Luckily, B5558 comes with a nicely drafted facing/lining for the bodice, and the lining has darts rather than gathers.  Two darts is too much for my bust, so I eliminated one of them, folding out the extra width (and did the same on the lining).

After a couple of hours of tedious re-drafting, I ended up with a front bodice that cuts straight across and has a dart.

The inspiration piece has pleating in the front skirt, but not with the volume and style as in B5558.  The back skirt of the inspiration is plain, though it has interesting seaming with the empire waist, a panel that goes to a little below natural waist, and the skirt below.  I don't understand the panel and did not copy it.   I would normally consider the plain back skirt a cheap coffin (lack of) detail, but here it seemed more sophisticated than a pleated back skirt.  Luckily, with that well-drafted B5558 lining were skirt front and back pieces with only a set of darts (rather than the voluminous pleats) and cut in an A line.

Oscar de la Renta - Bouclé Jacquard Dress - Saks.com-1

After the pattern was complete, I went to look at the inspiration piece again.  This time I noticed the curved seam detail on the skirt, which opens into the pocket.  B5558 actually has pockets, but they are standard side seam pockets.  Back to the drawing board, literally!

On the original, the curved princess piece has gathering into a single-welt-looking banded pocket.  However, with my rather stiff fabric I needed to avoid gathers.

Front Skirt Pattern

Using the pieces from my Burda 10-2007-119 seamed frilled coat as a guide, I drafted a curved princess seam onto the skirt front lining pattern.  The side front has an integrated pocket piece, and a separate pocket is sewn on to the skirt front.

Sewing Skirt Side Front Seam

I was actually a little puzzled about how to sew this, even though I'd done it for my coat.  It was so long ago that I couldn't remember. Then when I was in Savasana (I'm not a very quiet-minded yogi) it came to me that it's sewn exactly like a side seam pocket, except even easier because you don't have to clip into the back's seam allowance.  First sew the separate pocket piece onto the center front (here I used the "right" shiny side as the right side of the pocket to make the pocket a little easier to slip my ID badge in and out of).  Press the pocket outward.  Then lay the side front piece over the front, right sides together.  Easy.   The seam allowances are pressed toward the front together.  I may use this detail again in the future, as it is sneakily easy.

Pocket Closeup

To have room for the front pleats, I placed the "cut on fold" line of the front skirt (lining) piece 6 inches from the fold of the fabric.  When I was putting together the dress, I was annoyed with myself that I didn't think to line up the curved side/pocket seam with the bodice dart.  But then I had the idea to line up the outermost pleat with the bodice dart and all was well.

 The lining I placed 3 inches from the "cut on fold" line so as to ensure biking room; I did a single box pleat at CF on the lining.

The skirt as drafted is so short!  I lengthened it an inch in cutting, and ended up doing a serger rolled hem so I didn't lose any length.  It's just about right--with zero hem allowance taken up.  And, people, remember that I am 5'1"!  If I made this again, I'd add 2 1/2 inches to the skirt for adequate length and hem allowance.

Raised Neckline 3/4 Inch
Collar Closeup

In addition to the short skirt, the bodice is very low cut.  Butterick is getting sassy in its old age, apparently.  The tailor's tack shows the original depth of the V opening; you can see on me that my 3/4" did not raise it to any kind of prudish level.  Someone with an actual bust would have to raise it significantly more.

The pattern comes in sizes 6-20.  I cut my usual 6 at the shoulders and bust.  It was the right size for the shoulders, but I could have used an 8 at the bust and an 8/10 at the ribcage(!).  The size issue is almost certainly due to my extensive redrafting of the bodice, though I would guess that this pattern does not suffer from the usual Big 4 Ease of Doom.  (The extensive bust gathering will give a small bust Empty Sack Syndrome, however.)

Despite my Broad Back Adjustment, I do not have a ton of arm movement.  The shoulder is more or less where it's supposed to be, though I could shave a little bit off the front armscye.  I think it just needed more than an inch of BBA, which is kind of ridiculous.  Again, this might have to do with my front bodice redrafting/SBAing, but the side seam sits pretty much exactly on my side so I'm not totallyconvinced.

Shoulder/Back Neckline Intersection

Once the pattern was finally complete, which took probably 4 hours over several days, cutting and sewing were almost anti-climactically easy.  The instructions for the bodice are good, though they don't tell you which way to press seams, which annoys me.  All the seams I needed to know about were shown in later line drawings pressed, but it would have been nice just to have it spelled out (in case you're wondering, the shoulder is pressed open, but the back neck seam it continues onto is press down, so you need to clip the seam allowance).

The bodice front is cut with the integrated wing collar extending into back standing collar, so you need to accurately mark everything to line up the inner shoulder/neckline intersection.  I used tailor's tacks.

Zipper Outside

To get a neat finish at the back neckline and avoid having the zipper go over a seam bump unnecessarily, I used the same technique as in Simplicity 2337 and stitched the center back seam closed from the top to about 2 inches below the collar seamline, and installed the zipper below that.  The dress is a little hard to get in and out of because the empire seam catches on the bust when I lift my arms up and over to zip/unzip from the top.  But that doesn't have to do with having the neckline closed at the top.

Source: lyst.com via Trena on Pinterest

The fabric is a Maggy London brocade still available from Fabric Mart, though somehow I got it for $3.50/yd and it's now listed at $9.99.  The fiber content is no longer listed on the website, oddly; it's wool blend.  My guess is 30% wool, 60% rayon, 10% poly, but that is a total guess based on a burn test.  It's a really nice quality, presses very well, and can take heat.  I couldn't find a Maggy London piece made with this fabric. This Suzi Chin For Maggy Boutique Cap Sleeve Brocade Fit Flare Dress in Purple for $141 was the closest I could come; it's an acetate, though, so I think the wool blend probably comes from a more expensive line.


I actually used the "wrong" matte side of the fabric.  I prefer my clothes to be work-appropriate.  I just don't need fancy party clothes.

Alas, the finished dress definitely has a fancy party air because the skirt bells out in the rather stiff fabric.  But I'll still wear it to the office because, hey, I am a fancy lady.

Sleeve Hand Hem

Even as I was setting in the sleeves (I used my generic woven sleeve pattern, derived from Burda; I measured the sleeve cap and armscye of the Butterick to make sure they'd work together), I was uncertain whether I should just make this a long sleeve dress, rather than copying the original.  I decided that with the short sleeve it is a Fall, most of Winter, and early Spring dress and I would only not be able to wear it on the very coldest of winter days.

I turned up the sleeve hems, catching the sleeve lining, and then hand-stitched the hem to the lining only for an invisible look.


Now that they are in, I find the longer almost elbow-length sleeve surprisingly flattering.

This was a fun project, and the end result is an adorable dress, even if too fancy.  I will enjoy wearing it!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.  I entered it in the RTW/Designer Knockoff contest on Pattern Review.


Thank you, by the way, for the advice on returning fabric to Fabric Mart.  I returned the two knits that were just the wrong colors for me and the overly metallic-ed linen.  Two weeks after I returned it I still hadn't gotten a credit or heard anything so I contacted FM.  I thought I had lost the tracking number from USPS for the package.  They still said they'd process the return.  I later found the receipt with the tracking number and sent it to them.  I have no idea if it arrived, but hopefully they believe me that I actually physically returned the fabric and was not scamming them.

Although it was only 3 fabrics of the *ahem* many I have purchased recently, I feel so relieved!  Everything else I love and have immediate plans for.  These would have languished in stash, making me feel guilty and annoyed.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Burda Classics 2012, #0003 3/4 Circle Skirt with a Heaping Helping of FAIL

Burda Classics 2012 0003 Thumbnail

I didn't order the Burda Classics magazine from GLP--never got around to it--but while in Porto, Portugal I saw it--in French--in the window of a tiny newsstand on a little side street.  Apparently, Burda is not pronounced anything like "Burda" in Portuguese, because it took a bit of gesturing and explaining to indicate which magazine I wanted to buy (the window copy was the only one), but eventually it was mine, all mine!

I was happy to see a simple 3/4 circle skirt in the magazine.  I am just too lazy to draft my own pattern, and I had been wanting one as a bike-friendly alternative to an A line.  I thought I'd start with a silk chiffon version--it goes with a bunch of tops already in my closet and would work year round.

Well, who knew a freaking two piece skirt could be so much trouble?  I cannot even begin to describe how much fail went into this.


Fail #1:  Cutting.  This is totally, completely my fault.  The chiffon was not wide enough when doubled to accommodate the width of the skirt.  So rather than waste nearly half the width of the chiffon for each of the four pieces (two layers, front and back), I decided to just shorten the skirt.  Which might have been all good and well had I actually, you know, created a pattern that was shortened.  Because with a circle skirt you cannot mess around about length.  I have a good eye, but there is no way I can eyeball an even reduction in length across a circular hemline.  Oh, and have I mentioned I was cutting silk chiffon, which is impossible?  But yeah, I just eyeballed it.

The skirt was doomed from the start.  Behold the HORROR that is the hemline on those chiffon layers.  The HORROR.  (Note:  I did let the skirt hang before hemming and tried to even it out.  This is just bad cutting.)

Fail #2:  Fabric.  The lining layer of this is a silk/rayon from the Vera Wang collection Fabric.com acquired a couple years ago.  It was too stiff.  The 3/4 circle skirt of the Butterick 5315 Peter Pan Collar Shirtdress I made over the summer is cut in 4 pieces with a seam at center front and center back, so that the grain is bias at CF/CB rather than straight.  I think that is a better cutting layout for my body, as a straight grain at CF with extreme bias at the side seams can stick out at the hips rather than flow over them.

Mend on right side

Fail #3:  Cutting a Piece Out of an Existing Piece.  Judging from the blooper threads on PR, accidentally cutting a piece of a pattern out of a large "scrap"--which turns out, of course, to be another piece--is a common misfortune.  However, I generally lay out an entire pattern, then cut it in one fell swoop so I'd never fallen prey to this particular heartbreak.  Until now.  I decided to do a waistband, and though I had only tiny scraps left of my purple silk/rayon I found a nice selvage piece for cutting it. Except that this turned out to be one of my skirt pieces!!!!  Ugh!

I fused a strip of interfacing to the wrong side, carefully butting the cut edges together.  Then I zigzagged it from the right side, making sure the "zig" was on one side of the cut and the "zag" was on the other.  The resulting fix is not at all invisible.  Luckily, the two chiffon layers cover it up so it wasn't a tragedy, but boy was it annoying.

Fail #4:  Waist Measurement Fail.  I am a fanatical tryer-on-er during the sewing process.  Not because I am so fanatical about fit (although I am, a little), but because I'm so impatient to see what the finished product will look like.  I can waste a lot of time with this, and so I guess for this project I was like, "OMG, no!  Don't try the skirt on and twirl around after putting in the zipper but before putting on the waistband!  The waistband will take like 30 minutes, max!  Just do it!"

Before I put the zipper in, I sort of draped the skirt around my waist and it seemed kind of big.  So I put a line of ease-stitching across the top and gently pulled the ease stitching--nothing at all like gathering, just slightly reducing the waistband.

In which reduced waistline I could not, subsequently, breathe.

I think I would do well in a zombie apocalypse, because I jut don't know when to quit.

Apply Petersham Waistband

So I ripped off the $*(@(& waistband.  This time I decided to finish the waist with petersham ribbon, which I had purchased at PA Fabrics Outlet.  I used the iron to press it into a curve.  I couldn't find any information on using petersham to finish a waist without a waistband, so I had to make it up.

Topstitch Petersham In Place

I put in a (non-ease) line of stitching in a contrast color 1/4" from the top of the skirt's waist, then used this as a guide for placing the petersham against the right side of the skirt.  Rather than line up the edges, I offset the petersham, so that when folded to the inside I would have only one layer of ribbon.

This actually created a really nice waist finish.  Though I am not certain it would not have stretched out.  Does petersham stretch out?

Now I finally really did try on the skirt, and OMG!!!  So terrible!!!!  The unevenness of the chiffon layers is bad enough, but it was way too short.  It looked ridiculous on me.  The shortness made the side-seam-sticking-out worse and the skirt is about 30 years too young for me.  I was so disappointed--what a waste of this beautiful silk chiffon from the Carol Collection!

Stich on both sides of marked line

The frustrating thing about this was the effort I put into doing *some* things right.  Like the zipper.  I cut the skirt lining with a CB seam, so I could put the zipper in the center back.  I have had enough stiff, sticky-outy side zips that I go to the center back whenever possible.  I didn't want to cut my chiffon layers with CB seams and interrupt the flow, so I created an opening for the zipper.

First, I pinned my two layers together and marked the center back opening line.

I stitched barely on either side of the line by first clicking the needle to the left and running the center of the foot down the line, then turning around at the bottom of the marked line and doing the same thing on the other side.

Fraycheck Zip Opening

I clipped down the marked line, fray checked the cut edges, and zigzagged them when the fray check dried.

Narrow Hem at Zip Opening

Finally, I rolled the edges under in the narrowest possible hem, and pressed well.

Completed Zip Opening in Chiffon

The resulting opening is really nice looking.

Violet Front

After thinking about this fail of a skirt for a while, and realizing there was absolutely no way to save it, I was like, "Wait a minute, 30 years too young for me?  I think I know someone more than 30 years younger than me..."  So I ripped of the petersham waistband (yes, three different waist treatments on this FAIL of a skirt), and turned the skirt down at the waist to create a casing.  Inserted a drawstring with chiffon ends and elastic in the middle, and sent it off to my niece.

While her hair is purple she has requested to be called "Violet."  Violet does not mind the unevenness of the chiffon hems, and the skirt is plenty long on her.  And the twirl factor is much appreciated.  So this fail was snatched from the jaws of defeat, but I am still licking my wounds. Seriously, of all the complicated, difficult things I've made, a simple SKIRT is my undoing?  

As far as I know, the actual pattern is fine.  But I am having a hard time making myself give it another try!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


A word of warning to Apple users who use Flickr for their photos:

I usually use the Flickr uploader, but occasionally it acts up.  So once in a while I upload directly to flickr through iPhoto.  Well, I was cleaning up my iPhoto folders a while back and deleted the Flickr folders; deleting a folder doesn't delete the photos and I don't need them in two places.

It turns out that when you delete a Flickr folder in iPhoto it deletes the live Flickr album!!!!  No warning or by your leave, just poof.  I figured this out when I went to my Butterick 5315 blog post to get the link and all the photos were missing.  So I clicked on the link to the Flickr set and it had disappeared.  And the Catch-22 is that because deleting a folder doesn't delete the photos, the Flickr set wasn't available to just restore from trash--the only thing trashed was an overlay of organization.  Ugh!

I had to re-upload the set and then extremely tediously replace all the URLs in the post with the new URLs and then do the same thing for the PR review.  What a useless way to spend an hour.  I can't remember what other sets I had uploaded using iPhoto; if you run across post from me with all the photos missing please let me know.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Burda 06-2008-108, Shirtdress with Pleated Sleeve

Burda 06-2008-108 Thumbnail

I have been wanting to make Burda 06-2008-108 since, well, June of 2008.  It only took me 4 1/2 years to get to it.  At this rate I will be done with my sewing list in no time.

It comes in sizes 34-42, so not only did I not have to size it down at the shoulders and bust, it was on the old sheets.  So easy to trace, man.

The fabric is from the Grand Bazaar in Turkey, purchased on my trip there in 2010.  I always feel so victorious when I sew from deep stash (though I don't know if 2 years counts as deep stash).

Bind Sleeve Before Setting In

They have you bind the sleeve before setting it in, which is an interesting idea.  In reality, the sleeve ended up too tight around the bicep, so I had to undo my binding, let out the pleats, stitch extra length to the binding, and then re-sew it on.  Next time I'll just wait until the sleeve is set in and fitted as usual!

Stitch Collar Band to Neckline

I am pretty sure I didn't sew a single collar with collar band in 2012.  Traditional blouses are not a staple in my wardrobe, and I always find the process nerve wracking.  For this shirtdress I tried a new method.  I am certain I didn't make this up; Sigrid has an excellent tutorial but I couldn't figure out who I heard it from.  If you have blogged this method, claim the credit!

I started by sewing the collar band to the neckline, stitching the two collar bands together up to where the collar is attached.

Stitch Collar to Outer Collar Band

Next, I stitched the completed collar (stitched, turned, and topstitched) to the outer collar band.

Pin Inner Collar Band Over Collar

The final step is the turn under the hem allowance on the inner collar band and topstitch in place.  I chose to sew the collar to the outer and topstitch the inner because the inner collar band is the one that shows in wearing, as I planned to wear the collar open.

Collar Closeup

I found this less stressful than the usual method of making the collar/collar band unit and then sewing it to the neckline.  I never get a nice looking corner where the collar band meets the placket.

This one is not perfect, but that's because sewing this fabric was like trying to sew toilet paper, and I couldn't clip or trim too closely--or seam rip and start over on non-perfect seams.  Which, in a way, was liberating.


My fabric was very narrow, so I cut the back on the fold without shaping, as drafted.  I am ok with the look of the back as the blousiness is part of the style.  I would probably add a shaped center back seam next time, though.

As you can see from the line drawing, the dress is meant to have elastic bands from the front to the back darts for fitting.  Because of the delicacy of the fabric, I decided to leave it as a semi-fitted style to reduce strain on the seams.  Based on the line drawing, I expected the dress to have more ease but it actually only has 2-3 extra inches of ease.  The elastic is more decorative than essential.


I couldn't waste the opportunity of being at such a great location!  These photos were taken in the Japanese Garden at the Hillwood Estate.  My backup photographer (when Cidell isn't available) is somewhat masterful at getting awkward photos of me like this one. However, there are more flattering shots (as well as indoor shots that show the lines/details better) in the flickr album.

After anticipating this project for so long, I was afraid it would be a let down when I finally got to it.  Actually, I am so tickled with this dress!  It's a great shirtdress variation and fairly simple to sew--it has a cut-on placket, rather than a separate one, and requires little by way of fitting.

Alas, I will be pleasantly surprised if I get 10 wears out of this dress due to the extreme fragility of the fabric.  There are already weak spots on the seams and it's just going to shred out fairly quickly, despite using French seams.  :(  However, while the dress may not be long for this world, the pattern is a keeper!  It definitely goes in the rotation.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.