so good, I made it twice

The skirt from Simplicity 2215.

simplicity2215_envelopeI originally bought it for the dress but then swiftly put myself in the Limbo of Hesitation. I didn’t feel like making a muslin and I was just stuck in a loop, fretting about the odds that the combination of the high neckline and voluminous skirt would make me the opposite of what the model in this linked photo is achieving. Because, moment of truth, I don’t strut into work with all the buttons undone, quite the opposite, so…

But that skirt.

I’m paraphrasing here, but it seems to me that I encountered this opinion in several places: “those asymmetrical pleats will change your perspective on pleats.” I wasn’t sure but I’m now totally on that bandwagon. I love them.

simplicity2215_rose+b_helmi_2
Skirt #1 with an unblogged Helmi blouse in black rayon

I had this beautiful floral fabric in my stash for a while now. The pattern’s too intense for me to dress myself in it head to toe, though I can’t get enough of those roses. I’ve used it in facings and pockets. It’s a pretty stiff (canvas?) second-hand find. And I think it was just the perfect pairing for this skirt pattern.

I had another well-loved remnant in my stash, from this dress. So I made another skirt.

simplicity2215_black+burdabookshirt2
Details:
Pattern: Simplicity 2215 view C; both skirts lengthened by 2.25″; black skirt squeezed out of a remnant due to which one pleat on the front and one pleat on the back were sacrificed but things worked out fine.
Fabrics: skirt #1 – mystery fabric (canvas?) bought second-hand; skirt #2 – remnant of the “Sprinkle” quilting cotton from Cotton and Steel
Notions: thread; skirt #1 – 7″ invisible zipper, navy single-fold bias tape for the hem, hook and bar; skirt #2 – 7″ lapped zipper, hook and bar
Seam finish, hems, etc.: skirt #1 – serged side seams, hem hand-sewn and finished with bias tape, waistband finished by hand; skirt #2 – serged side seams, double-turned handsewn invisible hem; waistband finished by hand
Fun fact: I went with one pocket in the right side-seam and am pleased; I worried it would feel asymmetrical but, no, it’s fine.

Verdict: another great simple pattern!

PS: I don’t think I can write much more about the Helmi blouse — not when I’m sewing it straight up from the pattern with only minor changes. This one was basically like the blue one construction-wise. It all started with these unusual buttons with a floral motif:

b_helmi-buttondetail

So I end with a prognosis: more Helmis to come and, possibly, more Simplicity 2215.

What patterns have you hooked?

how Burda saved my summer sewing

Annemarie (of J’Adore le Cafe Sews) nailed it in her comment on my last post: there’s nothing like an easy but nonetheless exciting pattern to get you out of a sewing slump.

For me that pattern was this blouse (#118) from the 6/2017 issue of Burda. I like the version with the peplum in theory but not sure I’m down with peplums in practice. So I “unpeplumed” it and cut it out to the length of #119.

It is the simplest thing in the world. Because this is no time for muslins, I made up a “wearable muslin” (i.e. a version that might not have worked out at all) in a black cotton gauze I bought on impulse at the beginning of summer.

(More details on the skirt from the photo on the left comming soon!)

What I learned about this fabric:

  • it’s too thin for human use
  • it stretches out from being looked at
  • it sews pretty well
  • it’s awesome to wear on a hot day.

Seriously, this fabric would make more sense doubled. But I had a yard, which didn’t give me much room for experimentation.

Details:
Pattern:  
top #118 and hem from #119, Burda 6/2017
Fabric: black cotton gauze from Joann Fabrics (about 1 yd).
Notions: thread, bias tape cut from the remainder of the fabric.
Seam and hem finish: French seams everywhere, neckline and armholes bound with boas tape, regular machine-stitched hem of about 3/4″.
Mods: none yet, just discoveries. Namely: the armhole was cut a bit too low for my liking (and the gauze stretched out); the neckline was cut a bit too snug, especially on the front. Oh, and back cut in two pieces due to fabric shortages.
Fun fact: I traced the pattern without adding seam allowances and added those when cutting out (I kept telling myself to focus the entire time).

I love this top despite minor reservations. And it immediately set those little cogs in motion, leading me to come up with this plan:

burda118_6_2017_dress-sketch

It’s not the best sketch but it conveys the idea.

Here’s the dress:

burda118_6_2017_dress1

The eagle-eyed among you will recognize this fabric. I made several garments in the navy colorway (dress, robe, tee). I like both the print and, of course, the fact that it’s rayon.

The sketch has the most important details but let me talk you through what I did in order to go from the top to a dress.

I raised the armholes a little bit on this version and I did a forward shoulder adjustment, which moved the shoulder seam to the intended position on the front bodice (it’s lower than the shoulder point).

I added the ties to cinch it in a little when I feel like it (… and hang loose when I’m melting in the summer heat).

Because the longer version of the blouse had ample ease on the hips, I simply extended the front and back pattern pieces by about 12″, then straightened and trued the side seams. You could simply extend them from the hip down to get more of a trapeze shape, but I wanted more of a shift dress silhouette.

And that’s basically it. I’m dreaming of a linen version with a self-fabric belt at the waist, but that may not be in the cards this summer.

Pattern verdict: highly recommended.

Many thanks for the comments on the last post. It was great to bond through our shared sewing dilemmas, but you have also given great tips on overcoming them!

simplify

Burda Easy blew my mind. (Images from burdastyle.de)

That’s my one sewing “resolution” for 2017. If the result is less than appealing, my excuse will be that Burda made me do it. Because the F/W 2016 issue of Burda Easy is what got the little cogs turning for me.

I noticed that I seem to operate according to an implicit rule that goes something like this: “why simplify when you can overcomplicate?” As you can guess, I never described it to myself in this way until began to realize I have a growing fabric stash and lots of remaining wardrobe gaps.

The issue is not sewing because I’ve convinced myself that I should save fabric for an appropriately ambitious project. Given the remaining gaps in my wardrobe,* it’s become clear to me that I need to balance the more ambitious plans with some simple garments that will get worn on a regular basis.

Enter Burda Easy. Doctor T has a great post about this issue if you want to know more about the designs and see more garment photos. Seeing the clothes in motion was what did it for me. Now, not all of these fit my life and style preferences: the huge vest and coat, and that oversize sweater would both make me look enormous and like I’m drowning in fabric. But a lot of them look really good.

The biggest suprise is how much I’m digging that tunic. It essentially conforms to Anna of the Paunnet blog’s definiton of Burda cutting corners design-wise: “rectangles by Burda” (see here). And yet I want to wear these rectangles. Obviously not now, not in the depths of frozen hell, but I think they will be close to dreamy when the world boils around us mid-July.

burda-simple-tunic
More rectangles for me! Photo from Burda Easy F/W 2016.

But seriously now, here’s the strategy I want to try out this year: for every ambitious project (pants! shirts!) try to add some simple clothes, especially to wear around the house. So more knit tops; ideally, some decent-looking pants to wear around the house (maybe the ones from Burda to replace the ancient worn-out pair of cords I’m reaching for all the time), more shift dresses maybe…

Which brings me to strategy #2:

re-use already fitted and adjusted patterns as much as possible. Not that I haven’t been doing this, but I’ve mostly done it out of resignation when I got fed up with trying to fit a pattern that was turning out to be clearly not suited to my body shape. Funnily enough, given all the Burda inspiration in this post, the Burda bodice is pretty far from my shape (as I discovered when making this dress), so I might hack the Colette Laurel to get something similar to this one:

120b-092016-b_large
Image source: burdastyle.com.

Another simple Burda project I have my eye on is this sweater:

106-082016-b_large
Pattern and more photos available here.

I might have some leftover knit fabric that would be great for this.

What about you? Any easy sewing plans you’re looking forward to? And how do you stand on New Year resolutions?

*Nothing helps you realize things as clearly as waking up in a harsh winter with one pair of pants remaining wearable in the weather conditions. That’s how you know you’ve been goofing up.

 

a monochromatic mini-wardrobe

A few stray rays of sunlight have broken through the cloud layer, so I bring you another post from the frozen planet Hoth. It’s snowplows and snow shovels outside. Here, inside the house, it’s been cat hair and frantic photo-taking, before the sun leaves us to more gray and darkness.

I maybe easily influenced by all this because my most recent sewing has been strictly in a black-white-gray color scheme. Winter camouflage. And, I hope, a solid core for a professional wardrobe to slowly take over for the RTW pieces that have dominated it so far.

Here’s what I made:

Burda deep pleat skirt (here’s my first attempt at this pattern), paired with my third version of the Astoria sweater from Seamwork

The deep pleat skirt with (from left) a black Plantain/Tonic tee mashup (made last winter, worn a lot), white Plantain/Tonic tee, and Astoria

The tops

In terms of the sewing process, I definitely prefer working with wovens. I can’t deny, though, that I get a lot of wear out of me-made knit tops. Overall, they fit me better and have better necklines than most of what I’d hunted down in the stores.

That said, while these two are tried-and-true patterns for me at this point, I keep refining the fit.

On the white Plantain/Tonic tee I stuck with my usual: the neckline, sleeves, and bust from Plantain blending to the more fitted shape from the Tonic tee under the bust. But I finally resolved the minor issue of wrinkles at the armhole by raising the armhole by 1 cm. I’ll keep that alteration for all my new versions.

I had already made that alteration pre-emptively to my very first Astoria (more details on my alterations to the pattern here). It was a good call and I’m definitely sticking with it if I make more. This one I also lengthened by 1.5″ so I can wear it with pants. I opted for the full-length sleeves this time, which I had to shorten by 4″ to get the desired bracelet length (more like “watch length” in my case).

Fabrics: both found at Joann — white mid-weight interlock knit (a synthetic blend) and a rather plasticky off-black mid-weight knit for the Astoria. The former is pleasantly soft on the body and breathes a bit, and I’m okay with the “rather plasticky” quality of the latter because I layer it over tops.

The Burda skirt

front and back

I really like how simple and clever this pattern is. I repeated most of my alterations from the first version, opting for a narrower waistband and not adding side pockets. I know it’s a controversial position, but I’ve discovered that I like pockets a lot but can often live without them.

Skipping the pockets allowed me to squeeze out one more skirt than planned from the 2 yards I bought of this houndstooth rayon-blend suiting (another Joann fabric, the tiniest houndstooth in their current collection).

Here it is, my bonus piece:

A-line mini based on the pencil skirt from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing

the skirt with the Thread Theory Camas blouse, which needs a post of its own

I really like the double darts in this pattern. I’ve worn my first version a lot and have been meaning to make another. I only had enough fabric for a mini, and that only provided I cut the waistband on the cross-grain, so I widened the side seams to an A-line and hemmed the skirt with Hug-Snug to preserve as much length as possible.

Both skirts are lined (with regular ol’ polyester lining fabric); the linings have been attached with my first attempt at French tacks. The seams are bound with Hug Snug. It took me a while to get there but I am now a convert to sewing zippers in before sewing the side seams. The zippers I’ve inserted by reversing the sewing order in this way have been the neatest and most stress-free for me. It’s all thanks to Sheryll and her brilliant sewing tips.

I’m saving the last piece for another time — more on the Camas blouse soon.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you about your go-to colors and patterns. Do you like to sew mix-and-match sets? How do you plan your sewing? What inspires or influences you?

Simple PJs, Or the Adventures of Dolores and Margot

I got cold, so I made pajamas. I was very cold, so I simplified the task as much as I could. I might have been tempted to make an actual set if I had enough flannel but I didn’t. So tee and pants it was.

Here’s a glimpse into the daily life of the new PJs with the sad gray morning light filtered out:

Here I am demonstrating the functionality of the front pocket (1) and my ability to slouch in these as I’m trying to take a “different” photo this time (2). Half-successful at best, but no PJs were harmed during the photo shoot. 

I went for two patterns that I already had: the Margot pajama bottoms from Love at First Stitch and the So Zo Dolores Batwing that I won in Zoe’s MeMadeMay giveaway.

Sewing up the bottoms this time, I completely skipped the drawstring (it came up short on my first try at the pattern, by the way) and inserted wide elastic instead. I added two patch pockets cut on the cross-grain — one on the front and one on the back — for visual interest.

I also changed up the order of construction a bit. The pattern tells you to sew up the crotch seam last (and gives a solid tip how to do it, so no problem there), but I decided to sew it before sewing the outer leg seams this time.

Overall, I’d repeat my previous review: it’s a great easy pattern. I really like the book, too. I think it’s a fantastic book for new sewists and I’m definitely going to try more patterns from it. I have my eye on the Megan dress.

The Dolores Batwing was a slightly unexpected choice for me. I’m not usually a fan of the batwing sleeve. But I kept seeing really great versions of this pattern online and ended up creating a (modest) Pinterest board for the pattern (here’s a far better one, compliled by Zoe herself). The next step was sewing it up myself.

This is a really wonderful pattern for new sewists. The pattern pieces are simple, the PDF is laid out in a very clever and economical way, but I’d say it’s the instructions that are the most valuable part of the package.

I’ve seen the suggestion crop up a lot recently that beginning sewists are better served by the Big Four patterns marked “very easy” than by indie patterns, and I can’t agree with that. For one, most of the Big Four sewing instructions for knits that I’ve read sound like instructions written for woven fabrics, just prefaced with the advice that you stretch the fabric as you sew. I’m not even sure they recommend using ballpoint and stretch needles. Then there is the great mystery that is the sizing… I’m not saying it’s not doable, but I think that if you’re an adult woman who hasn’t been taught to sew by her mother, has limited time, and would prefer to minimize the fabric waste, you’re highly likely to get discouraged.

The hand holding that many indie patterns provide can go a long way toward not just keeping up your motivation but getting a wearable garment at the end. If you haven’t sewn knits before, this pattern would be a good teacher. The instructions are very detailed, and they’re illustrated with photographs. They lay out the easiest way to get the desired result. And for that reason I chose to deviate from some of them. A lot of sewists prefer to sew as much of a knit pattern flat as possible. I follow that advice when it comes to setting in sleeves in knits, but I don’t like sewing collar and cuff bands that way, and that’s where I went off the map with this pattern. I think Zoe’s approach is fine, just not my preferred choice.

Verdict: I like this stripe overload.

Question for you: Do you have a favorite sleepwear/loungewear pattern?