the dress of summer 2018

That’s bold, isn’t it? Here’s the dress:

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It is, believe it or not, the Donna dress from the Burda Vintage ’70s special issue. Yes, this one: the dress I planned to sew for “Sewing the Seventies” but it was not to be.

So without making it up as drafted, I played with the pattern to turn it into a bit of a Tessuti Lois dress lookalike*… I added kimono sleeves with cuffs, added a bit to the sides to give it pull-on capabilities, and added some waist ties.

 

Oh, and I added a facing because I didn’t want to line it.

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The fabric is a linen woven out of blue and black threads (anyone know the name of that kind of weave?).

I’ve really loved wearing this dress. Its one shortcoming is lack of pockets, but I don’t really see a good way to add them to this design. And it’s helped me keep my feelings about this year’s weight gain in check. It’s a comfort dress.

What’s your favorite garment this summer or winter?

*Yeah, I didn’t feel like messing with turning those gathers into a dart.

PS: This was also my Burda Challenge item for July, and the only thing I made in July, at the same time.

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Blouse 115 from Burda 3/2018

Forgive the unimaginative title of this post. It’s hot and I’m finding myself creatively challenged. I have a few projects planned but am stalling on them: reluctant to fit, and baste, and sweat in the easily overheating room where my sewing machine is.

So this post comes to you thanks to Emma of the blog Emma’s Atelier. Emma asked me if I had more photos of the blouse on and I realized I’d been really sitting on this one too long… Thanks, Emma. I needed a push!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the pattern caught my eye immediately. It’s a petite pattern, which I did notice immediately. I did toy with the idea of making a muslin but reluctance prevailed — in no small part thanks to a fabric remnant I was willing to take a chance on.

Here are the two magazine versions from the Burda site: version A and version B (it was B that made me want to give it a try).

So this is blouse no. 1 in said remnant, of which I only know that it’s a cotton fabric in an easily fraying weave of black and white. I picked it up at B&J Fabrics in NYC when I was there in March.

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I did make some changes to the design. The only true fit adjustment I made was a forward shoulder adjustment (my usual in Burda patterns). Apart from that, other changes were to simplify the design and reduce fabric volume.

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I removed the box pleats from the sleeves and the back. Then I combined the back and back yoke pattern pieces. And that was it.

I’m fairly short-waisted, I’ve discovered, so I wasn’t too concerned about the pattern being petite. But if you know you don’t want the waist seam hitting you too high, muslin first (or risk lengthening the pattern pieces somewhat cavalierly — honestly, I think there will be more of that kind of experimentation in my sewing future).

My second version is in a lightweight cotton print (voile?) I got from Mood Fabrics.

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You can see on both, that the peplum isn’t very voluminous. The gathering on the frontand back pieces contrasts with the relatively straight peplum.

I really like this pattern — and it was a bit of a risk. I didn’t know how to think of it stylewise, and it made me realize I desperately need to get some jeans in my wardrobe. I think that’s the perfect bottom piece to go with it.

I am planning a third one, though not for me, for a friend who will be a mom soon. The sew-on snap closures might make this a pretty good nursing top, I think.

This is my Burda Challenge pattern for both May and June, though I do have one unblogged Burda garment waiting in the wings…

Thumbs up for the pattern, and thumbs up for taking sewing risks (especially at times when it’s difficult to get up the energy and curiosity to sew).

 

must.sew.shirts., or, how the #burdachallenge continues

April was a month of sewing doubts, of a creativity slump, of body image issues, you name it. And yet somehow I managed to sew two shirts.

It was less epic than it may sound. I used the same pattern for both shirts and the fitting was pretty minimal because I relied on my previous experiences with Burda to figure out what I needed to tweak. And that might well be the reason why Burda and I might have a pretty lasting and almost exclusive relationship.

I continue to be pretty burned out when it comes to muslining and fitting new patterns. I’m also noticing more and more the need for fairly simple go-to pieces. In terms of what I like to wear to work, I think I’m pretty set on my reliable uniform being pants + buttoned blouse/shirt + cardigan or blazer.

Without further ado, here are the shirts.

Pattern: Shirt #103 from Burda 6/2017

Version #1: in scissor-patterned lightweight poly crepe that really needed to finally get out of the stash.

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Vesna’s version got me off the fence about the pattern, though she does detail doubts I can relate to in her post (read it and admire the shirt here).

While I can appreciate the use of piping in the pattern photos, I really wasn’t into the idea of trying that out myself. Definitely not in a lightweight fabric…

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I “drafted” my own pockets, fretted over the pattern placement, and managed to mess it up in an inconsipucous way, so all turned out well.

After wearing the penguin shirt a few times, I decided the sleeve length could use shortening, so I took out 2 cm from this pattern and it’s pretty spot on this way.

Version #2: the return of Cotton and Steel rayon.

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Some changes from the previous version, not all voluntary.

I messed up pattern matching across the front in that — in pattern-matching fervor — I cut out two right fronts. Incredibly dumb mistake…

I could only cut another front piece if I shortened the sleeves, hence the 3/4 sleeves. Frankly, I do love the impressive look of “proper” full length sleeves with plackets, cuffs, etc., but my love of effortless watch and bracelet wearing, and doing things with my hands freely, overall, might outweigh it.

Voluntary change: I wanted a bigger collar. So I embiggened it slightly, a la Henna’s tutorial but not as bold.

I also did add piping to the shoulder seams on this one. It’s almost invisible in this crazy print.

In the photo of the back you might notice a hint of back darts. I stole these from another Burda pattern (Burda 7136).

Buttons from the stash of lucky thrift shopping finds, picked out after a day of vacillating on Instagram.

I like Vesna’s curved hem alteration, but I kept the straight hem from the pattern because I tend to wear these tucked in anyway. But here they are, untucked:

Would I sew this pattern again? Absolutely. But perhaps not soon because the automatic buttonhole feature on my Brother machine seems to be on its last legs. The final two buttonholes on the second shirt were faked by a combination of outlining with straight stitch and dense zigzag on top. Pretty tedious.

It might be a signal to move on to sewing other things (or getting the other machine serviced, finally!).

Do you have a go-to shirt pattern? (I should probably add, and is it the Archer from Grainline Studio?) Tell me your shirt-making secrets and complaints. I’m all ears.

Penguins Forever

#burdachallenge2018 catch-up! These penguins are coming to you from early March.

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The fabric is a polyester (alas, but what can you do) crepe (yay) from Fabric.com. There’s also a gray version of this print available, but the blue makes the majestic penguins more visible. All in all, the fabric was pretty easy to work with and is on the nicer end of polyesters, so there’s that. 6840

The pattern is Burda (runs to get the envelope) 6840. I have complicated feelings about it. I both love the pleats at the front yoke and worry that they’ve time-traveled from the 1980s straight into my wardrobe. And I’m too old to wear this ironically: I remember the 1980s!…

Not much to say about the construction other than that I reversed the pleat (is the one I did the inverted pleat or the one the pattern calls for???) and simplified the button band — I didn’t want a hidden one, so I simplified it. I think the covered buttons look better than a seemingly buttonless band would.

Is it just me or do Burda shirts seem incredibly long in the body? I’m not really petite, just definitely not tall, and I always end up shortening the hem from the suggested length by at least an inch.

Do I recommend the pattern? Oh yes: easy to fit, pretty fun to sew (if you’re not leaning on the instructions too hard because, you know, it’s still Burda even if it comes in an envelope).

Do I have lingering worries about the ’80s vibes? Oh yeah.

Till next time.

February Burda Challenge: Wardrobe Essential Hopefuls

Starting off telegraphically today:

Managed to make (and wear!) my planned Burda project.

Pictures didn’t come out great (color me surprised). But here goes.

IMG_20180126_145712The pattern comes from the Burda Style: Wardrobe Essentials book — a gift that keeps on giving.  All the patterns in the book have been also published in the Burda magazine. This one is from 2013 (I think). One drawback of the book is that it doesn’t tell you that, so it takes some investigating on the Burda Style website among patterns from 2010-2013 to match them to specific issues (and find more photos).

What did I do?

Lots of things. Mostly basting and fitting, and ripping, and basting again, and fitting. Then looking up alterations from Pants for Real People and making them, and then narrowing the legs some more…

Quite a lot of the fitting, to be honest, was more experiential and experimental than methodical. While the book was pretty indispensable for fitting my flat derriere, the side seam alterations to fit my particular hip and leg shape were mostly about trying it out.

Scary. Sometimes slightly disheartening. But I wanted to wear these, so I decided to trust the process and get to the finish line.

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I wanted to get a decent shot of the back but failed. I complain about my photography skills (and opportunities) far too much here. And these photos were rushed, in bad lighting.

I think the pants look better in real life, but I’ll be the first one to admit they’re not perfect. Next alteration to be added to the menu is the poetically dubbed “low-butt adjustment.”

We’ll see how it goes from there…

I made some additional changes to the pattern, too:

I wasn’t on board with the front-fly construction (two parts! seam allowances to be added in some places but not everywhere! what?!), so I drafted in what I think of a regular fly, extending its “flaps” beyond the line of the also poetically dubbed crotch seam.

Regrets?

I wish I had stabilized the pocket openings because the main fabric is pretty stretchy.

Speaking of fabric: you can find some good stuff in the “Suitings” section at Joann Fabrics. I like this one, even if I can’t remember the fiber composition for the life of me.

…And I squeezed in an extra garment this month, also from Burda. This top did not initially catch my eye. Because of the sleeves. I’m really not a fan of “the year of the sleeve” or what seems to be “two years of the sleeve and counting.” Crazy sleeves are at odds with my everyday life, so we’re not going there.

As you can guess, I simplified it. I find it really hard to find fabrics that hit the sweet spot of having both decent drape and some body. And not being transparent…

The crinkle rayon crepe I used here definitely wasn’t it. So I lined it with another rayon fabric from my stash that was too thin and filmy for my liking.

Oh, the joys of photographing black: on the left is the blouse as it is worn, with the crinkle crepe on the outside, and on the right you get a view of the inside.

The lining is attached at the neckline (which I first stabilized the hell out of with lightweight knit interfacing) and finally incorporated into the French seams at the armholes. It’s hemmed a little shorter than the shell. If I were to make it again, I wouldn’t go with a narrow hem because it’s pretty stiff. Not constricting, really, but it feels too different from the other hem.

I didn’t French seam the sleeves. I overlocked them on my sewing machine with a narrow overlocking stitch. I tried to be slow and accurate, so as not to destroy or distort the very fragile fabric. I left a slit at the bottom of the sleeves — I guess that’s my take on the “year of the sleeve.”

And that’s how I challenged myself in February with Burda. I’m left with the lingering sense that the clothes look better than in these photos but maybe the gray days of winter have me fooled?

What have you been sewing?

 

Burda 7198 for the January #burdachallenge2018

I don’t usually participate in challenges. No fear of missing out can overcome my desire to be free to sew whatever I want whenever I want. Here, the stars have aligned: I know I’m in good company and I mostly want to sew Burda patterns anyway these days.

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I had my eye on several patterns from this and last year’s January Burda magazine. I noticed that in past years, the challenge participants would aim to sew something from the current issue and, if they didn’t particularly like anything from that issue, went for past years’ issues from the same month. A neat way to keep things challenging but fun.

However, my Burda magazine collection isn’t that expansive, so I’d have just two issues to choose between, and then the patterns I liked from both were on the more involved side… complications from the get-go.

So I decided to sew a stand-alone pattern from Burda that would allow me to refashion an unworn dress into something I’d actually wear. You can’t get stars to align even more without causing a cosmic disaster.

The pattern is Burda 7198 and the fabric was harvested from this dress (a Burda pattern, by the way, and a poor pairing of pattern and fabric on my part).

Refashioning felt really good. I don’t know about you, but it really bugs me to see unworn clothes staring at me when I look into my closet. That dress looked much better in photos (blurry though they were) than in real life. And I only wore it for those photos.

I ripped into the seams cautiously, to minimize the damage to the fabric. Still, the fabric frayed with a vengeance. Luckily, I was able to rescue the zipper and hook-and-eye, and  undo the hand-sewn hem without problems. The skirt became the front and back of the blouse, and sleeves I re-used without any changes. The benefits of a consistent drafting block: they went in beautifully, with minimal easing.

Since the sleeves had the navy detail — and cutting into the bodice of the dress would have only yielded minimal amounts of usable fabric — I reached for leftover fabric from these two projects for the yoke and neckline binding.

My thoughts about this pattern… a mix of good and, hm, less good ideas.

I really didn’t like the suggestion to leave the bias binding just sticking out with a raw edge on the neckline. I don’t think that’s a good look. I wish I had cut the binding strip a bit wider, but I did manage to coax into compliance with an iron and patience. I applied it in a similar way I did the contrast cuffs on the sleeves: like a facing that has a folded edge and goes on the outside.

I also didn’t like the godets and left them out because the back and front pieces come together nicely, and with enough room on the hips. The triangle shape you can see in my last photo isn’t a godet — I had to piece the fabric on the back pattern pieces.

Any problems I had while sewing came up due to the poor quality of the black fabric. It’s a pretty fragile and thin poly crepe. Making up the button placket in it was flimsy and annoying. You may be able to notice that the bottom of the placket has something that looks like a tiny pleat. It’s not really a pleat, but I could neither snip into the corner far enough nor press out the placket aggressively enough to eliminate it without risking damage to the fabric.

I guess I’ll have to see how long this top lasts. Unlike the dress, it’s getting some wear already, luckily.

Verdict: Pretty good pattern, especially if you’re willing to tweak its less convincing details.

On to the next month.