Saturday, October 3, 2015

Vogue 1448, a dress and some doubts

Hmm.....I have doubts. On this one. Which is so unusual for me. Maybe its the fact that I sewed up this dress just as autumn is tiptoeing into the area - although today it was around 88˚F, a shorts and t-shirt kind of day so what am I talking about?
For some reason when this pattern was released I was instantly drawn to it and just had to sew it up this summer. Vogue 1448, a DKNY design. So I did, and now I have doubts. Which is a rare thing for me. Usually I know exactly what I am making and either like, really really like or absolutely love. I wonder what it is about this dress? Another thought, typically when I sew a new pattern I can visualize where I would wear it. Casual clothes - no brainer. A more formal dress - ready for a party invite. Classic blazer - wear all winter long. But while I sewed this one I just couldn't picture where I would wear it.
and a little caveat - I took these photos in my sewing room with the camera timer late one afternoon in a fit of uncertainty. So maybe just a little awkward? Also I lightened them up a bit because of the afternoon shadows and now my skin looks weird.

V1448 dress on me3

One reason is fabric choice. And I'm not sure if it's the fabric in general, or the choice of this fabric with this dress. Looking at the fabric I do like it, but it's a bit muted for me. In a top to wear with jeans or something it would have been good. This dress is a fabric hog, it takes 3.5 yards of 60" for size 12. That is a lot for a dress for me - I can usually get a sleeveless dress for my not tall frame onto one yard or so. Consequently I ordered some fabric from Girl Charlee to use. Total fabric investment about $ 18 so I can't complain there. But that should have been a hint - that I was willing to sew it up - mostly for the fun of seeing how it all went together - but not willing to splash out on a $10 - $20 yard fabric.

How about some details? Here is the dress on the form. I had to do some adjustments to get a fit on the bodice and am quite happy with those adjustments. But this is one of those dresses where I think a lot of people might be unhappy with the final fit if no adjustments had been done. Details below.

V1448 knit dress on form front

and back view. With the self-fabric belt tied a bit snug on the dress form so you can see that it is supposed to blouse above the back waist. There is actually elastic just at the center back waist to pull it into the body.

V1448 dress on form back

Ok let's get down to the fitting details.

Pattern alterations Vogue 1448

I did make a muslin of these two pieces - that's all I needed. That skirt would fit in any case so I just used some white knit fabric I found at a garage sale for the bodice parts.
Firstly, I used a size 12 and tapered to a size 14 at the waist, which was unnecessary. Since it is gathered at the waist I ended up removing that at the waist.

  1. Reduced the center back by about 1 inch at neckline tapering to about 3/8 inch at waist. When I cut it out I added back a tiny bit at the top so more like 3/4 inch.
  2. Shortened the back waist length by 1/2 inch. Usually I take away more here but I didn't want to eliminate the blousing at the back waist.
  3. Lengthened the front bodice by 1 inch so the waist wouldn't ride up towards the bust. I used my gather the front into the back as if it were a hidden dart technique used also here (and explained)
  4. Adjusted the wrap portion at the center front, changing the straight line to a curved one which adds a bit a the center overlap, I like the front to have a bit of a curve this way and find it makes any wrap much easier to wear. Had I not done this it would have been very low. As a lot of these Vogue designer patterns are. Maybe if you are a 6 foot tall glamazon it works but not on short me.
  5. Raised underarm by about 3/4 inch. Maybe I have short arm depth? Is that a thing? or is it the armholes on these patterns? probably a combo but I find on a lot of the Vogue patterns if I raise the armhole it is much better, and if too high it is easy to take away. 

Here is the pattern envelope photo and technical drawing. Now looking at it again perhaps it is veering close to a ruffle. I am not super into ruffles. Although a nice flounce - that I do like, as evidenced by this Pauline Alice pattern sewn earlier this summer. But a ruffle skirt just seems a bit prairie girl dress. On the envelope it looks better. I think the example is a chiffon or very lightweight fabric. Although the skirt is not lined - so the double layer of the fabric has to do some work to make it, shall we say, ladylike?

V1448 pattern envelope and drawing
I have no complaints about these clever pockets, though. They are hidden in the ruffles and droop a bit on the dress form but as worn are smooth and don't stick out. Oh, another thing - this dress is not hemmed and I think on anyone taller it would be quite short (another typical Vogue designer thing). I figured the flounces didn't need hemming either, as this is a jersey knit and they are round so all bias edges but actually kind of disappeared on the skirt without any hem. The small stitched hem was enough to make them show up so that is something to keep in mind.

V1448 skirt close up

and a look at the bodice. Featuring my blue leather belt which lives in the sewing room. Kind of amazing how many of my creations that it matches, which might say something about my restricted color palette. Or that blue goes with anything :) This fabric is a navy blue background with little pink, grey and magenta abstract spots. The bodice is lined with knit fabric. There is info on knit linings in my recent post.

V1448 bodice close up

V1448 dress on form side

See, kind of odd from the side. Also I thought it was a bit strange that the ruffle things didn't match at the side seams. And I know I didn't sew it wrong so that was the design.

Here's one with the belt instead of the self-fabric tie. I actually like the belt, maybe it makes it a bit less girly? which is not the intent. Ack - I dunno.  Anyway this is going into the closet with the other summer stuff and we will give it a try next spring.

Vogue 1448 jersey dress worn with belt

This is my favorite picture of the day. I rolled my sewing worktable across the room so I could stand against the blank wall and take a mirror shot. Forgetting that everything behind the mirror is also in the camera's view. So real life sewing room, or portion thereof. including my Singer Rocketeer which everyone seems to notice in pictures. iPad on the table because who can sew without constantly checking up on the sewing blogosphere. Sneakers discarded, a muslin of Sewaholic Alma blouse hanging on the door which I am sewing for someone else. My very ugly floor lamp which I usually hide if anyone comes over but it takes a 3-way bulb so nice and bright. TV remotes on the desk because if not listening to podcasts then catching up on TV. The teal blue trays on the desk which are super handy for keeping all my tools in and then I can move them around the room. And most importantly my glasses because you know, sewing.

Vogue candid view sewing room

So that's the latest. I think I had better make a hard right turn into Fall Sewing. One of these days around here it will be frosty in the morning and thus turtleneck + boots weather. Not that I want it. Just tolerate. However if we have a nice rainy winter I will be thrilled.

Happy weekend sewing - and be careful as there are a lot of desperate folks (read non-sewers) on the hunt for Halloween costume fabrics this month.


For my garden photo today - speaking of desperate - it is so dry, even the trees are starting to look a bit exhausted. I am worried about the lemons and hope we get a good drenching soon.
So how about a succulent - although I'm not exactly sure what this is. The plant in the background is definitely a succulent though.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Follow up: Frixon pens drawing result and some more Random thoughts

Who knew? Some of you really like my Random Threads posts. Thank you for letting me know that you don't mind periodically reading my sewing streams of consciousness :) And I realize they are a good spot to answer questions that come up in the comments for my regular sewing posts.

Speaking of my random thoughts - Thank you, Vogue patterns, from my wallet! (*) So yesterday I saw the new Winter/Holiday 2015 pattern release from Vogue and not one thing caught my eye. Nothing much that I would call original, some seriously droopy stuff (you know I like crisp and tailored so loose/oversize/droopy not my thing). Like this one, is that not a sparkly poncho? and this outfit is hideous although I will bet a big box of bobbins that someone will sew it up and make it look great.

(*) "Wallet"  - I thought about writing "pocketbook."  Is pocketbook another of those words like "frock" that have a specific geographic home range? or just an old-fashioned word that nobody uses anymore? But you see/hear it a lot in news stories.  Maybe it has become one of those storytelling words that only journalists use, evocative in that situation but not used in actual conversation. I digress...

Fortunately (or not - depending on my mood for the day) I have plenty of patterns in the stash so not planning to buy any this month. I did get this blazer pattern a while ago, and it is quite similar to one I made ages ago but some slight differences. Might be worth trying out.

Frixon Pens:  Here are the two names I have drawn for the marking pens. Please email me your shipping address.  My email:    sunnygalstudio (at) gmail (dot) com

Jen L   in New York
Marisa Rodriguez    in Spain

As I mentioned in my last post - I still have a few summer items unblogged so despite the unseasonality in our northern hemisphere I will post those soon. Although still in the 90's here so summer forever. Plus my last dress of summer which I have mixed feelings about. But ONWARD to fall. The other day I had a genius idea for a pattern mashup - using 2 Pauline Alice patterns. (OK genius only to me I am sure, ha ha). Anyway - that's all I will say for now but if it works out it will be so nice. 

Wow, there is a lot of food and cats/dogs on Instagram. I just posted a coat from a few years ago - stands the test of time and I still recommend the pattern. My daily favorite in my Instagram feed is this one:          So clever and entertaining.

Happy sewing, Beth

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Random Threads # 15 and a giveaway drawing

Thoughts! I have so many sewing related thoughts lately - really they are opinions. Perhaps it is the change of season which brings out new patterns, wardrobe discussions and planning, thus giving me lots to read, look at and discuss in my internal dialog. So time to let some of this out. Plus a drawing for a small but useful item to add to your sewing toolbox.

Let's start with some planning. I am starting to think it's time to do a purge - as you can imagine - I have a lot of clothes. Mostly sewn by me and I don't like to part with them. Thus I rarely think I need anything. But since sewing is my favorite pastime more things will be sewn and needing a space in the closet. In fall my mind turns to jackets (although it is supposed to be 100˚F here on Sunday so there is no rush :) This Burda jacket caught my eye, it is just different enough from anything I have to make it interesting to sew. Of course their example is shown in a shade I hate with a fiery passion. Hmmm fiery... how about a warm red color?  That might be nice for winter. The rounded shoulder shape is interesting (code word for possibly weird).  I might keep looking.

Burda Jacket Idea
Next topic: fabric or pattern, which causes the problem?  Ever sewn something that you knew just didn't work, but you couldn't figure out which was causing the issue. Was it the fabric or the pattern? Sometimes the pattern is just not right for you - and I will say that this is a case of learning about patterns and shapes on your body  As for creating a happy marriage of pattern and fabric:
  1. some people just have a knack for pairing up pattern+fabric (let's all agree we sorta hate them)
  2. trial and error, some expensive mistakes along the way = lessons learned and skill developed
  3. stubbornly choosing a fabric and sew it up with the pattern wanted at that minute whether it is right or not
If I could give some advice based on being a living embodiment of all the above points ( learning, luck, mistakes) that advice would be use your sense memory and squeeze the fabric. What? Ok, here goes. Sense memory - when you see a pattern you want to make, use your memory bank - review that type of garment and shape - think about nice version of the silhouette or garment you have seen previously and really concentrate on the good ones - then think about what fabric was used. Use your experience to think about why it was that a certain fabric gave you fits on a certain feature - it could be the bindings were impossible to make, or it didn't gather properly, the clipped corners raveled to bits, the pleats never pressed. Whatever it was you learned something from the experience and use that to choose the next combo of fabric and pattern. 
My second piece of advice was to squeeze the fabric. Yes I squeeze - scrunch - rumple - and otherwise always treat the fabric as the human body does once you wear it. Granted, I am not fond of wrinkles  - rarely sew with linen or something like that - but who wants to make a lovely wool coat or a well fitted dress and then dislike the rumpled result? Especially with wool - if you are going to make a coat or jacket, then you want it to look great for a long time. Some fabrics, and this is totally unrelated to price, just have less body, perhaps it is the fiber, or the weave, but if I don't like what I see on the scrunch test I won't buy it. If it bounces back, seems to have good recovery and yet have a good natural fiber feel, then I buy it. Same goes for silk, cotton, etc. I fold it up and see how I like the feel of several layers together. Something that looks good on the bolt can suddenly be very thick and stiff when folded back on itself, and you figure that a garment is made up of a lot of junctions that are 2, 3 or even 4 layers of fabric together. So scrunch away! I wonder if they think I'm a little nuts at Britex, I walk through the store and anything that catches my eye, I grab a fistful and scrunch. Even if it is $400/yard. Actually I bet plenty of people do it. Do you scrunch?

Most frequent recent question:  what is the fabric I use for knit linings? Every time I show a knit dress with a lining I am asked this question so today I took a pic of the bolt end. It is nothing magical, just a 100% polyester knit fabric that they have at Joann's. Which I never purchase without a 50% off coupon. Today's coupon was 60%! Score!  Anyway - it is shelved with the solid color knits or with the dance wear fabrics. It has a good drapey quality, doesn't stick to jersey or other knits, comes in all the basic colors. I use this color a lot, also black, white and I think they have navy blue. A knit dress with a full skirt or some of the complicated Vogue patterns with the twisty skirts get quite heavy and pull down the bodice so by using a lining it supports the skirt. Or often the knit fashion fabric is too sheer, as in this dress. Also the swimsuit lining can work, that is nylon/lycra so you can use that in a more body-con style and get a bit of a Spanx effect which can be helpful :)  example here.

Knit lining label

Next topic: It's a mystery to me. Some patterns. Like this one. Ok, not my taste.  And so many tee shirt patterns. Wow, there are a lot of knit shirt patterns. Do people try them all? That seems like an expensive way to get a tee shirt. I have a few favorites which are Jalie 2804 and 2005 (I still think the Jalie is the best value as you get the range of size from little girls through women's size in one pattern and 3 necklines). Burda 6990 envelope pattern sewn here. this one also has multiple neckline variations. And this year I made McCalls 7046, a dress and top which has a ruching on the sides but the neckline, shoulders and sleeves fit like a dream so I am thinking of using it as a plain t-shirt base.

Time for a giveaway: 
I am finding these Frixon pens invaluable - I love my Chalkoner markers and I use a regular lead pencil on a lot of things, but these Frixon pens are magic! They are erasable on paper, and on fabric they disappear with heat. So a quick press with the iron and they are gone. Perfect for marking tricky stitching lines, pattern markings etc. Although their benefit is also their downfall - as they disappear, poof! with the touch of the iron so you have to remember to stitch first and press second.

Pen markings using Frixon pen
anyway  - there is this crazy old-fashioned office supply store in Honolulu. The type of store that is long gone from most places. Although this is a giant warehouse. They sell individual pens. Like ANY pen you can think of. One at a time! and every type of notebook, school supply, post it, notepad, paper supply, ink, art stuff, office furniture, mechanical pencil, binder, clip, tape and on and on. Are you a sucker for office supplies? Are you alway seeking the perfect pen? I hate it when you want to buy pens and you have to buy a whole pack or a multi-color pack and it includes stupid colors you will never use, ok I am ranting but the wall of pens at Fisher is a dream. Plus you can try them. I think this store is like the "land that time forgot" because if you wander down the aisles you will see things that were probably discontinued 20 years ago, but they still have them on the shelf. Like those books where the receptionist used to write the messages, and it had a carbon copy, and perforations  to tear out the little notes? Stuff like that. I guess you want to know the name, it is Fisher Hawaii Office Product Warehouse, link here. In kind of a warehouse district, and no air conditioning. Like I said - time has forgotten this spot. It's like the anti-Staples.  Kind of like how Stone Mountain fabrics in Berkeley is the anti-Joann's. Ok more rambling.  On with the giveaway.

Let me know in the comments if you would like to be in the drawing for a set of these Frixon pens.
They are pink, blue and purple so good for various color fabrics. I will choose one name to ship to a US address and one to an international address so be sure and tell me what State or Country you are in. How about until next Wednesday Sept. 23? I will post next week Thurs. or Friday with the names so check back then and you can contact me with your address.

Pen giveaway

Last topic: Plumeria or frangipani?  that was a fun discussion in the comments recently when I showed this flowering tree. In Hawaii they are always called plumeria and often used in leis or worn in the hair. (I bet that happens everywhere they grow, so pretty and the fragrance is heavenly). So frangipani - I have heard that word but didn't know what it was. I think most of the world actually uses frangipani, and a quick look at Wikipedia shows that the plant is Genus: Plumeria. But the nicest thing I learned from that Wikipedia page is that in Persian the name is Yas or Yasmin and the Hawaiian name is Melia, those are both such pretty names for girls and now when I hear them I will think of the lovely flower.

Pink plumeria

So that was quite a random assortment in this Random Threads post, no?  In case you are wondering why I go to office supply stores on my vacation, my sister used to live in Honolulu for 10 years so she was the one that found that store. And appreciates a good pen selection, as one does. So for fun if any of our family is over there and in the neighborhood we stop in.

Up next, a few more things I sewed over the summer and then onward to autumn. Sigh. And a Vogue pattern I just sewed which seemed like a terrible mistake at 10pm but appeared far better in the light of day. That is a topic for a future random threads post - nighttime sewing nightmares.

I hope all your sewing is daytime dreamy!  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Rainbow stripe knit dress: Lekala pattern and Girl Charlee fabric

Hello there. Or should I say Aloha? Another summer knit that made it into my suitcase for vacation.

Lekala stripe on me front

And a rainy overcast day which is not good for a beach day but works out for taking some photos. Speaking of the weather - this has been the hottest temps I have ever experienced in Hawaii. Global warming is real, people!

At least that's what the newscasters are talking about here. Wow, it was hot and no trade winds which is out of the ordinary. Plus 3 hurricanes passing by the islands with plenty of moisture and humidity. Coming from drought stricken California it was such a change. And everything is so green. I have forgotten what that looks like! Plenty of hurricane warnings but fortunately nice weather most days so all was good. And evening thunderstorms with lots of lightening. Dramatic. Lightening storms are actually quite rare in my home state so a bit exciting for us although not notable for many of you.

Back to sewing - I posted a sneak peak of this dress on Instagram during the #sewphotohop for Day 3: Colorful and a few people loved the fabric, even knowing that it was from Girl Charlee. (You all know your fabrics!).

As for the pattern, it is a Lekala pattern #4271. With a few adjustments  - of course. I was looking at my fabric and decided I wanted an easy pull over the head dress with a racerback. And didn't have any pattern in my file that matched that description. So instant download to the rescue. Using my measurements I ordered from Lekala and the fit was quite good. I really didn't make any changes at all. What I think works out really well with the Lekala and Bootstrap patterns is that you do give your height, so the proportions tend to be nearer to what I want. For example, the darts were in the right place, and the waist was also. Typically since I am shorter than the standard fit I have to adjust things in the vertical dimension but didn't here. Also that was good since I was working with a stripe and I didn't want to mess up the pattern matching.

Lekala 4271 tech drawing

Dress on form. In retrospect I wish I had changed the angle of the strap portion, it is just a bit too much like a tank top in the front, and I would have preferred a more cut in shoulder look. But oh well, not a big deal.

Lekala front stripe on form

Lekala back on form

Another change you can see in the back view on the technical drawing is that the center back portion between the shoulder blades was very narrow, to my eye a bit out of proportion so I did widen it quite a bit, maybe 1 inch on either side of the center? I just drew it with a pencil until I liked the shape and then folded the pattern piece to mirror on the other side.
This fabric is quite thin - way too thin for dress so I decided to line it with another light weight solid knit.
So I cut out the lining first, and marked the waist casing there. By using a lining I could create the casing for the elastic between the outer and inner layers which makes a nice finish. For some reason sewing a casing is one of those sewing tasks that I really dislike so I often try to figure out ways to make casings in another way.

lekala stripe cutting layout

You can see all my tailors tacks for the casing on the lining pieces. Then I put the lining pieces on the fabric and that way could match my stripes perfectly. A late night smart idea - instead of my usual late night stupid mistakes. Don't you always make sewing mistakes at night? I frequently have a spidey sense of "I should stop now" and more often than not if I don't - the big mistake happens. I should have a big loud buzzer that says "Step away from the scissors" when I have been sewing at night for more than a few hours. Hmm, invention idea there.

Onward - inside shot. Everyone always comments that they like to see insides of garments. I'm planning to discuss that next time I do a Random Threads post. Hint - not that important. at least to me.

Anyway - see the darts in the lining. The pattern has darts and I sewed them in the stripe fabric, they were fine but they just made the stripes do something really weird across the bust. Hated them.

Lekala inside view

So I took them out. And used my technique of gathering that section where the dart would have been. On my size pattern the difference between front and back is about 1.25 inches - so that is quite an easy amount to gather and ease onto the back. The stripes here make it more noticeable but since I don't walk around with my arms held over my head it is perfectly acceptable :)  And then the stripes match from the middle of that seam the rest of the way down.

Lekala side on form

Back view on me. Whew horizontal stripes across my backside. Not sure it is the best look but oh well I love the rainbow stripes (for wearing in the land of rainbows - so many in Hawaii, lots of double ones as well.)  I am quite obsesses with this blouson style lately, kind of a change of silhouette for me. I always feel like I need to try different shapes but rarely do. Contemplating something with a drop waist. We shall see......

Lekala stripe back view on me

The only other thing to mention on this dress is related to the thin fabric issue. I got it all turned and under stitched to create a crisp neckline and then saw that dominant purple stripe showing up there in the seam allowance. Not really able to trim it as I cleverly (ha ha ironic use of clever) ironed some stitch witchery in there so that the lining would stay nice and flat before I topstitched. So it is sealed in there. Probably a case of being too picky for a silly beachy little knit dress but there you go. I notice stuff. However I do love the colors.

Lekala neckline closeup

And now a combination Garden photo and dress photo. West coasters - feast your eyes on all that green.

Lekala stripe dress under plumeria tree

Happy sewing. Even though I am home I have one or two more vacation items to show and then I have to think about fall sewing. Wait, do I have to?  Our climate is such that we jump straight into our relatively mild winter. And I don't even want to think about sewing with wool yet. It's supposed to be 104˚C here at my house tomorrow. Whew!

Happy sewing, Beth

Plumerias from that tree next to me.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Butterick 5455 for this year's Birthday Dress

That last post was slightly serious - even though I am very happy with that blue dress - so it's time to switch gears and indulge in something frivolous, a completely unnecessary floral frock. Say that 5 times fast.  I like that word frock, it seems to be used mostly by Australians as far as I can tell. Do you say that in the UK?  Here is the US we only have the word "dress" for this garment. Maybe frock will catch on. It sounds quaint to me, like something from a movie set in the 20's or 30's. Although Frocktails - that is something I can get behind. Perhaps I should organize for the bay area. Anyone interested?

But this post is all about me, and my birthday. Aaagh, how narcissistic that sounds. but after all a sewing blog is sometimes a bit narcissistic - or at least self indulgent, filled with photos of one's self modeling the latest creations. I do admire the people who can make their photos very interesting, sadly I am not one of them, and have to hope that I can get some shots that are at a minimum in focus and the garment is visible. But for my birthday I am usually on vacation so the background is at least improved:)

Butterick dress on me front

I have mentioned my pattern love for this one before and decided to make a version for myself, as I have sewn this pattern at least 10 times but never once made it for me. It is Butterick 5455 which is sadly OOP. I have mentioned before that I think this is a stellar pattern, looks good on lots of figures, has pockets! and a very pretty neckline front and back. Here is my previous post with a number of versions pictured.

Front and back on the dress form. I mentioned in my previous post that this is a sleeveless dress which is designed as a sleeveless dress. One of my pet peeves is patterns which have sleeved and sleeveless versions, when you take off the sleeves I find the armhole and shoulder to be a bit clunky which this pattern avoids.
Butterick front on form4Butterick back on form

The fabric is a remnant that I found at Stone Mountain earlier this summer. I actually bought it as my sister mentioned wanting a ponte dresses, then I found a dress in her size on sale in just her colors (navy blue and white) My sis and I have a challenge of finding things for each other on the super sale rack. She started it years ago and now we hunt for some perfect item with a price limit of $ 10 in summer and $ 15 in winter. Anything is fair game from exercise wear to tops, dresses, pants and even shoes. You would be surprised how fun it is to shop for someone else with no pressure, with just the potential to find something perfect. I think we are even so far (sisterly competition of course :).

price tag ponte

I am not the biggest fan of ponte and the colors might be too bright for some - although not for me. Turquoise and coral in one print, how could I resist?

back view on me Butterick dress

I didn't really try to match anything however now I see that the print kind of flows across the back skirt. so yay! and eek I need to get to the gym after this vacation - great meals going right to my hips. Oh well, that's what vacations are for.

How about a little inside view and some fitting info?
I made a size 12 which is my typical Vogue/Butterick/McCalls size and this dress is well proportioned so I would not say there is any excessive ease. I always cut things out with a 1 inch side seam allowance at the hip and then fit it as I go on the body, to create just the right fit and hip curve. This metal ruler is something I've had for ages and so useful for long curved seams. And Frixon pens.

Butterick dress side seam

I don't usually take fitting photos in the mirror but I was working on this one and realized it would illustrate one of my fitting mantras which is "pinch an inch". Reading other blogs and feedback on pattern fit I think the preference is very close fitting garments but I prefer a slight difference between the body and the garment measurements makes it so much more pleasant to wear, and actually hangs better on the figure, with no drag lines or pulling. So this dress is fitted but I can "pinch an inch" at the side seam, meaning that it might measure about 2 inches more than my measurement. Of course with knits you can have less ease but with a woven that 2 inches in circumference is really necessary.
and ignore my messy floor - plus my footwear :) those are my sewing clogs. Never step on a pin with those on my feet.

Butterick pinch an inch

Other fit adjustments, I added a bit of length in the upper part of the bodice, about 1 inch at the center.
The yellow line marks where the pattern piece would have been without the addition. Look at the above photo and imagine if I had not added that front bodice length, the seam would have been too high and bisecting at an awkward spot. Interestingly I didn't need to shorten the back bodice which I typically do. I also took it up at the shoulder seam about an extra 1/2 inch which is also typical.

Butterick on form close up

Inside view, lined the bodice with a white poly lining and left the skirt unlined. It's kind of hard to see but the hem mark is thread traced. Once I decide on the hem I usually run a thread trade along the fold and then I can unpin and finish the dress without having pins come out or losing the hem place. It takes a couple of minutes but actually makes the garment easier to handle for the last few steps.

Butterick inside view

So that's the scoop on this year's birthday dress. The weather has been great despite the state being in the path of 3 hurricanes in a row - which all have taken a turn and moved their direction away from the islands. A little more rain than usual, and very hot and humid. But the alternative could have been a lot worse! And we are all saying that it will seem extra brown and dry when we get home to drought stricken California.

Butterick dress on me5

Beach day tomorrow and then dinner at one of my favorite restaurants - what a perfect way to spend a birthday.

Aloha, Beth

Friday, August 28, 2015

Vintage pattern nostalgia with McCalls 6544

Having learned to sew as a young child means that once in a while I come across a pattern now listed as vintage that I recall making when it was new. I am sure half of those reading know what I mean and the other half will just have to wait a few years to see their current cute styles listed as "vintage" on Etsy (which has a very loose description of vintage).

I am feeling nostalgic this week for all kinds of reasons. Back in Hawaii on vacation and thinking about travel, family and sewing across the years. Nostalgic because I am here with my family and some very good friends, recalling previous trips, and remembering those who aren't with us anymore. A little sad, a little sweet but good memories. I have mentioned before that my parents were not ones for camping or car trips, but a beach house, some palm trees and spending the day swimming in the ocean was their idea of a vacation idyll. I love being a native Californian but Hawaii is my second home, over the years some family members have lived here for extended periods and I have lost count of the number of trips taken over here but it must be around 100. Family vacations, romantic trips, girlfriend getaways, there were times that it took less time to fly to Hawaii and be on the beach than it took to get up to Tahoe for a ski weekend (if you have driven to Tahoe on a Friday night in snowstorm you know what I mean).

So all those vacations photos tucked away somewhere, the funny thing is if I look at them I can recall most every item I sewed, particularly the fabric if not the pattern. One night I was browsing on Etsy and came across a pattern that I knew I had sewn, and even that I had made it twice! So I ordered it and then promptly set it aside for a "sometime sew". A few weeks ago I came across it in my vintage pattern box and figured why not now?

blue batik on me2

I bought this batik fabric last year over here, and while it is a tiny bit too stiff for a dress that is supposed to be a bit drapey but it works and I love the color. Other than shortening I cut it out as is.

McCalls 6544 vintage pattern envelope

Now is my moment to repeat that there are no new patterns - sewn for a long time and seen it all. Recently I saw a few versions of the True Bias Southport dress and noticed it was quite similar to this pattern. What I like about this McCalls pattern (and a lot of older patterns in general) is that they include the pattern pieces to make the armhole and neckline bindings. Another detail I like is the waistline casing is on the inside and the ties are threaded to the outside via buttonholes at the center front.

blue batik front on form

It doesn't have bust darts, what would be bust darts are rotated into gathers at the neckline which is very pretty. And probably would lay better in a softer fabric. I remember the two versions I made were both rayon challis, one royal blue with black flowers and the other was emerald green (love those jewel tones:)

To fit this I added some length in the front bodice and created horizontal bust darts. If I had not done this then the waist casing would have been pulling upwards. So in this instance the neckline gathers become more for style and less for fit. Other fit changes, pinched out 1.5 inches of length in the middle back tapering to zero at the size seams, as I do with almost all McVoguerick patterns.

The back has a pretty neckline and the same gathers there.

blue batik back neckline

Close up of the front neckline. The pattern has a bias binding that is in the same fabric, that is sewn on and then folded. The pattern says to fold, press under and hand stitch inside - which I like to do but I bet on a current pattern this would not go over very well! Hand sewing seems to be minimized which is understandable, but there are times when it gives a nice result. I suppose it could have been finished with topstitching but for a change I like to see a binding without stitching. In a silk it is especially pretty and I think you have more control with hand sewing tiny bindings.

blue batik front neckline

However the best part of this pattern is that there are pattern pieces included for placing the gathers.
Here are the neckline binding pieces, they give the complete pieces, with that nice diagonal seam in the center back. That is one benefit of the single size older patterns, they could and did include all the pieces for bindings, facings etc and didn't have to create one pattern piece that included all the sizes. It certainly makes working with the pattern a lot easier - not having to hunt for your size among all the pieces. Also the printing was bolder - just a tiny thing but it really makes them clearer. This bias neckline has 3/8" seam allowance, which is clearly marked, plus all the notches, front and back, shoulder seams, etc.

blue batik neck band

This is the clever bit, the guide for placement of the gathers. Shown here the piece for the back neckline. You cut it out of paper and then can use it as a guide to place the gathers, then stitch them into place before you apply the neckline binding.

blue batik stitching guide

Here is the paper guide sewn onto the dress back neckline. And the stitching perforations make it easy to pull it away. Now the neckline is gathered nicely and you don't have to fiddle with any gathering stitches, trying to make them fit while applying the bias neckline binding. It is especially nice for the bodice front, as the placement of those gathers is more crucial to the fit over the bust.

blue batik gathering guide

Back view on me

back on me blue batik

Here is the waist tie, made by sewing a casing on the inside, and making a buttonhole on either side of the center front. The fabric tie is sewn to elastic which makes it very comfortable. And of course pockets in the side seams - as any good pattern should have!  Late night sewing means I scrounged around in my button box and came up with a few cards of these plain blue buttons. Matching well enough and just the right size. It pays to accumulate a lot of button cards when they go on sale.

blue batik front closeup tie

Last fit note, once the neckline was finished I basted up the side seams and decided that 80's shaping (in a word - voluminous!) was not right for me now.  I lopped off a lot of circumference by taking it in about 2 inches at each side seam at the upper bodice and a good 5 inches by the time I got to the hem. It would have been a very full skirt otherwise. I think the finished bust was intended to be about 40 inches - way too much fabric for my 2015 eyes but otherwise a timeless pattern with a lot of good details.

blue batik on me 1

Ok that's all for this one - time to hit the beach. By the way I am participating in the #sewphotohop on Instagram  which has been a lot of fun. A great way to find new-to-me sewing fanatics all over the globe. True confession - I am extra happy when I find some new-to-me blogs this way - I really like reading all the extra details that a blog post can provide.

Up next a few more new items that made it into my suitcase, including a lot of Girl Charlee fabrics. I told you I could not resist a tropical novelty print....

Happy Sewing, Beth

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fitting facts ahead: Vogue 8787 dress in rayon jersey

Fitting details ahead! Including my hand drawn illustration of pattern adjustments. I have written before that fitting is the final frontier for many a seamstress/sewist/stitcher (take your choice). I am seriously considering doing a post this fall with a before and after approach. Making two muslins, a non-fitted and a fitted version to highlight all the changes I might make. Which sounds like a lot of work. But for some reason the idea is stuck in my head. We'll see how things go in the fall, when summer is waning and I can't face the idea of fall sewing - yes I am the odd one out, fall sewing is not my thing.  (#summer forever) ha ha.
Anyway, onto today's project.

Back in June my friend and sewing client Heather spent a couple of weeks in NYC. There was fabric shopping involved with long distance consultations and a flurry of photos and texts. The grand total being fabric for 7 garments purchased at Mood and some other spots. How long it will take me to sew up these items time will tell.
Some of the fabrics are for specific items, more fall/winter in season so they can wait. I will definitely be repeating this Burda dress as it is a fantastic pattern. One silk fabric is perfect for wearing on a tropical vacation so we will set that aside until needed. A couple of the fabrics were jersey knits which are ideal for dresses most all year round here, so I started with a pattern that I have made twice before for Heather, Vogue 8787, view E with the cowl drape neckline. I like this pattern as it has a lot of options.

Vogue 8787

The dress on Heather. When fall arrives we will have to do a better photo shoot than standing in front of my blank wall but it was way too scorching to go outside that day. The fabric is a lot more blue that it appears here - and looks so nice with her blue eyes/blonde hair. I am so happy with the fit. Waistband in exactly the right spot!

Heather in dress

Here is the finished dress, on the dress form. The fabric is from Mood in NY and it is still available on their website here.  I was a bit doubtful when I first saw it because it has a print that could read or need to be worked with as a stripe but actually this pattern was just right. Nice how the bodice is on the bias giving a bit of motion to the print. And the slight pattern matching creating a flow across the right and left sleeve was a very happy accident. (I should take credit for these things so you can think I'm a wizard - ha ha, not at all, just luck.) This pattern calls for woven or knit so the upper pattern piece has to be on the bias.

V8787 dress closeup on form

Ok fitting details shown here with my slightly comic-book illustration but you get the idea.

V8787 pattern adjustments

Starting with the front pattern piece. I have only drawn one quarter of it here, it is actually the entire front and is doubled so that you cut it on a single layer, on the bias, and it creates its own lining. So the adjustments in green have to be done on both halves and/or side of the pattern piece.

  1. I choose the pattern size based on her circumference measurements. I added to the seam allowance 3/8" to make a full 1" seam allowance on all side seams, which I think of as fitting insurance. That makes the dress likely to be too big but I find it best to sculpt or fit the side seams on the body. Granted it is quite easy to do this on someone else instead of for yourself. But I do it when sewing for myself as well. Just involves a lot of on and off and flitting around in my sewing room in my undies. Worth it in the end. No seam ripping needed :) 
  2. Add length in front bodice. Perhaps a bit unorthodox in terms of an FBA, but it will work. Really works in jersey, a bit more tricky in a woven. Anyway...I added about 1.25" I think. This is to counteract that waistband seam rising up and bisecting the bust. If you are in the full-bust category you know what I mean, anything ready to wear is likely to hit at the wrong spot and pull upwards. Just geometry, folks.  We will deal with the difference between back and front in a minute. 
  3. Raise armholes. She is about 5ft. 3in. and I find that if you are sewing at the high end of the bust range the patterns of course get bigger everywhere - so the height or depth of everything is too much. I use size 12 in Vogue for myself, am about 5 ft. 3.5in. tall and even then the shoulders are too long, the armholes are often too big. I don't like seeing an armhole that is too big on a sleeveless dress, and just tightening it up at the underarm seam is not the answer. You have to adjust the actual armhole, luckily this is one of the easier pattern adjustments. I raised this one about 1 inch. My words to sew by "you can take away but you can't add".
  4. Back bodice. Raise the armholes there also. Then on to my number one fitting mania, the back waist seam. See red section removed. Which I have squawked about before. Here is my primo example with photos from April 2014, A Fiting Post: Watch your Back!   I think this adjustment is more common than I every realized, and often sewing students say something to the effect of "I didn't know I could just cut off there". You can cut off the extra fabric anywhere!  BIG note on this one, I have made this pattern for Heather 3 times now so the pattern is all adjusted, however on the first version I did this adjustment on the body, thread traced my adjustments on the dress, sewed it and then transferred all those adjustments to the pattern for posterity. I will say that every fabric behaves a bit differently so the amount of adjustments can vary with fabric. (Jersey is heavy and pulls more than a woven might).  Also note; the length of the back bodice bottom edge gets a little longer when it is cut on an angle like shown (again geometry:) but I have some fit insurance on the side seams of all my pieces so we are Ok there. But keep that in mind if you do this type of adjustment. A simple sheath dress with a waist seam, where you do this adjustment will need some more length across the upper part of the back skirt to match the back bodice. Hope that makes sense!
  5. Center back. Even with a full bust a person can have very narrow shoulders or just be a small frame carrying a lot of, shall we say, frontage? So the pattern size that accommodates bust and high bust is way too big for the shoulders, even if you don't pick a size by bust but instead choose by high bust and then do an FBA. Anyway - The center back seam is an easy place to adjust and if you do the zipper last as I do then it is really a good spot to get that final fit worked out. In this pattern with the cowl front it is idea, on a more structured style you would have to be more precise in the fit of the front and back. 
  6. What about that difference between front and back side seam? I just treat it like an invisible dart, in that I gather the section that would be a dart on the front side and ease it into the back. A lot of knit t-shirts have this type of easing and even some woven patterns. If the difference is about 1-2 inches more in the front I think that can be eased into the back with little problem. 
Here is a look at the dress from the side, and just imagine that extra 2 inches of length along that back bodice. The waistband looks reasonably horizontal here, maybe a bit tilted but a dress form is not a human and would be a lot lower if that section had not been removed. Also she has extremely good posture which is another contributor to having too much length in the bodice. People who slump over get longer in that dimension, so they can use the extra length but if you stand up nice and straight then your dress might end up bunching around the waist.

Heather dress side view

I lined the dress in a jersey as well. I get a lot of questions as to what I use to line knit dresses and it is not particularly special fabric, after some experimentation I have settled on some poly knit fabric that I buy at Joanns. 100% poly, they call it Jet Set knit fabric, it comes in a lot of colors, washes easily and makes a really good lining for these rayon knit dresses. They have a lot of other types of knits that I have used for lining, check the dance wear aisle. I think some of the nylons or poly that you use for inside dance/gym costumes are ideal for using as lining in knit dresses. My biggest tip is to check the slipperiness factor - you want something that won't stick and grab the outer fabric. But this Jet Set stuff works well and is darn cheap (like between $ 3 to 6 dollars/yard depending on sales or coupons.
I go bonkers when I buy it and the sales associate says Oh what are you making with this. Like I would make a 100% poly thin knit item in that color. Yikes. Although they must be bored and I would ask every customer that if I worked there as well. But I can't tell you the number of times I have bought lining - like actual lining and they ask what I am making with it. Sad lack of sewing info at those places - gripe for another time.

V8787 inside out dress lining

And you can see my seaming is a bit off in the inside. Which makes no difference to wearability so it stays :)

Back view. Oh by the way - I didn't use the skirt that came with this pattern. Never have. I think it has seaming, 3 piece front and back. I was making something else for Heather when I made this first dress, and also muslining a different Vogue pattern which we ended up never sewing in real fabric but the skirt was all adjusted so I frankenpatterned it onto this one. Same basic shape and no seaming.

V8787 dress back on form

I hope this fitting info is helpful, and my explanation makes sense! My biggest fitting tip is to consider the up and down measurements along with the circumference.

Onward with more summer sewing for me, I have a backlog of summer items to post so those will be coming up soon. Including a semi-vintage pattern that is totally timeless. (is it vintage if I made it when it was new, in the 80's when I was, ahem, younger?) Let's just take this moment to remember that I have been sewing since age 8 so I could have been in elementary school. (not!)  Best not to dwell, right?  And speaking of time passing, I have my annual new dress for my birthday, I try to make something fun or different. This year is is a pattern repeat sewn many times but never for myself. Wait and see:)

Stay cool if summer is in full force wherever you are, and happy sewing.

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, what else for the heat of the summer but this fantastic sunflower.

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