Thursday, September 8, 2016

Butterick 5998 Dangerous Curves Ahead

This is Butterick 5998, a sheath dress with "dual princess seam detail."  That's what the Butterick website says.  I guess it really is the case.  These are some highly exaggerated princess seams, though.  But that's what drew me to the pattern in the first place.

This is what the pattern envelope looks like.  It's a sheath dress designed for woven fabric.  The envelope suggests crepe, linen, or brocade.  It's also meant to be underlined and lined.
 I knew when I first saw this pattern that it wanted to be a ponte knit dress.  I also knew I would be making a color blocked version.  Why sew those fabulous dual princess seams if you're not going to show them off?

My fabrics are two of the last purchases I made at Hancock Fabrics before they closed for good.  (Boy, do I miss Hancock's.)  Ponte is the perfect fabric for this pattern.  You don't have to line or underline and those curvy seams were a snap to sew since the fabric has plenty of give to it.

The back of the dress has simple shoulder princess seams.  I omitted the zipper that the pattern calls for since I used a knit.

I cut a size 14 through the shoulders and a 16 from the bust down.  I added 2" of length at the waist and an additional 2" to the length of the skirt.  I also shortened the sleeves by 2".  These are my standard size and adjustments.  I really could have started with the next smallest size since I used a knit, but I was afraid.  I didn't want the dress to end up too snug.  This could easily go "Kardashian" if it was too tight.  (And that's not a good thing.)  But I did end up taking the dress in approximately 3/8" at each back princess seam from the shoulder blades down to the hip, and I took the CB seam in another 3/8'" all the way down.  The waist is still loose, but it's okay.  I wanted body skimming, not body con.

The neckline as drafted seamed very wide and didn't look like it would cover my bra straps so I added 1" to it all the way around to bring it in.  I drafted a facing to finish it off by taping the adjusted pattern pieces together and tracing the new neckline.  When I attached the facing I only used a 3/8" seam allowance so essentially I added 1 1/4" to the neckline all the way around.  It still just barely covers my bra straps.  It looks fine, but it's definitely something to look at if you plan to make this.

My favorite part of this project was the curvy princess seams.  I really enjoyed sewing them.  They were challenging enough to make them interesting, but easy enough to do in the ponte that they didn't frustrate me at all.  I stay stitched and clipped just like I would have done with a woven fabric and then pressed well.  I think they turned out pretty awesome.  I'm also pretty tickled that I was able to maintain the curves at the waist even though I added 2".  I slashed and spread the pattern like I normally do, but I pretty much had to free-hand the new cutting lines to keep the integrity of the curves.

Since I used a knit and didn't line the dress, I serged all the seams to finish them off nicely inside.  The facing worked out well for the neckline.  I interfaced it because I've found that really helps to keep it nice and flat once it's pressed to the inside.  I also hand tacked it down at all the section seams.

Even with all the length I added to the pattern I still had barely 3/4" to turn up at the hem to get it to hit at the knee.  If I make this again I will add another 1" to 1.5" to make a deeper hem.  In any case, I finished the sleeves and the hem by hand.

I love this dress.  It's already been worn to work and passed the road test.  It's very comfortable and the ponte fabric, as well as the long sleeves, are perfect for my chilly office.  I can totally see myself making this again, although not right away.  I might try it again for spring in the short sleeve version, maybe with a print and a solid.  In the meantime this is the perfect dress for fall.  Now if we could just get some fall weather...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Burda Style 07-2016-105 Short Sleeve Cutout Dress

This is dress #105A from the July issue of Burda Style.

This is how it appeared in the magazine.  There is a 105B in the issue too, but it appears to be the exact same dress just in solid white instead of a print.

I knew as soon as I saw this dress that I would be making it.  It's a relatively simple style and work appropriate.  But that cool little cutout detail (which really isn't a cutout, but the illusion of a cutout created with an overlay) makes it just interesting enough to be different.

Here is a little bit better picture.  The main dress has a deeper, faced neckline and the overlay is caught into the right shoulder seam.  The neck band is attached to the right back, the overlay and then forms a bridge over the left shoulder and attaches to the left back about an inch or so past the left shoulder seam.

In the photo above, you can just see where the band attaches to the left back.  I wish it laid more flat, but oh, well.

So this is a 3 dot pattern.  It's a little bit challenging because of the neckline construction.  I read and re-read the instructions and I finally just had to take a leap of faith and do what I thought was going to work.  You cut the back pieces together and then you have to trim a little bit off of the left back bodice piece to create the "cutout."  The line for trimming is clearly marked on the pattern sheet.  What wasn't clear were the instructions, which said to trim off the seam allowance.  What?  What on earth for?  I went back and forth over that and finally figured it out.  DO NOT TRIM OFF THE SEAM ALLOWANCE.  If you do, you will have nothing to attach your neckband to!

What the instructions really mean, is to sew the left back facing to the left back bodice as far as the marking and stop.  Then you clip the seam allowance at the marking (I put in some stay stitching before sewing the facing to the bodice) and turn the facing to the inside leaving a nice seam allowance to attach the neckband to:

This is the right side of the left back.  The shoulder is on the left and the CB is on the right.  My facing is neatly turned to the inside and my seam allowances are basted together.

And this is what it looks like from the inside once the neckband is on:

The sides are reversed since this is the inside, but you get the picture.

And here is the inside of the front for good measure:

The facing goes from the right shoulder, around the front, over the left shoulder to the center back.  The right back side has no facing, just the neckband.

That neckband is the worst part of the whole thing.  It's only about 1/2" wide and curved, so attaching it and then trimming and clipping and pressing and finally hand stitching it together are a pain.  But well worth it in the end.

The pattern is offered in sizes 36 through 44.  I cut a 42 through the shoulders and a 44 from the bust down.  I made my usual petite adjustment above the bust and added 1.5" of length to to the bodice just above the waist.  (I could go for another 1/4 to 3/8" of length.)  I also shaved 3/8" off the bottom of the back bodice between the darts, tapering to nothing at the sides- a sway back adjustment.

My fabric is a fabulous floral print cotton shirting from Joann's.  It was the color combination that caught my eye.  I love pink, orange, and yellow together.  And did you see the snakeskin?  It's very "tropical" and yet I think the colors will take me right into fall.  Check out my mad pattern matching skills on the front of the dress.

I didn't do quite so hot on the back:

Other than the neckline, the dress is really simple.  It's an A-line with bust and waist darts, a waist seam, and side seam pockets.  The sleeves are finished with a narrow hem and the dress closes with an invisible zip and a hook and eye.

I did make one little mistake.  The overlay is supposed to be sewn to the bodice front from the side seam to just before the dart.  I didn't catch the placement line when I traced the pattern and didn't see it in the instructions until I already had the darts sewn.  I considered topstitching it down once the dress was finished, but when I pinned it in place it formed an odd flap right at the bust, so I just left it loose.  No one will know but us!

I love this dress!  I am going to have a blast wearing it.  Although this is a great pattern, and I highly recommend it, I doubt I will make it again any time soon.  I don't think...  even though I have several ideas for making a contrast overlay, binding the edge of the overlay, lining the overlay...  Did I mention it's a great pattern?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Burda Style 08-2016-128A Panel Pencil Skirt

I am in love with this skirt.  This is one of my favorite patterns I've ever made from Burda and it's likely to end up a TNT pattern.  This is skirt 128 from the August issue.

I knew the moment I saw this picture that I would be making this.  I love those section seams!  And even though they are a little unusual, the skirt itself is very basic and versatile.

Now granted, mine looks a little different.  For one thing, it's orange, and my fabric isn't quite so nice- it wrinkled a bit (the photos were taken at the end of an almost 12 hour workday.)  But the fit and the lines are great and I intend to make this again.  And again.

My fabric is some sort of jacquard weave suiting with a tiny bit of stretch, and most likely a fair amount of polyester.  I'm surprised it wrinkled as much as it did, but then again, it's not the worst I've encountered and I did wear the skirt all day, sitting at a desk for most of it, so some lap wrinkles are to be expected.

My favorite thing about this pattern is, of course, the curved section seams in the front.  Burda calls them "wandering panel seams."  They weren't too hard to sew, but added just enough of a challenge to make it interesting.  Okay, I wouldn't even call them a challenge, just a detail that you need to take your time on.  I stay stitched all of the convex curves then clipped and pinned carefully.  I like to sew with my clipped edge on top so I sewed part of the seam, cut the thread and then flipped it over to finish the seam.  I think they turned out pretty good.

I love the princess seams in the back too.  They are flattering and make fitting so easy...

The pattern is offered in sizes 34 to 42.  I traced a 42 and "graded up" to a 44 by just adding extra to the side seam allowances.  That took care of the hip circumference but I ended up having to take in the waist at the side seams and at the back section seams so it's now approximately a 40.5 at the waist.

This skirt is drafted long.  I added 1 3/4" for a hem allowance and then ended up taking 2.5" to get it to hit just below the knee.  I should have made my walking slit a little longer, something I will probably go back and correct.

The waistband for this view is a straight strip that you cut to measurements.  It finishes narrow and is added before the zip (I used an invisible one) so that it goes all the way to the top and you don't need a button or hook.  The band sits at the natural waist which is my preference both for comfort and for looks.

I would really like to make the second view offered in the magazine with the wider, shaped waistband and the curved hem:

I will be on the lookout for some nicer fabric because I'd love to have a couple more of these.

I'm really pleased with the Burda August issue.  There are so many things in it that I want to make.  I don't know what to choose next!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Burda Style 03-2016-104 Asymmetric Blouse

This top rolled out of the sewing room today.  It's the "Asymmetric Blouse" from the March issue of Burda Style, and I love it.

I've been telling myself for a while now that I need to make more tops instead of dresses all the time.  And every Friday when I wear jeans to work I find myself wishing I had something to wear besides a company logo T-shirt.  Or my "Everything is Awesome" T-shirt.  Last weekend I decided to trace this pattern out and give it a go.  I'm so glad I did, because this is just what I needed in my wardrobe.

Here is what Burda had to say about this pattern:  This simple blouse features three quarter length sleeves, darts for a feminine fit and an asymmetric hem that is a bit longer in the back than in the front.

There is not a whole lot to it.  It's a very simple pattern to put together.  The sleeves are cut straight and finished by machine.  The hem is finished with a narrow machine hem also and the neckline is finished with a narrow bias binding.  I left off the front slit.  I really didn't want to bother with it, and I felt the neckline was already wide and didn't need to open any further.  There are no closures and the top fits easily over my head.

The main design feature is the deep pleat in the back which opens out to give the top some swing.  Here is a closeup:

My fabric is a rayon challis print from deep in my stash.  It originally came from Hancock's and was left over from a dress I made a few summers ago.  I love the colors and the print and the challis is breezy and comfortable.  It wasn't bad to work with for this simple design and it gave me a chance to experiment with the variable pressure of the presser foot on my new sewing machine.  I lightened the pressure just a bit and the challis sewed beautifully, even on the bias parts.

I cut a size 42 through the shoulders and a 44 from the bust down.  I made a 3/8" petite adjustment above the bust and removed about 3/8" of ease from the back of the sleeve cap.  I narrowed the shoulders by about 3/4" on each side in the front and by about 3/8" on each side in the back.  (A muslin showed me that the shoulders were a little wide for me and the neckline didn't cover my bra straps.)  I also added 2 inches of length at the waist to make sure the hem in front adequately covered my waistband.

I wore this out tonight and it was comfortable and made me feel sort of dressed up.  I can definitely see myself making this again.  The Princess likes the cropped version of this pattern and I'd love to make her one as well.  I'm thinking I need a slim black skirt to wear with this.  We'll see...

Monday, August 1, 2016

Burda Style 06-2016-109 A Summer Shift Dress

I love a shift dress.  And when I saw this one in the June issue of Burda Style I knew I would be making it.  It took a few weeks to find the right fabric and the time to put it together, but here it is.

Here is the magazine photo and the tech drawing.  It's funny, but I still get mildly irritated that these things don't look quite the same on me as they do on the tall, slim Burda models.

It's a simple enough design- just an A-line shift dress.  But it does have a few interesting features, such as the wrap over shoulders, the back shoulder darts, and the angled seams at the sides, set off by fabric "frames" caught into the seams.

You can see my "frame" in the photo above.  The strips are sewn together at the corner and then pressed to form the angled shape.  They are then basted to the CF of the dress and the side front pieces are sewn in.  Yes, there is an inset corner, so precision sewing is the key.

My favorite feature of the dress is the shoulders, or lack of a shoulder seam, rather.   The back prices wrap around and tuck under the front and everything is caught together in the neckband.  It's quite nifty, and perfectly placed to cover bra straps, which is a huge plus for me.

Here is a shot of the inside showing the back pieces attached to the neckband and showing off the pink gingham binding I used to finish the edges.  I chose to use a contrast binding for 2 reasons.  One- it's a nice little touch to have a contrast binding inside that no one knows is there but me.  And two- by using the gingham instead of my main fabric, I have enough of this linen left to make a little sleeveless top to wear with jeans.

My fabric, but the way, is a light weight linen hibiscus print from Joann's.  I love the print and the linen is cool and comfortable, even on hot, muggy days.  And we have had a lot of those lately.

The back of the dress is pretty plain.  It does have those shoulder darts which shape it nicely, and a center back seam which is drafted completely straight for a zipper.  I omitted the zip since this goes over my head easily and I did a small sway back adjustment which put a slight curve in my CB seam.

It also has pockets!  Nice, big generous ones!

I cut a 42 through the shoulders and a 44 from bust to hip.  The fit is loose and easy.  I added 1.25" of length at the waist.  Although the dress is pretty straight, I wanted to balance the proportion of the side inserts.  I also added 2 extra inches to the hem to bring the finished length to the knee.

This may not be the most flattering thing I've ever made, but it was a fun sew and the finished dress is comfortable and unique.  I probably won't make it again, even though now that I see the photos, I wonder if I should have used a contrast fabric for the "frames."  There are just too many other shift dress patterns out there calling my name.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

McCall's 6696 Shirtdress Sew Along Part 3

I have been having so much fun with this shirtdress sew along that I had to keep going.  This is McCall's 6696, a very popular pattern right now.  There are quite a few of them in the sew along and even more if you do an image search online.  The cool thing about this pattern is that pretty much every single one you find looks great on the wearer, no matter which view they made or what fabric they used.  I challenge you- go take a look!

I had to get in on the fun, so I picked this pattern up a few weeks ago when JoAnn's had it on sale.  I love that it has a waist band with tiny belt loops, and a button band.  And pockets- love the pockets!  The pattern includes sleeve variations and two skirt options, as well as a slip if you want to make your shirtdress out of sheer or semi-sheer fabric.
 You can't see the back unless you look at the line drawings, but this pattern also has a back bodice yoke, which I love, and the back is gathered to the yoke and the waist band for some pretty, feminine detailing.

My dress is made up in a flamingo print cotton from Hobby Lobby.  It's been really hot here lately and muggy, too.  I saw this fabric and instantly decided that a crisp white cotton shirtdress would be a great thing to have for the summer.  That it's covered in pink flamingos is just icing on the shirtdress cake.  I tried to punch up the wow factor just a teeny tiny bit by using buttons with rhinestones.  You can just see them in the photo below.

Oops!  I missed a button!  I think I need to go ahead and add a button above the one at the bust line and another to the collar stand.  I will have to go back to the store and get more first.

I did not make a muslin, but cut my standard 14 shoulder, 16 everywhere else, which would have been great except that I decided to use the pattern piece for the C-cup bust.  I should have just used the A/B-cup piece or the 14 with the c-cup.  My bodice turned out a little too big through the bust.  It's time to reassess my size requirements (and start making proper muslins again!)  I also forgot to make a sway back adjustment and my back bodice is a little too long and poofy.

The pattern is drafted well and everything went together fine.  I ran into some issues with my pleats on the skirt front, but I'm pretty sure it was user error.  I ended up with one pleat narrower than the rest and the ones closest to CF are off, but no one will know but me.  (And you.)  The pattern calls for purchased binding for the armholes.  I didn't have a suitable color in stash so I made my own using pink gingham.  I should have gotten a photo because it looks really nice inside.  I also added a hook to the inside of the button band at the waist to prevent any gaping.

This project seemed to take a very long time.  My first two shirt dresses seemed to go right together, but this one dragged during construction.  There were extra steps and more pieces- the waistband, button band, and the collar with stand.  I also fell a little out of love with it during the process and then trying it on and realizing the bodice is too big didn't help.  But seeing the pictures, I'm starting to feel warm and fuzzy toward it again.

I just might make this again, with some changes:  smaller bodice, sway back adjustment, higher armhole (or maybe a short sleeve.)  It really is a great pattern.  Just ask any of the many others who have made it and look great in it!

I may take a break from shirt dresses for a little while.  I'm helping the Princess with her 4H sewing project this weekend and I have a couple of Burda patterns that are whispering to me.  But I still have a couple of shirtdress patterns that are speaking to me and I would really like to make another M5024 in a fabulous print.  We'll have to see what happens

Monday, June 20, 2016

McCall's 5378 Shirtdress Sew Along Part 2

This McCall's 5378 View C, the second shirtdress from the McCall Pattern Blog Shirtdress Sew Along.

When I decided to participate in the sew along and I was choosing a pattern, this one was the first runner up.  I ended up choosing M5024 for some of it's design features, but I kept this one pulled out and handy.

The cover dress really is ugly- plain brown with a black scarf tied around the waist, but the drawings are cute.  The short dress appears to be seersucker and the long, black and white version looks lean and cool.  I just happened to purchase this black and white stretch twill a couple of weeks ago at the Hancock's clearance, having no idea what I would do with it.  I had just enough for this pattern.  It seemed like it was meant to be.

This pattern is much easier than the last one (M5024.)  There are fewer pieces since the facings are cut on and the collar is pretty much a straight piece attached to the neckline- no inset corners!    The only thing I didn't like is that this pattern has no pockets!  I decided to use the pocket pieces from M5024 and add them to the side seams.  It worked beautifully.

Although this pattern is pretty plain, it does have a back yoke and front shoulder yokes.  I really like those features, even though they are kind of hard to see with this print.

I didn't make a muslin for this.  I just made the same adjustments that I made for M5024 (graded to a size 14 at the shoulders and neckline and cut size 16 from bust down, 1.25" of length added to the bodice, 1/4" sway back adjustment) and crossed my fingers.  They worked.

This dress is long.  I briefly considered shortening the skirt pattern pieces, but decided against it.  I figured I could always hem it shorter if I needed to.  I didn't.  It's almost a maxi dress, but I love how dramatic it is.  The skirt moves beautifully and it's very comfortable.  I wore it to work today and it wore very well and got compliments, too.

I could see making this again.  It might be nice to have another long shirtdress in a solid color- maybe a vivid red or cobalt blue.  I also like view A with the puffed sleeves.  In the meantime, I have really gone off the shirtdress deep end because I've started a 3rd one.  More on that in a future post!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

McCall's 5024 Shirtdress Sew Along Part 1

When the McCall Pattern Blog recently announced a shirtdress sew along, I thought it sounded like fun and a great motivator to make a shirtdress, something I haven't done in a long time.  I love the style so I don't know why I didn't already have one of these in my closet.

I knew I had at least a few patterns in my stash and I wanted to use one of them, preferably along with stash fabric.  I chose M5024.  It is a very traditional looking style with a darted bodice and an a-line skirt.  I liked the way it looked on the model with the close fitting bodice and squared shoulders.  The sleeve bands and the button band cinched the decision for me.

After doing a little internet research, I found that M5024 is the stitch 'n save version of M4769, which has been released with various cover photos.  You may recognize this one:

For my fabric, I chose a turquoise seersucker from stash.  It wasn't my first choice.  I wanted to use a novelty print from stash but I didn't have quite enough of it to cut all my pieces out with the print running in the right direction.  The pattern does not have a "with nap" layout so the fabric requirements listed are not enough for directional prints.  I figure I needed about 1/2 yard more of my 45" fabric to make the pattern work.

I ended up going with the seersucker because I had it on hand, there was plenty of it, and I love seersucker.  It's very cool and comfortable on a hot day.  And it was very hot and muggy when these photos were taken.  The dress, however, was quite crisp and comfortable.

The pattern envelope I had included sizes 16 to 22.  I had to grade the neck and shoulders down to a size 14 and I cut a 16 everywhere else.  I added 1.25" of length to the bodice pieces, my standard adjustment for my long torso.

The pattern went together easily.  The directions were good and the pieces, for the most part, were well drafted.  I can't speak for M4769, but with M5024 I did find that some of the notches did not match up correctly.  You can see in the photo above that the bodice side seam notches are slightly off.  It was not a big deal- the seams themselves lined up perfectly.

The only problem I found was the sleeve bands which are too short.  You can see above where I have the size 16 sleeve cut out and the sleeve band below it.  I cut the band on the size 16 line on one end and the size 22 on the other end.  If I had used the size 16 lines on both ends, my bands would have been too short to attach to the sleeve.  I checked the pattern pieces and the instructions to see if smaller seam allowances were indicated for the bands, but no.  (You can also see the notches don't line up.)  Luckily for me I noticed this before cutting out the bands.  I've adjusted the pattern piece so that if I make this again it won't be a problem.

The dress went together very well.  There are quite a few pieces to this pattern.  More than you might think because the facings are all separate, and there are sleeve bands and a button band.  Most of the sewing is pretty straight forward, although there is an inset corner where the collar attaches to the neckline, so that requires some precision sewing.  I also love that the dress has pockets in the side seams.

I went a little large on the buttons using 1" instead of the 5/8" called for.  I adjusted the spacing to account for my length adjustment and because I knew I would wear a belt with this dress.  I added a hook and eye inside the button band right at the waist to keep it from gaping.

I'm happy with the finished dress and I can see myself making this pattern again if the right fabric came along.  I would still like to make it in a print.  I had such a good time making this and I like it so much, I made a second shirtdress for the sew along.  More on that in the next post.