Thursday, January 22, 2015

Burda Challenge, January Edition

I was trying to limit myself to two challenges this year (the RTW Challenge and the Stashbusting Sewalong), but then Dawn at Two on Two Off announced the Burda Challenge and I couldn't resist.

Here are the “Rules,” copied from Dawn's post: "Each month we will attempt to make at least one garment from that month’s magazine (January garment from the January 2015 Burda magazine). You can also opt to stick with the month but use whatever year you want. (January garment in January, but from whatever year you choose)."

I loooove my Burdastyles. In fact, they're pretty much the only patterns I buy, except for the occasional vintage pattern find. The highlight of my month is the day my local bookstore gets their shipment of European magazines and they pop this month's Burdastyle onto the shelves. I stalk the store daily at the beginning of the  month. It's occurred to me that I should probably just subscribe to the darned thing, but I'd miss the thrill of the chase. Problem is, I tend to flip through them, consider making this or that, and then set the magazine aside without actually getting around to it. This challenge will be just the kick in the butt I need to get myself to tracing.

That "whatever year you want" clause is my butt-saving loophole. Burdastyles often arrive in my town pretty late in the month, leaving me not much time to hunt out a pattern I might possibly
  1. be able to successfuly complete
  2. wear without looking like a  60-year-old hoochie-mama
So this month, I took a look back at the January, 2014 Burdastyle and decided to give the Batwing Top (01-2014-108) a whirl.

Dawn says that one of the interesting things about this challenge is that you may find yourself trying a silhouette that's new for you. Certainly true for me here! I took a chance because I thought the simple shape might work for a piece of scary polyester charmeuse that I've had in stash for years. I can't help buying the occasional piece of filmy, chiffon-y, shiny fabric even though I'm terrified of having to handle it. Still, this pattern only has three pieces, one of which is a rectangle you draw out yourself. Piece of cake, right?

Stashbusting bonus points!
The fabric was a pain to handle, but not as bad as I'd feared. If I'd had to cut any fiddly little pieces or any curves, I would have been kicking myself for not using one of the nifty fabric stabilization tips I've learned from you all. Luckily, for this pattern a few wavy edges didn't end up a deal breaker.

I had just enough fabric to lay out the pattern. The back pieces are enormous because the sleeves are integrated. If I had it to do over again, I'd cobble together a facing for the front neck edge. My fabric had a wrong side and it shows sometimes. I also ended up making the hip band with a finished width of 4 inches rather than the 8 inches Burdastyle intended. If I were tall and willowy, the 8 inches would probably look quite stylish. On me, it was too much.

I have to say I feel pretty swamped by this style, and I'm not quite sure what I should be wearing with it. I think I need something pretty slim on the bottom half to balance the volume up top. I'm thinking about making a high-waisted pencil skirt for my February Burdastyle garment. I have a piece of stash fabric that might be a good match color-wise. Maybe with some heels?

This was a fun top to put together and I think it was a pretty good marriage of fabric and style, but I'm pretty "meh" about the result on me. The Man and I are going to Lake Tahoe in April. I might try wearing it for dinner in the casino. Glammed up with some lipstick and some jewels? Maybe it will grow on me.

My pattern review is on here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Featherweight Porn

Do you remember this little white Featherweight that The Man hunted up for me at our local flea market? It looked like it had been in someone's damp storage locker for way too long.
Sad "before"
Well, here's the "after." My friend Carole, the Featherweight Whisperer, picked it up and took it back with her to her lair of wonders, and now it's gleaming.

Glorious "after"
Not only did she resurrect it from the almost-dead, but she gifted me the correct turquoise and blue carrying case, in which it should have been living all these years.

Cute as a button, right? And it purrs like a contented kitten.

While I was visiting, picking up my happy package, Carole showed me a few other very cool machines that she was working on. In case you're wowed by lovely old sewing machines, as I am, here are some snaps. These guys are the creme de la creme.

This little cutie is the crackle finish (or Godzilla finish) featherweight. One story Carole heard is that this machine, which was produced during WW2, was used by the military. I guess Singer thought that the normal shiny enamel and gold pinstriping would be a bit too girly for the armed forces.

This is a Singer Featherweight 222, cousin to the Featherweight 221, but look at that free arm! You could hem a tiny little cuff with this baby.

This is the tan Featherweight. Looks a bit like my white machine, but it's a darker, tan color and it came in a beige and brown case. And it's much rarer than the white models.

And see this card table that looks like a rectangle was bitten out of the top?

It's made specially so you can snug a Featherweight into that empty space and slide your quilt or what-have-you across that nice, big table top.

I'm really trying to limit myself to three sewing machines. But if I had the space, it would be very hard to resist...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Stashbusting and Fasting in 2015

As you can see from my sidebar, I've signed up for both the Stashbusting Sewalong and the RTW Fast in 2015. Here's my formal hat-in-the-ring pledge:

 "I, NancyD, commit to using 15 pieces of stash fabric in 2015. Further, I pledge to refrain from purchasing RTW in 2015 (excepting socks and underwear, but I'll try to make that too).

Made from some dotty cotton I got 4 years ago in Shelton, WA
As proof of my good intentions, here's my first stashusting project, a Maria Denmark Edith blouse.

I've done some thinking about stash as I considered jumping into the pool this year. There's no doubt I have stash that needs dealing with, but I believe that stash can be a good thing.

When you're a sewist, especially a sewist with a busy life, you need to have your tools and materials ready and waiting when you manage to carve out that hour or two to indulge your passion. I love having a selection of pre-washed fabrics, multiple colors of thread, elastics, zippers and buttons all set when inspiration strikes. 

Now, you can't go hog wild with stash, or you end up with fabric leaking out of all your closets and drawers and you can't find those two yards of turquoise ITY knit when you need them. I'm close to that point, but quantity isn't really my problem.

For me, it's a question of balancing the stash. 

I probably have three times as many knits as I do wovens. When I first took up sewing again 10 years ago, good knits were rare on the ground. I developed a habit of buying a couple yards whenever I saw a knit I liked. The result is, I have a TON of knits. Part of my strategy for 2015 will be to find a variety of patterns so that I don't end up with 20 versions of the same tee (though I'll always love a good Renfrew).

My other problem involves those scary fabrics acquired earlier in my sewing cycle. Some of them are scary-good, like my pretty blue wool, earmarked for a jacket. Some of them are scary-bad, like my chiffon-y bits bought at cut-rate fabric emporiums. My strategy here will be to just hunker down and use them. What's the worst that can happen? As The Man points out, they aren't doing me any good wadded up in the fabric closet.

I won't pledge not to buy fabric, because I'm participating in Goodbye Valentino's RTW Fast again this year. I need to retire some of my trousers, which means sewing replacements, which means buying some fabric, on account of I don't have any pants-worthy fabrics in stash.

I had a great time with the fast in 2014. I totally went the whole year without buying any ready to wear clothing. Except one vintage beaded jacket  - it fit me and it was $30 bucks. How could I say no? Not buying RTW meant that if I needed (or, OK, wanted) some wardrobe item, I had to figure out how to make it myself. I sewed some things I wouldn't have thought I'd be able to manage, including running gear (!!) and a bra (!!! - the Watson, still to be blogged).

Plus, I'm going to the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, WA in February. How can I not allow for the possibility that I'll buy a yard or two of some delicious fabric on that trip? My friend, Jessica, and I are taking the train so we can bring an extra suitcase. Just in case.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

First FO for the New Year

This was almost my last FO for 2014, but there were errands to run for New Year's Eve. And then my photographer was laid low by a nasty flu, poor Man.

Front view
We've been having a cold snap here on the Central Coast, so this is not seasonal sewing. I've planned a flannel Archer and a red cowl-neck Renfrew, but this dress somehow jumped the line.

Cover shot. There are a couple more patterns in here I'm itching to try
The pattern is from Gretchen Hirsch's book, "Gertie Sews Vintage Casual."

Side view
I've been wanting to add an every-day wrap dress to my closet as part of my plan to work dresses into my daily wardrobe. Gertie describes the pattern as a wrap dress with retro features - a shawl-like collar, a slightly full skirt and gathers at the front shoulder. Also included are in-seam pockets.

Back view
I made the pattern up just like Gertie said, except I did pleats rather than gathers at the front shoulder and waist. As a brick, I'm always trying to reduce fluff around my middle.

I'm in between Gertie's size 4 (34" bust) and size 6 (36" bust). I decided to do a straight size 4, figuring the wrapping would give me some leeway and better the bust be a bit on the snug side to avoid any potential gaping. The wrap doesn't gape at all, and I bet it wouldn't have even if I'd gone up a size. I really like how the neckline sits. I'll feel totally comfortable wearing this dress to work.

Side view with pocket
Sophie-Lee, who blogs over at Two Random Words, made this dress up in a floral lawn.  It really flows nicely in a light, drapey fabric.

I used a fairly substantial cotton - maybe a bit too substantial, but I fell in love with the colors. The pleats at the waist and the weight of the fabric make the skirt stand out a bit, which I think I kind of like.

I like my skirts to hit below the knee. This skirt ended up just right, but I took the smallest hem I could get away with. If you give this one a try and you are taller than 5'2", you might want to add a bit of length when cutting out.

I'm going to be taking part in the 2015 Stashbusting Sewalong, hosted by EmSewCrazy, so I diligently pawed through the stash to see if I had a piece of woven fabric that I could use for this project. Turns out my woven stash is all in lengths of 2 yards or less (darn my penny-pinching fabric buying ways). So I admit that for this project I headed to Harts and burned through my holiday gift certificate from my son (thank you Evan!).

Now, when it comes to knit stash, it's a different story. Knits, I'm drowning in.

Another front view, with fish
My pattern review is over at here.