Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Catching the Wave

July is "dresses" month for the Stashbusting Challenge. I made a matching top and skirt my July Burda Challenge. If I wear them together, an innocent observer might think they were a dress. But I wanted to sew something that was really on theme, so here is the real deal.

This is the wave dress from the May, 2012 issue of Burdastyle (dress #107c).

My version, in blues
Actually, it looks like they called it "luminous," which makes sense considering the colors they chose.

Burda's version, more luminous than mine
One of my sewing goals has been to try some color blocking. Does this pattern not cry out for color blocking? In fact, I can't imagine fussing with that insert pattern piece if you weren't going to color block.

I've dipped my toe into the color pool by combining black and gray for some undies, but I couldn't scare up the confindence to pick fabric for a garment meant to be publicly displayed. I'd pull bolts off the shelves, lay them next to each other, start to hyperventilate and leave with nothing.

The answer was to drag my artist friend, Martha, along with  me to Hart's for a shopping spree. If you look in the dictionary, under "eye for color," you will find Martha. Under her direction, I picked a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton in blue along with a batik with some blues, grays and browns in it. Mission accomplished!

I liked this pattern when it first came out but I was intimidated by the front insert. Looks like princesss seams on steroids, doesn't it?

I considered my approach carefully. I ended up stay-stitching at 1/2 inch along both edges of the insert and both wavey edges of the side fronts. Then I just went slow and did some easing and everything went fine. I had to clip in a couple of places to help with matching those opposing curves, but I tried to leave the seam allowance alone as much as possible so I'd have maximum options for finishing.

After the seams were sewn, I presssed, trimmed the allowances, and finished with my overcasting foot. That Kaffe Fassset cotton has a bit of a loose weave, but I think that should keep everything in place.

I put the pattern together just like Burda suggested, except I moved the zipper from the side to the back. Zipper pulls in my arm pit always kind of bug me. That meant cutting the back as two pieces, rather than on the fold. If I were going to do this dress again (and I might), I'd add a little shaping to that back seam. Burda calls this a sheath dress, but it's pretty loose-fitting.

Back view - wow, that shot cotton kind of does a moire, doesn't it?
I'm planning on taking this dress along with me on our road trip to the Southwest in August, so the airy fit will probably be just the ticket.

My pattern review is on here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Burda Challenge for July

Holy cow, I finished my Burda Challenge offering for July before the end of the month. And, it's actually from the July, 2015 issue. And, it's actually two pieces, so bonus points for me!

This is top #114a with skirt #118. Burda twice shows these pieces together as an outfit, once in the Blue section, made from an embroidered batiste, and again in the Form and Color section, made from a bright cotton satin.

Back view
I used a piece of border print rayon (or possibly Tencel) that I bought ages ago at Findings in Carmel. Oh, Findings, I miss you so. Why did your owner decide to retire?

I really like wearing rayon. It's so drapey and swishy and the colors and patterns are wonderful. I really don't like sewing with rayon. It slides around on me when I'm cutting and the pattern pieces stretch out of shape when you handle them. Plus, it wrinkles as fast as linen, and any stitches that you might need to rip out leave little holes that are the devil to get rid of. And there was a truly disturbing amount of ripping involved in this project. Lucky for me, Portia recently posted some tips on fixing this problem on her blog, Makery.

The top has a gathered peplum, to which you add a piece of elastic at the waistline. I remember from my youth that elastic waists generally look like the devil on me. What made me think things would be different in adulthood? They aren't. I was pretty disappointed when I first tried the top on.

Top #113 in this issue uses the same pattern pieces, but leaves off the gathered peplum. In retrospect, I wish I had made that version. It's basically a simple sleeveless shell with a boat neck and some bust darts. If I'd made top #113 instead, I bet I'd be a happy camper. I do like the top better with the matching sash. I can always wear it tucked in with a high waisted skirt or trousers and pretend the whole peplum thing never happened.

Top with peplum tucked away
Burdastyle describes skirt #118 thusly, "flatteringly narrow along the yoke and then gains volume thanks to the gathers below." Here's a look at the skirt with the top tucked in, so you can see the yoke. I like the skirt a lot. It did turn out to be a good match for my fabric because the skirt is just a couple of big rectangles; no curved hem to mess with my border print.

Burda would have you gather the skirt pieces onto the yoke. Fresh from my sad experience with the gathers on the peplum top, I decided to fuss around for hours trying to make pleats instead. This turned a very simple skirt into an ordeal, but I do like the pleats better. It's a neater way to jam a bunch of volume into a smaller space.

This skirt and top combo used up every shred of my 3 yard piece of fabric. In fact, I skimped on the skirt and peplum; both should have been even fuller than what I ended up with. But they're plenty full enough for me.

My pattern reviews are on here: skirt and top

I liked the two-part dress idea because I thought I could wear each piece on its own, mixed with other tops and bottoms. That's if I can think of any colors that would go with this olive-y green. Do you have any suggestions for me?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Jeans Accomplished

On one of my trips to Portland a couple years ago I visited Bolt and got myself a copy of Jalie 2908. With 181 entries on, this is possibly the most-reviewed jeans pattern on the planet. It was a Best Pattern of 2009.

Which I guess makes it almost vintage now. I had a yen for the high rise version - it reminds me of the jeans of my youth. It's not easy to find a pair of high-rise jeans in RTW these days, and my years of low-rise jeans showing a cute slice of abs when I raise my arms are way, way behind me.

I think they turned out pretty much the way they're supposed to, but man, has it been a while since I wore jeans this snug. The waist actually feels pretty good; it's the thighs that make me think twice about how to bend over.

One of the many reviews on Pattern Review mentioned that this pants block fits flat Canadian butts without needing alterations. Here is proof that it also fits flat American butts.

I'd forgotten how nice back pockets can be
I hoped this pair would be my wearable muslin. I used a piece of stretch denim that my friend, Jessica, located while pawing through a bargain bin on our junket to the Sew Expo at Puyallup.

My pants fabric is the middle one, between the future raspberry raincoat and the fabric that became my Burdastyle dotty shirt
There are a lot of bits that go into making a pair of jeans; even a somewhat simplified version like this one. I was tempted to leave some of those bits out for my muslin, but I'm glad I didn't. Some of the techniques were new to me and I actually enjoyed figuring them out. These pants were my first try at:

  • belt loops
  • fly shied
  • back patch pockets
  • using seam binding to finish the inside edge of the waist band
This was my first Jalie pattern, so I cut my size based on their chart and hoped for the best. They use a 3/8 inch seam allowance, which I had never done before. They also had you build the pants differently to how I've done with other patterns. They want you to construct the back of the pants (patch pockets, yoke and crotch seam), then the front (hip pockets, fly and crotch seam). Then you sew the back to the front at the inseam and sides; and it's just popping on the waistband and you're done.

So by the time I was basting the back and front together I'd already invested some sweat into the project. And when I tried them on, Gee, they felt tight. I was wishing I'd added a few eighths to that seam allowance for insurance. I finished them with the narrowest seam I could manage. Which was 3/8 inch. And I thought I had an instructive wadder.

Now that I've test-worn them a couple times, they're kind of growing on me. I'm remembering that little jump-and-pull that you use to wriggle into this kind of jeans and I'm adapting to seeing the shape of my thighs.

I have a piece of blue stretch denim that I got to make a real blue jeans version of this pattern. I think it has just a tad more stretch than this khaki denim. If I make the same size it might be just about perfect.

My pattern review is on here.