Monday, June 25, 2007

Have you seen the July Burda preview?

If not, you can see it here.
It doesn't happen to me very often to be so enthusiastic about so many patterns... I want to make this and this and this and this. What about these blouse and pants? This dress? Bermudas? Halter top?
There are some more, but I'd better stop here. Can't wait for my July issue!!!!

Coming back from Brussels, I've finished a few things...

A blouse from the latest Burda (June 2007) ....

Detail of zipper treatment

Corner treatment at the hem (the blouse has 4 corners, I think it's called a handkerchief hem)

Managed to do an OK job on matching the stripes.

Back of the top

Read the PR review for the orange babydoll top here.

The blue top for the PR contest (I still have to check if it works with the jacket, I kind of doubt that the neckline will work). Sorry, last night I was too tired, too hot (38 Celsius degrees here!) and lazy to wear a bra, the top will look better with a bra underneath.

Detail of neckline

Detail of decorative stitches (3 rows of "crosstitch")

Read the PR review for the blue top here

A skirt. I'd like to have more violet things to wear with the lime green tops I'm making.

Detail of appliques and embroidery (sorry for the blurry photo)

Read the PR review for the violet skirt here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Productive weekend

I did have a productive weekend. After a big salsa party on Friday evening, cleaning the house, cooking and ironing on Saturday, I sewed the entire day of Sunday and managed to finish the Cosmopolitan dress and another top for the PR contest (they were already started).

So my count is: all the bottoms done (3), all the dresses done (2), the accessory - jacket :) done, two tops out of five. I've started another top (it just needs hemming and finishing of armholes) but stupid me, what was I thinking? I got carried away by the design of this top and didn't think it won't work with my jacket, because of the neckline. I hope I'll post pictures soon and you'll see. Grrrr... another "added value" item in the contest :)

Here we go....

Cosmopolitan dress, two views (with sash tied in the back or in the front)

Hot Patterns Deco Vibe Cosmopolitan Dress

Pattern Description:
A pair of fabulous dresses, inspired by a great Michael Kors design, these dresses will work best in fluid, drapey fabrics like heavy rayon, washed or double crepe, silky jersey or even a stable double or single knit.Semi-fitted A-line Dress has faux-wrap or scoop-front neckline, deep waistband with optional wrap-around ties and a center back zipper entry. Choose from elbow-length scarf-style sleeves or flared full-length sleeves gathered onto a cuff. Skirt finishes at the knee or at mid-calf length.Wear these gloriously flattering Dresses for work or play, dressed up or down for day or night. Mix up those sleeve, hem and neckline details for maximum fashion mileage!

Pattern Sizing:
6-26. I made a 6.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, it did. Except it doesn't have sleeves

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I didn't pay any attention to the instructions. Hot Patterns instructions are quite difficult to understand sometimes and I was confident I could manage without them.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It is a very trendy flattering dress in my opinion. Also, one that stands multiple variations. I like to tie the sash both in the front or in the back.

Fabric Used:
White and pale avocado cotton/lycra, clear elastic, stay tape, steam a seam for the hem.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
First of all, I scaled down the pattern pieces, because my cotton/lycra has a lot of stretch. I've also eliminated the zipper.

Secondly, I decided to make the waist pieces and the ties in the avocado cotton/lycra that I used for the appliques on my PR contest white jacket and for the Burda World of Fashion knotted straps top. I've also decided to bind the armhole and the neckline with the same avocado fabric, to tie it more to the waist part. I used stay tape both for darts and for the waist pieces (upper and lower seam), catching it in the seam.

Third, I noticed that my white fabric (a very good quality one) is quite heavy and I was afraid that my neckline and armholes will "drop". What I did to prevent this:
1) staystitch the neckline and armholes immediately after cutting them.
2) sewed a piece of 1 cm wide clear elastic to the neckline and armholes, gently stretching it, especially in the more curved areas.
3) bound the neckline and armholes. To avoid bulk, I didn't bind use a double folded piece, as I usually do. Instead of that, I cut a 5 cm wide piece of knit, sewed it to the neckline and armholes with a 0.9 cm allowance, turned it under, stitched in the ditch with a stretch stitch (zigzag 0.5 mm width, 2.5 mm length) and cut with small sharp scissors the remaining fabric.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will definitely sew it again, at least two more times. Next time I want to make it out of woven (I'm dreaming of a soft velvet, with flowers and beautiful autumn colours). Or a turquoise version, with the long gathered sleeves...

I think it is a very nice dress and the possible variations are quite many. Once the fit issue is solved, it is quite easy to sew. What is important in my opinion is to scale down the pattern if you're using a knit and staystitch and stabilise the neckline (so many people here complained about gaposis in this dress).

Top and details of lace embellishment that I thought of adding after finishing the top and taking pictures

Back of the top, sorry for the bra straps, I need to wear invisible straps for this top

View of the facing

Eyelet-type lace

Green ribbon threaded through holes in lace

Top with embellishment

Burda World of Fashion 12-2005-104
Pattern Description:
Triple-layer luxury! Both the skirt and top are made of tulle embroidered with glittering blossoms and it is lined with lamé tulle and satin, lending the whole outfit a warm golden glow. With so much glitz the actual garments should be cut quite simply. Bust and vertical waist darts sculpt the top to the figure.

Pattern Sizing:
34-42. I made a 34.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, it surely does.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I never follow the Burda instructions as they are quite short and vague (not to mention poor translation...) but do it my way. This is a simple pattern.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It's a classic pattern. I like the straps and the neckline, I like that it is quite fitted, I liked the oblique bust dart.

Fabric Used:
Viscose with a green, yellow and blue flowery pattern on a white background. Very nice and drapey.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
I made no alternation except shortening the straps by 2.5 cm. I shortened only the back ends of the strap. The front was ok, but the back neckline was so low that it risked showing my bra band. See the back of the top here. Sorry for the bra straps showing, I will wear a bra with invisible straps.

Caution, the Burda doesn't provide you with a specific pattern piece for facings, they just mark the line where the facing should end on the front and back pattern pieces. If you cut the facing pieces like that, after sewing, you'll have the facing showing on the outside.

What I did was cut the facing pieces and trimmed about 3 mm from the side seams, armholes and neckline. My facings are cut (I was out of fashion fabric) from a semi-sheer elastic cotton batiste, interfaced with fusible knit. After trimming, I sewed them, turned, understitched and then topstitched at 3 mm distance from the armhole and neckline edges.

After finishing the top and taking pictures, I decided it needed some embellishment . I had this eyelet-type lace and decided to thread a green ribbon through the holes in the lace.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will definitely sew it again and I do recommend this pattern. You can make it in any kind of fabric, from prints to solids, from plain shirting fabric to elegant laces or metallic silks etc. Also, as it is a simple pattern, it lends itself easily to various embellishments. Think embroidery, lace at the hem, decorative bias binding at the armholes and necklines, appliques, nice trims. Or the top made out of black lace and lined with contrast satin.

Lessons learned
Next time I will interface the straps too. They are ok but tend to fall off my shoulders because of the slippery fabric. To solve this problem, I've ironed a piece of fusible stay-tape on the back of the straps and it seems to work.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

PR Wardrobe Contest - item #6

Well, the contest changed its name and its rules. You are now required to sew 10 items, one top must go with two bottoms and one of the 10 items should be an accessory.
As a jacket can be considered an accessory, I decided to stick to my initial plan, so I will have a jacket in the wardrobe capsule and my tops will go with all the bottoms. I will sew 11 items, maybe even more as they can count as "added value" items.
My sixth entry in this contest is a bias-cut skirt from a piece of very nice drapey aqua satin, given to me by my sister (she gave away all her fabric before going to Stockholm and lucky me received some very nice fabric and some gorgeous pieces of lace). I spent 4 hours and a half on the hand embroidery and another hour on the scallops at the hem (mainly on cutting away the fabric with small scissors.

Skirt as worn

Detail of scallops

Detail of hand embroidery

Simplicity 6325
Pattern Description:
Bias-cut skirts in two views. I made view E, but shortened and without the sash.

Pattern Sizing:
6-16. I made a 6. By the way, can anybody explain me why if I look at the body measurements, I'm a size 10 in Vogue, Simplicity, McCall etc, but a size 6 fits me perfectly?

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, it definitely did.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I glanced quickly at the instructions (this skirt is very easy to sew) and they seemed really easy to follow.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like bias-cut skirts, first of all. Then I liked this one because it is not very flared. When worn, it looks rather like a straight skirt, flared at the bottom.
Also, it is a very easy and quick to sew item. I think it would take you only one hour to sew it (it took me more because I complicated my life by adding the hand embroidery, the little sequins and the scallops at the hem).

Fabric Used:
Aqua satin.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
I've shortened the skirt and ditched the sash.
Also, the pattern instructions tell you to fold under the top of the skirt to make a casing and insert the elastic. I preferred to sew the elastic to the waist of the skirt (by dividing the skirt in fourths, the elastic in fourths, matching them and pinning), then fold under the elastic and topstitch with a three-steps zigzag.
I wanted to embellish this very simple skirt (it seems I cannot be at peace with a quick to sew item and have to make it more difficult - masochistic tendencies, probably) and do a hand embroidery. I haven't done this in at leat 20 years but it seems it is something you don't forget. I used a degraded green embroidery thread (we call it Mouline here and it is made of six strands of thread, I usually separate them and use three or two; used three for the skirt), wash-away stabilizer and a free embroidery design from, that you can download here. I enlarged the design 200%.
The embroidery took me about 4 hours and a half. I've also decided to add a few very nice sequins - they are square and a semi-transparent white.
When trying on the skirt, I didn't like the bottom. The sating drapes a lot and gathered at my knees, looking lke a perfectly straight skirt. AS I wanted a bit of flare at the them, I stabilised the hem with a knit fusible - 5 cm width. I cut the fusible with my pinking scissors to make it invisible, but in zoomed photos you can still see a bit the line twhere it is fused to the skirt. I can assure you it doesn't show a bit when worn.
Then I sewed scallops using one of my decorative stitches and cut away the fabric with very sharp embroidery scissors.

How did I approach the bias?
1) Starched stiff the fabric and paid great attention when ironing it, because it tends to go off grain and you have to straigthen it while pressing.
2) Hung the skirt for 72 hours. I understand that normally an overnight is enough, but this kind of satin kept dropping so I wanted to play it safe.
3) Used a stretch stitch (a narrow zigzag, 0.5 mm width and 2.5 mm length) and stretched gently the seams while sewing. For this purpose, I've also marked the stitching line because when stretching, it gets narrower and if you use your presser foot as a guide, you end up by sewing a considerably wider seam allowance (you stretch and sew with a 1.5 cm allowance and when relaxing, the allowance is actually 2.5 cm and the garment clings too much to your body).

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will definitely sew it again, at least three more times. And I'm the type who doesn't use the same pattern a lot, twice is the absolute maximum so far! Also, it is quick and easy. In my opinion, it is a very good pattern for beginners, especially if you want to try the techniques of bias-sewing and a great wardrobe builder (I could whip at least 8 of them during the weekend, in various fabrics and colours and practically have an entirely new wardrobe if I have enough matching tops in my closet).

I like so much the embroidery that I might decide to complicate my life again and keep embroidering and adding other embellishments also. Those sequins have been in my stash for more than 5 years and I finally put them to a good use, I think.