Friday, September 13, 2013

McCall's 5818

When I discovered OOP McCall's 5818 (through reviews on sewing.patternreview.com of course), I wanted it!  The simple dress is exactly the type of garment I like to sew and wear.  I like the other pieces (except for the crazy large lapels on the jacket), but honestly, I doubt I'll ever sew them.  I bought this one for the dress.



Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, even though I used crazy fabric (see more below)

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Instructions are very detailed and have lots of information on fitting using the Palmer/Pletsch methods, however I don't like their construction process for this dress. I prefer an all machine clean finish. Nicegirl/Slapdash has an excellent tutorial on her blog. This dress is quite narrow at the shoulders, so I needed the long handle of a plastic cooking spoon to help push the fabric through.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Talk about bang for your buck, this pattern has it all! I mostly bought it for the dress though since that's what I like to wear when I'm not working.

The lining for this dress includes the neckline pleats which seams odd to me because this could create unnecessary bulk.  Since this was my first time making it, I decided to go with the pattern.  I think for future versions (and given my satisfaction with the finished project, there likely will be more!) I will convert the neckline pleats to bust darts for the lining. 

McCall's 5818 line drawing

Fabric Used:

Not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed... It's a cotton/poly shower curtain (seems like a mid-weight twill) that I bought from Marshall's for $15, and I lined it with some lightweight white cotton from old sheets. I sew with lots of vintage silk saris, which doesn't embarrass me at all, but using a shower curtain is a departure from my normal projects.  I just loved the print though!  I wore this to my husband's cousin's afternoon wedding and hoped none of the guests had this shower curtain hanging in their bathroom, or it would have been a bit embarrassing.. HAHA




Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I used a very large border print and spent HOURS agonized over the layout.  I copied the pattern so that I was working with full pieces, that were not folded.  This helped me more accurately determine the layout.  Since the print is so bold, I was concerned about inappropriate placement, and about transitions at the side seams, which I thought would be a bit jarring and detract from the design.  The best option I came up with was to invert the pieces for the back, so that I could semi-match the one side seam.  I hope the inversion is less obvious than having a drastic color change at both sides.  Since the blue flower was a bit more eye-catching, I chose to match it rather than the grey.  The center back seam is contoured, so only part of it could be matched.  I decided the very large flower on my bum was taking priority!




I thought the back neckline pleats were a nice design detail but they created quite a problem.  If you read the Palmer/Pletsch book, they do talk a good bit about how forward shoulders and high round back are becoming more common in younger people due to our computer work, and I think they've built this into the dress design.  While I technically have both, mine aren't severe, so I rarely adjust for it.  The pleats were too much in my heavier fabric and created a giant *pouf* over the shoulder blades that made me look like the hunchback of Notre Dame.

 My quick fix for this, since I didn't make a muslin, was to change the back pleat to a dart and create a seam joining it with the back waistline dart to eliminate the extra fabric over the shoulder blades.  This also revealed that the back neckline was a bit too large, so I then deepened the neckline pleat to remove the excess.  I also didn't like how high the back was (since this makes it difficult for me to zip) so I lowered it 1.5 inches.  I also prefer back necklines slightly lower in case I wear a necklace.  In future versions, I would probably attempt to redraft the upper back and neckline to eliminate the back neckline dart completely and avoid the extra bulk over the shoulder blades.  Mahogany Stylist mentioned that she normally makes a prominent shoulder blade adjustment, but didn't find it necessary in this dress, which confirms my findings.

lowered back neckline

after lowering neckline, increased pleat and merged with dart

I made a straight 10 and only hemmed it 1/4 inch more than the pattern suggested!  I was really excited to have something fit so well with no other adjustments necessary.  That never happens for me unless the skirt is full, because I normally must size the waist down to a 9 and the hips down to an 8 or a 6.  Consider this cautionary if you're pear shaped and measure carefully before cutting.

Since the shoulders are so narrow, I also added lingerie carriers to prevent bra straps from crawling out.





Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Such a great basic but a bit more interesting than a plain sheath. I love simple dresses, usually because I like difficult fabrics haha. 



Conclusion: 

It's literally 2 pieces (front and back) plus a lining!  A simple sheath dress is a great staple and this one can be made with only 1 1/4 yards of 45" inch fabric (made in size 10 and not including your lining of course).  Once you work out any fit issues, this one can be a great canvas for indulging in expensive fabric.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My first Burda. Burda Magazine 12-2008-103 Daphne Dress


This is my first Burda and the instructions are sparse. I didn't use them anyway due to a few changes.  Plus, there's the weird Burda sizing to deal with.


What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love the one shoulder design and how the back portion of the strap extends to the front and the nice pleating detail.



Fabric Used:
This is an inside out dress haha. The fashion fabric is a linen cotton blend and its lined with leftover sari silk. The silk looks pretty, but the grain is so uneven that it isn't really suitable for many applications. Unfortunately I made a dress with it before this one and I'm not quite happy with the results due to the grain issues.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I made 1" wide interfacing pieces (that I fused to the lining) for all neckline and armholes to stabilize the fabric and prevent stretching. I like this approach better than their method which doesn't stabilize the armsyces.

I didn't pay close enough attention when I traced this pattern, so I didn't notice that the front bodice lining isn't a full lining piece, but a partial with a neckline facing. I figured this out when sewing the lining in, and everything wasn't matching up! I just ended up cutting the facing and sewing it to the lining rather than cutting a whole new one piece bodice lining.

I swapped the skirt for a variation on my TNT. I was concerned the pleats on the original would result in too much poofiness over the tummy. My TNT skirt actually has a CB seam, but I wanted to eliminate this since the back bodice is princess seamed. It's pretty close to the original TNT but with slightly less shaping.

This skirt is different than what's typically provided with patterns, as it is slightly bell/tulip shaped and has very small and shallow front darts. Often the conventional skirts make me look like a barrel because they have too much tummy and hip ease. If I don't define the hip curve, my waistline disappears.

When lining up my TNT with the bodice to match the pleats/seams, I noticed the bodice waist measurement was a little large, so I was able to adjust this before cutting.

I had to add a couple of small darts to the front bodice into the waist seem and deepen the skirt darts slightly because it was just a bit sloppy at the waist. I also took the back neckline a touch, but it still gapes unless the bodice is sitting at a very precise angle. It looks like the back neckline is stretched out, but it was stabilized with interfacing so I think it just needs to be adjusted. This dress is also slightly long in the bodice for me, but I didn't care enough to take it apart.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Meh. Maybe. Maybe not. It's ok, but I don't love it. If I make it again, I'll have to make a few additional changes to the pattern.

Conclusion:
I wanted to sew this in a really vibrant duipioni for my husband's cousin's wedding, but wasn't sure if the one shoulder design would work with my body. I wanted to make a more casual version first to test the look since diagonal lines typically increase you in both height and width. I'm only 5'5" (ok 5'4 1/4" but I'm an optimist) so heigth is good, but with one shoulder, I'm drawing that diagonal line at my absolute widest part (my massive shoulders and ribs) so you can see why I was concerned with the width issue. By taking it in a bit at the waist and narrowing the bottom of the skirt, this helps to define the curve of my lower body and makes the dress much more flattering for me. Still not sure the one shoulder design is the best for my broad shoulders though.




Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Look 6457

I love New Look patterns.  I think it's partially their great everyday price and that they put all sizes in one envelope.  That said, I wish all pattern companies would do a little better.  New Look seems to be geared more for a basic sewer and takes a few shortcuts in construction.  They rarely include a full lining and rely too heavily on facings for my liking.  It's not a big deal in most cases to draft a simple lining, but for more complex or pleated necklines, this is not my strength.  My wish is that all pattern companies would offer you the OPTION of a lining.  Include facings and instructions for bias tape for unlined versions, but also offer lining pieces.  Sometimes the lining offers a unique opportunity for a different garment altogether with its alternate darts.  I like this as added construction option.  Pattern companies, I hope you're reading this!!

Now on to the dress I made with New Look 6457.  I've had this pattern in my stash forever, but just got around to making it.  Drafting is not something I'm good at or enjoy, so I'm somewhat of a pattern hoarder.  So is my mother, so it's obviously hereditary.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  I was impressed when I noticed that several of the bodices feature an all machine clean finish. Great job NL! Slipstitching stinks

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
With so many bodice options and the great price, this is a lot of pattern for your money.  I don't think it would have killed them to include one straight skirt option though... just saying

Fabric Used:
Poly cotton blend seersucker, lined with really high thread count (heehee ;) white cotton

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I swapped the gathered skirt for the slim fit straight skirt I developed for the 1950's dress. It's become my TNT skirt due to it's shaping. It's more bell/tulip shaped than a conventional skirt pattern which helps emphasize my shape. I have narrow hips and sometimes look like a barrel in normal skirts! Apparently I don't know how to measure (or shouldn't do so after 11PM) because when I stitched together the lining as a semi-muslin, the skirt darts did not line up with the bodice darts and had to be scooted over. No biggie




I cut 1 inch wide interfacing that I fused to the lining on the front and back neckline edges just to prevent it from stretching over time. I didn't self line the bodice, so I self lined the halter ends so they wouldn't look weird when tied.

I also added purchased piped trim to the neckline and waist seam. It was my first time not making the stuff! Too bad they don't offer a million more colors and fabrics, cause purchasing it is so much faster.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
This pattern has so many bodice options and it's very easy to swap skirts for lots of sewing opportunities.  On my semi-muslin the bodice fit seemed fine, but when I wore this I noticed it's a touch roomy at the top bodice edge.  If I make another version, I'll probably taper it in 1/4 inch at the underarm for a slightly snugger fit.

Conclusion:
I wanted something cute and comfy for summer that was nicer than wearing shorts. This fabric shouldn't wrinkle much so it will be quick and easy to grab for casual dinners out or nicer BBQs.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Dress for a wedding... the saga continues

When I planned this project, I had no idea how big of a PITA it would be!  I was very confident that Vogue 9668 view C would be flattering to my figure type (inverted triangle).  It seemed simple enough to showcase my fabric, complex enough to not be boring, and classic enough for a family wedding.  I've never had so much trouble with a pattern!  I'm normally a straight 10 bodice and all of my alterations are the waist and below (to account for very narrow hips).  I'm even a standard B cup.  The only change I make is a very smaller cheater version of a broad back adjustment, by sewing the center back seam with 3/8 inch seam allowance instead of 5/8.  That's it!  That's all I normally do for bodices, and you can see from my pictures, that fit is normally pretty good.



This pattern called for a redo of every single piece.  The back neckline gaped and required me to take out a wedge, the midriff was ever so slightly too long and tight in the waist (normally I take the waist in to a 9, not let it out), the back midriff had to be re-contoured as it was riding up at the lower edge, the front bodice had major bullet boob thanks to that large dart, and the skirt was a disaster.  It was poofy in all the wrong places.  It had weird ease in the lower back (above my butt) and really puffy in the tummy area.  My husband commented that I could easily be 3 months pregnant and still wear it...

I made at least 2 muslins, which I NEVER do, and then even decided to create a version in cheaper fabric before cutting my silk.  Not that the silk was very expensive, but since everyone knows I'm making the dress, I wanted it to be perfect.  I hate when people know I sewed something because then I'm never sure if the compliment is based on the dress itself or if they're just surprised I can actually sew something that doesn't look like a dress an Amish girl would wear to feed the chickens.



I just don't love it though... While the fit is technically OK, I just don't think it's very flattering, or as flattering as I would like it to be.  The midriff proportions seem off.  I'm only 5' 4 1/4" and it seems like too much, but I don't know how to reduce it without messing up the boobs.  Speaking of  the boobs, they aren't quite right either and I'm not sure how to fix them.  I'm sure it's my fault since I converted the dart to a princess seam, but I didn't change the position or volume.

This dress has to be ready for next weekend and I happen to work for a living...  So this past weekend I went balls to the wall and lived in my sewing room.  I thought they would have to send in a search party.

I've always loved the Burda Starburst dress and thought it would be lovely made in my olive green dupioni.  The muslin was a total and complete disaster though.  The starburst pleats complicate the alterations.  Given enough time, I think it may be fixable, but I don't have that kind of time for this project.




So on to plan B.  I've always loved New Look 6401 that I bought many years ago as a starting point for the wedding dress that I didn't have time to make..  Anyway, here's the line drawing



I had planned to make it knee length and maybe add some ruching on the front and back bodice for texture and to sort of disguise the gathers.  I made my usual size 10 and the thing was HUGE.  I probably need a 6 in the bodice alone!  FYI the pattern only goes down to an 8 and I just don't have time to deal with it... Another wadder muslin.

So in a fit of desperation, I did something crazy.  I pulled out a pattern that I've never used and cut the silk.  I'm insane, especially given all the crap going wrong.  Mazzygir on PR did a review on bodice A and eliminated the waist overlay and full skirt.


She used a beautiful turquoise silk dupioni that's a bit shinier than mine (mine is handmade and a bit nubbier).  I thought her dress was lovely and flattering.  Just when you think I couldn't be any dumber for cutting something given my current luck, I have to be honest and say that I further complicated the issue by eliminating the midriff and merging it with a fitted skirt... Cross your fingers and pray for me!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Next big project- dress for family wedding!

My sister-in-law is getting married in August, and since I have the time right now, I'm planning to make a special dress.  I had several patterns that I was tossing around, so I polled the ladies on Pattern Review and OOP Vogue 9668 view C was the overwhelming winner.  I didn't actually buy this pattern while it was in print but found it through some amazing reviews on PR.  I had to have it!  So I stalked it online to Ebay (of course) and made it mine!




I've always loved silk dupioni and planned to make this one in a green, and one of the ladies on PR recommended Silk Baron.  I am delighted with their products and service.  Initially I ordered samples in Brentwood and Tuscan Olive.  A representative from the company contacted me to let me know that they only had one yard of Brentwood, just in case that was the fabric I choose to order yardage.  Talk about service!  Most places would just wait until you order and then inform you that it was no longer in available.  When the samples arrived, I was in love!  The quality and prices are great, and I challenge you not to drool all over your computer monitor at the gorgeous colors.  With orders, you also get three additional swatches of your choice, so it may be a challenge not to create a whole wardrobe in their silks.

I made a variation on this dress before (currently a UFO) and the fit was terrible in the bodice.  I'm almost a perfect 10 bodice straight from the envelope, so this was quite unusual.  This dress definitely requires a muslin because the deep front and back are potential disasters of gaping and wardrobe malfunctions if not fitted properly.  Those bust darts are deep (which will be evident when I finish that UFO) which creates a major bullet boob.  For the dupioni, I'm going to muslin this one and change to a princess seam in the front, so that I don't blind any children.  I'm also considering eliminating the center back seam and moving the zipper to the side.  Let me know what you think and  stay tuned as I begin the construction process!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sewing with Saris

For those of you who follow me on sewing.patternreview.com, I've posted the following information within various reviews.  I thought it would be nice to include it in a blog entry though, so that it would be easier to find for those seeking the information.

A sari is the garment worn by Indian women that is wrapped and draped. Most are 42-45" wide and they vary in length so check item descriptions.



I buy a lot of vintage saris, mostly from Ebay, because the fabrics are just so unusual and colorful. I love using vintage too because it's like the fabric has already led one life, and I get to reclaim it and use for something completely new! Anyone who has read a few of my reviews can confirm my obsession. Below is information on the basics and how I treat them. DO NOT CONSIDER THIS EXPERT ADVICE; this is just how I proceed.

*Common fabrics are silk, "art" (artificial) silk, or cotton

*For most saris the fabric is very thin (silk chiffon to silk habotai texture) so plan on lining or underlining

*Most saris have a drape portion on one end that is 30-36" of contrasting/coordinating print. This gives you lots of interesting options for bodices, midriffs, hems, or contrast piping.

*Most saris have borders prints on the lengthwise grains. Sometimes both borders are the same, other times one is more elaborate than the other. This gives great options for hems, waistbands, necklines, etc.

*Saris vary in quality, so the cheaper ones often have off grain.  Silk is no guarantee of quality

*I machine wash and dry all mine before beginning. Vintage ones often arrive with an odor, but it comes out in the wash. I despise dry cleaning, both for the expense and inconvenience, so nearly all garments I sew are machine washable. Silk is much more durable than we often give it credit for, and I now wear silk more for daily garments and not just special occasions.

*If purchasing vintage saris, don't depend on using the entire yardage.  They often have undisclosed damage or stains that you'll need to work around.

*Be careful about using pre-treatments or color boosters.  I'm not sure what they use to dye the fabrics, but these chemicals can have interactions that change your fabric color

just a few of my many saris

*A gelatin soak can increase the fabric body and make it easier to handle during construction.  Use 3 tsp gelatin to 3 liters of water (one package of gelatin is about 2 tsp) and soak the fabric for 1 hour before air drying. I confess that I make a huge batch of the gelatin and spend a day prepping multiple pieces. I also confess that I don't fully air dry; when I get bored, I toss them into the dryer on "no heat" then change to delicate.  I haven't noticed any problems with ironing, even when using steam.  If you pre-wash your silk, the gelatin is easily removed when laundering, returning it to it's original soft texture.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Would this be weird?

I have a shower curtain that is 100% cotton and I love the print.  It is fairly large though and I wonder if it would be weird to make it into a dress?