Tuesday, March 24, 2015

February calendar dress - the bimbo

My February calendar is finally given a public viewing!  I'm calling February the "Bimbo".  Burda 09/2014 122 is attractive, but  essentially stupid.

The balanced ledger looks like this.  Credits: great flounced inset at the front and a longer hemline at the back; interesting design lines that shape the bust and waistlines beautifully; a blank canvas for jewellery.  Debits: flawed drafting of the armscye that left just enough room for a twig prior to adjustment- note the photo of the model!!; poor fabric choice - the synthetic crepe wrinkles badly when sitting and needs a great deal of ironing even after drip drying.  Not a practical dress by any measure.

I won't be making this dress again, but if I did I'd consider underlining for more stability on the curved seams.  I'd also shorten it - I was a little fazed by the different pattern pieces that required adjustment and left it as it was.  Mid calf is elegant but the shorter magazine version is funkier.

On the other hand, March is almost done and I am over the moon with the result.  Pictures as soon as the hems are completed.

Meanwhile, happy sewing!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

David Jones logo top

Despite looking distinctively like the Australian retailer David Jones's signature logo, my version of Burda 12-2014-105 is a definite winner for  summer business wear.  

I made a size 40 with no alterations, beyond adding the faux leather shoulder inset to break up the fabric and taking in the sleeves...by a lot!  I should have been vary about the sleeves after looking at how limply they hung on the Burda model.  Even for my solid arms, they are massive.  I shaved about about 1 inch from each side of the two piece sleeve.  

If you are altering the sleeves, try to maintain the existing sleeve head as they slot into the arm hole without a lot of easing.

This pattern is the prototype for my March calendar dress.  Where is my February dress I hear you ask?  February was indeed finished on 28 February, but despite two wearings has not been photographed.  My daughter has PROMISED to be around when it has its next outing on Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Calendar dresses - Meet January

I do wish I'd purchased a tripod on the weekend so you could see a photo of my new dress on. 

My one sewing goal for 2015 is to make a calendar of dresses, one for each month appropriate to the season. Its a stretch assignment, but involves no stretch fabrics.  My self-imposed rules are: 1) Each pattern must be unique; 2) Woven fabrics only; 3) The design should be suitable for a number of purposes; and 4) the pattern must have some complexity - simple shift dresses will not pass.

So meet January. I've been thinking about January since the beginning of Spring when suddenly Sydney shop windows were filled with pretty floral dresses.  My floral is a cotton sateen print from Lincraft. I've trimmed with the black cotton drill that my husband rescued from someone's castaways.

January is built from Burda Style 103 from May 2014.  The design is a 'tall' pattern, something that might be a deterrent when you are only 5'2'' or 156 cms.  However, being rather long in the torso, (my shortness coming from lack of legs) the only adjustments needed were to raise the plunging neckline by at least 2 inches; dart in the raglan sleeve line and shorten the hemline by 3 inches.  The pattern calls for an invisible zip in the back seam.  Let me tell you this is really hard to do with the extra layers of black fabric and the precision required.  After two attempts that were less than pleasing I gave up and placed the zip in the underarm seam.  This worked a treat and is easier to get on and off.  All my zips will go into the side seam from now on.

I'm ecstatic about the fit and feel of January.  Happy sewing while I trace off February!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sewing better, sewing faster

I think 2015 will be a good sewing year. Off to a flying start with an Islander Sewing System jacket in white denim.

This pattern is available through Janet Prey's Sew Better, Sew Faster course on the Craftsy.com platform.  Even with all the tricky top stitching it is very fast to put together.  I made it in about 3 hours over a few days.  The instructions for this pattern are brilliant - especially the no fail explanation for the welt pocket.

Collette at Tessuti helped me choose these unusual Italian pewter buttons.  They are fractionally larger than I'd like, but I really like the jean-like look without being too casual. Because the layers are quite thick, I will have the button holes professionally done by Mick at the Quick Buttonhole Service in Redfern.

I'm not sure what I'm sewing next - I have selected patterns for four lovely pieces of cloth from my stash.  Who knows, I might even draw lots.  Meanwhile, happy sewing!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Retro swirl

Firstly thank you for the lovely comments about my silk dress.  They meant a lot to me.

I sewed quite a lot in 2014, but didn't blog much.  The one thing that will drive me away from blogging is the lack of a tripod or a willing photographer!!  I do like this dress a lot more than the look on my face suggests.

It is a trial run of Simplicity 1651.  I've used a pretty floral print crepe bought from my favourite fabric charity The Fabric Cave.  I had enough left over to make a mini skirt for my daughter who refuses to take or pose for blog photos.

I'm still deciding which piece of fabric for the final version and need to make a few minor adjustments to the bodice. There is not enough yardage in any of the pieces being considered to make the full skirt, so I may blend my self drafted pencil skirt rather than the gathered slimline skirt from the pattern.  I also plan to make up the half circle skirt from this pattern as a winter skirt. It fits and feels so good.

Now let me swirl around one more time!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Dress, memory

In showing you this dress, I am reminded of Lorelei Vashti's coming of age memoir Dress, memory. It recounts the dresses worn for significant events over a decade, every dress with a memory stitched into it of the events and people involved.

This dress was made for a happy occasion, my niece's wedding.  However, etched into its stitches are both happiness and sadness.  Tragically, my much loved brother-in-law passed away the night before the wedding.  He had been gravely ill for three years.  In Jewish tradition, the wedding went ahead and was a beautiful celebration of his life and the positive hopes for the future for his daughter and new son-in-law.

The dress is also a reminder of the wonderful holiday I had in Italy with my daughter.  The silk panels were bought for many Euros in Rome.  

I've used Burda Style 9/2012 134 - A Matthew Williamson design.  The only change I made was to raise the v-shaped back as the original was not bra friendly.

While I've employed couture techniques, including silk organza underlining and hand stitched bemberg rayon lining, I'm not sure I can bear to wear it again. 
It will hang in the back of my closet, and every now and again I'll touch it and remember my brother-in-law and close friend.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Remember the Burda Book?

Yes that's right The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook copyright 2011!  The one you all bought and dutifully sewed lovely things from straight away.  Well I guess I'm not an early adopter.  While mine took a little longer to come to fruition I am really happy with this top.

I cut a size 38 and made a 2 cm full bust adjustment.  The only other change I made to the original design was to self face the upper front as I was working with a very sheer silk chiffon.  This gave the top of the garment more opacity and structure where it is needed.  BurdaStyle include an invisible zip in the side seam of the garment, which I omitted.  With the combination of elastic and drawstring at the waist the zip is not needed.  

One of the lovely things about it is that the fabric was a freebie from a Sydney Sewing meetup swap session. I've given the silk chiffon the respect it deserves with French seams and a satin bound sleeve head and self faced finishes - creating a very neat finish inside and out.  I don't know who it came from originally but I am extremely grateful for their good taste. 

While I have too many patterns and ideas to give too much thought to making another one, the bodice is a great starting point for drafting everything from camis to kaftans.  That was the essence of the Sewing Handbook idea after all.

I haven't been in Sydney all summer for a while now and have lost a bit of weight.  I am very conscious of having NOTHING TO WEAR as the heat approaches.  My three top priorities: a new swimsuit (Bombshell pattern and Tigerlily print lycra at the ready); shorts and light trousers (self drafting and Wyomee Boyfriend jeans pattern to try) and dresses for my niece's wedding in December. 

My daughter is still thinking about whether I'm making her dress for another wedding in Bali - pending arrival of an ebay purchase I think!