Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Black Floral Butterick 6450

This dress was on my list of plans for November, and I am delighted that I managed to finish it! I love this black floral rayon twill that I picked up recently. It's fairly lightweight but I thought that with some tights and a sweater I might be able to wear it past fall into winter as well -- since we've had winter appear already quite decidedly. 

I have been going through my fabric and pattern stashes lately trying to match up possibilities. I have far too much fabric right now so am trying to make as much of it up into useful garments as possible! This one jumped out at me as a great match so I went with it. 

This is rated as an easy pattern, and it is. There are no bodice darts -- rather, it's gathered at centre front neckline and at the waistline as well. There are simple shapes and pieces, though the neck binding could be a little fiddly if you've never done it before. 

Neckline gathering is a little lost in this print but it's a great feature!

The waist seam is elasticated, although there is also a zipper in the back. There needs to be to get this over your head, since the neckline is quite high and fitted. And the skirt is cut in four pieces, with a centre front and back seam, so hanging it to let the bias relax before hemming is a must. 

The flaw in this pattern is definitely that there are no pockets included. It's a full enough skirt to put some pockets in without concern, so I used my basic pocket pattern and added side seam pockets. I usually make the opening about 4" below the waist but you can measure and see where you prefer your pockets to sit, and then just stitch them in at that level.

I made View B, the blue version. The photo image doesn't do this pattern any favours -- it fits the model poorly and somehow looks baggy and too tight at the same time. I'm not sure how this pattern could be easily adjusted for a larger than B cup; I don't have to make FBAs so don't quite know how you'd do it in a gathered bodice like this one. Maybe that would fix the fit issue with this model. 

In any case, I shortened the bodice by an inch, and also shortened the sleeve by and inch & a half. I think I could have left that extra half inch in the sleeve, as I didn't account for the blousing. But I like the look and think it's a cute dress. I probably would have added an inch to the length if I'd had enough fabric, but as it is I used up most of my yardage with this dress. 

I like the wintery colours of this dress -- somehow it looks quite holidayish :) Though the fabric is lighter weight than fully winterized, accessories will help out there. And it's so soft and swishy to wear! I really do like the easy process behind this cute design. And I really liked the details of the gathered neckline and the adorable shape of this sleeve.

This one is both cute and comfy, and I adore the fabric. One nice note about it is that is a rayon twill, manufacturer name of "Lana". Since that is my sister's name, I feel even cozier wearing this and thinking of her :) So glad I had time to work on this dress this week and wear it on a day that is milder than the last few!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Weekend Review: Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book

Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book / Gretchen Hirsch
NY: Abrams, c2016.
236 p.
Another mix-n-match sewing book! These were really popular a few years ago -- all the titles I've reviewed this month are a couple of years old and seemed to appear around the same time.

This one is by Gretchen Hirsch and falls thoroughly into her aesthetic of vintage fashion. It's all dresses (right up my alley) and the mix and match aspect comes from the way that all 23 dresses are designed to work together. She explains that the shapes and the ease of the patterns are all drafted to be able to switch bits around and still have the patterns work together. Honestly, in this book, I like so many of the designs that I imagine switching things around would mean I would take forever over these patterns! 

The back cover provides a good overview of a strapless evening style, a pink fitted day dress, and a casual fit and flare day dress. This shows the range of the styles in this book.

There are a lot of variations in the book, and if you're into the more fitted vintage looks you'll do well. This peplum dress with the large neck bow is quite charming -- I can see this being suitable for work, depending on where you work, or broken into two pieces and the top worn more casually.

This dress, on the other hand, just screams day in the sun. Can you see this one on a picnic, or a vintage-inspired stroll through caf├ęs and shops?

Honestly, though, these two are among my favourites in the book. The plaid one because I just love the fabric and the print matching! And that cute collar. I do like a bottom-of-the-knee hem as well.

And this one because I love the colour, the shape, the neckline, the little bow at the neckline -- well, just everything about it. If I only trace one pattern from this book, this is the one for me. 

It's a very visually inspiring book, as you might have noticed thus far. But it's also pretty full of useful info. The interior pages have charming illustrations, like in Gertie's other books, and there is a lot of really helpful detail given on vintage construction techniques, fabric choices, and so forth in the first half of the book. Honestly, for a newer sewist interested in vintage styles, just this part would be worth buying the book for, even without the great patterns that follow. 

The sizing runs from 2 -16, or 32" to 46" bust and 36" to 50" hip. There are four pattern sheets in the back with all the elements to put together to make the various styles.

Now, I haven't yet made a dress from the book, but have heard that there were some issues with the sizing of the patterns, so do be careful to measure the flat pattern before you start anything. I'll report back when I get one made. But as an engaging book full of 23 different dresses to look at and imagine making, I enjoy this one! 

Dresses are really my wheelhouse so I have a fondness for all three of the dress pattern books I've shared this month. Do you have a favourite? Is there another title that I just must find? Share any tips! 

Friday, November 15, 2019

A Floral Top for the Literary Sewing Circle

Today is the last day for posting your project in this round of the Literary Sewing Circle! I finished one more item that I'm including as a sewalong project, since the print reminds me so much of Japanese florals.

I'm repeating another pattern, the Burda Swing Top (115-11-18) that I recently tested out in a stretchy black polka dot knit. I really liked the outcome of my first test so remade it in this stretch lace. Of course, because it's a lace I also had to make a shell to go under it (the Sorbetto) in an appropriately rust-toned stash fabric.

I adjusted the pattern for this top slightly from my first attempt. I moved the shoulder gathers out toward the shoulder seam by about 1/2" on each side, as I found them too close to the neckline in the original version. I added 3" to the length of the pattern when I traced it, but this time I wanted it a tiny bit shorter so didn't add any hem allowance when I cut it out. But I didn't account for the weight of the original black knit as opposed to the lightweight nature of this lace, so it is a bit shorter even than I had planned -- this lace does not pull down on itself at all. It's still a good length, but the difference in fabric is something you might want to keep in mind if you try this out yourself.

I'm wearing it with a bright skirt (Vogue 1247) which I also made for this outfit, from the remnants of an earlier Burda dress. I thought this skirt would pick up the blue/green tones in the floral print of the top.

I also had the perfect thrifted necklace to go with this outfit. Love when that happens - not only is the colour right but the beads are very smooth and won't snag this lace!

This was a pretty simple project, since I'd just made a tester version. There weren't many changes to this pattern other than small adjustments to suit my preferences. With the slightly lesser stretch to this lace though, I could have made the lower sleeve just a smidge larger. But I do love how the motifs did match up at the cuff ends!

This is an unusual outfit for me, made up of three items that are all repeats of patterns I've made before. I don't repeat many patterns, mainly because I have a huge pattern stash and just want to try them all -- but when something works, it's worth making again. I'm going to try to get more use from my patterns by reusing the ones I really like, and this is a good start.

I hope you will be sharing a Literary Sewing Circle project this time, but if not -- you are still welcome to go back and read all the posts and comment on them if you decide to read our title in future. I've enjoyed my two projects this time, and look forward to the next round of the Literary Sewing Circle that will begin in early 2020.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Repeating Patterns: A Skirt & A Sorbetto

Over the last week I've been working on an outfit consisting of multiple patterns I've made before. My recent Burda Swing Top (#115 11/18) was so much fun to make that I wanted to repeat it in the fancier fabric I had in mind for it all along -- but in order to do that, I'd have to make a couple of pieces that would match the fabric, both in colour and style.

I wanted a straight skirt and a shell to wear under the top, since the fancy fabric for that is a lace.

I went with the infamous Rachel Comey Vogue 1247, which I have made once before. This time I also used leftover fabric from my recently made Burda 6381. This boucle-like fabric is so pretty I wanted to use it up -- and it did use every last bit of it to cut out this skirt. Of course, I did add 6 inches to the length of the skirt as it is notoriously mini!

I had to adjust the sizing somewhat; since I still have my first one I was able to assess it to see how to adapt the fit. I cut it at 18 (the largest size in my pattern) and added about 1/4" at each side by the yoke seams to give myself more hip room. I also shortened the darts by 1/2" each. It's all done except for the skirt hook & eye as I couldn't find the one I thought I had ready for it -- I'm just going to unpick one from an old skirt I haven't worn and reuse it.

I decided to line it, as this fabric really needs a lining. I cut an interior shell with no horizontal seams by overlaying the pattern pieces, and instead of darts, sewed tucks into the lining. Then I basted the lining to the top of the skirt before sewing on the waistband. I also used the lining material for the extra pocket piece to reduce the bulk of the pockets.

My dress form is a little thinner than I am, since I haven't padded her up yet, but even though the skirt looks loose on her, it is a perfect fit for me! I am really happy with it.

Now on to the top -- it's my old stalwart, the Sorbetto by Colette Patterns. I needed a sleeveless shell for this purpose so this is the first sleeveless make in all my Sorbetto variations.

I had the perfect shiny poly in my stash that I'd planned on using for the back of a waistcoat which never got made -- so grabbed it for this. There was *just* enough to fit a sleeveless Sorbetto in. I used French seams to reduce fraying and instead of sewing down the box pleat I sewed an inverted pleat down about 2.5" from the neckline.

The released box pleat on the inside looks so nice I might use that option on the outside of the next Sorbetto I make!

While I won't wear these two alone like this as an outfit (I don't wear sleeveless tops like this usually) I will wear them with the top they are made to support. Which should be shared here soon!

I can wear a lot in my wardrobe with this skirt. I also think I could wear this shiny Sorbetto under a cardigan or blazer in future. I enjoyed trying new versions of these patterns I've made before -- the fit on both of them is much better than previous iterations.  Having these standards in the stash means that when I want a particular shape I can rely on these kinds of patterns. And I got to use up more stash fabric! A win all around.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Weekend Review: Boundless Style

London: Fons & Porter, c2015.
176 p.
This week it's another mix-and-match pattern book. Boundless Style is a book of interchangeable skirts, bodices & sleeves designed by Kristiann Boos of Victory Patterns, a Canadian company. 

There are 5 distinct designs for bodices, skirts and sleeves in turn. There are also suggestions on how to turn a bodice into a blouse, sometimes with peplum. The cover image shows the most unusual bodice as well as the most unusual sleeve, which has an inverted box pleat running from shoulder to elbow. If you are looking for a bit of a different style for your dress wardrobe, this book might be a good bet.

The photographs here are gorgeous; all styled images with forest, lakes and flowers as beautiful backgrounds. They feel quite moody, with mists and brick walls featuring as well. The models are all young and thin, suitable for the sizing, I guess. Size range runs from 2 - 16, or a 33-44.5" bust and 35-46.5" hip.

The book includes information at the beginning on choosing your size, preparing your pattern, basic dress construction like seams, zippers etc. For a beginner this will be helpful but most sewists interested in a book like this will probably be comfortable with these basics already.

Unlike the previous book of this kind that I reviewed last week, there are no pattern hacking elements to this one beyond the mix-and-match styles. She does mention adding elements like ties and collars to change things up, and the style lines of many of the bodices also encourage some colour blocking.

I don't think that this is necessarily an essential book for the sewing room, but if you're looking for some unusual patterns and you love dresses, it might be a good addition. I found that the sleeve section was the most interesting for me, as she has a couple of features (like the pleated sleeve) that I haven't really seen in many of my patterns so far. There are some intriguing ideas to use in future makes. 

One neat thing about this book is the addition of an online "lookbook" where you can test out different combinations to see what bodice/skirt/sleeve option you might want to mash up. It is really quite helpful! And fun to play with ;)

If you like Victory Patterns' aesthetic, this book will be just the thing for you. The sizing and the specific patterns included do limit its general usefulness somewhat, but as a dress lover, I find it lovely to look through even if I haven't tried anything yet.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Scrappy Desk Bunting!

What do you do with all your teeny tiny scraps? Not the ones big enough to make pocket bags or bias binding from, but the itty bitty ones that generally go into the textile recycling bag?

I don't like to waste anything at all, and thought that there must be a use for these bits, aside from doll house furnishings or the classic confetti fabric. I also like to go thrifting a lot and one of the things I often find is old packages of bias binding. These merged into the idea for some Scrappy Desk Bunting! Cheer up your office with your sewing scraps :)

I have been thinking about this little project for a while, and finally gave it a go using a pile of my tiny scraps from this year's sewing so far. 

I used a length of narrow bias binding and freely cut triangles of an appropriate size -- about 1/2" wide on the top of the triangle. I cut pieces of mostly cottons with pinking shears to reduce any fraying.

I laid them out along my length of bias binding to test the colour balance, then stacked up the bunting bits in that order to prep for sewing.

A bright mix

A more muted colour palette
The process is actually quite easy. I turned the ends of my binding under inside the fold, and then started stitching in a matching colour. The only issue is that it's hard to get started neatly -- be sure to hold your thread tails firmly behind your first stitch so that the stitching 'catches' and your binding doesn't get all knotted down into the feed dogs.

Leave yourself about 1.5 inches of stitched together bias on each end to allow room for pins to hold it up. Then start tucking in your triangles two at a time - make sure they're tucked right up to the top of the fold and stitch along the bias tape, closer to the open edge. This works better if you sew a bit more slowly than usual. If you notice that you've missed the edge of one once you are done, just unpick above that triangle and resew. It's very forgiving! This does work most smoothly if you ensure that the top edge of your mini triangles are even - there's not much room for variation inside that teeny fold.

Then just keep sewing! I found that the optimal length of a mini bunting equals 25 triangles, with a little breathing space between each one, plus that extra length at each end to facilitate hanging them up.

These can be any colour you like -- multicolour scraps with bright bias binding (my obvious preference) or all one colour, or even all one fabric.

You might want to make a holiday themed Mini Bunting with bits of red and green, or silver and gold. It all depends on your supplies -- what little scraps do you have lying around? And which colour of binding is handy? If you make your own bias binding, you'll have a double scrapbuster of a project. 

This is a fun way to use up tiny scraps, and it's a pretty quick project too. I made three in quick succession. I can envision a variety of colours to add seasonal cheer to one's desk all year long! Tucked inside a birthday or celebration card, this would add that little something extra to someone's day. So many ways to sew up our tiny scraps and keep them in use :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

November Sewing Plans

I had a good sewing month in October, even though I didn't really sit down to make any solid plans. I had a couple of projects I knew I wanted to work on so just focused on those.

But I don't have those ideas driving me this month, so I'm back to making some plans!

With the holidays coming up, I know some of my sewing time is going to be taken up with other projects, sewing or otherwise, so I'm trying to be realistic about how much I might be able to get done before the end of the year.

This is what I'm aiming at:

This Butterick 6450 that I recently bought in a pattern sale matches up with this lovely black floral rayon twill. I hope to get this one done first! I'm aiming for View B (the blue one).

I want to use up the remainder of the blue boucle I used for my Burda dress in October, using this Rachel Comey skirt (I have to add 6" to the length of this mini though!)

And I'd like to make another Vogue 9022 in this dark red ponte - it will be great for dreary November days. I really loved the first version of this that I made a few years ago so time for a refresh of this pattern!

Upon looking through the stash in preparation for all these plans, I find that I have a pile of fun knits, all between 1.5 and 2 m. I'm not sure what to make with them yet, but am looking through some top patterns and also thinking about some simple dress patterns. Suggestions welcome!

How about you? How's your fall sewing shaping up? Are you planning on doing a lot of sewing for yourself in the next months or do you focus more on sewing for others at this time of year? I don't do a lot of sewing for others; when I do it is usually fabric based gifts that aren't clothing :) Whatever you choose, I hope that the remainder of your 2019 sewing brings you joy!