Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sophia Doubleknit fabric review and a wadder

Anybody remember waaaaayyyyy back in January when I made this winter white double knit dress and wrote that the fabric was Sophia Doubleknit from I then went on to write that it seemed exactly like the Ponteroma knit at Hancock's which can be bought at a cheaper price. Well, turns out I was mistaken about that fabric, (I knew I had bought some, just forgot which pattern I paired it with) because I just used the winter white Sophia Doubleknit for Vogue 1087, with unsuccessful results. Observe (and please excuse the poor lighting):
Looks pretty nice, right? I had only a few more steps to do but unfortunately won't be finishing. Because of the construction process and all of those draping elements, it cannot be tried on until after it's mostly completed. Check out the back:
The back of the skirt looks painted on - not a look I prefer. This Sophia Doubleknit is some really nice stuff. It's slightly thicker then the Ponteroma, which I do like for structured garments. The one big difference is that while the Sophia is a knit, it behaves like a woven as far as ease is concerned. In a Ponteroma knit this same size wouldn't be so tight, and the negative ease would look well fitted instead. A fitted jacket would be perfect for the Sophia, since it retains its shape so well. Hmmm, that might just be a great look for fall.

I just placed an order for 2 yards of navy Sophia doubleknit this morning, to remake the dress in a larger size. I love the pattern, and really want to add it to my wardrobe. I am bummed this dress wasn't better fitting, and I did like it in winter white like the pattern envelope, but honestly, how many winter white doubleknit dresses does one girl need?

Friday, July 29, 2011

August Burda picks

In answer to a few commenters from my last shorts post, yes, that was a Burda magazine pattern. Whenever you see me write Burda with a string of numbers behind it, the first number stands for the month, the second the year, and the third number is the pattern number in that specific magazine. So Burda 06-2011-111 is pattern #111 from the June 2011 issue. I had several questions about that and wanted to clear up any confusion.

This is my last magazine unless I renew my subscription, which I'm not planning to do anytime soon. Those white shorts I just made were my first use of the magazine this year, and I don't feel like I'm using it enough to warrant the cost. Plus the designs just aren't that innovative lately. There seem to be lots of repeats. I still LOVE the magazine, but will be taking a little break from it for awhile.

Jacket 101 I really like. It has interesting design lines and detailing with that double buttoning front,  and y'all know I love topstitching. 
 Jacket 102 is my favorite from this month's designs. What an awesome military look with the shiny brass buttons and red piping. I would love to copy the example and use a navy wool. It's just gorgeous!
A while back I over-did it on the puff sleeve and couldn't get enough of them. Now I'm totally over that design element and don't even want to wear what I've already made. So blouse 107 isn't an obvious choice. But once you look past the puffy sleeves this really is a cute top. It's fitted, has ruffles but no collar so could be worn under a tailored jacket for fall/winter. (Duh, Amanda, see how they've styled it above.) Leaving off the sleeves and finishing the armholes with some bias tape should be easy.
 Skirt 121 is a fun little pencil skirt. And I always love tummy ruching on garments.
I'm really not sure why I'm drawn to dress 125. It's not very practical with that scarf thing around the neck (winter) and short cap sleeves (summer). Plus it's a tall pattern. Maybe I like it because they've made it up in such a fun black and white fabric. I'll probably not make it but do like it.
Okay, dress 126 is super cute! I love the shape of it and the use of two different fabrics. A little bit of camisole showing through adds a nice layering look. I'll be shortening it to the knee.
 Honestly, when I started looking at these patterns previewed on the Russia Burda site, I was a little miffed. How dare they go from hum-drum to interesting for my very last month?! Are the next few magazines going to be awesome now that I've decided not to renew? Then I looked at the September preview in the back and saw that folk-styled designs are back again and thought - Nope! Same old Burda! Now it feels like a really nice send off instead.

Did I miss any of your favorites?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Burda 06-2011-111 - White short shorts

 Thanks to Allison and her upgrading Blogger instructions, I can now do all of the things I've seen on other blogs but couldn't figure out how to do - like super big pictures and crossing out words. Did I happen to mention that it's HOT here? So hot I considered putting off taking pictures of these shorts for a few days. But I was too excited about them so I braved the ensuing perspiration just to bring this post to you.

Holy cow, I haven't made anything from Burda magazine for a really long time! (I'm not mad at them, just have been busy with other patterns.) When I first signed up for a subscription 3 years ago, I had heard that their pants designs were the most like RTW, and I was really excited to try a pair. And then I chickened out got side tracked. Making pants and shorts is daunting to me because every time I've tried it something was off: the rear was wrinkled, the inseam too far towards the back or the waistband sitting too low in the back.

Enter this tunic, which has been unworn and hanging in my closet for over a year. I could not figure out what to wear it with. Not pants, not a skirt, not the mid-thigh white shorts I already own, not capris. It's a problem of proportion. I have a long torso but short legs, and have just discovered that shorts look best on me if they're on the short side - makes me appear taller. But not too short, I do prefer to be modest. And no vertical pockets please, those always jut out and make my hips look bigger. Hmmm, kind of a tall order to find at a department store. I suppose I'll have to break down and make my own.

I know they're kind of hiding under the tunic so here are some close ups for you: 
   Pretty rockin' fit, right? I traced the 38 and added 1/2" to all the side seams. Then I made a muslin. (It's my new thing. Makes sewing so much more fun and I don't waste fabric or rip out seams.) It actually fit without any fiddling. So I guess what I heard about Burda was true, they have well fitting pants and shorts. I left off the pockets - vertical side pockets are not my favorite - and made the view with the darts in front and not pleats. The hemline is somewhere between A and B with a 2.5" inseam.
The fabric is a medium weight cotton purchased recently from For the waistband facing, I used a cotton/poly blend broadcloth fused with interfacing to cut down on bulk. I also discovered that my machine makes a stitch similar to an overlock stitch. I accidentally spilled the remains of my frappachino on these shorts right as I was finishing them up, so they've already been through the washer/dryer and had minimal fraying. I'll be using this newly discovered stitch to finish off garments from now on.
 There's an invisible zipper at the left side:
 I used the same cotton/poly broadcloth to make hemline facings. On the muslin the hem puckered because it was smaller in circumference then the shorts. I was going to flare it out a bit to eliminate the problem but then thought I'd try this method instead in order to reduce bulk through the thighs.
Conclusion: I love them! I think the next pair will have a wee bit smaller leg holes though. This is a fast project. I traced off the pattern, sewed up the muslin, cut out the white fabric and got busy at the machine on Saturday, and only had a bit left to do after church yesterday. Now I'm off to work on my next project, a much-needed black denim pencil skirt. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

McCall's 6039 - Turquoise floral jacket w/ orange piping

When this pattern came out in the spring of last year, it had my name written all over it. I love fitted jackets, interesting construction lines and piping. The fabric is one of those front and back reverse weave cotton/poly jacquards, purchased from JoAnn's. I have several of these types of fabrics and was pleased to have a fun design to make one up in. The orange piping is regular Wright's brand piping bought at any fabric store. I originally wanted a brighter orange, but wasn't willing to go to the effort of making my own with this carrot color readily available.

This pattern is drafted extremely short through the waist. I made a muslin (proud of me?) and had to add 1.5 inches to the lengthen/shorten here line! And I'm short waisted! I also added .75 inches to the now new waistline for a total addition of 3 inches at the waist. I do have a square body but that is way more then what I usually have to add. This is not an easy pattern to make because of all the miles of piping and those super tight square turns in front.

I'm sweating through my camisole in these pictures. Besides the heat wave, this is not something I'll wear during the summer. It looks horrible unclasped so is better suited for cooler weather. I'm thinking early spring with these bright colors. It would also look better with a white skirt, not that I have one at the moment. I really need to make myself some basics.

I love the piped cuffs at the sleeves.

Here's a close-up of the neckline:

The lining is some kind of linen look polyester purchased at Hancock's. I wanted an orange that matched the piping and this is the only one they had. Usually I use something slippery for a lining but this doesn't have to slide on and off over an under layer. Although it does add a bit more bulk then I was anticipating.

I've had the sewing on this jacket completed for a week and have been slowly attaching these silly hooks and eyes. There are 16 of those suckers! First I started out with the larger coat hooks and eyes, but those allowed some skin to show through. Of course I did not notice the gapage until after I had them all sewn down. I am D-O-N-E with making something that needs hooks and eyes for at least 6 months!

I love it - but - won't be making another. One is enough for my closet (and sanity!) The boys have made their yearly pilgrimage to my in-laws and will be gone a week. I am hoping to get a ton of sewing in amongst other non-fun chores (the budget - blah!) More coming soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New fall Vogues!

Oh goody, new patterns to drool over! Vogue's designs are by far my favorite. They are often complicated and challenging, with interesting tucks and drapes and other delicious details. And having a pattern with a high-end designer name is really starting to appeal to me, whereas I never use to care about such things.

This first dress is a Tracy Reese design. I love all the gathers, the interesting bodice, the fun exposed zipper, and the beautiful way the straps attach to the back. If I could rip this very dress right off the envelope and hang it in my closet I'd be one happy lady. I'm not sure why this is a fall pattern, seeing as it's sleeveless and has an exposed back, but I'll take it just the same.
This next dress from Anne Klein is really beautiful in the magazine, but did not photograph well here at all. It is made in a glen plaid fabric and the bodice is tucked in such a way that the bottom is straight grain and up towards the neckline it's on the bias. That little dark spot in the front is actually a cutout, and the collar is bias cut and doubled and stands away slightly from the shoulders. Plus is has sleeves! I cannot wait to see what the pattern pieces look like.


Here's a picture of the drawing so you can see what an interesting neckline it has:

I can't decide what I think of this next dress from Badgley Mischka. The color is gorgeous, and I don't know if I'm drawn in by that or by the design. It's for a knit, so I'm guessing they left the front ruffle unhemmed. Finding the right jewels to add to the waist might be hard, and I'm wondering if they give you any instructions for making that part. Anyway, I'm still undecided about it, but I find the design unique and interesting.


This top and skirt combo from Donna Karan took my breath away when I first saw it on the cover. I am already thinking of a maroon knit in my stash slated for another dress that could be reassigned to this pattern. I LOVE it. The only thing I'd do differently is raise the hemline of the skirt a few inches, but that's just personal preference.


These asymmetrical hemline tops have been around for awhile now, and I've never been tempted by them. However, I saw a lady wearing one the other day and it was so cute and flattering on her. This pattern adds in some fun details - exposed seaming and raw edge finishing. This view has raglan sleeves and a really pretty neckline. I like it. It's effortless style and perfect for a mom-on-the-go.


Finally there's this simple knit dress with ruching along the sides of the center panel. The back has princess seaming as well with a little zipper just at the neckline. It's for a knit and has sleeves. (I'm a big fan of sleeved dresses in the fall and winter, in case you don't know.) It's pretty and easy to just throw on with some boots and look put together.

So those are my picks. I would have enjoyed seeing an intricate jacket pattern and some separates with more details, but these are gorgeous designs and I'm not complaining!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Invisible zipper tutorial

I'm sure there are tons of invisible zipper tutorials floating around the internet, but I sometimes get asked about how I install one, so thought I'd do a tutorial about it. I am a self-taught invisible zipper seamstress. I used regular zippers in all my garments for years and years, mostly using the lapped zipper method. A few years ago I had to use an invisible zipper in some long forgotten garment, and was so pleased with the results that I vowed never to go back!

I thought my recent yellow linen dress a good subject to document the process on, since it has numerous intersecting seams that come together at the zipper.


Next start pinning one side, starting from the top. I like to leave about 1/4" from the top seam to the top of the zipper stop. That way when the facing gets folded down it has plenty of room to lie flat.

Use one of these useful ruler gauges to make sure you're getting the correct seam allowance. They only cost a few dollars and are a sewing necessity, IMO.

Here I've got it pinned all the way down. Make sure not to stretch the fabric or zipper while you do this, or the fabric at the bottom of the zipper will pucker up.

Here it is all stitched. Check the other side to make sure no fabric got sewn folded the wrong direction.

Close the zipper and fold it away from the finished side.

Use a straight pin and poke it through the unsewn side of the zipper exactly at your first seam intersection.

Now fold the unsewn zipper back over the sewn side. Use a chalk pencil to make a dot at the pin hole. I used blue chalk for this dress, and have a white one for darker colors.

Repeat the process at each seam intersection. This one is for the top of the midriff band:

Here's the mark for the bottom of the midriff band:

And for the bottom of the zipper opening:

Now pin the unsewn zipper side to the other side of the garment, centering the blue dots over the intersecting seams on that side. Sometimes zippers move out of that spot, even when pinned. In order to save myself from inevitable frustration, I started sewing only a few stitches over each intersecting seam.

Here you can see where I only sewed a few stitches, then zipped it up to check my placement. That way if you are off, you can rip out just those few stitches and not the whole row. For this dress I started checking my placement stitches at the top midriff band, then continued to the bottom of the band and bottom of the zipper opening, and then went back to the top. But you can do it in any order you choose.

Here I am checking the intersection of the bottom band:

And here's the intersection of the bodice band. This one I did have to rip out and redo, if I remember correctly, because it didn't match up.

Now, after you get through sewing the top of the zipper in place, BE SURE TO FOLD YOUR FACINGS DOWN AND CHECK TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE NICE AND STRAIGHT ACROSS. Otherwise it will look very obviously homemade - and not in a good way.

And here is the finished zipper on the side of my dress, truly invisible with the top tab hidden under my arm.

I hope this helps someone! Leave a comment for any other tutorials you'd like to see me post.