Very little black dress

Here’s the final version of Burda 122-09-2010 in neoprene. I had lots of trouble finding shoes that go with it. I have tried on practically every pair I own and it looks best with these wedge ankle boots. Bizarre.

Since the trial version I’ve made a few adjustments.
You can’t see a whole lot in these photos as the dress is black, but the number of wrinkles in the back is greatly reduced.

I did end up taking width out of the back waist. I really didn’t want to put a zip in so I was pleased to find it is still possible to get it on and off without a zip, although it involves a lot of undignified tugging. However once the dress is on it is very comfortable, and the thick fabric is great – no visible lines from what’s underneath despite the close fit.

Hopefully the seamlines are a little clearer on this photo. You can also just see the red underside of the fabric around the shoulder. I’m calling it a Christian Louboutin homage.

I ended up making the final version out of the old, creased neoprene I made the trial run from because my newer piece turned out to be much too thin to work with this pattern. The old stuff is about 2mm thick whereas the new stuff is so thin you can barely see that there’s a layer of foam in there at all. I’ll have to find something else to do with it.

Inside-out dress

I’m making Burda 122-09-2010, which is a knit dress with all the shaping in the seamlines, in neoprene. This is my trial run, made from an old piece of neoprene which got creased in storage. I’m wearing it inside-out in the pictures because the right side is black and wouldn’t photograph very clearly, whereas the red side shows up nicely.

Here’s the front view. I had to take a wedge out of the centre front, which is what the short black seamline running from the neckline is for. I also had to cut the front neckline down by about an inch.

The original pattern was a petite and I’m taller than average so I had to add quite a lot of length to it. However I got this slightly wrong. The first seam down from the neckline runs over the bust rather than below it. I measured pretty carefully, so I’m not quite sure what happened there.

The back needed quite a lot of adjustment. I had take three darts out of the top to accommodate my rounded shoulders! I quite like the interest the extra seamlines add so I’ll probably keep this in the final version rather than adjusting the pattern pieces to remove the darts.

I think the back piece needs to come in a little around the waist too, although if I make it too much smaller I won’t be able to get into the dress! I was going to add a zip, but right now it doesn’t need it and I don’t really want to have to put one in if it can be avoided.

I sewed most of the seams by pushing the two edges (with no seam allowance) up against each other and zigzagging over the top, but this would have been practically impossible for the long vertical seams on the back. I did these by using the hinge method that Elizabeth posted about recently for sewing fur. I can report it works a treat on neoprene too.

I’m really liking this dress so far. It’s comfortable and very warm. I think it’s wearable as-is (well, it is if I turn it right side out) but I am going to adjust the pattern pieces and make another version.

Neoprene – my current favourite fabric

Thanks everyone for the nice comments about Vogue 1087! I said I was going to sew something simpler next, and my plan is to make this Burda dress. It’s from the September 2010 issue.

I already made the matching skirt in neoprene. It was a success, so I thought I’d try to make the dress as well. This attempt is going to be a muslin (possibly wearable, possibly not) because I’m not sure of the fit. The pattern is petite and I’m quite the opposite! However the neoprene I’m using is a really old piece that’s been sitting in my stash so long it’s developed permanent creases, so no loss if it doesn’t work out. And if it does work out, I have a better piece I could use to make it again.

Neoprene is a a pain in the neck to sew but it is amazingly easy to cut out. You flop it down on the floor and it lays nice and flat straight away. It doesn’t seem to be possible to distort the grain because it’s so elastic it pulls straight back into shape again. And best of all, you can just chalk round your pattern pieces on the wrong side and then cut out the chalk outlines.

It couldn’t be much easier.

You can see the creasing in the picture from where I folded the fabric for storage, not knowing any better at the time. Luckily I was able to avoid the worst of it when cutting my pieces out. And yes, it really is that shade of red. But that’s what I’m going to use as the wrong side; the other side is black.

I suspect the sewing isn’t going to be quite as simple as the cutting out.

Feeling blue – Vogue 1087 finished

Here is my finished version of Vogue 1087

I am surprised by how much I like the dart detail on the back. The darts are sewn on the right side of the fabric rather than the wrong side and caught in the waist seam. It adds interest to the back of the dress which would otherwise be quite plain.

One thing the back view demonstrates is that it really matters to cut knits using a one-way layout. My fabric is a very plain blue wool jersey that doesn’t have any obvious directionality. The back shoulder pieces of the dress wrap right over from the front, so the nap on the back shoulders runs in the opposite direction to that on the bodice back pieces. Some of the photos show quite a big colour difference between the shoulders and the back, although the one above isn’t too bad.

Here’s a slightly closer view of the wrapped section.

It’s a well drafted pattern. The neckline is low but it doesn’t gap or shift. It does need a good bra though. A balcony style one works best; I found the straps showed with other styles.
Despite being made for knits, the dress is quite structured. The extended shoulders remind me of their existence every time I raise my arms! I’m not totally sure where this is going to fit into my wardrobe yet. It might become the dress for the very rare occasions when I need to look slightly smart at work.

More pictures here.

I’m going to sew something simpler next!

Things not to do while sewing Vogue 1087

Vogue 1087 is finished. I haven’t got any pictures yet because by the time I’d hemmed it there was no daylight at all, so instead I’ll tell you all about What Not To Do While Sewing Vogue 1087. Here’s the envelope picture:

My fabric is a dark blue wool jersey. It hides a multitude of sins, and this is a good thing.

This pattern has a lot of markings. Big circles, small circles, squares, and triangles. I carefully tailor tacked them using four different colours of thread as I’d done on my muslin. Only this time I absent-mindedly switched colour scheme halfway through, so I had green, brown, white, orange, and grey tailor tacks. Luckily I could remember enough of the construction details from the muslin to work out which tack matched to which. It turned out I hadn’t just added a colour, I’d somehow managed to switch the orange and white markings around at some point. Don’t do that.

The multitude of tailor tacks got quite annoying while sewing, so I started pulling out the ones I thought I’d done with after I’d sewed the match points. Only I managed to pull out some of the wrong ones, so the confusing part of the construction where you sew the back part of the dress onto the very complicated front pieces had to be done by guessing rather than matching up dots. Don’t do that.

The pattern calls for a lot of hand-sewn blind hems. I hate hand hemming with a passion so I thought I’d give that magic hem tape stuff a try. It seemed to work quite well on the first hems; it’s a little stiff but it kept them in place. The next time I went to press something I noticed my iron was catching on my fabric. I’d gone and left a scrap of the hem tape on the ironing board and it had melted all over the iron’s sole plate. And then transferred to my fabric. Don’t do that.

I managed to rescue the fabric by effectively shaving the melted glue off with a very sharp pair of scissors, and the iron was easy enough to clean once it had cooled down, but my ironing board cover is ruined. I did the rest of the pressing for the dress using an old towel on the board. This will do in a pinch but I can’t recommend it. You’d think I’d have learnt from this, but when I came to do the next set of hems I managed to leave the whole roll of tape sitting next to the hot iron. It sort of fused, so now I have a lump of glue rather than a roll of tape. Don’t do that either.

Despite all this the dress got finished and it’s not bad. Pictures next time, with luck. I’m going for a lie down.

Morplan’s catalogue of dreams

I pinched this post title from a friend of mine who once described the Argos catalogue as ‘the catalogue of dreams’. For those not in the UK, I should explain that Argos is a UK retailer that sells just about anything you can think of. You pick your goods from a huge catalogue rather than browsing in a shop. We always used to have a copy of the catalogue at home and as a child I found it fascinating. They have a website these days as well as the catalogue, but browsing on the web is not the same.

I’ve recently discovered a similar thing for sewists. Last year I ordered a huge roll of tracing paper from a company called Morplan. They mostly seem to supply fittings and equipment to the retail clothing industry, but they’ve got a good range of things that home sewists might be interested in. This tracing paper will keep me going for years.

And last week they sent me their full catalogue in the post. Who knew there were so many different kinds of carrier bag? Or coat hangers? And that’s before you get to the sewing stuff. More things for marking fabric than you can shake a stick at. Curious gadgets for making pattern pieces.

Forget sewing, I’m going back to put large red circles round my favourites.

Purple peril

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions about making buttons stay put. There are quite a few things there that I haven’t tried yet, so I’m going to have another go at the ones on my husband’s coat.

Meanwhile my muslin of Vogue 1087 is finished! Here’s the envelope photo.

Here it is on my dressform. Despite following the instructions absolutely precisely, my dress wraps the opposite way to the one on the envelope. I think Vogue must have flipped the picture because a few people on Pattern Review have found the same thing.

Those who are likely to be grossed out by pasty skin, lack of lipstick, and spots should look away now. I was tempted to touch this picture up. For anyone who’s still reading, here it is on me.

It fits a lot better than I expected.
This pattern comes in sizes 4-10 or 12-18; unfortunately I really need a combination of 10 and 12. This is a 10 throughout so I’m surprised it’s not too small on the bottom half.

The only thing I really need to change is that it could do with a little more length over the chest. It doesn’t show in the pictures because my fabric has a lot of stretch, but it feels tight. It doesn’t have any adjustment lines for changing the length above the waist (one day I will learn to look out for the dreaded small print ‘no provision for above-waist adjustment’ before I buy a pattern) so I’ve just eyeballed adding the extra length on the pattern pieces.

So I have armed myself with suitable needles and thread and cut out the expensive blue wool jersey. No going back now!