The one that nearly got away

A thought occurred to me today. I was wearing one of my three versions of Burda 116-08-2011. I have pretty much decided this pattern is my perfect garment. It has pockets. It works in hot weather on its own or in cold weather with a long-sleeved t-shirt and leggings. It’s incredibly comfortable to wear. Oh and it takes no time to make.
Burda 116-08-2011

But I very nearly didn’t make it at all. When I got the August 2011 Burda this pattern didn’t stand out. Burda made their version up in a drapey pale pink fabric and styled it without a belt. It looked pretty shapeless on the model and the pastel colour didn’t make it any more attractive. (I admit it is in fact pretty shapeless when not belted.) The technical drawing looked a bit more promising than the model photo but not enough to get it on the sewing list.

And then Allison made a version of it that I loved. She put a belt on hers. And around the same time Melissa mentioned she got some great stretch fabrics from Tissu Fabrics. They were new to me and I needed some double-knit so I checked them out. As well as the double-knit they had a stretch cotton poplin that cost next to nothing, so I bought a bit to try the Burda pattern out. And then went back for other colours to make more. And then went to the local craft market to get another belt made to go with the dresses.

I’m now wearing this pattern about twice a week. I’ll probably make more versions when I find suitable fabric in different colours to the ones I have already. It’s amazing to think I might never have made it at all if I hadn’t come across those blog posts. Thanks, Allison and Melissa!

OMG new Vogues

My pattern stash is larger than my fabric stash. I have piles of patterns I haven’t made yet. There are only so many hours for sewing in the week, so the last thing I need is even more patterns. Therefore I promised myself I’d approach the winter Vogue patterns with common sense and restraint.

Yeah right.

I think I’ve narrowed it down to six or seven.

One thing that struck me about this collection was how wearable a lot of it is. I expect the winter release to be full of beautiful party dresses. I don’t have the lifestyle for that kind of garment. But this is full of things I could see myself wearing to work with tights and boots. Take V1328 for example. It’s glamorous but not over the top. Although I think that beautiful purple fabric they used for the sample may be part of the attraction.

Vogue 1328 envelope photo

V8866 is a wardrobe pattern with a great little knit dress included. The photo isn’t very appealing but the line art shows lovely colour blocking possibilities. More long sleeves. And I like the centre front seam; it’s a bit different. Could see myself wearing the top and skirt combo as well. The jacket and trousers, not so me.

Vogue 8866 line art

V8848 is another interesting work dress. More colour blocking potential here; look at all those seamlines. The back view is even better than the front which makes a refreshing change.

Vogue 8848 envelope photo

I’m not normally a huge Kay Unger fan but V1329 is definitely coming to live with me. I think it’s the combination of the asymmetric panel and the graphic contrast.

Vogue 1329 envelope art

But it wouldn’t be Vogue without a bit of fantasy. Here’s V8846. I really like the back view. It reminds me of Lauriana’s Watteau pleat dress, or those Vivienne Westwood sacque back dresses. Unfortunately this pattern’s another one where the photo is a bit disappointing when compared to the line art. The sample is made in a large scale digital print which doubles in an unfortunate way on the back of the dress.

Vogue 8846 line art
Vogue 8846 back view

And finally we have two things I doubt I’ll ever make but am strangely drawn to nonetheless. Both jackets.

V1332 looks cool and futuristic to me. With just a hint of ninja turtle.

Vogue 1332 line art

And V1335 is surely what every well-dressed astronaut will be wearing this winter.

Vogue 1335 envelope art

It’s not all great, of course. 8853 might be saved by a different fabric, but this version is not appealing.

Vogue 8853 envelope photo

And I’m normally a great believer in looking past the photo and making a decision based on the line art, but V8855‘s photo cannot be ignored. What is up with those pockets? Take them off and it would be a cute blouse if you’re the sort of person who can get away with bows and sweetness (ie not me).

Vogue 8855 envelope photo

But on balance I think this is the best Vogue collection for a long while. My overstuffed pattern box is groaning at the thought.

What did you think?

Sewing on buttons by machine

I hate sewing on buttons. It’s probably my least favourite sewing task. I rarely make anything which needs them so I can usually avoid it. But the other week something possessed me with the urge to make a shirt dress. It didn’t occur to me until the very end that this would mean sewing on lots and lots of fiddly little buttons.

When I got my first sewing machine it had instructions for sewing buttons on by machine. You drop the feed dogs, set the machine on a zero length zig zag, and position the button between the fabric and presser foot so that you sew into the holes. I think I tried this once and couldn’t get the button to sit in the right position under the regular presser foot, which is made of metal and has a smooth flat underside. Almost certainly operator error, but anyway I gave up on the idea of machining buttons onto anything. That would have been about four years ago.

When I bought my backup sewing machine earlier this year it came with this funny little foot which is specifically for sewing on buttons. Faced with the prospect of the shirt dress buttons I gave it a try.

It has an extension at the back that points down and acts like a hinge when the foot is lowered.

The blue stuff at the front is rubbery and has grips on the underside (below). When you lower the foot the front dips down and the front grips hold the button in place. And the groove down the centre is perfect for putting a pin into to sew over to make a shank.

It works really well! It was a bit of a fiddle to position the buttons, but very easy to sew them on once they were lined up. They have survived trips through the washing machine so they must be fairly firmly attached.

So glad I finally figured this out. Especially as I have a second shirt dress in progress!

Details, details

A couple of weeks ago I posted about project pictures and people left some really interesting comments – thanks so much for sharing! I meant to follow this up much sooner. One thing a few people mentioned was that they like to see detail shots. It made me realise that I really like those too but for some reason I never take any. I don’t really know why. They’re quite timeconsuming to get looking even half-decent, but I enjoy the process of fiddling around trying to catch the light.

Anyway it’s lovely and sunny this morning so I tried to get a few of the Death Star shirt dress.

Here’s the collar stand and buttonholes from the right side. I am showing you the best buttonhole. The rest are horrible. I followed Burda’s instructions and didn’t interface the dress placket which is why they’re such a mess. I can see why Burda didn’t interface; their dress is made out of chiffon so it would probably have looked odd. Although how you make buttonholes in chiffon without any stabliser is beyond me.

Shirtdress collar stand and buttonholes

The instructions have you make a fairly narrow hem. This is the inside; it’s a little hard to tell on this fabric because the print bleeds right through to the wrong side. Again I suspect the width is on account of the original fabric being chiffon, but I like the shirt-like effect.

Shirt dress inside hem and placket

I overlocked the seams to finish the edges. No flat fell seams for me. They’d have been lost against the print anyway.

Shirtdress inside cenre back seam and yoke

The cuffs are very simple. No button; just a strip that you sew onto the end of the very narrow sleeve. It does mean you can’t push the sleeves up which is about the only thing I don’t like about this style. And I seem to not have pressed this cuff very well because the short edge seam has rolled to the outside. Not that you can tell from a normal distance.

I’ve worn the dress to work a couple of times now and it’s standing up OK to wearing and washing despite the lack of interfacing. If I was making it again I’d definitely interface, and also make the sleeves a little less narrow. I have another shirt dress pattern cut out and waiting to be sewed up which will be an interesting comparison because it’s a vintage pattern – older than I am!

Death Star take two: Burda shirt dress

Now witness the firepower of this armed and fully operational shirt dress. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the quote because this is the second dress I have made out of Death Star fabric.
Burda 106-04-2011

Why is it Death Star fabric? Here it is close up. The design is meant to be glitter balls, but it looks like the Death Star to me. It’s a Liberty Tana lawn from the Liberty Rocks collection they did in 2011. I bought it to recreate a much-loved wrap dress, got the amount wrong, and ended up with a largish piece left over.

I came across the leftovers again while tearing the sewing room apart looking for a pattern I’d lost and got the idea to make a shirt dress out of them. There was just enough fabric for Burda 108-04-2011, which uses remarkably little yardage for a long-sleeved dress. Sadly the pattern is not available for download. However it’s a variant of this one, which doesn’t include the long sleeves but is otherwise the same base pattern with some added details.

One thing I very much like about this style is the centre back seam. It’s hard to spot the seamline on this fabric, but it gives the dress a nice bit of shape at the waist which I think is visible. There’s no waist seam.

Burda 106-04-2011

Anyway, as I was banging on about how misleading photos can be last week, I’d better say something about the wearability of this dress. It’s really very comfortable. The sleeves are the perfect length for me; I like them a bit on the long side. I can fit a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath for extra warmth (and I am doing so in the pictures; there’s some realism!) although the sleeves are definitely on the slim side. The skirt’s a very good length: not over-long but not so short I have to worry about sitting down. And the print nicely hides all the creases on the skirt from where I have sat down. I haven’t worn it to work yet, nor have I figured out what work-appropriate shoes might go with it. But so far so good. There’s a couple more views here.