Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Burda Magazines from Wayback

This pattern stash contest has made a monster out of me. Look what I found? These had been given to me by a neighbor who had lived in Germany back in the early 90's. It's a stack of Burda mags from 90-91. Once you get past the huge shoulders, there's actually a few cute patterns in them.
I just read a great article in Threads (forgot which issue) about how to alter the sleeve area on an old pattern with the big ole sleeves. Very basic idea: Find a sleeve you like on another pattern.

1. Transfer the sleeve cap of the pattern you like to just the sleeve cap area of the big old sleeve pattern.

2. Transfer the armhole of the pattern you like to the armhole area of the big old pattern.

3. Gradually grade your lines to meet the rest of the sleeve/bodice. Sounds easy.

PJ jams: Simplicity 3135

Quick PJ bottoms: Simplicity 3135

Ahhh... Sweet memories of all the pajamas and nightgowns my grandma used to make for everyone in the family every Christmas. My dad and uncles would get plaid jammies, bottom and top, brothers and boy cousins would have fire engines or other "boy-prints", my mom and aunts: flowers or pastel plaids and I remember getting kittens.

Warm and cozy memories, just like it felt to sew with the plaid flannel and enjoy the easy sew-ability of that soft, warm fabric.

(My grandma in those pre-serger days would have flat-felled every seam... the pj's she made never raveled at the seams ... oh no).

The memories of grandma's sewing bring back all the other old memories of how I got started sewing in the first place. It was at grandma's old farmhouse out in the country. She would let me loose in her scrap box. (She only had TWO scrap boxes, not 22 like I have). In it would be rolled up tight leftovers from projects, each roll tied with a skinny strip of the same fabric. From that scrap box, I would find off white cotton to make the body of rag dolls. A rectangle for the trunk. 4 longs skinny tubes for arms and legs and two circles for the head. I'd sew it all by hand. Grandma showed me a running stitch, and later another stitch with a backstitch in it that was more sturdy. She's show me how to leave a gap for the stuffing, then later sew it shut. She found bright yellow yarn for the hair. Painting on a face with I can't remember what. And then the clothes.

Later, it was quilt squares. She had me trace the pattern onto cardboard and use that as a template. I still have the quilt. (I'll take a photo and post that one of these days). To sew these together, she let me use her machine, fearful I'm sure that I'd sew my finger.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cotton-Lycra top: Simplicity 9508

Finished a Cotton-Lycra top...

from Simplicity 9508

I'm calling it done, but a totally strapless top is not really very practical for me. So I debate adding straps in one of two ways:
Option 1: halter style

Sort of spaghetti strap style (which matched what the pattern had in mind) ... (I only show one of the two straps because that's all the fabric I have left. Either I use it in one wide piece for Option 1, or cut it into two narrow pieces to effect Option 2. Any opinions would be appreciated.

My pattern review for
It was such a pretty piece of fabric in the too-short skirt I found at a yard sale for 50 cents. I bought it anyway, thinking I could use the fabric somehow. But it has sat in my stash of things to remake someday, and I never could decide what to make with it. The pattern stash contest has been such a butt-kicker and inspiration to "just do it" and find some pattern. The result ... this little bandeau style top...

Pattern Description: Dresses in 3 styles and various lengths. I made a top (shortened version of View C).

Pattern Sizing: Junior Sizing: 3/4 - 15/16. For some reason, I ended up with the sizing that only included 3/4-9/10. My measurements fit closer to the 13/14. Fortunately it's a very simple pattern. I added an inch plus to each side seam, and then only had to make a few adjustments afterwards. (I ignored the elastic guides and just winged it with the elastic at the upper edge).

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except shorter and I simplified the back.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very straight-forward.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the simple lines and straight skirt. I didn't want the fussy tie back, so I simply cut mine straight across.

Fabric Used: Cotton-Lycra.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I cut the back straight across.

Looking for opinions::: Debate shoulder strap options OK. It's done. But it's strapless. Which isn't very practical for me. The pattern shows view A with narrow straps... but I'm not sure I like that as well as something else I'm considering.... and I'd love to get some opinions ...

Option 1: Wide halter strap

Option 2: Narrow shoulder strap similar to the pattern View A. (I only show one strap on my dressform, since that's all the fabric I have left ... either I cut it as one wide halter strap for Option 1, or divide it into 2 narrower straps for Option 2.

I'd appreciate any opinions. I like Option 1 because I can fit a halter bra under that wider strap. With the narrow straps, I face the "how to wear a bra" dilemna, and the top is tight ... needs a bra in civilized company.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I won't sew it again. But if you have it in your stash, I'd recommend it.

Conclusion: Cute pattern. Very quick and easy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Boardshorts: Simplicity 9060

I LOVE boardshorts. But find the prices to be too high for my thrify blood. I've looked and looked for a pattern and finally found this one... They hit just below the knee. This was a ridiculously difficult pattern and a very wierd construction process that was totally unlike RTW. It was a major hassle to keep taking in the seams to finally get them to fit. (They are very oversized). Women's boardshort should fit slimly, and these didn't. And the wierd construction... I'll get to that.

Here's the OOP pattern: Simplicity 9060: Looks cute as can be, doesn't it. But cut it out and sew it up and you have some huge baggy pants.

My inspiration was RTW boardshorts like these.

Details I wanted:
(1)shaped seamed waistband... got it
(2)velcro front placket ... got it
(3)extra tab front with string tie ... got it (this detail with the two little squared sewn onto the waistband is getting toward the authenticity I was after ... so far so good.

(4)fit nicely ... NOT. This were a bag. I know I know. I should've done a muslin. After adjusting over and over, I finally got shorts I REALLY like the fit of. But it sure wasn't that way out of the pattern.

(5)constructed like RTW ... NOT ... I'll go into that in my pattern review below.

"Blue Screen" Photography: I've always wanted to try blue screen photography, a method whereby you take the garment (or a model) out of it's background, make the background transparent and then -- optionally -- place the model in another setting) and finally did ... just for fun: Easy to do and very cool, I think. Here's a before/after removing the pink ...

Explained quickly... to do bluescreen, you take the photo against a background screen in a color that is NOT found in the garment/model. Often blue is used, but my shorts are blue, so I used deep pink. With the pink background, it's then easy to select all the pink with the photoshop color picker, select inverse, and voila ... you have just the garment minus the background.

This picture also shoes how low the shorts fit below the waist. (I don't anymore wear garments with my belly showing ...)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


A break in sewing this afternoon when I heard YooHoo'ing out in the driveway. It was Cindy and Myrna, arriving on horseback ... (Cindy keeps her two gorgeous painted ponies, Lightning and Cassie about a mile down the gravel road from us).

...chatting with WW

... and my turn ... (for a photo shoot anyway ... )

... and off they go, on their way ...

Tshirt Dress: Style

I just finished this long t-shirt dress with short sleeves and vertical darts.

...and side slits on each side seam

I used this McCalls 2460 pattern, designed for a woven, so I cut it a size smaller. I chose it for the vertical darts to give shape to the dress, and I (approximately) liked the neckline, so thought it was a good place to start. I eliminated the side seam dart (didn't need it on a knit), and shortened the sleeves a bit to make them closer to a cap sleeve.

I absolutely adore this ballet neckline variation created by Passiona Cottee on the Burda (Downloadable) Lydia t-shirt. (You can download the pattern for a dollar and see various adaptations discussed here.) I didn't quite achieve this neckline, I got nervous with the scissors so close to the edge of potential ruin... it's OK in this more modified version, but I'm going to try Passiona's on another shirt)

Next debate: Does the dress need a belt (either sewn on or just a tie belt.)?? I'm concerned that the loooong t-shirt is kinda looooong with nothing going on. Maybe it's OK ... I can't decide.

Option 1: Empire waist ... a bit too little girlish I think

Option 2: Just above the waist ... nice and tidy and adult-looking ... this works.

Option 3: Below the waist ... I like this one, and could do it with a white tie belt with the ends hanging down for visual interest... (any opinions out there)?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Flowered Dress: McCalls 5094

Just in time for Florida, I just finished a new little short sundress.
It's made from a narrowed skirt version of McCalls 5094 View B. It took forever to get it to fit right. I'm frustrated with cutting out the size that matches my measurements, and then having to take it in so much before it fits ... Alterations: I made the skirt narrower and shorter, and the band is 1 inch narrower. I made the bodice front a little higher. Then it gaped a bit, so I modified it till it quit gaping, and also added a ruching band. I put elastic inside the shoulder straps so they hug my shoulder a little better.

And for the fabric: a refashioned XXlarge Campshirt (by Liz and me) I picked up for free at a yard sale after the sale when everything was free. In this pic, I've already cut off the sleeves and collar ... then arranged them for the pic.

Close-up: The bodice front was cut from the sleeves, the skirt from the back of the shirt...
And the button front went on the back. (I would have cut around the buttons, but I couldn't get the skirt piece to fit, so I had to decide: front buttons or back buttons ... eenie meenie miny mo). There wasn't enough flowered fabric for the band and the bodice back, so I used a black rib knit (which turned out to be another bonus ... I didn't need a zipper ... with the stretch in the waistband, it fits over my head no problem.

Oops. It's good I have a photo of the back. Those buttons gape. I'll sew them shut. It's not like they're usable... Also in the back... I evidentally have sway back issues. They showed as a blob at the horizontal back seam. I took that in a bit, and it was resolved.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Navy Striped Bateau Collar: Burda 02-2009-108

Bateau neck top from Burda 02-2009-108. This has been reviewed 34 times on Who doesn't love a boat neck, and I saw so many cute ones out there, so thought I'd try it (and look tres-nautical) with this lovely navy stripe cotton/lycra.

Here's the model photo. (Jeesh... what an unnaturally thin model. Those kind of shots may sell patterns as we imagine ourselves looking like this with our finished product ... only to be disappointed. That's what I like about ... you see garments on REAL people)

I made my neckline an inch narrower and the overall length a couple inches shorter (that's all the fabric I had ... and my favorite hobby is seeing what I can squeeze out of a piece of fabric) I'd really prefer the top to be 4 inches longer than it is.

I need to get a photo of myself in the top because I need to ask for some help with fit issue under the arms (excess fabric in front of the sleeve). Other than that (and in spite of that), I like the top.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gray hoodie for WW, KwikSew 2234 /view A

I just finished a polar fleece hoodie for WW. (It's about time I made something for him, given all that he does for me!) Right this minute, he's down in the shop building me a new African marimba our of African paduak wood. So far, he's cut each of the keys to length, measured and drilled the holes and is now rough cutting the undercut on the band saw.

Back to the hoodie... It's from KwikSew 2234 view A, minus the pocket and lengthened a few inches. It was extremely easy and KwikSew has such good instructions.

...with the hood up (WW vetoed the idea of a string tie through the hoodie)

The marimba keys so far...

Lined up for today.

So, I've been productive recently... the little black dress, followed by a new lycra cover for my dressmaking form and then a quick little halter top. Now, I have several irons in the fire partially started...
-- black Hawaiian print dress
-- tan flowered print dress
-- orange coral flowered dress
-- WW's fleece hoodie... just needs hems from Kwik Sew
-- navy striped bateau collar top... using Burda WWW 02-2009-108
-- red striped bateau collar top
-- plaid jammy bottoms for me
-- plaid jam bottoms for WW
Whew! I hope to finish a couple of those today...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

String Halter Top: Simplicity 9129 OOP

Quick little halter top, so easy to make...

I used Simplicity 9129 OOP View B (a longer version of it). (That's what I like about sewing for myself. When I come across tops like this in RTW, they're often so short, like this pattern is supposed to be. But voila, just cut it longer and I have a top I would really wear.

I eliminated the fancy lacing at the back and simplified it. And for the string tie, I don't know what the pattern said to do, I just used a piece of cording I found in my stash. (shoelaces work too).

One problem area I still haven't figured out how to resolve in sewing of rib knits. My serger is acting up, so I narrow hemmed the upper edge of the back by folding under twice and stitching, but the stitching caused the edge to stretch. (you can't see it because the rib stretches far enough to have it not show, but it is indeed stretched. If anyone has any idea on how to prevent this kind of stretching, I'd appreciate any advice.

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Look 6038: top for my dressform

My dressform is always wearing garments for me, so I decided it was time to make something just for her. Here it is: a funnel-neck top, pattern New Look 6038, view C.
Made of a cotton/lycra with lots of stretch, here it is on her... obviously I lengthened it, and eliminated the sleeves since she doesn't have arms, and sew'd the armholes up. Doesn't she look smooth and sleek?

...and doesn't she look nice modeling a garment ...

The reason I made this top was because ... well ... let's face it ... she's an old girl, vintage. Her exterior shell just isn't as pretty as it once was (ahem ... look who's talking.) ... I wanted to cover her with fabric for two reasons: to have fabric to pin to, and so she'd look prettier as a model. With no cover, she looks a little tattered under the garment. (and there's no fabric to poke pins into)

My first effort was to simply cut the sleeves off a turtleneck and have her wear that, which worked pretty well.

But with certain garments with lower necklines (like this little black dress, it looks like the dress is a jumper being worn over a white turtleneck, which isn't the look I had in mind.

But with the new top, she looks smooth and sleek. (She needs a string of pearls, don't you think?)
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