Monday, December 11, 2017

Summer Breeze Top - Butterick 6464

Pattern: Butterick 6464 (2017)

Pattern Description: Fitted, pullover halter top has back button loop closure and neckband.

Pattern Sizing: E5 (14-16-18-20-22) I cut a size 14 at the neck but a 16 for everything else.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Exactly!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, though there were a few fiddly bits when it came to the halter facing.


What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I had an inspiration pic showing a top like this with a full gathered skirt (see below) and this pattern allowed me to replicate it as a great top for a humid summer.


Fabric Used: 52" Spectrum Lines India Silk (100% polyester) from Jo-Ann Fabrics, Gutermann 100% natural cotton thread in Dark Turquoise #7540, Pellon EK130 Easy-Knit fusible tricot interfacing.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Though I had read the reviews showing many tops had been lengthened 2-3", I completely forgot that when I cut mine. I also originally cut a 16 but looking back at Liesl's version I choose to trust the finished garment measurements and recut the neckline areas in a size 14.




This fabric was great for constructing the tiny hems that made up the front and back openings and making the binding needed for the arms.


I had some difficulty dealing with the circular neck band and fitting the neckline edges of the top into it while also evenly gathering the two front portions. It took a lot of pins, patience, and basting! I do NOT suggest trying that part late at night.

Lots and lots of pins...

Then there was a round of hand stitching to secure the other side of the neckband. The instructions have you sew a line of edge stitching which I decided against. I did debate about making a buttonhole as designed or using snaps instead. After a few practice ones on some scraps I went with a buttonhole and it was the first I've made in two or three years. Check out that glowing button, it was one of many great choices in my button stash jar.


The only thing left was to hem the top. If I make this again I will make it longer so it can be tucked it into waistbands. Also, this next photo reveals that an additional two inches will need to be added just to the front.


Obviously, the first time using a camera remote!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I would. Perhaps I'll make another in a solid fabric and maybe redesign the neckline into a simpler casing with a narrow tie instead.

The inspiration.

Pictured with a new skirt.

Conclusion: This top turned out exactly as I wanted. It was a cool design for summer and because of the fabric choice, it worked with most of my wardrobe. In fact, I made a purple skirt specifically to coordinate. I am extremely happy with this pattern.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

My Kind of Skirt!

A full midi-length skirt worn with cozy tights and boots has frequently been a winter wardrobe staple for me. There have been handmade versions from Style 2323 (OOP) to my last retail version from Eddie Bauer. There has been so much joy swishing and swirling my skirts about (ever so slightly) with every step, the best was when taking the stairs and having to hold up the sides. It was the closest I'd ever get to being in one of my beloved costumed movie musicals.

Brigadoon, 1954.

While one of those wool skirts is not in my sewing plan for this winter, something just happened that reminded me of what I was missing: the Marvelous Ms. Markle* and her first official royal appearance:



Check out that gorgeous cotton twill skirt from Joseph, the shape is fairly sleek below the waist before it releases two stitched-down pleats at mid-thigh in front and back into fullness. It definitely has that sashay factor working for it!

Finding a somewhat similar pattern for this classic skirt shape and length is possible from the Big Four: Butterick 6249, Butterick 4136, Vogue 9154, McCall's 6993, Burda 6572, Burda 6880, Simplicity 1560, and Simplicity 2058.


Now, while I'm not a fan of the deconstructed loose threads on the Joseph version, the idea of adding some funkiness to the skirt is intriguing...


How about this out-of-print Vogue 9031 which added dynamic seam lines to the purposely unfinished hems of view C and can still be found on eBay and Etsy? Add some length to it and it'd be a stunner. So while there isn't a pattern out there (yet!)** that directly matches the skirt worn by the future Duchess of Sussex, a few of the ones above could be adapted with a little pattern hacking such as McCall's 6993, Burda 6880, Simplicity 1560, and Simplicity 2058.

Or look at what I just found online, the Trend Patterns Drape Hem Skirt:


Now that is super funky! While the abrupt changes in lengths may not be for everyone, adding a little here and there to the pattern pieces (but still keeping the asymmetry) would be a great compromise.

I also checked the indie pattern companies to see if they had anything even closer in style and there were some! I came up with these fairly good look-a-likes; both the Deer & Doe patterns, Fumeterre (view 2) and Azara could be adapted to resemble the Joseph, along with the Sewaholic Gabriola, which is probably the closest of them all!


Probably the best match of them all!

* Yes, I'm also alluding to the fab The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a new Amazon series. Check it out, it's incredible and new from Amy and Daniel Sherman-Palladino.

** I'm looking at you, Style Arc!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

In the Details: Put Your Collar to Work

You say you want to accessorize more, but don't know how? You want to start wearing scarves but don't know what to do with them? Well, these clever vintage patterns made it so easy. The options were already built in. I find so much inspiration in vintage patterns. Perhaps you could apply some of these details or ideas to your current makes?

Simplicity 8462

This one includes a buttoned loop to secure the scarf and eliminates the worry about losing it in the wind. What it would look like empty though, I do not know. Also, doesn't blond flip girl look like she's wearing a wig?


Patt-o-Rama 1398

The purpose of this collar is even more obvious by incorporating an asymmetrical strap to secure a contrasting scarf. Because of the top-stitching detail this one could even work without the scarf. If you look real close you can see that Dacron polyester was a suggested fabric. Um, no.

McCall's 6521

This is an elegant suit and I love how the coordinating scarf is self-wrangled by possessing a buttonhole meant to accommodate the button on the jacket. There would be no need for constant adjustments.

Vogue 5486

I would LOVE a reissue of this one, that draped and twisted collar is so unique. The option of color-blocking adds an additional unexpected design detail. The wide scooped neckline of view C also offers a looser interpretation of the ubiquitous bow-tied blouse.

Simplicity 5679

Here is a neck-tie influenced detail that adds functionality to the design by making a tie catcher part of the dress.

Pictorial Review 8983
This last one is amazing! I love the versatility of the attached scarf drape. Both dresses are the same design, the only differences are in the color of the scarves and where they were positioned; one arranged as a front detail and the other as a dramatic cape-like detail. Fancy!

Monday, October 09, 2017

'Rolling In The Deep' Green Frock - Vogue 2745


Pattern: Vogue 2745 (2003)

Pattern Description: Close-fitting, bias dress has gathered shoulders with lingerie strap guards, side insets, and shaped hemline.

Pattern Sizing: Size (14-16-18) I cut a 14 for the bust moving out to a size 18 for the waist and hips.



Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, it did!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, the only difficulty was in the insertion of the side panels. If I ever make it again, I will redraft those sharp angles as shallow curves instead.


What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the shape of this dress, I love the retro 30s style, the handkerchief hem, and how in the color I chose it evoked "that" green dress worn in Atonement by Keira Knightly.


Fabric Used: 3-1/2 yards Kelly green silk crepe de chine (100% silk) from Mood Fabrics at $22.99 a yard, 100% polyester Gutermann thread in Kelly green #760

Tools Used: Collins .5mm steel silk pins, Schmetz Microtex Sharp needle 70/10, Dritz brass sew-on snaps size 4/0, Pellon 830 Easy Pattern tracing cloth



Fabric preparation: The thing that scared me the most about this project was having to deal with sewing silk for the first time. There were many warnings about how difficult it would be to cut, how easily it could be stained if it became wet, and that it would need to be dry cleaned. After purchasing the fabric I cut a 4" x 6" swatch in two and experimented. I sprinkled water on one and washed the other by hand with a little detergent. The water drops, even when dried, left a ghost-like mark on the fabric. The washed segment, while not as smooth, gained a subtle texture, shrunk very little, and kept its sheen and glow. It could now be handwashed because my personal history proves that I do not dry clean.

Next step was trying out tools and techniques on scraps of silk. I purchased silk pins and a fine 70/10 machine needle specifically for this project. Again, everything worked well. I did not need my walking foot because the fabric did not slide around under the needle. In addition, the pins did not leave any holes.

I pre-treated the silk by submerging it in warm water mixed with a tiny drop of detergent and applied some gentle agitation. I finished by putting it in the dryer on low heat for only ten minutes in order to remove some of the water weight before letting it dry completely over my shower rod.

After the fabric was dried, but before I cut into it I wanted to make sure it was on grain and had not been stretched out by my method of drying. I pulled a thread on the crossgrain at each cut end and ensured a straight grain for this glorious silk and the best outcome for a bias gown.

 

I heard so much about how slippery silk could be to cut that other sewists cut it out between sheets of paper to keep it from moving around. Luckily, this crepe de chine gave me no worries, perhaps because of it's new texture or the subtle texture from my cutting mat. I used my rotary cutter (with a fresh new blade) and since my Olfa mat is small and could only work under a 18" x 24" section at a time, I sacrificed my $12 cardboard cutting board to the blade in order to cut all twelve pieces without moving the fabric around unnecessarily. It worked fine with minimal damage and I still haven't needed to replace the board.

Easy Pattern tracings of bodice pieces.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Just like with the slip, I traced the bodice pattern pieces with Pellon Easy Pattern so that the originals could stay intact. It's very durable and I like that it is a heavier weight and not as slippery as the paper pattern pieces because they didn't move at all when I was cutting this potentially slippery fabric. This is great stuff and I highly recommend the product.


See ripply neckline with tiny hems.

I made a muslin of the bodice in the same fabric as the slip muslin, which was an annoyingly slippery polyester. I attempted to form the tiny hems on the front and back necklines and on the armscyes. NOT pretty.

Vogue designed a single layer bodice, preferably made in a lace or sheer fabric, with rolled hems on all the edges and I did not have the confidence to believe I'd be happy with the outcome. There was too much potential for error, even if the first section turned out great there were seven other opportunities for disaster. Since using an opaque fabric I wouldn't have the issue of visible seams so I decided to line the bodice with self-fabric which would encase all the bodice seams.



Therefore, when it came to cutting out the pattern I cut the four (now eight) bodice pieces in size 16 for the shoulders, neckline, and length but cut the sides in size 14. This was my untested way to address my C-cup self in a B-cup drafted pattern. (However, this didn't work the way I expected and I wouldn't do it that way if I ever make this again.) I cut the main skirt pieces at size 14 at the waist moving out to size 18 near the inset insertion points while the inset pattern piece was cut in a straight size 18.


Construction:


I used thread tacks to make all of my pattern marks using my smallest and most delicate sewing needle. When it came to the darts, I folded them into place and thread traced the stitching line for stabilization. It worked well and became the process for all my future seams.



My construction of the bodice is, of course, different from the pattern. Besides cutting double the pieces to line the bodice, I also attached each front and back at the shoulders placing a strip of the fabric selvage in the seam for reinforcement.


Some reviews complained that the darts were pointy and I agree. I tried to alter the dart point in my stitching but I didn't have that much control with the silk. Since I had four finished darts in all, I was lucky that I could pick and choose the two least pointy ones to pair together for the outside layer of the bodice.


Per the instructions, for each seam I stitched a second line 1/4" away and trimmed close to that line. For each bodice pair, I alternated the seam allowance to reduce bulk at the shoulder; pressing them forward on the outer layers and to the back for the lining.



I paired a front and back outer layer with the corresponding lining and pinned then together within the seam allowance. Once sewn together, I pressed the seams flat using a press cloth each time. Like with all the other seams in this project I stitched another line 1/4" away and trimmed away the excess.

 

Then came the fun part of pulling the pieces through the shoulders. The pressing flat of these pieces took almost two hours(!) as I used my fingers to set down the edges precisely and then pressed them, tiny area by tiny area, using the press cloth. It's important to get a truly crisp edge as you go along for a well done finish.


I opened up the sides to sew the side seams, from the lining to the outer layer, so to leave no visible unfinished edges on the inside. After basting the bottom edge of each piece, I set them aside to work on the skirt pieces.

First thing first, I stay-stitched the top of the main skirt pieces and reinforced each inset insertion point. My lined bodice was now heavier than the pattern had planned so I thought about adding selvage strips at the waist and at the insertions for added structure but couldn't figure out how to not have those visible on the finished dress.


The side seams were sewn together, trimmed, and pressed towards the skirt back. I pinned the insets into the main skirt and basted the entire seam first, anticipating the coming difficulty of sewing them in (and the importance of getting it accurate in the silk in the one and ONLY try) This was very time consuming. I had no problems sewing the seams, I mean there were slight bubbles at each inset but it wasn't as noticeable after the dress hung for 24 hours and even less when worn on the body. I pressed and trimmed those seams as instructed.

This is the accurate color but the detail is clearer below.


It was now time to decide what to do about that 107" hem! I remembered that I owned a narrow hemmer foot bought maybe a decade earlier. However, after watching a tutorial and practicing some I was not convinced that I could use it successfully. I decided to refer to Jen Beeman at Grainline Studio for an easy rolled hem tutorial and just took it very slow and deliberate in order to not stretch the fabric and create a rippled edge.

Finishing steps:

One of my last things to do was tacking the v-neckline so that it laid flat on my chest. After trying the dress on I noticed that the bust darts were a little low so I had to take up the shoulders 1/2" for optimal placement (something I may have done to myself by trying that makeshift FBA.) I gathered them per the instructions but am not happy with the look. Because of my unique constitution I couldn't open up the seam and correct it the usual way so it was a bit sloppy. If I had more time I would have created separate fabric loops or bands to cover the gathering stitches.



I have to admit as the countdown to the wedding sped up I did not spend enough time practicing the thread chain for the lingerie strap holders so it was not as neat as it could have been but they worked and were hidden. I consider that as mischief managed.

Would have been SO easy!

Next time, I will probably go to the trouble and make my own with matching ribbon or use the store bought ones, like above.

See how well the lingerie straps were managed!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, but I would alter the pattern in the following ways:
  • Shorten the bodice by 1/2" between shoulder and underarm and take in the bodice by 1/2" at the sides OR cut a straight size 14 bodice from the beginning!
  • Exaggerate the scarf-like curves of the hem even more.
  • Create some interest in the middle of the neckline, perhaps with a brooch or a fabric rose.
  • Construct a matching thin buckled belt or a silk ribbon tie.
  • Create some type of shoulder drape or neck tie for added interest.


 
These are not the shoes I wore.

Conclusion:

Testing the China silk over the slip/dress.

I had so many ridiculous doubts before buying the fabric for this dress (all having to do with money!) when I should have bought it months ago! However, the closer I got to the wedding travel date, the more research I did to justify whatever reason I chose. There was a point where I checked to see what other fabrics Mood had in that same Kelly green, hoping that one of the fabrics would be just as wonderful but cheaper, such wishful thinking! I found their polyester charmeuse for $6.99 and their China silk for $13.99. The China silk (seen above) was exactly the same shade but far too sheer and my sewing machine did not like it at all. After realizing I wouldn't be satisfied making my dress with any other fabric than the one that inspired it (DUH!) I bit the bullet and clicked that order button!

Some reviews that did convince me were Aga Hagstrom's incredibly detailed and documented pattern review entry for her wedding dress using Vogue 2745 and Lladybird Lauren's luscious blue silk crepe de chine Anna dress which convinced me that this WAS the right fabric for the job.

Information on sewing with silk:

2. Sewing with Silk - Sew 4 Home
3. More Tips and tricks-sewing with silk - Craft Stylish
1. Differences between types of silk fabrics - My Textile Notes
5. Clean finish a lined sleeveless top tutorial - The Slapdash Sewist
6. How to fully line a bodice - Kitschy Coo
4. Easy rolled hems on silk - Grainline Studio

Project Links:
Surprise! Actually Buying Fabric With a Purpose!
A Change To The Wedding Guest Dress
Wedding Guest Dress - Finalizing Details
'Song To The Siren' Slip - Vogue 2745

* Rolling in the DeepAdele, 2011.