Friday, November 30, 2007

Back to ballroom

josiedressskirt.jpgSo Dancing With The Stars started up again, and with that came new inspiration to make a ballroom dress. That...and I just bought 500 bucks worth of fabric from Denver Fabrics inventory liquidation. Okay, seriously, what could I do - the discounts were just STARING at me! Good deals on dancewear fabric are hard to pass up. I hope that the new owners keep selling the dance fabric. Although it looks like the site has been bought by Fashion Fabrics Club and there is no dancewear in site.

I haven't decided what my first project will be but stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Something's burning!

Gah! I have been struggling for a week with Burda World of Fashion August 2007 - 115 . I loved the shirt so much that I bought the issue off of Ebay. However, I was having such trouble with the collar band that I burned it slightly from ironing it so much! I wasn't going to post this sad state, but it just goes to show that shit happens occasionally. In 15 years of sewing I don't think I have made one collared shirt! I doubt very much I would have gotten very far if previous reviewers of this pattern had not posted pictures! Burda WOF magazine, I love ya. But I hate ya, too.


I'm working with a white stretch cotton that I bought over a year ago from Joann's. I am pretty disappointed in the quality. It washed like a rag and it wrinkles very easily. This is going to be my muslin. If anyone has a line on poly/cotton stretch shirting, let me know!

I had a choice to keep the collar band in - but knowing myself, my gaze would continually fall to the burn area! So I ripped out the collar band and cut a new one and it has sewn in perfectly this time. Still have the top stitching and the arms to do, then I will post the finished product.

 I've ordered a stretch silk charmeuse for this pattern. Guess I am a glutton for punishment!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Burda World of Fashion 11-2007-122 - Yoga Pants

Pattern Description:
Slightly flared casual trousers/pants look great, are easy to sew and ready for anything.


Pattern Sizing:

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Very much so. It's an easy well drafted pattern.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
For Burda WOF, they were surprisingly easy

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I didn't like the ginormous waistband so I changed it (see below).

Fabric Used:
Tricot knit from Denver Fabrics in mulberry. Really like it.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:

  • As stated, wasn't keen on the waistband. I like a smooth line around the waistline, not something scrunched up so I shortened it by half.

  • I can't stand activewear pants without elastic around the waist and there is nothing worse than sitting down at Starbucks and displaying plumber butt. Or having to constantly pull up your pants when you are working out.  For these reasons, I felt the waist needed to be a little more secure. Most of my other yoga pants have a thin elastic sewn into the top of the waistband so that is exactly what I did. And by serging it in place, it stays secure. I serged it onto one of the waistband pieces, then stitched both pieces together and turned right side out. The only mistake I made was top stitching the waistband, which my sewing machine did not like, and the line is a little wavy. But no one will see it anyway as I will have a top over it!


    The waistband was serged to the pants then top stitched with a cover stitch so the seam allowance would be flattened.


Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
This is a very easy pattern and I highly recommend it.

Another winner from this months magazine!

Burda World of Fashion November 2007 - Pattern 123

Pattern Description:
This will get double use - for your yoga exercise or for everyday wear!



Pattern Sizing:
34-42  I did smaller at the top and wider at the bottom due to big arse syndrome
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Very much so - right down to the 'sexy back view'!


Were the instructions easy to follow?
Not too bad. Except that I didn't notice until I was finished that it mentioned inserting bias tape along the neckline and armholes. It didn't make much of a difference in my case.

Fabric Used:
A matte tricot knit from Denver Fabrics when they liquidated their fabric. It's quite soft and stretchy.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:

  • It doesn't have you insert the elastic until the end and it is only inserted, not sewn in. Personally I like to stitch or serge elastic into place so it doesn't slip and I did this after sewing the inside bra pieces together (see photos).


    You then fold it over and top stitch (I used a cover stitch)


  • I didn't have enough material for the inside bra so I used a fleshtone color in the same fabric. It shows a little at the edges but I think it adds a nice contrast.

  • I omitted top stitching the neckline edge and back.  

The bottom hem was finished with a cover stitch on my serger.
The only thing that bothered me was the handstitching of the front strap to the back. I wish there had been a better way to finish it. With a stretch fabric it looks a bit 'pulled'. I may go over it with a zigzag.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Absolutely! This turned out great and the built in bra is a definite plus. I will be sewing this again and again.
This top gets high marks from me. Next is the wrap top to go over it!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Simplicity 3790 Pattern Review

Pattern Description:
6 made easy pattern with various necklines and sleeves. simplicity_patternfront.jpgI noticed this pattern has not gotten great reviews but they were for other variations. I tried View E
Pattern Sizing:simp_3790_front2.jpg
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, except for the sleeves and hem.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Very.Simplicity 3790
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I didn't like the sleeves , I thought they were rather boring - so I changed them!
Fabric Used:
A lovely drapey knit in periwinkle blue. I bought 10 yards of it about 3 years ago, god knows why I bought so much!.
Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
I 'trendy'd' this pattern up a bit by:simp_3790_back.jpg

  • I changed the sleeves to more drapey flutter sleeves which are like a half moon shape. They give the top a more romantic look.

  • I used a lettuce edge on my serger for the sleeves and bottom hem.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will sew it again - this version and the sleeveless version.
Great wardrobe builder, gives a nice romantic look to a pair of jeans. I just wish I had finished this DURING the summer not after!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Burda World of Fashion Magazine and How I Avoid Tracing AT ALL COSTS!

*****UPDATE MARCH 2011*****
I now have an updated version of this post which is here

Ever since I subscribed to Burda World of Fashion Magazine about 6 months ago, I've been receiving each issue with anticipation and each month have glossed over some of the fantastic patterns. Of course, not all of them are great, but there is always one or two items in each magazine that I like/love, making the high price of subscription worth it. The major downer is tracing the damn patterns. I loathe doing it! And no matter how accurate I try to be, I suck at tracing. I'm also lazy and this just cuts into my free/sewing time way too much. For those who are not familiar, the magazine comes with all the patterns on newsprint type paper on approx. 4 sheets.  Each sheet is labelled with a letter. They are double sided - so Sheet B would be on the underside of Sheet A for example. There are several patterns printed on each sheet, they are distinguishable by color. So say pattern 117 would be on Sheet A in green.



If you were to cut your pattern out, you would not only ruin other patterns on that sheet, you would destroy the other patterns on the underside as well. The only solution is to trace them. Or is there another solution?

I cut them up. Yep, you heard me right.

Initially, I checked if Kinkos had a large size scanner. Hubby had mentioned he saw people scanning architectural drawings. Well, they charge 8 dollars a square foot. Yikes! There goes that idea. So, being the uber geek that I am, I came up with a plan. Careful, this is not for the faint of heart or for those who want to sell their back issues in future. You will need a flatbed scanner, a color printer - either inkjet or preferably laser and transparent tape.. and a photo software program such as Photoshop:

1. I cut the pattern sheet into pieces a little smaller than 81/2 x 11 letter size. This is to leave room on all sides for margins on most printers. I also NUMBER each piece with a highlighter so as not to get mixed up later on.


2. I scan them on my flatbed scanner.



3. Scan them into Photoshop, save each sheet as a .psd file (do not save as .jpg or attempt to reduce the file, it will mess up the print size and you will end up with a Barbie sized pattern!)


4. Send them to the color printer and I now have approximately 16 printed sheets of the pattern


5. This part is a little fiddly. You need transparent tape and a good eye to piece all of the pattern pieces together and make sure all the pattern lines line up correctly. And voila, you have a copy of the pattern sheet which is now on thicker paper AND you can cut out your desired pattern. Also, you now have the sheet on computer - if you want to make another pattern from the same sheet, all you need to do is print it off again. All told, it takes about an hour to scan one sheet. So this may be for you, it may not. I guess it depends on how geeky you are. For me, this saves me hours of tracing and I can scan while I'm watching the tube.

I am lucky that hubby and I both have home offices and the equipment to make this possible.


The Burda company seems to be more technologically advanced than most of the pattern companies out there, considering you can buy patterns on their website for download. Wouldn't it be nice if you had the option to get the magazine patterns in paper or electronic format? That way I wouldn't have to bother doing this and they would save some money on paper!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Diana the headless dressform gets a makeover

After years of hating the fact that my dress form is burgundy, I decided to do something about it. Yes, Diana had some plastic surgery with a glue gun. Does anyone know WHY they are burgundy? Personally, I would prefer the visual of a human like body when making clothes and as far as I know, there are no burgundy colored humans...

It turned out to be time consuming (about 4 hours) , but worth it in the end.

Materials Used:

glue gun

2 yards of fleshtone tricot knit from Denver Fabrics

If you have the dial-a-dummy like I do, it's pretty easy to pop the various sections out. I started with the front top section, cut a piece of tactel around the same size as the section (no need to be exact here, it stretches) and started glue gunning the inner edges.

Once the heat cooled down (but we all know I burned all my fingers anyway!) I started wrapping the tactel around the section at the one glued edge and let dry.

Then I would go to the opposite edge, glue gun, stretch the tricot knit and stick.

I worked section by section, on a plastic matt, because GLUE WILL SPILL, TRUST ME. The trickiest part is gluing around the dials and cutting away the fabric from there so that it will not bulk.

And voila, a shiny, brand new Diana, with an actual fleshtone body!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Time for Organization...and time to drool

My husband and I live in a loft style condo townhouse. I love it..and hate it. I love the cathedral ceilings, but hate the fact there are only 2 bedrooms, one is our office. Or was. For the past 6 years we have worked together (we both run internet companies from home) out of that one room. Most people cannot believe it when I tell them we work in the same room, let alone haven't killed each other! Well, he recently kicked me out...okay, suggested I relocate to the loft area. I was reluctant at first, because it would take quite a bit of moving around/buying furniture, new desk etc. But his business is growing. He is constantly on the phone - he has a LOUD voice. It drove me a bit batty when trying to sift through some code or other such geeky thing requiring a lot of concentration.
Moving my office and combining it into a work/sewing area has turned out better than I thought! And...I got some new hardware out of it :) I will post pictures when it is a little more tricked out. In the meantime, check out this group on Flickr: The Sewing Room Organization group.
I am amazed and inspired what some people have done with their sewing space.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fugly patterns - again!

Well, I have been away for a little while haven't I - stuck on my computer and not being able to sew that much makes me sad........ I've made ONE pair of bermuda shorts and one pair of mountain biking pants this summer. Pathetic!

I would like to thank everyone for the nice comments on my wedding dress.

Okay, on to fugly patterns. I've just gone through Vogue's new fall collection. Although I see some nice ones, I also see some definite fugly.
Have a look at V2977.

Now look at the Peter Pan halloween costume.
Seriously. Aren't they a little too similar??
Now don't go running out to buy this pattern because you think it will make you fly!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Wedding Dress Revisited

I can't believe that I have not yet done a post on the most magnificent (and most difficult) outfit I have ever made. If I do say so myself! That would be my wedding dress. I was married 6 years ago in September at a beautiful vintage inn near the coast. Shawn and I were married in the back garden with 40 guests watching. No word of a lie, Martha Stewart couldn't have done a better do!

And we planned it all within 3 months.
I am not a big fuss, must-wear-white type of girl. In fact I thought eloping to Vegas and getting hitched by Elvis sounded pretty cool at the time. But when an opening came up for the inn, completely by a fluke, there was no question in my mind that I was going to make my dress, it would be vintage, and it would not be white. So why not make it after one of my favourite ultimate sappy movie 'Somewhere in Time'. Yes I am one of those crazy groupies who loves that movie!
It was the dress worn by Jane Seymour when she first meets Christopher Reeve ('Is it you').


At the time, I had no serger, I had much less sewing experience than now, and I knew nothing about making a vintage dress. Plus I was new to the area/country and I had no idea where the best fabric finds were. And the 3 month time frame thing.
Heh, NO problem!
I went to the best place for fabric in the city, Britex fabrics where I was helped by a young gentleman I will never forget. I showed him a picture of the dress from the movie and within 10 minutes he had every bit of material I would need for the dress PLUS in the exact colour I was looking for. The dress was going to be made from silk crepe with a satin back, the circular and top shawl from a gorgeous draping silk georgette. All I needed was the lace. He quickly sent me upstairs to the lace lady. When I showed her the picture she smiled and pulled out this amazing vintage lace that had come from a warehouse in France. It was fricking lovely. Gorgeous. I had to have it. It was expensive, but hey, I was getting married, right? Unfortunately there was only a small amount of it, but she found some equally lovely lace to match.
Now all I had to do was design the pattern....did I mention I had never sewn with silk before?

Not having a pattern to work from, I spent hours pausing the video at different parts and drawing the design from eye as best I could. I decided to use a basic slip gown pattern with spaghetti straps as the first layer, but changed the neckline to go straight across. For the piece that layered on top and angled down toward the back in a half circle, I draped fabric on my dressform and designed the pattern from that. I'm not a pattern maker in the slightest, but working in 3 dimension worked fabulously. Besides, my line drawings were abominations!

Once I was finished with these two pieces, I kept them on the dressform and started playing with the various laces. I had also picked up some white lace from (eek!) Joann's that was actually quite nice. I started with that lace underneath, then the vintage lace, then the dimensional lace on top.

I pinned and pecked everything on until it looked right, then I took everything off and applied wonder under to all of the lace pieces, which took ages to cut around the intricate pieces. I stuck everything back on and ironed them on. I know using wonder under may sound a little appalling but it really holds everything in place very well. I hand stitched the lace as well, just to make sure nothing would come flying off during the wedding ceremony!
There was one last piece, a shawl type layer that joined just slightly under the arms and was worn on top of the dress pieces. It's a nice finishing touch but the pieces confounded me for a while. They would not hang right, would stick out at all angles. I finally ended up cutting the two front pieces on the bias, which ended up fixing the hanging problem.
Hemming the bottom of the dress proved interesting as there was only my husband to hem it and - he wasn't supposed to see the dress! I ended up standing on a pail, made him PROMISE not to look up and - he stuck himself with a lot pins, but managed to pin it for me.

The original dress from the movie...
The bottom of the dress was comprised of two layers of the white lace, and the 2 dimensional vintage lace on top. I added ivory coloured long gloves to the ensemble as well as some beautiful peach coloured vintage necklace and earrings and a small headband. I was shocked but it looked pretty much like the dress in the movie!

And mine!

Had I had a better picture of the actual dress from the movie at the time I would have realized there was a lot more beading than I had thought. I did a small amount of beading with pearls and swarovski crystals around the front neckline. I would have done more but I opted to keep it fairly simple as I was running short of time.

There was only a little last minute sewing details, and the dress worked out beautifully. People were amazed I had made the dress. It was a beautiful day all around and the wedding went off perfectly.
I look at my dress now and although there are some things I would have done better now, I still think it is just beautiful. Then there is the perfectionist in me...I would love to add more beading to it and change the lining to a better fabric. And I'm embarassed to even talk about my seams! But sometimes in life you do what you need to do...and somehow it it all works out in the end!
Perhaps I will tinker with it someday.
I went back to Britex about 6 months later looking for the lovely man that had helped me out so much that day. I don't think he remembered me but he was very happy to hear about the dress. I remember thinking he looked a little haggard.
I went in some time later and this time I had pictures of my dress to show him. The lace lady told me he was sick, had taken an indefinite leave. I don't know what happened to him, but wherever you are - thank-you.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Burda World of Fashion, Oh My!

I finally bit the bullet and bought a couple copies of Burda World of Fashion Magazine from Sewbaby. I was really excited when got them in the mail. I knew they came with nice patterns, but I had no idea how many! There are approx 20 patterns an issue! And most are incredibly fashionable and trendy. I decided to start with a fairly easy pattern. I chose a pair of capri pants that consisted of only 4 pieces. The technical drawing looked really nice, as in it had interesting lines. The photo, well, good grief the model is lying down! And in another photo of the same capris, the fabric is a large floral print which makes it impossible to see any of the detail.

  • Pattern: Burda World of Fashion 03/2007 112B

  • Fabric: From my stash. It was originally bright blue, but I attempted to dye it black and I ended up with a dark murky blue. It is some kind of nylon rayon blend with a slight crosswise stretch.

  • Materials: Tissue paper for tracing the pattern, dressmakers curve for copying the curvy parts, 7 inch zipper for the front fly.

Tracing the pattern proved difficult at first. The patterns are drawn out overlapping other patterns on large sheets of newsprint. The only way to differentiate one pattern from another is that they are different colors. And they do not include a seam allowance. I read several hints on Pattern Review on tracing the patterns and I decided not to add the seam allowance but to add it after when I cut the fabric - which worked out ok. I added 2 inches to the length as they looked a wee bit short for my height.
There are front pockets on either side and rather than a separate back pocket piece, the pocket back and back leg are one piece.

First step was to attach the front pocket piece to the front:

Then flip it over and topstitch it:

The hardest part was attaching the back and the back pocket piece and not getting bags showing with the pocket. I made sure to try them on and pin the top of the pockets in place so there would be not puckering or bagginess.

Things were fairly easy after that. The front seam is topstitched, and there are two back darts. The front fly did not have an underfly piece, so I made one from another pattern ( you never know when you might be caught with your fly down!)

I had been very generous with my sizing as it seems that Burda fits are quite snug. The pants fit perfect, but the waistband needed to come in about 2 inches. I adjusted the darts accordingly.

And voila, the finished product. All in all, a pretty simple pattern, save for the waistband adjusting. I was just going to use this fabric as my muslin, but they look nice enough to wear out and they look really cute with low heels!