Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pattern Sales: Butterick and Simplicity

Joann's will be having a $0.99 pattern sale on Butterick Thursday March 1 - Saturday March 3.  At that price I don't know if I can pass up at least a few of the new spring releases!

Also, for anyone who is looking for the latest Simplicity patterns (and wasn't lucky enough to find them at the last pattern sale), Joann will be having a $1.99 Simplicity sale Sunday March 4 - Saturday March 10.

Newsflash - Burda April Early Preview Posted

BurdaStyle Germany has posted the early preview of the April edition.  My first impression: meh.  Very meh.  I mean, some things look ok, but nothing looks spectacular.

This is fine, but not as pretty as the similar dress in the previous issue.

The skirt is fine, but boring.

Pants might be ok, but the shirt is another sac shape.

Very fashion-y photo, but I don't think I would wear this.

I predict this top will be a hit, but those pants are not cute.

Finally - a possible candidate for BWTF April?
So... I am not super excited for the April issue so far.  Of course, things could change when I see the full preview, but right now I am all for skipping ahead to May.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sewing Update - Finished Items and What's Up Next

So, it might seem like I have been sewing up a storm, but really I just happened to have a lot of projects that finished around the same time.  This post is sort of a rambling look at what is going on with my sewing plans...

(1)  Firstly, I have finished another skating practice dress.  The fabric is from Spandex World in New York, and I am pretty happy with the results.




Other side

Fabric close-up
I wore it to practice the other day and it is very comfortable, but the skirt doesn't have as much flow as I would like because the fabric is a bit heavier than most.  Overall it is a great dress though.

(2) I have (mostly) finished my first attempt at a button-down shirt using McCall's pattern (6035).  Overall I am a bit conflicted on the results.  On the one hand, the princess seams are nice and I mostly like the fit.  The lower back is a bit narrow (I will have to add width to the lower back seams), but the real problem is the sleeves.  They are slightly a bit narrow (I can easily add width - not a problem), but are extremely uncomfortable at the front armscye.  Normally I would say that the problem is that the back is too narrow or that I would need and FBA, or perhaps that the armscye is too low.  But this is a pattern with cup sizing, the sleeve seam is well under my armpit, and I don't feel any pulling across the front or the back.  Honestly the best I can figure is that the shape of the sleeve is just, well, awkward.  Here are some pictures on the dress dummy:

At this point I am debating my course of action.  I mean, at some point this year I want to make a perfectly fitted button down shirt (something I have never had before) as part of my sewing challenge.  I just don't know if I want to spend the time right now dealing with alterations to this pattern.  I am debating using a Vogue pattern or BWOF pattern instead, and using this McCall's pattern to re-draft the sleeve design.  The overall fit and look of this shirt is mostly good, but I can't quite decide how to fix the awkward parts, or even what is causing them...  After I add buttons I might show some pictures of it on me and ask for advice.  But honestly, right now I am thinking about putting this project off for a while while I ponder my options.  I don't really consider this a UFO, since this shirt is done (or will be shortly after I add buttons), but more like a posponed project to be resumed later.  I won't be writing up a pattern review until I decide if I want to pursue this pattern, or try something else.

Now for what is on deck for the next few weeks...

(3) One of my sewing challenge bonus items is "something from my sewing plans list" and I have decided that that "something" will be a cardigan sweater from My Image magazine:

My Image M1003

The line drawing.
With the weather being all "springy" here I have been wanting a nice lightweight sweater to wear.  Of course, I am planning on making it in a grey ribbed knit, so, ummm, maybe not quite so springy?  Also, this will be my first My Image pattern.  According to size charts I should be a size 36, but my usual Burda size is a 40 - anyone know if the sizing really is that different?  It seems most people on Pattern Review have used their Burda sizes or Ottobre sizes without issue - perhaps I should just make a 40?  Or split the difference and go 38?  Or, I suppose, I could just measure the flat pattern...

(4)  I have really taken to the idea of sewing up some of the new patterns from the March Burda.  I have some more black rayon fabric (left over from my sewing challenge top) and I really want to make this simple looking wrap top:

It has captured my fancy
I think part of the reason I want to make this is so I can wear it over some of my lacy tank tops that I can't seem to find a reason to wear otherwise.  The deep V-neckline and short waist will be perfect to pair with my seldom used but much loved tanks.  And in black I can wear it with multiple colors...  Not to mention it should be pretty fast to sew up.  Hopefully it turns out as awesome as I hope it will be!

(5) Another long cardigan top.  The more I look at this pattern, the more I just fall in love with it.  I have been saving a soft blue knit for some special project, and I think I have found it.  With any luck this too should be a quick project that I can whip up on my serger...

So, that's what I hope to be tracing/cutting/sewing in the next week or so.  After that I will be hard core sewing skating costumes for real.  In general my challenge projects have been going well, and I have a bit of extra time before I need to start on my competition dresses, so I feel justified in throwing in a few extra projects.  Also, after having so many planned projects, a little spontaneity is nice!  Hopefully I will have a lot of finished projects to show off soon!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Academy Awards - Gowns I Loved

I know some people are obsessed with awards shows, and others can't stand them.  There will be more than enough analysis, trash talking, and gushing on tv and in magazines for weeks to come.  I don't really need to add to all the commotion, but now that I am sewing clothes I can't help but appreciate some of the more spectacular ones, so I thought I would share some of my favorites...

Love the simplicity of this.  Also, capes are totally a thing!

This dress inspires me to want to do color blocking.
There is a McCall's pattern (6432) that could be used to knock this off too.

Love the color and the chiffon on the skirt.

LOVE the black lace and bold color combo.

Love the color and the flow of the skirt.

Hard to see, but I love the sequin detail on the gown.

I just like this whole dress - it makes me think "Academy Awards."

And I double love this gown - the copper color is fab.
Also, I am a magpie...

My third favorite gown - the shoulder details = swoon!

My second favorite gown - this is the dress of a movie star.

My favorite dress of the night - the fit, shape, and fabric all add up to perfection!
So, which dresses do you all like?  Did I miss anything really fabulous?  Does all this gorgeousness make anyone else want to sew a gown?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pattern Review: Burda 7360

Finally I have a raincoat!  And pictures to prove it!  This was the first of my "Bonus Items" in my sewing challenge.  It took a bit longer than I had anticipated since my first pattern choice ended up failing at the muslin stage.  And applying all the seam sealing tape made pressing take longer than normal.  And then trying to hem the rubber backed fabric by hand was sort of exhausting.  But in the end I am really happy with my coat, and I am especially pleased with my decision to change my pattern and use Burda 7360 instead.

It was easier sewing the rubber-backed material on the machine than I had anticipated, but I am still glad I chose a raglan pattern over one with set-in sleeves.  Using a sharp microtex needle and teflon presser foot was really helpful for sewing this fabric as well.  I am also happy that I was able to find a belt buckle that matched the buttons I had selected.  With the minor alterations I made, the fit turned out really great, and I love my finished coat.  So much so that there are tons of pictures.  Tons.

My coat - Burda 7360
Pardon the red shoes - sleepy photographer didn't give me a lot of time to change,

The back with a vent.

And now for my addition - a hood!

It is a raincoat after all.

Back with hood down.

Side with hood attached.

How the coat hangs unbuttoned. 

Front unbuttoned.

The lining shot (and my LBD).


Hidden button placket.

Sleeve tabs (are tiny and cute and in the wrong seam.  Ooops...)

Hood is attached with plastic separating zip.

Collar without hood - I am very pleased with the shape and stiffness.

The vintage buckle from Etsy.  

In seam pocket.
Sorry for the redonkulous amount of pictures.  It is a very photogenic coat... ;-)

Here is my official pattern review:

Pattern Description:  Burda's description: Raglan coat in classic form or youthfully casual, cinched at the waist with casing and tie belt.  A has a concealed front button band and collar, B has snap fasteners and a standing collar.  I made view A - the classic style trench coat.

Pattern Sizing:  Burda envelope sizes 36-48 (American sizes 8-20).  I made a size 40 (14) but I did add some width to the lower back.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Yes, I thought the instructions were quite straightforward.  I think the Burda envelope patterns are a great option for someone who wants to try Burda patterns but are worried about the spotty instructions in the magazines.  The envelope patterns have the same great drafting, but the instructions are more thorough and have great pictures as well.

Did it look like the photo/drawing when you were done with it?  Yes, very much so!  I did have one addition (a removable hood), but other than that my results look very similar to the line drawing and envelope photo.  I think this is a great pattern - looks really good when it is completed and very flattering.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I had a lot of likes: I loved the style - it is a very sleek and modern looking trench coat style.  I loved the collar, which is quite sturdy because it is drafted with a collar stand.  I also like the concealed buttons.  The drafting, as per usual with Burda, is wonderful.  And this pattern even includes separate pattern pieces for the lining, which is really nice.  Dislikes:  This is pretty minor, but the pocket bags are a bit large for the size of the coat.  I mean, I like the large pockets, but they do bunch up a bit inside the coat because they are a bit too wide to fit smoothly.

Fabric used:  The outside is a rubber backed material I found at Hancock Fabrics.  I used a seam-sealing tape to water-proof the seams.  This did leave the seams a bit more puckery than I would have liked, but the tape does do a nice job of preventing water from leaking to the inside of the coat.  Because of the rubber backing, I used a sew-in interfacing instead of a fusible.  It was actually a stiff polyester fabric I had bought from the Joann's red tag sales, and I think it does a great job providing just the right amount of stiffness in the collar.  On the inside I used a thin polyester lining that was also from Hancock Fabrics.

Pattern alterations or design changes you made:  I made a few alterations for fit.  I added an inch of length at the top lengthen line.  I also widened the back pattern piece by 1.5 inches below the waist line so that the side seams would fall straight.  Finally, I raised the pocked placement by 1.5 inches (one inch to counteract the extra length I added to the top, and half an inch because I felt the placement was too low to begin with).  Finally, I made one major design change - I added a removable hood.  I used the BWOF 05-2002-123 pattern which has a pattern and instructions for a hood that is attached by a separating zipper.  The zipper is sewn into the seam for the collar, and though it makes the neck a bit stiff I really like that I can wear the coat without the hood most of the time, and zip on the hood when it is raining.

Would you sew it again?  Would you recommend it to others?  I think I might sew this again!  I love the modern sleek style.  And I plan on re-using the instructions for the concealed buttons in an upcoming project.  I would highly recommend this pattern to others - it is well drafted, easy to sew, good instructions, and a great modern version of a classic style.

Conclusion:  I LOVE this pattern!  And I LOVE my coat!  Although there are a few minor complaints, I really couldn't be more pleased with the results.  I have a lot of coat patterns in my stash that I want to try out, but I think I might return to this one again in the future.  Highly recommended to anyone looking for a sleek trench style.

Whew.  So, that is my coat!  A long journey, to be sure, but a rewarding one as well.  I think this will get a lot of wear this spring - both with and without the hood.  Maybe more without than with if today's sun and balmy winds are any indication of the weeks to come...  And yes, I am including weather descriptions specifically for a certain someone who is currently freezing their pituty off in Norway ;-D

And that is my first sewing challenge bonus item down!  Things are progressing a bit more quickly than I anticipated in sewing land, so I may be re-evaluating my sewing plans for next week - stay tuned!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pattern Review: BS 07-2011-131

So far I think things have been going quite well for my year-long sewing challenge - this dress is the third essential item completed.  I knew I wanted to make this dress as soon as I saw it in last July's Burda, but it took me a while to gather the materials and get around to making it.

Overall I am pretty pleased with the dress - I like the style and I think the fit turned out pretty good overall.  I think the dress is a great LBD - perfect for accessorizing, stylish, but simple.  I feel like I could wear it to many different events, and I actually think it is pretty comfortable as well.  I didn't get to do a lot of styling for my photo shoot as my photographer wanted to take a nap, but I was able to get pictures of the basic dress.  Also, I just want to point out that it looks super wrinkly in these pictures, but it looks much less noticeable in real life.  I really messed with the contrast so it wouldn't look like a black blob in the photos, but it makes the wrinkles look awful and huge when they really aren't.  Note to self: must stop doing photos of black fabric at twilight lest they turn out hard to see.

The front of the dress.

Back of the dress

Side with the slit.

My lining and lace tape at the hem.

Invisible zip was pretty good.

I am glad I decided to include the sleeve bands for this dress.

Here is my official pattern review:

Pattern Description: A fitted sheath dress with side zip, side slit, and sleeve details.  This pattern also includes a capelet or shrug to be worn over the dress.  I only made the dress.

Pattern Sizing: Burda sizes 36-44.  I made a size 40 at the top and a size 44 at the bottom, but I did have to make a lot of adjustments (mostly taking the dress in everywhere) because I wanted this dress to be very fitted.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Yes, I thought they were very easy - especially for Burda!  The only part I think could be confusing is attaching the facing to the dress at the sleeve seam.  I was really tired when I got to that step, so I just left it for the next day.  It isn't that difficult - you essentially turn the sleeves inside-out as much as possible and sew these pieces together.  I was actually able to do this entire step on my machine, though it looks like the instructions assume you won't be able to get the sleeves turned enough and has you finish this by hand.  I thought this gave a nice finish to the sleeve seams, though I am sure there are other methods available.  The rest of the instructions are very easy - you are mostly just sewing the long seams of the dress together.

Did it look like the photo/drawing when you were done with it?  Yes, almost exactly!  I even made the dress in black, so it looked like it could have been the same dress - although I do think the sleeve bands were a bit more pronounced on me than in the model photo.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  Likes:  I love the style, I like the side slit because it makes the dress easy to walk in, and I like the side zip because it is easy to put on.  I also think the instructions are great and this would be a good first Burda pattern for someone who is a bit nervous about the instructions.  Dislikes:  I don't like that the front facing stops at the fullest part of my bust.  It creates a sort-of visible line there, and I would prefer if it were a bit higher.

Fabric used:  I used a cotton sateen with slight stretch which I ordered from Mood online.  I also added a lining (not part of the pattern) and I used a black Ambiance Bemburg Rayon, which I miraculously found (on sale!) at Joann Fabrics.  I also used some nylon hem lace for hemming the dress.

Pattern alterations or design changes you made:  Well, I did make sort of a lot of alterations for fit I guess.  I have a bit of a swayback and I have large thighs, but a comparatively small waist, so what I did was make a muslin, fit it to my body with pins, mark out the excess fabric with a Sharpie, and then adjust my paper pattern based on the fit problems with the muslin.  Basically I took out width in the waist on all pattern pieces, took out some with across the upper back (original muslin had a gaping neck, but I took out the width at the seams), and took out some length (about 1 inch) at the upper back.  I think this length adjustment is really due to my swayback, but because of the way the back seams are curved, it pushed the excess fabric higher up than I normally see in patterns I need to adjust.  As for design changes - I added a lining (created my own pattern pieces by laying the facing and dress pieces together, then tracing that to draft the lining pieces), I used a 22" invisible zipper as opposed to a 16" zipper (mostly due to zipper availability, though I like the extra room fot getting into the dress), and I raised the neckline by about 2.5".  Apparently I have a slightly high bust, and Burda does love those low necklines.  As drafted this pattern would be great for a date night, or if you are feeling the need to have a bit of revenge on your ex, but for a more versatile dress I think it is too revealing.  The only problem I had with my adjustment is that I adjusted the facing neckline just a smidge too tall, so it tries to puff up a bit at the top.  If you make this adjustment keep the facing line just a bit shorter than the dress line so it will stay in place.

Would you sew it again?  Would you recommend it to others?  Yes, I think I might use this pattern again.  I don't make a lot of dresses, but I do like the way this dress fits since I made all the alterations.  I think if I made it again I would (1) lower the neckline by 1/2" (and then find appropriate undergarments for this), (2) change the front facing so it doesn't hit at the full bust and lower the top a bit as well (and also adjust my lining pattern accordingly), and (3) probably leave off the sleeve bands/sleeve caps.  I love them on my black dress because I think they make the dress more chic or stylish or something, but I also think this dress could be more versatile for wearing with jackets and such without them.  I highly recommend this pattern to others, but I suggest you take the time to make a muslin because it is so fitted.  This pattern required much more fit adjustment than I usually need with a Burda, but I think the results were totally worth it.

Conclusion:  Fabulous pattern!  I think this is a great sheath pattern, and might be headed towards TNT status.  The style lines are great, and help a lot with getting that perfect fit.  The instructions are easy, and even someone new to Burda could follow them.  If you are willing to put in a little effort with fitting a muslin, I think that the results will be fabulous and that this style could be very flattering for lots of body types.

So I have another challenge item down.  Well, actually two because my raincoat is also done!  Keep an eye out - I will be posting my raincoat review soon!