Sunday, 17 February 2019

Vogue 1156 - darts a'plenty

I've recently changed roles at my work and it has meant coming back to work full time after working part time very happily for the last ten years. It's a promotion and now as the responsible adult in the room I figure I need to look the part, so I'm really trying to step up my corporate wear this year.

First corporate dress off the rank is this grey fitted sheath dress:

woman modelling a grey fitted dress in front of plants

This is Vogue 1156, an OOP print Anne Klein pattern that has been in my stash for a few years just waiting for the right fabric to come along. And actually I don't think this fabric is the right fabric - all those darts and seam lines are barely visible which is annoying because it was quite tedious doing all the ones in both the fabric and the lining!

technical drawing for a sewing pattern

close up photo of the neckline of a grey dress

Not being very blessed in the bust department those darts do create a bit of puffiness at the front of the dress that my bony chest can't fill out, but apart from that it's a well fitting dress. I made a minor sway back adjustment to the centre back, and graded out from a size 8 at the bust to a size 14 at the hip to fit my pear shape and it all turned out pretty well.

woman modelling a grey fitted dress

woman modelling a grey fitted dress

The only thing I have a minor problem with is the neckline - it is so high that I feel like I'm being choked, especially when I'm sitting down at my computer or driving. I interfaced the neckline because this fabric was a loose weave, and I under-stitched the seam allowance to the lining so I think that creates quite a hard edge to the neckline which makes it worse. I just need to find the energy to unpick the neckline and re-sew it because it really is annoying.

close up photo of the neckline of a grey dress

This fabric is a lovely soft poly-cotton tweed like fabric from The Remnant Warehouse. I bought two metres initially planning to make some trousers, but since I'm so terrible at making trousers and the fabric was quite wide I realised that making a dress and a matching jacket (which is underway) is a far better use of the fabric.

I think this is a great pattern, but it seems it wasn't so popular with all the sewists out there on the internetz. There are only 4 reviews on Pattern Review and no others that I can find. The pattern is a bit involved with all those separate pieces and darts but isn't too difficult and all those seam lines offer a lot of opportunity for fitting. I would like to remake this dress in a plainer fabric - I'll add that to my never ending to do list!

Friday, 1 February 2019

Another summery dress: Simplicity 1883

I have had a flying start to my sewing year - in January I finished two UFOs, made 3 new dresses, a top, a skirt and swimmers for my daughter. Now if only my blogging could keep pace with my sewing.....

First up is another simple sundress to wear in this extreme heat we are still suffering through here in Sydney:

woman modelling a sleeveless summer dress in multi colours

This is Simplicity 1883, a wardrobe pattern that is out of print now. I actually bought it for the jacket pattern which I pulled out recently to make but made the dress instead:

Simplicity sewing pattern 1883
The dress is simple princess line v-neck dress, nothing too fancy but perfect for this busy fabric. This is another fabric I bought from a Nerida Hansen sale last year - I just cannot resist the modern and vibrant prints

Fitting wise I just ignored the pattern sizes on the envelope and went by the finished measurements on the pattern because this pattern has a lot of ease. I ended up cutting two sizes smaller than the pattern indicated, using a size 8 at the bust, a size 10 at the waist and a size 14 at the hips. I also did a basic small bust adjustment by flattening out the bust curve on the princess seam. I still had problems easing in the fabric and ended up with a few ripples there which is annoying.

close up photo of the neckline of a dress

The skirt is very a-line which I think may be further exaggerated by this mid weight cotton - a softer fabric might drape flatter to the body in gentle folds but I don't mind this look:

woman modelling a sleeveless summer dress in multi colours

The back and side views are fairly unexciting - just a plain scooped neckline at the back and the irregular print meant I didn't have to exactly pattern match at the seams for a nice change.

woman modelling a sleeveless summer dress in multi colours

woman modelling a sleeveless summer dress in multi colours

It's a bit on the casual side for my work wardrobe, but on a day when the city hit 40degC I figured it was fine. I put on a jacket to combat the air conditioner in my office which is always set to freezing and called it good!

Friday, 25 January 2019

Vogue 1499: the dress to wear when the road is melting

Apologies to those people in the northern hemisphere who are suffering through extreme cold and heavy snowfall, but we here in Australia are equally suffering albeit through extremely hot days and nights. So hot......

lady modelling a stripe dress in front of a swimming pool

A linen sundress is the perfect thing to wear in these conditions, and I just happened to pick up some stripe linen from Pitt Trading only a few weeks ago - a new dress and using fabric before it hit the stash is a double win.

This is Vogue 1499 which has been around for a few years but is still available because it seems to be a very popular dress judging by how many photos come up in a simple google search.
cover of a sewing pattern vogue 1499 for a dress
Thanks to all those blog posts and pattern reviews I found that it was possible the pattern would run a little large and be too wide across the back neckline so I cut a smaller size for the bodice and I folded out a dart in the back neckline which seems to help, although I still ended up taking it in a few extra centimetres down the centre back before putting the zipper in - thanks to my custom body form I was able to pin it close to my rounded poor posture shoulder shape:

image showing a partially constructed stripe dress with pins down the centre back

That makes the back panel a little narrower than intended, but it doesn't look out of proportion:

lady modelling a stripe dress in front of a swimming pool

One of the main things I love about Vogue patterns aside from their designer connections is their superior drafting - I love little details like how the bodice side panel is lined up with the skirt pleat where they meet at the waistline. I don't anyone else will notice this detail, but I love the symmetry of it all:

lady modelling a stripe dress in front of a swimming pool

So obviously I didn't stray too far from the original version on this dress on the pattern envelope, but black and white stripes are fairly classic and show off the pattern lines of this design really well. I took extra care to make sure the stripes matched at the side and back (not that you can really tell thanks to this wind blown photo below!):

lady modelling a stripe dress in front of a swimming pool

The only other change I need to make for future versions is to lower the bust darts by about 2cm - obviously as time has gone on things are in the same place as they used to be! Either that or I need to buy a super push up bra...... I might also make those cap sleeves a little wider because while they feel fine when standing with my arms down they felt a little tight while driving.

But overall I really recommend this pattern - it's quite simple despite looking complicated and was really quick to sew up. Perfect for hot summer days. Although ironically I wore this to work yesterday when it was a bit cooler but my office had the air conditioner set to arctic so I had to pop out at lunchtime and track down a cardigan to buy so that I didn't freeze all afternoon!

Sunday, 13 January 2019

10th birthday dress: New Look 6960

We've just come home from a two week holiday to Hong Kong - boy was it cold there! Not snowing cold of course, but less than 10 degC which according to my relatives that live there is unusually cold for them. So even though I sewed the annual birthday dress for my daughter before we left and took it with me it was far too cold for her to wear there but it's much more suitable for home here in Sydney a week later:

girl standing in a dress

I've made this dress before for Anna back in 2013 when she was only 3 years old and oh so cute:

young girl wearing rabbit ears holding an easter egg

This is New Look 6960, which is OOP and may be the last time I use this pattern. It only goes up to size 8 which still fits Anna because she is a bit of a bean pole, but it's not overly large on her. I guess I could grade it up, but with so many other patterns in my stash I probably won't.

sewing pattern for girls dresses

For this dress I've used a Jennifer Bouron print on cotton bought from Nerida Hansen specially for this project - no stashing this fabric!

fabric printed with girls

I used some yellow cotton from the stash for the contrasting colour to pick up on the yellow in the print as well as it being Anna's current favourite colour.

I like those gathered cap sleeves even though they stick out a bit in this fabric, but I do think there could be more fabric at the centre front there to make those gathers look a bit more obvious.

girl wearing a ruffled sleeve dress

And now for a walk down memory lane! The previous birthday dresses:

Monday, 19 November 2018

The not so secret pyjamas

Sometimes (actually quite often) subtlety eludes me - I'm constantly told I can be relied upon to tell it like it is, although I do try to be diplomatic!

So while everyone is talking about their secret pyjamas I just cut straight to the chase and made a pair of pants that essentially look like pyjamas, according to my family at least. 

wide leg mustard floral pants

Now that I'm getting used to wide leg pants after wearing skinnies for so many years, I'm enjoying the swishy feeling of striding around with swathes of fabric around my legs. This is a super soft rayon I bought from Spotlight after seeing @gabrielle_upsewlate make a pair of pants from very similar fabric (yes I am blatantly copying her!).

The pattern is Burda 5/2013 #117. I've cut out a larger size than I needed because I wanted these very loose fitting, which is why it doesn't look much like the pattern photo or drawing.

I've made this a few times before and it's really a simple pattern. It comes with the illustrated instructions in the magazine which I find a bit ridiculous since it's such a simple pattern and there are more difficult patterns in the magazine that could have benefited from the extra directions, but that's Burda for you!  I don't think I posted the last pants I made from this pattern last year - it's essentially the same as this project but just in blue rayon:

The only thing I don't like about this pattern is the waistband treatment - essentially the top is just folded over and stitched into a drawstring casing, which means the pocket bag, pocket side piece and front of the pants are part of the waistband. This is a bit bulky and messy looking, so I ended up cutting off the top and just sewing a normal rectangular waistband instead.

wide leg mustard floral pants

I only bought 1.5m of this fabric because I didn't want any small pieces left over to add to my overflowing scraps basket. It turned out this was the perfect amount but it didn't allow me to pattern match or properly consider pattern placement - it's rather obvious at the side seam and a little embarrassing at the centre back....

wide leg mustard floral pants

Oh well, I can't see the back so I don't care if I have a big flower on my butt! The pants are perfect for those warm days when I haven't been diligent with shaving or waxing and I can see myself wearing them quite a bit during our upcoming summer. And even better - I only bought this fabric last week so it didn't even hit the stash. Gotta love fabric that goes straight from the washing line and into your wardrobe!

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

New Look 6000 - dematernified*

*dematernified: the act of refashioning maternity clothes into normal sized clothes.

Cleaning up my sewing room recently I found many unfinished projects (aka UFOs) once again piling up in random places. Every few years I seem to go through a cycle where I try to either finish them off or cull them but I never get them all done and before I know it I've added way more to the pile! Well, here I go again.....

In my UFO pile I found a dress I made around 7 years ago when I was pregnant with my second child from New Look 6000 (an old favourite). I held onto it not because I was planning to have another child but because I made it from a good quality ponti knit which is hard to find and because this is a favourite dress pattern and it deserved to be worn for more than just a few months.

To turn it into a maternity version in the first place I simply made it a size larger, added extra length to the front and placed gathers on both side (see this post here). To de-maternify it, I unpicked all the pieces and simply cut out the pattern pieces in the right size - and then it sat in my UFO pile for the past few years. No good reason why - I was just clearly distracted by newer and shinier projects!

On a recent sewing weekend away with some sewing friends it took me about 2 hours to finally sew this dress and now I have a new dress just in time for the warmer weather we're having here in Sydney. Honestly, at the end of finishing each UFO I always wonder why I left it for so long!

There's not much to say about this dress - it's a very simple make but is really flattering which is why a bajillion seamstresses have made it and the pattern is still for sale over at Simplicity. I've made this version with cap sleeves because even though I love the elbow length sleeves with button tabs they are impossible to get into jacket sleeves and it's so cold in my office that I definitely need that.

I guess the most obvious difference is in the side view - no more preggo belly (just a mum tum though).

In the photo above I was only 21 weeks and I grew much larger so it was lucky that there was a lot of extra fabric in the front. Check out the photo below to see how much larger I got - this photo was 5 days before I gave birth to a 4.5kg (9lb 14oz) baby:

Finally how awesome is the necklace I'm wearing? It's from an Australian company called Ruby Olive and this plain black dress is just perfect for showing it off.


Saturday, 15 September 2018

My last Burda of the month project: Burda 9/2017 #103 the skirt that goes from summer to winter

After having a subscription to Burda magazine for the last 10 years and buying random issues for 5 or so years before that I've decided not to renew my subscription. I've always had FOMO thinking that the minute I cancel my subscription that Burda will release the best ever issue - and admittedly the October issue is looking pretty smashing.

But I've come to realise that with my extensive back issues that I already have a version of about 80% of the patterns in each issue anyway, and I can easily download any patterns that catch my eye. Plus I have a very long list of Burda patterns from past issues that I really want to make and will never get around to with a new issue arriving each month. But if I'm really honest the increasing lateness of each issue being delivered each month was annoying me terribly and contributed to the decision, which is very petty I know!

Anyway, all of this is to say that after many years I'm giving up on my Burda of the month challenge. I started that challenge as a way to make me sew something from each new magazine, but these days my Burda mags are the first thing I reach for when I sew so I don't need that motivation anymore. I will keep on sewing Burda, but it will be from my past issues and I'm instead going to focus on those older ones that I haven't used as yet.

So here is my very last Burda of the month project, funnily enough made back in January from the September 2017 issue, photographed in March and only just now being blogged. Better late than never I guess. The good thing about this project is that it works equally well in summer as it does in winter:

mid length linen skirt

This is Burda 9/2017 #103, which is a pleated, mid length skirt with a narrow waistband. Burda's version is made from sequins, but I think it works equally well in a daytime fabric.

pleated skirt sewing pattern

I've made this from a mid weight linen picked up from Lincraft of all places. I remember 15 or so years ago when Lincraft used to have an extensive range of quality fabrics but these days their offerings are pretty sad. So when I found this linen at 50% off I bought not knowing how well it would wash and wear but I'm happy to report that it has held up really well with no fading or shrinkage.

I really like this pattern - the pleats at the front sit fairly flat so don't add too much bulk at the waist and the plain a-line shape of the back keeps the silhouette fairly slim

mid length pleated linen skirt

mid length pleated linen skirt

It doesn't have pockets though, and I know how some of you absolutely obsess over pockets! I can live without them though - they just add bulk to an already lumpy area of my body. But they would be pretty easy to add to the sides if you wanted to.

pleated skirt

I did reduce the length a bit because I don't have the height of a Burda glamazon and instead just made it slightly below my knew. I think this length makes my legs look a bit stumpy and probably breaks all sorts of fashion rules about not ending hem lines at your widest part but as I'm getting older I've decided I don't care about those things as much any more. Plus wearing this length means I only have to shave a quarter of my legs which is a great thing all year round.

I replaced the singlet top with a turtle neck top and denim jacket and it was warm enough to wear on a mild winter Sydney day just recently.

So to everyone else who is doing their own version of a Burda challenge, whether you've been doing it for years or newly started this year best of luck to you! I've found that by doing this challenge I've made patterns that I wouldn't have normally considered and it did introduce some structure to my sewing so many good things came out of it. But it was starting to feel like a bit of chore that I had to get done each month before I could get onto making other things, so I'm looking forward to just making whatever catches my eye now.