Friday, 25 November 2011

Extreme Burda 6/2011 #114

Regular users of the Burda magazine know to take their pattern descriptions with a grain of salt.  It says the pattern is easy? Translation: don't follow their instructions, work it out yourself and then it will be easier.  It says the design is trendy and you'll turn heads? Translation: you'll just look like one of those uber chic fashion students trying to outdo each other to make it onto a street style blog and whose fashion hardly anyone else will understand.  It says this barely there slip of a dress or cut to there blouse is perfect for the office? Translation: if your office is a bar or a bordello, why then yes it will probably be perfect!  

So I really should have known better when I decided to make the wide leg pants (#114) from issue 6/2011:

I hardly ever make pants because getting a good fit is just too much hard work in general, and even more so for a pear shape. Plus I do prefer to wear dresses and skirts so not making pants isn't an issue.  But being preggers a pair of elasticated waistband wide leg trousers should be a simple sew with few fitting issues.  But then I had to go and choose this pattern didn't I? The magazine does describe them as wide leg so I should have taken that literally.

I chose this pattern mainly because of the waistband, thinking the only modification I would need would be to lower the front crotch rise so that the waistband would sit below my bump.  Except these pants were so wide and so long that it was just plain ridiculous! Seriously, after tracing the pattern for my (newly increased) hip size, I did a flat pattern measurement and realised the pants would have about 15cm ease on each leg, and be too long by almost 12 cm.  And even after I had removed a fair bit of that width and length, after I had sewn them up I still ended up reducing and shortening them a bit more because I just looked clownish.  In fact I probably looked as silly as the model photograph in the magazine:

An Angelina Jolie lookalike and friend making faces at a parrot? What the.......

Granted I am not a Nordic giantess with legs up to there, and nor did I sew these up in a drapey silk jersey as suggested in the magazine so it's probably all my poor pattern choosing.  But after all that whittling down, I now have a super comfy pair of linen trousers to wear on those days when I can't be bothered shaving my legs:


I made the waistband a combination of elastic for comfort and a drawstring so I can be confident that my pants won't end up around my knees when I have a whingy toddler tugging at my pant legs in Kmart (I'm sure all the mothers reading this just know what I'm talking about!).   And I left off the inseam side pockets too because when I had to  take in the side seams further after sewing them I just couldn't be bothered and literally just sewed a straight line from waistband to hem.  I also dipped the front waistband down so it sits on the lower part of my bump, but not quite underneath:


So after all that I have a pair of simple and basic pants, but it's those basics that make our wardrobes go around isn't it? And now I have gone to the effort of refining the pattern perhaps I'll make it again before I get a waistline back and have more difficult fitting issues!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Every body needs a LBD: New Look 6000 the maternity version

I had a night out with some girlfriends last week, and legitimately had cause to stand in front of my wardrobe and wail "I have nothing to wear!".  It seems that all of my maternity clothes are either for work or are quite casual.  Luckily I had the foresight to think about this several days in advance of the event because it gave me time to make an old standby for a night out: a little black dress.  Well in my case not so little, but you get the drift!

I decided to modify New Look 6000 into a maternity version, because up until about two weeks ago I was still wearing the purple ponti knit version I made a while back and it looked quite good - I just didn't want to pop any seams or stretch the fabric too far.  This time though I decided to leave off the large collar and three quarter sleeves with cuffs since we're now coming into summer and the cap sleeve version would be a much better choice.

I used a black ponti knit, which is fast becoming a favourite fabric of mine to sew with because it has the stretch qualities of a knit with the stability of a woven whilst sewing.  This one was labelled a 'super ponti' and besides being $10/m more expensive at Spotlight (at $24.95/m I was glad I waited until they had a 40% off sale) it is a more thicker fabric with slightly less stretch than the purple version I made.

So I figured that to accommodate a baby bump it would probably be best to put those radiating pleats on both sides of the waistline plus a bit extra width there to create a little 'pouch'.  And I'm happy to say it worked, sort of.....

Here's the front of the dress:


Looks pretty nice doesn't it, especially with my new yellow shoes?  Ah, but look at the side version:


See how there is way too much excess fabric there below my bust line? And that pointy bit of fabric behind my head? That would be the zipper sticking out because the back neckline was way too wide for me, something that I guess the collar on the purple version concealed.  I know that when my bump gets to be bigger I'll probably need that extra fabric and it will fit just fine, because when I pull the dress down over my bump it goes away:


 But since I'm a little vain and I want it to look good now, I decided to sew a wedge of the fabric across the middle joining up two of those pleats so that the excess fabric gets tucked into the inside for now but I can take out the seam later on when needed.  Here's what the inside now looks like:


 And the outside:


 Being black the seam isn't overly noticeable, and whilst doing this didn't completely eliminate the problem (you can see it still looks a bit puffy) it has improved it a great deal.  I also fixed the gaping back neckline by putting in a dart on either side of the zipper, although I was too lazy to unpick the neck facing so I just put the dart through both the fabric and facing (tsk tsk tsk!).

In the end it turned out pretty good, and now I have a basic dress to wear to work with office appropriate pumps or I could fancy it up with party shoes and accessories for a night out.

Maternity modifications

I've had a few people ask me for more details on the modifications I've been making to the patterns I've used so far, so I'll try to give a little more detail each time.

1. For this pattern, the first thing I did was to change the front dress pattern piece from a single asymmetrical piece (because the pleats are only on the one side in the original pattern), to a pattern piece to be cut on the fold so that I could have identical pleats on both sides.  No rocket science here - I just folded down the centre from the centre front neckline to the centre of the bottom hem.

2. Next I cut the pattern in two across the waistline and added an extra 5cm in length to the front pattern piece.  And then I added an extra pleats in that additional length so that the centre of the dress would be 6cm longer but not the side of the dress.  I also added a little extra width in this area too, bu straightening out the waistline curve.  Here's the original and modified pattern pieces so that you get a better idea of what I'm saying:



3. Finally I dipped the front hem so it was a bit longer at the centre front curving up to the back hem at the sides to make sure that when my bump gets bigger the dress isn't too short at the front a la mullet style of dress.  You can see in the photos above that the front hem sits lower than the back at the moment, but that will gradually even up.

If I were to make this again (or of course had I made a test muslin first) I would probably add less length to the middle section, and possibly move those pleats down a little so it was more fitted under the bust and more gathered over the bump. 

And in other good news I'm now 21 weeks, so I've reached the halfway mark.  So far all good, not too much weight gain this time around although the return of morning sickness most days (albeit mild) has probably helped with that.  I've also been having very low blood pressure which combined with the heat we're now having means I am quite exhausted and having dizzy spells which resulted in me fainting whilst in line to buy Anna an icecream! So overly dramatic and embarrassing, but my obstetrician is not concerned about it all - his advice was just to lay down when I feel dizzy.  Easier said than done!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

little red dresses: Kwik Sew 3665 & New Look 6960

Whilst I still had red thread in my overlocker I decided to quickly make Anna some little dresses now that the weather is really heating up around here.  In the space of one child free afternoon I managed not only to make these two really cute dresses, but also gave my sewing room a much needed clean up - such a productive afternoon!

First up I made this red dress from some stretch linen leftover ironically from a maternity dress I made for myself when I was pregnant with Anna, and some red polka dot fabric for a contrast ruffle:


I used Kwik Sew 3665, from which I've made the top several times before and it turns out the dress is just as quick and easy.  A simple raglan sleeved, elastic drawn neckline and sleeves means that it just comes together so quickly.

To break up the two red fabrics because they weren't quite the same shades of red, I sewed some twill ribbon on:

I think it looks really cute, although it is bordering on a christmas decoration theme! I wish I had an equally cute photo of Anna wearing it, but she was being a cheeky little monkey posing in various ways and pulling silly faces, but you get the idea:




The second dress I made from some red gingham with a printed border that I picked up in a country op shop last year when I had to travel for work. 



I chose a simple pattern to make the most of the fabric, New Look 6960 which appears to be out of print now even though I only recently bought it:


Like the other dress, this is a very simple style but I really like that rounded yoke.  I made sure to use the pattern with fluttery cap sleeves (view D) because her day care centre is really strict on sun exposure and if a child comes in wearing sleeveless tops they have to stay inside and play, even though they slather them all in sunscreen. 

And look at this pose - she's obviously been watching her mum pose for photos far too closely 'cos unprompted she slid one foot forward and put her hands on her hips!


And before I overload you all with cuteness, check out this belly shot of my almost 20 week bump:


Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Burda afternoon dress: 4/08 #116

Regular readers of Burda magazine know they regularly make outrageous and outlandish claims in their magazine.  They'll show a very low cut top, or short skirt, or backless number and describe it as being perfect for the office.  Or these crazy pants that are in my latest magazine (8/2011 #115):


which they describe as "these trousers are a real work of art.  The pencils legs end in wide hem ruffles! Watch out! When you're wearing these trousers you'll attract more attention than the sights."  No I didn't make that up, or add those exclamation points - that's just Burda being too funny for you.

But they did describe my latest finished project as being so quick and easy that you could cut it out and finish sewing it up in an afternoon, which turned out to be entirely accurate.  I made dress #116 from the 4/2008 issue, which funnily enough I bought the fabric when I was pregnant last time around meaning to make it then but didn't find time! If only I knew how quick it would take.  The pattern looks like this:


It's not a maternity pattern, but I thought that the gathering at the bust would lend itself nicely to stretch across a growing belly.  And I was right, the only modification I made was to grade out from a size 38 at the bust to a size 42 for the waistline, and this combined with a stretchy polyester knit fabric it fits swimmingly, with room to spare:





Although I must say if I wasn't pregnant I wouldn't be too impressed with the way this looks, the style of the dress could easily give the impression of a baby belly even if all you'd had was a good sized meal. 

This is a fairly simple style, with the bodice sewn separately to the front skirt, and the back a single piece cut on the fold.  Interestingly the depth of the v-neck is controlled by that gathered central piece which goes up and over the neckline and is sewn to the seam line of the bodice on the inside.  I made that flap a little bit longer so it didn't pull the v-neck down quite so low, although it's still a bit va va voom for me! But I have the *ahem* assets at the moment, so I may as well make the most of them while they're there.....

And thank you all for the congratulations on finishing a UFO, I guess you all share my sense of achievement on getting one finished! And while several of you marvelled at me keeping it for more than 10 years, I don't think it's the oldest thing in my UFO box (gulp!).  But I did have a bit of clean up, throwing out some UFOs in awful fabric that weren't worth finishing, and moving some others that are in nice fabric into the refashioning pile to make something better for Anna instead.  So now I only have a handful of UFOs leftover...

In response to the comments from the last post:

Connie (Grandma C) - you are so right, I am loving the maternity spanx (and loving asos.com for delivering within a few days for free shipping too!).  I think I may have gotten a size too big because they are firm but a little loose around the back waistband, but I'm sure I'll grow into them.  I can already feel the benefits of the support, because it doesn't feel like my belly is heaving from side to side when I walk.  Kimberly - I was worried about them putting pressure on my belly because I too feel nauseous when something is too tight around the waist, but these are just like firm pantyhose but with a super soft stretchy panel across the belly so it's all good.  In fact the only downside to the maternity spanx is that its made from pantyhose like material and not a silky finish like other shapewear, so I've found that unlined knit dresses tend to cling to them and gather between my legs as I walk.

Beebee - good point that not all accessories need a purpose, I didn't think of it from that point of view.  Although I guess them being called 'accessories' and not 'necessities' makes that clear doesn't it?!

Jean - those red shoes from the last post are my wedding shoes, well spotted.  Since I have so many pairs of shoes, and I look after my shoes I have quite a few pairs that I've only for many years.  In fact my winter boots are at least 10 years old, and I've only re-heeled them once and they're still going on strong.  As for this baby, we've decided on another surprise delivery so we still have a while to go to find out whether I get to sew more little dresses or whether it's time to start sewing little cargo shorts.