Wednesday, December 31, 2008

BWOF 11-2008-111 Red Wool Dress -- In progress

This dress is part of my PR Endless Combinations Contest entry. After I cut this pattern out, I realized that I have cut 1 or 2 sizes larger than I needed; however, that was before I realized that BWOF do not include seam allowances. In the end, at all worked out for the best. This was not a petite pattern, but my series of happy accidents generated a muslin that needed only minor adjustments. I'm keep this trick in my hip pocket for petite-ing BWOF patterns in the future.

TIP! Making standard BWOF patterns petite
1) cut one size larger than your measurements indicate
2) do not add seam allowances
3) sew your muslin as if you had already added the seam allowances
4) adjust your muslin as necessary. You still can't skip the muslin step, but this should leave you with only minor changes in stead of more serious redrafts.

muslin front

muslin back

Pattern Adjustments
I altered the armseye slightly and raised the front waist a tiny bit

In progres...

Simplicity 4059 UPDATE

My dad loved the costume. He wants to get a hat and everything. :)

Here is is modeling. Very handsome.

New Look 6163 Skirt

In my ongoing self-education attempts, I took a class at G Street Fabrics on making a pants sloper. In this class I learned the following interesting facts:

  • I need two small front waist darts to get over my pooch
  • I should not use back wait darts, which helps accommodate a slight sway back
  • my center line is farther back that most patterns. This is caused by my swy back and proportionally fuller abdomen

I haven't yet tried pants with this new sloper, but I was able to take this new knowledge and apply it to New Look 6163.

Here is the technical drawing of the skirt:

I noticed that by switching the front and back pieces, I got my standard adjustments with essentially no effort. I cut a size 14 out of the front (original back) and I size 10 out of the back (original front) in hopes of adjusting the center line.

I made a muslin and was pretty pleased with the results:

muslin front

muslin side taking pictures in a closet by oneself is hard... this explains the strange posture. I also disregarded the lapped zipper instructions that came with the pattern in favor of those on the zipper package ad I was very pleased with the results.
Notice how the side seam lines up better with my center line at the waist.

muslin back

I was so pleased with my initial adjustments that I went straight on to the fashion fabric. I got this fabric for free(!) from Gus Woolen in Baltimore. I had purchased a bunch of other wool and this piece was only 3/4 yard. I was determined to use it; however, because it is 100% cashmere. In order to fit the pattern on, I had to change the fold. Now the very subtle herringbone goes horizontally instead of vertically, but it still looks and feels FABULOUS!

I decided to use the left over fabric from this high concept, but only partially successful project. I only had one yard left, which was not enough to truly showcase the lovely print. The colors coordinated nicely, which makes me happy, even if I am the only one who will ever see it. The silk was not as wide as the wool and due to a layout blunder on my part, the lining is significantly shorter than the skirt. After an initial wearing on Christmas Eve, this turns out not to be much of a problem. The lining is still long enough to keep from riding up.

I went a little nutty with the finishing, but it was worth it in the end. The cashmere was so wonderful to handle that I didn't mind working through some Ugly Betty episodes while catch stitching all of this.

The cashmere was thicker that the muslin, so I could have used about 1/8" extra for the lap, but it still came out OK.

These aren't the best finished photos I have ever taken, but they'll have to do. The hem smoothed out considerably after hanging and I second ironing.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Simplicity 4059

This is going to be a Christmas present for my dad. You can read the full review at

The Shirt

I added a tie so that my dad could close the shirt if he wanted to wear it without the doublet.

A close up of the cuff:

The Doublet

I left off the trim on the peplums and shoulder tabs, but they probably couldhave used to top stitching for permanent ironing.

Doublet and Shirt Together
Looking pretty sharp, even on my dress form.

close up of the front yoke.

cuff detail. There is no elastic, only a ribbon tie. We'll see how that goes over.

The back is made somewhat adjustable by adding these tabs which can be simply decorative or they can be tied tighter to take up about 3" of ease.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Endless Combinations Wardrobe Contest at PR

In order to get myself sewing again, I have decided to join PatternReview's Endless Combinations Wardrobe Contest. I'd like to have some more clothes to teach in and I really, really like to get back to sewing.

Here is my proposal:

UPDATE 12/31
Both skirt and dress have been completed. Both were Christmas successes.

UPDATE 11/13
I traced off the BWOF patterns (Shirt 122 & Dress 111). I think I traced off the dress 2 sizes too big, but I will be making a muslin, so we'll see if I will need to trace it again.

UPDATE 11/21
Last night I adjusted the BWOF shirt pattern.

made muslin of the skirt (NL 6163). I used the pants sloper that I recently drafted in a class at G Street Fabrics. My pants sloper calls for two small darts in the front and no darts in the back (just a slightly shaped center back seam). That pattern has two small darts in the back and a flat front. I determined that I would probably get a pretty good fit if I just switched the front and back pieces. I then used my sloper again to determine that I needed to cut at size 16 front and a size 10 back. It worked like a charm! ::pictures to come::

I've completed the NL6163 skirt. I used a 100% cashmere wool and lined it with silk charmeuse that I had left over in my stash from a previous project. they both went together beautifully. ::pictures coming soon::

I made a muslin of the red dress (BWOF 11-2008-111). he muslin fit ridiculously well. I added 1/2" to the upper side seam for a FBA. I raised the arm hole slightly. I also shorted the front bodice by about 3/8". I also realized that I can move the zipper to the side seam, making this much easier to get in and out of.

I adjusted the pattern and cut out the wool crepe. Mid-way through the cutting process, I realized that I wanted to underline this fabric with some lining fabric rather than figure out how to draft a lining pattern. After I had the wool cut, I cut the pattern out of a silk bled that has been in my stash for ages and ages.

It went together like a dream. Now it's just waiting for me to get an invisible zipper, finish the arm holes, add facings, and finish the seams. That sounds like a lot, but I should be able to finished all that in another night of sewing.

Friday, October 24, 2008

new sewing room set up

The transition to a new sewing space goes slowly, but I think it will all be for the best. Here are pictures from the current disaster.

I also have pictures from my recent trip to Gus Wollens in Baltimore. I bought a lot of wool for professorial suits and jackets.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Winter coats

Well, I purchased the Ikea table and put it together, but I am still working (slowly) on organizing my office space, so I have yet to try it out.

Yesterday I finally got to wear my winter coat. It was delightful. My only thought is that I wish I have made the sleeves about 2" longer. When I bend my arms, the sleeve slide halfway to my elbow. I'm trying to look at it as an opportunity to acquire some fabulous, long gloves.

Friday, September 5, 2008

hiatus update

So now I'm moved in to the new place in Hagerstown, MD. If anyone out there is in Hagerstown, I'd love to get connected to fellow sewers. I'm thinking of joining the American Sewing Guild, which I probably should have done years ago. I hear they meet once a month at the library.

My current problem is setting up a new sewing room. I need a good cutting table. I'm thinking of an IKEA model: This one.

Any other ideas? I want one that I can stand at and comfortably cut 60" wide fabric (so min width, 30").

Monday, July 14, 2008


I will be on a (hopefully) brief sewing hiatus. I am packing up my stuff and moving to a new home city to start my very first teaching position. This is really so exciting.

I just finished Simplicity 3678, but my camera has been packed away already. The short review is that I am very pleased, but my rayon jersey has more than the recommended stretch, so I have some minor fitting quibbles. On the whole, very cool.

Back soon!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New Look 6407

And so the quest for a decent shirt pattern continues... Enter New Look 6407. In the end, I got an OK shirt, but I don't know if this is really my shirt pattern.

Here is a quick look at the adjustments I made to the front:
In stead of blending from the size 16 bust to the size 14 hips, I just widened the dart about the same amount. I thought this was rather clever and it seemed to do the job. I also shortened the waist 1" and narrowed the shoulders by 5/8". I had concerns about the dart placement, but they weren't too far off from my sloper darts, so I thought I would wing it. After putting together the shell, I found that the "mini gusset" under the arms was more room that I needed, so I folded out of the pattern (front and back).

And then we come to the back adjustments. There was more going on here. I adjusted for my short back length. I have heard this called a sway back adjstment, but I don't think of myself as having a sway back. Note that once I took 2" out of the center back, I needed to add about 1" back at the hem to keep the length over my tush.

After I compared the back to my sloper, I decided to move the back dart toward my spine. I have "ye olde muffine toppe" and I didn't want a design element pointing directly to it. I also narrowed the shoulders 5/8" to match the front.

You may notice that there are about 4 different versions of the darts. When I rotated the pattern fr the center back fold, this took about 1" off the side hip. I was looking for a way to go down one size in the hips at the back, but I only needed to take off about 3/8" of the back pattern to accomplish that. When I put the shell together it was waaaay too tight at the hips. I almost had to call this a wadder, but then I remembered that I could let out a fair amount at the darts. The shirt was SAVED! Yaaaaaay!

So here's the finished product:

I think that th stripes in the fabric make this look at little like a baseball uniform, but that's my own fault. I'm not thrilled with the darts. I thought they would work because I carry a lot of my bust fullness to the side. I thought that having the darts more towards the sides would work, but it just seems to create this odd line. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Other issues aside, the back and side views are nice and it does not gap open in the front.

Unless I get some insight into what went wrong here, I will probably keep looking for another basic shirt pattern.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Purse Organizer

This is a fantastic (and simple) purse organizer pattern that I found on The Giving Flower. You can download very nice pdf instructions from her site. I used some silk and silk brocade from my stash. I think this might make my life a little bit better. :)

Monday, June 30, 2008

New Look 6788 (dress)

This pattern was acquired during the pattern splurge. I used some linen that I bought at the same store in Baltimore at which I purchased the wool for my graduation gown. I used some linen that I purchased over a year ago for the trim (the same fabric I used to my make shorts).

I cut the dress on the bias to get a little more flow out of it and to avoid looking like a table cloth. This was a bit tricky because the plaid is not even, but I was committed at that point, so I just went with it. I made a size 14 all over because the ease was set at 3.5" at the bust and I knew that with the bias, the bust would be uncomfortably large if I made the size 16 (my usual size).

I also had to shorten the straps for my height (very easy) and bring them slightly more towards the center back (also easy). I also shortened the bottom trim by half so that the dress would end where I wanted it to. I was able to use a button from my grandmother's collect, which always feels good.

I love the way this came out. It is a perfect sundress. Modest, but still light and airy. Perfect for outdoor summer fairs and festivals. The only minor snag was that the straps took some time to turn. I would recommend trimming very closely or perhaps even hand sewing if one planned on using a heavier fabric.




Button detail: