Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Burda Style Magazine 11/2012 - 138 Vintage Reproduction Dress

This was the popular vintage reproduction dress from the November 2012 issue of Burda magazine.

I don't usually read the instructions before delving into a project so it was good to read Melissa's review of this pattern which highlighted this little gem that Burda put right at the end.

"Burda’s instructions have you stitch these darts closed for the first 2cm, then baste closed for the rest of the length, then press. Then if you skip to the very last step in the instructions, they say to unpick all the basting stitches, but warn that if you ever want to launder it, you need to baste them all closed again (this time without any of the thread-traced guidelines!). W-t-f? Who in the history of NEVER would ever do that?"

Well quite!  Maybe when this pattern was originally produced people still did things like that.  Melissa handled this by carefully marking all the curved darts and leaving them sewn closed, you can read all about her fabulous dress here - Fehr Trade.  I have gone for the completely opposite and far lazier approach to not even sew them up in the first place - I just marked the ends with snips and folded the pleats in the fabric.

Once you've dispensed with that step this is a fairly quick and easy dress to sew up.  You can't really see in these photos but where the centre front bodice meets the skirt is more of a curve on my version rather than a point like the line drawing.  This was not planned I just merrily stitched it all together before realising it looked different!  My collar also flips out a bit, but at least it is doing it symmetrically, I should have used a stiffer interfacing.

Honestly I think this dress would be more successful on someone with a smaller bust than me as the pleats don't really stay where they are meant to (serves me right for not going with Melissa's stitched up approach!), but I am pretty happy with it and enjoying wearing this midi length.

I've used an aubergine (if I'm honest it's just purple by another name!) coloured doubleknit which has enough stretch to eliminate the zip although the recommended fabric for this pattern is jersey, I guess test trying it on and decide if you need a zip.  I also eliminated the back split, which I usually do if I can walk in it OK.

Savvysista commented recently whether my lack of lining in all these doubleknit dresses meant that they rode up and I really had to think about it because it's not something I had ever thought about or noticed.  Then I realised that I usually wear a half slip under knit dresses whatever the weather just to help smooth out lumps and bumps.

So much for my hopes of doing more interesting photoshoots!  I realise I must talk about the weather a lot (I'm English, it's in my genes) as Haramiya asked how I could stand the weather in the summer here.  Well I've lived here almost 13 years now with no plans to leave.  It's true that the summers can be pretty oppressive with high temperatures, humidity, monsoon rains and the odd typhoon, but I think you do adapt to the weather - physically, psychologically and practically - it's probably the same whatever climate you deal with.  If I travel to Europe now I generally find it freezing and too dry and I definitely find it easier to deal with Hong Kong summers than I would with US and UK winters.  That said if you come to visit avoid June - August and do drop me a line!

I'm currently having fun with my next project hammering studs into boucle, stay tuned.  Studs could very well replace doubleknit as my latest obsession.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Another Patrones 272/48 Stretch Pencil Skirt

I have reclaimed my sewing room after having my sister visit from the UK for Chinese New Year.  It was great to spend a decent amount of time with her and although I miss her now she is gone it is nice to be able to sew again.

The next few projects were all finished before she arrived, but I'm still working on the photography for some of them.  We had unseasonably gorgeous weather here in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year and I should have used that opportunity to take photographs, but I was tied up with other things and of course now it is dark and rainy.

This one is a pretty boring make, and is in fact a complete repeat of this skirt here, even down to the store where I bought the fabric.  One yard, HK$20 and about an hour of sewing and I have a new skirt.  Nothing new to add on the construction I just wanted to show that even projects that are so easy they seem like cheating are worth doing.

I know purple is not everyone's cup of tea but I am going through a bit of a purple phase right now, spurred on by my new not-balenciaga bag.  It will pass eventually!

Lastly to those who asked, the pattern for the navy doubleknit dress from my last post was from the monthly Burda Style magazine, the August 2009 issue.  You could try searching ebay and similar sites for it.  Burda make lots of their patterns available online here, but they don't seem to go back as far as this one unfortunately.

Monday, January 20, 2014

BurdaStyle 08/2009 - 128 Dress

This is not really my usual style of dress, but I loved both Melissa & Kristy's versions and right now I need more long sleeve dresses so I tried this one out in some navy doubleknit.

My dress form is really on its last legs (literally, I have to keep duct taping them together) and I've had to lighten these photos so you can see the detail.  Did you see Tany has just published a post on improving our selfie photos? That's going to be my mission this year.....

The only change I made to the pattern was to omit the zipper since I used stretch fabric and made the sleeves shorter because I ran out of fabric.  It does seem to be a bit long waisted, even on the dress form so check this before you make it, especially if you are a bit short waisted like me, although other versions out there seem to be fine.

To keep the sporty vibe, and ok because I was too lazy to do anything else, I used my twin needle to top stitch the facing in place, and also just twin needled the hems.

I like this dress a lot and can see it working in a range of fabrics from sweat shirting for a sporty, loungewear version to crepe or lightweight tweed for a more formal version.  I think the boat neck is perfectly drafted and I must remember to use it on other tops.

I've got one more doubleknit dress in the works and then it's time to move onto a different fabric I think.  My sister is coming to visit for Chinese New Year which means I lose my sewing room for a fortnight so I need to get my sewing fix in while I can!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Style Arc Marita Dress(es & top)

This pattern claims to be a 1 hour sew and for once I think it's actually true. It's certainly very fast and a very clever design, it looks a lot more complicated than it is.  Sorry for the picture heavy post but I have made 3 versions of this so lots to show you - a New Year special offer!

Style Arc Marita Dress

That said I got stuck very early on largely because the instructions refer to the back neck facing piece which on the paper pattern is called a collar.  Once I looked at the line drawing of the back of the dress and realised there was a collar and smacked myself on the forehead it was simple.  I was trying to fold it in like a facing, doh!  I didn't find the diagram of the whole shoulder seam/ facing construction to be very helpful, although I knew what they were getting at as it is a finish I've used in Burda and Vogue, so I took some photos of these steps.

The facing/collar is folded right sides out, stitched to the back neckline and the seam allowances pressed down towards the body of the dress

Pin shoulder seams leaving facing/collar free for the moment

Fold the front facing over the back collar/facing and pin.  You need to get the collar edge right in the fold to get a neat finish at the end

Stitch and finish seam

Unfold the front facing, this is how it looks on the inside

And this is how it looks on the outside

The first two versions of this pattern were made using fabric I have a ton of because I bought the end of the bolt in both cases.  They are both wearable muslins, but useful to determine the adjustments I needed to make in the final version.  My pattern is a size 10.

Version 1 Teal doubleknit
Style Arc helpfully provide a swatch of fabric they recommend using and in this case it is quite a lightweight drapy knit.  While I am happy wearing such a thin knit on my top half I find it too flimsy for my bottom half in a straight silhouette.  So some experimentation was in order.  Doubleknit is not the recommended fabric so unsurprisingly this version was a little bit tight, especially the sleeves and the drape is a lot more structured and asymmetrical than it is supposed to be because the side with the tuck behaves a lot differently to the side with a dart.

Version 2 Crazy ITY print top
This fabric is pretty close to the recommended weight.  My friend in Shanghai bought this for me and I plan to make another version of this maxi dress in the summer.  I realise that the scale of the print is all wrong for a long sleeved top, it might work as a sleeveless version for summer, but for now I will wear it as a layering top.  I widened the sleeves on this version and was much happier with the fit of them, the drape also does what it is supposed to in this lighter fabric.  In a plainer fabric I think this will be a great top either with or without sleeves.

Version 3 Sensible ITY print dress
Armed with the things I'd learnt from my two experiments I cut into some ITY knit with a geometric print in great winter colours.

This is a great pattern and I am sure I will use it again.  Compared to my usual Burda magazine patterns indie patterns that need shipping are quite expensive but I feel I've got good value for money here.  It's quick to make, works as a top or a dress, the sleeves can be swapped out for shorter ones or left sleeveless.  3 in a row is probably enough for the moment, but I'm sure it won't be long before this comes out again.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Vogue 1369 - Alternative Back View

Interesting, it seems that the back view of the Kay Unger dress is a real turn off for lots of you.  Since it's Christmas here are some pictures of the back view for you, not very good ones admittedly - my poor old dressform needs some cosmetic surgery, but you can see it has a centre back seam and darts in each piece.

The shoulders are asymmetric due to the front design so there are separate pieces for the lining left and right.  If you use them for the main dress remember to flip them upside down and place on the right side of the fabric (since lining has the right side of the fabric facing into the body and outer dress fabric faces outwards).

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and in case I don't post before new year, a very Happy New Year too!