Holiday, Wedding, Funeral

Burda 7378 is a sleeveless dress with pleats radiating from a raised waistline and two darts at the back.  Last summer when I bought the pattern, I wasn’t sure if my beginner’s skills would be up to a pattern marked “average” but having been rather intrigued by pleats that feature so often on Ready-to-Wear clothes, I thought I’d at least get some insight into their construction.  Rolls and Rems provided an easy-to-work cotton poplin (at £4.95 a 115cm-width metre) and invigorated en route by the fabric’s fantastic colour I quickly set to work.

After this:

And this:

And this:

I ended up with this:

I wore my Burda 7378 on my last summer holiday and loved the contrast between the colour of the dress and my tan (those were the days!).  Though the pleats weren’t perfectly executed, I still gained much satisfaction looking down at them.  After my hols, being very much under the impression that the pattern was a thumbs-up, I made two more versions.

A sophisticated, funeral-friendly black:

 And a shot-silk version, fully lined in an oyster acetate:

Here’s a close-up of the fabric.  It’s by John Kaldor and was bought at a considerable discount from Geoff Rosenberg.  The colours are to die for!

So, having finished all three, imagine my disappointment (here we go!) when I put them on for the purposes of this photo shoot only to be told by my DH that this pattern makes me “look fat”.

Huh?  Now he tells me?!  Ok, I admit that a couple of times last summer when I wore the lime dress to slap-up meals, I thought to myself: “Thank goodness there’s enough room in here!”  In fact, I’d even made a mental note to recommend this pattern to anyone accommodating a 4-5 month-old fetus!

And in case you think it’s the stiff poplin, let me emphasise that the two more drapey fabrics don’t make it much better: this really isn’t the pattern for you if your waist is the particular feature you like to accentuate.  Maybe the dress would look better in View A – a maxi.  But I’d still hesitate to recommend it if you aren’t tall.

If all this hasn’t put you off and you decide to give this dress a go, here are a couple of notes on sizing and modification:

Sizing

If you’re between sizes, go down: you’ll be fine!  My three dresses are size 10 (US: 6) though I’m 12 hips on a good day.

Sewing the Straps and the Lining

By following the pattern instructions, you’ll be attaching the lining to the fashion fabric at the neckline and armscyes, handstitching the lining to the zip then sewing the dress straps as in the diagram above.  The lining straps are then machine-stitched before the garment is turned to the right side and the fashion fabric straps are slip-stitched (Step 14).  The best of my attempts at this produced:

It wasn’t so simple with the silk!  But you don’t have to follow the instructions slavishly!  Having for some months now been an avid reader of the Slapdash Sewist, I now know that there is another way.  If you’re averse to handsewing and if the slip-stitch isn’t your best couture move, I refer you to Slapdash’s All-Machine Clean-Finish Sleeveless Bodice Lining Tutorial.  Especially recommended if you’re making the long, fully lined version of dress.

Good luck and let me know how it went!

P.S. I don’t care if it does make me look fat: I’m ready for that Holiday/Wedding/Funeral…

Love Missile NL 6459 F

 

 

 

It’s great to come across a pattern that yields a flattering garment with the minimum of hassle; it’s greater still when that pattern comes with enough variations to create an entire season’s wardrobe. New Look 6459 is a sleeveless dress with darts to the bodice and some definition to the waist which gives it a feminine silhouette.  It lends itself to anything from a beach bum dress to quite respectable evening wear (more on that later).

Here are a couple of versions I made previously: some of the first garments I ever made, both now dying of old age. 

For the Summer 2012 version (which, given the weather, I shall mostly be wearing with boots, a cropped cardie and a brolly), I’ve made View F in a soft lawn by John Kaldor, bought for £8 a metre from Geoff Rosenberg.  

I bought the fabric while finishing my Mad Men Challenge dress when, still in a vintage mood, I was drawn to the Betty Draper-like print of the deep pink roses and leaves on a purple-grey background.  It’s quite a departure from my usual loon prints!

A beginner making this pattern (marked “Easy”) could follow the instructions, as I did the first time I made it, and end up with a very good dress.  But with a little modification, NL 6459 View F can be upgraded to a fantastic dress!  Here are a few notes which you may find helpful:

1 Beware of Cutting the Bodice from a Printed Fabric

Beware of the centre front seam on the bodice and cut carefully if using a print fabric.  The Front Bodice has a centre seam which is at a slight diagonal.  This is necessary in order for the straps to be straight on the grainline.  The first time I cut the bodice and sewed the centre seam, the break in the flowers ruined the look of the front:

This simply wouldn’t have done, being just below the cleavage and something of a focal point.  I decided to make this piece my bodice lining.  The second time I cut the bodice front, I made sure the stitching line fell on the “blank” parts.  The result is more professional and presentable:

2 Suggested Improvement to Bodice Lining

The instructions call for the bodice and the bodice lining to be sewn together to the skirt and the zip to be attached to both.  I did this when making this dress in 2008.  The inside looks like this:

Ok, but not ideal to have the ugliness of those edges staring up at you every time you disrobe!  An improvement would be achieved by the following:

a) After step 19 in the instructions, edge-finish the bottom of the lining.  I do this by pressing under 0.5cm and zigzaging.

b) Stitch bodice to skirt and attach zip at centre back.

c) With right sides together, stitch bodice to bodice lining.  Leave the short edges of the straps unstitched.  You will be turning the garment to the right side through these gaps!

d) Stitch the side of the lining to the zip.

e) Push the garment to the right side through the gaps and press.

The result it the more pro this:

Please note that you would not be able to do this with Views A-E as the bodice and the straps are not in one continuous piece.

3 Option for Strap Adjustment

When stitching the bodice to bodice lining, there’s an area of 3cm on the back which is to be left unstitched.  This is to allow for the insertion of the strap in one of the final stages of the making of the dress.  It means that the length of the strap can be adjusted to suit.  My tip is to leave a wider area unstitched (4cm-5cm) so that at the fitting stage you can:

  •  fit the straps to the left or right of the suggested positioning,.  This is useful if you want to hide your bra straps when wearing the dress.  Choose the bra you want to wear with the finished dress and wear it to the fitting as the position of bra straps can vary a lot.
  • angle the ends of the straps slightly towards the centre if your shoulders are like mine slightly sloping
Consider these variations:
  • Find a smart fabric, cut the skirt pieces some 10cm-15cm longer for the dress to cover the knees (find the most flattering cut-off point), put some interfacing in the bodice and you’ve got yourself a number elegant enough for theatre.
  • Make the dress from a stretch jersey.  Sure, it’ll cling mercilessly to your stomach, as jersey dresses tend to do.  Hell, you might even feel the need to sign up for Pilates classes.  But this is a small price to pay for the fact you won’t have to insert a zip!!

Right, I’m off to go make this again…

One Week, One Pattern

Inspired by the blog Tilly and the Buttons, from Saturday 24th to Friday 30th March, we pledge to wear garments made from one pattern.  My chosen favourite is the BSB which is the Skirt Master Pattern in the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.

Saturday 24th: Macculloch’s

It’s 10:30a.m and I’m at Macculloch buying the zip and thread for my Mad Men Challenge Dress.  Being very new to this posing-whilst-looking-presentable business, I got side-tracked by an argument with my photographer  (“Don’t make me look short!”  “But you are!” etc.), and so failed to check if my skirt was on straight.  This Basic Skirt Block is made of claret corduroy and cut on the bias with the ridges meeting in a V in the middle.  To line it, I had valuable help from Slapdash’s tutorial.  The top is Nicotine Surprise.

Sunday 25th, Slummy Mummy

A hybrid of the BSB and Vogue 1247.  I haven’t bought the V1247 pattern, but added pockets to the basic skirt after getting the idea from Vacuuming the LawnHere’s her photo of what the innermost layer looks like.  My internet research suggests that the V1247 is shockingly short and as a rule, it’s best to add a centimetre length for each year over the age of sixteen.  These pockets are deep enough to stash roadkill.

This is the first garment I made where the seams across the zip lined up at first go, so to celebrate the momentous occasion, I enhanced the feature with some yellow top-stitching.  This adds to the jean skirt effect, but the fabric is actually an old,  mock-denim IKEA curtain….

The whole thing is hardly in the Vogue spirit!

Monday 26th, Pattern-Cutting Class

Today, my Pattern-Cutting Course here comes to an end, sadly. 

This skirt is made from a snipet of super-silky faux fur which I bought without checking the length: 43cm!  Finished skirt length: 41cm!!  The jackboots detract from the Cougar Lady effect.

Tuesday 27th, Space Grapes

Today, the claret Basic is teamed with a charity shop top and my old Dune sandals – their first outing of ’12.  The kids have named these sandals Space Grapes.  Apparently, if you eat the grapes, you become very heavy.  That’s probably because they contain heavy metals.

Incidentally, we call this plant Snake Grapes.

Wednesday 28th, Home Education and Brownies

BSB/V1247 Hybrid worn whilst at home with my near-teen and his friend – both turfed out of school due to the teachers’ strike.  In the evening, I help out at a Brownies Egg Decorating session.  Here’s a young artist and her impression of me in Egg:

 

 

 

 

Thursday 29th, Still Sunny

My plans to wear a woolly Basic for OWOP have had to be trashed in favour of this hybrid.  The top of the dress is New Look 6459 with added waist darts which have been merged into the Basic Skirt Block for the lower part.

This dress looks great with high heels, tanned legs and two months of a lower-stodge diet, but as it’s March I haven’t had two months to prepare!

Friday 30th, Birthday Boots

Out in claret corduroy and Nicotine  as I road-test the new boots I got for my birthday. 

So OWOP, I’ll associate you forever with sunny skies.  You’ve forced me to rethink my wardrobe, I discovered a top I’d forgotten I had and through reading others’ blogs, I’ve got more projects than even in my stash.  Ciao!

Anne Boleyn

“Do you need help getting into that dress?” was the first comment on my new Simplicity 2305.  I was struggling to get my head and arms through at the time.  

It got worse.    

Because it was cold, I’d put the dress on over a long-sleeved base layer in the same colour (black) and the combined effect of the two garments was a certain “Leg of Mutton” appearance in the sleeves.  Now, I have nothing against Leg of Mutton sleeves.  They can have a wonderful dramatic effect, as in this picture, and if I were  very, very evil, I’d have sleeves like this all the time.  But they make this dress look like period costume.

“It’s a bit…. Henry VIII,” continued the familial commentary.

“A jester! You look like a jester.”

“Too grim for a jester.”

“Anne Boleyn,” said my daughter finally.  “You look like Anne Boleyn.”

So there you have it: my new Anne Boleyn dress.  See the pale strip of neck between the dark hair and fabric.  How helpful for the executioner to have a marker on which to land his axe so cleanly… 

So why do I look happy wearing it?  Two reasons.  Firsly, the relief at finishing a project that had me making so many mistakes I feared I was going to blunt my entire collection of seam rippers in the process! Sometimes it’s not good to rebel against pattern instructions.  For example, there’s a reason why a neck band strip is cut on the bias: so that it lies flat.  But no, I thought I’d be cleverer (ha!) and go against the grain, thereby matching the waist band and cuffs.  The result was a wrinkled neck band which refused to lie flat and no amount of hot pressing was going to persuade it otherwise.  Luckily, the mistake was fixable.  Other aspects of the design were new to me and I didn’t find the instructions as plain as I’d have liked them (I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to a beginner).  I usually struggle with zip insertion and here for the first time I was in a situation where the top of the zip opening was stitched closed (the sleeve seam).  The instructions on attaching the waistbands were clear if you know what you’re doing, but I got mixed up between the symbols for the facing and interfacing so some serious unpicking took place at this stage as well.

I’ve been desperate to make this dress since first spotting the pattern in the Stash of the Slapdash Sewist and I was lucky to find for it the finest needlecord (21 wale).  It came from the Cloth House, No. 47 and wasn’t cheap.  So after stumbling in the making of it and then having to get used to its strange silhouette, I am delighted to find that it’s very flattering.  It must be the large sleeves which make the waist appear smaller in contrast.  I can tell that I’ll got lots of mileage out of it so whilst it’s not a perfect dress (see below), the Anne Boleyn is a good wardrobe staple.

Recommended modifications

Are you’re thinking of making Simplicity 2305?  If I were to make it again, I’d ring some changes: 

  • Making the neck wider.  Not plunging as in View B, but just so there’s less material and more collar bone on show.  It might even work in an off-the shoulder design.  
  • I’d extend the sleeves to a 3/4 length, with the cuffs tapering to the shape of the forearm.
  • Although I’ve added lining to the skirt, it stops 1cm above the optional slit on the right hand side.  This still leaves rather a lot of material gripping the knees so I think losing the slit and extending the lining would work better on heavier fabrics, especially if you intend to stride about in it. 
  • Last but by no means the least: I’d fit a longer zip.  Although I’d used a zip longer than the recommended 12″, the dress isn’t easy to get into and the UK size 10 with a size 12 skirt can’t go over the fuller bosom of my dummy (she’s 92cm/36″).  But if the headless thing won’t wear it, I certainly will, and lots.