Saturday, September 29, 2018

Via Del Perle Inspired Top

This Via Del Perle  “Lace Insert Blouse”  has been in my inspiration file for a year or so.

  I liked the combination of the utilitarian sweatshirt fabric with lace and silk chiffon.  You can click photo to view them slightly  larger.

When I want to copy a garment, I like to study the pictures and jot down notes on the style details.  I note the  proportions of a seam length or style feature in the photo in relation to the model's body.  And then  extrapolate them to actual measurements on my body. Example: the top ends at high hip. On me that is a center front measurement of 18 inches. The shoulder seam extends beyond the shoulder about the same width that it sits on shoulder, so for me the shoulder seams would be 9.5 inches or twice my shoulder width. Though I did a rough sketch  of a flat pattern with these measurements superimposed on my sloper,  I am  not confident of my  hand drafting skills, and also a  bit lazy. ( couldn't be bothered to look for my Garment Designer software dongle)

But in my beloved collection of  old BurdaStyle magazines,  in the July 2012 issue, I found blouse pattern 114   puffed-sleeve-blouse-072012 , that had the blocky shape, jewel neckline, extended shoulders and gathered sleeves similar to the inspiration top.

It was so easy to trace the pattern, square off the  bottom hem on bodice and sleeve pieces to the appropriate length, add a center front seam and extra width at center back for the  pleat.  And done!


It took a while to  accumulate all the fabric and notions. I purchased  the lace from an Etsy vendor in China. I have ordered both fabric and notions from China before. In my opinion the  cost and quality of  matches what I can buy in the US.
Hmm no wonder…*warning a little topic detour here. Did you know JoAnn fabrics sources 66% of what they sell from China. Because of that they are a bit  concerned about the recent import tariff on China produced fleece yarns and fabric. JOANN-Fabric and Tariffs     "The U.S. lacks suppliers capable of providing the quantity and quality of the products Jo-Ann buys from China"  says a JoAnn spokeswoman.  Guess I should just buy directly from China too, especially since shipping is  really cheap ($3-4 range) compared to US mail order shipping. Why? Because it is subsidized.  postal subsidies for chinese ecom merchants

Anyway the lace had similar flower and leaf shapes to the inspiration lace, and the shapes were in both right and left orientations which were needed for the mirror image layout on the front.

The ribbing came from a US Etsy vendor.  A thrifted XXXL,  medium gray sweatshirt was used for the front fabric.  The separating zipper was purchased on a recent road trip to Fabric Place Basement ( the new Alexandria, VA location). I thought about buying silk chiffon for the sleeves and back, but forced myself to “shop my stash” and used a silk cotton blend I found there.  It is a bit more opaque then the chiffon and better suits my comfort level for a top.

I cut the motifs from the lace and arranged them on the front to my liking. I temporarily glued them to the fabric using tacky non-permanent glue.  Using a long zigzag stitch, I stitched around the edges of the motifs to permanently attach them.

Lace Layout

The last steps were to cut the jump stitches between the lace motifs, dab the cut areas with fray check  and  cut out some of the grey background fabric (in areas above and below the bust) just like on the inspiration top.



Friday, August 31, 2018

Reptile Prints

Reptile prints fabrics seem to be very popular and two slithered (sorry I couldn’t resist) into my stash recently.

The first was a remnant of 1.25 yards,  45 “ wide,  shades of blue,  100% silk surah from Fabric Mart.
And the print was linear, running from selvedge to selvedge. I really should refrain from buying remnants. I spent so much time digging through my patterns  to find just the right one  for the style of the garment I have in mind, but so many had to be eliminated because they required more fabric than I had. It took a bit of searching to find a top pattern that would fit on this print fabric and allow symmetrical placement of the light “stripes”.  

 McCall’s 6515, circa 1993 ( does 25 years old qualify as "vintage"), a sleeveless, V neck dress with dramatic fold over collar. The armholes, collar and front edges are accented with piping. I cut off the dress pattern 8 inches below the waist mark to shorten it to a blouse length. I looked through my scrap bags for a dark navy silk I thought might be used for the piping, but instead I found a perfect matching blue silk left over from a blouse made back in 2007 Blue Blouse. 

It is scary to find out how old some of my scraps are.

I used a combined piping/facing to finish the armhole.  I made the piping with a 1 inch seam allowance. I  applied the piping and  trimmed the armhole opening seam allowance and lower seam allowance of the piping. The other piping seam allowance was left  untrimmed and hand tacked to the fashion fabric, hiding the armhole seam allowance. 

piping and facing in one.

The  style is very unfitted, with no darts or side seam shaping, which resulted in a surprising cool top on a hot humid day. If I had had more of the fabric, I would have shaped the hem edge to be more flattering.

Print two was purchased because I  wanted to add some yellow to my wardrobe.  This silk reptile print, in black and white, has ombre “stripes” of pale yellow. Source:

 I had plenty of this fabric so my pattern and style choices were larger.  I chose a pattern I had made before and really liked to wear.  Previous Make Vogue 1412 view B: very loose-fitting, raised neckline, front extends into back collar, front buttoned one-way pleat, and continuous lap on sleeves.

Vogue 1412 front

Vogue 1412 back

The front pleat in this top allowed me to create a double wide stripe of yellow in the center front. I was so proud of my color placement but when I pointed it out to my DH, he said it looks like I dribbled chicken soup down my front. Sigh! Remember Audrey, you did not  marry him for his fashion/style sense.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Burda 8/2018 Deep V top 113

The August issue of Burda Style arrived  just as we were packing up for our annual week at the beach. I had been looking for a sleeveless top pattern that would fit on about a yard of  fabric, and had vertical design lines to break up a large print. Why? Because I had a yard long piece of a poly/lycra large scale print fabric I loved.   The "Deep V top" 8/2018 #113 met all my requirements. I quickly added the fabric, tracing paper and the magazine to the "sewing" tote. Based on the weather forecast for the coming week, which had rain every day, I packed a lot of sewing projects. I am happy to say the weather was better than forecasted and I only completed this project.

I made some  changes. This is a petite size pattern (17-21) and I am not petite. And elastic waists on tops are not a good style for my body because gathers at a thick waist, make it thicker.   So much easier to deal will both issues by extending  the pattern from waist to hip length, omitting the gathered waist peplum.

Sewing Notes.
  • Pictures on all Burda sites show an invisible zipper applied in center back seam.  There are no instructions for this in magazine and it is really not needed because of the V neck opening and the use of recommended stretch fabric. ????

  •  The General Seam and Hem Allowance section says 5/8 '' allowance on all "seams and edges".   However specific  instructions on applying the seam binding on the armhole opening says to use 3/8”  SA so just be aware only 3/8 “ SA needs to be added on armhole opening. 
  • There is shaping in the center back seam which allows the back  to fit close to the neck and also helps with the fitting of the back armhole to the body.  Don’t be tempted to put the center back on the fold. Fit will be compromised. I actually added more curvature to the top of the seam because  of my upper curved back, forward neck.
  • Armholes are low.  I raised bottom by 1/2 “and could have added more. 

I love the style of this top and how easy it was to sew.  There is  a dress pattern, 112,  that uses the same pattern pieces as the top but also has sleeves.  I am tempted to make the top again with the sleeves.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Closet Orphan - Burda Scuba Paneled Top 11/2017 #119

I think I have made a sewist's version of a closet orphan. A garment you love, but that proves very difficult to pair with other items. It seldom gets worn because it doesn’t play nicely within the context of outfits.  

There are various way a closet orphan get into a non sewers closet. Purchased because it was such a bargain or for the fantasized version of a lifestyle, size or image. The sewer's version can be sewn  for the same fantasized items, but some other things, at least for me, can also contribute.   The first is being inspired by a garment pattern with an interesting style or detail that I want to try sewing, and the second is having the same or similar fabrics, used on the garment in the pattern photo, aging in my stash.    I  really need to think about  the questions below, and give myself  honest answers.

Is it a good style for my body?
Does it fit my lifestyle?  Reminder this is 70 %  office casual for work, 28% weekend, 2% special occasion
Appropriate fabrics in stash?
Are the fabrics in flattering colors. Another reminder, some fabrics are in your stash cause they are colors that are not flattering to you.
Wardrobe versatility  - will it play well with garment in my wardrobe now? Not ones I could sew in the future.

The color blocking  and seaming  of this top caught my attention. I thought the style was one that would work for me. Peplums are okay  and raglan sleeves are okay, but require alterations. Fabric, well because of my ginormous stash, I had the appropriate fabric. Wool jersey knit purchased because "it was such a bargain" (Fabric Mart,  I know there are others out there that bought at the same time, I remember the discussion board enabling). The colors tan, brown, and orange coordinate and used in the light to darker order in the top create a slimmer silhouette. Are they flattering colors for me? Not so sure. Well the beige is the best color to be near my face. Better  than the orange or the baby sh*t brown ( bad babysitting memory) or milk chocolate as I believe it is often called.

I sewed this top back in January. I  enjoyed the process  and seeing the top come together. There were lots of long narrow pattern pieces that tended to curl up because my tracing paper is stored on a roll and evidently has a shape memory.  Lots of seam edges to add 5/8 inch seams to. I altered the back bodice and raglan sleeves for upper back curvature.  I sewed the top together on the  sewing machine using 5/8 inch seams. And only after making sure it fit well and all alterations were done did I serge   the seams to remove extra fabric from the seam allowances.  Before sewing in the sleeves,  I  hand basted them to the garment to match all the points where the color bands meet.  I didn’t use the recommended exposed back zipper, instead opting for a small slit at the neckline with hook and eye closure.

I love the fit and comfort of this top, but the peplum is very flared and ends right at my body's widest area.  I am not real thrilled with the look worn with slim fitting trousers.   Maybe a skirt would look better. A pencil skirt in the beige or brown wool or an orange/ brown tweedy fabric. A skirt I don't have. So for now I will put this top in my closet and I will revisit  it in the fall. Spring sewing project are queueing up.

Furball Photo Bomber


Any sewn orphans in your closet?

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Burda 6456 Blouses - Stripes

I  purchased Endless Sea Embroidered Border Cotton Fabric 45"-Blue & White Stripe ( JOANN Fabrics) to make  a multipurpose tunic style garment for a recent warm weather vacation. Something that could be worn as a swim suit cover up or as a tunic over leggings for drinks /dinner.

 “CheapO” me had only purchase 1.5 yards, so I needed a fairly simple tunic pattern that used minimal fabric.  Burda 6456, with some modifications, met my requirements.   “These Misses' blouses feature a shoulder yoke and a stand collar and can do without a fastening, thanks to a slit in the center front seam! View A, the longer style, also has side slits and simple cuffed sleeves. Sleeveless View B is adorned with flounces in front.

For view A, the longer style, I had to make a couple pattern modifications to reduce fabric usage .

• Eliminated center front seam and made a facing for the slit area of the front neckline.
• Folded out tucks in sleeve head and added a bit of height to shoulder cap. Shortened sleeves to above elbow length.
• Trimmed the embroidered border on the sleeve. 

The finished garment worked beautifully for its intended purposes. Only complaint is the fabric is rather lightweight and when wearing with white leggings I needed to wear a white camisole to eliminate the easily seen  color difference between white legging and my skin at the waist.

Burda 6456 tunic

Burda 6456 - in cruise ship cabin

Here are other ideas for tops made out of similar fabric

 I also cut out and sewed  view B, the  sleeveless flounced version, out of some large scraps of striped menswear shirting. The center front seam is definitely needed for this style.  The bottoms of the flounces are sewn in the center front seam up to the point where the neckline opening starts. Then the flounce and garment front  SA’s are clipped to the seam line stopping point and totally flipped over before being sewn to finish the neckline slit. It is one of those sewing techniques that throws up a mental “proceed with caution” warning for me. One overzealous snip and you have an unfixable hole.

The pattern instructions have you hem the flounce by turning under the 5/8” seam allowance, zig zag stitch close the folded edge and trim off the excess seam allowance close to the stitching.  I prefer non raw edge hems, but thought “why not try it” especially since the fabric was high thread count cotton and the flounce hem edge is on the bias (non-fray). For now the  finish looks fine, but the true test will be how it looks after a few washes.

Burda 6456 flounce hem

Burda 6456 flounce hem trimming

Burda provides the pattern for the bias trim strip but it has a 3/8 inch seam allowance. The sleeve opening has a 5/8 inch seam allowance.  The sleeve opening seam allowance must be trimmed down to 3/8” before sewing on the binding strip.  This is in the instructions, but I never read them until after I look at the seam binding width and say “what the…, this isn’t going to be wide enough to cover the trimmed seam neatly.”

My striped flounce top is a bit cropped because of the size of the fabric scraps I used to make it.  Until the weather settles down ( 70 degrees one day, snow the next) I'll wear it with a sweater. Though I couldn't resist pushing for spring dressing by pairing it with a pair of white corduroy pants.

Burda 6456

Burda 6456 View B

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Quick and Casual

 I am trying to bring my sewing project documentation up to date. Back in Jan, when it was cold and dreary... Oh wait it is still cold and dreary...I felt the desire for some  quick to sew, casual garments to up my weekend fashion "cred". Both sons  and their girlfriends come over for Sunday dinner ( and to use the washer and dryer). The girls always look super cute, shaming me into making more of an effort with my weekend wear.

I took See and Sew B6504 pattern  to the sewing retreat, but had no fabric.  On the giveaway table, I found a length of black and white knit for the top and some purple ribbed knit for contrast sleeves.  It is a quick to sew garment.  The circular seamed  sections seems like unnecessary sewing as they do not add any shaping or pockets like I thought they would. But in the original pattern, Butterick 6291, there is a color blocked version that makes use of this seaming. This top is very oversize . I made it in a size Small after checking that this size still provided plenty of wearing ease when compared to my body measurements.


Garments 2 & 3

Sometime I see the sample garment on a pattern envelope and just fall in love  with the fabric or color combination.  Yep, that how I felt about Butterick 6389.

I found the black and grey abstract print knit at Denver Fabrics. The green knit, used for the vest, was in my stash.  Another quick sew, especially when I left out the invisible zipper in the back of the top, My knit was stretchy enough to get over my head.

Butterick 6389

Only four more projects to blog about. Coming soon.