Saturday, May 30, 2020

Bias T Shirt Dress - Trend Patterns

I find bias cut garments intriguing and challenging.   I love the drape and flow of bias cut fabrics, but they do tend to cling to the curves/bumps of the  body wearing it.  My body shape fruit equivalent  is a pear, so an all bias dress tends to emphasize the size difference between my top and bottom.

What appealed to me about the Bias T Shirt dress was the T shirt type top with bust and waist shaping, merging into bias cut panels forming a drapey skirt with irregular hem.

The Bias T shirt dress pattern is available as a printed or PDF pattern from  Trend Patterns  I purchased the PDF pattern, which at $27.37 USD is  expensive.   Especially when I had to print and tape together 70 pages.  The few bloggers I found  that had made Trend Patterns had been gifted the patterns, and the posts were either  pablum  or posies.  There were more pictures on Instagram and they looked pretty good, so I decided to splurge.   I was saving on  gas, restaurant meals and haircuts.  Why not spend  money on  patterns.  

PDF patterns,  I don't mind putting them together, which is what seems to bother most people. What bothers me is the heavier weight of the paper used in the typical home printer. It makes the pattern pieces  difficult to pin to the  fabric without distortion,  and hard to fold and store.  Yes, I could trace the pattern onto tissue  paper. But that is another step I am not willing do,   I have bought A4 sized  tracing paper to try in a home printer, PDF printing  experiment in the future.

Some vexations,  I had with this particular PDF pattern.

Size Differentiation. The sizes were not layered in the PDF so that you can choose and print only the size(s) you need.  The pattern pieces were differentiated by pretty colors for each size with minimal labeling. I would have preferred different line styles (dots, dashes and combos of these).  I printed the pattern out in grey scale not wanting to use my precious colored ink. I had to rely on the limited size labeling and follow lines carefully through spirographic  type intersections  when cutting.

Dart markings -  except for the smallest size, there were no lines, just starting points at the seam line and a point buried in a crowd of  overlapping circles of  X's, indicating dart apex.

I chose a mini navy /turquoise check material from the deep stash. It is a rayon blend of some sort.  It was one of the few pieces of drapey fabric in my stash with the right weight, width, and length.  This pattern takes almost three yards of 54-60 inch fabric.

The pattern has large irregularly shaped pieces that must be cut in a single layer. I moved furniture and cut my fabric out on the floor.  A bit hard on the knees and my furry friends thought it was play time. Though  I just realized they have a harder time destroying the heavier printer paper patterns than they do regular  tissue paper patterns.
Pattern Layout

Assembling the pattern and cutting out the fabric took the most time.  The sewing goes quickly. There are good illustrations showing how to assemble the garment pieces. Other construction, such as sewing in the sleeves, is mentioned in a brief sentence with no illustrations.   There is one pocket in an angled skirt seam and a zipper in an angled seam in the back. I inserted the zipper but when I found I did not need to unzip it to get the dress over my head (combo of bias fabric stretch and small bust), I took it out.

The finished garment measurements are given on the pattern instructions.  I selected a size 14 with the garment measurement matching my measurements, assuming the bias would have some give.  I could have gone down a size smaller.  I took  in the top on the side seams, but decided not to take in the skirt on the bias seams because size grading allowances was different on adjoining pieces.   I also reduced the shoulder seam width about 5/8 inch.  When I tried on the unhemmed dress, the longest point of my skirt was almost to  the floor. I shorten the dress by trimming   1” off the hem edge and  using  a larger hem allowance to finish the bottom edge.  I  ruched up the sleeve ( zigzagged stitched over a piece of elastic)  to give it shape and shorten it  a bit . 

My beautiful Mother's Day bouquet was on it last legs the day I photographed the dress, so I used it as a prop to memorialize it.

Trend Patterns Bias T-Shirt Dress

Trend Patterns Bias T-Shirt Dress

I like the dress very much. It is comfortable and  the skirt is very  twirl worthy. I also wore the dress that day for the  backyard graduation ceremony we staged for  DS #2.  College was a challenge for him for many reasons, but he made it to the end,  and was so looking forward to walking in the graduation ceremony and celebrating with classmates and friends.   Covid 19 changed that. We made him wear the university cap and gown his girlfriend wore last year. He  walked around the back yard while we played the  "Pomp and Circumstance" graduation walking march on a cell phone (that music makes me tear up every time I hear it).  His Dad presented him with a diploma and we all hooped and hollered and  tossed confetti. It buoyed his spirits considerably.  As did the virtual  graduation party he had with his friends later that evening.

Ah,  the memories we will have from the spring of 2020. 

Friday, May 1, 2020

BurdaStyle May Issue Makes

The May issue of BurdaStyle arrived last week and it had so many patterns for warm weather tops.    Sleeveless or short sleeved tops can be quick to sew.  They can often be made from large remnants of fabric left over from a previous project. (Does using up remnants count as stash reduction?)   And they are great worn on their own or under a  jacket or sweater when the air conditioning is turned up.

 I loved the first top because of its trapeze shape and asymmetrical, contrasting flounce trim.

I made it in a remnant of turquoise sanded silk from this project 70s-style-updated 2007   with a navy silk/lycra crepe flounce.  The flounce is an unhemmed bias cut band.  It takes time to  carefully ease the flounce band at the seam allowance so that it lays flat at its outer edge around the curved bottom hem or when turned back around the armhole. It took me a couple of tries to get it right.  The arm hole and neckline are finished with a combination or “all in one” facing.

 The Burdastyle instructions for this top include sewing an invisible zipper in the center back seam,  in one of the earlier construction steps.  Not having an open front or back seam  requires that the “all in one” facing be completed by sewing the shoulders seams.  This is a fiddly method and there are easier ones you can use if the center back seam is sewn together last. I always need a refresher on dealing with an All in One facing. Here are the YouTube videos that I used this time.

How to sew an all in one armhole and neckline facing  shows how to finish at shoulder seam.

Install an All in One Facing - Threads Magazine   the two easier methods that can be used if there is an open center back or front seam.

I  used the easier method because I did not put in a back zipper. I did not have the correct color or length in my stash and felt it might be a bit heavy for the fabric.  After finishing the facing, I sewed up the center back seam with a small slit at the neckline. And a loop and button so I could pull the top over my head.

Side View - really low armhole, will be adding insert

BurdaStyle 5 2020 120

Top # 2 is style 115 from the same issue. It is sleeveless with a partially gathered  front neckline. The back has a cut on extension that forms the sleeves, attaching with a raglan type seam to the front.  I used a remnant of silk print left over from this project. strong-shoulders 2009   I did make a quick muslin of this pattern because I have all kinds of high back and shoulder anomalies and was not sure what alterations would be needed.  Turned out my normal addition of  5/8" to high back length worked  fine.

This top has a slightly dressy vibe because  of the high neck.  

It is perfect for looking polished in video meetings from the waist up,  worn with comfy  "work at home"  leggings.  And if I ever get to return to the office, it will look nice worn with  more professional looking pants or skirt.

BurdaStyle  5 2020 115

I hope everyone is hanging in there.  I am looking forward to the end of self isolation and getting a haircut. My son made a comment about my hair  looking like  I should be competing in the Westminster Dog show. Woof!

The  #sewyourwardrobebasics  theme for May was Tops.  Check out Stefanie's StyleArc top and other sewists' makes at  Sea of Teal

Saturday, April 11, 2020

2020 Easter Dress

When I was a child, the spring Easter Holiday always called for a new dress and shoes for church.  Many years, my mother sewed matching dresses for my sister and I.  Poor sis, she got to wear both her dress and then my hand me down dress.   Since I finished my most recent project, a dress, just before the holiday, I am calling it my 2020 Easter Dress.

It was made in response to the Instagram #yellowdresschallenge, a call to sew up and post a finished dress from Vogue pattern 1671 to be eligible for  prizes from Fabric Mart and The McCall Pattern Company. Though inspired by the yellow dress on the front of the pattern envelope, the fabric did not have to be yellow  or purchased from Fabric Mart to be considered.  

By coincidence the fabric I picked from deep in my stash had a Fabric Mart label.  It was 2 yards of silk corded Olive Turquoise print purchased way back in  May 2005.  The trim fabric was 5/8 yard of what I think was a rayon metallic blend. 

After cutting out the garment pieces, the fabric felt too light for the fitted, darted  bodice, so I underlined it with the Sheermist batiste   I really like this fabric for underlining. I get it from Hobby Lobby, either in store or online. The store carries more colors(like red). The dress is also lined in Bemberg Rayon.  For an "easy" rated pattern, this dress requires a lot of work.

I started the dress back in March. It got set aside when I was asked to make masks and surgery caps by FDIL #2. She works at a local hospital and often must take X-rays of patients with confirmed Covid 19 virus. She wear SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus), not home made masks, when she does this.   We are all very proud of her, but also concerned for her mental and physical well-being. 

It has been so long since I wore a dress with a long flared skirt silhouette. The body of the shantung fabric causes the  skirt to  maintains it shape really well. Very twirl worthy. I wish I could wear it to a party or special evening out,  but as we all know, not at this time.  I could wear it for our in-house Easter dinner, putting it on after I  finishing the cooking.  But I would feel like the impeccably dressed mom characters in the old TV shows  Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best. And getting my DH to dress up might be tough.

So for now, I will wear it to prance around the back yard, in windy, 55F, weather to take pictures. The neighbors are highly amused.

Keeping the hair and pollen  out of my eyes

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Working from Home

I am working from home, like many other people. As per company communications, I will be doing it for at least the next two weeks.  I personally do not like to work from home.  I have always enjoyed sewing and dressing for a corporate work environment, and interacting daily with “in the flesh” people. At home, there are too many domestic distractions.  Pets, sewing projects, my DH wanting to talk about the inspection and repairs on a rental property we just purchased.  Also, my neighborhood is a black hole of Verizon phone coverage, so I must use the house phone for conference calls. Good thing we still have a house phone.   And how is it that coworkers with 30 plus years with the company have never used Skype or don’t know how to share their screen on a Webex?  Yes, I am an old grouch!

How nice that I had just returned from a sewing retreat (gathering size = 10 ) and had a new, appropriate for working from home, top to cheer me up.  McCalls  7842 “Semi-fitted, button front shirts have sleeve variations and shaped hemline.

I made view C,  the multi fabric version, in coordinated plaids.

1. Red plaid from a thrifted XL size shirt
2. Black linear plaid from Vogue Fabrics
3. Black red plaid from deep stash

I found the perfect red plaid to coordinate with my black plaids in a thrifted men's shirt. An XL size provided enough fabric for one front  and the upper back.   

All that remans

Pattern construction instructions are good. Only issue was that there did not appear to be a matching square on the front pattern piece for the square on the lower edge of the back overlap.  I assumed it was supposed to match with the seam line and this appears to have been correct.  The back overlay is lined and then topstitched to the  rest of the garment,  1 inch from finished edge.  This resulted in the front points curling back .  I tacked the overlay to the rest of garment closer to the edge using the machine hemming stitch.
tacked overlay

The front placket is designed to hide the buttons, but the way the pattern wants you to construct it results in 6 layers of seam allowances that must be dealt with at the front bodice placket seam line.  I chose to use an easier to sew and construct hidden placket. The front right-hand side placket is double width and folds back over itself to hide the buttons.
Hidden bucket placket

Surprisingly there aren’t a lot of blog posts or reviews of this pattern online.  One good one is Pati Palmer’s, which features details of a full bust adjustments.  She also made a different hidden button placket.

Palmer Pletsch

McCalls  7842 

McCalls7842 back

Oh,  and other domestic distractions; my camera, great outside light and the urge to blog.  Now I’ve really have to  get back to work.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Feb BurdaStyle Duo

I loved the Feb issue of Burdastyle.  It had so many styles that appealed to me.  These two were perfect for an upcoming vacation.

The blouse is cropped in front, and longer in back.  The pants have deep waist pleats, panel seams on the legs and welt pockets.  I used a silk print  ( Anna Sui, FMF, I think) from deep in the stash for the top and a lightweight wool gabardine with a lot of drape for the pants.

"Wow it's windy" Copy the Magazine pose
pocket detail BurdaStyle 106 pants
The BurdaStyle instructions for the welt pocket were really difficult to understand, but what really surprised me is that none of my sewing books (and I have many) had any information on making this type of pocket, with a single vertical welt .  Neither did online sources.  An ancient issue of Threads magazine saved me.  There were detailed instructions in Issue 75, from 1998, in an article called Pant Pattern Upgrade  - Use menswear techniques to improve the comfort, appearance, and quality of any basic pants pattern, by the late Mary Ellen Flury.  I  extended the top of the pocket pieces, as suggested by the article, so that they were caught in the  waistband seam to prevent sagging and pulling.
Threads Issue 75 -Pant Pattern Upgrade

This is a fun and comfortable outfit to wear. The pant legs are a voluminous and taper quite a bit at the hem. There is a dart up the center back leg, starting at the hemline, in addition to the seaming on the front legs.The hemline is so tapered, it is finished with a facing rather than a turned up hem. A friend calls them my "baggy pants".

The vacation was in AZ,  where it is a felony to steal or kill the state's iconic saguaros cactuses.  In this case the Airbnb owners built around it. And we were very careful when driving the car into the garage.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Ogee Oscar - Vintage Vogue 1678

I recently participated in a Instagram vintage sew along #joyvivsewvintage.  The patterns had to be from 1995 or earlier.  Well geez, that was not a problem, Back in the 90's   I  was working in corporate America, where the work wear was still dressy. I sewed many of my work suits and dresses.  But I also had two young children, so a lot of pattern and fabric purchases never got used and went straight to the stash.

 I dug out this  1995 Vogue designer pattern from Oscar De La Renta.

Vogue 1678
I have long wanted to sew it,  mostly because of the challenge of the shaped inserts, the ogee or parenthesis shaped inserts to be more specific, especially the ones on view B yellow dress. About the same time, I was making this dress, DH was watching a woodworking show that described the serpentine, extended curve as an Ogee curve.  I googled Ogee on a favorite online fabric site and pages of decorator fabrics came up.  The ancient tile in our bathroom  has a similar pattern and when I googled “ogee tile”, a picture of it popped up on the screen.  Who knew?

Vogue 1678 

I gave a lot of thought on how I would seam the pieces to get the perfect curves. I used a technique based on one I had used for applique quilting many years ago, when  I made several Baltimore Album quilts.  A high level description of the technique would be to turn under the seam allowance of the curved edge using a template, Hand applique/tack the curved edge to the background fabric, turn to wrong side of garment and machine stitching on the seamline. Remove applique/tacking stitch.

If you have access to old Threads Magazines, these article  describe similar techniques.

Easy Applique for complex shapes    Beatriz M. Grayson        60 AUG/SEP 1995 69
Add Style with Graphic Fabric Insertions   Pamela Ptak        113 JUN/JUL 2004 48

For my template I used freezer paper.

1. Copy the pattern piece for the  curved shape including seam allowance onto freezer paper.
2. Iron waxy side of freezer paper to wrong side of fabric.

3. Stitch a scant 5/8 inch from cut edge through the paper and fabric. This line of stitching acts both as stay stitching and the seam allowance  turn under line.
4.  Remove the freezer paper in the seam allowance. This should be easy to do as the stitching perforates the paper.
5. Clip seam allowance of fabric  on curves and press back over the edge of the freezer paper along stitched line.
Wrong side of dress front with seam allowance pressed over freezer paper template

6.  Lay piece on top of adjoining fabric piece, along seam allowance line . Hand stitch the two pieces together along seam line just catching a tiny bit of the turned edge. I use a fell stitch.


 7. Flip top piece over so right sides are together, exposing seam allowances.  Remove remaining freezer paper. Sew along seam line just a smidge to outside of the stitching that marked the turn line, on the garment side of the line.
Sewing seam to outside of blue turn line stitching. Orange stitches that cross blue thread are the fell stitches 

8. Remove basting stitches

The fabric I used is actually older than the pattern. Both the black and white tweed , and the purple wool crepe were purchased in the early 80's at a place called Surplus City in central PA, where I lived at the time.   You are probably starting to guess at the age and size of my stash. Yes, it is scary.

I used a size 14 above waist and 16 below.   I took some length out of the bodice above the bust, probably the space intended for the shoulder pad.  I redrafted the sleeve head to fit the resulting armhole better.   I add an insert at the neckline to add interest and fill in the neckline. It was actually easy to create the shape. I laid view A  front pattern over view  B front pattern and the resulting difference between the two  necklines made a great Ogee shaped insert. Same for the back pieces for the two views.

View A of this dress  comes down the runway in this YouTube video   OSCAR DE LA RENTA Fall 1994/1995 New York at  6:21 min. It is mini length, which make it look a lot less matronly than it does on the pattern envelope. And the hat it is worn with is outrageous. It was interesting seeing all the super models of the time Naomi, Helena, Yasmin when they were so, so young.

Vogue 1687

Vogue 1678 side view - weird shape
Vogue 1687 back

Monday, February 3, 2020

Wardrobe Basic - Denim - Black Flair Jeans

Back in December,  Stefanie of  Sea of Teal Blog announced her  Sew Your Wardrobe Basics challenge for 2020. Every month she publishes a theme or a piece of clothing she wants/needs in her wardrobe, along with  inspirations and pattern ideas …  and she  invites anyone to sew along.

January’s theme was denim. The most worn denim pieces in my wardrobe are black denim.  Not only jeans, but I even have a black denim jean jacket. Black goes with so many garments in my wardrobe.  I was getting tired of the skinny and straight leg jean styles that I have so many of.  This challenge prompted me to add a new style of black jeans to my wardrobe: flare leg.  I have sewn jeans before, but they never seem to fit as well as RTW.  My favorite pair of flare leg jeans is a pair from the brand  Nic and Zoe. The fabric is a heavy 95% cotton, 5% lycra  fabric that may even be a knit. It is hard to tell. They fit well in the butt and are very close fitting in the hip and thigh area.

 I  copied the N&Z pair. There are many ways to copy Jeans. Just Google it, or look on YouTube and chose your method.  My first attempt, using the rubbing  method, resulted a slightly wonky looking pattern.  The second attempt,  pinning paper (Dr's examination table paper, Thanks Jane!)  to the seams of the pants, resulted in a much more accurate pattern.

copy of  N&Z  pant pattern
 The fabric I chose to use was   Telio Atwell Denim Twill Black Fabric.  Contents 65% Cotton/32% Polyester/3% Lycra Spandex.  Description: This medium weight (6.5 oz. per square yard) denim has a soft hand, a nice drape, and about 15% stretch across the grain for comfort and ease.

This fabric had a lot more stretch that the original pant fabric and I was a bit  apprehensive to do jean style top stitching on a stretch fabric.  So I added fusible, straight of grain, seam reinforcing tape (Japanese Tailoring tape) to seam lines to prevent stretching  specifically on the back yoke, the front pockets, and the center front zipper area. 

Fusible tape on  yoke seam

Leather trim on back pocket.
  I faced the waistband with elastic, something I saw in another pair of RTW jeans.  I have a problem with jeans' waistbands stretching out which  means I am constantly tugging my jeans up all day. I stamped the elastic with an "a" for Audrey.

Waist faced with elastic.

I am very happy with the fit.  Only problem is the fabric seems to be a big lint attractor.

I even dug the black denim jacket out of the back of the closet, a Burda Style magazine pattern that  predates my blogging, so at least 15 years ago.

Who picked this paint color? I need my shades!