Friday, December 24, 2010

Catching Up

My holiday preparations are under control and I have some time to answer reader questions.

There were a couple of questions on the Burda Curved Inset Jacket

Carolyn asked “Do you think if you had used 5/8" seam allowances on the curves that it wouldn't have lain as flat when the curves were cut? It's not that I'm disputing Burda's instructions, but rather thinking of how this would work with a big 4 pattern? Thanks

Response: I do think that when sewing a curved seam where you have to join an outward curve to an inward curve, a narrower smaller seam allowance eliminates extra fabric that has to be clipped, pinned, and manipulated while sewing. It also results in less fabric to iron flat. So all in all the narrower seam allowance probably does aid in achieving a good final result. In doing some research on your question. I found this on the Simplicity web site.

When is the seam allowance not 5/8"?
On very small pieces such as doll clothes, on small detail pieces such as belt carriers and in larger areas where you would need to trim away the excess seam allowance; we typically reduce the seam allowance to 3/8" or 1/4" to make your sewing easier.

However, I have rarely see seam allowances less than 5/8” on the big 4 patterns. I think reducing seam allowances may be one of the things a sewist will do based on their experience and confidence. It took a while for me to get away from the comfort of the 5/8 inch seam allowances used by the big four pattern companies, because that is what I “learned” in my early sewing experiences.

Barbara asked, "Did you interface all the jacket pieces? "

Response: I did not interface the jacket back or sleeve pieces. I did interface around the back neck and armholes openings as well as the sleeve and back hems. Whether to interface the back jacket pieces and sleeves is something I mentally mull over every time I make a jacket. The fabric weight and drape, and the style of the jacket is usually what determines if I interface all the garment pieces or not. I don't always make the best decision and have been know to interface pieces that are already sewn together.

Carolyn also asked about the closure on the Kwik Sew Fur Coat .

Response: There is an in-seam button hole in the seam between the collar and the jacket front. The button I chose blends in with the fur so well that even my son, who was standing 5 feet in front of me, commented he had trouble seeing it.

"42" commenting several days ago on an older post Bunka - Fundimentals of Garment Design asking “I am a little curious (not important, but fascinating) as to why so many Americans and Australians are using and in fact very much in love with Bunka Sloper? (an Asian sloper) What are the benefits of possessing this sloper? I myself are Chinese and I never knew that is it a treasure until I learned from you all through blogging.

Response: For me the motivation to use the Bunka sloper is that it is the base used to draft all the wonderful garments featured in the Ms. Stylebook and Lady Boutique magazines. And the sloper drafting instructions, which are diagrams rather than words, can be understood without reading Japanese. There are pattern drafting books available in the USA, but the garment styles included in those books are basic, limited, and are of the time the book was published. As you guessed the Bunka Asian sloper (either from the preprinted magazine insert or drafted from my measurements) still needed some changes to fit my taller, middle aged, non Asian body properly. But after making those changes, I have a sloper I can use to draft the magazine patterns.
i hope that answers all the outstanding questions.

My last bit of sewing this year was my holiday party dress. This year the dress was black. I don’t think I have ever had a black dress. I never been convinced by the Little Black Dress (LBD) marketing hype. I associate black dresses with somber occasions like funerals, or the uniforms worn by female members of choruses or orchestras. So I was a little startled to find myself gravitating towards black this year. After a little introspective thinking, I believe my color selection was driven by my state of mind and some stressful life events that occurred in Nov. and early Dec. when I was planning for the holiday parties. We were dealing with unexpected surgeries required by an elderly family member. Car repairs, insurance and legal hassles resulting from my car being hit (no injuries) by an out of control, non insured, non licensed, ESL driver. And a heavy work load. Fortunately the 2nd surgery was a success, the insurance company settled after 7 weeks of negotiations, and the work project was a resounding success.
The pattern is from a 2000 holiday issue of a Russian language version of Boutique pattern magazine. The dress is fitted, with waist inserts, cap sleeves, a scooped front and V back neckline.

I liked the fitted silhouette of the dress and came up with several options for the neckline trim. It was shown with the neckline trimmed with fur. I had an old mink collar I considered refashioning into fur trim similar to that shown in the picture. As another option I considered adding neckline flounces in a sheer sequined fabric. This idea came from a picture of a dress worn at the Melbourne Race posted by Gail
But in the interest of time, what I ultimately ended up using was a premade trim of faux jewels and sequins. It came in a curved piece that was pretty close to the dress front neckline curve, and straight yardage which I used on the back neckline. The trim was on sale for about $4.00, probably because the faux jewel fad is fading or perhaps over, but it worked for me in terms of cost and ease of application. I hand tacked the trim in place so it will be easy to remove and replace with a different trim.

The dress fabric is a lightweight wool crepe and it is lined in red and black print silk twill. It was very easy to accessorize with sheer hose and strappy sandals.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy holiday season, whatever holidays you celebrate! And a wonderful start to 2011!


  1. Your dress is beautiful! I love everything about it.

    On another note, I just learned how to sew curved seams at school this past quarter. In the industry, they always sew plain seams with a 1/2in SA. We had no problems sewing a very tight curve. A lot of the students had never sewn before. I think it might be harder to sew them with a larger SA, but people must do it all the time because in costume design, all seams are sewn with a 1in. SA for fitting.

    Happy Holidays!

  2. Thanks for answering my questions! I really appreciate it! And I love, love, love the dress. I think you chose the appropriate embellishment for your occasion. You look classic and elegant...hope you had a good time!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  3. You look amazing!

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Amazing. a Beautiful frock on a beautiful lady.
    Have A Merry Christmas

    Mary Ann

  5. Your dress looks absolutely stunning!
    A very merry Christmas to you!

  6. As always, you did a fantastic job and the dress looks perfect on you.

    Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

  7. Как красиво на вас платье!!!Просто восторг!

  8. Lovely holiday dress! I think you chose the right trim. I have to ask, where do you find your Asian and this German pattern publications? I continue to be impressed and to learn from your sewing adventures, look forward to seeing your future garments.

    Sounds like life issues are being taken care of. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas!

  9. Woo hoo! Lovely and festive LBD with a gorgeous back view. Great thinking on the removable trim, the dress is too good to languish as just an occasional party frock.

    On curved seams, I like Sandra Betzina's approach. She has you staystitch a 5/8 SA at 1/2" from the edge, and clip to the staystitching. This makes it very easy to align two pieces together perfectly.

    Merry Christmas!

  10. Oh your holiday dress is bombshell gorgeous! And it's good news that the surgery, car issues and work project turned out well. I hope things stay smooth for as long as possible! And I enjoyed your clear answer to the question about the Bunka sloper. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  11. What a gorgeous dress! Of course, you show it off to perfection ;-)

  12. Very stylish! Hope you had a good Christas and best wished for the new year.

  13. Very pretty dress! Hope you have a happy holiday!

  14. Gorgeous dress! I think the trim is perfect for a festive occasion. I'm not much for black either, but I have a faux fur shrug that really needs and LBD, so I will get around to one eventually.

  15. The black dress turned out stunning! I recently saw the movie about Coco Chanel's early life and one of the things she said was: "Black is the only color that sets off the eyes." I think this dress looks lovely on you, and I definitely like the sparkly trim you used!

  16. You look marvelous in your elegant dress.

  17. You look great in this dress, very elegant and becoming. Great pattern, perfect tailoring and trimming.

  18. Just like to say that you have a natural elegance about you--as you display your work. I too appreciate when a seamstress/designer shows her work on herself. It makes it more real aned inspirational for us. Thank you for all your sharing.

    I know it may seem a drag sometimes but we appreciate your work, your ideas and even the occasional disappointments. We are all human! You inspire me to take more difficult patterns, techniques!