Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Burda 8280 - skirt #3

More gloomy-day photos, will update when I've hemmed this, wear it, and get DH to snap a pic on a sunny day. Here the hem is still pinned. Thread I used for seams is just a smidge too dark for hemming, am leaving this unfinished until I can get to the store for a better color match.

I didn't have enough fabric for much wiggle-room with the motifs. This is the front, where the pattern goes across the skirt as it does the yardage.

And the back, where I had to do a mirror-image. I would have liked to have done both sides the same, but when you pull from your stash you gotta work with what you've got. There's even a teeny bit of sun damage on this one, here and there, but I'm probably the only one who will notice it.

Best thing... I discovered that I have a sleeveless linen top that is exactly the same shade of blue! Which makes an outfit! Yippee. Or it will be, when I get the right color thread and stitch that hem up.

I made a faced waist on this one, BTW, but am not thrilled with it. A cleaner look, if you want that, but if I ever lose enough weight to be willing to reveal the waists of my skirts this will need to be completely recut to fit, so for me it's a non-issue.

This looks better on than on the hanger ... look forward to having a better photo to show off.

Burda 8280 - skirt #2

I tried this pattern again over the weekend, adding just a bit more room where I needed it. This is an Amy Butler "Daisy Chain" fabric. As soon as this fabric line came out I knew I wanted to wear something made from this, and ordered 2 yds of it. I thought it was going to be a dress (Butterick 5179) but ended up just using it for the border of that one, which left enough of a piece to make this skirt from, too.

I think this will be my new favorite skirt. I will confess I haven't worn it yet. Just finished hemming by hand last night, but today is cool and gloomy (68 feels downright cold when you live in Hawaii!) so I'm gonna wait for a warmer day. Wish I had a better pic, too, but that gloom makes for crappy photos, and Hubbie isn't around to take one of me wearing it. It has a bit more flare than shows up here. Will update when I've got a better one.

Anyway, this fits well, and is a breeze to sew, especially when you don't do a fussy job with matching the print on the seams, as I've done in other versions (Nigella twill coming up!). I made a bound waist, rather than the facing the pattern calls for, and used two smaller darts where the pattern has single more generous ones. Big triumph: my first invisible zipper in the center back seam! Practiced on scrap first, and only sewed one side of the zip in backwards once, so fairly smooth going. I'd show you a photo, but hey, it's invisible, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it's there.

So looking forward to wearing this... hope the sun comes out soon.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Look 6682

The thing about this pattern is I didn't pick it out. I ordered New Look 6688 (a blouse) online, and received this one in the mail instead. Gee, all that lacing and ruffles: so not my thing.

I offered to return it, but the nice folks at Simplicity said no worries, they'd send me the correct one (which they did, very promptly) and to keep this with their apologies.

So, in a moment of metaphysical pondering ("everything happens for a reason") I thought maybe some great seamstress in the sky was hinting I ought to give this a go. And, once I rummaged around in the stash, I thought it might be just the thing for one of the many Amy Butler prints I've indulged in the past year or so, but haven't made anything from yet.
I made View C, that's the one on the right in the middle row, above. It's got a tad more shaping at the bottom than the plain-jane version, without the frills.

The waist is unfinished here. I'm showing this pic to illustrate how RIDICULOUS!!! the ease on this pattern is. The waist size on this skirt (at this point in construction) is 6.5" -- that's six and a half inches -- wider than the waist measurement for the pattern size. Yes, it's supposed to sit "1" below the natural waist," but sheesh. I don't know about your shape, but I have plenty of curves and even I don't spread out that much that fast.

Check out that photo again: where's the waist??? Had to admit I saw this coming. It's a six-panel skirt, so no darts, and gee, that waist taper on each panel piece just didn't look like it was gonna add up to much. And it didn't.

Other sewists have commented on this problem at Pattern Review. Which is severe. It's not like there's a waistband to hold this up. How hard is it to figure out that if you have a "no waistband" design, it should be a snug fit at the waist so it doesn't fall down around your knees? If this had been, oh, 2" bigger I could have skipped the zip, stuck some elastic at the top, and called it a pull-on.

The fabric looks good in this pattern though, so that turned out okay. And, after I went back and tapered in the top 10" of every panel seam except the one with the zip, it fits... better. The tapers I made to get the darned thing to stay up don't match my natural tapers very well, but I'm not going to redo them.

Another issue I have with this is that I added 2" to the length, and it's still not as long as the design should be to really look good. Simplicity/New Look, in my opinion, often miss good proportions by just enough to be clunky rather than as graceful and stylish as they could be. The model in the envelope photo doesn't look thrilled with it, either, like she's thinking "Gee, guys, this isn't your best effort."
Another peeve: the flounce in the back is not as well proportioned to the skirt length as it looks like it is in the line drawing:

Anyway, this one is now done. I finished the waist with a quilt-type double-fold binding, which worked fine. And I'll wear it, now and then. But I don't love it, and doubt I'll ever make it again.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Burda 8280, round one

Another wearable muslin, in process (main seams done, that's it). This is a gorgeous peach French provincial cotton I got on sale at Pierre Deux in Manhattan many, many, many years ago. Flash washed out the color; I've tweaked it almost right. The fabric was going to back a large quilt, but that never happened. I came across it not long ago and thought, "wow, would that be wasted on a quilt back."

I have high hopes for this pattern. American patterns have such a ridiculous amount of ease built in, and are so much too short for me (I'm only 5'8" but that seems to be at about 4 inches taller than whatever "standard" height they design for) that I haven't had much luck finding any that truly work for me, even with adjustments.

So far this is my best bet for a future "TNT" (tried and true") skirt pattern. Burda stated somewhere they design for 5'6" so we're starting out a bit closer in the height department. If I were as slim as their models I'd be all set.

I cut this out yesterday (short length) and stitched up the seams for a test fit this morning. Would have been super fast and easy if I hadn't fussed so much over cutting and pinning and stitching to get the center front and back seams to match for that perfectly symmetrical effect.
Photo above has just the main seams done, no darts yet. I need darts, being a curvy gal, but decided to try pin-fitting them this time. Pattern has one generous dart on each side front and back, but -- inspired by the most flattering/best-fitting skirt in my closet -- I've decided to try two smaller darts each side. That's eight darts to sew, rather than four, and sewing darts is not one of my fave tasks, so fingers crossed it's worth the effort, too.

I also plan to put a lapped zipper in the left side seam, rather than a center back zip. I'll leave that for when I've mastered invisible zippers. I haven't even done one yet, and am not sure I have an invisible zip presser foot for my new machine...

In the meantime, I've encountered a problem. This pattern has a tulip shape, nipping in just a teeny bit below the hips, before flaring out again. It's a subtle shift from a straight seamline, but happens to narrow in right at the spot where I flare out a little. It's not like I have a horrible saddlebag problem, but there's a bit more to my outer thigh than this shape accommodates.

Oh well. That's what a muslin is for, right? I'm gonna rip out the top half of the side seams and eek a little extra there. Could do the center front/back seams, too, if this were a different fabric, but no way am I gonna mess up my perfect match job:
It's only a little bit snug through the thighs, so worst case scenario I can stash this in the closet while I exercise a bit more and eat a bit less for a while. I probably only have to shed 3-5 lbs to take care of the fit problem. (Hah, like that's gonna happen in a hurry! I can dream, though, right?)

After trying this on and discovering the thigh-fit issue, I changed to go do some errands and realized that my every-day all-purpose white chino skirt fits perfectly just where the Burda encounters problems. Aha! I can do a flat measure of the chino skirt and use that to get the Burda to fit.

That's the plan, anyway. If I conquer fit issues, I think I will love this skirt. And if I love it, I'm gonna make a bunch of 'em. Yeah, I know this pattern's been around for years, but STYLE is all about knowing what looks good on you and sticking with it. Fads are just fashion (not the same thing!) and don't interest me much at all.

Am I crazy to think this skirt might finally answer the question of what to do with another length of stash fabric? Specifically, this Amy Butler Nigella twill, an impulse addition to an online buy over a year ago...
I was thinking of doing a plain old pencil style with it, but I think it will really shine with that extra touch of shaping.
This print will be an even bigger seam-matching challenge, and frankly the design is so big I don't know if I have enough yardage to match it. But if I do, it could be truly great.

Butterick 5179 in progress

It says right on the pattern envelope: "fast and easy!"

Oh, so not true, but that's my fault. First, I dithered for about 4 months on what fabric combo to use. These are all Amy Butler, BTW (my obsession continues). Funny, the main fabric was a last-minute choice. I had yard and a half of it, barely enough to cut the main body pieces from and needed wide borders to make it just-above-the-knee length.

It looks shorter than it is because it's so wide. Which I'm kindof okay with. I did baste it all together and try on, because I want it to have plenty of ease in the hips. Headslap moment: for some reason it totally escaped my mind, at that point, to check the underarm fit.

So then I unbasted all the seams and redid them as french seams, and fussed with getting the bias tape finish to the armscye just right (including ripping out one and redoing it), and then fussing with the yoke. Especially in the back, where I had the ridiculous idea to extend the two sides of what should be a center seam (oh, right, I left out the zipper... seriously, why bother when you can pull this on over your head?), lap them, and add two not-functional buttons just for fun:

It wasn't fun, really, getting that all to come out right. But it's a nice touch.

Anyway, after all that, and then deciding it was too long and cutting two inches off the body and reattaching the borders... this was not even close to fast or easy.

Partly because the yoke assembly is a bit of a bear. Yes, they way they do it means you don't have to edge-stitch, which is a nice clean look if that's important to you. But this is my third curved-yoke pattern recently, and the worst yoke assembly process of the lot if you ask me. Won't do it that way again. One problem is it makes any bodice width adjustment at the yoke impossible. Argh to that, because I'd like to move the point where the bodice meets the yoke at the arm out just an inch. Can't.

The other problem is the horrific, mind-boggling, record-setting gaposis at the underarm, especially the front. Yikes, it's awful. How is it possible I missed that when I tried this on and posed and peered and turned in front of the mirror? Note to self: Raise your arms next time, and check what's goin' on under there!

Anyway, if this were just for around the house wear I wouldn't care, but I want to fix it. And that means ripping out the bias tape (again!) and putting in a dart, 'cause there's too much extra to ease away, and then re-doing the bias finish. I've been waiting a week now to collect the fortitude to tackle that, and haven't found it yet.

Maybe this weekend, if I'm not too busy playing with Burda 8280.

Butterick 4985 in progress

I've been inching along on sewing projects, all these days I haven't been posting. It's slow going, a few minutes in the morning at a time: cut something or pin something or sew a seam, or press the little bit I sewed yesterday. But eventually it adds up to progress. Here are some things I've been working on...

Butterick 4985 (not yet hemmed, awaiting buttons/buttonholes)

This is a wearable muslin from stash fabric. You can't see any of the nice details or shaping to the blouse in this photo, so here's the official view (I made the version at lower left, with band collar):

If I ever figure out how to fix the fit issues it will be better than I'd hoped.The print suits the pattern better than I expected, and I'm looking forward to wearing this... someday.

For now, it's back in the UFO pile. I made a bunch of adjustments to the pattern, adding length both above and below the empire seam, and to the sleeve, and increasing width at the bust, and gathering instead of a dart, etc. All that measuring and double-checking and remeasuring took forever, and although it's close to okay (better than it would have been without the adjustments) it still manages to be too big across the back shoulders, and not wide enough across the front.

How the front can be too narrow in the center and still have too much fabric at the front underam area is a mystery. Will probably just have to live with that. And the extra at the back doesn't bother me much. Big problem is where to find room to have enough overlap at the front for buttons...

Got this far about a month ago and set it aside to come back to in a bit for a fresh take on problem-solving. For now, I have other things in the works. I do want to get this right, but have no enthusiasm for going futher at the moment.

What I learned from this is that my bust measurement may match the pattern size exactly, but I need to cut a size smaller at the upper back, and add an inch to the center front. Too late for that with this one, unfortunately. I'll come back to it someday, because I have some luscious Kaffe Fassett fabric to make this from if I can get the fit right.