Category Archives: Pattern/tutorial review

I’m back!

Hello world! So, I had a baby. He’s a toddler now. And we moved to a new condo. And I haven’t been sewing at all (thus the total and complete lack of posting).*

However, I have gotten back into knitting!! In August, I knit a pair of toddler legwarmers as part of a swap. They were awesome. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture. But they convinced me to knit regularly again. I started a hat, and then got distracted by moving and life, but I finished it this week. I was inspired by the ridiculously cold weather that suddenly moved in to Chicago.

It’s the Aesderina pattern by Jane Richmond. Yes, I *bought* a pattern (and browsing through her website, I want to buy all of her patterns)!** It was an easy knit (and I learned a new decrease), and the resulting product is quite striking. I’ve gotten lots of compliments. Best of all, it was pretty cheap since I used less than a skein of Cascade 220 (in Spring Green, I think).

I have also started knitting socks!!  I took a 4-week class at Loopy Yarns. If you’re thinking of knitting socks, I really recommend a class. I learned the knitted cast-on (so easy! and stretchy!) and how to turn the heel. And I re-learned things like ssk and kitchener stitch. I’m not sure I would have stuck with it without a class. I now have 1.25 pairs of socks done. Knitting socks is a bit addictive, I think. They’re horribly time-consuming and a little complicated, but it’s so cool to think that I’ll get to wear warms socks that I knit. Still in progress, but here’s a sneak peek:

I’m on a bit of a green kick.

*It’s true that I haven’t been sewing, but I did sew a nursing cover since my last post. I also knitted a couple of diaper covers and took a crochet class (and never finished the crocheted scarf). But since that was all over a year ago, I’m going to skip over it.
**If anyone is looking for Christmas ideas for me…

Look Ma! I sewed again!

I know it’s been a while, but at long last I finished my Pendrell blouse!

Pretty Pendrell

A few weeks ago, I had it mostly done, and it looked like I would be finished quickly. But then I failed to read directions properly and got mighty discouraged. This is definitely not the fault of the pattern, which is clearly written, or the fault of Tasia’s Sewalong, which was well-documented. No, the fault is entirely mine. I start going and think I know what I’m doing and get into trouble.

In this case, my problem was that I sewed up the right side seam before doing the princess seam on the left side. Big mistake! This made it much more difficult to get the princess seam lined up properly, and I somehow ended up with extra fabric that didn’t line up. So I let it sit. For a long time. I had thought about ripping everything out, but I was afraid that the ripped out seams would show on this fabric. In the end, I left it as is and just trimmed that section to match the rest of my hem. I still don’t know exactly where the bubble of fabric was, but it didn’t matter.

Close-up of the neckline.

Sewing up the side seam too early also made it more difficult to do the armhole binding, but it still wasn’t difficult. I’d never made my own bias binding before and hadn’t even really worked with pre-made bias binding much, but this pattern made is very easy to make my own and use it for the neckline and armholes. I’m definitely a fan of this method.

Based on the fabric recommendations, I used charmeuse for the first time (from fabric.com for $5/yard). I hated working with it (it’s sooooo slippery), but I love the final look and feel.

I wore the Pendrell to work with my Beignet skirt, and in fact I bought this fabric specifically to match the Beignet. It’s a great combination!

 

Whoa. Super blurry picture.

It’s a great pattern with no closures, which is fantastic. I did have to grade down the waist and hips a bit from the size 6 I started with, but it wasn’t difficult. I do have plans to make this again, in View B and maybe even one in View A for summer. And I finished this just in time for Tasia to announce her next pattern (sign up for her mailing list to find out more)!

It’s a wrap!

As I noted earlier, I got a little bored with the pace of Gertie’s Crepe Sewalong. The Sewalong is a great idea, but I’m a fast sewer without much patience, so it just doesn’t work well for me. And the Crepe is a pretty easy pattern with very clear instructions, so I just forged ahead on my own, with lovely results!

 

Crepe Dress in my "Winter Look"

 

 

Mu husband said that this is the most flattering thing I have ever made, and I might just have to agree with him. The contrasting waistband is a definite plus for my body shape (or for anyone with a waist that’s smaller than her hips), and all shades of blue look good on me (lucky thing, since I’m obsessed with blue!).

To top it off, the dress is comfy (with one notable exception I’ll talk about later). The pockets are fantastic and hit in just the right place, and I feel very girly in this dress, which is not something I feel often.

 

Sweater Necessary

 

 

As is usual with Colette Patterns (at least in the two I’ve done so far), the instructions are crystal clear, and I was never unsure what I had to do. I did have one adventure with the seam ripper, but that’s not entirely the fault of the pattern. Although the pattern never said to sew together the back seam and made it clear that you should finish the edges, I just kept thinking that of course I would need to sew up a back seam. And I did. But of course this is a wrap dress, and the back seam isn’t sewn up. I understood that on the bodice but somehow managed to forget on the skirt. Oh well, it worked out.

You may remember from my muslin that the size 2 was way too big in the bodice, even though it matched my measurements. I cut a size 0 for the bodice on the dress and a 2 on the skirt (although a 0 on the skirt probably would’ve worked). The 0 bodice is still a little big, but I think it’s fine. There’s some leeway in this style of dress, since you can pull things somewhat tighter with the wrap.

 

Please ignore my ubiquitous ponytail!

My only real gripe is that I don’t particularly like the seam down the front. With such a tiny, busy print, I didn’t both to try to match, but with a bigger print, you would almost have to, and it would be tough since the skirt front pieces are so big. Also, the bow in the back, although super cute, is a little painful when you lean back in your chair, like I tend do. It’s also a little too high up for the cardigan I’m wearing with it, which is not a terribly long sweater. I guess I’ll need to knit a shrug to go with it if I want to keep wearing it in winter!

 

This is the first piece of clothing on which I serged all of the edges before doing anything else, and oh my goodness, it’s so much easier. I’ll be doing that in the future!

Bottom line: it’s a super cute dress with good instructions. I’m thinking of making the other view in black as a little black dress, probably with the bodice seems taken in a bit.

 

I had to take this picture twice to get the bow close to right. :)

 

 

1 Piece Kimono Tee

I’ve now made my first (super comfortable) t-shirt!

Kimono Tee

The Kimono Tee at work

I used the 1-Piece Kimono Tee pattern from Burdastyle. It’s free(!), and as it says, you cut just one piece of fabric. I used the Slub Poly/Rayon Blend Jersey Knit in Turquoise from Fabric.com. It was my first time working with a knit, and it was a pretty slippery fabric to cut. I think it would have gone better to cut the pattern in two pieces because cutting the neck hole out of the middle on this kind of material was not fun.

The pattern is fine, and pretty simple. I didn’t look at the directions much, so I can’t speak to them. I can say that the small was way too big for me. I used my serger (yay!) on the side seams and had to do them a second time an additional inch in on both sides. I folded under the sleeve ends to hem with a zig zag stitch on my regular machine.

kimono tee

You can see how it's just one piece!

The wonky bit you see handing off on the right sleeve is from the second time up the side seam. I need to fix that.

The fabric was so slippery on the neck and hemline that I decided to just do a rolled hem on both. I only have white serger thread, so white it is. I think it actually looks pretty cute.

Rolled hem

You can barely see the rolled hem because it rolled up so much!

My husband said the white made it look “edgy,” but I don’t know about that. I’m not 100% pleased with the rolled hem yet. I think I don’t have the tension balanced quite the way I want it yet.

The shirt is not perfect, but it’s so comfortable and nice enough to wear to work. Plus, it was good practice on the serger. I LOVE the serger, but the way, and I may just start doing all of my sewing on it. :) I did a lot of boring serging of seams on previously made items this weekend, and I also made a pair of really ugly (but really comfy) sweatpants that I may post here at some point. I also made a dress this weekend (I had a four day weekend, and I spent most of it sewing!), but you won’t see that until I fix some pretty egregious fit issues.

JJ Blouse with Pretty Princess Seams

I finished my last to-sew item of October, the JJ Blouse!

Work-appropriate! Yay!

I can now stop buying clothes from stores altogether! :)

In typical Burdastyle fashion, the instructions were practically inscrutable. I’d read some set of instructions over and over and over again and then just put them aside and wing it.

I especially didn’t understand:

  1. The button area. So, I just looked at lots of blouses I owned and did what I thought made sense, based also on the pattern markings. I think I did that completely right.
  2. The ruffles. So I googled “How to make ruffles.” I think I did them right, too. However, despite ironing the heck out of them, they will not stay flat, so I will be tacking them down.

    Ruffles

    Darn ruffles *will not* stay down!

  3. The sleeve slit. It turns out there was a technique help for this one, but I didn’t realize it until too late. So I winged too. And, although I’m pretty sure I didn’t do it right, I think it looks nice.

    Sleeve

    Completely unnecessary detail, but it's cute.

  4. The collar. I still don’t know what I did on this one, and I know it’s not right, but it mostly works. The only problem is that the collar shouldn’t have come as far forward. It should have ended before the button flaps. Oh well. I realized this after the collar was on, and I really didn’t want to take it off to re-do. Since the buttons don’t go all the way up to the collar, it works out okay.

Lots of new stuff for me here, and more hand-sewing. That’s right–I hand-sewed the buttons. In the end, it seemed easier than machine sewing them. And I think I might be getting a little bit better at it. :)

JJ

Please note the fancy red fashion accessory (aka, bandage from giving blood).

I will re-make this pattern, and in fact I think I have all of the materials I need to do so. Maybe I will have some time in November somewhere? When I re-make, it will be as a shirtdress. Basically, I will just draft the pattern pieces longer. I’ll take out the ruffles, and I *might* try for long sleeves. And I want to add side seam pockets, which theoretically won’t be that difficult. I’m just not sure whether I have enough buttons. I’m pretty excited, though. I’ve been wanting to make a shirtdress for a while!

Mad Men Madison

Oh, I have such mixed feelings about the Madison.

Madison

This dress just makes me want to lounge around outside.

I first heard about this dress when Kathleen had it as one of the options for the October Frock by Friday. I really wanted it to win, but alas, more people wanted to sew the Gail, which ended up being a fairly disappointing dress for me. So, I decided to do the Madison on my own. It was another cheap Burda pattern, so again, I had to print, tape together, and cut out the pattern. And again, the instructions were less than helpful.

I’m verging on happy with the final product. I do think it’s a striking dress. The collar is arresting, and the shape of the dress is very flattering on me (much more flattering than most of the store-bought clothes I wear). And I’ve gotten a lots of compliments on it today at work, even from lots of people who didn’t know I’d made it. And yet, the construction problems really bother me (and I’m not entirely certain that this collar is practical at the office).

Side zip

The really invisible zipper.

The problem really started as far back as the fabric purchase, a stretch cotton poplin from JoAnn, with 3% spandex. I guess I’ve learned my lesson not to buy anything but quilting fabric (and maybe lining) from JoAnn. This fabric just feels cheap. It didn’t help that I couldn’t find coordinating thread, so I bought a brighter teal (I should have gone with a darker color instead because this is way too contrasty for my liking). The thread color didn’t show up in pictures, though, so I can’t point it out.I did, however, find a perfect invisible zip (love the invisible zip!).

Snag number two was not lining the dress. I should have at least underlined it to keep from feeling quite so cheap (and to keep it from riding up when I wear it with tights). I just couldn’t really get my head around how to line with a side zip (and I wanted to try the side zip for the first time), so I didn’t line it.

Cats on fabric

The kitties show me how to create folds on both sides.

One thing I did right (and I was so proud of myself) was to figure out how to cut as much on a fold as I needed to. I had almost resigned myself to having a seam up the back when I realized you can fold both side of the fabric in.Duh! And with skinny pattern pieces like this, it all fit just fine. The other cutting confusion was in figuring out how the heck to cut on a fold and on a bias at the same time. I eventually realized I had to fold the fabric on the bias. (Duh, again!)

I made my share of mistakes on this dress, partly because I didn’t totally understand the directions, and partly because I sewed a really big seam on the left so that the bodice wouldn’t be too big, and I didn’t have a lot of fabric to work with on the zipper side. In fact, when I finished sewing the zipper I found I had a hole, where the zipper was sewn to air. I was able to fix it by pulling over some of the fabric, but it doesn’t look perfect. This fabric really showed holes, so I didn’t want to rip out the whole side of the zipper to sew again.

side view

An imperfectly fixed mistake.

I was also less than pleased with the slit. It was my first, and I think I may have done better to just wing it than to follow the directions. It looks okay from far away, but I’m not thrilled with the way the top-stitching looks up close.

A few things to know about this dress:

  1. You can’t wear a cardigan with it. You just can’t. I wrinkled the collar with my coat on the way to work.
  2. With the right styling, it would look totally Mad Men. And that’s in right now, right? I, obviously, went a different direction on styling, most due to the cold weather.
  3. My collar (both the front collar and the back collar) has fusible interfacing attached to it (of a medium stiffness). The pattern doesn’t call for it, but I think the collar would be *really* droopy without the interfacing. Also, attaching the collar is probably the easiest part of the dress.
  4. The “sleeves” are completely unnecessary. I didn’t understand the directions for them. At one point, the diagram seems to indicate that you should finish the “bottom” but then that’s the side you’re attaching to the dress. And I didn’t bother finishing the actual outside edges because they’re under the collar.
  5. Screen Shot

    I don't understand these diagrams. Maybe it's me.

Lots more pics on Flickr.

  • The pockets, though somewhat complicated to make, are awesome. They’re actually functional, and they look terrific!
  • Bottom line: for $5, it’s a terrific dress. Although I can’t see owning more than one of these, I would recommend it, assuming you pick a better fabric and/or line it, and assuming you don’t make the mistakes I did. :)

     

    Straight on

    The collar was a bit distracting at work.

     

     

    Pants!!

    I made pants!

    Pants

    Look how happy I am to be wearing pants! :)

    I know that’s probably wildly ambitious for a new sewer, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could actually build a wardrobe by sewing. In real life, I wear a lot more pants than I do skirts and dresses, especially in winter. And while I’d like to wear more skirts and dresses, the truth is that I need to be able to make pants if I’m going to move toward a self-stitched wardrobe.

    Sew Convert Bella

    So cute! Photo from the Sew Convert's website.

    Bella jeans

    Photo from the Cupcake Goddess's website.

    I was definitely inspired by the Bella jeans by The Sew Convert and The Cupcake Goddess. Both of them have been sewing much longer than I have, which didn’t reassure me that I could do it, but the pants looked so flattering that I wanted to try. What really sealed the deal, though, was looking at all of the finished projects on Burda’s website. The pants seemed very versatile, and the pattern was only $4, so while I was on a Burda spree anyway (purchasing the Gail and the Madison and downloading the free JJ), I bought it.

    buttons

    It only took me half an hour to pick out these buttons.

    After the run of dresses and the Beignet skirt, I was ready for something new but hadn’t washed the fabric for my JJ yet, so on to pants it was. Although the pattern calls for denim, I wanted something that was work-appropriate. Several of the Burda sewers had done other materials, so it seemed it would work. At JoAnn, I discovered that their denim is pricey (at least pricey for JoAnn), so I bought gray polyster from the suiting section instead. And I spent way too long in the button section but emerged with buttons I love.

    I was pretty worried about making pants after seeing so many disasters on Project Runway. The Michael Kors in my head kept saying: “Watch out for Crazy Crotch.”

    Michael Kors

    The Michael Kors in my head.

    Luckily, I discovered that pants really aren’t that difficult. At least they wouldn’t be with halfway decent directions. Unfortunately, the Bella directions are a little less than clear. Or maybe they aren’t in English. And the tiny pictures didn’t really help. But I guess that’s what I get for buying a $4 patterns. Oh, how I wish Colette Patterns had a pants line.

    Cutting the fabric was no different than other projects exactly that it was fantastic to have 60″ to deal with, and it was nice (from my perspective) not to have to worry about placing anything on the fold. I was a bit confused about why I needed four each of some of the pieces instead of two each (but two each in interfacing for the same pieces), but it turned out that the self and facing were from the same pieces.

    A few things about the pattern. (I didn’t make any changes except for an additional button and my usual avoidance of the blind hem, which worked fine here because my thread color completely blended in with the fabric):

    1. It’s too big. I don’t know if my measurements are just off, or if there’s too much ease, but the waist gapes on these. I’ve seen other commenters say the same thing, so you might want to go down a size if you make these.
    2. Side view

      The waist does not sit flat like it should.

    3. The front pockets are basically ornamental. They’re certainly not deep enough to keep anything in. And they’re a lot of work. And they make the pants bunch up weird when you sit.
    4. Pants

      View looking down when sitting. Dislike!

    5. The button area is just weird. I still don’t understand what the directions were telling me to do, so I made it up. It basically worked, but I ended up with this weird gap under the buttons. I sewed it up (obviously!), but now it looks a bit off.
    6. Gap

      Wacky gap under the buttons. Clearly I did something wrong.

    7. There’s a lot of top stitching on this. You can’t see it at all on mine because of the thread color, but if you use a contrasting thread color, you’d want to be pretty exact with your top stitching.

    By the way, I had to do more HAND STITCHING on this. And I survived. First, I had to repair some buttonholes. I think it was the fabric, but the stitching ripped on a few of the buttonholes when I snipped them open. (I know, it doesn’t make sense to be the fabric, but it didn’t happen at all on the 12 buttonholes for the Beignet.) And then I had to hand sew all of the buttons, since there’s no way to do these kind by machine. I didn’t love it, but I survived. I was, however, definitely regretting adding an extra button to the five called for in the pattern.

    More pictures on Flickr.

    I just ordered denim from Fabric.com (shh, don’t tell my husband) on clearance for $3.99/yd, along with some cute flower buttons, so I will be trying this again. I’m going to try to make the front pockets deeper and lose the pleats if I can figure that out. I’m also going to take a page from The Sew Convert’s book and make the facing a different fabric (which should also reduce bulk). Now that I sort of know what I’m doing with the button area, I’ll try to avoid the gaping hole. While I didn’t enjoy sewing them, I will probably stick with six buttons. Oh, and I’ll probably go down a size.

    Voilà, le Beignet!

    J’adore les beignets et j’adore le Beignet! Although, ironically, if I ate too many beignets, I’d never fit into my Beignet.

     

    Beignet

    Sewaholic's Beignet. Photo by Tasia.

     

    This week, I made my Beignet skirt. I have to say that I was almost put off by the $16 pattern (for one view!), but I kept seeing it show up on Sewaholic during Self-Stitched September, and it looked so cute. Plus, the reviews on Pattern Review are overwhelmingly positive. So, when I had a coupon from Sew, Mama, Sew, I broke down and purchased it.

    Let me start by saying that if I could afford every Colette pattern (I can’t), I’d buy them all, even the ones I’m not crazy about. This is what patterns should be. Maybe I’ve just been sewing too much from the less-than-helpful (but cheap) Burdastyle patterns, but this was a breath of fresh air. To start, the pattern sizes are close to ready-to-wear sizes! My Colette size was actually one down from RTW, based on measurements, but given the lack of ease in Colette, I probably should have just gone with my RTW size.

    Whatever the final result (keep reading!), this was a joy to make. Colette send a whole booklet with the pattern that shows you exactly how to make the garment. This one was rated intermediate, and there were certainly new techniques I had to learn, but I was never confused. The directions were straightforward, and the diagrams were fantastically clear! This is by far the garment whose construction I am most proud of. I didn’t make a single mistake! I never took out the seam ripper! And I didn’t modify anything! Okay, I made two very small changes: 1) I didn’t use a blind hem; 2) I didn’t bother snipping away the self fabric and facing before combining them (which worked fine).

    So, without further ado:

     

     

    Beignet

    Did I mention POCKETS??

     

    It looks a lot less wrinkly in person. :) I really love this skirt. The fabric is Robert Kaufman’s Kona Cotton, and the lining is a cheap red lining fabric from JoAnn. This was my first time doing a true lining (I underlined the Star Trek dress without any instruction). It was easier than I expected, and the lining feels great. Plus, no slip, which is fantastic. The lining fabric was a little slippery, but nowhere near as difficult to work with as the Silkessence I used for the Gail dress.

     

     

    buttons

    Buttons! And belt!

     

    I had to overcome my fear of buttons and buttonholes for this skirt. I had tried a buttonhole once before and gave up in frustration. This time I read the sewing machine manual very carefully and did a test on a scrap of this fabric. And it worked. I think I even lined up the buttonholes almost exactly where I wanted to. It helps that the sewing machine does all the work. :) The buttons were actually much more difficult.  I knew where I wanted them, but it was hard to keep them in place while I lined up the zigzag foot on top of them. But I made it work. And I got to learn how to drop the feed dogs! (I love that I know all of these terms now.)

    The belt was easy, just like making purse straps, although I did sew it inside out and pulled it rightside out, instead of just topstitching like I would have done on a purse. The belt loops were pretty small, and I think if I make this again (and I should, given the $16 price tag on the pattern), I would make the belt loops bigger. I had to turn under by 1/8″ to sew on, which is frankly ridiculous!

    Overall, I am quite pleased and hope to be able to afford another Colette pattern in the future.

     

     

    back

    Professional *and* flattering!

     

    More pics on Flickr.

    Next up: PANTS!

    Checking In (with a lack of finished projects)

    Now with pictures!

    You wouldn’t know if from looking here, but I have been sewing. I promise! I spent last week working on the Gail dress from Burdastyle, along with Grosgrain’s Frock by Friday. I am less than pleased with the result, and the dress is still unfinished.

    Gail Dress

    I look about as happy as I feel.

    I learned four important things on this project:

    1. If I’m not excited about a pattern/project at the start, I probably shouldn’t devote a week of my life to it. I’m no more excited by this dress at the end.
    2. I hate working with silky materials. Seriously hate.
    3. I shouldn’t do a sew-along. I like reading through all of the instructions before starting, which I couldn’t do with this sew-along. Sometimes an individual instruction doesn’t make sense to me unless I can see where everything’s going.
    4. I should never sew when I’m tired. Actually, I already knew that one.

     

     

    Original Gail

    The original Gail dress (what I used for the top)

    Modcloth dress

    The Modcloth dress Kathleen used as inspiration.

    I don’t know if I can possibly recount all of the mistakes I made on this dress, some of which are still there. I started off on a bad foot with this one because I could not make up my mind whether to do the original Gail or Kathleen’s modified version on Frock by Friday. So I spent Monday taping and cutting other Burda patterns instead of working on this dress. I finally decided to do the top from the original version, with an elastic waist like the modified version, so I cut my fabric on Tuesday. I don’t know about you, but I find that cutting takes a long time, especially cutting something slippery like the satiny material I was using for this dress.

    Waist

    What should have been an elastic waist.

    I finally got around to sewing on Wednesday. Sewing up the sides of the bodice and skirt was easy. Next up was the elastic waist. And I immediately made a mistake. Kathleen clearly says: “pull your elastic taut as you sew it to your lace.” But I missed that, and I just sewed the lace onto the elastic and sewed the bodice and skirt onto the waist (with way too little seam allowance). And then I sewed up the back. Kathleen said I didn’t need a zipper if I was using an elastic waist, so I didn’t add one.

    At that point, it looked like a fairly pretty strapless dress (although, of course one that wouldn’t stay up on its own), so I decided to try it on for fit. And that’s when I discovered my elastic mistake because the dress was much too tight to put on. It would have taken a lot of work to re-do the waist (and I HATE seam ripping), and I would have needed a longer piece of lace to do it properly, so I left that and added a zipper to the back instead. I actually like the look of the zipper, which matches perfectly, but I’m sad that the elastic is wasted on this project, since it’s essentially just working like normal fabric.

    Hem

    The flipped-up hem.

    On Thursday, I hemmed the dress very poorly. The slippery fabric made my usual burrito hemming difficult, and I ended up with the hem flipping up a bit in the front. That’s fixable with some seam ripping, but I haven’t bothered to fix it yet. I also finished the lace, using Kathleen’s toilet paper method. That worked well and looks nice, except that I still have toilet paper stuck in the lace. I wasn’t excited enough about this project to try to get that perfect, but I will come back to it at some point.

    On Friday I was excited to finally finish this project. Except that I didn’t finish it. I sewed the lace and facing onto the bodice. That was MUCH more difficult than I had envisioned and led to a lot of quality time with the seam ripper. The problem is that in some place, the lace goes between in the bodice and the facing, and in other places, the facing goes directly onto the bodice, and I had a lot of trouble wrapping my brain around what went where. Oh, and I used a 1/4″ seam allowance for reasons I couldn’t begin to explain to you or to myself. I put the wrong side of the facing toward the body. I kept thinking it didn’t matter because the fabric was basically the same on the two sides, but I forgot about the facing seams, which now show on the inside. Figuring out how to wrap the facing around the zipper was also a head-scratcher, but I did eventually get it right.

    front

    Loose lace. Not a good look.

    At that point the dress was basically done except for buttons (which frighten me). Even with the mistakes, I could have been happy with the project if it was a cute dress. But I put it on and found that the top was completely ill-fitting. The lace was just too loose and didn’t sit flush against my upper chest like it should have. I was too disappointed to go on and just left it as it. I *think* the problem is my too-small seam allowance at the top of the bodice, which left the lace part too big.

    Back of dress.

    Note the zipper. and the missing buttons. And the toilet paper stuck to the lace.

    I do want to finish this dress, even if I don’t know where I’d wear it, so here’s what needs to be done:

    1. Fix hem
    2. Re-do top with larger seam allowance
    3. Remove toilet paper from lace
    4. Add button loops
    5. Add buttons

    Sounds like a lot of work for a dress that has already taken a week! I think the worst thing is that Kathleen ended the week saying: “This dress was so much more easier than I thought.” Sigh.

    Gail Dress

    How the dress *should have* looked.

    I have very nearly completed the Star Trek dress. I haven’t decided if I’m happy with it or not. In any case, it deserves its own post, coming soon.

    And I have cut out the fabric for my Beignet dress, which I will start sewing tonight. It looks fairly easy(!), if I can just get over my fear of buttons. :)

    The Coffee Date Dress (for work, not dating)

    On the last day of Self-Stitched September, I wore my fourth self-stitched piece of clothing! Four days of clothes I made isn’t 30, but it’s not bad either. I may be up for the Me-Made-May challenge after all. Hey, that’s eight months away. I should be able to fill in 27 more days by then. :)

    For Sept. 30, I wore my much-anticipated (by me) Coffee Date Dress, generously offered for free on Burdastyle by theSelfish Seamstress. For reference, it’s meant to look like this:

    Coffee Date Dress

    Photo by Elaine May and stolen from Burdastyle. SO CUTE!

    Pattern Pieces

    You really wouldn't think this would take me four hours. But it did.

    Cut out fabric

    The paper pattern pieces look neater. :)

    The thing about Burdastyle patterns is that you need to print them out and then TAPE TOGETHER all of the pages before you can even start cutting out the pattern pieces. I don’t know if I’m alone here, but that was ridiculously time-consuming for me. I was following Grosgrain’s Frock by Friday instructions for this dress, and she used Monday for taping the pages together, cutting out the pattern pieces, and then cutting the fabric. Those steps took me two evenings!

    Probably the most annoying thing about this pattern (besides taping the pages together, but that’s just PDFs in general) is that there’s no seam allowance. I can certainly understand why Elaine May didn’t add it, and since she is giving away the pattern for free, I’m not annoyed at her! It’s just that it’s very difficult to cut exactly 5/8″ away from the pattern uniformly everywhere (except the folds). And it’s pretty clear to me that in measuring 5/8″ using the side of my tape measure, I probably cut too big (more on that later).

    Once all of the heavy lifting of taping and cutting was done, the rest of the dress was fairly simple. Grosgrain devoted three more evenings to the dress, but I did it in one (long) evening. I did simplify a bit, though. The biggest thing was that I opted to not do the ruffle. I like the look of the ruffle, but my print was so busy that I thought it would be distracting. Cutting out the ruffle definitely makes the whole thing go faster. If I make the dress again, I will do a plain color and will add the ruffle because I do like the look. I also didn’t bother with a sash. It seemed easy enough, but I didn’t have a good contrasting fabric to use.

    So, without the ruffle or sash, I had only one new technique to learn, the all-in-one facing (well, facing in general, actually).  This had me worried, but it actually wasn’t very difficult at all. Again, I followed Grosgrain’s directions, which were very helpful. She also has great pictures, although this one wasn’t 100% clear to me:

    Facing Directions

    She says in the directions not to twist the fabric, but once you're doing it, it's not totally clear which way is NOT twisting.

    The facing was easy to do, but if I make the dress again, I will cut the facing a little longer and will add interfacing. As is, it has a tendency to poof over the bodice. I added a few stitches at the bottom of each armhole to try to keep it in place, but without a ruffle, I had no way to do that in the front. The only solution is to iron it all down before wearing the dress, which worked fine. I found the facing in front to be fairly uncomfortable/itchy. That may be the fabric I used, but it may also be the place that it hits in front.

    Everything else (darts, side seams, invisible zipper) were pretty easy to me this time. I learned my lesson and put the invisible zip right up to the top of the dress to avoid the hook and eye. Grosgrain suggested wrapping it around the back, which I did. And the zipper never fell down, so I think the technique works!

    Back view.

    No hook and eye! No hand sewing!

    Close-up of waist

    My first waistline.

    Back of dress.

    It almost matches up!

    I hadn’t done a waist before this, but it certainly wasn’t difficult. You can see, though, that it doesn’t quite match up in the back. I think it’s close enough that no one would see unless they looked for it. By the way, am I doing something wrong that my invisible zippers aren’t really invisible? Is this because of the fabrics I’m using? Do I need to iron differently? I have no problem installing them, but they look weird to me.

    In the end it’s a very simple dress with a bold fabric. I was very pleased when I finished, thinking I had done a great job constructing it. I ironed it, tried it on, and set it out to wear the next day.

    And then the next morning came, I put it on, and I discovered that it seemed way too loose in the bodice. I had tried on the bodice along the way, but without a zipper it was difficult to tell how big it was. I just figured most of that would be eaten up with the zipper. I was wrong. I think the dress probably looks okay, but I know the bodice is supposed to be fitted, and it bothers me.

    Bodice

    Fuzzy picture of the tent-like bodice.

    To alleviate the problem, I wore it with a structured jacket (thanks, Stacy and Clinton!), which happened to beautifully match my favorite boots (which match everything. Really).

    Full outfit

    I love fall when I can wear brown again. :)

    The outfit looked fine, but I didn’t feel like anything special in it. I spent the day feeling frumpy, even after coworkers said they liked the dress. And the combination of the too-loose bodice and the tight jacket made me have to perform the Picard maneuver all day long.

    Picard

    Very fuzzy screen grab of Captain Picard.

    I would consider making this dress again. It’s fairly easy, especially now that I have the pattern put together. I need to learn to add seam allowance on my own, and the ruffle might add that special-ness I was hoping for. It’s not first on my list to re-do though.