Saturday, 17 March 2018

My Quest for a Wrap Dress

I like wrap dresses a lot, I really do, they are a girl's best friend, they look good on any silhouette, they cover a little pizza-belly if needed and they just make everybody look slimmer. All I want is to be able to sew some. However, anytime I attempted sewing them, the result was far from satisfactory.

There are several reasons for that: I do not sew with jerseys (yet!) and most commercial wrap-dress patterns are designed for stretch - probably to mask any fitting issues. Also, I fall into petite sizes, so often need to adapt shoulder/ sleeve area and the wrap adds complexity. And even the best indie patterns do not have shortening lines on their wrap dresses.

On my fails, there is this example - faux wrap dress which I wore several times but it is far from being my favourite, and I must admit, the black is hiding some of its imperfections. I have also sewed one in orange which ended in a bin rightaway.

Then there was this one - Burda 107-09/2015 - where I should have read the fabric recommendation and sew from a stretch fabric. And I did not. Disaster assured. Ended in a bin.

So when last year September Burda published a PETITE wrap-dress pattern from wovens (Burda 113-09/2017), I decided to give it another try.

The thing is, the skirt and sleeves are supposed to be cut on biais, which might add to the fluidity of the dress. I had this poly-something fabric which was flowy and at the same time heavy enough. I only had 1.5m of the fabric and the pattern recommended muuuuuch more, mainly because of the bias cut. I played puzzle for half of my evening and somehow managed to cut it out. I had to piece the ties, though, and I must have cut the shoulder-sleeve area slightly too tight (can you guess the result now?)

Contrary to what the pattern proposed, I wanted a very clean finish on the inside, because c'mon, it is a wrap dress and it is not lined. So I added a facing to the waist from a very fine black silk to cover all the seams and I was very happy about that. Apart from that, all the seams were French and the hems invisible. I do not think there was another option on that.
Because of the biais I let the skirt and sleeves hang for two day to make sure I get the length right.

In the end, I still did not like the dress. It does not crease and moves really nicely, it fits rather well on the neckline (for your reference I added 3 cm on each of the biais part!!! the Burda model is wearing a cami underneath). However, the sleeves and armscyes were just too tight to allow me free movement of my arms.
And then there is the fabric. I chose it because "black with something on it" is my go-to colour combination, on the detail view it has a very nice structure and even a little bit of sheen in it. However, when seen from a distance I find the fabric little bit blah and it seems to make me even more pale than usual.
All-in-all, I looked at it from many different angles, wondered what to do with it and in the threw it in the bin :o))

Then, I was offered the Eve Sew Over It dress for X-mas (not that my BF just knows what to offer me, the pattern was on my wishlist). It is a wrap dress for wovens and sewn by many bloggers. I sewed a muslin (normal, no petite sizes here) and was heavily disappointed! A lot of excess fabric in the shoulder area (ok, I am used to this, that's my usual adjustement we are talking about), but also strange tension on the right side of the wrap and sleeve, while this is not happening at all on the left side. I am a strongly right-handed person and my body is probably little more developped on the right side, but not sooo much.
I went back to the blogosphere to see the if anybody else had the same issue only to realize that a vast majority of the Eve dresses were sewn with the flouncy short sleeves, so not special fitting issue on the sleeves required, there you go! Even on me, the pattern fitted rather nicely without sleeves.

For the Eve dress I am still in the muslin stage, but be assured, there is a happy end to my "sew a wrap dress" story...

Saturday, 10 March 2018

New Batch of Tops

From time to time I try to check my stash on the little pieces of fabric which are either remnants from previous projects or small coupons I bought for a bargain and I try to think what I could do with them.

This was the case of this black viscose top. The main fabric is a black viscose crepe with little cute flowers which I tried to used on my first attempt to sew a coat. I have never finished it because of poor fabric choices AND wrong fitting. However, I saved a few pieces of this viscose thinking it would deserve a project in the end. The problem is that nothing really fitted, till I thought about this top I had already sewn before and used some black crepe for the sleeves and binding.
I even kind of like the result, it will be definitely worn in summer.

The other project is not really scrap-busting because this top eats a lot of fabric. It is a dolman sleeves top from Burda, model 133 from 06/2012. I was not sure of the silhouette at all, but you do not know till you try it, so I pushed forward.

And fortunately I sewed a muslin, because it was just way too big. I saw a few of these tops on Burda's community page and they definitely seemed less baggy. In the end, I must have taken in at least 6cm on the front, as well as on the back, then adjusted the neckline and the diagonal. Also, I think I shortened the top by some 8cm. Once this was done, the top was very quick to assemble - all is French-seamed , the hems are biais-bound and the neckline is finished with a little hook and eye.

I think the result is rather cute, well the fabric might be for something, it is a polyester, but very smooth against the skin. It is very different from my other tops, and in a positive way.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Black Pencil Skirt

This is another make from the magical number of Burda 04/2016. I have a few issues of Burda which were definitely more than worth buying and this one is quite particular, I believe it is my 6th pattern from it.

This time I opted for this little pencil skirt which plays a bit of pattern puzzle in the front. In the pictures in the magazine, the opening seems to be rather high, but since it is a normal (not petite) size, it is perfectly ok on me. I found this pattern really interesting, especially in the striped fabric.

My version is an all-year-round one, and surprisingly black :o) The fabric was a coupon which is deep, deep, very deep stash. I think this comes from one of my first trips to Coupons St Pierre sales ever where I was just totally overwhelmed by the fact that there were small coupons, sold at 50% and I was buying without thinking. The fabric was marked wool-blend and I would say there is probably quite some poly in it, however, for the price of 2.50 euros for 60cm, I will not complain.

There is a slight striping on the fabric and that’s how I had the idea to use it on this skirt. I had just enough to cut out the length of the skirt knowing that some of the pieces had to be cut on bias in order to recreate the magazine version. I am not sure if from a distance, the stripes can be really seen, but I believe it changes the way the fabric reflects light, so I think it was important to respect it.

However, due to the fabric content, I felt obliged to line it, especially since I might wear the skirt in spring/summer to the office and that’s where the complications started. The way the opening is created is very clever as it has a lot of support and avoids too much of showing off. The border panel is double-sided which helps to keep the form and makes a nice finish on the inside. But the lining is not part of the pattern and I totally understand why Burda wanted to avoid it :o) As for myself, I did not have much choice so I had to figure out a way to line the skirt and avoid any lining showing off. I used a little remnant of black silk which was not even counted in my stash.

In the end, I attached the lining on both of the borders by hand and let it hang on the skirt hem as I was afraid that direct attaching might deform the skirt. Also, I interfaced all the front pieces even though Burda did not talk about it and I was rather happy I did that, it really helps the skirt to hold the form and limit creasing. The skirt is probably little longer that what I am used to, but with the right heels, I kind of like it and I think this could work well also in a real summery fabric.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Basic and Repeat

2017 was a year of many repeats and there are actually several reasons for that.

I almost stopped buying RTW. I am not participating in any RTW fast of anything because I still prefer buying two types of clothing – lingerie and sportswear – and I do not want to venture into sewing them. I find lingerie very fiddly and the accessories rather expensive and most importantly, I found a brand which fits perfectly, so why bother. I really like nice lingerie but at the end of the day, I alternate between the same model in different colors because it is the least visible under my clothing. And now, that VS ships to EU without charging taxes and high shipping costs, I really do not have a reason to get to sewing underwear.
As for sportswear, this is a different story. I do at least 3-4 hours of sports every week, so my sportswear needs are important. On the other side, I am already very well equipped and get a new t-shirt any time I participate in an official run (4-5 every year). So even though I throw then from time to time, I always have a lot of them. In addition, sportswear being stretchy, the fitting needs are less important.

I am sewing a big majority of my clothes, which means that I also found out what works for me and where I should concentrate my efforts. I of course dare to try new patterns and expand my sewing skills, but for the basics I will not change what already works

It has been some time I have been sewing, therefore, I have already thrown away things I have sewn because they have shrunk in the washing or because they have been worn to death (or because of a poor material choice).

This basically brings me to this repeat dress. It has been made to replace this basic shift. The original version was sewn once just because I did not have a better idea on what to do and I just pulled out a piece of black cotton remnant for that. It was in a regular circulation for some time, the fabric was no longer black around the seams and the back seams were almost disintegrating. (normally, I do not need any back seam or zipper on my shift dress T&T, but I was distracted then and cut out 2 back pieces. I knew that I could not live without it so set out to replace it.

The new dress is made out of some embroidered cotton which was stiffer than expected and at the same time really difficult to iron – a big problem because a basic black dress needs to be practical. I decided to interface it with some black light silk-cotton voile which helped a lot to the creasing/ ironing problem but at the same time added bulk. So I abandoned the idea of lining the dress and just finished the main seams with some bias binding (the original dress had neck facing and I never really liked that).

I also sewed pockets because I was too lazy on the original version and missed them too much. In this picture you can also see nicely the fabric.

And basically that’s it – it was done in just a few hours and hopefully will serve me for some time now.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Brown Wool Skirt

This one was an extremely quick project. I have seen this skirt pattern in my Burda Classics edition a few years ago and I kind of like the silhouette. I was always hesitant on whether it is a right one for me, since I am not the tallest one over here and also I do not have a significantly pronounced waist. After a lot of hesitation, I decided to just sew it and see afterwards. Sometimes it is difficult for me to estimate whether a certain style is suitable for me since I have never had a piece of that particular clothing in the right size, so sometimes my apprehension just comes from poor fitting of RTW clothing.

For this skirt I used an exquisite brown wool-cashmere I bouhgt this year in Thailand. It has just a very nice touch, and a certain glance on the daily light, so even though I was worried in the beginning that it might appear rather granny's, bacause of the fabric, it does not.

I sewed a muslin, because you never know and I do not sew skirts so often. And then, the skirt was done in just a few hours, I could not almost believe it was sooo quick. I even took time to sew the belt and the belt loops properly.

The skirt is more or less a semi circle one, so I let it hang for almost a week, working on another project in the meantime. This is strange, as I am usually very mono-project: start muslin and cutting during the week, sew the maximum on Saturday and do some finishing touches on Sunday. Done. Next please.
I found out that this rhytm works perfectly for me. And it got rather broken by this skirt hanging for a week in the middle of my living room where I could see it every day.

Buuut, it got finished in the end :o)

Friday, 2 February 2018

When it is really cold outside..

I am always chilly. Like anywhere and anytime. I admit that I no longer endure the Central European freezing winters and the Parisian one are just full of clouds and some rain (and against all odds I often miss the time when it is -10, with snow and so sunny that it hurts your eyes, but that's life).

But whatever the place I am, I get chilly. So I always have a few dresses/skirts in wool to keep me warm when times are hard.
Two years ago I sewed these two basics from a Burda pattern 110-09-2015 (grey version and black version) and mainly the grey one just got worn to death (actually, the wool flannel or whatever it is ended up shrinking a lot over the time) so I had to give it away. And I was clearly missing it.

You see, I just had no choice and had to sew it again. This time, with longer sleeves, so that it becomes basically a copy of the black version. (btw: the dress is a pain to photograph)

I do not think I have something more to say about this dress. I love the semi-fitted version, you can wear some jewellery to spice it up and the wool flannel combined with silk is my little bit of luxury for every day. It is just a perfect basic and hey yeah, a girl needs that as well.

I think this is one of the biggest learnings from the last two years' sewing - it is always fun to make unusual projects, challenging sews etc, but at the end of the day, I also need my little grey basic because that's what will get worn a lot on normal days.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Black Blazer

The last project of 2017. Actually, I did not plan to finish it and I did not finish it in 2017. I was not even sure that I would start it. I was done with X-mas presents sewing by the end of November, then I spent a few week-ends out, 2 weeks sick and the rest of my time baking a few hundreds of x-mas cookies. So I woke up the week before x-mas with no special project in mind. The 2017 was a very productive year so I felt like I have sewn everything I wanted to sew and had no special wish for the rest of the year.

 Also, quite exceptionally for me, I did not want to sew a special X-mas dress, as we were going to my in-laws, meaning in the middle of the French countryside where I am always freezing, so I knew I would wear one of my wool dresses with nice jewelry.

A week before x-mas when job got less crazy and all the baking was done, I just pulled out this pattern without overthinking things. I liked it since I bought this Burda (2015!), but never got to sewing it. Now I also had a nice wool/cashmere suiting bought this summer in Thailand I wanted to use. It is a less-formal blazer, which suits perfectly my work wardrobe. I have my eye on another blazer from this year Burda so I hope I will get to it soon.

I like the rather unusual darts, no pockets, and quite short jacket style (I am pretty short, so not a big fan of large jackets, however in vogue they might be). Also, it still creates a nice silhouette and simulates a waist, even for those who do not have it, hahaha. And... the pattern is a petite size, so a great bonus.

As I did not have any pressure on, I traced the pattern on Tuesday, sewed the muslin on Wednesday (in a terrible green old sheet fabric, btw) and got totally psyched out. No adjustments needed in the shoulder area, is that even possible?!?! I shaved 3cm off the sleeves length, added 1cm on each side around the waist (did I tell you I have no waist?) and shortened the front by 2cm - this was pretty easy because there is basically a double dart in there, so a lot of opportunities to incorporate these adjustments.

Oh yes, and I had to explain my BF that no, this green is just a muslin and I am not counting on sewing the blazer in any colour, I just need a nice basic black one. (He loves any colour on me as long as it is not black, oh well...).
On Thursday evening, I cut out everything from the fashion fabric. I was on vacation on Friday and basically, sewed the outer vest and lining during the week-end (apart from preparations for x-mas, of course). I was really excited how everything fitted and I liked it a lot.

However, it stayed in that status till 2018, since I was rather exhausted from the x-mas celebrations and we flew away to Sicily to spend a few vacation days and more importantly New Year's over there. On 2nd of January I was already back at work and life caught up slowly. I finally had some time to attach the lining (on the machine for most of it and by hand on the back hem and the sleeves).

I am very happy about the result: I used more interfacing than recommended and honestly, I could have put it even on the back and it would have worked too. There is no pulling or creepy lines, if I am really picky, the sleeve head could have been slightly larger, but I am really searching for bugs here.

I know this is a basics and that's what is great about this blazer, it will just work with everything.