Saturday, January 2, 2016

In Case You Were Wondering...

...about the Burdastyle dress that I began several weeks ago, I never did sew it.  After my tantrum over the Swedish tracing paper, I spent a week or two mulling (obsessing) over my possibilities and decided that I really would like to try it in a real fabric, confident that the changes necessary to fit me comfortably were not that complicated.

Unfortunately, a series of time-consuming events got in my way, one of which involved packing up everything in the "sewing room" so that our dining room was clean.
It looked so clean, I didn't want to clutter it up again!

I realized that I (still) have a serious problem with acquiring sewing clutter when I filled five boxes with the fabric, patterns and magazines that sat on the table and counter.  This doesn't include all the fabric that's already filling the dining room cabinets!

Now where do I put these?!
Fast forward through my daughter's travel wardrobe and other interruptions and a week or two before the gala, I once again panicked with the thought of nothing to wear. I have a blue velvet dress in the back of my closet that really did spark joy when I cleaned my closet last spring.  It is lovely and comfortable, but sleeveless, which is why I've only worn it once in the 15 years that I've owned it.  Since it's usually freezing in December, I decided the quickest solution would be a bolero jacket.
Vogue 8957
Amazingly, I found a nice velvet that matched my dress perfectly, and a taffeta that would have been a nice complement.  Vogue 8957 recommended taffeta, dupioni and shantung, but velvet sounded so warm and cozy and comfortable.  My memories of cold winters past convinced me that velvet was necessary.  How often do you find a fabric to match perfectly, anyway?

Knowing that pleating of this magnitude would not work well on velvet, I choose to gather the trim into ruffles instead, which worked out fairly well, though it left bulky seam allowances.

Vogue 8957 is a fairly easy pattern to fit and sew, though fitting was not as easy as I expected. I considered not making a muslin, thinking that I wouldn't need an FBA or swayback adjustment, but the velvet was rather expensive.  I justified the muslin by telling myself it would help deplete my overflowing stash.

A size 12 was perfect for my shoulder width. However, once the sleeves were on, I felt like I was wearing a straight jacket.  Adding 1.5" at the underarm seam and tapering it to the notches worked perfectly.  In the end, I was grateful that I took an extra hour to make a muslin.
Adding 1.5" to the underarm allowed me to move my arms. (I sewed a 12.)

Since it was so quick to sew, I talked myself into beading to coordinate with the dress.  Instead of trusting myself to make nice beaded flowers, I sewed the iridescent glass beads randomly on the jacket, which turned out fine -- it is festive, but next time I will chose a more organized pattern.  I underlined the velvet with silk organza to give it some body, and act as a stabilizer for the beading.
I really liked the pleated/ruffled edge .

None of the pictures of me wearing the outfit do much to show the jacket, due to poor lighting.  To my chagrin, the flash resulted in focus on my bare cleavage.  I will spare you the discomfort, and show them on my mannequin, instead where the flash illuminates the fact that the two velvets are in fact not exactly the same.  Sans flash, and in a dimly lit ballroom they are a perfect match.

It is lined with a medium-to-heavy bodied satin (not a lining), to add to the warmth factor.  Alas, it was 70 degrees the day of the event, and I was plenty warm.
Vogue 8957, rear view

I really love the jacket.  It makes the dress wearable for me and I hope that I can find other outfits to pair it with in the future.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Anderson Blouse

My days have become very busy with non-sewing projects, but I managed to sew three new tops for my daughter's trip to the Czech Republic in November.  Two of which are identical cousins made with Sew Over It's Anderson Blouse Pattern. Forgive my lack of pictures -- my daughter had a cold and didn't want to pose before leaving town.
Sew Over It Anderson Blouse
Believe it or not, this is the first time I've ventured into the realm of sewing an independent pattern.  Even though it involved printing and tracing a PDF, it was an overall pleasant experience.

In search of a flattering style that Gillian Anderson wore frequently in the 1990's X-Files episodes, and which Robin Wright has worn a time or two on House of Cards, I was disappointed not to find anything in the Big 4.  Imagine my excitement when I realized that someone else liked the blouse on Gillian Anderson so much that she drafted a pattern!  Apparently, they have reappeared in the BBC series "The Fall".

My only trouble with the pattern was likely due to my ancient ink jet printer that selectively leaves out important parts of print jobs.  At times it is everything within the bottom 3 inches of a page, but in this case it was important notches and lines, so there was a lot of reprinting.  I would have liked to have the bust apex marked, and perhaps the waist to help with the fitting process.  Perhaps my printer left those things out, also.

"Don't show my face!"
The pattern is fairly simple, with only front, back (cut on fold), sleeve, cuff and bias binding for back neckline.  The cuff is narrow with a vent that is finished with a narrow hem that corresponds with the sleeve seam.  I made minimal changes to the pattern.
The only true alteration needed was an FBA. My guess is that many people would be fine without it.  I started with a size 10, and added about an inch at the bust line by pivoting the armscye.  I just cut the pattern along the seam allowance, leaving a hinge at the outer shoulder point, then pivoted the underarm out.  That leaves a wedge along the side seam that needs to be filled in as well, which I tapered down to the notch (picture below). The muslin was a little wide in the shoulders, so I just pulled that 1/2" into the existing shoulder gathers, which also helped with an FBA.  It seemed to fit very comfortably.

The narrow, delicate cuff is a nice feminine touch.  I shortened the length of the cuff on the second blouse (and added another pleat to the sleeve) because my daughter's wrists are so thin.  I interfaced the cuffs of both versions, out of concern for making a buttonhole in delicate silk.  A lightweight fusible was used on the white blouse and silk organza cut on the bias on the red blouse.  The organza version was much easier to work with and came out much nicer.

Anderson #1 was sewn in a lovely, but very thin silk charmeuse.  If I had to do it again, I would order a heavier-bodied fabric, although it seems fine on a human, even without a camisole. On the dark gray dress form it is more transparent.

Anderson #2 was sewn with a gorgeous red silk crepe that I bought on ebay a few years ago, provenance unknown.  It was advertised as crepe de chine, but I think it was so much more luxurious than any silk crepe de chine I've ever sewn before.  Such a joy to sew with, that I didn't want the project to end.  I need to find more fabric like that!

I also cut extra bias binding to encase the armscye seams and the entire shoulder seam, as well as the back neckline.  Side and sleeve seams were clean finished with French seams. Although I overlocked the raw edge of the front neckline facing on the white shirt, I used a narrow hem on the red shirt and it lays much flatter.
I like the way the blouse peeks out from the suit jacket.

Another minor change, was that I did not create the casing for a drawstring as in the pattern instructions. It didn't seem necessary, as it would be worn tucked into a skirt or slacks, and I imagined the drawstring getting in the way.  The front necklines are tacked together with catch stitches.  I first tried covered snaps, but they were heavy, dragging the silk down.

I think my daughter liked these blouses, and I expect that at some point I will make more for her, as they're elegant and versatile. It's a simple pattern that can be sewn into a luxurious blouse with the right fabric.  Meanwhile, my husband and I have started watching The Fall on Netflix.