Thursday, January 31, 2013

Throw the dog a bone.

Remember my wacky, fleecy orange hat?  I was wearing it a lot last week because it was so cold.  One morning, Hubby said to me,

"How come you never made me one of those hats?"

"I didn't know you wanted one," I answered.

"Well, I do.  When I put up the hood on my coat, I don't have any peripheral vision.  If I had a hat like that, I could have warm ears AND be able to see on both sides!"

Well, I'm always happy to make something for my boy.  We had a short conversation about color choice:  charcoal grey won out;  I was unable to sell him on a magenta/chartreuse combination.  (Really, that was more of a vocabulary test.  You have no idea how long it took me to teach him the difference between "taupe" and "teal."  Pffffft.  Boys.)

The next day I went to my LYS . . . and they didn't have the yarn I wanted.  They seem to be changing their inventory; sadly they have even less of what I like these days.  So I had to make an internet order.  I got 2 skeins of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in Charcoal and two ounces of merino top in Pewter.  My yarn arrived on Saturday and I got started right away on the hat.

The first thing you do is cut your sliver into 2" lengths, and then separate these into bits which, when twisted, are about the same thickness as your yarn.  I cut mine with my rotary cutter and quilter's ruler.  I like to prepare a small bowl full at a time.

The hat is worked in garter stitch, and the fleece bits are worked into every other stitch.  I tried to get some pictures, but I'm afraid it may not be very clear - the pictures that come with the pattern are much better.  Just before you work a stitch, you fold one of the bits around your yarn:

Then continue working the stitch, so that bit of fleece is caught in the horizontal bar on the back of the garter stitch.

It's really a lot easier than it looks and sounds!  Here's a picture of the fabric from the side:  you can see that there's a ground of garter stitch knitting, with fleece coming off one side:

The hat is constructed by working the earflaps and visor flat, then connecting everything and finishing in the round.

The fleece is lightly felted by tapping up and down on it with a hairbrush;  I like to felt it a little bit as I work, because I knit loosely and before felting, the fleece bits can get pulled out.  The hat is only fleeced part way up the inside - I'm not really sure why!  In the end, I really only used a very little bit of my second skein of yarn, and only about two thirds of my merino.  I did make the hat a little deeper than called for:  Hubby has a big head.  It's where he keeps all his knowledge.

Kind of looks like a floppy-eared doggie!

Here's the finished hat, modeled by my good friend Lamp:

When Hubby told me he wanted the hat, he said, "But I don't want to look like a bunny!"  So I left off the ties and pompoms.  He wore it today because it's very cold again after a few warmer days, and now he's wishing he had a way to close it under his chin.  So I think tonight I'll be sewing some large snaps at the bottom.

I had so much fun making this pattern again!

**DISCLAIMER:  This is a piece of humorous writing!  I don't want you guys to get the idea that Hubby is a doofus, because he's anything but!  (The guy has almost as many initials tacked on to his name as there are letters in the alphabet!)  But you know how it is . . . sometimes it's just fun to tease the boys ;-)  Oh, who am I kidding?  I tease everybody!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The last of Anouk, for now.

Yesterday afternoon the sun came out for about a half hour, so I scrambled to get my Anouk fixed.  I'd been waiting for some light - necessary for making tiny pintucks on deep black fabric with black thread!  I'm pleased to say that my "fix" doesn't look too bad, and the dress fits much better now - no gaping.  I'm happy enough with it that I won't be removing the yoke and doing it again.  I did, however, transfer my needed change to my pattern piece:

I decided to make two pintucks on each side of the yoke and have them angle to between the tucks on the bodice.  Since the amount of fabric I needed to remove was pretty large, it was easy to break it in two.  I hand basted my tucks first, and then sewed each one at 1/8".  While I was at it, I switched to snazzier buttons:

A few of you suggested that having the black buttons was just too much black, and you were right.  Funnily, these are the buttons I originally wanted to use, but I thought they were too stark.  I tried to soften it a little by using magenta thread:

I'm much happier with the dress now, so I'm calling it finished and putting it in the closet to await spring.  At which time, she'll come back out so I can model it for you!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Renfrews #8, #9 and #10

After so many makes with this pattern, there's really nothing left to say except, "Look at the cute fabric!"

Number 8 was made a couple of weeks ago.  I've already worn it once and the cute little floral print made me feel smiley.

Vintage Peach Green Floral Cotton Jersey Knit Fabric

Numbers 9 and 10 were made on Friday.  All three have the round neckline, as that's the neckline I like best on me.   Numbers 8 and 9 have long sleeves, and number 10 has 3/4 sleeves.

Retro Poppy Peach Cotton Jersey Knit Fabric

Vintage Bird Floral Red Cotton Jersey Knit Fabric (currently only available as a half yard cut) 

Now that these pictures are up, I can start my 2013 FOs page!  Woohoo!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Yet More Burda!

You were on tenterhooks, right?!  Here is the other pattern:

Burda 7072

Gah!  Look at that coat!  I die!  Here, take a closer look:

This is the version I'll be making.

Here are the line drawings:

Of course, there's a back story.

Over the summer, I came across this coat* on Burda Style and decided I must make one like it.  The pattern was in a back issue of Burda magazine, December 2011.  I checked around on eBay until I found it - my copy came all the way from Israel. 

Here's the picture from the magazine.
And the line drawing.

Then the fall got busy, and before I knew it the weather appropriate for a coat like this had passed, so I put the project on a back burner.  I was thinking of making a version in springtime fabric, but then when this new pattern came out, I changed my mind!  So now my plan is to make the 7072 for spring, and consider making this one early next fall.  Aside from loving the style of the new pattern, I also feel like I want to get started on my 2013 goal of making a coat earlier rather than later.

I was thinking I'd like to make the coat in a pale pink sateen (how original!), but while I was looking around online for it, I came across this:

Anna Maria Horner cotton sateen "Turn of Events" in Blush

And it was on sale.  Done and done!  The roses are quite large:

I'm really looking forward to making this as my first coat project.  I'm planning to make this my February project, so something to look forward to!

* I'm a huge fan of this girl's work - I love everything she makes and just her style in general.  I wish I could read her blog:  it's all in Polish!

Friday, January 25, 2013

More Burda

Last week I teased you with some Burda patterns and showed the vintage reproduction ones I bought.  I also bought two "modern" patterns which I'm super excited about.

First up is Burda 7063.  I fell in love with this pattern the minute I saw it, both the blouse version and the dress.  It looks to be quite a simple pattern too.  I'm planning on starting out with a "wearable muslin" of the blouse in an Amy Butler voile I've had in my stash for about a year:

I bought the fabric just because I liked it, but then could never figure out a pattern to use with it.  I think this one will work well - there's gathering at the bust that adds some interest.

I may also do a version in this leftover umbrella fabric that's been in my stash for probably a year and a half:

Once I know what I'm dealing with fit-wise, I'm planning on making the dress version in a lovely Anna Sui silk I bought a year and a half ago - again, just because I loved it.  I've been waiting for the right pattern to come along, and I think this is it!

All these photos show the pattern with the fabric because yesterday I did a project:  I took out all my stash fabric and photographed it, then made it into a spreadsheet so I can easily know what I have.  For the fabrics for which I have a pattern in mind, I photographed the pattern along with it.  So now I have a pictorial to-do sewing list in my iPhoto!

In the interest of keeping the length of this post manageable, I'll show you the other new pattern tomorrow.  What a tease!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Slightly Deflated

I did mostly finish my Anouk over the weekend, and it left me feeling slightly deflated.  Before I go into the details of why, here are some pictures of it on the hanger.


Don't get me wrong:  I don't hate it.  But I don't love it as much as I was hoping to.  Part of this is the color combination - in the end, I think the black of the yoke is just too stark.  My yoke fabric was an extremely thin voile.  Without interfacing and lining, it matched the black on the stripe fabric quite well.  But of course, I couldn't use it all on its own.  I'm counting this as a good lesson.

I am happy with my workmanship on this dress.  As I said before, I really took my time and concentrated on doing each task well.  I stitched the yoke lining and placket facing down by hand, and finished the side seams (the only exposed seams on this garment, which I think is kind of neat) with my new red serger thread.

This fabric looks magenta, but it's really a "shot" chambray:  the weft threads are marine blue and the warp is a red very close to that serger thread.

I'd had an idea all along that I'd like to use four buttons on the yoke instead of two.  I haven't been able to find many examples of finished projects for this pattern online, but many of those I did find had the buttons off-center.  It just kind of bothered me.  Since I wasn't 100% sure how it would work, and because I didn't want any of the play that buttonholes would introduce, I skipped them and just sewed my buttons on through both layers of the tabs.

I think it looks really cute, but the reality is that the buttons are too heavy.  And that contributed to the major problem with this dress:

Oh noes!!

Holy Gapeage, Batman!!  The yoke stands out about 2 inches from my chest!

Now, I probably should have seen this coming:  I've known since reading Fit for Real People last year that I have a "hollow chest."  But because of the styles I've been sewing so far, it really hasn't come up as an issue, and I've gotten used to concentrating on my other "problem" areas, namely grading from a size 2 bust to 4 waist to 8 hip.  And since this pattern states that it is "free at waist and hips,"  I thought:  "Cool!  I don't have to do any adjustments!"

The fix for this is pretty easy, once you know you have to do it.  You just take a little tuck out at the neckline until it lays the way you want.

Before, with buttons removed.  Note how the tabs now overlap.
After, with a tuck taken out of each side.  Problem solved.  Almost.

I do think I would like to make this pattern again, so I'll be transferring this change to my pattern piece.  I had to take a tuck about 1/4 inch deep on each side (for a total fabric removal of 1/2 inch each side).

Sadly, the "clean finish" construction of this dress means that the only real way to fix it would be to remove the entire yoke and do it again.  I do have enough fabric to do this, but I don't have enough love for the finished product with these fabrics.  So I'm thinking of trying to take some mini pintucks in the yoke to match up with those in the bust.  I'm going to stew on this for a while - obviously I'm in no great hurry to finish this, as it will be many months before I can even contemplate wearing it!

And now I'm going to really get real - all for the benefit of sewer-kind, because there aren't many reviews of this pattern so I'm trying to record my experience with it.  I've read a few comments on Victory Patterns that said the armholes tend to be high.  My armpits are high, so I thought, "Great!  My bra and my armpit fat won't show!"  So, although I edited out all the cleavage shots, I am going to show you that the armholes are indeed high, but not high enough to hid my armpit fat.  Wahhhhh!  I really hate that fat, especially since I'm pretty slender in general.  Maybe it's due to age?  I've only really noticed it in the last few years.

So. Gross.

As I was taking all the pictures for this post, I kept tugging the dress into place to hide those nasty bulges.  It actually mostly looks worse than this, so you should be glad I spared you, relatively speaking.  If anybody knows how to get rid of this, please let me in on the secret!  Bench presses and chest flies are not doing the trick!

So all in all, a good learning experience - I don't regret one minute of the time I spent on this project.  I will wear the dress once it's fixed and the weather warms up.  That is, as much as I wear any of my makes, which is not that often!  And I would like to try out the blouse version - I'm hoping the sleeves will hide the fat.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


My Anouk dress is technically finished, but I have a little tweaking to do on the yoke to make it lay right, after which I'll transfer those changes to my pattern.  In the meanwhile, I wanted to tell you all about a new-to-me product I used it its construction.

The dress is unlined except for the yoke.  I chose a very soft silk for my yoke lining.  It may be one of the reasons I was putting off actually making the dress!  Those slippery fabrics can really take the wind out of your sails, sewing wise! 

I'd heard about Sullivan's Spray Stabilizer about a year ago, and had meant to order some but never got around to it.  Early this fall, I happened to see a can on the shelf at Vogue, and snapped it up after talking to the lady at the cutting table about how to use it.  I was still a little afraid to try it though - what if it stained my fabric?  I figured with this project it didn't matter:  my lining was black, and even if it did get ruined, I had enough fabric to recut the pieces.

It really couldn't be easier:  you spray the product on your pieces until they are wet, and then leave them undisturbed until they are completely dry.  Of course, drying time will vary depending on the weather.  I cut all my pieces out the day before I started sewing and stabilized the lining pieces that day as well, so they were ready the next day.  The lady at the fabric store recommended putting something like a sheet under the pieces so you don't ruin your floor.  I used an old towel because my pieces were small, but next time I'll use a sheet so they can lay flatter.

Here are some comparison photos.  First, a 4" x 6" piece of unstabilized silk:

Soooooffffft and drapey.

 And here's me holding a stabilized piece of the yoke in the same position (but my camera was tilted):

Wow!  Can you believe that?  Here's me holding all 3 yoke pieces, which have been seamed together:

Nice!  Here's a view of one of the seams after pressing:

And here's my favorite photo:  sitting on the ironing board with one edge overhanging.  It's just suspended in space!

Using this stabilizer made working with the silk so much easier than it ever has been for me.  By the time the garment was finished and had been pressed several times, most of the stiffness had worn off and my silk was almost as soft as it was to start with.  Once the garment is washed, the remainder of the stabilizer should come out.

I have it in mind to make a dress this spring from a beautiful piece of silk that's been in my stash for over a year.  Now I'm not nearly as afraid to use it!

Have any of you ever used a fabric stabilizer like this before?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A little more on Burda.

Here are three of the new patterns I picked up the other day.  These are from the "retro" line - man, I'm a sucker for these reproduction vintage patterns!  According to the catalog, these are all vintage 1960's.

First up, 7113:  A-line shift, short-sleeved jacket and cape.  The jacket buttons up the back!  Love!!

Here are the line drawings:

Next, 7114: relaxed A-line shift with French darts and optional welt pockets.  I could really see this in a summery printed silk twill.   On a patio.  With tiki torches.  And a Mai Tai.

And the line drawings:

And lastly (for now!), 7115:  gored A-line dress with double-breasted jacket.  Swooooon!  I love a dress and jacket combo.

The drawings:

Note that the dress has pockets!

While I had the camera and patterns out, I thought I'd take some extra pictures to show some of the ways Burda patterns differ from the other companies, since there seemed to be some interest yesterday in these patterns and I don't see them coming up on sewing blogs a whole lot.

The patterns themselves are multi-size like most other companies, and the envelope patterns do contain seam and hem allowances, unlike the magazine and download patterns from Burda.  But the information needed to sew the pattern is arranged differently from other brands I've used.

Let's start with the envelope.  First off - and I love this - the publication date is just above the logo on the envelope back.  There are also some fitting clues for the garment.

Yardages are given for two fabric widths for each size of each garment:

However, you have to know your European size to begin with for this information to be useful.  Don't know your size?  Where to find it?  Inside, on the pattern tissue:

I have to admit that although I do know my European size, I still find this kind of tedious.  Anyway, back to the envelope:

You will also find on the back recommended fabrics and notions needed, just above the line drawings.  On the drawings of the garments are some of the finished measurements, to help you figure out what size you need.

Inside, on the instruction sheet, each page has four columns:  to the left are the instructional drawings, followed by directions in English, French and Spanish.  I'm not really sure why German isn't included - perhaps they publish separate patterns in German only?


The first bit of information here is how many pattern pieces you need for each view:

But:  Curses!  Foiled again!  "See pattern sheet for cutting layouts!"  This one really irks me!  I don't know why, since I rarely follow the cutting layouts anyway!

On the pattern pieces themselves, you'll find the finished measurements for hip, bust, etc. like you would on any other commercial pattern.  They're even listed in both inches and centimeters!  OK, I'm not so irked any more.

One of the things I like about the Burda patterns I've used so far is that they seem to match my measurements a little better than most American patterns.  Must be my European heritage.

I'll be back with at least one more post about Burda patterns, because the other two I bought are things I'm thinking of starting on right away!