Wednesday, November 2, 2011

BurdaStyle Sewing HandBook

The Burdastle Sewing Handbook is finally out! I can't wait to get my greedy little hands on my very own copy. FYI, my design is the black and white polka dot skirt right below the blue circle in the upper left corner. When I get my garment back I'll try to get a little photo shoot in it for the blog.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I haven't made a halloween costume in years. Previous costume attempts included a generic tunic used for grecian party and a fairy (of sorts) for halloween, and a pirate costume cobbled together from my first corset attempt. I have stashes of historic costume patterns and I could love any terrible movie or show as long as the costumes are amazing. (Boardwalk empire is my current favorite). I love the idea of making costumes, but unless I have a reason to make them, I don't. This year I let the Burdastyle/Bernina Halloween costume contest pass me by again. But then yesterday my company annownced it's own "Hant Couture" halloween costume contest. The deadline is week from now, and I don't even need to take pictures to upload them. Well, inspiration struck me immediately and I then went out a lunch to source fabrics. Here are some of my inspiration pics.

Monday, October 3, 2011

New Project: Fall Sweater

I'm starting a sweater! ***
The pattern is Wisteria from Lion Brand.
The Lion Brand Blog is hosting a KAL and I decided I need a new sweater for this fall and winter.
The yarn is Amazing, and the colorway I chose is Violets:
Pretty, huh?
Wish me luck!

***Disclaimer: Ok, actually I have a bunch of sweaters still on the needles but I'm a sucker for this style, which does not already exist in my closet, and I had a 20% off coupon at the Lion Brand yarn studio so I really can't fight fate****.
**** Disclaimer: I voted for this pattern in the KAL voting process. Sometimes fate needs a helping hand.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Love Marc Jacobs, but…

I could soooooo knit this!

Pithy instructions: hand dyed DK weight, knit in the round, 1x1 rib for 1” brim, switch to bigger needles and hold the yarn doubled , knit till long enough, decrease rapidly & bind off, add a pom-pom (if you’re into that sort of thing).

And this!

Pithy instructions: 2 strands sport weight (different colors) held together or marled dk weight. Appears to be knit flat so use a tubular cast on, k3, p2 for 1 inch, some sort of faux cable/rib for about 8 inches ( at the same time gradually decreasing 3 sts each side), then 5-6 inches 1x1 ribbing, bind off, sew seam.

Pictures via shopbop (a great source for sewing and knitting inspiration)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chanel Jacket: Part 3: Fitting with the professionals

I wasn’t feeling confident about the idea of cutting out my Chanel jacket last night so I brought my muslin to work for some professional fit advice. The fact that I haven’t done so before now is kind of amazing considering I work for a jacket manufacturer and my closest coworkers are tech designers and pattern makers, whom I have told all about this project. One of my lovely cubicle buddies helped me fine tune my muslin and has promised to help me re-evaluate after I make the adjustments to the muslin.

These next pattern adjustments will include:

  • Lowering the armhole ½” (1/2” higher than the original pattern) on one side, and back to the original a/h on the other side for comparison.
  • Letting out the side seams ¼” each for an added 1" circumference
  • Letting out the sleeve seams 1/8” at the bicept for an added ¼” ease
  • Reducing the shoulder seam length ¼”
  • Reducing the cross back ¼” on each back armhole
  • Pinching out and transferring excess armhole ease to the shoulder princess seam.

I’m feeling good about these adjustments. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Reality Check

Recent FOs
  •  Friendship bracelet (swap); Not sure how long it should be, but I made it 6" long plus ties. I’m supposed to mail to my swap partner in Australia tomorrow. I finally have a reason to mail something for personal reasons to another country! I am so tickled, it’s silly. 
  • Slim line T-shirt; This is a procrastination/instant gratification project that I cut out Thursday and whacked out on Saturday. The pattern is by Angela Kane and is supplemented by her newest video series. I love her videos. They are a bit long because she doesn't edit away the majority of the working steps. You see her go through every step, and during the processes she mentions a lot of handy tips that probably wouldn't make it into a shorter video. I've gleaned a lot from watching her work. Plus, her voice is so soothing and encouraging. I used a 100% cotton XL t-shirt from MM that he didn’t wear because it had a pocket (I unpicked the pocket, ha!) I used the original shoulder seams, neck binding, sleeve seams and sleeve hem, so all I needed to do was serge the side seams & set the sleeves. Because the t-shirt was so long it turned out more like a t-shirt mini-dress. It's perfect for hanging out around the house in. I had my BF try it on for size and I think the shape is a bit to slim in the shoulders and the armholes a bit deep for his liking. I 'll try out the classic t-shirt next for him. 
Current WIPS (that I have worked on in the last week)
  •  Knit nautical top (franken-knit from a this pattern); 85% complete – just need to finish the front. So close to done that I am almost completely bored. I CANNOT start another knit/crochet project until this is wearable.
  • Raglan sleeve t-shirt; Burdastyle 01/2011 120. Cotton cashmere rib knit - I've had this cut out for months but finishing the sleeve hems came first and my twin needle has been very very finicky and that honestly killed my sewing mojo. Last night I got it out and made it work. Assembling the rest of it was quick and all that is left now is the hem. 
  •  Chanel Jacket; the muslin is done. I need to finish refining the pattern and then cut out the fashion fabric. For the first time in my life I am terrified of cutting fabric and am procrastinating with the above and below items. I have been telling myself to get on with it for a week now and I find myself making excuses to do other things instead, like the above mentioned recent FO's.
Desperate Start-itis (things I am forbidden to start until one or more of the above are done) 
  • Another tiny pocket tank (#3) with slight FBA. Loud floral rayon up-cycle!
  •  Lion Brand Mesh Raglan Pullover. I have the yarn! It was frogged from another desperately ill-begotten project (crochet bathmat… yeah… BATHMAT) I must redeem the yarn. I also need to get it off the floor of my craft cave where it taunts me.
  • Tiger Lily Tank by Lion Brand. Yarn was on sale, it was a heat wave, I am weak, and I still want to knit it.
  • Bombshell dress (Burdastyle/Craftsy/Gretchen Hirsch). I totally impulse bought this course since. Who knows how long that sale price will last!? It was the promise of FBA handholding for that bustier that did it, and the thought that I could look like Joan Holloway at a barbeque by my birthday if I start NOW.
Feeling overwhelmed and I haven’t even mentioned my UFOs.

Hand Rolled Scarves - Hermes

I would love to try this technique. I have some paneled fabrics in my stash and a few scarf sized silk pieces that I painted for my textile painting class. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chanel Jacket: Part 2: Muslin Making

I am currently knee deep in my Chanel Jacket Muslin fitting.

Recap: Pattern: V7975, short version with no overlap.

Initial Pattern Issue: This pattern does not have the 3 piece sleeve that I want and none of the other patterns with a 3 piece sleeve are in print. I even enlarged the diagram from the Great Sewn Clothes book and printed it out to scale to see what I could glean about the fit and attempted to redraft a sleeve for my pattern taking these details into consideration.  I was obsessing a bit much about it so I asked my sewist friend Sara of and Sparrows and Honey Bees for her advice. She assured me that I 3/4 length 2 piece sleeve would be fine and appropriate for a summer jacket. I'm still thinking about it, but I'm probably going to take her word for it and keep working on the sleeve pattern puzzle for a wool boucle winter version.

 Muslin #1: Like a good little apprentice couturier, I made a muslin. I started with size 14 according to my high bust and I knew I would need to lengthen it so I added 1” to the bodice and sleeves prior to cutting the muslin. According to my research the classic Chanel jacket has very high armholes, so I also raised the armholes 1 inch (but traced out the original armholes for comparison) and only inserted one sleeve. I sewed it up with 1" seam allowances and tried it on. The armhole fit is good although the bicep may be a tiny bit snug (still contemplating that). I'm happy with the way the back fits. The one issue I have is with the front. Obviously, I need a FBA.

Muslin #2 I followed Fit For Real People’s approach to the princess seam FBA. FFRP offers 3 options for FBA on the princess seam: adjust the front piece, adjust the side front piece, or if the adjustment is very minor one can just add to the princess seams. For larger adjustments (ahem DD over here) FFRP has you choose based on the how far apart or close together ones bust apex is. The idea being that the princess seam should fall on the apex. My bosoms must be pretty well centered because they were already on the princess seam (minus the 1” FBA needed). Unlike Erica Bunker. who adjusted the front piece, I opted to modify the side front piece. I spread the bust 1” for my DDs. I was rather proud of my pattern modification and re-cut a side front and front muslin piece and attached them to the half of my muslin that did not have a sleeve.

Result: the front piece is WAY TOO LONG, causing the CF to hang down and out.  Because I spread my side front 1" I ended up adding 1 ½” length to the front piece which caused the front edge to hang down and swing away, and caused the CF to look curved rather than straight. Bummer.

Problem solving: I pinched out 1” at the CF and tried to determine how to adjust the front piece to reduce the front edge length only but I was stumped. FFRP does not address the princess droop for an open jacket. It only offers a solution for a dress which is to hack off any excess length at the bottom of the front panel, which is an inelegant solution (IMHO) that would not work for me here. I though real hard and as the hour of my bedtime drew nigh I began to fear going to sleep frustrated. In a moment of desperation I undid the princess seam on the other half of the muslin that had the original pattern and let out my seam allowances (1” muslin seam allowances are a MUST folks!) so that my remaining SA was ½” from the hem to the bust point and then tapered into the original seam. It worked. I had my 1” added width and My CF edge is straight. My hem is straight(ish) This FBA is way easier than the FFRP version.
I think I'm going to let out the side seams below the waist about 1/8" and pinch in a bit of the front princess seams above the bust before I finalize my pattern revisions. I'm also still trying to decide about the sleeve length.... 3/4 length or long sleeve. My BF likes the long, but as a summer jacket a 3/4 length would be just fine and I could always make this again as a winter jacket with a black wool boucle and long sleeves. I still want to try to figure out the 3 piece sleeve pattern (or find a copy of the Sandra Betzina pattern). 

Thoughts on my progress so far are welcome!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

LFS: Beverly Trimming

Beverly Trimming is one of the very few fabric and sewing notions stores in Bay Ridge. They are best known for their large selection of vintage buttons. Even though I work in the middle of the garment district I'm delighted to have a store like this in my neighborhood so I have options on the weekend when I find myself in need of supplies. Truthfully, I would love to shop there more often since I like to support local businesses (one of the reasons I don't buy much yarn online) but usually the garment district shops are most convenient and well stocked.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vogue 1175: Donna Karan Bubble Dress

Over the last few years I have found that my impulse projects are generally my most successful projects. Doing the research gets me excited about the project and helps keep me motivated to finish (deadlines don't always keep the mo-jo flowing). I always check out what other people have done with a pattern on pattern review and it helps me plan and anticipate problems. I also love going out into the Garment District to purchase all the materials for a project at once. 

Last September, my college roommate got married in Nova Scotia. I don't get many opportunities to wear, let alone make a fancy dress, so this was the perfect excuse to make a pattern I had bought on impulse with no idea if I'd ever have a good reason to make it.  The dress turned out so great. I loved making it and didn't run into any problems due to my research and good luck. So here is my super late project blog post. 
Pattern Description: Vogue 1175
Close-fitting, above mid-knee length, pullover, lined dress has contrast bodice back, seam detail, pleated front and back, side front in-seam pockets and puffed hem.

Pattern Sizing: 14-16-18-20
I chose the size 14 based on my over bust measurement and did a full bust modification to make this work, which I will go into detail about below. First I traced off the size 14 bodice front and back (and CF skirt) to made a muslin to see if I was even close to making the right choice. It fit pretty well around my shoulders and back. I was definitely mashed in the front, but that was expected. I also saw that the my bust point is at least an inch lower than the pattern, which is no surprise since patterns are drafted for for someone 5'6", not my 5'10.5". I had read in the other reviews that the neckline and sides of this pattern are kind of low, but on me it didn't appear to pose a serious threat to my dignity (although I might have found a skimpier bra) and I decided to leave it alone.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except that I added an additional dart at the center front as part of the FBA.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, but I wish the diagrams were bigger, especially for the construction of the center front. I would recommend making a complete mock up for anyone who is unsure of their skills or how the style is supposed to come together.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like how unique this design is. It was a puzzle to put together and I had fun making it. I don't usually go for voluminous bubble styles, but I felt really special wearing it. I really love that it has pockets!

 I did not like that the fabric requirements listed was 60" wide. I found my fabric in the NYC garment district so I had lots to chose from, but I found that there really is no such thing as 60" taffeta. I was worried about having enough to fit the large pattern pieces. As it turns out, even if I had made a larger size, I would not have needed fabric that wide. My fabric was 54' and it was plenty wide.
Fabric Used: Silk taffeta, silk organza (to underline the back bodice), silk charmeuse (back bodice) , silk cotton batiste (lining). I found some really great sales on 39th St and was able to get all my fabric for under $40! 

One thing I wish I had done was to serge finish the seam allowance of the bottom hem edge of the taffeta. With all the handling of the dress it had unraveled quite a bit by the time I got to the hem.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I made a full bust modification following TiaDia's lead. I did mine slightly different though because I am tall and the bust point was already too high on the unmodified pattern. For my FBA I added a second pleat below the original which had the added benefit of lowering the bust point.

 I was a bit stumped on how to modify the lining since the obvious slash and spread to the CF pleat would interfere slightly with the construction which already was tricky due to the lack of clear diagrams, but it worked out fine in the end.

My only other modification was that I eliminated the CF seam on the front skirt piece.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I won't sew it again because one party dress in this style is enough for my closet, but I definitely recommend it if you like the style. It wasn't terribly difficult to put together and I am immensely pleased with the results.
I made a this party dress for roughly $40, not too much labor, I had fun making it, had more fun wearing it, and I got lots of compliments on my sewing skills. I win!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chanel Jacket: Part 1: Dreaming & Scheming

Let’s pretend that I haven’t neglected my blog for months, and jump straight into my current project obsession: the Chanel Jacket.

There are a great many sources of inspiration and information that have helped fan the flames of my desire:

- There is the Go Chanel or Go Home blog, to which I hoped to become a member so that I can add my own pattern alteration experience to this archive.

- Threads Magazine issue121 from 2005, the "Inside a Chanel Jacket" article by Susan Khalje has invaluable information (I had to call Tauton press to order a back issue since they appear OOP when the quantity drops below 20). **hint** One might be able to find pics online of the article if one is clever.

- Book: Great Sewn Clothes (from Threads) - covers the Chanel jacket construction details and includes a handy diagram of a Chanel jacket pattern.

- Book: Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B Shaeffer, has much the same info as the Threads book, but goes into greater depths about many couture techniques.

- The amazing Signe Chanel documentary…. Especially the section on the braid maker.

- The runway show archives at

- Ebay… real Chanel jackets for resale often come with great detail pictures!

- Erica Bunker’s version of the Chanel jacket comes up quickly in a google image search. Erica’s blog is my go to whenever I start a new vogue pattern because she makes many of the same pattern alterations that I do and to the same pattern size.

- Marina is the couture blogger for Burdastyle and Frabjous Couture, took an in depth Chanel Jacket sewing course with Susan Khalje and shared many details from the class on her blog.

- You know that feeling you get at a store…"I could make that for way less!” I even had that thought in the CHANEL store in Soho. I tried not to look like I was dissecting the garments while I admired the lovely trim and buttons, but you know I was.

So, of course I have launched my own Chanel jacket project.

My Chanel Jacket:
Fashion Fabric: Silk boucle from Chic Fabrics on 39th between 7th and 8th.

I think I got this fabric for $6/yard... I only spent $40 total on fabric, and the lining was pricier than the boucle. Lining Fabric: Silk jacquard lining (also from Chic Fabrics) for $10/yard. This will be a summer jacket.

Trim: I intend to make a fancy braid with threads from the boucle I will also use a selvage or bias cut fringe as a base and I bought some nifty lace weight yarn from Patons that has a bit of sequins in it to include with the braid for a touch of glitz.

Pattern: V7975, short version with no overlap.

Pattern Issue: This pattern does not have a 3 piece sleeve. I WANT a 3 piece sleeve. None of the other patterns with a 3 piece sleeve are in print. I even enlarged the diagram from the Great Sewn Clothes book and printed it out to scale to see what I could glean about the fit and attempted to redraft a sleeve for my pattern taking these details into consideration.  My obsessing about the darn sleeve is a bit of a sticking point but I really want to get going on this project.  I may just keep working on the sleeve pattern puzzle for a wool boucle winter version and stick with a 3/4 length sleeve for this summery version.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bodice Contour Guides

Bodice Contour Guides
Originally uploaded by wzrdreams
When using a bodice sloper to create a new bodice style (example: low neck, sleeveless top) trace the sloper and draw in your new style lines. Anywhere the style lines crosses a set of contour line you will need to reduce the ease indicated by the contour lines. You do this by slashing to the bust point and closing up the excess ease between the contour lines where your style line is. There is also excess ease at the side seams which you would eliminate for close fitting bodice styles such as bustier tops.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...