Monthly Archives: August 2010

Burda Style 02/2009 #119 – Finished!

All done but the hem, anyway! This is such a pretty style. It is simple but the sleeves make it different and special. I did have a couple of issues, though. First, the neckline was too high and made me look like I had a big, heaving bosom. It’s hard to tell from the photos but I actually took the neckline down by over an inch, ending about 5/8″ above the yoke seam tapering to nothing about 1″ in front of the shoulder. It’s a much more flattering look for me and I’m happy I took the time to “make it work”.

Here’s the before:


Phyllis suggested I use the pink section of the fabric for my neckline binding and, I have to say, she was so right. I like it much better!

The after:


The other issue I had was with the sleeve. For some odd reason (which I didn’t notice until after I had finished cutting), the inner sleeve is the same length as the outer sleeve. For it to bubble properly it really needs to be a little shorter than the outer sleeve so before I make my dress I will lengthen the outer sleeve .25″ and shorten the inner sleeve by the same amount. Also, the instructions have you understitching the seam allowances to the undersleeve. I didn’t do that because I didn’t want to stiffen the seam and lose some of the drape of the sleeve.

I can show you the fabric I am going to use for the dress now that my cut has been secured. It’s Italian Rayon Florida Knit – Jewel Tones from Gorgeous Fabrics. Hurry, it’s on sale and there are only a few yards left!


What’s next? Well, tomorrow is September 1st (how did that happen?) and I’m a little freaked out because I still have 5 jackets to complete by the end of the year. Aye! And then there’s the Big Bow Skirt and the dress from the September Burda Style and the Knip Mode skirt and, and, and. It’s official: there is never enough sewing time.



Filed under Burda WOF, Fabric

Burda Style 02/2009 #119 – Part I

Yeah, I know I’m supposed to be working on the Big Bow Skirt. I’m on the fence about my fabric choice, sigh. Instead, I decided to tidy up a bit (so that I’d quit obsessing over the skirt!) and I found this top/dress that I had traced off last summer. I have found the perfect fabric for the dress at Gorgeous Fabrics (no, I’m not going to show you lest you buy it all!) so I thought I’d do a quick test of the top to check the fit.



I am such a sucker for prints like this (as if you didn’t know)! I believe this came from Gorgeous Fabrics. I cut one section at a time, laying everything out on the floor as I went along. I cut the upper bodice a several times before deciding on this particular layout (I use my camera as 2nd set of eyes). The neckline will be bound with the green.



Filed under Burda WOF, Fabric

Burda Style 08/2010 #120 – Final

All done! As I thought, I had to take the shoulders in an additional 1/2″ and lower the armscye 5/8″ (to make up for the deeper seam I had to take at the shoulder). The back was also too wide (and I have a broad back!) so I shaved a little bit off of the back armscye. I ended up removing 4″ of ease at the hemline, tapering to nothing just above the waist. It’s still quite voluminous, as you can see!


This blouse will be tucked in so it doesn’t have a whole lot of appeal on the dressform. This can really be dressed up or down as it would work equally well with jeans or a pencil skirt. I absolutely love all the pintucks even though they do get a bit lost in the print. They show up a lot better in real life than in the photos. The pintucks on the sleeve are especially pretty.


Here it is with the scarf used as a sash. I cut it as instructed but found it really long and ended up cutting 12″ off the length.


All of the edges were narrow-hemmed by machine with a 1/4″ rolled hem foot, as was the bottom of the blouse. Attachments are such a huge time-saver, get them out and practice! 🙂 If you need a refresher, check out the tutorial I posted at the Sewing Divas a few years ago. It really is easy as can be!


And, I found the perfect little blue button in my stash. This came from Maggi’s For Fine Fabrics at least a dozen years ago. I always love a little bit of sparkle!



Filed under Burda WOF

Burda Style 08/2010 #120 – Part II

My goal for today was to finish the pintucks, bind the neckline and finish the sleeve placket. Mission accomplished!

The instructions have you finish the sleeve placket by making a double-turned hem, which looks very home-made, IMO. Since this is a blouse (vs. a shirt) a simple bound placket is better and easier. I cheated and bound mine by machine with the 1.25″ binder. I should have used a narrower binder but I didn’t feel like swapping out all the parts. It’s a bit wider than it should be but I think it looks fine. I used the same width to bind the neckline (I warned you I’d be binding everything in sight, didn’t I?).


And now we get to the trouble I have with Burda. Most of the magazine patterns start at size 36. I need a 34. It’s only one size but it is amazing all of the little adjustments I have to make above the bust. The neckline, shoulder and upper chest of the 36 are always too wide. Even after my initial adjustments, I had to make more during sewing. I added two more pintucks to both the front and the back to draw the shoulders in more. I also had to take the shoulder seams up by 5/8″ so that I wouldn’t be arrested for indecent exposure. Consequently, I’ll need to lower the armscye 5/8″ and I can already see that the shoulder seam is going to have to come in a little more.



You can see that this blouse has a lot of volume. I can easily take in 4″ from the bust down and still retain enough volume for it not to look skimpy.



Filed under Burda WOF

Burda Style 08/2010 #120 – Part I

The worst is over, I have finished all of the pintucks! Yay! I do love pintucks, just not making them. As you can see, I thread traced each fold line. Not the fastest method but it was the best and most accurate way this time.


This is an Italian silk crepe de chine that I bought at Maggi’s For Fine Fabrics in Boca Raton years ago. I had a coordinating linen jacquard that was made into a jacket back when big shoulder pads were still in. It went to Goodwill a long time ago! As much as I love to buy new fabric, it is actually fun to finally find just the right pattern for some of these old pieces.

Now to begin the boring and time-consuming task of pulling all of the threads to the back side (twenty-eight times!).

ETA: Thank you lin3arossa for reminding me about single-thread pintucks! The much-revered Kenneth King has an excellent tutorial up on the Threads website here. I haven’t sewn single-thread pintucks in many years and had completely forgotten about the technique. Doh!


Filed under Burda WOF, Fabric

Burda Style 08/2010 #112

Yes, I am working on my big-bow skirt but after seeing Ann’s version of this top last week I was inspired to whip up one of my own! I used a size 34 and made adjustments for a full bust, sway back and forward shoulder.


The outer fabric is a brown rayon/poly/lycra stretch lace I had purchased from Textile Studios a few years ago. The inner fabric is a rose bamboo/lycra from Fabric Mart (it’s not as peachy as it looks in the 2nd photo). I bought several colors of this bamboo knit and just love it!


I bound both necklines with an 1.25″ binder. Using the binder requires one shoulder to be left open and binding the neckline flat (check any of your RTW tees and you’ll see what I mean). To balance out the bulk, I left the right shoulder open on the under layer and the left shoulder open on the upper layer. Otherwise, I would have had a large lump on the left side.


You’ll notice that I didn’t do the twisted hem. I really liked it but didn’t like it on me. So, I took in the sides, shortened both layers (the inner layer is 1″ longer) and hemmed them separately. I like it much better on me this way. Even if you don’t like this top, the neckline is fabulous and should be traced off for future use.

Fabric has been selected for the Big Bow Skirt and I was sidetracked into tracing off this peasant blouse with matching scarf from the 08/2010 issue. It’s the cover blouse and Bryan remarked that it looked like me so what could I do?


In light of the recent loss of an important piece of a TNT pattern, I’ve decided to get more organized. I mean, I am organized but I do tend to let patterns pile up a bit before I put them away. I needed some way keep everything together but out of my way. Yesterday, I was at my friend’s shop and he asked if I wanted these old literature racks because he was tossing them. Perfect! I hung one on the door of Sewing Room #1 to hold patterns that need to be filed away,


and the other hangs on the wall of Sewing Room #2 to hold patterns that I’m currently working on or are in the queue. This isn’t the best location because of the light switch but it was the best available. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll hang it on the door. Hopefully, this will at least keep everything together and keep my counters clear.


8/26/10 ETA: I didn’t mention that I copied Ann’s construction method. If you click on the link to Ann’s blog you can check it out. Basically, you are making two separate shirts and then stitching the sleeve to both at the same time. Ann’s tee is attached at the hem (she made the twisted version) and the armscye. Mine is attached at the armscye only.


Filed under Burda WOF, Sewing Studio

McCall’s 6164 – another quickie!

I wanted to try out the gathered sleeve of View A before putting the pattern away. I was kind of hating it as I was sewing but after trying it on I changed my mind. Not that I want a bunch of these hanging in my closet but it does look pretty on. This sleeve takes a few more minutes than the draped one from View B but it’s still quick to make – about 2 hours start to finish (and that’s with me pausing a lot to watch McLeod’s Daughters!).


This fabric is a nice, weighty rayon/lycra from Gorgeous Fabrics that was such a pleasure to sew. The neckline was bound the same as before but you’ll notice that I widened it a bit. I used an old favorite – Kwik Sew 2694 – as a template. Actually, that’s a really nice thing to do for yourself. Use manila paper and trace off favorite necklines, pockets, collars, etc. You can then keep these handy (I have them all on a pattern hook) and won’t have to search through your paper patterns for the originals.


I like the fact that the sleeve has a band at the bottom but it would also be nice to leave that off, omit the elastic and use drawstrings to gather up the sleeve.


I’m not quite sure what’s next on my sewing agenda. I should probably get started on my next jacket but there are still so many things I want to make for summer, sigh.


Filed under McCall's

McCall’s 6164 – a quickie!

I am always in need of more casual knit tops – they wear out so quickly, don’t they? While I usually steer clear of anything that smacks of the 1980s, I was drawn to this pattern (views A and B, in particular) so I picked one up last week. I have been dying for a black/white striped top this summer but I thought that would really take this top all the way to New Wave so I resisted. Instead I used a rayon/lycra jersey that I bought from Textile Studios ages ago. This print is kind of sweet so it’s a nice contrast to the crazy sleeves. The color is more of a blush than the light pink in some of the photos.


This top is really quick and easy to put together. I had to laugh because the pattern piece for the sleeve looks much like a one-seam pant pattern for someone with really short legs. This is sized XS, S, M, L and XL. I used the size S which covers sizes 8 and 10. I made my usual forward shoulder and swayback alterations but skipped the FBA. I shouldn’t have so next time I’ll make a very slight one. I shortened the sleeves by 3/4″, not something I usually do on a short sleeve but it seemed long and I was right to do it. The top itself was really long so I took an extra 2″ off. I thought the shoulder might be too wide since this is an 8/10 but it actually is spot on. Actually, the sizing all around seems to be a solid 8 to me so you might want to check the measurements before you cut.


The neckline is not as wide and scooped as it appears on the model. The depth is fine but I’d like it just a tiny bit wider so I’ll make that adjustment next time. I used a double-fold binding at the neckline instead of the 5/8″ double-fold narrow hem as directed by the pattern. Why, oh why, do they insist on putting that in the instructions? Has that ever, in the history of sewing, worked well? That’s the sort of thing that would reduce someone new to sewing with knits to tears. I just trimmed off the 5/8″ seam allowance and ran it through my new right-angle binder set up (which I LOOOOVE, so look forward to seeing me bind even more than I already do!). This machine will be permanently set up for binding, what a luxury!



I saw a lot of these extended shoulder lines in the runway shows so I guess that’s what drew me to this pattern. I really like these sleeves a lot. It’s always nice to make something out of the ordinary.



Filed under McCall's

HP Kaleidoscope Top – Final!

Almost final, anyway. I still have to sew on the buttons and hem the bottom but I thought I’d go ahead and post it anyway.

As you can see, I decided to leave off the sleeve ruffles. They were just too overwhelming for someone my size.


Changes I made:

*Shortened the upper bodice by 1″ (I’d take another 1/2″ off next time, I think)
*Omitted sleeve flounce
*Shortened front ruffle 11″ (could be because my fabric is so drapey)

Because my fabric is very lightweight, I didn’t have any problems with all of the layers around the neck. However, the ruffle does pull my facing down just a bit at the front despite my having removed some length from the facing to draw the neckline in.

Word of caution: if you are making the optional back darts (which I did), the back casing will end up being too long. Be sure to shorten that piece before joining it to the front casing sections.

Conclusion: This is a very cute top that works well in a lightweight fabric. Hemming the ruffles was quite laborious (I will try to cover that this week) so I’d just leave the raw edges if I made this again.


Filed under Hot Patterns

Perfect topstitching – How to get it

A few of you have asked how I get my topstitching to look so perfect. First, it’s not always perfect (in RTW either!) but thank you for thinking so!

Almost always, I use a straight-stitch foot for topstitching. I like the sort of foot that has a slot where I can see straight up to the needle. I guide my fabric right along the inner edge of the right toe so that I’m stitching about 1/16″ away from the edge (if I want to stitch about 1/4″ away from the edge, I use the outer edge of the toe as my guide). Yes, this does take practice but having the proper foot really helps – you cannot do this with a zigzag foot!



There are also specialty feet available for my commercial machines that work very well if I am in a hurry or tired. This first set is unique to the commercial world. These are compensating feet in various widths. These are available with the spring toe on the right or on the left (mine are all right except for the first one).


Here you can see the right toe rides lower than the stationary left toe so the edge of the fabric butts up against it.




You can see here that the stitches on the left are a little longer (around 2.5) than the ones on the right. The thread I am using is heavier than what I’d normally choose for a silk crepe de chine so it looks better at a slightly longer length. Always run a couple of samples before you get started.


Next is a raising foot which is more similar to what is available for domestic machines. Raising feet also come in various widths, this particular one is a right 1/16 (these also come in left). A comparable domestic foot would be an edge foot or edge guide foot which typically comes in one width only but you can move the needle to topstitch further away.




Whichever type of foot you feel the most comfortable with, the key is to just do it and practice, practice, practice (a smooth, precision sewing machine is a huge help as well). Also notice that I like a shorter stitch length. To my eye, a long stitch length on a fine fabric looks cheap so I use a length of 2 to 2.5, depending on the fabric and the thickness of thread I am using. A longer length would be used on heavier fabrics.


Filed under Tutorials