Category Archives: Dresses

I can haz two colors?

 As I mentioned in my last post, I am making some new design choices with my latest B5147 dress.  I am using a lightweight plum tweed from Paron’s as the fashion fabric, some unknown type of lining (purchased from P&S fabrics).  My thinking was that since this was tweed, I would make a more casual dress, really more of a jumper, as I know I will wear it with a shirt or turtleneck underneath it since the pattern is sleeveless.  As I was sewing the lining to the fabric at the neck, I was inspired to add topstitching to the neckline and armscye.  I thought it would punch up the sporty look of the tweed.  The topstitching combined with my exposed zipper in the back would make this dress look completely different from my silk twill version or the dressier one I made for my cousin’s wedding.

Anyhoo, getting on with it.  I had changed the thread in my machine from the yummy plummy thread to the one that matched my lining.  So when I went to topstitch, I changed it again to the yummy plummy one.  I started to merrily topstitch away when I remembered that I had read somewhere that I could use two different color threads when sewing (one color for the needle and a different one for the bobbin).  What?!?!  You don’t have to use the same color for both the bobbin and needle?  Sacrilege!  Heresy!

Cue in the gratuitous LOLcats and the muse for my post title…

image from icanhazcheezburger.com

Well, it was too late to change my bobbin thread for the neckline topstitching, but I did change it for the armscye topstitching and I love it!  I know no one will ever see it but me and my dry cleaner, but I know that it’s there and it makes me happy.  Going forward, I will make sure that drapery matches the top fabric and that the carpet matches the lining if you catch my drift.  😉 

neckline stitching on left and armscye stitching on right

In exposed zipper news, it took me a good hour and a half to two hours to insert that sucker!  But insert it I did!  I have more to discuss on the exposed zipper front, but that will have to wait until next time.  All I have to do now on this dress is hand sew the lining to the zipper tape and sew the vent/hem.  Then this puppy will be done and ready for prime time!  I hope to wear it to work this week and on Sunday when Jack and I take our annual pictures.  🙂  

Happy sewing everyone.

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Feeling exposed

Saturday night I was happily sewing along on my latest rendition of B5147 in plummy tweed.  I had just finished all my darts (all six of them on the shell) around 10:30pm.  I thought for a moment about starting the darts on the lining when I realized that I didn’t have matching thread for the lining.  Quelle horreur!  Not only that, but I didn’t have a matching zipper! 

That’s the problem with having a notion stash my friends.  You just assume you have all the supplies for every project under the sun.  Well, guess what?  Sometimes you don’t.  So that was my deciding factor to pack it up for the night. 

On Sunday, Jack and I headed over to Purl in Soho to peruse the yarn selection for his annual sweater vest.  I know I said that I probably wasn’t going to make his sweater this year, but I booked the appointment for our yearly pictures and I just can’t stand the thought of not having Jack in one of my sweaters.  Call it narcissism if you must!  After last year’s debacle, I made sure to get a color fast yarn that’s easily washable.  I chose Cascade Superwash 128 in a yummy forest green and an equally yummy ivory.  I still haven’t decided how to use the ivory yet, but will kind of “feel” it as I go I think.  

Jumping into the future:  Since I am an instant gratification person, I had to cast on Sunday night to see how the yarn looked.  I’m using Ann Budd’s book for the sweater vest pattern with a few modifications.  Me likey…

in progress: back of sweater

 

Back to the past:  Unfortunately, Purl didn’t have a large selection of thread and zippers for my new dress, so Jack and I had to walk over to P&S Fabrics to get those items.  P&S is my go to neighborhood fabric/notions store.  While their fabrics aren’t necessarily the best, you can find some bargains there occasionally and they have a decent selection of notions, buttons and yarn.  I started to panic, however, when they didn’t have an invisible zipper to match my plummy tweed.  What’s a girl to do without an invisible zipper in this modern age???  (Read: I have no idea how to insert any other kind of zipper.)  Near the zipper section, P&S has a few grubby bins filled with one-off zippers, some of them regular zippers that you could use as an exposed zipper.  Since I was already envisioning this dress as more of a jumper than an elegant sheath dress, an exposed zipper might be just the ticket!  There were two that I liked in two different lengths, 18 in and 20 in.  The pattern calls for a 20 in zipper, but an emergency call to Carolyn confirmed that an 18 in zipper would do just as well; I’m not an amazon being only 5 foot 4 inches tall.  And as it so happens, the 18 inch zipper (the one at the top of the picture with the deeper purple tape) is the one I like best with my fabric. 

Of course I have no idea how to insert an exposed zipper.  And of course, I went searching on the internet for a tutorial on how to insert one.  The tutorial I like best so far of all that I found was on the Husqvarna site (click on the exposed zipper tutorial).  That’s the one I will use tonight.

I sewed the darts in the lining last night and started to attach the lining to the dress at the neck.  I had a huge moment of inspiration at that point and am adding more detail to this simple sheath dress pattern to make it my own.  But that’s a post for another day…

I know.  I’m such a tease.  😉  

Happy sewing everyone!

Purplicity

A SHORT POP QUIZ

  1. Can one really have too much purple in their wardrobe?  A: I think not!
  2.   What do my recent wool coat and my soon to be new sheath dress have in common? A: Plum thread.

 A pleasant happenstance this evening, while choosing thread for my new sheath dress, was that I didn’t need to rethread my sewing machine.  Why?  Because the thread I used for my coat was just the right shade for my new sheath dress.  I think I have just enough thread for the project too.  How cool is that?! 

I don’t know if I’ve admitted it before, but purple is my favorite color.  And while I haven’t indulged that much in it in my wardrobe in the past, I have begun to notice a purple trend in my stash lately.  Oh, I may have conveniently forgotton that one of my winter coats is purple.  And did I mention that I recently bought purple corduroy to duplicate my father’s jacket?  I don’t think I am going to use that corduroy for this jacket now though.  I mean, how can I get away with 3 jackets/coats that are purple???  That’s just a purple overload. 

I may need to join Purple Lovers Anonymous.

I made decent progress on my dress tonight.  I could have pushed my limits and finished all the darts on the lining too tonight, but I am sensibly knocking off early.  I don’t really have any thread that matches my lining and I need to buy a zipper, so I will just wait until I can pop over to P&S tomorrow and check out their selection of thread and zippers.  I like to be matchy matchy like that.  That’s just how I roll. 

Happy purplicity everyone.

A TNT it is then

And so my next project will be my TNT sheath dress, B5147.  Are you guys bored yet?  😉

Butterick 5147

 

This time I am using a tweed I purchased from Paron’s at the NY Shopping day.  I loves me a good tweed.  Remember my tweed Burda skirt and how I enjoyed pressing that tweed and what great pleats it made?  Ahhhhh….  This tweed is in the mauvish/purple family.  I know you all are shocked by this color choice, right?

I cut it out on Monday night, but was sick yesterday.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to get to it again until Thursday, so this won’t be the quick palate cleanser I thought it would be.  But it will still be easy.  This time around I plan on making a few more changes to the TNT:

  • I added back some of the armscye that I had taken away on the dress for the wedding and will sew the side seam a little tighter right under the arm.  If you’ll remember, I showed a little too much fat in that area.  I was trying to take out the gaping there, which I did, but then ended up with a bit of a freak show as well.  I will just tighten it up at the side seam instead, thank you very much.
  • I am putting back some length to the bottom hem.  I just feel more comfortable with longer skirt. 
  • I am definitely keeping the lower neckline though.  I like it on me.  It’s still office appropriate, although I will most likely wear this with the Burda turtleneck I plan on sewing next.
  • I am also going to reduce the width of the front fish eye darts that I increased for the dress for the wedding.  Since I know I will be wearing something underneath the dress, I don’t want it hyper-form-fitting.

It feels good to be sewing again. 

Happy sewing everyone!

Lots to Show and Tell

I’m back from the wilds of the Midwest and have lots to report.  I met my new niece Chloe who’s cute as a button.  Jack fell in love with her and was so sweet with her.  He loved caressing her little head.  So cute to see him be so tender.  🙂 

As for those of you asking for pictures of the dress in action at the wedding (ahem, Karen), sorry but no actions shots were taken.  I just was not in a dancing mood I guess, and I felt shy about asking anyone to take a picture.  Here’s my take on how the dress “wore” though.  I’m stealing the interview idea from Tasia

How did the dress look?  It looked pretty good standing still and as I was running. 

What do you mean by “standing still” and “running”?  Well, when I stood talking to people it looked great.  It was also fine as I was running to the wedding after the taxi driver dropped me off at the opposite end of the pier.  I had to sprint about two football lengths in 7 minutes with another wedding attendee.  Both of us looked mahvelous!  😉  

So how did it look sitting?  Funny you should ask actually, as that was the part with which I was most dissatisfied.  When I sat down at the wedding ceremony, my dress rode up so high pooling at my waist and thighs, almost 3 inches of my lining was left exposed for all to see.

Why on earth did it ride up so high???  Well, I suspect the underlining was the culprit.  I used silk organza because I was being all fancy.  The last time I underlined (the Christian LaCroix skirt), all I had on hand was cotton batiste, which worked, but this time I was prepared with yards and yards of silk organza.  As most of you know, silk organza has a stiff hand, which helps enormously with preventing SBS (Saggy Bottom Syndrome otherwise known as bagging out) and wrinkling.  It also has the added effect of giving the fashion fabric more body.  In the case of my Vera Wang fabric, too much body, as the brocade had body already, just needed the protection against SBS.  I should have used cotton batiste in retrospect.  *sigh*   Live and learn I guess…

Any other things you liked or disliked about this version of B5147?  I’m so glad you asked.  Dislikes: If you’ll recall, I altered the armscye to cut in towards the chest.  Boy was that a big oops and I will be putting that back in.  Now everyone has the viewing pleasure of the fleshy area between my arm and chest.  Isn’t that a great visual?  Bet you didn’t know that area could even be fat.  Likes: Love the scoop neck.  Not too deep but just deep enough.  I also pegged the skirt near the knees and really like that silhouette.  And I loved the sheathier look of widening the fisheye darts in the front of the dress; they were much more figure flattering.  I will definitely keep those changes for future iterations if there are any.

Will you make any more B5147’s?  Hmmm… Not sure.  My teacher Thea thinks that I can get a much more flattering fit with less fiddling around with a princess seamed sheath dress, so I am going to try another dress soon.  I’m considering the Simplicity Amazing Fit sheath dress, S2648.

What’s next in your project queue?  I am finally getting to my Fall coat for the Trench Sew Along.  I am making another Simplicity pattern, S5380.  I already have my purple wool, bought the purple charmeuse at the PR Shopping day a couple of weeks ago, and today I ran out to buy cotton flannel with which to interline the coat.  Not sure how much tailoring I am going to end up doing.  We’ll see how in depth I’m willing to go later.

**********************************************************************

Ok, enough with the pseudo interview.  Do you want to see pictures of my new baby up close and personal like?  I’m talking about the Singer Featherweight 221 from 1938 that received this past weekend.  Oh boy am I excited and yet a little intimidated.  The directions on how to just thread the machine don’t make any sense to me.  It came with a bunch of feet, most of which I have no idea what they are for.  Can any of you deduce their purposes?

Original manual!!!

My very own buttonholer!!!

Slightly broken zigzagger with inscrutable manual

Here are the feet for which I have no idea of their purposes:

I think this might be a quilting guide but a slightly bent one

a ruffler perchance?

some kind of binder? if so, what kind?

Let me know if you know what feet I actually have.  Can’t wait to start playing with them all.  I am super excited about the Singer Buttonholer!!!

Happy sewing everyone!

Quick post with pictures

I am jammed for time here.  I would love to wax poetic about the PR Shopping day this past weekend.  To tell you how awesome it was to meet Robin IRL.  How great it was to see old friends.  But let me get straight to the goodies, because time is short here at Chez Elizabeth.

Our group was so large, we had to split into two groups for the first two stores which opened specially for us, Metro Textiles and Elliott Berman.  I spent most of my fabric budget at these stores. 

At Elliott Berman I bought a Missoni sweater knit which will become a fall tunic (pattern TBD) and a beautiful silk (TNT sheath dress anyone?).

Elliott Berman

Then I really went wild at Metro Textiles.  Kashi had so many great fabrics.  I bought this gorgeous, I mean gorgeous wool silk boucle in gun metal grays and he had a matching silk charmeuse.  I also bought a metallic gray knit for a date night top. 

Metro Textiles

Closeup of boucle

Then I couldn’t pass up this wool knit in purple, my favorite color.  And who could leave there without the ubiquitous border knit?!

Metro Textiles

Let’s not forget the silk charmeuse (on the right in the picture below) to line my fall coat and my first double knit for a, wait for it, sheath dress. I have a feeling one never forgets their first double knit.  *sigh*  On the left, is my only fabric from Parons, a mauve tweed.  I heart tweed. 

Parons and Metro Textile

By the time we reached Parons I think we were all fabric fatigued.  But it was a fun day.  Again, so glad that so many people came to shop from locales far and wide. 

And, now I know you were all wondering if I finished my dress for my cousin’s wedding which is this weekend.  Well….

I did.  I’ll do a full review of all the alterations I made when I am back from the Midwest, but for now…  Here are some pictures to tide you over.

Hope you all have a great week and Labor Day weekend!

Alterations

I found out last night that I didn’t make it to the finals of the PatternReview Natural Fibers contest.  I am a little disappointed, but not surprised; the other entries in the silk category were stunning. 

But in more exciting sewing news…  I finally started my dress for the wedding next week, another iteration of B5147.  It’s probably going to be a fingernail biting race to the finish.  Hey, maybe I should hire a play-by-play announcer.  “Will Elizabeth finish the dress in time for her cousin’s wedding?  Will she be hand sewing the hem on the flight?  Stay tuned next time to find out!”  Hahah!

So, I think part of the reason for my procrastination, I mean hesitation in starting this next dress was that I had to transfer all my alteration changes to the pattern and then cut out 3 fabrics (the underlining, the lining and the fashion fabric).  I have decided that tracing and cutting are my least favorite activities associated with sewing.  Can we get to the sewing part already??? 

If you will recall, the changes I made to the B5147 sheath dress were to deepen the neckline, decrease the shoulder strap width, change the shape of the armscye and increase the fisheye darts for a more fitted look and a bit more dressy/evening-ish look.   Once I transferred the change markings to the original muslin, I found I had a problem.  Can you see it below?

The pattern wasn’t flat.  I had known that I would have to change the side seam somewhat because of the wedge I added, but I didn’t expect that the pattern wouldn’t be flat.  As you can see above, there’s a pouf on the CF fold edge and the CF fold was no longer straight.  That’s not a very practical CF fold then, now is it? 

My first thought was to make a perpendicular cut on the CF fold line and then fold out the pouf until it was flat, but then I would have had to distort the fish eye dart.  Also, by doing that, I would swing the CF line out by almost 4.5 inches.  Then I would have to completely redraw the entire skirt of the dress, both sides.  Needless to say, I was very frustrated, and had no idea how to proceed. 

My next thought was to call Thea.  But as we all know by now, Elizabeth is a visual person.  So Thea’s explanations over the phone were next to incomprehensible to me. 

Next thought?  Wait for it… it’s brilliant.  Consult one of the many fit books in my sewing library.  You know, the ones I haven’t read at all?  The first book to find its way into my hands was Nancy Zieman’s Pattern Fitting with Confidence.  I looked at the section about increasing a dart which is how I got into this whole mess in the first place.  I won’t go into great detail about her methods but the gist of this alteration is you have to increase the length of your pattern by the amount you increased your bust dart.  This makes total sense.  When you increase the bust dart, you are actually shortening the side seam of your pattern once the dart is sewn.  Remember, if you make a change in one place on a pattern, you will most likely have to make a change elsewhere to maintain the integrity and shape of the pattern.  Nancy (we’re on a first name basis now that I’ve actually opened her book) uses the pivot and slide method.  Basically you move around the original pattern making marks on a blank paper to create a new pattern with your own alterations.  So for the increase a bust dart instructions, you determine how much you will increase your dart and use that measurement to increase the length to the pattern piece.  This was a lightbulb moment for me.  Essentially, that’s what Thea and I did with the wedge we added at the side seam to keep the hip curve in the right place after increasing the dart.  But I needed to add the length across the entire piece, not just at the side.  So the wedge became a rectangle added below the dart but above the hip curve.  Ta da!

As you can see in the picture of above, I had to redraw the fisheye dart after adding in my rectangle (that’s the fisheye dart that I widened at the top under the bust so I had a more fitted look in front).  Now I didn’t sew this up again, but I did pin up the bust dart and made sure the front side seam matched the back side seam all the way from the armscye to the hem.  And it did.  Perfectly. 

I made some progress on my dress so far.  I cut out the fashion fabric and the underlining.  I basted the front pattern pieces together with silk thread and staystitched the neck and armscyes.  Next up is basting the back pieces of the underlining and fashion fabric together then stay stitching and cutting out the lining.  Since the fashion fabric I’m using  is very different from the silk twill I used for the last version of this dress, I am only going to baste the side seams to check for fit one last time before I sew this puppy up. 

I have four more evenings and three nap times (Jack’s, not mine) before the wedding.  I think I might just be able to finish this.  It will definitely be a nail biter though!

Tonight though, this momma has a date!  Should I wear the Christian LaCroix skirt or the silk twill dress?

Happy sewing everyone!