Category Archives: TNT's

Super-duper excited

about my B5147 morph from day into evening-wear project!!!  

So I know Robin’s been experiencing drama here and here with her first version of B5147 and I can’t keep my hands off tweaking the bodice (sounds almost r rated!). But I am excited to report that I have found nirvana with my fit for this bodice.  Here are the changes I made to the bodice to make it more fitting for evening wear (get it?  “fitting”?) AND to be more flattering fit-wise too: 

  • scooped out the neckline by 3 inches to give a more evening look.  I came at this measurement by trying on my silk twill version and measuring down from the existing neckline to where I wanted the evening dress neckline to be.
  • sculpted out the side of the shoulder strap/armscye area to give a more evening look.  Adjusted the width of the back shoulder strap to match the front.
  • widened the top portion of both fisheye darts to pull in the bodice under the girls, thereby giving a more flattering silhouette to the waist of bodice.  I am really proud of this change working out well because I just kind of eyeballed it.  No math involved!
  • increased the bust dart again by 1/4 inch on the top to reduce draglines at the side.
  • added 3/4 inch wedge below the bust dart to restore length to the side seam and maintain integrity of the hip curve after altering the bust dart.
  • pinched out a 1/4 inch of the outer shoulder seam for the front only, tapering to the inner shoulder seam to reduce gaping of the armscye.

B5147 front pattern altered with neck, dart and armscye changes

 

B5147 back pattern with shoulder strap altered to match front

 

fisheye dart widened

 

Bust dart increased and wedge added

 

I might need to tweak the following on the final dress, but will do it during construction, basting as I go: 

  • take a titch out from the front at the armscye side seam, maybe a 1/4 inch tapering to nothing at the dart to reduce armscye gaping.
  • pinch out the same amount from inner shoulder seam to reduce neckline gaping.
  • straighten up side seam after adding the wedge under the bust dart.

I should have taken a picture of the muslin on me, because I was really happy with the fit, but I didn’t insert the zipper.  I just had Thea pin up the back at the seam allowance to mimic the zipper.  Then I forgot to take a picture after we were done with our fitting.  Sorry!  Suffice it to say, that I am very happy with the fit of this dress now.  And I love that I have an evening version of this sheath dress. 

Unfortunately, I won’t have time to sew until next week as Jack and I have a very full weekend planned.   But at least I have figured out all the major stuff and can just cut and start sewing next week.  I am going to underline the brocade with silk organza as it is quite a loose weave and bags out if you just look or breathe on it.  That will add some time to the process, but it will be well worth it in the end.    

Happy sewing everyone!

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B5147 – The Silk Twill Edition

I finally finished it!  But boy do I understand UFO’s now.  If you don’t finish it right away, it is likely to languish for an indeterminate amount of time.  It’s not that you don’t love it anymore.  It’s just about lost momentum.  If I hadn’t decided to enter this dress into the Pattern Review/ASE Natural Fibers Contest, I might not have finished this dress for a long time. 

Without further ado, some pictures courtesy of my sister, Meredith.  Although there was a lot of pushing and biting during the photo shoot (our kids, not my sister and me), we managed to get a few shots worth posting.  One note about the pictures first, though, if you will indulge me: I could not get the head on picture to look flattering no matter how I stood.  Trust me when I say that it is much more flattering in person.  Not sure why it looks the way it does.  My sister, a kind soul, said it was the lens she was using. 

No, I did not put in the hook and eye yet.  I hate sewing those on.  But I will.  Maybe…  Someday…  Maybe…  Oh wait, I’m submitting this for a contest.  Ok.  I will.  *shrugging resignedly*

With this version of B5147, I made the following changes:

  • increased the bust dart, at the bottom of it only, by about 1 cm, thereby taking out some (but unfortunately not all) of the drag line that points to the bust area.  Partial success.  May increase the dart more on the next version.
  • I staystitched both the neck and armscye area on both the lining and silk to maintain the shape integrity.  Success!
  • hemmed the lining before finishing the slit lining for a cleaner finish.  Me likey!
  • zig zag finished the silk hem allowance. I thought serging it would be too bulky and show through whenever the dress is pressed.  I thought I would hate the zig zag finish and that it would be inadequate for this fabric, but was pleasantly surprised how well it worked and looked.  An oldie but a goodie method!
  • Again, I hand stitched the hem.  I was worried that even hand stitching would show on this silk twill, but, again, I was pleasantly surprised that it did not.  Yeah!

Some interior pictures… 

finished slit with hand edgestitching and slipstitching

hand slipstitched lining

 

Now that I have made 3 iterations of this dress (including the muslin), I have some doubts as to it’s viability in my TNT project.  And in case you are wondering at this point, yes, I am very picky. 

Here are my thoughts:

  • even if I adjust the bust dart, I think the shape of the shoulder straps/armscye is wrong for me.  It needs to be a thinner strap on the outside (meaning closest to the arm rather than the body) and/or the armscye needs to be cut in (closer to the body) a bit more.  The shapelessness in that area makes me look larger than I am.
  • the neckline, while being very comfortable for me, is probably not as flattering as it could be.  A V-neck is much more flattering to C-cups and larger as it does away with the “bag o’ boobs” look.

Can I change these things myself?  Maybe.  But, as I have already found out, sometimes you have no idea how a change in one area might affect another completely different area.  And I really don’t want to experiment for months on end.  I’d rather just try to find a sheath dress with the elements I now know that I want and muslin it for personal fit from there. 

What’s next?  I have some baby stuff to make, a dress for my cousin’s wedding, and fall coat.  That’s a lot to accomplish in August, but I gotta try!

Wish me luck!

Muslin Surprise

Thea was over last night and we worked on fitting my muslin for the B5147 dress.  Remember how I said that it probably only needed a swayback adjustment?  Well, I was completely off the mark.

If you will recall, I needed to set in the zipper better, so I basted that in more accurately and tried it on again.  As soon as I saw it on me again, I knew no swayback adjustment was necessary.  Then Thea went to work on helping me fit the muslin.  Here’s what we did:

  • raised the back 1 inch (need to remember to increase the bottom by one inch to compensate)
  • added 1/4 inch at the side seams for a total increase of 1 inch
  • my left hip is much straighter in shape than my right hip so I straightened the curve and took in that side seam a little more because it was pooching out
  • lowered the bust dart about 3/4 inch and changed the angle a little lower as it was too high for my bust
  • raised the hem by about 6 inches (man! this dress is long!)
  • changed the back sleeve shape decreasing it about 3/8 inch
  • decreased the side seam under the arm about 3/8 for a closer fit (might add some back as it’s a little tight across the back)

Here’s what the muslin looks like so far.  We only made the changes to one side of the muslin (my left, your right as you look at the picture), although we let out both side seams and raised the back on both shoulders originally.

It looks pretty good as is now, but I still want to tweak it a little further.  I think I overfitted in some areas and removed too much ease.  While I can still sit down in the dress, it’s a little too fitted looking and for my liking.  Also, I still have drag lines pointing to the bust.  I have solution to that (see below).  So here’s what I have to do next:

  • add an inch to the hem of the back pattern piece to account for raising the back
  • add a complete 5/8 SA to the pattern pieces since I let out the side seam by a 1/4 inch
  • add back in a pinch at the left hip SA due to over fitting
  • add a little less than 1/8 inch to bust dart tapering to the point
  • add back about 1/8 inch to under arm SA to get better ease for the back
  • now that the back is raised, I have to cut down the back neck 1 inch to the original placement

So once I have made all those changes and check the fit one last time, I am ready to use this muslin as my pattern.  Once I’ve made sure all the marks are made, I can cut out my good fabric.  I still haven’t chosen which fabric I will use to make my first iteration of this dress.  So many to choose from!  But that’s a happy problem.  And folks, yes, this will be my TNT sheath dress pattern.  I love it!!!

Thoughts on the fitting process: 

  • I’m really glad that I had Thea to help me fit this dress.  I would never have known to raise the back at all; it would not have occurred to me in a million years.
  • I think you really need a fitting buddy, preferably someone who is knowledgeable, if you’re a beginner like me.
  • the change you need is never the one you think of initially, at least for me.  This is NOT intuitive for me at all.
  • It’s almost never just one change.  One thing leads to another to another.  😉 

But the most important lesson learned?  Fitted garments are flattering, no matter what your shape!

Happy fitting everyone!

My light bulb moment

Or how Carolyn made me come to Jesus.  Carolyn and I were trading emails today about work wardrobes.  I told her that the nude dress she made in recent months was a light bulb moment for me in sewing.  Here I was trying all these patterns with some sort of bling in the details.  Remember my first Burda pattern, the skirt with the drape pleat?  How about my attempt at the Knip Mode skirt (or what Thea called my Crazy Skirt)?  And then Carolyn sews this simple yet elegant and beautiful nude dress.  She looked fantastic, svelte, and so classy.  And oh so perfect for the environment in which we both work, finance.  It was then that I realized I was on the wrong track.  I was being mesmerized by kitschy details when I should be learning how to sew simple and classic things that will work with my real life. 

Then we met up for a fabric lunch at Kashi’s (Metro Textiles) to meet the fabulous Eugenia of Eugenia’s (Fabulous) World of Fashion.  Eugenia is a lovely fellow sewist whose sewing pursuits I have read about for quite a while now.  It was such a treat to meet her since she lives in London, and really, how often does one get to London?  And then a random woman in the store stopped Carolyn (who was wearing her amazing red dress with the racing stripe today!) and it was Opal of Opal’s Passions.  Now I confess, I hadn’t yet come across her blog before, but I am definitely putting it on my google reader list now!  She was wearing that amazing McCalls dress that everyone’s been making lately, M6069.  Now I have to make it too!!!

Here’s one picture, courtesy of Carolyn, documenting our visit (Carolyn is not pictured as she was the one who took the picture.  DUH!).  And yes, apparently I do look that dumpy in person.  Sheesh.  Never wearing that suit again, I can tell you.

The lunch was too short but it was fun.  And productive!  Although I didn’t buy a stitch of fabric (shocking I know!), I left there having been “come to Jesus-ed” by the best of them, Carolyn.  She asked me why I haven’t made any woven dresses and I told her I was scared of fitting them.  And then they all ganged up on me and told me I should get over it and start working on some dresses.  Carolyn and Opal pointed out the obvious that when you make a dress, you have a complete outfit; there’s no need for any other item.  Whereas, if you make a skirt, you have to make a top to go with it. 

Well, I came home all fired up.  I went through all my copious patterns and narrowed it down to three contenders, B5147, B5314, and V8146.

Butterick 5147

Butterick 5314

Vogue 8146

 

I’d do a poll, but I am already leaning towards B5147 right now.  I think it has all the features I’m looking for: darts for fitting, open collar, but not too daring, and simplicity (the fabric will shine here).  Understated elegance.  And the bonus???  IT’S A LINED PATTERN!!!!  I don’t have to “figure” crap out.  Love. That!

I have some more news, but that will have to wait for another post.  Hahaha!  I’m such a tease.

Happy sewing everyone!  I am about to enter the muslin zone.

The zebra print that never was

The next thing on my list to make was a skirt (using my TNT pattern, Simplicity 2452) using my newly purchased zebra print cotton pique from Elliott Berman Textiles.  Imagine my surprise when I pulled out said fabric and it wasn’t a zebra print, but was, in fact, a graphic plant print.  I think it’s bamboo leaves, but am not sure.  So here I was thinking I was being so on trend with a soon to be made zebra print skirt and it’s just a bamboo leaf print.  Oh well.  My memory ain’t what it used to be I guess.

At any rate, I love my new skirt!  Nothing much to report on the construction other than that I should have listened to my inner voice and underlined the cotton pique.  It’s a loose weave and quickly loses its shape.  Underlining would have helped with wrinkling as well.  Oh well, I still love the skirt and am wearing it to work.  It still took three days to make it though.  I don’t seem to be getting any faster here folks.  I am a little frustrated by that, but I am still managing to make wearable items.  So I guess I should just be thankful.  *big sigh* 

Oh one cool thing about this TNT skirt that I did differently with this iteration.  After I had finished the construction of both fashion fabric and lining, I tried it on.  And. It. Was. Too. Big!!!  I had to take in the side seams at the hips about 3/8 on both front and back for a total reduction of 1.5 inches.  I guess my workouts have been working.  *pats self on back*  The scale tells a different story (haven’t lost a pound), but at least my clothes are fitting differently.  I probably should change the facing as well, but I had already done all the work and wasn’t going to completely redo the whole skirt. 

But enough wordy stuff already.  Here’s the proof of the pudding (with Jack’s cousins as extra cute bits)…

Happy sewing everyone!

What I did on my summer vacation

Warning:  Really long and picture heavy post.  

As I mentioned in my last post, I am on vacation this week.  I always take the week of Jack’s birthday off and my parents come and visit.  We’ve had a great time so far.  Me especially.  I took advantage of every down minute I had to work with my wondrous new fabric from Elliott Berman (Lindsay T did an excellent review of this store).  I visited their showroom last Friday with Lindsay T, Carolyn, and Allison.    

at Mood fabrics

At Elliott Berman

I walked out with this beautiful, beautiful fabric by Christian LaCroix.  It’s the most expensive fabric I’ve bought to date.  Now I know a lot of sewists save their expensive fabrics for special projects, but I knew right away what I was going to make with this fabric, a pencil skirt.  This fabric needed a simple pattern that would showcase its beauty and a pencil skirt with no waistband fit the bill perfectly.  And wouldn’t you know, but I just so happen to have a pencil skirt pattern ready to go, Simplicity 2452.  

If you will recall, I wanted to tweak the pattern a bit the next time I made it, so I went ahead and added my tweaks.  I changed the side zip to a center back zip.  I changed the vent to a slit.  And then I….  

Wait, are you sitting down?  

Ok, I. DRAFTED. MY. OWN. FACING.  Did you hear that?  I drafted my own facing.  No really, I did.  Ordinarily, I would pester or hound email Thea or Karen for advice on how to do a facing.  Or I would google it for hours on end.  But not this time.  I had a deadline —  a family dinner at a French restaurant on Wednesday night.  Come hell or high water I was going to wear my Christian LaCroix skirt to that dinner.  So, I just did it.  No ambivalence.  No over thinking the problem or task at hand.  I just drafted a facing.  I laid out my skirt (at this point it was mostly constructed and I am slightly going out of order here in the telling of this tale, but that’s my prerogative, isn’t it?) and flattened it out as much as possible.  I traced the top of the skirt onto pattern paper and cut it out.  I meant to make a two inch facing, but forgot to include one of the seam allowances so it ended up being a 1.5 inch facing.  Hey, cut me some slack!  This was my first time drafting anything.  Sheesh!  I chose to add a facing to this pattern as I didn’t really like the twill tape method that I used (per the instructions) in my last skirt.  Let me tell you folks… The facing is a superior method.  My skirt feels so nice on and really sturdy.  I interfaced it as well so it’s really substantial; that waist is not gonna stretch out.  No way!  

self drafted facings

finished facing

For the other beginners out there who have no idea how to draft or prepare lining patterns, I will explain how I went about creating the lining for this skirt.  If I wasn’t adding a facing, I would just used the skirt pattern pieces and be done with it.  But I since I did add a facing, I had to deduct area of the facing from the area of the lining.  I thought about using the same method of laying out my skirt shell and copying it with tracing paper, but with the darts, it was already a 3D garment.  So what I ended up doing was the following (I didn’t have time to research another way, so if there is a better method out there please let me know):  I constructed the lining the same as the skirt, including the stay stitching and all the darts.  Then I sewed another line of stay stitching 3 inches down from the top of my prepared lining.  Once that was done, I cut a 1/2 inch above that.  That way I included my seam allowance and it was exactly where the facing left off.  When I sewed them together, they matched flawlessly.  Ta-da!  

I did ask Lindsay T for some advice in handling this fabric as I know she’s had a lot of experience with fancier fabrics and she had seen and felt the fabric in person.  She suggested that I underline it with organza.  I didn’t have any organza or time to shop for it.  So I punted and used some ivory cotton batiste I had on hand.  I cut it out exactly like the skirt pieces, no added width.  I didn’t know at that point that I could have french seamed at the same time as underlining; I found that out after I google for underlining tutorials.  Laura Lo has a great tutorial (and can I just take a minute to say how much I really miss her blog.  I love her sense of style and the great tutorials she provided and, most of all, seeing all the beautiful clothes she made).  Since my fabric was real ravelly, I knew I was going to serge the SA’s anyway.  So I serged them together with the batiste.  One note: I did construct the underlining separately from the fabric before basting.  And I pressed the darts the opposite direction of the fashion fabric.  

  

Another thing that I had to differently for this special fabric was I had to thread trace the darts as chalk or tracing paper would not work on this weave.   This worked really well, but was time consuming.   

darts are thread traced

Basically this skirt was easy to sew, but with the underlining, the facing and lining, I added a lot steps to the process.  I think with all the hand sewing I did (basting the underlining, attaching the lining to the zipper, tacking down the lining to the slit, hand sewing the hem, etc) I have over 20 hours clocked in on this skirt.  But I love it.  This is my princess skirt.  I feel so pretty wearing it.  It feels substantial.  It is the most professional garment I have made yet and I am really proud of it.  

Now for some more pictures…  

Front

The only cutting error I made was on the front, but it’s really minor and I think only other sewists will notice.  I was so careful to cut on one of the lines of the pattern for the hem, but didn’t notice or line up the diamonds in the center of the skirt.  I was more careful with the back.   

back

On Monday, I dragged took Jack to P&S Fabrics in search of suitable matching lining for my skirt.  He was a good sport about it.  I bought a lot of lining actually as it was only $2.50/yd there.  I only bought 1 yd of the lilac though as I thought I wouldn’t probably use it again.  I found some lilac stretch lace in my lace stash; it was a perfect match.  I’ve always admired Carolyn’s lace hems for her linings and wanted to try it out.   I love it and will definitely do it again and again!

lining with lace hem

I used an invisible zipper and inserted it perfectly on the first try.  I hope I’m not jinxing myself for future zippers.  My only difficulty is getting the top to be even.  Hmm… not sure what’s going on with that.  The fabric lines up beautifully though and there’s no puckering at the base, so I am happy with it.  

invisible zipper with hand stitched lining

invisible zipper, check out that fabric matching!

I forgot to mention that I used the “wrong” side of the fabric.  While I adore the much more silvery “right” side, it was just a little too blingy for every day use.  Since I want to be able to wear this to work, I used the side that had more black showing than silver.  *Sigh*  

Are you sick of the pictures yet?  

hand sewn hem

Slit interior, lining is tacked onto the fashion fabric

And now for some pictures of the skirt on me, courtesy of my sister.  Thanks Mer!  

  

  

  

If you’re still here after this long post, thank you!  I am so excited about this skirt.  It has a lot of firsts in it for me:  

  • Drafting!  Wow, still can’t believe I pulled this one off.
  • Underlining
  • Lace hem
  • Working with very fancy fabric

Thank you’s are warranted for Lindsay T, Carolyn, Karen and of course, where would I be without my fantastic teacher, Thea.  Thank you all for your patience and for sharing your expertise with me.  

I did wear my skirt to dinner this past Wednesday and love it.  I am going to wear it to Jack’s bday party too, inappropriate  though it might be for a 3 yr old gymnastics party.    😉   

Not sure what I’m working on next, still basking in the glow of this project.  Happy sewing to you though!

Pattern Review – New Look 6901

Pattern Description: Misses Six Sizes in One Just 4 Knits.  Includes one drape neck top and one mock wrap top plus skirt. I made the drape neck top as I have been coveting that kind of top for a long time.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 8-18, I made the size 12 with a cheater FBA from Debbie Cook’s blog after a disastrously ginormous muslin in a sz 16.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes I guess. It’s just an illustration, so you don’t get a real sense of how it fits.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were pretty easy to understand even for a beginner.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the drape neck but wonder if it really works for a c cup size or larger. I had difficulty making it work with my girls even after the FBA; it kept draping behind them. Hard to describe though.

Still a little tight at the bust, but acceptable

The pattern has a facing for the back neck which I found really hard to work with. Sewing it completely distorted the neckline on my muslin. So for my final version, I just folded the back neck over and sewed it done. Perfectly serviceable and minimal distortion.

Back neck

The sleeve cap ease is RIDICULOUS. My sewing teacher redrew the sleeve cap for me, but it was still too big when I made the final version. I still needed to ease it in.

Fabric Used: I used a cotton lycra knit from which I have made a dress in the past. I have so much left over that I am using it for knit muslins from now on. I bought it from Gorgeous Fabrics back in the beginning of my on-line fabric days when I didn’t know how much yardage I needed for any given project. Ahh learning curves, love ’em or hate ’em?

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: For my final iteration, I traced the sz 12 for the neck and torso but moved out 3 sizes at the armscye to a sz 18 for my cheater FBA on both the front and back pattern pieces. While this seemed to help the pulling at the bust in front, it didn’t quite eliminate it altogether.  The rest of the fit was much improved from the ginormous sz 16 muslin I made: much more fitted without being too hoochie mama. Although this top does require a fair amount of sucking in the tummy to maintain a good line.   😉 

front cheater FBA

I used a blind hem stitch on the sleeves (see picture above)  and should have done the same for the hem of the shirt, but instead tried out stitch witchery. What a mess that stuff is. Due to lack of planning, I had some SW scraps on my ironing board and accidentally adhered them to my iron. What a PITA!!!! Anyway, the hem is a little wavy, but seems secure. I don’t know if it will hold up in the wash though. Guess I will find out soon enough. I really need to get on the twin needle band wagon or see if I can find a used coverstitch machined on craigslist.

I already mentioned the sleeve cap alteration and the neck band change I made above.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? While I find my final version wearable, I don’t think I will make this again for myself. This drape top does not play well with c cups and above. I might try the mock wrap top version to see how that works though. I recommend this pattern to people with b cups or smaller and you will definitely need to go down 2 sizes from their printed measurement suggestions.  I don’t think this will become a TNT for me.  On to the next pattern…

Conclusion: Cute pattern for smaller busted women. Sizing is ginormous. But instructions are easy to read and understand.