March 2010

Ambitions of empire

So Sunday night I thought I’d start on the harder dress: the empire knit that I need to draft a pattern for.  This is actually my second attempt at drafting an empire-line knit dress.  The last one failed both for structural reasons (never use 4-way stretch knit for a dress!) and for design reasons (I think I was too timid in adding fullness for the gathers).  Here’s what I want to end up with— a loose dress with gathers at the sleeves, bust, and the top of the skirt:

Seems simple, no?  I decided to start from the Burda 7759 bodice that I’d muslined back in January.  Fortunately I still had the bodice muslin lying around.  Unfortunately it no longer fits.  Now, on the one hand the muslin is woven and the dress is going to be a stretch knit, so the fact that the bodice fits…er…snugly might mean it’s just right for the knit.  On the other hand the look I’m going for is more loose than fitted.  At the moment I decided to enlarge the pattern by one size and see how that looks, but I’m open to suggestions.

Here’s what I’ve done so far.  First, I rotated the front dart to the bottom and smoothed out the curve where the gathers will go:

Next, I added fulness to the sleeve base by slashing and spreading (as described in Adele):

Then I drafted a simple A-line skirt and slashed and spread for the skirt gathers.  I have no idea if this is too much or too little spreading:

I have to say I really like working on this.  There’s a particular joy I feel when I don’t really know what I’m doing but am blazing ahead anyway in the hopes that it will all work out.  Or at least that I will learn something.  What I’m wondering about at the moment is whether and how to muslin this.  In principle it seems like a good idea but I don’t have another knit with the same weight and stretch.  And if I use a very different knit will what I learn transfer?  So I’m thinking I might just cut the bodice pieces a little big and see how it looks as it comes together.  I think I have enough fabric to cut a second bodice if I screw the first one up too badly.  And if the skirt is too wide I can always cut it down.  What do you think?  Advice?  Suggestions?


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Hasty maternity sewing

What the hell happened?  One minute it was late winter and most of my clothes still fit, the next minute it was 70° outside and my jeans were feeling rather….constraining.  So I spent a good part of Saturday finishing this:

This is the vintage Vogue pattern I posted the other day (V7800).  As predicted it was very easy to sew.  I didn’t even make a muslin!  Just lined it up with my dress sloper, saw that it was about the same width at the hips, and went ahead and cut.  The only alteration I made was to widen the neckline a little (more flattering for me and now it slips over my head with no zipper).  I also shortened it at the back yoke because the yoke line seemed to fall a little low.

I like that the dress has a bit of shape, which means I think it works even without the belt.  Also it seems to have plenty of room for expansion:

The fabric was a little tricky to work with.  It’s a synthetic blend from Gorgeous Fabrics and I think I’ve been spoiled by sewing with wool all winter.  It’s very drapey and loosely-woven so it didn’t want to stay put, especially when sewing around curves or on the bias (like at the yokes and shoulder seams).  Also the texture is just large enough to read as stripes or plaid and I didn’t pay that much attention when I was cutting it out.  So some parts aren’t as horizontal as they might be.  So it goes…

I think I’ll be making more of these dresses.  Wouldn’t it be cute in a bold print?  Maybe something like this:

(Image from lucy’s fabrics. No I haven’t bought this one yet.)

Or in this purple charmeuse:

(from FFC.  This one I do have.)

What do you think?  Too much?


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Fancy pants

I love these pants!

Side view tucked in so you can see the waistband:

Close-up of the waistband.  So proud of these.

I’m thinking of adding more eyelets to the belt but I kind of like it plain like this.  I was hoping they’d last me through the cold weather but they may only fit for another week.  We’ll see…


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Thanks to everyone for your congratulations.  The baby is due at the beginning of September, and yes, this was the first mention.  Thanks especially to those commenting for the first time.  It really is a treat to hear from people.

The textured pants are almost done.  Every time I read someone saying they can throw together a pair of pants in a few hours I am filled with horrible jealousy.  It never takes me less than two weeks to make a pair of pants, and that’s assuming I have the pattern muslined and ready to go.  Between the yoke pockets, fly, and waistband there always seem to be more time-consuming details to finish.  But it is so worth it.  Home-made (and home-fit) pants are soooooo much more comfortable than ready-to-wear.

I spent a long time tweaking the fit on these, fiddling with the darts and the side seams to get them to sit properly.  Everything is done now except the waistband.  (Well, and hemming.)  The inside seams are all finished, the lining is in (I’ve never owned a pair of lined trousers before), and the fly is done.  I think this is the best fly construction I’ve done, so I had to post a picture.  Inside (before adding the underlap):

And outside (with underlap):

I’m copying the waistband design for these from a pair of J Crew pants that I found at a thrift store years ago:

I love this built-in buckle design.  It gives the comfort and polish of a belt without the hassle of wearing one.  But finding the hardware for it was a bit of a problem.  Searching for “belt buckles” online turned up many an american-eagle-themed monstrosity, and nothing like the simple design I was looking for.  Fortunately I found exactly what I wanted on a belt at Goodwill.  At $2 for the belt it was also exactly my price.  This evening I ran up to the local fabric store (Sewfisticated) to try to find matching eyelets.  These are a little brighter than the buckle but I’m hoping they will dull with time.

While I was there I noticed they still had some of the black wool/poly jersey I used for my second cafe cardigan.  What luck!  I was looking for a nice black knit to make the extra-long-sleeved top in the first spring outfit.  This isn’t sparkly but I think it will do.  It’s soft enough to wear against the skin and lightweight, but still warm enough for a cool spring day.  (I’m really inspired to start on those outfits after hearing people’s positive feedback.  I had thought the first one was a little weird and roo-ish but it sounds like people liked it.  I’m still waiting for the dress and tunic patterns but now I’ll be able to start on the knit top.)

Finished pictures soon, I promise.


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Transition 2010

The months of March through May are tricky to sew for.  The catalogs are full of bright frilly dresses, while the weather (and my temperament) are more suited to drab wool tights and layers.  It’s still pretty cold, except when it isn’t.  And it’s probably going to pour at any second.

This year they are particularly tricky because they happen to coincide with the second trimester of my pregnancy (!).  So not only is the weather changeable, so are my measurements.  And while my well-meaning friends keep assuring me that it isn’t noticeable yet, I can tell, and my tape measure can tell, and the waistbands of the majority of my pants and skirts sure can tell.

All of which means it’s a fine time to plan some new clothes.  As usual, my plans far outstrip my time and ability to sew.  They are also only marginally constrained by what I might realistically wear.

Let’s start with the less wearable:

I love outfits with a lot of long neutral layers.  The mix of lengths and tones gives them visual interest while the subdued palette keeps them from being too attention grabbing (a good thing, for me).  They also just look comfy and easy to wear.  I’m envisioning this top in space-age white, with sparkly-black knit arm-warmers, and the textured pants I’m already working on.  The arm-warmers are what make the outfit but also what make it something I’m unlikely to actually wear.  However, I did find this great pattern for the top:

On the more practical side is this loose, empire-waisted knit dress.  I’m envisioning this in a violet-gray cotton I just bought from Fabricmart, with a kelly-green scarf:

I haven’t found a great pattern for this yet (suggestions welcome), but I may try to adapt it from one of these two Burda patterns.  (And yes, this is actually how big my feet are in my mind.)

Also, I ran across this pattern at the same Etsy store as the space-top.  I think this is a great mid-gestation dress because I can belt it at the waist while I’ve got one, or up higher as it disappears, or wear it unbelted for the full muumuu look:

It also looks ridiculously easy to sew, which is very appealing in my current nap-prone state.

Back on the not-so-sensible side is this super cute Kwik-Sew blazer, to be made up in a gorgeous wool-cashmere.  I know I have a gray jacket already.   And I know that I look ridiculous in blazers.  And I know this is obviously too dressy a pattern and too dressy a fabric for me.  And yet I can’t stop thinking about making it.

What’s on your list for spring?


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