Friday, March 30, 2012

Simplicity 2512 - Pink floral silk charmeuse tulip skirt

I honestly bought this pattern for view D, which I made last October. I never intended to make view B because, although I loved the shaped yoke and contrast binding, I didn't think the tulip shape would look good on me. However, somehow this silk spoke to me and told me it wanted to be this skirt. It said, "Look, I'm a big print so I need something that isn't too cut up. And I'm lightweight so the gathers won't poof out around your waist. And you only have about 11/4 yards of me and can't find any other pattern that will work. Please, give the tulip shape a chance!" Fabric speaks to you sometimes, right? Tell me I'm not the only crazy one this happens to.

 So after my success with silk earlier this month, I decided to listen to my fabric and make the tulip skirt. Success! I think it's pretty cute. I probably will not be making a whole bunch of these - the straight skirt is still my preferred silhouette - but I think it's fun for being different.

Both of the fabrics used are silk charmeuse and were purchased at separate times from The funny thing about silk charmeuse is that I love to buy it but hate to sew it. Wiggly/shifty/fiddly fabrics are no fun to work with. There are at least 10 cuts of it in my stash that I lovingly fondle and never cut into! However, I have developed a way of working with silk charmeuse that is pain free. First I wash it in the washing machine and dry it. Then I true up one side by pulling a thread across it and trim off the excess. I get it laid out with straight sides and right angles at the trued end and spray it with two coats of starch. (Let one coat dry before applying the other.) It becomes stiff enough to work with and doesn't shift around anymore. Then after the garment is completed I throw it into the washer to remove the starch. I find this method especially helpful when using charmeuse cut on the bias, like the contrasting black on this skirt.

I decided to leave off the pockets because what exactly was I going to put in them except my hands? Also, I thought they might add bulk to the sides and this skirt already had enough extra fabric in that area. I also decided to leave off the ties. The reason for that was I rather like the appearance of a tiny waist that I get when wearing this. Every other part of my outfit is blousy - the waist is the only fitted detail - and I couldn't see putting a tie in that area that would add volume.

I wanted to add a full lining so that I could wear this skirt in the winter with tights. Also, it's silk. I always feel like silk deserves a lining. Now Ambiance is my preferred lining fabric, but I have found that it does not wash well. I went with a polyester chiffon in order not to add bulk to the gathers. It was starched as well.

I had to change the order of construction a bit to get the neat insides I like so much. The facing had to be completely sewn in by hand and the bias binding along the top of the skirt was the last to go on. This way the zipper and any raw edges were totally enclosed by the facings, lining and binding.

That pesky invisible zipper was put in several times before I gave up and basted it in by hand. I never get why some zippers go in really smoothly without much effort while others have me pulling my hair out.

I'm now currently making a muslin of my Easter dress. The plan is to use some gold silk dupioni if I can get the fit ironed out quickly. Eek! I've only left myself a week to get it finished!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Burda Style 2-2012-117B - Wool doubleknit colorblocked dress

Whew, it has been a busy week! We are having some work done on our house and it is completely ripped apart. Construction dust is everywhere and I keep finding nails and other debris laying around waiting for Rachel to find it and put it in her mouth. (Yes, we are still in that phase.) I finally found some time to snap pictures of this dress today, though it has been finished for over a week.

This is one of the dresses I really loved from the awesome Burda February issue. Since I'm completing it only a month later, I'll just give myself a pat on the back. *Pat-pat* Anyway, I wanted to use a fabric a bit beefier then the jersey they used for the magazine dress in order to better support the back zipper. I had all of these wool doubleknits in my stash already, and really liked the way they looked together. The turquoise was a remnant from Vogue 1150 made two years ago (bangs = what was I thinking?!) The dark grey - looks black - and the turquoise were from and the grey and tan are from I thought this would make a nice spring dress but the wool makes it a bit hot. Maybe if we get some more days in the 70's I'll be able to wear it.

I was really worried that this design would cut right across the bust making me appear even smaller then I am. I even tried to figure out how to alter it to make the turquoise cut straight across instead of at an angle. But the seams have a lot of shaping built into them and I couldn't figure it out. I took a leap of faith because I didn't want to muslin it and thankfully it turned out just fine.

Now, per the reviews over at, I sewed the backs together first and then attached the zipper as purely decorative. The pattern instructs you to use a 40" zipper. I wanted a slightly shorter dress then they had, and a 38" zipper would have been perfect. Of course I would need to special order it from Zipperstop in NYC as my local fabric stores didn't have anything that I could use. However, Zipperstop stocks zippers at certain lengths, and 36" is the longest I could find without having to pay a huge amount to have one special made. So, this dress turned out a wee bit shorter then originally planned, but with the high neckline I think a shorter skirt totally appropriate.

I realize an exposed zipper isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I really like how it looks on this dress. The brass teeth tie in nicely with the taupe fabric.

This was a straight size 38 made without any fit adjustments. It was a pretty fast project, the only thing really slowing me down was the constant thread changing.

This is a two-way zipper. If I could have found one that had tape extending past the bottom of the zipper tape I would have chosen that option and had a small back vent. Oh well, sometimes I have to take what I can find.

Here you can see both sides without my arms impeding your view. The sleeves have a fun tuck that keeps the sleeve cap fitted around the shoulder. Since I had sewn the backs together and didn't have the opening for the neck that way, I had to keep the fronts separated per the pattern. Some people who've made this design sewed the front opening closed, but I have a big head and knew this fabric would never be able to stretch over it.

For the insides, I used a finishing stitch that Vogue just published an article about. Too bad I can't find my magazine right now. Anyhow, it was extremely timely for use on this dress, and you can see how all of the edges have been neatly finished off. I'm not sure this would work for thinner knits, but it does beautifully on double-knits. If I find my magazine I will amend this paragraph. called The Overlock Foot starting on page 38. My machine actually came with this foot but I had no idea how to use it. (When I bought my machine the store offered a class on learning how to operate it. I arrogantly thought I did not need to take the class as I had been sewing for years and could certainly figure out its bells and whistles on my own. Well, turns out I should have taken it.) I tried the technique on this dress and to my surprised delight the result looks like a small serged finish. I am excited about the possibilities with this stitch and can't wait to try it out on other knits. And FYI, I do not own a serger because I have no space to put one. I always get that question so I'll just answer it before I get asked.

Also, I applied interfacing to the bottom of the taupe section, in order that the snaps had something stable to be sewn onto.

I like this dress quite a bit. It is an interesting design totally on trend with all the colorblocking I've been seeing lately. Up next is another silk garment in a new-to-me shape that I'm really hoping will turn out flattering. Then I'll have to get moving on an Easter dress before I run out of time!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

McCall's 3830 again - Green silk shantung "Statement Skirt"

Do you have any idea how much it pleases me to have made something in silk that I actually like? And in a fabric that I've been saving for something special? Of course it helps that this is my TNT straight skirt pattern and I've made it quite a few times. Maybe this will turn the tide of silk wadders I've made over the years.

This fabric is a silk shantung purchased from several years ago. It was $20 per yard and is still the most expensive fabric I've ever purchased. But it has beautiful yellow embroidered flowers all over it and y'all know how I feel about the color yellow.

The reason it sat in my stash for 2 years is because I wanted a straight skirt with a waistband and could not find a pattern. I thought I'd found one on Etsy but the seller lost the pattern and refunded my money. Then Butterick came out with 5466, which I bought, but then debated back and forth about it because it looked really tight in the waist on the model. Last month I made it in muslin and guess what? - really really tight in the waist! Bummer! But at least I hadn't wasted my fabric. Then I decided to use my TNT skirt pattern and pair it with the waistband from the Butterick pattern to get the look I wanted. Now why didn't I think to do that a few years back?!

When I made my fall/winter must haves list, this was the garment I had in mind for item #6, the statement skirt. But now after seeing statement skirts for several months, I think it needs to be an over-the-top fabric is a solid color that can be dressed up or down depending on your whim. So I'm not sure my version fits the bill. I still really like it, though.

I used a fun bright yellow polyester from for the lining. Sewing with bright colors really makes me happy. The invisible zipper I had to special order from Zipperstop in NYC as the color is not a shade JoAnn's or Hancock's stocks.

This skirt has been completed for over two weeks but I never could find the time to get it photographed. I tried again on Sunday but would you believe there was a fingerprint on the lens and all the pictures came out blurry?! Justin was able to take these tonight which is one reason I really love daylight savings. There's also a dress that I've finished and hope to get pictures in in the next few days.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Howdy! So, it's been over a month since I last posted anything because I have had a TON of wadders in a row. Like 5 or so, including a knitting wadder (those are the worst!) I then decided to make a TNT pattern just to get some confidence back and while that has been finished for over 2 weeks, I haven't seemed able to get a picture of me in it. When the time changes next weekend I will be overjoyed to have some evening hours with my photographer! And all this week I've been spending my spare time at a hospital because my 81 year old father has a severe case of pneumonia/low blood pressure and I had to take him to the ER on Sunday. (They expect him to make a full recovery.) Whew! I have been looking forlornly at my half completed dress and longing to spend some time on it but just don't have any at the moment. 

And since pictureless posts are slightly boring, here's a shot of me with Rachel and my dad last Thanksgiving. He rarely smiles for pictures and I think he looks so charming here.