Archive | November 2015

the? Christmas Dress

Finally to work on my anniversary/Christmas dress for this year.  I made minor adjustments to my pattern. First I added 19″ to the length; folded the over/underlaps out-of-the-way because my front will be on the fold; and walked the side seams of the back and front bodice portion (which I then trimmed a smidge to match).   I made another muslin. Yes this dress was important enough to me to make another muslin;  but the muslin consisted of bodice pieces only.  I wanted to check the neckline depth and that the side seams matched. I used a crisp shirting cotton. Marked my neckline on the muslin and transferred to the pattern.   I wanted my Christmas dress to be like Pamela’s Softly Pleated Dress. It won’t be exactly because I’ve already raised the empire line. Also I decided I didn’t want to do a vastly different neckline just a deep above-cleavage scoop.  I measured the skirt portions of Pamela’s dress and added 4″ ease to the skirt portions of my pattern, Burda #134 from 5/2009. I cut my navy, matelaise fabric thinking this would be fairly quick to put together. After all, I’d worked out all the issues with my muslinS.

I decided to fully line the upper bodice both back and front.  I found my navy satin lining fabric and cut hunks off big enough for both pieces.  I block fused my interfacing.  I like the Pro Sheer from Fashion Sewing Supply.  I like her weft and tricot too but I like the performance of the Pro Sheer with fine fabrics and blouses. However, I hate cutting it.  There is always some place the rotary cutter doesn’t slash and scissors always leave big jagged chunks.  I decided to block fuse, even though this would waste some expensive interfacing.  I really liked the combination interfacing and satin. Nonetheless, I taped front and back neckline and back shoulders. the matelaise is spongy and deeply textured but also tends to stretch.  I didn’t want that happening at my neckline.

I serge finished most edges before serging the shoulders together and finishing the neckline. Followed that by carefully pleating the skirt portions and stitching to the bodices.  I wanted to check the pleat placement and basted the side seams together. OMG!!!  Pleats and this fabric made me look 3′ tall and 9′ wide. Notice I didn’t baste the empire seam? That meant I now needed to rip out those seams.  My thread perfectly matched. I could not see to rip. I’m not sure how I ever got it done. I took out the pleats; trimmed the excess fabric and eased skirts to bodices.  I serged my sleeves into the armscyes. I should have known better and can only be grateful that I got away with it. The shoulder sits where it should.  I had intended to pleat the cuffs; just to do something a little different. But I felt burned after the skirts and simply basted the long side/underarm seam before trying on.

That 19″ I added at the beginning? To make a blouse pattern into a dress?  Well it was either too much or not enough.  It was not enough for a maxi (which I didn’t want anyway) but way too much for the knee-length cocktail dress I planned. After a few tries, I had shortened the dress by 6″ + a 2″ hem.  I turned my attention to the sleeves. As expected they were just too much. Between the knee-length and textured fabric, I now looked like a big navy-blue pumpkin.  I slimmed the sleeves by taking in the underarm seam between elbow and wrist a full 1″ (2″ total). I turned the wrist hem up 1.5″; trimmed the skirt length and turned up a 2″ hem (pinned in place and then took pictures.

This does not say “happy anniversary” to me.

Pic 1 full color; Pic 2 lightened 100% so garment style is visible.

I can think of a few captions. How about

“I’m the new widow and need comforting.”

or while at the funeral of one of my friends  to her widowed-husband:

“So sorry for you loss. Can I do anything for you?”


The neckline eventually collapses down to just above my bra.  Even interfaced and taped, the spongy matelaise will not hold the neckline shape like the crisp shirting I used for a muslin. I knew the matelasie would act differently. That’s why I interfaced and taped AND lined.

OK I know that my trouser-socks with flats and no jewelry/accessories  is not dressed up for cocktails. But the dress just looks dowdy to me both in the mirror and in the pics.  I was thinking ‘conservative cocktail dress’; got stodgy Republican fund-raiser. (I reserve the right to make fun of my own party.)  I continued to wonder about accessories especially a wrap.  Didn’t want to sew anything until I was sure, so took pics with items already in the closet.  Colors don’t match but how about complimentary shapes?


The already-failed attempt to snug up the neckline isn’t helping. Neither is the ‘we lost the election’ look on my face.


The pink/peach second from left in pic 1 might work. But I’d need to be cleavage baring for a ‘cocktail evening’ effect.

I have to ask myself, how did I get to this point?  Is it just my shape?  I’ve aged like most of my family elders but they could pull off se%y looks up until their deaths. Is it the style lines of the garment?  I did think the Blue Challis Rayon quite lovely. Feminine.  Should I have used a shiny fabric instead of textured? Will accessories alone  banish the dowdiness of this garment?  I know that heels and hose will improve the look some.  As well as the Ruby necklace I planned to wear.

I don’t know. I’m stymied.




First and Final

I’ve heard people really attack the notion of a ‘wearable muslin’.   Some advise that you’re going to make a muslin anyway. You may as well start with cheap fabric and planning to throw it away. For me, I really dislike spending my time on a ‘test’ garment. I want to get to the real thing.  Plus there are patterns I know I’m only going to make once. I don’t want to spend lots of time on a test and then make the garment only once. However, I have to agree, this time, with the people who say “you’re going to make a muslin anyway” because that’s what I did with the pink/black peach skin. I counted that experience as a a muslin which paid off.  I made several changes to the pattern and selected a rayon Challis.  I wanted to keep the fitting experience as consistent as possible but at the same time I didn’t want another fight with my serger. All that work I did with the peach skin was well worth the effort. Look at this first fitting:

After cutting the fabric, I serge finished several places, stitched darts and front tucks.  Last time I made the tucks public but wasn’t wild about it.  This time I put the front tucks on the private side.  It doesn’t wow me either but  I think with this print the tucks would be nearly invisible no matter which side they are on.  I like the tucks as a change but prefer the look of nice pleats towards the side seams or (first choice) a smooth front skirt.

I serged shoulders together and empire lines i.e. front bodice with skirt and back bodice with skirt.    I stitched the facing to the front, but I used a 3mm stitch so I could easily remove if needed. The shoulders, armscye and sleeves were perfect in the pink version. No real need to baste them together but  I opted to serge  finish the sleeve and bast it in the armscye before basting the sides seams for the first fitting.

I may have a little ‘velcro butt’ going on in the back. I’m more interested in what is not there. No tightness across the back between the shoulder. No drag lines from shoulder-blade to side seam.  The sides concern me only because the hem of my left side looks uneven but the hem on my right side is nice and level?? I can’t a change when I can’t be sure there is something wrong.  I hadn’t finished fitting the front  and knew it would require attention now. It almost looks like the entire center front from neckline through waist (empire) and all the way to the hem is drooping. The V neckline wants to overlap more than the drafted 1″ and at an angle.  Not sure if  that creates the issues  below but it could be the cause of the drooping. I also really don’t like the gathering under-bust (which I did between the two * as directed by the pattern).  I wonder if the gathering adds to the drooping.

I did one quick fitting for which  I’m not sharing pictures. I was  tempted to finish the sleeve  put it off to work on the front.  I basted a wedge 1″ wide at the neckline and 0 at the waist on both sides of the center front. Just like that, all the issues above the apex disappeared. However I kept thinking the empire line was almost in the right place. It look just slightly off and so I basted the empire 1/4″ deeper. Amazed at the difference, I finished this blouse.

The finished back is perfect!  I stitched the empire at the basted 1/4″ deeper mark.  Lightly starched and pressed. Suddenly Velcro Butt disappears and the proportions ar excellent.

I finished the sleeves with the same faux cuff as the pink version.  Turned up 1.5″; edge stitched at the wrist; top stitched at the top of the serging and 1×10″ elastic inserted and  joined over bias tape. Sometimes a finish looks great with one fabric but not another. In this case both fabric have nearly the same drape. So with the same pattern as well, both sleeves look very much alike and verrrrrrrrrry good.

I’m leaving the verdict on the sides and hems open. I realized that the center front were somehow different lengths because one facing stitched evenly to the center front and the other did not. I should have stopped then and discovered why but I didn’t. So when I took these pics one front is longer than the other. On side the hem seems level on the other side the hem appears uneven and oddly instead of high-waters, it is lower than the back.  I did pin the longer front to determine how much to be change and I fixed it. But I didn’t take new photos.  I was more concerned about the bodice which looked great in the mirror but in the final pic looks like it is drooping right at the empire line:

I have removed nearly all the droop but there’s still a little that the camera’s eye finds. That will be a tweak for the next version.

Will there be another version. Will I sew this again?  Yes I plan to use this as a basis for my anniversary dress which will be styled very similar to Pamela’s  Softly Pleated Dress. I’m really overjoyed that this Burda pattern is so similar to one of my favorite Louise Cutting patterns, the Ebb on which I’ve worked repeatedly this year attempting to fit my maturing figure.  I like to have at least one Ebb each in summer and winter wardrobes. In fact, I like to make style changes and have more than one.  I love this style which skims all the rolls but still makes me shapely. This is  a great style  for me.



2009-05-134: Starting Again with a new Plan Of Attack

When wadders happen you can get mad. Throw a fit. Find somebody or something to blame. Or you can do what the Navy taught me.  Examine what you have learned. For this to be valuable you have to look at both sides 1) what went wrong; and more importantly 2) what went right.  It’s important to note your success and try to repeat them.

I liked the final proportions of the empire line. It’s a little lower than Louse Cutting’s Ebb but still attractive.  I think I might like to use this height even when a garment specifies a waistline.  I have a waistline in back.  In front I have a tummy. I prefer not to run a horizontal across the mountain of my tummy.

I was really liking the ease of the back.  It was still roomy and floating but was not tent like.

There were no suggestions of a curtain swag running from mid-back to under-bust.  These wrinkles have been the bain of my sewing for months. Initially I thought the issue was insufficient width across the back and needed full-bust alteration in front.  Neither alterations helped, in fact my last CLD pattern was worse for those alterations. What this tells me is that the armscye is perfect as is. Yeah!

Loved the sleeve. Length was perfect for my finish.

Cuff was perfect finish. Just made the whole sleeve beautiful.

The cuff was fiddly due to the short distances I started with and made even smaller for inserting the elastic. Also made fiddly by not knowing the length of elastic desired.  *Corrective action:  wrote final elastic length onto sleeve

Front proportions were good after I reduced length 1″

Neckline was far too low.  I’m not a bosom baring individual.  Most people characterize me as “quiet with occasional zingers”. *Corrective action: raise neckline 5″

Front had way too much ease and the effort to fix that resulted in disaster.  *Corrective action: start with a smaller size

Hem line was level in some pics, uneven in others.  *Corrective action: unknown. When the pics all show the same issue a solution can be determined. So corrective action right now is to determine why the pictures aren’t showing the same hem line.

This post is about starting again. So I did — but not before realizing that if I wanted to sew with Burda patterns I needed a bullet proof plan. I drafted a plan from what I’ve learned with the peach skin fabric. Twice during the night, I woke up and altered the plan.  Here’s what I came up with:

Trace size 46 Bodice
BWL 1″ Wedges
NSA 1″
Add Shoulder slope aligning at shoulder points
Check and correct Neckline Depth
If tuck is used instead of BWL Wedges, add 1″ to CF length

BWL 1″ Tuck
NSA 1″
Add Shoulder slope aligning at shoulder points
Add 1/2″ circumference to back at hip

Add Seam Allowances
1/4″ shoulders, neckline
1″ side seams
Add 1.25″ Hem
True all seams

This is all subject to change. I’ll refine this plan as I go along.  I may even change those 1/4″ SA to full inches should a new style warrant caution.

I pulled out the master pattern and traced a size 46.  As I did I paid attention to the differences between the 46 and 48.  I was surprised that it was 3/4″ at most places. That’s a 3″ difference between the two sizes when I was expecting a 1″ difference.

On further reflection I decided I didn’t like the princes skirt in back.  That’s the only place there are princess lines and it looks out of place to me. When tracing the skirt, I positioned the two pieces next to each other, aligning the grain markings.  I discovered there was a long unsewn dart that was 3/4″ wide but nearly the skirt full length.  I created a dart 3/4″ wide and 7″ long.  (3″ of the top of the skirt are above the waist).

Another belated reflection was the difficulty of working with the cut on facing.  It’s a neat detail that gives you the flattest possible edge on the front. But for alterations it was a bit of a bother.  I cut the front skirt and bodice 1/4″ to the side of the front edge line (not the center front but the next line over).  I delayed creating the facing pattern.

I made my usual 1″ narrow shoulder adjustment (NSA) and back waist length (BWL). This time I put the BWL in the bodice portion instead of the upper skirt. I thought that would kill 2 birds with one stone i.e. incorporate both the desired shortening of the upper bodice with the BWL. Then I raised that d@mn neckline a full FIVE inches. My girls are not going to be on display!

My fabric for the next blouse is a rayon challis.  I like rayon challis and usually have no major issues at SM or serger.  I say usually because I don’t remember having any issues with peach skin either and then I did. I did more than a quick test at the serger and SM.  I used a 14″ long strip. The SM was perfect. After my serger testing,  I  adjusted the lower looper tension to Zero all others at Normal.  Tried to make an appointment for a servicing but there were no openings for the next 6 weeks and they didn’t want to make appointments beyond that.  Then, there is the fact that my serger worked perfectly with the heavier plush I was working with last week and again in the test this week. Serger stitch quality could still be a fabric issue not a machine issue.

I laid out my new pattern pieces.  I’m still not using the collar.  I had one less skirt piece but now I needed a facing piece.  I cut the facing by overlapping skirt and bodice along the empire stitching line.  I didn’t want to make a final facing piece until I was sure I wouldn’t need to alter it again.

So pattern traced, fabric pressed and cut. Machines threaded and ready to go.  Time to snap out the lights and relax before basting this together.  Also, it gives me more time for reflection to see if I forgot anything.

2009-05-134: Fit 03 04 Wadder

Few quick notes on the Third Fit

IMO the back is done. Well, done for this garment. Personally I’ve found that there is only so much you can do at the fitting stage.  There comes a point for a change to be effective it has to be done at the tissue stage.  I was so relieve during the final lessons of J Sterns Jeans Fitting when she stopped to explain that you measure and make changes to the tissue and then make a muslin. You tweak the muslin.  For some people it’s done. But others are going to need a 2nd muslin even a third or fourth. It all depends on the shapes (length circumferences and depth) of your body and then how fabric can be molded to fit. So this garment’s back is done. I’ve serged and then stitched the center back, princess, empire, facing and shoulder seams. I intended to tweak the shoulder slope a bit more but issues with my serger side-tracked me.  My serger does not like this particular peach skin. It has worked on others. But for this fabric the stitch is never smooth and I sometimes have puckering issues.  I put in the smallest needle I’ve been able to buy (an 11); fiddle with the differential feet; individual tensions.  Checked the thread paths numerous times and finally rethreaded the machine. My preference is to 4-thread serge the final seams.  But I’m having to serge and then reinforce at the sewing machine.  The back facing was a horror by itself.  I had to adapt it for the new back-width. Easy. Done. But then stitching to the back neckline edge and meeting the front facing was incredibly difficult.  I had bulges and folds and two big ugly messes; one for each side of the neck.  I finally ripped out all the serging and stitching and started over.  The end result is not perfect but it’s done and looks reasonably good.

I permanently stitched the sleeves into place. I do have one little pucker that I think I’m just going to ignore.  Serge finishing the cap ahead of time also gathered it just slightly. Just enough that it was easy to smoothly (almost) insert into the armscye.  (I prefer to insert sleeves flat.)

I had decided I like the bodice/skirt proportions of the back than the front. So I serged the back empire seam removing all the excess, just-in-case fabric along the back empire line. Then I turned my attention to the front.  Since the front hem was not doing its high -waters thing, I decided against shortening the entire front bodice to match the back. Instead from the side seam to the original gathering point, I inserted a dart. I stitched a wedge (dart) 1/2″ wide and about 6″ long.  The front and back empire line met easily but the hems are still offset. The back side seam is longer at the hem than the front. Irritatingly, the front hem now appears to curve upward.  I do wonder if I have the blouse sitting on my shoulders correctly.  Something I will definitely be more careful with during the next fitting.

I do see some folds back and sides which I’m going to ignore.  I’m concerned about how the front just looks too big. So before the next fitting, I plan to extend one of those front tucks upward into the bodice and at the same time make it deeper than the 3/8 indicated on the pattern pieces. I’m also going to trim the back hem even/level and fold it up. Every line of permanent stitching gives me such a boost, that I’m going to finish the sleeve too.




I started the next sewing session by finishing the sleeve.  I had begun envisioning this sleeve with the first fitting and was happy to finish it now.  I serged the 1″ seam allowances down to 1/4″ (my serger default) by lining the guide lines with my basing stitch. Not quite sure that the body of the garment wouldn’t require the extra circumference available in the seam allowance so at the underarm I made a sharp turn towards the raw edge and serged off.  This sleeve is drafted with a 2″ hem which I used for the ‘cuff’.  I turned up the serge finished hem 1.5″ and edge stitched the fold.  Then I stitched the casing along the serged edge leaving 3″ open to insert the elastic. The elastic was a bit fiddly.  My wrist is a slim 6″ but I need more for my hand. Actually I like my cuffs a little loose so I can push them up a few inches when I wash my hands. Keeping them from any dampness.  I don’t like my sleeves to get wet. Just don’t. So I formed a circle with 1″ elastic and pinned. Too small. Unpin; make the circle bigger. Repeat 3 times. Cut elastic. Cut 2nd elastic same length. I’ve been listening to Peggy Sagers so I wrote ‘Elastic 10″‘  on the hem of the sleeve. In pencil.  Then I clipped about 2″ from some left over  bias tape and stitched that to one end of the elastic. Put a big ol’ pin in the other end and threaded through my casing. When I could pull both ends out, I removed the pin and stitched the other edge to the bias. Finishing by putting a line of zig zag stitching over both ends of the elastic before trimming any unsecure bias tape.  I learned this from Nancy Zieman many years ago and use it frequently.  It makes a nice flat finish anywhere used but is especially nice in a sleeve cuff.  No lump to irritate what is sensitive skin.  I don’t know that sensitive is the right word. But I do notice lumpy elastic around my wrist more so than around my waist or say the ankle cuff of sweats. Whoops, last step is closing the 3″ gap left open for inserting the cuff and of course repeating for the other sleeve.  The extra half-inch length gained by not turning up the full 2″ hem is just enough to give the sleeve a little poof.  Had I planned from the start to use this sleeve finish, I might have added another 2″ to length  But I like this. Really well.

I was perhaps too pleased with myself when tackling the front. The plan was to release the 3rd from the front tuck (on both sides) and create a faux princess seam.  It would be faux as I wasn’t actually going to cut the fabric and would end 1″ before reaching the shoulder.  It would be a shaped dart instead of a seam but placement would suggest the princess seam. I measured and marked. Stitched both sides. So why was one off? I didn’t spend much time thinking about it. I grabbed my seam ripper and started removing the offending stitches. I don’t know how it happened. I rip by wiggling the tip through the stitch on top and towards the fold. But somehow my ripper grabbed fabric and zipped through a 2″ diagonal hole.  A GAPPING hole resulted.  I just started at it for a full minute.

I hung the whole shebang on a hanger. Turned everything off and went upstairs for the night.  DH was surprised to see me so early and lent me a willing ear as I described my disaster.  Even fixed me a  libation for comfort.  Wish I’d quit earlier.  Even a nano-second would have avoided a wadder.

2009-05-134: Fit02

I’m pleased to share the Second Fitting of Burda Style 133 July 1996.

Although I said yesterday I didn’t think I would change the back, that is where I made the first changes (plural intended).  I kept looking at the pics and thinking had I been in the Dress Barn I would have ask the associate to go find me the next smaller size.   Happily, all the seams are basted together with Water Soluble Thread and they therefore separated in a flash, and were pressed in less than 5 minutes.  I could perhaps have not undone all the seams. I’ve done that in the past. Opened up only the seam that I knew needed to adjust.  Many times that works well. Many times that’s when I make mistakes. Folds occur and are stitched down. Snips, snip through to other layers. That sort of thing. So I prefer to baste the seams and then open them all up. Right, on to the back:



I felt like the neck was too wide. Treena who has similar shoulder-fit issues often fills in the neckline at the shoulder when working with Burda patterns. I considered adding princess seams but decided that adding a 1/4″ center back seam would fix both issues at the same time.  The neckline is 1/2″ smaller. The back is now “my size” instead of the 48 I traced and cut. Despite my complaints, I do like Burda patterns and styles.  Their basic block doesn’t change. Although ease is altered according to trends.  What that boils down to is that once I know the steps needed to get Burda patterns to fit, I can use the same steps with every Burda pattern. Interestingly, it can be a lot of steps but I won’t think anything about it because it becomes habit and I whip through the changes.  So far, I think I need to trace a size 46 bodice; make my NSA and BWL and the check the back neckline for position and width. 

For the ‘skirt’ or lower bodice I increased the size of the princess seams 1/4″ in effect making this a size 48 instead of the size 50 traced. I starting addressing the proportions of the blouse by offsetting the empire line. The bodice portion is 1-1/4″ higher. The skirt portion is the same length. I see the planes of my buttocks catching light.  I’m unsure if the issue is created by raising the empire line or increasing the princess seams.  Since I prefer in this style to skim over my back curves, I will offset those 1″ side seams and add a little circumference. For future reference, I will trace a size 48 across the hip and make 1″ seam allowances so circumference across the hip can be adapted as desired.

Basically the back is exactly what I want. I need to make those changes permanent.

Let’s check out the sides

I’m hoping they  display side by side when you view them.  I’m ignoring most of the drag lines on my left side.  I’ve pulled my arm up and forward to point out that my back and front empire line is misaligned.  I’m rather annoyed because I calculated; marked; and then compared the marks. The should line up perfectly but they are 1/2″ off at the empire line and hem.  Drat! I’ll have to fix this before putting the empire line in permanently. I’m encouraged because at this point the hem still looks level instead of my usual high-waters front.  Which tells me that I may have been right. I transferred my shoulder line by aligning my sloper at the shoulder points instead of the neck.  Using this alignment, the shoulder point and armscye are unaltered. The slope and the neckline do change which at a minimum could affect neck facings, collars, anything along the neckline.  I’m also pleased that I don’t see the deep drag lines from bust to side seam. Yes there are some lines coming out at the underarm. I already plan to release the side seams a little to add circumference over the hip.  I’ll just extended that up to the underarm and give my bust a little more room.  The lines from bust to empire I’m pretty sure are because of the style line.  All the darts which create fit around the breast (shoulder, armscye waist) were rotated to the waist dart and then released.  A dart is not sewn but the area is gathered.  In Fit 01, I gather exactly as indicated on the pattern which created deep crinkles under the bust.  I remember this look from my grandmother who eschewed  bras as being “too restricting”.  Possibly a result of her ‘wild’ youth (which she would deny). She came of age and was bearing her children during the Roaring Twenties.  I did’t know her until her 50’s and 60’s at which time her breast tissue at dropped to about waist height. The girls sag if they are not supported. That’s just the way the female human body develops with age.   I remember and recoil from the vision of breast fullness suggested just above waist belt. I therefore in the 2nd fitting, extended the gathering/ease line from the front mark out to the side seam.  My method to adjust the ease/gathers of the bust fullness is causing those lines between apex and empire line.  I don’t think the sides are as wonderful as the back, right now, but I won’t throw this in the trash either.  I still have time and ideas.

As with the back, I really wanted to add princess seams to the upper bodice. Alas, I have no confidence that I could make this change and make it symmetrical.  Instead I added a 1cm seam where Burda had indicated to fold the facing.  The attached folded facing is a very nice detail.  It reduces the number of seams to be sewn and reduces bulk in this seam. But I thought it would be the easiest and my most elegant method of removing excess circumference across the front. It did raise the neckline. The V now ends at the top of my cleavage.  I’ll still be wearing a lace camisole but at lease when I breathe deeply the bodice doesn’t fly open revealing all of me to the world.  In conjunction with the new center back seam, the neck now sits about right.  I do see an issue.  The neck seems to stand-off from the body a little. Keep in mind that while the front is faced interfaced and secured in final position the back neck is only serge finished to keep it from raveling. The garment is missing 2 layers of fabric. How will it be effected when I add those layers and stitching? Also the hollows above my bust are clear because the blouse fabric folds into them. I’m thinking the front shoulders may still be a bit wide.  I noticed that when I drew my shoulder slope that I extended it another half-inch into the neck. At the time I didn’t give it any real thought. I supposed that the garment would hug my body. It obviously does not.  For now, I will baste in the back facing then  pinch out and reshape the shoulder slope just a bit.

As with the back, I also offset the front empire line raising it 1″.  I like this proportion both front and back and will keep the proportion.  For fitting, I added 1″ seam allowances along the front bodice and skirt empire lines so that I could adjust if the hem was unlevel.  At this point, I’m thinking that’s really not needed.  Reducing the seam allowances will allow more accuracy when it comes to aligning the front and back empire line.


OK so next fitting should keep the proportions of the empire and have reduced seam allowances along the empire line both front and back. Permanent stitching for the center back and center front seams. Back facing attached and side seams a smidge narrower.  Hmm anything else?

2009-05-134, My Anniversary Dress…

Muslin.  Let me explain.

Every year we celebrate our wedding anniversary with dinner out.  As times have gotten better, we’ve taken to dinner out at a 3-5 Star Restaurant followed by a hotel stay.  The hotel stay mostly because there are no Starred restaurants nearby and we must travel.  We don’t want to eat, drink and make a 2+ hour drive home afterwards.  The dinner is a ‘dress up’ occasion for both of us. I’m making a special dress.

I know what I want.  I have a beautiful, navy blue  matelasse  fabric. It’s obviously a rich fabric.  It’s deeply crinkled surface absolutely fascinates me.  I do believe it is polyester but I don’t remember and I’m not taking time for a burn test.   I want a cocktail length dress.  While this is the first time it will be worn, this length makes it suitable for future occasions.  When I get tired of it as a dress-up dress, I can shorten and use it as a dress-up blouse.

Of course I want a flattering shape and neckline. I fell in love with Pamela’s Softly Pleated Dress (115)

This style is similar to the much-loved Ebb drafted by Louise Cutting.  I ordered the pattern and put it away until now. Now, I’m deeply disappointed. My own fault, I know. I saw a bust dart which indicated to me this was for woven fabrics. To my surprise the recommend fabrics are all knits. Despite its deep crinkles, my matelasse has nearly zero stretch.  It will comfortable to wear but not if it is fashioned two sizes too small. I must admit I pouted.  I pulled out the master pattern and started measuring trying to see if I could make this work. Finally I came to my senses and realized that attempting to use a knit/stretch pattern with a non-stretch fabric was a recipe for disaster.

I turned to my Burda collection.  I’ve scanned them all (for personal use of course) and so could peruse the collection from my easy chair.  There were numerous Burda patterns that were very similar  to both the Ebb and PP115 but I kept looking through until I could find one that was drafted in a size 48.  That’s my Burda size which is one size larger than Burda says I wear. I found #133 in the July issue of 1996:

I’ll change those sleeves to be long sleeves but I will not use the collar.  It is a collar with stand which I hate sewing. Neither will I add the pockets. When I get to the matelasse, the center front will be cut on the fold and the pleats shifted towards the side.  But I traced all the pattern pieces and all the markings.

Why not use the Ebb and lengthen the skirt portion?  Even after 5 versions this year, the Ebb doesn’t quite fit. That means if I don’t want to ruin the matelasse, I probably should make another wearable muslin.  As long as I’m making a wearable-muslin,  I want to try another shoulder fitting idea.  Since creating my block with the Connie Crawford pattern, I’ve been reshaping the shoulder slope of new patterns by aligning at the neck edges.  I trace the shoulder slope which ends up being 5/8″ lower into the armscye.  That means, I need to recreate the correct armscye. Even doing this, the new pattern may not fit.  I’m not sure why every pattern won’t fit by simply using the correct shoulder slope. I know only that I’m still struggling with it and for that reason considering alternatives.  The alternative I’ve chosen to explore is aligning at the shoulder edge and tracing the slope up towards the neck.  The neck should end up being about 5/8″ higher than before.  It’s possible that the neckline or collar may need to be adjusted as well. I won’t know until I try it.

I traced size 48 for the upper bodice and considering how my rear always needs even more room, I traced the 50 for the lower bodice/skirt. I made my usual 1″ narrow shoulder and back waist length alterations. I added 1″ seam allowances to the side seams, the shoulders and both sides of the front empire line. The latter because all my patterns have had to have more length at the center front.  I folded up the skirt portion 13″ thinking I’d make the muslin tunic length but still have all the issues solved for a dress.

First fabric I chose for this wearable muslin, was a silk Jacquard  described as “warm beige”.  It was a color somewhere between dull peach and pink tan.  Not sure how it would look on me or with my other garments so if this becomes a wadder, I won’t mind. Unfortunately, with all the additional seam allowances, the pattern pieces would not fit on this 2.25 yards of 42″ wide fabric.  Fold it up. Put back in the stash.

Next fabric I chose  is polyester peach skin.  Earlier peach skins were always too warm. These recent peach skins are comfortable to wear and easier to sew. At least for me.  Either they’ve altered the peach skin formula or I’ve definitely passed through menopause.  Could be both. The one thing I regret about this fabric is not starching it to the ninth degree.  It behaves fairly well but will slip about and does ravel.  A good starching would have taken care of that now and then disappeared in the first wash.  Oh well, it wasn’t really that squirrely on either SM or serger.

I laid out my pattern pieces but cut each separately.  The next hour consisted of cutting a single pattern piece and marking the wrong side which was hardly distinguishable from the right side but would have shown up after the garment was securely stitched.  Followed by serge finishing all the raw edges and sewing what little could be permanently sewn (darts and tucks).  I was relieved to be able to add water-soluble thread to the sewing machine and start basting all the pieces together.  Finally I could try it on and critique the fit.

Keep in mind, this is barely pressed and completely unfinished.  It is intended to help me discover and resolving both fitting sewing issues.  I still need to cut the back facing,  apply it and permanently stitch everything including hems. Let’s start with the back

I’d war this. The back passes with flying colors  I’m unlikely to change this beyond permanent stitching and a good pressing.

The sides aren’t particularly bad either. The bust dart was rotated to the empire line and then is gathered. It may have been designed for a bigger cup than my own and I possibly can work that towards the side seam and remove a little. The drape lines below are occurring because I basted the tuck lines with water-soluble thread and then tried to press with a tiny bit of steam. The tucks puckered.  Most interesting to me is that the hem is pretty level.  That is one of the biggest complaints I make about my top patterns.  That and the diagonals that often form  from bust to side seam but are missing in this first fitting..

I think it is the front which frightens me

Ignoring the wrinkles on the ‘skirt’ and the sleeve length. I altered Burda’s sleeve to be as long as my sloper which includes a 2″ hem. My sloper sleeve is also roomy.  What disturbs me is the neckline V’s all the way below my front bra band. I’ve pulled the blouse fronts together a bit, but when I move they open up and totally exposes me.  Why didn’t I check this at the pattern stage?  In the past, I’ve complained bitterly about Burda’s bosom revealing necklines.  Even asked if Europeans really wear their necklines so low.  If I’m to wear this blouse, I will need to add a lace dickey.  More importantly, it troubles me that I can’t really tell if the front  is too big.  The shoulders are just slightly wider than my own.  The sleeve cap was not high or to be gathered only eased. So I think the sleeve cap and shoulder are like they should be. I would prefer the empire line to hit me about 1-1.5″ higher.

Honestly, I think the location of the empire is the only thing I can easily adjust by simply stitching the skirt higher on the bodice.  The neckline???  Sigh, I need to think about this before doing any more.

Burda 1992-05-112: A Robe for Me

Finally a robe I want and can wear!

New Haircut too!

I started with an old Burda #112 in May 1992. I knew what I wanted.  I wanted the caftan I wore in the 80’s but couldn’t find an exact match.  I thought this pattern might be close.

This is actually a tunic.  I traced a size 48, one size up from what Burda says will fit me.  I learned or remembered after making the last garment that Burda doesn’t allow as much ease as I like. I made my usual 1″ NSA and BWL alterations before adding 23″ in length.  Why 23?  I wanted a long robe.  My favorite caftan (which is so snagged it needs to be thrown away) is 53″ long from shoulder to hem.  The pattern needed an additional 23″ to be 53″ long. I measured the hip and decided after the last robe, I wanted 8″ of ease. Double what Bruda drafted both for the previous and the current garment.  I added 1″ to the front side seam but at the last second 1.5″ to the back side seam.  Pretty much, I’m adding 1/2″ to the back side seam at the hip regardless of whether I’m making tops or bottoms.  My garments seem to fit better when I allow and extra inch of ease across my behind.

I’m using a typical robe fabric: stretch tricot backing with plush printed face.  I think it’s 100% polyester but it is nice polyester. I purchased 3 yards about this time last year as I knew I wanted another robe but didn’t know exactly what pattern I wanted to use.  At this time, Nov 2015, I want this robe ASAP which meant to me few seams, details, embellishments or any other fancy stuff.

I serged the shoulder seams and slipped it over my head to check the neckline depth. I started with 9″ (pattern default) but changed to 13″ for easy of pulling over the head and to accommodate my 1″ (finished) binding.  I did the cheaters V-neck i.e. serge that band around ignoring the angle of the V then folding along center front and stitching the neck-band at an angle. It’s quick, easy and makes a good V. I should admit that I basted the band into place to check length and then serged away.  I also top stitched the band to keep the serging flat.  It will tend to roll upward with time and cleaning.

The pattern appears to be a slight dolman and indeed it has about 1″ of the armscye curve attached to the body.  But when basting in the sleeve I found that shoulder/armscye extension rather disappeared. This is one of the things I liked so much about my 80’s caftan pattern.  It produces a slightly fitted armscye, set-in sleeve without all the drama. I basted side seams from 10″ vent to the raw sleeve edge before trying on.  Decided that despite the fact I had added 1.5″ to the back and 1″ to the front along the hip, I wanted a little more ease.  Entirely my perction. The garment looked fine. I felt it was a little close.  Afterwards, I serged the sleeves to the body of the garment, finished hems and vents and serged the long side-underarm seam at 1/4″. Done! Start to finish maybe 4 hours. Love this kind of sewing.


It displays both the drag lines from bust to side seam and the uneven hem (front is higher). Both issues that have become the bain of my recent fitting.

And my shoulders are still slightly uneven which seems to also mean my hips are uneven producing some drag lines.

But, guys, this is a robe; and I am an old lady.  No matter how comfortable it is, I’m not wearing this garment out of the house.  When the UPS guy comes to the door, he disappears so quickly I’m not sure he even sees me. He certainly wouldn’t notice these few fitting issues.  Think I’m just going to be happy at having a new robe I love to wear.