Short Shorts on the line – Retro Burda 07/2013

Dear readers,

This is so rare that it is worth noting. I MADE IT FOR A DEADLINE. Ok, at work, I’m pretty much fine with deadlines but when it comes to sewing I believe that I am cursed. As soon as I think about following a sewalong/contest/etc. there are 100% chances that I won’t. Hence, new strategy, I make whatever I want and then believe that the sew along gods will align their plans with mine. This is totally what happened with Shorts on the Line! 2 weeks ago I was browsing my burda magazine collection for a color blocked dress (did not find) but then I rediscovered those seriously cute vintage shorts from the issue of july 2013. I’m not entirely sure what is supposed to be retro about them but I know one thing, I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! I’ve reached a new level of comfort in the daily Caribbean heat that denim cutoffs CANNOT compete with…

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As you can see my ability to have any picture taken without a beagle biting my heel has considerably decreased over the last 4 months. Along with the one of making it with clean pants from the front door to the car, but that’s another story. I also have to apologize for the wrinkles, which are the result of way more than 1 day of wear… (TMI?)

The nice bonus about this project is that it felt “free”. You may or may not recognize the navy linen I used for this dress, the pattern came from my existing burda collection (justifying to move twice overseas with magazines, yes), zipper and eyes and hooks from stash!

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Regarding the construction I did not look at the instructions but shorts are pretty straight forward. I used my usual technique for the fly (see here), the pockets are self lined and all seams are finished with the serger and then topstitched.

My only note is about waistband, I HATE (yes hate) waistband. Especially the moment when you try to stitch in the ditch the wrong side folded. It gets distorted, it looks bad, stop me now because I can go on for HOURS. I’ve been experimenting with different techniques (I know Colette just wrote something about using the invisible hem of your machine but I haven’t tried), and these were done with a lot of swearing and using the technique described here for shirt cuffs on which I plan to write very (or not) soon.

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I can foresee a another version with single welt pockets in the back because honestly, this was way too satisfying and eventless…

Now pleeeeaaase tell me if you have a waistband secret (no hand sewing) that I have not heard about!!!

Lucky me: Midi is the new Mini and some zipper drama…

As I said a few times before, the length of my skirts after 3 years in New York had diminished considerably and it happens that they are not only inappropriate for Haiti but also extremely impractical (try to get yourself into a Nissan Patrol elegantly in a tight and short pencil skirt and you will know what I mean). Therefore, and despite everything you can hear about short people and longer skirts, my recent sewing projects have all been hitting the knee and below. Including this last shiny shiny project :

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Conveniently enough, some runways have decided to agree with me (proof, proof, proof and PROOF !). I guess there is a limit to \how many seasons you can profess to go even shorter than the year before… The pattern is one I used before, but longer this time. It’s the pleated skirt pattern from burdastyle and I made last fall in leather.

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Of course leather would not have been a very good choice for the haitian weather so I used a coated cotton I bought at Paron’s Fabric before leaving New York (Ok, yes maybe I did do a little stash building operations prior to leaving… and yes maybe I’m feeding the stash everytime I get out of Haiti… but yes, I do buy fabric also in Haiti… I’m 3 times guilty!).

I really like the kind of retro silhouette that the extra length brings to this pattern.

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Ok, so maybe you can’t really see the coated shiny part of the skirt on those picture but I think it more visible on the close-ups. I did bring comments from my female colleagues such as “Oooooh shinyyyy!!!”. I guess a lot of us have an inner little girl wishing we would go to work everyday wearing shiny outfits!

The usual dress form shots: they are usually better quality because I take them with my Iphone instead of my crappy camera…

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I used the main fabric for the pocket and because the fabric was not fraying at all I did not do any kind of seam finish. My only concern with this fabric is the ironing. You have to use a press cloth even to open seams….

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I don’t remember if I had to do it for the leather skirt but I had to take in the back for at least 1″ on each side.

Also, this time I used a invisible zipper instead of a metal exposed one. Why? Well first because I think it suits the style of this skirt better, but also because THERE IS NO NICE METAL ZIPPER IN PORT AU PRINCE (Or am I wrong ? I will ask Lakaribane but after seeing her discussing colors of invisible zipper at the store-that-shall-not-be-named, I’m guessing I’m right). I used my usual method from Fashion Incubator for invisible zippers (really I cannot recommend it enough) with one of the zippers I brought back from my last trip to New York. I was sooo happy to have one to match perfectly. Now you can fell the drama coming… I finish the skirt that sunday evening with the hope of parading on Monday morning at the office. I put it on the form, close the zipper, take a picture for instagram and try to take it off the form to put it in my closet. ZIPPER STUCK, I spent an hour trying to remove it. Out of desperation I undid the seams hoping I would be able to fix it better of the form. Couldn’t. Cried a little. Put the skirt aside for 3 days until I had time to change the zipper to a not-perfectly-matching one… End of drama.

The culprit!
The culprit!

With this non-fraying fabric I decided to leave the hem raw but to avoid the unfinished effect I added 2 rows of topstitching.

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Anyway I’ve been quite productive sewing-wise so you can expect more posts very soon! Last question, my current date raised the issue of the skirt being maybe 1″ or 2″too long (2013, the year when guys started discussing hem length…), what do you think ? I could just cut it and redo the top stitching…

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Burda Open Back Dress 03/2013

EDIT – New close-ups I found on my phone. Yes I’m one of this people who has a phone that takes better pictures than her camera. I should do something about it but I don’t feel like jumping the “reflex” step yet…

I finally got around taking the pictures and writing the post about this dress that I finished two weeks ago !! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I had some issues with the fit, but here is the final result :

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For some reason the picture quality is not nice this time, I apologize!  I made the dress in size 17 (Burda petite sizing, see pattern here), which is my usual size and I normally have very little fit problems. Well not this time…

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I really like the full skirt and the open back but the dress does not seem to agree to stay in place. The back tends to ride up and the shoulders tends to come closer to the neck preventing the neckline from lying nice and flat…

CIMG0073The fabric is a printed silk I found here in Port-au-Prince (I was so happy). I used a brown cotton poplin for the sash and the lining of the bodice. This poplin have been in my stash forever. I remember packing it almost 4 years ago when I moved from France to Zambia. I, of course, had packed my sewing machine and some notions. I added this fabric as a “just in case”. Fabrics were amazing in Zambia so there was no case but it followed me to New York and finally found its use in Haiti where it found its match with this silk.

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I’m not sure if I like it more with or without the sash… Any opinion ?

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Anyway… Regarding the fit, it did not show any issue when put on my form so I was disappointed when I tried it on before putting in the zipper and it was GAPPING like CRAZY on the side. I’m not one afraid to show some skin but this was waaaaayy to close to a potential wardrobe malfunction. I let it rest for a few days and then I decided to scoop the neckline a little and I added some “darts” on the back pieces. See below :

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You can see the diagonal dart that I added at the waist & side seam intersection 

Construction is fairly simple once you figure out the instructions. I fused all the outside edges of the bodice with the fusible tape I got for a ridiculous price one day at Pacific Trimmings in NYC.

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For the straps, the idea is to sew them up to where they are going to connect to the cap sleeve, clip and turn them out. Then you can enclose them between the self and the lining.

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I am not yet fully proficient with my serger so I just zigzagged the raw edges of the sleeves :

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For the invisible zipper, as usual I used the Fashion Incubator tutorial. For some reason in the last few weeks I saw it popping up on other sewing blogs (yes, plural) as a “new” way of finishing zippers and lining with no hand sewing, but it’s been around on Fashion Incubator since 2005!!

Some dressform shots where you can see what I was saying about the back riding up :

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 And finally some better quality close-ups…

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So, sash or no sash ??

Pink silk top – Long time UFO, long time UBO…

This blouse was also finished before I left New York. This UFO (UnFinished Object) and UBO (UnBlogged object) was actually started it back in june 2012 when I traced the pattern and cut the fabric and then I put it in a drawer until 4 months ago when I finished it right before my move. So it did take me 1 year to show it from start to finish/blog.

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The pattern is from a 2003 Burda Magazine that I always liked and never took the time to make before. Which, was probably a good idea since my silk handling skills just recently improved (and there is still a lot of room for progress).

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Burda 2003
Line Drawing
Line Drawing

The fabric is silk charmeuse from Paron’s in NYC. The pattern plays with the contrast between the matte and the shiny side of charmeuse. But I did not cut the neck band on the right side and since it’s asymetrical (and I had no more fabric) it’s on the matte instead of shiny. Only the pocket and the sleeve “cuffs” ended up being on the shiny side.

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The side knot is leather and the construction of it is quite smart. It doesn’t come from inside the shirt but it’s hidden in a fold. I tried to take a few pictures to show it better.

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Outside the fold
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Inside the fold

I actually like this shirt a lot, and I wear it more than I thought I would. I find the cut to be quite flattering. But as with all silk blouse and hot caribbean weather, the main risk is hum hum… sweat marks… Sorry, I’m humane… So I have to think about my day first, will I spend it inside with AC or do I have to walk around?

Here are a few close ups to show the contrast of the charmeuse.

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I don’t remember making any adjustments to the pattern, but of course, one year later who would remember ??!!

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In other news, after some fit issues, the Burda dress is finally done but if you follow me on Instagram you already know that… The weather wasn’t great this weekend so I didn’t take pictures yet but I will soon !

I started working on a skirt, it’s actually a Burda pattern I used before to make a leather skirt. It does not happen often but YES I’m making a pattern twice!! I really like my leather skirt (so much that I brought it to Haiti, why? I don’t know) but between the leather and the New York length, I won’t wear it. So I’m making this version 7″ longer out of a coated cotton I got at Paron’s just before I left.

Nap pale ! (Trying to practice my Creole…)