Easy striped dress, another SBCC pattern…

I’m very late on blogging for 2 reasons: first I was Panama for a training last week (bought indigenous fabrics, so pretty!!) and second, my free time has been dedicated to finding a new house in Port-au-Prince to move in with The Old Man (picture at the end of this post).

BUT sewing has still been happening. Altought at a reduced pace… I was very happy with the results of my first try with SBCC patterns, so I decided to go ahead and buy another one. Although I like the fit of these patterns, I’m not sure how many of the current offering I will make because the patterns are not exactly my style.

Anyway, I settled for the Lemon Drop Dress. Unlike what is shown on the technical sketch below, the dress and the tops have a pleat detail at the center front.

Overall the fit is extremely close to perfect. The dress is comfortable and it’s a very easy project. It also helped that I now know you are supposed to butt the pages together and not overlap them (Pattern Review proving it’s still indispensable…)

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The fabric is a vintage linen-and-something-blend that I got during my last trip to Paris. I know I promised that I would make a post about the fabrics I got there but I did not manage to see Lakaribane since I came back and I don’t want to spoil the surprise fabric I brought for her… Going back to this fabric, I know this is a blend because it does not wrinkle (YAY!!) but it still has a very natural/raw feel to it.

As I was saying, the fit in the armhole area is excellent (no gaping, YAY!!) and slight racerback is quite nice.

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It’s a very easy dress to wear and even though it is quite simple in its shape, I got compliments when I wore it to the office (with flat sandals, shiny gold heels are not exactly logistics-base-approved).

CIMG2282For the construction, I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed. Only because the instructions of the free pattern were so good. For this dress, the instructions are very succinct. Here is what I did :

1. Prepare the back bend and sew it on the back. Sew the darts on the front.

2. Sew one shoulder seam (yes only one), with a french seam

3. Sew the bias binding on the neckline. I personnally like to first press the bias band in two, lenghtwise, sew the right side of the binding on the wrong side of the dress. Press the band up, fold and press the seam allowance of the band and then topstitch on the right side. I’m sure I’m not the only one doing it like this, I just couldn’t find one of the gazillion of tutorials that must have been written on the topic (wait, I just found one on Burdastyle).

IMG_1071 IMG_10684. Close the second shoulder (french seam again)

5. Bind the armholes (same as above)

6. Close the side seams (yes, french seams)

7. Hem and make the tie, BAM new dress!!

As you can see this is a super easy dress, not particularly trendy, in a fabric that should age well. Therefore, I think it’s totally worth making it as nice inside so it lasts for a while (ie. french seams).

I made size extra-small and my only alteration was taking an additional 1/4″ on each side seam (total reduction 1″) but I think that this is my personal preference for slightly more fitter garments. For the Petite ladies out there, some great fit details that do not require alteration in addition to the already mentionned great fitting armholes :

Length is good without shortening!!
Length is good without shortening!!
Bust darts hit the right spot!
Bust darts hit the right spot!
Tie and channel is at the real waist level !
Tie and channel is at the real waist level !

I think I could also wear it with the tie, tied in the back, but I’m not too sure about it :

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What do you think??

Also as promised in the beginning of the post, below is a picture of our new house!! We signed the lease yesterday and I’m very excited about it! In case you were getting tired of the backdrop of my balcony, well it will be one of the last times you see it. However, I will have a garden now (that needs A LOT of work) so pictures will still be outside. Another good news is that I will also still have a dedicated sewing room.
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The house comes furnished, and the walls just got repainted but there will be some sewing required for fancy pillows, curtains, and other little things to make it homey. I hope it won’t be to boring for you guys. I already have some home decor plans for the fabrics I brought back from Panama that I will talk about later!

Any good online resources for sewing for your home that I should know about ?

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More knit training with a maxi skirt

On that amazingly productive sewing day where I made 2 garments (I know it’s not that many but for me it’s a lot!), both of them were knits. First this t-shirt and then the below maxi-skirt:

It’s actually not very different than a lot of tutorials that you will find online but I drafted mine with a curve waistline and hem. Also I like to have fullness at the bottom so it’s a wide A instead of a rectangle.

All seams were serged and I added a partial lining in the same fabric because I was a little concern that the thin knit would let my underwear show. The waistline is a classic foldover one that you also find on yoga pants:

Weird...
Weird…
Folded (and less weird)!

Fabric was found here in Port-au-Prince on one of my excursions before meeting with Lakaribane for the first time. Let me tell you that I was quite proud of my find since nice knit is not Haiti’s most common good. BTW, by an initial-and-totally-not-scientific assessment, I’m convinced that mangoes are Haiti’s most common good, which is très delicious but totally useless sewing wise…

The fabric had an edge print: “studio line by caravel fabrics samsung” and apparently it means that it was made in South Korea. I would love to hear the story of those 3 yards traveling the world to end up in a haitian store!

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Not really much more to say about this project except that I will make more skirts when I find more knits (and that’s Lakaribane’s responsability because it will probably require an expedition to One Love) because seriously, I wear maxi skirts every other day.  Also, I have used this project to practice my CAD patternmaking and tiny Illustrator skills so you may see this come up as a free downloadable pattern soon… (That is if my illustrator capacities improve because the pattern is done and graded but I’m just trying to turn it into a multi page pdf, any advice in that regard is very welcome!!
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In other news, if you follow my instagram you will know that I finished another Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Pattern (let’s just call them SBCC ok?) , I’ll blog it as soon as it gets photographed :

Perfect T-shirt: FREE PATTERN ALERT !!

I try to force myself to work with knits to improve my serger skills. It’s hard because the results are not yet to my standard but it’s a humbling experience after 14 years of sewing… Now for the pattern, don’t go, RUN to get Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Tonic T-shirt pattern!! Why ? It’s FREEEEEEEE and it’s PERFECT!

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Now, the only thing you have to be careful about is measurements: it’s very close fitting so make sure your knit has the proper amount of recovery (printed on the instructions so yay!!) and adjust the length if needed. I’m 5’3″ and because I wear my bottoms either high waisted or pretty low on the hips, next time (oh yes there wil be many next times!!) I’ll add 2″ to make sure that I don’t expose my tummy in the office… Also, I have one less positive comment about the pattern, it’s a tiled PDF and there are no marks for where to join the pages. Since it’s just a t-shirt and you can just make sure lines are straight, it’s ok but I hope that for their more complex pattern SBCC is including this marks!

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I love everything about this pattern, the instructions are great (closer result to RTW), the scoop neck is nice and wide, the drafting is perfect, the fit is great and did I say that it’s free ?? This blue knit is from my last hangout with Lakaribane in Pétionville (did I say that she’s evil?? She shows you around Port-au-Prince, take you to eat delicious lobster and gets you to buy fabric to justify her own addiction… I’m telling you, she’s dangerous 😉 )

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For the construction, I serged all seams as per instruction, starting with one shoulder, finishing the neckline (hum hum, a lot of room for improvement here), serging the second shoulder, adding the sleeves, serging side seams and underarms seams at once and then serging and double stitching the hems.

The usual dressform shots: IMG_0830IMG_0831IMG_0832

And to my shame the close-ups where you can see my less than perfect work on the neckline. Do you have a tip to cut a constitent 1/8″ with the knif of the serger or do I have to get use to it?

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As you can see, the final result is quite close fitting. I used size XXS but I want to try to go up 2 sizes to make a loose version out of this amazingly soft and beautiful vintage silk jersey I just got in Paris. WHAT? Did I say vintage french silk jersey ? Yes… A fabric p*rn post from my trip back home is on the way…

Any tips for my serger learning curve?

 

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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Grainline Scout Tee Sewalong

Starting to write this post, I just realized that I think it is the first time that I actually sew a pattern from an independent sewing pattern company. I have been obsessed with them, mostly because this is something I have been thinking about doing since I was 14, but I never was fully into the styles and if I tempted the sizings are usually to big. In particular, I remember emailing one about there smallest bust measurement (maybe you can guess with one I’m talking about…) saying that it was a pity their smallest size was so big. I got a reply saying that I should do an SBA (Small Bust Adjustment). I was very disappointed because to me it felt like they did not understand their customers. Petite and Small in measurements women are always thought to be shapeless by the “curvier” people out there. I’m probably not going to make a lot of friends here but I never thought that curves were about measurements. Leaving in 4 different countries and continent in the last 4 years, I’ve seen shapes and shapelessness in every size and at every age !

Anyway… Maybe one day I’ll write the whole body image mandatory blogpost…

Going back to this pattern, I’ve been following Grainline Studio with a particular interest. I like a lot of things about Jen, her patterns and her designs and I was not disappointed making this one.

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This scout woven tee was made out of quilt cotton (GASP!) I bought 2 years ago when visiting Philadelphia. I know that a lot have been said about sewing with quilt cotton. I’m not one who would normally do it, it does not fit my wardrobe or my lifestyle. But once in a while, for a cute print, I allow myself to slip…. That same day in Philadelphia, I bought another piece of fabric that I used as soon as I was back in New York. TOTAL disaster!! I never wore it… Maybe one day I’ll show it on the blog and ask for advice on what I should do with it.

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With all the silk things, the leather and the coat making, sometimes I forget about how enjoyable it can be to make a SIMPLE pattern in an EASY fabric. The whole thing from taping the pattern to putting the final result on Instagram took me less than 3 hours!

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I made size 0 with no alterations and I was extremely pleased with the instructions : concise, clear and efficient. I serged the inside to practice my serging abilities (still VERY limited, I’m embarrassed to admit…).

I found the motivation to make it for the kollabora sewalong. I’m completely new to the kollabora community but it looks nice. However, I’m a bit hesitant to start uploading there as I am already struggling to find the time for the blog, Burdastyle and Pattern Review

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I’ve seen some very nice knit versions here and there and I’m willing to try (more practice with the serger…). I think I would change a few things to the pattern. First, the shoulder seam is funny, maybe you can see what I mean on this picture :

IMG_0769And for a knit, I would remove the ease of the sleeve and lengthen the bodice maybe 2 inches. What do you think ? Are you tired of the view of my balcony already ?

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).

Burda 2003
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…)