Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Burda Update

I started sewing the BWOF pants this evening and, Hey! So far, so good!

The instructions are equally incomplete, confusing and liberating. For these little pants, incomplete and confusing aren't an issue. What's surprising is how liberating they are. I can pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want.

For example, I am entirely free to select my preferred seam finish. Ssssh! Don't tell Charity that I didn't use my serger. I stitched the seams on my Ellegante, then used an overcast stitch and trimmed the seam allowances.

One thing I'm not really clear on is how to transition from an overcast seam allowance to a seam allowance that, for whatever reason, needs to be pressed open. The transition always looks messy to me. These little pants have a drawstring above the ruffle on each leg, so the instructions were to stitch the side seam, leaving an opening for the drawstring. This is how I finished it off inside; I'm fairly happy with this.

One thing I'm super happy with is how well I lined up the horizontal seamlines when I stitched the side seams.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get the ruffles hemmed - each ruffle is 42 inches long so it looks like another outing with my narrow hem foot.

Monday, April 28, 2008

More Burda

I did my initial tracing of my Burda World of Fashion (BWOF) pattern on Saturday evening, but waited until today to add the seam allowances and cut the pattern out. Tracing the pattern is quite an experience. There are lines running all over the pattern sheet. For anyone tracing their first Burda pattern, I recommend using a very, very sheer pattern material so that the color coding is clearly visible.

Since BWOF patterns don't include seam allowances, you have to add them yourself. I remembered a trick I read about on PatternReview and fabricated a high tech seam allowance tool. I think it will go down in the High Tech Hall of Fame right along side my high tech tube turner.

And here are my pattern pieces. I still have to cut the ruffles, casings and drawstrings, but there are no actual pattern pieces for those; you're simply given the required dimensions and you cut them accordingly. I'll be cutting these pieces and the ruffles from a white linen/rayon blend tonight. The casings and drawstrings are cut from contrast fabric, which are as yet unpurchased.

Burda Update

I finally have all the measurements I need to proceed. I'm still swamped with work, but I'm going to try to take a break tonight and at least get them cut out, if I can get the linen washed and dried again (I learned my lesson on my fitted blouse!) in the meantime.

I looked through my meager stash and I don't have any fabric that would be appropriate for the top so I guess that will have to wait until I have time for a trip to the fabric store. I want something sweet and dainty, similar to how it's shown in the magazine.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Burda World of Fashion...

...Here I Come!

I'm about to make my first foray into the Burda World of Fashion. It's not a death-defying leap from a rocky cliff into crashing seas below, but rather a toe-dipping, ease your way in kind of entry.

I'll be making pattern 139 from the April, 2008 issue, the ruffled pants being worn by the little girl in the middle. Cute, aren't they? As my model lives a little over 2100 miles away, I'm going to have to rely on measuring the pattern pieces in order to make sure I've selected the correct size. Depending on how the pants turn out, I may make the tunic as well. (Unfortunately, the cute tunic is hidden under her sweater. Unless you happen to have the magazine, you'll have to trust me that it's very sweet.)

I'll be making the pants out of a white linen blend; her mother says she doesn't mind ironing and, since I don't mind ironing either, I believe her. I'll have to purchase something for the tunic if I decide to make it, too.

Wish me luck, I'm going to trace the pattern tonight!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tying a Sash

The pros and cons of wearing tops with bows has been debated over at PatternReview, but whether or not you think they're appropriate after a "certain age," bows are undeniably a part of today's fashion scene. And, of course, bows are always in fashion for little girls. Being able to tie a symmetrical bow that sits level rather than flopping limply to one side or the other is crucial to pulling the look together.

Keep in mind that there's nothing so special about tying the perfect bow. You most likely tie bows just like this when you tie your shoes. So I've documented a lot of steps here, but remember, you're really just tying a bow.

Here's how.

Cross one sash end over the other. I'm left handed, so it works well for me to cross the right sash end (B) over the left sash end (A). If you're right-handed, it may work better for you to cross the left over the right; just remember to reverse all the steps.*

Now the right sash end, B is on the left, and the left sash end, A is on the right. From now on, I'll just refer to B and A. Fold B up behind A and over to form a half knot.

Pull your half knot snug, but not uncomfortably so.

With A, form a loop up close to the half knot. This is the most important part of tying a perfect bow: the loop must always be formed with the tail that comes from the bottom of the half knot. B must be kept on top. This is the only thing that differentiates a perfect bow from a bow that twists to one side.

Bring B over the top and in front of Loop A.

Pass B behind the Loop A. Form a loop from B and push it back through the space you created when bringing B over and then under Loop A.

Pull Loop B all the way through.

Pull your knot snug. Adjust your bow by alternately pulling on the loops and tails until you have a nice proportion of loop to tail.

Your finished bow:

Notes: You can apply this procedure to tying a nice knot, for example, on the belt of a coat. Just remember to keep B on top.

Your finished knot:

And here's what happens if you forget to keep B on top. Ugh!

This type of bow is better suited to a two-sided sash or ribbon, but it is possible to tie a nice bow with single-sided as well. Just remember to keep the right side of the sash/ribbon properly oriented at all times. You will have to twist the ribbon as you're pushing Loop B back through on itself; the trick here is to make sure that the twist ends up in the knot as opposed to on either side of it. Here's a picture of a bow tied with single-sided ribbon, just to prove that it's possible.

*This is a small but satisfying payback for the countless times I've read and tried to reverse directions written from a right-handed perspective.

Work, Work, Work

That's what I've been doing for the last three days, in case you may have been wondering what had become of me. I am so unsuited for steady employment that I'm sure I was actually intended to be independently wealthy and it was only by some evil twist of fate that I'm left with the need to work at a job for pay.

I don't mean to give the impression that I'm lazy. I'm always doing something; sewing, gardening, making jewelry, running Mom's Taxi, cooking, cleaning - well, not that much cleaning. But I find the effects of the every day sameness of a job to be roughly equivalent to repeatedly driving my head into a brick wall. Thankfully I work from home so I can vary my routine from day to day but the last few weeks my workload has more than doubled...to the point where a lot of my flexibility has vanished. I must work at certain times or work will be left unfinished.

All that being said, it is my intention to post the sash tutorial later today, right after I run to store to pick up fresh batteries for my digital camera, so be sure to check back later today if you're interested.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More About Croquis

I picked up the Spring, 2008 issue of Sew Stylish at my local Barnes & Noble yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to see, on Page 19, "Design by Proportion; Figure-flattering garments are just a sketch away," which is an article on...croquis! The article includes instructions for making your own croquis and how to use it to choose patterns that will be flattering to your figure.

The actual text portion of the article is quite short, just 2/3 of a page (and part of that is a rather large headline), but the remainder of the article is lot of pictures showing how make your own croquis and how to use it to try out different silhouettes on your body shape. The illustrations include detailed captions.

If you have considered making your own croquis, I highly recommend picking up a copy of this magazine to help you get started.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Piecing the Contrast Band

I spent the better part of today finishing up Simplicity 4721 the Lizzie McGuire dress intended for my granddaughter. Most of that time was spent piecing in the contrast band.

If you're new to this project, let me bring you up to speed. The short story is that I had expected the contrast band to be pieced into the skirt. In actuality, it was appliqued onto the skirt. I was dissatisfied with how that was going to look and had all but decided to use jumbo rick-rack instead when Bunny, of La Sewista! suggested piecing the band using hemstitching. Which is what I did, after referring to Carol Ahles excellent book, Fine Machine Sewing (my review). For those of you who are interested, this is how I did it.

Warning: This procedure is neither for the rushed nor the faint of heart!

First, I pressed under the seam allowance on the contrast band.

Then I pinned the band to the dress, placing the bottom of the band on the placement line.

Next, I stitched the band to the dress, using a straight stitch and stitching very close to the pressed edges of the band.

The next step was one of the most nerve-wracking things I've ever done; seriously, I thought I was going to hyperventilate. From the back side of the dress, I slit the base fabric between the lines of stitching. This was the point of no return.

I pressed the raw edges of the base fabric away from the contrast band and basted the seam allowances down, well away from the seam line. I wanted to make sure they stayed in place while I was stitching from the right side of the fabric.

Next, from the right side, I hemstitched the edges of the contrast band using the Parisian hemstitch, Sulky machine embroidery thread and a 100/16 wing needle. The Parisian hemstitch looks like a blanket stitch, but it stitches in and out of each hole in the main row of stitching five (count 'em!) times. This step alone took nearly two hours.

After I finished hemstitching, I trimmed away the seam allowances very close to the stitching.

Here's a detail shot of the contrast band.

And here's the finished dress*:

*I apologize for the poor photo; my model lives far, far away.

Friday, April 18, 2008


It's snowing in the Puget Sound region today. What's up with that?

Both pictures are taken from my deck, looking out over my back yard. Late spring snow isn't entirely unheard around here, but it's very, very unusual.

A Heartfelt Thanks

I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has visited my blog and taken the time to offer valued opinions, advice and encouragement as I sometimes struggle through my sewing projects. You may not realize how much appreciated your words are, but I want to assure you, I appreciate each and everyone of you and your comments.Free Myspace comments best layouts.
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Contrast Band Revisited

I was all set to use jumbo rick-rack for the contrast band on the dress I'm making for my granddaughter, Simplicity 4721, when Bunny suggested pinstitching as a solution to my problem.

It was perfect timing as I had Carol Ahles excellent book, Fine Machine Sewing on loan from the library. Hoping that pinstitching and hemstitching were the same thing, I pulled out the book, read up on the technique and started practicing. I selected Parisian hemstitch and a wing needle.Bunny suggested a very large needle rather than a wing needle but a wing needle is what I had on hand, so that is what I used.

This is a close-up of my best practice swatch so far. I think it looks pretty good. If this were an heirloom dress made of handkerchief linen, I might feel differently, but I think this is quite adequate for a (not so simple after all) sundress made of quilting cotton. Even the back looks good, as all the excess fabric is trimmed away, eliminating the problem of how to keep the seam allowances from showing through.

I'm still undecided whether to use rick-rack or the hemstitching. Opinions, please.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How To Tie A Standalone Bow

One thing that often crops up when sewing for little girls is the need to tie a bow which will then be attached to a garment. Here are instructions for getting a symmetrical bow every time.

Start with a length of ribbon that is more than long enough for your bow. I usually purchase an extra half yard of ribbon and cut it as the bows are tied.

To begin, form two loops with the ribbon as shown. Leave plenty of space between the loops; the wider your ribbon, the more space you need to leave. Make sure there is enough length on the short end of the ribbon that you can cut the tail to your desired length. If your ribbon is one sided, the good side of the ribbon should be on the outside of the loops.

Cross one loop over the top of the other loop. I’m left-handed and it works well for me to cross the left loop over the right. If you’re right-handed, it might work better the other way. If the hole made by crossing the ribbons looks a little small, start over and leave more space between the loops.

Take the top loop and fold it down behind the cross and into the hole formed by crossing the loops.

Pull the loop all the way through.

At this point, there should be a loose tail of ribbon laying across the front of the bow (you can see it in the picture above); move it over the top and to the back.

Pull the loops until the knot is snug, but not too snug. If you’re using one sided ribbon, now is the time to make sure that the good side is on the outside of the loops and facing toward you on the tails.

Your bow should look kind of sloppy right now, with very long loops and at least one very short tail. Shape your bow: pull one tail to shorten a loop, snug your knot, then pull the other tail and so on until the loops are your desired size. Trim your tails to length.

Your finished bow:

Coming in the next week: How to tie a sash bow.

Coming Soon!

I'm working on my first tutorial. I picked something really simple to hone my tutorial technique, so I'll be tying bows. With three daughters, it's something I've gotten sort of good at over the years. Hopefully it will be ready to roll out this afternoon.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Disappointing Project

I hate it, hate it, hate it when a pattern disappoints. You've spent time - not to mention money - carefully matching fabric and pattern and anticipation is high. Then, as work progresses, there's something, or a series of somethings and you find yourself disenchanted the the project.

Simplicity 4721 has certainly become a disappointment. I'll finish the dress, one way or another and I'm sure that my granddaughter will like it and wear it. But it's the sort of thing for which I would constantly feel as though I needed to apologize.

My dissatisfaction is related to the contrast band near the hem of the dress. When I purchased the pattern, my assumption was that the band was pieced in. When I began cutting fabric, I realized that, rather than being pieced, the white band is appliqued onto the skirt.

Okay, that was a little disappointing and seemed like kind of a cheesy way to do it, but I sucked it up and proceeded. Then, as I was getting ready to turn under the seam allowances on the band, it occurred to me that my white fabric was kind of thin, and, Hey! the print from the main fabric might show through. Which, of course, it did. And actually looked worse, to my way of thinking, with the seam allowance turned under.

But since I was filled with the sewing mojo, I decided just to cut another band, sew the two together and turn the whole shebang right side. It seemed like it would eliminate the show through AND finish the edges at the same time. So I tried it and that's where I sit right now. The band still isn't opaque enough to keep the base fabric from showing through, you can still see the seam allowances as whiter than the rest of the band, and it's so thick, I think it will look like an afterthought and possibly weigh it down.

I've considered several options, but at this point I believe I'll replace the contrast band with two rows of super colossal, jumbo rick rack. I think it will look just as cute and there won't be any show through