Under Construction

Sorry I don’t have a finished project to share. Despite having time to sew, I have been spending much more time doing refashions on items in my refashion pile (I never seem to document these).

Anyway I have been positively itching to try simplicity 1609. So many amazing versions of this around the blogosphere and 60s shift dresses are what I’m about!  I’m making a wearable muslin…


The fabric is quite a boring beige stretch sateen (I usually hate beige but it was super cheap find from years ago) Anyway to make it more interesting I am doing a chevron effect on the center from seam.

Lets hope it works!

So the yellow Burda pleated blouse (from the last post) is now complete.
Let me share with you something embarrassing. It’s enough to make any kind of pattern maker recoil in disgust. Below is my makeshift dart…

The reason why it’s so horrid looking was because I was fitting (and re-fitting) on the already assembled shirt (so I was not working with a flat piece) therefore it was hard to record the positioning of the dart accurately. Sewing the next version of this shirt should be interesting haha!

The next picture is of one the amended side seams on the pattern piece. When I take the side seams in, it’s common for me to keep the piece I cut off/removed and then sticky-tape it back onto the pattern (away from the seam). That way if I need to retrace my steps I know how much I have removed.

Does anyone else do this? In this case I took the side seams in a bit and realized I needed to take the seam in a second time, so thats why there are two pieces stuck to the inside of the pattern.

Ah fitting and pattern modifications what a boring, yet necessary evil.

Onto something more fun…The next project.

Heres a look at it so far. The fabric has such a crazy print and I  happen adore over-the-top geometric prints…

I am making a dress using simplicity 2444 again.

I altered the pattern slightly and removed excess from the top of the neckline so that it would not gape so much, so I wanted to test the modified pattern using a fabric that wasn’t new or super fancy.

The fabric began it’s life as a spaghetti-strap sun dress. Thin straps are unflattering on me  but I knew I had to salvage the fabric because I loved the print so much. There is only enough of the fabric for these bodice pieces (the sleeves and the skirt will be a soild black).

The fabric was also very see-through so I had to underline the bodice pieces (I used a bleached calico).

To underline the pieces I machine-basted around the seam allowances of fabric and underling pieces, basing the underling and the fashion fabric together.
I also machine basted the dart markings (the basting had to be unpicked once the darts were sewn together). Underling is time-consuming, but it gives the fabric a lovely weight and really enhances it. Love it!
If you underline by hand sewing, give machine basting a try! It is so much quicker. I just length my stitches and make sure the tension is loose.

I am also going to line the bodice in black (yes I am slightly crazy, but you know I hate facings in dresses).

Simplicity 2588 another pattern I am looking forward to trying for the first time (I love raglan sleeves and princess seams!)…

A lot of these project runway patterns have a lot of different styles/pieces in the one envelope.
I often create a smaller envelope to hold the other pattern pieces I’m not using. This envelope is just made from thin note paper and can can then go inside the main envelope. That way I can isolate the pieces I’m working with and avoid confusion.

I feel like this post may have been a little boring, but sometimes it’s good to share the process. Next up is my finished top! :).

I live with my boyfriend now and he knows not to use the good sewing scissors, but I thought some fellow sewers may get a kick out of my scissor warning.

Do not use for paper or you will destroy me. LOL!

I have almost finished this top. I have been enamored with this pleated top for a while, it seemed dressy and versatile with vintage flair.

I was worried It wouldn’t suit me, but after sewing the buttons and trying it on I love the affect of the pleats around the neck! There is only one thing that needs some tweaking and that is the fit. I do prefer more definition at the waist.

It really needs more shaping. Because I made it in a medium weight poplin when I belt it or tuck it into a skirt it creases like crazy!

So if you are making this pattern and prefer a more fitted silhouette bear in mind it does have a lot of ease at the sides.

I am going to take some width out of the side seams and add darts to the front. There go the fancy side seams I made. I must remember to fit as I go. I should have pinned where the buttons were to get a better idea of the fit before finishing the side seams of.

Ah sewing, you never stop learning from your mistakes :).

 So I fell for this pattern. I love the square demure neckline with the fitted skirt and bodice. I did not know what I was in for (fitting wise) but I was not prepared to make a calico muslin/prototype. So I made it up in a fabric that I had a lot of as a sort of wearable muslin. I am 90% finished making the dress.

Below is how the dress (Butterick 5032) looked after I got rid of all the excess fabric in the skirt. But as you will see it took some time to get to this point…The skirt skims the curves but there is still room for movement there, I could afford to get rid of more but I usually over-fit so I tried not to go over board.

Sorry about all the mess in the picture.

If a comerical pattern was to fit someone exactly out of the envelope I am convinced the wearer would have a minuscule waist, breasts above armpit level and either have hips that are disproportionatley big or insist on an absolutely ridiculous/frumpy amount of wearing ease in a “fitted skirt”.

Or perhaps I am the one with the weird body. I always just thought I had an hour glass shape. But in Butterick world I have an enormous waist and tiny hips.

My hips and bust are exactly the same measurement (envelope says: size 10, size 12)  and  My waist is a size 14 ( well according to the pattern envelope).

Above is how I amended the skirt. (The red line is where I cut off the pattern and includes seam allowance).

Then after decreasing the size and roundness at the hips and legs I then added a little extra to the waist. I also tapered the skirt in near the hem (so it would look a bit more like the design on the pattern envelope (it has a vent so you can still move easily).

Above is what I added to the waist. I also added 0.5cm to the side seams of the bodice, now I have a bit of ease and I can still wear the post food bloat (sorry if that was too much information).

So pictured above is my biggest grievance, this gaping effect (sorry about the loo in the background btw). Does this happen to anyone else? It seems to happen with all the fitted dresses I make.

Perhaps it’s because the space above chest and just bellow my collar bones is a lot more concave than the average. Or perhaps its just a bad drafting of the pattern.

Anyway I have fixed it on the pattern for future dresses but I don’t think I will worry about it on this one, It was sort of a wearable muslin anyway.

Also I am LOVING… Underlining!

This is the second time I have tried it. You are essentially just making the fabric thicker by basting another fabric to the backside of your fashion fabric (I do this my basting around it with a long stitch on my machine but some people do it by hand-stitching). I underlined the skirt to give it stability but there was another unexpected benefit.

This is the finished hem of my skirt (I kid you not!) Do you see any stitches? Thats because when I used the invisible hem foot on bernie (my bernina) the stitch picked up the underlining fabric only so that so see absolutely no stitching on the right side of the fabric. How brilliant is that?!

Ok so here is what the stitch looks like from the back. I get soo much joy out of this dam stitch and foot (The skin on my hands is all yucky because of the cold weather sorry again)

Also here is the glorious foot I use to to the invisible hem stitch (stitch 7). OK now we have established that I am a sewing geek.

I have been out of action (sewing-wise) for more than 3 weeks and I have to say it has made me so sad.
I thought my leg was better (but it got bad again when I started to sew) leading me to believe it may be sewing related.

I am off on a massive trip (over 8 weeks) around Europe and beyond but when I get back I fully intend to sew and post on a weekly basis again.
I will be blogging pictures from my trip here (

It’s sad that I didn’t finish the dress for the Mad Men challenge but considering the circumstances I’m glad I gave the old leg some healing time.

I was pretty happy with where I was going with it after all the fussing with the fit. Notice the photos are better? I got a proper camera from my lovely boyfriend for my birthday and I am so happy for it! I have been busy playing around with it and trying to learn about photography.

I gotta say I LOVE what I have seen of  the costumes from season 5 of Mad Men.

(warning: spoilers)

The late 60s is the best! I adore all the playful prints and bright colours. I am ALL about those two things for myself as well! Bold colour and pattern is 100% my style.

I look forward to sew again when I come back! Hopefully I will encounter some fabric shops on my travels 😉

Making this dress fit well has proved to be a major undertaking. It’s enough to make me take out the well-fitting sun dress pattern I have used 20+ times and make something just so I can sew a quicker project.

But I am learning…I think.

I can definitely see an improvement and after 4 muslins I have gotten rid of all the droopy excess fabric from above the bust/near the neckline.

Btw those are badly sewn darts on the left.

I am not even going to worry about the position of the darts…thats for another life when I am perfect.

What else needs to be done on this **^&#$^ thing?

  • The neckline needs to be lowered. Will be more flattering and I will be able to breath properly.
  • I need to re-draft a collar for the lowered neckline. I have already done this once, when I removed  the excess fabric. See how different the collars on the left and right pictures look? I like the original collar (left picture) better so I want the shape to be more like that.
  • Lengthen the around the armhole. The shape of pattern has changed due to removing excess fabric bellow neckline like the original arm-holey length better (there is no sleeve so I don’t know what to say in order to describe the area).
  • Shorten skirt to desired length. I probably wont bother with a pleat. hmmm more decisions.
  • There is excess near the waist…perhaps that is not a bad thing. Anyone who has eaten a big meal in a fitted dress knows what I am talking about! Plus if I take out some ease in the waist I will have the fun task of altering the entire skirt portion of the dress oh so slightly. ummm.. NO. that wont happen! So I will take in a slither just under the lower bust.
  • Even after altering the back I have a LOT of excess fabric near the back neckline. How to fix? Still unsure.

Oh god this is pretty frikken tedious! I think I am going to go do something non-sewing related like vacuum, dust or cleaning the house. Yes that actually sounds like more fun.

No seriously. I am learning. I do like learning about these things but the process is soooo slow! Either I have a messed up body or Burda patterns are not as well-fitting patterns as I thought. It’s probably a bit of both.

Like I said I really HATE the fitting and altering process. Actually It’s the only part of the whole sewing process that I don’t like. OK that and marking darts.

So I make a muslin of a pattern I have never made before, look at the many flaws in the fit, pin  where it needs to be altered, make corrections on the pattern (after copying a  new version of the pattern), test the fit THEN rise and repeat at least 20 times till I don’t hate the fit. Even then after I have sewn the amended pattern with the good fabric the inner perfectionist in you will see all the things I missed.

However my Dad did give me some advice on altering the pattern. Yes you heard right, my Dad! He totally understands pattern making, and geometry in a way I don’t.

He suggested I only alter the center front piece I thought you HAD to alter both the front and side front BUT that would make the armholes smaller. I’m glad I took his advice..

Anyway here is what the first muslin looked like (before any alterations)

See all that sexy excess fabric below the collar/above the bust? Thats what I devoted my day to correcting. 4 muslins later and I thinking I have gotten rid of most of it.

The back is also a bit loose but I don’t know if I will go as far as to correct it. I have a pretty flat butt or something…I don’t want to get into the habit or over-fitting because the corrections can go on forever and I want to be able to move in the garment.

The calico I have been using is faulty and the grain line is really of. When I tear it rather than tearing in a straight line like a plain weave should, it tears in a massive curve. I have tried to pull it back on grain but to no avail. Can see how messed up the seam/grainline is on the centre back of my skirt!

Perhaps I will take it a bit in at the waist bellow the bust. The fun never ends :(.

I stacked all the altered versions of the center from bodice piece.  The original is on the bottom. On version 5 I gave up and tried to reduce the gaping via dart transfer. I have yet to make a muslin of this final alteration but yeah the tedium just overwhelms me sometimes…

I know that I should just accept that this is part of sewing and be more patient.  But it’s the constant fussing and repeating the same things over and over. I am grateful for any knowledge I can gain in this area. Perhaps I had a better understanding of fitting I would enjoy it more.

After the 4th version of the altered bodice the neckline shorted so I also had to re-do the collar  (because I got rid of excess fabric by transferring it into the dart).