Saturday, 31 December 2011

That old Chestnut - Burda 7494

juliabobbin burda 7494

I asked my husband how he would describe my personality. He said 'Friendly, passionate, loving, stubborn (I object!)' ... and then suddenly had something really important to do in another room. His real description of my personality in his head probably went like this "Crazy, obsessive, intense ... and more than a little bit scary. Why is she staring at me? Oh God her eyes! Her eyes! She is reading my mind!"
Well the jokes on you Robin, we're married now! Mwawhahahahaha! (this is probably where the crazy bit comes out).

AAAaannny way, my point is I get a little obsessive crazy. Take Burda pattern 7494 for example. I made it, loved it. Made it again ... and then again .... and then again. Yes that's right. Four times.

This pattern has three really good things going for it.

1.The bodice has such a lovely flattering shape that seems to work on every body type.
2. The instructions are clear and it's so easy to make
3. It has a peter-pan collar. Enough said.

I made these dresses quite a while ago, and in keeping with my personality all in quick succession. The first one I made was the blue dress which was a pretty much exact copy of the Burda envelope pattern. It was made up in a blue cotton with little white polka-dots.

I made it up exactly as the pattern said skirt and all, tried it on and then looked in the mirror. It looked so lovely! The Bodice was sitting well, the Peter-pan collar so vintage cute, I absolutely loved the look!

... and then I turned to see the back ....

GASP! - (Sorry, it still makes me panic to think about it).

What the H was going on back there! Now yes, I am a bit of pear shaped gal, but it looked like a not so small family had pitched a tent back there and had sat down to have their daily meal of pears (how cruel!) My ass looked like the map of Australia!

The positioning of where the pleats stopped and started to spread out was horrible! Maybe the pleats were too large, maybe I just needed more pleats, but they stuck out so much I almost swore on the spot that I would never eat chocolate again (desperate times).

So. I unpicked the box pleat - still looked wrong. Then I decided to continue the box pleat all the way down to the hem of the skirt creating princess seams for a closed look, the result being much better. Welcome back normal heart rate, and once again I was in love.

Having a few brains in my head, I decided to learn from my experience and the next three versions I made using different skirts than what was offered with the Burda pattern.

Speaking of brains, here's a quick side note. Did you know that when you order something from a restaurant that says it's topped with 'sweet bread' they actually mean it's topped with ... brains. Oh.My.God. Traumatised! I fell victim to this just two days ago.

Ok I'm back.

The second version of this dress I made also in the sister fabric of the first; red cotton with white polka-dots.

This time I avoided the whole skirt issue by substituting a half circle skirt for the burda skirt, giving it a fun, flirty look. If I had red hair I'd be looking very 'Orphan Annie.'

This time the skirt is gracefully flared out to avoid my derriere resembling a map of a large country.

I liked the look so much that I made it almost immediately again, except this time in a gorgeous black and white check silk dupion! Delicious!

I love how the crispness of the dupion encourages the skirt to stick out along the hem giving it a sort of 3D look.

With all the dresses I used invisible zippers also to give a more cleaner look.

Who doesn't love silk dupion! Look at that crispy collar.

Last but not least I made another dress up in more of a traditional look making the same shaped skirt, but with my own pattern. I used darts instead of pleats and the effect was much cleaner and a lot more flattering.

The fabric I used for this dress was a silk duchess satin and I have been on the hunt for more of this fabric ever since! All I can find is polyester, or bridal colours. The duchess satin has so much body in it that when I stepped out of the dress, the dress still sat up like there was someone still wearing it. Which admittedly is a little bit creepy. But golly it makes for a flattering shape and absorbes the colour so well.

So there you have it. One pattern, three skirts, four different dresses! I love them all, and still can't decide which one is my favourite. What do you think?

The simple fact is that the bodice of this pattern is beautiful enough that I still highly recommend the pattern, regardless of the skirt fail. If you are going to make this yourself, substitute the back skirt pieces for the back skirt lining pieces and you shall have success! A big thank you to my talented husband for his mad camera skills.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Earn one's stripes: Colette 'Parfait'

There's only one thing that I don't like about Colette Patterns, and that is that there's not enough of them! Ba-doom Ching!

My latest creation is from the Colette Patterns range; the Parfait dress and it's delicious.

It features a gathered bust, a flattering high smooth high waist, loose A-line flared skirt, pockets and buttons!

And who doesn't like pockets! Let's be honest! Well actually, I've been known to ignore the pockets on some patterns due to their positioning. Some side seam pockets can add unnecessary bulk to already bulky areas (pear shape much?) but these fancy pants pockets sit mercifully on the front of the thighs minding their own business.

I made the dress out a heavy cotton that I purchased from The Fabric Store and the moment I saw it, I knew I wanted to get fancy with the stripes. I played around with the different directions of the strips to add extra flare to the look. Some pieces the stripes are horizontal, some vertical, some diagonal.

See all the different directions? It'll make you go cross eyed, but I find the effect very satisfying.

I love the gathered bust shape and the sweet heart neck line.

Now I can sense that some of you are jumping up and down on your seats and pointing at your screen so I will come out and say what you've already probably noticed. Yes. The tabs on the shoulder straps are back to front. The tab is supposed to have the button and go behind the strap with the button hole. I accidentally did it the wrong way round so you don't see the pointed detail of the strap.

See? The arrow strap is supposed to go on top. Oh well, I still think it looks good so I'm just going to let that one go.

I love the high waist which is very flattering to a pear/hour glass shape with the nice flared skirt. It hides lumps and bumps well!

Also, because this dress isn't lined, it's quite fast to whip up, and a good dress for beginners. P.s.- how cool are the buttons in contrast to the stripes!

Changes I made:

I cut the bodice and waist in a six, and cut the skirt from the hips down in a size eight. This is actually pretty awesome for me, as normal commercial patterns the hip size usually needs to be cut more than one size bigger than the waist and torso.

I made this dress up in a calico first (good girl Julia!) which highlighted some adjustments that I needed to make on the bust.

The centre of bodice, right where is drips down into a V was very gapey on me, so I sliced one cm from the centre fold to remove the excess fabric. You can see on the picture below the slice that I've cut off on the left of the pattern piece.
Even though I have a full bust, there was a lot of loose fabric flapping around in the centre of each cup, which wasn't eliminated from the gather stitch below the bust, so I created a dart of about 1.5 cm's on the pattern piece to reduce the volume, which you can see in the photo below.
Lastly, the bottom of the bust pieces sat way down lower than where my bust started (my bust starts pretty high on my frame) so I reduced the curve under the bust by about two centremetres. You can see where I've cut it out in the below photo.

The result was a nice fitted bodice. Everything else stayed the same - minus my button hole/strap blooper.

It was a pleasure as always making a Colette pattern. The packaging is detailed and injected with love and the instructions were intuitive, instructive and caring. Another great dress from the Colette patterns range! And I do love a good stripe print.

Update: I was looking at the Colette Flickr group and found another version of this pattern by the very talented Paunnet from earlier this year! My dress is almost exactly the same, looks like I've channelled her awesome-ness in my version! You can check out her Parfait on her blog

Elastic Fantastic - The skirt

Ok, so it's a skirt. A black skirt. Nothing to write home about right?

So why do I feel the need to post about my latest sewing creation? Because the waist band is made of elastic! Truly!

I had recently purchased some beautiful cardigans (sweaters) and while swiping my credit card through their machines to pay for these beauties (all four of them) I started fantasising about what I'd wear with them ... black wiggle skirt. BAM!
I then went on a frenzied hunt through the stores trying to find a black pencil skirt. After many long unsuccessful searches (everything was either too tight on my hips or too loose on my waist) I suddenly had a moment of clarity and an inner dialogue began:

Right side of my brain (RS) - "Hey Julia, what's up"
Left side of my brain (LS) - "Oh you know, just trying to find me a pencil skirt ... unsuccessfully."
RS - "Hmmm ... I see."
LS - " Yeah it's really getting me down not finding one"
RS - " Hey, so um Julia, you sew right?"
*Awkward silence*
LS - "Um .. yes."
*The sound of a penny dropping*
RS - "Then what the H are doing looking for a pencil skirt when you could be making one fool!"
LS - "Fair call RS, fair call"
*The sound of epiphany trumpets playing*

I decided that was that, I had to make me a black wiggle skirt to accompany my new cardigans.

These cardigans are ridiculously pretty, very form flattering and makes me think of the 50's era where clothing was modest (cleavages and thighs tucked away) but the silhouettes were knock you in the face sexy. Think Joan from Mad Men.

Now pencil skirts are nothing new, and God knows they have been done before, but I really wanted a skirt that emphasised the curve of the female figure,; smooth on the hips and small in the waist,  just like Joanie Harris above.
I've made skirts before but the waist band never seemed to really synch in the waist. And then I had a breakthrough.

Now initially I was nervous. Over the years I'd come to associate elastic with plus sized dresses, and that creepy man who sits out the front of my local supermarket wearing sweat pants and most certainly no underwear. Oh.Dear.God. But it's time to be free of my fears and go all 'Justin Timberlake' on elastic and bring the sexy back.

I headed to clegs after work and purchased a strip of black elastic (belt elastic according to the label) about 7cm wide and hurried home to my sewing room to experiment.

I whipped up the skirt using under one metre of fabric of a thick wool/polyester blend that I also purchased from clegs. Once I finished the skirt I measured the circumference of the skirt waist, and then cut the strip of elastic the same length but about 4cm shorter. I then pinned the elastic strip to the skirt, stretching the elastic to fit and sewed it down with a 1.5cm allowance. I also top stitched the seam allowance to the waist band to keep the allowance flat and stop the skirt from buckling.

When the skirt is lying limp and the elastic relaxes, it gathers up a little around the elastic join. When you're wearing the skirt, your body stretches the elastic band out which removes all the puckering of the skirt fabric.

I finished the skirt with an invisible zipper and then squeeled with delight when I tried the finished garment on!

I love how the elastic pulls everything in to the body and emphasises the waist! It is also very comfortable as it moves with you, rather than cuts into you like non stretch waist bands can. Now I'm a big eater, and usually after a big lunch I thoroughly regret what I decided to wear that morning. Now with the elastic, the waist band will expand to include the extra 10 kilos of food I've just shovelled into my belly.

The elastic is also easy to attach as there is no interfacing, no facings and no finishings (apart from the seam allowance where you attach the elastic to the skirt). Genius!

It is such a simple skirt, but one that gives a bit of va-voom emphasising the classic feminine shape. Because the elastic is a feature, rather than covered by a fabric casing, the end result is that the waist band is flat and smooth, rather than bunched up like MC Hammer pants (which, let's be honest I still love).

Too be honest, my trauma associated with elastic first lessened when I made my recent jacket 'Minoru and Me' pattern made by Sewaholic Patterns. I loved how the jacket turned out, and it had a lot to do with the shape created by using elastic. Interesting indeed.

Oh and for those who are interested, I bought my cardigans from Alannah Hill with the exception of the mustard cardigan, which I bought from Princess Highway ... I think.

I love this new skirt and I encourage every one to give it a try. It'll make you look small in all the right spots. The possibilities are endless!

I am not ashamed to admit, I am now an elastic convert. Amen.