Burgundy Wedding Guest Dress

One would think that if the whole month passes without a post, there is not much going on about sewing in my life, but it is quite the opposite! Actually the reason for not posting is that I was frantically working on two dresses simultaneously and just as I got them finished with, went off for a great long weekend in Copenhagen.

So the first dress that nearly made me give it up, is for my friend and colleague Kadi. She had a wedding to attend close to Stuttgart, Germany the same weekend as I had a wonderful concert to attend in Copenhagen. More about that in the next post, related to my own dress.

Two events, two girls, of course two dresses needed!

I started off with hers as I surely did not want to mess it up and not be able to deliver on time. And oh boy, that was a good decision as the dress caused me lots of trouble.

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I have to apologize for the quality of the photos, but as winter approaches Estonia as well as Germany, it is extremely difficult to get good light conditions for photographing, so the photos in this post are not so clear.

The pattern we chose for her together is Simplicity 2442, view B:

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Although Kadi´s measurements seemed to fit size 40, I decided to cut 38. I am afraid some of the problems I faced with the dress occurred because of this too, but then again I feel that with the bigger size I would have had just different issues. For example, the shoulder yokes seem to fit her fine, but would definitely have been too large in size 40. But where things got tough was the gathered waistband. I ended up making two, one in size 38 (too small!) and the other one in 40 (also nearly too small!!). Thankfully we could eventually use the smaller one to make her a small purse to match the dress.

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The fabric is polyester taffeta, also chosen together. I am not a big fan of red, but this shade fits Kadi very well and has somewhat of a grace that fit the occasion perfectly.

Here she is with her charming boyfriend and the beautiful bride:

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The whole process gave us the opportunity of quite a few tea drinking and sewing evenings together. Everything went faster when Kadi was around, as I could try the dress on anytime I needed and also felt more pressure to stay focused rather than get lazy.

The bodice is lined and I used bias tape (if I remember correctly,nearly 10 meters!) for the seam allowances of the skirt. The hemline is hand stitched.

Here are a few photos with the dress on the hanger:

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The most peculiar thing was that although I had taken the measurements with her wearing the bra she wanted to wear with the dress,  the neckline just did not fit her at all! So one day, in despair, I took the bodice to work to try it on again after some alterations and she told me she was wearing a different bra that day. We tried the dress anyway and whoa! it fit her perfectly! So the trick was to change the bra 😀 Oh well, I am not anything close to a professional seamstress, I guess a professional would have worked her way around any bra.

But eventually I finished the task just four days short of Kadi´s trip and she is happy with the result, so all is good!

The Tribal Print Skirt

Hey everyone!

It has been quite a long time since my last post, but I am telling you, summer in this tiny town I live in, Haapsalu, is full of life and it is really hard to find time for sewing lately!

Nevertheless, there are a few projects on the finishing line and the tribal print skirt has been finished for at least two weeks already, just never found time to take the photos.

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The fabric is stretch polyester sateen, one of the fabrics I got from my trip to Austria in May.  Of course when I saw the fabric, I wanted to make a dress again, but firstly because it was quite expensive and secondly because I have too many dresses already, I allowed myself to get only 70 cm of it. It was exactly enough to use it for Burda April 2013 model 117b skirt.

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I cut Burda size 38 which fits just fine. I omitted the vent in the back, because my skirt is wide enough to allow comfortable walking. Another thing I changed was the width of the waistband, the one according to the pattern was way too narrow to my taste (2 cm), so I made a new one, which is 3.5 cm wide. I also added a hook and eye to the waistband as the zipper was inserted only up to the waistband.

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The skirt is obviously very easy to sew and it has a nice fit. The seam allowances are finished with bias tape. (Yes, I am wearing a matching nail polish! :))

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The shoes are also bought from Austria, must be somewhat of a private label by Humanic.

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Last weekend I had a wonderful time, as my good friends came to visit me and also helped me take the photos. Here is to summer and friendship!

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The Jewel Dress

I am so glad that I can FINALLY show you something that isn´t from Out Of The Closet series again! It is the first finished object since I started working in Estonia and the available time and energy for my hobby diminished remarkably.

As I have mentioned before, I wanted to finish the dress for the Christmas party with the colleagues and I managed right on time. The photos were taken during the party and after some prolonged sitting at the table, so forgive me the slightly wrinkled look of the dress.

Burda 11-2008-135

The pattern is rather old – Burda 11/2008 issue, model 135, but I think it is kind of an evergreen style. There is a really nice version of the dress here. This is what actually made me fall in love with the pattern in the first place, the black Burda version is not really inspiring.

Burda 11 2008 dress 135 black

Burda 11-2008-135 dress

During my long holiday in Estonia in summer, I borrowed a bunch of Burdas from the local library and traced quite a lot of patterns (because I never thought that just a couple of months later I would make such a huge step of moving here for a longer period). This is one of them.

Burda 11-2008-135

Burda 11-2008-135

Burda 11-2008-135

The pattern is easy to sew and the only more complicated part is the front pleating and maybe the shoulder seams, since the upper part of the dress is lined.

The material, slightly stretchy cotton sateen, is probably my favorite fabric to sew with. I got the fabric among some others just before leaving Athens and it was bought having this pattern in mind already.

I didnt make any major alterations to the dress, apart from having to take in at the shoulder seams, in order to bring the whole thing up a bit. It is a bit of a nuisance as anyone who has sewn similar shoulder seams knows, but I chewed myself through and thankfully this fixed the problem.

I also had to take in slightly at the side seams, which was somewhat of a surprise. I didn´t use double needle for hemming although this is what the pattern calls for. Instead, I folded the hem over and hand stitched it so that the stitches are not visible on the outside. I thought it would look nicer but actually the fold still shows so I don´t think I gained much from all the hand sewing. If I made the dress again, I would probably go for the double needle.

Burda 11-2008-135 dress

Burda 11-2008-135

Due to the lighting conditions when taking the close-ups, my skin resembles remarkably to a very famous lady 😀 :

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The seam allowances were finished off with bias tape. I actually like that the tape is not in an identical shade with the fabric. The lining (or should I call it facing?) is attached at the side seams and front by a few hand stitches.

Burda 11-2008-135 dress

The photos were taken by my sweet colleague Merle:

Burda 11-2008-135 dress

Burda 11-2008-135 dress

The shoes I am wearing are Bourne Christy. Probably my favourite party shoes, they are not too high and they always catch a lot of positive attention.

Bourne Christy peacock shade

The Christmas party was fun as well, I danced quite a lot which is good, since I can´t remember the last time I did so!

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To my great surprise, I noticed that I made this last dress of the year in The Color Of The Year 2013, according to Pantone  (“known worldwide as the standard language for color communication from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer” as they say on their website) – emerald.

Pantone Emerald 2013

Anyone who is more interested in the topic, can also check out their fashion color report for spring 2013, that includes more shades in addition to the emerald.

Stefania´s Dress

Yesterday was a big day! Stefania came over to get her dress, that has actually been finished for some time now, we just didn´t have the chance to meet.

As during the whole process she tried it on only twice, you can imagine how my hands were shaking when she slipped into it and I pulled the zipper to close it. I was even afraid to look over her shoulder to the mirror and was ready for her to say “Eemmm, I want it tighter here” or “Why is it like this here?”, but…. it was perfect. As I mentioned before starting the dress, I wanted to use a waist stay to make it absolutely secure and comfortable for her, but apparently I miraculously managed to make it exactly tight enough for no need for a waist stay. I actually had added it and just wanted to add the hooks as the last step, but in the end I ripped the waist stay out, there was simply no need for it.

I must admit I got goosebumps when I saw her twirling in her dress, fitting her just right. Honestly, I am proud! It was the first time for me to make a strapless bodice, the first time to use boning and the first time making someone else a garment that requires such a precise fit. Another stress factor was that the dress will be worn for Stefania’s sister’s wedding in December, making it even more important to look nice on her.

I must disappoint you though, because my friend refused to have any of the photos we took yesterday uploaded here, as she was on her way to work, wearing very little make up and having her hair casually loose. I was too happy for the fit of her dress, so I agreed to wait until she sends me some photos of her in the dress that she wouldn’t mind sharing with you. In the meanwhile, I cannot even show it on the dressmaking dummy, because as it appears, Stefania is still a tad smaller than the smallest setting of my dummy, and the dress just wouldn’t go over the shoulders of the dummy. I am trying to tell myself that patience is a virtue, but I am not very good at it.

This is an earlier photo of the dress, while it didn’t have the zipper attached yet and thus no problem to show it on the dummy:

Notice that it doesn’t have the belt detail yet.

So, as already said, the pattern I used is Simplicity 4070, view C:

The pattern was relatively easy to work with, but as I understand, it requires sewing the bodice and skirt together, treating the lining and fabric layers as one, which would not look very nice on the inside. So what I did differently, was that I sewed the fabric skirt to fabric bodice and the lining skirt to the lining bodice, so basically it looks like a dress you could wear inside out as well. I then sewed the zipper only to the fabric layer and folded the lining layer away very close to the zipper and hand stitched it into place.

For the boning I used rigilene boning and I sewed it onto the seam allowances of the lining with a wide zig-zag stitch. The pattern requires for plastic or metal wire boning to be sewn into cases, but I think the rigilene worked just fine with less fuss. According to some instructions I found online, I melted the sharp ends of each strip with a lighter, so they became smooth and would not cause any discomfort by poking through the fabric against the skin. On the bust, I cut the strips short enough to end right under the bust, not run over it. Since the seams are curved over the bust, I didn’t see a way to sew the boning on such seams.

I cut size 8 according to the size chart and Stefania’s measurements, but there must be too much ease in the pattern, because I had to take in quite a lot on the bodice, maybe a size smaller would have worked better (I am still waiting for a sewing disaster to happen to force me to consider making a muslin).

A few photos here of the finished dress lying flat on my sofa:

The inside of the dress

I didn’t realize the quality of the last two photos was so bad until I opened them in my computer but then it was too late. I am keeping my fingers crossed to get some decent pics from Stefania soon!

The belt detail of the dress is sewn into the zipper seam and then just attached with a few hand stitches at every seam of the bodice. When worn, it fits snugly around the waist, not loose as it looks when not worn.

I got a lot of self assurance with this project and celebrated the success with…. fabric shopping and a glass of cool rosé wine with a friend from the Estonian Embassy in Athens 🙂

My New Friend

When I got home today, someone I had been expecting for a week already, had arrived. She was patiently waiting by the stairs and I was very happy to find her there. My dressmaker´s dummy!

I had wanted it for a long time, but three things had to happen in order to finally go for it – Stefania wanted me to make her a dress for her sister´s wedding, I had my birthday and thirdly, amazon.co.uk finally had one dummy that they were selling themselves, not via third parties.

Let me explain.

Stefania lives quite far from me and doesn´t have the time to get over here for a zillion dress trials, and I myself am too inexperienced in making clothes for others, so I felt I needed a “body” in her measurements to feel more assured during the process. Secondly, it is sort of a tradition for my parents not to give presents, but make a bank transfer on birthdays, so I can decide on my own. Thirdly, I had been looking around for a dummy for some time, but at the local haberdashery stores here, they are quite expensive. The cheapest I have seen was 169 EUR!

As you must have understood by now, I am a devoted Amazon customer, having bought nearly everything from ceiling lamps to underwear from them over the past few years. They also sell a variety of dressforms, but always via third party, who either don´t want to send such a thing to Greece or charge too much. Amazon itself doesn´t charge any shipping fee to Greece when one spends at least 25 pounds so you can imagine how delighted I was to see that they finally sell ONE dummy on their own.

They hadn´t added the measurements of the dummy to the product description so I spent one day waiting for them to go and get the information  and get back to me. I knew that this model comes in two sizes, S and M and was praying that they would have stocked the S. Which they had!

So it took 70 euros (!!!) and a week of waiting for the dummy to get to my door. Perfect! It is even more satisfying that the price has increased and not decreased during this time, so I am really enjoying myself right now 🙂

So seems the dummy (I think I should actually give it/her a name), standing there and wearing one of my dresses already:

And without the dress:

I know that it is not the best out there, but I guess it is still better than not having it at all. The downside is that it is made of hard plastic covered with thin fabric, so that I cannot push any pins into it, just through the fabric layer. Secondly, it could be adjustable at the waist as well. Right now the waist changes according to the chest and hip adjustments. For my body this works fine, but if I would want to make a dress for someone with a very straight body, it would be difficult to adjust the dummy very accurately.

So far so good, we´ll see if and how much help I am going to get from this sewing buddy!

PS If anyone is interested, then the dress the dummy is wearing is Simplicity (Cynthia Rowley) 2215. I haven´t had a moment to write about it yet.

Birthday Girl

Today is my birthday!

Yesterday I met my friend Stefania in order to go fabric shopping. She wants me to make her a dress for her sisters wedding!  This is so important that I get anxious when I think about it and I have given her many warnings and no guarantees, because I am not a professional seamstress after all, everything I know has been self-taught and the pattern she chose is also not the easiest one can imagine. But I am keeping my fingers crossed and take it as a challenge.

Choosing the pattern and the fabric was fun. We did the first already in winter, because the wedding was supposed to take place last winter, but due to a sad loss in the groom´s family, it was postponed. Stefania described me her idea of the dress, I showed her my pattern stash and some patterns online, so in the end we ordered the pattern for her. It is Simplicity 4070:

She opted for the blue version, view C. The dress should not be too difficult, some pleating, some gathering of the hem and some seams for the bodice, but what makes me nervous, is the boning. I have never done it before and I don´t know how it will end up. I am thinking maybe to add a waist stay, which is another new technique to me, so I am excited to see how I will manage. Thankfully, the wedding will be around Christmas, so even if I mess up, there should be enough time to make a new dress or find a RTW.

The fabric we chose is the same quality as my “Wedding Dress”, but in royal blue and we also found a matching lining (on the left):

As Stefania wanted to get me something for my birthday as well, I told her that I would be very happy with a piece of fabric, and we got this thin knit in dark teal:

I am planning to make a dress from my “Drape Drape” book, joining two of my birthday presents into one project that way.

And I am not done with the presents yet – my dear Liise from Spain sent me five different shades of nail polish plus a nail file for my birthday! The best part is that there is a matching shade for the dress I am planning! See for yourself:

I told my fiance that the only thing missing from a perfect set now, is a pair of shoes 😉  He was not too thrilled as we really are running out of space in our house and my shoeboxes have a lot to do with it. However, I have these cute Tamaris booties (actually a gift (!!) from my mother from last winter) and I guess they would do:

Living in Estonia, I never thought I´d say that, but now, living in Greece, I am looking forward for some cooler temperatures to kick in so that I could wear all those knits and jerseys and booties!

And although it is my birthday, I am off to make the last stitches on my Burda colourblock dress now!

What Are You Doing Tonight?

I am drooling over my early birthday present from my fiance’ s brother, D. We were shopping for the christening we have all been invited for tomorrow and as he wanted to take a look around the bookstore to get a break from all the baby stuff, I also wandered around between the shelves.

I never expected to find this book from a bookstore in Athens, but there it was:

Drape Drape by Hisako Sato

As my birthday is next week and D. usually gets me a present and as we usually choose it together, I made it a lot easier for both of us this time and the book was mine!

As it seems, I might get into a lot of trouble, showing any photos of the content of the book here, so anyone who wants to take a peek into the book, can do it here. Unfortunately the two designs that I like the most, are not featured on Amazon Look Inside, so you must be patient and wait until I finally make them up.

Not all the designs are things I would wear, but the way the patterns are designed is very interesting and I am waiting forward to give them a try!

But besides the drooling, I have made great progress with the Burda colourblock dress I mentioned in my previous post.

The other day I went downtown and to my great surprise, the local shops had all stocked up on loads of doubleknit jersey  in a variety of colours, so I managed to find the exact matching weight of fabric in right colours to use with the lime-green-yellow piece I got from Estonia.

And by tonight, the pattern has been traced and all the pieces cut! If you are wandering about the heat in my kitchen, then yes, it is quite warm in there, but with the weather showing some faint signs of (Greek) autumn and me probably being more or less acclimated now, I am able to work there. And I guess I have a fair amount of will power mixed with stubbornness in me 🙂

The Simple Things

My friend Mariliis really likes this song by Joe Cocker and it is true – the simple things are the best and we cannot do without them. So is with this dress of hers that we sewed together in the beginning of the summer.

She had found a beautiful fabric and wanted a simple dress out of it. Because it has been some time since she made anything, we worked on this project together just to get the feeling back. And I could feel some of the rare selflessness of a hobby sewist 🙂

As she described the dress she wanted to make, I remembered having seen the same style on Erica B.´s blog, from where I found the link to the tutorial by Mimi G. The dress is simple enough, but it doesn´t hurt having some help with the measurements for example.

It took us a few hours and the result is here:

The dress has two elastic bands to gather the fabric at the bust and waist and Mariliis created an interesting look by gathering more fabric one one side and adding a beautiful brooch to emphasize the effect. Simple!

Laura´s Dress

I don´t know what it is with the hobby sewists, but most of them seem to be selfish folks. Me included. Which means that we only like to sew for ourselves and doing it for others is not even half the pleasure, as Elaine, probably my favourite sewing-blogger so beautifully explains throughout her whole blog, The Selfish Seamstress. Seriously, her writing is so funny and her creations so to-die-for, that I would recommend reading her blog even if you are not that much into sewing.

Every rule has exceptions and so making the following dress for my former classmate Laura, was actually pure pleasure. I guess the fact that she kept me company, brought a nice cake plus a bottle of wine and is generally a nice person, helped.

And anyway, it was a great day – while I was stitching-drinking coffee-eating cake-chatting with Laura and Mariliis (another good friend of mine from school) we also watched the Olympics, namely the men´s parallel bars final, where we were not cheering so much for the athletes, but for my fiance Manolis, who was occasionally visible as well, as he was accompanying the Greek gymnast Vasileios Tsolakidis (who unfortunately was not as successful as he could have been). And the fun day was finished off with a bronze medal for Estonian discus thrower Gerd Kanter, adding to the pleasure of the silver the Estonian heavyweight Heiki Nabi got a day earlier in Greco-Roman wrestling!

Ok,  back to the dress now. It took me some effort to find the pattern online, since it is from Burda 2006-5 issue and clearly this is already so long ago that burdastyle.ru, not to mention burdastyle.de and burdastyle.com, have forgottten all about it. On burdastyle.ru I could only see a few random issues from 2006 and that´s it!

So I dug deeper and finally got what I wanted on osinka.ru, which must be known to most sewists, because one really doesn´t need to know Russian to navigate on the site (I am a living proof!) and get to the archive of Burda and a few other sewing and crafts magazines, starting from 2001!

Here is the pattern, Burda 2006-5 models 121/122:

I traced the pattern in the beginning of the summer, thinking it would also work great for colourblocking. But then Mariliis, who occasionally also makes a dress or two, used this pattern for a simple dress, similar to McCalls 6559:

It worked great for her and then Laura got all inspired and then all I got to do was steal the idea and make a dress for Laura. I can see myself end up making one for me as well, since it is super easy and flattering.

Mariliis´s version can be seen here (isn´t the fabric amazing?), maybe one day she will agree to model it properly for my blog as well 🙂 This photo is taken during our recent trip to Hiiumaa, the second largest island of Estonia, at a beach that was all ours that day:

I just used the pieces from the back side of the Burda dress, pinned them on the fabric more or less as one, cut and sewed. I had to take in quite a lot on the side seams, approximately 5 cm altogether, but I guess it was because of the elastic fabric and the unorthodox way of using the pattern. The armholes and neckline are bias-taped. Here you can see Laura in her new dress:

Some fabric close-ups:

The fabric is some kind of mixed lycra, very elastic. At the same time it feels really nice on skin (yes, I tried the dress on as well) and looks especially nice on tanned skin. I hope Laura will get a good wear out of it and that she will enjoy her new dress!