Happy 2013!

Happy New Year everyone!

I know I am kind of late with this, but I have a bunch of good reasons for it and nevertheless, I truly hope the new year will be better than the one that passed!

Whoever has followed this blog for a while probably can guess that I personally had a rough year and that part of it is quite closely related to the suffocating crisis in Europe which is affecting almost everyone, so let’s hope the new year will bring some relief to all of us.

When I  look back at the year sewing-wise, it definitely was a productive one and I took my hobby to a new level by starting this blog, getting more active in burdastyle.com sewing community, finally buying a dressmaker’s mannequin (plus a couple of books) and learning a lot with each project. I am especially proud of learning to sew a professional looking front fly and Rigilene-boned bodice. Also, I made a few garments to other people, which is totally new to me, but has given me lots of confidence.

Blogging has brought me absolutely unexpectedly loads of positive energy, thanks to the nice comments from readers and also friends in real life. A big thank you to all of you!

I am not very good at keeping strict goals, so I just hope to have enough time to sew in the new year. No new year resolutions!

During the holidays I was two weeks off from work and planned to sew and trace several patterns while visiting my parents. The result was close to zero (so much about the goals!), because I accidentally left some fabrics behind when packing hurriedly in the morning after the Christmas party with colleagues and I only managed to trace a few patterns.

Nevertheless, I had a great time because my fiance from Greece was visiting and we spent 10 wonderful days in my native Tartu and current hometown Haapsalu.

For us in Estonia and other Northern countries it is so usual, but for my fiance it was the first time to see frozen sea, and he couldn’t really believe his ears that in winter, if the cold has lasted for quite some time, we have some official ice roads open so that it is possible to go to some islands by car on ice, instead of taking the boat.

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Now, talking about sewing, I made some little investments.

I ordered several McCall’s patterns, when they were on 0.99$ sale on sewingpatterns.com and one Vogue, plus “Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket” from amazon.co.uk and also wrote to Santa Claus to bring me “‘Home Sewn”‘, a book by New Zealand Fashion Museum. Santa Claus ordered it from Papercut Patterns, taking advantage of their worldwide free shipping offer just before Christmas. Both books have yet to arrive, but it should be any time soon and I am very excited.

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The patterns I ordered:

McCall’s 6460

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McCall’s 6243

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McCall’s 6565

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McCall’s 6321

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McCall’s 6319

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McCall’s 6471

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Vogue 8849, of which I think it is best to show the technical drawings.

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I am not a systematic sewer, so there is a high chance that I will not use some of these new patterns, but at the moment I love them all and hope that eventually I would turn most of them into garments.

Happy sewing in 2013!

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Burda Stretch Pants

I remember the moment when I saw Elaine’s terrific leather-ponte combo pants. My heart stopped a beat and I decided right there that I have to have something at least remotely similar.

Well, deciding to want something is one thing, but it can be a long way to finally wear what you imagined. But I think I managed in the end.

I didn’ t trust my drafting skills enough to do it the way Selfish Seamstress did, so I had to dig around until I could find a pattern that would allow me to make something similar.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, in winter and early spring there was a long pause in my sewing and in pretty much everything due to some serious things going on in my life. I discovered the suitable pattern much later in BurdaStyle March 2012 issue and by that time had to make a special order from France to get the magazines I had missed and which, after a long time, contained some really interesting patterns.

I think the people at Burda haven’ t really made the most of this pattern (model 126, March 2012 issue) for the magazine. The photo below is the reason I always open a fresh BurdaStyle in the middle where the line drawings are.

The pattern is quite similar to the Helmut Lang pants that inspired the Selfish Seamstress. There are no side seams and each leg consists of three pieces (four, if you consider the divided front piece two).

Since I probably wouldn’ t be able to pull off the leather pants look, I decided to make mine in doubleknit, with some fake leather details. The very first plan was to cut only the front leg details of fake leather, but in the end I also cut the side yokes of the same material and I think it was a good idea.

I didn ‘t expect much of the pattern because several sewists haven’ t been exactly happy with the fit and I was sure I would have a problem as well. The pants turned out to be a little wide around the waist and hips (according to the Burda size chart, my hip measurement should be size 40 or even 42 and based on experience I always cut size 38, and these were still wide!), but that was easy to fix.

A much bigger problem was caused by the fact that I must have cut one of the three leg pieces slightly off grain. This resulted in the good old spiraling pants – the seams were twisting around my calf and it was especially obvious due to the design of the pattern.

I knew what was the reason, but still, hoping that there might be an easy way out or that the twisting might be caused by a different mistake (which hopefully would again be easier to fix), sat down and ran a little search online. Well, it had to be the grainline issue, which most probably happened when I cut out the pieces from double-layered fabric and didn’ t notice that the lower layer was slightly off.

It was rather difficult to determine, which of the three leg pieces was responsible for the twist and of course I couldn’t rule out the possibility of having more than one piece off the grain. Finally I tried my luck with the side piece. But as I had ran out of fabric, I had to go and buy some more of it, wash it, cut the relevant piece etc… a lot of trouble, but I didn’ t give up.

I think I hit the spot of the problem, because after changing the side panel, the twist was gone!

The fake leather I used is the same as for my obi-belt, it has a nice fabric backing and it is slightly elastic, which I figured would match the doubleknit well enough.

As said, I cut the size 38, slightly adjusted the hip and waist width and omitted the back welt pockets altogether. I have never made them yet and I didn’ t want to put this project at more risk.

The pants could have a better fit, but generally I am happy with the outcome, they are wearable and fun. Some could say that maybe they are a tad too short, but this is the way I liked them. I tested them with several shoes and this length seemed to be the best in my eyes.

I didn´t want to stitch through the leather while hemming the pants, so I only stitched the fabric part and used fabric glue on the leather which worked perfectly because it is fabric-backed.

Burda Colourblock Dress

In winter and early spring we had a very rough time because of a serious health issue in the family and the general situation in crisis-hit Greece, so I didn´t have the time and energy even to look at Burda Style magazines for a couple of months, and of course when I finally came around, they had suddenly come up with some great patterns in February and March!

I managed to order these issues from Abo Press, France eventually and it seems they will be my favorite Burdas for a long time. It was also nice to get them in English, it is way easier to follow the instructions, because although I read Greek, the Burda instructions are notorious and I can certainly decipher English better than Greek.

One of the patterns that made me go through the whole ordering process was this colourblock dress, Burda February 2012, model 117b:

I also loved Amanda´s version and actually I was pretty sure that I would not copy the Burda colour scheme. But as I was fabric-shopping in Estonia in summer, I saw a suitable jersey in lime and changed my mind.

I made the last stitches on this dress on my birthday. The plan was to show the dress on the blog and then forget about it for some weeks at least, because it is too early for it here in Greece. But surprisingly enough, the chance to wear it came already yesterday!

I had arranged to meet my friend Anastassia, who happened to be in Athens for the weekend (another christening!) at 10 AM for a coffee, and although getting up early in the morning has never been my strong side, it was even more difficult yesterday, because it was raining outside, the air was cool and getting out of my cosy bed seemed not an option. But then it dawned on me that this could be the first chance to wear my new dress and out of the bed I was!

Because of the grey weather, the photos are not the best in terms of colour and clarity, but I hope they will do.

The dress was quite easy to make, apart from some stupid mistakes I made during the process. The mistakes were mainly due to the fabric looking exactly the same on both sides and so I managed to sew up something like a colourful chessboard, before I realized I had joined the wrong backs and fronts. So, it was easy to make but took me longer than it should have.

I omitted the tucks on the shoulders, as I liked the way they were without them and used an invisible zipper instead of the exposed one that the pattern calls for. I like the exposed zipper idea in general, but because I used it on one of my dresses already, I decided against it this time.

Another change that I made was omitting the snap fasteners in front. Since the dress has a zipper on the back, I don’t see a reason for leaving the front open at all. So the final stitches I made, was sewing the front yellow piece onto the beige from the inside, on the outside it still has the overlapping effect. I feel that this way the dress fits much better as well.

I cut size 38 and the fit was perfect, which was a relief, because otherwise it would have been difficult to make the colour blocks run smoothly at the side seams. The hemming was done by hand, so the stitches are not visible on the outside.

I am thrilled with the dress, because it is SO comfortable and I think it can be dressed up and down very easily by changing the footwear. Yesterday I wore it with black/silver leather flats in the morning and since the shoes got soaked, I ended up wearing the dress in the afternoon with wellies (rainboots), to meet another friend! The wellies were a bit extreme I guess, but I hate to have wet feet, so I didn´t really care.

The shoes that can be seen in the photos are Pump & Circumstance Nadine leather flats, very comfortable and although I purchased them last year from Amazon, I have noticed that metallic cap-toe shoes are around a lot recently.  I guess the silver leather toes of my shoes kind of fit the trend as well!

Another idea that still has to wait for colder days to try out, is to wear the dress with black matte tights and these Calvin Klein Karla booties that I absolutely love:

I don´t know why really, but the pewter-silver footwear seems to be the best for this dress, maybe because of the grey skirt-block.

By the way, I am so happy with the outcome, that I already got fabric to make the same dress in another colour combo! But that will have to wait a little, since right now I am working on Stefania´s dress and keeping fingers crossed for a good result!