Butterick 6292
 

I mentioned in my last post how limited my sewing time is now that I’m going to grad school part-time.  To illustrate how slow I am: I started planning this jacket at the end of August, bought the fabric in September, started sewing in October, and didn’t finish until November.  Part of that is, like I mentioned, because of starting school, but the other part is that I needed to redraft the sleeves.  You see, this is a complete knock-off of the jacket featured on the cover of Thread’s November 2016 magazine!

 

The fabric I used is exactly what was stated in the article – a double-face cotton serge twill from Mood Fabrics.  I searched the site and ordered a swatch – it’s such a nice weight, perfect for a fall jacket, and has nice stretch and recovery.  It does wrinkle a bit as you wear it, especially in the sleeves, but that’s what happens when we wear cotton I guess!

Butterick 6292
The original sleeve of Butterick 6292 is a single seam set-in sleeve.  In the Thread’s article, they show you how to re-draft the sleeve into a two-piece sleeve in order to make a Detroit cuff, an adjustable cuff finish used on workwear such as Carhartt jackets.  It’s a pretty looking design element on this jacket that has a functional purpose – the cuff can be rolled up when it’s nice out, or buttoned closed when its breezy outside.  Hard to see in the photo below, but there’s two buttons on the cuff that can adjust how tight to close the cuff.

Butterick 6292
 

The pattern itself was pretty straightforward, but redrafting the sleeve and adding the cuff made the pattern a little more challenging.  My stitching isn’t perfect and I ended up getting a small tuck when I attached the cuff, maybe I was off with some of my drafting.  And oh boy, the top stitching on this!  Definitely something I need to work on and take my time doing.

I also had a bit of  hard time with the button placement.  When I tissue-fit the jacket, I thought it was going to fit just right (my standard grading out of a size 10 to a size 12 from waist to hips).  Once I sewed it together, I realized it was too big and needed to take it in.  Then, when I marked the button hole placement, the fit was still off.  So, I improvised with the button placement and made it work with how I wanted the jacket to fit overall.  I also wasn’t that crazy about the buttons I used, they’re pretty boring and not as fun and fancy as the buttons on the original jacket.  The selection at my local Joann Fabrics is so limiting!  Maybe I’ll order some buttons online from Pacific Trimming and swap them out for these boring black ones.

Butterick 6292
 

I used a new-to-me interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply – I read so many good things about their interfacing from other sewing bloggers, and since I couldn’t find any more of my Touch of Gold interfacing that I love, I ordered some medium weight fusible.  I didn’t completely read the instructions though, and the bond of the interfacing to the jacket isn’t 100% as you can kind of see in the photos above.  Oh well!  Definitely a user-error, I used it correctly for another upcoming project and it looks much better.

Butterick 6292
 

Jackets and coats are so much more fun when there’s a surprise “pop” with the inside lining!  I just love this floral poly fabric from Mood.

Would I make this pattern again?  Maybe in a wool tweed, but I have so many other jacket and coat patterns on the brain I want to sew.  This project was an example of how you can take an easy pattern and make it more challenging by customizing different design elements.  My red jacket is now tucked away in the closet until next year because winter is here and there’s snow on the ground!

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Wrap Dress SBA

Up until a few months ago, I couldn’t wear anything with a wrap, or surplice, neckline.  Being of the small-busted variety (and damn proud I might add!), wrap dresses and tops would always sag or dramatically gape open, exposing my bra (eeek!), due to the length of the wrap being too long.  After searching all over the internet to find ways on how to make a wrap neckline fit and having no luck with the results, I pretty much gave up on ever being able to make or wear a wrap dress or top.

Then, I put together techniques I found from two sewing resources and hit the wrap-dress-jackpot: Power Sewing by Sandra Betzina, and Threads #168 September 2013.  Both cover different ways to alter wrap necklines, but combining elements from both articles gave me the winning combination for my first wrap dress I ever made at the end of last year – I highly recommend checking out both for more information on wrap dress fitting techniques.


DVF Wrap 1

There’s some good info out there on how to do a full-bust adjustment for wrap necklines – if you’re looking for a great post on how to make this alteration, Ann from Gorgeous Fabrics wrote an informative tutorial on how to do a FBA for a wrap dress for the McCall’s sewalong recently.

SBA Bodice Pattern Alterations

Before cutting out your fashion fabric that you plan on using for your final dress, use a knit fabric with comparable stretch/weight as your final fabric for a test bodice.  I also recommend trying out all of the below steps on a test bodice to make sure you get the fit you want before committing to using these techniques on your final wrap dress.


bodice diagram


Original diagram from Sofilajantes


If you’re small-busted like me, and have tried on a wrap dress in a store, you’ve probably noticed that the length of the wrap is too long, since we don’t need as much fabric to cover our bust line.  To solve, that, we’re going to take some length out of the neckline above and below the bust point by pinching out extra length above and below the bust point.  This will vary from person to person, as well as pattern to pattern, so make up a test bodice to try on and play around with.  For me, I ended up needing to take out 1″ of length total: 1/2″ above the bust point and 1/2″ below, illustrated above.  If you need to take out more length, try to evenly distribute a series of small tucks above and below the bust point.

As a personal preference, for more coverage, I also raised the neckline.  At the waist I added 1″ to the neckline, and blended it out to about a 1/2″ at the neck.  This also affected the shoulder seam, which needed to be extended 1/2″.


SBA 1

Here’s what  the pattern piece looks like after my alterations – the tucks are circled in yellow.  I taped the tucks in place with scotch tape, and the tucks gradually tapered out from the tuck point.  The white paper is the new drafted neckline.


SBA 2

Here’s another angle so you can see the tucks in the tissue a little better.  The bottom tuck, on the left-hand side above, was tricky for me since it intersected with the grainline.  So, I tried to keep the grainline as straight as I could while smoothing out the tissue from the tuck point.

Fixing the Wrap Gap

With the pattern alterations done, now we can move on to solving that annoying gaping problem and create a bodice that stays snug and close to the body.  If you don’t have that problem with your pattern, then great!  You’re ready to get sewing!  If not, try out this method using 1/4″ twill tape – I like it better than using clear elastic for stabilizing a wrap neckline.


SBA 3

Using a tape measure or your preferred way of measuring (flexible rulers are great for this), measure the length of the neck for the front bodice piece and the neckline of the back bodice piece.


SBA 4

Using those measurements, cut one piece of 1/4″ twill tape that corresponds with the back neckline measurement, and two pieces of twill tape that correspond with the front neckline measurement – one for each side of the wrap.  In Power Sewing, it’s recommended that if you have a B cup to cut the front strips 14/” shorter than the neckline measurement to draw in the neckline better.  If you’re an A-lady like myself, cut the pieces out as the neckline measures.


SBA 5

Bodice wrong side up, pin the twill tape with the edge of the tape 1/4″ away from the edge of the neckline.  Using a straight stitch, sew the tape to the neckline.  The feed dogs will ease in the bodice as you go, but I find stretching ever so slightly on the twill tape helps with this step.  Repeat for the other side of the front neckline and the back neckline as well.


SBA 6

This is what one side of my front neckline looks like after stitching the twill tape.  Gently press out any puckers with a cool iron.


SBA 7

As a personal preference, I serged the neckline edges for a clean finish after stitching all of the twill tape.  When you’re at the part during dress construction where you’re ready to hem the neckline, simply turn in the neckline 5/8″ and stitch in place.

*You may have noticed in the above photos in the tutorial that the wrong side of my garment fabric looks different than the right side.  Since my knit garment fabric is so sheer, I underlined the bodice with nude-colored swim tricot, so my bra won’t show through.  I like the body the underlining gives the fabric as well!

There you have it – I’m now on wrap-dress #4 (and have yet to post #2-3!) using this method, and each time I’m thrilled with how the neckline turns out.  If you’re small-busted like myself and have yet to successfully make a wrap dress because of how the neckline fits, I hope this opens up a world of wardrobe opportunities to you.  Let me know!

Now, to finish making my dress for the sewalong…

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gertie slip 2

Pattern: Butterick 6031, view A
Fabric: slip-making kit purchased last year from Gertie (stretch jersey and lace trims included)
Size: 10 graded to a 12, A/B cup pattern piece

My progress on my Yona coat stalled this weekend due to a) making a big, stupid sewing mistake with the collar and running out of thread, and b) waiting for my flannel to arrive from Fabrics.com, the shipping has been soooooo slow.  So, I took it as an opportunity to whip up a quick project from Gertie’s slip sewalong kit that’s been lingering in my stash since last year.


gertie slip 1

Isn’t it pretty??  I just love how girly and feminine this slip is with the lace trims, light pastel color, and cute little bow.  This was a super-fast project that I whipped up in a few hours Saturday afternoon, and wore out to dinner that night underneath my dress for extra warmth.


gertie slip 5

I followed along with the sewalong posts on Gertie’s site, which were really helpful in guiding me on what size zig-zag stitch to use on my machine for attaching the different lace trims and sewing together the seams.  This is my first foray into lingerie sewing, and I’m not completely certain if it’s for me.  Sure, it’s pretty easy to whip up a cute bra or panties in no time, but when making this slip, I wasn’t a fan of the fiddly nature of stretch lace and flimsy, slippery fabrics.  It’s a different type of fussiness I guess I’m not used to.

The fit is spot-on with the pattern, the cups fit perfectly (which I wasn’t sure about, since it’s a combo A/B pattern piece) and I did my standard grading of taking the pattern from a size 10 at the waist out to a 12.  This gal is fitted, which is perfect for wearing under clothes – you don’t want anything too loose adding extra bulk and making it difficult for clothes to fit!


gertie slip 3

This fabric is a dream and feels absolutely soft and lovely!  It’s a stretch micro jersey that Gertie sourced for the slip kits (which I don’t believe are available anymore), I’d love to get my hands on some more.  Luckily, there was fabric leftover after I cut the slip out, so I have a pair of undies cut out to make and I can probably squeeze a cami out as well…I’ll just need to get some stretch lace trim.


gertie slip 4

However, I wasn’t a fan of using stretch lace for the straps, they seem really flimsy and not sturdy enough to function properly.  I think in the long run these straps won’t hold up to wear and tear, so I’m going to replace them with bra strapping I picked up at Fabric Place Basement.  That would be my only suggestion to anyone looking to make this – find real strap material, because stretch lace aint gonna cut it.

Have you tried sewing underpinnings?  The new issue of Seamwork has some great information on fabrics and sewing techniques for lingerie, and a cute bra and undie set that I think I want to try!

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DVF Wrap 1

Pattern: Butterick 5454, view B
Fabric: ITY knit from Fabric Place Basement

Watch: Michael Kors
Boots: Bandolino
Lipstick: Nars Funny Face (my fave color!)

I wanted to call this post “flat girls can wear wrap dresses, too!” because yes, with a few alterations, it’s possible to get a wrap dress that fits and doesn’t gape open.  Originally, I attempted to make a version of this dress back in 2012 with no success and a lot of gaping – I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to fix yet another dress that was too big in the bust for me.  I wrote off wrap dresses as one of those cute dresses that only girls with a chest could wear and would never grace my closet.  However, after getting sucked into a marathon of “House of DVF” reruns and seeing all of the beautiful wrap dresses gracing the contestants, the idea of making a wrap dress consumed my sewing thoughts
and I needed to conquer my fitting challenges.


DVF Wrap 2

Ladies of the small-busted variety, here’s our fitting challenge when it comes to wrap dresses: the surplice length of the wrap is usually too long.  We don’t need a lot of fabric to cross over and cover our chest, which leads to the excess neckline length and extra fabric drooping near the tie.  Sure, we can try and tie the dress tighter, but we still don’t get the secure fit of a neckline laying close to the body, or we have to wear a cami underneath the dress for modesty.

Threads Magazine #168 from September 2013 is a great resource for fitting wrap dresses and really helped me get the fit of my dress correct.  Here’s what you do: on your pattern, make a small tuck along the neckline above the bust, and another small tuck below the bust – I made two 1/2″ tucks for a total length reduction of 1″.  That’s it – excess length is reduced.  For more modesty, I also gradually raised the neckline 1/2″ to ensure better coverage and that this dress would be work-appropriate. 


DVF Wrap 4

Bias can be tricky to work with, but when you have bias with a knit fabric, watch out – chaos can quickly happen if that sucker isn’t stabilized asap.  To get a stable neckline, I used a technique from Sandra Betzina’s Power Sewing book – 1/4″ twill tape.  I measured the neckline length on my altered pattern piece and cut two pieces of twill tape that exact length for each side of the neckline, plus one for the back neck (note: she recommends different lengths depending on your bust size).  Then, with the knit fabric against the feed-dogs of the machine and the twill tape on top, I eased the neckline onto the length of the twill tape on the wrong side of the bodice front.  I was pleased as punch when I tried the dress on, wrapped the neckline, and had zero gape.  I feel like I achieved the impossible!

The other part about this pattern I liked, versus other wrap dress patterns that are out there, is the fact that there are no pleats underneath the bust near the ties like with Vogue 8379 or Vogue 8784.  With pleats comes extra volume and fabric, and I’m not sure how easy it would be to get that design element to fit on a small bust and not cause gaping.


DVF Wrap 3

The skirt on this dress has a slight flare, but is more of a straight skirt style than an A-line skirt seen on some other wrap dresses.  There’s some pleats in the skirt in the front and the back, which I didn’t mind since you don’t see them with the pattern of the fabric.  Now that I got the bodice to fit, I want to try to match different wrap skirt styles to get different looking dresses – maybe even turn the pleats in the skirt and bodice into gathers?


DVF Wrap 5

There’s a whole world of dress options open now, this is just the beginning of wrap dress sewing!  I immediately earmarked some jersey fabric that’s been in my stash for a while as new wrap dress projects, and I cut out a turquoise merino wool knit fabric the other night for a winter-ized version.  Wrap dresses are like secret PJs: polished looking, but so comfy and easy to wear.

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color blocking

From left to right: Nanette Lepore, Milly, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Carolina Herrera

In case you haven’t noticed, color blocking is everywhere!  I thought that this was a trend that had gone away, but apparently I was wrong when I cracked open my spring fashion magazines (or when I said to one of my coworkers that “color blocking was so last season” and she pointed to the new pairs of color blocked shoes that we got in the store.  Oi.)  This trend was surprisingly easy to find patterns for from every major pattern company.  McCall’s new spring line even included a few patterns that allowed for color blocking variations.

So how do you wear this loud, bold trend and not look like Rainbow Brite?  Keep the maximum number of colors to three.  Based on the runway pictures above, it seems the easiest color combinations are with a white or black added in to the mix.  Or, keep the colors in the family – try mixing different shades of blues together to get a monochromatic but still color blocked look.  Depending on the pattern shapes, this can also be a figure flattering trend utilizing the technique of “trompe l’oeil” – some of the dresses and skirts below have a slenderizing look to them.  Below is a compilation of patterns that you can use at home to try out one of the easiest spring fashion trends.

Dresses:

Skirts:
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