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It’s been a really long time since anything in BurdaMag has gotten me rabidly tearing the patterns out of the magazine within a day of getting it, until now. I’d been anticipating the March 2012 issue since the first preview went online with this pretty twist-front dress:

This dress is pretty much the same idea as the twist front dress that I had long coveted from Pattern Magic, but had never gotten around to drafting:

And once again, my selfish sloth seemed to be on the verge of paying off- wait around long enough and someone will eventually do the hard part for me. Or so I thought. I was dismayed to discover that Burda 3-2012-108 is the one pattern in the issue drafted for tall women. Argh, tall women! Not only are they able to take full advantage of the top shelf of the kitchen cabinets, but they also get the twist dress pattern that I’ve been lazily waiting for someone to draft for *me*? I punch you in the knees, tall women- in the KNEES!

Determined not to be defeated by Burda’s 72-88 sizing, I graded it down two sizes to what I suppose could be called a size 68 and traced it out. I figured that if I made up the pattern as drafted for tall women, this would potentially result in 1) a lower waist seam than intended, 2) lower armsyces than intended, and 3) lots and lots of extra length. The first issue seemed desirable given my desire to avoid an empire waist (contrary to popular belief, empire waists do not flatter every figure, and Selfish is stubby proof of that), and the second and third issues seemed easily fixable. As you’ll recall, the Selfish Seamstress is almost as short as she is mean, but has a fairly average torso length, so it would really be more like editing a tall torso pattern for a regular torso and not for a petite one. As it turned out, the bodice as drafted hit just slightly above my natural waistline (not too empire-y), and the armscyes were fine as is- no edits necessary! I simply redrafted the hem to an even 25″ from the waist seam (before hemming), and I was off! (Super bonus- if you make it this short, you don’t need to trace out the additional skirt piece that you’re supposed to tape to the bottom of the main front piece to get the full length- you can just skip it entirely. Only four pattern pieces to trace- yay!)

I used a beautiful navy and white zigzag print cotton voile that I got from Metro over the holidays for a $6/yard steal. I fell for it at first sight, and then discovered only afterwards that it is, of course, Milly fabric. This stuff is like a magnet for me- I buy it when I don’t even intend to; I’m inexplicably drawn to it. I must have a Milly-dar. It turns out that this print has shown up in different fabrics, at different scales, and in different colors throughout the Milly line:

And now it’s a favorite in the Selfish line as well. When I saw the Burda 3-2012-108 dress and the way the stripes play around the twist front, I just knew I had to pull out my precious Milly zigzag voile.

I used some cotton silk voile to line the bodice, leftover from my Heidi Merrick-inspired dress. I’ve decided, by the way, that cotton and silk voile is the perfect lightweight lining. It is absolutely weightless and adds no stiffness at all and barely any body, being even softer and floatier than Bemberg rayon. The cotton content makes it relatively easy to handle, but the silk makes it smooth so it doesn’t cling to the outer fabric the way cotton batiste might. I didn’t have enough to do the skirt lining (which in this pattern is made separately from the rest of the dress and then attached at the end) so I need to get more to finish it. In the meantime, please stop trying to peek at my underwear through the zigzag fabric, ok?  Seriously, stop. That’s just weird.

This pattern is fantastic- beautifully drafted and simple. I see myself with a couple more of these for summer. The skirt has just the right amount of flare:

And the best feature of the construction is that the bust of the finished dress is completely adjustable- no futzing with the pattern to get the bust to fit! Because of the way the twist is done, once you put it on, you can just sort of adjust the bodice fit by tugging a little at the looped-through front part of the skirt to get the bodice to lie taut against your torso. (Of course, you do have to make sure that you hem to skirt to an even length all around for *your* body. The more you’ve got up top, the less length you’ll have at the front of the skirt.)

The pattern is rated as a “challenging” 3 out of 4 dots, but I think this is only because the twist construction is unconventional. There’s actually nothing technically difficult about this pattern and an advanced beginner or intermediate sewer could easily put this dress together in a day or two. And this is the one pattern in the issue that has detailed, illustrated instructions (in the German edition at least), so deciphering the usually-cryptic BurdaSpeak isn’t so much of a problem.

So that’s it- short woman makes the Burda tall dress in unintentionally Milly fabric! I get the feeling that this is the dress I’ll be in all summer long. Get on it, petite (and average-height) online sewing world!

Of course, none of this changes the fact that I’m still short.  Well, except for 5″ heels.

If you’ve been thinking that the Selfish Seamstress has been a little scarce in these parts as of late, I would say that’s pretty accurate. Apparently all of the students at my university expect me to “educate” them, my research lab expects me to “mentor” them, and my colleagues expect me to “collaborate” with them. I ask you – do any of these words sound like things that Professor Selfish would actually do?? Grumble. So, things I haven’t had much time for:

  1. Sewing
  2. Reading and commenting on your sewing blogs
  3. Writing on my own sad, stagnating sewing blog

Things I do somehow manage to find time for (other than the aforementioned grudging educating, mentoring, and collaborating):

  1. Buying fabric
  2. Resenting stuff

So now that these appear to be my two main free time hobbies, I am in the fortunate position to be able to combine these two passions through my newest Selfish Seamstress Nemesis: Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics, aka “Gowachuss Nemesis,” “Fab-ri-licious Nemesis,” “Hawt Nemesis.” Ha, that’s right, Ann, I’m turning your own idiosyncratic spellings right back on you!

“Oh, Selfish!” you might protest, “Not Ann!  She’s such a positive, life-affirming soul, and gives such great, friendly customer service! How could you ever make an enemy of Ann?” Don’t let her fool you.  She made an enemy of me first. Let’s face it, the woman’s a pusher, a sneaky temptress.  She reels you in with enticing patterns and colors, and next thing you know, you’re hitting refresh on her “new arrivals” page 20, 30, 40 times a day. You’re looking at it first thing when you wake up and second-to-last thing before you go to bed (last thing, obviously, being saying a little prayer that she doesn’t post anything too amazing while you are asleep that gets all bought up before you wake up.)

Sure, I could treat this like any ordinary nemesis post and go on and on about her gorgeous silk Pippa dress, or her closetful of let-me-show-off-my-couture-sewing-skills Chanel jackets, seething with envy all the while. But I think you’ll get a better feel for just how powerful a foe this woman is if you check out her designer fabric page while simultaneously staring into the face of pure fabric-pushing evil:

That warm, dazzling smile, that chic haircut, that stunning dress … shudder. I have chilling flashbacks of typing in my billing address just looking at her. And even more dangerous – do not underestimate the ways in which Ann can mess with your head and turn you into your own worst enemy just by adding new stuff to her store. She makes me like things I didn’t think I liked (florals??), she makes me want things I didn’t think I wanted (charmeuse??), and lastly she makes me buy things that I don’t need (silk??). No, no, actually, I do need them. Like this forsythia print Milly silk charmeuse that makes one long for spring in the dead of winter. Absolute necessity and haha, sold out, suckas!

She knows what she’s doing too, that crafty, crafty Ann. I thought I had won this one.  I resisted it until it sold out. She got another bolt, and still I resisted, remembering my shame from the last time I binged on her silk supplies. And then, sensing my strength decaying, she delivered her perfectly timed shot – a sale. My resistance crumbled like a week-old cookie, and that was that. Two more yards in my shopping bag. She won. (Sigh, she won again earlier this week with another sale during which I succumbed to two pieces of black stretch leather. She knows she’s the only person on the whole internet who sells stretch leather by the piece, and she wielded that silently over my head like a giant, lethal seam ripper.)

And so, what of it then?  What did this wicked woman drive me to next?  I’ll tell you: Vogue 1236, the DKNY blouson dress.

Given how precious few my sewing hours are these days (I actually finished this a week ago, but didn’t have time to photograph and post), I figured I would opt for something very simple so that I could actually finish it. Vogue 1236 is indeed delightfully simple, but the pleats at the neckline make it far from boring, and very on-trend in the silhouette. It also doesn’t require a precise fit, which made it a lot easier to put together in my few scraps of sewing time. But, like many of the DKNY patterns, it starts at size 8, which meant I had to grade down 2 sizes, and that’s sort of time-consuming.  Plus, my choice of silk charmeuse made everything take three times as long because my clumsy fingers aren’t good at cutting, pinning, and stitching slippery, drapey fabric that changes shape when you so much as look at it. But I managed:

Argh.  I’m showing this one so you can have a better front view of the dress, but only reluctantly because I hate when photos make me look like I have an enormous balloon head, and teeny tiny freaky rubber hands! What is it about photos that make my hands so small??

I ended up using the wrong side of the fabric, because I liked the matte side better, and I thought it might be more appropriate for work, unshiny and tucked under a cardigan. The bonus is that the silky slippery side is against my skin, which feels all kinds of posh.

Other than the grading down, I didn’t make any significant changes.  I did French seams on the sides, and I used a different method of attaching the facing than the one recommended in the instructions. (The method in the instructions leaves little openings that you close with hand stitching, but I opted for my usual version that lets you do the whole thing by machine and in my opinion gives a more consistent finish.) I also omitted the pockets because having them would be a temptation to put stuff in them, which probably isn’t a great idea for a light, floaty, delicate dress.

Here’s a close up on the front pleats, which take on a nice, fluid softness rendered in the charmeuse:

So I guess something good came out of my little losing battle with Selfish Seamstress Nemesis Ann. Sure, she’s going to keep posting irresistible fabrics faster than I can sew them (especially these days) and sure, I’m going to keep buying them faster than I can sew them. But a new dress in an absolutely gowachuss forsythia print silk is still a tiny little victory that I’m going to savor. Take that, Nemesis!

Ok, for those of you who drooled over the amazing Milly plaid fabric I was able to procure from Gorgeous Fabrics, I’d like to point out that a very limited quantity of another amazing Milly silk has just popped up on that great site. I’ve already laid claim to my precious two yards, so I’m graciously going to give you all permission to snap up the rest. That’s right, I’m sharing. (Yuck.) [Update: And 5 and a half hours later, this fabric is gonzo! Better luck next time, my chickadees!]

Oh, so pretty.  And it’s disappearing fast, so make haste! Look what you could make with it:

If you had that dress, wouldn’t you be making the smug “I have this dress and you don’t” face too?

And if you totally want to Single White Female me (Engaged Asian Female?), I picked up some of this silk too:

And again, no, I’m not getting paid to promote the business. It’s just really really good fabric. :)

You’re welcome.

A few months ago, I chanced upon some pictures of the Melissa plaid shirtdress by Milly, and I wanted it. I wanted it the way a toddler wants a gummi bear. I wanted it the way that annoying guy in your office wants the new iPhone and won’t shut up about it. I wanted it the way Dan wants out of the domestic prison in which I have ensnared him (just kidding, Dan’s not allowed to want things.) Basically, I wanted it the way that only the Selfish Seamstress could want something – violently and aggressively.  After all, just look how cute:

So after seeing it, I trolled the web hunting for any plaid fabric with a similar feel and colorway to make my own shirtdress and found nothing. I’m fond of plaid in general, but once I had this particular plaid in mind, every other plaid just looked comparatively dorky. I did have a moment of hope when I discovered Cidell’s plaid silk knit tunic, which was in the right plaid flavor category, and super cute on its own merit. But of course, the fabric was already sold out, which leads me to think that she planned the whole thing to get a rise out of me. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s bested poor Selfish.

So I did what any rational person would do in a state of despair – I threw myself down on the floor and pounded at it with fists and feet, screaming at a high pitch, “I hate you I hate you I hate you” at no one in particular. As usual, it worked.  My efforts were rewarded when a few yards of the exact Milly silk (a plain woven with nice body to it, and minimal sheen and slipperiness – perfect!) appeared magically on Gorgeous Fabrics, almost certainly because of my temper tantrum.* I immediately snapped up three yards of it to make sure that none of you would get to it first, backstabbing vultures that you are.

Next up was finding the right shirtdress pattern.  Given the huge scale of the plaid, I wanted to avoid piecing to the extent possible. None of the current Big 4 patterns, nor anything in my stash of Burdas had quite what I was going for, so it was off to Etsy, where I found a vintage Simplicity 8294:

(This actually isn’t my copy- mine is a size 6P with a *sigh* 30.5″ bust, but I forgot to take a photo of it.) The pattern was missing the sleeve (and it wasn’t really the kind of sleeve I wanted anyway) so I drafted my own. No princess seams or waist seam on this pattern. The only places I had to worry about matching were at the side seams, across the chest and onto the sleeve, and the center front, so my three yards was more than enough. A bit of taking in through the torso and waist and ta-da! Once again, Selfish gets everything she wanted. (Excuse the photos- the light was fading outside and it was freeeeezing.)

I realize that the navy of my shoes is not the same as the navy of my dress, but I still have every intention of wearing the two together.

Hmm.  There seems to be a little wrinkling across the bust near the bottom of the armscye that I didn’t notice during fitting.  I’m going to have to check that out. Also, I think I need to wear the sash a little looser (the way the Milly model is wearing it) so as to give it less of an Urkel-y effect.

The dress isn’t an exact copy of the Milly version, as I made mine a more work-wearable slightly-above-the-knee length, and it’s got a different placket and sleeve. Incidentally, I wasn’t too impressed with the RTW version’s placket stitching (you can learn a lot from the zoomable views on department store websites!):

Fortunately it’s not my problem now that I’ve got my own. By the way, you may be wondering more generally how it is that Selfish always gets exactly what she wants, despite being a person with no redeeming qualities, one who contributes little to the world while simultaneously exploiting it and everything in it for her own purposes. Is there a trick or magical secret, you might ask, to continually evading the karma police while managing to end up with everything one desires and never giving anyone anything?  The answer is yes. Yes, there is. Have a good day, y’all.

*Okay, perhaps I should acknowledge the the amazing Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics for having procured this wonderful fabric, rather than attributing it solely to my impressive and highly effective tantrums. But you know how I am loath to give credit where it is due unless it’s to myself.

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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