You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2010.

Last night was my final dance class for the month.  If you recall, inspired by Amber and her insane fitness workout, I did a one-month self-imposed boot camp of five day per week dancing (four classes per week and then usually one additional dance thing somewhere).  Now that I count it all up, it amounted to about 7-8 hours of dancing per week which in retrospect really isn’t all that much exercise :) Kind of a paltry “boot camp.”

I’m not so good at tracking things, so my final progress report is pretty weak.  I don’t own a scale so I have no idea if I’ve slimmed down. And I haven’t been taking any measurements so no known change there. No noticeable change in overall fitness, shape, strength, or muscle tone either. Aren’t you glad I’m updating you on my progress?  Super satisfying for you! But ooh, I had so much fun. I’m signed up for more classes for August, but not as many because there aren’t many classes offered in August. Here comes a segue into sewing.

There is, however, notable progress on my long-coveted leopard print pencil skirt:

As you can see, the outer is mostly assembled. The only thing I changed from my muslin was to drop the front center waist about a half inch. I tried it on and it’s so comfortable and it fits so nicely that I really don’t want to line it, even though I had planned to in the first place. As I’ve mentioned, lately I’ve been finding skirt linings so annoying when I’m wearing them. My plan now is to do a facing on the waistband (already mostly done) and a Hong Kong-type finish on the seams. Dan asked this morning if I wanted to go to the fabric store this evening (because he’s getting a haircut and it’s right near his haircutting place) so it sounds like a good opportunity to tag along and grab some bias binding. It’s like he can read my evil mind.

The fabric is a dull stretch satin (or possibly a shiny sateen?), left over from the Drama Queen Jacket, which I ultimately did not love:

Update on that not-quite-right garment, however- I mailed it to my mother, along with the Swallowtail Shawl, and she called me up to say she loved it, which is high praise from my mother who is too stylish to wear something simply because her daughter made it. Even crazier, she said my dad loves it. I have never known my father to voice an opinion on any piece of clothing ever. I guess a little leopard print just does something to a person. I’m certainly smitten with it.

If you’re sewing for yourself right now, raise your hands in the air and yell “WOOT!”


Haha, we looked dumb doing that. Whatever, I’m sewing for ME! Not a trace of goodwill towards others in sight, which is just how I like it. And the leopard pencil skirt is underway!

You’ll recall I started with this high-waisted pencil skirt downloaded from Burda:

I muslined this up and as it turns out, high-waisted skirts work much better if you actually have a waist, rather than some undefined mass of flesh between your ribs and your hips which is roughly the same circumference as your waist and hips. So, snippy snippy snip and now here we are:

I dropped the top edge to about an inch below the natural waist, and brought the hem up by about 3 inches. Then I added a 3 inch wide thing at the top- I’m not sure if it qualifies as a yoke, or whether it’s just a really wide waistband. I closed up the darts on the waistband and smoothed it out. The neat benefit of the yoke/waistband thing is it eliminates the darts in the skirt entirely (I’m easing out the tiny remaining darts in the back so as not to have two goofy teensy darts). This is not only nice and clean, but it saves me from having to sew the darts. Don’t get me wrong, I *will* sew darts when a design calls for them, and I’m certainly a capable dart-sewer.  But for some reason (I don’t think it’s just laziness, but maybe?) I just never like sewing darts. I find it weirdly unenjoyable.

Ok. So all that done, I pulled out some crazy stretch cotton sateen with some crazy huge fruit punch-colored roses and whipped up a muslin (it’s not hemmed, no zipper, back vent is just kind of hanging open at the moment):

The fabric is some stuff I got off of eBay a while ago, thinking it was going to look more like a 1950’s classic rose print, but never used because it, um, doesn’t. I get the feeling that a bunch of people are going to exclaim that the love this fabric and I should wear the muslin, and a bunch of people are going to say, “yuck!” I’m not going to get into that debate. Dan seems to be taken with it. Amazingly and coincidentally, through no effort of my own, the print actually ended up blending pretty well at all the seams (look at that side seam, and the yoke seam!), so it *could* conceivably be de-muslin-ified. It just looks so much like fruit punch.

Here’s the front view- the fit is working out great for me, and I think I might be well on my way to a go-to pencil skirt pattern.  The only change I think I’m going to make now is to drop the front center waist a smidge. Otherwise it’s nice and slim but not binding.

Am I imagining things or am I making a vaguely Trena face here?  If so, I think that’s a good thing :) She cute. Does anyone else see it? [UPDATE: OMG! I was so sucked in by staring at my face before that I didn’t notice the really weird thing about this picture. What is going on with my right hand?? Does it look like some weird teeny rubber hand or something? Eww it’s so weird! Why’s it so small and squishy looking?  Creepy.]

Ok, keep your eyes peeled for more skirt!

It’s OVER!!! I sent in the BurdaStyle book coat yesterday after too many late nights of tearful sewing, too many fun outings missed on account of grudging, miserable sewing, too many other things I could have been making and didn’t, and far, FAR too much whining about it all! Haha, you think I’m done whining? I’m not.

In the end I would have to say that the coat is neither beautiful nor well made. It is passable. But as the deadline grew tight, the quality of the workmanship on this decidedly work-intensive project became increasingly more “brute force” and with rapidly diminishing finesse. My general high-and-mighty philosophy of, “If you’re not going to sew it well, don’t bother sewing it at all” disintegrated quickly under the weight of a deadline and the drudgery of a project I did not enjoy. There are known puckers. There are corners cut. And after spending waaaaay too much time on this coat in the last two weeks and dropping quite a bit of my own money and digging into my personal stash for materials, I have taught myself my own lesson about S.W.A.G. sewing once again. BurdaStyle unfortunately did not cover the cost of linings, trims, and notions, which I imagine wasn’t much of a big deal except for the people working on the coat project, but it did end up being a little more than I wanted to put into it. Plus due to the necessity of a last-minute redesign because of a supplies miscommunication, I made an executive decision to ditch the fashion fabric that BurdaStyle picked out (sorry, BS! Thanks for sending it though! You can have it back if you want!) and sent to me because it wasn’t going to work and ended up using my own fabric instead. So suffice it to say, by the end I couldn’t bring myself to invest any more time or resources in dainty details or hand finishing. It’s okay though.  Not gorgeous, but hellz, it’s still a handmade freakin’ coat.

I can’t show you pictures of the final product, but I’ll show you something I bought from the thrift shop so I could cut it up to make part of the coat:

It’s a big ol’ fake fur coat!  And the best part of it (because the fur itself feels kind of heinous in the way that fake fur does after it’s been around the block a couple of times) is the label!

Oh yes this is a genuine Tissavel from France.  Originally purchased at Sears, which some of you may know better as “The Fashion Place” or “Place de la Mode.” I think from now on I’m going to refer to Sears as Place de la Mode (with my best French accent, bien sûr!) as in, “Darling, I think this weekend we’ll need to make a little jaunt over to Place de la Mode. I am just aching for some snow tires and a new Tissavel.”

Back on subject- I’m sort of excited for the book to come out, but if I never see the coat again, so much the better! It’s not my style anyway so I probably won’t wear it even if it does get sent back to me eventually. But I’m hoping that the good folks at BurdaStyle pull out all of their art and styling big guns for the photoshoot. They do have fantastic stylists. Under the right conditions and on the appropriately gamine-like model, I think the coat could be made to look chic. Those conditions, however are not “on the Selfish Seamstress, walking around on the street.” But whatever, done! Done, done, done! Out of sight, out of mind, which means I can stop sewing it and stop whining about it, and finally get back to sewing other things and whining about other things!

Permit me to get started right now with me me me me ME ME ME me me me ME! Me me me leopard pencil skirt me me ME TWEED SKIRT SUIT me me ME ME me me new sleeves on blouses me ME me ME me ME flowy pants me me me me me me me me me me black wool trench coat me me ME ME me finish leopard jacket me ME me ME me ME me ME me ME tux dress in plum and gray me me ME me me ME plaid wool jacket me me ME ME ME me me me ME ME ME me me me mod stewardess dress ME me ME ME me me me me me me me me houndstooth sheath dress me ME ME me clown costume just kidding ME ME me me ME me ME me ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME

… clowns!  Yep, we got a hint of them in this month’s issue of BurdaMag:

It turns out that this is no mere one-off clown sighting, but the beginnings of a full-blown clown fad!  Check it out. I just wandered over to check out the “New Arrivals” section at Fabric Mart, and discovered this cheerful polka dot cotton:

With this awesome description:

    This bright red with white polka dots is 100% cotton from Robert Kaufman. It is light to medium weight and has a smooth soft hand. Use it in quilting and decorating projects. Polka dots are perfect for the bow tie on all clown costumes.

That’s the main selling point they’re going with for this fabric. Perfect for clown costumes! ALL clown costumes, ladies.  ALL. No matter which clown costume(s) you’re planning for your autumn wardrobe, the bow tie must be perfectly polka dotted. Don’t want to look like you’re wearing last year’s clown attire, after all.

Stay tuned for more cutting edge fashion updates. Aren’t you glad the Selfish Seamstress is helping you stay on top the trends? She’s nothing if not totally in touch. Forget beige and draping and whatever else you’ve been seeing on the runways- the new buzz is CLOWN and I’m hopping on this super tiny yet surprisingly crowded and raucous bandwagon. Off to look for some big shoes now…

Nope. BurdaStyle book coat is not done yet.  It’s close though.  I should be able to put it in the mail tomorrow.  Maybe. I couldn’t help it- it was such a nice day yesterday that Dan and I decided we needed to go wading in the river. And to the Asian supermarket to buy sweets. Don’t tell me I don’t have my priorities straight. (Plus I actually had some work work to do, like for my job.)

More importantly, let’s talk about clothes. I’ve always had a bit of a love affair with black with white accents, or white with black accents, à la my Orwell Coat or my English Tutor dress. And when I saw Gertie’s post this morning on her latest adorable dress (actually navy and white), it reminded me of this black and white dress that I discovered in of my closet some weeks ago. I purchased this stretchy little number about ten years ago:

I had a little flash of nostalgia for my early 20s after pulling it out and thought to myself that I ought to make a new version of this dress at a more age-appropriate length and with nicer fabric. But then I put it on and looked in the mirror and was all like, “Hey there, leggy 20s, where’d you come from? What are you up to tonight? Just hanging out in front of the mirror?  That’s cool.  Me too. I guess I’ll see you there then.”

So what do you think?  Can I still get away with this?  (Not for work, obviously- I may still make a version inspired by this better suited for the office.) It’s a bit dated in that sort of Friends-era Jennifer Aniston miniskirt way, and I’m really not concerned about whether it is “immodest” to show so much leg in public (Interesting discussions about that going on though), but more whether this screams 1999, or comes off as “trying too hard to be 24” (which I am so not!) So, to wear or not to wear? And if to remake instead or as well, what to do different?

Deadline grows closer,
I’m sewing in a puddle
Of tears and regret.

Check out the Selfish Seamstress Store for haiku goodies- proceeds will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

A Coffee Date Dress by Tina!

Well, everyone, after much struggling with WordPress, I have put the Selfish Reader Gallery online!  Thanks to everyone who has submitted a photo so far of their Selfish Seamstress pattern creations, and please keep them coming. I can’t believe how pretty and creative they all are- great work Selfish Readers! I had some technical struggles and unfortunately was not able to link to people’s blogs in the photo captions. Right now the gallery photo links to people’s blog URLs if they sent me one, and to the full-sized photo if they did not. This is really not ideal, but I’ve spent about an hour and a half trying different solutions and will have to put off my investigations for another day. Because…

… after a week’s worth of procrastination, I *really* have to get back to sewing the BurdaStyle book coat!  It MUST get done this weekend, which means another self-imposed sweatshop for me. Dan’s gone off on a grueling hike, the kitchen is stocked with fruit and cookies, and I’ve got my good buddies Biggie, L.L., Missy, Big Boi, Revened Run and DMC queued up on the playlist to help out. And I’m going to need all the help I can get.

Another day, another whole lotta thinking about me. Such is the life of the truly selfish, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And as is often the case, I’ve been thinking about myself and my blog.

When I mention to people that I maintain a sewing blog, often the first thing they ask is whether a lot of people visit. I don’t do any rigorous stats tracking, but I say that it seems to be quite a lot of traffic these days. The next thing they ask is, “Do you make a lot of money off of your ads?” And when I tell them that I don’t do paid ads or sponsors, they are surprised at the wasted opportunity. Similarly, I’m often asked by other sewers why I give my patterns away for free rather than trying to sell them. Why not be more… selfish?

Here’s the thing- I have no moral or philosophical objection to people making money off of their blogs or sewing. Quite the contrary in fact- I love knowing that people are able to leverage their beloved activity in a way that benefits themselves, and sometimes even supports them. You know how I feel about doing things for your own personal benefit. Passionate. And ads on blogs don’t bother me at all (so long as they are sitting there quietly and not popping up windows or obscuring the content that I want to see). I even appreciate a nicely curated ad that was chosen because it might be interesting or relevant to me. Would I ever even have heard of ModCloth or any number of independent vintage pattern companies if not for these little ads? People who blog are putting something out there for others, trying to make a contribution, so why not get a little something in return?

So why don’t *I* advertise on my blog then?  And why don’t I charge money for my pattern downloads?  The answer is simple (and you should have guessed it by now if you’ve ever visited this blog before): SELFISHNESS. Sewing and blogging are two of my primary free time activities, and the less of a “job” it is to me, the better. And if I’m getting paid for it, it becomes kind of a job in my mind, and with that comes a sense of responsibility and accountability, a.k.a. YUCK and YUCK. Perhaps no one else would feel that I was accountable, but I would. As it is, I try to post at least a few times a week, but as you know, life (and sometimes extraterrestrial life) can get in the way, and maybe there will come a time when I just don’t feel like writing or sewing for a whole month. Or six. I don’t want to worry about whether my advertisers feel like they’re getting their money’s worth, or whether they’re being cheated, and I certainly don’t want that worry to be my motivation to maintain a certain quality or frequency of posts. If I feel like writing crap or hibernating, that’s up to me :D

Same deal with patterns- I’m an amateur drafter, and an even more amateur grader. As it stands now, you get the pattern for free and if you think it stinks, well tough noogies for you- I warned you to sew it at your own risk, and guess what? It was FREE. That’ll teach you to download free stuff off the internet :) It doesn’t fit right, it doesn’t look right, why doesn’t it come in size 38? What do you want me to do, give you your $0 back and head back to the drafting table to fix your customer service issue?  Ha. I’m obviously exaggerating a little bit here, but I think this should give you an idea as to why I am so very very NOT interested in charging money for my patterns ;) (And seriously, who would pay $5 for a pattern download by an acknowledged amateur drafter? Not me.)

That pretty much sums it up- the whole lack of commercial features on my blog is driven not by any holier-than-thou attitude towards profiting, but instead out of pure and simple selfishness, self-centeredness, and lack of responsibility! I won’t promise it will always be this way- circumstances and priorities may change. But for now, this is how it stands. Selfish, lazy, and all about me and my own personal glorification.

You might be thinking, “Ah, but Selfish, what about your Selfish Seamstress Store? You sell things for charity, which seems like both a blog-related responsibility AND unselfish!” I have gotten comments to that extent before, and all I can say is that you greatly, greatly misunderstand the motivation behind that. You hear the word “donate” and you think of it as altruism. I think of it as taking advantage the masses whom I have ensnared into reading my blog, and manipulating them into doing things to make the world a little bit more into the world that I want it to be. And making sure they think about me every time they drink their coffee. Shameless self promotion. See how that works?  Now go buy some mugs and t-shirts to support St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Do as I command!

[Note: If you are suddenly feeling like this whole post was actually one long roundabout ad, you would be correct. Hahaha. You think I zig?  I zag!]

You may be surprised to know that the Selfish Seamstress’s job is neither seamstressing nor being selfish. Remarkably, she does not get paid for either, even though she spends a fair bit of her free time sewing and is selfish pretty much all the time. No, she has a day job that often bleeds well into the night, which severely limits her sewing time (but does not much affect her selfish time.)

As a scientist, one of the key measures of professional success is impact. Impact is fiendishly hairy to assess or quantify, though there are some indicators. To oversimplify things a bit, one common indicator of the impact of a scientific work is the frequency of its citation. That is to say, if I write a scholarly paper on a piece of research that I have conducted, the more times other scientists reference the paper in their scholarly papers, the higher the impact. It therefore stands to follow that if you are a scientist and you have a paper that many other people have used in their work, you should be quite proud of its impact and subsequently the success of your research.

According to Google Scholar, my most cited paper has been referenced 114 times by other scientific papers. For my particular field of research, this is not bad. It does not make me a luminary in my research community, but it’s certainly not a shameful number. It could be argued that the work has had some impact. Compare this, however, to my pattern for the Coffee Date Dress, which has been downloaded on the order of 50,000 times from my blog, BurdaStyle and perhaps a couple of other places as well. As a scientist, my little selfish heart thrills at the thought of the pattern having had some impact, of having produced something that might actually be useful. To think that someone whom I’ve never met, living thousands of miles away might be wearing a Coffee Date Dress right now just gives me the giddies.

So, with that long preamble, I’ve decided to add a Selfish Reader Gallery to my blog, to show off the impact of my patterns while gently patting my oversized ego give beloved readers the opportunity to display the fruits of their labor made with Selfish Seamstress patterns. Have you made a Coffee Date Dress, Minimalist Cowl, or other Selfish Seamstress pattern? (Yes, I know I still owe you the pattern for the Sugar Snow Dress – it’s coming, don’t worry!) Do you want to be featured in the Selfish Reader Gallery? If so, send me a photo of your creation at selfishseamstress [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject line “Gallery”, and if you want me to link to your [preferably sewing-related] blog or webpage, send a URL as well.

All you Selfish Readers, here’s another opportunity for glory!

Slow progress is being made on the BurdaStyle book coat– I managed to cut out all of the outer pieces yesterday and get started on assembling it. But as I mentioned previously, the fact that this feels like S.W.A.G. sewing rather than selfish sewing means I’m not particularly driven and am dragging my feet. (This, incidentally, is through no fault of the BurdaStyle folks who have been great, or the project, which is a fantastic opportunity. Rather it is the direct result of the Selfish Seamstress having a particular tendency towards whining and self pity, even when they are not appropriate to the situation.)

As is often the case when I get tied up in any sort of S.W.A.G.-ish sewing, I start fantasizing about all the stuff I would make were I not S.W.A.G.-bound. And this dress from Burda 12.2006 is my latest obsession:

I’m sure the first time I saw this dress, I had a serious WTF moment. It’s so over the top, it’s so tacky, it’s so ridiculous. Dare I say… ugly? Oh, the black moiré (when was the last time you saw someone wearing moiré in real life?? I’ll tell you the last time I saw that- it was on the gown of one of the parents in the party scene when I was in a production of the Nutcracker at the age of 10. I’m pretty sure I thought to myself, “Man, I can’t wait until I’m a grownup and can wear moiré too!”). Also, the iridescent purple bow, the high ruffled collar, contrast bib, and sleeveless bodice. All together, it’s the female equivalent of a Chippendale dancer costume, or perhaps the uniform of a cocktail waitress at a seedy casino in the 1980s. Who on earth would wear such a dress? Well, as it turns out, I am strongly suspecting that I would, which is why I went to some lengths recently to acquire the 12.2006 issue of Burda from German eBay. Just not quite like this.

I think tux styling is a bit like animal print, ruffles, or metallic leather. A hint of it can be elegant and ladylike. Push it a little further and it can be edgy and daring. But push it a little bit further over that very thin line and suddenly you’re splat in the middle of Tackyland, which is where I believe the moiré dress above resides. TOO TUX-Y. (Side note, wouldn’t Tackyland be the greatest amusement park ever?)

But look what you get when you strip down some of the bells and whistles and craziness, and stop trying to force it to be a lady tux, and instead just a pretty dress with some tux-inspired details:

Lots and lots of cute potential! Imagine it all in one color- maybe a lightweight brown sateen (sooo Zara) or a pale yellow lawn. Or navy with tiny white pin dots and white accents. Or the whole top in ecru with the waistband and skirt in black. Or plum batiste on top with businesslike gray wool for the skirt?

Myself, I’m thinking the whole dress in white poplin with the tie at the neck, buttons, and waistband in black, minus the bow at the waist. After all, I’m not a 10-year old in the Nutcracker anymore. Or a Chippendale dancer.

My brain was feeling completely numb from working on the BurdaStyle Book coat. And I haven’t even touched the fabric yet.  After spending a decent chunk of time taping the pattern pages together, I realized I would have to add in seam allowances. Now, having just taped together 48 sheets of paper, I wasn’t about to then trace them onto new paper and add seam allowances, so I decided I would just draw them right onto the printout. But unfortunately there wasn’t enough margin around many of the pattern pieces to just draw the seam allowances right on so I began a patchwork process of taping little snippets of paper around the pieces so that I could draw complete seam allowances. (If you’re tempted to tell me that seam allowances on patterns are the work of the devil and it’s soooo much more accurate to do without them and shame on me for succumbing to this lazy American innovation, this is the part where I tell you that I don’t enjoy drawing them directly onto fabric for a fajillion little coat pieces and not everyone wants to sew the way you do. Golly, I am irritable after this day of non-sewing sewing.)

So, even though I’m not usually one for quickie projects, I needed a break. A sewing break. A sewing break from non-sewing sewing. Ta-da, the 15-minute sewing break skirt. Oops, I blinked:

(Shown with my Minimalist Cowl top, the pattern for which you can download for free.) This skirt was more of a craft project than a constructed garment. Pretty much just a tube with a little bit of shaping at the hip and waist. I don’t have a serger so I just sewed the seams with the stretch stitch on my machine and a teflon foot, and finished the raw edges with a cover stitch. The waist edge is just folded over and stitched with a stretch stitch, but I may do a more professional waist treatment in the future.

The fabric is a black and white houndstooth sweater knit that looks like wool but feels like acrylic, which is just fine with me:

And although it is not tight, it does do that clingy thing under the toosh that knits are wont to do, which is perhaps making it slightly more booty-defining than I was expecting, but not so bad that I can’t wear it to work (I think.):

Okay, that’s enough- stop looking at my butt, pervs. Close up of the front, in all of its basic, undetailed, even-an-idiot-could-sew-it glory:

You might be wondering about the black trim on the fabric. It’s actually a ribbed border that came “for free” with the fabric, because…

… this was no ordinary fabric!

There is the magnificent “Before” shot of the skirt- a beyond hideous Cosbyesque boxy sweater, with a delightful contrast mock turtleneck and black ribbed trim. Yum! This voluminous vintage lovely came home with me from the thrift store, where I was shopping for something I could appropriate for my BurdaStyle book coat. I was sort of successful in that endeavor, I think. We’ll see after I finish drawing the freakin’ seam allowances and actually get started on sewing.

Ok, break over, back to coat!

I think technically I’m barred from showing you any pictures of the BurdaStyle Book coat along the way until BurdaStyle gives me the okay to do so (which may not be until after the book is published- I don’t really know).  But I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give you a teeeeny tiny taste of where I’m at with it right now to whet your appetite:

Yup. I’ve managed to cut the margins off all 48 sheets of paper. Pretty groovy, huh? *Pats self on back for tenth time today*

This coat needs to be done in about ten days, so I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend. But before you accuse your Selfish Seamstress of being a total slacker, I should note that this current delay is not 100% procrastination on my part, even though I haven’t had much sewing time lately. First there was a mix-up about which materials BurdaStyle were going to provide and which ones I would need to buy for myself, which left me waiting for a package from them that was never going to come.  When we managed to figure this out, they ran around trying to find some of the fabric I would need but weren’t able to find it. So I checked out my sad little local fabric store and of course came away empty-handed as well, problematic since my design kind of depended on this fabric. This mess wasn’t anyone’s fault, just a simple miscommunication, but it has delayed the whole process quite a bit and unfortunately the BurdaStyle folks are on a tight production schedule, so so am I.

Finally it was determined that I should just ditch my original submitted design and redesign the coat using materials I have access to for expediency. So I’ve been redesigning it in my head. I’m going to go try to find alternate materials today and I hope it works out, otherwise I’m back to square one.

I suppose I could have taped the pieces together in the meantime, but why half-ass your procrastination when you can go all out with it? Anyway, wish me luck- I’m going to be a one-woman sweatshop this weekend!

I’ve been stalking the German and Russian Burda websites for days in hopes of seeing the full preview for the August 2010 issue of BurdaMag, with no luck. Usually it’s up by the middle of the month, though sometimes not yet with the technical drawings. Finally, I decided to check with the experts on everything Burda, the forums at Hobbyschneiderin, the mega-geil online German sewing community. And wouldn’t you know it, one of the users unearthed the (sorta) full preview yesterday, though I have no idea how as it doesn’t appear to be linked off of the Burda pages anywhere that I can see. Clever and resourceful German seamstresses!

For now they don’t have the “fashion” photos up or the technical drawings, but the photos of the individual garments seem to be available for the whole issue. My verdict: lots of reasonable basics, especially compared to the July issue, and no real crazy, despite the titillating clown photos. On the whole, the general silhouette they seem to be pushing is somewhat boxier or baggier on top and skinny on the bottom, which is kind of the opposite of my general preferences. The issue has a lot of tapered pants and roomy tops, which is not a bad look, but not the best for my figure. Oddly enough though, the garment I’m most drawn to in this issue is this:

I know, right? Doesn’t seem like my kind of thing, right? I think the houndstooth wool is getting me though. You know how I love my menswear wool. I’m imagining this with a chunky teal or maroon knit scarf and matching slouchy hat, with skinny jeans and tall boots. And more interesting and detailed pockets. See, kind of cute when you think about it, no?

The other highlights are some elegant but practical coats that remind me of the sort that Tippi Hedren or Grace Kelly would have worn in a Hitchcock film. They’re less shaped than what I usually go for, but so pretty  and wearable I might have to consider them:

Ha. I just realized now that they’re the same pattern.  One is just fastened at the neck.

There are a couple of more fitted jackets in the issue, though they’re not my style exactly. I can see a lot of people getting excited over this one. But assuming that the hem hits at the hip, the sleeve length looks very “Go, go, Gadget Arms!” This is a fun optical illusion- the longer you look at this picture, the longer the sleeves seem to become. Try it!

Another item that I think people will get excited about is this camisole. I think it’s cute, but the fact that it looks like a frivolous summertime H&M purchase makes me less inclined to want to sew it:

Of course, there is the “Jackie O.” cocktail dress, which I know I will be tempted to make because I am a sucker for a back drape, but would probably see very little wear. If  I do this, I’ll probably opt out of the balloon skirt because it’s not the best look for short legs:

The draped dress that I adored from the early preview but which I suspected would not be included in the issue sadly is not included in the issue.  Boo hoo!

The tulip skirt has some interesting potential (it’s quite similar to others from previous Burda issues- I’d have to dig back to find what I’m thinking of) but I think the elastic waist detracts from the graceful elegance.  (Also, what are those things on the sides?  Tabs?) There’s a plus size skirt pattern with a standard waistband which is similar but so much more covetable. (Most of the plus size stuff is pretty slick, as usual.)

As I mentioned, much of the rest of the issue seems to be basics, such as plain skinny pants, long pencil skirts, and long sleeved t-shirts- not bad overall.  There are also a lot of peasant-y type shirts if you’re keen on that.

But then as I was flipping through the photos, I came upon some really cute stuff that I hadn’t notice doubles of in any of the previous features:

I know the band jacket fad might be a little bit played at this point, and that the skirt and top are themselves sort of simple and basic, but I really liked the clean but still feminine lines of these garments, and the sophisticated fabric choices. In fact, I thought these were so great that I was surprised I hadn’t seen other incarnations of them elsewhere in the issue. And then I noticed the caption. Yep, these are the kids’ clothes.

The size ranges for the patterns aren’t stated in the preview yet, but now I’m pretty curious. Juebejue and Kerry, are you wondering the same thing that I’m wondering?

Ordinarily the Selfish Seamstress it too wrapped up is important stuff like thinking about herself or doing things for herself or using other people for her own personal benefit to give a crap about anyone else’s emotional well being or mental health. But yesterday she got a comment on her blog from reader Katherine, who is obviously devoted and maybe just a teensy bit unstable after I didn’t post yesterday. Her words: “STOP DANCING! START SEWING!” Obviously, I have not been giving the public what it wants! Ordinarily, I wouldn’t care. But the minor freak-out made me worry if Katherine or others out there might resort to very desperate measures, such as torching a local Hancock or sticking a kitten with an entire box of Dritz pins, if I didn’t show some new sewing. And that might be more strife and drama than even the Selfish Seamstress can handle. Sometimes I almost forget how terribly, terribly important I am. Almost.

So last night (after my dance class- the Selfish Seamstress is not about to go without for your sake!), I finally put the finishing touches on my McCall 6035 blouse (thanks for the motivation, Katherine!), worn here with some self-drafted pants (the picture is making the color more vibrant than it actually is- it’s more of a standard navy in real life):

Okay, help me out here, because I’m not sure if I’m feeling this blouse. (See how bored I look in that photo?)  I went with the poet sleeve view on a whim after discovering that there wasn’t a classic sleeve with a buttoned cuff option and deciding I was too lazy to draft my own. Plus I thought the drama sleeve might be kind of fun and interesting.

I’m realizing that the poet sleeves conjure up two things in my mind: 1) My wannabe club girl wardrobe circa 1992 when my closet consisted entirely of black chiffon, white acetate, Depeche Mode t-shirts, black felt hats that I wore tipped too far back on my head, and poet blouses, and 2) catalogues with names like Coldwater Creek or Newport News that I only ever seem to see on the kitchen counters of my friends’ mothers’ houses. I think it is a pretty blouse that feels like it is utterly lacking in style. I’m not sure why it is that a similarly poet-y blouse looks so chic on Cidell, but so mom’s-going-to-the-office on me.

That being said, this pattern is a great basic which I’ll definitely make up again with different sleeves, and the fit of the bodice is perfect for me, after grading down one size to a 4. Melody had commented that she and others have had problems with the drafting of the princess seams which led them to not match up properly. This is one of those patterns that has the different pattern pieces for A/B, C, and D cups, so I’m thinking that maybe some sizes were drafted better than others? I used the D cup pattern and had no problems.  Just kidding, I used the A/B cup, duh, and the seams matched up just fine. Just checking to see if you were awake there. As you can see- the fit on this pattern is really good for me, with no alterations:

It’s slim fitting, the way I like most of my clothes to be, but not tight and it doesn’t pull anywhere. If I have any quibbles, I’d say that maybe I could have used a little less contouring in the upper back, as there seems to be a little space there in the shoulder blade region. But considering that this is a long-sleeved blouse, I suspect that if I removed that extra space, I’d also lose some arm mobility in this garment:

From a fit perspective, this is a great princess seam blouse for me, and I suspect it will become my go-to block for blouses. The fabric is navy stretch poplin and I did four fabric-covered buttons down the front (I knew I’d never button it at the top of the collar so I didn’t bother with buttons up there.

I should note that I’m currently in the middle of a bad run with Dan- he’s given me the thumbs down on this blouse (which I sort of agree with), the thumbs down on the Drama Queen Jacket (which I definitely agreed with), and the thumbs down as well on Pants-with-a-bow, and the vintage-inspired satin sheath (obviously he has no idea what he’s talking about on those last two, so I’ve stopped talking to him until he apologizes for having opinions which differ from mine.) What do you think?  Keep the wacky puffy sleeves or pull them out and replace them with some other ones?

Whew!  It’s been a busy couple of days here at Chez Selfish with little time to sew, and I’ve been making some sloooow progress on a McCall 6305 blouse in navy poplin. I’m kind of lukewarm on the poet sleeves so far- they feel a little bit current-day Meryl Streep or Diane Keaton- pretty and elegant, but a little lacking in edge, and maybe not really my look:

Anyway, seeing as how sewing progress has slowed to a near halt, I thought I’d look for something else to show you, namely these two enormous vintage pattern catalogues that I purchased a few years back. You know, the kind you flip through at Jo-ann, but back from the days long before Jo-ann. They’re McCall August 1957 and Simplicity 1959 volumes (did they really put these things out monthly back then??):

I love looking through these, especially the McCall’s one, as 1956-1958 are some of my favorite years for fashion. Flipping through them, I notice a number of neat trends that I don’t see much these days but that might just be due for a resurrection. I thought I’d share a couple of these with you- who knows? Maybe you’ll be inspired to add one to your list.

For today, I’m featuring the short cape, which was a staple judging by the 1957 McCall book, for both day and evening wear. It appears this little garment was even more popular than the bolero, which is what I usually think of when I picture a light layer over a 1950s dress. (All of the capes pictured are from the McCall book):

Although the short cape is often included with a dress pattern that has a full or semi-full skirt option, the cape is almost always shown with a straight skirted dress, which balances the flare and keep it sleek.

And I especially love the examples in which the short cape is actually integrated into the design of the whole ensemble, such as in this outfit, in which the pleats of the dress are repeated on the cape- how much more interesting and pulled together this looks than it would have with a plain cape!

Or this outfit, in which the cape physically buttons onto the straps of the dress, making for a cute open look, while keeping the cape on the shoulders. This would be so easy to make and add to your sheath dress:

Even very simple short capes add elegance and sophistication:

And check this out- the short cape worn over a jacket! Who would have thought? That’s almost like wearing two jackets! And yet, so much cooler- if I’m not mistaken, the cape actually slips under the collar of the jacket and then attaches right onto the jacket buttons. Oooh, I love brilliant sewing engineering!

I think this trend of the 50s may be due for a revival. In the last few years, we’ve already seen the resurgence of capes in general, usually hitting at the hip or longer and filling the role of light- to mid-weight outerwear. (Actually, now that I think about it, Burda 8/2009 did feature a short version of a cape- it was cute!) The short cape seems like it could fill a somewhat different role, and could also be worn by women who aren’t built like trees. What do you think?  Are you interested in seeing this one come back? Weigh in!

Also, let me know if you found this interesting- there are a lot of other nifty vintage trends in my pattern books that I’d be happy to show you as well :)

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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