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For the first time in a while, I actually had a block of several hours in which to sit down and sew. So I did.  Here’s progress on my McCall 5525 jacket, done in Amy Butler Full Moon Polka Dot in lime, one of my recent cute prints acquisitions:

I’ve got most of the shell done, which took longer than one would think because I decided to interline all of the pieces with muslin to give it more body.  Yuck, like cutting pieces for TWO jackets. (Cutting is my least favorite part of the sewing process.) Now I’ve just got facings and lining left, and then finishing. And I’m considering adding button bands to the sleeves.

Although I do love to make fun coats, I took this one on with some apprehension because it seemed as though it could veer into crafty crazy territory, a.k.a. calico housecoat. But it’s actually looking ok so far- it looks less crazy on me than it does on the hanger. And Dan didn’t burst out laughing when he saw it, which is generally a sign that something can pass for Real Clothes, rather than Sewing Project. Keep your fingers crossed for a final result that I won’t be ashamed to wear out of the house!

Just a quickie report on my Burda 8.2009.128 dress, the one I am sewing dangerously. I didn’t make too much progress yesterday, but managed to do the pleats and assemble the shell of the dress minus the sleeves. I was too tired to put it on to show to you, but here it is lying on the floor, looking none too perky:

I managed to beat the darts into submission. And here’s a close up of the pleats, which are looking pretty good so far, and based on an initial test fit seem to be working out and not doing any unflattering belly emphasizing:

There is about a quarter of an inch gap between those two central pleats, and I suppose it was probably intended that they meet perfectly to form an upside-down V, but the little gap isn’t really bothering me, and I actually rather like it that way.

As for the fit, so far so good without alteration (though surely at some point this belief of mine that I no longer have to muslin Burda dresses is going to come back to bite me in the butt, no?).  Obviously it will need to be shortened at the hem, but that’s standard for me. It appears to be slightly roomier across the upper back than some of my other Burda sheath dresses, but I’m assuming that this is because I’ll need that ease once the sleeves are set in.

That’s it for now, but keep your eyes peeled because I’m going to have a fun sewing story for you sometime later today (time permitting)!  Who wants storytime?

You can almost guarantee that when Burda puts out a fitted work-appropriate sheath dress, I’m going to make it. I always figure that if I’m going to put time and effort into making something, it should be something that I’m going to wear for years to come, and I can get my trendy, floofy stuff at the mall. (Though now that I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I went shopping for clothes. Hmm.) Although I’ve been going through a bit of a Burda dry spell, I’ve been just mad about dress 128 from the 8.2009 issue since the moment I saw it:

I’m also not the most imaginative of seamstresses. It’s often difficult for me to imagine the myriad possibilities for a pattern, so I tend to be especially drawn to making something when Burda hits it right on the head, as I feel they have with this dress in terms of fabric choice and styling. So what did I do?  I went out and bought fabric that looks just like the stuff that they used:

Unfortunately this was labeled with the ambiguous title “wool blend” with no further detail.  Grumble. It’s not the worst stuff in the world to work with, but I’m guessing that the wool in this fabric is taking a backseat to the synthetic, as it’s being pretty resistant to pressing. Sigh- puffy darts. Well, at least it will be wrinkle resistant!

So what’s so dangerous about this?  Well, I made an executive decision that may or may not prove to be a mistake. I didn’t muslin the bodice (or any of it for that matter, but muslining a not-very-fitted skirt sometimes seems like overkill). The pattern starts in size 36 and I graded down to my usual 32. I do this often with Burda sheath dresses and they have always ended up a great fit with no alterations.  So I figured this should fit similarly, right? Right? Right? Famous last words perhaps?

I guess we’ll see.  So far I’ve just stitched the darts (tracing the pattern out is tedious. Grading two sizes and tracing the pattern and adding seam allowances sometimes feels like as much work as actually sewing the freakin’ thing up!) and it looks ok thus far (photo makes the fabric look lighter than it actually is):

Yep, that’s black grosgrain ribbon next to the bodice front, just like in the picture because the Selfish Seamstress is not creative enough to think for herself!

Okay, go ahead and berate me for not making a muslin, and wag your fingers at the follies of laziness and the likelihood that I will have just wasted two yards of relatively nice fabric to make an ill-fitting dress that I will never wear. Tell me that I’ll be sorry later and I’ll learn my lesson the hard way. It’s nothing I don’t already know :D

Pretty well so far.  How’s your day going?

I’ve been wearing my Jalie 2908 holy fecking shet jeans way too much. They just fit me so much better than any of my RTW jeans that I’ve been wearing them tons and practically forgotten about any of my other jeans. We’re talking about a frequency of wear that is outside of the realm of socially acceptable.  Bordering on gross. Actually probably well into gross territory. (TMI!) So last night I decided it was time to start a new pair.

I got some new stretch denim which is heavier than what I used for the last pair (I love the last pair, but they do feel a little flimsier than I like for jeans) and in a darker, less blue wash. I’ve got dark gold (not metallic) Gutermann topstitching thread and a couple of rivets left over from the last pair, though I could stand to order some more. I cut out all the denim last night and then started thinking about what scraps of cotton to appropriate for pocket linings and facings. 

It’s really not worth getting new cotton for the pockets in my opinion because you really don’t see them (unlike a jacket lining) and it’s such a small amount of fabric. I guess if you decide to line the waistband it might be justifiable to go pick out some adorable new print, but I prefer my waistband to be all denim. For the last pair, which, if you recall, was actually supposed to be a muslin, I just snipped a bit of old bedsheet that I had previously used to muslin something else. But it wasn’t a particularly pretty bedsheet, and it has that wrinkly worn look of a very old, very nondescript bedsheet. So this time I wanted something prettier.  Here’s what I’m going with- some candystriped cuteness in varied shades of pink and brown:


You saw England,
You saw France!
I made you look at Dan’s UNDERPANTS!

That’s right- I’ve decided that old boxer shorts are the BEST source for jeans pocket fabrics. You can easily get a whole matching set out of a single pair of underwear and the prints are just so darn cute. (Don’t worry, they’re clean, which is more than I can say for the Jalie jeans that I’ve worn for the last 3 days in a row.)

More TMI! This pair was wearing and tearing at the seams and I had even mended them once already (*gasp* Did I just publicly admit to mending something for someone else?  And someone’s UNDERWEAR, no less?? Guess whose internal filter is not working today.  Mine!) but despite the patching, the fabric was just so worn at the seams that they were falling apart.  Other than at the seams, however, the fabric is in great shape. And so cute and pink.

I’ve been hoarding several pairs of Dan’s falling-apart boxers (yeah, more TMI! The Selfish Seamstress is freaky!) because the fabric is good quality and adorable in cheerful stripes and mermaid prints and polka dots, but hadn’t really had a plan for them other than the vague and perverse idea of an eventual “Underpants Quilt,” as there didn’t seem to be enough fabric in a pair to make much else. But now that I’m making my own jeans and will probably make several more pairs in the future, I’m pretty thrilled with this use of the undies. 

But it sure makes you think twice about asking me if I can carry your lipstick in my pocket when we go out, huh?   

Blouse 114 from the 4.2007 issue is coming along very slowly on account of the WORST instructions ever. But I’ve managed to make it over the major hurdles, and am now at the point where I can see what the final product is going to look like.  And it is crazy. After I basted on the first ruffle, I tried it on and looked in the mirror and said thought, “WHAT!” I went out into the living room where Dan was having a Skype call with his parents and he burst into laughter. Then I basted on the remaining ruffles and it’s still crazy, but maybe (?) getting better? I have to admit, although it’s remaining consistently ridiculous, it’s starting to grow on me.  Dan’s comment: “Well, something is growing on you.” And indeed, this blouse makes me feel like one of these:

Anyway, I got the ruffles stitched on and basted one sleeve in place.  Now I’m starting to think that if this blouse is worth finishing at all, it might look better sleeveless. So I basted the seam allowance on one side inwards to see what that might look like. Here’s where we are currently:

So.  Unquestionably crazy, right?  That leaves me with two questions for you:  

1.  Good crazy or bad crazy?

2. If good crazy, better with sleeves or without?

I can’t help but notice that since I got back from my little abduction incident weird and inexplicable things have been happening. You know, suddenly all of my left shoes are too big, the cat has been winking at me, sometimes the anchor on the evening news finishes a story with, “Did you catch all of that, Elaine?” Nothing too nerve wracking.  Until last night, that is. I was working on the Burda ruffle blouse from the 4.2007 issue, had finished a muslin and was starting to cut out of my brown striped poplin:

I used my usual trick for doing symmetrical plaid matching. But this time, it didn’t work!  I couldn’t get the stripes to match.  What! Here’s what I mean.  I cut out one sleeve from a single layer of fabric. I then flipped the sleeve piece I had cut out onto the fabric with the intention of matching up the stripes and cutting the second sleeve. But this happened:

Do you see what’s going on here?  Look at the top of the photo.  See how the stripes on the sleeve piece match up so perfectly with the underlying piece of fabric that you can barely distinguish it?  And then as you progress down the photo, the stripes get more and more unaligned? I KNOW. 

I tried moving the sleeve all over the fabric, aligning it with different stripes, including the exact same stripes from which I had cut the first sleeve (i.e. placing it right below where I had cut the first sleeve along the length of the fabric) and I could not get the stripes to match up!  Here’s a close up:

And it wasn’t just the sleeves.  I couldn’t get the bodice fronts to match, and I couldn’t get the back to be symmetrical on both sides either!  You might be thinking that there’s something about the fabric that is causing it stretch along the cut edges, but this is not the case.  After cutting, the fabric pieces are still exactly the same size as the paper pattern pieces. WTF?

Eventually I decided to give up on trying to make the blouse perfectly symmetrical. I decided better to have the stripes not match perfectly than try to ease  and force things to match and end up with one side of the blouse actually being physically larger than the other. Because the shoulder seams are fairly short, I was able to force the stripes on the bodice front shoulder to match the stripes on the back shoulder, which is where I think mismatched stripes look the worst. Otherwise I figure it won’t be too bad.  It’s a fine stripe and the stripe at least looks regular, so if there happen to be one or two more stripes on one side than the other, or the stripes are aligned exactly the same on one sleeve as the other, it’d take a lot to notice.

But seriously, how weird is that? Has this happened to anyone else? Life is becoming very odd indeed.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and here’s the current state of men’s shirt 133 from the 10.2005 issue of BurdaMag for Dan. It’s a deep, rich shade of violet, which the photo is not indicating:

What the photo does indicate, however, is that it is so very not finished. And that I started it yesterday. Happy Valentine’s Day, in typical Selfish Seamstress fashion. I’m going on a little snowshoeing trip now. See you when I get back!

Well, I have to say, yesterday was a pretty good day.  Not only did I get invited to about a half dozen weddings on the condition that I wear some ridiculous combination of Burda 3.2010 garments, but I also got started on the stupid easy high waisted skirt from Burda 1.2009, model 112, using some of the sweet potato plaid Banana Republic wool I picked up at Paron for a song during my holiday fabric binge. (Please parse that last bit as “holiday-pause-fabric binge” rather than “holiday fabric-pause-binge.”  The Selfish Seamstress does not do holiday fabric, thank you very much.) It doesn’t look like much now, but the test fittings are promising.  And yes, I think I’m probably the only person who is still stuck on autumn clothes while everyone else plans their new spring dresses. I need to remove a pinch at the bottom of the corset-y midriff bit because it’s creating some extra folds of fabric over the belly.

Here’s the technical drawing:

More exciting than the skirt itself, however, is the fact that the tan, dark brown, and orange skirt seems to go with almost every pair of shoes I own. How neat is that?

Goody. I hate when I make something and then find I never wear it because I don’t have the shoes to go with it. Since people will undoubtedly ask, the shoes, clockwise from the left are:

1) Espresso brown Prada T-straps with huge chunky heels (picked up for $35 at a DSW sale!)

2) Nine West brown heeled platform oxfords

3) Michael by Michael Kors tan suede Mary Janes with huge triangular heels (another $35 bargain at Nordstrom Rack, mecca for size 4.5 and 5!)

4) Sweet Pota-toe loafers from ModCloth, with huge not-quite wedge heels (anyone starting to see the trend here?)

5) Antiqued brown Max Studio Mary Janes with the same not-quite-wedge heels (another steal at Loehmann’s)

How about you? What’s your favorite handmade garment and accessory combo?

Just a quick progress report and followed by a quick lament:  Vogue 8379 is coming together quickly and neatly.  Everything is done except for the hem and the sleeves, and the bodice is fitting like a dream- who ever thought that I might one day wear a wrap dress without a strategically placed safety pin! (Obviously, if this was something you ever wondered about me in the past, you might do well to pick up a few more hobbies or something. Or at least turn away from your computer for a few minutes a day.)

The lament: I’m starting to fall for this dress in its sleeveless state. It’s something about that sleeveless wrap bodice and that sharp collar. I’m tempted to cut in the armholes a tiny bit, find a way to finish them neatly and call it a dress. The only thing keeping me from it is that this dress is 100% wool, which would seriously limit its season in a sleeveless incarnation.

I’m feeling a sleeveless ponte de roma version in my future…

Made some minor progress last night on my knockoff of the Anthropologie Verite dress.  Adjusted some of the fit on the bodice and drafted a skirt for it.  The fit is pretty good overall now, but the drapey-ness of the fabric is starting to worry me, as it’s causing some wrinkles in the bodice that I’m not sure will go away once I put in the boning.  Maybe I should take it apart and interline all the pieces with muslin?  Sigh, all that topstitching to unpick. I might first try lining with silk taffeta to give it some more body. Anyway, here it is in its current state, shown with a black belt because I don’t have a brown one yet.  

Hmm- there is a big crease in the skirt that I thought I pressed out.  Anyway, all that’s left (if I don’t underline the bodice) is to do a lining with facings, add the boning, insert zipper, hem, and that should be it. [I took my head out of the photo because it looks crazy. Crazy head!]

Well, here’s a novel concept: Actually sewing something.  

That’s right, after weeks of me rambling on and on about books and fabric and my mom, rants on the undeserving, butcherings of a beautiful Japanese art form, I’m back home with Dan, my cat, and my dear, sweet Husqvarna. Last night I put all of my lovely new fabric on the shelf (oh dear, the stash needs some reorganizing and possibly some purging) and then promptly took out a big remnant that I’ve had sitting around for a while.

I love this fabric. I got it at Vogue in Chicago and it was one of those fabrics that just jumped out at me as I walked by the tables- the kind of warm coffee-and-chocolate brown tones that I love with a subtle but interesting diagonal not-quite-herringbone pattern that make it perfect for the kind of office-appropriate slacks, slim skirts, and sheath dresses that I always gravitate towards making. Sure, it was one of those rolls on which the fiber content was described as “assorted,” but it has a lovely, substantial drape and is nice and soft and smooth.  I’m going to assume there’s some rayon in there.

And as per your feedback, I decided to bump up the knockoff of the Anthropologie Verite dress on my priority queue.  Remember this one?

I drafted up a muslin using the bodice of my Delancey Dress as a block, which (duh) made for a pretty good fit on the first try. Just a bit of a pinch under the arms at each side seam, and then off to the fashion fabric. I’m calling it the Parity Dress for now. Here’s where I am with it thus far:

It occurs to me now that I should really take photos in progress, as that might be more useful than these sort of halfway-done still shots. But sometimes my sewing process is so weird and wrong and ad hoc that that would do more harm than good. For example, because I still haven’t figured out a good dress form solution, I started out by holding up a muslin of half of the bodice of my Delancey Dress to my body over my bra with one hand and then standing in front of a mirror and sketching the under bust style lines directly on it with a Sharpie with my other hand. Surely no one needs to see photos of that! (Yes, I know. Either get a dress form or learn to pin into own flesh. I’m working on it.)

Well, fingers crossed for a good end result, as I love that Anthropologie dress and it’s exactly the sort of thing that would NEVER even come close to fitting my short and shapeless body if I bought it from a store. Who knows?  If it works out well, there might even be another free pattern in it for you. More soon!

In addition to hypothetical sewing, mocking readers, and hawking stuff, it turns out that I also sew! Hahahaha.  Okay, this is sooooo not something that I would wear. Dan says it makes me look like I’m from Cirque du Soleil. 

But S.W.A.G. present #3, a sequined taffeta bolera for her mommy, is almost done. (Yes, I am a grown woman who calls her mother “mommy” still.  I’m not going to give it up, so mock all you want!) I hope she decides it’s her style at least. My mommy is a sweet person. But much like her Selfish daughter, she won’t wear something she doesn’t like just because it was a gift. She knows that people’s feelings are important, but looking good comes first!  Smart lady.

For having only 5 pattern pieces (other than the lining), this was an awfully fiddly project with difficult seaming at the collar and under the arms, and the taffeta is not very forgiving of tiny imprecisions.  You get to see it on me since I don’t have a dressform at the moment.  It’s cut in a size 34 as my mom is a smidge bigger than I am, so there’s a little extra room in there.  But then again, I’m not really sure how fitted a garment like this is supposed to be. I do need to finish hemming up the sleeves, but I’m trying to decide whether I want it to hit halfway between the elbow and the wrist or just below the elbow.  Thoughts?

I have some fabric left now, and I’m not sure what to do with the rest.  I’d like to make a matching top to go with the bolero, but I’m having trouble picking one out. I definitely don’t like what is going on in Burda’s photo:

That’s a whole lot of fussy for that much shiny.  I’m contemplating this Ottobre top, which would suit my mother’s taste for tailored sleeveless tops with necklines that are neither deep nor wide.  Plus it would justify the fact that I impulse bought this issue of Ottobre for something like $14 while on a trip to Switzerland even though I KNOW I never make anything from Ottobre:

But I’m wondering if that neck opening is too narrow to go with the bolero.  I don’t think it will look nice if you can see the shoulder straps when the bolero is on.  If it were for me, I’d just do a simple princess-seamed bodice with spaghetti straps and perhaps boned at the seams, but that might barer than my mom wants go to. What do you recommend?

The Selfish Seamstress Store is… here, sort of :) Right now it’s just a mug store.

For now you can get your favorite Selfish Seamstress haikus on a coffee mug ($14.80 and they’re doing free shipping TODAY) so you can show that annoying lady at the office just what you think of her suggestion that you sew her a dress “just like yours!”  Or gently remind your loved ones over morning coffee that perhaps they should learn to sew their own damn buttons. The mug also features the awesome new Selfish Seamstress dressform logo, courtesy of the very talented Dan.

And of course the best part is that 100% of the proceeds from the sale of Selfish Seamstress items (15% of the list price) will be donated to the Atlanta Humane Society to help sweet homeless puppies and kitties.  And who doesn’t want to help puppies and kitties, right?? (Sorry, I wish it were more, but the rest goes to pay the printing company!)

More fun Selfish Seamstress haiku items will be added in the coming days.  In the meantime, take a trip to the Selfish Seamstress Store and pick out your favorite mug, or get some as holiday gifts for your Selfish Seamstress buddies! (Saves you the trouble of having to sew something for them.)

More S.W.A.G. progress! I finished the two cowl necked tops for my sisters this weekend:

You’ll recall that when I first purchased the fabric for these, I was disappointed that they weren’t as soft or pretty as my teal one. I was okay with the charcoal grey shade, and a little bit skeptical of the dark army green. I have to say, after a washing they have softened up quite nicely, and the dark army green one in particular is looking kind of awesome.  I started to wonder if maybe I like it better than I like the teal one I made for myself.  Naturally, I had to try it on:

Yeah, that looks good on me. And naturally I thought about keeping it.  Thought about.  The problem with that is that I would have to embark upon yet another S.W.A.G. project to replace the gift. What’s a Selfish Seamstress to do in such a situation?  The only viable solution is to give it  as a present, and then borrow it at some point in the future.  Borrow it permanently.

With two S.W.A.G. gifts down, I turn once again to the brown cotton velvet albatross that taunts me from the shelf:

Oh yes, that is a partially sewn brown cotton velvet sportcoat that I started for Dan in 2007, shortly after I began sewing in earnest.  A sportcoat with lots of fiddly details that I as an amateur seamstress in 2007 wasn’t ready for and that I as an intermediate seamstress in 2009 just don’t feel like doing for anyone other than myself (welt pockets in cotton velvet?  Come on!) 

Since I began the project, Dan has had numerous birthdays and Chanukkahs pass by for which he has been promised this jacket and instead ended up with something else.  Every once in a while I take it out thinking that this time is the last time and it WILL get done, only to put it away after some incremental progress. I have some deep forest green satin to line it, after having long ago re-appropriated the teal jacquard lining originally intended for it to line a jacket for myself.

Well, dear readers, let it be declared here that this S.W.A.G. albatross is the next project on my list and it WILL get finished for Channukah.  (Of course, I say that knowing that if I take the Selfish route and put it aside in favor of other stuff for myself, you’ll only be cheering me on. Enablers!)

A cotton velvet sportcoat.  Why would anyone take on such a complicated and challenging project in such a fussy fabric for anyone but herself?

Oh yeah, I remember now.

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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