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I stumbled upon this image of a Banana Republic polka dot skirt a couple of nights ago and was tickled at the navy dots with yellow combination. Fortunately for me, I had some fabric in a nearly identical print (though not a nearly identical weight) in my stash.

I downloaded BurdaStyle’s free Twinkle by Wenlan A-Plus A-Line skirt pattern, and was off! Oh, I wish I had a cute yellow cardigan now, but as I do not, I’ll model it with my lemony shoes:

The skirt has a front and back yoke, and a couple of pleats down the front.

The back of the skirt is plain:

I cut the yoke on the bias to mix the dots up a little so it wouldn’t be vertical stripes of dots the whole way up. The fabric is a heavy cotton (I believe the Banana Republic one is a lightweight cotton silk blend.), about the weight of cotton duck, and it’s cut a non-stretch ribbed weave:

I used a vintage white metal zipper on the side and some white rayon lining, leftover from the Guggenheim Coat.

My New Love

Best of all, I have no idea how I remembered this, but I found some navy lace hem tape in my sewing box. I don’t know how I ended up with this, but I’m guessing it was probably in a sack of random notions I found at a thrift shop ten years ago or something. Have you ever used this stuff?  I hadn’t until yesterday, and now I am IN LOVE! (That’s right, Dan was away for about 10 hours before I found a new object of devotion and affection.)

I handstitched  the lace to the edge of the skirt, and then I did an invisible hem along the edge of the lace, also by hand:

And not only does this make it pretty on the inside, it makes the hem sooooo invisible on the outside!

Look, ma, no hem! The zero-bulk of the lace means that the invisible stitches are really truly invisible and there’s no line where the edge of the fabric is attached. I’m going to be buying a LOT more of this stuff.

The Gripe (stop reading here if all you want is the warm, fuzzy side of the skirt story and don’t feel like hearing me complain yet again):

Because The Selfish Seamstress can always find something to grumble about, I do have a gripe with this pattern. I love the style and the fit was great (I made the size 0, and I didn’t edit a thing except to shorten it at the hem). But the pattern was FIFTY-ONE pages. It took more than a tenth of a ream of paper to print out a simple skirt pattern. (If I were to mention this on BurdaStyle, I would undoubtedly be assaulted with a firestorm of “Stop complaining, it’s free, and if you don’t like it, shut up and don’t download it!” type responses. I do love BurdaStyle, but a lot of people there sure seem to love picking fights.) But seriously, it’s not that I’m too lazy to do the work of taping it together or too cheap to buy paper. But I don’t care for the resulting resource waste:

Moreover, the pattern itself uses sooooo much more paper than it has to because the skirt front and back are not drafted on the fold! Instead of creating half of a skirt front and half of a skirt back and instructing the sewer to cut it on the fold, the pattern includes an entire skirt front and an entire skirt back meant to be cut on a single layer of the fabric, even though there’s no reason not to cut it on the fold. Also, the drafting is slightly off so the skirt pieces aren’t quite symmetrical down the center. If one were to use the pattern as drafted, one would actually end up with a less symmetrical end product than if one were to cut it on the fold. I folded them down the middle to figure out why my polka dots weren’t lining up quite right and found this with both pieces:

See how the sides aren’t drafted the same, and the hem isn’t quite symmetrical either?  I went back and shaved off the overhang so it was symmetrical and then my dots matched up after that.

I discovered this after also finding that the Sidonie skirt pattern used 26 pieces of paper because they included separate pattern pieces for the skirt and the skirt lining, even though they are exactly the same with the exception of a 1 5/8″ hem allowance on the skirt and a different grain marking.

Each of these patterns used nearly twice as much paper as they should have. I realize that they are patterns intended to appeal to the beginner sewer, and pattern companies assume less and less sewing knowledge as time goes on, and do more and more hand holding with patterns and instructions. But I think even a beginner can handle a very simple concept like cutting on the fold. Are the pattern producers worried that a beginner, confronted with only half of a skirt front pattern and asked to double it in a symmetrical fashion would misunderstand and put zippers on both side seams??

Anyway, this may seem like a petty gripe, but the truth is that task of assembling printed patterns doesn’t annoy me, even if it takes an hour an a half. What bugs me is that the assumption that even the most basic of sewing techniques, such as cutting on the fold, will be too challenging and discouraging for a beginner and the resulting repeated lowering of the bar (do we really have that little faith in people’s abilities and motivation?), combined with unnecessary environmental wastefulness which seems to run so very counter to the reasons why so many of the new generation of home sewers are attracted to making the idea of making their own clothes in the first place.

Oh well, I can’t say I didn’t get a fun skirt out of it :)

Back issues of BurdaMag are like favorite songs to me. I take them out and flip through them over and over and never get tired of them even though I know them by heart. Or at least, I thought I knew them by heart.

The first issue of Burda I ever purchased was the February 2007 issue. I was living in Germany and had just discovered Burda through a friend after she told me that she had made the gorgeous red coat she was wearing. That was the point at which I decided it was time to learn to sew for real, rather than just doing crafty stitching projects and taking the occasional stab at a dress every couple of years. I promptly went out and bought myself a Burda and to this day I’m still more comfortable with German sewing terminology than English. Anyway, I pored and pored over that issue even though as far as Burda issues goes, it’s not the greatest.

The other night, I pulled it out, dog-eared and worn, and flipped through it again. One of my least favorite features was this blue-themed one. Something about it is very 1995. Even though some of the individual pieces are not objectionable, it’s somehow entirely lacking in chic or edge, the wardrobe of a woman who cares how she looks and tries to look pretty but doesn’t have much sense of style. The whole color scheme (and don’t get me wrong, blue is my favorite color), assembly of outfits, everything is sort of blah like the 80% off clearance rack at Marshall’s:




You can probably see that some of the pieces aren’t bad.  That first suit jacket would be nice if the lapels were edited to be a little less Easter suit-y. The blazer in the middle might be a practical piece if not rendered in a fabric that attempts to mimic patchwork AND denim simultaneously (yikes!). The little short sleeved blouse is cute and versatile. But altogether, this feature always felt so lackluster and un-stylish and unexciting that I was never remotely tempted to make any of these pieces.  And then the other night, I had a closer look at this and my eyes bugged out:

And just like you sometimes find something utterly amazing on the 80% of clearance rack at Marshalls, so it was with me and this jacket. Never mind that it’s rendered in a fabric that looks like fancy rental tablecloths from a catered function, or that it is paired with wallpaper themed pants, and accessorized with a very unfortunate bag that is somewhat reminiscent of a butt in jeans. Have a look at this technical drawing:

Awesome, yes?  It reminds me of my beloved BurdaStyle Hikaru jacket, but with a shorter, sleeker fit:

Anyway, this hidden gem from my very first issue of BurdaMag might just have to go on my list, three years after the fact. I’ve got a black satin-faced wool jacket fabric that would be great for this pattern. Who knew that it was hiding amidst all that frump the whole time?

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid peeking into the mouth of the gift horse when it’s standing right in front of you. In a twist of karmic imbalance, I woke this morning, my day of departure from New York, to find an email in my inbox from BurdaStyle, telling me I had won one of their Holiday Giveaway prizes! A Threads DVD box set about fitting, a year’s subscription to Threads, and 9 issues of Sew Stylish. All this after having spent nearly two weeks selfishly running around New York, collecting beautiful yards of fabric, notions, and sewing books with which to pad my suitcase. It seems almost wickedly unfair, but not so much that I won’t happily accept the prize AND brag about it to you on my blog. But really, isn’t it about time that the sewing gods lay some smack down on me for my greed and hubris?

I didn’t enter in many of the BurdaStyle Holiday Giveaways- just the three or four that I thought I’d really like, like the serger and sewing machine and the $100 gift certificate for Mood.  I skipped out on the irons (having just won one a super nice one from Pattern Review), the craftier fabric giveaways, the accessories and gifty items. I certainly wasn’t expecting to win anything, so it was pretty exciting, especially considering that I just bought my first issue of Threads in December and had been thinking that I should subscribe. I had never really considered it in the past because the garments in Threads always feel a little… “mature” for my taste.  But as I’ve actually started to think more about workmanship and technique, I’ve started to realize what a nifty resource it is. THANK YOU, BURDASTYLE!

So, undeserving as the Selfish Seamstress is of yet another sewing windfall, she’s eagerly anticipating yet another batch of mine-mine-mine! goodies. 

And as if that weren’t enough to tempt the gods to strike me down for my gluttony, as I was doing a last pass through my parents’ place before departing for the airport for things I might have left behind, I happened upon an adorable little Burberry tote in a box in a closet. After a (very cursory) investigation into the bag’s provenance, I determined that it was an orphan that my sister had abandoned some years ago.  And so it went into the last bit of space in my suitcase. And that, my friends, is how you do Selfish right.

And don’t think for a moment that it didn’t occur to me to make a last-minute jaunt to Mood to pick up something tan and expensive to match. If I’d have just one more spare hour in NY, I would have. But that probably would have been the Selfish Seamstress’s last straw with the sewing gods.

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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