Thursday, May 14, 2015

Snakeskin Southport Dress

Mixed Emotions Blog - True Bias Southport Dress

This is the True Bias Southport dress in a snakeskin print that looks smudged, or melted, or tie-dyed, I'm not sure... I love this style of dress for summer, and I made something similar last year. The vintage McCall's had ridiculous instructions though, and it was unnecessarily complicated to assemble. When I saw the Southport dress, I guessed it would be less of a hassle to sew and it definitely was, and the instructions are very clear as far as I can tell (I didn't use them throughout). I made a few fit and style changes however.

Mixed Emotions Blog - True Bias Southport Dress
I muslined the bodice after reading Coco's comment on needing to do a hollow chest adjustment which is an alteration I often need to do as well. I did have an issue with the way the neckline sat on me. Let me try to explain. If you lay the front and back bodice of the Southport dress over each other, matching center front and center back, the shoulder seams match as well. For me, it's better for the back shoulder to be a bit further away from center back. So when you sew front and back together, this allows for a bit more ease in the back than in the front. So I modified the pattern accordingly and I find it perfectly comfortable this way. I made a sketch so you can see what I mean and I hope it makes sense (the dotted line shows the front bodice).

 I also found the bodice was too big in the underarm area. The excess was all in the front so I took a wedge out from the side seams of the front bodice, removing about 2cm at the underarm.

Mixed Emotions Blog - True Bias Southport Dress

As you can see, I skipped the button band in front. I think it's a really nice feature and surely would like to use it next time around,  but I didn't think it would work out too well in this very soft rayon fabric. And I used self bias binding instead of the bias tape facing the pattern instructs you to use (I first removed the seam allowance from the neckline and armscye for this).

Mixed Emotions Blog - True Bias Southport Dress

The pattern comes with with two skirt options, one maxi and one mini. I used the pattern for the long skirt, which is more A-lined than the short one, but shortened it to knee length.

Mixed Emotions Blog - True Bias Southport Dress

Finally, instead of one long drawstring, I cut two separate 50 cm pieces, and then connected them with a 50 cm length of flat elastic. I think drawstrings work better this way: they stay in place better and have more give.

Mixed Emotions Blog - True Bias Southport Dress

I'm very pleased with this dress and expect to wear it a lot this summer. The weather has been so chaotic lately, I wish it would settle down so I could wear my pretty dresses!

Mixed Emotions Blog - True Bias Southport Dress

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Floral Shirtdress - McCall 6600

Mixed Emotions - McCall 6600
I love shirtdresses: they are so versatile! You can dress them up or down, button them all the way, or part of the way, or wear them entirely unbuttoned as long jackets. The sleeves provide sun protection, but can be rolled up for a more casual look. I could easily envision a closet full of shirtdresses, in all types of fabrics and for every occasion. Add a cardigan, and you're set!

Mixed Emotions - McCall 6600

Blue and green are one of my favorite color combinations and I fell for these deep, rich colors. The blue is a bit purply, which I think makes it even more interesting. Bright, happy colors are wonderful for spring, but I also love wearing DARKER shades because they are unexpected and add a bit of drama. However deep in hue, this cotton fabric is very lightweight, so it feels nice and airy.

Mixed Emotions - McCall 6600
I've made this pattern BEFORE and I love the fit and style. This time I wanted it to button all the way down, so I added a button band. It's more like a shirt this way.

The pattern comes with a rather wide sash, but I feel more comfortable wearing slimmer belts. So I made a very long narrow sash that I can wrap twice around my waist. I can also wear the dress unbelted for maximum comfort.

Mixed Emotions - McCall 6600

I also added side-seam pockets, which I reinforced with bar-tacks.

With these few changes, I think I've come pretty close to my ideal shirtdress. Now I need to make more! I love the feeling of having one type of garment that is such a no-brainer, I could wear it every day for the entire season. It makes it so much easier to get dressed in the morning. What's your go-to garment?

Mixed Emotions - McCall 6600

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Jacquard Coco

Schnittchen Coco
I've been on a mission to find patterns with shoulders that fit me because they are the most difficult part of my body to fit. My shoulders are square and angled forward, and Burda's shoulders, for instance, never fit properly and require all sorts of adjustments. I figure if I can collect different types of shoulder blocks that fit, then I should be able to use them to adjust any pattern I like. That's the plan anyway.

Schnittchen Coco

Scnittchen's Malu Jacket's shoulders were spot on, but of course dolman sleeves are never as much of a struggle as set-in sleeves. So I was very curious to try the Coco Jacket for a fitted set-in jacket shoulder. Plus, it seemed like it could be a great staple pattern to have.  As it turns out, I am very pleased with the fit. The shoulders are square enough and have that forward tilt. I also really like that the sleeve is a two piece, so even though it is quite slim, it's very comfortable.

These were my alterations:

- Slight swayback adjustment (the pattern already has some shaping in the back).
- Shortened the sleeves a couple centimeters (the length was neither here nor there on me).
- Took in the side seams at the hips. This pattern has a lot more shaping than your usual boxy jacket, and I'm pretty straight up and down.

Schnittchen Coco

We took these pictures in a village named Créon in the Entre-Deux-Mers region (famous for its wine) near Bordeaux. The central plaza, called Bastide, with arches running all around is typical of the region. It was windy, as you can see, but so nice and sunny. I'm so happy spring is finally here!

So, the fabric... It is a cotton jacquard.  Pretty, right? But it frays so badly!

This is what happens pretty much as soon as you cut it, so I had to serge all the edges immediately. Even if you interface it, it frays. After I'd sewn on one of the sleeves, it pulled out partly from the seam and I had recut it and resew it entirely. It was a quite battle!

Here's what the wrong side of the fabric looks like:

I actually really like the way the wrong side looks because the colors seem more vibrant, and I considered using it as my right side. But I was concerned that all those threads would get caught on things, and this fabric was giving me enough of a hard time already. The right side is more subtle, but it's pretty too.

When I run into this much trouble as I'm making a garment, I tend to prepare for the outcome to be a disappointment. Does this happen to you too? I hate to give up though, so I never leave a garment unfinished and I always finish what I'm working on before I allow myself to start something new. As it turns out, it was worth it because I really like this little jacket after all. And I also know this basic pattern is a great staple that I can use over and over again.

Schnittchen Coco

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Coat

Burdastyle 08/2014-102

Spring is definitely on its way. Afternoons can be quite warm when the sun is out, but mornings and evenings tend to be much cooler here throughout spring, so I wanted a lighter weight wool coat in a soft color. And by the way, this is my second green coat!

Burdastyle 08/2014-102

The pattern is from the August 2014 issue of Burdastyle. I was drawn to the oversized pockets and the curved drop shoulders. Drop shoulders have a reputation for making broad shoulders, such as my own, look even bigger. Maybe they do, but I like them anyway. I think in this case the roundness has a softening effect.

Burdastyle 08/2014-102
 I made very few alterations. I raised the pockets by about 3 cm because they were really low, reduced the front overlap a bit because I like my buttons, or snaps in this case, not to be too far from the edge (about 1,2 cm works well for a coat, I think).

Burdastyle 08/2014-102
The pattern features a wide pleat at center back, but it is intended for a more lightweight cotton fabric. I thought my mid-weight wool would be too bulky for the pleat, so I removed the center back seam entirely.
I really like the seaming detail at the back shoulder, running down the sleeve. It has no function other than adding interest to the back view. I interfaced that seam because it worried me that it was cut on the bias, so I figured it could use some support, and it turned out fine.

The fabric is a kind of tweed that looks like a solid, but up close you can see that there are variations between different shades of light green, going from a pale chartreuse to a more earthy beigey green.
I love those bronze snaps!

The paisley lining is a rather substantial viscose twill I've had in my stash for several years. I didn't intend to line this coat with it, but these two fabrics are so happy together, it was made to be! Interesting optical effect here: I look armless, Venus de Milo style ;)

I used this tutorial for sewing the hem/facing/lining junction. Such a great technique! I highly recommend it.

The pockets are lined edge to edge in the same fabric and sewn on by hand with tiny fell stitches. It may not be as sturdy as machine sewing, but I like the sleek look. Pockets and fronts are stabilized with a soft weft-insertion interfacing.

So this is really a transition piece. I feel like sewing with the season this year, rather than ahead of it which is my usual strategy. This way I can wear the things I make immediately!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Waistless Dresses

I've done a lot of thinking since last week about what dress styles would best suit my body shape. I decided to go through some Burda magazine archives to refine my ideas. I always use Merine's Pinterest boards for this sort of thing. She's been keeping them updated for years and has them organized by category (dresses, skirts, coats....) so I find them extremely helpful. Thanks for making this wonderful ressource available to us all, Merine!
So, I gathered some line drawings and I thought I'd share them here, in case they might be helpful to others.

I see 6 categories of dresses that don't mark the waist and that I could possibly envision myself wearing. I draw the line at dresses with lots of gathering above or below the bust: that's just too much volume for me! So keep in mind that these are my subjective choices, based on my personal taste and experience and they might not be ideal for you. I'm showing only Burda patterns here because it's easy, but I'm sure there are plenty of similar styles in other brands.
Most of these styles are pretty classic, so I think you could wear them for years!

 First, the shift dress

These dresses skim over your midsection and create a flattering uninterrupted vertical line. Burda has some excellent shift dresses, and I especially love this one, with its interesting insets and cute hip pockets:

Burda 06/2013-116
This one is all over the internet and it seems flattering on everybody, plus it has sleeves:

Burda 09/2012-109
And here's a very simple, but very smart looking version, perfect for summer (jewels optional):

Burda 04/2013-109

Second is the sack dress.

These are a roomier than shift dresses.
I made this tunic dress last spring and I wear it either belted at the hips or unbelted.


Now this is as basic as it gets, but it would be kind of perfect for summer in a pretty cotton print:

This one is slightly egg shaped and I think it has really interesting style lines.


Third is the empire dress.

These do often tend to look really youthful. This one for instance I think is gorgeous, but I wouldn't sew it for myself. On the right person though, that person being Sasha, it would look amazing ;)


I could see myself wearing this one though. I think it would be really pretty for summer in a flowy fabric:


I know this next one has a lot going on, but I've seen some simplified versions, sleeveless or shortened, that were really beautiful. Burda has lots of empire maxi dresses, but on most of them the skirt is gathered all around which isn't necessarily a very flattering look. This one has strategically placed gathers that would create a lovely drape in a fluid fabric :


Fourth is the drop waist.

I personally need a drop waist to hit at the high hip. Depending on your shape you might get away with a much lower waistline. The patterns I've selected for this section all have long sleeves for some reason, but you know you can modify them as you please.

I like this looser, fluid style. This is very "années folles":


Hmm, I'd never even noticed this one before, but it's nice and casual, and those welts on the hip line add interest. This one is really low though, but could easily be raised to high hip. This dress is from Burda Easy Fashion Magazine, and there are many different versions, short sleeved, sleeveless, with pleated or flouncy skirt, peter pan collar, patch pockets...

Burda Easy Fashion Magazine, Winter 2012-5D

I've made this next one twice and it's my favorite dress for the beach. Any shirtdress belted over the hips would give you that drop waist look.


Fifth, diagonal interest

Through clever draping or piecing, these dresses keep the eye moving on the diagonal so it won't linger on your waistline.

This particular pattern is a classic, and I've been meaning to make it since forever. Maybe next winter!


This next one is pretty bodycon, but in a substantial enough fabric, it could do wonders for your figure, especially with the colorblocking shown in version B:


This one has a strategically placed draped overlay and calls for a stretch woven, so it should be more forgiving than many knit wrap styles:


Finally, the faker

These dresses have clever style lines which, through optical illusion, might effectively fake a waist.

This one is gorgeous, and it has pockets!


This one would not only make your waist appear slimmer, but also add curves to your hips, if you need them:

And this one may seem unexciting compared to the previous two, but its geometry is perfectly balanced. The waist seams on the sides are broken up by vertical lines so the effect is slimming.  I've seen some gorgeous versions on the Russian Burda website's user forum.


Will I make any of these for spring? I haven't made up my mind for sure yet. The purpose of this little project was to consider some possibilities, and that's just what I'm doing at this point: considering. Many of these styles are a lot more structured than what I'm used to wearing but I think it might be fun to try something different. I really do like that first shift dress!

how about you? Do any of these styles catch your fancy?