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.

02/2013-121

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

06/2011-107
This one is slightly egg shaped and I think it has really interesting style lines.

02/2011-118


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 ;)

12/2014-127


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

12/2012-110


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 :

12/2011-106




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":

11/2010-112

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.

07/2009-109


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!

09/2012-118

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:

02/2012-117


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:

01/2010-117

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!

09/2013-134


This one would not only make your waist appear slimmer, but also add curves to your hips, if you need them:
09/2012-121

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.

09/2014-102

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?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Faux Suede Wrap Dress



This project began with a fabric. I had this stretchy faux suede, really lovely,  velvety, and with a lot of drape, and It seemed a natural for a wrap dress. I did consider making a shirtdress, because I love shirtdresses, and because : Halston...


But my fabric was very different from his. 70s faux suede was much stiffer and with no stretch, and I just didn't think it would work. I did use a 70s pattern for my wrap dress though, this Edith Head for Vogue number:


I love 70s styles and I think pattern enveloppes were often really beautiful at the time. Since I have collected a few, and have been meaning to sew more from them, I've decided to join the Vintage Pattern Pledge over at A Stitching Odyssey. I won't promise to sew a predetermined number of vintage patterns, because it seems too arbitrary. I don't like to plan too much with my sewing and would rather just go with the flow. But taking the pledge will help keep on my mind that sewing these beauties up is better than just keeping them in a drawer, untouched. So here goes...

I pledge to sew some of my favorite vintage patterns this year, specifically patterns from the 70s.



So, back to my dress. The cool thing about this fabric is you can leave the edges raw. No need to finish the seam allowances and instead of turning the hem up, I cut it with a rotary cutter... veeery carefully. And I think now that the best way to explore the qualities of this fabric would be in a style with all raw edges and no darts. Because of its softness, it really isn't great for sewing neat darts. Mine all have dimples at the end, as you can see here. Plus this fabric doesn't like the iron, so it is better to keep the seams to a minimum. I do hope to find more of this fabric and I think I will make something very different with it next time!



So, going forward toward spring, I'm sewing a mid-season coat right now, and I know I'll need to sew some more dresses. I'm thinking a lot about finding the best styles for my shape, because in all honesty, no matter how alluring wrap styles can be, a thick belt around my waist is not the most flattering option for me. Instead, I think I ought to focus on either empire styles like this one I made last year, Green Twist Dress, or dresses that belt at the hips rather than the waist. It's hard because the vast majority of pretty dress patterns on the market seem to have a defined waist.
If you're in the same predicament, I'd love to hear which dress styles you're happiest with and if you've found great patterns to sew them with!



Thursday, January 29, 2015

Birthday Dress - Vogue 1422



Vogue 1422, Tracy Reese

My daughter asked me to make her a dress for her birthday and I was overjoyed, because really, it's so much more fun to sew pretty dresses than my usual boring basics. I would sew more for her if she'd let me, but I have learned that she'll only wear the clothes she has specifically requested. And the things she does ask for, she tends to wear a lot. She picked the pattern, Vogue 1422, a Tracy Reese design. She was attracted to the classic style which reminded her of Audrey Hepburn. She also picked the fabric, a silk blend cloqué in very bright shades of pink, shot with silver threads. She has always loved pink and I love that she hasn't outgrown it!


The pattern is designed with an organza underskirt in addition to the lining. I skipped the underskirt because, even though the fabric is rather outrageous, this is meant to be an everyday dress. She'll wear it to school or wherever she likes and it needs to be washable. The pattern also calls for different types of lining for bodice and skirt. I lined everything in Bemberg.

Vogue 1422, Tracy Reese

When I first muslined the bodice, it looked like a shapeless sack. I had to completely reshape it and ended up making three muslins. Although she is tall, my daughter has a petite torso and the bodice needed to be shortened a lot. The pattern has lengthen/shorten lines at the waist, but I had to take tucks in the upper chest and upper back as well, and also take in the shoulder seams. The back waist needed to be taken in quite a bit, and after playing around with the back waist darts, I ended up drafting princess seams instead, which also solved another issue: gaping armholes. You might spot the princess seam here:


Here's what the wrong side of the fabric looks like. It is backed with very fine synthetic threads that melt at the touch of an iron! Also this fabric frays like crazy, so I had to serge all the edges as soon as I cut them.


It feels so good to be sewing and blogging again after a long break (I was very busy). I'm thinking of spring now and planning some seasonal transition projects.

Last year I sewed her a shirt, which you can see here if you like : Birthday shirt


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hugs.

2015 got off to an awful start here in France. We all went from shock to sadness. Many people found solace in the demonstrations of solidarity. For me, there was something really ominous in these gatherings. I can't help feeling sick to my stomach, because as we all know, this thing isn't over.
So I just want to give anyone out there who needs it a big hug. I know I need it.

Sara.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Magenta Wrap Cardigan


I love this color!
It's amazing the effect colors can have on one's mood. Putting on a bright sweater helps take the dreariness out of winter.


This is based on McCall's 6559, the same pattern I used here, but with even more modifications.
I originally cut it the same way as my yoga wrap, but this jersey being more stable and less drapey, it just didn't work as well. I decided it needed more structure and added bands and ties.
I still have mixed feelings about ties on a cardigan. For me, a cardigan should be easy to put on and take off, and ties tend to be fiddly. At least in this one, I don't have to thread them through any loops. Plus the fabric, a fine wool/cotton blend is lightweight enough that I can wear it all day and forget about it. If it were heavier, I would want to take it off as soon as I step inside.





I can also tie it up more tightly like a traditional ballet wrap. It would work well this way worn as a top, with nothing underneath.
My ties are just long enough to come around to the front in this case. I couldn't make them any longer than this as my fabric isn't very wide and I already had to piece them at the side seams.



This cardigan is entirely constructed on the serger. The only slightly complicated part was figuring out how to manage the transition where the band becomes a tie. Here's how I did it (I wouldn't be surprised if there was a better way): The band is folded lengthwise, then serged onto the cardigan. So this part of the serging ends where the body of the cardigan ends. The tie parts are then serged inside out, going only so far as to leave enough of an opening to turn them right side out. Finally, the opening is slip-stitched shut. Does this make any sense at all?


I left the edges of the sleeve openings at the wrists raw. I like them that way.

What are your favorite winter brights?







Friday, December 12, 2014

I Made a Raglan Sleeve Sweater Dress Too!

New Look 6298


...That's what I thought when I saw Morgan's gorgeous dress yesterday.
Her fabric is much more interesting than the one I used, but mine was perfect for the look I was going for: I had tried on a dress at COS that I really liked. I had a similar fabric, a wool blend double knit, and a pattern at home that seemed appropriate, so I knew what my next project would be. Well, it's not the same fabric of course (I so wish I could get my hands on some of COS' fabrics!), and the shape of the dress in the shop was actually quite different than this : looser, boxier, but still, the overall feel is similar to me.

New Look 6298

These pictures are an experiment. I don't want to be standing out in the cold in anything less than a coat, and all of our walls at home are covered in books and nick-nacks which would be very distracting. So I tried standing in front of/on a sheet. Looks a bit like I'm floating in space, doesn't it? Or even like a cut-out. So I'm thinking it would be better to have the sheet only as a backdrop, but have the floor show under my feet. Also, the lighting needs to be improved.
Anyway, getting back to the dress, the pattern is New Look 6298. I skipped the pockets. I love a dress with pockets but those particular ones, I wasn't sure of. I went down a size and I think it's just right that way. No fitting alterations other than adding length, and I'm really glad it fits so well over my square shoulders right out of the enveloppe. I'm sure the shoulder dart helps:



 I did have a bit of a problem with the neckline, but that was due to my fabric not having enough stretch. I had to make the band longer than the pattern piece and then, once sewn in, it wouldn't lay flat, so I ended up folding it under halfway and slipstitching in place so all that's left is a thin binding. This resulted in a slightly lowered neckline.



The nice thing about taking pictures inside is my kitty can participate. She kept attacking the sheet, trying to claw her way through it. She's the best sewing companion though, always inspecting my work, and her fur is the softest silk velvet you can imagine.





Friday, November 28, 2014

My Winter Uniform: Slouchy Pants and Sweater.

Burda 7250

This is my favorite combo for winter. The concept of having a style uniform has been very popular lately, well here is mine: a pair of slouchy pants and a sweater. It's what I was wearing most days last winter (alternating with my sack dresses), and what I want to wear this year as well. I love the track pants everyone has been sewing, but I don't think they are as versatile as a classic pair of pants, and honestly, these are just as comfortable.

Burda 7250

The pants are Burda 7250. I've sewn this pattern several times before, and made a number of modifications along the way. My last pair had all the alterations I want for this pattern, so this time around I was able to simply pull it out, cut and sew it up without any changes.

Here's how my pants differ from the original pattern:
- shaped waistband rather than straight
- front slant pockets
- single welt pocket in back
- legs narrowed slightly
- length added so they scrunch up at the hem.



The fabric is a stretchy wool blend which is extremely comfortable, and has a nice heavy drape. However, it tends to snag really easily. I have some pulled threads to show for some of the pinning I did during construction. These pants are bound to age quickly, unfortunately, but I will get as much wear as possible out of them.
Have you seen pictures of Vivienne Westwood with her pilling cashmeres and threadbare skirts? I really admire her for that. I find her attitude so refreshing, when all the style "gurus" seem to be telling us that we must constantly be sorting through our clothes and getting rid of anything that basically doesn't look new.


The sweater is a Fitzpatterns Kate batwing top (unfortunately no longer available on their website).

Update: I couldn't find the Kate Batwing top on the Fitzpatterns website, but you can download it for free here!
Note: for this top, I added a neckband and cuffs, which are not included in the pattern. And since this a slim batwing, it's very important to use a knit fabric that stretches both ways.

 I have made so many tops from this pattern! I love that the sleeve is a rather slim batwing, and it sews up really fast.
I used a wonderful wool/mohair double knit which has a soft and slightly fuzzy surface. I bought this fabric several years ago in Paris and originally intended for it to be a wrap dress, but I soon realized it was too soft for that. I think you need a knit with a bit more structure for a dress, especially in a color like this. So it took me a long time to come around to the idea that it had to be a top (or two tops, I have enough left for another). It was a bit of a let-down at first but I'm happy now. Realistically, this sweater will get a lot more wear than a peach colored dress would have.

Burda 7250