The perfect work dress

Well, I’m still working on that jacket, with just the hems to finish! I swear I’ll finish this weekend. In the meantime, I finally wore this dress, which has been almost finished since August and finished since December. I knew it would make its debut at a board meeting, and it finally had its chance in February.

 

I love this dress. The fabric is interesting but subtle, the fit is spot on, and it has stretch so it’s also quite comfortable. The pattern is Burda 9/15 #116. I caught my breath when I first saw it in the magazine, and knew I had to make it. Now I have to make it again in a fabric that actually shows the seaming! This fabric is by Halston, via Fabric Mart, a stretch poly suiting with an interesting pebbly texture.

 

Okay, after all that praise, there is one thing I don’t like, and one thing I acknowledge isn’t perfect but I don’t care about. I flat out dislike the flare in the skirt back. I had a RTW dress with this shaping years ago, and didn’t like it then either. Totally forgot about that! If/when I make this again, I will change the back to a plain straight silhouette with a vent. The other quibble is that the color isn’t the most flattering, but it’s not too terrible.

In the end, it doesn’t matter and I love the dress anyway. It’s sure to be a go-to for quite some time!

Burda Wrap Dress

 

I started October sewing with the wrap dress from last year’s October Burda Magazine (#112) that I’ve had my eye on. It’s one of those designs I wouldn’t normally go for, and I’m not sure how I feel about those puff sleeves. The rest of the dress is quite good, though.
Look at the photos! I know they are terrible, but it’s actually me in them and I am using a remote! Big step forward. Now I need to find a place to stand up my phone that doesn’t require climbing on a chair, although, honestly, I think it looks better on my dress form and am considering just giving up on real photos.
I didn’t have suitable fabric in the stash for this dress, and got this poly crepe on sale at JoAnn. It’s a good weight for this dress, but all the details totally disappear. I’m not happy about the visible print repeat either, but it’s most noticeable from the back and I won’t see that part in day-to-day wear.
The sleeves with the inset drew me to the pattern in the first place, but I don’t know. I had trouble setting them in because burda did not provide enough notches. Just one for the shoulder seam and one in the front. There was no indication that you should or should not ease the sleeve in aside from the gathered sleeve cap, and I’m pretty sure my gathering/easing is too centered, leading to bigger puffs than intended. I’m going to try wearing it with sleeves, but I predict they’ll come off before too long.

Anna, a new favorite

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Months and months and months ago everyone was making BHL Anna dresses and raving about them, and I always thought hm, that’s a nice dress, nothing special, but nice. Then I caved and bought it, and last month I finally made it up. The, oh, it’s nice I suppose, thought persisted, even when it was on my dress form, but then I tried it on. Oh my goodness! There’s something amazing about the proportions of this dress. I feel wonderful in it!

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The dress you see here is actually my second Anna. The first is made out of a navy cotton/poly broadcloth and it looks like a faded, sad thing with stiff sleeves in photos, though I love the way it looks on. The success of that dress made me pick up the same pattern almost immediately to make this dress for a family wedding. It was a fantastic wedding guest dress – simple, comfortable, flattering, just so easy. It performed well when I had to run (seriously run) around helping my husband put hundreds of beet tarts together too!

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The fabric is one of my beloved J. Crew floral chiffons that I got from Fabric Mart about a year ago. It’s not a very sheer chiffon, but I underlined with black to make things simple. I could take the waist in about an inch, but decided to leave it as is for now. I knew this wedding was going to be more stressful than usual, and would rather have my dress feel a bit big than the other way around!

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This dress actually almost didn’t get finished in time. I still had a hem to do the morning of the wedding, and while I thought I would have enough time before we left my help was suddenly seriously required for the tarts and it got pretty iffy. Without even realizing it was the same dress right away, I assigned my blue Anna as a back up – I think that proves that this is a good pattern for me!

Finally, here is the assortment of desserts Eric made for the reception: beet tarts, bouchons, and green tea sables. This big tart was for his sister the bride – the others were just about 2″ in diameter and didn’t have any flowers. It was a lovely, fun day, and a week later we’re almost recovered!

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drape drape!

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For the big spring fundraiser, we held a fashion show featuring Erdem (whose designs I love – so many amazing florals!). I had a lot going on and almost wore a simple black dress, but decided to make something at the very last minute. It was either going to be a myrtle or the v-neck dress from the first Drape Drape book and I’m SO happy I took the second route!

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You’ll notice the bodice is totally different than the illustration. That’s because it turned out big (?!) and was mostly obscene. I just subbed a hastily drawn bodice based on the Renfrew, which I then took in a lot. It’s fine.

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you can really tell here that I put it on the dress form backwards… it’s so snug on the form I didn’t want to risk popping stitches to fix my mistake!

But, oh this skirt! It’s amazing! I love the way it looks on, so elegant and graceful. The skirt is much fuller at the hem than I thought it would be, which makes it extra comfortable. Perfect for running around working an event.

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My favorite part, though, was the process of putting it together. I can’t even say how much fun I had! Despite the complex look it was quite straightforward and satisfying to make – just match notches following the diagram and that’s that. It took less than an hour to put the skirt together, and if I hadn’t had to redo the bodice it would have been a 3-hour dress, maybe 4 if you count tracing. You could make this the night before an event and in complete honesty say, “oh, this? I just whipped this up last night,” as if it were nothing.

I’m really looking forward to more drape drape projects!

next up... morris!
next up… morris!

Linden and Coco, black ponte duo

Hi there! It’s been over two months! For some reason I’ve dropped off the internet for a while, both with posting my own makes and commenting on others. Part of me is bothered – I love reading and commenting on blogs! – but I’m also trying to accept it. I’m just not into the internet world right now. I’m sure it will pass.

I am amassing a backlog of projects, though, and I spent some time this morning taking and editing photos. Of course, lighting is bad in the morning and the fabric and fit of the clothes emphasize my dress form’s body irregularities. Oh well, this spring is just not a high point in the life of my blog.

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First up is the semi-fail of the post: the Coco dress from the Little Black Dress book. I actually loved this dress at first, it was fun and easy to put together, I love the pockets, and it looked great on, but it’s not long for this world. The super soft ponte started pilling before I was even finished with the dress, and to make matters worse cat hair sticks to it like crazy. Even my heavy-duty pet lint roller doesn’t do much. The death knoll, though, is that it shrunk a bit more in the second wash, so now the waist and hem are a little high and I feel like a kid in it. I think I’m going to turn it into a skirt.

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Next up is a huge win out of the same fabric, plus a remnant of my beloved blue print sweater knit from JoAnn. It’s still piling and I don’t even try to get rid of the cat hair, but it’s just a casual sweatshirt so it doesn’t much matter.

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The pattern is the Grainline Linden sweatshirt, and I just love it. It’s simple, casual, and a little shapeless, but I wear it every single weekend without fail. I see more of these for the upcoming chilly San Francisco summer. If I color block with this pattern again I’m going to raise the seam a little, the seam goes right over the bustline and doesn’t lie perfectly flat, but I don’t even care with this one!

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Finally, I leave you with a douglas iris that has somehow survived in this sea of ice plant. I love most plants and flowers, but the awful, invasive ice plant is not one of them…

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Emerald and Violet Garden Dress

It’s been awhile… I always feel a little bad when bloggers come back from a hiatus with apologies and explanations as if they owe it to their readers, but I get it, it’s hard to just jump back in. I don’t even have an excuse – I’ve just been unable to muster the energy to do the photos+post thing. I also have such a backlog of garments to photograph and the inevitable (for me) months of delay before a garment is finally photographed was getting me down. I want to share what I’m doing now, what I’m excited about now! Unfortunately that’s just not a reality for me right now, at least with me modeling, but I’ve made a decision. Instead of the months of delay problem… we now get the purple dress form problem!

I don’t even care, though, when it comes to sharing this dream-come-true dress.

V1395 fullfrontThis is Vogue 1395, a Rebecca Taylor design, made up in a silk-cotton voile from Fabric Mart. This was one of those J. Crew fabrics that so many of us jumped on, and I really love it. It’s soft and light with just a little sheen, and the colors, not at all like the photos, are rich emerald and violet.

Vogue 1395, image from Pattern Review

I live in a place that is completely fogged in for a few months of the year, and I am terribly thankful for the huge windows that let in a ton of light, even in pea soup conditions. They make for really hard photo-taking, though, so much light and so little blank wall space. I doubt this color would photograph well anyway, though. I took photos at night for my fabric stash app and took in-progress Instagram photos at various times of day in various rooms, and they hall have this washed out color. It’s emerald, you’ll have to take my word for it!

V1395 back and sideThe second I saw this dress I felt like it was designed just for me, and I like the design even more now that it’s done. The back is a double layer, with the overlay extending into ties at the front. I love this feature! Some reviewers complained that the wrap at the armhole is too low and you can see undergarments, and that is true. Luckily, I recently made a slip out that will always be worn with this dress. The purples coordinate perfectly, and I don’t mind at all that it shows. Secretly I kind of like it…

Here's the slip, V8888, made out of Bemberg lining, which is by far the most difficult fabric I've ever worked with. It's nice to wear, though!
Here’s the slip, V8888, made out of bias-cut Bemberg lining, which is by far the most difficult fabric I’ve ever worked with. It’s nice to wear, though!

Another common complaint about this pattern is the difficulty of the narrow hems on the ties, especially when made in a slippery fabric. I can guarantee I would have had problems with this on the pointy tie ends on my machine, but I just hand rolled the entire thing. I learned to hand roll hems when making pocket squares for a friend’s wedding, and fell in love with the technique. It is so fun to do, and I couldn’t love the results more. The tiny hem is so neat and tidy, and it has a soft, handmade look that I really like. Handmade is a key descriptor here, this is not a RTW look. Even after pressing the hems flat I think you can tell that this was done by hand. For the sake of durability I also take big enough bites of fabric that you can see the stitching as well. I don’t mind that at all, I’m using stitches and thread to make this, why not let the medium show? I know it’s not for everyone, though.

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Here’s a snippet of the tie where you can see right and wrong sides of the hand rolled hem.

So, I love this dress. It’s just the sort of garment I feel like myself in and the little details make it special. I haven’t actually worn it yet because I had to get around to hemming that slip, which I hand rolled yesterday while watching the new Cosmos series. I think it will get its debut tomorrow!

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A Floaty Cocktail Dress

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It’s been a while since I wore this dress, but it just takes so long to get photos done! I was planning on just rewearing a dress to our spring event because all I want to sew lately is comfy basics. But then Fabric Mart had all those J. Crew silk/cottons on sale, and I saw this teal/black poly taffeta for $1/yard and just added a few yards to the cart thinking that in my line of work I’ll probably use it someday. Then our event chairs announced the theme of the event was going to be mid-century vintage, the taffeta and a large-scale floral J. Crew chiffon ended up next to each other in my shameful fabric overflow pile, Gertie’s lovely cocktail dress popped into my mind, and this it just happened. When everything aligns like that you have to go with it!

Butterick 5882, image from Pattern Review

I bought this pattern during a JoAnn $1 sale because I thought it was beautiful, but it’s not a style I saw myself in at all. Honestly, I never planned to make it. This dress just had to be, though, and I actually do like wearing it. The fabric, which was surprisingly easy to sew and looks pretty good for the price, just swishes and floats around you. It’s awfully fun to wear! The dress came together fairly quickly, and I really enjoyed making the pleated bra part. I’m always drawn to wearing simple shapes, but I am finding that I just love the puzzle of a more complicated pattern.

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This dress was just a joy. So often sewing can be full of minor struggles, but once in a while you get that dream project where fabric, pattern, style, fit, everything just happens as it should. I was so happy to wear this dress, and I got a lot of compliments at the event from our super-stylish board members.

As pretty as this dress is, though, it does have a problem. Full circle skirt + weightless fabric + a puff of wind from a lobby door opening = me flashing the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel. My skirt was up over my ears on all sides. Luckily it was before the night started, I was just greeting a couple of our volunteers (they got a real kick out of it), and I favor the most modest of undies. I don’t really know what to do moving forward, though. I thought about trying to weigh the skirt down a bit, but I don’t want to lose the swishiness or drape of the light skirt. It might just be a strictly indoor dress, and one that I may wear a more fitted half slip under… just in case!

Photo May 18, 12 11 29 PM