Little Red Dress & Proudest Sewing Moments

I feel smokin’ hot in this BurdaStyle dress! Good thing, since it took me two years to make it. 🙂

I’ll tell you all about it below, but first, I have a request for you. Helena and I are preparing episode 5 of the Clothes Making Mavens podcast, and we want to include you in it! What was your proudest moment in sewing? Maybe you made a complicated dress for your prom? Or maybe you finally mastered a fly zipper? Maybe, like me, it was the first garment you sewed all by yourself that you were actually able to wear out in public. Now, if I could only find that picture of me wearing that skin-tight, crushed-velvet, bell-sleeved and flare-legged jumpsuit back in the early 90s. I hear 90s style is in again…but maybe we can just leave crushed velvet lying in peace, yeah?

Please leave a comment below about your proudest sewing moment, or — even better — leave us a voice mail by calling 401-64MAVEN or recording a message via your computer’s built-in microphone at speakpipe.com/ClothesMakingMavens. We’ll include your stories in our next podcast!

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This is BurdaStyle’s Twisted Cap-Sleeve Dress (06/2014 #102B). It features a neat design element whereby the front and back pieces are cut off-centre, so when you put the dress on you have to twist the bottom to put the side seams where they should be…this results in a subtle diagonal twist around the midriff which I totally love.

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I cut and sewed most of this two years ago, and got frustrated with a too-loose, wavy neckline, so it sat in the basement cupboard with other UFOs since then. Lots of unpicking and resewing later, I’ve got a neckline that isn’t quite perfect but a lot better than it was.

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I’m actually wearing the dress backwards. Wide, plunging necklines aren’t all that flattering on me but I do love a plunging back! Since there are no bust darts on this design, it’s possible to wear it either way.

One of the issues I had with this dress was the facing in the bodice. It’s a full facing, front and back, which ends just above the waistline, like a crop top on the inside. If you look carefully in the following photo you can see the bottom of the facing causing a wonk on the left side. I have since made the facing a little narrower near the bottom edge, but that didn’t solve the problem. The jersey fabric rolls a bit at the bottom edge — despite me finishing it with the serger and pressing the shit out of it every time I wear it. What to do? I don’t want to make a narrow hem as this may be just as visible on the outside as the roll. Any advice? I think if I made this dress again I wouldn’t do the facing and would just turn in the edge around the neckline or do a neckband.

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I wore it out to a nightclub and my friend found this pic they posted on Facebook later that week…which turned out to be one of the tamer photos taken in the club that night. In a stroke of good timing, we called it a night just as others were starting to get their twerk on. There are some things better left unseen. 😉

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Thanks for stopping by for a read. Don’t forget to comment about your proudest sewing moment, k? 🙂

A Little Birdie Told Me to Sew this Top

Back for more Burda! With Birdies!

BurdaStyle Magazine 08/2015 #115A Blouse with ribbed cuffs

But first, does this happen to you?—

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Yeah, no, don’t try looking at me all cute and innocent-like. You both know you were just WRESTLING each other moments before I caught you on camera. ON TOP OF MY DELICATE FABRIC AND PATTERN PIECES. With CLAWS FULLY EXTENDED.

Bad kitties!

Ok, back to the blouse. The bird fabric is a chiffon I bought at Designer Fabrics. (I know the birds-on-all-the-clothes trend has been around an awfully long time but I still catch my breath when I see bird-patterned fabric. Or real birds, for that matter; I’m a bit of a twitcher. Although not the kind who’s willing to get out of bed before 8am. So that probably disqualifies me from being an actual twitcher…phew.) The blue fabric pictured above is a light polyester crepe I used to line the top. I didn’t do a ‘proper’ lining…I just layered the outer fabric and the the lining fabric on top of each other and sewed them up like they were one piece.

BurdaStyle Magazine 08/2015 #115A Blouse with ribbed cuffs

The pattern is from BurdaStyle magazine, August 2015 issue, model #115A:

BurdaStyle Round Neck Blouse 08/2015 #115

BurdaStyle Round Neck Blouse 08/2015 #115

BurdaStyle Round Neck Blouse 08/2015 #115

BurdaStyle Round Neck Blouse 08/2015 #115

I was a little worried about the very wide-looking neckline on Burda’s model, so I extended the front, back, and sleeve pieces an extra couple of inches at the top, then after I sewed them together I just trimmed away a neckline that suited me.

BurdaStyle Magazine 08/2015 #115A Blouse with ribbed cuffs

I’m also wearing the first-ever silver clay pendant I made, featuring a bird silhouette. Seems appropriate, even if the quality of the pendant is not quite up to par now that I’ve honed my metal clay skills a little more since I made it about 18 months ago.

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I totally LOVE this top! It’s super comfortable, like a sweatshirt, but of course it looks far more elegant than one, and I love the soft drape of these fabrics.

BurdaStyle Magazine 08/2015 #115A Blouse with ribbed cuffs

Yippeee! I be WEARING this shirt I MADE. Yes.

And while we’re talking about birds, this little cutie visited me back in July in my backyard. At first glance I thought she was just another sparrow, but she caught my attention by flying right towards me and I noticed she’s not the usual sparrow we see around Toronto. I gave her something to eat and she let me get close up and move all around taking her picture. Perhaps she’s an escaped pet? Maybe you know what kind of bird this is?

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And I’ll leave you with one of my favourite-ever photos of me and my wild bird friends.

Throwback to 2004, when I lived in Sydney, Australia, and the rainbow lorikeets used to visit my apartment balcony regularly.

Throwback to 2004, when I lived in Sydney, Australia, and the rainbow lorikeets used to visit my apartment balcony regularly. They’ve both got beaks full of the apple I was sharing with them.

Whole Lotta Cool Culottes

BurdaStyle Pleated Culottes 04/2015 #113

As I began cutting the fabric for these culottes, I knew I was either going to really hate the end result or really love it. My sewing projects lately have been leaps of faith: slightly strange patterns that I wouldn’t normally think I’d wear (yeah, culottes) and often paired with pretty bold fabric choices. (See my satin jogging pants as recent proof.) So it could go either way in terms of wearability or giveawayability. Verdict: LOVE these, and will definitely be wearing a lot!

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This is BurdaStyle pattern 04/2015 #113 – Pleated Culottes. I used a cotton-linen woven I bought at Fabricland last month.

BurdaStyle Pleated Culottes 04/2015 #113A

I had to put a dart in the back of the waistband to improve the fit (this really should have been drafted to be a curved waistband, given how wide the waistband is). Ha, I make it sound like I know enough about sewing to know that, but I learned that from my sewing instructor Dilys at Sew Be It Studio, where I just finished up a 5-week, once-a-week class called Garment Construction. I was more advanced than the other two students but I still learned a lot making these culottes as well as a dress under Dilys’ guidance. She’s also super friendly and so much fun to hang around — one of those people that’s bursting with personality.

BurdaStyle Pleated Culottes 04/2015 #113

Dilys virtually saved these pants by helping me decide what to do about the HORRIBLE GIANT FRONT PLEATS that were poofing out at the front like ridiculous clown pants. I sewed down the front pleats all the way from the waistband to the hem, but if you look at the Burda pattern they are just meant to be pleated at the waist and hanging open down the front. Ugh. As high-waisted pants, the extra volume around the tummy was not the least bit flattering. Sewing the pleats down with some top stitching made all the difference in terms of actually feeling good wearing these.

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This was my first time trying a fly zip! Thank goodness Dilys was there to walk me through it. Despite this pattern being featured in the April 2015 issue of BurdaStyle Magazine (European edition) as the “Sewing Lesson for Beginners” — which means it gets a four-page colour spread with illustrated instructions — I still wouldn’t have known what the hell to do to put the fly zip in.

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Back view. I’m a bit horrified to see that this looks like a front view with backwards feet. What the hell happened to my ass??

With these culottes I am breaking all the rules I ever read for petite gals like me: avoid wide pants cause they make you look shorter, and don’t wear large-scale prints because they will overwhelm your small frame. I CALL BULLSHIT ON THE RULES. If you’ll pardon my giant ego I think I look pretty damn good in these. 😀

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Head out on the Highway? Nah….

I was quite excited to make this amazing-on-the-model jacket: the oversize collar, the side zipper, the motorcycle-inspired design, the faux-leather trim, and the peplum are all quite au courant. I pictured myself wearing this to work and being the coolest chick in town. But pthththththththt! Not happy with the way it turned out.

This is the BurdaStyle Asymmetrical Moto Jacket, 11/2013 #117.

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Asymmetrical Moto Jacket – BurdaStyle 11/2013 #117

The sleeves are SUPER narrow, so beware if you intend to make this pattern to check if the cutting layout given for your size will actually fit around your arm. I can hardly even push these up above my wrists, despite using stretch fabric.

I had a helluva time working with the faux-leather. You can’t use pins, of course, as they leave visible holes. And, it turns out it sticks to the presser foot as you sew it. So wrapping it in tissue paper before you sew it is a must. (I figured that out on the second try.) Let me know if you figure out a way to do this while still being able to blindly sew a straight line along the edge of the leather bands…’cause I never did. In the end, after throwing away several wasted strips of leather, I ended up using fabric glue to glue the strips in place.

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I used a grey ponte knit for the body. This doesn’t make for the greatest garment after all. It’s a little too lightweight to give the giant collar enough body to sit properly…which is probably why the model in the Burda photo is holding it up behind her head:

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I really had to fart around quite a while with the collar to get it sitting in a way that it didn’t look like a chaotic pile of wrinkles around my neck, or even worse, like a shawl protecting an old woman from cold drafts. In my photos, that’s the best I could get the collar to sit and trust me, if I were to move much in this jacket it would rearrange itself very quickly. If I did this again I would do a double layer of fabric on the body & collar pieces.

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So alas, I’m feeling very disappointed tonight after several weeks of working on this. Think I’ll do a straightforward knit dress next as a balm for my troubled sewing spirit.

What do you do when something you worked on so hard turns out poorly? Straight to the shops to buy a replacement garment off the rack? Or do you have a go-to sewing pattern that you know is easy to make and will make you feel better? Or perhaps chocolate is the way to go. I have tried all three at various times. I think chocolate is the least expensive and fastest-acting solution. 🙂