Does This Look Handmade?

What makes something look handmade? And is that a good thing or a bad thing? Those are the questions Helena and I are asking your opinion on for the next episode of the Clothes Making Mavens Podcast. Sometimes I worry if someone asks me “did you make that?” — why do you ask, is there something wrong with it?? is usually my first thought. On the other hand, friends are now asking me almost every day if I made what I’m wearing, regardless of whether I actually made it or bought it at the store, so I guess that’s a vote of confidence in my sewing skills. The question for many of us is whether we want what we’re wearing to have a ‘handmade look’ to it. And what does that mean, exactly? Does that bring to mind the thought of “Becky-Home-Ecky” projects? Or gorgeous, one-of-a-kind creations that no one else has? Do you embrace both?

Why don’t you leave me a comment or a voicemail and tell me what you think? You can call 401-64-MAVEN, or click below to use your computer’s built-in microphone to leave a message. It would be so cool to include your voice on our podcast!

Here’s a recent handmade creation of mine. And it has an absolute dead giveaway sign that it’s handmade.

NewLook 6210 dress in Art Gallery Tiny Dancer fabric in Midnight

The pattern is New Look 6210, View D.

I was in the mood for an easy-going summer tank dress with a racerback which is why I picked up this pattern. But for some reason I chose to do the v-neck version with a fuller back instead. Maybe because I find v-necks are more flattering on me than u-necks, but I seem to forget so easily that sewing v-necks is the bane of my existence! It’s always a struggle to get the point of the v looking good.


I also didn’t realize just how much positive ease is built into this pattern — it came out huge. When I first popped it on for fit I lamented to my husband that I had made myself a Soviet-era Russian house dress. A sack, really. I had to hack away at the sides, the back, the shoulders — everything — to get it to fit. Here’s one weird hack I used on the back to try to give the dress a bit of waist definition:


I considered adding darts, but instead did a couple of pleats, folded in toward the centre back seam and stitched across.


It’s not perfect, but it improved the overall shape of the dress dramatically, and adds a bit of interest. I don’t even care that it looks a lot like THIS, from Kurt Vonnegut’s book Breakfast of Champions:


But that little hack is not even the handmade dead giveaway! If you’ve ever hemmed a knit with a twin needle before, I *KNOW* this has happened to you, too. I stitched around the armhole with a twin needle (the original armhole band having long ago been hacked off for a better fit — and please, no, don’t ask me why I didn’t adjust the fit before sewing on the armhole band, thanks), and then got to work trimming away the excess fabric as close to the twin-needle stitching as possible. You know how this ends. SNIIIIIIP!!! Feels like the scissors just bit into something they shouldn’t have bit into. You know that feeling. Yes, I cut a chunk out of the dress itself just under the armhole:


I think that little hole could be considered a true mark of handmade-edness, no? Lucky for me, I don’t think it’s terribly noticeable so I’m just rollin’ with it.


The fabric is Art Gallery Tiny Dancer knit in Midnight, which I ordered from (no affiliation). It’s got white dandelion puffs on a steel-blue background with dashes of bright spring green in the centre of the dandelions. It was the spring green that got me hooked on needing this fabric, but I was a bit disappointed in it in person. The fabric is good quality, but the base fabric is white with the blue printed on top so when it stretches some white shows through. Also, the blue isn’t as saturated as I would like; it’s kind of a dull greyish-blue. A sharp navy would’ve made me like this much better. This was my first time ordering from and I was very pleasantly shocked to find the order on my doorstep within 24 hours. This was coming from Georgia, USA, and I live in Toronto, Canada. Wow. Shipping rates were actually reasonable, too. I did have to pay duty to the good old government of Canada on delivery but access to fabrics I can’t find around here and such a quick delivery time was worth it.


Next summer I will try this pattern again to make a striped racerback tank dress, but I’ll be sure to adjust the pattern before cutting out to remove the positive ease.

So long summer! It’s been nice sewin’ ya.


Have you caught the latest episode of the Clothes Making Mavens Podcast? Listeners tell us about their proudest sewing moments, Helena and I chat about where we get our sewing inspiration from, and Maris drops some knowledge about some sewing machine presser feet you could be putting to good use.

Clothes Making Mavens Podcast Episode 5

If you’d like to be featured on our next podcast, don’t forget to get in touch and tell us your thoughts on what makes something look handmade! Can’t wait to hear from you. 🙂


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 We’ll include your stories in our next podcast!



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.


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.


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.


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. 😉

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 1.06.15 PM

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

Is it a Bird? Is it a Crane? No, it’s a Canard*!

*Canard: french for duck. Also means a misleading/unfounded rumour or story. Or a beautiful dress that you’ll never wear.

Check out this gorge fabric. I bought it in Rome, and had my scissors into it within hours of landing back home in Toronto. When I bought it I thought those were cranes, but on closer inspection they look like ducks or geese. Canard! Ducks and geese just don’t have the same cachet as cranes, don’t you think? 😉


It’s a very finely woven cotton — ‘crisp’ is the word that comes to mind. It also creases like a sunnuvabitch the minute you look at it, as you can see from the photos taken after wearing the dress for about 4 seconds. The fabric hasn’t got much drape but rather it’s quite structured, so I thought it would be perfect for M6959, a fit-and-flare wrap dress with contrast trim, and indeed it had the perfect weight and body for this dress.

M6959 dress pattern

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 12.08.25 PM


Note to Longsuffering Husband Photographer: there’s a cat growing out of my head.

I was going out on a bit of a limb choosing this style, as I’m generally not one for the fit-and-flare shape. I think they look fabulous on others, and while it’s true that I get a lot of my sewing inspiration from seeing other sewists’ fit-and-flares, I just feel a bit froufy wearing this style. I’m definitely more of a jeans-and-tops kind of person, with the occasional sheath-style dress thrown in, but I’m one of those sewists who just. keeps. buying. dress. patterns. It’s pathological. I have a closet full of dresses I hardly ever wear. But man, are they fun to sew!


Hello 1950’s housewife. (I’m thinking a little snap at the bust might be needed, yes?)

I definitely love the look of this dress, if not actually wearing it. It’s been hanging outside of my closet so I can admire it daily. 🙂 I particularly love the orange bias binding around the edges that play off the orange spots on the fabric — what a great contrast to the periwinkle blue.


One other issue I had with the fit (or maybe the fabric selection) is that I can’t raise my arms above shoulder height — the sleeves are holding my arms prisoner. They’re not particularly tight around the armscye, but the fabric has no stretch to it at all so it’s completely unforgiving that way. One more reason why I probably won’t wear this. I wonder if there’s something I could have done differently with the sleeve caps to avoid this….do you have any advice?


I just discovered twirling is hard…I seriously almost barfed after twirling around 3 times. Also, that’s about as high as I can raise my arms in this dress.

However, I still think this is a great dress and it was very easy to put together. I haven’t used bias binding to finish edges before and I love it — so easy using purchased binding, and no fiddling with hems.


Alright, WHO AM I KIDDING when I say I will never wear this? I’ll find myself someplace to go where I will not be required to lift my arms above my shoulders for any reason (so it’ll have to be a short stay — not long enough to have to powder my forehead, which means this oil-slick-faced gal’s outing will last no longer than, say, 15 minutes). But one outing should suffice for a compliment or two with the requisite “Why thank you! I made it myself” replies. I will reach up to coyly pat my hair and realize I can’t, but there will nonetheless be much ensuing cooing and clucking. Or honking and quacking as the case may be. 😉

Special thanks to Longsuffering Husband Photographer, my #UnsungSewingBlogHero!

Ombre Woodgrain Sheath Dress


I’m so glad I was able to wrest another garment out of this fantastic ombre-woodgrain fabric, despite the anatomical challenges it presented! I first made a romper with this fabric and now this dress.


I wanted a very simple, fairly fitted dress without a lot of seams or fuss, so I used the basic pieces from V8904, a pattern that worked really well for me previously (see my asymmetrical layered dress, which was unofficially Suzanne-Sommers-approved!). Of course I omitted the diagonal over-layers and just used the basic pattern pieces: front, back, 2 sleeves, and a neckband. There aren’t even any darts on this.


The sleeves on this pattern have a ton of ease, which is something I forgot since the last time I made it. (Must jot that down on the pattern cover or something for future reference.) So I found the sleeves were a bit fluttery for my liking, and instead of recutting them or doing a proper dart or something, I was super-lazy and just tacked down a little fold-over on each sleeve. My vacation departure date was approaching and there was a lot of sewing I wanted to get done before that, so I was all fuck it, lemme just do this lame hack.


These pictures were taken on one of the first few days of my trip to Italy, and I was able to pose for the photos without passing out from holding my gut in. Let’s just say that this dress did not get a whole lot of wear towards the end of the 3 weeks I spent eating my way through Italy. 🙂


Vogue 1449: Rebecca Taylor Mod Mini Dress

Vogue 1449 Mini Dress

Yippee! I love this dress! And good thing I added built-in shorts so I can jump around in public like this! (Does that make this a Drort? A Drooter?)

Vogue 1449 Mini Dress

This is Vogue 1449, a Rebecca Taylor mini dress. I bought the pattern during a bout of nostalgia for a similar vintage garment I used to have, which I sketched below. It was a blue romper that looked like a dress because of four flaps placed over top of the shorts. It had blue and white gingham trim and embroidered flowers on the flaps. My mother’s friend Stella gave it to me around 1989 and told me she used to wear it in the 60s. I used to wear it to my corporate summer job — heaven knows what my coworkers must’ve thought of this strange 20-year old wearing a vintage romper of all things.

Sketch of a vintage 60s romper

Back to Vogue 1449…there’s lots of great detail in this dress, including a v-shape seam at the bust and pleats on the skirt.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 12.04.54 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 12.04.38 PM

This is the first time I tried sewing an invisible zipper. I generally avoid sewing garments that need fasteners like the plague — hence my predilection for knitwear — thinking an invisible zipper sounded like something very difficult to do. It wasn’t! Of course, I had Dilys from Sew Be It Studio guiding me. I sewed this dress during the 5-week, once-a-week course I took there. It wasn’t so much a course as it was ‘guided sewing’…we just worked on projects and Dilys was there to help us and show us how to do anything we weren’t sure of.

Vogue 1449 Mini Dress

Do YOU see a zipper? I don’t see a zipper. It’s INVISIBLE!

I probably would never have sewn this dress if it wasn’t for a mix-up with Sew Be It: I emailed them to ask if I needed to prepare anything before the class started and they said no. However, when I showed up for the first class Dilys asked me if I brought my pattern and fabric. The other students both had a pattern for a classic button shirt and chambray fabric at the ready. Panicked, (and worried they might force me to sew a chambray button-up shirt) I explained what I had been told, but I did happen to have this pattern in my purse because it had just arrived in the mail that day. Long story short, I picked some floral stretch cotton and a coordinating grey cotton broadcloth from Sew Be It’s fabric store in a hurry and got started. I’m glad it happened this way. I’m sure I would’ve spent weeks agonizing over just the right fabric, visiting multiple stores to find the right one. This way, I had to make a decision right away and choose from what was on hand. I might not have selected these fabrics otherwise, but what a great selection they turned out to be!


I made a few slight modifications to the pattern:

  • I used contrasting fabric for the side front panels.
  • I didn’t use a knit fabric for the collar band as per the pattern instructions but instead did a bias strip facing. I also cut the neck opening to be a bit lower than the pattern called for.
  • I didn’t line it. These cotton fabrics I used really don’t need to be lined.
  • I drafted and attached simple shorts underneath the skirt so I don’t have to worry about being particularly ladylike when I wear this. 😛

Vogue 1449 Mini Dress

Vogue 1449 Mini Dress

Now here’s a little bonus material for you — one of the outtakes from when my long-suffering husband was trying to shoot me jumping in the air. Thought you might enjoy the hairdo! 😀


The Please, No Wind Beneath My Wings Dress


This is a franken-dress based on a bit of both the Burda Raglan Darted Dress (03/2015 #120B) and the Short Sleeve Maxi Dress (03/2015 #122). I used the hem length of the former pattern and the stretch jersey fabric and a pocket from the latter pattern.


Yippeee! I love this dress!

I mail-ordered this Missoni-inspired jersey fabric from Mood back in February (but I just checked they seem to be sold out of it now). I don’t normally order from Mood because their shipping to Canada is too damn expensive, but I was taking a trip to visit my mom in Florida for her 80th birthday so I snuck a little cross-border online shopping into the deal. The fabric is super-soft and comfortable with great drape, like a favourite light-weight T-shirt. I found it *very* difficult to lay out and cut, as it was easy to distort the grain when laying it out, and the edges curled like a motherf*&^er. I only had 2 lousy yards to work with, and I had to make sure the stripes matched up. It was a feat of engineering, and when all was said and done I had about 4 square inches of fabric leftovers. Phew.


As I discovered while shooting these photos on a blustery day, this dress is not suitable for windy conditions! Those side flaps are like the wings of a glider ready to take off in the breeze. I can just picture it: gust of wind on a city street, skirt wraps itself around my face while Bay Street financiers and overseas tourists try not to notice my ripped granny pants as I struggle to free myself and keep walking like nothing happened. Added to To Do list: buy decent pair of underwear to wear with this dress.

Pattern modifications:

  • I made the back hem a few inches longer than the front hem, but they actually look even when I’m wearing it…the extra length makes up for any junk in the trunk at the back (which is quite minimal in my case, but made a surprising difference before I altered it).
  • I added a neck band (the pattern calls for a facing instead), which I thought was going to be the death of me. I binge-watched YouTube videos on inserting a neck band before feeling confident enough to not fuck it up. It still took me three tries to get it right, and one of the tricky parts was getting the angle of the vee to be the same shape/angle as the zigzags of the fabric print.
  • I added a side seam pocket. (The maxi-dress version of this pattern has pockets while the woven-fabric version does not). I only added one pocket because one was all I could squeeze out of my limited fabric.

See the seam down the back? ME NEITHER!!! Ok, I actually do see it, but I’m feeling pretty damn pleased with myself on the pattern-matching regardless. 🙂

I think this dress is worthy of space in my suitcase for my vacation in Italy this summer. Buying knock-off fabric of one of Italy’s great designers is, like, all pro-Italy, right? And the super-stretchiness of the material works for the fact that I am going to eat ALL. THE. FOOD. IN. ITALY. Sorry, Italians, it’s all going in my belly. You’ll have to make other arrangements for yourselves. I am learning crucial Italian phrases such as “Bongiorno, Io a fame” (hello I’m hungry), “Bongiorno Io vado a mangiare che!” (hello I’m going to eat that!), and “Per favore mi dia più cibo e poi mi danno gelato” (please give me more food and then give me gelato). I’m all set!

Burda dress

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Goin’ out in my birthday suit, courtesy of Vogue 8998

V8998 dress

Last month I had a birthday (um, 29th, of course) so I decided to ‘treat’ myself to a new me-made dress. I put ‘treat’ in quotation marks because somehow I never seem to remember that sewing takes longer than I think it should, and that having a hard deadline — a birthday party starting at 8:30 on the Saturday night on which I was trying to finish the dress — is really NOT such a good idea for avoiding stress and remaining gracefully serene…y’know, like I usually am. 😛

V8998 dress

Nonetheless, my alter-ego Sewzilla got this done with minutes to spare, and her tension was soothed with a hard shot of liquor gingerly handed to her by her awesome husband when the hem was finally done. Knock it back, and ready for the party!

I made View A of Vogue 8998, a pattern I was drawn to because of the amazing colour of the dress on the cover. That yellowy-green has got to be my favourite colour of all time. What do you call that, anyway? Chartreuse? Limeade? I’ve had several unfortunate incidents with wall paint in that shade — I’m a deliberately slow learner when it comes to wall paint and that colour — particularly that time I painted the bathroom. It’s hard enough to face the mirror each morning without also having a bonus sickly yellow-green cast on my face. Much better used in clothing!



I made the dress with a fantastic embossed scuba-like fabric I found at Fabricland. Sorry about the grainy pics — it was too damn cold to go outside for better light.


I made a couple of modifications to the pattern: I omitted the zipper since this fabric has great 4-way stretch, and I took away some of the fullness of the skirt by folding a triangular ‘slice’ out of each of the skirt panels, like this:

I folded out a triangular slice of each skirt panel piece to reduce the overall fullness of the skirt. I folded from where the panel starts to flare down to the hem.

I folded out a triangular slice of each skirt panel piece to reduce the overall fullness of the skirt. I folded just from where the panel starts to flare down to the hem, so as not to screw up how the skirt fits to the high waistband.

V8998 dress

When I cut the pattern pieces I modified the back bodice to be higher (I was worried I wouldn’t like the low-cut back), but once I put it together I cut the back lower as the pattern calls for and I loooooove the look of it.

v8998 dress

My only tiny regret is that I forgot to centre the fabric pattern on the front bodice piece when I was cutting. It’s no big deal, but it would have been a nice touch to have the pattern sitting symmetrically on the front. I made no attempt to line up the pattern otherwise or even ensure it was running in the same direction on the skirt panels. I don’t think it matters with this pattern.

V8998 dress

I used just about 1.75 yards of fabric for the dress, which means I have enough left over to try to rip off this cute design by Ted Baker, and save myself about $170. We’ll see…

Ted Baker Jacquard Top

The dress survived a fun evening at a rock n roll bar with friends mostly intact (the dress, not the friends, although they’re mostly intact, too). I had this ‘great idea’ to take an ‘After’ shot, and use the hundreds of empty liquor bottles we had in the house — we were doing a bottle drive for charity, really! — for a shot of me in the dress lying amongst the scattered bottles passed out. But, I’m afraid you’ll have to use your imagination on that one, as my fear of such a picture making the rounds in my professional circle won out over my desire for an awesome laugh. Maybe I should’ve had a few more drinks. 😉

Burda 6910 Dress: all party on one side, all artsy on the other

This is the last thing I made in 2014 — I put the finishing touches on it on December 31st.

Burda 6901 dress with modifications

I cut the front and back pieces so the pattern on the fabric kinda matched up — I’m a zebra if you look at me sideways from the right. I love the mix of horizontal and vertical irregular stripes.

Burda 6910 dress side view


The pattern is Burda 6901, a very easy dress pattern consisting of only 4 pieces: front, back, sleeve, neckband.

Burda 6910

I made some modifications to it; the original pattern has ruching/gathering at the waist, but I found that didn’t work with this fabric, which doesn’t drape that well. It’s a wool-blend with 2-way stretch I found at King Textiles a couple of months ago. (I always found the term 2-way stretch confusing; it implies the fabric stretches in both directions, but that’s 4-way stretch. 2-way stretch only stretches in one direction, from selvedge to selvedge.) So I ripped out the side seams to remove the ruching and instead folded over the extra 4 inches at the waist to make it look a bit like a top and skirt. This isn’t perfect but I preferred this method over just sewing a waist seam.

Burda 6010 dress with modifications - folded over waist

I had to tighten up the tops of the sleeves as the neckline was gaping, and I did a simple fold-over neckline instead of using a bias-strip collar. I cut away a bit of the neckline at the front so it wasn’t quite so high.


During the photo shoot I bent over to move something and snapped every single one of the hand-sewn tacks I used to keep the fold-over waist in place at the back! Next task is to find some fine elastic thread to redo the tacks with…hopefully that will work.

Suzanne Somers Likes My Dress

Who remembers watching endless reruns of Three’s Company?? (Go on, admit it. You can’t lie about your age forever.)

Three's Company

Today I met Suzanne Somers (pictured on the left, in her role as Chrissy) at an event for work at which her husband was being honoured with an award. Anyway, I was introduced to her, and she said, “I love your dress!” I was wearing this one that I made:


Dude, Suzanne Somers likes the dress I made. Fucking awesome. I am so not above being excited that a 70’s TV star gave me a compliment on my dress. I told her I made it and she said she used to make a lot of her own clothes, as, she said, “it was the only way to get new clothes.” She was friendly and gracious and the whole thing was pretty cool. (If you’re interested you can click to read more about this dress pattern.)

Funny to look back at the premise of the show by today’s standards: three roommates, one of them male, trying to hide the fact that they were living together because a single man living with single women would have been absolutely scandalous. Huh.

Right, so I’m thinking if I can attract one star’s attention with my handmade dress, there’s no reason on earth why it couldn’t be Lenny Kravitz next, RIGHT? Or maybe I’ll set my sights just a tiny bit lower to start, and see what’s possible with the guy that invented the Dyson vacuum cleaner — I have a big nerd crush on that guy. Because by god, who WOULDN’T love a man who’s made it his life’s work to invent a vacuum that doesn’t lose suction???

Dear Diary: The Diagonal Lines Dress is Decidedly Difficult

Here it is, the completed Diagonal Lines Dress. And below is an epic tale of how she came into this world.

Burda Diagonal Lines Dress

February 28th, 2014: Come across Diagonal Lines Dress on BurdaStyle website. Lose my shit over this awesome dress. Asian-inspired! Asymmetrical! Colour-blocking! Exposed zipper! Pay for & download pattern immediately. Dance around room. Consider buying matching yellow bicycle.

Burda Diagonal Lines Dress

Saturday, March 1st, 12pm: Find black ponte knit in my stash. Head to my favourite fabric shop and pick up yellow, taupe, and grey ponte.

2pm: Arrive home and start cutting out yellow pieces.

2:10pm: Shout “fuck.” Realize I forgot to prewash the fabric.

2:11pm: Shout “fuck it,” and carry on cutting.

2:30pm: Realize that the pattern’s list of pieces to cut out for View B is missing a lot of information. Think, “hmmm, this dress has a lot of pieces, and some pieces need to be in different colours than others. It sure would be helpful if these pattern directions weren’t all fucked up. Perhaps I can figure this out over a glass of red wine.” Remove scissors from hand and replace with glass of wine.

11:37pm: Wine, surprisingly, does not produce desired brain wave. Post a plea for help in the comments section for this dress on the Burda website. Click on the box that says “This is a Question”, designed to make you erroneously think that someone at Burda might actually read your question and try to answer it. (They won’t.) Because, let’s face it, if you just wanted the average reader to know it’s a question, you could just put a, you know, question mark at the end of your question.

Burda comments box. Is there any point to clicking the "This is a Question" box?

~~~Time passes. No answers forthcoming from Burda. I move on to other things in a haze of bitter disappointment.~~~

June 7, 6:43 pm: Triumph! Discover the How to Sew the Diagonal Lines Dress video during a half-price video sale at Burda. Think, “A video! This should explain everything!” and, “Who the hell pays $16.99 for a single video, anyway?” By this point the half-cut-out diagonal lines dress has been languishing in an over-stuffed ziplock bag in the basement.

Late August: Realize that when one pays for a Burda video, one doesn’t actually get to keep it forever! Surprise! You’ve only paid to rent it for a period of time before it becomes unavailable to you. Think, “WTF?”, and, “I’d better finish that dress before the damn video expires.” Open video to find there is no mention of the errors in the pattern piece list for View B. She’s making View A. Sigh. Decide to try to figure out the pattern pieces without a glass of wine. Miracle of miracles, the non-wine approach seems to work.

Diagonal Lines Dress Cutting Instructions

My notes on cutting the pieces.

A few days pass while I try to figure out why my serger is doing this to everything I sew:

Something wrong here…every seam comes out with one side offset from the other by about an inch.

Eventually give up on serger, spend ages ripping out the serged seams, and sew the dress with my regular sewing machine and a twin needle.

Friday, Sept 5, 4pm: Think, “Hey, I’m halfway through sewing this dress…I could probably finish it this weekend and wear it to my lectures on Monday.” (I believe that is the textbook definition of hubris right there. Heroine’s downfall about to come…)

Sunday, Sept 7, 11am: Feeling good! I am ON FIRE. I am opening a CAN OF WHOOP-ASS on this dress. I have only to sew on the ZIPPER and hem the skirt & sleeves and I will be DONE! Get to work pinning on zipper.

12pm: Get to work ripping out zipper and redoing it.

1:30pm: Get to work ripping out zipper and redoing it.

3pm: Get to work ripping out zipper and redoing it. Realize this time I should just baste it in place to make the inevitable subsequent ripping out much easier. Fire definitely out. Whoop-ass has completely dissipated.

5pm: Get to work ripping out zipper and redoing it.

6pm: THE GODDAMN ZIPPER IS FINALLY NOT A DISASTER. It’s not very good, but it’s not a disaster. I am quite happy to settle for just not a disaster at this point. The marriage of a heavy zipper and very stretchy fabric is inevitably not a happy one, it seems, but I can live with most of those wrinkles and rolls.

Burda Diagonal Lines Dress

8pm: Finished. I have completely fudged the neckline — one side is decidedly more cheongsam that the other — but I am choosing instead to call this a “design feature”. The skirt is hemmed, and while I realize the skirt is quite loose and should be taken in more at the seams for a better fit, I am choosing instead to call this “future proofing”. (I have other, far less flattering pictures that show the skirt is plainly too big, but I’m not sharing those with you, of course.)

8:10pm: Husband returns home and I model the dress for him. “It’s great!” he says. And then, more carefully: “I don’t know if you care, but there’s a few wrinkles back here near the z—”  Let’s just say he didn’t get a chance to finish that sentence. Bless that wonderful man for trying to be helpful at the risk of losing an eye, though.

9pm: Realize that I have only basted the zipper in place. With visions of splitting open my dress in front of 200 horrified first year students, I rush back to the machine to restitch it.

11pm: Go to sleep. Have actual nightmare about sewing zippers.


Monday, Sept 8, 10:18am: dress has survived one lecture. Stroll into faculty meeting fashionably late. (Or more truthfully, hurry in, all sweaty from first lecture and hoofing it the 4 blocks between buildings.)

10:34am: Text message from my stylish colleague and friend:


Are you still reading? I can’t believe you made it this far into this lengthy post. You must be some kind of sewing nerd, no? So ok, I’ll give you more nerdy details about my own modifications and what I hope is helpful information if you decide to try sewing this dress yourself:

  • Instead of using the small facing for the upper right front (the yellow section), I doubled up the fabric on this piece — a full facing — for more coverage since it covers most of the bust area. All other pieces were single layer.
  • I cut a size 36, but I ended up having to cut off at least three inches of fabric on either side of the centre back torso to make it fit. I didn’t cut much off the centre back skirt, but I should have — it’s definitely a bit too loose. I usually err on the side of cutting one size larger, but I must remind myself in future that I need to err the opposite way when cutting stretch fabrics.
  • The “Cutting Out” section of the pattern for View B is missing a bunch of pieces: 1. Yellow stretch jersey: add piece 25 (right upper back) and piece 30 (back right facing) 2. Beige stretch jersey is missing altogether: you have to cut out piece 22 (upper left front), 25 (left upper back), and 30 (left back facing)
  • Several of the pattern pieces (#21, 22, and 24) have separate sections within the piece that are meant to be cut separately. It does mention this in the “Preparations” section of the pattern but it’s easy to miss so I’ll reinforce that bit of very important information here: 1. Piece 21 has a band of facing that appears to be part of piece 21 but should be cut separately with its own seam allowance and sewn in place to create a facing. 2. Ditto for piece 22. 3. Piece 24 (the front skirt), should be cut in 3 separate sections. Cut out each of the 3 pieces with their own seam allowances and then sew them back together to create the diagonal seam lines on the front of the skirt.
  • I put big X’s on the wrong sides of all pieces with blue tailor’s chalk, because I can’t tell the right from wrong sides on ponte knit, and it would have been really easy to get these pieces all turned around. I also discovered that blue chalk goes straight through yellow fabric to show on the right side. Design feature, baby!
  • I couldn’t find a zipper long enough to go the whole length of the dress, so I just left an unfinished vent at the back. This ponte knit doesn’t fray at all so it looks just fine. If I had been organized I would’ve planned to have extra seam allowance at the bottom vent and figured out where to place that at the cutting phase, but that seemed far too mathy.
  • I opted not to bother with the tucks at the shoulders, primarily because I had no idea what the hell the instructions for doing them meant.
  • I didn’t add 3 snaps at along the edge where the yellow front meets the beige front as the pattern directs. I think that would just create lumps. Instead I topstitched them together along the length of the yellow edge.

Right Now, as this is published: the dress is sitting in the laundry basket, awaiting its non-prewashed fate…fingers crossed.


UPDATE: Burda, you cheeky little devil, you!  I just discovered that you added a Diagonal Lines Dress Sewing Lesson, complete with detailed instructions and illustrations, to your website on March 4th! It’s awesome that you made this bonus material, especially since the actual pattern directions are messed up and haven’t been corrected. I guess you didn’t want to be too braggy about it though, since you didn’t put a link to it from the Diagonal Lines Dress pattern page. [Cripes, Burda, WTF?]