Instant Gratification- McCalls 7979

I have a treat for you today- I've found a pattern that I really, really love, and it is EASY!!  I mean, you cannot go wrong with this one, it is just that good- no fitting prowess required, about as easy to sew as you could ask for, and amazingly, it works as a dress, just as well as a top.  And I can prove it because I made it three times, with wildly different fabrics, and I think (IMHO) that they all look pretty darn good!

The pattern is McCalls 7979.  It is a Palmer Pletsch design.

I recently found this purple floral cotton interlock remnant at a thrift shop, and just had about 1 yard of it.  It was so, so nice!  But 1 yard isn't enough for a sleeved top in my size, so I decided to mix it up with another fabric.  I had a black sweater knit that I thought would be a nice contrast for it.   I added the kangaroo pocket- that wasn't part of the pattern, although it's certainly not hard to draft your own.  You could also insert side seam pockets in the longer version easily.

I was originally going to make a top, but when I tried it on, the black sweater knit had enough weight to pull it almost to my knees, so I thought- "Hmmm, it wouldn't take much to make this into a dress!"  I had enough of my purple knit to make a 4" wide hem band, and voila, I present to you a dress!    Here you can see the actual shape of the design- if you count the neck as a side, it would be an octagon with sleeves. 

 Here's a little closer photo so you can see this pretty purple cotton interlock.  I find it really hard to find nice cotton interlock prints anymore.  They've all been replaced with ITY or other poly knits.  So, I grab them when I can, if I see them at a thrift shop.

This wasn't my first rodeo with this pattern.  The first was actually a muslin using an ITY panel print.  I had two panels, and used the darker part of the panel at the bottom.  My panel was about 4" shorter than the pattern, but it was plenty long enough for a top.  I didn't have enough fabric to make the cowl version, so I used the neckband piece instead. 

And my last version was a wintry version using a heather gray velour.  Again, I added the kangaroo pocket to this one, and this is the actual length of the pattern. 

Completely ignore the finished garment measurements that they included on the pattern tissue- they don't make any sense.   For example, it said that the bust on the finished size 16 was 36-1/2".   You can see from the photo below that this is way more than 36-1/2"!   Just go with whatever size you would normally make.  

So far, the purple/black dress version is my favorite.  I will probably be making quite a few more versions in the future!

So, if you just need some instant gratification, I highly recommend picking up this pattern at the next pattern sale. Maybe use up some of those knit remnants that you've been saving.   And have a blast sewing up your own versions!

Happy Sewing!


Burda Wave Dress and Kimono Jacket

I've been a Burda magazine subscriber for over a dozen years now.  If you're not familiar with Burda, it's a sewing pattern magazine published in Germany.  Sometimes their designs seem a little wacky at first (and I'm the queen of wearing wacky things, so I can say that).  But, after a few years they start to grow on you, and before you know it, you wonder why you waited so long to make some of them! 

That's the case with this dress from the May 2012 issue of Burda magazine, design #107.  It was so memorable, that it was always in the back of my mind for when I found the right fabric.

Here is their version:

And here is mine:

 I used two colors of 100% linen from Fabric Mart.   I didn't originally intend to mix them, but when I got my package, I thought that the colors looked really good together!  This was a technically challenging dress because I had to do a full bust adjustment, which with that wacky front was a real headscratcher.  I had to do two muslins to get it right, and then sewing those curves- aaaacckk!  But I do think it turned out pretty cool.  Yes, it is wrinkly.  Linen is just that way.  I don't mind it because it is just so comfortable!  I love wearing linen so much that I can live with the wrinkles.  Ponte would be a great choice for those who hate wrinkles but want to try color blocking.

Summer's Last Hurrah

It's the last day of September, but we're supposed to reach record breaking temps for the next 3 days.  And we're not alone, I heard that up to 50 cities are supposed to break records today.  Then the bottom drops out and our temps will drop 30 degrees.  So, I'm going to enjoy wearing some sleeveless dresses while I can.

This is made from Butterick 6050.  I made it from an interesting cotton/lycra jersey with the print on the diagonal. I wanted a pattern that wouldn't have many seams to match that diagonal print.  While the front is rather basic, turn around, and the back is pretty cool with an open area and a twist!  Yes, the twist is supposed to be there.  When taking the photograph, my husband said- I think there's something wrong back there- it's twisted.  LOL!  That's the point!

McCalls 7985- A Striped Hi-Low Hem tunic

Hello everyone!  I'm back after a long break, and boy does it feel good to be sewing again!  I really need to sew to keep myself balanced, just like sunshine and exercise.  I am starting my fall sewing with this little striped top in an unusual color combo of black, cream, clay and mint green.  This is one of the Milly fabrics from Fabric Mart, and it was lovely to work with!

 Here's the back- I love how it moves:

Red, White and Blue Shirtdresses with Butterick 6635

It's summertime here in Illinois!  Even though I love to be outside and spend time in my garden, I also am quite concerned about preventing sun damage to my skin and covering up as much as is reasonably comfortable.  For that reason, I decided to make some shirtdresses that would be lightweight, breezy, yet, tightly woven fabric that would offer some degree of SPF protection, and cover at least my upper arms and shoulders.  I've heard that the most important thing for sun protective fabric is tightness of the weave.  RIT makes a wash-in sun protective powder that is supposed to last for up to 20 washes, but I haven't tried it yet.  I don't care for sunscreen- it tends to make me sweat and feel greasy, so I've been favoring blocking the rays more mechanically with hats and clothing.   In the photo on the left, it looks like I'm wearing a camisole- I'm not, that's just the line where the sun protection from my hat ends-guess I need to button up a little further!

For my first dress, I used a 100% cotton plaid shirting from Fabric Mart in a strawberry red, off white and blue.  When I originally got it, I thought it looked like a tablecloth and wasn't too excited.  But after playing around with the plaid placement, I love it!  It is so comfortable. For the pattern, I used a woven shirt pattern- Butterick 6635 and lengthened it 6 inches.  

This is a Connie Crawford pattern that has a different sizing draft from the rest of the Butterick line.  I find that the large generally fits me well with no alterations, except for length.  I always have to add some length to patterns, but Connie designs for a much shorter woman, and I have to add even more!
But, it is so nice to not have to fiddle with a full bust adjustment, forward shoulder, round back, etc.
The one thing that I found odd about this pattern was the collar piece.  Usually, you have to clip the neck to get it stretch to fit the collar.  On this pattern, it was just the opposite.  I had to stretch the collar to get it to fit the neck.  The first time, I thought, oh, this must have been inaccurate cutting on my part.  But since it happened twice, I think that's the way that it was designed.  It seems to work, so I'm not complaining- just noting that it's a little different!  Also, the seam allowances are just 1/4" on the collar, which is smart- less trimming to do. 

I can wear this one as an overshirt as well.   I think that working with plaids can be really fun.  You do need to make sure that you order extra fabric, because the larger the plaid, the more likely it is that you will have to move your pattern pieces away from each other so that you can match the side seams, sleeve seams, or whatever else you would like to match!  For a small plaid, I would order at least 1/2 yard extra.  For a plaid like this, I would order a full yard more.  Let me tell you about my plaid placement. So, there were thick horizontal red stripes, and they were 18 inches apart.  I decided to place one thick horizontal red stripe at the bust line, and the next thick red stripe would fall near the hem.  Then, on the back, I matched the horizontal stripes, and used the vertical thick red stripe down the center.  I turned the yoke piece to lay crosswise so that I could get one more large red stripe on the back.

I chose this pattern because I wanted a straight dress with no waist seam, and I was also curious about the hidden placket.  For some reason, I've never been able to wrap my head around the concept of a hidden placket.  After making two of these, I think I've got it!  Here's what the hidden placket looks like when it is pulled back.

I also added a couple of pockets, cut on the bias, and made a sash, using the thick red stripe.  I'll probably wear the dress without the sash at home, but if I go out, it will be a nice option to have.  I think this will be a great farmer's market dress.  The tote that I'm holding is one that my daughter brought back from Madagascar!  It's great for shopping.

For my second dress, I used a cotton/lycra shirting in blue and white.  I thought that I would like having the added lycra, but honestly, I preferred working with the 100% cotton.  The lycra adds quite a bit of weight, and this one doesn't drape as nicely as the first dress.  The fabric would probably have been better made into a fitted shirtdress.  If I make this pattern again, I'll stick with 100% cotton shirtings.  But, I do love the colors on this one, and I'm sure that I will wear it- it is just when comparing the two fabrics, this style works better with the 100% cotton.

For this dress, I put the yoke on the bias, and tried to center one of the dark stripes down the center front and back. I also put the cuffs on the bias, but since I've got them rolled up here, you can't see them.  I had also put bias pockets on the front of the dress like the first one, but because this one doesn't have quite the drape of the first, the pockets made it look a little like a lab coat, so I took them off.  For the same reason, I don't think that this one works as an overshirt- just a little too stiff.

Here is the hidden placket on this one:

Because these are yarn dyed plaids and look exactly the same on both sides, the sleeve area and the cuff were tricky, as those pieces are directional.  I really struggled with that on this one- and ended up having to switch sides on the sleeves because I had the cuffs attached the wrong direction.  There is a small error in the cuff instructions- it says to turn under the cuff facing edge by 1/4".  It should be fold under 5/8", and then trim it to 1/4".  The illustration shows it correctly, just not the text.

I need to find a good photo tutorial on how to sew sleeves with cuffs and continuous lap, because the small illustrations in the pattern are clearly not enough for me.  Please leave a comment if you know of a good tutorial on this!

I'm excited to make more of these now, and have already ordered more shirting fabric to do so.  I'm still in my Americana mood from my mini-wardrobe entry, so more red, white and blue are on the way.

Do you like working with plaids?  Do you have a favorite shirtdress pattern?  And do you think about sun protection when you are sewing summer clothing?

Happy Sewing!


Sporty Americana

For Mother's Day, my daughter sent me a mystery box of fabric from FabricMart!  It arrived a couple of weeks early, and of course I opened it up as soon as I could.  She then told me that I was supposed to wait until Mother's Day to open it.  Feeling a little guilty, I told her that since I had opened it early, that I would try to sew some of it up into some new outfits by Mother's Day!   As chance would have it, was also having their Mini-Wardrobe contest, which had a deadline of May 15th, so I decided to enter it to give me a personal push.  I was able to use 4 of the fabrics from the package- this floral knit, the blue gingham, a solid cream jersey and a red floral voile, in the outfits.  I did supplement with a denim that I had, as I really needed another solid fabric to make the coordinates work.

Spring Separates in Melon, Paprika and Navy Blue

Ahh, Spring!  It's been a long time coming this year, and when we took these photos a couple of weeks ago, the temperature was still in the 20's!  These are combination inside/outside pictures as I could only stay out so long pretending it was warmer!  Maybe more than ever, I've been in the mood for sewing a few separates in anticipation of warmer weather. 

For my first item, I used a Melon Watercolor Floral Linen/Cotton Blend.  The weight is just perfect for a skirt with no lining- it has enough weight to drape nicely, and doesn't cling at all.  This particular print is large, which is great for a tall person like myself.

I didn't want a complicated pattern, so I chose Kwik Sew 3233- it is an 8 panel skirt with an elastic waist.  It's basically just one pattern piece that you cut 8 times, but I did add in a rather large pocket, because I just have to carry my phone and keys with me all the time these days.  My phone is so heavy though that I think I'm going to have to tighten up the elastic so that it doesn't drag the skirt right off of me!

Fifty Year Old Burda Magazine: March 1969

I haven't had much time to sew lately, and when I'm not able to sew, I like to go through my old Burda magazines and get ideas.  My oldest Burdas are from 1969- not that I've been subscribing that long!  I bought almost the whole year of 1969 on Ebay a few years ago.   This is the March issue, so it's exactly 50 years old.  I've snapped some photos to share with you.  I don't speak German, so your guess is as good as mine as to what the text says, but the photos say a lot!

This was the cover story.  Without the hat, I think you could wear this today! But with the hat, it  really feels like a stewardess uniform.

I really like the giant houndstooth print of these dresses.  And take a look at those long pointed collars.  So many dresses were shown with neck scarves and belts too.

They really liked showing pairs of models together in coordinating colors. In current issues, models are rarely shown together unless it's a wedding or mother/daughter theme spread.

I really like the design of the cream colored dress.  Wouldn't it be nice if they would bring that one back?  Not many pairs of women's pants in this issue- just three.  Pants for women weren't mainstream yet.  I also have some issues from 1976, and by 1976, pants, and particularly pantsuits, were heavily promoted.

White footwear and kneesocks!  I definitely remember wearing knee socks with skirts as a kid.  They were always falling down so I had to keep them up with rubber bands.  I know that white footwear is making a comeback, so maybe the return of kneesocks isn't far behind!  Now that we have lycra, they would be a whole lot easier to keep up!

I like both of these dresses too.   Burda had seamstresses with impeccable skills- I'm sure that they still do.

A good section of the magazine was black and white.  I wonder if that odd hand position meant something.

These are super pretty jackets over matching dresses.   And side barrettes!  I almost forgot about them, but I always had my hair pulled back with a side barrette like that. 

These wrap dresses would totally be in place in 2019.  Diane Von Furstenberg was supposed to have invented the wrap dress in the 70's, but it looks to me like Burda beat her to it in 1969!

I LOVE that they used models that were of all ages and sizes.  Definitely, most of the models were younger and thinner, but at least they included some older and larger models in every issue.  Why don't they still do that?????? 

In these old issues, you didn't get every style in every size.  For example in the photo above, if you were a size 46, you could make the one on the left, and if you were a size 48, you get the one on the right!  I suppose people were very adept at grading between sizes.  We're pretty spoiled now with all of the multisize patterns.

There were a lot of pretty racy ads for underwear.  I don't think this ad would be PC today! 

And there were several ads for fabrics.  I think that there was a lot of innovation going on with the introduction of polyester and knits into society and seamstresses had to be sold on the idea. 

Burda also included some gorgeous interior decorating shots!  I just love this one.  If you lived in this house, you were pretty cool- Don Draper cool. 

Although I do like to dream, I will probably never actually make anything from these old issues.  Not only do I not speak German to understand their instructions, but I also don't speak whatever this nonsense is!  It's amazing anyone ever made anything, having to trace this tangled mess!

I hope that you've enjoyed this trip back to March of 1969!  What do you think of these styles?  Would you wear them today?

Happy Sewing!