Strapless Dress

July 19th, 2010

Kennis’s Latest

Originally uploaded by ray_in_la

I always wanted a strapeless dress. But I’ve given up hopes after trying RTW strapeless dresses innumerous times. The top portion of each dress was always about 2 sizes too big. I was convinced that it’s not meant to be. Fate would never bring strapeless dresses and I together. I just looked at girls with enormous evny; they could just go to Nordstrom and wear every kind of pretty flowy floral strapeless dresses. And the thing is, the dresses even stayed on with a mere elastic band at the top. WTF!

Now that I know how to sew, I am challenging fate. And you know what, this beautiful number came out of my sewing room and was ready to go party! All the bones hold the dress so well, supporting it from the waist. It require absolutely no pulling up. And how much do I love this pink splash floral fabric! It’s a think bottom weight 100% cotton. It’s really a gem and a big surprise from Joann.

The pattern is Vogue 1174 (a Cynthia Steffe pattern).

To make this fit, I made several alterations to the pattern.
- a total of about 4 inches at the top (side seams and back)
- a total of about 1 inch at the waist
- extend the top 1 inch up
- lengthen the bottom of the skirt 2 inches

I just love this dress…

Vogue 8597 – Cowl Neck Top

April 21st, 2010

I am always looking out for non-shirt long sleeve top that doesn’t look like it came out of my grandma’s closet. I understand some grandmas are very stylish, but mine is 90 years old who has no sense of fashion whatsoever.

Most of the cute knit tops are either sleeveless or have short sleeve. I am constantly cold no matter how warm the weather is here in Southern California.

Finally I see this cowl neck top from Vogue and it fits the bill – long sleeve and stylish.

Vogue 8597 Cowl Neck Knit Top

There are many reviews of this pattern on I see that this pattern has some issues:

1) way too much ease – I think for the top to look stylish, it needs to be snugged.

2) armhole is way too low

3) cowl is too high – I want a biggish cowl

So thanks to everyone’s feedback, before I made the top, I altered the pattern. In fact, the top is quite easy to make; more than half of the time I actually spent on altering the pattern.

Vogue 8597 Cowl Neck Knit Top

Here are my alterations:

1) Eliminate the bust dart. Looking at the pictures again, I think the bust area does seem to need some shaping. But I just can’t get over the fact that this is a knit top. Knit top and darts just don’t go together.

2) Raise armholes 1.5 inches

3) I cut a size 6 (usually I wear a 10 or 12 in the Big 4 patterns). In additions, I removed 1.5 inches in the lower sleeve and 2 inches in the upper sleeve.

4) Add 0.5 inch in the upper bodice.

5) Lower the neckline 2 inches.

6) Increase the width of the cowl by 2 inches.

7) Lengthen the cowl by 3 inches.

See? I morphed it so much that it’s really not the original pattern anymore.


April 5th, 2010

My Burda dress (117 from May 2009) is not going well. I spent quite some time altering the pattern pieces, so I am quite upset about it. Here are what’s wrong with it:

1) Fabric is too soft – I think the dress is designed for fabric with a bit more body than charmeuse. The pleats in the front just drape too much, creating a high belly for me.

2) Bodice is too short – When I altered the pattern pieces, I didn’t even think about how long the bodice is. I should have added 1.5 to 2 inches to the length of the bodice.

3) The print of the fabric is so busy that I can’t see any design details at all.

I haven’t lined lined the dress yet, but I still haven’t figured out how to line it. The pattern wasn’t designed to have a lining in mind. Because one side of the front overlaps the other, and they end at the side front pieces, I haven’t figured out a satisfactory way to deal with the lining within hand sewing the side fronts.

Luckily my polyester charmeuse was not expensive.

I am not giving up yet. I am going to finish the dress (with no lining) as a muslin. So I can get the next one right.

Burda Dress 117 from May 2009

April 4th, 2010

I am going to make this dress using a polyester charmeuse that has been in my stash for a long time. I am thinking of not lining it, just because I feel a bit lazy. But I think the fabric is a bit thin for this style, so maybe I will have to add lining afterall.

Burda Dress 117 May 2009

There is one issue about it. The front piece is not the regular princess seam or waist/bust dart, so I don’t know how to do a SBA. I thought about it long and hard, and came up two options:

1) treat the front seam as princess seam and adjust like a princess seam.

2) decrease the size of the pleats at the front, and take a bit off the bottom of the front. This way the front is “flatter”.

I decided to use method 2, because looking at the side front, the “princess seam” doesn’t actually have a big curve, which I interpret that it doesn’t actually shape the bust that much.

This is my pattern. You see I drew 3 lines from the center of the pleats all the way to side of the front panel.

Burda 117 May 2009

Now I am thinking about it, the line should also go all the way to the side front.

This is really my way to “wing” it. So we’ll see how that goes…

Jersey from Mood

March 27th, 2010

Went to Mood Fabric to get some thread and zipper, but this poor buttery soft jersey just cried my name softly “please..” What is a girl to do in this situation? It would just be too cruel to ignore it. I just had to take it home and take good care of it.

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Simplicity 2588 Dress Muslin

March 25th, 2010

I don’t always make muslin. By the time I am done with the muslin, I lose interest in making the real thing. But I did one for this Simplicity 2588 dress, since it’s relatively close fitting, and I am going to use a rather expensive (to me) wool crepe fabric. I would not be a happy camper if I ruin this wool crepe.

I wanted to model this and be photographed by my talented husband, but I didn’t want to wait till I lose my blogging mojo.

Simplicity 2588 Dress

I approached the alteration differently this time. Instead of starting out with a size 10 and increase the size in the bottom, I started out with a size 12. I did a small bust adjustment as well as taking out 1/4 inch on the front and back side panels side seams. This works beautifully. My shoulders are comfortable and my hip and waist fit perfectly. I am really happy about the fit.

To match the altered side seams, I also had to make the sleeves narrower. I took a total of half an inch for each sleeve. This works out perfectly as my arms are usually too small for the sleeves.

Another alteration is a sway back adjustment. I took a half an inch wedge out of the lower back, tapering to nothing at the waist. You can see it here:

Simplicity 2588 Dress

You can see that this wedge cuts right through the back dart. But I taped the dart back to its original position.

For the “real” thing, I am going to line it. A word of caution to you who are not planning to line this dress – when you raise your arm, you might be able to see the armhole seam, because the sleeve is so short.

Simplicity 2588 Dress Armhole Seam

There are many different design variations for this dress, one of which is waist tabs. I love mine. It goes very well with the button I bought from downtown LA. A bag of 7 buttons only cost me 50 cents.

Simplicity 2588 Dress

The tabs actually start inside the back dart. It’s unusual and nice.

Simplicity 2588 Dress

I like the way I mitered the back vent.

Simplicity 2588 Dress

I still have some alteration I need to make in the real dress. To make the neckline lies closer to the body, I need to take 1/4 inch from the front neck band and about half an inch in the back.

Can’t wait to cut into the real fabric!

McCall’s 5971

March 25th, 2010

I don’t know when my friend is going to model the dress for me. But I am just so eager to put it behind me that I want to blog it and show it and then forget about it.

I am quite satisfied with the result. I am just not sure how it will fit. I actually made 3 muslins for this dress, since I was being so careful and didn’t want my friend not to be happy about it. But really, my friend’s figure is so drastically different from the “standard” size. She has very short torso and high waist. She has full arms and very high arm sync. The pattern has very low arm sync. According to Gorgeous Things blog, the dress was drafted for the sleeveless version and this long-sleeve version looks like an after-thought, so the armhole is really low. So combing this fact and my friend’s figure, I had to raise the armhole for almost 2 inches. But since her arms are full, I can’t make the sleeves smaller. Fitting the existing sleeves to the altered armholes was a real problem. So ultimately I decided to make gather sleeves.

Also, the neckline was extremely low and wide for my friend. I had to make it higher and narrower by 1 inch. After these alterations, her shoulders were a bit more square than the pattern, I had to make that change as well.

The good thing about this pattern is that it does come with different bust sizes. This version used the cup size D.

Another thing I like about this dress is that the fabric hangs beautifully. I bought this wool blend for $10/yard at Michael Levin. After this dress, I think I still have enough to make a skirt for myself.

Because of my muslin-making obsession and major procrastination, all this took me was 5 months. I hope to remember this pain before I agree to sew anything for anyone anymore.

Vogue new patterns

March 24th, 2010

Vogue just released so many nice designer patterns. I love the new Kay Unger designs. They are both classic and elegant.

Vogue 1128 Kay Unger

Vogue 1183 Kay Unger

However, I was experiencing a serious WTF moment when I saw this pattern.

Vogue 1181 Ralph Rucci

This is a Snuggie but shinier.

April 2010 Burda Magazine

March 23rd, 2010

I am extremely happy with the April issue of the Burda magazine. This is probably one of the very few that I can pick out more than 3 garments I would like to make (note: “would like to make” doesn’t neccessarily equal to “will make”; I haven’t sewn a single garment from the magazine for at least 5 months… I just have way too many other patterns.)

Here are just a few of my picks:

Burda Green Off-shoulder Dress

Isn’t this dress sexy? I don’t have any off-shoulder dresses, and can’t think of an occassion to wear it. But if I do, I would make this. Not too crazy about the way the bust point look in this picture though. I think it’s probably a contruction issue, not the pattern’s issue.

Burda Purple Taffeta Coat

This coat is very simple, but I LOVE that purple.

Burda Casual Wrap Dress

A casual loose fitting dress with gathers on one side.

Burda Polo Shirt Dress

A basic polo shirt dress. I just love the stripe fabric.

Burda Cardigan

Another basic and practical pattern.

Burda Cargo Pants

I don’t remember ever seeing cargo pants pattern, ever, from any pattern companies. When I travel to Costa Rica or other tropical places, I’d like to wear cargo pants. Definitely want to make these.

Burda Men's Cargo Pants

And MAYBE (a big maybe) I can make a pair for my husband. But he shouldn’t hold his breath.

There are a couple of patterns I like from this issue as well. Very happy about this issue.

My next project – Simplicity 2588 dress

March 18th, 2010
 I am finally done with my friend’s dress. But my friend hasn’t tried it on yet, so pictures will be forthcoming. I am just hoping that the dress fits her. I don’t know if I have any motivation and energy to modify the dress. To be quite honest, I’d rather give her a hundred bucks to buy a dress than making a dress for her. But that would be ultra rude.

So with that project hopefully behind me now, I am extremely excited to start a new project for myself (me me me me me me :-) ). After contemplating for 10 minutes, I decide to work on Simplicity 2588.

This is one of those Project Runway patterns with many different options. The pattern comes with neck band or yoke, flare or slim skirt, waist tabs or belt or ribbon or nothing, no sleeve or gather sleeves or flat sleeves. I picked neck band, slim skirt, waist tab and flat sleeves. Although I like the flare skirt, I always think it’s too “fairy tale” for me. I won’t have an occasion to wear that type of skirt.

This is sort of a muslin. I bought this white/blue fabric long time ago in downtown LA from Michael Levin’s by the pound. It has a texture like corduroy and it’s a bit stretchy. The quality is not superb though; after a wash, there is little lines across the fabric that can’t be ironed away. That’s why I think this is more of a muslin to check the fit. However, I do try to avoid obvious lines when I place the pattern on the fabric.

For this version, I am not going to line it. Who would line a muslin anyway? But the “real” version should be lined.

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