Tuesday 3 November 2020

Back to the Future, the second Burda longer dress, (a 'handkerchief') dress meant for autumn, November, 2019 103 A/B EPIC FAIL. Should it see out 2020 or die an (ig)noble death?

 The second autumn dress I sewed up for Fall-Winter 2019 repeat 2019 pre-Covid was another attempt to wear the longer skirts lengths without looking dowdy. I wore skirts and culottes this length in the 70's the first time around and still have some fantastic Vogue Designer patterns from that era to prove it. It's a little harder to wear now that I'm so much older, with wider hips, a shortening torso, and the inability to trot all day in the high-heeled boots that make it work best. But I liked the grace of this silhouette after so many years of tight, knee-length sheaths.

This was made up in a drapey navy-blue leopard viscose print ordered online.  There are two unsatisfactory things about my fabric choice for this design: First, the 'leopard print' is too busy to see any of the waist piecing and second, the underside of the fabric is noticeably different from the printed side. Ideally, the skirt should flow without drawing attention to the two sides of the hemline.

This dress is a fabric hog as the skirt pieces are cut on the bias. I'm not sure I'm really feeling this handkerchief hem. And to do it, I needed 3.5 metres of fabric, almost twice the fabric needed for a sheath dress.

Well, it was a good thing I had extra; I decided that Burda's strange single bow design looked sad, even half-assed. (Even though a secretary wears one of these single-bow blouses in white silk in the recent BBC David Hare thriller Roadkill starring Hugh Laurie.) My solution was to cut mirror pieces of the long tie for a classic pussy bow blouse instead.

This dress was also a frightening reminder of how much my skills and patience have slipped. I forgot how to do a proper invisible zipper and made a bit of a mess of it. Only later did I review Kenneth Lane's excellent Youtube on this particular step and have resolved not to mess up again.

But worse! I misread the instructions and doggedly went ahead putting in the zipper below the collar point, assuming the collar folded down over the zip in the back. Wrong. So I had to add a dirty fix—to close the collar at the top.

Added to that frustration the fact that, in the end, I wouldn't have chosen this fabric online if I'd had a chance to see it up close. It doesn't look like leopard print at all, just a messy, ugly print. An entire long dress of this stuff just looks... awful. I'm not sure how much wear, if any, this dress will see.

UPDATE as of January 2020, not worn once. EPIC FAIL
UPDATE as of February, 2020 worn once under a long navy cardigan to casual dinner out. Looked all right, just, as the cardigan gave it a bit of shape at the waistline.
UPDATE as of March, quarantined, so no need to wear a dress until 2021.
UPDATE Lost weight during lockdown, so took it in at the side seams. Looking at it again and thinking it's okay to bring out for autumn 2020. So maybe I'll post this to ask all of you:
UPDATE okay, it's the one-year anniversary of wearing this dress exacly once. So I put it on and styled it with a similar long cashmere cardigan, this time in beige.

I think it just passes, but hell, it took me a year to figure out what to do.What do you think? Is it okay or the ugliest dress in town?

Thursday 10 September 2020

ARRRGGH! Trying to delete some spam comment, I lost all your wonderful comments going back at least a year! I'm so sorry! (meanwhile...) Burda Easy Cardigan January 2020 models 4A+C. A modest replacement with a few hesitations.

Okay, I think I've sorted out this new Blogger format and restored all your valuable comments that do cheer up my days. If I missed an important one, let me know...and I'm trying to thank KS below for her kindness about the Epic Fail jumpsuit, and Blogger keeps saying I'm in error, so...arh again.

Sadly, I long had a beloved navy blue cardigan that finally died. I had just successfully built up a capsule wardrobe of navy blue items, (various blue blouses, a pull-on stretch pencil skirt from Burda Easy, navy jeans, tights, culottes, leggings, navy and white striped T's, a navy cashmere turtleneck stolen from my husband,) you get the idea.
For me, navy had become 'the new black' over the last few winters. The jewels in my capsule were two navy-blue jumpsuits to be worn under various kimonos in silky blue prints for evenings with friends at home. I wore one to the wonderful wedding of goddaughter in England under one of my kimonos, blogged already.
But the basic piece that pulled many of these combos together by day was my basic navy cardigan.
Now dead. I scraped it across some wet white paint and when I tried to remove the paint, I rubbed an actual hole in the weave in the front tail.
I have tried here, with only some success, to replace it. With the best of intentions, I ordered a navy blue knit online that turns out to have just a tinge of too much violet to it. And the pattern I chose, which looked quite trendy in Burda Easy in January 2020 may not be my style. The hem is asymmetric, the sleeves are a bit too dolman for my taste and without neater finishing by a knit cuff or elastic, the sleeves require being pushed up the arm not to look a bit naff. There are no buttons, so the tie from Version A is a must, as are the pockets from Version C. I had to make little thread belt loops which I hate doing, too.
But let's give it a winter to break in and I may learn to love it as much as my long, slim-line classic with the buttons.

Wednesday 9 September 2020

CONFINEMENT SEWING PART II Croquet Dresses for Lockdown Games, Burda Easy March 2020 #4C, Burda Style 6-2020-118, and Burda Style 4-2020 cover model, with Burda's Hollywood homage

During a summer of serious Covid confinement, keeping in consideration my soon-80-year-old husband's lung frailties and my own last decade of serious health treatments, we needed to find a more and immediate source of daily joy here in our Swiss village in hard-hit virus-heavy Vaud. Our three adult kids were in lockdown in London. Our constant worries for them with their employment abruptly curtailed or, in one case seriously overloaded, were sometimes overwhelming. Our routine companions here were also being ultra-careful because of age and health histories and sticking close to home. I continued writing and husband continued his own projects, but...meh...

We had wonderful weather, a large house and garden to enjoy, a vast library of music and books to rediscover, the internet and a new Netflix account, and myriad digital contacts with friends and family. And we've kept our health, fingers crossed, so far. The numbers are shooting up again and we know we're counted among the 'vulnerable.'

But we mourned our cancelled vacation to a beloved hotel on the Ligurian shore in Italy, where the virus has been raging up and down the coast with the coffins piling up, as well as our traditional visits to rough it lakesite at camp with extended Swiss family in Walchwil, not far from Zurich, another national hotspot of infection. I also missed all our usual outings to concerts in Lausanne and Geneva for which I love getting properly dressed.

So, no occasions, no meetups, no sewing?

Working hard as usual, we still needed to play away from the computers on a regular basis. So we settled into a serious season of good old-fashioned American croquet, with suitable iced drinks and lots of laughs. And I sewed three 'croquet' dresses, (as this is a decorous sport, to say the least.) White sneakers were de rigeur.

First, the striped linen-viscose number, with its very loose-fitting, dropped waist and unfitted bodice is my tribute to the 1920's resort of Deauville, using Burda's Easy March 2020, 4C. The only challenge of this model was to match up the stripes and reverse the given layout for the more interesting horizon/vertical effect of the stripes.

The second dress, Burda Style's 6-2020-118, is my tribute to a 1940's tea dress, with its chintzy viscose print, fitted waistband, and slightly puffed shoulder seam. To mature this wrap dress a little for a woman my age, I finished the lower edge of the sleeve without the gathered puff. The construction of this design's waist band extending into ties turned out to be a bit of a puzzle. I had to take it slowly, and translate Burda's cryptic instructions from the French into English with an uncharacteristic level of attention. Their construction of what should have been a straightforward collar was also odd and I ended up just reverting to what I was used to doing with similar collars, using a technique from a book of couture shortcuts.

My third 'croquet dress' is a rip-off of the Pretty Woman polka dot dress, done in a lively red viscose.

This is a beast of a skirt to hem, as the skirt pieces are cut on the bias, but the result gives a really lovely flow. I skipped the slit cut at the back neckline as I found this construction cheaply designed, without a center seam and in the end, unnecessary. The dress slips over your head without any special opening at the back.
This was the featured cover dress of the April 2020 Burda which included a wonderful tribute to memorable dresses from Hollywood, including Julia Roberts' brown version in Pretty Woman. I love the rare occasions when Burda does this.

The Russian cover for the same Burda Style April edition featured Grace Kelly's outfit by the wonderful Edith Head from Rear Window. But notice that Grace's version, in an expensive silk faille? or taffeta? has been carefully lined, while the Burda version isn't. I'd add a lining for more elegance.

CONFINEMENT SEWING, PART I Rescuing the 'Epic Fail' blue linen jumpsuit and a new white Burda Easy Japanese workshirt in broderie Anglaise cotton.

As the late, great Alan Rickman says in the comic film, Galaxy Quest, 'Never Give Up, Never Surrender!'

Remember the 'Epic Fail' blue linen jumpsuit on which I spent so much money for high-quality imported linen, only to end up with a baggy, crumply mess I wore only once, to the Verbier Music Festival when our Fiddlerkid was performing? (below) The Burda Style pattern featured a very long torso and the design was suitable only to Burda's choice of a satiny, drapey fabric that settled discreetly over the elasticated waist. My quality linen puffed out too much.

The waste of such good fabric hurt my heart. I finally bit the bullet and ripped out the waist seam and made a very serviceable work shirt and pair of pull-on pants that I've been actually getting wear out of all summer. Here's my new rescue version, cut in half.

The new white wrap shirt above is a second version of the Burda Easy Japanese workshirt I already blogged, below, (this time without the sleeves.) The white version is a direct copy of the model featured on the cover of that edition of Burda Easy,

which is why I fell in love with the pattern in the first place. Because of its tight wrap effect at the waist, I can get away with a pretty unexciting elasticated waist from the jumpsuit as it was.

The blue ruffled shirt below also covers the 'sin' of the elasticated waistband and is Burda Style 3-2019-111, also blogged before.

My revised, rescued linen shirt goes well with my hardworking jean skirt constructed as learned in Berkeley in 1970. (Vaccuum not included.) Here the excess fabric that ruined the drape of the jumpsuit bodice turned out to give me enough shirttail to tuck it into a belted bottom. 


Tuesday 28 April 2020

Burda peasant blouse 03/2020 #116

Of course there seems little point in sewing when you're stuck at home for months on end, (not only because of Swiss limits to groupings of five but out of concern for an elderly spouse with chronic respiratory problems.) But before the virus doldrums really hit, I sewed this item, which came out pretty well. I made the mistake of lengthening it by some inches, confusing it with the similar #117 which is shorter with 3/4 length open sleeve hems, so my version could even serve as a bathing suit coverup.
I mail-ordered the fabric, a polyester navy chiffon with a kind of ditzy praire print, with a reasonable hand, from tissus.net. This blouse requires a lot of tedious gathering and I think the interest of the time-consuming double yoke and double tie design feature is lost in the pattern of the fabric I chose. Now that I know it works out, with the double ties and all, I might make another and simpler one that shows off the design.