Monday, August 6, 2012

Finishing, Fitting, Fixing

I have done a bit of sewing, in case you were wondering. I pulled one item out of the UFO pile, one out of the mistake pile, and one out of the old tee shirt pile, and ended up with quite a collection of completed projects.

One of my very early sewing projects was the Burda Heidi dress.  I was influenced by Erin at A Dress A Day when she had made so many nice versions of the pattern that I just couldn’t resist it any longer.

This was early in my return to sewing last year, and my first experience with Burda, so I made a few mistakes. I cut the pattern sizes according to the stated measurements, but never thought to measure the pattern. The skirt fit fine, but the bodice was about six inches too big in every direction. The neckline was so wide and so low that without a top underneath, it framed a huge expanse of my chest, making it look wide, square, and even flatter than it already is. The “cap sleeves” slipped off my shoulders.  The width of the top bloused out and hung down over the waistline.

This, the only photo I have, is from after I took up three full inches of the shoulder seams and created a sort of gathered shoulder out of the cap sleeve. It wasn’t the worst looking dress, but since I was unhappy with it, I never wore it.

In my rescue attempt over the weekend, I first split the bodice from the skirt. Fortunately I had an extra yard of this fabulous pixilated rose print left over, plenty to cut a waistband. I cut off the side placket zipper at the top of the skirt, attached the waistband, and the skirt was ready to wear!

The little green top is recycled from an oddly tent-shaped, tunic-length tee shirt that got too small at the neck and shoulders. I cut off the entire upper portion of the tee from the sleeves up, flipped it upside-down so the hem was at the top and the cut edge was at the bottom, and sewed two short shoulder seams. (I don’t have any photos of the process since the whole thing was an experiment with no anticipation of success!) Now it’s a very comfortable cowl neck, batwing tee. Maybe not quite right for this skirt but I liked the accidental color match.

I could have just thrown away the bodice pieces from the Heidi dress, but I also had the leftover fabric and I just love the print, so I decided to try to squeeze out a blouse. I’d been wanting to try another Hot Patterns style so I settled on this one, good for drapey fabrics and also using lots of small pieces. I managed to reuse the back bodice of the Heidi dress for the upper back of the blouse, while the front bodice was large enough to use for some of the facings. I cut everything else out of the remaining yardage, although I did not have enough for sleeves. I cut short bias strips to finish the armholes.
beautiful fabric, impossible to see garment detail!
I did quite a few fit adjustments on this pattern. First of all, if you ever use Hot Patterns, remember that their sizing is not the same as the Big 4. I cut the size 10, grading to 12 at the hips (normally a 14-16 in Big 4). I then had to adjust down a size at the waist, so I’ve essentially got three sizes in this version of the blouse. I think the fit will be different with different fabrics since there are so many seams, gathers, and other variables.

The colors look great with my green basketweave trousers. I’ve decided I LOVE this blouse and will make a few more.

This green eyelet dress is another long story so I’m going to try to make it short.
I ordered some ivory cotton eyelet, imagining that I could dance through a flower-filled meadow in a soft, floaty summer dress. When it arrived it was actually cotton poly, and not at all soft or floaty, but very stiff. And shiny. Perfect for a wedding dress, but not much else. I thought that dying it a dusky sage green would tone it down (30 minutes in Rit Dark Green). It turns out that sage green, when it’s very shiny, looks nearly silver. Oh well, now it’s perfect for the matron of honor.

Averted from my meadow-dancing dress plans, I determined to make as much use of the pretty scalloped edges of the fabric as possible, so I put them on the skirt and sleeve hems, and arranged the bodice neckline so that each side of the “V” and the little cross panel would each be cut with scallops. I am happy to say the scallops all came out quite nicely. In fact, I think the entire dress is one of my finest successes. I just have to encourage someone to get married, so I have an occasion to wear it.

I have one more dress makeover and two more ufos in the hopper, and then the coast is finally clear for new stuff.

Is anyone else sewing?


  1. 4 great results! Love them them all.
    Neat idea with the upturned t-shirt.

    I've been sewing today after not touching the machine in weeks. Altering a skirt I made a couple of yrs ago - not finished, think it would have been quicker to rip the whole thing apart. Never mind. Then I've got a dress to alter. With the continued rain I should make more sewing progress tomorrow.

    1. Thanks!
      I've noticed that after a year or two, I'm finally over the seething frustration and ready to come back and repair or remake my old projects. It can be quite rewarding! Good luck with your alterations, look forward to seeing the results.