Butterick B5209 – an elegant version with added sleeves and front bodice detail

B5209 added sleeve and detail front view2

 

Once you find a pattern that suits you, you can never have too many dresses made from it. Butterick B5209 is the kind of pattern for which that statement holds true for me. I spend lots of my time trying to find new patterns, but I often tend to find that rather than trying them out, I end up just adapting one I already own. I love B5209 for its almost-70s silhouette and keep making changes to it with every new dress.

This version not only has added sleeves, but I also found a way to incorporate that gathered front detail which I first encountered in this dress. I made it for a job interview, and although I did not get the job, I got a compliment from my mum, saying how smart I look in it. Seeing that she is quite hard to please, that is quite an achievement in itself.

I am sure though that the “smartness” of this dress is mostly due to the great fabric I bought. I used sateen for the first time, and while it is a bugger to iron (it just loves to crease, as you can see in the pictures), it has a rather lovely sheen and weight to it. It looks expensive, so to speak. Which is not to say that it isn’t. 😉 Two metres of this set me back 48 CHF, which is probably at the lower end of what I would have spent on a smart-looking dress, if I had bought one. Obviously, I still had to put the work in, but I would rather spend three days making this than going to all the shops around town for a day and probably coming back empty-handed anyway.

 

B5209 added sleeve and detail close up

 

The front section is made up of a normal pattern piece and the same piece elongated (to about twice the length of the original piece). The longer piece is gathered and then stitched along the edges of the smaller piece.

 

B5209 added front detail
The sleeves are self-drafted puff sleeves. I made them quite short, but wide. My normal puff sleeve pattern had too much height and while starting out with it, I found that combined with the bulkiness of the sateen, it added too much volume at the top of the sleeve, giving the dress a sort of exaggerated 80s look. I actually finished them for the first time by sewing a tunnel and pulling elastic through. I really wanted to shir them and then hem them, but again, the fabric was too bulky to facilitate much of a gather that way.

 

Butterick B5209 added puff sleeve

 

The skirt is another self-drafted one. I wanted something a bit less full than I usually do, so I made sure to include darts at the back to make enough room.

 

B5209 added sleeve semi side view

Butterick B5209 added sleeve back view

B5209 added sleeve and detail front view

 

Making this version of Butterick B5209 made me really want to sew up another maxi dress. I guess this is down to the fact that I already added to the length of the skirt for this one, which makes it really easy to imagine a floor-length skirt. I have no idea where I would wear such a dress though, to be honest, but I just love long ball gowns. I’m sure it would be a good bridesmaid’s dress too, in the long or the short version.

 

 

Self-drafted Scuba Dress

scuba dress on me front

 

I’ve been a busy girl this week. First, I updated my blog with a coat I made a while ago, then I made this dress, and then I also made a cute bag, which I shall tell you about next week. There will be some instructions as well as a tutorial on how to make bag straps in a pretty easy way.

How did I find the time for all this? Well, for one, I am unemployed at the moment. 😉 However, if you have an overlocker, you already know how quickly you can assemble a garment, and it will come as no surprise to you that it took me less than 3 hours in total to make this dress (this time includes some pattern-drafting on an existing basic pattern). If you don’t have an overlocker andlike to work with jerseys, get one. Seriously. Just do it. It doesn’t have to be expensive. I bought mine second-hand from ebay for around 90 Euros.

What fabric did I use?

I bought this scuba from this website a few months ago (UK equivalent here). I only saw today that they finally have a scuba-section. They did a survey last year in which I stated that I wanted more scubas, which made me wonder if I had something to do with that. 😛 Seriously though, I love that I can now find scubas on there without going through all of the jersey-section.

What’s even better is that I have the exact same scuba in a different colour, which I ordered from calico laine and which, due to the catastrophe that is dhl, took about 3 months to arrive in Germany. I’ll post pictures of the dress I made with that in the future. I actually wore it to Uproar in the Dam, so that blog post is well overdue…

I do have a bit of a thing for scuba fabric, by the way…

Onto the pattern…

This dress is mostly self-drafted, but based on an old T-shirt dress of mine (see here). This version includes princess seams, which line up with the front seams of the 4 skirt panels. I added some additional seams between bust and shoulder and forewent the princess seams at the back. I also used some black scuba strips to insert into the neckline and arms and around the waist.

 

 

scuba dress front 1

 

scuba dress side view

 

Some close-ups of the front and back details

 

 

And another update on the Merrylock 3040

I want to show you the hem of this dress, because I’ve been sewing my hems with the Merrylock 3040 for a while now,  but the other day I was reading my blog post from when I first got it and I have to say, not only have I got used to it, it also makes a pretty decent hem now without destroying the fabric. Please see below how well it is now doing with crossing seams.

 

scuba dress hem with merrylock 3040

 

hem inside merrylock 3040

 

hemmed with merrylock 3040

Adapting McCall’s 6741 to make a space dress

McCall’s 6741 was the third dress pattern I ever bought. I have used it many times and changed it a few times along the way to make different garments.

The first time I made it, I chose a size that was essentially too big for me and I ended up taking it in quite a bit. In this case, I had picked a size 16, which was still better than the first dress I ever made, where I managed to ruin a pattern by cutting it out 3 sizes too big for me. 🙁 That pattern was also from McCall’s (6504) and even though I still like the shape of it, I cannot quite get myself to buy and make it again…

I have since decided to make the dress in a size 14, but add a fuller bust, which seems to work fine.

However, making this particular dress, I didn’t seem to take into account that I was going to overlock the seams, which leaves quite a bit more room, so another size down would have probably been more appropriate…

On top of that, the material is a bit stretchy as well, so I ended up taking it in a few times once again…

I must say though, I absolutely love this fabric. It is so gorgeous, and I could have never imagined making anything but a dress from this. Even though I bought it as a “digitally printed stretch jersey”, it feels quite a lot like a (one way) stretchy, but heavy satin and has a slightly shiny look to it.

 

digitally printed stretch jersey

 

I wanted a dress with a spacey look for this spacey fabric and adapting McCall’s 6741 seemed like the perfect choice to me.

First, I made the front panel into two pieces that would overlap just over the bust.

Here is the top and bottom piece:

 

edges sewn with the coverlocker

 

 

And here is what they looked like once I secured them on the sides:

 

all sewn together

 

 

I did the “hems” on those pieces (and on the whole dress) with my coverlocker and for once, I was happy with the result, despite using a stretchy fabric.

For the arms, I simply cut two 15 cm-strips of fabric that where slightly thicker in the middle and tapered off towards the ends. I sewed each one together lengthwise and inserted them into the armholes, with the middle of the strip meeting the shoulder seam.

I then hemmed the shoulder seams and made sure to straddle the seam where the “sleeve” and bodice meet. Here you can see the back and front view of the finished armholes:

 

arm finish back

 

arm finish front

 

I didn’t manage to finish hemming the whole dress, but this is what I plan on doing all around the hemline. I made each panel longer than the one before, so that the back is 21 cm longer than the front. However, I kept the edges instead of slowly grading them down, so that I get a kind of “stairs-like” hemline.

 

partly finished hem

 

Since I can’t wait to show it off, here is the dress in its half-hemmed state:

I am aware that these pictures aren’t the greatest at showing the dress off, but as I said, I just couldn’t wait… I will put pictures up once it is hemmed. Maybe I can get my husband to even take some of me in the dress. 🙂

I am currently working on a summer jacket as well as this and the “fox” dress (a panelled jersey dress, nicknamed in the process of making it, as the bodice had the appearance of a fox’s face), so I have a few unfinished projects at the moment. I also keep putting off making a short tracksuit jacket.

Since it is now only about 6 weeks to the HTID summer gathering, I better get a move on…

panel jersey dress

I have started doing too many things this weekend. I began work on two dresses and a jacket. Naturally, none of those projects were finished, but this dress is the one where I got the furthest. I only have to hem it and add the sleeves.

After making a few dresses out of cotton jersey and realising that I quite like the material, I decided to move on to the next challenge. Ultimately, I always want to make more complicated things and design lots of elements as I go along. I really enjoy changing patterns to add something a little bit extra or to make it more diverse.

This time, I decided to use two colours, purple and black, and divide the bodice to make a panel jersey dress. I made the panels up as I went along, so I didn’t think too much about it, but once I sewed them together, I realised they look quite a lot like a fox. 🙂

I used a jersey dress bodice pattern like this and cut where I thought would look good:

 

bodice all sewn together

I also shortened the sides by cutting off a triangle at the bottom.

These are all the panels for the front (the back is identical):

 

all panels

 

For the skirt, it was just a question of adding the required length on the side panels, so it would still meet the bodice where I shortened it.

And this is what the bodice looks like, once sewn up:

 

fox bodice

 

 

I lined the neckline, as I wanted it to be quite smooth. Also, I didn’t want to ruin it with my coverlocker by stretching it out… There are fabrics that it doesn’t hate, but cotton jerseys sadly don’t belong to that category.

Here is the lining from the outside:

 

lined bodice

 

and from the inside:

 

bodice and lining

 

 

Originally, I wanted to line the armholes as well and make it a sleeveless dress, but then realised that I should have left the shoulder seams unsewn. It wouldn’t have been difficult to rip them out again, but I generally don’t like the bulkiness I get when I sew shoulder seams after lining. My other option would have been to have an open back, which would have been a whole lot of work and it probably wouldn’t have lined up properly in the end. Well, there’s always next time…

Here is the dress, as yet unhemmed…

jersey panel dress

On the subject of next time though, I am definitely planning on making more panel dresses with more panels. 😉 It is definitely a part of sewing I enjoy immensely and it doesn’t appear to be too difficult.

 

Update

 

So in the meantime, I did get a bit of time to hem the dress, and even got my husband to take pictures of me in the finished version:

 

The summer dress made of “blue lizard” fabric

When I got all my new fabrics, I knew which one I wanted to work on first. Even though my husband said I would look like a blue lizard in an item made of this, it just had to be the ridiculous snakefoil jersey, didn’t it?

It’s a pretty lightweight fabric with plenty of stretch, so I knew a summer dress would be possible. Where I would wear such a thing, is still a mystery to me, but I somehow couldn’t keep away from the fabric. Maybe it was because it is so shiny, or maybe I have a yearning for outrageous dance clothing to an extent that even I didn’t realise. Somewhere in my mind, it says that it would be perfectly ok to wear a dress made of blue lizard fabric to a summer festival.

In any case, making the pattern was really easy. I simply used the pattern I made from taking apart my old dress in this post and changed the neckline so it wouldn’t be as low as it was before. I basically just cut the whole top of the bodice as a square to adjust later.

The neckline I had in mind, would be gathered at the top and end in a collar around the neck. I actually ended up pleating it, cause I felt too lazy to gather.

I also attempted to make more of a molded shape for me, not by adding darts but by cutting out and reshaping a whole section of the bust:

DSCI0210

 

 

I forgot to line up the seams with the skirt seams, so I need to remember to redo that for future dresses. I added a waistband to “hide” that fact a bit, or at least in my mind, make it look a bit less obvious.

This is the dress:

The back of the skirt is slightly longer, although I realise now that to really get the effect I wanted, the difference in length between front and back should have been larger. Since I only had about 1.5 metres of fabric, that was not an option though.

The waist sits a bit lower than I wanted and the bust seams sit just a bit under the bust, so I will redo the collar and shorten the bodice a touch.  The whole dress was sewn with my overlock machine.

To finish the edges, I used the rolled-hem foot of my overlocker. This is the second time I have used it, and while the hems are not as rolled as they could be, I really like the finish.

Here is the finish on the arm:

 

DSCI0215

And here it is on the skirt:

DSCI0216

 

 

DSCI0217

 

 

Unfortunately, the fabric has a tendency to lose it’s colour. While trying it on, I suddenly saw lots of white specks all over the front of the dress. When I tried to brush them away (don’t know what I was thinking), more appeared! It seems the blue “varnish” comes off the edges of the little metal plates that the coating is made of. I wonder how that would fare in a washing machine. I probably have to hand wash it, and even then I’d be worried about the loss of colour.

I am very tempted to do this again and improve on it, but since the quality of the fabric makes it so hard to rework it or even wear it more than once, I think I might have to find a better fabric first.

How to add a “t-shirt” neckline

Since getting my overlocker, I have been trying to make a decent neckline for a while and have finally found a version that works for me. Previously, I had been under the impression that the way to sew it on was to leave one shoulder seam unsewn, then put in the band, then close that shoulder seam.

The result was always way too stretchy and I had some wavy, disappearing necklines that I ripped out again or changed so that they would work as a bias binding on the inside of the dress.

I really wanted that t-shirt neckline though…

My problem was obviously that the band I was putting in was always too long.

So here’s how I managed to do it successfully on a dress I have been making for the summer:

 

fits exactly

 

1. I made sure my neckline band was about as long as the neckline of the dress by holding it loosely onto the dress. I had taken a strip of the dress material and ironed it to fold it into a band.

 

before sewing

2. I sewed the ends of the band together.

 

lined up sides

3. Since my band only had one seam, I lined that one up with one of the shoulder seams. Finding the halfway point of the band, I lined that up with the other shoulder seam. The non-folded side of the band is going to line up with the neckline of the dress.

 

all pinned on

 

4. I pinned. While doing that, I had to stretch the band a bit to fit onto the neckline, since I was putting it on the outside of the dress. You can see how wavy the dress is becoming around the neck as it is pulled by the tight band.

 

5. I sewed with the overlocker. While doing so, I had to make sure the dress fabric didn’t escape me. Somehow it still managed, so now the band is a bit wider in some places. It might be better to sew with the inside of the dress facing upwards, as I could have seen it better then.

 

Well, here is the finished product from the front:

 

one more or less perfect neckline

 

 

and the back:

 

and from the back

 

and while we’re at it, here’s the whole dress:

 

the full dress

 

from the back

 

You can see that the shoulders are a bit wonky. I blame my coverlocker for this, but I will master it at some point, I’m sure. The stretchy material is quite forgiving though, so you can barely see it when I wear it.

The fabric is from stoffe.de, the British equivalent is myfabrics.co.uk. At 17.95 euros/15 pounds it is rather expensive, but I treated myself to two metres of it and I think I might have enough left for a short (ending just under the bust) or very short (think cyberdog-short, which ends over the bust) tracksuit jacket. I guess it would be more of a shrug.

It’s a lovely fabric (if you’re into colours) and was really easy to work with. The stretch is pretty good and it has a great drape to it.

I realise that it’s crazy colourful, but I bought it with the sole purpose of wearing it in a field in England this summer, while dancing to some UK Hardcore and/or Drum’n’Bass.

 

 

The beautiful 70s GDR sewing magazine

... and how I tried to make sense of it.

A little while ago, I was looking for some patterns for a 70s dress (which I still want to make, but I will cover that in another post). It seems that most modern patterns don't have the style that I want for this, so I turned to ebay to find some vintage patterns or magazines from the time.

I only saw the cover of this 1970s magazine, but I instantly loved it. Admittedly, it being a GDR sewing magazine might have played a role in this decision. It is a lovely glimpse into the past, and (so I thought) I could ask relatives and work colleagues, who had inevitably made their own clothes at that time, to help me.

However, not being able to see inside, I didn't know what I was in for. First, I loved the look of it, even though it was already falling apart in my hands. The cover came off pretty much as soon as I opened it, but I didn't really expect anything else. It is a very thin magazine, but there are a number of patterns to be found.

On the few pages, one can find (very wide) trousers, lots of blouses, some jackets and skirts, and most importantly, a lot of dresses.

 Here are some examples

Since printing a whole magazine in colour was expensive and therefore unusual, some of the pictures are in black and white. I don't think this is a problem, as it's the cuts I'm interested in. However, describing something as having red binding to make it stand out and then showing a black-and-white picture seems somewhat crazy.

I had looked up GDR sizing before, but the pattern actually gives the indicated measurements. I will explain it here:

size  m76 m82 m88  m94
bust (in cm/in)  84/33  90/35  96/38 102/40
waist (in cm/in)  58/23 70/28 76/30 82/32
hips (in cm/in)  90/35 96/38 102/40 108/43

 There are bigger sizes, as well as short and tall sizes, but the ones above are the standard that seems to be used for most of the patterns.

My initial thought was to just use the patterns in m94, which is closest to my measurements, and adjust it slightly in the hip and bust area.

Little did I know that the items in this magazine were only meant to be sewn in the size they were displayed in. Therefore, the pattern for each piece of clothing is only in one size. That size is mostly m82. I'm going to have to adjust them dramatically to fit me.

Now, let me give you a glimpse of the beautiful maze that is the pattern pieces:

 

My current method for copying the things I actually want to sew consists of taking the pattern, pinning swedish tracing paper on top, copying the lines onto that with a marker, then cutting them out. I know I should really invest in some copying paper and a tracing wheel...

The swedish tracing paper has the massive advantage of me being able to see what the patterns look like, sew them together as a very rough mock-up and manipulate them however I want.

For this maze of patterns, I am going to mark the patterns I want with colour pencils and then try and trace them. It's going to be really hard not to destroy the brittle paper (which is newspaper quality).