my pet Snakes finally slither their way into the party…
This Year’s Snake & Last Year’s Snake
This Year’s Snake & The Year Before’s Leopard
Thank goodness the party’s held in the Americas, affording me a few extra hours to get them ready. This year’s Jungle Pets are actually quintuplets. Or maybe that should be sextuplets since I manage to squeeze a couple of scarfs in too. Unfortunately two of the batch didn’t hatch in time. So all you’re getting are these two + scarfs.
I really must start next year’s Jungle Beasts early…Like in Jungle June or July?
My inspiration was a shrug that I found at some online shop the name of which eludes me now. I briefly considered shrug patterns that were essentially a rectangle sewn into a tube with a stretch in the middle of the seam left unsewn. But I thought either the sleeve will be too loose or the bodice too small, so I went searching for other options. Burdastyle 2013-11-111 pattern has a bit of shaping to it so I thought it might make a good starting point.
Style Shots & Mug Shots
I used 36 this time, which is what the size chart would have me use. I frequently use 34 for a better fit. But because the pattern was designed for knit, and I’m using woven, I decided to go with the size closest to my Top/Dress Block for wovens. In this case it was size 36.
It was quite a visual process this time, so I’ll let the picture do the talking. You can see how I’ve laid my Top/Dress Block + Basic Sleeve Block together to assess the Burda pattern and decide what needs changing. I think the changes might be due to my sloping shoulder plus the posterior position & pitch of my arm joints.
Added 4″ knitted 2×2 rib for collar / bodice extension.
Construction is pretty much the same as the Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the Second. The neckline/back hem were stablized with Vilene Bias Tape & overlocked. The seams were stitched & 3-thread overlocked.
Collar/back hem extension is 2×2 ribs hand knitted with 2.75mm – 4.5mm needles, so it flares out without any increases to confuse me! :-) The casting on was again approx 8 stitches per inch & multiples of 4 (my rib pattern).
The sleeve hems I ended up hand-overcasting, then weaving in a few extra yarns near the edge so that they’re denser like the salvedge.
On the plus side I’m glad I added the knitted collar/back hem extension. This now feel more like a little bolero jacket that’ll stay on rather than detached sleeves that I might have to constantly tugged at. And the Oops…The sleeves on this one are a bit tight for something that’s a cover up. I can only wear this with short-sleeve & sleeveless tops. The fabric again makes it a delicate garment. And what’s with the mini-wings at my back armholes right?
I’ll wear this alright…if only I have more white / pale color clothing & accessories to go with it…
So as I was browsing my Burdastyle pile for SWAP inspiration & came across this top. Checking Burdastyle.com for pretty pictures I noticed the image file name mentions Balmain. Isn’t that some fancy schmancy designer?
I actually rather like the Burda version. The designer original looks really clunky. I reckon it would look terrible on us plebs. I might make the Burda one with Organza front and back, and Georgette for the sides and sleeves. One to sleep on.
When I was making the Georgette lace applique top I agonized over lining the see-through top or not. I’m not fond of the bra + transparent top look. Not so much because it’s risque as much as not liking how the horizontal band of the bra make my already short waisted torso look wider and squatter. Over a bustier or long-line bra would be OK though. But I wasn’t ready to tackle shapewear! So I settled on a more form fitting slip-like camisole that can also be worn on its own.
batch 6 inspiration
From Draping, The Complete Course
My inspiration started out with the blue camisole above that I found on Etsy (can’t find it again). It turns out to be almost the same as a bias camisole that’s demonstrated in Draping: The Complete Course, one of the draping books I own. I tried to follow the draping instruction. But couldn’t get it to be close fitting without horizontal draglines across the front. Maybe I was using the wrong type of muslin. But trying again with the China Silk yielded no better result. And the cowl drape wouldn’t work for a camisole that need to work under other tops as well. So I decided to adapt the pattern I used for the Snake Print Dress I made earlier this year. After all, it was originally designed for chiffon cut on the bias, and is slip like with waist shaping.
First I used style tape (1/4″ black twill tape) on her to figure out the neck edges, hem, and internal seam / style lines I want.
Then I pin fitted the Burdastyle 2012-04-128 lining pattern tissue on Q and pin out the drape on the front neckline. I used the lining pattern because it has less drape than the shell pattern, so less confusing to alter. I marked the alteration, the style line, and other alterations I wanted to make on the pattern tissue.
Next I made the flat pattern alteration by pivoting and tracing onto a fresh tissue paper. The changes are:
Transferred the pinned out CF bust dart to the french dart by pivoting on the bust point. Judging from the front armhole gap and comparison to my Fitted Top Block, I might not have pivoted enough. But it was hard to tell with tissue fitting. When I tested this new pattern on Q it was quite snug already. Maybe I should have made a muslin for such close fitting garments that have lowered neck edge since the whole chest-boob area is such a varied landscape.
Moved the back dart towards CB to match Q / my Fitted Top Block. I wanted the straps to visually continue the line created by the back dart seam. I also hoped that closer set straps would be less likely to fall off my sloping shoulder.
Moved some of the waist ease from the F/B darts to the side seam to create a slightly more nipped in waist look.
Reshaped neckline / top edge per style line on Q.
Reshaped hem per style line on Q.
Added Georgette band details to the front neckline & the hem. The neckline band pattern is per the style line on Q. The hem band is just bias strips.
Fabric & Notions Used
China Silk from B&J Fabrics, NYC. It was a toss up between this & the Charmeuse I used for the lace skirt. But since I’m cheesed off China Silk after a jacket lining made from it became tattered way too quickly, I decided to try to use up my stash of China Silk asap & not get anymore. It feels so smooth & soft, but actually is a bit, erm, bouffant, floaty. So I really struggle to think of designs that would work well in it. Anything requiring voluminous drape probably won’t work. But a slip top might be fine. And this is a nice ivory color that goes well with the Silk Georgette…
China Silk is a bit thin & translucent. So I decided to double it up with a self-fabric lining. That solves my neck edge seam finish in one stroke. No fiddling with facing or binding.
The translucency also means you see shadow of the SAs. So I kept most SAs skinny with 3-thread overlock seams. But for the shell layer darts I kept the SA because I like how their vertical wedges create an optical illusion of a slimmer bodice. I had to trim the deeper french dart SAs down to match the other dart SAs so the shadows will look intentional, and not just an oversight.
I picked overlocked seams because I thought maybe their stretchiness would grow with the bias seams and avoid puckering. The jury’s still out on whether it worked or not.
For hem I left the edges raw. Then sew the bias Georgette strip on the fold line to the shell about 1/2″ from the hem edge. The Georgette is then pressed downward, giving me a nice graduated transition from more see-through hem to relatively opaque bodice. I love the airy effect this creates!
Because I will be washing the top, so will need to press out the wrinkles, I decided to keep the lining separate from the shell at the hem. It’s easier to press each layer separately. But for dressing & undressing, it’s easier if the layers function as one. So I added snaps at the side seam hem to keep the layers together but separable.
Now the Oops…
Oh you d*** straps! Unfortunately setting them closer together in the back still didn’t prevent them from falling off my shoulders. I tried inserting clear elastic in them, having read about this trick on PR. But it only hoist the whole camisole up and the straps slip right off again. Boo. Maybe it’s because my top is so light and not skin tight. Perhaps that trick only works when there’s horizontal tension (like bra band) and/or vertical tension (like swimsuit crotch or weight of a heftier dress) to anchor the bodice and activate the strap elastic tension.
Gap-ahoy becomes puckering-ahoy. I really needed that muslin! As I said above, I might not have pivoted enough from CF bust to the french dart. (There actually was a small wedge left. But Q said it was tight enough already.) I only discovered this once the two layers were sewn together at the top edge. My only option was to undo & add another dart from the front armhole, OR add clear elastic to the top edge SA. Both are ugly. One’s a lot less work. Which do you think I went for? Next time I swear.
Sharp turn ahead. The Georgette band at front neckline really doesn’t work because of the sharp turn where it joins the China Silk. The style line looked fine on Q. So not a clue. Live & learn I guess.
Well, I like the hem? And the idea of the Georgette neckband too. But the execution is really a fail. Not enough though to make this unwearable. After all, it’s first & primary purpose is to exist underneath other garments. It looks fine under the Georgette lace applique top, and under a jacket or open front shirt. In short with anything that will hide it’s warts. So mission accomplished is all I can say.
But the hunt for the perfect camisole pattern continues…
I liked this outfit even before I got the lace. But it was waiting for the right fabric to come along. Yes amongst my overflowing stash there was nothing right for this.
I was also a bit terrified of anything not fitted. Because of my height. Or lack of. Plus the impending middle age spread. So I have tended towards fitted styles in recent years. But I think it’s time to rethink. Because so many edgy kids rock it! So I vow to explore how volume can be incorporated without out looking like the Michelin Man. This is my first baby step towards that direction.
Style Shots & Mug Shots
Fabric & Notions Used
Silk Georgette from Borovick Fabrics, London. I chose limp, drapy, and translucent Georgette to counter the boxier shape. Along with the bias cut I hope it will make this looser fitting top less scary to wear. Plus it makes this top go with the lace skirt I just made should I ever want the coordinated look.
34. Going by sizing chart I would be 36. But checking the sizes against my Fitted Top Block shows that 34 should have enough ease.
OK, alteration of looser fitting garment is a bit of a black art to me. I don’t know how to approach it methodically. So I wing it with lots of trial & errors. Then of course I don’t remember exactly how I get to the end. I think I might have done the following…
Align CB/CF of pattern with my Block, with Neck-Shoulder (NS) point of pattern on the Block shoulder seam. Back is more straight forward – there’s only one place where these meet. I then see where that is on the shoulder seam and try to get the front NS to be on same horizontal level.
Check widths & lengths:
I did this simultaneously since the side seam is shaped. So where I shorten will affect the widths at the key levels (underarm, bust, underbust, waist, high hip, hip).
Since there’s no guide to how long the top should be, I decided to go hip length. Hem width was just about right for hip length. So I didn’t want to shorten at the hem and mess up the hip width.
I needed to shorten different amounts in the front and the back. I also took into account how low the armhole goes and where I want the narrowest part of the top to be. So I ended up shortening in two places:
Armhole level just above where the side seam starts. This allows for different amounts for front (1″) and back (5/8″) without affecting the side seam. It also shorten the armhole to reduce risk of indecent exposure.
Side seam level at the waist. This is equal amount front & back (both 2″) to avoid mismatched side seam lengths.
It may look like the back doesn’t have enough widths in places. But there’s a bit of extra width in the front. Plus the back darts won’t be sewn. Plus there’s already a bit of ease built into the Block I’m checking against. So the back is actually fine pattern-wise. I presume a bias cut would also provide a little bit of needed stretch.
Added shaped CB seam. Firstly because I didn’t have enough Georgette left. And since I have to add the seam I might as well put it to good use by adding a little bit of waist shaping (3/4″ each side, 1-1/2″ total). It’s yet another one of my Figure Flattery theory. That with looser fitting tops, because of my body shape & posture, I’d look too tubby from the side view if both front & back hang straight down from the fullest parts (bust / shoulder blade). I know, most people aren’t going to look at me from the side. But the Stylist In Me won’t let it slide. She’s in agreement with Alexander McQueen about going after a “cut and proportion and silhouette that works all the way round the body” by starting with the “worst angle of the body” – ie the side with “all the lumps and bumps, the S-bend of the back, the bum.” But for all that you can hardly see the difference in this top. Bummer!
So that’s the changes I made. Whether it works or not I’m not 100% sure. Especially my attempt to shape and skim my figure. Because this will be cut on the bias. And bias supposedly stretch and droop. Especially on limp drapy fabrics like Georgette. So will my attempt at shaping be totally pointless? Will the pattern’s bust and waist and hip end up lower in the finished garment thanks to gravity pulling on the stretchy bias?
Has anyone found sound advise on evaluating bias garments patterns for fitting adjustments? Do all the shaping like vertical darts needs to be shortened and by how much? The only advise I’ve seen is in Kenneth King’s Moulage CD book where he mentioned a rough rule of thumb of expecting every 6″ of bias length to stretch an extra 1/4″ (ie to 6-1/4″). I presume this is a really rough estimate and different fabrics will stretch different amount, and possibly depending on the bias direction (which direction the grain and cross grain end up).
Burdastyle instruction is of course as cryptic as ever. I wonder if the new BS US edition of the magazine gives better instruction. In this case, because of the drawstring casing, I did read through the instruction to get a sense of what need to be done when. I think a crucial step is missing – the side seams – not mentioned anywhere!!!??? I did mine (and my new CB seam) before step 1 so that I can do french seams on these more easily.
I also took advice on sewing on the bias and started with larger SA on vertical seams, thread traced seam & hem, basted and hanged the top for a day, then checked the fit before sewing permanently, hanged again & checked the hem before hemming. And with this Georgette there is definitely different amounts of stretch along the two different bias grainlines. When I cut out I was careful to ensure that the lengthwise grain run from left shoulder to right hip on both front & back. After hanging, one side the hem did grow longer than the other. Sorry, I forgot which side and forgot to take pictures. Anyway, I recut the hem to make it level before hemming. Hopefully it’s not going to grow any further and I won’t end up with an unintentionally lopsided top!
Again, I used loads of spray starch while cutting and sewing to make the bias Georgette easier to handle. But neither that, nor the advice to stretch the bias seam as you sew, helped in preventing puckering bias seams. Urgh. I wonder if it is possible to sew on the bias without puckering. Or do I have to resort to the Madeleine Vionnet method (bias garment with diagonal seams on the straight / cross grains)?
The front neckline gathering looked a bit puffy. But I was able to hide all that with the applique lace by not applying it flat to the Georgette (which would have resulted in puffing in the lace as well). Instead I used the lace to pull in the gather so that the lace is relatively flat when worn.
The back neckline I tried to stabilize with a strip of selvedge prick stitched by hand. I was never fond of machine stay-stitching. The visible stitch (even if it’s only on the inside) looks ugly to me. Plus on bias in a shifty fabric I was worried that the neckline would stretch as soon as the pattern is off anyway. I’ve read somewhere that for stabilizing bias edges you should stay stitch with the pattern still on – ie sew through both the pattern and the fabric. But still ugly. So I generally use the fusible Vilene Bias Strip that Burda recommends for edge stablization nowadays. I couldn’t use that this time because the fabric is translucent. So self-fabric selvedge cut to the length of the edge line seemed like the best solution.
I’m fairly happy with the top. The construction quality could be better. But I do like the design and my fabric choices. I think it’ll be a good wardrobe builder, a team player with a bit of textural interest, who could swing for both feminine and masculine outfits. Just my cup of tea!
BTW, the top also looked nice before I gathered the front neckline and added the lace. The same pattern is actually also used for a cowl neck top in the magazine (BS 2012-05-110). While I might not make another one immediately (too many other designs to try!) I’d definitely sew this again when this top gets tatty, and then I might also experiment with cowl front neckline with draw string only in the shoulder seams.
BTW, my lace was pieced from scraps in the same way as the matching lace skirt. As I was in hand-sewing purgatory on a roll I thought I might as well let my inner Scottishness shine! Can you spot the seams? ;-)
The only new ingredient was Bronze Poly Lycra Leatherette from Tissu Fabric, a cheap fake leather for the collar edging – because I can’t be bothered with non-washable real leather! I do wish I used a better quality faux leather though. The leather-like coating is already rubbing off after a few wears. Oops. I do like its look while it lasted though – it’s more copper (my favorite metallic color) than bronze.
Now the main fabric from Mood I love more and more. It was quite easy to work with. And the color while a bit dull on the bolt has proved to be a real team player in my wardrobe.
However, for this pattern, I was still a bit worried about whether this sweatshirtish fabric has enough heft. Many reviewers complained about the huge collar not standing up right like in the cool Burda photos. Burda’s recommended fabric – ponte knit – simply doesn’t have the heft to keep the single layer collar standing proud and tall. Nancy K suggested that the leather edge binding might provide the requisite support. But then the inner part of the collar – the stand & turn part – would still be a bit wimpy. I could have added facing to the fronts and collar as Allison C suggested. But I was a bit unsure about the fabric initially, so didn’t buy yards and yards of it.
Anyway, I decided to try felting the portion for the jacket. Big mistake. Even though it’s suppose to be wool acrylic blend, it didn’t felt at all after being put through hot wash & tumble drying. It just pilled. And softened further!!!??? Oops. Thank goodness I had this pill shaver gizmo in my sewing gadget cupboard. It managed to get rid of most of the fuzz, though it could do nothing about the slight softening. Lesson learnt: don’t be stingy – test on a swatch! BTW the fabric does take gentler wash cycle & air drying. I like to pre-wash almost everything to weed out divas from my closet.
See those little white pills on the upper right! The left is the unmolested skirt fabric.
The shaver gizmo to the rescue!
Almost as good as the unmolested skirt fabric!
As you guessed it, I’ve ignored the pattern instruction again. It’s more atrocious than usual. I’m tempted to rewrite it even though I have no need of it. But that of course wasn’t why I ignored it. With the pattern changes I made (eg cut on peplum) & the techniques I’ve already chosen for the matching skirt, the instruction would have been useless to me anyway. So just some construction notes below in case you want to try out some of the same techniques…
Like with the skirt I’ve flatlocked almost everything – even the sleeve / armscye. The only seam that’s not flatlocked is the left front princess seam with the zipper tape. I think theoretically it could have been, but the zipper teeth wouldn’t feed properly. So the fabric edges was flatlocked first, then zipper & seaming basted in place, then topstitched along either side of the flatlock edge finishing.
Sleeve zippers are attached in the same way as the skirt. The bodice front zipper tape is covered with the leatherette rather than left exposed like on the sleeves.
As I’m using leatherette rather than real leather, the front & collar edging is only done on one side of the fabric and applied like bias facing tape (so with seam allowances). But I had to use Stitch Witchery to fuse this leatherette to the fabric and to itself to keep it flat. Rather than top-stitching the tape, it’s machine sewn on the outer edge & hand slip-stitched on the inner edge.
The hem is again 2-thread wrap overlock edge finishing like on the skirt. There’s no peplum facing on my reversible version – the whole jacket is single layer.
Instead of snaps for the right front princess seam closure, I added hook closures to match the one on the skirt AA side. So again, I folded petersham ribbons in the same way as on the skirt to act like frog closures, fell-stitched these in place, then sewn the hook & eyes to the ribbons. These were placed just below the waist, at the underbust, above the bust, and at the chest (spaced evenly of course).
Style Shots & Mug Shots
So how does it look? Before the reveal let’s have a reminder of the design & pattern photo again for comparison…
I was planning to reuse the pattern, but I’m on the fence about it after my collar turned out just as floppy as everyone else’s (apart from those smart Russian / Polish ladies who made theirs with fabric worthy of cold weather coats).
Having said that, I’m very pleased with this particular make. The fabrics, the pattern, the details just came together beautifully. It’s got the perfect blend of edginess & femininity for my cup of tea. And like its matching skirt it’s reversible-ish too! Perfect for a style commitment-phobe like me!
Doesn’t the jacket look so cool in Burda magazine’s photos? I was seduced. Ever since I sew Marc Jacob’s pastel moto jacket I wanted one in non-traditional color & fabric. I like the simple style lines. It offers a load of possibilities for showing off my double-face fabric: color-blocking, visible reverse side.
34 rather than recommended 36. Because it’s closes to my Jacket Block which I’m using to guide fitting changes.
I’m still trying to work out the best way to use my Jacket Blocks for altering commercial patterns to improve the fit. Here’s my current not so scientific approach:
Lay the commercial pattern over my Jacket Block aligning at CF / CB waist. I’ve traced the pattern onto tissue paper, but also kept my Block on tracing paper to make this easier.
Compare & decide what needs changing, and by how much. Now the how much is a bit of a dilemma, especially when my Block is currently more a Sloper with only the wearing ease and no design ease. There’s the risk of removing all the design ease and end up with the same jacket over and over again. So I decided to try this: Where the pattern doesn’t match the Jacket Block, I check if it at least matches the Moulage & Top/Dress markings before deciding whether to change or not. (My Jacket Block also has markings for the Moulage & Top/Dress Block’s key reference points like bust & shoulder points, bust/waist/hip widths.) For example, I didn’t increase the CF pattern piece’s bust width to meet the Jacket Block bust points because it already meets the Moulage & Top/Dress Block bust point. And while total front bust width (after FBA) is less than my Jacket Block, it’s close to my Top/Dress Block bust width; add to that the back Bust width is slightly wider than my Jacket Block (at princess seam), so I think I have enough bust ease.
Where the shape is really different from my Block, and standard alteration doesn’t get it close enough, I sliced & diced the innard of a pattern piece to pull the seam line into a shape that more closely resemble my Block. See the changes to the Front & Back side bodice pieces for example.
Short Arm Adjustment: Partly done in the lower sleeve area (not hem), and partly in the sleeve cap area to match length removed from bodice armscye for Short Waist Adjustment. So the sleeve cap is shallower.
Widen Sleeve slightly to give me 2″ ease at bicep level. A few other people have complained that the sleeve is too narrow for them, even with stretch fabric. So you may want to check the widths. I have thin arms & could have gotten away with no widening. But 2″ sounds more comfortable for a jacket. I widened at the back sleeve seam. This also gives me a bit more ease in the sleeve armscye – the original pattern doesn’t seem to have any ease. I also followed Jeffery Diduch’s instruction in Threads July 2013 for guidance on how much sleeve armscye ease to include where. I kind of winged this as the pattern doesn’t have as many match point as in his pattern. But I subsequently found his online instruction on how to check the ease of these commercial pattern sleeves.
Checking the sleeve shaping & ease at underarm…
Checking the sleeve height…
Shortened sleeve further: Removed the extra 3″ length in sleeve as I want a more traditional Moto Jacket sleeve.
Added sleeve vent & zippers.
Removed the waistline seam by cutting the peplums as one with the bodice pieces. I was worried about thickness of multiple layers at intersecting seams.
Rather than testing the fit next with muslin I cheated with pinned pattern tissue. Looks OK on Q me thinks…apart from that humongous collar which needed slight shaving / shaping near the collar points so the fabric wouldn’t get all bunched up when the front is zipped to couple of inches above the bust (like in the Burda catalog photo).
So here are my final patterns. I thought I was going to reuse this pattern, so transferred the patterns to card stock (minus seam allowances) to use for fabric cutting.
Tomorrow: The fabric, construction notes & reveal!