Pattern Review: Burda 6984 Blouse

Pattern Description: From the website. Two delicate blouses with tiny front pleats, nicely feminine and absolutely top of the line. Either with gathered collar and sleeveless, or collarless with long, gathered sleeves with binding edges. I made View a, the collared, sleeveless version. A couple of additional notes: the collar is cut on the bias, and the armholes are finished with bias facings.

Neckline detail showing bias collar and pleats.

Armhole Facing

Sizing: 8-20. I made a size 12.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Chanel stretch silk charmeuse that I bought from my friend Alice at Mendel Goldberg (yes, I do occasionally splurge and support my colleagues, especially Alice, who gets fabric that I can’t).

It’s worth noting that this pattern requires a very drapey fabric to work well. I made a muslin with cotton muslin (naturally) to check the fit and construction, but I recommend silk or rayon wovens for this.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff home machine, Juki home serger, Naomi the Naomoto iron.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 65/9 needle, mesh tape invisible zipper, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Scary Silks.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Good. This is a very straightforward pattern to make, and it goes together well.

Construction Notes: This pattern fit the bill on all levels. I made a muslin before cutting into my fabric, and it didn’t need any big adjustments, not even an FBA. So away I went!

I used a 2.5mm straight stitch for the seams. I finished the seam allowances with a 3-thread overlock. I hand hemmed the bottom.

Hand hemming is one of the few things I can do while being sidelined by a really nasty cold.

Likes/Dislikes: I wanted a pattern that would let this fabric sing – i.e. not too many lines. Since I only had 1.5 yards, I wanted a sleeveless or short sleeved top, and I really like the collar treatment. I love the simple shape, and I’ll wear this top both under a jacket and by itself with jeans, if the weather ever decides to cooperate. It’s 31 degF outside my office right now, so I doubt I’ll wear it this week.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes! This is a perfect pattern for showcasing a super special fabric. The simple lines and the lovely drape at the neckline let the fabric sing.


Conclusion: Love it! I hope I get to wear it some day, if spring ever comes. Here’s the full top on Shelley.

And back.

In other news, the big event this weekend (and next) is DS the Younger got the lead role in the High School production of “The Music Man.” It’s a blast to see him having so much fun, and the entire cast is excellent.


76 Trombones



Happy sewing!

Posted in Burda, Reviews, Sewing | 10 Comments

Website Review:

I’m making a sleeveless blouse, and the pattern calls for an invisible zipper at the neckline. Since I am using a lightweight stretch silk charmeuse, I want a zipper that won’t be too heavy for the fabric. When I was making my lace dress late last year, I bought a mesh-tape invisible zipper at Botani in New York. That type of zipper is perfect for this, but I don’t have near-term plans to go to New York again, and Botani doesn’t sell that type of zipper on their website. It was Sunday and they are closed, so I couldn’t call them to order one. Being impatient, I went online and did some hunting. That was how I found

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 4.34.28 PM
What do they sell? Zippers of all types, as well as other notions like chalk, interfacing, knit cuffs and waistbands for jackets, buttons, etc. I bought 10 zippers in all: 5 white mesh tape and 5 black mesh tape invisible zips.

How is the Selection? Pretty good. They have lots of colors of the more “standard” zippers. They only have 4 colors of the mesh-tape invisibles (black/white/pink/blue), so if you need a special color other than those, you can’t buy them on the website.

How are the prices? Excellent. My zippers were $1.79 each. I’m trying to remember the price of the zippers at Botani, and I can’t recall exactly, but they were somewhere between $7 and $10 each.

How’s their site? Good. Easy to surf, items are arranged in a way that is easy to find what you are looking for.

Is it a SSL (secure) website? Yes. They use

How is the customer service? Excellent. The order went through without a hitch. I was promised my zippers by Friday and they arrived today.

Where are they Located? They ship from Virginia

Do they ship internationally? Yes

So, thumbs up or thumbs down? Big thumbs up! Excellent prices, excellent service, lightning fast shipping. The downside is that you can’t get all the colors of the rainbow for that particular zipper, but you can’t beat the price.

These should hold me for a while.

These should hold me for a while.

I will definitely use ZipperShipper again, and I heartily recommend it!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Notions, Reviews | 5 Comments

Next Up, a Burda Top for Spring

If spring ever comes, that is. Here’s my WIP, a sleeveless Burda top.
Burda WIP
It’s a pretty straightforward pattern, with a cool collar. I’m waiting for some lightweight mesh-tape invisible zippers to arrive, then I can attach the collar. The zippers are supposed to arrive Friday, so I’ll finish it this weekend. With any luck I’ll be able to wear it some time this year! Brrrrr…

Happy sewing!

Posted in Burda, Sewing | 8 Comments

Fasten Your Seatbelts…

Goes the classic line from “All About Eve.” It’s going to be a bumpy night. That’s right folks. It’s Ann-Rant Time!

(Ed. Note: if you are easily offended or don’t get snark, you are advised to change the channel now.)

I put aside my plans to do the test on the wrap dress neckline. I promise to get to that this week. But in the meantime I got waylaid by an idea for a blouse that I want desperately to make, and then I also saw some posts at a couple of places that complained about how…

Sewing is so HAAAAAARRRRRRDDDD, people! Like, really, really hard! Like, stress inducing! Like, it can make you cry!


Sewing is a hobby for 99% of the people I know. Even my colleagues who do it for a living would not classify it as hard. It can be technically challenging. It can be frustrating. It can even be somewhat terrifying if you are about to cut into a $300-per-yard fabric for the first time. But it is not hard.

Giving up on a project that will never work is painful, but it’s not hard.

You know what’s hard? Finding a cure for cancer. Trying to find evidence of the Higgs-Boson particle. Going into coal mines day after day to earn your living. Visiting a parent who has no idea who you are because Alzheimer’s has robbed her of all her memories. Those are all hard. Sewing is not hard.

So please, when things get tough in the sewing room, do what I do. Take a break. Take a deep breath. Go for a walk, make a cup of tea, have a glass of wine, call a friend, hit the gym. But don’t cry. Save that for the things that deserve your tears. There are lots of them, and they will come up and whack you in the back of the head when you least expect it. Besides, if you cry you might drip mascara on your Gorgeous Fabrics, and that would totally suck.

My my my, didn’t I cause a tempest in a teapot! :)

Posted in Commentary | 23 Comments

Full Bust Adjustment for a Wrap Top or Dress

The good folk at McCalls are hosting a wrap dress sew-along, and they asked me to write a post about doing a Full Bust Adjustment for wrap bodices. I posted this on The Sewing Divas website several years ago, and it’s still my go-to-method for doing FBA on wrap-style dresses and tops.

If you’re like many women, the standard B-cup of most commercial patterns isn’t enough to cover “the ladies” without unsightly pulls and wrinkles. With the popularity of wrap tops and DVF-style wrap dresses, there are some small but significant pattern changes you need to make so your entire bodice fits well. Let’s have a look.

The method I use works equally well for mock-wrap bodices, where you often have separate pieces for the left and the right fronts, as for “regular” wrap bodices. In order to fit properly, you have to adjust for a full bust, not only on the actual bustline of the front pattern piece, but also on the wrap piece that extends under the bust on the other side. This is a fairly straightforward change, but it’s one that many people leave off, giving a happy-hands-at-home look to their garments. When I make a wrap dress that just has one front bodice piece (like my vintage DVF original pattern), I mirror and trace off the bodice so I have two separate bodice pieces to work with. It makes it easy to do this adjustment.

The first thing you need to do is your standard full-bust-adjustment, or FBA. There are many excellent tutorials for how to adjust a pattern out there. I won’t bother to repeat what has already been said so well. Here’s a picture of a top I made with my usual FBA.

My usual adjustments

This will leave you with enough room over your bust on the primary side of your pattern piece. However, if you look at the picture of the un-adjusted pattern piece (on the left), laid on top of the adjusted pattern piece, you’ll see that the side seams don’t match:

Check out the side seams on the right side of the picture

Even if you do a FBA on both sides, when you line up the center fronts, you’ll find that the side seams are out of alignment, and this will cause distortion when you wear it. To fix this, lay your pattern pieces over one another, lining the center fronts up. Using a clear gridded ruler, trace a line over the slash line for your FB adjusted pattern piece, as shown:

Slash your pattern piece along that line, all the way from the top to, but not through, the bottom. Spread it so that it matches the spread on your FBA adjusted piece.

Slash, tapering back down to the waistline.

Repeat this whole process on the other side. Once you are done, you will have two pattern pieces that have two sets of slashes for the bust, and your top will fit great!

This is a small adjustment that makes a big difference. Enjoy your wrap dresses and tops. And as always,
Happy sewing!

PS, for other hints and tips on making wrap dresses, I did a whole Wrapapalooza series last year. Check it out – there are some tidbits in there that might be helpful.

Posted in Fit, Wrapapalooza | 19 Comments

Pattern Review: StyleArc Sammi Pant

Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website, “PANT:This is basic pant woven pant (sic) which sits just below the waist line, featuring a buttoned waistband which is contoured and a fly front. A slight boot leg makes this pant very flattering.

Sizing: 4-30. I made a size 10.

Available as a PDF? I don’t think so.

Fabric Used: Japanese Satin Finish RPL, sold out, sorry, from Gorgeous Fabrics for the bulk of the pants, Cotton with a very cool contemporary Aboriginal artist’s print that was a gift from Chloe at StyleArc a few years ago, silk habotai for the pockets.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff home machine and Juki home serger. Naomi the Naomoto.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 70/10 needle, interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, lace seam binding, zipper, trouser hooks and eyes, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, J? or L?, Template for Fly Topstitching.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, with a couple of minor exceptions.

How were the instructions? I didn’t really use them. StyleArc isn’t known for their instructions, so I just wung that mother, referencing my trusty Vogue Book of Sewing when I needed help. Did you know, BTW, that StyleArc has tutorials for how to sew things like a trouser fly, invisible zippers and other construction techniques? I just found that out myself when I looked at the instructions for the pants. At some point I’ll check them out.

Construction Notes:
I made a muslin to check the fit, which also helped me run through some construction points. I reversed the closure from a right-over-left fly front to a left-over-right, which is more to my liking.

I added a CB seam to the back waistband, along with belt carriers. I used a contrast, lightweight facing for the waistband,

Isn’t that a cool print?

and I added two back welt pockets to hold my cell phones, using the technique from David Page Coffin’s Etsy Craftsy (thanks for that catch Angela!) Class on Pant Details (an excellent class, BTW).

I opted against a button closure, instead using trouser hooks and eyes at the waistband, since I’ll be wearing these pants with a belt most of the time.

I sewed all seams with my Pfaff machine, and I finished all the seams with the serger. I used lace edging at the hems.

Likes/Dislikes: This pattern is really well drafted and sews up beautifully. I like the shape of them, and they will look great with heels. I haven’t been able to get any pictures of them on me. I’m going to wear them this weekend when I go to my uncle’s memorial service in New York, but I doubt I’ll get pictures on me then. I’ll try to get some when I can, but in the meantime here they are pinned on Shelley to give you a slight idea of how they look.


And a really bad picture of the back, sorry!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes! I really like this pattern. I want to make a couple of slight tweaks to it, but I would definitely do another pair or two. This was a good pattern to start my “pants journey” with, and I do recommend it wholeheartedly.

Conclusion: Classic pants, beautifully drafted. It’s a winner!

Posted in Fabrics, Patterns, Reviews, StyleArc | 2 Comments

We Have a Winner!!!

One lucky duck!

Thank you to all for your kind words and wishes on our 8th anniversary! I wish I could give each one of you a big hug. I put all the entries in a hat, shook them up and picked out one. No, really I added up the number of entries, pulled up a well-regarded random number generator on the web, and let it do the picking for me. Same thing but without wasting paper. And the winner is… (drumroll, please)

Denise L. from California!!!

Denise, I’ll be sending your gift certificate shortly. Thanks again to everyone for entering. Remember – there’s still two more days plus a few hours to take advantage of 28% to 50% savings on almost everything at Gorgeous Fabrics! I’ll be adding new fabrics tonight and tomorrow, and they will be included in the sale, too.

Click Here to Shop the Sale!

So have fun and happy sewing!

Posted in Contests, Fabrics, Giveaway | Leave a comment

Win a $100 Gorgeous Fabrics Gift Certificate for our Birthday!

The Fabric that Started It All

The Fabric that Started It All

I can’t believe that, eight years ago tomorrow, Gorgeous Fabrics started out with a dress made with an ITY jersey fabric. What a wonderful journey it has been. To celebrate, we’re doing a really fun contest. You can enter to win a $100 gift certificate at Gorgeous Fabrics!!!!

To enter the contest, just leave a comment here. One per person, please. Your comment can be anything from “Hi” to a full bore gush over how wonderful Gorgeous Fabrics is. That’s not important, but we prefer gushing :)

And there’s a bonus for Gorgeous Fabrics customers. If you place an order today or tomorrow (February 24 and February 25), you’ll get one additional entry into the drawing for every $10 you spend with us*.

And on top of that, our 28% off birthday sale is still going strong. Talk about a triple threat!!!

So leave a comment, go shopping if you wish (please!), have lots of fun, and thank you for your support and patronage these last 8 years.

*Da Rules and Fine Print
Contest is open to anyone. No purchase is required to enter the contest. Just leave a comment here on the blog to enter. One comment per person, please. For every $10 (excluding shipping) that you purchase from Gorgeous Fabrics on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 your name will be entered into the contest once. Drawing will be held on February 26, 2015. The result will be posted on the blog and on our Facebook page. The winner will be notified by email.

Happy sewing, and good luck!

Posted in Contests, Fabrics | 347 Comments

Pants Journey: Prepping and Making a Fitting Muslin

At the end of last year, I decided that I wanted to expand my pants-making skills. Back when I worked in tech, I used to make pants periodically, but I haven’t done many in the last few years. Fortuitously enough, Craftsy sent an email with a 50% off code for David Page Coffin’s Pant Details class. With the stars aligning, I decided this is the time. For my first pair, I chose StyleArc’s Sammi Pant. A classic trouser with a fly front is a good place to start. Since I haven’t made a pair of pants in a while I decided to make a muslin, or toile, of the pants to check the fit. I thought it might be helpful to share how I go about it.

StyleArc patterns give you both the cutting line and the stitching line for every pattern piece, which is great for fitting muslins. When I took classes with Susan Khalje and Kenneth King, they always told us to ignore the cutting line and make all decisions and muslins using the stitching line. So I trace the stitching line onto muslin fabric using a strip of wax carbon paper and a tracing wheel. This way I can give myself as wide seam allowances as I want.

That carbon tracing paper will get all over everything!

A quick note here that I traced both the original StyleArc stitching line as well as the adjustment I make for my L-shaped back crotch curve. That way I can try both and see which one works better (in this case, the L worked great).

The nice thing about using a strip of tracing carbon is it’s easier to reposition than a big sheet.

Just keep tracing tracing tracing…

And the traced off leg piece. Sorry for the weird angle, it’s an itty bitty sewing room.

I do trace the cutting lines on certain pieces like the fly and the top of the waistband. Other than that, I cut widely around the pieces. Before I start sewing them, I trim the SAs to about 1 inch. More than 1.5 inches gets a bit unwieldy, at least in curved areas

Ready for sewing!

I sew my muslin with the longest basting stitch, and I press it a la The Pressinatrix. It may seem like more effort than necessary (it’s not). It gives me a crisp result that allows me to see any issues clearly, just as I would see them in a finished garment.

I like muslins for another reason – making one gives me a practice run at construction. As it turns out, these pants go together quite readily. The pattern as drafted doesn’t have pockets, so I’ll use the techniques in DPC’s Craftsy class to add in-seam pockets and welt back pockets for my cell phone. I’m one of the few women I know of who actually likes and uses pockets in her pants.

The fit on these is pretty good right out of the envelope. They are a wee bit snug, probably thanks in part to the lousy winter weather we’ve been suffering through. I haven’t had a Tuesday spin class for almost a month, thanks to the barrage of snowstorms. I’ll probably give myself just a skoosh of room at the side seams. Here are some pictures of the muslin pinned onto Shelley. I’ll make the final version and get pictures on me.

Whatta mess my sewing room is!

Back of the muslin

The one thing about this pattern that I may change is the back waistband. As drafted, it is a single piece. I think I’ll turn it into a 2-piece waistband with a CB seam so I can alter if I wish. Other than that, it’s ready for my garment fabric, a (sold out, sorry) RPL from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Speaking of Gorgeous Fabrics – Our 8th Anniversay Sale is Going Strong!
If you aren’t on our mailing list, and you should be – we never, ever share your information, you may not have heard that this month marks the eight year anniversary of Gorgeous Fabrics!!! To celebrate, we have put just about everything (except muslin, notions, swatches and gift certificates) on sale for 28% to 50% off our original great prices! So come on over and get in on the fun!

Let’s Go Shopping!

Thank you all so much for your support and patronage. Have fun with the sale, and

Happy sewing!

Posted in Pants 2015, StyleArc | 4 Comments

Winter Cleanup on the Blog

I’ve been meaning to do some maintenance work on the blog, and I have a few slow days before things get hopping (if you know what I mean) in the next week. So I’ll be making a couple of changes here and there. First up, I finally figured out how to get the RSS feeds working on my blog roll. Hopefully that will make the blogroll more useful and interesting. I know I like to see what folks have been posting and when.

Also, though it pained me to do so, I’ve removed any blogs that haven’t updated since the end of 2013. I figure if it’s more than a year, the blogger has stopped posting, and I’d rather use the space for blogs that are active. I’ve kept those blogs in my own reader, so if they start posting again I’ll add them back.

If you have a blog that you would like to have in my blogroll, just leave a comment on this post and I’ll be happy to add it. If you are a sewing professional or vendor, I’ll put you in the Sewing Sites category so you get a little differentiation. No cost, no reciprocal links required, though if you would like to link to my blog (or Gorgeous Fabrics) I definitely appreciate it.

I’m going to figure out how to add email subscription capability, too. I’ve been asked for that before, and there is a widget. I just have to get off my duff and figure out how to install it so it works correctly.

In sewing news, my next project will be a pair of pants. I want 2015 to be my year of making pants, and I signed up for David Page Coffin’s Craftsy class. I watched the intro and the first lesson last night. So far so good. I’ll do a full review when I finish the class. Until then,

Happy sewing!

Posted in Blogroll | 9 Comments