Saturday, December 29, 2012

Long Skirt: My Own Design AND Pattern

Well, I am so enthusiastic about this I can not stop planing new projecs with my new learnt ability! Thanks to the wonderful Aldrich's pattern making book,

Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's WearI can finally made my own patterns!!! Her system is mathematical, effective, Oh! wonderful!. Last summer I was practicing drawing the basic blocks, and finally I decided it was worth a try with a real project. This skirt was the perfect project to start with, becasue I always have to alter the comercial patterns to adjust them to my real proportions.
First, I draw the basic skirt block, and then cut it and spread the parts to get a flared long skirt pattern. I was methodicall thorough and through, making first a toile, which already proved perfect, and then cutting the real fabric on the true bias.
I followed all my recently learnt advices from Khalje, Shaeffer and Hirsh to sew the zipper, to apply the underlining, to cut the fabric with the toile and then stitching it all around, to let the skirt hang before marking the hem, etc, etc.
The result was simply perfect.

On with my following project, hello paternmaking, goodbye commercial patterns!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Easy Does It

The best thing about this project is the fabric, it sure is. Not only the colour is espectacular, but also its soft touch and great way of hanging down. I found it in a retail store and it was the only piece they had, so I had to adapt the project to its measure. After doubting between a short sleeved dress, or a long sleeved jumper, I finally reached a middle point, and made a very short dress with thre quarter sleeves. I have to wear it over leggings and a long sleeved bodysuit, but It has came out perfect I think.
The pattern is a classic, it is the same as this dress, and many other knitt and jumper dresses and t-shirts I have sewn over time. I specially like the raglan sleeves.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Flowery Dress

This pattern is from a 2003 Patrones magazine. It was earmarked since I bought it, and I've been, what... nine years in having it done! At least I can say I am very very happy with the result, eventhough I had serious doubts durintg its construction (as it is usual, at least in me...). Last winter I found this lovely soft cotton flowery fabric, then I remembered the hippie dress I had earmarked and proceeded.
Well, as you can see in the model image, there is some engineering in the upper body of the dress. The bust dart is accomplised by attaching this piece to the front of the dress. I decided to sew my neckline facing first (after applying some fusible interfacing to the upper body piece), turning it over and polishing it, all around the front neckline and front opening, with ties included. Secondly, I procreed to sew the upper piece to the medium section of the dress, manouvering each section, by machine sewing it to each corner, not beyond, as I understand is done in quilting. I must confess I do not quite master this technique, and I have decided to do some quilting basic course just to understand how to sew pieces toguether with corners going in both directions. This wonderful Ungaro's dress, for example, used by Shaeffer as an example in her wonderful book:
How is it done??? How are the green stripes sewn to the yellow base???

But somehow my intuition was correct, and I managed to get quite a good result, with the exception of some little ruffling somewhere, indetectable to the eye, so all in all, I was quite happy with the result. After that, I sew by had the facing to the back of the piece, securing all the seam allowances, once trimed and scaled, inside it.
Then I proceeded to try it on, and started to panic...
The neckline was too wide and it nearly fell off my shoulders. I should have tried on before all that intricate sewing, but I was lazy, and only measured the patters in bust, waist and hips to see it was ok. Those areas seemed to fit me perfectly, only the neckline was too wide. I decided to go, the most difficult part was complete anyways, and maybe solve it with some bra channels to support it.
So I went on sewing.
I decided to enclose all seams, since the ones in the upper piece attachment were so wonderfully hidden. I enclosed the sleeves seams and its little flounces', the sides seams and the big flounce at the bottom of the dress too. The inside of the dress is as neat and polished as the outside. I machine stitched all the seams with marine blue thread in my bobbin, which in this flowery pattern, is invisible.
I had to shorten both the dress and the bottom flounce for my taste in lenght. I sew on two little braserie channels and tried on.
The neckline was still too wide and although it did not fell off, it gapped.
The I decided to make a little pleat in the back of the neckline, catching 1 inch (x2) and sewing it by hand at both sides of the inside. I was very happy to see my little trick worked to perfection, but I learned my lesson. Even it you have to rip it off afterwards, one first fitting in bastings is always necessary.
The dress is lovely, it is very confortable and soft to my skin (cotton!) and flattering to my figure.

Here I am wearing it with my Ugg boots.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Formal Dresses For My Nieces

These two are my awsome nieces, and her mother asked me to make them some dresses to attend a formal party. She gave me some ideas from a catalogue, and I decided on this style.
To find two appropiate fabrics -different, but coordinated, as her mother and I wanted- was a little bit diffcult and limited my choice quite a lot, but we finally decided on this piqué in grey/pink. It was a little bit boring, but ellegant and beautiful.
I took the pattern from Burda magazine, but I had to make it four times smaller, so my recently acquired pattern-making habilities came up handy.
I was really happy with the result, but three days before the party, when their parents tried them on, they realized they were far too small. They had just grown a lot during the last week (after some bad cold), and although they managed to put one dress on, they had real trouble to take it off! So, in two days, I had to undo both dresses (dress itself, undelining and facings!!!) and resew them again. I even took them one afternoon to work (I had some free time there that day) and I was sewing hiding in a corner (relax, nobody saw me).
Well, as you can see, the dresses finally were fine, and they have been wearing them in several occasions this summer, but I learned how difficult is to fit dresses to children, specially if they do not live with you.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Summer Minishort

Summer is getting to its end, although here is still hot, and this may be one of the last projects of my season.
It was really difficult to find a pattern in my magazine collection, and finally I had to adapt (basically, giving a lot of ease everywhere) a model from Patrones which was really tight.
A problem I encountered was the fabric transparency. This has to be taken into account when shopping for fabrics. For some designs transparency might be cool, but it was a nuisance for this one. I have to be carefull on the underwear I choose!
I used fusible interlining for the upper part of the bodice and for the piece around low waist.
Here I am wearing it with my new Miss Sixty sandals, on sale in eBay.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

And Yet Antoher Retro Dress

My husband says this summer I am sewing the same dress again and again. And he may be right, I cannot stop wearing full skirts and tight bodices. They are so femenine, comfortable and chic!
Well, this was my project as I followed Carftsy's online course The Couture Dress, by Susan Khalje. The course is really interesting, specially the way it is offered by Craftsy, with all kinds of participation and interaction tools. I learned a lot, although I was not doing this dress in the "couture" way, because I thought it was not appropiate for this project. But on the one hand, I learned and applied lots of small details, as for example lining the whole bodice with (in this particular case) the same fabric, and on the other hand, I plan to sew myself a jacket this winter following all the couture procedures.
 Anyways, this is the result. I do not think the pictures make justice to the dress, since they do not capture the movement, which is the best part of these classic pattern. Do you like it?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Quick and Sexy Miniskirt

This is one of the pieces that depend on fabric more than in craftwomanship ;-)

I bought this at the beginning of the summer and I have been thinking about the superior piece since. First I imagined it attached to the upper part of some old black jeans. I could not accept the idea of the little flounces around my already flounced belly! Finally I saw this somewhere and I welcomed it as the perfect solution: some 12 cm of black lycra, with a thick elastic band in the upper part, to be situated in my lower waist, and... voilà! It was done in 1 hour!

Here I am wearing it with an old top made with black crepe du Chine and my Nine West 12cm high sandals, so nice and confortable I could dance that night with them until 7 am!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pink Sundress

This is a very good example of what to do with a very cheap bit of cotton (1 euro!). I was inspired by a design in Burda magazine that miraculously fitted the small piece of fabric I had.
The bodice is interlined with thermofusible cotton and lined with the same fabric of the dress.
Here I am wearing it with my MIA boots I bought some years ago in Melrose Ave, Los Angeles. One of my favourites. But it goes well with flip-flops, of course!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Little Black Dress with Leather Belt

I am proud to present my new creation. I got this stretch fabric, an embroidered lace, expecting to do something like this:
Bill Cunningham's

To achieve that design, I put together the top of this 1950s dress and this skirt pattern from Burda magazine, just like I did in my Retro Butterfly Dress.

I sewed a waist stay to the skirt, made of the same fabric, and sewed the top of the dress to the bottom of that stay. Since the fabric is thransparent, full of little holes, I sewed a nude colour stretch lining skirt to the waist stay as well. It keeps the transparency effect, but if does not allow to see through. I did not line the top, so you can see the pale pink bra showing though. 

For the leather belt, I decided to copy a white leather Mango I had in my closed. I cut the pieces out of some old leather pants a friend gave to me. Each piece has to halves, up and down, which fold over and meet in the middle back. I cut some two-sided iron lining (the one that melts with the temperature of the iron), and applied between the two sides of each piece, pressing with the iron, using a cotton cloth to prevent the leather form damage. Then I zig-zagged the pieces together.

 The result is perfect, both for the dress and the belt. In these pictures I am wearing it with my new PonsQuintana purple sandals, my last acquisition.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Green Cotton Sundress

This beautiful pattern came in the last Burda magazine, which is full of lovely sundresses. A very good number, July 2012. In it they recover this pattern from the 1950s, only a little bit longer. I am seeing these femenine, full skirt dresses everywhere, and it makes me happy that I can wear them and be "in fashion," because I really love them.
The pattern proved out perfect. I decided to interface the midriff piece and the strips. The only weak point is that since it is cotton, it wrinkles (one can't have it all). See the picture after being sit for one hour in a restaurant. But still, it is really nice and special. Here I am wearing it with a pearl necklace form the 1960s and with the fabulous and confortable UGG Kalia, my best buy of the summer

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Retro Butterflies Sundress

I am happy and proud to present this dress. Why? Because finally I managed to make a cut-at-the-waist design which is both confortable and becoming to my body, after some failures. How?

Again, couture techniques learned from reading Shaffer's book have aid me. Following her advice for two piece dresses cut at the waist, I finished both the blouse and the skirt independently. I sew a waistband to the skirt, which made it adjusted and confortable to wear both standing and sitting. Then, I attached the blouse to this waistband, and tada!
The patterns I used come from different places. The blouse is from this 1950s Simplicity dress and the skirt come form my favourite Burda magazine:

The fabric is this light red cotton with white butterflies. I really love this dress, it has a retro flavour that calls for some tatoos!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cotton Checked Summer Blouse (and its defects)

Remember I got some fabric left from this project ? Well, I've been saving it for the good weather, and now, this sunny/wind/rainy spring, it has become perfect to go to work. It is a reversible cotton tartan, so I used the other side here.
I also took the pattern of my favourite magazine of all times, and it has resulted good, all in all.
In the positive side I must say it goes so well with my jeans and marine blue sandals, it is confortable, and again I applied some learning from Shaeffer's book that proved unvaluable, like interfacing all the front yoke and the back neck facing, only I made it with fusible interfacing, I cannot see the practicality of sewing it with (invisible?) stitches, so far.
Now, we have to learn from mistakes, and here I did some learning!
First, I realised there was not check matching in the back. I could not do it better, because the fabric (being the left overs) was so scarce. I decided to go on, even if this was and early stage, because, the alternative was... fire.
Second, it is not very becoming to my silhouette. In other words, it makes me fat. I forgive that as well, because I really like the tone of this blouse, and the grace it has, with its yoke and little sleeves...
Finally, one sleeve is not well placed in the back, it goes too low. I realised that just when I did the final fitting ( just now when it was completely finished). Too late, I thought. I'll have to bear that defect as well. And learn. You have to pay really close attention in all fittings (it is and unforgivable mistake when I was trying it on myself at home with no hurries and no preasure of any kind!), don't look only for the overall efect, but also check all the parts, low hem, neck, sleeves, everything, carefully and individually, to avoid mistakes in a too late state. This one could have been solved really easily in early stages, but now, with the trimmed hems and seams, no way.
But it is cute, isn't it?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jersey Dress in the Mountains

Today we traveled to Ainsa, in the Pirinees. The weather was cloudy, and I decided to wear this jersey dress I made a couple of years ago with my "Universal T-shirt" pattern. In this case I combined the printed cotton with some black for the sleeves and neck. It is a good solution for printed fabrics which could be too much on their own.

This particular dress combines very well with short leggins. I am quite proud of this neckline too. Ii is sewn separately, and then attached to the dress and machine stiched in place.
I decided to post it, even if it is an old design, because the pictures in Ainsa are so beautiful and because it is been a while since a posted something. The are two reasons for that. One, I was making these dresses to my twin nieces, and I haven't got any picture yet. This last week, I was also sewing for my students, but I will show you eventually.
Hope you like the dress!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jersey Wrap Dress

I had persued this design for a long time, trying to get a similar pattern modifying similar ones, but last year I finally saw this VOGUE in the net and I bought it.
I bought the material because the print was as nice as the touch of the fabric, very good fall, lots of give, soft... but it did not occur to me what to do with it.
I took a while to do the match, having them -the pattern and the fabric- both at home in the same shelf, until one day inspiration arrived and I was so happy with the idea!

The result has been nice, very nice. The skirt, really wide at the bottom, in a bell shape, falls graciously around my legs. Also, and most important, I have learned a lot in the process! The most important of my new discoveries (you never stop learning!) is that American patterns, which are sold individually (I discovered this only last year!) include the seam allowances! Pitty that i discovered this after having finished my dress, which, now I see, is maybe too generous at the superior front. Of course I realised that in the first fitting, but I wanted to play safe, and be sure the two sides would not open easily when wearing it.
I really prefer our system here, in which the pattern is the pattern, and you add to it the seam allowances you consider safe. For example, in a new design, you better leave big allowances in certain parts until the first fitting, but in designs you know well and store (like a toile), allowances can be minimum. So I think it is more accurate if the pattern is without the seam allowances, which you add when cutting the material arround it. Anyway, good to know, and something to have into consideration. Before cutting a pattern, check if the seams allowances are included.
Apart form that, the pattern was accurate and really flattering, so I put VOGUE in my list of trustable patterns.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pink Polar Fleeze Jacket: a Step By Step Process

Since I've been reading blogs by sewing enthusiasts from all over the world, I have realized the process I follow to make a piece is not the same everywhere. In this post, I will explain what is this process step by step.
 I collect pattern magazines, sold in kiosks. Nowadays in Catalonia, we can buy Burda, from Germany, and Patrones, Spanish. They publish a new number every other month, but I try to have a look first before deciding if it is worth it, since most of the times (specially in last years, or maybe because I already have a big collection of patterns) it is not worth it -it is not a matter of price, they are only around 4 euros, but the space in my shelves!
Once I've chosen a design from the magazine, I decide what size is going to fit me, having into account the magazine style. Burda, for example makes its patterns much bigger than Patrones. Both magazines have a chart with measures. One has also to consider the kind of piece you are working with, and the fabric used before deciding a size. And often, I have to make it smaller or bigger, as in the folloing example.
Once the item and the size are chosen, I proceed to calc the pattern from the big sheets of paper where all the patterns are drawn. Knowing the colour and number dessigning your piece, I follow with a pencill over the lines, reproducing it in pattern paper.
When I have copied all the pieces, I cut them off and proceed to place them on the material, respecting the grain direction, and all the directions the magazine gives us. Once all the pieces are placed and hold with headpins, I proceed to cut the fabric, leaving good seam allowances, for possible variations.

The following step is markig the pattern into the material. I usually do it with taylor tucks, a sittch done with basting cotton thread, similar to basting, but with big loops of thread. After marking every sign, mark, or line, I take the paper off and proceed to separate the two pieces of cloth, cutting the thread between them, which stays attached to both of them.
Now, all the pieces ara thus marked before assembling them. It's time to baste the basic pieces together to the first fitting. In this particular case, the first fitting proves the jacket needed major adjustments. I had to add a seam at the center back, because it was toooo wide. I also entered it at the sides seams, and gave some shape towards the waist. I also made the sleeves narrower that they were in the original pattern. In the second fitting I regained some hope. I regret now not having photographed the fustration-happy-ending process, but of course at the time I just thought in the high possibilities of total failure. Bunt, alas... no!
I decided to apply fusible backing to the neck and arount the pockets, which I also changed form the original. They were to be sawn on top, and I made some inside pockets instead.
The result is great, I think. So, happy ending. It is also very confy, nice to the touch, lightweight and very warm.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chanel Summer Dress

Well, this is not me. A friend of mine asked if I could make her a dress for a big familly party. I was to choose the fabric (a Chanellike tweed fabric combining coral red and bone cotton) and the design.

The pattern was from Patrones magazine. In the first fitting I was happy to see that no changes were necessary. My friend has a perfectly balanced body that filled the dress to perfection.

I finished its hems with the lining, avoiding same-material facings that would have made it too thick. Thus, I stiched the lining right sides together at the neckline, trimmed the allowances and turned it inwards. I finished the armsythes by handsewing them to the fusible interfacing, and then completed sewing the lining to them also by hand, 3 mm form the rolled hem. I also saw the lining to the zipper in the back.

I followed all my new tricks learned from Shaeffer's couture techniques book, and I can easily see the good results they are giving. The final result was this masterpiece:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blue Checked Cotton Shirt

I got this double sized blue tartan fabric in telas. It is 100% cotton and so sweet to my skin. The pattern is from my favourite pattern magazine of all time:

(I don't even know how many pieces I have got out of this single magazine)

...and fits me like a glove. I didn't have to touch it an inch.

I still got some fabric left, which I keep for a short-sleeved blouse, also out of the same magazine!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I've done a new curtain for my sewing nest.

I was quite lost trying to choose the pattern, or the material I wanted whatsoever . So it was K who took the decision: striped. I think it was a good choice, it is lively (rather than elegant and boring). Here:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Green Wool Skirt

I bought this fabulous green wool (100%) in a beautiful fabric store in my hometown, Lleida.

I was doing several tests regarding the inferior part, gathering it and pleating in many different ways. Finally I realized the fabric was so thick that nothing like that was becoming, so I simply cut it in widening lateral lines. The skirt is quite nice comined with black, and really very warm.

My sewing is clearly benefiting from C. B. Shaeffer's book, in many aspects, interfacing, lining, properly applying hooks, finishing the seams and hems... I am really happy with my learning.

For this skirt, I made the pattern all by myself (also proud:-).

Animal Print Jersey Dress

And yet another example of my "universal T-shirt" pattern, this time made longer to become a dress. The special thing her is the print of the fabric, and also the comfortable and becoming pattern, which I used so many times I suspect it has become a basic.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jersey Jersey

This is another example of my wonderful "universal t-shirt" pattern. Notice the sleeves seams, crossing from armpits to neck. In this project, I simply cut the pieces a little bit wider, and added a big neck, folded and secured in the wrong side, and then folded again outwards when wearing it.

I found this grey jersey in a retail store, really cheap. I do not even know the composition, but it is soft and allows my skin to breath, so it has some nature in its fibers, I guess.

I am really happy with the result, I already receive compliments on it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Well, sometimes I am very proud of my works, this is not the case. The fabric is lovely (overpriced though), but it keeps electrifying itself.

The dress pattern I had to vary because the fabric I had was so scarce, so the sleeves are short (I will roll them up so that I can move my arms on the table when I work), and the body is weird. I removed the buttons in front and improvised a neckline. Not bad, but I also have not found the perfect belt.

As much as I like this idea of a very feminine dress, with two pieces attached in the waist and a full skirt, I have not found the good pattern that fits me and it is confortable.

I think this is a challenge.

Or maybe my body shape is not fit for it?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I bought this book in the internet. It is by Claire B. Shaeffer, and it is a 2011 revision of a preceding tittle.

Well, it is simply marvellous.

One the one hand, I feel so happy because I already know the trade quite well, better that I thought, in fact. I happen to know most of the techniques described, and it is really nice to see them there, categorized and described to perfection.

On the other hand, I am learning so much! It is dense reading, feels like studying to me, and I am already being inspired by this book.

I really recomend it to every home sewer!