crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Butterick 5523

Pattern: Butterick 5523 (Muse dress) size 8

Fabric: Dark teal Sophia doubleknit from

Shoes: Alfani (Macy’s, current season.)

Notes: Ok, Butterick – you are forgiven!  After 2 fails, I finally found a winning Butterick pattern.  Admittedly, the last 2 were just poor choices on my part.  This dress has all the things that make me like a dress – a rolled collar, 3/4 length sleeves, and an empire waist (controversial as they are, they do work on me for some reason.)

This dress was a very easy sew – I’d say it was about a 4 hour project.  I didn’t make a muslin (as I don’t for knits.)  What I do instead is change the order of sewing.  I sew the shoulders together, set in the sleeves flat, and then sew the skirt pieces to the bodice, but I wait until the very end to sew up the side seams and the sleeve seam in one pass.   That way if I need to make adjustments I won’t have any intersecting seams.  I also baste the side seams the first time to check for fit.  In this case I chose to take the sides in by 1/2″ total (making 6/8″ seams instead of 5/8″.)  It actually fit before, but I wanted to make sure in case it stretched.

The only thing that took a long time was slip-stitching down the collar.  I recommend taking your time and pinning carefully – you don’t want it to twist or it will look more like a cowl (you will note that the pattern photo looks like a cowl, but the storebought version (below) is much neater.  You may want to secure it with a few extra stitches to get it to stay neat.   I actually managed to strain my right thumb doing the handsewing on this dress (I have now determined that handsewing does me in worse than anything… I suppose there won’t be a lot of tailoring in my future!)

The Sophia knit was again lovely.  One caution – I found that with the dark color I needed to use a press cloth to avoid iron shine (I made my own out of a square of silk organza… it takes high heat well, but it’s see-through.)  The pattern had ok instructions for knits, because it actually realized that it didn’t need a zipper!  I don’t know why all the BMV patterns tell you to doublestitch your seams.  I use a narrow zigzag on my regular machine.  I rarely serge knits, I use my serger more for finishing seams than anything else.  The pattern runs a bit short – I took a narrower hem than called for, and I like this length, but I’m used to patterns giving you more to play with.

If I have any criticism of the pattern it’s the back – it looks ok, I suppose, but I feel that it should have less pleating, or that perhaps the pleating could be changed to gathers.  I did not add the button tab, but it’s only decorative anyway.  I couldn’t get mine to look even, so I decided it was better off without.   It’s worth noting that the model in the photos I found of the actual Muse dress is standing mighty funny in the rear view, so I’d imagine the issue is with the design, not the pattern.  It’s not a big deal to me anyway.

It’s probably too warm for this dress today (it’s supposed to be in the mid 70s) but I don’t care – I have an evening rehearsal in a cold theater, so I’d rather be warm!  This pattern is really highly recommended – it’s a great dress for winter!


What I wore Wednesday

The weather this week has been completely schizophrenic – freezing cold last Thursday, and in the 70s today.  I’m never quite sure how to dress for transitional weather, but I’m not really looking forward to really cold temperatures.  Here are my outfits from this week (minus the weekend.)

My favorite outfit this week is Wednesday’s, and my least favorite is Monday.

Dress: Vogue 8663

Belt: Forever 21

Shoes: Sofft

For some reason I didn’t like this dress with a belt when I first finished it, but now I think it works well.  This dress definitely requires a slip – the knit is quite thin!  I hate these tights, and after seeing the photo I threw them out (see how they stretch out only on the calves?)  I always fall in between sizes in tights – too tall for a small, but my legs are too skinny for the size up.  These are a small, and I’ve decided that it would be better to size up and deal with baggy ankles.  Besides, nothing feels worse than too short tights.


Dress: Simplicity Jumper, finished this week

Shirt: old, no tag

Boots: Alfani

You’ve already seen this, but I’ll put it up again.  I don’t think I like this shirt paired with the jumper – the neckline is ok, but it’s a bit much.  I really only wore it because all my shirts are v-necks, which fight with the jumper neckline.  That’s something I like about taking outfit photos – you can sometimes realize something doesn’t work before you wear it again!


Sweater: Express, thrifted, based on the label from the late 1990s

Ponte knit pants: thrifted

Boots: Alfani

I give up… the 80s are back, and it’s no good fighting it.  At least the oversized fashions are comfortable – really, who can argue with knit pants?  In theory these are not leggings, since they have a working fly, but they might as well be.  I’m not sure that I get knit pants.  What are you supposed to wear them with?  I treat them like leggings and try not to wear anything too short over them (this sweater barely qualifies.)  And I feel like they need boots to even out the silhouette on me.  But I will say – they are comfortable!  This is about as casual as I get.  I don’t think the sweater looks great in the photo, but I liked it in person, and got several compliments on it when we went out to the Irish pub.  Even if it is brown (I don’t wear brown… but this is a cool brown at least.)


Jacket: Vintage

Dress: Colette Rooibos

Boots: Unisa

I like this picture for some reason – I think I look like I mean business!  Anyway, today is a schizo weather day – it’s warmer than I think it should be.  I’m wearing the vintage (from the 60s) jacket as my coat.  This coat was a Goodwill find last week, and I had it drycleaned.  It’s actually a little big and quite boxy.  I did some ghetto altering by pinning back the lapels for a more open shape – much better in my opinion.  It could still be smaller, but I’m not altering it – I’m treating it more as a coat anyway.  I think this look is kind of 60s, but not too literal.  I still love this dress – one of my favorites!  It is short, but I’m getting more comfortable with that.

I’m getting my hair cut on Friday, which will be nice since I have to be careful how I wear it right now – my natural haircolor is several shades lighter, and when the roots come in it looks really strange to me.  I’m thinking of a different haircut, but I’m not sure… but nothing short, since I like to curl my hair!

This coming week I have a ton of social obligations, so I’m thinking about what I will have to wear.  Tomorrow I should have photos of a new dress for you!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

A new jumper: Simplicity 2848

Pattern: Simplicity 2848 (pleated jumper)

Fabric: Sophia doubleknit from, 2 yards

Top: really, really old… and for some reason my husband’s favorite on me!

Notes: I have been entering my entire pattern collection into Evernote, and while going through my box of Simplicity patterns I came across this jumper.  I must have bought it when I first started out, and then put it away after I realized that the straight version doesn’t appeal to me at all (I don’t care for the front slit or the odd pockets.)  This time I noticed the other photographed jumper – and suddenly I knew what to make with my gray sophia knit!  Admittedly, I showed a definite lack of originality, since I used the same fabric and color in the photo, but that’s ok.

The pieces for this jumper are almost entirely different from the other versions – they only share the yoke piece.  I was a little scared of the fact that the finished measurements claimed a 41″ bust, but I figured the pleats would eat that up and I was right.  I made a size 6 in the yoke and bust, blending to an 8 over the hips..  I made a few changes.  First of all, no zipper since I used a knit.  I also changed the lining into a self fabric facing.  This worked fine, but if I were to make it again I would use a different treatment for the armhole facings – they are pretty thick!  I shortened the dress by 3 inches… and I’m not short, so it seems to run a bit longer than the photos would indicate.

This is the first of two dresses I made of this fabric recently… the other (which is teal!) I will show you in a few days.  It was lovely to work with, and it’s very soft and fairly lightweight for a doubleknit.  I’d highly recommend it.  You can find it lots of places, just look for the label “Sophia knit.”  I am really happy that I’m seeing doubleknit and ponte dresses everywhere this season – I love working with the fabric, and I feel like I’m in style (and honestly, the price of a simple, unlined ponte dress shocks me!)

This pattern is highly recommended as well, though I confess that the directions jump around a lot, even for a Project Runway pattern.  I didn’t use them, so it didn’t bother me.  I’m not sure how this would work in a woven, but it’s perfect for doubleknit.  It’s a versatile piece (or at least it will be once I scare up some more tops that work under it!)


What I wore Wednesday

This was a week for parties, and for trying to replicate catalog looks.  I’m still working out how to layer with skirts and dresses, since I’m hardly wearing pants at all anymore (and won’t unless we have a blizzard!)


Skirt: Burdastyle Jenny

Sweater: 525 America

Tights: H&M

Shoes:Gianni Binni

You’ve already seen this one, but I’m putting it here as proof that I actually did wear this all day on Thursday.  Some days I wonder what people must think about my outfits.  I suspect I don’t exactly look the way parents imagine that a music teacher should, but hey – I’m happier being true to myself rather than trying to dress all “teacher-y” (and I don’t teach in a classroom anyway, so my expectations are different.)

You may have heard the cries of “Gretchen? Seriously?” coming from my house during the PR finale.  I mean, I will say that her aesthetic appeals to me to a certain point – I like long flowy dresses, layering etc.  But I hated the colors (so much brown!) and it didn’t excite me… it did not deserve to win, and I lost a whole lot of respect for Michael Kors and Nina Garcia.


Dress: Thrifted and altered, no tag

Shoes: Cole Haan

Going to a casual party, this was my idea of a good outfit to wear for wine and gossip.  It was very comfortable.  This dress was taken in and shortened – I really love it now, especially with the leggings.  It’s very comfortable.  I have a really similar Vogue pattern, and I’m thinking of making up my own version.


Dress: Thrifted, although one of my readers says it was from Old Navy originally (it has no tag.)

Jacket: Casual Corner, thrifted

Boots: BC

I wore almost the same outfit last week… I’m a big fan of the summer dress with jacket to extend the wearing season (and we still haven’t got cold weather here, so…)


Dress: Vogue DKNY pattern

Jacket: Express (thrifted)

Shoes: Sofft

Sweater Tights: Sam&Libby

I’m thinking of hemming this dress an inch or two shorter and wearing it as a tunic.  For some reason I don’t love it as a dress like this, only over leggings.  Another thrifted jacket – lately I’ve been having great jacket luck.  Last night I found a gorgeous Maggy London Tuxedo jacket with a sequinned collar (which goes into my performance clothes closet)  and a 60s houndstooth jacket.


Jacket: Simplicity 2443 (Cynthia Rowley)

Dress: Mossimo (thrifted)

Boots: BC

I was inspired by this look in the Anthropologie catalog:

Of course, I don’t have a chic little cropped leather jacket (though now I want one!)  I’m actually surprised by how much I like this look – it’s more boho than I usually do, but I quite like it!

crafts · patterns · Sewing

November Plans pt 2: retail inspiration

Back with more!  After the obligation sewing I do have some  fun plans.

First up: outerwear

I know I said I was going to do the Lady Grey sewalong, but as you can obviously tell by the lack of padstitching going on around here, I’m not.  I have about 8 million winter coats (only a slight exaggeration!) and at last count 6 vintage stores within 4 blocks to keep me in the vintage overcoats that I love so much.  But you know what I don’t have?  If you were thinking “a cape!” then you got it in one.  Yes… a cape.  I know, I know, it’s a horribly impractical garment, but I’m seeing them everywhere and I want one!  I’m settled on this pattern:

I’ve never used a New Look pattern before, so it will be a new experience for me.  My inspiration was this capelet from Anthropologie this year (which I can’t find on the website right now… must be sold out.)

Two things though… this could properly be called a capelet.  I own 2 capelets, neither one of which I wear.  It’s silly – the sleeves are too short for outside, but it’s too much like a coat for indoors!  So I will be making the long version (the modeled photo,) which is an actual cape.  I would love plaid, but I haven’t found a great plaid fabric yet, so it may be a lovely solid instead.  The belt is a great idea – it keeps the cape from being too shapeless.  I’m imagining that this will be lovely to wear on my walks around the neighborhood!

Also from Anthro this fall, a basic shirtdress made of fine corduroy.  For some reason this idea really appeals to me!  I’m still considering fabric, but my version is like to be navy cord (the dress also comes in navy, but the red shows the details better!)  I’m still looking for a pattern.  Does anyone have a favorite shirtdress pattern to recommend?

This dress is from Modcloth, and the lookalike pattern is Vogue 8280, the Mouret Galaxy dress knockoff.  I will probably do short sleeves.  I’ve never seen anyone make this version, so hopefully there’s nothing wrong with it!  No fabric yet… and probably not this month, but if I don’t get it down here I’ll forget to make the dress!

Now all I have to do is make time to sew – not likely before Friday with my midweek schedule!

crafts · Sewing

November plans pt 1

Sorry for the few days of radio silence – we had a fabulous Halloween weekend (but, sadly, no costumes) and I was barely home!  Obviously I haven’t touched my sewing machine, but I have been thinking and planning some upcoming projects. The first is a project which simply does not excite me at all, but it must be done.

I showed pictures a few weeks ago of the dress I wear for my chamber ensemble.  To refresh your memories, here it is:

What’s that?  I’m sorry, I just fell asleep with boredom at this dress!  I’ve worn it a few times since the photo, and it is not improving in my estimation.  I don’t care for the ruching – a little on the side is fine, but I think this one adds bulk to the hips (who wants that?)  I don’t think it’s the greatest shape on me ever, but I mostly I hate the length.  I don’t usually mind just below the knee, but the proportions on this one don’t work.  I can’t shorten it and continue to use it for my group – classical music is sort of inherently conservative, and we are required to keep the hemline below the knee.  So here’s what I’m going to do:  shorten the dress and use it as a LBD, and make myself a new black dress for the ensemble.

I have 2 weeks before my next concert, which should be plenty of time to make one.  Here is what I want: below the knee, full skirt, some sort of sleeve (even caps sleeves are fine) and made of a knit (for ease of travel and the ability to take proper breaths.)  An empire waist would be a good idea, because that allows for breathing room without worrying that it looks odd.  No belts, certainly (I actually have to remove belts for rehearsal all the time, but I wear them anyway!)  I’d like it to go with the shoes I’m wearing above, as they are my most comfortable for standing a long time.

I’m leaning towards this vogue/DKNY pattern.  I’ve made it before, so the fit is no problem, and it has both the length I need and an empire waist.  I remember it being kind of a pain to make, but at least it was quick!  I think this style has an elegance that will work well for the stage.

I’ve considered a few other patterns, but I am loathe to put a lot of time into this project, so I think going with a dress I’ve made before is the best option.  No, don’t ask me why I didn’t just make my dress to start with!

I’ve placed an online fabric order this week that includes some black ITY knit.  Hopefully I will get it before the weekend so that I can sew this one up.  Coming later today (hopefully) the rest of my November sewing plans, including a few retail knock-offs!