Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Made by Me File: Burda 7137. Again. Focused on Fit.

So last week after receiving the news that I had made it through to challenge #2 in the Fabric Mart Fashion Challenge sewing competition, I was all at once excited and a little nervous.  As you saw from yesterday's post I was in Cleveland from Saturday to Monday, which also coincided with most of the time I had to sew up the item for challenge #2.  Yikes. 

Well to combat some of that, I decided to do a WHOLE lot of sewing on Friday to get ready for the weekend, bring a lot of supplies, extra fabric, and my sewing machine to Cleveland so I could sew more on Sunday, and then on Monday I hand-sewed quite a bit of the project on our way home.  It is surprising how quickly a drive can go when hand-sewing, by the way.  I highly recommend it to stave off some of the boredom of long drives.  On Tuesday (so yesterday), I finished off the minor details and the hemming.  And then I took a gazillion photos of the project. 

I chose Burda 7137 because I knew that even though it had been a winner the last time I made it up, I wanted to challenge myself to make it look as good in a non-printed fabric that was also non-stretch.  One of the parts of this challenge is to make a garment in a solid since solid fabrics more easily show fit issues (in the form of drag lines, wrinkles, etc.).  So even though the version I made back in March looks like it fits very well, I had to see for myself in a proper solid fabric.  And guess what?  It did need some extra finagling with the pattern to make it fit well, even though I had made a lot of changes to the pattern in March!  Guess I know now that printed stretch fabrics can hide things better than I originally thought.

And here it entry this week for the "fit" challenge.

I may be smiling in that first photo, but oh man, there were a few times this weekend where I was like, "why in the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks am I doing this to myself?"  :-)  It is mainly because of the fabric I chose, which is a very pretty wool gabardine in a pine green shade with a lovely hand.  Although the end result is awesome, pressing* and working with this fabric on the sewing machine was a bit of a bear.  Turns out that wool gabardine is notorious for being difficult to work with, and it takes a lot of patience to get good results.  Good thing I had all that time this weekend. Ha. 

*The smell of wool after being pressed reminded me of my grandmother's clothing, they must have used a lot of wool in clothing back then.  Although wool is used a lot nowadays, it is not as common, and is usually a blend.  Hmm.  All that said, I loved the smell!!!

But I perservered, set in those danged sleeves as carefully as I could (that is the #1 complaint about wool gabardine, just how hard setting sleeves in with it is) and now have a dress that is just perfection for a multitude of occasions. 

Wool gabardine also shows wrinkles and drag lines easier than other fabrics, too.  Although I do have a few minor fit wrinkles and lines (also in the next photo), those are very easy tweaks that I can implement on my third Burda 7137 (let's give a few months, though, lol).

On the bodice, I need to make a small bust adjustment since the fit is a bit big through there on me. 

Having said that, the rest of the bodice fits perfectly, especially through the neckline and the waist.  To make sure the neckline fit well, though, I deepened the back neckline darts since on my first version it was fairly apparent it was too big back there for me.  It made a huge difference on how the neckline fit, and I am glad I did that to this one.

On the back, I do need to make a *slight* and I mean tiny sway back adjustment. 

Above you see one thing I did to give this dress a bit of "bling."  I added some vintage-looking buttons to the top of the sleeve vent.  I think it was just the right amount of *something something* that this very classic sheath dress design needs.  I found them at G Street fabrics on Friday, it took nearly twenty minutes to decide which ones I wanted, but these eventually came home with me.  And for $3, too!

To make sure that my non-woven fabric and my very curvy hips got along, I adjusted (my already adjusted) pattern to include an additional 1/2 inch at the side seams, making sure to properly grade out from the waist to keep the proper curve of the dress skirt. 

I now have two versions of this pattern--the one that can be used with stretchier wovens, and this new one that can be used with non-stretch fabrics.  Woo! 

Here are my favorite "hidden" details of this dress. 

I didn't have my Bernina feet with me on my trip (way too heavy of a machine to travel with), but I did have my older Brother, and while it has no specific feet for edgestitching, I was still able to get very nice top-stitching at the neckline.  I just had to go slowly and carefully. 

The button is a similar color, but it is hard to tell in that photo since the light was a bit bad there.  The button is very pretty, though, and the cool design is sparkly, which you can see a bit off from far away.  The button detail definitely gives this already retro-looking dress even more of that vintage feel. 

The lined interior was machine-stitched to the fabric, but the lining was hand-stitched to the zip by me in the car on the ride home.  I think it took an hour!  Phew.

For the people who read this blog for the "personal style" stuff, you will appreciate how good this dress is for all those accessories that need a more plain foil as a base. The plain fabric and slender silhouette really let the necklace and belt and shoes shine.

I didn't set out to make an office appropriate outfit, but this dress is very "conservative" office-friendly.  Heck, with nylons (yeah, I know!) I could have worn this very dress all those years ago when I worked on Capitol Hill. 

It is also perfection for subbing at the Catholic school I sub at (and my kids go to) since their dress code is very modest. 

But my original intent in making this dress?  Something I could wear to Christmas festivities, since the pine green is a classic Christmas color! 

Okay, that's all for now.  Of course I know that all of you REALLY want to vote for me, so here is the place you can do that.  ;-) 

I do want to give a big old shout-out to the ladies in the competition!  You all really brought it this week.  I love seeing what everyone did--from the casual basics to the dressy and formal to the solidly classic (I think my dress falls in that category). 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

OOTDs/Family Fun Time: Cleveland!

Every year, Mr. Dina wants to go somewhere out there in the big ole U. S. of A. to go see his beloved Saints play ball.  Last year he made it to both NYC and to Philadelphia to see them play, this year, Cleveland.  I personally think our annual trek to New Orleans to see family for the holidays should be enough for him, but, eh, I am not a football fan, so I clearly have no right to speak my mind.  ;-)

That said, it was a very lovely time this weekend in Cleveland, and even though I had a ginormous sewing project on my plate (just done today--more on that later--and YES, I did bring the sewing machine with me on our trip), I knew that I would have a good time.  'Cause really any excuse to go somewhere is fine by me.  Even if it is for football.  LOL.

Day: Saturday, September 13, 2014.

Where: The drive to Cleveland.  And any stops along the way, of course.

Ease of Wear: (4 of 5 stars--5 being the most easy to wear.)  Very easy outfit to wear on a long drive.  The leggings I made to precisely fit my body, so of course they felt great.  The winner, though, is the Zara sweatshirt, so comfy and cozy.  It was actually kind of cold in parts of the mountains (we drove over them to get to Ohio from VA), so the sweatshirt was welcome warmth.

Cool Factor: (4.25 of 5 stars--5 being the coolest.)  Zara is cool.  I think this looks really cool, but not especially over-accessorized. 

Day: Saturday, September 13, 2014.

Where: Corky and Lenny's, an apparent Cleveland institution.  I can see why.

Ease of Wear: (4.25 of 5 stars--5 being the most easy to wear.)  This outfit would have scored a 4.5 except I was feeling really drained (it has been a pretty crazy couple of weeks 'round here), so everything felt off.  But at least the fun yellow flowers (photo floral sweatshirt by J. Crew) and silver Nikes perked me up a bit.  Well, that and the yummy deli food, of course.

Cool Factor: (4 of 5 stars--5 being the coolest.)  It's a cute outfit, bit plain barring the bright flowers, though.

Mr. Dina loved his gigantic corned beef sandwich, and so did Angus and his sneaky little fingers.

Day: Sunday, September 14, 2014.

Where: Sewing in the hotel room, a walk to the local Whole Foods, followed by an evening visit to B Spot.

Ease of Wear: (4.5 of 5 stars--5 being the most easy to wear.)  CW insisted I bring my giraffe shirt so we could match on our girls day (well plus Angus) while Rex and Mr. Dina were at the game (the Saints lost--I still am hearing about that, btw).  We wore this momma/daughter combo years ago.  LOL.

Anyhow, for as old as the tee is, and the pants (from Pure Collection--my very favorite traveling pants, btw), and the cardigan (Boden, here is a similar version this year), the outfit is SO COMFORTABLE.  Needed it, so yeah, very glad I brought these pieces.

CW did not wear her Elsa shoes out, though (the tooth fairy "visited" us at the hotel room and brought her those).

Cool Factor: (3 of 5 stars--5 being the coolest.)  Not especially cool, but CW loved it, so it counts as cool in her world.

That there is a very strong drink from B Spot.  It is made with an amazing bourbon.  Yum.

This was Mr. Dina's burger.  I am hungry right now, probably not the best time to be writing this blog post.

The next day at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  We have done this before, but in Paris.  ;-)  Wasn't wearing a RUSH shirt then, though.

RUSH!  Very deserving of their 2013 induction...

They had the ENTIRE catalog of RUSH music outside the wall of signatures hallway.  Amazing.  If Mr. Dina would have been more patient, I could have listened to more (and so could the kids).  Sigh.  Impatient men.

Rush is not my only "dinagideon is a teenage boy" infatuation.  I also have every Pink Floyd album, and like a ridiculous pimpled 14-year old, I know the lyrics to every Wall song.  *Yeah*. 

I think Rex may be the next candidate to listen to every Pink Floyd album based on this pose.

Mr. Dina loves Johnny Cash.

And as if eating amazing deli food, great tasting burgers and rum weren't enough, we also stopped at Melt on the way out of town.  Why they don't have Melt here is beyond comprehension and needs to be rectified immediately. 

And here it is, finally entry for the Fashion Challenge #2 for Fabric MartI have made this pattern before, but never in a non-printed, non-stretch material.  This took me forever.  I am such a slow sewer.  But it is a dark green wool gabardine that is fully lined, so it will be just perfect for this winter...

I will write up a blog post on this one tomorrow afternoon at some point, hand on heart.

Okay, that's all for today.  Have a lovely Tuesday night!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Boden: Winter 2014 is Here!

Good Monday morning, all!

Before I start, two things!  First, I am in Cleveland and heading back to VA via car today.  Which means I am around, but not like I would normally be, so if you need to reach me and don't hear from me, that is why.  Second, Emily (from my FB page) let me know that there was another big restock of clearance items this morning at Boden, and because the extra savings on clearance has continued into today (yay!), you still have your choice of items at really great prices (my original post on that is here).

Okay, so today's winter 2014 items have rolled out.  I "wrote" up a picks post back in early July.  Note I said "wrote" because I added very little text other than a few links to reviews on items from last year that have carried over into this year (like the Ingrid Coat and Chic Tweed Dress).  I was having major computer issues back when, and that post was entirely written on my best friend's computer.  LOL.  I will, probably tomorrow, go back and link to the items properly with links the affiliate program has in its directory, but it will not be today, that is for sure.

Almost all of my preview items shipped yesterday.  Two items are languishing, so I expect they will have a mini-rollout in the next month or so.  This is why I can NOT count on those ship dates they give you when ordering from them.  Gracious.  I budget pretty carefully and BODEN, dang it, always screws it up because their preview orders come a two weeks to a full month early.  I give up.  I am now going to just start putting it in my head that all Boden preview orders will come a full month early to prepare my budget better.  :-)

On the upside, my items are coming early, so woo!  I will get up pictures as soon as I can!  Between some fall items I still have to review and these new winter items, the BWRRs will be full for the next few months.

I did receive a new coupon from the affiliate program, and like last time, it is a mini Boden ad.  I don't know why I haven't seen an ad with womenswear in it for a while.  I am sure they will get one up fairly soon, but surprised by the lack of them on the morning of a pretty decent sized rollout.

Alrighty, your turn!  See any pretties you have to have in your closet???

New Coupon (remember, it says "mini," but us "regulars" can get savings on our items, too)!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Boden: One Weekend Only! Clearance Items Prices Slashed!


Okay, so I see that the title of this post is a bit "used car salesman," but lol, this is actually a really big deal in Boden-land.  As the regulars of Boden know, Boden does not ever slash or reduce their clearance items.  There is never an extra % off (like the way Madewell, Loft, or J. Crew), and in fact, Boden is known to be quite stingy with their clearance items.  It has often been said that if you want something from Boden at a good price, you buy it in the last few weeks BEFORE clearance comes around (last season it was for between 40-50% off).  As crazy as this sounds, you will usually get a better price doing it that way than waiting for the *big* sale time.

Then last year (Fall/Winter 2013), Boden tried this new idea...for one weekend only they would slash prices SUPER low and see what happened.  Well, yeah, it was an amazing success, and items were flying off their virtual shelves.  But because Boden is Boden (and I do love them so!), on the day after the big clearance sale ended, all of the items went back up to their *normal* clearance prices.

Last year I was lucky enough to buy a coveted item of mine that was out of reach during regular season AND clearance time, the Jewelled Collar Sweater.  The weekend of the big clearance sale it went down to $30 from $100 (yeah, the $100 was the "sale" price).  You can see that here at the bottom of this BWRR.  So I can definitely recommend the big clearance sale!  :-)

(I do want to point out that while that sweater is still around, it is $90 this weekend, which gives me the big "huh?"  I don't get it.  That is one item they could reduce to $30 and be done with, if they just reduced it again.  Seriously.  But I don't make the calls, so there you go.  They are bound to have their reasons.)

This year there are a ton of options to choose from, but there is one item that is so low-priced that I love from this summer that I recommend all of you go out and buy it (well, if the dress suits your figure, of course), the Casual Jersey Dress (review here).  The navy blue floral version I purchased is $15.60!  Woah.  That's a pretty great price for what you receive!

Okay, that's it for now.  To get free shipping, you do have to have $50 in your basket, so bear that in mind.  The 15% off regular season items is still around, fwiw, too.

Anyone out there spy a really great deal they want to share?

Link to the sale (which also gives 15% off and free shipping) is below:
Shop Boden's Clearance Sale for up to 80% Off!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Made by Me File: Grainline Scout Tee. How I got from "There" to "Here."

Some of you had a "sneak peek" of my Fashion Challenge first entry yesterday if you are a regular reader of my Boden Weekly Review Roundups.  But since I know some of you are not, and come here for other reasons, I am making sure I do a proper "made by me" post for this creation of mine.

In the above photo you will see the printed sheet of the line drawing of the Grainline Scout Tee that my husband brought home with him (along with the pattern pieces, of course!).  I'll be honest here, when I saw the challenge come through in the email, a little part of me was like, "yikes, I don't know that I can think outside of the box enough."  Although I love prints and crazy colors, I am a very "clean lines" kind of person, and the Grainline Scout Tee, as is, seems to be a cute enough pattern.  So, because I am me, I started overthinking all of it.  I probably mulled over what I was going to do for four or so hours.  I went all over the internet looking at images of current clothing that could be made from a basic tee shape.  Eventually I settled on a favorite of mine, the tunic, for the silhouette, and for the details I again went with a favorite of mine, two fabrics melded together into one cohesive piece.  (Thanks to Boden for consistently doing this over the years--they definitely provided me with inspiration!)  To finish off the extra details, because let's be honest here...changing a tee to a tunic with two fabrics isn't enough "change," I added pockets ('cause yeah, pockets!), a working henley button placket at the back in the front fabric, and the neckline binding made from the back fabric.  Although all of these changes on paper seemed workable, I wasn't sure what the end product would look like, and at a few points in the construction, I was thinking I was foolhardy for taking this path.

So thank goodness at the end I was pleased with the results, since 50% of the time in the process (over four days total), I wasn't sure I would be.  :-)

Altered Pattern Pieces--Note square shoulder adjustment, 10 inches added in length, plus grading out from a size 4 at the bust to an 8 at the waist to a 14 at the hips. 

This is my muslin.  Note crazy fabric.  LOL.  Actually after cutting it and seeing that it looked okay on me, I realized that with some proper finishing, this would be a really cute pool coverup.  So there are plans to finish off the neckline, armholes, and hem.

The final product being cut.  PLEASE NOTE that there is a mistake on one of the pieces.  The front piece says to cut on fold at center BACK not center FRONT.  Really not a big deal, but for a beginner, a mistake could be made there.  Also note my "unsure" face.  The tunic fit, but I didn't care for the shape, completely.  Eventually I took in the sides a bit at the waist, which helped (read my thoughts below).

While it fit, I didn't love the fit in the final fabric.  In reality, I needed all the pieces to be on the garment for my vision to come true.  I do think this garment needs darts if you are not a straight-up and -down kind of lady.  I have curves (especially my lower half), and while shaping the waist in the process of the fitting (not on my original pattern pieces) helped, I know that if I make this again I will need to the diamond shaped darts on the back, and possibly french darts on the front.  But maybe not, since this is meant to be a "tee" derivative and not a fitted tunic.  Just thinking out loud here, lol. 

And the final product!  I was pleased, FINALLY.  I mean, it isn't a home run, but the shape works on my frame (for the most part), my square shoulder adjustment worked (though I did alter a tiny bit during the process), and the henley button placket worked and looks really cute on the back. 

BTW, I searched and searched for the best button placket tutorial on the web.  There were at least a few that did a great job, but my favorite was this one by Crafty Cupboard.  Being a visual learner, this one had the best photos and most photos so I could really see what I was doing and execute it well.  Having said that, this tutorial does not mention interfacing the fabric, and I knew the best placket would be one with a bit of body, so I interfaced my entire piece of fabric in a woven fusible interfacing before starting. 

Some of you asked where I got the fabrics.  Well all of them are from Fabric Mart!  I didn't intentionally do that, but since 80% of my fabrics come from them, no surprise, right?  The front fabric is a printed cotton lawn that was part of Julie's Picks a while back.  The back fabric is a stretchy cotton pinstripe (which looks like a solid light grey from far away) which I received in a bundle a LONG time ago.  The buttons were also part of a button bundle, and the color and size where exactly right for this project. 

Detail Shots for those of you who love seeing them.

I didn't mention this above, but I did make the tunic from lighter fabrics so I could be sure that I could wear the tunic as a "tee", too.  So while I changed the "tee" to a "tunic," I couldn't resist the styling possibilities of a tee in the end.  ;-) 

I wore the tunic/leggings/belt/loafers outfit yesterday to bowling.  It was comfortable, presentable, and not one person realized that I had made this myself.  Which I guess is success?  LOL. 

I look forward to wearing the tee/skirt/loafers outfit to church or subbing one day.

I also have plans to wear the tunic/leggings outfit in the winter, but layered with a long cardigan, scarf, and boots.

Okay, that's all for now.  The blog post by Fabric Mart with the place to vote is up and ready, so check it out if you feel so inclined.  :-) 

I LOVE what the other sewers came up with, btw.  I love how very different all of our looks are!!!  Great job, ladies!  It has been fun to virtually sew with all of you!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Boden Weekly Review Roundup: Pewter Low Heeled Loafer Times Two Outfits.

Okay, hope all is well for everyone out there!  :-)  As you know by now, Boden started their "diminishing" discount sale on Sunday, which this season is for 20% off (which will start after you have more than $50 in your basket, though) for four days, followed by the current/normal 15% off on Thursday.  So, basically, buy now, lol.  I wrote more on the sale here at this blog post.

Some of you all are probably curious as to what I made up for the first challenge of the Fabric Mart Fashion Challenge, and while I am not ready to write up the full blog post, I am ready to show off what I made as part of the outfits that include the low heeled loafers, which are my "main" review this review roundup.  So I guess this is a sneak peek.

Alrighty, let's get onto the roundup!

Regular Boden:
Low Heeled Loafer.  Size 41.  I was so sure (especially with my bad luck with Boden shoe sizing) that I would have to send this back for the size 40.  But after receiving them and trying them on, I found that although they were a touch wide and long, the size 40 would have been too short on my foot, so I was pleased that the sizing gods had smiled down upon me with this purchase.

I have already written up one review of these, back here at this roundup, but you haven't seen them in action yet, of course.

I was thrilled that they worked so nicely with my "outfits" for the Fashion Challenge sewing competition that I photographed yesterday.  I needed something dressy, but not *too* dressy, something closed toe, and whose heel was low enough to work with leggings.  Yeah!  These are exactly right!  The "tee" in the above photo is actually a tunic made from a pattern that all of us competitors received and were expected to alter, embellish, and change to suit our needs, but also be something unexpected.  Nothing about the above is earth-shattering, but it is a tunic tucked into a skirt, so it ends up looking like a tee.  :)  There's more below in the next photos.

Back view.  You can see here that the shoes are not high at all, maybe 1.5" in total.  Very comfortable.  Since the construction is all leather (barring a manmade bit on the sole for traction), they feel lovely on the feet.  Boden's all leather shoes have done me I don't even bother with anything but leather, now that I know the difference.  I wish I had known more what to wear on my feet when I was younger!

The back view of the tunic is the biggest surprise of the changed "tee."  I added a working henley button placket to the back of the tunic for visual interest on a very solid looking back.  The fabric on the back is actually a pinstripe but reads light grey from far away, so the visual interest helps break it up.  The sleeves are also from the front fabric for the same reason.  I could have just made a faux placket, but I wanted to learn how to do the henley placket, so I just gave myself some extra caffeine, and got on with making the real deal.

The pewter color of the shoes are exactly the right amount of shine for me.  Too shiny and I won't wear it, but a bit burnished-looking and I will.  The color of this on-line is not very accurate.  It only looks that bright and shiny in direct bright light and with a bright white background.  It reminds me more of this kind of pewter used in drinking vessels of the 18th-century in colonial Virginia.

The Grainline scout "tee" pattern was a lot of fun to work on over the past few days (and I used all the time I had to make it work exactly right for me and for the competition), and voting on it starts tomorrow over here at the Fabric Mart blog.  I will make sure to write up the process in a special "made by me" blog post tomorrow, so if this sort of thing interests you, make sure to check it out.  And hey, the tunic does look very "Boden," right?  :-D

Low Heeled Loafer
Low Heeled Loafer.  Lots of women are feeling the love for these shoes.  Many sizes are on deep backorder.  20% off is a decent price for what you receive.  Like always, every loafer purchase I have made from them has been perfect, and they are all still in my closet, worn often throughout the year.

Must Have Tunic
Must Have Tunic.  In addition to announcing the Diminishing Discount sale on Sunday, I made sure to include a quickie written review (and one photo) of this tunic there.

Cambridge Skirt
Cambridge Skirt.  Lou reviewed this lovely skirt for us here.  She also wore it as part of a really cute dressy casual outfit here.

Long Sleeve Breton
Breton Top.  Avril wears hers under the most fabulous coral coat.  Yum, love that coat!!!  But, yes, the Breton is lovely, too, lol.  ;-)  *The photo link goes to the summer version.  I can't find the winter version at the affiliate program.  Grr.*

Hartland Dress.  Though this is not yet available (it is a winter item--set to roll out the end of this month), Anna wrote up a review of the one she received.  (I received my Sophia dress early, too, so this is not unprecedented, just kinda weird, lol.)

My Hartland Dress arrived. I love it, or rather I will after some minor revisions. I'm 5'5 and ordered it in long since so many dresses were running too short for my taste last year, but it ended up being too long just below the knee looking a bit dowdy, so I may end up exchanging or just shortening it myself. Overall the dress runs a bit large, though I'm very much in between sizes right now so maybe that's the issue. I ordered my usual size and will keep it, but a size smaller may have worked too. Finally, I may exchange for a different color, I got "green" which is khaki with brown and yellow details, very nice in general and would be cute for fall with browns and blacks, but I haven't decided if I like it on me or not. Unfortunately I can't find any pictures of the dress online anymore, it was part of the winter preview and seems gone from the internet. If anybody knows where to find stock pictures of this dress in different colors please let me know! But overall I really like it, it has a figure skimming relaxed fit, nice patch pockets, is made of soft mid-weight corduroy with lining, and the squirrels are so fun. I'll longingly wait for Boden to re-release this dress on their website so I can decide whether to exchange for a different color, a shorter version, or just hang on to the one I have and just shorten it myself. This dress makes me look forward to fall!

Clearance Boden:
Lovely Linen Dress
Lovely Linen Dress.  Wore this out to church a while ago, and included it in a blog post here.

Santorini Sundress
Santorini Sundress.  Wore this out with my daughter to get our haircuts.  Blog post is here.

Summer Sandals
Summer Sandals.  Keilexandra wrote up a review for us at the Boden Reviews tab:

I ordered the Summer Sandals (Johnnie B) because I loved the color and they came in my size (Boden, why no women's shoes in size 35?!). The color was as described, but unfortunately the fit was very narrow (I often have trouble with Euro size 35 fitting too wide, but this felt like a narrow-ish US size 5) and the sole was completely flat. I also didn't have much confidence in the very thin suede back strap holding up to repeated use, since there's no buckle and you just have to stretch it.

Thanks, as always, to my awesome blog friends for their great reviews!

Okay, all, that's it for today.  Hope everyone has a wonderful Tuesday.  Happy (sale) shopping!