Is It Impossible to Sew Socially?


Last week, I had an awesome skype session with my seamstress friend back in Montreal, where we basically had a virtual Stitch n’ Bitch.  We both worked at our sewing tables while we chatted over Skype, and it was fantastic!  It also got me thinking about how nice it would be to start a group in Stockholm dedicated to bringing fellow sewing enthusiasts together.  After all, it does get a bit tedious trying to explain sewing things to my fiance who doesn’t even pretend to understand what I’m talking about, and it’s challenging to call up my grandmother/sewing guru in California to talk shop or get advice with the 9 hour time difference. I think it would be amazing to have local friends with the same interests to talk about our projects, go fabric shopping with, or to simply hang out together, because everyone knows that seamstresses are kind, awesome people!

Back in California, I had my grandmother and a couple friends who were interested in sewing. In Montreal, my best friend is a professional seamstress.  One-on-one time spent sewing or watching the other sew and learning new things was productive enough.  Sewing alone is even more productive, and it’s a relatively solitary activity.  I don’t particularly need someone to socialize with while I am trying to summon my rusty math skills to alter a pattern or calculate the radius for a circle skirt. But I really miss the sense of community and having a shared interest.  People are always amazed when I wear something I’ve made, which feels fantastic, but I also miss having my seamstress friends who really get how little or much effort I put into something, and can spot somewhere I went wrong and offer a solution.  The online sewing community is wonderful for this and there are so many helpful people out there, but sometimes you just want to experience things in person.

And then there is the added challenge of portability.  Tasia of Sewaholic wrote an article on the subject, explaining that one of the greatest challenges would be working out how to take projects with you to meetings, whether it meant hauling your sewing machine around with you or having to spend time preparing a small handstitching project, which seems counterproductive to me.  So what’s a girl (or guy) to do?

It would be wonderful to teach people to sew, because it’s always good to welcome new people to a group who may be joining so they can deepen their interest in the subject, but I am not sure how I would do this without my own studio space and multiple machines. I imagine their are places like Kulturhuset that offer this sort of space, but maybe it’d be better if absolute beginners took a course on their own before joining the sewing circle.

I also had the idea to organize sewing related visits to cultural exhibitions such as a museum displaying interesting costumes. If I lived in a place like New York or Paris where these seem to be a regular thing (like the Charles James exhibit or the 1950s exhibit showing this month in Paris), this would be very easy.  But in Stockholm, I’m not so sure. I guess we could go to the ABBA museum and check out their costumes, or just go wild in the karaoke booth and disco dance floor (yes those are real things at the ABBA museum, and I highly recommend it).

As far as the possibility of portable projects goes, I love the idea of the needlework nights that Colette hosts in Portland.  It would be so much fun to sit in a cafe having fika and working on a little needlepoint or embellishing something on another project.  Only problem is, I have only rarely dabbled in embroidery, and would need someone else to share their knowledge in this area.  Maybe something small like making tailor’s hams would be easier, or it would be better to open it up to knitting like Colette does.

Another idea I considered was to have a pattern/fabric swap.  Now this is something I can really get down with.  We all have a stash, and one’s junk is another’s treasure, right?  I especially have a lot of smaller size vintage patterns which, let’s face it, I am never going to fit into and probably won’t bother re-sizing, so it would be great to swap those for something more useful.

If it’s challenging to work in actual sewing, maybe we could just get together, have some wine, and watch Project Runway. Or we could just get together over drinks, show off our latest makes, and hang out.  After all, at the end of the day it’s about building community with people who share the same interest.

Are you in Stockholm and looking for a community of fellow seamstresses? If you have any ideas for a sewing group, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you think!  

Ladies Who Lunch Dress

Hello! I hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve sure had a lovely one, full of evenings out for cocktails with my wonderful fiance and a very social weekend with friends.  On Friday night I had a friend over for wine and cheese. On Saturday I went with friends to the Stockholm gospel music festival, which was really uplifting! It’s a shame it had to rain though, because it meant we were too cold to stay for some of the later acts.  I also did some sewing last week, and finished a project to wear to lunch with the girls, so here it is!


Presenting the Ladies Who Lunch Dress, named for its debut at lunch with two wonderful friends and fellow ladies of leisure.  This dress is vintage Simplicity 1577, and like my first year in Stockholm, it should have been easy but I ended up making things complicated for myself. Watch out, the Stockholm Seamstress is about to get real with you here (and if you aren’t interested in my story, just scroll down to the next photo!).

When I first moved to Stockholm, I had just finished my degree in Canada, started my first post-college office job in a place that related to my desired career, and things were seemingly moving forward.  But then love took over, we moved to Sweden, and I found myself in career and adulthood limbo.  I didn’t speak the language, was waiting several months on my work permit to finish processing through my fiance’s company, and had nothing to do but go for fikas and lunches with other expat ladies, at my fiance’s expense.  I had become a Lady Who Lunches, and I hated to think of myself that way.

You see, when I moved abroad with my partner as an accompanying spouse, I left my career, friends, and my identity behind.  I had always seen myself as a hardworking person who could take care of herself and pave her own way financially.  My identity was tied into my ability to support myself, and to suddenly have to let go and place all the responsibility in my fiance’s hands not only felt wrong, but it felt like a betrayal of myself.  I grappled with these feelings for many months, meeting plenty of lovely women who probably could have helped me to get through it, but a lot of us were going through the same struggle.

But it’s not always easy reaching out, especially when it feels like you’re alone in your struggles.  I found that the majority of fellow expat women I met here had children, and this provided them with an outlet, an automatic social circle, and an understanding of their place in the world.  They had somewhere to be, a purpose in life, and the way I saw it, they could rely on their identities as mothers and bond over that.  I on the other hand, was in  a strange place, barely 24, not yet married, my career underdeveloped, and childless.  I met a few other young women in my position, and nearly all of shared the same goal, which was to find a job as quickly as possible.  This was alienating in itself because job searches are very consuming, and many of us found jobs, which no longer left time for bonding over leisurely lunches and coffees.

I eventually found a teaching job as a maternity cover for a year, which distracted me from these feelings, until my contract ended at the end of the school year.  Once that was over and I had once again become a lady of leisure, I was able to reach out to some of the young women I’d met when I first moved here.  I began to embrace a new identity as a housewife, and appreciate the low-stress lifestyle I now lead which gives me plenty of time for sewing and to socialize with friends as a lady who lunches.  If I had embraced  and accepted my new lifestyle from the beginning, maybe I would have had an easier time adjusting to Swedish life.


And if I had just followed the instructions and measured better, maybe this dress would have been easier and quicker to make! I started making this dress a few weeks ago when the weather in Stockholm became unusually and uncomfortably hot.  We had the same temperatures as California for a couple weeks!  Being indoors behind my sewing machine seemed like the best place to be, so I pulled out a lovely soft floral cotton I’d bought last summer and got to work choosing a pattern.

A couple weeks ago, I rounded up and cataloged all of my digital patterns via Pinterest, and that got me thinking about how many patterns I own and which ones I actually use. A few years ago I bought a plus sized vintage pattern lot on ebay, put them in plastic protectors, and never touched them again. Well, I went through my patterns and found vintage Simplicity 1577, which almost exactly matched my current measurements. Lucky day. I didn’t bother with a muslin, just cut it out and got to work. I like to live dangerously that way. :)


Let me tell you, this pattern was a pleasure to work with, and very simple. I mean, let’s get real here, in 90 degree heat, I would much rather spend extra time putting nice finishing details on an easy pattern than spend all my time struggling to put together a more complicated pattern, so this pattern was just right.  All it took was two main pattern pieces for the bodice, and the facings. But oh, facings! I was lured by the promise of quick cutting and a shortcut to finishing the neckline. NEVER AGAIN. I matched the notches, pressed, and understitched, but they still wouldn’t stay put! I ended ripping them out, sucking it up, and making a full lining for the bodice–much better!

It seems like all vintage patterns use facings, but I can’t stand them. I have never met a facing that hasn’t betrayed me! It’s too bad I forgot this when sewing the bodice, because I was really enjoying making this dress and working with the pretty floral fabric up to that point.

After I resolved my neckline issues, I was just looking for an easy end to my frustration, so I skipped cutting out the gored skirt pieces and used a gathered dirndl skirt instead. Lätt som en plätt! –easy as a pancake! I also left out the collar pieces, dresses with collars aren’t my thing. I am afraid of looking like an overgrown little girl, but I envy those who can actually pull them off because they can be pretty cute.


After all the time I spent creating a nice lining and finishing with hem tape, I tried the dress on and was disappointed (and yet not disappointed) that my diet and exercise efforts were successful, which meant it no longer fit.  So it just sat there on my sewing table, all pretty and floral and sad, waiting a couple weeks til I finally sucked it up, put my mannequin to use and adjusted the darts.  It only took about 15 minutes to do, but sometimes you just run out of steam on a project after so many frustrations.  Once that was done, I was pleased to find the fit issues were mostly fixed, so  I added a zip and hemmed it before it was time to meet my lovely ladies for lunch. Hurrah!


And that’s all I have to say about that. :)  Until next week, hej då!

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The Return of the Doctor

Hello! I just wanted to do a mini post to share a quick crafty project I did to celebrate the return of Doctor Who. I have been hearing about it for weeks, so I decided to throw together a fez for my fiance.

hemk candy bucket

I took an upside down Hemmakväll candy bucket, some red fabric scraps, fabric glue, and embroidery thread and made a fez!  I surprised Eugene with it. He was thrilled.


He was so thrilled that he agreed to take pictures! :D He said next time they need a doctor, the BBC should get in touch. He is Scottish, after all.


Is anyone else excited for the new season of Doctor Who? Have you sewn anything fun to celebrate the return of the show? What do you think of the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi?

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Hej hej! Can you believe summer is almost over?  My fiance and I enjoyed a quiet weekend which included dinner out at a local German bar (after he patiently accompanied me to the fabric store for the first time) and lots of sewing. I wanted to get another summer dress finished before the end of the season, and I knew I could finish this one before fall weather takes over, so I spent a leisurely weekend sewing a summer dress. I’ve got to make hay while the sun shines–literally! In a few months it will be dark for most of the day.


I followed the instructions in Swedish Burda magazine 07/2014 for the tiered dress they charmingly called a “Carmenklänning–” a Carmen dress (for its Carmen Miranda ruffles). I wasn’t sure how I’d like it, but I think it’s surprisingly cute.


As the magazine promised, this was really easy to sew! I finished it at a leisurely pace over weekend. The pattern fit accurately. The only trouble I had was with the ruffle in the off the shoulder part.IMG_1439

The instructions told me to only gather the ruffle piece between the straps in the front and the back, but not gathering the sides meant I had to take out about 4 inches of extra fabric from the sleeve area on each side.  Before I did this, the neckline was drooping in the front and the off-the-shoulder sleeves looked really weird. Luckily, this was easy to fix by just taking it in about 4 inches on each side. Next time, I think it would be best to gather the whole thing or just make the ruffle piece shorter.

This was the first time I’ve ever made my own bias binding. I was surprised how easy it was to do and how little material I needed, which was great because I only had a little over 1.5 meters of fabric. I don’t have a bias tape maker so I used the sewing pin method described here on Creative Little Daisy’s Blog.  It’s such a clever DIY idea! Of course it took a little more time than having the proper tool would, but it got the job done. I used bias binding for finishing the armholes and neckline around the ruffle, and for the straps..


Closeup of neckline, and a happy doggy!


It was also the first time I made a dress with an elastic waist.  Why haven’t I done this before?  It’s so much easier than a zip!  Another great thing is this will still fit as I get in shape for our wedding in two months.  Nothing is more frustrating than sewing something up and it not fitting by the time you’re done–especially when you forget to add the seam allowances like I did.  The pattern only goes up to a 44, so I graded this pattern up to a Burda size 46 the easy way (using the tutorial here on BurdaStyle’s website), and ended up with something closer to a size 44 in the end, so that was pretty silly of me.  At least I had the elastic waistband to save me.  Next time I’ll remember my seam allowances!


Hopefully I will get at least a few weeks wear out of this dress before the fall weather sets in.  If not, I can always wear it when we visit California, where the sun is always shining!.

What are you sewing right now? Are you trying to make any more summer items before the warm weather ends?

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My fiance pointed out a strange trend that has cropped up this summer in Stockholm. They’re called mönstrade byxor (which literally translates topatterned pants’), and I see girls wearing them everywhere.

tygbyxor chic howto

image via

They are made of a soft viscose material, come in fun patterns and prints, and appear to be very comfortable, but there is just one problem–they seem to make everyone except the supermodel-esque ladies look like they have a very big bum, and not always in a flattering way!

An example of the trendy pants, from H&M

An example of the trendy pants, from H&M

It seems like every few summers, the fashion designers get together and decide that it’s time to channel MC Hammer and Aladdin again, as they did a few summers ago with the harem pants trend. I thought this just might be a passing fad in Stockholm, but Burda seems to have received the memo that it’s hammer time:

plus size hammer time

Burda Plus, 06/2014 #136

It seems that only 4 brave souls have dared to download the pattern, and I see no finished projects.  To Burda’s credit, they used a stiffer fabric than the viscose I’ve see everywhere in this style, which helps the shape, but I wonder how those pleats would do on a plus size girl with a tummy.  My guess is not so well, but I would love to see someone prove me wrong. Burda also came out with a pattern in 2011 which looks exactly like the pants that are trendy this summer:

burda hammer pants 102B

Burda 07/2011 #102A, also see #102B

However, the Burda 102 pants have one game-changing detail in the pattern–NO PLEATS.  I looked through some of the member projects and saw plenty of cute versions, albeit on girls with very slim figures. Burda member Mokosha put together a very striking version of the Burda 102 pants, and she has a few other versions of the same pattern on her blog.

image via Mokosha

image via Mokosha

They’re satin, and don’t they look lovely on her? Seeing how she styled these is almost enough to make me consider the trend, or at least the Burda pattern. The promise of comfort in the hot summer which this style appears to offer is mighty tempting, but I have no delusions of being able to pull a pair of these babies off without having Sir Mix-a-lot come a-calling. But that’s just me. How about you, are you interested in trying out this trend? Do you think you could pull it off?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Sommaren är kort!

Hej Hej!  I have been absent for a while, but I am not apologizing! As we are reminded every week in the Skansen singalongs on Swedish TV, and by last week’s thunderstorms, Sommaren är kort! Summer is short–too short to be spending time sewing indoors! I have to replenish my vitamin D levels before we get back to several months of darkness.

If you are wondering what I mean by a Skansen singalong, here is a video, filmed at Skansen, and this article explains more about them:

I have been barbecuing, picnicking, attending concerts at Gröna Lund, walking around the lake, had my maid of honor visit, celebrated midsummer, and spent many weekends taking trips around Stockholm county looking at houses to buy so we can get out of the expensive secondhand rental trap we have been in since we moved here.  Sewing has not been my first priority!


Wearing the midsummer crown I made and NOT thinking about sewing!

With a few babies of friends and family on the way, I did try my hand at a small quick project, sewing baby bibs. You can find the tutorial here from Simple Simon and Company.


Bibs, made using fabric scraps

This was just what I needed to get back on the machine!  Unfortunately, it also jammed my bobbin case while I was trying to quilt some of the pieces, but lucky me, my fiance suggested we just go to the sewing shop and buy me a new one!  We did, and I came back with a wonderful computerized machine, the Janome 4120.  It’s perfect for quilting, so I may have to learn how!


My precious!! Janome 4120. The thread cutter is my favorite part!

I was meant to get one last summer, and almost bought a ridiculously expensive (but amazing) embroidery/sewing machine that did everything.  I changed my mind though and decided we should use the money to take a trip to Iceland for my fiance’s birthday, which was a great call, because I got both a new machine and the trip of a lifetime in the end *Side note: Seriously, if you are thinking of visiting Iceland, this travel company was fantastic, and no, I am not endorsed by them!

It took a few days for me to say goodbye to my faithful old Kenmore, which I managed to fix and plan on keeping as a backup machine.  But I finally set up my new Janome yesterday and went through the instructional video a couple times.  Now I have no excuse for abandoning my sewing (besides the fleeting Swedish summer)!  I have to say, on my old machine, I sometimes felt that the quality I was coming out with was not always great, and blamed myself, but the new one runs so smoothly that I’m beginning to think it wasn’t just my skills that were to blame!

Farewell, old friend!

Farewell, old friend!

I am going to miss my old Kenmore though.  I picked it up in California for 50 dollars on Craigslist from a woman whose mother had used it as a professional seamstress before she started getting macular degeneration.  It had the original Sears receipt and a bunch of great attachments, including a ruffler foot.  The daughter told me her mother had treated it like her baby, regularly oiling and servicing it.  I made my first dress on it, and have learned how to do pretty much everything I know about sewing beyond the basics on this machine. It has been in California, Montreal, and Stockholm, and it holds a lot of sentimental value and memories for me!

Tell me about your first sewing machine. What kind was it, and do you still have it? 

The Vanadislunden Picnic Dress


I know it’s spring when I see wild daffodils!

Hej Hej!  After a couple months of hibernating, I looked outside and saw that it was spring, so I decided it was time for a new post! Well, I haven’t just been hibernating, we’ve also had some big things going on.  Like moving our wedding from Scotland to California.  We had planned a lovely castle wedding for June, but it all got to be too much pressure on us and my family, so we talked to my parents and agreed to get married in the fall close to my hometown.  I spent two straight weeks rediscovering the joys of planning yet another wedding from abroad. I was researching venues 24/7, booked an awesome one, and have been busy nailing down some of the other details.  After all that, I decided to take a break from sewing, and everything else! Phew, wedding planning is very consuming!

Anyway, with the big details out of the way and the save-the-dates sent, I finally started a(nother) new project, based on the bodice of Lekala 5212.  I’m still in the cutting phase.  I also have made an Elisalex muslin and have put my Monthly Stitch Miss Bossy Challenge for March on the back burner because I was overthinking how to resize the vintage pattern, but I will get around to it.  I have always been one to just dive into a pattern head-first, without measuring the pieces or making adjustments, so I think trying to do it the right way overwhelmed me, because I froze up a bit in the process!  While I am working on finishing one of these, I don’t want to completely abandon my blog, so I thought I’d share something I made last summer.


This is Simplicity 2444, and I guess what you would call a wearable muslin.  It was made at the end of the summer last year, so I only wore it once before it got too cold. Image

This is such an easy pattern to put together! I lined the bodice and enclosed the zipper in the lining. I do not know how I did that, because this was one of my first zippers and I was just kind of faking it til I found the Sunni’s Craftsy class on zippers last fall and learned out how to do it properly.


Pattern: Simplicity 2444

Fabric and materials used:  I used around 3 meters of cotton fabric I bought ages ago when I lived in Montreal, from a little fabric shop run by a sweet old couple who had terrific prices.  I just love the roses!

Things to try next time: I had a fit issue with this, probably thanks to my narrow shoulders–there is gaping at the underarms, which seems to happen to me a lot, and a lot of gaping at the chest. It makes me wonder–do I have a hollow chest, or is it just the pattern? I think I may try using this gaping neckline adjustment tutorial from Phat Chick Designs next time I make this to see if it helps.

New Skills/Lessons learned: I only used the bodice, and did my first full circle skirt.  Hemming that was a little time consuming, but I am glad I know how to do it now, thanks to this Colette tutorial.

Would you make this again?:  Yes, when I am in the mood to make a muslin and adjustments!  It’s a very flattering pattern thanks to the waist darts.

I wore this dress out today, for an impromptu Easter Monday picnic on Vanadislunden.  Eugene and I were cleaning the house to prepare for my lovely friend and maid of honor’s visit this week, when he looked out at the sunny weather and suggested he prep a picnic. He made us some nice sandwiches, which the dog tried to steal, and we stopped and bought beers and chicken drumsticks at the grocery store.



ImageImageWe found a nice sunny spot on the hill, next to a building which looks like fortress, but is actually a water reservoir.  Vanadislund is a pretty neat place with a large dog park, playground, church, and it’s where a lot of locals come in the summer to picnic, sunbathe, exercise, and walk their dogs.  A lot of people had the same idea as us today.


It was wonderful, and the dog had fun too! :) I hope you had a nice Easter weekend, and happy sewing!

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The Georgia Rose Dress #FAIL


I spent the week working steadily on this dress, but it wasn’t meant to be.  I should just be whistling along to this catchy Swedish pop song.

Last summer, that #FAIL song was pretty popular. I remember my fiance and I were at Gröna Lund and stumbled upon a Sommarkryssat concert being filmed with Oscar Zia performing. It was funny to see a big group of teenage girls with their faces and arms painted with #FAIL and speaking in fake California accents, but hey, it was enough to get the security to let them into the seated area so I guess it wasn’t such a bad idea!  But anyway, back to sewing!


The skirt fabric is a cool rose-textured poly chiffon from Joann’s.  My grandmother sent a couple yards to me as a sample.  Originally, I was considering making my own wedding dress based on this Amsale Dahlia dress. I also fell in love with the oatmeal Olivia dress from Watters (which I chose in the end). So I have to hand it to her, this was the perfect combination of the two, and when I pleated it to test, it looked really nice.

It won’t completely go to waste. I can still make a nice skirt out of it, and that’s the plan.  As for the bodice, what a mess! The pattern is ByHand London’s Georgia (which is a good pattern, just not this time).  I cut a size smaller figuring that, since my measurements had gone down a little, I should.

What I should have done is measured! I am at a weird place in the size charts right now where I am not quite a US 14 but not small enough to be a 12 either.  I tried on my first Georgia and it was a little big. I should have just cut the 12 and used smaller seam allowances like Bec of BecSews did with her Georgia dress.  Too bad I saw her post just after I had finished my bodice and trimmed the seams. I also should have used a stiffer fabric than the stretch satin and cotton lining here.  Live and learn.  Of course I can always wait til I am smaller to wear this, but frankly, I am out of love with you, Georgia Rose.  Into the UFO pile you go, and onto the next project!


pretty skirt, but weird fitting bodice!

All is not lost.  I may have spent a fair bit of time on this dress, but I learned a few things too.  I tried out some boning in the top part of the bodice, practiced understitching for the first time (why have I never done this before?!), and cut my first half circle skirt (I have only cut full circles in the past).  And I confirmed my suspicions, Georgia looks pretty cute as a full skirted number.  If anyone is inspired to try your own swishy Georgia (maybe with a sturdier fabric than my bodice), I would love to see it!


This week, I have been practicing my time management.  I set a timer to sew 20 minutes every day.  It usually ended up being more like 40 minutes because I just wanted to keep going.  This helped me stay a little more consistent, and gave me lots of time to do other things, like bike around beautiful Haga Parken with my dog, Lulu!  We are lucky to have early spring weather in Stockholm this week, so I have been taking Lulu out with me on her special bike leash and harness.  People seem to find it hilarious to see me on the bike and my little dog happily trotting along.  It is so fun and relaxing to be outdoors, and to have sunshine again! I have been loving the view of the lake, the swans, and all the ducks. The dog absolutely loves it too. Usually when we walk her, she pulls hard on the leash because she just wants to run, so getting to run alongside the bike is like heaven for her.  I also let her off leash to try to catch ducks.  She never can because they fly away into deeper waters, but she still has a ball!


This weekend will probably be more biking, weather willing, and I will be starting on my Simplicity dress for the Miss Bossy Challenge from the Monthly Stitch!

Sewing, Oscar Style!

Inspired by the fashion posts in my Facebook feed from the Oscars this week, and by the Make This Look series via the Sew Weekly, I decided to create my own version of Make This Look– Oscar Style!

I’ve checked out some of the most popular Oscar dresses, perused several patterns, and come up with some ideas on how you can steal the stars’ style and sew your own red carpet-worthy dress.  If you decide to make one of these, I would LOVE to see how it turned out!

Here they are:





Lupita’s gown was a personal favorite for me, not only was the color gorgeous on her, but there was so much elegance in the simplicity of the dress!  I love the way she described the dress color as reminding her of the Nairobi sky, so romantic!


And just because I love vintage fashion, here is a classic from the 1954 Oscars:


Now, tell me readers, did you watch the Oscars? Who do you think was best-dressed at the Oscars? Who was your least favorite? Leave a comment below, I would love to hear what you think!

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“The Battlefield Dress” Burda 07/2011


Burda 07/2011 Off the Shoulder Dress (Plus Size) worn with fur stole, a gift from my godmother


This gives you a good idea of the color of the dress, which turned out much darker in my other photos. Sorry, I think my photography assistant/ sweetheart is on strike because I am too bossy!

In Kunsträgården after the party--it started snowing!

In Kunsträgården after the party–it started snowing!


The Berns Hotel Grand Salon

Last week, my fiance’s company hosted a party at the Berns Hotel in the beautiful grand salon.  The event called for “smart casual” attire, which is open to wide interpretation.  A few Google image searches of the dress code yielded a look that is more office casual than party chic, but I have so few opportunities to dress up in Sweden (even office attire here is more ‘casual Friday’ than business professional), so I decided to finish my Burda Off the Shoulder Dress.  I am opting to call it The Battlefield Dress, because completing this dress was a like a battlefield with all the fit and construction issues I encountered.

With just a few hours to go before the party, I put Breakfast at Tiffany’s on in the background and got to work. I have had this dress hanging on my mannequin and sitting on my sewing table since November. Trying to figure out which way the collar piece sandwiched into the shell and lining fabric was tricky, and the instructions may as well have been written in German.  I was daunted by them, so I called in reinforcements. With a little help from my friend Helen of Button and Snap, I was able to figure out what the heck was supposed to happen with the collar piece, and she also gave me a little moral support when she confirmed that those Burda instructions were indeed confusing.  Thanks Helen, you gave me the push I needed to dive in and get over my fear of the collar.  :) WIN_20140225_160424

When I finally completed my first kick pleat and lapped zipper, I was so proud and the result was great, except for the fact that the bust was now too big and the collar was drooping too far off of the left shoulder.  I ripped out the back part of the collar and sewed it back on so that it sat a little further down, but this was no help.  It became apparent to me that I was going to have to really get into the guts of the dress, so I ripped open the lining tried a little pinning to adjust the fit.  I soon became so intimidated with the task that I just left it sitting there as a UFO, until now. No longer will this dress taunt me!

When I finally revisited it yesterday, I thought I was going to have to adjust the whole bust area, and struggled for about an hour to try and get my head around how to do it, until I realized I was running out of time and just decided to move the front of the left collar piece downwards to make the sleeve tighter. This probably would have worked well a few months ago when I first made the dress, but blessed/cursed weight loss has caused my bust to decrease a little more since then, so it was still loose.  At this point, I only had an hour to get ready, so I pinned the collar pieces where they needed to go, and did a quick hand-sewing job on the inside. The fully lined dress isn’t as pretty as it could be now in that area, but this quick fix along with a nicely padded pushup bra, did the trick.


This dress, thanks to the full satin lining, feels amazing to wear!  I can’t help but feel good and elegant in it.  After watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s in the background, I was happy I had a dressy outfit to wear to the party. Don’t you just love how formal clothing was during that era?  I kept Holly Golightly’s poise in mind all night, but I resisted the urge to call everyone “daaarling!” as she does in the film.  I must admit I felt like Marylin Monroe in this dress, and my sweetheart kept saying how beautiful I looked and how he was so glad I was there. So I guess I won the battle in the end, and it was worth it.  Until next time, daaaaarling!

Pattern: Burda 07/2011

Fabric and materials used: Around 3 meters navy stretch satin (good quality) for shell, 2 meters bargain bin blue stretch satin for lining, regular zipper, iron-on vilene tape to stabilize the zipper, and iron-on vilene stabilizer (which was useless because it would not stay–next time I will just stay-stitch).  I could really tell the difference between the two fabrics in terms of quality.  This was my first time working with any sort of slippery or stretchy fabric and I must admit I really loved it.  It was not as scary as I read it would be, though I took ages to cut it out.

Changes I made/things to try next time: On the burda measurements chart, It said I was a size 48 bordering on 50 at the time I cut this out (holy hips!).  I cut a 48 in the hips and a 46 in the bust.  I really could have sized down even further, especially in the bust area.  However, I found the armholes way too tight and ended up modifying these to account for my bulging biceps. ;)  I cut them down this twice, measuring carefully to make sure both sides were even.  Maybe I went a little too far though, since the left collar piece/armhole ended up being too big.


New Skills/Lessons learned:  This is the first time I properly excecuted a lapped zipper, and for extra gold stars, I made the lining nice and tidy too.  This was also my first vent.  I am sold on the lapped zipper. I reinforced it with vilene iron-on waist stay tape, which made it nice and sturdy.  Although it looks wrinkly in the photo, I assure you I have a more ample backside than my mannequin, and it fits smoothly on me.

This was the first time I worked with nicer quality fabric. In the past I always used cheaper cottons, which was fine while I was improving my skills.  Now that I have improved, I must say, I can finally see the value in spending a little more on fabric. I feel like this is the first time I have produced a piece that is more handmade than homemade,  and this has given me the confidence to start looking more at actual dressmaking fabrics rather than strictly cotton prints.

Would you make this again?:  Possibly. I loved the end result, and it is not as confusing now that I have made it once, but I would have to take more time to fix all the fit issues. Maybe I’d make it for a friend though, as every voluptuous girl deserves a dress like this!

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