Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Burda Cape With a McCall's Dress: Fabricista Fashion Challenge #7

We are now down to the four seamstresses in the Fabricista Fashion Challenge.  Last week threw me for a loop seeing Shams of Communing With Fabric 'go home'.  She offered up a pile of really beautifully sewn garments throughout the competition, her blog is overflowing with even more well made, amazing clothes and she can out-sew me any single day of the week-- she is knowledgeable and highly skilled! 

This week I felt like I worked double time with these two garments I'm offering up the the Fabricista Fashion Challenge gods.  But after wearing them for the photos shoot at 8 AM on a crisp autumn Sunday morning in the woods I knew I loved them so! 

The folks at Fabric Mart will post all contestants work on their blog Tues, Nov 5th-- voting will be open Tues and Wed the 5th and 6th-- results will be up on their blog Thurs, Nov 7, 2013.

Voting is now closed... but go see who won this week's challenge!

The Challenge: Mixing Prints-- If you think mixing colors is hard, try mixing prints on top of it! Using at least two prints, coordinate them to make an outfit. Use only the fabric prints you have chosen to make your pieces. Think about where you would wear your fun outfit and choose a theme for your photo shoot.You will be judged on creativity, craftsmanship, how well your prints go together, your images, garment personality, and fit. The winner will receive Julie's Picks Membership  

My concept: A walk in the woods during Autumn's peak season.  And cue the music: Little Red Riding Hood by Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs (1966).  This song ran through my head all week long while sewing this.

Fall is hands down my favorite time of year--  I absolutely love a stroll on a cool, crisp day so I'd need a jacket and a comfy dress.  I sewed up a fully lined cape jacket with a self drafted hood along with a knit dress.  I made an unexpected pattern choice matching a Aztec style design with an abstract fall-time print.  The warm autumnal colors tie them together perfectly! The cape is made from a heavy wool blend coating and lined with a dark brown poly material while the dress is a heavier weight poly/spandex knit.  I really put this outfit to the test as it was a blustery and cool 45F/7C while I hiked through the woods on my photo shoot-- I was comfy and warm!  

I've been wanting to make a cape jacket for some time and new this was the moment.  I downloaded Burda 8/2011 #112 and made a self-drafted hood using this tutorial.  I sewed up this ultra comfy knit dress from View C of McCall's 6163.

I made my standard Burda size 42 for the cape but ended up taking in the shoulder by more then four inches (10.2 cm)-- I looked like an absolute linebacker with those massively oversized and very broad shoulders in the original design!

I of course needed a hood to complete the overall look of my jacket!  The tutorial I used for the hood was so simple and clear to use.  My pattern was just this head-shaped thing that worked like a dream.  I opted for this Burda cape pattern because it seemed like a more tailored version then most cape designs I found.  I don't have a petite or small frame (I'm 5'8"-- 1.7 m without shoes) and thought a big, fluffy, flappy cape would be just awful on me.  Some of the details here are quite nice.  There are concealed buttons on front-- I actually made all four button holes but sewed only one button on top.  I just liked how it felt to have only the top buttoned.  There is a vent on back.  The slippery lining makes the jacket feel complete and gives it a nice feel when it's on.  For the lining, I made and entire second jacket and sewed it in before the neck and front facings.  I hand sewed the facings onto the lining.     

The arm holes hide right in the seams.   I top-stitched all the seams and was ever so careful to line up all 8 panels of the fabric to match the pattern.  The pattern calls for under 2 yards of material so I bought 3 yards and had a perfect amount for it... plus enough for the self-lined hood.

Here are a couple shots of the back.  The hat got a little rumpled it seems in the woods... without a mirror I had no idea what was going on in back.  

The cape ends up being a medium weight for between the heat of the summer and the icy cold winter.  I almost underlined it with a cotton flannel but at the last minute realized it would be way to warm for what I wanted.

The lone button on top there is a sweet little vintage one from my collection.  The pattern instructions don't give a button size, this one is about 1 1/4" (3.2 cm.)

I sat on some cobwebs and bugs here.  But I saw this fallen tree and thought it looked like a spot Little Red Riding Hood would rest before being gobbled down by her wolf grandmother.

Now for the ├╝ber comfortable knit dress!  I used a heavier weight poly knot fabric.  I don't think it's classified as an ITY, it's a better quality and has more substance.  The pattern is quite busy and the colors are so pretty!  It looks like the dappled light through the trees in the woods.  I cut a size 14 on top and graded to about a 16/18 on the bottom.

I don't really like the collar on the pattern's original design so I chopped it off for a v-neck.  It's not really low giving this otherwise form-fitting dress a bit of modesty.

The sleeves are really cool and remind me of a 1970's sort of vibe-- I'm a big fan of the fashion design of that era.  The faux wrap is a nice element.

The shirring does help a girl out as it is quite flattering.  I really like the seam along the back... you can't see it with the print but it conforms nicely to a figure like mine.  The pattern tells you to put a zipper on the side seem.  I saw no reason for one and excluded it.  The dress just slips over the head. 

The instructions wanted me to just fold the fabric over and sew on the neckline.  No way when I can easily give the neckline a finished professional look.  I cut out 2.5" wide strips of fabric and turned them into binding for the edge.  I serged them on and top stitched.  I prefer this method for almost all of my knitwear.  You cans see a detailed explanation on how to attach a neckline binding here on my blog post about a running top I made.  My general rule of thumb is to have my binding length 15% shorter then the opening I'm attaching them to.  This dress goes against this rule as the material has less stretch (about 30% stretch) then many knits I often use.  My binding is nearly identical to the neck opening length-- a reduction of maybe 3-4% in length.  It would have puckered and looked awful otherwise.
Here's another really important tip when sewing with knits.  Cut of the selvage edges before laying out and cutting your pattern.  It will help keep your work on grain by removing ripples and bumps in the material.  After the manufacturing process the selvages on some knits are often pulled taught and often have a hard, crunchy sort of sizing material on it.  You can see in my first picture below how wrinkly my fabric was, even after lots of smoothing and flattening by hand.  No way will I be able to cut an accurate pattern. I use my scissors to snip that mess off.


Look how much happier my fabric is!! Flat as a pancake and ready for action.  Here are both sides of my fabric with both selvages nicely snipped off. 


I was so nervous that a cape would be the absolute worst choice for my figure but I was so wrong!  I was sold after hiking up the giant hills alone through Druid Hill Park early on this chilly morning.  It kept me warm and happy.  My hands were icicles, though.  The dress is a perfect option in my closet now, it's basically feels like I'm wearing pajamas.  I'm very happy with the offbeat pattern matching!


  1. Thanks for the call out, Kathy. A beautiful mix of prints and they are so enhanced by that gorgeous autumn setting!

  2. Great job! I like your combo! Good luck with this week's challenge.

  3. I don't know how you manage to make time for all this sewing! All of the contestants are so impressive that way. You'll need a nap after this! This outfit fits perfectly in fall, and looks just cozy enough. Good luck!

  4. A great fall outfit....I have those same boots!

  5. Thanks, Shams! I am officially in the fall mood. I want to make more fall stuff once I'm out of the competition :)

  6. Thanks!! I have no clue how I made time. It's not easy, let me tell you :) But after all the photos are taken and I send them off to Fabric Mart, I am so relieved!

  7. Thanks, Shanni! Those boots got more comfy this year after some wear last year. It was zero problem hiking (on paved trails) up into the woods for the photos.

  8. Two very nice garments, Kathy!!

  9. I am just loving the cape!

  10. I love the cape! I have the same exact fabric and am planning a cropped motorcycle jacket like this one:

    but we'll see if the happens ;) It really is the perfect fabric for fall! Amazing job!

  11. Thanks!! I fell for that fabric the second I saw it in the store. I had planned to make a cape the whole time but seriously considered making a jacket like that Anthropologie one you posted here... I can't wait to see yours!!

  12. Thank you so much!! I was doubting myself being able to pull of a cape until I finally finished it. But I've worn it twice and love it.

  13. Thank you so much, Gail :)

  14. Love this! Your fabric for the cape is awesome. Looks like you created the perfect fall outfit.