Completed: Birthday Dress

Friday was my birthday, so I made a new dress to celebrate.  🙂

Birthday Dress
I found this steel blue brocade at the fabric shop a couple weeks ago when I ran in to get a zipper.  The first brocade dress I made got ruined, so I’ve had my eye out for a replacement.  When I saw this fabric I thought it was perfect.


I used the same pattern as my ruined dress, which is a heavily modified version of Colette’s Truffle dress.  (More info on the mods here.)  I reclaimed the lining from my first dress.  It was a hassle to pick the dress apart, but I didn’t want to waste the Bemberg rayon.


I did have a slight hiccup with the fit on this dress, and it’s honestly a bit too tight.  I realized after the fact, that I had trimmed the back seam allowances off the pattern pieces at one point, thinking I’d make a version with a side zipper.  But I didn’t add them back in before cutting this one.  That was mistake number one.  Then, I decided to peg the bottom of the skirt a little more than my last dress.  That was mistake number two.

On Friday, about 20 minutes before I was supposed to leave for lunch with my boss, I noticed the side seam, right above the hem, had SPLIT OPEN!!  I don’t know about you, but that is seriously one of my biggest sewing fears.  I panicked for a minute, then starting digging in my drawers to find a way to fix it.  I didn’t have any safety pins, so I thought I’d have to staple the dress together.  But at the last second I saw that I had a needle and tiny bit of thread in my bottom drawer.  I have no idea how it got there, but I’ve never been so happy to find something random in my desk.  🙂

I rushed down the hall to the bathroom, stripped off my dress and sewed up the seam.  Crisis adverted!  I made it to my birthday lunch on time, and in one piece.   I think I will from now on always keep a spare needle and thread at work.  🙂

Birthday Dress

Anyway, here’s some flat shots:

Birthday Dress

Birthday Dress

Birthday Dress

Rather than try and attach the lining to the back kick pleat, which I always struggle with, I just cut it off above the opening.

Birthday Dress

Here you can really see the detail in the fabric.  I just love it.

Birthday Dress

Birthday Dress

Aside from my too tight dress drama, I had a wonderful birthday.  Look at this cute card one of my co-workers gave me!  Kinda want to copy that dress.  😉


I also got to stop by Mood earlier in the week.  I was in LA for a day, and was able to squeeze in a quick fabric shopping trip.  Here’s my birthday presents to myself.  From top to bottom: a navy and white striped ponte knit; a polka dot ITY knit; a deep teal green cotton (I know, it looks black); some white shirting cotton, and black wool for a suit jacket.


Now I just have to decide which one I want to sew up first. . . .


Completed: Rose Truffle Dress

I was in the mood for a quick, instant gratification kind of sewing project.  So I turned to my tried and true Truffle pattern.  Since I’ve made the this pattern so many times, I thought I’d knock out in a few days.  But sometimes things don’t turn out like you plan.

Anyway, without further adieu – here’s my Rose Truffle:
Rose Truffle

On this version I raised the neckline, moved the zipper to the side, lengthened the skirt, and of course went ruffle-less.  I also fully lined the dress, and drafted neck facings.

Rose Truffle
I moved the zip to the side so I wouldn’t have to match the fabric on a center back seam.  I also just like how side zips look.
Rose Truffle
I handpicked the zipper again, which has become my go-to method.  This time I added light interfacing to the seam allowance before installing the zip and I think it gives the lap more structure, and it sits more smoothly.
Rose Dress Details
Rose Dress Details
As for the lining, I finished the edge of the facings with a hong kong finish, in a contrasting color.  This is my favorite detail of this dress.
Rose Dress Details
As usual, the Truffle pattern didn’t let me down, and I’m really happy with this version!
Rose Truffle
More details:

Rose Dress Details


Rose Dress Details


Rose Dress Details

Rose Dress Details

Lining. (Those are sun spots btw, and not a problem with the fabric.)

Rose Dress Details

Rose Dress Details

And in case you’re thinking I only sew Truffles, I swear, I’m working on a different dress pattern right now!  🙂

Modifying the Truffle Dress

I promised I’d post about how I modified my latest version of the Truffle dress.  I made several changes, including: (1) raising the neckline, (2) changing the the shape of the skirt, (3) adding a waistband, and (4) changing the darts on the skirt front.

Truffle Collage

Modified                                                                 Original Pattern (but without front drape)

I also drafted facings and installed a full lining, but I think that deserves it’s own post, and I didn’t take any pictures of the construction process.  😦  So more on that another day.  For now, I’ll outline how I went about each of the four changes below.  But with the caveat that I don’t really know what I’m doing here, and this may not be the “right” way to do things. 🙂  I follow the “if it works, it’s right” school of thought.  So this is what worked for me.

Raising the Neckline

This was simple.  I decided I wanted the neckline to be higher than the original pattern.  I simply took my pattern, marked a point above the center front, and used a curved ruler to draw the new line.  I made sure the first 1/2″ of the new line was at a 90 degree angle to the center front.  I did this to prevent my neckline from getting a v-shape. Here’s what my pattern looked like. The red line was the original neckline.

IMGP4601 copy

*Note – I retrace my pattern pieces when I make design changes.  That way I can always go back to my earlier versions if I want to.  I get my tracing paper at the art supply store.  It comes in a big wide roll, is inexpensive, and lasts me a long time.

Straightening the skirt

I wanted a straighter skirt, so I measured down to the fullest part of my hips, and then drew in new side seams.  Here’s a (not to scale) illustration of what I did.  The red line became the new cutting line. (I did this to both front and back skirt pieces.)


I also lengthened the skirt by about 2 inches.  Since the skirt didn’t have as much walking ease, I added a back vent by following Sunni’s tutorials.

Adding a Waistband

I didn’t want to belt my holiday dress, but still wanted a defined waist.  A built-in waistband seemed to be the answer.  I thought a 1 inch waistband would be about right.

First, I drew a cutting line 1 5/8″ from the bottom edge of my pattern.  You could make a wider waistband, just make sure to include the 5/8 seam allowance in your measurement.

Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments

I cut along the red line.
Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments

Then on the waistband piece, I closed the dart legs. I cut on the green line on the left and lined it up with the blue line on the right, and taped it together.
Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments
Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments

Then I smoothed out the top, and I added a 5/8″ seam allowance to the top of the waistband piece AND the bottom of the bodice piece.  (Hint:  Mark which side of your waistband piece is the top, to avoid confusion later.)
Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments

This is what my actual pattern pieces look like:
Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments

I did the same thing for the back bodice pieces.  When I constructed the dress, I sewed the bodice darts, then sewed the waistband to the bodice pieces.  Then I constructed the rest of the dress according to the pattern instructions.

Adding Two Darts to Skirt Front

I got this idea from the pencil skirt pattern in Gertie’s book.  I love how those double darts look.  Also when I was searching for inspiration for my holiday dress, I saw a lot of vintage dresses with double darts or pleats.

I knew I didn’t want to just add a second dart because the skirt might get too tight.  I thought of dividing the original dart in two, but I was worried the darts would be too small.  (Although it probably would have worked fine.)  So I decided to add a little ease into the skirt front, so I could then pinch it back out in the new dart.

First I marked the seam allowance on my front skirt piece.  Then I drew a vertical line to the right of the original dart, where I wanted my second dart to be.

I slashed through the purple line, all the way to the bottom, but left a little hinge.
Then I spread the pattern open just a little bit and taped it.  I added 1/4 inch (measuring at the seam line.)
Next I drew in my new dart legs.  I wanted the new dart to be longer than the original, so I marked the dart point 1/2 inch below where the original one was marked.  I made the dart 5/8 inch wide, measuring at the seam line.
Then I re-drew the dart legs on the original dart, so that the dart was also 5/8″ wide (at the seam line).

My math skills aren’t great, but this is what i figured out:  the original dart width was 1 inch (measured at the seam line).  I added 1/4 inch by slashing and spreading.  Then I divided the total dart amount in half, and made two 5/8 inch wide darts.

Here’s my actual pattern piece:

Holiday Truffle Pattern Adjustments

I really love the result!

Holiday Truffle

So, there you have it. I have really enjoyed customizing this pattern, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time. I’m already plotting a version with princess seams!

Completed: Holiday Truffle

With the upcoming holiday party season, I decided a holiday dress was in order.  Here’s my completed holiday version of the truffle dress.  This is officially Truffle #4 for me.  I might be a truffle addict!

For this make, I altered the pattern even further. I raised the neckline, added a waistband, and made double darts on the skirt front.

Holiday Truffle

Holiday Truffle

I made this with some inexpensive brocade. My ideas was to make this quickly and not put in too much effort. But then the perfectionist in me couldn’t stop from lining it, and doing my usual amounts of hand sewing. I like the end result because it feels like a party dress, but now I wish I would have used better quality fabric. It’s already snagged in a few places, and I honestly don’t think this dress will hold up for the long run.  So sad.

Holiday Truffle

Holiday Truffle

Dart detail

The insides:

Holiday Truffle
Holiday Truffle

Holiday Truffle

Hmm, my embroidered tag almost disappeared into the print.

I did another hand-picked lapped zipper too. It’s official, I think I may do all my zippers this way forever.
Holiday Truffle

Stay tuned, I’ll be posting more about how I made my modifications soon!  And, yep, I think it’s time to admit that I’m definitely a Truffle addict.  🙂

Holiday Truffle

Completed: Colette Truffle #3

Long time, no posts and no finished projects.  But that’s changing now.  I’ve finally got a new dress to show off!  🙂

Here’s my latest version of the Truffle dress:


Okay, so you may be thinking it doesn’t look much like the Truffle dress.  I know.  I made some changes to the pattern.  I left off the front drape, like my previous versions.  Then I redrafted the skirt to be straight, and added a vent at the back.

I really like this pattern, I think it’s pretty versatile and for me, it was easy to fit. (Waaay easier than the Peony for sure! I’m still tweaking my muslin on that one.)  I’d recommend the Colette Sewing Handbook, just for this pattern alone.  Anyway, here are some more details:

The main fabric is just cheap poly, but I love the print.  It also has a slightly slubby texture that makes it look fancier than it really is.  I was careful to cut it out so that the black leaves  fell on one side of the dress.



It’s fully lined (in Ambiance Bemberg Rayon)

There’s a lot of hand stitching on this dress.  I did a hand-picked (or prickstitched) lapped zipper.  (This was my second go at this technique, and I really like it!)  And I slipstitched the lining to the zipper.

I also added an embroidered label, and understitched my neckline and armholes by hand.

I sewed a vent for the first time too!  I drafted and sewed this according to Sunni’s tutorials.

I started this dress ages ago, and finally finished it up over the weekend.  I must say, I love it!  Only wish I had finished it sooner.

Truffle 3.1