This is a slightly different type of post to normal. Molly from Toferet’s Empty Bobbin tagged me in the Writing Process Blog Tour that’s doing the rounds. I’ve really enjoyed reading other people’s answers to this one. You can see Molly’s post here. And check out the rest of her blog; she has a good line in thoughtful criticism of the sewing world.

What am I working on now?

Right now I’m working on a top from Vogue 8866 – a practical knit top with long sleeves and a high neck.

Vogue 8866 line art

And I’m also trying to organise my thoughts on colour-blocking into a blog post. The October 2014 issue of Burda has the same pattern made up twice in different colour blocked schemes. One looks great and the other very much does not. I’d like to understand what made the difference because I have a DKNY colour block pattern in my sewing queue.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

I’m aiming for a modernist and slightly androgynous style. I am attracted to experimental patterns, such as my Burda wrap trousers and Drape Drape sack dress.

Drape Drape 2 No 7

I own this Ninja turtle coat pattern and dream of making it up!

Vogue 1332 envelope photo

Why do I write what I do?

At the moment, three reasons.

It started as a way of giving something back. When I started sewing garments I learnt how to do it from a combination of Wendy Mullin’s book Sew U and looking things up on the Internet. The first blog I found was A Dress A Day. From there I discovered Pattern Review and from that the wider sewing blog community. I get so much out of reading other people’s blogs that I wanted to return the favour. You don’t need to be a sewing expert to write a useful review of a pattern you’ve made up.

I then started to find that the blog acted as a useful record of my sewing projects. I often go back to my old posts to remind myself how I did something.

Finally, writing a blog post almost inevitably means taking photos (or rather, getting my very patient husband to take photos). There’s nothing like seeing photos of an outfit to show what does and doesn’t work. So in a roundabout way blogging helps me get dressed swiftly in the mornings.

How does my writing process work?

I find it’s easier to compose a post by putting the pictures in first and then writing text around them than by starting with the words, so I generally don’t start writing until I’ve finished a garment and got photographs of it being worn. I normally only take process photos when I’m using a technique that’s new to me or doing something different to what the pattern recommends, hence the general lack of process posts.

I aim to post once a week, but that’s achieved by not posting more than once a week even if I could, rather than by having a fixed schedule for writing posts.

So that’s it from me. I’d like to nominate SewingElle from He Cooks…She Sews! next. She has a great sharp and modern style.


Burda 130-09-2011 front closeup

So I made a jumpsuit. This is Burda 130-09-2011, which in the magazine looked like this:

Burda 130-09-2011 magazine photo

Mine is considerably less glamorous. I suppose I could have styled it with heels, but that wasn’t really practical for taking photos by the lake. And it does feel more like a garment that should be paired with a headscarf, or possibly goggles and a biplane. I’ll spare you the pictures of me trying and failing to do the classic Rosie the Riveter pose though.

This is made from a very silky cupro twill from Maculloch and Wallis. It looks like sandwashed silk. At the time of writing it’s available here in a few different colours. It feels beautiful, but it’s an odd fabric to sew with. It marks if you so much as look at it. I started out being very careful and pressing it only on the wrong side, and rapidly gave up on that because the iron marked it no matter what I did. But the funny thing is that all the marks vanished after a day or two. I’d just about resigned myself to them and now I can’t see them at all.

I used a blue tip size 70 needle to sew it, and even changed the overlocker needles to size 70 to match. I also used a lot of lightweight interfacing. The pattern has you interface the waistband and the seam allowances around the side zip, but I also interfaced the self facings and the pocket edges. That helped with getting nice sharp edges and I think it made the very wide top stitching around the facings easier to do.

Burda 130-09-2011 front full length

This is a regular-sized pattern. It runs fairly true to size. I made my normal length adjustments but that was all. By the way, when cutting this one out watch out for the hem allowances! Burda magazine patterns normally have neither seam nor hem allowances included. This one has the hem allowances included but no seam allowances. It sounds insane, but makes a certain amount of sense given that you’re supposed to make turn ups of a particular size at the wrists and ankles. I didn’t bother and just rolled them up. Once I’ve figured out how long I want the legs and arms to be I may sew them in place, but they seem to behave OK as they are.

The back bodice pleat is a nice design feature, but is entirely non-functional as it’s stitched shut along the whole length. I could do with a little extra room in the back so I might unpick that.

Burda 130-09-2011 back view

The sleeves are interesting. The shoulder is very extended and has a small pleat at the top which gives it an unusual shape. There isn’t a lot of sleeve cap but you do still have to set them in.

Burda 130-09-2011 side view

This was definitely a pattern where I needed to follow the instructions carefully. There were a couple of steps where they seemed to make very little sense, but if you do exactly what Burda says it does all work out in the end. The construction of the pleats and front facings is particularly pleasing because you end up with a very clean finish inside and the facings all firmly top stitched in place.

For a garment that claims to have a relaxed fit, it’s not an entirely fuss-free wear. I find myself adjusting the bodice quite a bit. I haven’t actually worn this out of the house yet other than for these photos. But it’s going to the pub tonight and I might try it at work next week. At some point I will definitely report back on the wearability of all these Burda patterns.

Burda 130-09-2011 side view closeup


Burda 120-11-2013 top half

Is it a skirt? Is it trousers? No, it’s Burda 120-11-2013!

Burda 120-11-2013 front

Burda describes these variously as crossover trousers and wrap trousers. I’m not sure what I’d call them, but I like them. They are made from a satin-backed crepe I’ve had lurking in my stash for a while. It was originally intended for an impractical Pamela Rolland designer dress that I never got around to making. These, err, lower body coverings are a much better use for it.

This is a Tall pattern and it really is one for the long of leg. I normally have to lengthen Tall patterns, never mind the regular ones, but not these. What you’re seeing here is the length as drafted less about an inch. I could easily have hemmed them shorter still, but I quite like the slouchy effect.

Part of the cause of the extra length is that they’re slightly too big. They are drafted to sit above the natural waist but mine definitely don’t. Another time I’d go down a size at the waist in these. I made what should have been the right size for me but made the mistake of not double-checking the waistband length in the pattern itself. It doesn’t help that the many folds of fabric in the crossover mean there’s a lot of weight hanging off that waistband and pulling it down so you need it to fit closely.

For trousers these are a fairly easy sew. There’s no fly front and the pockets are inseam pockets. I’m finding I get a bit of gapping with the pockets. It doesn’t really matter in practice because there’s so much else going on at the hips with these, but I notice that in the magazine photo the model has her hands in the pockets so perhaps it’s the pattern. You can see the gapping in the side view below.

Burda 120-11-2013 side view

The back is completely plain. Normally I think it looks a bit odd not to have back pockets on trousers, but with these it doesn’t bother me, probably because they are such an unusual shape.

Burda 120-11-2013 back view

The closure is just a couple of snaps. I wasn’t convinced that a snap would be secure enough to hold these up so I switched the outer snap to a hefty trouser hook and bar. Under the wrap section there’s a narrow slot in the right front so you can get in and out of them. I was deeply unconvinced by Burda’s directions for the slot: the pattern has you cut down the centre line of the slot and across at the ends, and then turn the edges of the cut under and stitch them down. That leaves the end of the slot completely unfinished. The end is where the maximum stress is; I can’t see that lasting long without tearing! I faced my slot instead and also interfaced the shell fabric in that area so it ended up looking like this.

Wrong side (before top-stitching):

Faced slot wrong side

Right side:

Faced slot right side

So how do these wear? So far, surprisingly well. They can do some strange things when you sit down, as can be seen below, but they’re really comfortable. The acid test will be whether I can cycle in them which I have yet to try. They’re plenty warm (all that fabric around the hips) so I should get a lot of wear out of them this autumn and winter. In fact strange as they are I can see myself making a second pair at some point.

Burda 120-11-2013 sitting


Apple peel

06Sep14

Apple Peel leggings front view
I made these leggings a couple of weeks ago but have only just got pictures of them. They are the Apple Peel leggings from the Pattern Magic 3 book. Pattern Magic doesn’t provide you with patterns, rather instructions for drafting your own pattern from a block. I drew up a stretch leggings block from Metric Pattern Cutting for Womwn’s Wear and used that as the basis for making the pattern. The rippled effect comes from adding length to the outer leg so that the shape of the leg ends up like this. Hence the name.

Pattern Magic Apple Peel Leggings flat

The style is obviously intended for two-way stretch knit fabrics, but mine are made up in a very stretchy mystery stretch woven fabric which I happened to have on hand. I probably should have used a knit. The draft needs fine tuning to fit my legs and the woven is less forgiving than a knit would have been. As it is, they’re more than a little tight on the calves. They’re also slightly too loose on the thigh to keep the ripples firmly in place there, but I suspect they’d become uncomfortable if I took them in.

Apple Peel Leggings back view

They’re very easy to make up. I did all the sewing on the overlocker in this order: inside leg seam, crotch seam, outside leg seam, waistband, hems.
You can’t see it in the pictures, but the waist is finished with a straight waistband with elastic inside. The waistband folds over to enclose the elastic and then the whole thing is overlocked onto the waist. I didn’t have any wide elastic on hand so I flatlocked two narrower lengths together on the overlocker. That worked well enough from the point of view of making a functional waistband, but unfortunately the flatlocking shows though the waistband fabric so I’m only going to be able to wear these with a top that covers the waistband.

I also used a flatlock stitch to do the hems. This is a finish I hadn’t tried before. I found this tutorial while I was working out how to deal with the elastic, and gave it a go. It worked OK, although being a first attempt and on a very small circumference it’s not perfectly even. However it has stood up to a couple of wears, and I wasn’t confident a twin needle hem would have lasted beyond the first try on. I’ll definitely use the technique again.

Apple Peel Leggings front view


Jumpsuits

30Aug14

After making four knit dresses in a row I finally feel like tackling a woven project. I am also still in need of interesting clothes that I can cycle in. I’ve been gradually improving my cycle friendly wardrobe over the last year, but I find myself wearing my Burda jeans a minimum of once a week. And then I need tops to go with them. Putting on a dress involves so much less thought than finding separates that go together.

Clearly the answer has to be a jumpsuit. All the convenience of trousers with the simplicity of a dress. Surely that makes up for the aggravation of having to take it off when going to the toilet.

So I went looking for patterns. This is the one that first caught my eye, from Burda April 2014.

burda 107-04-2014 tech drawing

I like the fact that it’s fairly smart, but that notched collar looks complicated. I’ve never made one, and tackling it for the first time with only Burda instructions for help probably isn’t going to produce a polished result.

Then there’s this one from Ralph Pink.

Ralph Pink jumpsuit tech drawing

I’ve seen a great version of this from Kazz the Spazz (sadly no longer blogging). I really like the style (click on the link, Kazz looks amazing in hers) but I’ll admit that the fact it’s a PDF pattern puts me off. I don’t mind tracing at all but I hate assembling A4 sheets.

I’m also not convinced I could do a good enough job with the fly on this one. The instructions say something brief at the end along the lines of ‘attach buttons and work buttonholes in your fly to match’. I’m not sure it works to wait until the very end to make buttonholes in a fly; wouldn’t you want to do it before the whole thing was assembled? Kazz left her buttons off altogether but I’d be worried about the whole thing falling open if I did that! I think this might be a pattern to leave until I’ve got some more experience.

Burda have produced many jumpsuit patterns over the last few years.

burda-103-10-2010 tech drawing

This is Burda 103-10-2010. It looked considerably less boxy in the model photo where it was made up in grey silk and worn with a belt. I think I’d take off the breast pockets. Who needs pockets right over their boobs?

burda-119-05-2010 tech drawing

And this is 119-05-2010. I like the elasticated ankles. This was styled as a safari look in the magazine. I think this one needs the pocket flaps to make the style work, but I’m not keen on sewing fiddly details that are not functional. Yes, I’m very lazy.

And finally the one I’m actually planning to make, Burda 130-09-2011.

burda-130-09-2011 tech drawing

I like the casual drapiness of this style and the turnups at the wrists and ankles. There are no really fussy details. It’s not very fitted, which is probably a good thing as I’ve changed shape a bit and will be trying a new size in Burda in future. The plan is to make it up in a brown cupro fabric I have that looks like washed silk. Fingers crossed!


Drape Drape 2 No 6 front view

This is yet another make from the Drape Drape books. This one’s number six from book two, the so-called three-piece deep cowl neck dress. Every version of this I’ve seen made up has been done in stripes to show off the grain changes, and since I found this unusual grey and brown striped knit mine was not going to be the exception.

I thought I’d got my sizing sussed with Drape Drape, but this make has come up too small for me. You can see the tell-tale creases across my stomach in all the pictures. I normally make one size smaller than the size chart indicates, but this time I should have used my true size. My fabric only has cross-grain stretch so I might have got away with it in a two-way stretch fabric. However if I ever make this again I’ll trace it again in the next size up; the pattern pieces are very unusual and I can’t quite see how to adjust the front piece to get extra width without producing a knock-on effect on the cowl.

It’s also astonishingly short. I added two inches to the skirt length before cutting out and haven’t hemmed it.

Drape Drape 2 No 6 side front view

When photographed directly from the front it looks pretty close to the version in the book. When viewed more from the side, as above, there’s a slightly pointy bit where the cowl attaches that I wasn’t expecting. However I’ve seen this in a few other people’s versions around the web so I guess it’s meant to be like that.

This is a slightly tricky pattern to sew. The diagrams are excellent, but the way the cowl is attached is sufficiently unusual that it took me a bit of head-scratching before I worked out which edges to sew to which. Around the back of the neck you sew the wrong side of the cowl to the right side of the dress, which had me confused for a bit, but the cowl part folds in such a way you don’t see the wrong side of it in the finished dress. It helps when attaching the cowl to have a fabric where you can tell the right side from the wrong side in the first place. It would have been even more confusing in a solid.

Drape Drape 2 No 6 back view

The back view is about as plain as you can get. The unhemmed edge is curling up pretty badly in the picture above. The fabric is a single knit so it’s not really a surprise. I don’t want to lose any length by hemming this though, so it’s just going to have to stay like that.

The photos above are how I’ll actually wear the dress, although with boots rather than wedges. However I did have a go with it as styled in the books, below. I won’t be trying this outside the house, even with the help of tape. It might make a nice photo when properly arranged but the cowl doesn’t stay put.

Drape Drape 2 No 6 indoors

So not my most successful Drape Drape make. It will probably get some wear when the weather gets colder.


Drape drape 2 no 7

I’ve been on a bit of a Drape Drape streak lately. After all, if you’re going to rearrange all the furniture in the living room in order to trace and cut the enormous pattern pieces from one of these designs you might as well do another while you’re at it. This is one I’ve made before: the No. 7 Tuck Drape dress from Drape Drape 2. My previous version has been worn a lot but didn’t look much like the version in the book. That was in part because I lengthened it. Here’s the first version.

Drape Drape 2 No. 7

For this version I removed the length I’d added to the skirt but left the extra in the bodice. I also included the splits in the sleeves which I’d sewed shut on the original. The neckline is sagging a bit on this picture because I pulled the shoulders up just before the photo was taken. It prefers to slide off one or the other shoulder in both versions.

Drape drape 2 no 7

The fabric is a 100% cotton interlock knit from Tissu Fabrics. It’s medium weight and not particularly stretchy but very soft. Right now it’s available here. They have this fabric in a huge range of colours. This colourway is called maroon although it’s not what I think of as maroon, which would be more purple.

The fabric is very wide, which is needed for this pattern as originally designed. However when I first made this pattern I split the main piece into three to allow me to use narrow fabric, and this time I cut it the same way again because I find smaller pattern pieces easier to handle. It makes no difference to the end result because the extra seams get hidden in the draping.

Drape drape 2 no 7

I think I folded the tucks correctly this time. Everything matched up beautifully which it hadn’t on the previous one. I can’t blame the book because the diagrams are really clear. I have this one in the Japanese language edition and it’s perfectly usable for someone with no knowledge of the language. It would be nice to be able to read the fabric recommendations for each style but so far I’m managing without.

Drape drape 2 no 7

I have worn this quite a bit since I made it. I’m hoping that once the warm weather stops it will still work with a grey long-sleeved t-shirt and leggings underneath.

And changing the subject completely…after over four years of writing this blog I finally got around to getting a domain name for it. Its official home is now http://blog.cyberdaze.org but http://cyberdaze.wordpress.org will redirect to the right place for the forseeable.

Drape drape 2 no 7




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