Disclaimer: the only tiger in this post is the ceramic one in the picture below.

Burda 102-06-2014

Burda’s June 2014 issue had a great story on Japanese-inspired styles. This is model 104, a very simple jersey dress with a twist detail on the body and sleeves. I can’t see anything particularly Japanese about it, but suspect the starting point may have been the Japanese Pattern Magic books which contain a top with a similar body twist.

Burda 104-06-2014 technical drawing

December probably wasn’t the best month to make this. The neckline is wide – only just covering bra straps – and low at the back. I have been mostly wearing the dress over a long sleeved t-shirt and thick tights! Which works OK, but it looks better like this.

Burda 102-06-2014 front view

It’s made from a very elastic doubleknit fabric. It’s mainly viscose. I don’t remember the exact composition but there must be some lycra in there too as it’s got great recovery.

I added little single welt pockets to the front. I was nervous about making those in a knit but they came out well. Time spent making pockets is never regretted afterwards in my experience, but my goodness it slows a project down. This is a very simple dress to sew and adding the pockets more than doubled the time taken.

The back view is super-plain although I think the neckline and twist just save it from coffin back syndrome.

Burda 102-06-2014 back view

It’s slightly fussy to wear. The twist has a tendency to straighten itself out and then it looks like the side seams are crooked. Burda’s garment photo has this problem too so it’s not just my version! I suppose I could take it in a little to try to make it stay put but I think that might end with it becoming uncomfortable. I wore it quite a lot over the Christmas break despite all this so I’m calling it a qualified success. I doubt I’ll make it another but this one has a place in my wardrobe.

Thanks for all the suggestions about a belt for the Jedi dress. There’s a clear majority in favour of metallic so I’m going with that. Janene came up the great idea of making one out of metallic pleather and it just so happens that I have some silver pleather scraps over from another project – here’s hoping there’s enough left!


Vogue 8512 side view
I’m getting the Star Wars thing out of the way in the title, because there’s no denying this dress is something a Jedi would wear. It’s not just my version though: look at the envelope art below. All the girl in brown needs is a lightsaber to hang off her utility belt. And I can see Princess Leia in the white outfit although obviously she’d have some amazingly elaborate hairdo to go with it.

Vogue 8512 envelope art

Anyway. This is Vogue 8512, a pattern from the Very Easy range that I was given for Christmas when I first started sewing. I don’t think it stayed in print very long; there are only two reviews on Pattern Review which implies it wasn’t particularly popular. It certainly is a simple pattern in its original form: kimono sleeves so nothing to set in, princess seams for easy fitting, and there are only four pattern pieces to worry about as the lining is cut from the same pieces as the dress. The pattern has a zip down the centre back but it’s not needed if you use a fabric with any stretch. I made it up in dark grey doubleknit when I first got it and skipped the lining, substituting a facing around the neck. I never managed to get the neck to stand up as well as the one in the envelope picture though. This was way before the blog but there are some murky photos of that version here and here.

Recently I was going through my stash trying to reduce it a little and found some mocha ponte double knit. I had a plan for it when I bought it, but life moves on and the dress I’d originally intended won’t work for me any more. So I went looking for an alternative pattern with long sleeves, pockets, and a skirt I can cycle in. Nothing completely fit the bill, but Vogue 8512 looked easy enough to alter. I traced it again and altered the pattern to have large pockets in the princess panel. I also extended the sleeves to full length. I then made separate pattern pieces for a lining with facings of the body fabric around the neck, rather than simply reusing the body pieces for the lining.

Vogue 8512 front view

I was also determined to make that boat neck look like the one on the envelope. I interfaced the neck area with some knit fusible, but that didn’t look like it would give enough shape so I also attached two layers of poly organza to the wrong side of the facings before sewing them to the dress. This was not a scientific process: I tore a couple of rectangular strips of approximately the depth of the facing and basted them along the neck seam, letting the bottom edge of the organza hang free. It seems to have worked: the collar stands up on its own. I honestly did not adjust it at all for the photos, and it was a windy day when we took them.

There’s a back zip in this version because despite using a stretch lining (The Lining Company’s stretch poly satin) I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get into it without. It turns out there was no need to bother. But it’s a good invisible zip insertion.

Vogue 8512 back view

The lining was bagged: I’m proud to say there isn’t a stitch of hand sewing in this dress. I didn’t make a perfect job of it; the lining tends to pull on the lower hem a little, hence some of the strange shapes in the pictures above. The sleeve hems don’t seem to have the same problem. But now I’ve figured out the process I’ll do a better job next time.

Although this is certainly a practical dress and I’m going to wear it, styling it is a challenge. It definitely needs a belt. The one above is the best out of the ones I already have, but I think it needs something slightly different so I’m looking for a new one. Right now I’m wavering between canvas webbing or full-on metallic. Suggestions welcome!


Vogue 1417 trousers

I bought Vogue 1417 for the caped top I blogged about a few weeks ago, but there’s also a trouser pattern in the envelope. And being in need of more trousers I thought I’d give it a go.

This pattern is not my usual style. I normally wear skinny trousers and these are more than roomy. They also have an uncomfortable resemblance to tracksuit bottoms. However they have pockets and looked like a quick sew with little or no fitting required so worth a try.

Vogue 1417 view b line art

I made these up in a polyester double knit from Tissu Fabrics. The pattern is designed for ‘moderate stretch knits’. I think these would be great in a wool double knit if I could find such a thing – polyester isn’t the warmest thing to wear in the winter. I’m unconvinced by the pattern envelope suggestion of cotton knit. In my experience 100% cotton knit goes baggy as soon as you look at it. Maybe one with some lycra in would work.

The pattern runs enormously large. With a Vogue pattern I normally go down one size from what the size chart tells me to make. For this one I went down two sizes after checking the flat pattern measurements, and they still sit a little below where they should on the waist. Good length though. I added my usual two inches to the length. They look a bit long here because I’m wearing them over boots rather than heels, but they’ve come up similar in length to the ones in the pattern photo.

I think the most interesting feature of these is the very deep front pleats. All of that fancy back seaming might as well not be there if you make them in black. I can’t see it at all in the pictures, nor do I notice it when putting them on or washing them.

Vogue 1417 back view

I love the pockets. The pocket bag is made of lining fabric to reduce bulk. They are nice and deep, and constructed in a clever way that reinforces the opening edge and gives a very clean finish inside.

Vogue 1417 side view

These have been getting a lot of wear since I made them. They come out at least once a week because they’re comfortable and practical. However I still wonder if they’re too casual for work. (This is ‘too casual’ purely in my own eyes. There is no dress code whatsoever.) So this is a strange pattern that I’m wearing to death but I doubt I’ll make again. At least not unless I find some wool doubleknit.


A while ago I muttered something about some day reporting on the wearability of some of the more unusual designs I’ve made. And as we’ve been unable to photograph any new makes for the blog for a couple of weeks it seems like a good time for that post. I’m going to concentrate on trousers this time around and have picked out three patterns I’ve made in the last 12 months.

The clear winner in the wearability stakes is a surprise: my Burda wrap trousers. This is style 120-112-2013 made up in black satin-backed crepe. I made these in September and they come out at least once a week despite being slightly too large. I think the thing that works so well about these is that they’re unusual enough that they give the impression I’ve made an effort. In practice though they’re just as easy to wear as jeans.

Burda 120-11-2013 front

Second place goes to my neoprene Vogue 1378 skinny trousers. The big problem with these is that they lack pockets and so are not a lot of use for wearing to work. In addition the fit is not perfect: I could do with making the back rise higher. But recently these have starting getting a lot of wear because they are warm and almost entirely waterproof. I need to look out for more of the thin neoprene I made them out of! If I’d made these in a doubleknit I doubt they’d be such favourites.

Vogue 1378

The pair that have barely left the wardrobe are the Apple Peel leggings from Pattern Magic. They’re neither good trousers nor good leggings: too form-fitting to be worn alone, but they don’t work under skirts or dresses either. They also require frequent adjusting! They were a fun experiment but definitely not a wardrobe workhorse.

Apple Peel Leggings front view


Jade skirt front view

This is the Jade skirt from Paprika Patterns. I made it a couple of weeks ago but getting photos has been surprisingly difficult! But before I go on a disclosure: I was given the pattern for free to review, although I paid for my own printing and fabric. I agreed to review it because it’s something I’d definitely have made if it had turned up in Burda or Vogue…but somehow I can’t imagine Vogue producing this.

Jade is a PDF pattern. You get both large format and tiled versions in the package. I used the large format one as there’s a copy shop around the corner from my work, so I can’t say how easy it is to assemble. I have assembled precisely one (very simple) tiled PDF pattern and intend never to repeat the experience!

One interesting feature of this pattern that I wish every pattern house would copy: it has a version number. If an updated version should ever be released it will be possible to tell which one you currently have and if you should go and download an update.

There are two views to choose from: a mini and a longer length which has one extra pair of pleats. You can also optionally add an exposed zip. I am 5’10” and made the longer view without the zip. This is a good length on me; I certainly wouldn’t want it shorter. The pleats make the front pattern piece tricky to alter for length. There’s an explanation of how to lengthen it on the Paprika Patterns site, but I think the inclusion of the two views is a helpful feature that would allow most people to avoid doing that; you can easily fine-tune the length by altering the side seams to adjust exactly where the skirt sits on the waist.

I made no adjustments to the pattern pieces at all, just cut the closest size to my measurements. It’s a knit skirt with negative ease so needs no serious fitting. The instructions helpfully mention adjusting the side seams just before you attach the waistband, and I think I ended up taking them in at the top at that point.

Jade skirt side view

This is a quick make. I sewed it up in an evening and most of the time was spent on the pleats. The construction for the pleats involves first carefully pinning them all in place, and then sewing them down to an underlayer one by one. This often involved removing and replacing pins. It leads to a pleasingly solid front panel with the underlayer keeping the pleats nicely in place, but I found the pinning and unpinning a time-consuming process. If I make this again I shall try pinning and then sewing each pleat in turn as I’ve an idea I might find that easier than pinning the lot at once; also I’d probably drop fewer pins on the carpet. Another thing I’d do if tackling it that way is mark the pleat placement lines on the underlayer fabric. They’re not on the underlayer pattern piece as given, and I certainly managed without them, but I think having them might have made the folding go faster. However this was fun to make despite all that, and the instructions are very clear and detailed. There are also lots of useful extra hints on the website. I’d have had no problem tackling this as a beginner.

I used the same fabric for the shell and lining: a viscose-lycra jersey from Tissu Fabrics. This is medium weight and pretty stretchy. It needs to be: as you can see from the side view, this is a clingy design! The fabric doesn’t have as much recovery as would be ideal for this style and I found the waistband tended to grow during wear, so I’ve added elastic to mine to help with that. I’ve bought this fabric a couple of times now and been very happy with it, but I’ve had feedback from a reader that when she bought the same one she received something rather different from the fabric I’ve got. Mine has a big difference between wrong and right sides for example, and hers does not. So I guess that link may no longer be for the exact same fabric I’m showing here. Pity – it’s so hard to source fabric online at all, and knits are even more difficult.

Jade back view

Here’s a back view. My hem tends to rise up a tiny bit in the middle although it appears to have been sewn straight; I guess I probably should have made the next size up at the hips.

This is an unusual but easy to sew design with really great instructions and support; it’s reminiscent of some of the Pattern Magic styles but far more accessible. I wish it had been around when I was first starting out with knits.


This is the top from Vogue 1417. This style is all about the cape. There’s an interesting knit top pattern under there with an asymmetric hem and unusual seaming, but you’d never know!

Vogue 1417 front view

Here’s the line art. Unfortunately it doesn’t show the seaming. The side seams are on a diagonal so the back piece is much narrower at the bottom than the top. The picture gives an idea of the size of the cape though. The pattern piece is one of the biggest I’ve ever seen.

V1417-2

This was a lot of fun to sew. It’s not terribly difficult or time-consuming but there’s slightly more to it than making a t-shirt. I thought the pattern instructions were unusually good. I followed them almost exactly for once; the only change I made was to add a bit more interfacing around the zip which made it a lot easier to insert. I made this entirely on my regular sewing machine with a narrow zig-zag stitch despite having the overlocker ready to hand. You need a twin needle for the hems but that’s about it for special equipment.

I made it from a viscose-lycra knit from Tissu Fabrics. At the time of writing it’s still available here. This is a lovely fabric. It’s medium-weight and fairly stretchy. It presses very well which was a great help in hemming. The only downside is that there’s a definite wrong side to it which is slightly shinier than the right side.

Vogue 1417 right side

Although it was fun to sew it’s rather a nuisance to wear. The cape tends to get in the way and I find myself pushing it back all the time. That could probably have been predicted from the pattern photo, but I liked the design enough to give it a try. And I’m glad I did because without the cape I think this would make a great top. I’d probably go up a size if making the shell on its own. There are no finished pattern measurements on the tissue and I didn’t take any notes, but it’s very close-fitting.

Vogue 1417 left side

One more picture, because the back view is rather the point of this garment.

Vogue 1417 back view

Despite having complained about the impracticality of this design I’ve actually worn it a few times. It’s no good at all for work but nice for cooler weekends where the cape adds a bit of warmth. I don’t think it’s ever going to be a favourite garment, but I’ll definitely revisit the pattern in future.


Vogue 8866 grey top

I’m getting my money’s worth out of Vogue 8866. It’s a wardrobe pattern so you might expect to get multiple makes from it, but I’ve only used two of the five views so far. And those two are so similar they’re really the same pattern: a knit top which can be lengthened into a dress. The grey top below is the most recent incarnation. Previously I’ve done the dress in a sparkly doubleknit and the top in an unusual textured jersey.

This version is made in a scuba knit from Tissu Fabrics. The colour is evocatively described as platinum grey. Sadly they now seem to have sold out of the grey although there are other colours available. It’s fairly heavy weight with good recovery, but not ultra-stretchy. I definitely should have gone up a size on the top this time. You can see quite a bit of wrinkling below.

Vogue 8866 grey front view

The original pattern has got a keyhole opening at the back neckline and the collar closes with hooks and eyes. For this version I replaced all that with a zip in the centre back yoke and collar seam, which I made a complete pig’s ear of, managing to sew over the teeth in a couple of places. Amazingly it looks OK in the pictures but it only unzips about halfway! It was supposed to be an invisible zip but I ended up inserting it with top-stitching like a centred zip because I hadn’t thought the construction through properly in advance.

Vogue 8866 back view

The original pattern has a lot of top-stitching on the decorative curved seams. I didn’t bother with that on my previous makes, which were in very textured fabric, but on this one it was worth the effort because it shows up against the smoother surface. You can just about see it on the raglan seams in the picture below.

Vogue 8866 grey closeup

I wasn’t very pleased with this make when I finished it, what with the zip and sizing problems. However it’s grown on me. It’s been worn to work a couple of times which is always a good test, although one of my colleagues did compare it to a wetsuit. I guess I can’t complain too much if the fabric’s called scuba knit.



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