On not making it work

I rarely fail to finish a sewing project. They aren’t all successes by any means but I aim to get them to a state where I can photograph them. This time, not so much.

I was trying to reproduce the Saint Laurent jumpsuit below.

Burda 130-04-2009 seemed like a good starting point: it had the notched collar, close fit, and two piece sleeves. I make a lot of Burda patterns and I’d made a pair of jeans from this very issue which I wear almost once a week, so I was confident about the fit.

I traced the pattern off, armed myself with every photo I could find of the original Saint Laurent garment online and made a list of things to change.

  • Add the crossover front
  • Widen lapels
  • Change side seam pockets to slash pockets
  • Add fake pocket flaps at waist
  • Add back welt pockets
  • Tweak the shoulder line to accommodate shoulder pad
  • Move the darts to line up between bodice and trousers
  • Adjust sleeve length to be 3/4 without cuffs
  • Remove turn-ups and add a very deep trouser hem

That lot turned out to take quite a lot of time and effort. Pattern adjustments are harder than they look. The front closure was more difficult to draft than I expected; it’s a fly front but with a shaped overlap which needs a piece for a facing, and then the shape of the fly guard underneath has to mirror the overlap. But I got there in the end and when I sewed it up, it worked.

And I did nice top stitching on the pockets and flaps.

The first problem was with the back pockets; they’re much too low.

But the real disaster came when I tried the trousers on for fit. They were far, far too small. I let out the side seams as much as I could, but it simply wasn’t enough.

The mistake is mine: I didn’t measure the pattern and assumed that the size I’d used for the very successful jeans from the same issue would be fine because I was using the same stretch denim fabric and both garments are close fitting. But I made the jeans during an illness where I lost weight, and I can only assume they stretched out as I recovered and carried on wearing them. That or Burda’s drafting is off on one or both patterns, but that seems unlikely.

With the trousers completely the wrong size there didn’t seem any point sewing up the bodice; I’d never fit into it. And after putting so much time into adapting the pattern in the first I couldn’t face attempting to grade it up and try again.

So this time I’m giving up. Instead I’m making a Vogue jumpsuit where there are finished garment measurements on the pattern and I don’t need to adapt anything other than the length. It’s nothing like the inspiration garment, but I hope it will at least scratch the itch for a slightly dressy jumpsuit.

24 thoughts on “On not making it work

  1. Oh that’s so disappointing. Burda hasn’t yet let me done that badly. Yet. I’m not very confident about the future though. Not at all
    Impressed with how the 2023 issues are shaping up

    1. I really should have double checked the pattern…I’m so used to Burda Just Working for me though. I have found a few things I liked in 2023 but not a lot. My feeling is it’s improved since the content director Rashana Jennings came back; I nearly cancelled altogether before that.

      1. Perhaps I should take a look at the new issues of Burda. I haven’t bought many for a while – there were a lot of repeat, and I couldn’t see anything that interested me. Like the concept of your jumpsuit, pity it didn’t turn out well.

      2. Oh goodness yes, mixing the plus sizes in was a good idea in principle, but they seem to have used it as cover for reducing the range, which is just wrong.

  2. Amazing topstitching!!!!! The style is very ‘YOU’ and I wish it had turned out better for you. So disappointing …would have taken my sewjo away for weeks!!!!

  3. A good attempt, but I totally understand the moment when the decision is made to shelve the idea. I ran into that with some denim that I used to make a modified pair of pants from the Burnside Bibs pattern. The alteration went well, the pants came out great BUT that denim bled like crazy and there was absolutely nothing I could do to set the dye. I tried every trick in the book and still at the end of the day when I took the pants off, I had blue stained legs. I had another cut of cloth from the same line, so I never bothered to cut it out, just donated it and hopefully someone can do something with it.

    I take the same approach to gardening. If a plant doesn’t perform, it’s outta here!

  4. Looking at your inspiration photo I think you could have probably cropped a jacket pattern to make the top half of the jumpsuit but I know you don’t want to go there again and I totally understand that pattern alterations sound great in theory yet are much harder in practice 😔

    1. Yes, it occurred to me too late that I made a Burda trench coat a few years ago that would have been a better starting point for the sleeves and lapels. Too late!

  5. Hmm, my post seems to have disappeared into the void… Too bad about the trousers. Does the denim have any stretch to it? The few makes I see on the Russian Burda site mention that the pattern works best in a stretch fabric as the fit is tight. I have been bitten like this by Burda trousers, too–in fact just yesterday I made a muslin using my usual size, and I could barely squeeze into it. I wish they would indicate how much ease each pattern has. I know I can measure the pieces but without anatomical landmarks it’s a guessing game.

    1. It had stretch, but clearly not enough 🙂 it’s a good point about the ease indication, Vogue always mentions it in the pattern description. But then their fabric recommendations are not as good as Burda’s so swings and roundabouts.

  6. That’s such a shame, I would have loved to see you in it. Kudos to you for knowing when to cut and run.

  7. I’m so sorry this didn’t work out for you – it looked like it was going to be brilliant if the fit had worked out. My weight has changed so much over the past few years, I’ve gotten to the point of just measuring all of my patterns and sewing a practice garment (especially for pants, though I usually only test fit the “shorts” part of it where all the complex fitting is, and don’t bother fitting all the leg length unless they are super tight fitting). With Burda I didn’t used to do that because I was so comfortable with their fit ranges, but now I feel like I really don’t have a good sense of what size I need in any of the pattern brands, so I find myself measuring everything. Hopefully your next project comes out more successful – I’m excited to see what your Vogue jumpsuit looks like!

    1. One thing I love about Vogue is that all the finished garment measurements are on the tissue, no need to measure anything. Even better I just bought one of the 2023 Spring collection, which only hit the UK last week, and they were on the back of the envelope so I haven’t even had to unfold the pattern yet. I hope they keep that up.

  8. So disappointing! I can totally see you in that jumpsuit. But I can see not continuing when the fit is wrong. Fantastic and awesome topstitching!

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