Wearing a rectangle: Vogue 1567 skirt

This is not a skirt for fading into the background in. It’s Vogue 1567, a Paco Peralta design from 2017. The original sample was made up in red satin; mine’s plain black cotton poplin, but it still brings the drama while being slightly more practical to wear than satin.

I’ve been feeling uninspired by Burda for the last few months, and Vogue’s new releases haven’t appealed either. But I do have a collection of older Vogues that I’ve never got around to making up, and this is one of them. I wish I’d got to it sooner; it turned out to be a quick and interesting project with a great result. I should say it was only quick because instead of painstakingly binding all the seam allowances according to the instructions I whizzed them through the overlocker instead.

The main feature is the origami pockets. The construction is fun to do and I can report they are actually practical for holding stuff. Nothing slips out when I sit down and they hang fairly well even when loaded. These things are important. And here’s the obligatory ‘if I spread out the pockets my skirt is really a rectangle’ shot.

The picture above also shows off what I think is the one flaw in the pattern: the skirt front is almost completely without shaping. The skirt is very slightly longer than the waistband and supposed to be eased on, but even with that there’s not a lot of stomach room and consequently my version tends to pull up at centre front. It wouldn’t be difficult to add a bit of width and a couple of darts next time though.

The back closes with an invisible zip and a hook and eye, very necessary to take the strain at the top of the zip. I made my usual Vogue size, ie one down from what the chart recommends, and that meant almost no ease in the waistband. However as the skirt is big and heavy and the waistband needs to sit at the natural waist I think that was the right choice. And talking of sizing this one runs really long. I’m 5’10”/175cm tall, I did not lengthen it at all, and the back corners are ankle length on me.

That zip gave me a hard time. I don’t know if it was a different brand to normal but it didn’t feed nicely through my invisible zip foot. I had to rip it out three times before I finally got it inserted without the skirt ending up gathered onto the zip tape. Other than that this was a remarkably painless project.

A slightly better view of the back. I’m wearing it with the top from the same pattern, of which more another time.

I’m quite tempted to make this again in a wool for winter. Thanks to my husband for the photos!

The end at last: Burda 119 10/2012

This is the very last item in my current wardrobe sewing plan, and now I think I’m done with sewing with a plan for a while. It’s Burda 119 10/2012, a close fitting v necked long sleeved top. I chose it because I thought having a layer to go under the summery v necked short sleeved dress might make it wearable into the autumn. I also thought the top might be wearable with jeans. In these photos I’m wearing it with my straight legged black denim trousers from the plan.

Here’s the line art. It’s a very low cut design which means the neckline doesn’t show when worn under the dress. Despite this it stays in place beautifully – no worries about bending forward. The fabric probably helps. It’s John Kaldor Isabella wool/elastane jersey in charcoal. Super stretchy and quite warm, highly recommended. I got mine from Sew Essential but I’ve seen other fabric shops stock it.

Burda 119 10/2012 line art, burdastyle.ru

I made a right mess of tracing and cutting this one. I somehow missed adding the placement marks for the front pieces and ended up guessing where to attach them, getting it completely wrong, and then having to rip out overlocked seams in black thread on black fabric. I also got immensely confused as to which side of the front wrap goes on top. The two fronts are not mirror images – the side that goes underneath isn’t full length. I cut out the larger, top, piece first, suddenly thought that I’d done it the wrong side up, hacked it down to be the under piece and then realised I had been right the first time. I didn’t want to waste fabric by cutting new front pieces so my shirt ended up with the right front on top although Burda’s has the opposite. What threw me is that women’s clothes normally close right over left.

There’s not a lot to see on the back view, but I do like Burda’s technique for the back neckline. It’s finished with a narrow stretch binding strip turned to the inside and top-stitched down, which is something I often see in ready to wear. I’m less keen on the hems. The hem allowance given for the sleeves is 6cm, which was impossible to sew with the machine – I couldn’t reach inside the very narrow sleeve far enough to sew close to the edge without the whole thing getting caught up around the presser foot. I ended up trimming the sleeve hem allowance back quite a bit to avoid hand hemming. I’m not sure what the function of such a deep hem was; I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

While I doubt I’ll wear this on its own much – I don’t want to blind people with the glare from my pasty chest skin – I think it’ll be a useful under layer. But now I’m off to sew less practical and more fun things for a while. Thanks to my husband for taking the photos!

Change of direction

For about the last year I’ve been steadily sewing through a couple of wardrobe plans, with a bunch of pieces designed to mix and match. I rarely wear colour so I’ve been sticking to black, grey, and white so everything goes with everything. A couple of weeks ago I finished the last piece, a fairly plain black v neck top – photos to come – and started thinking about what to do next.

While I’ve made some pieces I really love from the wardrobe plans, the whole mix and match thing isn’t working as well as I expected. I don’t mix my separates up much: for each bottom I know the top that goes with it best, and rarely pair it with anything else. But it is nice not to have wardrobe orphans, so perhaps the solution is to sew outfits rather than whole wardrobes. And that has the advantage that it’s slightly easier to add a bit of colour…and after a year of grey even I’m ready to introduce some variation.

I cautiously set out with Vogue 1567, a Paco Peralta design which comprises a boat neck knit top and a dramatic skirt.

Vogue 1567 line art: a dolman sleeved top and draped skirt

Here’s the result. Dress form photos only because I haven’t had a chance to do modelled ones, but I’m really excited to wear this.

A dressform wearing a blue and black striped top and a long black skirt stands in front of a bookcase

Admittedly the skirt’s black. This is because it’s a huge fabric hog and I already had a suitable length of black poplin in my stash, but I haven’t made a coloured top for…well, I can’t actually remember.

I’m also planning a yellow dress, a green jacket, bright blue trousers. There’s a bit of white in the scheme too because it’s bright. I’m not going too overboard: the blue and green fabrics have been lurking in my stash for years.

Blue, yellow, green and white fabrics on a grey tile floor

We’ll see how long this lasts.

The refinement process

One of my favourite designers is Rick Owens. Unfortunately pieces of his post-apocalyptic vision are seriously expensive to buy, and even the more basic and wearable designs are pricey. One of these basics is a skinny wool knit t shirt with an exposed back seam, a deeply curved raw hem, and extra long sleeves. I made a knockoff of it a couple of years ago and have worn it so much it’s now starting to look a little sad. Here it is when it was just made.

The neckband has stretched and gone wavy since then. I made it too long right from the start and only aggressive steam pressing ever made it sit flat. I’ve also never been 100% happy with the shape of the hem; it’s a little too long. So this is version two, made out of the same John Kaldor Isabella wool jersey as the first one, with a shorter neckband and reshaped hem.

Weirdly it seems to fit better too, but I think that’s because I’ve changed shape rather than any improvement I made to the pattern.

I only made it a couple of weeks ago and have worn it four or five times already so this is a definite win! Thanks to my husband for the photos as always.

Burda 111 06/2021…sort of

This cardigan is what remains of my version of Burda 111 06/2021. The original design’s extended fronts join in a loop and go around the back of the neck. I sewed it up according to the pattern and spent some time figuring out how to make it lie neatly. But it just doesn’t work in the very drapey bamboo jersey I picked; as soon as I move the loop pulls itself into a long skinny tie rather than an elaborate drape, which looks very odd. I also seriously regretted my decision to ignore Burda’s finishing instructions for the edges. Burda says to fold the raw edge under twice, press, and topstitch. I decided life was too short and my fingers too sore for this, and did a twin needle hem instead. But the wrong side shows enough when the loop is draped around the neck that it looks bad: I never managed to trim the inside edge on a twin needle hem completely evenly. In this case I even made some holes by trimming too much and had to darn them. So sorry, Burda, you were right on that one.

After several failed attempts to fix the messy drape in place by connecting its edge around the neckline I gave up and picked up the shears on the grounds that I couldn’t make it any less wearable than it already was. I cut the loop apart by cutting out the original joining seam. This was not only therapeutic, I like what I’ve ended up with even though it’s very different to the garment I imagined.

This is how skinny that draped section goes when hanging in the bamboo; it’s meant to cover half the chest.

Burda’s instructions say to use ‘fine jersey’ . I’d interpret that as something slinky – hence the bamboo – but I think what’s actually needed is fabric with sufficient body to not collapse under its own weight. Cotton jersey without any elastane might do, or a ponte. I’m not sure what Burda used, but in the model photo it looks quite heavyweight.

Burda 111 6/2021 model photo, burdastyle.ru

The pattern has a hook and eye at the front so instead of tying the fronts they can hang loose and still provide a bit of coverage. I’m surprised to find I like it styled this way. The shape is interesting. And there’s always the option to tie the fronts up if I suddenly have to climb a ladder or something.

The back view is completely plain and the back is not at all fitted. I found it looked sloppy on me with the original loop arrangement, but oddly seems better with the fronts loose. Perhaps the weight of the fronts dragging down draws it closer in to the body.

This was made as part of my current wardrobe plan, so I’m wearing it with the trousers and crew necked t shirt (not yet blogged) from the plan. Thanks to my husband for the photos.

Closet Core Patterns Blanca Flight Suit modelled photos

A woman in a black jumpsuit and yellow trainers leans against a bench

I posted about this jumpsuit last week but now I have photos of it on me, thanks to my husband, and it’s always easier to talk about fit when there are pictures to look at. This is Closet Core Patterns’ Blanca Flight Suit. I normally stick to Burda and Vogue patterns, with occasional diversions to Style Arc, but I had a clear idea of the sort of jumpsuit I wanted to make and even with ten years of Burda back issues I couldn’t find one with all the right details. Blanca had everything I was looking for, so I decided to risk an unfamiliar block and sizing system, and sprung for the paper pattern. Here’s the line art:

Technical drawing of a  jumpsuit  with various sleeve and arm options
Blanca flight suit line art, closetcorepatterns.com

It comes with several options to change the look up a bit, although nothing radical: short or long sleeves, two belt versions, two breast pocket versions, optional tabs for tapering the leg and optional press studs for tapering the arm. I added the optional tabs and press studs on mine and did the breast pockets with zips, the buckle belt, and the long sleeve. A jumpsuit is a big project so I wanted to be able to wear it a few different ways. Below is with wide sleeves and trouser legs.

A woman in a black jumpsuit and yellow trainers sits on a bench

I think one of the cleverest features about this is the back. There are top stitched pleats to give a little interest and extra reaching room. And it does need it: this is designed to be fairly snug, especially on the hips. (Excuse the keys in the pockets in the picture below).

Now obviously it would have been sensible to make a toile before diving into a big project with a pattern company I’d not tried before, especially as they have their own sizing system. But my sewing time is limited, so instead I carefully consulted the very detailed table of finished garment measurements provided to choose a size and decide on adjustments.

I ended up making the sizes my body measurements put me in (sizes plural because I am more pear shaped than the Closet Core block) but that was because my fabric is slightly stretchy; it’s Empress Mills’ 7.5oz premium denim. I added 5cm length to the bodice and sleeves, and 6cm to the leg. The body length has come out fine overall but the waistband is lower than I expected; definitely below my natural waist. And I wouldn’t want the legs any shorter.

I was slightly surprised by quite how close fitting it turned out. I knew there wasn’t any ease at the hip, but from reviews I’d read I’d expected the bodice to be more blousey. It’s not a bad thing, but I’m still debating if I can safely wear it to work. And if I made this again in a nonstretch fabric I’d size up one. As it is, it requires a slight wriggle to get on but once there it’s comfortable.

Here it is with tapered arms and legs. I wasn’t expecting to like this look as much as the wider option but in fact I think it works.

Despite the sizing surprise I’m very happy with the way it’s come out. I even found myself browsing the Empress Mills denim section to see if any of the other colours the fabric comes in caught my eye for a second version. But as I’m still slogging my way through my wardrobe sewing plan, that’s going to have to wait a while.

All the hardware: Closet Core Blanca flight suit

This is the Blanca flight suit from Closet Core Patterns. It wasn’t on my original wardrobe sewing plan, but it fits in well with the other pieces. And I wanted a project that would make use of one of my birthday presents: a hand press. This gadget makes installing press studs (or rivets, or grommets) absolutely painless. Each type of hardware needs a different set of dies which screw into the press, but once they’re on, installing hardware takes seconds and requires very little strength. No more loud hammering noises, and it sets the studs perfectly straight every time. The only problem is that it’s so simple it’s all too easy to get overconfident and install a press stud on the wrong side of the garment. Luckily there were no disasters on this project.

Blanca has press studs on the sleeves which can be used to turn the wide sleeve into a tapered one.

And tabs on the ankles which can be used to taper the leg. The pattern calls for buttonholes and buttons here but I wanted to keep things consistent, so more press studs.

It’s a very well thought out pattern with a lot of options. I went for all the bling with the zipped breast pockets and the buckle belt.

I struggled a bit with the zips on the pockets and my topstitching is distinctly wobbly. I probably would have done better with lighter weight zips. But these were a good match for the teeth on the centre front zip.

It took me a lot of searching to find the buckle. Once I figured out the right search term (surcingle, if like me you didn’t know) they’re plentiful on eBay. They seem to mainly be used for horse blankets of all things.

I was complaining about my inability to sew good belt loops the other week. These ones aren’t bad. I made them as flat as I could with the folding in three method, and kept the turn under short. I didn’t hammer them but pressed them as hard as I could before sewing them on. Still not perfect, but better than the last lot.

There’s just one thing I’d like to change about the pattern, but I’m not sure how. The underlap for the front zip has an overlocked edge that’s visible when the collar is open. That edge needs to be pretty flat so replacing it with another seam wouldn’t be great. Perhaps bias binding on the edge?

Modelled photos coming soon I hope.

Plain and simple: Burda 112 3/2012

Every wardrobe needs background pieces to pair with the exciting stuff. These high waisted black straight legged trousers are one of those. I made them as part of my current wardrobe sewing plan. The current version of the plan has a couple of interesting tops that need some plainer bottoms.

I was originally planning to use Burda 119 3/2020 for the trousers, but other people who’ve made those found they aren’t as high waisted as the magazine photos suggest. So I turned to Burda 112 3/2012, which I’d made once already so I know they have exactly the waistline and fit I wanted. All I needed to do was lengthen the leg. They’re very simple with the only real design detail being the back pocket shape.

Burda 112 3/2012 line art, burdastyle.ru

I made these out of pieces of 7oz 100% cotton denim from Empress Mills I had left over from a couple of other projects. The fabric was purchased in two separate lots so I was very careful to check the scraps from each project matched before I risked combining them. But once I’d finished I noticed there’s a really subtle shade difference between the front and back legs. It’s only visible in some lights and photos do not show it, but I know it is there. It hasn’t stopped me wearing them. And I’m glad to have used up the scraps.

Annoyingly the waist came up a tiny bit too big so they tend to slide down at the back and produce a little wrinkle just below the waistband. The last time I made these I used a much more tightly woven fabric than the denim so I think that’s what made the difference. I don’t feel particularly motivated to take this pair in though.

The top stitching is just about visible on the back pockets. I used a very dark grey thread. The denim is nominally black, but black top stitching thread looks too harsh against it because it’s really more charcoal.

I haven’t made any of the tops from my wardrobe plan yet so here I’m wearing them with a draped T shirt I made last year. It’s yet another Burda pattern: 121 4/2020.

I ranted last week about how the belt loops hadn’t come out very well, but they look OK here. I did have to use a pair one each side of the centre back seam instead of a single centred one. My machine would not have coped with that many layers. I doubt I’ll wear these with a belt so I should have left them off.

I’ll definitely be using this pattern again as it’s a great shape and it’s a quick make too. Thanks to my husband for the photos.

Two down, seven to go

We finally managed to get some photos of my new Burda jacket on me – thanks as always to my husband for taking the photos. I’m still figuring out how to best style it. I made it as part of a wardrobe plan, but it is only the second piece I’ve completed. The dresses and trousers I intend to go underneath currently exist only in my head. But here it is with the pleather leggings from the plan. The jacket itself is Burda 105 02/2021.

This is not a garment I reach for first thing in the morning. It comes into its own when I’ve started work for the day and realise it’s a bit chilly in the attic. It goes over almost anything and the short sleeves are surprisingly practical. I don’t suppose I’ll be wearing it in the depth of winter, although I could see the style working in a heavy wool as a wearable blanket.

Here’s the Burda line art. I always like it when people show the pattern designer’s version when I’m reading a review of a pattern, as sometimes the finished object comes out very different from how you’d expect. This one is perfectly accurate though. I chose to really play up the top stitching on my version with light grey thread. It’s mostly straight lines but even so I did have to unpick a few times because there’s no hiding a wobble with this colour.

Burda 105 02/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

I still don’t think I’ve cracked styling this. Hopefully when I complete the rest of the plan (around Christmas, at the rate I sew) I’ll have more options.

Neither one thing nor the other: Burda 105 02/2021

Is it a coat? Is it a cardigan? Is it a jacket? Burda calls it a coat, but in my book a coat has to have full length sleeves and close at the front. Cardigans are usually knitted and this is made of denim. And it lacks the structure of the typical jacket. Whatever it is, it’s style 105 from the February 2021 Burda.

I normally let Burda magazines mature in my pattern stash until they’re a few years old before I make anything from them. But February 2021 had not one but two patterns which leapt straight into my latest wardrobe sewing plans and this is the first of them. I was looking for an indoor garment to layer over the top of an outfit for extra warmth. I don’t get on with most cardigans and this seemed like a promising alternative. It’s a simple sew: fairly square cut, unlined, with patch pockets and no closures.

Burda 105 02/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

Here’s the back view. One rather odd thing about the design is that there’s no continuity of the lines between the front, back, and sleeves. Those bold diagonal seams on the front come to a dead stop at the side seams. The topstitching on the yoke hits the sleeve seam and vanishes into it. I can almost hear Esme from the Great British Sewing Bee tutting that it hasn’t been very well thought through. It would be easy enough to add diagonal seams to the back to marry it with the front, but I’m not so sure what to do about the sleeves. More top stitching on the sleeve seam perhaps? The pattern called for one line there, but it also has you set the sleeves in so I skipped it, not wanting to do it in the round. If I made this one again I’d put the sleeves in flat.

A change I did make to this version was to add a hanging loop and change the neckline seam finish. There is no neckline facing piece (probably because it would be too bulky on top of the double layer yoke) and the pattern has you sew both layers of the the collar on to the neckline and press the allowances down, leaving a visible seam allowance around the neck. Instead I clipped the allowances at the point where the facing attaches, sewed on just the outer collar between those points, and pressed them up so the inner collar hides them. The top stitching around the collar holds it in place.

This worked beautifully on one side…

And I ended up with a mess on the other. I don’t think I clipped far enough. It’s not visible when wearing, obviously, but it’s annoying.

The pockets on this thing are huge. I have long arms and I can only just reach the bottom. It’s a Tall sized pattern so perhaps that’s not so surprising, but definitely something to check before stitching them down.

When I finished this I was vaguely disappointed. It seemed to lack the style factor of Burda’s version. But I’ve worn it a few times already, mainly when feeling cold indoors, and it grew on me. I suspect it works best paired with a dress, and I don’t often wear one of those. Hopefully I’ll get some modelled photos of it soon for comparison.