Twisty tops: understanding Burda 111 6/2021

I just finished making Burda 111 6/2021, a sort of cardigan jacket thing with a drapey twisty front bit (scientific description there). I put it on, and then spent twenty minutes in front of the mirror trying to figure out how to best arrange the drapes. The two fronts extend from the hem and are joined into a long loop with a full twist. Here’s the technical drawing:

Burda 111 6/2021 line drawing
Burda 111 6/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

I’d chosen black fabric where the right and wrong side were very similar, so it was a bit difficult for me to see what was going on with my garment. So here is my assistant, Gabrielle the Playmobil figure, wearing the same design made up in origami paper with different coloured sides.

Jacket with one full twist, extended
Jacket with one full twist, looped around neck

The flattest way to arrange it is like the picture above. The two fronts cross over and the wrong side of the fabric faces out on the drapes. The direction the fronts cross over depends on which way it was twisted before joining the fronts.

Then I started wondering what would happen with different numbers of twists.

With no twists the fronts don’t want to cross so it ends up as an open jacket. The wrong sides still show.

jacket with no twists, extended
jacket with no twists, lopped around neck

With two twists it likes to sit with one side wrong side out and one side right side out. Might look interesting if you had a fabric with two good sides.

jacket with two twists, extended
jacket with two twists, looped around neck

I tried half twists too, which means the front extensions end up joined right side to wrong side, making the whole garment a Möbius strip with one side and one edge (if you ignore the sleeves). That didn’t work at all: I couldn’t get it to sit flat in the paper version. Whole numbers of twists it is.

Hopefully I’ll get some pictures of the fabric version soon.

Burda 110 05/2008

Finally some modelled photos of Burda 110 05/2008, part of my current wardrobe sewing plan. The weather’s turned cooler so while I’d originally intended to wear it on its own, I’ve had to put the pleather leggings from the same plan and a t shirt underneath. And as we went to a park on the other side of town to take the photos there are creases and the pockets are laden down with hand sanitizer and the like. So this is definitely a realistic set of photos!

Here’s the line art. Note the distance between the bottom of the pockets and the hem; this is meant to be a very short dress.

Burda 110 05/2008 line art, burdastyle.ru

And compare with my version, which has come out a lot longer. I think the explanation might be that hem allowance was already included on the pattern pieces and then I added it again. Normally you have to add both seam and hem allowance to Burda magazine patterns, but sometimes when there is a feature at the hem like the drawstring casing here, or a turn up, the hem allowance (but not the seam allowance) is already included. I have checked the instructions and it doesn’t say it’s included, but every other version I’ve seen of this one is a lot shorter than mine. I’m not sure the longer length of mine is the best proportion on me, but it does make it wearable with bare legs.

For once Burda have come up with a pattern with an interesting side and back view. Those cargo pockets can hold a lot of stuff. I was a bit worried I’d made permanent shiny iron marks on the pocket corners while trying to press them but the fabric recovered very well after a steam. It’s Merchant and Mills 8oz sanded twill in Aubin grey. It’s a beautiful fabric: it has a very soft hand but is also sturdy. I’d definitely use it again. Burda’s fabric recommendation for this one is poplin which seems a bit on the lightweight side to me.

The belt loops held on with snaps look good but the back ones do occasionally unsnap themselves when getting out of a car.

I’m pleased with the collar and front zip. It was a lot of effort. Overall I’m not sure the style works for me though; the whole thing seems like it needs to be a bit crisper. Maybe I should have used poplin!

Thanks to my husband for patiently taking the photos as always.

Another oddity with Burda 110 5/2008

I’ve finally finished Burda 110 5/2008, a biker style mini dress with lots of fiddly details and hardware.

Burda’s famously terse instructions all worked out in the end and I’m pleased with the result, but there’s one feature I don’t understand. Here are the lower pockets, which are bellows style, so there’s a pleat strip between the front of the pocket and the dress body to allow expansion room. (Burda calls them poacher’s pockets but I don’t think I’ll be fitting any stolen rabbits into these.)

They have rivets on the bottom corners. Rivets are normally placed to reinforce areas of stress, but I’m not sure I’ve got these right. Burda’s instructions say to ‘keep the pleat piece free’ while attaching, and in the technical drawing they definitely don’t look like they are meant to go through the body of the dress.

Burda 110 5/2008 line art, Burdastyle.ru

So I’ve just put mine through the pocket front where they achieve nothing but decoration. I couldn’t even catch the seam allowances down with the rivet on most of them because I added the rivets after sewing the pockets to the dress. Had I realised earlier that they don’t go through the dress front or near the attachment seam I could have done them before, which would have been much easier.

So does anyone know how these are meant to work? I’m perfectly happy with the finished dress, and the pockets are never going to be asked to hold anything heavier than a phone, but I’m curious.

An apology to Burda

Burda 110 5/2008 line art, burdastyle.ru

I’m making the dress above, which is an old Burda magazine pattern from back when it was called Burda World of Fashion. The pattern number is 110 5/2008. It has such a huge amount of detail. This is something where I think the majority of sewing patterns don’t match ready to wear designs – they don’t have a lot of non-functional detailing.

A couple of weeks ago I was complaining about the instructions for this pattern, which make modern Burda ones look verbose. I was also pretty sure they contained a mistake. Well I was wrong: I started sewing it up and it all made sense once I had the actual pattern pieces in my hands. For posterity here are some in progress photos of the centre front zip fastener, which was the bit that confused me. It has an exposed half zip with an appliquéd band.

You sew up the centre front seam to just above the end of the zip slot and then there’s some difficult to describe trimming and snipping to do which ends up looking like this. This is the bit that confused me! But I think the picture below is correct. The seam allowances have been trimmed off along the length of the slot, the remaining seam allowance trimmed diagonally, and a small cut made into what will be the bottom corner of the zip slot. I should have interfaced that area.

Then you press the whole thing flat and sew the zip on like a regular exposed zip but from the wrong side, so the inside of the dress is very cleanly finished. Or would be if I’d interfaced the bottom of the slot…it frayed a bit in one corner.

And finally you appliqué the band over the top on the right side.

Eventually there will be some rivets applied too.

So that’s the front zip in. There are two more exposed zips with bands for the side pockets and then a bunch of other fiddly little bits to sew. Summer will be over by the time I’ve finished this one!

Burda 101 2/2021

This dress is a bit of a departure from usual for me. I don’t often wear colour, never mind prints. I’d originally been planning to make Burda 101 2/2021 in a very luxurious grey Tencel twill as part of my wardrobe sewing plan, but then I read some slightly worrying reviews of the pattern. Here’s the line art: what it doesn’t show is that you’re meant to cut the bodice on the bias, which combined with the weight of the long skirt means the bodice tends to grow.

Burda 101 2/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

I didn’t want to risk my expensive fabric on a possibly dud pattern. I also couldn’t see any good reason for the bodice to be on the bias in the first place. The original Burda version is made in a horizontal stripe which produces a nice effect with the bias grain, but in a plain I thought it would work perfectly well cut straight. Time for an experiment.

Enter this mystery print fabric which has been in my stash for years. I got it on Goldhawk Road in London. It’s a lightweight twill and at the time I thought it was polyester based on the price. I did a burn test when I pulled it out for this project, and was amazed to find it’s most likely silk – certainly not polyester anyway. But I have never found a project for it and it seemed like a good choice for this one because there aren’t many seamlines to break up the print.

So I traced the pattern off and rotated the grain line on the bodice pieces. I also eliminated the centre back seam which isn’t needed if you’re cutting on the straight grain, and would interrupt the print. I completely missed that the front facing is meant to be cut on the fold and added a seam allowance to that. I made my usual fitting adjustment of lengthening the bodice. That was slightly tricky to do at the front because of the shape of the pattern pieces with the cut-on sleeves and the ties meant I couldn’t cut straight across and spread. I had to cut a step shape in the pattern piece instead, so the length got added below the cut-on sleeve at the outside edge and above the ties at centre front. And I added side seam pockets which are sewn into the waist seam at the top in an attempt to avoid sagging.

Cutting out was an ordeal. I did it single layer because of the print, which meant working on the floor. I should have stabilised the fabric with starch or gelatine because it wriggled about all over the place. Some of the cut pieces bore very little resemblance to the original pattern. And I completely messed up matching the print at the skirt side seams. I didn’t even try at the waist because the ties hide it there. But amazingly when I sewed it up it all fitted together. The print lines were useful for making sure things were on grain at the hem and waist seam.

I was really careful not to stretch out the neckline edges, but I still had to rip and resew the centre front intersection a couple of times to make it sit right. The bodice looks best slightly bloused over the ties, but the slippery fabric means it tends to slip down. I should have put some elastic in the waist seam but I didn’t have any handy.

I promise the hem isn’t as wonky as it looks, the bodice has just slipped down on one side. The sleeve bands tend to move about too: in most of the photos the right one has sneakily unfolded itself.

I do like the big block of print that ended up sitting on the upper back. The bow on the other hand just vanishes into the print.

I added a tie on the inside so I can attach the point of the v neck to my bra and avoid flashing people when I bend over. It’s a bias tube made from a scrap and caught in the stitching that attaches the facing to the centre front seam. You can also see my lazy overlocked seam finishes here. I’m forever seeing people on the Internet assert that overlocking is a sign of poor quality, but I’ve never had an overlock finished seam fray and fall apart in the wash yet.

So what’s the verdict? I like this dress and have worn it out of the house, but I won’t be making a version in the Tencel. Not because this is a terrible pattern, just a little fussy to wear. It needs plenty of ironing and the skirt isn’t a great length on me. Best kept for garden parties and summer weddings. Thanks as always to my husband for the photos.

Burda instructions and where to interface

I’m making the pattern below, a 2008 Burda, so it’s a pretty old one. I remember reading lots of online complaining about Burda’s instructions when I first discovered sewing blogs, but once I got good enough at sewing to tackle Burda magazine patterns at all, which would have been a year or two later, I found the instructions were minimal but usually adequate.

Burda 110 5/2008 line art, burdastyle.ru

And then I got my hands on some older Burda issues, back from when it was called Burda World of Fashion, and discovered what people had been complaining about. The older Burda patterns are much easier to trace than the modern ones because the same number of patterns are spread out over twice the number of sheets of paper, but the instructions are definitely worse; I think this particular set even has a minor mistake in that they tell you to attach part of the front band twice, in two different parts of the instructions. And while the current Burda instructions are terse but include every step (apart from finishing seam allowances) the old ones occasionally skip over things.

The pattern above has a lot of fiddly little details: wide belt carriers, shoulder tabs, pocket flaps, and some sort of decorative loop at the back neckline. I picked it in part because of this. Burda made their version in poplin which isn’t the sturdiest fabric for that sort of thing so interfacing is definitely required. And the instructions for interfacing are limited to some shading on the cutting layout to show where to stick the stuff:

Cutting diagram for Burda 110 5/2008

And that’s your lot; there is nothing in the text to remind you to actually apply it. Modern Burda always has a brief line at the start of the pattern instructions which mentions it.

Now if I was making this in poplin I think I’d be happy following the interfacing placement in the original diagram, but I’ve perhaps foolishly decided on something much heavier: an 8oz cotton twill. So do I follow the diagram or cut down on the interfacing? I definitely want it on the collar and zip bands, but I wonder if sticking it on the pocket flaps and tabs is just going to make them difficult to turn out and top stitch. Wish me luck.

Wardrobe sewing plans update

I’m still working my way through my latest wardrobe sewing plan, but I’ve made a few changes. Originally I had a very dramatic Burda coat pattern in the mix, and a top that I wasn’t quite sure about but included because it was a shortened version of one of the dress patterns so I wouldn’t have to trace another pattern.

Realistically I don’t need another coat right now, even one as fabulous as this. I’ve already got a thick winter coat, a trench, and a lighter weight jacket. I’ve got the fabric for this one in stash though, so I’ll probably make it one day.

Burda 103 03/2018 coat, burdastyle.ru

And I realised that the top isn’t something I can make work for me. It’s ok for hot weather but awkward for the rest of the year. It needs to be a top layer because of the flappy sleeves and the ties, and it would only suit me if tucked in. So that one had to go too.

Burda 102 02/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

I’ve replaced the coat with the Closet Core Blanca jumpsuit: it’s another fairly involved project but one I suspect I’ll get more wear out of. I finished it a couple of weeks ago and have worn it a few times already.

And for the top I’ve substituted a very recent Burda design, 111 6/2021. I’ve used the model photo here because the line art doesn’t give much idea of how it looks on a body, although it’s certainly clearer about construction. The front is cut in two halves, but instead of being seamed up the middle they’re only joined at the bottom of the v neck. Both front panels extend downwards and join in a loop, which you then twist and put round your neck. I suspect Burda has styled this carefully to avoid flashing the model’s stomach. I’m planning to wear mine over another layer.

Burda 111 6/2021 model photo, burdastyle.ru

So here’s the current plan. My aim with this selection is to have things that will layer over each other. The UK is just coming off a short heatwave right now, but cold and wet is much more typical.

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.