A woman in grey trousers and white shirt sits on grass

Merchant and Mills Strides finished

A woman in grey trousers and white shirt stands by a window

When I last posted about these trousers I was struggling with the pockets. But as you can see I finished them and I’m very pleased with the results. These are the Merchant and Mills Strides. They don’t seem to be available as a standalone pattern but are part of the Merchant and Mills Workbook, a collection of six patterns making up a wardobe. The Strides are described as classic menswear style trousers. They’re straight legged, very high waisted, and have slant pockets and pleats on the front. Mine are made up in a mediumweight non-stretch grey denim. It’s heavier than any of the recommended fabrics for the pattern but it’s unusually soft and drapey for denim, which makes it work. I’d link to it, but it seems to have sold out.

Closeup of grey trousers

I really like the fit on these but it’s only fair to say that other people have had mixed results. The sizing is a little hard to fathom as there is no size chart provided, only finished garment measurements. The size numbers look like they’re meant to match UK retail or Big Four pattern sizing, but in fact they aren’t equivalent. I’d say to go down at least one from your usual size. There’s no inside leg measurement given but after checking the pattern I lengthened the leg something like 8cm, which is more than I usually do.

What I ended up with is close fitting on the natural waist and roomy everywhere else. Very comfortable to wear. The pockets worked out ok after I recut the back piece longer to match the front one, although I’d prefer them to be a bit deeper overall. If I’d used the original pattern pieces with the shorter back piece they’d be far too shallow for a phone (at least for the size I made; I haven’t been back to check the others).

A woman in grey trousers and white shirt stands by a white wall

The pattern is described as inspired by classic menswear but it’s simplified from traditional men’s trousers, which makes it a much easier sew. There is no centre back seam on the waistband for adjusting the size and no back pockets of any sort. However there is a very nifty shaped fly guard with an internal button closure to keep the front lying really flat. I had a bit of difficulty with the button placement on that – the buttonhole seemed placed much lower on the pattern pieces than on the diagrams in the instructions – but that might have been my mistake in tracing and marking. I made it work but next time I’ll check the pattern pieces really do line up before making the buttonhole. Interestingly the photos in the book of the insides look more like how my fly guard ended up than the diagrams do.

Here’s the back view. I get those wrinkles under the backside on most trousers. I suppose I could take some length out of the back crotch curve to try to deal with it but it doesn’t really bother me.

A woman in grey trousers and white shirt stands by a window with her back to the camera

I’ve been wearing these a lot since I finished them. They feel effortless to wear but I’d like to think they have a Katharine Hepburn vibe. And I love the proportions I get when tucking in a top to the high waistband. It’s as if they were drafted for me personally. I’ll definitely be making this pattern again.

The shirt is Style Arc’s Juliet – another one I have plans to sew again. Thanks to my husband for taking the photos.

A woman in grey trousers and a white shirt sits on grass

Stash busting: Burda 105 04/2019

This was a somewhat experimental project. I would never have bought this shirt because the silhouette is totally out of my comfort zone. But it’s been hot and sunny in the UK lately and I burn very easily, so making a voluminous and lightweight coverup seemed like a good idea. My Burda magazine collection yielded 105 04/2019, which fitted the bill. Here’s the technical drawing.

The combination of the loose fit, the clean front, and that architectural pleat at the back was appealing.

The fabric is a cotton shirting from Croft Mill that I’ve had in the stash for a while. I originally bought it for a shirt dress, but when it arrived it didn’t look the way I was anticipating. What caught me out was the scale of the pattern. It has tiny little woven dashes of bright purple and olive green on a white background. The sample I got looked great. But as soon as you have a bigger piece and look at it from any distance the dashes blend with the background and the whole thing reads as a solid greyish lilac colour.

A pastel dress is not a good look on me, so the fabric went into stash and I made the original dress in white poplin instead. I’m glad to have found a use for the patterned shirting at last. And as a bonus: violet, green, and white are the colours of the suffragette movement, and knowing that cheers me up in an odd way.

The main feature of this shirt is the pleated back. Otherwise it’s very simple.

The front closure is made with snaps on the original pattern but I’ve changed mine to buttons on a concealed placket. I didn’t bother putting a button on the collar band. I think it clashes with the otherwise clean finish and I’m never going to do it up.

In practice I’ve been wearing it tied at the waist to tame the volume a little.

Here’s how the back looks when tied. Lots of interesting folds, which bring out the colour of the fabric.

I used rather nice dark grey shell buttons – completely wasted on the front but visible on the cuffs. I think they’re probably a little too dark for the fabric.

I’ve worn this more than I expected to. I can’t see myself making the pattern again, or indeed wearing a lot more lilac, but this one is a slightly surprising success.

Silver trousers again: Vogue 1347

Work on the Merchant and Mills Strides trousers continues. But here’s a trouser pattern I recently finished instead.

Long time readers of this blog know I have a thing for silver trousers. I usually have at least one pair in my wardrobe and they get a lot of wear. Recently I’ve changed shape – I lost weight while sick – and my clothes no longer fit. Things should return to normal soon but in the meantime I need some trousers that don’t fall down. Enter the bottoms from Vogue 1347, wide leg trousers with a drawstring waist. No link to the pattern because this one is out of print, although it’s often available second hand on eBay and Etsy. Here’s the line drawing.

Vogue 1347 line drawing, McCalls

The lines of the trousers are pretty simple but this is a Ralph Rucci designer pattern so the finishing is amazing. If you followed the pattern instructions closely you’d get an absolutely exquisite garment: fully lined without an exposed seam allowance anywhere. I’m afraid I didn’t bother with the lining at all, and my seam allowances are finished with the overlocker. I’ve never seen such comprehensive instructions for lining trousers with a fly front anywhere else though, so I may come back to the pattern in future just for that.

I always find things drop out of inseam pockets on trousers so I added zips to mine. And I couldn’t be bothered to make a long skinny drawstring out of self fabric so mine is an acrylic cord. The fabric itself is Lady McElroy Uttoxeter, a black and white tonic twill that looks silver from a distance. It’s no longer available anywhere I’ve looked but this particular piece came from Sherwoods Fabrics.

And now the obligatory back view, because this is a sewing blog after all. I’m standing up straighter than I usually would which I think explains the folds. They have plenty of room anyway, and would even if I was at my normal size. I normally need to go up one size for the hips in most sewing pattern size charts, but this pattern has so much ease built in I didn’t bother when I traced it. I added 5cm to the length, as I usually do with Vogue, and they’ve come out just above floor length which is perfect. The hem allowance is a huge 8cm so there is a lot of wiggle room even without lengthening the pattern but I wanted to be sure to have a deep hem.

I’m really pleased with these. They are a lovely shape and I like that they have a proper fly front despite the adjustable waist; it makes me feel slightly more dressed up. And it’s so nice to have something that fits.

Thanks to my husband for the photos.

Vogue 1466 modelled photos

Vogue 1466 jacket in black boiled wool

Here’s another project I finished during lockdown and didn’t get modelled photographs of until now. This is the jacket from out-of-print Vogue 1466, a Donna Karan design. Boringly I made it in the same colour as the designer original, although I think the Donna Karan fabric is woven (wool melton) and mine is a stable knit (boiled wool). Here’s the pattern envelope photo.

Vogue 1466 envelope photo
Vogue 1466 envelope photo, McCalls

And my terrible photo of the line art from the back of the envelope, because by the time I went looking for that the pattern had long since vanished from the McCalls site.

Photo of Vogue 1466 line art from back of envelope
Vogue 1466 line art from back of envelope, McCalls, my photo

I made this as a warm layer for wearing at work, because the room I work in at home is much colder than the rest of the house.

The back is very plain indeed.

But there’s all sorts going on at the front between the asymmetric closure, the pockets, and the collar tab. The pockets should be double welts not single but I couldn’t make it work with my very thick fabric.

I had to add an extra snap to the front to get it to not gape at the waist if I don’t stand up perfectly straight. The model on the pattern envelope is wearing a belt so doesn’t have that problem and all the runway pictures I could find had belts too. I tried mine with a belt but prefer it like this because there is a ton of ease at the waist and it looks a bit bulky when pulled in.

I noticed Donna Karan did some variations on this style with various bits of embellishment on the sleeves which looked very nice, but definitely not everyday wear.

I doubt this is going to get worn much until the weather cools down but I think I’ll be very glad of it in the autumn. I keep reading about how we’re all dressing super casually now thanks to coronavirus but it doesn’t seem to be true for me. I like putting an outfit together even if no one is going to see it other than my husband and son. On which note, thanks again to my husband for taking the pictures and managing to capture detail in black boiled wool…not easy. Although the high quality pictures did make me realise just how tired the skirt I’m wearing here has become (also Vogue, 8956 but out of print so no link). I’ve carefully edited out the shots where the sad saggy hem is visible. Going to have to either fix that one or remake it this year.

Remember this? Burda 114 11/2019 quilted coat modelled photos

This was going to be my new winter coat. Only I didn’t finish sewing it until after lockdown started and we were only allowed out for really essential things – blog photos definitely didn’t count! Things have eased up a bit now.

The pattern is Burda 114 11/2019, made up in an unusual black and white tonic fabric that reads as silver at a distance. It’s a Lady McElroy fabric called Uttoxeter, but I don’t think they’re making it any more because it’s not been available anywhere I’ve looked lately. It’s a shame because it’s lovely fabric and it’s my favourite colour. I went back and bought the end of the roll from the company that supplied me with the first lot, so I still have some in stash for future projects.

I haven’t had many chances to wear this yet but so far it’s proved quite practical. And it looks like I’d imagined it which is a bonus. It’s very roomy and the pockets are nice and deep. It’s warm too, although I’ll have to wait for winter to see if it completely replaces my long wool coat.

I’m glad to finally get photos of this project on me. It feels like it’s finally finished, after almost six months. Thanks to my husband for braving the park in the rain to take them.

Vogue 1466 high necked Donna Karan jacket

A black wool jacket (Vogue 1466) with a high neckline lies on the floor

I have finished making the jacket from Vogue 1466, an out of print Donna Karan design. I’ve been working on this since the start of lockdown; it’s been a slog. It was actually done a week or two back, when the UK was going through an incredible heatwave. Not the best time to be finishing a heavy boiled wool jacket. I was so fed up of it after trying it on multiple times in the blazing heat that after the last snap was sewn I left it sitting on the dressform and didn’t even take photographs. The weather has cooled down since then. In fact the last few days have been rainy so I still haven’t got any modelled photographs but I did try it on and take some detail shots.

Here’s the technical drawing. The unusual thing about this design is the high collar with the tab. The tab is a separate piece held on by snaps.

Technical drawing of a jacket with a high neck and asymmetric closure(Vogue 1466)

Closeup of the collar. I was concerned this might not be comfortable to wear in practice but so far it has been all right. I originally chose this pattern because I’m often in need of warm layers to wear indoors and I fancied something a bit smarter than a sweater. I don’t feel comfortable in most cardigans – don’t ask me why – and definitely not in traditional tailored jackets. This one is unlined and made in a stretchy boiled wool, which makes it a lot easier to wear.

A closeup of the necline of a high necked black wool jacket (Vogue 1466)

The insides of this are all finished with bias binding on the seams. It took forever, and I can’t say it’s the most even binding the world has ever seen. I almost wished for lining, but the wool is so thick and warm that adding another layer would have made this like a winter coat.

The inside of an unlined jacket with bound seams

The shoulder pads are just visible here. They’re the largest ones I had in stash – this jacket really needs them.

The inside of an unlined jacket (Vogue 1466) showing bound seams and covered shoulder pads

After all the shenanigans involved in finishing the welt pockets with French seams, they end up barely visible. Nice and roomy though.

I’m looking forward to wearing this now. Hopefully I’ll get some pictures of it on a body soon.

The inside of an unlined jacket (Vigue 1466) showing front facing and pocket bag
A woman wearing a grey top and silver skirt sits in a chair

Speedy sewing: Burda 106b 06/2011

A woman wearing a grey top Burda 106b 06/2011 stands in front of a window

My last project took six weeks, and isn’t blogged yet; I’m sick of the sight of it. This little top took about three hours, which was a very refreshing change. It’s Burda 106b 06/2011. Four pattern pieces: front, back, and facings, and uses less than a metre of fabric. There is also a dress version, 107 06/2011, which uses lengthened versions of the same pattern pieces.

A woman wearing a grey top Burda 106b 06/2011 stands with her back to the viewer

The fabric is tencel twill from Merchant and Mills, left over from a dress I made last year. It’s very drapey and cool to wear. I didn’t think the facings would stay put in the twill, so I added some random lightweight stretch iron-on interfacing I had lying around to them. The pattern doesn’t call for any interfacing.

The shape is mostly boxy but there are small bust darts, which I should have lowered a little. The armscye is almost a straight line. I’ve lengthened the pattern by my usual 5cm to allow for my long back, and I’m very happy with where the hem has ended up.

A woman wearinf a grey top Burda 106b 06/2011 stands side on

There are slits at the hem. I mitered the corners instead of just turning the hem up as it gives a much nicer finish.

A close up view of Burda 106b 06/2011 hem showing topstitching and side slits

I’m hoping this will be a real wardrobe workhorse as it’s so simple and neutral. I’m wearing it with my silver Vogue 1247 skirt here. Many thanks to my husband both for the photos and the quarantine haircut. Feels very good to have it off my neck.

A woman wearing a grey top Burda 106b 06/2011 and silver skirt Vogue 1247 sits in a chair
Burda 121 04 2020

Burda 121 04/2020 draped t-shirt

Burda 121 04 2020

This top was a very quick sew. A bit of gathering, four seams, and four hems. It is Burda 121 04/2020 – it’s not often I make up a Burda pattern in the same month the magazine is dated. I am not first off the mark though – check out Sonja’s stylish all black version. And here is Burda’s version.

The cut is unusual, with the same pattern piece used for both front and back. This sort of thing can be very hit or miss in my experience. I’ve made similar designs from the Japanese Drape Drape books and they’ve either become firm favourites or never been worn at all – there is one Drape Drape t shirt I have tackled three times without producing a wearable garment yet. But this Burda one does work. I’ve worn it twice already.

It’s not completely perfect. The problem area is the neckline, which is too tight for a cowl neck and too loose for a boat neck. It doesn’t seem to know quite where to sit. Mine tends to fall backwards and so I end up showing off a bit of back.

Burda 121 04 2020

I sewed this entirely on the sewing machine. If you’re super accurate you could use an overlocker for the construction seams, but I’m not and there didn’t seem to be any point setting it up just to finish the seams in a completely non fraying fabric. I even did the hems on the sewing machine with a twin needle. I haven’t had great success with that in the past but this time I added a bit of lightweight knit interfacing to the edges which helped a lot.

The proportions aren’t quite what I was expecting, although I like them. Burda only shows it on a seated model where it appears to stop around the hip bone. It’s definitely longer than that on me. I made my usual length adjustments so possibly this one just comes up long.

Burda 121 04 2020

I don’t think I’m likely to make this again – it’s perfect for the current warm weather but I certainly don’t need two of them. It’s a great little pattern though. It could easily be adjusted to have full length sleeves or even lengthened into a minidress.

Burda 121 04 2020

Anticlimax? Burda 114 11/2019 finished

It doesn’t look much different from the pictures in the last couple of posts, but my Burda 114 11/2019 quilted coat is finally finished.

The big change since last time is that new vertical line of top stitching down the front. It’s sewn right at the end, through all the layers, and goes from level with the top of the zip right to the hem. This holds the lining and facing in place – there was no need to understitch the lining on that side of the zip at all! And if you recall it was my attempt to understitch which led to the whole thing getting jammed in the sewing machine. I should have just followed Burda’s instructions in the first place.

I haven’t been able to get modelled photos yet. This has been such an involved project that I really want to do them in a location that’s more interesting than my back garden, but as we all know that won’t be possible for a while yet. But I do have some detail shots.

The closure has a zip and snaps too. No wind is going to sneak through that front opening.

Sewing on the snaps seemed to take forever. They’ve come out neater than I usually manage. Maybe I’m getting the hang of hand sewing at last.

The zip is two way but I’m not entirely sure it needs to be. There’s plenty of room even with the zip done right up.

At the moment I can’t quite believe I’ve finally finished it. It’s come out pretty much how I imagined it, but I’m completely unable to judge how successful it is as a garment because I’m not likely to have an opportunity to wear it until next winter now. And I’m very conscious of the less than perfect bits. It feels bit weird after all that effort. I’m hoping I’ll be delighted and surprised with it when I pull it out of the wardrobe in October.

Burda 116 09/2014 modelled photos

Burda 116 09/2014

So we set out last weekend to get some modelled photos of my Burda 116 09/2014 shirt dress. I’d intended to go to the local country park, which has some great locations for photography. But my three year old really wanted to visit a particular playground in a nearby housing estate instead, so here I am disporting myself on playground equipment an attempt to get interesting shots. Kudos to my husband for managing to make a fairly small and toddler friendly climbing frame look dramatic.

The photo below shows a bit more detail. The dress is made from lightweight ivory stretch cotton poplin from Tissu Fabrics so it’s more of a big shirt than a dress. I’m wearing it over my fake leather leggings in these pictures. The original Burda version was chambray and was styled as a dress.

Here’s the Burda version for comparison.

The back view is almost entirely plain. It needs a yoke to break it up a bit. It looks a bit wide in the shoulders here but it’s certainly comfortable to wear.

As I suspected the pockets on the bodice are not very useful because there isn’t enough depth below the opening for anything to stay in them. The position is unusual too; they start just at the bust point. They add some interest to the front and that’s about it.

Burda 116 09 2014

The bodice has come out a bit blousey. I added the usual amount of length I do for Burda patterns, so that would be worth checking if you’re making this. It’s possible that the problem is actually too much interfacing in the front bands; there’s a layer in each band and two in the button band so it’s got a lot of body. Next time I’d definitely only interface one side of the buttonhole band.

As for styling this: I think it works with the leggings, and it also looks OK with black tights and a black long sleeved t shirt underneath. I’ve also worn it with my grey Oxford bags. So it’s fairly versatile. I’m not sure I’d make it again as a shirt, but it might be a good summer shirt dress.

So that’s another ticked off my list of favourite Burda dress patterns. I’m putting that project down for a bit, because the next thing I’m tackling is my long delayed winter coat.