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.

More Burda dresses: Burda 116 09/2014

I’ve been working on this shirt dress for about a month now. It’s Burda 116 09/2014. This has been on my Burda to-sew list for a long time, but I struggled to find the right fabric. Burda’s version is in grey chambray. The variant design (tunic length, with a hood instead of a collar) is made in wool muslin – a fabric I don’t think I have ever encountered in the wild.

Mine’s ivory stretch cotton poplin from Tissu fabrics. This makes it more of a big shirt than a shirt dress – at least that’s how I’m intending to wear it. I had the fabric in stash, left over from a very full-skirted McCalls shirt dress I made a while ago, and eventually realised it would work for this. There was only just enough and I had to piece the drawstring casing. It’s so satisfying to only have tiny scraps left over though.

This is a dress with a lot going on. I find a lot of sewing patterns have much less detail than equivalent ready-to-wear garments, but this one can’t be accused of that. About the only thing missing is a back yoke. I haven’t got any modelled pictures yet, but here are closeups of all the crunchy details.

The collar is unusual. It’s a band collar, but it stops where the front placket starts instead of overlapping. This makes for quite a weak point at that sharp inward corner between the band and the placket. I’m a bit concerned it won’t wear well and I think next time I’d add some interfacing there.

There are patch pockets on the front, which I suspect are more decorative than useful, and side seam pockets too.

And then there’s a drawstring at the waist. Don’t look too hard at the buttonhole position; it’s too high. It won’t show when the drawstring is tied though.

The back is plain apart from the drawstring casing at the waist. I think a back yoke would be a nice addition but I’m way too lazy to adjust the pattern.

I love the hem treatment. There is a very deep hem facing which gives a completely clean finish. A weighty hem is so much nicer on this kind of dress than a narrow one.

The sleeves are finished with elastic in a casing instead of cuffs. I like how it echoes the waist.

I’m looking forward to figuring out how to style this. I might try it over my silver jeans or my grey Oxford bags. Lots of possibilities. Ideas welcome!

Andy’s gizmo

When I was doing GCSE Creative Textiles many many years ago one of the things the course included was ‘soft sculpture’: using fabric to create facsimiles of objects. I never thought I’d be using those techniques in real life. But last weekend I found myself recreating a prop from my son’s favourite TV programme in fabric and it’s actually a pretty similar process.

The prop is the ‘gizmo’ from Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures. It’s a blue mobile phone-like device that the lead character wears strapped to his arm. The gizmo is quite thick, so I used some scraps of foam heat resistant table covering to stuff it and give it shape. I also used heavy weight iron-on interfacing on the back of the blue felt body fabric.

The gizmo has a screen, which I made with black felt, and some controls which I machine embroidered. It attaches to an arm band with Velcro. Here’s the body fabric with the screen, embroidery and Velcro applied before I sewed it up.

The arm band is a rectangle of sweatshirting fabric. It is wrapped around the arm and is held together with Velcro on the long edges. The gizmo attaches to two smaller strips of Velcro.

And here’s the finished object. It’s already been well loved and the felt fabric is showing the effects. In Creative Textiles we used to use cotton twill fabric and paint it with glue to make our soft sculptures have a bit of body. I don’t think I’ll be going as far as using glue, but I bet denim or gabardine would work for the body fabric and be harder wearing.

I made a proper pattern for this, which turns out to be a good thing because we recently discovered Andy’s Wild Adventures; a very similar series to Dinosaur Adventures but the gizmo in it is red not blue. So this weekend I may be making a red version.

Knowing when to give up: Burda 116 09/2018

Looks OK on the dressform, doesn’t it? This is my version of Burda 116 09/2018, a fitted dress from my list of favourite Burda dresses. Here’s Burda’s version:

Model photo of Burda 116 09/2018. Blonde woman wearing fitted grey dress.

Sadly however the end result does not look at all OK on me. It’s oddly droopy in most places, and yet tight across the bust.

I did make a few changes which may have contributed to the problems. I used a stable ponte knit instead of a woven. I checked the ease on the pattern and it seemed OK for a knit, but once I tried the dress on I realised I should have sized down and done a full bust adjustment. I also added somewhat unsuccessful hip pockets; the lines don’t harmonise with the princess seams on the bodice very well. And I made the sleeves full length, only I got that wrong too and they are only full length because they’re not hemmed!

This is the dress where I followed Burda’s method for adding length to a bodice by splitting the adjustment above and below the bust point, instead of adding it all below as I’ve been doing for years. Many commenters said Burda’s instructions didn’t sound like a good idea and you were right! Look how deep the armscye is. At least I know now not to bother with that again.

I’m also not terribly happy with the neckline and collar. Burda’s version has square corners and a sharp v, but the sewing lines on the pattern are curved. I followed the pattern without really thinking, and the end result is pretty different to the one photographed in the magazine. It’s not curved enough to look intentional in my opinion.

I’m pleased with my top stitching though. There’s a lot of top stitched seam detail on the back. I skipped the centre back zip as I was using a knit.

I’m also quite pleased with the finish I got on the inside. The lining is black tricot mesh. It was an absolute beast to sew; it slipped and snagged at every opportunity.

But unfortunately I don’t think the dress is savable because of the armscye problem. Everything else could be fixed or lived with, but that would need recutting the whole bodice and I haven’t got any more of the fabric. And to be quite honest I’m pretty much over this one and don’t want to put the effort in! I’ll just have to chalk it up to experience.

Burda 117 02/2012 dress

This dress is an old favourite pattern from one of the best issues of Burda ever. This must be the sixth time I’ve made it, although I’ve altered the pattern somewhat from last time so hopefully this won’t be a totally boring blog post. Anyway. The original is Burda 117 02/2012 which came in a plain black and a colour blocked version. Both had an exposed zip all the way down the centre back seam, no pockets, little tucks at the shoulder seam, and a snap closure at the front bodice. Here’s the line art (curiously missing the zip). The tucks are only just visible as the slight dip in the shoulder line.

Burda 117a 02/2012 line art

I’ve added pockets in the slanted front waist seams, left off the tucks to give a stronger shoulder line, and extended the left front bodice piece (the underlap) to end at the same line as the right front bodice, removing the need for the snaps to hold it in place. That gives a better finish and there’s no danger of anything popping open.

I also made facings for the armscyes this time rather than adding hem allowance and turning under as the pattern suggests. It’s surprisingly tricky to shape the hem allowance to lie correctly because the armscye is pointed at the bottom and on the left side three seams come together there. Every previous version I’ve made had a gap in the hem at the bottom of the armscye, saved only by the fact that knit fabrics don’t fray. Separate facings are a big improvement.

I also skipped the zip. The dress is made of ponte knit and is no problem to get on and off without closures. The zip can look great but I think it’s a bit too much in a plain version. I wanted the seaming to be the main focus.

The fabric is a viscose/poly/elastane ponte from Croft Mill. It’s a mix of dark grey and brown fibres although I think it looks almost purple in these photos. As I write it’s still available here. It’s probably very slightly too lightweight for the style because there is a bit of cling; a heavy scuba works best. But I love the colour.

This dress is the second creation from my probably futile attempt to sew my way through my entire wishlist of Burda dresses. Two down, only another fourteen to go…

Thanks to my husband for taking the photos.

Black ruched dress: Burda 110 08/2017

Black is so difficult to photograph! This is my version of Burda 110 08/2017 (the link is to the Russian Burda site because of the recent changes on the US site). Hopefully you can see the details, because this dress has a lot going on. Gathering, pleating, buttons, and believe it or not there are pockets too, hidden in the skirt front pleats. Those aren’t part of the original pattern. They are horizontal inseam pockets inserted in an additional seam added by slashing the skirt front pattern piece along the inside fold of one of the pleats. Once the skirt is made up the pleat folds itself over the top of the pocket and hides the opening.

Here’s Burda’s version. Beautiful, but I bet they had to photograph it carefully. The fabric has to be lightweight and very elastic to work for this design, and when it’s white as well there must be huge potential for accidentally revealing more than intended. I added an underlining to the skirt in my version to get better coverage, and if I ever make it again I’ll do the same with the bodice as well. To reduce bulk at the seams I made separate underlining pattern pieces from a basic pencil skirt shape without any details, and then mounted the gathered and pleated fronts and backs onto them.

Burda 110 08/2017 model photo. A woman in a white dress sits beside a swimming pool

You can see in this back view that my slip is showing through at the shoulders. A second layer would probably have helped with that. The fabric is a lightweight single knit viscose/elastane jersey from Croft Mill. At the time of writing it’s still available. With my pattern alterations I used pretty much every scrap of three metres; I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to cut the whole thing. If I remake this I’ll buy a bit more fabric next time so I can underline the bodice too.

This is a Tall pattern, and the design is certainly proportioned accordingly, with the long slim skirt and cuffs. I found the cuffs came out a little baggy on me and would narrow them slightly another time. I don’t think I have unusually thin wrists so that’s worth watching out for if you’re making this.

What’s slightly surprising about the design is that they have you put in a really long zip, from the neck point right down to the hips. This is somewhat tricky to do: the fabric isn’t particularly stable to start with and then there’s the thick gathered section at the centre back skirt seam to negotiate. The zip isn’t necessary for getting the dress waist over your hips, because the waist’s elasticated anyway and the fabric, as previously mentioned, has to be very stretchy. I can get the dress on without undoing the zip or buttons at all. Admittedly it messes up my hair, but if that’s a consideration then a shorter zip to centre back would solve that and be a lot easier to install.

I like the button detail at the back of the neck. They’re secured with thread loops which are oddly satisfying to make. Pleased with the buttons too; they’re just plastic but they are exactly right for this dress.

This has turned out to be a surprisingly wearable dress. The stretchy fabric means the long pencil skirt isn’t as restricting as it looks, and it’s quite warm. The pockets haven’t worked as well as I’d hoped; the fabric is too light to support much weight so anything like a phone tends to distort the skirt front. I think that could be reduced by adding interfacing, or maybe extending the back pocket into a stay that could be caught in the waist seam. I cheated for the photos and didn’t put anything in the pockets.

I do think it needs a belt to make it look finished, and it needs to be leather (or fake leather) rather than fabric. Or maybe I should add more length to the bodice to make it blouse out and hide the waist seam.

I’m kind of tempted to make this again. White would look great but I don’t have any shoes that would go with it so I’d never wear it. Maybe beige or taupe?