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.

Looking to the future

I have just sewn the last button on the final garment in my wardrobe sewing plan. I started this back in October so my original estimate of six months worth of sewing wasn’t far out – I sew slowly and most of the pieces had fiddly details. But rather to my surprise I managed to stick with the plan, and am wearing most of the results on a regular basis. This post isn’t about those clothes, because I haven’t got them all photographed, but what comes next.

I was really inspired by two patterns in the February issue of Burda: an oversized coatigan (style 105) and a slouchy v neck dress with kimono sleeves and waist ties (style 101). But obviously they’d need some things to go under them so I started looking for options and checking my fabric stash…and before long I had another eight garment wardrobe planned out.

But do I really want to commit to another long sewing plan? This one does have the advantage that a couple of the patterns aren’t new to me, so should be relatively quick sews, and it also uses up quite a bit of stash fabric. But there are also several pretty big projects in there.

Top row, left to right:

Slim fitting wool jersey t-shirt in black John Kaldor Isabella wool jersey. I’ve used some Burda line art for the image, but this is basically a remake of this simple knit top I drafted a while ago, so I’ll use my pattern. This is intended to be layered under the dress immediately below it in the picture, and also to be worn alone with the jeans.

Burda 2/2021 style 102 blouse in white tencel. This is the piece I’m least sure about. I picked the style because it’s the chopped off version of the dress just below, so saving tracing another pattern, and I felt I needed a loose fitting top in the mix, to be worn with the jeans and the leggings. If anything gets dropped it’ll probably be this one.

Burda 10/2012 style 119 wrap top in black John Kaldor Isabella wool jersey. This is to be worn as a layer under the v-necked dress and alone with the jeans.

Burda 2/2021 style 105 coatigan in black denim with light grey topstitching. To be worn as a warm layer over any of the outfits.

Burda 5/2008 style 110 utility dress in grey gaberchino. To be worn over the jersey t-shirt and leggings and maybe on its own in very warm weather. I like all the hardware and detailing on this one, although it makes it a difficult project.

Burda 2/2021 style 101 v neck kimono sleeved dress in grey tencel. This can be worn alone in the summer and over the wrap top and leggings the rest of the year.

Vogue 1378 Donna Karan pieced leggings (OOP). This is a remake of this project from 2014, which was worn until the fabric started to disintegrate. I’m going to try to use some black stretch fake leather I have lurking in stash, but it depends whether I can persuade my machine to do top-stitching on it: it’s very sticky. If it doesn’t work out I’ll use thin black neoprene instead like my original.

Burda 3/2020 style 119 straight legged jeans in black stretch denim from stash. I fell in love with susew’s version of these and they’ll go with all of the tops. I’m just hoping my piece of denim is large enough to fit them on; they’re fabric hogs.

Burda 4/2018 style 103 asymmetric trench-style coat in silver twill. This should work with all the outfits, and I have the fabric for this in stash – I’d already used it for two projects and liked it so much I bought the rest of the bolt with this coat in mind. Do I need yet another coat? No. But I can’t get this one out of my head. The style lines are similar to an Alexander McQueen design from a few years ago, although theirs has a double breasted button closure and Burda’s just wraps.

So that’s the plan at the moment. Unlike the last plan where all of the tops were intended to go with all of the bottoms, this time I’m aiming for layering possibilities. And as all pieces are in the same colour palette (or rather, lack of colour) as the last lot there should be quite a lot of crossover too.

Sewing top fives: goals

Last of the Sewing Top Fives of 2020: goals. I didn’t complete most of last year’s goals, so I’m setting the bar low for 2021.

I want to complete my sewing with a plan wardrobe. This should be achievable. There are three more garments to go. I already have fabric for the last pair of trousers, and I have the fabric and have even traced the pattern for the white blouse. The third piece is a simple Burda top that I’m having some doubts about now I’ve read a few reviews of it. I may replace that pattern with something else.

However I think I may have to make an extra wardrobe piece to replace the black blouse that didn’t fit. I’ve got a fairly basic Burda shirt pattern lined up for that. So maybe it’s four more pieces. That should take me until April or May. After that, all bets are off. I’m hoping the world will look quite different by then, and who knows what I’ll feel like sewing.

Sewing with a vague plan

Planning my sewing out in advance is anathema to me; I’m always being distracted by some inspirational image that crosses my path. In the past this led to the accumulation of patterns and fabric for many projects which never reached the machine. For the last couple of years I’ve had a rule of not purchasing anything more than one planned project in advance in order to control the stash, and until very recently this was serving me well.

And then I needed fabric for my next planned dress, and none of the online sources I’d identified were doing samples because of the pressures of Covid. So I gambled, and ordered two lengths of promising sounding fabric. Both were sensible basics: plain black non stretch medium weight wovens. My theory was that whichever one didn’t work for the dress would rapidly get used for trousers.

You can guess what happened. First it turned out I hadn’t read the fabric description on one of the fabrics properly. I thought it was non-stretch cotton denim, but it turned to be one of those ultra stretchy denims which are mostly man made fibres, so completely unsuitable for my plans. The other one was stable but far too heavy. But all was not lost; both would be good for trouser patterns. But I was still without fabric for the dress, which needed a tricky combination of characteristics: stable enough for making buttonholes and welt pockets, light enough to make pleats, and with enough body to support sticky out bits.

So it was back to the hunt. I identified two more possibilities, but still no one was doing samples. So I ordered both. And this time, both were suitable. But I wasn’t going to make the dress twice, so I now had three lengths of fabric left over. And the lid wouldn’t go on the box that holds my fabric stash.

Clearly it was time to mend my ways, so I started actually planning in the hope of avoiding any more accumulation. First of all I identified trouser patterns from my ‘want to sew’ list that would go with the new fabric. I have some medium weight non stretch black denim, some medium weight very stretchy black denim, and some heavy weight black cotton drill.

And then I looked for top halves to match them, all from patterns I already owned. I included my recently made OOP Vogue 1347 drawstring trousers in the planning for tops because I don’t have many cold weather tops that work with them.

And here is what I came up with.

The bottoms are (left to right) Burda 108 07/2018 pleated culottes for the heavy non stretch drill, my already made silver Vogue 1347 drawstring trousers, some sort of 70s style high waisted jeans for the stretch denim, I’m currently thinking Burda 118 04/2009, and Burda 106 02/2020 lantern trousers for the medium weight non stretch denim. Why those particular patterns? I don’t wear a lot of colour so I’m looking for unusual shapes. I’ve always fancied trying a hakama (Japanese pleated trousers), but they aren’t exactly practical for my lifestyle. The Burda culottes are a more wearable take on that look. The lantern trousers and the 70s jeans are other interesting shapes I don’t have in my wardrobe at the moment.

Then for tops (left to right) I have the overshirt with strap details from OOP Vogue 1347, to be made in black linen; Burda 116 01/2020 cropped sweater in black boiled wool; Burda 105 04/2018 dart front shirt in white cotton. These should all go with all the different trousers, and also my existing grey Merchant and Mills Strides and my grey Burda Oxford bags. I might add another of the Burda dart front shirts in black.

I’ve started sewing the Burda pleated culottes. Who knows whether I’ll manage to stick to rest of the plan! It is six new items, which will take about six months for me at my current rate. I doubt I’ll manage to avoid distractions for that long. On the plus side every single one is something I want to make in its own right; nothing is there just because it goes with something else. I’m quite excited about some of the combinations that will be possible. So fingers crossed.

Argh! On finding the right fabric

I always knew what fabric I was going to make my quilted winter coat out of: a silver foiled denim that I’d previously used for a pair of jeans. I had a couple of metres left in stash and it was still available from the original website so I was planning to buy a bit more to make up the necessary length. This is my original sample from when I made the jeans. It’s really bright silver on a black denim substrate.

Sample of foiled denim fabric

I’d carefully worked out the exact amount of extra to buy by laying all my pattern pieces out according to the width of the fabric and crawling around with a measuring tape.

Then doubt set in. The pattern recommendation is for ‘technical fabrics backed with batting’. I take ‘technical fabrics’ to mean those lightweight water resistant polyester and nylon things. Here’s the line drawing for the pattern so you have some idea of the sort of garment I’m talking about.

Burda 114/11/2019 quilted coat technical drawing

The denim is medium weight and not at all drapey. Would the quilting lines even show up? Would the whole thing be too heavy and stiff? I sent off for some samples of alternatives.

Sample of lame fabric from Minerva crafts
Sample of lame fabric from eBay
Sample of foiled viscose from Minerva Crafts

Here are all four fabrics together.

The three new ones are at the top. They are all described as lame, but in the top two the shine comes from metallic threads in the weave and the third one is a plain white fabric that’s been coated. The fourth (bottom one) in the picture is the original foiled denim.

The first two are definitely not suitable. They have a very crispy hand and are almost transparent.

The third one is very drapey – the base is a lightweight woven viscose – but at least it’s opaque. I was concerned about the lack of body through – I’ve got to sew a heavy zip and snaps to this thing. I’m not sure how you measure drapiness scientifically, but hanging it over a chopstick demonstrates the problem.

At this point I was seriously considering going in another direction altogether. Burda had made up the jacket length version of this pattern in a gorgeous velvet which seemed like a good alternative. I went down a rabbit hole searching for the perfect grey woven velvet but nothing quite fitted the bill.

So after days of agonising I went looking on Pinterest to see if quilted denim coats are even a thing, and if so what they look like. And actually I found quite a few. They aren’t as super puffy as the nylon sort, but they don’t look ridiculous. (Yes I appreciate that a silver coat is a fundamentally ridiculous garment. But I want the particular ridiculous look I’m aiming for, not a different one.)

So, greatly relieved to have made a decision, I went back to the original plan. You can no doubt guess the next bit. I went online to order the foiled denim fabric, only to find it has sold out. And I still hadn’t found any alternative I really liked.

Finally I came across an old sample I’d acquired last year of what I think is called a tonic fabric: it combines black and white yarns in a twill weave to give a shiny, almost metallic effect. It’s a cotton/acetate blend, it’s opaque, it has more body than the viscose, and most importantly the supplier still has it in stock. I leapt on it! It should arrive next week.

Winter coat musings

So about this time last year I was agonising over what pattern to choose for my winter coat. And the perhaps inevitable result was that I didn’t make a winter coat at all in the end but made my ancient version of Vogue 1276 last another year. The lining is destroyed and there are lots of shiny patches where the fabric nap has worn off but it’s still plenty warm. Just don’t look too closely.

But I’d still really like to replace it with something less scruffy. I am currently trying to decide between two patterns, neither of which was in the running last year. The first is (out of print) Vogue 1321, a Donna Karan design that I’ve got a copy of in my pattern stash.

I’m pretty sure the design is this one from her 2011 Fall collection, although it looks a different colour from the pattern envelope one. Anyway it ticks most of my boxes: it’s quite long, should be warm with all those yards of fabric in the skirt, and I love a dramatic collar.

One detail that’s not very apparent from the photos is the raw edge finish. This means using a fabric that won’t fray too badly; Melton or boiled wool probably.

Of course it’s not a perfect choice: the pattern is unlined. If I make this one I’m definitely going to have to add a lining. It’s unsurprisingly a complete fabric hog as well; something like four and a half metres of wide fabric.

My other choice is completely different and very new: the long padded coat from the November 2019 Burda. I’m showing the technical drawing and not the model photo because I don’t really care for the fabric they used for the sample. I’m also not sold on the ribbon tie, but that’s purely decorative and can be left off: there’s a zip and snaps as well.

Burda 114 11/2019 puffed coat line art

I think this would look great in a high shine metallic fabric – real science fiction vibes.

There are possible construction issues with this plan. Sewing the lines of top stitching on metallic fabric will be tricky. They are sewn through the shell fabric and a layer of batting, so there needs to be some way of preventing the batting from shifting. I can’t use pins because they will leave marks. I understand that basting spray for quilting is a thing, but I’ve also read that it doesn’t work well with high loft batting which is what this pattern needs. Maybe basting spray and then pins in the seam allowances? Anyone with experience of basting spray willing to advise?

I’m very torn as to which of these to pick. They’ll cost about the same and they’re both big projects. The Donna Karan is more classic, but the Burda is more fun. Decisions, decisions…

All The Burda Dresses project

I’ve been feeling a complete lack of sewing inspiration lately, while still really wanting to make things. Some kind of system for choosing projects seems like it might help with that. I have had a Burda subscription for quite a while and I know how to make their draft fit me, so I decided to sew my way through my favourite Burda dresses from the collection.

Obviously there are a lot of dress patterns to choose from in ten years of magazines. If I just put everything that caught my eye on to the list it would be completely impossible to get through it. So I narrowed it down by only including ones which either have pockets or are easy to add pockets to. After that I tried to analyse which are likely to suit my figure. I’ve been finding Doctor T’s series on Kibbe style types very interesting. No style typing system is ever going to work for everyone but this one is useful for me because I clearly fall into a particular Kibbe category and more importantly, I generally enjoy wearing the kinds of things Kibbe recommends for it. (Dramatic, if anyone’s interested: lots of long vertical lines, monochrome colour schemes, angular shapes).

Don’t worry I’m not about to go through the whole list of patterns right now…for one thing it’ll be deadly dull and for another I doubt I’ll actually manage to sew them all. But here are the first three. I’ve made one and two, and the third one is in progress.

The first one is 110 08/2017. It has long vertical lines so that’s an instant win. I added pockets hidden in the pleats across the skirt front. I bought shoulder pads (a Kibbe recommendation) but my fabric choice meant they’d be far too visible so I ended up not using them.

Burda 110 08/2017 line art

Here’s how it came out. It’s not perfect but it’s been getting a lot of wear.

Then there is 117 02/2012. At first sight this doesn’t look like an ideal selection according to Kibbe’s guidelines; there’s too much waist emphasis and it’s not long enough. But I’ve made it five times before and the versions done in solid colours have been firm favourites (the colour blocked one and the striped one, not so much). I think it works because of the angular seaming and v neck. I added pockets in the front seams and left off the shoulder tucks which gives a stronger line. Pictures of all that next week.

Burda 117 02/2012 line art

The one I’m working on now is 116 09/2018 which reminds me strongly of the white dress worn by the character Luv in Blade Runner 2049. So, erm, secret evil replicant cosplay.

Here’s Luv.

Luv from Blade Runner 2049 in a white dress

And here’s the Burda dress.

Burda 116 09/2018 line art

The lines of the dress are not quite the same: hers has a separate collar and the princess seams continue into the skirt; there may not even be a separate waistband section as it is always styled with a belt. But the overall shape is similar. I’m not making mine in white though, at least not for the first version. If it works I might do it again in white scuba just for fun.

I’ll keep posting about this as I work my through the list, although I’m certainly going to allow myself to sew other things in between – I still need a winter coat after all!

Pattern tweaks

I need to have pockets in clothes these days. I know a lot of people say they ruin the line and it’s just as easy to carry a handbag. But for me if a garment doesn’t have pockets it languishes in the wardrobe, unworn. And it often happens that I fall in love with a pattern that doesn’t have them and need to add them. This one is a case in point. It’s Burda 110B 08/2017. I found it when messing around with fantasy wardrobe plans earlier this year, and it hasn’t let go of me.

Burda 110b 08/2017 model photo

Sometimes it’s obvious where you can put pockets but this one’s a little difficult. Although the skirt is a basic pencil skirt shape with side seams, there are both pleats and gathering just where a side seam pocket would normally go.

The gathering means it also needs to be made in a fairly lightweight fabric. But as it’s close fitting that has the potential for showing off things I’d rather hide. So I’m going to add an underlining layer to give some extra coverage. My plan is to cut another set of skirt pieces but with the extra fabric for the pleats and the gathering removed. I’ll pleat and gather the outer pieces and then baste the inner pieces to the back of them.

But what about the pockets? Rather than trying to put them into that lumpy side seam I’m going to try to hide them inside the horizontal pleats. I’ve cut the outer front piece across the fold line of the middle pleat and added seam allowance, plus an extension on the top piece to form the back pocket bag. I would have added an extension to the bottom piece as well but I don’t have quite enough length of fabric to fit such a big pattern piece into the layout. Instead I’ve made a separate pattern piece for the front pocket bag that I should be able to fit elsewhere on my layout.

I’ve a feeling this one’s either going to be a triumph or a complete disaster. Wish me luck.

Burda Fantasy wardrobe planning

My sewing output isn’t what it used to be and consequently I’ve been concentrating on making practical clothes. But I’ve been enjoying making fantasy wardrobe sewing plans lately. The ‘sewing with a plan’ challenges I’ve seen up to now haven’t worked for me – the rules never produce the type of things I like to wear – but I’ve come up with my own personal challenge that I’ve been having fun with. The idea is to take a Burda magazine pattern collection and find suitable fabrics to make it up into a coherent capsule wardrobe. That’s really all there is to it.

Burda has done some collections I really love over the years: Hong Kong Garden from February 2012, Big Picture from November 2013 and New Shapes from September 2010 (the patterns for that last one are on the website but there’s no page for the collection as a whole.) But when I come to look at any of those three as the basis of a capsule wardrobe they aren’t very satisfactory: the separates don’t work together, or there are several pieces of outerwear and not a lot to go underneath them. So sadly they were all non-starters.

Right now I’m going with Ready for Business from August 2017. It’s fairly small – eight patterns – and has a good mix of pieces: three dresses, a coat, a skirt, one pair of trousers and two tops, both of which work with the skirt and the trousers. I don’t understand the title because it doesn’t look very office formal to me, but then I don’t work in an office with a dress code, so that’s all to the good.

On to the fun bit: picking colours and fabrics! I mostly wear black, white, and grey and try to stick to one colour head to toe if wearing separates. I often wear yellow shoes and handbag, so I needed colours that won’t fight with yellow.

Starting with a couple of the dresses:

110b 08/2017 is for lightweight knits. Burda’s version is stunning in white, which I’m quite tempted by, but I think it would be most practical in black. I’d use viscose-elastase jersey which is easy to find in black.

111b 08/2017 is a 60s style dress with a beautiful boat neck. Burda’s version is in wool jersey but that’s practically impossible to come by around here. I see this made up in black boiled wool which is a lot easier to source.

Moving on to the separates there’s 112a 08/2017, a boxy top, and 101 08/2017, a long narrow skirt with an interesting feature zip. I’d make both of these up in the same black boiled wool as the 60s dress, with a really nice shiny metal zip for the skirt, to make a two-piece dress. The boxy top could also be worn separately over the ruched jersey dress for a bit of extra warmth. I don’t think the top’s neckline is compatible with the 60s dress neckline though.

The other separates are 104 08/2017, a knit top with a wide drapey collar, and 121 08/2017, narrow trousers with unusual chevron shaped pockets and ankle zips. I’d make the top in the same black jersey as the ruched dress, and use black ponte knit for the trousers. They could be worn together or mixed with the black boiled wool separates.

That’s an awful lot of black. The last two items are where I’d break out into something more exciting. The last dress, 109a 08/2017, is a classic wrap dress which needs a stretchy knit. I’d make this in zebra print jersey. It’s not as easy to find as leopard print but I’ve located three options online in the UK so I think it’s viable.

And finally the coat, 108 08/2017. Everything else is so neutral that this is a safe place to go wild with colour. The original pattern calls for non-fraying fabric for a raw edge finish but it shouldn’t be hard to adjust for something more conventional. I’ve got my eye on some cerise wool/poly melton for this one. I also found a bubblegum pink wool coating. And my third option is non-fraying: a weird and wonderful silver mesh faced neoprene-alike fabric.

I estimate that’s at least six months worth of sewing for me so I doubt I’ll make all (or any!) of these up for real. But it’s fun to plan, and I am wondering if I could get away with a bright pink coat over a zebra print dress or if I’d look like a madwoman.

Top five of 2018: goals

top 5 of 2018 logo

Time for the last of the Sewing Top Five of 2018: Goals. Once again I haven’t got a tidy list of five things but I do have a big project in the early planning stages so I’ll talk about that.

A few years ago I made a winter coat from Vogue 1276. It was my first attempt at coat making but it was such a success I’m still using it. It’s starting to show its age though: the lining has ripped around the armscyes and the nap has worn off at the wrists and where I fasten the belt. Incidentally, what is it about coat linings ripping at the armscyes? Every coat I have ever had, whether ready to wear or home made, has done this. I’ve tried reinforcing the seam with tape and using stretch lining but it still happens. Anyone know how to prevent this?

So I need a new coat. I have been looking for a pattern for a while. It needs to be long: below knee length. It also needs to have a proper closure which wraps over; so many coat patterns close edge to edge which is no use in the cold. And I would prefer it to be fairly streamlined and unfussy in shape.

I think I have it down to three.

First is Burda 107 10/2011 : an ankle length double breasted coat.

I’m not wild about the buttons; I think I’d replace them with snaps. I like the size of the pockets, but patch pockets aren’t great for putting your hands in.

Then there’s the option of repeating Vogue 1276. I’d link to the pattern but it’s out of print now.

The only reason I’m dithering is I’m not sure it’s absolutely the most flattering style for me. But people often ask me where I got my current one,which is always nice! I know the pattern works and it is already traced and adjusted. And I would also like to improve on the construction I did last time. I remember being very annoyed that the pattern said to sew in the sleeve lining entirely by hand and gave the reason that it was too complicated to explain how to do it by machine. Since then I’ve learnt how to bag linings and I suspect I could make this without needing to hand sew anything.

Finally, Burda 120 10/2017 . Another one I can’t link to, unfortunately.

This seems to be a magazine exclusive; I can’t find it on the English language Burda site at all. It is one of their ‘designer’ patterns. Now obviously the colours it’s shown in are not going to be suitable for the rainy, muddy UK winter. And even if I could pick three other colours that would work, it’s doubtful I could find the chosen three in matching coating fabrics. But I think this pattern might be successful made up in one fairly light colour with top stitching to emphasise the seams. A grey would be practical and still allow the seams to be seen. But it’s a four dot pattern (Burda’s highest difficulty; there are very few of those) and there are no reviews of it that I can find, so I’m not sure what I’d be letting myself in for here. And yet I keep coming back to this one.

I’ve been going round in circles about choosing for weeks. I really want to make the last one but it’s very risky. The Vogue is a safe but slightly boring choice. And the other Burda ticks all the right boxes but somehow doesn’t thrill me. So I guess my goal is to have chosen a new winter coat before winter is actually over!