Sewing with a plan post mortem: part three

Part three of my wardrobe sewing plan review. This week I’m looking at combinations involving the flared jeans, Burda 118 04/2009. Here are the line drawings of all the patterns used.

First with the black Burda blouse, 113 02/2010. I go back and forth on this combination. The big collar and flares are very 70s. I’m not sure the proportions work very well with the blouse untucked though.

With the linen overshirt with bands from Vogue 1347. This is a similar length to the previous blouse, but I think the extra width makes it work better. And the bands add a lot of interest; the trousers on their own are fairly plain.

With the white darted blouse, Burda 105 04-2018. I think this one works as an outfit, but for me it’s a strange halfway house between being dressed up and being casual. Can’t see myself reaching for this combination very often. I don’t need to dress up for work and if I did I would wear something smarter than jeans.

Finally with the short Burda sweater, 112 11-2015, (and a water pistol, because there’s a small child armed with his own water pistol firing at me from just out of shot). This one’s my favourite; the shorter top is better proportioned than the long ones. The rise couldn’t be any shorter for this though or there would be a gap!

These are definitely a success; I wear them about once a week. They’re good for active days. The fit is great and the stretchy denim makes them fairly comfortable to wear.

Sewing with a plan post mortem: part 2

On with reviewing the success (or not!) of my wardrobe sewing plan. This week I’m looking at combinations involving the pleated culottes, Burda 108 07/2018. Here are all the line drawings, now updated to include the two patterns I substituted.

Here are the culottes with the black blouse, Burda 113 02/2010. I think this works as an outfit but it’s not entirely me; at least not with these shoes. To my eye it’s too formal and has a bit of a vintage vibe. Substituting chunky boots or trainers might make it more modern. I think it could also go in the librarian-chic direction with an interesting necklace and handbag, but that’s definitely not me! The pointy cuffs and collar harmonise well with with the pleats though.

Next with the white blouse, Burda 105 04/2018. This blouse is slightly softer with the puffed lower sleeve but still has the geometric darts at centre front. I think the heels and jewellery help the look. Maybe a bit Carolina Herrera, or am I kidding myself? But much as I love her style, it’s not me either. White is definitely more flattering to the complexion than black though!

With the black cropped sweater, Burda 112 11/2015 and big boots. This looks much more modern. It’s weighty rather than the previous two somewhat dainty combinations. Despite the cropped sweater there’s no real waistline; I think if the sweater was a little shorter still it would change the feel a lot. I like this one a lot and have worn it a few times.

With the Vogue 1347 linen overshirt with the dangling appliqued bands and the boots again. It was a cold day so I’m wearing the shirt over a high necked wool t-shirt.

And below with a better view of the bands.

This one is a lot of look, what with the bands and the pleats, but it’s my favourite. Lots of straight lines.

I also wear the culottes with my black wool jersey t shirt and my grey kimono style cardigan. They seem to go with a wide variety of shoes as well.

The downside about these is that they need a lot of ironing. Although I edge stitched the pleat folds down they still need a good press after washing to make them sharp.

I can’t see myself making these again, at least until this pair wears out, because of the high maintenance requirements. But they are very versatile and I really enjoy wearing them.

Thanks to my husband for the photos.

Sewing with a plan post mortem: part 1

Time to see how well my wardrobe sewing plan worked. I started this back in October 2020 so it’s been a substantial investment of time and energy. I planned to include eight garments planned, one of which had already been made. Here’s the original plan. Two garments are shown both front and back so there are ten pictures. All the tops were supposed to go with all the bottoms, giving sixteen combinations in all.

I ended up swapping out the boxy Burda sweater (centre top) for a more fitted sweater after reading about how oversized the sleeves on the original choice are. I made the rightmost blouse but the fit was so bad I replaced it with a different longline blouse, which didn’t have the puffy sleeves.

Today I’m planning to look at how the combinations involving the first pair of trousers worked out. These are the wide legged drawstring trousers from OOP Vogue 1347. My original post about them is here. I’d made these before I even had the idea of sewing a wardrobe, and originally I’d planned for them to be a summer garment worn mainly with t shirts. Putting them with the wardrobe items should extend the wear seasons to spring and autumn, although these aren’t really heavy enough for winter. So, how did it work?

First paired with the fancy linen shirt from the same pattern envelope:

Weirdly this is one of the least successful combinations, even though the two patterns were designed to go together. The baggy top and baggy trousers together end up looking sloppy to my mind. The proportions also shorten the leg, which isn’t good on me as I have a proportionately long torso and shorter legs to start with. I’m convinced the Vogue pattern envelope model is wearing enormous heels. And interestingly this is a designer pattern, and the only photo of the pieces I’ve found from the original designer collection had both of them done in very fluid satin as lounging pyjamas and not linen like the Vogue version. They were also photographed from knee level, which tends to make the legs look longer. So while I like both of these pieces a lot, definitely not when worn together.

Here are the trousers with the black blouse. It’s another long top so I styled it with the blouse open to try to avoid the leg shortening effect. This combination is OK – not my favourite, but I can see myself throwing the blouse on over the trousers and a t shirt to protect myself from the sun.

Here it is with the white blouse. I think this pair is a lot better than the previous two. The proportions are better and the eye is drawn to the bright white blouse rather than the trousers. The yellow trainers are fun too.

Finally with the cropped sweater (and needing a press!) Having the darker colour on the top half is worse, but the overall proportions are better so it still works. And with leggings under the trousers this one is good for cold days.

So in total two good outfits, one passable, and one no. The most useful combination is definitely the last one because it’s warm.

The silver trousers also get a certain amount of wear paired with a plain black t shirt and my beloved boiled wool kimono-style cardigan. They are definitely a success. The only thing I’d change about them is that I wish they didn’t need ironing.

All photos by my husband.

The end at last: Burda 113 2/2010 blouse

A woman in a black blouse and black jeans

Here it is, the very last item in my original wardrobe sewing plan. This blouse is Burda 113 2/2010. It’s a replacement for Vogue 9299, which was my original choice for a black blouse. I had fit problems with the Vogue and I don’t wear it much. I’m hoping this one will be more of a wardrobe staple.

Here’s the technical drawing. I normally find Burda’s line art very accurate, but I’m not convinced this one gives a good idea of the finished garment. The blouse in the line art looks a lot more boxy and the exaggerated collar and cuffs don’t come across. I like my version, but it isn’t quite what I was expecting to end up with.

Technical drawing of Burda 113 2/2010, burdastyle.ru

I did make a few alterations to the pattern: I added my normal amount of length and did a broad and square shoulder adjustment. This had the handy side effect of removing all the ease from the armscye seam. My books say I’m supposed to add it back by making the sleeve cap higher, but I dislike easing sleeves so I didn’t. My arm mobility is still fine. Admittedly I probably overdid the shoulder adjustments and the shoulders have ended up a bit exaggerated, but I like that look, so win-win. I also did a concealed button placket and added a yoke.

The fabric is a polycotton poplin from Minerva Crafts. I was deliberately looking for a polycotton blend for the crease resistance; as it’s black I don’t have to worry about it discolouring.

The buttons are old ones from my button box. This blouse uses a lot – thirteen in all. Amazingly I managed to find a set of thirteen that matched before I started sewing. As I knew I definitely had enough buttons I sewed the buttonholes and added the buttons on the collar stand which I wouldn’t normally bother with. Then when I came to deal with the cuffs I realised a button had gone missing at some point, probably when testing buttonhole sizing. And just before we took these pictures I found another one had dropped off the blouse and had to replace it with a slightly different one, so my matched set is now two down.

Back view of a woman wearing a black blouse and jeans

The cuffs are pretty dramatic with those points. They are the style that needs cuff links – the buttons are just joined in pairs to make links – so I could always get proper cuff links and use a cuff button to replace the odd one out on the placket.

I added a yoke to the design because I like having the extra structure that comes from the double layer at the upper back. Then I had a moment of doubt: all the shirts in the house with yokes have back pleats, not darts. Maybe having a yoke and darts is some kind of offence against traditional shirt styling. Too late now anyway.

There’s an interesting little detail in this pattern that isn’t visible in Burda’s images: a small triangular gusset in the side seam where it runs into the curved hem. Not a lot of trouble to sew and reinforces a stress point.

The side seam of a shirt with a gusset

I’m wearing it with my flared jeans from the plan here for a slightly 70s look, but of course there are several other combinations. My husband has been patiently photographing the various outfits from the sewing plan so I’ve got some more blog posts planned on how well it all works together.

However considered on its own I think this is a success: the basic shape is good and the slightly exaggerated details add a bit of interest. I’ve never been much good at accessorising so it helps if clothes have interesting features.

Thanks to my husband for taking the photos.

A woman wearing a black blouse and jeans standing in front of a green door

Burda 112 11/2015 sweater

A woman in a black sweater made from Burda 112 11/2015

I’m on the home stretch now. This is the penultimate garment in my vague wardrobe sewing plan, Burda 112 11/2015. It’s a close-fitting sweater with French darts and a fairly cropped length. Here’s the line art, strangely with one arm cut off.

Technical drawing for Burda 112 11/2015 sweater, burdastyle.ru

This is the ‘extra pattern in pink’ for the 11/2015 issue of Burda. There are detailed illustrated instructions and the pattern pieces are supposed to be extra easy to trace: they’re shaded to make them easy to find and they don’t overlap. And it’s a simple pattern to start with: only five pieces. Should have been straightforward, right? Wrong. Perhaps I have developed the Burda version of Stockholm Syndrome, but I had more problems with the easy to trace pink pattern pieces than I do with the regular ones. Having the pieces not overlap meant I had two giant pattern sheets to iron and wrestle with instead of one, and somehow I managed to trace the wrong hemline on the front piece despite the shading. I didn’t discover that mistake until after I’d cut out the fabric, and had to hastily make a hem facing from the leftovers, or this would have been a very cropped sweater indeed. I normally take care to check patterns after I trace them but I must have skipped that step this time.

The pattern is designed for fulled loden fabric, which doesn’t fray at all. No seams to finish! Mine’s made up in a gorgeous wool/polyester blend sweater knit from Minerva Crafts. Now I look at the website again I think I used the official ‘wrong side’ of the fabric as my right side. It has a smooth side where you can see the knit stitches, and a brushed side which looks like fleece. I didn’t want a fluffy jumper so I used the smooth side.

Like fulled loden this fabric doesn’t fray, but I suspect it’s stretchier. It sewed up very nicely on my regular sewing machine with a 90 ballpoint needle and a slight zigzag stitch. I didn’t use the overlocker at all. I hemmed it and caught down the neck facing using the sewing machine stretch blind hem stitch; it’s such thick fabric it was very quick and easy to do.

Here’s the back view. That centre back seam provides a lot of the shaping.

Back view of a woman wearing a black sweater

I had a bit of trouble with the hem flaring out. Maybe I stretched it out when sewing on the facing or perhaps it was a side effect of whatever went wrong with my tracing, but I had to unpick and take the bottom in a lot at both the side and back seams. Otherwise the fit is great. This is my usual Burda size and the only pattern adjustment I made was adding my usual extra 5cm length. I did debate going down a size because of the extra stretch in the fabric, but I’m glad I didn’t.

I think I’m going to be wearing this a lot. Thanks to my husband for the pictures as usual.

A woman in a black sweater and black cocoon trousers

Cocoon trousers: Burda 106 02/2020

A woman wearing black cocoon trousers and a black t shirt stands in a garden

This is the last of the trouser patterns from my vague wardrobe sewing plan. It’s the one I was least confident about because I’ve never worn cocoon-shaped trousers before and part of me suspected they might be rather unflattering. However the pattern’s attractive model photos won me over.

The pattern is Burda 106 02/2020 and it comes in two versions, both made in very lightweight and summery looking fabric, which is odd for a February issue. However on the Russian Burda site there are some versions made by fans in denim which looked much more practical.

Here’s the line art:

Burda 106 02/2020 line art, burdastyle.ru

Now I look closely at the technical drawing I realise I didn’t make the waistband closure on mine the way Burda did: my overlap finishes at centre front like a pair of jeans would. I wasn’t really following the instructions while sewing though. I prefer a different order of construction for trousers than Burda’s standard method because I find it easiest to sew the fly closure as early as possible in the process. Burda tends to leave it almost to the last.

I made them up in a black mediumweight 100% cotton denim from Empress Mills. I was a bit concerned about how the pleats would look in denim, but they seem fine. I did the top-stitching in a light grey shade: Gutermann 40, mainly because I had a couple of spools of it around and wanted something contrasting to highlight the section seams. In another case of not reading the instructions carefully I’d got the impression these were meant to have a self fabric belt, and made one up despite the puzzling lack of any pattern piece for it. In fact it turns out the ‘belt’ in the magazine version is just a length of purchased ribbon.

The welt pockets have come out well. I normally make a sample out of scraps before tackling welt pockets to remind me how they work and to figure out any issues with the fabric. But I’d managed to cut these out so efficiently I didn’t have any decent sized scraps left to use, and I didn’t want to cut into the leftover yardage for a throwaway sample. So full speed ahead without a test run it was, and luckily it worked out.

Closeup of black denim trousers with welt pockets, self belt, and pleats

One thing I’m not very keen on with these is the back view. They have a real case of coffin back. Maybe patch pockets would improve things. The original Burda version doesn’t even have a top-stiched hem to relieve the montony, but I had plenty of thread left and thought it might add some interest to top-stitch mine. I’m wishing I’d top-stitched the back ankle darts now too.

On the subject of the hem, these are unusually short for Burda trousers. When tracing the pattern I added more length to the leg than I normally do, and still ended up sewing the hem facings with the tiniest seam allowance I could in order to squeeze out extra length.

They’re very comfortable, being so baggy. I can see these being a go-to for days when I have to go into the office and do something physical. Thanks to my husband for the photos!

Burda 105 04/2018 blouse

Burda 105 04/2018 white blouse front view

Here’s the latest item in my sewing with a vague plan project: a white blouse made from Burda 105 04/2018. I never used to wear shirts or blouses at all, and then I realised that a white shirt collar is surprisingly flattering. Something to do with reflecting light onto the face, maybe? Any shirt pattern will do, but this one has got some particularly nice details: the radiating darts on the front, the slanted waist seam, and the big sleeves.

Burda 105 04/2018 blouse line art, burdastyle.ru

I changed the front to have a hidden button placket because there’s enough going on there already with all the darts. I also did a wide shoulder adjustment after my disappointing experience with Vogue 9299, which has a similar shape, and added my usual extra 5cm of length to the bodice and sleeves. I didn’t try to move the bust darts down, but I’m thinking I probably should have – or maybe done a full bust adjustment? But there really ought to be enough room in my regular Burda size without that.

The fit still isn’t quite right, with a bit of pulling over the chest if I raise my arms. I think to some extent that can’t be avoided in a very fitted style like this, and it certainly sits OK when I have my arms by my side.

Burda 105 04/2018 blouse in white cotton poplin, front view closeup

This pattern has a really high sleeve cap and a narrow upper arm. It also has an absolute ton of sleeve cap ease which I lazily didn’t remove, and then regretted when I had huge difficulty setting in the sleeves. As you can see, I did not succeed in getting nice smooth sleeve caps.

Burda 105 04/2018 blouse in white cotton poplin, side view closeup on shoulder

The hem was a pain in the neck too because it’s so curved. Pretty, but I burnt my fingers a few times turning it up! It’s not very even either; I should have gone for bias tape. In fact this whole project wasn’t my best ever sewing. The mess I made of the collar stand is fortunately invisible with the collar turned down.

Burda 105 04/2018 blouse in white cotton poplin, side view

I like the back pleat. It gives the back view a bit of interest, and the extra mobility is welcome. And this is a nice shot of the sleeves, which have come out surprisingly subdued given how much fabric there is in the lower half.

Burda 105 04/2018 blouse in white cotton poplin, back view

The fabric is 100% cotton poplin from Croft Mill. Being pure cotton I’m hoping it will wear well and not develop that yellow tinge that cotton blends often seem to. I interfaced the collar, cuffs, and front band with Vilene F220 and sewed it with a size 80 universal needle. Pictures courtesy of my very patient husband as usual.

Burda 105 04/2018 white blouse front view

Getting in a flap: Vogue 1347 shirt

Back to sewing with a plan. This is the shirt from OOP Vogue 1347 made up in black linen. This is a Ralph Rucci design so it has tonnes of top-stitching and is beautifully finished on the inside. When I was getting ready to make it I threaded up the overlocker to finish the seams, and then realised I needn’t have bothered because there isn’t a single exposed seam allowance in this pattern. They’re all flat felled, bias bound, or hidden under folded and top-stitched bands. Needless to say it took a long time to make.

Here’s the technical drawing. The obviously interesting bit is of course the bands. But the sleeves are worth a look too; the top sleeve is cut in one with the front and back yoke. There’s a dart where a shoulder seam would normally be. The whole piece is on the bias so it curves nicely over the shoulder. This caused me a problem making my usual sleeve length additions: the lengthened bias piece only just squeezed into the width of my fabric. Incidentally I think there’s a problem with the body lengthen/shorten lines on the pattern: they were missing on one piece so things would have gone horribly wrong if they were followed blindly.

Vogue 1347 technical drawing, patternreview.com

I do like a pattern where the back view has some interest. Not 100% sure of the best way to wear those back bands though. The technical drawing shows them hanging loose but I’ve been wearing them knotted to hide the slight mismatch of levels where I sewed them down on each side. Oops.

The fabric is 100% linen. It was lovely to sew and press, but it had some little holes in it. I noticed one when cutting out and managed to cut around it, but to my horror I found two more in the shirt after I’d sewn most of it. I fixed them up by putting a small patch behind and doing triple zigzag over the top, and they’re practically invisible now. I’ve only seen with linen once before so not sure if this is common or if I just got unlucky?

I’m on the fence about the flappy bands. They look fantastic, but I find I need to be a bit careful not to sit on them as they crease horribly. The ones on the arms are not as annoying as I expected though. As they dangle from the elbow they mostly stay out of the way.

I’m wearing it with the trousers from the same pattern here. I haven’t been able to find any pictures of the exact original garment besides what is on the pattern envelope which is a shame – I like to see how the original was styled! The closest I found is this ensemble from Resort 2012 which looks like the same two patterns but made up in black satin rather than linen. More like very glamorous pjs than proper daywear.

Ralph Rucci Resort 2012 look 19, vogue.com

Although I haven’t worn it a lot yet I am liking this one. It looks really good with my black pleated culottes. Currently I’m putting a warm knit and several t shirts underneath but it should work worn on its own for a UK summer too. But this is definitely not a pattern to make more than once; it took about a month. Standards were definitely slipping by the end. I’ll enjoy wearing it but I need to make something a lot simpler next.

Thanks to my husband for pictures as ever!

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.

The best laid plans go awry: Vogue 9299

This blouse is from Vogue 9299. It’s part of my wardrobe sewing plan but in this case the plan didn’t survive contact with the reality of fabric and the pattern. I wanted a slightly fancy black blouse to wear with my flared jeans and pleated culottes; not massively frilly but definitely feminine. The huge puffed sleeves and sash on view D seemed to fit the bill nicely. It’s the striped one the model is wearing on the pattern envelope.

Vogue 9299 envelope art, somethingdelightful.com

I was planning to make it in solid black and ordered 3m of wide cotton poplin. I’m now fairly sure I received the wrong fabric: it’s a lawn rather than a poplin and is much narrower than the one I was expecting. Unfortunately I didn’t spot it right away. Three metres of black shirting fabric arrived, I washed it, put it away, and only noticed the width when I pulled it out again to make up the blouse. It was far too late to do anything about it by then. I ended up shortening the pattern 20cm in order to fit it onto the fabric. The very lightweight lawn worked well for the sleeve gathering though, and I’m not convinced the longer length would have been easy to wear, so nothing was lost.

What didn’t work out is the fit. I am lucky enough to fit into Vogue’s standard sizing without needing a tonne of adjustments, but there’s no denying that the shoulders on this are far too narrow for me. Admittedly I adjusted the pattern to include a hidden button placket, but the collar still fits into the neckline so I am sure my adjustments aren’t the cause of the problem.

There is another annoyance with the pattern which is that there are no notches make sure you get the cuffs the right way around. Or if there are, I completely missed them. The slit in the sleeve which allows the cuff to open is just the open end of the underarm seam. I was honestly a bit puzzled as to which side the buttonhole went on and which the button. There were no RTW examples to be found in the house to check. I followed the very tiny technical drawings on the envelope to try to get things the right way round, but now I’m wearing the blouse I’m not even convinced the drawing way is the right way. No one’s going to notice if it is wrong, it’s just an annoyance.

Here is the back view. Apart from the shoulders there is plenty of room. I haven’t got a picture of it without the sash, but it’s voluminous.

I was hoping to be able to wear it tucked in as well as loose, but looking at the picture below I’m not entirely sure it works, at least not with my flared jeans.

When I finished this I was a bit disappointed with the results. I’ve worn it once since then, with wide legged trousers, and really enjoyed the big sleeves and the feeling of being slightly fancy. So I’m on the fence right now. Honest opinions welcome!