A woman wearing a grey sweatshirt and cargo trousers stands in front of a green fence

What’s in a name? Grey sweatshirt: Burda 121 02/2016

A woman in a grey sweatshirt

I’ve called this grey top a sweatshirt but I have a feeling it’s not quite the right word. It sounds entirely too sporty and energetic. But it’s definitely not a sweater, and has no hood so not a hoodie. Maybe the line art will help?

Line art of a sweatshirt
Burda 121 02/2016 line art, burdastyle.ru

This isn’t part of any of my wardrobe plans, but it was made to fill in a wardrobe gap. I made the grey cargo trousers in the pictures a couple of years ago, but I lack cold weather tops that go with them. I wanted something with some detailing to echo all the bits and pieces on the trousers and this one from Burda seemed to fit the bill. I’ve made it in grey scuba from Minerva. The zips, drawstring cord, and cord stops were from eBay. I went for silver hardware to match the zips on the cargo trousers. The eyelets were some gunmetal coloured ones I had left over from another project, but they aren’t very visible.

The main feature of this top is the high collar. It’s two layers of fabric but no interfacing. I was a bit concerned it would collapse completely, but the drawstring helps a lot in giving it some shape.

The zip detail on the collar was a lot of fuss to sew. The exposed zips are set into section seams so there’s the bulk of a seam allowance to deal with at the bottom of the zip slot. Burda provided unusually detailed instructions for using scraps of lining to face the end of the slot, with pictures, but I’m not entirely convinced by their method. You use a scrap of lining to face the slot on each side of the seam before actually sewing up the section seam. This means you have to match the bottoms of the slot perfectly or the lining shows. I did an OK job but one side is off by about a millimetre and it annoys me. Next time I’d sew the section seam first, to just above the end of the slot, and then face the slot. No danger of mismatched ends that way.

A woman wearing a grey sweatshirt pulling the collar up

One slightly unexpected feature of this garment is the padded sleeve hem bands. I didn’t notice them on the line art or the model photos, and missed that wadding was on the notions list. It was only when I got to the bit on the instructions where they tell you to stuff it into the bands that I realised. I had some wadding scraps so I added the padding, but I’m not really sure what its purpose is. It gives the rather skinny sleeve bands some dimension, but that’s about it.

A woman wearing grey stands with her back to the viewer

This is a Tall pattern so I didn’t lengthen it. I probably should have done; according to the size chart I should still be adding a couple of centimetres. But it was so nice to trace something out and not have to hack it about. The sleeves do feel the tiniest bit short but the body length is fine. Next time I think I’d make the sleeve bands a bit wider and that would be enough.

A woman wearing a grey sweatshirt and cargo trousers

This fills a long-standing wardrobe hole. Unfortunately I don’t think I have much else it will go with other than the cargo trousers. Maybe my silver Vogue 1247 skirt or the silver Vogue 1347 trousers. It’s a bit too casual for most of my other trousers.

Thanks to my husband for the photos.

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

Adventures with reflective fabric

A while ago my husband asked if I could make him a top out of high visibility fabric for running in the evenings. Not something I’d ever sewed with before. A bit of research revealed that stretch reflective fabric is seriously pricey stuff. So I started out buying a pack of samples from Hello Reflectives, whose website I’d bookmarked some time ago. I received a mixture of wovens and knits. There’s quite a range of weights and textures, but as you’d expect most of them have a plasticky hand and very little drape; I wouldn’t want to wear many of the types next to my skin. The knits with reflective prints are drapey but not super stretchy – it’s the nature of the printing. Fine for a loose fitting running top though.

We eventually decided on a printed knit in a design that didn’t come in the sample pack, and when I ordered it they threw in another, slightly different, pack of samples. So my photos are of a combination of the two sample packs plus a bit of the fabric I actually bought.

These are the wovens (except the perforated one). Mostly quite light weight, plasticky, very little drape. Think of oilcloth. They’d be good for things like raincoats or bags.

Mostly woven samples from Hello Reflectives, right side up, natural light
Mostly woven samples from Hello Reflectives, right side up, flash
Mostly woven samples from Hello Reflectives, wrong sides

These are the knits. The three printed ones are quite drapey and would be OK to wear against the skin. The fully coated knits are much heavier, have very little stretch, and don’t drape; they’d be good for outerwear. I quite fancy making a jacket in that silvery grey one, but I’m not sure I’d dare wear it.

Knit samples from Hello Reflectives, right sides, natural light
Knit samples from Hello Reflectives, right sides, flash
Knit samples from Hello Reflectives, wrong sides (except the circuit board print which I forgot to turn over, oops)

We picked the circuit board print in the end. They have a few other prints in the same silver on black effect but this design is their best option for an all over print in my opinion. Some of the other designs have pattern repeats with very obvious edges, so they’d be better as accents.

The fabric was supposed to be very narrow so I had to order two metres, but what arrived was so much wider than advertised that I was able to get two tops out of it. I was a bit concerned about washing the fabric – the website says not to wash it hotter than 30 degrees, but realistically you can’t be precious about exercise gear. I washed a sample on my normal 40 degree cycle and it came out OK. I’m guessing it will probably shorten the life of the fabric to keep washing at 40, but that’s life. So far it’s holding up fine.

The pattern is a tracing of an old t shirt that my husband likes the fit of. I was intending to use something from Burda, but would you believe in ten years of back issues there isn’t a single pattern for a loose fitting men’s t shirt.

Having enough fabric for two tops meant that I could treat the first one as a trial run. I had to reshape the neckline a lot on that version, but it ended up wearable. It’s certainly bright.

Reflective print t shirt back view, electric light
Reflective t shirt back view, flash

So overall a success. And they’re certainly getting a lot of wear in the current dark evenings.

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

And now for something a little different

Burda 121 04 2020

Continuing with the blogging about frivolous sewing, because I need a break from thinking about the real world. This unusual t-shirt design is from the April 2020 Burda. It’s style 121 which is the Trend pattern for the month. It reminds me of various Vivienne Westwood designs, and also some of the Drape Drape patterns. Here’s the technical drawing.

Burda 121 04 2020

The pattern is unusual in that there is only one pattern piece. It is cut twice, but with both pieces oriented the same way up, not mirrored as pattern pieces are normally cut. Here is the pattern piece. I’ve made my usual length additions so it’s not quite shaped like Burda’s.

The model photo made me think of a piece of fabric that’s been lurking in my stash for a long time. It’s a lightweight single knit with wide grey and black stripes, and a silver glitter coating over that on the right side which makes it look like dark and light silver stripes. I bought it on Goldhawk Road many years ago and foolishly only got 1.5m. Even though it was a generous cut that worked out more like 1.8m I’ve never found anything to do with it – if I’d bought a little bit more I would have had loads of options. The Burda pattern calls for 2.1m but that is for a with-nap layout. By rotating the pattern piece 180 degrees before cutting the second copy I was able to get it out of the shorter length.

I know in general one should always use a with-nap layout for knits, especially ones with a sheen, but I think this pattern is busy enough that any difference between front and back will be lost in the noise.

Burda 101B 06/2016

Marmite top: Burda 101B 06/2016

Burda 101B 06/2016

Don’t laugh, but this simple creation was originally inspired by an awesome Rei Kawakubo sweater from the 1980s. I’d post a picture but I haven’t been able to find one that’s definitely legal to use on a blog. I encourage you to click the link to see it! Anyway it’s black, knitted, very rectangular in shape, and has panels that weave over and under each other. I considered trying to knit something similar before sanity prevailed and I realised that what I actually wanted was a boxy black knit top with some interesting texture and no complicated knitting was required.

I came across this unusual sweater knit from Empress Mills while browsing their website. It’s loosely knitted in a wide rib pattern. And that seemed to go quite nicely with Burda 101B 06/2016, a simple kimono sleeved top designed to show off stripes.

Burda 101B 06/2016 garment photo

Burda’s stripe placement is fine for striped fabric but mine has raised ribs which I think would look peculiar running parallel to the hem, so I put the horizontal ribs on the top half and the vertical ones on the bottom. Cutting it out was a challenge. I knew it would be obvious if the ribs weren’t perfectly aligned so I made full sized pattern pieces and cut it single layer instead of on the fold. That took up a lot of paper and space.

I went all the the place with sizing. The top half is cut in the largest size the pattern came in, and the lower body in my usual size. This was in order to get a bit more depth over the bust because on all the model photos the horizontal seam seems to be too high. I also didn’t add any length to the lower body when normally I would need at least 5cm. I wanted this to be fairly cropped. I wish I’d straightened the side seam. This is one of those patterns that can be a dress or a top depending on where you hem it, and so it’s got a bit of waist shaping for the dress version that the top doesn’t need.

Burda 101B 06/2016

The original pattern has a turned and stitched edge at the neckline but I made deep facings and blind hemmed them to the body to make sure they stay put.

I was really pleased with it when I finished it and put it on with my black asymmetric wool skirt. The next morning I put it on with my black wool trousers and hated it. I switched to my black jeans and loved it again. The black jeans are what I’m wearing in these photos.

Burda 101B 06/2016