My 80s wardrobe plan has been on hold for a few months because all the pieces are unbearably hot to wear in summer, and we had a lot of summer this year. But now the weather has cooled down slightly so here is the second to last piece: a plain black polo neck top for wearing with both pairs of trousers. I used Burda 120 12/2020 but missed out the gathering. The arms ended up a reasonable length for me – I normally add 5cm to those. The body is a bit on the long side but good for tucking in. I normally add 5cm there too. The collar is very high indeed. I’m wearing it folded over in the photos.
I’m wearing it with the trousers from vintage Vogue 1476 here. It’s come out less boxy than I intended, so I’ve ended up with quite a contrast in proportion between the slim fitting top and the voluminous trousers. Still trying to decide if I like the effect or not. It’s certainly a Look. I probably should have gone up a size to get a more 80s effect.
The fabric is ‘posh ponte’ from Stone Fabrics. It’s mostly viscose with a bit of polyester and elastane; quite heavy and very elastic. It feels a bit like a scuba knit but without the shiny finish. They’ve sold out of the black by now, but there are some other colours available.
While this was intended to go with the trousers shown here it ought to work in plenty of other contexts too. But it’s not the baggy 80s polo neck I was looking for. Back to the pattern collection I think.
This top may look a little familiar. It’s Burda 112 11/2015 and I made an almost identical version in March 2021 as part of a wardrobe plan. It rapidly became one of my favourite garments because it’s warm and it goes with everything. Unfortunately the rather expensive wool-blend sweater knit fabric I used for it didn’t stand up to much wear. It pilled, and pilled, and pilled some more. It looked so disgraceful that I bought a sweater comb. Combing it removed an astonishing amount of black fluff – I’m talking a wastepaper basket full – but as soon as I wore it again the pilling returned. The fabric got thinner and thinner, and then a hole developed. Eventually it become too sad even for wearing around the house.
This version is made in boiled wool instead, and 100% wool at that. I know this fabric doesn’t pill because I’ve used it several times before, including for a grey version of this same pattern. It’s from Empress Mills and comes in a range of colours. The zip is harvested from the original top.
I made one change to the pattern this time which was to remove some excess fabric from the chest area. The previous version tended to form a fold just above the bust. I cut a diagonal slash in the pattern from centre front to the shoulder and folded a bit out, then straightened up the centre front line. It seems to have worked to get rid of the fold, but I’ll admit this version is a little harder to get into as a result. The boiled wool doesn’t have much stretch and it’s very close fitting.
Unlike most Burda patterns I make this one is not lengthened in the body or sleeves. The sleeves on the original are ridiculously long. Looking at this version I might even need to shorten them. The body is true to size, but I wanted a shorter version.
I’m very glad to have a new version of this one. And next week, back to the 1980s.
I made this top specifically to go with the blue satin joggers that are just seen in the pictures. I’m still not sure the combination works, but I’ve found plenty of other things to wear the top with so it deserves a blog post of its own.
The pattern is Burda 115 08/2021, which is intended to be made up in jersey. However I was looking for something a bit warmer and figured it might work in boiled wool as it’s fairly boxy, and the draped neckline should give enough space to get it on without needing the fabric to stretch much. I used Empress Mills boiled wool in royal blue, which right now is still available here.
As you can see, I succeeded in getting it over my head. It’s a little bit a of squeeze and I have a small head for my size so I only just got away with using the boiled wool. The fabric makes the collar really stand up; it’s like wearing a thick woollen scarf. I don’t normally mind a high neckline but I’m always conscious of the collar on this top.
There are some oddities about this pattern. I make a lot of Burda magazine patterns and normally find them reliable and consistently sized. I didn’t bother checking this one carefully before cutting it out, but there’s something off with the sleeves. First they are unusually short – I had to take a tiny hem – and second the shoulder doesn’t sit nicely. It’s sort of visible in the back view below: the shoulders are quite pointy. I initially blamed it on the boiled wool, but I’ve previously used this boiled wool for another boxy cropped jumper and I don’t have the same problem with that one – it’s another Burda too.
It’s better with arms by sides. Part of the problem definitely comes from the collar construction, which leads to an extra layer of fabric at the left armscye, which is the more pointy of the two. So maybe it would be OK in jersey.
I shortened the body quite a bit because I wanted this to be cropped. I also took it in at the sides from the waist to the hips to get that square shape. Now I come to look at the line drawing again the original wasn’t at all the shape I wanted; I should have taken the collar and grafted it on to the pattern I used for my previous boiled wool jumper.
Anyway, wonky shoulders aside I have found this a surprisingly wearable top. It goes well with my collection of grey and silver bottoms and it’s super warm. The colour is cheerful too.
I’ve been wanting to add a bit of colour to my mostly black and grey wardrobe. Admittedly blue and black stripes is starting off very cautiously, but I wanted to make something I’d be sure to wear. Too many brightly coloured clothes have ended up festering in my wardrobe because I always reach for the grey things.
This is the top from Vogue 1567, which sadly is out of print. It’s very simple: the sleeves are cut in one with the bodice so there are only three pattern pieces. However it’s thoughtfully designed. There is a hidden stabiliser that keeps the front slash neckline from drooping. The pattern calls for hand stitching a piece of tape on to the wrong side, but being lazy I fused a strip of interfacing on instead and it worked fine. I also reinforced the hems with stretch interfacing which makes a twin needle hem produce a better result on my machine.
The back neckline is a slight v neck. I was tempted to put the stripes on a slant to line up with it but with two metres of fabric I didn’t have enough fabric to do it. In fact I barely squeezed the pattern on to the fabric on the straight. This design is a fabric hog. But I’m very pleased with the stripe matching I ended up with at centre back.
The fabric itself is a lightweight sweater knit from eBay. I searched high and low for blue and black striped knit and this one is all I came up with, but it’s exactly what I envisioned even down to the width of the stripes. There was also a red and black version which was quite tempting but for one thing I’d look like Dennis the Menace, and for another red is one of the many colours that I like the idea of but never wear in practice.
Blue and black stripes was definitely the right option because I’ve worn this quite a lot already. In fact if the weather hadn’t suddenly gone cold I’d probably be wearing it right now.
Here’s the line art. It’s a very low cut design which means the neckline doesn’t show when worn under the dress. Despite this it stays in place beautifully – no worries about bending forward. The fabric probably helps. It’s John Kaldor Isabella wool/elastane jersey in charcoal. Super stretchy and quite warm, highly recommended. I got mine from Sew Essential but I’ve seen other fabric shops stock it.
I made a right mess of tracing and cutting this one. I somehow missed adding the placement marks for the front pieces and ended up guessing where to attach them, getting it completely wrong, and then having to rip out overlocked seams in black thread on black fabric. I also got immensely confused as to which side of the front wrap goes on top. The two fronts are not mirror images – the side that goes underneath isn’t full length. I cut out the larger, top, piece first, suddenly thought that I’d done it the wrong side up, hacked it down to be the under piece and then realised I had been right the first time. I didn’t want to waste fabric by cutting new front pieces so my shirt ended up with the right front on top although Burda’s has the opposite. What threw me is that women’s clothes normally close right over left.
There’s not a lot to see on the back view, but I do like Burda’s technique for the back neckline. It’s finished with a narrow stretch binding strip turned to the inside and top-stitched down, which is something I often see in ready to wear. I’m less keen on the hems. The hem allowance given for the sleeves is 6cm, which was impossible to sew with the machine – I couldn’t reach inside the very narrow sleeve far enough to sew close to the edge without the whole thing getting caught up around the presser foot. I ended up trimming the sleeve hem allowance back quite a bit to avoid hand hemming. I’m not sure what the function of such a deep hem was; I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.
While I doubt I’ll wear this on its own much – I don’t want to blind people with the glare from my pasty chest skin – I think it’ll be a useful under layer. But now I’m off to sew less practical and more fun things for a while. Thanks to my husband for taking the photos!
One of my favourite designers is Rick Owens. Unfortunately pieces of his post-apocalyptic vision are seriously expensive to buy, and even the more basic and wearable designs are pricey. One of these basics is a skinny wool knit t shirt with an exposed back seam, a deeply curved raw hem, and extra long sleeves. I made a knockoff of it a couple of years ago and have worn it so much it’s now starting to look a little sad. Here it is when it was just made.
The neckband has stretched and gone wavy since then. I made it too long right from the start and only aggressive steam pressing ever made it sit flat. I’ve also never been 100% happy with the shape of the hem; it’s a little too long. So this is version two, made out of the same John Kaldor Isabella wool jersey as the first one, with a shorter neckband and reshaped hem.
Weirdly it seems to fit better too, but I think that’s because I’ve changed shape rather than any improvement I made to the pattern.
I only made it a couple of weeks ago and have worn it four or five times already so this is a definite win! Thanks to my husband for the photos as always.
I don’t repeat a lot of patterns. I’m always making new patterns, hoping that the next one is going to make up into the amazing unicorn garment that looks perfect and is so comfortable I wear it every week for years. Burda 112 11/2015 is not quite that: my first attempt had a big tracing error, the (expensive) fabric pilled so rapidly I actually bought a sweater comb to tame it, and the fit is definitely not quite right. But it goes with almost every pair of trousers and skirt I own. It’s a very basic cropped sweater with French darts to give a bit of shaping and a statement zip for interest:
The original is black sweater knit with a silver zip. I have to make an effort to stop myself reaching for it every day, it’s so easy to wear.
The vast majority of my wardrobe is black and grey, so a grey version seemed like a must. And although I’m also working on an entirely separate wardrobe plan it made sense to make this one first, before the weather warmed up. This time the fabric is boiled wool from Empress Mills. It’s slightly itchy, being 100% wool, but is holding up much better than the black version.
This version has a regular hem instead of the facing I had to hastily add to the previous version when I discovered I’d cut the front far too short. I also reduced the flare at the hem. But oddly the sleeves have come out much too long this time – I really have no idea how. I’m wearing them folded up and will have to shorten them. I also think this one is too broad in the shoulders. But despite all that it’s the only thing I want to wear with my lighter coloured bottoms now. Clearly I’ll have to make a third version.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
So overall a success. And they’re certainly getting a lot of wear in the current dark evenings.