Plain and simple: Burda 112 3/2012

Every wardrobe needs background pieces to pair with the exciting stuff. These high waisted black straight legged trousers are one of those. I made them as part of my current wardrobe sewing plan. The current version of the plan has a couple of interesting tops that need some plainer bottoms.

I was originally planning to use Burda 119 3/2020 for the trousers, but other people who’ve made those found they aren’t as high waisted as the magazine photos suggest. So I turned to Burda 112 3/2012, which I’d made once already so I know they have exactly the waistline and fit I wanted. All I needed to do was lengthen the leg. They’re very simple with the only real design detail being the back pocket shape.

Burda 112 3/2012 line art, burdastyle.ru

I made these out of pieces of 7oz 100% cotton denim from Empress Mills I had left over from a couple of other projects. The fabric was purchased in two separate lots so I was very careful to check the scraps from each project matched before I risked combining them. But once I’d finished I noticed there’s a really subtle shade difference between the front and back legs. It’s only visible in some lights and photos do not show it, but I know it is there. It hasn’t stopped me wearing them. And I’m glad to have used up the scraps.

Annoyingly the waist came up a tiny bit too big so they tend to slide down at the back and produce a little wrinkle just below the waistband. The last time I made these I used a much more tightly woven fabric than the denim so I think that’s what made the difference. I don’t feel particularly motivated to take this pair in though.

The top stitching is just about visible on the back pockets. I used a very dark grey thread. The denim is nominally black, but black top stitching thread looks too harsh against it because it’s really more charcoal.

I haven’t made any of the tops from my wardrobe plan yet so here I’m wearing them with a draped T shirt I made last year. It’s yet another Burda pattern: 121 4/2020.

I ranted last week about how the belt loops hadn’t come out very well, but they look OK here. I did have to use a pair one each side of the centre back seam instead of a single centred one. My machine would not have coped with that many layers. I doubt I’ll wear these with a belt so I should have left them off.

I’ll definitely be using this pattern again as it’s a great shape and it’s a quick make too. Thanks to my husband for the photos.

Belt loops and waistbands

Here’s the waistband on a pair of trousers I have just made. They are 7oz denim, which isn’t super thick, but as usual I really struggled to sew the belt loops on. The one at centre back was completely impossible so I used a pair with one each side instead.

I long ago gave up on trying to use bar tacks and now just sew them down with a short straight stitch. I even support the back of the presser foot with a bit of folded scrap fabric but still end up with a wobbly result. My machine is otherwise pretty good on thick fabrics so I can only assume it’s operator error.

So after the latest failure I dug out a few pairs of trousers to see if there’s a better way.

The belt loops on my trousers above are made by folding both edges of a long fabric strip in to the centre, and then folding it in half and top stitching down both sides. They end up as four layers of fabric which makes them very thick. It gives a nice finish though. On some other projects I’ve made them with a narrower strip with one long edge overlocked and folded it in three before top stitching. This gives a flatter loop but the overlocked edge sometimes peeks out, or doesn’t get caught in the topstitching.

Ready to wear trousers of my husband’s use an even narrower strip with the edges folded in once to the centre and then coverstitched. That gives only two layers, but I don’t have a coverstitch machine so that’s not an option. And I don’t think my twin needle would cope with denim.

As well as reducing the thickness there are several different methods of attachment. I normally sew the top end of my loops into the top waistband seam and then after the waistband is finished I fold the bottom end under and topstitch it down to the trousers – if my machine would bar tack them I’d do a bar tack instead. But there are other ways.

The picture below are cargo trousers from a Burda pattern which called for sewing the bottom of the belt loops into the waistband/trouser seam and then catching down the top end instead. It’s not any easier that way around in my experience but it’s an option.

The pair of jeans below is Vogue 1573 which uses a method I’ve never seen anywhere else. Both ends of the belt loops are sewn into the waistband seams. The bottom end is sewn in first when attaching the waistband to the trousers. That whole seam is then topstitched. Next the belt loops are pressed down and stitched down to the trouser leg on the inside of the loop, which is easier than top stitching as it won’t be seen and it only goes through one thickness of the belt loop. Then the waistband facing is added, catching the top end of the belt loops in that seam. The top of the waistband is then topstitched right over the belt loops. It’s easier to get the position right this way, but my machine hated topstitching over waistband and belt loops together, and I was then left with the problem of how to secure the bottom of the facing on the inside. The pattern says to hand stitch, but I stitched in the ditch leaving gaps where the belt loops were in the way. Overall it’s not bad, and probably gives a better result, but it’s a lot of faff.

Ready to wear varies. Trousers seem to be mostly done the same way as the Burda jeans, only with bar tacks to catch the tops down instead of topstitching.

Jeans seem to not catch either end in a seam and just use bar tacks.

But then in RTW they have thinner loops so fewer layers to contend with, and more powerful machines too.

I think the answer for home sewing might be to keep the belt loop as flat as possible so constructing the loops using the three layer method rather than the four layer, at least when dealing with denim. I’ve heard hammering the loop after folding the end under can help too. My current project is denim again and has yet more belt loops so I’ll have a chance to try it out soon.

If you have any top tips for good belt loops I am all ears.

Vogue 1378 Vogue Donna Karan pieced leggings

These leggings are from Vogue 1378, an old favourite pattern now sadly out of print. I don’t wear a lot of colour or print so I like clothes with seam line interest. But I find a lot of the patterns with extra seams have them placed in a less than flattering way. Not these though. The original pattern is strictly speaking for close fitting trousers rather than leggings, as they’re loose from the calf to the hem and have an ankle vent. But it’s very easy to sew the vent shut and tighten them up by taking in the inseam.

I made these as part of a wardrobe plan; they’re supposed to go under a couple of the dresses. I’m firmly in the Leggings Are Not Trousers camp where my own person is concerned, so no outfit photos of these until I have made at least one new dress to go with them.

Vogue 1378 technical drawing, originally from mccalls.com

They’re designed to be made in a knit, but the construction isn’t the normal overlocked seams. Most of the seams are lapped and top stitched with two rows of a long straight stitch, and then the outside seam allowance is trimmed down close to the stitching. This means the fabric can’t be too stretchy or the seams will break.

I’ve previously made these in thin neoprene, which worked very well, and scuba knit, which wasn’t as robust. This pair are in a thick coated knit that’s meant to look like leather. It came from Tia Knight a few years ago now. It’s super sticky on the coated side so it’s quite difficult to top stitch. A Teflon foot was no good at all. The roller foot worked with my machine set on the maximum stitch length only, and still produced tiny stitches. The walking foot was the only one that produced a decent medium length stitch and even then it isn’t all even, especially on the waist elastic.

The back thigh seam isn’t overlapped. That’s what the pattern says to do, and I have always assumed there is a reason for it. It’s certainly a handy indication as to which way round to put them on.

A closeup of all that lapping and top stitching. I’m quite pleased with the even spacing.

And the waist, with the not so even zigzag top stitching to hold the elastic down. The good thing is that this will never be visible while I’m wearing them.

Although I’ve made these before it was a while ago, and I’d forgotten that the waist is a little low and they’re very long in the leg. This isn’t normally a problem for me with Vogue Patterns so perhaps I added too much extra length when I originally traced them. I ended up shortening this pair by something like 8cm. There’s not a lot I can do about the waist this time, but it’ll never be seen.

Although I’ve not made the dresses I had planned to go with these, they have been getting some wear under my grey Style Arc Toni dress. They’re pretty good for the sunny but cool weather we’re getting in the UK at the moment. This is a pattern I will definitely hang onto.

Sewing with a plan post mortem: part four

The fourth part of my wardrobe sewing plan review. This week I’m looking at combinations involving the cocoon trousers, Burda 106 02/2020. Here are the line drawings of all the patterns used.

First with the white blouse, Burda 105 04/2018. Maybe I should have tried this tucked in. The proportions seem a bit wrong, and a strongly contrasting top and bottom rarely work for me. The whole outfit just seems to be lacking something.

Next with the black Burda blouse, 113 02/2010. I think this combination just about works when the shirt is tucked in but I go back and forth on it. I have worn this look quite a lot at home but I don’t have any shoes that go with it! I need some chunky short flat boots. The ones I’m wearing in the picture have a wedge heel and just aren’t right. The trainers in the previous outfit might be better.

I wasn’t expecting the trousers to work well with the Vogue 1347 big shirt, but actually I really like this combination. I’m tall enough to get away with wearing a lot of volume.

And finally with the short Burda sweater, 112 11/2015. This one is definitely the winner. The shorter length of the top works much better with the high waisted trousers than the longer tops do.

These trousers have been in high rotation ever since I finished them. They’re very comfortable to wear and the pockets are roomy. I like the subtle detail of the light coloured top stitching too. I just wish I could find the right shoes for wearing them out of the house!

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!

Flared jeans: Burda 118 04/2009

I picked this jeans pattern to make because I thought the shape was refreshingly different to anything I’ve worn in recent years. I remember having a pair of blue denim trousers from TopShop in the early 2000s with this style of leg. The pattern itself dates from 2009. I could have sworn bootcut jeans were over by then and we’d moved on to skinnies. Anyway it’s Burda 118 04/2009, which has great reviews online. The technical drawing is below but I think the real thing is much tighter on the thigh and lower on the waist than the diagram suggests.

Burda 118 04/2009 technical drawing, burdastyle.ru

I was aiming to reproduce some jeans I’d seen in a Dior ad, so I altered the shape and placement of the front patch pockets and added back ones to match. I found I didn’t need to add anything to the length of the pattern, which is very unusual for me. I added 2cm as insurance anyway and ended up removing it again by making slightly deeper turnips. I also went down a size because the fabric I used has a lot of stretch. It’s Empress Mills’ 7.5oz premium denim. It was a pleasure to work with despite the stretch. The colour is called black but it’s really more of a charcoal. I didn’t have any black top stitching thread and used a very dark grey I had lying around, which turned out to be a great match. And once again I’m baffled as to why top stitching thread is sold in such tiny reels. I always need two to do a pair of jeans.

They haven’t come out much like the inspiration garment; they would need much more ease and a higher waist for that. The style is also different from the bootcut jeans I remember wearing twenty years ago which had a very low rise. These are much easier to wear.

This is the third garment in my vague plan to sew some things that go together and although I’ve managed to stick to the list of planned garments, all I’ve made so far is trousers. So definitely a top next.

Thanks to my husband for the photos and the quarantine haircut. The UK is back in lockdown with only essential services open so it was clippers or nothing. It feels much better to have it short.

Unusual jeans pockets

I’m making flared 70s style jeans right now. The inspiration for these came from a weird coincidence. I bought the April 2009 issue of Burda off eBay to fill in a gap in my collection, and when it arrived style 118 caught my eye.

Technical drawing of Burda 118 04/2009 flared jeans with front patch pockets
Burda 118 04/2009 flared jeans with front patch pockets, burdastyle.ru

It has a definite resemblance to these Dior jeans which I’d just seen featured in a big glossy ad in a recent issue of Vogue. Something about these really attracted me, although I have to say I wouldn’t pair them with a matching denim sleeveless jacket.

Flared cotton jeans, Dior.com

Well I was looking for an interesting trouser pattern to go with a piece of black denim I have, and the Burda pattern has excellent reviews, so it had to be done. The pockets on the Dior jeans are much larger and lower than on the Burda style, but the basic lines are much the same. Both are high waisted with back darts instead of a yoke. The Burda has turn-ups and the Dior has an ordinary jeans hem. I think the Dior waistband is wider, and it has additional patch pockets on the back. It’s possibly also baggier in the thigh area.

Luckily the Dior site had some good photos of the style laid flat which give a good idea of the size, shape, and placement of the pockets. Here are the back ones.

Flared jeans, Dior.com

And here’s where I’ve got to so far.

That’s the really fiddly part done…just need to sew up the seams and put the waistband and belt loops on now. I’m probably keeping the turn-ups from the Burda style too. Maybe next week I’ll have something finished to show.

A woman in grey trousers and white shirt sits on grass

Merchant and Mills Strides finished

A woman in grey trousers and white shirt stands by a window

When I last posted about these trousers I was struggling with the pockets. But as you can see I finished them and I’m very pleased with the results. These are the Merchant and Mills Strides. They don’t seem to be available as a standalone pattern but are part of the Merchant and Mills Workbook, a collection of six patterns making up a wardobe. The Strides are described as classic menswear style trousers. They’re straight legged, very high waisted, and have slant pockets and pleats on the front. Mine are made up in a mediumweight non-stretch grey denim. It’s heavier than any of the recommended fabrics for the pattern but it’s unusually soft and drapey for denim, which makes it work. I’d link to it, but it seems to have sold out.

Closeup of grey trousers

I really like the fit on these but it’s only fair to say that other people have had mixed results. The sizing is a little hard to fathom as there is no size chart provided, only finished garment measurements. The size numbers look like they’re meant to match UK retail or Big Four pattern sizing, but in fact they aren’t equivalent. I’d say to go down at least one from your usual size. There’s no inside leg measurement given but after checking the pattern I lengthened the leg something like 8cm, which is more than I usually do.

What I ended up with is close fitting on the natural waist and roomy everywhere else. Very comfortable to wear. The pockets worked out ok after I recut the back piece longer to match the front one, although I’d prefer them to be a bit deeper overall. If I’d used the original pattern pieces with the shorter back piece they’d be far too shallow for a phone (at least for the size I made; I haven’t been back to check the others).

A woman in grey trousers and white shirt stands by a white wall

The pattern is described as inspired by classic menswear but it’s simplified from traditional men’s trousers, which makes it a much easier sew. There is no centre back seam on the waistband for adjusting the size and no back pockets of any sort. However there is a very nifty shaped fly guard with an internal button closure to keep the front lying really flat. I had a bit of difficulty with the button placement on that – the buttonhole seemed placed much lower on the pattern pieces than on the diagrams in the instructions – but that might have been my mistake in tracing and marking. I made it work but next time I’ll check the pattern pieces really do line up before making the buttonhole. Interestingly the photos in the book of the insides look more like how my fly guard ended up than the diagrams do.

Here’s the back view. I get those wrinkles under the backside on most trousers. I suppose I could take some length out of the back crotch curve to try to deal with it but it doesn’t really bother me.

A woman in grey trousers and white shirt stands by a window with her back to the camera

I’ve been wearing these a lot since I finished them. They feel effortless to wear but I’d like to think they have a Katharine Hepburn vibe. And I love the proportions I get when tucking in a top to the high waistband. It’s as if they were drafted for me personally. I’ll definitely be making this pattern again.

The shirt is Style Arc’s Juliet – another one I have plans to sew again. Thanks to my husband for taking the photos.

A woman in grey trousers and a white shirt sits on grass

Silver trousers again: Vogue 1347

Work on the Merchant and Mills Strides trousers continues. But here’s a trouser pattern I recently finished instead.

Long time readers of this blog know I have a thing for silver trousers. I usually have at least one pair in my wardrobe and they get a lot of wear. Recently I’ve changed shape – I lost weight while sick – and my clothes no longer fit. Things should return to normal soon but in the meantime I need some trousers that don’t fall down. Enter the bottoms from Vogue 1347, wide leg trousers with a drawstring waist. No link to the pattern because this one is out of print, although it’s often available second hand on eBay and Etsy. Here’s the line drawing.

Vogue 1347 line drawing, McCalls

The lines of the trousers are pretty simple but this is a Ralph Rucci designer pattern so the finishing is amazing. If you followed the pattern instructions closely you’d get an absolutely exquisite garment: fully lined without an exposed seam allowance anywhere. I’m afraid I didn’t bother with the lining at all, and my seam allowances are finished with the overlocker. I’ve never seen such comprehensive instructions for lining trousers with a fly front anywhere else though, so I may come back to the pattern in future just for that.

I always find things drop out of inseam pockets on trousers so I added zips to mine. And I couldn’t be bothered to make a long skinny drawstring out of self fabric so mine is an acrylic cord. The fabric itself is Lady McElroy Uttoxeter, a black and white tonic twill that looks silver from a distance. It’s no longer available anywhere I’ve looked but this particular piece came from Sherwoods Fabrics.

And now the obligatory back view, because this is a sewing blog after all. I’m standing up straighter than I usually would which I think explains the folds. They have plenty of room anyway, and would even if I was at my normal size. I normally need to go up one size for the hips in most sewing pattern size charts, but this pattern has so much ease built in I didn’t bother when I traced it. I added 5cm to the length, as I usually do with Vogue, and they’ve come out just above floor length which is perfect. The hem allowance is a huge 8cm so there is a lot of wiggle room even without lengthening the pattern but I wanted to be sure to have a deep hem.

I’m really pleased with these. They are a lovely shape and I like that they have a proper fly front despite the adjustable waist; it makes me feel slightly more dressed up. And it’s so nice to have something that fits.

Thanks to my husband for the photos.

Pocket problems: Merchant and Mills Strides

Update: a kind reader informs me that the problems I describe in this post were down to an error in the first edition of the book I was using that has been corrected in subsequent editions.

Well I’m baffled. I’m making the Strides trousers from the Merchant and Mills Workbook. These are high waisted straight legged trousers. I’ve got Burda patterns in similar shapes but the appeal of the Strides is that they have a very traditional menswear fly and front pocket construction which sounded like it would be an interesting thing to sew.

There are not all that many reviews of the pattern out there, but a few people have made them up and blogged about it, so I was aware of a couple of things to watch out for before I started (thank you Ruth for mentioning the left/right confusion in the fly instructions). But no one else seems to have had trouble with the pockets. They are your basic slanted hip pockets for trousers which I’ve made lots of times before; the interesting bit is that instead of the back pocket bag being cut as part of the hip yoke and therefore made in the shell fabric, the bag is made entirely from lining and has deep facings of shell fabric attached.

You start off by attaching a facing to the back pocket bag like this; this piece is the bit that would normally be made entirely from shell fabric.

Faced pocket piece

Then the front pocket bag gets lapped under a very deep self facing on the front trouser edge and stitched down. Then the facing is folded under and the pocket opening edge is topstitched. Odd to have that overlocked edge visible at the edge of the facing, but pretty sure it’s what is intended, going by the diagrams. And admittedly I could have gone for a closer match with my overlocking thread colour which would have looked better.

Back pocket bag and self facing

Next you lay the back pocket over the front one and stitch the edges together, like normal. But mine do not line up.

Back pocket bag laid on front, not lining up

Now obviously I could just trim off all that extra on the front pocket bag, but that would make for some very shallow pockets.

I tried a few things. If I line up the bottoms of the bags things don’t match up at the waistline, which would be disastrous. If I line the pocket up at both ends there is way too much extra length in the middle to be eased in, and it would lead to lots of gapping at the pocket opening anyway.

I double checked that I’d sewn the facings to the pocket bags at the correct points, but what I’ve done clearly matches the diagrams on the pattern instructions. I checked I’d traced the pattern pieces correctly – yes. Normally I’m pretty good at checking patterns line up when I trace them, but I obviously skipped it with this one, because here they are.

Paper pattern pieces for pockets not lining up

I even checked the errata for the book on the Merchant and Mills website but there was nothing about the Strides, although kudos for posting errata at all. I think it’s entirely possible I’ve lined something up wrong, but I can’t for the life of me see what or how.

So I swore and cut new, deeper, pocket bags. And another set of facings because no way am I ripping the old ones off the original bags. Here’s an old pocket bag next to a new one. The difference is subtle but it’s there.

Old and new pocket pieces

Much better with the new ones; it lines up now.

New pocket bad overlaid, lining up

So I sewed the pocket bags together and moved on, and then discovered I’d completely run out of thread in any shade suitable for the fly front. I’m not a massive stickler for matching but I think the fly topstitching would look a bit odd in either black or white. The new reel of grey I ordered last week seems to be stuck in the postal system somewhere in the depths of East Anglia. Gah. I’ve a feeling these won’t be finished for a while.

If anyone else out there has made these, did you have the same thing with the pockets? Have I missed something?