Burda instructions and where to interface

I’m making the pattern below, a 2008 Burda, so it’s a pretty old one. I remember reading lots of online complaining about Burda’s instructions when I first discovered sewing blogs, but once I got good enough at sewing to tackle Burda magazine patterns at all, which would have been a year or two later, I found the instructions were minimal but usually adequate.

Burda 110 5/2008 line art, burdastyle.ru

And then I got my hands on some older Burda issues, back from when it was called Burda World of Fashion, and discovered what people had been complaining about. The older Burda patterns are much easier to trace than the modern ones because the same number of patterns are spread out over twice the number of sheets of paper, but the instructions are definitely worse; I think this particular set even has a minor mistake in that they tell you to attach part of the front band twice, in two different parts of the instructions. And while the current Burda instructions are terse but include every step (apart from finishing seam allowances) the old ones occasionally skip over things.

The pattern above has a lot of fiddly little details: wide belt carriers, shoulder tabs, pocket flaps, and some sort of decorative loop at the back neckline. I picked it in part because of this. Burda made their version in poplin which isn’t the sturdiest fabric for that sort of thing so interfacing is definitely required. And the instructions for interfacing are limited to some shading on the cutting layout to show where to stick the stuff:

Cutting diagram for Burda 110 5/2008

And that’s your lot; there is nothing in the text to remind you to actually apply it. Modern Burda always has a brief line at the start of the pattern instructions which mentions it.

Now if I was making this in poplin I think I’d be happy following the interfacing placement in the original diagram, but I’ve perhaps foolishly decided on something much heavier: an 8oz cotton twill. So do I follow the diagram or cut down on the interfacing? I definitely want it on the collar and zip bands, but I wonder if sticking it on the pocket flaps and tabs is just going to make them difficult to turn out and top stitch. Wish me luck.

Wardrobe sewing plans update

I’m still working my way through my latest wardrobe sewing plan, but I’ve made a few changes. Originally I had a very dramatic Burda coat pattern in the mix, and a top that I wasn’t quite sure about but included because it was a shortened version of one of the dress patterns so I wouldn’t have to trace another pattern.

Realistically I don’t need another coat right now, even one as fabulous as this. I’ve already got a thick winter coat, a trench, and a lighter weight jacket. I’ve got the fabric for this one in stash though, so I’ll probably make it one day.

Burda 103 03/2018 coat, burdastyle.ru

And I realised that the top isn’t something I can make work for me. It’s ok for hot weather but awkward for the rest of the year. It needs to be a top layer because of the flappy sleeves and the ties, and it would only suit me if tucked in. So that one had to go too.

Burda 102 02/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

I’ve replaced the coat with the Closet Core Blanca jumpsuit: it’s another fairly involved project but one I suspect I’ll get more wear out of. I finished it a couple of weeks ago and have worn it a few times already.

And for the top I’ve substituted a very recent Burda design, 111 6/2021. I’ve used the model photo here because the line art doesn’t give much idea of how it looks on a body, although it’s certainly clearer about construction. The front is cut in two halves, but instead of being seamed up the middle they’re only joined at the bottom of the v neck. Both front panels extend downwards and join in a loop, which you then twist and put round your neck. I suspect Burda has styled this carefully to avoid flashing the model’s stomach. I’m planning to wear mine over another layer.

Burda 111 6/2021 model photo, burdastyle.ru

So here’s the current plan. My aim with this selection is to have things that will layer over each other. The UK is just coming off a short heatwave right now, but cold and wet is much more typical.

Closet Core Patterns Blanca Flight Suit modelled photos

A woman in a black jumpsuit and yellow trainers leans against a bench

I posted about this jumpsuit last week but now I have photos of it on me, thanks to my husband, and it’s always easier to talk about fit when there are pictures to look at. This is Closet Core Patterns’ Blanca Flight Suit. I normally stick to Burda and Vogue patterns, with occasional diversions to Style Arc, but I had a clear idea of the sort of jumpsuit I wanted to make and even with ten years of Burda back issues I couldn’t find one with all the right details. Blanca had everything I was looking for, so I decided to risk an unfamiliar block and sizing system, and sprung for the paper pattern. Here’s the line art:

Technical drawing of a  jumpsuit  with various sleeve and arm options
Blanca flight suit line art, closetcorepatterns.com

It comes with several options to change the look up a bit, although nothing radical: short or long sleeves, two belt versions, two breast pocket versions, optional tabs for tapering the leg and optional press studs for tapering the arm. I added the optional tabs and press studs on mine and did the breast pockets with zips, the buckle belt, and the long sleeve. A jumpsuit is a big project so I wanted to be able to wear it a few different ways. Below is with wide sleeves and trouser legs.

A woman in a black jumpsuit and yellow trainers sits on a bench

I think one of the cleverest features about this is the back. There are top stitched pleats to give a little interest and extra reaching room. And it does need it: this is designed to be fairly snug, especially on the hips. (Excuse the keys in the pockets in the picture below).

Now obviously it would have been sensible to make a toile before diving into a big project with a pattern company I’d not tried before, especially as they have their own sizing system. But my sewing time is limited, so instead I carefully consulted the very detailed table of finished garment measurements provided to choose a size and decide on adjustments.

I ended up making the sizes my body measurements put me in (sizes plural because I am more pear shaped than the Closet Core block) but that was because my fabric is slightly stretchy; it’s Empress Mills’ 7.5oz premium denim. I added 5cm length to the bodice and sleeves, and 6cm to the leg. The body length has come out fine overall but the waistband is lower than I expected; definitely below my natural waist. And I wouldn’t want the legs any shorter.

I was slightly surprised by quite how close fitting it turned out. I knew there wasn’t any ease at the hip, but from reviews I’d read I’d expected the bodice to be more blousey. It’s not a bad thing, but I’m still debating if I can safely wear it to work. And if I made this again in a nonstretch fabric I’d size up one. As it is, it requires a slight wriggle to get on but once there it’s comfortable.

Here it is with tapered arms and legs. I wasn’t expecting to like this look as much as the wider option but in fact I think it works.

Despite the sizing surprise I’m very happy with the way it’s come out. I even found myself browsing the Empress Mills denim section to see if any of the other colours the fabric comes in caught my eye for a second version. But as I’m still slogging my way through my wardrobe sewing plan, that’s going to have to wait a while.

All the hardware: Closet Core Blanca flight suit

This is the Blanca flight suit from Closet Core Patterns. It wasn’t on my original wardrobe sewing plan, but it fits in well with the other pieces. And I wanted a project that would make use of one of my birthday presents: a hand press. This gadget makes installing press studs (or rivets, or grommets) absolutely painless. Each type of hardware needs a different set of dies which screw into the press, but once they’re on, installing hardware takes seconds and requires very little strength. No more loud hammering noises, and it sets the studs perfectly straight every time. The only problem is that it’s so simple it’s all too easy to get overconfident and install a press stud on the wrong side of the garment. Luckily there were no disasters on this project.

Blanca has press studs on the sleeves which can be used to turn the wide sleeve into a tapered one.

And tabs on the ankles which can be used to taper the leg. The pattern calls for buttonholes and buttons here but I wanted to keep things consistent, so more press studs.

It’s a very well thought out pattern with a lot of options. I went for all the bling with the zipped breast pockets and the buckle belt.

I struggled a bit with the zips on the pockets and my topstitching is distinctly wobbly. I probably would have done better with lighter weight zips. But these were a good match for the teeth on the centre front zip.

It took me a lot of searching to find the buckle. Once I figured out the right search term (surcingle, if like me you didn’t know) they’re plentiful on eBay. They seem to mainly be used for horse blankets of all things.

I was complaining about my inability to sew good belt loops the other week. These ones aren’t bad. I made them as flat as I could with the folding in three method, and kept the turn under short. I didn’t hammer them but pressed them as hard as I could before sewing them on. Still not perfect, but better than the last lot.

There’s just one thing I’d like to change about the pattern, but I’m not sure how. The underlap for the front zip has an overlocked edge that’s visible when the collar is open. That edge needs to be pretty flat so replacing it with another seam wouldn’t be great. Perhaps bias binding on the edge?

Modelled photos coming soon I hope.

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.

Two down, seven to go

We finally managed to get some photos of my new Burda jacket on me – thanks as always to my husband for taking the photos. I’m still figuring out how to best style it. I made it as part of a wardrobe plan, but it is only the second piece I’ve completed. The dresses and trousers I intend to go underneath currently exist only in my head. But here it is with the pleather leggings from the plan. The jacket itself is Burda 105 02/2021.

This is not a garment I reach for first thing in the morning. It comes into its own when I’ve started work for the day and realise it’s a bit chilly in the attic. It goes over almost anything and the short sleeves are surprisingly practical. I don’t suppose I’ll be wearing it in the depth of winter, although I could see the style working in a heavy wool as a wearable blanket.

Here’s the Burda line art. I always like it when people show the pattern designer’s version when I’m reading a review of a pattern, as sometimes the finished object comes out very different from how you’d expect. This one is perfectly accurate though. I chose to really play up the top stitching on my version with light grey thread. It’s mostly straight lines but even so I did have to unpick a few times because there’s no hiding a wobble with this colour.

Burda 105 02/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

I still don’t think I’ve cracked styling this. Hopefully when I complete the rest of the plan (around Christmas, at the rate I sew) I’ll have more options.

Neither one thing nor the other: Burda 105 02/2021

Is it a coat? Is it a cardigan? Is it a jacket? Burda calls it a coat, but in my book a coat has to have full length sleeves and close at the front. Cardigans are usually knitted and this is made of denim. And it lacks the structure of the typical jacket. Whatever it is, it’s style 105 from the February 2021 Burda.

I normally let Burda magazines mature in my pattern stash until they’re a few years old before I make anything from them. But February 2021 had not one but two patterns which leapt straight into my latest wardrobe sewing plans and this is the first of them. I was looking for an indoor garment to layer over the top of an outfit for extra warmth. I don’t get on with most cardigans and this seemed like a promising alternative. It’s a simple sew: fairly square cut, unlined, with patch pockets and no closures.

Burda 105 02/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

Here’s the back view. One rather odd thing about the design is that there’s no continuity of the lines between the front, back, and sleeves. Those bold diagonal seams on the front come to a dead stop at the side seams. The topstitching on the yoke hits the sleeve seam and vanishes into it. I can almost hear Esme from the Great British Sewing Bee tutting that it hasn’t been very well thought through. It would be easy enough to add diagonal seams to the back to marry it with the front, but I’m not so sure what to do about the sleeves. More top stitching on the sleeve seam perhaps? The pattern called for one line there, but it also has you set the sleeves in so I skipped it, not wanting to do it in the round. If I made this one again I’d put the sleeves in flat.

A change I did make to this version was to add a hanging loop and change the neckline seam finish. There is no neckline facing piece (probably because it would be too bulky on top of the double layer yoke) and the pattern has you sew both layers of the the collar on to the neckline and press the allowances down, leaving a visible seam allowance around the neck. Instead I clipped the allowances at the point where the facing attaches, sewed on just the outer collar between those points, and pressed them up so the inner collar hides them. The top stitching around the collar holds it in place.

This worked beautifully on one side…

And I ended up with a mess on the other. I don’t think I clipped far enough. It’s not visible when wearing, obviously, but it’s annoying.

The pockets on this thing are huge. I have long arms and I can only just reach the bottom. It’s a Tall sized pattern so perhaps that’s not so surprising, but definitely something to check before stitching them down.

When I finished this I was vaguely disappointed. It seemed to lack the style factor of Burda’s version. But I’ve worn it a few times already, mainly when feeling cold indoors, and it grew on me. I suspect it works best paired with a dress, and I don’t often wear one of those. Hopefully I’ll get some modelled photos of it soon for comparison.

A quick repeat: Burda 112 12/2015 again

A woman  in a grey jumper and trousers

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:

Burda 112 11/2015 line art, burdastyle.ru

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.

A woman in a black jumper and black pleated culottes

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.

Back view of a woman with short hair wearing a grey jumper

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.

A woman with short hair wearing a grey jumper and cargo trousers , and yellow trainers

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.