Clown or chic? Burda March 2011

I love BurdaStyle magazine but I confess I was a little disappointed by the March 2011 issue. It’s the wedding special so I can’t say I was really surprised – I’ve been married for nearly twelve years, so I’m not likely to want to to make a wedding dress any time soon. You can see the the styles here on the French Burda site, although that URL doesn’t look stable to me so who knows how long it will last. The rest of the issue was OK but nothing leapt out at me as a must-sew.

However my eye kept being drawn to model 106, which is one of the wedding dresses. I’m not quite sure how to describe it. Sleeveless, floor length, and, well, egg-shaped. Here’s the line art.

Common sense says that this dress is likely to make me look (at best) heavily pregnant. I can’t quite translate the French captions on the website but I’m pretty sure it says something about requiring a slim figure (‘une silhouette mince’) to wear it, which I fear might be fashion editor code for ‘only size zero need apply’. The English-language magazine, incidentally, simply says ‘you will look charming in this dress’. A case of the French editors being more realistic than the Brits?

Anyway I can’t help wanting to give this one a go, in a really loud print. Although as it requires three and a half metres of fabric it’s also going to have to be a really cheap print. Not like these John Kaldor ones, beautiful though they are.

So am I insane or could this work? I shall certainly be looking out for cheap prints in the next few months.

Which scifi show is this from?

Extensive googling has failed to find me pictures of anything remotely like this dress, but I have a steadily increasing suspicion I have ripped off some 70s scifi tv show here. Hence the boots; I figure I might as well embrace the look in all its cheesy glory. Anyone recognise it? And should I be ashamed?

The boots are surprisingly comfortable, although I’ll admit I haven’t done much more than pose for pictures in them since extracting them from the pile of old shoes at the bottom of the wardrobe. I’ve had them for at least 15 years but haven’t worn them for a long time. They were from Dolcis, who have long ago closed their shop in my town.

The dress is made from a pattern I adapted from McCall’s 2401 to use up this blue and orange doubleknit that’s been sitting in my stash for a while. It was inspired by the seamlines on Burda 114-11-2010, which is a long-sleeved sheath dress with the shoulder detail, but is meant to be made up in something shiny and slippery as an evening gown.

Sewing the shoulder pieces was harder than I expected, but I treated it just like making princess seams (staystitch along the seamlines, clip the seam allowances to the stitching, and baste carefully before actually sewing) and it came out OK although it took a while. I set the sleeves in flat and didn’t use a zip. The dress goes on easily over my head. I also didn’t bother with facings at the neckline; just turned under the seam allowance and stitched with my twin needle. The hem and sleeves are finished with wide folded-over bands so no other hemming was involved!

I’m pretty pleased with this. It’s comfortable and should be wearable for work with flat boots. Most importantly, it has long sleeves. The weather may be almost warm round here right now but winter in the UK is far from over.

Pattern mutation

This is the story of how I started off with a pattern for an elegant evening dress and ended up with something out of Star Trek.

Below is the line art for Burda 114-11-2010, which was the starting point for my second attempt to reduce my fabric stash over the Christmas holidays. The original is made in cream silk satin with one shiny and one matt side. The main body of the dress uses the shiny side as the right side, and the little inserts at the shoulders use the matt side.

I really like the idea but silk satin isn’t exactly a practical fabric, and I certainly don’t have any hanging around in my stash. About the only double-sided fabric I have is two metres of doubleknit which is blue on one side and orange on the other. So I figured it would just become a somewhat more casual dress.

Rather than using the Burda pattern, which is drafted for wovens, I got out McCalls 2401. I have previously made this one up in a similar weight doubleknit. It’s a basic sheath dress with sleeve and neckline variations. The darts are a bit different to the Burda pattern but not in a way that makes any difference to the shoulders. It also doesn’t have a slit in the centre back seam, but I don’t think that would work in doubleknit anyway.

I traced a copy with a round neck and long sleeves, and then drafted the insets by drawing what looked like roughly the right line on my pattern pieces, cutting the inset piece off, and adding seam allowances to both sides. I eliminated the shoulder seam on the inset piece.

I started off aiming for this combination of colours:

so the dress was already looking nothing like the original, but when I got to the point of trying on it looked a bit boring and much too long. I pinned the hem up and tried pinning on bits of orange trim in various places.

The orange round the neck is a bit too much in real life, so I’m going for the one with the hem band and cuffs. I have a nagging feeling I’ve reinvented a costume from some 1970s science fiction tv show though. It couldn’t be a lot further from the original! Tune in on Sunday for pictures, UK weather permitting.

Impractical shoes

6199642Remember the not entirely successful 1970s jumpsuit project? Elizabeth and Inkstain gave me some great advice about how to fix the problems, and here is the new improved version.

I’ve taken in the side seams a lot between the waist and knee, and also shaved a bit off the inside leg above the knee. I also took the centre front seam in a bit below the zip.

I found a pair of chunky platform sandals lurking at the bottom of the wardrobe. It’s amazing what a difference the right shoes make with this garment. I tried it with wedges and they looked very strange. This very square heel seems to be just right. And the extra four inches of height probably doesn’t hurt either.


Thanks, everyone!

Attack of the not quite 50 foot woman


Here is my finished 1971 jumpsuit pattern in all its glory, next to the original. It’s Simplicity 9369. Simplicity’s model looks like she’s nine feet tall; just compare her with me (a mere 5 feet ten inches). The fact that the picture on the envelope photo seems to have been taken from knee height is probably helping her a bit. That’s my excuse anyway.

And here is the back view:


I’m glad I made this because it was fun, and I’m very pleased I managed to finish it despite the fitting problems, but it hasn’t turned out as glamorous as I’d hoped. I think I’ll keep it for lounging around the house on very lazy weekends!

Fitting puzzle

On Saturday I basted together the pieces for my jumpsuit project to check the fit (with the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack playing for extra inspiration!) This is my first attempt at trousers. However I’d measured and adjusted the pattern really carefully, and I don’t think I have any huge fitting issues with RTW trousers other than length – at least I can usually find jeans that fit me. So I figured it would probably work OK and so didn’t take extra large seam allowances. You can guess what’s coming. Here’s what it’s meant to look like:

Imagine my complete amazement when the crotch curve of the jumpsuit turned out to be about four inches too low – but only at the front! The back was a little low but nothing compared to the front. I should not only not have lengthened the front pattern pieces, I probably should have shortened them a bit. Here it is on me:

I am really failing to understand how this happened. I don’t have this problem with dresses. I’m sure I’d have noticed my hems being four inches too long in front. The fit on the jumpsuit shoulders seems OK, which was where I was expecting problems. And other than being a bit big on the waist (which I expected) it seems to fit OK elsewhere too.

I think the situation might be savable by cutting the jumpsuit in half and creating a waist seam. Then I can lift the front more than the back. I’m not sure what that’s going to do to the grain, but since I appear to have cut the back slightly off-grain anyway I guess it can’t hurt too much. And if all else fails I can probably make the top half into a wearable tracksuit top.

I’m definitely going to sleep on this before taking the scissors to it though. Maybe I’m missing something here!

How fab is this?

Just a very quick post today as I’m writing this on a borrowed computer. I recently bought this amazing 70s pattern on impulse from ZipZapKap.

The more I look at this the more I want to make it, insane though it is. I think I’d stick with the colour scheme on the envelope but go for a chunkier zipper. I will spare you the other two views on the envelope. One of them has it made up in a large-scale orange floral which is a little too seventies even for me, and the other’s bright yellow.

I just wonder what type of fabric to make it out of. The envelope suggests a bewildering range of possibilities. As well as the things you’d expect like doubleknit, various other knits, and crepe, it suggests novelty pique (sounds scary), denim, and hopsacking. I thought hopsacking was something you made, well, sacks out of. Other slightly less unusual suggestions are wool flannel and linen.

My first thought is a very stable doubleknit but I’m worried it will grow. Still, as I have about four projects lined up that I already have fabric for there’s plenty of time to search for the perfect fabric for this one. Plus a big can of hairspray and some platform boots.