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 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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here it is, the very last item in my original wardrobe sewing plan. This blouse is Burda 113 2/2010. It’s a replacement for Vogue 9299, which was my original choice for a black blouse. I had fit problems with the Vogue and I don’t wear it much. I’m hoping this one will be more of a wardrobe staple.
Here’s the technical drawing. I normally find Burda’s line art very accurate, but I’m not convinced this one gives a good idea of the finished garment. The blouse in the line art looks a lot more boxy and the exaggerated collar and cuffs don’t come across. I like my version, but it isn’t quite what I was expecting to end up with.
I did make a few alterations to the pattern: I added my normal amount of length and did a broad and square shoulder adjustment. This had the handy side effect of removing all the ease from the armscye seam. My books say I’m supposed to add it back by making the sleeve cap higher, but I dislike easing sleeves so I didn’t. My arm mobility is still fine. Admittedly I probably overdid the shoulder adjustments and the shoulders have ended up a bit exaggerated, but I like that look, so win-win. I also did a concealed button placket and added a yoke.
The fabric is a polycotton poplin from Minerva Crafts. I was deliberately looking for a polycotton blend for the crease resistance; as it’s black I don’t have to worry about it discolouring.
The buttons are old ones from my button box. This blouse uses a lot – thirteen in all. Amazingly I managed to find a set of thirteen that matched before I started sewing. As I knew I definitely had enough buttons I sewed the buttonholes and added the buttons on the collar stand which I wouldn’t normally bother with. Then when I came to deal with the cuffs I realised a button had gone missing at some point, probably when testing buttonhole sizing. And just before we took these pictures I found another one had dropped off the blouse and had to replace it with a slightly different one, so my matched set is now two down.
The cuffs are pretty dramatic with those points. They are the style that needs cuff links – the buttons are just joined in pairs to make links – so I could always get proper cuff links and use a cuff button to replace the odd one out on the placket.
I added a yoke to the design because I like having the extra structure that comes from the double layer at the upper back. Then I had a moment of doubt: all the shirts in the house with yokes have back pleats, not darts. Maybe having a yoke and darts is some kind of offence against traditional shirt styling. Too late now anyway.
There’s an interesting little detail in this pattern that isn’t visible in Burda’s images: a small triangular gusset in the side seam where it runs into the curved hem. Not a lot of trouble to sew and reinforces a stress point.
I’m wearing it with my flared jeans from the plan here for a slightly 70s look, but of course there are several other combinations. My husband has been patiently photographing the various outfits from the sewing plan so I’ve got some more blog posts planned on how well it all works together.
However considered on its own I think this is a success: the basic shape is good and the slightly exaggerated details add a bit of interest. I’ve never been much good at accessorising so it helps if clothes have interesting features.
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.
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:
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.
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!
This blouse is from Vogue 9299. It’s part of my wardrobe sewing plan but in this case the plan didn’t survive contact with the reality of fabric and the pattern. I wanted a slightly fancy black blouse to wear with my flared jeans and pleated culottes; not massively frilly but definitely feminine. The huge puffed sleeves and sash on view D seemed to fit the bill nicely. It’s the striped one the model is wearing on the pattern envelope.
I was planning to make it in solid black and ordered 3m of wide cotton poplin. I’m now fairly sure I received the wrong fabric: it’s a lawn rather than a poplin and is much narrower than the one I was expecting. Unfortunately I didn’t spot it right away. Three metres of black shirting fabric arrived, I washed it, put it away, and only noticed the width when I pulled it out again to make up the blouse. It was far too late to do anything about it by then. I ended up shortening the pattern 20cm in order to fit it onto the fabric. The very lightweight lawn worked well for the sleeve gathering though, and I’m not convinced the longer length would have been easy to wear, so nothing was lost.
What didn’t work out is the fit. I am lucky enough to fit into Vogue’s standard sizing without needing a tonne of adjustments, but there’s no denying that the shoulders on this are far too narrow for me. Admittedly I adjusted the pattern to include a hidden button placket, but the collar still fits into the neckline so I am sure my adjustments aren’t the cause of the problem.
There is another annoyance with the pattern which is that there are no notches make sure you get the cuffs the right way around. Or if there are, I completely missed them. The slit in the sleeve which allows the cuff to open is just the open end of the underarm seam. I was honestly a bit puzzled as to which side the buttonhole went on and which the button. There were no RTW examples to be found in the house to check. I followed the very tiny technical drawings on the envelope to try to get things the right way round, but now I’m wearing the blouse I’m not even convinced the drawing way is the right way. No one’s going to notice if it is wrong, it’s just an annoyance.
Here is the back view. Apart from the shoulders there is plenty of room. I haven’t got a picture of it without the sash, but it’s voluminous.
I was hoping to be able to wear it tucked in as well as loose, but looking at the picture below I’m not entirely sure it works, at least not with my flared jeans.
When I finished this I was a bit disappointed with the results. I’ve worn it once since then, with wide legged trousers, and really enjoyed the big sleeves and the feeling of being slightly fancy. So I’m on the fence right now. Honest opinions welcome!