Blue Blanca

A woman wearing a bright blue denim jumpsuit stands in front of some bushes. The jumpsuit has a zip front, rolled up hems, chest and hip pockets, and a buckled belt just below the natural waist.

I’m still reaching for a jumpsuit when getting dressed more often than not. I’ve currently got two Closet Core Blancas on the go, one in black denim and one in grey denim, and a drapey Burda one in grey tencel . There’s no denying the Blanca is the more practical of the two designs and it’s the one I wear the most so it was time to make a third version. This time I went for a bright blue stretch denim from Fabric Godmother.

Here’s the line art. I made view A but skipped the leg tabs and lengthened the legs considerably, intending to make turnups. Then when I got to the end I couldn’t be bothered and just hemmed the legs and rolled them up. This turned out to be a good decision because I find it needs different hem lengths depending on whether I’m wearing it with boots or trainers and I can just adjust how much I roll the legs. Laziness for the win.

Closet Core Blanca Flight Suit line art, closetcorepatterns.com

I made the size the pattern recommended for my measurements. It’s a close fitting design and for nonstretch denim I would definitely size up. I added length for fit to the bodice, legs and sleeves as is usual for me on almost any pattern, plus the extra to the legs for the turnups that didn’t materialise.

The bodice back is meant to be blousy, but I always also get a big wrinkle just below the back waistband with this pattern, and the waistband is a little loose. The design doesn’t have back darts or a yoke on the trousers to take up the excess fabric. I added elastic to the waistband on my grey version which pulls it in nicely but changes the wrinkles to gathers which I’m not fond of either. Maybe next time I’ll try adding a yoke?

I was surprised how difficult this fabric was to sew with. It’s 98% cotton 2% elastane so I was expecting something fairly stable but in fact it’s very stretchy indeed. I sewed the centre front zip in three times and ripped it out again because the fabric stretched and my zip went all wobbly. Eventually I resorting to adding extra interfacing along the front opening. The pattern says to add a strip wide enough to cover the seam allowances but I needed to double that so that the interfacing extended over the top stitching lines on the bodice front. Anyway it did the trick. And the stretch is nice to wear. No danger of ripping a seam when you reach for something.

I’m glad I picked top stitching thread close to the fabric colour; there are lots of places where I had to unpick and redo bits. This one is the Gutermann Extra Strong thread: not quite as heavy as normal top stitching thread but still makes a nice line.

I couldn’t get zips to match the blue. These are navy. They also had to have silver teeth to match the buckle which reduced the choice even further. I ended up with very chunky ones which were a bit much for the breast pocket pattern pieces. There’s some extra hand sewing holding those pockets together.

This has become a firm favourite already. Thanks to my husband for the photos.

Too much blue? Burda 106 04/2017

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the top in these pictures, which was made purely to go with these very shiny joggers that I made last year. They need a boxy top to offset the expanse of shiny fabric around the hips. So I made the new top and then still wasn’t sure the combination was wearable.

We took these pictures a few weeks ago and since then I have worn this outfit for real on a couple of days, and even ventured out of the house in it. So having given the joggers a bit of wear it’s time to post about them properly. They’re from a Burda pattern, 106 04/2017, and a length of satin given to me by a friend of my mum’s (thanks again Sue!)

Line art for Burda 106 04/2017, a pair of jogging trousers with zip pockets, elastic waist and ankle cuffs, and a drawstring
Burda 106 04/2017 line art, burdastyle.de

I’m not totally sure where the waist on these is meant to sit. They look quite low on the model photo but the elastic makes them naturally creep up a bit. The pockets are a good size and I like the security of the zips. The zips would be easy enough to skip if you didn’t want scratchy teeth getting in the way of your hands though.

I wish I’d made the legs longer. The annoying thing was that I had enough fabric to do it but didn’t realise until it was far too late. I usually lengthen trousers by 5cm and I don’t remember doing anything different from normal with this pattern when I traced it, so I think these must have been really short to start with.

They’re comfortable to wear but reactions tend to be along the lines of ‘they’re very …blue’. They are starting to grow on me though, and I’m excited to try them out with a grey t shirt when the weather is warm enough. So, honest opinions?

Burda 106 4/2017

I’m taking a break from blogging the 80s sewing to record a project from last year. These joggers were made in the autumn when I suddenly found myself craving more colourful clothes. I had a length of royal blue satin in my stash given away by a friend of my mum’s that I’d never found a use for. A search of my Burda archive for patterns for satin turned up 106 4/2017 which seemed right up my street.

Burda 106 4/2017 line art of a pair of jogging bottoms with elastic ankle cuffs and waist and a drawstring
Burda 106 4/2017 line art, burdastyle.ru

The colour of this fabric is amazingly saturated. The photos look as if they’re enhanced, but it really is that vivid in real life. There was no hope of getting zips with a tape that even vaguely matched, but navy blue looks fine. And I got lucky with some royal blue cord for the drawstring. Both came from the City Cycle Centre in Ely, which despite the name is an old fashioned department store with an excellent haberdashery.

The eyelets are gunmetal grey ones from my stash.

What I did have trouble with was elastic; the Burda pattern is drafted for widths of elastic that I couldn’t source, so my elastic channels at the waist and ankles have a bit more space than Burda intended. But I was very glad of that when inserting the elastic; it was a difficult job even with the extra room and I think it isn’t obvious that it’s too narrow.

I finished these a couple of months ago, so why haven’t I blogged them until now? Well the sad thing is that I haven’t worn them because I don’t have a single top that works with them. I made a blue wool jersey t shirt especially for them but the proportions are all wrong – it’s slim fitting and these need something substantial on the top half to balance them out, otherwise all you see is an expanse of shiny blue hips. I’m starting to fear these might be too much for me. Footwear is an issue too – they look best with light coloured shoes which aren’t practical in the wet and muddy environment around here.

I have a blue wool jumper on the sewing table right now which I hope will save them. And if that doesn’t work then I’ll keep them until the summer and see if I like them better when I can wear different shoes and tops.

Change of direction

For about the last year I’ve been steadily sewing through a couple of wardrobe plans, with a bunch of pieces designed to mix and match. I rarely wear colour so I’ve been sticking to black, grey, and white so everything goes with everything. A couple of weeks ago I finished the last piece, a fairly plain black v neck top – photos to come – and started thinking about what to do next.

While I’ve made some pieces I really love from the wardrobe plans, the whole mix and match thing isn’t working as well as I expected. I don’t mix my separates up much: for each bottom I know the top that goes with it best, and rarely pair it with anything else. But it is nice not to have wardrobe orphans, so perhaps the solution is to sew outfits rather than whole wardrobes. And that has the advantage that it’s slightly easier to add a bit of colour…and after a year of grey even I’m ready to introduce some variation.

I cautiously set out with Vogue 1567, a Paco Peralta design which comprises a boat neck knit top and a dramatic skirt.

Vogue 1567 line art: a dolman sleeved top and draped skirt

Here’s the result. Dress form photos only because I haven’t had a chance to do modelled ones, but I’m really excited to wear this.

A dressform wearing a blue and black striped top and a long black skirt stands in front of a bookcase

Admittedly the skirt’s black. This is because it’s a huge fabric hog and I already had a suitable length of black poplin in my stash, but I haven’t made a coloured top for…well, I can’t actually remember.

I’m also planning a yellow dress, a green jacket, bright blue trousers. There’s a bit of white in the scheme too because it’s bright. I’m not going too overboard: the blue and green fabrics have been lurking in my stash for years.

Blue, yellow, green and white fabrics on a grey tile floor

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Blue Burda 114 11/2011

Blue Burda 114 11/2011

It’s been a while since I posted. Despite the silence I have been sewing a lot, but for other people. This top is a Burda 114 11/2011, for my sister. It’s difficult to get an accurate impression of it when it’s flat because of the unusual neckline; it needs to be on a body. Here’s Burda’s picture.

Most people who have reviewed this pattern comment that they needed to size down and the neckline is much higher than on Burda’s photo and that has been my experience too. Here’s my first version.

I made a bit more of an effort with the insides on the blue one than I did on my own grey version of this; I overlocked the seam allowances and finished the hems with a flat lock hem. The fabric is a blue and white heathered jersey that came from Misan a few years ago. The inside is covered in loops like a terry so hopefully it will be warm despite being very lightweight.

My own version of this has proved very wearable. The only thing I have doubts about is the sleeve length. They’re meant to be extra long, but I think it’s overdone. I like my sleeves longer than average but these are ridiculous. I keep thinking about using the sleeves from Burda 119 01/2013 instead, which have gathering at the end so they look extra long without actually covering your entire hand. They need a lot of fabric though.

Next up: a foray into menswear.

The Lady or the Tiger? Burda 102-06-2014

Disclaimer: the only tiger in this post is the ceramic one in the picture below.

Burda 102-06-2014

Burda’s June 2014 issue had a great story on Japanese-inspired styles. This is model 104, a very simple jersey dress with a twist detail on the body and sleeves. I can’t see anything particularly Japanese about it, but suspect the starting point may have been the Japanese Pattern Magic books which contain a top with a similar body twist.

Burda 104-06-2014 technical drawing

December probably wasn’t the best month to make this. The neckline is wide – only just covering bra straps – and low at the back. I have been mostly wearing the dress over a long sleeved t-shirt and thick tights! Which works OK, but it looks better like this.

Burda 102-06-2014 front view

It’s made from a very elastic doubleknit fabric. It’s mainly viscose. I don’t remember the exact composition but there must be some lycra in there too as it’s got great recovery.

I added little single welt pockets to the front. I was nervous about making those in a knit but they came out well. Time spent making pockets is never regretted afterwards in my experience, but my goodness it slows a project down. This is a very simple dress to sew and adding the pockets more than doubled the time taken.

The back view is super-plain although I think the neckline and twist just save it from coffin back syndrome.

Burda 102-06-2014 back view

It’s slightly fussy to wear. The twist has a tendency to straighten itself out and then it looks like the side seams are crooked. Burda’s garment photo has this problem too so it’s not just my version! I suppose I could take it in a little to try to make it stay put but I think that might end with it becoming uncomfortable. I wore it quite a lot over the Christmas break despite all this so I’m calling it a qualified success. I doubt I’ll make it another but this one has a place in my wardrobe.

Thanks for all the suggestions about a belt for the Jedi dress. There’s a clear majority in favour of metallic so I’m going with that. Janene came up the great idea of making one out of metallic pleather and it just so happens that I have some silver pleather scraps over from another project – here’s hoping there’s enough left!

Striped goodness: Vogue 8866 top

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Sometimes the pattern comes first, sometimes the fabric. A few months ago I bought an interesting remnant in the sale room at Misan Fabrics. It’s a highly textured blue knit on a black backing. The textured side has what I can only describe as ripply stripes. I didn’t have any immediate plans for it but it was too good to pass up: warm, stretchy, and a bit different.

Blue textured doubleknit

It came out of the stash recently when I was wanting another knit top. I thought about making it up as a plain long sleeved t-shirt shape, but I feared so many horizontal stripes might be overwhelming. In my scrapbook I found a picture of a dress made from a fabric with a similar textured stripe. It had a centre front seam with the stripes placed on the bias, making a chevron effect. That worked well: it showed off the texture but the fabric wasn’t the only thing that you’d notice about the design.

The knit top/dress out of Vogue 8866 came to mind as a suitable pattern to start with to reproduce the effect. It has a centre front seam and raglan sleeves. I’d already made it up once before in sparkly silver knit so I knew the fit was OK.

Vogue 8866 line art

I made the neckline a bit higher than the original pattern has it, and cut the front panels on the bias. I faced the neck with a plain black viscose jersey rather than self fabric. I also skipped all the top-stitching from the original pattern as I think it would have looked odd with the stripes.

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I really should have cut the back yoke on the bias. That wobbly horizontal seam across the upper back is my sixth attempt to make the stripes look balanced. I promise the previous five goes were even worse. Fortunately the fabric doesn’t mind unpicking, and the seam isn’t really visible unless you look closely.

I made a slight effort to match the stripes across the vertical back seams. Everywhere else there was no need because of the bias panels and raglan seams.

I extended the neck to make an underlap on one side and added snaps for the closure. Vogue uses hooks and eyes but I don’t see how they would stay fastened once you started moving about – not unless you made the neck really tight anyway. Also snaps are easier to sew. I don’t like hand sewing, so the hem on this was done with my sewing machine’s blind hem function and the sleeve hems are machine stitched with a narrow zigzag. The only hand sewing is the snaps.

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This isn’t such a good picture of the top but I like it because it shows the whole outfit. I sometimes wear ridiculous shoes for blog photos, but this is actually how I’ll wear this top in practice, with jeans and boots. Hope that keyhole at the back isn’t too drafty!

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The longest dress – Vogue 1239 again

Vogue 1239 is one of my favourite patterns. It’s a Chado Ralph Rucci wrap dress with many of his signature features: kimono sleeves, high collar, and endless top-stitching. Oh, the top-stitching. I first made this a couple of years ago and it took about a month. That was when I had more free time to sew and a working iron.

When Winnie of Scruffy Badger Time kindly invited me to do a post for her Desert Island Sewing series I picked Vogue 1239 as one of my eight patterns on the grounds that on a desert island I’d have time to sew it again. And then I thought, why not sew it again anyway? I wear my original one at least once a week so it’s worth the time.

Well, this took two whole months. OK so I stopped in the middle to sew my mother’s Christmas present and then my iron broke and I didn’t have time to go and buy a new one. But even so it was a slog. It took two evenings just to cut and mark the fabric and lining.

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The fabric is a navy blue cotton poplin. I think I bought it on Goldhawk Road at Rachel’s epic blogger meetup last April. It feels like it’s got a bit of poly in it which (heresy) I quite like because it keeps the creases away. The lining is a 100% polyester fabric called Eton taffeta which I got from John Lewis. It’s quite heavy for a lining which works well for this dress. I nearly didn’t buy it because it was suspiciously cheap and I’ve had bad experiences with cheap lining fabric. But it had a good hand so I took the risk. I will certainly buy it again as it sewed up very well.

The pattern doesn’t call for any interfacing despite the crisp final effect. The sharpness comes from all the top-stitching.

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This is a very practical dress despite its fancy origins. The style is great for cycling (with leggings underneath) and it has pockets. Pockets are good.

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There’s a lot of detail on the back view of this one. All those seams. All that top-stitching. Did I mention the top-stitching enough yet? I think I got through four or five bobbins.

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Even after I finished the dress it took forever to get photos of it because of New year celebrations and the bad weather. So this is technically the last project of 2013, not the first of 2014. I’m not going to do an end-of-year sewing round up because I’ve sewed so little in the last 12 months I think the numbers would depress me. So I’ll give you a silly photo instead. Happy new year!

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You can’t win them all

Last week I finally managed to complete a dress I started making at the beginning of May. It’s taken nearly a month – real life took over from sewing for a while! I tried the finished dress on with great excitement, only to realise that the project is a complete failure. It’s wearable enough to photograph under strictly controlled conditions though, so here you go.

This is what I was aiming for. It’s Burda 134-06-2012. An unusual but comfortable summer dress with pockets.

Burda 134-0-6-2012 model photo

The line art gives a better idea of the shape of the pattern. The fabric recommendation is cloqué. I think that’s some sort of textured woven fabric – maybe a bit like a piqué? I used a mystery twill weave stretch woven I bought in Birmingham last year. It’s a lovely shade of petrol blue and has a slight sheen.

Burda 134-06-2012 line art

And here is my version. It’s a good thing the fabric has a bit of stretch or I wouldn’t be able to get it on! I made my usual size in Burda, but the skirt has come out much too tight over the hips. I really should have gone up a size, or possibly two. The lack of length of the skirt is a problem as well. Because of the position of the pockets I have a choice between belting it short enough that the pockets are in the bodice (as Burda has done) or on the hips as I have here. Suffice to say the ‘pockets in the bodice’ look is not one I shall be posting on the Internet. The skirt on my version is unhemmed, so I think this pattern just comes up really short.

Burda 134-06-2012 front view

The sleeve bands have worked out quite well considering my fabric is both stretchy and almost unpressable. This is definitely a dress to wear a vest under though because the armholes are deep. Don’t know what’s going on with my expression in that picture.

Burda 134-06-2012 sleeve bands

And then there’s the back view. The zip’s definitely too heavy for this fabric. I couldn’t get a matching zip or even a grey one in the right length, hence the beige. It looked OK against the fabric under artificial light but I’m less convinced now I see it in daylight.

The skirt is hanging very badly; again that’s because it isn’t large enough for me on the hips so fabric tends to pool just below the waist.

Burda 134-06-2012

I think there’s a really nice dress in here that’s been killed by a combination of horrible fabric choice and dodgy pattern sizing. Right now I’m dithering as to whether to put the pattern in the recycling or hang onto it for another try in the future with a fabric that’s got more body. This version is going in the scraps bag! One more slightly silly photo to finish with and then never again will this see the light of day.

Burda 134-06-2012 front view

Radio silence

I’ve been having a little break from blogging for the last couple of weeks because real life has been getting in the way. But things have calmed down a little now, and I managed to get some sewing done at the weekend. The weather’s been so unseasonably cold in the UK lately that I was in need of more warm dresses for work. Enter some blue wool doubleknit that’s been lurking in my stash for a while and Burda 122-09-2010. This is the 2010 September cover dress that was a huge hit in the sewing blogosphere at the time.

Burda 122-09-2010

I’ve made this pattern a couple of times before. I did a version in a grey mystery knit and a sleeveless one in neoprene, but I think the new one is my favourite. It’s very comfortable and easy to wear.

The doubleknit doesn’t fray at all, so I didn’t finish any of the seams or hem the dress. This makes it a bit flimsy at the hemline, but it’s livable with.

Burda 122-09-2010
I’m hoping the weather warms up soon, but I have plans for some more wool knit dresses in the near future if it doesn’t.

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