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

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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.

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.

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.

The impossible colour

Behold my sister’s new dress, which she has kindly let me blog pictures of before putting it in the post to her. It’s Simplicity 3775, a classic knit dress and sadly now out of print. The fabric is a wool-elastane jersey which came from Cloth House on Berwick Street in London. My sister wanted a greeny-blue or bluish-grey colour so I was really pleased to find this fabric, which is pretty much exactly the colour I was thinking of.

The colour is the strangest thing. I couldn’t find thread to match it. Everything in Coats Duet was either slightly too blue or too green. Very dark green or black worked best. This was handy as the overlocker was threaded in black already.

The colour’s come out more blue than green in the pictures and the flash has really enhanced the subtle sheen of the jersey. It’s not shiny in real life!

Dragon kimono pictures

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I’d been making a kimono for my mother. It is now with her, so I can post some pictures of the finished object!

Dragon kimono close up

Dragon kimono front full length

Unfortunately you can’t really see the sleeves when it’s hanging on the dressform, so here’s a better shot. The cuffs were an improvisation because I got the length of the sleeves wrong when I was working out the layout, but I think they work well.

Dragon kimono sleeve

It’s not lined. The brocade is a lovely gold colour inside.

Dragon kimono showing inside

And here’s a completely gratuitous shot of the seam and hem finish. I’m normally the queen of not caring what the inside of a garment looks like (after all, who’s going to see?), but this fabric frayed so much it absolutely required binding the edges. And I will admit it looks nice, but I doubt I’ll be doing this on any well-behaved fabric.

Hong kong seam finish and hem with binding