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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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

Upside down dragons – patterned fabric and symmetry

Thank-you all so much for the nice comments on my last post about Vogue 1220. I can report it stands up to wearing at work pretty well.

What I’m doing at the moment is making a kimono for my mother. I’ve made kimonos before. The one the one I posted about last year was made from a patterned fabric but I made no effort to match the pattern or worry about which way up it went, and the other couple I’ve done were solid colours. My mother has picked some lovely dark blue and gold Chinese-style brocade with dragons on it and I decided to put some effort into laying it out to best effect.

Here’s the fabric design. I’ve darkened the picture so that the design shows more clearly, but the base colour is really a midnight blue rather than black. The medallion-like motifs are about three inches across and turn out to be curled-up dragons when you look closely, so the whole design is made of dragons and little clouds.

Warning: geekery ahead. At first sight the design looks as if it has a fairly small pattern repeat, something like the cell I’ve drawn below. I assumed the design was ‘one-way’ and had a good look at the curled-up dragons to see which way up they should be placed.

But when I looked more closely I saw that half the curled-up dragons are upside down. The pattern repeat is twice as large as I thought. Whichever way up the fabric is used, half of all the dragons will be upside-down. I’ve drawn the real pattern repeat below. It’s actually rectangular but I must have taken the original picture on the skew.

At this point I thought that the design had two-fold rotational symmetry – in other words you could turn it upside-down and it wouldn’t make a difference – and I started trying to figure out its wallpaper group. It’s possible to classify 2D repeating patterns, such as those on wallpaper and fabric, into exactly seventeen distinct types. I thought I had one of the five types with two-fold rotations. Once you know what rotations there are you start looking for reflections to narrow it down to the exact type. There clearly aren’t any ordinary reflections in the pattern, so I started looking for glide reflections. Then I spotted the clouds. Have a look at the two I’ve circled below, which are next to what appear to be otherwise identical (apart from rotation) dragon motifs. The two clouds are different! The smaller cloud only appears in one orientation within the design, so it is a one-way pattern after all. It’s the simplest of the wallpaper groups, called p1. Once I started looking for it I found a few of the other cloud-like motifs were strictly one-way as well.

It still doesn’t really matter which way up this particular design is placed as long as it is consistent. I put the centre back on one of the vertical lines of medallions, and then tried to lay the rest out so that the pattern matches at the side and sleeve seams as well as possible. I don’t think I’ve done a completely perfect job on the matching, but the fronts and back will demonstrably be the same way up even if you have to squint at the small clouds to tell. I would never have noticed something like that before I started sewing. I’d like to find some wearable fabrics with more elbaorate wallpaper groups.

Into the blue

Vogue 1220 blue version front view

So here’s my version of Vogue 1220 being worn by me for the first time, as opposed to my dressform. I really like it. But it’s not at all the easy-to-wear shirtdress I’d envisioned. This dress is short.

Vogue 1220 blue version back view

I’m surprised by the shortness because the envelope photo shows it stopping on the middle of the model’s knees. I made my usual length adjustments before cutting it out, but I think I’d need to add another four or five inches to get the hem to the equivalent length on me. I am going to have to invest in some very thick tights.

On the other hand, it has highly practical pockets. More dresses should have pockets. And the little sleeves are a nice change, and I love the pleats on the bodice.

Vogue 1220 blue version

Other than the length issue it’s really comfortable. I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough walking ease but it’s come out fine. It’s a great design and I really recommend it – but I’m very glad I read all the Pattern Review reviews of it first because the pattern instructions miss out an important step in finishing the placket. Some of the reviews also point out alternative ways to do some of the steps to avoid hand sewing. I’m all for that.

I’m definitely going to wear this version, but I think I’ll try making it again and adding some length too.