I rarely fail to finish a sewing project. They aren’t all successes by any means but I aim to get them to a state where I can photograph them. This time, not so much.
I was trying to reproduce the Saint Laurent jumpsuit below.
Burda 130-04-2009 seemed like a good starting point: it had the notched collar, close fit, and two piece sleeves. I make a lot of Burda patterns and I’d made a pair of jeans from this very issue which I wear almost once a week, so I was confident about the fit.
I traced the pattern off, armed myself with every photo I could find of the original Saint Laurent garment online and made a list of things to change.
Add the crossover front
Change side seam pockets to slash pockets
Add fake pocket flaps at waist
Add back welt pockets
Tweak the shoulder line to accommodate shoulder pad
Move the darts to line up between bodice and trousers
A while ago I made royal blue satin jogging bottoms on a whim, and then last year I was inspired by the all-blue outfit in the photo below to make a royal blue jumper to go with them. The combination of satin joggers and jumper didn’t get a lot of wear because the satin joggers aren’t a very practical garment. But the idea of wearing royal blue head to toe wouldn’t go away.
This is my second try. I knew I probably wouldn’t get much wear out of delicate cropped trousers like the Saint Laurent ones above so I went for a full length straight legged style in a sturdy cotton canvas fabric. It’s a great colour but the fabric creases like nothing on earth; I ironed them before going out for photos but it looks like I might as well not have bothered.
The pattern is a tried and tested one: Burda 112 03/2012, a pattern for very simple canvas culottes or straight legged trousers with slanted hip pockets. On the original design the front is completely flat and there are a couple of darts and patch pockets in the back. I added front pleats and changed the back patch pockets to welt pockets to match the Saint Laurent trousers, but somehow missed that the originals had turn-ups. The waistband’s a bit narrow compared to the inspiration as well. I really needn’t have bothered coping the pleats and pockets as the basic shape of the pattern is so different that there’s very little resemblance to the inspiration garment.
Incidentally there’s an odd thing about the pattern. I’ve made it three times and on every pair the waistband side and centre back seams have come unstitched after a bit of wear and required fixing up with hand sewing. I haven’t had this problem with any other trouser patterns, and I’ve made lots of different ones over the years. The waist on the pattern isn’t unduly tight and I use interfacing. Is it something to do with the lack of width in the waistband? Do I trim the waistband seams too aggressively? But then why doesn’t it happen on every trouser pattern? I like the pattern enough that I have diligently fixed each pair as it failed despite my hatred of mending, but I wish it didn’t happen at all. I’m writing this here mainly so that next time I make these I remember to stitch the waistband seams with the triple stitch.
The back welt pockets on my version are effectively just decoration because I made them too narrow. It’s a pleasure to make welt pockets in cotton canvas though. No wobbly welts here.
This was a very simple sew. The worst bit was the cutting because my fabric had a big fade mark that I had to work around. Oddly it wasn’t down the centre crease but slightly to one side of it. I had enough length to get all the pieces cut while avoiding the faded bit, but I’d be wary of buying this particular fabric again which is why I’m not linking to the source.
Despite all that I think they’ve come out wearable. I wasn’t aiming for an identical copy of the Saint Laurent outfit in the first place, but I think the fabrics I used give the same vibrant effect while the style of the garments is more practical. No cold ankles for me.
My 80s wardrobe plan has been on hold for a few months because all the pieces are unbearably hot to wear in summer, and we had a lot of summer this year. But now the weather has cooled down slightly so here is the second to last piece: a plain black polo neck top for wearing with both pairs of trousers. I used Burda 120 12/2020 but missed out the gathering. The arms ended up a reasonable length for me – I normally add 5cm to those. The body is a bit on the long side but good for tucking in. I normally add 5cm there too. The collar is very high indeed. I’m wearing it folded over in the photos.
I’m wearing it with the trousers from vintage Vogue 1476 here. It’s come out less boxy than I intended, so I’ve ended up with quite a contrast in proportion between the slim fitting top and the voluminous trousers. Still trying to decide if I like the effect or not. It’s certainly a Look. I probably should have gone up a size to get a more 80s effect.
The fabric is ‘posh ponte’ from Stone Fabrics. It’s mostly viscose with a bit of polyester and elastane; quite heavy and very elastic. It feels a bit like a scuba knit but without the shiny finish. They’ve sold out of the black by now, but there are some other colours available.
While this was intended to go with the trousers shown here it ought to work in plenty of other contexts too. But it’s not the baggy 80s polo neck I was looking for. Back to the pattern collection I think.
My last post was about a grey jumpsuit. So obviously the next thing I made was another grey jumpsuit. This one is Burda 130 09/2011, a drapey style with a crossover front. Burda’s version below looks quite fancy but mine turned out to be surprisingly practical. I wore it a lot just after having a baby, and it shrugged off all the food stains and was comfortable for sitting on the floor and provided deep pockets to stash all the things I didn’t have enough hands to hold, while still managing to look presentable.
My original version fell to bits some years ago, tencel twill not being the most hardwearing fabric. And having recently realised that the thing I wear the most these days is my black Closet Core Blanca jumpsuit, I decided to remake this pattern and compare. I had a length of suitable fabric in my stash from an abandoned project (Merchant and Mills‘ tencel twill in the colour ‘pluto’, sadly no longer available) and I’d kept the pattern tracing, so it was meant to be. I dived straight in and cut out the pattern I’d traced in 2014. I didn’t recall anything particularly difficult about sewing the first version, or any fit problems with the result.
Well this was the most annoying thing I’ve sewn in a while. The fabric was very unstable and I obviously wasn’t careful enough to true it when cutting out the bodice fronts, because the pleats have ended up in slightly the wrong place. They are meant to line up with the topstitching line holding the yoke facing in place, and they don’t. I’ve also got a bit of gapping just under the front yoke seam because the interfacing I added to the self facings was too heavy. The side zip went in perfectly…and then I realised I’d lined it up with the wrong notch and had to rip it out. The second insertion was not nearly as good. The shoulder pleats collide with the shoulder seam allowance in an annoying way. I struggled to turn under the edge of the back neck facing neatly so it’s all jaggy on the inside instead of being a smooth curve.
But this is not all; the fit’s not great either. This wasn’t supposed to be a Tall pattern, but I wonder if it was labelled incorrectly. The bodice is much too long – look at that pleat forming on the back in the photo below – and the crossover won’t stay put. I resorted to adding a small snap. But that’s nothing to the arms and legs. I carefully made the prescribed turnups on the legs, and then had to roll the legs up about 10cm to wear the thing, so I really needn’t have bothered. The arms are a similarly excessive length and so those are turned up up in the photos too. I noticed those in time and hemmed them with the hem allowance turned to the outside so it’s hidden when the sleeves are turned up. I notice I rolled up the arms and legs in my previous version…and the bodice on that just gaped wide open. I always wore a t shirt under it.
Interestingly now I look carefully at Burda’s model in the photo above she is showing a suspicious amount of forearm, so I think her sleeves are rolled up too. There’s a second version of the pattern shown in the magazine and there the sleeves are clearly extra long even though the model has lifted her shoulders.
It’s not the end of the world. I’ll certainly wear this, although always with a tank top underneath. And it does have good pockets. If I ever make this again I’d shorten arms, legs and bodice, and forget about turning the facing edges under. Overlocking’s good enough as an edge finish. I’d probably skip interfacing the self-facings, not that the pattern called for it in the first place. I’d keep the interfacing I added to the zip and pocket openings though.
So after all that, how does it compare to the Blanca? It’s fussier to wear, but the pockets are roomier and it’s a lot more comfortable on a hot day. With my usual brilliant timing I completed it just as the summer is ending, so I’ve got maybe three more weeks before I have to start layering something warm underneath it. I’ll report back.
This top may look a little familiar. It’s Burda 112 11/2015 and I made an almost identical version in March 2021 as part of a wardrobe plan. It rapidly became one of my favourite garments because it’s warm and it goes with everything. Unfortunately the rather expensive wool-blend sweater knit fabric I used for it didn’t stand up to much wear. It pilled, and pilled, and pilled some more. It looked so disgraceful that I bought a sweater comb. Combing it removed an astonishing amount of black fluff – I’m talking a wastepaper basket full – but as soon as I wore it again the pilling returned. The fabric got thinner and thinner, and then a hole developed. Eventually it become too sad even for wearing around the house.
This version is made in boiled wool instead, and 100% wool at that. I know this fabric doesn’t pill because I’ve used it several times before, including for a grey version of this same pattern. It’s from Empress Mills and comes in a range of colours. The zip is harvested from the original top.
I made one change to the pattern this time which was to remove some excess fabric from the chest area. The previous version tended to form a fold just above the bust. I cut a diagonal slash in the pattern from centre front to the shoulder and folded a bit out, then straightened up the centre front line. It seems to have worked to get rid of the fold, but I’ll admit this version is a little harder to get into as a result. The boiled wool doesn’t have much stretch and it’s very close fitting.
Unlike most Burda patterns I make this one is not lengthened in the body or sleeves. The sleeves on the original are ridiculously long. Looking at this version I might even need to shorten them. The body is true to size, but I wanted a shorter version.
I’m very glad to have a new version of this one. And next week, back to the 1980s.
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!)
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?
I made this top specifically to go with the blue satin joggers that are just seen in the pictures. I’m still not sure the combination works, but I’ve found plenty of other things to wear the top with so it deserves a blog post of its own.
The pattern is Burda 115 08/2021, which is intended to be made up in jersey. However I was looking for something a bit warmer and figured it might work in boiled wool as it’s fairly boxy, and the draped neckline should give enough space to get it on without needing the fabric to stretch much. I used Empress Mills boiled wool in royal blue, which right now is still available here.
As you can see, I succeeded in getting it over my head. It’s a little bit a of squeeze and I have a small head for my size so I only just got away with using the boiled wool. The fabric makes the collar really stand up; it’s like wearing a thick woollen scarf. I don’t normally mind a high neckline but I’m always conscious of the collar on this top.
There are some oddities about this pattern. I make a lot of Burda magazine patterns and normally find them reliable and consistently sized. I didn’t bother checking this one carefully before cutting it out, but there’s something off with the sleeves. First they are unusually short – I had to take a tiny hem – and second the shoulder doesn’t sit nicely. It’s sort of visible in the back view below: the shoulders are quite pointy. I initially blamed it on the boiled wool, but I’ve previously used this boiled wool for another boxy cropped jumper and I don’t have the same problem with that one – it’s another Burda too.
It’s better with arms by sides. Part of the problem definitely comes from the collar construction, which leads to an extra layer of fabric at the left armscye, which is the more pointy of the two. So maybe it would be OK in jersey.
I shortened the body quite a bit because I wanted this to be cropped. I also took it in at the sides from the waist to the hips to get that square shape. Now I come to look at the line drawing again the original wasn’t at all the shape I wanted; I should have taken the collar and grafted it on to the pattern I used for my previous boiled wool jumper.
Anyway, wonky shoulders aside I have found this a surprisingly wearable top. It goes well with my collection of grey and silver bottoms and it’s super warm. The colour is cheerful too.
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.
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.
Here’s the line art. It’s a very low cut design which means the neckline doesn’t show when worn under the dress. Despite this it stays in place beautifully – no worries about bending forward. The fabric probably helps. It’s John Kaldor Isabella wool/elastane jersey in charcoal. Super stretchy and quite warm, highly recommended. I got mine from Sew Essential but I’ve seen other fabric shops stock it.
I made a right mess of tracing and cutting this one. I somehow missed adding the placement marks for the front pieces and ended up guessing where to attach them, getting it completely wrong, and then having to rip out overlocked seams in black thread on black fabric. I also got immensely confused as to which side of the front wrap goes on top. The two fronts are not mirror images – the side that goes underneath isn’t full length. I cut out the larger, top, piece first, suddenly thought that I’d done it the wrong side up, hacked it down to be the under piece and then realised I had been right the first time. I didn’t want to waste fabric by cutting new front pieces so my shirt ended up with the right front on top although Burda’s has the opposite. What threw me is that women’s clothes normally close right over left.
There’s not a lot to see on the back view, but I do like Burda’s technique for the back neckline. It’s finished with a narrow stretch binding strip turned to the inside and top-stitched down, which is something I often see in ready to wear. I’m less keen on the hems. The hem allowance given for the sleeves is 6cm, which was impossible to sew with the machine – I couldn’t reach inside the very narrow sleeve far enough to sew close to the edge without the whole thing getting caught up around the presser foot. I ended up trimming the sleeve hem allowance back quite a bit to avoid hand hemming. I’m not sure what the function of such a deep hem was; I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.
While I doubt I’ll wear this on its own much – I don’t want to blind people with the glare from my pasty chest skin – I think it’ll be a useful under layer. But now I’m off to sew less practical and more fun things for a while. Thanks to my husband for taking the photos!
This cardigan is what remains of my version of Burda 111 06/2021. The original design’s extended fronts join in a loop and go around the back of the neck. I sewed it up according to the pattern and spent some time figuring out how to make it lie neatly. But it just doesn’t work in the very drapey bamboo jersey I picked; as soon as I move the loop pulls itself into a long skinny tie rather than an elaborate drape, which looks very odd. I also seriously regretted my decision to ignore Burda’s finishing instructions for the edges. Burda says to fold the raw edge under twice, press, and topstitch. I decided life was too short and my fingers too sore for this, and did a twin needle hem instead. But the wrong side shows enough when the loop is draped around the neck that it looks bad: I never managed to trim the inside edge on a twin needle hem completely evenly. In this case I even made some holes by trimming too much and had to darn them. So sorry, Burda, you were right on that one.
After several failed attempts to fix the messy drape in place by connecting its edge around the neckline I gave up and picked up the shears on the grounds that I couldn’t make it any less wearable than it already was. I cut the loop apart by cutting out the original joining seam. This was not only therapeutic, I like what I’ve ended up with even though it’s very different to the garment I imagined.
This is how skinny that draped section goes when hanging in the bamboo; it’s meant to cover half the chest.
Burda’s instructions say to use ‘fine jersey’ . I’d interpret that as something slinky – hence the bamboo – but I think what’s actually needed is fabric with sufficient body to not collapse under its own weight. Cotton jersey without any elastane might do, or a ponte. I’m not sure what Burda used, but in the model photo it looks quite heavyweight.
The pattern has a hook and eye at the front so instead of tying the fronts they can hang loose and still provide a bit of coverage. I’m surprised to find I like it styled this way. The shape is interesting. And there’s always the option to tie the fronts up if I suddenly have to climb a ladder or something.
The back view is completely plain and the back is not at all fitted. I found it looked sloppy on me with the original loop arrangement, but oddly seems better with the fronts loose. Perhaps the weight of the fronts dragging down draws it closer in to the body.
This was made as part of my current wardrobe plan, so I’m wearing it with the trousers and crew necked t shirt (not yet blogged) from the plan. Thanks to my husband for the photos.