Should have known better: Burda 127-10-2014

Burda 127-10-2014 front view

Here’s a make that didn’t work out, Burda 127-10-2014. The annoying thing is that most of the problems were entirely predictable, had I thought about the pattern more carefully in advance. But I was carried away by the cute raglan seaming, the exposed zip, the pockets, and the roomy silhouette. Here’s the line art. Have a good look, maybe you’ll see what I missed.

Burda 127-10-2014 line art

It’s basically rectangular, and the bagginess only goes so far in accomodating my current shape, but that’s not the issue. The pockets are nice and big which is a point in its favour. I somehow managed to cut the sleeve bands horribly off-grain which is why they’re twisting, and they were a pain to insert because the polyester crepe I used does not tolerate even the smallest size mismatch. But none of that is the fault of the pattern.

Burda 127-10-2014 pockets

The problem is the shoulder line. Look what happens when I move my arms. The shoulder line creases and the whole dress moves up. The shoulder line is so dropped and curved that there’s no way you can lift your arms and hence the sleeves without lifting the rest of dress. And the shape of the shoulder is quite clear on the line art so this shouldn’t have been a surprise; I just didn’t spot it in advance.

Burda 127-10-2014 pulling

Some of the pulling is clearly being made worse by the distorting effect of my bump. Look at that drag line.

Burda 127-10-2014 pulling

Just for completeness, here’s the back complete with exposed zip. The back is so plain it really needs that zip detail. I’m slightly surprised Burda didn’t repeat the raglan seaming on the back to add a bit of interest.

Burda 127-10-2014 back view

I often have trouble getting the right zip forĀ  a project but for once for once I got lucky. I found this one on eBay. The tape colour is almost an exact match for the fabric and the puller is a bit different: a short chain with a ball on the end rather than the usual zip puller. The back of the dress is so plain it needs all the help it can get. I didn’t do the greatest job inserting the zip but it looks OK from a distance. The neck binding isn’t great either because the fabric I used was a bit too heavy for the pattern and so the binding pattern piece didn’t have enough turn-of-cloth allowance.

Burda 127-10-2014 zip

I am going to put this dress away until after the baby and see if it’s any more comfortable when the bump isn’t taking up all the extra space in it.

Burda 127-10-2014 side view

Burda 130-06-2010

Gold and silver: Burda 130-06-201

Burda 130-06-2010 side view

This is Burda 130-06-2010, the first real maternity pattern I’ve made. I have to say I cannot tell the difference between the fit on this and some of the blocky women’s dress styles you can find in any issue of Burda. I thought it might have extra width around the bump area, but when I traced the pattern it was essentially rectangular. The zip serves no purpose that I can see.

Burda 103-06-2010 line art

I picked the style because I like the notched collar, and it looked simple enough to sew up fast. I cannot say whether the instructions were any good because the pattern came from a German language copy of Burda 06/2010 I bought on eBay. When I bought it I thought I might be able to get some help with the construction from Google Translate but what came out was so confused it might as well have still been in German for all the good it did me. I found that comparing the instructions in an English language Burda with the German issue and looking up a few important nouns was much more helpful. The structure is exactly the same in English and German so you can tell what each paragraph is about from the order they come in. Based on that I was at least able to find out which pattern pieces had seam allowances included andĀ  what to add to those that didn’t.

The intended method of construction for the collar remained something of a mystery. There seemed to be two possibilities: sew the shoulder seams, attach the lower collar facing to the lower neckline first and then construct the rest of the collar as you would a notched jacket collar; or make up the whole collar unit first including all the facings and then stitch the lot to the dress. There is no back neck facing and the neckline seam is finished with binding, so either would work.

In the end I went for the second option, using the instructions for the collar on my black Burda jumpsuit to help construct the collar. Then I sewed the shoulder seams, attached the collar to the neckline, and bound the collar seam. Finally I sewed the side seams, adding side seam pockets which are not in the original pattern, and hemmed the armsyces and bottom edge. It seems to have come out OK! The neckline seam isn’t totally smooth around that deep v neck but the collar covers the puckers. I should have used a smaller seam allowance around the collar instead of Burda’s standard 1.5cm and then maybe I could have got it in flat. Next time.

Burda 130-06-2010 front view

The fabric is a lovely golden coloured cotton poplin from Misan Textiles; a birthday present from my parents. The original dress was also made in poplin but the collar looks softer than mine. I used Vilene F220 to interface my collar, which is a lightweight fusible, but Burda’s version used G785 which is even lighter than F220 and also has some stretch.

Burda 130-06-2010 back view

This dress benefits from being worn with a loose belt to contain some of the volume above the bump. Partly that’s because the cotton has quite a bit of body; I wanted something crisp. I think you could also make this up in a drapier fabric and then you wouldn’t need a belt. Years ago I had a similarly shaped ready to wear dress – no darts at all – made from a navy artificial silk that never needed a belt, although it probably wasn’t quite as wide as this one as I remember it being a bit of a wriggle to get on as it didn’t have a zip. I wore that one until the seams started to give way.

I added in-seam pockets.

Burda 130-06-2010 side view

I’m happy with this and I love the colour. It’s just occurred to me that if I’d bothered to put in the zip I could convert it later on by adding some darts, but a belt is fine too. And now I have enough clothes that fit to get me through a working week again.

Orange Burda 106-04-2014

Orange x-wrap dress

Orange Burda 106-04-2014

Here’s version 2 of Burda 106-04-2014, the x-wrap dress. This one is made in one of the most awkard fabrics I have ever tried to sew: a very lightweight, slightly sheer silk. I normally steer well clear of such things but it was a very cheap bolt end in the sale room at Misan Textiles, there was just enough of it for the pattern, and I couldn’t turn down that almost fluorescent orange colour.

I hate cutting out shifty fabric. I did a bit of googling for tips for dealing with lightweight fabrics. A lot of sites suggest spray starch but there seems to be no consensus as to whether you should press starched fabric with or without steam, and lots of warnings about potentially burning the starch and marking the fabric if you get the iron too hot. Eventually I came across this recipe for using gelatine to stiffen chiffon before cutting and sewing. The method seemed pretty clear and sensible so I gave it a go – thanks Jo! The gelatine I could get came was in leaves rather than a powder and was ‘platinum grade’ – apparently there are lots of other grades available and they have different setting power which makes it kind of tricky to substitute. I think I used three leaves to three litres of water. It certainly stiffened the fabric and made it a lot easier to cut and sew. The downside is that you can’t use any steam when pressing or the fabric might go sticky. And the fabric didn’t press well without steam as you can see from the generally wavy effect. I washed the dress once it was finished but it doesn’t seem to have completely removed the gelatine as the fabric is still less fluid than it was when I bought it. On the upside it doesn’t wrinkle as badly as I thought it would. These photos were taken after wearing the dress all day. I didn’t press it at all before we went out to take them, so what you have here is what it really looks like after a day’s wear. Maybe more washing will gradually soften it up again.

Orange Burda 106-04-2014

I already posted about my fitting and facing changes but I also left out the zip as it’s not needed, and slip-stitched the shawl collar down to the outer neckline seam to make it stay put. I couldn’t use interfacing with this fabric so the sharp points where the wrap pieces grow out of the front of the dress are reinforced with bias squares of the outer fabric sewn to the wrong side along the seamlines. I kept the inseam pockets, which are a lot easier to sew when you don’t put a zip in the seam right next to a pocket.

I tried to take a little more care with the hem on this version but it’s even worse than the brown one: uneven and very wavy. I hoped it would look a bit better after washing the dress and pressing with steam but no. I’m not going to unpick it as I don’t think a second attempt’s likely to be much better and the fabric might not survive the experience. It looks less fragile in the pictures than it is in real life.

Orange Burda 106-04-2014

I don’t think this is as successful as the brown version, but it’s a perfectly wearable summer dress (well OK, wearable with a slip) and I love the colour. The fitting changes seem to have worked too. Two copies of this pattern is enough for now, but it’s one I might go back to at some point.

Fitting the Burda x-wrap dress

Burda 106-04-2014

This was my first version of Burda 106-04-2014. No sooner than it was finished I started working on a second one and took the opportunity to tweak the pattern a little. The version above isn’t bad, but the sleeves are a little constricting and I felt I could do with a bit more room in the bust. I don’t know you’re meant to do a full bust adjustment on this sort of pattern but here’s what I’ve done. The picture below is the front pattern piece, which is cut on the fold.

Burda 106-04-2014 front pattern piece

In the pictures below red areas are bits I’ve added and blue is where I have taken away. I slid a chunk of the front out sideways to give a bit more bust room, and reduced the shoulder width so that the shoulder seam would be sitting on my shoulder point rather than slightly over it.

Burda 106-04-2014 alterations

Those two changes affected the length of the armscye so I had to make the sleeve wider to match. No bad thing as the original sleeves felt slightly tight; I’d been planning to flatten the sleeve cap anyway.

Burda 106-04-2014 sleeve alterations

That’s it for fitting alterations, but the fabric I’m using is slightly transparent and so I also needed to do something about the neckline finish. The original design has a skinny back neck facing which is a single interfaced layer, overlocked on the outer edge. That clearly isn’t going to look good in a sheer fabric. Also the facing didn’t behave well on the first version and had to be top-stitched down to keep it in place.

I did a bit of snoop shopping to see how this sort of thing would be handled in ready to wear clothes. I found very few summer dresses with facings. Most were lined. A few, mainly in casual fabrics, had the neckline seam covered with a strip of binding. The ones which did have facings all had a centre back zip with the facings sewn to the zip tape to hold them down. The facings themselves were invariably much wider than those on the Burda design.

I didn’t fancy trying to bind the neckline seam in slippery silk, and I had nothing to line the dress with, so I had to stick with a facing. Although the original design has no centre back seam I had already had to add one because of a shortage of fabric, so I figured I could sew the facing to the seam allowances on that or stitch in the ditch to hold it in place. To try to make it look nicer I made the facings much wider around the neck than the original and cut two copies of each piece. Those then get sewn right sides together at the outer edge and turned out to give a facing with slightly more body than a single layer and a very clean finish to the edge.

Burda 106-04-2014 facing alterations

And here’s what it looks like. Acceptable if not brilliant, and probably the best I could manage with lightweight silk. It is not well-pressed for excellent reasons I shall go into in my next post, and I should have done a french seam on the centre back but life’s too short. It’s wearable and the facings stay put and that’ll do.

Facings on orange x-wrap dress

Next up, modelled finished object pictures.

Worth it in the end: Burda 106-04-2014

Burda 106-04-2014 side view

Burda is sometimes unfairly accused of churning out endless boring patterns based on rectangles. There are certainly plenty of boxy tops and dresses in the magazine (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) but also no shortage of more complex designs like this style, 106-04-2014. This is a wonderfully practical summer dress: it is very roomy, has pockets, and protects my shoulders and neck from the sun. I was very boring and made it up in practically the same colour and type of fabric as Burda’s sample: a greyish brown silk. Mine’s from the sale room at Misan Textiles.

Here’s the line art.

Burda 106-04-2014 line art
I was very glad this was the illustrated ‘sewing course’ pattern for the month with detailed instructions; the x-wrap detail isn’t technically very difficult to sew once you have worked out what’s going on, but the pictures were a great help in determining which edges to sew to which. Burda’s usual terse instructions probably wouldn’t have been enough.

I made a couple of very minor changes, which were to top-stitch the hem and to top-stitch down the back neck facing to stop it flipping up. I didn’t do a brilliant job on either but I can live with it.

Burda 106-04-2014 back view

I love that the dress has pockets although I did have a bit of trouble with them. The side seams of the front are cut slightly on the bias and they stretched out very slightly despite my applying strips of interfacing to the seam allowances. The pattern also has a zip in the left side seam. Successfully combining a zip with an inseam pocket, wriggly fabric, and a bias edge took a couple of tries and a bit of hand sewing to get a good insertion. And then after all the faff getting the zip in I found I can get in and out of the dress without it, even though the fabric has no stretch at all.

I swear that weird wrinkle below the pocket isn’t normally there. In fact this side of the dress is the one without the zip and hence has the better pocket insertion.

Burda 106-04-2014 side view
When this issue of Burda first came out I remember reading a review where someone (sorry, can’t remember who!) expressed the opinion that the hem on this dress was never going to hang well. It’s a bit odd. It looks fairly straight when I’m walking.

Burda 106-04-2014

But not so much when standing still. I considered interfacing the hem to try to reduce the wavy effect but after making samples I found I preferred the softer hem.

Anyway despite all the quibbling I really do like this dress. It’s a slightly unusual style but easy to wear. The silk feels very luxurious and was worth all the sewing problems. I have just cut out a second one, in a rather more experimental and even more temperamental fabric. Wish me luck.

Burda 106-04-2014

Blingtastic jeans

Burda 103-07-2010 front view

With some makes the pattern comes first and with others it’s the fabric. In this case it was definitely the fabric. It’s a fairly heavy-weight stretch denim with a thick coat of gold paint. The underlying fabric is a brownish black, not that you can tell. I’m a sucker for anything metallic, and stretch denim in any colour other than blue is scarce in the UK, so I snapped this up as soon as I saw it. Originally I thought I might make a jacket, but I eventually realised that jeans would get far more wear. These are Burda 103-07-2010, a skinny trouser pattern with a little extra seam interest. It’s a really good pattern; I’ve made it a few times. Technically speaking it’s not actually a jeans pattern as there are no flat-felled seams or rivets involved, but made up in denim it certainly gives a similar look.

The side seams are shifted a long way forwards and there’s an extra seam down the back of the leg. I made view C where all seams except the inseam are top-stitched. Here’s the line art, which omits the top-stitching:

Burda 103-07-2010 line art

You can see how far forward the side seams are in this shot.

Burda 103-7-2010 side view

I added back patch pockets and lowered the waist about an inch. The original pattern is designed to hit the natural waist. I also added a bit of length to the legs beyond my standard adjustment for extra height.

Burda 103-07-2010 back view

I had a bit of trouble choosing top-stitching thread. The gold paint is bound to wear off over the lifetime of the garment so I wanted to pick a colour that would work with both the gold and the base fabric. My first choices were black or a bright brown, but the black was too harsh with the gold and the bright brown clashed. I ended up with a dull brown which looks fine with the gold but not so good with the brownish-black base fabric. I guess I’ll just have to wash these as little as I can get away with.

I bought a new packet of size 90 denim needles for this make and broke most of them doing the top-stitching; the waistband was particularly difficult. I had to switch to size 100 in the end which worked a lot better. Here are some detail shots:

Burda 103-07-2010 top-stitching
Burda 103-07-2010 top-stitching

The belt loops were slightly tricky. The pattern would have you sew a skinny tube and turn it out. I tried, but the fabric was far too thick to turn. It might have worked if I’d cut the belt loops on the bias but I didn’t want to waste fabric. In the end I cut a rectangle three times the width I wanted, overlocked one edge, and folded it in three as in the picture below. When I top-stitched the belt loops I was careful to go far enough in to catch down the overlocked edge.

Belt loop construction

But the real question is how practical are these? I made them a few weeks before writing this post and they have actually had some wear at weekends. I think they look best dressed down with boots and a sweater.

I’ve got two more metres of the fabric left…maybe a skirt?

Burda 103-07-2010 front view

An apology to Burda 117-11-2014

Burda 117-11-2014 front

This is a project that didn’t quite work. The fabric isn’t quite right. It’s a stretch denim that is too lightweight for the style and an odd shade of black. The fit isn’t quite right either. I don’t think it’s the fault of the original pattern, which is Burda 117-11-2014, described as ‘skinny pants with insets’; more what I did to it. Sorry, Burda. Here’s the line art:

Burda 117-11-2014 line art

I liked the overall shape in the drawing but not the placement of the insets, so I decided to go for some padding and quilting at the knees instead. I traced the quilting lines from another Burda pattern, 106-03-2013. Unfortunately I did it very slightly too high up the leg and the padding I used was a bit thin: just a layer of boiled wool left over from another project, backed with cotton. As a practical feature it just about works – I was very grateful for the padding when I found myself having to kneel down on a concrete floor to reach something at work recently – but it would work a lot better if it was a few centimetres lower.

Burda 117-11-2014 close up

The sizing is off because I’ve increased in circumference this year and the last two pairs of Burda trousers I made came up much too small. Determined not to make the same mistake with these I measured myself and decided to cut a size and a half larger than normal. I did not think to measure the pattern. I may have cut too generously, or perhaps there’s more ease in the pattern than one might expect from trousers described as ‘skin-tight down to the ankle’; of course they are much too large. It’s not all bad though. It might look sunny but was extremely cold when we took these and I was able to get two layers – tights and leggings – on under them. But yeah, look at those wrinkles. Skin tight they are not. I also added less length than I usually do, because Burda trousers always seem to turn out longer than I expect. This was the ‘correct’ decision because objectively on me they are exactly the length the pattern is intended to be, but I want them to be longer! I normally wear them tucked into knee boots because they feel too short.

Burda 117-11-2014 back

Although it may sound like these are a complete failure they’re not. I made them a couple of months ago and have worn them about once a week, mostly at work. And denim trousers usually get better with age.

Burda 117-11-2014 front