A quick repeat: Burda 112 11/2015 the third

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.

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 115 08/2021

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.

Burda 115 08/2021 line art, burdastyle.com

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.

Thanks to my husband for the pictures.

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.

The end at last: Burda 119 10/2012

This is the very last item in my current wardrobe sewing plan, and now I think I’m done with sewing with a plan for a while. It’s Burda 119 10/2012, a close fitting v necked long sleeved top. I chose it because I thought having a layer to go under the summery v necked short sleeved dress might make it wearable into the autumn. I also thought the top might be wearable with jeans. In these photos I’m wearing it with my straight legged black denim trousers from the plan.

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.

Burda 119 10/2012 line art, burdastyle.ru

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!

Burda 111 06/2021…sort of

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.

Burda 111 6/2021 model photo, burdastyle.ru

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.

Burda 110 05/2008

Finally some modelled photos of Burda 110 05/2008, part of my current wardrobe sewing plan. The weather’s turned cooler so while I’d originally intended to wear it on its own, I’ve had to put the pleather leggings from the same plan and a t shirt underneath. And as we went to a park on the other side of town to take the photos there are creases and the pockets are laden down with hand sanitizer and the like. So this is definitely a realistic set of photos!

Here’s the line art. Note the distance between the bottom of the pockets and the hem; this is meant to be a very short dress.

Burda 110 05/2008 line art, burdastyle.ru

And compare with my version, which has come out a lot longer. I think the explanation might be that hem allowance was already included on the pattern pieces and then I added it again. Normally you have to add both seam and hem allowance to Burda magazine patterns, but sometimes when there is a feature at the hem like the drawstring casing here, or a turn up, the hem allowance (but not the seam allowance) is already included. I have checked the instructions and it doesn’t say it’s included, but every other version I’ve seen of this one is a lot shorter than mine. I’m not sure the longer length of mine is the best proportion on me, but it does make it wearable with bare legs.

For once Burda have come up with a pattern with an interesting side and back view. Those cargo pockets can hold a lot of stuff. I was a bit worried I’d made permanent shiny iron marks on the pocket corners while trying to press them but the fabric recovered very well after a steam. It’s Merchant and Mills 8oz sanded twill in Aubin grey. It’s a beautiful fabric: it has a very soft hand but is also sturdy. I’d definitely use it again. Burda’s fabric recommendation for this one is poplin which seems a bit on the lightweight side to me.

The belt loops held on with snaps look good but the back ones do occasionally unsnap themselves when getting out of a car.

I’m pleased with the collar and front zip. It was a lot of effort. Overall I’m not sure the style works for me though; the whole thing seems like it needs to be a bit crisper. Maybe I should have used poplin!

Thanks to my husband for patiently taking the photos as always.

Another oddity with Burda 110 5/2008

I’ve finally finished Burda 110 5/2008, a biker style mini dress with lots of fiddly details and hardware.

Burda’s famously terse instructions all worked out in the end and I’m pleased with the result, but there’s one feature I don’t understand. Here are the lower pockets, which are bellows style, so there’s a pleat strip between the front of the pocket and the dress body to allow expansion room. (Burda calls them poacher’s pockets but I don’t think I’ll be fitting any stolen rabbits into these.)

They have rivets on the bottom corners. Rivets are normally placed to reinforce areas of stress, but I’m not sure I’ve got these right. Burda’s instructions say to ‘keep the pleat piece free’ while attaching, and in the technical drawing they definitely don’t look like they are meant to go through the body of the dress.

Burda 110 5/2008 line art, Burdastyle.ru

So I’ve just put mine through the pocket front where they achieve nothing but decoration. I couldn’t even catch the seam allowances down with the rivet on most of them because I added the rivets after sewing the pockets to the dress. Had I realised earlier that they don’t go through the dress front or near the attachment seam I could have done them before, which would have been much easier.

So does anyone know how these are meant to work? I’m perfectly happy with the finished dress, and the pockets are never going to be asked to hold anything heavier than a phone, but I’m curious.

An apology to Burda

Burda 110 5/2008 line art, burdastyle.ru

I’m making the dress above, which is an old Burda magazine pattern from back when it was called Burda World of Fashion. The pattern number is 110 5/2008. It has such a huge amount of detail. This is something where I think the majority of sewing patterns don’t match ready to wear designs – they don’t have a lot of non-functional detailing.

A couple of weeks ago I was complaining about the instructions for this pattern, which make modern Burda ones look verbose. I was also pretty sure they contained a mistake. Well I was wrong: I started sewing it up and it all made sense once I had the actual pattern pieces in my hands. For posterity here are some in progress photos of the centre front zip fastener, which was the bit that confused me. It has an exposed half zip with an appliquéd band.

You sew up the centre front seam to just above the end of the zip slot and then there’s some difficult to describe trimming and snipping to do which ends up looking like this. This is the bit that confused me! But I think the picture below is correct. The seam allowances have been trimmed off along the length of the slot, the remaining seam allowance trimmed diagonally, and a small cut made into what will be the bottom corner of the zip slot. I should have interfaced that area.

Then you press the whole thing flat and sew the zip on like a regular exposed zip but from the wrong side, so the inside of the dress is very cleanly finished. Or would be if I’d interfaced the bottom of the slot…it frayed a bit in one corner.

And finally you appliqué the band over the top on the right side.

Eventually there will be some rivets applied too.

So that’s the front zip in. There are two more exposed zips with bands for the side pockets and then a bunch of other fiddly little bits to sew. Summer will be over by the time I’ve finished this one!

Burda 101 2/2021

This dress is a bit of a departure from usual for me. I don’t often wear colour, never mind prints. I’d originally been planning to make Burda 101 2/2021 in a very luxurious grey Tencel twill as part of my wardrobe sewing plan, but then I read some slightly worrying reviews of the pattern. Here’s the line art: what it doesn’t show is that you’re meant to cut the bodice on the bias, which combined with the weight of the long skirt means the bodice tends to grow.

Burda 101 2/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

I didn’t want to risk my expensive fabric on a possibly dud pattern. I also couldn’t see any good reason for the bodice to be on the bias in the first place. The original Burda version is made in a horizontal stripe which produces a nice effect with the bias grain, but in a plain I thought it would work perfectly well cut straight. Time for an experiment.

Enter this mystery print fabric which has been in my stash for years. I got it on Goldhawk Road in London. It’s a lightweight twill and at the time I thought it was polyester based on the price. I did a burn test when I pulled it out for this project, and was amazed to find it’s most likely silk – certainly not polyester anyway. But I have never found a project for it and it seemed like a good choice for this one because there aren’t many seamlines to break up the print.

So I traced the pattern off and rotated the grain line on the bodice pieces. I also eliminated the centre back seam which isn’t needed if you’re cutting on the straight grain, and would interrupt the print. I completely missed that the front facing is meant to be cut on the fold and added a seam allowance to that. I made my usual fitting adjustment of lengthening the bodice. That was slightly tricky to do at the front because of the shape of the pattern pieces with the cut-on sleeves and the ties meant I couldn’t cut straight across and spread. I had to cut a step shape in the pattern piece instead, so the length got added below the cut-on sleeve at the outside edge and above the ties at centre front. And I added side seam pockets which are sewn into the waist seam at the top in an attempt to avoid sagging.

Cutting out was an ordeal. I did it single layer because of the print, which meant working on the floor. I should have stabilised the fabric with starch or gelatine because it wriggled about all over the place. Some of the cut pieces bore very little resemblance to the original pattern. And I completely messed up matching the print at the skirt side seams. I didn’t even try at the waist because the ties hide it there. But amazingly when I sewed it up it all fitted together. The print lines were useful for making sure things were on grain at the hem and waist seam.

I was really careful not to stretch out the neckline edges, but I still had to rip and resew the centre front intersection a couple of times to make it sit right. The bodice looks best slightly bloused over the ties, but the slippery fabric means it tends to slip down. I should have put some elastic in the waist seam but I didn’t have any handy.

I promise the hem isn’t as wonky as it looks, the bodice has just slipped down on one side. The sleeve bands tend to move about too: in most of the photos the right one has sneakily unfolded itself.

I do like the big block of print that ended up sitting on the upper back. The bow on the other hand just vanishes into the print.

I added a tie on the inside so I can attach the point of the v neck to my bra and avoid flashing people when I bend over. It’s a bias tube made from a scrap and caught in the stitching that attaches the facing to the centre front seam. You can also see my lazy overlocked seam finishes here. I’m forever seeing people on the Internet assert that overlocking is a sign of poor quality, but I’ve never had an overlock finished seam fray and fall apart in the wash yet.

So what’s the verdict? I like this dress and have worn it out of the house, but I won’t be making a version in the Tencel. Not because this is a terrible pattern, just a little fussy to wear. It needs plenty of ironing and the skirt isn’t a great length on me. Best kept for garden parties and summer weddings. Thanks as always to my husband for the photos.