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.

An elaborate blanket: constructing Vogue 1476

A dressform wearing a purple draped coat stands in front of bookcases. The coat is vintage Vogue 1476 by Issey Miyake.

Here’s my finished Vogue 1476 coat. It’s an Issey Miyake design from 1984. This one is a real classic – I think it was in the Vogue patterns catalogue for over 20 years. I don’t know exactly when it went out of print but it was before I started buying Vogue patterns so I had to buy my copy second hand.

Vintage Vogue 1476 envelope art

Like a lot of the Issey Miyake patterns Vogue produced the pattern cutting on this one is unconventional. Any unlined coat is topologically equivalent to a sheet with two holes in it to put your arms through. I once made a McCalls waterfall cardigan pattern that was literally a flat rectangle of fabric with two armholes cut out and sleeves attached to them. The Vogue is obviously much more sophisticated than that; there’s some shaping and the sleeves are an impressive batwing shape rather than tubes; but there’s a resemblance.

You start off with a big rectangle of fabric with an irregular chunk cut out. The first seam transforms that into a loop. Here’s the big piece folded in two along the edge at the bottom of the picture: those short horizontal edges towards the top left are the ones that get sewn together to make the loop.

Then you hem the whole thing all the way around the outside, mitring the corners. There’s nine metres of hem so it takes a while. Vogue suggests neatly turning 6mm of the raw inside edge of the hem under and then topstitching it down with two rows from the right side. I wasn’t confident of doing that neatly in bouncy wool coating so I left the inside edge flat and trimmed it close to the topstitching afterwards. The fabric doesn’t fray and I think it looks all right. Whatever hem finish is used needs to look neat because it shows when the coat is worn.

Next the two yoke/sleeve pieces are joined together, and then the long edges of the joined yoke/sleeve piece are sewn along the inner edges of the main loop and topstitched three times. There’s a certain amount of pivoting around the angles in the edges; you can see one of the angles in the picture below.

If you’ve done it right there are two small sections of the main loop edge left unsewn which form holes for your wrists to go through, one at the end of each sleeve, and you attach facings to finish those. Simple!

Of course it’s not so simple in practice: the sheer size of the pattern pieces makes sewing it a challenge. I spent a lot of time stopping and adjusting the huge pile of fabric so it fed smoothly. My machine doesn’t have a ‘stop with needle down’ function and it’s the first time I’ve ever really wanted it.

It’s vital to mark and match the notches and circles on the seams between the main pattern piece and the sleeve/yoke pieces so they end up correctly aligned. I couldn’t go by past experience to put this one together because the pattern pieces are such unusual shapes and they’re so big it’s difficult to see what’s going on anyway. The pattern illustrations are accurate but it’s hard to relate those neat drawings to the huge pile of crumpled fabric in front of you.

There’s a lot of topstitching involved. I had to wind three bobbins. I tried to keep it straight and consistently spaced by using my ditch stitching foot, which has a central blade which follows the line you’re targeting, and adjusting the needle position to one side to get evenly spaced rows. It worked pretty well but I failed to think about the order I stitched the rows in before starting, and more than once ended up having to sew with the bulk of the fabric to the right of the needle because my machine’s needle position will only adjust to left of centre.

I wish I’d done the centre back seam differently. I left the edges raw, topstitched down the seam allowances, but didn’t trim them back. The wrong side of this seam shows when the edge of the coat is folded back in wear, so it looks a bit untidy with that loose edge. I might have to go back with some sharp scissors and trim it. In a lighter fabric I’d flat fell the centre back seam. I’ve seen a great summer version of this pattern done in linen.

This is really more of a cardigan than a coat. It’s wonderfully warm and cosy but doesn’t have any closures. I think I’ll be wearing it around the house a lot though. Hopefully I’ll get some modelled pictures at some point.

Who needs perfection anyway

Here’s the biggest pattern piece I’ve ever worked with. You see it folded in two along the bottom edge here; it’s over three metres long.

It’s the main pattern piece for this Issey Miyake coat from Vogue Patterns. I had to cut it out on the floor because of the sheer size of it.

Vintage Vogue 1476 envelope art

The very first step is to topstitch patch pockets onto that enormous body piece, a process that involves stuffing all the fabric through the harp of the machine as you manoeuvre round all four sides – the opening is a gap in the side of the pocket rather than the top. Luckily I’m using a lightweight coating, but it was still a bit of a struggle to get it done.

They don’t look too bad from this distance despite all the pulling and pushing involved.

But oh dear when you look closely it’s a bit of a mess with the stitching wandering here and there. It doesn’t help that it’s dark purple fabric and navy thread so even with my LED light it was hard to see what I was doing.

I am not unpicking it now; I don’t expect a second attempt will be any better. I suspect I’ll forget all about it once the coat is finished and no one who doesn’t sew will notice the pockets when there’s all the drama of that draped front to look at. So onwards and hopefully upwards because next I need to topstitch around the outer edges of that piece.

The 80s called, they want their coat back: Vogue 1767

So here it is, my coat from a 1986 Claude Montana pattern, worn in 2022. Just for fun I’ve amped up the 80s styling with the scarlet lipstick and sunglasses. I haven’t been able to find any other images of the exact original design beside the pattern envelope photo below; however there are lots of similar brightly coloured Montana coat designs from 1985 and 1986 which are usually photographed styled in a similar way.

A sewing pattern envelope with a lot of wear. Thr cover art has a photo of a woman wearing a yellow coat and black trousers with turnups,and a sketch of a woman wearing the same style of coat in grey and black trousers without turnups.
Vintage Vogue 1767 pattern envelope (originally issued 1986)

I was trying to reproduce the pattern envelope pose here but now I look at it again it’s not quite right. It does show off the strong triangular shape of the coat though. I think this one was from the peak shoulder pad era.

A woman wearing a short oversized green coat, black dress and sunglasses, leaning forward. The coat has a single button visible and large patch pockets.

Disappointingly it’s less warm than I’d hoped. These pictures look like we took them on a warm day but it was bitterly cold despite the sun and I was freezing. The good news is it’s such an oversized style that I could easily fit a couple of sweaters underneath it. My pattern was a size larger than I’d normally make but I didn’t bother trying to grade it down as I didn’t think it would make much difference to the end result. The only pattern adjustments I made were to add my usual extra length to the body and sleeves and to extend the back half-lining into a full lining.

Back view of a woman wearing a oversized short green coat and black dress. The coat has vent and top stitched seams.

The lining is surprisingly discreet considering it’s bright pink. The facings of the coat are very deep so there isn’t a lot of it. I’m glad I went for the contrasting lining; I normally prefer to match the lining but I suspect I wouldn’t have found a similar green and the two colours do look good together.

A woman wearing a short green coat over a black dress. The coat is opened to reveal a bright pink lining

This shot just shows the edges of the fly that hides all the buttons except the top one.

Like the other Montana patterns I’ve made there’s an element, in this case diagonal lines, that occurs throughout the garment. The front closure, the bound buttonholes, all the pockets, the angle of the neckline are all slightly on the diagonal. It’s very harmonious.

What I didn’t like about the pattern was the order of construction suggested. For example, sewing the front facings on around the front edges all the way to the side seams, and then asking to attach the patch pockets to the front without sewing them through the facing layer. It makes much more sense to sew the pockets on before applying the facing. This is a much easier way to get the pockets on because the coat front naturally lies flat at that point. If the facing was already attached it would have to be turned to the outside to avoid sewing through it, and then you’d be trying to put the presser foot in between the facing and the coat front; the facing would get in the way and pull up on the front.

That wasn’t the only construction issue; I also had to rip out the under sleeve seam in order to topstitch the upper sleeve seam. In that case I can see that the cuff construction is easier with both seams sewn and the hem facing already turned in, but it’s not impossible to do it my way, whereas topstitching the upper sleeve with the whole thing already sewn into a tube definitely wasn’t happening.

I didn’t think I’d want to wear this open but it actually looks OK in this picture. I’ll have to experiment when the weather warms up (so June then…)

This was a bit of a stunt project; I loved the pattern but I likely wouldn’t have got round to making it if I’d had to buy new fabric. As it happened I had the green wool and the lining in stash, and no other plans for either of them. However it’s surprisingly wearable. It needs the right outfit underneath, so it won’t completely displace my beloved silver quilted coat, and it’s probably best for spring and autumn rather than the depths of a UK winter. I’m glad I made it. I’ll report back on how it wore later on the year.

Thanks to my husband for taking the pictures as always.

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.

It’s FINISHED

At long last, here is my 80s coat. The dress form doesn’t really do it justice – she’s developed a slight lean and she doesn’t have enough shoulder to make the sleeves hang well.

Here’s the pattern envelope for comparison. It’s Vogue 1767 from 1986, by Claude Montana. I haven’t found any other pictures of the exact original garment, but there are plenty of 80s images that are close. Montana did lots of wide brightly coloured coats with huge shoulders, often worn over an all black outfit.

One of the great things about the Vogue Montana patterns I have is that the back views have plenty of detail. This one has lots of topstitching and a little back vent which is surely purely decorative. And the sleeves have cuffs that actually unbutton; again I can’t see that getting any use but it adds some interest.

The front closure has one feature button with a bound button hole and then the rest of the buttons are hidden under a fly, which was fun to construct. I went with plain black buttons as I think the fabric colour makes a strong enough statement on its own.

I couldn’t get lining to match the shell fabric so used grey for the fly lining in order that it wouldn’t be obvious if it peeked out. I used a green quilting cotton for turning the bound buttonholes and the welt pocket but that wasn’t a good enough colour match for the fly.

The buttons are backed with smaller ones on the inside. I need to brush that blue chalk off the buttonholes! The fabric generally resisted marking: chalk vanished after only a day or two and my air erasable pen didn’t last an hour, but the buttonholes seem to have held onto the chalk. I can report it shrugs off blood though: I accidentally stuck a seam ripper into my finger and bled all over one of the sleeves and it pretty much wiped straight off.

The patch pockets are huge. Annoyingly they’re attached over the side seams so have to be added quite late on.

And slightly to my surprise the pockets are lined to the edge. I expected them to have a self-facing, but even if the pattern had had one I wouldn’t have had enough fabric to cut it. Getting this design out of the three metres I had was a real struggle. I had to cut the sleeves slightly off grain and there was no chance of doing a ‘with nap’ layout.

No such problem with the main lining fabric: I still have quite a lot of this bright pink satin left over. I always intended it for this green wool but originally had a very different pattern planned which would have needed a lot more of the satin.

The lining is sewn in by hand along the hems because there’s not a lot of it, what with those deep front facings, and I forgot to leave a gap in one of the sleeves for turning. And I regretted it; I’m so much slower doing it that way. I managed to break a hand sewing needle in the process too, something I don’t think I’ve ever done before. Back to the machine next time.

Here’s my coat chain. Another surprising thing about this pattern is that there’s no neck facing, so I hope it holds up. The neck seam is a bit lumpy on the inside despite lots of trimming and pressing because the satin has so much less body than the wool. No one’s going to see it though.

Hopefully I’ll get some photos of it on me soon. Right now I’m really pleased with it but have only tried it on inside the house. I’ll report back on how it really wears in due course.

80s sewing plan

I’m so close to finishing my 80s coat. I literally just have to sew the lining to the hems and topstitch the edges and then it’s done. But that isn’t happening until next week. And I’ll need something 80s to wear it with, so in the meantime here is my 80s wardrobe sewing plan. It’s basically ‘make these four vintage Vogue patterns and a few supporting pieces’ so I can’t claim any credit for putting outfits together cleverly here.

There are two coats, two pairs of trousers, and two dresses. I’m going to make a boxy black polo neck jumper to pair with both sets of trousers, and a belt for one of the dresses. I’ll also need a pair of leggings or thick tights to go under the dresses and some stompy footwear, but I already have those.

The first pattern is 1767 by Claude Montana from 1986. I’m making the coat and the trousers with the turnups.

The coat as previously mentioned is almost done. It’s made in fairly heavy chartreuse green felted wool with bright pink lining. That’s a lot of colour, especially for someone whose entire wardrobe was black, white, and grey until three months ago.

These sort of coat styles were shown on the catwalk paired with black polo necks and trousers. So the trousers from the pattern are going to be black cotton twill. They’re typical 80s style with a lot of volume at the top which is gathered into the waistband. I think I’ll change the gathers to pleats.

Next is 1476 by Issey Miyake from 1984. Special thanks to Charlotte for helping me out with the missing instruction pages from my copy! The pattern has a shirt, trousers, and a coat but I’m just making the coat and trousers from this one, and I intend to wear the coat as an indoor garment – it’ll keep me warm while working from home in the loft.

The coat is going to be dark bluey purple; I have already got a length of a lightweight brushed wool coating for it. Black for the trousers again, but these are more drapey than the Montana trousers so I’m looking for a wool twill for those. And the polo neck will go nicely with the other two. I’m not a big shirt wearer; I get cold too easily.

Then there is 1071, another Claude Montana, from 1982.

The oversized dress is shown in a pale neutral colour on the pattern (cream? beige? greige?) but after much internet searching I found a photo of the original design made up in black, which I think is a lot more practical. I want a flannel for the base fabric. Haven’t decided whether to do the suede accents yet, but if I do it’ll be polyester fake suede so it can go in the washing machine.

The last dress is 1652, Montana again, from 1985. Very Grace Jones. Don’t think I’ll be doing the opera gloves thing, although apparently they are fashionable right now. They do look stylish on the Vogue model.

The original of this dress was almost certainly made of wool double knit although I haven’t found a reference picture. That’s difficult to source around here and I’d normally substitute a mostly polyester ponte knit, but I think most pontes will be too heavy for this style. The dress has a lot of pleats on the hood and sleeves and is two thicknesses at the front. I’m going for a satin backed crepe so I can use the shiny side as the contrast. Hopefully it won’t be too slithery. This dress also needs a belt, and as luck would have it I have an 1985 issue of Burda with a very 80s belt pattern.

I think I’d make the belt out of two layers and turn it out rather than binding the edges as Burda have done, but the shape is perfect. It also amuses me that the Burda dress the belt goes with has a certain resemblance to the oversized Montana dress.

I don’t have a contemporary pattern for the polo neck jumper but there are a couple in my Burda collection that will do. I’m mainly looking at 120 from 11/2020, minus the gathers.

Burda 120 12/2020 line art, Burdastyle.ru

That’s eight pieces, but two of them are coats. This is going to take a while! I’m hoping it won’t come out too costumey for daily wear. The hooded dress is very of its time, but it’s also fabulous, and I think the rest are fairly wearable. And if 90s style is really back in the mainstream as I keep reading, this is all probably going to look quite sensible and practical by comparison: thick layers of warm fabric and lots of pockets.

Out with the old

I have lots of sewing plans for 2022 and very little wardrobe space. It’s time to purge some things I don’t wear any more. And as I still haven’t finished my Montana coat, here’s a blog post about the garments I’m getting rid of instead.

First up is my Vogue 8956 skirt. Sadly I don’t have a great photo of it because being made of black wool flannel it soaks up the light. This back view is about the best.

But to give a better idea of the shape, here’s the model photo. Very Vivienne Westwood.

Vogue 8956 envelope photo, somethingdelightful.com

I’m getting rid of it because it’s no longer fit to be seen. The fabric was beautiful but it wore badly; fuzzing and shrinking when washed. I also made a mistake in swapping the pattern’s suggested narrow hem for a deep faced hem with interfacing that was too heavy for the design. And I attached a lining to the hem. The shell and lining fabric shrank at different rates, the lining pulled on the hem, the hem facing descended, and the whole thing became very sad indeed. It sounds like a disaster, but before all this happened it was a dramatic yet very practical skirt that I wore a lot. It even got compliments at work.

One day I’ll make the pattern again, but this time I’ll keep the lining free from the shell and not interface the hem.

The second one is a pair of Oxford bags made in the same black wool flannel and the same shrinking happened. They are Burda 118 09/2015.

They were always a touch too short. I’d made the pattern once before and they’d turned out slightly long and a little big in the waist. So when I repeated it I took the waist in and shortened the leg, not taking into account that the smaller waist would make them sit higher. Again they had a lot of wear, and as I washed them they got shorter and shorter and more and more fuzzy. After a few years they looked disgraceful so I stopped reaching for them.

I guess the moral is don’t wash wool flannel. I still have the original, slightly too long, pair of these in my wardrobe. Wearing them with braces has cured the length issue. I may make the pattern again when that pair wears out.

The next one, by contrast, hardly got worn at all. This is Burda 110 08/2017 and when I’d just finished it I was really enthusiastic about it.

But once I started wearing it I realised that it wasn’t as comfortable as I’d thought. It’s made in a very stretchy, lightweight viscose jersey and the skirt has a ruched section. The bodice isn’t stable enough to support the weight of the skirt so it pulls down, and the ruching on the skirt sags at the front. Every time I saw it in the mirror I found myself adjusting the skirt. Perhaps the skirt needed to be tighter to hold the ruching- but then it would be hard to walk in. I think this would have worked better in a different fabric, but I’m not sure what. Maybe lycra jersey? And the bodice needs a second layer. This got very few wears and I don’t miss it now it’s gone. I am curious though: what sort of fabric makes these ruched designs work? I have a couple of old Donna Karan Vogue patterns in my collection with similar ruching, and I have read pattern reviews where people complained about the same sagging.

The last one is yet another Burda, 116 04/2014. It was the last project I completed before lockdown. It photographs well but has a fundamental design flaw.

If you look at the collar and placket there is a inward right angle corner where they join; the collar doesn’t extend across the top of that placket like you’d expect. This is a terribly weak point: you have two stable interfaced bands, the collar and the placket, meeting at right angles at an uninterfaced edge of the bodice. It frayed and tore.

So sadly that one has had to be retired after not a lot of use. It was also a little difficult to style. It isn’t warm enough on its own for most UK weather and it looks odd with a layer underneath the top. And for hot weather I have other summer dresses I prefer – this one is a bit too short for wearing with bare legs. I think the design might work better in black, with the collar fixed, but I didn’t love it enough that I want to make it again.

So that’s made a little space for some new things. I have some patterns lined up I’m really excited about.

Slow progress

I’m still working on my 80s coat, which is from this Vogue pattern.

The original is only half lined so I decided to line the whole thing, and picked a very contrasting lining: a bright pink satin when the shell fabric is green (I had it in stash; in fact it was originally bought to use with the green coating fabric on a long abandoned project). But then I realised I’d need some more sober lining fabric for things like lining the patch pockets and the inside of the concealed button placket. And the green is proving impossible to match especially as in person fabric shopping isn’t happening at the moment. I have ended up with grey lining, again from the stash.

The first sewing job should have been the bound buttonholes. I’d never done these before and wondered how well they’d go in such a thick fabric. I was particularly concerned about what fabric to use for backing the hole as I don’t have anything that’s a good colour match to the shell fabric. After making some samples I found a bright green quilting cotton was the best because it pressed well enough that none of it was visible from the front, so the poor colour match didn’t matter.

I’ve finished the buttonholes and the front welt pocket, and finally started sewing the shell together. Feels like there’s a long way to go at the moment. My pile of fabric pieces still looks enormous. But I put what I’ve got on the dress form yesterday and the shape is amazing; it’s basically triangular. I may need even bigger shoulder pads than I thought.

A slight miscalculation

I’m making an 80s jacket right now which requires serious shoulder pads. The pattern says to use one inch pads, or make your own with Vogue 8817. One inch thick pads are not something that’s readily available on eBay these days (or maybe I’m just not looking in the right place). In the past I made do with using two pairs of purchased pads for a similar project, but the shape wasn’t quite right. And then a copy of Vogue 8817 came up on eBay and I decided to have a crack at making my own.

The pattern calls for cotton batting to make the one inch jacket pads. I’m not a quilter and don’t have cotton batting on hand, but I do have the remains of the polyester batting I used for my quilted coat a couple of years ago so I pulled that out.

The way it works is you cut out a set of templates of gradually decreasing size from the pattern, then cut out several copies of each in batting, and layer them up.

There are five sizes of template.

The pattern doesn’t say in so many words how many of each size to cut out, but the cutting layout shows no less than five copies of the smallest one, four copies of the second and third smallest, two of the next, and one of the biggest. And that’s laid on a double layer of batting, so you’re cutting ten of the smallest piece, five for each shoulder. My batting seemed pretty lofty so I started off with just two each side of each of the smaller layers. Here it is stacked up.

That’s three inches high.

I reduced the layers to one of each size.

Two inches. These are meant to be one inch pads. Now obviously the pad will squash a bit when the jacket is hanging off it. I estimated the degree of squash by the highly scientific method of pulling out the pile of cut fabric pieces for another project and sitting them on top of my stack of batting shapes. That reduced the height to about one inch, but I’m not hugely convinced this is going to be accurate. Maybe I’d better get hold of actual cotton batting.