Plain and simple: Burda 112 3/2012

Every wardrobe needs background pieces to pair with the exciting stuff. These high waisted black straight legged trousers are one of those. I made them as part of my current wardrobe sewing plan. The current version of the plan has a couple of interesting tops that need some plainer bottoms.

I was originally planning to use Burda 119 3/2020 for the trousers, but other people who’ve made those found they aren’t as high waisted as the magazine photos suggest. So I turned to Burda 112 3/2012, which I’d made once already so I know they have exactly the waistline and fit I wanted. All I needed to do was lengthen the leg. They’re very simple with the only real design detail being the back pocket shape.

Burda 112 3/2012 line art, burdastyle.ru

I made these out of pieces of 7oz 100% cotton denim from Empress Mills I had left over from a couple of other projects. The fabric was purchased in two separate lots so I was very careful to check the scraps from each project matched before I risked combining them. But once I’d finished I noticed there’s a really subtle shade difference between the front and back legs. It’s only visible in some lights and photos do not show it, but I know it is there. It hasn’t stopped me wearing them. And I’m glad to have used up the scraps.

Annoyingly the waist came up a tiny bit too big so they tend to slide down at the back and produce a little wrinkle just below the waistband. The last time I made these I used a much more tightly woven fabric than the denim so I think that’s what made the difference. I don’t feel particularly motivated to take this pair in though.

The top stitching is just about visible on the back pockets. I used a very dark grey thread. The denim is nominally black, but black top stitching thread looks too harsh against it because it’s really more charcoal.

I haven’t made any of the tops from my wardrobe plan yet so here I’m wearing them with a draped T shirt I made last year. It’s yet another Burda pattern: 121 4/2020.

I ranted last week about how the belt loops hadn’t come out very well, but they look OK here. I did have to use a pair one each side of the centre back seam instead of a single centred one. My machine would not have coped with that many layers. I doubt I’ll wear these with a belt so I should have left them off.

I’ll definitely be using this pattern again as it’s a great shape and it’s a quick make too. Thanks to my husband for the photos.

Belt loops and waistbands

Here’s the waistband on a pair of trousers I have just made. They are 7oz denim, which isn’t super thick, but as usual I really struggled to sew the belt loops on. The one at centre back was completely impossible so I used a pair with one each side instead.

I long ago gave up on trying to use bar tacks and now just sew them down with a short straight stitch. I even support the back of the presser foot with a bit of folded scrap fabric but still end up with a wobbly result. My machine is otherwise pretty good on thick fabrics so I can only assume it’s operator error.

So after the latest failure I dug out a few pairs of trousers to see if there’s a better way.

The belt loops on my trousers above are made by folding both edges of a long fabric strip in to the centre, and then folding it in half and top stitching down both sides. They end up as four layers of fabric which makes them very thick. It gives a nice finish though. On some other projects I’ve made them with a narrower strip with one long edge overlocked and folded it in three before top stitching. This gives a flatter loop but the overlocked edge sometimes peeks out, or doesn’t get caught in the topstitching.

Ready to wear trousers of my husband’s use an even narrower strip with the edges folded in once to the centre and then coverstitched. That gives only two layers, but I don’t have a coverstitch machine so that’s not an option. And I don’t think my twin needle would cope with denim.

As well as reducing the thickness there are several different methods of attachment. I normally sew the top end of my loops into the top waistband seam and then after the waistband is finished I fold the bottom end under and topstitch it down to the trousers – if my machine would bar tack them I’d do a bar tack instead. But there are other ways.

The picture below are cargo trousers from a Burda pattern which called for sewing the bottom of the belt loops into the waistband/trouser seam and then catching down the top end instead. It’s not any easier that way around in my experience but it’s an option.

The pair of jeans below is Vogue 1573 which uses a method I’ve never seen anywhere else. Both ends of the belt loops are sewn into the waistband seams. The bottom end is sewn in first when attaching the waistband to the trousers. That whole seam is then topstitched. Next the belt loops are pressed down and stitched down to the trouser leg on the inside of the loop, which is easier than top stitching as it won’t be seen and it only goes through one thickness of the belt loop. Then the waistband facing is added, catching the top end of the belt loops in that seam. The top of the waistband is then topstitched right over the belt loops. It’s easier to get the position right this way, but my machine hated topstitching over waistband and belt loops together, and I was then left with the problem of how to secure the bottom of the facing on the inside. The pattern says to hand stitch, but I stitched in the ditch leaving gaps where the belt loops were in the way. Overall it’s not bad, and probably gives a better result, but it’s a lot of faff.

Ready to wear varies. Trousers seem to be mostly done the same way as the Burda jeans, only with bar tacks to catch the tops down instead of topstitching.

Jeans seem to not catch either end in a seam and just use bar tacks.

But then in RTW they have thinner loops so fewer layers to contend with, and more powerful machines too.

I think the answer for home sewing might be to keep the belt loop as flat as possible so constructing the loops using the three layer method rather than the four layer, at least when dealing with denim. I’ve heard hammering the loop after folding the end under can help too. My current project is denim again and has yet more belt loops so I’ll have a chance to try it out soon.

If you have any top tips for good belt loops I am all ears.

Two down, seven to go

We finally managed to get some photos of my new Burda jacket on me – thanks as always to my husband for taking the photos. I’m still figuring out how to best style it. I made it as part of a wardrobe plan, but it is only the second piece I’ve completed. The dresses and trousers I intend to go underneath currently exist only in my head. But here it is with the pleather leggings from the plan. The jacket itself is Burda 105 02/2021.

This is not a garment I reach for first thing in the morning. It comes into its own when I’ve started work for the day and realise it’s a bit chilly in the attic. It goes over almost anything and the short sleeves are surprisingly practical. I don’t suppose I’ll be wearing it in the depth of winter, although I could see the style working in a heavy wool as a wearable blanket.

Here’s the Burda line art. I always like it when people show the pattern designer’s version when I’m reading a review of a pattern, as sometimes the finished object comes out very different from how you’d expect. This one is perfectly accurate though. I chose to really play up the top stitching on my version with light grey thread. It’s mostly straight lines but even so I did have to unpick a few times because there’s no hiding a wobble with this colour.

Burda 105 02/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

I still don’t think I’ve cracked styling this. Hopefully when I complete the rest of the plan (around Christmas, at the rate I sew) I’ll have more options.

Neither one thing nor the other: Burda 105 02/2021

Is it a coat? Is it a cardigan? Is it a jacket? Burda calls it a coat, but in my book a coat has to have full length sleeves and close at the front. Cardigans are usually knitted and this is made of denim. And it lacks the structure of the typical jacket. Whatever it is, it’s style 105 from the February 2021 Burda.

I normally let Burda magazines mature in my pattern stash until they’re a few years old before I make anything from them. But February 2021 had not one but two patterns which leapt straight into my latest wardrobe sewing plans and this is the first of them. I was looking for an indoor garment to layer over the top of an outfit for extra warmth. I don’t get on with most cardigans and this seemed like a promising alternative. It’s a simple sew: fairly square cut, unlined, with patch pockets and no closures.

Burda 105 02/2021 line art, burdastyle.ru

Here’s the back view. One rather odd thing about the design is that there’s no continuity of the lines between the front, back, and sleeves. Those bold diagonal seams on the front come to a dead stop at the side seams. The topstitching on the yoke hits the sleeve seam and vanishes into it. I can almost hear Esme from the Great British Sewing Bee tutting that it hasn’t been very well thought through. It would be easy enough to add diagonal seams to the back to marry it with the front, but I’m not so sure what to do about the sleeves. More top stitching on the sleeve seam perhaps? The pattern called for one line there, but it also has you set the sleeves in so I skipped it, not wanting to do it in the round. If I made this one again I’d put the sleeves in flat.

A change I did make to this version was to add a hanging loop and change the neckline seam finish. There is no neckline facing piece (probably because it would be too bulky on top of the double layer yoke) and the pattern has you sew both layers of the the collar on to the neckline and press the allowances down, leaving a visible seam allowance around the neck. Instead I clipped the allowances at the point where the facing attaches, sewed on just the outer collar between those points, and pressed them up so the inner collar hides them. The top stitching around the collar holds it in place.

This worked beautifully on one side…

And I ended up with a mess on the other. I don’t think I clipped far enough. It’s not visible when wearing, obviously, but it’s annoying.

The pockets on this thing are huge. I have long arms and I can only just reach the bottom. It’s a Tall sized pattern so perhaps that’s not so surprising, but definitely something to check before stitching them down.

When I finished this I was vaguely disappointed. It seemed to lack the style factor of Burda’s version. But I’ve worn it a few times already, mainly when feeling cold indoors, and it grew on me. I suspect it works best paired with a dress, and I don’t often wear one of those. Hopefully I’ll get some modelled photos of it soon for comparison.

A quick repeat: Burda 112 12/2015 again

A woman  in a grey jumper and trousers

I don’t repeat a lot of patterns. I’m always making new patterns, hoping that the next one is going to make up into the amazing unicorn garment that looks perfect and is so comfortable I wear it every week for years. Burda 112 11/2015 is not quite that: my first attempt had a big tracing error, the (expensive) fabric pilled so rapidly I actually bought a sweater comb to tame it, and the fit is definitely not quite right. But it goes with almost every pair of trousers and skirt I own. It’s a very basic cropped sweater with French darts to give a bit of shaping and a statement zip for interest:

Burda 112 11/2015 line art, burdastyle.ru

The original is black sweater knit with a silver zip. I have to make an effort to stop myself reaching for it every day, it’s so easy to wear.

A woman in a black jumper and black pleated culottes

The vast majority of my wardrobe is black and grey, so a grey version seemed like a must. And although I’m also working on an entirely separate wardrobe plan it made sense to make this one first, before the weather warmed up. This time the fabric is boiled wool from Empress Mills. It’s slightly itchy, being 100% wool, but is holding up much better than the black version.

Back view of a woman with short hair wearing a grey jumper

This version has a regular hem instead of the facing I had to hastily add to the previous version when I discovered I’d cut the front far too short. I also reduced the flare at the hem. But oddly the sleeves have come out much too long this time – I really have no idea how. I’m wearing them folded up and will have to shorten them. I also think this one is too broad in the shoulders. But despite all that it’s the only thing I want to wear with my lighter coloured bottoms now. Clearly I’ll have to make a third version.

A woman with short hair wearing a grey jumper and cargo trousers , and yellow trainers

Vogue 1378 Vogue Donna Karan pieced leggings

These leggings are from Vogue 1378, an old favourite pattern now sadly out of print. I don’t wear a lot of colour or print so I like clothes with seam line interest. But I find a lot of the patterns with extra seams have them placed in a less than flattering way. Not these though. The original pattern is strictly speaking for close fitting trousers rather than leggings, as they’re loose from the calf to the hem and have an ankle vent. But it’s very easy to sew the vent shut and tighten them up by taking in the inseam.

I made these as part of a wardrobe plan; they’re supposed to go under a couple of the dresses. I’m firmly in the Leggings Are Not Trousers camp where my own person is concerned, so no outfit photos of these until I have made at least one new dress to go with them.

Vogue 1378 technical drawing, originally from mccalls.com

They’re designed to be made in a knit, but the construction isn’t the normal overlocked seams. Most of the seams are lapped and top stitched with two rows of a long straight stitch, and then the outside seam allowance is trimmed down close to the stitching. This means the fabric can’t be too stretchy or the seams will break.

I’ve previously made these in thin neoprene, which worked very well, and scuba knit, which wasn’t as robust. This pair are in a thick coated knit that’s meant to look like leather. It came from Tia Knight a few years ago now. It’s super sticky on the coated side so it’s quite difficult to top stitch. A Teflon foot was no good at all. The roller foot worked with my machine set on the maximum stitch length only, and still produced tiny stitches. The walking foot was the only one that produced a decent medium length stitch and even then it isn’t all even, especially on the waist elastic.

The back thigh seam isn’t overlapped. That’s what the pattern says to do, and I have always assumed there is a reason for it. It’s certainly a handy indication as to which way round to put them on.

A closeup of all that lapping and top stitching. I’m quite pleased with the even spacing.

And the waist, with the not so even zigzag top stitching to hold the elastic down. The good thing is that this will never be visible while I’m wearing them.

Although I’ve made these before it was a while ago, and I’d forgotten that the waist is a little low and they’re very long in the leg. This isn’t normally a problem for me with Vogue Patterns so perhaps I added too much extra length when I originally traced them. I ended up shortening this pair by something like 8cm. There’s not a lot I can do about the waist this time, but it’ll never be seen.

Although I’ve not made the dresses I had planned to go with these, they have been getting some wear under my grey Style Arc Toni dress. They’re pretty good for the sunny but cool weather we’re getting in the UK at the moment. This is a pattern I will definitely hang onto.

Sewing with a plan post mortem: part four

The fourth part of my wardrobe sewing plan review. This week I’m looking at combinations involving the cocoon trousers, Burda 106 02/2020. Here are the line drawings of all the patterns used.

First with the white blouse, Burda 105 04/2018. Maybe I should have tried this tucked in. The proportions seem a bit wrong, and a strongly contrasting top and bottom rarely work for me. The whole outfit just seems to be lacking something.

Next with the black Burda blouse, 113 02/2010. I think this combination just about works when the shirt is tucked in but I go back and forth on it. I have worn this look quite a lot at home but I don’t have any shoes that go with it! I need some chunky short flat boots. The ones I’m wearing in the picture have a wedge heel and just aren’t right. The trainers in the previous outfit might be better.

I wasn’t expecting the trousers to work well with the Vogue 1347 big shirt, but actually I really like this combination. I’m tall enough to get away with wearing a lot of volume.

And finally with the short Burda sweater, 112 11/2015. This one is definitely the winner. The shorter length of the top works much better with the high waisted trousers than the longer tops do.

These trousers have been in high rotation ever since I finished them. They’re very comfortable to wear and the pockets are roomy. I like the subtle detail of the light coloured top stitching too. I just wish I could find the right shoes for wearing them out of the house!

A woman wearing a grey sweatshirt and cargo trousers stands in front of a green fence

What’s in a name? Grey sweatshirt: Burda 121 02/2016

A woman in a grey sweatshirt

I’ve called this grey top a sweatshirt but I have a feeling it’s not quite the right word. It sounds entirely too sporty and energetic. But it’s definitely not a sweater, and has no hood so not a hoodie. Maybe the line art will help?

Line art of a sweatshirt
Burda 121 02/2016 line art, burdastyle.ru

This isn’t part of any of my wardrobe plans, but it was made to fill in a wardrobe gap. I made the grey cargo trousers in the pictures a couple of years ago, but I lack cold weather tops that go with them. I wanted something with some detailing to echo all the bits and pieces on the trousers and this one from Burda seemed to fit the bill. I’ve made it in grey scuba from Minerva. The zips, drawstring cord, and cord stops were from eBay. I went for silver hardware to match the zips on the cargo trousers. The eyelets were some gunmetal coloured ones I had left over from another project, but they aren’t very visible.

The main feature of this top is the high collar. It’s two layers of fabric but no interfacing. I was a bit concerned it would collapse completely, but the drawstring helps a lot in giving it some shape.

The zip detail on the collar was a lot of fuss to sew. The exposed zips are set into section seams so there’s the bulk of a seam allowance to deal with at the bottom of the zip slot. Burda provided unusually detailed instructions for using scraps of lining to face the end of the slot, with pictures, but I’m not entirely convinced by their method. You use a scrap of lining to face the slot on each side of the seam before actually sewing up the section seam. This means you have to match the bottoms of the slot perfectly or the lining shows. I did an OK job but one side is off by about a millimetre and it annoys me. Next time I’d sew the section seam first, to just above the end of the slot, and then face the slot. No danger of mismatched ends that way.

A woman wearing a grey sweatshirt pulling the collar up

One slightly unexpected feature of this garment is the padded sleeve hem bands. I didn’t notice them on the line art or the model photos, and missed that wadding was on the notions list. It was only when I got to the bit on the instructions where they tell you to stuff it into the bands that I realised. I had some wadding scraps so I added the padding, but I’m not really sure what its purpose is. It gives the rather skinny sleeve bands some dimension, but that’s about it.

A woman wearing grey stands with her back to the viewer

This is a Tall pattern so I didn’t lengthen it. I probably should have done; according to the size chart I should still be adding a couple of centimetres. But it was so nice to trace something out and not have to hack it about. The sleeves do feel the tiniest bit short but the body length is fine. Next time I think I’d make the sleeve bands a bit wider and that would be enough.

A woman wearing a grey sweatshirt and cargo trousers

This fills a long-standing wardrobe hole. Unfortunately I don’t think I have much else it will go with other than the cargo trousers. Maybe my silver Vogue 1247 skirt or the silver Vogue 1347 trousers. It’s a bit too casual for most of my other trousers.

Thanks to my husband for the photos.

Sewing with a plan post mortem: part three

Part three of my wardrobe sewing plan review. This week I’m looking at combinations involving the flared jeans, Burda 118 04/2009. Here are the line drawings of all the patterns used.

First with the black Burda blouse, 113 02/2010. I go back and forth on this combination. The big collar and flares are very 70s. I’m not sure the proportions work very well with the blouse untucked though.

With the linen overshirt with bands from Vogue 1347. This is a similar length to the previous blouse, but I think the extra width makes it work better. And the bands add a lot of interest; the trousers on their own are fairly plain.

With the white darted blouse, Burda 105 04-2018. I think this one works as an outfit, but for me it’s a strange halfway house between being dressed up and being casual. Can’t see myself reaching for this combination very often. I don’t need to dress up for work and if I did I would wear something smarter than jeans.

Finally with the short Burda sweater, 112 11-2015, (and a water pistol, because there’s a small child armed with his own water pistol firing at me from just out of shot). This one’s my favourite; the shorter top is better proportioned than the long ones. The rise couldn’t be any shorter for this though or there would be a gap!

These are definitely a success; I wear them about once a week. They’re good for active days. The fit is great and the stretchy denim makes them fairly comfortable to wear.

Sewing with a plan post mortem: part 2

On with reviewing the success (or not!) of my wardrobe sewing plan. This week I’m looking at combinations involving the pleated culottes, Burda 108 07/2018. Here are all the line drawings, now updated to include the two patterns I substituted.

Here are the culottes with the black blouse, Burda 113 02/2010. I think this works as an outfit but it’s not entirely me; at least not with these shoes. To my eye it’s too formal and has a bit of a vintage vibe. Substituting chunky boots or trainers might make it more modern. I think it could also go in the librarian-chic direction with an interesting necklace and handbag, but that’s definitely not me! The pointy cuffs and collar harmonise well with with the pleats though.

Next with the white blouse, Burda 105 04/2018. This blouse is slightly softer with the puffed lower sleeve but still has the geometric darts at centre front. I think the heels and jewellery help the look. Maybe a bit Carolina Herrera, or am I kidding myself? But much as I love her style, it’s not me either. White is definitely more flattering to the complexion than black though!

With the black cropped sweater, Burda 112 11/2015 and big boots. This looks much more modern. It’s weighty rather than the previous two somewhat dainty combinations. Despite the cropped sweater there’s no real waistline; I think if the sweater was a little shorter still it would change the feel a lot. I like this one a lot and have worn it a few times.

With the Vogue 1347 linen overshirt with the dangling appliqued bands and the boots again. It was a cold day so I’m wearing the shirt over a high necked wool t-shirt.

And below with a better view of the bands.

This one is a lot of look, what with the bands and the pleats, but it’s my favourite. Lots of straight lines.

I also wear the culottes with my black wool jersey t shirt and my grey kimono style cardigan. They seem to go with a wide variety of shoes as well.

The downside about these is that they need a lot of ironing. Although I edge stitched the pleat folds down they still need a good press after washing to make them sharp.

I can’t see myself making these again, at least until this pair wears out, because of the high maintenance requirements. But they are very versatile and I really enjoy wearing them.

Thanks to my husband for the photos.