A woman in grey trousers and white shirt sits on grass

Merchant and Mills Strides finished

A woman in grey trousers and white shirt stands by a window

When I last posted about these trousers I was struggling with the pockets. But as you can see I finished them and I’m very pleased with the results. These are the Merchant and Mills Strides. They don’t seem to be available as a standalone pattern but are part of the Merchant and Mills Workbook, a collection of six patterns making up a wardobe. The Strides are described as classic menswear style trousers. They’re straight legged, very high waisted, and have slant pockets and pleats on the front. Mine are made up in a mediumweight non-stretch grey denim. It’s heavier than any of the recommended fabrics for the pattern but it’s unusually soft and drapey for denim, which makes it work. I’d link to it, but it seems to have sold out.

Closeup of grey trousers

I really like the fit on these but it’s only fair to say that other people have had mixed results. The sizing is a little hard to fathom as there is no size chart provided, only finished garment measurements. The size numbers look like they’re meant to match UK retail or Big Four pattern sizing, but in fact they aren’t equivalent. I’d say to go down at least one from your usual size. There’s no inside leg measurement given but after checking the pattern I lengthened the leg something like 8cm, which is more than I usually do.

What I ended up with is close fitting on the natural waist and roomy everywhere else. Very comfortable to wear. The pockets worked out ok after I recut the back piece longer to match the front one, although I’d prefer them to be a bit deeper overall. If I’d used the original pattern pieces with the shorter back piece they’d be far too shallow for a phone (at least for the size I made; I haven’t been back to check the others).

A woman in grey trousers and white shirt stands by a white wall

The pattern is described as inspired by classic menswear but it’s simplified from traditional men’s trousers, which makes it a much easier sew. There is no centre back seam on the waistband for adjusting the size and no back pockets of any sort. However there is a very nifty shaped fly guard with an internal button closure to keep the front lying really flat. I had a bit of difficulty with the button placement on that – the buttonhole seemed placed much lower on the pattern pieces than on the diagrams in the instructions – but that might have been my mistake in tracing and marking. I made it work but next time I’ll check the pattern pieces really do line up before making the buttonhole. Interestingly the photos in the book of the insides look more like how my fly guard ended up than the diagrams do.

Here’s the back view. I get those wrinkles under the backside on most trousers. I suppose I could take some length out of the back crotch curve to try to deal with it but it doesn’t really bother me.

A woman in grey trousers and white shirt stands by a window with her back to the camera

I’ve been wearing these a lot since I finished them. They feel effortless to wear but I’d like to think they have a Katharine Hepburn vibe. And I love the proportions I get when tucking in a top to the high waistband. It’s as if they were drafted for me personally. I’ll definitely be making this pattern again.

The shirt is Style Arc’s Juliet – another one I have plans to sew again. Thanks to my husband for taking the photos.

A woman in grey trousers and a white shirt sits on grass
A woman wearing a grey top and silver skirt sits in a chair

Speedy sewing: Burda 106b 06/2011

A woman wearing a grey top Burda 106b 06/2011 stands in front of a window

My last project took six weeks, and isn’t blogged yet; I’m sick of the sight of it. This little top took about three hours, which was a very refreshing change. It’s Burda 106b 06/2011. Four pattern pieces: front, back, and facings, and uses less than a metre of fabric. There is also a dress version, 107 06/2011, which uses lengthened versions of the same pattern pieces.

A woman wearing a grey top Burda 106b 06/2011 stands with her back to the viewer

The fabric is tencel twill from Merchant and Mills, left over from a dress I made last year. It’s very drapey and cool to wear. I didn’t think the facings would stay put in the twill, so I added some random lightweight stretch iron-on interfacing I had lying around to them. The pattern doesn’t call for any interfacing.

The shape is mostly boxy but there are small bust darts, which I should have lowered a little. The armscye is almost a straight line. I’ve lengthened the pattern by my usual 5cm to allow for my long back, and I’m very happy with where the hem has ended up.

A woman wearinf a grey top Burda 106b 06/2011 stands side on

There are slits at the hem. I mitered the corners instead of just turning the hem up as it gives a much nicer finish.

A close up view of Burda 106b 06/2011 hem showing topstitching and side slits

I’m hoping this will be a real wardrobe workhorse as it’s so simple and neutral. I’m wearing it with my silver Vogue 1247 skirt here. Many thanks to my husband both for the photos and the quarantine haircut. Feels very good to have it off my neck.

A woman wearing a grey top Burda 106b 06/2011 and silver skirt Vogue 1247 sits in a chair

And now for something a little different

Burda 121 04 2020

Continuing with the blogging about frivolous sewing, because I need a break from thinking about the real world. This unusual t-shirt design is from the April 2020 Burda. It’s style 121 which is the Trend pattern for the month. It reminds me of various Vivienne Westwood designs, and also some of the Drape Drape patterns. Here’s the technical drawing.

Burda 121 04 2020

The pattern is unusual in that there is only one pattern piece. It is cut twice, but with both pieces oriented the same way up, not mirrored as pattern pieces are normally cut. Here is the pattern piece. I’ve made my usual length additions so it’s not quite shaped like Burda’s.

The model photo made me think of a piece of fabric that’s been lurking in my stash for a long time. It’s a lightweight single knit with wide grey and black stripes, and a silver glitter coating over that on the right side which makes it look like dark and light silver stripes. I bought it on Goldhawk Road many years ago and foolishly only got 1.5m. Even though it was a generous cut that worked out more like 1.8m I’ve never found anything to do with it – if I’d bought a little bit more I would have had loads of options. The Burda pattern calls for 2.1m but that is for a with-nap layout. By rotating the pattern piece 180 degrees before cutting the second copy I was able to get it out of the shorter length.

I know in general one should always use a with-nap layout for knits, especially ones with a sheen, but I think this pattern is busy enough that any difference between front and back will be lost in the noise.

Burda 117 02/2012 dress

This dress is an old favourite pattern from one of the best issues of Burda ever. This must be the sixth time I’ve made it, although I’ve altered the pattern somewhat from last time so hopefully this won’t be a totally boring blog post. Anyway. The original is Burda 117 02/2012 which came in a plain black and a colour blocked version. Both had an exposed zip all the way down the centre back seam, no pockets, little tucks at the shoulder seam, and a snap closure at the front bodice. Here’s the line art (curiously missing the zip). The tucks are only just visible as the slight dip in the shoulder line.

Burda 117a 02/2012 line art

I’ve added pockets in the slanted front waist seams, left off the tucks to give a stronger shoulder line, and extended the left front bodice piece (the underlap) to end at the same line as the right front bodice, removing the need for the snaps to hold it in place. That gives a better finish and there’s no danger of anything popping open.

I also made facings for the armscyes this time rather than adding hem allowance and turning under as the pattern suggests. It’s surprisingly tricky to shape the hem allowance to lie correctly because the armscye is pointed at the bottom and on the left side three seams come together there. Every previous version I’ve made had a gap in the hem at the bottom of the armscye, saved only by the fact that knit fabrics don’t fray. Separate facings are a big improvement.

I also skipped the zip. The dress is made of ponte knit and is no problem to get on and off without closures. The zip can look great but I think it’s a bit too much in a plain version. I wanted the seaming to be the main focus.

The fabric is a viscose/poly/elastane ponte from Croft Mill. It’s a mix of dark grey and brown fibres although I think it looks almost purple in these photos. As I write it’s still available here. It’s probably very slightly too lightweight for the style because there is a bit of cling; a heavy scuba works best. But I love the colour.

This dress is the second creation from my probably futile attempt to sew my way through my entire wishlist of Burda dresses. Two down, only another fourteen to go…

Thanks to my husband for taking the photos.

Style Arc Toni in tencel twill

Here’s probably my last summer project of the year. It’s Style Arc’s Toni dress, yet again, this time made up in tencel twill. This is my fourth version of this particular pattern. Previous versions were in mystery grey synthetic, black lightweight viscose, and white sateen. The grey and black versions were worn until they were rags, and the white one is starting to look a little sad, so I’d been thinking of making another.

And then we went on holiday to Rye and I took the opportunity to visit Merchant and Mills’ shop. I was only intending to have a browse. The fabric prices are fair but they’re definitely not cheap: they specialise in high quality fabrics, mainly natural fibres, in beautifully tasteful muted colours. But they had a dark grey tencel twill reduced because of some minor damage close to the selvedge, and it’s perfect for a Toni, so it had to be. It’s exactly the sort of thing the pattern was designed for, although I also think it looks pretty good in a much less drapey fabric. Right now it’s still available here.

I’ve shortened the pattern a lot from the original. I also shaved a bit off the centre back seam at the top because do what I may the collar and facing never go in right without this adjustment. The original pattern seems correctly drafted – the seamlines match – so I don’t know what is happening when I sew it. I also made the pockets deeper this time. They’re hidden away in those side drapes.

The armscye on this pattern is a bit odd; there’s no shaping at all. The side seam just stops at a certain point and you turn the seam allowance under on the opening and stitch it down which works because of the lack of curves. I find the drafted arm opening is a bit large and tends to reveal bra band. This time I sewed the side seam up about 3cm higher than the pattern marking which has improved things. It hasn’t affected my arm mobility either.

I only have one very slight complaint and that’s that the fabric picks up little marks very easily. It’s beautifully soft to wear though, and the marks don’t show in photos so I’m living with it.

I expect this won’t be the last of Toni but I’ll be waiting until next year to make another now. Thanks as always to my husband for the photographs.

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes in silver grey denim, seated, in botanic garden

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes in dark silver denim, front view, in a botanical garden

This is one of those projects that came from the fabric rather than the pattern. I had a surprising amount of this dark silver denim left over from my trenchcoat and wanted to do something with it. It’s very heavy fabric and hasn’t the slightest stretch which limited my options considerably. After going through my entire Burda collection I found 112A 03/2012, a pair of straight cut culottes. Burda made them up in canvas, so they ought to work in a heavy non draping fabric. Here’s the technical drawing. The back pocket detail is a little unusual but otherwise they are fairly plain. I traced my usual Burda size and set to work.

Technical drawing of Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes

Burda describes these as ‘roomy’. Well my fabric choice probably didn’t help, but I’ve had to let them out considerably on the hips and waist to be able to wear them at all, and they’re still quite close fitting even now. I really should have gone up a size. If you’re thinking of making these check the finished measurements carefully before cutting – I wish I had!

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes in dark silver denim, back full length view, in botanic garden

Having said that, I really like the style. They might be from seven years ago but the shape seems very modern to me with the very high waist and wide cropped legs. The length is good, and the heavy fabric helps the wide legs to hang well. I never like that effect you sometimes get with wide legged trousers where the legs collapse and cling to your calves. This pair could practically stand up on their own so there’s no danger of that happening. There is something a bit off with the balance though, as you can see below with that diagonal fold running towards the back. I’m guessing if I’d made the next size up that wouldn’t have happened.

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes in dark silver denim, side full length view, in botanic garden

I would never have managed to get the centre back belt loop sewn over the centre back seam in this bulky fabric so I replaced it with a pair sewn one to each side. I’ve yet to find a belt that goes with them though.

The back pockets are excellent: very roomy and well positioned. They don’t look huge here but they easily hold a phone.

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes in dark silver denim, back detail view

Despite the size issue I’ve worn these a lot. By the time we managed to photograph these (thanks as ever to my husband for patiently taking a great many pictures in difficult light) they’d been worn and washed multiple times, and the fabric is starting to show some fade marks. I’m tempted to make them up again some time but the thought of tracing the pattern over again is putting me off slightly. Maybe next summer.

Burda 112A 03/2012 culottes in dark silver denim, side view, in botanic garden

Grey cargo trousers: Burda 121 02/2018

These cargo trousers are Burda 121 02/2018. It’s an unpromising looking pattern if you go by the model photo, where it’s made up in a rather unlikely silk satin – the notes say it is an ‘evening style’ – but then photographed and styled to look like the model is camping or hiking. But the line drawing is much more appetising.

The project came about after I saw a picture on a Reddit street style group where the poster was wearing an all grey outfit with loose trousers tucked into boots and thought it was a great look: very comfortable and practical but a bit different. What makes it work in my opinion is the shape of the trousers. The Burda pattern with its gathered ankles and utility styling was the closest thing to it I could find in my pattern stash, and as a bonus it’s a Tall pattern so I didn’t need to make many adjustments. I added 2.5cm length and traced my usual size. The fit is about right. They are by no means low rise though, despite what Burda says in the pattern description. Maybe low rise in the current decade means something less extreme than it did in the 1990s?

These trousers have so much detail and require an amazing number of notions. Five zips, a buckle, loads of top stitching thread, petersham ribbon (not elastic despite what the pattern description says) for the ankles, and a button. I substituted a snap from stash for the button, and cotton herringbone weave tape for the petersham because I wasn’t convinced petersham ribbon would knot nicely.

I’m pleased with the zips I found; they have slightly fancy pullers and the grey tape is less harsh against the grey fabric than black would have been. The fabric is a lightish weight grey denim from Sherwood’s Fabrics. I sewed it with a size 90 denim needle and did the top stitching with a size 100 denim needle. I interfaced the waistband, fly underlap, and belt with Vilene F220. The top stitching thread is various shades of grey Coats Double Duty and Gutermann Topstitch I found in my stash so it doesn’t all match if you look too closely.

Here’s a shot of the ankle ties. I probably should have substituted elastic because I suspect they’re going to be annoying to tie and untie, but they do look nice. I guess I could always replace them with elastic later.

I am really pleased with how the trousers came out, but I have to say the pattern isn’t up to Burda’s usual high standards. Burda never provides pattern pieces for any piece that’s a rectangle, just a table of dimensions which confusingly usually include seam allowances although the pieces that are traced don’t. However the dimensions given for the waistband piece in this pattern don’t seem to include seam allowances or even the waistband underlap, so if you cut it according to the table it would be much too short. The fly front underlap piece dimensions are also wrong unless the piece was intended to be cut on the fold, but I couldn’t see that mentioned anywhere, nor is it shown on the fold in the layout. I’m very glad I checked everything before cutting.

I’m also unconvinced by the instruction to make the belt by sewing a long thin tube and turning it out. It would work in the original silk satin, but not in denim. Instead I pressed the seam allowances on the long edge of the belt to the wrong side, folded the belt right sides together, sewed across only the short ends, turned it out, pressed, and then top stitched around the whole thing to close the long edge. No awkward tube turning required.

Another thing I did to make the sewing easier was to make a template for the zip pocket opening markings. It’s just a piece of cardboard with a slot cut out the right size for the zip, but it made it much easier and faster to mark the four pocket openings accurately.

It is of course still distinctly cool in the UK so this is how I actually wore these most of Bank Holiday Monday; with a thick cardigan on top.

I don’t think I’ll make these again in a hurry because they are so very time consuming, but I’ll definitely hang onto the pattern in case the right piece of black denim should come my way. I think I’m going to wear these a lot. Thanks as ever to my husband for taking the photos!

Grey skinny jeans – Burda 115-03-2014

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

I am in desperate need of practical clothes. By practical I mean warm, has pockets, and washable. So I made Burda’s classic five pocket jeans pattern again, in grey denim this time. I had a pair of grey skinny jeans ten plus years ago when Kate Moss made them achingly trendy, and I still have a soft spot for the style even though it probably now looks extremely dated.

The first picture (above) is how I’d normally wear them at this time of year, but below they are shown without the thick cardigan. The top they are shown with is Vogue 8866.

I adjusted the pattern a bit after my first attempt: took a bit off the leg length, did a full calf adjustment, took in the waist, and shortened the front crotch. Most of the adjustments worked well but I took way too much off the length. I’d forgotten what it is like to wear trousers that are too short. Annoying. I also messed up the fly and that zip tends to peek out a bit, but that was entirely a sewing error.

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

Side view. I actually bothered to sew the ticket pocket on these, something I never use. Not sure it adds much but I did nice topstitching on it so that’s something. Talking of topstitching, I did fake flat fell seams on the inside legs with a double row of topstitching, and single topstitching on the centre back seam, the yoke, and the fly.

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

Single topstitching on the back pockets, apart from the top edge. I never do designs on the back pockets. I can’t come up with anything I really like and I don’t mind them plain.

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

I’ve still got lots of wrinkles on the back leg, although I think the front fit isn’t bad. The fabric has 2% Lycra (this one from Croft Mill) which helps.

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

So altogether not the best pair of jeans I’ve made. I’ll wear them but I know I can do much better!

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

Style Arc Genevieve finished

This was one of those projects that took forever at every step, not least getting the photos. But here it is and as far as I’m concerned the end result is worth the aggravation – and there certainly was a lot of that.

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar down

The pattern is Style Arc’s Genevieve jacket and the fabric is an unusual grey stretch denim with a brushed back from Croft Mill, sadly no longer available. The jacket is unlined and fairly unstructured. The only interfacing used is in the zip area.

I wasn’t sure of the fit of Style Arc patterns – I’ve made a couple before but they were very unfitted designs – so I made a toile and based on that I did a rounded upper back adjustment. This adds length and width. The extra width is absorbed into shoulder darts at the shoulder seam, so the shoulder and back neck seam lengths don’t change.

You can see in the back view below that I slightly overdid the adjustment. However there is no pulling when I raise my arms and I’ll take a slightly baggy upper back over lack of arm mobility any day.

Style Arc Genevieve back view collar down

I ran into a few minor problems with the pattern instructions. Style Arc’s instructions are always minimal so I was relying on the technical drawing to some extent. However it’s slightly inconsistent: it shows the zip applied on top of the fabric on the left front, where the instructions seem to have you set it into the princess seam. And if you’ve put the zip into the seam then the top stitching on the left princess seam needs to go on the side furthest from the centre, unlike in the digram, and the top stitching on the right front dart ought to mirror it. I think the pattern is designed for the zip to be applied on top as that way the diagonal style lines would line up perfectly. I prefer my zip in the seam, so if I ever make this again I’ll have to adjust the left front to move the zip placement over slightly. As it is the diagonals are off by a little, but I don’t think it’s obvious.

And on the subject of the zip I found it on eBay and I think the puller adds the perfect finish. I’ve been debating whether to post a link to this particular eBay shop on the blog for a while. They have a really excellent range of metal zips and they post stuff faster than anyone else I’ve ever dealt with, but some of their stock is definitely not safe for work browsing. So here’s the link: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/armoryauctions/ ; click at your own risk.

Style Arc Genevieve side view collar down

I thought about adding a lining to the pattern but chickened out; the front pattern pieces are enormous and asymmetric, and I found them very difficult to manipulate on my dining table. I still kind of wish I had though, because I ended up having to hand catch stitch the front facings down all the way around the jacket to make them stay put. It’s a sign of how much I like this jacket that I bothered to do that because we all know I’ll go a very long way to avoid hand sewing. Having done the facings I also catch stitched the hems as it wasn’t very much more work and I didn’t want to spoil the design lines with an extra row of top stitching.

Style Arc Genevieve side view collar down

The best thing about this jacket is definitely the collar. There are supposed to be a couple of snaps to hold the ends in place but I think it looks best when allowed to do its own thing so I didn’t bother sewing them on. The collar naturally falls very well when turned down, but if you want the full dramatic Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049 effect you can turn it up and hide behind it.

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

Here’s a slightly more wearable arrangement.

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

I’ve worn this a lot, as you can probably tell from the creases. I’m very happy with it indeed; this is probably my favourite thing I’ve made this year. I doubt I’ll use the pattern again for a few years because who needs two of these on the go at once? But it’s definitely a keeper.

More colour matching

IMG_1968

The last grey fabric I tried to sew with proved impossible to colour match, so I wasn’t hopeful about finding top-stitching thread to go with my current project. The fabric’s a grey denim and I wanted top-stitching thread in the same shade for a subtle effect. I haven’t been able to make it to a physical sewing shop for a while so I crossed my fingers and ordered Gutermann Sew All and Top Stitch in shade 036 online; a colour variously described as “light black”, “dark grey”, “grey”, and “charcoal” by different vendors. And lo and behold it’s almost a perfect match. Funny how these things happen.