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.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

Oxford bags: Burda 118-09-2015

I really ought to have pressed these trousers before we took pictures of them. But I’m calling it realism because when we took the pictures they’d been worn a few days in a row, so please just ignore the creases. They are Burda 118-09-2015 made up in a browny-greyish wool suiting from Croft Mill. Right now the fabric is still available here, but even if it’s not by the time you read this Croft Mill’s site is well worth a browse for the delightfully fanciful fabric descriptions.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

This pattern was the one chosen for the Burda “sewing course” feature in the September 2015 issue: ie there are detailed instructions and diagrams for it in the sewing supplement part of the magazine, rather than the usual accurate-but-minimal  directions. However if you’ve sewn fly front trousers before they’re not needed; there is nothing unusual here at all. The order of construction is classic menswear style: the back crotch and centre back waistband seams are sewn up last to allow tweaking the fit. I departed from the suggested order of construction slightly. I find it easier to sew the front crotch and fly before the side seams and inside leg seams, whereas Burda does it the other way around. But I did leave the back crotch to last and that was a good thing because I found I needed to take it in a bit.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

The pattern is for Tall sizes and for once I didn’t add any length. As you can see, they are if anything a little on the long side despite that. I am standing on quite a steep uphill slope here though, which makes them look longer. I made my usual Burda size. I did have a bit of a panic half way through making them as I hadn’t noticed that the side seams are drafted a long way forward of the normal position, and so the front pieces seemed far too small once I’d folded the pleats in. It all worked out in the end though and I think the pattern is fairly true to size; my waist and hips are different sizes in Burda which is why I had to take them in a bit at the waist.

There are single welt pockets on the back. I made a couple of small pattern alterations to try to get a good finish on those: I made the back pocket welt piece wider and I extended the back pocket bag piece upwards so I could catch it in the waistband seam to try to prevent the pockets from gapping. They’ve come out nicely but spending time on the many, many steps involved seems a bit pointless as I never use back pockets on trousers. There are very roomy hip pockets on these anyway – I can fit a paperback book into them – so there’s absolutely no need to use the back ones.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

Here’s a shot showing the waistband. It’s very plain. There are no belt loops and it is closed with a trouser hook. I should have taken the centre back in a little more than I did as they are supposed to sit at the natural waistline. Maybe I need to get a pair of braces! I finished the inside waistband with black satin bias binding. Burda just says to ‘neaten’ it. Simply overlocking the edge seemed a bit slapdash for such a lovely fabric so for once I made a bit of an effort with the insides of a garment.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

The wide legs are wonderfully swishy: action shot below. They’re also a fabric hog. The pattern took 2.5m of wide fabric what with the deep pleats at the front and the turnups, but I don’t regret it as I have already worn them a lot. They’re warm and very comfortable, and surprisingly practical for chasing around after small children.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

Although they are an exaggerated style they seem fairly versatile. I generally wear them with a slouchy jumper but they also look good with a close fitting top that is tucked in, and I think a cropped boxy top would look good too. I think I’m going to be wearing these a lot as the summer ends here and the weather cools down.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

Birthday dress: Vogue 1305

Vogue 1305 front

This is Vogue 1305, a dress that at first sight might seem hopelessly impractical. It’s floor length, with only one sleeve and an open back. But it’s made for knit fabric and with a little bit of tweaking I think there’s an interesting but wearable summer dress to be found here. Here’s the envelope photo (no link to Vogue because the pattern’s no longer on their site):
I checked out a few reviews before making this and I’m very glad I did! Thanks to Erica BunkerHelen Sadler, and The Mahogany Stylist for very useful information about this pattern.

It’s clear that it runs amazingly long. I normally add four inches to Vogue patterns and I didn’t add a thing to this; it’s still slightly too long for me. Other than in length it is unusually small. I normally make a 10 in Vogue; this is a straight 14 and it’s just right.


The shell fabric is a lovely viscose jersey from Croft Mill which was a birthday present. The lining is a black polyester mesh from Tissu Fabrics; no link because it was an end of roll. Matching coloured lining fabric would have been slightly better than black  because the dress is lined to the edge, but grey mesh wasn’t available.
So on to some details. The left side has a walking split. As drafted it’s very short which makes this practically a hobble skirt. I lengthened mine to just above the knee so I can walk comfortably.
There’s a tiny bit of lining peeking out at the left armscye despite understitching. I should have interfaced the seamline there and also around the neck.
I added pockets by creating a horizontal seam across the front and putting inseam pockets in there.

Vogue 1305 side

Here’s the right side with all that wonderful draping. Several reviewers mentioned that their drapes flattened out and they had to sew pleats into the side seam to get the correct effect. Mine fall the correct way naturally. I suspect the difference might be that I didn’t skip adding the lining, which gives the shell a bit of extra support because the lining and shell seam allowances get sewn together down the right side seam. I also fused a strip of interfacing down the centre front and centre back seam allowances to help support the weight of the drapes.

Vogue 1305 right side

The original style has a centre back opening that goes down to the hips. I shortened mine to just above bra band level.

The dress isn’t very forgiving when seen from the back. It really clings at the hips; I’m very glad I made my true size which has a small amount of positive ease there.  Even with that wiggle room it pays to choose undies carefully. I’ll admit it took a lot of trying to get a photo of the back I was happy to put on the Internet. Not that this will stop me wearing it.

Vogue 1305 back

The pattern claims that you can wear the dress in a second way by putting your head through the sleeve seam opening. In fact if you look up photos of the designer original (I’ve collected a few on my Pinterest board for the pattern here) it’s worn that way in some shots. And it’s true that you can wear it like that, but only if you don’t mind the world seeing an inappropriate amount of chest though the original head opening. It’s OK if I stand extremely still but I will not be wearing it in real life like I am in the picture below.

Vogue 1305 alternative neckline

The pattern itself was a lot of fun to sew. The lining is inserted by bagging out so there is no hand sewing in this dress other than attaching the button. I constructed it all on a regular sewing machine – I threaded up the overlocker but never felt the need to use it. The instructions were fairly easy to follow but it helped that I’d made this sort of thing before.
This definitely isn’t a good ‘first knit’ project because the pattern pieces are huge. They were pretty difficult to cut out because I only had space to do one at a time. It really was a case of cutting piece each in turn while praying Vogue’s layout was correct and I wouldn’t run out of fabric on the last piece. Adding the pocket seam made the cutting out easier by reducing the size of the front pieces. It did all work out in the end but it was much the hardest part of making the dress.

One problem I noticed about the pattern: there are incorrect bodice lengthen/shorten lines on some of the pieces in my copy. And most people will want to shorten this dress.

So what’s the verdict? I love how it looks. It’s not quite as easy to wear as I’d hoped; a few inches off the length would help. I certainly couldn’t wear this to work. I can see myself making a shorter version at some point though.

Vogue 1305 pockets

Third time’s the charm: Drape Drape 2 no 6 Pattern drape dress

Drape drape 2 no 6

The Drape Drape pattern books are very hit or miss for me. The things I’ve made from them either get worn to death or else never leave the wardrobe. This dress is an adaptation of style number 6 from Drape Drape 2. It’s my third try at this particular pattern and I think this one is going in the firm favourites category. The first two versions, eh, not so much.

The sample in the book is sleeveless, very short, and made in a striped knit. My first version followed it exactly, even down to the striped fabric, and can be seen here. I like the photos we took of it but I never wore it. Too short and too fussy.

Version 2 came about last year when I was very pregnant and trying to make clothes suitable for after the birth. The deep cowl neckline looked perfect for breastfeeding; all I needed to do was lengthen the skirt and add sleeves and pockets. The pockets were easy to do: put a horizontal seam across the skirt front and stick inseam pockets in there.  The sleeves were a bit harder because the original has very cut in armscyes and the shoulder seam is set backwards, so they required some adjusting. I dug out my copy of McCalls 2401, a simple closefitting dress with long sleeves, laid it over the Drape Drape pattern, and traced off a combination which had the McCalls armscye and shoulder seam but everything else from Drape Drape.

I sewed version 2 up in a peacock blue polyester doubleknit I’d had lying around in the stash for years. It took an amazing three metres of wide fabric what with the sleeves and the cowl.

The end result wasn’t good. I’d somehow managed to put the pocket seam far too low in the skirt and make the skirt too long as well. I’d also forgotten that the McCall’s pattern was originally designed for woven fabrics, so the shoulders and sleeve came out huge when made in a knit. I was short on time, so I made it wearable by inserting a casing and elastic at the original hip level and using that to hitch the skirt up so the pockets were at a reasonable height. It got me through the first few months but I wasn’t happy with it (and no photos, sorry!)

Convinced there was a great dress in there somewhere I had another go. This time I used Winifred Aldrich’s closefitting knit block for the shoulders, armscyes and sleeves. I moved the pockets up and shortened the skirt. Another length of polyester doubleknit came out of deep stash; a dark grey found on Derby market many years ago. And this time it came out as I’d imagined it.

Drape drape 2 no 6

The only thing I’m not so keen on is the back view, which is very plain.

Drape drape 2 no 6
But the cowl hangs nicely in this knit and it’s very warm to wear.

Drape drape 2 no 6

Can’t see me making another one of these. It’s a fabric hog and also very distinctive; who needs two? But I love the one I’ve got.
Drape drape 2 no 6

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