I’ve finally finished Burda 110 5/2008, a biker style mini dress with lots of fiddly details and hardware.
Burda’s famously terse instructions all worked out in the end and I’m pleased with the result, but there’s one feature I don’t understand. Here are the lower pockets, which are bellows style, so there’s a pleat strip between the front of the pocket and the dress body to allow expansion room. (Burda calls them poacher’s pockets but I don’t think I’ll be fitting any stolen rabbits into these.)
They have rivets on the bottom corners. Rivets are normally placed to reinforce areas of stress, but I’m not sure I’ve got these right. Burda’s instructions say to ‘keep the pleat piece free’ while attaching, and in the technical drawing they definitely don’t look like they are meant to go through the body of the dress.
So I’ve just put mine through the pocket front where they achieve nothing but decoration. I couldn’t even catch the seam allowances down with the rivet on most of them because I added the rivets after sewing the pockets to the dress. Had I realised earlier that they don’t go through the dress front or near the attachment seam I could have done them before, which would have been much easier.
So does anyone know how these are meant to work? I’m perfectly happy with the finished dress, and the pockets are never going to be asked to hold anything heavier than a phone, but I’m curious.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
I announce a grand plan to sew a mix and match wardrobe for myself, and then my very next post is about a project that’s not on the list. But I haven’t deviated from the plan yet (that’ll doubtless come later) because this one was sewn a couple of weeks ago. It’s Burda 120 12/2018, a hoodie for my husband.
I made this up once before and found it ran a little small. I sized up for this version and it is a much better fit.
It’s very satisfying bashing the eyelets into place with a hammer, and the finish definitely improves with practice.
The fabric is a grey poly fleece from Tia Knight. It’s tricky to photograph! The one below gives the best idea of the colour.
And now back to sewing the wardrobe. The pleated culottes are nearly done and the 70s flared trousers are next up!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are slits at the hem. I mitered the corners instead of just turning the hem up as it gives a much nicer finish.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.