Should have known better: Burda 127-10-2014

Burda 127-10-2014 front view

Here’s a make that didn’t work out, Burda 127-10-2014. The annoying thing is that most of the problems were entirely predictable, had I thought about the pattern more carefully in advance. But I was carried away by the cute raglan seaming, the exposed zip, the pockets, and the roomy silhouette. Here’s the line art. Have a good look, maybe you’ll see what I missed.

Burda 127-10-2014 line art

It’s basically rectangular, and the bagginess only goes so far in accomodating my current shape, but that’s not the issue. The pockets are nice and big which is a point in its favour. I somehow managed to cut the sleeve bands horribly off-grain which is why they’re twisting, and they were a pain to insert because the polyester crepe I used does not tolerate even the smallest size mismatch. But none of that is the fault of the pattern.

Burda 127-10-2014 pockets

The problem is the shoulder line. Look what happens when I move my arms. The shoulder line creases and the whole dress moves up. The shoulder line is so dropped and curved that there’s no way you can lift your arms and hence the sleeves without lifting the rest of dress. And the shape of the shoulder is quite clear on the line art so this shouldn’t have been a surprise; I just didn’t spot it in advance.

Burda 127-10-2014 pulling

Some of the pulling is clearly being made worse by the distorting effect of my bump. Look at that drag line.

Burda 127-10-2014 pulling

Just for completeness, here’s the back complete with exposed zip. The back is so plain it really needs that zip detail. I’m slightly surprised Burda didn’t repeat the raglan seaming on the back to add a bit of interest.

Burda 127-10-2014 back view

I often have trouble getting the right zip forĀ  a project but for once for once I got lucky. I found this one on eBay. The tape colour is almost an exact match for the fabric and the puller is a bit different: a short chain with a ball on the end rather than the usual zip puller. The back of the dress is so plain it needs all the help it can get. I didn’t do the greatest job inserting the zip but it looks OK from a distance. The neck binding isn’t great either because the fabric I used was a bit too heavy for the pattern and so the binding pattern piece didn’t have enough turn-of-cloth allowance.

Burda 127-10-2014 zip

I am going to put this dress away until after the baby and see if it’s any more comfortable when the bump isn’t taking up all the extra space in it.

Burda 127-10-2014 side view

Toni dress closeup

Stylearc Toni dress

Toni dress closeup

I’ve been wanting to make the Stylearc Toni dress ever since I saw it on Kristin’s blog. It’s a style I’d wear at any time, but it’s particularly good right now as I’m pregnant and rapidly running out of clothes that fit. The Toni isn’t a maternity style but it has plenty of room for a bump. It also has pockets, shoulder coverage, a nice high collar, and sews up quickly: all good points.

Stylearc Toni dress

The length is unusual. From the pattern illustration it looks like it’s meant to hit at the bottom of the calf. I normally have to add a lot of length to most patterns but my flat pattern measuring suggested this one would stop just below the knee on me so I didn’t bother. I must have gone wrong because it’s come out at midcalf, which is the length I try to avoid above all others. If I make this again I’ll shorten it. I wouldn’t want to make it any longer unless I made it up in a stretch fabric, as the hem width is very narrow indeed and I’d struggle to walk in it comfortably.

Stylearc Toni long view

I made this up in a very silky lightweight woven fabric that came from the Misan Textiles sale room. I’m not 100% sure what the composition is but it’s definitely man made. I picked it because it’s very drapey and has a certain resemblance to the silk the pattern recommends, but it’s also tricky to press, has a slight tendency to cling, and frays at the slightest provocation. And yes, it’s monochrome again. But at least it’s not black.

Stylearc patterns use much smaller seam allowances than most home sewing patterns: 1cm on the main seams and 6mm around necklines and anywhere with tight curves. I was worried that the seam allowance at the collar would fray away entirely before I finished sewing it but it worked out in the end. And the small seam allowances make it much easier to sew accurately, and accuracy is essential for the tricky stage of setting in the collar and sewing the front seam.

Other than getting the collar sewn in symmetrically this is a very easy make. I couldn’t figure out one of the steps, which seemed to be about understitching the outside edge of the collar which sounded like a very odd thing to do. The actual words were ‘sew a flat stitch’ so perhaps it was topstitching that was meant instead, although I can’t see any topstitching on the technical drawing. The step was optional and skipping it doesn’t seem to have caused problems. I added topstitching to the armscyes, which are finished by neatening the seam allowance and turning it back. Topstitching isn’t mentioned in the instructions but I don’t see how else the seam allowances could be expected to stay put unless you hemmed them by hand, which as far as I’m concerned is not an option.

The back of this dress is extremely plain. There’s a centre back seam but it’s entirely straight so you could just cut the back on the fold. Another time I might do that. I suppose removing the seam makes the back even plainer but I had a hard time making that long straight seam look acceptable in my tricky fabric.

Stylearc Toni back view

The side drapes are fun. Mine stick out quite a bit more than the technical drawing suggests they would. The pattern suggests optionally sewing a small weight in on each side to make them stay put. I overlocked a scrap of fabric around a couple of pennies for each side and sewed that to the seam allowances but it doesn’t seem to have made much difference as the drapes still tend to pop out when I sit down. I like the pointy effect though.

Stylearc Toni side view

Here’s the obligatory ‘look, I have pockets’ shot. I am trying very hard to avoid making things without them these days.

Stylearc Toni front view

I had some serious doubts about this dress while I was sewing it. I fell out of love with the fabric very quickly, and when I put the dress on my dressform halfway through construction it looked more like a very unflattering choir robe than a dress.And then I sewed the side seams and that transformed it completely. I wore it for pictures (where it caused hilarity amongst local dog walkers), and kept it on afterwards, then the next day I found I wanted to wear it again which is unusual for me. I’m not sure if I’ll make another of these; it’s a fabric hog and most of the fabrics that would be suitable are expensive; but the one I’ve got is definitely a success. The pattern was beautifully drafted and Stylearc have a lot of unusual and attractive designs. I think I’ll be making more of their patterns in the future.


Worth it in the end: Burda 106-04-2014

Burda 106-04-2014 side view

Burda is sometimes unfairly accused of churning out endless boring patterns based on rectangles. There are certainly plenty of boxy tops and dresses in the magazine (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) but also no shortage of more complex designs like this style, 106-04-2014. This is a wonderfully practical summer dress: it is very roomy, has pockets, and protects my shoulders and neck from the sun. I was very boring and made it up in practically the same colour and type of fabric as Burda’s sample: a greyish brown silk. Mine’s from the sale room at Misan Textiles.

Here’s the line art.

Burda 106-04-2014 line art
I was very glad this was the illustrated ‘sewing course’ pattern for the month with detailed instructions; the x-wrap detail isn’t technically very difficult to sew once you have worked out what’s going on, but the pictures were a great help in determining which edges to sew to which. Burda’s usual terse instructions probably wouldn’t have been enough.

I made a couple of very minor changes, which were to top-stitch the hem and to top-stitch down the back neck facing to stop it flipping up. I didn’t do a brilliant job on either but I can live with it.

Burda 106-04-2014 back view

I love that the dress has pockets although I did have a bit of trouble with them. The side seams of the front are cut slightly on the bias and they stretched out very slightly despite my applying strips of interfacing to the seam allowances. The pattern also has a zip in the left side seam. Successfully combining a zip with an inseam pocket, wriggly fabric, and a bias edge took a couple of tries and a bit of hand sewing to get a good insertion. And then after all the faff getting the zip in I found I can get in and out of the dress without it, even though the fabric has no stretch at all.

I swear that weird wrinkle below the pocket isn’t normally there. In fact this side of the dress is the one without the zip and hence has the better pocket insertion.

Burda 106-04-2014 side view
When this issue of Burda first came out I remember reading a review where someone (sorry, can’t remember who!) expressed the opinion that the hem on this dress was never going to hang well. It’s a bit odd. It looks fairly straight when I’m walking.

Burda 106-04-2014

But not so much when standing still. I considered interfacing the hem to try to reduce the wavy effect but after making samples I found I preferred the softer hem.

Anyway despite all the quibbling I really do like this dress. It’s a slightly unusual style but easy to wear. The silk feels very luxurious and was worth all the sewing problems. I have just cut out a second one, in a rather more experimental and even more temperamental fabric. Wish me luck.

Burda 106-04-2014

The wetsuit look: Vogue 8866 in scuba knit

Vogue 8866 grey top

I’m getting my money’s worth out of Vogue 8866. It’s a wardrobe pattern so you might expect to get multiple makes from it, but I’ve only used two of the five views so far. And those two are so similar they’re really the same pattern: a knit top which can be lengthened into a dress. The grey top below is the most recent incarnation. Previously I’ve done the dress in a sparkly doubleknit and the top in an unusual textured jersey.

This version is made in a scuba knit from Tissu Fabrics. The colour is evocatively described as platinum grey. Sadly they now seem to have sold out of the grey although there are other colours available. It’s fairly heavy weight with good recovery, but not ultra-stretchy. I definitely should have gone up a size on the top this time. You can see quite a bit of wrinkling below.

Vogue 8866 grey front view

The original pattern has got a keyhole opening at the back neckline and the collar closes with hooks and eyes. For this version I replaced all that with a zip in the centre back yoke and collar seam, which I made a complete pig’s ear of, managing to sew over the teeth in a couple of places. Amazingly it looks OK in the pictures but it only unzips about halfway! It was supposed to be an invisible zip but I ended up inserting it with top-stitching like a centred zip because I hadn’t thought the construction through properly in advance.

Vogue 8866 back view

The original pattern has a lot of top-stitching on the decorative curved seams. I didn’t bother with that on my previous makes, which were in very textured fabric, but on this one it was worth the effort because it shows up against the smoother surface. You can just about see it on the raglan seams in the picture below.

Vogue 8866 grey closeup

I wasn’t very pleased with this make when I finished it, what with the zip and sizing problems. However it’s grown on me. It’s been worn to work a couple of times which is always a good test, although one of my colleagues did compare it to a wetsuit. I guess I can’t complain too much if the fabric’s called scuba knit.

Chain mail wedding dress – Burda 106-03-2011

And having got your attention with that silly title, here it is. It’s not really chain mail, of course, but it is a wedding dress pattern: Burda 106-03-2011.

Burda 106-03-2011

The fabric is a very coarse polyester woven. The threads are two different colours; there’s a fine black one and a much chunkier white one. It was described as ‘linen-look’ on Minerva Crafts’ website but there really is something vaguely metallic about it. It’s very drapey but also quite heavy; perfect for this style. Here’s a close up.

Linen look polyester from Minerva

This is the technical drawing of the dress. I added inseam pockets to it and eliminated the seams that divide the collar into three pieces; however that proved to be a mistake. I think if I’d left the collar as intended I’d have been able to sew the lining to the zip by machine; as it was I had to hand sew it. At least there was some cricket on the telly yesterday to sew in front of.

Burda 106-03-2011 line art

You can just about see the pockets here. The neckline gathers are very uneven. Some of that’s down to the coarse fabric, but I probably should have unpicked it and had another go. Too late now. Probably only another sewist would notice?

Burda 106-03-2011

The pattern calls for lining in self-fabric. The polyester I used is both see-through and rough to the touch, so I lined in grey poly taffeta instead.

Burda 106 03-2011 lining

It closes with an invisible zip up the back. I used lots of interfacing in the collar. I only interfaced the basic pattern piece, not the seam allowances; that made the polyester much easier to work with. I also interfaced the centre back seam. This was in part to reinforce the slit and zip area, and in part because I made a horrible mistake while cutting and only had very small seam allowances to work with on that seam. The fashion fabric frays very badly so the interfacing provides some much needed strength.

Burda 106-03-2011 zip

I’m pretty proud of that zip! Went in smoothly first time and I don’t think you can see the end.

Burda 106-03-2011

This style comes up really long. I lengthened it my usual amount, and then cut all that off and more when I hemmed it. Without the heels it drags on the floor. The hem was fiddly to sew because it’s very pegged. I did it with my machine’s blind hem stitch and foot. I’d hoped the stitches would vanish in the texture of the fashion fabric, but they’re a bit more visible than I’d like.

Burda 106-03-2011

The lining hem hangs free except at the back slit.

Burda 106-03-2011 lining hem

I’ve always been a bit on the fence about this style; it’s fundamentally egg-shaped which doesn’t seem like it would be flattering on anyone. It looks OK on Burda’s model but fashion photos can be very misleading. However I found I kept coming back to it when browsing my Burda collection, so I’m glad I finally found some fabric and made it up. I really like the end result. I don’t think the fabric photographs very well though; it seems to come out much lighter than it looks in the mirror. The style is comfortable but I think has just enough shape to look like a dress and not a sack. And I bet I can fit lots of cake in there. I have a wedding to go to next month so it’ll come out for that, weather permitting.

Burda 106-03-2011

Avant garde or big grey sack? Drape drape 2’s tuck drape dress

So a few months ago a part of the sewing blog world was calling for more constructively critical comments on sewing blogs. I seem to recall saying at the time I agreed with this…well although I love a positive comment as much as everyone else, my latest project seems like a good one to ask for constructive criticism on! It’s design 7, the ‘Tuck drape dress’ from Drape Drape 2. If you have the English-language edition it’s the ‘Two piece open batwing dress’. It hasn’t come out very much like the picture in the book, which you’ll have to take my word for. I’m not entirely sure whether it’s pleasingly avant garde or just a big grey sack.

Drape Drape 2 No 7

Possibly part of the reason for the difference from the book is that I have the Japanese language edition. You don’t need to read Japanese to use the book as the diagrams are excellent, but they don’t illustrate every step. I can believe I may not have sewn this up correctly. I also adjusted the original pattern. The original looked exceptionally short even on the model. I am very tall and have a long torso, so I added to both the bodice and skirt length. You can just about see the adaptations on the pattern pieces below. The bodice front and skirt were easy enough to lengthen, but the bodice back required a bit of fudging. The centre back seam is the longer curved edge on the bottom of the things that look like wings on the pattern. To lengthen it without changing other seams I had to rotate the bottom edge of the ‘wing’ down.

Drape Drape 2 No 7 pattern pieces

I definitely overdid the lengthening. The waist is sitting on my hips! The pattern also came up rather too large. The Drape Drape books have four pattern sizes, but this is one of the designs that comes in only two sizes: small-medium or large-extra large. I’m about a ‘large’ so I made the bigger size, but I ended up having to take quite a bit off the skirt side seams to try to stop the pleats sagging over the backside. I think I’d have been better off with the smaller size; maybe my fabric has too much stretch for the design.

Drape Drape 2 No 7 back view

The original pattern has kimono style sleeves with a slit made by leaving the overarm seam unsewn from the shoulder to just above the wrist. I omitted the slit because the UK isn’t warm enough for that sort of thing for most of the year. I think the sleeves look OK without it.

I have some extra seams in my dress because I ended up cutting the ‘wing’ parts of the pattern separately from the front bodice. They are separate paper pieces that are supposed to be stuck together and cut as one gigantic pattern piece, but my fabric wasn’t wide enough for that. I had to add seam allowances to the joining edges and sew the fabric pieces together after cutting. This worked really well. The extra seam isn’t at all obvious and it didn’t seem to cause any problems when sewing the pattern up. I’d point it out in the pictures but I can’t actually see it myself.

I had a little trouble with the pleats in the skirt. One side worked beautifully: after I’d folded and basted all the pleats the front and back edges matched up perfectly. The other side, not so much. There was enough length difference that I think I may have missed a pleat. However after careful study of the diagrams I couldn’t see where, so I settled for making one of the other pleats deeper to take up the slack. And now I can’t remember which side it was I adjusted; not sure what that says! Here they both are.

Drape Drape 2 No 7 right side

Drape Drape 2 No 7 left side

So on the whole I’m not not sure this one has worked as intended. I have worn it out of the house a couple of times so far. It’s growing on me, but it’s so unlike the original it doesn’t give me confidence to tackle any of the other Drape Drape designs. Any one else made anything from the Drape Drape books, especially this design? Any tips? And am I kidding myself that this really isn’t just a grey sack?

Instant gratification

This is Burda 116-08-2011, inspired by Allison’s version. I think this might be the single fastest dress I ever made. I started tracing the pattern on Saturday morning. Then I cut the fabric out. Then I thought I might as well thread the overlocker and the sewing machine, and then once those were threaded I figured I might as well sew a seam or two. By the end of the afternoon I only had the hem and finishing the armholes left to do, and those happened on the Sunday morning.

Burda 116-08-2011

It’s come out very 1980s. My fabric is a stretch poplin which isn’t nearly as drapey as the one Burda used. However I like the blousing on the top half. So it is possible to get away with a slightly less drapey fabric. It is definitely sized for a stretch fabric though as there’s not a large amount of ease on the hips. I think I’d go up a size on the bottom half if I was making this again.

Burda 116-08-2011

I think this is a great hot-weather dress. It’s cool and comfortable without being too casual. I particularly appreciate the high collar because the back of my neck burns really easily in the sun. And it has pockets, which more dresses should have.

On that subject, I didn’t make the pockets in the way Burda prescribed. The original design has one-piece pocket bags which are top-stitched to the dress front. You finish the front edge of the pocket by turning under an extra-wide seam allowance on the dress front side seams. I forgot to add the extra allowance when I was cutting, so I cut an extra set of pocket pieces and made regular side-seam pockets. I think I prefer my version anyway as I wasn’t keen on the idea of the top-stitching in the first place.

You know, I could see this in bias-cut stripes…I might have to make another.