For about the last year I’ve been steadily sewing through a couple of wardrobe plans, with a bunch of pieces designed to mix and match. I rarely wear colour so I’ve been sticking to black, grey, and white so everything goes with everything. A couple of weeks ago I finished the last piece, a fairly plain black v neck top – photos to come – and started thinking about what to do next.
While I’ve made some pieces I really love from the wardrobe plans, the whole mix and match thing isn’t working as well as I expected. I don’t mix my separates up much: for each bottom I know the top that goes with it best, and rarely pair it with anything else. But it is nice not to have wardrobe orphans, so perhaps the solution is to sew outfits rather than whole wardrobes. And that has the advantage that it’s slightly easier to add a bit of colour…and after a year of grey even I’m ready to introduce some variation.
I cautiously set out with Vogue 1567, a Paco Peralta design which comprises a boat neck knit top and a dramatic skirt.
Here’s the result. Dress form photos only because I haven’t had a chance to do modelled ones, but I’m really excited to wear this.
Admittedly the skirt’s black. This is because it’s a huge fabric hog and I already had a suitable length of black poplin in my stash, but I haven’t made a coloured top for…well, I can’t actually remember.
I’m also planning a yellow dress, a green jacket, bright blue trousers. There’s a bit of white in the scheme too because it’s bright. I’m not going too overboard: the blue and green fabrics have been lurking in my stash for years.
One of my favourite designers is Rick Owens. Unfortunately pieces of his post-apocalyptic vision are seriously expensive to buy, and even the more basic and wearable designs are pricey. One of these basics is a skinny wool knit t shirt with an exposed back seam, a deeply curved raw hem, and extra long sleeves. I made a knockoff of it a couple of years ago and have worn it so much it’s now starting to look a little sad. Here it is when it was just made.
The neckband has stretched and gone wavy since then. I made it too long right from the start and only aggressive steam pressing ever made it sit flat. I’ve also never been 100% happy with the shape of the hem; it’s a little too long. So this is version two, made out of the same John Kaldor Isabella wool jersey as the first one, with a shorter neckband and reshaped hem.
Weirdly it seems to fit better too, but I think that’s because I’ve changed shape rather than any improvement I made to the pattern.
I only made it a couple of weeks ago and have worn it four or five times already so this is a definite win! Thanks to my husband for the photos as always.
This cardigan is what remains of my version of Burda 111 06/2021. The original design’s extended fronts join in a loop and go around the back of the neck. I sewed it up according to the pattern and spent some time figuring out how to make it lie neatly. But it just doesn’t work in the very drapey bamboo jersey I picked; as soon as I move the loop pulls itself into a long skinny tie rather than an elaborate drape, which looks very odd. I also seriously regretted my decision to ignore Burda’s finishing instructions for the edges. Burda says to fold the raw edge under twice, press, and topstitch. I decided life was too short and my fingers too sore for this, and did a twin needle hem instead. But the wrong side shows enough when the loop is draped around the neck that it looks bad: I never managed to trim the inside edge on a twin needle hem completely evenly. In this case I even made some holes by trimming too much and had to darn them. So sorry, Burda, you were right on that one.
After several failed attempts to fix the messy drape in place by connecting its edge around the neckline I gave up and picked up the shears on the grounds that I couldn’t make it any less wearable than it already was. I cut the loop apart by cutting out the original joining seam. This was not only therapeutic, I like what I’ve ended up with even though it’s very different to the garment I imagined.
This is how skinny that draped section goes when hanging in the bamboo; it’s meant to cover half the chest.
Burda’s instructions say to use ‘fine jersey’ . I’d interpret that as something slinky – hence the bamboo – but I think what’s actually needed is fabric with sufficient body to not collapse under its own weight. Cotton jersey without any elastane might do, or a ponte. I’m not sure what Burda used, but in the model photo it looks quite heavyweight.
The pattern has a hook and eye at the front so instead of tying the fronts they can hang loose and still provide a bit of coverage. I’m surprised to find I like it styled this way. The shape is interesting. And there’s always the option to tie the fronts up if I suddenly have to climb a ladder or something.
The back view is completely plain and the back is not at all fitted. I found it looked sloppy on me with the original loop arrangement, but oddly seems better with the fronts loose. Perhaps the weight of the fronts dragging down draws it closer in to the body.
This was made as part of my current wardrobe plan, so I’m wearing it with the trousers and crew necked t shirt (not yet blogged) from the plan. Thanks to my husband for the photos.
I just finished making Burda 111 6/2021, a sort of cardigan jacket thing with a drapey twisty front bit (scientific description there). I put it on, and then spent twenty minutes in front of the mirror trying to figure out how to best arrange the drapes. The two fronts extend from the hem and are joined into a long loop with a full twist. Here’s the technical drawing:
I’d chosen black fabric where the right and wrong side were very similar, so it was a bit difficult for me to see what was going on with my garment. So here is my assistant, Gabrielle the Playmobil figure, wearing the same design made up in origami paper with different coloured sides.
The flattest way to arrange it is like the picture above. The two fronts cross over and the wrong side of the fabric faces out on the drapes. The direction the fronts cross over depends on which way it was twisted before joining the fronts.
Then I started wondering what would happen with different numbers of twists.
With no twists the fronts don’t want to cross so it ends up as an open jacket. The wrong sides still show.
With two twists it likes to sit with one side wrong side out and one side right side out. Might look interesting if you had a fabric with two good sides.
I tried half twists too, which means the front extensions end up joined right side to wrong side, making the whole garment a Möbius strip with one side and one edge (if you ignore the sleeves). That didn’t work at all: I couldn’t get it to sit flat in the paper version. Whole numbers of twists it is.
Hopefully I’ll get some pictures of the fabric version soon.
Finally some modelled photos of Burda 110 05/2008, part of my current wardrobe sewing plan. The weather’s turned cooler so while I’d originally intended to wear it on its own, I’ve had to put the pleather leggings from the same plan and a t shirt underneath. And as we went to a park on the other side of town to take the photos there are creases and the pockets are laden down with hand sanitizer and the like. So this is definitely a realistic set of photos!
Here’s the line art. Note the distance between the bottom of the pockets and the hem; this is meant to be a very short dress.
And compare with my version, which has come out a lot longer. I think the explanation might be that hem allowance was already included on the pattern pieces and then I added it again. Normally you have to add both seam and hem allowance to Burda magazine patterns, but sometimes when there is a feature at the hem like the drawstring casing here, or a turn up, the hem allowance (but not the seam allowance) is already included. I have checked the instructions and it doesn’t say it’s included, but every other version I’ve seen of this one is a lot shorter than mine. I’m not sure the longer length of mine is the best proportion on me, but it does make it wearable with bare legs.
For once Burda have come up with a pattern with an interesting side and back view. Those cargo pockets can hold a lot of stuff. I was a bit worried I’d made permanent shiny iron marks on the pocket corners while trying to press them but the fabric recovered very well after a steam. It’s Merchant and Mills 8oz sanded twill in Aubin grey. It’s a beautiful fabric: it has a very soft hand but is also sturdy. I’d definitely use it again. Burda’s fabric recommendation for this one is poplin which seems a bit on the lightweight side to me.
The belt loops held on with snaps look good but the back ones do occasionally unsnap themselves when getting out of a car.
I’m pleased with the collar and front zip. It was a lot of effort. Overall I’m not sure the style works for me though; the whole thing seems like it needs to be a bit crisper. Maybe I should have used poplin!
Thanks to my husband for patiently taking the photos as always.
Progress on my wardrobe plan has come to a temporary halt. After swearing I’d never be one of those parents who spends hours making costumes for children I’ve been persuaded to make my son a Ghostbusters jumpsuit. I blame Andy Day.
I’m basing it on Burda 144 1/2012. It’s an astronaut costume but really all I need is a jumpsuit pattern in his size to which I can add all the pockets and patches.
And there are a lot of pockets. I thought I might get away with just chest pockets, but in fact the suit has at least six pockets and my son has observed this on his Playmobil ghostbuster figures so six it had to be. He’s also scarily observant about the type of the pockets. I’ve done zippered welt pockets (what have I become?) and he pointed out they should be patch pockets. I’ll fix that by sewing the pocket bag to the front of the garment so there is an outline. At least he’s not spotted the original has ankle zips.
The costume is going together in a less than optimal order because I only had two zips for the four zipped pockets, so I’ve sewn up as much as I can while leaving the inseams open so I can add the last two zips to the leg pockets now they’ve finally arrived. Should be finished next week. Wish me luck.
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’m making the dress above, which is an old Burda magazine pattern from back when it was called Burda World of Fashion. The pattern number is 110 5/2008. It has such a huge amount of detail. This is something where I think the majority of sewing patterns don’t match ready to wear designs – they don’t have a lot of non-functional detailing.
A couple of weeks ago I was complaining about the instructions for this pattern, which make modern Burda ones look verbose. I was also pretty sure they contained a mistake. Well I was wrong: I started sewing it up and it all made sense once I had the actual pattern pieces in my hands. For posterity here are some in progress photos of the centre front zip fastener, which was the bit that confused me. It has an exposed half zip with an appliquéd band.
You sew up the centre front seam to just above the end of the zip slot and then there’s some difficult to describe trimming and snipping to do which ends up looking like this. This is the bit that confused me! But I think the picture below is correct. The seam allowances have been trimmed off along the length of the slot, the remaining seam allowance trimmed diagonally, and a small cut made into what will be the bottom corner of the zip slot. I should have interfaced that area.
Then you press the whole thing flat and sew the zip on like a regular exposed zip but from the wrong side, so the inside of the dress is very cleanly finished. Or would be if I’d interfaced the bottom of the slot…it frayed a bit in one corner.
And finally you appliqué the band over the top on the right side.
Eventually there will be some rivets applied too.
So that’s the front zip in. There are two more exposed zips with bands for the side pockets and then a bunch of other fiddly little bits to sew. Summer will be over by the time I’ve finished this one!
This dress is a bit of a departure from usual for me. I don’t often wear colour, never mind prints. I’d originally been planning to make Burda 101 2/2021 in a very luxurious grey Tencel twill as part of my wardrobe sewing plan, but then I read some slightly worrying reviews of the pattern. Here’s the line art: what it doesn’t show is that you’re meant to cut the bodice on the bias, which combined with the weight of the long skirt means the bodice tends to grow.
I didn’t want to risk my expensive fabric on a possibly dud pattern. I also couldn’t see any good reason for the bodice to be on the bias in the first place. The original Burda version is made in a horizontal stripe which produces a nice effect with the bias grain, but in a plain I thought it would work perfectly well cut straight. Time for an experiment.
Enter this mystery print fabric which has been in my stash for years. I got it on Goldhawk Road in London. It’s a lightweight twill and at the time I thought it was polyester based on the price. I did a burn test when I pulled it out for this project, and was amazed to find it’s most likely silk – certainly not polyester anyway. But I have never found a project for it and it seemed like a good choice for this one because there aren’t many seamlines to break up the print.
So I traced the pattern off and rotated the grain line on the bodice pieces. I also eliminated the centre back seam which isn’t needed if you’re cutting on the straight grain, and would interrupt the print. I completely missed that the front facing is meant to be cut on the fold and added a seam allowance to that. I made my usual fitting adjustment of lengthening the bodice. That was slightly tricky to do at the front because of the shape of the pattern pieces with the cut-on sleeves and the ties meant I couldn’t cut straight across and spread. I had to cut a step shape in the pattern piece instead, so the length got added below the cut-on sleeve at the outside edge and above the ties at centre front. And I added side seam pockets which are sewn into the waist seam at the top in an attempt to avoid sagging.
Cutting out was an ordeal. I did it single layer because of the print, which meant working on the floor. I should have stabilised the fabric with starch or gelatine because it wriggled about all over the place. Some of the cut pieces bore very little resemblance to the original pattern. And I completely messed up matching the print at the skirt side seams. I didn’t even try at the waist because the ties hide it there. But amazingly when I sewed it up it all fitted together. The print lines were useful for making sure things were on grain at the hem and waist seam.
I was really careful not to stretch out the neckline edges, but I still had to rip and resew the centre front intersection a couple of times to make it sit right. The bodice looks best slightly bloused over the ties, but the slippery fabric means it tends to slip down. I should have put some elastic in the waist seam but I didn’t have any handy.
I promise the hem isn’t as wonky as it looks, the bodice has just slipped down on one side. The sleeve bands tend to move about too: in most of the photos the right one has sneakily unfolded itself.
I do like the big block of print that ended up sitting on the upper back. The bow on the other hand just vanishes into the print.
I added a tie on the inside so I can attach the point of the v neck to my bra and avoid flashing people when I bend over. It’s a bias tube made from a scrap and caught in the stitching that attaches the facing to the centre front seam. You can also see my lazy overlocked seam finishes here. I’m forever seeing people on the Internet assert that overlocking is a sign of poor quality, but I’ve never had an overlock finished seam fray and fall apart in the wash yet.
So what’s the verdict? I like this dress and have worn it out of the house, but I won’t be making a version in the Tencel. Not because this is a terrible pattern, just a little fussy to wear. It needs plenty of ironing and the skirt isn’t a great length on me. Best kept for garden parties and summer weddings. Thanks as always to my husband for the photos.
I’m making the pattern below, a 2008 Burda, so it’s a pretty old one. I remember reading lots of online complaining about Burda’s instructions when I first discovered sewing blogs, but once I got good enough at sewing to tackle Burda magazine patterns at all, which would have been a year or two later, I found the instructions were minimal but usually adequate.
And then I got my hands on some older Burda issues, back from when it was called Burda World of Fashion, and discovered what people had been complaining about. The older Burda patterns are much easier to trace than the modern ones because the same number of patterns are spread out over twice the number of sheets of paper, but the instructions are definitely worse; I think this particular set even has a minor mistake in that they tell you to attach part of the front band twice, in two different parts of the instructions. And while the current Burda instructions are terse but include every step (apart from finishing seam allowances) the old ones occasionally skip over things.
The pattern above has a lot of fiddly little details: wide belt carriers, shoulder tabs, pocket flaps, and some sort of decorative loop at the back neckline. I picked it in part because of this. Burda made their version in poplin which isn’t the sturdiest fabric for that sort of thing so interfacing is definitely required. And the instructions for interfacing are limited to some shading on the cutting layout to show where to stick the stuff:
And that’s your lot; there is nothing in the text to remind you to actually apply it. Modern Burda always has a brief line at the start of the pattern instructions which mentions it.
Now if I was making this in poplin I think I’d be happy following the interfacing placement in the original diagram, but I’ve perhaps foolishly decided on something much heavier: an 8oz cotton twill. So do I follow the diagram or cut down on the interfacing? I definitely want it on the collar and zip bands, but I wonder if sticking it on the pocket flaps and tabs is just going to make them difficult to turn out and top stitch. Wish me luck.