Since I started cycling to work I’ve been wearing fewer dresses and more trousers. I made a couple of pairs of jeans earlier this year to fill in the trouser-shaped hole in my wardrobe. What I didn’t make were any new tops to go with them. My one jumper has been worn so much it has gone into holes.
So last time I was in London I got some fabric to make another version of the jumper. The original was just a basic boat neck t-shirt pattern made up in black wool jersey. It was originally based on McCalls 2401 but it’s evolved so there’s only the faintest resemblance nowawdays. I wanted a high neck for this one so I took Burda 122-04-2011 and traced its neckline onto my t-shirt pattern.
The fabric is a wool-elastane doubleknit. It’s wonderfully thick and springy. I was worried at first that it might be a little too shiny because it had a very smooth face when I bought it, but a trip through the washing machine changed the texture to be slightly fuzzier. It came from Cloth House on Berwick Street. I started out a universal size 90 needle but got lots of skipped stitches which no amount of fiddling with tension cured. After switching to a stretch needle results were greatly improved as you can see below. The top line of stitching uses the stretch needle and the other two are the universal with differing tensions.
So here are the final results. The neckline on this top is perfect. It’s high enough to keep me warm while cycling but it doesn’t annoy me. I’m less convinced by Burda’s combining the high neck with short sleeves. I once had a sleeveless top like that which worked well with a pencil shirt or slim trousers though.
It’s very hard to see the zip in the shoulder in these photos, but if you’ve spotted it in the closeup below: yes I put it on the wrong side. Having got it to go in pretty much perfectly there was no way I was going to unpick it when I realised. I pointed it out to a friend and she had to think for a moment about what side it ‘ought’ to go on in the first place, so I don’t think anyone’s going to notice. I can’t just turn the top around and have the zip on the left because the neck facings are very different, even though the front and back body pattern pieces are much the same. The back neck facing is longer and would bunch up awkwardly if put at the front.
The back is completely plain but it is nice and long. It’s not hemmed. I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the length I wanted and it doesn’t fray so I just cut the hem edge carefully with a rotary cutter and left it raw.
One more picture because I like this one, although it doesn’t show anything new. This frankenpattern is definitely a keeper.
Filed under: Burda, Dressmaking, Fabric, Finished, Sewing | 15 Comments
Tags: Dressmaking, fabric, Sewing
The Spring Vogue Patterns release is out. It’s not made it to the UK at the time of writing but that’s never stopped me looking and making plans before.
Spring and Summer are normally my least favourite seasons for patterns. This collection would be no exception to the rule, were it not for the fact that Ralph Rucci is back with this design, 1381. I love this silhouette and the style has all the detail you expect; this time there’s quilting on the yokes, waist, and cuffs in addition to the regular cleverly hidden pockets and kimono/raglan sleeves.
The rest of the designer patterns have no must-sews for me. I was going to say that most of them are too dressy for my lifestyle, but if I really love a pattern then that doesn’t stop me. I’ve been struggling to describe what’s wrong with them and it’s basically that they lack excitement. Take this Donna Karan jacket and skirt, 1389. Lovely, but so very sensible and grown up. Where’s the drama?
Of course I’m being slightly unfair because there is one pattern with drama, but not in a good way. Much as I love the 80s, 1383 is too much. One for the inner teenager?
There are two Vintage Vogue releases. I’m guessing these are 40s or 50s styles, which are not eras I’m a fan of, so I’m never going to buy these for myself. But both have lovely details. Look at the pleats on 8973. Now if only Vogue would release some of their 70s archive!
Easy Options is disappointing this time round. Only one pattern, which is also the custom cup size pattern, and it’s for a style I feel I’ve seen many times before. The options are two skirt shapes and three sleeves.
Very Easy Vogue contributes eight patterns to the collection. I normally find something to like here. There’s a cute shirtdress, 8970, and a dramatic evening skirt, 8980. However the rest are almost all loungewear – good in its place but I can get that from every other issue of Burda. Is it just me or did there used to be a lot of Very Easy Vogue dress patterns? Where did those go?
As for the rest? The ‘regular Vogue’ patterns? Well they are few in number, but there are some good ones. 8979 is a very interesting tunic top. There are two patterns for men: 8988 is for a suit and 8987 for a waistcoat. And there’s a very practical messenger bag pattern, 8990.
I would say it’s the usual spring disappointment – but Ralph Rucci more than makes up for the rest so I’m happy with this one and can’t wait for the sale! What did you think?
Filed under: Dressmaking, Patterns, reviews, Sewing, Vogue | 15 Comments
Tags: Dressmaking, review, Sewing, Vogue
Vogue 1239 is one of my favourite patterns. It’s a Chado Ralph Rucci wrap dress with many of his signature features: kimono sleeves, high collar, and endless top-stitching. Oh, the top-stitching. I first made this a couple of years ago and it took about a month. That was when I had more free time to sew and a working iron.
When Winnie of Scruffy Badger Time kindly invited me to do a post for her Desert Island Sewing series I picked Vogue 1239 as one of my eight patterns on the grounds that on a desert island I’d have time to sew it again. And then I thought, why not sew it again anyway? I wear my original one at least once a week so it’s worth the time.
Well, this took two whole months. OK so I stopped in the middle to sew my mother’s Christmas present and then my iron broke and I didn’t have time to go and buy a new one. But even so it was a slog. It took two evenings just to cut and mark the fabric and lining.
The fabric is a navy blue cotton poplin. I think I bought it on Goldhawk Road at Rachel’s epic blogger meetup last April. It feels like it’s got a bit of poly in it which (heresy) I quite like because it keeps the creases away. The lining is a 100% polyester fabric called Eton taffeta which I got from John Lewis. It’s quite heavy for a lining which works well for this dress. I nearly didn’t buy it because it was suspiciously cheap and I’ve had bad experiences with cheap lining fabric. But it had a good hand so I took the risk. I will certainly buy it again as it sewed up very well.
The pattern doesn’t call for any interfacing despite the crisp final effect. The sharpness comes from all the top-stitching.
This is a very practical dress despite its fancy origins. The style is great for cycling (with leggings underneath) and it has pockets. Pockets are good.
There’s a lot of detail on the back view of this one. All those seams. All that top-stitching. Did I mention the top-stitching enough yet? I think I got through four or five bobbins.
Even after I finished the dress it took forever to get photos of it because of New year celebrations and the bad weather. So this is technically the last project of 2013, not the first of 2014. I’m not going to do an end-of-year sewing round up because I’ve sewed so little in the last 12 months I think the numbers would depress me. So I’ll give you a silly photo instead. Happy new year!
Filed under: Dressmaking, Fabric, Finished, Patterns, Sewing, Vogue, Vogue 1239 | 31 Comments
Tags: blue, Dressmaking, Sewing, Vogue
I’ve wanted a better iron for a while. I had a good one when I was at university, but shortly after I started sewing I dropped it and it never worked again. I hastily replaced it with something cheap and cheerful which I have been using ever since. It probably says something about its age that it’s styled to look like an early iMac – all white and blue translucent plastic. Anyway it worked. In fact it still works – at least it heats up. It just can’t steam. I don’t remember dropping it, but one day in November it poured water all over the ironing board when I started to use it. As soon I looked at it closely I saw the water tank had cracked.
I managed for a while by not putting any water in the iron. I made steam by dampening my fabric with a spray bottle of water, which I can’t recommend. It works but it’s easy to get the fabric too wet.
This is what I got for Christmas. Might seem silly to get excited over an iron, but this one is so much better than my old one. It produces loads of steam, it has a really long cord, and it hasn’t dripped once so far. And it’s red. Everyone knows red ones go faster, right? If anyone’s really interested it is a Bosch Sensixx’x DA50 Edition Rosso. Sounds more like a sports car than an iron.
Filed under: Machines, pressing, Sewing | 16 Comments
Tags: iron, pressing, Sewing
I always look forward to the autumn and winter Vogue pattern releases. Sadly the autumn collection was underwhelming this year. The winter one came out in the US a couple of weeks ago and the good news is that it’s a definite step up.
The designer patterns are few but good. I’m disappointed there’s no Chado Ralph Rucci (again!) but what we do get is what Vogue designer patterns are all about: styles with unusual details or dramatic impact. My favourite is the Donna Karan pattern for leggings and a wrap top. I’m posting the technical drawing rather than the photograph because the whole point of this one is the seam detail in the leggings.
Another highlight is the spectacular evening gown from Badgley Mischka. If I had a glamorous evening event to go to, this pattern would definitely be on my shopping list. The pattern description also hints at some interesting techniques: ‘back pleated drape with weighted tab’. You don’t often get that sort of thing in Burda.
The most unusual designer pattern this time around is a top and skirt from Guy Laroche. I really like this one, and not just because it has pockets. I’m not sure how flattering it would be on a non-model but I bet it’s an interesting sew.
Very Easy Vogue has some hits. There’s a classic cape and a simple and pretty colour blocked dress – although given that this is the Winter collections, sleeves would have been nice. But I’m being a bit picky there because we also have 8495 (shown below) which not only has sleeves, but interesting ones.
Also in Very Easy Vogue there’s a simple overcoat with a slightly unusual draped detail at the back. But it’s not all good: there’s also this.
The undisguised elasticated waist would be fine if the dress had been made up in a really casual fabric. But with the sequins it just looks odd. OK pattern but poor fabric choice perhaps.
Speaking of belts, there’s something odd going on with the waist on the custom cup size pattern. This is a closefitting dress with a lot of seam detail at the waist. The model’s wearing a purchased belt in the full length pictures, but in the belt-free closeup you can see the intersecting seamlines haven’t matched up on the dress. It could be a sewing failure rather than the fault of the pattern, but I’d certainly look out for some reviews before buying this one.
The rest of the Very Easy patterns are knit tops, mostly with mullet hems. Nothing in there you couldn’t find elsewhere. The hoodie top is the best of them. It seems to have more waist shaping than is typical – at least in the model shots – and you could easily remove the mullet.
The Easy Options patterns are good as always. We get two dresses: a French darted style with a waist seam and a princess seamed style without a waist seam. As usual they come with a selection of neckline and skirt shape variations. Rather than just the obvious ‘pencil skirt version’, ‘A-line skirt version’ variations there’s a peplum option on the first and a mermaid skirt on the second.
The third Easy Options is a skirt, and probably my favourite style out of the whole collection:
This is so Vivienne Westwood. There’s also a pencil skirt variation in there, and one with the drape on both sides. Even better, it’s rated Easy. I’d have loved for this to have been available when I first began sewing; so many of the more unsuual styles were beyond my reach at the start.
The regular Vogue patterns are a mixed bag. There’s a lot of eveningwear but also some more casual styles. I’ll just pick out two: 8955 because I love the drama of palazzo pants:
And 8946 because it’s oddly like a maternity style, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. There aren’t a lot of maternity patterns out there, and although this isn’t intended to be one, it looks as if it could accommodate a small bump.
But the most important question is: will I actually buy any of these? And the answer is that I won’t be rushing to get them the day they come out in the UK, but a few are going on my Christmas list. And that’s a definite improvement.
What do you think? Love this release or bored by it?
Filed under: Patterns, reviews, Vogue | 11 Comments
Tags: Dressmaking, Patterns, review, Sewing, Vogue
I’m very fond of Burda magazine. I’ve been subscribing for a few years and, despite my Vogue addiction, I probably sew more Burda patterns than anything else. Last year I had a look at whether Burda’s patterns are getting easier. I’ve accumulated quite a few more issues since then so I thought it was time to bring the stats up to date. Or maybe I am just avoiding cutting out my current project, which involves a single layer layout and endless tailor tacks.
So here’s the average dot rating for each issue of Burda I own, right up to November 2013. I have only included women’s patterns in the stats: no children’s or menswear.
That graph looks pretty flat to me. I fed the numbers into OpenOffice‘s linear regression function and it agreed with me; the regression line gradient is zero. Burda still isn’t dumbing down, whatever it might look like when we see issues covered with the ‘Easy’ banner.
As I was going through my collection I noticed I had a lot of issues which I’d never removed the pattern sheets from. I started counting the number of patterns I’d actually used from each issue. I have only counted patterns which have produced a finished garment; there are a few more I’ve traced but never made up. The most I’ve ever made from one issue turned out to be a meagre two patterns, but that’s not the surprising thing.
I haven’t made anything at all from issues published in the last year. This despite my last five or six projects being Burda. It used to be that I’d find a ‘must-sew’ pattern about every three issues, but apparently not any more. I just renewed my subscription so I’ll definitely be getting Burda for another year, but when it comes up for renewal next time I’ll be checking whether the hit rate has improved.
I don’t know if Burda has changed or fashion has or I have; I’ve been unthrilled by recent Vogue pattern collections too. Everything currently on my sewing list is a repeat of a pattern I’ve made before.
Anyone else feeling underwhelmed by this year’s pattern releases?
Filed under: Burda, Rants, Sewing | 30 Comments
Tags: Burda, Dressmaking, Sewing
This Burda pattern has been on my to-sew list for a long while. It’s 120-01-2012, a short trapeze-line design. This is a pattern that I was drawn to the moment I saw it, but put off making because of a fear that the trapeze shape wouldn’t work on me.
Here’s the line drawing. The dress has a tiny yoke with a very high neckline attached to a six-panel a-line dress body. There are invisible zips in the right shoulder and side seams and side seam pockets.
The fabric is a poly brocade from Minerva Crafts. At the time of writing it’s still available here. It’s quite floppy so I underlined it with poly organza. I also lined the entire dress, partly to help with maintaining the a-line shape, and partly to get an easy clean finish on the lower armscyes. The original version only has the yoke lined. You are supposed to finish the lower armscye with self fabric bias tape. I have no faith in my ability to do that neatly with fraying polyester fabric! Instead I made up the dress body in lining fabric and stitched it to the fashion fabric dress right sides together along the armscyes, clipping the lining at the ends of the armscyes. After turning and pressing I sewed the yoke to the dress, keeping the linings on both pieces free, and pressed the seams onto the yoke. Finally I stitched in the ditch on the yoke seams, catching the previously pressed under edge of the yoke lining.
The dress holds its shape quite well. It could probably be improved by adding something like horsehair braid to the hem. These photos were taken straight after pressing so you’re seeing it at its best. Unusually I didn’t feel the need to take any length off the hem, which makes me think this one comes up very short. I did have to adjust the neckline. As drafted it’s uncomfortably high at the front. I deepened it about 2cm and it’s still a touch too high.
I found it very difficult to get the hem level and I’m not sure I succeeded. I aimed to have it level for my normal posture, and you can see here that it makes a considerable difference if I stand slightly straighter. There are a few problems with the fit: the yoke is a little too tight and the side seams are swinging forward, probably because I made no attempt at a full bust adjustment. If I make this again I’ll probably go up a size and make the front skirt pieces longer and wider. But I think this version is good enough to wear.
The back is entirely plain but here’s a picture of it anyway.
The pattern is not quite as easy to sew as it appears at first sight because of the shoulder zip. Finishing off the lining at the outside shoulder edge on the side with the zip is very fiddly indeed. I had to hand sew a little because I just couldn’t get at the last bits with the machine.
I think the shape works ok in practice. I was half-expecting to end up with a dress that I wouldn’t want to wear out of the house. I suspect the key is to keep it short. I wouldn’t rule out making this pattern again some time, although I’ll pick fabric with a lot more body.
Filed under: Burda, Dressmaking, Finished, Fitting, Sewing | 15 Comments
Tags: brocade, Burda, dress, Dressmaking, Fitting, Sewing