February Burda Challenge: Wardrobe Essential Hopefuls

Starting off telegraphically today:

Managed to make (and wear!) my planned Burda project.

Pictures didn’t come out great (color me surprised). But here goes.

IMG_20180126_145712The pattern comes from the Burda Style: Wardrobe Essentials book — a gift that keeps on giving.  All the patterns in the book have been also published in the Burda magazine. This one is from 2013 (I think). One drawback of the book is that it doesn’t tell you that, so it takes some investigating on the Burda Style website among patterns from 2010-2013 to match them to specific issues (and find more photos).

What did I do?

Lots of things. Mostly basting and fitting, and ripping, and basting again, and fitting. Then looking up alterations from Pants for Real People and making them, and then narrowing the legs some more…

Quite a lot of the fitting, to be honest, was more experiential and experimental than methodical. While the book was pretty indispensable for fitting my flat derriere, the side seam alterations to fit my particular hip and leg shape were mostly about trying it out.

Scary. Sometimes slightly disheartening. But I wanted to wear these, so I decided to trust the process and get to the finish line.


I wanted to get a decent shot of the back but failed. I complain about my photography skills (and opportunities) far too much here. And these photos were rushed, in bad lighting.

I think the pants look better in real life, but I’ll be the first one to admit they’re not perfect. Next alteration to be added to the menu is the poetically dubbed “low-butt adjustment.”

We’ll see how it goes from there…

I made some additional changes to the pattern, too:

I wasn’t on board with the front-fly construction (two parts! seam allowances to be added in some places but not everywhere! what?!), so I drafted in what I think of a regular fly, extending its “flaps” beyond the line of the also poetically dubbed crotch seam.


I wish I had stabilized the pocket openings because the main fabric is pretty stretchy.

Speaking of fabric: you can find some good stuff in the “Suitings” section at Joann Fabrics. I like this one, even if I can’t remember the fiber composition for the life of me.

…And I squeezed in an extra garment this month, also from Burda. This top did not initially catch my eye. Because of the sleeves. I’m really not a fan of “the year of the sleeve” or what seems to be “two years of the sleeve and counting.” Crazy sleeves are at odds with my everyday life, so we’re not going there.

As you can guess, I simplified it. I find it really hard to find fabrics that hit the sweet spot of having both decent drape and some body. And not being transparent…

The crinkle rayon crepe I used here definitely wasn’t it. So I lined it with another rayon fabric from my stash that was too thin and filmy for my liking.

Oh, the joys of photographing black: on the left is the blouse as it is worn, with the crinkle crepe on the outside, and on the right you get a view of the inside.

The lining is attached at the neckline (which I first stabilized the hell out of with lightweight knit interfacing) and finally incorporated into the French seams at the armholes. It’s hemmed a little shorter than the shell. If I were to make it again, I wouldn’t go with a narrow hem because it’s pretty stiff. Not constricting, really, but it feels too different from the other hem.

I didn’t French seam the sleeves. I overlocked them on my sewing machine with a narrow overlocking stitch. I tried to be slow and accurate, so as not to destroy or distort the very fragile fabric. I left a slit at the bottom of the sleeves — I guess that’s my take on the “year of the sleeve.”

And that’s how I challenged myself in February with Burda. I’m left with the lingering sense that the clothes look better than in these photos but maybe the gray days of winter have me fooled?

What have you been sewing?



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I write about sewing, knitting, and may sometimes be tempted to talk about books.

15 thoughts on “February Burda Challenge: Wardrobe Essential Hopefuls”

  1. I hear you on difficulties with finding opaque fabrics with a soft drape – that is hard for me too! Lining is often the only solution.
    I think the fit on your pants is pretty great – they look really good on you! I don’t have much experience on fitting pants, but from the little I have I would say that your “Scary. Sometimes slightly disheartening” description is spot on. I cut out a par of Burda cigarette pants in May, basted them, tried them on and then just stared at the mirror with NO idea how to get rid of all the wrinkles and fix weird fit. I just showed them in the cupboard and haven’t touched them ever since. So I have a great respect for anyone who can figure out how to fit their own pants!


    1. I’m on a quest for those fabrics with drape and body… I feel like I see them around, in other sewists’ projects, but they’re so difficult to find in stores.

      My one piece of pant-fitting advice is don’t be afraid to experiment and don’t be afraid to potentially mess up. Starting with more voluminous pants might be a good idea, too, maybe… That’s how I ended up with several pairs of pleated pants 🙂

      In terms of free resources, Heather Lou’s blog posts over at Closet Case Patterns blog have really helped me examine fit and proper ease in different places.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good work on “reading the wrinkles” and figuring out (at least partially) how to fix them. The pants look great in the pics and hopefully are comfortable. Just today I got that pants fitting book and eagerly look forward to reading it.


    1. Thanks! These are not perfect but I think they look a bit better in real life than in the photos. I should have taken more photos to be honest.

      Books and blog posts are great resources but I think a desire to experiment and take risks in pant fitting makes for a very helpful attitude.


  3. You’ve done a fantastic job fitting those pants! I love the power woman vibe. I was actually tempted by a few bell sleeve tops from the op shop but ended up redonating them because I couldn’t keep them clean or dry! (They were much more voluminous than your lovely top.)


  4. You did it! Well done – they look superb – and if they look even better in real life as you mention, then they must be bloomin’ marvellous! I love the classic pinstripe and the fit looks comfy but still sharp. I’m in agreement with your comments on all the ruffles n bell sleeves n flounces. They’re only going to get dipped in my ketchup as I reach for my fries, let’s face it. 😉 Seriously, I did also think perhaps the year of the sleeve was over – I mean, what’s left?? – but from some of the new pattern releases, I guess not. The Kyoto tee/sweater and some of the French patterns are about as far as I can take it. I suppose it might be better than Year of the Trouser Leg, which I fear must be the next limb to be taken into flights of fancy.


  5. Thank you! I wish I could say these were easy, but pant fitting always feels epic to me and this was no exception. I’ve worn them several times already, and that’s some measure of success 🙂

    Maybe I should initiate a dramatic sleeve anti-club… hmm. It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one because there’s still a flood of patterns coming at us with the biggest sleeves ever 😉

    I don’t mind a little bit of drama: a cute ruffle, some gathering (I guess it’s called a bishop sleeve, which makes me wonder if there’s a type of bishop’s robe I’ve never seen?) or a slight bell shape… Nothing you could dip in anything. That’s where I draw the line!

    I, too, wonder what’s coming and I’ve been seeing some signs that shoulder pads might rise from the dead. Oh the trauma of the 80’s… But we’ll make it through this. After all, we can sew.


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