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.

BasicInstincT+BurdaBookPants-01

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.

Regrets?

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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Burda 7198 for the January #burdachallenge2018

I don’t usually participate in challenges. No fear of missing out can overcome my desire to be free to sew whatever I want whenever I want. Here, the stars have aligned: I know I’m in good company and I mostly want to sew Burda patterns anyway these days.

Burda7198-1

I had my eye on several patterns from this and last year’s January Burda magazine. I noticed that in past years, the challenge participants would aim to sew something from the current issue and, if they didn’t particularly like anything from that issue, went for past years’ issues from the same month. A neat way to keep things challenging but fun.

However, my Burda magazine collection isn’t that expansive, so I’d have just two issues to choose between, and then the patterns I liked from both were on the more involved side… complications from the get-go.

So I decided to sew a stand-alone pattern from Burda that would allow me to refashion an unworn dress into something I’d actually wear. You can’t get stars to align even more without causing a cosmic disaster.

The pattern is Burda 7198 and the fabric was harvested from this dress (a Burda pattern, by the way, and a poor pairing of pattern and fabric on my part).

Refashioning felt really good. I don’t know about you, but it really bugs me to see unworn clothes staring at me when I look into my closet. That dress looked much better in photos (blurry though they were) than in real life. And I only wore it for those photos.

I ripped into the seams cautiously, to minimize the damage to the fabric. Still, the fabric frayed with a vengeance. Luckily, I was able to rescue the zipper and hook-and-eye, and  undo the hand-sewn hem without problems. The skirt became the front and back of the blouse, and sleeves I re-used without any changes. The benefits of a consistent drafting block: they went in beautifully, with minimal easing.

Since the sleeves had the navy detail — and cutting into the bodice of the dress would have only yielded minimal amounts of usable fabric — I reached for leftover fabric from these two projects for the yoke and neckline binding.

My thoughts about this pattern… a mix of good and, hm, less good ideas.

I really didn’t like the suggestion to leave the bias binding just sticking out with a raw edge on the neckline. I don’t think that’s a good look. I wish I had cut the binding strip a bit wider, but I did manage to coax into compliance with an iron and patience. I applied it in a similar way I did the contrast cuffs on the sleeves: like a facing that has a folded edge and goes on the outside.

I also didn’t like the godets and left them out because the back and front pieces come together nicely, and with enough room on the hips. The triangle shape you can see in my last photo isn’t a godet — I had to piece the fabric on the back pattern pieces.

Any problems I had while sewing came up due to the poor quality of the black fabric. It’s a pretty fragile and thin poly crepe. Making up the button placket in it was flimsy and annoying. You may be able to notice that the bottom of the placket has something that looks like a tiny pleat. It’s not really a pleat, but I could neither snip into the corner far enough nor press out the placket aggressively enough to eliminate it without risking damage to the fabric.

I guess I’ll have to see how long this top lasts. Unlike the dress, it’s getting some wear already, luckily.

Verdict: Pretty good pattern, especially if you’re willing to tweak its less convincing details.

On to the next month.

Pulmu

It’s all thanks to the Compulsive Seamstress, Anne. Her post about the beautiful version of the Pulmu pencil skirt from Named she made for her daughter got me to finally stop procrastinating and make it. And I had a pretty good amount of very nice black suiting fabric left over from making these pants, so I just had to finally get to work…

Anne gave me really good tips on shortening the skirt pattern. The key: don’t take out a chunk in just one place. I shortened the skirt around the hip line and then above the vent, taking out in total about 3 or 3.5 inches. You have to adjust both the skirt pieces and the lining pieces, so I’d say the other key is patience.

I’m very happy I shortened the pieces because I’m quite a bit shorter than the height Named draft for and I’m not a fan of mid-calf length…

Here are some blurry photos of my black skirt in January darkness:

(Skirt paired here with a Plantain tee with a somewhat modified raised neckline.)

A heads up, too. You are likely to see quite a lot of black garments paired with black garments here for the time being. I’m finding that wearing black right now is helpful right now. While, yes, I do expect someone might at some point crack the old inappropriate joke about my clothes, it hasn’t happened yet, and I’m getting a degree of psychological comfort from this tradition… But, obviously, cat hair doesn’t care, so I haven’t suddenly become more elegant. The lint brush is my best friend.

Back to the skirt. My measurements fell between sizes, so I decided to cut out the larger size and then baste the skirt together with a 1.5 cm rather than a 1 cm seam allowance. I ended up taking out a bit more width in the lower hip, so the basting proved very useful — as it always does, honestly.

I had a slightly smaller D-ring set in my stash, so I also “skinnified” the belt by sewing it with a larger seam allowance. And it all worked out.

Difficult parts: attaching the lining — lining the vents in particular. It took some head scratching but I got there, eventually.

My one complaint is that I maybe should have been smarter about my main fabric and lining pairing. I really wanted to sew this skirt entirely from the stash, so I ended up with a really lovely, somewhat stretchy suiting and, unfortunately, a completely non-stretch lining. It’s okay so far, but not an ideal combination. The fabrics move a bit differently.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Again I’m very impressed with Named, and I love this design made up as much as I loved the idea of it. In the fabric I chose it ends up being a pretty comfortable pencil skirt.

Have you made a Pulmu skirt? Maybe a better question: what Named patterns do you have on your to-make list?

 

In which I hack a pattern I hadn’t sewn before

Hi there. I posted a photo of this shirt on Instagram a couple (a few? time flies) weeks ago. Funnily enough, I was on the fence about this fabric until I wore the shirt. But the comments expressed so much love for these polka dots, I began to wonder…

burda-shirt1

The fabric is pretty stiff: the dots add texture to a pretty densely woven cotton. It is wonderful to sew with — doesn’t budge and shapes pretty easily with steam. But, unlike Jess from New Girl, I don’t usually rock too many polka dots and am never sure if they’re not too twee on me. Also, I’d prefer not to sew darts in it. That’s based on my previous experience with this fabric, where I ended up converting darts into gathers (dress from Day 29 of this Me-Made May roundup).

All fabric doubts dispelled upon first wear. I love this shirt. I think this is one of the best things I’ve made. And it made for a glorious conclusion to what was a summer of shopping the stash. I didn’t announce it as a challenge or anything but just found myself consistently choosing projects based on what fabrics I already had.

So I went sleeveless here not just because it was hot when I made the shirt but because that was what the amount of fabric allowed.

Here are some not-so-great photos of the shirt when worn:

The pattern

The pattern is Burda 7136. I’m glad I took the photo below because I’d never be able to remember that number, and I do recommend giving this pattern a try even though I have yet to try it in its proper incarnation.

burda7136+pattenv.jpg

Siobhan made a great version of this pattern with a really neat print here — the bonus is that she offers some criticisms that should give you an idea whether this pattern might fit your body type. I’m shorter than Siobhan and, I guess, short-waisted, so the fit felt all right to me on this first and wild, untested, drive. I obviously have yet to try out the sleeves, so more detailed points will have to come at a later date.

Because I’m definitely going to reach for this pattern again. The only criticism I have right now is the length. I don’t want to be like the guy from those annoying UntuckIt commercials, but I was slightly unhappy with how long the shirt was. Now, I’m not going to start a company and make like I’ve invented slightly shortening clothes, but I chopped 1.5″ off the hem and I think it’s still a decently long shirt. You can tuck it in if you wish, but you can also wear it untucked with low-waisted pants (that ’90s hangover that remains the bane of my existence because, well, it tells you something about my wardrobe and the age of some of its components).

OK, one more criticism: the collar stand is pretty tall, and I double-checked that I was sewing it with the right seam allowance. I was. I think I might reduce it by 1/4″. Maybe with a collar attached it works better. Here, with a pretty stiff fabric it stands tall and proud and so I skipped that collar stand button so as to soften the look of it a bit.

Apart from that, Burda pattern drafting is strong with this one: my usual forward-shoulder adjustment would be in order to get the eam to land where it should. And I think I’d raise the armscye by 1 cm next time.

The inspiration

I hear that many sewists out there despise the word “hack” for pattern changes. I hope no one breaks out in hives reading this. I kind of like it, since it spans changes from breaking and complete remolding to ill-conceived “life-hacks” that don’t really make our lives easier at all. It’s your call where my changes to this pattern land on that spectrum.

So, in the interest of honesty: the idea for this shirt partly came from limitations of fabric amount and my desire to avoid pressing out dart points in this stiff cotton.

And then came something unusual for me.

While I enjoy looking at makes inspired by movie costumes, I’m often not so sure about the appeal of the garment at the heart of the craze. Case in point: that cardigan worn by Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game. I don’t really get what the fuss was about with that one, since there are so many gorgeous fair-isle patterns out there, and with more compelling color combinations. I’m really not sold on the pairing of beige and green.

Whoa, tangent. Stop.

But then I found myself watching another movie about World War II. Miasto 44, a Polish movie about the Warsaw Uprising. And I got stuck on one particular garment worn by Zofia Wichłacz. And that was it. Coup de foudre, my friends. I fell in love. Not even the dust, bomb blasts, and destruction of the city could distract me from studying the details of that one. (By the way, please don’t think I’m taking the subject of the film lightly.)

2ec9b3831be456f7f28ebb702e03bd6e
Image from Onet.pl

Still, I didn’t want to go full-on re-enactor here. Don’t ask me how historically accurate this garment is because I haven’t looked into that. I loved the gathering over the bust and the collar stand. And I wanted to make something with those details.

I’d love to try this on a shirt dress, though that is going to take more work. But if I do, then probably not in a grayish blue because things might get too somber (even for me). I’m also not a fan of the vertical buttonholes. But, you know, this is something worn by a young soldier of the Home Army, so, again, unless you’re taking part in a re-enactment, it’s probably better to steer things in a slightly different direction.

Feel free to criticize my lack of love for polka dots or that sweater from The Imitation Game. Tell me what film-inspired garments you have sewn. I could use some vicarious sewing pleasure right now because I don’t have much time for sewing.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

so good, I made it twice

The skirt from Simplicity 2215.

simplicity2215_envelopeI originally bought it for the dress but then swiftly put myself in the Limbo of Hesitation. I didn’t feel like making a muslin and I was just stuck in a loop, fretting about the odds that the combination of the high neckline and voluminous skirt would make me the opposite of what the model in this linked photo is achieving. Because, moment of truth, I don’t strut into work with all the buttons undone, quite the opposite, so…

But that skirt.

I’m paraphrasing here, but it seems to me that I encountered this opinion in several places: “those asymmetrical pleats will change your perspective on pleats.” I wasn’t sure but I’m now totally on that bandwagon. I love them.

simplicity2215_rose+b_helmi_2
Skirt #1 with an unblogged Helmi blouse in black rayon

I had this beautiful floral fabric in my stash for a while now. The pattern’s too intense for me to dress myself in it head to toe, though I can’t get enough of those roses. I’ve used it in facings and pockets. It’s a pretty stiff (canvas?) second-hand find. And I think it was just the perfect pairing for this skirt pattern.

I had another well-loved remnant in my stash, from this dress. So I made another skirt.

simplicity2215_black+burdabookshirt2
Details:
Pattern: Simplicity 2215 view C; both skirts lengthened by 2.25″; black skirt squeezed out of a remnant due to which one pleat on the front and one pleat on the back were sacrificed but things worked out fine.
Fabrics: skirt #1 – mystery fabric (canvas?) bought second-hand; skirt #2 – remnant of the “Sprinkle” quilting cotton from Cotton and Steel
Notions: thread; skirt #1 – 7″ invisible zipper, navy single-fold bias tape for the hem, hook and bar; skirt #2 – 7″ lapped zipper, hook and bar
Seam finish, hems, etc.: skirt #1 – serged side seams, hem hand-sewn and finished with bias tape, waistband finished by hand; skirt #2 – serged side seams, double-turned handsewn invisible hem; waistband finished by hand
Fun fact: I went with one pocket in the right side-seam and am pleased; I worried it would feel asymmetrical but, no, it’s fine.

Verdict: another great simple pattern!

PS: I don’t think I can write much more about the Helmi blouse — not when I’m sewing it straight up from the pattern with only minor changes. This one was basically like the blue one construction-wise. It all started with these unusual buttons with a floral motif:

b_helmi-buttondetail

So I end with a prognosis: more Helmis to come and, possibly, more Simplicity 2215.

What patterns have you hooked?

the call of the white shirt

This shirt, specifically. I have to share the pattern photo again, because it’s a rare treat:

burda1
Photo from the book Burda Style Modern Sewing: Wardrobe Essentials.

So much going on there… The pattern book, however, is pure gold and I plan to sew my way through it.

And just to clarify, I made the women’s shirt, not the robe the gentleman is wearing, nor any of the other incredibly distracting things in the photo. It’s not just me, right? There’s an overload of possible narrative in that photo. The collection to which it belongs is apparently called “Honeymooners” but it looks like a vaguely adultery-related scenario. So much tension. Will she escape through the French door?

Where was I?

The shirt. It looked deceptively easy but I wouldn’t have done it without Tea‘s help. I can’t thank her enough. Burda instructions did not alert me to the unusualness of that collar (no surprise there) and the line drawing doesn’t show the way the collar stand attaches to the collar. Need I add that there is no diagram included with the instructions?…

Tea made this beautiful version of the shirt as well as a black one with a scalloped collar, which is not on her blog, but it’s equally lovely and Tea’s photos of its tricky collar saved my sanity.

I’ll try to pay it forward — here’s my crummy photo of the collar and collar stand:

burdabookshirt-collarstand
Collar stand sandwiched inside the collar. Interesting concept but fiddly to sew.

This was a wearable muslin, again. I cut the pattern pieces out and basted the shirt together before committing to the final placement of the shoulder seams and bust darts.

In the end I left the shoulder seams as they were but moved the darts up by 1.5 cm (or 5/8″ if you prefer). My one complaint fit-wise is that the armholes fall a bit low, which limits mobility a bit. (Non-complaint but a fit-related fact: I did my obligatory broad back alteration on the back. For details of this fit alteration see this post.)

burdabookensemble2
Le look total Burda book: the shirt paired with the skirt from this post (from which I removed the offending pockets)

Confession time: I am trying to embrace white shirts but I have two major hurdles to overcome. Hurdle #1: the fear of spilling everything on myself while wearing white; hurdle #2: memory of high school and college exams to which I usually wore an outfit such as pictured above (long story — the TL; DR version is: school/academic culture demanding more formal attire).

I’ll need to work on figuring out some clever pairings to deal with that second issue. The answer is probably some pants I have yet to sew…

burdabookshirt-front

 

More details:
Pattern:
 Voile Button-Down Blouse from Burda Style Modern Sewing: Wardrobe Essentials
Fabric: white cotton voile from stash (long live shopping the stash!)
Notions: thread, 6 buttons, lightweight fusible interfacing, bias tape for the collar stand finish.
Seam finish and other details: first time trying flat-felled seams (not perfect but not terrible either, I think); shirt hem turned up to basting lines, then stitched; rolled hems on facings.
“Fun” fact: inserting the curved ends of the collar stand into the collar took multiple tries and corrections.

You may have noticed my button placement choice. I decided not to take the buttons all the way to the top — I didn’t like the way it looked on me. I went for this camp collar effect instead. What do you think?

Pattern verdict: So far, I really like it, even though I’m not sure what to wear it with and that strange collar stands out from my neck quite a bit.

vintage starting point

For $2 this dream in an envelope was mine.

butterick4727-envelope2

I wanted it all: the unforced coolness, the espadrilles, the white shirt. I even pondered the minimalist turban action on the lady on the right.

What I definitely didn’t have was “waist size 24.”

But it really didn’t matter in the case of this wonderfully easy pattern. I was able to improvise based on what my fabric allowed and got a perfectly wearable skirt out of it.

Unfortunately, there was no copyright date on the envelope, so I’m left guesstimating the publication as 1970-something? It’s a single-size pattern that uses the waist circumference (in inches, obvs) as the pattern size. The stitching lines are marked on the pattern, which is kind of nice… but given that it’s easier to mark within 5/8″ all around your pattern than to figure out other sizes from a single size, I’d still say my preference would be for multi-size patterns.

I approached the single-size pattern scientifically, that is, with a ruler and tape measure. The waist and hips were roomy enough, and I was able to finagle an additional inch on each pattern piece so as not to deflate the gathering (plus, plenty more inches on the waistband…).

You might be able to see in the drawings that the skirt panels have a somewhat unusual shape. They have a pronounced extension for the pockets and the pocket pieces are very small. While serging those panels was a bit challenging, I have to say that this design really hides your pockets well. It’s a good design idea that I might use in other patterns.

I gave you a preview in the post about the Burda top, but here’s the skirt again.

I resisted the call of the turban and made Skirt B in a poly-crepe remnant from my stash.

I decided to leave off the ties and, trying the skirt on with the waistband in progress, I also decided to shave some height off there.

Details:
Pattern:
undated Butterick 4727.
Fabric: poly crepe remnant left over from this dress.
Notions: thread, 7″ zipper, button for the waistband.
Construction details: topstitching on the waistband, serged seams, lapped zipper, hand-stitched invisible hem.
Fun fact: the pocket design is really clever!

butterick4727-backdetail
Back waistband in close-up

Pattern verdict: Worth hunting down if you’re into pretty pattern envelopes and easy sewing.

Do you have any tips for sewing with vintage patterns? Or any vintage patterns you’re looking to hunt down?