My first jacket!

Looking back on my blog entries I see that I first wrote about this in early March, so it has been a long time gestating.


Burda 102 03/2013

I spent a long time fitting the toile, taking all your useful advice, adding in the shoulder pads, moving the  darts and so on and in the end had a toile which was, well, completely over fitted.  So I then started again and, with the help of my sewing friend, just took a centimetre out of each of the seams on the back (i.e. 4 cm in total) at the waist level.

Having spent so long on the toile the seasons had changed and the wool fabric I had planned to use was looking a bit too wintery.  A trip to Rolls and Rems in Lewisham yielded some pale duck egg blue linen and silk.  It is a very pretty fabric with a bit of sheen to it, being linen it does crease a lot – you can probably see on the picture above.  I matched it with some French navy coloured lining fabric, it’s a lovely colour and a perfect match for the jacket but possibly a bit too heavy.


I had originally intended to do a full tailoring job but as fitting the toile took so long I decided to just follow the instructions Burda gave  – which meant a lot of winging it as they weren’t as comprehensive or clear as I could have hoped for.  Inserting the sleeves was fun, I took them slowly; pinning and then tacking them in producing a near perfect sleeve head.  It was only when I tried the jacket on did I realise I’d sewn them in back to front!

The lining also caused me problems, the pattern suggested you included a 2cm ease  pleat at the back.  Unfortunately my lining fabric has virtually no give in it what so ever so 2cm was not nearly enough and I found I couldn’t move my arms at all.  I resolved it by cutting a seam up the back and adding in a stripe of fabric –  I didn’t have enough lining fabric to do this so the strip is in the shell fabric – it’s a bit unusual but doesn’t look too untidy.  If I make the jacket again I will ensure a much wider ease pleat is added.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m very pleased with the finished jacket.  It fits beautifully and is very comfortable to wear. I have some Navy linen in the stash that I think will make a perfect dress or skirt to go with it.


Jacket Toile

Last weekend I moved flat and spent most of the week unpacking and running backwards and forwards to Ikea. Funny, I’ve never had any problems with their products in the past but two items I bought this week had faulty components. Ikea furniture is great but their customer service is possibly the worst. Anyway most things have been unpacked now. I just need to work out how to fit all our pots and pans into our incredibly badly designed kitchen (large but with no storage or work space!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI took the opportunity of a few quiet hours this weekend to make a toile of my jacket. The
pattern I am using is Burda 102 03/2013. Thank you for all your useful suggestions from my last post particularly the link to the tailoring sew along. Having read through this I think I will follow her construction method as it’s my first jacket and it’s clear this is taking me into a whole new world of techniques.

Some thoughts occurred to me as a I made my toile;

Firstly, I should probably try to be more accurate when tracing Burda patterns. I originally started by trying to trace onto manilla parcel paper using tailors carbon paper and a wheel, however I didn’t find this very satisfactory. It’s difficult to get carbon paper of any size and if you move it as you trace you can knock your pattern out of kilter. Also the marks left are quite indistinct, I really need large sheets of dark coloured carbon paper for this to be successful but I’ve not found a source in London as yet.

A friend suggested a better (though slightly more destructive way) would be to use a spiked wheel. To do this I place a foam board on my kitchen work surface, then a layer of brown paper and lastly the pattern. The spiked wheel punctures through to the foam board which protects the work surface. I use the kitchen work surface rather than a table as its slightly higher so puts less strain on my back. This works very well and gives me a clear line. The problem is that I then go over the line free hand with a thickish felt pen. I think I need to rethink this step and use a finer pen and probably guide it with a ruler or French curve.

How do you trace your Burda patterns? Have you found a good source of carbon paper in the UK?

Secondly, I need to get a grips with sewing notched collars. I did this one late at night using a mixture of Burda’s instructions and my own intuition. It didn’t really help that I had obviously missed the mark on the pattern piece where the notch was supposed to go. This morning I looked it up in my DK Sewing Book and found a much simpler method of making them.

20130304-133851.jpgThirdly, the dart is quite tricky on this jacket and incorporates a horizontal seam which runs at right angle to the bottom of the dart legs. If I do make a mess of this the pocket pieces will hide the worst of it, but for myown satisfaction I’d like to get it right.

Lastly, I really need to spend some time practising sleeves. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. I have a feeling the difference is to do with the amount of ease in a sleeve (but on this jacket I seem to have one sort of ok and the other really bad so that doesn’t apply here). I’m also really bad at working out which is the front and which is the back of a sleeve

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo what do you think of the fit on this toile (apart from the fact that I am so lopsided)? I find it difficult to tell given that the calico I’m using is very light and drapey and I intend to make the jacket in a medium weight wool.  I think it would be more flattering if it were a bit more fitted around the waist, maybe starting with a smaller size might help.

I’ve got a curved wrinkle that runs from the armscye over the top of my breast, on the pictures it only came out on one side but it’s apparent on both when I stand in front of the mirror.  I probably need to pinch that out, but I need to be careful of not taking fabric out across my bust as it fits quite well there. Have you any suggestions as to how I fix this?

I’ve also got a bit of dragging under the bust where I think it’s being pulled from the back, I have a broad back so I may be able to fix this by letting out a bit on the arm/side seams.

Lastly, the back looks too big to me.  Almost as if I could do with a smaller size. Again it’s difficult to tell in the calico as the added structure of a firmer fabric might help.

Advice please

20130219-091614.jpgYesterday I managed to pick up a copy of the latest Burda in the newsagent and, excitingly, it has lots of very nice patterns for basic pieces. For example there are some slim, simple trousers, a longish pencil skirt and a sheath dress, all useful patterns that I can imagine getting a lot of wear out of. Most excitingly of all there is a jacket pattern (101 and 102) that I think can be used for a casual spring jacket, to wear over jeans, or for something more formal to wear to work.

Strangely, the picture in my magazine has the girl wearing a full length top. This picture came from the Russian Burda website which is obviously less fussy about flesh being on display!

20130219-092255.jpgI have been thinking about making a jacket for some time but have not been able to find a pattern I like. I have, however, read up on tailoring techniques and quite fancy having a go at interlining with organza and structuring a collar with pad stitching.

The instructions in the Burda magazine are a little vague (as ever!). When it comes to the collar it seems that beyond a bit of fusible interfacing there is very little required to structure it. At a couple of places they suggest you build a “little extra fullness” in but I am not sure what that means.

So a couple of questions for you more experienced seamstresses. Firstly if you were making this jacket would you use fusible interfacing as well as, or, instead of organza interlining? Secondly should I make the lapels of the jacket with hair canvas and pad stitching or would this make it too structured for the style? Thirdly if I decide to go without the hair canvas etc. what does building a little extra fullness in entail? (Or to put it another way am I just trying to make this too complicated? Should I just go with the flow and follow Burda’s instructions?)


Incidentally I love the biker jacket in this issue too!

Tweed Dress

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis has been sitting on my pile of work, waiting to be hemmed for the last week. Yes, I decided to go ahead and make shift dress 107 from Burda’s September issue using my beautiful piece of Scottish Tweed. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI found the fabric in Cloth House, Berwick Street. I’m not sure if you can see the colours in the pictures but it is a green and navy herringbone with fine mustard and pale blue window pane checks, which are almost indistinguishable. It’s a bit huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’, if I wanted to I could use it to make plus fours.

In order to make the dress a little more slinky than my toile I pinched an additional centimetre on either side of the long curvy darts, extending them up so they met my bust point. I also took a centimetre off the sides from the waist and down through the hips. This makes a massive 8cm taken off the waist, it’s still quite loose but now has a bit of shape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe tweed is very thick and I was worried that if I used the same fabric for facings it would be too bulky and itchy against the skin so I made a full lining out of mustard coloured bemsilk (from MacCulloch and Wallis) and used that as a facing. I also lined the patch pockets, cutting the lining on the cross grain and interfacing it, tips I found in a book to ensure the lining is strong and smooth. The seams have all been serged to death; now I have discovered a cheap source of thread I love my new serger!

Today will be a perfect day for trying out the new dress; it’s a cold, bright day and I’m off to my knitting group later this morning.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shift Dress Toile

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I’m not working I have a habit of wearing more or less the same thing – either jeans or a denim skirt, a long-sleeved t-shirt and one of my hand-knitted cardigans.  This uniform is casual, comfortable, but also scruffy and lacking in any style.  In an attempt to get out of the rut I have decided to make myself a winter dress.  I have a lovely piece of tweed which I think will make a really nice Mary Quant type shift.

In September Burda showed a shift dress pattern (107 09/2012) in a number of guises, it came in a sweatshirt which Melissa made up; a lady like, below the knee, a-line (OK frumpy) knit dress; a short sleeved lace dress and a short shift similar to the one I want to make.  On the Burda website I found this  dress which is the sort of look I am trying to achieve.

I find it a little odd that exactly the same pattern pieces are used for such different fabrics, indeed if I were to make either of the longer dresses I would probably cut a smaller size than that used for the looser sweatshirt or shorter shift.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlthough I am pretty much a standard Burda size I didn’t want to cut into my good fabric without making a toile.  As I didn’t have any calico to hand I decided to make up the dress in this furnishing fabric from Ikea.  In part this is because the fabric is not very drapey, a little like my tweed, and in part it’s because I like the colours which seem quite spring like.  Well, we did have a bit of sunshine today and there are snow drops in the garden so I can hope that spring is on it’s way.

The dress was very quick to make.  It has long curvy darts in the front and an interesting dart at the top of the sleeve which is sewn in one with the shoulder seam.  Apart from that it couldn’t be simpler.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe fit is very loose and the shape is quite flared.  It’s comfortable and casual, has long sleeves and will get me out of my rut but I’m not completely convinced it’s what I am looking for.  I’m not sure what is wrong but maybe the shape just doesn’t suit me.  You can see in this photo that it gives me quite wide hips (OK the fabric doesn’t really help).  I’m not really used to wearing such a loose style and such a high neck line.  It may be that the problem I have with it could be fixed it I tried a sleeker fit.

What do you think?  Should I go ahead or should I use my lovely tweed for something different?  Do you have any good patterns for a simple shift?

First 2013 sewing


A few weeks ago I ordered some grey roma jersey from Fabric Godmother expecting to make a sophisticated, sleek and understated shift dress using this pattern from Burda in September. It’s lovely fabric but when it arrived I realised it was a bit too plain for such a simple dress; there’s a fine line between understated and boring and I suspected that the finished dress would have fallen very much on the dull side of the divide. I still wanted to use the fabric though and fortunately Burda decided to republish this dress from 1956 that month. I was attracted to the long lean lines, the funnel collar and the slinky, skirt.

The fabric is lovely, a warm thick knit, very smooth, doesn’t crease and looks as good after washing as it did when it first arrived. I may order some more in the future, although probably in a more exciting colour (the aubergine looks fab!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pattern is very straight forward to make up, but the bodice is time consuming and it took me a good couple of hours to trace and then hand baste all the darts. I expected to have problems getting the seams to match but they came together very easily.

I had a little difficulty with the neckline, the instructions tell you to apply the facing before sewing the shoulder seams. I did this but then found a tiny mismatch on both sides of the top neck seam which meant the facing would not fold neatly in. This was quickly fixed by taking it apart, sewing the shoulder seams, sewing the pieces of facing together and then sewing the seam around the top of the neckline in one go (this is the way I normally apply facings and I’m not sure why the pattern asked for a different method).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe project was started before Christmas and before I received my overlocker so, although I have finished it off where I could with the overlocker I would have got a neater finish had I been able to finish each seam as I sewn it. Incidentally I found in my thread drawer that I had five different spools of Gutterman’s 701, all bought to go with different fabrics purchased at different times from different shops. I don’t think I could have done this if I had tried, obviously something in my sub-conscious draws me to that particular shade of grey. They are all used up now as the overlocker eats thread, so I am going to have to find a new, cheap source for the future (any suggestions?).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo anyway I finished the dress and was very happy with it. I had taken a smigeon off the waist and a fairly hefty chunk out of the two front princess seams across my belly (this made me feel much better about my post Christmas flab). I also thought about taking some fabric out of the top of the back as I get a weird wrinkling there but it was a bit too late to make that alteration by the time I spotted the problem. I get a bit of gaping on the top of another Burda dress I made some time ago so I probably need to think about this in the future. The bodice was well fitted but I hadn’t taken out the basting at this stage. It did vaguely occur to me that it should be much tighter given that the darts would be removed adding back lots of fabric but I really didn’t think this was going to be a problem.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat a mistake! Unfortunately removing all those darts had a terrible effect on the fit. The bodice suddenly became far too long with huge baggy bits about five centimetres under my bust. I took this photo but I’m not really sure it shows the full horror of the situation. There are pictures of the dress on the Russian Burda website which show that it can work with the darts open however I did notice that Melissa of FehrTrade also decided to sew up all the darts so I am not entirely alone in this respect! (yes I know, a toile would have highlighted these problems much earlier)

By this stage all my careful marks showing where the darts should have been had rubbed off and rebasting, then resewing those darts took me forever.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis fixed the problem with the bodice but emphasised a wodge of fabric I had been trying to ignore at the top of the central skirt panel. The piece is shaped with a point here, I had noticed that it didn’t look quite right but thought the weight of the skirt would pull it into shape. Unfortunately the jersey is too clingy for that to happen. The bodice is quite thick where the three pieces meet, as the central seam also has the folds from the darts sewn into it and I think this contributed to the problem. Eventually I fixed it by taking about 2-3 cm from the top of the central panel of the skirt. It hangs well now but there is still some bulk at the bottom of the bodice which I haven’t been able to remove.

Anyway I love the finished dress even if it’s not what I was expecting. Burda recommends using a wool jersey but looking at the picture from 1956 I suspect a drapey, woven fabric was originally used (did they have thick jersey fabrics in those days?). This would explain why the pattern has a back zip and calls for darted sleeves to be set in with a bit of ease around the cap. Whilst it would be difficult to get such a close fit with a woven I think a lovely patterned silk or maybe a wool challis would have made a gorgeous dress. I also suspect that the problems I had with the bodice may not have been so severe had I used a more drapey fabric.


October Burda

Usually I try to write my post about the month’s Burda earlier than this but I’ve been so busy this is the first opportunity I’ve had. So far I’ve only seen one other review for October which is a bit surprising and maybe because other bloggers, like myself, have found this month’s issue a bit boring.

I’ve written before about Burda and how it can be good one month and not so good another month. I don’t really mind this as I’m so slow about getting round to sewing anything not to adding to the list of things I’d like to make is a positive benefit! Also it’s so cheap it doesn’t really matter if a month or two isn’t so interesting.

So what did I like this month? Firstly this dress/top/tunic (113) which is very simple but made out of lovely fabric (of course finding the same lovely fabric is going to be difficult). I like this casual look with the longer dress over straight jeans or thick tights.

Secondly I liked this skirt (124) with the welted pockets. I’m not sure how you can put pockets in like this without there being a seam but it does look very polished. Incidentally lovely fabric again!

And that was about it. The only other garment that caught my eye was this dress (122), mainly because it looks like a simple block made up in green satin. Now I have my bodice and skirt blocks maybe I could make up something like this if I can find some nice material.

Incidentally, I see from the French site that there are references to various articles that I don’t seem to have in my English version. Am I right in thinking that the French version of the magazine may not be identical to the English?

October Burda

My last post on Burda has provoked a lot of interest, it seems I am not the only one who likes the magazine.  This month, again, there are a number of things I can imagine making (if I ever have the time!).

First of all there is this ruched t-shirt (114) which has “sewing lesson” instructions.  They have made it up twice.  I’m not sure I like the pastel pairing of it with the full skirt but I can see the potential, particularly with the Missoni type fabric.  The main problem with this pattern might be finding an interesting fine knit to make it out of.

I also like this skirt (121) a lot.  Clean lines but interesting details.  The pockets are slightly unusual, and I wonder if they might gape a bit which could be really very unflattering.  The bronzey coloured skirt is made out of a techno-gabardine.  I’m not sure where you’d get such a fabric but it looks exactly my sort of thing.  The white shirt (122) is nice too, with an unusual collar.

Talking of white shirts.  I like the look of this one (117) with it’s unusual pleat at the neckline. I notice that blouses made a bit like short dresses (i.e. with invisible zips to secure them and with a bit more structure than a traditional blouse) are around a lot this year.

Pattern 118 is a case in point being made into both a dress and a blouse.  This looks to be very similar to 117 but with a cowl neck rather than a pleat.  Both patterns have gathers at the waist line which might make them a bit awkward to tuck into skirts or trousers.

Lastly I liked this jacket (113) which is also made up into a waistcoat.  The jacket, however, has sleeves made out of a knit fabric which makes it look like a layered garment.  I can’t see the point of having sleeveless clothes in winter and this looks like it would be very cosy.  I like the stylish asymmetric front and clean lines, I can imagine using it to smarten up a pair of jeans on a cold day.

Did you enjoy this issue?  Which patterns did you like?


I sometimes wonder why I buy Burda every month.  Each issue seems to have at least one thing (and usually several things) I want to sew and as it takes me forever to complete the simplest garment I am constantly getting more and more behind.

I know several bloggers have expressed some dissatisfaction with Burda but I love it.  A lot of the clothes are exactly the style I would like to sew and wear. Some months are better than others but for £4.75 a month it’s very good value and even if I don’t want to make anything in that month’s issue I know there will be something good the following month.  Personally I haven’t found the instructions too difficult to follow, they are quite sparse but even as a novice I can see that most garments are made up in roughly the same manner so once you’ve made a few clothes you can sort of work out what’s coming next.  Having said that I haven’t made anything really complicated as yet and maybe once I get around to doing so I will find them more difficult.

One of the things I love about Burda is the way you can see the full potential of a good pattern as they will often make up the same garment a number of different ways i.e. in different fabrics or lengths.  Making minor changes can give a completely different look. Another thing I enjoy is looking through the instructions and checking out the pattern shapes.  I find this really helps me understand how some of the more obscure shapes are created.

I was going to use the post to review the October Burda magazine but it seems to have turned into a bit of a love letter.  I’ll try to find the time to post details of what I liked in this months edition next week.

Burda September 2012

I do love the excitement of getting the new Burda every month and looking at the patterns that are on offer.  My desire for new projects always seems to exceed the time available so  I find myself constantly earmarking patterns for the future but never getting round to them.

This month’s Burda is dominated by a very simple shift dress with interesting looking curved darts at the side and across the shoulders and top of the sleeves. On the cover it’s shown in lace (108), the sewing lesson for beginners features it in in wool jersey (109), a wool blend houndstooth fabric and a couple of large pockets turns it  60’s style (107) and by shortening the pattern they have made it into a top (106). I could only find the pictures shown here on the Burda websites but there are much nicer ones available in the magazine (p11 and p41) I really like this dress and it looks simple to make, providing you can get a perfect fit.  It would be a good way to show off a large print such as Marimekko Unikko (one of my all time favourites).  I also think a sixties style wool version would be gorgeous, alternatively I could use the pattern for 105 which is another shift, this one being sleeveless with interesting pockets.

Incidentally the mustard trousers (110) shown above are referred to as being ankle length, 7/8 length or (a new one on me) flood length.  I like the shape but I would probably go with the advice on page 10 to lengthen them as I wish.

This month’s vintage pattern is this suit from 1958.  I like the look of this, it reminds me of some of Doris Day’s outfits.

Lastly there is a parka 129 (I love parkas but have far too many in my wardrobe already) and dress 120 in a petite size. It’s difficult to see in the picture because the model is also wearing a bolero but it’s one of those dresses where the side panels are made out of a different fabric from the central panel thus showing off and defining the figure.

Have you managed to get your copy of the magazine yet? Which patterns do you like?