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Burda magazine July 2014

27 June 2014, 13:25

Burda’s recent winning streak was bound to stop sometime, and this issue landed with a giant THUD as far as I’m concerned! This is the usual summer issue, light on substance and big on frills, peasant styles (so 90s I’m going to go gag myself with a spoon), and the return of the clichéd safari style feature.

But there were a few garments worth discussing, so let’s take a look inside before retiring it to the shelf and drooling over June’s issue again instead…

Unfortunately we start with one of the ugliest garments I’ve seen in a long time (and I’d just flipped past an awful, off-the-shoulder peasant maxi dress, too). Who possibly thought that this satin bomber on the left was a good look?! I’m not even sure where to start – the unfortunate pocket flap placement right over the boobs, the wide elastic waistband making the model look super short-waisted, the petroleum shine of those cheap satins, or that horrible white pilgrim’s collar? BURN IT!

(The lace dress on the right I’m ambivalent about, but you’ll see it in worse fabrics in a minute)

This is a lovely gown, even if it is too big for the model and doesn’t really go with the rest of the collection (further confirming my theory that July is just the dumping ground for all the bin-ends of summer patterns before August’s first Fall fashion issue). I like the asymmetry and this could be a really lovely dress, either in the long length or the shorter version.

Let’s ignore the fact that this is sewn in “imitation snakeskin leather” for a second, and that it’s something that an Aerosmith backup singer might wear onstage – at least that ruffled overlayer won’t fly open in the wind, right?

Ahh, the sporty styles feature – I thought this would be my saviour of this issue but in reality there’s only one pattern I really like, and it’s this V neck, raglan sleeved knit top. I love the colourblocking, the deep banded V-neck, and the casual style. Definitely my Most Likely To Make in this entire issue, no contest. I’m still undecided on the satin trousers, but they seem to work in this context so I’ll let them slide…

I really like the concept of this pieced jersey dress (though I reckon this must be a leftover from the Japanese design feature last month?), but man does it look like it’d be fiddly to wear with the various overlay pieces and that centre front zip!

And finally, here’s the same pattern as the lace dress in the first photo, but made up in truly unfortunate fabric choices, like some horrible mashup between your apron and your potholder. That quilted fabric, those enormous patch pockets – all she needs is a wooden spoon! Ugh!

What did everyone else think of this issue – am I being unfair? Or did you think it stunk, too?

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Comment [14]

Anne's casual purple VNA Top

25 June 2014, 13:24

Wow, thank you all so much for your support and purchases of my new VNA Top pattern! I know many of you like to see how patterns look on a real person so I’ll be sharing the versions I made with you over the next few weeks. As with my Duathlon Shorts, I like to mix things up and use local athletes as models, both so that you’re not always just looking at me (boring!) but also to highlight what total badasses these ladies are!

For this pattern I was totally lucky to bag my friend Anne to model for me! Anne was big into roller derby for a number of years, has competed in triathlons and standalone open water swims, ran her first full marathon last year, and is at yoga and spin classes pretty much every night (seriously – she makes me look lazy!).

Here she’s wearing a VNA Top I made from a purple ponte jersey so you can see how well it works both as casual wear with jeans, but also when it’s made in just one solid colour!

Anne is wearing size Small here, and you can get a better look at the top itself once we moved out of the dappled shade of the trees and into the sunshine!

The neck and shoulders are all finished with bands, which are overlapped to give nice, sharp corners (don’t worry – I’ve included illustrations to make this easy!).

Also new for this pattern – I’ve included illustrations showing how to make common fit alterations, so if you need more room in the bust or hips, or more length, it’s much quicker to do!

Like it? Make your own and save 10% with coupon code “LASEREYES” til the end of June!
$10.99USD (£6.65)


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The Spring Race Challenge - prizes!

24 June 2014, 12:53

Hands up if you’ve been motivated by the Spring Race Challenge to sew up some lycra and go out and be active… ooh yes, that’s rather a lot of you!

Well, I’m pleased to report that there’s now another reason to be motivated to enter before 7 July, and that’s because I can finally announce the prizes, which will go to one lucky entrant, chosen by random draw.

Sewing Chest has very kindly supplied a special activewear kit full of goodies to sew at least one workout garment (and likely two, if you’re clever with your cutting)! It contains:

It should be enough for you to sew, say, a pair of PB Jam leggings in black with red contrasts, plus a black XYT Workout Top with a red upper back and FOE edges… or a pair of black Duathlon Shorts with red sides and a black VNA Top with red lower front and bindings… Or any other combo you choose, really!

These activewear kits will soon be available to buy from Sewing Chest, too, which should make it super easy to buy all the bits for coordinating sportswear in one go!

I’ll also be throwing in a bumper prize pack of all four of my sewing patterns (if you haven’t got them already!) to the lucky winner so she can have some new patterns to go with the new fabric, too.

Who’s in the running already? So far we’ve got entries from:

  1. Eva

  2. Kathy

  3. Jenny

  4. Rebecca

  5. Geo

  6. Mary

  7. Amy

  8. Nancy D

  9. Markita

  10. Kelli

  11. Merche

  12. Aveli

If you’ve made something but aren’t listed above, then you’re not entered for the draw! (I know there are at least a few of you out there!!) Please remember to link to your entry in the comments of the Spring Race Challenge post before 7 July.

PS: The cleverest amongst you will go and enter Karen’s Sporty Summer Sewathon, too and double your chances of winning!

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Comment [2]

A matching green Cake clutch bag

23 June 2014, 11:04

Wow, what a busy week last week! Thank you all so much for your support and orders of my new VNA Top pattern (remember you can still get 10% off everything by using code “LASEREYES”)! The big wedding I was attending was actually last weekend, but I was so swamped I’m only just able to share these details with you now…

Remember the green cropped blazer I’d sewn for the wedding? I’d shown you how it looked with casual clothes, but I can now show you how I wore it on the day, along with the dress I’d planned it around:

You can really see how the green piqué works alongside the texture of the dress in this closeup shot I took in the car on the way to the wedding…

And you can also see that I did indeed manage to sew up a matching Cake Patterns Red Velvet Clutch from the same fabric and lining as my jacket! The whole look was a success, IMHO, and the chilly evening meant I kept my jacket on almost the whole night, only taking off my jacket (and exposing my bare back in the dress) when we hit the dance floor.

I’d made the free, mini version of this pattern a few months ago for James’s nieces, but I knew those were really only big enough for a phone and lipstick, and that I’d need more for an all-day ceremony and reception. So I bought the full version of the pattern, which comes in a 10 inch or 14 inch variety – I made the 10” and it’s just perfect. Honestly, I totally love the design of this clutch and I’ve got more planned already!

You can see that the full version also adds a wrap around “belt” that closes with a magnetic clasp. The bag also has a zipper closure so this is really just for aesthetics – I may or may not include this in future versions as I like the look just as well without it. The instructions were super easy to follow, and once I’d thread-traced the pleat lines onto all four exterior pieces, it was really easy to press the pleats into place, too.

Seriously – this is such a great, useful little pattern – it’s a quick add-on to make a matching clutch to go with a dress or jacket for a special occasion, and it hardly takes up any fabric at all so you can probably just cut it from scraps leftover from the main garment, too.

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Comment [4]

The VNA Top pattern - on sale now!

16 June 2014, 12:24

It’s here, it’s finally here! The VNA Top pattern is my 4th sewing pattern and my first that works for exercisewear and casualwear!

This is a pattern for a close-fitting, sleeveless workout top inspired by a 1930s Vionnet evening gown. It features a front V-neck, curved under bust seam, and distinctive angular seaming in back. Neckline and armhole edges are finished with binding, and there are no side seams.

Get it? “VNA” because if you say it fast it sounds like “Vionnet”…

It’s got everything you’ve come to expect and love about my patterns – fully illustrated instructions, seam allowances included, great finishing techniques, and the knowledge that I’ve road tested it thoroughly on my runs! But – because the seaming is so unorthodox on this, I’ve also included some diagrams showing how to make the most common fit alterations. So if you need an FBA or want roomier hips or longer torso length, you won’t have to scratch your head over how to achieve this.

Huge thanks again to my team of super helpful, fit, and careful pattern testers, who’ve also been taking this out on the road and on the town, making me laugh, and finding all my typos and brain farts so that you don’t have to. I’ll be sharing some of their versions as they choose to post them, and you can see how this pattern works in pretty much every colourblocking combination possible!

Also, to celebrate the new pattern (and my new amazing vision thanks to laser eye surgery last weekend!), I’ve created the coupon code “LASEREYES” which will get you 10% off all my patterns from now through the end of June.

Watcha waiting for – go get it!!

$10.99USD (£6.65)

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Comment [4]

Coming soon: the VNA Top pattern!

11 June 2014, 12:46

I’m very pleased to report that my next sewing pattern will be ready for sale within the next week! I literally only have the final photoshoots to do (lined up for tomorrow evening), and the Copy Shop versions to tweak and that’s it!

Many of you will be pleased to hear that it’s another top pattern, and this one works for exercise or casualwear! It’s called the “VNA Top” because it’s inspired by a Vionnet evening gown (say “VNA” fast and it sounds like… yup!).

My official description:
This is a pattern for a close-fitting, sleeveless workout top inspired by a 1930s Vionnet evening gown. It features a front V-neck, curved under bust seam, and distinctive angular seaming in back. Neckline and armhole edges are finished with binding, and there are no side seams.

It’s the same size chart as my previous patterns, but I recommend you go up one size if you’re sewing this for casualwear, as my excerise draft has negative ease, and you’ll probably want it to fit a bit looser as a teeshirt!

Again, I’ve got fully illustrated instructions but as a new addition, I’ve also included diagrams for some common fit alterations since the seam lines are so unorthodox.

So stay tuned for the full release very soon!

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A green cropped blazer

9 June 2014, 12:40

I’ve got a wedding rapidly approaching, and for once in my life, I actually bought a dress instead of sewing it (ok, technically James bought it for me when we were in France!). But I couldn’t let this occasion go by without sewing something so I decided I wanted a little cropped jacket to go along with it. Luckily there are a lot of colours in the dress to pick out, and a good friend gifted me this green, ex-Karen Millen piqué specifically for this purpose!

I sifted through my pattern magazine archive (made easier since I’ve got each issue overview online) and decided on a sharp little cropped blazer pattern from the September 2013 Manequim magazine (curiously I’d overlooked it when I reviewed the issue!).

I love that this jacket is short in the body so it won’t interrupt the full skirt on my dress, has got 3/4 length sleeves which are so nice for summer evenings, and best of all – a shawl collar with little tuxedo styling at the bottom. There’s no front closure, either, so it’s a nice one to just slip on over the dress and not have it look like it should be buttoned or something.

Many of you ask how I deal with Manequim patterns that aren’t in my size – the short answer is, I don’t. I’ve got so freaking many issues and patterns to choose from that most of the ones I want to sew either either in a 44 or 42 (this one’s a 44), or if they are significantly smaller, I just graft the interesting features onto an existing base pattern that fits me.

The first thing that struck me about this pattern as I traced it is how beautifully drafted this is. Holy cow. Not only does it have a two part sleeve, but they actually indicate you cut the sleeve lining about 0.5cm larger than the fashion fabric. This totally makes sense, but I’ve never seen it on a pattern before!

(Yes, those are the pattern sheets above it! This is how I trace patterns.)

The pattern also has you cut the lining hem significantly shorter than the fashion fabric, which gives a really nice, deep hem facing without any fuss whatsoever. Usually I have a bit of lining bubbling visible at the hem I have to take up later, but not this time! Another great feature is on the centre back seam of the lining – I always do a box pleat here for shoulder room, but I usually add it on the full length of the jacket or coat. Manequim curve this extension down to nothing at the hem, so the extra lining ease just fades away. Such a nice touch!

The construction of the jacket was pretty uneventful – once you’ve made a few, you don’t even bother with instructions anymore even if they are in a language you understand. Since the piqué was quite thick and a bit prone to fraying, I reinforced the inset corners of the shawl collar with some interfacing, and I also tacked the seam allowances in place where necessary. One thing that really bugs me in jackets and coats are lumpy sleeve seams, so even if I catchstitch nothing else, I tack those suckers down!

Whenever I see “ease” instructions on a pattern’s sleeve cap, alarm bells go off in my head. Unless it’s a jacket or coat, there should be zero ease in a sleeve cap (seriously, go read this if you haven’t before). Personally, in a jacket or coat, I’ll accept up to an inch – beyond that and I start hacking away at the sleeve cap to bring it down into line. So when I saw the ease marks here, I got the heebie-jeebies, and brought out my pizza wheel measurer… …and bless Manequim, because there’s a whole 1 centimeter of sleeve cap ease! I could’ve hugged them. It still required 30-ish pins in each sleeve to ease that centimeter in, however!

I still vastly prefer this method over ease stitching as it sews in without puckers, the first time every time. Which saves you any unpicking and resewing time. Give pin easing a try if you haven’t already!

When I went to sew the jacket shell to the facing/lining, I thought about the turn of cloth and that the front facing would be the exposed portion, and so when I sewed along the collar edges, I used a slightly greater seam allowance on the exterior side (so the finished portion would be shorter and underneath). This means the seamline rolls underneath the lapel edge, and you can’t see it as it’s worn. I’m rather proud of myself for remembering to do this!

I did make a quick muslin before sewing this, and the only fitting change I made in the final version was to bring in the Centre Back seam by an inch or two at the waist, tapering to nothing midway up the back. As drafted it just felt a little too boxy (there’s no back darts, afterall), and this little change made a big difference in my opinion.

Let’s talk about the lining – even though I’m pairing this jacket with a busy-printed dress, I knew I wanted quite a wild, lush lining. I was already placing an order at Truro Fabrics for a client, so I bought some of this Peacock feather matte satin. Oh my gorgeous, it’s such a lush fabric! It frays like crazy and it’s the only woven I’ve ever seen that curls, but I’m thoroughly smitten with my choice here. If you like the look of it, it’s well worth the price and would make an especially nice blouse.

Since the exterior of the jacket doesn’t have pockets (let’s be fair – it’d interrupt the clean lines!), I decided to add a little buttoned welt pocket into the lining instead. It was really tricky to achieve with this slippery, lightweight silk, but I managed a fairly decent pocket in the end (just don’t look too closely at the welts on the left there).

I’ll try and get some photos taken at the wedding itself so you can see this jacket paired with the dress as intended, but I thought a few casual photos in advance would be a nice touch (and before all the construction details fly out of my mind!)

I’ve also cut out a Cake Patterns Red Velvet Clutch in matching green piqué and peacock lining, which I think should tie everything together nicely. I made the free, mini version of this pattern a few months ago for gifts and I loved the pattern, but I wanted a bigger one to hold more than just a phone and lippy for the day. I’ve got some other things to sew for the wedding before I can get to the clutch tough, so it might be sewn the night before!

UPDATE: See photos of the finished clutch and me wearing the jacket with the dress at the wedding in this post here!

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In progress reports

5 June 2014, 09:58

I’ve been feverishly working behind the scenes here at FehrTrade Towers (or maybe that should be HMS FehrTrade?), but an awful lot of that isn’t quite ready to be fully shared yet…

Next Pattern samples

Case in point – the samples I’ve been making for my next FehrTrade pattern! Loads of you have been asking when this will be ready, and the answer is, well, it should be up for sale within the next two weeks. This pattern is for a top that can work for workout wear or casualwear, so it means I’ve been sewing even more samples than usual to show off both sides of it. I’m not yet ready to reveal the tech drawing, but you can see how colourful my samples have been so far!

I’m pretty sure the teal-y one in the upper right might be my favourite top EVAR

Anyway, I really do hate to be a tease, but I hate it even more when I see something I really want to buy then have to wait ages (by which point the excitement has worn off), so I’m trying to hold back until I have an exact release date for you guys. The wonderful thing about digital patterns is that I don’t have to wait for any printers to release it!

Workout Inspiration

Speaking of FehrTrade patterns, have you all seen the XYT Workout Top hack Rebecca did for Sew Indie Month? Those of you who prefer a more loose-fitting workout top might be particularly interested in her changes, just saying…

And if you’re looking for inspiration to get more bang for your XYT Workout Top buck, then you may want to consider using this Athleta/Gap “Zahara Tankini” as inspiration – it’s a dead-ringer for the T-Back version!

(Thank you to whomever sent this to me, I’m so sorry but I’ve lost the email!)

Manequim cropped blazer

I’ve got a wedding coming up and, despite actually buying a dress (I know!), I wanted a cropped jacket to go with it. So I quickly made this Manequim cropped jacket in a green piqué and I adore it!

This is totally done, and just waiting for a photoshoot, which may or may not come before the wedding itself…

Also for the same wedding, I’ve got a commission from a client to make a very cool design of a silk shirt, which has really been testing my spatial ability (I’ve brought out my old paper model trick!) to draft the pattern, but it’s really fun. Fingers crossed I can meet the wedding deadline!

New video class

I’ve so far resisted the draw of Craftsy video classes (mostly because I have a very short attention span for YouTube videos, and I’m not sure I’d enjoy the format), but I received a very kind offer from Susan Khalje to try out her new Cocktail Dress video class for free (possibly because I took her Couture Hand Stitches class on PR a while back?).

I have huge respect for Susan, and even moreso now that she’s developed her own format for classes away from any other company structure. She’s got a big enough name in the sewing community to hopefully be able to do this on her own, and I really want to support this sort of independent venture.

Excitingly, the class comes with her own dress pattern, too! I may be wrong, but I think this marks the first time she’s ever released her own patterns, which is quite exciting on its own, even. So I received the tissue pattern in the post, and I’m going to try and watch the videos in this “spare time” I’ve heard so much about, and have this dress as a sideline to my other projects. And it’s not just because I’ve been wanting an excuse to buy the Minerva “skull lace” ever since they added it to the shop. Oh no.

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Two tiny baby jackets

3 June 2014, 16:51

My go-to baby present for many years has been a changing mat – hand towel on one side, fabric and pockets on the other, and it all folds up nicely and fastens with ribbon. I still enjoy making these (and I get great big thumbs up from the parents!), but I wanted to make something different this time around, and I had two lots of Spoonflower organic cotton jerseys I fancied using.

I actually made these way back in early April, but since they were both gifts, I needed to wait until both sets of parents received them before I could share them with you. But since I made them so long ago, the details are a little hazy in my mind, so apologies for anyone looking for a particularly useful pattern review here!

I sifted through my digital pattern archive and selected #145 from the March 2011 Burda magazine (it’s not on the US Burda site so you’ll have to refer to the Russian archive). I liked the versatility of the design, that it looked quite handy to wrap a baby up in, but that it was also easy to sew and could fit into the two fat quarters I had of each of the fabrics.

For our local friends’s newborn baby girl, I selected the meat fabric and used the 3 months size. I knew the parents would laugh their heads off and be happy that it wasn’t predominantly pink, too. I didn’t actually get to see the baby wearing it since she was asleep at the time, but I’m just going to assume she’ll grow into it!

The circuitry jacket is for one of my best friend’s baby, who has shamefully lived the first 6 months of her life without a sewn gift from me (I know!!), so to make up for it, I made the 12 month size, hoping that she’ll grow into it right around Fall when it starts to cool off again. I have indeed seen photos of her wearing it, and I can attest that a) it is rather big on her but b) she’s beaming her little face off she’s so happy to be dressed like a 1337 h8×0r!

One main change I made to both patterns here is that I made them in jerseys instead of the wovens intended in the directions, and I used FOE to bind the neckline edges instead of binding fabric. The pattern also indicates extending the binding to use as ties, whereas I just inserted press snaps on the outer and inner edges to keep things closed. Much neater, and these should stand up to repeated hot water washings much better, too!

Anyone else got a good go-to baby present they sew up for new arrivals?

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Manequim magazine May 2014

30 May 2014, 12:55

It is an excellent time to be a pattern magazine subscriber, and I think this week’s posts on the June Burda, April Manequim, and now this May issue are a great illustration on the variety and fashion forward elements that just aren’t being seen in the Big Four right now.

The other two issues this week have been fantastic, but this May issue may just top them all… I don’t think I’ve ever scanned so many pages from one magazine before!

First up are the Plus offerings for this issue – three different dresses all with illusion-type colourblocking made popular by Stella McCartney recently.

As you may have guessed from the cover, there are maternity patterns included this month for the first time that I’ve ever seen! The cover blouse is the nicest IMHO, but there’s also patterns for a skirt, trousers, and a caftan-like dress, too.

The designer style patterns this month use Jason Wu as their inspiration and we get a really intricate jacket with wide lapels but loads of the sleeve details are just swallowed by the floral print. There’s also a cutaway shoulder blouse with a wide hem in multiple sizes, and also a dress with some stunning lace appliques. It might be difficult to source a similar lace, but the dress pattern is offered in a whopping 6 sizes, so it’s a great pattern to have as a jersey base for comparing against & modifying to become other styles not in your size.

I stopped buying Patrones magazine a while back as I only ever really liked the winter issues anyway, and I was getting a bit bored of their styles. But to me, Patrones really made the best coat patterns ever. Let me tell you, this coat feature here is enough to make me burn all my back issues of Patrones and sew all of these instead.

Take this pink coat for starters – immaculate clean lines – the princess seam goes straight into that angle to form the pocket. The raglan seams draw the eye to the face, and there’s no collar in the way to distract from the simplicity. YES.

This pattern appears to have everything I’d ever want from a motorcycle jacket, and sewn in coating rather than leather. Again, the attention to detail here is great – I only wish I could see more clearly what’s going on with that right side (as worn) pocket…

Again with the crazy amount of details and fabric mixing – is it a trench coat? Is it a biker jacket? It’s apparently made with faux leather, coating, and a polyester (presumably the fabric with the holes) and you know how much I love to mix different textures in the same colour!

And lastly in the coat feature, I adore this colourblock coat with the stripe running through just above the waist. Very striking but very classic at the same time.

Now some of my long-time readers may recall that in the very first issue of Manequim I ever had there was a feature on chic uses for sweatshirt and I squealed with delight. OMG IT’S ANOTHER CHIC SWEATSHIRTING FEATURE. And this time it’s even better. I had to restrain myself to even leave one pattern out of my picks.

This dress! You could totally leave the lower sleeves off and it’d work well with cap sleeves, too!

This one has similar seaming by the shoulders but they’ve used leather and cutout fabrics to make it even more interesting (if not warm!).

I didn’t think it was actually possible, but these sweatpants actually look nice. Not only would I make these, I’d be caught dead in them, too!

This dress, for me, is the pinnacle of this feature and entire issue. The seaming, the colourblocking, the crazy hem, I adore this entire package! I would get down on one knee to this dress. You will be mine.

And last but not least in the sweatshirting feature is this basic tee, offered again in a whopping six sizes. James actually has a shirt almost exactly like this that he wears all the time – a boxy tee made from alternating sides of grey marl sweatshirts, left to curl at the edges. I could make this and we’d match! ha!

I nearly needed a cool drink and a lie down after that feature, but then I turned the page and saw this mini dress made from map fabric, which reminded me of the map skirt Sinbad & Sailor made!

And in case you were disappointed the paneled dresses at the beginning were all for Plus sizes, Manequim went and threw in an illusion knit dress just for you (or, err, me) in size 44!

So, was I right, or was I right – is this issue not amazing?!

(And yes, I see there’s some up on eBay right now…)

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