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Surf to Summit Top Pattern - Out now!

Designer colourblocking inspiration

2 December 2014, 15:00

My next pattern is off with the pattern testers right now and I’m frantically sewing up final samples for photoshoots, filling in missing illustrations, and responding to comments as they come in, but I’ve managed to occupy my brain with the thought of things I might sew for fun next!

I did indeed wear my traced-from-RTW mustard yellow sheath dress to Number 10 Downing Street last week, and even managed to get some photos with the famous door(!) afterwards, but you’ll have to wait for those until the proper photoshoot is done showing the rest of the dress details in some decent lighting.

But I can say already that I love the dress! It needs some slight tweaking to the shoulder area, but apart from that, my tracing was spot-on, and I’m so chuffed it turned out so well without a muslin.

The crazy seaming really started getting my brain thinking about all the ways it could be colourblocked, though, and I looked up and suddenly found inspiration from a magazine photo I’d cut out years ago and had hanging on my sewing cave wall!

So I rummaged through my ponte scraps and realised that I had the most perfect shade of teal viscose ponte leftover from a client commission, and together with the leftover mustard scraps (and some newly-bought white ponte), I could make my very own Chalayan-inspired sheath dress!

I whipped up a tech drawing in Illustrator so I could play with the different colourblocking combinations, and I’m not sure which I should go for.

I’ve only got 1.2m of the teal and even less of the mustard, but I could buy whatever white I need to make up the rest. I think I have enough to make any of these combos, but I will of course double-check with my pieces before I order the white.

I also finally sewed up a muslin of this short coat from the Sept 2010 Burda (also known as one of my favourite issues Of. All. Time.):

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Honing in on a jeans pattern

16 July 2013, 14:45

Even though I finally finished my pink trousers and lace teeshirt I mentioned last week, it’s been so hot and sweaty that I haven’t quite managed to do a photoshoot for them yet. Everything’s written so as soon as I do, you’ll get to see how great they are, honest!

I also managed to cut out a Kwik Sew exercise top, but not start sewing it yet, but what I really wanted to talk about today is the ongoing process in deciding which jeans pattern to use as a match for some heavyweight, non-stretch denim in my stash. So when I say that I’m “always thinking two projects ahead”, you now know it’s the truth!

If you remember back to my Spring Sewing Ideas, I had two different KnipMode jeans patterns that I thought I might use:

However, I found out soon after that the 2012 KnipMode one was for stretch wovens, which dis-counted it for this particular bout of jeans sewing.

The 2005 one looked very promising, but when I made a muslin of it the look was not good – ill-fitting in the waist and hips and way too wide in the legs. I’m sure I could fix it with plenty of time and patience, but with such an enormous pattern stash it just wasn’t worth pursuing further!

So I went back to the drawing board, otherwise known as my online pattern catalogue, and had a look through all the magazine issues I’d tagged “jeans”. This was a lot! So as I flipped through, I took screenshot segments of the ones I liked the look of, and renamed these files with the brand and pattern number, and shoved them in a special folder.

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Holiday sewing update

28 December 2012, 15:51

Some (rather racy) panties


Remember how I had flu for 3 weeks earlier this month? Well lucky freakin me, because I got ill again on the first day of my holidays. I’ve essentially felt like crap since two days before Thanksgiving, arrrrgh. So on Christmas Day, I did a little bit of comfort sewing, in the form of some crazy, racy, leopard print and black lace panties.

Avert your eyes now if you’re of a gentle disposition!

I’d never buy leopard print of my own free will, but I’d bought a lingerie grab bag for a pound a while back, and this came from there, and I added some scrap black stretch lace to the sides. Nobody need know what my tastefully dressed exterior conceals…

Burda December cover dress muslin


The big project I wanted to tackle over the holidays is the Burda December cover dress (Burda Dec 2012 #112).

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Burda Classics magazine FW 2012 (& MyImage sale!)

3 October 2012, 11:13

We’ve been away in France last week and I’ve picked up a few souvenirs, including a stonking awful cold, which is unfortunately delaying my resumption of normal life and blog activity. So just rest assured there will be much to talk about as soon as my brain is functioning again. Until then, please accept my apologies for anything that doesn’t make sense here!

So, what is this “Burda Classics”, I hear you ask? Well, it’s part of a new series of Burda pattern magazines, set to run alongside the existing monthly issues. It’s available in English & French only, and produced by Burda France as a test run. Apparently there’s going to be 8 “special” issues per year, two of them Classics, two Plus, and the other four are anyone’s guess!

I bought my Classics mag last weekend at Eurotunnel Calais on our drive back – the one and only copy, bwahaha!

Two of these patterns are definitely reprints of earlier patterns (see below), but some may be new, I’m not sure. As you’ll see, there are lots of jackets, which aren’t exactly staples in my own wardrobe!. Sizes range from 32-50 but the bulk of the patterns are 34-44 or 46. The instructions and patterns sheets appear to be similar to those in the regular magazines, though as I have the French version, I can’t vouch for whether the English instructions make any more sense than the usual “Burda WTF” coming from Burda Germany’s head office!

Here’s my favourite pattern of this issue, a great little sheath dress for wovens or stable jerseys, in three hem lengths and three sleeve lengths:

A “Chanel” suit (albeit with a 2 piece sleeve). I intended to place a little rant here about how any chanel-type suit has the magical properties of making its wearer look at least twenty years older, but seeing as how this model looks to be about 60, that actually doubles my earlier estimate. Want to look old and frumpy? Wear a boxy boucle jacket and matching matronly skirt!


(Ok, this is probably a cranky side effect of my cold, as it’s not this pattern’s fault, it’s the “style” I take offense with!)

Omg, it’s the knit wrap dress I made back in 2007! This is a great pattern, appearing first in the May 2006 issue of Burda magazine, and then appearing again as envelope pattern Burda 7953.

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How to line the Burda peplum top

3 September 2012, 15:53

Peplums are a major AW12 trend and one that’s well within reach of most home sewists and high street shoppers. There are plenty of patterns out there, but one of the nicest I’ve seen so far is the cover design from the August 2012 Burda magazine, which is also available to purchase as a pdf download here (and you can look at the full instructions and layout diagrams on that site for free).

A lot of peplum dresses just feature a ring of excess fabric around the hips, but here, the curved waist seam plus the sloped hemline and bias-cut peplum on this particular pattern really sets it above the rest. I also like that it’s separates, so I can pair my top with a skirt, slim trousers, or leggings and get much more wear from it than just a single dress.

One thing I don’t love about this pattern, though, is that it’s unlined. Or rather, it has lined cap sleeves, a narrow bias edge on the underarms and a neck facing, but nothing further. It’s pretty straightforward to make lining pattern pieces from the shell and facings (see below), but the construction was more challenging to figure out. It is possible to do a nice clean finish almost entirely by machine (you still have to sew the hems by hand), but you have to do a bit of clever reordering of the construction…

Luckily for you, I made notes as I sewed so I can share my clever order of construction with you!

As mentioned above, you’ll need to modify your bodice pattern pieces after you’ve cut out your shell fabric. Place the neck facings on top of the bodice pieces (annoyingly, in this case they must be face-down so the shoulder seams and CB/CF edges line up), trace the neck facings onto your front & back bodice pieces and then cut these off before cutting your lining pieces. Remember to add seam allowances to these new cut edges, too!

Be sure to interface the facing pieces, then attach them to the lining pieces and treat as one for the rest of the construction.

Instructions for a clean-finish lining!



  1. Sew all darts, attach peplum pieces to bodice on the shell, and sew at shoulders (but keep it open at side seams and centre back!), ie: the follow the first few steps of Burda’s instructions, but stop before the zipper insertion!

  2. Do the same for the lining

  3. Sew the sleeve shell pieces & sleeve lining pieces together at the bottom edge of the sleeve. Understitch, then baste around the other (armscyce) edge

  4. Baste the sleeve onto the shell with right sides together (beware of excess ease!! Don’t skip this basting step!)
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    Happy 2011!

    1 January 2011, 00:15

    My favourites of 2010:

    Standout moments in sewing land:

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    Honeymoon Lingerie - nightgown muslin

    10 August 2010, 14:10

    True confessions – I took a brief break from the wedding gown. I don’t deal well with long projects and I was getting really itchy to complete something (I didn’t have any completed projects in July because of the gown, aaaaagghh!).

    So I took one evening out to do a test run of one of the patterns I’d earmarked for honeymoon lingerie and Shasha’s Malaysian silks, Burda 7418 (on the right in my earlier image below):

    This is a brand-new Burda envelope pattern, but I just went and bought the pdf version instead because a) I’m impatient, b) the pdf patterns are way cheaper than the paper versions (we have a laser printer and printer paper is cheap!), c) piecing together pdf patterns takes only 5 minutes longer than tracing a paper pattern and I can do it sitting down, and d) no seam allowances, woooooooop!

    This was my first downloadable pattern from the German Burda site, and I was pleased to find that the instructions were in nine languages, with fully illustrated instructions. I was expecting it to just be in German! But do pay attention to the print preview, though, because you may not need to print the last ten pages or so (the English instructions only take up a few pages). The only weird thing is that they decided to waste some paper giving us two side panel pattern pieces (one to be cut in lace and the other in self-fabric) and the two pieces are absolutely identical. Weird.

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    Black microfleece three ways

    29 January 2009, 15:21

    I had a few metres of black microfleece leftover from interlining my winter coat and I thought I’d put it to good use since it takes up so much room in my limited stash (and as you read yesterday, I have lots of new fabrics coming in!)

    So to start off, I made yet another of my favourite BWOF sweatshirt, which I’ve already made before in red velour and also in blue fleece (twice, actualy, as I made one for a neighbour, too).

    (My neighbour Lucie was hosting our mooring’s craft night so I thought we’d do a photoshoot in a finished boat for a change!)

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    Patterns To Trace

    16 January 2009, 11:18

    Recently I’ve been doing more batch tracing rather than tracing one pattern, sewing it up, then tracing the next. I find my sewing bottleneck is often in the tracing step (even though it doesn’t take much time), so by doing a bunch at once I can always have something on the go to work on in the mornings and evenings.

    I’ve been mentally matching up my patterns to fabrics in my stash and tracing an awful lot the last few nights. Here’s what I’ve got coming up in the next few weeks, though you can see my plans have had to change somewhat to focus more on comfortable knits…

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    Reprinted Burda patterns

    15 December 2008, 12:37

    I’m a huge fan of Burda World of Fashion magazine (BWOF) (elsewhere in the world known as Burdamode), but because the patterns are only available for one month only, sometimes it’s frustrating to miss a really good pattern when you seen it sewn up months later. I’m guilty of that myself, but Burda thankfully choose a few patterns each year from all the hundreds (if not thousands?) published in the magazine to reprint and repackage as Burda envelope patterns.

    Burda envelope patterns have the same drafted patterns as appeared in the magazine, but they include seam allowances and have much better sewing instructions, with helpful diagrams and tips. The good thing is, these stick around for much, much longer than just one month, and are sometimes easier for people to buy in stores than the magazines.

    So in the interests of friendly copycats inspiration I thought I’d fill you in on some of the garments myself and others have made from BWOF that are now more widely available in case you missed that magazine issue…


    My tweed kick skirt is now Burda 7895


    My tuxedo inspired suit is now Burda 7762

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    Purple wool sweater

    12 November 2008, 11:08

    It’s definitely the chilly season here again, and since I’ve had the pattern and material for a few weeks and I hit a lull in my Christmas sewing (I’d finished everything I could and I’m waiting on patterns and fabric for the last gift!) it seemed the perfect time to make Burda 7724. I used the purple and black flecked wool sweater knit I bought for £7.50 from A to Z Fabrics on Goldhawk Road here in London (and I’ve got a little left for mittens and a hat!). It’s just so warm and comfortable that I (shh!) wore it three days straight after I made it!

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    Silver linen shift dress

    13 August 2008, 16:26

    This dress has been fully formed in my mind ever since February, when I bought Burda 7783 and this beautiful linen/lurex blend at Hickeys in Dublin. Luckily, they print the fabric content and washing instructions right on the receipts, so I can tell you with some degree of accuracy that this dress is 53% linen, 44% rayon, and 3% lurex. As far as I’m concerned, this fabric is 100% gorgeous – it’s got a subtle bit of shine under bright lights that really makes it special.

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    Party Princess

    12 October 2006, 16:02

    Why is it that we have to stop playing dress-up once we reach a certain age? Sometimes it’s good to have a special dress that makes you feel like the prettiest girl in the room, the one all eyes are on — like a princess, really.

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