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Burda magazine December 2014

27 November 2014, 12:29

It’s the last issue of the year, boo hoo! Oftentimes Burda have some easier projects (including menswear) you can make for gifts in their December issues, but this one’s just for ladies and girls. I initially wasn’t that impressed with this collection, but the more I looked through it, the more I found myself drawn to a few…

I’ve often admired the sequin tops other sewists have made, but I’ve never quite gone as far as to buy some sequin fabric for myself. This boxy jacket might change that, however!

This dress is the Tall offering this month, and even though the shorter, peplum top versions works fairly well, I pulled this out because the simple act of adding a straight skirt onto the curved seam means the model looks absolutely pregnant. Not really a look anyone wants, and it seems like a good idea drafting-wise. But in practice? No!

I’m really not a fan of the dress (square neckline, yes, but the puffy sleeves and awkward pleat at empire waist? Urgh.), but I love the little girl’s coat! Like the trench cape a few issues ago, I’d totally make this if it were in adult sizes!

This little boxy jacket for girls feels like the sister to the ladies’ sequin jacket above. They’re both for special fabrics and have a similar fit and seam lines, without feeling too “mini me”.

I utterly love the asymmetric collar on this coat, plus the off-centre closure, and (though it’s hard to tell in the garment photos) the hidden pleating just above the pockets would really give this some wonderful shaping. They’ve gone one step further and appliqued fancy lace over a portion of the wool coating, which I just love. Two thumbs up for this one, Burda!

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Digital-print Cowl neck top

31 October 2014, 12:42

Every now and then, I feel like I really crack a garment – I end up with something that truly blends the most perfect fabric with the perfect pattern. I wasn’t entirely sure until I wore it for a day, but this top really nailed it! It feels 100% designer, special, and yet me at the same time.

The cowl-neck tee pattern is from the October 2014 issue of Burda magazine or available to buy individually as a pdf, and it came in three versions – a plain top (which is the one I made) – a tee sliced into various colourblocks, or a plain dress.

But this garment is really all about the fabric, and the pattern itself plays a supporting role. In fact, most of the time, care, and attention to the entire process was in placing the pattern pieces! Look what I had to start with:

I bought this digital print lycra from Ditto Fabrics when I was down in Brighton this summer (an Italian designer offcut that I snagged for £15!). Originally I thought I’d have the main body in the trompe l’oiel knitted houndstooth as that was what drew me to the fabric, but the houndstooth portion wasn’t quite long enough for the front and back, so I placed those over the “lace” portions and cut the sleeves from the houndstooth instead.


Worn with my Colette Beignet skirt I made back in 2010 that’s sadly, a bit too big for me now (it’s really relying on cinching that belt!

I used a size 40 for the first time here, which is my “new” Burda size since I’ve lost a few cm through training, and the fit is just as I’d like it, really. I loooooove the slim fit sleeves in particular on this pattern. They’re extra long here, too – it’s noted in the instructions are that the sleeves are 10cm longer than normal. I wasn’t sure if I’d keep them extra long or not, but as I was laying out the sleeves, I saw that the piece overlapped into the lace print area nicely, creating a sort of cuff-effect at the sleeve that I really liked the look of:

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Burda magazine November 2014

30 October 2014, 14:57

I received this issue a good week ago, but I hadn’t been overly enthusiastic about this one, even though there are a lot of interesting designs going on. There are noticeably fewer patterns included this time, too, which seems to be related to there being some huge gown patterns which take up more space than usual on the pattern sheets.

So if you’ve got a formal occasion coming up over the holidays, you’re about to become very excited, but there’s plenty of casualwear included too…

There are some great separates in this issue, but I personally don’t rate either of these! The top is made for lightweight wovens, but that hem is just far too wide, in my opinion, and really gives the sort of “is she pregnant?” look even when teamed with slim trousers (not to mention that deep neck pleat which will look terrible on large busts!). In this case, they’ve teamed it appropriately with leggings, but delving a little deeper into the pattern, these leggings have: a) interfaced waist facings, and b) an invisible side zipper. On a knit. Errr. The pattern itself looks fine, just not the finishing!!

So are these cigarette trousers any better then? Well, I personally think the inset leather pieces would be more flattering slightly curved rather than straight, but that’s just drafting preference. The zipper on the side though – if you read the instructions, you do 80% of the work of creating a zippered welt pocket, only to seal it up with a facing to make it utterly useless! Otherwise, it looks like a decent pattern for stretch wovens, with a back yoke and nice front pockets.

I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of this knit top across the sewing world in the next few months! It’s what Burda does best – a great knit top with interesting details and great fit that can be made up in a thousand different fabrics.

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Burda Easy magazine Fall/Winter 2014

6 October 2014, 13:24

While we were off holidaying through Bohemia, I didn’t really get a chance to do much fabric or haberdashery shopping. There are tons of fabric shops all over Budapest, but we were definitely more concerned with the street food and thermal baths while we were there. In Vienna I really meant to stop in at Komolka and Stoff und Faden (thanks, Shannon!), but we were short on time and all I could manage was a peek through the windows of the latter while they were having a class at night. I didn’t see anything sewing-related in Prague, but I spotted a few fabric shops in Berlin along the marathon route (sadly, not really the time to be stopping to shop!), so my lone sewing souvenir this time around was a copy of the latest Burda Easy magazine, which I was happy to pick up!

If you’re not familiar with Burda Easy, it’s published twice a year in several languages (German, French, English, Italian, and Russian, I believe?), and has fully illustrated instructions. Sometimes the designs are simpler, but in this issue they’re happily on the more advanced/interesting side and not too difference from what’s in the monthly magazine. The patterns come on tissue and are printed in such a way that they don’t overlap each other so you could cut the out rather than trace if you’re that way inclined. They don’t contain seam allowances, which is the norm everywhere except the US.

The last time I bought an issue was two years ago when we were in France but I think I prefer the designs in this one even to that. Burda Easy really only provide four base patterns, then spin a huge amount of variations off of those, so you can get a pretty wide variety of looks (also helpful if you need to do things like an FBA, you only need to do them once!).

First up – I’ve cooled off the peplum look rather a lot by now, but I really like the paneled pencil skirt (either with the asymmetric godet or not).

I thought this foldover clutch with the bow detail was really cute – it’s explained in a series of colour photos on the facing page, and it’s only rectangles so doesn’t require any tracing, either.

Here’s another variation on the seamed pencil skirt, but this time it’s shorter and with more godets inserted to give it more of a skater skirt shape. I also like the look of the colourblocked tee, but not being a sweetheart neckline kind of woman, I’d personally smooth out the point so it’s just a curve over the bust.

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Burda magazine October 2014

3 October 2014, 12:33

I received my subscription copy of this magazine the day before we left for our Bohemia trip, but by that point I’d already written a full week’s worth of posts (I hope you enjoyed all those book reviews!), and didn’t have any time to spare to scan this until after we came home.

I haven’t seen much about this issue online yet, but after two mediocre Fall issues, this is the Fall fashion issue I’ve been waiting for!

I usually shy away from “nautical styles” since it can be a bit cliché to live on a boat and dress like a sailor, so I was surprised that I really liked a lot of the styles in this feature, including the His’n‘Hers pea coats.

It’s hard to beat a good long sleeved cowl neck tee as far as I’m concerned (they’re pretty much my uniform in the colder months) and I really like that this version has a crossover at the shoulder which brings the cowl a bit higher. This should prevent any “leaning over gaping” issues that some cowl tops have, but there’s only one way to find out! (There’s also an un-pieced version of this same tee)

Now, I thought the trousers pictured with the stripey tee above looked nice enough, especially since they have an interesting back view, but then I saw this note in the instructions! What?? That sounds like a problem, not a feature! I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons I sew is to avoid RTW fitting issues like trousers falling down as I wear them…

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Burda magazine September 2014

22 August 2014, 11:44
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Burda magazine August 2014

25 July 2014, 16:12

Many thanks for your get well soon messages – I think it definitely worked, because no sooner did I post that than I started to feel a little better! I’m still not back to 100% right now, but I felt well enough to try a very easy and short run this morning, so thank you!

To show my thanks, I’m going to share my picks from the latest Burda magazine, which arrived this week. Usually the August issue is the start of the Fall fashions, but this seems more like a transitional issue – lots of summer wear but some great long-sleeved pieces, too.

First up from the “macaron pastels” feature is omg I must make this pieced sheath dress! Burda clearly love it, too, since they made it three times in this issue. My only letdown is that the back is very boring indeed, so if when I make this, I’ll be slicing up the back and adding similar diagonal seams like I did with my swirled sheath dress (still one of my favourites ever, I might add!).

The dress on the left really reminded me of the RTW dress I wore to a wedding recently – though you didn’t see the back, it too had a lower back cutout! I also rather like the pleated teeshirt on the right. It also comes in a solid-sleeve version and the pleating detail reminds me a lot of the pleats on the neckline of my favourite Manequim silk blouse pattern.

Now, I really hated the shiny, glittery, tacky disco fabrics they used in this feature with the “DJane” (a term which I’ve never, ever heard before. Nor had any of my music-industry friends – though urban dictionary has some feelings on it!). But, if you look beyond the gold lamé here this surplice-neck top has a lot of great design lines, and I love the idea of a pleated band, too.

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A basic black Burda tank

10 July 2014, 12:33

It’s typical that I end up making the most boring, basic pattern out of the crazy-amazing June issue of Burda magazine! But I’d traced this out as soon as the magazine arrived, and I was in desperate need of a quick “me project” after a very busy week of work sewing. So I sat down on Sunday morning after breakfast, and had this finished before we left for a BBQ at lunchtime! I literally couldn’t have gone to the shops and back in that time…

This really is just a basic, jersy tank/vest with a racerback as its only detail, so I paired it with some “problem fabric” I had in my stash – I bought this from Minerva at the end of last summer and it wasn’t really what I was expecting. It’s a thin, black viscose jersey with but lines of dense stitching which make the fabric in between the lines sort of gather and pucker. Cool to wear, but a total arse to cut out as it moves all over! It was also fairly linty, so I’m glad to be able to wear it instead of sewing it!


(Seen here paired with my pre-Mexico neopreney leggings and shot on location at a friend’s back garden, BBQ just out of shot!)

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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?

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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!

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Burda magazine June 2014

28 May 2014, 12:34

I don’t know what’s in the water over at Burda HQ, but they are seriously on a roll right now – it’s been an amazing few months of consistently great issues, but seriously, this issue takes the cake! I’m usually not a fan of the summer issues, but there are just so many fantastic designs I want to make in this one that I found myself scanning nearly every page!

So settle on in, this is a long’un…

A few years ago I would’ve been all “oh, a feature on shorts? Yawn, flip through…” but upping my running game (plus having an actually hot summer last year) has made me appreciate shorts a lot more! Burda gets several brownie points for this pair because a) they’re sporty, b) they’re a great length, c) pockets! and d) they used a non-white model. Big applause all around.

Now, this is the exact same pair of shorts as above, but with curved seams for colourblocking. If it were me, I’d have put the dark portion at the crotch rather than the reverse, as this is a good trick I learned from a cyclist for disguising saddle sweat marks, but it also goes to show that you can just draw lines like these on any shorts pattern and get the same effect.

YES. I may have already traced out this classic racerback vest (tank) in order to use up a few 1 meter pieces of awkward, “not really what I was expecting when I ordered but still nice” jerseys…

And let’s talk about these shorts with the angled overlays – these must be a knockoff of a designer garment because this is now the third time I’ve seen patterns for them – first in the January Manequim magazine, and then again when Simplicity released 1370, which has a view for this, too! (Actually, I’d love to do a comparison post on these three if someone could send me a scan of the Simplicity pattern piece layout, please? They’re stupid expensive here.)

On to the next feature, which is entirely based on Japanese-inspired cutting techniques. oh my god are you kidding me?! An entire feature based on unusual cuts, seamlines, drapes, and nary a cheap “Asian brocade” or kimono in sight – think Pattern Magic or Drape Drape. YES.

First up – this dress with an overlay which sweeps over the shoulder and around to the back. I could see this being an amazing formal gown, even though Burda have made it in a fairly casual fabric here.

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Burda magazine May 2014

28 April 2014, 14:14

I don’t know why, but this issue was really late to arrive this month, only turning up on Friday, after (I swear) everyone else on earth already received theirs, and some had even started making things from it! I love my subscription, and it’s usually timely, but it makes me cranky when it’s a really good issue I’m waiting on!

I’m not sure why so many of the garments in the first feature were made with waffle piqué (maybe the Big Waffle Piqué Cartel got to Burda?), but I rather liked the design of this sweetheart-necked dress. I thought at first there might be kangaroo pockets in the skirt, but no – the model is just holding her hands at the pleats for the fun of it…

This banded dress is just ok IMHO – it reminds me too much of the overdone “Duro dress” of a few years ago, but I more wanted to point out the blatant advertorial for Frizz-ease in the corner. Look, I don’t mind if Burda start introducing ads into the magazine (frankly, I find it really weird that it doesn’t contain any), but make them ads. Don’t try to shoe-horn ads into your crappy, poorly-written copy and expect readers to be stupid enough to lap it up. Give Frizz-ease a full page ad and don’t insult your readers’ intelligence.

The maxi dress on the right isn’t really my thing, but I really like the paneled seams of the mini dress on the left. The dress has a few variations shown in this issue, including an above-the-knee length, and both strapless and spaghetti strap versions, but I liked this cap sleeve treatment best.

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The Bunka-esque asymmetric Burda top

10 April 2014, 17:31

This might be the quickest turnaround for a pattern I’ve made in ages, but last weekend I put together the weird, conceptual “tube” tee from the April 2014 Burda magazine (I’m so current!!) and some splatter-print viscose lycra jersey I bought at Hancocks when I was visiting my folks in Virginia in November. Or it’s up on the US Burdastyle already should you wish to buy the pdf.

The pattern itself is rather avant-garde – it’s really just one big rectangle! On the right-hand side (as worn) there’s a side seam and a pretty normal, set-in sleeve. But on the left it’s just a fold instead of a side seam and a horizontal slit is cut in, where a sleeve with the sleeve cap chopped off (no, really!) is set into that. The neckline is just the top of the rectangle and is only an inch or two narrower than the hem!

I wasn’t so sure that the weird left sleeve would actually be comfortable, but it really is! I don’t even notice it when I’m wearing it, and it doesn’t really look strange when worn, either.

The body feels super voluminous and quite long to me – I’m tempted to narrow it and the cowl neck as well. I made a Burda size 40 which should be true to my new measurements, but everything is super wide – I’d definitely consider going down a size in the rectangle, but keeping the sleeves at your true size.

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Burda magazine April 2014

24 March 2014, 14:59

I wasn’t overly keen on last month’s issue, but there’s a lot to love in this one! Even the designs I didn’t like definitely had their own merit – lots of details and designs with thought behind them, and nary a shapeless sack in sight! But let’s take a peek inside for my picks…

I didn’t like much from the Southern style feature (nothing wrong with it, just not for me!), but I love that Burda have snuck in another cycling pattern, hot on the heels of last month’s seat cover! I really love the look of panniers, and I think these are a great design, with or without the frills.

The only Southern style garment that really jumped out at me was this shirt with the front, “bib” yoke. I don’t tend to sew many woven shirts for myself, but I really like this pattern, and it’d definitely be good in the summer heat!

I’m convinced that someone at Burda HQ has either studied at Bunka, or else is just really into Japanese-style pattern cutting, because we’ve had at least one design a month that just has Bunka written all over it, and this dress is certainly it. I had a bit of a “Burda WTF” reaction at first, but the more I looked at it, the more I think it might actually be kinda cool. Or uncomfortable – I’m not so sure about that left sleeve with the flat sleevehead. But I’m kinda into the uneven tube concept, even though I’m unsure whether it’d work in real life.

Here we see the cover dress in more detail, and it’s utterly gorgeous. This is the best about Burda – a flattering, edgy, and well designed dress that’s made accessible to everyone. Those skirt petals are just inspired and the topstitching and seaming is just icing on the cake.

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Burda magazine March 2014

27 February 2014, 14:30

There wasn’t much to get excited about in this issue, in my opinion. March is always the issue with the bridal gowns, but even those left me cold for the most part – overly fussy with too many extra frills, bows, and (in non-bridal sections), migraine-inducing ugly prints.

I’ve pulled a few nuggets from the pile though…

This dress was the only design from the first feature that I even glanced twice at – I really like all the pleating, but that surplice opening looks like a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen, and the model’s pose doesn’t help. It looks like she’s stiffly holding herself to avoid anything creasing or opening up!

Burda’s take on “grunge” was almost as laughable as their taken on “punk” earlier this year, but I did spot this very on-trend bomber jacket, which looks rather nice.

This is one of the ugliest outfits I have ever seen in Burda. Ever. Hideous tartan chiffon (why??!) paired with itself, plus the laziest drafting I’ve seen in a long time – those bell sleeves look like what a My First Pattern Drafting student might do if it were 1993. Ugly ugly ugly. UGH.

Burda print classic jeans patterns so infrequently that you’d think they’d be shouting about these from the front cover – “Sew your own jeans! Easy, step by step illustrated instructions!” Do they not want to sell issues or something? Why else would they disguise these in an ugly floral and call them “Five pocket Trousers”? It makes no sense! (If you missed the take-home message here – this issue is worth buying for these jeans alone.)

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Burda magazine February 2014

28 January 2014, 16:33

I don’t know what happened this month, but I appear to be the last person on earth to receive their February issue! Some people were already posting reviews of their sewn garments a full week before mine arrived in the postbox, not fair! But better late than never, here are my picks…

First up – this dress isn’t particularly earth-shattering, but it’s a nice classic shape, with short- or long-sleeve options, and a clever little central hidden kangaroo pocket in the skirt, too. I’m definitely eyeing this one up as a possible birthday dress for March, especially since I’ve got all that luscious silk twill that Dilly gifted me when she came to visit!

I know there are a lot of sewing ladies online that go ker-ay-zee for anything with buttons in the back but… I seriously don’t get it! So, you have to have someone help you get dressed whenever you want to take it on and off? How is that a good thing?! I’m not convinced by the central pleating on this dress, either, which might end up looking less than flattering…

I’m not entirely sure what it is about this wide, cropped blouse, but I absolutely love it! Maybe it’s the cocoon-shaped sleeves, or the back yoke, or the nice V neck, but I really could see myself wearing this a lot with leggings. I don’t think it’s quite as successful with the full skirt Burda’s paired it with, however.

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Burda magazine January 2014

7 January 2014, 13:22

I’m quite behind on my magazine posts – I’ve received this Burda and two Manequims while I was deep in the frenzy of launching my sewing patterns, so they got pushed to one side with all the activity. But for those of who who decide whether to buy the issues based on my reviews, here are my picks from the last Burda of (now last) year!

The most noticeable garment here is a truly horrible one-sleeved caftan dress, but hark! Is that a men’s tuxedo jacket I spy?!

Here the ladies get patterns for a bustier and an interesting draped skirt. Nothing groundbreaking, a definitely more of Burda’s “young fashion” when paired together, but definitely wearable and fitting with the New Year’s Eve party theme. But what do the blokes get? Yet another button-down shirt, identical to the ten others Burda have published in the last few years! It’s so lazy of them to just reprint the exact same shirt over and over… No wonder more men don’t sew.

Here we get a better look at the fantastic cover teeshirt/tunic with gathered side seams, paired with a great pair of narrow-legged leather trousers. The cover shirt also has the colour, illustrated instructions for this issue, too. This is definitely my Most Likely To Make for this issue, and the few versions that have popped up on the sewing internet already have looked great.

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Burda magazine December 2013

27 November 2013, 12:12

I had high hopes for this issue after the stellar November issue and the sneak peek at the back of that, but when I saw the line drawings it became apparent this could’ve just been entitled “The Dolman Issue” for the number of dolman sleeved garments in it! I’m not sure if someone at Burda HQ gave down the commandment that set-in or raglan sleeves weren’t beginner friendly or what, but there sure are an awful lot of fabric-guzzling designs in here, but it’s not all bad…

First up, no surprises for guessing – it’s a dolman sleeve tee! Actually this design isn’t so bad, it’s a nice twist on a casual, long sleeved tee, and the narrow sleeve cuffs help control some of the volume in the underarm/side seam area.

Since this is the holiday issue, the crafts are spread throughout the magazine and are way better than Burda’s usual “stick some glitter on twigs and call it interior design” school of crafts. For instance, these box bags are actually really nice little gifts, and a great way to use up scraps of nice, hefty home dec or other fabrics. There’s also a pattern for little moccasin slippers that uses wool and thick fleece that might be worth making as gifts too.

Now you’d think that, because this is a cowl dress, I’d be all over it, but I’m actually lukewarm. There’s something about that long pleat running into the cowl that just looks messy and haphazard, and from the cutting diagram I can see that the front is cut entirely as one (including the kimono sleeves, which have a gusset thrown in so you can actually lower your arms!), and then the pleat is just folded over. I know fabric is cheap these days, but the layout just makes me wince at the amount wasted to make a dress that way!

There are a few good trench coat patterns in this issue, but I particularly like this one because it shows that you can make a nice boucle coat without it being the same, ugly, tired, Chanel-alike design.

Again with the cowl neck and (nearly) dolman sleeves! This one looks like it’s just asking for a wardrobe mishap, along with showing off every little lump and bump in that fabric, but the top version of this doesn’t seem much better.

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Burda magazine November 2013

29 October 2013, 11:34

Woo! I knew if I waded through enough mediocre issues we’d get to a good one again! This November issue is the Fall fashion spectacular I’ve been waiting for, and it’s so good I’m even lusting over half the Plus pattern…

First to catch my eye was these foldover trousers, sized for Tall ladies. They really remind me of my KnipMode foldover trousers, which I still wear every winter and still get compliments on!

I love this biker jacket with its off-centre zipper and dramatic collar! It simultaneously reminds me of both my purple MyImage coat and that designer Manequim leather jacket (which I still want to make!), though this is designed for ponte knits in the body, and stretch leather in the sleeves. On closer inspection of the instructions, I noticed it’s unlined (apart from the sleeves) so that big collar is only just one layer of jersey. Also, I think the collar looks way more wearable in the catwalk comparison photo than on the model!

Here’s an example where it pays to really have line drawings and photos of a pattern – I initially loved the tech drawing, but when I saw it on a live model, I realised those pleats right over the hips would probably not be the most flattering…

From the Little Black Dress feature, I really like this sheath dress for stretch wovens – the slim, zippered sleeves are a particularly nice detail, and a great way to show off some short, posh zippers (hello Riri!). The vertical skirt seams might be a touch overkill though, but they don’t appear to be for shaping anyway so could be eliminated I imagine.

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I'm in Burda magazine!

28 October 2013, 12:50

I’m in the German edition of Burda Style magazine this month! I’m so excited!!


See? There I am right in the middle, along with the quote “I was immediately entranced by the draping”!

Someone at Burda HQ dropped me an email months ago asking if they could have some hi-res versions of my pale pink twist dress photos to use in the magazine, but it was so long ago that I’d assumed they dropped the feature or something. But no, a German edition of the fabulous November issue appeared in my postbox on Friday!

I had already scanned my subscription English edition for my review (going live tomorrow – it’s worth waiting for, I promise!), so I flipped through the German version to see what differences there were. The first thing I noticed is that it’s a heftier magazine, and there are ads in it, along with more editorial pieces (like a feature on a Philadelphian artist), more fashion spreads (like this season’s ankle boots), and that all the pattern instructions and pattern sheets were pushed to the back, and in their own separate magazine!

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Burda magazine October 2013

8 October 2013, 13:47

Burda’s had a bit of an ugly and disappointing streak for the past few issues, but this one is a definite improvement, with only a few Total Uglies, and quite a few Ooh That’s Nices!

I love the wide neckline on this top – I think it’s a really flattering shape, and it’s a bonus that it’s designed for knits. The pleated waistline gives nice shaping at the waist, too, without being overly peplum-y.

Usually when a pattern is shown in two different styles, it’s easy for me to choose one of them over the other to scan and highlight, but with this dress I love the pastel version and the military version equally! This dress is totally on my To Sew list for Fall & Winter – I love wearing long sleeved knit dresses, and the neckline, raglan shoulders, and waist pleats are just fantastic!

This duffle coat really reminds me of the turquoise one I made a few years ago and literally wore to death! It’s such a wonderful casual style, and the contrast panels really offer a good opportunity for playing with texture or colour, too.

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Neon trim gathered teeshirt

1 October 2013, 13:29

I bought a bit of fabric recently, and I had a spare few minutes in between packing and setting up our new bedroom, so of course I squeezed in a new top before we left for Mexico!

It’s #126 from the February 2013 Burda magazine, but the pattern is for sale on Burdastyle.com if you like it, too.

The fabric is a distressed jersey print from Minerva that I bought a fortnight ago. It’s not got the nicest hand and feels quite stiff from the paint used on it (and didn’t soften up much in the wash, either), so I had to choose a pattern carefully. I first thought of my tie-front Pattern Magic top but 1m wasn’t enough for that so I turned to this pattern instead since it was traced and nearby after I made it earlier this year for my gathered merino top.

The neon trim was just a happy accident – I’d originally planned a basic neckband of self fabric but I mismeasured the neckline (I forgot to add in the top of the raglan sleeves!) so I started to think outside the box and I remembered I had some of this stretch fluroescent orange binding (also from Minerva!) in my stash from earlier in the year. Now I can’t imagine this top without it!

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Lots of little happenings

18 September 2013, 13:01

First of all, thanks so much for all your kind comments last week! It was a bit week for me, posting two finished garments and a pattern/tutorial so this week might be a little sparse, especially in the leadup to our departure next week.

But I’ve been doing a bunch of little bits over the past month or so – things that aren’t really big enough to post about on their own, or that I’m not quite ready to post about yet, or things that I’m just really keen on. So it’s time for a little roundup post, I reckon!

Refashioned doggy tee


I’ve been so impressed by all the shirts Novita has been making for all her foster dogs over the past few months, so when a friend asked if I could maker her Boston Terrier puppy a Run dem Crew shirt for his cheering duties at a race, I thought it sounded like fun.

With Novita’s advice, I used the free Milla Milla pattern in size Medium (we tried Small initially but it was too tight), and it was really quick to put together apart from the binding. Don’t use their crazy, fiddly binding instructions – next time I’m just serging on a folded binding and topstitching! Done! I used a small RDC shirt as the starting fabric, and tried to place the logos as best I could. Apparently little Stringer Bell was the hit of the cheering station!

The Napkin Project embroidery


I didn’t get as much detail in as I’d hoped, but I did complete a decent design for The Napkin Project before the deadline!

The topic was “home” so I worked in Tower Bridge, boatlife (via a porthole) and the greenery of the gardens. All the embroidered napkins will be used in a nursing home in Bristol to spark memories in dementia patients, so I hope mine is well received! My grandmother is suffering from dementia right now so I’m really proud to be a part of this project and help others like her, even in a small way.

Fabric Buys


I wasn’t meaning to, but I ended up buying some fabrics from Minerva. Oops.

The crazy print will become perfect running leggings (of course!), there’s some silver-coated denim in there, a cool cutwork mustard jersey that reminds me of camouflage tents, and a few other interesting 1m cuts of jerseys, too.

Running vests


One fabric I bought but which isn’t pictured above is a large quantity of the cheapest stretch fabric they had, for use in running muslins. As it turns out, the peach poly jersey is actually not too bad – at least it’s a nice middling weight for use in testing tops or bottoms.

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A classic pair of jeans

13 September 2013, 12:18

I know I’ve been recently focusing on sewing for my upcoming Mexico trip but I’ve been wanting to sew these since my FW12 and SS13 plans so it was high time I actually just sat down and made them!

After umming and ahhing for months over which pattern I should use, then muslining two different patterns which were both too small, I ended up making this pair in two days’ flat! As you’ll recall, it’s #120 from the April 2010 issue of Burda magazine (sadly not on Burdastyle.com!), an issue which also had a great pair of men’s trousers I’ve been eyeing up for James, too.


Worn here with my plum bamboo Jalie top

I’m a bit scared that I can sew an entire pair of jeans now (including the front fly) without looking at instructions a single time… I did, however, inspect a pair of James’s RTW jeans once or twice to see which side of the seam they topstitched!


This one has been lightened so you can see the details a little better!

Oh, and remember when I tried on the muslin for this pattern and it was way too small in the waist and hips? Well, I put the muslin to the side in my sewing cave and tried them on a few weeks later and they fit perfectly now! Yes, only I would go and change my body instead of just doing a pattern alteration…

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Burda magazine September 2013

4 September 2013, 13:27

After August’s total stinker of an issue, I was really hoping that September would be a great one to pull me into Fall sewing and inspire me, but this one is just as bad! Seriously, I kept pulling this one out every few days thinking “it can’t be that bad – there must be something worth making in it…”

Well, after struggling to find the good in it, I’ve found some acceptable details that might be worth repurposing, but IMHO this is a new low. Sigh.

We wait ages for Burda to produce some decent lingerie patterns, and then they go and disguise this slip as a neo-grunge dress! I’m not entirely convinced by the front pleating, and since they’ve obscured it in every photo (here in a very busy print), I’ll have to wait for those keen Russians to sew up a few before I make my verdict…

The cropped, Peter Pan-collar jacket – ugh. The bad dress hangover from last month’s disgusting neo Victorians feature – double ugh. But the jersey split skirt – yeah, I’m alright with that. This is probably my favourite of this issue, and it’s quite telling that I’m even just lukewarm on it.

The winged sleeves are a really interesting detail here, and it’s a bonus that this has the illustrated instructions for this issue, but why did they have to put them on such a shapeless sack of a dress??

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Burda magazine August 2013

31 July 2013, 13:47

I’m not going to lie to you – there’s a whole lot of ugly again in this issue! After last month’s disappointing collection, I was very hopeful that the first of the Fall fashions would herald a return to some great Burda patterns, but alas!

I’ve tried to shield your poor eyes from the worst abuses and find some nuggets in the poo, but I just couldn’t help it. Happily, though, if you’re Plus-sized, you get the best patterns of the whole issue!

The entire Downton Abbey-inspired feature was just fugly so I’m going to pretend that just doesn’t exist. Moving swiftly on…

When the photos for this issue were first previewed, I would’ve never guessed that the tech drawing would look like this! This seems like it could either be a fantastic take on a basic long sleeved tee, or a really annoying noose that gets in your way and drags in your tea…

What an awful 1980s double sweatshirt abomination, paired with an even uglier leather skirt just to make the sweatshirt look not quite so bad in juxtaposition. Even the model looks sad that she was forced to wear this.

The 1970s Marianne Faithfull feature wasn’t much better (because there’s nothing I hate more than hippie style, or the 1970s!), but it did contain these slim leather trousers. I’m not as keen on the long-line blazer, which, for Tall women, is just going to further elongate them, right?

This red suit is absolutely the best of the regular-sized patterns in this issue! I’m not even usually a fan of blazers but the cut is really great here – classic yet interesting, and it comes paired with a really well-proportioned pair of trousers, too. Even better that for some reason Burda chose to have the coloured illustrated instructions for the blazer, even though they’re usually reserved for the most remedial patterns in the issue (you can see Burda forgot to remove “Easy Sewing” from the top there, which clashes with “Advanced” and “Masterpiece” just beneath it!)

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A Big Weekend for Sewing

29 July 2013, 13:59

I had an uncharacteristic free weekend – no races and not much planned, so I ended up getting lots of sewing bits done!

Sewing room clear-out

I’ve only got a small (temporary) sewing cave, and I’m a very tidy, organised person, but I’d let it get a little messy and it was feeling crowded, so after my two hour hill run on Saturday morning, I came back and had a bit of a clear out. I filled a full black bag with rubbish, but here’s what I pulled aside to swap at the Goldhawk Road meetup on Saturday!

Yes, you could be a good home to some pattern, pattern magazines, books, craft kits, or fabric that once lived on board! Now, if I can manage to be good and not fill up the space with things I pick up in the swap or fabric stores…

Skylight cover

Remember the last time I made a skylight cover (strangely, I see last time I was sewing jeans alongside it, too!)? I’d only ever made them for the back cabin, where the skylights are peaked, with windows that open like wings, but on the front deck, the skylights are flat and require grills that fit overtop for safety and security.

We had a joiner make a gorgeous new cover for the skylight over our bedroom, but it’s been shamefully covered in tarpaulins for the last few months while I procrastinated swearing my way through sewing another.

Even with a walking foot, the clear plastic is a total P-I-T-A to sew because it sticks to the machine bed, the foot, is stiff and rams into everything, and is generally just awful.

This time around, I got so sick of the stickiness that I grabbed a “newspaper” (tabloid left from our joiner) and ripped off pieces to go underneath and also under the presser foot.

This surprisingly worked rather well, and the newspaper just rips out easily afterwards. Worth remembering if a) you don’t mind newsprint on your fabrics, and b) like me, you never have tissue paper lying around

It’s not my best work, but it’s done and will allow more light into our new bedroom!

Jeans muslin

If you recall, I decided on a Burda pattern for my non-stretch denim so I sewed up a quick muslin of that on Saturday after my skylight triumph.

The triumph was short-lived.

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Burda magazine July 2013

28 June 2013, 13:13

The summer issues are never Burda’s forté but wow this issue is particularly bad! For me, the only reason to not throw this in the bin full stop is the lingerie section. Paunnet has already savaged the ridiculously, hideously ugly stuff in this, so I’ve tried to keep my complaining to a minimum. It was dragging me down to complain so much, but I just couldn’t help it on a few!

Like this first one – this is quite possibly the most hideous pattern Burda has ever published! I couldn’t believe the editor actually chose this one to restyle later in the magazine, proving once and for all that you “can’t polish a turd”!

“These trousers conceal LEGS. Ummm, and?!? (I personally think the top and trousers aren’t too great with less-than-ideal proportions, especially for Tall women, but this bit of copy just made me crazy!) Did their usual barely-speak-English translators go away on holiday already or something? (Also: “batik” is not the same as “tie dye”!! arggh)

The vintage pattern this month is a woven tee and shorts from the 1960s. Both look really modern and wearable, though making the top in “rafia” sounds like it’d be really uncomfortable! I’ll take mine in silk, thanks very much.

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Refashioned Boston Street running top

11 June 2013, 14:40

One practical aspect of being a sewing runner (or a running sewist) is that I can take all those oversized race tee shirts that seem to accumulate and refashion the nice technical fabric into something more suitable. Oftentimes I just trim down the front and back based on my knit sloper (like I did with my Paris race tee), but this time around I thought I’d change things up and use a Burda pattern instead of my usual sloper, since one presented itself nicely in the form of the “scuba set” in the June 2013 Burda magazine (or you can purchase as a pdf here).

I started by pulling out a pile of race tees I wasn’t 100% happy with (though in reality I only did two of these four)…

This particular shirt was always destined to be refashioned – I visited tons of running shops when I was in Baltimore in April, but my favourite was a small, very friendly shop run by a very enthusiastic runner, Boston Street Running (Baltimorians, it’s down by the big Safeway in Canton). I ended up chatting to him for ages about nutrition, races, running fashion, and he despaired that he only had one of their shirts left, and it was XXL with a printing mistake, as he really wanted to give me one!

I assured him I’d refashion it down, and send him photos of me wearing it in front of Tower Bridge…

One thing I really like about this pattern is that there are no side seams – it uses side panels instead!

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Burda magazine June 2013

5 June 2013, 12:42

I’m a tad late with my review of the latest Burda magazine (or as it’s known these days “Burda Style” – but that just makes it too confusing with the other zillion things they do with the same name), but a) it arrived in the midst of my World tour, b) it’s competing with both the April and May Manequim magazines, and c) well, I have made something from it already so I think I’ve earned a pass!

In any case, this is a surprisingly good issue, despite being a summer one!

First up is this sheath dress with angled side panels and hand-stitched details. On first glance it appears quite vintage-inspired, but the sharp seaming in the line drawing actually shows it’s a pretty modern draft!

I chose this next image not really for the batiste skater skirt (which isn’t really my style), but because OMG is this the first black model Burda have ever used?? And I realise this is the “street style” section so she’s not really a model per say, but seriously, I cannot believe how white Burda’s models are, even when they’re showcasing African or Moroccan or Asian inspired patterns they still use white models!*


A bit of an aside, but as I was travelling the other week I saw a massive advert for the German Wings budget airline with three cabin crew ladies: a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead. To which I chuckled to myself “oh, it’s German diversity!”

Next up is a nice figure-hugging knit dress with a cowl neck and gathered side seams. It’s also available as a top, which I think would be an excellent summer basic, or even for layering under jackets.

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A gathered merino wool cardigan

4 June 2013, 14:02

It’s June, I hear you cry – why is she sewing a wool cardigan in June??!? Well, I selected this cardigan in my Spring 2013 Sewing Ideas because I’m a realist, and I recognise that I need a lightweight cardigan for 80% of the British summer! I’m grateful to not have the disgustingly hot & humid East Coast summers I grew up with (nor the swarms of mosquitoes everywhere!) but it does mean some wardrobe concessions must be made.

This cardigan appeared in the March 2013 Burda magazine (or it’s available for purchase as a pdf here) and I thought it was one of the nicest, prettiest, and most versatile cardigan patterns I’d seen in a long, long time.

This is a basic, slim-fit cardigan with shaped, faced bands, front gathers, and button closure. I love the slim fit, the beautifully drafted, curved bands, and the delicate and pretty gathering. I get annoyed when patterns have skimpy gathering, but there’s a nice amount here, which is a great detail and offers bust shaping.

THIS PATTERN RUNS VERY SMALL! One reason I sew so much Burda is because they’re always so consistent, so I’m very, very glad I read the other reviews first.

When I compared the front and back to my self-drafted knit sloper, which has 10% negative ease (perfect for tight-fitting running tops, which is my usual usage), this cardigan pattern was even smaller still! If you can – go up a size, but if you’re the largest size already, like me, I recommend cutting larger seam allowances throughout the waist and hips at the very least. I personally tapered to about 1” allowances on the waist and hips in the side seams, then sewed ~3/8” (1cm) from the edge.

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Spring 2013 Sewing Ideas

30 April 2013, 13:52

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments on my asymmetric Drape Drape teeshirt! A girl could get used to that level of flattery…

It also marks the start of my sewing short sleeves, which means it must finally be Spring, and hence, time to start thinking about marrying up the patterns and fabrics I’d like to sew for the next few months. I really do these only for my own benefit, and so they’re not a “SWAP” in the sense that everything must coordinate against each other (lord knows I have enough clothes that I don’t have problems putting combinations together!).

This is more just a set of ideas towards which I’d like to work, so when I get to the end of a project, I can quickly refer to this image and go “oh yeah, I want to sew that next!”

For the first time I’m also including running/exercise gear in my plans, since I’m wearing lycra as a significant portion of my weekly wardrobe, and I want to contain all of my sewing ideas together. So you’ll find all the running stuff on the bottom row, and the rest of life’s wear on the upper two rows!

Top row:

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Burda magazine May 2013

25 April 2013, 15:34

Here’s my “one liner” review of this issue – if you’re looking for Spring sewing inspiration, you probably won’t find it here!

I’ve felt the last few Burda issues were a bit lacklustre and this one is even worse. There are a few nice patterns, but most require alterations in order to make them wearable for most people, or are things we’ve seen before. I’ll leave it to Paunnet to tear apart all the horrible rectangle “patterns” in this issue!

First up we’ve got a retro-style bikini with a cute tie in the front and shirred elastic at the back, and elasticated briefs. I found it a bit strange that this is drafted for wovens, when it’d be much more comfortable in a traditional swimsuit lycra. I also saw an idea online that it’d be really cute lengthened into a dress or top! (PDF Pattern here)

There’s a bunch going on in this page – first a cardigan (rather a lot like Jalie’s new one, but for wovens), trousers that look way too much like pyjamas for my liking, and a quite nice dress (which also has a short sleeved option) if you leave off the cutesy patch pockets. (Cardigan PDF Pattern here)

This twist-top is probably my favourite in this issue, but it looks like it either requires a camisole underneath, or some extensive alterations. And I swear there’s a pattern exactly like this in one of the Pattern Magic books, so it’s hardly original.

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A Royal Blue Chic Top for my Mom

22 April 2013, 17:21

Remember the lavender “chic sweatshirt” I made my mom a few months ago? Well, she wears it so much that she asked if I’d make her a lighter weight version for Spring and Fall. Since I’d already done the pattern tracing and grading, I figured sewing up another would be a fairly quick job.

As you recall, the pattern is from the fabulous the September 2012 Burda magazine (or you can purchase the download pattern here) but the pattern only goes up to 44, and she decided she needed a size 46, so I had to grade it up for the lavender version. This time around I just needed to cut out the fabric and sew a few seams!

Since my mom saw a flyer that one of the fabric stores near her had pointe jerseys on sale, she opted to select this blue colourway in person, pre-wash it, and post it over to me. Then I made it a few weeks ago while I was ill (hey, it was a quick make!) and brought it along to Baltimore with me in my suitcase!

I really like this vibrant blue on her – I think the colour is a really smart choice as it’ll work equally well in Spring and Fall, too.

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Burda magazine April 2013

5 April 2013, 14:29

Well, it was bound to happen… We’ve had quite a few great Burda issues in a row, but to my eyes, this one’s a stinker. I mean, there are a few patterns that are okay, but an awful lot of ugly that I couldn’t bring myself to even scan. I’ve sifted out what I could from this issue though, so here are my picks…

I’ve never been a big fan of maxidresses, but this one looks nice, if a bit “only to be worn on holiday”-y. There exist maybe two days in the year you could actually wear something like this in London and not look unspeakably sad. Which is why I don’t sew many summer clothes…

Here are two versions of the same simple, boxy top with pleats around the neck (not that you’d know it from the pose on the left!). I like this top (and to a lesser extent, the belt-required dress version), but I swear I’ve seen this design over and over again before. I do kinda like the idea of having an all-lace back, but I’d do it in a teeshirt pattern or something.

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My Matthew Williamson birthday dress

29 March 2013, 13:23

Thank you all so much for your patience! I finished sewing this dress in time for my 34th birthday on Monday (and I proved it by showing you dressform photos and talking in depth about the construction process!) but such a rich, dark colour really requires daylight to shoot properly, and today was the first opportunity we’ve had.

Another reason I wanted some great photos of this is because it’s an incredible pattern with some seriously striking design lines and beautiful details, and frankly, it deserves to be seen properly! In fact, it’s a true designer pattern, and from Matthew Williamson, no less! It was printed in the September 2012 issue of Burda magazine, but you can still purchase it as a pdf download if you missed it and want to make your own!

I made mine in some lusciously soft and supple “Ravissant Duchess Satin Plum” that’s been in my stash for three years just waiting for the perfect use, and paired it with a floral lining fabric gifted to me from Veronica when I was in Paris last Spring. Personally, I think these two make the most perfect pairing, even if it’s only me who sees the inside!

As I said on Monday, this pattern is a step up from the usual Burda patterns – more like a Vogue Designer pattern in all its wonderful details, but with the usual precise Burda drafting. I really wanted to do this dress justice, so I did quite a few things the long way, like the fell-stitched sleeves, walking vent, and all the matching seam intersections!

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Birthday dress - just a peek!

25 March 2013, 15:14

Happy birthday to me! I’m 34 today, and to celebrate, I’ve been making myself a special sheath dress designed by none other than Matthew Williamson from the September 2012 issue of Burda magazine!

If you’ve been following along, then you know I’ve been super busy for the past few weeks and it was a bit touch & go whether I’d finish this dress in time to wear to my special Mystery Birthday Dinner tonight. I’m proud to say that I did finish it in time, thanks in no small part to the snow cancelling our Saturday afternoon plans and giving me time to huddle down and sew! (It did not cancel my run though – we still ran 19 miles in the snow & fierce winds)!

Unfortunately I didn’t finish in enough time to take daylight photos last night (plus it was snowing sideways & not exactly ideal photoshoot weather!), so I can only offer you some dressform photos right now, but hopefully we’ll be able to get a few shots of me dressed up before dinner tonight.

But — while everything’s fresh in my mind, I thought I’d tell you about the construction of the dress, and how I handled some of the trickier aspects of it.

I decided I didn’t want to fiddle about with a muslin for this dress, so I did the next best thing and sewed up the lining first, just to double check that my sole alteration of raising the waist 1”/2cm was right, and everything was okay.

After that I cut out the shell and facings from the purple duchesse satin, and the next hurdle was to attach the curved facings to the curved neckline and sleeves of the lining. The neckline wasn’t too bad, but the sleeves were a total bear! For this reason (and a bit that became apparant later, too), I’d recommend sewing the side seams dead last, after the lining and shell are joined at the neckline and sleeve edges, and then sewing the side seams. This means you can attach the facings flat, for starters…

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My Satin & Lycra Weekend

19 March 2013, 16:06

My weekend mostly went like this…

Saturday


On Saturday morning I got up for a 2hr 45min (16+ mile) run in the rain with my two good friends, Chris and Juell. We got soaked, ran along Regents Canal to Camden and then through the heart of the city and back through Shoreditch to home. We were soaked to the bone, but had a great time and I furthered my knowledge of myself, my glycogen storage capacity, and my stomach’s ability to digest medjool dates as a gel alternative. That, and I feel a bit more confident now that I’ll be able to finish Copenhagen marathon now, having dialled back my expectations after being ill for so long.

Then Saturday afternoon I set out to do some more work on what will be this year’s Birthday dress (it’s next week, aaah!), the Burda Matthew Williamson sheath dress from the September 2012 issue:

The above uses the official photo from when I bought the “Ravissant Duchess Satin Plum” from Fabric.com three years ago, but below you can see the actual colour and exactly how much gorgeous lustre it gives off in the light. On the inside, I’m using a lovely floral lining fabric gifted to me from Veronica when I was in Paris last Spring.

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Burda magazine March 2013

1 March 2013, 13:34

I’ve seen a lot of hate for this issue online, and after the fabulous February issue, well, it was certainly going to be a hard act to follow. But if you look beyond the bridal and the strange styling (ankle-length lace vest, anyone?), there are some truly great patterns hiding in these pages…

First up is something so good I’ve already traced it and mentally assigned stash fabric to it – a cardigan with a gathered front, shown here in stretch lace, but also elsewhere in a different jersey. Cardigans aren’t something I’m usually attracted to, and in fact, I’ve never sewn one that I can recall, but I really like the look of this one, and I even like the idea of a lace one as a dressy coverup for a few weddings I’ve got coming up…

I will probably never make them, but big up to Burda for including a pattern for leather trousers. Often sewists complain that there are too many “easy sew” sack patterns in magazines, but Burda really are including difficult patterns in here, too. (I’m not even going to mention the unspeakably ugly cape, though.)

And to go with the leather trousers, a biker jacket! Though not in leather, I still love the seaming and topstitching details in this, and it’s uncommon to see a biker jacket pattern with a centre-front closure instead of diagonal.

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A gathered merino wool sweater

27 February 2013, 14:41

I’m not actually doing the Burda Challenge again this year, but I keep seeing so many great patterns in each issue that I want to sew – like this quick, gathered raglan merino wool sweater from the February BurdaStyle magazine (or to purchase as a pdf download here). And I am powerless to resist.

I bought this plum merino wool jersey on etsy along with some brown as well – the purple is sold out but there’s some brown merino wool jersey left and it’s luscious and so soft – nice and thing for layering but so warm, too. Amazing stuff! So cheap, too – 5m for £30 is an absolutely steal. I often see Antipodean sewists going on about how lovely merino wool is to sew, but it’s something I’ve never, ever seen for sale in Europe so I jumped on this when I saw it!


(Worn in these photos with the jeans I made in November)

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A lavender chic sweatshirt for my mom

21 February 2013, 15:10

I sure hope you aren’t sick of chic sweatshirts yet, because despite showing you my wool one on Tuesday, I’ve got another for you today (which I actually made several weeks before my grey one).

When my parents were visiting in October, my mom looked through all my recent makes and decided she’d like a chic sweatshirt for her belated Christmas gift, and she picked out a lovely lavender sweatshirting for it while she was here. Remember how lovely she looked in this lavender dress I made her a few years ago?

The pattern is again from the the September 2012 Burda magazine (or you can purchase the download pattern here) but the pattern only goes up to 44, and she decided she needed a size 46, so I had to grade it up. With multi-size patterns, it’s not too difficult – just measure the space between the size lines, add that onto the largest size, and connect the lines at the corners.

Here’s a good tutorial on grading up a pattern, and thankfully, this particular one happened to be the pink shaded pattern for this issue so it was easier than usual. It probably took me about 15-20 minutes to grade up all the pieces on the pattern sheet (of which there’s only 4!), then another 10 to trace them off, so it wasn’t nearly as painful as grading up a pattern that isn’t multi-sized.


(Big thanks to my brother for taking the photos for me!)

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Wool sweatshirt & denim-look pleated leggings

19 February 2013, 18:08

I’ve been meaning to sew both of these pieces for a few months now, but it didn’t occur to me exactly how well they work together until I went to do the photoshoot and realised, hey – these make for a great transitional weather casual outfit!

The wool sweatshirt


I mentioned it in my Burda Challenge roundup but I abolutely adore my turquoise chic sweatshirt from the September 2012 Burda magazine (or you can purchase the download pattern here), and I wear it so much I’ve been plotting another ever since. I’ve had this wool blend fabric in my stash since our honeymoon in 2010, when I bought it at Elliott Berman in NYC. I’m not sure if it’s a jersey or a woven, and it’s got a bit of loft and stretch, but it’s not as spongey as your typical loden. And for a wool, it’s super soft and not scratchy in the slightest.

So I made another “chic sweatshirt” out of this wool – does this make this one my “luxe sweatshirt” or something?

As before, you’ve really got to baste those curved front darts carefully so they’re accurate when you sew them. I always do my hand basting with silk thread (hot pink so it stands out against pretty much everything I sew) because it pulls out so much easier than polyester or cotton thread when you’re done.

I really like the detail of the curved, darted sleeve head, which makes the construction of this more like a raglan sleeve than a set in one.

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Catching up...

15 February 2013, 12:24

A month on, and I’m still ravaged by the shingles attack that hit me in mid-January. Absolutely everyone who saw my torso said it was the worst case they’ve ever seen (doctors included), and lucky, lucky me, the little bugger caused nerve damage, which means the pain in my side could continue on for months or possibly a year (again, lucky, lucky me). I’m on four different prescription painkillers until the neural-specific one hopefully starts working soon, so I’ve been stuck at home Resting (I hate resting.). The good news is that the doctor says I can now go do the odd half day at work and very easy run here and there as it’s driving me crazy not to, but I’m not to overdo things. But even that’s better than being chained to a couch!

Anyway, I’ve done as much resting as it’s humanly possible for Melissa to do, which means I’ve been lying flat on my back and sleeping for most of the days, but I managed to squeeze in some sewing, almost entirely in 5 minute segments, followed by 20 minutes of rest. Rinse & repeat… These will have photoshoots and proper posts coming hopefully next week!

The amazingly simple-to-sew Style Arc Marita dress:

A grey wool “chic sweatshirt”:

A pair of pleated, My Image denim-look leggings:

A quick, gathered raglan merino wool sweater from the February BurdaStyle magazine:

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Burda magazine February 2013

25 January 2013, 11:38

Thanks very much for all your kind get well wishes on my shingles and compliments on my lingerie set! I’m finally starting to feel a little bit better today, plus I’ve been a lingerie sewing whirlwind while ill so I’ve got lots more to show you, including some using the purple lace I bought at Kantje Boord in October!

In the meantime though, I want to show you my picks from the latest Burda magazine, because this one is a real keeper!

I LOVE this teeshirt with gathers on the raglan seams (front and back). There’s also a short sleeved version, too – I am totally making this!

Burda have a new feature in this issue (maybe it makes up for the lack of vintage pattern?) where they compare a bunch of their patterns with the latest catwalk trends…

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Too cold for photos - just sewing instead!

18 January 2013, 13:23

As I write this, London is in the midst of the second snowfall of the year (if you count Monday’s over-hyped yet under-delivered snow, that is) and I’m bundled up in a full-body thin layer of silk (long johns), plus my wool foldover trousers, my bamboo turtleneck, two pairs of socks, and my Russian greatcoat for my 35min walk into work today. It’s nothing on the Pennsylvania winters I grew up with, but at least I feel prepared!*

The good news is that, while it’s freezing outside, my sewing cave is one of the warmest spots on the boat, so I’ve been busy!

Papercut Peter & the Wolf Trousers


The new trouser pattern from Papercut Patterns was burning a hole in my To Sew list, so I just had to try them out! I finished these before last weekend, but Saturday I was covered in mud (another cross country race) and Sunday it was freezing and I didn’t fancy a photshoot.

I did an awesome job lining up the seams on the side invisible side zipper, if I do say so myself!

I really like that they have you topstitch all the mid-leg vertical seams as well as all the yoke seams – that topstitching really makes the seaming stand out nicely. It also meant I actually finished a huge 1000m spool of black Gutermann thread! I thought those things were infinite!

I’ve not yet worn these to work (the tulip hems mean my long johns are visible in front, the horror!) but I can tell already they’ve got a nice fit throughout – I especially like the trouser hems and the hip yokes, though they do mean the pockets are placed further down the leg than I’m used to…

I’ll try to get some photos this weekend, even though the details will be lost in the dark brown stretch twill (hey, it was in the stash alright!?) I’d bought in Paris last Spring. I didn’t have any particular attachment to it and it was a stretch woven as per the pattern requirements, so I made these as a trial version (or wearable muslin if you prefer). I might fancy making these again in some stretch wool suiting in my stash from last winter…

Another Chic Sweatshirt


When my parents were visiting in October, my mom looked through all my recent makes and decided she’d like a chic sweatshirt for her belated Christmas gift, and she picked out a lovely lavender sweatshirting for it while she was here. Remember how lovely she looks in lavender? I think it was a great choice. For my gift, she re-taught herself to crochet and made me a wonderful hat in mustard wool I picked out. Hooray for our little skills exchange!

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A Year of Burda Magazine Patterns - Challenge Completed!

14 January 2013, 14:16

I (silently) set myself the challenge to sew one garment from each issue of Burda magazine (aka BurdaStyle) in 2012, and I’m proud to say I completed it! I’m not the sort of person to make New Year’s resolutions, or proclaim lofty goals to everyone who’ll listen – I’m more the sort to quietly commit myself to something, and see if anyone notices what I’m up to before the completion… I do know that Kristy has also been keeping up with the Burda challenge this year, and it’s been fun to see which patterns she’s chosen from the same issues (and on occasion we selected the same pattern!).

There were some roaring successes, a few fails (both my fault and not), and some that I changed my mind on only after months of wear. So I thought it was worthwhile to have a look through all the projects from this year, and my thoughts on each looking back from now…

January



Rating: 9/10
Link to original post: Great Basic – Grey Flannel Trousers

At the time I said: There’s nothing particularly earth-shattering about this design, but I just thought it looked nicely versatile, and something I could wear to business meetings as well as just team with a teeshirt if I fancied it.

My thoughts now: I don’t think these look as nice in the photoshoot as they do in real life. I genuinely love and adore these, and have worn them pretty much nonstop, at least once a week to work, since I made them a year ago. I wouldn’t change a single thing about this pattern, and the silk pocket linings fill me with glee everything I slip my hands inside. I really do need to make some more of these!

February



Rating: 7/10
Link to original post: The Blue and Black Burda February sheath dress

At the time I said: But really, I just love this dress! It’s so comfortable, and I’ve gotten so many compliments even in just the two occasions I’ve worn it in the past week. I also like it because it reminds me both of my beloved September dress pattern but also of traditional cheongsam dresses…

My thoughts now: I think the pattern is fabulous, but the fabric I chose was too thin, and the upper chest is a bit lumpy where Burda tried to tell me to have a facing when it should’ve just been sewn closed. I wore this a few times a month over the summer, but the short sleeves keep it from being in all-year rotation. I’d really like to sew this pattern again in a ponti jersey, like my other favourite dresses.

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Burda magazine January 2013

11 January 2013, 13:55

While I’m prepping my showcase of the patterns I made from each of the Burda magazine issues in 2012, I have to admit that I feel kinda relieved that I don’t have to make anything from this January issue! I mean, I don’t think it’s a terrible issue, but there’s nothing much in it that really grabs me, and I’d prefer to use my time to revisit some patterns and magazines I neglected while focusing on Burda last year.

But for those of you with subscriptions and thinking of doing a similar challenge in 2013, here are my picks from the first issue…

There are some great basics in this issue, like this cowl top and pencil skirt (shown here in fantastic metallic leather). Sure, I’ve seen these patterns countless times before and don’t set my world on fire, but they’re great wardrobe builders and starting points for other garment variations.

The tech drawing looks nice enough – a simple sheath dress with integrated cap sleeves… so why did they choose to make it in what appears to be tin foil??

There’s a feature comprised entirely of reprinted patterns from the late 50s and 1960s, among them this sweetheart neckline sheath dress, which seems a great opportunity to grab one of Sunni’s covered belt kits!

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Pale pink Burda December cover dress

7 January 2013, 12:21

Are you excited yet? I sure am, because this dress is the last in my one-Burda-per-issue challenge for 2012! I set out to sew one pattern from each issue, and I’m pleased to reported I completed it (though much more on that in a bit – I’ve got a rundown post coming).

The final garment in the challenge is the Burda December cover dress (Burda Dec 2012 #112) even though I technically completed in on New Year’s Eve, I’m counting this in 2013’s tally since I’d already written up my end-of-year post by that point!

You may remember that I sewed up a muslin of this over the holidays, but I took inspiration from the long version shown in the magazine and made my final version in some pale pink viscose crepe from Stone Fabrics Super wonderful – flowing, drapey, takes a nice press (though that means it also wrinkles readily!), and has one crepe side and the other rather smoother (I used the crepe on the outside). You really can’t beat it for £6/m! It’s fairly narrow though at 137cm wide, so if you also choose to make the shorter hem length with long sleeves, note that you’ll need 3 meters of it.

This pattern (which also has a longer hem length with long sleeves) has the illustrated instructions for this issue, and man do you need them! It reminded me of one of those Vogue designer patterns where it doesn’t actually look like a dress until the very last step. Note that if you buy the pdf pattern from the Burda Style site, you get the same full, illustrated instructions that appear in the magazine.

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Burda magazine December 2012

30 November 2012, 15:41

First of all, thank you all so so much for all your lovely comments on the vintage wiggle dress! Due to another crazy week at work plus coming down with a rotten cold, I’ve been even less equipped than usual to reply to as many as I like, but rest assured I do see every one of them (they’re emailed to me, so no matter how old the post is, I see what you wrote!), and I’ll try to work through the backlog of replies soon.

But rather than waiting on little ol’ me, have a look inside the latest issue of Burda magazine, because they’ve gone and ended this year with a bang, my oh my…

How much do I love this dress?!? It’s so good they’ve put it on the cover, and then again inside, with long or short sleeves, and floor-length, or knee-length hems. When I was shopping in the West End with my mom a few weeks ago, I swear I saw this exact dress across a crowded department store, so I’m pretty sure it’s a designer knockoff – maybe Christian Dior? Does anyone know? In any case, it’s a Tall dress (boo! so most of us have to remove some vertical length in a few spots), but there are illustrated instructions for this one (which you can view in the pdf here since the long version is up for purchase on the English BurdaStyle.com already).

I know the tech drawing for this sequin tank is pretty plain and boring, but it’s all about optimising a very special (or expensive) short piece of fabric, and this sequin version reminds me of a RTW Express navy blue tank seen here. I also quite like the stretch leather trousers, but the likelihood of finding stretch leather outside the NYC garment district is quite slim…

I like the pairing of this peplum jacket and jodhpurs but those trousers mysteriously look like the exact same trousers from the recent Burda Easy magazine but with an extra inner leg seam cutout… Sneaky Burda, sneaky.

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Vintage wiggle dress - photos

26 November 2012, 13:09

Last week I told you all about this dress – the pattern details, how I traced all fourteen of those curved, monster front darts, the things I omitted, the things I changed, and the things I’d want to know if I were you, sewing this for the first time.

So if you want to know all the geeky details (including the UK shop where I bought this lovely sage green marl ponti roma jersey!), then you best read that post, because this one’s going to be light on words and heavy on photos!

What I will say again is that this is a reprint of an original pattern Burda printed in 1956, but graded up to the normal Burda size range and included in the the November Burda magazine (or you can purchase it as a pdf here if you missed the magazine).

I’m stupidly happy with this dress – it’s the exact right snug, clingy, long sleeved knit sheath dress that I love to wear in winter. For the past two winters, my favourite dress has been the purple September 2010 Burda cover dress and this dress reminds me a lot of it, with a similar fit and feel.

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Vintage wiggle dress - pattern notes

20 November 2012, 13:12

My latest project is this vintage sheath dress from the November Burda magazine (which you can purchase as a pdf here if you missed the magazine)!

It’s a reprint of an original pattern Burda printed in 1956, and one of my favourite running features that Burda magazine have been doing this year. Since the company’s had a very long history, it makes sense that they should look into their archives, dust off a few gems, grade up the sizing to their usual modern range, and translate the instructions!

Contrary to popular belief, this particular one is not a maternity dress, despite the fact that the model clearly looks like she’s “showing”. I can assure you that I do not look pregnant in it one bit, so let’s move on with the catty remarks…

In any case, I finished this one on Sunday night, but considering that it gets dark at 4pm here now, I won’t be able to do a photoshoot until this weekend, meaning you won’t see it on me until next week. By which time I’ll have probably forgotten all the construction details, boo!

So by way of a reminder, I thought I’d type up my thoughts now, then you’ll see the finished design next week. So the “Tell”, then the “Show”!

1. The bodice has seven monster, curved darts, all of which needed to be accurately marked onto the fabric. If you have carbon paper, I suggest you make good use of it, but for me, I remove the inside of the darts with scissors, then thread trace each dart with silk basting thread so I can see it on both sides. Then repeat for the other bodice piece. This took a few evenings, but it was important to get them right, as it’s the focus of the entire dress!

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A vintage painter's smock

14 November 2012, 13:11

I’m pretty sure this isn’t supposed to be a painter’s smock, but that’s certainly what this feels like to me! In the October edition of BurdaStyle magazine Burda call it a “retro short coat” – a reprint of a vintage pattern that originally appeared in 1952. From the magazine and original sketch, it reminded me loads of a coat Bel wore to the country house party in the first season of The Hour, so I was keen to make it to inject some vintage styling into my usual modern wardrobe.

(It’s available to download from Burda’s English site if you like it, or just fancy reading the instruction pdf)

I made it here in some silver-grey linen gifted to me by Veronica when I was in Paris. It’s nice fabric, but I think the colour isn’t helping the smock comparisons! Maybe it needs something brighter…

Burda’s patterns are very nearly always well-made, but this one in particular is impeccable drafted (well, except for the curved collar), with tons of inset corners that joined up perfectly. It’s one of those patterns that’s a joy to sew, when everything matches up and just comes together like a little puzzle – match up corners and notches here, a bit of gathering there, pieces join to be the Centre Back in unexpected ways – that sort of thing! If I wanted to be picky, there’s some generous gathering across the back, but there wasn’t quite enough gathering on the front seams for my liking. Personally, I’d rather the gathering be concentrated in a smaller area than have it be wide and hardly any gathers.

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Burda magazine November 2012

2 November 2012, 14:11

I don’t think this is the best issue of Burda we’ve seen in a while (remember how amazing August and September were??), but there are still a few patterns worth mentioning, and even a few worth buying!

I really like these slim trousers omg but they look identical to the ones in the January 2012 issue that I made! Seriously, I inspected the tech drawing and pieces and it really does look like this is an exact reprint from January! To be honest, I like my grey trousers so much I was thinking about making them again, but now I might make this pair instead purely so I can compare the two.

Here are those slim trousers again plus a top with a boxpleated peplum. I really like this peplum top, but I think the one I made two months ago is probably enough for me for a while!

This long trenchcoat is rather nice, though it has an asymmetric back vent flap that just looks wrong (but is easy enough to change).

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Burda Easy magazine FW12

1 November 2012, 10:40

I’ve been aware of Burda Easy magazine for a while, and I even bought one a few years ago, but I don’t usually like the designs so I usually steer clear. But I really liked a few of them in this issue, and it was staring me in the face in a French supermarket a few weeks ago, so I couldn’t pass it up. Coincidentally, I bought it at the same time as the Fait Main magazine I already shared with you.

If you’re not familiar with Burda Easy, it’s published twice a year in several languages (but not English), and has illustrated instructions for simpler designs. The patterns come on tissue and are printed in such a way that they don’t overlap each other so you could cut the out rather than trace if you’re that way inclined. They don’t contain seam allowances, which is the norm everywhere except the US.

I’m not sure about the colourblocking on these trousers, but I really like the design lines and I always love a front-leg seam. The short sleeved jacket here is also cute, and has variations for full jackets and waistcoats, too.

I really love the seam lines on this boxy top, and I like the way they’ve used different black fabrics to play around with texture (the miniskirt’s very on trend with that hemline, too!).

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Fall/Winter 2012 Sewing Shortlist

30 October 2012, 13:34

A lot of sewers like to “Sew with a Plan” (SWAP), but I prefer to call this a “Shortlist” rather than a “Plan”, so I’m free to still change my mind and add/remove items as I go along! My main goal here isn’t so much to create a capsule wardrobe that can be worn together, but more to use up fabrics and/or that have been in my stash for a while that I’d really like to just wear.


(Click to enbiggen!)

From the top down, in no particular order: