The Draped jacket & skirt suit

I’m very happy to report that my draped suit (Burda September 2011 #126 and 127) is finally finished! It feels like I’ve been sewing this for f-o-r-e-v-e-r and I am thoroughly sick of it now!

If you recall, it’s a two-part suit, with a draped, collar-less jacket and a pleated pencil skirt:

I’ve been sewing both of the pieces in parallel, so I’ve finished them at the same time. I like a lot of aspects of this suit, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not totally in love with the overall resulting look.

The jacket and skirt together!

Things I really like:

  • The lapel-less shawl collar construction
  • The asymmetric drape
  • The three part, bell shaped sleeve
  • The two-tone, piped lining
  • The folded and seamed facing on the draped side
  • Pretty much everything about the skirt
    • The drape makes for a rather elegant side view, too:

      Things I don’t like:

The #sewdots Falda jacket

Rosie (of DIY Couture fame) created the “Sew Dots, Raise Lots” campaign for the month of October to raise money for the RNIB (Royal National Institute Of Blind People). The premise was simple – sew something with polka dots (because it looks like Braille!), donate to the RNIB, and share on social media with the #sewdots hashtag to be in the running for a huge prize mountain.

I’m not able to participate in every sewing initiative that comes along, but I knew I wanted to be a part of this one, because sight loss is something that’s affected people I love. For pretty much my entire childhood, my grandmother was legally blind from cataracts and glaucoma and I saw how her lack of eyesight isolated her from everything she used to love (like knitting and her independence). More recently, my Dad has suffered from Macular Degeneration, enduring years of regular injections directly into his eyeballs (!!) in order to try and slow the progression of the disease and retain his ability to still at least have some peripheral vision. I’ve also worked closely with the Blind Abilities community in my previous spoken word audio career, and tried to make our service and apps welcoming for the visually impaired. If you’ve got an Apple device, go ahead and turn on VoiceOver for a few minutes and try to navigate through your favourite apps as a visually impaired user would (but they do it way, way faster!)

Draped jacket – no ordinary lining

There’s been only slow and steady progress on my draped suit (Burda September 2011 #126 and 127) this week as there’s been little time to sew, but I did get a few hours of “me time” in on Sunday evening after my insulation work was done for the day.

Those few hours were enough for me to finish the entire shell of the jacket and skirt, but I needed a clear surface to cut out the lining fabric, so that was delayed until last evening (since my running group was cancelled). Since the wool suiting has stretch, I didn’t want to negate the benefits of that with a non-stretch lining, so I pulled out one of the few stretch wovens in my stash – a blisteringly hot pink stretch satin I’d bought from Fabric.com last year (and came across in my mom’s suitcase before the wedding). Despite it being polyester, it actually feels wonderful and it was worth the price to be such a high quality lining.

Mentally sewing the LMB draped dress

I’ve gotten as far as I can on my secret other project while I wait for supplies (mostly new labels – can you believe I’ve sewn through the last lot of 120-odd Fehr Trade labels in the past two years??), so I cut out my muslin pieces for my birthday dress. If you’ve got a good memory, it’s this luuuurrrrrvely draped number from the Feb 2010 La Mia Boutique magazine, #6:

What I normally do for foreign language patterns (La Mia Boutique is in Italian) is look at the pieces and get a brief order of construction in my head. Usually I work from the top down, starting with assembling the front bodice pieces then join to the back at the shoulders, then finish the neckline, then if it’s a knit, attach the sleeves at the armscye and sew up the side seams, or if it’s a woven, do the side seams first them attach the sleeve in the round. After sewing for a while, you begin to see that most pattern instructions have you sew things in roughly the same order, so you can just do those here to suit this particular pattern.

But for more complicated patterns like this one, I like to sit down with a pen and paper and mentally go through the whole process, visualising how the different pieces interact and the pros and cons of doing which seams in which order (like “if I do this first, is it going to make it awkward to serge that?”). It’s a great mental exercise in spatial thinking, and one of the most pleasurable aspects of sewing for me.

And it means I don’t have to type in every single word of the foreign instructions and figure out what the translator’s trying to tell me (sewing terms are not the best translated! )!

So since I was writing these out anyway, I thought my order of construction might help others who were eyeing up this pattern.

Dutch sewing pattern magazine roundup

A few weeks ago J and I took a long weekend away in Amsterdam, but the majority of these patterns actually came from a different trip he’d made for work a few weeks earlier. It turns out that the newsagent inside Rotterdam station is a haven of sewing pattern magazines, who knew?? So rather than do a post on each of these, I thought I’d pull out my highlights, and take the chance again to explain how accessible the pattern sheets and instructions are for non-Dutch speakers…

Burda magazine June 2018

The July issue isn’t yet on UK newsstands (that I can find, anyway…) so I’m technically not behind on my June review, even though the calendar may say otherwise! So let’s take a peek inside and see what jumped out for me…

Burda magazine March 2017

Springtime in Burda’s world means the start of wedding season, and the March issue is traditionally the one filled with wedding gowns and other formalwear suitable for bridesmaids and guests, too. I’m personally in the market for a gown to wear to a gala event in June, so perhaps something will take my fancy here…?

Burda magazine January 2014

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.

Spending Your Money Well

The title of this post isn’t just savvy shopping advice, but a literal comment, too, because I’ve been spending your money, dear readers! I got another Google AdSense payment through and I always like to spend these on sewing things to help cycle everything back into the site. I thought you all might appreciate seeing what I bought with your money, which I feel I spent rather well!

StyleArc pattern purchases

After the roaring success of my Marita dress, I knew I had to buy some more StyleArc patterns, so I created a WishList and waited until there was a monthly free pattern that I really liked. I didn’t have to wait long, though, as any purchase in March comes with the free Ivy knit top (bottom right in my photo). I really like the look of this top and know it’s one I’ll actually wear (as opposed to February’s freebie, an elastic-waisted skirt).

Happy 2012!

As is traditional, I like to take the opportunity at the start of a new year to look back on what I’ve sewn in the previous calendar year.

Somehow I keep getting more and more prolific each year… and it’s a bonus that you get to watch my hair grow as you skim downwards, ha!


(Click the above to en-biggen, or right-click here to open it in a new tab to get a better look

You’ll notice a few at the bottom that I haven’t shown you yet (seriously I only just finished the maternity maxidress with mere hours to go!), but all the rest can be seen by clicking the Gallery link on the top left of the site, then clicking through to the full article.

To make a few statistical analyses of my own, by my count:

  • I’ve sewn 7 dresses, 18 tops, 8 trousers, 6 skirts, 6 jackets/coats, 2 bras, a ton of panties, and other miscellanea (cat toys, boat stuff, mixer covers, shopping bags, etc!)
  • The number of times I’ve sewn with pattern companies: 15 Burda magazine, 9 KnipMode, 2 Mannequim, 3 Colette Patterns, 3 Jalie, 3 Lekala, 2 La Mia Boutique, 2 Patrones, 2 My Image magazine, 2 vintage, and 1 each from Paco Peralta, Hot Patterns, Vogue, and Christine Jonson (so that’s only one Big Four pattern the entire year! I’m oddly proud of that!)
  • I taught 2 sewing lessons to help 3 friends learn to sew!
  • I’ve sewn gifts for 8(!!) other people (and 3 cats!)
  • I was published this year, with my dress variation instructions in the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook! OMG!