The One Hour Cowl tee

First of all, thank you so much for all your comments and suggestions regarding my draped jacket! The consensus seems to be a) try it with skinny trousers, and b) shorten the sleeves at the very least, but I definitely need to take some time away from it before I can contemplate working on it again.

I think you can also predict what came next – a quick knit top! This top was particularly medicinal because last Saturday I’d already sewn up Holly’s maternity coat muslin, then done a bunch of overtime work from home, cut more insulation on the boat, and I found myself about 4pm with a totally frazzled brain and not quite sure what to do with myself.

So I went with my gut instinct, and started tracing the MyImage cowl tee (M1152 from the Fall/Winter 2011 issue)!

This fabric was a gift from Marie-Christine when we visited her in Toulouse at Easter. It’s a viscose(?) jersey printed (or actually, bleached, since the reverse is black!) to look like lace! I’m not a big “prints” person in general, but I’m such a sucker for a trompe l’oeil print, and you already know my love of lace!

There was only 1 metre of this, though, so it’s a good thing it has 2-way stretch since I had to fit the sleeves on the cross grain! If this was just a crosswise-stretch fabric I don’t think I would’ve been able to fit it in…

This pattern really is the essence of simplicity – there’s only three pattern pieces (four if you count the back facing, but I just used a rectangle of fabric instead), and the title of this post is no exaggeration – from tracing to cutting to sewing to wearing it took me only an hour! This really was just the pick-me-up I needed after the long-running draped suit project…

A super quick sparkly cowl top

Happy new year everyone, and a big welcome to everyone who’s visiting for the first time after reading my “Personal Best” article in this month’s SewNow magazine (issue 3)! I realised when I was putting together my end of year roundup that I had a fairly ridiculous amount of unblogged projects from the final few weeks of the year, so I’ll be sharing these with you throughout January.

A silver cowl top

You saw some photos of this top on Susan a week or so ago, but I’ve finally had the opportunity to do a proper photoshoot and not freeze!

If you recall, I out this MyImage cowl top pattern before we went to Mexico, thinking I might have enough time to quickly sew it up before we left. I would have, too, if I hadn’t decided I needed to make that quick travel bag. It was still waiting for me when I got back to cold, grey London, mocking me with its sleeveless-ness. I finally just sewed it up so I could have the space back in my sewing room, though I’m afraid I won’t really get to wear this until next year.

I made it out of some absolutely glitter-tastic jersey I bought at Tissue Reine in Paris a few years back, and it wasn’t cheap €12.99/m. So it was even more disappointing that it left a trail of silver all over my sewing room… Boo.

It might be hard to see, but there’s princess seams in the front and back even though this is a knit top – there are also facings for all the pieces apart from the centre front, where there’s a fold-on facing.

How to finish a cowl neckline

As promised yesterday, here’s a really cool technique I used to sew the shoulder seams and get a clean finish at the neckline of my MyImage cowl tee (M1152 from the Fall/Winter 2011 issue) all in one go.

It’s a variation of “the burrito method”, and you can use it on any top where you’ve got a facing on one side, and a folded edge on the other. So it doesn’t have to be cowl necks, it’ll also work for surplice or wrap necklines with a self-facing, too!

This comes fairly early in the construction of your garment, but by this point you should have already sewn your facing (in this case, my back neck facing) to the body of the garment (the back here), right sides together. You should also stabilise your shoulder seams, either by using Vilene bias tape like I have, or with strips of knit interfacing or clear elastic – whatever your preferred method is!

In my example, I’ve got a back neck facing which is a separate piece, and a folded (ie: integrated) facing on the front.


Step 1. Pin the shoulder seams together from the shoulder edge to the back facing stitching line, right sides together. Keep the front facing and the back facing out flat (ie: don’t pin them!)

Pucci playtime cowl neck top

This weekend I finally got a chance to properly play with my new toy and whip up a few knit tops to see what this baby could do!

First up was BurdaStyle’s Sadie top (with the added cowl neck) using some lovely Pucci-esque printed knit which you may remember from last Spring’s tunic top. I was really just keen to use up the stash fabric on something very quick and easy, and also in case something went horribly wrong on my first serger attempt and the whole thing became a wadder!

Luckily no such thing happened and I got a decent summer top after an hour or two…

Navy blue Pattern Magic "Jutting Edge" dress

I drafted a few patterns over the summer on the Morley College course based on the Pattern Magic: Stretch Fabrics book, this design included. To be perfectly honest, the photos in the book do absolutely nothing for me, so I flipped right past it when reading it on my own:

But the instructor, Moni, saw its potential, and thought that it might be nice in a softer jersey. She was totally right! The sample that was made on the course in similar, lightweight jersey had a chic cowl effect, but without a low neck like you normally get to achieve a cowl.

So I’d been meaning to make this all year, but finally unearthed my pattern pieces on Christmas Eve day, when I fancied sewing something quick that wasn’t workout gear for a change!

The pattern here is essentially just a long teeshirt dress, but with an added very wide (180 degrees!) dart that runs from shoulder to abdomen. It means that it’s a bit of a pain to draft, but extremely quick and easy to sew. On the course, I’d thought ahead and brought my own knit sloper so not only did I draft this to my body (at the time, anyway), but I also kept the armscye unchanged here so I could easily add sleeves!

The current Sewing Queue

I’ve found myself at the end of yet another extraordinarily busy week, one where we’ve been out pretty much every single night, and we’ve had a friend over from the States, too. However, I have managed to make progress, albeit slow, on my swirl sheath dress in a series of 10 minute segments snatched here and there.

Since I bought my silver stretch lining fabric on Goldhawk Road last Saturday, I’ve managed to sew and press all the darts (the lining uses the original base pattern so no swirls inside), attach it to the facings, sew the side seam, and attach it to the invisible zipper.

Here’s the back of the dress hanging flat in my sewing cave:

I did the lining hem by machine, but the coral fabric hem needs doing by hand, possibly in the car this weekend. The right side strap also needs a little bra keeper snap strap to keep it in place as it’s a pinch too long. Otherwise it’s done!

It doesn’t quite fit as well as the muslin did when I made it last summer though, but that’s down to me rather than the pattern – I’ve got a big track race next weekend in Sheffield for the British Transplant Games and my trainer has put me on a training diet to shed as much excess weight as possible before the race, as this translate directly into seconds on the track.

She and I were both taken aback by how successful this has been – I’ve lost 4cm (1.5 inches) off my waist and hips and 4.5kg (10lb) in four weeks! If it wasn’t for the hours of running up hills I’d suggest she sell it as a diet plan (the running would reduce its popularity somewhat!). And really, don’t be concerned, as I’ve been stuffing my face with fruit and veggies and lean meats pretty much continuously all month, so I’m not on some idiotic juice cleanse starvation diet or something.

The downside of this is that all my trousers and skirts are hanging off me (my poor Beignet skirt has a cinched paper bag waist now!) and I’m in desperate need of new bottoms. I was planning on sewing up a few pieces for our upcoming Mexico trip next month(!!) but now it’s clear I need to sew as many bottoms as possibly and just pack tops I’ve got already.

I’m still mentally putting together a nice travel wardrobe plan (which I shall reveal in good time), but my immediate sewing plans are thus:

Burda Classics magazine FW 2012 (& MyImage sale!)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Burda magazine October 2012

The last two issues of Burda have been so spectacular that it was always going to be a hard act for poor October to follow, and it’s gotten a bit of a kicking online for so many lazy, square, and shapeless designs. Indeed, I couldn’t find anything to like in two entire features (the Pastels one and the Hippie-Outdoorsy Crappe one), but there was enough in the “New Sophistication” feature alone (photographed with the dressmakers dummies, see below) to justify this issue’s existence to me!

So let’s skip right to the afore-mentioned “New Sophistication” feature, shall we?

I’m not entirely sure why, as it’s wholly impractical, but I really like this long, wool waistcoat (which reminds me of the Sept 2010 jacket that was way too big and boxy). There’s another version in this magazine that’s longer and has integrated long, ponte knit sleeves, too. I know my arms get chilly before the rest of me, so a body warmer really isn’t very practical for me, but the addition of sleeves, well, that changes everything!

This surplice top is nice but nothing new (I’ve seen this design at least 3-4 times in Burdas over the years), and I even quite like the quirky “hip wrap”, which is somewhere between a kimono-belt and a waist pack. It’s definitely a good use for those odd-sized scraps of coatings and leather I’ve got lying around!

I like this cowl top but I hate how Burda flattens these to one side though, ugh! let the cowl free! These high-waisted, slim legged trousers would also be a great wardrobe staple.

KnipMode March & April 2012

The past few months of KnipMode have been so lacklustre that I’ve decided they no longer deserve their own post each month. Yeah, take that, Knip! So I’ve joined the last two months together here in an attempt to find a few diamonds amongst the turds…

March 2012

I really like the seaming on this suede jacket. It’s a different take on the general “waterfall cardigan” design that’s been ubiquitous in the past few years.

Oh dear. Those are some serious “Mom jeans” and they’re not helped by the awful styling and piercing blue denim shade…