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The Burda trench jacket

I’m so pleased to finally show you the first piece from my Fall 2011 sewing aspirations – the trench jacket!

As you recall, I was restricted in my pattern choice since I bought the last 2.5 yards of this waterproof gabardine from Mood when we were in NYC last Fall, but in the end I settled on Burda 02-2009-112. The gabardine feels great – it’s not coated with anything and it doesn’t feel plasticky – it’s just that the weave is so tight that water beads on it! Perfect for London!

This is a Burda Petite pattern, but the only change I needed to make to the muslin was to lengthen the sleeves! I’ve been busy sewing this in tiny increments over the past few weeks because I’ve been so busy, and you can see that we had to squeeze in this photoshoot after work, too!

I really love the overall shape of this totally curvy jacket, but I especially love the pleated back vent, which was surprisingly very easy to sew! I cut the same pieces in the lining, and I cleverly waited to sew the diagonal topstitching to keep the folds in place until after the lining was in so the two layers stay together nicely.

The John Deere shirt

So following on from my high class, designer escapades last week, I’ve now got something a little more, err, salt of the earth to show you. I’ve taken to calling this the “Appalachian Wedding Shirt” (and being from Perry County, PA, I’m allowed to say that!), but it’s also a gift of a gift, and I love when I can do that.

The (officially licensed!) John Deere quilting cotton was a gift from my friend Sharon, who bought it at her local Amish fabric store and presented it as a gag gift in my stack of fabrics that made up our wedding gift. John Deere is a completely unknown brand amongst my circle of friends in central London, but we knew our friend Simon would love this, and he travels all around the world on business so we knew it’d get seen a lot, too.

I paired this with Simplicity 5273 (now Out Of Print), which I’ve made many, many times for James in various guises and it’s my go-to pattern for a quick and easy button-down casual shirt for him.

You may remember Simon from the quickest pirate coat ever (and yes, he still wears it!). But this shirt has been a mental project for almost a year now, since Simon was overheard at our wedding complaining to other friends how “it’s not fair that James just picks out any fabric he wants and Melissa makes it into a shirt for him!”. ha! So we thought this would be perfect for him…

James’s first reaction when he saw the finished shirt was “It’s horrible! Simon will love it!”.


(Apologies for the mobile phone photos!)

A functional KitchenAid mixer cover

Back in March, I joined the ranks of the middle class aspirational home cooks when James bought me a KitchenAid mixer for my birthday. I asked for (and received!) yes, a white one, because, while I like the red ones, they’re totally not worth £100 more just for the colour! Anyway, we were finally able to rearrange our tiny galley space to accommodate it so I finally broke it out of the box to make macarons last weekend.

The macarons were a resounding success (I also discovered the sole thing on earth that’s tastier than macarons – macaron batter!), but the only storage space for the mixer is out in the open, so I needed to sew a cover for it, lest I have to wash the dust off it every time I want to use it!

I was feeling supremely lazy, so rather than measure it myself, I just used the
tutorial and pattern here to sew up a really quick cover.

I made a few changes from the above site, though, the main being that mine is not quilted (it’s not like the mixer needs to stay warm!), and mine has a seam at the top since my print is directional and I didn’t want upside-down people on one side.

A plum tulip top and seamed silver trousers

I’m finally over my post-wardrobe exhaustion and able to sew again, so I carried on with my March mini-wardrobe plans and made the seamed trousers from KnipMode Oct 2010 (#8):

(hmm, why are they covering the waistband in their only magazine photo?)

I also thought I was due a “quick knit top” so I pulled out Jalie 2806 (a gift from LynnRowe on PR!) so I could try out those fantastic tulip sleeves, with the thought of maybe using them on the spring/summer version of my Burda September cover dress

I had just enough of Ditto‘s wonderfully soft and supple plum bamboo/lycra jersey leftover from my plum and green lace top for this, so it was clearly meant to be! For the trousers I used the same Fabric.com stretch twill as in my navy riding trousers, though in different lights this goes from looking pale grey (nice!) to baby blue (not so nice!). But the combo of pale trousers and dark top feels very Spring-like to me.

Rose and lace teeshirt

It’s absolutely freezing in London and I really need more long-sleeved knits, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to use this pattern from KnipMode Dec 2005 with a yard of rose jersey from Fabric.com and some of my gorgeous cream stretch lace that I bought in Paris. Et voila! A raglan-look lacey long sleeved teeshirt (Lace but without the Brrrrrr!).

This is a really basic long-sleeved teeshirt pattern, but with lines drawn in from the neckline to the side seams on the front and back. I left off the weird cuffs (in fact, I just reused the sleeve from my drape-front dress because I’m lazy like that and don’t see the point in tracing an identical sleeve again!), and decided to create my own neck binding which I serged on and then coverstitched down.

KnipMode blue draped collar dress

As you read last week, I was so inspired by the December KnipMode issue that the day after I received it, I traced out dress #11, the following night bought the navy blue cotton lycra jersey and cut out the fabric, and then sewed this dress last Saturday!

This dress has got some really unique construction – the two front skirt pieces meet at the centre front to form a collar, which then goes up and around your head and comes back down to join the centre front again. Everything is sewed together, though, so there’s no chance of gaping!

The other great thing about this dress is that they’ve chosen this pattern to have the big, illustrated instructions for this issue! So you really only need to sew the shoulder seams and centre back (if you didn’t cut it on the fold like me), follow their illustrations for that really unique scarf collar, waist, neckline, and centre front, and then after the illustrations attach the sleeves, sew the side seams, and do the hems! So what could’ve been a really complicated pattern is actually made fairly straightforward. Yay! Thanks, Knip! (You can download those big illustration in colour pdfs on Knip’s site, too!)

The bad weather and early nights may have kept me from taking photos of me in the dress earlier, but we had a mammoth photoshoot session yesterday so there’s lots to show!

Quick and summery dotted top

Did you guess which knit top was my first off the starting block? Well, it’s not an obvious choice, but I already had KnipMode July 2010 #4 (upper left corner, in purple) traced out so it was easy to just grab it and go.

The dotty cotton/lycra knit fabric was an add-on from Chawla’s to get the minimum order value while I was buying the flannel underlining for my wedding gown. I bought one metre of it for £3.85 so this was a ridiculously cheap blouse, even for high street standards!

There’s a slight change from the tech drawing though – there’s a CF (centre front) seam on the band that’s not noted. It means the band and facing are cut on the fold so there’s no understitching, but the trade-off is that you get that seam.

Honeymoon Lingerie – nightgown muslin

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

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

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

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

Black Beignet skirt and a bias cowl top

It feels like I’ve been talking about sewing the Colette Patterns Beignet skirt for ages now, but it’s mostly because I’ve just been so busy with life (running, socialising, wedding planning, the boat, and my garden, mostly) right now that I’ve been sewing in tiny increments here and there! But it’s finally complete, and I even managed to sew up the bias cowl top from Patrones 292 (#19) to wear with it!

Even though these go so well together, I’ve actually got no shortage of other things in my wardrobe to wear with either, so there’s no “orphan coordinates” here! And I managed to sneak some mustard and navy into my wardrobe a bit earlier than I’d planned, too!

Springtime Heidi dress

I’ve been doing so many bits and pieces over the last fortnight, between making and fitting the bridesmaids’ dresses, doing some experimental pattern drafting, and a huge amount of gardening that it feels like I started sewing BurdaStyle’s Heidi dress months ago! It really didn’t take very long to sew at all, it was more that I was doing in in small chunks around everything else that made it last so long from start to finish!

I bought this brushed cotton fabric in Brighton last June for (a rather expensive for me) £10/m, but I liked the print too much to care. I also lined this with a silk/cotton voile from Goldhawk Road which makes it really airy and lightweight for spring and summer.