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A crazy cat swimsuit

We’ve got a holiday coming up in September, and despite the destination being decidedly un-beachy (Berlin! By train!), we’ll actually be spending four days entirely in swimsuits while we celebrate four wedding anniversaries at Tropical Islands.

I’ve still got two me-made swimsuits I’m really happy with – this Aztec-print Seamwork one from 2015(!) and the pastel bikini set I made last summer for lounging in our hot tub. But it’s always fun to make something new for a holiday, and since I’ll literally be walking around in my suit for the entire day, I didn’t feel like it was too extravagant to sew some more.

A floral bias top

Happy Friday everyone! I like to buy souvenir fabric whenever I’m travelling, and when I was in Malaga last summer competing in the World Transplant Games I bought one meter of a lovely floral poly satin at a fabric shop we stumbled across in the centre of town.

I’m not usually a floral woman but this digital print really spoke to me for some reason, and now that the weather has warmed up it felt right to cut into it – and what better way to showcase the beautiful photo print than with a little bias top pattern I’d already tested? So I pulled out Burda 6501, which I’d made last summer in a viscose print and worn loads since.

Best Burda magazine patterns of 2017

We’ve reached the end of another year, and another year of my monthly Burda magazine roundups. I started writing these regular reviews back in 2012 as a way of reminding myself of patterns that I’d otherwise just forget after a few months. Back before I had my own pattern business, I even had time to sew some of them (*sobs quietly to self about lack of time*)!

As I know many of you have said how much you enjoy my monthly review posts (and the stats on my website prove as much), I thought I’d refresh all our memories with a completely biased rundown of my favourites from the past year. In some cases, ones I wasn’t so sure on have become much more attractive, and others that I liked at the time have faded. And in the case of a few months, none of them have really stood the test of time (or I was just choosing them because they were the best of a mediocre bunch), so I haven’t included them at all here.

Three woven shell tops

A few months ago it occurred to me that I had a lot of 1 metre cuts of woven fabrics languishing in my stash and that I’d really like to have a good, basic shell top pattern in my arsenal to turn these into wearable woven tees or tanks to wear with jeans or skirts. So it was excellent timing when Colette Patterns re-released their free Sorbetto pattern, and I thought I’d give it a try.

The Sewing Weekender 2017

Sewing retreats are fairly common in America from what I can tell, but up until last year’s inaugural Sewing Weekender, there’d never really been a large scale sewing retreat here in the UK. I was lucky enough to snag a ticket for myself last year, and I had SUCH a great time as a punter that I knew I wanted to go again should Rachel, Kate, and Charlotte plan another one.

Luckily, out of the writing of my book I realised that a lot of the points I made about sewing activewear were also heavily applicable to anyone with a body who moves (so, err, everyone except possibly the comatose) so I approached the organisers months ago saying I’d love to talk about Sewing For Movement at the next event if they were planning one. I’m glad I got in touch early, because as it turns out, this year’s Weekender sold out in under 20 minutes!!

Designer colourblocking inspiration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honing in on a jeans pattern

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday sewing update

Some (rather racy) panties

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

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

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

Burda December cover dress muslin

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

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.

How to line the Burda peplum top

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instructions for a clean-finish lining!

  1. Sew all darts, attach peplum pieces to bodice on the shell, and sew at shoulders (but keep it open at side seams and centre back!), ie: the follow the first few steps of Burda’s instructions, but stop before the zipper insertion!
  2. Do the same for the lining
  3. Sew the sleeve shell pieces & sleeve lining pieces together at the bottom edge of the sleeve. Understitch, then baste around the other (armscyce) edge
  4. Baste the sleeve onto the shell with right sides together (beware of excess ease!! Don’t skip this basting step!)