Category Archives: Burda

Burda 7017 Spring trousers

Burda 7017 trousers

This outfit seems to be telling me spring is in the air – or it was when I took the photos last week, it seems to have dipped back into grey today :( I always seem to be drawn towards lighter, brighter colours as the weather gets nicer. I’ve even dip-dyed my hair lighter to celebrate. Alright, ignore the boring grey (non-me-made) tee, but the trousers are my new pair of Burda 7017s, and I really kinda love them.

Burda 7017 trousers

There are only six pieces to deal with in this pattern, and the fitting and style details are minimal but effective. Yoked slanted side pockets, front pleats, back darts, a button and zip fly… all very straightforward. (View B also contains hem cuffs and belt loops, if you’re inclined.) Sewing them up was fun and easy, and I got most of it done in one Sunday afternoon session.

Burda 7017 trousers
Burda 7017 trousers

I needed no fit alterations besides lowering the rise by about 1.5″ – it’s nearly natural waist height which is too much for casual pants and also unflattering with front pleats. They’re still quite high, but any lower and I’d have to muck about making the waist bigger. I had to angle in the back waist a little to prevent gaping: the directions have you sew this seam last so it’s easy to fix, but I don’t understand why any pattern comes with a straight rectangular waistband: surely that will fit no one with any hint of curves? Next time I’ll draft a curved band using the tips here. On the plus side I didn’t have to fiddle with the leg width or length at all, as I usually do; I really like the fit being loose on the thighs and slimmer down to the ankle.

Burda 7017 trousers

The fabric is Premier Prints’ Cameron, bought from fabric.com. I swear I ordered the twill but seem to have ended up with cotton duck instead. Duck is more often used for home decor makes as it’s tough and non-stretch. I think twill would have been more comfortable, but actually these feel fine too. They also feel nice and rigid so I don’t think they’ll stretch out much.

Burda 7017 trousers

The waistband is doubly interfaced and also cut a little smaller than the pants top and eased in, so I hope it’s not going to bag out. I overlocked all the seams for speed, but next time I’ll flat-fell and topstitch for a more durable, jeans-style finish. The fly front is constructed in a different way to usual: the facings are integrated into the front pattern pieces and turned to the inside, then the zip’s stitched to each side in turn, then the fly shield is stitched on. It seemed to make no sense as I was doing it, but I trusted the instructions and it was actually a really quick method and turned out nice and flat. I have no front-fly fear any more!

Burda 7017 trousers

I can’t wait to make these again, addressing my minor fitting issues to get them perfect. They may well become a TNT (tried ‘n true) pattern for me as I can envisage them in so many different fabrics, colours and patterns, the shape is good for me, and they are a really quick sew. I wore them the day I finished them before I’d even put the button on, and again the next day, which is usually the sign of a winner. Have I sold you on Burda 7017 too?!

Operation knit-stashbust, and overlocker tips

I’m on a bit of a fabric-busting mission at the moment: matching up all my stashed-away fabrics to appropriate patterns and getting them sewn up. I get a bit antsy when there’s too much stuff accumulating in my house, and my fabric pile(s) are getting slightly out of control. I now have a Google spreadsheet so I know exactly what I have and how I want to use it, and I promise I won’t buy any more until it’s significantly reduced. Apart from that Goldhawk Road visit with the Spoolettes last weekend, ahem.

The main things in my stash are printed jerseys (thanks to a few binges at Rolls & Rems, Girl Charlee and Fabulace), and awkward sub-1m pieces left from other projects. Naturally jersey is easier to think of projects for and is also a large component of what I wear day to day, so I’ve been whizzing my way through this pile. I don’t have all that much to say about them though, so I thought I’d dump them all together here. I also thought I’d jot down a few tips for working with knits/an overlocker, in case anyone find it helpful.

Franken-Anna dress

First, a simple elastic-waist frock in a rayon knit from Fabulace. The skirt part is Simplicity 1800 again, like my favourite feather dress, and the bodice is By Hand’s Anna with minor alterations. In retrospect the large geometric print wasn’t the best choice for Anna as it gets chopped up by the waist pleats and you can’t really see the ‘blossoming bust’ detail, but I really just wanted to see if it worked in a knit.

Franken-Anna dress

I had to take a large dart out of the centre back to compensate for the stretchy fabric. Next time I’d do this before actually cutting the piece out, I had to kind of fudge it afterwards. To be honest, this was one of those ‘it’s 9pm on a school night but I really feel like making something NOW’ kind of projects, so it’s a bit rushed and wonky in places, but I still like it a lot. How nice is the green with the black and white? I need more green makes, I think.

Burda 07/11 pants

Next, another pair of Burda 07/2011’s (see more here and here), made in another rayon jersey from Fabulace. Jazzy prints are apparently my Achille’s heel.

Burda 07/11 pants

This time I made a waistband with encased elastic rather than the folded-over ribbing band the pattern recommends. These are basically a copy of a pair of RTW trousers that I wear all the darn time for work-at-home days, and they’re just about outside-acceptable too. Right?!

Hemlock tee

A Grainline Hemlock using some slubby grey knit from Minerva and a scrap of a darker grey. Lovely pattern, takes like an hour, will sew again and again.

Peplum tee

Here’s a peek at what’s been my little project since the new year: a totally self-drafted peplum tee, which I’m going to make available as a free PDF download very soon. I’ve made several during the process of drafting the pattern and think this plain black one is my favourite, even though it was an earlier version and the bust still isn’t quite right. Watch out next week for the pattern release if you like it.

Overlocker tips

Now, here are some of my top tips for working with jerseys, as I know a few people got overlockers for Christmas so might find these useful.

Cutting

Overlocker tips

I use my pleasingly matchy-matchy weights and rotary cutter to cut. I find using scissors and pins can cause distortion and a ‘hacky’ uneven edge, and you want to be as accurate as possible to make life easier when sewing. I only have a small cutting mat, so I have to move it around under the pieces as I cut.

Setting up

Overlocking tips

Buy the big cones of thread in packs of 3 or 4 depending on how many your machine takes (my machine can take 4 but I usually sew with 3). eBay and Jaycotts are good sources, they can be tricky to find in shops. I’ve only ever needed black, white and a medium grey, which seem to blend into nearly everything I’ve made (telling, huh?!), and they last forever – over a year and counting for mine and still nowhere near finished. Rotate the spools often, because the lower loopers use more thread than the upper needles.

Once your machine’s threaded up, you never need rethread it, even when changing colour. Simply snip the threads at the top, tie on the new colour and knot securely. Snip the loose ends short then run the machine in short bursts to pull the threads through, stopping when they get to a tension dial and manually helping them through. You’ll find the lower loopers feed through first as they use up more thread, so I usually run the machine until they are done then pull through the top needle thread manually and rethread the needle (or both needles, if using four threads). This takes under 90 seconds when you’ve done it a few times. Andrea has done a photo tutorial of basically the same technique I use. I can make a video on my process if anyone would find it helpful?!

Sewing

Overlocking kit

If you’re a bit scared of the overlocker, there’s no harm in basting your seams first with a regular sewing machine. Either stitch close to the edge so the stitches are covered by the overlocking, or further in so you can easily pull them out later.

Always do a quick test run on a scrap of fabric before starting each project. Tension can vary quite a bit between different jersey weights.

Sometimes I remove the knife from my overlocker, trim down the seam allowances if necessary (but leaving an allowance the width of the overlocked stitch, in my case about 5mm), and stitch my seams without using the blade to cut off any excess. This can be handy when going around tight corners so you don’t accidentally slice a bit off, and can also create a more stable seam at shoulders as the fabric bunches a little into the stitches. It also means you can unpick and re-sew if you make a mistake!

Unpicking overlocked seams is quite easy – quicker than regular stitching, I think. Here’s a tutorial.

I use Clover wonder clips instead of pins, as I’m terrified of what would happen if I accidentally ran a pin through my overlocker blade *shudders*

A walking foot is a great investment for sewing with knits on your regular machine. Mine is a cheap unbranded snap-on one and does the job fine.

Overlock tips

To finish an edge where an overlocked end is left loose (as opposed to being covered by another seam), I thread the tail ends onto a large darning needle and weave it back into the overlocked seam, cutting after an inch or so and securing with a drop of Fray Check or a small bar tack.

Hemming

Feather dress

My usual technique is to finish the raw edge with the overlocker, fold up once anywhere from 1/2″ (on a sleeve) to 2″ (on a dress hem), press, and stitch directly over the overlocking using a walking foot and zigzag or twin needle stitch. A double-folded up edge can look bulky on some jerseys and affect the drape. You want to catch the very edge, or even tip over, the finished overlocked edge so your seam won’t flip unattractively to the outside. I also love to do a machine blind hem on jersey dresses as it won’t ever flip outside, looks nearly invisible, and doesn’t affect the hang or drape. Press well after stitching.

Neck and cuff bands

Feather dress

I sometimes use this Megan Nielsen technique, which has you stitch the neckband to the inside (wrong side) of the garment, then press to the outside and topstitch. This has the benefit of giving a bit of stability, but can look a bit poor in lighter or loopy knits as the topstitches will just sink in. Or you can sew a band straight to the right side and press upwards, like this tutorial.

Grey flannel shirt for Josh

Josh's shirt

Just one last make for 2013, since he’s wearing it today so I could snap some photos. This was one of my Christmas presents for Josh, another shirt using Burda’s Jakob pattern, in a lovely grey brushed flannel.

Josh's shirt

He’s been wearing his first shirt loads this winter so I felt he deserved another one for Christmas. Lest you think I’m ever so selfless making him two shirts by the way, I actually – shh – really enjoy the process of sewing button-down shirts. I don’t often wear them myself (though I do have an Archer in the pipeline), so I’m quite happy to labour away on some selfless sewing if it also means indulging my inner precision-sewist from time to time.

Josh's shirt

I used the same pattern at last timeBurda’s Jakob – since I knew it would fit without needing him to try it on and ruin the surprise. I just took in the side seams a tiny bit for a slimmer, smarter look since the first one was designed to go over t-shirts so is a little boxier.

Josh's shirt

The fabric is from Dalston Mill. I’m not entirely sure what it is: it must be a poly/cotton blend as it’s happy in the washer and dryer and does not crease much, and it’s got a diagonal weave pattern like denim but a peachy-soft brushed finish like a flannel. (Locals, Dalston Mill also have a few ex-Hobbs suitings and wools which are really dreamy. I nearly bought one for this shirt but it was 2.5 times the price of this one!) Whatever it is, it was very nice to sew with and behaved much better than the thick wool from the first one.

Josh's shirt

Construction was dead straightforward the second time round, especially using a lighter fabric. I did a slightly different pocket design to keep it interesting for myself, based on Jen Grainline’s tutorial, and also put in proper cuff plackets.

Josh's shirt

I used the Threads downloadable pattern for the plackets but with the Colette Hawthorn tutorial, as I found it made for a more precise result in fewer steps. They are still not exactly perfect and should be shorter, but I was a bit up against it with time so couldn’t redo them. Next time they’ll be better! As before, the buttons and buttonholes are all machine stitched – such a timesaver.

Alright that’s me over and out for 2013. I already have some really exciting sewing stuff planned for next year, including my first 100% self-drafted pattern which I’ve been working away on since Christmas. I’m going to digitise and give away, so hope you like it! Until then, happy new year.

Minerva Network: Houndstooth X-shape dress

Houndstooth knit dress

Finally it’s time to share my first make for the Minerva Blogger Network! I finished it a little while ago but had to keep it quiet until my place in the schedule. You can pop over to Minerva’s site to see my blog there and buy the kit to make your own, or read on for details of the pattern and fabric…

Houndstooth knit dress

The pattern is Burda 7034: X-shape dress. I suppose it’s called that because it’s well fitted at the waist and then kicks dramatically out, with a strong shoulder too. The pattern also features a peplum blouse option but I can’t imagine it flattering many people, especially in shiny purple satin (Quality Street, anyone?). I looked past the pattern envelope’s taffeta Tin Man stylings of the main dress too: I know we’re starting to get into the festive season, but that’s no excuse to dress like a bauble.

Houndstooth knit dress

The fabric I chose is a gorgeous grey and black dogtooth/houndstooth ponte knit. This fabric is so nice to work with and wear: it cuts cleanly with no distorting or fraying, sews without puckering, holds the pleats of this pattern crisply yet feels comfy like a sweater. I kind of love it, in case you couldn’t tell. Even the back side is pretty, with a dark grey marl kind of effect, which I managed to show off a little in my version of the dress.

Houndstooth knit dress

The pattern is really nicely drafted and a quick, fun to sew. I must say, I like Burda printed patterns much more than the print-at-home ones as the instructions are so much better. The fit across the bodice, back and sleeves was pretty spot on with no adjustments, so I’ll certainly be using this pattern as a basis for some variations. I cut the size slightly under my measurements as I was working with a stretch, and it’s still got maybe an inch of ease at the waist.

Houndstooth knit dress

The skirt is really full thanks to very deep box pleats. I couldn’t believe how wide the pattern pieces were while cutting them! It creates lovely movement in the skirt.

Houndstooth knit dress
Houndstooth knit dress
Houndstooth knit dress
There are three-quarter and bracelet length sleeve options – I kept mine long but plan to wear them rolled back. Nice to have the option if my wrists get chilly, though. On the neckline I cut a little more of a scoop and used Megan Nielsen’s binding technique to finish it with the reverse of the fabric out. I think the dashes of dark grey help to offset all the loud print.

Houndstooth knit dress

The pattern calls for an invisible zip but I used a chunky exposed one – Minerva sells these too. I didn’t really need one at all due to the stretch in my fabric but I like the effect.

Houndstooth knit dress

More details: It’s got side seam pockets which are stitched down along the waistband so sit nice and flat under the pleats. The sleeve has an elbow dart which I’ve never seen before. I suppose it’s more useful with a stiff fabric like taffeta, I can’t particularly see the benefit in my knit fabric. The bodice is supposed to be lined but it wasn’t necessary with my fabric choice. I shortened the skirt by, er, a lot – almost a foot? I prefer a shorter skirt with tights and I didn’t want the houndstooth to be too jarring over a large area. I did a machine blind hem like usual, which seems to help the pleats lay flat all the way down.

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Well, gotta say I’m pretty pleased with my first make for Minerva and I think this pattern and fabric are a good match, making for a cosy but on-trend winter day dress. If you fancy having a go you can pick up the kit on Minerva here. Hope you like it too!

Storm smock

Storm dress

Just sharing an easy Sunday sew, a smoky smock-y dress made as the storm started to appropriately brew outside (which kind of turned out to be a damp squib, in my area anyway.). One of those makes where I bought the fabric with a ~vision~, washed it immediately, cut out while still slightly damp and had the thing finished by the next night. Anyone else do that or just obsessive me?

Storm dress

I found the fabric in Rolls & Rems in Lewisham on Saturday. We were down in the area meeting friends at Brockley market so I skipped down the road afterwards. It was pretty good, though actually I think my local Holloway one has better stock. Yes, it’s basically tie-dye denim, the description of which conjures up a vision of an 80s nightmare – but this is a subtle one in moody shades of grey and just £5.60/m. I was happy to find it as I’d been planning a copycat of this Motel dress for a while (without the nasty lace-up back) and this stuff is a decent match.

Storm dress

It’s basically a fitted bodice from a Burda pattern in my stash together with a simple gathered rectangle for the skirt, closed with an invisible zip up the back. Not exactly a taxing exercise.

Storm dress
Storm dress

The sleeves are left elbow length and rolled up, the hem is a machine blind, and the neckline is serged then twin-needled. These are fast becoming my favourite finishing techniques: a superb combo of being fairly quick yet pretty pro-looking and easy to wear and care for.

Storm dress

I’m pretty happy with this quick and cheap make overall: the fit could be a bit better across the shoulders and neckline – you can see here it gapes a bit – but it works as an easy autumn frock.

Plaid wool shirt for Josh

Shirt for Josh

I finally got Josh’s shirt finished up, just in time for his birthday yesterday — I actually sewed on the final buttons and made him pose on the very day. I think we’re both pretty happy with how it turned out.

Shirt for Josh
Shirt for Josh
Shirt for Josh

(Excuse all the cat hair and dust, it needs a spin in the wash.) I used the Burda Jakob pattern, a semi-fitted style with a full stand collar, buttoned cuffs, curved hem and chest pocket. As I mentioned before, Josh picked out the wool plaid when I bought the fabric for my coat from Dalston Mill. It was quite pricey, so I made sure to take my time and do a good job with it.

Shirt for Josh

I made a toile out of cheap polycotton first to check everything made sense and that the fit was right. Not many adjustments were needed from the medium size, just shortening the body and sleeves a little (I took most of it from the cuffs since my client wanted them narrower anyway) and reducing the ridiculous Seventies-disco collar considerably.

Shirt for Josh

The construction was really quite fun as well as satisfyingly challenging in parts. The pattern is perfectly drafted and unusually for Burda the instructions are clear and thorough, with photos and diagrams throughout. I especially enjoyed the really nerdy details like matching the checks, careful pressing and topstitching and doing neat mock flat-felled seams throughout. I would have liked to do true flat-felled seams inside for a really pro finish, but they proved tricky in this fabric.

Shirt for Josh

I supplemented the instructions with some of the Archer sewalong steps and Andrea’s superb alternative method for setting in a collar which worked a treat. I redid the collar once because I overcompensated and cut the first one too narrow, and also omitted the interfacing from it the second time since it was pretty thick anyway. The buttons on the tips are nonfunctional, they’re just stitched down.

Shirt for Josh

The wool plaid Josh chose pressed and stitched up nicely, but its thickness and frayability did make the construction a bit more challenging. The collar stand, cuffs and shoulder seams are rather chunky because I was nervous to clip too much, though a bit of steam-pressing helped it settle down. I think there’s 8+ layers around the armsyce where the yoke and sleeve join which my poor machine really struggled with. All the raw edges inside are either concealed or overlocked so I feel good that it won’t fall apart in a hurry anyway.

Shirt for Josh

I used my buttonhole foot for the first time for all the functional buttons: together with the one-step program on my machine it makes them sooo easy. I’ll be buttoning all the things from now on! I used the machine to stitch the buttons on too, just going very slowly on a short, wide zigzag setting. Totally worked, even if it probably isn’t the done thing.

Shirt for Josh

This is definitely the most precise and well-made garment I’ve made so far, probably because I was making for a harsher critic than myself (not that Josh is harsh, I’m just pretty lax) and I really wanted to make a shirt he would love and wear often. It seemed to take forever compared to my usual makes – about ten sessions over about a month – but I quite liked the change of pace. I even put the speed limiter on my machine, and I can see the difference in neatness and accuracy when I go slower. Definitely a lesson learned going forward. I’d like to make him another shirt in a lighter fabric like a flannel, now that I know this pattern is a good fit and fun to sew.