Burda 7017 in cupro silk

I’ve had this lovely fabric earmarked for trousers for ages, and I dug out an old pattern to make ’em happen. They are Burda 7017, which are amongst some of the earliest trouser projects I ever tackled a few years ago, and now unfortunately seems to be out of print. I wouldn’t exactly say it’s embarrassing to look back at those earlier garments, but it was nice to revisit this pattern with all I’ve learned about fit, technique and fabric choices since then and see the improvements.

Having said that though, I averted a near-disaster on this pair when, after executing a lovely fly front completely from memory, I sewed up the side seams and found that I could barely squeeze myself into them. I don’t think I’ve gained a great deal of weight in the intervening years but perhaps I previously traced the pattern with extra safety seam allowance that never made it back to the paper pattern. Whoops.

After sulking for a bit I unpicked and re-sewed every single seam – inner and outer leg, the centre back and centre front below the fly – with a tiny little seam allowance, basically right next to the overlocked edge. That provided just enough extra room to allow them to fit, albeit a little slimmer than I was shooting for. I still don’t think I’ll feel too confident cycling in them in case it puts too much strain on those tiny seam allowances and they split open, but at least they feel comfortable and I can move in them.

I think the fabric makes this pair quite special and is the main reason why I was so relieved to save the fit: it’s a cupro-silk from the famous stall outside Sainsbury’s in Walthamstow market. I bought it over a year ago on a shopping trip with some other sewers; Marilla made up her Bennett dress pattern in it. I’m not sure if ‘cupro silk’ means that it’s a fibre blend or a cupro designed to look like silk, but it’s the most beautiful terracotta colour with a sort of dimensional shimmer and a slightly slubby texture, feels deliciously cool and floppy to wear, and was a dream to work with. I don’t think I’ll find fabric of this nature easily again unfortunately though I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out.

I tried out a little tweak I wanted to test based on some ready-to-wear trousers that I love of inserting elastic into the back waistband to maintain a snug, flexible fit at the waistline. To do this I eliminated the darts from the pants back and added their takeup to the length of the waistband, then stitched in some 1″ non-roll elastic before sealing up the inner waistband. It worked out great so I’m going to retrospectively add elastic to my old black cotton 7017s that have stretched out and become too baggy at the waist, which will help ping them back to life.

Final guts shots to show the waistband, that lovely fly front, and those tiny seams…

A hacky Named outfit

A new little summery outfit of two simple separates, both of which are hacked from Named patterns that I’ve sewn before.

The trousers are the Ninni culottes, sewn up in a lush indigo crinkle rayon that the Fabric Store kindly sent to me. The only thing I changed from my first pair was to convert the pockets from side seam into front yoked. I just can’t stand the way side seam pockets add bulk and flap around, and these yoked ones are actually much easier to prep and sew so it’s win-win. Here’s a quick tute; you can prepare paper pieces or cut these straight onto your fabric.

1. Cut a rectangle for the pocket bag/facing, approximately 16″ wide by 11″ long. The width will be 2x the width of the final pocket bag and the length will be the final length of the pocket.
2. Lay the rectangle on top of your front trouser piece, right sides together and matching the side seam and waistline to the rectangle edges. Cut a curved or straight line through both pieces at the trouser side seam edge. This will be the pocket opening. Mine starts about 3″ in from the edge at the top and is 7″ long.
3. Sew this pocket opening seam using a small (5mm or so) seam allowance. Clip if necessary to release curves, press seam allowances to the pocket facing piece, and understitch.
4. Fold the pocket bag in half, lining up with the trouser waistline and side seam. Sew and finish the bottom edge of the pocket bag, then baste the top and sides to the front trouser leg. Construct the rest of the pattern as written.

The blouse is a rather more extreme hack of the Reeta shirt dress. I wonder when a pattern stops being a hack and becomes essentially a self-draft?! To make this kimono-sleeved blouse from the dress pattern I:

· Merged the back yoke onto the back body piece
· Altered the shoulder seam so it wasn’t forward-facing (took some off the back piece and added to the front)
· Extended the shoulder line to create grown-on cap sleeves
· Drafted a new back facing piece to finish the back neckline
· Left off the collar piece as I did with my previous dress
· Rotated/closed the front bust dart down into added ease, which I then trimmed away from the side seam
· Cut the body and facings off about 14″ below the underarm

I’m considering this a wearable toile, as this space-print fabric (from The Textile Centre) was an impulse buy that isn’t really in my usual style stratosphere but I just couldn’t resist it. Next time I’ll raise the kimono sleeve line an extra half-inch or so as they’re a little bit snug. Otherwise I think this hack came out rather cute, and it didn’t take very long despite the amount of steps. I was sort of more in the mood for drafting than sewing so it was a nice project to try out some advanced hacking.


Tropical NL 6493

Summer wedding season has opened, and this is a New Look 6493 jumpsuit I made for the first occasion. I really like this final garment, but I did have some difficulties getting there with the pattern!

I didn’t toile or make any prior adjustments because I thought the pattern’s princess seams would give a chance to fine-tune fit as I went. I cut a smaller size in the bodice than the trousers after checking out the finished garment measurements, but the bodice still turned out way too large and flashed an alarming amount of skin! Upon re-checking the line art on the back of the pattern envelope you can see the back is intentionally drafted very low, but it was also baggy under the arms and on the wrap front too. The ease and wrap is necessary to let you pull on the jumpsuit without fastenings, but personally I think it would have been very difficult to wear as drafted, so it seems a poor design decision. (Also what’s with the random knit crop-top pattern included? Are you supposed to wear that underneath?!)

I ended up fixing it by overlapping both the front and back a couple of inches more than patterned, hiking up the straps a considerable amount and taking in the side seams, then lightly gathering the trouser waistband in the newly-smaller bodice so they still lined up. I put a little safety pin through the front neckline to keep it in place and could also do the same in the back, however for the wedding I just left it loose and cowl-like (and went braless!).

At least the fabric was well-behaved, a lovely lightweight poly crepe from Minerva, and the print hides where I had to fudge around with the fit on the bodice, hah.

This was really nice to wear to a warm evening wedding: the elastic waist meant it was super comfortable and even braless I felt very secure in the top after all the tweaks. I’m not sure I’ll make this pattern up again as I don’t think the bodice design is worth tinkering with to fix and the very low back means it’d be difficult to wear in the daytime (I might try layering a tee under it though). However I do really like the fit in the trousers – especially the single-piece pockets which were deep enough to hold my phone and cards so no bag required, hurrah – so I might splice on a simpler cami bodice for more summery jumpsuit fun.

La Maison Victor: Dolores skirt

Today I’m the first stop-off on a blog tour for DutchBelgian sewing magazine La Maison Victor, to promote the launch of the magazine in an English edition – hurrah! Each blogger on the tour, covering Australia, the UK, USA and Canada, received a copy of the magazine and selected a project to make up.


Previously only printed in Dutch and French, I have actually bought a couple of copies of La Maison Victor from the continent before because it’s got such a nice fresh, modern aesthetic. This inaugural English edition is no exception; above is a list of all the patterns that come included in this issue.

If you’ve been put off sewing from pattern mags because of thoughts of the dreaded Burda tracing sheets of nightmares, La Maison Victor thankfully provides a much more user-friendly experience. Yes, you still need to trace off as the pieces overlap, but each pattern is extremely well-labelled with which pieces you need and which sheets to find them on, and the pieces are additionally colour-coded per pattern so it’s really foolproof.

I went over the lines for my size in black marker to make them show up better, then traced onto dot-and-cross paper; it didn’t take long at all. The sheets aren’t huge, which does mean some pattern pieces span two sheets and need to be taped together, but this size is much easier to manage when tracing in a small apartment.

Also unlike Burda, every pattern has comprehensive and nicely-illustrated instructions. I didn’t really follow them as the project I chose is pretty simple but they are there to fall back on if needed. All the usual fabric and sizing recommendations are here too.

I chose to make the Dolores skirt pattern, a midi-length button-through skirt with an A-line shape and gathers into a fixed waistband. It was a super speedy afternoon type of make! I did make a couple of tweaks to the pattern: I narrowed the waistband a little and added some curve to it, as straight-cut wider waistbands don’t sit well on my frame. I also took about 4 inches off the length, and left off the pockets as I thought they might add unwanted bulk, although the pattern does include a way to anchor them into the front waistband which always help stop side-seam pockets from flapping about.

The pattern pieces all matched up perfectly and the only real fitting to do here is at the waist. I always seem to overshoot and make fixed waistbands a bit too large; I shifted over the top button here to make it snugger, hence the slight twisting, but I will go back and do a better fix; perhaps adding some elastic into the back waistband to keep it snug.

I used The Fabric Store‘s Clover rayon crepe which they kindly sent me to try out a while ago. Poor-quality versions of this crinkly, springy sort of crepe can shift off-grain if you even look at them funny (or worse, be PRINTED off-grain so you’ve got no chance at all), but luckily this one was very well-behaved and I was able to keep the print pretty much aligned. I double-interfaced the waistband to keep it firm, along with the button band, and had to trim along the hem to even up where it dropped on the bias at the sides. Otherwise it was very easy to work with and perfect for this pattern: it’s so light and swishy!

The Maison Victor site and online shop will be launching in English soon; for now you can buy the magazine online here (along with individual patterns and fabric kits) and find in in selected supermarkets and WH Smiths. I look forward to seeing projects from the other makers on this tour – including fellow Brits Thrifty Stitcher, Handmade Jane and Petite Passions coming up this week – and seeing more patterns from this mag in the future!

Faux jumpsuit

Oooh, this weekend’s project is one of my favourites for a while. It’s a fake jumpsuit, i.e. actually separates made up in the same fabric – Named’s Ninni culottes mashed up with Grainline’s Tiny Pocket Tank.


I wasn’t going to buy the Ninni pattern as it’s so simple and I’ve hacked this sort of wide elastic-waist pant before, but I just love their drafting and it was only 10 euros for the PDF. I was glad for the purchase as everything about the drafting is just right for me: the rise, width, waistband etc. I’m happy to pay 10 euros for someone else to deliver me what I want!

Sewing them up was fast and easy, except the part where I dozily sewed the back to back and front to front at the side seams instead of a back to a front, and had to unpick it all, on BOTH legs. Don’t sew when hungover, kids.

I was going to be extra-lazy and graft the leg pieces together as the outer side seam is pretty much straight, but decided I wanted the inseam pockets. I’ve tacked across the pocket top and bottom to try and keep them facing forwards.

The Tiny Pocket pattern doesn’t seem to be available any more; it was Grainline’s first-ever downloadable pattern and I assume the Willow tank has replaced it in the line-up. It’s a real nice well-drafted basic so I’m glad to have it in my PDF stash.

Guts shot; I’m proud I got the binding so neat and flat because this fabric was so difficult to press. I actually self-drafted an all-in-one facing but didn’t have enough fabric left to cut it and no suitable plain stash fabric; there was only just enough left to cut a few bias strips! I sewed the armhole binding flat before French-seaming the side seams, and the neckline binding was done in the round.

The fabric is a poly crepe from Minerva Crafts. Their description of it is spot on: it’s a dream to sew with (apart from not taking a press very well), has a little comfy stretch, is pretty much opaque but very lightweight with a wonderful drape. I love it! I got my culottes and top out of the two metres with very little scraps to spare.

I’m thrilled with these separates; I can see myself wearing them all summer both together and mixed up with other garments.

Ogden camis, and a different construction method

It’s been deliciously warm in London this last week, with more nice weather forecast. A good chance to dig out the True Bias Ogden cami pattern and make use of some remnants I’ve bought lately.

I first made this dress version in some great stretch cotton-viscose that I bought from the Cloth House Camden warehouse shop just this last week. I got the last metre on the roll which was just enough to lengthen the Ogden into a mini dress. To do that I just extended the side seams down by about 9″ (the total length armsyce to hem is 24″) maintaining the flared angle. I’ve been after a basic black slip for ages and I think it’ll work well with a tee underneath when the weather inevitably dips again.

I made another one pretty quickly in this adorable cat-print polyester remnant that I got in Tokyo. I refined the fit a little bit around the top; basically darting out a bit of gaping on both the front and back. I also came up with a revised construction method which I think is a little faster and easier than the the instructions, so I took some photos and wrote up how I did it below. It’s quite similar to my facing tutorial in that the front and back are constructed before sewing them into the ’round’. Here we go – sorry the photos aren’t very good but shout if you have a question.

Complete steps 1-3 to staystitch and create/baste the straps. (…Except I don’t staystitch or baste, because I am a REBEL.) Now instead of sewing the side seams next, pin and sew the front facing to the front bodice across the top edge, securing the straps in the process.

Trim, clip and understitch per the instructions.

Now, lay out and layer up the pieces as follows: back facing right side facing UP; the loose strap ends (attached to the front bodice) right sides facing UP; back bodice, right side DOWN. Again you could baste the straps to the back only here first but I just deal with all three layers at once.

Pin, sew, and trim/clip/understitch the top edge just like the front. Turn right side out and give it all a good press – you’ll have a funny side-seam-less cami joined by the straps as above. Now is a good time to finish the lower facing edges – I just pinked mine – and to add a label to the back facing, as otherwise it’s hard to tell which way round to wear it!

Now to finish the side seams: open up the facing again so the right sides touch. Pin and sew the bodice and facing as one long side seam.

Finish the seam as desired, snip a notch where the facing and bodice meet to reduce bulk, and press seams open.

Turn out, press and ditch-stitch the facing down to the side seam to keep it in place. Alternatively, you could also treat the facing and bodice as one and do a French seam, catching both layers and meaning the facing gets anchored into the side seam. Hem the bottom and you’re good to go!