Sewing Japapese in January – Part 3


On a roll here!!  This time I’m using the Clean & Natural book and making the puffed sleeve pullover, pattern S.  It’s a loose fitting top with boat-neck(ish) that finishes mid hip and has a yummy, puffed sleeve.  The fullness in the sleeve is at the hem, rather than the sleeve head.  This book has a handy size table and the pattern sizes are S to LL.  I graded the LL up two sizes, going by the body measurements and the finished measurements of the top.  Remember, I don’t like too baggy…


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I toiled the pattern in some remnant cotton sheeting and made the following conclusions.  I needed more ease across the bust and length of about 2-3cm.  I also wanted the top to finish at the length it was un-hemmed.  So I needed an FBA of 3cm and to lengthen the top 3cm.  The sleeves are ok, finished at the right place and weren’t tight at the hem.  On creating the dart and FBA, I rotated it all out and am left with a no-dart top, just like the original.

Fabric is newly in the stash, after being bought last year at the NEC in March/April.  To be fair, I’d sort of allocated it to this top from the beginning, I just never got round to the grading and tracing and toiling last year.  The cotton is a woven gingham check, black and white.  I thought it would look pretty good with all the linen trousers in my summer wardrobe, and now I’m thinking it might be worn in the winter with a long sleeve layering tee underneath too…

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Construction is fairly straightforward, I overlocked everything first, and used ordinary seams.  The seam and hem allowances have to be added, by the way.  The facings are interfaced with fine sheer fusible.  The sleeve is pretty big, and only just fitted on the width of the fabric!  You gather the long curved of the oversleeve onto a pleated straight undersleeve.  This is what creates and holds the puff.  That’s the only time consuming part, gathering and evenly spreading all the gathers!

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I like how the back looks here, as if I’ve used a contrast neckband.  Maybe that’s the answer.

I had a quick try-on before hemming and decided it was too long!  I’m blaming the fabric here, the pattern.  It blinded me…  So I duly chopped off the 3cm I’d added to the length and turned up a 3cm hem.  Then I popped it back on over my head and – whoa!  I shouldn’t have done that…  I probably didn’t need to remove the whole 3cm.

I also had a problem with the neckline.  On the toile I didn’t add the facings and I was happy with where it sat.  On this garment, with facings added, it was too high!  I don’t like feeling crowded against my neck, and the other issue was all that pattern!  I think I could have done with less.  So I decided to change the shape of the neckline in the front, put the toile back on and drew a scoop to the depth I wanted and transferred that to the gingham.  I added seam allowance and chopped again.  Then I realised I didn’t have enough fabric to cut new facings.  Not going well, right?  Anyway, I cut bias strips and sewed them together and made a bias trim for the neck.  I actually like this better than the original facings anyway.

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I think there’s just tooo much patterned fabric here for me.

As it’s ever so slightly chilly here in the UK this week, I decided to wear it today with a long sleeve scoop neck tee, and I rather like it like this.  I think it would also look good with a rounder neck tee, or even a floppy poloneck.  I also think it needs slim fitting pants, looks good with the Birkin Flares, not so pretty with pleated, fuller trousers.  It’s the second Japanese pattern that hasn’t turned out quite the way I had imagined in my head.  I know I’m not the same shape and size, but I thought I was picking patterns that are similar to those I like in the Burdas, so I was hoping they’d come out the same too.  Guess I’ll be sticking to the trouser patterns! 😀




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Last month I finally got the chance to reuse a pattern I’d drafted 4 years ago.  At the time I had wanted to make another, but I had the usual story of too many other patterns and projects jumping the queue.  I bought this black and white viscose with a 60s inspired print from Minerva Crafts that I decided would be just right for giving that pattern a second chance.

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Self drafted blouse in viscose

I left out a couple of details this time round.  Because of the print I didn’t include any of the tucks that were on the first blouse, & I didn’t use the concealed buttonstand.  I used French seams thoughout, so it’s all nice and neat on the inside.  A post of the construction details can be read here.  The buttons are vintage, black faceted glass balls.  They are maybe a little heavy for the fabric, but I like the way they catch the light!


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The viscose is light and drapey, and it’s just what this pattern requires.  I wanted something that would flow and be comfortable to wear now in the winter, and again in the summer with linen trousers.  I like how it works with the jeans and trousers in my wardrobe now & am looking forward to wearing it in the summer.

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I can’t quite believe it’s Christmas in just over a week, and there are still so many projects that I’ve not blogged yet!  Time to pull my socks up!

Three Points

This is a project I’ve been quite keep to make since spotting the pattern in the magazine.  I liked the section seams of the sweatshirt (111 from February 2017), the opportunities for colour blocking and, most importantly of all, the chance to use it to use up some of the left over bits of ponte, quilted jersey and fleece fabric taking up a fair bit of room in my jersey fabrics box.  I really do need the space for full lengths of useable fabrics!

I decided to trace the smallest size, the 36.  The pieces are massive!  On the sheet the front and back main pieces are just half, so I flipped the paper over and made them whole.  This means that if I’m using leftovers, I know immediately how much space I need!  There are enough of a couple of fabrics for this pattern to work, but I couldn’t make up my mind where to start.  So I drew out a couple of tops and coloured them with the colours of fabric I have to try to get somewhere.

Then I asked Daughter No2 which she prefered.  Typically she couldn’t decide either and said she needed to see the fabrics first – in person!  But I really wanted to make the sweatshirt.  So I laid the pieces out on some of the left over black and white ponte that I’d made my last Uvita Top in, and placed the sleeves and triangular side panels on left overs of plain black ponte from Daughter No2’s long cardigan.  I liked the idea of the sides being solid in colour.  I figured that if she didn’t like it, I’d offer it to Daughter No1.  Once I started actually sewing, I figured I could always keep it for myself – it was that wide!

The sweatshirt, with all its width!

contrast sweatshirt 6

The essentials of the top are simple enough, especially if you’re not making the version with pockets.  But the pocket instructions got me all befuddled.  I obviously wasn’t having a brain fully engaged day, because I made a fluff and had to make do in the end.  And in the end I realised what I should have done!  So here’s a tip, if you’re planning on making this top.  The pockets are KANGAROO pockets!  If I’d realised that in the beginning I’d have understood the instructions immediately and done them correctly!

contrast sweatshirt 5


contrast sweatshirt 4

Anyhow, I am now pre-warned for the next time!!  But will there be a next time?  Maybe.  It’s definitely going to be fabric dependent.  Daughter No 2 was home on Friday for a quick visit to collect her winter coats and take them back to Birmingham.  She was initially unsure of the top when she saw it, but decided she rather liked it once it was on!  The verdict was positive, but only in a fabric that is fairly soft and has drape.  She wouldn’t want it if the fabric had too much body (it would be very boxy) and with that width it’s not what she’d wear.  But this one she likes!

contrast sweatshirt 2


contrast sweatshirt 1
Sweatshirt 111 February 2017



The Burda Challenge 2018

Seven January issues, care to guess how many I’ve actually made something from?

A great little idea from Hila of Saturday Night Stitch and a bandwagon I’m only too happy to jump on.  I’ve been buying Burda magazines since March 1994 – and I can guarantee you that I have only made patterns from a tiny proportion of them.  I always intend to make stuff from each magazine.  When they arrive I sit down with a large cuppa and go through all the photos, then through the line drawings and I fold down the corners of the pages with items I think I like, either for me or the girls.  Sometimes I make them up, but more than often this stage is where the project stops.

This January there are a miriad of patterns I like, my favourite by far is the blouse 116.  I fell for the sleeve straight away!  Chris made a fabulous version, sealing my fate.  But alas, for me it was not to be.  The pattern needed to be graded up a size (only goes to 42) and a FBA added.  But when I’d finished the toile and put it on it was horrid.  The neckline is way to high (strangled look not good) fit across the upper chest too tight and the volume of the sleeve with that armhole just too much.

On a slim person, or even someone who’s not, but has “normal” bust size, this blouse would probably look just fine.  But on me – just no.  So disappointing!!!  But, not to worry, there are other patterns in this month to make, yes?  Yes.  But I lack suitable fabric for them…  I’m not buying fabric this month, so what I make has to come from a now seriously depleted stash.

This prompted me to dig out the January Burda issues from the boxes I can easily get my hands on, 2017 to 2010.  And I have a few options.

Blouse 114 from 2016

This from 2016 caught my eye originally and is one of those with a folded page – why didn’t I trace and make at the time?  It’s got an interesting sleeve, is nice and drapey and would do will in either of my viscose fabrics from the stash.   loove the pants too, but have already learned that peated pants do not suit people with a tummy.  Flat fronts only!

Top 108 from 2014

Not the top of my list, but one that had caught my eye.  It looks quick to make, but a bit of a fabric hog, and I’m wary of all that fabric in the top and sleeve with my shape…  So maybe not.

Top 119 from 2015

Again, quick and simple in shape, just those pesky sequins to deal with!  I might have some special fabric suitable for this, that isn’t sequined.  But it’s a bit plain looking without a fabulous fabric!

Top 119 from 2017

I actually really like this top from 2017, I don’t have silk jersey but some navy viscose jersey should do the job just fine!  I wonder if anyone else has made it with the matching “modesty bustier”?

Top 121 and pants 122 from 2012

Simple enough trousers to make, the top has seaming details that I found interesting enough to actually trace the pattern, but that’s where I stopped.  I really don’t like wasting fabric, so I guess I thought this might not work.  I really should have attempted a self-draft, but hey-ho.  Now time is against me and I might as well toile this and see where it leads!  I wouldn’t use anything with body, I think this shape only works on me with a soft, fluid fabric, so viscose it is!

Top 129 from 2011

Another I liked straight away, but got no further than bending the corner of the page.  I think it wants fabric with more body that my viscose jersey though, so that means shopping…  Oh dear.

Wrap top 116 from 2012

This is daughter No2’s contribution, she loves the wrap top and I have a feeling I might have something suitable in the stash.

So, in between the coughing and the sneezing, I’ll try to narrow down my options and make progress with this.  So here’s my sign-up to the Burda Challenge 2018:

I will make a pattern from a Burda magazine each month, even if I have to go back to 2010 to find something that ticks all the right boxes!  I will use this opportunity to revisit those older magazines and maybe make something I’d marked before but not got round to making up, and will stick to the right months as the year progresses.

Wish me luck! 🙂


You just can’t keep a good pattern down.  I’ve long been a fan of wide legged trousers, swooshy ones with good sized pockets.  For years, my go-to for that particular style has been style 116 from the March 2004 issue of Burda magazine.  I have made so many versions of that pattern I couldn’t even begin to count them.  But I think I have a new favourite…

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Burda trousers 102 and 103 from May 2017

The stealer of the show is style number 102 & 3 from the May 2017 issue.  I made two cropped (102) versions in linen in the summer and wore them constantly.  I’d barely ironed them before they were back on sometimes ironing them in order to wear them that day!  They are so comfy to wear, the pockets the perfect depth, and I love the back pocket too, that’s where my phone tends to live.

I was digging around in the stash for something or other in November and came across a left over piece of pinstripe wool.  I’d originally bought 3m from Rosenberg & Son – probably around 10 years ago (!) and made a pair of trousers for a friend.  The bit left over would have made a perfectly decent pair of trousers for one of my girls, but somehow they weren’t accepting it.  After coming across it again, a possibility arose.  I figured it would be perfect made as a pair of cropped wide legged trousers for the winter!  There wasn’t enough to cut every piece, the waistband facings and the inner pocket bags were cut from the remains of the shell print cotton lawn from Mum’s top.

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Cropped pinstripe wool trousers

I love these trousers!  And again, just like their linen cousins, I’m finding I reach for them as soon as they’re back in the cupboard.  The wool is soft and not at all itchy – I didn’t line this pair.  I shove them in the washing machine on a woolens cycle with some Ecover delicates liquid and they are none the worse for it.  In fact, all my wool trousers get washed in the machine, I save dry-cleaning for coats.

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Then I had a little splash of fabric buying from Fabworks and got my hands on 2m of their Classic Grey Italian Flannel, amongst other things.  This wool is perfection, soft, flowy and the perfect colour!

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Trousers 103 05/2017 in grey wool flannel

I thought I’d make the full length trouser (103) in this fabric.  I hadn’t shortened the cropped versions for my stunted leg length, but had to do so for the full length trousers!  6cm disappeared from the hem.  I used a piece of black satin lining for the inner pocket bag to reduce bulk.  The two metres was enough fabric, with an annoying little bit left over that I have no idea what to do with. My boxes are starting to fill up with these little pieces.  As I’d lost 6cm from the length of this pair, I thought I might adjust the pattern properly so that the cropped pair would be more proportioned.  I had wondered about this in the linen trousers I made in the summer, but left it at the time.

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A week later I found another left over piece of wool!  This navy worsted suiting had been given to me after the rest of it had been used for a 3-piece man’s suit.  It was an odd bit, but would have made something for the girls I expect.  But what it did make was another pair of cropped trousers!  I lined this pair as the wool was rather thin.  I’d got 3m of grey lining with my 3m of charcoal coating free from Fabworks in their birthday sale, so decided to use some of that.  In the end, all I needed to buy was an invisible zip!  I love free clothes!

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The lining pieces were laid on the wool and overlocked together and treated as one piece, except for the panel sewn on the bottom.  There the lining hangs seperately from the wool.  Because they are lined, and the fabric behaves differently to the flannel and pinstripe, this pair are a little more fitted at the waist/hip.  Which I rather like.  As this pair was made after I’d shortened the pattern by 6cm they are shorter than the pinstripe version.  I’m not sure which is length is better!  I think I might prefer the original length, especially when worn with my fabby new suede boots!

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I had been looking for a “perfect” pair of Chelsea boots for the winter, but these are so much better!  I think it’s safe to say I have found a new favourite trouser pattern, and I’ll be making more!  It runs up really quickly, you can easily make a pair in a day (which I did because I wanted to wear them the next day to Sunday Sewing Group!).


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Now what I really need are some new tops!!  Chris has made a fabulous version of the dramatic sleeve blouse from January 2018, and I’ve been drooling all over her pics!  I have a plain navy viscose in the stash that would look fabulous, or even a navy with white feather print….  It will have to be a January project though, given that there’s only one day left of 2017!

A Hot Weather Dress

My sewing machine has been working overtime during the last week and a bit, quickly trying to make the last few things for Daughter No 1.  The departure for her planned travel to Asia, Australia & America has finally come.  Amongst the things I made for her (which I will cover in another post) was this dress.  She wanted something that would just hang, not cling, and be cool to wear in the tropical humidity of Thailand, something suitable for cocktails on the beach in Fiji & totally wearable when exploring Rodeo Drive.  It needed to have fullness, but not be a tent.  She didn’t want extra fullness in the front, hanging from the bust.  She drew me a sketch of what she had in mind, then left me to it.

A sketch of the dress Daughter No1 wanted for her travels

I started with her close fitting bodice block, drawing a one piece dress block and then converting it to the lingerie block.  This involves reducing ease and doubling the size of the bust dart.  For the dress pattern the bust dart was moved to the underarm position.  I added a section to the side, from the waist to make the fullness.  The double darts in front and back were eliminated, but the back dart was effectively transferred into the centre back, making the back shaped and fitted.  I also needed a swayback adjustment of about 2cm.  I intended to use an invisible zip in the centre back, French seams throughout and self bias for the top edges and straps.

Collage Handkerchief Dress Toile
The toile in cotton. The swayback adjustment hadn’t been done.

The toile revealed that I needed a swayback adjustment, and that I needed to alter the fit of the top.  Daughter No1 wanted it a little looser.   I was concerned about the hang of the handkerchief section, but hoped that in the silk that we’d chosen that it would look a lot better.

Collage handerchief dress
Dress in progress, silk definitely drapes better than cotton! And the swayback adjustment worked a treat.

The silk was given to me by a friend, it’s got the most beautiful sheen and drape, but for me, it was just a little too bold.  However, Daughter No1 loved it!  The bands are a red and white hatched pattern, while the blue is actually purple and black.  I only had two metres and it was pretty narrow but we had just enough to squeeze the dress out.  I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough for the bias strips.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case in the end, I didn’t really need that much bias.  But please remind me that working with narrow bias in silk really isn’t easy, and tries the patience of anyone, especially when you’re up against the clock.

Collage zip
Putting an invisible zip into a french seam, reinforcing the area with fine interfacing.

I made the pattern on Saturday night, toiled it midday Sunday, made the adjustments and got cracking immediately.  It had to be finished by 11am on Monday morning!!  Needless to say I was still handstitching bias at 11am so we left a little late for the airport, but all was good, she loved the dress and stuffed it into the rucksack straight away!  I am hoping to see photos of it in far of exotic places on Instagram soon!  Here it is on Betty, my vintage mannequin.








I love the drape at the sides, and the slight drop of the handkerchief hem.  I really do hope it sees lots of wear in the next 6 months!

The Queue Jumper

Feelin' all cosy over here!
Feelin’ all cosy over here!

Remember my nice neat piles, sorted with sketches and patterns and all in some sort of order?  Well, I kinda messed that order up a wee bit!  I was all on track with another three Burda patterns traced out and ready to make using the three knit fabrics I bought from Fabricland in Reading at the end of August.  This grey, slightly sparkly knit with toweling type loops was destined for a very different pattern.

The usuper!  Pullover 109 from Burda 10/2015
The usuper! Pullover 109 from Burda 10/2015

But then I clapped eyes on this… Pullover 109 is available from the German Burda website as a download here.  I got the October Burda in the post, from Germany.  They sent it because they used one of my photographs in their “Reader’s Makes” section (why don’t we have on of them in the English version??).  I got to this picture & decided pretty much immediately that it was going to have to be on the top of my list, even if it meant stealing a fabric away from another pattern!  Originally I thought of using a different knit, but thought it was probably too soft (turns out I was right, even this one just makes it, a chunkier knit would give a result more like the one in the magazine).

DSC00197-1It consists of a high funnel neck with side zip on the left, not that you need it to get in or out of the pullover, it’s there for different ways to wear the top.  The front and back are cut off the grain, the back on the bias, and have shaped hems.  I kept the pointed hem in the back but made the front straight – I didn’t need it any shorter, showing off my tummy!  I made the 44 straight, no fiddling.  There is enough ease to wear over tee shirts comfortably, so perfect for layering.

Do the zip up and snuggle in!
Do the zip up and snuggle in!

I used the overlocker on this make, except for sewing in the invisible zip.  The major sewing took about 1.5 hours, then all I needed to do was handstitch the hems and the inside of the funnel neck to the zip tape.  I left it to the morning for fresh eyes!  I don’t think there’s much I would change about this pattern.  Perhaps if I lengthened it at the waist a bit I could reinstate the angled front hem.  It does look good on the original pattern.

The lightweight knit drapes quite nicely
The lightweight knit drapes quite nicely. 

With the zip almost completely open, the “collar” folds over.  Loads of room for showing off a pretty scarf!

That's all folks!  I'm off to make more knits!
That’s all folks! I’m off to make more knits!

So it’s back to the sewing table, to make something that’s actually on the list! 🙂  I hope all your Autumn/Spring sewing plans are progressing well!!