10 Years in the Stash

This project is a brilliant stash-bust!  You know when you buy a piece of fabric that you just know can only be used for the perfect project.  It’s that piece that may not necessarily have cost a lot of money, but it’s valuable, non the less.  I have a couple of those, and this last week I finally used one!  It’s a piece of ivory silk satin with grey, black and putty coloured spots.  I recon I bought it at least 10 years ago, probably from Rosenberg & Son!

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Silk blouse, 114 01/2016

I regularly haul it out of the silk box, pat it, promise it a pattern one day, and return it to the darkness.  But it’s been out of the box since the Autumn, I was determined to find something!  And that something is Blouse 114 from Burdastyle January 2016.  The red version I made a couple of weeks ago has been a welcome addition to my wardrobe, I love the sleeves and the overall feel of the top.  So I went for it!

Checking the channel I made is right for the grossgrain ribbon I’ve used for gathering the “shoulder” seam
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Gathering the long edge of the sleeve into the narrow (by comparison) cuff takes a little while…

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I added 3cm to the length of the original version, which followed the length for version A in the magazine.  I also changed the hem depth to 2 cm so it would be easier to double fold.  The slit in the centre front was lifted 3cm and I’m much more comfortable with that.   Then I added 2cm to the bust depth, inserting a small dart in the side seam to keep the shape and length even.  It’s worked pretty well, and for some reason feels roomier, width-ways, than the red top!

Details. Gathered channel on the forward shoulder seam, bias neck binding and tostitched front slit, back yoke with gathers in the lower back piece

It feels amazing to wear, the silk is just so drapey and lovely.  The seams are all French seams so there’s no fraying, and that stuff did fray!  I hand stitched the bias binding to the inside of the neckline.  I figured that was one place I could do without wobbly visible stitching, and if there was a place my stitching would wobble, it would be there!

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So that’s it for the January edition of the Burda challenge 2018, I have my sticky little paws on the February edition already (recon my phone calls to the manager of my local WHSmiths must have lit a bit of a fire under her chair) and have grand plans!!!  I also have loads of knickers to finish…  phew.

Hila has done a round up of some of the challenge projects done so far in January, go and take a look, and join in if you like!


Small Things

Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post, I really do love that top – and the colour!  It has made me re-think the colours I wear.  Oh dear!  I’m not giving up my nice, safe, easily matchable neutrals just yet, but I don’t see why a spot of red here and there would do any harm.

So, on to the latest stuff!  I saw over last weekend, lots of Acacia Knickers being made and shown off on Instagram.  It’s the latest pattern by Megan Nielsen and, if you sign up to her newsletter, it’s free!  In my current eco-warrior, save the planet with reusing & recycling mode, I signed up and downloaded.  I had to wait a few days for hubby to print it out for me.  In the mean time I dug out all those small pieces of jersey from the boxes (and bags) in the stash cupboard.  You’re always left with bits, the real scrap goes in the scrap bin for recycling, but what to do with the rest?

I had in mind to make more patch tee shirts like this one, but I’ve just not got there.  So I decided I’d make knickers instead!  Unfortunately, most of the leftover bits weren’t suitable for knickers.  Too stretchy, too thin, not enough recovery, not suitable fibre content.  But there was enough for me to cut out 10 pairs!  I traced the XS, S and M seperately so I could place as many as possible in one go.


Hardly anything left from this fabric!

I also managed to find a fair bit of picot elastic in my lingerie goodies box, as well as several metres of fold over elastic – which I didn’t even know I had!!  However, there wasn’t enough in the stash for all the pants I cut out…  Knickers might not use much in the way of fabric, but they’re elastic gobblers!  So I’ve got some finished, some halfway.  I’ve not been partucularly fussy about the mixing and matching of the elastic either.  If this is a stashbusting exercise, I’m doing a proper job!

The pattern only takes 6 A4 pages, so it’s a doddle to print and stick together.  If you want to save the planet by not printing out the instructions you’ll manage just fine with them on your phone, tablet or laptop.  As I said, I traced the sizes I wanted seperately using scraps of pattern paper from other projects.  There are only 3 pieces, the gusset you cut twice.  I had fun squeezing as many out of the fabric I had, and am considering using mis-matched fabric for those bits that there wasn’t enough for whole pants.


Sewing wise, they’re easy, but surprisingly time consuming.  I didn’t use the overlocker, just set my machine to a slight zig zag stitch (it doesn’t have a stretch stitch setting – way to old for that!!)  The gusset is sewn, then the side seams, then you attach the elastic.  Quartering the waist for the pants and elastic works well, and simply, but for the legs I took it further.  The first one I quartered, but found with the curved shapes that I didn’t have enough control.  So I marked the leg opening and the corresponding elastic with eighths.  It takes longer to do, but it’s worth it for me!

Marking eighths for the leg elastic

I will have to buy more knicker elastic to finish off what I’ve cut, and I am seriously considering making many, many more.  There must be tee shirts in the cupboards that I can cut up, right?  Something with a little hole in it, or a stain that won’t go away.  Or tees that no longer fit…  I was also thinking of doing the rounds of the local charity shops for tees that they can’t sell (holes and stains), making more knickers and donating them.  I know women’s shelters are always looking for all sorts of clothing.  Then again, refugee centres and those collecting clothing to send to war zones and refugee camps could also do with donations of knickers!

Liberty print Cotton jersey from the deepest part of the stash, with mix and match elastic!

What better way to use a free pattern than donating what you make??

Red Monday!

The weirdest thing happened to me this weekend.  I had traced off the Burda blouse #114 from January 2016 and was ready to toile.  In the stash, lurked a length of red and white viscose crepe, kindly swapped by Del almost 2 years ago.  I never could think of what to use it for, but I thought this time, try for a wearable toile.  I had already checked width measurements etc, so was sure the pattern would be 75% fine, I just needed to know what changes to make to make the pattern 100%.

I cut the straight 44, version A length.  The pattern makes up easily enough, there’s nothing complicated in the instructions.  I opted not to have the buttonhole in the yoke to allow the drawstrings out, instead I pinned the cord in place until I was ready to bind the neckline.  By then I knew how much pulling up I wanted.  I’m not sure I really want dangly bits on the final blouse either, to be honest.  There’s an awful lot of gathering on the lower sleeve, it’s a good idea to mark the half and quarter and then line that up with the half and quarter on the bias “cuff”.  That way you’ll get equal distribution of the fullness.


The finishing touch of adding a loop and buttonhole to the neck binding has been left off, I wanted to see what it would look like without that, and how much the front hangs open!  I think I’m more likely to wear it this way than buttoned up anyway, so I’ll raise the point for the slit by about 3-4cm.  I like my bras, but I don’t really want to be showing them off to all and sundry when I lean forward!


So, now that the toile is done I know the width is perfect, I do need length in the front though.  The front bust depth needs about 3cm added, so I’ll do that on the pattern pieces, adding a dart in the side to control the extra length.  I also think it’s a little short for all purposes.  While I’m wearing the blouse with my jeans (high waisted Birkin Flares) it’s fine, but with a pair of Morgans or any trouser that sits lower than the natural waist, I’ll be showing off bits no-one needs to see!  So the overall length needs to increase by about 5cm to make me happy and comfortable.  Apart from that, it’s all good!!


And the weird thing that happened?  I’m wearing a red blouse, and I love it!!!  Now to make some more versions of this pattern, I’m thinking navy viscose for sure, and I might even finally cut my spotty silk.  That’s been hiding in the stash for at least 10 years, only comes out to be patted now and then!

When a Door Closes, Open a Window!

While I haven’t made something from this year’s January Burda, I have finally made something I’d marked from the 2012 January!  Yippee!  It always wanted the right fabric, and I never really had it.  Technically, the “right fabric” this time was intended for another pair of trousers, but as it happened to be out and available and spotted just in time, it’s now a top!

Technical drawing for top 121 01/2012

After listing all my options a few days ago, I thought I might as well start with toiling this pattern, as it was already traced out.  I ran it up in a piece of viscose I’d got from a charity shop for toiling purposes.  The fabric told me it was too soft and drapey for this particular top, the toile told me it was way too long!!  I didn’t want a tunic/short dress, I wanted a top!

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Top 121 January 2012

So I shortened the pattern by 11 cm, added length in the front for bust and a small dart to sort the side seam.  I had traced the 44, and it has just the right amount of volume for me, so that length and little dart were all I needed for a FBA, no width needed.  The original pattern has an exposed zip in the back seam and the front is plain, this wouldn’t work for me.  I didn’t want a zip, exposed or otherwise, and needed more detail on the front.  I also prefer not to have too high a neckline, so fiddled around a little, dropping the front neckline a bit and adding a front opening.  It’s just a little detail that makes it more wearable for me.

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You can just see the sleeve dart here, it’s not a narrow sleeve!
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More sleeve dart – The back and sleeve pattern piece is rather large.

The fabric I used in the end is a navy and grey windowpane worsted wool suiting I bought in November from Fabworks.  It’s quite lightweight, and as a pair of trousers it would have had to have been lined.  Luckily, as a top, it’s just fine!  The top doesn’t have hems, you cut facings for the sleeves, front and back.  I interfaced these with a polyester fine sheer fusible for a bit more stability.

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I really like how the top has turned out, the back and sleeves are cut in one, so make sure your fabric is wide enough to cope!  The odd shaped pieces meant pattern matching was going to be tricky, so I opted for matching the side seams and left the rest to fall where they may.  The large dart in the sleeve narrows the width nicely at the wrist.  I like the curved hemline, and the new length is pretty perfect.

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Now I have plans to make another item from the list.  I said in the review of last year’s sewing that I need a few more tops to go with all the new trousers I’d made, so it will be another top – and I want to use up some of the viscose pieces I have in the stash.  So, I will be tracing Blouse 114 from January 2016, I need my sleeve kick!!

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That’s round one of the #Burdachallenge2018 done, what’s on your list to make??

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! 🙂

And We’re Off!

Hitting the ground running, there’s nothing like a quick project to get the sewing started.  This was actually a project I’d intended to do last year, and possibly have ready for Xmas, but it didn’t work out and it wasn’t time critical.  As it was already cut out, getting it sewn up was easy.

The main fabric is teal ponte from Croft Mill Fabrics, really lovely and soft with a gorgeous, jewel-like colour.  I was wavering between another Toaster Sweater or making a new Fraser Sweatshirt.  Once the fabrics were washed and were on the clothes horse drying, I noticed that this teal and another, patterned fabric looked pretty good together.  This gave me the idea to go ahead with the Fraser Sweatshirt, using View A.


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I cut with the size 8 across the shoulders and upper chest, changing to the 6 from the underarm down the sides to the 4 at the hip.  In hindsight I could have lengthened the body by about 3cm, but luckily it’s just long enough.  Looking at the photos, I need to make a note to lower the armhole for the next time.  The fabrics work really well together, they have just about the same amount of stretch and body.  I did not go straight into overlocking the contrast sections of the pattern together!  All was first done on the sewing machine whith a long, narrow zigzag.  Once I was happy with the points, I threaded up the overlocker and went for it.

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The joining seam on the contrast sections is pressed down and topstitched with a 2.5mm twin needle.  It was a little tricky trying to find a suitable coloured thread for this, they’re either too green or too blue!  Once I was ready to insert the sleeves, I again machine basted the contrast seam section.  My overlocker is just too happy to reach that bulky area and move things 1-2cm…  Speaking of which, the Janome really doesn’t like the bulk of this ponte when it gets to intersecting seams.  I might have to break out the Bernina instead.  And I need a new cutting blade.  Should have put one on my Christmas list! 🙂

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Basting really helped and the contrast yokes line up really well.  I love the look from the back when you see the half contrast of the sleevehead, and the neckband.  Daughter No2 is very happy with my decision to go ahead with the contrast (despite initial misgivings) and loves her new sweatshirt.

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Speaking of new sweatshirts, I didn’t get to take a picture of Daughter No1’s Christmas red Toaster on, but here’s a peek at the special lable inside.  I hope it will remind her of the moose decals on the van she and her partner hired for their little USA adventure a couple of years ago.

Finishing touches! #toastersweater #moose

A post shared by Anne W (@compulsive_seamstress) on

Having the Fraser pattern out has given me a couple of ideas to use up some of the smaller pieces of ponte and quilted jersey left over after other projects.  I might see if I can get a couple of 3/4 or even short sleeved versions done.  Leave no scrap unused!

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I am in the market for some lovely French Terry, I want to make the zip-up hoodie #119 from the January issue of Burda 2018, joining Hila of Saturday Night Stitch in an all new sparkling Burda Challenge!  Who’s in??

Looking back at 2017

I kept much better records of my sewing adventures this year, so I thought I’d take a good look through them to see what truths lay beneath!  There are a few projects that were never blogged for many reasons, some that got scrapped and never even got to the WIP stage, and some I’ve sort of counted twice..  Those are the self drafted ones, the pattern and toile counted as one project, the actual garment (if it got made) was seperate.

I also thought it would be interesting to see just how much stash I got through, it certainly felt like I’d used quite a bit, until I look in the cupboard.  I also made a fair few fabric purchases, but after going through everything, I only have 6 pieces left that I bought and haven’t yet turned into fully functioning garments.  And that’s purely due to time!  So I’m calling success on the the “not growing the stash” goal this year!

So how did I really do?  Well, there were a total of 82 projects.  Two were scrapped, one because the fabric and pattern turned out to be incompatible & the other because the recipient told me too late that she didn’t like what I was making, fabric or pattern.  Hmpf.  Oh well, onwards and upwards!  A large majority of the projects were for yours truly, the other lucky recipients are my girls and my mum, with 10 projects going to “others”!

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Half of my sewing was for me!

Pattern usage has been heavily biased to the Burdastyle magazine patterns, not really a huge surprise!  The next most used brand is Named, purely because of the Talvikki Sweater.  The Toaster Sweater from Sew House 7 was also much used and I can see that continuing.

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Patterns Brands used, & how many I made!

Obviously the Burda patterns featured heavily, so they are amongst my most used, the cropped trousers from May are one, as are the culottes from the February issue.  Those Talvikki and Toaster Sweaters were very popular with the girls.

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Most used patterns

As you know, I love my trousers, don’t wear dresses and this year for the first time in ages, made myself a skirt!  So to see just how many of what I was making, I made a new graph!

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Tops, trousers and tees are my most commonly sewn items!

The dresses that show up didn’t even stay in-house, all four projects were for friends!  The PJ coloumn took off after I’d made all those pjs for Christmas, and Christmas had a hand in growing that sweater coloumn too.  All in all, I think it’s been a rather successful and productive year for me, sewing wise.  And look at what I did with my stash…

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Even though I bought a decent amount of fabric this year, nearly all of it has been sewn up!  I only have 6 pieces of fabric bought this year that I’ve not had time to use up, coating for Mr W’s winter coat, 3m of grey cashmere for a coat for myself, ponte for a sweater for daughter no2 and one for me, 3m of oilskin to make a Tosti for myself and 2m of wool for another pair of trousers – also for me!  I’m really chuffed that none of it has ended up in the stash proper.  It hasn’t gone anywhere near the cupboard!

So, plans for next year.  THIS YEAR!!  Well, I really want to get Mr W’s coat done, and one for me too.  I have a piece of camel cashmere in the stash that I thought would make a good Bamboo coat.  Shouldn’t take too long and will give me time to decide on what pattern to use for my grey cashmere.  Those projects I’d like to get on with pretty quickly, and also get those trousers and sweater made so there’s almost nothing left from last year’s purchases to put in the stash.

Here’s to another year of creating and sharing, and may my the stash be smaller at the end of it all!  Happy New Year, may 2018 be good to you!