A Long Time Coming

Here’s a pair of trousers that should have been made about a year and a half ago – at least!  The fabric is black stretch cotton sateen, bought from Croft Mill Fabrics for Daughter No 1 for trousers. But she asked me to wait to make them, considering the weight of the fabric to be summer-worthy only, and it must have been Autumn when the fabric was purchased.

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Trousers 123 06/2011

I’d always intended to make another pair of trousers 123 6/2011.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve used this pattern – for both girls!  It’s a petite pattern, so needs to be lengthened for Daughter No 2, but is pretty good for her sister.  I shortened the waistband depth by 1.5cm this time though, she always complains it’s too high.  I think it’s because she’s short-wasited that it “gets in the way”.

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As we were going to visit over the Easter weekend, I figured it was time to get that fabric out of my stash and the “to do” off my list!  She’s been living about 2 hours away for the last year, and that isn’t terribly convenient for sewing and fitting.

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I made one other adjustment – the back waistband (which is supposed to be straight) has a dart folded into it, lining up with the centre of the two back darts on the trouser pieces.  This is because the wasitband always gapes in this pattern, but the folding of a paper dart does the trick.  I cut the 17 (34) and sewed it up.  There are no contrasting fabrics in the pockets, zip guard or waistband, it was kept deliberately simple.  I do think I could make the trouser legs narrower, she’s so slim that even the smallest size needs taking in!

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She starts a new job in London this week, so I hope these pants will be getting loads of use!  They’re perfect for dressing up or down and look great with heels and a nice pair of trainers.  I was glad to be making for her again, it’s been a while.  And secretly, I’m chuffed to bits that the old pattern adjustments still worked and I didn’t need to take the pants home again to tweak the fit!

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So another pattern to tick off for the BurdaChallenge 2018, even though it’s not a March pattern, and more stashbusting, making room for new stuff! 🙂

 

 

Short trousers means cold ankles

So here I am in the coldest March in the UK in a very long time, making cropped tousers again!  Instalment number two for the Burda Challenge is the cropped trousers from this year’s March issue of the magazine, number 111.  I’d dug out a piece of caramel stretch twill from the stash, probably bought from Croft Mill Fabrics, but it could have come from Clothspot.  I think I’ve had it around 2 years, so it’s nice to get it used up!

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Trousers 111 March 2018

I’d decided early on not to have all the extra zips on the front.  There is a very useable side zip for access, and these others are just for decoration, so I wasn’t about to waste time faffing putting in exposed zips I’d never use.  I might put some pretty buttons on the tabs eventually, but as for the most part, they will not be seen, I’m really not fussed.

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pocket details – and no zips in the pointy bits!

I removed 5cm from the length of the trouser between the crotch line and the knee line to get the correct length at the ankle.  I also changed the crotch curved in the back, dipping it by max 5mm in certain spots.  This made the usual creases under my butt magically decrease!  The facings were cut from left over bits of the gingham linen used for the Japanese inspired top, and I used that fabric for the pocket bag too.

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If there’s one negative about this pattern, it’s that there aren’t enough pockets.  So if I made the pattern again, I’d want to add pockets in the front somewhere, possibly using that pointy insert as a “welt” hiding the acces to the pockets there.  We’ll see.  But the pocket in the back went very easily.  The instructions in the magazine are the illustrated, elaborated kind, as opposed the the usual brief bullet points.  So if you’re afraid of welts, these instructions will see you right.  I love the shape, and it’s really not hard to have those points instead of the normal square edges.

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I like these pants, I wore them to the sewing show at the NEC all day and the stretch fabric behaved fairly well, not going baggy with all the sitting while driving, which was good.  They’ll be a great addition the the spring and early summer wardrobe (when it atually arrives), and I might be on the look out for a stretch poplin or cotton to make another pair, because this twill is too thick for wearing in the middle of summer.

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So thumbs up for this one!  I’ve got another Japanese inspired top for your inspection soon, and I’ll go through some of the books I’ve been buying to give you an idea of  the goodness inside!  But that’s me for March BurdaChallenge 2018, I thought I might make another pair of trousers, and perhaps a couple of tops, but it was not to be.  Just two pairs of cropped pants will do the job!

 

 

Professor Plum

We’re just recovering from the coldest February/March week ever (in my 20 years) in the UK, so what did I decide to make for my first project for March Burda Challenge?  A coat. A thick cuddly fleecy top.  NOPE – I made a pair of streth cotton satin cropped trousers.  As you do.

I had a pretty long list of items I could have made this month, looking through 8 years of Burdas showed March to be overall a pretty good month.  But getting realistic, I don’t have enough fabric (the right fabric) to make them all, never mind the time!  And hangars – if I’m going to continue to make clothes like this I am going to need more hangars (and wardrobe space).

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The first item on the now shorter list is a pattern I’ve made before, trousers 109 from March 2010.  The last pair was made in a very similar fabric, so I didn’t expect to make any changes to the pattern.  The fabric I chose from the stash came from Croft Mill Fabrics, about 2-3 years ago.  It’s gorgeous damson/plum colour, and one that does not exist in any way shape or form in my current palette.  But I love it, and with a grey or silver top, these will look fab.  (BTW if anyone knows where I can get copper or rust coloured stretch cotton satin – shout!)

I used a small piece of scrap pink rose print Liberty lawn for the pocket linings to minimise bulk, re-used the zip from an old project, long discarded.  Even the perfect coloured thread for topstitching was found buried in the thread box, this really was a stashbusting project!

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Liberty lawn for my pockets

Sewing up was pretty easy, I overlocked all the pieces (yay for a new cutting blade!) and made a nice pile of purple fluff.  Everything went swimmingly until I pinned the hem.  These pants looked really short – even for cropped pants.  So I tried them on and – oops, I think I may have been over zealous after making the last pair with the shortening…  I had taken out 6cm in the leg length on the pattern, and maybe that’s the right amount, but on my legs it doesn’t look right – my calf is too wide there!  So I let the hem down and I’ve made a false hem with some ribbon (from the stash again!).  Much better – and I’ve re-adjusted the pattern accordingly!

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On further investigation of the pattern, it turnes out the adjusments made were made after I’d sewn the last pair – which were supposed to be the cropped version! Oh dear, they most definitely were not cropped!  So I need to find the happy medium between the two lengths.  But I’m happy with these now, and the colour is really nice!  I tested them out before committing to hem length with my elephant print silk top and the two went together surprisingly well.  So I’m expecting these pants to fit into my spring/summer wardrobe fairly well.

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Other items that made the short list for March are another pair of trousers, two tops and a spring coat!  I was the lucky recipient last year of a lovely blue and white jacquard fabric to make a coat (Mother’s Day present) – and it’s still not been used.  This is the year! I will make that coat!

February Burda Challenge

Heavens, has it been that long?  Two posts in one week at the beginning of the month, then radio (blog) silence!  Sorry guys, been too busy sewing – and knitting – and crocheting..  I’ve been distracted, basically.  I finally picked up and dusted off my ancient knitting knowledge and persuaded a friend to help me learn again.  So we started with a pair of cable knit fingerless mittens.  As you do!  And I’m hooked!  But that’s a post for another day!

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So while I played around with knitting and crocheting, there wasn’t much sewing going on.  I had intended to try two of the blouse patterns from the February 2018 Burda, numbers 108 & 120.  After tracing the 44 and toiling, I added an FBA to 108 and decided to skip the elastic in the sleeve bands and level off the hem lengths.  The tie back blouse, 120 didn’t need an FBA, but was too long, so got shortened by 7cm.  Fabrics were to come from the stash, yes, there is still enough in there…

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Burda top 108 02/2018

So after shaking myself and telling me to just get on with it, I finally started work on the two tops/blouses.  For the first project, I picked out a piece of Indian raw silk, hand dyed and blocked with resit.  I’d bought this fabric from a fellow student in my City & Guild days in about 2004/2005.  Yes, you read that right, not 2014.  She’d gone to India that year, as she’d done every year for ages, and brought back goodies for the rest of us to drool over and – buy!  But I never did find the perfect project to use it on, I’d not be getting more in a hurry!

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After last month’s success with the spotty silk, I thought I might be onto something, and decided to use it for top 108.  The fabric was rather narrow, and the pattern of elephants runs parallel to the selvage print border, so that dictated the fabric be folded on the cross grain.  I used the selvage for the hem, no point cutting anything there just to turn it up.  I used French seams throughout to keep it all neat and tidy.

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The neckline was a pain, on the toile it had stretched out and looked awful, so this time I knew to treat it with extra care.  The neck finish consists of a neckband with facing and a long strip gathered to fit the outer neckband.  I interfaced the outerband with some fine sheer polyester fusible, marked the halfway points and set about gathering the long strip which I also cut on the border.  I’d marked the centres and quarters there too, so gathered in between the points and pinned very carefully!  It seems to have done the trick as the band sits flat against the body and there’s no stretching out.

I did not insert the elastic in the sleevebands this time, I just don’t think the silk would like it very much, and I didn’t really need any more gathering.  I like the result, especially having made the front and back hems the same length.  I kept the little slits in the side seams, gives a little detail.  I think I’ll make another of these, possibly a viscose, but I think a fine linen for the summer would be yummy too.

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Burda top 120 02/2018

The second top for February is #120.  The toile fitted just fine without any bust adjustments, but it was way too  long for me, so I chopped 7cm off the length of the pattern pieces.  It also showed that the bias cut band for the neck finish neede to be stretched quite far to fit, so I needed to make sure I didn’t stretch out the neck while sewing the pleats in the front.  The instructions for the opening in the back for the tie are, I think, in the wrong order.  I did that bit before sewing the side seams in the final top.  It gets fiddly and there’s rather a lot of fabric you’re trying desperately not to stretch if you do it in their order.

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So the final top – I stretched that neckband to fit, just like they say, and made sure all the balance points lined up, and still managed to fluff it.  I must have stretched more in one direction than the other, or maybe the band wasn’t exactly on the bias.  But the band has twisted in the front.  Damn.  Well, I wasn’t going back, so now it’s a “design feature”.

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I like this top even with that open back!  With this week’s “beast from the East” Arctic/Siberian temperatures I will not be wearing it, but as soon as it warms up again, I think it will be in constant rotation.  The fabric is navy viscose from the stash, I think I bought it 2 years ago from Minerva Crafts, and there’s a bit left over that might be used for some sort of colour blocking with another “leftover” to make sure it’s all used up!

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So, February 2018 has been a good issue, I’d have made more if I had the fabric.  One problem with shopping your stash is that eventually you’re looking at pieces that have limited uses.  I also have two boxes of fabric I “can’t” really use.  That’s because they have been allocated to each of the daughters for clothes – when they decide what I’m making.

I wonder if they’d notice a few pieces going missing…

 

The Future is Rosy

So, now that I’ve reminded myself that it is well and truly February, I had to make a concrete decision on the patterns for this month’s instalment of the Burda Challenge 2018.  There are a few options in the running, and time and suitable fabric will tell which get done!  From this year’s February issue I have traced two tops/blouses.  I’ll try to get them both toiled tomorrow, if they don’t need much more tweaking than a FBA then they could be made in some of my stashed viscose.

From previous issues I’ve identified the oversized, pleated back shirt 113 and the variation 114 from the 2015 magazine for Daughter No 2, and the coat, 103 from last year for Daughter no1.  That coat I really want to make in a fabric printed with one of Daughter No1’s own designs, the amarylis pattern in her Instagram post.   But custom printing is pricey which is why I still haven’t made it.  But if I get the pattern traced and toiled I’ll be a couple of steps closer, right?

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Environmentally friendly notebooks from TAYLA

I usually keep a notebook handy and make good notes of what I’ve done in a project, what I’ve used, where the fabric’s from (if I can remember), etc.  Daughter No1 was creating beautiful designs that she wanted on the covers of notebooks, so I figured I’d hold off buying a shop notebook until I got one of hers.  I had to wait a while, writing this year’s projects in the back of last year’s notebook!  Now her website is working, shop is live and books have been printed and ordered.  They arrived today, I was waiting in ambush for the postie!

I really love the designs, there are ten and it was hard to pick just the four I bought.  She’s put a lot of thought into the whole product.  The paper is recycled, the covers printed with vegetable inks.  You’d think they’d be dull and pale, right?  Wrong!  They are vivid and bright.  The books came wrapped in a plant based cellophane envelope that can be put in a commercial composting bin (not your domestic one, it can’t generate the heat required to degrade the corn base) and will completely biodegrade.  The paper and cardboard envelope posting envelope too is recycleable.  In a world that’s rapidly filling up with waste, it’s good to see young people working hard to combat it.

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My new sewing project notebook

I’ve chosen the Amarylis print to start recording this year’s sewing projects.  I’ll be transferring the notes I have written in the next few days to I’m ready to just carry on with the February sewing.  The gorgeous Rose print will be for recording my attempts at living better this year.  That means reducing waste, eliminating as much plastic from my life as possible and limiting my use of chemicals too.  The all over Rambling Rose print will be for allotment notes!

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Packaging with thought, recycleable and biodegradeable

The bright pink Peony notebook will be used to record my new knitting and crochet projects and my knitting notes because I am learning again.  My early attempts at knitting stopped early too!  My squares just would not stay square, and they got holey too…  I just never had the patience required to be good at it.  But this is my Year of Action, and of doing New Things.  So I’m learning to knit again and I’ll be doing more crochet too.  So far I’ve managed a hat with a daisy stitch and I’ve started a pair of cable knit mitts.  Fingers crossed!!

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My knitting projects!

Just to let you all know, I bought the books and am shouting so loudly about them because I love them, love the concept and really want this to succeed.  Daughter No 1, or TAYLA, has worked really hard on this.  She is determined to make it as a designer and to succeed.  So go and have a look at her first offerings and treat yourself to a pretty notebook or two.  Or four! 🙂

 

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!

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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!

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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!

 

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!

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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??