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!

Collage february challenge


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.

feb 3

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”.

feb 4

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!

feb 2

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…


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!

collage windowpane
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!!

window 1

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

A Plethora of Sweaters

I undertook a major sweater-making endeavour in October.  I’d ordered 2m each of black fleece lined sweatshirting and pale grey ponte from Fabworks Online for myself at the beginning of the month and decided not to let them enter my stash.  This was the start of a whole heap of sweaters!

Named Talvikki Sweater in black sweatshirting

I started with the black sweatshirt fabric, having decided it would make a very nice new Talvikki.  Following the first one I made back in the beginning of the year, I knew I needed to widen the neck.  It’s always been a “little” snug getting on over my head!  And I didn’t think I had a big head…  So I made the darts in the front neckline narrower and widened the facing accordingly, making it 1.5cm wider overall.  What a difference it made!  Easy peasy to get on now.  The only other adjustment I made was to shorten the length of the slit on the sides, lengthening the seams themselves by 5cm.


It’s those radiating darts that make this pattern so great!

But – now I had left-over black sweatshirt fabric that had nowhere to go but into the stash.  This was not ideal.  I really didn’t want it sitting around, so had a browse through some of this year’s Burda magazines.  August’s issue came up trumps (I didn’t have to go too far back!) with a cropped square-cut top, pattern number 112.  So I traced the two smallest sizes, confirmed with daughter no 2 that she liked the idea of a black cropped sweater and went for it.  There was just enough fabric in all the right sizes and shapes for the pieces.

black cropped 1
Burda Cropped Top

black cropped 2

The padded neckline is supposed to be stuffed with wadding – which I don’t have.  So I cut a length of the sweatshirting and rolled it up instead, worked a dream!  Dead easy and very quick to make, this top is a doddle.  It does need a sturdy fabric to hold the shape nicely.  When daughter no2 finally came home she approved, big time!  Maybe her only request for the next time would be to make the sleeves a little narrower, keep the cold out!

Next up was the third version of a Burdastyle top from 2015, using the pale grey ponte.  While I love the style lines of this top, it’s actually been slightly disappointing in the execution.  It’s too square, too baggy, and the lines get lost.  But – it’s great to wear anyway and comfy too.  I was hoping this fabric would work better than the previous two, but nope. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.  I’m wearing it anyway!  But I may be calling time on this one, I don’t think I’ll be making another – for me anyway.


I really love the seam detailing on this top


Left: Back seam detail and square armholes with back sleeve seam; Right top: Front slit; Right bottom: Dart and seam intersecting details on the front and side.

However, once again, I have left over fabric.  I really do wish Fabworks would make it easier to buy half metres, this only having whole metres on offer unless you email and ask nicely is a pain in the wotsit.  So this time I decided to make a top for daughter no1!  Same pattern as the black top for daughter no2, but in the smallest size.  Being a thinner fabric than the sweatshirting, the finished top has a different look to the first one, but was received just as well!  By the way, daughter no1 got her sweaters first.

grey cropped 1

grey cropped 3

grey cropped 2

So, four sweaters and 4m of fabric!  NO WASTE!  Well, what there was has gone in the rag bag for textile recycling, but nothing has gone in the stash, result!  However, while I was happily using up these fabrics, I was eyeing out more…  Daughter no2 wondered if I could make her another sweater with sweatshirting fabric.  And I was looking for coat fabric.  So I ended up back on the Fabworks website, putting 2m of racing green sweatshirt fabric and 3m of Autumn Maple lambswool into my basket.  I mean, you can’t just spend £5 on postage for only £10 of fabric! It has to be worthwhile…  And that wool is just divine!!  (coat to follow soon-ish)

I decided this time to make her a Talvikki sweater and traced the 8/10.  It was whipped up in an afternoon, but of course, it left a fair bit of fabric behind – again!  I wondered if she wanted something else with the green, another of any of the other sweaters, but nope, she didn’t want another green one.  Then daughter no1 came to visit and collect the other things I’d made (some still to be blogged).

green talvikki 1
Named Clothing Talvikki Sweater

green talvikki 2

green talvikki 3

Let’s just say that green Talvikki went home with her and I had to make another, likkity split!!  I had a day between daughter no1 going back to her home and daughter no2 arriving at mine for her reading week, to replace the original one.  But this time I had been warned to widen the neck, just as I’d had to do for my own.  Even daughter no1, whose head isn’t exactly large, had a problem in getting the Talvikki on over her head.   I wonder if that’s something other people have had an issue with with their Talvikki sweaters?  Have you made one and had trouble pulling it over your head,or is it just us??

I made the same adjustments for the second green sweater as I’d made for my own and it all seemed to work out fine.  I was pretty glad there was enough of the racing green sweatshirting to run up another sweater, but the girls need to make sure they discuss outfits before they meet up anywhere!


So that covers some of the sweaters I’ve made in the last few weeks, but it’s not all of them!  Stay tuned for my first adventures with the Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater that everyone and their best friend was sewing earlier this year.


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BurdaStyle 7/8 trousers 105 May 2017

I’ve found another favourite trouser pattern to add to my list.  I liked the cropped wide trousers from the May 2017 edition immediately and dived into the stash almost straight away to find something suitable to cut up!  I went ahead and traced the 44 & 42 anyway. (44 for the waist, grading to the 42 at the hip and down)   I had an idea that a piece of grey chambray I’d bought from Croft Mill last year to make a top just might be good for this pattern.

cropped 3

The fabric was narrow than that required, and although I had 2m, it wasn’t enough to make the trousers up as the pattern was.  The bottom part of the trouser leg is folded in half to make a deep cuff, that was the first bit to go, no double folding, just a deep hem.  Next, the easiest bit to change – the pocket linings.  I used a scrap of Liberty lawn, black and charcoal with madly bright printed flowers.

cropped 1

I haven’t shortened the pattern at all, and I think maybe, just maybe, I should look at removing about 4cm from the length, in the main trouser section, probably a the knee line.  I’m happy with the length while wearing them, but when I see photos I do think they could possibly look better shorter.  Especially if I’m wearing flats.  They’re almost culottes, no pleats or extra width, but wearing them feels like wearing culottes, without the extra bulk.

collage cropped 1

Enter version two!!  I was digging in the stash for something else entirely when I dug out a large-ish piece of lightweight black linen.  I immediately thought of the cropped trousers again, I don’t have a pair of black linen trousers yet.  This was a piece that had already been cut into, I cannot remember what else I’d made from it!  I used the pattern in the same way as the first pair, still not enough fabric to do the double cuffs.  The waistband facing is cut from white and black polka dot cotton, which is used for the pocket linings too.

cropped 8

It just needed a bit of something else…  I thought there might be some silver ribbon or something in the ribbon box that could be useful and came up with a bit of silver piping instead!  It’s so cool on the edge of the pocket, but there is one drawback.  The pockets are nice and deep, the angle of entry just “gives” enough to be able to shove your hands in comfortably.  However, with the piping on a cotton tape this doesn’t really happen, not to mention the piping is not soft, the silver metallic threads are rough.  So it’s not as comfortable to shove my hands in these pockets as it is in the other pair.

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I love the back pocket, deep enough to hold my mobile phone 🙂  All buttons came from the stash, as did the zips, although I now have to replenish my stash of black invisible zips.  I have yet to make the full length version, but as it’s quite similar to others I have, I might give it a miss, enjoying the cropped versions for what’s let of our British summer (which already feels like autumn….)  I know southern Europe is struggling with the intense heatwave of the last few weeks, but I don’t think we’d mind if the Jet Stream shifted a little more north and brought us some of that heat for a little.

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In the mean time, I’m working on a 1920s flapper dress in gold and black sequins for a friend to wear to a themed ball early in September, trying to get my Morgan Boyfriend jeans to fit better and find the time to run up a black linen jumpsuit before it’s too late to wear it.  See you on the other side!!!

cropped 9


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Burda top 105 02/2016

The fourth, and most definitely not the last version of this top, Burda 105 from February 2016.  This is the result of a nice big stash bust!  In moving fabric from the original stash position in my bedroom cupboard, to it’s new home in the guest room cupboard (until it has a “permanent” home in the sewing room), I came across this gorgeous metallic silver embroidered linen.  I bought it in 2009 to make a corset.  Needless to say the corset has never seen the light of day, but I did have a decent amount of the fabric left-over to be useful.

argentum 1

Combined with a small piece of cream linen from the scrapbox, which thankfully matched the embroidery, this top was born!  I think I might be able to make these in my sleep now.  I wish I could, at any rate!  Sewing in your sleep while still a. producing something wearable, and b. getting much needed rest would be a super power I could deal with.  The metallic linen is sturdier than the cream, because of the metallic finish and the embroidery.  This gives the top a more boxy shape than any of the other versions, which I quite like. I love wearing it with my Birkin Flares.

collage argentum

I’ve had many comments on the top, it’s not often you see a lovely fabric like this.  I am concerned that the metallic finish might wash off (given the rotation it’s currently enjoying in my wardrobe, this is a major worry!), so I’m washing on a handwash cycle in the machine for now.  It doesn’t like the iron, so needs to be pressed on the reverse.

collage argentum 2

I had to cut the back without a fold and meant to use a centre seam, but in the cutting out, because I hadn’t marked that it still needed seam, I cut along the back edge.  Clever…  However, because the fabric was to be a corset and I still had all the bits left over, I had a pile of cut and pressed self bias binding.  So using a 5mm seam on each back piece, a bias strip now forms the centre back.  It looks like it’s supposed to be there on the outside, so I’m not complaining.  So another successful stashbust for me!

Roads Untravelled

And patterns unmade!  There’s one problem with buying Burda magazines every month for the last 20 years.  I have loads and loads and loads of patterns that I thought I’d make but have not got round to.  During Me Made May this year I spotted a rather nice top on my IG feed.  Turns out the pattern was one from a Burda magazine that I’d marked to make – you know the rest!

top 124 Burda 05/2015

Having identified a lack of white tops in my wardrobe, it was decided to make the pattern up in some gorgeous white viscose voile from Croft Mill.  This fabric is to die for, just beautiful (but no longer available!).  Having bought 2 metres and found just how lovely it was, I immediately got another 3 to hide in the stash!  I know I’m supposed to be clearing it out, but this will be a useful stash, white never goes out of fashion.  *whispers* and I could always die it…


The pattern is 124 from May 2015, available from the Burdastyle site as a download here.  I traced the 44 and added just the length part of a FBA as there was plenty of width for me.  I used the seam across the bust to add a total 3cm in length.  Seems to have worked pretty well.  Necklines too close to the neck aren’t usually my thing, I feel like I’m being strangled!  Scoop and v-necks are more my look, but this works.  The keyhole opening gives interest to the front (no mono-boob) and there’s enough room at the neck not to feel choked.


French seams and double turned hems keep the insides all neat and tidy and the bias edges are lovely for the neckline.  I’ve worn this top at least one a week since making it, pretty much as soon as it’s clean and ironed, I’m wearing it again!  I think I need more white viscose voile tops!  The button is a vintage glass find from a local antique shop, so pretty!

The silk version

I think it’s a good pattern for mixing and matching too, using scraps and odd ends of fabrics.  Just to test that theory I made another from stashed fabrics.  This top started with a piece of devine blue silk satin bought from Rosenberg and Son years and years ago (it was one of those you have to get, despite not having any idea when you’ll use it).  It was narrow and I’d cut bits out of the one end to use in a blouse about 5 years ago.  funny, that exact fabric is what I’m using in this top!  That blouse was the thinnest silk satin devore and it holied up pretty quickly.  But, as usual, I hadn’t thrown it out.


My new top would combine fabrics again, but with the plain silk satin as the dominant fabric.  The back yoke and sleeves were cut from the larger areas of the original top and the blue fabric made up the rest.  It’s beautiful!!  The satin is heavier and drapier than the viscose voile, which has the effect of pulling down more – making that keyhole opening lower..  it’s fine while standing and walking, but when sitting, it’s a little too low.  Either I live with it or I do something about it, but I’m not sure what without totally ruining the look.

Contrast fabric forming the sleeves and back yoke

French seams were not on the table this time round, the silk was too thick and would have left bulky evidence on the right side, so the overlocker was drafted in.  Hems aren’t double turned either, this stuff is slippery as all heck and a nightmare to turn on a tight curve!  Thankfully the bias behaved itself.  I really like this pattern, why did it take me two years to get round to making it up after marking it as interesting??

collage deep blue

I’m definitely going to be making more, it’s a pattern that could be useful for using up all sorts of smaller pieces of fabrics, and for playing with bias yokes – thinking stripes here.  I might even change the sleeve to a three quarter length and have some for my winter wardrobe, it’s about time to start thinking of warmer clothes now, like it or not.  And coats!!