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).

professor plum 1

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!

collage professor plum
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!

professor plum 3

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.

professor plum 4

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!

Stashbusting Trousers


There’s a lot of sewing to catch up on, so here goes.  Two years ago I made a purchase of two pieces of grey wool (amongst other things – of course) from Croft Mill Fabrics.  One of the pieces of wool is a suiting weight blend of viscose and mohair, and really wasn’t what I’d expected when it turned up!  I pictured something thicker and warmer – snuggly…  This was fine, had a sheen and was rather fluid.  So it went into the stash until I could come up with something.

Eventually, after making this pair of Burda trousers earlier in the year, I decided to reuse the pattern and finally make up the silver grey fabric.  Go stashbusting!  I opted for the longer length view and the mini turn ups, leaving off the welt pockets at the back.  I don’t use the ones on the other trousers at all, and it’s just annoying to have to iron the darn things flat each time.

I used the same fitting alterations as the last time, but didn’t shorten the pattern at all! There is no stretch in this fabric at all, and it’s shown that I probably need to make a chunky calf adjustment.  It wasn’t a problem with the last pair because of the stretch content.  Because the fabric is so thin and fine I decided to add a little something and raided my linings bag for something suitable to line the trousers.  I picked out a green viscose lining and used it to half line the fronts.

There are no contrast fabrics anywhere else, the waistband and pockets are all in the main fabric.  I’m really happy with the result, although I can see that they may not make it all the way through winter, being so thin.  But they’re surprisingly warm(-ish).  I love the mini turn-ups, and the finished length is perfect for wearing with heels or my silver brouges.  Definitely making another sometime.  I’ve worn them once a week since I made them, which is a good sign!




Love these little cuffs!


More catching up to come, although it won’t be stashbusting…


Silver Dream

Burdastyle trousers and silk top

It’s good to be pushed out of your comfort zone sometimes.  I joined in with a Facebook Group sew-along that started in January where the challenge was to make 8 items using patterns already in your stash.  The idea, to look again at what you had bought and never got round to using.  Those poor patterns you buy on impulse because you like the cover, or you’ve seen someone online make it and you liked it but for some reason you just haven’t committed.


It all came to an end at the end of April, and my 8th submitted item was these trousers.  The pattern is Burda 6689, I think I bought it about 3 years ago, intending to make Daughter No 1 a pair.  Needless to say we never got round to it, so it was the perfect pattern to finish off my collection of tops.  The fabric is from Fabric Godmother.  Thank goodness there wasn’t a stipulation that the fabric all had to come from the stash too, because I’d have lucked out here!!  Although, this is the only new piece I bought to complete the challenge.

Gratuitous bum shot, you can still see the pockets through the fabric…

I initially toiled the 46, then realised, as usual, that it was too big.  After making the 44 the crotch depth had to be reduced by 1cm, crotch curves had to change (come closer to the body) and the back crotch scooped out a little more.  The crotch length in the back was decreased, bringing the waistband down about 1.5cm.  The inseams were taken in on the back only.  That seemed to work, the toile hung straight and there were minimal drag lines.  There was a hope that the final fabric, having more body than the toile fabric, would hang well and all would be good!


The fabric itself is yummy, quite soft and subtle with a decent stretch.  However, I think it’s one of those fabrics that will lose colour on folded edges so although I ironed the front crease in well for the photos and first wear, I will not continue to do so.  I think I will end up with a nice pale line down the front of my pants.  I used a piece of left over Liberty city poplin for the pocket linings and inner waistband.  This stops the waistband stretching out of shape with wear.


I love the back pockets, initially I wasn’t going to do them, but I’m glad I did.  I took my time over them, with the stretch fabric I didn’t want things going awry.  I basted and whipstitched and did all those things you’re supposed to do with proper pockets, rather than just whip my way though!  All the insides are overlocked, I could have French seamed the pockets but was worried about seeing the lines through the outer fabric.


(Click on the thumbnails to see full size images)

The finished trousers are pretty good.  I think I still need to work on the crotch depth/length though.  Might just be the fabric, during the day they definitely get baggier and looser around the bum area and I end up pulling the waistband up more.  The front still needs work too, that’s a job for the next pair.  Once I put them on I wasn’t so sure about the length!  I’ve been wearing floor skimming Birkin Flares all winter so these tapered pants floating high above my ankles feel a little funny.  So I unfolded the 3cm hem and dug out some wide bias tape.  I’ve attached the tape with a 5mm seam and used that for the hem.  So these pants are 2.5cm longer than they should be, I never thought I’d be lengthening a pair of Burda trousers for me!!!



I love the colour of these pants, they go with just about everything in my wardrobe and can switch between casual and smart with ease.  If I don’t come up with anything else, I might even wear them to a wedding we have to go to in July.  I quite liked using only patterns from the stash, not including the Burda magazines, I didn’t think I had all that many – turns out there are plenty, and still some I haven’t used (let alone printed off or downloaded…..).  No more waste!!

For Me-Made-May this year I’ve decided to identify gaps in my handmade wardrobe and to finish them within the month, as well as to use more from my re-make/re-cut bag.  So we’ll see what I come up with!



And it’s January again

The roundabout never stops!  Here we go again, another year, another January and another “oops, I’ve not blogged for ages and there’s stuff to show off but….”

Hopefully something resembling “normal service” will resume soon, but I wouldn’t count on it!  Last year passed in somewhat of a whirlwind with Autumn disappearing on me completely due to my extended stay in the Southern hemisphere.  I’m still working on issues that have arisen from that trip, which partly explains the lack of posting – and the complete lack of sewing.  It’s just about 3 weeks into the new year and I’ve finished nothing sewing related.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a pile of fabric and patterns waiting for me, just the inspiration to get going and the time to fit it in around what I brought back with me.  I’m hoping to achieve some sort of balance soon so the sewing can resume, especially as I have just taken on a new project.

I’ve joined the volunteer costume making team at Anne Hathaway’s cottage – she being the wife of a certain Mr William Shakespeare.  I’m quite excited to get cracking on making things I’ve always wanted to make, but had absolutely no practical reason to do so!  I’ve started a new Pinterest board to collect ideas, dug out my historical costume pattern cutting books and ordered a couple of new ones.  I’ll be focussing on menswear first, but need to make a couple of 18th century ladies outfits too.  Any pointers greatfully received!!

One garment I did manage to finish last year after I got back was a pretty, softly draping viscose blouse for my Aunt in Cape Town.  I used Tunic 107 from the April 2016 Burdastyle magazine, mostly because I had it with me in South Africa, hoping to make a pair or two of the wide legged trousers in the same issue!  The fabric is lovely, a pretty floral print with contrast border that worked perfectly for the collar, sleeve bands and neckline treatment.  It meant I didn’t have to go looking for something else and all the colours worked well together already.  I cut it out there, but got nowhere with making it up until I’d got back.

Tunic 107 Burdastyle April 2016

I made a narrow shoulder adjustment but otherwise cut a straight 38.  It went together really well, French seams used throughout.  I’m tempted to make one for myself if I can bear to add more fabric to the piles on the cutting table!

I raised the point at which the front sections are sewn together by about 5-6 cm


I love the neat little sleevebands

The reason I had that April Burdastyle in South Africa was so that I could run up a pair of viscose trousers before the weather got too hot.  I made it by days..  I’d taken the fabric with me, cut but no further along, and it took ages for me to find the time to get stuck in and sew.  Eventually I got them finished, and it really was in the nick of time.  I love how they swish softly around my ankles and they were perfect in the hot weather.  So good in fact, that I popped into a local fabric store and bought another couple of metres of border printed viscose and made another.


Trousers 106 Burdastyle April 2016

The first pair were fully French seamed, this time I threw that all out of the window.  The linen trousers I’d brought from the UK were too thick to cope in the developing humidity and speed was of the essence.  A simple zigzag finish did the job and I managed to finish the second pair in a few late nights – desperation!!  I think I might love the second pair more than the first, although you’ll have to wait for the summer later this year to see proper photos.

Measuring the hem very carefully!
Happy that the pattern lined up well around the leg
Loving being comfy and cool in my new trousers

So now I need some oompfh and inspiration to make a dent in the two piles currently awaiting my attention on the cutting table.  Hoping you’re all sewing much faster than me this new year.

Washed Linen Trousers

Another pair of linen trousers in my favourite Burdastyle pattern
Another pair of linen trousers in my favourite Burdastyle pattern

I love this fabric!!  It’s a charcoal and off white marl linen, of decent weight that I got from the NEC back in March.  I love the result of pairing this fabric with this particular pattern too.  The tee is the grey viscose from a couple of posts back and both items have been worn a few times on holiday.

P1140388-1There really isn’t much to say about these that I haven’t said about the pattern loads of times before!  The fabric wasn’t tricky to work with, definitely needed to be overlocked as soon as it was cut and I made sure to staystitch the upper edge while working with it to prevent stretching out.

P1140404-1P1140395-1Loving it with all shoes too! 🙂

Collage grey linenP1140407-1On a slightly sad note, those beautiful natural coloured herringbone linen trousers I posted about here, are no longer wearable. 😦  I wore them on my first day of holiday, and washed them later at a family member’s house but never thought to check the temperature the washing machine was set on.  Needless to say, linen washed at 60C never survives….  Gutted!!!  So now I’m on the hunt for another piece, Ditto Fabrics have none left. All suggestions for replacement fabric welcome!


Burda Love

How often do you wear matching items?  Some of you might wear suits for work, I never have!  In an attempt to bust a little stash fabric, and to have more items made for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe, I originally wanted to make two pairs of trousers from a 3m piece of stretch cotton sateen from Croft Mill Fabrics that I’d bought last year.  Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough for both pairs so while I sat there looking at the laid out fabric hoping to find a way, inspiration hit.  There could be enough for a jacket & trousers…


It took a little playing around, pattern piece tetris is a real thing.  The left picture shows the layout I ended up with and the little pile of skinny scraps on the right is all I was left with once it was all cut out!  I cut the inner waistband and both pocket pieces from different fabrics in the scrap box to save space.

The trouser pattern is 109 from Burdastyle magazine March 2010 and the jacket is my old staple, 116 from Burdastyle magazine April 2009.  I think this is the fifth version now!  I decided to leave the jacket unlined, and to use Hong Kong finish on all the internal raw edges. A piece of pansy print Liberty lawn was liberated from the scrap box that worked perfectly against the beige.  I cannot tell you how many metres of bias I cut in the end, suffice to say it was a lot.  Because the jacket was unlined, the shoulder pads were covered in the same fabric.  I had thought I’d get away without them but the jacket looked all frumpy and structure-less.

Burda Addict

So, trousers.  I went for the shorter version and still chopped out 4cm.  A remnant of silk was cut for the pockets, and a pocket facing was added, using the cotton sateen so you don’t just see silk at the opening.  The pockets are of the in-seam variety.  The inner waistband was cut from a remnant of printed cotton sateen that had made a pair of trousers and a skirt for the daughters in the past.  The button closure and trouser hook & eye came from the stash.  I overlocked all edges before starting to sew, that way I don’t have to stop and start and can get a pair of pants made in a day.


I really like the colour it goes with all my new handmade tee-shirts!  The stretch is really comfortable, I like the stitched seam on the front pieces, it gives a sense of length, which is sorely needed.

collage burda trousers 1
Trouser details, contrast inner waistband, trouser hook & eye, silk lined pockets

The jacket pattern is one I have made many times now.  I think this is the most crisp though.  Even my linen one, lined, is softer.  Just means I need to work harder to remove that darn double chin my family genes is/are so fond of….   I really wanted a light weight jacket, so no lining.  That also means far less structure and interfacing than I’d normally use.  Only the facings and collar pieces are interfaced, relying on the structure of the fabric to give the jacket a good shape.


I love the insides!

The jacket was actually made fairly quickly, considering the metres and metres of bias that needed to be attached!  The reason why it hasn’t seen the light of day until now (apart from no photographer) is that I couldn’t for the life of me find the right buttons.  Beige buttons on a beige jacket are BORING!  Metallic ones just looked too bling.  White looked insipid and black too much of a contrast.  So I was stuck.  Help came in the shape of a friend who went through my buton stash with fresher eyes than mine.  She found these interesting regtangular buttons and practically dared me to use them.  Challenge accepted!

Collage jacket details
Burda jacket details, covered shoulder pads, Hong Kong seams finish & rectangular buttons.

The shape and texture on the buttons makes them far more interesting than ordinary brown round ones, so I’m happy with the result.  I also sort of want to wear this jacket inside out! The only time anyone will see the pretty insides is when I take it off and lay it flashily on the back of a chair.  🙂

Tee 138 from Burdastyle magazine March 2011 in grey viscose jersey

On to the last item for the day!  I’d ordered two pieces of grey viscose jersey from Croft Mill Fabrics, dark grey, & a lighter, silvery piece at the beginning of March.  Can I just say, these jerseys are so soft!!  They have the most amazing drape which means every bit needs to be stabilised!  I chose a tee-shirt pattern I’d liked before but not got round to tracing, 138 form the March 2011 Burdastyle magazine.  It’s in the plus-size section.  I liked the twisted neckline treatment and the tab on the sleeves.


I made the 46 with a 6cm FBA but with this soft fabric I wonder if I could have got away with the smaller size.  The armhole seams, front and back, are stabilised with Vilene bias tape, having learnt the hard way last year that this sort of fabric keeps going down….  Initially the neckline wasn’t stabilised, but as the day wore on I realised that wasn’t my brightest idea, so back to the ironing board it went.  Now the neckline, while a little low, doesn’t try to migrate any further south.  The neck band is simply a rectangle that isn’t folded symmetrically.  Once the centre back seam is stitched, instead of folding and pressing you move the seams 3cm apart which gives a little pull on the folded edge.  This creates the “twist”.


The sleeves with tabs are easy to sew, if using a soft fabric like this though, I suggest you iron on a bit on knit interfacing where the tab goes to stop the fabric stretching as you do the topstitching.  Unfortunately, this fabric doesn’t work folded up.  It’s too soft!  I don’t really mind, the sleeves are a good length and I like the detail left with the buttons and stitched squares.  The only other adjustment I made was to remove length.  I took 5cm off the bottom and still turned up a 4cm hem.  I get that some people prefer longer tops to hide things, but on me I’d look very, very short and definitely feel like I was wearing a tent!


All said, I am happy with my new outfit, not 100% sure if I will actually wear the matching jacket and pants together, but I have that option.  All items are in my suitcase for the holiday as with colours like this you can wear anything!  Score more for busting some stash & scraps, making a matching outfit and using freshly bought fabric before it found the stash!

I Put a Spell on You

Linen.  It’s one of my all time favourite fabrics to use.  It’s definitely put a spell on me!  I bought this gorgeous sky and white herringbone linen from Ditto Fabrics in January for a pair of trousers.  Unfortunately they don’t have any left for me to direct you to!  I decided not to use one of my usual patterns with wide legs as I had two in herringbone already. I went with a tapered leg style, number 103 from Burdastyle magazine April 2013.

Burdastyle trousers in sky herringbone linen
Burdastyle trousers in sky herringbone linen

I overlocked all the pieces before working with them as the linen frayed quite badly.  I made the 44, grading up to a 46 from the hip upwards.  I like the pressed pleat down the front and am pretty happy with the shape of the leg, although I might still shorten them a bit.  They’re already 6 cm shorter than the original pattern.


The tee is a modified Maria Denmark Birgitte tee.   Fabric came in the same parcel from Ditto Fabrics as the linen, it’s a lovely soft navy blue viscose jersey.  For the pattern adjustments, I flared out the sides by 3cm and added a shaped hem.  Then  I cut a back yoke and cut the lower back on the fold with enough to add a small inverted pleat in the centre.  It’s just enough to have a bit more movement.


Inverted pleat, back yoke and shirt shaped hem


But I wasn’t happy with just one pair of trousers.  Oh no, I had to order plain blue navy linen from Fabworks Online to make another pair to wear with patterned (striped) tees!

One more pair please!

Worn here with my self drafted cowl drape tee, this is exactly why I made the plain pants!  I realise I hadn’t gone into any detail about this tee, you saw it first back in January with my first pair of Birkin Flares.  I’ve not worn it until now, but it’s going into my suitcase next week, along with the blue trousers.  Both pairs of trousers and the blue tee form part of my “Sew Seasonal Wardrobe” for the Summer.


Got to have decent pockets..
Looks like I’m having a definite colour theme this year!

The tee is from my tee shirt block, I’d made the cowl drape pattern back in November last year to make something to wear to the dreaded wedding.  This is the same pattern, but with short sleeves.  The jersey is really something, also from Ditto Fabrics and from the same parcel as the blue jersey and sky herringbone linen!  Of all the fabric I ordered on that occasion from Ditto Fabrics, I have nothing left to find its way into my stash.  Nothing but scraps, it’s all been made up now!  Yippee!  Now what to make with the left-over bits…