Saturday 24 March 2012

Burda Style 02/2011 - 116 Dress

I know there are a lot of you desperate to see the back of the sack dress trend, but I find as long as I add some waist definition they are the perfect thing for our hot and humid summers, easy to wear and dress up or down.

One advantage of ditching the photographic section of my Burda magazines after a year (I do scan the "at a glance" pages of both garment photos and tech drawings) is that I really focus on the pattern lines rather than get distracted by the sometimes not very helpful photography.  In this case I knew I wanted a simple dress with a contrast yoke - I'd have missed this dress if I had just looked at the photos quickly.

(Incidentally this image is from a Russian site I discovered through Pattern Review that is pretty good for looking up Burda patterns, here is the link I use to run it through Google translate -

The construction for this dress is not very sensible - minor things that are easy to correct.  The yoke is lined but then the edges are basted together and stitched to the body of the dress so the seams show on the inside (this keeps the neck edge clean, but I'm sure it could be done a better way) and the sleeve bands are attached after the side seams are sewn up when it would be much simpler to put them in flat.

I've used a black jersey and a sequinned mesh fabric for the top layer of the yoke.

I left off the shoulder pleats and arm bands because my yoke is a sequin material on the outside which was too bulky to pleat & I did make jersey arm bands but preferred the cleaner look with them folded to the inside.  I also replaced the drawstring casing with a simple elastic casing, and made a separate tie belt.

Close up of yoke, the sequins are a bit more bronze in real life

The result is a super simple and comfortable going out dress, I already have another version cut out from the feather print sheer fabric I bought recently for a day version.

Thursday 22 March 2012

McCall's 6163 Knit Dress

This is one of the new dress patterns I purchased recently - McCall's 6163 mock wrap dress - originally because I planned to make a long sleeve version, but I was too slow for that so it is fortunate that this pattern has a few sleeve variations.

Gail warned me in the earlier comments that in the wrong fabric the front can look a bit sad and droopy, while the reviews over at Pattern Review mostly said it made up unusually small for a McCall's and to go up a size.  I mostly use either BurdaStyle magazine or Vogue patterns and while you might expect Vogue and McCall's to fit the same since they are the same company my limited experience with McCall's has shown that is not the case at all.  

Anyway, long story short, my experience was similar to Gail's, I cut a 14 rather than my usual Vogue 12 and it was huge everywhere.  I took in every seam, including the raglan sleeve seams, a lot to make this wearable.  I'd say it is about a 10 now with smaller sleeves - I remembered to make the adjustments to the pattern pieces for next time so I can make use of the other sleeve options sometime.

After all the messing about with the neckline the collar needed a lot of adjusting too and mostly due to laziness I just used the collar band pieces to make a mandarin style collar and left off the collar itself.  The belt doesn't do anything and can be removed, but I think it kind of adds to the illusion of a real wrap.

Close up of the fabric, burgundy and cream geometric print with metallic gold edging from

The dress looks a lot more flattering in the indoor photos, I think because the sun is casting such strong shadows in the outdoor one, but mustn't complain about that!

Yay - the sun is back!

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Skirt Update and Other Bits & Bobs

Good news, I just read today that Burda Style have released the skirt pattern as a download so if you don't have the magazine or cannot face the tracing sheets of doom then you can buy it here.

LisaB asked if the twist adds bulk at the front - well it does a bit yes which is why fabric choice is really important if you are sensitive about that.  You need something thin, yet drapy enough to hang properly - my cotton is on the floaty side.  I'm also thinking about shifting the twist detail to the side front, something like this skirt by Karen Millen.  I even like the colour and I am not a yellow fan at all - finally the trend for bright colours may be sinking in.

I get my Burda magazine through a local bookstore who reserve it for me each month and I usually get it here in Hong Kong around the end of the preceding month.  However April's arrived a bit early and I picked it up yesterday.  Expect to see these 2 patterns from me soon, I love them both.

Top 115

Alberta Ferretti dress 147

For a blog that is supposed to be a gallery of stuff I've made I realise there is not much going on here!  However I have actually finished 2 dresses in the last few weeks, I just need to get around to photographing them so hopefully they will be up here soon.  Then I have 2 more cut out - you have been warned - dress season is here folks!

And last, but by no means least, a huge thank you to both SewBarbie and Stepalica for nominating me for awards.  I will study the rules and come back with a proper post on those soon.

Friday 9 March 2012

Burda Style 03/2012 - 128 Skirt

Well the sun that I was so excited to see last week has gone and it is now raining and chilly!  I'm soldiering on with summer sewing regardless.

I thought this skirt in the March 2012 issue of Burda was really interesting, although I rarely wear skirts with a tucked in top (I don't know why when I am happy to wear a dress?) so a bit of wardrobe experimentation will be required.  Still even just a few years ago I had never worn a shift dress and now, as you no doubt already know,  I love them so a bit of a shake up might be a good thing.

Here's the pattern per Burda

This is my muslin version (hence no pockets) and I liked it enough to stick a zip in and finish the edges to make it wearable, but I think it would work much better in something more drapy and weightier (but not bulkier) than my crazy raspberry hawaii print lightweight cotton.  This version will be fine for very casual hot days, or for beach holidays (I have one booked for May, yay!), but I think I'll make a more sophisticated version for city wear.

Waistband close up

Back view

I often buy cotton like this when I see it at the market to use as muslin if nothing plain is available cheaply.  Speaking of the market Nancy K asked if I could speak Cantonese and the answer, embarrassingly after 11 years here, is no not really, just the absolute basics.  This is usually enough and like markets anywhere in the world you can go a long way with fingers and a calculator.  Some of the stallholders have more than one stall or sit out the back drinking tea and playing mahjong and just leave a notice with their mobile number on to call if you want to buy anything.  Not sure my Cantonese is up to that so I tend to only go to the manned stalls - the market is pretty big so in a way this makes it a bit less overwhelming.

Worn here with the Jalie empire T I made recently.  It looks black here but actually picks up the wine colour in the skirt. Try and imagine sun, palm trees and blue skies....
If you decide to make this, in addition to choosing the fabric carefully, here are some tips;

This pattern has an unusual shaped front and I found it really useful to write "top" and "side seam" on my traced pieces (they are marked on the pattern).  The instructions are actually OK in that they worked, but I think one step in the instructions is wrong.  About 2/3 into paragraph 2 Burda says;

"Pull integrated yoke of left front skirt panel out from inside, through opening in right side seam..."

The opening is actually in the centre front seam.  Once the front is in one piece it is just like any basic skirt pattern so I didn't use the instructions at all after that.

I think this could work in a jersey without the zip.  I know there is a similar jersey skirt in the same magazine (#118) but it is just made from a rectangle of fabric which just sounds too easy to look good.  Has anyone tried it?

Friday 2 March 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful

1) It's Friday!

2) My new patterns arrived.  I tried to be restrained and not buy things that I already have versions of somewhere, but I wasn't completely sensible as - surprise - they are all dress patterns.

Vogue Easy Options 8787

Vogue 1287 DKNY dress

McCall's 6163 Knit mock wrap dress

3) Most excitingly, Spring is here!  At least for the weekend, so here I am on our roof wearing my new dress while I can.

I've started on a (possibly wearable) muslin of the twisty waistband skirt from March Burda (#128) so look out for that next.