Burda birdie drawstring top

blue bird drawstring top

I knew I’d make another one of these. I just needed another metre of fun chiffon and this little birdie print was perfect. All totally synthetic of course but I’m learning not to be such a fabric snob in my old age and hey… you can’t argue at £2.50 a metre!

I had a couple of issues with the last one I made, namely the size of the armholes. It transpires that this was partially due to the stretch in the other fabric because the alterations I made – namely ditching the side seam allowance and raising the underarm point by 1 inch – have made a larger difference than anticipated. But its all good and there will be no fashion faux pas when wearing this one!

blue bird drawstring top

Advisable to seam the sides with French seams. It gives a very satisfying finish but the instructions provided are otherwise very simple to follow.

Below is a pic of the back view as requested. Exactly the same as the front, in case you thought I might have the ability to rotate my head a whole 180 degrees! And you also get to see the print a bit better here too.

blue bird drawstring top back view

Actually. Maybe they’re not birdies. Maybe they are the little fluffy bits from a dandelion clock. Hey ho. Cute all the same!

Since my last post, the instructions for the pattern are free to download from Burdastyle here. It’s called the Summer Tank 05/2013. If you are not already a member I can assure you it’s worth the registration with this site. The gallery is constantly being updated with inspirational uploads from fellow sewists and there are plenty of other free pattern downlads available among the great ones you can purchase.

Thanks as always to Mr O for the great photography. He snapped these literally in seconds this evening. That birthday camera was worth its weight in gold! 😉

Pinstripe Spencer Jacket: the inside story

finished jacket by the fountains

finished jacket by the fountains

First I must thank you all for your lovely comments on my initial post about the finished jacket. I’m so touched and I love that warm and fuzzy feeling I get when they find their way into my mailbox!

So as promised, here is some nitty gritty detail from the project for those that might be considering this jacket for the first time.

Burda jacket #131 11/2012

Burda jacket #131 11/2012

Though I am pleased overall, with the results. I can’t help being niggled that more tailoring techniques weren’t employed. I’ve only myself to blame. I could have researched them myself but there’s always a next time!

The jacket is cut from pieces #131, Burda Style magazine 11/2010 but the construction details are from #130. The only difference being that I chose the full length sleeves with vents… and proper working buttonholes… glutton for punishment, me!

I made the toile back in February and was intending to make adjustments to the waist only. But I got worried about it’s ‘snugness’ and just went up a size in the end. A little bit chicken perhaps, but also concerned that I was more likely to be wearing a few layers underneath in the colder months!

It is essential that you make a toile. There is so much work involved in this, you don’t want to get to the end to find it doesn’t fit!!!

My first slip up, that I DIDN’T clock until I got round to dealing with it, was the back vent. I am so used to adding the statutory 15mm seam allowance to each edge that I clean forgot to add 4cm as specified, to the vent openings. Doh. I could kick myself. It doesn’t look so bad in the photos but I know that it isn’t created properly. It is intended as a ‘split’ but would have been so much neater with an interfaced proper allowance. So please remember to do this if and when you cut yours! I would even go as far as to make it a vent rather than a split. But that opens another can of worms with the lining!

back split that really wants to be a vent!

back split that really wants to be a vent!

The miniature pattern layouts indicate what pieces are to be interfaced with fusible interfacing. I did toy with the idea of sewing traditional interfacing. I liked the idea of employing some traditional skills but I agreed with myself that I was embarking on a big enough journey and that the fusible stuff would be just as good for what I was trying to achieve.

And so the interfaced pieces included: centre front; side front; outer collar stand; under collar; back facing; outer pocket flap; neck and armhole edge of centre back.

The main construction of the body came together very easily. Darts seams and pressing.

But then came my reality check. Welt pockets with flaps. Needless to say I practiced these before the real thing. You can see how I got on with this here. Well worth checking out YouTube or the Burda site for instructions. I challenge anyone to get the gist of welt pockets from the following instructions!! Or it could be just me!!

pocket instructions

I am over the moon at how they turned out in the finished fabric. I don’t intend to put anything in the pockets, for goodness sakes, don’t want to misshapen them! But I am so proud when I slip my hand inside. Feels so special! And no one gets to see that lovely welt under the flap, except moi! Though I have pointed it out to a few of my friends who smile loyally with raised eyebrows!

welt pocket

welt pocket

pocket lining

peek at the pocket lining

Next up was the notched collar. This was actually not as scary as I was anticipating. I did pin and I did baste before stitching and it all worked out just fine. The stitches sank invisibly into the wool when I machined the seam so I didn’t want to risk having to unpick at any point! Neat trimming and clipping is essential and it is also important to take care when you ‘push out your points’ Very easy to push a pointed implement through the point of the lapel, (especially if you are using soft wool) and ruin everything. It’s worth being slow and patient with this part because it is such a lovely sharp feature. You’ll be really chuffed when it comes together at this point.

pointy lapel

pointy lapel and notched collar

There was a suggestion to sew the pointed lapels to the underside of the collar to keep them in place but I didn’t really feel this was necessary for the weight of the fabric I used. I like being able to turn up the collar when its chilly!

Now shall we talk mitred corners? I’m so glad these were included. It makes so much sense and makes such neat corners. Nothing else will ever do from now on! Of course it goes without saying that you won’t survive with these instructions, especially if this is your first time…!

mitred corner instructions

… so I went with these instead!

I mitred the sleeve vents and the back vent in the same way. Though I had created a bit of a monster on the back vent by forgetting the extra allowance. Please don’t forget this!!!

back vent mitred corners

not enough SA on the vent but check out those mitred corners baby!

When I came to set in the sleeves I realised I had clean forgot a couple of notches. You will never work out how to inset those sleeves if you forget the notches, I can tell you. Mostly because I tried… and failed… 3 times!!! Till I relented and placed the pattern pieces over the made up sleeves and marked them.

Once I’d put the shoulder pads in, I tried it on and grinned from ear to ear. I was definitely on the home straight! But one niggling factor was that I didn’t like how the sleeve just ‘hung limp’ off the shoulder. I had heard mention of sleeve headings before but obviously never had to take full notice. So I found this little tute in my book Readers Digest: New Complete Guide to Sewing. This book has been so useful and really didn’t let me down this time.

Make a sleeve heading:

Cut 2 pieces of 3 x 5 in (7.3 x 12.5 cm) pieces of lamb’s wool, flannel, or polyester fleece. I had some leftover cotton flannel from my son’s pyjamas. Probably not as weighty or as poofy as lamb’s wool but it was better than nothing!

sleeve cap pieces

sleeve cap pieces

Make a 1 in (2.5 cm) fold on long side of each piece. How lucky is this. My fabric had 1 in square pattern!

sleeve cap fold

sleeve cap fold

Centre and pin heading to wrong side of sleeve cap with fold against seamline, wider half of heading against sleeve.

sleeve cap pinned in position

sleeve cap pinned in position

Whipstitch fold of sleeve heading to sleeve seamline. Heading now supports and rounds out sleeve cap.

without sleeve cap

without sleeve cap

The difference is subtle but is hugely important for my self satisfaction!

with sleeve cap

with sleeve cap

Before I lined the jacket I neatened and pressed all the seams. I did wonder if you have to neaten the raw edges, after all they wont show but I was worried about it fraying inside with wear and if it might eventually have a knock on effect to the seams coming apart. Probably over worrying but better to be safe than sorry was my own conclusion. But here presented my next concern. As much as I pressed this gorgeous wool, the seams would not lie perfectly flat throughout and I knew that would affect the overall shape and create a lumpy lining. And who would want lumpy lining?!

So I decided to stitch the seams down, like a good tailor lady. But hey! Guess what little tailoring trick was missing. NO UNDERLINING!!! Not that I have ever had to underline anything to date. But I have heard about it. I have wondered why you would want to but now it was blindingly obvious. My fabric was sturdy enough to live without it but how much easier would it have been to sew the seams down flat onto an underlining. I will definitely underline next time I make a jacket and I wholly advise you to do this even if you think your fabric is sturdy enough. It makes sense you know!! Fortunately my fabric was quite thick with a forgiving texture!

stitching seams down sans underlining

stitching seams down sans underlining

I found it was much easier to do, over my knee, whilst watching The Paradise! And also safer to stitch onto the interfaced pieces.

stitching seams down on interfaced sections

stitching seams down on interfaced sections

Hemming was easy with this fabric but be aware that a curvy hemline is naturally created with all those shaped pieces. To take in that excess fabric I just made a couple of tucks either side of the vent, symetrically positioned so that the finished shape was uniform. You’ll notice here that there is no evidence of interfacing. After I hemmed I remembered I was supposed to interface the hems. So I dutifully unpicked all that hand stitching, cut some strips of fusible interfacing, fused it on and re-hemmed. BUT do remember to interface the hem sections of your pieces from the start and NOT at this stage. You know it makes sense 😉

wavy hemline

wavy hemline

So then came the lining. I had pondered a silk lining but the lilac poly satin I found was so lush I looked no further. So long as you remember your ‘ease pleat’ in the centre back, you can’t go far wrong. I can’t give to much advice about this stage because I kind of winged it!!! But what I did remember to do was to push the lining up to the hemline of the outer fabric and roll it down over itself to create more ease and allow for shrinkage. Not that poly lining shrinks but I think its general practice! I did the same on the sleeves. I’m not sure I lined the vents on the sleeves properly but it works… of a fashion!

The buttons were a lucky find, though I was gutted I couldn’t find smaller coconut shell buttons. The two pictured here were way to big even for the front! So sparkly resin shank buttons it was. Lucky to find them in 2 different sizes at Shepherds Bush market. 20p each… a snip!

raspberry buttons

I WILL find a perfect use for those coconut shell buttons!

I created the buttonholes on the machine. Holding my breath as I did so. You know how it is. There’s always a chance of a wayward buttonhole! But next time I would love to try bound buttonholes. Karen did such a beautiful job with hers and I bet it feels far more special to button up with bound ones!

Well here ends my waffly post of niggles. I hope to have been of some help and not too much of a waffling bore!

Have a wonderful weekend all…. wrap up warm!! x

Lady grey retro top

burda top 131 back

I saw the pattern for this top in the May issue of Burda Style (2012) and it made the project list, even usurping the more ‘urgent’ projects! The back as you can see is fabulously buttoned all the way down which I love but have you ever tried buttoning yourself up back to front? I have got better with practice though, and I reckon I could give Houdini a run for his money now!

burda top 131 front

The fabric suggestion was for embroidered batiste. I didn’t have any of that to hand but knew the fabric had to be a little bit interesting to make the front not look so boring! I have a heap load of this white eyelet stuff in my stash. I thought it was cotton but when I did the burn test it proved not! I still thought it would be better dyed. I always feel a bit prim and proper in white! This is the result of using black dye on a not so totally natural white fabric…

eyelet fabric detail

I quite like how it turned out. The dye coverage is uneven, probably only colouring the small amount natural fibre content to get this linen look. And the embroidered detail, which I knew was synthetic, unsurprisingly remained white.

retro top front

I went up a size from my usual, (given the few extra pounds that have decended upon me recently) but to be honest I probably needn’t have done. The style is very boxy even though it has front and bust darts. But it is very cool to wear, perfect for what appears to be our summer (not holding my breath) and perfect for teaming with pencil skirts for work.

retro top front view by wall

So apart from taking it a size smaller the only other alteration I would make is to the neckline. The instructions were to sew the bias binding 1cm past the seamline. This struck me as a bit weird as it would have been easier not to have added a seam allowance in the first place, surely? Anyhows I sewed the bias binding ON the seamline…. afterall isn’t that what a seamline is for? It turned out ok, much like a vintage jewel neckline but I am going to try omitting the seam allowance next time, just to give a little more room to breathe!