Monday, 28 October 2013

Another drape-front cardie

I wanted a quick break from my Burda makes (plus I needed to pre-wash the fabric I wanted to use next), so thought I would make a cardie - I need a few more cardies, as most of my favourites are looking rather tired now. I remembered I already had this pattern drafted from aaaaaages ago, and it only needed minor tweaks.

You may recognise this from the first version I made back in April last year, and wore in Me-Made-May '12. I will confess: I never wore it again... Eek! It was just such an awful fabric, and there were problems with the fit of the shoulders and the sleeves annoyed me. Oh, and I didn't like the length.

The original draft mostly followed Lauriana's tutorial on the BurdaStyle website. For this version, I made the following changes:

  • Added 10cm to the length.
  • Altered the shape of the lower front so that the drape wasn't so long at CF.
  • Narrowed the back at the hips and at the waist.
  • Added 1cm each side to the length of the collar at the top edge at CB.
  • Shortened the sleeves to three-quarter length.

I used a rayon-poly blend sweater knit from, and this time stabilised both the back neckline and shoulder seams with fusible tape (and an extra line of stitching at the back neckline). This has helped minimise the stretching that caused the first version to fall off my shoulders. I also stabilised the corner on the front pieces between the collar and shoulder to stop it fraying when it was clipped during construction.

I used a 4cm hem on the sleeves, and a 1cm hem around the main body and collar. Both of these were stitched using a three-step zig-zag. The wrong side shows on the drape when worn, so this gives a fairly neat finish. We will not mention the balls-up I made when I was sewing in the label and made a hole at the back neckline. No, we won't.

I'm much happier with this version, it looks like a proper cardie, rather than some weird shiny droopy thing. I think it could still do with a tweak to narrow the shoulders a little, but I know it will be worn lots this winter.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Batwing sleeve dress

Straight onto my next Burda Challenge - and I'm nearly up to date... There's actually a few patterns from this issue that I'd like to make. I wasn't particularly enamoured with this issue when I first saw it, but I always like to have a look at what's been sewn up the the users on the Russian BurdaStyle website. The creations of the talented and speedy women there inspired me with several choices, but I settled on this dress after seeing this version of the similar pattern number 108, with the dress more fitted.

Pattern description

BurdaStyle Magazine 09/2013/107: Loose fitting dress with draped batwing sleeves and slash neckline. I altered it heavily so that it was a fitted dress, and didn't add the star.

Pattern sizing

34-44. I cut my usual 42 on top and 44 on the bottom.

Fabric used

Teal/petrol RPL doubleknit and leopard print poly ITY, both from

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope when you were done?

Not really, as I altered the fit quite substantially.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

To be honest, I didn't actually look at the instructions. The changes I'd made to the pattern meant that the construction didn't really apply, plus it's basically three pattern pieces with some facings.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I really really like the sleeves in this pattern. To be honest, I made so many changes to the main dress pieces that I can't really comment on those. From what I'd seen on other makes (have a look at the versions on the Russian Burda website), the main dress is really, well, sack-like. Although, to be fair, I didn't adjust the fit on the skirt below the hipline, and this is drafted really nicely, with just the right amount of shaping to flatter.

The sleeves on the other hand are awesome. The draping is just the right amount to add movement and interest but without completely swamping the silhouette.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made


Most of the changes I made were in the fit of the main part of the dress. I compared the pattern pieces to my stretch block, and made the adjustments widthwise according to that, allowing for a little more ease than I normally draft as I wanted the dress semi-fitted, not skin-tight (plus I was using a doubleknit for the dress, which has less stretch than the jersey the block was drafted for). I know that the back darts in Burda patterns fit me quite well, so I left those exactly as is, but added a CB seam.

The neckline as drafted is effectively a very high cowl on both front and back. I wanted just a plain, high, slash neckline, so redrafted as such, and drafted appropriate facings.

I added small bust darts to try and keep the dress fairly fitted.

The sleeves I left almost unchanged, just narrowed at the wrist so they were closer fitting, and adjusted so that the armscye seams were the same length as the dress pieces. Even though I was using jersey rather than a woven I cut the sleeves on the bias so that they were as drapey as possible.

Construction details

I stabilised the neckline and shoulder seams with bias tape, and "staystitched" the armscyes so I didn't stretch them out during construction (it wasn't true staystitching as I removed it after attaching the sleeves). All seams were sewn with my serger, except the facing-neckline seam. The sleeve hems were sewn with a three-step zig-zag on my regular machine (over tissue paper again), and the skirt hem was sewn by hand to keep a clean look.

My modified order of construction:

  • Sew back darts, front darts and centre back seam.
  • Sew shoulder seams.
  • Sew CB and shoulder seams of neckline facing.
  • Sew facing to neckline, clip, turn and understitch.
  • Sew side seams and shoulder seams of sleeves.
  • Set in sleeves.
  • Hem sleeves and skirt.
I actually did an awful lot of hand basting with this dress. Although it adds time, I've realised it's much less time (and MUCH less frustrating) than everything going wonky and having to be unpicked and re-sewn. It was also fairly essential here as the leopard jersey was super slippery so needed many pins, which are always a bit risky when using a serger.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I'm not sure I'll sew this exact same pattern again, although I do really really like the fit, and the drape of the sleeves. Hmm, maybe! I might try and incorporate these features into other garments.

I would definitely recommend this to others, although I would also recommend redrafting the dress to be a closer fit, I think it is much more flattering like this.


This dress was actually a bit out my comfort zone: I redrafted it so that it was fitted, but not as tight as I normally like, and found it was actually quite flattering (not to mention super comfortable to wear). I'd originally intended to wear it with a belt, but it looked terrible, it made me look even bigger. It's rather liberating to have a little looseness around my waist! I wore this on Saturday night to a friend's leaving party (If I look a little dishevelled in the photos, they were taken at 4am...), and can confirm it is ridiculously comfortable to wear and very suitable for dancing!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Mostly photos

Hello! A brief post with some pictures of me wearing my August Burda Challenge scarfy top.

Having worn it for a full day, there's a few tweaks I'd make if I sew this again (lowering the front neckline a little more and moving the shoulder seams forward more), but it's comfortable to wear and makes me happy, and the poly content of the fabric means it washes pretty well too.

I wore it to see the MirĂ³ exhibition at Fondation de l'Hermitage in Lausanne - which was absolutely wonderful. There were more works than I thought there would be (it's a deceptively large exhibition space), and a fascinating short film of MirĂ³ in his studio in the later years of his life (although I found it really hard to understand his French as he spoke with a strong Spanish accent!). It was really interesting to see his working process - I always get the impression of speed and energetic brushstrokes with his paintings, but in reality everything is slow and careful and considered. I loved that after working on a painting, he'd prop it up against a trestle table and sit in his rocking chair to contemplate it.

I finished my September Burda Challenge this evening! I plan to wear it either tomorrow night or Saturday night, so hopefully I can get some photos and I'll post about it soon. In the meantime, here's a sneak peek...

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Scarfy sweater

Yeah, so I've got just a leeeeeetle behind with my Burda Challenges. I think I had too much fun over the summer, which ate into my sewing time - must learn not to do that... Right, so this is my August challenge. I really really wanted to make the blazer on the cover (have you seen Kristy's awesome version?), but then decided I wanted a quicker make, and one that I would get more use out of (I very rarely wear smart jackets). I still plan to make the blazer (I have fabric, lining and button all chosen), but will postpone it a little until after some more practical things.

Pattern description

BurdaStyle Magazine 08/2013/131: Knit top with long raglan sleeves, high round neckline and integrated scarf.

Pattern sizing

36-44. I cut the 42 at the bust, grading out to 44 at the hips.

Fabric used

Poly-rayon sweater knit from

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope when you were done?

Mine is much looser fitting, I don't know whether this is just my fabric, but I think from the flat pattern measurements this is drafted larger than the photo would have you believe.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

The first part of the instructions confused me a bit at first (for sewing the seams that join the sides of the scarf, and the two halves of the front), but then I realised it's just folding the scarf in half lengthwise and sewing the front and scarf seams in one long pass. Other than that very straightforward - but then it is effectively just three pattern pieces!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I really like the integrated scarf, it's a clever bit of drafting that brings to mind the Pattern Magic series of books (that I still haven't got round to making anything from). It's also nicely drafted so that the front seam is hidden by the scarf when worn.

Overall it's quite a boxy pattern, so unless you're very slim it benefits from a bit of extra waist shaping. I'm also not convinced by the raglan sleeves, for my body shape I think the diagonal seam comes too low and would look better if it was shaped more upwards.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

I added a centre back seam so I could shape the back slightly (any tops that come past my waist really need at least one seam in the back in order to accommodate my, ahem, "full high hip" and stop me looking too wide from the side) - I think I could have taken more off the waist. I also added a keyhole with button and loop at the back so I could get the top over my head without stretching the rather high neckline too much (I wasn't sure how this fabric would recover), and also to balance the interest in the front.

I made a sort of forward shoulder adjustment by shifting the shoulder dart forward by 5mm at the top and 10mm at the bottom, plus adjusting the top part of the shoulder seams forward slightly.

I added a little width at the sides at bust level, and shaped in the waist at the side seams slightly. I also added 2cm at the bottom of both front and back, and ended up lowering the neckline at the front by 2cm.

Construction details

I used strips of tricot fusible interfacing rather than Vilene bias tape to keep the fabric stretchier. In addition to the areas they instruct you to interface with tape, I also applied a strip to the neckline facing, and small patches to the points of the front/scarf seam.

I would normally construct knit tops with my serger as much as possible, but the combination of the seams that couldn't be sewn by serger and the fact I only had one spool of matching thread meant I decided to sew it all on my regular machine and just overcast the edge with a zigzag stitch. Unfortunately this has all turned out rather ugly, as I managed to break my overlock presser foot halfway through the first seam, so the rest was done without it. Oh well. On most knits I would have just left the seams unfinished, but this fabric was very loose and ravelly, so I had to neaten the seams so it wouldn't just shred when it was worn and washed. Look away now if you are of a nervous disposition...

Actually, it doesn't look too bad in that photo. I think I subconsciously chose the neatest part to photograph. To hem the sleeves and bottom, I used a three-step zig-zag.

To stop it stretching, I sewed through strips of tissue paper. A little tip: when doing this, make sure you cut the strips widthwise, i.e. so the DoET™ (that would be the Direction of Easiest Tear) is widthwise not lengthwise along the strip, otherwise it's going to be a blimmin' nightmare to get it out the stitching.

The neckline was finished as Burda suggested, with a folded strip used as the facing. Finally, I added the button and a thread loop at the back neckline.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I might actually sew this again. I'm trying to replace the boring and ill-fitting store-bought basic tops in my wardrobe, the things I wear round the house, but don't make me feel good. This is a nice and generally simple top, but the interesting drafting elevates it a little. It'll have to wait a little bit though whilst I catch up with my September and October Burda Challenges! I think it would look really nice in an elegant shimmery dark fabric, for a casual evening top (although I would probably make a smaller size if I do this).

I would definitely recommend this to others, with the following things to watch out for: it runs very large, the neckline is very high at the front, and the arms are pretty long.


A handy top to add to my wardrobe, and also actually season-appropriate!

Friday, 11 October 2013


My husband, Mr Dibulous, is currently working at home, and spends all day coding at the computer. As soon as the weather turns cooler (which it just has - snow on top of our local mountain this morning!) his hands get really really cold, so a pair of fingerless mitts is the perfect thing for keeping him warm, but still able to work.

He actually picked out this wool so I could make them for a Christmas present. Last Christmas. Oops. Fortunately they still ended up as a present: for his birthday this week! The wool is Lang Merino 70 (deliciously soft and squishy, 98% merino, 2% polyester), and the pattern is this free one (the same one that Karen used for her stripy mitts last year). Karen mentioned in her post that the pattern didn't use as much wool as described, but I found I did use nearly a ball of wool for each - you can see how much I have left in the photo below.

These were super quick to knit up. The first one took a little longer as I needed to decode a few instructions, but the second one was knitted in an evening. Mr Dibulous has ridiculously giant hands, so I lengthened the mitts: 4 extra rows of rib at the wrist, and 2 extra rows of stocking stitch between the thumb and final ribbing.

I did a test square to check the tension gauge, and it was exactly what the pattern stated, but I thought these came out quite loose-fitting. Perfect for Mr Dibulous, but I think I would knit them just slightly smaller if I make them for myself (which I might!) - you can see the difference in the fit in the photos where I am modelling them. This may also be because of the wool - I have an inkling that the wool is slightly heavier weight than that suggested in the pattern. I would also reduce the length from the end of the wrist ribbing to the thumb, so it fits a bit more snugly at the base of the hand.

I followed Karen's tip and tied a red thread inside the right-hand mitten so it was easy to tell them apart.

Overall very pleased with these! I've been putting off knitting smaller items (i.e. gloves, socks and hats) as they just seemed so complicated. These really weren't! Mr Dibulous loves them, and has hardly taken them off since I gave them to him!