Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


The wonderful concept of layering

My biggest goal this year, probably along with lots of you, is to better reflect the changes in my lifestyle in my wardrobe. I’m still working from home a lot and before the winter kicks in I really need to add a few more practical cold-weather items to my wardrobe for all those days when I will be sitting still in the house working at a computer.

At the beginning on the year I put together a #MakeNine, which included many warm items. So far, I haven’t made all of them, I’m currently on my fourth item. However, the very practical, long-sleeved jumper is coming along a treat; I’m on the first sleeve, having done the front and back pieces.

There are, of course, other ways to boost my warmth in the house during the winter months and the one I’m going to look at here is layering. How can I use my existing clothes to best advantage by layering them?

Googling on this subject just leaves me cold…..literally! I tried to find images of people wearing layers, you know t-shirts, shirts, cardigans, jackets, coats in combinations and I wasn’t very successful. In my opinion, a camisole with a coat on top, or a shirt and jacket worn with a scarf does not count as layering. In a cold, damp climate, like the UK, I can’t think when these combinations would ever work. Oh hang on…..thinking about the camisole under the coat recommendation ……perhaps on a cold day (wearing the coat) and arriving at a temperature controlled office (taking off the coat) – but that’s not part of my lifestyle anymore! You get the picture!

A few days ago though, I started to flick through past copies of Burda magazine and found that I got quite a bit of inspiration from there. There were lots of pictures where tops, jackets, coasts etc. of various types were worn together. So I thought I’d put together some mood boards grouping certain looks together.

For fun I then decided to see if I had used similar combinations myself in the past.

Mood Board 1 – Long-sleeved turtle-neck t-shirt under another layer such as a blouse or dress.

Verdict: Actually, a t-shirt with a turtle-neck is completely missing from my wardrobe, but I have been known to wear long-sleeved t-shirts under woven tops. Here’s are a couple of combinations I put together, the first one a t-shirt with a silk blouse over the top, the second a t-shirt with a short-sleeved sweatshirt over the top.

Warmth: ***

Mood Board 2 – Dress over trousers

Verdict: Not a combination I have tried. I do rather like the combinations in this mood board, I particularly like that shirt dress – quite radical with the checked trousers! I don’t have many dresses so I don’t think I will be experimenting with this much, but you never know.

Warmth: ****

Mood Board 3 – Blazer/ jacket worn indoors

Verdict: I’m intrigued by the waistcoat with the blazer over the top on the left, that could be really warm and actually doesn’t look too bulky. The picture on the right is a bit confusing as I’m not sure what she is doing with the flannel shirt – it doesn’t look like such an oversized shirt would actually fit under the jacket, and I’m not sure it would look right over it. I shouldn’t overthink things, after all it’s probably just being worn like this for the photo shoot. What’s the tartan item? Is that a blanket, or a coat? It does look like a rather cosy outfit.

Anyway, yes, this is definitely a combination I wear! I only have one blazer, but I have worn it quite a lot indoors over shirts or even jumpers in the winter.

Warmth: *****

Jacket worn over jumper
Day 12 - Country File Presenter
Jacket worn over shirt

What do you think? Are there particular items you team together to make extra warm outfits? Are there other combinations that I have missed that you put together for warmth?


#makenine2021 Pine green seventies sweater progress 1

I took the plunge last month and bought yarn for a new knitting project. I chose a very simple, plain knitting pattern for the project. However, the pattern is vintage and I had been worried that this would cause all sorts of complications.

Last month my problem was how much yarn to order, but using other patterns on Ravelry as a guide, I guessed the total amount I would need and ordered the wool. This month I’ve actually been making progress on the knitting. Have there been any more challenges?

Surprisingly, so far it has been a reasonably smooth process. The pattern is reasonably straight-forward, although just like a seventies sewing pattern it does assume a reasonable amount of knowledge. For example, when it suggests a decrease, it doesn’t tell you what sort of decrease to make. However, because there was no hand-holding, I have been forced to take to Youtube and learn. Actually, I always prefer this way of learning, the type of learning that relies on discovery. I’ve always found that the most rewarding type of learning. It means that you will always end up reading/watching more than you really need. However, I think this means that you acquire more understanding as a result, compared to a situation where you are just “told” what to do. I can certainly see with this make that my arm-hole edges are much more elegant and all my decreases are slanting correctly. Plus, because this is such a plain sweater, if I like the shape I could easily make another with stripes or other colour-work. (Clearly my dreams of being a proficient knitter well exceed reality)

The other thing I have noticed is the pattern is full of details that add finesse to the overall finished knit. For example, s1 stitches are used at particular points as the first stitch in a row. Essentially s1 is where you just slip the stitch, without knitting or purling to the working needle. The reason this is great is that it can tighten up the edges and give a better finish.

The Toasty Sweater I created last year was a very off-putting experience and mostly because the maths wasn’t correct. An example, the pattern would say decrease 5 stitches for 2 rows (so 10 stitches in total would lost overall), but then the total number of stitches left at the end of the decrease would be incorrect. It was very frustrating and I ended up re-writing sections of the pattern. This jumper, so far, has been prefect. Every decrease I have done has resulted in the right number of stitches for the row. For a beginner it is so important that these things are correct, otherwise you begin to doubt your own (limited) skills.

The back piece took quite a while to knit and it wasn’t the most interesting thing to do once the colour changes on the ribbing were completed. I only used 2.5 balls of wool, so I will have plenty to finish the project, which is reassuring. The front piece is very similar to the back piece so I know that the maths will be correct for that too. Reassuring again! I finally feel I am well on the way to a warm jumper!

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Simplicity 8424: Forest green wrap ballet top

I’m rather a reluctant knit sewist. Sadly, it just isn’t my forte, and my makes are are very hit and miss. I do think, though that my wardrobe could do with a few easy-to-wear jersey tops and t-shirts. I decided to use again Simplicity 8424. This pattern is a ballet-inspired fitness wardrobe. I’ve made the leggings (view B) and the faux wrap top (view D) before. The leggings have been very successful and get worn quite a lot. A good fit too. I’m not that smitten with the top as I think I sized up too much and it is too loose at the front. A hit and a miss, no surprises there.

I bought some forest green cotton-elastane jersey from Like Sew Amazing not so long ago. It is just the sort of dark rich colour that I’m drawn to. I only bought 1 metre with the intention of a long-sleeved top, but this was about 10 cm less than the pattern requirements. Being on an enormous drive to cut down the overwhelming quantity of scraps my sewing generates, I thought I could get away with this. Only just! Cutting out was a real tessellation conundrum and it took three attempts, folding the fabric and laying the pattern pieces out in different configurations. I managed! And I also created sleeve bands for cuffs and neck bands.

The construction was relatively simple and mostly used just the overlocker. The pattern would work just as easily with a standard sewing machine. I did improvise with the cuffs and neck bands as these are not in the original pattern. I had seen the neckline on the Papercut Copelia and I wanted to emulate that finish. I think in retrospect the bands on the neckline are too thin, but that was all the fabric that was going, so I just have to deal with that.

Ballet-wrap top worn under a cardigan – looking very much like a tree here in green and brown!

It is quite low-cut. Not sure if I will wear it without a camisole underneath, but that’s fine by me. I notice that on Instagram it gets modelled both ways – with and without a top underneath. I think it will make a good Autumn layering piece. I also like my slightly longer sleeves, which I wouldn’t have got without the cuffs.

Ballet-wrap top with camisole underneath – don’t feel that I’m likely to flash underwear like this. Also, without the cardigan, you can see the length of the sleeves and the cuffs.

I can definitely recommend this pattern, who doesn’t love a wardrobe in one pattern? And with three different makes under my belt, there’s still view F that I haven’t tried, which is another long-sleeved top. I’m not sure about the other two leggings designs, the dangling tie and the ballet-type ribbons might just be annoying, but you can’t argue with four decent designs in one pattern.


Revitalised or Style Blunder: Wrap and Go Butterick 6720

At the beginning of the month, I thought I would put aside some time to revisit one of those makes that has failed to live up to expectations. These were a pair of “Wrap and Go” wrap trousers using 70s vintage pattern Butterick 6720.

Interesting, I have seen two real people (i.e. whilst walking around in town) wearing wrap trousers just like these. I assume they bought theirs. Nice to see designers flick through 70s styles for inspiration too!

Anyway, back to the changes I made to the trousers. In the past, I have found that these trousers weren’t very comfortable to wear because they dug into my stomach too much. Here are the modifications I made:

  1. Re-cut the elastic so that it wasn’t too tight
  2. Inserted wider elastic
  3. Used a button instead of a skirt hook
  4. Converted the tie so that it also uses elastic for comfort, and is just finished with the fabric.
  5. Created wider ties

I can say that this step has been very successful. They are much more comfortable to wear and unlike before, I don’t have to adjust the waist during the day.

Wrap and Go Trousers (Butterick 6720) with wrap top – too much wrapping?

The other problem was that I didn’t have a suitable top to wear with the trousers. I made this top. Does the new top work with the trousers? Here are some thoughts: colour-wise the top works well, style I’m not so sure. Is there too much “wrap-action” going on, with a wrap top and wrap trousers? The top also doesn’t tuck in at the back because of the tie.

Butterick 6720: Too many ties? And this top doesn’t tuck in properly.

I don’t think I have managed to find the right top yet. Plus, I’m still not sure whether the style of the trousers suits me. I am not used to wearing long and floating styles generally so I hope, dear readers, you may help me out with this. Have I made a style faux-pas?

Butterick 6720: Action shot! Looks good when I’m wafting along (Sorry, not sorry about the bra strap there!)

When I originally posted the make many people suggested I should wear a short/cropped top or a top which was tucked-in with these trousers. However, I just don’t have any short tops in my wardrobe and I’m not into tucking tops in; I have a very short body and this look often just seems to accentuate my somewhat odd proportions.

However, more recently I looked online I saw similar trousers from modern patterns Simplicity 4192 and Vogue 9191 paired and these were modelled with longer line tops. The big difference with the two modern patterns is that instead of gathers around the waist the trousers had darts. Would less bulk around the waist serve me better and could I then wear these with a longer top? Can I be jiggered to take these trousers apart again to add darts and lop off the excess fabric?

You may have noticed that in these photos I am wearing the trousers with the flaps at the front. This is the conventional way, but I have worn them backwards too.

Lastly, I reminded myself today of another reason why I don’t wear these trousers often. A toilet trip in which I don’t drape the trousers all over the floor requires considerable ingenuity and several extra limbs! Ah well, some makes work out brilliantly, others don’t.


New Look 6252: Wrap top in pale yellow silk

I have had a small left-over of this beautiful eri silk from Weaving Destination for a while. Small pieces are always a challenge to use up, but are often ideal for making sleeveless tops. I paired the fabric with New Look 6252, which I have made once before.

New Look 6252 with fabric. Eri silk and spotted cotton lawn in pale yellow

For some reason which I can’t now recall, I decided immediately to make View C again. Possibly I was influenced by the success of my last version or it was just laziness. View C is the view which has the ties at the back and only uses 1 metre of fabric according to the envelope, although I think I squeezed it out of less. Like my previous make, I didn’t like that the ties were just one layer and finished by hemming. I decided to make my ties with two layers, so no wrong side of the fabric is visible when it is worn. Sadly I didn’t have quite enough of the silk to cut the tie piece four times, so I used some spotted cotton lawn for the reverse side of the ties. The colour isn’t really a match, but I think they look acceptable together. I also used the cotton lawn for the arm-hole finish.

New Look 6252 in Pale yellow silk

I just whizzed through the sewing on this one, because it was a familiar make and I think I made a really good job of the insides and making sure the finish was good. And I didn’t try the garment on once…probably a mistake, because I’m not that happy with the fit. I’m not actually sure what went awry here, but the armholes seem to be bigger and I have a bit of armhole gape. How did that happen? On top of that the whole top rides up too, so that I find that the bust darts don’t sit where they are supposed to. Given that the top is actually drafted to my measurements (see the previous post) this is not supposed to happen. I suspect I may be over-compensating for the larger armscyes and tying the top tighter? Then I have a problem with the fabric, it doesn’t want to behave! It “puffs” out and doesn’t want to sit correctly. I have under-stitched the facing and I gave the facings an extra iron before this photo shoot which seemed to help. I must admit I felt rather let down when I first tried this top on, because it hasn’t lived up to my expectations.

New Look 6252 with a cardigan over the top…let’s not look at those gaping armholes!

I wonder whether I am being overly harsh in my assessment though. I don’t think the photos look too bad. Please let me know your thoughts. Does that bust dart look way out? Can I tame the “puffiness”? Do I dare to take my beautifully finished arm-holes apart and take in the side seams a smidge to improve the fit? Will that make me fall in love with this top?

I haven’t yet finished my improvements to the wrap trousers yet. Once I have done that I’ll take some more photos with the two makes together.


Revitalising an old make: Wrap and Go Butterick 6720

I have noticed recently a frustrating thing with my wardrobe. I’ve now been sewing my me-made wardrobe for a while and I have lots of fantastic clothes, in colours and styles that I enjoy. But I still find that there are certain makes that I struggle to pair up with anything else in my wardrobe. It isn’t because of clashing colours. I’ve refined my colour choices more as time goes on and with a more limited palette it is so much easier to find good combinations. Plus, a little foray into more adventurous pairings earlier in the year (in #sewhappycolor2021) added a few more good combinations to the mix. No, my particular problem surrounds silhouette and style combinations. Sometimes I think two items from my wardrobe would work well together only to find that they look inexplicably awful in combination. Sometimes a voluminous top can look great with flares and then sometimes it can look overwhelming.

I made a pair of wrap trousers two years ago from a vintage 70s sewing pattern (Butterick 6720) and I have worn them only a handful of times and mostly on holiday because they happened to be in my suitcase.

This pair of trousers gives me quite a headache. The biggest problem is that I haven’t got a top that looks right with them. Looking back at the photos I took just after I made them, my preferred choice was the make-shift bandeau, although not really a look for out and about (only the beach). Clearly I need a fitted top with such a voluminous pair of trousers, but there aren’t many contenders in my wardrobe.

Wrap and Go PantSkirt
With a make-shirt bandeau top

I bought New Look 6252 specifically as a possible pairing with the trousers. At the time I bought it I had 1 metre of feather-print cotton lawn in my stash which I used as a trial. I loved the result; it was one of my favourite makes of last year. Sadly, I don’t think the two prints really work together, but I had always intended that first top as a trial run.

New Look 6252 FrontView
New Look 6252 Front View

Now it’s time for me to make a plain-coloured top to go with the trousers. I remembered that I still have a small left-over amount of this eri silk from Weaving Destination and I thought that the pale creamy-yellow hues of the silk would go well with the trousers. There isn’t much f the silk so I’m going to finish the ties with the spotted cotton lawn.

New Look 6252 pattern with eri silk and spotted cotton lawn

My second problem with the trousers is that I just don’t find them comfortable. So, you may ask, why am I bothering to put so much effort into trying to get a top to work with them? Well, I think the problem will be relatively easy to resolve. The elastic is too tight; I inserted it in a hurry just before I went on holiday and it was simply just the wrong length. Also, I wonder whether I would be happier with wider elastic at the waist. If I copy the elastic width and length from my pyjamas (which are very comfortable) I think that will resolve the issue. I think that converting the tie so that it is also elastic, with fabric ends for extra comfort, will complete the necessary amendments.

Given these problems I’m now working on resurrecting the trousers and creating another New Look 6252 to go with them. I have a few other ideas both for the trousers and another top if I don’t quite manage to reach the top/trouser combination zenith that I am aiming for.


#makenine2021 A vintage knitting project and what colour is frostbite?

I was looking at my Make Nine choices. There comes a point in every plan where the initial enthusiasm wears off and it becomes harder to realise all the garments I have chosen. Generally, I think this point comes when I reach the more challenging items. One of the most difficult items in my plan is, without doubt, the knitted jumper. It is probably no coincidence that it is also the most needed item too.

The last year I have worked mostly form home. Home is hard to heat. Although that isn’t a problem at the weekend when moving around keeps me warm, but on work days when I’m sitting still and chained to the desk I can quickly feel cold.

Finding a pattern that I wanted to knit proved to be a difficult step. Essentially I have two specifications – that the sweater shouldn’t be too fancy so that it gets maximum wear and also that the pattern uses only techniques I have used before (or at least not too many new ones).

Extensive browsing on Ravelry came up with limited possibilities. There are so many beautiful patterns with colourwork or cables that I itch to do. However, I’m determined to have a warm jumper in my wardrobe by winter so I need to rein in my ambitions until I have a bit more knitting experience under my belt.

Of course, I could just choose a jumper for it’s shape and leave out any cables or colourwork, but that requires modifying the pattern. With my previous make, a striped tank top, I re-wrote the whole pattern adding in the stripes, but also correcting mistakes I found in the maths. I didn’t want a repeat of that experience, it was pretty soul-destroying for a beginner.

Fortunately, I found this fantastic vintage pattern in a charity shop. I picked up quite a few of these 70s patterns, but this was the plainest one. In fact, I’m now thinking it looks a bit like a school jumper. (Thank goodness I didn’t consider making this in grey otherwise it would definitely look like school uniform! Although perhaps it looks a bit like a Slitherin house, Hogwarts school jumper because it is green.) I think it fufils my criteria well; plain enough to wear with most of my wardrobe and using all the techniques I’ve used before – increasing, decreasing, ribbing, picking up stitches.

Sirdar 5525 – a plain classic jumper. I like the styling here too on the cover – brown and cream with the “dog-ear collar” blouse.

Features of my vintage pattern:

  • Ribbed finishes on the hem, neckline and cuff including two bands of a second colour.
  • Worked flat and then seamed
  • Round neckline, perfect for wearing shirts underneath

My next obstacle was buying the wool. Sadly the pattern didn’t help much with this – “7 balls “of a long departed product wasn’t going to provide me with any guidance on the quantity I needed. Fortunately, this is where Ravelry is helpful. I found a similar style of jumper in a similar size and made a guess. I decided that to be on the safe side I would order 1000 m of yarn, and buy a few extra balls in different colours. That way I could decide which second colour to use when the wool arrived and (ambitiously) I thought I could even make something else with all the left-overs. I still have a little of the two blues from the tank top.

I decided to use Lett lopi yarn again. I enjoyed using it before and it comes in a great range of colours. Also, it isn’t too expensive. I picked 1407 – pine green heather for the main colour and also ordered 0005 – black heather, 1417 – frostbite, and 9421 – celery green heather as possible contenders for the second colour.

When the yarn arrived I decided to choose the palest green (1417 – frostbite) as a contrast to my pine green. Is frostbite ever that green, I thought frost-bitten toes tend to be black – not a pleasant thought? Or perhaps it isn’t really about toes, but more like frost on a leaf? Anyway, I made a swatch and picked my needle sizes based on that.

I suspect this project is going to take a long time, so I’ve decided that I’m going to knit it in stages, starting with the back piece first. I’ll then go back to some sewing before I attempt the front.

Does anyone else have experience with vintage knitting patterns? My biggest obstacle, so far, has been picking the yarn. But I’m still quite an inexperienced knitter and I’m bound to come across more problems. Are there any other drawbacks? On the plus side I’ve found that patterns of this vintage are often knitted flat, as opposed to in the round. At the moment I’m finding that this is my preferred method, but perhaps I’m just recalling the horror that was this cabled hat when I think about knitting in the round.

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Me-Made-May 2021 Summary and some graphs

I thought I was a belatedly writing up my observations from Me-Made-May but then I looked back at last year and found I didn’t manage it till July then! This year I took a slightly different approach to Me-Made-May. I suppose, I wanted to keep my participation relevant and introduce fresh ideas.

I decided to create three mini-wardrobes to be worn over 9 days each in the challenge, each with a colour theme. One of the reasons for doing this was purely practical, essentially I didn’t want to end up emptying my wardrobe onto the bedroom chair and floor so I could pick something each day! I also wanted Me-Made-May to be more representative of the way I normally dress – wearing clothes for a few days in succession, or mixing and matching from those that are on the chair, rather than diving back into the wardrobe each morning. This new approach felt more akin to that process. Actually constructing the mini-wardrobes was rather fun too; I liked finding different combinations and picking “sudoko-style” my three separates from the grid each day.

Green-blue wardrobe grid

Graph 1 shows the number of wears per pattern company or magazine. I think that there was no particular surprise that the highest share was garments made from Burda patterns (34%). Although I would say that without exception I usually only make these items once. That may be because the designs are a little unique, or it could be that there are so many lovely designs to choose from that I find something new each time that I fancy making. The next most popular pattern companies were Grainline Studios (14%) and Papercut patterns (10%). Both indie designers, I have made repeats with these patterns. I think if I commit to an indie pattern, because of the expense, I like to buy designs that I’m going to make more than once. There are quite a few garments made from big four patterns, but on closer inspection, these all turned out to use vintage (mostly 70s) patterns. I have made a few garments with recent big four patterns, but they are few and far between and didn’t get picked this month.

Graph 1 Number of wears per pattern company

Graph 2 looks a little different from last year’s graph. Like last year, the most frequently worn colour was blue (26%). No surprises there! But, because I had selected the mini-wardrobes on a colour theme (brown, grey, green) there were far more of these colours worn. Other colours such as red (3%) and purple (1%) were hardly worn at all.

Graph 2 Number of wears per colour

Graph 3 speaks for itself. There has been a steady increase each year in me-mades worn (bar the 2017 blip where I pledged to wear only me-mades). This will I’m sure continue as new me-mades enter my wardrobe to replace RTW items.

From last year’s Me-Made-May, I identified that more jeans and a new hoodie were required. Well, I suppose I fulfilled that brief, more or less. I have made three new pairs of trousers since then, the brown corduroy trousers, the grey light-weight trousers and the shattered glass jeans. I didn’t make another hoodie, but the velvet zip-up I made is certainly another versatile layer.

What would be the take home messages from this year? Firstly, I enjoyed creating the wardrobe grids and they helped me keep to a plan. I can’t say that I didn’t end up with a pile of clothes that were worn but not quite dirty enough for the laundry in the bedroom, but it was better than previous years. Secondly, there was a real cold patch in the middle of May where my planned wardrobe (the green one), didn’t work well. This year my Make Nine includes numerous woolen and warm items to help me through all the cold, working-from-home days.


The Serpent Outfit: Top with dramatic sleeves

After watching The Serpent earlier in the year, I was attracted to all the costumes in the show and in particular to this outfit worn by Monique / Marie-Andree (she goes by both names), played by Jenna Coleman.

Cheers! This is one of my favourite outfits from the series so far. Those big sleeves! That colour combination!
Cheers! This is one of my favourite outfits from the series so far. Those big sleeves! That colour combination!

I particularly liked the big dramatic sleeves and found that this Burda pattern in my collection fitted the bill well:

Looking at the line drawing I can see that this top has a v-neck. This is shared with the top in the TV show too. I also noticed that in the photo of Jenna Coleman the sleeves have two pleats that add even more volume. However, I thought I would stick with the Burda version as I wasn’t sure how much I’m going to love the sleeves in everyday life. Would they get in the way too much?

The Burda line drawing also shows the back view which has a yoke and pleat, just like a shirt. I have kept these features in my make, because I really don’t know what the original top looks like from the back.

Fabric Choice

The fabric choice was quite a dilemma for me. There is a certain vibe about the print used in the original top that is largely missing from modern prints. There is a tendency for certain colour combinations in 70s designs that don’t appear on fabrics today. The patterns can also be big and bold. On The Serpent blouse, the colours are complementary, and the pattern itself, although big, is a somewhat indistinct, abstract floral design.

I wanted these elements in my choice; complementary colours and abstract floral design. It actually turned out more difficult to meet these requirements than I’d first thought.

I looked at various floral designs on online fabric stores and came up with these ideas.

Fabric Inspiration: clockwise from top left – 1. from Minerva fabrics 2. from Minerva fabrics 3. from Storrs 4. from Storrs 5. from Storrs 6. from Like Sew Amazing

Before I went ahead I looked on Instagram to see if anyone else had made the Burda top. I spotted this amazing floral version from Merine on Instagram and I couldn’t have imagined a better fabric. I wonder whether this version may have swayed me in my final choice, because I went for the bold coral and mint dahlia print from Like Sew Amazing (shown above in the bottom right hand corner), which is a cotton lawn.


I used French seams throughout for my make. I was pleased that the pattern included cutting out two back yoke pieces. Yes, I know that is normal for a shirt, but you’ll be surprised that I have seen more than one blouse pattern where only one back yoke piece is mentioned. I was a little concerned that the fabric might be quite transparent, so I cut the inner yoke piece from plain white cotton lawn. I wanted to make sure that the bold pattern didn’t show through where the fabric is white.

I made the v-neck a little higher, this is a normal adjustment for me. I think it may have been too revealing otherwise. I was very careful with the construction of the v-neck opening. I’ve made a couple of neck openings of a similar construction (allowance clipped and then facing turned to inside) recently and felt that the finish on these didn’t quite meet my exacting standards. I think it can be a tricky finish to get right with the possibility of fraying and making a very obvious hole. I think the closely woven fabric helped enormously this time and I didn’t feel that the point of the “V” became unduly weak.

I left the hem on the sleeve till last and then spend several days deliberating on the finished length. In the Burda picture and also in The Serpent, the tops have wrist length sleeves, but the pattern is drafted for someone with slightly longer arms, so I knew I would have to take off some of the length. Then I wondered whether I should go with a shorter, more practical length, but I wanted to be true to the original inspiration. Once I’d decided, I cut off 4 cm so that the sleeve came to my wrist.


Well, here’s the top in all its glory!

The Serpent blouse

I also really like the yoke and pleat at the back. It makes the top light and airy, in fact perfect for summer. I would even consider making this top with more restrained sleeves, because I like the other features such as the back pleat and the v-neck, so much.

Back view of “The Serpent” top showing the back yoke and pleat.

And finally here is a shot where I’ve semi-tucked the blouse in. I’m not big on wearing summer blouses tucked in (I just like a bit of circulating air), but I thought it would show another way this top could be styled. I noticed that Jenna Coleman wears hers tucked in and I may give that a go when I make the mint-coloured trousers.


#makenine2021 Grey Trousers (Burda Style 08/2019 #120B)

Today, I have another make from my Make Nine 2021 to share with you. Here’s a previous post on the plans I have for the full nine. This is my second make from a collection in the 08/2019 Burda Style magazine, here’s the first. The trousers are quite unusual. They look like cargo trousers, but are designed to be made with a flowing viscose twill rather than a more sturdy fabric. I was immediately attracted to them as a light-weight pair of trousers for spring / summer.

Burda Style #120 08/2020
Burda Style #120 08/2020

Below is the line drawing. There are big front pockets, some faux pocket flaps and bands and a belt constructed from twill tape and D-rings. I was nervously relishing the complexity of the construction here. Nervously, because it’s a Burda pattern!

These trousers have been a long time in the making. I started making them early in the year (probably February), but the shops were all closed. I had purchased the fabric from Like Sew Amazing before the lockdown, but I didn’t have the buttons, twill tape and D-rings. So, I made them up as far as I could go and then left them in a bag for a while. Once I’d purchased the notions in April, I was able to press on with the construction. There were some really tricky parts to this. The Burda instructions were, as usual, completely awful. The trousers shared some instructions with #120A, which has a different waistband. I rewrote them for clarity as they jumped around between the two views and it was too much for my brain to cope with. The weight of the D-rings and twill tape also made manipulating the fabric difficult and I think it would make sense to rearrange the order of the instructions and add the D-rings right at the end.

Burda Style #120 08/2020 line drawing
Burda Style #120 08/2020 line drawing

The first time I tried the trousers on the waistband seemed really tight. I was super annoyed with myself over that. But weirdly, I’ve worn them several times since then and they have fitted fine. (One of these days I’m going to write a whole post on how hard I find it to fit clothes at the waist – my waist size seems to fluctuate so much even within the course of a day). Then, an even bigger disaster, the first time I sat down in them I heard the popping sound of all the stitches on the back seam breaking. I can’t imagine how this happened because once I sewed them up again, with the teeniest of extra ease (0.5 cm was about as much as I could squeeze out of the seam) they seemed (or seamed, if you prefer) completely okay. I even jumped around the living room doing weird poses and crouches and no more seam popping ensued! Perhaps I just caught the fabric somehow, but I don’t really like mysteries like this.

Back View – does it look too tight? Bit difficult to tell with the drape of this fabric. Certainly doesn’t feel tight at all. The Wearing A Square top looks a little weird here, only because I was in the process of putting it back on, it doesn’t normally drape like that.

Burda top #105 – Burda 11/2016 made in double-gauze. A perfect combination.

I’ve now been experimenting with wearing these trousers with various different me-mades from my wardrobe. So far, I’ve found that a top I made back in 2017, above looks great with these trousers and also the Wearing A Square top, but that was always intended to go with these trousers as an outfit.

All in all, I’m really pleased with this make. I felt it was a little risky since they are quite an unusual pair of trousers, but that didn’t mean that they are really easy to wear and incorporate in my wardrobe.