Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


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#SummerOfBasics – The Full Outfit

Summer of Basics Outfit

This is the full outfit for the Summer of Basics, a sewing and knitting challenge where participants sew or knit three items over the summer months to create an outfit that fits the theme of “Basics”. For more information on the challenge, hop over to Fringe Association.

Summer of Basics Outfit

I’m a bit late with my final post (roughly three weeks in actual fact, yikes), but even though the deadline has passed, I’m not unhappy. I have a fantastic new outfit that fulfilled my need for wardrobe basics! I made the knot blouse from a spotted grey double gauze using Burda pattern 11/2016 #105, a pair of black skinny jeans with Burda pattern 03/2014 #115, and a cable hat using a knitting pattern from the Fall 2016 Knit Along from Craftsy from some beautiful Shetland wool.

Summer of Basics Oufit

I’ve described how each of the garments is made, here for the top, here for the jeans and here for the hat. In hindsight, I feel it was quite a challenging outfit to put together – two Burda patterns and a cabled knit hat, when I’d never made a hat before nor knitted cables. There were lots of new skills to be learned and the usual struggles with Burda instructions, but all three were very satisfying makes.

Summer of Basics Outfit

 

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#SummerOfBasics – Black Skinny Jeans and a Feline Friend

Well, time has marched on and we are nearly at the end of August. I tried to get on top of my sewing and knitting this weekend, but despite quite a reasonable amount of time at my disposal (unusual for me) I am admitting defeat. I know that I will not make the Summer of Basics deadline. But all is not lost. I already have a new top. My skinny jeans are finished (see below) and I have started my hat. I had to rip back to a lifeline last night and I know that the hat won’t be finished by the end of the month. However, I am confident that it will fit me – I tried on the ribbed cuff and it was perfect!

Both the grey top and the skinny jeans I’m making for the Summer of Basics use Burda patterns. I’m not exactly sure why I decided to sew two Burda patterns so quickly in succession – bad planning on my part or perhaps once I had the outfit formulated in my mind I couldn’t step away from it. I have a feeling of trepidation at the start of every Burda project. The instructions are generally minimal and often lacking in linguistic clarity. Fortunately, I had shared this pattern with my Mum and she was first off the starting blocks her pair of jeans. This was very handy as when I got to the usual head-scratching stages, I knew we could compare notes. I was in despair over the instructions describing the fly zip insertion and decided to go my own way with some good pointers from my Mum.

Skinny Jeans

I am extremely pleased with the fabric I bought for my jeans from Fabric Godmother. The fabric seems to have gone from their website, but this is similar. It is described as cotton/ spandex mix, with 40% stretch. I’ve found it hard to find stretch woven jeans fabric and certainly nothing with this amount of stretch. I suspect these jeans will replace my current pair of jeggings, which were bought many years ago and are a cotton / polyester / elastane blend. They have stretched out of shape badly at the knees. I’m hoping that the lack of reliance on polyester in the fabric I’ve chosen for my black skinny jeans will circumvent this problem. I’m actually rather disappointed I didn’t decide to make a pair of jeggings out of this fabric – jeggings are so handy for travelling since a belt isn’t a necessity!

In terms of the fit, I made the size 42 straight from the pattern, but I did trim down the leg seams at the hips a little to make a tighter fit across the hips. I also needed to adjust the length as they were somewhat long in the leg.

I did use my jersey interfacing rather than conventional interfacing in the waistband. I wanted to keep some of the stretch in the waistband. Time will tell if this was a wise decision. I’m a little concerned about the amount of wrinkling, but I wonder if this is partly due to rushing out and taking photos without wearing a belt. I think they need more of a road test – I may take in the side seams a smidge more.

All in all, these jeans are a great addition to my wardrobe. They can be worn with almost anything and I wear jeans all year round – a perfect basic!

Skinny jeans

Photo-bomb by all means, but please can you do that bottom-licking thing somewhere else?

I’m off, you’re just not interesting any more!

I almost forgot about the photo-bombing cat. It’s my neighbour’s cat, who has typical feline pretensions around ownership. I often find him lounging on the bench in my back garden and giving me accusing stares when he’s asked to give up an inch or two for me to sit down. Looks like he’s owning my photo shoot now too!


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#SummerOfBasics – Progress Update

It’s now the middle of August and I’ve made some good progress on my outfit for the Summer of Basics. The only spanner in the works (albeit a lovely spanner) is that I’m going on holiday tomorrow for ten days and this will mean that I have under a week to complete my makes on my return. I’m hoping I can pull this off!

The Cable Hat

I ordered some beautiful yarn from Jamieson and Smith in the silver grey colour. The yarn is 100% Shetland wool and is apparently “perfect for cables”. I’m hoping I’ve made a good choice for my hat, I’m no expert on choosing wool.

The hat I have decided to make for this make is from the Craftsy “Fall” (Autumn for us here in the UK) Knit-Along from last year. Although I have only listened so far to the “preparation” parts of the tutorial, I have been really enjoying the course. Kate Atherley explains everything so well.

The reason I chose this project is that I am desperate to make a hat that fits. I have an extremely small head and I have a hard time finding hats that fit in the shops. As a general rule only children’s hats fit well, but can be a bit prone to pinkness and bows. Kate’s guide to swatching is great and I’m confident that after knitting two swatches I have a needle size that suits the wool and is right for the pattern. This should bring the size of the hat to the size suggested by the pattern. However, I’m still tempted to take out one of the cable repeats to achieve the suggested fit of 5cm less than head size, for a snug fit.

I suspect I’m not going to start my hat until I come back from holiday, but I have all my tools ready – circular knitting needles and a cable needle. I’ve never used either so this will be fun.

The Black Jeans

I think a whole post needs to be devoted to my jeans, but I thought a little update might be useful here. I’m using this Burda pattern to make a pair of skinny black jeans.

Front of jaens (unfinished)

I’ve made the front including the fly and the back. These have now been sewn together at the inner and outer leg seams. This just leaves the waistband, the belt loops and hem. Sadly, I’m not going to get to take these on holiday, although I suspect that a pair of black jeans was never in contention for a holiday in 30 – 40 degree heat!

Back of jeans


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#SummerOfBasics – Shades of Grey blouse (#105 – Burda 11/2016)

August is upon us and suddenly time is catching up on me. This year I’ve given myself extra sewing deadlines because I’m entering the #SummerOfBasics challenge in addition to the Independent Pattern Month over at The Monthly Stitch.

In my last post I detailed my proposed plans for my outfit. I finished my first make, the Burda top back in June. (Just a little late with my posting). This top is featured in the November 2016 edition of Burda Style magazine. It is a simple top with long sleeves finishing in an elastic cuff, a round neckline with pleats and a front slit. There are raglan sleeves and a waist tie.

Burda Top

I bought the fabric for this top from Sewn Bristol. It is a beautiful double-gauze fabric in two shades of grey – rather plain, but then this is a basics challenge!

Neckline of Grey Top

My first step when I started this top was to see if I could find any other bloggers who had used this pattern. I’m glad I did this research, because they highlighted a couple of points that I incorporated into my top. First of all, there are slits between the body of the top and the raglan sleeves at the front. Allison C left these out of her version as she thought the slits would reveal bra straps. I omitted the slits too for the same reason. The second modification I made was to the ties at the waist. In the pattern these are made from one layer of fabric. I can understand why this is the case, as using a jersey the ties could be very heavy. However, I decided to cut four of the tie pattern pieces and made a double-layer tie. Apart from the tidier finish this afforded, this meant that I could also take advantage of the double-faced nature of the double-gauze fabric. I kept the outside of the tie in the darker grey and the inside uses the lighter grey side of the fabric. When I knot the ties this gives an interesting tow-tone effect.

The pattern suggests using jersey, but as I had a woven fabric I used woven braid to finish the neckline. Other than this I made no changes to accommodate using a woven fabric, since the pattern is a loose style.

Needless to say the pattern had the usual excrement-level instructions which seem to be the norm for Burda. A fair amount of interpretation was required. I think I’m finding the whole Burda experience less daunting these days, but I put this down to my own perseverance rather than any improvement in the quality of the instructions.

Shades of Grey Top

I’m nearly halfway through my skinny jeans. It seems at the beginning of August that I still have plenty of time, but with about two weeks of holiday lined up this month I know I’m going to be pressed for time. I was up in Scotland at the weekend and thought that I would grab a few minutes in Glasgow to bag myself some Shetland yarn for my hat. Disappointingly, there were long flight delays and the time I set aside for shopping didn’t happen, so I’ve ordered online.


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Burda 11/2011 Knit Wrap Top #114A – The Top with an Identity Crisis

About this time last year, which seems a very long time ago now, I purchased a beautiful tissue knit in Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. At the time I was very inexperienced with sewing with knit fabrics and I left it in my stash and decided to tackle it only once I felt confident that I wouldn’t ruin it.

Sadly, this isn’t a post about using that fabric, because I still haven’t plucked up courage. I decided to do a dummy run first. I bought some lovely soft black jersey from The Sewing Studio in Bath and selected a pattern. I really wanted a pattern that would work well with the draping look that a tissue knit would give. I came across this top – Burda 11/2011 Knit Wrap Top #114A. I must admit I fell in love with the way this pattern is modelled. Great fabrics can really show off a simple pattern to great effect and this pattern really looks great in what I think is a gauzy cotton knit or a linen knit. I really am a sucker for the locations and aesthetic of the Burda photoshoots too, I wish my photography looked like that! Anyway, aspirations aside, I thought this would work well with the Britex fabric and the soft black jersey would be a good test for the pattern.

I transferred my pattern from the PDF (tracing size 38 ). I didn’t make any adjustments, at first. The reason for this is that I did a whole lot of measurements and placed my waist, bust and hips on the pattern. I decided that these corresponded pretty much where the pattern intended them to be. I did discard a considerable part of the length – Burda patterns are always so long. I thought it was a little odd that my shoulder to bust measurement fitted with the pattern. I’ve adjusted this particular measurement so many times on patterns, I was a little suspicious that this seemed to fit my dimensions.

I was reassured sufficiently though and went ahead and cut out my fabric. I decided though that I was sufficiently suspicious about the placement of the wrap edge that I would tack everything together on the bodice and see how it looked before the machine sewing. I’m glad I did because I wasn’t that happy with how the wrap appeared. It didn’t seem to work where it was; I just wasn’t sure whether it was supposed to go below the bust where it attaches to the side seam or above. I then looked at the pattern again –#114A definitely places the wrap below the bust, but how about this photo from the Burda website, #114B, this looks above like it wraps over the bust to me:

114b_flat_large

And then, I truly confused myself looking at other blogged versions of this top.  Here are some of my other favourites:

Sewing Sveta’s green jumper

Frogs in a Bucket’s houndstooth version

A sheer knit version

A Bright orange version with an extra band for the hem

As you’ll see, it’s a confusing picture with the placement of the wrap varying wildly. Hence, I’ve nicknamed this top as “The top with an identity Crisis”. I think the look works well either way.

However, after much deliberation, I made up my mind about the placement of the wrap. I played it safe and the wrap goes over the bust. I’m going for the warm boobies version! I made the changes on my garment and machine stitched it. I’m hoping I made the right choice. What do you think? Does the wrap placement look fine?

BurdaWrapTop2

Burda Wrap Top 1

I did have one problem with the instructions. As usual, being Burda, they have a spelling mistake (slef-facing) and at least one instruction which is utter gobbledegook. So, I looked online and found some great photos of the step on the Slapdash Sewist‘s website:

The worse thing about this rubbish instruction is that they published this pattern in the BurdaStyle Modern Sewing: Wardrobe Essentials book and the instructions here come with pictures. Why on earth don’t you get these instructions with the PDF pattern? (Deep sigh, Burda, tell me why?)

I’m probably overthinking this, but I’m slightly concerned that the neckline might droop after lots of wear and I explored other posts on this top for opinions. There are some bloggers who have made this top repeatedly. Clearly, they regarded it as a success. And others have been less happy with it. I noticed Amy at Sew-well made this top, but then it became a refashion in a later blog post.

At the moment the top is going through an extended period of evaluation. Normally RTW tops styled like this are way too revealing, therefore it isn’t a style that I normally wear.Perhaps I just need to get used to this loose type of neckline? I think the sleeves are too long too. They are deliberately cut long in the pattern and perhaps with a lighter knit fabric it would be easy to bunch up the extra fabric up the arms, but in this fabric that doesn’t seem to happen.

I’m not convince yet whether this is the pattern I’ll use for my treasured tissue knit fabric from Britex. Are there other tops that would look good in a sheer knit with a lot of drape?

BurdaWrapTop3

 


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An unseasonal make

This poor top has remained unfinished and unloved in my stash for many months. I was just about to put in an extra effort to finish this top during August, before a long weekend. But the weather forecast suggested that it wouldn’t be worn, so I put it off. In fact, since I haven’t been anywhere hot this year and it hasn’t been especially hot in the UK this year, sadly I don’t think I would have worn it anyway. Anyway, it’s now December and I need to diminish my stash before it takes over the living room, so with just the spaghetti straps and the hem to add, this was easy to finish.

The fabric is a cotton lawn that I picked up in Fashion Fabrics. The bright and cheerful hot-air balloon fabric really caught my eye. I decided to use a pattern (Gathered Tube Top 03/2012 #125) from the Burda magazine I’d bought in Italy. Actually, it isn’t much of a pattern, more of a set of instructions, since the top is constructed from just two rectangles of fabric!

Air-balloon top

The technique used for shirring here is a little different from that which I’ve used before. Previously I’ve always hand-wound a bobbin with shirring elastic and therefore added the elastic as the lower thread when machine-stitching. The Burda technique suggests laying the elastic in a straight line on the wrong-side and zig-zagging over it. To be honest both techniques work well. Although, there is the added advantage with the Burda technique that you can adjust your top by pulling more or less on the shirring elastic to tighten or loosen it.

Close-up of shirred detail

I felt a little wary about wearing a strapless top, so decided to add some spaghetti straps, which are just turned tubes of the same fabric. I think that this top is most likely to be used to go to the beach. It slips on and off easily and would be a good cover-up for going into a cafe or a shop.

Now I just need to dream up a beach holiday for next year, unless we have an unexpected heatwave in March!

 


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Burda Blouse with Tie Band

When I was making the Burda Bicycle Blouse I took step-by-step photos as I went through. The instructions that came with the pattern weren’t particularly clear and I wanted to make a record to make it easier to make the blouse next time around.

I just thought I’d share these instructions, just in case they benefit anyone else. Some of the photos are not particularly good. The light isn’t very good this time of year and I found I couldn’t wait till I was in the house at peak sunlight hours to take all the photos!

Burda Blouse with Tie Band Instructions

Burda chiffon blouse