Friday, May 22, 2015

Burda Wrap Top

 When I was making the culottes, that I blogged about in my last post, I looked on the Internet for different way to style them.  I even planned a mini SWAP storyboard around the culottes.  Below is one of my inspiration collages.

The top in the middle is very similar to this one in the Burda Style May 2014 magazine.  Wrap tank with pockets

The inspiration top is a faux crossover ( angles of armhole opening do not match neckline angles)  and the bottom front corners are sharp rather than curved, but the look was very similar.

This style was so different than what I usually wear, I realized the finished garment ran a serious risk of being a closet shut in. But I decided to sew it anyway. I am always up for trying a new style.  This top was a fair amount of work because of the welt  pockets with flaps, and the back pleats. It is lined in the front and has a facing for the back armholes and neck opening. Plus I did a lot of tweaking in the shoulder ( my problem area)  and armhole area to get a close fit.   On the plus side this top has no closures. It truly is a pull over the head top.  


The  fabric is cotton, purchased from Walmart. It had the colors I needed for my SWAP and a polka dot type print similar to the inspiration top.  I actually like the way the top looks and feels while worn.    If you choose to wear a bra with this top, it has to be either strapless or one where the  straps attach to the cups above the apex rather that toward the sides. Or the straps show in the front armhole. Only one of my many bras worked with this top.

Burda top 5 2014 132
Burda Culottes 4 2015 113 

I also like this top with jeans. I took this picture in the now finished and painted family room.  All construction work is done, but we are currently suffering from sticker shock at the cost of replacing the 20 year old carpet.

Burda top 5 2014 132

There will be no sewing this Holiday weekend.  We are driving  to PA to visit relatives and have a nice dinner to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Yes, 36 years ago DH and I got married in a civil ceremony, in the Justice of the Peace's office in Wilkinsburg, a suburb of Pittsburgh.   Pictures taken that day in the JOP's office remind me of the " American slice of life" paintings  by Norman Rockwell. The formally dressed wedding party sitting stiffly in one corner of the  waiting room. A handyman  is replacing the large plate glass window of the waiting room which had been broken the night before. And in the other corner, a small group of  casually dressed older women, all  with pink foam curlers in their hair. Isn't it funny what you remember from your wedding day.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cullotes and Construction

My latest sewing projects are a pair of culottes and a jacket. I wore culottes many years ago and remember liking them a lot.  The patterns is from Burda 4 2015, pattern 113.

Burda 4 2015 113

The fabric is a tropical weight wool blend, 97% Wool 3% Lycra purchased from Roz at Sew Much Fabric . It is a lightweight fabric with some body, which was the Burda fabric recommendation. This pattern has deep pleats in the front and the longest darts I have ever seen in the back. They actually ends below butt level. They look okay though.

The culottes are definitely comfortable to wear. For some reason the "legs" of my culottes look much wider than those in the magazine pictures. Ah well, perhaps because I am shorter and wider than most models. The waistband is about 2" high which is great if you want to wear cropped tops without flashing skin. I made a semi fitted, waist length jacket to wear with these culottes. The linen print fabric was also purchased from SMF. The colors, white, gray and a light chartreuse (greenish yellow) are so fresh and calming. I liked everything about this fabric. The pattern is one of many McCall's NY NY Collection patterns in my stash. They all have garments which were a little different from the popular styles back in the 1990's, when they were issued, so I think that saves them from reeking heavily of that era.
McCall's 8611
Cropped tops seem to be very popular now. Ror the last couple years, Burda magazines has had patterns for many of them,  but they are all too boxy for my narrow shoulders and the shapelessness overwhelms my top half. My "over 55 years old" interpretation of this trend is a semi fitted, cropped at the waist top, like this jacket.  The jacket is unlined. I serged all the edges of the garment pieces to prevent raveling. This jacket was a fast, fun sew.

Burda 4 2015 113
What is the  construction in the blog title?  DH has been working every weekend for the last month, removing the dark paneling in our 35 X 15 ft. dungeon   family room and replacing it with wallboard. My weekend sewing, cooking, cleaning activities were constantly interrupted to help him bring in wallboard from the truck, or hold it in place while he screwed it to the studs. I was only too happy to help. Next we get to do the fun stuff like picking out paint colors and buying new furniture. Anyone want a 35 year old sleeper sofa?

 Using the wallboard as a backdrop for my pictures also serves the purpose of showing other family members where we are on the project. And I liked the purple color or the waterproof wall board. ( near a shower)
Something is not level. Yeah, the sawhorse the camera is sitting on.
No more dark paneling!


Monday, April 6, 2015


Have you ever been fascinated by something because of its ugliness or because something seems off- kilter about it.

"He had a big head and a face so ugly it became almost fascinating."   Ayn Rand

Vogue pattern 9096 is like that for me.

Vogue 9096

I like the faced rounded shapes on the jacket. But their placement on only one side seems a bit heavy (especially on the longer jacket)  and the square bottom corner of the LHS  is jarring to me.  I like asymmetric designs, but they have to flow in some way. Is it just me or does anyone else find this design unbalanced? 

There was no sample jacket of View A on the Vogue website. Just the pattern drawing. I couldn't stand it, and on an impulse, I decided to make the short jacket. In red just like the pattern envelope picture. The fabrics were  red poly/rayon linen look and  mystery fiber  lining material from my stash,  both circa 1980. The  pattern  has two piece raglan like sleeves and the  front of the jacket extends into a standing back collar. The pattern come in sizes Y(XSmall-Small-Medium), ZZ(Large-XLarge-XXLarge)  Equivalent to Size 4 to Size 26.

I made a size M (size 12-14)  The pattern is rated easy and in general, based on pattern pieces and sewing skills needed, it is.  However it is lined to the edge. The lining is assembled separately, as though it were a second garment, placed inside the garment, wrong side to wrong side, and attached along the edges, it provides the garment with a perfectly smooth inside finish.  With this method the lining is not cut larger that the fashion garment to provide length and width fitting ease ( generally at center back, armhole, hem edge, elbow, sleeve hem, shoulder) like a tailored suit lining is.

So inaccurate sewing, seams slightly bigger in the lining construction for example, are a recipe for disaster. I consider myself an experienced sewer and these types of lining are not easy for me.   To up the chances of success, I interfaced the edges of the front pieces and the collar as these are all cut on the bias. I also added a center back pleat to the lining and cut the lining about 1/8 inch bigger that the garment pieces.


Top Stitching with edge stitch pressure foot

The curved side overlaps the straight front side. But the front did not hang neatly, overlapping as shown in the pattern drawing.The pattern does not call for a closure. When I tried to add snaps to keep the pieces overlapped, the fabric puckered and  pulled. I believe, in part, because one side is heavier than the other.

lining and snaps

puckers , yuck

So for the time being I will wear the jacket  it open. I am tempted to add a curved shape to the LHS. It would satisfy my need for a repeated design element. And  I cut two of that piece, not paying attention to the "cut 1" on the pattern piece.  I do think the technique for applying the shapes on the longer coat is interesting and could be used on another  project. It also reminds me of the all the Lois Ericson patterns I have in my stash.  She used faced shapes on her art to wear garments.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spice Colors

I sewed up a couple of tops to wear with the butterscotch jacket from the last post.  The fabric colors were from the  “Desert pallete” of ocher, mustard, pepper and cinnamon that many designers are using this spring.

The first top was a blouse from  Burda pattern 6839, an envelope pattern that includes  seam and hem allowances. It is semi fitted style with front princess seams and back darts.  I made view A, which has pleats that radiate from the neckline.

 The fabric was a silk print of wine and  black circles on a gold and brown pin stripe background.

The fabric was really densely woven and behaved like a microfiber.  In that when I had to sew through more than 4 layers, the brand new, very sharp needles had trouble pushing through the fabric. I am still becoming familiar with my new computerized sewing machine and when this message  appeared the first time the needle could not pierce the fabric, I was a bit startled. 

While I waited for the OK button to reset, it occurred to me that this is a message I would really like to give to my kids, spouse or coworkers  sometimes. Substituting the word  "Human" for Machine. He he he! Maybe when we are all wearing Google type glasses we can program such messages to pop up  on our glasses for others to read.  Anyway, I really like the fit of this blouse and hope to make another one from this pattern soon

Burda 6839

Burda 6839 blouse & Vogue 9039 jacket

The second  top is  view A of Vogue 9006.  This one is going to be a favorite for a quick summer top. 

It is pullover with draped (small cowl) front neckline, princess seams and shaped hem.  The shoulders of the armholes are slightly cut in and for that reason, the sleeve pattern for views B and C does not work with the armhole of A.  Rats , because I really wanted the front of A with the sleeves of B. My fabric is silk georgette.

The pattern calls for finishing the sleeves with a facing.  I am not part of the anti facing sewist group. When the facing pattern is drafted correctly and the sewing is accurate, facings are wonderful.  For my silk georgette fabric, I felt  a lightly interfaced facing was perfect for finishing the armholes on this blouse and maintaining the shape. I am mentioning this because some others have sewn this top, finished the armholes with a bias binding and then complained of the arm hole being too big. Perhaps the armhole was stretched out of shape when the binding was applied? The size of the armhole on my top was perfect.
Vogue 9006

Vogue 9006 top with Vogue 9039 jacket


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Butterscotch Jacket - Vogue 9039

This little flower is a miniature iris and it is always the first flower to bloom in my yard in the spring.
Years ago I planted the bulbs randomly in the flower beds.  It is always a pleasant surprise to see them, but this year it  reminded me I needed to finish my jacket before it got too warm to wear it.

 The jacket  is sewn from a lovely tweed fabric in the golden brown color I call butterscotch. Butterscotch is a type of confectionery whose primary ingredients are brown sugar and butter. Family members will be smiling as they read this.  My favorite snack is made by smearing a piece of toasted bread with  butter  and  a liberal sprinkling of brown sugar. Microwave for 1 minute and you have  instant toffee on toast, yum!  Who wants to eat raw chocolate chip cookie dough, when you can eat the creamed butter and brown sugar mixture made in an earlier step of the recipe?   I love the flavor of  butterscotch, but I never wear the color.  For some reason, this fabric kept catching my eye.

 The jacket pattern  I used is Vogue 9039
I liked this  pattern because it was fitted, and the pointed, vented sleeves and the inset corners in the bodice seaming and the collar were style details I was interested in sewing. This jacket pattern looks very similar to popular jacket styles (shown on a lot of celebs) by Helmut Lang about 2 years ago. His jackets were where I got the idea to use leather for the collar.

 Set in corners, inset corners and  inset reverse corners are names used to refer to the same styling detail and they are featured in many patterns. 

They can be challenging  to sew depending on the fabric and the angle of the corner.  There are several sewing method  that turn up in pattern directions and tutorials.  I did some research to refresh my memory on how to sew them and list some of the different methods I found below.
Video-conquering-inset-corners Dressmaker method using organdy to reinforce corner

Blog Post -Inset-reverse-corners   Leisa uses similar technique to the video on ravely boucle fabric
Article "Conquering Inset Corners" in the June/July 2002 issue of Threads (#101).

Blog Post - Corner seams tutorial -interesting use of temporary stabilizing on the StyleArc Victoria blouse

 Blog Post - How-to-sew-a-corner-seam   Great pictures, but I prefer to stay stitch inset corner and clip before  sewing the seams

 Video - Louise Cutting   Threads Magazine Insider video ( will have to join or pay small fee to see extended library of articles and videos)  using Steam a Seam fusible tape and topstitching. Lovely, quick technique for sporty look.

DVD - Cynthia Guffey -  If you happen to have her "Corners "DVD in your sewing library. She uses low tack painters tape to mark seams before stay stitching  and takes a stitch diagonally across inset corner. She is my inspiration for precision sewing.

The inset corners were sewn quickly and without incident. The jacket was backed by  a fusible interfacing so raveling was not a problem. I use the easy method. Mark seam lines. Stay stitch inside corner seam along marking,  Clip inside corner, and sew seams pivoting at clipped inside corner.

The issues I had with this jacket, which derailed my sewing  momentum were:

1.Wide extended shoulders  The shoulders were very wide. I found this out when I tried on the assembled body without the sleeves. I reduced the shoulder width by ½ inch, but they were still a bit too wide and required extra interfacing to maintain their shape so they would not  collapse off the end of my shoulder. I did not want to use shoulder pads.

 2.  Sleeves too long. I shortened the sleeves by 1" so that the sleeve edge hit my wrist joint in the front. Yes, the pointed part of the sleeve does extend over the back of the hand. But the sleeve looks better when the front hem is where a normal straight cuff sleeve would normally end. Because the pattern directions have you finish the sleeve hem and vent before inserting the sleeve, I didn’t discover the problem until after I had inserted the sleeves in the jacket. So I had to shorten the sleeves from the bottom, re-cutting the shaped sleeve vent facing. I do not normally have to shorten full length sleeves on Vogue patterns.

 I like the jacket,  It goes well with the slacks and blouse I blogged about  recently.  And I found several other coordinating fabrics in my stash. Another top has been completed and a 2nd one is in progress. 

Vogue 9039 Front

Vogue 9039 collar close-up

vogue 9039 side view






Sunday, March 8, 2015


 I have no new sewing projects to share with you, but I will share pictures of wonderful garments sewn  by someone else for my sister.

 I just spent a week in sunny, warm Tucson, AZ.  My whole family flew out  to help my youngest sister celebrate her 50th birthday.   I am not sure she really wanted any fuss over her birthday, but it was the perfect excuse for the rest of her sibs to escape a snowy, cold, east coast winter  We all managed to fly out  between snow storms, with only small flight delays for plane de-icing.

 For her birthday party, my sister wore a dress and bolero jacket sewn by her close friend G. The dress pattern was McCall's 7085, a semi-fitted, lined dress (fitted through bust) with neckline variations and back zipper. G made view B with the short sleeves.

G added a flounce  from New look 6433 to the lower back. I think there were issues with fabric shortages or matching, but it was clever and very attractive solution.

and a bolero jacket from McCalls  pattern 5006. 


 The fabric for the dress was a cotton print of white birds on a gray background and the jacket was sewn from eyelet embroidered in a paisley motif.

 The two garments were beautifully sewn and my little sis looked wonderful in them.

M - 50th birthday. Photo taken by YB.

 The 3 sisters and SIL managed to sneak away for a quick visit  to SAS Fabrics, a fabric store that has been in Tucson for over 50 years.

The SAS stands for either Sew and Save, or Save and Sew, the staff wasn’t sure of the order. Though there is some fabric on bolts or rolls, most of the fabric is in pieces on huge tables.  It is one of those stores where you dig through a lot of junk in hopes of finding treasures. The store is not fancy and some of the stock looks like it has been around for ages.  Not the kind of store that appeals to everyone. It reminded me of the Jomar stores in Phila, PA.

  I found some light weight gray wool  and a coordinating gray and pink swirl textured fabric (it was on the minky table).  I am thinking sleeveless jumpsuit with funky shrug.

 During our visit, we stayed outdoors as much as possible to  enjoy the beautiful weather. Temperatures in the high 60’s, dry, with brilliant blue skies.  DH and I hiked in the Santa Catalina Mountains.  Steep rocky trails with a different desert view around each turn. Lots of Saguaro cactus. In fact every plant along the trail, and in my sister's yard for that matter, had spines or thorns.  I stumbled off the trail one time and had to pull pricklies out of my jeans and socks. We saw lizard and snakes on the trail,  but no wildcats or javelinas. Though my sister has seen both on her early morning en plein air painting trips.

Catalina Mountains AZ  Where's the shade?

The trail, almost to the top.

  La Fiesta de los Vaqueros - the Celebration of the Cowboys, was the week we were visiting. There are two major events that are part of the celebration. The Tucson Rodeo and Tucson Rodeo Parade. It is a big deal. Public school are closed on parade day, which we missed,  but we did go to the rodeo, part  of the annual Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit. We saw the calf roping, bull riding, and barrel racing. It was all quite exciting and very different.  I so wanted to be wearing a cowboy hat and kickin western boots like sis and  many of the locals in  the crowd.  Next time!
Sis’s house has a panoramic view.  Downtown Tucson on one side and different mountain ranges on all the others.  Every evening, the out of towners would run from one side of the yard to the other, trying to capture the rapidly changing colors of the mountains as the sun went down. Sis’s 4 terriers thought it was some new fun game. They were running  and jumping at our heels. We must have looked very comical to the neighbors. I leave you with my favorite pictures ( not photo shopped).