A bevy of Burda tops

Sunday 26 June 2016
Every winter I never seem to have enough long sleeved tops to wear in the cold weather, and I wonder what I could have possibly worn the previous winter. Funnily enough when summer rolls around I also seem to lack short sleeved tops in my wardrobe and again wonder what goes on in my wardrobe in the intervening season!

Anyway, winter has finally rolled in to Sydney and I decided to make a number of quick and easy knit tops at my sewing weekend away at the end of May to fill the hole in my wardrobe. All Burda of course, since that's what I seem to naturally reach for these days.

First up I made a simple round neck top with an interesting shoulder insert which I have been planning to make for many years after seeing lots of other versions pop up around the blogosphere:

This is Burda 9/2012 #123, which is still available for download despite being several years old:

I used some metallic gold linen that was left over from another project for the shoulder inserts. It is hard to capture the shine of this fabric, but it really makes this top a bit more dressy than your standard round neck tshirt.

I changed the pattern slightly by leaving out the facing and keyhole opening at the back of the neckline, and instead just sewed on a narrow neckband instead. My black cotton jersey from the Remnant Warehouse is stretchy enough that I can get the top over my head despite the non stretchy linen at the shoulder and no opening at the back. The shoulder insert is only on the front of the top anyway, so it was fine:

Next up I made a Burda 02/2013 #127, a raglan tee with gathers at the shoulder that I've made twice before (although one of those is a UFO that will soon be finished):

I've made my version in a thin pink marle textured knit that has been in the stash for a long time. I'll definitely be wearing my version with a bra though, because I don't have the kind of confidence that the Burda model is displaying in the photo above!

The sleeves and body of this top are very long which I knew from my previous versions and yet I forgot about when I cut this pattern out. The body length is fine because it can be tucked in, but those sleeves are somewhat annoying (not annoying enough to fix though).

I also found that the gathers on the front shoulder aren't as gathered as much as the ones on the back - I did gather them between the pattern markings, but if I make this top again I would not spread the gathers out as far along the front as I have on this version:

Finally I made a super simple stripe tshirt from Burda 2/2011 #106:

I bought some lovely jersey fabric from Tessuti in 2014 when they held their Jaywalk competition - I couldn't think of anything imaginative enough to make from it at the time but this is a good use. The fabric is very soft with great recovery and wears very well.

I did change the pattern slightly by sewing a cuff with vertical stripes for a bit of interest but otherwise this is a straight size 34 pattern. Gotta love working with knit fabrics - so much less fitting required than all the woven jackets and dresses I usually work with.

And check out that pattern matching - side seams and shoulder seams! If only there were awards for such achievements, but I guess I'll have to make do with my own satisfaction.

I've got two other long sleeved tops and one UFO recently finished (but not yet photographed) which should see me through this winter - but I'm sure that in a year's time I'll be once again lamenting the lack of warm tops in my wardrobe!

Burda of the month: 5/2016 #101 The Origami Top

Thursday 9 June 2016
First of all, thank you to everyone for so many lovely and encouraging comments to my last post. The intent of the post was more to explain my absence and sporadic posing of late, but I am very grateful for all of you that took the time to comment - it's nice to know that so many of you are interested in what I have to say still after all these years!

Life is still going to be a little bit crazy for me for at least the next two months - I have a major work project that needs to be delivered in mid July, my daughter's school fete is later this month which I'm part of the organising committee, and I'll be sewing 28 jackets for the dance troupe at my daughter's school if they audition successfully for the School Spectacular which is in September. Add to that all the usual commitments involved in being a wife, mother and friend - no wonder I feel like I'm busy every moment of the day!

Luckily sewing is not a chore for me, it's (mostly) a relaxing outlet, so I'm certainly still making projects. I was a few days late in finishing last month's Burda project, but it is done at last. And I'm continuing my love affair with colour - this fabric is a very pretty pale coral colour which received many compliments from my fellow sewers at my recent ASG sewing retreat when I started sewing it.

Burda 5/2016 #101 pleat neck top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I decided to make 5/2016 #101, a simple looking top with interesting pleats at the neckline:

Burda 5/2016 #101 pleat neck top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Unusually for my Burda of the month challenge, I purchased this fabric specially for this project - mostly I've always used stash fabric. The pattern requiring lightweight softly draping blouse fabrics, and surprisingly I didn't really have anything I wanted to use in my stash. Luckily I was at The Remnant Warehouse a few weeks ago buying gold sequin fabric for those 28 jacketsmy daughter's school dance troupe, when I spied this wonderfully soft polyester with a slight amount of stretch for some bargain price.

While the fabric itself is lovely, I'm not sure it's the best choice because those pleats at the front just seem to drape rather than keep the pleat lines like the magazine photo. Plus it's a bit sheer so my bra and the facings show through. I think a lightweight cotton like a cotton voile or thin poplin may have been a better choice. That's also the reason why I chose to leave off the turned up cuff on the sleeve hems, because in this fabric it just drooped and I didn't really want to topstitch the cuff.

Overall the fit was a little bit funny - it was very roomy under my arms and through the back, but there didn't seem to be enough room across the front when I pressed the pleats along the marked lines. Since I'm an A cup it seemed unusual for it not to fit across the bust - if you're better endowed than I and are thinking of making this top it is something to keep in mind. I ended up ironing the fabric flat to take out the pressed lines and have just left it draping where it falls.

Burda 5/2016 #101 pleat neck top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Burda 5/2016 #101 pleat neck top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Wearing this top tucked in looks nothing like the Burda magazine photograph - they must have a large amount of fabric pinned in the back to get the front sitting that smoothly. I tucked the top in and arranged it properly just to take this photo, but already it puffed out and sat awkwardly, and is especially billowy at the back:

Burda 5/2016 #101 pleat neck top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Burda 5/2016 #101 pleat neck top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Making this wasn't as easy as it looks though - working out the order of those pleats and the difference between the pleat lines and placement lines took a number of attempts and a whole lot of attention! Burda as usual gives very sparse instructions, so in case anyone else (or my future self) is planning to make this top, here are the steps for getting that neckline right:

First, you do need to mark all those lines on your fabric, because my lazy way of using pins will not work - you need to know the difference between the lines the fabric is folded and the lines that mark the centre front placement lines.

Burda 5/2016 #101 pleat neck top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

So the first step is to make an inverted pleat at the centre front, by bringing the lines on either side of the centre front to meet in the middle (ie 'first' and 'second' in the photo above). Press these folded lines for about 5cm down from the top.

Burda 5/2016 #101 pleat neck top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

The second step is then to fold along the left side pleat line (the purple line marked 'third' in the first photo), and then bring this to the centre front so that it lays diagonally over - the vertical orange line should line up with the centre front. Press that folded fabric down. Then do the same with the right side pleat line - you can see in the photo below how it sits diagonally, but the curve of the neckline lines up properly when it's all folded in place. Give it a final press and baste a few stitches across the top to hold it all in place.

Burda 5/2016 #101 pleat neck top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Hopefully that makes sense and is helpful! It's quite difficult to describe and it took me a few tries to get this right. Also I don't think it matters if you do left over right or vice versa. Apart from the neckline it is a pretty straightforward project. I wasn't sure if this project was going to work out, so I just overlocked all the seams instead of using French seams which would have suited this fine fabric better but would have been a little bit more effort. I also just machine stitched the sleeve hem and bodice hem instead of doing a rolled hem or narrow hem which also would have looked better.

It is quite bulky at the centre front though, with all those layers from the pleats plus the facing. Again, I didn't want to topstitch since I couldn't find an exactly matching thread colour. I hand stitched the front facing to the bottom layer of the pleats at the centre front where it wouldn't be visible from the outside and I also stitched it down at the shoulders. I've left the back facing free though - fingers crossed it doesn't flip out when I'm wearing it.

Burda 5/2016 #101 pleat neck top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Burda 5/2016 #101 pleat neck top www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

This is not my usual silhouette, and I'm not sure I'm going to call this one a success yet - I'll try it with a few different outfits before I declare it a success or not. If I do make this again, I think I'll use the front of this pattern, but use the back and sleeves of Burda 8/2015 #120 (this top with drape front) because that pattern has a neater fitting shape to it. I would also use a slightly crisper fabric to make those pleats stand out more.

I think this may be my first Burda this year that I'm no so happy with, so I guess 1 from 5 is a pretty good rate so far!