Suns out, dresses are on: Burda 07/2015 #115

Saturday, 11 September 2021

It's only the beginning of spring here in Sydney, yet we hit 30 degrees (84F) here today - that doesn't bode well for when summer actually rolls around. Despite my love for sewing summer dresses I do not like the heat at all, but clearly I'm living in the wrong country!

After the last failure of a dress I decided to make a super simple dress that I've made before and I knew would fit with minimal effort. The real star in this project is the fabric - a bold graphic print cotton sateen from Nerida Hansen Fabrics. I'm not too impressed with the fabric though - it's rather thin and more like a cotton poplin or lawn than a sateen and it lost the sheen after the very first wash and the navy blue parts of the fabric look a bit worn out already. It works fine for this casual dress, but previous fabric I've bought from Nerida Hansen have been better quality than this, so it's a bit disappointing and I hope it's just this batch.

A picture of a lady posing next to a pool in a dress with a bold graphic print

The pattern is Burda 07/2015 #115, which I made back in 2015 when I was doing my Burda of the month challenge. I still wear that dress, so I knew this one would work out fine.

a sewing pattern cover of a dress

There's not much to say about this dress - it has a boat neckline with a facing, cap sleeves, a gathered skirt with elastic waist and a simple bodice with a bust dart. I picked this pattern not only because it is simple, but because I didn't want too many seam lines to avoid breaking up that large scale print. I deliberately placed the waistline at the dark stripe to avoid the stitching being too obvious.

a white lady posing beside a pool in a graphic blue and orange print dress

The back is similar to the front, just without the bust dart.
a photo showing the back of a woman standing next to a pool in a blue and orange print dress

And it has the all important pockets in the side seams. I'm not a fan of pockets in fitted dress because it adds bulk and they usually gape open, but in gathered skirts like this they are just right.

a white lady posing next to a pool in a blue and orange print dress

So all in all a great project - perfect match of fabric and pattern. I can see this dress getting a lot of wear this coming summer.

For the love of velvet

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Earlier in this never ending lockdown I needed to buy some buttons, and I discovered that Spotlight has a flat rate shipping fee of $13 no matter how much you spend. So instead of spending more on shipping than the actual buttons, I decided to fill up my order with some patterns and fabrics which handily were on sale. I ended up spending way more than the cost of the buttons and shipping, but that's sewing logic for you! 

Plus I bought two beautifully soft velvet fabrics - one a teal crinkle velvet and the other an olive green quilted velvet. I've only sewn with velvet once before many years ago so I wasn't sure what to expect, but these were easy to sew and all three projects turned out great.

The crinkle velvet I turned into a super simple three quarter circle skirt cut to a midi length. I did use an old 1980s pattern for this skirt, but there are loads on online circle skirt calculators if you can be bothered doing the maths and marking. 

For the waistband I used a lovely patterned elastic picked up from Pitt Trading - the two go together fabulously and it's a really quick way to do a waistband! I just used my coverstitch machine to topstitch the elastic to the skirt so that it would stretch without popping a seam.

I used the rolled hem function on my overlocker to finish the hem - doing it this way again was far quicker than doing a traditional turned up hem but it also gave a wavy lettuce edge effect which suits the look really well.

From the olive green quilted velvet I managed to make two projects - a bomber jacket and a vest, so that makes it a total bargain. I don't plan on wearing them together, but I have been wearing them individually alot lately - it really elevates my dog walking outfits!!

The jacket pattern is from a 2014 Burda Easy magazine which I've made twice before, and apart from the welt pockets (which are tricky) it is indeed a quick and easy sew. I used some black ponte that was in my stash for the cuffs and collar, and fully lined it with some black silk that was from deep in my stash. I also happened to have a black separating zipper in the stash so all the elements came together for a quick and satisfying sew.

For the vest I used Simplicity 1499 which is a great pattern with a couple of variations. It's only been in recent years that I started wearing vests at all, but I see a few more of these in my future.

 I made a few adjustments by fully lining the vest instead of using binding around the edges because frankly I find sewing on binding neatly and evenly a really fiddly and annoying task. I also used some bronze snaps because I didn't have another separating zip in the stash, and the colour of the bronze looks great against the green.

I had to use some of that black ponte from my stash for the side back panels because I didn't quite have enough velvet fabric, but I think that just adds a bit of a sporty look to it.

And the best part is that it has quite big pockets inset in the princess seam which I used the velvet for both the pocket bag and lining which makes it bulge out as you can see in the photo below, but it sure is nice sliding your hands into a velvet cocoon on a cold day. 

To be honest, I haven't worn the velvet skirt yet - not because I don't like it but because I've had nowhere special enough to wear it. Now the weather is warming up it will need to wait until next year. But the jacket and vest have been worn lots in the last few weeks so it was a good buy even though technically I'm trying to sew down my stash and not buy new fabric....

A sewing miss: Vogue 8685

Sunday, 5 September 2021

You can't win 'em all. A wadder every now and then is inevitable, especially if you don't make a fitting toile! This dress definitely falls within the category of a not so great outcome, but hey it's only fabric and a bit of time that's been lost and right now I have lots of both.

a white woman posing in a maroon dress

Actually this dress took quite a lot of time to finish and it's only because of refusal to make any new UFOs that I finished this at all. And looking at these photos of the finished dress I'm probably going to refashion into a skirt when I get over the frustration of this pattern.

So this pattern is Vogue 8685 which is now OOP but has 34 positive reviews over on Pattern Review. Being a pear shaped, my waist is relatively narrow compared to my hips so I liked the focus of this pattern on the midriff.

a picture of a sewing pattern cover

However, the midriff band and the curved yoke was just too much for my figure - it was too tight around the hip and too loose on the top which just looked terrible. Here is the first iteration of the dress made according to the pattern:

a photo of a badly fitting dress

a photo of a badly fitting dress

a photo of a badly fitting dress

So out came the unpicker and I adjusted the pattern pieces by letting out and taking in the seam where needed to make it fit. But then the curved yoke just looked droopy and the seam line finished at my widest part which just emphasised my saddlebag thighs. No photos of this stage because I was really annoyed with it.

In a last ditch effort to prevent this becoming a UFO, I decided to take off the curved yoke and just have the midriff waistband piece. I had to fuss around a bit with the skirt to make it fit by adding some pleats to the front and cutting out some excess from the back and then re-sew the invisible zip matching the seam lines again. So now it's finished.....but it's not great.

a photo of a white woman posing in a maroon dress

a photo of a white woman posing in a maroon dress

The proportions are all off because that waistband sits too high, there is too much fabric under my bust which makes it look floofy and those pleats I added to the skirt just emphasise a round tummy. And those sleeves! Those sleeves are way too big and way too long but I could face more re-sewing on this project, so instead I added elastic to the cuff to make it look a bit like a bell sleeve. But actually they just look too big.

a photo of a woman posing in a maroon dress

This fabric is a really lovely deep plum crepe that I picked up for a bargain from the Sewing Basket, a charity run fabric and craft store selling donated items. I am deeply sad that I used this lovely fabric on this catastrophe, but hopefully I can still give it a life as a skirt eventually.

Given the glowing reviews on Pattern Review, I think this wadder is all about me and not the pattern so if you have this pattern and were thinking of using don't be put off by my awful outcome. But I do recommend making a muslin and possibly using a stretch fabric. And if it doesn't work out, well it's all experience for life's rich tapestry isn't it? 


Completed UFO: Vintage Simplicity 6180 jacket

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Here I go again.....another attempt at getting back into blogging and another attempt at finishing off some UFOs! At the beginning of this year I set myself the goal of finishing at least 16 UFOs by the end of the year, this is number 8 so I guess I'm on track.

I started this jacket maybe 2 or so years ago, and didn't finish it at the time because it turned out overall too big and really shapeless. It's taken me this long to do some unpicking, take it in at nearly all the seams and finish it. It's now done, still a little oversized but I can live with that since it's a casual jacket and not a formal fitted suit blazer.

a white lady posing in a jacket against a wallpapered wall

The pattern is Simplicity 6180, a 1960s era pattern. Unfortunately there isn't a pattern for that very cool hat in the envelope, but it does contain a pattern for an a-line skirt with princess seams to match those of the jacket.  

sewing pattern cover from the 1960s showing a jacket and skirt pattern

The fabric I've used is a double knit bought from The Fabric Store some years ago, probably at one of their famous sales. It was really easy to sew with and press, as well as having a bit of stretch to make it comfortable to wear with minimal wrinkling. 

a close up picture of a shoulder and buttons of a jacket

The buttons are the real superstars of this jacket. I was originally going to make fabric covered buttons, but since we're back in lockdown here in Sydney I had to use what was in the stash so I decided to use some vintage buttons that I picked up from an Australian Sewing Guild industry day a few years ago. A lady used to have a stall selling her mother's stash of habadashery items that had been collected over a long time. I have no idea what era these buttons are, I think they are earlier than the 1960s but I think the colour and shape works well with this jacket. The inside buttons are just some pale pink buttons also from the stash.

a picture of brown hexagon buttons on a cardboard backing

close up photo of buttons and loops

a white woman holding a jacket open to show the insides

As I said earlier the reason this became a UFO in the first place was because it turned out too big. I ended up taking it in through the side seams and princess seams to get a closer fit without losing too much of the boxy shape. The back view now looks better, but I think the sleeves are way too wide and too long as well - these photos make it look really obvious. I think I will have to do some more unpicking and narrow them a bit more. Who knows how long that will take me!?

a white woman facing away from the camera showing the back of a jacket

a white woman posing in a jacket

One of the great things about this jacket is that although it's essentially a double breasted jacket it still looks pretty good worn open. The front facings fold back nicely to form a lapel and being a lightweight jacket it hangs open well.

a white woman posing in a jacket

And as I always say after every UFO I finish - I don't know why I took so long to get around to it! The good news is that I haven't created any new UFOs in at least the last 2 years, the bad news is that I still have quite a big box of past UFOs to get through!

Just another lovely dress: Burda 8/2015 #123

Sunday, 28 February 2021

If you follow me on instagram (@kristysewsalot) you'll know that this year I am trying to sew up all the fabrics that I bought in 2019 that are still sitting in my stash. I'm also trying to finish up at 16 of my UFOs for good measure. This mini challenge follows the success of last year's efforts to sew all the fabrics I bought last year - fingers crossed I can do this too!

I'm off to a fairly decent start - of the 23 fabrics I need to sew this year and the 16 UFOs I want to finish I've already sewn 4 pieces and 4 UFOs (just my blogging hasn't kept up). My latest project is fabric no.4 from that pile - a fairly thick cotton duck like fabric in a gorgeous green with a flower print. I bought this from an online fabric store called Daily Like which has since sadly closed down.

a white lady posing in a green dress standing in front of some plants and wall prints

My trusty back catalogue of Burda has come through with the perfect pattern - 8/2015 #123 which is a fairly simple dress:

an image from Burda Style of a dress sewing pattern

Because my fabric is quite thick and without much drape, my version has turned out far more a-line than the beautiful white version modelled in the pattern photo. The pattern does recommend using wool or wool blend fabrics, which would make the skirt fall more closely to the body than my version.

a white lady posing in a green dress spreading the skirt wide

Despite this, I still really like this. The high waist hits me at my slimmest point, and the pleated skirt means I can have a big lunch and not feel restricted like a normal sheath dress! This was also really easy to fit because I didn't have to grade from a size 34 at the bust to a 38 at the waist to a 42 at the hips - I just cut the skirt in the bigger size and made those waist pleats a little deeper to match the waist size.

a white lady standing side on and facing away from the camera

The skirt at the back is just plain so it sits flat against the body. Thanks to the width of the skirt at the hemline there was no need for a walking vent, so it was really quick and easy to hem this dress.

a lady with red hair posing in a green dress with her back turned to the camera

Unfortunately I didn't have enough fabric to make those elbow length sleeves with the contrasting bands, which is a pity because I do love that lengthy of sleeve and the sleeve bands to match the neck band would have looked nice. But since this is made from a cotton fabric the cap sleeves work well to make it a summer dress instead. 

The neckband is essential a facing that is sewn to the inside and flipped out instead of the normal way of sewing it to the outside and flipping it in. This is cut from some scrap black cotton sateen and topstitched down.  

Overall I really like this pattern, and I would like to make it again in a wool crepe with elbow length sleeves for a winter dress. I didn't line this dress because I wanted it to be a summer dress and the thick cotton fabric isn't clingy at all, but a wool (or similarly drapey fabric) would require a lining.

I can highly recommend this pattern if you're looking for something quick, simple but just plain lovely. Luckily you can still download this pattern from the Burda Style website if you don't have a hoard of Burda magazines from the last decade or so like I do!

a lady with red hair posing in a green dress

Things sewn in 2020: pants

Sunday, 17 January 2021

 After more than 20 years of sewing, pants remain my nemesis. Sure they are fairly easy to make, but we all know that getting them to fit well is very difficult. Every time I make a fresh pair I make slight adjustments and I feel I am slowly getting there! Last year I made six pairs of pants, with varying degrees of success.

My favourite pants that I made last year is a wide leg pant from a a pattern that I have made a few times previously: Burda 10/2016 #113.

an image of a sewing pattern for pants and a blonde model wearing white pants, a white top and blue and white jumper draped around her shoulders

I made a pair in a blush pink medium weight linen that I made as per the pattern with the wide legs and the sewn on pockets on the front. I also made a black pair from wool suiting, that I narrowed the leg and left off the pockets.

a white lady with red hair posing in a pair of pink wide leg pants and a white top, and in a pair of black straight leg pants and a fuchsia coloured top

I find that the wide leg style mostly gets rid of those annoying drag lines I usually get on the back of the thigh. When I narrowed the leg for the black pair they came back slightly, but it seems this pair has a good crotch curve for me. After doing Sarah Veblen's course on pant fitting over at I have discovered I need to have a long back crotch and to scoop it quite low to provide enough space for my ample and low hanging derriere.

a white lady posing in a pair of pink wide leg pants and a blue denim jacket

My next favourite pair from last year are a pair that I haven't worn as yet (because they are work pants), but I love the shape and look even though I would never have thought I would wear pleat front pants ever again! This pattern has a v-shaped yoke at the front, which means that the pleats start lower on my stomach and the fabric is flat over the roundest part of my waist which makes it more flattering. There are a few wrinkles on the back leg but less than I usually get, so I can live with how these look.

These pants are made from a navy blue wool suiting, using Burda 4/2014 #110.

a white lady posing in a pair of navy blue wool pants and white top, and an image of a sewing pattern for pleated pants

the side and back views of a white lady wearing navy blue pants and a white top

I made another pair of wide leg pants early in 2020 from a printed linen that has been in my stash for a long time. I wore these quite a few times to work with a blue blazer and the chartruse one in the photo below, and casually with a black or white tshirt. The colour has faded after so many washes, but these are still great pants. This is another Burda pattern of course, this time 2/2010 #110:

a white lady posing in a chartreuse coloured jacket and printed black linen pants

Finally, my least two favourite pairs made last year. I bought some lovely dark teal linen to make a suit, but the pants didn't turn out great. The pants are a bit high waisted, and since linen grows after wearing it for a while these pants have a tendency to slide down and look saggy. After wearing them a few times I decided I couldn't live with them as they were, and I've actually got these pants in my repair pile with the waistband pulled off. I'm going to take them in slight at the side seams and put some elastic in the back waist to help keep them up where they belong.

Apart from that they are ok, but not great. I found the welt pocket at the back gaped open, so I added a little tortoiseshell button to help keep it closed. There are wrinkles on the back leg as usual, indicating the crotch curve needs some more work on this pattern.

a white lady posing in teal linen pants and a navy top

The pattern is Burda 12/2013 #106:
an image of a sewing pattern for pants

Finally I get to my least favourite pair but funnily enough I still frequently wear these because they are casual and lightweight and just what I need these days. These are Burda 4/2016 #117 and I like the pocket flaps and the hem cuffs, but the fit on these turned out just awful. Whiskers across the front, wrinkles on the back leg and a weird length - if the cuff is down it looks accidentally too short so I wear them turned up to look deliberately cropped.

But they are comfortable, and since they are made from a light cotton sateen they have been perfect for this cool and rainy summer we have been having here in Sydney this year.

a white lady posing in blue pants, a white tshirt and a red and white scarf, and an image of a sewing pattern for pants

This isn't the end of my pants fitting journey - I've given up making muslins because all I end up with are a bunch of poorly fitting calico pants that can't be worn anywhere! Instead, I'll keep on making slight adjustments until I reach my holy grail - a pair of slim leg pants with no wrinkles on the back leg.....

Things sewn in 2020: jackets

Saturday, 9 January 2021

My love for sewing jackets, especially tailored jackets, continued this year despite having no real reason to wear one because I wasn't in the office for most of the year. I made 8 jackets last year, of which 5 are definitely corporate wear and 3 are more relaxed.

My most worn jackets last year are two bomber jackets both made from the same pattern but in very different fabrics. The first version is made from wool in black and white gingham, lined in black bemsilk lining. I didn't have any black ribbing, but used some black ponte fabric which has worked really well. The other version is made from a very lightweight cotton voile that I lined with a crisp cotton poplin not only to give it enough body but also to give some depth to the pale pink and pale green fern print. I used some grey ribbing from the stash. Both have been worn a lot last year and this year already (even the wool one because so far it's been a cold summer).

diy bomber jackets Burda Easy 2014

The pattern is from a 2014 Burda Easy magazine that I picked up at a Sydney Spoolettes fabric swap, and the pattern is indeed quite easy. Even the instructions for the welt pockets are pretty good for Burda.

Burda Easy 2014 magazine

My second favourite and semi-casual jacket is a linen kimono sleeved jacket made from a chartreuse heavy weight linen. This is made from a 2002 Burda magazine and I love the turned up cuffed sleeves and the slight stand up collar. I wore this a few times last year - both to the office with pants and casually with jeans.

Burda 6/2002 #101 chartreuse linen kimono jacket

My third favourite jacket made last year is a vibrant emerald green wool tweed jacket heavily inspired by a jacket that Peggy wore in Mad Men. I had no reason to make this other than I loved the fabric! But I will definitely wear it to work when things get back to normal. Again I used an older Burda pattern - 4/2014 #103 which I made no size modifications to despite using a firm woven fabric with no stretch even though the pattern calls for jersey or soft wool. I hand stitched the navy blue grosgrain ribbon around the collar which really hurt my fingers but it was worth it - I love the curved front hem and the neat fit from the princess seams. I plan a few more jackets from this pattern in the future.

emerald green Mad Men style blazer Burda 4/2014 #103
Another work jacket that I made very early in the year and actually wore to the office a few times in February and early March is a blazer from Burda 9/2016 #108. I made this pattern a few years ago in a light pink soft wool crepe which I still wear frequently so I knew the pattern was good. This version is made in a teal heavy weight linen, lined in a glorious green silk. I made the matching pants that you can just see in this photo but they need some rework because they bag out quickly and get too big after about 2 hours of wear.

teal green linen blazer Burda 9/2016 #108

I have narrow shoulders and one of my obsessions is getting a neat fit around the shoulders - I'm always doing a narrow shoulder and a forward shoulder adjustment, and will re-sew a sleeve head multiple times until it's pucker free. So I don't know what I was thinking making a jacket with a quirky square sleeve head with a big pleat at the shoulder! I used a beautiful sage green wool suiting fabric that I picked up from a charity shop and thought it would look great in a fashion forward kind of way. Luckily I was able to re-cut the sleeve into a standard shape and resew it because it looked ridiculously pointy and just wrong. This is New Look 6013, and aside from those quirky sleeves it's a great looking jacket:

New Look 6013 sage green wool blazer

I do like jackets with a cool collar or some sort of design twist, and this asymmetrical wrap jacket from an old New Look 6619 pattern fit the bill perfectly. The front was actually meant to be asymmetrical - it just turned out that way when I positioned the button in the best place to fit my bust and shoulders! I actually prefer the way it looks like this. This is made from a white blue and pink tweed jacket, lined in a pale blue bemsilk from the stash (I was really big on using stash fabric last year).
white tweed wrap front jacket New Look 6619

Finally, my most recent and least favourite is a gorgeous fuchsia wool suiting that I tortured into a tailored jacket. The fabric is quite lightweight and drapey, which I picked because the collar of the jacket I tried to make is a scarf style in a shawl neckline. The pattern is Burda 7286 view A. Well that backfired because the collar would not properly at all when folded over on itself and I got so annoyed with it that I eventually ripped the collar off and made it a collarless jacket.

I even went to the effort of making welt pockets with flaps and a bound button hole, but this fabric just wasn't right for this style of jacket. I used light interfacing to block fuse the body pieces, but the more I steam pressed the jacket the more it bubbly and stretched out. It looks ok in photos, and while I probably won't wear it in person, someone clever on my IG suggested wearing it for video calls because the imperfections won't be noticeable! So that's my plan, because I don't want to waste this fabric.

Burda 7286 fuchsia wool blazer

 So I do have plans for a few more jackets this year, time will tell whether I get to actually wear them all in the office this year though!