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!

Things sewn in 2020: dresses

Monday 4 January 2021

I had a very prolific sewing year in 2020 - I finished 62 projects, used up 87m of fabric (including all the pieces purchased in 2020) and only bought 56m of fabric. This wasn't reflected on my poor neglected blog though - too much sewing and not enough time blogging! But I do like to record my output for future posterity, either because I'm trying to remember what pattern I used for a particular garment or I'm about to use a pattern again and want to check how I felt about it previously. Plus I always google a pattern before I use it to see how it turned out for others, so I feel I should give back to the internets.

I don't have time to do 50 or so blog posts for each finished project though, so I'm going to wrap them up in one bumper post for each category. Today's post is my favourite garment - dresses! I made 12 of them last year, so this will be a longish post.

My favourite dress is this vibrant green and navy blue scuba fabric that I made into Vogue 9167 in early December. The colour is gorgeous, the fit turned out well with minimal alterations and it has pockets! I haven't worn it yet unfortunately because due to Covid I only had one very casual and small Christmas function to attend. This dress is quite simple to make, and has clever cut outs at the waistline pleats to reduce bulk which was important for this thick and spongy fabric.

a white lady posing in a green floral dress and pink high heels and the cover of a Vogue sewing pattern

My favourite pattern that I made three times is Simplicity 8014 - a shirt dress with an option for a straight dress, curved hem dress or flared skirt dress. This may be one of the few times I've made all views of a sewing pattern - I made it in a navy and red floral linen, a black linen, black and white flannel gingham, and a blue and white crisp cotton shirting fabric. All versions turned out great and have been worn a few times this year already:

a white lady posing in front of a rainbow wall wearing a black and white gingham dress

a white lady posing in a black dress in front of a tv in a lounge room

a white lady posing in a blue floral dress beside a pool

a white lady posing in a blue and white shirt dress with hat in front a paling fence

cover of a sewing pattern

My most frequently worn dress is a very simple dress made from gingham linen in a mustard colour. It's the Style Arc Olivia, which I changed up by sewing the bodice on the bias. I've made this previously and I knew I had to make some fitting changes to it because I find the neckline to be too low and wide, and the bodice too long on me. This is a casual pull on dress that was perfect for the stay at home casual lifestyle of the last year.

a white lady posing in a gingham dress in front of outdoor furniture

My least favourite dress is probably this very bright printed linen that I made into a vintage Simplicity from 1978. It feels a bit frumpy and the neckline feels like it is choking me so it's currently sitting in my alterations pile to re-do that neckline and possibly shorten it a little. I did like that the cut on sleeves have a sleeve facing, which is a more sophisticated finish than the Style Arc dress which just has turned under sleeve hems.

a white lady posing in a very colourful dress in front of timber stairs and a vintage sewing pattern cover

And finally some dresses that I really like but haven't worn yet this year because they are either work dresses or party dresses, and in a year of work at home / stay at home there was just no occasion (yet!) to wear these. Firstly, a fit and flare dress in Vogue 8667 made in a navy blue bonded crepe, which feels a bit like scuba but presses better:

a white lady posing in a blue dress in front of a yellow wallpapered wall

A swishy dress made in a red textured woven mystery fabric - I can't remember the fabric composition but it drapes well and holds a press. This is another vintage pattern, this time from the 1980s and it turned out surprisingly lovely. I did shorten the bodice because it was designed to puff out over the waistline but with the centre back invisible zip that just made me look like a hunchback. I also shortened the skirt because it was originally almost ankle length on me and then the hem drooped even though it wasn't cut on the bias, so I had to shorten it even more. Still looks great - I just need an occasion other than posing in front of my Christmas tree!

a white lady posing in a red dress beside a christmas tree

A fitted work dress in a black and white plaid bengaline made into New Look 6144 with pleats at the neckline that are only just visible in this busy fabric. I've made this dress before plus this fabric is quite stretchy so there were no fitting problems at all (not often I get to say that!):

a white lady posing in a black and white plaid dress and the cover of a sewing pattern

Earlier in the year I made a dress that I found super difficult with very puzzling instructions that I blogged about here. It's McCalls7429 made in a polyester knit fabric that I am still on the fence about:

a white lady posing in a blue and white twist dress and the cover of a sewing patter

And finally, I made a dress for my daughter's birthday in January as I do each year. This year's dress was not such a big hit - it turned out a bit frumpy even though she loves the fabric which is a cotton sateen with a cool pineapple border print dress. This is from New Look 6320 which I altered by making the bodice shorter so that more of the skirt fabric was used. I think it might be the sleeves which make it a bit boring - it looks like a bit of a corporate style sheath dress instead of an eleven year old summer dress, so I may modify it in the hopes she will wear it this year at least once.

a young girl posing in a pink and black dress and the cover of a sewing pattern