Burda plaid skirt (again) and Goldhawk Road

Oh hey there! What’s new? I’ve just been hanging out in front of my house, catching some spring rays.

Kew Palace skirt

Oh alright, that’s not really my house, it’s Kew Palace. But don’t you think it coordinates rather nicely with my new skirt?

This skirt has been a long time in the making. With my usual stunning timing, I bought the fabric on a Goldhawk Road shopping trip in September, thinking it would be perfect for autumn.

I cut out the pieces in December, and didn’t get round to sewing them until March, just in time for spring. Which is no longer the perfect season for a lined wool tartan skirt.

Well, this skirt may be distinctly autumnal in hue, but I think I can wear it for a bit longer. It camouflaged well with the Kew Gardens foliage anyway.

Kew gardens skirt 2

Pattern details:

The pattern is Burda 02/2010, and you may recognise it from an earlier version.

This skirt is a replacement for that previous one, which I sadly shrank in the wash. It’s the perfect A-line skirt pattern.

As with any plaid, the cutting out was tedious beyond belief. I laid out all the pieces on a single layer of fabric to make matching the stripes a bit easier, and cut the pockets and waistband on the bias to avoid having to match those.

My skirt has pockets

Flowers kew gardens

Lining and zip:

I neglected to take any pictures of the inside but I lined it with a lovely heavy brown fabric which was also purchased on Goldhawk Road.

I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s a lot heftier than any polyester lining I’ve used before, and actually nice to sew with. Which makes a change.

Excuse the boasting, but I just have to point out my pattern matching skillz on the back (please to ignore the wrinkles and stray bits of thread.)

skirt stripe matching back

I used the Crescent skirt sewalong zipper method which is my fave for lined skirts. After avoiding the cut-out pieces for so long, the whole thing only took one evening to put together. I even hand-hemmed it which is pretty rare for me.

Speaking of rarities, isn’t it nice to see a different photo backdrop on this blog? I’m afraid it’s probably back to depressing grey hallway pictures soon, so don’t get too used to it.

kew skirt 3

My favourite thing about this skirt is the number of different colours in the plaid.

I spotted it at the bottom of a pile in Classic Textiles (I think), and it goes with nearly every one of my jumpers. Stylish AND versatile! I like it.

Here’s some more colours from Kew Gardens in homage:

purple tulips

Chairs at Kew Palace Kitchens

Is it too late to save Goldhawk Road?

Kew Gardens may be a London landmark, but so are the textile shops on Goldhawk Road, where I bought the fabric to make this skirt. And those shops are still in danger of demolition.

Depressingly, from this article it seems like the area will definitely be redeveloped, but I’m hoping there’s still a chance the shops can be saved. There’s a Facebook group here which is campaigning against the changes.

It’s a shocking state of affairs when well-loved and well-used local businesses can be torn down to make way for 194 luxury apartments‘, but billionaires can buy rotting mansions as investments and let them sit empty and unused. London property prices are out of control and it’s changing the face of the city.

I have no ideas on whether’s there’s anything we can do about this apart from making voodoo dolls of local politicians. If anyone has practical suggestions I’d love to hear them.

Minerva Blogging Network: Burda polka-dot trousers

This month’s Minerva project sprang from my wish to make a pair of trousers that involved no topstitching whatsoever. It was also inspired by the totally awesome pairs that Rosie from DIY Couture makes, and these overpriced Moschino polka dot trews.

Here’s the result:

polkadot trousers 1

You can see more about the project and the fit changes I made on the Minerva Blogging Network here.

These trousers have caused no small amount of controversy within my household. My husband thinks they look like pyjamas. I do own a pair of pyjamas made from extremely similar fabric, so I can see where he’s coming from, but hopefully the fabric is sturdy enough not to look like I’ve just woken up and strolled to the corner shop in my loungewear.

spottytrousers 3

The pattern is from Burda magazine 11/2013, available on the Burda site here, and it’s pretty good, with a shaped waistband and well-drafted pockets. I didn’t bother making a muslin, just compared them to my existing jeans pattern, and the fit isn’t bad, if a little bit tight.

If I’m totally honest, the main reason I chose this pattern is because there are four pieces to trace, and no welt pockets. Although this doesn’t help to support my ‘not pyjamas’ case.

They also have a turn-up cuff thing going on which I like although it’s not that noticeable in this fabric.

polkadot trousers 2

I’m not sure if I’ll be wearing these much, but I’m glad I made them. They might be more use in the spring.  I’m not convinced this is the most flattering style for the pear-shaped of us. Also, I think this pattern might work better in a slightly heavier wool fabric, as the knees tend to bag out a bit.

Still, I’m counting these as my first win for 2014. I made a wearable pair of non-jeans trousers! Hooray!

polkadot trousers 4

Read my Minerva post about these trousers here.

You can buy the polka dot stretch fabric here – I think it would make an amazing fitted dress.

Or buy the full kit with zip and fastening is available here.

Download the Burd pattern (11/2013 #110A) from the Burdastyle website here.

(sorry for the terrible photos. This is about as light as it gets in Britain at the moment.)

Minerva Blogging Network: Black skinny jeans (Burda 7863, again)

For my latest Minerva project, I’ve made another pair of Burda 7863 jeans. I am nothing if not predictable.

jeans 2

You can read my Minerva post about these jeans here. I used some silver stretch fabric that sadly lost all of its sparkliness in the wash, but I think this is par for the course with metallic fabrics unless the sparkly thread is woven in.

Luckily the base fabric is pretty dreamy anyway. It’s a very stretchy denim. Oddly, the stretch runs from top to bottom, rather than from selvedge to selvedge, so I turned the fabric 90 degrees when cutting out.

Here’s a close-up of my topstitching and one of the rivets – you can see the fabric looks almost grey in certain lights, which I rather like.

jeans topstitching

How long does it take to make a pair of jeans?

I thought it might be useful to have an estimate of how long it takes me to make a pair of these. My timings are vague, and I sew quite slowly, with many breaks to change podcast/make cups of tea/hunt for snacks. Hopefully someone will find it helpful anyway.

I usually sew jeans in 4 or 5 separate sessions. Here’s the order I use, which is different from the pattern.

  1. Cutting out, interfacing and changing the thread in my sewing machine and overlocker: 2 or 3 hours, including a long and frustrating hunt for my twin topstitching needle.
  2. Sewing the pockets and the front fly, attaching the back yoke and topstitching, sewing the back legs together: About 2 hours.
  3. Attaching the back pockets, sewing the front legs to the back legs, topstitching the seam with a twin needle, basting the side seams to check fit: 1 and a half hours. You can do this a lot quicker without basting the side seams, but every fabric varies so I prefer to check how they fit at this stage.
  4. Attaching the waistband, sewing the side-seams, sewing the waistband facing, topstitching the waistband and side-seams: About 3 hours of sewing, depending on how annoying the topstitching decides to be. NOTE: If you are using a metal zip that you have to shorten with pliers, add an hour on to this. It’s a huge pain.
  5. Sewing on belt-loops, attaching rivets and buttons, hemming: About 1 hour. Making the holes for the rivets is time-consuming.

The only fitting change I made for this pair was this flat seat alteration from the legendary Anne Rowley, star of the GBSB. I wouldn’t exactly describe myself as having a ‘flat seat’, but it does seem to have eliminated some of the wrinkles under the bum. However I think you can never entirely get rid of these, especially with stretch fabric.

jeans back

I’m fairly happy with the fit, except for the legs, which have drag-lines in odd places. I think this might be my last pair from this pattern for a while.  I’m not done with trousers yet, but for my next pair I’m going to go a bit smarter (and skip all of the dreaded topstitching).

jeans 1

If you’d like to make your own version of these jeans, you can buy the kit from Minerva here.

UPDATE – Public service announcement: please be careful with your zips!

After writing this post and sending my project details to Minerva, this happened:

photo (17)

I zipped the slider right off the first time I wore them! This is completely my own fault. I got a bit over-zealous with the pliers and took too many teeth off the zip, leaving room for this catastrophe to occur.

I managed to fix this but it was an enormous pain, involving tiny implements and much fiddling. Don’t be like me – be careful out there!

p.s. apologies for how blurry the photos are in this post. I would sack the photographer but he seems to be a permanent fixture now, and he’s quite good at making cups of tea.

Bright blue stretch skinny jeans: Burda 7863

I made some more jeans! You know what they say about third time lucky…


These are definitely my best pair so far. Once again, the pattern is Burda 7863. The fabric is bright blue stretch twill from Mandors in Glasgow.

I’m really happy with the fit on this pair. I widened the outside hips and that seems to have eliminated a lot of vertical wrinkles in the front. Also, it’s my flattest fly front yet!

jeans fly

The topstitching on this pair of jeans has taken years off my life. If there’s any sewing task worse than double-needle topstitching with heavy thread on stretch twill, I never ever want to try it. I should apologise to our neighbours for all the shrieks of frustration coming from our flat as the needle jammed AGAIN or the thread got caught in a tangled mess.

After a lot of trial and error I did come up with some ways to make it easier – if anyone’s interested I’ll do a post.

I also added rivets (from Jaycotts) which were v satisfying to hammer in. The inside pockets and fly facing are made from a scrap of black and white floral cotton I had lying around:

inside jeans

One curious thing about this pair. The leg seams are incredibly twisted. The inside seam is almost at the front of my foot. This happened with my brown pair too, but it’s much more noticeable in this one.

At first I thought it was something I’d done when altering the pattern, but after reading this blog post I’m wondering if it’s because of the stretch twill fabric I used. The first (denim) pair I sewed had no problem, and I don’t think I’ve altered the legs enough to cause this much distortion. Or possibly I cut the fabric off-grain. Anyone know about seam twisting in twill fabrics?

Anyway, it’s not that noticeable in this colour, and if anyone comments, I will pass it off as a homage to the early 2000s.

jeans 2

I’m happy with the back fit too. There are some wrinkles but they feel comfortable and allow for movement, rather than being constricting.

Hooray for new jeans! The pain of topstitching these is fading from my mind, and I’m already planning another pair in black stretch denim with a flared leg…

jeans 1

Burda 7863 version 2 – brown jeans of glory

I made some more jeans! Hooray!

Once again, I’ve totally struggled to get any decent photos of these. I couldn’t wait any longer to show them off though. Hope you can get the general idea.

brown jeans 1

Burda jeans

They’re made of brown fabric from Mandors in Glasgow. According to the label it was used by Burberry to make jodhpurs, and it really is ridiculously stretchy. It’s almost like a cross between a jersey and a woven, with great recovery.

Top-stitching on fabric as stretchy as this was what you might call an interesting experience.

pattern pieces

My pattern pieces look so terrible. I must get them traced off. I am embarrassed to admit I used brown parcel tape in desperation when I lost my scotch tape. Do you trace off your pattern pieces? I didn’t even realise that was a thing people did until this year. Shameful.

I made a few alterations from last time, including scooping out the back curve a smidgen, shortening the crotch by 2cm both front and back, and attempting a tiny bow leg alteration at the knee.

brown jeans 3

brown jeans 2

You can see I’ve still got a few folds under the bum but generally I think the fit is a lot better. Not sure what those drag lines are on the back thigh but I’ve decided not to worry about it.

trousers and hair

I used a new find, a double jeans needle, to do most of the topstitching. These jeans were total THREAD HOGS. I used up two and a half spools! Of course I managed to sew over the metal zipper halfway through construction and broke my lovely and expensive new needle, but it was fun while it lasted.

Like last time, I sewed them in a different order to the pattern envelope – first the inside legs (and topstitched), then the fly, then the outside legs (and topstitched down to thigh level), then the back seam.

I copied the pockets from my RTW Uniqlo jeans again and I’m super happy with them.

brown jeans back

I wasn’t sure if these jeans would get worn or not. It’s all because of my school uniform which was brown and ‘camel’ (ie. sickly yellow). If you made it to A-levels, you could wear any clothes you liked, as long as they were brown, white, or cream. I’m sure you can imagine how uplifting we all looked sitting in the sixth form common room. Truly a rainbow of beige.

Anyway those two years put me off brown for life. I think the last time I wore trousers of this hue I was 16 and off to see Blur at Bournemouth International Centre dressed in my best corduroy flares.

But times have changed! Damon Albarn is not nearly as fresh-faced, I can buy a pint without any fake ID, and I no longer have to worry about revising for my maths GCSE.

So I think these jeans have broken the curse. It helps that they’re unbelievably comfortable. I’ve already planned the next version in bright blue stretch twill. And this time I’m thinking RIVETS. Oh yes.

Giveaway results and Burda looky likey dress

Thanks to everyone who entered the DIY Fashionista giveaway! I was going to rope in my boyfriend to do the whole numbers-picked-from-a-hat thing. Unfortunately I’ve caught a disgusting Christmas cold and feel too feeble to organise anything that involves getting up from the sofa. So it’s good old random.org to the rescue.

random number

Comment number 18 was from Not Found. I’ve emailed you to get your address, Sarah – hope you enjoy the book! If you haven’t seen Sarah’s blog before, you should definitely check it out for some beautiful photos and musings.

In other news, take a look at these two dresses.


On the left, we have the cover dress from Burda Dec 2012. And on the right, we have this Biba long sleeved ‘Mirren’ maxi dress from House of Fraser. The drape is reversed, but otherwise there’s quite a resemblance.

I really like the look of the HoF dress, although I’m unconvinced by the ‘Biba’ Revival. I certainly don’t think it’s worth three hundred quid, especially as it’s made from polyester and lined with nylon (mmm, sweaty).

I’d love to make a dress like this, using the Burda pattern and a shimmery, drapey gold fabric. Unlikely to happen any time soon but the idea’s there if anyone else wants to have a go…

Giraffe print blouse – Burda 10/2011 #118

What kind of print do you call this then?

I think it looks like a blue and white giraffe, or a super-magnified lizard skin, or some seriously wonky tiling.

It’s made from this pattern. Just a very simple blouse with just two bust darts. The instructions were short and cryptic (of course, it is Burda after all) and I totally ignored the construction order. Much easier to sew in the armholes flat, then do the sides and the sleeve seams all in one so you can take it in if needed.

This fabric is lush, a very drapey but sturdy vintage crepe, from The Shop on Cheshire Street, AKA my favourite shop on Brick Lane. I can spend ages in there rummaging. All the fabric is folded up on shelves but they don’t seem to mind me pulling it all out and making a huge mess. There are wooden drawers full of lace and trimmings, and everything’s pretty reasonable too. Think this was less than a tenner for 2 metres.

I do think covered buttons look look very polished on a blouse like this, but is there anything worse than making them? So I was lucky to find these at the Peter Jensen sale.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m all about the finished result when it comes to sewing. I love day-dreaming about what I’m going to make – it all looks so perfect in my head. I’m not that interested in construction for it’s own sake. In fact I tend to skip reading sew-alongs and detailed technical instructions on other people’s blogs.

Ironically this always leads me to rush the actual sewing part to get to the wearing, which naturally leads to things I make looking a bit crap. For example, the buttonholes on this are rubbish. Too short and skimpily threaded. (tho luckily I only need to undo the top one to get the blouse on and off).

There’s some kind of life lesson in there somewhere, but it’s probably too late to change my slapdash ways.

I think this is why I hate most things I make immediately after I’ve finished them. They just don’t match up to the vision I had at the start. I usually come round to them in the end (I also made the skirt I’m wearing, I never blogged it because I didn’t like it but meh, actually it’s okay. Apart from the zip at the back.)

Overall I’m pretty pleased with this blouse. It looks great tucked into things, but don’t think I’ll be wearing it loose. There’s a distinct early 90s vibe, I can just see Elaine from Seinfeld rocking it with a massive boxy jacket on top.

(I know the 90s are supposed to be in fashion, or at least a version of them, but it’s not for me. All I can think of is ‘The Rachel’ and oversized Nirvana t-shirts. I seem to remember wearing brown corduroy flares for much of the decade and I don’t want to go back to there.)

Leopard print lovely – Burda 9/2011

So guys, I hope we are all aware of the fact that leopard-print is the new neutral? If not, it’s time to get on board. It’s the beige of the 21st century! (yes, I am aware that beige still exists).

Bearing that in mind, I have taken the gorgeous leopard print fabric I got from lovely Claire at the Brighton swap meet-up, and made the simplest/most boring t-shirt pattern in the world, the kimono sleeve jersey top from Burda 9/2011. Previously made and blogged here.

Leopard print kimono sleeve t-shirt, Burda 09/2011

This fabric is so nice. It’s super drapey and soft, but with great recovery. I did the whole thing on my overlocker, apart from stitching down the neckline seam and hemming, both of which I sewed with the stretch stitch on my normal machine.

Nothing fancy about this, it takes about an hour to cut and sew (less if you don’t keep stopping to try it on, as I compulsively do with everything I make. I even drape fabric pieces awkwardly over myself when they’ve just been cut. I hope I’m not alone in this). The only changes I made were to shorten the sleeves and add a double sided cuff, and to reinforce the top of the shoulder seam with some stay tape.


You can see that my overlocker thread is looking a bit loopy and rubbish, but whatever, it worked. I think it’s because I’m using one different kind of thread on the left spool, having run out of white I probably need to adjust the tension or something? Any tips?

Leopard print full length kimono sleeve top

Here I am looking smug because not only did I make this awesome top, I also grew the immense tomato plant you can see to my right there. It’s a total beast, taller than me!

This top hass had a slightly sceptical reception from some people, but I love it. The print is extremely leopard-y, but if you’re going to do animal print, go big or go home, that’s what I say. I really like the other kimono sleeve top I made, but the fabric is sort of cheap and nasty whereas this stuff is bloody amazing.

No idea what gave me the hugely innovative idea to match up this fabric and pattern. I’m sure it has NOTHING to do with the fact that Zoe has a very similar top made from the exact same fabric. Or that Burda put this doppelganger example in their magazine.

Nope, don’t see the similarity. Ahem.

Here is an interesting history of leopard print which you should read! Are you a fan of animal print? Or is it all a bit too much?

New Burda plaid skirt – 104/02/2010

I wear a lot of skirts. But somehow I hardly ever sew them, which creates a problem. I did have a try with my blue pencil number, but it’s a bit too formal for everyday wear.

With Me-Made-May coming up, I needed to even up the skirt balance a bit, so I made this simple A-line from Burda (104 from 02/2010- many good reviews on Pattern Review here). I sewed a version in denim first, which is wearable but a bit rubbish. This second try was more successful.

The fabric was another awesome score from the Brighton swap meet-up. It’s a sort of thick, wool-like plaid cotton, and I added a lining of American D-Kripp from Ultimate Craft in Stoke Newington (still no idea what the hell it is, apart from 1.50 a metre. Some sort of polyester?). As you can see, I made no attempt to match the pattern on the back, which I’m cool with.

Not much else to say about this – it’s a great basic pattern and a minimal amount of tracing. Burda sheets are such crazy illegible messes now that anything more than 4 pieces will give you a free nervous breakdown along with your new pattern. I was tempted by the drapey jersey dress in this month’s issue until I saw that there was FOURTEEN pieces to trace. Maybe I should get an intern just to do my Burda tracing (‘exciting new position in the fashion industry!’)

I cut the pocket pieces and the waistband on the bias to make the most of the plaid, and I used the Sewaholic brilliant zip insertion method, on Tasia’a blog here.

Sorry about my usual awkward posing. Bonus points if you can name any books/items of furniture from IKEA in the photos!

Kimono sleeve jersey top: Burda 09-2011

I started buying Burda magazines in 2008, when I discovered a local newsagent stocked them. (I’m not telling you which one in case somebody else nips down there and takes my copy. Don’t even think about it. He only stocks two.)

But I can count on the fingers of one hand the amount of clothes I’ve actually sewn from them.

This isn't all of them. They hide round the house.

It’s such a gigantic pain, and I am very lazy. Cutting out is already my least favourite part of sewing, and now Burda want me to trace off the pattern as well??

But where they win out is if you need a simple pattern for a top or a skirt. You’ll find it somewhere in a back issue for free, rather than having to pay 6 quid or more for a brand new pattern. So my 2012 sewing resolution is to make the most of my Burda stash.

I haven't quite got the hang of 'I'm a little tea-pot' yet

This top was a pretty easy start, it’s only got two pieces so it wasn’t too hideous to trace (using a spiked wheel, as explained by Melissa of Fehr Trade. Please do not risk your sanity by trying to actually trace the patterns with blank paper on top.)

It’s from the 09-2011 Burda issue, which I nearly didn’t buy as I have little use for a dirndl and/or traditional folk-style waistcoat, which make up the bulk of the issue (see paunnet’s post for an amusing overview).

I do, however, love jersey tops with kimono sleeves.

I’m also obsessed with sewing tiny little useless triangular pockets. I once bought a t-shirt with this detail from M&S (the glamour never stops round here), and since then I’ve added an identical pocket to every knit top I make. They are totally pointless, unless you need to store some loose Polo mints or perhaps a single pound coin, but I like them anyway.

This fabric is from Ultimate Craft. The stripes are a little bit too close together and it hurts to look at it for a long time, the whole thing starts to flicker like one of those Magic Eye pictures.

So to break up the eye-hurtiness, I lowered the neckline and used this brilliant tutorial from CraftStylish to add a finishing band. I sewed the whole thing on my overlocker, except for the hem and sleeve finishes (twin needle).

I’ve noticed that in most RTW, the grown-on sleeve only extends to the elbow or above, and below that a tube of fabric is sewn as a little sleeve extender. This is probably to save fabric, but I like the way it looks with stripes so I used it here (the pattern as written has a grown-on sleeve all the way down to the elbow).

I’m definitely making another one of these from the lovely leopard-print fabric I got from Claire at the Brighton swap. Two thumbs up for Burda.