Burda 6332: An Experiment with Knits

Early last year before the pandemic took hold I was trying on RTW trousers (yes, remember those days of changing rooms in shops?) and I noticed that many of them, despite being tailored styles, were made in jersey and knits. Although I did not find a pair to fit me I did think about how comfortable and warm it would be to wear a smart pair of trousers made of those fabrics. Shortly after that while out shopping I spotted some medium weight navy pinstripe jersey fabric and snapped it up with the intention of making some smart trousers.

I’d had my eye on Burda envelope pattern 6332 style B for a while as I liked the high waist styling with pleats reminiscent of the 1980s but I knew I would not be able to emulate it entirely as the jersey would not hold the CF creases or pressed turnups. As these trousers were being made for wear in cold weather I also decided I wanted these to be ankle length and not three quarters.

The cutting out of the fabric took a while as with stripes and checks I always cut from a single layer of fabric and flip the pattern pieces over. I don’t trust that even with the fabric folded and pattern pinned together I would get perfectly aligned stripes. However one good thing with striped fabric is that it is easy to find the straight grain! As it was an envelope paper pattern there were instructions and good diagrams to follow although I do change the order of making up as I like to get the zip in early and sew the side seams afterwards in case of adjustments.

The pattern has side hip pockets and I strengthened the openings of these using strips of bias interfacing to prevent them stretching out of shape when worn. There is also a fake welt pocket on the right back piece just made of a strip of fabric sewn on but I omitted this as I felt that as I could not press the fabric flat it would stick out somewhat. In fact if I were to add a fake welt pocket to this type of fabric I would make a proper welt pocket opening and use a facing on the inside rather than the pocket bag. I think welt pockets would look good especially with the pinstripes which could be used horizontally to add some visual interest but really I wasn’t in the mood for sewing welt pockets so didn’t go there this time.

After sewing the inside leg seams and zip opening I always baste the rest of the trousers together – the side seams and attach the waistband – to do a fitting. I usually cut a size 38 in Burda trousers including a little extra on the side seams for fitting purposes but during lockdown and with the lack of activity I felt my clothes were a tad tighter so I opted for a size 40. I need not have bothered as when I tried the trousers on for a fitting I have to say I looked like a clown. To be fair the trousers did fit okay on the waist but from the hip yoke pockets downwards there was so much bagginess. I ended up having to remove at least two inches off of each side seam and also skimmed the inside leg seam tapering from the hip to the hem as I did not want the hem any narrower.

Part of me wondered if some of the problem was down to my choice of fabric and had I been able to iron the centre front creases into the trousers then they would have hung differently. The styling of the trousers is very mannish and so I guess they are meant to be slightly baggy. The pink trousers on the pattern envelope do look loose fitting but the pinstipe version have a narrower appearance so I suppose that is down to how they have been photographed. There are further masculine touches as the zip is sewn onto the left front piece and there is a low crotch. Having made my adjustments I was actually quite pleased with the results. Having worn the trousers several times now they fit comfortably at the waist and the fabric is warm and cosy. It is like wearing a pair of joggers but feel and look a bit smarter. However since I have completed the trousers the weather has warmed up considerably by several degrees and I am wondering how much wear I will now get out of them in the immediate future. I am thinking maybe I should start sewing my Summer wardrobe in Winter and vice versa.

So does knit fabric work for tailored trousers? I guess the jury is still out on that and I will have to wear them more times before I can answer that question. There is the danger that the fabric may pill and that the knees will bag as is so often the case on jersey sportswear. However the fabric is medium weight and I think it will retain its integrity. Being elastic the fabric was easy to manipulate but unpicking stitches was quite difficult as they became embedded in the fabric. In the areas I did unpick I noticed that the white weave on the wrong side of the fabric also began to show through and so this jersey is not as forgiving for making alterations as woven fabric is.

Would I use this pattern again? Although it was time consuming making the adjustments to the trousers to get the correct fit on the legs and as previously mentioned part of this may have been down to my choice of fabric, I am happy with the end result. So I may take a look at the paper pattern and see if it is worthwhile making some alterations to it for future use.

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#Makenine2020 Résumé

As usual I started 2020 with grand sewing plans which I outlined in #makenine2020 post early in the year. I thought nine garments was achievable and I really wanted to create a me made wardrobe as I have done so much sewing for other people over the last few years.

I got off to a flying start by my standards but of course fate intervened in the shape of the pandemic. My sewing skills were put to use creating reusable fabric face masks for family and friends but expanded to include making some for local independent businesses and also retailing them through those outlets. Further expansion included the establishment of an online shop, so the production of face masks left little time for dressmaking and to be honest I was sometimes sick of the sight of my sewing machine.

However returning to my #makenine plans after reading the Steely Seamstress and Sea of Teal’s reviews of their sewing year I thought it would be good to do a round up of the progress I made in 2020.

Black trousers: I didn’t blog about these as I felt they were not an interesting enough garment but they have been the success story of the year. I did draft Burdastyle 01/2012 style 122 but felt the rise looked low and I don’t do low rises these days. I remembered Burda 6985 paper pattern in my collection which had a similar simple trouser style but a much higher rise.

I cut out a size 38 and made them up in a stretch gabardine. These made up beautifully, fit well (no alterations necessary – how rare is that?) and the fabric is so comfortable and washes well. With all the wear I’ve had out of them they are beginning to bobble slightly and so 2021 may see a new pair being made. I can’t fault Burda trouser patterns. They work for me. I guess it’s like when you find a RTW brand that suits.

Skirt: I was originally toying with a utility type style but when Sea of Teal posted her prints theme for June a length of leopard print double gauze I had sprang to mind and I used a Patrones pattern to make a simple button through skirt. It was my first time using a Patrones pattern and the only thing I noticed was that the waist to hip measurement is much smaller than Burda and some of the other sewing magazines so although I chose size by hip measurement I needed to remember to cut the waistline slightly larger. The skirt got a lot of wear during summer in the warm weather. Double gauze is a fabric new to me. I found it easy to work with and very comfortable and lightweight to wear although it’s double layer construction does make it look deceptively thicker.

Dress: This was made up using the Vogue pattern and spotted mustard double gauze fabric I outlined in my plans. As I said in the blog on this project I wanted to love this more than I did. I made a 12 going by measurements on the envelope but I really should have done a 10. I’ve worn it and it is okay but I just know it feels a tad large.

Seventies blouse: I love this style with its bishop sleeves and zip neckline. I also love the retro feel of the brown fabric but I really haven’t had the chance to wear it anywhere this year being a bit fancy for wearing round the house. Still it is there waiting for the right opportunity and I did enjoy using the vintage seventies’ Style pattern with its comprehensive instructions. Those were the days!

Knitted beret: I chose some gorgeous mustard fleck chunky wool to create the cabled beret style on Sirdar pattern. I do enjoy knitting cables and this made up quickly. You don’t need double pointed needles and it is knitted in rows starting at the rib edge with decreasing towards the crown. Of course it is getting some use now we are in winter.

Grey knit sweater: One of my goals this year was to use my overlock sewing machine more to sew stretch fabric garments. This jumper project was an opportunity to do just that having just managed to squeeze it in as my last me made of 2020. I used Simplicity and the sweater made up beautifully. I really like the use of the double bands to finish the sleeves and hems as the twin needle method on a standard sewing machine can be temperamental plus it meant that I didn’t have to get two machines set up. I’ve worn this straightaway. It is so warm and comfortable made in a lovely soft knit fabric. Perfect for this time of year.

The ones that got away: Jacket blazer, drawstring trousers and the wildcard. Sewing something like a jacket demands time and commitment both of which I was short of in 2020. The wildcard was going to be an outfit for an event but of course these were all cancelled because of the pandemic. However these projects will be carried over into this year as I have the patterns and fabrics ready and waiting to go.

In the absence of a wild card I did create some other garments mostly quick projects I managed to sneak in between all the mask making which could be contenders for wild card 2020.

The Fibremood Norma: This was my first experience of using a Fibremood pattern. Their designs seem to be aimed towards indie pattern users and in the main that aesthetic doesn’t really suit me. I actually bought Fibremood 9 for the trousers but thought the blouse could be a good lightweight alternative to T-shirts. By the time I made it the good weather had gone but I hope to get some wear out of it this year paired with some cropped trousers.

Jalie T-shirt: For several years now I have been contemplating using my overlocker to make simple T-shirts. However as they could be bought fairly cheaply I never got motivated. Now I can’t find the fit I like in RTW and Jalie pattern 2805 fitted the bill. I only made a trial T-shirt using some stripey jersey from the stash but I was very impressed with this pattern plus the versatility it offers. While only a test piece I ended up wearing it a lot.

My Image Jumpsuit: Another experimental project using a stretch jersey. I’ve used a few My Image patterns now and find the fit similar to Burda. These are comfortable but I’m still not sure I’m sold on jumpsuits as you practically have to undress when you go to the ladies room.

Vintage seventies knitted sweater: I don’t do much knitting but occasionally I get the urge to pick up some needles. The good thing about knitting is you can just do a few rows now and again or while watching the tv. I’d been browsing vintage knitting patterns on the internet and this Sirdar seventies style caught my eye. I actually really enjoyed making this with its vintage styling of a long skinny rib and chose seventies beige to go with the brown cords.

So all in all a satisfactory year of me mades. Yes I’d liked to have sewn a few more things but as I said in my original #makenine2020 post if the end result was five or six items I would regard that as a success.

A cosy sweater

So as we approach the end of 2020 I have just managed to squeeze in one last make which was outlined in my MakeNine plans earlier this year and as luck would have it I have also been able to link it to Sea of Teal’s Sew Your Wardrobe basics theme of ‘cosy‘ for the month of December.

As I outlined in that post way back in April I was eager to replica a couple of Uniqlo sweaters I have had for a couple of years. The Uniqlo sweaters are a simple boxy shape with a funnel neck and dropped sleeves that give a slightly batwing effect. I have one in a light marl grey (shown below) and another in plain black. They are made in a lightweight knit but are so comfortable and versatile making them really useful wardrobe basics.

I’d outlined a couple of prospective patterns – style 118 in Burdastyle 12/2019 and Simplicity 8529.

Later on in the year Jalie also released the Romy pattern which I also liked but these are hard to come by in the UK. There is the option to download PDF but I didn’t feel like the hassle of sticking all the pattern pieces together. However I used a Jalie pattern for the first time this year to make a basic T shirt and was very impressed with it so I was tempted by the Jalie pattern and it could be a future purchase.

Going back to my original choices as much as I liked the Burda sweater I felt that style was a bit too fitted for the look I wanted to replicate and so I settled on the Simplicity pattern. As luck would have it Simplicity had a sale in the autumn and so I was able to purchase S8529 from my local fabric store at a reduced price. Since I have bought the pattern I see there are lots of comparisons of it with the very popular Sew House Seven Toaster sweater and I can see the similarities.

If you have read the post on my MakeNine plans you will know that I refer to some sparkly mustard knit fabric I already had but somehow I ended up buying some dark grey marl knit this year to add to the stash as you do! I felt this would be much more practical than the sparkly variety. I guess we haven’t felt that sparkly this year and perhaps I will feel more like using it next Christmas.

Cutting out the sweater style B was very straight forward as there are only five pattern pieces – back, front, sleeve, sleeve band and hem. The pattern comes in sizes XS to XL. I opted for size small after measuring the pattern pieces against my RTW sweater. The knit behaved very well. There was no curling or fraying and was lovely to work with. I have said many times this year that one of my aims has been to work more with stretch fabrics and utilise my overlock sewing machine more. This project was a further opportunity to put this into practice.

The sweater basically made up like a glorified T shirt. The only different sewing technique was the funnel neck with is achieved quite cleverly by folding the back neck facing over the front facing and sewing the shoulder seam over the facings. You then turn the back neck facing over and have a beautifully neat sewn neckline already attached and held down by the stitching. Otherwise it is fairly simple setting in the sleeves on the flat and then sewing the sleeve and side seams in one continuous action. The sleeves and hem are finished with bands folded double. The whole sewing process was quickly done on the overlocker and there was no need to use a standard sewing machine for any of the procedures. You could easily cut this sweater out, whizz it up and wear it all in one afternoon. The only alteration I made to the pattern was to adjust the sleeve length by about half an inch.

So that is my final make of 2020 and I’m actually very pleased with it. I think the fact that I wore it straight away is the sign of a satisfactory make and I can confirm it is very cosy as I felt cold when I removed it. I can certainly see me making more of these jumpers including the crew neck version on the pattern. I think it is great that using an overlock sewing machine and stretch fabrics will open up possibilities for making my own t- shirts, jumpers and cardigans as these are wardrobe basics that I wear so much of the time.

Sew Your Wardrobe Basics: Workwear – A Tale of a Jumpsuit

My jumpsuit 3

I was intrigued by Sea of Teal’s sew your basics theme of workwear for the month of August as it’s been a year of change regarding work habits.  As a result of the pandemic many people have been working from home and with that there has been a shift of emphasis regarding the term ‘workwear’ and how it is defined.

During the pandemic with so many people working from home there has been no need to dress smartly for the office and so people have been able to put their leisure wear on and sit in the comfort of their home office, kitchen, dining room or garden to work.  However what has been interesting is that many people who have engaged in zoom meetings have still felt the need to don traditional smart workwear on their visible top half probably over an unseen pair of joggers!  It seems that many people will now be working from home on a permanent or part-time basis for the foreseeable future and so the trend for workwear suitable for home working looks set to continue.

I left my traditional office job a few years’ ago and since then you could say I have been sort of ‘working from home’ but this has involved sitting at a sewing machine making items to sell at trading events, making costumes for clients and now producing large quantities of fabric masks.  My standard workwear is therefore already comfortable and usually comprises joggers and T shirt but I have been known on occasion to wear a dress while sewing.  The reason I mainly avoid wearing my best clothes is that scissors are fairly dangerous and I have managed to make holes in several items I have been wearing!

Over the last few months the weather has been a bit strange in the UK and despite often raining it has also been very humid.  I began to think I wanted something loose and comfortable to sit in whilst working at my sewing machine.  I’d seen my daughter throwing on a jersey jumpsuit and it seemed so easy and relaxed.  To be honest as much as I like how they look I wasn’t fancying a jumpsuit for myself mainly because of the palaver of going to the girls’ room especially if a back zip was involved!  But stretchy seemed the way to go.

Now you would think with all the jumpsuit patterns out there I would find the exact style I had in mind but no!  All zips, buttons, long sleeves, collars, narrow legs.  I was looking for a simple pull on jumpsuit with extended shoulders, a small v neck and wideish 3/4 legs.  I came across a few contenders.  Butterick See and Sew B6312 was one but this appeared to be out of stock everywhere (discontinued?).  The Zadie by Paper Theory Patterns was another which I do really like but at £14 a pattern perhaps for another day.  Then I stumbled on Butterick Fast and Easy B6224 which almost fitted the bill but I would need to widen and crop the leg.  However the only sizing I could find was 18W to 32W.  I scratched my head.  Did the W mean waist??  As I was impatient I decided it did and went ahead and ordered the 26W-32W size.  Obviously when the pattern arrived I realised I’d made a bit of a faux pas as that pattern must only be available in plus sizes.  My only excuse for this is that these days I very rarely use envelope patterns preferring my back catalogue of various sewing magazines and I’m a bit out of touch with the new sizing but it looks like the W refers to the word Women on the pattern envelope.

Back to the drawing board I decided I would probably have to frankenpattern and find a suitable style bodice and attach to an appropriate trouser pattern. I trawled my Burdastyle back catalogue and came up with a few possibilities but then a light bulb moment.  I remembered I had seen a jumpsuit in my copy of My Image Issue 20.  I dug out the magazine and was so pleased to find it was designed for stretch fabrics.  The dilemma was did I want the lapels or not.  As much as I liked them I wasn’t sure how flat they would lay in a stretch fabric and so I redrafted the wrap neck on the front bodice to be made as a simple collarless wrap thus creating the V neck I had originally intended.

My Image Jumpsuit

The tracing of patterns from My Image is different to Burdastyle who, although using the same colour, employ a different patterned line for each size so it is fairly easy to identify the size you need.  With My Image each line is the same solid colour and labelled with the size so you have to be really careful as you trace off the pattern pieces that you don’t digress to another size.  However the pattern sheets are manageable and large pieces like trouser legs are done as two parts.  I traced off my usual Burda size 38 although the My Image measurements for this size are slightly larger.

I already had a length of black jersey from the local market and perhaps I was being optimistic but the amount I bought was 1.5 metres.  The pattern is only four pieces comprising a back bodice, wrap front bodice, front trouser leg, back trouser leg plus a tie belt. However when laid the pattern out on the fabric it became apparent that it was going to be a squeeze to fit the pieces on if at all possible especially as the wrap bodice pieces needed more room and that’s when I regretted not buying 2 metres.  I left it alone but decided to revisit it the following day.  I got more fabric by uncurling and pinning all the edges of the jersey.  I wanted crop legs on the jumpsuit so measured and folded up the hem edge of the trousers.  I had managed to get some sort of layout but there was no room for 5/8th inch seams.  As I was overlocking the jumpsuit I decided I could just squeeze 1/4 inch seams out and went ahead and cut the fabric.  In fact this made the decision to add or not add the collar irrelevant as there would not have been enough fabric anyway.

It was at this stage that I decided the garment might end up being a ‘wearable toile’ as I knew the narrow seams would allow little room for fitting although I was hoping that the stretch fabric would be more forgiving than a woven.  Now although I consider myself an advanced dressmaker I am almost a novice when working with an overlocker and stretch fabrics.  I bought a second hand serger a few years’ ago mainly with the intention of giving a professional finish to outfits I was making for various clients.  However working more with knit and stretch fabrics was always an aim.  My previous efforts on a standard machine had been okay often sewing the seams with a small zig-zag stitch but now I felt I had the right machinery for the job. I still find all that rolling up of edges on stretch fabrics a bit frustrating but overall I was proud of how I threw myself into overlocking without pinning or with minimal pinning.  The only places where I took more care were the hems on the wrap, sleeve and trousers.  I tacked them up and took my time sewing them as I find the twin needle occasionally wants to make a run off the edge of the fabric if I lose concentration.

As I wasn’t making the lapels on the jumpsuit I had to decide how to finish off the edges of the wrap bodice.  I thought about binding them with either bought or home made bias binding although the latter became an impossibility because of the lack of fabric.  I remembered Sea of Teal had made a beautiful blue wrap ponte dress and so referring to her description of finishing the edges I did a simple turn back narrow hem overlocking the edge first and then twin needle stitching.  The tie belt has been pieced together with the remaining bits of fabric I had left and at 2 cm wide is half the intended size on the pattern.

mustard cropped

Despite my fears regarding the outcome of this project due to all the pitfalls and adaptions I had to make I am actually quite pleased with the end result.  The jumpsuit made up very quickly as there are no darts of shaped seams to contend with.  The only alteration I made was to the sleeve width as the original seemed to gape on me and so I narrowed them by quickly serging the seam a few inches higher.

As a result of this project I definitely feel more confident working with stretch fabrics and I will certainly be using this pattern again.  I think it would look great made up in a woven like linen with the addition, if needed, of a zip fastening in the side seam.  The only thing missing – side pockets.  I might have to add them to any future makes.  I now have an easy to wear jumpsuit that will be comfortable to sit in whilst working at my sewing machine but in reality it can be much more than that.  I think jumpsuits have a part to play as conventional workwear.  Worn with a smart jacket, heels and nice jewellery this would look more than appropriate for office wear.









Sew Your Basics: Prints

front view

This was a quick last minute make to fit in with Sea of Teal’s sew your basics theme of prints for the month of June.  Originally I had wanted to make something grander but I have been so busy this month making face coverings for family, friends and local businesses that I suddenly realised I was running out of time.

I bought the leopard print fabric at a craft fair last July with a button up skirt in mind.  Leopard prints seemed to be all the rage last summer and although perhaps not as much this year they are a perennial favourite. At the time I was unsure what the fabric type was but from my last project I now know that it is a double gauze with its typical crinkle look appearance and two layer construction.  It is actually a good weight for a skirt as although lightweight it is quite opaque and so an underskirt is not entirely necessary.

The pattern I have used is from Patrones magazine 408 (April 2020).

patrones skirt

There are only three main pieces to the skirt – front, back, waistband – and so is very quick to sew up with 4 darts, side seams and front band self facings.  Then attach the waistband, hem, buttonholes and buttons.  The instructions are in Spanish and you could do a translation but for an easy skirt like this it is not really necessary. The pattern does have patch pockets on the front and I  do like this feature a lot. I actually did cut out and make up the pockets but once basted on the skirt they were just ‘camouflaged’ plus I did wonder if it would give people headaches seeing a clashing piece of leopard print on top of another so in the end I left them off. However if I were to make this skirt in a plain fabric I would definitely include them.

The pattern requirements suggest five 28 mm buttons and although I really love the drama of the large fastenings I was worried the spacing between the buttons might cause gaping especially when sitting  down.  Instead I have used six 20 cm buttons.  I felt black or wooden buttons would work well but in the end decided to use dark tan ones as I wanted to add more pop to the skirt.

I am new to Patrones patterns but I absolutely adore their designs.  I thought being European the sizes would correspond to Burdastyle but beware as when I double checked they are different.  I usually sew a Burda size 38 (which is roughly a UK size 12) but in Patrones the same sizing is a 40.  Also the Patrones sizing is more ‘hourglass’.  So when bust and hip measurement correspond to Burda the waist sizing is smaller meaning if you choose Patrones by hip size you may need to make the waist larger.

Overall I feel this will be a good basic skirt because of its neutral colour scheme.  It will look good in summer worn either with a black t-shirt and sandals or a cream t-shirt and plimsolls but it could also work into autumn/winter with a black polo neck jumper or loose fitting beige jumper with either ankle or knee high boots.  I will say the one thing I really enjoyed about this project was the relief of sewing long lines again after all the small seams on those pesky masks!