Burdastyle bias-cut skirt (08/2015 #111)

I love a magazine – pretty much any magazine really, I’ve been known to peruse a golf or car magazine if there’s nothing else at the doctor’s surgery.  My favourite magazines, though, are sewing magazines, along with The Knitter, and my first sewing magazine love was Burda. I have a healthy collection going back several years on my shelves, and I have a lovely spreadsheet indexing all the patterns I’ve earmarked as ones to make.  I like the fact that there’s usually something a bit different or quirky, and I find an hour or so with a cup of tea and the latest issue really inspiring – even if it’s just fabric combinations or styling ideas, there’s always something that fires me up.  I even enjoy tracing off from a jumble of lines, and interpreting the minimalistic instructions.

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This skirt was from the August 2015 issue and is described as an ‘Asymmetric midi skirt‘.  It’s cut on the bias which gives it a lovely drape and swing, I’ve always loved bias-cut garments.  It also has an interesting detail at the waistline – the front of the skirt is finished with a facing, giving a nice clean look, whilst the back has a waistband which I always prefer with a zip.  What with the minimalist instructions it took me a little while to work out why the front seemed to be longer than the back…..but I got there in the end!

The fabric is a gorgeous, springy, wool crepe which I bought on honeymoon in Italy 18 months ago.  This teal shade is one of my favourite colours, and at €20 for 2 metres from a market stall it was really good value as well.  I did pre-wash the fabric, using the wool setting on my machine, and there was a little bit of shrinkage which affected how long I was able to make the skirt.  I took some length out anyway as Burda patterns always run really long on me – the ‘midi’ length would have been more of a maxi for me – by drawing a line across the skirt at 45° to the grainline.  The bias cut is pretty fabric-hungry, so I had to take out a little bit more length than I’d planned, but I think much longer on me and this would start to look a bit frumpy.

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Here’s the asymmetry – a high/low look from front to back.  It’s something a bit different for me, which is what attracted me to the pattern.  You can see the lovely drape here as well.  I cut the size 42 as per my measurements, and as usual it’s turned out slightly too big.  I think it’s that squishy-belly-syndrome again, and I would always rather have something too big than too small.  With the dipped hemline, I couldn’t take anything in at the side seams, but I did take in a couple of cm at the centre front seam.  It’s still a little roomy to be honest, but at least it means I’ve got a nice smart-ish skirt that I can eat a massive dinner in….always useful….!  I quite like it with the belt as well which helps.  This belt was another Italian honeymoon purchase – it’s a gloriously soft, buttery leather which smells fabulous.

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The zip insertion isn’t my finest work, but it’s liveable with.  I did interface the zip edges which helped prevent too much stretching out.  I’ve only noticed the slight puffiness in these photos, it wasn’t obvious in real life so it can’t be too bad.  Excuse the wrinkles at the bottom which come from me having worn this all morning sitting at my desk – this was another lunchtime photo shoot where my trusty photographer (thanks Nic!) and I snuck into the empty office suite next to ours.

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Here’s a closer view of the front, including some lovely wearing-wrinkles – you can just about see where the facing ends, this is slightly more pronounced from being pressed by the belt than if I wear it without.  The facing is handstitched down on the inside, and the hem is handstitched too.  It’s a pleasure handstitching this sort of fabric, it’s very forgiving.

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And here you can see the waistband at the back, along with more close-up views of sitting-wrinkles.  I really like this waist treatment, it’s not something I’ve come across before and adds a certain je ne sais quois I think.  I like the dipped hemline as well – although with the skirt being slightly too big, it’s quite disconcerting walking in it and feeling the hem swish around lower than I’m expecting, I keep thinking it’s falling down…..

I’d like to make this pattern again – one of the examples in the magazine is made up in a striped fabric, which creates a lovely V-effect at the seams thanks to the bias cut.  I’ve got some pretty blue striped linen which would make a lovely summer skirt.  There are several dozen more Burdastyle patterns that are on my list as well though – if only I could stay at home all day and sew, I might get through them all then!  Have you tried any patterns from the magazine?

Not-entirely-successful Boyfriend Jeans

I almost decided not to share this particular project.  Whilst not an absolute disaster, this pair of jeans is decidedly less than perfect….but I realised that everyone likes to read about other people’s misfortunes and thought I would brighten your day with mine!

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There are some definite fit issues, some user error and a slightly iffy fabric choice, but despite all that they are wearable.  The pattern is the Hot Patterns Boyfriend Jeans.  I love men’s jeans, my favourite pair of jeans for most of my 20s were a pair of men’s Levi’s – can’t remember the number – which eventually fell apart.  So these really appealed to me – they have a straight side seam and suggest using a selvedge denim to give that menswear look.

Let’s start with the fabric choice, shall we?  This is a pretty lightweight, stretch denim with an interesting, slubby texture.  It came from Les Coupons de Saint-Pierre, as a three metre ‘coupon’ or pre-cut length.  Being short, I knew I would be able to get two pairs of jeans out of this stuff, especially as it’s 150cm wide – I’m saving the remainder for another pair of high-waisted skinny Gingers.  It’s a really nice fabric and seems to have pretty good recovery, and should be perfect for that pattern.  I thought it would be ok to use for a wearable muslin of sorts for this pattern – I do have some rather lovely, dark, dark indigo selvedge denim for a ‘good’ pair of these.  This is slightly too lightweight, though, and I think a heavier denim would hang better and reduce the weird twisting effect slightly.

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The side view isn’t too bad – although you can see that they are slightly too short, which is where user error comes in.  The pattern gives about 3 million different measurements for each size, one of which is the height it’s drafted for – based on this I shortened the leg pattern pieces by 5 cm before cutting out, but I think I should have left them as they were.  I drew a line perpendicular to the grainline / side seam, but given that these have an almost dead straight leg I would have been better just taking out any extra length at the hem once they were put together, there’s no shaping to speak of that needed to be preserved.  Not sure how my legs have suddenly grown though, I am definitely a good 5cm shorter than the height given…….!  Other than shortening them I made up a straight size 14 (I think) and basted them together to test the fit, but only after I’d sewn the centre back seam and installed the fly front – another bit of user error, I just completely forgot to do it earlier.

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There were two main fit issues, one of which I fixed, if slightly over-zealously, and the other which is better than it was but definitely not quite right.  As with the Ginger jeans I found I needed to take a chunk out of the waist.  Unfortunately with the centre back seam already sewn and topstitched I had to take in a wedge at the top of each side seam – I’m way too lazy to unpick all that topstitching.  I’m not sure but I think this probably also has something to do with the twisting.  I also took in a little bit too much, and the waist is now quite snug.  Next time I’ll do what I’ve done with my Gingers and take a wedge out of the centre back instead.

The other fit issue is the crotch, as you can see.  When I basted for fit there was an enormous amount of extra fabric in the crotch area, right through from front to back.  Following some……careful…..pinning of the relevant parts I took in the centre front and back seams and the in-seam which has helped, without entirely solving the problem.

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The back view is better, although I’m thinking the pockets might be a little bit too big for me.  Most of the creasing here is down to the fact that we took these pictures in a sneaky 5 minute break at work to catch the light (thanks Nic!) and I’d been wearing them all day at my desk.  They are dead comfy which is nice, and as usual my colleagues were completely oblivious to all the not-so-great-bits that I can see….it does help that my top is long enough to cover most of the crotch issues – as are most of my tops actually.

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Here’s the back view with my top tucked in – you can see in this picture that the waist is what they call here in Scotland ‘neat’, ie not exactly way too tight but definitely on the snug side.  I’d never heard that use for the word before I moved to Edinburgh, so I’m assuming it’s a Scottish thing anyway.  There are all sorts of words like that which besumed me slightly in my first few months living here.  My favourite is using ‘juice’ for pretty much any soft drink……it’s very disconcerting to go to a party and be offered juice to drink, expecting orange or apple juice, maybe even something fancier like a pineapple or cranberry, only to discover that the options are actually Irn Bru or Coke!  There are some distinguishing adjectives that get used – we drink a lot of diluting juice (squash), and even ‘cooncil juice’ (water…!).  Oh, and if you want actual orange juice in a bar you ask for ‘fresh orange’.  Even if it’s from a Schweppes bottle and is quite some processing distance away from an actual fresh orange.  As I say, endlessly bemusing to an English girl in Edinburgh.

Back to the jeans…..I realised just as we were about to start with the photos that I was accidentally incredibly co-ordinated……the fabric I used for the pockets, waistband and fly shield was the scraps from the top I’m wearing.  It shows how awake I was when I got dressed that I hadn’t realised…..!

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The innards – unlike the Ginger jeans, this pattern ends up with the right side of your pocket fabric being inside the pocket, rather than being visible on the inside of the jeans.  It also has you construct the fly shield from interfaced lining fabric – I actually really like this touch, I think it’s fun to have a secret flash of colour behind the fly front.  Here’s what it looks like from the outside:

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Every time I do the zip up it makes me smile….definitely something I’ll repeat in my next pair.  Sewing the fly front from the instructions provided proved a bit baffling.  They have you baste the zip to the fly shield to start, and I could not work out which way round it was supposed to go – my first attempt resulted in the fly shield ending up on the outside, and after unpicking and basting about three more attempts I gave up and turned to the Ginger jeans fly instructions.

I decided to go for the classic gold topstitching, and I like how it’s turned out.  This pattern also has you topstitch the full length of the side seams, with no topstitching on the inside leg seams – I think I might actually prefer this way round.  I was particularly pleased with the pocket topstitching, again I tried to take my time a bit more than usual.

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This picture also shows the texture of the weave in this fabric – I really like the slubby lines of paler thread.  I also topstitched around the waistband, the instructions don’t mention it but I felt it needed the structure this provides in this lighter weight fabric.

I have been wearing these, despite their imperfections, although I do find myself reaching for my grey skinnies first in the mornings.  I’m not quite sure though what my next steps are in terms of cutting into my lovely selvedge denim.  I think I might have to dig out my copy of Pants for Real People and see if I can work out what’s causing the crotch issues.  I’ll probably try using a heavy weight striped linen which has been marinating in the stash for ages to make another muslin – it’s a more similar weight to the good denim and will hopefully be more helpful in terms of fit.  I think I might be about to join Heather of The Pug & Needle in her quest for the perfect jeans…..