Tops, tops and more tops! A mixed entry for #burdachallenge2018

Ever since I started my sabbatical in August my dressing has become incredibly basic. I think I’ve worn a dress maybe a couple of times, and that’s though I love wearing dresses. But when I’m pottering around at home it just seems more appropriate to wear trousers/jeans/tracksuit bottoms (I shudder to admit it!) and a top.
So in a drive to make at least my top half look presentable I’ve been making tops that are easy to wear and still a little more interesting than a basic T-Shirt.

My favourite is this little number from Burdastyle 11/2017. It’s a normal relatively fitted T-Shirt pattern on back and sleeves, the front as a little cowl and the knot detail.

The knot detail is actually simple to make, although when reading through the instructions I did the usual Burda-head scratch. There really should be a dedicated emoji for that!

Basically, you finish the know side (on the left in this picture) like you would a cowl, enclosing the seam of the shirt in both sides of the cowl. The bow part is just an appendix to that – it really does make sense when you have it in front of you, I promise!

I had lots more of the same fabric, so I made this Burda off-the-shoulder-type top (from sometime earlier in 2017) This one is a lot looser – I traced the smallest Burda size, which might have been 36 rather than my usual 40 and you can see it’s still plenty roomy. I feel Burda overdoes it a little bit when it comes to their oversized patterns, so I usually go down at least one size, especially when cowls are involved. And irl this tops boils down to a cowl top, because of course the carefully arranged collar slips up and into a cowl as soon as you move your arms – which I do do sometimes, which may come as a surprise to Burda designers! I’m not a shy girl, you know, but flashing everybody with not just my bra but also my belly button when wearing a Burda cowl is not exactly my idea of a good time!

I’ve had those two tops in my wardrobe for a couple of months and they got worn loads – in fact I’m wearing the first one as we speak. Simple, but effective!

I also make this basic sweatshirt Schräge Herta, by German company Echt Knorke. The fun part about it are the design lines of the front – which completely disappear into this wild pattern. Silly me – when I make the pattern next I’ll post some more useful pictures! But if you have a look at the link there are some more informative pictures. All instructions for this pattern are in German, but basically it’s a raglan sweat, so if you’ve a little bit of experience you should be able to work it out even without any sewing German.

My other recent tops are this one

and this most recent one

I have a couple more fabrics waiting, so hopefully my wardrobe will look exciting enough (only top half considered 😉 )!


#Burdachallenge 2018: Tracing patterns – a piece of cake!

This is a repost of an article I wrote a few years ago.


A few days ago, Peter over at MPB asked a question that hugely exercised me: Did we use only individual envelope patterns or did we brave the tracing and cutting conundrum of sewing magazines?

I came down firmly on the side of sewing magazines – well, to be honest I have only ever used Burda Magazine, so I can’t say much about other magazines. One of the main criticisms about sewing pattern magazines is that it’s confusing, boring, difficult and generally unbearable to trace the patterns. Now, I would not for one moment suggest that tracing a pattern is something I LIKE doing I still would like to try and convince you that is something that is perfectly possible and does not take forever. Just a little disclaimer: This is neither a tutorial nor a How-to (my sewing skills are such that I use tutorials don’t make them…), just my version of how I complete this task.

So here is my little slide show of How I Trace A Pattern:

IMG_3683This is where I start tracing skirt #126 out of Burda 9/2007, a back issue that I have wanted for ages and now finally managed to buy off a fellow member of the German Burdastyle website. I use Burda tracing paper – I am not too sure what makes it different form the paper you use to wrap your glasses in when moving house… I use a normal pen to trace the lines.

IMG_3684To prove that tracing does not have to take ages I am showing the times here (yes, I should have changed the orientation of the pictures before I uploaded them – lesson learned for next time.)

Anyway: I started at 10:12.

IMG_3685Find the right pattern sheet – sheet A. This is one of the older Burda magazines where the pattern sheet isn’t quite as full of lines as it is today.

IMG_3688Tracing paper does on top and you can already see the first lines that I have traced. I don’t have a magic method of following the lines. Normally I don’t highlight the lines on the pattern sheet as I find that I can see them quite well. I only have trouble if the lines are red, I find them really hard to follow, no matter how much I squint and bunch up my eyes.

IMG_368910:23: The first pattern piece is traced and cut.

IMG_3690I am being really organised about this: I circled all the numbers I need for this skirt and once they are traced they get ticked off. I don’t do this normally, but I am trying to do my efficient German impression for you here 😉

IMG_369110:32: All pieces are cut. So this has taken 20 minutes from start to finish – I don’t think that is too bad for a skirt with 6 pattern pieces. Of course I still need to cut out the pieces, but that has to be done with an envelope pattern as well, doesn’t it.


10:38: 26 minutes in: All pieces are now ready for use.

IMG_3693So while we are at it I thought I show you how I tackle the problem of seam allowances – or rather lack thereof on Burda patterns. I pin the pattern piece to the fabric.

IMG_3694Then without adding any lines or anything I add around 1/2 inch of seam allowance by using the ruler as a guide for straight lines.

IMG_3695For curves I just eyeball the seam allowance. Sometimes I use more than 1/2 in, especially on side seams  when I am not sure if I might need a little extra for comfort.

IMG_3696Then I transfer the stitching lines onto the left side of the fabric using the Burda copying paper. When sewing I will match the resulting yellow lines on both my skirt front and back piece. Because I match the sewing lines and not the edges of the seam allowances, it does not actually matter how wide the seam allowances are or whether they are the same on both pieces.

IMG_3697This is the reverse side of the same piece with the yellow lines. I think they are practically invisible on the photo – can you see anything at the tip of my scissors? There truly are yellow lines there, which are clearly visible in real life.

So that’s it, that’s how I deal with the mystery that is Burda sewing magazine. Tracing patterns isn’t all that bad, don’t you think?

If you are a Burda user, is that how you do it as well? And if you have never dared to use pattern magazines, has this post encouraged you to try?

Burdachallenge2018: I’m in!

If your moving in the same social media circles that I am you will have seen that Hila of saturdaynightstitch as started a Burda Challenge for 2018. Its purpose is to give you an incentive to make more use of your Burda patterns or, if you are a novice, get used to Burdastyle magazine.

Using Burda isn’t really a challenge for me: As you may know, Burda is a German magazine and it is what we Germans used to learn sewing with before the internet, and in its wake all the independent pattern companies, arrived.

Personally, I’m not a big user of indie patterns – I don’t much like PDF assembly and many indie patterns aren’t quite my taste – and of course they are expensive in comparison to magazine patterns.  But also, I have so many Burda patterns that it’s a rare occurence that I need to buy a pattern from any other company.

In addition we German sewists hardly ever use big 4 patterns, I guess because they are quite expensive and often hard to come by, but probably also because we are simply used to Burda. Imagine, when I made my first big 4 pattern (my wedding dress no less – I was living in England at the time, so I didn’t have access to Burda) I didn’t realise that one did not need to add seam allowances to the pattern. I didn’t even realise that such a thing as seam allowances that are included in the pattern even existed. Needless to say, the bodice of my wedding dress came out huuuge (it had princess seams, so  an extra 1/2 inch seam allowance times 8 across the bodice added up) – and I banished the mere thought of big 4 pattern from my life for about 15 years!

But back to Burda: What can my challenge be, given that I don’t find using Burda a challenge? Well, I thought I could try and help those of you who are new to Burda (or other pattern magazines) tackle the issues you might be finding difficult.

The first issue might be tracing the pattern pieces. I have a guide on how to do this published a few years ago, so if you’d like to have a look, please do:

I will also write a little more detail on

  • how to tackle the thorny issued of seam allowances

as soon as I get around to doing so.

What I’m not going to write about is

  • how to make sense of Burda instructions

because honestly, I think they are a bit of a rite of passage and you’ll work out most things with a little common sense and patience. Much of the recipe for success with Burda comes down to chosing the right pattern for your skill level. Start with simple patterns and if your chosen pattern has any difficult techniques (like welt pockets or  collar stands) there is plenty of help around the web.

So: If you have any particular issue with Burda patterns that you’d like help with, let me know in the comments and I’ll try and see if I can provide any useful input.

Here’s to a great new year of using Burdas!


It’ a Wrap: Knipmode Top

Everybody likes a wrap top, don’t they? I do too – but somehow I never seem to be able to make one that stands the test of time, so I keep trying.
A case in point is this Knipmode top. I was so inspired by my sewing pal Marianne’s birthday dress, that I wanted to try the top version – until Marianne informed me that the dress does in fact not have a top version. I had come across another Knipmode wrap pattern that I had confused with the one Marianne had used. An easy mistake to make, as no issue of Knipmode seems to be without a wrap or two…

As you can see, I’m learning remote controlling the camera via the mobile – this whole photography thing is stressful!

Anyways, I’m really pleased with the wrap portion of the top. The wrap holds its shape well, no gaping and no exposed underwear even on those small of bust. I helped myself a little bit there by adding a binding strip to the neckline. I believe the pattern simply has you turn over and topstich the neckline, but that’s a technique I don’t believe in.

The top has a wrap/knot detail at the waist that looks complicated, but in the end of the day I just followed the instructions and it was fine.

The top does have one problem though that makes it unwearable for me right now: because there is a little bit of tension at the knot and because the “peplum” part is fairly short and consequently not very heavy, the top pulls upwards and both front parts spread open, so much so that my belly button is exposed if I don’t adjust the top constantly. That might be fine to some, but for me this is SO ANNOYING that the top has gone straight to the refashion pile after the first wear. I might have  enough fabric to recut a longer peplum with a larger overlap, but for now I need to gather strength to consider unpicking all the layers of overlocking at the center front.

Having said that, the pattern would be great as a dress, because I suppose the heavier skirt would sort out the issued I was having with the top version. Maybe I’ll get back to the pattern for spring!

None of my posts is complete without one of my “great” modelling shots: there you are!

Burdastyle 1/2018 #116: Dramatic Sleeve Blouse

I’ll be the first to complain when Burda is churning out the same few bomber jacket or sack dress patterns issue after issue. But equally, I’ll say if I love what they have to offer, and at the moment I LOVE Burda! November 2017 was probably my most widely used issue ever (yes, I know, all still unblogged…), and when January 2018 arrived at the news agent’s I know I had to buy the issue.
The first thing I made was the dramatic sleeve blouse #116.

Look, I brought a friend to keep my company while trying to remote control the camera. If she’s good I’ll even sew her some clothes!

Let’s address the elefant in the room:

The  pattern placement on the back is just atrocious! I felt really angry at myself for not giving pattern placement any thought whatsoever and not checking before the blouse was half sewed up. But then I clearly was not angry enough to re-do the back, even though I still have fabric. I promised myself I was going to make the rest into an Ogden cami, so I let myself off for the back.

Other than that I absolutely love the blouse. It makes it possible for me to sew into the dramatic sleeve trend without the sleeves getting into the way of actually doing stuff. I did change the normal buttoned cuff to a elasticated cuff because I like my sleeves up, and of course I couldn’t ruin a dramatic sleeve by rolling it up.


The sleeves are the star of the pattern of course. They are incredibly full, which isn’t quite so apparent in the very light and drapey viscose I used. They are tamed with four pleats at the sleeve head and additional gathering  to top of the sleeves. They were a bugger to set in, I won’t lie, but if you look at the line drawing I almost find it surprising that they can be set in at all. The rest of the blouse comes together very easily. I made one change to the facings. Burda give you a very small facing just around the neckline and whatever other way of finishing the back slit (I didn’t read the instructions re that step, so I couldn’t say what method they suggest). Instead I enlarged the back facing to go down beneah the slit.

PSA: I am able to fit the blouse over my head easily enough without unbuttoning it, so if you wanted to go without the slit it would likely be fine.

The blouse if going to be my Christmas blouse – no Christmas dress for me, ever since starting my sabbatical my dressing habits have become so casual that making it out of tracksuit bottoms fells like an achievement. There are two dresses in the January edition that I want to make too and a couple of other things that I just ordered fabric for – all in all I’m delighted with the issue, so much so that I’m prepared to overlook the carnival costumes without even passing comment!

I guess this will be the last post before Christmas, so let me take the change to wish you all a very happy Christmas or a great time off work if you are not celebrating. May all your wishes come true! xxx

A Blast from the Past: BHL Flora/Elisalex Hack

Can you believe I just discovered pictures from this summer on my laptop – I’d completely forgotten about them!
But waste not, want not, I’m posting them now that the first snow is forcast for the weekend, because I want it to still be summer.

Can you believe I wore this dress once this summer? Our summers are just too short!

At least I can say that I hemmed it before wearing it out, not leaving it unhemmed with the overlocked edge for the world to see like in these pictures.

The dress is the BHL Flora skirt with the Elisalex bodice. There is nothing wrong with the Flora bodice other than the fact that I’d already used the Elisalex a couple of times before and had it fitted to me already. I lengthened the front bit of the skirt, therefore the mullet hem is much less pronounced than the pattern originally called for. I don’t know about you, but I tend to find mullet hems where the front shows half of the thigh a bit childish. Or maybe it’s just me getting old-fashioned in my old age, I’ll leave that decision to you.

I used some cotton shirting which is delicious to wear, but with its wide wrong side it wasn’t really the most inspired choice for a dress where the skirt shows the wrong side… Oh well, I’ve decided it’s a feature now, so all’s well.

Finally, a big thank you to all dear readers who commented so kindly on the state of the photography on this blog. I couldn’t leave you without a bonus picture of one of my posing special skills (along with gazing into the middle distance): twirling!

Have a nice day!


Burdastyle 10/2017 #119 and 9/2017 #121: Lemons in the Lady Garden

One of the problems with my lack of regular blogging isn’t a lack of sewing, but a lack of taking pictures I’m happy with (and my standards of happiness are clearly very much lower than other bloggers’ anyway).
But looking at things realistically, happiness isn’t really achievable in the world of my blog photos anyway, so I ‘ll just post this as it is rather than delaying even further.

These are two of my favourite recent pieces: The trousers are Burdastyle 9/2017  #121, which, following a suggestions from Ali , I’ve named the Lady Garden Trousers, because, of course, there is a lot going on in the lady garden area, as Ali helpfully suggested.

There is actually a lot I would normally not like about these trousers. They don’t have pockets for starters. I hate clothes without pockets as I always have stuff to carrry around with me. So I added a small front welt pocket to at least accomodate my phone. Secondly, they have a side zip, which again I wouldn’t usually chose and which I normally convert into a front zip opening.  Of course I could have changed all that, but I was short on fabric and didn’t want to experiment with a new pattern. And thirdly the fit isn’t great, they came out a bit large and large quantities of elastic were used in the waist line (I did use my usual size 42 in Burda, but I might have needed to size down).

But, but but – I just love them! The fabric just makes these trousers and it makes me feel happy every time I put them on, so they are a big win in my book.

Patternwise I’m in fact more excited about the top Burdastyle 19/2017 #119.

This is a pattern I thouroughly recommend! It’s as comfortable as any regular knit top, but is just elevated a little bit about the standard top. Admittedly you won’t wip this up in an hour, there’s a bit of precision sewing necessary around the waist area and for setting in the sleeves that personally I couldn’t have done on the overlocker. So I used all three machines: the regular machine for precision sewing, the overlocker for the rest and coverstitch for the neck and bottom seams.

I sized down one size to a 38, which I usually do in Burda knit tops and it turned out just right. I used a very hefty ponte and that was a good choice, I this the waist belt wouldn’t sit right in a flimsier fabric. Oh, and I managed to get this top out of 1 metre rather than the 1.3 metres specified. I had to shorten the arms by about 2cm, but that was all.

Regular readers of this blog will know that one of my modellig special skills is walking up and down, so I wouldn’t want to leave you without proof that I’m still at the top of my game!

See, told you so, exemplary stuff!