Tag Archives: sewcialists

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!



#sewdowndewsbury – The Aftermath

My god it was good! #sewdowndewsbury was just the most amazing meetup – I had such a good time! So much so in fact that I didn’t even stop to take pictures, but I’m sure you will have read other accounts (and if not, have a look at Ali’s picture gallery). From her post you will know that not only did she help me organise my stay and answer all my many questions, but she also organised a day walking in the moors with expert guide Brian! Isn’t that amazingly nice?! Thank you so much Ali! And thank you Brian for making sure we didn’t get lost and putting up with all our sewing talk!




This was my first time in Yorkshire (apart from the usual touristy whistle stop in York) and I’ve fallen in love with the people! Everyone was just so nice, happy to help or just have a little chat. And now that I’ve realised that it’s just so doable to travel to Yorkshire even for a few days (can you imagine that plane-metro-train-journey to my house on the way back took 2 hours 32 minutes? Absolutely incredible, ey?) I’m hoping for many future visits. Fabworks, I know where you are!

Of course I came back invigorated and inspired and with so many plans! I’ve already made plans for most of my fabric haul – I’m sure you are interested 😉

So here it goes:


The only item on my shopping list, a light wool suiting which will become pleat front trousers. I’m not alone in thinking they are a great idea, Shauni thinks so too (and she even has much the same images on her pinterest wall that I do, so we must be onto something).
Patternwise I’m either going for this from Burda 8/2016


Or this from Ottobre 5/2015


What do you think? Right now I’m leaning more towards the Burda pattern. Around the hips both are much the same, with slanted pockets and two pleats, but I think I prefer the slimmer legs of the Burda pattern.

This is going to be my Hila top:


Hila bought the same fabric for a dress, I only bought 1 metre, so the fabric has already decided it wants to be a cowl neck top. I have made many sleeveless ones, but I discovered a really nice short sleeve version on Lucie‘s blog, so I think this is what I’m going for.


This fabric told me it wants to be a short sleeve blouse. Does your fabric ever talk to you? Mine sure does and I’ve learnt to heed an order from fabric, so I have decided on this Burda pattern from 2010:


This version has a weird collar which I don’t care much for, I’ll swap out a normal collar from another version.


This cotton lace wants to be a sleeveless top of some kind. I wonder whether to make it a quite fitted sleeveless classic shirt with darts or something more drapey. So far, the fabric was not available for a statement, so I’ll have to prevaricate for a little while.



This one, however, is spoken for: This is going to be the Teresa blouse. You will have guessed it: Teresa bought this fabric too, so I’m delighted to be her fabric twin. It’s asked to become the blouse version of a dress in the latest edition of  Maison Victor. I seem to have mislaid the foto right now, but if you are interested I could to a review of this magazine.

So this is it: my #sewdowndewsbury report. It was so nice to have met so many likeminded people and to be made feel so welcome. The day has definitely put Dewsbury on my (until now rather shady) map of the North. Here’s to many returns!




#sewdowndewsbury: All my bags are packed…

Only 7 sleeps until the Dewsbury sewing meetup, organised by Ali of Thimberlina! Needless to say I’m already incredibly excited! So much so that I’m already packed and waiting to go, humming Peter Paul and Mary songs.

I’m flying handluggage only, but at the same time I want to do some fabric shopping – not two things that are commonly mentioned in the same sentence. So I thought I have to save on weight by reducing the weight of the carry-all itself. So I sewed a carry-all of the lightest yet toughest fabric my stash could muster.


Now don’t think I intend to rock up at the Ryan Air counter with a bag as full as this and try to get this into carry-on. The bag is just packed full of my entire bedding for the purposes of illustration. I just thought I might as well make it a bit bigger for those times when I fly carry-on on the way there but have one item of checked luggage on the bag back (which tends to mysteriously fill itself with fabric, at least that’s my past experience 😉 ).
It’s made from a waterproof rip stop nylon that was intended for a jacket until I realised that by virtue of being waterproof it would also be non-breathable. I’m sure boil in the bag jackets have their uses, they are just not for me…

While I was at it I also made a new ultra-light-weight toiletry bag.


It weighs in at all of 120 gramms – unfilled, of course.

I “designed” it in such a way that it will hold the plastic bag of liquids that you have to bare at security.


I can just rip the plastic bag out and have the guard inspect the brand of deodorant I’m using and then pack it back in the pouch so that my toiletries don’t get lost in the depths of my massive bag.

In case you are not that interested in the details of my luggage, here’s a look at my goodie bag:


It even has the date of the momentous occasion on it:


And finally a little look at a little present for one of the people I’ve wanted to meet for a long time. It’s navy on the outside and has a silver lining on the inside. I bet you know who it is for already 🙂


I can’t wait to meet all of you very soon! See you on Saturday!

xxx Chris

Burdastyle 10/2014 #113: The Copying a Statement-Vest

Dear Reader,
read this first!

Ok, you are back? Good! Now, what you must know before reading this post is that I have an almost embarrassing girl crush on all things Gray-All-Day. I just love every single garment that Helena makes, I love the way she wears them, I love the way she writes about them. So it was only a logical step to copying her garments:



I hasten to add that I had wanted to make something drapey from this wool twill for a while and had narrowed down my choice to this pattern (Burdastyle 10/2014 #113) and one other one already. But when I saw Helena’s version and when she confirmed that it would equally well in a woven than in a knit (as specified in the pattern) the decision was made.


When I wore the vest for the first time I felt really strange as I don’t normally go for floaty clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of them, but I don’t seem to be able to carry them off – or even keep them on. Anything that’s not firmly anchored to my body seems to fall off in the course of a day. You would be surprised at the number of times one of my students shows up at the staff room, bearing a crumpled piece of clothing, saying (cue eye roll): ” You forgot your cardigan – AGAIN”.


So I was unsure about the vest at first – but actually looking at the pictures I love the way it drapes and floats and sways. So I guess I will just have to learn to wear it!


Well, no, this isn’t it, Chris!!!


Did you notice the cross-over-feet-position? I gather this is what you do in fashion pictures, because it makes you lower legs look half their size. Well there, I’m trying to up my modelling game 🙂

(Sorry, I had to laugh out loud even as I was typing this!)


Sewing this was really easy: There are just two pattern pieces, the collar is cut onto the front. I used French seams everywhere apart from the seam that attaches the collar to the body, I didn’t manage the the 3D- thinking that would have been necessary to make this a French seam, so I covered the normal seam in bias tape. Unlike Helena’s vest the edges aren’t sandwiched between bias tape, instead I folded the bias tape over and stitched it down. Cutting the bias tape from very, very slipperly rayon lining  was the only thing that took a long time, but if you use ready-made bias this is a very simple project indeed.

And guess what I found, this time AFTER I had made the vest, because I’m not a totally creepy sewing stalker: Look at this project from Lilysageandco: Debbie only also made a cream wool drapey cardigan! Can you believe I can be mentioned in the same breath as Helena and Debbie??!! I realise all this is a bit like when three friends wear the same clothes and there is always one that distinctly looks less cool in them – but still I am very happy and totally content indeed to be the hanger-on in this one!

I think I just got fashion cudos by association (aka FCA, which is very much a thing just as TFAD is, as you will find out in this post 😉 )

What are your favourite sewing-related acronyms?


The “I’ve Been Hopped” – Blog Hop

Well now, this is the first time ever I’m participating in a blog hop (cue triumphant music), all thanks to the lovely Tia Dia of Mezzocouture who nominated be for it. I’m almost sure she and I were siblings in an earlier life, so much seem her blog posts to resonate with me! So basically, if you want to know how I feel you can either read her post, or continue here 🙂

Why do I write?

One of the biggest reason for starting this blog actually has nothing to do with sewing. In fact I partly started this blog because I wanted to have a bona fide reason for writing in English. I do write I lot for my teaching job, both in English and in German, but mostly not on topics of my personal choice. Also, the level of English I get to use for language learners often isn’t very high. So this blog is my way of keeping up with the old language skills.

I also love reading blogs from around the English speaking world. It’s just where my heart is and I still get a little thrill when I get a chance to interact with sewers from Britain, North America, Australia or countries even further afield.

What am I working on?

What am I not working on? I have a dedicated sewing room (which is larger than my bedroom…), a copious stash, four sewing machines and a decent amount of spare time so I’m always working on various projects. At the moment, a prom dress for Child 1 takes precedence, along with some skinny jeans, a cowl dress, a biker jacket, a Moss skirt, a pleated skirt…. You get my point…

How does my blog differ from other sewing blogs?

Well, the photography, obviously!

I really do publish the most rubbish photos in the world of blogging. I’m not proud of this, I would very much like to have better photos – but not so much that I would put in the time and effort the make them better. I am just never going to be a proper model, I just don’t feel I want to present myself in front of the camera. Also I don’t want to feel I have to put on make up etc in order to “pass” for photos. Don’t get me wrong, I love looking at nice photos a lot more than at mine, but in the great scheme of things I just don’t think they are important enough to spend a lot of time on them.


So yeah, like Tia Dia said, my blog is very ordinary. I’m attracted to sewing mainly for the craft aspect, but I don’t have an honest interest in fashion. I don’t pin pictures, I don’t read fashion magazines, I don’t await the new designer collections in eager anticipation – again I don’t think there is anything wrong with any of these things, it’s just not my thing.

Also I have been suffering from a slight case of blogging depression over the last few months. At least amongst the blogs I read there seems to have been a powerful drive towards more professionalism. There were courses in better modelling, better photography, writing better content, reviews, sewlongs, giveaways and many bloggers have really upped their game.
Well, I have neither the time or talent or inclination to follow suit, but I do notice that my blog looks and feels more “dated/unprofessional/less funky etc” than many other blogs. As a consequence I have been a slightly accidental blogger recently, with a lot less posts than sewing. I did even think to let this blog slip very quietly, but for now I’m happy with a reduced frequency.

What is my writing process?

I’m really not someone who overthinks the writing process. Said&Done, my blog title describes me really well. Basically, I type down a post without a lot of thougth for strategy, proofread (although I’ve somehow managed to set the proofreader to German as the default language, so no automatic proofreading on these posts for the moment…) and then publish. I don’t tend to edit a lot – I don’t think this has got me in trouble on this blog, but my “speak as I find” attitude has caused me endless reasons to say sorry and/or trouble in real life…


I’ not sure that I’m not the last person in the sewing universe to have taken up this blog hop, so my nominees have already done their bit. I would have wanted to nominate Stephanie of Love Teach Sew, because she is a fellow English teacher who sews but she has alread answerd the blog hop, Tia Dia of Mezzocouture, because every time she writes a post I want to say “I thougth EXACTLY the same” – but of course she nominated me.

But may be Juebejue of Petite Republic might want to take up the blog hop? She has just had a baby, so maybe blog hops are not a high priority for her. But she has what I don’t: The most beautiful, dreamy pictures on her blog. So do hop over and have a look!

Ready for Frocktober: Dress with Pleated Neckline

I made it! It’s half past nine on the 31st of October and at the eleventh hour I am able to show you the second dress which I made for Frocktober. Again, only with dressfrom pictures – my husband is away and the attempt to make a 10 year old my photographer was aborted at an early stage ;-).


The dress is a Burda pattern a few years back and is originally sleeveless. Personally I don’t subscribe to the  “You can wear any dress in winter, just wear a cardigan over it”-school of thought, so I decided to put some sleeves on. I simply added sleeves from another pattern that seemed to have the same arm scythe dimensions as the dress.


There was a lot of umming and aaaing about whether to line or underline the dress. In the end I underlined it, because I did not have a separate pattern piece for the front bodice and I did not want the pleats of the lining gape out at the front neckline. I underline it with – something slippery from the stash. I have no idea about fabric composition – in fact the fabric was originally bought to line curtains, but I think it has worked out decently in this project.


I love the pleats on the neckline:


Without the gratuitously placed corsages:


But I am afraid the dress looks rather better on the dressform than it does on me. Somehow the neckline seems to come a lot higher on me than it appears on the dressfrom, so this is something I might need to change.

I won’t even begin to apologize for the shoddy state of my ironing – if you have read my blog before you will know that if I have any talents then ironing is not one of them. But the fabric does crease horribly – just saying.


So this is the first project made from my massive fabric haul earlier in the month. You see, I am being good, I don’t just shop, I also use up my purchases. I think that gives me full licence to go back the the lovely and oh so soft knit I saw in the shop the other day 😉 ! Although I really like the fabric for this dress it has to be said it is very subdued, especially if you wear it head to (almost) toe. So to make up for this I have started work on a bright orange skirt – we are talking hi-vis bright orange here! It’s all about the contrast, don’t you think?

I just joined The Monthly Stitch

Good heavens, I am soo excited! I just joined my first ever online sewing-blog-thingy-activity! I joined The Monthly Stitch where you follow one sewing challenge a month. This month’s challenge is making a vintage frock. I am not going to take part in that, thanks to my very largely frock-free life. But in November it is “Something from a sewing book”. Well now, how could anyone miss that ??!!

The lovely ladies who run the blog even have a button – I just don’t know how to add that to my blog yet, such is the newness of my efforts. But I will investigate and hopefully have more stories to tell of the challenges soon.

In the meantime, hop over to their blog and check out the fantastic contributions!