Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Whoa! What are the folks at Burda Magazine up to?

I was so eager to complete the lovely skirt that I had picked out of the latest Burda Magazine (see my last post) that I dropped everything and rushed to get out my tracing paper and pens. I eagerly found the right pattern sheet and, my goodness, my head started to swim! Now I’m all for saving paper but this is ridiculous. This month the folks at Burda seem to have decided that it’s ok to print twice as many patterns on each of the pattern pages. Well, can I just say, it’s not ok with me!

Here is a picture of the page from the April issue

And here is a picture of a pattern page from the March issue

Can you see the difference? All the previous issues of Burda that I have in my possession have pages A to H (8 pages) yet this latest issue has only got pages A to D i.e. all the patterns have been printed on to 4 pages. It’s a crazy maze and makes working out what lines you have to trace, and identifying the pattern markings, very difficult. Has anyone else noticed this or have I got one of a weird batch? I am hoping that this is only a temporary glitch and that next month normal service will be resumed, otherwise I’m going to have to get some new spectacles or maybe an industrial standard magnifying glass!

However, I persevered and did manage to trace the skirt pattern – thankfully it’s only four pieces – and I’m pleased to report that it’s coming together very well indeed. I shopped my stash for the fabric and picked out some lovely black wool crepe which has just the right amount of drape for the flounce at the hem. I am now working on the finishing touches but here is a sneak peak …..

….. of the bow before I stitch it to the back. I just love bows!

More soon ……….

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

I'm loving the April issue of Burda magazine ...

Yes, it arrived on my doorstep this morning and straight away my heart went zing over this skirt, pattern no. 125

Burda say “The posh, slim-cut skirt lends aristocratic superiority to a wearer while a pleated hem flounce and back bow add a delightfully fanciful touch”. Hmmm I don’t know how much aristocratic superiority I’m going to be able to muster up but I really do want this skirt. I love that cute bow and with a two dot Burda rating it’s going to be pretty easy to sew.

I also love this ruffled blouse, pattern no. 105.
The only drawback with this one is the “plunging neckline”. Burda love their necklines to plunge but I’m not so keen, so if I want to make this one I’m going to have to work out a way of raising it to a respectable level!

Maybe this blouse, pattern no. 102, is more for me because I am finding myself very drawn to this style and Burda describe it as “demure”.

Those rolled up sleeves have a bit of an 80’s vibe and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad? But I do like the collar and the double breasted front with the tiny buttons. I’m going to give this one some serious consideration.

Lastly, I really like this “shirt-styled shift dress”, pattern no. 116,
There’s nothing special about the design but it looks like it’s got a nice shape and, having just come back from Miami, I can see how this would really work well as a casual dress for warm weather.

I’d love to know what you think of my choices and have any of the designs in April’s issue made your heart go zing?

Friday, 19 March 2010

Vacation Packing Problems ......

Hello everyone, it’s lovely to be back! I’m home from my vacation (ten days in sunny South Beach, Miami) and, as I’m busy unpacking, I felt moved to say a word or two about the perennial packing predicament!

We’re coming up to that time of the year when all the fashion magazines do their piece about packing the capsule wardrobe for your vacation. You know the kind of thing …… how five perfectly judged pieces of clothing and a pair of espadrilles can be mixed and matched to provide you with a fabulous wardrobe for a ten day vacation. Yeah, right! Unfortunately for me that is so NOT doable.

Here’s what I took with me: 4 dresses, 2 skirts, 6 dressy tops, 7 knit tops, 2 hooded zip up velour tops, 1 lightweight rain jacket, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of cut off jeans, 6 cardigans, 2 sweatshirts, 5 pairs of shoes, assorted swimwear plus, of course, underwear, cosmetics, toiletries, hair equipment, various accessories and the clothes I travelled in.

I know that it was too much because not everything got worn. We’re told that when packing we should lay everything out on the bed then cut it in half. But here’s the problem - which is the half I really don’t need and which is the half that is absolutely essential for cutting a fashionable figure down in fabulous South Beach? Or, forgetting fashion, what do I need to keep me cool, warm, shaded from the sun, dry or whatever? Also, there is a bit of me that says, “I have all these nice clothes, a lot of which I’ve spent time and energy making myself, so I want to have them available to me while I’m away?”

I do, however, have one essential packing tip, particularly for this time of the year. Put aside an hour or so and try on every single item of clothing that you propose packing. It’s been a while since I put away my summer clothes and it’s really quite extraordinary what happens to them in the intervening period. Things that I could swear looked really lovely last year have now, mysteriously, become quite hideous. Also think in terms of outfits – try on clothes together. Have you ever arrived at your holiday destination and realised that you have plenty of clothes but nothing that works with anything else in terms of colour and proportion. I know that I have!

For anyone who wants to streamline their packing, I must pass on some words of wisdom gleaned from reading Tim Gunn’s wonderful book – A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style.

Tim suggests picking a narrative as a way of streamlining what you are going to pack; he says “If you are going for ‘Urban Sophisticate Visits the South of France’ you will not bring your ‘Hoedown Elegant’ outfits as well.” And he warns “You may be tempted by the packing theme of ‘Person Who Wears All the Things in My Closet That I Never Wear’. Resist this. If that kimono top doesn’t feel right in Berkeley, it won’t feel right in Berlin, either.” Excellent advice!

Looking at the pile of brightly coloured clothing in my suitcase I think my theme was ‘London girl, normally starved of sunshine, goes tropical crazy’.

What about you? Are you well organized, do you travel light or do you pack for all possible eventualities? What would your packing theme be and have you got any great packing tips for me?

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The first dress of spring - Burda Style 7557

I’m going on vacation next week and in an ideal world I would have started sewing a beautifully co-ordinated vacation wardrobe some months ago. But I didn’t. I really must work on my time management skills! I have, however, completed this

The pattern is this one

It's Burda Style 7557, which comes in petite sizes 18 to 25, designed for short, half size people like me! If, however, you are a regular size person, you might be interested to know that this pattern is exactly the same as Burda Style pattern no. 7774 which comes in sizes 36 to 50. Burda describe it as “a slender dress with empire waist, fitted and feminine, with a low neckline”. When they say fitted, they weren’t kidding! I made up a muslin, using my regular Burda size, and it was snug. To be fair to Burda I wouldn’t say it was technically too small I would just say that personally I prefer for a daytime dress to be a little less figure hugging. When cutting the actual fabric I just added a little to the side seams which gave me the breathing space I needed!

I made it in a stretch cotton that I purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics. The pattern doesn’t include a lining and, as the fabric has some body and I wanted this to be a casual dress, I decided not to add a lining. However if I were to make it in the kind of satin fabric that Burda have used in their photographs, then I would have lined it.

The pattern suggests quite a lot of topstitching – the neckline, armholes, the darts and the empire waist seam. I like topstitching and I decided that with this print a heavy black thread would give it a nice definite, finished edge. I didn’t, however, topstitch the darts because I came to the conclusion that when you’ve got a D cup bust it might not be a good idea to have two black lines climbing up your front pointing to the bust apex. And, to keep it streamlined, I didn’t topstitch the empire waist seam either, just the neckline and armholes – here’s a close-up

I expect you’re wondering why I used a black zipper instead of a white one and, looking at this picture, so am I. When putting the zipper in I was only thinking of the outside not the inside – I’ll think it through better next time!

Anyway, with that now done, I am making this super easy A-line skirt, pattern 104 in the February issue of Burda magazine

Oh, and something I forgot to mention before, I’m doing the Understanding Knits online course on Pattern Review. I’m really enjoying it. What a revelation - who knew that there was so much to know about knit fabrics! I’ve never been entirely happy with my construction skills when making knits so I’m hoping this course will improve that. More soon ……
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