Wednesday, September 2, 2009

End of Summer Mini Wardrobe

August did its best, and all it took was a couple major stressful events to derail my best-laid sewing plans. Thankfully, I made it through, and even completed a mini wardrobe while I was at it!

I stayed up all night before a 6am flight to make these high-waist trousers from Burda 3/2009 in bright cherry red:

And I patterned this skirt after a much loved vintage wool plaid skirt (it needed a summer counterpart) The top is from Burda 2/2009, in rayon jersey:

Summer seems to be coming very quickly to an end this year. It is already getting chilly in the evenings, and I am already planning which cozy sweaters I want to knit, and which yummy yarns I need to buy to make them. I've been looking at Rowan's Swaddle for quite some time, but am not convinced that there is an affordable substitute for their Kid Silk Classic yarn. I have been eyeing some angora blends over at Colourmart for awhile--hopefully my favorite colors won't be gone by the time I make up my mind to purchase! In terms of autumn sewing, I am imagining slim sweater dresses, and elegant blouse and high-waist skirt combos. Especially inspiring was this feminine blouse in the September issue of Burda.

Thank you for stopping by to take a look! I hope to be posting more than just once a month from here on out, so please stay tuned. Happy sewing!

Monday, August 3, 2009

I'll admit, I just haven't been doing that much sewing lately. I have, however, been planning a lot of sewing projects. I finally signed up for Polyvore the other day. While playing around with some outfit ideas, I stumbled upon a new inspiration resource. Or is it a danger zone? All I know is that I like nearly every piece of clothing I see on Especially the offerings from Click. Scroll on for a tour of my favorites.

What a cute ruffled blouse.
I was struck by how similar it looks to this pattern in the 8/2009 Burda WOF

A cute, but not overly prim spin on the 2fer dress craze-
I also really dig the dirndl waist.

It's a basic linen shirt dress.
The pockets are what make it wearable.

Classic a-line skirt, in linen.
I love the twisted detail at the top of the pockets.
It's also great that so many of these styles have elastic-back waists-
who cares what the waistline looks like when you're just going to throw a belt on over it?

Cute flutter sleeve dress with elastic neckline.
Could there be an easier project than this?

Simple. Pockets. Ballet cardi.

Ruffled front tunic.
It looks nice on her, right?
And my favorite piece of all-
the tie-neck blouse.
I really like how the ends of the tie come to a point.
I also dig this because the turned back sleeves give it a bit of a retro feel.
More pictures here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pattern Organization

I've been working away at organizing all of my Burda patterns. Tracing patterns out of the magazine is time consuming enough that I knew I needed to organize them properly. It has only taken me five years to decide how to do this properly. Firstly, I saved the line drawings of all my patterns from the archives. Next, I uploaded these images to flickr. Then I printed them out on brown paper from grocery bags. Once I had the images printed out, I tore them apart using a straight edge. Finally, I glued them onto envelopes that I found on sale at Papersource. They have some great porfolio envelopes that easily fit my larger patterns, like those I have printed out on letter paper from burdastyle. I also purchased some medium sized envelopes that work fine for smaller patterns like skirts and tops.

Here are photos of each of the steps are below:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Update: Burda

As I suspected, the vintage dress I was ogling in Burda's August edition preview does not come with the magazine. It is a premium download. I might buy it after all, except that seam allowances are not included in these "premium" patterns. Please explain to me why I would want to pay 3,99 for a pattern, only to have to print it on my own paper, with my own ink, and then cut the pieces out, tape them together, and THEN retrace them, adding the requisite 5/8 inch to all the seams. That said, this is how I went about my spring jacket. I am that dedicated to the craft. Sometimes.

ETA: I just looked at Burda's download page again, and it seems that the pattern is free with subscription. In Germany. I subscribe in the U.S. It appears that this makes me ineligible for the extra pattern. I feel some letter writing coming on.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

30s Blouse Progress

I've finally made some progress on my 30s inspired blouse! The good news: I have the initial muslin completed. The bad news: I think I should make another. Or at least modify this one substantially. You can see in the last photo that the back of the blouse dips lower than the front, and I'm not comfortable with that.

Quick notes: As you can see below, the fabric is a horrendous mother-of-the bride powder blue. Never fear! The muslin is, of course, just a test garment. Also, I added the center band mainly for the purpose of lengthening the bodice--it will not appear in the final blouse. I will work on tweaking this muslin over the next couple days, and then plunge into the final version. Hopefully the final blouse will look a bit more like this one that I shared in an earlier post.

Meanwhile, I have been tinkering with some other, more basic projects (read: ones that actually follow patterns), as well as a major sewing space organization project. More about that later, though. Here are the promised pictures:

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

August Burda Preview

Exciting News! I just checked Burda's German homepage, and they have a full preview of August's magazine up! I've noticed lately that the German page has newer content than the English version, so I make sure to check it out when I get restless for sewing news. The most intriguing feature in next month's edition is this vintage dress:

Could Burda be receiving my telepathic requests for vintage pattern goodness? As a pattern company with a long history, surely Burda has pretty awesome archive of vintage patterns. I don't want to get my hopes too high for this pattern, as I've seen some features offered specifically in the German edition of the mag. Fingers crossed until my copy arrives in the mail!

Other lovelies that are definitely arriving in the August edition:

This adorable cape

And...this gorgeous blouse!

My only gripe about this issue is that Paris is used as one of the main fashion stories. I believe that Burda used Paris as inspiration for a story just last November, so this isn't exactly the freshest idea. There are other fashionable cities in Europe (and the world, for that matter!) How about featuring a different one for a change?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Flutter Sleeve Cardi

Another beautiful weekend in DC! Thanks to the fact that it did not rain (or hail) yesterday as predicted, I was able to make time for a photo shoot. I have been meaning to take some photos of this cardi for a long time. Not only is it cute, but it’s super easy to make. I made the pattern by expanding upon a basic raglan-sleeved top, enlarging the sleeves and adding a front placket, pockets, and wide band at the hem. The pockets are no trouble at all, as they are integrated into the side and placket seams. The garment is finished with a final pressing rather than topstitching, to neaten the seams.

This is a very versatile cardi, and I have worn it more frequently than I originally expected. I really like the way it looks belted, though it can also be worn open--next time I will finish the inside seams better so that this is an option! My plan is to post the pattern on Burda Style soon, although I’m tempted to just sketch up some instructions. The best part? It’s not nearly as complicated as it might look. I even left the sleeves un-hemmed.

See below for more details:

I am still working on muslins for the 1930s blouses, never fear. More about that project later...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pattern frustration, Vintage inspiration

Laundry was calling me, the iron needed to be fixed, and there was much cleaning to do after RJ and I spent last weekend away. After these chores, I took advantage of the holiday weekend for relaxation purposes rather than sewing. I did start in on a Burda top this weekend, 118B from 2/2009, with some bamboo jersey in peach. After about the third step of the pattern I remembered why I shouldn't follow directions so blindly. While I love Burda's patterns, their directions often seem to include unnecessary steps. The use of the neckline binding, in this case, really stumped me, and left me too frustrated to go on. Why does this neck binding have to peek out 1/8" out from the neckline? Could they not have made this binding fold completely underneath? I don't know the answers to these questions. But I promised myself that the next time I start a pattern, I will examine all the pieces first, and decide how I want to put them together.

If I remember correctly, this type of creative frustration has always been with me. I began taking sewing lessons when I was ten, my mother driving me to the instructor's house each Saturday. Sessions were prepared for by carefully choosing a pattern of the appropriate skill-level, and subsequently hunting for the proper fabric and notions. The fact that it sometimes took 2-3 Saturdays to finish a single pattern was ok, because I was "still learning". This drawn-out time frame put such effort on the process that by the time I completed a project I was often too bored with the garment to wear it. To top it off, my mother insisted that each project was to be finished before we could purchase supplies for the next. Needless to say, this had the effect of turning project frustration into long sewing hiatuses. These days I try to manage project frustration by diverting my attention to another project. I'm not sure how effective a strategy this is, but I do know that I complete an awful lot more projects these days. And I spend a lot less time frustrated.

This weekend I allowed myself to relax, and shifted gears from worrying about the Burda pattern to craving a new 1930s inspired blouse. While browsing flickr for inspiration, I happened upon these lovely images from Allison Marchant's (Carbonated) photostream. It was really awesome to find these images, as patterns from this period seem difficult to come by (and pricey!) online. I'm hoping to sketch a couple of these up tonight, and then start drafting patterns tomorrow night. There are two pieces of silk I'm planning to use--one I've already posted here, and another is a brilliant yellow floral silk crepe that I purchased at the L.A. fashion district this Spring. I meant to make a top out of it sooner, but it is too lovely to cut into without first making a muslin. Enjoy the photos, and I'll keep you posted on my progress!

McCalls 1930s blouse pattern
View B has pretty nifty sleeves-two pieces (!) with pleated back seams
Image courtesy of carbonated

Another McCalls 1930s blouse pattern
Note the straight lines, and subtle shaping via side-seam darts
View C is best bet for a modern interpretation, too many ruffles are distracting
Image courtesy of carbonated

Elegant McCalls 1930s blouse pattern
I like that the wrapping bits tie in the back,
rather than leaving awkward dangles at the side
This somehow reminds me at once of a ballet sweater and a kimono
Image courtesy of carbonated

Dubarry 1930s tunic pattern
Loves: drapey raglan sleeves, center seam ruching, draped neckline, peplum
So many details! I will definitely be trying this one.
Image courtesy of carbonated

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Last Minute Burda Top

I spent this past weekend in the Poconos with my boyfriend's extended family, and I must say that family reunions are much better when you are not related to the other guests.  Some of the highlights of my weekend included singing with Irish folk songs, watching my boyfriend's family drink plenty of Jameson, and exploring an abandoned resort.  It was nice to get away for a few days, but it has really taken me awhile to get back up to speed with life this week--as evidenced by my lack of posts!  I'm excited to finally have the chance to share the story of my new Burda top.

Before we departed for the scenic Eastern Pennsylvanian countryside on Friday, I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of nice outfits to wear.  In addition to the H&M tankdress, I decided to make this strapless top, #113 from the 6/2009 Burda magazine.  I owe a big thank you to Marita for posting a super helpful tutorial on her blog!  I did attempt to read Burda's directions briefly, but found Marita's guidance a bit simpler and intuitive.  This was definitely a quick project--I started and finished it last Thursday, the night before we left on our trip.  My biggest trip-up was that I originally put the pleats in going the wrong direction.  No big.  I just ripped them out and flipped them the other way!  

I highly recommend this pattern for summer sewing, as it is a very quick and rewarding project.  It also fits quite well, and this is coming from someone who does not usually "do" strapless.  The top does naturally slip down a bit over time, however.  As a fix I'm thinking of adding some corset boning in the side seams of the bodice, and maybe even some silicone-backed elastic at the top.  One additional note is that the fabric I used was 1 yd of bamboo/cotton jersey purchased from  While making the top, I wished that I had picked a slightly denser rayon knit with better recovery.  While I'm sure this jersey will be fine for a single season garment, the grain is also not completely straight, making the pleats hang a bit wonky.

Has anyone else made this top?  Please send me links if you have--I would love to see your results!  

Ok, I'm off to work on more projects!  I cut a pair of linen pants out three weeks ago that I should really finish before summer is over!  Happy sewing :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

basic tank + border print = fabulous dress

I finished it!  Here is the completed project I promised.  I meant to post last night, but the hemming took a bit longer than I expected.  The top of the dress is a simple $6 tank top from H&M.  The skirt is lined in batiste, and finished with french seams.  This is the easy project I have been waiting for--and just what I need for my long weekend trip!

Thanks for looking, and happy sewing :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Yesterday's shopping trip turned out better than I expected.  Although I didn't find any fabric per se, I did pick up something small to go with the Art deco-y border print fabric.  And it came from H&M, so it was super cheap!  For now it's a secret, but I will post pictures of the results tonight.

Happy sewing thoughts-

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Weekend Project Progress

I was really busy this weekend! My list of current projects keeps getting longer, though I haven't been finishing much. This past weekend I cut out:
  1. Jacket from Burda 5/2006
  2. Strapless swimsuit
  3. Top 118 from Burda 2/2009
  4. Franzi vest from Burdastyle
I don't have pics yet for the last two, but I will soon-promise! For the jacket I am using a silk/cotton blend from fabricmart fabrics, and a great vintage button that I found at Exquisite Fabrics. For the strapless swimsuit I'm using poly/spandex jersey from The photo on the left is Norma Kamali's Walter MIO suit, which inspired this creation. If you haven't seen it yet, you should definitely check out

I've also been combing through my stash to identify possible projects. There is so much fabric that I really love, but am not sure how to use. My sewing space is quite small (about 5ftx7ft, including sewing machine, ironing board and storage) so it can get a bit chaotic when i bring out too many projects at once.

Yesterday I found this post by Katharine, in which she mentioned how she deals her small workspace. I know I need to be better organized, but of course I'm not sure where to start! How do you keep your sewing space tidy? If you have any suggestions I would love to hear from you.

Now I'm off to find some fabric to go with this:

But more about upcoming projects later! Good luck on all your current projects and fabric hunting :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Inspiring Summer Projects

I've found quite a few lovely projects this week and last. If you're looking for summer sewing inspiration, be sure to check these out:

From Casey: Shorts Story

From Anna: Mociun Knock-off

From Cidell: BWOF 6-2009-107

From Sigrid: Top for my Daughter

Casey and Anna's creations have inspired me to try my hand at some more pattern drafting. I'm in love with the idea of having creative control over an entire project, from the conception of an idea, to the design of the pattern, and the final hand stitched hem. Often I am too timid to make the leap of faith and trust myself to do this. This is where Burda's patterns are so wonderful; They let me create trendier pieces without spending as much time working my measurements into a pattern. Cidell and Sigrid's gorgeous posts remind me that I need to take another look at Burda's June issue. These are both examples of garments that I might have been a bit wary to try if I hadn't seen other attempts first. Thank you to Casey, Anna, Cidell and Sigrid for the inspirations! I'm ready for a weekend of sewing now!

Burda Spring Jacket

Technical drawing from

I took a few photos of recent projects over the weekend, and have finally gotten the chance to post them. The pattern was a breeze to follow, since most of the seams are straight. The toughest part for me was the pocket construction--setting those babies in took me a couple weeks! I really like the vintage-y feel of this one, and the large snaps keep the front placket unfettered by over decorative buttons. While I love every kind of button, they just don't work well everywhere. The cotton/rayon jacquard was sourced from Emma One Sock and the cotton butterfly-print lining came from I didn't use the recommended silk fabric because I wanted this to be a good everyday jacket, and I don't like to dry clean clothes frequently. The pattern is available as a download from Burda.

There are more project updates to come, a tunic and a button-up beach top, both from Burda WOF patterns. I will post them as soon as I get the chance!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fabric Friday

From Left to Right: brightly striped cotton jersey, claret wool jersey, 
emerald hammered silk, black and ivory cross- weave linen

I bought some more fabric last week, after tricking myself into thinking that I needed more.  Clearly I do not need more, as indicated by my Billy shelf that is fully to the brim with yard goods.  The only remedy, of course, is to sew, sew, sew!  Of course it's never fully evident why all these projects-in-waiting do not come to fruition more quickly, but I have an inkling that part of the puzzle is inspiration.  Once I get an idea in my head I tend to fall in love with it, and the project seems to fly off my fingertips like a ball of yarn unwinding.  I'm waiting for the inspiration to hit ;)

Anyhow, here are pictures of the fabrics.  Do you have any ideas about what these lovelies should become?  Any and all ideas are most welcome!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

July Burda Excitement

Last month I finally treated myself once more to a Burda World of Fashion subscription. Although I have subscribed to the magazine in the past, $80 a year became too much as I made the transition from high school to college, and then college to life in the "real world". This spring, however, I really have gotten back into sewing in a major way, and have thus been chasing down back issues from February and March. After ordering the original German version of the March issue from Burda Direct and trying to figure out how I would pay the publisher using my non-existent German bank account, I decided it was high time I reinstated my subscription. (One other justification I gave myself was that even if I only like 4 of the 12 issues each year, procurring them as back issues at $15 a pop adds up very quickly.)

Well, all that drama aside, I peeked at the Burda web site last night and was very excited to see that Burda WOF already has their July preview slideshow online! [Please be forewarned: There are spoilers in this post.] It seems like I just received my June issue in the mail, though I am of course very excited to see hints of the next issue. I do admittedly feel as though I have indulgently cast aside that last issue. The fashion stories were lovely, and they did inspire me. The problem is that they inspired me to purchase more fabric over anything else! After flipping through some of the photos of next month's Burda I think that some of those patterns will be more conducive to stash busting.

I definitely have some cotton/lycra poplin that may work well for this one:

Dress from upcoming Burda WOF July 2009

And I'm not sure what fabric I would use for this skirt, but it would be lovely made up in a cheerful color (think lemon yellow or a vivid green) with some vintage buttons. This is definitely going on the project list!
Skirt from upcoming Burda WOF July 2009

Aside from my giddy joy at the prospect of new patterns, I thought that I would share one of my recently completed projects:

This was one of the patterns that made me purchase the August 2008 issue of Burda WOF. The feminine details of the peplum, puff sleeves and rounded yoke really appealed to me. Although the fashion story featured the top in a silk charmeuse, I thought that a crisp cotton would do just as well (and be MUCH more affordable!). Once I found this lovely piece of sapphire cotton sateen at Gstreet on the discount table, I just had to make it. It is also very satisfying to me when I can pull these projects off for such a reasonable price:

2 yards of blue fabric =$5.94
2 cards of tiny shank buttons =$1.60

In total, the blouse materials cost only $7.54 !

Here is the technical drawing of the blouse, which shows all the little details more clearly then my photos: