Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Burda peasant blouse 03/2020 #116

Of course there seems little point in sewing when you're stuck at home for months on end, (not only because of Swiss limits to groupings of five but out of concern for an elderly spouse with chronic respiratory problems.) But before the virus doldrums really hit, I sewed this item, which came out pretty well. I made the mistake of lengthening it by some inches, confusing it with the similar #117 which is shorter with 3/4 length open sleeve hems, so my version could even serve as a bathing suit coverup.
I mail-ordered the fabric, a polyester navy chiffon with a kind of ditzy praire print, with a reasonable hand, from tissus.net. This blouse requires a lot of tedious gathering and I think the interest of the time-consuming double yoke and double tie design feature is lost in the pattern of the fabric I chose. Now that I know it works out, with the double ties and all, I might make another and simpler one that shows off the design.

Friday, 15 November 2019

From trash to class in one pattern...To survive the first rainy days, the Vogue OOP 2614 gray wool wrap jacket and its 'evil twin' the blue snake leather biker jacket.

Have you ever seen a snake this blue? So kill me. I know, the collar! This blue jacket comes from a wonderful Vogue OOP 2614 pattern offering some great options.  When I saw this snake-embossed 'pleather' I splurged without thinking and even found a perfect little gray buckle, but I immediately regretted the per metre cost. It is eye-catching but cheering for the first days of full-on rain here in Switzerland. It pairs well with this great Central Asian scarf gifted by a well-travelled neighbor. It makes the bad weather actually fun.

Wait! The same pattern?? The gray jacket was also made from this SAME pattern, which is some kind of object lesson in the difference changing 'options' and fabric can make. It's made of a very good quality gray-black chevron-weave wool coating and I did some pretty good top-stitching down the princess seams which gives it something extra. From trash to class in one pattern...

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Two autumn dresses.... first one, BurdaEasy, Spring-Summer 2019 (three versions combined for maximum ruffle oomph!)

Skirt hems have been dropping for some seasons but many came with a buttoned-up, ruffled-bodice 'prairie girl' look which is too costumey for someone my age. So I planned two dresses in viscose in my favorite color-way of navy blue to satisfy the urge to try these longer dresses, without going for the bulk of accordion pleats (that would sit on my very wide hips pretty badly,) or spending too much on so much fabric for a look I'm not sure of.
This is concocted from Burda Easy Models 2, A+B+C from the Spring Summer 2019. This design had three variations and I chose the longest and then maxed out the ruffle options, (see tech illustrations below) combining the offerings from three versions into one:

The fabric is a viscose twill, a very good weight for chilly autumn weather which gives some body to the ruffles. I found the perfect boots to wear with this length—some graceful height, a  delicate heel, but not too high.

I did go wrong with this Frankenstein, however. Normally I have to adjust a 51 cm dress hem to 58 to hit at the bottom of my knee. So I automatically added 7 cm to the hem of the main dress body, then added my two ruffles to its bottom. But the dress dropped practically to my ankles which didn't match the photo in the magazine at all. I think I was working with the wrong option's hem? I took in a tuck totaling 8 cm just above the ruffles to form an extra pleat and the dress is still long, but closer to the model shown. I'm generally happy with this dress, though the size 42 neckline is wider than the illustration and slips off one shoulder or another in the wearing.
I've worn this dress twice already to friends' Sunday lunch/tea and it seems just the right style for casual dining without being either overdressed or too casual, especially under a leather jacket and a beige scarf. But it's not a look I'd wear for anything dressier or the office.

I'll deal with the second dress in a separate post...

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Last Minute Summer Maxi for lakeside vacation Burda 07/2019 #104

Sorry, these photos aren't ideal. I must get a tripod...or a friend. This is Burda #104, the July cover garment here in Switzerland, sewn from 3 metres of viscose voile ordered online from Tissus.net that was perfect for the weight and flow of a dress requiring a double-layered bodice.
It was super simple to sew up, given that the back piece and the waist are elasticated, so fitting wasn't an issue.
I thought...
I was surprised that having cut a 40-42-bodice because I have a very narrow upper chest, the straps turned out to land almost too close to the arm, which would mean it was a size too large, right?, but it was very tight across the upper chest to the point that it stretched straight without the little strap 'points' shown on the model. If I made it again, I would make a muslin to figure out how to reduce the distance between the straps and yet actually give it slightly more ease. It seems a contradiction and I'm not sure what happened.

This was whipped up for a four-day lakeside semi-camping trip at the Lake of Zug, but it never got an outing. The night I planned to wear it for a casual dinner I whipped up for some in-laws on a single gas burner by flashlight, it rained! Well, like so many of my later summer makes, this will still have the 'new clothes' buzz when I bring it out next year.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Burda summery flounced blouse 03/2019 #111

This is not an exciting addition to my wardrobe, but turned out well enough. I've been trying to keep my fabric choices to variations of blue that work with navy or white bottoms for summer. (Not that we've had any summer so far in Switzerland.)
The pattern interested me because of its unusual design, even though it required tracing and cutting out the front pieces separately.
I ordered this baby-blue viscose with a fine silver stripe running through it online from a swatch. It's almost too soft to make the most of the gatherings in the sleeves and front. On fabric this thin, it might do to add more fabric inches to the pieces' width to enhance the ruffling effect.
Now that I've bothered tracing it, I might try again in a fabric with slightly more body. It's a very easy project and I cut it 42-45, so the bottom has a nice, rather ethereal floating effect.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

So imperial! Japan fashion inspiration this week produces another Burda kimono 124 July 2011 and a peek at the newest Burda kimono patterns!

Now you know I love a kimono. In fact, I gave Claire Raymond, my fictional journalist-detective in my three HK mysteries set in the 1990's, a collection of antique kimonos I only wished I had. (My HK detective novels)
But as much as I love my home-made silk and (one) antique kimonos, they're a tad too precious for more casual lunches or daily wear with jeans. But I discovered online a lovely casual chambray, embroidered with glorious silver and gold bees, which reminded me of many everyday Japanese textiles that celebrate nature, often with both humor and affection.
So I whipped up this third version of Burda's best-ever kimono pattern, which is lined, for which I've previously posted very clear instructions for rapid machine construction that still honors the deep traditional kimono sleeves feature, here: Three Part Post on Kimono Dressing.

For those beginner sewers who are just not ready for the authentic square, lined 124-7-2011 sleeve, Burda has just released two much easier kimonos: Burda Style kimono for 2019 (left)
and Burda Easy with three variations:
Burda Easy May 2019 (right)

Last week the world was reminded of the ceremonial purposes of the most extravagant versions of a kimono with the imperial coronation in Japan of Naruhito and Masako in full-blown traditional wear. (I once dined at the home of Masako's ambassador father during my husband's time representing the Int. Committee of the Red Cross at the UN. Her parents were the loveliest couple imaginable.) Here is the generally reclusive new Empress Masako arriving at court in what we assume is the ne-plus-ultra of kimonos for 2019.

But generally, in the West, we associate kimonos with almost louche lounge dressing, harking back to Noel Coward drawing-room comedies or raids on vintage shops by bohemian hippie chicks.

I was thinking of all of this recently afresh. For a joint birthday celebration last month, a girl friend who is a Japan expert planned a two-couple lunch and museum outing and we four had a great time. Best of all, knowing my love of sewing, she booked us tickets for a sewist's dream exhibition. (see below!) It was a fabulous display of Asian textiles and garments, fascinating and beautiful enough in their own right, combined with Western accessories and frame-worthy fashion illustrations showing how much Chinese and Japanese styles influenced high fashion in the 1920's. Almost one hundred years ago, could we be ready for a comeback?

This will not be news to any fans of the Miss Fisher mystery series, which has already inspired Tany of Couture and Tricot to copy some of Miss Fisher's amazing costumes, including a scalloped hacking jacket in damson Chinese brocade. And this 'fusion look' has garnered enough TV audience interest to spawn at least one other museum exhibition, in Rippon Lea, Australia, of Miss Fisher's costumes, including vintage items collected by the costume designer Miriam Boyce.

The perfumes to go with this look? Definitely two Guerlain classics, Jicky or Mitsouko.
For now, sayonara!


The Influence of Chinese and Japanese textiles on the fashions of the Roaring Twenties

10 April 2019 - 7 July 2019

In France, around the 1920s, a great number of magazines written for and about women were founded. The Gazette du bon ton, art, modes et frivolités was one of the best to reflect the period, but there were also Modes et manières d’aujourd’huiCostumes parisiens, Journal des dames et des modes, the French version of Vogue and Les Modes, for example. They offered advice on different topics, such as home decoration, lifestyles, the theatre, fashionable holiday resorts, and of course fashion, all abundantly illustrated with colour plates. These were generally created from a drawing whose outlines were first engraved, then printed with black ink. The areas within the outlines were then filled in with watercolours or gouaches, applied using a stencil. The composition of the images, the different stages of their production, and the themes developed all strongly resemble the Japanese woodblock prints by which they were inspired.
The Baur Foundation in Geneva has a sufficiently ample and representative collection of Asian textiles to provide a comparison with the Western fashions of this period. The remarkable encounter of the two has given rise to an exhibition and catalogue in which designs by Parisian creators are displayed alongside pieces of contemporary Far Eastern textiles. The accompanying book makes it possible also to publish the donations of Japanese kimonos and other clothes received by the Baur Foundation – including the Sato Mariko (2008) and Sugawara Keiko (2015) donations – but also certain Chinese textiles that add to the richness of the institution’s collections.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Well, it follows as the night the day...Model Goddaughter about to give birth, so back to knitting up Elizabeth Zimmerman's Best Baby Sweater in the world!

Well, how time passes! The Model Goddaughter who 'walked' the runways of Vivian Westwood and Temperley, etc. over the past few years, (even graced a huge billboard over Harrods Department store one Christmas!) got married a year ago September, and now right on time is about to have her own little girl.
This pattern, the classic Elizabeth Zimmerman Best Baby Sweater in the world has already appeared in various colors and yarns on this blog already, including denim blue, wine red, ivory, a paler pink, and dark blue.
I chose a really soft baby wool in good ol' pink this time and returned to the original 'seagull' lace that expands as the baby grows. (Last time I used thicker Aran ivory yarn and experimented with a cable pattern.)
I was visiting London last weekend and MG dropped by with her mum for tea to say thanks, which was lovely.
But obviously, I can't wait for a photo of the new sprog in her designer sweater to add to my collection!

Monday, 7 January 2019

The latest 'Chanel' type jacket from Vogue 7975

As promised in the previous post, it was time for a new 'Chanel.' After the Christmas festivities, I finally finished up the longer length version of Vogue 7975 using this lovely tweed with darkest blue, silver, white, black and bronze threads. I wanted to dress this jacket up a little more than previous versions so added two pockets to the two on the pattern—I really only wear these jackets now for evening concert/opera/dinner wear since I quit the office life—and so it is livelier, (but I may have gone over the top!)

In any event, this was the first time I learned to cut a fringe trim from the fashion fabric on the bias to obtain double the fringed threads I'd get from cutting on the straight. Then I anchored the fringe down the center using a 7mm dark navy braid purchased online.

As it was, the result still looked too staid. So I bought pearls in various sizes of my tweed colors and festooned them randomly across the pocket tops and down both fronts. I could have decorated the sleeve hems as well, but I knew that having fringe picking up chip dip might annoy me.

I also skipped another possibility. The last iteration of fringe by Lagerfeld at Chanel featured strips encircling the sleeve cap seams. But I don't think I would carry that off very well. Too 'Marvel Heroine goes Paris.'

The pockets are lined, of course, and handstitched to meld into the tweed pattern invisibly. All the fringe and pearls were hand-stitched to the jacket body. This jacket may someday see a second life, as I can easily remove all the fringe and beads and tone it down or up some other way, depending on my mood down the road. White wool trim might make it look more naval and spring-like, while strict silver braid would be more formal yet.

I'm still thinking I might hide a dozen or so hooks and eyes down the front to close the jacket firmly if I want to wear it 'solo.'

And I'm giving this a rest before I decide whether/how much to trim or square off the fringe. It's a little wild—but hey. It is a busy jacket all on its own, so a very simple top is required underneath. This is going to top off the navy wide-leg georgette jumpsuit with the camisole bodice I wore under my pink and blue Burda kimono to the English wedding. (previous post)

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Second 'Lifestyle Uniforms,' the pseudo Chanel jacket

The new blue/black/silver/bronze/white bouclé
the Hong Kong-tailored workhorse from 1990 on its third change of buttons
my favorite V7975 with 3/4 quarter sleeves, waist length
first stab at my own trim
cheerful lining, but could have used contrast band/fringe option
the 'other' Vogue OOP pattern w/self band and four
pockets. I think I prefer four pockets
my first V7975, okay,
but much better once sequins hand-sewn to purchased trim
Tweed too flat, but okay for day. Note "Chanel" buttons!
the longer-waisted V7975 sober daytime option.

Besides a Little Black Dress and a variety of jodphur/leggings to go under knee-high boots, (post to follow) there's another item I've always had on hand when I have to get out of jeans and look more grown-up and citified. Admittedly, that doesn't happen as often as it used to.

I learned the meaning of easy chic when I was a bureau chief in Hong Kong and had a tailor run up a custom-fitted Chanel-style black bouclé jacket. I wore it to our goodbye party as we left Hong Kong forever and then every other diplomatic event required for the five years we were posted to the UN in NY where my husband was a Head of Mission. (This black item is still going strong, although I removed the huge shoulder pads without regret. I've changed the buttons over the years from pearl to gold to sparkly black.)

But one solid black Chanel-ish jacket  is only the baseline, hardly the end of the story. And if you're interested in my Chanel fetish, check out my exploding Pinterest "Chanel Inspiration Board" here:


I have just cut out a lovely navy, black and silver bouclé to sew up—hip length with full-length sleeves and four pockets, two more than shown in the Vogue 7975 pattern. I've finished the body and am now adding four pockets trimmed with self-fringe cut on the bias and secured down the middle with navy braid. I'll post a photo of it as soon as it is finished!

But as I delved into this project, I felt rusty about my design choices and fit. So I reviewed my 'Chanel-lite' collection so far. And I must say, I do love three of my home-sewn versions, but am less thrilled with a fourth. And frankly, they are all looking a little 'too loved.' Forgive their saggy, tired appearances in the photos above. It just shows how much they've been worn. So it's time I had a new one.

Very long ago, working at the BBC in London around 1979, I invested in a wonderful white bouclé wool and made the Vogue Designer tk. (photo below) And I bought the Vogue Designer Albert Nipon around the same time, (see below.) I've used Vogue 7975 and Vogue tk to make four pseudo Chanel jackets for evening or meeting/conference wear. I say pseudo, because I really do use the Vogue instructions which are less complicated than the 'classic' Chanel's. I fully respect those sewists who do the whole quilting-lining-to-bouclé-by-hand thing for true authenticity. Their results look great with nice fit and drape. And the chain is a nice bit of authenticity as well.

I can't do it. I'm sorry, but I just don't like hand-sewing all that much. And I don't want a chain sewn to the lining running between the small of my back and the hard back of a concert seat for two hours, no matter how authenticate it is.

The next Chanel experiment after the Hong Kong buy, around year 2000, was the black-and-wine bouclé hip-length version. Once I'd put the black braid around it, I wasn't satisfied. So a year later, I hand-sewed black sequins scattered along the trim. Now I was very happy. I've worn it to death over black skirts or pants ever since.

My favorite is the wool pink-baby-blue and bronze-threaded one from 2007, the shorter waist option of Vogue 7975 with three-quarter sleeves. But after a few years, I lent to my daughter in London. She brought it back needing a wash. I hand-washed it to protect the bronze metal threads from our village drycleaner and it now feels a little tight, still workable but maybe this baby needs retirement. I love the gorgeous fabric, a remnant from an elegant shop in Lausanne that closed. I braided my own trim with yarns selected to match the threads of the boucle.

Third outing was the yellow, pink, and black Vogue OOP7860 which I might have exploited a bit better by using a contrast fabric for the banding. SewTawdry used this pattern very nicely here: http://sewtawdry.blogspot.com/2010/08/on-fringe-of-fashion.html
My bouclé here was less expensive than my wool choices, a cotton choice that looks great for spring with pink lining. This Vogue pattern is  boxier than the Vogue 7975 and has big shoulders that needed cutting down. It also has a front seam that curves from the armhole seam into a dart and this construction doesn't lend itself to the traditional quilting process I skipped. I might use this pattern again because it fit me well and possibly the construction lends itself to matching discounted remnants of expensive fabrics.

Fourth outing was my 'loser' in green. I used the longer length of Vogue 7975 again and made my own trim with braided yarns, but  I think I don't get any buzz because I used a tweed remnant of a high quality wool that wasn't a bouclé. But at least I scored some imitation Chanel buttons! Even so, I don't like the look of a buttoned Chanel, especially as none of my sewing machines make perfect buttonholes. Live and learn. This definitely goes over jeans. Maybe my disaffection is also because my hairdo experiment as a redhead is over and my 'redhead' foray into green and jade colorways reminds me of some very, very difficult years past.

There are a couple of Burda jacket patterns I'd like to try. I think Burda measurements allow for more refining and I'm definitely not the body I was when I first sewed V7975. One option is a Burda Easy 2016 with the possibility of a flared sleeve and a peplum. The other is the Burda Classic 2013 that includes a collar option.

The one pattern I haven't been able to find is one that mimics the Chanel jacket shape featuring an upright circular collar that sits wide and clear of the neck. If you see one, please link me to it!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Little Black Dresses in my closet--the travel/concert capsule wardrobe weekend solution, plus a new model, Burda Easy's bandeau sheath, SS 2018

Chanel said a lady can go anywhere if she has a LBD. The venerable Parisian perfume house Guerlain has even issued a series of perfume flankers over recent years, dedicated to the idea that the LBD is whatever you make of it, from tutu to black leather jacket.

For the end of September, I was planning a Fri-Mon weekend in London to visit offspring. Having last year left an overnight bag of toiletries, makeup, and black cotton T and leggings as pj's with the litter, I wanted to travel ultra-light, with only a medium-sized black leather backpack to weigh me down airport-airport-bus-tube.

The first stop would be a performance of the English National Ballet with FiddlerKid leading a string section  (so proud!) Then museums and lunches and coffees etc. which were all incredible fun, to meet up with each kid and (in some cases, their partners.)

The obvious solution was to wear a black knit dress over a black camisole over black tights and short zipped boots (there would be a lot of city walking, so the ankle boots were low-heeled but not rustic) under a black Promod trench, to be perked-up from the crypt-heavy-blackness with bright jewelry and Hermes-style colorful silk scarves.

So I carried only:

1. pull-on black Vogue OOP trousers in ponte. Kind of a neutral no-style at all statement.
2. black and brown sailor-stripe T

The weather was cool but sunny and it all worked incredibly well. I left the T and trousers behind in the carryall for next time. They don't do much here at home. I did consider leaving the dress instead...which is why...

While I was packing, I reviewed a collection of my LBD's sewn and purchased over the years. With one professional musician in the family, not to mention our love of subscription tickets to concerts anyway, it turned out I had quite a few BLACK concert basics to layer under Chanel-ish jackets, kimonos, or glittery tops. Photos below for some of the sewn options:

1. Donna Karan Vogue Designer OOP dress (worn already to Univ. of Cambridge concerts ten years ago)
2. Burda one-shouldered ponte sheath (worn already as the Verbier Festival summer option two years ago. Burda shows it as part of a clever ensemble, offering a one-shouldered opposite-side overlay which makes it a two-sleeve, warmer dress. A SWAP possibility for the future? Not photographed yet, unfortunately)
3. Burda Chinese-style short-sleeve sleeved sheath w/ exposed gold zip (worn last year on a similar London weekend. CyberDaze (see link in sidebar just made on of these too!)
4. Burda short-sleeve sheath in cloqué (only suitable for evening because of shimmery fabric. Decade-plus old.)
5. short-sleeved, collarless purchased viscose H&M wrap dress, showing its age. I'm considering using that classic Vogue DVF knock-off pattern to make a new black version of this with its 3/4 cuffed sleeve and collar detail. I know I'll use it a lot.
6. spaghetti-strap georgette slip dress (too long, flimsy-floaty for autumn city daywear)
7. two pull-on black knit pencil skirts (required more tops. Stayed at home)
8. floor-length slip dress in cotton knit (only suitable for summer resort wear)
9. Vogue Options wool sheath (way too warm for September. Yoke style outdated)

In the end, I took the viscose wrap dress because it was right for day-to-night and I'm too fond of the home-sewns to consider I might leave one of those in London.

But when I got home, I added this new LBD to my collection which I hope has day-night potential for travel. I've worn it already to a concert at Victoria Hall in Geneva. I liked the Meghan Markle neckline vibe.

Burda Easy SS 2018
This is Burda Easy's SS 2018 knit sheath with the bandeau neckline in a black viscose solid enough to give the collar some body and resilience. With the neckline pulled low, it works as an elegant evening cocktail dress but released higher up with a shawl or scarf or under a cardigan, it can go out in the day. As usual, the collar bounces off the shoulders a bit too much if I'm overactive. I'm considering finding a way to keep it down without permanently tacking it.

Here are some looks at the other LBD's I've mentioned above:
Chinese sheath dress Burda 2-2012-117A, much worn, much mended

Donna Karan Designer Original OPP origami wrap sheath (Daughter is wearing a Burda Galaxy-knockoff sheath in black lace over plain lining. Start them on their LBD's young!)

Vogue  OPP sheath with yoke seaming
Burda cloque sheath