Thursday, 10 September 2020

ARRRGGH! Trying to delete some spam comment, I lost all your wonderful comments going back at least a year! I'm so sorry! (meanwhile...) Burda Easy Cardigan January 2020 models 4A+C. A modest replacement with a few hesitations.

Okay, I think I've sorted out this new Blogger format and restored all your valuable comments that do cheer up my days. If I missed an important one, let me know...and I'm trying to thank KS below for her kindness about the Epic Fail jumpsuit, and Blogger keeps saying I'm in error, so...arh again.

Sadly, I long had a beloved navy blue cardigan that finally died. I had just successfully built up a capsule wardrobe of navy blue items, (various blue blouses, a pull-on stretch pencil skirt from Burda Easy, navy jeans, tights, culottes, leggings, navy and white striped T's, a navy cashmere turtleneck stolen from my husband,) you get the idea.
For me, navy had become 'the new black' over the last few winters. The jewels in my capsule were two navy-blue jumpsuits to be worn under various kimonos in silky blue prints for evenings with friends at home. I wore one to the wonderful wedding of goddaughter in England under one of my kimonos, blogged already.
But the basic piece that pulled many of these combos together by day was my basic navy cardigan.
Now dead. I scraped it across some wet white paint and when I tried to remove the paint, I rubbed an actual hole in the weave in the front tail.
I have tried here, with only some success, to replace it. With the best of intentions, I ordered a navy blue knit online that turns out to have just a tinge of too much violet to it. And the pattern I chose, which looked quite trendy in Burda Easy in January 2020 may not be my style. The hem is asymmetric, the sleeves are a bit too dolman for my taste and without neater finishing by a knit cuff or elastic, the sleeves require being pushed up the arm not to look a bit naff. There are no buttons, so the tie from Version A is a must, as are the pockets from Version C. I had to make little thread belt loops which I hate doing, too.
But let's give it a winter to break in and I may learn to love it as much as my long, slim-line classic with the buttons.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

CONFINEMENT SEWING PART II Croquet Dresses for Lockdown Games, Burda Easy March 2020 #4C, Burda Style 6-2020-118, and Burda Style 4-2020 cover model, with Burda's Hollywood homage

During a summer of serious Covid confinement, keeping in consideration my soon-80-year-old husband's lung frailties and my own last decade of serious health treatments, we needed to find a more and immediate source of daily joy here in our Swiss village in hard-hit virus-heavy Vaud. Our three adult kids were in lockdown in London. Our constant worries for them with their employment abruptly curtailed or, in one case seriously overloaded, were sometimes overwhelming. Our routine companions here were also being ultra-careful because of age and health histories and sticking close to home. I continued writing and husband continued his own projects, but...meh...

We had wonderful weather, a large house and garden to enjoy, a vast library of music and books to rediscover, the internet and a new Netflix account, and myriad digital contacts with friends and family. And we've kept our health, fingers crossed, so far. The numbers are shooting up again and we know we're counted among the 'vulnerable.'

But we mourned our cancelled vacation to a beloved hotel on the Ligurian shore in Italy, where the virus has been raging up and down the coast with the coffins piling up, as well as our traditional visits to rough it lakesite at camp with extended Swiss family in Walchwil, not far from Zurich, another national hotspot of infection. I also missed all our usual outings to concerts in Lausanne and Geneva for which I love getting properly dressed.

So, no occasions, no meetups, no sewing?

Working hard as usual, we still needed to play away from the computers on a regular basis. So we settled into a serious season of good old-fashioned American croquet, with suitable iced drinks and lots of laughs. And I sewed three 'croquet' dresses, (as this is a decorous sport, to say the least.) White sneakers were de rigeur.

First, the striped linen-viscose number, with its very loose-fitting, dropped waist and unfitted bodice is my tribute to the 1920's resort of Deauville, using Burda's Easy March 2020, 4C. The only challenge of this model was to match up the stripes and reverse the given layout for the more interesting horizon/vertical effect of the stripes.

The second dress, Burda Style's 6-2020-118, is my tribute to a 1940's tea dress, with its chintzy viscose print, fitted waistband, and slightly puffed shoulder seam. To mature this wrap dress a little for a woman my age, I finished the lower edge of the sleeve without the gathered puff. The construction of this design's waist band extending into ties turned out to be a bit of a puzzle. I had to take it slowly, and translate Burda's cryptic instructions from the French into English with an uncharacteristic level of attention. Their construction of what should have been a straightforward collar was also odd and I ended up just reverting to what I was used to doing with similar collars, using a technique from a book of couture shortcuts.

My third 'croquet dress' is a rip-off of the Pretty Woman polka dot dress, done in a lively red viscose.

This is a beast of a skirt to hem, as the skirt pieces are cut on the bias, but the result gives a really lovely flow. I skipped the slit cut at the back neckline as I found this construction cheaply designed, without a center seam and in the end, unnecessary. The dress slips over your head without any special opening at the back.
This was the featured cover dress of the April 2020 Burda which included a wonderful tribute to memorable dresses from Hollywood, including Julia Roberts' brown version in Pretty Woman. I love the rare occasions when Burda does this.

The Russian cover for the same Burda Style April edition featured Grace Kelly's outfit by the wonderful Edith Head from Rear Window. But notice that Grace's version, in an expensive silk faille? or taffeta? has been carefully lined, while the Burda version isn't. I'd add a lining for more elegance.

CONFINEMENT SEWING, PART I Rescuing the 'Epic Fail' blue linen jumpsuit and a new white Burda Easy Japanese workshirt in broderie Anglaise cotton.

As the late, great Alan Rickman says in the comic film, Galaxy Quest, 'Never Give Up, Never Surrender!'

Remember the 'Epic Fail' blue linen jumpsuit on which I spent so much money for high-quality imported linen, only to end up with a baggy, crumply mess I wore only once, to the Verbier Music Festival when our Fiddlerkid was performing? (below) The Burda Style pattern featured a very long torso and the design was suitable only to Burda's choice of a satiny, drapey fabric that settled discreetly over the elasticated waist. My quality linen puffed out too much.

The waste of such good fabric hurt my heart. I finally bit the bullet and ripped out the waist seam and made a very serviceable work shirt and pair of pull-on pants that I've been actually getting wear out of all summer. Here's my new rescue version, cut in half.

The new white wrap shirt above is a second version of the Burda Easy Japanese workshirt I already blogged, below, (this time without the sleeves.) The white version is a direct copy of the model featured on the cover of that edition of Burda Easy,

which is why I fell in love with the pattern in the first place. Because of its tight wrap effect at the waist, I can get away with a pretty unexciting elasticated waist from the jumpsuit as it was.

The blue ruffled shirt below also covers the 'sin' of the elasticated waistband and is Burda Style 3-2019-111, also blogged before.

My revised, rescued linen shirt goes well with my hardworking jean skirt constructed as learned in Berkeley in 1970. (Vaccuum not included.) Here the excess fabric that ruined the drape of the jumpsuit bodice turned out to give me enough shirttail to tuck it into a belted bottom. 


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 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 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!