Friday 28 October 2011

Oh my God, speaking of the ruffled blouse I just sewed-on Hillary Clinton?

I guess this week's TIME cover puts paid to my "fluffy Aurora" worries about sewing the exact same style blouse. Certainly this is a great way to see how it would look in white silk. Thanks, Madame Secretary! (Do you think her dressmaker reads Burda?)

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Burda blouse 121 October 2011, much easier than it looks

Just turned in the latest domestic comic novel, in the same vein as A Visit From Voltaire, to my literary agent in London.  It's been a very productive summer (working with publishers to re-edit/digitalize three mysteries and the Voltaire comedy into e-books was very time-consuming) but partly because with my husband in hospital most of the year, it was very quiet for me at home between daily clinic visits.

I'm thrilled to report he's finally back on his feet and we're really enjoying our hard-won time together.
Facing an uncertain future with him so ill, my sewing mojo dropped pretty sharply over the summer, but against all the odds, we now have the chance to look forward to a busy autumn of MET opera transmissions, live concerts and even a little trip to England in a few weeks, instead of me finishing the year alone. Prayers answered! So here's a post along the lines of Ageing Love.
They say this is the season for ruffles, but as I sewed this up, using the last of the Indian silks from my son's Calcutta summer adventure, I couldn't help worrying that I was veering into Aurora territory. Terms of Endearment  is one of my favourite movies, but certainly not because the feisty Aurora is anybody's style icon, even when you're close to her age. In fact, her uptight fluffy fussiness as she relaunches herself into romantic and sexual adventure is one of the comic counterpoints to beau Garrett's sexy "relax, Aurora," astronaut. Still, I think under a black tuxedo jacket, I could just carry it off.

Nevertheless, this very romantic blouse is temptingly easy and quick to sew. I mean, the finished product looks like a bigger deal than it is, but there is absolutely nothing technically difficult about it, not even interfacing required on the blouse version, nor cuffs/button/buttonholes. (There are also two dress-length versions without the ruffling. I expect you could even do the full-length dress with ruffling in chiffon as a peignoir for a knock-em-dead New-Year's-Eve-for-two outfit. I will not be responsible for the outcome of such an assignation. Remember my mother's sage advice, "Never drink more than two martinis with a man you're not engaged to." Yup, my mom was the original Aurora!)

All you need is the patience to machine hem and re-hem ruffles and hems and long edges. I used a French seam on the body sides and shoulders, and zigzagged the raw edges of the sleeve seam, and skipped the body darts for a soft and flowing look. I'm sure the front and back darts would, however, be advisable, if your fabric has more body, e.g. a taffeta or cotton.

This item will travel, along with the paisley blouse posted earlier, to a November concert conducted by son at Cambridge followed by a day in London with the elder and youngest kids, at UCL and the LSE. I mean, if someone brings you silk from India, the least you can do is show up wearing it!

But for now, I think, what with the royal blue satin ruffled blouse, the navy polka dot sleeveless ruffled blouse and this one, I'm set for the season as far as blue ruffles are concerned. I also counted some five "tie" blouses in my collection going over the years, so that's done, too.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Burda, I apologize, November issue


OKAY, Burda, I apologize. I am bowled over by your November issue in full, all laughing at naked smokin' TV presenters aside. I especially love the Red Feature that opens the Russian preview. I mean, wow!
If I hadn't sewn a red coat last year (see review archived below) I would be sewing up that duffel coat NOW! But look at this gorgeous, body-fitting red dress with the ruffle down its mid-seam, also shown later in black and impossible to make out in their own photos.
And finally, the beautiful fitted brocade jacket for tall sizes. I find it peculiar that the photographer of this issue systematically obscured the clothes, so that only when you look at the line drawings, is it obvious that these are great designs.

They also have a super glam evening dress, a rocking brocade jacket and finally, because they really don't want us to stop laughing, what I will dub the Pencil-Holder Dress. Make it, somebody, please!

Saturday 8 October 2011

The Burda October tie blouse 128a, pros and cons

When the eldest child returned from auditing an oncology unit in Calcutta (this with a degree in history, go figure!) he brought back presents for the whole family and of course, knew exactly what would make his Mom happy. This teal and tobacco paisley pure silk was perfect for one of the new (actually classic) tie front blouses. 
The pattern has one strange feature, a serious drop shoulder seam, which I didn't expect and actually discovered only when I returned to the technical drawing after sewing the blouse:

I cut a 38 in the neckline down to a 43 at the hips. The only thing I think I'll change the next time I sew this up, and I intend to, is to interface the front facing which is a bit softer than I'd like. As the blouse is so soft a look anyway, it's not really an issue.
I used two gold "Chanel" buttons on the cuffs. The whole project took only a few hours of straight stitching and a few hand finishes at the interior of the collar and the shirt cuffs.

I'm tying the bow a little lower  than Burda's technical drawing above, (in the mag, they show it tied and untied in different versions) as they're showing it lower and less perky in the fashion mags this season You can take this "lady" look too far and with the kitten bowtie, you might up like you're about to take dictation (does anybody do that anymore?) or check out somebody's library books for them.

I'm going for "Lady Louche,"not Miss Marple!

Thursday 6 October 2011

Burda loses the plot, November issue

I thought today I'd be showing you my finished Burda tie blouse but I still have to finish the cuffs. Maybe later. I lost many days editing my latest domestic comic novel about a heartbroken librarian fighting to get back her man, a BBC TV producer, by secretly studying Sun Tzu's Art of War and the ancient Chinese "Thirty-six Stratagems' to be published soon. Look out for lots of sage advice for the lovelorn in a hilarious narrative set in London.

Back to the blouse. I love it and I'm going to wear it tomorrow hosting friends for dinner.  Overall, it's such a simple pattern that I thought anyone looking at the similar recently-released Vogue blouse should ask themselves if they really need four extra seams and buttons and buttonholes when you get the same look in half the time from Burda?

But instead of the blouse, I just had to share this photo with you from the new Burda November issue, (above) wherein, I fear, the Burda people have lost the plot.
Apart from the fact that the model is naked and just holding the dress to her stomach, so we can't really see how it looks on her generous curves, she's smoking to beat the band. She's what my husband calls "envelopée" by which he means fat (and this is not a "plus" dress.)
 It's as if there was some kind of collective nervous breakdown at the Burda studios on shoot day. Or a heatwave.
In a weird way, I love it.
The pressure was on, obviously, during this shoot to get this model into the clothes. Here they are, applauding themselves for squeezing her into this dress, (above.) I fear, friends, we're being sold the "Anita Ekberg" look, which lives on in the collective German imagination, and for good reason:

I see very little in this issue to applaud, especially after their super October offering, with so many classy blouses and dresses. But here's an item that appeals to me, someone who is always tying her cardigan around her hips.

Okay, okay, I'll finish the blouse.

Oops! German reader Uta sets me straight. We're not looking at a model up top, but one Barbara Schöneberger, a huge German television star. As Uta says, another example, like Carnival and Oktoberfest special editions, of an insider view Burda's domestic readers will appreciate better than us outside Germany. 
I'm very grateful to Uta for letting us know that, in fact, in her own clothing, Barbara does not look fat. I hope her libel lawyers appreciate the bold emphasis. And I agree with Uta that it's nice to see normal women featured in fashion or sewing mags.
Meanwhile, neither Uta nor I get the smoking angle.