Wednesday 25 November 2015

In the meantime, here's January Burda!!!

I realized my coat pattern was still not completely traced after sitting on the library table for over a month. I feel like I've been swimming through Jello.
Got depressed when I saw that the coat style I wanted and was tracing was for sale in the shops for only 179 francs, which is not that much when the fabric I want isn't even available and would cost almost as much here in Switzerland even if I could find it.
We persevere.
Meanwhile, here is Burda bashing already into the new year with these designs for January! I've never felt so backlogged with sewing ideas, no time and no fabric!

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Babies just ready for winter and the Best Baby Sweater in the World is at Work!

One of the payoffs of whipping up Elizabeth Zimmerman's famous
baby sweater is getting those photos back within a few months as winter starts to close in. Again, I recommend this pattern as incredibly fast and clever, since the lace pattern allows the sweater to expand as the baby grows for up to six months. But as you can see, some of the mums in my extended family put the sweater on many weeks too early, hence all the happily rolled up sleeves.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Tracing coats, but can't find fabric!

I wonder if there is a fabric market more frustrating than that of Switzerland. The customs people make it impossible for you to import from online suppliers with their ridiculous tax markups collected by the postman on your doorstep, while the local fabric store, count 'em! one!, within reach keeps stocking nothing that I want.

Navy coating in wool? Black/white boucle?
Forget it.

So I've traced two long coats from the October and November Burdas and am still hunting for the right fabrics.

Meanwhile, here is December Burda, thanks to the Russians. Their usual 'sage' Christmas dresses for family lunch, and one nice duffel coat. But as I said, looking for the right coating around here is not encouraging as it is!

Thursday 24 September 2015

Burda November 2015, technical drawing preview, any thoughts?

I keep promising that come evening, I will  trace the oversized man's coat in the October Burda for a nubbly tweed version  but then I get tired, I haven't done enough writing to reward myself with a relaxing sewing task, I think, 'tomorrow,' and already that blasted Russian Burda site has popped up with the November designs. Gawd, I can't keep up! I haven't even shown you the one-sleeved black ponte knit sheath I wore last summer to my violinist kid's performances at the Verbier Festival. Woohoo, that was a high!
Here you go, below. Any thoughts? At first glance, I'm finding the November items a little dowdy. Persuade me.  I'm missing something, I'm sure.
And they're getting too much mileage, I fear, out of a few designs this month. One pair of appalling trousers. One coat four ways? The same one-shouldered sheath we had a couple of summers ago. Some 'party frock' out of 1952. And I've done a nice black cape already… so… I will do that October boyfriend coat…soon.

Thursday 3 September 2015

Revisiting BurdaStyle's Greek Tunic T-shirt Dress, 5-2010-105 a fave redone in a blood red version for autumn

It seems that this season I've experimented with strange shapes in white blouses for an avant garde foray and then retreated into some TNT looks that I know will stand the test of time, e.g a grandfather shirt in a sky blue cotton,  a white canvas pencil skirt, and white canvas slacks for summer.

There's another thing I reach for a lot—this 'Greek draped' T-shirt dress, Burda 5-2010-105. Here's a dark red version I just stitched up a few weeks ago (yes, Allison! Great minds…) and the French blue version worn below by my daughter, (hiked up to a shocking mini-length the way she prefers.)
On me, and worn at its knee length, this dress manages to look dressed and casual all at the same time, depending on shoes, scarf or necklace. I was intending to make a second in black viscose jersey to add to my collection of black knit dresses, then changed my mind when I stumbled on this blood-red in our only fabric store within reach. (Shaaaaame, Switzerland!)

When I saw a necklace with dark red beads and jet black crystals in a shop next door, the 'look' just leapt out at me, and I was raring to go.
This is a one-day sew, I promise.

Monday 17 August 2015

October Burda technical drawings! Sorry, bikini-clad vacationers, get out your pumpkins already!

I guess the Russians are just that much keener to get on with their coats and who can blame them? So here is the Russian preview of Burda October, and I must say, there are two choice overcoats there, as well as some other interesting items. But hey, I haven't finished my August sunbathing yet!

Friday 14 August 2015

Protest! No, Zara, no, no, no, you poor dears. Wrong, wrong, wrong, THIS is a 'Vintage Style' Denim Skirt

Sometimes the youngsters just get it wrong, the poor little dears. I was there, in poyson—Joan Baez concerts, Berkeley demos, anti-Vietnam War marches on San Franciso, sit-ins against the bombing of Laos and Cambodia—and what Zara is advertising this season for some 40 Swiss smackers as a 'vintage' jeans skirt (see last photos) was not what we were wearing out on the streets.
You know why yours are not 'vintage' style jean skirts, Zara? Because we made our skirts from worn out jeans, and THIS is what we got. Protesting for you young'uns, I sewed one up last night to demonstrate, peacefully. What a nostalgia trip for me, but someone had to waste a few hours at her machine for the sake of garment history.
Notice what separates the true guerillas from the Zara suburban wannabe's?—not just the soft, worn uneven denim, acquired from hours of sit-ins, but also the signature inserted gore rescued from the leftover legs, the telltale pointed jog at the front and back where the leg piece was laid over the gore and the very essential not-quite-even hemline. (Ours were made on the floor of commune living rooms or in dorms on campus, not factories in Asia.)

Here are some other authentic 'wow's' from the web.

Now that I myself am vintage, I'm happy to see a great look return. But Zara, please learn Recycling Fashion from true vets of the sewing wars.
 Yours, Zara, are not 'vintage' jeans skirts or even 'vintage style.' They're sad, spanking new A-line denim skirts, period. Go golfing in it, or maybe devise a new software program in it.
But please refrain from false advertising, Zara. Or I will do my Joni Mitchell imitation outside your shop in protest. That'll give your buyers pause indeed.

Saturday 25 July 2015

Back to Basics, why not Summer Ralph Lauren Whites? Burda's jeans skirt model 2-2014-109

At the end of the day, (actually at the beginning of the day, but let's not get technical) I spend a lot of my working time alone at my desk. There is no wardrobe regime for this but Shower and Show Self-Respect. During the winter my 'uniform' often ends up whatever sweater suits me on a black bottom—skirt or trousers. That's why a lot of my sewing is for the evening concerts we attend in Geneva.

I'm getting a little long in the tooth to realize so late that neutral bottoms are also a summer solution, in reverse. I love white pants or a skirt with an interesting top, it's looks so classic, so Ralph Lauren-on-Long Island. Okay. Why don't I have a whole slew of white bottoms in my separates closet? I can sew, can't I?

Sadly, the two pairs of Burda jeans I so lovingly sewed in 2010 are now way too tight for me. Sadly, because I worked hard on them, but also sadly because the 20 pounds of weight I had lost in 2009 was from life-changing/ life-saving surgery/illness/treatment.

I am no longer a size 40 at the hips, but back to the 'let's call it 44', (but at least I'm here to tell the tale, so end of sad and thanks to my doctors, again.)

But also end of Burda 2010 white jeans. I still have one nice pair of 44 white linen trousers from Promod, (I'm wearing them in my previous post about the Philip Lim silk top sewing and dyeing debacle) but only one white bottom, a jeans skirt, that I really love for everyday.

So I pulled out a TnT slacks pattern, Burda 108B-8-2010 (or wearing my khaki version in the Croatian airport here: and some really, really cheap, heavy white IKEA cotton and went to work.

This is the third time for this basic pattern. IKEA's twill or 'serge'  is 100% cotton with no stretch, so they're not quite great, but they will soften with washing and at least they are white, basic, and long enough. (I have a very long inseam, so I lengthened size 42-44 by 4 cm.)

I also realized my favorite A-line white jeans skirt (from a grocery chain rack!) here,

was just not quite right. Good for making breakfast. Good for going to the post office. Good for the endless and complicated rubbish recycling tasks required by Swiss ecology laws. But at my age, (see photo above) this size 42 is a trifle too short, a trifle too jeansy for a silk shirt with that silver button, too loose in the waist at the back, and yet too tight at the hips, witness the wrinkles. (okay, I'm actually a size 45.) I'm constantly yanking it down over my hips whenever I stand up.

So I reached for my bulging ringbinder of photocopies of all of Burda's technical diagrams since 2008 and found two possibles, ending up with this one, 2-2014-109
 which is the most 'lady-like' of the three options and used in the magazine as the bottom of a jacquard skirt suit. The other options are a ripped up denim number and a safari style with cargo pockets. I traced all three variations, just in case. This looked like becoming something of a sloper for me.

 Here's the result, a true 41-45. I compromised with single top-stitching down the front for durability and along the back yoke seams and pocket edges but no contrast double-stitching jeans-style.

I'm still interested in Burda's 'Romy Schneider model,' above, from another issue, which is even more elegant and anA-line like my beloved grocery shop number. I may still do that one, too, again for mere pennies in white IKEA twill. 

Anyway, for the moment, I've got my Ralph Lauren look down, and might now make one or two more. Total cost about 5 bucks each for the trousers and skirt because I'm using recycled zippers from my stash.

Friday 24 July 2015

Bellbottom culottes, even culottes, again?

I want to stop you all right where you are, right now, just stop.
The UK's Guardian newspaper today is touting linen culottes as the best outfit for a day at the office when you'd rather be at the beach—far better than a beachy outfit that just looks pathetic and wistful or a tight sheath that is office appropriate but too tight and hot.
So the fashion editor models her outfit du choix:
Okay, it's neat and cool looking, especially if you go to the site where it's sold and see the cool cutout back: 
which is actually a bit dorky put together like that, whaaat those bell-bottom culottes!!! But after my outsized Solange Knowles outing (see review below) I'm catching on that wide and dorky is cool this season. This outfit makes you look like an extra in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

But wait, that's not my point. My point is that this linen outfit, which is hardly something you're going to be wearing as often as your favorite jeans, costs, (drumroll.....) a total of 540 pounds sterling. (837 US dollars or 1150 Australian dollars or...) well you get my point now, don't you?

Culottes come and go. I'm old enough to know this, trust me. They're cool now but, no, not that cool. Not unless you're already somewhere in Nice on your yacht. In which case, you've worn culottes out and have moved on to...I don't know.

I suppose that there are a number of fashion generations separating my last culotte outing and today's version.
We sewists wore them back in 1977, when Vogue gave us Christian Aujard, Yves St Laurent, Ralph Lauren, Givenchy and Dior.
Christian Aujard...those were the days.

Now Donna Karan has given us a fantastic look, but I can't quite call her baggy creation above 'culottes',  while Burda went with something much closer to a skirt silhouette for March and something identical for April. Compare this model

with these appearing in April's issue. Is there any difference? 

However, there seems to be a significant difference between the DK trouser-like silhouette and the wider, skirt-like Burda offering. Or is it just that Karan used a heavy silk-like fabric with soft drape versus Burda's cottons with more body?

Meanwhile there's a quickie version without the elegant Karan waistband for cheaters, below in sequins from Burda Dec 2014.

Anyway, sew some culottes. Or don't. But please, don't drop a lot of money you'll never see again. That's why we sew.

September 2015 Burda You're broiling, right? but Moscow and Munich are gearing up for autumn

Just when you thought it was safe to go outside...ha ha... and maybe even sew up some culottes from the summer Burdas for that August barbecue, the Burda people gotcha! You are toooooo late. Soooo behind.

It's time for September sewing!!
September sewing?
Yikes! I just mastered my 'Croquet Margaritas' recipe and bought a new glass pitcher to serve them in.

Well, as these previews are from the Russian site, we can forgive the autumnal nipping at our heat-wave'd sewing sneakers. Maybe it's getting chilly in Moscow or something...Or those Oktober Fest Heidi's want a head start on their costumes up in Munich. I'm afraid after some great spring and summer issues, the 'normal clothes' seem a little meh, while the obligatory annual nod to the beer garden crowd gets more kitschy every year, but then, I have no yodelling dates on my calendar.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Kenzo blouse/shirt Burda February 2015

Here's my take on the February 2015 Burda modified knock-off of the Kenzo SS 2015 runway model.

(This is the last of my three summer shirts. I wore the 'boy shirt' with back pleats, now stitched down at the waist, to a rehearsal at the Verbier Music Festival yesterday. The run-through was in the village school gym, where the astounding Russian maestro Valery Gergiev was training up the VF orchestra including my fiddler kid lost in the Forest of Bows.

But after two hours of Tchaikovsky in blistering morning heat, I stood up with a crumpled and miserable mess at my back where the pleats had been. Still don't get that design...)

This, on the other hand, was fun to sew, shaping from shoulder 38 to 41 waist, and even more fun to wear, in a modified broderie anglaise fabric approximating the Kenzo look. It's a cotton-poly mix that doesn't crumple like the broadcloth.

Only one thing, I just can't button my shirts up to the neck. I guess this is a generational thing, but I. just. can't.