I mentioned that I have a stack of Burda magazines last week, and to date, I haven’t tried a single pattern from them, though I’m constantly entertained by the extreme level of styling hits and misses.
You’d think that someone so used to Japanese patterns would find Burda to be no sweat, but the way they cram those pattern pieces onto one sheet of paper is no joke. I got a sense of what other people must feel like when attempting Japanese patterns without any familiarity with the language. I hunted down the green lines that I needed and found myself asking, “Where’s the grainline arrow? Which is the front/back side? Is that Russian?” — I had so many questions… So I eased myself in with a very simple batwing knit top pattern (#113 from the September 2013 issue). It requires only three pattern pieces (technically two, since you’re supposed to “glue” together two pattern pieces. I used tape).
I love batwing aka dolman sleeve tops. I never left the eighties apparently, and I’m all about drapey, easy clothes and I’ve lost count of the number of tops and sweaters with these roomy sleeves I own. I sacrificed a thin-striped jersey knit that feels like a rayon/cotton blend for my Burda experiment, and I actually modified the pattern here and there to make it more to my liking.
1. I reduced the seam allowance to 3/8 inch instead of 5/8 – that’s my Japanese pattern training rearing its head.
2. I added a folded band at the bottom instead of hemming it. This is my favorite way of finishing knits.
3. I added a neck band cut on the bias, and reinforced it with topstitching. Judging from the photo, they used a different binding method from the one I did.
It’s a little big – I cut size 40 based on the measurements, but I might’ve been able to get away with a 36 due to the stretchiness of the knit. Still, it’s the kind of top that I’ll reach for time and time again. Navy and white stripes + Dolman Sleeves = Love.
The pants have been in the making for several months. Like many women, I’m a huge Audrey Hepburn fan and have always wanted an expertly tailored crisp white shirt and black cigarette pants. The Colette Clover pants pattern seemed to be the answer to my sartorial yearnings. So earlier in the summer, I made a muslin out of a hideous blue and gold fabric because I’d read about how challenging it is to get pants to fit right and sure enough, it was too, too large. I wadded it up, tossed it somewhere and promptly forgot about it.
The flowy top needed a more fitted bottom, so I unearthed the Clover pattern, trimmed it down a size, and happily discovered a large amount of black denim in my stash. In retrospect, I think the fabric may have been a little too thick to provide the slim silhouette I craved, but I was surprised that with very little modifications, the size 8 fit me so well. I suppose I could have slimmed down the thigh area a bit (I had to reduce the seam allowance to accommodate my not-slim calves), but the waist through hip is nearly perfect. My invisible zipper sticks a touch, but this too was fairly painless, and the pants came together quickly.
Yep, your basic black cropped pants. Much like Oliver + S patterns, Colette patterns offer up a wealth of sewing tips and tricks, which I adore. The polar opposite of the Burda sewing experience, I’m inclined to say.
The requisite scarf styling:
This is pretty much my uniform — stripey top, slim-fitting pants, scarf. Maybe I’ll make a few dozen more batwing tops and Clover pants! I definitely want to make a pair with the longer length. And oh, I haven’t forgotten my pledge to sew more from Japanese pattern books. I have one cut out but didn’t have time to finish it up for this week, but next week or the week after is looking promising…