Birthday Culottes

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Hello everyone!  Yes, I am still around, and even still sewing.  I’ve built up quite a backlog of projects that need time and photos to blog and am hoping this project will be the spark needed to get the rest done.

This was the one I really wasn’t sure of at first.  I’d hauled the fabric out of the stash at some point in February, originally to offer to a friend to use for a dress to wear to a 20s themed work do.  But she never got to see it.  Daughter No1 patted it and cast many admiring glances at it while it was draped over my dressmakers dummy.  She wondered if it would make a pair of palazzo pants, 90s style.  After rejecting quite a few patterns, because they were too long and too wide, I wondered if culottes were more what she had in mind.  She looked at some of the offerings from the independent pattern companies online but none ticked the boxes properly.

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Culottes 104 February 2017

Cue the Burda magazine.  I suddenly remembered that the February issue had some cropped wider legged trousers.  Wouldn’t you believe it, she declared they were the ones to try!  The pattern is available to download from Burdastyle (click the link below the picture) if you don’t have the magazine.  I traced the 36 and graded down a size to a 34 from waist to hip.  Daughter No1 is very slim and this was no guarantee that the pattern would fit.  I also needed to shorten the pattern to make it suitable for petite people.  Originally I followed the Burdastyle guidelines, 0.5cm in the crotch depth, 1cm between the hip and the knee and 1.5cm between the knee line and the hem.  The other change was to omit the fly zip – purely because of the fabric – and go for an invisible side zip instead.  She didn’t want the tie or belt loops either.  Maybe next time..

The toile revealed I needed to remove an extra 6cm from around the waist, grading to the original seamline by the hipline.  The crotch depth also needed to be reduced by another 1cm and the overall length needed to be 5cm shorter.  I didn’t want to toile again, so pinned everything together in the paper and we checked again.  All signs were positive, so I proceeded to figure out how I was going to cut this odd fabric.

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Black chiffon with bias cut strips sewn on randomly

I placed the hip yoke pocket pieces in areas where there were fewer strips and just had to use the rest of the fabric for the trouser pieces.  There wasn’t quite as much fabric as I had thought so it was just as well that the pattern had had to be shortened!  I tried to make sure the strips weren’t caught awkwardly in the side seams when I started construction.  I used a black satin lining fabric for the pocket lining pieces and the facing pieces.  To support the side zip opening and pocket openings in this fine fabric, a strip of black fine sheer interfacing was fused to the edges.  This interfacing was also used on the facings.  It was decided to construct the culottes with the overlocker as much as possible, the fabric was just too keen on fraying.

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My table and floor looked like I’d sacrificed a blackbird to the sewing gods.

The construction of the culottes is simple, and even with this fabric, the putting together was quick.  There is no lining.  Daughter No1 wanted to wear the culottes with cropped leggings underneath.  So much time saved!  The hem was double turned and handsewn.  While the needle was in my hand I used a few small neat stitches to keep the floppy strips away from the zip seam.  Once done Daughter No1 put them on and we chose which of the strips needed to be removed (placement issues) or shortened.

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So where are these fab culottes going to be worn?  Daughter No1 has now officially moved out of our family home and into the new flat with her partner, who is taking her to Prague for her birthday at the end of the month.  She wanted something a little different to wear out in the evening.  I’m looking forward to pictures of Prague!!

Here are a few detailed shots of the culottes.

Daughter No 1 is pretty chuffed with her new evening trousers, and capitalising on this success, I’m going to make her another pair using a fabric I bought in South Africa last year. The fabric is a black and white elephant print viscose, but I’ve also got  a cream coloured cotton sateen from Croft Mill Fabrics, also bought last year that would look good in this pattern.  I’m determined to continue to shop my stash at every opportunity this year.

 

 

 

And it’s January again

The roundabout never stops!  Here we go again, another year, another January and another “oops, I’ve not blogged for ages and there’s stuff to show off but….”

Hopefully something resembling “normal service” will resume soon, but I wouldn’t count on it!  Last year passed in somewhat of a whirlwind with Autumn disappearing on me completely due to my extended stay in the Southern hemisphere.  I’m still working on issues that have arisen from that trip, which partly explains the lack of posting – and the complete lack of sewing.  It’s just about 3 weeks into the new year and I’ve finished nothing sewing related.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a pile of fabric and patterns waiting for me, just the inspiration to get going and the time to fit it in around what I brought back with me.  I’m hoping to achieve some sort of balance soon so the sewing can resume, especially as I have just taken on a new project.

I’ve joined the volunteer costume making team at Anne Hathaway’s cottage – she being the wife of a certain Mr William Shakespeare.  I’m quite excited to get cracking on making things I’ve always wanted to make, but had absolutely no practical reason to do so!  I’ve started a new Pinterest board to collect ideas, dug out my historical costume pattern cutting books and ordered a couple of new ones.  I’ll be focussing on menswear first, but need to make a couple of 18th century ladies outfits too.  Any pointers greatfully received!!

One garment I did manage to finish last year after I got back was a pretty, softly draping viscose blouse for my Aunt in Cape Town.  I used Tunic 107 from the April 2016 Burdastyle magazine, mostly because I had it with me in South Africa, hoping to make a pair or two of the wide legged trousers in the same issue!  The fabric is lovely, a pretty floral print with contrast border that worked perfectly for the collar, sleeve bands and neckline treatment.  It meant I didn’t have to go looking for something else and all the colours worked well together already.  I cut it out there, but got nowhere with making it up until I’d got back.

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Tunic 107 Burdastyle April 2016

I made a narrow shoulder adjustment but otherwise cut a straight 38.  It went together really well, French seams used throughout.  I’m tempted to make one for myself if I can bear to add more fabric to the piles on the cutting table!

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I raised the point at which the front sections are sewn together by about 5-6 cm

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I love the neat little sleevebands

The reason I had that April Burdastyle in South Africa was so that I could run up a pair of viscose trousers before the weather got too hot.  I made it by days..  I’d taken the fabric with me, cut but no further along, and it took ages for me to find the time to get stuck in and sew.  Eventually I got them finished, and it really was in the nick of time.  I love how they swish softly around my ankles and they were perfect in the hot weather.  So good in fact, that I popped into a local fabric store and bought another couple of metres of border printed viscose and made another.

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Trousers 106 Burdastyle April 2016

The first pair were fully French seamed, this time I threw that all out of the window.  The linen trousers I’d brought from the UK were too thick to cope in the developing humidity and speed was of the essence.  A simple zigzag finish did the job and I managed to finish the second pair in a few late nights – desperation!!  I think I might love the second pair more than the first, although you’ll have to wait for the summer later this year to see proper photos.

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Measuring the hem very carefully!
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Happy that the pattern lined up well around the leg
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Loving being comfy and cool in my new trousers

So now I need some oompfh and inspiration to make a dent in the two piles currently awaiting my attention on the cutting table.  Hoping you’re all sewing much faster than me this new year.

Sewing at the Seaside

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Sunset from my bedroom window

I’ve managed a little sewing between sorting out my parents, their house, business and lives in general, not to mention looking after the invalid. (That’s my new name for Mum, please, don’t tell her)  Things were going swimmingly with the double hip replacement until her x-rays before her 4 week check up when a break in her femur was discovered!  So she was whisked back into hospital immediately and underwent surgery for a third replacement!!  So we’ve had a bit of a setback and my return home has been delayed by 4 weeks.

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Top 1, navy and white hibiscus print

I think the parents felt a little bad, so Dad offered to be carer for a Saturday morning, leaving me a little “me time” to get some sewing in, or whatever I fancied.  So I used the time to finish two tops I’d cut out for Mum.  This is a stashbust x2.  I brought over a really pretty Rose & Hubble rose print cotton which I thought she’d like in her favourite pattern for tops, Burdastyle top 134 from March 2004 magazine.  She had a couple of fabrics to use up too, so I picked out a navy and white mystery fibre content hibiscus print. (I’m pretty sure it’s 100% polyester, but she loves it).

The only issue I had was with the cotton.  The print wasn’t on grain so the roses, which should have been printed on the bias, don’t run straight down the top.  This is one of those situations when grain definitely has to trump print!!  But now I know why the fabric was less expensive than it should have been…

The top is so quick to put together, and all pieces are bias cut.  A little time was wasted trying to get to grips with Mum’s sewing machine, it doesn’t behave quite like mine do, but I wasn’t going to waste more time working out the overlocker.  The last three tops I made for her I ran up on my overlocker at home.  Boy do they get made quickly like that!!  The original pattern has raw edges on all hems and around the neckline, but Mum isn’t a fan of that unfinished look so I added 1cm hems and bound the neckline with self bias double folded.

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Top 2, rose print blue and ecru cotton

Both tops are a hit and now I have a bit of sewjo back.  I brought over a pair of trousers I’d cut at home but run out of time to sew up before heading over.  The pattern is 106 from Burdastyle April 2016.  I loved it from the moment I saw it and bought metres and metres of border print viscose when I was in South Africa back in April/May to make a few pairs.  Needless to say, I never got round to using that stuff up at all, until now.  So on my sewing table at the moment is a half finished pair of viscose trousers that I’m very keen on finishing this weekend!  If I don’t get digging in the garden again….

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Making the back garden pretty and cared for again.

BTW, Mum is getting better.  Although it’s quite literally, one step at a time.  Recovering from the operation is one thing, but a broken leg takes it to a new level.  Thankfully neither us has run out of patience just yet and we’re getting through her stash of wool quite nicely too!  Soon we’ll have empty yarn boxes to throw out and piles of crochet granny squares to donate to the local craft charity.

Sewing Sleepwear

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Burdastyle pyjama top and self drafted shorts

Sleepwear is not something I make special plans to sew.  In fact, the last time sleepwear or PJs were made was for Karen’s Pyjama Party back in 2013!  The last theme on the Sewalongs and Sewing Contests Facebook Group was sleepwear.  To enter you had to make at least 6 items, not necessarily for one person.  You’ve already seen the kimono I made, so here are the rest of the items.  I used all fabrics from the sash, including trims and buttons.

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Starting with a pair of pyjamas for Daughter No2.  The fabric is a very cute Paris print cotton sent to me by a friend in the States.  She chose a pattern for the top from the December 2014 Burdastyle magazine, number 133.  It’s a short sleeve top with a deep pleat in the centre back to create a swing back shape.  There are 3 patch pockets on front.  I used the overlocker for making the pjs, it needed to be a fairly quick make.

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Pyjama details

I had hoped to make the cropped trousers from the same magazine, but there wasn’t enough fabric.  Instead I drafted a pair of shorts with elasticated waist and shaped hem.  Hopefully I will come across some plain blue or possibly lime green fabric to use for the pj trousers later on.  Daughter no2 loves the finished pjs, and thinks the top can be made for day wear too…

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Sleep masks, just because…

I even made a couple of sleep masks!  The shape and size was just guessed at.  The outside of daughter no2’s mask is cut with the little Parisian cafe tables featuring nicely.  It’s padded with a bit of left over polar fleece and lined with blue stripe cotton from one of the other half’s shirts!  I dug out the cute turquoise circle print bias binding for the edges and cut more of the stripe cotton on the bias for the casing for the elastic.  I made one for me too!  The front is the same fabric as used for the kimono, padded with more of the polar fleece and lined with the same stripe cotton shirting as daughter no2’s mask.  I found some pre-cut strips of chartreuse satin lining to use for binding the edges.  It looks great against the blue.

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The best part of the print was used for the sleep mask. She can drift off dreaming of eating pastries on a Parisian pavement.

Next on the cards was a new gown for Daughter No1.  She feels the cold easily and usually spends winter days layered in numerous jumpers, socks and a blanket or two – inside and with the heating on!  Shopping the stash again, we chose a grey brushed flannel plaid.  It’s lovely and snuggly!  I used a Burda pattern, 2661, that I’ve had for ages!

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Burda in cotton flannel

Making the 16 (it’s a kid’s pattern) we made the full lengthgown with shawl collar.  Daughter No1 is petite but she wanted the gown to almost be floor length, so I didn’t shorten it.  She recons it’s better to get wrapped up in that way.  How I managed to get all the plaid lined up is still a miracle! The piece of fabric must have been about 4m long, but narrow.  So the pattern pieces needed to be paid one below the other on a very long piece of floor.  Which I don’t have.  It made for interesting cutting out!  The overlocker was used for this project, no faffing around with seperately stitching the seams and treating the raw edges.

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Her favourite parts?  The deep patch pockets that hold her mobile phone and a few snacks with ease.  The shawl collar can be turned up to wrap around the neck and keep the chill out.  This is going to be so very well used this coming winter!

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Long and warm!

So that’s pjs all done for a little while.  I’ve got a couple of dresses to show off, but am still awaiting photos.  With the weather changing now and becoming a little more autumnal, I think the wait for photos of summer dresses might be a long one.  I might just have to use the few photos I took before delivering the dresses to their new owners.

Washed Linen Trousers

Another pair of linen trousers in my favourite Burdastyle pattern
Another pair of linen trousers in my favourite Burdastyle pattern

I love this fabric!!  It’s a charcoal and off white marl linen, of decent weight that I got from the NEC back in March.  I love the result of pairing this fabric with this particular pattern too.  The tee is the grey viscose from a couple of posts back and both items have been worn a few times on holiday.

P1140388-1There really isn’t much to say about these that I haven’t said about the pattern loads of times before!  The fabric wasn’t tricky to work with, definitely needed to be overlocked as soon as it was cut and I made sure to staystitch the upper edge while working with it to prevent stretching out.

P1140404-1P1140395-1Loving it with all shoes too! 🙂

Collage grey linenP1140407-1On a slightly sad note, those beautiful natural coloured herringbone linen trousers I posted about here, are no longer wearable. 😦  I wore them on my first day of holiday, and washed them later at a family member’s house but never thought to check the temperature the washing machine was set on.  Needless to say, linen washed at 60C never survives….  Gutted!!!  So now I’m on the hunt for another piece, Ditto Fabrics have none left. All suggestions for replacement fabric welcome!

 

Burda Love

How often do you wear matching items?  Some of you might wear suits for work, I never have!  In an attempt to bust a little stash fabric, and to have more items made for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe, I originally wanted to make two pairs of trousers from a 3m piece of stretch cotton sateen from Croft Mill Fabrics that I’d bought last year.  Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough for both pairs so while I sat there looking at the laid out fabric hoping to find a way, inspiration hit.  There could be enough for a jacket & trousers…

 

It took a little playing around, pattern piece tetris is a real thing.  The left picture shows the layout I ended up with and the little pile of skinny scraps on the right is all I was left with once it was all cut out!  I cut the inner waistband and both pocket pieces from different fabrics in the scrap box to save space.

The trouser pattern is 109 from Burdastyle magazine March 2010 and the jacket is my old staple, 116 from Burdastyle magazine April 2009.  I think this is the fifth version now!  I decided to leave the jacket unlined, and to use Hong Kong finish on all the internal raw edges. A piece of pansy print Liberty lawn was liberated from the scrap box that worked perfectly against the beige.  I cannot tell you how many metres of bias I cut in the end, suffice to say it was a lot.  Because the jacket was unlined, the shoulder pads were covered in the same fabric.  I had thought I’d get away without them but the jacket looked all frumpy and structure-less.

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Burda Addict

So, trousers.  I went for the shorter version and still chopped out 4cm.  A remnant of silk was cut for the pockets, and a pocket facing was added, using the cotton sateen so you don’t just see silk at the opening.  The pockets are of the in-seam variety.  The inner waistband was cut from a remnant of printed cotton sateen that had made a pair of trousers and a skirt for the daughters in the past.  The button closure and trouser hook & eye came from the stash.  I overlocked all edges before starting to sew, that way I don’t have to stop and start and can get a pair of pants made in a day.

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I really like the colour it goes with all my new handmade tee-shirts!  The stretch is really comfortable, I like the stitched seam on the front pieces, it gives a sense of length, which is sorely needed.

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Trouser details, contrast inner waistband, trouser hook & eye, silk lined pockets

The jacket pattern is one I have made many times now.  I think this is the most crisp though.  Even my linen one, lined, is softer.  Just means I need to work harder to remove that darn double chin my family genes is/are so fond of….   I really wanted a light weight jacket, so no lining.  That also means far less structure and interfacing than I’d normally use.  Only the facings and collar pieces are interfaced, relying on the structure of the fabric to give the jacket a good shape.

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I love the insides!

The jacket was actually made fairly quickly, considering the metres and metres of bias that needed to be attached!  The reason why it hasn’t seen the light of day until now (apart from no photographer) is that I couldn’t for the life of me find the right buttons.  Beige buttons on a beige jacket are BORING!  Metallic ones just looked too bling.  White looked insipid and black too much of a contrast.  So I was stuck.  Help came in the shape of a friend who went through my buton stash with fresher eyes than mine.  She found these interesting regtangular buttons and practically dared me to use them.  Challenge accepted!

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Burda jacket details, covered shoulder pads, Hong Kong seams finish & rectangular buttons.

The shape and texture on the buttons makes them far more interesting than ordinary brown round ones, so I’m happy with the result.  I also sort of want to wear this jacket inside out! The only time anyone will see the pretty insides is when I take it off and lay it flashily on the back of a chair.  🙂

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Tee 138 from Burdastyle magazine March 2011 in grey viscose jersey

On to the last item for the day!  I’d ordered two pieces of grey viscose jersey from Croft Mill Fabrics, dark grey, & a lighter, silvery piece at the beginning of March.  Can I just say, these jerseys are so soft!!  They have the most amazing drape which means every bit needs to be stabilised!  I chose a tee-shirt pattern I’d liked before but not got round to tracing, 138 form the March 2011 Burdastyle magazine.  It’s in the plus-size section.  I liked the twisted neckline treatment and the tab on the sleeves.

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I made the 46 with a 6cm FBA but with this soft fabric I wonder if I could have got away with the smaller size.  The armhole seams, front and back, are stabilised with Vilene bias tape, having learnt the hard way last year that this sort of fabric keeps going down….  Initially the neckline wasn’t stabilised, but as the day wore on I realised that wasn’t my brightest idea, so back to the ironing board it went.  Now the neckline, while a little low, doesn’t try to migrate any further south.  The neck band is simply a rectangle that isn’t folded symmetrically.  Once the centre back seam is stitched, instead of folding and pressing you move the seams 3cm apart which gives a little pull on the folded edge.  This creates the “twist”.

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The sleeves with tabs are easy to sew, if using a soft fabric like this though, I suggest you iron on a bit on knit interfacing where the tab goes to stop the fabric stretching as you do the topstitching.  Unfortunately, this fabric doesn’t work folded up.  It’s too soft!  I don’t really mind, the sleeves are a good length and I like the detail left with the buttons and stitched squares.  The only other adjustment I made was to remove length.  I took 5cm off the bottom and still turned up a 4cm hem.  I get that some people prefer longer tops to hide things, but on me I’d look very, very short and definitely feel like I was wearing a tent!

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All said, I am happy with my new outfit, not 100% sure if I will actually wear the matching jacket and pants together, but I have that option.  All items are in my suitcase for the holiday as with colours like this you can wear anything!  Score more for busting some stash & scraps, making a matching outfit and using freshly bought fabric before it found the stash!

A Trio of Tee-Shirts

This year I’ll have plenty of me-made tees.

This is me making up all that jersey bought in March!  One of my not-New Years Resolutions for this year is to make fabric up when I buy it, and not let it disappear into the stash, only to be found years later when I either no longer like it, or no longer need/want what I’d originally bought the fabric for!

So here we have 3 tees, two using Maria Denmark’s Birgitte tee and one a Burdastyle pattern.  The first was hard on the eyes to make!  I had seen an IG post by Wendy Ward of a black and white tee shirt, stripes, of course, where she’d used two stripes, one black and white & one white and black, in the one shirt.  There is a diagonal seam across the front of the tee and all the stripes appear to line up because of the single use of colour.  This gave me a good idea to use for the black and white viscose stripe jersey I’d picked up at the NEC.

Using the v-neck version of the Birgitte, I drew a line across the front from the right shoulder point to the left seam, about 10-15 cm from the hem.  Then I gave that line a slight downwards curve, because we’re not flat.  I added a line marking the top of a black stripe on the right front, and another on the left front to I’d be sure to cut the pieces on different stripe.

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Stripe details

When it came to getting the stripes to match nicely along that diagonal line, I questioned my sanity a bit!  I marked the seamlines with chalk and pinned each and every black-to-white stripe all the way down.  Then I basted by hand and checked from the front.  There were a few strpes that had moved, so I unpicked and re-basted those areas.  Then I used a long stitch on the sewing machine and stitched with a narrow, long zig zag stitch.  I had to shift a few lines again after they’d don a little walking, but overall the method seemd to work!  Then I used the overlocker and went over the seam again, but overlocked slightly away from the stitched seam

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I love the way the line jumps down the front, the lines on the right side seam have the same jump as on the front line, and they match perfectly on the left.  I’m really happy with how this turned out, it could have been a plain stripey tee, but now its something that makes your eyes blink!

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Staggered stripe tee

The second is much more straight forward.  Again, it’s a piece from the purchase at the NEC but I can’t remember which stall I got this fabric from!  I just used the v-neck version of the Birgitte tee and it was made with no fuss in a couple of hours.

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Maria Denmark Birgitte tee in blue and white viscose jersey.

The last of the quick makes was really a toile, now I guess it’s a wearable toile!  I have a lovely piece of pale grey marl viscose jersey from Croft Mill Fabrics and I didn’t want to waste it on a pattern I decided I didn’t like in the end.  I got this pale pink-silver viscose jersey at fancy silk Stores during the Easter hols to use as toile fabric, but as I kinda like the resulting garment, I might dye it a little darker.

The pattern is the top of Dress 105 in the March 2016 Burdastyle magazine.  There are various versions in the magazine, different lengths, neckline treatments and fabric uses.  I wanted a slightly longer, tummy covering version!  This looked good in the photos, so I thought I’d give it a go, but lengthened the front a bit, just in case!

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Dress 105 03/2016. Image from Burdastyle

I’m in two minds about the outcome.  I think the sleeves aren’t narrow enough, certainly not the last 10cm as they end up flapping around my elbows by the end of a day.  It’s maybe a little too long and wide for my shape.  I can see a slimmer person looking fabulous in it, just as it is.  Or maybe this jersey is just too drapey.  Or maybe the colour is just too pale, perhaps a quick spin in the washing machine with some grey dye would make it better.

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Burdastyle top 105 03/2016 – a wearable toile

I have worn this top twice now, and I don’t mind it, but it’s not a piece I’d be desperate to wear as soon as it was back in the wardrobe either.  At the end of the day, it’s a decent wearable toile, I’m just not convinced I’ll use my lovely Croft Mill jersey to make another.

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I skipped the instruction that said to stitch the pleat on the inside… Perhaps my pleat would have looked better if I’d done what I was told instead of steaming ahead!

So the Birgitte Basic tee is turning out to be a very good basic tee-shirt pattern to use, I like the fit, it’s so quick to make up & it doesn’t require too much fabric!  I bought the Lark Tee PDF (copy shop version, of course) to compare, but I haven’t got round to making anything up just yet.  Perhaps when I’m back from my holiday with some fresh jersey.

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Enjoy your Spring (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere), my garden is looking all green and pretty!