Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October Burda Challenge Just in Time

Just under the wire, here is my October garment for the Burda Challenge.

It's top #103 from the October, 2014 issue of Burdastyle. I should have hoiked it down a bit before The Man snapped my front view here. I used a not especially drapey 100% cotton jersey for this top, so the cowl neck needs some supervision to lay nicely.

The line drawing is actually top #104, which is identical to top #103, except all sliced up for color blocking. They also show this pattern lengthened to make a very cute dress, perfect as a LBD for cocktails.

It would have been a quick sew, if not for those little yoke pieces formed by the back shoulders wrapping over to the front. Cute, yes? But Burdastyle instructions sank to a new low when describing the construction of the shoulder seams. I'm not kidding; I pined those suckers together six ways to Sunday and could not get the product to look like it should.

back view
Thank God for the internet! This top has been reviewed 6 times on Actually, more than that if you count the reviews for the color blocked and dress versions. Everyone likes the product, but most everyone had a heck of a time with the shoulder yoke. Luckily for me, PR comrade runaroo linked to a blog post from SMF Designs and Friends. In that post an angel named Roz will walk you through constructing this top, with pictures. Roz, if you are out there, I owe you a dozen roses.

side view
Once you get the shoulder construction, you can bang one of these tops out in an hour. Something I intend to do once I find that piece of slinky brown and blue knit that's hiding someplace in the stash closet.

My pattern review is on here.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

September Burda Challenge - Better Late Than Never

I've fallen sadly behind on my sewing challenges this fall. I think it's a combination of hot weather and being out of town. This is my offering for the September Burda Challenge, and also for the (August) Scary Fabric Theme for the Stashbusting Challenge.

Meet blouse #111 from the 09-2011 issue of Burdastyle. They describe it as a sophisticated blouse boasting intriguing sleeve section seams. Those seams are pretty well disguised by my fabric choice, so here's the line drawing:

My result looks more like something I might have worn to Woodstock than the "splendid couture style" Burda described. But I'm OK with that.

Burda recommends you use polyester georgette, which would be delightfully light and whispy. I actually had a couple of pieces of what I think is georgette in stash, but neither was big enough for this top. Those sleeves are enormous and the bottom section is self-lined, so this top burned up more than two yards of fabric.

I used a polyester silky thing that I got at the flea market here in Santa Cruz. I'd forked over my 6 bucks before I realized I'd been looking at the reverse side of the print. What looked like subtle all-over polka dots from the back were really bling-y gold polka dots that were kind of like little blobs of puff paint. But what's stashbuster to do? The overall color scheme was much nicer from the front, so I decided to embrace the bling and work with what I had.

You can see from the line drawing that I'm supposed to be sporting a slit neck with a drawstring. I omitted that because I did not relish the notion of applying a continuous bias binding to a neck slit in this fabric. Instead, I used a piece of linen yarn to gather things up to my liking and then tied it in what I hope is a permanent knot. Then I tucked the ends into the casing and closed 'er on up.

Back view
The sleeves are fun to wear, but they're not terribly practical. The opening for your had is a bit off kilter, which makes the sleeve swoosh around stylishly when you walk, but they also scoop up bits of things from the kitchen counter. I'm pretty sure there's still some dog kibble rattling around in there from this morning.

The pattern is very well drafted. All the pieces matched up perfectly, with no finicky easing. In fact, since I'd nixed the slit neck there were no fiddly bits at all.

If you fancy taking a whack at some of that 70's boho chic that's floating around out there, this is a fun pattern. I might make myself a pair of high waisted denim flares and totally relive my youth. Or I could try this again in a more sophisticated fabric and pair the top with a narrow black skirt for an evening in the city.

My pattern review is on here.

Monday, October 12, 2015


I've been lagging on the sewing front since we got back from vacation. Maybe because it's been unseasonably hot and my fabric cutting area is the floor in the spare bedroom, up under the eaves. After a few minutes crawling around up there the sweat is blinding my eyes and I have to stagger down to the kitchen for a cooling beverage.

What's a crafter to do in such circumstances? Haul out the multitude of half-finished sweaters and try to figure out what the heck I was doing with my knitting. Wool may not sound like the best creative response to hot weather, but I can knit in the shade with that refreshing beverage at my elbow.

This is Ingenue, a pattern from Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard

It's a mite wrinkled because it lived balled up in my knitting bag in the upstairs closet for 18 months. I'd done the body and most of one sleeve, then set it aside.

Why? With most of my kitting projects I lose steam when I reach a point where I need to make a decision. Is it time to start the shaping for the hips? Are the sleeves long enough, or should I do a few more rows? And, most often, Will I have enough yarn to finish this thing? I have a habit of buying just barely enough yarn for a project and then panicking as I come down to the wire. The Yarn Harlot calls this "playing chicken with your knitting." It's kind of stressful, really.

'Barely enough yarn' is the reason my version of this pattern is a bit skimpier than Wendy Bernard's.

This is one of those nifty top-down, raglan sleeve sweater patterns. I mostly knit these patterns because:
  1. you can try the garment on as you go to see if you're in the right fit ballpark, and
  2. no finishing, except for weaving in your ends
The thing I'm not wild about in a top-down raglan design is the fit in the shoulder.

You can kind of see what I mean in this back view. There's almost a kimono sleeve thing going on. I don't mind it too much in a pullover, but some of my top-down raglan cardigans want to slide off my shoulders if they aren't buttoned up.

I've knit more sweaters from Custom Knits than I have from any other knitting book I own. I find the patterns are straightforward enough to go quickly (if you don't neglect them for months), yet there are enough little decorative bits to keep you from falling asleep over the stockinette.

My favorite part of this sweater is the funnel neck:

The yarn is a wool-cotton blend that I got at the going-out-of-business sale at Yarn Dogs in Los Gatos. Gosh, I miss that store.

The color is something I call "Goth Green." I don't remember what the spinner called it because I carelessly lost the ballband. Yes, all of them. The yarn is almost black, but with a mossy undertone. Kind of reminds me of The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

It blends pretty well with my wardrobe and I'm sure I'll enjoy wearing it, if this heat wave ever ends.

Meanwhile, I've almost finished cutting out the pieces for my first coat. Plus lining! I aim to finish that this week. Wish me luck.