Thursday, July 2, 2015

Blue Skies, Fresh Summer Shirt, Burda grandpa shirt, again, from April 2010 in this year's blue

I stitched up, as I said yesterday, three fresh summer shirts. One of them was the Kenzo wiggly peplum number and another was a 'Margaret Howell' camp or 'boyfriend' shirt, already reviewed.

Meanwhile, light blue seemed to have its moment in the last week or two, judging by the German Burda's choices pictured here and the Guardian newspaper's fashion page below. And blue is my favorite color.

So with some super-cheap IKEA cotton, home-dyed the requisite color of a clear day in spring, I turned to a beloved Burda 'grandfather shirt' pattern, sewn earlier in thin batiste (when I was recovering from the Serious Illness and almost thirty pounds lighter here)
from my favorite  issue of all time, April 2010, and ran up the blue version, (pictured above) lengthening the sleeves a little.

Burda's cheapo cotton is practically free, but it is heavier than the white batiste I used for the first version. This is more a sort of chambray that softens with washing and is good for a Swiss summer evening over a swimsuit by the lake.

I cut only the needed length of 'natural' colored cotton off my IKEA stash and washed it with  'whitening' detergent so that I had as white as possible a base for the dye to grab hold of, then ran it through the machine with a box of blue dye. Total cost for a sturdy shirt, less than ten bucks.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Margaret Howell boyfriend look/fugly Burda #113 /trendy, arty Solange Knowles shirt?

The designer Margaret Howell offered a 'boyfriend' shirt look for this summer. 
 Goodness knows why I tackled such a look when it doesn't even flatter a young woman walking the runway. It features the sort of architectural genderless purity that requires either a waif-life commitment to fugly (as shown) or some flamboyant red lips and black nerd glasses to prove you have to wear a really weird shirt to downplay your incredible sexiness.

"I'm too sexy for my shirt"
Or you are Solange Knowles in transit. Her shirt is even bigger than mine:

I fit neither category—androgynous or sex bomb . But I bought the white broadcloth anyway.The only big deal of Burda's 'wide white shirt' #113 from February 2015—an unflattering, exaggerated silhouette—was a fan of pleats running down the center back yoke—

which in my case, of course, won't stay put. You also have to wear it with the top button closed—True Nerd— or else the whole shirt rides up your chest and shifts to the back. (see second photo below)

Pictured here, it reminds me of a maternity shirt from the 1950's. Worse, once I washed all the sewing markings off the shirt, the pleats disappeared from the back and the shirt had, of course, completely lost its Reason to Live.

As of writing, this baby needs some help before it is wearable. 

The choice is to topstitch down each and every pleat to emphasize the fan-look, or to press down the pleats again and fix them at the back of the waist line, to effect a sort of peplum fan. It's what Burda did with the long dress version, so I'll try the latter, knowing that if that doesn't improve the shirt, I can rip out a single line of stitching and resort to all the topstitching bother.

UPDATE: I did a double row of stitches 10 cm apart across the pleats in the back just at the waist line and now the blouse looks much better. It will be much easier to iron down those pleats, too.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Um, sorry, I've been here's a peek of Burda's designs for August 2015 including the Cowboy Look...My comments

Ironic, isn't it, that because I've been so busy sewing, I've lost touch with my fellow sewing bloggists.

I've sewn a one-armed black knit sheath, the Kenzo white blouse, a Margaret Howell look-alike white shirt as well as my YSL knock-off red 'Carmen' dress and I'm just now finishing a pale blue version of my favourite 'grandfather shirt' from the same April 2010 go-to Burda.

Uh, no photos yet.

But I have been lurking a lot to get inspiration from you guys. Still can't get up the gumption to go with a jumpsuit, two years on.

Meanwhile, I found the upcoming Burda designs for August, but don't see too much that spins my sewing spurs without the photos. I say, 'spins my spurs' because the German house of Burda has gone again for the 'Western look.' Odd how much I love the 'safari look' which is a fantasy style, but loathe the cowgirl schtick.

Apart from the current season's fling with fringe, I don't see how it plays very far. Nonetheless, a fantasy about cowboys and Indians runs through German fantasy life and may be linked to a dubious line of children's adventure books from the 1930's written by a guy named Karl May. My husband, now in his 70's, smuggled these sagas about Winnetou and Old Shatterhand under the bedcovers of his Swiss monastery boys' school with a flashlight to devour Karl May sagas.

I really don't know anybody who wants to look like an extra from a Clint Eastwood movie.
Do you? Yet, the Claudia Cardinale-on-the-Texan-plains does strike some mittel-Europeans hard. Fifteen years ago, we signed the kids up for a local badminton club and found it was run by a clique of hardened country-westernized Swiss dressed top to toe in boots, hats and fringe.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

St Laurent knock-off, the peasant neckline...again with Burda 2010-4-112B

Anybody remember the ruffled Lanvin look that was doing the rounds some years ago? It looks like St Laurent has returned to this favorite trope with their own collection for Spring 2015.

When we deconstruct this look, it's an elasticated ruffle peasant neckline with variations of skirt below and by my count this is the 4,579th time St Laurent uses it. You can big up the ruffle (there's another Burda pattern that puts wire in its oversized ruffle) but I get more mileage out of clothes with a little less oomph.

I'm taking up a length of pure silk I've had around for literally twenty-five years, inspired by the return of red and black as a combination in various collections this year. Since I don't need St Laurent's trailing skirts, I'm going with a dress pattern used before in blue silk, a Burda pattern from April 2010.
The 2015 St Laurent version
The Lanvin look from about 2009

My daughter wearing my Burda 2010-4-112B mimicking the Lanvin Lady above
Burda 4-2010 
 Burda 4-2010

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Enough of Winter and Work! A weekend at the Montreux Palace, Get Your Read-A-Free-Ebook Week Coupons and more sewing!

Are you enjoying the Great British Sewing Bee? I am, not least because Season Three has been dominated by male sewers and already, it's quite obvious that Neil, the married military man, is going to win hands down. Still the challenges are daunting, especially that last one, a traditional kilt. Just too hard.

My own Burda Easy zebra 'challenge' is finished! By laying all the pattern pieces to imitate the finished skirt, I avoided headaches with zebra stripes going the wrong way. I think the piecing adds just enough interest, PLUS, this serves as a wearable muslim in case I wanted to invest in a real leather skirt. The fit at size 44 was perfect, but look at what happened when I added a whopping 13 cm to the hem. This is a mini-mini as drafted.

 If you're not interested in sewing, perhaps you'd like some free reading? YES, it's Read an E-Book Week again and collect below your coupons for 100% FREE E-BOOKS!

But perhaps you'd also like to celebrate with me. The end of winter is on the horizon.

Most of our winter 2014-2015 looked like the picture outside our house on the left, (plus my husband is looking at his third major operation in the last twelve months as soon as we can get him a slot in hospital.) We had a great Christmas with the three adult kids and their grown friends but somehow around now snow starts to look like 'white mud' and we both needed a break. (don't give up, the free book coupons are coming...)

Unfortunately my husand can hardly walk until he gets some new parts. The Montreux Palace Hotel offered him a great 3-for-2 nights deal over Valentine Day Weekend, so we decided to celebrate our birthdays by disappearing to their spa for a 'staycation' forty minutes' drive down the freeway and shutting off the phones. Notice behind my husband in the red bathing trunks, one of Switzerland's legendary cruise boats is making its rounds of Lake Geneva.

The Montreux Palace Hotel is one of those landmarks of civilization that should be on everyone's bucket list. The author of "Lolita" Vladimir Nobokov, liked it so much, he moved into one of the wings and lived there full time. Since his day, they've installed one of Switzerland's premiere hotel spa and gym complexes without changing the Belle Epoque decor in the main building or the casino opposite. And then there's the annual Montreux Jazz Festival in July to lure you here if sybaritic lounging around isn't enough for you.

So use this coupon number to download these free e-books from Smashwords clicking on the 'if you like' links below:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Zebra Fur Burda Easy Skirt FW 2014 and why I should give a f...inger about 'age appropriate'

The other night I was dining with some friends on the staid side, (all of us on the wrong side of 60.) One of the guests described her son's girlfriend as 'blowsy, blonde and wearing some leopard print thing.'
There was an awkward pause at the table as everyone realized I was blonde and wearing a leopard print sweater. I actually got a flustered email of apology from the guest the next day who realized she could have been misunderstood. But she wasn't misunderstood. I know that in the world of Talbot/Land'sEnd good taste, no one my age wears a leopard print sweater...or a leather jacket...or half the other things I love to wear.

These are the same people who probably hate my crocodile leather skirt, which I just tightened and shortened for good measure. I love this lady, but I don't care what she thinks of blowsy blondes in leopard print.

Which brings me to my next defiant act—to sew up the zebra fur skirt in the last Burda Easy mag, even though
1. I'm too old,
2. I'm sure it's going to be deemed in garish taste in certain quarters,
3. It's almost too late in the season to be embarking on a fur project.

TOUGH! Here goes! (I'll be adding a lining, eliminating the lower zippers and lowering the hem to just above the knee (by 13 cm.)  Otherwise, no drastic changes so far.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Burda does Kenzo Spring 2015

Were you wondering about this oddball white pique blouse in the February edition of Burda
with the slanting peplum line? I stumbled across its Kenzo origins quite by accident, (see below in cotton and denim.) Instead of offering two flounces like Kenzo's original, Burda simply lengthened one. But the idea is the same. This prompts me to suggest that Burda do more of this, by showing us their model but also, the inspiration from the runway. (One reason I'm a fan of their style trend features doing just that.)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Great British Sewing Bee S3E1 S3E2 S3E3 S3E4 S3E5 S3E6 IS UP! BOY DID I GET THAT PREDICTION WRONG!!!

During a terrible snowstorm, with the Snowbound Blues that strike without warning in this part of the world, what a pick-me-up to discover that the Great British Sewing Bee is up here:







Thank you BBC2, sooooo much!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TNT replacement pencil skirt in crocodile 'leather', Burda Easy AW 2008-2009, Tribute to Peter Pan's crocodile?

(I read that the recent 'live' update of the beloved Peter Pan musical starring Mary Martin in my childhood days was a complete bust. That is sad, but the fantastic original is out there on DVD. Let's hear it for the ticking crocodile!)

Sometimes, if you haven't been sewing with a plan, or even shopping with a plan, you find that something languishes in the back of the closet because it has no 'friends.' Some years ago, on a whim, I bought an expensive brown leather coat that went with nothing. Not only was it not in a stylish motorcycle cut, but on an off day, it made me look something like a Stasi interrogator from the 1970's.
(In case you're too young or whatever to know what that implies, you're lucky.)

I had also restyled the Ralph Lauren brown tweed hacking jacket my daughter found in a vintage store last year, but again, it got less wear than I would have liked, because it was missing a match for the bottom.

Not that I didn't once have a brown skirt. Some years ago, using a pattern from Burda Easy I had sewn up a skirt in antiqued pleather with a bronzy leaf pattern on it. But as you only get what you pay for, it has now lost all its sheen and, cracked and shabby, joined the 'rack of shame' with other overloved items I can't bear to let go.

(I just read that hoarding is a possible sign of impending dementia. If that doesn't motivate me to donate half my closet to charity, what will?)

 In better days...

So, I realized that I would get a lot more wear from my chocolate-brown genuine-leather jacket, brown tights, brown turtleneck, brown shoes, brown boots, and various blouses with brown notes, not to mention my Bobbi Brown lipsticks :) if I filled in the gap with a new hard-ass brown skirt.

All I could find was crocodile pleather. Now, frankly, there are a lot of textures I find alluring, but generic man-eating reptile isn't one of them.

Still, that was what I could find. So I used the same Burda Easy pattern as above, (eliminating pockets, bows, etc. and leaving off any facing, but attaching the lining to the upper edge and turning down. The outer 'fabric' was too substantial to include facings with darts as well as lining.)
and with some care, produced a new skirt for wintry, wettish weather. And here's a better shot of the 'crocodile' finish:

Here I am, above, in Nyon, committed to lunch  a la croc. with friends(Please ignore Nyon's weird orange street planters. It's a charming town otherwise, with a Roman Museum, lots of music and film festivals and very friendly people.)
 I made the skirt slightly longer than before to accommodate high heels on occasion. The skirt also had to be carefully calibrated at the sides, so as not to be left ripping out seams. Below is the fitting progress of a side seam at the butt level to find the best fit using what is, basically, fancy plastic. I pegged the skirt in at the hem one inch on each side. Glueing the hem up three inches wa also a bit of an experiment. The first glue was too liquid and in the end, a variety of Elmer's worked best.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Back at the machine! Burda 2-2012-117A, the much-beloved black knit cheongsam dress for me, at last!

Whew, I've been AWOL for a while! One reason was the coming of the third newborn in our circle of family and friends in a row, necessitating yet another baby sweater in a lighter blue than the navy and pink one. No surprises here, but each one this summer was a labor of love and each a better rendition of this Elizabeth Zimmerman classic design that expands as the baby grows;

Then something for myself. I rarely make a design twice but I was quite frustrated that my earlier multi-blue version of the cheongsam knit dress didn't turn out so well, plus its combination of colorblocking made it a summer staple at best. So I ran up a black version in a thick black doubleknit that really was satisfying to work with compared to the cotton and viscose materials I used for the blue.
I've already worn this into London for a quick visit to the children and to a Sunday lunch today. A very versatile dress that I can highly recommend as the perfect LBD to dress up or down.