Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane



imagesThe only word in the English language that has a full rhyme with orange!

A sporange is botanical terminology for the part of a fern that produces the spores.

Yeah, but you all knew that!




Burda – a confusing collection of lines on paper that when cut out in fabric and sewn by people who know things produces clothes (sometimes).

On the whole, I really like Burda designs and styling but the thought of tracing, or tiling and tracing, or tiling, tracing and adding seam allowances just makes me reach for my Vogues every time. If you feel the same, then this might help or read on.

However, since I was voted onto Burda’s Top 50 blogs, I am feeling an obligation to make more of an effort despite the fact that I’m ranked in the 40s and just made the cut by the skin of my teeth. Thank you to those who nominated and supported me anyway. If I had known about this beforehand I would have done much more to support your efforts. Anyway I’m towards the 50s in real life so it’s a relatively precise mirror of 20th/21st century life and times.

One day while sitting on the veranda of my holiday hardwood timber log cabin by the coast with a coffee and Danish within reach, instead of just perusing my collection of BurdaStyle magazines in an armchair and living in fantasy land of youthful slimness and sunshine, this time I really and truly selected a few designs to seriously sew, or sew seriously?

My fabrics are this – an orange mohair mix knit and a multi-coloured poly chiffon.

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Process – a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

Here’s my tip on adding seam allowances to Burda patterns. You will need a Clover tracing wheel tool or similar and a soft lead pencil (at least a BB).

Trace the pattern onto tissue or pattern drafting paper as per normal but with enough excess around each piece to mark the SA.

Remove the second tracing wheel from the Clover thingy and with technical, LASER-guided precision, sticky tape the pencil at the 1.5cm (5/8″) mark (give or take).

DSCN4678Now roll the Clover wheel around the sewing line, making sure the pencil is always on the outside of this line and fairly level with the wheel. You might need to sharpen the pencil as you go along.

DSCN4679DSCN4681BTW – This specialist and highly secretive technique also works for marking SA on sew-in canvas interfacings that need removing from the seams: replace the pencil with a disappearing fabric marker pen. Shhhh…….


Collar stand for Burda Style Suit Coat

Take BurdaStyle magazine pattern 08/2012/117D.   








Round off the waterfall fronts and make a 2″ band all round.

Add cuffs to the sleeves and stabilise the loose knit with some left-over lining around the back neckline and band. Add lined patch pockets.










Cut the stabilising fabric at 2″ and the knit at 4″. Fold the knit over the stabiliser and serge to the outside edge of the garment.

The 2″ band was sewn on the reverse side of the knit fabric. Sew the entire band on the overlocker (serger) or else stitch and zig-zag the edges.


This is relatively straightforward make: raglan sleeves, two fronts and a back. The entire thing was sewn on the serger (overlocker) apart from the patch pockets.

Next, take BurdaStyle magazine pattern 05/2012-101B and totally forget the first attempt and remember the appeal.

101B_BS0512_B_largeTwo fronts and backs with centre seams and side in-seam pockets. Facings for the neckline, narrow hems on the cap sleeves. Remake in patterned chiffon, remove pockets and add ties at sides for a slight waist definition, soft gathers and variation of styling. Deep hem for a bit of weight. Also mostly sewn on the overlocker so that I didn’t have to do French seaming.

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There’s a very low V-neck.




Note to self – always wear a co-ordinating T-shirt! – You don’t live in the tropics, you don’t have a flat chest and you’re over 50!!!!










Result – a thing that is caused or produced by something else; a consequence or outcome. (Not always perfect!)


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Credit – publicly acknowledge a contributor’s role in the production of (something published or broadcast).

My initial jumping off point was Scruffy Badger making and wearing this. She’s brilliant, so I bought the same fabric, thank you Winnie for the inspiration.111_0913_B_sweater_large

I saw this  Burda Style 09/2013 UK cover but I’m just a little bit older, a little wider and I live in a city and work a proper job; modifications were needed.

Eternal thanks to Lynne from Ozzyblackbeard who told me to take my time and re-thread the serger in proper thread order because those machines have some preternatural ability to sense the scared and inexperienced.  Until this advice, the serger was in the dog-house again, now it’s currently contributing to my wardrobe and paying for its board and keep; 20 minutes of cajoling and wine induced threading and now it is fully trained. And,  I’m beginning to benefit from the genuine benefits of meeting real live sewists. Thanks forever Lynne.




Analysis – The separation of a whole into its constituent parts for individual study.

I’m still tracing Burda patterns at the wrong size – always too roomy. In this case it doesn’t matter too much but for anything fitted or structured I think I’ll stick to my trusty Vogues.

Should have lined the dress. I’m wearing a white slip and it shows through. But I know I won’t.

I still have the notion that Burda makes are  quick makes. I just can’t bring myself to spend the time doing things ‘right’ The hem on the dress is atrocious and it’s only the fabric design that is camouflaging the wobbly stitching line. The facings won’t lie flat despite under stitching and catching them at four points around the neckline, so I’m forever tucking them back in. A narrow hem here would probably do the trick.

The colours are great though – I can also wear teal tights and T and raspberry colours and the shift dress just acts as a cover-all. The orange cardigan lifts dark grey and is quite stunning against black and white.

So, there you have it: a ‘model’ who’s over 50, the other side of 67Kgs and wearing a chiffon shift dress in November in the northern hemisphere with a granddad cardigan. There are no limits!!  Or have I read the wrong rule book?

If you can,  watch this……

If you can’t – do what you need to do so that you can…..







28 thoughts on “Sporange

  1. Gorgeously fabulous! I love my Burda magazines, but I understand the appeal of Vogue too.

  2. I say wear whatever you like whenever you like. Life is far too short for crazy clothing rules. As for the dress, make yourself an orange slip, strap on some bad girl heels ;), and enjoy! Love the colors!!

  3. My eyes crossed at the Burda roadmap. Vogue girl all the way here 🙂 I love the cardi and “slip” combo-you are so adventurous in your sewing!

  4. You really know the colours which suit you… fabulous, happy colours! I just spent the last hour watching the TV program from your link. Terrific women, all of them, and an inspiration to us all.

    • Yes Vivienne, an hour invested is definitely a lifetime invested! Ignore the “colour-analysts” and just experiment. You’ll know what is really right and fits your life. Thank you.

  5. The dress and cardi ? sweater? are wonderful and inspirational. I loved also the running dictionary. Thank you for this.

    • My pleasure SunGold. We aim to improve sewing and vocabulary – all at the same time!!!
      In Europe, this is a cardi. Really who cares – just be you!
      So glad you’ve joined us and I hope I don’t disappoint.

  6. You are the queen of colour! Wear this with pride and joy (and I’ll try not to worry about your forthcoming heating bill).

    • You’re maybe too young Marianne to remember “Cooking on gas”. That’s us in this house! Sort of living by the skin of our teeth….We’ll worry about the bill in 2015, until then I’ll be wearing chiffon, silk and other translucent fabrics in absolutely fabulous colours.. Life is certainly too short to worry about utility bills.

  7. Loved this post Ruth…clever, helpful and very entertaining. Your wear orange so well and your whole outfit looks fabulous.

  8. I love reading your blog! I like your taste in sewing projects and the colours, designs and fabrics you pick! Your outfit is very nicely done!

  9. great post, made me smile! As an over 50 actually nearer 60 I say go girl, lets be anarchists and wear what we want!

  10. Glad I could help on the serger! Sometimes you just have to let machines know who’s the boss! You should have seen me tackle the printer last Sunday… Love your dress and cardigan, the bright colours are so cheery in the winter. I’ve never used a Burda pattern. I have enough fitting alterations to do without having to start by tracing a sea of lines and add a seam allowance!

    • I know our meeting was relatively brief but personal advice is so much much effective than a PDF! The overlocker really does make life easier. Thank you again Lynne. Some of those Burdas are just right for your style. I have tonne of magazines if you want to peruse them…..

  11. Well, I didn’t know about “sporange”. Thanks for the trivia! The colour combos in the outfit are divine.

  12. Orange/Sporange. Now all of us who read your blog, know that sporange is a real word! (My spell-checker doesn’t know it!) 😀 I thoroughly enjoyed this clever post, and your glorious colors! Love your outfit combo. And I also enjoyed your link to your cardi inspiration. I have sewn Burda, but they were the “normal” kind that come in an envelope. Those trace-ables from the magazine make my 50+ eyes cross. Anyway. Great job!

  13. Well, even though I have an A level in Botany, I hadn’t heard of sporange! The deep V is somewhat impractical in this weather (brrr) but very flattering, and the softness of the cardi and the pattern of the cloth all create a very harmonious look. Personally I don’t think age is important at all. It is about how much confidence and style you have – and you have lots of both.

  14. Oh, I adore both pieces! I tried to comment before, from my Bloglovin’ feed, but it didn’t get saved, so weird. Anyway – the orange cardi is soooo beautiful!

  15. I like it- alot! That doesnt shock you, does it!?

  16. Pingback: Remember Clover? | corecouture

  17. Both pieces turned out well! Here’s an idea: since the chiffon dress came out looser than you expected, why not put it into your beach holiday kit as a chic swimsuit coverup -slash-dress? The colors are perfect, and it will slip on easily, and with accessories (or slip) will go from beach to restaurant. The delightful orange mohair cardigan will find new cool season friends in the gray/brown family.

    Always fun to read about your work, Ms Sporange. Keep us posted.

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