Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Peasant Blouse (Burda)

Good grief, that’s such a not-inspired title…. So let’s cut to the chase and get on with the sewing.

I actually, really and truly, bought a peasant blouse top from a real live shop and loved its gathers, floatiness and ease of wearing. I decided that I definitely needed another one in another colour. I searched for a similar pattern on the Big 4, Bootstrap and all the other indies without success.  I ended up flicking through my old Burda magazines and settled on  01-2012 number 426B.

downloadGood old tracing methodology employed in achieving this pattern – understanding, reading and following the maze of interconnecting coloured lines and sizes on Sheet A, B or C – anyways, I got a workable paper pattern in the end. This can be a tunic as well as a blouse: follow the directions below for the blouse.

This magazine is Burda Plus, for larger sizes. I traced size 44 when I would usually wear a 42 but didn’t worry much as it’s a loose top with not too much fitting necessary.

The original pattern is for a tunic so I just ‘lost’ the piece below the waist. There was still a bit of fiddling to do but it was the closest pattern I could find to meet my original idea.45feb6e2a271dad08607fd37690f2881--xl

Raglan sleeves, elasticated neckline with working ties; gathered and elasticated hem finish;  same for the sleeve hems.  The very fine fabric I used is slightly transparent and I would like a lining, so, a double layer at front and back saves the day!

The fabric came from Sherwoods. A beautifully soft cotton/silk crepe in a range of colours.


I used Kiwi, second from top of the pile.


The RTW version I have has a lining and this lining is cut slightly shorter than the outside layer. I tried to replicate this to achieve the blouson effect and to add that extra layer for opaqueness. The sleeves are single layer.


Now, bear with me on my rather clumsy explanation of how to achieve this….I forgot to take photographs along the way – apologies. Usual construction is that you start at the top of any garment and work your way down to finish at the bottom, in this method the hem is the first thing you do.

Cut 2 fronts and 2 backs. Shorten 1 of the fronts and 1 of the backs by about 1 – 1.5″ (3cm-5cm).

Right sides together, sew around the hem – front to front, back to back.

Measure some picot or thin knicker elastic around yourself where the sewn hem will sit. Zig-zag this to the seam allowances of the hems, stretching evenly as you go. Trim off the excess seam allowance to keep things neat and reduce bulk.

Flip the fronts and backs back wrong side together and hold in place with some pins. The hem is now enclosed but remember it is ‘inside’  and not at the edge. Continue to construct as normal using French seaming on the sides and raglan sleeves.


For the neckline I cut a bias strip and added this as a casing, hand slip stitching it over the raw edges. Elastic was then inserted with the good old safety pin method, pull it a little tight depending on how low or high you’d like to wear the blouse and secure the ends of the elastic with some machine stitching.



Make a cross grain strip which will become the ties at the front, so determine what length you want these – short or long. Mine are medium. Cut the strip in two and sew to the ends of the neckline. Turn under any raw edges or insert the ends of the ties into the ends of the casing.

Finally, add a bit of flair by threading some beads to the ties. Use knots to hold the beads in place and knot the ties at the ends, as these will fray over time.

This inside hem creates a lovely gathered look without the elastic showing on the outside – almost looking like it’s ‘tucked in’ .


The sleeve hems are simply turned under and more picot zig-zagged in place.

Must use more Burda patterns……



I had a little green silk/cotton left over fabric and it just happened to match a striped jersey in stash. I saw a girl on the bus the other day and she was wearing an indigo T-shirt with a wrap over front and ruffle trim. I somewhat copied it.


Take a bog standard T-shirt pattern and cut an extra front. Cut the extra front in a shape that pleases you. Sew the extra front into the right hand side seam and finish the edges with a narrow hem. I sewed a few pearl buttons along the ‘wrap’.


To make the ruffle, cut strips about 2.5″, fold lengthwise, press and gather with a large machine stitch along the fold line. Stitch to the edges of your T-shirt, press down and let fray at will.

Hello to Lyn, Kim,  segerskog@webspeed.dkLinda BaldwinMary Ann HugueleMary Ann Huguele, and anyone else who thought this sewing diary might be worthwhile spending your precious time reading. Thank you and please join in with critical comments and personal opinions – there are no boundaries here and I hope you find something useful. Rxx



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…..