I’m not normally a fan of “summer” sewing since the styles printed by the likes of Manequim, Patrones, and Burda for the summer months tend to all be focused on super hot, beach weather that’s just completely impractical for English summers. Case in point: today in London it’s sunny and warm, high of 23C (73F) and for the most part, that’s a pretty average summer day. In other words, it feels like Spring or Fall do in most places, and I love it. You all can keep your disgustingly hot and humid summers, and I’m happy to take a few useless sewing magazine issues each year as a trade-off!
But surprisingly, this July issue of Burda actually isn’t half bad! There are, of course, a few wholly impractical, wispy beach styles, but there are also designs I could wear…
Speaking of designs which work for English summers, this one’s got ours written all over it! The details of this boxy, yoked shirt are just fabulous – I can’t recall ever seeing rounded placket before, for starters…
Ugh, the fabric choice here just makes this look like a cheap and awful nurse’s costume! And those insipid sleeve flounces, gag.
In my eyes, the best pattern of this entire issue comes from designer Antonio Marras – it’s a great silhouette, and the neckline and hem length are bang on trend. But even better are those angled seams, which are only really revealed in the tech drawing!
I’m not usually drawn to maxi-dress styles, but this halter dress (for Tall sizes) with its fantastic, sweeping full skirt really catches my attention in a way that a shorter hemline version just wouldn’t. In fact, it reminds me most of ballroom dance gowns!
Burda have been dipping their toes into the backless trend for a few months now, but IMHO they’ve finally nailed it with this one. It’s still not particularly bra friendly, but the design of both the top and the dress version are so on trend and really quite flattering, too.
This sarong-style dress just screams summer holidays! It’s got a structured, strapless dress underneath with a sarong-style overlay to change up the look.
And finally, this Plus-sized gown is just stunning – it looks to be really well designed with curving, sweeping seamlines to really show off a curvy figure.
What do you think? Is there anything worth your summer sewing time here, or are you just camping in front of a fan and dreaming of sewing Fall styles instead?tags: bwof, magazine
Sorry for the silence last week, but I’ve been working really hard on two big things:
1. My new sewing room is done and ready to move into!!
Yes, after 8 years in my “temporary” sewing room which is smaller than the average American closet, plus over a year of hard graft of sanding, painting, filling, more sanding, more painting, buying smoked oak parquet flooring, cutting a million tiny pieces to fit, then gluing, more sanding, three coats of oil rubbed in by hand (in amoungst working two jobs and marathon training, I might add), I finally nailed the last bit of trim down tonight!! So I can start moving into my permanent sewing cave, which is only a little bigger than my temporary room but concealed behind a hidden bookcase door (no, really). I’ll try to put together a little video for you all…
2. My next sewing pattern is coming along very nicely and should be ready for testing in a few weeks! It’s passed my own testing with flying colours and even got a “ooh that’s very Stella McCartney!” comment from a friend at track, too!
I don’t like to announce my patterns until they’re nearly ready, but I’ll share the clue I’ve already leaked to my Twitter followers: it has two distinct views, and (big sigh of relief) none of the new Jalie patterns overlap with anything I’ve had planned for this year, either!
So I hope you’ll forgive me that my blogging output is a little quiet at the moment, but it’s all time investments into my sewing future at the moment! If you’re in need of some reading material, you should head over to The Monthly Stitch, where you can read an interview with me about Fehr Trade patterns! Their “New To Me” Challenge is happening right now, and you can win a heap of prizes (including my VNA Top pattern!) just for sewing something from a new pattern company. Which sounds like a good thing to do anyway, if you ask me…tags: fehr-trade-patterns
Remember back in April when I helped Funkifabrics road-test some new technical lycra fabric bases? I had two bases to choose from (onto which they printed my choice of designs), so I went off on some intense runs in warm weather, and ultimately decided on one, which I then went and ran London marathon in!
Post London marathon in my experimental Funkifabric Steeplechase Leggings shorts!
Well, the same tech fabric I ran the marathon in is now available, and in a collection of twelve limited edition prints!
You can read more about their selection process (which involved feedback from their customers) as well as links to buy each pattern in their blog post here (and no, they’re not planning on offering the tech base in solids yet so ignore the sports bras).
They’ve also got a rare 20% off everything sale running until tomorrow night (midnight BST, 10 June) which includes these new bases! I’ve been buying Funki’s regular Flexcite lycra for nearly two years now and this is only the second time I’ve ever seen them do a sale, so if you’ve been waiting, I’d buy now!
And you don’t have to run a marathon to appreciate them, either!
If you’re looking for great patterns to use with your new tech lycra, here are a few of my own road-tested, runner-approved patterns which work great with fabrics like these:
Disclaimer: Nope, nothing to admit to here. I got the experimental bases for free back in April, but that’s it. I wasn’t even asked to blog about this – I’m just a stupidly happy customer.
PS: Those of you in the Pacific Northwest might want to read through Gwen’s guide for swimwear & activewear fabric suppliers…tags: exercise, fehr-trade-patterns, shopping
Yawwwwwwwwwn. Another lacklustre issue – what is up with the design team at Burda HQ recently? I know they’re capable of amazing, fashion-forward and flattering designs, because they break out of these ruts every now and then and just wow us with a consistent 6 months or so of designs.
I mean, this time last year I was praising them for a consistently amazing few months of issues, the pinnacle of which was the amazing Japanese-design feature. Maybe I should just go back to my spring 2014 issues instead until the tide rolls back into a more favourable patch…
I really want to like this blouse with its asymmetric collar, but it just feels like they’ve tried to add too many incongruous details into one garment. Skewed collar! Neck ties! Boxy shape! Asymmetric taped sleeve! Any one or two of these together would be fine, but all of them and it just feels unfocused and busy.
I’m officially on Team Jumpsuit and I like the look of this one on the model, but this is a Tall size pattern, with extra elongated body lengths, so I think this on top of jumpsuits being elongated anyway means that it’d be a tricky one for me to fit. And I’m not convinced I need more than one summery jumpsuit in my wardrobe right now!
This sheath dress is just fantastic – it’s simple, but it’s shown several times in the magazine, both partially colourblocked (as it is here), but also all in one fabric, and again with three separate coloured fabrics. The seams all flow together nicely at the sides, and there’s an option for shoulder ties, too. This could be a great basic pattern for adding further design elements (cough Pattern Magic cough), too.
I feel like a broken record here, but not all open backed dresses are practical or flattering. I like the curved seaming on the skirt, but the upper back is just too open, and the top is only held together with a single hook and eye. Again, the La Maison Victor open backed dress from last Winter is far superior (and you can wear a bra with that one).
And the ugly combo award for this issue goes to… The ugly muu muu dress & equally ugly popped collar bomber jacket (bomber pattern number 754353 from Burda, ugghgh). Come and collect your awards!
err, clown blouse? This might have been ok in a soft fabric (might), but in a poplin?? It just makes those horrible 1970s bell sleeves look like the big tent.
There was nothing notable in the Plus section, but I did enjoy the extended feature on natural dyes. It seems to compliment the natural dyeing article Seamwork had in their latest issue… I like the idea of dyeing (especially for lingerie), but I’ve been wary to buy all sorts of chemicals for it!
What did you think of this issue? Am I off base? Care to nominate your favourite issue from the last few years for me to revisit for inspiration instead??tags: bwof, magazine
It’s that time again! I can barely keep up with all your amazing, inspiring, and beautiful versions of my patterns these days, and before I know it, I’ve got an overflowing heap to share with you! I know how helpful many of you find these – it’s all well and good that I make nice versions of my patterns, but so much more helpful when you see how good they look on other bodies, too!
Be sure to click through to read the details and see more photos on each of these entries, too. With a long weekend coming up both here in the UK and in the US, there’s no excuse not to whip up something sporty!
Winnie’s Steeplechase Leggings with exterior rolled seams & zebra Surf to Summit
Karen’s 5(!) Steeplechase Capris for herself and her daughters
Maria’s three pairs of Steeplechase Capris, with great reflective accents
Sally’s wintry Surf to Summit for the ski slopes!
Maria’s “Hunger Games” inspired Duathlon leggings
mixtilli’s red Lacey Thong lingerie set
Allison’s two new VNA & Duathlon workout sets
Katherine’s Steeplechase leggings with yoga waistband
Sandesh’s XYT Workout Top in a Laurie King print
Winnie’s badger-print Surf to Summit Top!
Sophie-Lee’s cheetah-print Steeplechase capris & coordinating XYT Workout Top
Read more… (plus bonus New Zealand fabric suppliers!)
Winnie’s London marathon badger armband pocket
Louise’s London marathon Duathlon Shorts, with plenty of pocket room for both inhaler and gels!
Karen went and made THREE more VNA Tops, for herself and her daughters!
Claire ran a race in Central Park in her gorgeous, swirled Steeplechase capris
Wingamajig made her Duathlon Capris both subtle AND psychadelic!
Karen’s running armband pocket
Read more… (with step-by-step photos)
And, as always, you can buy any of my digital sewing patterns from shop.fehrtrade.com (except my Lacey Thong pattern which pre-dates the Shop), where you’ll get both fully road-tested multisize patterns in both “print at home” and “print at a copy shop” pdfs, fully illustrated instructions, plus the knowledge that the highest percentage of your money is going directly to the designer! (And yes, I take Paypal, too)duathlon-shorts, exercise, fehr-trade-patterns, lingerie, steeplechase-leggings, surf-to-summit-top, vna-top, xyt-workout-top
Wooo!!! It’s the best Manequim of the year – the one with all the Oscars gowns! Let’s breeze through the rest of the issue and get straight to those Hollywood designer evening gown patterns, shall we?
First off, the Plus selection this month is just the usual three patterns, but they’re keeping to the glamourous end of the scale, using singer Adele as the muse.
I LOVE this classic leather biker jacket – it might be slightly too small for me, though (I’m in between 42 and 44, I’ve discovered), but it’d be easy enough to adjust using another pattern as a guide…
I think I’ve discovered the secret to me and blazers – I hardly ever wear them myself, but I’m occasionally drawn to the odd one or two in magazines, like this orange one (Can I just say that I love everything about this image? Wonderful model & composition and art direction!!). I think the main thing is that I dislike the traditional, folded over, notched lapel – so designs like this which are a bit different in that area really appeal to me!
Again, I’m not really even into this kimono pattern, I’m just digging the art direction (helicopter landing pad?! Must be Sao Paolo!).
This is the only actual jeans pattern in this jeans feature (and I’m so not feeling the bell-bottoms!) but I was really intrigued by the simple tee paired with it. It was almost entirely covered up in the photo, though (thanks, Manequim!), but it was shown later in the roundup images so I could see it’s just a really simple two-piece teeshirt.
And now, for our main event… it’s the Hollywood gown special!!! (not just the Oscars this year, no, no!)
First up, we’ve got a pattern for this gorgeous strapless lace Givenchy gown that Rosamund Pike wore to the Oscars. Pure fantasy!
Next, we’ve got patterns for Emma Stone’s Lanvin jumpsuit from the Oscars and Anna Kendrick wearing a Gorgeous Peekaboo gown (living up to its “peekaboo” name??) at the Oscars.
Then, it’s a pattern for Reese Witherspoon’s off-the-shoulder, monochrome Armani Privé Oscars gown and Helen Mirren looking fabulous as always in Docle & Gabbana at the Golden Globes.
And finally, the fabric on Lupita Nyong’o‘s Ellie Saab gown is a large part of the “wow” factor on her Screen Actors Guild Awards gown, but I’m looking at that pattern and definitely seeing scope to shorten it for a more cocktail look (and far less fabric to buy!).
I know we can often fall into the trap of only making glamorous dresses and then only wearing them once or twice (I can’t resist making a new dress for pretty much every wedding I attend!), but I’ve actually got an event I need to sew for coming up! I’ll need a posh gown for the gala dinner at the end of the World Transplant Games in Argentina in August, and when I saw this amaaaazing 1930s McCalls gown I knew it was just what I needed!
What about you – is anyone else planning a glamorous make any time soon?tags: magazine, manequim
Thanks so much for your congratulations on my London marathon race this weekend! My legs are amazingly feeling pretty much back to normal already, though I still need quite a bit of recovery time “under the hood”. In all the excitement (and a fair bit of “post-marathon brain”), I completely forgot to congratulate some other fierce and fantastic women who ran it, too!
- Louise from There She Sews / Broseley Joggers, who sewed her own Duathlon Shorts to run it, too!
- Winnie, aka Scruffy Badger, who ran it in a very colourful me-made top and skirt!
- Sanchia, my wonderful Threshold Shorts athlete model, keeping her lipstick in place the whole way around…
- Claudia, my iron-woman Threshold Shorts athlete model (running it only a week after Boston Marathon!)
With a fair amount of resting time ahead of me in the next two weeks (before I run a half marathon, then cycle our first sportive, then run a 10km on successive weekends. No joke!), I’m hoping to get some quality sewing time in. But I’m not seeing much to inspire me in the latest Burda edition…
I’m really getting tired of Burda’s recent ruffle fixation, but I actually don’t hate this ruffled coat, which is surprising. Maybe it’s that it reminds me of the Lolita Patterns Spearmint coat, or maybe it just seems a bit more well thought out than just randomly slapping ruffles onto an unsuspecting garment…
On first glance, this seems like a dress pattern we’ve seen a thousand times before, but the overall body shape is closer to a cocoon-shape than I’ve seen in a dress before. And the pleated neckline creates a bit of interest (and could conceal a big meal, hahah).
I can’t really see myself wearing this shirt, but I love that they’ve placed a very vintage detail like the jabot and created a look that is unambiguously fresh and modern. I have a feeling this might be a pattern that grows on me and I eventually come back to sew 6 months from now.
Look past the horrible, sheer fabric and this is probably the pattern I’m most likely to make from this issue. It’s essentially a woven tee with colourblocking opportunities on that yoke, and you can adjust the front keyhole (or switch to the back) instead, too.
Oh. My. God. You know how we sewists complain when companies sew up their samples in prints so busy that you can’t see any of the pattern details? Well Burda have well and truly outdone themselves on this one – they chose a print so busy they couldn’t even tell when they pasted a smaller top on top of the bigger one (and it was ugly to begin with anyway!)
There’s a designer pattern in this issue, from the Odeeh brand (nope, never heard of them) – a boxy tunic and pleated trousers that look nice enough, though not particularly anything to set off fireworks.
The Plus patterns are surprisingly pretty nice this time around – the shirtdress on the left could be made even better with the addition of a belt, and the tee on the right is offered in a few different lengths (and has the trendier sleeve cut closer to the CF).
More great dresses for Plus sizes! The dress on the left with gathered shoulders is such a nice, classic design, and the knit dress on the right (in several hem lengths) would be flattering and comfortable for so many different shapes.
And finally, I hardly ever care about the kids patterns, but I’m of the age where friends are having babies and I occasionally like to whip up a present and get rid of some jersey scraps at the same time. So these knit baby clothes for both sexes may very well come in handy…bwof, magazine
The latest issue of Manequim magazine is here (well, latest to its international subscribers, anyway – it takes a while to make its way to me), and even though it’s not a hugely fantastic issue, it’s still better than the last few Burda magazines IMHO, which have been in a real slump this year! But let’s take a look at my picks for this month, where there’s hardly a ruffle in sight…
There are only three Plus-sized patterns in most issues of Mannequim, but the selections this month look really wearable – a casual day dress, a tunic with gathered sleeves, and a versatile trouser pattern.
Instead of the usual “Patterns in the style of X designer” section (maybe they’ve run out of iconic designers?), this month we get 1950s-style patterns instead. I’m not hugely interested in this decade most of the time, but I love this sleeveless blouse with the gathered bust seam and tie neck. I think I have a piece of silk or two in my stash that may be perfect for it, too!
Now, I’ve been subscribed to Manequim for a few years now, but this is a first in all that time – lingerie patterns! Squeeeeeeeal! Mostly the patterns are for lounging or pyjamas, like this robe and pyjama set, but I think the camisole might be nice on its own, too. I need to do some comparison with the Seamwork Savannah camisole pattern (which I already own), and not just because the two magazines have vastly different idea of what their readers want to see in a lingerie model!
Carrying on with the lingerie feature (of course!), we have patterns for both a bra and boxer shorts. Though I’m not sure how helpful the bra pattern actually is, since they’ve given it a regular pattern size (38) instead of a bra size (say, 30D). So I guess you’d have to compare the pattern pieces to your own bra draft, by which point you might as well just make your own pattern…
Two interesting patterns here, but neither I could particularly see myself wearing as-is – I like to idea of little sheer panels in a shirt’s sleeves, but I very rarely wear this sort of button-down shirt. And you need to look closely at the trousers, but they’ve got a really cool pleating feature going on at the waistband, which I’m interested to apply to a TNT trousers draft to see how it looks since I’m definitely not into the wide hems! (Also, is it just me or does Madalynne have a Brazilian doppelganger??)
And finally, there was a feature chock full of blazer patterns, but as I don’t really wear those very much, I was more interested in the handful of patterns they paired with them, like this stripey, strappy vest top. Unfortunately, they covered it up quite a bit in the feature, so I’ve pasted the photo from the “Mix and Match” bit at the back so you can see it a bit better.magazine, manequim
Like anyone who’s had a site for a while (nearly 10 years, in my case!), I get an astounding amount of random email questions sent to me each day. Answering every single one of them takes up a considerable amount of my time, and sadly, I never get to reply to as many as I’d like. And frankly, sometimes I just get sick of telling people over and over that just because I posted about X magazine five years ago doesn’t mean I know where you can buy it! Or telling people that no, I don’t work for Burda/Patrones/Manequim/Lekala/whatever and I really can’t help you with your customer service issue.
For some reason, though, I received an unusually large amount of random questions while I was on holiday in NYC. I was moaning about it on Twitter, and Stacy suggested I compile them into an “Ask Melissa” column, which I thought was an excellent idea. I’ve spared you the truly random, boring ones, or the ones too specific to be applicable to anyone else, and instead just included a few here which others may be interested in.
Activewear Fabric Suppliers
I came across your website today and wanted to find out where you source the fabric for the sports clothes you make. Would you be able to tell me?
Support for Large Busts
I’ve been admiring your work for several years now, having discovered you through your many rave reviews at patternreview.com. I’m not the best with knits, but I am about to try this summer, starting with your workout wear. I do CrossFit and high intensity classes, and am just giving up on finding clothes that will support my busty bust but fit my small rib cage. I am 32 DDD to G; can you recommend any of your patterns over the others for supporting large breasts? We spend a lot of time bouncing, upside down, etc. and form-fitting and supportive would be dreamy. And I see you even do bras; another reason I admire you!
With girls like that, you’re really going to need a very good sports bra underneath anything you’re wearing. I’ve got a good friend with 32I breasts and ShockAbsorber really seems to be THE brand for the well endowed. Grab a couple of those and wear them underneath your pretty, self-sewn exercise gear to get the best of both worlds, really! My XYT Workout Top has a built-in bra, but it’s really only going to be supportive enough for A-C cups, really, because it’s a compression-style bra, and larger breasts really need encapsulation-style, which is a MILLION times more difficult to sew on your own (and one I’m unlikely to produce a pattern for with all the engineering requirements involved!).
As for what to wear overtop of your supportive sports bra, well, in all of my top patterns I provide FBA instructions so you should choose a pattern size based on your High Bust measurement (while wearing your sports bra!), and then size up just the bust area accordingly. This should give you a much better fit in the body and bust, but of course, try this out in some cheap fabric first!
In terms of which is the easiest to do an FBA on, it’s probably my Surf to Summit Top pattern, as that has princess seams.
Exercise in hot & humid climates
Came across your write-up on Seam Work Mag about Activewear Fabrics. Very
insightful, by the way. I am in the process of starting a sportswear
apparel line in Africa, specifically in Nigeria.
I’m still trying to narrow down what the best fabric or combination of
fabrics would be best in this climate (hot, humid). Apart from the ones you
wrote about, are there any others you would recommend?
First of all, best of luck with your new sportswear line, that’s super exciting! Living in London, I only have the smallest personal experiences with running in hot weather (we might get a handful of days each summer where it’s over 30C/86F!), but from everything I’ve read, the main issue with exercising in hot and humid weather is directing sweat away from the body, and preventing chafing.
The first issue can be addressed through using wicking fabrics, like Supplex and aerated polyesters like DriFit, that move the moisture away from the body to the surface of the fabric where it can evaporate more easily. The chafing issue is mostly addressed through design – moving seamlines away from high-friction areas of the body wherever possible, and making these flatlocked (as flat as possible) when they can’t be moved.
Spoonflower activewear fabrics?
I’ve been a follower for quite some time and am a long time runner. Your story is quite inspirational. I recently purchased several of your patterns and am finally taking the plunge to make active wear. I found your post about where to buy work out fabric very helpful but have a follow up question. I am interested in spoonflower’s performance fabric and see that you enjoyed the pique more than the straight performance knit. My question is this: would you recommend the pique for just the tops for your patterns? And would the straight performance knit work for leggings?
Good question! The Spoonflower performance fabrics are fairly similar, but the Performance Knit has a smoother hand, and slightly less stretch, whereas the Performance Pique is more matte with a very subtle texture (far, far less than most piques!), and a bit more stretch, though in both, you get a bit of white show-through if it’s stretched nearly to the limit so you’ll want to try and avoid that.
The super, super important thing to remember, though is that BOTH Spoonflower performance fabrics only stretch in one direction – not two! Nearly all activewear patterns are drafted for two-way stretch fabrics (that is, fabrics that stretch both horizontally and vertically, not just horizontally). So if you make up my patterns straight off the pattern in a one-way stretch fabric, you’ll find that they feel a bit too short!
So you’ll need to add a little vertical length into my patterns, like I showed on my purple zigzag XYT Top.
In nearly all of my pattern instructions, I include adding length as one of the Common Fit Alterations, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to do, but I’d advise you make up the pattern in two-way stretch fabric a few times first to perfect the fit and get the hang of it before you graduate to using one-way stretch.
In terms of whether the Spoonflower fabrics will work for leggings, yes, with the caveats above! Myself and others have made shorts and leggings from them, and they’re a nice weight for tops or bottoms, in my opinion.
(And remember you can buy specially designed Spoonflower-printed fabrics for some of my patterns, too!)
So that’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed these answers, and, umm, please don’t send me any additional random email questions for the next column. Because seriously, I get enough already!!
Apologies for the delay in reviewing this issue! I know a fair few of you use my reviews to decide whether or not to buy them. My subscription copy arrived before we left for NYC, but I was too pressed for time in finishing my jeans and getting the other posts scheduled that I didn’t have time to scan this until after we returned home.
But there should still be time to order this should you like any styles more than I do!
“Hi, I’m too thin. Can you show me a dress that will instantly add 50 pounds to my bust, waist, and hips, rendering me something akin to the Michelin Man caught in a ruffle explosion? You can? Great!“
This is probably my favourite from the issue, as I always enjoy a good 3D construction – in this boxy top, the back wraps over the shoulder to form the sleeve. The square neckline is also a good look, but I’m unsure about the overall silhouette. Perhaps it could be improved by a fabric with a softer hand?
This drop-waisted dress is definitely channelling the 1920s, though the kangaroo pocket modernises it a bit. There’s also top version version of this pattern that could really work if you’ve only got a metre of fabric to play with but, beware that super LOW neckline!
Here are two striped dresses – the one on the left seems to be made in way too stiff a fabric for the style (see the orange and beige version further down), but the concept seems sound. The one shown on the right has a clever wrap style that would work for a lot of body types, and also has the advantage of illustrated instructions, too.
On first glance I love this designer Cacharel dress with its boat neck and lattice back, but IMHO the recent La Maison Victor version is far more wearable and bra-friendly. I bought a dress with a very similar silhouette (nearly identical to the Maison Victor one, in fact) last summer in France, and it’s a style I’ve seen all over in NYC and London. If you still don’t trust me that this shape dress with back interest is a serious trend, then look no further than the latest Vogue designer patterns…
Behold, a skirt with a built in crotch arrow! With bonus crotch ruffle, in case the eye wasn’t drawn to your nether regions enough already…
These high waisted trousers are the vintage reprint pattern for this issue (though it was easy to overlook as there wasn’t an original sketch included) and they come paired with a boxy top to match. To be honest, I’m unsure about this look – mostly unsure whether I dislike the patterns, or just the gross shiny fabric they made them in.
I don’t normally like many jackets, but this oversized blazer looks very modern and easy to wear, especially made up in a calming neutral. The dress on the right is the same pattern as one of the stripey ones above, but sewn in a more appropriate fabric, so the back flows rather than sticks out like a tail.
The Plus section is unfortunately mostly horrific caftans, but this sheath dress looks wonderful – classy and easy to fit, with room for customization and a nice split skirt detail.
If you’ve got this issue, what did I miss? Were there any that you loved that I loathed?tags: bwof, magazine