Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Miss Lotta Bundles Up: Ottobre 05/2018 -- Autumn Warmer Cardigan

Good morning, kittens! I'm taking a break from Kibbe ruminations today to share my latest project, the Autumn Warmer sweater from the latest issue (05/2018) of Ottobre Woman. This was the last project I cut out before tumbling into wardrobe revamp plans, but it actually aligns nicely with some of my forthcoming style changes. 

Over the past few years, I've increasingly turned to sewing magazines for both inspiration and patterns. It began with Knipmode, when they expanded their sizing to a European 54 on every pattern published, and has continued with Burda, as they've improved their plus size (EU 44-52) collections. Every time I review a pattern from those magazines, however, someone always comments with how much they love Ottobre Design. The Finnish family-owned magazine mixes what I like about the other two publications--they have an English version (Knipmode doesn't) and they publish every pattern in every size, up to a EU 52 (Burda doesn't)--then adds a modern, practical design aesthetic on top of it. This fall, I finally gave in and purchased a subscription to Ottobre Woman

Y'all, I'm so glad I made that decision! This issue has quite a few patterns that caught my eye, from the elegant pegged pants to that simple surplice dress, and one that I absolutely loved. Their cover pattern, the Autumn Warmer cardigan, rocketed up my to-sew list. The hood/shawl collar combination is such an interesting design feature, elevating the pattern from just another sweater to something I desperately needed in my closet. 

I wasn't alone. My fellow Curvy Sewing Collective editors, Michelle and Megan, also fell hard for this pattern and we all agreed to make it for a "Same Pattern, Different Bodies" post on the CSC. Even better, right after we committed to this plan, winter arrived early in Texas. Our first freeze this year was in October and it's been cold front after cold front ever since. We actually have snow chances in our forecast, later this week! In Central Texas! This is definitely the year for all those cozy, snuggly projects that I usually put off.

I ordered a few sweater knit options from Mood, then settled on this gorgeous red bamboo French Terry as my first version. Let's be honest, the moment I see a hood in my future, my thoughts drift to Little Red Riding Hood and red is a foregone conclusion. Fairytale archetypes live large in my fashion sensibilities, it seems. Now that I've made it up, I don't think this was the right fabric choice. While it's a gorgeous terry, it's also a bit too much of a classic sweatshirting for this project, bagging out with wear. A sweater knit with better recovery is an ideal choice for this draping silhouette. Not all sweater knits are created equal and terry really is better suited to something boxier, like a Linden Sweatshirt.

I also made a mistake in choosing my size. Having never sewn with Ottobre before, I erred on the side of caution and made this up based on my full bust measurement, which puts me in a size 50. Like with Burda, however, I would've been better suited to a 48. I had to take in the shoulders considerably, the sleeves are much too baggy, and the whole thing just feels big. If I don't pay attention to how it's laying, the sweater shifts around and looks messy, because there's too much excess fabric. With this combination of fabric and the wrong size, this sweater can easily look too messy, which is a shame because with other choices it would be gorgeous. 

This is actually a problem I always have with sewn sweaters. I've had legions of failed sweater projects that haven't made this blog, y'all. I never go with my instincts and size down, then am disappointed with the baggy, saggy, shapeless results. A few years back, I made a Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater that almost sent me over the edge with sizing rage. Finding the perfect combination of pattern and appropriate fabric is key to a wearable sweater, but it's a balance I rarely find. This sweater is actually pretty close to ideal, when compared to those past failures. 

Red Riding Hood or...Handmaiden? It's a close call. 
All that being said, this sweater is not only wearable, but beloved despite its problems. There's something about the brightness of this color and the way the hood opens up into that wide shawl collar that I adore. One of Kibbe's recommendations for Soft Dramatics is a large open neckline like this and it's easy to see why. The proportions of that collar are rocking my world and reiterating how desperately I need to sew up the Butterick 6604 coat.

Additionally, this terry is cozy AF. Throwing this sweater on over jeans and simple blouse looks dramatic and daring, but feels like I'm wearing a bathrobe out into the world. It's not nearly as warm as a merino wool version would be, but perfect for the crisp, blustery days we keep having here. 

Let's quickly talk construction, shall we? For a magazine pattern, this was a joy to assemble. Ottobre's pattern sheets are less cluttered than their competitors and it was easy to find my pattern pieces and size. Twenty minutes later, thanks to the dynamic duo of bee paper and a double tracing wheel, I had a traced off a pattern with seam allowances. (Seriously, get a double tracing wheel if you trace off patterns! It makes adding seam allowances to magazine patterns infinitely easier. That, or  use my shoddy, but reliable method: tape two classic Sharpies together for a perfect 1/2" seam allowance.)

Like most knit patterns, this was a really quick, easy pattern to make up. I used my sewing machine (a Janome Magnolia 7330) to do all the seams and hems, deploying a lightning bolt stitch on the seams and a decorative stretch stitch on the hems. The neckline and shoulders are reinforced with clear elastic, to keep them from stretching out, and the bottom hem is stabilized with wonder tape. My only complaint about the construction is that, because the hood is part of the collar itself, cleanly finishing the neckline is a challenge. There's a pivot from the shoulder line to the back collar that I needed to redo three times, before I got it right. Baste it first, then sew a stretch stitch once you're happy with how it lays. 

All in all, this pattern was a moderately successful introduction into Ottobre, and one that I'll make again before the season is out. With the right fabric--ideally a drapey wool knit with springy recovery--this can be such a chic, unexpected twist on the classic hooded sweatshirt. For me, this was also a nice entree into Kibbe's recommendations for my body type. If I ever doubted my ability to pull off bold color and large details, this sweater would quiet those doubts. 

Next up, I'm taking on a dress for the holidays! If you're interested in the Autumn Warmer pattern, be sure to check out Megan and Michelle's great versions over at the CSC blog. I always find it enlightening to see different sewists try the same pattern and share their thoughts. 

Note: Any Amazon links on this or other posts are affiliate links. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Sewing Kibbe: Planning a Soft Dramatic Winter Wardrobe

Good morning, my dear marmosets! Last week, I posted about the Kibbe System and my incipient plans to overhaul my wardrobe. Your interest in this process--and the fact that anyone still reads my sadly neglected blog--took me by surprise. I'm not alone in this rabbit hole, it seems!

Today, I thought we'd go further into the actual nuts and bolts of my plans. While Kibbe is a deeply flawed system, it's also a useful jumping off point for these changes. Shifting my lens--thinking about my body in terms of bone structure and softness, not just measurements--is altering how I think about clothing. A lot of the suggestions need to be taken with a grain of salt, whether because of impracticality or a decidedly 1980's sensibility, but others are proving pretty insightful.

According to Kibbe, I'm a "Soft Dramatic." He goes into the concepts of Yin/Yang and starts getting florid in his descriptors, but that's all a bit saccharine for me. It just means I have a large, angular bone structure with voluptuous curves on top of it. Think Christina Hendricks, Tyra Banks, or Sophia Loren, for platonic archetypes of this category. Tall, curvy, and extravagantly formed in every way possible.

The rule of thumb for dressing such a body is that the clothes should be proportionate to that feminine drama. Delicate details look fussy or mumsy (a problem I often have!), while overly tailored pieces look too stiff or prim. Fabrics should be soft and draping, silhouettes should have strong vertical lines and large, feminine design features.

Key Points of Soft Dramatic:
  • Long lines
  • Ornate feminine details
  • Strong shoulders 
  • Draped silhouettes,
  • Open or dramatic necklines
  • Avoid: fussy details, small details, overly tailored and simple garments, small prints, the look of separates, stiff or hard fabrics, wide shapeless silhouettes 
All of that sounds gorgeous, but it can also get absurd really quickly, which we need to acknowledge. According to Kibbe, following these guidelines to a tee would mean I walked around looking something like this: 

While this is my favorite dress of all time (an off-the-rack Tadashi Shoji, worn for a fancy awards ceremony), such gowns are not great for running after a toddler, working at a computer, or doing anything other than standing around and looking pretty. Impracticality is a true risk of my particular Kibbe type. The trick is to balance such exalted recommendations with how a real thirty-something human lives her life. I'm intentionally adding draped designs, vertical lines, soft fabrics, and large, feminine details to my wardrobe, just...not necessarily all in the same garment. 

Based on the needs of my drastically reduced closet, I've picked up quite a few new patterns to make over the coming months. When the weather warms up, I'll need to reassess again, but this plan gives me a chance to experiment with new silhouettes while still making pieces I need right now. 
Purpose: Anniversary Date

Later this month, Sam and I will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary! I cannot believe it's been that long, y'all. It somehow feels like we've been married both forever and for no time at all. Time is a funny thing. 

Since our anniversary falls so close to Christmas, we're always visiting my parents in Austin at the time. Not only does this guarantee childcare (Yay for wonderful grandparents!), but it allows us to get dressed up and have a truly fancy dinner date. This year, I'm making McCall's 7429 for the occasion. A knit knot-waisted dress that fits so many of my new requirements--slinky fabrics, draping, and a cohesive look--this pattern is begging to be made up in stretch velvet. 

Purpose: Holiday Parties

In addition to our anniversary, there are also a whole slew of holiday events happening this month. My initial plan was to make McCall's 7801 before any of them began, but I encountered some bumps with the bodice of this pattern. Even though it has cup sized pieces, this pattern wasn't drafted for the bustier among us, when it comes to neckline proportions. To fix it, I'm going to sew View C, but substitute a Burda woven wrap bodice that I already know works well. The ruffles may be a smidge undersized for Kibbe's recommendations, but I think the draped skirt and those feminine details still win out. 

Purpose: Day Dress

For everyday wear, I'm planning a few long-sleeved versions of McCall's 7534, a mock wrap dress with a shawl collar and extended shoulders. This hits Kibbe's recommendations on almost every level--strong shoulders, softly draping fabrics, long vertical lines--while still being practical for my normal day-to-day life. I have a couple of pretty rayon crepes in my stash that are going to be killer with this pattern! 

Purpose: Casual Top

And now for something completely different. Burda 6391, a artfully ruched knit top, is one of those patterns that I never would've made a few years ago, but I absolutely love now. That draping knit bodice! Those gorgeous swishy sleeves! Everything about View B screams Soft Dramatic, but also gives me low key Stevie Nicks vibes, know it's at the top of my list. 

Purpose: Casual Top

There aren't many indie patterns that fit the Soft Dramatic recommendations. Many seem to be designed for people who look great in boxy, simple shapes or more casual, laid-back silhouettes. As we've discussed, I've never done casual terribly well. One lovely exception to this indie drought is the Cashmerette Dartmouth Top, a surplice wrap top that has a gorgeous deep v-neck and ruched side seams. Made up in a cozy sweater knit, this is exactly the sort of top I want these days. 

Purpose: Casual Sweater

Spoiler alert: I've already made this Burda sweater. With the giant cowl neck and ability to become an off-the-shoulder neckline, this fits all of Kibbe's recommendations and channels my love of somewhat ridiculous sweater silhouettes. I love an oversized cowl. Making this was a no-brainer, but making it a cream colored wool knit was perhaps a bit dim. I spilled spaghetti sauce on it, first thing, and needed to have it cleaned, before taking photos. 

Purpose: Casual Sweater

I actually made the Nina Cardigan years ago and it's one of the most worn items in my closet. The graceful, but dramatic, waterfall has always suited me and I'd really like a few more of these in other colors. Thrown over skinny jeans and a camisole, it's an elevated look for running errands or dropping Louisa off at nursery school. The waist cinching of the Nina separates it from other waterfall cardigan patterns, giving it just enough extra shaping to avoid looking boxy. 

Purpose: Everyday Coat 

Finally, the grandest of my plans! I always want to make a winter coat, but look up to discover it's mid-February and I still haven't decided on a pattern yet. Not this year. Come January 2nd, with the holiday hubbub behind us, I'm cutting into Butterick 6604. View C, with its large collar and flared sleeves, is exactly what I want in a coat, while also having easy-to-fit princess seams. I've got all my supplies prepped and can't wait to start this "someday" project. 

What do you think of my winter sewing plans, friends? Do you have a list of projects waiting to be made this season, or are you focusing on a few special pieces? I'm really excited about trying new shapes and details, thankful for Doctor T's Kibbe series for sparking such creative motivation.

Currently reading: Becoming by Michelle Obama 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Sewing Kibbe: On Style Changes, Style Rules, and the Great Cardigan Extermination

Good evening, kittens!

Tonight, I don't want to share my latest project (which is good, because it's a white sweater that I promptly spilled spaghetti sauce on), but instead take a deep dive into personal style and the philosophy of dress.  This is going to be long post, so you may want to get a cup of tea. It's also going to be: self-indulgent, extremely nerdy, and possibly include a bit of navel gazing. Since this is my blog and my personal style crisis, however, I'm going with it. Consider yourselves warned. It would be understandable, if you chose to watch a Hallmark Christmas movie, instead.

Are you braced? Do you have tea? Good.

Let's talk Kibbe, friends.

Or, rather, David Kibbe's Metamorphosis System. The Kibbe "System" is a rather obscure set of personal style rules from the 1980's, which is having a small renaissance on YouTube and wardrobe planning forums across the internet. It was brought to my attention by the lovely Gillian, of Crafting a Rainbow, who recently went down this rabbit hole herself. Style systems normally drive me crazy. People love telling women what we can't wear, or what would be more flattering on us. As soon as someone tells me what I should wear, my mind starts wandering to explosive devices and creative ways to burn civilization to the ground.

Kibbe's method, however, struck a chord with me. Instead of lumping all women into silly fruit-shaped categories--apple shapes, pear shapes, kumquat shapes--or treating plus size women as if they're all built exactly the same, he instead based his guidelines on how humans are actually built. His system mixes bone structure (what he calls Yin) and overall softness/musculature (called Yang, unsurprisingly) to make its recommendations. While the chosen nomenclature makes me shudder, I appreciate the nuance and thoughtfulness in the method. Even more, it's based on a positive framework. Kibbe doesn't tell you to hide body parts, or try to be thinner, but instead stresses the beauty of each woman's unique shape. He has 13 style identities, or archetypes, based on subtle differences in how women are fundamentally built.

Now, let's take an interlude here. Some notes:

  1. I'm not going to go into all 13 archetypes or their differences. There are already some great resources on that. In the sewing community specifically, Doctor T Designs is going archetype by archetype and giving descriptions of each, plus sewing patterns that fit each type. Her introductory post has all you need to know, including wonderful links to resources and ways to find your own type. Her archetype posts are thorough, well-researched, and fascinating. You should definitely follow her series, if you're at all interested in such things! 
  2. That being said, there are YouTube Videos on this. To learn more about the types, Aly Art has a video series and test to find your type
  3. You may not neatly fit into a Kibbe Type. One of my best friends does, while we couldn't clearly pin another down at all. It's an imperfect taxonomy. 
  4. This system is problematic. Obviously. All style systems are problematic. Just because Kibbe is of interest to me right now, doesn't mean I don't take issue with society telling women how to dress or even that we have to dress up at all. It's all made up nonsense that has its roots in morality, modesty, and gender role shenanigans. That being said, I like clothes. I like thinking about how I present to the world. I was in a bit of a style conundrum (more on that in a moment) and this is giving me a new framework to process fashion through. That doesn't mean that it's gospel or that it doesn't have a lot of issues. 
  5. When you Google Kibbe, you may stumble into weird parts of the internet. There are a few vocal anti-feminists on Reddit who have taken Kibbe up as their personal bible on how to be women, which makes for upsetting reading. Such things have nothing to do with David Kibbe himself, from what I've found, and just prove that the internet can ruin anything. 
  6. Wear whatever you like. Period. All style "rules" should be taken with a grain of salt, or outright broken. Wear what makes you feel the best, whether that's yoga pants or ball gowns. 
Right. Now that the fine print is out of the way, let's dive in!

Based on the Kibbe types, I am a Soft Dramatic, which is shorthand for saying I have a voluptuous figure on a large, angular skeletal system. I am tall and big boned, with large facial features, dramatic curves, and no hint of small, dainty delicacy. This really shouldn't have surprised me. My whole life, I have longed to be dainty, but am anything but. Sure, I wanted to be Kristen Bell, but Christina Hendricks is clearly my true style spirit guide. 

If you've read this blog for awhile, you'll know the above photo is not my historical look. For every wiggle dress I've sewn, there are a dozen more poofy, floofy confections. My twenties were swathed in Liberty prints, bedecked in fit-and-flare silhouettes. Ladylike, twee, and delicate were descriptors I gleefully deployed into my wardrobe.

Over the last few years, however, such garments stopped working for me. Many of the clothes I've made in the past--pieces I've loved and worn to death--no longer feel like me. Nowadays, I put on a fit-and-flare dress with a cardigan, then immediately take it off in a huff. Matronly, my mind whispers. Dowdy, it insists. Objectively, they're still beautiful clothes, but I don't want to wear them. They no longer suit my body or my psyche. It has nothing to do with age, really. There are women in the sewing community who wear such pieces well into later decades and look sensational doing it. They look like Dita Von Teese in the same garments that increasingly make me look like a schoolmarm. 

All of these dresses were well loved, worn like crazy, and will soon be made into toddler clothes!

Reading up on Kibbe's system felt like a revelation. Of course, I don't feel comfortable in such things anymore. They're not designed with someone of my proportions in mind. Soft Dramatics need long, draped lines, bold feminine accents, and rich use of color. In other words, drama. My inner style maven has been telling me this for awhile, but I've refused to listen, clinging to the pretty and dainty and sweet. Heck, even my most recent post on Idle Fancy was about yet another ladylike floral dress. I loved it in theory, wore like crazy for a few months, but it never felt quite right

That's the crux of it, really. It would be one thing if I felt good in such clothes. Who cares what some random style guru says, if you like the way you look? I typically don't give a fig for supposed rules. But, it's time for a change. A few years past time, honestly. 

So, I'm starting over. 

With Kibbe's loose recommendations and my own evolving tastes as a guide, I'm going to start taking a more analytical approach to sewing. Instead of making what I've historically gravitated toward, I'm going to try a few pieces outside of that comfort area. Bolder colors, more dramatic silhouettes. This might be a bit tricky, since I also need to balance living in a fairly casual city and chasing after a toddler. Casual has never really been my preferred aesthetic anyway, though, so maybe it's time to let that go as well. 

This week, I'm doing a thorough closet clean out. I've already locally donated or consigned most of my unwanted ready-to-wear clothes, including a mind boggling 20+ cardigans, but the thought of getting rid of handmade items has been agonizing. Since most of the fabrics are still in good condition, I'm going to box them up and remake them into clothes for Louisa instead. That plan assuages my guilt, but gets them out out out of my closet. I can't handle staring at them any longer! 

In my next post, I'll share some of the patterns I'm going to sew next and go in depth on silhouette and proportion. I know that wardrobe overhauls and style systems bore some people--including me--to tears, but I'm really enjoying looking at clothing in this way. Applying actual analysis and thought to sewing fills me with a creative motivation that's long been absent in my daily routine of getting dressed. Have you gone through a major style revamp? What sparked the way you currently look at clothing and your own style? As sewists, we all love clothing and getting dressed. I'd love to know what goes through your head, when choosing what to make and wear next. 

Note: Any Amazon links on this post and other posts are affiliate links. If you click through and buy something, I get a small percentage of the sale. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Miss Marguerite Blows Out the Candles: Sew Over It Marguerite Dress

Good afternoon, kittens! 

This past weekend, I turned 33, a delightfully palindromic age that required quite a bit of celebration. There was Black Forest Cake, a bird-festooned pink birthday crown, lots of family togetherness, and--of course--a brand new dress. This year, I decided to try the Sew Over It Marguerite Dress, one of the newest patterns from the prolific British pattern company. 

I own two other Sew Over It patterns, but fizzled out after making muslins. Their pattern block is drafted for someone with radically different proportions than my own, so it's easier to draft a garment myself or find a similar pattern. While I love their designs, they're not ideal for tall, busty women. I need darts and extra length and wearing ease! 

The Marguerite Dress, however, was too pretty to pass up. It features a fitted waistband with a gathered bodice, full gathered skirt, and dolman sleeves. While it's designed for woven fabrics, I own a ready-to-wear dress that is almost identical and made of a stable ponte knit. I've meant to knock off that dress for years, so it seemed like a great birthday project. 

How does one take a woven pattern and make it suitable for knits? Knits don't need much, if any, wearing ease, which necessitates a few simple changes. A good rule of thumb is to size down at least one size, remove any closures, and use construction techniques you already love from other knit patterns. To alter the Marguerite Dress, I traced off the pattern and made some fairly simple alterations: 

  1. Sized down. For a woven, by my measurements, I should have used the UK 20/US 16 size. Instead, I traced off a blend of UK16 (at the shoulders and waist) and UK18 (at the hips). 
  2. Eliminated the back zipper. I took the seam allowance out of the back pieces, then cut them on the fold, to get rid of the closure all together. (For this version of the dress, I almost ran out of fabric, so actually had to seam the back bodice anyway.)
  3. Rotated out the dart. This is one of the few SOI patterns where there actually is a dart in the bodice side seam. The one time I don't want one! To get rid of it, I rotated the dart into the bodice gathers and made the gathering a wider section. 
  4. Full Bust Adjustment. I lengthened the center front of the bodice an inch and did a cheater's FBA for a knit bodice. 
  5. Bound the edges. Instead of using the included facings and cuffs, I bound the armscyes and necklines. My usual method for making bindings is to measure the opening, then cut a strip 15% smaller. This worked well for the neckline, but I wanted to leave the sleeve shape, so I cut those using the same measurement as the original armscye length. 
  6. Added clear elastic. There is clear elastic in the shoulder seams and both waistband seams of this dress, so that it doesn't bag out over time. The waistband elastic is covered on the inside by a facing, so that it doesn't irritate my skin. Strictly speaking, you could also face the waistband in a very stable knit, to prevent bagging out, if you hate elastic.
  7. Lengthened skirt. Even with a knit, I'm still too tall for this pattern! To that end, I lengthened the skirt by two inches. 
Aside from the structural pattern changes, switching the pattern to a knit made construction much, much easier. I sewed everything with either my serger (for major seams) or a lightning bolt stitch (for fiddly bits), then finished the skirt hem with a twin needle. Poof! A chic knit dress in less than three hours.

The fabric for this dress is the real star, despite all the focus I've put on the pattern. This is a gorgeous floral cotton jersey that was given to me by the generous and lovely Susan of Moon Thirty, a few years ago. We met up at Chuy's, ate our weight in Tex Mex, and talked endlessly about sewing and blogging and general creativity. Since then, I've hoarded this fabric, waiting for the right pattern to come along. Of all the pieces I own, this fabric is one of the most "me" prints in my entire stash. It's the pretty--but not dowdy-- dark background, richly colored modern floral print of my dreams. It's all the more special knowing that it came from one of my favorite sewing friends. 

In the end, I was inordinately pleased with how well the fabric matched with my knit-friendly Marguerite pattern. The jersey has a really nice stretch, so the dress looks fancy and ultra-femme, but feels like yoga pants. Since having a baby, I value stretch in my garments 100 times more. It's not only the ability to move freely, but the actual comfort of it. I haven't been able to abide tight waistbands, since having Louisa. Anything constricting drives me mad, thus rendering many of my old projects unwearable. This dress, though, blends both my aesthetic love of floofy femininity and my newfound need for comfort. Joy! 

This Marguerite was such a success that I've already made another one and cut out two further. We're going to languish in summertime for a few months longer, so sensible, comfy dresses will get plenty of wear before sweater season starts. Even then, I think these would layer up well with booties and a cropped cardigan! 

What are you sewing during these transitional months, friends? Do you have any patterns that work even better in a knit than a woven?

Currently Reading: My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
Currently Listening: Dressed Podcast (Specifically, the recent interview with Dr. Colleen Darnell, Egyptologist and vintage fashion enthusiast.)

Note: Any Amazon links on this post and other posts are affiliate links. If you click through and buy something, I get a small percentage of the sale. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Miss Babette and the Rose Imposters: Burda 07/2016 #124

Good afternoon, kittens! Somehow, it's been a year since I last blogged. 

Well, I say somehow. We all know the actual how of it, don't we? A wee bouncing bundle of joy who just turned 10 months old. If you follow me on Instagram, you've met her already, but to quickly catch everyone up to speed: 
  • We had a baby. 
  • Her name is Louisa and she is the most adorable creature who's ever existed. 
  • She is also shockingly high maintenance, because it turns out humans are born without any survival skills whatsoever. Who knew how many times a day I'd have to prevent such a charming, brilliant child from eating dog hair? I certainly didn't.
Thus, no blogging. Like many before me, keeping a child alive took precedence over blogging. We've also been renovating our house, traveling, and working like crazy. It has been a year, y'all. A happy, tiring, glorious mess of a year. 

More recently, this summer, I also signed on to be part of a Burdastyle program that connects bloggers with the magazine. (They're calling us influencers, which I can't say about myself with a straight face, though I know it's the accepted parlance nowadays.) Despite subscribing to Burda for a few years now, the issues sat mostly untouched on my bookshelves, serving as gorgeous inspiration but rarely anything else. There are so many of their patterns I've been meaning to make for eons, that signing on to make one a month seemed like a good way to work through that list. Ostensibly, I'm getting a free pattern a month, but...I do already own the last two years (plus a few) of back issues. I'm aiming to check some projects off my list and provide a bit more lived experience for anyone interested in Burda's plus size lines. 

That's all to say: Look! I made a thing! 

This is Blouse #124 from the July 2016 issue of BurdaStyle. This entire collection, the Closet Swap, counts as something that I've wanted to make. 2016 was the year that, in my opinion, Burda began to really up its game with plus size patterns. Suddenly, they were some of the cutest patterns in the whole magazine. This woven wrap blouse, with its close-fitting silhouette and cute cap sleeves, is a great example of that new direction. 

I love wrapped silhouettes, especially in woven fabrics, but they're hard to find drafted specifically for plus sizes. The number of wonky, poorly sized bodices I've wrestled with, trying to nail this silhouette, boggles my mind. More boggling still, is how few modifications I made to this pattern. A narrow shoulder adjustment, a small FBA. 

That. Is. It. 

Before I go into raptures over the finished result, let's talk about the process. I already owned the July 2016 issue of BurdaStyle and had previously traced this pattern off, though in a size bigger than my current measurements. For this blouse, I retraced the pattern in a size 48, using a double tracing wheel and bee paper

Why the double tracing wheel? All digital and magazine Burda patterns, as with most other sewing magazines, do not include seam allowances. Many sewists prefer this, as it makes the patterns easier to adjust and lets you add your own preferred seam allowance width. For Americans especially, used to envelope patterns and Indie PDFs, this can be a little difficult to navigate at first. (It was for me!) Honestly, it's no big deal and doesn't add any time, as long as you know about it going in and pick a good option to deal with it. A double tracing wheel is super effective, but my other quick-and-dirty method for tracing is to use two classic sharpies taped together. Voila! Instant 1/2" seam allowance. 

Tracing from the magazine really isn't that much of a headache either, as the lines are easy to see and reasonably spaced apart. I highlight the size I need, throw the bee paper over it, then trace away! If that sounds dreadful though, Burda does offer all of its patterns in PDF form. I find tracing from a magazine quicker than taping together a PDF, but everyone's preferences are different. 

Constructing this pattern was just challenging enough to keep things interesting. The wrap bodice is finished with a neckline facing, which is top stitched in place to look like a separate band, while a self-facing on the skirt portion finishes the outside edge. Burda's directions are sparser than the usual Big 4 pattern, but this pattern magic was still easy enough to navigate.

I did sub out the armscye facings for simple bias tape, because armscye facings are evil and should be vanquished. They are temperamental, require much more finesse, and provide the same finish as bias tape. Why would anyone suffer through them? If you're not doing a couture or vintage finish on a garment, make some bias tape from your leftover fabric and life will be easier. 

The fabric used for this blouse looks like Liberty of London Carline,'s actually the knock-off Carline print that Gertie did for JoAnn Fabrics. It's a lightweight clipped dot cotton lawn and, while not nearly as luxe as the original, it's still beautiful and easy to work with. When I bought this fabric, Carline was fully discontinued, but Liberty has since brought it back in all colorways. That means I can stop hoarding the real stuff in my stash, right? While I've outgrown a lot of my style loves from the past 10 years, this fabric remains one of my favorite prints of all time. It's such a chic, timeless take on florals. 

Y'all, I feel a little swoony over this pattern. What took me so long to make this blouse? It is exactly what I've been looking for in a woven wrap. It fits well, doesn't have oodles of weird bust wrinkles, and makes my usual jeans and ballet flats infinitely chicer. I may need 100 more of these in my closet. I especially love the little cap sleeves, which keep the top breezy, but elevate the style another notch.

Though I'm usually a commitment phobic sewist, this blouse makes me excited about signing on to the Burda program. If their plus size block can produce a reliably well-fitting wrap, something so many other patterns failed to do, what else can it achieve? Next up, I'm trying a pair of jersey pants, so I'll keep you posted on how the experiment continues. 

Note: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon, which is something I'm trying out, since I link to them so often. If you purchase through those links, I will get a small referral percentage from the sale. The Burda links do not make any money and the pattern was one I already owned, though it was offered for free.