Sunday, May 17, 2015

Burda Style Retro Wrap Blouse 05/2014 #134

Behold, my first Burda make!

Burda is a German pattern company that publishes a monthly magazine with a bunch of patterns. A lot of the patterns reuse various pieces, so it's a compact and cost efficient way of getting a lot of patterns for not so much money. They translate into various languages, and the magazine I used was the UK English edition from May 2014. I've seriously considered getting the UK edition paper subscription, but wanted to try a pattern before I spent so much money on it. Luckily for me, the public library has a subscription. I spent a glorious afternoon going through their back issues, making note of the things I wanted until I settled on the May 2014. It was a 7 day check-out, so I had built in deadline for the project.

There is actually a US edition of the magazine that comes out seasonally. Slowly, Burda has entered the American market, first with their website with downloadable patterns from the magazine, and over the last year with an American-specific version. I got a free online trial copy of a US Burda magazine, and was kind of disappointed to find that it had old patterns that I had already seen on their website from previous editions of their European edition.

I think the difference is that they've updated the patterns to have seam allowances and more instructions. The Euro Burda Style doesn't have seam allowances on the patterns and you have to add them yourself. I don't really mind this part. The instructions are also pretty scanty, which I suppose is ok if you're like me and don't always follow directions when they're given ;-)

You can buy each discrete pattern as PDF downloads for like $5 a pattern, OR you can get all the patterns from another site (affiliated with Burda Style I think?) for a discount. So many access points. As I've been writing this, I realize that I am kind of confused about all of Burda's offerings in terms of how you can access them, not to mention that their parent company also produces paper patterns (available through in the US). I wish they would streamline their offerings. Oh well. Their strong point is that they produce a large volume of interesting patterns very frequently.

For my first project, I picked something I thought wouldn't be too hard--a "retro wrap blouse" redesigned from the Burda Style Archives! ooh! vintage! no zippers! kimono sleeves! looks easy to fit! I read through the instructions a few times, and was like, ok I think I get it? But how do you put it on? And then I'd look at the photo of the model wearing the blouse and think, but where do the buttons go?

Fortunately, Burda Style has a vibrant community where users can upload their finished projects of really any sewing project, but you can directly link your project to the specific Burda Style pattern you've used. I am so grateful that these three ladies made this blouse before me, because I really needed some help on how to put the damn thing on me.

The hardest part of the project BY FAR was tracing the damn pattern. When reading the magazine, I had never really bothered to look at the pattern insert. This is what it looks like:

Mind you, it's double-sided, and pattern pieces are laid on top of each other with different colors and line patterns. I felt like I was a general deciphering some complicated topographic map overlaid with strategic information about enemy positions (someone has been watching a lot of BBC programs on WWI and WWII recently).

"Is that the Retro Wrap Tie Blouse back piece?" "No, Mr. President, that's the Jungle Peplum Jacket bodice front."

I actually think this may not have been a great pattern to start with for Burda, since the pattern pieces are really unusual. I mean, look at these monster pieces:

This fabric is ~60" wide for reference

I did muslin it since I wasn't really sure how the thing was supposed to go together, and that went quickly. My "nice" fabric is actually a poly silk remnant I found, but I loved it so much that I didn't want to mess it up. It was on the $3 a yard remnant table at a local fabric store, and when I first saw it, I though, silk?! And then I felt it and thought "silk, wait, no, it has that polyester feel...but maybe it's silk?" When I took it to the register, I asked the cashier what the fabric was. "Oh this is silk, wait, no, it's polyester. I'm not sure." She then asked a colleague what she thought it was, and the second cashier said basically the same thing. So they got a lighter and did a burn test in the middle of the fabric store :-0 . And it was polyester. But I love it! look at those roses :-)

I knew the texture would be difficult to sew with; however, I just got a roll of Wonder Tape, so I used that to stabilize the seams. Because of the silkiness and its propensity to fray, I did french seams for the side and shoulder seams.

I used the wonder tape on the initial right-side-of-the-fabric seam, since I figured that would be the hardest to sew. Once I trimmed the first seam of the french seam, the second finishing seam wasn't too difficult to sew since it was stabilized initially. This stuff allegedly washes out, so I'm going to assume it will be fine when I wash it. I had hoped I could use my rolled hem foot for finishing most of the edges, but the fabric ends frayed too much and would not go into the rolled hem foot edge despite my best efforts. I would up relying heavily on the Wonder Tape for making these narrow hems.

The pattern calls for you to wrap the blouse ends to your back and close with loops and buttons. I don't really like back buttons since they're a) difficult to button from that angle, and b) stick into your back in a way I find uncomfortable. Instead, after much fussing and draping, I gathered blouse straps around where they hit the side seams, sewed the bottom layer to the side seam, and for the upper bodice layer sewed a line of snaps to its side seam. So it's really a faux wrap at this point.

Outer snaps

Inside of the blouse with side sewn to the side seam. The blue striped skirt is a UFO (unfinished object) that I didn't bother to remove from my dress form.
Here's how the back looks:

In spite of the bananas tracing, I would definitely do a Burda magazine pattern again, but I might just get the PDF patterns a la carte, even though I am loath to assemble PDF patterns. Perhaps I will buy the magazine as an occasional treat. I do recommend this pattern since it's quite flattering and not too difficult in terms of construction. The only problems I had in construction were dealing with the fabric; the cotton muslin was a breeze to sew. I think I would lengthen it if I were to make it again, but I've been wearing it with higher waisted shorts and skirts so it's not a problem for now. 

There will be a Haturday post next Saturday, I promise! I've finished my hat from my millinery class, and will be writing about it soon!

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