Wednesday, November 28, 2012

HB Pencil* Skirt, or Burda 7175

*HB = Hips and Buns.  In other words:  this skirt is too tight!

I finished it last week, but didn't have the time or inclination to take pictures until yesterday.  Also, I have a lot of things I want to say about this project, so I've spent some time getting my thoughts in order, as opposed to my usual stream of consciousness.  I made an outline and everything!

Let's start with the pattern envelope, so you can see the lines and style of the garment.


This Burda pattern (7175) is listed only as "retro" - no year is given.  But the style looks to me like early 1960s.  I love the whole ensemble, and while I traced the pattern pieces for both the top and the skirt, I decided to start out by making the skirt only.  This is the first time I've used one of the Burda patterns that comes in an envelope, so this project was as much about testing the pattern company as it was about testing the garment.  I did a couple of searches, and haven't found any other examples of this garment or reviews for this pattern, so I wanted to include my two cents here.

The Burda patterns that come in the envelope have the seam allowances already included, unlike the ones from the magazine, so that's a plus.  One thing I liked about the tissue is that the finished hip measurement was clearly shown on the skirt piece.  Something I didn't like so much is that the sizing information is also printed on the tissue, rather than on the envelope.  I found it tedious to have to unfold the tissue to figure out what size to make, and then refer back to the envelope back for the fabric requirements.

I did my usual alteration of grading out to a larger size for my hips:  size 38 at the waist to 40 at the hips.  According to those finished measurements on the tissue, this should have been sufficient, giving me about an inch and a half of ease.  The true story though, is that from my initial basted fitting, I could tell it was too tight, so I did 4/8" seams rather than 5/8" - and it still wasn't enough.  So I would say that unlike the Big 4 pattern companies, the Burda patterns do not include excessive ease.  If I'd been really smart, I would have actually measured the pattern pieces, rather than taking their word for it!

The rating on the front of the envelope calls the pattern "easy" and I'd say that's accurate - IF you've ever sewn a skirt before.  The instructions are sketchy in some places, and the vent is rather strange.  I haven't made a whole lot of skirts with vents, but the way this one deals with the vent seems like a cheat to me:  you attach a square of fabric to the inside on the lining, so that it looks as if you'd done a small inverted pleat there.


I had a few reasons for making the skirt as given.  I trusted (perhaps wrongly) that this really was a reproduction of a pattern from the '60s, and I wanted to make something that fit as a lady would have worn it back then.  Also, since it's probably impossible to find a RTW pencil skirt that would fit my curvy frame, I don't have a whole lot of experience with how one is supposed to fit!  As I said, when I tried it on as I was making it, I already knew it was too tight, but decided to finish it anyway.  Interestingly, once I had the lining in, it seemed to fit much better!  The lining made the lines of the skirt much smoother than they had been.


Another factor in the poor fit of the skirt is probably my fabric choice.  This is a wool blend gabardine, chosen for its beautiful eau de nil color (and also its cheap price).  Of course, in the face of this gorgeous shade, I completely forgot that there's absolutely no give in gabardine.  In a fabric with some stretch, I could probably get away with using these pattern pieces.

I think the pattern cheats at the waistband too:  it's just a long rectangle.  I think this could have benefited from a more shaped waistband. 


This project was all about experimentation for me, and I'm still working on it, as I think it's got potential.  One of the things I tried out that I love was my new blind hem foot.  Check out the photo on the right above:  you can barely see where the hemming stitches poke through to the front of the fabric!  I've gotten fairly good at blind hems over the years, but this foot makes it incredibly easy to do it perfectly.  Well worth the few dollars I spent on it.

I do plan to let out the side seams a little, but I went ahead and took some pictures yesterday anyway because I had a little free time.  I also think it's good to see the drag lines in the photos - they really do show where the garment needs to be adjusted.   If I can't let this skirt out enough to make it more presentable, I may make it again in the same fabric, because it goes with a lot of my other me-mades!


With one of my Sencha blouses.  As you can see, all the drag lines are at the hips.  Although on a skirt, I guess there's not really anywhere else they would be!


With the 1940s reproduction silk blouse.


With a sweater I've had for years, but have nothing to wear with.  That nifty faux fur collar is part of the sweater.

And now for an admission:  I love that last outfit, and that sweater is the main reason why I want to make the skirt work.  When I first put on the two together, I thought, "The only thing I need to make this the perfect outfit is some leopard-print pumps."  I've been looking for the perfect pair for about 3 years, but never found anything that matched what I had in mind.  Until last week, when I was picking up a few things at Target, and I spied these beauties:


Exactly what I'd been looking for, and only thirty bucks!  (The uppers are even leather!)  So, for the first time in almost a year, I've broken my Seamless Pledge.  But I don't even care - they're perfect!

27 comments:

  1. have to start with that last outfit... it's just gorgeous on you! from head to toe (loooove the shoes!). you could definitely get away with the skirt without making alterations to it, i tend to wear the me-mades for a while before deciding to alter or not. i imagine just a little extra hip room would be perfect. i wouldn't have thought that color skirt would go with so many tops, but really it looks great paired with everything you posted!

    i've only sewn burda envelope for my kiddos, but they definitely don't fit like the big 4. i need to try one out for myself one of these days!

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    1. Hehehe - a little extra hip room is all I've got here! I think I can maybe give myself 1/4" more on each side.

      Isn't the color fabulous? It's one of my favorites, but my BFF always tells me I can't wear it next to my face, so I'm really happy to have a skirt from it.

      And this was a great reminder to ALWAYS measure the pattern pieces!

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  2. Ahhhhhh I've been dying for leopard pumps, too! Sorry, got sidetracked! I hope you can let the skirt out enough because the color and shape is GORGEOUS! It really does look amazing with all of these tops! I love the fur-trimmed sweater-- so elegant!

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    1. GO BUY THESE NOW!! They were down to $25 when I looked yesterday!

      Scheming on how I can let it out without having to redo the hem, LOL!

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  3. I ♥ the skirt on you! You may have curves but you definately rock on wearing a pencil skirt!
    Do you have shapewear undies (know what I mean, not sure about the English term here)? Maybe those are an option if you need a little more room... Just trying to help out because I really think you look fabulous and I don't think loosing a pound works with December around the corner... ;)

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    1. You better believe I'm wearing shapewear here! I always do under anything form fitting. And I have no plans to lose weight - I'm quite happy how I am :-) Just need to be a little more careful when sewing!

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  4. I wonder if they "re-sized" the pattern to make it fit today's bodies? Or, maybe it's meant to be a huggy skirt :)
    I love the shoes and your last outfit. You do have to get this skirt sorted so that you are comfy wearing it!

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    1. I was curious about that too - and wondering if it really is a "vintage" pattern or just a gimmick. And with just an illustration, it's hard to get an idea of the suggested fit! Although I have to admit, I do kind of love the illustrated envelopes as opposed to the photographic ones.

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  5. Your HB pencil skirt is pretty nice, my friend. Yes there are a few drag lines but you have to try this pattern again or let out the side seams or whatever else works to make it fit the way you want it. It's a lovely colour and a lovely shape on you, and now that you have those awesome shoes how could you not? Will there be a round 2 of HB pencil skirt coming soon? Say yes!

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    1. Yes, there will, but probably not soon! It's not really a practical garment for me, but I'm kind of fascinated by pencil skirts! I'm going to put it aside for a little while and sew some things that actually fit my lifestyle!

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  6. Obviously that pattern is too basic for someone of your skill level because you thought of so many ways that it could have been done better. Perhaps you should have been the designer instead! I totally agree with you on the vent, that is just not the most attractive way to do it. I also find it very strange that it fit better after you added the liner, I would have guessed that it would have been tighter. The mysteries of sewing! Anyways, it does look great on you, especially with those pretty heels!

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    1. Making a pencil skirt is super simple. Getting the right fit, not so much! I'm finding it fun to experiment with this.

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  7. What a beautiful colour for a skirt and I agree, that last outfit is the best!
    Those butt draglines are the same as my first muslin for the meringue skirt which is temporarily abandoned, lol. I was advised to let out the centre back and then increase the darts so the waist stays the same... I could send you embarrasing pics, lol!

    Also, I have heard adding a lining can take almost a size off, so very cool to hear that it worked for you!

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    1. I don't want to let out the center back! Then I'd have to do the whole darn zipper again! As much as I love the new invisible zipper foot, I'd rather not do it again! So shamefully lazy!

      Isn't that weird about the lining? I wonder what is the mechanism by which that works?

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  8. Oh my days - that final outfit is to die for! I do hope you can squeeze out a little more ease so you can wear it comfortably!

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    1. Me too! And I hope I can make myself do it sooner rather than later. Somehow, I procrastinate a lot more about reworking a garment than I do about making a whole new one!

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  9. Love the color and my favorite outfit is the one with the black Sencha. So elegant! Never having made a Burda pattern myself, does it say on the pattern that the seam allowance is 5/8"? It may be smaller to begin with Grainline uses 1/2".

    Also I can't remember if you have a serger but RTW sometimes uses 1/4" allowances, so I'm sure you could use as low as 3/8" and just overlook or zig zag the allowances before you press them again to give them more stability. Definitely repost photos when you correct the skirt.

    BTW, you practically made me order from Girl Charlee. ;) I mentioned in the notes on the order form that I heard about them from you, so hopefully they'll send you a little thank you of some sort.

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    1. It does have 5/8" seam allowances, which kind of surprised me. I thought they used a different SA in Europe, but this line looks like maybe it's owned by Simplicity now?

      Anyway, yes, all the raw edges are already serged, so I do have a fair bit of room to let it out. It's just that remaking something is nowhere near as fun as making it the first time!

      And yay for Girl Charlee! I got suckered into ordering more during the sale too! More t-shirts to come! Thank you so much for mentioning me - that was really sweet!

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  10. Love the color, love those shoes, love that fur-collared sweater! Amazing. Beautiful!

    Totally weird about the pleat though- that does seem very cheater-esque. And the waistband too... hmmm. Shortcuts, or authentic vintage styling? I'm going to have to assume shortcuts. Either way though, the finished skirt looks fab on you. And I'm sure 1/2" will be plenty to ease those tiny wrinkles.

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    1. And of course, by pleat I meant vent. Because yeah, it's totally the same thing.

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    2. Well, I think We Who Sew have to use code words, so everybody else really gets it that We're Cool!

      On the Simplicity website, it refers to that vent as a Dior design element, and there are Dior darts on the blouse. But it sure seems like a cheat to me.

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  11. It is very strange because I use a lot of Burda envelope pattern and they never ever have seam allowance included. You're probably right to think they were designed for a specific market by Simplicity!
    The skirt is gorgeous and I can see why you want to make it work. Have you tried the pencil skirt pattern by Simplicity in the Amazing Fit collection (2475)? It has three versions of fit : slim, normal and curvy. I've just fnished a princess seam dress from this collection and I love the fit.

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    1. Yes, maybe for us lazy Americans?! LOL!

      I will definitely check out that Simplicity pattern - thanks for the tip!

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  12. Gorgeous color choice and gorgeous hemming. I never could make that hemming foot work all that well :-(. I hope letting out the seams a bit works because I agree the skirt goes great with a lot of things. In particular, I love that last outfit (and I pinned it!). I wish I could find a sweater like that with the faux fur collar. I may need to sew or knit a collar just for the heck of it! I have to make a Target run soon and will look for those shoes for sure. So cute! Definitely worthy of breaking the pledge.

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    1. This went to spam somehow and I just saw it, two days later :-(

      I got this sweater (and a similar cardigan in dark brown) from Loft probably 7 years ago! That's a long time to have something sitting in the drawer, waiting for a complementary piece to go with it!

      Do check out the shoes - even Hubby felt it was a great buy!

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