Monday, 4 May 2015

A plan that came together (Burda 03-2013-124 in blue gingham)

Late last year, around December, I had a sudden yen for a blue gingham shirt, pinned about 30 images of people wearing them on Pinterest, and then went in search of suitable fabric. Sadly, most gingham fabric available seems to be very cheap but rather nasty heavy-on-the-poly polycotton or else very expensive named brand quilting cotton. Eventually, however, I turned up a seller with a range of inexpensive 100% cotton ginghams, including a rather nice dark blue. The problem was that it was only 110cm wide. Actually, the problem was not that it is 110cm wide, it's more than I kind of hand-waved the question of how much I needed without checking, all "if I can get a shirt out of 1.6m of 150cm wide, then 2m of 110cm wide will be completely fine!". Then it turned out none of my existing shirt patterns actually did fit on the fabric and I was briefly stymied.

Burda 03-2013-124, taken from the magazine
Meanwhile, I also have a lovely piece of hoarded linen to make a shirt from for this summer. I had picked out Burda 03-2013-124 as a possible pattern for that fabric, but while I am pretty confident about new shirt patterns now as I have a handle on fitting them, I also didn't want to cut into my treasured linen fabric with an untried pattern. As it would be trivial to replace the gingham and since the pattern is for various reasons relatively undemanding for fabric length (overall length, one piece collar, full length sleeves but made for rolling without plackets or cuffs) it was a perfect combination. I managed JUST BARELY to squeeze the pattern onto my 2m of gingham. I had so little left after I cut the main pieces that I had to cut the collar on the cross-grain and piece the bias binding for the inner collar. There was zero possibility that I could do any fancy matching on the shoulder/sleeve seams (which is something I'd been reading about), but I did get it all out somehow with matched front and side-seams.

My version of Burda 03-2013-124
The main reason I was particularly keen to test run this pattern with the gingham is that, as mentioned in previous blog posts, my weight has been dropping recently for various (mainly medication related) reasons. I'm presently towards the low-middle end of what I consider to be my normal range. Quite a few of my larger sized garments are looking just a little too big on me and since this top is for immediate wear over the next couple of months, I decided it behooved upon me to take some measurements and potentially start from a smaller size than I have normally with Burda.

Side view -- you can see the side and sleeve tabs on this shot (and just barely, the matched side-seams), and also the way the front swings forward
I ended up with the usual hodge podge of sizes after my adjustments, but overall about 1-2 sizes smaller than usual. The back is the most straightforward: it's a 40 at the shoulder, tapering to a 42 through the waist and hip, with a 1cm square shoulder adjustment. The sleeves are a straight size 44 but my elbows are still wider (how is it possible that my elbows are 3 sizes larger than my shoulders!?) than a size 44 and I may need to adjust the lower arm slightly. The front is a size 40 at the shoulder, with a 1cm square shoulder adjustment and a 2.5cm FBA. I created a bust dart, which is just about visible if you look for it on the shot above, and I left the width in rather than tapering the extra out at the waist and hip. This is fine as far as it goes. I am not a size 40 at the waist/hip, after all, but nor am I am a size 40 + 2.5cm, it turns out, and as a result there's just a little bit too much volume at the front hip that swings forward.

Back view
Normally, I would probably have changed the length of the top a little and I was a bit concerned that this was going to end up too short. However, I really didn't have enough fabric to change it by even 1cm in length. As it turns out, I really like this length, so I'm happy! I do like a shirt-tail hem, as well which this mimics with the buttoned side-tabs.

Front view on me
Although I feel really comfortable with the bust fit -- i.e. it doesn't pull or gape and I have plenty of wearing ease as far as movement is concerned -- the photos on me show a certain amount of "you need a larger FBA!" wrinklage going on. I also noticed that the bust dart ended up just a smidgeon too low -- just about 1cm or so -- which might help. I've managed to accidentally cut off the evidence in my side on shot, but I also definitely also need a small-ish high round back adjustment -- my collar is pulling away from the back of my neck just a touch. Other than that I'm pretty pleased! (To be fair, my standards for fit are probably not all that high. I'll still make those little alterations before I made this again, however.)

Back view on me

Side view on me

I also really love some of the details of this shirt. This was a great reminder why I love Burda and own so many of the magazines -- the fact that the pattern goes together so well, and that there are so many great little construction and design details. Of course you can do anything you like with buttons, but personally I probably don't think to change things up too much from pattern directions. I love the groups of three that this pattern suggests, and for once they were perfectly lined up for me so that I got right depth of neckline wearing the shirt open and good button coverage at the bust. I admit I was a bit doubtful about the collar -- I've only made two-piece collars up to now, except for that one decidedly underwhelming Butterick top, where, I must admit, the collar is a perpetual source of annoyance. This one came up lovely, even though I had had to resort to cutting it on the cross-grain.

Collar and button detail
I was exceedingly puzzled by the instructions initially for how to finish the inside of the collar with the bias strip, but actually LOVE the finish this gave me when I figured out what Burda wanted me to do. The main thing is that you have to trim as much excess as possible -- I ended up with like 4mm seam allowances left under the bias strip -- in order to sew the strip nicely and avoid a massive lumpy seam. My other seam finishes were just the usual shirt-making stuff -- flat-felled everywhere, including, for only the second time, the shoulder seams, and narrow-ish hems.

View of inner collar bound with bias strip
The one construction detail that, in retrospect, I wish I had done differently, is the sleeves. I don't think I had enough fabric for any reasonable kind of cuff, but if I HAD, I think I would have been more annoyed by the plain hemmed sleeves. They're meant to be rolled up, and they do look fine that way. However, it looks a bit odd if you wear them unrolled and they are sort of 7/8th length on me, which I loathe. Luckily, pattern #125 is the same shirt but longer and with true cuffs (with a bound placket) as well as a pocket, so if I did want to make this again as a true long-sleeved shirt it wouldn't be at all problematic to do so.

And that's my gingham shirt! I love how it came out and I'm really pleased that I decided to make this as my first summer-y garment. I never bother to "style" my fit photos for this blog, but I plan to wear this with white or navy linen trousers or shorts this summer.

Next up: I am not entirely sure! I feel a bit like a centipede on roller-skates -- trying to go in too many directions at once. I may start on a long-planned bag project next while I contemplate my next garment project.


  1. I LOVE it! It is so nice and it fits you very well. I really like the side button tabs and you did an excellent job on the collar!!

    1. Thanks! I wore it for the first time today and it is GREAT. :D

  2. That is a beautiful Blouse,and it looks great on you!

  3. The shirt looks really nice on you. Enjoyed reading your blog. You have made me want to track down some Burda magazines.

    1. Thank you! I am a huge fan of both Burda and Ottobre, but there's no doubt that they can be harder to find in some places and the extra effort of tracing patterns and the minimal text only instructions don't suit everyone. Still, they are a wonderful resource for patterns, I find.