Dramatic Byrony

This post marks what I feel is one of those little rites of sewing passage, or at least it was for me – first time using a Burda pattern and therefore, by necessity, adding my own seam allowances. Spoiler: it was fine.

I was browsing the Tops section on the BurdaStyle website a while ago and came upon the Knot Blouse, #107 from the July 2013 issue. On their model it’s styled to look pretty feminine, but my first thought is probably encapsulated by my first comment to my partner: “Is this blouse far too Lord Byron, or exactly Lord Byron enough?”

It’s easier to see in the plain photograph, I think:

Image from BurdaStyle’s website.

I’m sure any passers-by with actual knowledge of Romantic fashion can point out the many ways in which this is hilariously inaccurate, but in this instance I was after a general impression of a vague era rather than strict historical accuracy. (I say “in this instance” – this is pretty much always how I roll. There’s a reason I’m a LARPer rather than a re-enactor.)

And as it so happens, I have a vampire-themed costume party to be at this weekend. Okay, so technically it’s Buffy-themed, but I’ve never watched Buffy. I have, however, seen Interview with the Vampire … you may be able to see where this is going.

This is Tom Cruise as Lestat, in the 18th-century part of the film:

Image owned by Geffen Pictures.

Image owned by Geffen Pictures.

How much shirt is that man wearing? Blimey.

Anyway, I set to, downloading and taping the pattern, and promptly encountered all the things people in the sewing blogosphere have already warned of when it comes to Burda patterns:

  • the coding system used to show you which bit of the PDF tapes to where is bizarre and counterintuitive (at least to me);
  • the suggested fabric layout is way inefficient;
  • the instructions are a) rudimentary
  • and b) kind of garbled, probably because of being translated out of German.

I knew this was a very baggy pattern – the handkerchief hem means there’s acres of fabric hanging down at the hip. It was one of the reasons I went for this pattern rather than another frilly shirt: I have big hips, am sized out of most Burda patterns, and did not feel like having adventures in grading on top of everything else that needed doing. I figured the drapey hem would give me enough space.

I cut the 88 – it’s one of their Tall patterns; I took a bit off the bottom to account for only being 5′ 6″ – for which the specified hip measurement is a good four inches smaller than mine, and discovered that the handkerchief hem only has the beautiful draped look of the picture when carefully arranged that way. Never mind ‘enough space’, I was swimming in it.

Cue drastic alterations. Not with much care or attention – this is a costume shirt, not one likely to get much real-life rotation – and also is not especially fitted. (Does have interestingly curved bust darts, though.) I took at least an inch out of the bottom of each side seam, graded to nothing just below the bust, and then, when the sack effect was still well in evidence, about the same out of the CF and CB seams. (It’s not drafted with a full CB seam – mine ended up with one owing to lazy cutting layout.)

To add a bit of interest to the sleeves, I folded the facing to be on the outside rather than the inside as a sort of pseudo-cuff, and added off-white eyelet trim to give a lacy effect. More of the same trim went on the collar. The inside of the collar got a different layer of eyelet trim when I decided (garment finished) it was too floopy, cut it open, wrestled some fusible interfacing into the hole and then had to conceal the slit.

The fabric was a plain white double sheet found in a charity shop for 50p, which proved to be a comfortable and co-operative 50/50 poly-cotton blend. The trim came from the basket of odd ends at Samuel Taylor – 3 for £2 on couple-of-metre bundles – so call it another 70p. Overall, marvellously cheap!

Here’s the final product, on the dressform (I say final – unhemmed). The diagonal wrinkles don’t show up nearly as much when it’s on me.


And here’s a closeup of the ring I’m using to keep the collar together, rather than knot it:


Which is a sneaky nod to another fictional vampire, in this case my old Vampire: the Masquerade RP character. Clan Toreador represent!


About Craft (Alchemy)

I make things and make things up.
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One Response to Dramatic Byrony

  1. Pingback: The White Devil | Craft (Alchemy)

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