Basics – a Burda pencil skirt and a Forget-me-not Patterns Vera top

This is one of those boring posts about basics. Great for blogs that are mainly personal journals, like mine. Not so good for blogs that other people actually read.

And to make it worse, this post comes with not so great photos of creased garments and tired faces because the photography was done at the end of a day of sitting at a desk. At least I am wearing yellow snakeskin ankle boots. That’s got to count for something!

Feel free to move on to something more interesting and with better images.

Basic 1: The Camel Pencil Skirt.

Camel is supposed to be one of those excellent basics. So are pencil skirts. I’m a fan of pencil skirts. And I’m very taken with pencil skirts that have a teeny bit more interest than normal. Like this one with its horizontal darts.

I used this pattern for one of my gorgeous Linton tweeds but it was not a resounding success. The tweed version may have stretched out, or been traced too big. Whatever.

So this pattern needed a second chance. And what better fabric to use than one I picked up at a fabric swap! This polyester twill fabric was from my dear friend M of Nonsuch, who had already offered her large remnant to me. I didn’t recognize its potential until I saw it again at the fabric swap.

This skirt turned out so much better than the Linton Tweed version.

Changes I made were minimal – I took 5 cm off the length (still plenty long enough for that retro look) and shaved about 1 cm of the side seams above the hips (making this a sort of size 47 waist, I should have just gone to a straight size 46 because its still loose).

Its lined with a lovely bemsilk from the stash, and I love the way my aqua label really pops.

Basic #2: a Black Knit Top.

This is Vera, a free PDF pattern from Forget-me-not Patterns

This pattern is also elevated above basic with its sleeves and subtle high low hem

The V-neck is nicely proportioned, and the instructions for achieving a nice finish for the V neck are terrific.

My first version was a size 42 in a red fine merino wool, and it was a bit too big. I wanted to make the next version in a black merino/nylon blend. The black knit is much firmer than the red 100% merino knit. I also knew that I’d made both into a Papercut rise turtleneck in the same size and the black one was almost too tight whereas the red one was just right.

So, with all that in mind, I went ahead with the firmer black knit cut out in the same size as the red one, but sewed it up with a seam allowance of 10 mm rather than 6 mm.

It worked well! either the fabric difference or the larger seam allowance, or both..

The sleeves really are quite lovely – here’s the red one at work (I made this first version wearable by shortening the shoulder seam by 8 mm and reattaching the sleeves and reducing width through the body of the top about the same).

Lesson (re)learned- stretch and drape and weight matters with knits!

14 thoughts on “Basics – a Burda pencil skirt and a Forget-me-not Patterns Vera top

  1. I like seeing reviews of basics. They end up being what you wear most. Sadly, my (now cancelled) Burda subscription began 4/2010, so I don’t have this skirt.
    Your shirt looks nice, and free 🤣, but the sizing is very pear shaped, the opposite of me (I think I’m more your daughter’s shape, but short).
    And although the sleeves add a touch of interest, the underside of sleeves on my forearm seem to be a dirt magnet, even with close fitting sleeves. The baggier the more stains I seem to collect 🤪🤣🤣
    Maybe it’s because I’m short, my sleeves are in closer contact with benches, at a flatter angle, than for taller people 🤣 I can’t lift them out of the way 😏

    • The sizing is pear shaped on the top. A free pattern is a good way to work out if you like how the designer drafts!
      I know what you mean about big sleeves. This one is fine for me. I’d presumed it was because the fitted cuff is so long. I hadn’t thought about height impacting on bench tops for people shorter than average.
      Another reason we sew – we can avoid features that don’t work for us!

      • I just went and checked on my kitchen bench, after I wrote this, and I have to raise my wrists to do things on bench, resulting in my arms resting against the bench edge. Couldn’t put in lower benches because my DH is a foot taller, and he has to hunch over as it is. So it is definitely my height. I hadn’t thought about why my sleeves ended up so dirty before 😂

  2. Pfft ‘no one reads this’ ! I like your sewing journey and your real photos – unless you are photoshopped, in which case it’s even more entertaining!

    Thank you for your tips and commentary on your sewing. Spring is when I want to make skirts and it doesn’t happen every year but this year I’m more likely to dig through the stash because of your posts. Thanks. Cheers, Kat.


    • Love the idea of photoshopping to make me look even more ‘real’. Not sure I could but don’t tempt me! Also love the idea that I could only photoshop so much and this is as good as it gets. Ahem. Perhaps don’t tell me what you really meant 😂
      Delighted that I’ve inspired you to sew your stash.

  3. Can’t go wrong with a pencil skirt for work. Must try out that Vera top. I do have it downloaded. Yours looks great

  4. You are my kind of blogger! It’s real. Nobody is perfectly pressed all the time, nor really up for pix. I love skirts, so enjoy ready about different styles and what works with different fabrics!

  5. Possibly an unpopular opinion, but I like pictures of clothes with wearing creases in them! My clothes, at least, are fresh and smooth for about an hour at the beginning of the day, and then creased forever after, so it’s more accurate. 🙂 Your skirt outside looks super nice and wearable and well-made, but I LOVE the super tidy insides! That champage + gold + aqua pop is beautiful together. If only there was some sort of national holiday where we could wear our clothes inside-out. Sewists would have so much fun.

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