Tuesday, August 9, 2016

BurdaStyle Shift Dress 04/2016 #115, a Wearable Muslin

Some unselfish sewing coming off my machine and onto the blog today, folks! This is the first of a whole mess of unselfish sewing that I've done in the past few months...


When I was traveling in Vietnam a few months ago, my friend Holly and I spotted a lovely dress made from a pretty brocade (I think?) fabric in her favorite color: yellow. It has these giant grazing birds on it. What do you think they are? Cranes? (Update: PepperReed tells me they're Red-crowned Cranes, or Grus Japonensis) In any case, she wasn't feeling the style of the dress (pictured below), but loved the fabric.


A couple days later, when fabric shopping in one of Vietnam's traditional markets (now I can't remember if it was Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Dinh Market or Hanoi's Don Xuan), I saw the yellow bird brocade and snapped up a piece of it for Holly.


Now that we had the fabric, it was time to search for an appropriate pattern. We wanted something simple, without too many darts or seams to break up the giant birds. We looked at a ton of shift dress patterns, many of which tend towards a vintage look. But ultimately landed on this Burdastyle shift dress (04/2016 #115), which is more in Holly's wheelhouse, style-wise. The pattern is a straight cut modern shift with bust darts, cut-on sleeves, a fun v-shaped back neckline with a band to keep it on your shoulders and, finally, in-seam pockets (pockets are a must for Holly... the first thing she said when she tried on the dress was "It has pockets!"):


This was my second Burdastyle experience, but my first (the Anda dress, which I made a couple times) was so early in my garment sewing career that I am not even sure I knew what seam allowances were and certainly didn't realize that I needed to add them to the pattern. So let's call this my first Burdastyle experience, shall we?


This particular Burdastyle pattern lived up to the Burdastyle reputation in many ways: lovely design, but incredibly sparse (and occasionally nonsensical) instructions, as well as a few unexpected twists. The twists, for example: the pattern includes pieces for neckline facings even though the instructions talk about lining the dress. Also, the front neckline facing piece has lines for a center front slit, which is not mentioned or pictured at all. Another funny: the dress is pictured with cuffs on the sleeves, but the pattern pieces for those are not included; you have to draft them yourself. Sigh. Luckily, this is an incredibly simple pattern, so I was able to ignore the instructions and follow my own method of construction.


I decided I needed to make a wearable muslin of the dress since I was unsure about the fit/ease in Burdastyle and hadn't sewn a dress for Holly before. I wasn't sure what adjustments she might need. For the muslin, I used a hand-stamped Indonesian batik cotton from my stash, figuring the diagonal lines would look cool on the shift dress, uninterrupted by seamlines. When I pulled the dress off the machine, however, I had a brief moment of panic: had I accidentally made an Indonesian hospital gown?

Um, nope, Holly makes it elegant AF, as the kids these days say:


I love how the wearable muslin looks on Holly! Not hospital gown-y at all, but rather a fun, stylish casual day dress! She loves the pockets (of course) and the back detail. The dress is great, because in this cotton fabric, it can be dressed up or worn with sneakers (Holly's footwear of choice, being a long distance trail runner).


I use the neckline facings (skipping the front slit bit): I interfaced them and sewed the back tie/band thingy in on both sides, sandwiched between the facing and bodice, rather than attach a snap like the pattern suggests. In order to get it to lay flat, I had to pull it a little bit tighter than called for. I didn't end up drafting any cuffs, but instead added a 5/8" seam allowance to the sleeves and then serged and turned them under before sewing up the side seams.

After taking these photos with Holly, I stole the dress back to topstitch the facings down. You can see they're popping out in the photo despite all of my understitching. This casual version of the dress has lots of visible topstitching, anyway, so no big deal.


It's fairly loose in the bust area, but we liked how the shoulders fit, so for her "Put a Bird on It" dress I planned to do a small bust adjustment.

Holly likes it, I think!


More on the Put a Bird on It dress soon!

19 comments:

  1. Beautiful! Looks lovely on you as well!

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    1. Thanks, Glenda! Ha ha, it's not me, it's my friend, but I did sew the dress!

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  2. that is a very cool version of that simple pattern (which I recently downloaded but have not sewn up yet) the diagonal fabric just makes it. And the fit is spot on.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! I was happy to be able to use some of my diagonal printed fabric. The fit's a bit roomy in the bust, but it was great everywhere else, so for her final version I removed the bust dart.

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  3. Awesome! The pattern is really my style, but I don't pay much attention to Burda patterns, so thanks for the review.

    The yellow 'bird on it' fabric features The Red-crowned Crane, Grus japonensis, found in NE China, SE Russia, Korea, and Hokkaido Japan.

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    1. Oooh- thanks for the bird details!!

      I am not a big Burda sewer so far, although I have downloaded a handful of their plus size patterns to sew for myself. Maybe I'll be a convert if I can move past the awful instructions.

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    2. Updated the blog post with the crane's common and scientific name- thank you!!

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  4. So breezy and light! Definitely does not look like a hospital gown on your statuesque and stylish friend (it might look like that on me, I think!), especially with those shoes and the cute back! Perfect for a hot and sticky Bangkok day.

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    1. :-) Definitely not a hospital gown once it's on her body- she makes it look good!!

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  5. I had to LOL at "Indonesian hospital gown." I didn't have that thought at all when I saw the dress. I really like the back neckline. You got a beautiful fit through the shoulders, and I like the simple sleeves - I think you made the right call leaving the cuffs off. Can't wait to see the brocade version - that fabric is awesome! We need to get to Asia one of these tours ...

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    1. Ha ha, I never went to the hospital when I lived in Indonesia, but judging by their love of batik for everyday wear, I wouldn't be surprised if their hospital gowns were batik ;-)

      We were happy with the fit on this dress, with the exception of the bust- for the bird dress we just took the bust darts out completely and I think the fit is even better!

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  6. Chic AF indeed! She looks fab and can't wait to see the yellow version! What a lovely friend you are!

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    1. Thanks so much! Ha ha, not that good a friend- the bird one was supposed to be for her birthday in June and I just finished it last week ;-)

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  7. Oh my goodness! I can't wait to see the bird one too! It's going to be amazing :)

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    1. It came out pretty cool, Sherri! Coming soon!

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  8. The bird fabric will be pretty, and the pockets are in a great spot! Ah Burdastyle. Love the styling, but always requires some mental prep. I do love their patterns if for no other reason than the tracing makes it easy to size down neck and shoulders to the 32 I need, and I like having control over how wide my seam allowances are as I vary them based on where they're located. Though their instructions don't translate into English well, the wee cutting diagrams with the numbers are 100% accurate. The tiny numbered seams have saved my bacon many times, even getting me through a skirt from a very unfriendly Russian version of the magazine (ugh Cyrillic!).

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    1. I don't have a ton of experience with Burdastyle, but I would definitely try them again for simpler styles. I tried a pattern recently that has the varied seam allowances- having smaller seam allowances at the neckline really saved time trimming and clipping! Ha, I can't believe you attempted a Russian pattern (well, unless you speak Russian!).

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  9. The bird fabric will be pretty, and the pockets are in a great spot! Ah Burdastyle. Love the styling, but always requires some mental prep. I do love their patterns if for no other reason than the tracing makes it easy to size down neck and shoulders to the 32 I need, and I like having control over how wide my seam allowances are as I vary them based on where they're located. Though their instructions don't translate into English well, the wee cutting diagrams with the numbers are 100% accurate. The tiny numbered seams have saved my bacon many times, even getting me through a skirt from a very unfriendly Russian version of the magazine (ugh Cyrillic!).

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  10. Holly is very fortunate to have you as a friend. That muslin looks ready to wear. You sew so beautifully.

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