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!