Thursday 31 March 2016

BurdaStyle Magazine 03/2016 - 121 Dress

I liked a lot of things in this issue, but this dress particularly jumped out at me as being pretty much my idea of the perfect sheath dress - cap sleeves, a bit of asymmetry and some interest with the front pleats.

03/2016 - 121 Dress Pattern

I really like the sleeveless version 120 with the ruffle too - another fabric, another day.

The pattern is designed for stretch fabrics only, I used a double knit which is much heavier than their bridal section stretch crepes, but still works.  In fact it made it a lot easier because I didn't need to bother with lining or a zip.  I also didn't finish the inside edges, they will not fray and serving them just added extra bulk that wasn't needed.

The original dress is fully lined, with an additional layer of interlining on the front.  I think if you made this a stretch crepe or something similarly lightweight this would probably be necessary to keep the front pleats in place and stop them drooping.  In a double knit, provided the dress is fitted enough, those pleats should (hopefully!) stay where they are meant to.

With my shortcuts this is a pretty straightforward dress to sew.  Burda's instructions seem much more detailed than usual and most of them appear to be related to the lining so that you get a clean finish at the edges.  I had the dress looking 90% finished within a couple of evenings and then ground to a halt and procrastinated for ages on how to finish my edges and hems because I wanted that same clean look, but successfully sewing double knit by hand so that it is completely invisible and stretchy proved too much for my skills and patience levels!

After a bit of trial and error I used a twin needle on the hem which I mitred at the slit edges, topstitched around the back slit (which is open in my case rather than a vent), simply turned and machined the part of the underarm seam not attached to the sleeve and applied a facing strip to the neckline which I under stitched and topstitched in place.   Now I have got over my need for a clean finish I am completely happy with the choices I made, definitely more RTW than couture, but it's very secure and absolutely nobody is going to notice, even me in a short while.

I really like the finished dress, it looks red in these photos, but the fabric is actually a burnt orange / cinnamon colour purchased last year at Pitt St Trading in Sydney.  I'm glad I waited to use it.

Sunday 13 March 2016

BurdaStyle 12/2015 - 110A Dress

It feels like ages since I made a dress from BurdaStyle, there was a time when I made almost nothing else.  I really liked the lines on this dress, although I'm not sure how often I will have the occasion to wear it, long sleeve season is pretty short here and this dress is quite formal.

I cut a 38 grading out to a 40 below the waist and made a few adjustments during construction:

  • This was the tall pattern, designed for heights of 5'9 rather than 5'6.  I shortened the dress by around 4 inches so that it was knee length on me.  I'm sure the pattern is drafted with extra length in the torso too, but I didn't find it necessary to alter anywhere other than the hem.
  • I found the sleeves to be really narrow so I had to recut them in a bigger size which of course gave me all kinds of problems setting in the sleeve.  There is a dart at the top of the sleeve which is supposed to be sewn at the same time as the shoulder seam, but I found it much easier to get the sleeve in by stitching the dart first and then setting it in the standard way.  It doesn't look as smooth done this way, but I'm treating it as a design feature!
  • I ditched the neck facing and instead used a folded bias strip to finish the neckline.  I topstitched the neckline to secure the bias strip and narrow hemmed the skirt and sleeves.  I find some fabrics are impossible to hem invisibly and I'd rather have neat machine stitching showing than my imperfect (not) invisible hand stitching.

The pleats in the skirt are held in place by a piece of lining that acts as a stay, it's a really nice feature.

The fabric I used is a navy drapy dress fabric, probably a poly crepe.  It has a nice weight and drape, but is not easy to press well.  The magazine sample uses a jersey for the short version and a stretch crepe for the maxi version although the fabric recommendations are "dress fabrics with or without elastane".  Some stretch would have probably avoided my tight sleeve issue, but otherwise it's true that stretch is optional.

Taking photos of navy clothing is as tricky as black, but hopefully you get the idea.  It's a cute dress, I just need to find somewhere to wear it!