Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Burda Style 09-2010-122: Mama Gets a New Red Dress

Bet you thought I was kidding about making this:
One thing that I love about Burda Style magazine is how the designs I am most drawn to are almost always too small for me. Forty two seems to be some kind of magic number for them. Dress #122 from the September 2010 issue was no exception.

When I got my hands on the mag, having already fallen in love with the dress in the online preview, I eagerly checked the size. It's 17-21. Wait, that's the petite equivalent of 34-42. My heart sank. If I wanted to make this dress, I was going to have to grade up and deal with the petite issue. Not a small thing with such an unusual pattern.
So I procrastinated. You see, I really love Burda. The garments are interesting and always turn out to be conversation pieces. But, and this is a big but, the prep work is daunting. I hate to trace, and adding seam allowances is no fun either. Especially when I have tons of Big 4 patterns that are ready and waiting to be pinned and cut out. Add adjustments to the mix and things are starting to get annoying. And for all the raving that goes on about Burda's superior fit and draft, I often find that I get better results from the Big 4. So I have to really want something from Burda to actually go to all the trouble of making it. And I really wanted this dress.
So what did I have to do to make it fit? I graded up. I decided to start with the size 21 (42) at the shoulder, and I graded out to a 22 (44) at the first horizontal seam. From the underarm down to the hip I graded up one size to a 22/44, and from the hip down, I graded up two sizes to a 23/46. Then I had to "unpetite" the pattern. I decided not to adjust the upper bodice piece because I usually petite my patterns above the bust by folding out 1/4" to 3/8". Burda conveniently did it for me. The rest of my torso, however, is not petite, so I added 1.5" of length to the midriff piece- 1/2" to make up for the petiteness of the pattern, and another 1" to compensate for my long torso- a standard adjustment for me. Once I made all my adjustments, I then added my seam allowances last.
After making a muslin to check the fit (amazingly all my grading and adjusting worked) I cut into my fabric- red Ponte de Roma knit from Hancock's. This stuff was a dream to work with- easy to sew and easy to wear, too. All those curved seams went together like magic!
And those seams are the key to this dress. I love the curved front seams that wrap around to the back, and the back seams that are topped off by the horizontal yoke seam at the top. They give a nice width to the shoulder and length to the body.

The construction was easy. I mostly ignored the instructions. Basically, all the front horizontal seams are sewn, then the front is sewn to the back, the back yoke is added and the shoulder seams are stitched last. Since I left off the arm flaps, I was able to assemble the dress and then use bias tape to finish the armholes. The neck facing was kind of tricky, but not difficult. I serged the edges of the facing to finish them (all seams are serged inside) and then sewed the facing on- the trick is to only sew your shoulder seams on both the dress and the facing up to the neckline stitching line. Leaving the seam allowances unsewn allows you to turn the facing to the inside- the enclosed neck seam allowances lay nice and flat inside and there is minimal bulk. I tacked the facing down all the way around like a hem so it wouldn't roll to the outside.
I love this dress. It's unique, it's flattering, and it's red. What more could I ask for? I plan to get lots of mileage out of this one. (I left off the arm flaps to keep it from looking too trendy and possibly outdated too soon.)

Would I make this again? At first I was sure I wouldn't. It's pretty unique and one is probably enough, but I wore it to work today and it was so comfortable and fun to wear that I got to thinking. It would be gorgeous in another color- maybe emerald green, or teal. And what if it had a little cap sleeve? Maybe a different neckline- a scoop in front or maybe a V-neck in back?

You might see this one again...

In other sewing news, I have completed a muslin of my Vintage Sewalong pattern. Stay tuned for a report on that project, and there are a couple more Burda projects in the pipeline, too.

16 comments:

sewing spots said...

Great fit! And, you're right! It is an unique dress and suits you well. Perfect choice.

Sharon said...

I have red dress envy! I LOVE this! I'm with you on the Burda prep stuff - not much of a fan of that myself. But it sure paid off for you this time. I made the skirt but wasn't going to bother with the dress. You just changed my mind.

beurreblanc said...

You look fabulous in this. Perfect fit too! well done.

Sewingelle

Vicki W said...

Great dress and it fits you perfect!

AllisonC said...

You did a fantastic job fitting this, its perfect for you - now you have done all that hard work it would be a shame not to make another one.

Karin said...

I'll echo the other comments: fantastic fit! You look amazing in this dress. I can see why you are tempted to make another one.

Shannon said...

What a great dress - the colour, the style, everything!

gwensews said...

That's a very pretty dress. I understand the frustration with the prep work. I try to think of prep work as just part of the journey and not get in a big hurry to reach my destination.

Juliane said...

Gorgeous, and the fit is wonderful. How would this look in a stretch denim? You're giving me ideas....

kbenco said...

This looks amazing, classic enough to wear for years, but details that make it really interesting and smart. I am green with envy at your wonderful fitting and perfect seam matching skills. I have been putting off this dress because the idea of fitting with all those curved seams makes me extremely nervous, so I am very, very impressed with your dress.

MushyWear said...

You achieved a beautiful fit on this. "It's unique, it's flattering, and it's red." I couldn't agree more!

beangirl said...

his is really a great dress (and you got a great fit on it). You should definitely make another one (or two). I wonder if you could do some color blocking with the yoke piece(s) to sort of mix it up and not feel like Suzy Same Dress? I personally think this is so nice on you, it really wouldn't be a problem to have a bunch, but I know how it goes when you feel like you're wearing the same dress all the time.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Genius idea to make this in a double knit--very flattering result!

Rose said...

Way to go, Mama! Your red dress looks great.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Beautiful! I so understand what you said about the Big4 and Burda. You know I used an older BS pattern to make 2 dresses last year and even though they fit like a dream are easy to wear and get lots of compliments ~ making them take some commitment! So your dress is just amazing and you definitely should make it again in a couple of colors so you can gain back some of that work you put into the pattern work!

a little sewing on the side said...

This dress turned out so well. Your grading work was so very successful. I bet you feel like a million bucks in this!