Hold that thought please, I have a lot of fashion and grammatical commas here for you with my newest dress creation.
Let me tell you right off, I am really not a fan of wearing basic black – in fact, I tend to avoid it and instead gravitate towards the assorted spectrum of colors. Perchance I see too many ladies over-using black in their wardrobe, and too much of this color (which is absent of color) offered in the stores, thus I might unjustly be overlooking an interesting possibility in my sewing in my effort to be an individual. However basic a little black dress may be, I need something a little extra special to make me wear such a dark color…and this “comma dot” dress with its special touches are just right for me!
This project is sort of a re-fashion, actually. It was cobbled together using a satin remnant, leftover lining, and a store bought pleated skirt. I’m tickled at how well all my different pieces go together!
FABRIC: One yard of a buff satin remnant, in black with white commas; remnant of poly pongee lining; a cotton/poly blend broadcloth for the placket and neckline; and a poly jersey pleated skirt bought from a Target store
NOTIONS: None but thread, which was on hand, was really needed, until I decided to make a hook-and-eye placket. Then I had to buy black hook-and-eyes in size 2.
TIME TO COMPLETE: From start to finish, my dress was easy, as I didn’t have to make the pleated bottom section. Total time to “finished” was about 5 hours. The hidden-closure placket alone probably took up half of my total time. The entire dress was finished on September 19, 2015.
THE INSIDES: Except for the skirt-to-shirt bottom seam, which is left raw with stitched edges, all other seams are French seams.
TOTAL COST: The broadcloth and lining were scraps on hand, and thus practically free. The “comma dot” satin was a remnant on clearance at a Hancock Fabrics store for about $4, and the skirt was also on clearance at Target for $6.00. The hook-and-eyes were bought at a late-night run to Wal-Mart. So the total cost is about $12.
Burda patterns (for those readers who don’t know) need some assembly and tracing before being ready for layout on your chosen fabric. They can be bought as a downloadable PDF file, to print out, or traced from the leaflet included in a magazine issue. A scissor with a magnetic ruler guide helps immensely to quicken along the step to getting a finished pattern prepped. This is the stage where I pick out my size, tracing out only the size I need to use, including any grading and adding on chosen seam allowances.
Now, first let me get a gripe in here and off my chest. Where am I, or anyone else, expected to get a fabric piece mechanically pleated?! I mean, really…be serious. You can’t accuse me of not trying, because I spent two afternoons calling about a dozen different places around our rather large town asking questions and finding out who, where, or if anyone or anyplace could – or would – do mechanical pleating for me. I started with custom embroidery shops, then tailoring shops, and dry cleaners, and finally a few clothing manufacturing retailers. Ruth, at “Elder Manufacturing” company mostly known for school uniforms, was finally able to give me excellent advice from her first-hand experience about how to do large scale pleating, as is called for in this Burda Style “Placket Dress with Pleats”. Nonetheless, if you don’t live in a fabric district, like New York, or a town in China or Singapore that has the machinery used to make the clothes for big companies, you seem to be out of luck to get fabric “mechanically pleated”. I did find an Etsy shop which sells pleated fabric in all colors, fabric materials, and sizes of pleats, and it can be bought by the yard. This was going to be my resource for the bottom skirt portion of the dress, but a google search of what was available at our local “Big Box” stores, provided me an easy and chap way to get an easy pre-pleated skirt, ready to go! Lucky thing that pleated fashions are back in style to make my idea work. My last resource was going to be a thrift store (op-shop) for an outdated pleated item to re-fashion. There was no way I was going to do all that pleating when there were easy and creative ways to get around it and still have a great finished garment.
When it came to constructing the placket closure, the construction instructions were more confusing and unclear than anything, so if you want to make this dress for yourself, I would recommend your best bet would be to look through them, understand what you can, then go rouge and made the dress the best way you yourself understand. The pattern’s placket pieces themselves made total sense to me (looking at them), but the explained method of maneuvering them did not…no matter what reading or folding of both pattern and fabric I did. As my main guide and inspiration for the Burda dress I have two jackets (ready-to-wear items) which both have concealed plackets, one button closing and the other with hook-and-eyes. From experience, a hidden button closure is not at all easy to close on oneself like the hook-and-eye one, and the hook-and-eye closure placket seemed to make more sense to me and be more similar to the pattern pieces provided for my creation. Thus, I went with a hook-and-eye closure for the front of my dress, and merely sewed them down at the horizontal match where the buttons and buttonholes might have been. It’s pretty basic – there is a wider placket and an inner thinner one; the right side has the wide one on top to cover all, the left side has the wide one under the thin one to cover any gaping. The inner shorter placket edges meet together vertically, so the under and over lips of the second, larger placket cover all. I love the finished look, however I happened to get there, and love the smooth appearance and little bit of secrecy to the whole thing.
There is a tiny mandarin-style collar sewn around the neck and to the top of the placket. Even though I left out any and all interfacing through the rest of the dress, I did choose very lightweight interfacing when making the collar, for only one of the two sides, helping keep a stiff round shape supporting both the top of both dress and placket. Gosh…making this collar was such tiny work because the finished size was as big as the seam allowance. I felt like it was more suited to doll clothes.
Everything else about the blouse was simple and basic. I didn’t need the instructions – and I even eliminated the center back seam and cut one solid piece to make construction easier. There are no bust darts or seams for shaping, either. The silhouette is boxy and straight lined, but it co-ordinates perfectly with the rest of the design and, in soft fabrics like satin, still shapes around the body nicely. The flared bottom sleeves were slightly challenging when it came to finding the balance between stretching and relaxing the bias of the large hem.
When it came to adding the skirt…easy peasy! The Target store skirt was made out a stretch jersey with an elastic band waist, but the rest of my dress was a non-stretch satin. Problem of non-compatibility? Possibly, but not really with forethought. I bought an XX-Large, so much bigger than my own personal size, because the un-stretched width of the pleated skirt top had to be equal to the width of the bottom the dress’ top half. The double-large was an un-stretched width of 19 7/8 inches and the bottom of the dress’ top half was 19 ¾ inches. Perfect! So I double stitched around below the elastic skirt waistband (and pulled the threads in slightly), this way keeping the pleats down and preventing any stretching of the skirt. Then I cut off the elastic waistband of the skirt and sewed it to the top half of the dress in wide seam allowance…double stitched. The skirt was already lined for me, so I definitely kept that, too.
The pleats of the skirt are quite neat. They are in a definite pattern, if you train your eyes to look at too many horizontal lines without going crazy. The pleats formed in groups of three – one big “inverted-box pleat”, with a small side pleat next to and slightly under that large one. Or, looking at it differently, two small regular side pleats facing one another, with a large “inverted box pleat” in between. You know…I’m getting all too technical, I guess. Basically, the instructions for the mechanically pleated bottom would have been overall large and basic knife pleats, and mine are more feminine and different.
(Check out my vintage 1930’s/1940’s shoes, with their cut outs, tie tops, and slingbacks!)
My “Retro Forward” themed blog series for Burda Style patterns definitely includes this dress because past decades of the 20th century loved pleats! Every decade – from the turn of the century up to the next and into today – has used pleats in small or large, subtle or striking, above or below the waist portions, but all share the fact of being used in creative methods. Pleats have seen an amazing resurgence in 2015, affording new opportunities to wear it as a trend and making it even easier to put your own personal creative spin on the fashion by picking a pre-made pleated garment and refashioning it, as for my Burda ‘Comma Dot’ dress. Such a simple thing as a permanent pleat…in other words an enduring ‘kink’ in the direction of a materials’ fibers…can so change an ordinary design to WOW, adding interest, texture, depth, and dimension! Just think, permanent pleats give fabric a chance to be more, expanding when necessary and contracting to a shape not their original, allowing you to do more. There are so many pleats to try and experiment with, I need to break out my iron and do more in my projects! (See this “Real Simple” site or this Wikipedia page for more pleats.) Which pleat is your favorite? (P.S. I like box pleats!)
Now an analytical section of my brain is very curious about statistics related to this post and its creation. I wonder if there are more or less commas in my writing here than the amount of commas on my actual dress. If I am too curious, or miraculously find myself with nothing to do, perhaps I will figure these numbers out one day yet. Also, maybe when my little tyke gets better at his counting, I can see if figuring this out is something he would like to do as a mental exercise. All this talk of counting and grammatical commas, put me in the mood to break out my favorite “old school” textbook and bring it with me for the photo shoot and brush up on my writing skills. Almost nothing is more necessary and basic as a comma…or a little black dress!