“Retro Forward” Burda Style – “Global Capitals” Oriental-Inspired Dress

My title might seem like an oxymoron, but between the fabric and the style of this dress it really does span the major places of the world. Even past style trends come in to play, as well. All I know is that I have a new easy go-to fun dress with great comfort and major versatility. Let me take you on a tour of it!


Super easy, very quick, and nicely fitting are the trio of prominent descriptions which come to my mind to let others know about this pattern. The upper half is a bit generous while the bottom half is more fitted for this dress and I feel like those two combos work well together in this case, but if anyone else wants it to fit differently – now you know what to adapt! As it is a rather simple design, I let some awesome fabric, which I had bought little of because it was expensive, take center stage and some scraps on hand become useful. What a double bonus!


FABRIC:  a 100% polyester crepe for the printed fashion fabric, a cotton/poly broadcloth remnant for the tan contrast fabric, and a light beige sheer-mist batiste cotton. The fashion fabric is a Hancock exclusive print for the spring of 2015.Burda Style pattern 7201

NOTIONS:  Nothing but some ribbon was needed to buy as I had the zipper, thread, and interfacing already.

PATTERN:  Burda Style #7201 pattern, a store offering available only in tactile paper form as far as I know, in others words not on the Burda website as a downloadable PDF.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  From start to finish only took me about 5 hours, which was done practically in one afternoon on May 7, 2015.

100_5266-compTHE INSIDES:  I’m embarrassed to admit I just wanted the dress done and thus the insides were left raw, merely zig-zag stitched along the edges (not usually how I operate). After seeing how it shredded post-wash machine visit, I did come back to the dress and apply fray check liquid on the inside edges. The facings are finished off nicely, though!

TOTAL COST:  Well, after a boo-boo in cutting, I sucked up the gumption to spend yet more and buy extra fabric than at first for a total of about $20 (with ribbon). Not a bad total, but more than what I wanted (or normally spend) for a simple quick dress.

Making this dress was one of those sudden inspiration, need-it-now, in-between-difficult-projects relief thing. Alas, in my rush to have the dress done I did make a major error in the direction of the fabric – the print was upside down as I cut the front skirt panel. Oops! My hubby originally told me I can see the print better this way (grrr….) but he was sweet enough to go and find the last yard of fabric left at the store the very next day. Yay, a project saved! The print is so cool, my dad tipped me off to it (yes he likes to visit fabric stores for camouflage), and so I felt it was worth spending the extra dough. I need to really remember to look ahead to avoid this again because I might not always be able to buy more fabric to save my behind…or rather my project.


Looking at reviews online, I could not find a good run-through of a version of the pattern made “as-is” to help me. Personally, I would enjoy using this pattern again to make a nice open wrap cardigan, too. However, I like how it turned out according to the pattern this time. It is a tad confusing how you make the front twice as wide as it needs to be so you turn it in half – part facing, part outward front (kind of unnecessary). I did sew down a wider seam allowance for the bodice’s mock front wrap so it wasn’t so poufy over my chest…my only change.

The skirt’s center back slit is rather high up there but luckily it is a kick pleat (lapped) style so it doesn’t reveal as much as it could. Still, the slit is needed on account of the tapered-in pencil shape which makes this actually sort of a wiggle bottom dress. This feature slims the silhouette and adds a little ‘hottie’ factor. I mostly appreciate the vintage flair, especially with the kimono sleeves. I might come back at some point in the future and make a second lining skirt for the inner bottom half of the dress, but for now it’s just fine.


Making and wearing the obi-style belt is fun! My only adaptation here was to leave out the slot opening in the sides for the ties – tying them around the middle works out fine without cutting into the belt. I made my belt completely reversible for maximum versatility. Doubling up on the thickness of the sheer beige batiste side was the only way to avoid see-through of seams (for both the belt and the bodice front). The darker, browner tan cotton on the other side is single layered on the belt and had the lightweight interfacing ironed onto its wrong side. This darker tan was added to appease desire for versatility and (partially) my indecisiveness, for I originally wanted it as part of the dress’ contrast until I realized there wasn’t enough. So, being on the belt, I can still wear that color…and use it up out of my scrap stash.

I suppose I am rather attached to what the print and the oriental style means to me for 100_5272-compseveral reasons. First off, I have visited many of the cities and places in the print and have fond memories of good times spent at Paris in France and Rome in Italy. I haven’t yet been to New York or London but would certainly not mind going. Thus, my dress is dubbed “Global Capitals” for its depictions of popular places of to visit globally. Now I can sort of feel like a world citizen in this dress, wearing on my fabric free-hand travel sketches of places I’ve been to and would like to go to on my clothes.

Secondly, I used some items for my photo shoot which had been part of a very authentic Geisha girl outfit my mother sewed for me back when I was 10. She did a lot of research into the outfit to gain appreciation and make sure she made it 100% authentic, even down to the hair style, socks and sandals, and the cummerbund wrapping…I was so proud to wear it and even won in a contest! Here, I am wearing in my hair the wooden hair picks with inlaid pearl and stone decoration on the ends and a carved wood fan. I don’t get these things out except for a very good reason. Only I left out the hair flowers and sandals this time to stick with the slightly vintage/modern aura of the dress, although I am posing for these pictures on the edge of a bamboo patch.


Oriental and kimono inspired clothing has been popular for many, many decades. Fashion has produced some beautiful culturally-appreciative garments as well as some totally hacked-up, solely style-focused inauthentic ones from that same inspiration. The 1910, 1920, and 1930 eras had some strong Oriental influenced designs, especially when it came to nightwear such as kimono robes, but the decade of the 1950’s and 1960’s had a re-surging impact, too. This is why this Burda dress is part of my “Retro Forward” post series. The dress’ style is rather muted when it comes to bold design or clear following of a past trend. However, that is good in the way it stays fresh longer and lends itself to personal interpretation in the making. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t subtle relations to past styles, and in Burda’s #7201 dress I see a lot of the 1950’s, mostly because of (as I mentioned earlier) the pencil, almost wiggle-style skirt, kimono cut-on sleeves, and oriental influence. The 1920’s, 1930’s popularized the unorthodox “wiggle” cheongsams which we in our modern times often think as Asian wear, but before circa 1447butterick, vintage oriental dress & McCall's 9113 50's suit set1949 cheongsams where a upper social class thing, whereas after that date they became merely a fashion garment, as they were in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s designs. This dress is not a Mandarin gown (the neck, front, and collar are different), I know, but it does have some features and I just wanted to point out how very different decades can share the same influence. In regards to the dress bodice, there is a vintage year 1952 McCall’s #9113 with a jacket that has a similar front to this Burda’s dress, and the pattern back calls this a “flare back” front neck – interesting! I used the front cover of an unrelated 1942 pattern, Simplicity #4418, for further “flare back” front contrast inspiration for my dress’ bodice. My sewing 100_5214a-compmuse comes in many forms and sources.

I love any opportunity to think about my past travels and the good memories attached to them. Usually I just have mementos, such as pictures and bought gifts to do this. But as I try to always have a sewing project provide me with a chance to learn about past fashion and other cultures with their history, a garment that can give me both that and good memories is a cheery combo for me. I hope your sewing brings you to your “happy place” inside and out the way mine does!

1 thought on ““Retro Forward” Burda Style – “Global Capitals” Oriental-Inspired Dress

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s