Like a garden that emerges from its winter slumber to become a lovely surprise, this dress also took a different direction from what I originally planned but turned out nice in the end. I feel like I’m wearing the season of spring with my dress…if that is remotely possible.
I originally hoped to make a new Burda pattern into an art dress, one that would remind someone of a stained glass window. However, to make the garment aesthetically uniform and complementary for my taste I had to combine two patterns to give the dress a new bodice and finish it as you see it. I am still a bit disappointed to not be able to make an idea that I had in my mind, but I’ll still try to scratch that itch.
As for this dress…well, all’s well that ends well, I suppose. My hubby calls the dress ‘cute’ or ‘sweet’, and it is so comfy with my favorite colors I will admit. Also, iris flowers are in my “favorites” list of botanicals since they are akin to the fleur-did-lis and King St. Louis IX, patron of our town. I personally find it just mediocre and rather un-exciting as compared to other projects, nor does it come at all close to the avant-garde design I had planned. However, I do love a dress that appears quite nice but actually feels on myself like a lazy day Saturday garment…this is that kind of dress. Can’t beat that!
I do have a really interesting bodice left over to work with and I could use your help and input as to what to do with it (you’ll see it further down and I’ll still give it a full review). Please let me know what you think!
FABRIC: The trio of solid colors in the original but unused bodice are all cotton sateen. The bottom skirt half is a quilter’s cotton, “Deco Delight” “Iris garden” designed by “Fabric Freedom” in London, England. The current dress bodice is a cotton knit with a slight pebbled silver sheen printed on the good side (leftover from my camouflage knit dress). The facing for the neckline of the current bodice is from a scrap piece of polyester crepe back satin in light pink, also.
PATTERNS: Burda Style’s ‘A-Line Cocktail Dress’ #122, from 03/2016, found online or in the monthly magazine, and Burda Style #7301, a paper tactile pattern (not online)
TIME TO COMPLETE: The original piped bodice took me about 5 hours, while the skirt took maybe 2 hours, and the new knit bodice took me about an hour and a half.
THE INSIDES: I kept things simple for the inside and its finishing. Everything is double stitched but left with raw edges.
TOTAL COST: The “Deco Delight” fabric was a special order off of the internet and 2 ½ yards cost me about $30 (yikes!). As my chosen Tiffany print fabric is from England, I had a hard time finding an American seller…this is reason for the higher price. The pink knit was from my scrap bin, and the sateen fabrics were all on hand already, bought to be made into other projects, so I just cut small bits from those bolts for my Tiffany Art dress. Thus they cost pittance in the scheme of things. So I guess my dress cost me about $35.00.
As for any Burda Style pattern from online or out of a magazine, printing and/or tracing is necessary to have a usable pattern to lay on your desired fabric. My “Cocktail Dress” #122 pattern was traced out from the insert sheet of the magazine issue using a roll of medical paper but you can also buy it, download it, and print it out from Burda Style’s online store. It’s at this preliminary step that you pick out your proper size and add in your choice of seam allowance width. A scissor with a magnetic ruler guide helps immensely to quicken along the step to getting a finished pattern prepped. Sorry to repeat something you might already know, but this is just an “FYI” for those that don’t know. Now, none of this is needed with a paper tactile pattern (which is sold through Simplicity, I believe) – all seam allowances are included and it’s a regular conventional pattern (to me in America) except for the European sizing.
This dress’ original pattern has good points to its style but the fitting definitely has fair share of problems, too. Firstly, I found the bodice design just lovely but so sadly lacking in the proper curving in the right places. The outward curve isn’t nearly properly generous enough for the bust, while (without adjustments) there is an awkward pucker on the upper chest. It’s like the bust went into the wrong place – even I know it’s not parallel with the chest just below the collarbone. As you can see in my picture, starting at 4 ½ inches down, I had to unpick to straighten out the curve ¼ inch in to eliminate the pucker. Also, I had to add in darts to the top back bodice (close to the neck) and the side bust (by the front underarm). The back neck darts are about ½ inch by 4 inches long while the bust darts are about 5/8 inch by 3 inches in. These darts do make it a bit more of a snug fit, and it’s already a tad snug for I think the bodice runs small, but a least it’s a tailored fit now. For the good points, the skirt is quick and straightforward. Although the bodice isn’t hard to sew besides the bothersome fitting, the skirt portion is easy and fits well with the sizing right on. I made the skirts’ front box pleat fold a bit crisper by finishing off the bottom hem before adding in the insert, and hemming the pleat insert separately before sewing it into the rest of the skirt. There’s no continuous horizontal seam to interfere with the vertical seams of the box pleat the way I did it, but it doesn’t have to be done this way.
I am tickled by the way the skirt holds a surprise in its design with the center front box pleat. When I’m just standing you’d never guess the box pleat would be there, the skirt appears to be knife pleated with a bell-flared silhouette. Then, all of a sudden if I move or kick up high – surprise, there’s more fabric to come out of it’s hiding like the magic skirt that never stops expanding.
One Burda pattern went towards fixing another Burda pattern! The “Cocktail Dress” is an odd mix, I should have seen this misfit coming but the lovely solid color of the model dress deceived me. The bodice is overly modern and dramatic (especially the way I made it) and the skirt is more classic with enough going on too, but in a separate more feminine theme especially with my floral printed cotton. The replacement bodice from the Burda paper pattern was so super easy with sizing right on and lovely details.
I personally think this bodice is the correct pairing for the skirt and does wonders to the silhouette. I went back to what I know about creating a visual deception of wide shoulders of the 1940’s and 1950’s to balance out a pleated or full skirt. Thus I knew I needed a pattern with a wide neck, preferably simple, to complement the skirt and slim the waist…thus I went for a kimono sleeve bodice with a sweet neckline arch that reminds me of the femininity of the overall dress. The only adaptation I did to accommodating adding this bodice to my existing skirt was to extend the bottom by and inch so the dress’ horizontal center would fall at a high waist rather than an empire height. Now, I have a dress which visually takes off pounds from my figure – yay!
Besides switching bodices, the zipper closure was moved to the side underarm, rather than having it down the center back. This side zipper placement didn’t mar my plan of adding in piping to the bodice seams, but as that bodice wasn’t used it made for a nice clean garment design keeping the zipper on the side. I also didn’t line the bodice – either of them. I did not want to restrict what stretch I had in the sateen of the piped bodice – and besides, I do not know exactly what to do with it yet anyway. The pink knit bodice needed to be lightweight and thin so as to give let the bottom skirt half give it the right pull from below to hang right and stay in place on my shoulders.
Now what do I do with the piped tri-colored bodice? As you see it, the edges are currently unfinished and there is no proper closure. I really do like it, I spent enough time to make it and finally got it to fit me just right I want to do something interesting with it. The bodice almost reminds me of a swim top or cropped sports tank the way it is like a second skin and has the streamlined contouring design.
Do I just keep it has a separate crop top to pair with whatever for the bottoms? Should I add in a short separating side zip or just have hook and eyes? What bottoms will go with this – a high-waisted skinny pencil skirt (like Butterick 6326) or shorts or what else? Do I turn the top into the bodice for a dress (and what kind of dress) or maybe a jumpsuit? I know I’ll figure these queries out but I can’t put a finger on the right idea yet, so I’d be grateful if you can help me by sharing your ideas and thoughts.