Modern Asymmetric Peplum Blouse

I told you a handful of posts ago, in the write-up on my second Easter outfit, that I have been weaning myself off of an obsession with peplums.  Of course, I am biased towards thinking that vintage fashion offers the best peplums, but I just couldn’t resist testing out a new Burda Style one that caught my eye.  Can never have enough of something good, I figured, but this peplum is not a fantastic as I had hoped yet it’s still an awesome casual me-made to reach for over the next several months.  Happily this multi-season (spring, summer, and fall) creation that is loose, comfy, and one of those wardrobe staples which is seeing more wear already than I’ve expected.

Burda really has been offering the best asymmetric patterns over the last several years, and I love such styles.  I enjoy the creativity of asymmetric styles, and generally find them complimentary, yet they are not a commonly seen ready-to-wear design.  Many sewists like me seem to muse that high production manufacturing and the cheap labor such companies employ (so, so sad) does not lend itself to asymmetric styles on account of the single cuts that are necessary and the extra thoughtfulness and care needed to make them.  This is where the benefits of personal sewing come in – you can make things you can’t buy (and make them better)!  Asymmetric styles still take more thought no matter where or how they are made but at least they can be made just the way you like them in your hands!


FABRIC:  a 100% rayon challis

PATTERNS:  This top’s design is divided out into two almost identical patterns from March 2019 – Burda Style “Flounce Sleeve Blouse” #111, which has shorter sleeves and a longer hem, while Burda Style “Gathered Paneled Blouse” #112, which has quarter length sleeves and a shorter hem.

NOTIONS:  I used everything I had on hand – black thread, some interfacing scraps, elastic, a hook-n-eye, and one vintage button from hubby’s Grandma’s stash of notions

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This took me only 6 hours to make and was finished on May 9, 2019

TOTAL COST:  As this was half of the fabric ($30 in total cut), my top was only $15

Even though you’d never guess upon appearances, this is really a happy scrap busting project because it is also part two of a really fancy Burda dress I made last year – the Andrew Gn mermaid gown.  Half of the width was the butterfly print I used on the back of that dress…the other half of the width is this blouse now!  It was weird to have fabric leftover in this 29 inch width, and have 3 yards long of it, and the cute and predictable floral print was something rather “meh” for me, so I was excited to use it up on something interesting and experimental sooner than later.  I rather wanted to try a border print for this design like they show on #111, but my border fabrics are too precious to me for trying on something (like this post’s blouse) which I’m not positive from the outset that I’ll like.  There was a slight “border” to the fabric I used, after all – a bright green stripe was the printed division line where the butterfly print and the floral were separated.  I used that stripe as some sort of waist definition.

Ever since the Schiaparelli inspired summer set I made back in 2017, butterfly prints keep catching my eye and popping up in my sewing projects, but the previously posted Burda outfit was made back in 2015 so maybe my fascination with the delicate creature began earlier than I have been thinking.  Anyway, as one small segment of the other half to the fabric was still around, I couldn’t help but incorporate it in some small way!  The right side back that is all one piece (no separate waist seam) has a large butterfly over my booty.  Luckily the waistline was marked on the pattern, otherwise I would not have been able to line up the green stripe in the fabric to make such placement work!

More or less, if I had made this blouse exactly as the pattern directs, it would have been an overwhelming, uncontrolled tent of a top.  I’m not against loose and flowing styles, but I like some distinction to such a top with a whole lotta fabric and the busy floral hid the design lines all too well.  At least I had that green stripe where the peplum meets the waist.  The stripe ends where the peplum panel extends all the way up to the shoulder and gathers asymmetrically into the bodice.  The blouse’s print, as it turns out, goes with my pastel skinny jeans and a few pencil skirts so it’s a win, after all, especially as it pairs perfectly with my grandma’s necklace and earrings, too!

I couldn’t stand just leaving the top as it was, but I didn’t want a permanent solution.  So I had an elastic ‘string’ loop come out from being threaded through the right side seam.  It can bring the asymmetric peplum panel in to a controlled but stretchable and optional fitted look when I take the end of the elastic loop to close it on the matching, indistinguishable button at the end of the front stripe.  Poof!  One little add-on and suddenly I am so much happier with the top, its styling, and fit.  Yet, I can still wear it as it was intended.  No commitment tweaks to fix a ‘problem’ are awesome.  Hubby liked the top as it was, I wanted to change it – so I found a compromise and a great use for a random spare button!  It’s so nice to have to not install a zipper every now and then.

Otherwise than the tweaking the overwhelming peplum, the rest of the top had some slight fitting problems.  The sleeves, that I made basic short style, are slightly restrictive with reach room.  Even the shoulder line is a tad further in than it should be.  The neckline was chokingly close so I opened up by about an inch.  As I said, this was a quick, experimental make that is like a wearable muslin so I’m fine with such little deficiencies that I would never deal with in my regular sewing projects.  Just be warned if you want to try this for yourself to check it out on yourself carefully before cutting.

I did expose the back neckline opening more than directed to counteract the high, fully covered bodice.  The slit opening goes down about 8 ½ inches on my tops back, with a simple hook-n-eye to close the top edge.  I like a little oh-la-la view from the back, even if it’s just a little peek!

This might not be the best peplum I have made but I’m glad to have tried it.  Just when I think my peplum craze is satisfied…nope, something else catches my eye.  It will have to be a really good design to tempt me next…but my defenses for a peplum are still weak apparently, as well as for any asymmetric style.  At least I will have the best peplum collection ever if I keep this up!  I will be posting more of my peplums both here and on Instagram over the next few months.

“Retro Forward” Burda Style: “Comma Dot” Placket Dress with Pleats

Hold that thought please, I have a lot of fashion and grammatical commas here for you with my newest dress creation.

100_6188a-compLet 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.

PATTERN:  Burda Style Pleated Placket Dress, #111 – style A from 02/2015 and style B from 03/2015

Burda Style Sheer Pleated Placket Dress, line drawing,Burda Style Sheer Pleated Placket Dress 03-2015 #111B model pic & 02-2015 #111A hanging dressTIME 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. 100_6222-comp

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.

100_6196a-compNow, 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.


These are my two RTW jackets whose hidden plackets helped me figure out how to make my dress.

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.

100_6186a-compThere 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.

100_6203-compWhen 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.100_6207a-comp

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!)

20th century pleated garment example boardNow 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!