“Retro Forward” Burda Style – ‘The Starry Night in the Day’ 1957 Casual Set

Picture a breathtaking scene of a pastel colored, dramatic sunrise, eclipsing a lovely clear night sky setting of stellar sparkling in lieu of the light of day.  Such a sight is sadly not to be seen most mornings.  I see such a sight sometimes in our winter season if I suffer through the misery of waking up extra early and bundling up to brave the elements.  Now, I can at least wear a vintage-inspired set that calls such a display to mind for me!  To me, it has all the elements of one of my favorite paintings…”The Starry Night”, painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1889.  With a richly cobalt textured “sky” behind me, and colorful, swirling bursts of movement above a creamy pastel palate below, this Burda outfit is a means for me to wear art in my everyday life.  Sewing can be an art form in itself, anyway.

My first, real, riveting fascination with this piece from Van Gogh was through “The Christmas Wish” episode of the infant videos, “Baby Einstein”.  When our son was one year old in 2013, we were given a handful of “Baby Einstein” DVD’s, and he would be just as relaxed and mesmerized as I was watching them.  They would show details of “The Starry Night” by Van Gogh along to the music of “Für Elise” by Ludwig van Beethoven.  This combo of picture and music has henceforth been intertwined in my mind, which associates both with something lovely which puts me in a happy place.  This is partly why it seems so very fitting for me to take an old maternity tunic, and turn it into something which completes this artwork inspired outfit.  My second and strongly passionate reason for saving my old maternity tunic is also the fact it is an old “Made in the U.S.A” garment, besides the wonderful feel and print of the fabric.

Just as Van Gogh conveyed the sky abstractedly in his own personal way, I too probably see the world of clothing differently (I’m sure) than others.  In my opinion this is due in no small part to my ability to sew and my studyies on history.  In a sea of grey, black, browns, and whatever colors are popular with the dye lots for RTW any given year, I enjoy choosing a variety of colors.  The world around us is full of color and beauty, and we all have our own individual beauty and personalities, so why not give that awesomeness it’s just manifestation through what we are wearing?!  I wanted new skinny pants that were not another dark color – and how could such a lovely color not make me happy (especially with matching footwear)!  The shop that my pants’ twill came from as a stunning variety of incredible colors, so why not pick some out for yourself and make something special that’s all “you”, like I did here!   

Funny thing is, it seems as if the Versace line and I were of the same mind (though I made mine first)!  Check out how scarily similar this outfit is from their Spring/Summer 2018 ready-to-wear collection!  Look – it’s the same high-waisted, figure-hugging styled bottoms, in the same orchid-toned purplish pink…with matching shoes, too!  In honor of the 20th anniversary since Versace’s murder, his sister has brought back a style for next year that commemorates both the styles of the 90’s and influential celebrities who were his friends.

However alike, my trousers are actually sewn using a true vintage 1957 release from Burda Style, while my top is only very vintage inspired.  (I do see a slight 50’s air in a number of Versace’s items.)  I’d like to think vintage offerings that come from modern patterns definitely help past eras transcend time to meld perfectly into contemporary wearing.  Burda Style especially does a good job at “updating” the image of vintage re-leases!  Designers’ rehashing the details and trends from the past also creates a whole new appeal, too, whether people recognize it or not.  What goes around comes around is certainly true in fashion.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:   Pants: 100% cotton twill, in 7 oz. weight with a brushed finish on the ‘right’ side, bought from “ebpfabric” on Ebay (here is the listing); Top: a 63% polyester, 32% rayon, 5% spandex jersey knit refashioned from an old maternity tunic of mine.  Some polyester jersey knit scraps leftover from this last Burda make went towards the facing for the neckline

PATTERNS:  Burda Style’s “High Waisted Trousers” #129, from April 2015 with Burda Style’s “Princess Seam Boatneck Top” #104, from February 2014

NOTIONS:  I needed to buy the zipper for the pants, but otherwise the elastic, thread, bias tape, and small finishing notions were all on hand for everything else.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  The pants took over 20 hours – I stopped counting after that amount!  They were finished on May 31, 2017.  The top took maybe 3 hours to make after maybe 3 hours of decision making about how and where to cut it out!  It was sewn in one afternoon, on June 13, 2017.

THE INSIDES:  Pretty nice!  The pants have every seam edge individually covered in bias tape, while the blouse’s insides still have some of the original serging (overlocking), but the rest are merely double stitched over.

TOTAL COST:  I am counting the top as free because it originally came from a thrift shop, probably for a few dollars, almost 6 years back now.  The pants cost me just under $15 for both material and zipper.  That total is probably just as much as I would pay for the cheapest pair of RTW skinny jeans, so I’m counting that price as an awesome deal for the fit, quality, and fulfillment of personal taste that has went into my pair.

I will say first off before any nitty gritty construction details that I absolutely LOVE both of these pieces.  These two projects might be the most versatile and my favorite Burda Style makes in a while.  The fabrics are first rate quality, and the designs of the patterns something not too readily found in RTW.  That said, they were challenging to make.  The top tested my mind trying to fit in the pattern pieces on the existing garment, while the pants were horribly drafted (for me at least), requiring some pretty tiring fitting.

Now, as for any Burda Style pattern, printing and/or tracing is necessary to have a usable pattern to lay on your desired fabric.  My pattern was traced from the downloaded and assembled PDF bought at the online store but if you have a magazine issue, use a roll of medical paper to trace your pieces from the insert sheet.  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.

I’ll start with the bottoms.  I must say they do run short.  I cut them the given length of the pattern, and I really didn’t have any room for a hem besides a slight bias fold in for them to come to my ankles.  This was the perfect length, but I wouldn’t have liked it any shorter.  I’m about 5 foot 3 inches height so anyone taller than that, figure in to make the hem longer.

As I wanted a perfect body fit and ultimate practicality for the pants, I simplified the design just to the bare bones.  A summary of my changes are no in-seam side pockets, no ankle zippers, no fancy waist facing, and a zipper right where I can see it…in front.  For my next pair of pants from this pattern, I think I will draft a conventional zipper fly, but for this first pink pair they have an invisible zipper up the front to make them easy (versus up the center back as the pattern suggests – how awkward).  To support the top of that zipper, inside at the top there is a small strip of cotton velvet ribbon (for softness!) to act like a tab placket, with a waistband hook-and-eye to close the waist.  The waistband itself was made by stretching a strip of ¾ inch elastic down to the top edge, then folding it in twice and stitching that down for a wonderful body hugging, but stretchably comfortable and smooth-waisted option.

Go ahead and call me “granny pants” because these are wayyyy high up on my torso!  I like them that way.  Come on, ladies, honestly – I’ve heard the truth from many women I’ve talked to in in town who’ve told me they like my pants.  Nobody really likes to spend their entire day picking up their drawers every time they move or bend!  I know I don’t like the feel that my clothes are falling off of me.  With high-waisted pants, there is no awkward bulge in the wrong place (muffin-top, anyone?) just smooth waist and hip complimenting.

Hips are an excellent pivot point in women’s garment design and the decade of the 1950’s used that point to perfection – that wide spot we all love to hate comes in handy when you think of it as an anchor point.  A garment with a central mainstay above hips will stay in place…on ‘em, style has more of ‘sliding’ effect without the right styling.  Now granted, if you want something that sits at the hip, that’s fine too.  I wore everything at my hips as a teenager and still wear hip-hugging pajama bottoms.  I just think store offered RTW generally doesn’t offer much that will be most complimentary to an individual figure when it comes to a variety of pants’ fit, at least not like something made for oneself.  Only you know your body the best, and embrace that in whatever you feel makes you the best.  I like to go with my hourglass shape, and let my hips and high true-waist anchor my pants on my body, whatever the negative connotation for this fashion.

Keep in mind the fabric I used for my pants are non-stretchy – the twill material has little to no give like a knit might.  A really good, sturdy, quality twill that feels and performs like a denim that will hold its shape is what I wanted and used – especially since a material like this is impossible to come by in any in town store.  A non-stretchy woven is what the pattern called for anyway.  I can definitely see this pants pattern being much easier to make in a knit and turning out fabulously, so there’s a lot of versatility here.

The real secret to my fitting technique was to sew the center front (with the zipper) and the center back seams, then turn the pants inside out and have the side seams and inner leg seams pinned to fit around me.  This was a bit more challenging than it had to be because I was working on it by myself, but I really think this is the easiest, quickest, least painful way to get a body fit.  It would definitely be even easier with someone else’s assistance.  Once a good fit is pinned into place I marked the seam lines on both sides with water soluble disappearing ink pen, following that line for my stitching and washing it away afterwards.

As my fabric has no stretchy ‘forgiveness’, just to be on the safe side in the unforeseen chance that my body changes and I need to refit these trousers, I left a wide seam allowance…not a whole lot, but 5/8 to ¾ inches along the sides and inseam.  The thick denim would feel and fit a tad better I believe without the wide seam allowances, but having the possibility to keep what I made (and love as a wardrobe staple) for the long-term is something more important to me.

Speaking of items that endure from one’s wardrobe, I’ll move on to the top re-fashion.  My first step was to cut off the elastic empire waist for the tunic.  The body of the tunic became the bodice for my new top while the bust and sleeve sections managed to also be the new top’s sleeves.  Only because of the skinny princess seamed panels was this able to be fit in on what I had.  I did have to shorten the length of the hemline by two inches, but luckily that was the only way I had to “give in” and make a change for this re-fashion to work.  I like a shortened length anyway!  Too much fabric in the body might distract from the lovely off-shoulder sleeves.

The sleeves are really made of interesting pattern pieces of small rectangles curved dramatically on one side…and it turns out just wonderful!  I can completely adjust where I want the sleeves to sit on me for a slight change of look – I can pull them completely off the shoulder, or pull ‘em up like “normal” sleeves, but where they naturally sit on me is right over the angle where my shoulder ends and my arm begins.  Now, the back neckline did turn out a tad generous and it sometimes looks like a draped neck, but I’m okay with that.  The one major caveat is that strapless lingerie or a bandeau bra is needed with this style.

Both of these pieces can be similarly found in vintage patterns and some vintage reproduction garments, which why this is included as part of my ongoing “Retro Forward with Burda Style” post series.  The pants are already vintage from 1957, I know, but I’ve seen several patterns that remind me of their same style (see McCall’s #9221 from 1952 and McCall’s 4024 from 1957) so I just had to share!  In fact here is an interesting article to read, making me think that my pink trousers are technically “cigarette pants” or “stovepipe pants”.  The blouse seems to be a recurring style in the decade of the 50’s except they seem to call it, “a scoop neck, with cap sleeves set into armholes”.  See Vogue 8100 from year 1953, Vogue 9643 year 1958, an unidentified 50’s playsuit pattern, and “Unique Vintage” company’s 1950’s Marilyn top in either plus size or misses size for a few examples.

Ever since the most recent total solar eclipse several months ago (we were in the path of totality), I can actually look at this set’s inspiration in a whole new ‘light’!  That afternoon for us was truly a starry night in the daytime!  On a factual level, did you know Van Gogh actually painted “The Starry Night” from mental picture, as it was done during the day?  So my title is right on!  Do you have any artwork related creations!

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“Retro Forward” Burda Style – “Fill in the Blanks” Gather and Tuck Dress with Purse

If garments could be reasonably conscious, this dress would definitely be very confused.  My original plan was to make a knock off a Dolce & Gabbana outfit from fall of 2016, but the pattern which I used for the dress is from 2013.  The knit tulip fabric I used is vintage from the 1970.  My husband says the finished dress reminds him of the 1980’s, and here I thought it reminded me of the 1930’s!  Finally my purse was self-drafted off of an existing 1940’s leather purse from my wardrobe but has more of a 1950’s air now that it’s completed. Gosh – almost every decade from the past 80 years has some sort of influence (in our eyes) to this outfit.  Confused much?!  Is your brain alright?  I know my head is swimming.

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Linda of “Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!” hosted the “Designing December” months back now and personal illness combined with a busy holiday season made for my being unable to even get around to making this dress and purse until recently.  Besides, everything that had to come together for me to even work on this project was slow and time consuming, but don’t get me wrong totally worth every minute.  Thus, my outfit is being blogged late but perfect for those chilly spring season days that hang around right about now.  It might be spring, but it feels like winter some days in our climate…and this subtle but cheery, long sleeve black dress with a season-less hound’s-tooth fashion purse suits those times perfectly.  I know because it was quite brisk and windy the day we took these photos, and I am sensitive to the chill.  Sigh…a warm enough spring is so long in coming sometimes.  That’s why I need to wear some bright tulips!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  for the dress: The tulip fabric is a polyester interlock knit vintage from the 1970s ordered through an Etsy shop, the skirt flounce is a modern, newly bought solid black poly interlock while the lining fabric is the same except in white.  The neckline facing is a cotton broadcloth remnant.  For the purse:  novelty hound’s-tooth felt and polyester imitation snakeskin (leftover from this dress) for the outside, light blue lining on the inside with a big pocket made from a scrap of cotton leftover from this apron.#112 Gather and Tuck dress, line drawing

PATTERN:  Burda Style’s Gather and Tuck Dress, #112, from September 2013; no pattern for the purse, it was self-drafted

NOTIONS:  This dress and purse used up a lot of what was sitting around on hand – such as charms, buttons from my Grandma, elastic, interfacing, and thread.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  I have no idea how much time I spent to prep the tulip fabric, but the making of the dress took about 8 to 10 hours.  The purse was started and finished in 4 hours.  Both were done and ready to be worn on March 13, 2017.

TOTAL COST:  The vintage tulip knit was about $10, the modern interlock knit (in both black and white) for the bottom flounce and the lining were just under $20, and the cost for all the fabric pen packages was $15.  Everything for the purse was already on hand (bought years back) so I’m counting that and all the notions used from out of my stash as free.  I suppose this outfit is a total of $45.  This is more than I typically spend for many other outfits I like much better than this one, but I had a creative itch I needed to scratch!

As for any Burda Style pattern, printing and/or tracing is necessary to have a usable pattern to lay on your desired fabric.  My pattern was traced off of the downloaded and assembled PDF bought at the online store but if you have a magazine issue, use a roll of medical paper to trace your pieces from the insert sheet.  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.

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First off, I will say that my first impression of the dress at the pattern stage was one of strong dislike.  The comments on the bottom of the pattern’s page online express “terrible look” and “reminds me of Downton Abbey”, and yes, I agree. However, the line drawing is what kept pulling me in…the style lines are lovely and indeed vintage inspired.  This is why my dress is included in my ongoing “Retro Forward Burda Style” blog series.  As to the vintage inspiration, I listed most of it at the top of this post.  My favorite vintage pattern that I think looks quite similar is a Pictorial Review Pattern from the 1930’s, no 6459 (picture on Pinterest).  It is labelled as a “Duchess de Crussol (d’Uzes)” personal pattern design, and as that is one of the oldest premier dukedom in France, this design must have been a big and rare deal for Pictorial Review to offer.  After all, Dolce & Gabbana’s summary of their collection references “the ’30/’40s shoulder line of the Cinderella-referenced puffed sleeves.”  Modernly, though, I feel like the “Gather and Tuck” dress is a slightly poufier version of another one of their patterns – Burda #7127.  Perhaps I should have chosen this dress design instead…oh well, too late for this thinking.

I had the feeling the “Gather and Tuck” dress design needed something bold and not in the least cutesy or else I could not pull off wearing/liking it.  Enter one of my favorite fashion houses – Dolce & Gabbana to the rescue courtesy of their Fall 2016 ready-to-wear Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2016 Ready-to-Wear -comp,comborunway releases.  I love all the details of that whole entire line (especially this one), an occurrence unique to me, but the tulip dress especially struck me…it was just something I had to have for my own and it would be something unique for my wardrobe.  Luckily, it strongly reminded me of Burda’s “Gather and Tuck” dress.  Now I had a tip as to what fabric print might work for such a quaintly designed pattern!  Then came along Linda’s “Designing December” sewing challenge and I knew what I had to make for it.  Finally, because I love to go all out for an awesome outfit, I even imitated the purse.  The model’s handbag reminded me of a project I had been wanting to make for the last 3 years, with the hound’s-tooth fabric and everything I needed to make a purse luckily (and conveniently) waiting downstairs to be whipped together.  Granted I know my outfit is not an exact copy, but to make a carbon copy would have resulted in something I might not have liked as much as this version which still stays true to my own taste.  I do not know if I fully succeeded in achieving what I’d hoped and envisioned originally in my head for this outfit, but I feel like it’s a successful attempt.  If I can’t buy designer, I’ll have my own designed style!

What is the most special and time-consuming part to making this project is the fabric.  It is hand colored!  That’s right – why just leave the current coloring craze to be restricted to paper pages in books?! This was a complicated yet invested choice – a desire to have something incredibly personal, creative, and out-of-the-box, as well as out of necessity. I could not remotely find any tulip print I liked to also have a lovely drape except for a 2 DSC_0882a-comp,wyard remnant piece of old 1970’s era knit in a black and white tone.  So I used fabric pens to color in the yellow tulips and draw in two-tone green leaves to end up with the closest possible match to the original Dolce & Gabbana fabric.  I worked in spurts, setting aside about an hour or two at a time to fill in a portion of the fabric until it was done.  Yet, I didn’t just color – a tried to add texture when drawing the leaves and a hint of yellow to the flowers, not an overpowering brightness, with a random tough of black for the stamens.  Too bad the true-to-life colors do not translate well enough through the pictures as they are in real sight.

Using fabric pens was fun, but also sort of a nightmare.  I actually had to end up buying 5 packages (two different brands) just to finish.  The fabric pens were brush tipped and between the material soaking up the ink and also fuzzing up the tip of the pens, there was a disappointingly short life to them.  The tough part was the specific green colors I was using.  The dark forest green and the lime green were hard to find in the heat-set type of fabric pens I preferred to use.  I found some online but the seller on Ebay that I ordered from was dishonest and sent me something I did not order.  Desperate, I ended up finding what I needed to finish from Wal-Mart, which had these cheap $3 packs which worked well enough.  From this experience, I can say that three things – I think Crayola fabric pens are the best working brand of fabric pens, I definitely prefer heat-set fabric pens, and make sure to have several back-ups of your colors before doing a project.  This is advice from a lesson well learned.

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Now, to get to some info on the actual sewing of the dress!  I found the sleeves to be rather skinny, the top half of the skirt to run small, and the rest of the dress a tad on the generous side.  It sewed up pretty well, but some of the directions were just plain bad and ended up a little silly and bulky.  The “slash-and-gather” darts at the waist and the mid-shoulder line are by far my favorite feature but kind of turned out a little weird looking where they end to meld into the dress.  Two of my 1940’s projects (see here and here) have very similar “slash-and-gather” dart details at the shoulder line, although this Burda pattern has them on the back as well…very nice!  The pattern originally called for only one button at the top of the closure, but I felt the pull from the gathers made me feel that the neckline needed another.  The bottom third button is decoration only.  I did leave out the wrist button closing on the sleeves, as my fabric is a stretchable knit.  Other than the button closures, I made no real changes to the design.  When you see the V-neckline in some of my pictures that is not a permanent thing.  See – it’s merely me folding half of the high neckline inside for an easy and quick change to the look of the dress.

Perhaps you didn’t notice, but there are no closures needed to be dressed in this frock.  The waistband gathers are mostly from an elastic casing made out of the waist seam allowance, and besides the neckline buttons, that is everything it takes to put this dress on.  I’m so used to zippers in a dress that it kind of felt as if I was forgetting something.  This one feature offering both easy dressing and lack of zipper setting was a nice change for me to come across.

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So…after everything I’ve said, I am not all that crazy about my dress.  Pooh pooh!  It is comfy, easy to move in, feminine, and flowing.  Wearing a sweater with it makes the dress better in my opinion, but then you can’t see all the details…meh.  I just am not 100% decided that I love it or even look good in it.  “Is it only weird or obviously dated?” I wonder.  That lack of full confidence is what’s holding me back, but the amount of time and work invested in this project makes me think, “I’d better darn well wear this and be proud of what I made…”  I have to throw some of my indecision to the wind (literally as it was breezy the day of these pictures) and just be content.

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To be definite about one thing, I am absolutely tickled about the purse.  I really could not be happier with it and it should see much use being so roomy, practical, and stylish all at the same time.  I am resigned to not having an awesome buckle (like the original Dolce & Gabbana one) because my purse has a perfectly matched novelty hound’s-tooth printed zipper instead!  This was combined with the opportunity to use some snazzy “Hilary Duff” brand charms from out of my jewelry stash to ‘bling’ up the closing flap.  I do love Fleur-dis-lis anything!

DSC_0302a-comp,wThat hound’s-tooth print of the purse is felt, but is was first strengthened with iron on interfacing then re-enforced, as was the rest of the purse, with stiff sewing interfacing.  This way it keeps its shape well.  The edges were covered and stitched with self-fabric binding but every other seam is self-enclosed by the combo of lining/flap facing.  There are buckles coming out of the side panel pleats, so I can totally change out purse straps into something else if I so please.  The zipper was hand-sewn in last, not to necessarily make things hard for myself, but because there was no seam to connect to on one side and I wanted invisible stitching.  All in all, my one regret is that I did not make a pattern out of what I was doing so I can re-create it or even share it, too.  I just wanted to enjoy making it and get it done so I could use it!  What a one track mind I have at times…

Simplicity 1727, year 2012For the record, I did go the extra mile to make a removable collar out of the black imitation snakeskin that went on my purse.  The original Dolce & Gabbana dress has a black swede collar on it and I intended to imitate that but hated it on me on the dress.  I’m so glad I didn’t sew the collar into the dress!  I used a Simplicity #1727, a pattern of nothing but various removable collars.  My make from it turned out great and I will show it to you, just not with this post.  I seriously don’t know how the model pulls off the whole outfit so well with the collar, though!  I will try to match my collar with something yet and show you then.

Investing so much effort in this outfit might not have given me the best results, but I learned from it, did new things, and followed an idea.  Taking the safe and sure route for a sewing project doesn’t always do all of those things, right?!  It’s all part of what sewing and creating is about, anyways.  “Fashion makes people dream—this is the service fashion gives,” Stefano Gabbana has said.  I agree.

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“Retro Forward” with Burda Style – a Roomy Button-Front Dress

As much as I do like getting “dolled up”, there’s been times when I need or have to leave the house and do something without feeling much like getting put together.  Not that I take a lot of work to fix myself up, I just don’t leave the house too much looking like I rolled out of bed and sometimes I’d much rather stay in my cozy relaxed home lounge clothes looking like I really don’t care.  I’ll bet most of you, my readers have those times, too.  Well, I have now found a pattern to make myself a dress that is the perfect compromise – it’s every bit as comfy as a nightgown but a nice style for many occasions…all with a vintage flair.  Perfect!  How spoiled can I be making something exactly what I want so I can go out and still feel like I’m in house lounge-wear?!

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THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a 100% cotton lightweight jersey knitlong-sleeve-dress-no-104-01-2011-line-drawing

PATTERN:  Burda Style “Long Sleeve Dress, # 104”, from January 2011

NOTIONS:  I had all the thread and interfacing I needed, but I did have to go out and find one more pack of matching buttons (I had some of the ones I wanted to use but not enough).

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This dress took about 15 hours to sew, and was finished on May 20, 2016.

THE INSIDES:  As this knit does not fray, I left all the edges raw.

TOTAL COST:  This cotton was bought at the now defunct Hancock Fabrics.  I believe I spent about $15 to $20 (with a discount), more than I normally spend for a dress but the fabric is such a nice quality.

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Burda Style has had this pattern out for a while now, hasn’t it?  This is a shirt dress that rather reminds me of a cross between the 1980’s and the 1940’s, which is why it’s part of my “Retro Forward with Burda Style” blog series.  I know the 80’s did often mimic the 40’s in many ways such as exaggerated shoulders, generously sized bodices, lovely sleeve cuffs, neckline details, and feminine menswear – part of my dress.  The 80’s and 40’s also made great use of jersey knits, except the skinny skirt and elastic waist sort of does sort of tip the scales in favor of the dress being in the decade closer to our own times, though WWII was all about combining comfort with style for women.  Even my shoes are a 1940’s style, vintage from the 1980’s.  So my verdict is non-committal – I’m happy with my dress whatever flair or style it might have.

dsc_0593a-compwI was originally going to line the knit but I’m glad I didn’t as it would have made the seams much too bulky and the dress too heavy.  Any fabric thicker than medium weight would not work here.  I also thought the dusty blue background and dainty small-print floral printed on the knit had a sort of quaintness which might bring out the vintage flair without being over-cute.  When I bought this fabric, my friend the store employee told me the color and print suits me well and I do very much agree with that.  The print unfortunately hides the special squared off sleeve design (see my layout of the bodice pieces picture, at left).  As my project looks finished, I now see the small floral making my dress seem more like a housecoat than something to be worn out and about, but oh well.

This was a bit of a challenging pattern to sew both on account of the decrepit instructions, the delicate fabric, and also because it is always a task to harness loads and loads of gathers.  For this dress there are tight, full gathers from the neckline, around the shoulder piece, and over to the other side of the neckline in a continuous and dramatic line.  Add in the fact of turning and shaping those uber-gathers into a definite shape and getting in down into a facing as well and there is a hand-stressing, time-intensive detailed area that used up all of my two boxes of straight pins just to keep in place for stitching.

dsc_0673-compwI messed up slightly on the shoulder panel and I do not feel entirely the one to blame (…although I did do the sewing).  The instructions didn’t give me something to help at this point, so here’s another ‘oh well’.  It still turned out o.k., I just would not recommended to top-stitch down the non-interfaced facing on top (from the visible outside) like I did.  I made it work, but doing so made the whole intricate panel with the dress gatherings harder to achieve.  Believe me, it would have been better the other way around.  The neck and shoulder detail on this dress is stunningly lovely in my opinion, and worth the effort…if only I had done it 100% right.  I think this is the part of the dress’ construction which takes just as long as making and cutting the rest of the dress combined.  It also is the base from which the rest of the dress hangs and (in my opinion) the primary focal feature.  (P.S., look how similar this dress bodice for sale on Etsy is to the one of my dress.)  I have an idea that the shoulder panel of this Burda Style dress would look lovely in a contrast with the right combo of colors.

dsc_0671a-compwI also adapted the sleeve cuffs (with another big ironic thank you to the instructions) due in part to another “mistake” of mine as well as tailoring the design to appeal to me better.  After two frustrating spells of unpicking stitches after mismatching the proper cuffs with the correct sleeves I realized I had sewn the arch of the cuffs inward to my body rather than outward, which I should have done.  I had had enough of futzing with things on the dress by this time and left them as they were.  However, I did not like how wide the cuffs were on my shorter frame and compared to the rest of the dress, cuffs which went halfway up my arm did not seem to work here.  Thus, I folded the cuffs back (just like the ones for my “Double Duty” year 1931 dress) and hand sewed a single elastic loop-and-button closure on each cuff to make them easy and adjustable.   These turned back cuffs make the enormous sleeves a bit more manageable for me and add another nice touch to the dress.dsc_0666a-compw

Besides all the little boo boos, I did some slight changes to the design.  First, I raised the center front neckline enough to add another button closure for a less revealing decollete.  Second, I switched up the skirt front pattern pieces so that the designated bottom hem became the new waistline.  As designed, the skirt to this dress is incredibly skinny at the knees and I saw a potential problem with walking, especially as the skirt buttons closed.  This step slightly widens the hem but keeping the back skirt design as-is still keeps the tapered silhouette and makes it easier to walk.  Granted, my dress’ skirt does open up above the knee at the thigh as it is, and I think this hint of hotness is need to save the dress from becoming overly conservative.  “She’s got legs…” and I know how to (subtly) show ‘em.

Finally, I left out the pockets.  Yes, I love pockets and rely on them more and more, making sure I have them in most of the garments I now make, but no – there’s enough poufiness to the gathered elastic waist I’m happier with the overall look with them left out.

The elastic waist does make this dress so incredibly comfy.  So, as much as I was doubtful I would like it on myself, the wearing of it wins me over.  I didn’t really bother with how the instructions said to make the waist because I had a method I wanted to use.  Similar to my “Ever Green” knit dress, I used the existing seam allowance of the waistband to sew a skinny ¼ inch casing for elastic to run through.  This method makes for quite tight gathering which isn’t too out of control as the casing is part of the dress, and anchored to it at both top and bottom.  The skinny elastic makes it easy to cover with a belt.  I sort of have a cheaters button at the waistband – a fake buttonhole with a button sewn to it.  The real working closure is a hook-and-eye.  This pulls the elastic waist together in a stable manner, versus a button closing.  I don’t want anything popping open on me while I’m wearing my dress…boop, surprise!  No, thank you.  That’s why there’s even a tiny safety hook-and-eye at the V of the neckline, just in case.

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All said, I really do like my dress very much, I just don’t feel that the amount of effort and frustration was worth this dress.  However, I find myself reaching for this more often than I’d ever had expected, so the usefulness and comfort which I’ve taken advantage of many times already does now make the effort worthwhile.  I am a very cold-sensitive person, and having my arms covered always feels quite comfy to me.  So, the loose sleeves of this dress is perfect for chilly nights during spring, summer, and early fall where I live, with the open, leg-revealing skirt keeping me from being too warm.  Here’s to a great one-step outfit, not too nice yet with casual ease!  And, here’s to a “new” type of clothing…what I call the “housecoat” dress, ideal for rolling out of bed and keeping the feeling but not the look.  The perfect dress for one’s needs can be so wonderful!

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“Retro Forward” Burda Style – an “Optical Illusion” Inverted Pleat Dress

Some things are not as they seem in the world.  The sewing craft is a master at perfecting smart and sensible trickery with creative pattern designs but when combined with an illusionary fabric…bam!  Get ready for some seriously fun confusion in the form of wearable art.

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Oversized pleats – a simple staple technique – go on overkill and completely make this Burda Style dress unique but incredible comfy.  I might look nice in it but it is so easy to stay in and so swingy and feminine!  The relaxed fit and flowing silhouette is a nice change from many of the tailored garments I so often make, but this dress still has its own complimentary shape that took some getting used to.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  The printed fashion fabric is a unique polyester sheer.  It is made like a delicate woven, the way it acquires runs easily, and it has a sort of flat “grid-like” design in the fabric (apart from the print) where every other block is sheer and the others are solid.  I do not know what this kind of fabric is and I’ve never again (yet) seen anything like it…one of the reasons I’ve held onto it in my stash for maybe 10 years.  The lining is a solid black poly pongee.

Burda Style Ikat Dress 108A 10-2012NOTIONS:  I had the thread, bias tape, and zipper on hand already.  I did have to go out recently and buy the aluminum chain (more on this later).

PATTERN:  Burda Style’s “Ikat Dress” #108A, from October 2012   

THE INSIDES:  All bias bound.

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This dress was more involved than I’d originally thought (with the lining and the fitting) so it took me about 15 to 20 hours to make.  It was done on November 16, 2015.

TOTAL COST:  Both fabrics were in my stash together for maybe a decade so I’m counting them as free, with my only expense being the chain, which was around $5.00.

As for any Burda Style pattern, printing and/or tracing is necessary to have a usable pattern to lay on your desired fabric.  My pattern was traced out using a roll of medical paper from the insert sheet of the magazine issue 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.

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The fabric’s print calls to my mind the psychedelic era of the 60’s or 70’s, like what I would imagine some trippy vision of a dance floor would look like to someone on a ‘high’.  It also reminds me of the checkered pattern used in car racing (with red rather than the rust orange in my fabric), like in the modern “Speed Racer” movie where he’s driving so fast the block print swirls and twists before him like he’s burning up the track.  But, in the back of my mind I can’t help but think of it being an   evil harlequin print (like in Cezanne’s painting).  Harlequins (especially the English ones) are masters at trickery and disguise, making what you see and what is really going on two different things.  They also wear a print which has a similar pattern as the one on my dress…even though it’s bold and eye catching it also deceives the visual perception, much like the “dazzle camouflage” used on ships in World War I.  So, with the “dazzle”, “psychedelic”, “harlequin” print (whew) of my fabric, my dress’ pattern further confuses things by having a bodice that looks like one piece at first, to open up leaving one to figure out where the fullness came from…at least this is how I see it without relying on knowing how it was made with tricky inverted pleats and sneaky fabric!

100_6967a-compGoing into this project, I really wasn’t sure if the fabric would be too much for the pattern design or vise-versa.  Actually, I really didn’t like it once it was made – as in “not liking it so much I was ready with both scissors and a new pattern to cut it into a new design” dislike.  I was attached to the fabric after holding onto it for so many years in my stash and it is a unique material, so I really wanted to pair up the perfect project if I was going to use it. However, once my dress was worn and the hem tweaked a bit (more about this later), I was totally won over.  After all, the Burda pattern is four years old now, and I don’t like the print they used.  Also, the more ‘dated’ a pattern becomes (different from vintage), the more I have to think beyond what I see in the cover example to come up with something different.  It’s unnerving for me to take a chance on my more special fabric (like this one) with a bold design idea, but becomes fun and worth it in the end.  Truthfully though, if I was to see this dress “ready-to-wear”, I have a hunch I wouldn’t like it half as much as I do because it was self-made. 100_6977-comp

Back to practical construction info, this dress was pretty much made as-is, with no changes to the original design and cut out according to my traditional sizing as-per Burda Style.  Oddly, it turned out quite generous in fit and way too long in the hem length.  The dress still fits me a bit roomy, but I took in maybe an inch or so on the sides and made a wide 4 or 5 inch hem.  The ¾ sleeves also ended up more of a bracelet length, but once they received a large hem, they look more like a flared end sleeve much like another Burda pattern I made before, the “Comma Dot” pleated placket dress.  I did leave out the pattern’s given neckline facing and instead used a simple line of bias tape.  This switch turned out to be a rather bad idea as the neckline is a wide boat neck, but I made it work.

100_6958a-comp100_6954a-compThe large bottom skirt hem came in handy for me to fix a problem I had with the dress.  You see the lightweight fabric of my dress and the large flowing skirt portion below made me step in the shoes of Marilyn Monroe at her famous “over the air vent” picture in the white sundress where her hem indecently wants to go up to the level of her waist or higher.  Yes, whenever the wind blew I found my hands automatically going down to keep my dress’ skirt in place…nobody wants to wear something so fussy you have to be self-conscious in.  So, I’d remembered hearing of such a thing as a metal chain along a hem to weigh it down, so I went to my local fabric store and bought aluminum (which won’t rust) ¼ inch chain.  At first I tried several different methods of stitching it to the hem, but the chin only felt cold against my skin and wrinkled up the hem.  Luckily, the large hem to the dress provided a perfect “pocket casing” to hold the chain loosely and out of sight off my skin.  I measured the circumference of the hem 100_6979-compbottom and transferred that to the chain, then dropped it into the hem “pocket casing” through a little opening in the stitching.  Once the chain was wound through I used my jewelry pliers to reconnect the chain at the same circumference as the hem, dropped it in, and sewed up the hem hole.  Voila!  I couldn’t ask for a better solution.  Now, the wind my blow, but it will only succeed in filling up my skirt to look like a bell.  Silly wind – can’t make me flash anyone anymore!  I also have an even better swishy swing when I move.  Yay for new tricks of the sewing trade!

I did use an old sewing trick to help, as well.  The markings of the pleats were not showing up on my crazy print, and since the print was slightly sheer I completely lined my dress in a black liner with an equal amount of weight and hand – poly pongee.  Yes, this step of lining my dress took me twice as long, but the finished product makes it worth it in the end.

This dress is definitely part of my “Retro Forward with Burda Style” blog seriesSimplicity 9861 yr 1972 pleated bodice dress with yoked chest, Simplicity 7633 yr 1968 inverted pleated bodice dressAlthough my Burda project is modern, I tried to channel the era of the late 1960’s with it…something between an ‘op-art’ dress and a less-sweet twist on a ‘baby doll’.  It is in the “Flower Child” era (late 60’s and early 70’s) where I see the most sewing pattern designs using inverted pleats in a fashion similar to this post’s Burda dress (see just two of the many examples I found).  However, on a different vein, the way the bodice is smartly constructed with a bodice-shaping dart hidden in the last pleat near the shoulder, and made above the bust on the chest, is exactly the same method as a year 1937 McCall #9170 which I have already sewn from (post here).  Ingenuity never goes out of style!

A small, metal walled, color blocked maze in an art themed park is the background setting to our pictures.  I thought it helped me blend in, but compliment and contrast in theme, idea, and colors with my dress.  Now you see me…now you don’t, just like the pleats in my dress!

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“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!

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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!

THE FACTS:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!