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The Blue and Black Burda February sheath dress

3 February 2012, 13:22

I’m feeling pretty good about the past few issues of Burda magazine. For a while there (2010, I’m looking at you!) they really seemed to be only printing boring, shapeless and awful patterns, but I’m glad I stuck around because the past few months have really been a return to form, as far as I’m concerned.

There were quite a few patterns I want to make from the February issue, but only one demanded I drop everything and Sew It Now, the colourblocked asymmetrical knit sheath dress #117:

I know a lot of people complain about tracing Burda patterns, but I seriously don’t have a problem with it. Most patterns take me about ten minutes to trace, I have the pattern sheets on top so it’s not difficult to see the lines, and I do a few at a time.

This dress may have the illustrated instructions for this issue but WOW was this a total bear to trace! It’s printed in red lines, but this sheet also contains the “easy”, pink shaded pattern, so there are multiple points where you need to trace red lines over pink shading. Add to that the irregular shapes of the pattern pieces and you’ve got yourself a headache.

If you can get through the tracing pain, though, you’re really in for a treat, because the tracing took longer than the cutting or construction combined. I sewed this up last Friday night after work and wore it out to a friend’s birthday the next day!

I’ve made it up here in a royal blue viscose jersey and black rib knit from my stash (both from Ditto). I really love the slimming effect of the black waist panels and I’ll definitely do that again, but I think a sturdier knit might’ve been a bit more suitable than the viscose jersey, as the viscose’s drapey qualities are lost on this pattern. Still, it’s super soft, unbelievably comfortable, and something I feel like a million bucks wearing!

I made a few changes to the pattern here, mostly that I totally ignored Burda’s enormous exposed zipper down the centre back seam. I don’t mind exposed zippers as a feature, but I’m not in love with them, and considering a standard, short invisible zipper costs about £3-4 in the UK, I couldn’t even conceive of how much a 40 inch, 2-way, metal-teeth zipper would put me back.

So I left it off, and it’s f-i-n-e to get in and out of. And you know what? You really don’t need to have the upper left front opening, either. Despite the standing collar, I can get this on and off no problem (and I have a big ol’ melon head).

Oh, and I didn’t bother putting the little pleats into the top of the sleeves. It would’ve just meant topstitching on knits, which never ends well, and I really liked the cap sleeve as it was and didn’t want to change a thing. It’ll mean my armscyes are 1cm lower as a result, but c’est la vie.

I love the slimming effect of that middle colourblocked panel, but getting the seams aligned was a real pain! I think I may take out an inch vertically at the waist on my next version as I’m getting some excess fabric there as I move… I often adjust for this on other dresses, but I just didn’t bother to here for whatever reason. I don’t think anyone but me would ever notice, so I’ll just fix it on the next one.

Gratuitous bootay shot:

Here you can see that upper front opening. Burda have you face this and then attach some snaps in here, but because the seam runs over the bust, I really think this would be gapey if you left it open as intended. I sewed mine closed after pinning to make sure I could get it on and off, but the lumpy facings remain.

On the next version I’m sewing this as a seam from the start to avoid the lumpiness of the facings under there. If you want to do the same, just omit the facing on the upper right front and attach it to the dotted line on the upper left front.

The skirt has a bunch of great seaming on it, too, so you could colourblock even further than I have here if you wanted to…

But really, I just love this dress! It’s so comfortable, and I’ve gotten so many compliments even in just the two occasions I’ve worn it in the past week. I also like it because it reminds me both of my beloved September dress pattern but also of traditional cheongsam dresses

Irina mentioned in the comments that there’s an error in the tech drawing for this dress, but for the life of me I can’t find it. Can anyone clue me in?

Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, Audrey also made this dress even quicker than I did! Check out her site for a good analysis of where the hidden darts lie in this pattern. I think my next version will be in a ponti roma now that I’ve done the noble thing and tested it with the stash first… Am I brave enough to sew it in the oh so very trendy tangerine colour though?

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  1. superb! well done. It looks great on you…ready for spring!

    Sewing Princess    Feb 3, 01:51 PM    #
  2. It and you look great. And definitely go for orange (I’m in a call a ‘spade’ a ‘spade’ mood today) – I’m biased because it’s currently my favourite colour.

    — Miriana Weston    Feb 3, 02:00 PM    #
  3. OK, you’ve just tipped the balance on whether I want this issue of Burda or not! I was concerned about whether that dress would work on curves but a combination of your version and Audrey’s hidden dart analysis has persuaded me.

    Lucy    Feb 3, 02:39 PM    #
  4. Admittedly, I’m not a Burda sewer cuz I cannot deal with the tracing. But I’m amazed by how much play this dress is getting. No doubt, it’s super attractive, very modern – and fun! Alas, on me, I know it would be horrible! So it’s just as well I have no compulsion to try and get a pattern from that road map of insanity. :-)

    K-Line    Feb 3, 03:14 PM    #
  5. Fab! You look splendid in this dress! And this is only your wearable muslin!
    Now I am desperate to try it, but definitely in some sort of double knit. My days of pulling off tight jersey are long over, lol!

    Karin    Feb 3, 03:33 PM    #
  6. Gorgeous! I love the color and you blocked it exactly as I would and how I thought Burda should have. It makes for a very curvy, vavavoom-ish dress. I bet the compliments continue to roll in.

    Clio    Feb 3, 06:02 PM    #
  7. What a great version of this dress. I love your waist only colour blocking, you look terrific.

    kbenco    Feb 3, 08:31 PM    #
  8. Melissa, the dress is fabulous…unfortunately I am on the plus side and know they won’t have sized it to fit me. I did look at the plus offerings for that issue and they feature some nice jackets/coats. I may have to see if my local B&N still have that issue on its stands. I personally think Burda is still lacking in the plus size area, although they have greatly improved over what they used to offer years ago(straight up and down w/bust darts and the ubiquitious safari looks, no folkloric looks though). Still I wish they would up the style quotient for us “bigger” women…Cheers

    — susan    Feb 3, 08:42 PM    #
  9. Ooooohhhh I love this in just two colors! You did a fantastic job on this and the dress is so flattering on you!

    Carolyn    Feb 3, 10:07 PM    #
  10. You look fabulous. This is one that I want to try as well.

    Cennetta    Feb 3, 10:31 PM    #
  11. Mé! I can’t even speak, you look that good!

    Lakaribane    Feb 4, 12:08 AM    #
  12. Melissa, do you trace the pattern around on your fabric with chalk, or just cut fabric? And do you use pins to hold the pattern on fabric or just weights? And do you cut fabric with scissors or cutting wheel (is this even the right word for this tool, I’m not sure)?

    MySummerTouch    Feb 4, 01:14 AM    #
  13. Oh wow it’s an awesome dress on you. I HAVE to make this. Finding the right fabric is proving tough for me so it’s good to see that it really works in two colours.

    allisonC    Feb 4, 02:31 AM    #
  14. The tracing on this one was awful but your dress has turned out great! You should definitely make it in tangerine.

    Catherine Daze    Feb 4, 08:32 AM    #
  15. This looks stunning on you – well done! And thanks for the tips. Love it!

    — Rachel UK    Feb 4, 11:24 AM    #
  16. Wow! Just WOW! (out of words)

    Mary in FL    Feb 4, 03:48 PM    #
  17. It’s very strange to see these great pictures of you in such an up-to-the-minute, awesome, and spring-like dress after seeing stunning pictures of London in the British press today. Hope you, spouse, Bosco and boat are doing well in the midst of the ice floes!

    Noile    Feb 5, 04:25 AM    #
  18. Stunning work as always Melissa. I love the royal blue and black combo. I really think you should make this in Tangerine though it will look gorgeous against your dark hair.

    Lisa Penrice    Feb 5, 08:29 PM    #
  19. WOW what a dress. It looks well WOW! I’ll show
    it to Meg to keep her motavated.She made Fisher
    A cute little hat.

    — cris rush    Feb 5, 10:15 PM    #
  20. Wow! Love your dress, and it looks soooo good on you. I have to make this one too!I’m really glad to read you left out the zipper and it’s fine to get in and out. That makes it a lot easier!

    — Teddie    Feb 5, 10:30 PM    #
  21. Lovely dress. I must say that I have no problems with Burda patterns ether. I always work with them and they are good. :)But, probably depends on a person using them. Anyways, I always check your blog because you make ameizing dresses!

    Melita    Feb 6, 12:05 PM    #
  22. Love it on you! I can’t find the tech issue either, although I had to pin it on my dressform to figure out how the upper left piece went. My version will be colourblocked in 4 colours. I pondered about the ways to lay it out on my blog.

    Connie    Feb 6, 01:28 PM    #
  23. Loved it !!! Loved it the magazine, but the colors you chose are amazing!!!

    — heidi    Feb 6, 06:15 PM    #
  24. Oh, that is such a fun and flattering dress! It looks great on you.

    meli88a    Feb 10, 02:08 AM    #
  25. Oooh, I really like the asym waist inset that resulted from the way you color blocked your dress. And the seaming in the skirt shows up so much better in a lighter color. It looks so good on you!

    audrey    Feb 10, 08:38 PM    #

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