I really loved the look of Burda 07-2010-120 dress, thinking it would be a great way to showcase this silk chiffon print from The Carol Collection without too much horror in handling silk chiffon--the skirt is just rectangles and the bodice inset is small enough to control. However, the instructions are all kind of nonsense, starting with the fabric (linen jersey sounds amazing but I had literally never heard of it before and have certainly never seen it anywhere). Burda instructions are famous for being inscrutable, but once you figure these out they involves so much ridiculous hand sewing and missing of obvious opportunities to do a clean machine finish that it seems like they gave the pattern pieces to someone and said "Make this as complicated and fussy as you possibly can."
Here is how I put it together.
First, I compared the length of the inset to the length of the bodice. The inset is about an inch and a half shorter. Part of the crazy insane instructions is that the lining skirt is an inch longer and you sew the lining skirt to the inset (I think). This seemed needlessly complicated, and later when I realized how LOW LOW LOW the bodice front is drafted I was glad I didn't plan to hang the lining skirt off of it because the dress would have effectively become a skirt with suspenders. Instead, I lengthened the inset to match the bodice length, thinking to baste it to the lower edge of the bodice front lining. I didn't end up doing that because I needed a full extra inch of length on the inset just to adequately cover my bust. So next time I'd lengthen it even more.
I cut the bodice back with a center back seam so that I could do an all-machine clean-finish for the neckline and armscyes. Because my fabric was thin, I interfaced the front neckline of the bodice lining. I started by assembling the bodice and lining as per my earlier tutorial and then sewing the center back seam, but leaving the side seams open so that I could insert the inset.
I did not use a zipper. With the wide neckline it's easy to pull over the head, and I preserved the stretch of the bodice by using zigzag seams for assembly.
I serger-finished the upper and lower edges of the chiffon bodice inset (I find it hard to catch all the edges when trying to finish something after it has already been gathered) and put in the gathering threads. The pattern calls for cutting two lining pieces for the front inset. I actually tried it that way first but it was way too bulky, so I cut another set with just one lining piece.
Gather the upper edge of the chiffon inset and pin to the inset lining, right sides together. I found it helpful to lay the inset into the bodice "window" to determine how best to distribute the gathers (you want it flat where it will be covered by the bodice, concentrating the gathers in the window).
NOTE: Where I machine stitched any horizontal seams (rather than serging) I used a zigzag to retain the stretch quality of the fabric.
Stitch (zigzag) the gathered chiffon inset to the inset lining, right sides together, at the upper edge. Turn down the combined seam allowances of the chiffon inset and lining inset onto the lining and stitch down (zigzag) to form an elastic casing. Although this leaves a serged edge in theoretical danger of being exposed if your casing flips down, it also ensures that the chiffon goes over the upper edge of the inset and the lining will not peek out.
I cut the elastic to the length prescribed by Burda, but after assembling the dress found that the inset feels very wardrobe malfunction-y and took about three inches out of the length of the elastic to tighten it.
After inserting the elastic into the casing, gather the lower edge of the chiffon and stitch (zigzag) it to the lower edge of the inset lining, wrong side of the chiffon against right side of the lining.
Finish the side edges of the inset.
Unfortunately, my photo of the next step is blurry and I only took one. Sorry about that.
As discussed in the clean finish tutorial, take a hand tack at the underarm match point for the bodice and lining on each side. Before sewing the side seams, place the inset into the lining half of the side seam (NOT the fashion fabric half), with the chiffon side against the right side of the bodice front lining and the upper edge snugged up against your hand tack at the underarm match point. Then sew the side seams as one.
When everything is turned right side out, the inset rests inside the bodice front from side seam to side seam.
To make the skirt, I cut (tore, actually) two rectangles the full width of my 45 inch wide chiffon the length that Burda prescribes in the instructions. This Carol Collection silk chiffon is very high quality and the print goes all the way to the edge of the selvage. That made it very easy to do nice french seams.
Burda provides an A-line skirt lining pattern to be cut of jersey. However, I thought a knit skirt would be too heavy and an A line would take away the floaty quality of the skirt. So I used a woven lining rather than a knit and cut the full 60 inch width of my fabric, to be gathered in place.
I did a serger rolled hem on the lower edge of the chiffon, and did a regular serger finish on the upper edge, as well as the upper and lower edges of the lining.
Next, I put in gathering threads and sewed the chiffon skirt to the fashion fabric bodice and the skirt lining to the bodice lining, pressing the seams up toward the bodice.
I had intended to baste the lower edge of the inset to the lower edge of the bodice front lining but--surprise!--it was not remotely long enough. I left it free when sewing the skirt to the bodice. To finish, I hand-stitched the inset in place onto the bodice lining as well as tacking it to the straps. If I make this again, I will shorten the front strap, something I often need to do but didn't think about for this project.
The neckline is so low. Have I mentioned that? I don't usually have a problem with the low Burda neckline because I am flat-chested, but this one is rather ridiculous. It definitely looks better in the magazine with a shorter inset, but I honestly don't know how they got the inset to cover the model's nipples. It is that low.
I dig the dress. It is my first transitional piece of the year--it works with sandals, but also will be great into fall with tights and a jacket or sweater. I wore it on Tuesday to celebrate my birthday (8/31) and felt festive.
The biggest weakness of the design is the bodice back, which is boring and somewhat incongruous, but I don't have any ideas for making it more interesting or harmonious so I can't really complain. You can't really lower the back neckline because it could cause the front to pull too much forward and lower the neckline even more. Maybe cutting out the armholes a little in the back for a more racerback style?
I am trying to sew from stash so I just used what I had and the knit fabric for the bodice is really not strong enough. I think this would do best with a double knit; strong enough to hold its shape but still stretchy enough to leave off the zip. Although it will be no fun to unpick all that zigzag stitching, I can remove the chiffon bits to reuse if I want to remake this with a sturdier knit for the bodice at some point in the future (and then I could incorporate that shortened front strap).
This is also the first candidate for my travel wardrobe to TURKEY!!!! After several setbacks, we booked our tickets a couple of weeks ago and are going for sure. I'll be gone the first two weeks of October, and I think the weather in Turkey in October is as fractious as the weather here in October and it could be blazing hot or freezing cold. I'm going to have to make game time packing decisions so of course that means I need a huge array to choose from! I have many sewing projects planned, probably more than I can complete in the time remaining but a girl can dream!
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.