Friday, August 31, 2012

Burda 08-2011-120, J. Mendel Knockoff Birthday Dress

Burda 06-2011-120 Thumbnail

Jason Wu
Source: vogue.com via Trena on Pinterest

I have collectively spent much more time on Pinterest than on actually making things inspired by Pinterest, but add another project to the list!  I was really struck by this $2590 J. Mendel dress--I love the contrast raglan sleeves, trim down the front, and full-skirted shape in a sophisticated fabric.  I thought it might be a good use for the remainder of the silk suiting I used for my A line skirt.  Then I saw Burda 08-2012-120 and knew it was fate.  I used the skirt from Butterick 5315, which I meant to mention at the time was very nicely drafted.  It fit on the bodice with no changes, cutting size 10 at the waist. After I'd made it, I saw the Jason Wu at left in a similar style.







Front Pattern Piece
Back Pattern Piece
I first made my broad back and small bust adjustments and then made a quick muslin of the bodice (these are the final pattern pieces, after taking length out of the bodice and adding width at the center front and side seams).

Muslin Front
Muslin Back
















The fit was pretty good and I had good movement in the arms.  The neckline was way too high in the front and it was a little long in the bodice--not surprising as this is a tall pattern.  The front bust darts were very long.  I lowered the neckline half an inch and shortened the bodice by about 3/4 of an inch about 4 inches above the waist.  I could have shortened it a bit more for my less-stable fashion fabric.  I had a little droopiness in the front bodice at the side seams at bust level, so I shaved a little width off there.  I also added a little width at the waist, but ended up taking it out during construction (probably to do with the less stable fabric).

Shoulder Pattern Pieces

To make it less confusing to put together, I found it useful to add notches to the sleeve and bodice pattern along the sleeve/bodice join line.  There are notches (well, markings, this being Burda) drafted onto the bodice pieces, but only to indicate the terminus of the sleeve.  It was a lot easier to keep the front and back straight, and which edge lined up where, with the notches.

Thrift Store Suede Jacket

The suede comes from a large jacket, purchased at the thrift store last year for $10.  I was hoping that I could remake it into a jacket to fit me, but it just wasn't big enough for that, alas.  In taking it apart, I was interested to see how much interfacing has been used in it.  There were strips of interfacing at the armscyes, for instance.

I used my Chaco chalk liners, a recent indulgence, to mark the patterns onto the suede for cutting.  These things are awesome.  They have a teeny tiny wheel that dispenses the chalk in a line, and you can zip right along with them.  I thought I had taken a picture of my traced pattern pieces but I hadn't sorry.

For the front trim, I cut the topstitched seam out of the center of each sleeve (joining the pieces to get enough length) so there would be more interest than just a strip of suede.

Leather Seam Allowances


This was my first time sewing with leather or suede.  I did not find it difficult at all.  I had gathered a lot of information by osmosis from reading about others' projects (particularly Karen's and Clio's) so I didn't do any additional research.  For the front trim and the belt I used a leather needle, but where leather was sewn to fabric I just used a universal.  This suede was fairly thin and supple and it sewed up totally fine with a universal needle.  I used a walking foot for most of the sewing involving suede and glued down the seam allowances with Fabri-Tac.

Understitch Lining at Neckline



I finished the bodice using the all-machine clean-finish technique.   Because of the thick fabric and front pleats, which add even more thickness, I did the neckline first.  I trimmed close to the stitching and zigzagged to finish, rather that using the serger as I normally would, because I could get the seam allowances smaller that way.  Then I understitched the neckline to the lining.  Once that was all done I stitched the armscye seams.  Although the lining does not lay perfectly flat at the neckline, it does not show either so I am satisfied.

Mark Line for Hand Stitching on Lapped ZipBecause the fabric was too thick for an invisible zipper to cross the waist seam, I did a lapped zipper.  I used the same technique as for my Seersucker Social dress, hand-picking the visible/lapped side, though this one didn't turn out quite as well.  I think I see why the exposed zipper trend got started--it's just hard to get a regular zipper to look good in some fabrics.

I used a Frixion pen to mark the stitch line for the lap, which made things go a *lot* faster than trying to eyeball it.

Zipper Finish

I did not interface the zipper opening at first, which was a horrible mistake.  I had to rip out the hand-picked side and the second pass machine stitching on the underlap side and retrofit it with interfacing.  I was racing against the clock to finish this dress so this was fairly painful.  Lesson learned.

On the plus side, I think I did a nicer job with the zipper finish at the neckline.

I didn't have this issue that I noticed with the muslin, but the back neck on the finished version is kind of sticky-outy.  I probably need to make it a standard alteration to narrow the back neckline.

Hem Lace


Because the skirt is essentially a circle skirt, it needs a very small hem allowance to avoid the agony of trying to shrink the fuller lower edge to fit the narrower stitched edge.  I turned it up about 3/8 of an inch and used hem lace to get enough length for a machine blind stitch.

IMG_0354





The matching belt is an integral part of the look and I am really happy with how it came out.  To get the point at the end, I folded the suede strip in half and stitched diagonally across it, trimming very very close to the stitching, especially at the point.  I finger-pressed it flat, then traced the arrow onto the belting.  I sort of mitered the corners, as you can see.  I used topstitching thread and stitched the suede directly to the belting.

One of the beauties of sewing with leather is it's one of the few instances in sewing where glue is a totally acceptable construction method, LOL.  I used glue to create the loop (it's a piece of suede folded in thirds) and to fix the loop to the belt.  I happened to have Fabric-Tac on hand and it says it works on leather on the bottle.  It seemed totally fine.

I decided to go with a non-covered belt buckle, of which I have a not-insignificant stash for some reason.  This buckle is a little wider than my one inch belting--I think the buckle is metric because it's not 1 1/2 inches.  So it occasionally requires a little rearranging to keep it from sitting crooked.  Any ideas for keeping it straight would be appreciated.  I think I should have anchored the tongue thingy before sewing the belt in place, but I don't want to rip out the stitching because I am not confident of being able to sew exactly along the stitch line again--it's hard to get close to the buckle.

I will eventually glue ribbon to the back of the belt to cover up the suede seam allowances, but I don't have anything suitable in stash.


Magazine Photo Sleeveless
Magazine Photo Sleeves
My dress is not exactly like the inspiration--the leather goes all the way around the armscye on the original and (as the name implies) the entire back is leather.  But it is quite similar, also to the Jason Wu.  So maybe it's only a $1590 dress instead of a $2590 dress.  Hee.

I should have underlined the entire bodice in silk organza, as it stretched out a bit vertically from the weight of the skirt while it was hanging before hemming.  Alas.  At least the suede trim in front and zipper in back will keep it from stretching out further.  So I'm annoyed with myself over the stretched out bodice and wish the zipper looked better, but otherwise really like the dress.




Today is my actual birthday but because of the holiday weekend I had my celebratory happy hour yesterday (complete with the fascinator/tiara) and will wear it for a fancy dinner tomorrow.  Woot!

I will leave you with these amusing photos, copying the magazine's poses based on this PR thread.  The closest thing I had in my home to a giant decorative birdcage was a button caddy, and I am very impressed with the long-sleeved model's flexibility.  I realized that she was merely touching the heel of her shoe; I had to cling onto mine to stay upright during the self-timer lag.  Also, I was SUPER SORE from a hard yoga class and long run, so my muscles were all clenching up.  It is amusing though.  (Some people asked about these shoes in my last post--they are Borns, which are the most comfortable heels possible.  I lucked into these at Nordstrom Rack for a crazy price, I think under $30.)

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

43 comments:

Charity Shop Chic said...

A fantastic knock off, well done! I want one of my own!
The suede is particularly gorgeous. You were really lucky to find that coat.

Bex said...

Absolutely adorable! I was drooling over this exact dress a few weeks ago, and your version is gorgeous with the suede contrast. Very inspirational and informative post!

CGCouture said...

Great dress! It may not look exactly like the more expensive version, but it's still a great dress with some interest. And I love Born heels, they make 3" heels seem not so bad, LOL! You can also try Sofft, they make heels that are pretty comfortable as well.

Ripple Dandelion said...

I commented also on PR: great dress! Love the colors. FYI, there is a fantastic (though a bit spendy) product that I love for gluing leather and other stuff. It's called Sealah tape--it is double sided and so strong you cannot believe it. Works great for holding leather seam allowances in place and requires no drying time. I'm not affiliated with them, I just love it and I know it's not well known in the home sewing community: http://jodeesinc.com/.

Beth (SunnyGal Studio) said...

I love a designer knock off - great version. I think sewing leather is super fun, no edge treatment required. You have got me thinking I have an old leather skirt that I can cut up and add to a fall blazer. By the way, to stick down seam allowances and do hems on leather and suede, I use rubber cement.

Beth (SunnyGal Studio) said...

PS. Happy Birthday, mine is this weekend as well. I expect you (like me) received plenty of "back to school" birthday presents :)

Anonymous said...

Well done!!! I L*VE it!!!

Wendy Piersall said...

I think that is the cutest, most flattering thing you've ever sewn on this blog! Adorable!! :)

Adelaide B said...

Super cute! I'm glad you had more of this fabric because I loved the skirt you made from it.

disparatedisciplines said...

Very cute! I love the photos where you mimic the models.

Cynthia said...

This is gorgeous, I love everything about it. Happy birthday :)

Michelle said...

Honestly, I like your version more than the original! I love the colors you used and that you changed the skirt. I think teal looks really great on you!

ana5059 said...

Fantastic dress!! Nice colours!! In Spain some seamstresses are working in a sew along to make Burda Dress. Please, Check it out:
http://lapequenaaprendiz.blogspot.com.es/

http://www.flickr.com/groups/2036630@N25

Trumbelina said...

Happy Birthday!!!
Love the dress! I found a chalk liner a few years ago, and also use a disappearing ink pen for marking. My sister's mind was blown when she was over to sew a dress for herself and used them.

soisewedthis said...

Happy birthday! Great dress and I love that you found blue suede from a thrift store jacket! your poses are cute too

lakaribane said...

I love it and I love your shoes! (I'm sublimating over-stashification of fabrics and notions into a bit of shoe madness, LOL). I did not know born made heels, trop cute!!!

emadethis said...

Happy birthday! I hope your birthday month is a happy one. I love the suede touches on this dress, and the suede matches so well to the main fabric. Yay for glue too. My Mom is always excited when I tell her about notions that use glue type applications as she's forever the duct tape hemmer.

Crystal said...

Happy Birthday! Your dress is fantastic. I love that you went with a color. The reuse of that suede jacket is very cool.

andrea said...

Happy Birthday! That dress is gorgeous and looks very high end indeed :)

Sewingelle said...

This is a truly fabulous dress. Happy birthday!

Linda said...

Great dress! I like the use of the suede. Happy Birthday

Carol said...

What a great knock off! You look great in this dress. I'm impressed with your reuse of the jacket. I bought a similar mens suede jacket at the op shop fpr $2 recently with the same idea as you but, of course, I've done nothing with it yet. I hadn't thought to cut it up for anything else but it's a great idea.

T. Sedai said...

I love your dress - it looks fantastic! And happy birthday!

Lydia La La said...

Well.. Happy Birthday!! I love your copy cat photos. You are so NOT a slap dash sewist. Nice work.

Vicki said...

Happy birthday!! Another great birthday frock!

Katharine said...

Happy Birthday, Trena! And I had to do a double take on 08-2012, you saw what I really didn't see in the Asian collection there. Wow! I love your transformation! Great colour on you too, as always. Welcome to a new year :)

Myrna said...

Belated Happy Birthday. Have a fabulous weekend/year.

Lynn said...

Adorable and original. Such a nice touch with the suede trim!

Ms. McCall said...

Happy Birthday! This dress really fits you perfectly, and is so flattering!

Thank you for your detailed posts, they are so very helpful for beginners like me.

Audrey said...

Happy Birthday! How lucky were you to find a inexpensive source of blue suede that perfectly matches your dress fabric. I love the dress in the blue, rather than the expected black. So pretty!

Claire S. said...

Happy birthday ! Beautiful dress :-)

Little Hunting Creek said...

I love your dress. The leather trim is genius. We could have an exhibit on the recent odd model poses. Vogue and McCalls have done some quirky ones.

Emily said...

That dress is FANTASTIC!!!! I love the suede upcycle! :)

I just bought my first pair of born heels off the clearance rack at Dillards today...SUPER comfortable. I'm going to go to the other Dillards in town later today to see if I can find more.

Love the dress, love the shoes, and the poses are awesome!

mochimo said...

I'm a bit late, but... happy birthday!!!
Cute dress!

Andrea said...

Happy Birthday. You did an amazing job on that knock off. Love it.

AllisonC said...

Hope you had a great birthday! I think I have the Jason Wu dress pinned too so good for you for turning a pin into a fabulous dress. The use of the thrifted blue coat is brilliant!

gwensews said...

Super knock off! The dress looks perfect on you, with your adorable little fascinator and those fantastic red shoes!

senaSews said...

I totally love this dress. Love the combination of different textures (boucle and leather) and colors. And the pictures are sooo fun! Ohhh, and before i forget it ...... Happy belated birthday! Hope your day was as fabulous as your dress!

Kristy said...

Happy birthday! I shall always remember it because it's the same as my husband's, and the same day that Princess Di passed away (I'm sure you want to be reminded of that!!). Great job sewing with leather, it' still on my to-try list. You've made such a great copy of the J.Mendel dress - a $2590 dress pffft!

Janice said...

It looks great! Happy birthday!

Clio said...

Happy (belated) Birthday! What a fantastic bday dress!

Kyle said...

Happy Birthday!!
I'm impressed that you make yourself a birthday dress every single year!!
(btw, I think we have the same body shape so I wanted to share with you--today I discovered "Julie Straight" pants at Ann Taylor Loft and they actually FIT my swayback and hips. They're amazing!)

Sewing Princess said...

Happy belated birthday. I love the dress you made. You are amazing. I share with you the Pinterest feeling!