Burda and A Summer Maxi Dress for Sarah
Around the middle of July, I purchased a pattern from BurdaStyle.com. The Island Placket Maxi Dress. My daughter, Sarah, had asked me if I would make her this dress after looking through a hundred patterns for various maxi dresses.
I had never made a dress using Burda patterns, but I was up for the challenge. It was a beautiful dress pattern.
I had heard some pretty scary things about using Burda patterns, from not being able to understand the instructions to being extremely difficult to decipher the symbols. So, yes, I was apprehensive, but I was hoping that I had enough sewing experience over the years to compensate for whatever the pattern lacked in instruction and symbols.
There is one thing that Burda lacks - visuals. This pattern did show an illustration of the layout, and that is always helpful, however, whereas you will find illustrations showing you what needs to be done "next" on most patterns (Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls, Vogue, etc), with Burda, all you have are written instructions. Obviously, having an understanding of sewing terms and clothing construction helps before tackling a difficult pattern from Burda.
Burda patterns do NOT come with a seam allowance. In other words, once you have the pattern taped together (after downloading and printing it off), place pattern paper over the original pattern and trace your size, AND all the symbols, pattern #, and instructions (if any) on the pattern, onto your traced pattern. You can get some great rolls of pattern paper from NancysNotions.com.
Use your traced pattern for your outfit. I found that if I wasn't sure what a mark was on the pattern, all I had to do was look at the picture of the dress, the drawing and the photograph of the finished dress on the model, to determine what a symbol or mark was supposed to mean on the pattern.
TIP #1: Remember that when you are adding a 5/8" seam allowance to your pattern pieces, only add it to the sides that will need it. In other words, DON'T add a 5/8" seam allowance to the part of a pattern piece to be placed on a "FOLD." Um, I made that mistake, and it will throw off the pattern.
TIP #2: Read ALL the instructions before tackling the pattern, no matter how experienced you think you are with sewing patterns. There might just be a bit of information that will make all the difference in the quality of the construction of the garment.
TIP #3: If you have a Serger, serge all the edges of your fashion fabric pattern pieces before constructing the garment. It makes for clean edges and a professional finished result.
Okay, so I tackled the Burda pattern - 04/2014 #121 Island Placket Maxi Dress. It wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. However, I did make some minor changes to the dress so that it fit Sarah perfectly.
First, I added a piece of elastic around the waist seam for a snug fit. I took a 1/4" piece of elastic, wrapped it around Sarah at the seam where the bodice attaches to the skirt, then cut off 2 inches. I turned the dress inside-out and sewed two seam allowances together creating a pocket for the elastic. Then, I pulled the elastic thru the pocket and reinforced the ends on the sewing machine. Not only did this create a better fit for the dress just under the bodice, but no sewing seams were visible.
Second, the bodice, on the side of the bust was too large. It was hanging open. So, I added a quick dart to both sides. This kept the side of the bodice from falling open.
Third, I used the machine for the hem. Usually, I hem clothing by hand, but we were in a bit of a hurry to get this dress done. Nobody was going to see the hem. So I pressed a rolled a hem of about 1/2" after serging the bottom edge, and just used a longer straight stitch for the hem. Pressed it again and it was done.
Fourth, add that skirt lining! I almost decided against adding the skirt lining. I was tired and wanted to get this done, but ultimately, I decided to finish this dress the right way and I added the lining. I did, however, make it about 15" - 20" shorter than the dress so that the skirt lining came to just below Sarah's knees. I did not hem the lining. Serged the edge all the way around. Perfect. The lining is an important element to the comfort of the dress as well, as you won't have all those seams rubbing up against your skin, only the soft satin of the lining. Also, the seams will not be visible when hanging in your closet. Seams are not pretty.
Another thing I noticed about this pattern was that the bodice looked like a "bib" with the trim around the edge of the bodice front and half-moon insert at the top of the skirt. So that it didn't look like Sarah was wearing a bib, I chose not to add trim to the bodice front and skirt insert.
The dress came out perfect.
Sarah loves it. And, I'm proud of myself for tackling this Burda Pattern with an open mind.