Wednesday 14 January 2015

Minerva Bloggers Network - a Hacked Burda 122

Hello! Hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year. Personally, I'm kinda glad it's over and now I have time to get on with stuff I really want to do, like sewing! And for my first project of 2015, I decided to try something new, namely a Burda PDF download. I won't make you read through to the end to find out how whether I enjoyed it or not - I didn't.

This is the object of my frustration:

Modell 122 Burda Style 09/2014
That flouncey insert on the front looks really odd to me, but I liked the idea of it and so I decided to move it to the back. I'd done this before for my December Minerva project, which I was really happy with. With that in mind I thought this dress would be a walk in the park construction-wise:

My Christmas tartan skirt

But I started to get a bad feeling when it took a whole afternoon to cut out and adjust the pattern:

SOOO MANY PIECES! And why no seam allowances??!!??

Now this isn't my first experience with PDF patterns, but this is the most complicated and involved item I've worked on. I used the adjustments which had worked well on the skirt, namely lengthening the skirt section, and swapping the flounce to the back. Because the bodice was an unusual cut, I made a partial muslin of the top half to make sure it fit. Glad I did - I ended up adding about 1/2 " to one set of seams over the bust.

Then it was off to cut my fabric, which was a lovely black and gold houndstooth Bengaline from Minerva

I've never worked with this fabric before, but I liked how it's quite firm yet stretchy. The stretch was on the length of grain only, which means you have to be careful not to stretch seams that run vertically. It also needs quite a firm iron if you want seams to stay open flat. But the fabric was not the reason this project drove me crazy.

Here's how it came out:

(That's not my house by the way. It's the 100 Club, where we went the other night to see a friend's band play, and it seemed an ideal setting for blog photos)

The part that drove me crazy was the junction of seams from the lining and dress under the arms:

I lost track of how many times I unpicked and re-did this section. And forget about looking to the instructions for any help - 'minimal' is a generous description of the scant half side of paper which were labelled 'instuctions'. 

After loads of clipping and ironing and trimming, I eventually got this section to lay flat. I suppose I can't lay all the blame on Burda - this dress used a method of costruction I've rarely used, where you attach the lining to the dress at the neck and arms before sewing the side and back seams. Then you pull it all through to the back, and sew the side seams of the lining and dress all in one go. Most of my experience is with old patterns, using old fashioned facings around the arms and neck. I got in such a tangle with it all I actually had to walk away from it on several occasions.

But lets not dwell on the negative! Here are some other details:

 The curved seams at the front and back  are really well placed for any adjustments you may need to make. The dress is overall very figure hugging, so definitely check your measurements against the pattern if you do make it.

The flounce at the back works well with the rigidity of the fabric:

Apologies for the creases...

And finally, I finished the hem with bias binding made from the lining and stitched it directly to the body of the dress:

Hem details
 I can appreciate the popularity of using downloads for price - I think this one was under £4.00 - and I'm sure many sewists out there have succumbed to the immediacy of purchasing them with just the click of a button. But is all the extra work worth it? I've had great experiences with other PDF's, such as Capital Chic where there was obvious care and attention in the presentation and instructions. But this one left me annoyed, to the point where I can't help but remember this process whenever I wear this dress.

That's me not thinking of PDF's
And there you have it - see you soon!


  1. Scruffybadgertime15 January 2015 at 08:14

    It's a good point about whether there is any economy at all in downloading PDFs, particularly patterns as complex as this. But boy it's fabulous, and despite the frustrations you've made a cracker. I love the fabric choice as well, and all that seaming looks really special. I hope in time you are able to forgive it, or change how you feel about it as it is worth it!

  2. It looks amazing even if it was a nightmare to sew. Hopefully after a while you'll forget the pain and enjoy wearing it!

  3. This might have been a nightmare to sew, but it is fab-u-lous!! I love the flounce and the fabric. Lynne

  4. I second that! If I can wolf whistle I would - you look so glam in this. Good call to relocate the flounce. I'd say reuse the pattern. You'be done all the hard work. You deserve a few more of this flattering dress.

  5. This was so worth the effort Nicole, you look fantastic! Hopefully your bad memories of making it will fade and you'll be able to enjoy wearing it soon! I absolutely love all those shaped seams

  6. Nicole, this is an awesome dress! Fabulous vavavoom!

  7. What cool lines on this dress! I have a Burda skirt with the flounce at the back that's probably my favorite skirt I've ever made. Yours looks great on you! ~Elizabeth

  8. Well done for sticking with, Nicole. You sew such classy things! I might have to check out that fabric. Looks like just what I need. But just a bit confused that the stretch is vertical. x

  9. abitofanenthusiast25 January 2015 at 18:14

    Black and gold houndstooth?! Sounds glorious! I want to see this fabulous piece in person!


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