Thanks so much to everyone for your kind comments on the Request Jacket! It’s nice to have some breathing space to actually post about some of the projects I’ve been sewing, what between September Start-Up Madness and various other responsibilities. And now I’d like to introduce you to the Request Dress.This is a picture of Burda 01-2012-109 – an asymmetrical dress both with and without a sleeve option. I’ve wanted to make this dress for a lark since first seeing it, and while it was a contender for DD1’s grad dress, it lost the competition. However, I’ve made one up on request and thought I’d post a review of the pattern for anyone else interested in making this. And a disclaimer about the fit of it on Vintage Judy: it was not made-to-measure for Vintage, and so doesn’t do her justice.
Pattern: Burda 1-2012-191
Pattern Sizing: size 34-42
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Absolutely, except for my changes.
Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. The instructions for this are particularly easy to follow and well-written. I did not have any difficulty understanding them, although I did not follow them to the letter as outlined below.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The draping and the asymmetrical neckline.
Fabric Used: a burnout polyester and Bemberg lining
Pattern alterations: I made several. I added a casing for elastic at the sleeve opening. The sleeve is a large rectangle of fabric that is left to itself once it’s been set into the side seam, and my client preferred a cuffed version. It’s a cleaner silhouette and won’t drag through your dinner. This seems to be a popular change from the posts on Burda’s Russian site (click the image on the right – it links through to all the projects posted there based on this pattern). I also changed the draping and the sleeves to get a mirror version of the dress, so the sleeve is on the right arm, not the left as per Burda.
I did not face the neckline. Burda calls for the lining to be cut on the bias and attached to the fashion fabric as an underlining would be. Garment seams are then pressed open and finished and a facing added to the neckline or sleeveless armscye. After the first fitting, I decided to treat the lining as a true lining and let it hang free from the neckline. It was pulling the skirt off grain in a way that was really very annoying. Burda suggests fabrics with a substantial weight/drape, such as silk velvet, wool crepe or a metallic fabric, and the burnout fabric was perhaps a little lightweight to hold its own against a bias lining of Bemberg. I really love the feel and drape of Bemberg, but when the bias cures, it cures by a mile. Let’s just say the bias lining seemed to be the curse of this dress. Well, that and all the design tweakings. The side zipper is an invisible zip, and it is inserted into the side seam with all the gathers. I’m not too crazy about this arrangement, and if I ever do make it up again, I’ll be putting the zip into the side without the gathers. They make zipping it up a little bit of a chore as one needs to be constantly checking gathered fabric doesn’t get caught in the zip.
There were changes to this pattern. A lot. This dress was made on request, and given the pictures/description of what was wanted, I thought this would be a good place to start. In retrospect, Vogue 7762 would have been a much better place to start because of the shoulder issues. Read on!
After fell stitching the lining to the armscye and zipper, I fit the dress for the hem. Well, forget it. There were major problems with the sleeve/shoulder placement, which affected the neckline’s placement and, therefore, fit. I had to raise the armscye by about 3 inches because it was pulling everything down messing up the fit across the bust, and because the shoulder is dropped in all those Burda Style pictures (why do I never notice these details prior to sewing something?) I had to shorten the gathers of the shoulder by 2 inches in order for the cap of the sleeve to sit at the edge of the shoulder. This is the dropped shoulder version, prior to my changes. You can see how low the armscye is and that it basically has no shaping. And this affected the hang of the entire dress, which I have tweaked three times to get the fit just right, never mind the ridiculous idea of using a straight rectangle for the sleeve. I can see how this would be fine if the dropped shoulder was left as designed, but with a fitted shoulder, a properly shaped sleeve head and armscye was required. So I cut a full sleeve from an OOP Vogue pattern and re-shaped the armscye from simply an opening in the side seam to a properly curved armscye. Needless to say, the sleeve sat properly and didn’t pull the entire dress off kilter once these changes were implemented.
The other significant change that gave me fitting grief was the neckline. Burda’s neckline cuts straight across the front of the neck and down under the arm. Makes sense as it keeps the neckline close to the body. It’s actually a very straight seam, although it’s cut on the bias. You can see from the picture below (which is the back) just how straight a diagonal line the original neckline was, since I didn’t change the shape of the back. But the front ended up being scooped out slightly, which meant the grain was all over the map in a length of about 20 inches, and caused the entire neckline to continually grow, regardless of organza interfacing for stabilization. Yes, I almost cried I was so frustrated. My DD2 was so sad for me that she burst into tears when I told my kids over lunch one day that they’d all better pray for me because this supposed-to-be-a-simple-dress was making me want to wail in despair!
What I did in the end was ease all of the neckline into a length of twill tape that began just a little R of CF and extended to the zipper. Let’s just say easing in about 2 inches of fabric into a short space is a little tricky. But it worked!!!! *happy dance* The neckline sat snug across the chest and under the arm and there’s still plenty of ease for the bust. Thank God it was cut on the bias across the bust! And the gathers in the shoulder were tacked into place to keep the draping from rolling up. This would not have been necessary if the neckline had not been altered. If one followed Burda’s original intent with this pattern, it would go together easily and be what you see in their pictures (except for the stupid bias-cut lining used as underlining. Even in their photos it’s pulling the fashion fabric out of whack). But based on my journey, I would not mark this an easy project, particularly if you’re hoping for something that fits well after tweaking. The entire experience is funny, in a twisted sort of way. I agreed to make this dress as a trial garment. Y’know, to see if I was happy sewing on request. Well, it strikes me as being rather like a Mozart aria: simply written with not soooooo many little black dots on the staves, but decidedly more work than it appears to make it beautiful.
BTW, it was worth the grief in the end: it looks sharp and sexy on the person for whom it was made.