Warning: A Miserable Project: Burda 11/2012 #138

Burda 11-2012-138 adjustedSome people blog all their pretty perfect outfits and look pretty and perfect, which is all good and uplifting and encouraging and all, but let’s be realistic.  A lot of the garments I sew for myself take a lot of work and reworking and fitting and tweaking before I’m happy enough to wear them for a blog post photo shoot.

Well, this dress project is pissing me off because, well…. let’s be honest here.  Because I’m an idiot and didn’t bother to do a toile prior to cutting, which was beyond necessary because my fabric is wool crepe.  I quote from the pattern instructions:

Recommended fabrics:  Jersey of wool or wool blends.  Use stretch jersey fabrics only.

Yeah, I know.  But I really wanted to use this particular teal wool crepe (I love wool crepe) and I wanted to make this particular dress because the bodice looked interesting, and I needed a wildcard for that Tying-Up-Loose-Ends idea.

At least even Karl Lagerfeld himself makes mistakes matching fabric with design sometimes.  (Don’t believe me?  Watch the documentary Signe Chanel in it’s entirety here or here or buy your own copy. There’s a lovely silk velvet gown that one petite main spends twelve full days sewing by hand, only to have the master admit his original fabric choice isn’t working.)

I measured, allowed for the lack of ease in the fabric, was a good girl and did an FBA leaving the armscye unaltered….FBA Burda 11-2012-138And it failed miserably.  This is before tweaking. The sleeves are the perfect length and it looks good, right?Burda 11-2012-138 front before adjustmentBut I can’t move in it.  See what happens when I move my arms? armscye problemThe armscyes are very low.  Actually, a full 2.5 inches lower than they should be, and it’s because the top of the front armscye is entirely on the bias.  Well, mine was, because I had the brains foresight to do the required FBA. Yes, I was warned when I posted of my SWAP plans, but I’d already cut it out by then, so I just (uselessly) crossed my fingers and hoped.  See the pulling? The sleeves won’t let my arms go anywhere, so the bodice is stretching across all its bias glory to allow for arm movement. I could not reach forward or put my arms over my head if someone had held a gun in my face.

This is after tweaking, with the too-full-but-with-room-enough-to-move sleeves of the wrong length.  Burda 11-2012-138 front The re-cut the sleeves v.1 were from  Vogue 8615:  a 3/4 sleeve with an elbow dart, which was still too tight.  (?!?!)  When that didnt’ work, I thought I may as well go the whole hog and use what I know to be a loosey sort of proper fitting sleeve with wearing ease from Burda 5/2010 #112.  The original sleeve is in tissue overlaying the sleeve pattern I eventually opted to use.sleeve adjustments I used silk organza selvedge to stay the armscye and eased in about 2-3 inches of stretched bias on the bodice front into what the measurements on the pattern dictated the armscye should be (about 9 inches from shoulder to underarm).    Ridiculous.armscye fixAnd now I have this.  See all that fabric trying desperately to shrink into the armscye?  And I couldn’t recut the bodice or reduce any of the fabric from the pleats because the FBA needs the ease to fit successfully.Burda 11-2012-138 bodice adjusted It isn’t pretty and perfect, but I can raise my arms, see?  Doesn’t look great, but let me tell you, from a wearability perspective, it’s 100% better than the original version.Burda 11-2012-138 armscyeThe sleeves are loose enough that they move when I need them to now, and the armscye sits high enough that it basically stays in place when my arms move.  But it’s got to be the ugliest bodice I’ve ever seen on myself.Burda 11-2012-138 sideSo do I like anything about this dress? Yes.  I love the fabric.  I love love love wool crepe.  And the back fits well.IMG_5461 Burda 11-2012-138 backThe hemline finishing – fell stitched to the hem allowance because I wanted a clean finish.Burda 11-2012-138 lining hemMy silk lining.Burda 11-2012-138 liningBut I really hate the fit of the bodice and sleeves on my version of this dress.  I think I’ll chop it off and make a skirt.  So much for this loose end!


46 thoughts on “Warning: A Miserable Project: Burda 11/2012 #138

  1. That is a gorgeous fabric and some amazing pattern modification. I’m sorry it didn’t work out. I am amazed at your skill level. This would have been a cry-fest-box-of-tissues-before-chucking piece because I wouldn’t have figured out that solution. I am also super jealous of the fit on your backside!

  2. Brilliant post! I hope your dress is salvageable. I had to laugh at the thought of you explaining to a masked gunman why you couldn’t raise your hands above your head ” see the thing is, its the armscye of this bloody pattern and that’s with me having done a fba – full bust adjustment – and then there’s the cut on the bias – well! and yeah ok I didn’t do a toile…anyway the thing is you are going to have to shoot me cause I can’t raise my arms, literally if my life depended on it! 🙂

  3. What a disaster … but I know that myself 😦 On one of my recent projects I have made ​​the mistake not to choose the right fabric and it is unwearable. I hope the skirt will be wonderfull when you have finished it 🙂

  4. Oh, so sorry for you. This is a great color and, like everyone else already said, its looks so good on. But I wouldn’t wear it either if I couldn’t move in it. A skirt and a clutch sounds like a marvelous save. When you can face it.
    Thanks so much for sharing your not so successful makes.

  5. It’s such a pity after so much work that you don’t like it. I had a similar issue with a very low armhole on my latest burda dress. I’m chopping off the sleeves and making it sleeveless instead and hoping it’ll end up wearable!

  6. I *know* we can all relate! I like finishing up even when I’m not sure how it will turn out… it’s so hard for me to toss projects! Those ruched fronts are always hard to deal with (I have to SBA but never really know how much until I just make one). And Burda armscyes are quite high, which translates to low if you aren’t using shoulder pads! In some styles this creates too much bulk under the arms for my taste. I have been raising the armscye, but that also means fixing the sleeve too… I hope your next project is a success!

  7. I love posts like this, because you’re right – we see a lot of posts of garments that are pretty and perfect, but not a lot that deal with struggles, which I’m sure we all have, and I suspect we all think we’re the only ones dealing with, because of all those pretty, perfect posts LOL. I’m with you that nothing ever gets made for me without a lot of fitting hassles, and that’s why I love your blog because I know you’re in the same boat (particularly with the perpetual FBA) – you are so skilled and I know how much work goes into making your garments ‘pretty and perfect’. Please keep sharing, and good luck with this one! 🙂

  8. I’m suspicious of this pattern, I looked at it in the Burda magazine, but I think their styling of the shots covered up inherent flaws in the pattern. (I think that about quite a lot of Burda actually). My personal opinion of the bodice is that it’s a lost cause and that your wonderful fabric and impeccable sewing skills would be better directed at either a skirt or a completely different bodice, assuming you have sufficient fabric. Thanks so much for blogging this….. if you can’t get it work, no one can!

  9. I downloaded this pattern, taped it up, retraced it and stopped. The bustline darts are what attracted me to the pattern, but when I went to pick a fabric, a ponte, and wondered how to make the darts work attractively on my bustline, I couldn’t “see” it working. I’m sorry you’re version isn’t working but thank you for confirming my fears. Hopefully you’ll be able to salvage this, even if it’s just a skirt because the fabric is beautiful!

  10. All that work! The thinking and figuring out and doing… what a shame. If you’re still up for some more work on the dress, what about ripping out the gathers and turning them into a sunburst of darts instead? A flat front, and you get to keep your dress instead of a skirt. I hardly ever sew Burda and you’ve reminded my why.

  11. I can see why you “had to” work with that wool crepe, it is gorgeous. The color and the hand, yum! And thanks for sharing your honest results and all the struggle to make it work. It gives me hope 🙂 oh, it just occurred to me that if instead of the skirt you want to salvage the dress you could look for a stretch wool or a knit in a contrast fabric and make the bodice and sleeves with that. Good luck!

  12. I’m reminded of Billy Crystal doing Fernando Lamas… “It’s better to look good than to feel good, and darling, you look marvelous” ! Who needs to move an arm, eh? Seriously, though, I feel your pain. Thank you for sharing your less than triumph.

  13. I love the potential in your dress (especially that bodice!), but I understand your pain. I have an as-yet-unblogged mess of Vogue 8945 that I’ve tweaked and tweaked and I’m still not happy with it. And it’s a Very Easy Pattern…..

    1. I think sometimes the “very easy” patterns are the hardest to fit because they are such simple shapes, and in order to get as much fit and shape that we like, the basic design needs so much tweaking. Good luck!

  14. I like it when bloggers share their failures. When everything is too perfect all the time, it just isn’t reality. Your fabric is beautiful and it will make a gorgeous skirt. 🙂

  15. Oh so frustrating when it doesn’t work out. Yes, make a skirt from it – it would be lovely. There’s nothing like the drape of wool crepe.

  16. Oh Wow! Finally another version of this dress is made. I love how it looked on you it’s unfortunate that it didn’t turn out as you liked. The color and fabric looks great on you.

  17. Such a pity! I so love the idea of this dress, but if you can’t move then that hardly makes sense. Shame – it’s on my “to make once I dare list” but looking at your experience I think it will stay there rather than making it into the sewing room.

    1. Well, I wouldn’t judge this pattern by my experience because I didn’t use a knit/jersey, and I know I would not have had the fitting issues if I’d not used wool crepe.

  18. I made that pattern out of a fantastic wool knit with perfect stretch! It still looks like h***l!!! I finally cut the top off, made a skirt out of the bottom and made a different top out of the remnants. Worst garment I’ve made in years! Understand your frustration, but don’t blame your fabric choice, the pattern is not good.

    1. Nancy, thank you SO much for your comment! I’m glad to know that it wasn’t so great in the recommended fabric, considering it looked so nice in the Burda magazines.

  19. Ha ha, yes, on some things I’ve ripped more than twice the seams I’ve sewn, and you can’t always resew infinite times:) Some things can never be saved, I’ve given away loads of stuff that never worked for me. That said, the fabric is lovely! Love the color and love wool in general. It looks a bit big on you, which may be because the sleeve holes are to big, but my first impulse on seeing it was “what a nice dress!” Quite often we’re much more critical to ourselves than to others. Of course, if you can’t move your arms it’s not that practical:)

  20. Thank you so much for your honest blog post, as it helps less experienced sewers see the process of creation in action. I love the color, the fit of the back, and the idea of the pleated bodice. Removing some of the pleats might help, but if I were driving, I’d make a skirt and clutch.

    1. I’m leaning in the skirt direction, but there’s something in me that just refuses to cry ‘Nuff! I want to beat this thing.

  21. the collar is actually very nice, but yes, I think give it up as a bad job and make a nice skirt – the fabric does look nice adn that colour is lovely on you, I like the lining too. Could you perhaps make a clutch or a bag to match the skirt, and use the pleats in the bag?

  22. Shame about the sleeve problem. But nothing ventured nothing gained innit!

    The dress doesn’t look bad at all, but you got to love it yourself. I wonder if a armpit gusset would have been another option. Never tried it myself, but KK’s Basic Sleeve CD book mentions it being need when you want “a really clean line, along with mobility…usually the case in bridal gowns”.

    Would the top part work as sleeveless? Or maybe experiment with a coordinating fabric to replace the bits that aren’t working for you? Then again, sometimes it’s less stressful to simply move on to another more satisfying project! 🙂

    1. I did think about a gusset and went looking for that KK article initially, but I didn’t try it. *d’oh* I really HATE having a project – with fitting issues particularly – beat me, so I may dismantle the bodice and get rid of some of the pleats, because I really don’t like them so much, and I really like the fabric!

  23. Oh, I can so identify with this. I tried a Michael Kors pattern two years ago that still haunts me. I loved the pattern and loved the fabric, but the combination created a strange fit.

  24. I like this fabric and colour. It is pity it doesn’t want to work. I admire your dedication.
    I had the same with other Burda dress. No more Burda for me.
    It could be that the cup of your sleeves is a little too short thus the wrinkles.
    But I am not so sure you would like to make any more adjustments….
    Just pick up another project.

  25. Feeling your pain, I’m having similar issues here with my Rucci dress! UGH, why didn’t I make a muslin??? I’ve set it aside for now.

    1. Oh… I’ve got that dress in my queue, and even though I really despise the work and time involved in making a muslin, I’m hoping I’m smart enough to at least muslin the bodice….. Good luck!!


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