Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dress review

Here's a review of the Burda dress. I have more to write about the wedding, Atlanta, and what we did last Saturday, but first things first.

Pattern Description:
Knit, sleeveless v-neck dress with gathered, belted overlay.

Pattern Sizing:

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, but I made a few changes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes and no. I got a bit confused and ended up sewing seams too early ( I consulted my favorite resource Vogue/Butterick Step-by-Step Guide to Sewing Techniques when I needed help sewing the facings.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?The gathered belt across my stomach was what drew me to the pattern. I also chose it because of the many favorable reviews of it here on PR. It looked to be an easy and quick dress, that was also flattering and I think that turned out to be true on all counts. This is a great pattern!

Fabric Used:
An ITY (I think) knit obtained through a fabric swap at a BABES meeting (Bay Area Bash Expressly for Sewists - we all met through PR). The fabric came from Georgene.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
The one obvious change I made was to add a black edge to the neckline. I cut a one inch strip of black jersey, folded it in half, and sewed it in the seam like you would piping. I used 1/4 seam allowances as I usually do with knits, so this left about 1/4 inch or less of the black showing. This did add bulk to the seam, so I graded the seam allowances.

I omitted the back zipper like everyone else did and also raised the neckline one inch, lowered the hem two inches and graded up a size from the waist down. Before sewing the side seams on the serger, I basted them and tried the dress on first. I ended up taking in the upper waist quite a bit so that the overlay wouldn't sag.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I would except that there are so many other dress styles I want to make, so I probably won't.

Lessons Learned:
1. When time is tight, go with what I know. I needed a dress for a wedding but time was running out. I decided against using a Butterick or New Look pattern in favor of Burda WOF. Although I hadn't made this particular dress, I've made many Burda WOF knit tops with success, so I knew I could make it with my usual alterations and not have to make a muslin first. However by adding the piping, I made the construction with the facings a bit more difficult and that cost me a lot of time.

2. I can (and should) be a designer and add my own touch. I liked the fabric but when I draped it on the dressform to approximate how the dress would look, I felt it needed something more. I decided that a thin piping of black along the neckline edge would really pop and draw attention up to my face as well as coordinate with the black buckle.

3. Small swatches may not be enough and "expensive" isn't always better. I could not find a buckle at Joann's or Hancock Fabrics (surprise, surprise) and it was too late to order one from the internet, so I drove up to San Francisco (over an hour a way) to Britex. I had a small swatch with me and one of the buckles they had looked like it would work pretty well. It was green on one side and black on the other. The green was a little shimmery and also looked a little light for the fabric but I thought if it didn't work, I could use the black backside. The buckle was fairly thick and round, but it had a 2-inch bar, as called for in the pattern. It was also $13. They also had a thinner, black plastic buckle with a 1.5 inch bar. I bought that one too just in case and because it was only $3. Guess which one I used? It turned out that the big green/black buckle was too heavy and the green was not right once viewed with the whole dress. The small one was perfect.

4. If there's a technique I'm not familiar with or well-practiced on, I should find some better instructions and read them. Thoroughly. As we all know, Burda WOF is not known for detailed instructions so I consulted another source to help me through the facing, but it was after I'd sewn the center back seam. At least removing serger stitching is not impossible, it's just time consuming.

5. Thank goodness for Spanx and Flexees. Enough said. :-)

6. I'm probably the only one with a camera bag that matches her dress. After I set up the serger I tried it out on a scrap of the dress fabric and unintentionally ended up with a little pouch. It was the perfect size for my camera, which didn't come with a case, so I figured I'd use the pouch to protect the camera when it's in my purse. I wonder if anyone noticed and wondered "how'd she get a camera bag to match?"

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