Making a Dress from the Book: BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern

Construction Details A

Clockwise from top left: Muslin of bodice, pinning darts in fashion fabric and lining, pinning fashion fabric and lining at neckline, attaching neck and armhole facings to lining

In December I bought the book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern at a sewing event at Britex Fabrics and I had also interviewed the author, Jamie Lau. Naturally, I had to make something from the book! And when BurdaStyle announced a sewing contest using a pattern from the book, I had some incentive to get going. But first I had to think about what to make and wrote here about my initial criteria and what I was considering. After I looked over the fabric in my stash, I knew that making a dress from the book would be my best option.

At first I thought I would use the pattern for the Jamie Shift Dress because I had some great wool crepe that I could color block. But it would have taken me a lot more time (and muslins!) to adjust the pattern so it would be more flattering to my curvy figure.

So I finally decided to use the master pattern for the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress. It’s from the chapter that features fashions from the 1950s, an era when dresses had full skirts and women wore crinolines.

Audrey Hepburn in the 1957 film Funny Face

This pattern has a square neckline but I decided to give it more of a boat neck, which is a style I really like. That neckline always makes me think of Audrey Hepburn and the dress she wore in the 1957 film Funny Face, which also stars Fred Astaire who plays a fashion photographer.

To change the neckline of the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress, I traced the neckline of the Jamie Shift Dress but made it wider at the shoulders.

I made one muslin of the bodice but once I tried it on I realized I made it too wide. It didn’t look right and my bra straps showed. So I traced out another pattern but only made it about an inch wider than the Jamie neckline — much better!

My other adjustment to the bodice was that I decided to line it. The pattern uses facings. So using my muslin, I cut out the bodice twice – once from my fashion fabric, which I got from Discount Fabrics in San Francisco, and a second time from my lining fabric (a lovely Bemberg rayon lining from Britex).

I pinned and sewed the front and back darts on all the pieces and then I pinned the neck and armhole facings to my lining front and back. My fashion fabric has a soft hand and I wanted it to give it a little more stiffness around the sleeves. I used a very lightweight interfacing on the facings.

Next I attached front and back at the shoulders of the lining version and the fashion fabric. To put the two pieces together, I followed the clear instructions in the tutorial “How to Line a Sleeveless Dress,” which I found on the blog Blithe Stitches. Though my dress wasn’t exactly sleeveless and it also had a side zipper, the directions still worked for me.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing more about how I finished lining the bodice, dealing with the side invisible zipper, and additional construction details.

In the meantime, you can see more photos of the dress on my BurdaStyle project page and you can vote for my dress here. My  dress is one of 20 finalists in the contest! So please check out the contest entries and if you’re a member you can cast your vote. It’s free to join!


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Chuleenan Svetvilas is a writer who sews and collects hats and shoes. She is a fabric addict and loves classic films and vintage clothes.

60 Responses to “Making a Dress from the Book: BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern”

  1. February 24, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Hi Chuleenan! You are in the Museum! I would love to use one of the photos from your BurdaStyle account as a featured image but ,of course, need your permission. May i?


    • February 24, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

      Great! Certainly! Just credit any photos of me wearing the dress to Susie Biehler. :)

      • November 24, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

        Hey there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new ipnohe! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the superb work!

      • November 25, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

        It’s really great that people are sharing this information.

      • November 25, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

        Superbly illuminating data here, thanks!

      • November 25, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

        This posting knocked my socks off

      • November 25, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

        The ability to think like that shows you’re an expert

      • November 25, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

        All things considered, this is a first class post

      • November 25, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

        Superb information here, ol’e chap; keep burning the midnight oil.

      • November 25, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

        I was seriously at DefCon 5 until I saw this post.

      • November 25, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

        I read your posting and was jealous

      • November 26, 2014 at 12:06 am #

        Finding this post. It’s just a big piece of luck for me.

      • November 26, 2014 at 12:13 am #

        That’s cleared my thoughts. Thanks for contributing.

      • November 26, 2014 at 12:51 am #

        Grazi for making it nice and EZ.

      • November 26, 2014 at 2:05 am #

        I didn’t know where to find this info then kaboom it was here.

      • November 26, 2014 at 2:21 am #

        It’s imperative that more people make this exact point.

      • November 26, 2014 at 3:19 am #

        That’s going to make things a lot easier from here on out.

      • November 26, 2014 at 3:49 am #

        I’m grateful you made the post. It’s cleared the air for me.

      • November 26, 2014 at 6:35 am #

        I was struck by the honesty of your posting

      • November 26, 2014 at 8:10 am #

        The ability to think like that is always a joy to behold

    • November 23, 2014 at 7:23 am #

      When I start with a commercial pattren I usually end up cutting out way too big (I’m just too cautious) then I end up slicing off here, then there, then there to craft and tailor to perfection (like icing a cake or shaping a flower bed), and gradully I start changing the shape of it altogether into a completely different dress. Then I wonder why I bothered with a pattren. Maybe that’s just me.Commercial pattrens often frustrate me because they are rarely designed for small boned petites. If people like me follow them without, for example,reducing volume of great hunky scapula, the dress would look like it buried me, whereas it could look divine if it fitted. I’m sure every body has its quirks. I think its important not to lose confidence in the design itself (these styles don’t suit me kind of feeling) but simply to remember that its all in the fit which requires an ability to adapt pattrens then it can look fabulous. Tracing pattrens make me dizzy.

  2. February 20, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    I could almost tell right away that you were using a Bemberg. I have one on my table as we speak- does this saying ever work online? lol

    I just watched Funny Face for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I love Fred Astaire.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: