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!

 

Sewing Contests – Updated 2/18/2013

I’ve never entered any sewing contests before but I hope to enter my first one this year – the BurdaStyle Vintage Modern Sewing Contest. It’ll help me keep to my sewing resolution – to make, not buy clothes this year.

I decided that if I’m going to make something for a contest, it needed to meet the following criteria: 1. I would be making something I would wear; 2. the garment would use fabric from my stash; and 3.  I would gain more sewing skills.

To help me decide, I flipped through the book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern, looking at the designs and the recommended fabrics. I wanted something that would be relatively easy to make, allow for some creativity, and use my stash. (When the contest was first announced last month, the deadline was in early February so I needed to make sure I’d have enough time to make something. The deadline is now February 15 – yay more time!)

Clockwise from top left: cotton voile, cotton sateen, wool crepe, denim
Clockwise from top left: a pretty cotton voile, cotton sateen, “plaid” wool crepe, denim (really a dark denim, not grey)

I saw that some dresses used silk charmeuse so I crossed those off my list (only silk I have on hand is velvet or sheer, no charmeuse). But there were a few garments that would use some of my stash: a top (cotton voile), a 1950s dress (cotton sateen), 1960s dress (wool crepe), and a cool pair of bell-bottom pants (cotton denim).

At first I thought I would tackle the pretty top, which has a really nice lace detail. But it does require some pattern making. You use the bodice from a dress pattern in the book and then make several adjustments, following the step-by-step instructions, to make the pattern. (To read more about the book, check out my interview with its author Jamie Lau.)

I did start drafting it but then I decided I didn’t have enough time to complete that pattern, make a muslin to check the fit, etc. I don’t have any experience with pattern drafting – the most I’ve done with a pattern is take a vintage pattern and grade it up a size.

So decided to switch to the Jamie Shift Dress – a 1960s style dress with simple lines. I went to Loehmann’s and tried on a couple sleeveless shift dresses to see if that style would suit my figure. (The store is a block from my office and they have plenty of designer duds.) Most of them looked OK but the necklines on some of them didn’t look so great because of my broad shoulders. But I thought I could make it work.

I traced the pattern for the Jamie Shift Dress a couple weeks ago. Before I cut the muslin, I adjusted the waist a size smaller, which is what I usually need to do with patterns. (Depending on my mood, I view that as: A. my waist is too small for my hips or B. my hips are too big for my waist – at least according to so-called standard sizes.)

I have this very nice wool crepe with a black-and-white plaid pattern on it (see photo above). And I got very excited about making the dress half plaid and half solid black. I also decided that I would line it instead of using a facing. I would just use the pattern from the dress to make the lining.

Though I already have some black wool crepe it seemed like it was of a lesser weight than the plaid so I splurged and went to Britex Fabrics and bought a remnant of solid black imported from Italy (with imported prices too!).

MuslinLast weekend I put together a muslin – complete with invisible zipper and lining. However when I tried my muslin on, I was kinda swimming in it and it dawned on me that it’s really a style more suited to a thin person with no hips (uh, so not me). Some of the dresses I tried on at Loehmann’s had darts in them, which I should have remembered. (sigh) this dress only has bust darts, no curves.

Nevertheless, I really like the idea of color blocking so I want to make it work. I’m in the midst of adjusting the pattern to make it curve more to my body instead of being so straight up and down.

I also used some of the black wool crepe (not the expensive Italian remnant from Britex) in my stash to make a second muslin with an adjusted neckline – more of a boatneck showing all of my collarbone. I also wanted to practice sewing the invisible zipper and see what problems I could have with lining it. I’ve only lined vests and a jacket. I tried bemberg lining and no facing to see how that would work.

The problem is that I can’t understitch all the way around the neckline and because wool crepe has such a drape to it, you can tell where the understitching ends. I’ve been contemplating using a facing and lining, using a lining that’s closer in weight to the crepe, or using the facing pattern to cut out some interfacing and attach that to the lining.

On Twitter, @bydaiyami of Sisters Are Making It For Themselves told me “Facing+lining probably the official way. Lining has to drape similarly, but no need for same weight, IMO.” @Tantisis  of Tanit-Isis Sews agreed and added “Although I far prefer sewing a heavier lining. Facing will keep the lining from showing at the arms, too.”

@bydaiyami also suggested that I check out a Threads article on quick lining, which you can find here. After reading that article I think I’ll go with facing and lining – just sew the facing on the lining.

Now I need to draft a pattern that curves more and has back and front darts.

Napkin sketchI made these sketches on a napkin at dinner last night – trying to keep the ’60s flavor but make it curve more.  If it doesn’t work out, my backup plan is to make the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress, which is more suited to my body.

Have you ever entered any sewing contests? What was that experience like? Did you like it? Love it Hate it?

UPDATE 2/18/2013 — I decided I didn’t have enough time to make modifications to the Jamie Shift Dress in order to finish a garment by my deadline of February 9. I gave myself that deadline because I found a photographer willing to photograph me in exchange for a garment I would make for her. I did make the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress, which worked out really well. I made a few modification, which you can read about in my contest entry here.