BurdaStyle 10/2012 #128: The Chocolate Mint Dress

It feels like a really long time since I’ve made something for myself (it hasn’t been that long, but with my sewing time split between making things for myself and other members of my family, it sometimes seems long). When I was a teenager, and into my early 20’s, I had an almost entirely made-by-me wardrobe, the things I didn’t make were most likely thrifted or hand-me-down (somewhere in between gifted and thrifted). The things I didn’t make were the usual socks and underthings. My closet was stuffed.
With entering the working world and gaining money to buy all the things I formerly couldn’t, I’d gotten so far away from where I was when I made all of my own clothes, that I’d almost forgotten how much better things fit when one makes them oneself, and how much fun it is to throw trends to the side and make something that just feels right to wear. 
Granted, I’m a long way from my teenage days of opening up a new pattern and going right to laying it out on the fabric. Alterations were mostly an academic exercise then. Now I’m learning a lot about alterations and tweaks to improve fit. Even with my newbie FBA skills though, I’m loving being able to wear non-stretch fabrics on my upper half and not having to always wear layers over sleeveless dresses because the manufacturers didn’t account for a DD-cup and thick upper arms on any options with sleeves.

Enter BurdaStyle Magazine. I might as well confess, long-time seamstress though I am, I also grew up in the US where chain fabric stores abound, full of quilting fabrics, $2/yard costume satin and $50/yard silks (if you can find them). The prevailing philosophy often seems to be that if something is easily available, it has more legitimacy than something that would be harder to procure. While this is sometimes true, it isn’t always the case. Patterns are available in those stores showcased in shiny, thick, hardbound, full-color catalogues, easily available, and sometimes for less than $1 each. Honestly, up until the last year or so, I knew that Burda put out paper patterns that were available along with the other major US pattern companies (though rarely at as low a cost), but never knew they had a magazine full of patterns published as a monthly edition.

Another confession, my teenage self might have loved free downloaded patterns (if the internet had been fast enough then to make that a good option), but otherwise would probably have scorned the idea of tracing off a pattern from a newsprint full of intersecting lines or printing and taping multiple sheets of paper and still having to add seam allowances. Being as I seem to no longer have the body shape to match most pattern companies drafted measurement, I now do a lot of tracing, cutting, and taping before I get to do any sewing, no matter where the pattern is from. Tracing from the BurdaStyle magazine doesn’t seem like such a chore now, maybe a little extra effort because of needing to find the pieces I need to trace, but I rather like puzzles, so overall not so bad.

Here you see my first creation from a BurdaStyle Magazine. Specifically this is #128 from the October 2012 issue. My fabric choice is possibly as far from the magazine pictures as could be. The original was in a shiny metallic organza, very dreamy and feminine. I would love a copy of the one pictured in the magazine, but I’m not sure how often I’d get the opportunity to wear something so dressy. For my version, I chose a chocolate brown acrylic suiting fabric with a bit of a boucle texture. Most of the plaid stripes are white, but the center of every other cluster of stripes has a very pale mint green strand running through it. It’s incredibly subtle, but it makes me happy in a chocolate-minty kind of way. 
When I originally bought the fabric, my first thought was to use it for some sort of two piece suit, preferably with a long a-line skirt. After handling it at home though, I realized it didn’t want to be tailored. Acrylic never does meld into place like wool suiting does. I figured both I and the fabric would just end up frustrated and sad. As a dress, however, it really works. It’s nice and warm. It drapes well enough to make me happy. It has a nice, non-itchy, texture. 

I forget that my current photographer is so much shorter than I am, so all my pictures seem to have me looking down (regally?). She managed to capture my head and to include the bottom of the dress in many shots, but missed my feet entirely, so you don’t get to see the cute brown heels I was wearing. I know the magazine had it in a spread of mid-century inspired looks, but to me, it looks an awful lot like some of the silhouettes I was sewing for myself in the 1990’s.  
I love the nipped in waist on this dress. The bodice lining is fitted, but the outer bust area is pleated instead of darted, so it really isn’t that fitted. There’s too little fabric for a blouson-effect, so I’m not entirely sure how to describe it. The skirt is a long a-line with a fraction of a circle shape, so the bottom edge is quite full.The plaid hangs straight on the center front and back, but by the time it reaches the sides it is definitely on the bias, so it needed to hang out for a few days before hemming. Overall, I’d say I really enjoyed working with the Burda Magazine pattern. It seemed quite nicely drafted, and the style is just a little bit different than anything else that’s currently available. 

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