Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Finished Project: BurdaStyle Plus - "Vintage Chic" shirtdress

If you follow the Curvy Sewing Collective, you might remember that I recently posted a review there of the new BurdaStyle compilation book of plus sized patterns:

Book Review: BurdaStyle Modern Sewing - Full-Figure Fashion

I don't want to rehash that review here on my personal blog, but I do want to go into more detail about the nice shirtdress that I made from the book.
BurdaStyle Plus - "Vintage Chic" shirtdress
This pattern has been around for a while in various formats, first appearing in an issue of BurdaStyle magazine back in 2013.

Dress pattern from the BurdaStyle Plus book

Here's where you can find the pattern with the differences noted for each permutation:
  • BurdaStyle magazine (print): August 2013 issue (Trace from the pattern sheet, and add seam allowances. Includes a separate blouse view.)
  • BurdaStyle download (Print and tape the PDF, then add seam allowances.)
  • BurdaStyle envelope pattern B6896 (Standard envelope pattern with comprehensive instructions and seam allowances already added. Includes separate blouse view.)
  • BurdaStyle Plus compilation magazine for Fall/Winter 2015, according to this preview. (Trace from pattern sheet, add seam allowances. Includes several new views for this pattern that have not been previously released.)
I chose to make up this pattern for my book review for a number of reasons:
  • I really liked the collar/neckline, which reminded me of the Colette Hawthorn, and I also felt that the Burda's multi-dart arrangement would be more large-bust-friendly than dealing with adding darts to the Hawthorn. I also preferred the larger-scale Burda collar. (I do however like the semi-circle skirt of the Hawthorn better than the Burda--I see a frankenpattern of these two shirtdresses in my future.)
  • I love, love, love my Marigold shirtdress and wear it nearly every wash cycle. I liked the idea of another throw-on-and-go woven dress. (Note that if the Burda book hadn't fallen into my lap, I probably would have just made up another Marigold.)
  • It was my favorite design out of the BurdaStyle Plus book, with the tunic that Tanya had made up running a close second.

Fabric and Notions Used


I used the following fabric and notions for this version of this pattern:
  • Homebody Tacks by Cotton + Steel. Purchased on sale from Craftsy. This is basically a higher quality quilting cotton--not something that I'd typically use to make a garment with, but it was on sale, I liked the print, and I think it worked fine for this shirtdress. Note that this fabric is only 44" wide. Post-FBA, my skirt piece did not fit on the fabric on the fold, so I lost some fullness from the front pleats to compensate.
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing (on collar and self-faced button opening) from Fashion Sewing Supply.
  • Buttons purchased from my local JoAnns.

Pattern Drafting, Sizing, and Alterations


This pattern is available in Burda’s standard Plus range: sizes 44-52, which equates to 39 1/2″ (100cm) bust and 41 3/4″ (106cm) hip through a 48″ (122cm) bust and 50 1/2″ (128cm) hip.

I started with a size 50, which was the appropriate size to use for my high bust with Burda Plus' D-cup bodice draft. From there, I made a 2.25" FBA, splitting and rotating the dart into the existing shoulder and waist darts.  I did end up doing quite a bit of pin-fitting and stitching, ripping out, and re-stitching the darts to get them positioned in a way that I liked.

Note that the skirt on this dress runs long. I ended up shortening the skirt by 4" from the original pattern piece. While I'm only 5'2" tall, I typically shorten skirts/pants by 2"-3", depending on the pattern.

Because my fabric wasn't wide enough for my post-FBA'ed front skirt piece, I had to take out some of the depth of the front pleats. You can barely even see the pleats in my photos. For future versions, I'll stick with making this dress out of wider fabric or will need to purchase extra fabric and add a CF seam.

I also made the following "design" changes:
  • Omitted the self-fabric belt
  • Omitted the self-fabric tie 
  • Shortened the full-length sleeves to short sleeves--this is partially because I ran out of fabric and partially because I was afraid that long sleeves on this style of dress would look frumpy.
Note that my "running out of fabric" issue is because I started off with less fabric than the pattern recommended. If you had the right length and width of fabric as recommended by the pattern, I think you'd be fine squeezing everything in; however, there isn't much wiggle room in the layout, etc.

Back view, or wow, I really need to get back to the chiropractor

Pattern Instructions


The pattern instructions in the book were a bit of a disappointment, considering that this pattern has been out in "envelope pattern form" for a while already. The book-version of the instructions was more comprehensive than your typical Burda magazine or download pattern instructions, but lacked illustrations in a number of places where they could have been helpful to a less experienced seamstress.

For example, the buttons and buttonholes are applied to a self-faced opening. The instructions and accompanying diagram would lead you to believe that you fold over the self facing twice to the wrong side of the bodice, which will leave you with an unfinished seam allowance at the top. Instead, you’d want to turn the last fold to the right side of the bodice so that you can get a nicely finished seam allowance when you fold the facing back right-side-out. I found few other oddities, too–mostly to do with the order of construction jumping around a lot, so I just used my own order of construction.


Final Thoughts

I'm pretty happy with the final dress, although I suspect that I'll continue to make some fitting tweaks. I've only had a chance to wear it once in the few days that it's been since I've completed it, so I'll decide what additional fitting tweaks I need with a few more wears.

Overall,  I feel like this is a nice shirtdress pattern for plus sized women, and if it interests you, Burda certainly has provided plenty of different ways to acquire it, whether your preference is tracing from a book or magazine, downloading a PDF, or using an envelope pattern.


  1. I think that turquoise/aqua? is a very nice color on you. I really like the color and the buttons on the front, too. As I am reading this, I'm realizing I have very few woven dresses (or even tops). I need to work on that.

    1. I meant I really like the "collar" ;)

    2. Thanks! It's sort of a seafoam green. I do like the color (and collar) a lot!

  2. What a great color for you! I like the dress and can picture it with one of those new Muse cardigans when it gets colder.And thanks for doing such a great and thorough reviews for both the dress and the book. Your reviews are so helpful. And yes, I can really see the Hawthorne circle skirt looking great with this bodice.

    Burda releases a number of plus shirtdresses with partial button plackets, no? I recall seeing some ages ago in a couple consecutive Burda Plus mags and in every spring Dress special while I subscribed. They are usually really nice, but I wonder while only a partial button down style so commonly?

    1. Thanks! And that is exactly my plan (re: cardigans)--I've got lengths of ponte in each of the secondary colors in this dress with the plan of making up cardigans to extend the wear of the dress.

      I hadn't noticed the partial placket thing with Burda. I wonder if it has to do with "spread" at the waistline when sitting. (I know that I have that issue.) It's easier to avoid if the buttons end just above where the "spread" starts.

  3. That's a beautiful dress! I've been eyeing the Marigold since you made it, as it's exactly the kind of dress that I want and I think there's space for the necessary F-cup FBA in there. If you had to pick ONE of these two, which would you pick and why? Because I'm leaning towards the Marigold, but I love this collar... and so I want you to aid me in my indecision, if you'd be so kind! :)

    1. That's a tough one. I feel like the Marigold design lends itself a bit more gracefully to a large FBA, and I like the pockets better on the Marigold. (The Burda just has in-seam pockets in the side seams.) I also like the blouse views of the Marigold better than the Burda, if you were going to try to get more mileage out of the pattern. On the other hand, the Burda's sleeve/armscye is drafted better, and the Burda has that great collar. You could always morph the collar of the Burda onto the Marigold (and you'd get something close to the Sewaholic Nicola). That Burda is available in a number of places if you were looking to get a lot of bang for your buck in exchange for shelling out for both patterns.

    2. What a thoughtful and detailed response - thank you very much! I think I'm likely to download the Marigold and possibly get the burda as a paper pattern at some point. (I want the good instructions!). I'm TRYING not to buy many more patterns but I really do want a decent shirtdress pattern, as I think it's one I'll wear a lot to teach in. Food for thought!

  4. Gorgeous dress. Great color on you. (one of my favorite colors)

  5. Has a really vintage vibe to it. Love how easy to wear shirt dresses are. Enjoy wearing it.