Category Archives: Burda

Carmenklänning

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Hej hej! Can you believe summer is almost over?  My fiance and I enjoyed a quiet weekend which included dinner out at a local German bar (after he patiently accompanied me to the fabric store for the first time) and lots of sewing. I wanted to get another summer dress finished before the end of the season, and I knew I could finish this one before fall weather takes over, so I spent a leisurely weekend sewing a summer dress. I’ve got to make hay while the sun shines–literally! In a few months it will be dark for most of the day.

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I followed the instructions in Swedish Burda magazine 07/2014 for the tiered dress they charmingly called a “Carmenklänning–” a Carmen dress (for its Carmen Miranda ruffles). I wasn’t sure how I’d like it, but I think it’s surprisingly cute.

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As the magazine promised, this was really easy to sew! I finished it at a leisurely pace over weekend. The pattern fit accurately. The only trouble I had was with the ruffle in the off the shoulder part.IMG_1439

The instructions told me to only gather the ruffle piece between the straps in the front and the back, but not gathering the sides meant I had to take out about 4 inches of extra fabric from the sleeve area on each side.  Before I did this, the neckline was drooping in the front and the off-the-shoulder sleeves looked really weird. Luckily, this was easy to fix by just taking it in about 4 inches on each side. Next time, I think it would be best to gather the whole thing or just make the ruffle piece shorter.

This was the first time I’ve ever made my own bias binding. I was surprised how easy it was to do and how little material I needed, which was great because I only had a little over 1.5 meters of fabric. I don’t have a bias tape maker so I used the sewing pin method described here on Creative Little Daisy’s Blog.  It’s such a clever DIY idea! Of course it took a little more time than having the proper tool would, but it got the job done. I used bias binding for finishing the armholes and neckline around the ruffle, and for the straps..

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Closeup of neckline, and a happy doggy!

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It was also the first time I made a dress with an elastic waist.  Why haven’t I done this before?  It’s so much easier than a zip!  Another great thing is this will still fit as I get in shape for our wedding in two months.  Nothing is more frustrating than sewing something up and it not fitting by the time you’re done–especially when you forget to add the seam allowances like I did.  The pattern only goes up to a 44, so I graded this pattern up to a Burda size 46 the easy way (using the tutorial here on BurdaStyle’s website), and ended up with something closer to a size 44 in the end, so that was pretty silly of me.  At least I had the elastic waistband to save me.  Next time I’ll remember my seam allowances!

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Hopefully I will get at least a few weeks wear out of this dress before the fall weather sets in.  If not, I can always wear it when we visit California, where the sun is always shining!.

What are you sewing right now? Are you trying to make any more summer items before the warm weather ends?

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Stop–HAMMER TIME!

My fiance pointed out a strange trend that has cropped up this summer in Stockholm. They’re called mönstrade byxor (which literally translates topatterned pants’), and I see girls wearing them everywhere.

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image via chic.se

They are made of a soft viscose material, come in fun patterns and prints, and appear to be very comfortable, but there is just one problem–they seem to make everyone except the supermodel-esque ladies look like they have a very big bum, and not always in a flattering way!

An example of the trendy pants, from H&M

An example of the trendy pants, from H&M

It seems like every few summers, the fashion designers get together and decide that it’s time to channel MC Hammer and Aladdin again, as they did a few summers ago with the harem pants trend. I thought this just might be a passing fad in Stockholm, but Burda seems to have received the memo that it’s hammer time:

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Burda Plus, 06/2014 #136

It seems that only 4 brave souls have dared to download the pattern, and I see no finished projects.  To Burda’s credit, they used a stiffer fabric than the viscose I’ve see everywhere in this style, which helps the shape, but I wonder how those pleats would do on a plus size girl with a tummy.  My guess is not so well, but I would love to see someone prove me wrong. Burda also came out with a pattern in 2011 which looks exactly like the pants that are trendy this summer:

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Burda 07/2011 #102A, also see #102B

However, the Burda 102 pants have one game-changing detail in the pattern–NO PLEATS.  I looked through some of the member projects and saw plenty of cute versions, albeit on girls with very slim figures. Burda member Mokosha put together a very striking version of the Burda 102 pants, and she has a few other versions of the same pattern on her blog.

image via Mokosha

image via Mokosha

They’re satin, and don’t they look lovely on her? Seeing how she styled these is almost enough to make me consider the trend, or at least the Burda pattern. The promise of comfort in the hot summer which this style appears to offer is mighty tempting, but I have no delusions of being able to pull a pair of these babies off without having Sir Mix-a-lot come a-calling. But that’s just me. How about you, are you interested in trying out this trend? Do you think you could pull it off?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

“The Battlefield Dress” Burda 07/2011

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Burda 07/2011 Off the Shoulder Dress (Plus Size) worn with fur stole, a gift from my godmother

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This gives you a good idea of the color of the dress, which turned out much darker in my other photos. Sorry, I think my photography assistant/ sweetheart is on strike because I am too bossy!

In Kunsträgården after the party--it started snowing!

In Kunsträgården after the party–it started snowing!

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The Berns Hotel Grand Salon

Last week, my fiance’s company hosted a party at the Berns Hotel in the beautiful grand salon.  The event called for “smart casual” attire, which is open to wide interpretation.  A few Google image searches of the dress code yielded a look that is more office casual than party chic, but I have so few opportunities to dress up in Sweden (even office attire here is more ‘casual Friday’ than business professional), so I decided to finish my Burda Off the Shoulder Dress.  I am opting to call it The Battlefield Dress, because completing this dress was a like a battlefield with all the fit and construction issues I encountered.

With just a few hours to go before the party, I put Breakfast at Tiffany’s on in the background and got to work. I have had this dress hanging on my mannequin and sitting on my sewing table since November. Trying to figure out which way the collar piece sandwiched into the shell and lining fabric was tricky, and the instructions may as well have been written in German.  I was daunted by them, so I called in reinforcements. With a little help from my friend Helen of Button and Snap, I was able to figure out what the heck was supposed to happen with the collar piece, and she also gave me a little moral support when she confirmed that those Burda instructions were indeed confusing.  Thanks Helen, you gave me the push I needed to dive in and get over my fear of the collar.  🙂 WIN_20140225_160424

When I finally completed my first kick pleat and lapped zipper, I was so proud and the result was great, except for the fact that the bust was now too big and the collar was drooping too far off of the left shoulder.  I ripped out the back part of the collar and sewed it back on so that it sat a little further down, but this was no help.  It became apparent to me that I was going to have to really get into the guts of the dress, so I ripped open the lining tried a little pinning to adjust the fit.  I soon became so intimidated with the task that I just left it sitting there as a UFO, until now. No longer will this dress taunt me!

When I finally revisited it yesterday, I thought I was going to have to adjust the whole bust area, and struggled for about an hour to try and get my head around how to do it, until I realized I was running out of time and just decided to move the front of the left collar piece downwards to make the sleeve tighter. This probably would have worked well a few months ago when I first made the dress, but blessed/cursed weight loss has caused my bust to decrease a little more since then, so it was still loose.  At this point, I only had an hour to get ready, so I pinned the collar pieces where they needed to go, and did a quick hand-sewing job on the inside. The fully lined dress isn’t as pretty as it could be now in that area, but this quick fix along with a nicely padded pushup bra, did the trick.

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This dress, thanks to the full satin lining, feels amazing to wear!  I can’t help but feel good and elegant in it.  After watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s in the background, I was happy I had a dressy outfit to wear to the party. Don’t you just love how formal clothing was during that era?  I kept Holly Golightly’s poise in mind all night, but I resisted the urge to call everyone “daaarling!” as she does in the film.  I must admit I felt like Marylin Monroe in this dress, and my sweetheart kept saying how beautiful I looked and how he was so glad I was there. So I guess I won the battle in the end, and it was worth it.  Until next time, daaaaarling!

Pattern: Burda 07/2011

Fabric and materials used: Around 3 meters navy stretch satin (good quality) for shell, 2 meters bargain bin blue stretch satin for lining, regular zipper, iron-on vilene tape to stabilize the zipper, and iron-on vilene stabilizer (which was useless because it would not stay–next time I will just stay-stitch).  I could really tell the difference between the two fabrics in terms of quality.  This was my first time working with any sort of slippery or stretchy fabric and I must admit I really loved it.  It was not as scary as I read it would be, though I took ages to cut it out.

Changes I made/things to try next time: On the burda measurements chart, It said I was a size 48 bordering on 50 at the time I cut this out (holy hips!).  I cut a 48 in the hips and a 46 in the bust.  I really could have sized down even further, especially in the bust area.  However, I found the armholes way too tight and ended up modifying these to account for my bulging biceps. 😉  I cut them down this twice, measuring carefully to make sure both sides were even.  Maybe I went a little too far though, since the left collar piece/armhole ended up being too big.

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New Skills/Lessons learned:  This is the first time I properly excecuted a lapped zipper, and for extra gold stars, I made the lining nice and tidy too.  This was also my first vent.  I am sold on the lapped zipper. I reinforced it with vilene iron-on waist stay tape, which made it nice and sturdy.  Although it looks wrinkly in the photo, I assure you I have a more ample backside than my mannequin, and it fits smoothly on me.

This was the first time I worked with nicer quality fabric. In the past I always used cheaper cottons, which was fine while I was improving my skills.  Now that I have improved, I must say, I can finally see the value in spending a little more on fabric. I feel like this is the first time I have produced a piece that is more handmade than homemade,  and this has given me the confidence to start looking more at actual dressmaking fabrics rather than strictly cotton prints.

Would you make this again?:  Possibly. I loved the end result, and it is not as confusing now that I have made it once, but I would have to take more time to fix all the fit issues. Maybe I’d make it for a friend though, as every voluptuous girl deserves a dress like this!

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What I am working on for week 45: Burda Off the Shoulder Dress

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In Sweden, people are obsessed with numbers, and most people know what week of the year it is offhand!  This week is week 45, and I am working on the #135 Burda plus size off the shoulder dress.  The model in the Burda image looks so sultry, and the dress seemed flattering, so I just had to try it!

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The line drawing looked simple enough, but when I looked at the instructions for the collar piece which are listed as step 4, there were really about 18 different steps that had to be taken to complete it! Oh Burda instructions, why must you be so difficult? Now I know why this is an intermediate pattern.

After sewing all the vertical pieces and pressing all the seams for the outer fabric and lining, I decided I needed to put this down for a day and wrap my head around the collar step.  Once the collar is finished, the rest of the instructions are clear and I will be able to zip right through to the last step, zipper installation!  I can’t wait to see if this actually comes out as a flattering and wearable dress or not!

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