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It’s been a really long time since anything in BurdaMag has gotten me rabidly tearing the patterns out of the magazine within a day of getting it, until now. I’d been anticipating the March 2012 issue since the first preview went online with this pretty twist-front dress:

This dress is pretty much the same idea as the twist front dress that I had long coveted from Pattern Magic, but had never gotten around to drafting:

And once again, my selfish sloth seemed to be on the verge of paying off- wait around long enough and someone will eventually do the hard part for me. Or so I thought. I was dismayed to discover that Burda 3-2012-108 is the one pattern in the issue drafted for tall women. Argh, tall women! Not only are they able to take full advantage of the top shelf of the kitchen cabinets, but they also get the twist dress pattern that I’ve been lazily waiting for someone to draft for *me*? I punch you in the knees, tall women- in the KNEES!

Determined not to be defeated by Burda’s 72-88 sizing, I graded it down two sizes to what I suppose could be called a size 68 and traced it out. I figured that if I made up the pattern as drafted for tall women, this would potentially result in 1) a lower waist seam than intended, 2) lower armsyces than intended, and 3) lots and lots of extra length. The first issue seemed desirable given my desire to avoid an empire waist (contrary to popular belief, empire waists do not flatter every figure, and Selfish is stubby proof of that), and the second and third issues seemed easily fixable. As you’ll recall, the Selfish Seamstress is almost as short as she is mean, but has a fairly average torso length, so it would really be more like editing a tall torso pattern for a regular torso and not for a petite one. As it turned out, the bodice as drafted hit just slightly above my natural waistline (not too empire-y), and the armscyes were fine as is- no edits necessary! I simply redrafted the hem to an even 25″ from the waist seam (before hemming), and I was off! (Super bonus- if you make it this short, you don’t need to trace out the additional skirt piece that you’re supposed to tape to the bottom of the main front piece to get the full length- you can just skip it entirely. Only four pattern pieces to trace- yay!)

I used a beautiful navy and white zigzag print cotton voile that I got from Metro over the holidays for a $6/yard steal. I fell for it at first sight, and then discovered only afterwards that it is, of course, Milly fabric. This stuff is like a magnet for me- I buy it when I don’t even intend to; I’m inexplicably drawn to it. I must have a Milly-dar. It turns out that this print has shown up in different fabrics, at different scales, and in different colors throughout the Milly line:

And now it’s a favorite in the Selfish line as well. When I saw the Burda 3-2012-108 dress and the way the stripes play around the twist front, I just knew I had to pull out my precious Milly zigzag voile.

I used some cotton silk voile to line the bodice, leftover from my Heidi Merrick-inspired dress. I’ve decided, by the way, that cotton and silk voile is the perfect lightweight lining. It is absolutely weightless and adds no stiffness at all and barely any body, being even softer and floatier than Bemberg rayon. The cotton content makes it relatively easy to handle, but the silk makes it smooth so it doesn’t cling to the outer fabric the way cotton batiste might. I didn’t have enough to do the skirt lining (which in this pattern is made separately from the rest of the dress and then attached at the end) so I need to get more to finish it. In the meantime, please stop trying to peek at my underwear through the zigzag fabric, ok?  Seriously, stop. That’s just weird.

This pattern is fantastic- beautifully drafted and simple. I see myself with a couple more of these for summer. The skirt has just the right amount of flare:

And the best feature of the construction is that the bust of the finished dress is completely adjustable- no futzing with the pattern to get the bust to fit! Because of the way the twist is done, once you put it on, you can just sort of adjust the bodice fit by tugging a little at the looped-through front part of the skirt to get the bodice to lie taut against your torso. (Of course, you do have to make sure that you hem to skirt to an even length all around for *your* body. The more you’ve got up top, the less length you’ll have at the front of the skirt.)

The pattern is rated as a “challenging” 3 out of 4 dots, but I think this is only because the twist construction is unconventional. There’s actually nothing technically difficult about this pattern and an advanced beginner or intermediate sewer could easily put this dress together in a day or two. And this is the one pattern in the issue that has detailed, illustrated instructions (in the German edition at least), so deciphering the usually-cryptic BurdaSpeak isn’t so much of a problem.

So that’s it- short woman makes the Burda tall dress in unintentionally Milly fabric! I get the feeling that this is the dress I’ll be in all summer long. Get on it, petite (and average-height) online sewing world!

Of course, none of this changes the fact that I’m still short.  Well, except for 5″ heels.

Here’s the mystery project to which I alluded the other day, now finished! I’m calling it the Sugar Snow Dress. If I recall my Little House books correctly, a sugar snow is a snow storm late in the season which yields a surge of maple sap. As you can see from the picture, we’re just now getting a peek of sun after two days of snow, some of which drifted up onto my balcony.

The dress has a ruched upper bodice and a very full skirt which is actually just a dirndl, though I think it looks rounder. The dress is largely self-drafted, with a little help from the midriff piece of a vintage Advance pattern which was my inspiration. I think it’s significantly enough modified from the original though that I can post the pattern for download, which I will along with some more photos, maybe this weekend.

The dress is made of a lovely crispy, sheen-y cotton voile (my birthday present to me!), and the bodice is lined with cotton muslin. Just between you and me, the pattern is running vertically on the bodice, but horizontally on the skirt. I would have preferred to have it vertical on the whole dress, but that would have entailed putting a bunch more seams in the skirt, and I didn’t want that. The dress could stand to be a little more fitted through the bodice, as it is a tad roomy, but it’s not a bad as is. If I overeat at my next garden party, it won’t get tight. It was quite quick to sew up, with the exception of a bunch of hand finishing that I did simply because I enjoy hand sewing. I catch stitched the bodice lining by hand:

And blindstitched the entire endless hem by hand.  The hem is a delicious 5″ deep. I love a deep hem; it feels like such a luxury:

And I inserted the zipper by hand too, a brown vintage metal zipper that I had in my stash…

… and that I decided to use after this happened to my original stupid invisible zipper:

Grrrrr! Stupid invisible zipper takes so long to rip out of lightweight cotton voile!

Anyhow, keep your eyes peeled for more photos of the Sugar Snow Dress (who knows, I may even decide to twirl in it!) and a new free pattern, all coming soon!

Quick Update on the Sugar Snow Dress:

Sigh. It’s a good thing I put so much work into these things, huh? Hope all of mommy’s careful handstitching is giving you sweet dreams, Sasa.

The weather up by the Selfish Seamstress’s igloo has taken a turn for the nasty, and here we are on the 4th of May suddenly facing bitter wind and lots and lots of swirling snow. Surely such a phenomenon can only occur when you bet on the sewing gods over the weather gods, and then the weather gods have to remind you that the sewing gods are very, very small peanuts indeed compared to something as powerful and global as weather.

I forgot about that delicate balance last night and decided to indulge in some warm weather sewing for the first time this year, even though the weather has yet to turn warm. Even though my Madwoman dress has barely progressed since you last saw it, I couldn’t resist the draw of that gorgeous birthday voile any longer. Having it in my stash was like knowing there is a full pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer- I couldn’t just pretend like I’d get around to it later. So I pulled it out, all crispy and shimmery, along with a vintage pattern that was unfortunately missing some pieces, some paper for drafting, and some muslin. A little drafting, some adapting and editing, and after a mere two hours I had this:

What’s that you say?  You can’t figure it out from the picture? Hahaha, that’s because it’s a secret. And it’s a secret because after it’s done, I’m going to upload the pattern so you can make your own. It’s been a while since I’ve put up a pattern for you, and I like to keep you guessing. It makes me feel powerful.

Suffice it to say, after that dizzying summer sewing frenzy last night, delicate cotton voile flying everywhere, pins scattered all over the floor, I woke up this morning to a blizzard. I guess I won’t be wearing this anytime soon. But maybe you will!

Oh, okay, fine. Here’s my inspiration pattern. Twist my arm a little, why don’t you.

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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