I love checking out Burdastyle.com* for their latest pattern releases, and early this year a dress from their wedding collection caught my eye: Short A-Line Dress 03/2016 #106. As lovely a wedding dress it made, I felt it would also work as a casual, 60s-inspired shift. So I dug out some vintage sheets from my collection and got to work.
A quick muslin in my usual size (40 bust, 44 hips) revealed the pattern was very small in the shoulders – I could barely move my arms. I had to size up to the 42 despite being a usually consistent 40, so I’d advise making a muslin and possible sizing up in the bust / shoulder area if you choose to make this dress. Otherwise, I made my usual fit adjustments (forward head, more length in the dress) with an arbitrarily shortened sleeve and the second muslin fit perfectly.
As I’d never sewn such a large pleat before, I turned to my trusty Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing for advice. When cutting, I made sure to mark the pleat lines and CB with my Frixion pen and gridded ruler, before sewing the pleat down to the opening and basting the rest of the way. As the pleat was in a small tube, I employed my dowel for pressing (just a stick from Bunnings, but eminently useful). Working carefully, I pulled the fabric to each side to avoid lumps forming, as happened in each of my muslins.
Once the pleat was pressed, it was basted to the CB line. This made the actual pressing of the pleat a breeze, as everything was locked in place and marked. The folds were pressed over cardboard to ensure no marks showed through.
It would have made a lot more sense to hem before pressing the pleat, but I wanted to check the final length first. When the hemline was determined, I pressed the hem allowance flat of folds, pressed up, and machine basted the pleat fold lines to the hem allowance. I could then crisply repress those folds and ensure they wouldn’t budge when sewing the hem (which was slightly eased).
To secure the neck facing, I stitched in the ditch at the shoulders, and sewed the facing to the inner pleat at centre back. I’m still umming and ahhing over whether I should secure the pleat itself somehow, either by stitching in the ditch to the break, or adding an arrowhead tack to make sure those stitches don’t come undone. Any suggestions are welcome!
This fabric is the gift that keeps on giving. I bought two vintage queen size sheets from the op shop months ago, and despite making myself this dress, a friend a Cambie dress, and another friend a skirt from it, I still have enough left for another dress! I feel like we’ve got a Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants thing going on, except with less annoying teen drama. If we’re ever wearing our matching outfits together, you can be sure I’ll share a photo with you.
I’m never really disappointed with my Burda projects, and this dress is no exception. The only thing that shits me is that the weight of the pleat pulls the dress to the back – dresses shifting to the back are my bugbear but it’s pretty unavoidable in a style like this. It will certainly come in handy in our upcoming summer, which is predicted to be our hottest and most tropical yet.
Pattern: Burda Short A-Line Dress 03/2016 #106
Pattern details: Available from Burdastyle magazine, March 2016, or as an A4 PDF download. Sizes 36-44. No seam allowances added. PDF comes with 3 top and 3 dress variations (#103-107).
Fabric: not all of 1 queen sheet in a 60s floral print, from Salvos
Other materials: Sheerweft interfacing. Scrap of white fabric for facing.
Mods: Size 42 bust to size 44 hips.
– Eliminated slit to make pull-over dress, sewed pleat down 12cm from back neck
– 12mm forward head adjustment (moved sleeve cap forward to match)
– 6mm broad back adjustment (took a bit off back shoulder to true)
– brought in shoulder about 1.8cm at neck and up 6mm at CF and CB
– added 4cm length at hem
– made sleeve short – about 6cm from underarm with a 1cm hem. Let out slightly by straightening sleeve side seams.
*Not really. As much as I love Burda designs, Burdastyle.com is a shithole that has almost entirely been overtaken by spam.