The Dalek Outfit Reviewed – Burda Emily Shirt & Box Pleated Skirt

Warning: contains a GIF

Last time I shared my experience of ordering from Spoonflower with you. TL;DR: don’t do it. Today, I’ll review the patterns I made from my Spoonflower fabric, starting with the Burda Emily Shirt.

A woman wears a button up shirt with Dalek print, skinny blue jeans, and brown boots.

The Emily Shirt is, I believe, one of those non-magazine patterns offered as a free download several years ago. It is now available for $3.99USD – still cheaper than most of their patterns. The Emily is a basic shirt pattern with two sleeve variations, one of which is extra-long with elastic ruching at the elbow. I chose the less visually offensive version!

Like usual, I made some style changes to get the look of a traditional shirt, including drafting a two-piece shirt placket (as per this Off the Cuff tutorial), and adding a shirt tail hem (curiously, the hem was cut straight across).

A woman wears a button up shirt with Dalek print, skinny blue jeans, and brown boots.

I wouldn’t recommend the Emily Shirt as a beginner pattern – Burda instructions are notoriously vague, their older downloads especially so. Burda 7136 had comprehensive instructions, if you’re looking for more direction.

Style-wise, I love how it turned out, but I was well aware the collar would be ridiculously  huge before sewing. I think it works with the silly print, but if you don’t want to look like an extra from Starsky & Hutch, you might want to chose a different pattern. Similarly, the tall, square collar stand works fine on my goose neck, but it would probably need some height taken out for anyone else.

A woman wears a button up shirt with Dalek print, skinny blue jeans, and brown boots.

Unfortunately, it’s not going to get much wear, because it’s just too damn small. I thought I’d cracked the fitting-without-a-muslin code, but apparently not, as my alterations (or chosen size) didn’t allow enough shoulder room. The first time I tried this on, I hulked straight out of it, and even with further alterations (and repairs!), I ripped it again as soon I as reached for the keyboard. After years of sewing a size 40, I’ve come to the realisation that I’m really more of a 42 in Burda patterns (with broad back adjustment needed!).

Hulk smash.

The matching skirt is just a basic box pleated skirt. It was cut to whatever fabric I had left, and pleated to a straight rectangular waistband, with lapped zip and inseam pocket. I was following various tutorials found online, which was a mistake – the ease allowed (2.5cm) was not nearly enough for breathing, let alone tucking in shirts and moving.

A woman stands in front of a garden fence. She wears denim button up shirt, Dalek-print skirt, and black and red polka dot flats.

After a period of hibernation in my wardrobe, I finally brought myself to rip out the waistband and attach a new one, cut and pieced from scraps. This waistband was cut based on actual skirt patterns I had in my stash, and allowed 5cm of ease (plus 3cm underlap). Much more comfortable.

I’m both pleased and disappointed with these garments – the print is spectacular, and I put in a lot of effort matching and sewing it. It’s just such a shame that the fabric wasn’t up to scratch, and that I cut a size too small in the shirt. But as a diehard Whovian, they will take pride of place of my wardrobe, reminding me of the glorious escapism Doctor Who provides.* And if anyone can help me source some Dalek fabric to make another shirt/entire Who themed wardrobe, I’m all ears!

A still from 1963 Doctor Who featuring a Dalek and William Hartnell as the Doctor.
The first encounter with the Daleks, in the appropriately titled series “The Daleks.” Ian is chillin’ on the floor for some reason.

The deets:
Pattern: Burda Emily Shirt
Pattern details: Available as PDF download with 2 sleeve variations, sizes 36-50. Prints on A4 paper.
Fabric: Cotton poplin in Exterminate! print, from Spoonflower
Other materials: Sheerweft interfacing. 12mm bias tape, buttons from stash
Mods: Size 40 bust and shoulders – 44 hips.
– 12mm forward head adjustment, moved sleeve cap forward to match
– Lowered bust dart 1cm, shortened 2.5cm
– 1.5cm added to body length at waist, added shirt tail hem which added about 5.5cm length to CF and CB
– About 1.3cm height taken from centre third of sleeve cap
– 3mm added to sleeve side seams at underarm, going to 8mm taken through each sleeve side seam to hem. Cuff narrowed to match.
– Own two piece tower placket drafted, similar to this Off the Cuff tutorial
– Hemmed with bias facing
– Omitted waist darts


*If only someone could exterminate Steven Moffat’s time as showrunner from my mind.


Author: Siobhan S

30 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic disability advocate.

6 thoughts on “The Dalek Outfit Reviewed – Burda Emily Shirt & Box Pleated Skirt”

  1. I’m pretty sure this isn’t too helpful (I don’t know if they ship outside the US), but Jo-Ann Fabric here in America has/had some awesomely crazy Dr. Who fabric – mainly quilting cottons and fleece (perhaps flannel as well). I tried searching for it and found a bunch on their website: Not sure where you’d want to go with this information, but I wanted to pass it on! (I’ve made a few shirts for my husband with different Dr. Who fabric from there; he’s a huge fan and he wears them when he gives exams. Not sure it helps the students relax any, to be honest…)


    1. Thanks for the info! does have some of those prints but I don’t know if they’re allowed to sell them outside of the US due to licensing. Seems silly in this globalised age! And lucky husband to have Dr Who shirts custom made for him!


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