September 28, 2014

My First Burda: Jersey Dress 01/2011

Why hello there! It’s me, in my first Burda!
When I started sewing, Burda was one of the first pattern companies I became aware of, and I used to obsessively stalk BurdaStyle all day. However I had a hunch that they were too difficult for me as a beginner, so I put them aside… and until now, I’ve never come back.
Finally, I have joined the club.

Burda kindly offered to share the ‘Best of BurdaStyle Plus Size Pattern Collection‘ with the editors of the CSC – for $24.99 you can get 8 classic plus size patterns, plus access to webinars (there’s also a second set of patterns, here). We each chose our favourite to make –  I chose the Jersey Dress which I had previously had my eye on, and which you can also buy individually here.  We recieved the patterns for free, and while there’s no doubt that getting things for free has an impact on perceptions, I’ll give you a run-down of what I did and didn’t like and you can judge for yourself if you think I’m impartial 🙂

First up: the good! I really like the design and shape of this dress, which frankly is the all-around most important factor in a pattern for me. It really accentuates my hourglass-ish shape, and I love the neckline. I didn’t use the sleeves (I had to do a little adjusting at the armscye but not much), and as it is, it really reminds me of the Roland Mouret galaxy dress, well known for its flattering qualities.
I used black ponte, and then a stretch cotton pique down the middle panels to give a bit of texture, and that worked really well – you could also colour block this pattern very easily. Unfortunately ponte seams are often pretty puffy so I topstitched them all (thank you, edgestitching foot!) and tried to press them into submission, but as you can see in these pictures some of them still puff a little. I omitted the zipper, as I really didn’t need it given the stretch of the fabric. The neckline is finished with a facing which I usually despise in knits, but given the shape I couldn’t think of an alternative. Luckily there are lots of seams in this dress, so I stitched down the facing in about 6 places, and I understitched *and* topstitched down the facing, so there’ll be no flipping round these here parts.
The less-good: First up, sizing. I went by the measurement guide and sewed up a size 52 but it was way too big: I had to take 4 inches out of each side seam, and I have some baginness under my arm that I couldn’t fix easily without going back to the pattern to make adjustments and starting over. As I’ve never used a Burda pattern before, so I didn’t know if they ran big or small, but I certainly learned my lesson there – is this a general trend, Burda-pattern-users, like with the Big 4?
Second, the pattern pieces and instructions. The pattern pieces aren’t marked with their purpose (e.g. ‘side skirt front’) which made for a lot of back and forth with the instructions. Then the instructions weren’t very clear – not a big deal as I already know how to sew a dress, but if you don’t, I wouldn’t recommend starting here. Finally, weirdly there were three extra pattern pieces! I traced them, and then discovered that they weren’t included in the cutting layout, or the instructions…  I assume that there must be some kind of variation to the dress that uses them (a tunic maybe?) but there was no mention of this on the pattern or instructions anywhere.
In case you’re wondering, the neckline is not homemade, but from Bergdorf Goodman, years ago!

So all in all an illuminating experience, and most importantly, I love my dress! It’s a fab combination of dressy enough for cocktail parties but ludicrously comfortable. I could eat a LOT of canapes in this, and I shall, goddamit. If you’re an advanced beginner or intermediate seamstress I definitely recommend trying it out. If you’re a beginner, well, I’d learn on something a little more self-explanatory, and then come back to this in the future.

What are your experience with Burda patterns, readers? I love that they have quite a wide range of plus size patterns, and they do often have on-trend pieces (albeit with less on-trend ones mixed in), so I’m sure I’ll be trying another one soon.
Disclosure: I received the pattern for free. 

70 thoughts on “My First Burda: Jersey Dress 01/2011

  1. Ali says:

    Wow! That was one of my first Burda Magazines, and I’ve always wanted to make that dress. It looks great on you and those fabric choices are great. I guess it’s time to trace the magazine’s pattern for it!

    1. Jenny says:

      Yes, it caught my eye ages ago so I was happy to get the prompt to make it! Totally worth giving it a go, but I’d size down if I were you 🙂

  2. BeaJay says:

    Damn!! Double Damn!!! Damn Damn Damn!!! I have managed to avoid Burda ever since I started to sew almost 3 years ago…. I have looked at Burda Plus magazine reviews and almost succumbed to temptation. Even had the magazine in my shopping cart and dumped it. Why do I need more patterns – especially from a magazine that I have heard is hard to trace off.

    And now you – single-handedly have managed to change my mind. Cunning Burda sending you the free patterns. That dress looks SMASHING on you. Fabulous. Must have this pattern. Love what you have done with the panels. It is so flattering. Thanks! Now I have to buy the magazine! LOL.

    1. Jenny says:

      Hehe thanks BeaJay 🙂 I should get commission!

  3. BeaJay says:

    Oops – just realised it isn’t a magazine.. Still – I am tempted to subscribe on the basis of this dress. Will definitely purchase some of the patterns from this collection.

  4. Jane says:

    Wow, look at you in your little black dress – GORGEOUS! You’re right, it does look like the Roland Mouret galaxy dress, totally posh and classy and I love the textured panel down the middle! I’ve only ever made one Burda pattern – a kimono sleeved top – probably not a good indication of the rest of their patterns as it was so simple! x

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Jane! What I love most is that it’s classy *and* it feels like I’m just wearing a stretchy nightgown. What more can you ask for, really?

  5. Linda Rees says:

    Love the dress, especially the textured front panel. I used to sew Burda patterns back in the seventies, I think it was, but all those millions of coloured lines put me off. I may need to re-think! Your boobs look amazing, by the way!!! And I love your necklace, too.

  6. I have made a few Burda patterns. One blouse for me and some dresses for a friend and for Sprogzilla. I have always found their sizing to run pretty true. The magazine instructions can run the whole gamut from pretty sparse to utterly baffling. I tend to ignore them for the most part. I Think that the plus-sized offerings are either fabulous or awful with very little in between. They used to be a lot better. I cancelled my subscription because of this but I do still buy random copies and the plus size specials which are out in the Spring and normally about now. The paper patterns are really well drafted and are great to use. They include seam allowances, unlike the magazine, and have a lot of styles which go up to bigger sizes or are plus-specific patterns.

    That is a lovely dress, Jenny. The fit is fabulous and I love the fabric combinations. It looks very high-end RTW.

    The tracing is not too hard, Beajay. It looks a little complicated at first but all the patterns are colour coded with the numbers printed on the edge of the pattern sheets. This is where a high-lighter pen is your friend.

    1. I completely agree with you about Burda patterns, they are either fabulous and totally on trend, or they are frumpy boxy awful potato sacks with nothing in between.

    2. Jenny says:

      Have to agree with you – it’s so polarized, where sometimes they’re fantastic and sometimes they’re truly terrible! I think the styling doesn’t help either a lot of the time. I’m glad with my final dress though!

  7. Birgit says:

    Wow that is a beautiful dress, you look stunning! I really like the textured panel, it gives that little extra.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Birgit! I got the textured cotton in Berlin earlier in the year and I had no idea what to do with it, but this turned out to be the perfect solution!

  8. Katie says:

    That’s lush, I love the black on black texture detail. I have always had good luck with Burda patterns, especially the pants which seem to fit me amazingly well. Just the luck of if your body matches their block, I think! I haven’t found trouble with excess ease with them before.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks, Katie. And I’m well jell of you matching the block – that’s every sewists’ dream!

  9. You look amazing! I love how you did the texture blocking. It makes a simple LBD special. I have to make this next month, sleep be d@mned:)

  10. This is smashing! I’ve made a couple of Burda things, mostly knit tops. A couple of times I’ve definitely found random pattern pieces or cutting lines with no mention from whence they came. I agree – as a beginner ogle the styles, then once skills are learned come back to them. The lack of instructions can be crushing for a beginner.

    1. Jenny says:

      Yeah I’m really glad i didn’t try when I was a beginner because I can imagine how easily I would have been put off! It would also make me less likely to try something new, but with knit dresses, I kind of have that down now 🙂

  11. Margo B says:

    WOWZA! You look awesome in this dress. I find it helpful to use the finished measurements printed on the pattern pieces to choose a size with the big 4. I understand how frustrating it is to take 4 inches out of a dress as you are making it. Ugh. You made it work though!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thank you Margo! Unfortunately Burda don’t have the finished measurements anywhere (I think?) which is frustrating – they definitely help with Big 4

  12. OH. MAMA. yeeeeeOWWWWWZA!

    allow me to compose myself. ahem. yes, burda does have some generous ease, but she is a fickle beast, there are times when the fit leaves you gasping for air. good call on waiting to start this line! i began with burda and when i came up short i blamed the patterns. now i know i just needed more experience.

  13. You look stunning in this gorgeous dress, so classy! The fabric combination is great! I always end up with a bigger size with burda patterns and then have to take it in, and then last time I tried one, I chose the smaller size and it ended up being too small, haha, I always go back to them though, there are some classic styles there that they don’t go out of fashion, like your dress 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      It seems from what everyone’s saying that there is really a lot of variation with their patterns which is frustrating as it means all-muslins all the time! (or else a lot of pattern measuring, but that’s difficult with knits). But clearly it’s worth perserving sometimes.

  14. Gail says:

    Wow, what an amazing dress! You look fantastic in this! Thanks for the close-up pics of the fabrics – I love that pique contrast.

    I’ve used a fair number of Burda patterns, both magazine and envelope, and I’ve got to say – at least for me, the sizing is not consistent. When I use any Burda pattern, I always do flat pattern measurements first off – without them I sometimes wouldn’t even know what size to trace!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Gail! IT’s hard to photograph black but my friend Katy did a good job 🙂

  15. You look fabulous in this dress. That pique was just the thing to add texture to the front of the dress. I have some Burda patterns on my Fall sewing list, and I will be purchasing this collection.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Alicia! The other pieces look fab too and the rest of the Curvy Sewing Collective will be reviewing them over the next 2 weeks

  16. sewmanju says:

    Looks fab. I think you this dress will take you so many places.

  17. puu says:

    HOT HOT HOT. great make. great work.

  18. I want to look this good too! WOW!! You OWN this dress, completely.
    I’ve sewn with Burda years ago but I’d strayed away from sewing for quite awhile, now I want to get back into it and after a little refreshing I hope to stitch this dress up.

    1. Jenny says:

      This would be a great one to get back into sewing with! Fairly easy to construct (as long as you don’t follow the instructions) and super comfy to wear

  19. tanyamaile says:

    This certainly is the epitome of the perfect “little black dress.” Your styling is superb as usual, Jenny, and it looks like you’ll get a lot of use out of this!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Tanya! I’ve never really had a LBD dress before

  20. Andie L. says:

    I have made one Burda dress before and it ran HUGE. I feel your pain.

    The dress looks amazing on you! So incredible. Reallly really fabulous. <3

    1. Jenny says:

      Yeah luckily this one was really easy to take in with a few passes through the serger – it would have been a nightmare if it had had a proper waistband!

  21. mommylap says:

    This is spectacular. I really am crazy about this for fun and the office. You will rarely hear me rave about a black dress, but I love what you did with texture blocking also. And I am crazy for that neckline. I might be won over for this pattern collection!

    1. Jenny says:

      Why thank you very much! I love the neckline, too, especially the part that slants back behind the neck. I might have to make more like this in the future!

  22. Tina says:

    Lovely dress! I’ve tried a few Burda patterns from one of their books and yes, they do seem to run big. If I had know some of the things I know now, I could have done a better job with the garments I made from that book, but I got frustrated and gave up. Definitely not for beginners.

    1. Jenny says:

      I hope you continued sewing though! The trial and errors we all have to go through..

  23. Totally stunning, Jenny! The neckline on this dress looks amazing on you. Black dresses can be easy to overlook, but your change in texture gives this one just the right amount of extra interest. Lovvvve it.

    1. Jenny says:

      Why thank you! I haven’t really had anything with this neckline before, but I think I’m a convert now.

  24. DanaRose says:

    Wow, this is gorgeous! I love the subtle contrast in textures and this fits you beautifully. I feel like Burda does a better job with the plus size patterns that with other patterns, at least a far as flattering, wearable garments go. And you picked a great pattern!

    1. Jenny says:

      I think that’s sometimes true! Although they also have tents for us, so it probably balances out 🙂

  25. It looks wonderful! Great dress on you, very flattering- thanks for sharing.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks for your kind words Sandra

  26. Alex Bradley says:

    First of all, you’ve done a great job with this dress, and it suits you beautifully!! I’ve always found Burda to run large in the sizes but have found that with the other Big 4 too. And I do find their instructions a bit brief and confusing and yes just like you if I had used a burda one first time I never would have sewed a dress again. Luckily I have a bit of experience now and can ing it or guess what they mean. But considering Burda’s history and reputation, and their cool designs, you would think their instructions would be a lot more user friendly! I love your dress mate, you look gorge innit!!

  27. blog1 says:

    You’ve done a great job. The contrast fabric is very subtle on the distance views.

    And thank you for this: “We received the patterns for free, and while there’s no doubt that getting things for free has an impact on perceptions, I’ll give you a run-down of what I did and didn’t like and you can judge for yourself if you think I’m impartial :)” It’s so true and so, so rarely seen. It warms my cantankerous heart.

    1. Jenny says:

      You’re welcome

  28. lisa g. says:

    wowzers, this dress looks stunning on you! the combination of fabrics is just perfection–i love how it adds interest to the dress. great job!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Lisa! I’ve had that pique in my stash for ages and I’m glad it found a good home 🙂

  29. Clio says:

    Holy cow, girl! I’m suddenly singing ” Brick House” while reading this post. You own that neckline.

    I think your Burda experience sounds pretty typical – great style, chuck the instructions. I’ve never noticed that they draft with a lot of ease the way the big 4 do, but that could be different with their plus patterns. I’ve mostly been very happy with the drafting.

    1. Jenny says:

      Why thank you! Having only made one pattern I’ve no idea if it’s representative or not, but I did just get a few more so I will soon find out!

  30. The contrasting center panel really amps up this dress! Who can’t use a dozen LBDs in her closet!?! This is fantastic.

  31. Amanda says:

    Oh wowser- this is totally va vavoom!
    My experience with Burda patterns is about 4″ wearing ease as well- craziness!

  32. kathy says:

    What everyone else said. Totally rockin’ dress.

  33. Super sexy and classy all at once! I love the neckline of this dress, and it really frames your face nicely.

  34. Damn! This is hot hot hot! You look, as the kids say, dope as shit! I have this love-hate thing with Burda… their instructions are worthless and the sizing makes no sense to me, so every time I make something from them, I swear I won’t do it again… then I find myself crawling back when I see something I really like. The last pattern I tried from them was a cocoon cardigan that was laughably giant when I cut the size indicated. I made it last fall and never wore it, but I finally worked up the nerve to resize it a few weeks ago so I may actually like it now! At least the patterns are inexpensive.

  35. Awesome! I have to say, even though you struggled with the sizing and tracing, you rocked it! The fit is amazing.

  36. Iryna B. says:

    Hi Jenny, I am new to your blog! Was reading and reading… but this dress – Wow! Amazing! Love the fit and the choices of fabric. And your photo-crew is top notch!
    I was also using Burda since day one. Back then I was smaller, so it wasn’t a big deal at all. And I did sew for myself and my relatives. Then I stopped as fitting got more and more difficult. I still sew for my little daughter and do some mending!
    Guess I need to face my fear and start sewing…..Would love to try Burda patterns for my + size and see it for myself. I also write down all the pattern you were using. Thank you for the reviews.
    On the wrap dresses. Have you tried one from Peggy Sagers? The company is I would like to try! She has a bit of an unusual sizing concept (and tons of videos). Kinda speaks to me.
    Thank you for the wonderful blog! I am a subscriber & a big fan now!

    1. Thanks for your comment Iryna! I haven’t tried that Peggy Sagers one, but I’ll have to check it out.

  37. This is a truly gorgeous dress and you look stellar in it!

  38. Alice says:

    I hace been using burda magazines for years. When you trace out your pattern– i use a light weight interfacing– use scotch tape to put on your manniquin or youself to get an idea of how it is going to fit with their ease
    Then you will know if you would prefer less ease, smaller size or can just adjust the seam size. I find that the measurements run true but your fabric choice can make a big difference in how the garment drapes. Some knits are very stretchy. Some wovens are very stiff. Both witch influence the garment sizing.

    By the way–love, love, LOVE your dress. Well fitted and just the right length to make you look leggy and curvy.

Let me know what you think!