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.