Birthday Dress in progress

So, I finally decided on what I was going to make to celebrate the big 3-0 later this month.  And it’s exactly what I said I was going to make:  Burda 12/2011 #107.


Courtesy of

This dress was the reason I bought the issue, so I figured it was about time I put my pattern buying money where my mouth was!  As previously mentioned, this is my first time working with a Burda magazine pattern, and boy was it an interesting start:

I’m still unsure if this is a prime example of German efficiency, or some sort of subtle psychological torture.

However, once I received the decoder ring I sent away for, I got everything traced off easy peasy!

I decided not to include the front and back side style lines; I don’t feel that they add much to the look of the finished garment and the extra time to deal with them just wasn’t worth it to me.  Plus, the long sleeved version (#106B, I believe?) doesn’t call for them.


Once I got everything cut out and ready to go, I started with my version of tissue fitting:  I held the front bodice piece up to my shoulder and thought “Shit, that just ain’t right.”  The story of my life when it comes to empire waist frocks!  The ladies definitely aren’t as perky as they were when I started sewing at 13.

Based on my highly scientific methods, and the dimensions listed for the size 40 I cut out, I decided to add a 3/4″ FBA, which added about 3/8″ in length, and then added another 2 1/2 inches to the length of the front bodice (and, of course, the back bodice) following Alana’s example.

Started with this.  Drew lines to my apex. The squiggly line on the bottom right is an approximation of how long the empire bodice needs to be.

Check out this Frankensteined FBA monstrosity!

And here’s the back, in its altered form.


And both the front and back re-traced and prettied up:


I decided to get a good idea of how this this will look as a whole, I would need to sew up a muslin of the entire thing (sans sleeves), instead of just the bodice, like I usually do.  I really didn’t want to get into a situation where I didn’t like the proportion and had wasted a bunch of silk in the process.  Here’s how it ended up:


Thank God for mock ups.

I’m hopeful to fix most of the issues I see here with just a few quick fixes.  I’ll be taking in each side seam about 3/8″ and decided to remove 3/4″ of the 2 1/2″ I added to the bodice, since the chest is a little saggy,


and the back is quite…humpish.


A swayback adjustment may be in order, too!  We shall see.

Since I added so much to the length of the bust, that’s made the whole dress longer; (and it was drafted for someone taller than me to begin with) I’ll take 3-4 inches off of the total length.

Lastly, and most apparently, this thing is cleavage city!  And not just “wow, boobs” issue:  it’s so bad I wouldn’t be able to wear a regular bra.


I’m thinking of adding this adjustment to my FBA  (see steps 5 and 6).  If this doesn’t work, I will be investigating the possibility of a modesty panel.

To be continued!


4 thoughts on “Birthday Dress in progress”

  1. Wow – there is a decoder ring??? I haven’t tried to decipher these patterns – I get a headache just looking at them. Good idea doing the toile – what is it with that back. I’m sure your skills are up to making a great dress from their pattern.

  2. I haven’t tried Burda patterns from the mag and that scary picture of all those colorful lines is the reason why. It’s a beautiful dress you’ve chosen for your birthday – i do hope it works out in the end. I’m curious – how do you get rid of the extra in the back? Would that be by cutting smaller if you cut on the fold? That’s the problem I usually have with RTW dresses (that aren’t knit).
    Can’t wait to see the finished dress – thanks for showing the muslin – it’s so helpful!

    1. I think tracing the pattern was probably the most difficult part of the process! As for the hunchback, I took out some extra length in the bodice, and also did a swayback adjustment (AKA removed some length only in the center back).

      Also, I always wonder if showing these in progress photos are actually helpful, and it’s great to know they can be! :)

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