Thursday, 20 August 2015

Burda Style Ruffle Dress - What I'm Pledging.

When blogger Karen Ball threw down the gauntlet to fellow sewers with the Made Up challenge, I was up for it straight away!  Karen is the face behind the sewing blog Did You Make That and is an accomplished and enthusiastic sewer herself. The Made Up challenge is all about sewers pledging to make something completely new by the 10 September and at the same time each of us donates a contribution of roughly the same amount of money as the cost of a pattern, to the National Literacy Trust.  It's an inspiration born of Karen's two passions of children's publishing and sewing.  Coming from a publishing background myself, in children's non-fiction, and also being a sewing fiend, I jumped on board.

Now, me being ever one to be motivated by a deadline, I soon knew what to pledge and that was the Burda Style Ruffle Dress all set to go in my project pile.  I had been distracted slightly in the last few days by thoughts of another cosy Rigel Bomber Jacket, what with all the rain and cold wind that have been around.  I had even thought of pulling out the wool tweed and setting about making a hacking jacket.  Hmmm, woooool, nice and warm!  But no, given the deadline and the thought of a much needed push to make one last summer dress, despite the chilly weather, the Ruffle took up position on my cutting mat and off we went.

The starting point for this project was this fabric, which I bought some weeks ago when the wonderful Cloth House in Berwick Street Soho was about to close down. They were moving lock, stock and barrel to their shop further up the street and had a sale of rolls and rolls of fabric all at ridiculously low prices.  A whole rack of ends of rolls of excellent quality material for only £3! I happened along the road at just that moment (ahem, as you do! As you know, I am magnetically and unconsciously drawn towards fabric sales) and in a flash bang wallop  3 metres of cream and silver grey silk were mine. As well as 4 metres of pure wool fine check in brown, destined now for a tailored style tweedy hacking jacket for autumn. I also grabbed some bonkers stripy synthetic stuff that is stiff as a board and sort of shiny and frankly still baffling me as to what on earth it will end up being used for.  Retina-ache inducing, striped, nylon taffeta. Thoughts on a postcard please....

So I needed a pattern that could work with fine floaty silk, it's extremely transparent too and I wanted a dress to make the most of these qualities without being too girly cute or fussy.  The photo at the top of this post is actually of the fabric folded double, with the shadow of the flower print on the other side showing through, giving you an idea of how transparent it really is. 

This is the dress I've chosen after spending quite a long time trawling through patterns online to find one that could accommodate all the fabric's trickier qualities, and still be something I'd actually want to wear.  It's the Burda Style 103A Ruffle Dress from May 2015.  The picture on the pattern cover is quite slinky; a very tall and willowy model, posing on some sort of vintage motor and the whole shoot beautifully styled and lit.  This is why it's ALWAYS worth looking closely at the actual line drawing, which will show the real construction and true shape of the dress.  You can see that the shape of this dress is actually a rectangle essentially, with two very small darts at the bust to give a tiny bit of shape around the top, and big old flouncy wings attached front and back on either side.  

Now this could, under the wrong conditions, make you like a tent that has come undone in a gale of wind.  This is not the usual shape I'd go for myself, being more likely to choose a fitted style or something to give me a bit more shape.  Fit and flare are my two favourite words when it comes to dresses.  Sacks are not my go-to style and neither are belted dresses for the same reason unless they are fitted, in that they tend to make me look pretty shapeless.  However with such very fine and floaty fabric, I'm hoping the drape will do the talking and I'm relying on the movement and 'hang' of the fabric to bring the dress to life.  I'm pinning my hopes on this looking cool and body-skimming - not making me look like a ghostly galleon in full sail.  

The first experimental pieces put together with pins on my dress form look promising so far and some nice flow is starting to happen at each side. We shall see!

My studio is currently having building work finished at the moment.  I popped in quickly to take these shots on the dress form in between the builders doing joinery.  The spare room is occupied just now also, which is where I would otherwise have been doing this project.  Fortunately the occupant is my Mum, who is giving me the benefit of her vast sewing knowledge and helping with the construction - bonus!  So I've fitted my sewing into fairly limited time and space this week; one or two evenings snatching a little time and kitchen table space to crack on with cutting out and working out the piecing together.  All the more reason to have a deadline to work to, and a motivating cause.  


  1. Beautiful fabric, perfect choice for the pattern - it will float in the slightest breeze! Looking forward to seeing it finished in September, just in time to be able to wear it this summer. Still thinking about what you can do with the stripy fabric - will let you know if I'm inspired!

  2. Yes that was the idea so hope it does actually float when it's on. Yes the shiny fabric put me in mind at the time of some Vivienne Westwood style taffeta creation. In reality I'm not sure now. If you have any bright ideas I'd love to hear them thank you! Sarah x