A New Dress from an Old Pattern

If you read my previous post, you know I’m going to Florida soon to teach. If I’m going to Florida, I probably need a new dress, right? Right! I’m finished with the projects, the instructions, and the kits, so I had time. I recently bought a nice supply of knits from Gorgeous Fabrics during one of their sales, so I pulled out this beautiful print. Now, I don’t often wear prints, but hey, why not? I’m not exactly sure what to call this poly-lycra fabric – it’s not a double knit, it’s not a jersey. It has a slight crepe-y texture on the right side, and it’s very stable, almost like a stretch woven. It was a breeze to sew!

Then I went through my pattern stash. I don’t live anywhere near a good place to purchase patterns, so I was limited to what I have on hand. I came across Burda 8707.


This pattern is probably at least 13 or 14 years old, and out of print. I’ve never sewn it, but I always liked it.


I like the curved French darts, and the slight fishtail of the back skirt. So, I made a quick muslin of the bodice to check the fit, and went at it!


It’s been a long time since I’ve sewn a Burda pattern. I cut a 16 for the muslin, because that’s where my measurements took me. And I never, ever like tight. The muslin fit pretty well, except it was too wide across the chest, and a little large overall. But I was pleased that the dart points were not too high (lowering dart points is a pretty common thing for those of us who are a few – or more than a few – years beyond our 30s!) I was also pleased with how the back fit. This pattern has shoulder darts in the back. It seems like most patterns used to have them, but few do anymore. They really make the back fit more nicely. There is even slight shaping in the center front bodice seam. Because I originally thought I’d add sleeves, I also fit the sleeve pattern. This had an elbow dart, another thing that seems to be rare these days, but really improves the fit.

I didn’t want the high jewel neck. I knew I’d feel like I’m choking! I like necklines that fall just below my collar bones, so that’s where I drew in the new neckline. I also narrowed the shoulder width by 1/4 inch front and back, and adjusted 1/2″ for square shoulders. In addition, I lowered the right front shoulder 1/4″, because my right shoulder is slightly lower than the left, and if I don’t make this little alteration, the neckline on the right side always wants to gape.

Okay, time to cut. I didn’t have enough fabric to even try matching the large print, so I just cut randomly. I cut a 12 across the shoulders, 14 at the side seams, angling to 16 at the waist and hips.

The dress sews up easily. The only tricky part at all is those curved darts. The instructions say to slash the dart take-up in the center, then stitch. Instead of slashing, I cut a wedge out of the dart, leaving 3/8″ seam allowances.


This made it much easier to pin those curved lines together.


When stitching to the dart point, stitch all the way to the edge of the fabric, then stitch a few stitches off the edge. Lift up the presser foot, slide the fabric toward you for about 1/2 inch, then lower the presser foot and stitch several stitches in the dart to secure the threads. This makes a much prettier point than trying to backstitch.


Isn’t this a pretty dart?


After I stitched the bodice and skirt, I basted the side seams to check the fit. Still a little big. I ended up taking in almost all that I had added to the side seams. It ended up about a 12 at the underarms, and 14 at the hips. I took the side seams in about 3/8″ more at the waist to give just a bit more shaping. I also took in just a smidge at the center front seam at the neckline, merging into the seamline about 4″ below the neck, and I also took in the center front seam 1/4″ from below the bust to the skirt seam, and 1/4″ from the center front skirt seam at the waist, angling out to the original seamline.

I decided to make an exposed zipper, using a black zipper with a lacy tape from Ghee’s, like this, except mine is black.

When I tried on the dress again at this point, I decided I didn’t want the sleeves. The armholes fit very well with no gaps, and I think it looks nice sleeveless.

The patterns calls for a full lining, but I didn’t want that (nor did I have any stretch lining fabric) so I cut facings for the neck and armholes. I trimmed the seam allowances where they crossed in enclosed areas, such as the facings, to avoid bulk.


After the enclosed seam allowances were trimmed and clipped, I understitched. When doing this, press the seam allowance toward the facing, and stitch from the right side close to the seam. Spread the facing out so that the curve lies flat. This opens up the little clips in the seam allowance, and keeps the facing edge smooth and non-rolling.


I kind of like this little dress! It’s comfy and, I think, cute!






Florida, here I come!


To Quilt or Not To Quilt?

I don’t travel and teach much these days. I live about two-and-a-half hours from a medium-sized airport, so besides the normal hassles of air travel, I have the added long commute before and after a trip. Besides, I’m basically a hermit, most happy when I am at home with my hubby and my cats and my fabrics! But when I was asked to teach for a wonderful group of stitchers in Florida, I couldn’t say no. You see, back when I coordinated Project First Day for the school kids of Joplin after the devastating tornado five years ago, this group sent not just a few garments, but hundreds! They have ongoing charity sewing projects. They’re good people. So, I’m going to Florida soon!

One of the projects I’m going to teach is this “To Quilt or Not To Quilt” table topper. Lots of heirloom techniques! It’s pretty without quilting.


But I wanted to demonstrate how quilting can add an extra dimension to a project like this! So here is the same project (well, some of the laces are different, and the crazy patch center block is different) layered over taupe silk dupioni and quilted!

IMG_5812 (2)_2

I know quilting is not for everyone, and it takes a lot of practice to be able to do free-motion quilting smoothly (I quilt on a sit-down machine, not a longarm; in other words, I move the fabric, not the machine,) but it really is pretty! 🙂

Here are the techniques included, in both the unquilted and quilted versions:

Puffing with entredeux and lace insertionIMG_5804_2IMG_5815_2

Lace and Rickrack Bridging…(Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of the full unquilted block. But this lets you see the technique close up.)IMG_5806_2IMG_5819_2

Bias Linen AppliqueIMG_5803_2IMG_5814_2

Transparent Reverse AppliqueIMG_5802_2IMG_5821_2

Machine FaggotingIMG_5801_2IMG_5816_2

Lace Crazy Patch…IMG_5800_2IMG_5823_2

Many of these techniques are covered in detail in my class “Heirloom Sewing: More Classic Techniques,” which you can get for just just $24.99 here.

I spent days preparing the class kitsclass kit

In this nice little plastic bag are 11 pieces of pre-cut fabric, 3 pieces of pre-cut water-soluble stabilizer, an embroidered motif (which I made), 4 yds. of bias linen strips which I cut, rickrack, entredeux, and 3 kinds of lace (over 12 yds. total!)

I’m ready to head south!