Thursday, November 6, 2014

Couture-worthy garments in Burdastyle November

I like writing reviews, but considering how many people may review one and the same magazine I thought I'd go beyond my personal picks and give you an overview of the garments that can benefit from couture construction. 

So, here are my picks:

109A, Burdastyle magazine 11/2014
I like this foulard coat (#109A) a lot. The pattern mix is beautiful, and meticulous sewing will make it look luxurious. I would love to make this coat, but finding the right fabrics will be impossible here in Cyprus... Interestingly, Burdastyle suggests underlining this coat with fine mesh - first time I see it in a commercial pattern magazine. There are different underlining options to hold the structure I think. For a lightweight construction - silk organza is a good choice. For a drapier and heavier feel I can imagine using cotton batiste, or something slightly less lightweight. Or you can go even heavier and more structure with cotton flannel. I think the latter would be my favourite.

112, Burdastyle magazine 11/2014

This skirt has an unusual yoke, front pleat and a beautiful belt. BurdaStyle version is made in silk crepe-de-chine, which can be challenging because the seams that connect the yoke with the skirt are off grain. You can see puckering in these areas on the picture. In addition, the yoke looks somewhat droopy. Underlining the yoke, and the skirt, would help.  In addition, careful handling of fabric and hand basting is necessary with this style. Finally, I think, if you are reluctant to sew with silk, wool crepe is an excellent choice for this skirt as well, especially for the colder season.

105 A, Burdastyle magazine 11/2014
This blouse is very simple, but in silk it can become a staple for the office,  or formal and special occasion wardrobe. It looks excellent with these cropped pants and heels or a pencil skirt. The neckline and the back slit is finished with a facing, hems are blind stitched. There is an illustrated tutorial for this blouse in the magazine, and I see no reason to do it differently. If you choose lightweight silk you can up the game by underlining with self-fabric to give the blouse a heavier drape and hand-overcasting the seam allowances to avoid bulk.

The following six dresses are a Burdastyle take on iconic gowns from the Hollywood classics. There are only a few occasions in life when you can wear a dress like one of those below, but if you are in need of a wedding or prom dress... Making them using couture construction would be the only option for me. It would be impossible to squeeze in the techniques that you could use so I will just limit it to a very few notes about the garment.

107, Burdastyle magazine 11/2014
This dress is inspired by the dress worn by Leslie Caron in An American in Paris (1951). It requires 6.5 meters of crepe - chiffon (one of the most difficult fabrics to work with, if not the most difficult), and 2.5 of silk charmeuse to underline the main dress. More than a half of the fabric is used to cut circular flounces, which are not finished and hang more or less free, stitched to the skirt only along first few centimetres. Cutting this dress would take a while, but the effect is well worth it.

118, Burdastyle magazine 11/2014
A Ginger Alstaire dress that she wore in Swing Time (1936). The full-circle skirt is pleated giving it a great swing. I am not a big fan of the pleated and bowed collar, but love the overall silhouette - I am just a big fan of 30s fashion. The dress is made in crepe. A mix with synthetic fibre is suggested to make the pleating hold.

119. Burdastyle magazine 11/2014
Casino Royale (2006) dress worn by Eva Green. Here is a garment that doesn't use thaat much fabric, doesn't require pleating, and the crepe it is made of is not as difficult to work with. What you will need though is some skill working with boning. Susan Khalje's Bridal Couture is an excellent reference book for a garment like this.

120, Burdastyle magazine 11/2014
Now, who doesn't know this dress worn by Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (1990)? The biggest problem with the Burdastyle version is the draping, which is much much more subtle on the original. Why not drape chiffon over crepe - it would create much finer folds?

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Berenice Marlohe wore a very similar dress as a Bond Girl in Skyfall (2012). The original has 60,000 crystals all applied by hand, and it took half a year to finish the dress. It doesn't have draping on the centre front and back, which, in my opinion, is a redundant detail in the Burdastyle version. If I was to make this dress I would eliminate the draping ( it easy - just trace lining pattern pieces) and work with beaded lace. The dress requires 2.5 m of lace, and after cutting there are always enough scraps left for a striking appliqué along the seamlines on the black crepe.

122, Burdastyle magazine 11/2014
Phew, the final and favourite one. This five-meter duchesse dress is inspired by the piece worn by Merilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953). I could also make a simpler version for an evening dress, shortening the length and removing the overskirt/train. I love dreaming, you know) Boning is a must here too, but overall it is not really difficult to make. 

Ok, finally, after talking so much couture, I have an instant (!) gratification project to add. This coat is just that. Very easy to make, I would probably go for boiled wool with a print, no need to finish the seams beyond stitching close to the edge (just in case). It's an easy style for a casual stroll in the city. Love it.  

116, Burdastyle magazine 11/2014
What about you? Have you found anything interesting in the latest issue of Burdastyle magazine? What projects are you looking for now, with only a few weeks left before Thanksgiving and Christmas? 


  1. Thanks for that post! I love the skirt - thinking about sewing it :)

  2. Marina, I LOVE this post! I love reading your thought process behind a hypothetical couture approach to these dresses (and I can't say enough about the dress designs themselves, +1 Burda, for sure). I personally learn more from sewing blogs when the blogger articulates the hows and whys behind doing something one way or not doing something one way. I would love to see more posts like this from you - how to elevate a pattern or garment construction into couture and the whys behind a particular approach to get to a certain result, whether or not you actually make the pattern yourself. (I'm guessing it's also a less time-consuming type of post to write, a mishmash of an in-depth pattern review and hypothetical construction details, compared to actual construction post.)

    Question on the chiffon dress - if chiffon frays by breathing on it the wrong way, and the edges aren't finished...does the dress actually last beyond one wear? I know, a dress like that isn't meant to be everyday wear, but still...

    1. Thank you!

      the flounces are circular, so, they are on a bias, but most of it not on a true bias. They may fray very little , but with proper care (dry cleaning and careful storage) the dress will last

  3. What a great post, and thank you for taking the time to do this. It really does help those of us who are just delving into the fine points of sewing better garments. I, too, love the foulard coat (#109A), and I have several lengths of Japanese brocade which I think would work for it.

    But I have a question. The hem in the picture is obviously not pressed. Is that the usual handling of this type of fabric? To me, even a light pressing would be preferable, but is there a reason fabric-wise or couture-wise for this?

    1. The hem looks like this because of the soft mesh they used to underline the coat. Soft hems are common in couture clothing. You achieve it by underlining the fabric, and sometimes even padding the hem with a band of flannel, or more lightweight options. However, if you want a crisper look - press it. After all it is a personal preference.

  4. A great post! But I agree that there is just too much draping going on.

    If the chiffon ruffles are cut on the bias they won't fray at all. The wonders of fabric...!

  5. Thank you so much for this post. I don't have your knowledge but was hoping to make the skirt in a winter-suitable fabric. You've given me that push.

  6. Thanks so much for this post - I am going to have to get this magazine. I do have a bit of a Ginger Rogers obsession. Seeing that black and white dress made me screech a bit too loud! I dare say those pleats are actually done by a pleating company, they are too perfect. However, that aside I love it and I hope that Burda are reading this and knowing how much we love this classic stylish beauties.

    1. Thank you too ) The pleats have to be done by a pleating company, unless you can find pre-pleated fabric and match it to the bodice. I think Mood had a small selection of pre-pleated blends. And I saw some in Vienna's Komolka, back in summer.

  7. A couple of those gowns have my name on them :)
    An oddly enough, I'm doing a cocoon coat similar to the last piece posted for an upcoming Fabulous Free Pattern Friday piece. Thanks Marina :)

    1. Oh, I will be looking forward to your Friday piece!

  8. Great review! Interesting to read how you would take these patterns up a notch - it's very inspiring.

  9. I am crazy for the foulard coat. Would like to make it in print cottons with a light lining, so many ways to go with this. Like doing a quilt!

  10. Thanks for the review.I would love to make the foulard coat. I do agree that finding the right fabric will be challenging.

  11. Thank you so much for this review. I love how you analyze the garment. Very thoughtful, very helpful. ~Teri



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