But of course I couldn’t make it black and white. Friends would probably worry about my health if they saw me in clothes without colour. So instead:
Where the white was replaced with a large-scale multi-colour floral on a black background. Both are cotton satins, not at all stretchy–and despite Burda’s directions, given the ease and boxy fit, you don’t need stretch. This is my now-standard 38/40 combo and it is nowhere near tight. I probably could have gone down another size, particularly given the faux-wrap in the front and the walking room it provides.
It’s not a really complicated pattern, once you have it traced and cut out. Tracing the pieces out correctly and cutting everything out on grain so that the print is aligned over the bands is the hardest part. Also a note of warning, in case you overlooked it as I did: Both sides of the front have a facing on the bottom rather than a hem, so don’t add a hem allowance, just a regular seam allowance. And the instructions will try to tell you that underlining the facings will keep them in place, but the skirt will laugh in your face if that’s all you do. Some extra stitching is needed to keep them from flopping down at the bottom.
The skirt front is two pieces when constructed: the right hand side with all the bands on it, and the left hand side underneath that is all cut out of the main fabric with two standard darts. You then baste them together across the top and treat them as one piece for the construction of the skirt.
I really like it. It’s boxy but comfortable and striking with the large print and the bands. Plus it has so many bright colours in it that it kind of matches by accident with half the shirts in my closet.
It might also be fun to make up with a solid for the main skirt and the print on the bands, if you like the overall pattern but find this a bit much. I’m a fan of a Bit Much personally, so this works for me.
Edna St Vincent Millay is one of my favourite poets. Besides packing stadiums for poetry readings during the Depression–besides writing whip-cracking cynical gems alongside her better known odes to springtime and nature–she also broke every convention for women in her day, and thrived for it, including a lifelong open marriage. One can’t say her work reflects in general a commitment to a responsible adulthood:
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
My guess is that her version of burning the candle at both ends was not the 21st century supermom version, where you’re working 40 hours or more officially, and then going home and working another 40 unofficially, basically burning that candle out in service to everyone but yourself. We all have to pay the bills and, if there are small people in our lives who depend on us for care, we need to follow through; in all lives a little obligation must fall. But not only obligation. Right?
Millay was, from all accounts, an expert at identifying at separating out what she actually had to do (or not do) from what other people told her that she had to do (or not do), and then utterly ignoring the latter whenever it suited her. I’ve read that she and Sarah Teasdale (another poet from the same time period, but a bit older) had a falling out when Teasdale realized that Millay had no intention of becoming Teasdale’s version of a proper young lady. Teasdale committed suicide; Millay died of old age; at the risk of oversimplifying well past the bounds of good taste, enough said.
I guess this means there may be more Millay in this blog’s future, at least for title inspiration. And now allow me to segue awkwardly from this poem/blog title to the sewing project:
It does look kind of like a dress you could burn the candle at both ends in, doesn’t it? Fine for work. Good for weekend socializing. Also good for late nights and dancing. I’ve now proved this for all three.
So I love this dress. I even wore it back to the fabric store where I bought the linen (Downtown Fabrics on Queen W if any of you are curious–but I didn’t see any left when I was there on Saturday) and the store owner thought I did it justice, and I have it on good authority that it’s moderately flattering, but it’s not without its problems.
Nice bodice construction. Two-piece sleeves with a dart at the cap for a great shape with lots of movement (that I shortened to make it summery). Good, fitted skirt with a flounce gives lots of space for walking and, yes, dancing.
Waistband does not sit on the waist.
The line drawings make it look like it should, and so does the photo of the dress laid flat.
Put it on the model, and you can see the bottom of the waist band is about where her actual waist is.
I didn’t notice this until I sewed it up, tried it on, squawked, and went back and looked at the magazine photo. It does the same on me.
This was frustrating, as I chose the size of the waistband pieces based on how they would fit on my waist, not on my ribs. Thus it’s a bit snug there, but I expect it will loosen up over time. Consequently this means there is also more ease on my actual waist than I planned; I snugged it in a bit during construction and I may do so again if it proves to be really too loose, but it is comfortable.
Also, the waistband pieces don’t match the darts/seamlines on the bodice.
Why the hell not, I don’t know.
I traced 38 there for everything, and it matched on the bottom, but the waistband side seams do not match the side seams on the bodice. However the total length of the waistband was a perfect (if rib-constraining) match with the bodice at that seam.
I gave myself a 1″ FBA on the princess seams, and it worked out just about perfectly. I also reduced the width and length of the back pieces before cutting the fabric based on what’s worked for previous woven dresses, which means zipper installation was slightly less frustrating than it sometimes is. So this was a first try for this pattern and barring some fairly easily corrected issues, it went together nicely and fit well. I’ll make a fall/winter version with long sleeves, assuming I can find a nice winter-ish dress fabric with just a bit of stretch.
I should be a size 40/44, but I cut a size 38/40 with a FBA on the bodice and some me-specific alterations elsewhere. It does have a fair bit of ease, which is odd considering they state explicitly that you should choose only dress fabrics with stretch. This completely not-stretchy-linen handled the sizing down just fine, barring the ribs thing. I’d measure the waistband pattern pieces and compare to your preferred waist fit to find your desired starting size-but be careful and check to make sure that the length of the bodice pieces will put the waistband actually on or near your waist.
The website says this is meant for jerseys and knits; the magazines says “dress fabrics with or without elastane,” which I take to mean wovens. As I went shopping for fabrics with my phone and not the magazine, I bought a poly jersey, and only figured out that might not have been what they had in mind when it came time to install the zipper–which, as it’s jersey, I skipped with no issues.
At any rate:
It’s cute, eh?
It was a bit bigger than it should have been, but that might have been the fabric choice. I’d have to make it up again in a proper woven to see how that affects the fit. The neckline is a bit wobbly–I’m not a fan but I see it on the sample photo so my guess is that was intentional. I’d take it out next time though, and probably change it to a deeper scoop.
Alterations are challenging given the way it’s put together, but I made what I think are my standard alterations.
The pattern goes together well and it is an interesting and well-thought-out design. The gore is a nice, very swishy touch; but it does alter the line somewhat from a sheath dress in my opinion.
Me: When I told him I wasn’t going to see him again he said “you will always continue to know me.” I thought that was pretty ominous so I told him not to contact me again. He was traveling a lot this summer and I thought that by the time he came back things would have blown over, but instead it was escalating. Just before I went on vacation, for example, a group of us went dancing. He grabbed me and started dancing without asking and, when he saw I was looking pretty miserable (seeing as I was feeling pretty miserable), he said, “It wouldn’t cost you a lot of money to smile, you know.” Then the next day at a dancing class he was there and he got … gropey when it was my turn to dance with him, then afterwards he was telling all kinds of insulting jokes and saying awful things about women to try to provoke me into reacting. I don’t even think he wants to date me, not really. I think he’s just punishing me for saying no.
H: It could be both, really.
Me: I guess … Then a few days later there was another class and he was there again and he was gropey again, and afterwards he was just following me around trying to bully me into a conversation. I’d ignore him and walk away and he’d just follow me around. He wouldn’t stop. So I got fed up and left and he followed me into the parking lot and stood knocking on my driver’s side door while I started up the car and drove away.
H: Are you going to call the police?
Me: I will if I have to. I’m not planning on it yet. I’ve gone through things like this before and in my experience the police are pretty useless. They won’t do anything, they won’t even take a report, until after he’s basically punched you in the face. So, probably not. And besides, they’d only tell me to stop dancing.
H: That’s upsetting.
Me: It is. It’s really very unhelpful. It’s kind of a crap world to be a woman in, isn’t it?
H: Have you thought about getting a gun?
H: Well–I’m South African, so I have different experiences with guns than you do, but I’m not kidding.
Me: Oh. Um, no, I don’t think I’m going to get a gun. I don’t–I’ve told a bunch of people about what’s going on and they’re helping me to enforce some boundaries and distance. I’m going to see how that works out before I–but I’m not going to get a gun.
H: It’s something to think about.
Me: Uh… I mean. I have gone through this before. Eventually they do leave you alone. Like in about six months. They get bored and stop. You just have to not interact, not react, not engage, at all. It’s just getting to that point is a huge pain in the ass.
H: Are you afraid?
Me: … Somewhat. It’s the escalation. But we’ll see in a few weeks, what’s going on then. I wish I had a better radar for this kind of thing. It’s just ridiculous that this keeps happening. I have to be doing something or …. One of the women in my dancing class was telling me that she’s seen him doing this thing when we go out for dinner, where he’ll just pester whatever woman is sitting closest to him to eat a french fry. And she can say no a dozen times and he’ll just keep pushing. He tried it on her once and she just kept saying no, and she said it took him five minutes or so to stop asking. Stupidly of course he tried it on me and I ate the damned french fry. But it seemed like such a small thing so I didn’t even think of it, except that’s probably how he figured out I’d be his next target. And I can’t even say that if someone else tried something like that, that I wouldn’t fall for it again.
H: Yeah, I don’t know either.
Predators do indeed test or “groom” their victims. They intentionally violate boundaries in small ways and wait to see your reaction. Then they up the ante. An example of this could be as simple as insisting on eating pizza on a date if you have expressed not liking it.
Let’s pause briefly for some Basic Important Safety Stuff: “No” is a complete sentence. If you say “no,” and the other person keeps talking and trying to convince you to go along with whatever it is they want, do what you can to extract yourself from the situation. This person is trying to manipulate you, and you don’t have to let yourself be manipulated. And if you hear a “no” from someone, the correct response is to back off immediately. No insults, no whining, no pressure. Just say “Okay, sorry to hear it” and move away.
In real life, being overly persistent is not romantic. It is called harassment. Sure, sometimes a little persistence is necessary to win someone over, but incessant badgering to the point of making a girl uncomfortable is not going to get you anywhere. If a girl smiles politely and says, “That’s very kind, but no thank you,” she is not playing hard to get. She does not want you to “get” her. She is simply not interested.
Perhaps the worst part about persistence is when a guy realizes his defeat, refuses to accept it, and still subjugates a girl to unwanted attention. Let me make this clear: if we reject you, WE. DO. NOT. WANT. TO. HUG. YOU. Don’t try to play the good guy. Don’t act all sweet or ask us to press our bodies against yours. Not only is it humiliating and extremely uncomfortable, but it makes us look like heartless bitches if we say no. We do not want to give you a hug.
The instructions! The complexity! The lack of seam allowances!
But it was the only place I could find a nice dress pattern I could adjust to fit my daughter, that would work with the kind of knit we’d already bought for her holiday dress (a shiny panne velour, in a bright cobalt/navy blue). So I decided to gird my loins and enter the battle of Burda.
And found myself strolling through a park. Dear Readers, it was not hard. It was a dress pattern. Yes, I had to add 5/8″ seam allowances, but other than that … you know … sew the yoke to the bodice, join the shoulders, the sides, make up the sleeves, add the sleeves, gather the skirt, sew it on, hem. I hardly even had to look at the instructions.
The bias trim in velour on the neckline and sleeve hems turned out to be a bit tricky, but not that bad.
The adjustments didn’t work out quite as well as her last dress, but purely my fault; I added girth to the front, but no length, so the front waist seam is not level on her. I also had to make up two sets of sleeves, as the first was too narrow. But it was an easy fix and we had lots of extra fabric, and this happens with all the woven shirts I make for her. She also asked me to make it ankle-length, which I was happy to do and which used up all of the extra velour.
I even decided to make it a bit more difficult by using lace binding on the hem to ease the excess in, so it’s all catch-stitched. There’s no wonky top-stitching on the velour, and there’s no weird bubbling from excess fullness, so it worked out. Again, not so bad.
It’s a nice dress that fits her well and falls well within her preferred grey-and-blue colour scheme. But of course, she had Christmas at her dad’s and didn’t wear it there and then forgot to bring it home so couldn’t wear it here … so it’s still waiting for its perfect debut opportunity.
In the meantime: Burda! Not as terrifying as previously reported. I will definitely try their patterns again.