What the hell is THIS ? (Burda 113 06/2012)

I was naughty and it was therefore my own fault that I got caught.  There is no one else to blame but me and karma came my way and kicked me in the ass.  I stole.  Plain and simple.  And I won't do it again – promise.

Burda criminal

Caught stealing sewing patterns

It's just that I wanted to sew a nice dress, and I didn't have the right pattern.  Burda magazine isn't available here (although I have now signed up for an international subscription), and my fabric shop doesn't sell patterns apart from a few things for kids.  And I had this fabric just calling out to be made into a dress.  All these are excuses of course – I still stole.  🙁

Photos of this dress and line drawings from the pattern, courtesy of Burda Style

While doing a search for a Burda magazine subscription to send from overseas, I actually came across a place where I could download a PDF of previous Burda magazines AND the patterns that came with them.  It was wrong of me I know, but I saw this dress and I had to HAVE IT.


These pictures don't look so great – but in the magazine -6/2012 there is a fabulous photo of the model coming down some stairs with this dress on, and it just looks so flattering, drapes so nicely.  It had to be mine

Burda dress pattern

So I printed out the PDF of the (stolen) pattern sheets and cut out the pattern pieces according to my sizing being very careful with all of those competing lines.  And I cut the fabric and sewed.  Of course it was awful from the start.  The dress is supposed to fit around the body under the bust with a zipper at the middle back.  So if I made up the right size, why was it 4 inches too big there?  Same old story every single time with commercial patterns – they are always HUGE.  I still don't get it.

So I adjusted the back and the sides and got an approximate enough fit around the body.  Although the zip is crappy and I planned to redo this later.  But then came the right mess up – the bust pieces are self lined and once attached at the front (in a VERY deep V neck), they are supposed to go over the shoulders and meet the back of the dress and be gathered in there – see pattern illustration above.

Burda dress pattern

Unflattering flat and saggy chest – no thanks, I'll skip it

Except mine didn't reach.  Not by an inch or two, but by 6 inches or more too short.  What the hell?  Is my bustline so much lower than the average person?  This is a Burda pattern for their Tall range so there should have been plenty of length.

And I didn't have any fabric left over to either cut new straps or put on some kind of extension.  They did however just meet behind my neck so I had to reluctantly make this into a halter dress. The pattern is the same as the one on the Burda site for the longer version with the halter neck here.

In the blue dress above where the bust pieces go up and over the shoulders to form ‘sleeves' they sit nice and flat against the chest and are angled more up and outwards.  But if instead they are then pulled into the middle to tie behind the beck, they don't sit nicely at all.  As you can see the halter neckline version is all gapey and very revealing at the front.  And so was mine – downright nasty.

I hate to have an unfinished project, so I finished off with a modesty panel in the front and a couple of little tubes on each side above the bust to gather in the fabric into the halter straps.  But the bust pieces are just all wrong for me, they are so flat and shapeless, and I look all saggy and flat chested.  Overall the dress is very bad and will NEVER be worn other than for these photos.  I'm even pretty reluctant to show them here because they make me look so odd.  It's already been screwed up and thrown in the scraps pile.

So I wasted a very nice piece of fabric and hours of my time and got all frustrated for nothing to show for it.  As I said – Karma.

Burda 113 06/2012

My continuing challenges with getting commercial patterns to fit me has just about driven me to fabric violence.  Even if I make up a test piece before sewing, and find that it doesn't fit, I often have no idea what alterations are needed in order to get a good fit, especially with everything I make generally starting off huge – do I need to re-cut the entire lot in a different size or can I just ‘take it in' and adjust?  How can I pick a good size to begin with so that I need less alterations – I follow the sizing on the pattern envelope and clearly its not working for me!

Big 4 pattern companies - you promised it would fit me.  What do you have to say now !

Big 4 pattern companies – you promised it would fit me. What do you have to say now !

I thought about the last time I had a real challenge when sewing – the cowl neck dress.  It finished off very nicely, but the fabric was a nightmare to sew with – so I signed up for more sewing training and took the Sewing With Knits course from Craftsy.  I've still to actually finish some of the course projects from the free patterns included, but I learned so much that all of my knit fabric sewing projects have been a great success since.

Craftsy - Sew the Perfect Fit class

It's about time that I learned how to fit clothes properly and how to make the correct alterations – it's going to save me a LOT of frustration, and also will save me a lot of wasted time and wasted fabric.  So I decided Craftsy can help me again and they just have so many great classes to chose from, but one seemed to fit the problem perfectly:  Sew the Perfect Fit.

I am really excited by the class description and content:

Learn how to alter your patterns to achieve a flattering fit for your body. Fit specialist Lynda Maynard teaches fitting techniques you can use to customize any pattern to your shape.

“Let's be honest: Sewing patterns rarely fit perfectly right out of the envelope. Real people don't match the mannequins for which garments are tailored. Luckily, sewing instructor Lynda Maynard teaches techniques you can use to determine fitting issues and adjust a muslin directly on the body. Learn how to use grain lines to make proper alterations, and how to reflect those changes on the Vogue pattern included FREE with this class. Set yourself up with a wardrobe that fits and flatters your own shape, so you'll always look and feel fabulous!

What You'll Learn

  • Determining proper fit
  • Constructing and preparing a muslin
  • Spotting common fitting issues
  • Adjusting a muslin directly on the body
  • Transferring your adjustments to the pattern
  • Truing for perfect pattern and grain lines “


I've got quite a few projects in mind at the moment, and have started some and failed spectacularly, so this is just in time.  My blogging has dropped off a little as I don't have much to show for my sewing time recently.  But if I can find the time to watch these classes, I KNOW that my next projects will perhaps take me longer to work on, but in the end will fit me properly and be something I can be proud of!


Online Sewing Class

Authored by: Deby at So Sew Easy

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What?? I think the dress looks awesome. The color, the style, looks great. Just my humble and unschooled opinion, but I think we’ve gotten so used to that generic bustline look from the ubiquitous push-up bras that everyone wears, so that a woman’s individual bust, with no padding, pushing, or arranging, doesn’t seem to look right to us. I look at old movies from time to time, and yeah, there’s some fabulous pin-up stars with voluptuous bust-lines but there’s also Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, so many others who aren’t that well endowed by today’s Victoria Secret standards but still, WOW, are they gorgeous. Sorry for the boob rant, you didn’t ask for it, but in my opinion your dress wasn’t a waste of time, it looks fabulous!


I think the dress looks amazing and I think you should be really proud of yourself that you were able to take something that didn’t work and make it work. That is what they do on that show Project Runway and it shows real talent and creativity. Brava!

Natalie Buehler (@Marigoldsloft)
Natalie Buehler (@Marigoldsloft)

I can so understand you – I have made many a Burda pattern in my time (In fact I will be attempting another one in the next couple of days) and as wonderful as they look in the images they just never finish up that good! Once I made some yoga pants, and measure and remeasured myself as, according to the pattern, I was suddenly 2 sizes larger. Anyway, after all was done, I literally could put both legs in one pant leg :O, so annoying!
Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your post over on Tutorial Thursdays Linky Party, I can’t wait to see what you share this week, your posts are always great 🙂
Marigolds’ Loft

Bethany the ngnrdgrl
Bethany the ngnrdgrl

Funny post about getting caught by Karma. I tend to agree with some of the others. Your photos don’t look unflattering. I’m sure if we saw the dress in person and up close, we might see more of the flaws that you are seeing. I think you saved the goof up pretty good by making it a halter and adding a modesty panel.

The Craftsy course sounds perfect! Can’t wait to see you progressing with your skills. When I worked at the fabric shop, my boss always said to plan on making every new project in threes, because the first one will be screwed up, the second will be good, but by the time you make the third, it will be perfect.

Keep it up and don’t get discouraged!

Lilibud's Garden
Lilibud's Garden

new follower http://lilibudsgarden.blogspot.com/ cute story


I measure key points on me, for example my waist, then measure the same part on the pattern pieces allowing for seams. So if back is all one piece I halve my waist measurement first then compare. This will show you how much ease there is in the pattern. It depends on the style if the garment as to how much is needed. For a fitted style you don’t need 4″! This should help you decide which size on the pattern to use. Hope tis helps and makes sense as I don’t think I’ve explained it very well!

EveryDay Bloom (@EveryDayBloom)
EveryDay Bloom (@EveryDayBloom)

I have an old (old old) Elizabeth Bishop (whoever she was) manual on common fitting issues and how to solve them. Some of it makes sense, and some of it makes me feel…very amateur. It was my grandma’s book. Usually referring to the finished measurements on the pattern (in tiny, tiny print…usually only at the bust, waist, and hips) saves me from making things way out of proportion. But yes, I always have to alter patterns. And every once in a while I’m just stunned, like you were, by how far off the pattern is from what it promises.

Your dress still does look nice. Lynaea @ EveryDayBloom.com

Lavender Dreams

I could relate to your post! I remember years ago, making my own clothes. They always looked terrible on me but it was the economical route. Now I realize, we wouldn’t buy a nice dress at a store without trying it on….but that’s what we are doing when we sew. All of the time and effort…and expense. I wouldn’t do it again. I love to sew but not clothes! You are a beautiful lady!


What a “catchy” post. Saw your link at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia. Cute blog!

Jenny Hall - Seamingly Smitten sewing patterns

I love the fabric you chose and the color! It actually drapes really well and I like that it came out halter style – it looks very beachy and chic!

Jenny Hall
Seamingly Smitten sewing patterns owner/designer


Honestly (and I’m a very judgemental person) I think that dress looks great on you. Not to be weird, but you have a great figure and I think the dress looks awesome.

This is my first visit to your blog so I have not seen any other photos of you to reference, but that’s just my two cents on this subject!

No, the dress on you and the dress on that other woman don’t look the same. But not in a bad way at all.

Well done!


I was thinking that the modesty panel looked great.

I used to sew all my clothes, but poor eyesight, lack of time, and great deals at TJ Maxx have left me to just sewing pillows and quilts.


So funny. I don’t sew. I can’t handle the grief. I loved reading your account since apparently you are quite good at it being that you make actual clothing to wear and even you were at wits end. To me your dress is really cute and I thought your final fix looked way better than the original gapey neck on the model. We are our own worst critic. I ‘m sorry for your pain and that your stealing didn’t work out for you. It seems it rarely does. LOL. Hope you have a great week!

Pam G

I disagree, I think the dress looks very nice on you. I love the fabric, what is it?


Loved your post!!!


Well, the dress isn’t that bad, in my opinion. You managed to save it pretty well 😉 and Burda sizes are HUGE, I never look too carefully at their size table (or at other German magazines’ size table ) because I know they will be too large if I make the size they say. I’m an Italian 46, but with Burda (or Modellina, or Diana, other German sewing magazines), I’m 42, even if for their size table, I should cut the 46 or even the 48;) ). so, try again, this time, with a smaller size where you had issues, and an advice I was given on the Italian sewing forum: always measure the pattern pieces!!!


Love the dress and your version is much better. The fabric is glorious and you were so right to make a dress out of it. I love your blog. I just posted a skirt I sewed. Take a look and tell me what you think.
Debbie @ One Day at a Time


I have never followed a pattern. If I can’t figure it out by looking at it, I just don’t try. I started out just doing simple cut and tie alterations to t-shirts, then I handsewed everything I wanted to make, now I have a sewing machine and should probably move on to a more precise way of making things…


P.S. Big boobs are highly over rated ! Would love to be a flat chested ! Its all the rage in hollywood . Gatsby . some one doesnt get big boos without a big bum ! Unless you buy them there fake ones ! LOL God bless


I think your version of this dress is lovely and tastfull I love the added panel . sandels and a sun hat plus sun screen . wha la WONDERFUL ! SIMPLY WONDERFUL.

Heather M
Heather M

I think you did an amazing job! I’m a newbie sewing person though. With two kids under two I haven’t had a chance to sew as much as I want, but I love this dress and your feisty courage and success make me want to get the machine plugged in again! Found you via Design Décor and following. Heather M, http://www.RockStew.com


Commercial patterns are pretty notorious for their ill fit–on me, they are always too wide across the back and I have to alter the pattern before cutting the fabric or it just doesn’t lay right on my body. The best way to make garments is really to draft your own basic block and that way you have an exact replica of your body measurements to go by, then all of your patternmaking can go from there. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never go back to commercial 🙂

The dress actually looks fine–it’s just not what you had imagined, hence the disappointment. I quite like it on you!


Commercial patterns are always a gazillion times too big for me! Uck! Anyway, I like your dress, and I think the ‘modesty panel’ looks good. I have a really small chest, so most things end up looking blah on me. They’re supposed to be revealing and tempting and whatever, but it usually looks like two sad, under used tents are flopping about on my dress!


I think the dress looks fine, but I know what you mean, it always comes back o bite if you don’t do it legit. Relax, I think everyone has done it one time or another.

Christy@Confessions of a Serial DIYer

I think that dress turned out pretty darned good!! I think you really saved the top with the adjustments you made. We are always our own worst critic!!


I, also, do not think the dress looks as bad as you think. It is a lovely fabric and beautiful color on you, and with your figure you carry it off quite well! I do understand your issues with it, but you did a very good job altering the pattern. Looks like a good class to take. **happy smiles** Deborah

Bonny @ TheDomesticatedPrincess.com
Bonny @ TheDomesticatedPrincess.com

Thanks for sharing your story. The fabric looks beautiful, and I’m impressed with your sewing skills for being able to make so many adjustments. While I don’t think the dress is as awful as you believe, I agree that it isn’t what you were hoping for. I’ve yet to follow a pattern for myself for this very reason. I guess I better stick with children’s patterns because they are way more forgiving.

Donna Wilkes
Donna Wilkes

I am short and round – I quit sewing years ago because I had to make so many alterations to the patterns available.