BS 2018-05-109 Off-the-shoulder dress

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Project: Burda Style magazine, May dress 109


Pattern (if you wanted to make this for yourself)


When my copy of Burda Style May arrived I was so excited to get started making all the gorgeous dresses!  I fell in love with 112 – the cross-over back, the flutter sleeves that would be perfect for summer in Japan; I couldn’t wait to make it.

Burda 2018-May
This gorgeous thing!

… but then I read “boning” in the description and decided maybe not.  Firstly I’ve know idea where I’d buy something like that here and secondly, a boned, tight-fitted bodice just sounds like a hot sweaty mess.  Summer should be full of loose, light floaty materials – nothing lined or tight. I’m wondering now if the pattern might work without the boning or I might just have to frankenpattern the best features of this dress on to a more suitable base.  

Anyway it was with 112 and 117(just you wait) in mind that I went fabric shopping…

May’s great offerings

And ended up buying fabric for 109, 114 and 113…. *sigh* I really am bad at shopping.

Choosing fabric

So I wasn’t even thinking about making 109 as I strolled around the fabric shop.  Sure the pattern is cute and I love shirt dresses, but I’ve had bad experiences with wrap dresses before.  What’s more, the way it was styled in the magazine made it look ‘worky’ but the off-the-shoulder look and low cut front mean I probably can’t actually wear it to the office.  It’s that awkward middle ground of too dull for the weekend but too risque for work.

2018-05-109 line drawing
Simple to make but when to wear?

… but then I spotted the PERFECT fabric for this dress, and all of the above went out the window.  It wasn’t until I’d paid for it and was leaving the store that I realised I had just signed myself up to making this thing.

The Fabric

I love Japanese prints and fabrics!  They are basically the whole reason I ever even bought a sewing machine to begin with.  So I’m a sucker for any traditional pattern that can be brought into a western style dress (洋服).  

This fabric was a new one for me, a seersucker cotton, リップル  サッカー”, usually used for japanese summer kimonos (Yukata) or night wear (jinbei).  I knew if I was going to have to wear long sleeves in summer, then choosing a good light-weight fabric would be vital.  Plus the lines of the seersucker reminded me of the lines in the original picture and I always find myself being influenced by the original fabric.  It’s white and features a lovely print of elegant black flowers and blue smudges.

It was also pretty damn cheap! About 800 yen per meter (7 USD approx). So in the end I’m pretty happy with my decision.

Creating the pattern

Was pretty easy to trace off although I just couldn’t be bothered with the two skirt pieces.  Instead I carefully traced the pleat markings on to 20cm thin stips. Then I measured the vertical length with a tape measure and cut the rectangles.  This used much less pattern paper. If the shoulder strap placement was marked on the pattern I totally missed it, but that was fine.

Cutting out

Very easy. The stripes of the seersucker made aligning the grainline simple.  But at the same time, the stripes weren’t so prominent as to drive me mad trying to make it perfect.  I also cut the majority of it out on the folder rather than as a single layer. Apart from the back skirt piece, why would you need to do this, Burda?


Followed mostly as described in the instructions, apart from when I hilariously mistook the shoulder straps for the cuffs and ended up making a sleeve fit for a toddler.  I also went ahead and finished off the fastening bands before attaching the collar. Had I done it properly the raw ends of the collar would have been neatly hidden by the button band.  But as it is, it’s a bit of a bodge job that’s just about hidden by the collar itself.

Snaps and button placement was also a pile of fun – I had to sew, un-pick and reposition them many times to get the dress to lie flat across my chest.

Pattern problems

My biggest gripe with this pattern is – why is the under-skirt pleated?  The over-lapped and underlapped pleats interfere with each other, pushing out, this creates a lot of bulk over the tummy.  Not a flattering look for anyone! I really wish this had occurred to me during construction, I would have skipped the pleats and had it lie flat.  In fact if a good washing and ironing doesn’t fix this I’ll probably go back in and unpick the left skirt and redo it. It’ll be mostly hidden so it won’t have to be perfect.


This was a lovely dress to wear.  It’s kind of poofy around the middle in these pictures but it was great for our picnic.  It also had a bit of a medieval feeling too, perhaps a little Tudoresque. The long skirt and bishop sleeves are perfectly on trend right now – And I think it will look great for the summer fireworks festivals!

What do you think?


1 comments on “BS 2018-05-109 Off-the-shoulder dress”

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