Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Simple cowl-neck sweater dress

So as part of my aims for 2013 I want to make at least one pattern from each month's BurdaStyle magazine (preferably before that month is out!). Whilst not extortionate, the Burda subscription is not insignificant, and I definitely don't make the most of what I pay for it at the moment. However..... January is probably the most difficult month to start this as they always have the insane carnival costumes filling half the magazine. After much deliberation and reading through of reviews on Pattern Review and BurdaStyle Russia I settled on this quick project. Although I had to talk myself down from making the human centipede very hungry caterpillar costume:

Erm, just no.

Pattern description

BurdaStyle magazine 01/2013/123B. Simple straight-cut cowl neck tunic with extended shoulders forming cap sleeves.

Pattern sizing

34-42. I cut the 42 after measuring the pattern pieces. This worked out perfectly with the moderate stretch fabric I was using (if I was using a non-stretch fabric it would probably need to be graded up slightly over the hips).

Fabric used

Polyester-rayon-lycra mix animal print sweater-knit from, plus a scrap of black cotton jersey for the back neck facing and cowl weighting pouch.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope when you were done?


Were the instructions easy to follow?

I actually only glanced at the instructions to make sure what I was going to do was what Burda suggested (it was), but they actually seemed pretty clear to me - although it would be impressive if they made them complicated with only 2 pattern pieces and a facing!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

This was SUPER fast to sew up (it took about 2.5hrs total, including tracing the pattern pieces) and surprisingly it fit fine with absolutely no pattern changes. Whilst probably not the absolute most flattering shape on me, it's comfy and can be dressed up or down.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

For once, absolutely none! I decided against an FBA as cowl necks tend to have a fair amount of room at the front anyway, and this worked fine. Actually, I did make a tiny modification - I cut the back neck facing piece 1cm wider than the measurements given. As they have it, the facing piece ends up only 1cm wide when finished, which would be only just enough to cover the serger seams (especially with the slightly bulkier sweater knit I used).

Construction details

Very straightforward and the same order as the Burda instructions: attach back facing and topstitch down; finish cowl facing edge and sew shoulder seams; hem sleeve openings; sew side seams; hem bottom edge! I did everything on my serger (apart from the topstitching obviously). As my sweater knit is not super super drapey, I added a little pouch with a lead weight to the centre of the cowl facing to keep it draping better.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

It's pretty certain I will sew this again, not immediately as I have other things I want to make, but it will be a good "quickie" project between other more complicated things. One minor issue with this pattern is a familiar one for this shape of sleeve: side bra viewage. It's not too bad, but I might raise the bottom of the arm openings slightly next time so I can wear it comfortably without something underneath - as well as lengthening it an inch or two as it's pretty short on me. If I sew view A of this (the shorter "top" version) I would also probably shape the side seams at the waist a little so it's not too square without a belt.

I would definitely recommend it to others - it's a great project for beginners as it's so simple and quick to sew, without dealing with any fitting issues.


This is a great dress to sew up when you want something quick, simple and comfortable, and I think will be a versatile starting point for a variety of useful tunics and tops - as well as warmer sweater dresses like this, it will also be useful made in a lighter knit for the summer. This dress in particular I think will be worn a fair amount in the next few months - in fact I wore it out the night I made it to go to dinner and the cinema (this is the outfit in the photos here). Not a bad start to my Burda Challenge!


  1. You are definitely off to a great start! Love the fabric too :)

  2. Next time if you are looking for flattering shape you should seriously consider the centipede though ;o) Ok bad joke! Well done on the challenge...I signed up but got side-tracked for Feb issue...

  3. What a great tunic! I think the length is perfect for the trends right now.

  4. I love this, and you totally look great.