Monday, 21 October 2013

Batwing sleeve dress

Straight onto my next Burda Challenge - and I'm nearly up to date... There's actually a few patterns from this issue that I'd like to make. I wasn't particularly enamoured with this issue when I first saw it, but I always like to have a look at what's been sewn up the the users on the Russian BurdaStyle website. The creations of the talented and speedy women there inspired me with several choices, but I settled on this dress after seeing this version of the similar pattern number 108, with the dress more fitted.

Pattern description

BurdaStyle Magazine 09/2013/107: Loose fitting dress with draped batwing sleeves and slash neckline. I altered it heavily so that it was a fitted dress, and didn't add the star.

Pattern sizing

34-44. I cut my usual 42 on top and 44 on the bottom.

Fabric used

Teal/petrol RPL doubleknit and leopard print poly ITY, both from

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

Not really, as I altered the fit quite substantially.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

To be honest, I didn't actually look at the instructions. The changes I'd made to the pattern meant that the construction didn't really apply, plus it's basically three pattern pieces with some facings.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I really really like the sleeves in this pattern. To be honest, I made so many changes to the main dress pieces that I can't really comment on those. From what I'd seen on other makes (have a look at the versions on the Russian Burda website), the main dress is really, well, sack-like. Although, to be fair, I didn't adjust the fit on the skirt below the hipline, and this is drafted really nicely, with just the right amount of shaping to flatter.

The sleeves on the other hand are awesome. The draping is just the right amount to add movement and interest but without completely swamping the silhouette.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made


Most of the changes I made were in the fit of the main part of the dress. I compared the pattern pieces to my stretch block, and made the adjustments widthwise according to that, allowing for a little more ease than I normally draft as I wanted the dress semi-fitted, not skin-tight (plus I was using a doubleknit for the dress, which has less stretch than the jersey the block was drafted for). I know that the back darts in Burda patterns fit me quite well, so I left those exactly as is, but added a CB seam.

The neckline as drafted is effectively a very high cowl on both front and back. I wanted just a plain, high, slash neckline, so redrafted as such, and drafted appropriate facings.

I added small bust darts to try and keep the dress fairly fitted.

The sleeves I left almost unchanged, just narrowed at the wrist so they were closer fitting, and adjusted so that the armscye seams were the same length as the dress pieces. Even though I was using jersey rather than a woven I cut the sleeves on the bias so that they were as drapey as possible.

Construction details

I stabilised the neckline and shoulder seams with bias tape, and "staystitched" the armscyes so I didn't stretch them out during construction (it wasn't true staystitching as I removed it after attaching the sleeves). All seams were sewn with my serger, except the facing-neckline seam. The sleeve hems were sewn with a three-step zig-zag on my regular machine (over tissue paper again), and the skirt hem was sewn by hand to keep a clean look.

My modified order of construction:

  • Sew back darts, front darts and centre back seam.
  • Sew shoulder seams.
  • Sew CB and shoulder seams of neckline facing.
  • Sew facing to neckline, clip, turn and understitch.
  • Sew side seams and shoulder seams of sleeves.
  • Set in sleeves.
  • Hem sleeves and skirt.
I actually did an awful lot of hand basting with this dress. Although it adds time, I've realised it's much less time (and MUCH less frustrating) than everything going wonky and having to be unpicked and re-sewn. It was also fairly essential here as the leopard jersey was super slippery so needed many pins, which are always a bit risky when using a serger.

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

I'm not sure I'll sew this exact same pattern again, although I do really really like the fit, and the drape of the sleeves. Hmm, maybe! I might try and incorporate these features into other garments.

I would definitely recommend this to others, although I would also recommend redrafting the dress to be a closer fit, I think it is much more flattering like this.


This dress was actually a bit out my comfort zone: I redrafted it so that it was fitted, but not as tight as I normally like, and found it was actually quite flattering (not to mention super comfortable to wear). I'd originally intended to wear it with a belt, but it looked terrible, it made me look even bigger. It's rather liberating to have a little looseness around my waist! I wore this on Saturday night to a friend's leaving party (If I look a little dishevelled in the photos, they were taken at 4am...), and can confirm it is ridiculously comfortable to wear and very suitable for dancing!


  1. This looks really great! I like how the contrasting sleeves make it look almost like a pinafore with Tshirt underneath. LOVE the combination or prints and colours too :)

  2. This is very cool! I love your bold choice of color and print--it makes for a trendy and distinctive dress. And you look like you're having fun in it!

  3. I already commented on PatternReview, but looking at all your pictures makes me want to make another comment. I think you did a great job redrafting the dress, it is worth the effort since the result is wonderful. Thanks for sharing.