Jungle Cocktail Dress…aka Burdastyle 2012-04-128A

Jungle January 2014And just before time is called on Jungle January 2014, this tortoisey snake finally slither its way into the party with its ratty tail barely clearing the closing door.

So let’s get straight down to businesses and boogie down to that last five minutes of the Jungle wailings…

Style Shots & Mug Shots

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BS 2012-04-128a BS 2012-04-128a BS 2012-04-128aNext up must be the fabric of course. Says so on the party invite dress code.

Fabric & Notions Used

I got this snake print fabric 2-1/2 years ago, and by the time I realized that I’m in love, I couldn’t get any more of it :-( Thankfully I got 3 meters originally. So there should be enough for another garment.

It has a lovely drape and isn’t too difficult to sew. But it does feel slightly plasticky (hence the delay in attempt to get more). And – my pet hate – like all jerseys it curls at the edges. Normally I’d starch the hell out of these curly edges. But this time starch has no effect. Maybe it’s 100% water-hating petro fiber. Who knows.

As a non-snake person – I’m terrified of them, even earthworms & eels that remind me of them – this first foray into snake print is suitably timid & subtle. Maybe next year I’ll be bolder. In fact I already have a couple of loud prints with splashes of snakes from my last NYC trip. And it might be a good idea for me to start preparing them early. Who knows, I might even come to Jungle January 2015 on time!

OK, on to the hangover drone that is the pattern review…

(Or if you prefer more jungle action, check out the Jungle January 2014 Flickr photo stream!)

 The Pattern

I actually didn’t get the magazine when it came out – much to my regret now – so had to download the PDF version from Burdastyle website. And while I do appreciate the second chance, downloadable patterns are a royal pain. It’s better than not being able to get the pattern at all. But given the choice, I’d take pre-printed patterns any day. Yes, even Burda’s unwieldy jungle of  overlapping pattern lines.

So the pattern itself…I was rather surprised to find virtually no makes out there on the interweb. Nada on Burdastyle.com. And a paltry one make on Pattern Review which unfortunately featured only action shots, so hard to see the dress clearly. Burda Russia of course have a few more – including the longer view B, but still not as many as this pretty dress deserves I thought.

Size Used

This time I went with 36, which happens to be the recommended size for me according to the sizing chart. But this is only because 36 matched my new Basic Top Block most closely in the key measurements.

Changes Made

Fitting changes

For a change I didn’t use my Block to gauge alterations needed. Instead I pressed Q into tissue-fitting service. I started with the lining pieces because it has less drapes / is more fitted, so is easier to fit. Once I figure out the main changes needed, I apply the same changes to the shell pieces.

The alterations this time are fairly minimum.

  • Short, aging body shape adjustments: Shortened between bust & waist, waist & hip, and hip & knee. This kept the widths at all the key levels unchanged.
  • Small hip adjustment: Graded down at the side seam from waist down.
  • Front-back body shape adjustment: Shifted a little bit of the waist shaping from the side seams to the darts. In other words, made the darts wider at the waist and added the amount this removed back at the side seam waist. So side seam is straighter. (In Frabjous Couture‘s recent discussion about shape & pattern drafting, I’d be a less dramatic Liz.)
  • Shortened bust dart for my low hanging girls, and lengthened the back darts above waist for my narrow lower back.
  • Sloping uneven shoulder adjustment: I narrowed the upper back a little bit so the straps won’t hang too close to the edge of my shoulders. The strap then had to be adjusted in length to accommodate this. I also shortened the left strap to accommodate my lower left shoulder. Hopefully there won’t be any jumping off the shoulder cliff drama with these precautions.

There’s one more change I’d make if I were making this in bias woven. And that is to take account of bias stretching when assessing the pattern length. Kenneth King mentioned a rule of thumb of 1/4″ stretch per 6″ length in his Moulage book. If I were to cut on the bias as instructed, then I might want to shorten everything accordingly – including the darts and torso shaping. In a shapeless dress you might be able to just shorten at the hem as needed. But this dress actually is a body skimming sheath. So I’d want to make sure the torso shaping hasn’t elongated after gravity has worked it’s lousy magic.

This time I didn’t make this adjustment because my fabrics were all knits, so I cut on the standard straight grain.

Design changes
  • I had to lengthen the lining and add another layer of underlining to preserve my modesty. My snake print was way too see-through. The lining was lengthened from hip length to just below my bum. The underlining is knee length & just slightly shorter than the snake print. The underlining pattern is the dress pattern minus the front neckline pleats and the skirt side extension. I left a vent where the side extension would have been.

Verdict on the Instruction

The instruction is OK, though mention of length extension was confusing. Maybe it was referring to the magazine pattern. The PDF version looks like the full pattern, so I didn’t lengthen anywhere. Other than that, I did the usual thing of giving the instruction an once over, then doing my own thingy.

Theoretically this should be quick to make. But I ended up sewing each layer with slightly different seaming technique because, well as you know, knits are temperamental divas. And I have 3 of them to deal with:

  • The lining is stitched & top-stitched on the sewing machine with stretch stitches.
  • The underlining has stretch-stitched & hand top-stitched darts, and 3-thread narrow overlocked side and back seams.
  • And saving the best for the outside, the snake print has hand-stitched darts to minimize stretching & wavy seams. But the side & back seams were again done in 3-thread narrow overlock to keep the dress floaty. Unlike the under layers, I didn’t cut off the dart seam allowances on this layer because I like how the shading adds slimming vertical style lines to the dress.
  • All three have 2-thread rolled hem done on the overlocker. I like the lightness of the result. But there were lots of oops with the rolled stitch not catching the fabric edge. Urgh. Hand blanket stitch to the rescue.
  • And the straps I had to stabilize with stay tapes to prevent it stretching & showing off more of me than intended. Lots of hand sewing here too.

Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others

With all the fussy fabrics it’s no wonder I’m so late to the party! One thing for sure: There’ll be no swinging like Tarzan in this delicate dress with all its Oops. But I like the result well enough to want to wear it to a relative’s summer wedding coming up soon.

I think the pattern would also be really pretty in the recommended bias georgette (or even chiffon). But I’d only make it in those fabrics if I can figure out a way to avoid the wavy seam like on the pattern view B photo:

1-fit-lining-fAnd those double french darts – I just love how they looked on Q in the stiffish tissue paper. It gave Q sideway curves where she and I have none. This detail is a bit lost on droopy fabrics like georgette or mesh jersey. So I just might adapt the pattern to work with a crisper fabric like silk shantung. I’d have to do away with the neckline drapes and pleats, and the skirt side extension of course. It’d make a nice little cocktail party dress for ladies who lunch! :-)

10 thoughts on “Jungle Cocktail Dress…aka Burdastyle 2012-04-128A

  1. Carol says:

    Absolutely love this fabric, congratulations on the dress and thanks for another comprehensive review. It amazes me how often the dresses are poorly executed on the both Burda and Vogue/Mccalls… given that they are trying to sell the product using that photo. I think they just run them off once and photograph them regardless of flaws.

    • Thank you!

      Interesting comment about poorly executed pattern photos. It would be great to get the pattern company’s response. I’m inclined to give them benefit of doubts having read a thing or two about what’s involved in producing patterns. I don’t envy their position.

      But the online sewing community is a real blessing for them. Some people have much better imagination and can look past the pattern photos and make something that inspires other. I’m frequently on the receiving end of their loving effort.

  2. Welcome to the Jungle!! And in a fantastic dress, too. I passed over this dress because of the pulling darts in the magazine photo, but I love the knit version you’ve put together… Love this in the snakeprint. It’s appropriately ssssssssubtle. :D

    • If it weren’t for the Italian styling (version A photo) I probably would have passed on the dress too. I haven’t worked with bias much. I wonder if it’s possible to avoid those dreadful wavy seams. To be honest though, I hate the wastage with bias cut. So knit was always my preferred option.

  3. I remember this pattern in Burda Style, but became more interested in it due to YOUR dress! Fierce looking dress on you. Your photos are adorable. Also thank you for a very informative review.

  4. Oops, seems like my armpits were a bit of a jungle too. Blame it on dreary winter. Too easy to get lazy with the pruning. Apology to any eyes offended! :o)

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