Monday, July 12, 2021

Chambray Color Block Dress from Burda vintage magazine

The current trend is a a lot of ruffles, gathers and generally items that take a lot of fabric. Perhaps that's why when I look at patterns or magazines I'm drawn to simpler styles, and if something is color-blocked it will always catch my eye. And I don't think the year of a pattern makes any difference, some things are classic and always look good. 

Chambray dress2

This is Burda issue July 1998, it's one I was given recently. So I think that qualifies as vintage, being over 20 years old. Here's the magazine photo, which is such a good pattern for using up some not very big pieces of fabric. My one regret is that I wish I had used the other side of the fabric in the upper block, it is lighter and would make more of a contrast. I think the high contrast of their color selection makes it more interesting.

Colorblock burda magazine pic

Chambray dress 3

This shift dress doesn't really have a lot shaping, it has bust darts that start from the armhole. I decided to make a muslin which I don't do all that often for simple dresses but I could tell by looking at the pattern pieces that I wouldn't like the neckline at all. That high boatneck is just not comfortable to me and I always change them. 

Color block neck darts on muslin
Here's the front neckline on my dress form. This is an old dress form that is adjusted and padded to be pretty similar to my shape, and I keep that pink wool dress on it as I really like the fit of that bodice.  I can then compare all pattern shapes to that one and know that I'm in the ballpark for shoulder width, neckline depth, etc. Here you can see I removed some width across the front neckline by pinning out some small tucks. For a dress like this where I'm sewing a bit fast and loose I fold out the tuck to flatten the pattern in that area and call it a day. In the photo below you can see that I have added to the neckline on the inner edge of the shoulder seam, on front and back to make that boatneck less wide. I also lowered the front neckline about 5/8". I shortened the back waist length a good inch (which is a standard adjustment for me, also shown below. And then I took in the center back seam about 5/8' when I put in the zipper. also a common adjustment for me. I suppose all that narrowing of the shoulders I could do by narrowing the upper bodice but for simple shift dresses I find it easier to do it this way as I can see how much I want to change in small areas. 

Fitting adjustment center back

This pattern piece also shows the color block lines. When I made the muslin test version I just made it like a simple shift dress all one piece, and then once I had the pattern adjustments I traced the extra block sections and then added seam allowances. 

Chambray dress4

I neglected to take any pictures of the back of the dress on my and this one is not ideal as the dress is sticking a bit as I turn but you get the idea. No shaping to speak of and putting in any curves or darts would mess up the block areas. Oh and it was around 102ºF the afternoon when these pictures were taken so it was quickly done in the shade and then onto the cafe for a drink!

colorblock dr front and back

Burda color block tech drawing

I always like to see the technical drawing of any pattern, don't you? I did add about 6 inches to the pattern but making it longer kind of spoiled the look, so I hemmed it above knee, although not quite as short as their example. 

colorblock dr front close up Corner of color block pieces

There's a look at the corners, outside and then on the inside. I put a small piece of fusible interfacing on the corner that needed to be clipped, then I stay stitched it to reinforce, then clipped and sewed to the corresponding section. I think of these as one and done corners, it doesn't pay to have to unpick, redo and start to chew up the seam allowance so it's best to get it right the first time :) 

So that's the latest on my random summer sewing. It was a scorcher this past weekend, around 110ºF for the high so not much of anything was accomplished other than trying not to melt. Up next I have used my Tatjana trousers minus the pleats pattern, (seen in my previous post as shorts) and further remodeled it to narrow the legs. A bit of an experiment and I'm not sure how it went, but I will show all in a post soon. They aren't hemmed yet and I think I will better be able to evaluate when they are hemmed and pressed. 

Sewing classes are on a summer break for new but Hello Stitch Studio is opening back up this month and we are planning in-person classes in September and October. As well as continuing to offer some online classes. At the end of my most recent class I was surprised that people said "you will continue with the online even when the studio opens, right?"  and the reasons were interesting. (time available to participate, distance etc) So I will do both and keep you updated. 

That's the latest. Stay cool and enjoy the summer. Life is looking more like normal here - we are fortunate to have a very low case rate and high vaccination rate so things are good! (if only we could get out of our drought situation - it's always something).

Chambray dress3

Happy Hot Summer Sewing,

Today's garden photo, a new to me plant. This year and last I have tried a lot of new plants and some of them have been great discoveries. This is another one I will plant again next spring, the color is amazing. It's Lisanthus. 



  1. Burda has some classic patterns and this is another one. Interesting how you have handled the adjustments and a lot of what you have done would be for me as well. It maybe a simple shift dress but the colour blocking does take it up a notch.

  2. Lovely and fun! Thanks for the details.

  3. This is such a great looking dress. It's really effective and a lovely shape. I'm nodding along with your neckline adjustments, because I always end up making necklines narrower on Burda designs as well.

  4. Cute dress. The style is perfect for wearing in hot weather. And doesn't it feel good to use up scraps of fabric so creatively?

  5. This is such a great dress. It inspired a recent attempt at a color blocked/patchwork version that did not turn out as well as yours!