When the Asymmetric Dress 07/2017 #116A first appeared on the BurdaStyle website I was drawn to its striking lines, but at that time I had no particular fabric on hand which would be suitable. That changed this spring when our handwoven cotton Disappearing Checks fabric arrived in a black colorway, the reverse image of the same fabric in white which we already had in stock. I immediately knew that I wanted to combine the two fabrics and eventually remembered this pattern, which was a great match for the fabrics and a fun project.
Though I often find their patterns appealing, for some reason I rarely make BurdaStyle patterns, and have found their fit somewhat hit-or-miss. Therefore it was imperative to make a muslin of this design, and a great pleasure to find that it fit very well. (I can’t remember when I last tried on such a lovely armscye!) All I really had to do was add tiny back neck darts and lengthen the skirt about 4 inches to be knee-length.
The dress was much looser than I expected: the line drawing implies a slightly fitted silhouette but in fact the dress is definitely more shift than sheath, with generous ease through the bust and almost no waist shaping. However it does hang beautifully from the shoulders. I considered adding a bit more shape to the side seams, but in the end, with thoughts of hot and humid summer days ahead, the idea of a loose and airy dress made up in soft handloom cotton shirting won me over - plus I found that I could just barely pull the dress over my head, and thus dispense with the zipper!
I only made a few other minor changes to the pattern, such as straightening the darts so they would fall on the straight grain in order to be less disruptive to the checks. To brighten the dress around the neckline I added a narrow flat piping of the white fabric there, then finished the neckline and armscyes with bias bindings instead of the facings called for in the pattern. I don’t love the results with the binding but it was fast and easy, and since most of the dress is black the topstitching doesn’t show much anyway.
Construction of the front was interesting due to the way the fabrics are combined. The white section is all one piece while the black skirt front is an overlay which hangs freely, attached only at the waistline and side seam.
The dress went together quickly since it is quite simple, with the exception of the corner seam where the bodice front, belt, skirt and skirt overlay go together. I fused a small piece of interfacing behind the corner, and, thanks to basting, it went together perfectly. For most of the seams I used either French seams or false French seams (for places where a French seam wouldn’t work, such as that corner seam) so everything is nicely finished inside and the fabric won’t ravel.
The biggest annoyance of this project was continually having to switch between black and white thread and bobbins! This was especially true at the hem, which I finished as usual with a bias strip, except for the black front overlay which has self-facings and is mitered at the free-hanging front corner.
It was a bit of a puzzle to figure out how to finish the hem at the right side seam, which included both the black and white front layers. I stopped the side seam a few inches short of the hem, folded aside the white front, and finished the rest of the side seam by stitching together only the black front and back. That way the black outer layer could have one continuous hem. Then I hemmed that end of the white front panel separately and tacked it to the black hem at the side seam. Slightly untidy inside, but it looks fine from the outside.
The dress did turn out to be quite eye-catching — definitely a groovy way to display these two fabrics. It also looks great with a wide belt which adds a bit of shape and drama, even though it covers the built-in belt detail. Now I just need to add a patch pocket to make it a properly functional garment!