Book Review: BurdaStyle Modern Sewing: Dresses for Every Occasion

Ok, so a few months ago I reviewed the BurdaStyle Wardrobe Essentials book, and came to the conclusion that I probably didn’t really need the dress book, but I somehow ended up getting a copy anyway.  Amazon informed me that my order would arrive March 9, 2015, the product page states that the book will be available in January, but the button says you can order it now.  My copy came today.  Good job on arrival predictions and cohesive information Amazon!

The layout of this book is essentially the same as the Wardrobe Essentials volume, with a few of the technique discussions changed to be more appropriate for the included patterns (no discussion of fly front zippers, as there are no trousers in this volume, but they do discuss working with jersey fabrics in detail).  In general my assessment of this book is pretty much the same as the previous volume: that this book is aimed at an intermediate home sewer who is new to Burda patterns.  My complaints are also similar: NO NEW PATTERNS and I think they could have made a more varied and interesting collection.  Long-time Burda users know the ubiquity of the infamous “Burda sack dress,” so I wasn’t surprised that they picked a few for the book, but I sort of felt it was a bit too much.  I think they tended towards easier designs and simpler silhouettes, and I wish they had chosen a few more complex designs, and at least one ball gown – Burda has so many good ones in their catalog!  I will say I did appreciate, however, that for their vintage re-print patterns, they included both the modern and original dress drawings/photographs, which was very cool.  For regular Burda users I will caution that this book DOES include seam allowances, unlike the pattern magazine.  Here is a conversion of patterns to the magazine numbers:

Vintage
Vintage Chic Sheath = 09-2012-109
’70s Simple Luxe Lace Dress = 09-2012-108 (Cover Dress)
’50s Summer Sundress = 07-2012-133 (Vintage Reprint)
A Little Bit Audrey Sheath = 11-2012-138 (Vintage Reprint)
Beguiling in Blue Jacket and Skirt = 12-2012-101 (Jacket), 12-2012-108 (skirt)
Très Tweed Mock Two Piece = 12-2012-141 (Vintage Reprint)

Trendy
Red Hot Mini = 06-2012-134
Blue Angles Asymmetrical Dress = 02-2013-110
Purple Party Tunic and Cowl Top = 01-2013-123B, A
Summer Origami Sheath = 07-2012-131

Casual
Hand-Stamped Tunic = 06-2013-133
Summer Tie-Dye Lace-Up Dress = 07-2013-122
Sunshine Bangle Wrap Dress = 07-2013-125
Urban Ikat Sleeveless Dress = 02-2013-114
The Jersey Plunge V-Neck Dress and Top = 09-2013-101B, A
Blooming Bouclé Cap-Sleeved Dress = 03-2013-110

Formal
Delicately Scalloped Skirt = 12-2012-105
The Artful Jacket = 12-2012-115
Princess Taffeta Dress = 11-2012-121
Sophisticated Silk V-Neck Dress and Pleated Lace V-Neck Dress = 08-2013-116A, B
Fit and Flare Frock = 10-2012-128
Little Black Dress = 12-2012-110

My conclusion is essentially the same as for Wardrobe Essentials – this is a great book for someone who is an intermediate seamstress wanting an introduction for Burda patterns, but it isn’t really necessary for anyone who is a long-time subscriber to the magazine.  While seam allowances and extra instructions are nice, they aren’t strictly necessary for a more advanced Burda user.  It also doesn’t have patterns covering the higher size ranges.  I think the book serves its intended purpose well, but I don’t think it will be of much interest to those who already have the patterns, or don’t like Burda’s general style.  I do think this book would be a great gift for someone who is still newer to the hobby, as it has a good variety of styles, the patterns are a nice range from very easy to mildly challenging, and the book is quite a good value considering the number of patterns included.

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