People always tell you that there will be a point in your life that you will go to a lot of weddings. I didn’t ever really believe them – I mean, sure, I’ve had a few friends get married, but I seem to be in a generation where weddings are more rare than not, viewed as an irrational expense that can’t be justified when food, housing, gas, and school loans take priority. Wedding were things that other people did, but not things that people I knew did. However, I may have hit that tipping point where tides have turned, as I’ve had more weddings and invites in the past year then ever before. Being a bridesmaid meant I didn’t have to think about what I was wearing (something of a relief), but being a guest meant a bit more planning. As such, I’ve needed to make some new gowns to wear to formal events. When debating what to make I was torn over what style to go for… Glam? Sexy? Cute? Elegant? I decided simple elegance was best, and settled on making one of the patterns I’ve been eyeing in my stash for quite some time – Burda 6994. Interestingly, in light of my recent style-typing adventures, I would classify this dress as being dramatic-classic, but, by adding sparkly, delicate accessories, I think I was able to achieve that romantic-classic-dramatic look I’ve decided I’m going to try going for. The blue shade of my dress may be slightly outside the Bright Winter color palette, but it’s one of those cool, saturated colors that is “good enough” I think I can pull it off. Interestingly, I made a test dress out of a nasty poly double knit, but the color on the cheap fabric was a bit more saturated and actually looked a bit better on me than the final color. The stretch crepe fabric in my final gown was much better quality than that nasty, stiff poly knit though, so I was willing to make some color sacrifices for that added comfort and drape. Anyway, here is my finished dress:
My makeup was a bit brighter and more dramatic on the actual day of the wedding (the last photo) – I think it balanced the gown a bit better than the more subdued look I went with in the photo shoot (which was necessary because the only picture I got of the dress was in terrible lighting). Overall I think the dress turned out really well – I was quite pleased with the construction other than the dart tips that wouldn’t lie flat. I’m pretty sure that had more to do with the springy stretch-crepe than anything I did; they were beautifully flat in my muslin, but nothing would tame them in this crepe. My only other quibble with construction is the nearly disastrous strap incident that almost had me going back and using my toile. More details on that in the pattern review below…
Here is the official pattern review:
Pattern Description: Woman’s sleeveless evening gown (A) and sleeved sheath dress (B). I made view A, the long evening gown.
Pattern Sizing: Burda sizes 32-42. I made a size 40 at the bust, grading out to a 42 at the waist and a 46 at the hips. I did have to take in the darts quite a bit at the waist and a little at the upper bust, but the fit was pretty good straight out of the envelope otherwise.
Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very easy. The dress itself is very simple to construct, the instructions are illustrated, and the written instructions are easy to follow.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the envelope once you were done with it? Totally! I had to add an extra strap to the back (see the alterations section), but otherwise it looks like the model photo.
What did you particularly like or dislike about this pattern? Likes: I love the simple, elegant style, the fit is quite comfortable, and it is crazy easy to sew, especially for an evening gown. Dislikes: This isn’t really a dislike so much as a caution. I’m pretty sure Burda only sized this up to a 42 for a reason – there really isn’t enough support to hold larger/heavier breasts in position without modification. Also, people WILL step on the train. You will likely also step on the train. I suggest holding up the skirt if you have to walk long distances.
Fabric used: Stretch crepe and stretch lining from Micheal Levine. I used a trim from JoAnn for the straps. I love the drape of the crepe fabric – beautiful! I was a little sad because the stretch crepe didn’t take my darts as well as this nasty poly double-knit I used as a toile, but otherwise this fabric was great. It also traveled well, and didn’t get too wrinkly even though I smushed it into a very tiny duffle bag. I wouldn’t recommend crumpling it up, but, it did roll up nicely for travel.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I took in the four darts around the waist by a total of something like 8″ as well as taking in the darts a bit at the top of the breast. Possibly I could have done a size 38 with an FBA, but the 40 fits better around the back, and this was a fairly easy fix to the size problem. I also had to add an additional strategic strap across the back to prevent major side boob. The straps as drafted are lovely, but they won’t hold everything in place if you are a bit more well endowed as they say. There isn’t a great way to wear a bra with this dress, so I sewed additional cup supports to the lining using this YouTube tutorial:
Aside from jerry-rigging an extra strap support, I also had to redo the straps. My original intent was to make elastic straps covered in the dress fabric, then hand-bead the straps. This didn’t happen, mainly because when I first fit the straps I made them way, way too short. I also realized that the weight of the breasts needed a non-stretch strap to support the weight. Sadly, the stitches were really, really hard to pick out of this fabric. So I ended up cutting them off, using a sharpie to color over the white elastic, and then sewing in the black trim, which I bought in a panic from JoAnn the day before I had to leave for the wedding. Yes, time management and sewing are two skills I haven’t managed to merge yet. I like the way it turned out, but I think it would have been really pretty with delicate hand-sewn beadwork too.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don’t know if I will sew this again because, (a) I really like the way this dress turned out and would wear it again and (b) I’m going to a lot of weddings with a lot of the same people. Which means I’m going to need to change it up. Luckily, I’ve got just the pattern and fabric stash for that. I may use this pattern to make view B at some point in the future though. I love the curved dart, and in a fabric that presses a bit better, the front darts would be super flattering. I would highly recommend this pattern to others – it is very easy to fit and sew, though I would caution that you may need to rig some extra bust support if you are a bit on the larger side.
Conclusion: I’m very pleased with this dress. I felt really pretty and elegant, not overdone, but appropriately formal. It was very comfortable to wear, though my extra strap did make it a bit of a wiggle to get into and out of. Overall this is a great pattern and I would highly recommend it. It is perfect for those formal occasions where you want to look chic, elegant, and put together, but don’t have tons of time to throw together an outfit.