Finished Object: Plebeian Goddess Dress (Burda)

(Demeter, or Ceres, At the Vatican.  Goddess of agriculture)
The gathering on the dress irresistibly reminds me of classical sculpture.  It’s comfy and blue.  I know it will be cool on those steamy summer days when I would just as soon not wear clothes but I have to because we have neighbors.  
Then why don’t I like it?  I just don’t.  I ran out of medium blue, so cut the yoke of light blue.  I may dye it next time I do a green load.   Halfway through construction I decided I didn’t adore it, so I started slapping it together rather than taking care.

Despite the double layers of fabric used throughout, Burda doesn’t instruct you to enclose the seams.  I completely changed the way it goes together:

  1. Sew right shoulder seam on exterior
  2. Sew right shoulder seam on interior
  3. Sew right armscythe
  4. Repeat process for left
  5. Sew side seams on each layer of skirt
  6. Slip one skirt inside the other, seams facing each other
  7. Put in all gathering stitches
  8. Make placket (only need to cut one, by the way)
  9. Sew yoke to skirt
  10. Bind neck edge
  11. Make belt loop and belt

I had a hard time stabilizing the fabric (rayon lycra slub knit.  ugh), it wanted to stretch like a demon- especially when joining the yoke to the skirt, which is visible in the photos.  Eventually I gave up on perfect stitching.  I used a fusible bias tape on most of the seams to keep it tidy.  The more I sew with knits, the more I think I like wovens better- both for wearing and sewing.   This dress is comfortable and admittedly slouchy- perfect for around the house.

I don’t like slouchy.  Time to find some 30’s house dress patterns made with wovens.  A bungalow apron or wrapper or something of the sort.

I sized up for this dress, a Burda half size 20, figuring if I sized up I’d have plenty of room in the bust.  It feels fine, but it does not at all look the same on me as it does on the breastless model.  I cut the belt loops the size Burda directed, I should have added seam allowances because it turned out too narrow.  It’s higher than intended because of that.  I used mis-matched buttons from a bulk crafty button pack I foolishly bought when I was re-building my sewing room.

It will get lots of wear, yes, but it’s just a little off somehow.   It makes me feel a little dumpy.  Also, I know I will only every wear it at home because the armscythe is low enough to show my bra.  About 3/4″, in case anyone out there is planning to make this one.

All that said, I might make this again if I get my hands on some super fine wool jersey or perhaps some more bamboo.  It’s comfortable and utilitarian.  I might like it more with a collar of some description.

Generally unrelated:  I found these adorable custom wedding cake toppers while surfing for the Burda model picture for this dress.  I’m not into cake toppers as a rule, but these are quirky and sweet.


  1. I hate to say it, but I'm not a fan of the dress. It doesn't really do anything for you. Maybe it'd look better without the button opening in the front? I don't know. It does look comfy, though.

  2. Yeah, I tried to refrain from using the words "sack tied in the middle" but there you go. :) I wouldn't mind it being so unflattering if it wasn't such a pain to sew (three whole evenings spent on this thing). Oh wells. I'm looking at Demeter and thinking I might cut the front skirt exterior so I get a fruity little frill like hers.

  3. That is a sweet dress. You are right. Very Grecian. Can it be saved by wearing it with a button or two undone and a scarf around the middle for a belt?If you still don't like it – here is what I do when I have a sewing disappointment. For what it's worth:1) make a top using the bodice or the skirt; 2)make something for my daughter;or, 3)donate it to thrift where it might just make another woman very happy.I know some folks just wad and throw in the garbage but my frugality guilt kicks in. Can you release that little gathering rectangle in front and turn it into a swingy tunic?

  4. I think it might look really nice made in to a top. Worn with a tight pair of jeans. I avoid dresses that don't have a defined waist most of the time. I hate the feeling of spending all that time sewing something and knowing you won't wear it.

  5. I agree with all the comments… its the neckline, buttons all done up etc. If its any consolation I'm a bean pole and this style looks like a sack on me too …. Love the idea though. Sigh.

  6. Wow, I have to disagree with most comments because I think you can pull off the look. I live in Japan and people here wear "maternity" dresses whether or not they are pregnant. I don't know exactly the reason behind this but it seems to me that the Japanese like to cover themselves more rather than showing (including showing curves.) Back to your dress, I've been thinking to sew this up, but in woven since I'm really inexperienced with jerseys. Maybe you can help advise as to what kind of woven you think would work best? Thank you in advance.

  7. I thought of doing this in a woven, too. Try a nice light cotton voile? That should work well. There's not really anything about this dress that NEEDS to be jersey, in fact I suspect I'd like it made up in a voile, perhaps pleated into the waistband rather than gathered. Thanks for your kind words, I have a super comfy house dress. hehe.

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