Burda 7494

I'm ninety four you know
Black dresses, like black cats, are notoriously difficult to photograph. The detail is easily lost and this apparently is the reason why ‘the little black dress’, usually a girl’s best friend, has fared badly in online sales in relation to frocks featuring prints and bright colours (read all about it).  On screen, it can look a bit boring.

Burda 7494 View ABut while a tiger can woo multitudes with its splendid array of stripes, looking at a plain black moggy (or panther) allows you to notice its equally admirable silhouette.  (If you think my Lemmy’s outline is a little bit scraggly,  can I just point out  he is actually ancient! 😯 ).

There’s much to admire in this Burda 7494 dress.

Burda 7494The faux collar, which attaches to dress front only, is easy to make and is guaranteed to sit flat.  The four front and back pleats create a tulip-like shape, giving the impression of there being more bum than is actually the case as well as narrowing the waist.  Most interesting of all I found the bust darts which are shifted to the centre side of the princess seams.  This creates a nice curve which isn’t difficult to sew (but check out my tips on Princess Seams if you’re new to this).  It’s a design that deserves more boldness than the picture on the envelope or my rendition of the pattern have given it.  If you imagine this same dress in red tartan, with black velvet piping, you can imagine the drama.


I had to make a few changes and didn’t get out unscathed….  1 Cuff

1. I added sleeves (obviously).  You like?!

2. In order to add sleeves, I had to substantially slice off from the shoulders.  The original ended a good inch beyond the usual armscye line which leads me to suspect this wouldn’t suit sloping shoulders.

3. I lowered the neckline 1.5cm, for two reasons.  The original collar is too big (bib-like?) for me.  I also think that a very high neckline makes anything but the most pert bust look a bit, er, southern 😯

4. I went the extra mile by making the dress fully lined (the pattern has lining for the skirt only).

The fabric, by the way, is extra fine Italian needlecord from Fabric House, one of my favourite shops on Goldhawk Road.  The plaid bias binding used for the piping and inside the cuffs came from MacCulloch & Wallis but you can get it anywhere.

Achtung!  Achtung

a) Beware that the neckline, though high, is very wide.   This might not suit you if you like to keep bra straps hidden (or if your neck muscles are a bit strong…).

b) The sizing for the dress is way over (so go by garment measurements) but perplexingly, the size of the lining isn’t.  Measure carefully before cutting because when the lining is tighter than the skirt, it will quickly rip!

Overall, I love the Burda 7494 and it was worthwhile sweating it out drafting the add-on sleeves as I now have a warm day dress for when I want to blend into the general winter gloomth.  This picture was taken a moment after the first one, after a cloud settled over the sun.  See?  Boring….There's no food in that hand, stupid woman


That’s Sew Cinematic presents

a Sewing Horror Picture Show



(a barmy domestic)

and her amazing contrast collar’n’cuffs dress

contains scenes unsuitable for sewists of exacting high standards and nervous dispositions 


Collar with Stand (she winged it, totally)

Loop and Button Closure (a bit risque)

and Introducing:

The Turnback Cuff

(a tutorial)


The plan wasn’t to draft the Magenta dress myself.  I bought the pattern for the rather demure Burda 7494 and meant to alter the shape of the collar then add sleeves and a decolletage.  But the Back View of this pattern revealed a sudden departure of a collar!  Lovely as Burda 7494 is, its back zip meant that the design wouldn’t have worked with a “collar with a stand” and so had to be shelved.  

I got Googling which threw up the Anal Retentive Rocky Horror Costume List. This website details the costumes and props of all the Rocky characters and  is aimed at fans who attend stage and cinema viewings of the show dressed as characters from the film (which doesn’t sound like a bad night out at all…).  It told me everything I wanted to know, even how to wear the dress: Unbutton dress so it’s about even with bra (which shows a bit)…”  Oh, OK….  “... unbutton it from the bottom up to about crotch level”.  Hm!  Presumably, this is to enable one to slide down banisters?  It also revealed that the dress – designed along with the other costumes by Sue Blane  – has pintuck pleats on the front and on the sleeves.  Beautifully detailed as these would have been, they weren’t noticeable in the grainy Youtube clips of the Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite that I kept playing, so I left them out and decided to concentrate on the more essential components of the distinct Magenta look: the loop and button closure, the collar with stand and the turnback cuffs.  Oh, and the black and white.

Loop and Button Closure

Making these for the first time wasn’t difficult and there was plenty of instruction and encouragement from other blog posts which  helped. But, I would caution against using this kind of closure on a “normal” dress: the risk of gaping is too great.  If you like Loop and Button, I recommend that you either keep the loops and buttons close together and use a stiff fabric, or insert a “business at the back” zip beneath to keep things together.

Collar with Stand

Being a collar-with-stand virgin, I was wary of drafting my own from scratch and instead used the collar in Vogue 8252 as a template (I also copied the sleeves from this pattern).  I made a size 8 collar which seemed the perfect proportion to the dress (no Harry Hill comparisons, d’ya hear!) though the stand was too wide for the neck and had to be messed around with till it fit! 

The V8252 collar attachment instructions were very confusing though and I did run screaming to Reader’s Digest CGTS for help.

The Turnback Cuff tutorial

My favourite part of the dress and another “first”.  Adding a turnback cuff to a sleeve creates a rather distinguished finishing touch so imagine my surprise when I discovered (by referring, as ever, to the sacred tome) that it was dead easy and simple to do.  The turnback cuff works well on a full-length sleeve (although avoid white if you’re messy!) and I imagine it works more splendidly still on a “bracelet sleeve”.  In fact, I can’t wait to do it again.

Here’s a step–by-step guide.

1. You begin with the sleeve pattern.  This is where you mark the style line of the cuff.  You can have a design like mine where the ends meet in the centre front of the sleeve but there are other options: they can overlap, the top can be scalloped, or the cuff can be continuous like the facing, etc.

Draw the cuff then draw its seam allowance – I did 1cm.  (Note that this cuff doesn’t have a side seam.  It’s a single piece cut on fold that rolls around the prepared sleeve).  Cut 4 of fabric and 2 of interfacing.

Draw the facing by copying the bottom of the sleeve.  Add  a seam allowance (1.5cm).  Cut 2 of fabric and (this is optional) 2 of interfacing.

2. Sew the cuffs.  Trim, turn and press.

3. Sew the side seams of the facings, press open, then edge finish the top edges.

4. Sew the gathering stitches for the sleeve, then complete the sleeve side seam.  Press open.  Working from the right side of the sleeve, attach cuff to sleeve and tack.

5. Attach facing over the cuff.

6. Stitch and remove tacking.  Trim SA’s then press to embed stitches.

7. Extend the facing and seam allowances away from the sleeve and with the right side up, understitch the facing and the SA’s.  Turn facing to inside, rolling in slightly and press.  On the inside, stitch facing to the sleeve seam allowance.

A note on the direction of the bust dart

The dress front is shaped by a single underarm bust dart that goes all the way to the bust point.  I designed the front so as to press the bust dart upwards after reading this fascinating explanation as to why this may be best from the brill blogger Pattern, Scissors, Cloth.