Monday, November 26, 2012

The Burda Bodice - Beauty and the Beast

Okay, so we are onto the Bodice Construction segment.  To reiterate, this is the Burda 7880 pattern, stated at an "Intermediate to Advance" sewing skills level.  I have already reviewed the foundation skirt, apron/bustle, dye techniques, shopping for fabrics, plus within each segment are short "tips" from my experience while sewing these garments.  I knew I wanted a Victorian bodice pattern that allowed for individual inserts in the front and back of the bodice.  So, I understood going in that there would be more pattern pieces than some of the other patterns I had used.  I also included the recommended interfacing for added stability for some of the pieces, then I cut "overlays" to give me the color contrasts for some of the inserts.  Lastly, I like my bodices to be lined, so I added lining as well.  That said, the bodice pattern originally calls for twelve (12) pattern pieces plus four (4) interfacing pieces.  Doubled brings you to twenty-eight (28) pieces, as not all pattern pieces are doubled, such as the collar.  From there I added the lining, for an additional fourteen (14) pieces.  Lastly, I added eight (8) pieces of plum silk overlay for color contrast.  Leaving me with a grand total of fifty (50) working pieces.  Yes, I added a lot more to what is intended in this pattern.  But, if I am going to spend my time, effort, and money, it might as well be exactly what I want it to be.
Cutting Fabric: So, first step was setting up the fabric for cutting.  I knew I was going to be working with at least three layers most of the time, and sometimes four layers with the interfacing.  I placed my fashion fabric on top of my lining fabric for the first cutting.  From there I placed only those pieces I wanted to use for the contrasted silk overlay fabric that I needed, as well as the four pieces I needed for the interfacing, so I was only cutting once or twice to save time and effort.  Very sharp scissors are a must for this. 
Lining: The pattern does not include lining, so I will start there.  Front bodice has eight parts and the back bodice has six parts, not counting the two parts of each sleeve for a total of four, two cuffs, one collar, or the peplum pieces.  I only lined the body part of the bodice.  I thought about flat lining, but the peplum was not going allow that in my opinion.  So,  modified bag lining came into play. 

Construction:  I started by laying all the cut pieces in stacks, so as not to get confused.  I also would focus on one fabric at a time.  I layed all the pieces out to see how they all fit together, so I could begin to visualize the finished product.  From there I began with the the interfaced pieces, next onto the overlay pieces.  I opted to overlay the plum silk as it was not strong enough against the raisin cotton by itself.  I pretty much just "flat lined" the overlay to the outside of the fashion fabric, so I had the strength of the underlying cotton fabric, but the contrasted color overlay I wanted.  From this point, proper bodice construction commenced.  I love how a seemingly flat piece of fabric can develop into such a curvular (I made that word up - lol) look!  Taking it from a one dimension to a three-dimensional plane.  Things moved well for the bodice proper.  The sleeves are two pieced with a slight curve, they are strongly "left" and "right" or they do not hang properly nor fit properly.  Pattern states to "gather", but in the future, I might consider a small box-pleat just at the sleeve head to see how it might look. 
Next, was the peplum.  I still laugh just thinking about that part.  In the cutting section, it states "x1" or one piece, but in the instructions, it states "doubled", and it certainly needs to be doubled, so just cut two when you are cutting.  Once I got the pleats in, I did opt to sew halfway down the sides of each pleat to help hold the pleats in place.  After all that time and effort trying to get the pleats to lineup properly to each other plus lineup to the bodice pieces, I wanted those pleats to be beautiful for forever!  Prior bodice construction is going to really help you with this one, just go slow, read the instructions repeatedly, and worse case - walkaway and come back.  Gives your mind some time to process.

The bag lining was just like making an entirely separate bodice, but without the sleeves.  The entire lining piece, once constructed, had to be sewn into place.  The only line that was machine sewn, was the bottom hem edge, everything else was handsewn into place, as I did not want the stitching to ruin the front of the outer fashion fabric. 
Finishing Touches:  I used some  vintage black beaded Victorian trim on the cuffs, vintage lace collar, vintage lace chemisette (optional wear), eighteen buttons, one inch black satin box pleated trim, one inch knife pleated silk trim at cuffs, and I used a decorative sewing stitch on the bodice front edge seams.  I had modified this piece.  I shortened it into a low square neck, instead of the high-neckline the pattern showed. 

Conclusion:  After all was said and done, the bodice fit almost perfectly.  I had to take one inch in at the waist.  I will probably make this one again some time in the future.  (I am already onto my next project.)  I very much like the overall finished look of the ensemble.  I am proud I persevered and took this "50 Piece Beast" and turned it into such a "Beauty".   Enjoy! 


  1. Hello Trudy,

    I just read your blog about Burda 7880. It is beauitful! I went to Burda to try to find it, but even using their search it doesn't come up.
    I tried to leave a comment on your blog page, but it is not recognizing my WordPress ID. So that is why I am writing here! :-)



    1. Dear Roxanne,
      Thank you for your comment. Try a quick search on Ebay, or check your local fabric store - they will probably have it.

  2. It's beautiful. I went out brought this pattern in the hopes of drafting my own bustle dress and your results make me want to draft one.

    1. Gail! It sounds like you are up to the challenge. Let me know how it turns out for you!

  3. THANK YOU!! I was certain I was going crazy trying to figure out all the missing instructions for this pattern. I'm modifying it with decorative buttons and a hook and eye closure (because buttons always pull over my bust, no matter how closely they're spaced.)

    1. Susan, sorry so late in my reply. I took a break from sewing for a while. Burda is a German company, and I think they may have used a person that is not familiar with sewing terms to try to translate it into English. Unfortunately, not with the easiest of efforts on our part. Good luck.