My eyes are crossing

A few weeks ago SewingElle posted about a wonderful striped Anthropologie dress. It has several diagonally slanted panels on the waist and skirt with the stripes running in different directions on each panel. The effect is very eye-catching. After reading her post I fell in love with it too and wondered if I could get a similar effect by making up my beloved Burda 117-02-2012 in stripy fabric.

Here are the style lines of Burda 117-02-2012. The back has a strong line of mirror symmetry down the centre back seam but the front is very asymmetrical. The large triangular panel on the skirt has borders with three other areas, two of which also share a border. This means at least three directions of stripes are required if they are to change direction on every seam.

Burda 117-02-2012 technical drawing

I did a bit of research (well, checked all my sewing books) to find out the official line on How One Should Align Stripes. I didn’t find a lot of help in most of them, although as always Ann Ladbury’s The Dressmaker’s Dictionary had some definite opinions on the subject. Did you know that the traditional direction for diagonal stripes is from the left shoulder to the right hip? I certainly didn’t.

There’s a school of thought that horizontal stripes are widening. There’s another school of thought that they are slimming. Ms Ladbury seems to prefer horizontal stripes on the whole, but says that vertical ones can be ‘improved by being broken’. I’m not sure who’s right, but on the whole I think I prefer horizontal stripes for large areas. Compare these two variations. The one with mostly horizontal stripes looks a lot nicer. By the way, I’ve put a border round my favourite in each of the following pairs of options because I’m pretty sure the pictures won’t come out side by side on all screens.

Stripes back view verticals and horizontalsStripes back view - midriff vertical, skirt horizontal, upper back horizontal

So I chose to put horizontal stripes on the large triangular panel and diagonal ones everywhere else at the front. There are two possible ways to arrange the diagonal stripes, below. I think the version with the stripes almost perpendicular to the neckline is best because in the other one the neckline looks a bit awkward. The problem is that the stripes won’t be quite parallel to it.

Stripes front view - midriff slants top right to bottom leftStripes front view - midriff slants top left to bottom right

If the front of the dress has a lot of diagonal stripes then the back ought to have some as well. However I want to keep the stripes on the back skirt horizontal so as to match up at the right side seam with the large horizontal striped panel on the front. This gives these two options for the rest. There’s not much in it, but the one I’ve picked gives me a little more matching on the right side seam than the other one.

Stripes back view - midriff upwards chevrons, skirt horizontal, upper back downwards chevronsStripes back view - midriff downwards chevrons, skirt horizontal, upper back upwards chevrons

My final choice is this pair.

Stripes back view - midriff upwards chevrons, skirt horizontal, upper back downwards chevronsStripes front view - midriff slants top right to bottom left

Of course now I have to get round to actually making the dress. I have some fabric (of which more another time) but there are a few things ahead of it in the sewing queue and I may well change my mind about the placement between now and then! There are many other options. All the stripe variations I’ve drawn can be found here.

24 thoughts on “My eyes are crossing

  1. Catherine, you have to make it, you wrote about it and we want to see it.
    It’ll be stellar on you whichever way you put in the stripes!

  2. Yes, you wrote about it, you know have to make it as we want to see it. Really interesting take on it. I love that pattern too. Just waiting to find the perfect fabric for it. You gave me an idea to think about not so obvious choices for the fabric. 😉

  3. I can see why you’re cross-eyed at this point. After carefully looking through all your options, I think you’ve hit upon the best one. And you DO have to make it up now, since you’ve posted about it!

  4. I love your choices for the striping for the back and front. I think they will be very flattering on the body. Is your striped fabric red? I can’t wait to see this. Good luck!

  5. You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din! But if you can match up all those seams, it promises to be a great dress. Are you doing the zip at the back again? Sewing down the front? I’m finding the neckline on mine too wide, but without a zip, I can’t tighten it.

    1. I had a neckline problem too; mine gapped at the back. I had to take in the CB seam a bit at the top on my red version and that helped.

      I think I’ll skip the zip for this one as there will be rather a lot going on already with the stripes. And definitely sewing the front up, I think snaps could show on the fabric I’ve got for this one.

  6. I absolutely love your red dress. My figure is no where as gorgeous and slim as yours but I have been wondering if I should try anyway. I am in the middle of making up a ‘try-out’ from this pattern. My purpose is to make one of striped fabric that i have in my stash – and I have been playing around with the stripes as well. My fabric is grey with off-white stripes. I think I will add some plain but matching fabric in one or two areas to calm down the stripes. I have a grey and an off-white fabric, and I even have a dusty pink plain fabric which I think could work. Can’t wait to see what you come up with in the end.

  7. I think you should place them however you see fit, and I really like your final choice. The only thing I stop and think about when considering stripe placement is whether there is stretch one and not the other way… since most of my striped fabrics seem to be knits, I guess 😀
    I cannot wait to see your finished dress, I am sure it is going to be a knockout, as usual!

  8. Oh, this is going to be stunning on you! You’ve got the perfect figure for a striped dress such as this. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished garment!

  9. I’m sure this will look lovely. A lot of the shops seem to be getting similarly pieced dresses in for Autumn.

    Did you ever get around to making Burda 116-08-2011?

      1. I’ll look forward to that – I’ve made the Vogue dress (but it wasn’t very successful). I’m thinking of having a go at the Burda dress with some linen I have. I’m just a bit worried that it doesn’t have the stretch the pattern calls for.

      2. It’s pretty tight on the hips as drafted but if you go up from your usual size below the waist I think it would work. I’m going to do that next time anyway, even if I use stretch fabric again.

  10. I just found your blog and I love this! I am planning to make this dress and never thought about stripes! I am totally doing it in stripes.

  11. I tried this dress on when in the States on holiday, loved it but didn’t buy cos of price for a knit dress. Thanks for your post, I would never have thought of this pattern. your black version looks fantastic on you.

  12. This will be a spectacular dress when completed. I liked your stripe exercise and how you worked out the order for the dress. Thanks for sharing your thought process with us!

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