1940s Puffy Sleeve Dress: Burda Magazine 5-2009-122

Well, hello sailor! I am digging the World War II era vibe from this Burda 5-2009 #122  dress.

It feels like I’ve just been cranking out projects lately. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I started this dress a little over three months ago back in November 2011. I thought it would be fun to wear to the DC Tweed Ride but only managed to finish my cape. Then, I started  thinking I would wear it to church when I was visiting my parents in Florida at Thanksgiving.  I never got around to finishing the dress on the trip because I left one of the sleeves back home. Once I got back to Baltimore I wasn’t insterested in sewing a non-winter dress.

But, last week, I decided it was time to clear the sewing deck and tackle one of my three UFOs. It’s really just taking up mental and physical space. You’ll understand that I don’t remember too many details at this point.

Alterations? Just my now standard FBA and a swayback adjustment. I also raised the center front waistline by about two inches (perhaps over modulation on my FBA?). I’ll be honest. I don’t think this is a great dress if you are busty. It’s a very full top with all the tucks and the waist isn’t super defined. You may look a bit ’round’. I don’t think this is my most flattering silhouette. Not bad. Just not my best. But, I still like it. I think it’s best suited to a tall and lean Audrey Hepburn vs busty / curvy Marilyn Monroe 🙂

The dress has 52 pleats. Fifty. Two. Pleats. That includes pleats in the sleeve, sleeve lining, upper bodice / shoulder, bodice waist and skirt. I really really have to recommend that you baste the pleats. I do usually just pin in place, but for this many, I think you’ll be happier with the results if you hand baste.

The material is a wool challis from the Carol Collection. All deep purples and blues with paisley. Again, another fabric I would not have chosen for myself. But, is lovely for fall. The pattern does not call for lining, but I added a lavender silk for lining (also from the Carol Collection) and it’s absolutely luxe! Seriously. I would sleep in this dress just because the lining feels so very good.

The one thing I do not love is the neckline. Even with interfacing for reinforcing, one side is a little warped. Not enough for me to take it apart and fix. But, enough for me to notice. I wish I had used a facing / lining combination. The silk ins’t really stable enough to hold up the neckline well.

Overall, I’m pleased with the dress. It’s not my usual somewhat sleeker style. I love puffy sleeves and a full skirt. But, I do feel a bit twee and Talbots at the same time. Maybe because it’s retro I feel like I’m playing dress up a bit? I felt the same Talbots and twee feeling from this 2007 Burda dress from five years ago (mmm, would like to make that one up again now that I know to make an FBA). That being said, I plan to make this dress up again in a black washed silk that Carolyn gifted me about two years ago. Not the most ‘original’ idea — it was how they made it up in the magazine.

While the tucks and pleats are daunting, it’s well worth it for a fun design.

My pattern review is here.


  1. If you decide you don’t like the dress, I’d happily take it off your hands! 😉 Since I love blues and paisleys…..

    So pretty! And I think the belt gives it just enough definition that it doesn’t make you look “round” at all. 🙂

  2. The first thing I thought when I saw the first pic was “wow, what a fantastic color on her!” Your dress is lovely, and I agree it doesn’t make you look round at all. The belt really accents your waist. And definitely wear that color again – it’s fantastic with your perfect skin!

  3. That colour really does look fantastic on you, and I LOVE your hair. This reminds me a lot of a UFO I’ve had going for at least a year. This may inspire me to finish it. Great dress.

  4. I’m afraid I have to disagree with you. This dress is a excellent silhouette on you! It’s very flattering as is the color.

  5. I like how the fullness of the skirt is distributed. Pleats are underrated as a sewist’s friend, I think. Like many of the commenters above, I think this is a flattering silhouette on you — you are just not used to seeing yourself in this style. Could you add some pleated ribbon or some heavy lace to the neck edge? It would disguise the to-me-invisible wonkiness of the neckline. Although, now I think of it, it might send you over the twee cliff. Never mind.

  6. I think it is a flattering silhouette and that you aren’t used to it yet. You’re curves and thinness are still shown, just not in an agressive, sleek way that something more form fitting is. I really like the pattern and the dress, but I LOVE the fabric.

  7. Looks just darling on you, Ms. Celie!! Again, thank you for your brutal self-honesty. Your ongoing experiences are very encouraging to this reader.

    A beautiful dress on a beautiful woman!

  8. I don’t think it looks very twee or Talbots. I think it looks very nice on you. What black washed silk did I give you? Gawd, I have so much fabric I don’t even miss what I’ve given away! *LOL* Can’t wait to see the black version…just how long will that be btw? 🙂

  9. Fab dress! It is different from your usual style (as far as I can tell), but it’s good to go out of your comfort zone and see how you like different looks. Oh, and all of my projects take at least that long, if not longer! I just move over and make room for the mental space that they need.

  10. You look gorgeous in thisdress, the blue is such a lovely colour. I had completely forgotten this dress, but what a great pattern with all the the pleat details.

  11. That is a very sweet dress. I like that fabric you chose a lot. It looks so comfortable and easy to wear, I don’t think it’s twee side at all.

  12. Such a fantastic dress, I love your fabric! I made this up a couple years ago in red 4-ply silk, and it’s still one of my favorite dresses! Nice job, you look like a breath of spring air!

  13. The dress looks great on you. I wondered why I had never noticed it in my Burda magazine collection, but then I remembered that I had a missing issue (about a year after I started subscribing I realised I was missing an issue) and this is it. I really love your dress, but I think I’m glad it’s a missing issue because I *hate* marking, folding and basting pleats. I’ve just sewn a dress muslin this evening with 12 pleats and that is more than enough for me – 52 would have me setting fire to something just to get rid of my frustration!

  14. Love the fabric and it is great to have something in the wardrobe a bit different to everything else. It will be great int he black silk too!

  15. I think it’s a lovely silhouette on you, it really accentuates your assets-small defined waist, great legs and shoulders. I like the color but I’m not sure I’m along for the ride with the print-but who cares!?! It’s not me wearing it, and it really does look great on you!

  16. I think that looks nice on you. It may not be your usual style, but some days you want a change, right? If you make the hot little black dress version, may I suggest you make it a bit shorter to give us a peek at your lovely knees. That will amp up the hotness factor!

    Nice work!

  17. I too tend to shy away from dresses where the waist shaping in the bodice is formed with tucks/pleats as I worry about the “round” look, being busty too (but wider in the waist than you!). However, seeing this on you, I might re-evaluate this, as it looks so pretty. I think we are nowadays just so used to seeing a very form-fitting silhouette rather than this softer silhouette, so it’s more unusual than unflattering. It looks great with the belt, I think that’s probably the key to keeping the waist defined.

    Also, according to this month’s UK Vogue, paisley is now super fashionable…

  18. Gosh that looks great on you. Love the paisley, love the feminine, figure flattering shape and the workshmanship shows.

  19. I’m REALLY glad you mentioned the million pleats. I was seriously looking at this pattern.

  20. […] In other news, I got to see my cousins again plus some. One flew in from Australia and another from Florida. And, thanks to you, my readers, I got to be all knowledgeable and explain first cousins and first cousins once removed. I also figured out another ‘relative’ that was always around is in fact my third cousin!! In the photo below I’m wearing Burda 5-2009-122 made in Feb. 2012. […]

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