Dear Diary: The Diagonal Lines Dress is Decidedly Difficult

Here it is, the completed Diagonal Lines Dress. And below is an epic tale of how she came into this world.

Burda Diagonal Lines Dress

February 28th, 2014: Come across Diagonal Lines Dress on BurdaStyle website. Lose my shit over this awesome dress. Asian-inspired! Asymmetrical! Colour-blocking! Exposed zipper! Pay for & download pattern immediately. Dance around room. Consider buying matching yellow bicycle.

Burda Diagonal Lines Dress

Saturday, March 1st, 12pm: Find black ponte knit in my stash. Head to my favourite fabric shop and pick up yellow, taupe, and grey ponte.

2pm: Arrive home and start cutting out yellow pieces.

2:10pm: Shout “fuck.” Realize I forgot to prewash the fabric.

2:11pm: Shout “fuck it,” and carry on cutting.

2:30pm: Realize that the pattern’s list of pieces to cut out for View B is missing a lot of information. Think, “hmmm, this dress has a lot of pieces, and some pieces need to be in different colours than others. It sure would be helpful if these pattern directions weren’t all fucked up. Perhaps I can figure this out over a glass of red wine.” Remove scissors from hand and replace with glass of wine.

11:37pm: Wine, surprisingly, does not produce desired brain wave. Post a plea for help in the comments section for this dress on the Burda website. Click on the box that says “This is a Question”, designed to make you erroneously think that someone at Burda might actually read your question and try to answer it. (They won’t.) Because, let’s face it, if you just wanted the average reader to know it’s a question, you could just put a, you know, question mark at the end of your question.

Burda comments box. Is there any point to clicking the "This is a Question" box?

~~~Time passes. No answers forthcoming from Burda. I move on to other things in a haze of bitter disappointment.~~~

June 7, 6:43 pm: Triumph! Discover the How to Sew the Diagonal Lines Dress video during a half-price video sale at Burda. Think, “A video! This should explain everything!” and, “Who the hell pays $16.99 for a single video, anyway?” By this point the half-cut-out diagonal lines dress has been languishing in an over-stuffed ziplock bag in the basement.

Late August: Realize that when one pays for a Burda video, one doesn’t actually get to keep it forever! Surprise! You’ve only paid to rent it for a period of time before it becomes unavailable to you. Think, “WTF?”, and, “I’d better finish that dress before the damn video expires.” Open video to find there is no mention of the errors in the pattern piece list for View B. She’s making View A. Sigh. Decide to try to figure out the pattern pieces without a glass of wine. Miracle of miracles, the non-wine approach seems to work.

Diagonal Lines Dress Cutting Instructions

My notes on cutting the pieces.

A few days pass while I try to figure out why my serger is doing this to everything I sew:

Something wrong here…every seam comes out with one side offset from the other by about an inch.

Eventually give up on serger, spend ages ripping out the serged seams, and sew the dress with my regular sewing machine and a twin needle.

Friday, Sept 5, 4pm: Think, “Hey, I’m halfway through sewing this dress…I could probably finish it this weekend and wear it to my lectures on Monday.” (I believe that is the textbook definition of hubris right there. Heroine’s downfall about to come…)

Sunday, Sept 7, 11am: Feeling good! I am ON FIRE. I am opening a CAN OF WHOOP-ASS on this dress. I have only to sew on the ZIPPER and hem the skirt & sleeves and I will be DONE! Get to work pinning on zipper.

12pm: Get to work ripping out zipper and redoing it.

1:30pm: Get to work ripping out zipper and redoing it.

3pm: Get to work ripping out zipper and redoing it. Realize this time I should just baste it in place to make the inevitable subsequent ripping out much easier. Fire definitely out. Whoop-ass has completely dissipated.

5pm: Get to work ripping out zipper and redoing it.

6pm: THE GODDAMN ZIPPER IS FINALLY NOT A DISASTER. It’s not very good, but it’s not a disaster. I am quite happy to settle for just not a disaster at this point. The marriage of a heavy zipper and very stretchy fabric is inevitably not a happy one, it seems, but I can live with most of those wrinkles and rolls.

Burda Diagonal Lines Dress

8pm: Finished. I have completely fudged the neckline — one side is decidedly more cheongsam that the other — but I am choosing instead to call this a “design feature”. The skirt is hemmed, and while I realize the skirt is quite loose and should be taken in more at the seams for a better fit, I am choosing instead to call this “future proofing”. (I have other, far less flattering pictures that show the skirt is plainly too big, but I’m not sharing those with you, of course.)

8:10pm: Husband returns home and I model the dress for him. “It’s great!” he says. And then, more carefully: “I don’t know if you care, but there’s a few wrinkles back here near the z—”  Let’s just say he didn’t get a chance to finish that sentence. Bless that wonderful man for trying to be helpful at the risk of losing an eye, though.

9pm: Realize that I have only basted the zipper in place. With visions of splitting open my dress in front of 200 horrified first year students, I rush back to the machine to restitch it.

11pm: Go to sleep. Have actual nightmare about sewing zippers.


Monday, Sept 8, 10:18am: dress has survived one lecture. Stroll into faculty meeting fashionably late. (Or more truthfully, hurry in, all sweaty from first lecture and hoofing it the 4 blocks between buildings.)

10:34am: Text message from my stylish colleague and friend:


Are you still reading? I can’t believe you made it this far into this lengthy post. You must be some kind of sewing nerd, no? So ok, I’ll give you more nerdy details about my own modifications and what I hope is helpful information if you decide to try sewing this dress yourself:

  • Instead of using the small facing for the upper right front (the yellow section), I doubled up the fabric on this piece — a full facing — for more coverage since it covers most of the bust area. All other pieces were single layer.
  • I cut a size 36, but I ended up having to cut off at least three inches of fabric on either side of the centre back torso to make it fit. I didn’t cut much off the centre back skirt, but I should have — it’s definitely a bit too loose. I usually err on the side of cutting one size larger, but I must remind myself in future that I need to err the opposite way when cutting stretch fabrics.
  • The “Cutting Out” section of the pattern for View B is missing a bunch of pieces: 1. Yellow stretch jersey: add piece 25 (right upper back) and piece 30 (back right facing) 2. Beige stretch jersey is missing altogether: you have to cut out piece 22 (upper left front), 25 (left upper back), and 30 (left back facing)
  • Several of the pattern pieces (#21, 22, and 24) have separate sections within the piece that are meant to be cut separately. It does mention this in the “Preparations” section of the pattern but it’s easy to miss so I’ll reinforce that bit of very important information here: 1. Piece 21 has a band of facing that appears to be part of piece 21 but should be cut separately with its own seam allowance and sewn in place to create a facing. 2. Ditto for piece 22. 3. Piece 24 (the front skirt), should be cut in 3 separate sections. Cut out each of the 3 pieces with their own seam allowances and then sew them back together to create the diagonal seam lines on the front of the skirt.
  • I put big X’s on the wrong sides of all pieces with blue tailor’s chalk, because I can’t tell the right from wrong sides on ponte knit, and it would have been really easy to get these pieces all turned around. I also discovered that blue chalk goes straight through yellow fabric to show on the right side. Design feature, baby!
  • I couldn’t find a zipper long enough to go the whole length of the dress, so I just left an unfinished vent at the back. This ponte knit doesn’t fray at all so it looks just fine. If I had been organized I would’ve planned to have extra seam allowance at the bottom vent and figured out where to place that at the cutting phase, but that seemed far too mathy.
  • I opted not to bother with the tucks at the shoulders, primarily because I had no idea what the hell the instructions for doing them meant.
  • I didn’t add 3 snaps at along the edge where the yellow front meets the beige front as the pattern directs. I think that would just create lumps. Instead I topstitched them together along the length of the yellow edge.

Right Now, as this is published: the dress is sitting in the laundry basket, awaiting its non-prewashed fate…fingers crossed.


UPDATE: Burda, you cheeky little devil, you!  I just discovered that you added a Diagonal Lines Dress Sewing Lesson, complete with detailed instructions and illustrations, to your website on March 4th! It’s awesome that you made this bonus material, especially since the actual pattern directions are messed up and haven’t been corrected. I guess you didn’t want to be too braggy about it though, since you didn’t put a link to it from the Diagonal Lines Dress pattern page. [Cripes, Burda, WTF?]


Yesssss! I’m a nerdy badass. Or a badass nerd. (Or, ok…I’m prepared to accept I am just a nerd.)

Yarncore screenprint

Screenprint by Kat Gomboc

I purchased this lovely 11 x 14″ screenprint by Kat Gomboc at the Trinity Bellwoods Park Outdoor Art Show & Sale (part of the Queen West Art Crawl) in Toronto. I love the contrast of the skull motif and the French country toile fabric.

Now all I need is a jean jacket to sew this to the back of. And maybe accessorize with a little something nerdy yet badass like this:

Problem is, I’d find a way to work some yarn onto those needles and then people would *really* look at me funny on the subway.