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?]

43 thoughts on “Dear Diary: The Diagonal Lines Dress is Decidedly Difficult

  1. Impressive Lori (I did read the whole thing) and crazy funny account, as always. One question though: did you get the matching yellow bike yet?


    1. Hi Cristina! You’re a trooper–thanks for reading! I have an orange bike already, so perhaps my next project should be orange… Hope all’s well with you. 🙂


    1. Thanks, Erika. The dryer?–I don’t know if I’m brave enough for that. I’d need lots of wine fortification to attempt it. 🙂


  2. I am so impressed with you! Well done for keeping going! How many times did you do the zipper in the end???? I lost count! But it does look really amazing, so definitely with it!


      1. That’s exactly what it thought! I just made a dress and I kept taking the front out where the skirt joined the bodice! It wasn’t even a zip! Just a join! I did it so much I pulled all the weave in the fabric! Nightmare!!! Had to be creative with hiding it.


  3. I am pretty furious on your behalf. That is lousy customer service. You pay $17 for a video, and not only do you not get to keep it but it doesn’t even answer your questions! Please demand a refund. Because I am so mad that their poor instructions and errors resulted them in being $17 richer for a product that did not deliver.


    1. Thanks for your sympathetic fury, Suzanne! lol. I have a love-hate relationship with Burda. On the love side, I adore their patterns. They are always current and I find something I’d really love to wear in every one of their collections. And their website is the best of all the sewing-social-media sites out there. It certainly ain’t perfect, but my goodness, have you SEEN some of the lame social sewing sites out there? On the hate side, why would it be so hard for Burda to just make the pattern directions clearer? Just put some damn pictures in there and slightly more detailed explanations, fercrissake. And today I am actually more annoyed than ever because I just discovered, through doing a “diagonal lines” search on their website (I wanted to check if my new project had been posted yet), that they posted an illustrated Diagonal Lines Dress Sewing Lesson on their website way back in March — but they didn’t bother to link to it from the pattern page, so how would anyone deciding to make the pattern know that it exists? I sure didn’t know it existed. How annoying! Bah!


  4. I made that dress in a single colour and without the zipper…it was still painful to fit – way too large; the neckline was too high; the front pieces too long; the skirt too curved and the waist way too small…but that is probably just my waist that was way too big… I eliminated the neck facing and just folded it over and cover stitched in place…

    I do, however, think it’s a pretty good dress so I am going to fix the pattern and make it again! …still without the zipper. It’s easy enough to pull on like a t-shirt.


    1. Good idea, Cheryl. The zipper is definitely not required because of the stretch factor…it’s more of a design detail than a functional one. Would love to see pictures of your dress(es). Please post!


  5. Oh wow, what a sewing saga! I hope it’s at least of consolation that the finished dress looks fab! 🙂 I’ve stopped buying Burda mag because I’ve never made anything out of it (the designs I’ve been drawn to have been the more complicated ones but lack the instructions I’d require to attempt them!). I can’t believe that about the video though – that’s some v expensive online video rental!!


    1. Thanks, Lady Stitcher! Yes, I think I’m going to take a bit of a Burda sabbatical. Only patterns that come with illustrated, detailed instructions for the next little while (or until I fall in love with the next Burda design, which unfortunately happens quite often).


  6. Sewing nerd here! You did an amazing job, love love love the dress. I have this pattern but I will definitely think twice and read your post 10 times again before attempting it now. Thanks for the very useful review!


    1. Yay, fellow sewing nerd! It’s honestly not that hard once I understood what pattern pieces were needed and that some pieces that came as one unit in the pattern were actually meant to be cut separately with their own seam allowance. And I think you’ll find the “Sewing Lesson” that I *just fucking found* on Burda’s website (too late for me) will be really helpful…see my update in the last paragraph of the post for the link. Let me know if you do try it!


      1. me too. funny, but its the only time im able to swear with such creativeness. the husband (with his deutsch accent) always repeats what he hears me say….thats even funnier!!


  7. Nice dress! Did you ever figure out what the deal was with your serger? That was happening to me for a while.. Now to prevent it, I lift the foot up and put both layers of fabric right up to the needle so that it is absolutely going to get guided by the feed dogs at the same time. Totally eliminates the problem 🙂 I’m glad I was pointed to your blog! I like your style!


    1. Thanks! I haven’t figured out the serger problem yet. It got cleared off the dining room table for a party two weekends ago and hasn’t been touched since! But someone in the Burda forums suggested it might be a problem with the differential feed setting…so I have to investigate that.


  8. Hi Lori, amazing dress! You are one of the winners of the giveaway for a review copy of my Dolores batwing pattern. I sent you an email as you but I haven’t heard from you so I think it may have gone into your spam folder? Please have a look! My email address is sozoblog (at) g mail (dot) com. Thanks! Zoe xxx


    1. Hi Zoe, thanks for getting in touch. I received the pattern and I look forward to sewing it up when I have a spare afternoon! Thank you so much!


  9. Loved reading your horror story… entertaining and realistic! I’m not sure if you tried this when putting in the zipper from hell, but when I put zippers in knit fabrics, I put a strip of interfacing along the seam allowances to stabilize it. ~1″ -1.5″ strip of lightweight interfacing along the edges.


    1. Mary, where have you been all my life? That makes so much sense. I will definitely do that if I ever attempt another zipper on stretchy fabric! Thanks for the tip.


  10. Reblogged this on Frivolous at Last and commented:

    This may be one of the most epic blog posts I’ve ever written. It’s been one year since I completed this dress so I’m celebrating the anniversary by re-sharing the post. Happy to report the dress is still in one piece and getting not only worn but also lots of compliments.


  11. I read to the end and enjoyed EVERY WORD! And not because I just cut out a whole dress with birds pointing upside down and could especially relate to the “fuck it” and wine sections, but because it was hilarious. The dress looks fab, too.


    1. Thanks, Vanessa! Does it make me a terrible person that I LOL’d at the thought of your poor upside down birds? Did you sew it and wear it anyway and call it ‘edgy’ if anyone asked? 😉


  12. Wow! You definitely have staying power. If that were me I would have taken to that dress with a pair of scissors and chucked it in the bin. WTF is wrong with Burda too. That’s such bad customer service. Boo Burda! The finished dress looks good by the way. Also good to hear I’m not the only one who sews and unpicks zippers, serging and seams numerous times. My unpicker has more miles on the clock than my sewing machine 😄


  13. I literally LOLLLLLLLED!!! at your post! of course all while drinking some HARD EARNED red wine… and I NEVER use the term LOL! (but you don’t know that)… anyway… the dress is amazeballs and I’m glad you stuck to it, I never would have. Recently started following you… so glad I did!


    1. Thanks, Michelle, and thanks for following! I love that dress, too, and it was quite a learning experience! Tell me, was the red wine hard-earned because you’d had a rough day of sewing?? Do tell… 😉


      1. The red wine was earned by starting my day with ginormous intent to sew a butload of bibs, burp cloths, blankets and possibly other items that start with “B” for my little side Business and some upcoming Boutiques. Unfortunately, a recently remodeled Bathroom became my focus of attention and I became a plumber, mirror and towel racks installer instead. Today, I will encase a window, so add finish carpenter to my list of “talents”. The sewing pile will have to stand by for another day. I’m sure there will be more wine involved as well. O_o


  14. Bwahahahaha! I laughed so hard! How on earth did you keep going? WTF isn’t even half of it. I will NEVER make up a Burda pattern after the horrendous stories I’ve read. How do they even stay in business??? But good on you. I still think it looks awesome 🙂


    1. Thanks for your comment, Jillian! I have often sworn the same thing after making a Burda pattern but I must admit, I LOVE their designs and I just keep going back for more (call me a masochist). In fact, I just finished sewing something from Burda’s August issue and it was easy-peasy and I’m swooning in love with the result. I will post that soon.


  15. Literally LOL’d reading this! I missed it the first time around, but happy anniversary to this saga and the resulting dress! 😉 Sounds like one hell of a clusterf*ck, but your dress looks really cool. It looks so cool, in fact, that my primitive mind is whispering, “Make that!” in the ear of my logical mind. O_o Logic will win out–for now, at least–but I am certainly glad you re-shared this post!


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