Downton Abbey dress

Do you look at the fashion pictures in BurdaStyle and think unflattering  or dowdy or I wore it in the seventies/eighties/nineties why would anyone want to make and wear that again?

I thought all of this, and more, when I saw this pattern (BurdaStyle 08-2013-109)

Flip, over went the page.

But my daughter did none of the above. She thought it would be a great style for a winter church dress.

Buttoned up to the neck I said, a V neck would be more flattering on you. I can undo the buttons she said. My shirt dress has the same style she said. I really like it she said.

How could I resist?

Technical details

Pattern: BurdaStyle 08-2013-109

Size: 36-44. I made a 40 with a 3 cm FBA (added 6 cm overall to the bust measurement) and some adjustments through the waist and at the armscyes. Looking at the photos, I probably could have taken a bit more in, but the ease makes it comfortable to wear, and the style has the loose look about it..


Well, this one has quite a few.

  • Main fashion fabric: stretch cotton woven, from Gay Naffine’s fabric outlet sales last year
  • Sleeves: silk chiffon, from deep stash. Bought from one of the fabric stores in Adelaide CBD before they closed or turned into something else (Johnsons Fabrics? does anyone remember back that far?)
  • Cuffs and collar: stretch velvet, also from old stash from Gay Naffine about 5 years ago
  • Lining: Stretch satin, in silvery grey, bought just days before sewing, from DK Fabrics on Port Road.

Changes I made:

  • Shortened by 5 cm. It’s still 1940’s in length.
  • Lined the bodice and skirt. This was so worth it – oh it feels lovely said Felicity

  • Didn’t add the ribbon armscye detail. I still might. I ran out of time. Instead I overlooked the seams with black thread and ironed the seam back into the sleeve. It gives a similar effect to outline the shoulders.

Oops, that big gather should’ve been straightened out for the photo! And that’s a flesh coloured ‘spencer’ underneath: Felicity’s skin doesn’t have a shoulder seam

The sleeves are very gathered with a very high sleeve cap and the armscyes are a bit cut in, but not so much that a bra strap would show. It’s a nice effect, particularly with sheer sleeves.

  • Left the in seam pockets off. This was not intentional, I just forgot.
  • Drafted a mandarin collar rather than sewing on a velvet ribbon as Burda instructed. I used Rhonda’s great instructions.
  • I made the cuffs from the same velvet as the mandarin collar, rather than from chiffon. The velvet is stretch so organza was used as interfacing.


And the best thing (well the second best thing after making a dress that my daughter loves)?

There is enough of the blue stretch cotton left for a skirt for me.

I have this skirt pattern cut out (BurdaStyle 11-2013-123)

Yes. Another pattern that lots of you probably just turned the page on. You were thinking, pleats out from the waist? How unflattering would that be? Why would anyone want to add extra bulk there?

I guess we will see…






11 thoughts on “Downton Abbey dress

  1. Very pretty dress – one of my favorite colors. Love the name of your blog, too – fits me and hubby to a T!!! Our thing when we got married was that we were truly a perfect fit, cuz he likes to cook and I like to eat. 😆

    1. This is a favourite colour combination for me too. I’m glad I could steer my daughter away from black and white.
      Yes, the blog name could have been he cooks..she eats…

  2. That is a beautiful dress, I’m not surprised your daughter loves it. I’ve thought of making that skirt as well, I look forward to seeing how yours turns out!

  3. Glad your daughter likes this style, I must admit I have the same thoughts as you when I first saw the pattern. Lovely idea to do chiffon sleeves. Yes I have fond memories of Johnson’s in Gawler Place, eons ago, they even had evening fabrics across from their other department across the walkway. I still have some pieces from those days, when I was a novice sewer…

  4. It looks lovely on her. The sleeves are a beautiful detail, and the mandarin collar a good call – I can imagine a standing up ribbon being a nightmare to sew and to wear!
    I have the same issue with my daughters, I look at the neons, or boxy oversized things, and think urrgh, yuck, that looked awful on me 20 or 25 years ago, and they are all keen for me to make it for them! Then if I do make it, they look terrific and very fashionable. I think the patterns do change a little bit – the nice armscye shape and the sheer sleeves look very current to me.

    1. Yes, I’m very happy I did not go with the ribbon as the collar. I’ve hand sewn the ribbon belt on now, after the first wearing (it kept on moving back up to Felicity’s waist rather than sitting on the drop waist seam). It would not feel good on her neck and it would have been awful to attach.
      Neon and boxy, I have those requests too…

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