A few days ago I reviewed the new BurdaStyle book “Sewing Vintage Modern”. When the author Jamie Lau asked me to make a dress using one of the patterns from the book, I had a brainstorm. Despite the over-the-top insanity of my Toddler in Tiara costume this Halloween, I loved the dropped waist and realized it’s a style I’ve never really rocked before. The Louisa Dropped Waist dress from the book is a classic 1920’s silhouette, but unfortunately for a lady with my birthing hips, flapper dresses are not always the most flattering – but give me a waist and we can talk.

The dropped waist has been back this season in a big way (check out this beauty and these beautiful babies) and I couldn’t help but wonder what the BurdaStyle flapper dress would look like with a bit of a modern spin. I wanted a red ponte knit, but Mood was backlogged with orders post-Sandy. I ended up settling for one on When it arrived I almost cried; so rough and acrylic and completely unwearable (we need a fabric feeling app on our iphones ladies). Thankfully I ended up finding a beautifully soft double knit while fabric shopping with Sarah in Toronto. It wasn’t quite the shade of neon red I had in mind, but it would do.

In the spirit of the book, which gloriously celebrates pattern modification, I made a muslin out of the icky combustible ponte acrylic nightmare and fiddled and twiddled until I came up with a fit that I liked. I added a boat neckline, took in a lot at the waist, and added a few darts in the back to prevent the fabric from pooling in unsightly ways. Rather than doing multi tiers as the original pattern called for, I added one gathered tier.

Because jersey is very clingy, I thought it wise to line the entire dress with more of the double knit to minimize the old “belly button shadow” issue (am I the only one who notices this in tight fitting dresses?!) The tier was also doubled, so the entire dress has some heft to it. It is practically reversible! I wish the tier was a little fuller at the hips like in some of the links I shared above, but I think you would need a less drapey fabric to achieve that poofiness. I had purchased some big beautiful gold zippers in Toronto as well and intended to do one of my classic exposed zip moves, but this lady in red is so stretchy I didn’t even need it! It’s so comfortable. It’s basically the dress equivalent of jogging pants!

She had her debut at my best friend’s 40th and was much complimented; I also wore her to my staff party this week. It’s turning out to be the perfect holiday dress – lots of stretch for when you overdo it on Christmas cookies.

I thought I would share how I styled it for a Montreal winter night out.

Thankfully it has been pretty mild the past week so I could still pull off wearing my cape! I haven’t felt this sophisticated since I accidentally ordered a vodka martini and had to pretend I could drink straight alcohol without whimpering.

So there we have it. My take on a 20’s flapper dress. I am so happy I managed to take a silhouette I’ve always loved and make it work for my body. You should take a minute and check out Amy’s version; it’s jaw dropping and she looks fabulous in it!

Big love to BurdaStyle and Jamie Lau for asking me to participate! I love the book and I love my dress!


Hi! I'm Heather Lou, a pattern designer and sewing educator for the modern maker. At Closet Core Patterns, we transform your imagination into step-by-step implementation that helps you create a wardrobe you love - not one you're limited to buying off the rack.

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