A Cool Cowl Dress

If you’re looking for a cool summer dress, to dress up or down, check out BurdaStyle Aug 2011 #116, aka The Cool Cowl Dress.

Similar to Catherine Daze‘s recent post, this pattern was a bit of a ‘sleeper’ for me…and one I am glad I woke up to! I was inspired by several versions on BurdaAddicts, especially this Halloween Orange version, made as a top:


If you are a fan of BurdaStyle Magazine, check out the BurdaAddicts site. Various pattern renditions are posted by magazine issue as well as by garment type. I particularly enjoy scrolling through by issue. It’s a French site, but not that hard to comprehend if you are not a French speaker (I am not). I use Google Translate when in doubt. They recently also set up sites for SimplicityAddicts and BMVAddicts.

Back to the dress…it’s similar to the wonderful Vogue 1250, which I’ve also made, but this one is much looser…not so much ‘stomach-sucking-in’ required! (at least for me!)


  • There are only two pieces, front and back (I didn’t add the pockets). The cowl takes up a bit of fabric but not too much. Both pieces fit well within 2m of wide fabric.


  • Both are slinky knits. I have yet to see the term ‘ITY‘ (Interlock Twist Yarn) on a sales docket, but I think that’s what they are. Both fabrics are from Spotlight. The B+W polka dot is a little ‘rougher’ to touch than the floral fabric.
  • I recently discovered the benefits of an FBA but did not need to add one with this very roomy pattern.
  • I definitely need a belt, it’s quite sack-like otherwise (mind you, it’s great for feasting, without the belt… 😉
  • The sleeves have a self-binding. I also self-bound the hems on both dresses. The floral one looks ok but the polka dot hem looks skewiff…apparently it ‘doesn’t look that bad’ according to my family, but it bugs me….and having recently discovered the charms of ‘Steam-a-Steam’, I’m going to remove the polka-dot hem binding and apply SAS.
  • I used stay tape in the shoulders to keep their shape. The back shoulder has slight gathers. which adds a bit of interest.
  • Be careful  to stitch only up to marked locations on the neck seams. I got a little giddy with success and whipped up a third version in a bright mondrian print and ruined it by sewing the shoulder/cowl too far into the neck and it bunches up unattractively around my neck ! No, I’m not posting a picture of that.
  • I’m going to add 4cm to the length the next time I make this; it’s just a little on the short side when belted.

Such a quick and easy dress – to make and to wear!


  1. Both of these dresses look great on you and leaving off the pockets was smart especially when worn belted. Steam a Seam will definitely take care of the hem issue! ………… someone also just told me about Wonder Tape too 🙂 Good job!

  2. Love both of these dresses, and they are quite flattering on you! I will have to investigate SAS and Wonder Tape. I need to run to keep up with you blogging mavens! What type of stay tape did you use in the shoulders?

    • Hi Becky, I’m only one step ahead! I’m off to I investigate Wonder Tape! I used cotton twill stay tape in the shoulders, cos that’s what I had on hand. I’ve also used clear elastic or a narrow slice of selvage on other projects…

  3. Great dresses! I like your comparison to Vogue 1250- I will have to try this one instead, as I too found the Vogue one to be a little snug in the tummy area! Off to check out the Burda Addicts site….

    • Hi Ann! Yes, this cowl dress is a lot more “forgiving” than Vogue 1250… ;-). Really enjoyed seeing/reading about the dresses you’ve made. Congrats on the sewing studio!

  4. Fabulous dresses. I like how the cowl works with your versions much better than the original. Had a look at Burda Addicts. That seemed like a great site too but very confused by it. Will have another look later.

    • Thanks Oobop! I found BurdaAddicts confusing too…then figured out I needed to click on one of the links on the left side of the site where they have all the issues listed numerically, eg: 08/2011. Then you can scroll through all the posts of items made from that issue. They’re listed in the order they were posted. Does this help?

    • Thanks BeaJay! The caramel colour is one of “mine” according to the colour swatch from the colours session we did at Rhodes. How are you going with “picking your colours?”

  5. Both dresses are lovely and look great on. Thanks for the V1250 comparison – I have shied away from that one because it seems so form fitting. I would leave the pockets out also. SAS (I like SAS Lite2) and Wonder Tape are my good friends in the sewing room!

    • Thank you Andrea! I like the interesting back/waist seam on V1250 but feel self conscious wearing the dress..unless also wearing a jacket or cardigan…which rather defeats the purpose of a summer dress! I think it might be less ‘revealing’ in a more ‘solid’ knit but then you’d lose the lovely cowl effect! Just checked my newly purchased SAS – it’s the Lite2…which I gather is best for lighter fabric?

  6. Damn, back to the fabric store. I love this. I’m really into cowls and patterns of summery dresses that I can’t wear in the dead of winter. I think I would nix the pockets on mine. Maybe. Hmm. Best get the pattern. So nice she made it twice!

  7. Love them both. Like a couple of other commenters I like the idea of the Vogue 1250 dress, but I know I’d never wear it because it’s so flat over the tummy area. This Burda version is definitely going on my must make list.

    • Thanks Sharon. I’ve removed the self binding on the hem of the spotted one…and realised the dots are not linear…so I think the hem is just going to have to have a ‘skewiff’ look to it….(if I can stand it…). Bummer, cos the spotted one feels the best to wear….

  8. These are great and I have some silk crying out for that blouse adaptation. I’m with Ooobop on this site tho! I’m going to have to allocate some serious computer time to getting my head round navigating this – It looks like it will be worth it tho! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Oh my!!!!! I hadn’t noticed that pattern yet, a total sleeper for me too – but your stunning versions have woken me up! I love love love the polka dot version best, but your floral one is gorgeous too. Thanks also for the link to BurdaAddicts – I’ll check it out right now (right up *my* alley!). Funny how you can look at a pattern and go ‘meh’, but see someone else’s version and go ‘WOW’…that’s what’s so great about our community 🙂 So, thanks!

    • Thank you ChicE – I find BurdaStyle is the most ‘me’ of all the pattern companies…I have patterns from others but I find I have to do a lot of fiddling, esp with the Big 4, due to fairly wide variations in ease. (it could just be the patterns I picked 😉 . I know others feel that tracing BurdaStyle patterns is a lot of fiddling too…but I trace all my patterns, so not a big deal for me. You also need to have some knowledge of construction order and finishing techniques…BurdaStyle instructions are generally sparse…Though, with the way you ingeniously slice and splice clothes, you’ll have no trouble at all!

    • I love the way they just ‘pull on’ and go! Mind you, the side profile on these is a little more ‘full’ than I like…might try reducing it a tad on the next version…

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  11. I LOVE this pattern and how you’ve transformed it using different fabrics! It looks the perfect dress- knit and therefore comfy, but at the same time extremely chic with its cowl….lovely!

    • Thank you Scruffy Badger! I wore the polka dot one today…sooo comfy…and versatile….this time with summery sandals…(tights and boots the other day…though I think that was the last of the cool weather down here! )

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