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Barbara Dress

Added Oct 5, 2013

by alekat

Sydney, Australia






After taking my time to make this, I have finally finished my Barbara Hulanicki inspired dress. It’s soft and feminine and even if it’s really more 70s than 60s, I must argue – for its inspiration comes from one of the great ladies of the 60s – Barbara Hulanicki

The idea for this dress came when I saw the fabric itself – a black polyester chiffon with tiny gold foil print. The colours reminded me of Big Biba and the fabric design reminded me of the more 60s Biba dresses

My version is black chiffon, lined with black crepe – here was the original idea;

Dress with fitted bodice, a-line skirt, gathered shoulders with bishop sleeves and buttoned cuffs.
Bodice underlined with black crepe, with sleeves to remain unlined. Cuffs to be lined in organza to keep the lightness
Zippered back, hem just above knee length

All of these elements were achieved apart from the puffed shoulders. The sleeve pattern piece I used was for a set-in sleeve and I assumed I could just push all the gathering to the top of the shoulder, but because the sleeve is actually the same size as the arm-hole no gathering was needed! So I settled for set in sleeves and I’m ok with that.

The lining was also used as the facing for the neck line. I ended up attempting something I really didn’t know how to do! The bodice was fine but I forgot to do the darts separately – you can only see them on the inside anyway.

Then I attached the skirt to the bodice and inserted the zipper in the back before joining it all together. I may have done it in the wrong order trying to be fancy and sewing the bodice as one piece. The French seams also threw me off – trying to do that, while inserting the zipper on two layers of fabric. Oh my head! At least black fabric is forgiving and you can’t see the random open seams!

The sleeves are a little too short and make bending my arms a little tricky – just like the original Biba dresses which stopped their wearers from reaching and bending, ha!

But this was unintentional – The too small cuffs stop the sleeves from moving up and down my arm easily so I have to kind of change the way I move my arm for that day when I wear it

I lined the cuffs with black organza instead of interfacing. It gives lightness to the cuff and keeps its transparency with the chiffon. You simply sew the organza onto the fabric piece before you construct it. Exactly the same as sew-in interfacing but you’re not restricted by the lack of colours and opaqueness

The hems were finished with rolled hems, also called narrow hems. I used this technique because the length of the skirt was perfect and I didn’t want to loose too many cm. It’s also another good seam for chiffon and light fabrics as it doesn’t affect the hang.

Most sewing machines come with a special foot to achieve this, but mastering it takes some practice. These seams look neat – but you should see the start of the hem stitch – it’s not so neat

Thanks for looking in – you can see more 60s style sewing on my blog




Spring, Summer, Fall
Garment Type
Bohemian, Classic, Rock, Romantic
Chiffon, Rayon

8 Comments Sign in to add a post

  • Dsc06629_large

    Feb 12, 2014, 09.51 AMby kelerabeus

    I’m in love with your dress! I think I’m gonna try and make something similar, hope you don’t mind :)

    2 Replies
    • Catherine_a-01_large

      Feb 14, 2014, 10.52 AMby alekat

      Sure! I’d love to see the end result!

    • Dsc06629_large

      Apr 25, 2014, 10.13 AMby kelerabeus

      I did it! You can see my version here I will upload it on Burdastyle as well, as soon as site starts working again :)

  • Betykissposterd906_1__large

    Oct 7, 2013, 11.14 AMby Ivanamania

    bravo, alekat! you have made one fantastic dress!

    1 Reply
    • Catherine_a-01_large

      Oct 7, 2013, 12.37 PMby alekat

      Thank you! xxoo

  • El_large

    Oct 6, 2013, 07.04 AMby Ellen Hatteland

    Lovely dress! Suits you perfect :)

    1 Reply
    • Catherine_a-01_large

      Oct 6, 2013, 09.28 AMby alekat

      thank you!

  • 20170310_191639_large

    Oct 6, 2013, 12.49 AMby Mary Athey

    Great dress and it,’s lovely on you. I love your fabric and the pattern x

    1 Reply
    • Catherine_a-01_large

      Oct 6, 2013, 09.31 AMby alekat

      Thank you! i love the fabric too, im so glad i found it

  • Anticvesna_1208_lowres-2_large

    Oct 5, 2013, 08.31 PMby byVA

    I am in love with your dress! You did it great!

    1 Reply
    • Catherine_a-01_large

      Oct 6, 2013, 09.34 AMby alekat

      thank you :)

  • Firstroll-3_large

    Oct 5, 2013, 08.28 PMby integerclub

    This is gorgeous, that fabric is fantastic and very Biba-esque!

    1 Reply
    • Catherine_a-01_large

      Oct 6, 2013, 09.36 AMby alekat

      thank you! I love Biba – can you tell?

  • Img1401055272558_large

    Oct 5, 2013, 07.24 PMby SassyT

    1 Reply
    • Catherine_a-01_large

      Oct 6, 2013, 09.37 AMby alekat

      YAY! Thank you xo

  • Image_large

    Oct 5, 2013, 05.09 PMby Debbie Alli

    Gorgeous as ever! You must have such a fantastic wardrobe :) And I know what you mean about that rolled hem foot – great once you get going but so tricky to get a neat start.

    1 Reply
    • Catherine_a-01_large

      Oct 6, 2013, 09.38 AMby alekat

      Thanks! I do and its bursting!! I must sort through it. Every time i use the foot i have to relearn how to do the technique as i dont use it that often

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