Vintage Butterick 4379 - polka dot summer dress

Tuesday 13 March 2018

I originally made this swinging sixties dress back in December last year. I wish I could say that it's been work frequently over the summer just past, but in reality the fit wasn't quite right and after just two wears it has been sitting in my "to-fix" pile for the last few months. I love the fabric and the dress so I got over my laziness and made myself fix it.

This is a 1966 pattern that has been in my stash a long time and I've wanted to make it for such a long time. The main feature of this pattern is the tie neckline, but it gave me all sorts of problems trying to get it comfortable. The neckline in the pattern is quite wide, as it has a fold over component:

The neckline is cut on the bias and I didn't quite have enough fabric to cut it out in piece, hence the unsightly seem down the centre front. The first time I sewed this I found it sat too high, just under my chin, so I ended up trimming 3cm off the top of the front of the dress so that it sat lower at front. And then it still felt too tight, so I redid the zipper so that it finished well below the neckband hoping that would fix it. It felt slightly better, but after wearing it twice it did feel too constrictive and it looked like I had no neck. The photos below are the original neckline:

So to fix this, I unpicked the neckline once again and cut off that extension tab. So now the band is narrower and it can be worn standing up, but I prefer to fold it over to retain the essence of the original look and to make it sit lower.

I also spread out the point where the back and front dresses are sewn into the neckline band - there's now a gap instead of them meeting at the neckband. Doing this doesn't seem to affect the fit or show off too much underarm flesh so I'm calling it a final fix. I am wearing a strapless bra here so the straps don't show - this dress may be from the sixties but I'm not about to go with the free love bra less look!

I didn't have enough fabric to pattern match which is why those dots are so very badly place at the centre back. I also used an invisible zipper instead of a lapped zipper because it's quicker and easier to install an invisible zip even if it's not authentic to the era.

The rest of the dress is pretty simple - it's an a-line shape with some gentle shaping darts front and back to give it a bit of shape.

The fabric helps too with the dress not looking too sack like - this is a nicely draping lightweight denim by Art Gallery fabrics that I bought from Selvage Fabrics last year. The polka dots is a nod to one of the dresses on the pattern envelope and I think it suits this style and era of the pattern perfectly.

Fingers crossed we have a  few more weeks of warmish weather so I can wear this again. The few times I wore it previously I got a lot of compliments on it, including from my friend's husband who is real blokey bloke so that was quite amazing!

polka dot dress in blue denim

Style Arc Olivia: the jungle dress

Sunday 4 March 2018

The oppressive summer heat and humidity is continuing in these parts, so last week I made a quick and simple summer dress. This is the Style Arc Olivia, which I bought during the 50% Valentine's Day sale but have now only got around to using it.

image via Style Arc

The fabric I've used is a Cotton and Steel cotton called "Paradise Garden" that I won from Brave Fabrics in the Australian Sewing Guild Castaway to Couture competition I entered last year with this refashioned dress. This fabric has lovely colours that didn't fade at all after washing which is always a good start, but it might be a bit too thick for this style - versions made by other people in rayon and polyester seem to drape much better than my version.

I've only made separates by Style Arc before, so I wasn't sure how I would go in their dress sizes. I ended up cutting a size 6 for the bodice and a size 12 for the skirt which most closely matched my measurements. However, like some other bloggers who made this dress, I found the neckline to be too wide and too scooped. I have narrow rounded shoulders, and a flat chest so I should have fixed this before cutting out the pattern, but I did not.

It's not really obvious from this photo, but the neckline tended to fall off my shoulders and just had too much fabric across the front. So to do a quick and easy fix I literally lifted up that shoulders until the neckline was at a good point and the armhole wasn't too tight and then just sewed a new shoulder seam about 3.5cm down from the original, as you can see in the photo below.

This fixed the neckline a bit - it sits in a much better place on me but is still a little low for my liking. I don't need my bony and freckly decolletage out on display so I do prefer a little higher neckline.

The width of the bodice is still an issue though - I can easily pinch out a few centimetres at the centre front and if I make this again I will redraft the bodice to make it less wide at the bustline and with a higher neckline.

I also found this dress really long. My hem is about 10cm deep, even with reducing the overall length by increasing the shoulder seam. The waistline now sits at my natural waist because of the shoulder adjustment, which is fine for this style, although it would help if I wore my belt straight around the waist instead of crooked like I have in these photos!

So overall it's a simple sweet dress that I will make again, but with adjustments to the bodice and neckline. If you have a long torso and are blessed with an ample chest this may probably work for you straight out of the packet. Apart from that issue it's a really quick project and easy for the beginner even with the usual sparse Style Arc instructions.

Burda of the Month: 2/2018 #119 high waisted pencil skirt

Thursday 1 March 2018
pencil skirt in Outback Wife Gertrude Made fabric

I managed to finish February's Burda project in February, so yay for me! I skipped January for the time being because it has been far too hot around here to think about long sleeved dresses, but I will get onto it soon.

The February issue had quite a few nice patterns, but I decided to make the high waisted pencil skirt 2/2018 #119 to see me through the last few weeks of our summer. The jacket that goes with this skirt (in the photo below) is on my to do list for winter, possibly with a matching skirt in a nice tweed or boucle.

image via Burda Style

For this version though I've used a cotton barkcloth in a vibrant emerald green floral. You may recognise this fabric because it's very distinct - this is Elaine Orange from the Outback Wife range by Gertrude Made. I bought this last July from Selvage, and have been umming and aahing ever since trying to figure what to make with it because it was too lovely to use on any old project. This fabric has a rough textured look to it, but it's actually soft and wears really well - I took these photos after a long day in the office and the skirt isn't too rumpled.

The skirt is a pretty simple shape. It doesn't have a waistband, but has a band that wraps from the front dart around the side to the back dart and the raw ends of the band are enclosed in the dart. Whilst this is a nice design line, it made it fiddly to fit because to take in that side seam I had to take that band off to re-sew the side seam. And funnily enough in this print you can hardly see that panel at the waistband anyway!

Burda calls this skirt high waisted but I find it sits just slightly above my natural waist line, which does feel strange since I'm so used to wearing everything low slung. It does have the benefit of keeping your blouse tucked in though! Burda also describes this as narrowly cut, but I think the skirt could use a little more pegging to get the classic pencil skirt shape.

I do like the side and rear views of this skirt, I managed to get quite a neat fit and although I didn't attempt to pattern match due to a lack of fabric you can't notice it on the side and the back pattern somehow matches really well.

Fitting wise I made a size 40 at the waist grading out to a size 42 but found it slightly too big and ended up shaving a bit off. According to Burda's measurement chart these are the sizes for my measurements, but I do like a tighter fit in my clothes so perhaps that explains it. I also reduced the length by about 8cm which is standard actually since I'm normal sized and not a Burda model glamazon.

I happened to have an emerald green standard zipper in my stash at the correct length, so I sewed a hand picked zip instead of using an invisible zip. It turned out barely visible except for a few prick stitches in the yellow part, so I'm glad I went the frugal path and used what I had because it turned out just fine.

handpicked zipper

Overall I give this pattern the big thumbs up. The pattern is well drafted with all the seams lining up how they should and the instructions aren't too bad but since it's a simple skirt you don't really need them anyway. I can see this in a solid version that would make that side band at the waist more obvious, and a bit more pegging of the skirt it will be perfect.

In case you're wondering, the top is Burda 8/2015 #120 that I made back in March 2016, posted here.

And finally thank you to all those who have been commenting on my posts - for some reason my replies aren't showing up but I am definitely reading them. I may need to reinstall Disqus or look into some other commenting platform because I very much appreciate all those that take the time to read and comment.