I’d like to apologise from the outset for the headless photos. I’m currently suffering from some rather dreadful cold sores, and no one needs to see that. I did think about delaying taking the photos until they subsided, but I wanted to take advantage of the last of the warmish weather, and besides, it’s been positively ages since I’ve updated this blog!
But lack of head aside, look at this dress I made! Last month Luke and I attended a dear friend’s wedding back in Australia, and I seized the opportunity to make myself a pretty dress. The pattern (Butterick 5750, now out of print but still able to be purchased on the Butterick website) is one I had actually made once before, but sadly I was still a little bit new to sewing and I ended up making it too small. Which was such a pity, because it was lovely. I made it up in a red and white crepe that I got for $1.99 in a crazy US sale, and it was swishy and delightful. And, most definitely, never going to fit. Someone in Berkeley is probably swanning around in it right now. C’est la vie.
The fabric came from Centrepoint Fabrics, and was simply labelled as “cotton print”. It is light and floaty, and absolutely perfect for this dress. Let me tell you, you need a lightweight fabric for this dress. I would not have wanted anything heavier. Even in this fabric, the pleats still drooped more than I would have liked. The lining is a cream cotton voile from Spotlight. I was very lucky to avoid rather dodgy print placement, as I didn’t even think about that, but luckily I didn’t end up with a big blue flower right over the ol’ nipples. Though they’re still a bit closer than I’d like.
I made a toile of the bodice in a size 18, which matched my measurements. It was too big in every way, so I made another in a size 16, which was almost perfect. There was some very slight gaping on the left side of the front, however on the finished garment, with all the lining and staystitching, it disappeared. I made no adjustments to the bodice – this dress is oddly short in the waist, which suits me just fine. I took about 10cm off the hem of the skirt though, as I am short and this dress had a looooong skirt.
However, the thing about this pattern is, as I briefly mentioned above – it’s supposed to look like a wrap dress. However, once I had basted in all the pleats and surveyed the result, I wasn’t happy. They sagged terribly, everywhere, even under the minimal weight of this fabric. After I sewed the bodice together, but before attaching the lining, I unpicked all the pleating basting stitches, and pinched and folded and tucked and pinned until I was happy with the way they sat. I then painstakingly, with colour-matching thread, made tiny invisible tacks in strategic places along my folds, until they were all secure and I was satisfied with the way everything draped. It wasn’t 100% perfect – to achieve that, I think some serious shifting of the pleats is in order – but it looked so much better.
It’s very pretty on the inside – it’s lined, of course! I slip-stitched the lining to the waist seam, and alongside the invisible zip, that went in beautifully with my new metal invisible zip foot. I was careful to understitch as much lining as possible, too, to stop it peaking out. I used a pale purple invisible zip, but I painted the zip pull a fuchsia colour with nail polish so it matched. And I just found out I’ve been spelling fuchsia wrong my whole life. What a revelation!
I got quite a few compliments on the dress at the wedding, and Luke was eager to tell everyone that I made it – more eager than I was! I’m really happy with how it turned out, but I can’t say I’ll be making it for a third time – for one, my life isn’t so exciting and full of garden parties that I need more than one of this kind of dress, and two, all those pleats are way too fiddly. Incidentally, I also made the shirt Luke wore to the wedding, which will be featuring in my next blog post…stay tuned!