For me it wouldn't be travel unless I stayed up super-late the night before finishing a project. My most recent trip to Asia was no exception, although I actually finished this little number in plenty of time the weekend before leaving (it was a bathing suit giving me a sleepless night). I love a shift dress with a jacket for professional speaking engagements--much more flattering, less stuffy, and more approachable than a suit.
As I observed previously, Vogue 1025, an Anne Klein designer pattern, is almost identical to this one. It seems odd because Butterick and Vogue are the same company so it's competing with itself, but perhaps they are run separately and the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing. Or perhaps the Butterick was already drafted and in the catalog when Anne Klein handed in her pattern, and they couldn't exactly tell a top American designer her pattern was too unoriginal to accept. Or something. Anyway, I hesitated between the two, but ended up choosing Butterick 5321 because of the unusual diagonal darts in the back and the set-in rather than cut-on sleeves.
This was intended to be a muslin for the silk linen I bought a while back from Fabric Mart. I don't have a good solid black dress for either professional events or, not to be morbid, a funeral should one come up. When my dad had a health scare several months ago it occurred to me that I really ought to be prepared, because in a sad situation the last thing I want to think about is whether I have anything appropriate to wear and then have to go shopping or something. What a nightmare. Since the silk linen was expensive by my standards ($8.99/yd), I decided to practice on this $2.97/yard G Street polyester suiting first as a wearable muslin--a highly wearable one as it turns out!
My first pattern adjustment was, of course, a small bust adjustment. On the bodice front I reduced the pleat width and shortened the neck to shoulder edge by taking a tuck a couple inches below the shoulder. When I made it up it turned out I should have taken out just a little more of that distance; the photo here shows the new amount of tuck.
While sewing the dress, I found that the reduced pleat width was good, but the pleat needed to be closed up *much* higher than indicated. I sewed it up to just underneath the bust, so it is more of a released dart than a pleat, I suppose. It's much more flattering there--shapely, not baggy.
I knew I would need a swayback adjustment as well, though I was a little concerned how it would affect the diagonal dart in the back. But, that's the point of a muslin, right? I just took a regular swayback tuck. Luckily, this didn't seem to create any problem with the pleat. I also shortened the skirt a touch.
I do like the diagonal darts. They're so unusual and they add a little interest to what is otherwise a plain back to this dress (though I do like that V back much more than a rounded back neckline). My only gripe is that the fabric ends up so thick there you either have to insert a regular zip (ugh) or fudge your invisible a bit by sewing further toward the edge of the tape (away from the teeth) and compensating by pressing the fabric over the zip. This imperfect solution frustrates me because I take pride in my invisible zip application. In retrospect, I think perhaps if I had trimmed the fabric from the darts I might have improved the situation, but again--that's the point of a muslin.
This is a nice, simple pattern with four pattern pieces (front and back bodice and skirt), each of which is also cut out of lining. I hate facings and would have lined it anyway, so I'm glad Butterick was in my corner on this one. To ensure that the lining would not roll outward and show, I trimmed 1/4" off the neckline and armscye edges of the lining. This makes the lining slightly smaller than the fashion fabric, so it turns under and creates a nice finish.
It seems the Big Four have *finally* caught onto the all-machine method for sewing a lining to a sleeveless garment so the directions don't have you do any nonsense involving hand sewing the lining shoulder seams after everything is put together. Instead, you sew the shoulder seams of the fashion and lining fabrics (leaving the sides seams and back seam open), sew together at neckline and armscye, turn right side out through the strap tunnels, and then sew the side seams of the lining and fashion fabric at one go. I can't believe I did it the other way for so many years.
Since I love a surprise lining *and* I love shopping my stash for linings I pulled out this rayon challis from The Carol Collection. The rayon adds a layer of breathability to the polyester fashion fabric, but is still lightweight and drapey so it doesn't interfere with the lines.
I added pockets, based on the pattern for them from 07-2008-107. This has become my go-to pocket--the shape is good, the opening is large enough to fit your hand easily, but it's not ridiculously large. I don't expect to put anything more bulky into the pockets than business cards (or kleenex in a funeral dress), but there is something nifty about having them. Based on Butterick's method from the Maggy London pleated collar wrap dress Butterick 5320, I sewed the pockets on with a 3/8" seam. This magically causes them to turn under when the rest of the side seam is sewn with a 5/8" seam. It's a nifty little trick. I cut the front pocket out of the lining fabric, because I think the contrast is cute.
I love this dress. It's adorable but professional but comfortable.
HOWEVER, I am not totally sold on the style. The tummy-disguising front skirt pleats are what drew me to it. And they are tummy-disguising. However, they do their job a little too well and the skirt front is puffy and unattractive with a hint of Pregnant Chic when viewed from the side. But then again, seeing the pictures I'm wondering if everything else about it is cute enough to ignore that problem. How many people are going to view me only from the side? And do I care about their opinions?
But my goal for the silk linen is a classic dress I can keep at the back of the closet for many years (or at least as many years as it still fits!), and--while it has shown great staying power--I'm not sure that Pregnant Chic is here to stay. So I'm not yet committed to this pattern as my Reliable Black Dress (a different category than the Little Black Dress, to be sure), but it is still a contender.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here. Please excuse the indulgence of way too many photos of this one. The colleague I was traveling with also sews, so she understands the need for fashion shots, and we did photos all over the area. When you have a willing photographer *and* an exotic location it's hard to know when enough is enough!
This review is an attempt to make up for the lack of any interesting travel information or stories about Malaysia. I was on the resort island of Langkawi, which is a lovely spot but resorts are not highly cultural. I was working all day anyway.
One evening we had a tour of the island, but unfortunately it was more in the nature of shopping tourism. I was excited that one of the stops was to be a market of local handicrafts, but this was then substituted with a trip to the mall. Yep, a mall. In the department store, I was happy to find these fabrics. They came in pre-packaged lengths of 2 and 3 meters. On some of the fabrics the edges were finished and perhaps the fabric could be used as a tablecloth, but some of them had raw edges, which makes me think they really were sold as fabric.
They were marked as "batik" from Indonesia, but based on my knowledge of batik these are actually prints in batik motifs. It was better than nothing!
I was really drawn to the blue and orange flowers on the dark green fabric. I actually hate the muddy, dark background color and knew at the time I was taking a risk. Either someday a project will leap out for this fabric or I will someday purge it from the stash. It would make a good tier for a tiered skirt, but the hippie/boho thing is not really my style, so I don't plan to make any tiered skirts. However, as the fabric was around $2/meter, I was ok with buying a "maybe someday" piece.
The blue is a little bit like a cuter, girlier bandanna print and I love it! It will be a perfect summer dress.
The light green has so much going on with different prints and motifs, and the colors are sensational. I have a vision for it and I can't believe I don't have a pattern!!! I want a dress with kimono sleeves, a crossover V neck in front, a low V back, a relaxed fit at the waist but with some shaping maybe with an elastic casing or a drawstring, and fullish, short skirt. This style is very popular and I assumed I would definitely have the exact thing in my stash.
I went through all my back issues of BWOF and my envelope patterns and nothing! I have several in that style, but they all have a separate midriff. I feel like, given the elements of the fabric, a midriff would need to have some kind of special print on it. My plan is to cut the bodice with the border along the neck edge, and to use the sawtooth pattern in the center of the skirt (another problem because to use that motif on the front and back skirts the waistline will have to be closer to natural than empire because the fabric is quite narrow). That doesn't leave anything special for a midriff.
BWOF has a couple of options with kimono sleeves, a slightly below empire drawstring/elastic, and relaxed skirt but none of them have crossover tops, they are all very low Vs that require a tank top underneath, and they require fabric flowier than cotton. All the options have high round back necks.
I could draft something but really, who has time? Of patterns I don't own, Simplicity 2642 is OK, but again has the high round back, and the fit is a little *too* relaxed. Butterick and McCall have nothing.
Well, enough rambling. My Tokyo report is still coming!
On With the Sew
44 minutes ago