Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I love a wrap dress and I love drama, so when I saw Butterick 5451 I had to have it. I have generally liked the styles of "The Cut Line" line of patterns. It took me forever to figure out that the name means that they sell you an envelope with a pretty bare bones pattern in it (no sleeves for this one) that can be as a top, a tunic, or a dress, depending on where you cut it off.
This is one of the fabrics I bought from the bins at London Textile during PR Weekend Philly. The remnants were all $3/yd. I think this one is a double sided acetate, though I can't be sure about the fiber content. It was as bad as sewing with faux fur--every cut resulted in tiny little fibers that went *everywhere*. I've never seen any fabric like it in person. The right side is a crinkle off white with dark polka dots, and the wrong side is a smoother textured gray with off white polka dots. The two layers are bonded together at each polka dot and loose in between. I had about 2 1/2 yards of this fabric, and had to cut the undercollar of a contrast gray from stash. I sewed this dress in February to participate in the Stash Contest but just didn't get around to reviewing it!
In using the two-sided fabric, I was loosely inspired by this Marc Jacobs top. I like the way you see both fabrics, but he doesn't go too far. Going too far is a real problem of mine. My natural instincts for matchy-matchy and cutesy-wootsy constantly require tempering by my inner grownup. My inner grownup isn't very persuasive (you should hear its response to the alarm clock).
I might have gone a little overboard here (hey, at least I didn't turn up the hem to have dark at the bottom like I was considering). I definitely wanted the collar in the dark side because it is hard for my pale self to wear cream. I figured I couldn't just have the collar on the reverse side because it would look rather abrupt, so I also planned for the ties to be dark. Then I got the idea in my head for a contrast turn back cuff, for which I used the pattern piece from BWOF 11-2007-104, a wrap top I've been wanting to make for 2 years. In the end, I might have been better doing the tie in cream, but I did enjoy making the most of this unusual fabric. I definitely wanted it to be a wrap dress so if the wind stirs the front overlap the dark side would show there, too.
I started with my usual adjustments, small bust and broad back adjustment. This one started with a GIANT original bust dart, 3 inches across at the bottom. I narrowed that dart and took some width out of the crossover, per my usual SBA practice. Larger-busted ladies take note, I think this line is not drafted for a B cup.
I used the sleeve from Butterick 5321, after checking to make sure this one didn't have a cutaway shoulder. It didn't, and the sleeve fit perfectly.
The pattern directions want you to finish the neckline with bias tape over the collar, which normally I would do but here I didn't want to interrupt the print. So I turned under and topstitched the outer collar.
After beautifully installing the collar, this happened. Although I shortened the crossover neckline by about an inch on each side, the neckline was a DISASTER. Unfortunately, this photo doesn't really capture the original neckline, but trust me, it was obscene and unwearable. So huge and frustrating.
So I slept on it, and the next day ripped out my beautiful topstitching, unpicked the serging (ugh) and the stitching for the collar from about 3 inches from the bottom all the way around to the other side.
Then I put three darts on each side of the neckline above the bust to shorten the neckline and added a seam at the center back of the collar, taking out two inches from each side. I was pleased with how well the darts worked. I have another dress (a Butterick too, as I recall) that I'm going to have to do this treatment on.
I had already taken out 1 inch so that is a total of 3 inches of shortening for the neckline. And it is still low. I had to sew in a hook and thread eye (thank goodness for black hooks and eyes!) to keep it closed at a work-appropriate level, which is the sewist equivalent of admitting defeat.
To make sure that I wouldn't be shedding hundreds of tiny fibers every time I wore this dress I used French seams everywhere except the shoulder. Because the fabric is kind of flimsy I wanted to reinforce the shoulder with ribbon and I didn't want to try that in a French seam, although it seems theoretically possible. For the tie opening, I used the serger the finish the opening edges before sewing and then skipped the opening on both passes of the French seam.
The hem gave me so much grief in marking. The fabric almost behaves as though it's on the bias so I pinned and hung it and then pinned again and could not get it quite right (I've never mastered the art of pinning a hem on a dress form so I was doing all this on my body). I finally declared it good enough and pressed and hemmed, because I just couldn't deal with it anymore!
Unfortunately, I am not wild about this dress. I know objectively it is cute and I got a million compliments on it when I wore it. But the neckline is still wider/lower than I would prefer and the wonky hem is fresh in my mind. There is a saggy pouchiness under the arms that I suspect is related to a small bust. But I don't think that taking in the side seams is going to help so I'm just going to have to live with the saggy bunching. I am hoping these annoyances will fade with time (they usually do).
On the plus side for this pattern, it is well-drafted. It's just not for my body. The collar installed beautifully (the first time) and I love the width of the front skirt. The underlap is very wide and there is little danger of flashing even when a gust of wind blows the overlap open.
The weather seems to be getting warmer (don't want to to jinx it!), so this is the tail end of cool weather sewing. I still have many projects in mind and I have way more warm weather than cool weather clothes, but I don't like cold weather and just can't stand sewing for it much longer!
Because the end result is a cute dress despite all its failings, I need to get this pattern out of my sewing room lest I decide to make it again, forgetting how much I hate the fit of the bodice. If I want this type of dress again I'll go back to Butterick 5320, the Maggy London puffy collar wrap dress, and use only the under-collar pattern piece to get a flat, wide collar.
So I am doing a GIVEAWAY of this pattern, Butterick 5451. To be eligible, you must have commented on my blog in the last six months. International entries welcome! I'll do a drawing next Monday, March 21 (or thereabouts). This is for the smaller size range, 8-14. The pattern is cut along the largest size line (14). I have altered the bodice as you can see in the photos but never subtracted any pattern tissue so it will only take a few moments to undo my alterations.
Apparently, though, this will be great to pull out for Fall. You Look Fab has identified black and cream as one of Fall's major trends, based on last month's runway shows. I am never this current! I made this simply because I had the fabric. But if anyone asks, I was inspired by Jason Wu, who made ample use of black and cream in his F2011 show.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.