Playing with Pleats

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Butterick 8038I had been after Butterick 8038 for some time, but it was rarely for sale and was always too expensive when it was, but I was finally lucky enough to win it on e-bay.  According to vintage patterns wikia, it is a 1957 pattern, which looks about right.

I love the fact that the pattern has been used, but never pinned, so either weighted or just free hand cut.  All of the markings had been made using blue chalk, and the bias facings, which are not included in the pattern, were cut from newspaper.  My favourite story was the extract from a letter to the paper asking who stole 2 geranium plants and hoping that they feel bad!

My pattern was for a 36 inch bust. In modern/re issued vintage patterns, this would probably fit alright, but having just had a bit of a disaster with a 36 inch bust 50’s pattern not being even vaguely big enough, I thought I would try my hand at grading the pattern up. I have amended/ adjusted/ tweaked patterns before, but never done a full size change. This pattern is worth the trouble so I looked up various methods.

I looked at several different methods to enlarge the pattern, some of which made much less sense to me than others, and finally settled on this one for its clear instructions and logical approach.  It took time, but all good things do.  I do not intend to reproduce the approach here (especially as I was so messy!) but the tutorial I used can be found at A Stitching Odyssey.

I traced the pattern onto tissue paper and then set about adjusting it. If I do this again, I would use a thicker paper for the initial trace as it was fiddly when cut and curled when I was trying to line up the pieces etc. It looks really messy, but I got there in the end.  It was also possibly not the best pattern to try this on given the crossover of the bodice, but with a consistent approach and a bit of care it seems to have works.  The size increase was not big enough to accommodate an extra pleat so I  reduced each pleat by 3mm and this worked well.

I would have loved the long sleeved version but my fabric was just too tight.  The fabric was a sari with borders one each side.  I had bought it from a charity shop for £4 and I really had set my heart on doing this dress in this fabric.

There was some rule breaking in the cutting.  The skirt was always to be cut cross grain as I wanted the border to run around the bottom.  The fabric was too narrow to cut the skirt back on the grain anyway. Given the sheen, this risky, but all great endeavors are!

I have never really used tailors tacks much, preferring to just place a pin in the fabric to mark a point unless the pattern was very detailed. In more recent times, I have started to use tacks more often, but with this dress used it to mark all points.  This was particularly useful when working on the pleats.  I did the ‘from’ pleat lines in one colour and the ‘to’ in an other which helped make the construction easier.

The dress went together very nicely – the instructions were clear.  The construction appeared complicated when I read it beforehand, but was all quite logical when you were actually doing it.

2015-05-22 018I love the skirt on this.  I am not a slender lady, but find that full skirted dresses are quite flattering.  I love the look of the pleats, the volume they give without adding bulk to the waist you can get with a gathered skirt.

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I am absolutely delighted with the fit of the dress.  I may move the starting points of the crossover sections down about 1/2 inch next time and try using bias binding around the neck and armholes when I make my next version as 2 inch bias facings were hard to double turn when going round the curve of the neckline.  I would really like to do the long sleeved version, possibly with the straight skirt for autumn/winter but also another sleeveless one in a more everyday fabric.  Just love it – I honestly believe it is the best thing I have ever sewn!

 

 

Play Clothes Captain!

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Yes, I’ve gone all ‘Sound of Music’, and made a frock from some old curtains bought from a charity shop I  – and I LOVE it! 2014-03-15 001 The linings did not come up very bright when washed so they have been used for toiles (nothing gets wasted), and the curtains themselves had one faded area, but I have managed to cut around that so its all good. I started with the bodice from Butterick 5603 as I know it is (now) an excellent fit.  I have already adjusted it slightly to reduce width of the front slightly at the neckline.  This is now my ‘go to’ fitted bodice pattern. I wanted a circled skirt rather than fitted or gathered – I just find that gathering can add bulk to my waistline.  The fabric does have a checked pattern to it which will slope off because of the circular skirt, but I am happy with this – it looks quite effective. I know I can draft my own circle skirt pattern, but looked at my little collection and decided to add the skirt from Butterick B5813, which has 2 deep pleats on each side at the front. As the fabric is fairly heavy and a loose weave, I have interlining it with a light, white cotton fabric.  This has helped to strengthen the dress structurally without adding weight, and stops the pieces from skewing out of shape before stitching.  I had tried washing the fabric at a high temperature to see if it tightened the weave at all, but it didn’t seem to help. I have altered the neckline as I fancied a scooped out neckline with a  fairly low back.  This was my first attempt and I used a french curve.  It took two attempts to get the scoop right as it was more of a curved v-neck at first.  The tip is that the neckline needs to be horizontal at the centre front.  This is beforethe neckline is scooped out further: 2014-05-22 00.54.24 - Copy When the basic dress was put together I was really pleased.  Need to decide about the length (I am thinking about knee length?) and also whether to face or line the bodice.  Given the weight/bulk of the fabric, I decided to line it with a plain cotton and am absolutely delighted with it now that it is finished:   2014-05-27 03.13.51 2014-05-27 17.32.33 I really love this but do feel that it is probably more of an autumn/winter weight dress as it is very heavy, but this gives the skirt a lovely fullness and swish factor.  It is perfect on those not so warm summer days.  I should be able to add small sleeves in the autumn if I want to then.  I haven’t drafted sleeves to fit into a pre-existing arm hole before so that would be interesting.