I don’t remember if I mentioned it already, but this year for me is definitely wedding season: I’ll be attenting seven different weddings between April and October! Besides partying with my friends (and discovering the incredible differences between french and american weddings), it gives me the opportunity to sew and wear the retro party dresses that I usually cannot wear. Last year, I attended two weddings, and wore a new dress for each, so I felt like continuing the tradition. However, with SEVEN dresses, I’m starting to think I might have been overly ambitious… For the first wedding I attended, back in April, I made an Elisalex dress with three-quarters sleevees, but I haven’t had a chance to photograph it yet and now it’s out of season so I’m afraid I’ll have to wait until Fall to post about it. The second one took place in southern France at the end of May, so I figured I would need a sleeveless dress and decided for the Butterick by Gertie 5882.
This turned out to be a big mistake weather-wise, at it was unbelievably cold for the season. Thankfully the wedding was awesome and I had a cardigan (… plus a big sweater for the end of the evening), but pardon me if I look like I’m freezing on the pictures… I was. But let’s move on to the dress itself.
As I’m a huge fifties enthusiast, I fell in love with this pattern as soon as it was realeased, especially as I was then a big fan of Gertie’s blog (which is a bit dead now that she’s writing book after book, alas). I knew instantly which fabric I wanted to make it in, so I ordered that too, but since the occasions for wearing such a literal retro dress are not that numerous, I left the project aside for something like two years.
In the meantime, I saw some versions on the internet (not that many actually), and I have to say I was not very impressed. In particular, the bust part didn’t look that good, between the messy pleating and the seamline right in the middle of the bust that seems to have a very flattening effect.
I was very skeptical during the whole time I was making it, but in the end I mostly like the result. I think it looks good from the front, even though from the side it makes me look very flat, with the boning coming up from the waistline to the bust in a straight line.
As I was afraid that it would look awful, I first made a muslin of the bodice. I started with a size 10 and ended up making the following adjustments:
* lenghtened the bodice by 5/8 of an inch so that the waistline would hit my natural waist
* I removed 5/8 of an inch from the side back piece (number 3) close to the side seam
* I removed 5/8 of an inch from the top of the back seam on the center back piece (number 4)
With these changes the fit is great, fitted but without being too tight.
As a whole, putting this dress together was very pleasant (even though I started at the last minute, as usual), except for the pleated bra. I think my choice of fabric was to blame, as it was much drapier that the pattern probably recommended. From afar it looks pretty good, but if you look closely it is far from being the clean and sharp result I wanted.
The construction is done in the following way: you pleat the exterior pieces by basting the pleats one by one on an inch or so on each side, and then pressing the whole thing. Then you assemble the pleated pieces with the inside bra, cut from the same fabric. At this point I had a big difference between the inside and outside pieces, like 6/8 of an inch, I guess my pleats weren’t precise enough. To assemble those to the dress, you then have to fold a corner of the pleated pieces on itself. But doing this undoes the pleats (you can see it on the left side of the dress / right side of the picture), and because they are just pressed down, it’s nearly impossible to put them back in place properly. Once more, it probably would have been easier had I chosen a fabric with more body, but anyway the messy result really upsets me.
Oh also I had to do a few hand stitches on the band as it wouldn’t stay down once folded.
The main fabric is from Michael Miller, the My Cherry Black, that I bought two years ago on Fabric.com and is not available there anymore. The contrasting fabric in a cotton/silk satin from Robert Kaufman, and the lining is some sort of cotton/poly mix that I bought at JoAnn and I can’t remember the references for. As I was sewing the dress and was looking online to check something about the straps, I stumbled upon this version from Jessica of What I Wore, which is the exact doppleganger of mine, in a cherry-printed black fabric! I guess the choice of fabric was this obvious 🙂
I don’t think I’ll ever make this pattern again, as I still think it’s not flattering from the side and that the pleated bust is a mess, however I did like the instructions and details of the construction: boning, waist stay, etc. So I feel like trying some of the others Butterick by Gertie patterns, and going back to my Butterick repro patterns. Actually for the next wedding I’m working on a new version of the B5748, the same one I used for my Atomic dress. Next wedding which is in a week, so I guess I should finish cutting the fabric soon…
Butterick by Gertie B5882
Size 10 with adjustments
Michael Miller My Cherry Black fom Fabric.com
Robert Kaufman cotton/silk satin from Fabric.com
Cotton/poly lining from JoAnn