Monday, August 06, 2012

Actually, they used footage of me in my high school swim team to draw Prince Eric.

One thing I really enjoy about participating in an online community is the inspiration that comes from it - I read all sorts of blogs about all sorts of things, but this is particularly the case with sewing blogs. There are so many talented seamstresses out there, so there's a wealth of inspiration and it's good for helping me to see the potential of sewing patterns with a more critical eye. This was the case with Simplicity 2444 - the pattern envelope didn't do anything for me, but Zoe's amazing version got my brain cogs whirring and I adore the pattern and both versions I've made of it.

The same is true with Butterick B5603. Perhaps unfairly, I've never really bothered with the Butterick catalogue when I'm in the haberdashery shop - maybe because some of the patterns are seriously frumpily styled. However, the fabulous Julia Bobbin has a bit of a love affair going on with this pattern. Her stunning Mad Men dresses used this pattern as a basis and, in terms of inspiration, they sure beat the hell out of what Butterick themselves suggested:

Erm, okay then......

To be fair, there isn't anything majorly wrong with that... it's just a bit.... derpy? I don't know. But Julia Bobbin helped me to see the potential in this pattern, so when I saw it on sale in Fancy Silk Stores my curiosity was piqued and I brought it home with me.

The pattern itself is marked as 'easy' and I guess it is. I mean, I had trouble finding where the instructions were in English when I took the pattern out to read on the train on the way home, but then I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. So I decided to take the precaution of making a muslin - just in case my difficulty in actually, you know, unfolding the instructions was a sign. Also, I had never sewn with a Butterick pattern before so I didn't want to chance goofing on the sizing. According to my measurements, I was looking at a 12 and on Thursday afternoon I threw together a muslin from scraps. No photos, although it was HIGHLY attractive, but it did fit with no need for adjustments. Major hurrahs all round! On Friday afternoon I started on the real thing, and by Friday evening it was all done except for the hemming and with no trauma at all. Turns out this is an easy dress, and it's a really cute one too!


I made View C, using some polka dot cotton lawn I bought from the fabric stall in Coventry Indoor Market. I went along on my lunchbreak one day last week hoping to find something el cheapo, but I bought this instead. It wasn't really expensive or anything, but you know, I think it's just lovely. It has a fantastic drape to it, and it was gorgeous to work with. The selvedge says '40s by 40s by Great Flower Designs' and I toyed with calling this dress the Great Flower dress, but decided instead to go with the Magnificent Obsession dress. B5603 just doesn't have any kind of ring to it! Magnificent Obsession reflects how I feel about polka dots (mostly joking) and is also the name of a frankly barmy Douglas Sirk film from 1954. 

Trying my best to look like the heroine of a 50s melodrama

So, the dress came together fairly easily and quickly but the instructions are irritating. They're not bad, actually (not like the ones for Simplicity 2444) but they are fussy. The other challenge was the bodice pieces themselves - they all look so similar but of course you can't afford to mix them up. If I were to make this again I'd pin labels on the pieces to tell me which bits are which - my spatial awareness isn't the best, and it would save me some time. The instructions of what to do with the bodice bits irritated me too, so I was a bit like "aw to hell with it" and did it my own way. Still, I'd imagine that my way and the actual way are basically the same, just without me squinting at the instructions saying "the HELL? What?!" So, this isn't a difficult pattern by any means but not one for out of the box beginners.
 Oooh... SMUGFACE. I was pretty pleased with myself.

Still, I think the bodice is the best thing about this dress. The neckline is so flattering and elegant, and it crosses at a high enough point that I don't have to worry about adventurous cleavage escaping on me. I also love the high-waisted skirt - it joins the bodice under the bust and the skirt pieces are cut with an exaggeratedly nipped in waist and two humongous darts, so it looks really fitted but it isn't tight or uncomfortable. 

Back view... there is some wrinkling here but this is at least partly because of my posture. 

I gave the skirt a nice deep hem, which I did by hand on Saturday afternoon. It's long enough to wear with a petticoat underneath but I'm wearing it without one here - it was nice and swishy! And, as I joked about it the other day, I did do a bit of posing. So, the original:

And...

 Okay...

 You know, I felt about 50% stupid and 50% fabulous posing like this on my doorstep

So a glittering career in the world of sewing pattern modelling lies ahead of me, yeah?

I really enjoyed sewing this dress and I'm so thrilled with how the dress came out. It might sound silly but it was a wee bit out of my comfort zone as I'd never sewn from a Butterick pattern before, but of course it was fine and it has shown me that I don't need to rely on familiar patterns. I'm already looking forward to sewing one of the other versions - probably the view with the bateau neckline. But, not for a while yet. My next sewing task is taking up the hem on my bridesmaid dress, which is going to be a basic faff. In the meantime, I'll have this one to enjoy... and I'm going to leave you all with one more photo of my chubby Irish face:
Happy goofy polkadotty seamstress...