Last summer I finally plucked up the courage to cut into this red geometric/floral fabric that I have had in my stash for a long time. Prior to my stash, it was in my mother’s stash for a long time too – since about 1970 in fact! It is a cotton sateen in the perfect shade of red and such a nice quality – it is so precious I even blogged about the fabric a long time ago here.
I always planned to make a skirt out of it, but that idea evolved into a shift dress as I became ‘braver’ in my fabric choices. I thought it appropriate to use a vintage pattern, and chose one I bought a few years ago, Butterick 4348, the one with the disintegrating pattern envelope:
I had made a Butterick shift dress from the same era and knew that the size 34″ bust fitted well, so I cut straight into the fabric. In hindsight that seems a little risky but I compared the patterns and they did look like the same size and fit.
The pattern on the fabric had to be matched at the side seams and horizontal seams, not only the white diamonds but the placement of the flowers too! This fabric was really narrow (?90cm) and and the pattern was of such a large scale that there was quite a lot of waste by the time I matched everything. I had more than two dress lengths but needed every last centimetre! (And now I have a lot of scraps leftover for my red and white quilt that I plan to make one day).
I was concentrating so much on matching the pattern that it didn’t occur to me that I didn’t really need those horizontal seams under the front bust and back waist. One of my regrets with this dress is that I didn’t eliminate them. Although the pattern has design options using this line (colour blocking, topstitching, trim placement, etc) it is unnecessary for my boldly patterned fabric.
If I had the forethought to eliminate those unnecessary seams, I would have avoided this problem:
This was the best I could do with the placement of the floral at the time, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t think of getting rid of those seams when cutting because I may have been able to plan a better placement instead of this compromise. Oh well. At least I planned it well enough to not look like I sat in something!
The actual pattern fitted perfectly. One thing I have noticed with patterns of this era is that the armholes have a lot of coverage. Nowadays armholes tend to be more cut away, but this cut is really flattering if you are conscious of your armscye crease.
I think the bust darts would be high on most people though, so you might want to check that if you ever make this one up. I have quite a high, prominent bust which happens to suit this era when the fashion was for a ‘young’ look. Luckily that ‘young’ look also includes minimal waist shaping because that happens to suit my minimal waist too!
When you sew such a short pointy bust dart you really need to get it right. You can see on the inside I sewed a couple of passes before I got a really smooth curve. If you are not sure what I mean about getting a smooth curve on a pointy dart, check out this tutorial – Get Smart with Darts!
I didn’t have any white fusing, so I rummaged around for some calico, cut it to the facing pattern, and sewed it as one with the facing. It is a bit heavier than I prefer but does the trick.
Except after a few washes the clipping is fraying on the calico so it looks a bit messy inside. Next time I won’t be so lazy and I’ll go and buy some more fusing instead.
If you can pick up a copy of Butterick 4348, I highly recommend the pattern. There are lots of cute variations too – I reckon I could have a couple more renditions in my wardrobe – be warned!