After spending the month of November sewing and prepping for my husband (btw I finished the pants and he loved them, and I'll tackle the jacket soon.) I decided that December would be a Me-Month. I completed two projects for myself in December and I'd like to blog about one of them now. This is actually the second thing I made but I'm extremely proud of it so I think I'm allowed to brag, right?
B5882 AKA Gertie's Shelf Bust Dress
I used the Butterick Pattern but I altered it to fit me quite a bit. I wanted it to be snug around the top so there wouldn't be a wardrobe malfunction. I also wanted the bodice to curve under the bust more, since the strap actually comes across the center of the bust and not under it. I'm not large-chested in the least but I used some ideas from Gertie's blog in her "FBA" post for the alterations.
In the muslin stage I was able to get a basic understanding of the pattern and how it all went together. One thing I decided early on was that I didn't want to do the pleating the way the pattern instructed. The pattern has one piece of fabric folded at intervals and then sewn to a stay underneath. Judging from the pictures I found online of people who've made this pattern, the pleats tend to want to puff out and not stay down, which I think looks sloppy. What I did instead is cut out the stay in lining fabric and then attach individual bias cut strips by hand exactly where I wanted them to go. I learned this technique on sewing curved tucks from Kenneth King here.
The bulk of the instructions I followed were for Gertie's "Sew Retro" class on Craftsy. I've wanted to practice all of the techniques she illustrates, but I was never really fond of the bustier style pattern they give you with the class. I bought the blue brocade fabric from Bangkok Thai Silk online ages ago for the explicit purpose of making the Sew Retro dress, but when B5882 came out, I fell head over heels in love. It was time for a change of plans.
B5882 lent itself well to the class instructions with only a few modifications. I underlined the bodice in muslin, cut custom bra padding using the pattern pieces, attached spiral steel boning to the bodice lining, inserted a lapped zipper in the back, and used grosgrain ribbon to make a waist stay and zipper guard. I probably did other things that I can't remember now, too :)
As you can imagine, all of these techniques required a lot of hand stitching. Fortunately, since it was school vacation time, I had a lot of down time at work (aka lots of sitting at my computer with not much to do) which afforded me time to do hand work while waiting.
I only ran into two challenges in this dress. First of all, I barely.... BARELY.... had enough fabric for the skirt. And by "barely" mean that I cut a few inches of fullness off of each panel and completely ignored the grainlines in order to scrounge enough yardage so I wouldn't have a bare bottom. The problem is that the fabric is only 36 inches wide, and I had originally been planning on making a straight-skirted dress. Fortunately, I think this skirt still reads as almost a full circle, and it's plenty swirly enough to dance in. A trained eye might be able to tell that the grain falls kind of funny in the front, but it really doesn't bother me that much.
Second challenge: This fabric does NOT like to be sewn on the bias. It turns into a slippery, wormy mess the second it lands under a presser foot. So the strap (which is a very long bias strip folded in half) proved to be tricky. I had a hard time making it an even width all the way around. The one side of the strap never wanted (and still doesn't want) to lay flat, so whenever I would press it down I ended up getting folds and lumps. Once again, not the end of the world but hopefully no one examines it too closely.
I would still like to try my hand at making a petticoat to wear underneath to give the circle skirt a little more volume. The wedding I'm planning on wearing this to is on the 25th of January, so I have some time. I might take more pictures later when more poofiness has been added.
I really love this dress and am so glad that I finally took the leap and took the time to make it. Can't wait to wear this to the wedding this month and let all my friends see it :)