Monday, January 20, 2014

My first Butterick B5707

Here we have one of my newest creations, Butterick pattern B5707, which I wore to work.  I've got to say, I wish Butterick would give their patterns cute or sexy little names rather than just numbers, but I digress.

I got this fabric (not quite sure what it is) from my bestie for Christmas, and while I knew it was destined for greatness, I couldn't quite picture it.  I’m not sure how I decided it was gonna work for this project, but somehow, something just felt right.  I wanted to be careful not to make something too sweet with fabric so pink and shiny.  I had a feeling that despite this pattern being a reproduction of a vintage pattern, it would have a very modern feel if I used the right fabric, and I think that I was right. 

The truth is, I wouldn't exactly call this dress flattering, but I don’t consider it a miss either.  Actually I quite like how it turned out.

I like this dress for several reasons.  Number one, it is super comfy.  The fact that it is a strange combination of semi-structured while still not being super fitted means that it is work appropriate and easy to wear at the same time.  I also really like how well constructed it is (if I do say so myself).  I put a lot of time into this simple dress, hand hemming the sleeves and bottom of the skirt, lovingly hand installing the hidden side zipper, and making sure that the dress itself was built to last by not rushing the process.  It was actually one of the most fun items to sew that I have made in a long time.

Also, I really like the neck and the sleeves.  I love kimono style sleeves that you do not have to install separately, and I think these turned out beautifully.  The neck is meant to simply drape, which I think would be a lovely feature with different material.  It didn't quite work with the material I chose, but I ended up really liking the way I sewed it into place.  I think it looks purposeful, and not like an afterthought.

Lastly, I have absolutely nothing in my closet that looks anything like this dress, making it a refreshing change.  I really feel that I made the right choice with fabric and was able to create a very modern twist on this vintage style dress.

Despite the fact that I ultimately love this dress, the pattern itself is a little strange for several reasons.   First of all, although this is a quick sew, the pattern pieces look very strange when they are laid out.  Most modern pattern pieces kind of  look like what they will end up being even before you start.  That is not always the case for vintage patterns.  I rather like that vintage patterns tend to be a little overly constructed, because it often creates a more interesting look, but it is certainly more challenging to figure out when you are first getting started.  The planning stage of this dress took a lot longer than most for that reason.

Secondly, this pattern calls for gathering on the bodice rather than darts, creating this billowy shape rather than a fitted one.  Ultimately, I actually liked that feature, but I can see why some people would find it a little sloppy looking, and it did not scream vintage to me which is both a good thing and a bad thing (since I was trying to make a vintage style dress).

Also, there is a seam all the way up the back of the dress for absolutely no reason since the zipper is installed in the side.  If I use this pattern again, I will eliminate that seam.

But the weirdest part of sewing a vintage pattern is how differently the actual dress looks from the drawing on the pattern envelope.  Of course, I know that I am not a fashion drawing and don’t expect my body to look that way.  Still, it can make the dress hard to visualize before you start.

Recently, Gertie from Gertie's Blog For Better Sewing wrote about how the fit of a vintage inspired piece can differ greatly from the pattern envelope.  Boy oh boy, is this a perfect example of that. Even my long line bra wasn't going to make much of a difference for this dress.

Also, this pattern is not a “vintage pattern” exactly, but a reproduction.  Reproductions, especially ones modeled after patterns from the 1950’s, often take a vintage pattern and update it for modern sizing and construction.  While I appreciate this in a lot of ways as I am not about to subject myself to wearing my long-line bra to work, or a girdle on a daily basis just to fit into my clothes, it can also mess with the look of the dress in strange ways, making them look a lot less like the vintage drawings than they would have during the 1950’s. 

However, I really don’t think that was the issue with this pattern.  I don’t think this would have ever been a slimming dress even if the waist was nipped in to an inch of my life.  This was always going to be a different silhouette than what I am used to with either modern or vintage patterns.  Luckily, I am more than okay with that.  It’s fun to try new things!  I’m glad that I allow myself to experiment rather than finding a formula for dressing and sticking to it.  I might look better if did. But I certainly would have a lot less fun!

Which brings me to part of my philosophy for fashion, and life.  It isn't my job to look a certain way all of the time.  It isn't my job to be pretty or sexy or even cute.  Yes, I don’t feel like this dress would be any ones go-to date night dress, yet, I still feel really special in it and I think it is a really interesting dress. Dressing, for me, isn't always about achieving my ideal proportions.  It is about experimentation and fun. I am aloud to dress in whatever way makes me happy. I don't have to fit into any mold.  Honestly, I think that attitude has a lot to do with why I have such great personal style (if I do say so myself-which, of course I do because I am conceited).  That is a longer post for another day, but I do think it is an important point that I really try to make here on this blog again and again: fashion is for fun.  You deserve to have fun no matter what you look like.

I have big plans for this pattern in the future, although I’m not sure I will use it to make another dress. I actually feel like this pattern would make awesome separates.  Next time, I am going to elongate the top of the pattern and forgo the gathering and make a few quick tops.  Also, I have plans to use this pattern to make some silk and cotton skirts.  Cute ideas, right?

I paired my new dress with white tights from Target, a mint Anthropologie headband and mint Modcloth shoes.  I also think that this dress would look really great with darker accessories in reds and greens, although that may sound strange.  Next time…

This week, my sewing goals include finishing sewing a dress for a friend (hopefully she will model it when it is done!) and sewing another retro reproduction or two (ambitious I know).  I am totally on a vintage dress kick lately, so I think it is going to be a fun year for dressmaking.  I will never have enough time to make everything on my sewing roster, but it sure is fun to try!  Still, I know that sewing is only fun when it is well thought-out, so I’m going to work on my impatient nature, and try not to attempt to make everything on my list at once.  The key word here is TRY…

1 comment:

  1. That fabric is beautiful! If you wanted to make it look a bit more like the pattern picture, I think a belt would go a long way. It really is amazing how unrealistic the pictures are though.