Big Vintage Sewalong: Retro Butterick 5813

Big Vintage Sewalong dress

Back in March I announced I was taking part in the McCalls Big Vintage Sewalong. My scheduled date to blog seemed an awful long way off then, but all of a sudden today came shooting along like an express train and of course I’d left everything till the last minute!

My pattern of choice was the 1950s Retro Butterick 5813 – Nail on the head, Alana from Flying Purple Hippos.com! – but it wasn’t without a dither. I loved each of the three 1940s patterns on offer too!

retro butterick 5813

As soon as that pattern was in hand and I’d decided on version A, I headed straight down to Goldhawk Road and to the relatively new store, Goldbrick Fabrics, to snap up some gorgeous Italian brocade. I’ve been quite literally ‘stitched up’ (or rather unstitched) by brocade, once before (yes looking at you BHL Georgia!) and I knew as a rule, it has massive ‘give’ issues but this particular brocade is beautifully soft and luxurious with just the right amount of body at the same time and subsequently a little more forgiving.

retro butterick 5813

big vintage sewalong dress

And because the fabric was so special I wasn’t about to employ any gung ho scissor action. So I made a toile like the good girl I am. Fortunately I only had to make a few minor adjustments. Firstly I needed to remove some excess bagginess from the back bodice. I often come up against this issue but this style commanded some serious ease for practical reasons of movement I guess.

Big Vintage Sewalong Butterick 5813

Secondly, I needed to gain a little more girth. My go to adjustment for this is always to add a bit at the side seams but that often results in a loss of shape and a sausagey silhouette, so I thought I’d try a different way by sewing narrower darts and I do believe the result was way better, though, looking at the back view shot I should also have shortened the bodice a tad.

retro butterick 5813

Thirdly, I lobbed a fair bit off the length. I ummed and arred between below the knee or to the knee but I think after seeing these photos, an inch longer may have added a bit more drama. What do you think? I sewed a substantial hem so I could take it down a little I guess.

I wouldn’t recommend this dress to an absolute beginner. There are potentially, lots of hissy-fit inducing features like darts – lots of them, some underbust gathering (which admittedly would probably have been easier in a more manageable fabric) oh and inset panels! Luckily I’ve had some former training with insetting sections of my quilt panels – for example the Whirligig block –which made the instructions and the construction a near enough breeze!

Another thing to be mindful of is the precision of facing the front opening – sewing perfectly symmetrical seams to meet at a single point before turning through. I think the collar is such a lovely feature of this dress. There were no complications in adding it and it has a real neat finish that encloses the lining around the neck edge.

Big Vintage Sewalong dress

It’s fully lined too which means sleeves an’ all! I’ve only ever done this twice to my ever failing knowledge: My vintage plaid dress (which annoyingly seems to have disappeared from my blog) and more recently my Sew Over It Joan Dress. And I must say it feels like a bit of a rip off to have to basically construct the dress all over again in lining, no cutting of corners, darts, gatherings, inset panels the lot! And that means even more seams to overlock too!

retro butterick 5813

But of course it was all worth the effort and it’s so lovely and weighty. Proper quality, like!

I’m not sure whether I cut or sewed the wrist end of the sleeve incorrectly but in any case I opened the seam a little to avoid the puckering that was about to happen. And yes those are 3 little darts for shaping the sleeve. On the fashion fabric and the lining. That’s proper vintage detail!

retro butterick 5813

I chose an invisible zip over a more-authentic lapped one, only because I had one to hand but I’m really pleased with the outcome. It just looks like another side seam. I achieved such invisibility by taking my time for once, pinning and then tacking in position before using a regular zipper foot and then sewing a second time with the invisible zipper foot.

retro butterick 5813

One thing that surprised me was the vent. It’s just a slit with facings either side and the lining is stitched to the facings like a little bridge around the outside. Much simpler than the usual lined vents or kick pleats of most vintage dresses I’ve sewn but it does feel like a bit of a cop out after all the attention to detail elsewhere.

Overall I totally love this dress. It was such a pleasure to indulge in some vintage sewing again. Very long overdue and I’d love an excuse (and some more hours in the day) to make another. But I’d make a few more adjustments next time, namely taking a bit off the shoulders, shortening the bodice a fraction and adding a little more to the waist.

retro butterick 5813

It got some lovely comments as we strutted around Portobello Road and around Notting Hill. Not least of all from the lady who managed to sell me 2 new pairs of sunglasses. Flattery gets you everywhere, see!

retro butterick 5813

retro butterick 5813

retro butterick 5813

Many thanks to The Foldline for the encouragement, for McCalls Pattern Company UK for providing the pattern and fabric. I sincerely hope that lots of people get inspired to buy these gorgeous vintage patterns and that lots of wonga is raised for The Eve Appeal in the meantime.

retro butterick 5813

Special thanks also to Dan for dutifully shooting these amazing photos. We always have such fun. London is so full of amazing places and we’re lucky that most of them are just a short tube ride away. It’s always a hoot when we’re oot and aboot!

Marie from A Stitching Odyssey is next up. Can’t wait to see what she makes.

BHL Sabrina dress v3

sabrina front view by fountain

This is my third Sabrina dress. And the best-fitting one yet. The first one was the result of a pattern test for By Hand London and the second, more recent version, was made so I didn’t keep wearing the first one all the time! It was also meant to address some of the fitting issues. But if you read that post, you’d see that I only created more!

But this one is certainly close to the mark with regards a perfect fit.

Most dress patterns come up too big across the back bodice for me. It’s not something I’ve ever properly addressed before I made a Sabrina, mostly because I didn’t know how. But it was as simple as taking a horizontal dart from the centre back and tapering to the armscye.

Sabrina dress back view

If I’m honest, it’s still a little snug across the hips. Probably because this fabric is less forgiving. It’s a sturdy brocade-like viscose. It has shiny woven ‘characters’ on a matt background which works great in the sunshine. The shop assistant guessed it was a polyester, which at £8 a metre stumped us both a little, so he took a sample outside to do a burn test. And it turned out there was more than just a little natural fibre in there!

viscose brocade close up

I also hemmed little bit shorter than the other two.  The skirt section flares out perfectly, especially in this fabric. Perfect for a bit of flirty, flarey fun!

sabrina silhouettes

bhl sabrina battersea

The weather was gorgeous on Wednesday as it is today, and promises to be on the weekend too! So Mr O suggested Battersea Park for our shots. I wasn’t too sold on walking from The Kings Road in Chelsea in high heels but he is mostly and annoyingly right with the no pain, no gain philosophy!

sabrina dress

I remember saying, not so long ago, that I couldn’t bear to make the same thing more than once, given all the amazing options out there. But I’m happy to make as many as it takes if it means I get the perfect fit, and the perfect fabric of course. I still have plans for more of these using some more challenging fabrics but those plans are on hold for a little while, as I focus on what I’m meant to be doing: Dan’s blazer and my Big Vintage Sewalong dress for example… ooops!

The By Hand London Sabrina dress pattern comes in two variations. This one and a lovely strappy button-front one…mmmm… no stop it, Janene. Focus!!

 

Georgia the party squeeze!

BHL georgia dress

Meet party girl, Georgia! She was meant to be my party dress for last Christmas. But well, you know what happens. I make a plan… and then I make another plan!

But nevertheless, here she is for this season’s line up of parties. Kicked off at London’s Bob Bob Ricard’s no less, for my good friend’s 50th birthday celebrations. I even had the foresight to ensure I coordinated perfectly with the lavish decor of black and gold.

Mr Ooobop wasn’t available to do his paparazzi bit, so many thanks to the lovely @Alphabeckles for this impromptu snap.

Georgia dress at bob bob ricard

The pattern and instructions for the BHL Georgia dress are dead easy to follow. And the online sewalong is a great back up for the finer points.

I made some personal pattern adjustments that included a little FBA, a little shortening of the straps, and a not so little gradation from a 12 at the top to a 16 at the hip (Well that certainly was a surprise!).

I dutifully made the above alterations to a toile but the age old problem was that my toile fabric, although relatively the same weight as my chosen fabric, had a little more give. My gold and black heavy silk-like, embroidered viscose brocade had absolutely none, zilch, diddly-squat!

Yes I know! I know damned well the By Hand London ladies recommended a fabric with a little stretch so please don’t remind me that I totally ignored their perfectly perfect advice!! But you see I got sucked in by the gorgeous tartan version that Sally Bee made! And she used a woven with no stretch!

It must be mentioned that although I was exceedingly honest with my measurements for this dress: over bust, full bust, waist and hip. I neglected to take into consideration my underbust measurement. I think I have a disproportionate bird rib cage to be fair!

And so once I realised that I was going to twist my spine out of alignment or at best pull a muscle doing up the side zip of the actual dress, (which actually wasn’t going anywhere above waist level anyway) I figured I’d have to gain an inch at least from somewhere. So I claimed half inch from each side seam of the skirt side panels and accounted for that in the side-seams of the bodice too.

It fitted. Boy did it fit. No room for sharp intakes of breath but it looked pretty damned good, even though I say it myself.

I grinned and beared it… all day (yes I wore it to work before hand!) and all night.

But at some fateful point over that corsetted period I acquired a little uninvited breathing space!

BHL Georgia rip

This happened of course because I had left the teensiest of seam allowances to glean my inch and although I serged the tiny seam edge, it frayed from the strain!

Lucky I wore a ‘modesty jacket’! Which incidentally was a panic dirty rtw purchase the day before, from Monsoon. I say dirty, not because it is, it’s very clean and lovely in fact, but because there is an element of shame that I broke my routine of only hand made clothes for at least two years. I’ve only allowed myself underwear and cardi purchases from the high street. Anything else to be bought from charity shops. I could so easily have made this jacket. It’s not dissimilar to the Victoria Blazer. But time was not on side and nobody needs to see those fleshy underarm bits in daylight hours!

The jacket did it’s job and clearly hid the naughty side split until I got home too!

So now my dilemma. I want to wear this to at least 2 more parties which are coming up soon. Like next week… eeek! Do I patch it up or do I re-cut two new panels taking new seam allowances into consideration? I do actually have enough fabric.

TBH, I don’t actually know how I’d patch it up. So I think I know the answer. Unless of course anyone has any an amazingly good solution…. please?