Pattern Review: Butterick 6243 Dress and Jacket

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted, unlined jacket has collar, side-front and side-back seams, and back button closing. Dress has fitted, lined bodice and midriff, semi-fitted skirt, and back zipper and vent.

Sizing: 6-22. I made a 14.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Italian Lightweight Lamé Brocade in Gold and Ivory from Gorgeous Fabrics, of course. Silk Habotai in Oyster. It sold out, sorry, but you can see other silk linings Here. The off-white habotai will work great with this fabric, too.

Machines and Tools Used: Juki 654DE serger, Pfaff 2130, Naomi the Naomoto

Needle/Notions Used: Microtex 70/10 needle, Pro Sheer Elegance Couture Interfacing, crystal buttons that have been in my stash forever, plain buttons, mesh tape invisible zipper from Botani, hook and eye, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Make the Lining First, pretty much Anything by The Pressinatrix, Els’ Invisible Zipper Insertion Method from The Sewing Divas, Setting a Sleeve into an Armhole.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? They were quite good. I went in a different order than the instructions but they were very clear.

Construction Notes: I made this straight from the envelope with no fitting changes. I used my Pfaff to sew all the seams, and because this fabric ravels easily I finished all the seams with the serger (including the seams that are covered by lining, just for good measure).

The jacket is unlined, so you can see how I finished the seams

I stitched up the lining first, then the outer garment pieces. Per the pattern, only the bodice and midriff are lined. If I were going to do this again I would make lining pieces for the skirt as well, using the skirt pattern pieces.

Bodice lining

One thing I noticed about this pattern as it comes from the envelope is that it has a pretty pronounced hip curve. I smoothed it in the pictures, but I recommend making a muslin to see if you like the way the hip curve compares to your curves. I used larger buttons than the pattern recommends. I bought these at G Street Fabrics when it was in the old shopping plaza on Rockville Pike. They’ve been in my stash since my kids were little, so it’s nice to finally use them.

I do love a statement button. Or four!

This fabric is lightweight, so even though the buttons aren’t heavy, I reinforced them with flat buttons on the back.

Each big button has a little button for support.

Likes/Dislikes: I call this dress the “Jackie Kennedy in India Dress” because it reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of her at that time. It’s got an early-60s vibe, and you can let your inner Jackie or Audrey get their bad self down with it. The pattern is really well drafted and sews together like a breeze. I don’t have any dislikes. It’s so refreshing to not have to spend a lot of time making a muslin! 🙂

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I’m not sure I would do it again for myself. It’s not my style. But I definitely recommend it. This would be a great MOB/MOG dress, and the style would also look fantastic on a young woman.

Conclusion: This is for a photo shoot, and I’m going to donate it to the thrift shop near me that benefits the local humane society once everything is done. Here are shots on the mannequin:

Front of just the dress
Dress back
Back with jacket
And front with jacket

All in all, a great pattern.

Happy sewing!

The Marfy Coat is Coming Along…

It’s just that this is the part of the project that’s like drywall. Lots happening but nothing is very interesting to look at. The coat is completely cut out – shell, lining and interfacing. We had guests again this weekend (more on that later) so I wasn’t able to work on it much until today. And what I worked on today was getting the inner structure ready to go.

Like any tailored coat, this one will be well interfaced. I cut out all the base interfacing pieces: the facings, the collar stand, the under-collar. And I’m considering what to use for a chest shield, or if I even want one on this coat. I spent a lot of time today going through some old Threads books (Great Sewn Clothes and another whose name currently escapes me) to remind myself about tailoring techniques. I’m trying to balance the standard techniques with current style mores, which is always an interesting mental exercise. Most of the tailoring books (not the textbooks: I’m talking about the books written for the home-sewing public) were published before 1990, so it is a fun mind game to figure out how to adapt to current technologies.

So what did I do today? I attached the interfacing to the collar-stand and under-collar pieces. Thanks to the Threads books, I tried a technique on the under collar: stitching the interfacing to muslin. Basically, you cut the interfacing up to but not into the seam allowance, then you stitch it to a piece of muslin, which is cut to the size of the pattern piece including the seam allowance:

3201 Under Collar Stand and Collar Stand
I haven’t decided if I want to interface both collar stand pieces. I’m thinking only the under collar (the one with the machine stitching). I was going to do the same thing with the under collar, but I could only find one muslin piece from my test garment, so I decided instead to just catch stitch the pieces to the wool.

3201 Undercollar Ready for Padstitching

I sewed the under-pieces together, and I’ll be doing pad stitching over the next few days. So like I say, lots being done, not a lot to look at.

I mentioned that I had company this weekend? Last night was the Winchester Hospital Gala to benefit the Breast Care Center. We got the band back together – every year a bunch of us from our ‘hood go to this event. Can I tell you? We are THE party table. 🙂

This is the only fancy dress event I go to all year, and I usually make a new outfit. This year, thanks to my Marfy coat, I didn’t have time to make a new dress, so I wore a bright red four-ply silk dress (Butterick 4343) that I made several years ago for a recital. It’s very plain, very Audrey Hepburn-esque, with a little fun detail that you can’t see from this picture – I used Susan Khalje’s embellished zipper technique and sewed sequins with seed beads along the zipper. It’s one of those things that people look at the dress and then go – hey! That’s really cool!

Here’s a picture of most of the group. BFF Barb and BFF-in-law Kevin weren’t able to make it in time for the group photo.

That's Hoover in Front
That’s Hoover in Front

A great night was had by all, and a lot of money was raised for the Breast Care Center. And at the end of the evening, they gave us a beautiful floral centerpiece to take home!

How did that shot glass get there?
How did that shot glass get there?

Happy sewing!

Butterick 5678 v.2 – The Lacier Sibling

Stop the presses! A miracle has happened – Ann actually repeated a pattern. No kidding! I loved my Butterick 5678 shirt so much, I decided to do a second version. It came to me when I was finishing up the first version. I have had a lacy-eyelety fabric sitting in my stash since before I started Gorgeous Fabrics. This would make a wonderful, more dressy and wintery version. So here you go! I’m not going to re-review it. I’ll just point out the changes I made

Fabric-wise: I used a lacy fabric that seems like a cross between an eyelet and a lace. It’s been in my stash since, like, forever. I’m not even sure where I bought it, it’s that old. Because of the peekaboo nature of the fabric, I underlined the body with an ecru/nude-toned silk habotai from Gorgeous Fabrics (long since sold out, sorry). I left the sleeves unlined.

The body is underlined with silk. The sleeves are left alone.
The body is underlined with silk. The sleeves are left alone.

I used Silk Organza in Light Tan from Gorgeous Fabrics to interface the collars and cuffs.

Silk organza will look more sheer while adding body.
Silk organza will look more sheer while adding body.

Finishing-wise: I finished the side seams by whipstitching the seam allowances to the silk underlining.

It takes a little time, but it is well worth it.
It takes a little time, but it is well worth it.
I also whipstitched the sleeve seam allowances.

This version isn’t finished yet. I haven’t put the buttons in. In fact. I’m thinking that I may want to set snaps instead of making buttonholes. But if I do, I want really cool ones, so I’m going to scout online this week and in person next week when I’m on a buying trip.

Have I mentioned that I really love this pattern? Here’s the mostly-finished version on Shelley (she doesn’t fill it out quite the way I do)


... and Back!
… and Back!

We’re supposed to get a rather nasty snow “event” later this week. If you are in the path of the storm, please be safe and don’t hurt yourself shoveling!

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review – Butterick 5678 Shirt

Pattern Description: MISSES’/MISSES’ PETITE SHIRT AND SASH: Semi-fitted shirt has shoulder princess seams and stitched hems. B: button tab belt carriers. C: roll up option with button tab on sleeve. A/B, C, D cup sizes.

I made view B, with the button tab sleeves.

Sizing: 6-20. I made a 12 with the D cup front

Fabric Used: Perky Plaid Stretch Cotton from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). For once it’s not sold out!

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle, thread, Pro-Sheer Medium fusible interfacing and Shirt Buttons from Fashion Sewing Supply.

Tips Used during Construction: Perfect Collar Points by Pam Erny (the best method on the web!), Press that Bad Mamma Jamma, Sew From Wide to Narrow

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Good. There are no surprises in this pattern, and the instructions are clear

Construction Notes: I cut a size 12 with the D-cup fronts. I used a single layer layout to get the plaid matched. I got distracted at one point, and if you look closely you can tell. But it’s not so bad that I won’t wear it. In fact, most people won’t even notice.

Front with the sleeves down

I cut the pockets on the bias for contrast. I finished all the seams with my serger, taking time to hand finish the collar and cuffs. I used the narrowest width stitch on the automatic buttonholer.

Back view

Likes/Dislikes: I LOVE the different cup sizes in one pattern! I love shoulder princess seams – they make it so much easier to fit. I really like the lines of this pattern. I like the camp-shirt style sleeves with tabs.

Front with the sleeves tabbed up

There is nothing that I don’t like.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes. This is a great basic that I could see making in all sorts of fabrications.

From a slightly different angle

Conclusion: A great pattern! I will definitely make this again. I’ll get lots of wear out of it. And check it out – I even got DH to take a picture of me in it!

If you haven’t got this one in your stash, I highly recommend picking it up.

Happy sewing!

On the Worktable – Butterick 5678

Happy Sunday! Today we woke up to snow flying sideways. I hear that Cape Cod got blizzard conditions, and this storm thankfully went east of us, so we didn’t get nailed again. We have about 4 inches of fresh snow, but now the wind is howling. It was a good day to stay inside and sew! Yesterday I cut out Butterick 5678. This is a shoulder-princess seamed shirt. I’m making it from Perky Plaid Stretch Cotton which (can you believe it?) is not sold out! I rarely get to sew with current fabrics, so this is an absolute treat for me. I spent a ton of time yesterday cutting the pattern in a single layer layout to get the plaid placement. Alas, I managed to get distracted with one pair of pieces. I’m not going to say which, and the general (read, non-sewing) public will never notice, but when I started pinning it together, my reaction was very Cartman-esque: (bad language alert)

Well, even with that, I still like it. Here’s a picture of the progress so far on Shelley

Tomorrow I’ll add sleeves and collar and hopefully finish it up.

More later, happy sewing!

An Addendum on the Pippa Cowl

Phyllis’ comment on the cowl on Pippa vs Pippa brought up a point that I wanted to share. It’s minor if you know what you are doing, but can be very frustrating to many stitchers, that the notches on the cowl and the under-bodice don’t line up. You are supposed to stretch the cowl to match, but even stretching the hell out of my muslin didn’t get them to match up

Pattern pieces laid on top of eachother with no stretching
Stretching it out, you can see that the cowl notch is short of the bodice notch

The cowl does fit properly onto the underbodice with stretching, so I would match the center fronts and the side seams, and not fret too much about matching the notches exactly. They were a little over 1/4 inch offset from each other in my muslin, but the seamlines did match at the edges and center.


Pippa vs. Pippa

Aaaare you ready to RUUUUUUMBLLLLLLE!!!???

That’s right, ladies and gents! It’s the smackdown you’ve been waiting for! The two Pippas, going head to head in the bridal pattern cage-match of the year! Yes, for your viewing and sewing pleasure, I’ve sewn up both patterns, and here I present you with the results of my sew-down.

First, several disclaimers to prevent anyone from getting mad at me. I have no affiliation with either pattern company. I like both of them equally well and I sew their patterns on a regular basis. Any and all opinions are mine alone, and should be taken with a pretty large grain of salt, since I’ve had two glasses of wine and my family is yelling at me to come help decorate the Christmas tree. In fact, I’m writing this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. I’m not going to comment at all on fit, since fit is all about the fit-ee, so go do your own, ya know? I made the Stylearc up fully in silk. The Butterick stopped at the muslin, so it’s kind of Macoun apples to Granny Smith apples. Okay? Onward!

In this corner, we have the veteran welterweight, Butterick Patterns 5710

Aaaaaaand, in this corner, the upstart from Down Under, StyleArc’s Pippa Dress

Good luck, ladies!

Round 1 – Design Lines
Butterick: all pieces are bias cut
StyleArc: cut on the straight grain except for the cowl, which is cut on the bias
Butterick comes out swingin’, but StyleArc lands a good right hook!

Butterick: raglan sleeves

Butterick Bodice

StyleArc: set-in sleeves

StyleArc Bodice

Butterick lands a hard left! StyleArc falls back, but wait! StyleArc comes back with a jab!

Butterick: Empire line in front, plain back

Butterick Front
Butterick Back

StyleArc: Empire line in front, continuing to design lines in back

StyleArc Front (just look at the lines, not the fabrics)
Those seams make all the difference.

Ooooo, StyleArc lands a hard right jab to the chin!
End of Round 1!
It’s close, but thanks to the back, StyleArc is on top. Without the back style lines, it’s an empire line dress with a fishtail hem.

Round 2 – The Bodice and Cowl
Ding ding ding! Butterick comes out of her corner with a bias cut bodice with a single bust dart from the empire seam. StyleArc has two bust darts: one from the side seam and one from the empire seam.

Butterick's full pattern is on the left. On the right is the StyleArc half-pattern I used to cut the lace.

They circle each other. StyleArc is easier for a big busted gal to fit, but Butterick can dodge that jab if the user knows how to add bust darts. Plus, the bias cut on Butterick changes the fitting slightly. Like I said, fit is a whole ‘nuther championship match.

So far this round is a draw. The opponents come out with cowls blazing.
First up, Butterick throws a jab, with a cowl that is fully self-lined

Double your fun?

StyleArc ducks, and comes back with a self-faced cowl:

Less fabric in the sides and armholes

Oooh! StyleArc lands a hard blow with that! Let’s do a slo-mo replay and show the audience why the self-lined cowl is good in theory but problematic in practice…

Cowl pieces laid on top of one another

The Butterick Cowl folds over itself as a self lining, whereas the StyleArc cowl is one layer except at the shoulder seams.

This is the bodice side seam

At the side seam of the Butterick, You have 4 layers of fabric. Imagine if you want to put a lace overlay on the bodice, like I did? That’s 5 layers. And look at the curved empire seam.

Don't even think about adding another layer here...

The ref has called this one – Round 2 goes to StyleArc.

Round 3 – Instructions
StyleArc – minimal. StyleArc assumes you know what you are doing. The instructions are not bad, and the fact that the pattern is really, really well drafted makes them almost superfluous for an experienced stitcher. StyleArc feints with a right cross.

Butterick – I can’t make this up

Really?? I was so ticked I misspelled Sleeve

The sleeve seam is shorter than the armhole edges

The sleeve is on the top, the armhole edge of the bodice is on the bottom.

ETA 12/11 to clarify the instructions. Phyllis checked them for me, and my reading was correct. The instructions have it backward. They tell you to staystitch the front and back bodice pieces, not the sleeves. You need to staystitch the sleeves at the bodice seam, then attach them to the bodice, clipping to make them fit the (longer) bodice seam. Here’s Step 8 in the pattern instructions, showing it exactly opposite what you need to do (thanks for sending that, Phyllis!)

The Sleeve edge should be stayed, not the bodice edge.

You need to staystitch the sleeve and clip it to fit the bodice, NOT the other way around (and BTW, they tell you the same for the front, which is also wrong). If you follow the directions, you will get bad results. Imagine doing that on an expensive piece of silk? Imagine if you are relatively new to sewing and you do that on your, or your daughter’s wedding gown? That’s just inexcusable. I hope Butterick sees this and fixes their instructions, because that’s just not cricket.

StyleArc wins with a TKO!

Now, in all seriousness, neither pattern is terrible. I’ve sewn both. I personally prefer the StyleArc. It’s drafted beautifully. The raglan sleeves on the Butterick are closer to the original McQueen, as is the bias cut of the gown. But it’s easy to change the grain, and the StyleArc will work just fine if you switch the grain to the bias. Be warned, though. You need a 60 inch wide fabric for the bias cut long gown. It is very rare, and very expensive, to find a silk that is 60 inches wide.

So ladies and gents, I hope you have enjoyed tonight’s matchup. Next on my sewing table is another Pippa (StyleArc). This one is going to be made from Catherine Malandrino Wool Jersey, and it will be my Christmas dress. More later, and as always,

Happy sewing!

Weekend Pictures

The video of the concert isn’t supposed to be ready for about 2 weeks, but DH and DSons took pictures at the concert.

Here’s Ryan conducting the chorus

Here’s The first song of our set – “I Can’t Sit Down”. I’m sitting next to Dick Frost, who is a wonderful baritone. I love singing with him, we always have a great time. We weren’t singing for this one. But the funny thing is that I was singing along silently with the chorus, to stay warmed up. You don’t see it in this picture, but there’s one picture where my mouth is closed while my throat is obviously working. You see that a lot with singers.

And MTV videos notwithstanding, singing is not an aesthetically pleasing endeavor if done right. Watch any good singer and you will see that when they open their mouth, they have a lot of stuff going on at the back of their throat that doesn’t photograph well. Usually when you see stills of singers, they aren’t really singing. Same with videos. You’ll see people lipsynching, and keeping their lower jaw set so they don’t get a double chin effect. Not so when someone is really singing.

Dick was up next. He sang “I Got Plenty o’ Nothing”, and nailed it.

The audience just ate it up. What fun!

After that, I sang “Summertime”. Interestingly enough, I wasn’t nervous at all. I think this was the first time in about 20 years that I didn’t have butterflies when I stood up to sing. I was even sitting there while Dick was singing, thinking, “Wow, my mouth isn’t drying out like it usually does before a performance. Whazzup with that?” I think it went really well. I love this song, and I can’t believe I never performed it in public before.

It was a truly wonderful moment. I’ve said before that the closest I ever get to a religious experience is when I sing. This was it. Allow me a little navel gazing for a moment. When I sing, I really try to interpret and internalize the text. The music is beautiful, but it’s the words that make it communicate. “Summertime” is a lullaby, and when I sing it, I immediately call to mind holding my children and rocking them to sleep or comforting them. I try to float the high notes, not blast them. It makes the music that much more lovely to me, and I hope that comes across in my singing.

Okay, enough navel gazing. The last song was “I’m On My Way”. It was a blast. I got to hit the wicked high note at the end, which is always fun. That one I did power through. Fun fun fun!

Here’s a better picture of the dress I wore. It’s Butterick 4343. I made it 5 years ago for another concert. It’s actually a little big these days – yay! It’s made from a 4 ply silk, lined with silk habotai. You can’t see it, but I did a hand-set embellished zipper with sequins and beads on both sides. It’s fabulous and comfortable!

Okay, enough about me. Here’s the parting shots from the weekend. Mother’s Day was wonderful. One of the things we did was take Hoover to a place we call “Dogtopia”. It’s a huge field in Lexington that has a cistern where dogs can swim. Hoover loves to jump into the water, so here are some action shots I took:

I cut out another knit top and am about 2/3 of the way through it. I’ll review it tomorrow.
Happy sewing!

I'm Joining the Club

Here’s a story that may amuse only me. When I was in college, I worked on some computer animations in the computer graphics lab. The computer system we worked on was a big honkin’ IBM mainframe, and we worked on these state-of-the-art CRT monitors called AED512’s. We thought they were all that and a big bag of chips. And we thought that 3D geometrics flying across the screen with ray traced shading was the coolest thing going. At one point, Glenn, the professor, joked that we were using so much storage that we should start a club called the Terabyte Club.

Well, fast forward to today, when I am expecting my new disk storage device to arrive. It’s called a Time Capsule. And guess what? I am just about to join the Terabyte Club. But it’s not to store any shiny fongers or flying tetrahedrons. Nope, it’s holding family photos, articles I’ve written for various publications, kids’ homework assignment and music libraries. It’s really astounding, when you think about it. In less than one generation, we’ve gone from humongous disk drives that housed a whopping 64MB:

And that cost somewhere in the vicinity of $100,000

To putting a trillion bytes of data on a box this size:

For about $500.

Ain’t technology grand? So I’m joining the Terabyte club. Woo hoo! Wave the flag and show your card if you’re a member!

Speaking of clubs, and this one is probably more interesting. Today is the Super Triple Secret Sale for Club BMV Members only. All McCalls, Butterick and Vogue patterns are on sale for $4.99 each, but only if you are a Club BMV member. I bought my Ralph Rucci patterns through Club BMV, and they arrived really quickly. I think I’m going to order a bunch of other patterns during the sale today. So I’m off to check it out.

Happy sewing!