Tag Archives: Betty Dress

Black Betty

It’s a good sign when you feel the need to repeat a pattern right away, right?

I had actually prewashed this playfully Hallowe’en print last year, but didn’t get it sewn. (If you recall, my children had some fairly intense Hallowe’en ambitions last year)

This year, they’re largely doing their own thing (a tulle-skirted gown got butchered in my sewing room while I was absent, but I’m maintaining plausible deniability and not asking) so I’ve been free to sew my own. And of course this fabric was always meant to be a classic fit ‘n flare dress, so why not repeat my success with the Betty Dress? Especially when the first one I made is off being a shop sample, so I don’t get to wear it.

There’s not much to say about the construction, except that I added a “sash”—attached to the front bodice at side and waist seams, with ties inserted I to the side seam so they can wrap around the back and make a bow in the front.

Last time I did this was the Star Wars dress, but I didn’t do the front under-sash piece, and I think I like the extra solidity it gives.

This is the CB seam, and about half of it is zipper. WIN!

The real story, though, is the print, and the print matching. I dabble in print matching quite a bit (if I’m sewing with a print, which is honestly not that often) but I rarely nail it. Generally my cutting goes well but I fall apart on the sewing—or realize too late that I screwed up monumentally in the cutting and it’s just not going to happen.

In this case, the two seams I really wanted to match were the CF skirt seam, and the CB seam. There’s not supposed to be a seam on the centre front skirt, of course, and the pattern expects you to cut the skirt on the cross-grain to allow it to fit on 45″ wide fabric. That wasn’t a go with this strongly directional print, so seam it was.

After my careful cutting (one piece at a time, folding the seam allowance back on the first seam to align the second piece), I pressed the seam allowance under on one piece, lined it up, and marked on the second piece where the seam should go. I pinned my major match points, making sure the pin went through my marked lines both times, and then I sewed. I did not break out my walking foot, though I thought about it. This succeeded in making my horizontal match points reasonably aligned. I did have to take in or let out the seam minutely in a few places to get things lining up more perfectly—a mm makes a difference!—but on the whole I’m really pleased with where I ended up.

Especially across the back zipper. This is the trickiest part, since you have to align everything to points on the zipper, not to the other fabric directly. Again, I marked my seam-lines and marked match points with pins. Wash-away wonder tape would probably have been helpful, but I haven’t got any at the moment.

I set my zipper stitch long and first just basted it in, concentrating on getting the vertical locations to match without worrying too much about sewing too close to the teeth. (I DID worry about keeping the teeth aligned over my marked seam-line) Then, once I had things more or less aligned, I went back to stitch closer to the zipper teeth. Oh, and I remembered to stabilize the fabric along the zipper. I think this helped, too.

I made a couple of minute fitting tweaks to the pattern this second time—squaring the shoulder slightly and doing a very small swayback adjustment on the bodice back.

The black fabric for the sash is a lightweight cotton satin from Fabricland a few years ago, leftover from another project. It’s one of my favourite fabrics ever. I had pulled it out when auditioning fabrics for something else last week, but I’m so glad I didn’t pick it because it was perfect for this.

It’s certainly not my most outlandish or intricate Hallowe’en costume ever, but I was pretty happy with it—glad to get it made, but most especially proud of my construction. And my print matching. I might be crowing about that all month.

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Class Samples: Betty Dress

I wanted to do a class for a classic fit’n flare, fifties style dress. Well, really, I wanted to do Butterick 5748, but the quilt shop doesn’t stock big 4 patterns. So I hunted around and eventually landed on the Sew Over It Betty Dress. It looked, at first glance, like basically the same pattern, minus a few options.

On trying it out, a few subtle differences showed up. For one, it’s finished with facings rather than a lining. This was neither here nor there for my purposes, though lined might’ve been better in a white fabric. The most interesting thing is that, while the skirt is indeed a full circle, it’s not evenly divided front and back. The front portion of the skirt is somewhat larger than a half circle, while the back portion is somewhat smaller. I’m not sure what the consequences of that are, but it seems to work out.

I altered the construction for my favourite sleeveless method, where you stitch the facing to both neck and armscye, then turn it right side out before sewing the side seams.

And added piping to give at least a tiny pop of colour to my white and grey fabric. It’s purple, though I’m not sure you can tell. Isn’t this fabric fun though? I had wanted something colourful and novelty for this sample (something about these fit ‘n flare dresses is perfect for a novelty print quilt cotton). I didn’t find colourful, but the novelty was too perfect! I’m very tempted to take some fabric paint to some of the outlines, but I’d hate to blow it at this late stage.

The back is a smooth V

The fit seems surprisingly good out of the envelope. I made a straight size 10.

I added pockets to the side-seams, which worked out well except that I appear to have mis-traced the notches I was using to align the pockets to. So I had to unpick both back pocket pieces (including understitching and serging) and move the pieces up. I’m pretty sure this is a tracing error—it was not the easiest pattern to trace, I will say that, as the lines are all the same solid line, without different dashes for different sizes.

I finally gave in and made a pocket pattern piece out of cardboard. Hopefully I can keep track of it to use again and again.

I tried it on after the skirt was attached, expecting to need to do a swayback adjustment, and to my surprise it didn’t seem to be needed. Looking at the photos, I think a very small adjustment might’ve been good (1/4″ or so?) but it’s still a remarkably good fit right out of the envelope.

That fabric is such a lot of fun!

I am a little disappointed it didn’t come with pockets, but they aren’t at all hard to add, and I’ll be happy they’re there every time I wear this.

I took a lot of these pictures with my Very Fluffy Petticoat, which is an old square-dancing petticoat and way too ridiculous for normal wear but makes great photos! The less insane photos have my black “everyday” petticoat.

So all in all, I’m really happy with the pattern. It’s basic but a great backdrop for fun fabric, and I can imagine lots of fun mods. I’m still not totally sure about the unequal circle portions in the skirt (it just seems untidy to me) but I didn’t notice any issues once it was together—presumably the side seams fall towards the back a bit, but you’d have to look really hard on a circle skirt to notice that. And I’ve got some novelty Hallowe’en fabric in stash that would be just perfect….

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