Tag Archives: Butterick 5882

Wrestling with the Picnic Dress

The Picnic Dress

The Picnic Dress

My Summer Picnic dress (aka Butterick 5882), is finished. It was a bit of a rushed make, as I had a deadline, and, well, I kind of had a bad case of the perfectionism that didn’t really work out. I mean, it never does, but usually I manage to keep it in the bag when it comes to sewing, or to let it out in only small, manageable ways.

Which is not to say that this dress is not a success. I think it is, or will be, once I’ve had a few weeks to put some distance between myself and all the seam ripping. So, this dress was kinda a bad idea in a lot of ways—limited time frame, unfamiliar pattern (I haven’t made a lot of Buttericks) and having a really crisp, clear vision in my head of what I wanted it to turn into. Which is always a perilous thing. On the upside, the fabric is a lovely, well-behaved cotton woven plaid, and the lining is a cotton-poly broadcloth. Easiest things to work with in the world.

So close

So close

I covered the first few stages of the dressmaking already, which went relatively smoothly. The first hitch came, predictably, when I tried to attach cups to bodice.

I’m not sure what was off—my cutting, my seam allowances, my marking of the CF line? But no amount of fiddling could get my cups to line up with the bodice pieces’ notches and still fit properly at the upper/outside edge; if I forced the edge to fit, they were overlapped WAY far. I went ahead and stitched anyway, hoping against hope that somehow it would all work out, but end up with a weirdly-folded, mashed mess that didn’t fit my bust AT ALL. I couldn’t bear to take a photo of the mess my pretty little cups became.

Rippit, rippit.

After I recovered from that (which took a day or two,) I decided that damn the seamlines, I had to make this thing fit me, after all. Thence followed a lot of fiddling and futzing in front of the bathroom mirror. Tape was invoked. Pins were applied liberally. Apparently my bust is much wider than the pattern was drafted for? Or… something.

Fitting, fitting, fitting. With tape.

Fitting, fitting, fitting. With tape.

You can see how much wider the cups on my bust are than the curve of the bodice. Oh, yeah, I also took 1/4″ out at each sideseam at this stage, for a total of 1″ around the whole bodice. And there was still some to take in at the back, although I’m not sure how much because I used it to make the lapped zipper extra-lappy. Maybe I should’ve made the 10? I’ve had 10s end up too small, though, so that scares me. /sigh.

Keeping track of boning

Keeping track of boning

Incidentally, the tape is very handy for keeping track of the bones. I stuck them to the wall in the order that they needed to go into the dress. Although this brown paper tape was a bit too sticky, and did some damage to the casings when I peeled it off. Oopsie.

My shape for the bust.

My shape for the bust.

I widened the opening for the bust cups quite a bit.

Hand stitching the cups in place.

Hand stitching the cups in place.

And then, I fell back on that good old standby when things don’t fit… lots and lots of hand stitching. The cups are stitched in entirely by hand.

The extra part of the cup.

The extra part of the cup.

This is the part of the cup that got “cut off” when I moved everything around to fit me. I decided to leave it, sandwiched between the two layers, as it’s padded and seemed to be smoothing and supportive. Also, the pattern doesn’t call for the bones to run all the way up the bust, but I wanted them that way, so I attached these two bones to the shell, while the rest are attached to the lining.

And voila!

And voila!

And somehow, it actually fit!

Faced skirt hem and lining hem.

Faced skirt hem and lining hem.

I wish I could say that it was smooth sailing thereafter, but there were still a few issues. I wanted a lapped zipper in the back. I’m not good at them, but sometimes you just have to go “What would Gertie do?” And I do like the look better than a centred application. Anyway, because I was also taking it in, I think, this didn’t play well with the back skirt seam (which I had already sewn at this point, yes, and serged. More ripping. Argh. I was able to squeeze enough bias tape for a not-terribly-wide hem facing. I interfaced my bias tape (prior to bias-tape-cutting) in the hopes of getting a slightly stiffer hem, but I think with the weight of this fabric it mostly just weighted the hem down more. Which is not awful—I do like a swishy hem—but not quite what I was hoping for. I should, perhaps, have sucked it up and done horsehair braid. One triumph was the edging on the skirt lining—I was able to coax a successful rolled hem from my geriatric serger! Those of you with fancy newfangled sergers that do rolled hems at the touch of a button have no idea, I’m sure. Mine requires a screwdriver, a different needleplate, and disengaging the blade to work properly. In celebration, I zig-zagged this teeny little lace trim along the edge, which has been kicking around forever. I think it’s cute, although the fact that it has a lot of snags already is tweaking that perfectionism I mentioned.

Full view

Full view

OK, enough whining. Deep breath. Step back. Enjoy. Please ignore the footless tights.

Back view

Back view

You’ll have to forgive my altered photos. It’s the “Cinemascope” effect in Google Picasa, and I love the sun-baked look it gives. This dress deserves to be sun-drenched. Yes, those are still snowbanks in my back yard.

It'll do.

It’ll do.

And on that note, I’m going to breathe deep, let it all go, and enjoy my dress. And hope for some real sun-drenched days in the future.

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Jumping in

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So sometimes, you make a muslin, and then another one. And sometimes you get cocky and fit as you go. And then sometimes… You throw all caution to the wind, and just sew.

It occurred to me sometime after I painstakingly cut out the entire dress single-layer that, while I may have the Simplicity bodice block figured out, I probably shouldn’t be quite as cocky about Butterick. The last Butterick pattern I made myself was my winter coat, which is a bit of a different creature. And the way this is constructed I may not have any idea what it’s doing fit wise until I insert the zipper. So I may well be making a meticulous disaster. Ulp.

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I tackled the most terrifying part of this dress yesterday—those folded cups. I got it into my head that I should pad the cups, partly because I’m using a really soft cotton for the contrast bit and partly because the curve of the dart really scared me once I had it stitched up, and this way even if I don’t fill the cups they won’t sag too badly. I’m liking the fit post-padding much better.

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I used pretty much the method Tasia describes here, although I did nothing so responsible as re-reading her post. That would’ve been too easy. Basically I used the liner pattern piece, cut in some kind of batting that was kicking around. I cut out the dart (curving the legs for a nice shape), butted the dart edges and stitched them closed with a zig-zag stitch, and trimmed off my seam allowances with pinking shears. Then I free handed a couple of oval/egg shapes, progressively smaller, to fit inside, also with pinking shears, and hand-tacked them in place. This poly batting doesn’t feather as well as a cotton batting (Read Tasia’s post for a description of feathering), but with the pinked edges I think it worked okay.

Getting the pleats figured out took some more work (and even reading the directions!)… Mostly because they fold in the opposite direction from what I had assumed. Some seam ripping and swearing were involved, and my folds aren’t anywhere near as crisp as some of the other versions I’ve seen. I think it works with my picnic dress vibe, though. It does, right?

Now for the second-most terrifying part of this dress—that bias strap! And then, friends, then… The try-on!

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Oh, yeah…

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The best laid plans.

Plaid is a print.

Yeah, that red plaid from yesterday is intended for this little queue jumper. I am weak, and apparently have the attention span of a jellyfish. Also I’m gonna have to do some saving up before I order the rest of my corset supplies.

Anyway, it’s not often that I actually buy fabric based on the envelope suggestions. I’m more of the “oh, I think I’d like a dress, better get three metres,” type of fabric shopper. But I did for this one. I’ve been fantasizing this fabric/pattern combo since Gertie first announced this pattern. But, y’know that little bit where they say “allow extra for matching prints”? Well, it didn’t even occur to me until I was finished tracing out the pattern.

So… Now I’m trying to think of fun things to do with plaid. Bias? Bias side panels? Or just do my best to keep things matching nicely?

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