At the sewing expo last fall I picked up this luscious silk charmeuse from the Vogue Fabrics booth with the intention to make Butterick 4989 view D (black).
After both sat in my stash a while I was no longer excited about the pattern (at least not in this fabric) but I was still madly in love with the silk.
I went to plan B, a mail order pattern from the 1970’s, Marian Martin 9234 (the dress).
I spent over an hour tracing the pattern and redrafting it to fit my wacky personal measurements. This included adjusting the shoulder-to-bust apex section, yoke, armhole facings, and skirt length. Notice those darts that go from the waist up to the bust? The entire side of the pattern is open like Pac Man’s mouth for the dart because it’s so large. Hence, lots of closing the dart, adjusting the dart, and reopening the dart.
After all that adjustment I knew I had to make a test garment. I had a bit of cheap poly crepe left over from another project that had a similar drape to the silk so I made up the overblouse view which is basically the dress chopped off at the hip. After I got the main pieces together I tried it on and realized I had neglected to check the finished width measurements because I was so focused on the length. There is so much ease in this pattern I took in 1″ on each side, front and back for a total of 4″ and took up another 5/8″ at the shoulder. The fit was better but those darts! UGH!
I came to the conclusion after this dart disaster coupled with a similar one on another dress with those side waist-to-bust darts recently that this style of dart is just not meant to flatter my body. The test garment went straight into the trash can in disgust. There was no saving this pattern for me.
Still focused on that silk, I opened up my pattern drawer. The first pattern I pulled out was perfect – Advance 3929 from the 1940’s, aka, Plan C.
It was actually the first garment pattern I ever saved for myself out of my shop wares, thinking that someday I’ll have the skills to make it. That someday arrived on Saturday when I spent several hours tracing and adjusting the pattern. I’m working on view 3 (the tiny one on the left) because that’s the only view for which I have enough fabric. It’s a blousy bodice with a wide, high sweetheart neckline and kimono sleeves. It gathers to the fitted waist of the 6 gore skirt and closes at the side with a placket zipper. It’s finished off with a self-belt.
I say I spent several hours tracing because I had to do this:
(note my shorten line on this back bodice piece all neatly folded under the pattern weights)
This is an unprinted pattern which means I had to decipher the perforations, an array of various sized dots and notches in the pattern tissue and match them up with the tiny diagram in the instructions. Large dots in a row for grainlines and cut on fold notation, notches for match points, and a bazillion small and medium dots for various darts, trim here, match there, gather over there… etc. I also had to sort out which were actual pattern marks versus moth & silverfish holes in this 75 year old pattern!
For this type of pattern I lay the tissue on top of my newsprint (got a giant roll of this stuff at a flea market for $4) and mark through the holes as well trace as around the perimeter.
I then remove the tissue and write on the copy, connecting dots, marking darts, labeling notches with their numbers, and noting the meaning of each dot so that later when I’m stitching it all up I don’t have to scour the instructions for what that dot meant. Oh, and I always mark the pattern name, number, size, piece, view, and cutting instructions as well as
the million any alterations I made to it. Then lather, rinse, repeat for all pattern pieces!
Finally by Saturday night I had a workable pattern but then I was left without any suitable fabric for a muslin, as actual muslin and silk are simply incompatible in terms of drape to assess if I actually like the blousey effect of this dress before cutting into my precious hoarded fabric.
I spent a marathon session with my 11-year-old sewing student on Sunday working on her dress for this year’s Sewing’s Next Generation competition at the sewing expo in less than 4 weeks but by Sunday evening I made it to the store to pick up some suitable fabric from the bargain bin at $1/yard for a test garment.
I managed to cut all of it and sew up most of the bodice last night so look forward to a seeing test garment in this stuff soon.