Back in the Summer of 1998 I made my first version of Butterick 5356. I remember it particularly well as it was my ‘birthday’ dress. That year my husband and I spent a lovely day exploring ‘The Vyne’, a National Trust house and garden in nearby Sherborne St John, Hampshire.
The fabric used was a polyester crepe de chine purchased from a market trader in Andover. I still have the dress, it still fits, and I wear it every Spring and Summer.
I made a second version of the dress using a Lavender-coloured crinkle cotton. Unfortunately I no longer have that iteration as I gifted the dress to a friend, now sadly passed away.
Every Spring/Summer since 2000 I have wanted to make the dress again, but this time in a natural fibre so that it is more comfortable to wear in the really warm weather. Finally I have done it!
The original dress was made to size 22 with a few adjustments – reduce the width of the shoulders and the length of the dress. As I knew that the dress was ‘just right’ in terms of fit, I would be able to cut straight from the pattern.
Turquoise is a special favourite as I believe the colour particularly suits me, I selected some Ditsy Daisy Sustainable Soft Viscose Challis purchased from Rainbow Fabrics, Kilburn at the end of April 2022 at a cost of £21.57. Thus this length has not been long in my stash and I thought that the print and drape of the fabric would be a great match for the Butterick pattern.
As I am currently watching the latest series of ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ where each challenge is undertaken with a time limit, I decided to time myself making this project. Total time taken including cutting out and the final hand sewing of the hem was 8 hours. This is longer than expected but can be down to the mobility of the fabric, having to hand sew tailors tacks for all the deep tucks on the bodice, plus a hand sewn hem. However, as I was very keen to get the dress completed quickly, I have neatened seam allowances with the overlocker rather than make French seams which is time-saving.
Order of work was:- Session 1 – Cutting out. Session 2 – Making the self-fabric ties, interfacing the collar and front facing, making the back darts and including the ties at the waist point of the darts. Session 3 – Making sleeves, preparing the back neck facing with a ‘Carousel’ label. Session 4 – Sewing the front bodice tucks, shoulder seam front to back. Prepare Collar and one half of front facing. Session 5 – Second front facing, side seams, set in sleeves, make 12 buttonholes. Session 6 – Add 12 buttons, prepare the hem. Session 7 – hand sew hem in place.
Conclusion: Marking the I front bodice tucks and sewing the collar are both fiddly, especially with this particular type of viscose. I am sure that if (when!) I make the dress again using a crepe it will be less time-consuming. I love the finished dress which I think is particularly slimming and very comfortable to wear. I will definitely be making another.
Project #30 completed 15th June 2022