This is my contribution to The Big Vintage Sewalong – the Butterick 5880. I’m sure by now you’ve heard of this initiative that has been running since March and ends in September. That’s a lot of sewing in support of The Eve Appeal.
I always forget. Forget how long the last stages take. Those steps that I think will be the work of a couple of hours eat up a day. Hand sewing the lining? A matter of moments! Yeah, right. Though this may be my most favourite lining fabric ever, bought from Ditto Fabrics.
I’m not gonna lie; this is no easy make. I made at least two toiles of the bodice and a full calico toile of the dress, before even starting to cut out the fashion fabric. The cap sleeve structure is gorgeous to wear but blousy and you’ll want to make sure it’s not too blousy.
It’s an odd one. Too fitted and you’ll spoil the breezy effect of the dress. Not fitted enough and it will bag. But that notched neckline is to die for and the dress is incredibly comfortable to wear, fabric whispering over your hips. Whispering, Pour me a martini, darling.
What else? The skirt was shortened by a good three inches and pegged by two inches at each side, which means four whole inches were removed to give the hem of the skirt more shape. (A pegged skirt tapers towards the bottom.)
Shortening the skirt section is no easy task because you need to shorten the flounce at the same time. My solution? I just lopped three inches off the bottom of the flounce! But be aware that final adjustments may still be necessary, so baste and be ready to use the seam ripper.
And yes, that flounce. Unbelievably, this pattern comes with no instructions for stay stitching. But with the weight of that overlay, you’re going to need stay stitching like never before. It’s my opinion that you also need a waist stay. My dress doesn’t have one (deadlines…) but I’ll be adding one.
With said deadline hoving and my brow resting atop my sewing machine, my last task was to make a self fabric belt twinned with a vintage buckle I was gifted many years ago. Darling long ago reader, did you send this to me? Please put your hand in the air, if so!
For such a relatively simple silhouette, the guts of this dress involved a lot. The bodice is fully underlined with silk organza, the waist seam was strengthened with the slevedge of silk organza and fusible interfacing was used to strengthen the seams where my invisible zip went. Too often, as I stood over my ironing board I would mutter, Patience, patience…
So! Not a simple make, by any stretch of the imagination. I flex my muscles like this about once a year. It’s a good exercise; keeps the brain nimble. Indeed, my intrigue around the new-to-me lining construction kept me powering on through to the end. Learning, learning, always learning. When I stop wanting to do that, you can tip me into my grave and dance on it!
Oh, and if you seek the perfect accompaniment to hours of hand stitching, I passionately recommend the audio book of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. To. Die. For. Very. Clipped. Tones. And. Heartbreak.
Rebecca was published in 1938. This pattern was published in 1951. I don’t really know what those numbers mean in 2016, other than that over many, many years women have achieved fantastic things and I dearly hope shall continue to do so. Whether it’s with a pen, a needle, or a speech, I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings. One thing I do know. The future’s looking pretty female right now.
With thanks to The Big Vintage Sewalong for inviting me to take part.