The Big Vintage Sewalong – B5880

B5880 dressThis 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.

polka dot lining fabric

polka dot lining with chalk

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. 

notched neckline B5880

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.

vintage buckle coral

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

guts of B5880

sewing underlining

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.

B5880 flounce

b5880 pinned

B5880 rear

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60 Responses to The Big Vintage Sewalong – B5880

  1. lauriesannie says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! And I admit ti being skeptical at the beginning.

  2. Kim says:

    Good gravy! THAT took some work! Looks nice, actually modern 👍

  3. That is a beautiful dress – beautiful! – and you look fabulous in it! Bravo!

  4. Helena says:

    This is so beautiful Karen. I love the fabric and although a vintage pattern it looks modern at the same time. I wasn’t sure about the flounce when you showed the pattern in an earlier blog but I love how the flowers seem to cascade down the dress on this detail. Well done, hope you have a few lovely places to wear it.

  5. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) says:

    That looks beautiful, great color for you. And I think you need to head out to a fantastic swanky bar for that drink. Also you always have the best lipstick colors – so pretty!

  6. This is just gorgeous; all that breeze and elegance defying the guts and sweat that must have gone into it. Martini, dear? Absofrikkinlutely!

  7. Cherry says:

    Those colours! They are so good on you. Stunning dress.

  8. Gorgeous dress! But will there only be one? It looks so good on you, and with all that fitting done it would be a shame to not use this pattern a few more times. Because, gorgeous. And the world needs more gorgeous dresses. Doesn’t it?

  9. Jacana says:

    Stunning Karen well sewn.

  10. LAUREL GRAHAM says:

    Beautiful dress and go WOMEN! I am so excited for the future!

  11. Faye Reid says:

    Exquisite and you look beautiful in your dress. So very well done and an accomplishment to be proud of.

  12. amcclure2014 says:

    A beautiful dress, marvellously sewn. You look lovely in it.

  13. Jen (NY) says:

    Beautiful, and definitely a martini dress!

  14. Becky says:

    It is a beautiful dress, and you look beautiful in it! I love your HAIR! I’m surprised no one else mentioned it. Go WOMEN! Maybe we can civilize the world a bit, yeah?

  15. Rebecca says:

    What a gorgeous dress! Just stunning! I’m going to have to check out that audiobook too!

  16. Lynsey says:

    Your dress looks fabulous, I wasn’t sure when I saw the pattern picture but your dress is so lovely, the skirt being pegged is great and gives more shape. Love it.

  17. redsilvia says:

    Oh I can just taste the cocktails at the Ritz. Very pretty and well done you!

  18. Neroli says:

    Fabulous: The dress, your hair, the fabric, you!

  19. Jude says:

    This is great. I’ve been hanging out for your BV Sewalong post as I was making B5880 to wear to a friend’s wedding around the time you hinted which you’d make. I completely concur with the level of thought, attention to detail, fit and hand-sewing required for an apparently simple silhouette. It’s a lovely result and well done.

  20. Melody A. says:

    You look absolutely fantastic in this dress, very posh and sophisticated. and the shoes , your hair and lipstick just makes it that much more gorgeous!!! I hope you are off having a martini !! and I agree it would be a shame if you only make it once, this dress just seems to fit your personality and persona !!! So elegant like Audrey Hepburn.

  21. megan says:

    Very flattering, you should be pleased. Great colours for you too.

  22. Melizza says:

    The attention to detail paid off…it looks amazing.

    I read Rebecca at university, during my graduate studies. I vaguely remember it. Might have to go dust it off and re-read it.

  23. Very pretty, and beautifully put together!

  24. Cherie says:

    A world’s wonder you have created! Beautiful on you, looks so sophisticated! And you look so beautiful!

  25. Charlie says:

    Beautiful Karen. And you look absolutely gorgeous in it. Great colours on you. Here’s to you and all is females xxx

  26. Thank you all for your kind comments!

  27. SaSa says:

    This dress is outstanding! You tackled the just right fit and I con just feel how lovely it has to be to wear it with that lovely lining.

  28. Linda says:

    Really gorgeous! I love the choice of fabric.

  29. Robin says:

    This dress is really stunning. Truly couture. You did a fabulous job and deserve all accolades that come your way. You should wear it often, especially when you need the strength it will impart to you, like a superheroine’s cape. Well done!

    I hear what you’re saying about a second or third make. Still (passage of time…) you have worked out and through the tough bits, like when you write something you think is superb and it took a lot out of you, and THEN it’s accidentally lost to the ether. But, isn’t it the case that the second go around (maybe only necessary because you have the pressure of a deadline) is not only easier, but the results are often better? On the other hand, this isn’t work, ha ha, and there are soooo many patterns, but so little time…so I’m with you on putting it aside.

  30. Leslie says:

    Fab! And imagining all that hand sewing to the strains of Rebecca really makes it 🙂

  31. susew says:

    Lovely dress- you look fab.

  32. Jean says:

    Gorgeous dress and it looks fabulous on you!

  33. PinhouseP says:

    I love your version! I made this dress last year, and I loved every bit of it! I should really make another 🙂 Your fabrics are just wonderful!

  34. PsychicKathleen says:

    Gorgeous and so much fun to read your creative process! It is good for us to challenge ourselves – not so much that we get totally discouraged and give up – but just that little nudge to the next level of couture 🙂 I love your dress AND shoes!

  35. kalimak says:

    It’s an absolutely stunning dress, Karen! And I loved reading about the construction details. All the fine work was well worth it!

  36. fabrickated says:

    You look marvellous in this beautiful dress Karen.

  37. Sarah says:

    I really need to make this ! However, I really need a hell of a lot more practise before I attempt anything this complicated first ! Yours looks absolutely fabulous on you; I am so impressed !

  38. Ann says:

    Wowee! You really nailed this one. Interesting pattern, perfect fit, amazing job on construction, and, after all that effort, it looks wonderful on you.

  39. Stacey says:

    Well made … you never fail to impress me with your creations!

  40. Sabs says:

    Gorgeous – both the dress and the fabric!

  41. Yes!! You got there in the end and it’s stunning! That little belt was definitely worth the final push. All the details really make this. Especially like those notches at the neckline

  42. What a wonderful dress, Karen! Well done! I love the fabric and the make, so well together. Do no worry over the time and patience you spent, which is totally worth it. Sewing is slow when well done. And I have also discovered the beauty of listening to audiobooks when sewing, it’s great! Except when one has to think hard -we have those moments, don’t we?- it is the perfect companion. I am listening now to Rutherfurd’s New York while sewing. And Rebeca is a wonderful story!

  43. Kathy Lynch says:

    What a KNOCKOUT! Not much else to say other than “Well done!” 🙂

  44. Julie says:

    Looks amazing, looks like A LOT of work but looks amazing on you. i hope you enjoy many a martini whilst wearing it!

  45. Janet says:

    This is beautiful. So much of your craft and skill, coupled with the gorgeous detail you get with vintage patterns. I’m so envious – you’ve turned out something really modern and oh-so wearable. (And I can imagine Mrs Danvers would have handstitching Rebecca’s clothes, just to prove her devotion.)

  46. Caroline says:

    Hello Karen, your dress is a truly lovely creation and really shows all the care and attention you put into making it. Can I be cheeky and request a blog post or few tips and tricks on the hand sewn lining? I have always fancied having a go at this rather than the frankly inelegant method of pulling my machine sewn lining through the shoulder channels! Regards, Caroline

  47. char83 says:

    The dress looks great. I love Rebecca. If you haven’t read it yet, try out “My Cousin Rachel” from Daphne Du Maurier also. It was originally published in 1951 same as your dress. Unlike Rebecca where Manderley is a character in the book, My Cousin Rachel doesn’t have the setting adding to the book. It is definitely more character driven.

  48. Karen says:

    Absolutely gorgeous dress and print! And what a great lining! 💕

  49. susan hames says:

    Your dress is fab, and I love the fabric choice, It really suits you. I made this dress in a vintage print for the Queen’s birthday party. I’m with you Karen … definitely not a dress for the fainthearted to tackle. You cheered me up when I read you’d struggled with it too, Mine looked pretty good at the end, but the experience of actually sewing it up was really depressing as it was so hard. I’ve consigned it to the back of my wardrobe now probably never to see the light of day again. I’ve moved on to make more dresses etc that are equally as stunning but nowhere near the difficult sewing required for this little number. Never again will I tackle vintage after this dress.

  50. Sensational dress. The print is gorgeous and I love the drape. It looks really up to date too.

  51. Definitely worth taking the time over it – the result is stunning!

  52. Fabulous!!!! You look gorgeous in this one. Worth the pain to make it!

  53. Miriana says:

    Absolutely gorgeous dress, Karen – perfect pattern and perfect fabric on you! You look totally stunning! And your blog posts are a pleasure to read, always.

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