The Big Shirt that wants to be a Dress - Butterick 5897.
I have to admit I am not sure whether I like this dress or not, but I made it for a reason.
(AND, I only noticed after I had taken the photographs that I did not straighten the collar. But I am not going to take these pictures again...).
The pattern I used was Butterick 5897 now OOP.
I decided to make size 8, because the garment had generous ease. I tested that this would fit me by making a quick muslin down to my hips - I've tossed that, because I am trying to tidy the sewing area every time I finish a garment.
I cut the pattern to exactly the size 8, including length. I hoped that the dress would be longer on me than shown on the pattern envelope. I am shorter than 5'6", which is the height patterns tend to use. I was using a piece of craft cotton that I did not really like, but with this garment, I was also going to use a technique I had not used for years. So this was, once again, a technique practice garment. The technique I wanted to relearn was how to make a placket front shirt, because this can be handy if you want to hide buttons - necessary sometimes, if you can't find a nice button.
I could not cut it longer because I only had 2.3 metres, and I needed about 2.5. I didn't have enough for the inside yoke, so I used a piece of lawn for that, which is a bit lighter in any case.
I made View C, but did not have long sleeves, but shortened them. I hate roll up sleeves for summer dresses - I prefer a loose and cool sleeve. I did not do the chest pockets, nor did I add tabs anywhere. I did add in the side seam pockets.
Now, craft/quilting cotton is not really manufactured with dressmaking in mind, but unfortunately, that is what the market is flooded with nowadays. It is harder and harder to get quality dressmaking fabrics, so I may have to come to terms with using this stuff from time to time.
I had an inkling that it handled differently when I made up my Bubbly Pants. There seemed to be a bounce to the fabric. But for the Bubbly Pants, it did not matter - the seams were minimal and straight. However, I found out quite a few of the idiosyncrasies of craft cotton when I made this dress. I'll tell you what they are as I post:
Showing collar, yoke lining, front yoke gathers, collar and stand, and fly-front placket opening:
In the picture above you can see a few things - that craft cotton is often printed on the right side, and is quite white inside. And if a thread pulls, as it often does with buttonholes, a white mark is left. See top buttonhole. Inside a placket, this does not matter, but it would on an exposed buttonhole. I used a blue pen to go over this after I took the photo, so it doesn't annoy me. The buttons are just cheap, shiny, plastic things and are black, quite horrible, but it was all I could get that would anywhere near work with the fabric colour.
If I was using craft cotton again, I would choose an overlocking thread that matched the inside - I wasn't thinking, and so I have black against white, which annoys me a bit, because I like seam finishes to disappear. But this is what a practice garment is all about. Finding out how to do it better next time.
And the hem - I had to do this very neatly, as I normally do, but in this case it was important, because the hem shows. And if you look to the hem curve at the left of the shoulder, you will see small puckers. This is craft cotton behaving like craft cotton, because I found out it really did not like doing layers or curves. I believe it has been designed for quilting quite specifically - quilters cut small, straight shapes, and like straight seams and no flop or drape - nice crisp, straight, lines. Dressmakers like easing, and shaping and manipulating seams - so the fabrics have to be able to do this.
Of course, young sewers like these quilting cottons because they come in all sorts of cheerful prints. And beginning young sewers like dresses with straight seams - fairly simple lines. Not curves and plackets and details.
I found that this fabric really liked to pucker when it hit these sorts of details. I used all my usual techniques and don't normally get puckers. Bobbins are also not wound at high tension, another source of puckering sometimes. And this was confirmed when I made my next dress (to be blogged next week) out of another very basic cotton broadcloth. Minimal puckers.
I'll show you what I mean in the next photo:
See all the puckers down the fly front placket? And just around the hem. I also got puckers when I eased the sleeves in - and I usually do not have trouble with plain cotton when easing sleeves. Mind you, because of the gathers on the front and back yoke, the sleeve sort of matches. So I can live with that.
I did check a RTW shirt with a fly front placket in my wardrobe that is made out of poplin, another fabric prone to puckering - and it had more puckers than my dress did, so that made me feel a bit better.
The side seams, which are straight, had no puckers at all, which makes me think again that quilting cotton is made for straight sewing and for quilts and crafts, not dressmaking.
Now lets look at the dress:
Well, I am still not sure about this dress - it is a bit short at the front, hence my post title about this being a big shirt that wants to be a dress.
And a bit baggy. But then it looks just like version B, unbelted, on the pattern envelope.
I did make the belt (it has puckers, of course, but my next belt, in basic broadcloth, didn't...)
And this is the dress belted:
I think I still need to reduce the shoulder width slightly if I make this dress again. And, I would lengthen the front - it is uncomfortably short for me at the front. But then, it does look like the picture. And this is all the fabric I had.
A Sunday dress! And also, a dress that can be worn over leggings in Autumn. So, although I don't like the puckers - I suspect from the properties of the fabric - and some of my RTW's also have more puckers, I think I will get some use from this dress.
And I have learnt a lot. Next time I use craft cotton I will work within the limitations of the fabric. Simple, straight, lines.
Who knows, I may even get to like it:
Until next time, keep well,