Good afternoon, my dear wombats! Over the last year, I've alluded to my evolving sense of style. It's something everyone goes through, of course. Your body changes, you get older, you move. All of these shifts reverberate through our wardrobes, as well.
When you make your own clothes, however, this transition can be more of a headache. My many cotton versions of Simplicity 1873 go unworn nowadays, crowding my closet with their bright, novelty prints, but there aren't nearly enough silk blouses to pair with skinny jeans. Add in measurements that are bouncing around like a rubber ball and my closet fills me with dread, a morass of slightly too-tight skirts and colors that don't suit my current mood.
Then again, there are new additions that get plenty of rotation. Shirtdresses continue on, beloved and easy to wear, jewel tones speak to how much I'm over summer, and the 1970's has crept onto my radar. Think a light smattering of voluminous sleeves and bohemian silhouettes. My love of Stevie Nicks is finally influencing something other than my Spotify algorithm, it seems.
Any moment, I'm going to start wearing shawls and twirling. Tambourines, ahoy.
In all honesty, I am in love with peasant style dresses for the fall. McCall's 7431 (View C, with those dramatic sleeves!) is high on my sewing wishlist, as is this maxi dress from Burda. However, Butterick 5878 seemed like the best way to ease into this look, if only because I'd already cut out the pattern.
This is a woven surplice dress with a tiered skirt, three sleeve options, and elasticized waist. I'm not going to lie, kittens, that elastic waist drew me in originally. With those aforementioned bouncing measurements, sewing pieces that will fit from one month to the next is crucial right now. It's a miracle I'm not just sewing knits until my hormones even out again.
Anywho. I opted for View B of this pattern, which has three tiers on the skirt and elasticized 3/4 sleeves. There was a point, halfway through, when I tried on the dress and almost left off the sleeves entirely. While this version of the pattern absolutely screams peasant dress, the sleeveless view looks decidedly modern when done all in one fabric, the perfect transitional piece from summer to fall.
I'll obviously need one of those, as well.
Despite threats to leave off pieces or sub in a simple circle skirt, I embraced the design of this dress fully. Everything on the pattern is as-is, except for a Full Bust Adjustment taken before cutting. I probably could've skipped it, but the impulse for staying true to design integrity overrode me. I err toward fitting things as intended, rather than using ease to skate by with my measurements. It's always easier to take things in than to wish for more room, after all.
The fabric of this dress is a rayon challis from Fabric Mart, which has languished in my stash for years. It's a minimalist tulip design in white, teal, and sapphire on a black background, with all the swish and body you'd expect from a challis. I had scads of it and no particular emotional attachment, so it was the ideal fabric for trying out a new pattern. Plus, it wouldn't push this dress into "prairie chic" territory, which was a legit concern. The tulips point in both directions, but more one way or another, depending on which side is up. I opted for more tulips pointing down, like little Tiffany lamps.
The construction details on this pattern are what you would expect from a Big 4 dress pattern. The instructions are detailed and thorough, but I changed it up to suit my preferences. Butterick suggests that you encase the elastic in the loose seam allowance of the waist seam, which was waaaaay too messy for me. Instead, I serged that seam to finish it, then used it as a channel on the inside bodice, top-stitching the seam upwards, flat against the bodice. Leaving a few inches free, I then threaded the elastic through that channel and closed it up. Easy and much, much cleaner!
Everything else was a cinch. The tiers require a ton of gathering, but I rather like such mindless, longform sewing. Put on a podcast, zen out for thirty minutes, and you're done! On the sleeveless version of this dress, I will probably sub in a 3/4 circle skirt, though. There are only so many aggressively tiered dresses a woman needs.
The final dress looks so close to how I imagined it. Loose, but feminine and begging to be layered with tights and boots. Arguably, it was meant to be belted, but my favorite skinny belt went M.I.A. for these pictures and I like the shape just as much without. The elastic waist still gives the dress plenty of definition and it's shockingly breezy and cool for the warm September days we're having. Hooray for rayon!
The one thing I don't like is the sleeve length. It turns out that elasticized sleeves kind of drive me crazy on my forearms. They're not tight enough to stay still, but they're not loose enough to keep from bothering me. I keep leaving them at my elbows, as in these pictures, which gives them a bell shape. It's cute, but definitely not as intended.
When I change up the skirt on this pattern, I'll increase the depth of that crossover wrap on the bodice, as well. Like others before me, I added a tack at the center front, to prevent the bodice from blousing open. With a slightly deeper crossover, I could nix the tack and the camisole underneath. Using the current skirt, though, the shorter waistline from a deep wrap would have messed with the top tier's size. The pieces measure one for one, along the waistline. I didn't feel like pre-gathering before the elastic insertion or narrowing that tier, so I left the bodice intact.
Can you tell I'm ready for fall? Things are getting desperate around here, when I'm willfully adding sleeves to dresses and wearing black by choice. After looking at these pictures, I'm dreaming of another version of this dress in true autumnal colors. Maybe a berry polka dot or mustard floral? Those would look gorgeous layered under cardigans and over tights.
There's nothing wrong with a spot of aspirational sewing, right? Sew for the climate you want to have and all that. I haven't even started on my winter coats yet, so I'm still being somewhat practical. We'll ignore the piles of wool on my cutting table and pumpkin cake recipes crowding my browser tabs.