Friday, 20 April 2012

I'm tingling right from my head to my toes....(or is that just a muscle spasm). The epic journey that was Butterick 4443

Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered I have fought my way to the end of the dress.....or was that the Goblin City........hmmm leaving my Labyrinth alternate reality behind (though I distinctly remember chanting 'you have no power over me' multiple times to the cursed invisible zipper), let me share with you the saga that was the making of Butterick 4443 aka the semi fitted, partially lined, slightly flared skirt, princess seam dress aka The Dress.

Ta Da....Butterick 4443 

As a beginner sewer I knew that this was going to be a challenging task (despite the blatent lie on the front of the pattern cover - you already know what I think of the "6 Sew Easy " statement) and it was......Coming out of the making of this dress I have come to the following conclusions:
  • I NEED a dress form.  I think I have mild shoulder dislocation from putting this dress on and off a gazillion times to check the fit, not to mention the first aid treatment required for rogue pin attacks.
  • I am buying a guitar.  After making this dress I am so full of angst I need a creative outlet to let it all out.  Maybe go country and western ("don't break my seams, my wonky shonky seams,  or I'll throw you in the bin....." catchy huh?)
I also heard reports early this week of a possible world chocolate shortage......yes, that would be because of me and the making of this dress.

As a well trained engineer I started off this project by doing a literature review and there was plenty to find with over 40 reviews of this dress on pattern review.  The main consensus coming out of the reviews was
  • the bodice fits very loose and tends to be gapey and the front and at the back
  • the bodice tends to run long
  • the bodice tends to run short (am guessing it is all relative!)
  • very few people were crazy enough to do all that hand sewing
  • most people used an invisible zipper or moved the zipper to the side.
  • most people used it as a base and modified different design aspects to get the look they were after
  • overall a highly recommended pattern 
So.....its definitely a goer.  I chose view F which had the cute cap sleeves and I used some fabric from my first every purchase from  It was a lightweight linen blend in a smokey grey with flowers and leaves print.  For the lining (and this was my first ever lining) I chose a bemsilky lining in a dark grey from Spotlight.

Experimentation was next and involved putting together a muslin of the bodice.  It took many goes to get it right as the sizes were very very generous.   I had to make big changes due to my weird back geometry, weird shoulder height, weird torso length and small but also weird shaped bust - overall I am calling it a weird body adjustment (or wba).
Stating the obvious tip #4 (Like all other reviewers before me have said) if this is your first time making a 7 panel princess seam bodice then take the time to get it right before you go hell for leather on your good fabric.  I am wishing now I took the time to fully redraft my pattern pieces before moving on as I had some matching issues going on with the notches and the length of each bodice piece.

The sleeves was actually quite fun and I do like the final look. There is a lot of ease in the sleeves and you end up with quite a pronounced gather along the seam (note that the line drawing on the pattern shows very smooth sleeves so if that is the look you are after you will need to rework the sleeve pattern or adapt another sleeve pattern that you like or suck it up and embrace the pouffy sleeve)

attaching the sleeve to fabric not the lining
Final look of sleeve

The instructions for this pattern are actually really well written and the drawings are pretty good, so thumbs up for Butterick (first Butterick pattern for me)

So bodice came together well and attached to the skirt panels no problems.  Its now Sunday afternoon and I am feeling mighty proud....surely I will have it knocked off before the end of the night.....Monday at the latest.

That was when my problems started. 

1.  The lining, or should I say.....THE LINING. (note the slightly louder tone of voice).  I am pretty sure I picked the worse possible fabric to make the lining out of.  It was slippery, hard to handle, kept fraying, not forgiving ie melting when I accidently (I swear it was an accident) touched it with a super hot iron and just blatently wouldn't cooperate.  I ended up lining the sleeves with the linen fabric as I couldn't bear to make anything else out of that lining fabric. 

2.   Putting in the zipper....the INVISIBLE ZIPPER....this is a really pretty dress and even though the pattern calls for a standard dress zipper it would mean 22" of exposed top stitching and bulky looking zipper.  So armed with an invisible zipper foot and an 18" invisible zippper (short and stumpy remember!) I set forth.  It took me 10 goes to get the zipper in.......6 trips to the computer to view 6 different youtube tutorials on how to insert an invisble full bag of snickers funsize chocolate.....and we are now at Tuesday evening and zipper is finally in. 
Waistline seam matching
3.  Then with zipper on, testing the final fit and I come across......THE SAG....yes, the linen fabric is too light that it wouldn't hold its shape at the side seams or at the zipper creating a slightly saggy look if my posture is not perfect.  Fix involved me trying to attach fusible interfacing to the side bodice panels and around the back zipper panel.  Stating the obvious tip # 5 - attach your interfacing before you sew up your fabric pieces.

4.  Then if this dress hasn't thrown enough at me already, its time to hand sew the lining in place and do the hem.  I must admit I had visions of hand sewing being quite a calming, relaxing process......something like this....
Just replace Fido with Loki curled up at my feet and we're good!
uhhhh....good try but no where near reality.  Hand sewing is not relaxing, it is not calming...... particularly when I kept, repeatedly, sewing the bodice too short so every time I tried on the dress the waist seam pulled up (hence the need for a dress form).   I think my shoulder muscle is just starting to uncramp now.  Of course Loki wanting to jump up onto my lap while I'm hand sewing rather than curling up at my feet also proved an obstacle.  The hem itself took me 2.5 hours to hand sew all the way round.....

Outside - no visible hem
The mess on the inside
Overall the dress creation spanned over 6 days and I must admit I am exhausted.  I loved the end result, I think the dress looks beautiful but at the same time I hate it.  Mainly from all the times I tried it on during the making and all the problems that occurred in the making of it.  I think we just both need some quality time apart and allow those wounds to heal..... 

So in summary

Pattern:              Butterick 4443
Fabric:               main :linen rayon blend from
                          lining: some cursed, spawned from the depths of hell piece of fabric....or it could be 
                           bemsilky lining (its so easy to get those two confused)
Instructions:       Actually pretty good, really easy instructions for doing the shoulder seams with the
Size:                  Somewhere between and 8 and a 12.  Heavily adjusted bodice, size 12 skirt adjusted
                           for sway back.
Modifications:   Yes....a lot....
Total Cost:          $17 plus extra for chocolate
Happy Dance on Completion:      Possibly....though might have just been a muscle spasm.

More pictures from the journey

Supervisor Loki "hmmm you're sewing your seams like that? really?

I remembered....baste in different colour to stitching thread.
Blog Title Reference:  Say you love me, By:  Christine McVie

1 comment:

  1. This dress looks perfect on you. I love the little sleeves. Also great tip about basting in a different colour, something I have been to lazy to do but would make things much easier.