I’m very happy with my latest project, Butterick 4443, which is a fitted dress that comes with 6 style variations. I went with the cap sleeve variation because I’ve never done cap sleeves, so it seemed like a good technique to learn.
I used some extra cotton fabric that Wrong gave me. I think it might be quilting fabric, which was why she was against me using it for a dress. It is a bit stiff and doesn’t drape as beautifully as it could, but I loved the pattern, and I was also feeling very apprehensive/economical. Because I’m a very beginning level sewist, every pattern I do has techniques that I’ve never done before. So, I knew there was a high potential for failure. I used some of the leftover linen/rayon blend that I used for Vogue 8645 for the lining.
I did make many, many mistakes when sewing this dress, but I managed to cover them up adequately, so the dress is completely wearable! There are some fitting issues that I’ll discuss later, but that is because of my body type, not because of the pattern or because of sewing mistakes.
The bodice is made with princess seams; Nancy Zieman’s Sewing A to Z was a big help in figuring out how to do them correctly, so I managed to avoid the problems I had with Simplicity 2017. The trick to sewing seams with different edge lengths is to sew with the shorter edge on top. Then, cant the fabric so the feed dogs bite more of the longer (bottom) fabric as you sew. It was a bit nerve-wracking not to be able to use a lot of pins to line the fabric layers up firmly like I usually do, but the seams were great the first time!
My main problem with this pattern was inserting the cap sleeves. For someone whose never inserted cap sleeves into a lined bodice, the diagram was pretty much incomprehensible. I couldn’t find good instructions online, so I just gave up and folded both the lining and the main fabric back about 5/8th of an inch, inserting the sleeve, and went on sewing. Yes, there is a visible line of stitching, but I got sick of staring at the diagram and feeling stupid.
This pattern calls for a lot of hand sewing; instead of following the instructions and hand-sewing the hem, I decided to be ambitious and blind stitch the hem. Why bother having a machine that comes with a bunch of feet/functions if I’m not going to use them? I used this makeit-loveit.com tutorial to figure out how to do a blind hem. I’m very happy with the blind hem- there are some small vertical stitched visible, but I’m sure these will get smaller as my technique improves.
OK, on to my fitting issue- the bodice is just a bit long for my body, so the dress actually sits above my shoulders. I am short, so I think I need to use The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns to figure out how to shorten the torso when I am sewing. The waist could also be a bit smaller so that it’s more form-fitting (Adding a narrow belt in a contrasting color helps). I’m very happy with this dress, but am taking it to Goodwill because of the fit. I don’t need a dress that doesn’t fit well! And, remember I love Goodwill! Taking broken or overly worn-out things there is one of my pet peeves, and I don’t feel bad at all about donating this dress. It will fit someone better than me, and hopefully they will get a lot of good use out of it!
I’m going to make a muslin of this next time to work out the fitting issues. Still a nice pattern!