Hello lovely sewing peeps! Today I’m reviewing B6318, which is a reproduction of a Butterick 1961 dress pattern.
The pattern: B6318, a fit and flare dress with a semi-fitted bodice, tie waist and gathered skirt. I’ve really fancied making this one for a while, having seen a few reviews online and been enticed by the gorgeous pattern artwork. Go on, it whispered evilly in my ear, make this dress and you too will have the waist the diameter of a cocktail sausage. Damn you, enticing illustrations!
The fabric: This green and navy stripe cotton, £3.99 per metre from Fabricland. I should mention that although it’s listed as polycotton here, I’m sure it’s 100% cotton because I originally bought just one metre from the Textile Centre’s eBay shop, where it was listed as pure cotton and it’s definitely the same fabric. And it has the weight and feel of pure cotton. In fact I liked it so much I also went and bought it in this lovely candy stripe colourway too!
I hadn’t used my original metre of green stripe because I wasn’t quite sure what to do with such a small amount – it was one of my first fabric purchases before I knew how much I would need! So when I spied it for sale on a trip to the Kingston branch of Fabricland I knew I had to snap up a bit more with this pattern in mind.
The pattern packet called for nearly four yards of fabric, but as we all know, every single measurement/number on the Big Four packets is a complete work of fiction, designed to confuse and befuddle novice sewists. So with a bit of creative tessellation and skirt-shortening (I’m 160cms/5’3″ so skirts are ALWAYS way too long on me) I worked out I could get this dress out of 2.5 metres of fabric. I would have gotten away with it too were it not for me accidentally cutting out two right side bodices! Fortunately trusty Fabricland was able to supply me with yet another metre and I was finally able to get stuck in to the actual construction of the dress.
Sewing level: Beginner. The only potentially tricky bit is the lapped zipper, but I just ignored the instructions and inserted an invisible zip as it’s the only one I’ve learned to do so far. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!
Were the instructions clear? Yep – for once no problems whatsoever, thank you Butterick.
How was it for you? I’m pleased to say that this was a lovely simple make – so much so that I wish I’d made it earlier – for a vintage dress it’s a remarkably simple construction.
What have you learned? It sounds like a small thing but I’ve learned that preserving neat and accurate edges really helps with the finish of the garment. For example, when I first started trying to insert invisible zips my seam allowances were overworked, stretched and wonky, which of course made it much harder to get a nice finish on the zip. Similarly with hems, if raw edges are frayed or misaligned then it’s much harder to get a nice straight hem. This is my most successful invisible zip to date, and although its not quite invisible, and the top edges aren’t quite straight, it’s still leaps and bounds from previous garments. Baby steps!
I’m also delighted to say I’m getting better at accuracy (important to me as my impulse is to be very slapdash), and having an overlocker has really helped preserve those edges for a much better finish.
How did it fit? This dress is a lovely fit on me. Taking into account past experience, I ignored my pack measurements which place me at 16-14-16 B/W/H, I cut a straight size 12 and tra-laaaa it fits perfectly! The bodice is semi-fitted, so I even skipped doing an FBA. I guess the tie belt helps quite a bit with the fit but in my case the bodice fits great even with it undone. In terms of making the dress up in such a bold stripe, I was worried that cutting the belt on the horizontal stripe might visually break up the lines of my already short and curvy body but I think it actually works nicely.
Did you hack it? I decided a dress like this would be incomplete without in-seam pockets, and I used Tilly’s invaluable pocket template and tutorial to insert them. Don’t they look lush?
I was feeling all smug and pocket-y, when disaster struck. The way the dress is gathered (unless I read the pattern incorrectly) means the skirt side seams DO NOT FALL AT THE SIDE OF THE GARMENT. Cue pockets right in the middle of my front, which is a great look if you want to look like you’re fondling your foof…a bit of unpicking and re-aligning the gathers and I managed to move them back out towards the side where they sit a bit more comfortably.
Would you make it again, and if so what would you do differently? I really love this dress. Although it comes under the ‘retro’ banner, you don’t have to style it with evening gloves and a full petticoat. I cut the hem on the knee and have been wearing it with converse and a denim jacket, and it makes for a kooky and sweet little summer dress, especially in this beautiful cool cotton. The only area where I feel Butterick missed a trick is with the tie belt. The pattern calls for the belt to be hemmed all round the edges and I think it would look so much better if it was stitched up double and bagged out so that the ties are double-sided. Not only would this mean that you don’t see the wrong side peeping through when it’s tied (see my pic below), it would also mean you could pull the ties to the back for a slightly different look. I’d definitely do this next time.
And finally…will you wear it out? It’s already had its debut at Pimlico car boot sale where it attracted some lovely compliments!
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