Butterick Retro Dress B5603 ★★★★★

1lineartI love this pattern. It is easy to put together, and perfectly flattering. Given that, I will admit that its not perfect. I think there might have been some minor mistakes when Butterick translated from the retro original. The back skirt always ends up slightly wider than the back bodice for me, but its easy to fix with a dart tweak. I almost never use the given variations, and I find the bows horrendous.

But this pattern has become an amazing base for me to make up my own variations. You can see that it is easy to draft petal sleeves, create an interesting draped and pleated skirt structure, create a lace bodice top with sweetheart neckline, use a built in petticoat lining or separate petticoat, or anything else!

I never fail to get compliments on dresses I make with this pattern. And I’ve used it to make 7 different dresses over the years: 50’s Birthday DressScience Girl Eats50’s Mad Hatter Dress50’s SilkBridesmaid DressScience Girl is Sour

Butterick B5603 Misses’ Empire-Waist Dresses

 

Science Girl is Sour

Science Girl had the opportunity to attend a new event last week. The Museum of Life and Science had an After Hours event about the “Science of Sour.” It covered everything from fermentation, to pickling, to how your taste buds work. And of course I had to make a themed dress.

Spoonflower actually had a pickle design contest lately, so I had a lot of designs to choose from. My favorite was this design by pinky_wittingslow covered with watercolor cucumber slices, and even a hint of dill in the background. I used the cotton lawn fabric because of its soft texture and easy drape.

I used the same dress pattern you’ve seen plenty of other times on other projects. To switch things up a bit I hand drafted petal sleeves. I’ve been meaning to try them again in something more formal, and I’m so glad I did. It added an interesting element to this dress that I feel really drew attention.

I reviewed this pattern here: Butterick Retro Dress B5603 ★★★★★

Because the lining would show at the edge of the sleeves I wanted something perfect that would complement the colors of the pickles. I chose this design by brainsarepretty and printed it on satin. Slippery to sew, but perfect for linings.

 

Butterick Apron Dress B4790 ★★★

15lineartI so wish I could recommend this pattern. Its fun and unique and weird, and should be very comfortable and very easy! But… Clearly the transition from “retro” sizing to modern sizing lost something along the way. I’m not the only person who’s had trouble fitting this pattern. The darts are oddly placed, and weirdly sized.

There are people that have done work to make this pattern actually fit like it should, but for the most part I’m just too lazy and disappointed to try again. If you want to try your hand at it though, I’d recommend this tutorial.

I used this pattern in this project: Librarian Apron Dress

Librarian Apron Dress

I was planning this dress out nearly a year ago. I never actually got around to finishing it until we got crazy snowed in this week.

The pattern is the Retro Butterick 4790 dress. It has an interesting structure, its all one piece that goes over your head and connects in the back and the front. I’ve been meaning to try it out for awhile, just for that uniqueness.

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I found the sizing a little odd, which is not unusual for retro patterns. Luckily, it has a very casual fit, so it works out. The waist was very tiny and the bodice was a little large. I used ties in the front instead of buttons, which also made the fit easier. It has that great classic ‘50s silhouette, and the full skirt swings around your knees. I can just imagine a crazy librarian wandering around and climbing up ladders and dusting shelves in this dress. It makes me happy.

I wrote a review of this pattern here: Butterick Apron Dress B4790 ★★★

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I designed my own fabric for the front part of the “apron.” It features quotes from my favorite authors, including Dorothy Sayers (as always), Neil Gaiman (for an even longer always), Lois McMaster Bujold, Jasper Fforde, JRR Tolkein, Connie Willis, and others.

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Words mean a lot to me. A lot a lot. I want to wear my favorite words, because I take them with me everywhere anyways. This will at least warn people what they’re dealing with when they talk to me.

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The fabric is Spoonflower’s organic cotton sateen. The quotes fabric is by me, you can see it here. The book spines fabric is a lovely design by peacoquettedesigns, and I’ve wanted to do something with it ever since I first saw it.

50’s Silk

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I made this dress for a wedding I attended last summer. You may recognize the pattern, I used it for the Science Girl Eats dress, and (with heavy modifications) the Fifties Alice dress, and this border print contra dance dress, and this first instance of the returning dress. And even, actually, when I made a bride’s maid dress for a friend’s wedding last june.

This dress is silk, and I took more care with it than I usually do with sewing. I even used horse-hair braid in the hem and I cut the hem unevenly (intentionally this time, I promise!) because I wanted the hem to curl and twirl with every move. It worked perfectly.

I love this pattern because it is easy to sew, it is super flattering, it is easily adaptable to whatever I need to use it for. The dress can be casual and fun or formal and yet still comfortable to wear.

I reviewed this pattern here: Butterick Retro Dress B5603 ★★★★★

Hey readers, its sharing time! Do you have a pattern that you return to time and time again? Do you have a pattern that is perfect nearly every time you use it? Do you have a pattern that you’ve had to buy multiple times because you keep wearing out the tissue paper (or maybe you don’t even need the pattern anymore because you can draw it with your eyes closed)?

Bridesmaid Dress

This was a dress I did to be a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding last summer. And yes, you’ve seen this pattern before, its one of my favorites. Its the Retro Butterick 5630 dress.

I lined it and added some green tulle to simulate a petticoat and add a little flash of color when I twirled.

Its made out of spoonflower sateen that is hand-dyed. It was a charming and fun wedding. Each of us made our own dresses and dyed them. The bride and groom are some of my closest friends, and they know how to throw a wedding.

I reviewed this pattern here: Butterick Retro Dress B5603 ★★★★★

Butterick Jacket B4954 ★★★★

11lineartI was very pleased with this pattern. I altered it somewhat heavily, and went for a lapeled look instead of the high collar. And added turn backs to the slit/pleat at the back of the coat as well as the front, as I was going for a completely different look. But this pattern managed alterations well, and was easy to construct in the basics.

It is definitely a time intensive pattern, as with the lining et al there are a lot of pieces to match together. But the result was well worth it for me.

I used this pattern for this project, it was my Lion Tamer’s tailed coat: Spoonflower Halloween – Phantom Circus

Spoonflower Halloween – Phantom Circus

You know me, (or, maybe you don’t, but just so you know…) I like to make a big deal about halloween. I love it. Its fun. I go all out. Luckily, I work for a fabric company, and my coworkers also love to go all out. This year, we well ALL OUT. We picked a theme: Phantom Circus. We designed a whole collection of fabrics, so that our costumes would naturally match each other. We sewed, and bedazzled (my hat, my spats and my corset are all bedazzled. I’ll post closeups if I get a chance), and be-feathered, and be-corseted just about everything and everyone. It was fantastically epic. Several days in advance of halloween, our graphic designer (The lovely snake-charmer) whipped up some posters and we put them up around the building. I will probably never pull off anything this epic ever again. But it was so worth it.

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(In order of personal photos) I was The Lion Tamer, obviously the best job at the circus.

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Then we have The Bearded Lady (yes, thats a real beard), The Fortune Teller, and the Snake Charmer.

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The Jester, The Tall Man (we thought about putting him on stilts, then we realized we didn’t need to), The Tightrope Walker.

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The Sword Swallower (yes, she can swallow that) and The Ring Leader (who was totally the ring leader of the project in real life, she designed half the fabrics and kept the whole thing going and sewed half the costumes up there too!)

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And last, but probably my favorite costume, the Tattooed Lady (she designed her own tattoo fabric, in which her dog Ruby makes numerous appearances.)

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To see the fabric on Spoonflower, follow these handy links:

Photographs were taken by our lovely graphic designer and spoonflower photographer Caroline Okun. She also made adorable retro posters:

poster

I managed to get a few decent closeups of the halloween Lion Tamer costume. (Granted, these were taken with my cellphone in my dining room, and not by the lovely professional photographer who took the others.)

The jacket was an altered pattern from Butterick #4954. I removed the high collar, and gave it lapels and turn-backs instead of the straight buttoned front that was pictured. I lined it with bold stripes to give it that true circus look.

I reviewed the pattern I used for this jacket here: Butterick Jacket B4954 ★★★★

jacket

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The corset was from Butterick #5662. I removed the lacings from the front, for simplicity’s sake, and added some large brass brads. I wrote a review of this pattern here: Butterick Corset B5662 ★★★

corset

You can also see the truly ridiculous number of crystal rhinestones that I added to the corset, the hat, and the spats. I was going for a sparkly flame effect, and if I’d had more time I would have covered the whole jacket in flames as well.

hat

While the whole costume went off fantastically, I think my favorite part of this project was designing the fabric designs themselves (with the help from my fantastic coworker.) I enjoyed creating the metallic gold effect in the printed designs. Spoonflower cannot print with metallic inks, but you can simulate the effect with some fancy photoshop gradients, and a little bit of work. I think it turned out fantastically! You can also see in some of the pictures that we added some fake distressing, dirt smudges, dirty cracks, frayed threads. We wanted the costumes to look well worn. This is also my excuse for not ironing them well, by the way. We’re a phantom circus, a ghostly dead circus, clean unwrinkled clothing is beyond our cares.

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Butterick Corset B5662 ★★★

12lineartA decent basic corset pattern, if entirely unhistoric. There’s nothing creative about this corset pattern, and the fit isn’t perfect, but it works well in a pinch. It definitely wont serve as an actual silhouette altering or waist narrowing corset, but as an over the top costume piece or prom dress prop it works well enough.

For my project I removed the clasps/lacing from the front, and only had mine lace in the back, as I wanted more the idea of a boned vest bodice instead of a corset.

I used this corset pattern in an epic halloween project: Spoonflower Halloween – Phantom Circus

50’s Mad Hatter Dress

A friend of mine was having an Alice in Wonderland themed party, and what else could I do but go as a 1950’s style Mad Hatter?

The dress is mostly spoonflower’s organic cotton sateen. The overdress is hand dyed, and the underskirt is printed textured checkerboard (because with Alice there must ALWAYS be a reference to chess!) The top of the bodice is purchased lace, and you can see in the back where I used the pretty edge of the lace.

dressfront

The pattern is my ever favorite Butterick Retro B5603, which if you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ll notice I’ve made this dress five or six times. (I reviewed it here: Butterick Retro Dress B5603 ★★★★★). However, I made some pretty substantial alterations to it, this time around. The sweetheart neckline and lace is all mine, as well as the pleats up the left side. I had a lot of fun making this dress up as I went along.

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The final picture is my favorite from the night of the party. Alice, the birthday girl is centered, with a rave-styled Cheshire Cat on the left. We clearly had the best headgear at the party (Photo by Jayce Williams). Also pictured are my fellow Fifties Caterpillar (see the long cigarette holder? Hehe), and her Cheshire Cat (his bowtie has orange kitty faces on it!) One of the best nights I’ve had this year.

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