Friday, August 28, 2015

1930s Day Dress Reproduction - Butterick 5764

I snagged this pattern, and fell in love with both views. They were both different enough to where I felt I could get good mileage out of the pattern, and they each had really interesting design details. I wanted to try View C first as I HAD to know how that collar was formed.

NOTE: If you start out collecting vintage patterns, the best advice I can give you is to trace the pattern pieces, markings, grain lines, etc on pellon or drafting paper. Patterns are made of a very thin tissue paper that easily tears, and this problem accentuates with the age of the pattern. If you make a pellon copy, you have a very sturdy replica to work with and alter over and over again. I would also suggest photocopying the pattern layout and instructions as the original paper can be very fragile as well. I usually do all of this and keep all my pellon pieces, original pattern, and copied instructions in a large zip lock bag.

I actually started this reproduction November 2014. There are times when I progress with a project, and am not completely convinced I made the best fabric choices, and so I stall....and stall....then stall some more. (Cue the confessional organ) I prefer working with chiffons, rayons, and similar fabrics that have a very fluid drape. I kept going back and forth about the fabrics for this dress. I knew I would most likely have to use a crisper fabric to keep the intention of this as a "day dress", but I had that 1930s chiffon drape dancing through my head. I finalized on this cotton butterfly print with black peachskin for the contrast.

I got this far, and lined the bodice. I still was not entirely convinced of my choices, so the multi-month conundrum started placing the project to the side. Before you know it, its now 9-10 months later. Pieces have been moved continuously around my sewing room. Then, I don't even know if I still have all the pieces, what has been cut out, what still needs to be cut out....its utter turmoil, cats and dogs living together, and somebody just thought of the StayPuff Marshmallow man!!

Oh yeah....then there was this other issue with the pattern..... lol a natural back keyhole!!!

The back of the collar was finished with single fold bias tape, and there was a significant crescent gap between the collar and the back base neckline. I ended up having to draft two pieces to 'fill the gap', which worked out perfectly. The picture above shows one drafted 'hole' piece already put into place.
Above and below show inside and outside with the drafted pieces and top stitched into place.
Another design issue with this pattern was that it called for bound buttonholes at the center front neckline where the two buttons are sewn. The buttonholes were to be placed on the collar, but after looking at how the collar sat, there just was not enough room for a buttonhole, much less a bound buttonhole in the space these were to be placed. So....I decided against this design aspect and just attached the buttons as embellishment.

Next, I finished the skirt pieces with lining, and felt that the print was busy and needed a 'break point'. I decided to use the belt pieces to make an elastic waistband. This acutally helped with the shape, which is always a bonus. I've never been a 'belt person' anyway, so this was the perfect compromise.
Most patterns from the 1930s and earlier call for a snap closure because zippers were not widely used until the 1940s. As such, I opted for a zipper closure at the side instead of keeping the snap placket.
The last change on this dress was made to the cuffs. The directions have you gather the sleeves, finish with binding, then add the French cuff.

Above, I added the binding as directed. Then I attached one of the cuffs....and yet....another snag! As you can see below, the cuff is not made to attach to the entire banded sleeve. As a result, the cuff does not sit correctly. Also to note, the cuffs are on the small side. I am of a smaller bone structure. My forearm is 7"/17.5cm circumference where the cuff was going to sit. It was way too tight on me, so I tried making the cuff a conventional style. Alas, it was still too small, and I was not happy with the fit. Aesthetically speaking, I also felt that this cuff just made the dress look too heavy. The sleeves sit at 3/4 length already, and then you add the cuff. It sits in a weird place, looked odd, the cut was uncomfortable.

After much consideration, I just decided to scrap the cuff altogether. I added a keyhole design to add a bit of pizzazz, and finished with a black piping and loop button cuff.

Overall, I really enjoyed making this dress, and am most pleased with the result  The cotton was the better choice as it keeps the shape of the pleats as intended. Lets face it, that collar is to die for!! You can now find it for sale here.

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