Tag Archives: Butterick 3731

My New Favorite Dress…Twice! Two Takes on Simplicity 8689

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My New Favorite Dress…Twice!  Two Takes on Simplicity 8689

Hi, everyone!  It’s been awhile!  It felt so good to take a nice, long break this summer.  I really needed it.  We wait all year for warm weather in New England, and I just wanted to soak it all up.  Summer is gorgeous here.

This summer I tried to think about what I really want in my warm-weather clothes.  It took me almost until the end of the season to really figure it out, but I did manage to sew a (very) few things that fit my wardrobe ideals.  In fact, I found a pattern I liked so much that I made it twice:  Simplicity 8689.

Simplicity 8689

Version 1

Simplicity 8689 Dress

Version 2

I have made a few somewhat successful dresses in the past, but I think I really found what I was looking for in this pattern:  all undergarments are covered, it is loose and doesn’t cling in hot weather, it’s long enough that I don’t have to worry about a gust of wind exposing me, and, of course, it has pockets.  I also love that this pattern has so many possibilities for variation (and decoration!).  That’s the case with any pattern, but this is one where I can really see those possibilities.

I had fallen in love with a combination of black eyelet and light purple/pink voile at Joann’s in the spring, and when it went on sale, I snapped it up.  Originally I had it earmarked for another pattern, but I’m so glad I went with this one.  I figured I could underline the eyelet in voile, which would provide modesty and create a cool effect.  If you aren’t familiar with it, underlining involves taking two layers of fabric and treating them as one, reducing wrinkling and providing many other benefits.  For my purposes, the reduced wrinkling and the modesty underlining provided me with were key.

Pattern Choices

I chose to make View B, the tunic length, with an added 8″ ruffle (before hemming) at the bottom.

Simplicity 8689 Dress

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Simplicity 8689 Dress

I cut a 16 at the bust and graded to a 20 for the waist and hips.  I like a fair amount of ease, but if you don’t, you may want to think twice about grading out.  I probably could have made this in a straight 16 and been fine.  If you look at the back of the dress, you can see that there is a lot of fabric being gathered in by the waist ties.

Simplicity 8689

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Simplicity 8689

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Simplicity 8689 Dress

Pattern Adjustments

*Borrowed the short flutter sleeve from vintage Butterick 3731.  I actually didn’t even notice that I was putting a raglan sleeve on a set-in sleeve pattern until writing this post…hm.  I’m glad it worked out!  That explains why my sleeves are so long!

Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

*Added 2.25″ of length to the bodice, changing it to 2″ on my second dress

*Major broad back adjustment (enough to preserve the ease that was supposed to exist in this pattern, which is 4.5″ above body measurements; you can see how I do a major broad back adjustment here)

*Low bust adjustment, moving the bust point on the princess seams down 7/8″ (and then taking 7/8″ off the bottom edge of the bodice)

Simplicity 8689 Dress

*Lowered the placement points for the back ties until they were 1″ above the bottom edge of the bodice

*On my second dress, I raised the pockets 2″ so they would end up where they were before I lowered the waistline

This sounds like a lot of adjustments, but I was committed to getting the result I wanted, and they were worth it.  For information on broad back adjustments and lowering bust points, I used The Perfect Fit from The Singer Sewing Reference Library.  These books are cheap and easy to pick up used.  I have a lot of them, and this is probably the one I turn to the most.

After making my first dress in black eyelet with black mini pom pom trim, and wearing it every Sunday for a month, I was completely smitten.  While in Michigan, I managed to hit the fabric sale at Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI and found some cotton bubble gauze.  I bought four yards, thinking I could double layer it for opacity (more underlining!), and make something fun.  I settled on making another version of Simplicity 8689 with all the beautiful trims I could find.

Martha Moore’s versions of this pattern influenced me heavily.  You can see her black dress on PatternReview here and her brightly-colored embellished dress on PatternReview here.  It was through one of Martha’s reviews that I discovered and fell in love with fashion designer Dodo Bar Or’s resort collections (here’s a link to her Resort 2019 collection), and decided I needed something like that in my life.

While at Field’s, I found the floral ribbon, and added rickrack and big pom pom trim from Joann’s plus more baby pom poms from Amazon.  These colors make me SO HAPPY.  I love them.  Getting everything just right took some very careful sewing!

Simplicity 8689 Dress

I made the sleeve a single layer of gauze and hemmed the two layers on the bottom ruffle to different lengths for a fun effect.  Quarter inch iron-on adhesive was helpful in getting crisp hems in those areas.

Simplicity 8689 Dress

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how the dress would come out in the gauze.  It’s a bit crinkly, and after consulting the experts at Pintuck & Purl, I didn’t try to iron it, but sewed it as it came out of the dryer, and this worked well.  It probably is a little larger/more relaxed after wearing than the black one, but it’s hard to tell (without actually measuring) if that’s reality or just my perception because of how the light and color interact in each garment.

Garment Details

*I used a plain black fabric for the facings and pockets in the black dress.  In the yellow dress, I used part of a fat quarter of Liberty of London Tana Lawn I got in a fabric trade.  The colors are great!  Quilting cotton was perfect for the pockets, and part of that same selvedge made a great tag for the dress.

Simplicity 8689 Dress

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Simplicity 8689 Dress

*If you look closely on the black eyelet dress, you can see that I managed to mostly pattern match the front center seam, and I alternated the direction of the embroidery on the front yoke, side panels, skirt, and bottom ruffle.

Simplicity 8689

*I used shiny nylon cord and tassels plus other odds and ends from the jewelry section of the craft store to add tassels to the black dress.  Originally the cords were sewn into the neckline, but they broke in the wash.  I tried to sew them on again by hand, but it looks messy and is starting to separate again.  If I make this pattern again, I will try to come up with a good way to make them detachable for the wash, maybe with hooks and eyes.

Simplicity 8689

The tassels themselves are removable, thanks to some jewelry clasps.

Simplicity 8689

Anyway…

I finally feel like, after a few years of searching, I have found a summer dress I love.  I feel confident, secure, and beautiful when I wear these.  I know they are a little different from the norm (especially the yellow dress), but sometimes fashion takes courage.

Simplicity 8689 Dress

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Simplicity 8689

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Vintage Butterick 3731 Dress in Blue Rayon Challis

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Vintage Butterick 3731 Dress in Blue Rayon Challis

This summer we attended two weddings, which seemed like a great reason to challenge myself to sew a few dresses.  I’ve never been much of a dress-wearer, but I’d like to find a style or two that I like for summer, and wear dresses more.  My original plans involved making a fit-and-flare dress for the first wedding and Butterick 3731 for the second, but creative plans often change.  I don’t know what it is, but so far, after trying two different patterns, the fit-and-flare, darted-bodice dress style eludes me.  There must be some fitting knowledge that I’m missing.  So, after a hearty (but failed) attempt, I put that style aside and got to work on Butterick 3731.

Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

This pattern is probably only my second vintage pattern that I’ve worked from.  On one of my trips to the Brimfield Antique Show I found this pattern, which was in my bust size…but was missing instructions.  The antique dealer gave it to me for free since it only had the pattern pieces.  I posted about it online, and crossed my fingers hoping that someone in the sewing community would have it and could send me directions.  And a wonderful lady named Sara did.  Isn’t the sewing community great that way?  Thanks again, Sara!

Vintage Butterick 3731

My original intention was to make the maxi dress.  I graded the waist and hips out to fit my measurements and made a muslin (which was a good idea, because I found a few little problems I needed to fix).  Then I bought some rayon challis from Joann Fabrics at a great price.  The fabric is one designed by Gretchen Hirsch for Joann’s, which I was excited to try.  I laid it all out, only to realize that in grading the waist and hips up, I hadn’t considered the sweep of the skirt.  It was too wide and I didn’t have quite enough fabric.  I could have made the skirt more narrow, but even so, I was somehow still short on fabric, so I decided that this dress would have to be the shorter version.

Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

This pattern was so easy to make and fit!  It was great to have a project that wasn’t overly hard to fit!  That being said, however, there were little parts where notches didn’t align or seams needed to be finished beyond what the directions instructed.  I made sure to use French seams or clean-finished seams so the insides would look relatively nice.  My goal wasn’t perfection, just a dress that was well-made and that I felt comfortable in.  And I do feel comfortable in this dress.  I’ll admit that the picture of how I look in my head isn’t exactly how I look in real life, but I still love the dress.

Vintage Butterick 3731

The flowy fabric turned out to be a good choice as well.  It’s soft, yet cool. I will say, however, that having used both the rayon challis from Cotton + Steel on a shirt for my mom as well as this rayon challis from Joann’s, there is a marked difference.  I don’t have full confidence that the fabric in this dress will stand up to wear and tear, whereas the Cotton + Steel rayon feels really durable.  Cotton + Steel rayon is also far, far more expensive, so you have to weigh your priorities.  This was the right fabric for this dress at the right price point.  I’d still really love to make the maxi version, but that will also have to wait for the right fabric at the right price point…that maxi will take a lot of fabric!

Vintage Butterick 3731

If anyone is thinking of trying this pattern (and it seems like there are a number of copies out there on Etsy and other sites), I would recommend it.  It’s comfortable, easy to fit, and great in a drapey fabric.  Despite a few little oddities in the directions (a few notches that didn’t match up and a facing that ran a little short), the directions and pattern pieces are good overall.  It also feels current as the ’70’s return yet again.  😉  I’d love to try this in a soft linen.

Vintage Butterick 3731

Recommendations

  • Siobhan of the blog Just Keep Sewing made one of my favorite versions of the Victory Patterns Hannah dress, which is on my 2017 Summer Sewing list.
  • If you love 1970’s fashion, you might want to check out the #70sfashioncult hashtag on Instagram.  It’s full of patterns and ’70’s clothes.  You could even add your own retro creations or ’70’s patterns!
  • Do you live in the Midwest of the USA?  If you do, and you have a Meijer near you (which is like a Midwestern Target), try their Michigan Cherry coffee.  It’s one of my favorites!  Several of my friends in New England have also grown to love it since I have wonderful in-laws and parents who are willing to ship it to me.  😉
  • Since knowledge is power, let me help you with your bowling game.  After watching this, I want to ask my local bowling alley if they oil their lanes with ‘The Badger’ or ‘The Cheetah’ or a house pattern.  They’ll probably think I’m super cool if I do that.  Right? 😉  Check it out:  The hidden oil patterns on bowling lanes.