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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
- 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.