Black and white dress: the end is near

01 Butterick 5602 previewHere’s a little sneak peek of my black and white dress (Butterick B5602), which I’m very happy to report is almost finished!  : )  It has been the perfect storm of dress construction these days, between a few slow days at the lab and the disgustingly humid weather here in Boston.  I’ve been happily sitting in the air conditioning and sewing away, with good results to boot.  There have been a few ups and downs with this project, especially because I’m still learning so much about garment construction, but I’ve been enjoying the process and think the finished product will be a success.

Last time I mentioned that my pre-emptive shoulder adjustments turned out to be unnecessary (of course this would happen, ha!), so I did wind up having to rip out the shoulder seams and the upper half of each armhole, re-cut the fabric to the original pattern measurements, and re-sew everything from there.  Although this was a major pain in the butt and my seam ripper got a TON of use, thankfully it all worked out.  Below you can see the revised shoulder and armhole area, before the neckband was added.  I wound up topstitching the armhole rather than understitching the lining, mostly because I hadn’t yet figured out what understitching meant!  Now I know.  The learning continues!

02 Revised shoulder and armholeAfter all that seam ripping and collecting the slew of loose threads that resulted (SO many threads!), I took a deep breath and tried on the dress-in-progress again.  Success!  At least in terms of shoulder height, anyway.  The bust darts were actually sitting in the range of my bust, which was a big improvement from the previous version.  : )

03 Fit of revised shoulder and armholeI was also pretty proud of this shoulder seam.  So neat!  Honestly, having the lining in the dress makes such a huge difference.  It really makes the entire dress lay so much flatter, and it gives it the “heft” of a well-made garment that will hopefully last a long time.

04 Shoulder seam with topstitched armholeI did manage to sew in the entire neckband and invisible zipper, unfortunately with no progress photos to show for myself!  Bad blogger, I know.  What can I say?  I was so caught up in the excitement!  Don’t worry, I’ll take some photos of the finished product (including a decent amount of hand stitching to finish off the seams) in my ta-dah post, coming soon.

As for the overall look of the dress, I decided to make a change from the pattern.  I had planned on including the faux-pockets (“welts”) on the front of the dress, thinking that they looked pretty classy and adorable in the pattern.  However, when I pinned them on and looked at myself in the mirror, I looked much more like a frumpy librarian than a sexy lady out on the town.  Hmm.  Goodbye welts!  I am too young to look like a librarian, thank you very much!  (No offense to all you sexy librarians out there.)  Instead, I decided to make a simple sash with the leftover black cotton from the neckline.  I think a sash/belt is pretty stylish right now, and this dress could use a gentle cinching in at the waist anyway.  I marked out 2.5-inch strips on my little piece of leftover fabric, and it turned out to be just enough to make a decent size sash (albeit with lots of seams).

05 Black cotton with sash pieces outlinedThe finished sash!  You can see one of the many vertical seams, but who cares.  I have been picking my battles with this dress, and this is just not one of them.  I tried on the dress with the new sash, and it looks great.  Much better than those frumpy welts!

06 Black sashAt this point, there is only one more thing left to do: attaching a hook and eye to the top of the back neckline.  I picked up this sweet little set of hardware at Gather Here this afternoon, choosing these black-coated pieces from their huge card-catalog-turned-button-cabinet.  (Lots of library references in this post!)  I really can’t say enough good things about this awesome local craft boutique.  The staff is super friendly and helpful, and they carry an impressive stock (especially considering their small storefront) of high quality supplies.  If I could marry a craft store….. : )

07 Hook and eye for back neckbandAnyway, I’m really looking forward to finishing this project and adding another handmade dress to my wardrobe.  This dress was actually very simple but a good exercise for me in terms of learning how to line a dress, practicing inserting a neckband, getting more comfortable with alterations, etc.  Yay sewing!

Oh, and I did I mention that I wore my red polka dot dress for the first time out in public this week???  I cannot describe how fantastic I felt to be wearing my own creation!  Plus, I felt super hot and got a few really nice compliments.  Awesome!

What have you been sewing during this crazy humid weather?  : )

5 thoughts on “Black and white dress: the end is near

  1. Isn’t is wonderful when you know you did well, and maybe the details are hidden to the general populace, but they compliment your work? I can’t wait to see this dress- I have a bitter Butterick relationship, but your dress is looking so good……

  2. @prttynpnk – Yes, exactly. I like to think that all the little details contribute to the overall impression of the garment, even to someone who doesn’t notice them specifically. What issues have you run into with Butterick? I’m new to this, so maybe I am oblivious!

    @ooobop! – Thanks, final pics coming soon! : )

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