Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Butterick 5457 toile - and your help/view please!

I'm making another bridesmaid's dress! This time it is for me. Yep, I'm going to be a bridesmaid for my mother-in-law's wedding in February. It was so sweet of her to ask me to be her bridesmaid, and I am so excited to be a part of her special day. What's more, I've decided to make my own dress, my bolero, and the bolero for her too, to keep us both warm on the day. 

I'm usually far too lazy for unwearable toiles, but when it comes to formal wear, I think it is often necessary. This is especially the case for this bridesmaid dress - despite all the questionable reviews that I have read about this pattern (and see my verdict below...), I decided to be brave and give it a go, as I particularly liked the horizontal and vertical pleats (what is it with me and pleats?), and the dipped neckline. But I was sure about one thing - I do not want to waste the beautiful crepe-backed satin (in 2 different purple tones) so a toile was absolutely necessary in this instance. 

I used an acetate satin in a slightly sickly looking baby pink that I bought a while ago for this Jason Wu peplum dress, but unfortunately I was just dreaming and never actually made it... I wanted to use a satin material to see how it will drape. 
The fit actually turned out to be spot on - I cut a 6, and it's quite a closely-fitted dress. The only real design change I made at this stage is that I omitted the gathered skirt - whilst I like gathers generally, I do not like them in formal wear as it adds too much bulk at the waistline (who wants that?!). Instead, I used the skirt pattern from one of my old favourites - Simplicity 4070 and it seems to fit fine. 

Now the pattern - oh how I can see what all the reviewers are saying! There are a few issues that I have with Butterick on this one:

1) The pattern pieces are kind of confusing. This is because there is no mention about underlining on the envelope, or in the cutting layouts. But when you start reading the instructions, it says "one lining layer will be used as underlining". I would not usually use the lining fabric as underlining too - I am thinking about using silk organza as the underlining - it's stable and thin. 
I used self lining for this toile (to use as much of this Marshmallow fabric as possible!), so I had to cut out a few pieces 6 times, which of course confused matter even more. 

To help future attempts at this pattern made by other seamstresses and myself, I have summarised the pattern pieces in this little table below. 

Layer
Bodice pattern pieces
Midriff pattern pieces
Fashion fabric
1 (pleats) fold, 2 (side front) x2, 5 (bodice back)x2
6 (front), 7 (back)x2
Underlining
3 (bodice front) fold, 4 (side front) x2, 5 (bodice back)x2
8 (front), 9 (back) x2
Lining
3 (bodice front) fold, 4 (side front) x2, 5 (bodice back)x2
8 (front), 9 (back) x2

2) I also didin't like the lining layer - is it really necessary to have so many pieces of lining? More importantly, with the split of bodice and midriff, there is an ugly bulky seam around the empire line, and because of this, the pattern only calls for short boning which extends to this line. More likely than not, boning is inserted to provide more support for the whole bodice, and provide a better shape around the midriff. In my opinion, bodice boning should at least extend to the waistline. 

So I have now redrafted the lining pieces into 3 different pieces only - the centre front (cut on fold), side front (cut x2) and bodice back. I am planning on using these for the real thing, and add boning to all the seams extending to the waistline, and also add boning in the middle (approx) of the bodice back pieces too. 

3) I had issue with the midriff pieces. I was pretty sure that I did cut the front piece (6) on bias, but when the instructions asked me to stretch the top to meet the top edge of the corresponding underlining piece (8), the fabric simply refused to stretch that far! It was really quite frustrating. I had the same problem with the midriff back pieces also. It may just be the fabric that I am using, but I shall make sure that I cut my crepe-backed satin extra wide just in case! 

Oh look at how the seams do NOT line up?!

Obviously I have not bothered to press all the pleats in place, but for my real version I am going to be really careful with the gathers in the midriff pieces - they will need to be more evenly distributed for a smoother transition between the pieces. Ahhhh, look at this:


 So, my lovely readers, before I make a start on my real dress, I wanted to get your opinion/help on a few things: 

1. What do you think of the skirt? Personally I feel that it is currently too plain, especially as compared to the fairly "busy" bodice. So I am considering a pleated skirt - what do you prefer? To give you a slightly better idea, my pleated bodice section is going to be in a very pale lilac, and the rest of the dress  (and the bolero) in deep purple. 

2. Do I really need to cut the midriff as 3 pieces - is there any chance that a one wide pleated belt may work (I will draft this in a slightly more scientific way than guessing/eyeballing it but I wanted to throw this one out there!)

3. Does anyone have any tips on how to insert an invisible zip neatly with a bulky back section? The midriff part is going to be quite bulky, with all the horizontal gathers/pleats. I haven't inserted a zip here (just pinned it at the back), but I would be interested in hearing any tips that you may have! 

4. Do you think underlining crepe-backed satin with silk organza would work? Any other alternatives that you would recommend? 

Please do feel free to let me know what you think - if you have a comment about any of the above, please say and I will really appreciate your help/opinion! 

20 comments:

  1. Ooh, fun! I like the idea of a pleated skirt, too-- that sounds really pretty! As far as dealing with bulk and the annoyingly-drafted midriff section, what about removing the ease and ruching from the midriff section and then just making a pleated belt? Then putting in the zip would be a breeze!

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    1. Thank you for your input :)

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    2. Now that I have thought about this more, as the top half of the bodice has vertical pleats that stop at the top of the midriff area, i would need to extend those pleats if I were to make the midriff section into a belt. I think then that would add more bulk.. but I will give it a bit more thought :)

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  2. This is a very pretty toile even with the issues you have highlighted!

    I like the skirt. The simplicity works for me, because the top has so much going on. But I am sure a pleated skirt would be lovely too. I think you are smart to avoid the gathered version.

    I can't be much help on the other questions, but I have done a fair amount of underlining in nylon tricot interfacing, and it worked very well for me. It has body, but is lightweight and totally did away with the wrinkling on a taffeta bodice that I underlined with it. I don't know how it compares in price to the organza, but it might be worth a look.

    I look forward to seeing your finished version!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words ;-) I shall be sure to check out the interfacing that you mentioned, especially as I have a few bits of taffeta in my stash.

      Yep, finished version to come soon... watch this space!

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  3. oh wow i can't believe how far off the seam matching is! if i ever showed my pattern making teacher that while i was there she would be horrified!!! I think silk organza underlining would be the best option too :)
    In regards to the bulk....im not so sure? maybe doing a hand picked zipper would be nice because it would be surdy but not visible? i've seen it used on a lot of bridal and formal wear when tehre is a lot of bulk. But its all preference really!

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    1. I know... what a disaster! I just don't understand why Butterick would assume that any fabric would stretch by the same amount.

      Woo what a great idea re hand picked zipper! This is something that I've been wanting to try for a while, and I think I'm ready to give it a go - thank you for your suggestions.

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  4. I would keep the skirt plain as I think the bodice is just lovely.

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    1. Wonderful - thank you for your input Lizzy :)

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  5. I think once you see the dress in your FF you'll like the look of the skirt much better. It will hang nicely and you won't feel the need to add a design element to it. I agree with Ruffles - a hand picked zipper would be elegant. There's a past issue of Threads magazine which has a great article on constructing one. You could add small beads to it which would be a lovely embellishment from the back.

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    1. Interesting point. I think my main problem with the skirt is that the ruched midriff is quite high up, so the plain skirt is not actually that flattering.Perhaps the heavier FF would make it drape better though.

      Thank you for your reference to the Thread magazine article - I have checked it out and it's written by Susan Khalje!!

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  6. 1.) I like the skirt the way it is. Very elegant.
    2.) 3 layers for the midriff - yes if you are using silk organza for underlining, it will stay nice and flat under the gathers, but you do have to tweak that ruching some. Not a fan of the pleated idea, but it's your dress. Try it.
    3.)Invisible zippers hate bulky layers and very often, break. I agree with Ruffles & Anonymous; a handpicked zipper would be lovely. I would move it to the side and do a h/p lapped zip. Gertie's blog has a great tutorial for this. (And yes, it will be very secure! Better than an invisible)
    4.) Silk organza is the best choice for underlining.

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    1. Thank you for your help! I love the idea of turning this into a side zipper - and I will be sure to check out Gertie's tutorial!

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  7. Hi there! I found your blog via Pattern Review and followed you as you were making your wedding gown. Which turned out AMAZING by the way!

    I can't remember exactly which pattern but the same thing happened I started reading the instructions and they called for an interlining. But when I looked back on the pattern pieces it did say to Cut 2.

    Those side seams are wretched! Hopefully you can adjust the pattern to make it work because it IS quite a lovely dress. I am tentatively adding this one to my wish list. I have been looking for a sweetheart neckline and have completely overlooked this one. Most times the pattern pics leave a lot to be desired.

    I personally would go with a pleated skirt. It just ties into the overall design of the dress.

    Be sure to share the final results. And it is great that you and your new mother-in-law get along well enough for her to ask you to be part of her special day. :)

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    1. Hi Monica, thank you for your lovely comments. Making my wedding dress seems so long ago now - actually the gown has just come back from the specialist dry cleaner yesterday (and yep, it came back in one piece... phew!)

      Ah I wish some patterns were a bit more helpful. I did cut the right numbers of pieces, but I would've used a different fabric.

      With my fashion fabric, I'm going to first do a "stretch test" and see if the midriff session will work out. Otherwise I shall adapt the crazy pattern. I hope the real thing will turn out better... and I simply cannot cope with seams being that far apart.

      I think this one is not quite a sweetheart neckline - it's a bit flatter. If you want a proper sweetheart, I would highly recommend Simplicity 4070 (if you search on this blog, you'll see a few mentions).

      I will of course share the real thing once it's done :-) Aw yes my mother-in-law is absolutely lovely, and I feel so special that she's asked me to be her only bridesmaid :-)

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  8. I think the skirts needs a little more volume. I think pleats will do the trick. Maybe you can use two inverted box pleats in the front and two in the back? http://www.burdastyle.com/techniques/make-box-and-inverted-box-pleats
    I wouldn't make them in the middle of the dress but in line with your bust points. If you know what I mean?

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    1. Oh, and I was wondering. Maybe you made a mistake with the pattern and you used the midriff piece upside down? It could explain why the seams aren't matching. no? Happened to me once :D

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    2. I think I am with you re the skirt. Thank you for the link to the technique :-) and I think I know what you mean re the position for the pleats.

      I did check a few times re the midriff piece - and it didn't just happen to the front piece, but also the back pieces... that's the weird thing. It wasn't as if I was trying to save the fabric, so I don't think I cut it on the straight grain or anything. and I spent ages trying to match the pieces to the underlining but they just wouldn't match :-(

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    3. Good luck! Excited to see the result!

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  9. I have not made a dress like this but I have worn one, as a bridesmaid's dress to my sister's wedding. I have a very similar figure to you and found the depth of the ruched bust part to be very unflattering on me as my bust depth (shoulder to waist I mean) was nowhere near enough to fill out the proportion of that part of the dress. It was an Alfred Angelo 6455.
    On your dressform it looks too deep - it may look different actually on you, though! Compared to your beautiful wedding dress (amazing!!), I'd say the pleated part needs to finish not much lower than where the crossover starts on your wedding gown. Could you pleat the waist piece instead of gathering it? I'm sure it will be lovely whatever you choose!

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