A sundress just under the wire - Butterick 6167


Oh hi there, where did those almost 3 weeks go? All I remember doing was laying in bed coughing and then decorating for Mr. D's 5th birthday party.  Maybe I happened upon "The Doctor" and some weird timey whimey crap happened and suddenly it's the end of August and I have strange dreams of giant bugs. AHHHHH, AHHHH, get away bee!  In truth I've been suffering from a rather long case of lost sewing mojo this summer. Usually warm weather puts me all in a froth to sew as many dresses as possible before being forced once again to layer in wool. However this summer's mostly been spent knitting said wool and binge watching TV series most people saw years ago. Maybe I just have too many giant stashes of supplies that make me slightly nervous. Gosh darn hoarding gene.

I have been doing a bit of sewing at about a quarter of my usual pace. You might say that Butterick 6167 is a perfect encapsulation of this. A perfectly fine project that was then complicated by second guessing, procrastination and general laziness. In total it took more than 3 months from start of muslining to finished dress. This is honestly terrifying since it's a cute summer dress and I've made lined coats in less time than that. I'm sorry Butterick 6167, you deserved better!
Originally this pattern was going to be one of my first summer projects.  The design caught my fancy when Butterick released their Spring line and I thought the version Amy sewed up was very pretty. Coincidentally after Amy's FO post JoAnn's had a Butterick sale, so you know I "had" to buy a copy. Pattern in hand I excitedly muslined up the bodice to find that there were going to be major fit issues due to my low bust. You'd think that would have been my stopping point, but no. Sometimes I need to show my dominance by pounding fitting issues into the ground with a steely gaze much like Robert Patrick as the T-1000.
Ooooh yeah....I will kill you fitting issues/John Conner with merely a gaze.  Side note - Anyone else find the T-1000 weirdly hot. He's trying to kill us all, but he looks so good doing it. I'm all a flutter just thinking about his intense running. Stupid sexy evil robot. Anyway, let's just say I put this face on and the fitting problems magically melted away...with the liberal use of elastic. If that sounds vague it's because I'll be going into detail about my low bust alterations in a "Sewing Notes" post tomorrow. I compare boobs to baked goods.......so you've got that look forward to.

Now back to actual sewing talk....having completed the musling process all I had to do was pick a fabric and get sewing.  Usually this is not a hard decision for me because A. I have a lot of fabric and B. I have no problems buying more fabric.  There should have been at least 7 different applicable fabrics in the stash, but for whatever reason I just wasn't excited about using them for this particular pattern.  One sewing lesson I have learned is not to shoehorn fabric into a project if it doesn't feel right. You are never going to be happy about sewing that fabric up. Better just to put the project on the back burner until the right fabric comes along.  So poor Butterick 6167 got put on the back burner a looooong time.  I did try to find it some new fabric but my usual crack fabric dealers just didn't come through for me this time.
I'd just about written this pattern off for this summer when my pal Margo mailed me a surprise package of fabric. Margo has impeccable taste, so I basically squeed all over myself when I found she'd send me a tropical print on a black background. The fabric said, "I'm here for the Butterick dress! Aren't you glad you waited for me?"  YES fabric, YES! You are so worth it. We hugged and I put it in the washer for a prewash.

It's all smooth sailing from here right?  Wrong.  Turns out that if I make a muslin in April and then pick it up in August my little brain decides maybe the whole thing needs to be tinkered with. Maybe it needs to be more like the Bernie Dexter Paris dress I'd been wearing all summer.  The general look between the two was very similar, but I liked some of the details on the Paris dress more.  Why not get the pattern out and just change one or two things?

The great thing about sewing is that you can make a garment just how you want it. It's also the worst thing because you can get caught up in a series of fiddly changes that had nothing to do with the fit of the garment. You end up wondering if you're really just trying to drive yourself crazy and/or find an excuse to abandon the sewing project for you knitting project. "I can't possibly think of pattern edits right now. Guess I have NO CHOICE but to knit this sock and watch The Americans. Yeah baby, Wigs!" Seriously though, the wigs in that show are great. This blonde one....uhhh I want to marry it.
Eventually I burned through all cold war era spy craft available to me and finally buckled down to make those pattern edits. Based on the look of the Bernie Dexter dress I decided to make the following changes:

- Changed the ratio of bust shelf to lower bodice.  The height of the bust shelf was reduced and added to the lower bodice instead.

- Added a bust band under the ruched area.  I thought the band gave a nice transition between the two areas.  I've put my drafting and construction details for this in the Confessions/Advice area.
- Thinned the shoulder straps to about the same width as the Bernie Dexter dress.

- Added a lot more width to the skirt for more gathered volume. Since this made the pieces very large the skirt was cut on the cross grain even though my fabric wasn't a border print. I think the skirt as drafted is nice, just wanted to turn it up to 11.

- Added side seam pockets because why doesn't this dress have some in the first place?
I kept some of the nicer elements of the Butterick pattern that the Bernie Dexter dress doesn't have, like a full lining and a deep hem. If you're cherry picking you might as well have it all, don't you think? Just nod your head and we'll move on.

Butterick 6167. Started with a straight size 14 with a C cup.

Fabrics used
Stretch cotton shirting from the most excellent Margo. Thank You Margo!!!

Pattern changes/alterations
1. Added 1/4" at the waist to each side of the front princess line seam.

2. Changed the proportion of the front bodice of the dress.  The overall height was nice but I wanted the ruched area to be a bit smaller.  Removed 5/16" from the bust pieces, added the same to the lower bodice pieces. (Back needs no alteration since the overall height remains the same.)

3. Changed the angle of the bust shelf. On the bodice side added 1/2" at the very top of the curve and graded it out to nothing. Removed the  3/4" from the bust stay and bust inset because that area needed to be taken in.

4. Additionally reduced the length of the bust inset 2" for a total of 2 3/4" of width removed.

5. Added 8" long elastic to the top of the bust shelf to get rid of the rest of the gapping.

6. Added a bias band to the bottom of the bust shelf.  Finished width is 5/8".

7. Reduced shoulder strap width to a finished width of 8/16".

8. Added 11" to both the front and back skirt pattern pieces to increase the skirt fullness by 44".

9. Added pockets to the side seams. I used the pockets from the Odette dress.

10. Made the hem slightly smaller at 1.25" when pattern calls for 1.75" hem.

11. Omitted the boning called for in the back of the bodice.

12. Went back into the finished garment and took the side seams in a 1/2". Think I didn't make my muslin small enough to account for the lycra in the real fabric.

- Just a note that my fabric choice was a lighter weight than the cotton sateen the pattern sample is sewn in. I probably wouldn't have added as much volume to the skirt if using a sateen weight.

- I'm not opposed to boning in dresses, but don't think one piece makes sense for the design. I could see adding additional boning into the side seams/front princess lines seams if you wanted to make the garment really sturdy. I also think this design works fine with no boning at all. (Bonus, you don't have to worry about dry cleaning the dress because of spiral steel boning.)
- The hem was machine sewn because I wasn't feeling it in the hand hemming department.

- Also skipped the lapped zipper and put in an invisible one. Screw you lapped zipper.

- Looking at these pictures I should have done a bit more seam allowance grading at the waist.

- If you like the underbust band, here's how to add one to the dress.  First measure the curved seam of the lower bodice to get an idea of the length needed.  Double that and add an extra 1" of wiggle room. This will be the length of your underbust strap pattern piece.
Decide how wide you want the finished band to be. The fabric piece will be folded in half when it is attached, so double that measurement and then add seam allowance.  For example my finished band is 5/8" so the finished pattern width is 2.5"  After drafting the pattern add a bias grain line to it.  You'll want the band cut on the bias so that it bends around the curved part of the bust seam.
The band is added before sewing in the bust inset. To attach the piece, fold it in half and then baste it to the lower bodice edge.  Change to a regular stitch width and then edge stitch the folded edge to the bodice.  Try to make the curved area as flat as possible. You may need to manipulate the curved area of the bias with your fingers as you stitch.   Once the folded edge is secured you can remove the basting, or leave it in until the bust inset is attached.

Husband Comment
"It's bunchy...and all the cleavage is hidden under the bunches." *Insert sad face emoji here* (I even showed him my Marilyn Monroe impression photo and he was not impressed.)

My Final Thoughts
The husband and I are going to have to agree to disagree on this one because I felt pretty darn good taking pictures out on the sidewalk today.  I even got an unsolicited "Beautiful dress," comment from someone's husband.  (His wife chose not to comment, but I'm going to pretend he spoke for both of them.)  I also like being able to bend over in a dress and not worry about my girls falling out. Flashing cleavage all over town has never been my MO anyway.  Flashing collarbones, now that's another story.
Don't let my long list of alterations scare you off. Remember that half of them didn't really need to be made to get a pretty end result.  The only thing really had to be tinkered with was the front of the bodice/inset area. If your bust apex is in a "normal" location or if you are smaller busted this area would not be as tricky to fit. For those of you with low bust apexes like me, check out tomorrow's fitting post.  A little elastic in the inset area hides a lot of sins. :)

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