Dresses are Butterick's strong point, in my book. I was interested in this dress as soon as it came out last winter, even though I find the model photo to be strangely blocky. I think the waistline seam hits too high on her.
This little dress had a lot riding on it. I made it to wear to my husband's office holiday party. Not just any spousal holiday party, mind you, though that is hard enough--the first holiday party at his new job, with his new co-workers, none of whom I had met. This company has such a long-term cast of characters, he is the newest employee by five years!
Oh, I agonized over what would make just the right impression. I wanted to look great, but in a quiet way that avoided being too anything (colorful, tight, youthful, mature, dowdy, frivolous). And I wanted to be comfortable and warm. Cutting to the chase, I was happy with it, but I was nervous during construction that the end result would not be just the right thing.
Though I usually don't take full advantage of my sewing friends' help with fitting (they do this for a living, and I hate to pile work on top of work for them), I did in this special case ask for some mid-project pinning and advice. What a difference it made. I had already tweaked a lot of things in the pattern and cutting stage (mostly shortening through the bodice and narrowing the shoulders), but those little tucks and adjustments made by someone else were invaluable. I need a personal dressmaker, not to sew for me, but to walk around me and pin things.
My friend and sewing idol Linda took tiny tucks at the neckline and brought the back waist up a good 3/4". I think we also took a tuck in the armscye, which I removed at the front shoulder.
It's so difficult to get a good picture of the back of a garment. I hope it fits well. I think this is about as good as it gets with my swayback.
My topstitching, the main feature of this design, is so far from perfect. There were three main reasons for this: 1. Skill, or lack thereof; 2. Thickness of fabric + interfacing and 3. Time constraints. I was under the gun and finally decided to forge ahead and accept the results. Changing the order of construction from what Butterick recommended may have helped, but I'm not sure. They have you topstitch each component separately, then assemble the pieces, matching the seam intersections. Another way to do things could be to assemble the pieced sections, then topstitch the seams, pivoting at the angles. Without trying it, I'm not sure which is the better approach.
The neck and sleeve bands, with their facings and interfacing, were really challenging to feel satisfied with but, again, I just had to call it good and move on.
One note on the fabric: Marc Jacobs wool doubleknit from Fabric Mart. What a dream piece of goods--substantial with a bit of lycra, wonderful stretch and recovery, great color (well, it's gray, but a beautiful rich gray) and something under $15 per yard. A great find, long gone from their website. Sometimes I win with them, sometimes I lose, but this piece was terrific.