A self-drafted corset dress with layered skirt

Courtesy of Butterick B5797

corset dress with layered skirt front view1

 

So, first of all, I have been away for a week, and even though I came back with a massive cold, it was absolutely lovely. I went to Magaluf for HTID in the Sun. Not only was this my first time going to a holiday resort, it was also one of the best experiences regarding hardcore events. There is definitely something to be said for spending some time with your other half, lazing about in the sunshine all day and stomping about to your favourite music at night. As we don’t live in the UK, we don’t get to go to hardcore events very often, so this was a huge treat for us.

Also, I think this might have been the first time I brought exclusively self-made clothes anywhere on holiday! Yey! I can’t believe I managed that. Granted, one of them was only a refashion of a kaftan. But since that involved making an actual dress out of what can only be described as a fabric square, it’s basically self-made. 😉

In the last week before this holiday, I went a bit barmy and made three dresses to take with me. This is one of them. It was a complete spur-of-the-moment idea and I made it out of scraps I had had for years, and in a timeframe of three days. Unfortunately, the time in my “suitcase”, which is actually just a rucksack (I love to travel with hand luggage – no waiting around for baggage at airports), didn’t do it terribly well. The boning is now a bit wonky, as I am sure can be seen in the images, and hasn’t retained the same shape as before.

I’m a huge fan of rigilene as boning, as it’s quite flexible and while I like corset-shaped bodices, I don’t necessarily want to dance around in something with steel bones. And when I say dancing, I mean hardcore raver stomping, so it’s more like exercise really (but very very fun exercise). And I can’t do exercise in a steel-boned corset, although I am sure some people can…

 

corset dress with layered skirt close up front

 

Idea & Construction

As stated above, this was mostly an idea I had about 4 days before going on holiday. It’s always just before a holiday that I have a tonne of ideas for new dresses… I wanted something a bit fairy-like, elegant, form-fitting and cute at the same time. This patterned fabric had been catching my eye every time I came across it in my fabric stash. I knew I didn’t have quite enough for a whole dress, although there was more than I thought in the end, but was willing to make a bodice out of it.

I started making the bodice with the only corset-pattern I own: B5797. I know this is not a popular pattern, but I’ve had good results using it before and find it very useful for projects involving “fashion” corsets. I shortened the pattern considerably to make sure it only went to my waist and also lowered the back to make it look more like a bodice and less like a corset.

For the boning I went for a very simple solution: I overlocked the raw edges and then sewed the seam allowances either to one side, or in the case of the side seams and back seam, to both sides. This gave me boning channels that are not even visible on the inside of the garment.

 

corset dress inside with hidden boning

 

I think I might have already mentioned this in my last post, but I have never actually used a skirt pattern. Originally, I was going to finish the skirt simply with the black lining fabric and some tulle on top, but as it turned out that I only had enough black tulle for one layer and I still had some of the patterned fabric, I made another cute, scalloped layer out of that.

Since this is made of scraps, it is made up of four panels, each containing only two scallops. The black underskirt is made of 4 panels also, whereas the tulle layer is a lightly scalloped circle skirt cut in one go.

 

corset dress with layered skirt top view1

 

The finishing touches were made by adding an exposed zip at the front, bindable straps at the top and bias binding around the top edge of the corset. I used a rolled hem on all other exposed edges. Even though I think I could have done better, given a bit more time and a sturdier boning, I still really love this dress and am incredibly proud of it.

I have had the feeling lately that my sewing has massively improved since last year and that I can actually realise my ideas in a way that is pretty close to the original thought. This came out almost exactly the way I imagined it, which makes me so happy.

 

corset dress with layered skirt back view1

A 70s-inspired Summer Dress

A modified Butterick B5209

vintage B5209 me front view

Right, first of all, I apologise for not being very active (especially after my promise to post more…) I have this tendency to be a little bit overwhelmed when I have lots of time to be creative, but I think I’ve sorted it out now and actually accomplished something I am quite proud of. Which brings me to this project. I think Butterick’s B5209 is one of the easiest and quickest patterns to sew. It’s very straightforward and lends itself to making summer dresses like nothing else.

When I think of the summer, it always brings up images of flowy gowns and, for some reason, the Seventies. I absolutely love the dresses of that time, or as I should specify, of the early Seventies. I would have very much liked to live in that time period, although there are certainly things I would have missed. Above all, with HTID in the Sun coming up, I am glad to be alive in a time with raves. I don’t think I could live without electronic music, although as my husband pointed out, you can’t miss what you don’t know and it would have also been cool to dance around to Jefferson Airplane.

Now, this is not a flowy gown by any definition. If I could have, I probably would have made it into a maxi dress, but I sadly had to think of the practicalities of a long cotton dress in the heat. Not only am I going to wear it in Spain, Switzerland also gets really hot in the summer, so a short dress is preferable. Plus, I don’t think I would have had enough fabric. I bought this Rose & Hubble print cotton over a year ago and then could never decide what to do with it.

B5209 is a vintage 40s dress, which lends itself incredibly well to being remodified into a 70s dress. To achieve this, I made the following alterations:

  • I shortened the midsection of the dress. I kind of need to do this anyway, as I have a very high, very short waist (I am only 5’5”). The inverted V-shape of the lower bodice is certainly something this dress has in common with the dresses of the 70s, and their waist usually sat a bit higher than in the 40s.
  • I changed the skirt. I don’t think I have ever used the gathered skirt pattern that comes with this dress. I usually make my own skirt. It’s so easy to make a skirt that I know fits my proportions, rather than trying to adapt one that comes with the pattern.
  • The other major alteration I did was to add puff sleeves. Personally, I love these. In fact, I was thinking the other day that with my love of puff sleeves, maxi dresses and princess seams, maybe there is some suppressed wish somewhere in my head to be a princess. Well, let’s say I just like a certain elegance. 😉

I made a little tutorial on how I modified a normal sleeve pattern to a puff sleeve pattern here.

The sleeves and midsections are made of black Duchesse Satin. To be honest, I just wanted them to be a contrasting colour and this scrap of satin seemed fine for it. Ideally, I might have used a black cotton, but it works quite well as it is, I think.

Now, without further shenanigans, here is the dress in all its glory.

vintage b5209 front view

 

vintage b5209 side view

 

vintage B5209 back view

 

vintage B5209 me front view2

 

 

 

The corset pattern that no one likes: Butterick B5797

 

corset B5797 on me

Butterick B5797 is not a very popular pattern. It is a so-called “fashion corset”, which will NOT give the support or desired waist-cinching effect of a real corset. It definitely offers some support though.

However, I was looking for something I could wear out dancing (currently preparing for Uproar in the Dam), something that would give me the look of a corset, while also offering light support. Most importantly, I didn’t want to deal with grommets or clasps. I wanted something I could whip up and then close with a zip.

Seeing the pattern, I thought it was perfect for me. I really liked the option to put shoulder straps on, although I ended up not doing it, as I found it supported itself nicely (with a bit of additional boning) and stayed up without any problems.

Sizing

The sizing on Butterick patterns is relatively confusing to me. I tend to go for a US size 14, which would put me at a UK 16. Famously, there is usually some ease calculated into the pattern size one is meant to choose. If I went by their sizing chart, I would end up at a size 20, which I would absolutely swim in. As B5797 is only available in size 6-14 or 14-22, I thought I’d rather take in something that is too big, so I went for the bigger one.

I made the size 14, but graded the chest area up to a 16. It fit pretty ok when I made a muslin, but it was very hard to see the final form before putting the bones in. Once I had done that, I ended up taking the back and front seam in by about 1 cm each.

I must say though, I am pretty glad I got away with using the size 14. There is almost no pattern I can use in just one size without either grading it down in the waist or grading it up in the bust and hips, but I find Butterick especially difficult and often find significant sizing differences between their patterns.

Fabric

I used black duchess satin for the outside of the corset and lined it with a purple owl print cotton. The satin is quite thick and a lovely quality. However, I overlocked all the edges on it, as it frays terribly.

The owl print is so cute, I could wear the corset inside out. It is possible, although closing and opening a zip from the inside is quite hard. Also, unfortunately, the lining has some wrinkling issues.

B5797 lining front

This is the wonky looking lining. As this was my first time putting in a floating lining, I underestimated how precisely it had to match the outside to lay flat.

Boning

The boning I used was Rigilene. It is very lightweight, but gave exactly the support I want. Contrary to the pattern, I added boning channels on the outside of all the seams (except the front seam) by making my own binding out of the satin I used. I also added additional boning by putting two more boning channels on the inside of either side of the garment, as well as two boning channels next to the zip.

Rigilene can be sewn through. It feels a bit like cheating, but it was the only way I could get additional boning in, as I decided to do that quite late. Some of the boning channels cross, so with steel or even “normal”plastic boning, that would have been a much more difficult task. In addition, once I did the topstitching, I could just sew over the ends of the boning to secure it.

B5797 stitch detail

You can see the boning channels I added to the outside, as well as one of the ones I stitched on the inside of the corset shell.

Making corsets is fun

I very much enjoyed making this and will probably make it again. I really like the look it gives me without being uncomfortably tight. I plan on wearing this with a colourful tulle skirt, which I am also currently working on, but I am sure it would also look good with jeans or a circle skirt and petticoat.

I know it is not perfect. There is an amount of rippling in the fabric that any corsetmaker would snuff at, my topstitching is never entirely straight and the lining has all sorts of wrinkling problems. For my very first corset, I thought it was a great project though.

 

B5797 back

B5797 corset flat

B5797 side detail

B 5797 front 2

 

Another Butterick B5209 – this time for the office

It being summer and rather ridiculously hot, I felt the need to make a few dresses that had the following criteria: be very light and very flowy.

Often, I make dresses that I want to wear within a day or two. Not that I can make them within that timeframe. I have a couple of projects on my mind for autumn, but it’s so hot at the moment, nothing seems further from me than making something heavier for colder weather.

So, in an impulse to make something wearable for this weather, I went to the local Stoff und Stil shop, as I had seen this nice Viscose print on their website. Normally, I like to buy my fabrics slightly cheaper (and online) than the 10,95 € a metre I paid there. This comes out of practicality rather than looking for a bargain, as I still don’t see myself as a competent seamstress. I just don’t want to ruin expensive fabric. I really loved that print though. On top of that, I just love being able to go to a shop and look at the quality of the fabric.

I decided to make another Butterick B5209, as the long version I made earlier in the year turned out so flattering. I went for a straight A-Line skirt rather than the suggested gathered skirt and cut the back a bit longer than the front. What I didn’t take into account was that this fabric in combination with that pattern would look, shall we say, a little matronly?

I asked my husband what he thought about it and he said it looked smart. His approximate words were “Don’t wear it to a rave, but I can see you in it at the office.”

I don’t normally do smart. I guess I do smart-ish, but I like having a bit of an edge to my clothes. Then again, I am rather proud of this dress and it is somewhat elegant-looking.

Oh, and for the first time ever, I did a properly hidden zip. It is so hidden, you can’t see anything but the tag. I know that’s how it’s supposed to go, and it’s dead easy when using the hidden zip foot, that is, as long as you know you’ve got one… I did not realise for ages that I was in possession of one. I have this box of assorted sewing machine feet and I’m still learning what all of them are used for. So for some stupid reason, I am well happy with that zip.

The hidden zip I am stupidly proud of:

 

B5209 invisible zip

The fabric is pretty good at hiding my sewing flaws, so apart from a couple of seams not perfectly lining up around the zip, there is also a seam more or less on top of the bust. For some reason, this didn’t happen with the version I made before. The chiffon I used for the long version of the dress probably stretches a bit more. However, it is not unflattering and makes my boobs look smaller (which is a plus for me).

So here is my elegant take on the Butterick B5209:

 

Butterick B5209 floral front

 

Butterick B5209 side

 

Butterick B5209 back

Butterick pattern B5209

I have made one dress from this pattern, so far. I can tell you already though that I will be using it again, and again, and again.

It’s pretty much a perfect fit in my size without any alterations. When you’re used to trying to do full-bust adjustments and taking in everything around your waist, this is just amazing. If anything, it is maybe a bit too small around my waist (while still having enough room for my boobs, yay!)

This leads me to think that vintage patterns from the 1940s are something I should look out for. On the pictures, the drawings are very much showing an exaggerated hourglass-figure, but I was worried that this wouldn’t mean the pattern itself was actually made for that, especially since it has been updated to fit modern sizing.

Here are the pattern pieces for the top part:

the pattern pieces

 

I am quite high-waisted, so the midsection of the dress is a tad long, which leads to it being a bit small. Next time, I will simply take it up about an inch and then add the skirt. So yes, it’s not quite perfect for me, but taking out an inch is a really small and easy adjustment.

I also made this dress into a maxi-dress, as I wanted to originally make a 70s-style garment, but reckoned that this would be the closest pattern to what I wanted.

I am still on the mission to make the 70s dress from this post, but summer is fast approaching… Also, I have had this chiffon fabric for about a year and I finally wanted to make something with it.

What I really love about this dress is that it’s actually a halter-neck in version A and then you simply add a back and sleeves to make version B. This is so clever and I would have never thought of it. Plus, it looks really good!

The construction was very easy. Just like every Butterick pattern, the B5209 comes with detailed instructions and pattern markings. All the stitches used in the instructions are explained in a glossary.

This is the front top pieces all sewn together:

 

front piece

I didn’t use a lining, but the instructions are very clear about how to insert one.

Most of the trouble I had while making this garment were fabric-related. The chiffon was a nightmare to cut, as it was sliding all over the place. By the time I got to the skirt, I realised there’s no way I didn’t need to overlock all the seams, as it was fraying like crazy, so I switched from my normal machine to my overlocker.

I actually finished with a more or less rolled hem. It isn’t really making those typical waves, but I do think it looks rather nice. This was the first time that I used my overlocker’s rolled hem presser foot and I found it to work really well, even though I clearly don’t have the tensions right yet.

The finished product looks a bit more elegant than hippy, to be honest, but I still think it is really lovely and I will make sure I wear it this summer (with an appropriate undergarment).

 

Other dresses I made from this pattern can be found here, here and here.