A Red Dress
Posted on Friday the 1st March 2019 by The Unfinished Seamstress
A red dress is one of those items that complete a wardrobe. They make me think of a Kim Adonizzio poem about a red dress, that’s really about power and freedom. I decided a while back that I wanted a red retro dress in my closet, but I didn’t actually want anything too vampy - it’s just not me - so I settled on this sweet sundress pattern in Soft, Breezy Viscose Fabric
This pattern, Butterick 6453
, has been very popular, I believe, and with good cause: it’s simple but with a lot of scope for experimentation, and it’s a good basic retro shape. The bodice is princess seamed, which generally isn't my favourite, but I do like it here, and the full skirt option is just an enormous dirndl. For a moment I wondered if my fabric was perhaps too lightweight for the pattern, but I changed my mind when it came to gathering this skirt. It’s a lot of gathering, guys. I’m sure you know this, but a dirndl skirt is just a big gathered rectangle, and I’m fond of them for all the reasons you will have come to expect if you follow my sewing adventures: they’re easy to cut, easy to hem, and very efficient in terms of fabric use. You can draft one yourself: it’s a giant rectangle. Then throw a waistband on (as per my post last month), or gather to fit your favourite dress bodice. The fabric requirements on this pattern though, as hefty because of the size of this one. I managed with 3 metres rather than 4, including fully lining the bodice, but then I didn’t have any prints or stripes to match.
Fit-wise, I’ve done a very minor SBA along the princess seam, and shortened the bodice: standard adjustments for me, and sized down one size. In a heftier fabric, I would probably go another size down for that tight vintage fit. I had heard warnings about the Big 4 ease on this pattern, and it’s true in this case. Look at the finished measurements, and size down. I also opted to fully line the bodice; because this fabric is so lightweight I thought it would look soft and seamless, and give me the option to go braless without scandalising the neighbourhood. I hand sewed the lining in. As I mentioned last month, I’m really enjoying a hand finish at the moment: it’s so soft and homely. This is the inside waist seam:
I will wear this with a vintage belt and a cardigan through the spring. We have a couple of dates to the theatre planned, miraculously, and I can easily dress it up a bit as well. This fabric is the definition of a basic for me: I’ve purchased it before in white, and even avocado dyed some. Some people don’t like working with rayon and viscose, because it has a tendency to slip around, but I personally love wearing it, so I sew it a lot. My top tip: take your time cutting - this is probably the hardest part, and the most important. Go slow and use a rotary cutter. If you get the cutting right, the rest isn’t so bad. Try to be as relaxed as the fabric, and it’ll all be fine.
Thanks for reading! Jo xx