One of the most important projects of the year is my Christmas dress, and this year was no exception!

I spent quite some time choosing my pattern and fabric, and decided on this perfect combination:

I chose Butterick 6242 which is one of their ‘Retro’ 1960s designs. I love the silhouette of the dress, with the loose bodice style, fitted cummerbund around the waist and then the option of a full or pencil skirt. I opted for the pencil skirt just because I’ve been really enjoying the simple, unfussy shape of pencil skirts for ‘day’ outfits recently rather than the fuller, gathered skirts that I usually go for.

I perused all my favourite novelty Christmas designs but in the end I was most drawn to this green checked print cotton. The metallic gold stripes in the print make it feel very festive and the overall dark green colour with subtle red stripes have a really cosy wintery feel. The fabric is a broadcloth with a subtle sheen to it, and has just a slight diagonal stretch.

The dress has a simple construction, which was very pleasing as I love a project that progresses quickly. There are also a couple of lovely features that I really enjoyed sewing, such as the three darts on each of the elbows of the sleeves – something I’ve only come across in genuine vintage patterns, and the self-bias used on the neck and sleeve edges.

I approached sewing the cummerbund with caution as, never having sewn one before, I wasn’t sure how fiddly it would be. However, I really enjoyed sewing it and it was perfectly straightforward. The gathered cummerbund pattern piece (front and back separately) is placed on top of the flat waist piece and these are then tacked together and sewn as one to the bodice and skirt pieces.

I was concerned that the layers of the cummerbund would be very bulky when stitching the zip in as it a was lapped zipper, and so would have quite a few layers of fabric built up in this area. However, you can see from the photos, although not completely flat, it is still neat and incognito. This broadcloth, being so easy to sew with, didn’t present any problems and stitched through no problem, and then pressed flat, which is always extremely helpful when getting your seams and stitching lines to blend in.

Now, although I love to create dresses with a beautiful fit and vintage silhouette, I had to bear in mind that I was making this dress to wear on Christmas Day, when I would be enjoying a big roast dinner and more. Therefore, I didn’t make the waist area as snugly fitted as I would have usually done - there’s no point wearing a beautiful dress if you can’t enjoy the day you created it for! I think I still got away with a shapely finish though as the eye is drawn to the gathered waist detail so gives an illusion of shape regardless

Rather than a slit at the back of the pencil skirt, it has a pleated vent which I love as it looks like a little kick flare as you walk. Just be sure to press your hem down firmly so it sits flat.

One fitting tip I would suggest is to check the width of the neck across the shoulders. The sizing for the rest of the dress came up as expected, however the neck is slightly too wide on me and I think would end up with it slipping over my shoulder. (Although if it was a party dress then I quite like that idea!) To stop any need for adjusting the dress around my neck when I’m wearing it, I’ve stitched a small length of grosgrain ribbon to each inside shoulder seam with a little popper on the end that I’m going to attach around my bra strap so the shoulders can’t slip anywhere. I can’t remember where I first came across this idea but it’s genius and I use it a lot, as I’m not a fan of bra straps accidentally showing.

I’m really thrilled with how this dress has turned out and can’t wait to wear it on Christmas Day this year. It’s just the right amount of festive feels with the metallic check fabric and such a sophisticated shape. It’s also introduced me to cummerbunds and I am definitely going to be including these in future makes as I just love the detail and cinching effect of them.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Rebecca

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