This month I went back to my roots with a pin-up style dress. I used to love making retro dresses but I really had nowhere to wear them so I slowly stopped. I kept trying to focus on everyday clothes and building my wardrobe but then I realized I can wear these dresses to work – duh! So I introduce you to the Etta Dress Pattern from Tilly And The Buttons:
The Etta dress is described as an elegant fitted dress. The bust, waist and shoulders all have darts to help shape the dress. I choose the three-quarter length sleeve, v-back dress with faux pockets. This pattern also has options for a high back and collar. It also has a kick pleat to be able to move around and the hem hits the bottom of your knees. This dress also has an invisible zip, which I actually find easier to install than a regular zip (I have an awesome invisible zip foot that works wonders).
You might recognize this Dressmaking Fabric, I used it back in February 2016 for the Simple Sew – High Waisted Pencil Skirt. I’ve been in love the fabric ever since and kept almost reordering it but told myself no because everyone’s already seen it… but then I caved. This is a stretch sateen and is just gorgeous. The colors are so vibrant, the fabric is smooth and I love that it has a tiny bit of stretch – perfect for tight dresses and skirts.
At the time of making this my measurements were 36-31-41 and according to the size chart means I should have made a 4-4/5-5 but I ended up sizing down and made a 3 for the bust, graded to a 4 at the waist and hips. I remembered from my last Tilly make that I sized down. I knew this fabric had some stretch and I wanted the dress to be super tight. I’m happy with the final results, it fits great.
I actually made a muslin of this because I wanted my final dress to be perfection. I made the cap sleeve version in the same size but used a 1/2inch seam allowance instead of a 5/8inch since the muslin fabric didn’t have any stretch. The dress came out looking super cute but didn’t fit as nicely as I wanted. I ended up posting in the Self Sewn Wardrobe Facebook group pictures of the fit and issues I was having. That group is straight up AMAZING. I had so much help and encouragement, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of sewists. There were 3 main issues that came up – but before that, here are the pictures I posted:
With their advice I ended up widening the shoulder width by 1/4inch, did a rounded shoulder adjustment of 1/2inch and lowered the neckline by 1inch. These alterations made a world of difference, you can see how much better the floral dress lays on my chest than the black/white did. I have poor posture and before I even started the dress I figured I would need to do something about the neckline since it was so high up. This type of neckline usually feels like it’s choking me. I didn’t realize how much better the dress would fit with these three simple fixes. Here is a picture of what I did (sorry about my bad paint skills):
I also took the hips in a bit on both the muslin and final dress because my hips are apparently slimmer than the pattern. Next time around I wouldn’t size down on the hips either, it was just a small section that I brought in a bit. I’ll add that the length is nice in my opinion. The description says it hits the bottom of your knee but it actually hits the top for me since I’m so tall (5’10”). I like it this way and I would like it below too – either way really, I’m not too picky.
I love the detail of v-back as it’s kind of unexpected. I know this seems like a basic dress, so this this is a nice “pop” of surprise when you turn around. I also added the faux pocket tabs but it’s kinda pointless since they get lost with the print. I will say that this dress has zero real pockets and that’s a massive bummer. I hate how women’s clothes don’t have pockets – like we don’t have 101 things to carry at all times. I debated on adding pockets but worried that would change the structure too much. Then I debated on making hidden pockets with an invisible zip and realized that I’m honestly too lazy for all of that. I was just ready to finish this so I could wear it!
Overall, great pattern and I’m totally obsessed with this Fabric. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that I made so many alterations, they were very quick and simple. When you made a very fitted dress and make it correctly for your body, you’ll have a few alterations. I’m excited about this make and feel really proud of it. I’m glad I made a muslin and put in the extra effort.
Bonus! I haven’t introduced the new pup to my Minerva friends yet! This is Sir Bowser of Woofington, he’s a miniature schnauzer that we rescued about a month ago. My other dog, Guinness, used to always show up in my blog pictures but sadly he passed away a few months ago. He passed on his own, in my arms and was 14 years old. He was literally the best dog and my first child. I wasn’t going to rush into getting another dog but when I met Bowser I knew it was time. He’s a sweet guy and has helped heal my heart <3