The Easter Dress of Great Disappointment

This was the plan for the Easter dress:

Retro Butterick 5603. Cute, no?

But, to be perfectly honest, I’m still a little hesitant to try vintage (or what I think is updated vintage) patterns. I know that the only way I’ll learn is by diving in and seeing what happens, but I feel my overwhelming ignorance very strongly these days.

Of course, it didn’t help that the Friday before Easter, I still hadn’t started. Also, that morning, I was helping out a friend with a photo shoot (super fun!) and I didn’t get home until around 2:00 that afternoon.

But, when I got home, there on my doorstep was a lovely little package containing several yards of cotton lawn. And so all my plans changed. I chose to go with Simplicity 2444 instead. I see this pattern used a lot on The Sew Weekly’s “Make This Look” feature. I opted for short sleeves with no tie (though, I kind of wanted the bow, but I didn’t have enough fabric. And the bow might have been overwhelming). I already had lining left over from my Whipstitch dress, so I was good to go.

But, here’s the thing about rushed sewing: it doesn’t usually work out. At least, not for me.

By the end of that Friday, I had made and fitted a muslin of the bodice, and I had constructed, sans sleeves and zipper, the bodice and bodice lining. On Saturday, I literally spent all day sewing. I had some issues with the pleats on the skirt (more on that later), I couldn’t for the life of me get the sleeves to ease in properly, and the hem Would. Not. Work. 

So, my dress did not get finished for Easter. Instead, I wore my Shirt Dress of Terrible Ideas. It seemed fitting.

The next weekend, with lots more time and sanity, I managed to finish the dress. Here’s what I learned:

1. The seam down the front of the skirt is unnecessary and ridiculous. Exception: if you’re using a striped fabric and want a chevron effect. Otherwise, it just doesn’t make sense.

2. The instructions for pleating the skirt in the center front were. . . unintelligible. They made absolutely no sense to me. They wanted me to overlap one pleat over the other so that these dots lined up. Here’s the thing: when you do that, the obvious seam gets pushed to the side so the whole thing looks askew. I plan to go back to the skirt and re-pleat it so that I like the way it looks.

3. If your skirt is flared or A-line or whatever, you cannot have a deep hem. This is what I was trying to do. I was driving myself crazy trying to press it. I’m sure the reasons are obvious. The answer: Trim it. Then hem.

4. Yes, I know I did the lining wrong. Stop yelling at me.

5. Now for the sleeves. Oh, sleeves. How I hate you. The answer here came from an email I get each week from the Coletterie. I had to search my email to find it, but it was worth it. First, you have to take your time. I cannot do sleeves in a rush. Second, it helps to sew three rows of gathering stitches as it creates more even gathers. Third, adjust adjust adjust until you get it just right. Fourth, in hindsight, it probably would have helped, since the fabric was so thin, to use a shorter stitch.

6. Make sure your pattern doesn’t repeat awkwardly. I should have (whoa. . . suddenly “should” looks like the weirdest word in the world) known better. But, like I said, I was rushed.

I would also like to point out that the neckline doesn’t lie down quite as it should–there’s a little bit of a gappage issue. I’ve read up on this pattern and apparently I am not the only person to experience this issue. Normally, in RTW dresses, I would attribute this to the waistline being too high. But, I, of course, made my customary short waist modification, so I’m not sure where the trouble lies. Any thoughts on this issue would be appreciated!

All-in-all, I do like the dress. It has some major wrinkling issues, but it is, after all, 100% cotton. It breathes, it’s pretty.

Bonus: It matches my Neville.

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4 thoughts on “The Easter Dress of Great Disappointment

  1. I too made this dress and wasn’t happy with the flared skirt so I took it apart and made the fitted one instead. I totally agree with the neckline issue and I had a fight with mine before I beat it into submission. Yours looks great and the material is lovely.

    • Thanks!
      How did you fix your neckline? My initial thought is to take in a pinch at the shoulder seam then taper to the original stitching line since the sleeves seem to fit well. And, if do the full skirt again, I’d definitely nix the center seam. I just don’t understand what the designers were thinking there.

      • On reflection my pattern is slightly different than yours, the full skirt didn’t have a center seam but had the pleats. The material I decided on didn’t hang right which is why I decide to change it. I tapered the neckline slightly at the top on the centre centre, I have found this problem before on dress necklines, I was wondering if my shoulders are too small 🙂

        • Ah–I bet I know which pattern you’re talking about. If it’s also Project Runway, I made that one too, and it is very similar. The pleats on the skirt made much more sense–though they do make me look a smidge pregnant. . .

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