Sunday, 26 July 2015

Butterick 5951. Do I finish or abandon? And shingles disrupts both sewing and celebrations.

With my classes finished, I decided to get on with a dress I was making - Butterick 5951. This is a retro styled dress. I'm not keen on the gathered sleeve version as shown in the photo below, view B, but really like the long sleeved version, view C, for cooler days. However,  I decided to make the sleeveless version, view A,  in the first place. I thought this would be great for summer.

The bodice is lined, using the same pieces as the bodice. Bust shaping is created by gathering at the shoulder and a shaped waist dart with the fabric at the side gathered into a virtually separate front piece - the front dart is cut open.
Shape of front bodice
In fact, when I started this dress I intended to enter it into Pattern Review's plus size contest (the deadlines can be helpful for me,  though not in this case). I had never,  to be honest,  thought of myself as really plus sized before, even though I have to make some of the larger sizes in patterns. At 5'11" and a UK RTW size 16, most people don't think I look plus sized other than in height. Clearly, though, I am, certainly according to PR's criteria - and this has needed a shift in perception. My self view has changed. I've found that I'm unclear about suitable styles, though previously I really wasn't as my problem was that I couldn't  buy well fitting clothes, not deciding on style. Anyway, I was so busy with course work and family things that when I ran into early problems,  I didn't have time to address them. The dress was abandoned.
Showing the fabric

I had decided to use a lovely Liberty cotton that I bought for one of my daughters - who didn't like it. First, I made a toile, as I usually do.  
Toile with neckline changes marked
In the actual garment,  the bodice and lining get sewn together before the side seams are sewn. In the toile, I basted the side seams to test for fit. I found that the bust shaping was too high and the front bodice was too short. The neck was too high and the sides too loose. All these changes were made to the fabric.
I increased the length between shoulder and bust on front bodice and increased by the same amount on the back. I have a sloping back to front waist and don't need additional length in the back but do need a lot extra in the front. I tried to work out how to increase the front without increasing the back when there was the shaped dart at the front. Obviously,  front and back need to be the same length at the side seam. I asked some questions and got some answers but was still not clear how to proceed. However my pattern cutting tutor was able to point me in the right direction.
Tutor's drawing that helped me on my way
This dress, though, wasn't part of my pattern fitting classes and I made many mistakes on my own!
My block
I could now see the way forward. I used my bodice block to draw out and test the technique and was happy with it. I then moved back to the pattern and increased the length of the centre of the front bodice by more than the sides.

Here I made a big mistake!   Still trying to finish the dress in a short period,  I cut out the bodice and skirt pattern in the Liberty cotton, but not the lining fabric (fine cotton) I had chosen for the bodice, as it was still not ready after prewashing. I made up the bodice and skirt.

You guessed,  of course,  that the bodice didn't fit! My adjustments had been overdone. My pattern cutting tutor felt that I could salvage the fabric but felt I had to shorten considerably - by more than I had adjusted in the first place, though the bust shaping placement was better. She pinned the length adjustment necessary.

At this stage I abandoned the dress until I picked it up again earlier this week. I had to think whether I wanted to finish or move on with some potentially more useful work. I decided to give the dress a chance - a time limited chance.

I asked DH to fit the bodice on me as I felt the pinned length was too short. I decided to try out a length longer than that pinned by my tutor mainly because I would have been removing nearly all of the dart and gathered shaping if I had gone that route.
The pin marks where the tutor pinned it but I have cut to point showing

I have since cut off 7.5cms at the front and 10cms at the back. I have re-gathered the dart. The neckline was quite a bit too high and I adjusted that and the side seams needed taking in.

I haven't dared try it again as yet!

What next? (Yes,  I know I'll have to bite the bullet and try it on!) Do I go ahead with this - and make up the lining?  Is there a way I can get it to look reasonable and feel okay without a lining  - perhaps by using bias binding,  though I'm not sure that topstitching would look good. Hand stitching?  Not my favourite. I don't think I need a lining from the see through point of view.

DH doesn't think this is a suitable style for me, as I have less space between bust and waist.  Me?  I'm not sure. I agree with what he's saying about length but does this exclude this style? What do you think?  I'd really welcome feedback.

I'm paralysed by indecision.

My mother was staying with us for a few days, from Wednesday,  to rest and recuperate after a nasty bout of shingles affecting her chest wall. She hadn't been out and about for a while because of feeling really ill and the possibility of transmitting chicken pox to vulnerable people but that risk was now over. She's pretty frail, in a lot of pain and had been losing a lot of weight - at least partly due to being disinclined to choose what to eat, to cook. We let her rest and looked after her; she enjoyed eating meals which she hadn't had to choose or prepare and ate well. Yesterday, we took her home. It was our wedding anniversary but we decided to postpone it by 24 hours  - what's 24 hours after 38 years?

When my husband showed me a lump in his hairline on Wednesday, present for a couple of days he thought, I assumed the red and inflamed area was possibly a midge bite as he had been working in the garden. It wasn't bothering him. Then,  yesterday, on our way back from Scotland,  I noticed a couple of additional red and inflamed areas on his eyelid. He hadn't noticed them while shaving that morning. The red areas on his hairline were a little more extensive. We considered the possibility of shingles but the story and timeline didn't seem to match that and it seemed too much of a coincidence. DH had shingles on his chest wall 40 odd years ago and wasn't bothered by it then. Anyway, today we went to the NHS walk-in centre and they did feel this was (probably) shingles so DH is now taking acyclovir; they didn't feel the eye itself was affected. I had shingles affecting the left side of my face a few years ago;  fortunately, though I had lesions in my eye, these were treated and my sight wasn't affected. I still have itch and paraesthesia over my forehead, eye, nose and upper lip. Strangely, this has flared up a bit at the moment. It does that periodically though 'it shouldn't happen'.

Although my mother clearly didn't transmit this to DH,  I won't tell her in case she blames herself,  anyway.

We're still having a special meal tonight. M&S only does their dine in for two every second week, not this weekend. I went,  anyway.  It's amazing how good the value is for the dine in for two - I spent the £10 easily, without the wine. We're having a bottle of German 'champagne' - cremant d'Alsace - that we bought direct from the winery when we went on a German river cruise. We've been saving this bottle for a special occasion. Just so long as DH still feels okay.

So no sewing tonight but I'd love to hear your views and I can decide what to do tomorrow.


  1. oh, shingles are awful. I feel for you and you family. Is the shingles vaccine available in your area? I actually had a blood test to see if I needed the vaccine. It is late here and I'll come back to read about the dress. I JUST set that pattern in the donate pile.

    1. Thank you.
      The shingles vaccination is available here (England) for older people, over 70.perhaps not sure; my mother says she was never offered it so not sure if it's available in Scotland. Although we have a National Health Service, there are significant variations.
      I'm looking forward to hearing your comments about the dress, though if the pattern is in the donate pile, I guess you don't care for it, but then, like me, you bought it. I have worked more on it and will post later in the week.

  2. Summer? Where is it? Over here it is depressing to say the for the dress.....I adore the fabric...who wouldn't.....but cannot imagine you in this style of dress at least not with those puffy sleeves, simply not you but then you are going for the longer imagination could be wrong and you may well prove that when you show us what the dress looks like on sounds a complete nightmare but don't abandon it until you are totally sure you hate it...think of the cost of the fabric....but then you may be able to use it for something else....could the skirt part be reclaimed for a skirt....I know it's not the same but with a co-ordinating top etc?
    So sorry to hear of Mother's've sent her home well fed and ready to recover. Do trust your DH's condition improves too and......
    Congratulations on your 38th Anniversary...we are way beyond that.....52 this year....time flies! May you have many more anniversaries and may happy times together.

    1. Thank you, Joyce. You're absolutely right those sleeves would be awful on me. I'm making the sleeveless version! I haven't abandoned it - in fact, it's nearly finished. I'll post maybe this weekend. Mum and hubby improving, thanks. 52 years, wow! I appreciate your comments.

  3. I read this post when it first came out and your paralysis of mind affected me (and probably others too). It just seemed too complicated. Your next post shows you have "saved" it but I am not sure I like it much. I will try to say why in the next post. However I did want to say that you have shown absolute grit in following it through and trying and learning. And fitting is so hard, with or without a DH (and yours seems to be pretty clued up - mine can't even pin a hem reliably). So give yourself a big pat on the back for perseverance.


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