Monday 11 November 2019

Butterick 6621 (twist version)

When I first made Butterick 6621 a couple of months ago, I'd already decided that I wanted to experiment with making the twist version. It's something I've always wanted to try, but on the assumption that it would either be very good or very bad for a large of stomach person like me, had never been willing to take the risk of a twist-specific pattern. Now that I already owned it, it was a different story.

It worked! It's really cute!

As I mentioned last week, this is the exact same fabric as my jumpsuit. I'd not originally thought of making my trial version this fancy, but realised that I don't actually have a standard-issue black evening dress (I have my Trina, which I love, but it's quite a specific look and not necessarily as versatile as a black evening dress ought to be) and if it worked there was a niche in my wardrobe it could fill.

Construction was actually fairly simple, once I got past the roadblock of my own making, where I accidentally put the instructions in with a different pattern and could only find the diagramless French instructions. I tried to go with it, realised that my French is terrible (I got an A* in GCSE French, but I'm also absolutely certain I've never known more than fourteen words of it), and put the whole thing on pause until I could find the English sheet.

The dress is made up of two front pieces, and one wraps over and round the other to create the twist. You're then left with a couple of darts to sew up, and the front is complete. It's not a difficult thing to do at all, but I wouldn't have got there from the pattern pieces and sparse French instructions. The whole thing was maybe a couple of hours' work

In terms of adjustments, I cut on a cheat FBA, ignored the neck binding piece to do my own thing, and shortened the sleeves by about an inch. I don't think I've ever had a short sleeve be the right length out of the packet; they're all a bit too long and cut my arm at a weird place. I didn't want to shorten the skirt too much as it messes with the proportion of the twist. 

This version is obviously a snugger fit than my sweater knit version, and for this view I think it's better that way. I think if it were a looser dress it would just feel like unpleasant bulk sitting on top of my stomach, but when it's tight like this the twist just eliminates the stomach cling I hate so much. I'm aware that's why they do this sort of thing for maternity dresses, but I am not wearing a maternity dress and let's not go there, please.

I'm also surprised by how much I like this neckline. I tend to shy away from V necks because they look horrific on me if the proportions are even slightly wrong (especially if it's not a very deep V), but this is really nice and balanced.

The one thing that does disappoint me a bit is that I was hoping this would be a good dress to go dancing in, and for me it's not. I have a super-wide high hip (almost the exact same measurement as my lower hip) and a few enthusiastic dance moves is enough to push the entire twist directly under my bust and make everything else unflattering and precarious. It's completely fine for a more sedate evening, though, and I'll definitely get plenty of wear out of it in dinner-and-cocktails situations.

Overall I'm super pleased with this dress and would cheerfully make another one. I originally thought that if this version worked I would make another in cotton jersey, but now I'm not so sure about that. For me and my body shape, this works perfectly in a heavier, super-stretchy fabric that allows me to wear the whole thing a little tighter, and I think I'd be looking for a fabric with similar properties were I to make a second one. It's actually entirely possible that I'll make another one in velvet; I'm a bit obsessed at the moment (you may have noticed), and I feel like I'm racing to catch up on all the velvet clothes I didn't make when I thought the fabric was too hard to work with. Not any more! All the shiny strokeable clothes! 

I'm not exactly sure what will be up next. I really want to get the stupid yellow cords done but also I've screwed this up THREE times already, so I'm weighing the pros and cons or either the time and expense it would take to make a test pair of whatever pattern I choose (I think it's going to be the CCP Jenny, just because I've been struck with the awful fascination of trying out a pair of overalls later), or the possibly of ruining my yellow trouser fabric for the fourth time. One way or another I WILL make a decision before the end of the month, goddammit. 

Monday 4 November 2019

autumn sewing: why not have a black velvet jumpsuit

I think when I put a second version of the Deer & Doe Sirocco jumpsuit on my autumn plans, I was imagining a garment I might be able to wear on a day to day basis. I've seen several people on Instagram just wearing theirs to the shops and so forth and looking great doing it, but when looking for the right kind of fabric to copy the vibe I always come up short. The bright colours I'm normally drawn to would probably lift this pattern slightly too far out of the casual zone, and the muted burgundy/navy/olive tones I've liked on others just don't suit me. If there's no richness to a colour I just end up looking sallow and depressed.

I'm going to mull on that for a while and hopefully find a solution, but in the meantime I did this:

Black velvet jumpsuit!

This is not a replacement for the high quality black jersey jumpsuit I keep talking about; I will make that when I come across black jersey I'm really happy with. This one is fun and fancy and warm for going out in the autumn and I'm really pleased with it.

The fabric is from my favourite guy in Walthamstow (I think you can just assume this now unless I specify otherwise) and it's very narrow stripes of velvet on a sheer background. You can only tell there are sheer bits if you put your hand under it. I whacked the lightness up on these photos so you could see some of the pattern details, but couldn't get it light enough to show fabric texture. It's super stretchy and incredibly comfortable. I actually bought an extra metre and a half of this fabric to make an extra dress, which you will see next week.

You may recall that last time I made this, I had a bit of trouble working out what size to cut and how to fit it. After two versions I still wasn't sure. The black one is the only one I've worn and it sits much better on me now than when I first made it, so I went back to my original size picks. The only changes I made were to cut the front bodice pieces a centimetre higher, overlap them further across each other than specified, and lengthen and widen the lower legs slightly (they're still pretty narrow but not quite as close fitting around the ankle). I made sure to get fabric with the right amount of stretch this time, and it makes SO much difference. No popping stitches, no awkwardness, it just does what it's supposed to do.

The one thing I should have considered and didn't is that velvet pockets are stupid and pull themselves inside out whenever you try to use them. I should have made the pocket facing from a normal cotton jersey.

From the point of cutting this out to trying it on for the first time, I was at least 80% convinced it wasn't going to work. It was going to be too clingy, I needed to do more alterations to the bodice, what did I really think I was going to do with a velvet jumpsuit anyway. But I was wrong; the bodice is now a perfect fit, I'm not at all uncomfortable with the negative ease, and while I probably won't be wearing this to the shops I think it'll work really well for date nights, any dance things I decide to go to, and whatever last minute Christmas things might crop up. 

Next up: same fabric, different garment!

Deer and Doe Sirocco jumpsuit

Fabric: Black striped velvet from Walthamstow Market
Cost: £9
Pattern details: Pull-on knit jumpsuit or playsuit with mock wrap neckline, short sleeves, waistband and slash pockets
Size: Various, from 44 in the shoulders to 50 in the hips
Alterations: Bodice altered to wrap over further in front, legs lengthened by 2in and widened slightly
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes