Sunday, 10 March 2019

Sewing a 1960s A-Line Dress: Butterick 5155

It's been a little quiet on the sewing front, but I finally finished a project that was started a year ago.  I have needed a bit of sewing therapy in between revising for my viva exam, which is fast approaching.  

The pattern is Butterick 5155 from 1969.  The short a-line dress has three necklines and three sleeve variations to choose from. I chose view B's scoop neckline with view A's flared sleeves.  The fabric I chose was a vintage bed sheet with a lovely daffodil print, bought for £2. This dress was meant to be a 'toile', with a view to using nicer fabric if I liked how it turned out.

Envelope for Butterick 5155 misses a-line 1960s dress sewing pattern

The construction
It involved 3 main pieces for the dress, plus sleeves and neck facings.  There are two darts at the front, one a normal bust dart, and a big curved one coming from the side seam.

Some elements of the sewing were quite satisfying.  I was really pleased with my neckline. Facings can be a faff, but this was only my second attempt and I had improved so much. I achieved a sharp edge. I also inserted a zip without wobbles, resulting in an invisible zip which is indeed invisible, which is progress for me. I also enjoyed putting in the curved darts from the sides. 

There certainly were some tricky bits.  Inserting a sleeve was devilishly difficult. It was my first attempt at this, and I hated it!  You can tell; my gathers are awful. I also messed up the top of the zip, and I lost the will with finishing my raw edges with zigzag stitch. I really must learn to use the overlocker I bought last year.

The finished item
The main issue for me is that the neckline turned out far wider than I anticipated, it's practically off the shoulder.  That's not right!  The fit is also fairly loose through the body on me. It appears much more fitted on the illustration, making me wonder if the pattern runs big.  My body measurements are very close to those detailed on the pattern envelope, and I was very careful to be as exact as possible when cutting out and sewing with the correct seam allowance.  Perhaps as my cotton fabric is quite thin, the dress would have turned out better in a thicker fabric.  Maybe a bit of Crimplene or brocade would have actually resulted in a better fit.





Would I make it again?
I think not. There are better patterns for me out there. I won't wear this one - the fabric is destined for recycling into something else.  Ah well, you sew and learn!

I will be uploading my feedback to the Vintage Sewing Patterns Wikia, a great resource for vintage sewing enthusiasts.  I really would have liked to have seen pictures of other people's attempts at this pattern before embarking myself.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Country Lady

It was Saint David's Day here in Wales on Friday, so to acknowledge our country's patron saint we had an outing to St Fagans National History Museum.  It's one of my favourite museums, with such a large site that you can have a very different experience each time you return.  The site centres around a 16th century 'castle' and gardens, and the grounds are filled with historic buildings that have been relocated from around Wales.  The museum had opened a new gallery space since our last visit, so we spent most of our time in the 'Life is...' section.  It focuses on ordinary objects, from clothing and mining lamps to farm tools.  I, of course, became absorbed in the clothing - everything from antique mourning clothes to 20th century wedding gowns, and clothing brands historically made in Wales, such as Burberry and Laura Ashley.

I chose a classic British country lady look for the day, wearing my vintage riding jacket with a new-to-me wool skirt purchased from Ebay recently.  I was initially trying to copy a look I saw in Harper's Bazaar, but inevitably the look went off on a tangent.  It was a practical, comfy outfit, and with a chill in the air I was kept cosy too.  A tweed jacket and skirt is pretty classic, not era specific and I thought, a 'safe', non-outlandish outfit.  The hat is a charity shop buy that I've worn quite a bit over the winter.  It is by British milliner Peter Bettley, who started work in the 1950s.  I think the brand is still going, but is now run by his daughter.  The addition of the hat seemed to attract attention though, coupled with the presence also of my hat-wearing husband.

Not long ago I wrote about What happens when you wear a hat, in which I said "nothing happens".  I hadn't counted on the curiosity of tourists in a large outdoor attraction at half-term on a national day of celebration.  People did stare, children did point.  At least we had good hats on I suppose.  I hope that we added to the entertainment on people's day out.


Sunday, 24 February 2019

Afternoon Tea at Dyffryn Gardens

This year I celebrated Valentine's Day with afternoon tea with my mum, and sister Louise at a beautiful country house run by the National Trust.  I previously shared some photographs from Dyffryn back in January 2017, on a particularly murky and misty day.  There couldn't have been more contrast!  Our visit was in glorious sunshine, with a riot of Spring flowers.

Dyffryn Gardens surround a beautiful late Victorian (1892) mansion.  Throughout the year, visitors are able to wander around the grounds, and also tour part of the house.  There are ongoing renovations to the building itself, as the house was acquired after a failed attempt to turn it into a luxury hotel (in which many original features were destroyed, leaving the house an empty shell).

There is a magnificent large glass house in the gardens, that was filled with pots and pots of cheery Spring flowers, from crocus to cyclamen.  Outside, crocus carpeted the slopes of the garden.  If you've seen the new Mary Poppins film, it was like the end scene where everyone is singing and frollocking in the flowers.

For a limited number of special events throughout the year such as Valentine's Day, you can book an afternoon tea in the morning room of the house.  As a setting for afternoon tea, it couldn't be a more perfect setting.  It was served in the 'morning room', the centre room in the ground floor overlooking the gardens.  A sunny room with a gorgeous bird print wallpaper, and the tables laid out with vintage tablecloths and china.  It was an exceptional setting.  Our table was set back a little from the blinding sun in the window, so I think I had the best seat in the house.


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