Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Butterick 4789 -- Polka Dots and Zebra Stripes

I made this dress two or three years ago, pre-blog.  I had not started my own blog, but I had begun to read sewing blogs and I was soaking in quite a bit of information.  Michelle at Cheap and Picky also sews on a Singer 401, and she posted tips on how to sew knits with this machine.  I followed her suggestions and made this dress out of a slinky brown polka dot knit from Joann Fabrics. 

There are lots of things I would do differently now.  I sewed an 18, but now I would sew a 14 in the shoulders and add width to the body.  Also I would use knit stay tape on the neckline, but I didn't know about that yet, so I just turned the edges under twice and sewed them down.  All the same, I am very fond of this dress because it represents the first time of sewing with knits for me, and it was the first piece of clothing I had sewn for myself in many years.

It's not the fanciest of dresses, but I have worn it lots.  It takes up very little room in a suitcase, and it is comfortable during the hot summers we have.  The dress is a twist front design from Maggy London.  The pattern -- Butterick 4789 -- is now out of print, but people are still making it, mainly because it's fairly easy and it's also pretty flattering.

Anyway, after making the dress I decided to try my hand at the shirt, and I bought some pink zebra cotton knit fabric from Hobby Lobby.  However, I made a mistake while sewing the center front seam and ripped a hole in the fabric trying to unpick it.  I eventually went back to Hobby Lobby and bought some more fabric, but the top sat unmade in a pile -- for two years! -- while I worked on other projects.

I finally decided to make the top once and for all just to get it off of my sewing list and out of my sewing room.  This time I cut a 14 and added width to the side seams.  I also lengthened the pattern.  Everything went well with the sewing.  BUT.....even though the zebra fabric was knit, it had almost zero stretch, quite unlike the slinky brown polka dot fabric of the dress.

When I finished the top, I hated it.  I shoved it in the closet until such time as I got around to writing about how not everything I make ends up being wearable.  It stayed there for over a month.  To my surprise, when I finally put the top back on in preparation for blogging honesty, I didn't hate it any more.
I don't love it, but it's fine for a knock-around top to wear over capris, which I'm doing here.  And this is the kind of casual clothes that most of my everyday life requires.
So, my advice is this: when you finish sewing something and you don't like it, wait before you throw it out.  Let it marinate in the magic closet for awhile.  When you get it back out, you may like it better, or you may think of a way to salvage it.

Have you ever put something in the magic closet and have it grow more appealing while it's in there?


  1. You are so right--sometimes it is really helpful to set something aside to gain a clearer perspective on it. Your brown dot dress is beautiful and flattering. The new top is also lovely. So interesting how different knits behave, and so difficult to predict! Love the v-shaped front and back neck.

  2. Your advice is very good - sometimes one can just be too close to a project's construction to see it with enough perspective and a few weeks or months with it tucked out of sight can do wonders for changing how one feels. I like this top on you very much - it's light and bright and looks very comfortable - definitely a good move to keep it! E x

  3. The dress and top look great on you! I agree...our perspective can change over time. Never give up on a project.

  4. Good tip...when it's a frustration, set it aside. This pattern is very flattering to you and brown looks fabulous on you!

  5. I do think this happens all the time. We decide we loathe something (clothing, or something else) and reject it. But we did it because we were having a bad day, or our estrogen was low, or we'd slept badly or hadn't had our tea .. you know. So later, when we're in better spirits, we look at the same object and like it much better. Yep, sounds very familiar. Esp. with clothes.

  6. I love a story with a happy ending! ;)

    Really, I think the top looks fabulous on you. It's a good thing that you left it in the "magic closet"! And I also love the brown polka dot dress. The v-shaped back design is great, as is the twist in the front, as is the fact that it is comfortable and cute.

  7. I like both the dress and the top. Something magical hapened in the back of your closet.

  8. You go sewing machine is rusting! I love, love your inspiring, now for me to get up and do some myself! These are great! Doesn't it always give us better sight when we step back from things at times?

  9. The dress is gorgeous and the top is gorgeous as well! I understand you when you say that sometimes you have to leave a piece (or fabric) marinate in the closet when we see it again, looking beautiful, it's as if we look at it with new eyes. Great advice, dear Angela

  10. Thanks for your nice comments on my blog. I thought I was getting yours on my feed but had not seen the last entry so re-subscribed. Don't want to miss a thing!


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