A review of Bettine Dress
SKILL LEVEL: This is a great pattern for a beginner. Please do not think that as a beginner you should not tackle the pocket version. They are easy-peasy and add so much to the comfort and wearability of the dress. Go the pocket!
FABRIC: I made mine in a fun spot double gauze from Miss Matatabi. I adore this fabric, it is so soft, like pyjamas. It is a great fabric choice for what I think of as a casual ‘house dress’. My only caution with using double gauze is that it FRAYS. Cut out with pinking shears and you should be right.
GREAT INSTRUCTIONS: the instructions are beautifully clear. The dress comes together as planned. Some people have an aversion to facings and have replaced the faced neckline with bias binding. I absolutely love the faced neckline. On the toile and the dress the neckline worked perfectly each time, nicely rounded, perfect length and sitting absolutely flat. The pockets are equally well drafted and easy to sew, as mentioned. The dress is made in two parts and then joined together with the elasticised waist. Clever.
READ ON IF YOU ARE NOT A PEAR: I am an inverted triangle shape, broad shoulders, big bust, no waist, slim hips, slim legs, which is the opposite for the narrow shouldered, waisty, hippy pear this pattern is designed for. I made a toile out of an old sheet which was essential for the fit. I made it up for my actual bust size but as I’m petite this meant the short sleeves were massive and stuck out at odd angles, making my broad shoulders look broader. I should have made a smaller size and done an FBA, but instead I just ran the toile in until it looked right. I took a lot off the shoulder/sleeve seam to make it more streamlined, took off the silly tabs and lengthened the sleeve to the biggest size length (18) so I have a tapered sleeve that ends just above the elbow. I am not the world’s greatest topstitcher so I omitted the oversewing around the neckline and hand-tacked it down instead. Much nicer and wish I ‘d done the same on the sleeve hem. Due to the bust, no doubt, I didn’t get enough blouson at the front over the elastic waist and too much fabric pooling in the small of the back, so I shortened by a cm at the back and lengthened by a cm at the front. Tilly recommends just gathering it in a bit to match the side seams if you do this, and that worked fine. The skirt is a quite exaggerated tulip shape, as many have noted. As I have a straight-up-and-down figure rather than an hourglass I had to draft a lot of this shape out at the top of the skirt. No matter, when you put the elastic in it still gives you a waist. I also had to slim the skirt down massively – a couple of sizes. This is the kind of shape that looks odd if its not fitted to your body. Note that as the skirt is made in two pieces, you can’t put a vent or pleat in the back to give you more room, and the skirt does come in quite a lot. Mine is a bit tight to get over my head, but comfortable once on.
Final verdict after all this tweaking? I am proud of all my fitting. I learnt a lot sewing it and I love wearing my comfortable dress. I do get compliments on it. Maybe I overfitted the skirt a wee bit in the end (it could have more room in the thigh when I sit down). My only gripe in wearing it is that the top tends not to want to sit on my shoulder line and pulls down, so I loose the blouson at the front. I find myself adjusting it. Perhaps if I’d done a proper FBA this wouldn’t happen?