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No excuses!

I’ve made a couple of shirtwaist dresses lately, a nod to that sort of late-1950s/early-1960s style that seems to be floating around courtesy of Mad Men and Pan Am and the like. Also, because I like that sort of style and it suits my figure. Anything with a great deal of structure and a well-defined natural waist is generally a good choice for me.

So, the following is what I’ve done with a bit of my spare time and some cheap cotton calicos:

New Look 6587, dating from 2006 is a pattern I have had around for a few years and just hadn’t gotten around to trying out. I’d read mixed reviews about the fit and ease-of-use, so I went after this one cautiously, with some fabric I only felt lukewarm about.


As you can see, I changed it up a bit. I cut the facing double and reversed it to form a contrasting placket. I added contrast cuffs to the sleeves and used the flared sash that was meant to go with the sleeveless model. I also eliminated the collar, because I liked the simplicity of just the bound neckline. It would make up just as nicely if I actually followed the instructions as given, but I am rather partial to my re-interpretation of this style, and will probably make it up again in some other combination of prints.

It’s an excellent dress for summer, as it is lightly fitted and stands away from the body. There’s nothing like a cheapie cotton dress for summer, as it looks presentable and nice, but is breezy and simple to wear.

I did, however, swear many vile epithets as I stitched all those buttonholes. People, this dress has 12 buttons down the front. That’s a stinking lot of button holes, is what that is.

However, I recently acquired a game changer:


Any clearer?

How ’bout now?

So…this is the famous buttonhole attachment, and boy, does it ever work like magic:

Noisy as heck, yes, but quick, neat, and convenient.

When I was looking it over in the junk shop, I noted this:

The word “slant” seemed to indicate that it would work with the angled needle shaft of my Singer 401A “Slantline.”

And lo, it does. It fits right on perfectly!

And it made making this:
a whole lot easier. I think it took maybe 20 minutes from measuring and marking to finishing the buttonholes for this dress, and there are 10 of them! Now, sewing on the buttons was quite another story. These are wooden buttons with a pronounced ring around the outside and they would not fit under my button foot in any direction. So I sewed all of the buttons on by hand, and I hand-stitched the hem, as I wanted it to be absolutely invisible from the outside, and I do a mean blind hem by hand. Theoretically my sewing machine can be called upon to produce a blind hem, but it is not nearly as discreet as a hand-sewn blind hem.

So, anyway, there’s shirtwaister #2:

Butterick 6796
It was based off a 1970s Butterick pattern. I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the sleeves long, and since I wanted it for a warm-weather dress anyway, I just folded up the sleeve pattern to create a cuffed short sleeve. Otherwise, I followed the pattern instructions as given. I don’t really love the stitched down pleats in the skirt, now that I am done with it. It has a kind of awkward look to it. After all of that effort, it is kind of a bummer to not be that satisfied with my work, but it will do. I still really, really like the fabric and the buttons, and I can live with the skirt. I think this dress will transition well to autumn, and will probably look really cute with my tall, brown boots.



I think I may try this pattern again with the a-line skirt. It will be worlds easier with the simpler skirt pattern, and I think more becoming to my figure. Also more economical. Pleated skirts are awful fabric hogs! I do like the fit and shape of the bodice – even the enormous and very dated Italian collar. If I make it up with the long sleeves, they have a very nice barrel cuff which will look quite smart.

7 Responses to “No excuses!”

  1. Nimble says:

    Love those patterned dresses. Yes to tall brown boots with the second one! I am impressed with your button hole attachment sourcing. And your fiddly pleat executing.

  2. SewDucky says:

    Now you know why I have 3 button hole attachments…you know in case the other 2 break. (In all fairness, my SO bought me one the same day I got one onn ebay, and we found another at a yard sale.)

    Cams will get you, tho. Hard to find little buggers.

  3. Meetzorp says:

    Thank you!

    The pleat thing was way easier than you might think because the pattern was really well marked and went together just as it looked like it should.

    There was, however, a LOT of basting going on.

  4. Meetzorp says:

    Yeah, it is really a cool little gizmo.

    I have the five cams that came with it, ranging in size from 3/8″ to 1″ which should cover pretty much any needs I can think of. Over an inch, and I am going to make a bound buttonhole anyway.

  5. SewDucky says:

    Actually, I have a couple over that if you want them. (By a couple, I actually have 6 of the same cam in 1 1/16 keyhole and straight, I think.) They’re good for coats, so I’ve been told.

  6. Kim says:

    Your Singer is a close cousin to mine! ( her name is Judy Jetson ’cause she just looks so “space age”!
    Pretty dresses!

  7. Meetzorp says:

    Thank you!

    That sewing machine was seriously the best $20 I have ever spent.

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