Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Butterfly ball Cashmerette Upton dress


Alternative title: the 40-darts project. More on that later, let's start at the beginning!
I've been wanting to recreate my all time favourite sundress for ages. Here it is, 25 years ago during a holiday in Germany.


Back then I used a Knipmode pattern. Sleeveless, scooped neckline, fit-and-flare. The fabric was black rayon with a lovely butterfly print.


Two years ago I found this Robert Kaufman cotton. Colourful butterflies with subtle golden details, even the selvedge was pretty.
I kept an eye out for a suitable pattern. The bodice had to be fitted, but I wanted to avoid princess seams for fear of beheading too many butterflies. When the Cashmerette Upton dress was launched it ticked all the boxes. And more, due to the different cup sizes!

Finding the right size was a bit of a challenge. The size charts indicated 1/4 inch of wearing ease at the bust. I don't know about you, but that didn't sound very comfortable to me. Instructions tell you if your full bust could fit into two sizes, choose the size closest to your waist. Nowadays there is no correlation between my waist size and the size of any other body parts but you have to start somewhere, right?




I started with a 20 E/F muslin and it looked horrible. Gaping neckline, wobbly armscyes, pulling at the bust and riding up at the front. All indicating that I should go down a size and up a cup size.

The second muslin (18 G/H) left me puzzled. The neckline was fine, the armscyes couldn't be better, the side seams were hanging straight, yet the overall look was off. What happened?
With my brain already switched to holiday mode it took me a few days away from the muslin to figure it out. I've known for a while now that generic FBA's don't work for me. More often than not it means adding fabric where I don't need it and vice versa, thus adding to the problem instead of solving it. Now what are the odds the built-in FBA of Cashmerette patterns would do the trick for me? Exactly!

I went back to the flat pattern and made some changes using the quadrant method from Joi Mahon's book Create the perfect fit. I shortened the bust darts so that they would end 2 inches away from the apex. I moved the underbust darts 1 inch outwards and shortened them as well. Muslin #3 looked good, except for the shape of the underbust darts. I changed them to a triangular shape and was ready to cut my fabric. The Upton bodice has 8 darts, so by this time I had already sewn 24 darts. Plus 8 for the final garment and 8 for the lining and you see why this was a 40 darts-project!

Next hurdle: I only had 3 meters of 110 cm wide fabric and I needed 4.10 m.  By comparing the cutting diagrams for various fabric widths I noticed folding out some of the pleat depth would enable me to cut the front skirt on fold and back skirt pieces next to each other. Suddenly I had enough fabric.




Still wide enough!

I lined the bodice with black cotton batiste. The skirt is unlined as per the pattern instructions and I finished the hemline with hand stitched satin bias tape.




Too pretty to keep to myself!

When the last stitch was done I put on the dress and...surprise! It was way too big at the waist. Apparently  making a muslin for the bodice and a quick quarter skirt to check length and pleat depth wasn't enough. The weight of the skirt changed the fit. Back to the sewing room as of course a well fitted waist is crucial to the success of the fit-and-flare style.



I'm pretty happy about the fit now. The only thing I will change next time is to remove another wedge from the upper back. It's my experience that Cashmerette patterns are wide at the upper back and short in the bodice. I already made adjustments but as you can see there's still extra fabric round the top of the zipper and the back neckline is not completely flat.



For the sake of a fair pattern review and for future reference I will distinguish different types of changes I've made.

Changes I always make:
-lowered the bust dart by 3/8 "
-3/8 " low neck base adjustment

Changes by personal preference:
-omitted the pockets (don't like pockets in a dress)
-added 4 inches to the length of the skirt (I like the proportions of the dress better this way)

Changes I always make for Cashmerette patterns:
-add one inch to the front and back bodice at lengthen/shorten line
-take a wedge out of the upper back

Changes I expect to make for all woven Cashmerette patterns:
-shorten the bust darts
-check the placement of other darts

Changes I made for construction:
-reinforced center back with a strip of fusible interfacing before installing the 22" invisible zipper
-instead of trimming 1/16" of the lining front and back bodices around the neckline and armholes I understitched and clipped all curved seams

Quite a list for a simple dress. Was it worth the trouble? Definitely!
When you ignore the changes I always make and the personal preferences all adjustments are quick and easy to make. What's more, drafting appears to be very consistent so you know what to expect.
And think of all adjustments I did NOT have to make!


For me this pattern is worth its weight in gold for the beautifully drafted armscyes alone. No gaping, no bra showing, yet absolutely not restrictive. Makes me look forward to the next Cashmerette release. Woven with sleeves? Yes, please!

This pattern will be put away till next spring, together with a piece of pink Liberty Carline. For now I'm going to wear this dress to the max as we have some glorious summer weather. At last!


34 comments:

  1. great use of that beautiful fabric, the perfect summer dress. looks lovely on you and the shoes are great too!

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    1. Thanks, Beth! May change the footwear for gardening jobs ;)

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  2. Beautiful fabric and dress and how fun to recreate the original dress.

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    1. It was a fun project! The only thing missing was the original pattern, I was lucky to find such a good replacement.

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  3. It looks wonderful!
    So glad you persevered with all the adjustments!

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    1. So am I, Nessa! First SS17 sewing already planned and this morning I started thinking about an autumn Upton. May work well with a pretty cardigan!

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  4. Lovely Marianne! Thank you for your review! I think a woven top with sleeves is coming up from Cashmerette!

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    1. Yes, I saw the IG sneak peek :) Totally what I was hoping for!

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  5. Lovely! Totally worth the alterations!!

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    1. When I started this dress back in July it was cold and rainy, now it's 27 C. Sew for the weather you want instead for the weather you have....apparently it works!

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  7. A lot of work but well worth it. I've been reluctant to consider Cashmerette patterns; yours looks great but a lot of work and you still had to do a FBA as the inbuilt one wasn't the right shape. I'm still on the fence.

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    1. Like with any other pattern company there were some fitting adjustments, but nothing major. I did not have to do a FBA, I only changed dart length and placement. No slashing, no taping, and this type of adjustment may be very personal as generic FBA's seem to work for many curvy women. I'm the odd one out, just a matter of a slightly different bust curve. I can really recommend Cashmerette patterns as my list of changes to Knipmode or Big 4 patterns is much, much longer!

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  8. Fabulous dress! You've achieved a great fit with woven fabric and it looks wonderful on you. Absolutely perfect for the weather we're having at the moment. Susan.

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  9. I love it, Marianne! Such a great pattern for you, especially with the necessary changes to the skirt width - sometimes it's good not to have enough fabric, isn't it? And that fabric is gorgeous! By the way, there is a fascinating article in that same Threads (the one with the article on lining jackets by hand) on making bust adjustments by draping a muslin on a dress form. (It was my bedtime reading the other night!) Lots of darts in that method, too!
    I hope you get lots of wearing time with this dress before the weather turns...

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    1. Thank you, Karen! I agree about the skirt width, the fabric shortage was a blessing in disguise. Thanks again for pointing out the wonderful articles in Threads. I loved reading about draped darts!

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  10. What a gorgeous dress! I love the pretty fabric. And all of those adjustments have certainly paid off as the dress fits you beautifully!

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    1. Thank you Tomasa! We had a beautiful September filled with sunny days, the dress got a lot of wear!

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  11. It's lovely, but the next pattern I want is a decent fitting blouse!

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    1. That's what I was hinting at:) Did you try the Harrison shirt? I will, soon!

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  12. With all the emotional memories attached to this dress, you had to make it work. And you did. I think that the fullness is just right - I'm not sure that extra fullness would have looked nearly as nice. Sometimes enough is enough. I agree with you about FBA's- you are smaller below your bust, so you do not need the extra there, which the conventional FBA would add. What a pest having to go in and alter, but, that's sewing for you.

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    1. Back in the days when I made the original dress fitting was so much easier! Glad it worked out in the end.

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  13. Super dress, the fabric is lovely and it fits well, I don't think I've ever made a pattern straight from the packet, you've done a great job adapting this one.

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    1. That would be so boring, right? Just kidding :) I never expect anything to fit me straight from the packet. I used to sew a lot from Knipmode and Burda magazines and new exactly what adjustments had to be made. Now that I'm trying more pattern companies the amount of notes on my desk is increasing rapidly!

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  14. This is beautiful. And how wonderful to recreate a favourite frock from the past!

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    1. Thanks, it was fun to do! Nothing sentimental about that dress, it just felt very...me, I guess.

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  15. SUPER cute! Great job! You look lovely in your new dress, and how wonderful to have a reincarnation of a long-gone favorite!

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    1. Thanks, Stephani! I loved it then and I love it now!

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  16. All your fitting adjustments have been worth it. You now have a well fitting pattern that I'm sure you will use again. Beautiful dress and you look fantastic wearing it.

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    1. Thank you! I will use this pattern again, that's for sure!

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  17. This is such a pretty dress and you look wonderful in it. I love the reference to 25 years ago. So cool!

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    1. Thank you Diana! I've been wearing it as much as I could, this dress is already a new favourite!

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