Being a lover of vintage style that works in a more contemporary way I knew the fabulous Lady Faces cotton from Sewalicious would be stunning sewn up into a 1950's style frock. This print shouts out Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust days to me. It was the contrast of 70's disco meeting 1950's girly that appealed to me the most.
I chose to make my frock in Gretschen Hirst's design for Butterick 6556 as this summer I'd already made this pattern up in an original 1950's cotton and absolutely loved wearing it. The wide square neckline balanced with the full skirt pleats was what drew me to this pattern originally and I though it would show off the print really well which it certainly does. I've been a fan of Gertie's patterns for a long time now, to be honest I think I have nearly all of her patterns and definitely all her books. She designs the styles I love to wear and that flatter my shape. I really like the looser fitting designs out there too, but they just look dreadful on me. No more wasting fabric for me making shapes that just don't suit me. I know what works and I'm sticking to it.
When my fabric arrived from Sewalicious I was thrilled with it as it totally matched the image I had in my head of my finished frock. Lady Faces is a cotton with good structure so I knew it would be perfect for holding all the skirt pleats in place and at 152cm wide enough for cutting out that full skirt too. I'm not sure which my favourite face is to be honest, I just love each of these feisty looking women.
Once I'd washed my fabric I could get straight on with the exciting bit of cutting out my pattern as all the hard work of adjusting the bodice pattern and making a toile that fitted had been done already. I'd had to make my usual adjustments of lowering the bust darts by 2", as I have a long upper torso. I do this by drawing a line just under the armscye across the whole bodice and then cutting along that line and adding 2' here. That way my dart is moved down to my bust apex and my bodice is the right length. I also cut out the size for my high bust and graded up to my waist size, sometimes I need a Full Bust Adjustment, but luckily not with this pattern as Gertie is a bit more generous in her patterns. Then it's just a case of alterations for my narrow sloping shoulders and lengthening the skirt as I'm 6ft. I also chose to straighten off the front bodice to a straight square line which I prefer.
When I cut out the front bodice I decided the lady that looked like Ziggy Stardust needed to be on show so I worked around her. After that my brain fried, or at least that's going to be my excuse for forgetting about pattern matching any other pieces! I did cut them out with all the faces pointing upwards though so phew. For lining the bodice I chose a plain black cotton. I'm a real convert to lining bodices these days. It's a bit more faff making another bodice and then hand sewing it in place at the end but there's no flipping up of facings, it's super comfy and just looks the business whenever you step into your frock. This fabric didn't need lining mind you as it's got enough weight to it, but it works best for me and for square necklines it really is the best way to get the neatest finish on those corners.
For a finishing touch I decided this frock was crying out for a belt. Luckily for me, my friend Cat had just gifted me a few vintage buckles and the shiny purple one worked perfectly with the colours of the fabric. I measured up the inside of the buckle for my belts width, then doubled this and added two 5/8" seam allowance to cut the main fabric from. I cut the iron on buckram using the buckles width. Then it's just a case of sewing the length of the fabric right sides together, turning it right side out and then ironing it flat with the seam running down the centre. Next push the buckram into the belt you've just made in your main fabric leaving enough fabric to fold in and sew at each end, then iron the buckram in place. Sew one end around the inside of the buckle and sew the other open end in place. Finally work out where you want your holes to do the belt up which you can handsew with a blanket stitch or on your machine if it has that feature. I decided to try out metal buckle holes for the first time as I always love trying something new out. I was caught out mid whack as I hammered it on our dining room table and realised that wasn't such a bright idea. Hey ho, another mark to add to the paint and felt tip stains.
The fabric feels lovely next to my skin and holds the shape so well. I love how eye catching it is and has worked out perfectly with the original image I had in my head of 1970's meets 1950's. Sewalicious still have this fabulous fabric in stock as well as lots of other stunning prints that would work brilliantly with this pattern.