Sometimes the smallest thing can be the deciding factor in the trajectory of a sewing project. In the case of this dress – my last dress of summer sewing – the buttons told me how to proceed. There was some serendipity involved as well, which is often the case with my sewing, it seems.
I purchased the very light and airy white and blue fabric from Britex Fabrics two or three years ago. When it arrived, I tucked it away to think about it. Somewhere along the line, I purchased the buttons you see here, but not for this fabric. (I rarely let deep pink vintage buttons get away from me if I can help it.) Somehow the two – the buttons and the fabric – found each other and became best friends. That was all well and good, except for the fact those six little buttons needed some help to bring out the fuchsia and orange dots sprinkled amongst the blue flowers on the white background. Enter deep pink Petersham ribbon left over from holiday dresses I made for my granddaughters last Fall. Somehow, although this ribbon was not a match to either the fuchsia or the orange, it worked! I had my palette….
I had decided to use this pattern again, but a longer version, with different sleeves.
However – and doesn’t it seem there is always an “however” to muddle the plans – I only had six of those petite little buttons. And theoretically I needed at least eight. So – I had to get creative.
I decided I could eliminate two buttons on the bodice if I reconfigured the front opening and collar. Here is what I did:
- I angled the front opening: starting at about 6 inches down from the neckline seam, I drew a line from the fold line to the center front line, ending at the neckline.
- This allowed me to shorten the collar stand (so it was flush with the front edge of the collar), thus eliminating the need for a button on it.
- I redrew the collar so that it would be most attractive either standing up or lying flat.
- The original pattern had a self-facing for the bodice (as you can see below), so I had to make a separate, applied facing to accommodate the angle.
- The angled opening also allowed for the first button to be 6 inches down – meaning I could get away with two buttons on the bodice – if I used snaps at the waist (which isn’t a bad idea anyway.)
Here is what the reconfigured collar and collar stand look like up close:
Two buttons on the bodice allowed me 4 buttons for the skirt, which was adequate. I actually added a small snap 3+ inches below the lowermost button to hold the skirt together indiscreetly.
Moving on with more changes: the flowing nature of the fabric dictated a change in the tailored sleeves of the pattern. I knew I wanted below elbow length with a little bit of fullness, but not too much. A narrow sleeve band seemed appropriate. And then there was the decision where to apply the narrow Petersham ribbon on the sleeve bands. Next to the seamline with the gathered line of the body of the sleeve looked best to my eye, so that’s what I did.
I was fortunate enough to have enough of the narrow Petersham ribbon to put two rows of it at the lower part of the skirt. These two rows of trim are absolutely essential for this dress to look balanced.
I should mention I underlined the entire dress, with the exception of the sleeves, with very lightweight cotton batiste. I finished all the seams with Hug Snug seam binding.
I like the bodice “angled” neckline and the reconfigured collar so much, I will probably use these alterations again sometime, even if I am not compromised by too few buttons!
Without those little rosy-pink buttons – and without leftover trim from my granddaughters’ dresses – the white and blue flowered fabric would probably still be sitting in my fabric cupboard. Instead, I was able to finish my summer sewing not only with more pink, but with a dress I really like!