Do you have a certain souvenir you collect on your travels? I have friends who collect keychains, flags, shot glasses and spoons but me being the odd one out, I collect fabric. Yes, whenever I travel, I try to find a fabric store to pick up some beautiful fabric to bring home (sit in my stash for several years) so when I finally get around to sewing it, I’m reminded of my adventures abroad. Now I should point out that fabric is heavy to transport but it’s great to use as cushioning to protect the other lovely things you buy along your travels as well. Over the years, I have beautiful fabrics from Malaysia, Singapore, America, The Netherlands and Poland. Today, I will finally be using my Polish fabric as it’s just too beautiful not to.
If you don’t already know, I am of Polish descent and still have family that live there that I visit whenever I can. On my last trip which was quite some years ago, I was in Katowice and my aunty (the best and worse enabler when it comes to fabrics) took me to a small fabric store close to the main square. Despite the huge amount of stunning fabrics on hand, I found and fell in love with the traditional Polish folk designs and bought up a few meters. They were low on cottons so I bought a few crepe’s and a stunning, heavily embellished floral fabric in white cotton. That is the fabric we will be using today and I have just about 4 meters of it. I did have another fabric planned originally but whilst placing my pattern pieces down I realised I didn’t have enough so I had to change my mind and I’m so glad I did because this dress really turned into exactly what I wanted.
Although I didn’t find the exact white version of my fabric online, I did find a similar version on this website. On Etsy however, I found a seller who used to stock the white so they may restock it later. You can find them here (they are also from Poland so maybe they can find white cotton for you if you really love it).
Today’s pattern is Butterick 6556 by Gertie (or Simplicity s9294) which is a really simple and stunning vintage inspired dress. She is a close fitted bodice with a v cut square neckline, she has sleeve variations and is lined. The pattern has a box pleated skirt with pockets and a back zipper. Originally with the other fabric I had in mind, I was going to add the sleeves but when I saw the fabric I actually used, I decided to omit the sleeves so I could wear this dress with a dirndl or peasant top underneath for that cottage core vibe look I love so much. This whole dress was going to be very ‘Polish country girl frolics through a meadow’ and I’m really happy with how my fabric and pattern came together to achieve this. For sizing, I opted for my normal size 12 in Butterick and it worked out just fine.
Sew, let’s get started! Cutting out my fabric was pretty straight forward. As this fabric was very wide, I managed to really fit my pattern pieces in well and still had plenty left over that I might turn into a blouse later. The pattern is lined but I ran out of lining and believe it or not, both of the Spotlight stores closest to me had run out of lining so I decided just to use my main fabric as lining as well. My fabric was a thick cotton and I kind of wish I had ordered lining online but I was just so keen to get started on this pattern. A proper lining fabric would have made the dress a little less bulky in the bodice but it’s not noticable when worn. To cut the skirt, I had to fold my fabric on itself so the pattern pieces would fit so I would definitely recommend a wide fabric or a fabric with a nondirectional pattern if you are to make this. I was really excited to make my first ever box pleated dress so this dress was going to be a good challenge for me. I was so happy to see that this patten had big pockets and as a fellow Eastern European girl, snacks need to be within reach at all times.
The main downside I found with this fabric was I found it difficult to see my water soluble marker markings on the pattern. As the florals were quite dark, my ink would basically vanish which is why I think some of my darts came out a bit skewered as I just couldn’t see where I was meant to end up. I would recommend using tailors chalk and I’ve really been meaning to buy myself some.
Sewing up the pattern was very straight forward. The bodice came together really quickly and even though I was worried my cut out v point wouldn’t be as sharp as I wanted, it came out great ad I was super happy with myself. If you’re nervous about swing a sharp v point, I’d recommend marking out a sewing guide line that you can follow to make sure your v is sharp and centred. There’s nothing wrong with marking out a guide and I sometimes do it for such important design points. I’d love to make this dress again but add the sleeves in as it really is a lovely bodice so I will have to revisit it soon.
When it came to the box pleated skirt, I made myself comfortable on the floor with my marker, the skirt pattern pieces, my pins and iron. I marked the lines which became the sides of the box pleats and then drew an arround point to which direction the fabric needed to be folded over. The iron was used to cement this point and the pins were helpful to hold it down. I really took my time to make sure no fabric had accidentally folded over and that the pockets didn’t get out in the wrong direction. I’d definitely reocmmend marking arrows to guide your pleats as it was an easier way to work my way into the middle of the skirt rather than pleat from one side to the other. I found two pins per pleat line was enough to keep everything in place and ironing along the way and at the end really helped me see how the pattern came together.
I basted my pleats together, attached my skirt to my bodice and then added an extra row of stitches and overlocked the edges just to make sure the pleats will not move. The only goof I made was for some reason, I thought the pocket pieces were attached in the wrong sot so I altered where the opening was not realising that they were of course in the correct spot when the whole skirt was put together. I will go back and hand stitch the top of the pocket closed a bit more as this was a silly error on my part. No idea why I thought I knew better but with the zip being attached and the skirt hemmed, I was done.
I am so happy with how this dress came together. For my own silly cottage core fantasy she was a great stepping stone into that aesthetic and in future, I will lower the neck line by about an inch or so, so when I wear a top underneath, it pops out a little more (if you’d like me to try a version like this, please let me know). I’m really glad I omitted the sleeves for this design as seeing the peasant top’s sleeves come out really adds to the look I wanted. The bodice fit was wonderful and I don’t think I need to adjust it. I was a bit disappointed in my darts as they look a bit bulky but that is certainly an error with my markings and not the pattern. I will do better next time.
I love the skirt and how it came out. For my first attempt at a box pleat, I think it turned out really well and I love the overall look. Of course, this bodice can be added to a flared rectangle skirt, or even a circle skirt for a different look and the possible variations make me very excited for future projects. Despite the pocket goof, I think the skirt was nearly perfect (at least in my eyes).
This dress really gave me the cottage core vibes I wanted and I’m so glad I gave this pattern a go after wanting to for such a long time. I have quite a few modifications I want to make to this pattern so I hope to revisit it soon and document my changes. This project has inspired me to give making an actual dirndl pattern a go so I think in the next little while I will try my hand at that as I’m pretty sure Gertie has a similar pattern I can try. I’m really glad this pattern gave me an opportunity to use my Polish souvenir fabric and I certainly used the time making it to connect to my heritage and embrace it a little more. I also had time to reflect on my time in Poland and hope that the country stays safe. This pattern has really sparked a fire in me to use more of my traditional Polish fabrics in projects as they really are so beautiful (at least I think so), and I can really push my sewing skills with the new ideas I have.
For those wondering, the drindle top I am wearing in my outfit photos is an authentic Austrian drindle blouse. It’s very short and designed just to be worn with drindle style dresses. This particular one has a buttoned front and a really cute collar. I love the puff sleeves and think it looks really cute. I even wore my traditional Polish floral scarf for a shot because I love the colours being so bold, bright and beautiful.
As I hang this dress up in my closet, I’m really excited for my next project and am already wanting to start planning it. As always, I’d love to hear your suggestions for future patterns as well as fabric/pattern combination suggestions. I really appreciate you all taking the time to read and watch my vintage adventures and I’m so happy to have your support. See you in the next post!
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.
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