I’m sure I’m not the only one who starts a dress, puts it down halfway through and then forget’s about it for absolute ages. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with new fabrics and patterns and some projects just get left behind; this is my story with Butterick 6322. I started this dress in 2016, yes 6 years ago. I saw this pattern and since I’ve always loved a gathered bust, little old sewing novice me bought one of my first patterns and cut out all my pattern pieces. I chose a cute fabric, pinned all the pieces to my fabric, cut it out and … that was it. She waited in the “I’ll get around to it one-day” pile for 6 years. Well, today is that day old friend.
I’ve always loved peasant tops, gathered bust details and self busts, it’s probably from growing up around drindles so much but I just really love that look. That’s what drew me to this pattern to begin with and even now, I still love that style and I’m wanting to give it ago sewing it up myself. Butterick 6322 has has bias neck and armhole binding, a semi-fitted ruched bodice, fitted self-lined midriff, interfaced front overlay with corset-style lacing, gathered skirt and a back zipper. Looking back now, I kind of regret my fabric choice but when you start out, most of us are drawn towards novelty prints and fun patterns instead of something that’s subtle to wear out on a daily. But she’s waited this long so let’s keep going.
My fabric choice is questionable and I see this as a wearable muslin for now. As the pattern has an interfaced front overlay, it really adds an element of country core cuteness which you can play up by using a containing fabric which is the route I decided to go. For the main part of my dress including the bust, midriff and skirt, I chose a bright orange fruit fabric which is a little loud but my mum said it was cute so that sold me. I originally bought it off fabric.com but it’s not longer available but I found the same fabric here (I’ve used this website many times before and really recommend them). For the front overlay pieces, I chose a contrasting plain orange cotton which had tiny little flecks in it which I found from Spotlight. I can’t see this fabric on their website but any plain orange fabric would work.
As this was one of my first sewing patterns, I hadn’t quite figured out pattern sizing yet and I went by the measurements listed on the envelope. This put me at a size 14 as my 28-inch waist matched their listing of a 28-inch waist and I cut the pattern out instead of tracing. I’ve now learnt that I am actually a size 12 with most Butterick patterns and as I can no longer find this pattern online to buy a smaller size (Butterick has been sold to McCalls so it may be rereleased soon but who knows), I just had to go with it. I know this pattern will be a bit too big on me but I can always bring it in as needed.
Sew, let’s get started. Sitting in a bag for 6 years meant I had to iron all my pattern pieces on the lowest heat setting my iron would go, and then I ironed all my fabric. I found this pattern a bit of a challenge but I think most of that was self inflicted. I normally use the dental floss method to sew gathers and I did this on the bust pieces. I found this to be a bit too slippery and I kept dropping the floss out of the zig zag stitches, they wouldn’t hold their gathers and honestly, it was a pain and way too fiddley. I almost gave up and cast this dress away for another 6 years but I just toughed it out and finished it as best as I could. I feel like my bodice came out a bit bumpy and it certainly wasn’t crisp and smooth. I really struggled adding the overlay to the midriff and then to the gathered bust and trying to remember to bring her in a bit which was kind of tough with all the gathers falling out. As I needed gathers along the top, bottom and the arms, there was just thread everywhere and it was a nightmare trying to remember which to keep a hold with tension and which to let go off. I didn’t have fun and would not recommend the dental floss method for such a gathered top. Lesson learnt.
I may have also goofed, probably because I was tired and a little frustrated at all the dental floss and thread everywhere but I didn’t sew on the arm binding correctly so the edges, instead of being neatly tucked inside the binding, will forever just hang out in my armpits. I got the binding right by the time it came to the neckline but it just looked so bulky. I don’t know why mine did as I did trim it but it still looks like there’s a secret sack of potatoes stuffed in there. Not my favourite look to be honest and it made me fall out of love with this dress. Luckily, the skirt was straight forward and I finished the whole thing off with a zip.
Ready for another goof? As the midriff overlay pieces just chill out as flaps, they need to be tied together for a corset-like look meaning you need to put eyelets in them to make way for lacing. I have the original ribbon I bought for this project and I went to reach for my eyelet maker and realised, it was a tool for inserting press studs instead. I have no idea why I thought I owned one of these fancy eyelet tools and I’ve had 6 years to go out and buy one. So I had a look online and found this lovely little company and they had great reviews with so many colours to choose from (I was torn between pink, orange, teal, and mint!) so I ordered it. My dress chilled out on my dress form for a few days as a constant reminder that I still have a long way to go before I become a good seamstress. She mocked me. I could hear her mocking me.
When my eyelet machine arrived, I gave her a spin and finished up my dress. The machine worked great and now I’m keen to give making my first corset a go or at least something that requires eyelets to make buying one tool for one project worth it. But right now, my Butterick 6322 was complete and it only took me 6 years to finish her. Hurray!
As soon as she was done, I honestly didn’t like the dress. I think my fabric choice had a lot to do with this but I was determined to finish the project none the less. But you have to give clothing (and people) the benefit of the doubt so I put her on and you know what, she’s not that bad. Let’s start with the fit, I definitely need to size down to a size 12 instead of the 14 as theres a lot of gape and bulkiness around the waist, arm holes and neckline. It’s not a big issue but in certain poses, the gaping (especially the arm holes), is really obvious. I found the ability to tie up the waist helped make the dress look a little better but a size down will definitely be needed for next time.
There’s a few things I wish I did better, mainly the edge bindings around the neckline and arm holes. I did an awful job. No point beating around the bush, it’s bad! I think next time I will purchase bias tape and use that and I will definitely not be using the dental floss gathering method because oh my gosh that got chaotic. This is definitely not an issue with the pattern, this is soely user error and honestly, this pattern will be made again sometime soon because I will only get better and my skills if I practice. If you have fabric options for a remake of this dress, please let me know.
On my next attempt, I think I will definitely focus on the finishing touches. I struggled so much with this pattern that I think all common sense went out the window and I didn’t even finish some edges properly (have a good look at my back neck binding). In my next attempt, I will also add a hook and eye to the back neck binding and use my overlocker to properly finish some edges.
Despite the above issues, I think this dress is really cute. I love the style and the vibe of this dress, I kind of enjoyed getting to take some photos in front of my parents mandarin tree to match my fabric but next time I’m hoping for a soft floral fabric. I cannot believe that this dress took me over 6 years to finish and I wish I had something better to show. I think this dress is cute, she’s not perfect, but cute.
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