Hello everyone! Today I have something really fun to share!
I collaborated with Harts Fabric, an independent brick and mortar as well as online fabric store. Each September they have a full month called “Sew Your Hart Out September” in conjunction with National Sewing Month, to promote sewing. It’s full of contests, tutorials, blog posts and such. This year they’ve expanded it considerably, with lots of great sponsors, fun things going on, and prizes. You can read all about this year’s activities and how to participate on their Sew Your Hart Out blog.
For their kickoff week (how is it already September?!) I wrote an easy but really detailed (I mean, it’s me after all) tutorial for them, combining their sponsors for the week at Sew Your Heart Out: Tilly and the Buttons and Cotton + Steel Fabrics. Harts kindly supplied the fabric and pattern, and I cooked up the rest. It’s a fun little Bettine dress hack!
If you love Tilly’s new Bettine dress pattern and would like to learn how to add contrasting self-faced bands to the hem (without changing the skirt length) and to the sleeves, pop on over to Sew Your Hart out today and read my post! It’s pretty beginner-friendly, as I walk you through all the math and steps. Bettine is meant to be an easy dress to sew up, so I wanted to keep my pattern hacks simple, too!
But you want to see a few more photos of the dress, and hear all about it, right?? Okay, twist my aaarm!
When Bettine came out in July I thought, “That’s super cute! Although maybe not super me.” Not a full skirt, not a fitted bodice. Pretty much the opposite of both, which silhouettes I lean towards a lot, especially in summer. It’s always annoying when you see something adorable but it doesn’t seem like something you’d actually want to wear!
However! Sometimes as one season is drawing to an end I get downright sick of wearing the same styles I’ve been sporting those last few months over and over, and my eyes start wandering. Like at the end of winter I sometimes jump from boots and wool socks straight to open-toe clogs and sandals and skip normal shoes entirely because my feet are just like “FREE MEEEE!” Or I start knitting fair isle sweaters in August in the air-conditioning, pretending summer doesn’t exist. You know, reasonable, sane things like that.
So once last month hit, my tune changed on Bettine. I suddenly loved the relaxed look of the bodice (“It’s hot! I don’t want clingy!”) and slightly shorter hem length (“Still hot and don’t want to wear too much fabric on my body! But ooh ooh, this will also be cute with tights in a month or so!”). It felt like a fun change of pace to work me into the next season, and I could see it styled with a cardigan and tights once it does start to cool down. Not a vintage silhouette per se, but definitely something I could make vintage-inspired if I put my own touches in the rest of the outfit, as I like to do.
None of which surprised me at all by the way, since about this same time last year I totally started falling for above-knee styles and a bit of a 60s-meets-modern vibe on occasion, which Bettine seems to fit into perfectly. (Side note: Mel and I have a running joke that anything I wear above-the-knee is a “companion dress/skirt”, which is a geeky Doctor Who reference, but probably just means it reminds us of cute British modern-with-a-splash-of-retro style, à la one of the British stores I really love, Boden.)
Autumn often is when I start to think a bit more eclectic for the cooler months anyway, when tights, leggings, thick wooly socks, clog boots, funky layers, and mismatched knits start seeping into the picture, and I think Bettine will be a happy playmate to all of that this year.
I made very few changes to the pattern (other than my pattern hacks, obviously), and only minor ones at that. I shortened the bodice front/back by 1″ as I have a short torso and wanted it blousy but not overly so, and I added 1 1/2″ length to the skirt. I also shaved off some of the tulip shape of the skirt at the hips (maybe only 3/8″ at the widest part) as the shape didn’t quite work on me once I was wearing it. I also understitched the neckline facing to keep it in place. I was really concerned about the ability to get that wide topstitched facing flat, but with the understitching and super careful pressing and pinning, it came out great!
And lastly, I trimmed down the elastic casing made from the waistband seam by about 3/4″ and used 1/4″ wide elastic instead of 1/2″ wide, as my first Bettine (I’ll get back to that in a minute) used 1/2″ wide elastic and I found it felt a little wide, although it might have been that I overlapped the ends a tad too much. I also forgot the shoulders ride to the back a bit on me so I meant to adjust for that, but at this point I’ve finished my 3rd. Ha, oops! I was too excited to stop and re-assess!
I’d probably normally wear this style of dress with a belt but my only red belt didn’t quite look right with this outfit, so I’m glad it still looks cute without. (My belt department could stand some sprucing up.)
I do think I need to cut a larger size next time for the skirt. I love the fit through the hips and the way it looks, but it’s a bit of a struggle to get it over my head (definitely some shimmying involved), and the lower part of the skirt looks great but could stand a bit more room overall when I lean down and such. That’s partly due to lengthening the skirt 1 1/2″ (although I did grade the bottom part out to the next size up to account for that), but partly because I should have picked based on hip size, and just figured eh, there will be enough room. And there is, but you can probably see the skirt is a tad more fitted on me than the pattern. So this Bettine, especially in rayon, is a bit slinky on me, although oh so comfy still.
However I love the blousy-but-not-too-blousy fit of the bodice, so I might just grade the skirt out one more size in the future and leave the bodice. And I might try a swayback adjustment as a I have a bit of pooling back there, but that’s hard to tell if it’s just due to the gathered, relaxed style, and frankly I didn’t see it in the photos as much as I remembered. I feel kind of certain already there will be many future opportunities for me to iron anything out!
Can I pause for a moment to remark how much I love those squiggly stripes? The extra time I took to place them carefully really paid off! I even matched the stripes at the side seams on the bodice and skirt. The squiggly nature means it’s not always a perfect transition at the seam, but I was at least smart enough to pause and realize that the stripe pattern wasn’t always pink / red / blue / black but alternated between that and red / pink / blue / black!
I didn’t manage to match the diamonds at the side seams, but the stripes were way more important.
In terms of the fabric, I absolutely loooove this rayon, and I’m typically not a big rayon fan. There’s nothing wrong with rayon itself but it’s due to the fact that I hate hand washing and can almost never be bothered to make it to a dry cleaner, so caring for purchased rayon garments is a drag. But I pre-washed and dryed this rayon first. I know Lauren does this constantly with OMG-don’t-dare-wash-it fabrics, and Christine Haynes did it with her Cotton + Steel rayon, so I did it with abandon, too. Because there was no way I was going to delicately pamper a casual dress!
I’m super happy with the result. The fabric is soft and weighty, and it wasn’t even all that shifty to sew with. On the body it’s drapey but without feeling delicate, you know? Like you get the glory of slinkiness but with a substantial feel. Cutting was slightly more annoying than cotton, so I just put my mats on the floor so it was easier to maneuver the fabric than letting is slip off the end of my table constantly. And I used thinner silk pins while sewing, and Microtex (sharp) needles. I’m pleased more fabric companies are offering quality rayon but I wish there were far less limited print options. So I probably still won’t be sewing with rayon that much, unless that changes in the future (I hope it does!).
This is actually my second Bettine dress, but the first one I’ve photographed. The first version was made up in jersey, following Tilly’s tips for making one up in knit fabrics. I’ve already worn it a bunch of times and urgently felt the need to sew a few more, so my second knit version and third Bettine total is just finished up. Hopefully I’ll be showing you both knit versions next week.
I already have a big ziploc bag of pattern pieces for Bettine versions and different tweaks. In terms of modern sewing patterns, I think only the Emery dress and Butterick B5895 trousers share that privilege so far!
Must mean I’m in love with Bettine! Who knew??
Maybe a striped version with a boatneck? Can you do that with cut-on sleeves without looking weird? (If not, perhaps a boatneck and hacking on the Coco set-in sleeves?) An a-line version of the skirt like Sally? Or a fuller skirt like Christine Haynes’ Emery and Bettine mashup? More knit prints? Oooh yeah! All of the above, I think.
We have a big vacation planned late in the fall to a couple of countries and I can’t think of anything more comfy or travel-friendly than a few Bettines by my side! Mais oui!
If you’d like to read all about how I added contrast bands to this Bettine dress, stop by Sew Your Hart Out today for my tutorial! Hope you enjoy it!