Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Butterick B5696 - Skirt Only Pattern Review

Butterick B5696 - 1883 Bustle Skirt Pattern 
I wanted to leave a quick pattern review for this bustle skirt for everyone’s perusal.  I had some lovely printed cotton voile that I wanted to make into an 1883 Bustle gown based on an inspiration gown of a similar fabric style.  I looked at what I had in my pattern stash and came across the Butterick B5696.   It had the requisite poofy bustle back that I was looking for, and I had never made it prior, so I thought to give it a try.  I will say upfront that I truly like the way it turned out.

The pattern itself, while it states “historical”, is not historically accurate, in that the foundation skirt does not have the needed 3-4 longer back length or drop yoke to accommodate a bustle cage or pad.  The foundation skirt is a mere 3.5yrds without trimmings.  The train is a separate piece and is four feet wide and nine feet long, so ‘another 3yrds for the train.  Then I went with a 12” fancy pleated ruffle, plus a 4” tight pleated trim on the train.  Between these two trims I used up another 2.5 yds.  Lastly both the skirt and the train were fully lined.  So, another 3.5 for the skirt of a basic white cotton, but then I opted for a lining of medium weight organdy for the train to give the fabric some body as the voile was very lightweight.  So, all told approximately nine yards of fashion fabric plus another 6.5 yds for lining for a grand total of fifteen yards for just the skirt.

The pattern was rated “Advanced”, but I would rate it an “intermediate”.  As long as you go slow and carefully follow the instructions, it should be an easy project.  As a caveat, be prepared for working with a LOT of fabric at all times.  Sometimes it felt like “me vs the skirt” and the skirt was winning! LOL

The foundation skirt went together quickly as expected.  Things get tricky with the way they set the waistband.  The foundation skirt opening is back center, but the train, once attached, is offside to the left.  The train also goes together quickly.  The tricky spots are the strategic placement of nine “gathering” spots that are needed to give the train its “poofy” look.  The instructions call for “gathering” then “sewing directly” to the foundation skirt, but I opted for ribbons and loops for a more authentic feel.  Plus, it allows me a little more leeway for how I want the poofs and puffs to look.  Also, as the foundation skirt lacks the extra bustle length, the actual bustle pillow (included in pattern) seems to work best directly under the train.  The pattern calls for the pillow to be sewn into the skirt, so you get to decide if you want to attach it or go a more traditional way. 

The train, once you get the gathering spots completed and the necessary trims attached, calls for you to “blind-stitch” down both sides to attach it to the foundation skirt.  This is all hand work from waistband to hemline on both sides.  Don’t forget to leave plenty of space for the left side waistband opening.  I stopped my blind-stitching right below this point.   The organdy lining was a great idea to help add some much needed support for the cascade of poufs down the back, it turned out perfectly. 

Overall, the pattern uses some longer or slower techniques to achieve a familiar look.  Sometimes I thought about a shortcut here or there, but as I had never made this pattern, and with so much fabric at stake with a mistake, I simply went along with the original directions.  Start to finish was approx seven days; I would pick it up and put it down when I got frustrated.  I like the look and fit of the finished product, and will probably make it again.  For a “cheat” in the future I might consider my regular TV foundation skirt pattern and just use the train portion of this pattern for a “marriage” of convenience!  LOL

(PS:  Please see my prior blog posts for a pattern review of the bodice (Flirting with Civil War Fashions) as well as more information on the inspiration gown (1883 Bustle Gown Project)  Enjoy!)

Monday, March 11, 2013

1868 Baschlik Mantilla - Those "In-between" Projects

Well, it was a great day at the 2013 Vista Civil War Event.  I thought the weather might be a bit challenging, but the day ended up being sunny and bright.  The walkways and roads were still a little bit wet and muddy, but overall it was a wonderful event to attend.  I wore the civil war era gown I made last year, and went with a new accessory, the Baschlik Mantilla.  These wraps were very popular before, during, and after the Civil War.  What I very much liked about this pattern was the hood and the scalloped hemline in the back.  Very different from other styles that I have seen.  I had made a quick trip up to the LA Textile Market a few weeks ago and found this cotton lace, which is something almost impossible to find, and purchased a couple of yards for this project.  The pattern calls for a stiffer fabric, but I wanted to try it with a lace.  Start to finish was approximately two hours.  I think when I make it again it will take longer as I want to try to make it with a heavier fabric and incorporate the box pleated trim, and that will take a bit more time.  This cotton lace version criss-crosses over the front and is held in place with a belt, then the long ties are knotted in the back.  In the pattern it shows this mantilla gathered up with a bow in the back, but I liked the easy tie option this time around.  Also, I used a simple "zig zag" stitch for the edge hem.  I have an original vintage lace shawl that is finished this way, so I simply followed the example of my extent piece.  This cotton lace was loose and open in places and would never have allowed a rolled hem anyway.   Lastly, with my next attempt  I will probably do an overall enlargement.  While it states "One Size Only" it is based off of their sizing from 1868, and women were smaller in general back then. 
With the finished Lace Mantilla, I liked how it draped over the shoulders like a shawl, the hood feature was very unique, the scalloped hemline is very pretty, the weight of the hood in the back kept it well centered, the belt keeps the front cross-over securely in place, and the back tie was very convenient as well.  I very much liked the overall finished product of this accessory.