Butterfly Bust Shelf Dress

I was on staycation this past week, so I had some time to work on another one of Gertie’s dress that has been sitting in the project queue for quite a while. I had all of the fabric for the project, so it was just a matter of putting it together. Since I had recently finished the applique on the Unicorn quilt top, I decided to treat myself to making this dress. I managed to finish it just so I could wear it to a sewing blogger party in the Seattle area this past weekend!

Beautiful day for taking Cassie for a walk

For this dress, I used a cotton quilting fabric as my main fabric. It’s an Amy Butler print from her Alchemy collection called Queen Anns Butterflies. It’s my favorite color, and I fell in love with the feminine and graceful design of the fabric. My lining is similarly colored, and for the contrast piece, I picked out a white cotton shantung from Pacific Fabrics (at least, I’m pretty sure that’s where I bought it). As is my custom, I washed all my fabric together–and I’m sure you can guess what happened next–my white cotton shantung came out of the wash a pale pink cotton shantung. Whoops. Guess this will be a  spot-wash garment from now on. I threw the shantung back in the wash with some distilled vinegar and it came back out a little less pink. I think this is my biggest regret with this project is opting for the cotton shantung. Not because of the bleeding in the wash issue, but mostly because it wasn’t holding the pleats well, or staying flush against the rest of the bodice. (I might have to go back and tack it down.)  I like the cotton shantung, though, and I think it would be awesome for like a 40’s/50’s style dress. (Like the one Claire wore in the first episode of Outlander.)

Dress front

I tried making a version of this dress for a friend, but it required too many adjustments (that I don’t normally make for myself) to make it fit, and I still couldn’t get it right, so I definitely opted to make a muslin for myself just to make sure there weren’t any gotchas with it. Fortunately, the bodice fit well, and with the fullness of the skirt, I knew it would fit my hips fine. I declined to include the pleated bra section in the muslin, though.

Bodice close-up

The rest of the construction was pretty drama free, actually. I didn’t bother to look at the rest of the notions that I needed before I started, so when I got to the point where I needed to get my zipper, I noticed I needed boning and grosgrain ribbon. It’s these nice touches that I really appreciate in Gertie’s designs.

Bodice inside

The boning is pretty easy. I’ve done it before for other dresses, it’s just a little time consuming, but it helps the bodice hold a nice form-fitting shape. The grosgrain ribbon is used for the waist-stay on the inside. I’ve never encountered this detail in any other dress I’ve made, but one of my sewing friends who made this dress said hers kept creeping up, and she didn’t add the waist-stay, so I figured I would add it so I wouldn’t have the same problem. I love this detail, and I’ll probably add it back in a couple dresses (like the strapless one I did a couple years ago) that need it.

Pocket close-up

One detail that I added myself was including pockets. I absolutely adore pockets in my dresses, and now I add them whenever I can. I had enough lining fabric to use for the pockets so I didn’t have bulky pockets made from the quilting cotton, too.  Now I have a place for my phone, my wallet, my hands, and more importantly, a place to clip my badge for my office.

Dress back

A more vintage touch would be a lapped zipper, but I really favor invisible zippers, so I stuck with what I normally do. Oh, and I added the horsehair braid to the hem to give the skirt a fuller look without needing a petticoat. I bought 5 yards of the stuff and used all but 2 feet of it. Yes, this skirt is 13-feet in circumference. Thankfully, I have a blind hem foot that I put to good use when hemming this. After hand-stitching the lining in the bodice, there was no way I was going to hand-stitch 13-feet of a hem.

Loved this pattern, loved the details with it. I don’t know if I’ll make it again any time soon, but if I wanted another bust-shelf dress, this would be my go-to pattern. Definitely recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to give it a try. Don’t let the pleating phase you! If you’re endowed enough that you need to make a full-bust adjustment, Gertie wrote up instructions on her blog on how to do it for this dress.

Share on Facebook

4 thoughts on “Butterfly Bust Shelf Dress

  1. Pingback: Seattle Sewing Saturday Success | Sew Well

  2. It was nice to meet you and to see this dress in person on Saturday. One of the wonderful things about sewing is being able to make unique garments such as this one!

  3. I absolutely adore the dress, Your choice of fabric was perfect and the very pale shade of blush that happened accidentally was very pretty. Great job on your dress! and completing the quilt. It was really nice to see you again at the Seattle meet up.

Leave a Reply