Friday, March 10, 2017

B6453 Sew Along: Supplies and Prep

Okay, let's get this party started! I'm happy to report that the Facebook group for the Sew Along is almost up to 900 members. Please join here if you'd like. It's a great place to post photos, get advice, and generally cheer each other on.

In this post, I'll be talking about supplies you need and then answering some frequently asked questions about things like pre-washing, sizing, and making a muslin.

What supplies do I need? 

  • The pattern for Butterick 6453
  • Fabric in the amount listed on the back of the envelope and on the yardage tab on the pattern page
  • Interfacing. Lightweight woven and tricot are my two favorite interfacings for garments. I avoid non-woven interfacing since it gives your gament a stiff, papery feel that I dislike.
  • A 14" regular (not invisible) zipper. I use lapped zippers almost all the time for an authentic vintage look.
  • A pair of 3/8" rings and sliders. Dritz sells them in sets with three colors, and you can find these at stores like Jo-Ann. I also love the metal rings and sliders that Tailor Made sells. 

What are the best fabrics to use? 

I love this dress in cottons like sateen, lawn, and poplin. Border prints could be used for either view, but are especially great on the full skirt version. I've also made it very successfully in rayon challis, which gives a much slinkier, softer look. Some silks and wools could work, but I would avoid anything too thick, as the straps would get too bulky, as would the skirt gathers on View A. 

I'm using one of my new sateens in a cute floral print, now arriving in Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. 

Should I pre-wash my fabric? 

Cottons are easy to pre-wash, so yes if that's what you're using! I'm using one of my Gertie cotton sateens, and I like how they soften with machine washing and drying. My usual rule of thumb is to pre-wash if I intend to machine wash the garment after sewing. If I plan to dry clean or hand wash in cold water, it's not as important.

What size should I make? 

The biggest piece of advice I can give you here is to go by the finished pattern measurements which are printed on the tissue paper. These include the pattern ease, and are bigger than the body measurements on the size chart (fold on the flap of the pattern envelope). Butterick tends to add more ease than expected, so please check those pattern tissue sheets for the finished measurements! You will probably make a size smaller than you expect to from the size chart. 

What's the deal with all the ease? 

This is a tricky topic to discuss, but the ease conforms to Butterick's standards. However, in the photo on the envelope, the garment has much less ease. I fit this garment on myself with 0"-.5" of ease in the bust and waist, while Butterick gives the pattern 2.5" of ease. This means that if you want the garment to fit as it does on the envelope and in my pictures (with a tight vintage fit), you will probably need to go down 1-2 sizes from what the size chart says.

Size chart is on the envelope flap

Finished garment measurements can be found on the pattern tissue

What if my fabric is a little sheer? Can I line it? 

The border print sample you see on the envelope was a little sheer in the bodice so I underlined it! I used white cotton batiste and cut out it in the bodice pieces only. Then I basted the batiste to the sateen using a 1/2" seam allowance. The pieces are treated as one after basting. I finished the dress with a facing in the usual manner. Here's a photo of the inside of the dress.

You can definitely line your dress (though I won't be covering instructions for that). You can consult references like my book Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book for information on how to line a dress.

Should I make a muslin? 

I almost always make a bodice muslin, and now would be a good time to do that. Just use the main bodice pieces (not the facings) and sew them together along the princess and side seams. Stay stitch in a darker thread color along the neckline and waistline seamlines so you can get a good sense of where the neckline and waistline fall on your body. You can use ribbon or twill tape as a temporary strap for fitting. Pin up the back and check your fit. (Tip: you can also insert a dress length zipper into a bodice muslin for ease of fitting. The zipper will hang down to your hips, extending past the bodice muslin, which will help you get it on without help pinning.)

If you're concerned that you'll need an FBA (full bust adjustment), I'll have info on that next week. The Facebook group is a great place to post muslin pictures and ask for fitting advice. I love how everyone is supporting and helping each other in the group!

That's all I have for today; please let me know (or post in the FB group) if there are any other questions you have. 


  1. What size should we make when our bust/hips/waist measurements all land in diff sizes on the package? I guess what I'm asking is will you be going over how to deal with this fit issue?

  2. Yay' love that this is a sew along - ingredients bought, just need to cut my pattern. Excellent tip about the sizing btw I always wondered why stuff turns out huge using normal body measurements

  3. I'm glad you mentioned tricot interfacing, because it's the only kind I use. I agree that non-woven interfacing gives your garment a stiff feel. I think non-woven interfacing is best suited for craft projects.

  4. I really want to make view A but I only have 2.2 meters of the fabric I would like to use. I assume you need that much fabric for the skirt? Is there any way I could make the skirt less wide/gathered so I can make my fabric work? I'm quite used to adjusting patterns and I almost always get my pattern out of much less fabric than patterns state anyway. Just wanted to make sure before I buy the pattern.

    1. The skirt is 4 yards around the bottom, as printed on the pattern. It's just a gathered rectangle, so you can make a smaller rectangle for less fabric. It will obviously give it a different, less full look.

  5. Please know that I ask this with the utmost respect and for a practical reason. (I would NEVER body shame you or anyone else.) But you SEEM from pictures to have lost some weight(?), while your dresses—I'm thinking particularly of the Butterick b6322 pic you posted to Instagram recently—are still fitting perfectly. If that is the case, I'm also in the middle of losing weight, and I'm wondering whether I should just wait to cut fabric for a dress from Gertie's Ultimate until I'm smaller, or if it can be successfully altered later.

    I think you're beautiful and your dresses absolutely make me swoon. I can't wait for the Charm Patterns halter top dress and peasant blouse this fall! (Though probably a good thing I have to wait since I may no longer have this dilemma.) Thank you!



Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie