It's 80s week here on the blog! After finishing the 1986 Butterick shorts for my husband, I dove into this 1987 Butterick shirt dress for myself, Butterick 4734.
I had an old sheet that fit in well with the 80s aesthetic, and used the entire thing with only a few little scraps left to make this shirt dress and matching belt. The pattern states that the dresses are worn "with purchased belt" but I wanted to make a matching one, inspired by one I'd seen in a Burda magazine. I also found the perfect buttons at my local fabric store.
I cut this one at 14 in the shoulder, grading out to 16 by the waist and nearly 18 at the hip. It's a straight cut, so I needed to shape it out a bit over the hip area. It looks cute unbelted from the front, but there is far too much volume in the back to wear it loose, unless I took a couple of fish eye darts in the back. In any case, I like it belted.
This is an "easy" pattern, and it is pretty straightforward, especially in View E, which I made. It's straight up and down, with a full length facing, a yoke and a couple of pleats at the yoke seam, front and back. No waist seam on this view, and no sleeve either. Pretty simple.
The most time consuming element was altering the pattern for length. The same pattern piece is used for the straight view and the bodice of the full skirt with waist seam. There is only a "cut here" line. This means that there is a large section for blousing on the pattern, which is not welcome on the straight view. If the waist length works for you, you'd at least need to fold out the blousing allowance, a good 2 inches. I ended up folding out close to four inches above the waist, which seemed to work correctly. And because I cut the shoulders and neck at 14, not 16, it eliminated the extra ease for the shoulder pads as well as raising the V of the neck just a bit, which I also needed.
I also took an inch off the hem, so that my hem allowance was 1.5" and not the 3" they called for -- that's way too much hem to fold up, for me. I also added side seam pockets, of course, just below the waist so that they wouldn't gape when the belt was on. I think the style and the fabric go well together and will be fun to wear. The fabric is a little stiff -- it is an polycotton sheet, after all -- so it works well for this kind of straight shape that doesn't require draping or gathering, and it stands nicely around the body.
I made the belt using some non-roll elastic and a fabric casing, along with a buckle from my stash. It was pretty free-form, but I'll share how I made it in case anyone is interested in trying it.
2. Cut a strip of fabric 1.5 x longer than the elastic, and the width needed to cover the elastic plus a quarter to half inch ease, and seam allowances of course. I had a 1.5" wide elastic, at 36" long, so cut a strip 55" long and 4.5" wide.
3. Sew the fabric strip by folding lengthwise, leaving both ends open. I used a 1/2" seam allowance, leaving me with close to 1/2" wiggle room in the strip to insert the elastic.
4. Insert the elastic, and when the trailing end gets close to being covered by fabric, stop and fold over a bit of the end and stitch it securely to the inner elastic as close to the end as possible. This will be the end that shows after it goes through the buckle so try to keep it tidy.
5. Finish drawing the elastic through the tube. You'll need to leave a couple of inches of flat fabric at this end to wrap around the buckle so securely stitch down the end of the elastic inside the fabric a couple of inches from the end. Fold the ends in and stitch them down tidily. Then you can use that flat bit to wrap around the centre bar of your buckle and stitch it down.
6. Now you just need to "zhush" your gathering over the elastic to get it to look even. This is why you need to make sure you have secured your elastic at both ends, as it will take some pulling. You don't want to leave too much ease, as it should look fitted to the elastic, but you need some so that you can do this step and get the gathers evenly dispersed. And make sure the buckle is also just slightly wider than the width of your elastic so you can pull the belt through without any twisting.
7. Wrap it around you and just pull one end through the buckle! Done!