A Belated Birthday Betty

This dress has been a long time in the making.

It was my Mum’s birthday back in February, and she is becoming increasingly hard to buy for. So I thought that this year, if I could find the right fabric, I’d make her a handmade dress as a gift.

I did a round of Spotlight a few days before her birthday and didn’t see anything that really jumped out at me, until I was at the checkout and happened to glance over at a pile of fabrics behind the counter, and there it was:

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I sent my mum a text message with this photo attached and asked ‘Red or black?’

Her response: Both?

So, I bought 3 meters of each.

The fabric is a quilting cotton, and though I’ve been trying to steer away from using quilting cotton for garments, I couldn’t resist. I knew I wanted to make it into a dress with a fitted bodice and full skirt and had originally planned to use Simplicity 2444, but in the end I decided that it was a good excuse to buy the Sew Over It Betty Dress pattern, which I’d been wanting for a while. I really like the simple clean lines and silhouette of this pattern.

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I asked Mum to chose which fabric she wanted made into the dress and she chose the red.

This is where the project started to lose momentum. It took me a while to get around to tracing off the pattern, and then another few weeks to start cutting the fabric. And then it stalled completely when I found that, after cutting out the bodice, I didn’t have enough fabric left for the full circle skirt. I talked to mum about it and she was happy for me to make a less full skirt, but I’d already lost momentum and the dress got shelved.

I guess I should probably explain here that I live a 2 hour drive from my nearest Spotlight store, so I couldn’t just pop down and buy more fabric. I did look for the fabric on my next trip, but it wasn’t until 2 months later that I finally found some, and bought another couple of metres. I cut the skirt and hung the pieces to let the bias drop…for about a month.

By now it was May and the Indie Pattern Month challenges had been announced, so I had a double reason to finally get the dress made. I really took my time on this dress and used several techniques that were new to me so as to develop my sewing skills. I’m pretty happy with the finished result:

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I really like this pattern. The instructions are clear and the drawings are both detailed and aesthetically pleasing, although that said I didn’t really use them for more than a quick read through at the beginning.

The pattern has you use facings but I decided to fully line the bodice for a cleaner finish. I used some white rayon from my remnants box (I had just enough for the bodice) so it feels lovely inside. I had never fully lined a bodice before so I followed the tutorial at Kitschy Coo and was pleased with the neat result. I slip stitched the lining to the bodice along the zip and the waist seam.

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I used a centered zip instead of an invisible zip as I’m still not 100% confident of my invisible zip insertion skills, and with a print this busy you can’t really notice the difference. I basted the centre back seam closed first then stitched in the zip, then unpicked the seam to reveal the zip. I like the nice neat finish of this technique.

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I finished the skirt seams by binding with white bias tape, and used red bias tape for the bottom hem. I had taken 2 inches off the skirt before I even cut the fabric (my mother and I are both quite short, so it’s fairly common for me to have to lop a few inches off) and she was happy with the skirt at that length.

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When I was finishing the hem I spent a good 20 minutes stitching on the bias tape and lining up the join to sit perfectly flush with the hem…and then realised I had sewn it on the wrong side. After another 20 minutes unpicking nearly 5 metres of hem I gave up for the night and went and had a bath!

I had plenty of fabric left over so for Mother’s Day I made Mum a set of matching pot holders and oven gloves. I also made some hand towels but I forgot to get photos of those.

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I still have fabric left over so maybe I’ll make her a matching bag, or maybe make a matching tie for my Dad!

So, a quick summary and costing:

Pattern: Sew Over It Betty Dress PDF – $16 AUD

Fabric: Day of the Dead Quilting Cotton 5m @ $16 pm – $80

Rayon from stash

Notions: Zip $2.50, Bias tape 2x $2.50, Thread $2.50 – $10

Total: $106

Not a cheap make at all, but it was a gift.

Pattern alterations: No fitting alterations. Fully lined bodice, centered zip, bias tape hem, 2 inches off skirt.

New to me techniques: Fully lined bodice, bound seams.

I’m pretty pleased with how this dress came together. I learned some new techniques and am glad I finally got it done (and in our family 6 months late is practically on time!). Thanks to the organisers of TMS and IPM for giving me the shove I needed to get this made! I’m looking forward to making this pattern up for myself for the ‘One Pattern Two Takes’ challenge.

I’ll finish with some compulsory twirling and optional petticoat shots!

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11 thoughts on “A Belated Birthday Betty

  1. Pingback: Two Beautiful Betties | The Monthly Stitch

  2. Fun dress and how cool that she can co-ordinate with the kitchen decor 🙂 I haven’t tried that pattern company before – they are going on ‘the list’

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  3. Pingback: Another Anna! | The Monthly Stitch

  4. Naww, thanks everyone! I haven’t really thought about what I’m going to do with the black fabric, but I’m not sure anyone’s wardrobe is big enough to handle two garments in this print! Possibly a bag or something? I’ll probably just let it sit for a few months until inspiration strikes!

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