The Southern Girl dress

Challenge theme
This week’s Sew Weekly challenge theme was ‘Go West’ – to be inspired by all things Western!

The facts

  • Fabric: approx 3m of something (I have no idea what it is, but it feels kinda like linen but without the massive crease factor. Some cotton blend, perhaps?) from my stash. I think it may have been $4 a metre from the Arthur Toye sale table
  • Pattern: Butterick 9336
  • Year: 1960
  • Notions: 60cm invisible zip ($4 on half price sale) and some iron-on interfacing for the collar
  • Time to complete: 5 hours
  • First worn: on a road trip to Napier! Yay!
  • Wear again? Yes! I love this dress, it’s super-comfy. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Total cost: around $16

The story
Hmmmm. Western. Much like last week’s nautical challenge, not really my style.

My first thought was to make a red shirt with yoke detail on the front and a pair of jeans. But when I was hunting through my fabric stash I unearthed this linen-look plaid fabric, and Butterick 9336 called out to me from my stash with it’s oversized collar and I thought, yes, these two are meant to be together! And thus the Southern Girl dress was born.

I was originally going to make a detachable collar and bow, like on version A on the pattern, but sadly I ran out of time. Guess that’s what happens when you’re racing to get something finished in time to wear it for a road trip! One day I may go back and make the collar, perhaps. It seems like it would be a cute variation, don’t you think?

The pattern
This pattern was nice and easy to put together. It’s an unmarked pattern, but the instructions and nice and clear and easy to follow. The only place I really stumbled was when attaching the neck interfacing to the bodice – it wasn’t too clear where to stitch down to, and since the pattern had already called for the small notch at the bottom of the ‘v’ to have it’s seam allowance pressed down, I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be sewn across or left as a small ‘v’ under the collar. So I left it. Which may or may not have been the right thing to do. Next time, I’ll try stitching it closed, and then I can compare and see which way I like best. ๐Ÿ™‚

Any changes?
The pattern was a size too big in the bust for me, so I took it in a little and also did a small bust adjustment. Both of which were pretty easy to do – I just shaved some width off down the centre front and back for the size adjustment (I know, I kinda cheated!), and I took out about half the width of the dart that ran from the waistline up to the bust point.

I found the darts in this to be quite long – when made up, the points actually come about an inch above where they should be on me. Maybe they’d be in the right place for larger-busted girls. Who knows?

I also did one of my usual adjustments and replaced the side zip with an invisible zip down the centre back. I left the back bodice pieces attached for the top 3-4 cms, so the collar would fit nicely, and inserted the zip below that. Which worked out rather well, except that I couldn’t quite get the stripes to line up, annoyingly enough. (Stripes, you are not my friend.)

(Please excuse the creasing – this was after we’d drive back from Napier to Wellington on Sunday evening and I’d been wearing the dress all day. Turns out 5 hours in a car creases your skirt. Who would have thought it?) (That’s my sewing table behind me, by the way. Just in case you’re interested. I shoved the machines to the side for the photos, but forgot to move the rubbish bin – oops!)

What would I do differently next time?
I’d lower the bust dart point by an inch. I’d stitch the notch below the collar completely closed, just to compare (and because I have a sneaking suspicion that that’s what I was meant to do in the first place!). I’d add pockets in the side seams, just coz every dress that can have pockets, should have pockets – they’re just so useful! (I keep forgetting to add them to things – maybe I need to write a big sign and hang it over my sewing table reminding me to add pockets and do small bust adjustments. Perhaps then I’ll remember in the future….)

Oh yes, and I’d be a bit more careful matching the plaid. This is the first time I’ve worked with such an obvious stripe, and it added quite a bit more time to the cutting-out of the fabric. I only just had enough fabric to work with, and I was very careful to match all the horizontal stripes. Which I was rather proud of, until I stitched up the bodice and realised that I’d completely forgotten to take into consideration the vertical stripes. Gah. I didn’t have any fabric left to recut any of the pieces, either. Oh well, live and learn, and all that.

The photos
I finished this dress on Friday morning, and then Steve and I headed off on a long weekend road-trip to Napier, over on the east coast of the North Island. (Yay for three-day weekends!) My theory was, we’d be travelling through a lot of farm land, and I could get a photo of this dress with little baby lambs and lots of green paddocks in the background. Which didn’t really work out as it was too too cold!!!! (Well, that and Steve didn’t like the idea of stopping on the main road just to take a photo. Oh well.)

We did stop for afternoon tea on the trip though, at this cute little out-of-the-way cafe over a long one-lane bridge off the motorway. Earl grey tea with lemon and a scone with jam and whipped cream – bliss!

The cafe had some old farming equipment out the front in the car park, so I got a photo with some of it. My parents used to have one of these up the back of their farm – it’s probably still there, rusting away…. (It was far too cold to take my jersey off, which is why the rest of the photos were taken inside on Sunday evening when we got home again.)

We got some photos of the cafe and the farmland around it, too. It was very cute – a house that had been converted and didn’t look at all like a cafe from the outside. And they had a chicken run beside the parking lot for fresh eggs for the cafe, which was rather awesome, really.

(Doesn’t look like a cafe, does it? When we first pulled up, I wondered if we were in the right place….)

Can you see the chicken run? It’s on the left hand side, just beside the driveway into the parking lot.

It was around 3.30pm by now, so there were lots of shadows forming due to the hills and the sun starting to go down. Lots of pretty blues and greens, which sadly didn’t come out anywhere near as bright as they really were in this photo, but hopefully you can get an idea of how pretty it was. ๐Ÿ™‚

Why ‘Southern Girl’?
When I think ‘Western’, I think ‘farming’. And when I think ‘farming’ in New Zealand, I think ‘Southland’, coz that’s where my family have farms. The plaid pattern and the colours of the fabric remind me of Southland as well – the green of the paddocks (fields for those non-Kiwis), the blue of the ocean and the sky, and the tartan patterns of the Scottish ancestory of most of the people who settled there (which explains the reason why Southlanders roll their ‘r’s. So do I – I often get asked if I’m from Southland. Nope – I just inherited the accent from my mum.)

So, this dress reminds me of my family and their farms down south, hence the name. ๐Ÿ™‚

13 responses to “The Southern Girl dress

  1. Pingback: Butterick 9336 «

  2. Fabulous dress! I love the muted colours of the tartan! Your road trip sounds like it was fun!!

    • Thanks Debi! ๐Ÿ™‚ The road trip was fantastic – I’ll be putting up some photos from it this week. So much fun getting out of town for a few days!

  3. Great job! I love how the colors look on you! Add those pockets!

  4. I love your photos, such a beautiful country! Your dress is great, a real keeper for sure, it’s perfect for all kinds of wonderful!

    • Thanks Cathe! I’m really loving this dress – the pattern is surprisingly comfy to wear. Think I may be making it up again in another fabric, it’s such a great style to wear!

  5. Love this dress and the photo shoot! Great landscape photos too ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. You did a GREAT job at matching those stripes/checks at the front though Kat! NICE xoxo

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  9. Pingback: Butterick 9336 « Patterns patterns patterns

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