Butterick 3485: Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

I actually made this dress about six weeks ago but didn't have time then to write about it (and I never actually took any pictures until today!).  This dress was made possible by the lovely Rhonda Buss at Rhonda's Creative Life.

Rhonda came to my house one day to help with a project (a wedding dress! yikes! that is a whole 'nother story I've got to catch you up on) and she was wearing a quirky cactus dress.  Rhonda looked  up the pattern for me when she got home: a "vintage" Butterick pattern, No. 3485, from 1994 (college years for me, so I guess that means I'm vintage, too).

Here's where Rhonda's generosity really kicked into overdrive.  She found the pattern for me in an Etsy shop, but by the time I clicked "purchase" someone else already had.  I tried to find it elsewhere with no luck.  Rhonda then offered to mail it to me so that I could trace it and a few days later it was sitting expectantly in my mailbox.  (Rhonda has a couple of posts about the dress so you can see alternative patterns here and here.)

I don't know if you've ever traced off someone else's pattern, but I was surprised at how happy that made me feel.

And really, this whole dress came about due to the generosity of others.  The fabric is Amy Butler's Alchemy Fanifare - a linen/rayon home dec fabric that sells for $18.98 on fabric.com.  When I was working on a clutch for Stitch magazine last winter, the editor sent me 5 yards of it because someone else hadn't wanted it for their project.  I only needed a half-yard, but Amber said to just keep the rest. So I did.  While it's home dec, it is also suitable for garments as it is not too heavy and has a nice drape to it.  When I saw Rhonda's pattern, I knew this fabric would be perfect!

It's a super simple pattern - it's really just a simple apron shape times two.  Here's the back of the envelope:

I washed and dried the fabric contrary to the recommended instructions because I wanted it nice and soft.  I didn't make a muslin of the dress and just made alterations on the fly, mainly raising the shoulder seams about 5/8" and adding back darts so that I could get a good fit in my upper back.

Next time I make it I plan to add a couple inches in length.  I feel all babydollish at this length, especially if I wear the dress with heels.  This is not necessarily a bad feeling, but not one that I want for more than 1-2 garments total.  I'm also thinking that I might lengthen the bust to waist area by about an inch so that the tie sits more at my actual waist.  When I wore this to church, someone came up to me and said, "Oh, I didn't know you were expecting!"  I don't know if this has ever happened to you, but that DID NOT feel good.  I'm going to blame it on the higher-than-usual waist that sometimes makes the fabric bunch a bit in the baby bump area.  Not on the couple pounds I gained this summer, oh no.

I lined the back bodice with silk muslin, partly because it was light and soft (the linen is thicker and a wee bit scratchy) and partly because I wanted the contrast on the tie. 

The neck and arms are finished with single fold bias tape.

The silk muslin also has a story.  About once a week or so, I scan Craigslist to see if anyone is selling fabric.  I've been lucky twice now.  I picked up this fabric (and another two half-bolts, one wool one tencel) from a woman who was selling up in order to follow her boyfriend to DC.  She lived in a garden apartment with a couple of cats and a dress form.  I felt a bit guilty because it wasn't clear that this boyfriend was going to come through (he was a week late in calling her to make arrangements).

Do you have any fabric that came into your possession in a storied way?


  1. Whomever asked if you were pregnant should be shot. A) you absolutely don't look pregnant in any way, shape or form, and B) it's just a stupid thing to say. Your dress is super cute and you look great in it!

    1. Wow, Trumbelina! I'll have to remember to call on you if I ever need some back-up! You are fierce in your defense of a friend (even an online friend!).

  2. I love this dress!! and no, it doesn't look like a maternity dress. Great vintage pattern, that Rhonda Buss is very generous :-)!

    1. Thanks, Patty. I feel very lucky to be within driving distance of the lovely Rhonda!

  3. The dress looks great on you, and the fit is perfect! This strikes me as a modern version of the Walk-Away Dress pattern. And 1994 is considered "vintage"? That seems so wrong! :)

    1. I know, but it's official: anything older than 20 years fits the definition of vintage. So I guess, really, I'm a few months premature in calling this pattern "vintage". Here's an earlier Butterick pattern (5368) that has the same general shape: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thefinickystitcher/5418063700/

      The pattern cover calls it a "whirl away dress" I guess because of the fuller skirt. I like the dart detail in this version.

  4. Anybody that thinks you look pregnant is just plain crazy! I think it looks great on you!

  5. What a beautiful dress! You really don't look pregnant by any stretch of the imagination!



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