“Mommy, Betty White’s wearing my dress!” I exclaimed into the phone. I’d been watching Life with Elizabeth on the Roku’s Pop Films Classic TV channel. - I love that show; Betty White in 1954, amazing. Anyway… Just a few weeks earlier I had finished this fabulous new dress and here was Betty White, 60 years ago, wearing a dress of the exact same cut. I was thrilled.
I found the fabric first. In the new knitting and quilting shop that opened up next door to the office. Danger Will Robinson, DANGER!!!! I can’t remember what I’d actually gone in there for. Perhaps to finally see it. The building had been built my great-grandfather as his store front and home when he was a Roundy’s salesman, well before being elected to the judiciary. Unlike all the other buildings he built, I’d never been in it. The ladies at Bungalow Quilting & Yarn have done a great job incorporating the original feel of the building into their shop. It was while I was admiring this that I also found myself admiring some fabulous fabric.
Pattern-colored, with pattern instructions and images sprawling across the fabric. A nice, soft, light cotton. This place isn’t your standard big box discount store, so I gathered together some resolve and left the store without it. Then I got a coupon in my email a few weeks later. I knew exactly what I wanted.
“What are you going to make with it?” “I want to make a dress, use this for the bodice.” The lady looked at me skeptically. “Let us know how that turns out.” I can’t blame her. I’m sure “dress!” is not the first thing that comes to most people’s minds upon seeing that fabric. But then, I never claim to be most people.
Mommy and I took the fabric and headed to JoAnn’s to find a suitable pattern and a coordinating fabric for the skirt. At first, I was thinking maybe a pattern similar to the one that’s depicted on the fabric, but honestly, that style doesn’t work well on my jumbo-muscle thighs. Instead, I picked out a fabulous Retro Butterick pattern from 1950, B6055. We perused the general cottons, blends and quilting fabrics looking for something that would go well with one of the colors in the bodice fabric and me. Mommy found the most delightful and perfect fabric, mint with large white polka dots!
I’m sort of notorious for messing with patterns. Altering the sizes, the style, the embellishments. This time, the only alteration I made was to leave off the pockets. They looked as though they’d be an awful temptation for creating cell-phone destruction through gravity.
I suppose I can’t really claim no pockets as the only change since I also slightly modified the belt. The belt called for a 1” buckle. We couldn’t find a 1” buckle at JoAnn’s or in Mommy’s stash, so I improvised. Instead, I put two button holes in the belt, one at each end, and secured it with a large cuff link. I love it! It looks awesome and the cuff link seems to keep the belt from spinning around my waist. The belt currently isn’t size adjustable, but if I ever need it to be, I can just add another button hole at either end. I also made the belt double-sided so it can match either the bodice or the skirt.
Oh, and I also added a skirt lining. I guess I messed with the pattern more than I realized at the time. The polka dot fabric is pretty thin, so I added a slip-style lining with natural-colored muslin from my large bolt. Basically, I cut the skirt out of both fabrics, assembled the lining and skirt separate, basted them at the waist with wrong sides together and sewed the bodice to the whole skirt unit.
After wearing the dress, I also wish I’d have lined the whole bodice in the polka dots instead of just doing the collar with facing like the pattern says. Then I would be able to turn up my sleeves and have little polka dot cuffs. I may go back and add some false cuffs to it.
I love the dress. I love how it turned out. I love that it fits me pretty much perfectly. And I really, really love, that I just happened to already have shoes in the exact right color and style. It also goes great with mouse ears and pearls.