No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

by Erin on April 22, 2008

I get a lot of email now from people who are new to sewing, and who want (for some reason) my advice. Just last week I got a very kind email from Elizabeth, who wanted me to help her choose between two patterns.

Now, usually, my advice is just to buy both, to avoid regret, but I went and looked at her pattern choices. Her choice B was unremarkable (and a little difficult for a first project) but her choice A … I fell in love.

If her choice A had been in a romantic comedy, I would have been in the role of matchmaker, and this would have been the perfect guy … who then asked to be set up with my best friend. Hijinks would ensue.

But, I hear you asking, how lovely WAS choice A? Here, you tell me:
Butterick 7373

Now, giving advice to newbies is a sacred trust, and even though the dress was up for auction on eBay, I couldn't go and snipe it! That wouldn't be sporting! So I appeal to you all — does anyone have a copy of this for sale? B36, by preference?

At least I am consoled by the thought that one new sewist is going to have a very happy first dress!

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Adrienne April 22, 2008 at 6:44 am

This is a VERY nice pattern! I’d prefer it ankle length for myself, with the longer sleeve. Nice choice. I might draft this one soon. God Bless you!


lisa April 22, 2008 at 7:13 am

adorable!who loves a peter pan collar?any kid who went to catholic school in the 70’s.although to scoop of the neck is a bit provocative.perhaps in a nice plaid…..


Cindy April 22, 2008 at 7:15 am

Since you are offering newbie advice…I am about to embark on my first vintage pattern. Erin, can you, or anyone else in blogland, point me to a good resource book, or any other source for that matter, in which to alter patterns. My measurements definitely do not match the vintage sizing!Much appreciated.


Ellie Finlay April 22, 2008 at 7:51 am

I love it!A nice flowing rayon…


xstpenguin April 22, 2008 at 7:54 am

Cindy : Fit For Real People by Palmer Pletsch has nice clear diagrams for altering normal modern patterns. Has sections on different parts of the body and the issues you might have with them. But you’d need another book entirely for grading (changing the overall size from a 12 to 16 or whatever).HTHCheers,AJ


Deirdre April 22, 2008 at 8:35 am

Oh Erin, that dress is perfect.


Tara April 22, 2008 at 9:30 am

Erin, I have a vintage pattern for a VERY similar dress–same scooped neckline and peter pan collar. I will take a look when I get home tonight and let you know what it is, maybe you’d find it an acceptable substitute (although I can’t pass it on yet, it’s waiting for me to make it out of a lovely floral cotton lawn).


Lisa @ the Vintage Fashion Library April 22, 2008 at 9:32 am

That’s really cute! I’ll check my stash.


Coco, not as in Chanel :) April 22, 2008 at 9:44 am

I have all my mom’s vintage patterns. I just love them.


enc April 22, 2008 at 9:50 am

It’s got all the hallmarks of an Erin Favorite. Peter Pan collar, button-front bodice, full skirt, seams to insert (sadly lacking) pockets. No wonder you fell in love. I wish I had a copy for your reader. I hope she finds iteveryone deserves to be happy on this one!


lorrwill April 22, 2008 at 9:53 am
Julia April 22, 2008 at 10:01 am

THAT is extremely adorable and I have the perfect fabric for it in case you get offers of size 38 or 40.


The solemn cat April 22, 2008 at 10:38 am

Cute dress, hope your reader has fun making it.


wundermary April 22, 2008 at 11:27 am

Cindy, take a look at your library. A test drive is always good before you buy! My absolute favorite text for drafting and grading is Pattern Drafting & Grading by M. Rohr. I have the 1981 reissue of the 1968 revised edition. It is very clear and will have you drafting anything you want in no time. Also, the clothes are to die for.That dress is wonderful! Kimono sleeves and a six gore aligned with the bodice darts, what could be more perfect?


cindy April 22, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for the helpful suggestions! Keep them coming. I am embarrassed to say that I haven’t come across the word “grading” in sewing until now!


La BellaDonna April 22, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Oh, too funny! I was thinking how much I loved it – of COURSE I loved it! I made it! I had a button-front princess top with a scoop neck (it was one of those jacket/top hybrids) and collar that I used for the bodice, and I made a half-circle skirt. It had slightly leg o’mutton sleeves (one of which I had to piece), and it was lovely! I used a sapphire blue narrow-wale corduroy, and it was very flattering, although it was a little scoopier than I’d meant. I gave it away (sadly) when I lost weight; now that the weight is back, I wish I still had the dress!Of course, I do still have the top. And the skirt was just a half-circle, drawn with a bit of string, so there’s nothing to stop me from making it again.It also doesn’t stop me from wanting THIS pattern! (I’d also gladly take the 36, but I’d rather have a 20/38).


scormeny April 22, 2008 at 1:08 pm

la belladonna, you make the dress you made sound great. I hope you’ll post pictures somewhere we can see — I’m always so inspired at and A Dress A Day when I can see the real clothes on real people.


Deirdre April 22, 2008 at 1:44 pm

Erin:I’ve been on a dress pattern shopping binge for the past 24 hours, so when I read this post, of course I took it upon myself to find you that pattern. Or one remarkably close:Vogue 2960!With a little cardigan, it’s the fraternal twin to your peter pan dress.I thought I’d throw this coat in also, as it’s long and swingy and dress-like, with big buttons and a peter pan collar.


Susan Marie April 22, 2008 at 2:17 pm

That is a wonderful first dress! As a newbie sewer just finishing up her first vintage dress, I feel qualified to comment! That is a dress to enjoy making- and to be proud to wear on completion!


Thoughts on Life and Millinery. April 22, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Fercryinoutloud…why oh why doesn’t Vogue/Simplicity/Butterick hire you to come page through all their historic pattern and create “The Dressaday Dress Collection”, personally selected by the fabulous Erin herself.I mean really, haven’t you already done all that needs to be done for NOED? If needed, we readers could petition the pattern companies to get their acts together and hire you!(and of course you would then be able to sway them to release pattern covers to be used as art…)


Eirlys April 22, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Thoughts On Life And Millinery, I reckon you’re onto something there! We’d all lap it up, wouldn’t we?


Anonymous April 22, 2008 at 5:45 pm

This pattern, in a bust 36 is up for sale at Vintage Martini. (PS, I am not from VM, just a looker)


Joni April 22, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Deirdre, that Butterick coat is fab! When I get a little better at sewing, I’m going to make it up in a home dec. print… somthing with cabbage roses the size of your head… and then I’m going to wear it with cigarette pants and swan around town calling people “Dahling.” I only need to get a little better at sewing first. 😉


See Through Dress April 22, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Very Nice I like it


CatMacGregor April 22, 2008 at 6:40 pm

I second the motion for Erin to have her own line through the Big 4! Imagine the trouble she’d find pilfering thru their archive.


Noile April 22, 2008 at 6:57 pm

Fun dress, Erin! And, Dierdre, that Vogue 2960 is very, very nice. I may need it. Badly.


Tara April 22, 2008 at 7:21 pm

Ok Erin, the very similar pattern I mentioned earlier is Butterick 5753, and I could only find one example of it on the ENTIRE interweb. It’s an itty bitty B32 though. If you want to borrow my B38 after I make it at least once let me know!


Sickofitcindy April 23, 2008 at 4:54 pm

This VERY DRESS is available right now at Vintage Martini. Best of all, it is your size!


jessica April 23, 2008 at 5:32 pm

i second the rec on fit for real people.. it actually does address grading ( from both directions, actually)


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