I Made the New “Gertie” Dress!

February 24, 2013

Hello, Ladies!

I’m sure you were all as thrilled as I was when Butterick released their early summer collection last Wednesday – mainly because of the pattern shown below!  Isn’t is so exciting that there’s finally a repro pattern with a shelf bust design?  I had been waiting for something like this for years.

Well, as you can probably imagine, I called the Butterick orderline at 7:00 am the next morning and had them ship it Express mail to my house!  It was not supposed to show up until Monday, but it arrived on Saturday instead!  So all day Saturday was spent cutting out the pattern and fabric, then constructing this really couture style dress.  The only I wanted to change was the shelf bust – it was quite a bit lower than how I like to wear my dresses, but there was another reason, too!  When you go to all that work to get the bias cut pleats just right, shouldn’t people see a little bit more of the pleating?  So I doubled the height of the bust pieces, and I’m really thrilled with the way it turned out!  There are tons of 1950s patterns and dresses that feature a more crossover version of the shelf bust, so this version I made is completely authentic.

I also added teeny tiny cap sleeves made from a white embroidered organza I had on hand.  It’s a good thing I keep a serious stash of fabric and trims!  The fabric itself is a 100% cotton sateen, and it has a lovely crisp feel.

The skirt was a breeze to construct, though I wish I’d had my crinoline to wear with it.  It’s not that I don’t own a crinoline petticoat, it’s just that the petticoat is currently at a certain sewing magazine’s headquarters being photographed for an upcoming issue….  Let’s just say you will be seeing it sometime this summer in a magazine we all know and love. 🙂

The dress itself is excellently thought out – I loved the couture details such as boning in the bodice, and it fits very firmly yet without being too tight.  I did do quite a bit of fitting to get it just right, but it was well worth the extra effort!

You can read all about this project plus my pattern review here on my blog!  I was so thrilled to get this version up and blogged about just three days after the design was released, and I hope it inspires lots of other ladies to use the pattern, too!

Happy sewing,

Katrina @ Edelweiss Patterns

  1. OMG, I just love this! I like the addition for the larger shelf bust. And the little lace cap sleeves is too sweet. Well done. I can’t wait to make one for myself.

    1. Thank you, Melanie! I like the larger shelf bust, too. Not only is it a little more “everyday” than the cocktail party style on the pattern cover, it also lets people see way more of the lovely pleating in the pattern!

      Happy sewing!

  2. This is just wonderful. I was looking at the lovely photos on the Butterick site and wondering if it was possible to add more coverage up top. I love the wee little cap sleeves, too.

    1. Thank you, Joni! Yes, most of the 1950s gowns I’ve seen that had shelf busts seemed to have much more fabric than the Butterick cover. There are lots of photos of Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, Donna Reed, and others who all had various types of shelf bust dresses closer to the version I made, and I think it is much more “hourglassy” that way! The more puffy the pleating is the smaller the rest of you looks, ideally.

  3. Beautiful! I’m dying to make this dress for summer so it’s good to see a version of it made up so soon. I had the same thoughts about the shelf bust though- such an important detail of the design should be more prominent. Plus I have a very high bustline so nearly always have to raise the neckline on things. Was it a fairly easy thing to alter?

    1. Hi Ginny!

      It wasn’t too hard to alter – I just took a look at the bust pieces and figured out how much I needed to lengthen it, then I added quite a few inches to the neckline edge of the bust pieces, following the angle of the lower part. Once it was cut out, all I had to do was continue the pleating all the way to the edge.

      You will notice that of course you have to make the bodice crossover since the pieces are so big that they will automatically overlap, but overall it wasn’t too tricky. It takes a little extra time, yes, but was well worth the trouble!

  4. I love the alterations you have made! I loved the dress as is but I also prefer a bit more coverage and do not wear a ton of sleeveless clothes so it was great to see these changes in action (I am more of a visual person haha). I was hesitant to buy the pattern (I have a habit of buying pretty patterns and later realizing it is not something I would be comfortable wearing) but I am definitely going to buy it now.

    1. Oh, good! I was hoping that people would see how this pattern can be a totally appropriate dress, and since the rest of the style was so gorgeous it would be a shame to throw this design out just because the neckline needed some extra fabric. 🙂

  5. How fantastic! I positively drooled over that pattern when Gertie blogged about it. I think yours is the first ‘civilian’ dress I’ve seen made up from the pattern, and absolutely gorgeous it is too!

    I am still waiting for it to hit the shops in the UK 🙁

    Linda xx

  6. Beautiful work. I like how you extended the shelf bust not only for the modesty but also to see all that gorgeous pleating!! The lace sleeves are a wonderful addition too.

  7. Did you see that Gertie posted the straps that extends down below the bust is supposed to be folded down and that eliminates the puckering/twisting at the shoulder straps?
    You did an amazing job by the way.

  8. Great to see this pattern made up (I have one on its way to me through the post) and I too love your alteration to the bustline – it would have been too revealing for me too.

  9. I just posted a link to this on Gertie’s own Facebook page. You did an amazing job and I’m sure loads of women will be happy that you were able to adapt the bodice so easily. It really was a bit too low.

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