Go Make the Betty Dress!
The Betty Dress pattern is by Lisa Comfort and her company Sew Over It based in London, UK. I love these vintage style patterns. If you have ever wanted to sew with vintage patterns, you should definitely check out Sew Over It patterns. Many vintage sewing patterns don’t have markings but instead have various notches and small shapes cut into the tissue, making them a little more difficult to work with.
Because Sew Over It is out of the UK, US sewists, will need to convert some centimeter measurements to inches, or use centimeters.
The patterns are printed on tissue paper. All sizes 8 – 20 are nested and included in one pattern. Pattern instructions are in a booklet form with illustrations and a few tips.
Sew Over It says the Betty Dress pattern is suitable for an advanced beginner. I agree with that. It is an easy make but the facing and the invisible zipper require slightly more advanced skills. A beginner could totally handle it with a can-do spirit and a little help. (Be fearless!)
The dress is adorable. The pattern is well-drafted. The instructions are clear.
Beginners will love the Betty Dress sewalong on the Sew Over It website. The sewalong walks you through making the dress from start to finish. However, I didn’t check out the sewalong until after I finished the dress, so my review is based on sewing using the instruction booklet alone.
I love the minimalist markings on the pattern pieces. I like the way the notches are drawn because it’s how I always cut my notches: I simply snip into the seam allowance at every notch. The darts are represented differently than we are used to seeing in the Big 4 patterns, but it works well. I like that they are marked with notches at the cutting line and only a circle at the dart point. That way you just fold and match the notches, then fold to the point, pin and mark one side with a water-soluble marker.
What made me the happiest is that the pattern required minimal fit adjustment. I used my high bust measurement to select the size. My high bust measurement is 34.5 inches. On the size chart, size 8 is a 33″ bust and size 10 is a 35″ bust. I went with the 10. After trying on my first bodice mock-up, I determined the waist was a perfect fit. Which NEVER happens. The front looked pretty good, except it was a little short for me. There were a lot of draglines in the back, so I knew I would need to shorten the back. I lengthened the front by 5/ 8″ and shortened the back by 1″. I also took ¼ inch off front and back shoulder seams.
I didn’t need to make a mock-up of the skirt because the waist of the bodice was a perfect fit; therefore, the waist of the skirt would be a perfect fit. The Betty Dress has a full circle skirt so I didn’t need to check the fit at my hips.
Here’s a tip for trying on your bodice mock-up. I sew only one of the side seams and sew the back seam. I draw the stitching line on the edges of the open side seam. When I try it on, I can reach to my side and match up the side seam and pin along the stitching lines. It reminds me that I should do more yoga. Or that I should do yoga. But at least I can accurately check the fit without needing help and without having to sew a zipper into my mock-up.
Because this was my first experience with a Sew Over It pattern, I sewed a mock-up of the size 8 also just to be sure I chose the correct size. I did. The 8 was too snug for me.
I was disappointed in myself for not spending a little more time on the fitting issues with the back. Taking 1″ from the length made an arch out of the waist in the back that is a bit too obvious for my liking. The fitting issues were not caused by the pattern but rather the fact that I have one shoulder higher than the other, so I should have adjusted the two back pieces separately to account for that and taken less from the total back length.
Did I tell you I love this pattern? It has so many possibilities. I wonder how it would look in black velvet with embellishments?
Go make it!