Have you seen the movie Niagara with Marilyn Monroe? Its a classic. Although that iconic pink dress just might be part of what makes the movie. Pinup Girl Clothing has a dress inspired by Marilyn’s but the keyhole bust paired with a front slit is what stopped me from purchasing one for myself. I don’t mind showing cleavage but I am a firm believer that if you show cleavage you don’t show much thigh. I like the look of their dress on other girls but I guess it is just too much for me. I am also not a huge fan of wiggle skirts with a slit. The slit always seems to ride up and suddenly I am showing a lot more thigh than I bargained for. My favorite pencil skirts either have a kick pleat to allow for room to walk or are stretchy enough to not need a slit, pleat, or back vent.
A couple month’s ago Butterick was having a sale on patterns and most of Gertie’s were $1.99 with the Club membership. So I stocked up! Her B6413 pattern is one that I bought but didn’t take a look at too closely until I saw Modern June Cleaver’s take on it in an teal bandana print. I have no shame in admitting that immediately after seeing the picture of her dress I started looking for teal bandana print fabric for myself. Hello Walmart! Did you know they sold fabric? I didn’t until I found this fabric online. Best believe I snapped up 6 yards from my local store so I could recreate the look. The original pattern is for a pencil skirt but I am not nearly confident enough to figure out how to make a fitted skirt in non-stretch fabric. The difference between my waist and hips is pretty huge (18 inches) so I decided to skip the math and tweaking by making this into a swing dress.
Which is where my trusty B6453 pattern came through. I cut out the bodice and sleeve pieces for B6413. Then cut out the skirt pieces from B6453 adding a couple inches so the skirt length would be 28”. Oh and don’t forget the pocket pieces. I used the B6453 pocket pieces too, because dresses with pockets are LIFE!
I followed the instructions for the bodice and sleeves. Once that was done I made the skirt following the same method in the B6453 instructions and attached the two together. Since the bodice of this is lined, I attached the right sides together for the outside bodice and the skirt. Then I pressed the lining hem under 5/8″and slip stitched the lining to the wrong side of the skirt to fully encapsulated the raw skirt edge.
Overall this was an easy afternoon sew. It took me about 4 ½ hours. The zipper took the longest as it was my first lapped zipper. I had been using invisible zippers prior to this. Now I put lapped zippers on everything! They look so clean. Everyone that has seen me wearing this dress thinks I purchased it. Apparently my sewing skills look markedly improved on this pattern…I think it is the lapped zipper to be honest.
I am pretty obsessed with this dress. I have to force myself not to wear it every weekend. Due to the keyhole bust it is not exactly work appropriate. While my male co-workers may not complain about the extra show of cleavage, this dress doesn’t really scream Insurance Professional!
On a side note, I read a lot of reviews where girls said they couldn’t get a bra to work with the cutout. I wear a 36 DD/F depending on the time of the month and forgoing a bra doesn’t work for me. So to get around the bra issue I created a tie for the bust rather than using the loop from the pattern. I cut a piece of fabric into a 7” long by 3.5” wide rectangle. I folded it in half lengthwise (hotdog method for you that did this in Kindergarten). Then rounded the edge away from the fold on both sides. I sewed it right sides together leaving a 1” gap in the center. Turned the fabric out and stitched the opening closed. Once my tie was completed I put on the dress wearing my normal bra. I tightened the straps a little so they will stay in an off-shoulder position. Then loop the tie under the center of the bra, between the cups, and tie it around the gathered bust of the dress. The tie lifts my bra up in the center so it is hidden while wearing the dress. I double knot it and go about my day. The only issue you might run into is when taking your dress off you have to untie the bust to get your bra back off. But that is a minor annoyance in lieu of going braless in my opinion.
So if any of you are waffling on making this dress but the bra issue was part of the cause, fear no more. If you don’t like the look of the tie and really want the looped look with a bra you could try adding a button and buttonhole to the loop pattern piece. That way you can hook your bra in the same manner but keep the overall keyhole aesthetic.
Do you guys have trouble with going braless? If so, what are some way that you modify clothes so you can wear a bra? If you do go braless, do you prefer it? Let me know in the comments below.
I will be doing a follow up post on this pattern where I actually make the pencil skirt version. Stay tuned for more details.