Breaking it a little bit: Kaste butterfly sleeve dress

True to my word I am making more from the Breaking the Pattern book because I’m still feeling the vibe. The latest one I decided to tackle was the Kaste dress. This dress is so pretty and at first, it was one of those which I thought, “It’s really too pretty, it’s definitely not me.” I’ve always leant towards the corporate look for workwear, mostly trousers, a little bit androgynous and definitely not girly. But somehow, these days while some habits are hard to break, I find myself ready to try new things. It was not long ago that I caught myself thinking, I won’t bother with Indie patterns, they’re for young women. I also had my pattern diet to satisfy – if you can seek satisfaction on a diet, rather satisficing I think, but that’s the Economist in me. However, this dress and this book is tapping into my femininity, so I felt I had to make Kaste.

Simple elegance

The cocktail dress looks like a shape I’ve favoured for years, I like the way it curves to accentuate the body. The butterfly sleeves take this into a whole new ballpark. They elevate this dress into special occasion wear or frosting. I wouldn’t normally pick this as I’ve tried not to keep making things which won’t be worn much because they are being saved for best, but this dress instantly took up residence in my imagination. I prefer V or scooped necklines to give me fewer chins, so I used the V neck of the cocktail dress combined with the flouncy butterfly sleeves.

The lining will be the cocktail dress view and the outside is the butterfly sleeve view

I’m still trying hard to #shopmystash and my mind fell on some fabric that I thought would be great for this. At some point, I seem to have had a thing for buying sheers. I have about half a dozen 2m lengths of beautiful but uncharacteristic flimsies in my stash. I vaguely remember them but can’t quite recall what I was intending to make with them. Orange seems to be on my palate colour-wise currently, so I thought this fabric would be the one. It’s a crinkly chiffon (?) gauze (?) with a navy abstract flower pattern. After years of stroking, this fabric finally had a calling.

Pretty pretty

I decided I needed to make a toile – again not usually me but the design is quite fitted and it’s woven fabric, therefore not as forgiving as a knit if the size is out.

I used a charmeuse which I had bought for my yet to be started underwear empire. It was the same weight and drape as the chiffon so would imitate it well. I then had the brainwave that, if successful, it could form the lining of the dress. Hence my bit of pattern breaking, the version in the book has a facing but no lining. I used size 7 which is what I had used for my Ruska dresses.

Milo modelling my Kaste toile

When I started to prepare the fabric I measured it and realised it was not 150 cm wide. Normally I base everything on that width and have a good rough estimate fixed in my mind of how much fabric will be enough for certain garments. I thought about the voluminous sleeves and thought uh-oh, I’m gonna run out of fabric. At 135cm this is narrow for fabric so I started thinking of solutions, there was no way I was going to find any more of this material, I bought it many years ago from I don’t know where. So I would have to try to find something similar, maybe plain orange? Or something contrasting? That slowed down the process again. I’d resigned myself to having little sleeves which would just cover my shoulders. However, after a bit of juggling, I managed to make it work and found I had a piece big enough to cut out my sleeves in all their glory.

That ruler is 60cm long, so I’m chuffed to get my sleeves out of this narrow material.
The beautifully intricate construction of this dress is a joy.

I was really pleased to be able to delve into my presser foot collection. I bought one of those 32 piece sets and immediately decided I’d never use most of them. Anyway, the floaty sleeve needed a narrow hem, so I used one of the two narrow hem feet from the kit. Fortuitously, the sewing muses were with me and the hem went perfectly. Normally, I have to fight with it a bit, either it doesn’t want to pick up the fabric or it drops it halfway. I did have some near mishaps but the finished result was great.

The narrow hem foot played nice for a change.
Attaching the sleeve to the body
First impressions

Once the sleeves were attached the next step was to join the side seams. At this point, I joined the lining and dress together. As one is simply a facsimile of the other it was mostly straightforward. I pinned them together, using the seams as a guide. Then I stitched them using the overlocker. There was a bit of a struggle closing the armholes because the sleeves have to end up on the right side. To be honest I’m not entirely sure how I did it because the first went in perfectly and the second went wrong. It’s a bit of a take on the burrito method because I had to roll the sleeve up inside, stitch and then turn everything inside out. It certainly challenged my spatial awareness.

Marrying the lining and dress together

After the garment was joined, The finishing touches were inserting an invisible zip in the dress and attaching the lining to that. I pinned the lining to the zipper tape and stitched that on the regular machine. I’m very pleased with how this turned out. Is there such as thing as a sewgasm?

Sometimes when you sew it makes you drool, This zip insertion really gives me the sewgasm.

Also, bagging the lining; I made the lining 2.5 cm shorter than the dress and then joined the two hems intending the drop to make the hem form naturally as the outside would be longer. It kind of worked but the outside seemed much longer than I intended so the turn-up is more like 5 cm.

After the joy of the sleeves, this invisible zip may have caused my sweariest moment.

One thing I’ve noticed about this fabric is that it doesn’t seem to hold a crease, which will mostly be good but means I have something of a bubble hem going on rather than a neat crease. I can live with this.

Oh gosh, she’s a beauty!

I’m pretty smitten with this dress in all its flimsy, floaty glory. It had its first outing on our anniversary date and it’s coming on hols to be my birthday dress.

With the Ruskas, and a couple yet to be revealed, this now makes seven garments from Breaking the Pattern and I’ve still got more in mind. Definitely a good investment.

Who else has made this dress, I’d love to see how it turned out.

Thanks for dropping by.

About Elaine Batiste

I'm a teacher, a lifelong learner, a traveller, a maker, an adventurer and a 'want to do more' kind of gal.

4 Responses

  1. Jane

    Just received BTP and have to say your version of the dress and hand printed fabric is one of the best. Thanks for the walk-through construction which is always helpful. I really need to make this dress some day! Best wishes Jane 🇬🇧

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.