At half term, as I worked towards fulfilling my Personal Pledge, I traced off the Bettine pattern that I bought a couple of months ago. I’d managed to get it as part of a bundle with the Fifi for £20.
For my first version I cut the size 5; which is the size I made my three Megan dresses. I chose some pretty fabric from quite near the top of my stash, that I’d found in a half price sale. I think it was £6pm. The gold in the pattern had a metallic shine, so it was very pretty and quite different for me.
The make came together quickly and the pattern and instructions were easy to follow. I made the version without pockets but added cuffs and tabs. I used mother of pearl buttons to finish the tabs.
After trying on, I wished I had chosen a different fabric for my first attempt. The dress fit nicely on top but was tighter than I would usually wear from my waist downwards. Not totally unwearable, but not wearable very often, if you see what I mean.
For my next version, I used some Michael Miller that I had also got online and heavily reduced. I had had it in my mind for a work-appropriate dress for quite a while. I still used the size 5 pattern I had traced off, but used my Frixion markers to add an inch or so to what I would cut out. I also added a couple of inches length, which, come to think of it, I’ll also do when I make my next Megan.
On this version, I experimented for the first time with the overlock stitch on my machine. Again I left off the pockets and added cuffs and tabs, this time using two small mother of pearl buttons on each tab. The buttons are from a small box sent for me from my Nannan. They came from a small factory in the village I grew up, though she must have owned them from much earlier. As a little girl, I remember reaching under the factory fence and collecting the inky off cuts of mother of pearl, edged with sharp crescents where the buttons had been stamped out. The quality and weight of this fabric meant that the tulip shaped skirt was accentuated on this make, but so much so that I felt it drew too much attention to my hips and thigh area. Before I wore it, I trimmed off some of the curve from each side to straighten the shape of the skirt.
Next I decided to mix things up a bit. I didn’t particularly want to improve the fitting (I added the extra inches to width and length, like last time) but felt this pattern was a good opportunity to make use of one of the fabric sets my dad brought me back from Myanmar. As luck would have it, there was *just* enough of the plain purple fabric to cut the bodice. I made the facings, cuffs and tabs in the patterned fabric, and this time finished it with two square bevelled bronze buttons gifted to me by Nat in Alabama.
Finally, for now, on the last day of half term, I sewed up my fourth Bettine. I decided to mix things up a little, in the form of adding pockets and using French seams rather than overlock stitch. I used a viscose I bought fairly cheaply at the end of the summer, at a cost of around £3pm.
The pockets meant I had to think about the make more, as they were a different style from any I’ve made before, but they turned out well and I was very happy with the fit and finish. This and the Michael Miller navy one are probably my joint favourites.
I’ve already worn my second, third and fourth versions. I think they’re smart enough to be work appropriate but pretty enough to wear on weekends. The sleeves mean they are that bit warmer for the winter, and they all work well with tights. I’m not much of a fan of bare legs anyway, even in the height of summer.
This is the most versions I’ve ever made of a pattern, which I think means it’s my first TNT. I think that my adjustments and chosen elastic length mean that my Bettines fit slightly differently from some of the other versions I’ve seen online, but I think that’s the beauty of making your own things, you can (literally) tailor them to suit your shape and preference.
I’m now running low on 3m lengths of fabric, so whilst there may be a short delay before I can make another, the fact that I enjoy both making and wearing Bettines means there will definitely be more to come.