Subversive Femme

I can’t afford a real Shaheen… (Butterick B6019)

So I made my own!

First up – apologies for the rushed nature of the photos (yep, there’s still some pins on the straps) but it was about to pour down with rain and this was my only chance to get photos for a while!

1950s alfred shaheen plus size large gertie butterick B6019 review






















The Gertie/Butterick B6019 is finally done, and what a journey. This pattern is not for the faint-hearted.
I nearly gave up twice, but in the end it’s a lovely dress.













It really needed a bolero, so I made the this cute little one from Butterick 6087, circa 1952. The bolero was the exact opposite of the dress – super easy and fit perfectly out of the envelope.
















  • Difficulty – bloody hard! This dress was the most fiddly thing I have ever made.
  • The Pattern – I don’t think it was written very well. A lot of the instructions are counter-intuitive to an experienced sewer, and I still can’t figure out why I was asked to do certain things.
  • The Fit – I went by the finished measurements on the printed pattern, and not the envelope measurements (i.e. the envelope was telling me to make a size 18 bust and 22 hip – I made a 16 bust and 20 hip). I do think the final fit is flattering, and if I followed the envelope sizes I would be swimming in this dress.
The good?
The lined bra cups – that was a neat idea!
I also liked the shirring, it was my first time and I didn’t know it was that easy to do.
The meh?
Where do I start…
1. There’s no way two bits of flimsy boning are going to keep a D-cup up. Ever.
2. The skirt was really short! I added two inches to the hem, and wished I added four instead.
3. The skirt doesn’t offer enough coverage for my liking, i.e. the split is a tad revealing.
4. My skirt pleat doesn’t look as dramatic as the pattern’s example.
5. I had to unpick certain parts (the skirt + bodice, the sash etc) and re-sew a few times to get the fit or shape right.
Lengthened the skirt by two inches.
Added crossover straps.
Sway back adjustment.
Here’s some close ups, firstly the front:
You can see the bust cups really stand up on their own.
The back:
The shirring worked really well.
Here’s a close up of the bolero:
The fabric made me think of an Alfred Shaheen tiki-dress when I saw it.
It’s from Spotlight, and is a traditional hand-printed cotton from the Babbarra Women’s Centre. They’re empowering indigenous artists by printing their fabric designs commercially and giving them money from the sales.
Mine is a lovely brown, ochre and cream design called Waterlily Flower, by Deborah Wurrkidj.
The fabric was really tricky to pattern match, and I think it took me two hours to get it right.

I’m also going to let you in on a little secret – I sew these little bra clips (from Spotlight too) into my dresses so I can wear strapless bras without them falling down. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone!













Well, I’m glad it’s finally finished, and this outfit is coming to Viva Las Vegas with me.
If you’ve been thinking of sewing this pattern, definitely give it a go but don’t get down-hearted if it’s a bit of a struggle. Unpick, resew, keep going – you’ll have a killer dress in the end.

Thanks guys!


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No Comments

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    How do the bra clips work? I don't get it

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    yes, please, I would like to know too.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Hi Kate and Ronnie! Most convertible strapless bras have this little loops on them, for attaching the bra straps?
    I just put these bra clips into the loops, and the dress holds my bra up.

    If that doesn't explain it, let me know and I'll add photos 😉 xx

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Well it seems that all of your struggling has been worth it because the dress looks fantastic! The fit looks really good too. Though I think this is one of the few dress types that anyone can pull off, it looks exceptionally flattering on you!

  • Reply
    Jessica Cangiano
    March 15, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    This is every bit as marvelous – and then some!!! I can't begin to foot the bill for the real deal either, so I can totally relate to your title and desire to create your own (flat out stunning) version. Love this awesome dress and bolero – it looks the AS part to a tee!!!

    ♥ Jessica

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Looks great! And the clip idea is fabulous. Those stupid things never stay up. That bolero is just perfect with it!

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Great dress and bolero. I've made a skirt and (wedding) dress from Babbarra fabric from Nomad Art in Darwin. I didnt know it was in Spotlight. Y6148ours is a lovely print.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    Wow, awesome job! I've been thinking of trying out this pattern so at least now i know what I'm up against! I'll have to check out Spotlight for some of these gorgeous fabrics too.

  • Reply
    March 16, 2014 at 12:09 am

    You did such a marvelous job! So figure flattering and you certainly know how to grade to fit your body. I'd like to be able to do this one day. I love the bolero you added. It's so perfectly suited with your dress. The piqued (hope I'm saying that term correctly) sleeves are so cute. Well done!

  • Reply
    Debs - debslosingit.com
    March 16, 2014 at 1:12 am

    The is brilliant with the bra clips! As an F cup, I struggle with this more often then I care to think about. I'll have to try this on my own work. 😀

  • Reply
    March 16, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Gorgeous! I have another repro pattern that I want to use for a tiki themed dress. I loved the look of this dress but I might have to pass on it with all the problems you ran into.

  • Reply
    Sandra Cox
    March 16, 2014 at 3:13 am


  • Reply
    March 16, 2014 at 4:14 am

    Wow I am really impressed with this dress – you did a wonderful job.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    It looks absolutely gorgeous on you! Sorry to hear it was such a pain to sew, as it makes me more hesitant to try it (although I couldn't resist the pattern when it came out). What a bummer. But the result on you is delightful!

  • Reply
    March 19, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I think you and I have the same Formica table…that pattern looks awfully familiar! The dress is fabulous even if it was a royal pain in the ass to make. It'll be great at Viva!

  • Reply
    Grace Alexandrou
    March 20, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Omg the bra clips idea!!! What an amazing idea thanks so much for sharing, im a g cup and although I have a good strapless they could sit higher. Im going to sew in a few to dresses I have now and see how it goes thanks!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2014 at 5:42 am

    this combo is wonderful. i love the print and colour palette so much.
    i would wear it right away (even ignoring that the colours wouln'd go that good with my yellow-ish skin).

  • Reply
    April 14, 2014 at 11:51 am

    it's just perfect for you. I love it !!

  • Reply
    April 29, 2014 at 6:22 am

    That looks great! I have been eying off that collection of fabrics – what a wonderful initiative! Can't wait to hear about VLV. And there will be a parcel on its way to you soon! Finally cleaned out my sewing room x

  • Reply
    Ashley P
    June 3, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Beautiful work!!!! I love the dress! Can you opt to not have the protruding piece down the front? I'm just curious if it's essential.

  • Reply
    June 4, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Hi Ashley – you can make the dress without, not a problem 🙂

  • Reply
    August 13, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    You just convinced me to make this dress. You look amazing. Awesome fabric choice + bolero!

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