Today I’m going to talk about Butterick 5456. It’s getting really cold here in Chicago, so it feels inappropriate to be showing you such light, summery dress. But this can easily be paired with tights, boots, and cardigan, so just use your imagination!
Most of the pictures below are of my second version of this dress. The first photo is of the first one I made from a beefy knit print I got from Gorgeous Fabrics paired with a weird beefy knit solid from Joann’s. The fabrics were too thick and didn’t drape properly, so I didn’t like the dress very much. It was nice to slip on and head out the door to run some errands, but I always felt like it was too casual or just kinda strange, so I didn’t like to wear it to anything where I wanted to look nice.
I knew I wanted to make a second version in a drapier fabric, but that desire was solidified in August when I visited my mother and saw that she had a dress from Macy’s that looked exactly like the pattern envelope! It was such a strange coincidence. Hers was obviously made out of the proper kind of fabric, and it made me want one that would look better than the one I had.
This fabric is also from Gorgeous Fabrics. It’s an ITY knit, and it’s a nicer one. I’ve sewn some ITY knits that were terrible – too clingy or had a squicky-feeling finish. This one is nice and smooth, and it skims the body without clinging because of the smooth finish.
After I made the dress and tried it on, I felt like the all-over pattern didn’t give my waist enough definition. I thought it would look better with a belt, but I didn’t own any. For real – zero belts. I used to think I couldn’t pull off a belt, but I used to be stupid. Belts are awesome. I really wanted to wear this dress for the first day of classes (and I finished it at like midnight the night before, haha), so I made myself a fabric belt out of some aqua fabric I had lying around. I just tied it around my waist and I thought it looked sort of stupid, but it was better than nothing. I ended up getting tons of compliments on it, so what do I know? I’ve since bought a real belt, and here it is with the dress.
I think the belt looks better pretty much from every angle. I have a habit of buying tons of patterned fabric, but as I’m learning, I really need to think about the style of the dress I intend to make because patterns hide a lot of fun details, and as in this case, can make me look waistless.
As the pattern is written, the back is supposed to have a cutout, like so.
But I didn’t like that feature because I intended to wear this in the winter as well as the summer, and I thought the ties would look weird with a cardigan. So I just made the back pattern piece straight so that it goes all the way to my neck. Easy peasy.
The only problem with this dress is that if I move certain ways, you can see the side of my bra. It’s not such a huge deal unless I lift my arms certain ways, but when I’m teaching, I have to lift my arms to write on the board, so whoops! A black bra minimizes this, but it was easier to show you the problem with a lighter-colored bra. I could fix this by raising the bottom of the armhole, but I feel like I have really good mobility in the arms because of its size, so I’d have to muslin this to be sure I was happy with the fit. Also, because these are cut-on sleeves, I’d have to be sure that changing the armhole doesn’t mess with the fit at the bust. I’m really not the biggest fan of cut-on sleeves because they don’t tend to play well with large busts, but they sure are easy to sew!
The dress is constructed with a self-lined bodice, which you can see below. Part of the problem with my earlier version was the fabric was bulky to begin with, and then self-lining it doubled the bulkiness. This one is so much better in that regard. The self-lining makes for a pretty clean finish with the elastic, which is nice. I just left the edge of the elastic casing raw because this knit isn’t going to ravel, plus the raw edge is a lot softer than serger stitches.
This was the third thing I hemmed with my new coverstitch machine (I have a Janome CoverPro), and it was a nightmare – I had to rip out the stitches a few times because the hem kept rippling and it was making me crazy. I think I eventually ended up taping the hem up with wonder tape so it would stay put, then running the cover stitch over that. I guess it ended up looking pretty decent here! You can see it from the right side and the wrong side below.
I’m still learning about how to coverstitch – it’s really hard to get everything lined up properly so you’re catching the edge of the fabric. I’ve been using a stack of post it notes on the bed of the machine so I can run the fabric along the edge, but it’s not perfect because floppier fabrics like this one don’t necessarily lie flat and will bubble up against the post it notes, meaning that the edge is no longer exactly underneath the needles. I’ll get the hang of it soon enough!
I’m in the middle of about 5 different projects right now, because I’m freaking out about getting enough clothes for fall, so I hope to have lots to show you in the coming days!