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Sep 072016

I’ve been trying to expand my shirtdress repertoire lately; my last post was on McCall’s 6891, and soon I hope to post a couple versions of the Deer and Doe Bruyere that I’ve  made (which I know is supposed to be a blouse, but I’ve lengthened it to be a dress).  And let’s not forget about the Grainline Alder, which was actually my first shirtdress!  McCall’s 6696 is wonderful, but it’s good to explore the wider world of shirtdresses.  With that goal in mind, today I bring you Butterick 6333.

butterick-6333-frontOne of the issues I was hoping to address with this pattern is the huge collar of 6696.  As you can see above, though, the collar still looks too big.  I compared the two collar pattern pieces and found that the Butterick was only slightly smaller than the McCall’s.  Part of the problem is my short neck, so others may have fewer collar issues than me.  butterick-6333-side As you can see, I used the slash pockets from the Belladone rather than the side seam pockets the pattern comes with.  I so prefer this style of pocket (and I apparently love them so much that I didn’t get any pictures with my hands out of the pockets . . . whoops!).  In terms of other substitutions, I used the skirt from McCall’s 6696.  I think the skirt for 6333 is a little fuller, but the 6696 skirt is plenty full for me, especially in the obnoxious Chicago wind, which threatens daily to show my underthings to passersby.butterick-6333-front-2 butterick-6333-back

My fabric is quilting cotton from Art Gallery.  The collection is Bari J’s Millie Fleur and the colorway is Wisteria.  I had sworn off quilting cotton a while back, but I’ve been relaxing my standards when I find a good Art Gallery or Cotton + Steel print because I find their quilting cottons to have a better hand than is typical.  I couldn’t resist this one when I spotted it in a local quilt shop while at a Chicago Sewing Social.butterick-6333-closeup

As you can maybe see above, there aren’t any buttonholes on this dress.  That’s because I just sewed the two button bands together and then sewed the buttons through both layers.  This dress is tighter than some of the others that I pull over my head, but it’s still quite possible to do it without unbuttoning it.  The tighter fit is more flattering to my eye, but increases the likelihood of bust area gappage when I sit.  I can eliminate that by just sewing up the plackets and not bothering with buttonholes.  I don’t think it’s noticeable from a distance.  I like to think that rather than people saying, “Wait a second!  Is her dress missing buttonholes?!”, they are instead saying, “Wow, how did that busty girl find a shirtdress that fit her so well?!”

Since this is my first version of this dress, there are some things that did not come out perfectly, despite my doing a muslin beforehand (I never skip muslins!).  The next time I make this dress, I’ll:

-Add some length to the front bodice so the waistband sits lower.

-Cut the tops of the front bodice pieces and button bands on an angle so there isn’t as much fabric at the center front.  I had mentioned doing this in a prior blog post, and I tried it out on my most recent shirtdress (a Bruyere/6696 mashup), and it turned out perfectly.  There is less fabric at the neck to overwhelm me, but the angle is very subtle so it’s not noticeable.  It just looks like the dress fits better.  You can see in the closeup above that there is a crease right next to the button band, especially on the right side.  That fabric can basically be taken out through a slash and overlap on the pattern, which is what I’ll do.

-Make the collar smaller.  I just keep on shaving off more on these shirtdress collars!  One day there will barely be anything left!

-Narrow the shoulders a bit.  It’s not really visually evident, but the front is especially wide at the shoulder and I find that the fabric digs into my arms there, which makes this dress less comfortable than my other dresses.  I’ll probably take out half of what I need to take out at the center front piece along the princess seam and the other half on the side front piece at the shoulder so it’s distributed more evenly across the front at the shoulder, if that makes sense.  Otherwise I’m afraid my side front piece would end up being so narrow that it would look odd because it’s a pretty significant amount that I think I’ll need to take out.

Despite those things that didn’t come out quite right, I do definitely love this dress.  The fit on the princess seams is excellent, and I think it’s an improvement over the bodice fit on 6696 for me.  I’m looking forward to making it again!

Oct 212013

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.


My first version.

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.


Second version, sans belt.

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.


Second version, avec belt.

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.


Side view, aussi avec belt.

As the pattern is written, the back is supposed to have a cutout, like so.

butterick 5456 envelope

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!


Boo, unfortunate gappage!

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!