Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Butterick 5451, Big Collar Wrap Dress

B5451 Thumbnail

I love a wrap dress and I love drama, so when I saw Butterick 5451 I had to have it. I have generally liked the styles of "The Cut Line" line of patterns. It took me forever to figure out that the name means that they sell you an envelope with a pretty bare bones pattern in it (no sleeves for this one) that can be as a top, a tunic, or a dress, depending on where you cut it off.

This is one of the fabrics I bought from the bins at London Textile during PR Weekend Philly. The remnants were all $3/yd. I think this one is a double sided acetate, though I can't be sure about the fiber content. It was as bad as sewing with faux fur--every cut resulted in tiny little fibers that went *everywhere*. I've never seen any fabric like it in person. The right side is a crinkle off white with dark polka dots, and the wrong side is a smoother textured gray with off white polka dots. The two layers are bonded together at each polka dot and loose in between. I had about 2 1/2 yards of this fabric, and had to cut the undercollar of a contrast gray from stash. I sewed this dress in February to participate in the Stash Contest but just didn't get around to reviewing it!

Saks.com - Marc by Marc Jacobs - Silk Dots Top In using the two-sided fabric, I was loosely inspired by this Marc Jacobs top. I like the way you see both fabrics, but he doesn't go too far. Going too far is a real problem of mine. My natural instincts for matchy-matchy and cutesy-wootsy constantly require tempering by my inner grownup. My inner grownup isn't very persuasive (you should hear its response to the alarm clock).

I might have gone a little overboard here (hey, at least I didn't turn up the hem to have dark at the bottom like I was considering). I definitely wanted the collar in the dark side because it is hard for my pale self to wear cream. I figured I couldn't just have the collar on the reverse side because it would look rather abrupt, so I also planned for the ties to be dark. Then I got the idea in my head for a contrast turn back cuff, for which I used the pattern piece from BWOF 11-2007-104, a wrap top I've been wanting to make for 2 years. In the end, I might have been better doing the tie in cream, but I did enjoy making the most of this unusual fabric. I definitely wanted it to be a wrap dress so if the wind stirs the front overlap the dark side would show there, too.

Small Bust Adjustment (SBA) I started with my usual adjustments, small bust and broad back adjustment. This one started with a GIANT original bust dart, 3 inches across at the bottom. I narrowed that dart and took some width out of the crossover, per my usual SBA practice. Larger-busted ladies take note, I think this line is not drafted for a B cup.

I used the sleeve from Butterick 5321, after checking to make sure this one didn't have a cutaway shoulder. It didn't, and the sleeve fit perfectly.

Extra Length Pinned Out The pattern directions want you to finish the neckline with bias tape over the collar, which normally I would do but here I didn't want to interrupt the print. So I turned under and topstitched the outer collar.

After beautifully installing the collar, this happened. Although I shortened the crossover neckline by about an inch on each side, the neckline was a DISASTER. Unfortunately, this photo doesn't really capture the original neckline, but trust me, it was obscene and unwearable. So huge and frustrating.

So I slept on it, and the next day ripped out my beautiful topstitching, unpicked the serging (ugh) and the stitching for the collar from about 3 inches from the bottom all the way around to the other side.

Darts to Shorten Neckline Then I put three darts on each side of the neckline above the bust to shorten the neckline and added a seam at the center back of the collar, taking out two inches from each side. I was pleased with how well the darts worked. I have another dress (a Butterick too, as I recall) that I'm going to have to do this treatment on.

I had already taken out 1 inch so that is a total of 3 inches of shortening for the neckline. And it is still low. I had to sew in a hook and thread eye (thank goodness for black hooks and eyes!) to keep it closed at a work-appropriate level, which is the sewist equivalent of admitting defeat.

Opening for Tie in French Seam To make sure that I wouldn't be shedding hundreds of tiny fibers every time I wore this dress I used French seams everywhere except the shoulder. Because the fabric is kind of flimsy I wanted to reinforce the shoulder with ribbon and I didn't want to try that in a French seam, although it seems theoretically possible. For the tie opening, I used the serger the finish the opening edges before sewing and then skipped the opening on both passes of the French seam.

The hem gave me so much grief in marking. The fabric almost behaves as though it's on the bias so I pinned and hung it and then pinned again and could not get it quite right (I've never mastered the art of pinning a hem on a dress form so I was doing all this on my body). I finally declared it good enough and pressed and hemmed, because I just couldn't deal with it anymore!

Unfortunately, I am not wild about this dress. I know objectively it is cute and I got a million compliments on it when I wore it. But the neckline is still wider/lower than I would prefer and the wonky hem is fresh in my mind. There is a saggy pouchiness under the arms that I suspect is related to a small bust. But I don't think that taking in the side seams is going to help so I'm just going to have to live with the saggy bunching. I am hoping these annoyances will fade with time (they usually do).

On the plus side for this pattern, it is well-drafted. It's just not for my body. The collar installed beautifully (the first time) and I love the width of the front skirt. The underlap is very wide and there is little danger of flashing even when a gust of wind blows the overlap open.

The weather seems to be getting warmer (don't want to to jinx it!), so this is the tail end of cool weather sewing. I still have many projects in mind and I have way more warm weather than cool weather clothes, but I don't like cold weather and just can't stand sewing for it much longer!

B5451
Because the end result is a cute dress despite all its failings, I need to get this pattern out of my sewing room lest I decide to make it again, forgetting how much I hate the fit of the bodice. If I want this type of dress again I'll go back to Butterick 5320, the Maggy London puffy collar wrap dress, and use only the under-collar pattern piece to get a flat, wide collar.

So I am doing a GIVEAWAY of this pattern, Butterick 5451. To be eligible, you must have commented on my blog in the last six months. International entries welcome! I'll do a drawing next Monday, March 21 (or thereabouts). This is for the smaller size range, 8-14. The pattern is cut along the largest size line (14). I have altered the bodice as you can see in the photos but never subtracted any pattern tissue so it will only take a few moments to undo my alterations.

Apparently, though, this will be great to pull out for Fall. You Look Fab has identified black and cream as one of Fall's major trends, based on last month's runway shows. I am never this current! I made this simply because I had the fabric. But if anyone asks, I was inspired by Jason Wu, who made ample use of black and cream in his F2011 show.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

34 comments:

Sarah said...

I am pretty sure I have commented in the last 6 months, I certainly read, albeit in my google reader... And I have to say, I LOVE the dots. SO great and the perfect blend of retro/modern. It looks to be a great fun dress!

Debbie Cook said...

I hope your bad feelings for this dress fade fast because it is WONDERFUL on you! I also think the waist tie is perfect in the dark, because otherwise you'd only have 2 dark accents and these things always seem better in odd numbers. Plus the dark gives you waist definition and the light would just be lost.

(Don't enter me - I'll never be that size again.)

Sewfast said...

The dress really does look good on you, but I understand about "if it don't feel right, I ain't ever making that one again!" I'd give it a go, so throw my name in the hat...I'm a sucker for a wrap dress. Thanks!

Clio said...

Wow. Good job making a less than optimal pattern work! Um, I don't think I need to add this pattern to my "to do" list, but totally understand your need to banish it from your sewing room.

Rose said...

I love the contrast... but I think I have the same struggle as you, my inner cutesy-matchy voice tends to outweigh the grown-up voice.

(I try and imagine a couple of the women from work whose style I admire wearing something. If it passes the "Would so-and-so wear it?" test, then I go for it. It's made me less resistant to pinks and purples, which I had been shunning for fear of looking like I was trying too hard to be forever young.)

Audrey said...

Put this dress in storage for the summer and when you pull it out next fall, you will love it. It is unique,cute and the brown and cream colors really look good on you.

Rachel said...

I am pretty sure I have commented in the last 6 months--I have definitely read your blog. It is on my blogroll. I love your dress. You have a very good eye for marrying pattern with fabric.

Adelaide B said...

I need to be more like you and not endlessly muslin. (I never get anything done.) I admire your ability to just make changes on the fly. (I get that this style of working has its own complications.) I also love the polka dots, and have just realized that I own nothing with polka dots on it. This will need to be fixed!

Adelaide B said...

Oh yes, please do not enter me for the giveaway!

couturearts said...

ooooo. ahhhhhh. Great collar!

The Cupcake Goddess said...

It's a darling dress on you and is not too cutesy wootsy. I have the same problem and know exactly what you are talking about. In fact, I am on the brink of finishing a blouse that is too cutesy. I don't know if I can bring myself to wear it. Such poor planning of fabric on my part! You've done a darling job here. And don't enter me for the giveaway as I'm a newcomer to your blog. Just added you to my reader recently and this is my first comment!

xoxo,
Sunni

Stoffhamster said...

Your dress is so beautiful!!!
I would like to sew this dress too.
Greetings from germany!
BeAu*tiful/Bettina

FITZ said...

thanks for the review. i bought that and the other one you reference too since i also love me a wrap dress/top. not trying to win, just appreciating your comments on fit. i cut the pattern out already, the 5451, but hadn't gotten to tracing it quite yet.

Carol said...

Love, love, love this dress on you. I adore spots.

Melissa said...

OMGosh, that is such a cute dress!!!! Don't enter me in your contest tho, I have so many things I my sewing list, I can't even see straight.

KID, MD said...

So, I'm reading along, thinking, "What a great dress!" "Trena is a genius to add sleeves and contrast cuffs.", "Drafted for a busty girl? I need to get this pattern!" and you're giving it away! You are awesome!!

And my inner grownup loses the alarm clock battle nearly every morning...

Mary said...

trena, This is so wonderful on you. I love the turned back cuffs, and the color combination. I have this pattern and am hoping to make it up in a zebra stripe.

We are in Bisbee AZ right now and soaking up the art...oh my, wait until I post about the hats. :-)

Summer Flies said...

Treena this looks fabulous on you! I love polka dots and this is really stylish and flattering.
I'm sure I have posted on your blog before (I can't keep quiet even if I have to type!) but if I haven't I have been meaning to especially to say I think you have a fabulous sense of style and colour!
Anyway good luck to any who wish to have it .. like many entering I don't need another pattern but I do love it. Sofie

lizajane said...

Don't enter me because I'm coming out of the wood work, but I wanted to say I love this dress! I'm a sucker for polka dots. I love everything about this.

ELMO said...

The opening in that french seam is a masterpiece!! The dress is very cute.

Faye Lewis said...

ohhhhhh I love that dress!

HeathersSphere said...

You are rockin' the dots and the collar! You wear this dress so well because it complements your upbeat persona! The contrasting dotted backgrounds adds dramatic flair, and cutesy wutesy is the unthinkable. I don't see your dress as a fashion novelty -it has a timeless appeal Enjoy wearing this dazzling dress, especially for upcoming festivities and cocktails. You'll liven up the partay, lady!

AllisonC said...

I love the use of the two sides of the fabric = I can relate to going overboard with those kinds of things too, usually its only laziness that stops me! I also admire your perseverence in making patterns work for you, whatever it takes - it was definitely worth all that work here.

toboldlysew said...

I think it looks great! I'm sure in the depths of next winter it will cheer you up rather than now when we're all desperate to start wearing summer clothes and colours! Well done for persevering!

Big in Japan said...

Screw the grown ups! I like your dress!

montanachic said...

I think it is soooo cute, I love polka dots, and I think the contrast cuffs are perfect :)

TracyKM said...

I actually have a question about Butterick B5382, but I don't see a way to contact you directly. I know you did the one version with a one piece back (no zipper) by cutting on the fold. However, when I lay out my size (much bigger than yours), the lower back is curved in and doesn't follow the fold. Should I cut it as two pieces instead? (I don't know if maybe the smaller sizes have a straighter seam in the back).

Isabelle said...

I love your dress - and I love the double-sided polka dot fabric! I would love to be entered in your drawing - would love to make this dress too. Thank you for doing this!

Isabelle said...

Oops, that was a lot of loves!

kbenco said...

This dress looks so good on you. I think the autumnal colours with the exuberant polka dots balance each other out nicely.
I love the sleeves with turn back cuffs that you have added to the dress, they look really smart.

TracyKM said...

Thanks for answering! I'll post my response in my comments to keep it all together (basically, I think the larger sizes have a curve in the lower part of the upper bodice back, while the smaller sizes don't need it--and it's just a small curve).

jillnjosh said...

Treena, it looks great. Just let the Magic Closet do its thing, and the dress will be perfect in the fall.

TracyKM, if you cut B5382 on the fold, you could put in two darts in the lower back of the bodice, and accomplish the same thing as the curve.

A Sewn Wardrobe said...

The colors of this dress are so sophisticated - cream and "greige". I really like it.

Cennetta said...

Trena, I love this dress and it looks great.