This dress is the trendy trifecta of the moment: colorblocking, lace, and back interest, oh my! I got the floral print at London Textiles during PR Weekend 2010 in Philadelphia. They were selling remnants for $3/yd. This was a not one yard piece.
I wanted to use this fabric for the one yard challenge, but I just couldn't eke a skirt out of it. It was a scant 42 inches wide and one of the selvages had a big hole in it that took it to about 40 inches wide, just too narrow to get a skirt out of. The fabric is too heavy for a top, so I actually put it into the giveaway bag. I thought it was just as well because I wouldn't have a top to go with the skirt anyway.
Then I was suddenly inspired by/jealous of Cidell's Sailabration outfits to use it for a colorblocked dress. With lace such a big trend right now I had been wanting to work lace into a garment and voila! The lace is from Jomar in Philly; I've already used it in a dress and a skirt.
I was drawn to Butterick 5601 because of the simple shape with the back surprise. Although my taste runs to all the subtlety of a circus tent, I do like a simple piece with just one wow factor. From a design perspective I'm surprised this pattern has so few reviews, though having made it up I can say that perhaps it's a mercy.
Like a lot of Big 4 patterns, it has some not-great drafting. The shape of the upper front bodice is just unnecessary. Look at that sharp curve and the long point on the pattern piece, and compare it with how much survives after the seam allowance is taken up. It's just sloppy drafting.
The bodice is cut straight across the neckline from front to back, meaning it sits really, really high under the arms as drafted (as you can see at right). That is just asking for yellow armpit stains, not to mention the discomfort.
When I sewed the lining in place I just dipped down between the front and back strap attachment lines.
I lowered the armscye about an inch, and there is still more than an inch of fabric above my bra band.
The diagonal center line of the back strap was gaping when I pinned the dress together, which I expected. As a crude fix, I placed the center of the back straps beyond the upper edge of the bodice when stitching it in place, thereby shortening the back strap at the center, tapering to nothing at the side.
In the front, I placed the front shoulder straps closer to center front than marked due to my narrow shoulders.
I can't say that the straight neckline is the most flattering to my small bust. Also, when I sewed in the lining the front neckline started gaping. Not enough to do anything about, just enough to be annoying. And I'm not entirely convinced that I placed the front straps exactly symmetrically (or it could be my asymmetric body; one shoulder is slightly higher than the other but I ignore it in fitting. I am just not going to get into side-specific fitting). The right one could be shortened at CF and moved in a squidge.
To make up a bit for my sloppiness with the upper bodice, I am quite proud of the perfect waist seam match at the zipper. It was important to get it right on this project because the two different fabrics meet there and any mismatch would be obvious.
I lined only the bodice, hand stitching it to the waist seam. I interfaced the lining at the upper and zipper edges to give it the body needed to shape the neckline and stand up to the zipper. The skirt fabric is thick enough not to need lining, and given how hot it's been lately I don't need any extra fabric! The skirt fabric is also stretchy enough to bike with the walking slit.
As drafted, the hemline on this is quite short, which really never happens to me at 5'1". To get it my preferred length, I had to use a hem facing with a small seam allowance at the lower edge of the skirt.
To reduce bulk at the walking slit, I ended the hem facing about half inch past where the folded-in edge of the slit would rest.
Once the hem facing was in place and the hem was sewn (machine blind stitch), I folded the slit facing over the hem allowance and catch-stitched it in place.
The final result is a neat finish without extra fabric to weigh down or distort the walking slit.
The upper back bodice is meant to be closed with a button. I would have to significantly narrow the pattern for the edges to just meet for a button. I used a snap for a closure.
I would like to find a decorative button to sew over the snap, but I didn't have anything in stash.
The bad thing about colorblocking is that this dress used only tiny bits of several different fabrics, not enough to make me feel like it had any effect on the stash whatsoever!
I'm not sure I would sew this pattern again, just because it's so distinctive. Also, it would need a lot of little alterations, adding up to a huge pain in the @ss, to fully live up to its potential--narrowing and possibly lowering the front neckline, narrowing the back neckline, properly drafting in a shaped lower armscye, redrafting the back upper bodice to prevent gape, narrowing the back upper bodice to use the button closure, etc. etc. etc.--which is another point against making it again.
All that said, I really like this dress. It's flattering, the different fabrics and back interest are fun, and it plays into trends without being exactly what everyone else is wearing.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.