Friday, January 24, 2014

Butterick 5495, Gather Waist Border Print Knit Dress

B5495 Thumbnail

Cidell and I had a little tug-of-war over this fabric on our Pilgrimage to Fabric Mart in November 2012.  I won.  :-P  I figured I should sew up the fabric so that I wasn't being selfish for no reason.  It's ok to be selfish if there's a reason, right?  I perhaps should not have been so cruel as to force her to do the fashion photos, but a blogger's gotta do what she can to get good photos and she is my best photographer.

My first instinct with a border print is to go wrap dress, but I felt like that was too predictable so I dove into the pattern stash.  I made the Knip Mode version of this top in December 2008 and it is still in my closet but I don't *quite* love it as it is a little shapeless through the waist area.  From the PR reviews, the Butterick looked a little less bulky and more fitted.  After much consideration, I decided I would take a chance on Butterick 5495.

I like the idea of the pattern with its belly-disguising front gathers, but my first order of business was to move the gather band from empire level closer to waist level.  After a triumphant run, the empire waist is over and I didn't want to feel dated.

Lengthening the pattern is a bit of a challenge because there is only a very small space between the end of the neckline and the loop placement.  I marked the center front and side front in that small space.

Lengthened Front Pieces

Then I cut along my markings and added 1 1/2 inches in length above the loop opening.  On the center front piece (on the right) you can see that the length is added juuuuust where the neckline slant squares off to become the center front seam.  My addition kept the neckline the same length so it wasn't a navel-plunger.

I wasn't entirely sure this would work with the gather moved lower, but my instincts were apparently pretty good--I later saw this lovely orange Ferragamo  ($1007) with a similar vibe.

The only downside to the lengthened front bodice is that if I wanted to make this into a top I'd have to cut off the bottoms of the rounded side front panels--the lower seam hits me quite low on the hip.

The dolman sleeves are cut as one with the bodice, and I thought this vertical print would make for a fun/interesting direction shift at the sleeves.  The effect turned out less noticeable than I expected it would, but it is still a nice subtle detail.

Overlay Back Piece on TNT Tee

As drafted, the back is cut on the fold.  With the extra fabric in the front I knew that was a recipe for a swayback disaster.  I used my TNT tee back pattern, laying it over the B5495 pattern.  This ensured that I transferred my broad back adjustment to the dress, as well as my swayback and waist shaping.

Back Pattern Piece

I traced the back pattern piece to a couple of inches below the waist, and then matched it to the back piece of my TNT knit skirt at the waist line.  I matched the length to the front skirt.  With my added 1 1/2 inches this was actually the perfect length for me, though the longest length is only supposed to be a tunic.

The side seam travels a bit toward the back as a result of my alterations--my TNT back is narrower than the more shapeless Butterick--but the fit is good and the fabric doesn't seem to drape funny or off-grain, so I'm ok with that.


I was careful in cutting to ensure that my borders matched up perfectly at the center back and side seams, but apparently I paid slightly less attention to how the motifs would work out at center back.  So I have some cell mitosis going on back there.  But at least the shaping is good!

I have two small gripes with the pattern.  The first is that I find the front facing a bit skimpy, though I haven't had issues with it popping out.

Gather Band OPenings

The second is the construction method at the horizontal seam intersection in the front where the loop is inserted.  The instructions have you clip to the seam allowance--fine, very standard procedure--but the design of the pieces and the construction method leaves you with essentially a raw edge at the point of loop insertion.  This poly jersey isn't going to fall apart or anything, I just don't think it looks nice.  Before I wore it the first time I went in and zigzagged those raw edges together, making the opening narrower and taking some of the strain off that raw edge.


I always feel uncreative with border prints and I didn't break any records with this one either.  I cut the skirt with the border at the bottom, and made "cuffs" with the border motif for the sleeves.  (The fabric is a double border print, and the top and bottom border are slightly different.  I used one border at the hem and the other border for the sleeve cuffs.)  I also used the border for the loop.  Perhaps I should think of my usage as "classic" rather than "boring."


Cidell had me try some new poses.  I look all fashiony.  I feel like this could appear in a Burda magazine as it doesn't show the dress at all, but is so cute you kind of want to make it anyway.

I am really happy with the dress. I received a surprising number of stranger compliments when I wore it out one day. I like that the sleeveless version of this pattern is drafted with shoulder coverage; I can see myself using that for summer.  In fact, maybe I have found a pattern special enough for some silk jersey I've been saving for several years now?

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


Trena and Cidell

The occasion for forcing Cidell to take these photos was our visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond over the long weekend.  The VMFA is hosting the Victoria & Albert Museum's Hollywood Costume Exhibit through February 17 and we just couldn't miss it.


This was my first visit to the VMFA and I was just blown away.  The building itself is gorgeous both inside and out, and except for special exhibits like the Hollywood one entrance is free(!).  They have an extensive and diverse collection.  We had a little bit of time to duck into the Art Deco and Art Nouveau sections with their incredible furniture and jewelry as well as visit the small exhibit of photos from the Civil Rights Movement in honor of MLK Day.

Then we met up with Tommie of Unseamly Girl and Meigan of Get My Stitch On and entered costume wonderland!  No photos are allowed in the exhibit, but there were so many people in there it would have been impossible to get photos anyway.  They have so many great things, including Marilyn Monroe's famous 7 Year Itch dress (her waist was so teeny!), the green dress from Atonement, and an impressive variety of costumes from Elizabeth, Shakespeare in Love, Dangerous Liaisons, and Marie Antoinette, among tons of other pieces.  It is laid out well and a real pleasure to see.  The only thing is, the ruby slippers that feature so prominently in the branding of the exhibit are reproductions!  The originals, of course, are in the Smithsonian right here in DC.  They do have one of Dorothy's original pinafores, as well as the Wicked Witch of the West's hat.

Tommie, Trena, Cidell, Meigan

Another great thing about the VMFA is that it has a swank restaurant on the third floor with beautiful cocktails and lovely dessert.  Perfect for getting to know some new sewing blogger friends!  Cidell and I had a great time with Tommie and Meigan and hope to see them again soon.  They were both wearing awesome clothes they had made.  Meigan's pink coat was incredible, and Tommie was so styling in her tissue knit top that she made me think I could actually make use of tissue knit.

If you can get to Richmond RUN, DON'T WALK to this incredible museum and exhibit.  All photos from our visit are here.


sewingkm said...

Love, love your newest dress. It has to be one of my favorites! Am jealous of your museum trip and blogger meet up.

Carole Mellin said...

How much fun was that visit! And your dress is perfect for that print. Cidell is a great photographer and I agree you should send that pose to Burda, lol.

Kelly D. said...

Lovely dress! I like your use of the border and the pattern alterations you did look fantastic. It is a special pattern!

Beth (SunnyGal Studio) said...

love that dress on you and what great fabric, the color combination is one of my favs. and your fun day at the museum, i sooo wish I could see it.

Isabelle said...

What a fantastic dress - I love this style and these colours on you. Love the matching glasses! Thanks to Cidell for the great pictures. It sounds like you had a grand time. :)

Taking this opportunity to wish you a wonderful 2014!

Nancy K said...

It's a good silhouette for you. It's flattering and pretty. You should definitely make it again. In a solid it would look totally different.

Juliane said...

Love your dress and the way you used the border print...have to add that the necklace adds a great POP of color! Enjoy.

Faye Lewis said...

It's gorgeous Trena. Love your use of the fabric's border at the sleeve.

Joy said...

This is lovely and really great with the border print - especially at the sleeves. You do well with wraps, but it is fun to see this unique style, too.

T. Sedai said...

It looks awesome! The use of the print with that pattern turned out really nice. Looks very stylish.

Mrs. Micawber said...

That exhibit sounds wonderful ... would love to have seen it!

The dress looks great - and what else would you do with the borders? I can't imagine putting those stripey bits anywhere else - they are absolutely right just where they are.

The glasses and necklace really make the look. I like that pop of red from the pendant. Loved the cell mitosis too! :)

Kristy said...

I think the changes you made to the pattern made it turn out so fantastic and flattering, I wouldn't have envisaged it could turn out so well from the pattern. Zand the curve to the print at the sleeves is definitely noticeable, a very nice feature

Lynn said...

I love what you did with the border print. Everything about this dress is great, and so are your stylish new glasses!

liza jane said...

I love that border print! Good call on wrestling that one away :) I love it with your turquoise glasses. And yes, that pose is straight out of Burda!

Little Hunting Creek said...

I love that border print-it is classic, and looks great on you.

Vicki said...

Wow, you did great things with that fabric! Love how you used the border. Lovely.

Meigan said...

Your photos came out great! You really did a wonderful job on this dress: a cool print, snazzy pattern, and stripes for pop! I'm glad I got to see it in person too! :)

Uta said...

Great dress, made even better by all the cute turquoise accessories. Cidell is a great photographer, the pictures are Burda-worthy indeed!

emadethis said...

I really like how the pattern is broken up by the gathering. Very cute dress, and what a great exhibit.

twotoast said...

Very pretty dress. I love how the print morphs around the gathers, looking as though it is from another, matching fabric!

McVal said...

Adorable!!! Especially with that print... Good job winning the fight!

Trumbelina said...

dress: awesome, glasses: awesome, hair: awesome. Definitely classic, not boring. I also think your instinct to lower the know to your waist was right on.

Jeanette said...

I just found your sewing blog. Do you live in the Richmond, VA area? I've been in this area for about 18 years. Keep up the good sewing work.