crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Butterick 5523

Pattern: Butterick 5523 (Muse dress) size 8

Fabric: Dark teal Sophia doubleknit from

Shoes: Alfani (Macy’s, current season.)

Notes: Ok, Butterick – you are forgiven!  After 2 fails, I finally found a winning Butterick pattern.  Admittedly, the last 2 were just poor choices on my part.  This dress has all the things that make me like a dress – a rolled collar, 3/4 length sleeves, and an empire waist (controversial as they are, they do work on me for some reason.)

This dress was a very easy sew – I’d say it was about a 4 hour project.  I didn’t make a muslin (as I don’t for knits.)  What I do instead is change the order of sewing.  I sew the shoulders together, set in the sleeves flat, and then sew the skirt pieces to the bodice, but I wait until the very end to sew up the side seams and the sleeve seam in one pass.   That way if I need to make adjustments I won’t have any intersecting seams.  I also baste the side seams the first time to check for fit.  In this case I chose to take the sides in by 1/2″ total (making 6/8″ seams instead of 5/8″.)  It actually fit before, but I wanted to make sure in case it stretched.

The only thing that took a long time was slip-stitching down the collar.  I recommend taking your time and pinning carefully – you don’t want it to twist or it will look more like a cowl (you will note that the pattern photo looks like a cowl, but the storebought version (below) is much neater.  You may want to secure it with a few extra stitches to get it to stay neat.   I actually managed to strain my right thumb doing the handsewing on this dress (I have now determined that handsewing does me in worse than anything… I suppose there won’t be a lot of tailoring in my future!)

The Sophia knit was again lovely.  One caution – I found that with the dark color I needed to use a press cloth to avoid iron shine (I made my own out of a square of silk organza… it takes high heat well, but it’s see-through.)  The pattern had ok instructions for knits, because it actually realized that it didn’t need a zipper!  I don’t know why all the BMV patterns tell you to doublestitch your seams.  I use a narrow zigzag on my regular machine.  I rarely serge knits, I use my serger more for finishing seams than anything else.  The pattern runs a bit short – I took a narrower hem than called for, and I like this length, but I’m used to patterns giving you more to play with.

If I have any criticism of the pattern it’s the back – it looks ok, I suppose, but I feel that it should have less pleating, or that perhaps the pleating could be changed to gathers.  I did not add the button tab, but it’s only decorative anyway.  I couldn’t get mine to look even, so I decided it was better off without.   It’s worth noting that the model in the photos I found of the actual Muse dress is standing mighty funny in the rear view, so I’d imagine the issue is with the design, not the pattern.  It’s not a big deal to me anyway.

It’s probably too warm for this dress today (it’s supposed to be in the mid 70s) but I don’t care – I have an evening rehearsal in a cold theater, so I’d rather be warm!  This pattern is really highly recommended – it’s a great dress for winter!

18 thoughts on “Butterick 5523

  1. This dress looks great on you. I agree with the back of the dress. I think fewer gathers would be good but no big deal. Another winner for you. Hope to see something knit sometime.

  2. I love reading that empire waists are controversial! Because some women feel they look pregnant wearing clothes with empire waists, or some crazy historical context I was previously unaware of? I love this dress! Looks so right for winter.

  3. That dress really came out adorable. I love the empire waisted dresses too ~ makes us look taller, I think. You’re inspiring me to try this! Thanks 🙂

  4. I like this one! It’s perfect for winter. I’m not usually a fan of empire waists but this is a really sophisticated version! Pretty colour on you, too.

  5. You look terrific! What a fantastic color on you. Your dress turned out great and your review is very helpful. I just cut this one out and am getting ready to sew it and our tips will be quite helpful.

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